Friday, March 6, 2015

The Hidden Hand of God | Parashat Ki Tisa | By His EVERY Word






Parashat Ki Tisa

  פרשת כי תשא
 “When you take...”

Torah Portion: Exodus 30:11-34:35
Haftarah:1 Kings 18:1-39
B'rit Chadashah/New Covenant: 
II Corinthians 3:1-18


Shabbat | 27 February 2016 | 18 Adar1 5776





A Modern Purim Play 
The Hidden God
We have just come through the joyous celebration of Purim, found in the book of Esther, commemorating the deliverance of the Jews in Persia around 485 BC. 

A powerful story of intrigue involving an attempt to annihilate the Jewish People, the Hand of God becomes evident, working behind the scenes, to a glorious victory of profound Divine justice—although God is not mentioned once throughout the entire book. 

The wicked strategy of Haman is exposed to the king, and in a brilliant turn of justice, Haman is executed on the very device he constructed to murder God’s Chosen peoplethe sort of ending we always hope for! 

Thus, this miraculous deliverance is celebrated every year—traditionally through the reading and reenacting the narrative in drama, called a Purim Play (or "shpiel" in Yiddish).
“So these days were to be remembered and celebrated throughout every generation, every family, every province and every city; and these days of Purim were not to fail from among the Jews, or their memory fade from their  descendants.” (Esther 9:28)
For Such a Time as THIS


Why does YHVH instruct us to remember and celebrate His deliverances?
Perhaps it is because, as the writer of Ecclesiastes said: 

"That which has been is what will be,

That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun."
Eccliastes 1:9

Paul, too, explained:
"Now all these things happened to them as examples,
 and they were written for our admonition,
 upon whom the ends of the ages have come."

1 Corinthians 10:11

This grand deliverance was achieved through the courage and obedience of Esther, a young Jewish girl who risked her life to speak to the king on behalf of her People. She had a choice: live in luxury and the apparent safety of the royal position she found herself in, or discern the Hand of the Hidden God. Her cousin Mordechai told her: 
“Do not imagine that you in the king's palace can escape any more than all the Jews. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14)
Esther responded with that famous line, “I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish, (Esther 4:16) acknowledging that the death penalty awaits anyone—even the queen—who approached the king without the golden scepter being extended to them.
In the midst of the height of Persian luxury, Esther and her maidens refused all food and drink for three days, and she asked Mordechai to have the Jews of Susa fast for her as well before she approached the king.

What could move a person to risk their fortune, favor, and position? It’s a rare thing. We generally read success as God’s blessing and favor for our enjoyment and discretion, don’t we? 

The Bible, however, communicates a different view—one in which we are to be living sacrifices, serving one another—even putting others’ needs before our own. 
“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” (Romans 12:1,10)
Esther could not enjoy her blessings and close her ears to the suffering of her people, as she expressed to the king: For how can I endure to see the calamity which will befall my people, and how can I endure to see the destruction of my kindred? (Esther 8:6)

Nothing New Under the Sun
...
The story of the persecution of the Jews in Persia is all too familiar. Throughout history, wicked men and movements have risen up against God’s Chosen People. The land and the nation of Israel, scattered throughout the earth, cannot be annihilated, as Adonai has promised by the power of His Name to preserve them. 

Yet grievous suffering, expulsions, pogroms, and the mass murder of entire Jewish populaces have taken place in attempt after attempt to annihilate the Jews while good people and God’s people have stood by and done relatively little to intercede.

The spectre of Persia has risen its fist against Israel once again. 

Enter Haman...
Openly vowing Israel's annihilation, empowering and arming jihadists seeking Israel's (and the west's) destruction, and flaunting its own military and impending nuclear might, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was  a modern day Haman. 

In 2005, he promised a Middle East "without the Zionist entity," and has consistently and forcefully reiterated his commitment to Israel's destruction, as well as destabilization of the region since that time. 
Though now out of office his successor, Hassan Rouhani, has not renounced or materially moderated former President Ahmadinejad' policies
And Iran wants nuclear sanctions and limitations removed for their unlimited development of peaceful nuclear enrichment capability...for power plants and medicine. Right.


