Friday, May 19, 2017

I Shall Be Released | Parashat Behar~Bechukotai | By His EVERY Word


Parashat Behar~Bechukotai
פרשת בהר־בחקתי

“On the Mountain” ~ “In My Statutes”

Torah Portion(s):Leviticus 25:1-26:2 / 26:3-27:34
Haftarah(s): Jeremiah 32:6-27 / 16:19-17:14
B’rit Chadashah/New Covenant: Matthew 21:33-46

Shabbat | 20 May 2017 | 24 Iyyar 5777 | Day 39 of the Omer 


Jerusalem Day 2017


Special Observance: Yom Yerushalayim יום ירושלים (Jerusalem Day) Twilight Tuesday, May 23 through Twilight Wednesday, May 24  
Jerusalem Day is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the miraculous reunification of Jerusalem and return of sovereignty over the Old City at the conclusion of the Six Day War in 1967. Jerusalem Day was established to thank God for answering the 2,000 year old prayer, "Next Year in Jerusalem!"
PRESIDENT TRUMP TO VISIT JERUSALEM
It's notable to mention that amid much media confusion, many Israelis consider it "momentous" that "the President of the United States wants to come to Israel on [what is] probably one of the happiest days in Israel's existence, the 50th anniversary of Yerushalyim's (Jerusalem) reunification, liberation." (Dr. Frager, Arutz Sheva) Most consider this the most pro-Israel Administration in U.S. history and do not expect President Trump to pressure Israel toward an unrealistic peace deal as the previous President did, although he will be meeting with P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, And whose hope is the LORD
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, 
and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, 
And will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit.” 


Jeremiah 17:7-8
The servant of Adonai recognizes that all things are sacred. Our lives are not our own—we are His—our very breath given, to live a life that will bring Him glory. Likewise, all creation testifies to His majesty. As Divine Sovereign, Adonai commands the seasons and natural lawsthe Empyrean Conductor, He orchestrates His magnum opus, from the evanescent to eternity. 

From the Divine Command, the heavens, the earth, the sun, and the moon were formed. It was at His desire that mankind was formed from dust and became a living being, carrying the 'ruach'the breath and spiritof his creator. 


Into His creation, the Divine Conductor imbued rhythms: “As long as the earth endures,” night and day, springtime and harvest, and His Appointed Times. Times of renewal ... Times of refreshing ... Times of lifting burdens ... And times of being set free.... 


In these last readings of the book of Leviticus, 
Adonai once again entreats His People: 
“Rest!” 
Not only Israel, 
but the land
the animals
the sojourner
the servant
and the foreigner 
who trusts in Israel’s God, 
is granted rest and relief from labor

Oh, that we would trust Him! 

To His children, 
Adonai is faithful 
in provision, protection, and peace
For all the world is His. Psalm 24:1 

How we treat one another is also ultimately spiritual. Our merciful God intended that His People would care for one another with an open hand, and not be crushed under debt. So, along with the daunting warning and admonition put before Israel of blessings or curses, rejoice as you learn of the Shemittah (the Sabbath Year) and the Yovel (the Year of Jubilee), the blessings of trusting in our faithful and Holy God!
Join us now at the Father’s table as we keep the rhythm of Israel for more than two millennia, anticipating fresh manna from our God and King. As followers of Messiah we have added a corresponding New Covenant portion reflecting the fulfillment and crown of the Torah.

Jerusalem Day ~ Yom Yerushalayim  יום ירושלים  

I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there...” II Chronicles 6:6


This May 20th, Israel celebrates Jerusalem Day (in Hebrew, Yom Yerushalayim יום ירושלים), a national holiday established to thank God for restoring Jerusalem, the City of the Great KingThis restoration came to the Jewish People after nearly 2,000 years  and following the miraculous victory of the Six Day War of 1967. 

Israel continues to be surrounded by vicious enemies threatening her annihilation. Is it because the knowledge of the One True God comes forth from Zion? Perhaps it is because  from her loins sprang the Savior of mankind. Still, she continues to richly bless the world with medical, scientific, and technological benefits that border on the miraculous for such a small, young state! Yet she has nary a nation willing to stand with her, and suffers ever escalating hostility and prejudice from the western world. The Holy One of Israel alone is her shield. Adonai continues to entreat her, “If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them ... you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. I will give peace in the land...” Leviticus 26:3-6  



Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem! During May, the Arabs mark Naqba Day (meaning "the Catastrophe," referring to Israel's Independence Day in 1948) with violence toward Israeli Jews and concerted PR campaigns targeting the western world to rouse sentiment against Israel and the Jews. They level outlandishly false accusations against Israel; accusations of “holocaust, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing” perpetrated upon the Palestinian Arabs. 
BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) movements (planted by radical Islamists) have found strong support on many American campuses, among major Christian denominations, and affected western commerce and some European nations' trade policies with Israel—all based on lies and propaganda.
As the western world does not investigate the veracity of these outrageous indictments, they are accepted without question, and anti-Semitism grows against the singular bastion of human rights in the Middle East. One investigative journalist spent four years in the region researching the truth and found it to be the exact opposite of what the Arab world has claimed
Excellent Resource: Former Muslims Speaking the Truth 

"I was glad when they said to me, 'Let us go into the house of the LORD.'
Our feet have been standing Within your gates, O Jerusalem!
Jerusalem is built As a city that is compact together,
Where the tribes go up, The tribes of the LORD
To the Testimony of Israel, To give thanks to the name of the LORD.
For thrones are set there for judgment, The thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: 'May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls, Prosperity within your palaces.'
For the sake of my brethren and companions, 
I will now say, 'Peace be within you.'
Because of the house of the LORD our God 
I will seek your good."
Psalm 122




Leviticus 25:1-55  Trust in the LORD Your God




The Shemittah

“And the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the LORD. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, [for] it is a year of rest for the land. And the sabbath [produce] of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that [are] in your landall its produce shall be for food.” vs. 1-7
The Kingdom of Adonai operates in utter opposition to all world systems. The world presses us to work, work, work until all quality of life is lost, and to wring every drop of resource at one’s fingertips—from time, employees, and land—in an effort to grow profits higher and higher. 

While our beneficent King, Adonai, says, “Rest!” Even the land and the animals must have their rest! And this commandment is not only for Israel, but also for the Gentiles who have joined themselves to Israel and her God. 


