Thursday, January 19, 2017

Holy Ground | Parashat Shemot | By His EVERY Word

Parashat Shemot

פרשת שמות
“Now these are the names of the sons of Israel, who came into Egypt with Jacob...” Exodus 1:1

Torah Portion: Exodus 1:1-6:1
Haftarah: Isaiah 27:6 - 28:13 / 29:22-23     
B’rit Chadash/New Covenant: 
Acts 7:17-35 / I Corinthians 14:18-25

Shabbat | 21 January 2017 | 23 Tevet 5777

You Are Standing on Holy Ground
As we close the scroll of Genesis and unfurl the pages of Exodus, we find Israel’s generations still sojourning in Egypt, greatly increased in wealth and number. Joseph brought untold prosperity to the land, saving Egypt alone from a vast regional famine. However, the new monarch sees Joseph’s family only through nationalistic eyes and this exemplifies the familiar sentiment that will plague the children of Israel through time immemorial. This ruler decides they are foreigners who have grown too powerful. They must be crushed! 

Overarching favor has quickly dissolved into unbearable oppression—threatening their very existencea common story for the children of Abraham

But God ...


God had not closed his eyes or ears to the suffering of His People, nor forgotten His Covenant. His plan is complex and exquisitely timed. 

We often think Adonai has taken no notice of our plight nor heard our prayers as a situation lingers in our own lives and we wait upon deliverance. Yet when deliverance comes, it is often prodigious, bringing glory to Him alone who could have wrought it! 

This is holy ground...

...when we can take that humbling step

 and release our grip on the things of this life,

 and grasp that Heavenly view of pleasing Adonai

 whose ways are so very much
 “other than” ours.


Here is that which signifies the inception

 of the call and commission of Moses …

and what is at the root of the cosmic clash

for spiritual sovereignty.

Join us now at the Father’s table as we keep the rhythm of Israel for more than two millennia, anticipating fresh manna from our God and King. As followers of Messiah we have added a corresponding New Covenant portion reflecting the fulfillment and crown of the Torah.

Exodus 1  Satan’s War Against the Children of Abraham
vv. 1-11 “Now these are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob; they came each one with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. All the persons who came from the loins of Jacob were seventy in number, but Joseph was already in Egypt. Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. But the sons of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly, and multiplied, and became exceedingly mighty, so that the land was filled with them. Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, ‘Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.’ So they appointed taskmasters over them to afflict them with hard labor. And they built for Pharaoh storage cities, Pithom and Raamses.” 

A new Pharaoh has come to power in Egypt, possibly Thutmose III, and the families of Jacob, headed by the Twelve Tribes of Israel have continued to prosper and multiply. Our text says the king did not know Joseph, implying he did not know the high position he had held or how he had saved Egypt from the great famine. 
However, Egypt was among the earliest civilizations to place an emphasis on recording history. It is highly unlikely that he did not know of Joseph, his history, family or deeds. 
The Hebrew word for “know,” yada ידע however, can also be translated as “acknowledge.” This makes more sense in this context: the king did not acknowledge Joseph.
LIES. Here begins the grievous legacy of the serpent (satan) against the sons of Abraham: “the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we...”

Of course the sons of Israel could not possibly have been more numerous nor mightier than Pharaoh, his armies, or the people of Egypt. Truth is rarely important when rousing antisemitic fervor as we will see repeatedly throughout history. 

Why? Where does this spring from? Adonai has promised that through Abraham’s seed, blessings will flow to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3), and indeed, we have already seen this realized through the lives of our Patriarchs being a blessing and bringing prosperity to others.

Egypt has been a great recipient of this blessing as well, yet rather than honor this tiny people for their blessings, antipathy arises against her—ultimately a murderous hatred.
A Cosmic Clash for Spiritual Sovereignty
We have to look back to Genesis 3:15 for understanding as this is an immense cosmic clash over spiritual sovereignty—and the serpent’s desperate attempts at survival. Genesis 3:15 established the deadly animosity that satan would unleash against the children of Abraham which would manifest itself throughout time and generations when Adonai proclaimed, “...I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head...” This is the protoevangelium, the pre-Gospel, the promised Messiah, who will bruise, strike, or crush satan’s power.

