Wednesday, September 4, 2013

As we enter the Yamim Noraimימים נוראים the 10 Days of Awe from Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of Trumpets to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, may we turn from any ways that trample underfoot the glory of the Name of the LORD or the testimony of His holiness. Let us rejoice in His gracious forgiveness!  
Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity
And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?
He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love.
He will again have compassion on us;
He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, You will cast all their sins
Into the depths of the sea.
You will give truth to Jacob
And unchanging love to Abraham,
Which You swore to our forefathers
From the days of old.
Micah 7:18-20

Fall Mo'edim (Appointed Times of the LORD) Schedule

Rosh Hashanah/Feast of Trumpets  (Leviticus 23:23,24)
1 Tishrei 5774 | Sunset 9/4/2013 - Sunset 9/5/2013
The biblical calendar changes to a new year. This is a special sabbath, falling midweek.

Yom Kippur/Day of Atonement  (Leviticus 23:26-32) 
10 Tishrei 5774 | Sunset 9/13/2013 - Sunset 9/14/2013
This is another special sabbath, and rather than a feast, calls to "deny yourselves," which is interpreted as a fast.

Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles or Booths  (Leviticus 23:33-43) 
15-22 Tishrei 5774 | Sunset 9/18/2013 - Sunset 9/26/2013
The first and last day are special sabbaths. This is a great celebration, calling for rejoicing with the community of faith.

Parashat Ekev 

פרשת עקב

“If You Follow”

It’s All About Love

Torah Portion: Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25


B'rit Chadashah:

27 July 2013
20 AV 5773

The Creative Force of Love

It’s clear from the beginning, Adonai is a God of love.
He loves us far more than we love Him. 

The testimony is resplendent. The immeasurable expanse of the universe, populated with innumerable magnificent heavenly bodies, and an infinitesimal measure of particles, discretely balanced to present a singular planet in a singular solar system, a singular habitation to sustain His beloved creation ... that we may come to know “the LORD your God, the great and awesome God, is among you. Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the LORD your God, also the earth with all that is in it” (Deuteronomy 7:21, 10:14).

In the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament), we are instructed regarding love from Torah:
  • “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37).
  • “ shall love your neighbor as yourself...” (Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39)

It’s an unfortunate misjudgment of the Almighty among some that the Old Testament is all about judgment, whereas the New Testament is all about grace.

The creative force of YHVH is LOVE. The LOVE of God bestowed forgiveness through His chesed חסד, grace, and taught man to LOVE and forgive. This radical ideal changed history, and set standards for ethics and morality that stand to this day. One of the great Hebrew sages taught: “The world rests upon three things: Torah, service to God, and bestowing chesed (grace and lovingkindness).” Pirkei Avot, Ethics of the Fathers

The Divine LOVE with which God manifested creation is a standard for humanity: LOVE your neighbor, LOVE the stranger, show forth His charity, His compassion, and His justice. Build a world that conforms to the blueprints of His LOVE!

For the LORD your God is God of gods 
and LORD of lords,
 the great God, mighty and awesome, 
who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. 
He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, 
and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. 
Therefore love the stranger, 
for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 
You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve Him, 
and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name. 
He is your praise, and He is your God, 
who has done for you these great and awesome things 
which your eyes have seen.” 
—Deuteronomy 10:17-21

You say, “but wait, there’s an ‘if’!” 
“Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock. And the LORD will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you” (Deuteronomy 7:12-15).

Yes, Adonai constructed the universe with spiritual laws as immutable as the natural laws He created. Like gravity, they are purposeful and beneficial. When disregarded (such as jumping off a building), one must be aware of the consequences. The LORD has given His Word that His beloved creation may know how to live a pleasing life before Him and be blessed. This is what He desires for us. 

His spiritual laws express His LOVE. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:3).

The law of LOVE is just, ethical, and balanced with grace and mercy. The plumb line is extended from Heaven. Let us look upward to His higher way and be humbled and transformed by the prescient LOVE that first apprehended us. “We love Him because He first loved us” (I John 4:19).
The LOVE of God is faithful, transcendant, and triumphant, as our B'rit Chadashah portion proclaims: For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39), which we receive through our Messiah Yeshua.

Our Haftarah portion, also reminds of the faithful LOVE of God. When Israel thought herself forsaken, Adonai answered, Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me" (Isaiah 49:15-16). In Isaiah 50:1 Adonai even challenges: “Where is the certificate of divorce?”  In spite of initiating the certificate of divorce against His adulterous bride, Israel (Jeremiah 3:8), His LOVE, mercy, and faithfulness will overcome His anger, and He will restore His bride for His Name's sake.

YHVH defined LOVE with the most astonishing revelation: In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (I John 4:9).