Is this harsh and legalistic? In a barbaric world eons before labor laws, quite the opposite! This may be one reason that servants, also rendered slaves* chose not go free from Israeli masters in the ancient world, but willingly became bondservants.

*SLAVE or SERVANT ~ The Biblical Concept
Let's take a look at the terminology slave in biblical concept before moving on. Most of us will likely attach a highly negative connotation to that word. (With good historic reason!) Slave is possibly an unfortunate choice in translating the Hebrew word, eh'·ved עֶבֶד. Although it may properly be translated as slave, it is the same word rendered: servants, worshippers (of God)(in special sense as prophets, Levites etc), (of Israel), servant (as form of address between equals).
Thus, the biblical word rendered slave does not present the proper understand in today's context.
“...for your livestock and the beasts...” 
Hebrew commentaries note that the Divine Promise in this verse reminds us that Scripture reveals Adonai’s tender regard for the animals of His Creation. In Proverbs 12:10, God defines a righteous man as one who regards/perceives and sees/considers the life of his animal.


The Shemittah~The LORD's Release
The Sabbath Year (in Hebrew shemittah, שמטה, Strong's 8059), is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah. This began with their entrance into the Land of Israel. During Shemittah, the land is left to rest—lie fallow—and all agricultural activity ceases. There is no plowing, planting, pruning, or harvesting. The term shemittah is translated “rest” in Exodus 23:11, and “[the LORD’s] release” in Deuteronomy 15:2.


"I see my light come shining
From the west unto the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released..."


Bob Dylan, ©1967

There is something in the soul of man that urges us to cast off shackles ... to be free. Yet without Divine wisdom, we haven't the eyes to see that the jailer is the one who deceives us with false promises of fulfilling the desires of our flesh. True freedom comes singularly from the One our carnal nature struggles against like a drowning man, clawing for air. Our sin nature imprisons us with a sentence of inner corruption and enslavement to an insatiable taskmaster.

On the way to Damascus to attend to important matters seemingly "good," the excellent Pharisee Sha'ul, was apprehended by Israel's Messiah, who called to him in Hebrew: "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads!" (Acts 26:14) He was forever changed. Although his physical sight was taken from him for a season, his spiritual eyes were opened! He was a Pharisee of Pharisees—he knew and lived the Word of God. Yet, he now "grokked"—deeply understood the deeper meanings and the prophetic truths by the Holy Spirit of God! The Word had become living and active, imbued with the power and authority it never had before. His authority as a leader in the Temple was now subjugated to the authority of Yeshua, the long-awaited Messiah of Israel, in whom ALL AUTHORITY on earth and in heaven resides! Matthew 28:18)
Strong's Concordance defines the Greek word rendered goad: κέντρονan (ke'n-tron) An iron goad, for urging on oxen, horses and other beasts of burden, hence the proverb, "to kick against the goad." 
Each of us need a Damascus Road experienceperhaps more than one. We need to fully "grok"—be apprehended by Yeshua as LORD, King Messiah, and Redeemer! AND we need to be thoroughly changed—our eyes opened to embrace the authority of God and the truth of His Word—even if it means UN-learning traditional "truths" and comfortable doctrines. 
Sha'ul, who was also called Paul, having been endowed with heavenly wisdom, exhorted Timothy: "I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ...He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords..." 1 Timothy 6:13-15 
"The "commandment" is the "Law," or Torah. It is the exact same word used throughout the Gospels when Yeshua rebuked the Pharisees for violating Torah, or the "Law." Indeed, Yeshua said in Matthew 5:17-19 that He did not come to abolish the Law (Torah), but to fulfill. (fully preach, rightly interpret, fill full) Let us not "kick against the goads," and reject Yeshua's authority. Paul said we can imitate him because he imitates Yeshua. (1 Corinthians 11:1) He upholds all that Yeshua spoke,(indeed he has to, or he would be a false prophet!) 
Therefore, we need to interpret his words in this light, rather than using the few ambiguous NT texts to abrogate the foundation of the faith, thinking we are obtaining freedom ... from what? From that which God says actually gives us liberty? (Psalm 119:45) Or from the very embodiment of the WordYeshua? 
"The words of wise men are like goads, and masters of these collections are like well-driven nails; they are given by one Shepherd." Ecclesiastes 12:11 (If you are wise, you will know who that Shepherd is!)
“...a Sabbath to the LORD...” Leviticus 25:2,4


Somehow we tend to miss the part about the Sabbath being, “the LORD’s.”

Yeshua said the Sabbath was made for man
anthrōpos in Greek, meaning mankindMark 2:27


Throughout the Scriptures, Adonai is emphatic regarding the issue of sanctifying His Sabbaths. Is it a burdensome thing to ask of His children to rest and trust in Him, so that the world will see our devotion and glorify His Name?

Just as mankind is afforded a rest on the seventh day and in the seventh year the land also, both are held in a trust, ultimately belonging to Adonai. Thus the Sabbaths represent and reaffirm man's attendant responsibilities as inheritors of a grand creation from the Divine Creator. Hebrew commentary writer, F. Perles: "Just as the freedom of the individual is a fundamental principle of the Torah, so is the freedom of the land from the absolute ownership of man." The Shabbat and Shemittah clearly declare that man owns nothing and is owned by no one, save his Creator. Life and all that sustains it is simply a Divine gift, and we the benefactors, have simply to respond with open hands, hearts, and lives to the Divine giver of all. 
I think some of us are dogmatic on the point of non-observance of the Sabbath because we believe it is a “work,” which of course is a bit of an oxymoron. Besides, the only “works” that are warned against in the New Covenant are those that are a substitute for trusting in Yeshua for salvation. Once redeemed, the redeemed should live a life of faithfulness—evident by their works. Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 2:10, 1 Timothy 5:25, 6:18, Titus 2:7,14, 3:8,14, Hebrews 10:24, James 2:17-26