In generation after generation, the serpent will attempt to thwart the Divine redemptive plan. He will try to annihilate the very people Adonai has promised to preserve, and he will vainly attempt to stop the promised Deliverer. He will even inspire mass exterminations of babies in the very generation that will bring forth the first redeemer, Moses, and once again under Herod, when Yeshua is born. If he succeeded (which he cannot) it would nullify the Bible and cause Adonai to be perceived a liar, as well as preserve satan’s life.
vv. 12-16 “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and the more they spread out, so that they were in dread of the sons of Israel. The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them. Then the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other was named Puah; and he said, ‘When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live.’”

Hatred and Oppression Turn Murderous 
When harsh and cruel labor didn’t crush the sons of Israel, the king of Egypt conceived a plan to murder all male Israelite babies. He enlisted the services of the Hebrew midwives to carry this out. If the Hebrew males were diminished, the remaining females could be married off into Egypt and disappear into the population, no longer remaining a distinct people.

This was not to be. The sons of Israel remain in the palm of God’s Hand, under His Divine preservation. “...they rejected My ordinances and their soul abhorred My statutes. Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God.” Leviticus 26:43,44
A living testimony to the faithfulness of Adonai, the children of Abraham have remained a “peculiar people,” (Deuteronomy 14:2) throughout all time. However, for most of that time they have not had a homeland, but have been scattered throughout the world.
vv. 17-22 But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live. ...So God was good to the midwives, and the people multiplied, and became very mighty. Because the midwives feared God, He established households for them. Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, ‘Every son who is born you are to cast into the Nile, and every daughter you are to keep alive.’”

All Egypt Charged to Murder Israel’s Babies Not surprisingly, the Hebrew midwives could not carry out the deplorable deed asked of them, as “they feared God.” God honored them for disobeying the king for righteousness’ sake and “established households for them.” 

Throughout history, very few people have taken a stand against the murderous rampages against the Jews, whether it be the pogroms of Russia or the Holocaust of Eastern Europe. There are, however, those "Righteous Gentiles," honored in the Holocaust museums for their sacrifice, bravery, and kindness on behalf of God's Chosen People in the face of great evil 
Not unlike Hitler, this Pharaoh roused the hatred of an entire region senselessly against the Children of Abraham, now charging them with the duty to murder all male Hebrew babies.
We must never forget, however, that the great drama unfolding on earth is but a reflection of battles in heavenly realms. Pharaoh may have thought he was pulling all the strings, but perhaps someone was pulling his strings... Someone who had much to gain from this great lie and this great barbaric bloodbath. 
This was the generation that would birth the first deliverer—Moses. Moses was to lead a people before their God, and into the Promised Land. This Land would herald the King of kings and Lord of lords, all to finally crush the serpent’s head.

Exodus 2  Moses—Deliverance of the Deliverer

vv. 1-3 “Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile.”
The Exodus narrative is sublimely genius, supremely dramatic, and marvelously heroic. From the gaping jaws  of death, sated with the lives of Israel’s sons, her future deliverer is rescued—into the very royal residence that decreed the mass annihilation designed to destroy him!

v. 2 Our text says that the baby was beautiful. However, the word tov טוֹב, actually
means: “good, pleasant (to the higher nature), morally good, agreeable, kind, excellent, etc.” Of the more than 550 usages in Scripture, we see it translated as beautiful with regards to appearance only in 2 Sam. 11:2 and Esther 2:7.

We all know the familiar story of the baby Moses being set adrift upon the Nile in a basket, made waterproof. The baby’s sister watches the basket as it floats downstream to see what will happen.

v. 5 Providentially, the daughter of Pharaoh “came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and she brought it to her.”

v. 6 When she opened the basket and saw the baby crying, the text says she had pity on him—even though she recognized that he was “one of the Hebrews’ children.” 

Here’s where it gets good. The baby’s sister approaches Pharaoh’s daughter and helpfully offers to call for someone among the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for her.

