Friday, February 24, 2017

Walking in Freedom | Parashat Mishpatim | By His EVERY Word


Parashat Mishpatim

פרשת משפטים

“Judgments”

Torah Portion: 
Exodus 21:1-24:18
Haftarah:
 Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26

B’rit Chadashah/New Covenant: Matthew 5:38-42; 17:1-11


Shabbat | 25 February 2017 | 29 Sh’vat 5777


Every kingdom has a king. Israel’s sovereign is the LORD who has pledged Himself to her with an everlasting love. Ransomed from cruel bondage and the tyranny of hopelessness in Egypt, Israel must now learn to be a holy nation—to reveal the Kingdom of Light to a dark and pitiless world. Adonai is touching every aspect of life, outlining holiness in the way Israel will deal with servants, one another, land, livestock, ethics, and civil law. This is the way of holiness—a way utterly other than the way of the uncivilized world. In its essence, we will find that this is the way of love.

Israel must not worship the gods of the nations, take on their customs, nor even speak their names. She must learn to trust in her God alone, forsaking all others. No compromise! She will be required to tear down the places of worship and destroy the idols, the ashtaroth—sacred pillars to other gods in the Land Adonai is giving to her. They are abominable to Him—relics of defiance and worship unto other deities. They are a snare—a trap that will prove to be destructive to Israel—and all who choose to be joined to the God of Israel.

Called into the Divine Presence on the Mountain of God, Moses disappears into the Cloud of Glory for forty days and forty nights to receive the tables of the Law, as all Israel waits...
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 21  Learning to Walk in Freedom

vs. 1“‘Now these are the judgments which you shall set before them.’” (esv)

Our parasha derives its name from the word judgments found in the opening sentence. Some Bible versions use the word ordinances

The original Hebrew is mish·pät·ēm' מִשְׁפָּטים, most commonly translated: judgments, ordinances, regulations.

The Torah (the first five books of the Bible) contains four main words in Hebrew that Adonai uses to describe what we generally paint with a wide brush, and label “laws.” Yet, each of these Hebrew words have nuances, expressing the Father's intent and wisdom.


Four Hebrew Words Used for "Law, Direction, Commandment and Statute in the Torah:
1. Commandment: mitz·väh' מצוה  A commandment of God or man, of code or wisdom
2. Judgment: mish·pät·ēm'  משפט   A judgment, ordinance, regulation
3. Statutes:  khük·käh'חֻקָּה A statute, law, ordinance, civil enactment prescribed by God
4. Law: Torah tō·räh' תורה Law, direction, instruction (human or Divine), body of prophetic teaching, instruction in Messianic Age, priestly instruction, codes of law, custom, manner, Deuteronomic or Mosaic Law


With this parasha Adonai begins getting down to the nitty gritty of everyday life—how to
live day to day life as a redeemed community. Israel is called by her God to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation...” (Exodus 19:6) 

Every kingdom has a king. Israel’s sovereign is the LORD who has pledged Himself to her with an everlasting love. Ransomed from cruel bondage and the tyranny of hopelessness in Egypt, Israel must now learn to be a holy nation—to reveal the Kingdom of Light to a dark and pitiless world.

There are many do’s and don’ts. Adonai is touching every aspect of life, outlining holiness in the way Israel will deal with servants, with one another, with land, livestock, ethics, and civil law. This is the way of holinessa way utterly other than the way of the uncivilized world.

In its essence, we will find that this is the way of love.


Holiness is often difficult to pin down, yet it is of foundational importance to Adonai, and for all who will trust in Him. Throughout the Scriptures, from Torah to B’rit Chadashah, Adonai has exhorted His People: “...be holy, for I AM holy.” (Leviticus 11:45, 1 Peter 1:16)

In Hebrew, the word holy is kadosh קדוש, simply meaning set apart (for God’s use and glory), entirely-other-than the world, undefiled by the things God has defined “unclean,” or the profane, or the things of the world, the flesh or the devil.

White Noise


Although most Bible-believing Christians love reading the first part of the Torah: the majestic Creation account, the dramatic Fall of Man in the Garden, the familiar Noah’s Ark narrative, and the amazing Exodus story of miracles and deliverance, once Moses has received the Ten Commandments, the remainder of the five books tend to
 become so much “white noise,” often filed away under: "THE LAW: obsolete."

Burdened by an erroneous belief that Torah and Grace are at odds with one another, most Christians dismiss large portions of the first five books of the Bible as irrelevant, or even antithetical to Christianity.

Known as Law vs. Grace, this unnatural antipathy is very unfortunate, as Yeshua (Jesus) was clearly not anti-Torah. Indeed, He proclaimed:

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
In one of the clearest passages on this subject, 
Yeshua simplified His and our relationship to the Torah!

1. Jesus did not come to abolish even one letter, or flourish on a letter of the Torah, or the rest of the Old Testament


Let's unpack the Greek: Abolish, katalyō καταλύω in Greek, means:
 dissolve, destroy, demolish, overthrow, render vain, subvert, annul, discard, abrogate, throw down.