A nuclear capable Iran is unthinkable—for Israel, the Middle East, and the world.

And this at a time that radical Islam throughout the Middle East is a powder keg ready to blow. 

Militarized factions and regimes within and without Lebanon and Syriaon Israel's bordersare turning those countries into apocalyptic killing fields and ghost cities of rubble, land mines, and dismembered humanity, ruled by snipers. 

Add to this volatile mix the rise of ISIS and the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate, a barbaric and bloodthirsty world domination movement that respects neither geographic borders nor any human authority. Their commitment to kill every Jew, Christian, and even Muslim who doesn't believe in their radical interpretation of Islam on their way to establishing the worldwide Islamic state, has been demonstrated graphically in mass killings broadcast on television and the internet

Israel is a tiny Island of western ideology and modern civilization in the center of this explosive maelstrom. And she is in everyone's crosshairs.

For the first time since the rebirth of the State and the war for independence in 1948, Israel is facing a credible threat to her very existence without the assurance that her most powerful ally, the U.S., is standing with her. She is essentially standing alone at this critical time.

Enter Esther... 



Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, addressed the U.S. Congress this past week amid a firestorm of political criticism, repudiation, and high level rebuff which included blatant boycotting of his speech by more than 50 congressmen, and a failure to attend or greet this (formerly) esteemed Head of State by both the President and Vice President.

PM Netanyahu, however, proved himself to be a gracious and responsible statesman, rising above the petty politics. 


Like a modern day Esther, he weathered the inevitable backlash to bring the survival of his people Israel to the awareness of those who are in a position to help.

Interestingly, PM Netanyanu’s visit was just a day before Israel would celebrate Purim, the commemoration of the deliverance recorded in the book of Esther, which he mentioned. Although Israel is essentially a “secular” state, it is evident that the Hand of YHVH is upon this tiny nation, just as in the book of Esther, the Name of God is not mentioned, yet His Hand is evident. Her survival stands as testimony that the Bible is the trustworthy Word of YHVH —the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.


Following is an excerpt of PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3, 2015 speech


“Thank you, America. Thank you for everything you’ve done for Israel.
"My friends, I’ve come here today because, as Prime Minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.
"We’re an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people. Tomorrow night, on the Jewish holiday of Purim, we’ll read the Book of Esther. We’ll read of a powerful Persian viceroy named Haman, who plotted to destroy the Jewish people some 2,500 years ago. But a courageous Jewish woman, Queen Esther, exposed the plot and gave for the Jewish people the right to defend themselves against their enemies. The plot was foiled. Our people were saved. 
"Today the Jewish people face another attempt by yet another Persian potentate to destroy us. Iran’s leaders spew the oldest hatred, the oldest hatred of anti-Semitism with the newest technology. They tweet that Israel must be annihilated—the tweets in English say that Israel must be destroyed. 
"Iran’s regime is as radical as ever, its cries of “Death to America,” that same America that it calls the “Great Satan,” as loud as ever. Now, this shouldn’t be surprising, because the ideology of Iran’s revolutionary regime is deeply rooted in militant Islam, and that’s why this regime will always be an enemy of America.
"Don’t be fooled. The battle between Iran and ISIS doesn’t turn Iran into a friend of America. Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire. 
"In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone. So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy. 
"The difference is that ISIS is armed with butcher knives, captured weapons
and YouTube, whereas Iran could soon be armed with intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs. We must always rememberI’ll say it one more timethe greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can’t let that happen. 
"But that, my friends, is exactly what could happen, if the deal now being negotiated is accepted by Iran. That deal will not prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. It would all but guarantee that Iran gets those weapons, lots of them. 
"Let me explain why. While the final deal has not yet been signed, certain elements of any potential deal are now a matter of public record. You don’t need intelligence agencies and secret information to know this. You can Google it. Absent a dramatic change, we know for sure that any deal with Iran will include two major concessions to Iran. 
"The first major concession would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure, providing it with a short breakout time to the bomb. Breakout time is the time it takes to amass enough weapons-grade uranium or plutonium for a nuclear bomb.
"According to the deal, not a single nuclear facility would be demolished.
Thousands of centrifuges used to enrich uranium would be left spinning. Thousands more would be temporarily disconnected, but not destroyed.
Because Iran’s nuclear program would be left largely intact, Iran’s breakout time would be very shortabout a year by U.S. assessment, even shorter by Israel’s. 
"And if Iran’s work on advanced centrifuges, faster and faster centrifuges, is not stopped, that breakout time could still be shorter, a lot shorter.
"The foremost sponsor of global terrorism could be weeks away from having enough enriched uranium for an entire arsenal of nuclear weapons and this with full international legitimacy.
"And by the way, if Iran’s intercontinental ballistic missile program is not part of the deal, and so far, Iran refuses to even put it on the negotiating table. Well, Iran could have the means to deliver that nuclear arsenal to the far-reaching corners of the Earth, including to every part of the United States
"This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control. And the Middle East would soon be crisscrossed by nuclear tripwires. A region where small skirmishes can trigger big wars would turn into a nuclear tinderbox.
"If anyone thinks this deal kicks the can down the road, think again. When we get down that road, we’ll face a much more dangerous Iran, a Middle East littered with nuclear bombs and a countdown to a potential nuclear nightmare."