Pharaoh’s daughter agreed, so the baby’s sister runs and brings the baby’s mother back and she is hired to nurse her own baby! And paid for it.

v. 9 “Then Pharaoh's daughter said to her, ‘Take this child away and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed him.” 

v. 10 Eventually the baby became a youthyeled ילד in Hebrewand was brought to Pharaoh’s daughter where he was made her adopted son.  He was named Moses, in Hebrew, Mosheh משה, which means drawn as he was drawn from the water. He grew up in Pharaoh’s court as son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but also remembered his years with his people as a young child. He was a child of Abraham, a child of the One True God, not a child of Egypt.

v. 11 “Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors...”

Such is the heart of a deliverer. The Hebrew word translated as had grown up is gadal גדל. It is more commonly translated: become great, powerful, or important.” 
Moses had grown up, but in the Pharaoh’s palace, he was also powerful and important. Yet he went to his poor brethrenHow different this is from most “great” men, who generally seek to distance themselves from their poor kinsmen, and their humble beginnings. But Moses went to the pits where his brethren toiled in agony making bricks in cruel bondage under Pharaoh’s harsh taskmasters.
There are ten strong things in the world, say the Rabbis: rock is strong but iron cleaves it; fire melts iron; water extinguishes fire; the clouds bear aloft the water; the wind drives away the clouds; man withstands the wind; fear unmans man; wind dispels fear; sleep overcomes wine; and death sweeps away even sleep. But strongest of all is lovingkindness, it defies and survives death.  
From The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, Chief Rabbi Dr. J.H. Hertz, 1938
Moses saw an Egyptian flogging one of his brethren as he worked under hard labor and was overcome with lovingkindness and pity for his kinsman. From plenteous sources we know of the barbaric treatment inflicted upon slaves in ancient Egypt. The harsh reality was likely more than Moses could bear. In a moment of passion, Moses struck down the Egyptian, killing him. He then became afraid and hid the body in the sand, hoping no one had seen.
But the matter came before Pharaoh and he wanted Moses’ life. So Moses fled to Midian in the Sinai peninsula, out of Egyptian reach. The Midianites were desert-dwellers, and descended from Abraham through Keturah, his second wife.
Once again, Moses intercedes on behalf of the down-trodden at his arrival in Midian—this time without violence.
v. 17 The seven daughters of the cohen, the priest of Midian had prepared the troughs to water their father’s flock when shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses “stood up and helped them and watered their flock.” 

v. 19 They were excited to tell their father of this event: An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock.”

Moses still had the appearance of an Egyptian, although he had the heart of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel!

v. 22 Their father bid them to invite this strange Egyptian to dinner, which led to Moses’ marriage to Zipporah, his Midianite wife. Zipporah צפרה means bird in Hebrew. They had a son and named him Gershom גרשם which means foreigner in Hebrew, “for he said, ‘I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.’” 

God hears the groaning of His People and remembers His Covenant “Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.”  vv. 23-25
God had not closed his eyes or ears to the sufferings of His People nor forgotten His Covenant, but His plan is complex and exquisitely timed. We often think Adonai has taken no notice of our plight nor heard our prayers as a situation lingers in our own lives. We wait upon deliverance, and then when deliverance comes, it is often prodigious, bringing glory to Him alone who could have wrought it.
This signifies the inception of the call and commission of Moses.

Exodus 3  You Are Standing on Holy Ground
vv. 1-5 “Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, ‘I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.’ When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.’” 

From the center of this astonishing sight—a bush that burns, but is not consumed, Adonai calls Moses by name twice, then tells him wait! stop! Remove your sandals, for this is holy קדש kodesh ground אדמה adamah

WHY? What does this mean? In English, the word “holy” doesn’t mean much, but in Hebrew, the language God chose to express Himself and His spiritual truth, Holy, kodesh or kadosh, means sacred, set-apart [for God], separated [for God] ... by implication other than anything of the physical world. It is that which belongs to God alone.
Adonai, has manifested Himself before Moses and created a meeting place, defying all rules of nature as exemplified by the burning bush. This place is made sacred by His Divine Presence where He desires to lift Moses’ awareness and understanding beyond himself.