Although we may feel confident in our theology, and the legacy of our Christian traditions, are we absolutely certain the Almighty doesn’t see the typical Christian view on the Sabbath as defiance against His Holy Word? Israel repeatedly took her fate into her own hands—leaned on her own understanding, rather than leaning on her Maker and His Word—and fell into grievous error. She was warned by prophets, that judgment would come. II Chronicles 36:17-21 records the horrifying Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem following the warnings of Jeremiah and many others
The Babylonian captivity lasted 70 years. The kings of Judah had defiled the Temple and transgressed grievously before Adonai. Israel had neglected the shemittah, the Sabbath Year, for 490 years—now owing 70 Sabbath Years to the LORD. What was not given willingly, Adonai reclaimed during Judah’s 70 year Babylonian captivity! “...until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths. As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”

For 70 years the land of Israel lay fallow and received its due rest. Why? Did Adonai care so much for the land? Of course not. The real reason is the overworked land represented a turning away from Adonai as Provider and King—determination to self-rule and reliance. Another word for it is defiance. By not sanctifying His Sabbaths, it brought reproach to His Holy Name before the nations. Therefore, He lifted His arm of protection from them. Adonai allowed Israel to experience what it is to have no God at all, and have to depend on their own strength. 
Israel is Our Example
"Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come."
1 Corinthians 10:11

Too Long in the Sun?

Christian observance of the Sabbath (with the other biblical observances) was uniformly outlawed from the time of Constantine. (Constantine, who was head of the pagan church as well as the new Christian church did not become a true believer in Jesus until he was on his deathbed.) These observances were deemed practices of the detestable Jewish crowd," to be avoided, "... so that we might have nothing in common with that nation of parricides who slew their Lord. Eusebius Pamphilius: Church History, Life of Constantine, Oration in Praise of Constantine, Chapters 18 and 19

By that time, Constantine’s decree to “rest upon the venerable day of the sun had become firm Church doctrine. However, inspired by the Bible, available in common language in the sixteenth century, small groups of Protestants in Europe began to revive the observance of the Fourth (sometimes called the "third" at that time) Commandment. 


Many zealous to recover the purity of the first church, were grieved that the Divine commandments and observances had been perverted by Emperor Constantine, the early councils, and the Catholic Church—not based on Scripture, but cultural bias. 





As the Lord places great emphasis on His Sabbath, and it remains one of the Ten Commandments, its observance became an important reformation issue for these groups, such as the Dutch Anabaptists. Unfortunately, even beyond the Roman Church, great prejudice remained, and many found themselves imprisoned, such as John Traske of 16th century England. 

There are many profound and insightful writings from Christian Sabbatarians from the European continent from the 1500s through the 1800s. 


The following is one I hope you will find enriching from Jabez Burns, written in 1851, which also dovetails with our current Parashat:
"An Earnest Address to the Profaners of God’s Sabbath
The Lord’s Sabbath and True ReligionHonoring a Holy God 
“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day: and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honorable; and shalt honor him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words: then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father; for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.” —Isaiah 58:13,14 
"The subject of the sanctification of the sabbath has, of late, extensively engaged the attention of the disciples of Christ. Many persons have professed to doubt the divine obligation of Christians to it; they say, it was only binding upon the Jews under an inferior dispensation. 
"The sabbath was instituted during man’s innocency in Eden; afterwards it was placed in the moral code of the ten commandments; it was associated with the most blessed promises, and its violation with the most terrible threatenings. Its repeal is never hinted at.  
"The Sabbath Given for Mankind
It is said expressly, “The sabbath was made for man.” Not for the Jew or Gentile, but for the species, for all mankind, even to the end of the world. Now Christ being Lord of all, was Lord of the sabbath.
"We fear, then, that all disputes on the subject have arisen more from the heart than the head; and, on the ground of the divine word, we call upon all who love the Lord Jesus Christ, to remember His sabbath, to keep it holy. 
"Listen, then, to the beautiful statements of the evangelical prophet. Observe, 
"The things which the text prohibits. We are,
  • Not to do our own ways.
  • That is, not to attend to our own lawful concerns; not to buy or to sell; not to work or employ others, except in case of evident necessity and mercy, see Exod. 20:8.  
  • We are not to seek our own pleasure.
  • It is not to be a day of worldly recreation; amusements, and mere entertainment. (Note: How often a soul’s downfall traces its inception to a misspent Friday night!)
  • We are not to engage in worldly conversation,
  • foolish jestings are never seasonable, but conversation about trade and commerce, news and politics, are all unprofitable and improper on this day. 
    Observe what is enjoined,
  • We are to call the sabbath a delight.
  • To look upon it as such; to reckon it not a toil, and not so much a duty and a load as a delight, a privilege, a blessing. Now if we feel thus and call it so,
  • We shall hail its approach.
     “Welcome sweet day of rest
        That saw the Lord arise,

  Welcome to this reviving breast

   And these rejoicing eyes.”

  • We shall enjoy its exercises;
  • we shall feel it to be a day of freedom, of holy pleasure, and enjoyment.
  • We shall reflect upon it with delight;
  • recall its scenes, revive its events, meditate upon its services.
  • We must esteem  it the holy of the Lord.
  • The Lord’s day; his holy or sacred day; hence we shall labor to spend it in a holy manner, not negatively, merely avoiding sin, but earnestly seeking holy influences and blessings. The reading will be holy, conversation, meditation, songs, praying, etc. Thus we shall keep the Lord’s sabbath day.
  • We must call it honourable.
  • The day God has honored, Christ has honored, saints of old, apostles, and confessors; and the day the great church of Christ honors; the soul’s chief day, day for spiritual things, the sabbath, which is typical of the heavenly rest. We shall give it fully to God and divine things; we shall exalt God and extend his glory; imitate God, and do good to our fellow-men. 
"Let me press this subject upon the solemn attention of the professors of religion; they must make a stand agains sabbath profanation; their principles require it, their comfort and usefulness. Be careful in small matters, consider all connected with you; think of the glory of the Saviour, the purity of the church; think of the holy sabbath.
"True religion consists in serving the LORD.  
"This service implies:
  • A knowledge of his character and will.
  • This must precede every other department of God’s service. To know God, as revealed in his word; to know his will concerning his creatures.
  • A right state of heart towards God.
  • This is not natural to man! Men are at enmity with God—do not love or approve of God—therefore are not disposed to serve him. An entire change of heart is essential; the carnal principle must be slain; a spirit of love and delight [in HIS word, HIS way, HIS desire] be imparted; this takes place in regeneration.
  • A constant waiting upon God.
  • To learn HIS mind; to know HIS designs concerning us; to hear HIS commands; to be counselled (sic) by him.
  • Sincere obedience to God’s authority.
  • Keeping his statutes from the heart, and walking in his ordinances, to do them. Having his law in our heart, and exemplifying it in our conversation and life. Thus we must personally serve God.
  • This alone will enable persons rightly to understand relative religion.
  • How can they instruct, direct, counsel, their families, unless they know and serve God themselves?
SABBATH-KEEPING ANABAPTISTS

The Sabbatarian movement of the 1500s was sparked by a fervency in the early Reformation toward the literal interpretation of both Old and New Testaments, prominent among Anabaptists. Although many writings have been lost (deemed heretical and thus destroyed), two Sabbatarian Anabaptist leaders from the era are well known: Oswald Glait and Andreas Fischer. Both men were scholars and theologians, and had been Catholic priests before coming to the Anabaptist movement.