2. Jesus did come to fulfill it. 


Fulfill is plēroō πληρόω in Greek. 
It means: "make full, fill to the full, cause to abound, liberally supply, render full, complete, consummate, accomplish, to render perfect, ratify, bring to realization, to cause God's will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God's promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfilment."


Yeshua already said He did not come to abrogate, annul, abolish, discard, etc. 
Why do we not take Him at His word? 
If we consider the enormity of time and effort Yeshua spent teaching, 
rebuking, exhorting and correcting, the definitions, 
"render perfect, bring to realization, to cause God's will (as made known in the law) 
to be obeyed as it should be" seem to be the ideal choice for a literal definition.  
Any of the above would be far better choices in context than to force a contradiction, 
and are fully supported by Strong's Concordance (G4137).
  
Interestingly, the terms “abolish” and “fulfill” are idiomatic terms used by rabbis when disputing the proper interpretation of the Torah. If one is misinterpreting even a small portion of the Torah, he is accused of “abolishing” it. By his error, he is weakening the whole. However, correct interpretation is said to “fulfill” the Torah, establishing its firm foundation. Yeshua sternly rebuked the Jewish religious leaders, not for obeying Torah, but for forgetting the weightier matters of the Law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness. He said they should have done them without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23)

3. Yeshua makes it clear that this is NOT about salvation: “whoever annuls one of the least of the commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.” 


Yeshua didn’t come to annul the commandments, 
but we have, haven’t we? 
According to this verse, we still have a place in His Kingdom, 
but it is not a favored place ... 
in fact we will be called “least,” 
as we didn’t treasure His Word.

Are We Purveyors of Life?
We have also instructed others to disrespect, disregard, and annul His Word. 
In Greek, the word teaches is didaskō διδάσκω. It means: to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, instill doctrine, deliver didactic discourses, to impart instruction, to conduct one's self as a teacher, explain or expound a thing, teach one something. 


What do we teach,  impart and instruct? 
Do we teach others to disobey God's commandments? 
Then we are instructing others to disobey Yeshua (Jesus).

Wrapped up in this is the perverting and subverting of God's concept of
 “teaching and instruction”
—the very meaning of the word Torah—
God’s teaching or instruction unto life...
...Who IS Yeshua,
The Living Word!

Yeshua said: "Follow me."
He said, "If you love me, obey me."
He said, "My sheep hear my voice."

He said, "I AM THE WAY, THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE." 
(HE IS, and He was and will ever be. HE IS the ONLY WAY.
No modern theology can overrule Him or offer anything better.)

He said to go throughout the world teaching the
 nations—the Gentiles—to transform them into disciples
 (those who follow and obey Him),
"teaching them to observe all that I commanded you..." 
(Matthew 28:19)

And this by His absolute authority: 
"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 
'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.'" (Matthew 28:18)
(No teacher, preacher or theologian claiming to follow Him
 has authority to teach anything contrary to Yeshua.
Would that not be usurping His authority, and exalting one's self
over His throne? Is that not the ancient Luciferian deception.) 

He said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 
‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'” (John 7:38)

Yet we have forsaken Him, Who laid down His life for us,
Who ransomed us from eternal torment 
Through His own unfathomable suffering.
Will He, Who changes not, turn a blind eye?



“For My people have committed two evils: 
They have forsaken Me, 
The fountain of living waters, 
To hew for themselves cisterns, 
Broken cisterns 
That can hold no water."
Jeremiah 2:13

4. Although Yeshua alone could walk perfectly before Adonai, and no man is, or can be without sin, those who treasure the whole of God’s Word, and teach others to do the same will be great in His Kingdom. Integral to doing that is trusting in Messiah Yeshua for one’s atonement—as we fall short of the mark daily—by God’s standards expressed throughout the Scriptures, in both Tenakh and the B’rit Chadashah.
  • It’s not about legalism. It’s about love
  • And it’s about worship rightfully due our Holy God.
  • It begins with yielding the throne.
May His Law be written on my heart, and His Truth worked deep within me by His Spirit. May I walk uprightly before Him, carrying His Name before the world in a worthy manner. And when I fail, I am ever thankful for His unfathomable grace and mercy, having provided the remedy for my sin. All of His ways are just and perfect—even those I don’t fully understand. Amen
Why Would God Even Allow Slavery?

v. 2 “If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man...”

In Hebrew, slave is eh'·ved עֶבֶד, which does not translate well into English. There are various definitions: slave, servant, man-servant, worshippers (of God), servant (in special sense as prophets, Levites, etc.), subjects.


The mere thought of slaves produces a knee-jerk reaction. 
Some non-believers have blithely dismissed God as cruel and unloving 
because the Bible "allows slavery."

Americans, undoubtedly think of the dehumanizing atrocities
associated with the pre-Civil War South ... 
Owning, chaining, and abusing
human beings created in the image of God...

Nothing could be further from the heart of Adonai
or the commandments in the Torah.

Not surprisingly, it’s a matter of context.

Consider, the Israelites had just been delivered from slavery—cruel slavery under the Egyptians. Adonai is not putting a stamp of approval upon that form of slavery!

Like the enslavement of black people in the American South, Egyptian slavery was permanent, with no hope or future. A master owned his slaves forever and had no code of ethics over their treatment. 