This is holy ground. When we can take that humbling step and release the hold of this life, grasping that Heavenly view of pleasing Adonai whose ways are so “other than” ours.

v. 6 Adonai spoke to Moses saying, “‘I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.” 

v. 8 The LORD then speaks to Moses in terms he will understand, because like Moses Adonai sees the affliction of,“My people, because of their cruel taskmasters.”  (This is the first time God calls them “My people.

Then He tells Moses that He has “come down” to deliver them from the Egyptians “and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite...” 

v. 9  Adonai reiterates, “‘Now, behold, the cry of the sons of Israel has come to Me; furthermore, I have seen the oppression with which the Egyptians are oppressing them.’” 

He must have had Moses’ full attention, as this was Moses’ deeply held sentiments as well. Moses must have been inwardly rejoicing!

v. 10 Until he heard the plan: “Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” 

v. 11 Me?! Whoa, wait a minute! “But Moses said to God, ‘Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?’”   

Actually, Moses is not as much resistant as humble. He sees himself as no more than a common Midianite shepherd. But his heart is stirred for his people, and for righteousness, kindness and justice. These are just the qualities that make him the right man in the sight of the LORD.

Adonai promises to be with him and makes a pact with him—when he brings His people out of Egypt, Adonai will meet him once again at this mountain.

The Self-existent, Ever-present, Eternal God, the I AM

v. 13 Moses then asks whom should he say has sent him? “Then Moses said to God, ‘Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?’” 

v. 14 “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 

אֶֽהְיֶה אֲשֶׁר אֶֽהְיֶה
E·hä·yä A·sher E·hä·yä
“I Am That I Am.” This is the Divine declaration that HE IS. His Presence precedes, exceeds, and encompasses all dimensions. Awesome, astonishing, extravagant, and incomprehensible to human sensibilities. Is He enough? Do you need anything more?

God FOREVER to be Identified as The GOD of ISRAEL

v. 15 “God, furthermore, said to Moses, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, The

LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.’” 
This is very powerful and important. It cuts short every argument that God has finished with Israel and has replaced her with the church in the form of Supersessionism or Replacement Theology.
Adonai has bound Himself repeatedly to Israel, by the power of HIS NAME. In this short verse, He commands in the Divine Name, YHVH יהוה, expressing the fact that HE WAS, HE IS, AND HE EVER WILL BE [THE EXISTENT ONE] to be known as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
Let Our People Go!

v. 18 Adonai tells Moses that the people will heed what Moses tells them. He is to go to Pharaoh, with the elders of Israel and say to him, “The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So now, please, let us go a three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.” 

v. 19 Then the LORD, who knows the end from the beginning, tells him He knows that Pharaoh will not be willing to let them go, “except under compulsion.” 

v. 20 Moses is told that Adonai already has made provision for freeing His People: “So I will stretch out My hand and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go.” 

PLUNDER the Egyptians?
Let’s take a closer look!

v. 22 Further, Adonai is going to cause the People of Israel to have favor with the
Egyptians and not leave empty-handed. For “‘...every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians.’” 

What?! Plunder the Egyptians who gave them favor? That’s not very nice!
The Hebrew word translated in the verse as “plunder” is natsal נצל. It occurs 212 times in Scripture. Of those instances, 210 times it is used in its meaning to “deliver, rescue, or save.” Hebrew commentaries take exception to the usage of plunder in this context, noting that in the preceding verse Adonai said they will leave with favor. (v. 21) If they plundered Egypt, they would not leave with favor
A cross reference is given to Deuteronomy 15:12-15, commenting that it was normative to send a faithful slave (which the Hebrews were) away enriched.

Exodus 4  Back to Egypt

Moses still has trepidation about carrying out this grand feat. He enters into the familiar game of “what if ...” What if they don’t believe me? What if I don’t speak well enough?

Adonai has some nifty signs and wonders up His sleeve that He passes on to Moses: he can turn his staff into a serpent, he can turn his hand leprous and then back, and he can turn water into blood.  These are all pretty impressive and terrifying things!

