Friday, July 28, 2017

Journey's End | Parashat Devarim | By His EVERY Word

Parashat Devarim
פרשת דברים

Torah: Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22
Haftarah: Isaiah 1:1-27
B’rit Chadashah: Acts 9:1-21

Shabbat | 29 July 2017 | 6th of Av 5777

Tisha B’Av—the 9th of Av
24 hour fast: 
Through TUESDAY, August 1, at SUNDOWN

Our Wilderness Journey Ends...
     And What Have We Learned?

Beyond the Jordan...
We open the book of Deuteronomy to find the Assembly of Israel encamped in Moab, beyond the Jordan. It has been forty years since Adonai redeemed the Children of Abraham out of Egypt, and they are finally poised to take possession of the Land promised to their forefathers.  

Hmm... that’s not entirely accurate. Actually, the generation that came out of Egypt perished in the wilderness, with the exception of Joshua, Caleb, and Moses. And Moses has little more than a month before he will climb Mount Nebo and die, only having seen the Land from afar.
The Greek word Deuteronomy comes from the Hebrew word, devarim  הַדְּבָרִים, which means words. The opening sentence of the Book of Deuteronomy gives us the theme: “These are the words which Moses spoke...” אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה “Eleh devarim asher dabar Mosheh.”
Moses longs with every fiber of his being to accompany his People Israel into the Divine inheritance, but Adonai is intractable. The last mission of our prophet and deliverer will be to prepare the congregation to live as a redeemed people before their God. Moses’ divinely inspired words lay essential foundations and reveal prophetic paradigms that perfect and guide all who lay claim to the Name of the LORD.

As mentioned last week, we have been in a season known as Between the Straits, the three week period preceding Tisha B’Av, or the 9th of the month of Av

Tish'a B'Av / תשעה באב
“...mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15 NIV

Tisha B'Av (Hebrew: תשעה באב or ט׳ באב, "the Ninth of Av,") is an annual fast day in Judaism, named for the ninth day (Tisha) of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar. The fast commemorates the destruction of both the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem, as well as many other major catastrophes throughout Jewish history.

Tish'a B'Av begins at sundown on Monday, July 31, in 2017.
This is a time of mourning for the Nation of Israel, in which joy and celebration is minimized. The sting of Divine judgement is acutely felt. Weddings and public celebrations are put off as pleasure and frivolous activity gives way to introspection and repentance.
The day of Tisha B’Av is commemorated in synagogues around the world by the reading of the book of Lamentations and the recitation of prayers of mourning. The Torah cabinet is draped in black.

Major Catastrophes That Occurred on Tisha B'Av:
  • The 10 Spies‘ evil report of the Promised Land was accepted by the congregation of Israel in the desert, bringing severe judgment forbidding them from entering the Land of Israel (1312 BC)
  • The First Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians, led by Nebuchadnezzar. 100,000 Jews were slaughtered and millions more exiled (586 BC)
  • The Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, led by Titus. Some two million Jews were slaughtered. Another one million were exiled (70 AD)
  • The Bar Kochba revolt was crushed by Roman Emperor Hadrian. More than 100,000 Jews were slaughtered (135 AD)
  • Jerusalem was renamed Aelia Capitolina by Rome. The Temple area was plowed under, Jews no longer were allowed access, and Jerusalem became a pagan city as all traces of the God of Israel were erased 
  • Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade. Untold masses of Jews were murdered (1096 AD)
  • The Jews were expelled from England (1290 AD)
  • The Jews were expelled from France (1306 AD)
  • The expulsion of Jews from Spain under the Spanish Inquisition was completed on Tisha B'Av in 1492
  • WWI broke out on the eve of Tisha B'Av in 1914, setting the stage for the Holocaust
  • The mass deportation of Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto to extermination camps began on the eve of Tisha B'Av in 1942
We encourage you to pray earnestly for the Jewish People during this time of mourning and historic tragedy. And stand for Israel and the Jewish People.

Please keep Israel and the Jewish People in prayer as anti-Semitism continues to rise at a frightening pace. 

We highly recommend watching:

Covenant and Controversy Part One: The Great Rage
Produced by Frontier Alliance International
Director: Dalton Thomas
Produced by FAI STUDIOS, exploring the history and theology of the enduring controversy over the Jewish people, the Land of Israel, and the city of Jerusalem. 

'The Great Rage' features Dalton Thomas, Stephanie Quick, Michael Reynolds, Joel Richardson, Dr. Michael Brown, Barry Horner, and Scott Volk.