The GOSPEL in the Genealogy of GENESIS 5

Now here is a question for you to ponder. How did one become a member of God’s family prior to the death and resurrection of Yeshua? Post resurrection, now that is easy.  One, realizing they are lost in their sin and consequently on their way to an eternity separated from God, looks back to the work of Yeshua on Calvary’s tree. Seeing they are without any righteous merit of their own they put their faith in the Messiah’s once and for all work for them. They place their absolute belief in the fact that the death and resurrection of Israel’s redeemer, Jesus of Nazareth, paid the price for all their sins. His work of redemption and their faith in it makes them a member of God’s family. (Romans 10:9-11)

But for those seeking that family membership prior to the Messiah giving His life on the cross, what was the process for them? Some might say that all one had to do was keep the Law, but we know that wasn’t the case. Paul said, “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20-21). 
The Law was given to live by, to show what sin was, not to trust for one’s eternal destiny. So if not by keeping the Law, what then?

Well, others will say that family membership was accomplished by simply “believing” God. Here Abraham is pointed to. And Genesis 15:5-6 is that cornerstone text, “And He took him outside and said, ‘Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness. But was this the first, the once and for all act that gave Abraham family membership? Hebrews 11:8 tells us of an act of faith by Abraham that predates the Genesis 15 story. So if he already was in the family, what got him there? Paul throws some light on yet another possibility. 

In Acts 26:22-23 he says, “So, having obtained help from God, I stand to this day testifying both to small and great, stating nothing but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles."

Here two points are made by Paul. The first is that the prophets and Moses spoke of a future eventThe second is that the event of which they spoke was the future death of the Messiah and His resurrection from the dead. Sounds strangely like a forward view of the gospel message we speak today, a message whether looking forward to it or as in our case back on it, places sinners in the family of God by exercising faith in it. 

The gospel message is indeed found in the Old Testament. Was belief in it what placed one into the family of God? Was this the way Abraham and indeed all other Old Testament saints were made children of Adonai? We’ll let you ponder that one. 

What follows is one example of the gospel in the Old Testament. Genesis five, written by Moses, is not only a lineage but a presentation of the gospel as well. You’ve got to look for it, but it’s there. The Hebrew reader had to of had a clear understanding of what was being said as he would know what each of these names meant. All he had to do was put it together. So join us in the exercise and see what you think. 

(We find the Genesis 5 genealogy also in Luke 3:36-38 in reverse. It ends with Adam, making the point that he alone was a son of God. From Adam on, all are sons of Adam, sons of man.)

Adam אדם
Adam means man, mankind. (Genesis 1:26) Interestingly both the first man and the first woman were “Adam.” (Genesis 1:27) Eve was not named until after the fall. (Genesis 3:20)

Seth שת
Adam's son was named Seth, which means appointed. Eve said of her son: “"For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed."” (Genesis 4:25).

Enosh אנוש
Seth's son was called Enosh, meaning mortal. From the root anash, it speaks of an incurable wound, grief, sickness, or wickedness.

Kenan קינן
Enosh's son was named Kenan, which is believed to mean sorrow. (It is believed that Kenan is synonymous with Cainan.)

Mahalalel מהללאל
Kenan's son was Mahalalel. Ma’halal means blessed or praise; and El in Hebrew is God. Thus, Mahalalel means the Blessed God. Biblical names often include El, the name of God, as Daniel,  which means, “God is my Judge.”

Jared (Ya’redירד
Mahalalel's son was named Ya’red. The Hebrew word, yaradh, means shall come down.

Enoch (Chanochחנוך
Jared's son was named EnochChanoch in Hebrew, which means teaching. “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). He did not see death, Hebrews 11:5 tells us, for he pleased God. Jude 1:14-15 also mentions Enoch prophesying the return of Yeshua: “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Methuselah מתושלח
Enoch was the father of Methuselah, who died the year of the great flood. His name means His death shall bring.

Lamech למך
Methuselah's son was named Lamech, meaning despairing. The root word forms our own English word, lament or lamentation. 

Noah (Noach) נח
Lamech is the father of Noah. Noah means rest or comfort, for Lamech said when naming him, “This one will comfort us...” (Genesis 5:29) The Hebrew word for comfort is nacham  נחם, and not only means comfort or rest, but interestingly,  it also means repentance.

Putting it all together:
Man [is] appointed [to] mortal sorrow; [but] the Blessed God shall come

down teaching; His death shall bring the despairing rest, or comfort.

We encourage you to enjoy the following video teaching by Chuck Missler explaining this profound portion of text:

As you might imagine the production of the weekly Parashah is a rather labor intensive process. Consequently some much needed R and R accounts for a brief offering from time to time. Since we have grown to love our communication with you, we will still endeavor to have some "challah" to share around the Lord’s Shabbat table. Hopefully they will pique your interest and be spiritually enriching. It is our joy to study and write. Because of you it has been our blessing to minister in this very special way.
Richest blessings to you this Shabbat!
In Messiah's Love,
Michael and Sarah Lynn