To ease Moses’ apprehension regarding his speaking ability, Adonai first reminds Moses that it is HE that created his mouth and it is HE that will give him the words. Still Moses begs him to send someone else! The anger of the LORD burned against Moses, but He gave him his way! He assigned his brother Aaron the Levite as the vocal representative.

vv. 15-16 “‘You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him.’”

Then the LORD told Moses to take his staff with which he will perform signs and go, for the men who were seeking his life (the Pharaoh) are now dead. So Moses took his wife and sons and returned to Egypt.

v. 21 God Hardens Pharaoh’s Heart “The LORD said to Moses, ‘When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.’” 

“I will harden his heart...”
This has always seemed somewhat of a contradiction with free will. Rabbi Hertz offers an interesting commentary:

     "This does not mean that God made Pharaoh sinful. For God to make it impossible for a man to obey Him, and then punish him for his disobedience, would be both unjust and contrary to the fundamental belief in Freedom of the Will.
     "The phrase most often translated ‘hardening of the heart’ occurs nineteen times; ten times it is said that Pharaoh hardened his heart; and nine times the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is ascribed to God. There thus seems to be two sides to this hardening. When the Divine command came to Pharaoh, ‘Set the slaves free,’ and his reply was, ‘I will not,’ each repetition of Pharaoh’s persistent obstinacy made it less likely that he would eventually listen to the word of God.
     "For such is the law of conscience; every time the voice of conscience is disobeyed, it becomes duller and feebler, and the heart grows harder. Man cannot remain ‘neutral’ in the presence of Duty or of any direct command of God. He either obeys the Divine command, and it becomes unto him a blessing; or he defies God, and such command then becomes unto him a curse. ‘It is part of the Divinely ordered scheme of things that if a man deliberately chooses evil, it proceeds to enslave him; it blinds and stupefies him, making for him repentance well-nigh impossible’ (Riehm).
     "The Omniscient God knew beforehand whither his obstinacy would lead Pharaoh, and prepared Moses for initial failure by warning him that Pharaoh’s heart would be ‘hardened." 

From The Pentateuch and Haftorahs, Chief Rabbi Dr. J.H. Hertz, 1938
“Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do. Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel; and Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. He then performed the signs in the sight of the people.

vs. 28-31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.”

Exodus 5  Despairing for Straw
For a moment it seemed within reach ... “the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction.” (4:31) Adonai had heard their cry and they were to be delivered! Their long exile in Egypt and the harsh oppression was about to end. And then in a moment, hope was ripped away as their captivity became even more unbearable. Why does it so often have to grow so bleak, so dark, so hopeless, just before the dawn of deliverance?

vv. 1-2 Predictably, Pharaoh rebuffed Moses and Aaron when they came to him saying, “‘Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let My people go...’” 

He wasn’t at all impressed. “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and besides, I will not let Israel go. 

What hadn’t been anticipated was the added cruelty of ordering the taskmasters over the people and their foremen that they would no longer be given straw with which to make bricks, but that the quota would remain the same. That was the punishment for wanting to go to the desert to worship their God.
The taskmasters beat the foremen of the sons of Israel, pressing them ever harder for production under the impossible circumstances until they finally turned against Moses and Aaron for bringing this disaster upon them.
“They said to them, ‘May the LORD look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh's sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.’”

vv. 21-23 Devastated and confused, Moses unloaded on the LORD, O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all. 

Exodus 6  The LORD, He is God!

You may think the LORD would have been angry with Moses, acting like a petulant child, disrespectfully accusing Him of making things worse for His People and not keeping His word to deliver them, but Adonai majestically arises and establishes His judgment upon Pharaoh and renews His vow of deliverance.

v. 1 “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.’” 

To be continued...

Haftarah Shemot
Isaiah 27:6-28:13 | 29:22-23

The Torah portion has opened the door on Jacob’s people, now ready to enter the Promised Land. It is exciting to see how it all unfolds, and this excitement will hold our attention for some weeks to come. For the Haftarah portion the sages chose a topic that will at least equal if not surpass the Torah’s in excitement; at least because it concerns end time events and is very possibly unfolding as we share this writing. So lets look at the Isaiah 27 passage.