  • WATCH Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Address US Joint Meeting of Congress 3/3/15: LINK
  • READ Full Transcript Here: LINK


Perhaps the most inexplicable and heartbreaking enemy of Israel are those that rise up from within Christendom, of which there is no shortage.

Jesus, the Palestinian Martyr
While radical Islam has all but wiped out the evangelical church throughout the Middle East, a new expression of “Christianity” has taken hold—"Palestinian" Christianity. Related to Liberation Theology, it has repackaged Replacement Theology, making it sound more palatable as "Fulfillment Theology."

Proponents of "Fulfillment Theology," such as Naim Ateek and Carl Medearis, a popular writer and speaker in U.S. churches and Christian colleges, assert that everything the Old Testament prophets said about the land and people of Israel has already been “fulfilled” through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Therefore, Israel has no future or prophetic significance because the church is “the new Israel." 

Widely embraced by Arabs, this theology puts forth a new Jesusa Palestinian Jesus who was martyred by the Jews. Naim Ateek’s 2001 Easter message demonized Israel and equated Jesus’ sufferings with the struggle of modern Palestinian Arabs:
"Here in Palestine Jesus is again walking the via dolorosa. the suffering of Jesus Christ at the hands of evil political and religious powers two thousand years ago is lived out again in Palestine. ...it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. The number of innocent Palestinians and Israelis that have fallen victim to Israeli state policy is increasingIt only takes people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull."
 Some of the claims of this twisted belief system are:
  • Jesus was a Palestinian (even though the word Palestine wasn’t invented until 135AD by the Roman conquerors in order to blot out the memory of Israel and Israel’s God)
  • Jesus was the first Palestinian shahid murdered by the Jews (martyr—shahid is what they call suicide bombers)
  • The God of Christianity and Judaism is the same as the God of Islam  
  • Ishmael was promised the same rights to the Land of Israel as Isaac 
This gross deception is sweeping through the western church, and playing into the hands of a well-planned strategy by Yasser Arafat's PLO. Rewriting history in the land of Israel in order to deny Israel's right to exist has been central to the PLO (Palestine Liberation [terrorist] Organization) and the PA (Palestinian Authority) media campaign. For decades, they have carefully worked to fabricate a "Palestinian" history, and delegitimize and erase Israel's 3,000 year plus history in the land of Israel, while creating a public perception of Israel as usurper and aggressor, all the while perpetrating heinous terrorist acts in plain sight!

Yasser Arafat, a Muslim and a criminal who defrauded his people of untold millions of dollars of aid, feeding it into his personal coffers, feigned Christmas in Bethlehem celebrations for the world media, complete with a Palestinian Jesus "who wept for his martyred brothers and sisters."

What does this deception have to do with those who follow the true Messiah? Unfortunately, unequally yoked, far too many have fallen prey to the false cause and have become infected with hatred against Israel and Jews, buying the grievous lies and false accusations such as “Israel Apartheid!” “Occupiers!” “Murderers!” “Israelis and Jews are the New Nazis!” 