OPPOSED BY MARTIN LUTHER


His antipathy already growing against the Jews, and assuming that Jewish influence lay at the roots of the Sabbatarian movement, Martin Luther wrote strong treatises against the Sabbatarians. In his 1535, “Lectures on Genesis,” Luther remarked, “In our time there arose in Moravia a foolish kind of people, the Sabbatarians, who maintain that the Sabbath must be observed after the fashion of the Jews. Perhaps they will insist on circumcision also, for a like reason,” and referenced them as, “the Jews and their apes, the Sabbatarians.”

By 1543, Luther’s three last writings against the Jews were so vulgar and vehement that even some of his contemporaries were offended. Unfortunately, his polemics against embracing the Sabbath and the “Old Testament Law” as Jewish and a curse, served to reinforce Catholic doctrine and profoundly impact the protestant movement, with the exception of the Puritans after the 1619 conclusions of the Synod of Dort, who largely adopted Sabbatarianism in the 17th century.

Following are a few of Fischer's (referenced above) statements regarding the Sabbath:
"The Ten Commandments of God are ten covenant words in which the external Sabbath is instituted and included. Where the Sabbath is not kept, one trespasses the commandments of God and there remain only eight (sic) covenant words. (The first is thereby transgressed.)

"Moses, the prophets, including the apostles, who are teachers in the New Testament, all teach the Ten Commandments to which also the Sabbath belongs; therefore, one should keep it.

"In the New Testament it is commanded that the Ten Commandments are to be kept; therefore also the Sabbath.

"Christ works the commandments of God, which is the will of His Father, into believing hearts. He makes known His work, law, and commandment, to which belongs also the Sabbath of Moses, which one should keep.

"The Sabbath [commandment] is one of the big commandments; therefore, one should keep it.
"Through faith we establish the law, Romans 3; therefore also the Sabbath.

"The first and oldest fathers [patriarchs] have kept the commandments of God, before Moses. Therefore, they had also to keep the external Sabbath, otherwise they would not have kept the Ten Commandments of God. . . . For this reason one should keep the Sabbath visibly in Christendom according to the law.

"James declares, 'If someone says he keeps the whole law but fails in one point he has become guilty of breaking all of it; he has become a transgressor of the law.' Pray tell, can or may the Sabbath be an exception?

"Paul repeats the law, but the law includes the Sabbath, which is generally understood; and when the other apostles refer to one or two of the commandments they refer to the tables, the covenant of God.
"Paul and the apostles held meetings on the Sabbath.

"The Scriptures speak so often about the Sabbath; if I would have as many texts and passages about Sunday as there are about Sabbath, I would keep Sunday instead of Sabbath.

"Christ, the apostles, and all early fathers [of the church] have kept holy the Sabbath day.

"Pope Victor and Emperor Constantine are the first ones who ordered that Sunday should be kept; it is also issued in the Decretal; but God instituted and ordered the [keeping of the] Sabbath.

"All assemblies of Christians were held on Sabbath for many years after Christ's time.”
    ~I offer this disclaimer: The observance of the Sabbath, like every other commandment, of which there are more than one thousand from Genesis to maps, is not a salvation issue. If you are a follower of Messiah Yeshua, His sacrifice has made atonement for you. Having received such a glorious and gracious gift, how then shall we live to glorify our God and King? Perhaps the least one can do is embrace with his mind and heart, God’s Ten Commandments, and attempt to conform his life to them by the power of His Holy Spirit—that His Name be will be honored and sanctified... (Editor)
The Glorious Year of Jubilee
Sound the trumpet! Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the land to all its inhabitants!
“And you shall count seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years; and the time of the seven sabbaths of years shall be to you forty-nine years. Then you shall cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth [day] of the seventh month; on the Day of Atonement you shall make the trumpet to sound throughout all your land. And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout [all] the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you; and each of you shall return to his possession, and each of you shall return to his family.  
That fiftieth year shall be a Jubilee to you; in it you shall neither sow nor reap what grows of its own accord, nor gather [the grapes] of your untended vine. For it [is] the Jubilee; it shall be holy to you; you shall eat its produce from the field. In this Year of Jubilee, each of you shall return to his possession. 
“And if you sell anything to your neighbor or buy from your neighbor's hand, you shall not oppress one another. Therefore you shall not oppress one another, but you shall fear your God; for I [am] the LORD your God. So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them; and you will dwell in the land in safety. Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety. And if you say, ‘What shall we eat in the seventh year, since we shall not sow nor gather in our produce? Then I will command My blessing on you in the sixth year, and it will bring forth produce enough for three years.’" vs. 8-21
The Year of Jubilee (in Hebrew, Yōvel יובל ) literally means, a Jubilee Year. Every fiftieth year Hebrew servants with their families are to be emancipated, debts and loans forgiven, and property returned to its original owner. 