Enter the Torah: Adonai taught Israel definitive rules regulating not only the treatment of their "slaves"—better translated as "servants," but also how long they are to serve. 

We have to remember that in ancient times, there weren’t factories and businesses as today that provided employment. If a man was not self-supporting, he hired himself out as a servant or worker of another man’s land for his living. Among the Tribes of Israel, Adonai wanted to establish a holy standard that would testify of His love in this area of basic human existence. 


Whereas the heathen world owned its slaves and worked them to their death, 
treating them with less care than their animals,
 Israel was to protect her servants, preserving their life and liberty.

v. 5 In fact, their living conditions were to be so fair and kind, that provision had to be made for the servant that says: “‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’” and so many did not!


Six days you are to do your work, 
but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor
 so that your ox and your donkey may rest, 
and the son of your female slave, 
as well as your stranger, 
may refresh themselves. 
Exodus 23:12


Exodus 22  Further Training in the Laws of Love

Exodus 22 begins with ordinances regarding theft, damage, and restitution with regards to others’ livestock or property, defining, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” in greater detail.

Adonai then addresses the theft of a woman’s virginity. Further separating Israel from the nations that surround them, sex is to be considered sacred, and reserved for the covenant relationship between a man and wife.

Abhor Sorcery and Idolatry
In Jewish commentaries, the commandments against witchcraft, bestiality, and idolatry are all interrelated:

vv. 18-20 “You shall not allow a sorceress to live. Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death. He who sacrifices to any god, other than to the LORD alone, shall be utterly destroyed.” 

Sorceress in Hebrew is kä·shaf' כָּשַׁף, which encompasses: sorcerer, sorceress, witch, and applies: to practice witchcraft or sorcery, use witchcraft (related to offering worship or prayers to idols or gods), use enchantments.


The ancient world was steeped in these abominable practices 
that defied the Creator and debased mankind. 

All forms of occultism,
 from astrology, 
to fortune telling and seances, 
find their source in the ancient mystery religions 
and ba’al worship. 


At the heart of it all is the worship of another god, 
the mockery of YHVH, 
and all that He calls sacred.

Although on the surface, it may be candy-coated to entice those who don’t know, or who have rejected the commandments of God, seeking their own pleasure or power, its inevitable end is destruction

History testifies of many great societies embracing a fascination with the occult shortly before their decline into appalling immorality and then utter ruin. Perhaps the most recent is Hitler’s Germany. 


Satan is a liar and a thief. 
This is why Israel is to give no quarter to sorcery or witchcraft in any form
Should we be concerned with the sudden rise of the occult popularity phenomenon—
Harry Potter and Twilight for example? 
If wise, then without a doubt.

Love the Stranger, the Sojourner, the Alien
v. 21“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” This verse is repeated in Exodus 23:9: “You shall not oppress a stranger, since you yourselves know the feelings of a stranger, for you also were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

The outsider was always to be protected, considered, cared for—not because he was a member of one’s family, community, class, race, or clan, but because he was a human being created by Adonai.

This was absolutely revolutionary in the ancient world! A hapless sojourner would sometimes fall prey to nomadic clans or be enslaved, tortured, or even sacrificed to the gods of a people they wandered within range of. 

Even today it is dangerous to accidentally wander across boundaries into the Arab Palestinian towns within Israel. Many, even Israeli policemen have been lynched by frenzied hoards in the streets. However, Israel protects those sworn to her destruction—providing humanitarian aid, world class medical care (free) in her hospitals, and even grants the Arab people citizenship and seats in the Israeli senate.


To this day, Israel and the Jewish People have a keen empathy for the foreigner
 in her midst, staunchly holding to the Torah principles
 of shielding and caring for all peoples—even those sworn to her extinction
She remembers not only being “strangers in Egypt,” 
but throughout her history,
 Israel has been a stranger throughout the earth, 
subject to persecution, pogroms, and annihilation.

The Torah will build on this subject, with further instruction, such as leaving the fallen fruit of the orchard, and the edges of the fields for the needy and for the strangers, punctuating these commandments with “I am the LORD your God” to emphasize how important it is for Israel to show His Love in this way to the foreigner.

The LORD Fiercely Loves Widows and Orphans
vv. 22-24 “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.” 


“A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,
is God in His holy habitation.”
(Psalm 68:5)

“They crush Your people, O LORD, and afflict Your heritage.
They slay the widow and the stranger and murder the orphans.”
(Psalm 94:5-6)

“The LORD protects the strangers; he supports the fatherless and the widow,
but He thwarts the way of the wicked.”
(Psalm 146:9)

“Learn to do good; Seek justice, reprove the ruthless,
defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”
(Isaiah 1:17)

The heart of the LORD can be summed up in Malachi 3:5:
“‘Then I will draw near to you for judgment;

and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers

 and against the adulterers
and against those who swear falsely,

and against those who oppress the wage earner in his wages,

the widow and the orphan,

and those who turn aside the alien
and do not fear Me,’

says the LORD of hosts.”