Entire church denominations are captivated, some of whom have become activists against Israel. Their call to action: "BOYCOTT, DIVEST and SANCTION!" (BDS) 

Churches who do not become embroiled in the anti-Israel movement (which is anti-Semitism by another name), are largely silent, labeling Israel “a political issue,” rather than spiritual. Therefore they can say it is not “our” problem. 

Yet, the majority of the Bible focuses on Israel and the Jewish People! Israel is
mentioned more than 2,575 times. “Palestine” is not mentioned once. (With the exception of the King James version, where it is used erroneously twice. The Hebrew word is actually Peleshet—Philistia, the land of the Philistines. It is not “Palestine,” which hadn’t been invented yet. Palestine is a name that is an affront to the God of Jews and Christians.)

The world presses Israel to continue to uproot her citizens and give more land to her “peace partners” in spite of the fact she has received only violence and rockets in return, and the Arabs still refuse to acknowledge her right to exist.

As the Jews were hauled off to the death camps during the Holocaust, many survivors wrote in their memoirs of  hearing Christians singing hymns in their churches. As their trains rolled past hamlet and town, cattle cars packed to capacity with the dead, dying, terrorized, and suffering; God’s Chosen People, were abandoned to a world gone mad with an inhuman hatred.


Who will speak in this generation for Israel?



Exodus 30  Separating the Common from the Holy

vv. 11-15 “The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying, When you take a census of the sons of Israel to number them, then each one of them shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, so that there will be no plague among them when you number them. This is what everyone who is numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary ... Everyone who is numbered, from twenty years old and over, shall give the contribution to the LORD. The rich shall not pay more and the poor shall not pay less...” 


The Hebrew commentaries explain that this difficult to understand passage is more concisely phrased When you lift the heads of sons of Israel to muster them... as an army before a battle.

The Hebrew word paqad פקד translated here to number is better understood as muster. Also, nasa et rosh תִשָּׂא אֶת־רֹאשׁ is literally lift the head rather than take a census

The commentaries suggest that Adonai used the half shekel rather than having people counted directly, which would have caused confusion with His later disapproval of doing just that. People are sacred creations, and thus are not to be thought of as numbers.


In this light, one has to see the mocking hand of the enemy in tattooing numbers on every new arrival to Hitler’s death camps....


Sacred Anointing Oil and Incense

vv. 22-33 “Moreover, the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take also for yourself the finest of spices: of flowing myrrh five hundred shekels, and of fragrant cinnamon half as much, two hundred and fifty, and of fragrant cane two and of cassia five hundred, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and of olive oil a hin. You shall make of these a holy anointing oil, a perfume mixture, the work of a perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering and all its utensils, and the laver and its stand. You shall also consecrate them, that they may be most holy; whatever touches them shall be holy. You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister as priests to Me.

“You shall speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on anyone's body, nor shall you make any like it in the same proportions; it is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whoever shall mix any like it or whoever puts any of it on a layman (a stranger) shall be cut off from his people.’”
 


Adonai has some further explicit instructions for the tabernacle—for the making and use
of the Sacred Anointing Oil and Incense. Once again, Israel is learning an imperative of YHVH—not to mix the common with the holy. This will be reinforced throughout the Scriptures in a multitude of ways. It is extremely important to the LORD. 


“Her priests have done violence to My law and have profaned My holy things; they have made no distinction between the holy and the profane, and they have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean; and they hide their eyes from My sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.” (Ezekiel 22:26)
How much more is expected of those who have received the great gift of eternal life at the unfathomable cost to our gracious God and King? Who have the full revelation of His Word written on their inward parts, and the empowerment of His Spirit to walk in His ways... His call remains today, as it has been from the beginning, Be holy—set apart, separated from the ways and the love of the things of the world—as I am Holy.

vv. 34-38 
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Take for yourself spices, stacte and onycha and galbanum, spices with pure frankincense; there shall be an equal part of each. The incense which you shall make, you shall not make in the same proportions for yourselves; it shall be holy to you for the LORD. Whoever shall make any like it, to use as perfume, shall be cut off from his people.’” 