This is an insurance policy against crushing poverty destroying a family line, as well as guarding against developing warlord-like lust to becoming a land baron. Adonai did not want His People pillaging and raiding like the heathens. He was imparting an entirely different spirit within His People Israel.
It is not the protection of property, but the protection of humanity, that is the aim of the Mosaic Code. Its Sabbath day and Sabbath year secure even to the lowliest, rest and leisure. With the blast of the jubilee trumpet the slave goes free, and a redivision of the land secures again to the poorest his fair share in the bounty of the common Creator.” Henry George, 1879

Like the Sabbath Year, there is neither sowing nor reaping, but here there is a miraculous difference: Adonai will bless the sixth year for the obedient Nation, and the land will bring forth produce enough to sustain His People for three years! You ask how the Almighty is glorified when His People live in obedience and harmony with His Will? They need not depend on the strength of their own arm for protection, and provision, or the natural laws for rain and crops. For the earth is the LORD’s and all its fullness (Psalm 24:1), and by His own Name, He has promised provision, protection, and peace for those who fear and trust Him. 
“The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine...” v. 23 We are reminded that the land of Israel is not the exclusive possession of man; it is held in trust for Adonai.  
The People Israel are inextricably tied to the Land because they are inextricably tied to their God, the Holy One of Israel. Throughout the Scriptures, the Almighty has Covenantally assigned His Land to the Children of Abraham through Isaac—for His own purposes in the earth. It is a minuscule speck of Land without any value—no oil, precious minerals, strategic seaport, etc. Its only value is that it is where the Creator has placed His Name and His Covenant People, and where the great redemption drama is unfolding unto the Final Day. 
This is why Israel is a Land in contention. But all who contend for her are contending with Almighty God. Guess who will win...
If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan [and] to be your God. And if one of your brethren [who dwells] by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee. And then he shall depart from youhe and his children with himand shall return to his own family. He shall return to the possession of his fathers. For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. You shall not rule over him with rigor, but you shall fear your God. vs. 35-43
“... falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him...” v. 35

What a revolutionary idea in contrast to the treatment of the poor in the ancient world! In ancient Rome, an impoverished debtor could be imprisoned in his creditor’s private dungeon, chained, abused, and sold away into slavery or put to death. The Roman Law of Twelve Tables allowed a man to be hewn into pieces if he owed debts to many that he could not pay! 
Adonai worked the great principle of “love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18) deeply into the Hebrew character through many such statutes—always equating it with fearing God and righteousness—thereby creating a deep sense of social conscience and responsibility among the Jewish People, even to this day. That’s why you often see the Jewish People at the forefront of social causes to relieve human suffering, or defend human rights. If not Orthodox or Messianic, most will not have a biblical filter to guide this God-given attribute, and so may be swept up in liberal/progressive agendas utterly contrary to God’s Word for the sake of perceived human relief or rights.
Contained in the teaching of Torah is the foundational truth that is expressed in the U.S. Declaration of Independence: "...all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." The dignity of humanity, forged in the image of God, and ever existing under His Divine sovereignty is key to understanding the architecture of His Kingdom. It is not the equality preached by communism or socialism. Those were "isms"—systems created by men not submitted to God's ways or wisdom.

“...no usury or interest from him; but fear your God...” v. 36
Rabbi J.H. Hertz notes that to take advantage of the dire need of the poor is contrary to all decent human feeling.  “Whenever this phrase is used it refers to matters that are part of heart-religion, (Sifra) i.e., part of natural piety and fundamental humanity in our dealings with fellowmen.”

Adonai uses this phrase “but fear your God” in the Scriptures in contrast to the heathen who do unspeakable and cruel things precisely because they do not fear God. His People bear a distinguishing mark by their behavior because they fear or have reverence for their God.


“...they shall not be sold as slaves...” v. 42

No Israelite was to be in permanent servitude or suffer loss of family, life, land, or human dignity. Every Israelite was bound as a member of the “congregation of Israel” to help restore his brother with an open handed attitude. The wealthy would not rule over the less fortunate, nor take advantage of his circumstances, remembering that the LORD redeemed them all out of Egypt—they are all his servants now

Slavery in Israel was worlds apart from that of the nations. The rules that regulate the relationship between a Hebrew master and servant are greatly detailed, and based on the principle that master and man are kinsmen. Therefore the servant is not fed or housed in an inferior manner and kindness is to characterize the Israelite master in his relationship with his unfortunate brother.

The non-Israelite also benefitted from the high standards required by Adonai. The standards of treatment accorded the Hebrew servant could not be more different from that of the wonton cruelty of the ancient world, as well as that of slavery in the modern western world. 


Detestable and unthinkable were the common tolerances toward slaves in ancient Greece and Rome. Considered nothing more than animated tools, or beasts of burden, no abuse, mutilation, or barbarism was too offensive, and no freedom other than murder or death awaited the unfortunate. In contrast, consider Eliezer of Abraham’s household as described in Genesis 24. 


Adonai said that within Israel, all that was dehumanizing or cruel about slavery was forbidden. 
Consider, in the ancient world, if you were not a land owner, merchant, or royalty, you had to work for others. You had no employment agencies or unions to find you suitable work or to set laws to protect you. Essentially, all were "slaves."
In the ancient world, this was brutal. There were no days off, no sick leave, holidays, or vacation pay. You were worked to death.

Adonai's love for His creation set entirely new standards, unheard of in this barbaric world. A day of rest? Really?! What a testimony of a loving God among the nations!

And we call His day of rest "work?" We have lost something very precious.

More than experiencing the joy of pleasing our Master by walking in His ways, we have lost these wonderful treasures contained in His Word ... that reveal His lovingkindness to the world.

Leviticus 26:3-46  Walk in the Fullness of the LORD Your God
After having declared the highest law and rooted all human duty, both to God and man, in the Holiness-ideal—‘Ye shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy’—the Lawgiver endeavours to enlist man’s natural fear and hope as allies of that sublime principle. In startling and indeed in terrifying form, he contrasts the blessings, in the event of faithfulness to God, with the dire calamities, if the people prove disloyal to Him. The promises, and, alas, also the warnings in this chapter have abundantly been borne out by Jewish history. FROM THE PENTATEUCH AND HAFTARAHS, SONCINO PRESS, 1938, CHIEF RABBI DR. J.H. HERTZ

Adonai Desires to Bless His People
You shall not make idols for yourselves; neither a carved image nor a sacred pillar shall you rear up for yourselves; nor shall you set up an engraved stone in your land, to bow down to it; for I am the LORD your God.  
You shall keep My Sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary: I am the LORD 
“If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them, then I will give you rain in its season, the land shall yield its produce, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land. You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you. For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you. You shall eat the old harvest, and clear out the old because of the new.  
I will set My tabernacle among you, and My soul shall not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.  
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright. vs. 1-13
“You shall not make idols ... shall keep My Sabbaths ... reverence My sanctuary: I am the LORD.vs. 1-2
How do we please the LORD, and show Him the reverence He is worthy of? An idol or sacred pillar in the ancient world represented—and advertised for all to see—the deity that one trusted in or that held prominence over their tribe. This is a test of allegiance. 