Exodus 23  Learning How to Live in Freedom


v. 13 "Now concerning everything which I have said to you, be on your guard; and do not mention the name of other gods, nor let them be heard from your mouth."

Celebrate with Me!
v. 15 “Three times a year you shall celebrate a feast to Me.” 
Along with the weekly Sabbath, Adonai now adds three yearly celebrations for His People. Known as the pilgrimage feasts: Chag haMatzot (Unleavened Bread), Firstfruits, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), these festive observances are also called mo’edim מועד in Leviticus 23, meaning appointed times.

The mo’edim are special appointed times Adonai has set to celebrate with His People, which also set the yearly rhythm of Israel: summer and winter, springtime and harvest, each testifying to the faithfulness of God and His redemptive cycle.


House Cleaning
Preparing a Divine Dwelling Place
vv. 20, 23-24 “Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. ...My angel will go before you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them. You shall not worship their gods, nor serve them, nor do according to their deeds; but you shall utterly overthrow them and break their sacred pillars in pieces.” 


Adonai reiterates His covenant promise to bring the sons of Israel into the Land He has appointed.This is why He brought them out of Egypt. This is what they are being prepared for. Israel is not just any piece of real estate. 

Adonai has chosen this tiny place on the earth to show forth His glory, and this tiny nation from among all the nations of the earth to make known His glorious Name.

Therefore, Israel must not worship the gods of the nations, take on their customs, nor even speak their names. Israel must learn to trust in her God alone, forsaking all others—like a faithful spouse. Adonai calls Israel His bride, just as the true followers of Yeshua are called the bride of Messiah

Through this very specific title (and humbling honor), we can begin to grasp the loving relationship and fidelity that Adonai has called us to. He would be the center of our world, engaging the entirety of our adoration and concern. Our heart's delight would be that which delights His heart, rather than our own.


Israel will be required to tear down the places of worship and destroy the idols,
 the ashtaroth—sacred pillars to other gods in the Land Adonai is giving to her. They are abominable to Him—relics of defiance and worship unto other deities. They are not to entice Israel and defile the Land appointed to bear God’s Holy Name.
 No compromise!

Why such a radical commandment? 
Because Adonai knows (and time will prove) the idols are a snare—a trap that will prove to be destructive to Israel—
and all who choose to be joined to the God of Israel.
Polite tolerance in one generation
 leads to compromise of truth in the next.

The Almighty is creating
a dwelling place with His beloved creation.
His Presence will attend the 
Children of Israel for forty years
in the wilderness as He trains, corrects, and conforms
His headstrong brood. 
His mishpatim, khukkim, mitzvot, and torot (judgments, statutes, commandments, and instructions) are not arbitrary, restrictive rules and regulations. They are profoundly brilliant, touching the the character of humankind—not merely the behavior. YHVH is building a suitable dwelling place—vessels of honor.
He will dwell amongst His people first in the Wilderness Tabernacle.
Once in the land of Israel, His Divine Presence
 will dwell in the glorious Temple(s) fashioned of hewn stone.
Finally, He will dwell in temples of clay ... living stones.

"You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house,
 to be a holy priesthood,
 to offer up spiritual sacrifices,
 acceptable to God through Yeshua the Messiah."

1 Peter 2:5

"What agreement has the temple of God with idols?
For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

'I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.'"
2 Cor. 6:16


vv. 25-26 “But you shall serve the LORD your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst. There shall be no one miscarrying or barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.” 

The blessings for Israel’s fidelity to her God are manifold!

v. 31 “I will fix your boundary from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the River Euphrates; for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand, and you will drive them out before you.”




As you can see, Israel only occupies a small portion of what Adonai has promised. For a short period under King David and King Solomon’s reigns she realized near fulfillment of her promised borders. Photo: Hubblesite.org

“You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods. They shall not live in your land, because they will make you sin against Me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you” (vs. 32-33).
Adonai stresses that Israel must learn fidelity—to serve Him only. Compromise with the heathens or their gods constitutes an alliance, a covenant with their gods! This is a snare—a trap that will prove to be destructive to Israel. This holds true—even to this day—after God has brought Israel back to her Land following nearly two thousand years of diaspora for her rebellion.
At the culmination of the Six Day War in 1967, Israel experienced a modern day miracle. Against all odds, she prevailed against the vast forces of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan with a stunning victory. When IDF paratroopers marched through the ancient Lion’s Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City, to the Temple Mount and Western Wall, led by Moshe Dayan, they brought Israel’s holiest site back under Jewish control for the first time in 2,000 years.

God also delivered the entirety of the land from Lebanon in the north (the strategic Golan Heights), to Jordan in the East, and through the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in the West into Israel’s hands.

So amazing was Israel’s success, and so obvious the Hand of the Almighty, that the name Six Day War was given to evoke the memory of the six days of Creation.