The whole of chapter 27 deals with the nation of Israel in the Millennium.  Verses 12 and 13 of chapter 27 speak of the regathering of every Jew worldwide. There we read, “In that day the LORD will start His threshing from the flowing stream of the Euphrates to the brook of Egypt, and you will be gathered up one by one, O sons of Israel. It will come about also in that day that a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the LORD in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.”

The locations are specific here because there will be a large concentration of Jews in these areas at that time, this as a result of persecution during the tribulation and their fleeing from Israel proper. (Mark 13:14-20) The full scope of the final regathering can be seen in Isaiah 43:5-7. “Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, And gather you from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' And to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring My sons from afar And My daughters from the ends of the earth, Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.”
This is exciting business, especially because these events may be unfolding in a preliminary sense right now. There is controversy afoot today over whether the Jewish people retaking in 1947 a portion of the original Promised Land and establishing the modern state of Israel was actually the beginning of this return. Questions abound. Is this the beginning of the return spoken of prophetically? Or, was this a historical mishap, only a fluke of history? Can the modern nation of Israel actually be destroyed as Iran and the Islamic State would have? Can that tiny state be pushed into the sea, only to be reconstituted at a later time? Or, is this the final time the Jewish people will be regathered prior to the Millennium and the reign of their Messiah?

Well, various views—as they always do—exist here. And rather than give you mine I would invite you to do some detective work with me to find the answer. Let’s each be as a Berean and examine the Scriptures. (Acts 17:10-11) This is, after all, called a noble-minded endeavor.

Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum in his The Footprints of the Messiah (published by Ariel Ministries, 2004) presents five views regarding the modern state of Israel and its position in the prophetic scheme of things. They cover the spectrum of possibilities and I think one of them would be worthy of your choice. So this is a “You Choose It” exercise.

The first view has the name, Replacement Theology. The basic premise is that the church of Jesus Christ has taken the place of Israel—that Israel exists no more. This transference happened as a result of Israel rejecting the Messiahship of Jesus. Now that God is through with the Jewish people there are no unfilled prophecies and there is to be no future restoration of the nation. All of the prophecies of a future restoration are to be interpreted as allegory, not in any sense literal. Any Jew being saved from here on is added to the church with no restoration of Israel as an ethnic entity to be had. Since the church has replaced Israel, the establishment of modern day Israel is to be viewed as a historical accident, having nothing to do with a future for Israel in any way. Thus modern Israel could conceivably be driven into the sea without affecting God’s end time plan in any way.

The second view believes that there will be a restored Israel, but does not believe that the modern Jewish state is the fulfillment of that prophecy. Those holding this view are Biblicists. They believe that the Bible is true and that all prophecies concerning Israel’s restoration will be literally fulfilled. The prophecies cited however, place national repentance before national restoration, and they do not see that to be the case with the modern state of Israel. The passages they look to are Deuteronomy 30:1-5; Isaiah 27:12-13; and Ezekiel 39:25-29 among others. In today’s Israel they see the vast majority of Jews to be unbelievers. Further, these unbelieving Jews are not even Orthodox and would classify themselves as either atheist or agnostic. Therefore, this view sees the modern state of Israel as not being relevant to Bible prophecy at all. Similar to the first view the Israel of today is nothing more than a historical accident.

The third view sees what is happening with the modern state of Israel as the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. This is the final restoration of Israel and the modern state of Israel is here to stay. They see more and more Jews returning to the land and at some point yet to come there will be a national regeneration and salvation for all. Then Messiah will return to establish the Kingdom. Those holding this view believe the Tribulation to have already happened, that the Scripture portions speaking of divine wrath and tribulation were fulfilled in the Holocaust. For those seeing things this way the modern state of Israel is here to stay.

The fourth view is a bit more complex. This view says there are two distinct worldwide regatherings, not just one. The first regathering to Israel will be in unbelief in preparation for a judgement that will come during the Tribulation. Then will follow a second worldwide regathering in faith for the establishment of the Millennium.