Anything that we exalt, including knowledge and doctrine, above His Word is an idol. Anything that we desire more than His Presence, His holiness, or His glory is an idol. Once again, Adonai stresses the importance of keeping HIS Sabbaths. We reverence His sanctuary as we carry His Name before others in way that lifts His Name at all times, for we are the Temple of the Living God, remembering always that He is the LORD, Sovereign over all. 

“If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments, and perform them...”
Traditionally, Christianity dismisses these and like portions of Scripture as "outdated, relegated to another dispensation, oppressive, harsh, and/or only given to prove that it can’t be done. Therefore God sent Jesus to set man free from trying." It’s a fairly one-dimensional approach to painting the story of Israel (which comprises the lion’s share of the Bible) as irrelevant. 
The Wages of Disobedience
The blessings promised to Israel in verses 3-13 are painted with a broad stroke, speaking in glowing, general terms. 

Now the Prophet issues painful warnings in vivid detail in verses 14-39, cataloguing the horrific consequences that await this most blessed Nation once she provokes her God to turn His Face against her by turning her back on Him, her loving Master, gracious God, Guardian and Protector. It is terrifying to view these verses in light of the heartbreaking and catastrophic history Israel has suffered at the hands of the nations. 

Did God intend the extent of the egregious and monstrous acts that were committed upon the Jewish People in order to fulfill His holy Word? I would not contend that. There is not a man alive that Adonai would desire to act with such abominable barbarism as the Nazis, for instance. (Especially those who called themselves “Christian.”) However, the Jewish People, being promised and having tasted of the glorious life of fidelity to Adonai, continually closed their eyes to His detailed warnings of what awaited them in the world that repeatedly enticed them away. 

“You shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.” v. 38
In their stunning achievements and God’s faithfulness to them, as well as their heartrending history, Israel stands as a living testimony to the glorious truth and sometimes frightful accuracy of the Bible. Never has Israel or Judah been completely safe in any nation since being scattered to the four corners of the earth. Although she blesses every nation, she is often robbed, persecuted, expelled, imprisoned, put in ghettoes, annihilated. Her very survival as a visible People, without a homeland or safe haven, is a testament to Adonai’s promises to preserve her as long as the sun, the moon, and the stars exist.  Jeremiah 31:36

“Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate and you [are] in your enemies' land; then the land shall rest and enjoy its sabbaths. As long as [it] lies desolate it shall rest—for the time it did not rest on your sabbaths when you dwelt in it ... The land also shall be left empty by them, and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; they will accept their guilt, because they despised My judgments and because their soul abhorred My statutes. vs. 34,35, 43

It’s About the Heart
Adonai reiterates His holy Sabbath Year, and speaks prophetically of the Babylonian captivity in which the Land will lie fallow and rest its due years. Don’t miss the point, however—it is stated clearly that what has grieved the heart of God is His People despising and abhorring His Word.

God is Not Mocked
God’s heart has not changed. Followers of Yeshua are warned: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on [the testimony of] two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” Hebrews 10:26-29 
Yeshua also said, speaking to believers, that whoever breaks the least of the commandments and teaches others to do so will be the least in the Kingdom, whereas, those who do and teach faithfulness to the Word will be be the greatest. (Matthew 5:19) His desire is that we delight in and treasure His Word, like David expresses throughout the Psalms. In this, Adonai is glorified.
God will not break His Covenant or Forget His People Israel
“‘Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, nor shall I abhor them, to utterly destroy them and break My covenant with them; for I [am] the LORD their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I [am] the LORD.’ These [are] the statutes and judgments and laws which the LORD made between Himself and the children of Israel on Mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.’” vs. 44-46
Whom God loves, He chastises. Not for destruction, but correction and restoration. 
Proverbs 3:12,13:24 


How unfathomable and unsearchable
is the faithfulness and lovingkindness of the God of Israel!

When concluding the reading of the last words of each of the books of the Torah,
it is traditional for the entire congregation to proclaim: 
“Chazak, chazak, v’nit’chazek!” 
“Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened!” 



Haftarah  Behar~Bechukotai
Jeremiah 32:6-27 / 16:19-17:14


We have arrived at a significant point in our journey through the Torah. With this week's passages studied we will have completed the first three books of the Pentateuch; Genesis—the establishment of the Jewish people, Exodus—the redemption of that people, and now Leviticus—the encoding of life practices for that God-chosen people. This third book mightily impacts our current Haftarah portions.

In this Haftarah we will look at two weeks' worth of study, both at the same time. Lets start off with Behar, Jeremiah 32:6-27, and bring Bechukotai, Jeremiah 16:19-17:14 in along the way. We’ll bounce from one to the other, but a great ride is ahead. So settle in and lets get going.


The historical setting of Jeremiah 32:6-27 is intriguing, though one might think the relevance of these verses a bit out of place. What’s going on? Well, at the time the event recorded in these verses takes place Judah, and Jerusalem specifically, are in the path of a military tsunami. It is 588 BCE. Babylon’s military might has been brought to bear against the Southern nation of Judah. God has brought this monster of a military machine up by His hand to punish Judah for its ongoing and grievous sin. The land has been run over and now Nebuchadnezzar has laid siege to his last target, the city of David. 
Speaking of this event, II Kings 25:1 says, “Now in the ninth year of his reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army, against Jerusalem, camped against it and built a siege wall all around it.” 
You can see that things are not going well for Judah.

After initiating the siege of Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar temporarily withdraws to meet an Egyptian relief force sent by Pharaoh Hophra. It is Hophra’s intent to aid Judah, but they are turned back in short order. While the Babylonians are gone Jeremiah attempts to leave the city and travel three miles' distance to his home town of Anathoth to settle some business. Thinking Jeremiah is trying to defect he is arrested and placed in a very unpleasant confinement. 