Covenant and Controversy Part II: The City of the Great King 

A city known by many names, Jerusalem is a central character in the biblical narrative and redemptive history, yet she is burdened by competing ambitions. 'The City of the Great King' is the second installment in this five-part series, examining the age-old controversy over this city so inextricably knit to the Everlasting Covenant. Is grace enough to save these ancient hills so marred by sin, blasphemy, war and covenantal infidelity?
Directed by DALTON THOMAS 
Director of Photography MARC ASH
The issues seem complex and it seems gross deception grips many in the western world. Perhaps the most perplexing and heartbreaking is antisemitism (cloaked in anti-Israelism) coming from the church. Consider the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) voting on banning the the word "Israel" from prayers and hymns ... as if their active support of BDS (Boycott, Divest, and Sanction) campaigns against Israel aren't enough of a statement.... 

For an articulate simplification, Pat Condell sorts it all out: 

The inception of the curse upon this date throughout history (according to Jewish commentary) was the grievous betrayal when Israel believed the evil report of the spies returning from the Promised Land, and cried out against the LORD and His servants: 
“And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, ‘If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?’ So they said to one another, ‘Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.’” (Numbers 14:2-4 )
Thus Caleb and Joshua would be the only ones of their generation to be allowed to enter the Promised Land. Even Moses and Aaron would be denied this privilege. 

Much like Esau, who did not value his inheritance, but quickly traded it away for the promise of temporal worldly comfort, this generation of Israel that came out of Egypt spurned the Divine Land—their inheritance from Adonai. The cost they paid was immeasurable. 

What have we learned? 
The Book of Deuteronomy promises a glorious existence to Israel—blessings above all the nations of the earth—if she is faithful to Adonai. Dire warnings also, are painstakingly described, of her fate if she is unfaithful to her LORD and Divine protector. 
She chooses to go her own way, as is the nature of man, and for nearly 2,000 years suffers dispersion among the nations—scattered, “among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other,” to nations where she will “find no rest,” and have “anguish of soul.” (Deuteronomy 28:64,65)
Yet, our Gracious God has restored the Land of Israel, and is gathering His remnant from the four corners of the earth, where they were scattered. Where are the Joshuas and Calebs of this generation who will stand unafraid in the face of giants (world sentiment) for the LORD, and treasure their Divine inheritance? 
The LORD is zealous for Zion with a great zeal, and has promised that when He restores Zion, old men and women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, her streets full of children playing. This is happening now. He will save and gather His people from the east and the west ... this is happening now. Prosperity has once again come to the Land, and God is calling to His People to turn to Him and seek righteousness ... even promising to turn the fasts of Israel, including Tisha B’Av to, “joy and gladness and cheerful feasts.”   
Yes, through triumph and tragedy, faithfulness and transgression, redemption and diaspora, God has loved Israel with an everlasting love, (Jeremiah 31:3) and will exalt her in the end for the sake of His Holy Name. “Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.” 
“Thus says the LORD of Hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the border of a Jewish man's garment, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’” (Zechariah 8:1-23)

Deuteronomy 1 ~ The First Discourse of Moses
“These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on this side of the Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain opposite Suph, between Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab. On this side of the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses began to explain this law...” (vs. 1-5)
 “Law, or Torah  תורה in Hebrew, means law, direction, instruction.
The Israelites in the wilderness were plagued with unbelief. Reason and fear clouded their faith. Here on the far side of the Jordan, Moses will remain, having lost through disobedience, the supreme privilege of leading the Tribes into their inheritance. How? Because Moses robbed Adonai of His Glory before His People at the waters of Meribah. This momentary act of disobedience misrepresented the Holy One of Israel—a serious thing!
Moses now recounts to the Israelites their journey from Horeb to Kadesh-Barnea—and reminds them just how close they came to possessing the Land a generation past—had they not listened to the evil report and turned against God and His servants. 
Defiance of their Glorious God and King ... shocking disobedience and rebellion after all Adonai had done ... we can only shake our heads in disbelief at these “stiff-necked” Jews. 
Yet, are they any different than us?
Matthew Henry sees a commonality between the Israelites of antiquity and all people of faith in his commentary on Deuteronomy 1:
“An unbelieving heart was at the bottom of all this. All disobedience to God's laws, and distrust of his power and goodness, flow from disbelief of his word, as all true obedience springs from faith.” —Matthew Henry Concise Commentary
It’s unfortunate that most Christians have a fairly negative knee-jerk reaction to the words “law” and “Torah.” It’s doubtful that the Holy Spirit would inspire this aversion to any portion of God’s Holy Word.  
What shall we say then? Is the Torah sin? Certainly not!” Romans 7:7 