From the beginning to the end, Adonai is preparing a people to dwell with Him for eternity. Those things He desires should be our desires; those things he finds abhorrent should also be abhorrent to us. As denizens of His glorious city in eternity, the New Jerusalem, whose brilliance emanates from the Almighty and the Lamb—who are the Temple, there will be no mixture, no unclean thing. 
 

“And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it,

for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 

The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 
In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed;

and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; 

and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying,

shall ever come into it,
but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.”

(Revelation 21:23-27)

Exodus 31  God’s Heart for the Artisan and the Sabbath

vv. 1-5 “Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘See, I have called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. ‘I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver, and in bronze and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, that he may work in all kinds of craftsmanship.’” 

The name Bezalel, Betzalel בצלאל, means in the shadow of the Almighty.

Artisans can use their creative gifts to exalt God and lift mankind, or exalt themselves and defile mankind. As believers, our talents are not our own, but His to express Himself through us. It is a privilege and honor to share this gift of creativity with the Master Creator.

The first art institute in Israel in modern times was established in 1906 in Jerusalem. It was named the Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts, after this biblical artisan. The institute produced many beautiful biblically-themed pieces. Bezalel celebrated their centennial in 2006.


Immediately after instructions for the Holy Tabernacle, Adonai gives great emphasis to
the Sabbath: The Sabbath is a sign between the sons of Israel and Adonai for all generations; it reestablishes Adonai as redeemer; celebrating the Sabbath brings refreshing; it is a covenant; death and exile follows desecration of God’s Holy Day.


vv. 12-17 “The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.’” 

The Sabbath was more than a day of rest. Its observance by the Israelites was a constantly recurring acknowledgment of God as the Creator of the Universe. It would be an open denial of God for an Israelite to desecrate the Sabbath, even in the construction of the Tabernacle; as well as a contradiction of the essential purpose of the Sanctuary, the sanctification of Israel’s life in the serve of God.”
 From The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, Chief Rabbi Dr. J.H. Hertz, 1938

v. 18 “When He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.” 


The first tablets were written by the finger of Adonai...

Exodus 32  The High Cost of a God of Gold

vv. 1-4 “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him. Aaron said to them, ‘Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.’” 

It had been less than six weeks since Israel had stood in the awesome presence of Adonai and received the commandment against making graven images, where they had declared, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” (Exodus 24:7) The visible Presence attended them day and night in a pillar of fire and smoke. They had witnessed the Hand of God in wonders and miracles of deliverance in Egypt, and in the crossing of the Sea of Reeds.


This seems inexplicable. It’s tempting to write it off to “the stiff-necked Jews.” Yet, all is written for our example. (1 Corinthians 10:11) 

The Jews are a microcosm of mankind. In our own context, we do exactly the same thing—it just looks different. 

We don’t trust God in all things. We define His Word to suit our desires and needs. 

Who among us is 100% faithful 100% of the time? This is why we need a Savior.

v. 5 “Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.’” 

This is very interesting. Aaron sees the idol, builds an altar, and then proclaims that the next day there will be a feast ... not to the god of gold, but to the LORD—YHVH

Was he stalling, hoping Moses would return? Was he hoping the people would come to their senses by the next day? Was he thinking it would be acceptable to worship YHVH and a graven image—one of the gods of Egypt?

Meanwhile on the mountain...

vv. 7-10 “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, ‘Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it ... Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.’” 


Adonai is furious and ready to wipe out Israel and start over with Moses and his descendants! Such is the magnitude of the sin of idolatry to our Holy God.

vv. 12-13 Moses intercedes, protective of the Name of YHVH—“the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” 

“Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth?’ Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 


This is a vital point. All who trust in the LORD should also be protective of His Name. Does our life bring glory or reproach to His Holy Name? We also see in this exchange the overriding impetus for God’s everlasting covenant with Israel—it’s for His Name’s sake—regardless of her spiritual state.


So the LORD relented and Moses “went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other. The tablets were God's work, and the writing was God's writing engraved on the tablets” (vs. 15-16).