Those first moments as Jews saw and touched the ancient holy walls were recorded. Warriors broke into prayer, praise, and holy weeping, to the voice of the ancient shofar, sounded by General Rabbi Shlomo Goren, chief chaplain of the IDF, signifying its liberation at the Hand of God:
“The Wall was before us. I trembled. There it was as I had known it—immense, mighty, in all its splendor...overcome, I bowed my head in silence.” –General Uzi Narkiss, Head of Central Command during the Six Day War

“I felt truly shaken and stood there murmuring a prayer for peace. Motta Gur’s paratroopers were struggling to reach the Wall and touch it. We stood among a tangle of rugged, battle-weary men who were unable to believe their eyes or restrain their emotions. Their eyes were moist with tears, their speech incoherent. The overwhelming desire was to cling to the Wall, to hold on to that great moment as long as possible.” –Chief of Staff Yitzchak Rabin

“I am speaking to you from the plaza of the Western Wall, the remnant of our Holy Temple. ‘Comfort my people, comfort them, says the Lord your God.’ This is the day we have hoped for, let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation. The vision of all generations is being realized before our eyes: The city of God, the site of the Temple, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, the symbol of the nation’s redemption, have been redeemed today by you, heroes of the Israel Defense Forces. By doing so you have fulfilled the oath of generations, ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its cunning.’ Indeed, we have not forgotten you, Jerusalem, our holy city, our glory. In the name of the entire Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora, I hereby recite with supreme joy, Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us in life, who has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this day. This year in Jerusalem—rebuilt! “ –General Shlomo Goren, Chaplain of the Israeli Defense Forces, at the Western Wall

“We have returned to all that is holy in our land. We have returned never to be parted from it again.” –Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, upon reaching the Western Wall

Israelis and Jews all over the world recognized this momentous event as a gift from God. A genuine miracle in our time! God had reunified Jerusalem and placed it back under Jewish sovereignty—as well as more than tripling her land—against all odds!
However, Israel did not remember His instruction—
to tear down the places of worship to other gods—
not to make a covenant with the people or their gods—
that it would be a snare. (v. 33)

In his great joy, Minister of Defense Moshe Dayan almost immediately expressed Israel’s peaceful intent and pledged to preserve religious freedom for all faiths in Jerusalem. Standing in front of the abominable structure that defies Adonai atop the Western Wall, he declared:
To our Arab neighbors we extend, especially at this hour, the hand of peace. To members of the other religions, Christians and Muslims, I hereby promise faithfully that their full freedom and all their religious rights will be preserved. We did not come to Jerusalem to conquer the Holy Places of others.”
He immediately ceded internal administrative control of the Temple Mount
 compound to the Jordanian Waqf (Islamic trust) 
while overall security control of the area was supposed to be maintained by Israel.

This move proved to be a snare—a trap.

Israel lost all control of her holiest site
while extending her graciousness to another god

that has no history or right to occupy this
“high place” of worship in the center of Jerusalem,
the City where God has placed HIS Name forever.


The Knesset then passed the Protection of Holy Places Law granting special legal status to the Holy Sites and making it a criminal offense to desecrate or violate them, or to impede freedom of access to them, which Israel scrupulously abides by (in spite of grievously false accusations of "apartheid.") 

Jerusalem became a reunified city, and Israel has ensured freedom of religion and access to holy sites for all religions.


On the other hand, the Arabs have mined throughout the Temple Mount complex
 since being granted their gracious gift, destroying thousands of years of priceless,
 precious antiquities—remnants of the biblical history of Jews and Christians.
 Tiny fragments, smashed and defaced, 
are found periodically in their construction bins.
Access to Temple Mount is severely restrictive.
No Bible or prayer book is allowed, 
nor is any Christian or Jew allowed to pray there.

What do we do when faced with a move of God of biblical proportion in contemporary life? Have we become too sophisticated to respond wholeheartedly? Israel had a choice: act boldly, provoking the criticism of the nations, or act magnanimous toward the nations in an attempt to win their support. In losing the world, they gain the LORDIn attempting to gain world favor, they lose the approval of both.

Adonai asked only for a minuscule piece of land on the earth that would be holy ground, wholly His. To the descendants of Ishmael He gave vast countries with massive land holdings and great oil wealth. He told Israel not to allow the worshippers of other gods or their places of worship to remain when He gives them the Land, warning her:

“But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then it shall come about that those whom you let remain of them will become as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live.” (Numbers 33:55)

And this is exactly what has happened. The Arabs (who have taken the name “Palestinians” since the 1960s) are committed to Israel’s destruction. Their shrapnel-filled bombs have been literal pricks in Israeli’s eyes and thorns in their sides. They have troubled Israel incessantly, giving her no peace in the Land. In fact, the more Land Israel gives away, the less peace she receives in return, sadly proving the veracity of the Word of God.

DOMINO THEORY...

Israel has been attacked relentlessly from Gaza since 2005, when every last Israeli moved out and gave it over to Arab control. Israelis moved out of communities they had built and miraculous agricultural businesses they had established on the sand of Gaza, that also provided employment for thousands of Arabs. The Arabs burned the businesses to the ground and cry out for humanitarian aid. The funds are used for arms which are smuggled in through the Sinai which Israel gave back to Egypt after God handed it to Israel in the 1967 victory!

Perhaps “Father” really does know best?


Exodus 24  Ratifying the Covenant

The Blood of the Covenant

vv. 1-4 “Then He said to Moses, ‘Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel, and you shall worship at a distance. Moses alone, however, shall come near to the LORD, but they shall not come near, nor shall the people come up with him.’ Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, ‘All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!’” 