Quite possibly there has been misunderstanding regarding how a Gentile believer might relate to the Torah. But we know that the Torah is good if one uses it lawfully...” 1 Timothy 1:8 

What would be the Torah’s “lawful” use? The Torah is not and never was a means of salvation. The Torah was given to an already redeemed people (chosen and redeemed by grace), to teach how a redeemed people shall live before a Holy God. 
The Hebrew word Torah does not and never did mean “Law.” It means, and always has meant, “Teaching” (Herford). The word Torah may refer to moral guidance, or to a single specific teaching, as in Proverbs 1:8, ‘forsake not the teaching (torah) of thy mother.’ It is also applied to a body of religious precepts of teachings—such as form the central portion of the Book of Deuteronomy. Often it denotes the entire sum of Israel’s religious doctrine and life—the Torah of Moses.” Dr. J.H. Hertz, PENTATEUCH AND HAFTORAHS, SONCINO PRESS, 1936
Blood sacrifice on the altar dealt with the problem of sin. (Leviticus 17:11) From the time of the rebellion in the Garden, there has been a need for blood sacrifice to remedy the problem of sin. Adonai provided the first sacrifice when he covered Adam and the woman with the skin of an animal. In the Torah, YHVH instructed the Priesthood to provide blood sacrifices to cover the sins of His People. 

In the fullness of time, He sent Yeshua, His Son, the Lamb of God, the once-for-all sacrifice, who covers our transgressions—which are outlined in His Wordfrom Genesis to Revelation

A large portion of commandments in the Torah—the first five books of the Bible—are not allowed to be done today as there is no Temple or Priesthood in Jerusalem. But the moral commandments transcend time, and lift the redeemed above the lawless, godless, and hopeless of the nations—identifying them as citizens of the Kingdom of Light.
Our God has inspired us to delight in and treasure His Word—including the Torah/Law
  • "My son, do not forget my Torah, but keep my commands in your heart." Proverbs 3:1
  • “The Torah of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul...” Psalm 19:7
  • I delight to do Your will, O my God, And Your Torah is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8
  • Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your Torah." Psalm 94:12
  • “Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your Torah.” Psalm 119:18
  • Great peace have those who love Your Torah.” Psalm 119:165
  • “For the commandment is a lamp, And the Torah a light.” Proverbs 6:23
One may say, “Ah, but that is the “Old” Testament—Paul speaks against the Torah in the “New” Testament!” But does he, really? It is confusing.
Paul never departs from scrupulous observance. What he does is continually correct every instance of erroneous dependance upon Torah observance for justification. Salvation is through Yeshua’s atoning sacrifice alone. How one lives as a member of the redeemed community is another story. 

Paul did not tell the Corinthian church to stop keeping the biblical feasts, but he did instruct them how to keep the feast as a new creation—with regards to Passover, for instance: keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (I Corinthians 5:8)
How does that square with: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10)? Or Galatians 5:3 for that matter—that any man who is circumcised is a debtor to keep the whole law?
Well, obviously there has been a problem with the interpretation. Once again, Paul is addressing those who rely on the circumcision or the keeping of the law for their salvation. They must keep the law perfectly, or they are lost! (Which they are— Yeshua alone was able to walk this earth as a sinless man.)
Why would Paul be so inconsistent as to tell believers to be obedient to the most ungodly earthly rulers, (Titus 3:1) and at the same time instruct them to be rebellious to Almighty God? (A teaching, by the way, that would utterly contradict the explicit Words of his beloved Lord, Yeshua...) 

Answer: he didn’t... When read in context, we can see Paul doing much the same as Yeshua—bringing light, understanding, and correct interpretation. 