When Moses saw the golden calf and the people dancing with his own eyes—the very thing the LORD had seen and told him about, his anger was ignited and he threw down the tablets, shattering them.

He burned the golden calf and ground it down to fine dust, and made all the sons of Israel drink the ashes of it mixed with water, partaking of the sin together.

Moses stood at the gate of the camp and challenged the people: “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him.” (v. 26) And then charged those who stood with LORD to kill every man—brother, neighbor or friend—who did not.

v. 29 The cost of rebellion to Adonai in the camp was terrific. Three thousand men fell that day. Moses then instructed the living: “Dedicate yourselves today to the LORD—for every man has been against his son and against his brother—in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.”


And Moses went up the mountain to entreat the LORD for atonement on their behalf.


Exodus 33  Contrition of the People

vv.1-4 “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, ‘Depart, go up from here, you and the people whom you have brought up from the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘To your descendants I will give it. I will send an angel before you and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way.’ When the people heard this sad word, they went into mourning, and none of them put on his ornaments.” 


Adonai would not revoke His promises from Israel, but He was not yet ready to “tabernacle” among them at the moment. The hearts of the people were filled with remorse and shame in spite of the renewed promise.


vv. 7-11“Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting which was outside the camp. And it came about, whenever Moses went out to the tent, that all the people would arise and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and gaze after Moses until he entered the tent. Whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the LORD would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent. Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.” 


Adonai would not abide in close fellowship during this time with the sons of Israel. However, as Moses had not sinned, He met with him outside the camp.



v. 18 Immediately following, Moses requests of Adonai,
  “I pray You, show me Your glory!” 


v. 20 Adonai answers, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” although verse 11 said He used to “speak to Moses face to face.

v. 23 Adonai promises however, to pass by him in a special place, shielded in the cleft of the rock, and covered by His Hand, “Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.” 
“Even as a ship sails through the waters of ocean and leaves its wake behind, so God may be known by His Divine “footprints” in human history, by His traces in the human soul.”

From The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, Chief Rabbi Dr. J.H. Hertz, 1938


Exodus 34  The Second Set of Tablets and The Thirteen Attributes of God’s Nature

Moses ascends the mountain of the LORD once again and prostrates himself before Adonai in prayer and supplication. He will return to his people after forty days with a second set of tablets—these in his own hand, not carved by the Hand of God—and a Heavenly commentary on the commandments. Known as the thirteen attributes of the Divine Nature, each is a synonym of the everlasting mercy of God.

vv. 2-5 “So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain. So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand. The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD.


The Thirteen Divine Attributes

vv. 6-7 “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.’” 


Moses, prostrating himself before Adonai asked forgiveness for the sins of his people, and that Adonai would take this people as His possession, His inheritance.


v. 10 Adonai answered, “Behold, I am going to make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform miracles which have not been produced in all the earth nor among any of the nations; and all the people among whom you live will see the working of the LORD, for it is a fearful thing that I am going to perform with you.” 

Adonai reiterated the importance of obedience to His Word, and His promise to drive out before Israel all the Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, Canaanites and Jebusites.

vv. 11-16 Once again, Adonai impresses the importance of not making a covenant “with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim—for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God—otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods. 


Adonai knows what humankind is made of. He knows how easily we slip into compromise and mixture.
 His people are to be separate unto Him;
 His Land a place for His Holy Name.


v. 17 Adonai spells out clearly, “You shall make for yourself no molten gods.” 

He then gives Moses the yearly rhythm of appointed times—the Feasts of Israel, and various regulations of observance.

v. 28 So Moses was on the mountain “with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did not eat bread or drink water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments.” 

v. 29 When he came down from the mountain with the tablets of the testimony, “the skin of his face shone,” from being in the Divine Presence, and Aaron and the sons of Israel were afraid to come near to him. So Moses had to veil his face.
As noted in a previous commentary, it was from a mistranslation in the Latin Vulgate in verse 29 of the word shone, in Hebrew karan קרן, to keren, which means horns, that caused some Renaissance artists to depict Moses with horns, and spawned the sinister myth that all Jews have horns under their hair.
Find out more: MOSES WITH HORNS? CLICK HERE

To be continued...