Adonai has once again summoned Moses up the mountain to His Presence; along with the seventy elders of Israel, Aaron, and his sons Nadab and Abihu (who will come to a tragic end in spite of this rare privilege.) 

Moses alone will be brought near to Adonai. Moses repeated the ordinances of the LORD to Israel, and in unity, they all declared enthusiastically, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!”

So Moses wrote down all the words of the LORD and built an altar at the foot of the mountain. He then erected twelve pillars, one representing each of the Tribes of Israel—not like the sacred pillars of worship or the ashtaroth. He instructed the young men and sons of Israel, and they prepared burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls to Adonai.

v. 7 Moses gathered the remaining blood and sprinkled half on the altar. Then he read the Book of the Covenant to Israel. When they declared, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” 

These are powerful words of self-consecration and worship.

v. 8 Moses then sprinkled the blood on the people saying “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.”



Does this not remind you of Yeshua’s last earthly act with His disciples
For this is My blood of the new covenant
which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28)
—indicating this was the new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31:31? 
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD
when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day [that] I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt...”

The Glory of the LORD and the Wedding Feast

vv. 10-11 Then Moses, Aaron and his sons,
 and the seventy elders ascended the mountain of the LORD,



“and they saw the God of Israel;
 and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire,

 as clear as the sky itself”


They beheld the majesty and glory of the LORD!
 ...And they ate and drank in the Divine Presence! 

How could they have seen Adonai and live?
 Does He have feet? Was this a Theophany? 
A Christophany? 
Clearly the text is silent, 
but it was indescribably wondrous!

But Wait, There's More—So Much More!
As this meeting at Mount Sinai began as a wedding between Israel and her God, we can follow the imagery on to the finalizing or ratifying of the wedding contract, and finally the wedding feast—and what a feast!  
Bathed in the glory of the God of Israel, on the heights of Mount Sinai,
 it is but a foretaste that which awaits followers of Yeshua—

the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

Adonai calls Moses to come near, promising to give him the stone tablets which will contain His Commandments. So Moses charges the elders, Aaron, and Hur to watch over Israel. He then ascends the mountain of God with Joshua.

vv. 16-18 “The glory of the LORD rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud.”

The Divine Glory appeared as a consuming fire on the top of the mountain to all Israel.
And leaving Joshua behind,
 Moses entered His Presence,
 remaining in the midst of the Cloud of Glory
 forty days and forty nights... 


To be continued...




Haftarah Mishpatim
Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26


Having just read the Torah portion above you have just covered 11.5 percent of all the commandments the great “I Am” has given His people. That works out to 53 of the entire 613 commandments found in the Pentateuch or first five books of the Old Testament. This entire body of law addressed how Israel as a nation was to function and covered for example; civil law, criminal law, ritual law, family law, and financial law. That’s quite a few rules they had to follow, yet all definitely with purpose. (If you think that’s a lot, the count in our New Testament is at about 1,050. Yes, really!)    

One of those areas of the Old Testament commandments had to do with how the issue of slavery was to be handled. In leaving Egypt Israel had just been freed from national slavery. While slavery was a cultural norm in the known world of their time it was cruel and unlike anything God had ever intended for His creation. So Yahweh instituted a very specific set of rules regarding how this was to be handled among His People in His Holy Nation.

These rules are somewhat lengthy, and different for the Jew as opposed to the non-Jew. Consider this portion meant only for Yahweh’s children. “If a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you, you shall not subject him to a slave's service. He shall be with you as a hired man, as if he were a sojourner; he shall serve with you until the year of jubilee.” Leviticus 25:39-40
And this, “For the poor will never cease to be in the land; therefore I command you, saying, 'You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land. If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. When you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the LORD your God has blessed you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you’; therefore I command you this today.” Deuteronomy 15:11-15
As one might expect, because Israel moved farther and farther away from following all of God’s Law and deeper and deeper into sin, the regulations regarding slavery fell by the wayside. Human nature said, “Why give up a good thing?” And these Judaean slave owners couldn’t have agreed more.

In considering this week’s Torah portion of Exodus 21:1-24:18 the Sages selected Jeremiah 34:8-22 and 33:25-26 for our Haftarah reading.  The connection is great contrast: obedience to disobedience, repentance from a sin to returning to that sin. And the handling of slaves is the illustration drawn upon. This is how it fits together.

Let’s hop into our Biblical time machine and transport ourselves back to around 1445 B.C. Moses is being given the Law by God at Mount Sinai. And Exodus 21:1-11 records for us His first instruction regarding this issue of slavery. Twice the Israelites commit to being obedient to this, as well as everything else God commands them to do. 
“So Moses came and called the elders of the people, and set before them all these words which the LORD had commanded him.  All the people answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do!’ And Moses brought back the words of the people to the LORD.” Ex. 19:7-8 Yet again, ‘Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!‘ Exodus 24:7
Hopping into our Biblical time machine one more time lets leave Mount Sinai and the giving of the Law the Israelites so willingly committed to. Lets move ahead to 587 B.C., some 858 years later. Here we find much has transpired in the time since that commitment was made at the foot of Mount Sinai. There has been forty years of wandering in the wilderness and then the partial taking of the land God had promised them.       