Context is essential to understanding the perceived conflicting words of Paul. Paul said too many positive things about Torah for us to believe that it was his intent to create a church that would be disrespectful to God or any portion of His Word, in essence embracing lawlessness.
  • “Do we then make void the Torah through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the Torah.” Romans 3:31
  • “Therefore the Torah is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” Romans 7:12
  • “For we know that the Torah is spiritual...” Romans 7:14
  • “For I delight in the Torah of God according to the inward man.” Romans 7:22
Are you rolling your eyes? Are you compiling a list of difficult (or what may seem ridiculous) commandments to keep—such as not mixing wool and linen in the same garment? If so, I would ask why you can trust Yeshua’s sacrifice to atone for some sins but not others, such as that which is commanded in the first five books of the Bible

Only the mind set on the Spirit can discern these truths 

Paul explains: 
"...the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God." Romans 8:7,8
The early church were fruitful branches grafted into the original root and tree being Israel. They worshiped the God of Israel and His Messiah, Yeshua, the Root of Jesse, and Son of David. Erroneous influences had to be addressed such as gnosticism and the notion that Gentiles could not be saved without conversion to Judaism first. And we are still coming up with a plethora of brilliant but flawed ideas to this day

History reveals that anti-Semitism (not biblical exegesis), formulated abominable theology born of the accusation that the Jews “killed God,” and thus were without expiation for eternity. As expressed by the early Church Fathers, this belief system inspired the dictates forbidding Christians from observing the Sabbath, the feasts in Leviticus 23, or any of the “observances of the odious Jews.” The modern church has inherited that antipathy to the Torah, but thankfully it has not adopted the rabid anti-Semitism on the over-arching scale that characterized the councils of the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries. 

Many theologies have been developed to reconcile what seems to be a vast change in Adonai BUT, this is God, “who changes not.” (Malachi 3:6) 

Has our God, the Sovereign of Creation who calls all who love Him to obey His commandments—in both Old and New Testaments, really changed? Or is it perhaps man that attempts to change Him to conform to our sensibilities?
We set ourselves above the Holy Spirit, and judged the foundations of Holy Writ to be unworthy. That accomplished, we found ourselves freed. No anchor, no manifest, no ruler. Each man his own, answerable only to conscience and reason. Good humour and godly intent succumbed to self preservation, and selfish pursuit as the seas of life drowned the Eternal’s small voice, and storm-tossed vessels lost their bearings for want of anchor, rudder, and alas, the Almighty’s guiding Hand.” (Unknown)

We have seemingly exalted lawlessness—rejection of Torah—as if it were a noble thing to do. 

Yet lawlessness and rejection of Torah is the very thing the bulk of Scripture teaches us grieves the heart of God, and cost the Israelites inconceivable hardship. 

Has the Almighty changed? 

Not according to 2 John 1:6:

“This is love, 
that we walk 
according to His commandments. 
This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, 
you should walk in it.” 
Trust, obedience, faith, hope, and love—these will keep the earnest pilgrim on track, lead by the light of the Spirit of the Holy One, blessed be He, amen!

Haftarah Devarim
Isaiah 1:-27

Our Haftarah portion for this week is Isaiah 1:1-27.  There are a couple of points to be made as we examine this passage. The first is a reminder. You’ll recall what was said last week regarding the theme of the weekly Haftarah selection no longer corresponding to that of our Torah portion. 

“From this point on the sages, who originally selected the Haftarah text, looked to a different end. Up to now they wanted a passage that dove-tailed into or embellished the Torah portion, but now and in the future texts the Haftarah will reflect the horrific events of the impending destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.”

This week is no different. In our Isaiah text we once again see Jerusalem and its impending destruction as the wrenching subject Isaiah must deal with. And, there is that second point as well. It is to be found in the act of repentance, with one additional and certainly essential element. So lets move on.  

We must start out in the sixth chapter. The book of Isaiah is not chronological so let's see how it is that Isaiah can say the things that he did. We’ll see it all starts with him recognizing his inadequacy to do the job God has called him to do.
“In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.’ And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, ‘Woe is me, for I am ruined! because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.’" (vs. 6:1-5)
Can you even begin to imagine such a sight? No wonder Isaiah saw how utterly insufficient he was for the task of delivering Adonai’s message to His people. But God does not send us out unprepared for any mission to which He calls us. That certainly included Isaiah. And so... 
“Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” (vs. 6:6-8)
Having been thus prepared Isaiah now launches into the message of chapter one. In verse one we are told that Isaiah delivered this message during the reigns of four different kings of the Southern kingdom. The discourse concerned that kingdom, Judah, and its crown jewel, the holy city of Jerusalem. We do not know the exact time of this message’s delivery. It may have been spoken just once, or in an episodic manner, or continually through the reigns of all four kings. No matter though. What is important is its condemnation of Israel and their impending destruction for their rebellion against Adonai and His Covenant with them. Just imagine being in a crowd observing Isaiah as he delivered these stinging words.
“Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; For the LORD speaks, ‘Sons I have reared and brought up, but they have revolted against Me. An ox knows its owner, and a donkey its master's manger, but Israel does not know, My people do not understand.’ Alas, sinful nation, people weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly! They have abandoned the LORD, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they have turned away from Him. Where will you be stricken again, as you continue in your rebellion?” (Isaiah 1:2-5a)
The sin here is rebellion, rebellion that as you’ll recall this nation’s history has been demonstrated repeatedly. And God has dealt with it, but this nation refuses to recognize its owner—as an ox would, or its proper place in its Master’s house—as a donkey would. They refuse to recognize and live the simplest of truths and so Isaiah describes them as follows.
“The whole head is sick and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head there is nothing sound in it, only bruises, welts and raw wounds, not pressed out or bandaged, nor softened with oil.” (Isaiah 1:5b-6)
Israel—and Judah specifically here—has been “beat up” time and again for their rebellious ways. So now they are described as having bruises, welts and raw wounds. But they have refused to have these wounds attended to. They do not bandage them or soften them with oil. Here is a people that would rather live with the results of the chastisement of God unattended to; this rather than repent, or...tend to their wounds.