Haftarah Ki Tisa
1 Kings 18:1-39

What youth in Bible study class has not been taught the story of Elijah slaying the prophets of Baal. It’s great stuff. The sages undoubtedly picked this portion of Scripture and its story because of its similarity with the confrontation Moses had had with a sinning Jewish people and their turning to another God.

In Moses’ case he came down from a mountain top experience with Adonai to confront a Jewish nation that had decided that worshiping another God was a better deal for them than being faithful to the one true God who had just led them out of bondage. Chastisement along with proof of who the true God was followed. We have a very similar theme in our haftarah portion.  

In our I kings passage we see the prophet Elijah challenging 450 of the prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. As you will recall in this story Elijah prevails. As much as they tried the 850 could not succeed in having their gods send fire from heaven to burn up the sacrifice they had laid out for them. Well, of course not. These nonexistent gods represented by inadequate demonic power at best could not outdo the real and all powerful God of Elijah. Having failed their test, Elijah now steps up and calls upon Adonai. God sends fire from heaven, burns up the sacrifice, and thus once again legitimatizes Himself as the true God of Israel. 

What we have in these two stories of Moses and Elijah are two rebellious and idolatrous groups of Jews, and two men of God who stand against them. Both men trust in Adonai who honors that trust and brings them  victory against the many who outnumber them. For Moses there is the slaying of 3000 by the edge of the Levite sword, and for Elijah a similar death for the 850 false prophets by a people now enlightened and returned in service to the one true God.

Is there a message for the believer here. I think so. We live in a day when those following Messiah as their Lord and Savior are truly in the minority. The majority, whether blatant unbeliever or pretender to the faith not only are much larger in number but wield great power in the social and political world. It is a match-up that on its surface looks so lopsided it must be unwinnable. But it isn’t.

Scripture is very clear that there is nothing so great in its opposition to righteousness that it is ever able to overcome Adonai. And when we allow Him to work through us we are partakers of His victory.     

Consider Romans 8:37 in the NASB, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” The King James Version translates it, “...we are more than conquers through Him...” I really like the interlinear’s rendering of the Greek word in play, “we over-conquer.”  
                                                                                                           
Are you living as a conquer through Christ’s working in you? If not, you have sidelined yourself. But if your out on the field of play, if your allowing the Savior to work through you then be very busy. Be a Moses, an Elijah. Slay what is ungodly, and see righteousness reign victorious. 



B’rit Chadashah Ki Tisa
2 Corinthians 3:1-18

In II Corinthians 2:14-17 Paul tells us a bit about his ministry. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.”

This passage both thrills me and breaks my heart. It leads me to understand that our ministry in sharing the gospel will both bring some to that saving knowledge of the Messiah and for others serve as a condemnation for their not responding to God’s free gift of eternal life through the Messiah, “...to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life” (v. 16). But see the next line, “And who is adequate for these things?”

Paul is really asking, Who is bold enough to bear this ministry? Consider the weightiness of the issue. By our message some will be saved, and by our message some will be condemned because they will not respond. Where could enough boldness come from to initiate a message such as this?

Our answer is found in 3:5-6. “...but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant..” That boldness then all starts with God. It is He that makes us adequate (What better adequacy could one have?) or bold enough to do the work He calls us to.

It’s not hard now to see how Elijah could have had enough boldness to initiate his challenge to the 450 prophets of Baal. God empowered him to do it. Elijah did it. And then God outwardly blessed him for trusting in His adequacy... as Elijah acted on that empowerment, and then saw his God bless as a result of it.

As we consider the time ahead left for us to spread the Good News of Yeshua, we never have to wonder where our boldness or adequacy to do this job will come from. The power to initiate the witnessing process will come from God.  Just as Elijah gained his adequacy to initiate the challenge to the 450 false prophets so will our God adequately provide the  boldness, ability, and ultimately even the success for the task He has called us to do.


Now let’s get busy...


In Messiah's Love,
Michael and Sarah Lynn