The time of the judges followed: 1375-1050 B.C. There was the period where an undivided Israel was ruled by her first three kings: 1050-931 B.C. Then the unthinkable. At the death of King Solomon the nation is divided in two: a northern kingdom—Israel, and a southern kingdom—Judah which maintained Jerusalem as its capitol and religious center.

Sin, repentance, foreign troubles, rebellion, numerous kings, and finally destruction and deportation for both nations finally follows. It is a story about what great things God would have done but didn’t do because this rebellious people would not obey the Law He had given them.

And now we find ourselves in Jerusalem, our machine having deposited us in the midst of chaos. It’s 587B.C. Zedekiah, king of Judah for eight years now and a “vassal king” of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, had rebelled against him by establishing an alliance with Egypt. Now King Nebuchadnezzar has invaded, conquered much of Judah, and is laying siege to Jerusalem. But why has God allowed this? And is all lost?

Judgement for not obeying God’s Law seems to be our answer.
God speaks to Jeremiah, “The word which came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, when Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and all his army, and all the kingdoms of the earth of his dominion, and all the people, fought against Jerusalem, and against all the cities thereof, saying,  ‘Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Go and speak to Zedekiah king of Judah, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire.’ ” Jeremiah 34:1-2 
Zedekiah was sharp enough to realize that this calamity had befallen him and his kingdom because they had not followed the Law given them at Mount Sinai.

Zedekiah knew that Hebrew slaves had not been released by their masters as they should have been according to the Law. They were being kept in servitude beyond the allowable six years. In Zedekiah’s mind this was the issue that if set straight God would forgive and reverse what was about to happen. Greed had overruled the Jewish slave owners’ desire to follow the Law.
So Zedekiah resolved this through national repentance. “This is the word that came unto Jeremiah from the LORD, after that the king Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people which were at Jerusalem, to proclaim liberty unto them; that each man should set free his male servant and each man his female servant, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman; so that no one should keep them, a Jew his brother, in bondage. Now when all the princes, and all the people, which had entered into the covenant, heard that every one should let his manservant, and every one his maidservant, go free, that none should serve themselves of them any more, then they obeyed, and let them go.” Jeremiah 34:8-10
To the eye of the Jerusalem inhabitant this act had saved them. Nebuchadnezzar and his army withdrew. Jerusalem was no longer in danger. In actuality King Nebuchadnezzar had only temporarily lifted his siege to go and meet another enemy of his. The Egyptians were marching to Jerusalem to engage its attackers. But Nebuchadnezzar turned the Egyptians back to Egypt and then returned to Jerusalem to resume his siege. 37:5-9



While Nebuchadnezzar was presumably gone for good there was a change of heart in the city. The former slave owners had at first repented. They had released those that had been kept in servitude past the limits of the Law. But now their attackers were gone, for good they thought. So why should they not take their slaves back into servitude? To their mind God’s punishment for disobedience had past. “But afterward they turned around and took back the male servants and the female servants whom they had set free, and brought them into subjection for male servants and for female servants.” Jeremiah 34:7
This is certainly dangerous business for any child of God whether an Old Covenant Jew or New Testament believer; to know how God would have you live but rebel and live another way, then to experience God’s chastisement and repent of it only to fall back into rebellion when the Lord is chastening no more.
Sadly this is just what happened in Jerusalem.
So here we are... Our Biblical time machine having placed us in the city. It was a city of rejoicing when Nebuchadnezzar left. Now it has become a city once again in rebellion  to the Law of God. What will we see next?
“‘Although recently you had turned and done what is right in My sight, each man proclaiming release to his neighbor, and you had made a covenant before Me in the house which is called by My name. Yet you turned and profaned My name, and each man took back his male servant and each man his female servant whom you had set free according to their desire, and you brought them into subjection to be your male servants and female servants.’ Therefore thus says the LORD, 'You have not obeyed Me in proclaiming release each man to his brother and each man to his neighbor. Behold, I am proclaiming a release to you,' declares the LORD, 'to the sword, to the pestilence and to the famine; and I will make you a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.’” Jer. 34:15-17
Do you see the fear in their expressions,
knowing that God has not turned a blind eye
on their return to sin;
Or the anguish at the prospect
of what God will now bring upon them
for their return to that
which they had just repented of?
Look on as the walls of the city are breached
and the invading army of Chaldeans enters.
Watch as the cities’ noblemen and the nation’s warriors
flee with their king
only to be caught in the fields beyond.
For their return to sin they are slaughtered,
Zedekiah’s sons cut down before his very eyes.

Do you sense his anguish at what he sees?

And this is the last he will see
as Nebuchadnezzar then takes out his eyes.
This king’s city is burned, its walls torn down,
and those remaining alive
taken into captivity—all for choosing
to return to disobedience.