Now notice that even though rebellious, they continued the outward appearance of worshiping their God. However, so significant was their rebellion that God would have none of it.
What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?’ says the LORD. ‘I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle; and I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats. When you come to appear before Me, who requires of you this trampling of My courts? Bring your worthless offerings no longer, incense is an abomination to Me. New moon and sabbath, the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the solemn assembly. I hate your new moon festivals and your appointed feasts, they have become a burden to Me; I am weary of bearing them.’”  (Isaiah 1-11-14)
This is not a denial of the sacrificial system. After all that very system had been established by Adonai Himself. No, this was God’s condemnation of religious worship that went no further than its outward appearance. There was no substance to these actions, only form without content.

Did you see in verse one that the message that followed—what we have just looked at—was given to both the Southern kingdom of Judah and the city of Jerusalem? In verses twenty-four through twenty-seven Judah and Jerusalem are again specifically referred to (a faithful city in v.26 and Zion in v.27), and in 2:1 both are again mentioned. It is both the nation and its holy city that Isaiah says God is going to judge. And this judgement will come because of rebellion in the hearts of its people.

Interesting though, even while rebelling, even after hearing of the impending punishment for that rebellion, these people still went through the motions of worship. But as we have seen it was to no avail. God would have none of it, for He is not interested in form, but rather in content. And we know the history, don’t we. In 586 BC King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. Thus the nation and its city fell to God’s judgement.

Now that we have seen Isaiah speak of the impending fall of Judah and Jerusalem, what of that second point we mentioned in our opening, that of repentance. Did you read verses 15b-20? Might we find there God’s offer of a stayed hand if these people would only repent of their sin?
“‘Your hands are covered with blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.’ Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 1:15b-20)
Yes, there it is. Repentance would have been the answer, but these people let sin overrule. I wonder if this is so very different in our lives today. We don’t have a Temple and there is no sacrificial system involving animals and other offerings today. But! But, each and every one of us as believers in Yeshua as our Lord and Savior ARE identified as priests. I Peter 2:9 says we are members of, “a royal priesthood.”
As a royal priest we too must repent of our sin and live as our Master would have us to live. Then the sacrifices we have to offer will be acceptable to Him. (Hebrews 13:15-16)
Repentance from sin in our lives is surely important if God is to stay His judgement upon us and accept our sacrifices to Him. The Nation of Israel did not repent and judgement was brought upon them. How can any of us think that our lot would be any different if we did not repent of our sin? (Hebrews 12:3-11, I John 5:16) Would our sacrifices be of any value without repentance? Wouldn’t our service to Him be looked upon as only form, but having no substance? And what of that additional and certainly essential element of repentance mentioned above? 

Paul, in I Corinthians 7:8-12, wrote of that element in repentance —“sorrow.”
“I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation...”
Repentance, Godly repentance, in Hebrew, teshuvah, is turning away from the wrong we are doing and heading in a different direction, God’s direction. And sorrow over the wrong we are turning away from is the attitude we have toward that particular wrong or the feeling we have about that wrong from which we are turning. It is then and only then that as His priests we will be able to offer sacrifices acceptable to Him—those sacrifices that will have substance as well as form
Consider again what the great YHVH, the God of the Israelites and our Heavenly Father, said to His people when they were in need of repentance...
“'Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD. ‘Though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool. If you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.’ Truly, the mouth of the LORD has spoken."    (Isaiah 1:18-20)
How is the mouth of God... speaking to you?