Speaking of the first regathering in unbelief and in preparation for judgement, this view points to among others passages Ezekiel 20:33-38. “‘As I live,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘surely with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out, I shall be king over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you from the lands where you are scattered, with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm and with wrath poured out; and I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will enter into judgment with you face to face. As I entered into judgment with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will enter into judgment with you,’ declares the Lord God.  ‘I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; and I will purge from you the rebels and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the land where they sojourn, but they will not enter the land of Israel. Thus you will know that I am the LORD.’”

This is the first regathering out of wrath (vs. 33-34) and is a gathering for wrath (vs. 35-38). The Holocaust is viewed as the wrath they were gathered out of. There, six million Jews were killed, more than one third of the estimated world wide Jewish population at that time. That event opened the door for sufficient international agreement to establish the modern state of Israel in which both the regathering in unbelief and the regathering in faith would occur. This first regathering however, now for wrath and in unbelief, is viewed as the preliminary event for the Tribulation yet to come. So Israel is returned to the land to await yet more wrath from God for their continued unbelief. (Ezekiel 22:17-22) After the Tribulation the final or second regathering takes place, the one that is, in faith. 

Speaking to the second and final regathering in faith and for the establishment of the Millennium this view points to passages such as Jeremiah 31:31-34 (establishment of the New Covenant); Isaiah 29:22-24; 30:18-22; 44:1-5; 45:17, Jeremiah 24:7; 50:19-20, and Ezekiel 11:19-20.

As to whether or not the present modern state of Israel is the national entity into which the first regathering for wrath and the second regathering in faith will occur, this view answers, yes. They argue that since Isaiah 11:11-12:6, (esp. 11:11-12) addresses the final worldwide regathering in faith and in preparation for blessing—and calls it the second one—there can only be one previous regathering.

Some may say the return from Babylonian exile (536B.C.) of Southern Israel (or Judah) was the first regathering. But not in this sense. That was not worldwide, only regional. And the Assyrian deportation of the Northern tribes (or Israel) (722 B.C.) never returned its exiles, thus the “Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.” So since the establishment of the modern state of Israel involves quite literally a return or regathering from all parts of the earth this must be the first regathering ... out of wrath and for a coming wrath.

For those holding this view the modern state of Israel is presently being used of God to accomplish the first regathering of Jews and, O yes, IS here to stay.

The fifth view parallels the fourth in that it agrees with all of it except for one point. That point is that there may be several regatherings in unbelief before the specific prophetic one takes place. Thus, potentially, several more Jewish states could exist before the actual regathering in unbelief occurs. The modern state of Israel could be a historical accident, cease to exist, only to be replaced by another.
Well, there you have it. What do you, noble Berean, believe the answer to be? How about you sharing your insights with this blog site? We at at His Every Word Ministries would would love to hear from you, and I’m sure others want to hear your opinions and compare them with their own.

B'rit Chadashah Shemot

Acts 7:17-35 / 1 Corinthians 14:18-25

Our Acts 7 and I Corinthians 14 passages both have to do with speaking out for the LORD. 
In Acts 7 we see Steven boldly declaring to Jewish religious leaders the history of Israel.
In I Corinthians 14, our selected text zeros in on the spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy and their proper use in speaking for the LORD.

Speaking out for Yeshua is an essential element in the walk of a believer. God has ordained its use to accomplish His purposes in mankind. For Stephen it was to pass along the convicting work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-11) and was the sermon that cost him his life.

In the Corinthian passage we are told that tongues—at least in part—are a witnessing tool to the unbeliever, and prophecy an edification tool for the believer.

Using your mouth to spread the Word of God is a must for every believer. Are you willing to spread the Word, even as Moses did to free the Jewish people from the bondage of Egypt? What an illustration that can be when considering the need of the the lost to hear God’s offer of  deliverance from the fiery Hell they are headed for. Or how about future events as they regard the Jewish unbeliever? Do you think he would be interested in how God may use the modern state of Israel in his life?
Romans 10:14 says, 
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? 
And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? 
And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

Are YOU that preacher, for their lives, in this time? 
God thinks so. How about you?

In Messiah's love,
His EVERY Word Ministries