When this Babylonian withdrawal to engage Egypt happens King Zedekiah believes relief by the hand of this nation of his sinful Southern alliance will turn away Nebuchadnezzar’s forces. But it doesn’t. Babylon’s return to once again take up the siege throws Judah’s ungodly King into despair. In one of his final acts of desperation Zedekiah, now looking for any sign of hope, summons Jeremiah from his cell. He asks him, “Is there a word from the LORD?”

Jeremiah had had it pretty tough up to this point. After being arrested he was beaten and then thrown into a dungeon cell. After being there, “...many days,” we now see Zedekiah bringing him to his palace where he hopes to get some good news. But there is none to be had. Jeremiah tells him, “You will be given into the hand of the King of Babylon.”

Jeremiah would go on to say, “Thus says the Lord, 'He who stays in this city will die by the sword and by famine and by pestilence, but he who goes out to the Chaldeans will live and have his own life as booty and stay alive.' Thus says the LORD, 'This city will certainly be given into the hand of the army of the king of Babylon and he will capture it.'" Jeremiah 38:2-3

As you might imagine this message is not well received, and Jeremiah is sent back to confinement, albeit a little less unpleasant place this time.

In Jeremiah 32:6-27, one of our two Haftarah portions, we have the account of Jeremiah taking time in the middle of a siege, which he knew his side was going to lose, to buy some property that he knew he would never take control of. Hmm... And he even knew that this property would become the possession of the conquering king. More confusing yet is the fact that Jeremiah himself was told by God that this period of possession by the Babylonian empire would last seventy years, well past his expected life span at that point. Jeremiah 25:11 

This does not sound like an investment any sound thinking financial advisor would recommend. Indeed, Jeremiah never did take possession of this property. Ultimately he was taken to Egypt where it is believed he later died. Thus he never did return to Judah. So why would he go through this financial exercise?


The first point to be made here is that the sages must have chosen this particular Haftarah text because of the Torah portion that it goes with. Parashat Behar, has to do with purchasing, selling, and redeeming property. Jeremiah 32:6-27 addresses only the story of the property purchase and mentions the siege only in so far as it may be related to the purchase. This makes sense since very specific Haftarah portions were selected, in part, for their similar theme with the corresponding Torah portion.

A second thought is that while Jeremiah would not personally benefit from this purchase, this act by Jeremiah was a “sign” that Judah would someday be returned to the land to operate under covenantal law. 
“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Take these deeds, this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, that they may last a long time.’ For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Houses and fields and vineyards will again be bought in this land.’” Jeremiah 32:14-15
And a third point. It was the sinfulness of this Southern nation, her repeated refusal to live by covenantal law, that caused God to bring about this great calamity to the nation of Judah. Therefore, Jeremiah’s unwavering obedience to that covenantal law—here the the law of redemption found in this week’s Torah portion of Leviticus—that illustrated to Judah the obedience they should have been exhibiting all along. But, because they didn’t God says, 
“‘Indeed the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah have been doing only evil in My sight from their youth; for the sons of Israel have been only provoking Me to anger by the work of their hands,’ declares the LORD. ‘Indeed this city has been to Me a provocation of My anger and My wrath from the day that they built it, even to this day, so that it should be removed from before My face, because of all the evil of the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah which they have done to provoke Me to anger—they, their kings, their leaders, their priests, their prophets, the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned their back to Me and not their face; though I taught them, teaching again and again, they would not listen and receive instruction.’” Jeremiah 32:30-33
Now lets take that bounce we spoke of earlier and see where the ride takes us. Our arrival point is at the Haftarah portion, Bechukotai, Jeremiah 16:19-17:14. The sages probably chose this passage because in it is seen a reference, most likely, to the laws of the Sabbatical year. (Jeremiah 17:4) And regarding that Sabbatical year God said to Moses,
“And the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather its fruit; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath to the LORD. You shall neither sow your field nor prune your vineyard. What grows of its own accord of your harvest you shall not reap, nor gather the grapes of your untended vine, [for] it is a year of rest for the land. And the sabbath [produce] of the land shall be food for you: for you, your male and female servants, your hired man, and the stranger who dwells with you, for your livestock and the beasts that [are] in your land—all its produce shall be for food.”  Leviticus 25:2-7
Ultimately the Law, the statutes, and the ordinances would be violated by the Israelites. Invasion and exile would follow as a consequence of their repeated sin. For example, because of greed and lack of trust in the Lord’s promised provision during the sabbatical year the Israelites refused to give the land its sabbatical rest. Knowing that this would be the case God warns in Leviticus 26:34-35,
“You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste. Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies' land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths. All the days of its desolation it will observe the rest which it did not observe on your sabbaths, while you were living on it.” 
And what of Jeremiah’s input in 17:4? There God says, 
“And you will, even of yourself, let go of your inheritance that I gave you (the land that was to get its sabbatical rest every seven years); and I will make you serve your enemies in the land which you do not know; for you have kindled a fire in My anger which will burn forever.” (emphasis mine)

How is it that a nation as blessed as Israel could so consistently turn their backs on God? They had a rich heritage in their story of redemption from Egypt, and in God’s consistent and bountiful provision for their needs. This was always the case when they walked in obedience and in the covenant promises of God’s future blessing. (And by the way these are promises that would ultimately be theirs regardless of Israel’s future lack of faithfulness.) So where do we find our answer to this turning of the back on God? Jeremiah 17:9-10 is where we go.
The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”
As I read the story of Israel three simple truths continually stand out to me. The first is, live the Law, and be blessed. The second is, violate the Law, and be cursed. And the third (?); It is that the heart of man will determine which of the first two truths take place.
It is pretty simple really. When the Jewish people gave their hearts to God and demonstrated this by living the Law, they were blessed. But when the Jewish people trusted solely in their heart's guidance—apart from their God and obedience to His Law—this brought cursing. Thus Zedekiah and his followers, not following God’s Law allowed the heart to perform its deceitful and desperately sick work. So they had to be cursed. And they were. Jeremiah on the other hand followed God’s Law. He did this out of an obedience that proved his heart had been wholly given to his God. Why else would he buy property that he never would take possession of? 
Is there an application for the believer today? Certainly. It is that our deceitful and desperately sick hearts, alone and on their own, will lead us to violate God’s will for our lives. Our sin nature will make sure of this. And a sick heart’s wishes allowed to operate outside of the will of God will only lead to calamity. But there is a however...