B’rit Chadashah Devarim
Acts 9:1-21

Our text for this B’rit Chadashah is Acts 9:1-21. This text is the story of a man who while known as Saul of Tarsus was introduced to his Messiah on the road to Damascus. In 5 AD Saul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia located in what is now present day Turkey. His father was a Jew, in fact a Pharisee himself. (Acts 23:6) 

To add to his political stature Saul was a Roman citizen, and a Roman citizen by birth, not by purchase. This was to give Saul special standing as he traveled about a world ruled by Rome. (Acts 22:25-29) 

Saul was raised in Jerusalem from his youth on. (Acts 26:4) There he had the best of education, eventually studying under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), a leading Pharisee himself and a renowned teacher of his day. Gamaliel’s position of respect is highlighted in Acts 5:34-40a where he gives counsel to both the Sanhedrin and the High Priest. (Acts 5:21) 

Saul was a man of credentials. He had political standing because of his Roman citizenship obtained by birth. He had family history, his father before him being a Pharisee. He had an educational pedigree, having been educated by the best in Jerusalem. And he now had religious status, having obtained the position of a Pharisee. (Acts 23:6)  
With this as his background Saul says of himself, “...and I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries among my countrymen, being more extremely zealous for my ancestral traditions.” (Galatians 1:14) One might well ask just how it was that Saul exhibited his zeal for his ancestral traditions? 
That answer is to be found in Galatians 1:13 where he says of himself, “For you have heard of my former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it...”

It was this man who was on the road to Damascus. It was this man who had full intention of reeking more havoc among those following the One who had claimed to be the long awaited Messiah. This was the man who had looked on and consented to the murder of the first martyr of those known as, “believers in the Lord.” (Acts 5:14, 8:1) It was this very man that Jesus stopped on the road to Damascus... and changed his life forever.
Little did Saul know what was ahead of him. He had been a man pressing forward in his ongoing mission to bring an end to this movement known at the time as, the Way. (Acts 9:2) Now it was all going to change. Blind, he had to be led by the hand to his destination. The voice speaking from the light that had blinded him identified Himself as, Jesus. This had to have been the shock of Saul’s life. It was the followers of this very Jesus—this One who had claimed to be the coming Messiah—that Saul had dedicated himself to eradicate. Somehow, Saul must have known that from here forward everything would change. But how?
It was three days later that the first hint of how this would happen was revealed. The Lord spoke to a follower of His, who himself proclaimed the Way, and told him to go and minister to Saul. In these instructions Jesus opens a window on just how Saul’s life would change. The Messiah said to Ananias, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake." (Acts 9:15-16)

In this one short statement the rest of Saul’s life is laid out. He would witness. He would suffer. And so much could be said of the rest of Saul’s life, but of the suffering, Saul—now known as Paul—sums it all up this way:
“ far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27)
In these United States, we as believers in Yeshua, as followers of the Way, do not know of suffering for our faith such as this. But we dare not be fooled into complacency or disbelief. All we must do is look around the world to see fellow believers suffer so for His name’s sake. Is this uncommon or unexpected? Of course not. What do our fathers in the faith, inspired of God the Holy Spirit, instruct us on this topic so grievous to our flesh?
Peter, that, “son of thunder,” who died crucified upside down on a Roman stake says this: 
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (1 Peter 4:12-14)
The Apostle Paul, once known as Saul and persecutor of the Way for which he would later suffer beheading, says this to one of his many sons in the Faith:
“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” (2 Timothy 2:3-4)
And the Apostle John must be heard for he brings reason and hope to these warnings. He recounts the words of comfort from the One who blinded Saul and launched his life of witnessing and suffering. It was our Great God and Savior that said: 
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Suffering to one degree or another, it seems, is to be a part of the life of every dedicated   follower of the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of our souls. But our sure hope is in Messiah’s words, that in Him we can have peace because, He has overcome the world. 
The Apostle Paul has much more to say on the topic of persecution for the Faith, but perhaps we can conclude with this last thought, one of his own. In writing to his son in the faith, Timothy, he says this: 
“Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:10-12)
It’s got to make you think on the suffering your experiencing for the Faith right now...or...perhaps on the fact that you’re NOT suffering… even a bit.

I don’t know about you.
But I’ve got to ask myself, 

“If persecution is the gauge,
then how is my desire to live a godly life in the Messiah 

really being measured?

May you have a blessed Shabbat!

In Messiah's Love,

His EVERY Word Ministries

Wherever we stand,

We stand with Israel!