The very strong implication of Scripture is that none of this would have happened if Zedekiah and the noblemen of Judah had not reneged, had not taken back into the bond of slavery those they had released in that great act of repentance. “Behold, I am going to command, declares the LORD, and I will bring them back to this city; and they will fight against it and take it and burn it with fire; and I will make the cities of Judah a desolation without inhabitant. Jeremiah 34:22


The believer should learn from lessons of the past. So what is the lesson to be learned here?
God will not turn a blind eye on the sinner's repentance. There may not always be time, especially if we delay, but there is always hope. So DON’T delay. Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Ezekiel 33:11


Surely it is better to repent than not, and best that we not return to that from which we have repented.

B'rit Chadashah Mishpatim
Matthew 5:38-42; 17:1-11
Closing off this week’s study is our B’rit Chadashah, which directs us to two passages.

The first is Matthew 5:38-42. There we see Jesus making reference to the Mosaic Law given in our Torah portion. In Matthew we read,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH. vs.38 

Messiah is making reference back to Exodus 21:23-25, “But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.” This section of equal punishment for a wrong committed is known as  the “lex talionis” or law of retaliation and was designed for the ending of feuds.

But in our Matthew portion this all seems to change. Messiah goes on to say, “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.” vs. 39-42

This definitely is a far different approach to settling disputes than what was given Moses and the Jewish nation. 
What is even a little more unsettling is that at the end of His public ministry Yeshua says this, “‘When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?’ They said, ’No, nothing.’ And He said to them, ‘But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, 'AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS'; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.’ They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, ‘It is enough.’ 
This could not have been a figurative recommendation since only a few verses later we find Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane wearing (and using) a sword. Peter’s later action in wielding the sword was not rebuked, only reversed. Nowhere are Peter and the other sword-bearer—(wonder who that was?)—told to take them off. As a side note, I think this gives the believer justification for the defense of his home, his family, himself, and his country. This does however, present us with the question as to why there are two different approaches by Christ in the gospels.
If our God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow (Hebrews 13:8), then how is it that He can direct His people to an aggressive stand in the Law (an eye for an eye), a passive stand in the Sermon on the Mount (show no resistance to him who is evil), and a return to that potentially aggressive posture at the end of His public ministry (go buy a sword)?

How about your opinion? We’d love to hear from you. (Just as a hint on a solution for the above, check out Ex. 21:26-36.) 
             

Our second B’rit Chadashah passage is Matthew 17:1-11. This glorious passage on the transfiguration of the Son of God is so very rich with truths to plumb. On the surface, three disciples and their Master go up a high mountain alone. There the Master changes appearance to look as bright and white as the sun itself. Then two other men, long dead and unknown by face, appear and speak to the Master. But they are recognized by the disciples anyway (How?). After a few stumbling words by one of the disciples there comes a voice out of a cloud, "This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!" vs. 5 After this who would dare not listen to the Master? 

But they fall to the ground, in much fear. And then ... a rich moment of great tenderness.  The Master walks to the three disciples, touches each, and says, “Arise, and do not be afraid.” vs. 7

Now we could talk about how these two men, Moses and Elijah, came from Paradise, the resting place of departed Old Covenant saints, or of what they might have spoken to the Master about (such a short conversation). We could consider the heavenly appearance the Master assumed, much the same as He appears in the book of Revelation where He brings judgement upon the wicked and eternal glory to the righteous.

Then, there was that bright overshadowing cloud from which the voice declared the Master to be His beloved Son. What of that? And there is also the question about which so many seminary students have debated and written on: Was John the Baptist a type or an actual reincarnation of that great prophet, Elijah? But we won’t speak further of any of these.

Rather, we will address the words of the Master to HIs disciples, “Arise, and do not be afraid.”  These are wonderful words of comfort, not only because they came from the Master, but because of what was spoken just before them. Hear them again, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!"

If you will allow me to be a bit extra-Biblical for a moment may I say that it is my opinion that one of the greatest problems we as believers in our Savior have, is fear. We fear for our loved ones. We fear for ourselves. We fear for our jobs, our economy, our nation. I don’t know of much that we don’t fear about. Well, it’s natural to fear. Isn’t it?


But what did the Father say of His beloved Son? Listen to Him!
And what did the Master say to the disciples?“Arise and do not be afraid.”
Now, may I go beyond being just a little extra-Biblical and become personal?
I will share a fear of mine with you. It is fear concerning the well being of a loved one of mine, someone who is very close to me. You see I love this person very much and fear at the prospect of their pain or even losing them. What would I do? BUT, what does the Master say to do? “Do not be afraid.” These are HIs words to me, “Do not be afraid.” And His Father says to me, “Listen to Him!”
I know that we both know something else the Master has said, “If you love me you’ll keep my commandments.” John 14:15 So I must not fear. In this I show my love for the Master.

Rather, I must trust. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:5-8

I think the conclusion to this then is for me to, “Arise, and not be afraid.” for in doing this I show my love for Him. Through trustful obedience we get up off our faces just like those disciples did. And I think the rest falls into place.
How about your fears, whatever they might be?
Do you hear the Master saying,
Arise, and do not be afraid.
Join me, won’t you.
After all, it’s our heavenly Father
that said,
“Listen to Him!”



In Messiah’s Love,
His EVERY Word Ministries