It is that even though the nature of our heart is pretty bad, a pretty bad heart turned over to God will lead to pretty good things. Look at what Solomon says,
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.”  
Proverbs 3:5-8
Turning your heart over to Him is a “refreshment” we cannot miss. 
So which will it be? Disobedience and punishment...or obedience and blessing?  





B’rit Chadashah | New Testament Behar~Bechukotai

Matthew 21:33-46



Our B’rit Chadashah passage is Matthew 21:33-46, and illustrates THE ONLY WAY to please God. In this passage, familiar to most of us, is a story told by Yeshua. He tells it to the chief priests and the elders (v. 23) who were challenging His authority to cleanse the Temple, and heal the blind and the lame. Matthew 21:12-15, 23

It is the story of a landowner who established a vineyard and rented it out to vine-growers for development. When it was time to collect his profits from his vineyard he sent representatives to complete the transaction. The vine-growers had other ideas though and decided to keep all the profits for themselves. So they beat, killed, and stoned the first three representatives.

Upon hearing the disturbing news, the landowner sent even more representatives than the first time. But the vine-growers became more entrenched in their decision to give up nothing of what they had been entrusted with and which belonged to the landowner. They decided they were happy with the status quo and so when these new representatives arrived, the vine-growers treated them just as they had the first group.

Understandably upset at the course of events the landowner decided to send his son to make the transaction. He felt the vine-growers would respect his son. This however was not the case. The vine-growers knowing the son was the heir to the vineyard decided to kill him as well. They reasoned that they then would seize the inheritance of the vineyard. And so they killed the son.

Yeshua...the Son of God...the murdered son in this story...the Son that was to be hung on a tree...then asks these priests and elders what the owner would do when he finally came and confronted the vine-dressers. They said he would bring them all to a wretched end, and give the vineyard to others who would pay the landowner his due at the proper time.

At this point in the narrative it becomes clear to the chief priests, elders, and now the pharisees (v. 45) that the vineyard is Israel, that they are themselves the vine-growers, that the sent servants are Yahweh's prophets, and that the son that was slain is the Messiah to come. This had to become clear to them as Jesus concludes this story with,
“Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER STONE; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES?’ Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” vs. 21:42-44
Those standing before Jesus knew that He was indicting them. And His claim was that He would take their vineyard and give it to others who would properly handle its fruit, which is obedience to God’s covenant standards.
                                                             
The nation of Israel had been promised covenant blessings if in return they would simply be obedient. They had however failed miserably at keeping the—the very things we have been reading about in Leviticus. They wanted to live their way and that was the same as not giving the landowner his due. It was HIs nation they had been given to care for by being obedient to the Law, but they wanted to do it their way and not God’s. Prophets had been sent by Adonai to correct this problem, but they had been ignored or killed, so that the rulers and people of Israel might keep what did not belong to them, doing things their way and not God’s.

And now the Son of the Landowner was there. As a last resort He had been sent by the Landowner, His Father, Adonai Himself, to claim what was rightfully the Landowner’s to have—the Jewish nation living in obedience to God. But the Son knew that would not happen, just as it had not happened in the story. Christ had come to offer Himself as King, to claim and reign over what was rightfully the Father’s, the landowner of that “vineyard.” (Matthew 4:17) Now what was to come next?

This time Messiah’s offer of Kingship, of claiming the rewards of the vineyard—which was in effect their obedience—would be rejected.  This was foreknown by the Father, the Landowner. And the son would be slain by the vinedressers. But let us not miss that the true Son of God offered Himself on that tree for the sins of the whole world. (I John 2:2) Those who had been in charge of the vineyard would be removed and ultimately punished for their actions. But what of the vineyard?

The Son had said this to the vine-growers, those wicked caretakers of the Covenant blessings. “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.” (v. 43) What could the Messiah have meant by this? I believe our answer is to be found in Romans 11:11-24. There the Apostle Paul says:
“I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their  fulfillment be! But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?”
Romans 11:11-24 speaks of Israel in part as a branch being broken off from the cultivated olive tree and the Gentile in part being grafted in. This I think is the passing of the care-taking of the garden. It is an opportunity for the new vine-growers to do things God’s way and offer the profit of that obedience to the landowner, God Himself. But what is that profit or fruit of the vineyard? Why, it is the same as above—LIVING IN OBEDIENCE TO GOD. 

Much ill has come to Israel as a result of their not obeying the covenant God first established with them. They turned their backs on the covenant blessing that could have been manifested by being obedient; this obedience could have been offered to God as His fruit from the vineyard of opportunity that belonged to Him. And now Israel in part has been “broken off” from the vine (removed from the garden) for a season ... and others, Gentiles, have been grafted in. The vineyard now has new vine-dressers. But note those vinedressers are now both Jew and Gentile. Ephesians 2:11-14

Oh, how important obedience is ... and how heavy the consequence for disobedience. It would be good for each of us to move our thinking from a national level, as portrayed in this story, to an individual one, where we are each the focus. How obedient are we? Do we risk disobedience to the Landowner?


Is not service and giving Him His due the path to fulfillment we should all take?  
His way surely must be... THE ONLY WAY
                          
 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
                                                        John 14:26    

Shabbat shalom!
In Messiah’s Love,
His EVERY Word Ministries


For some of our newer readers: What’s a Torah Portion, why are we commenting on it, and what relevance does it have to anything?

In a nutshell ... Luke 24:27 tells us that Yeshua (Jesus) revealed Himself through the Old Testament Scriptures, beginning with Moses and the Prophets.  From the time of Ezra, the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) has been read in a yearly rotation by Israel, and this tradition is still observed today. 
In Yeshua’s time, a complimentary portion from the Prophetsthe Haftarah portionwas added to the weekly rotation of readings. Thus, for over two millennia, the children of Abraham have kept this unifying rhythm of studying the same Scriptures throughout the yearalong with commentaries from the sages, including those who influenced the Apostle Paul, such as Hillel. It is therefore enriching and enlightening to delve into these foundational treasures, unearthing the riches of hidden insights revealed in the original Hebrew language or “listening” through the ears of Yeshua’s contemporaries to gain a fresh understanding of this faith sprung from Hebraic soil, and purchased with Jewish blood, by a Son of Israel, the King of the Jews.