Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bereshit: "In the beginning"

Oh boy, Genesis is my favorite book and this is my favorite portion of the book...until I read my next favorite.  It is so full of prophecy and history -- full of everything -- I can hardly believe this portion contains so many chapters (six) to study for one week.  There are so many different subjects of eternal truth to study in these passages, but one key study phrase to keep in mind is actually a Bible verse (Isaiah 46:10):  the end is declared from the beginning.  

The book is the beginning, the foundation.  Everything that is revealed here about God's character in eternity and as He related to mankind is and will be consistent with His dealings with man thereafter.  We will create a whole new god to worship if we refuse to study the character of God in the New Testament alongside His ways in the Old...since He is One, eternal, and unchanging.  This is why this is so important to dive right into this beginning book, the beginning chapters of this book, and study the literal, analogical, implied, and hidden truths therein.

Here are just a few things of this Torah portion that my family and I are deeply considering:
And the earth came to be formless and empty, and darkness was on the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of Elohim was moving on the face of the waters.  -- Genesis 1:2
Is darkness a created thing or is it the absence of light?  I can mirror this question with another:  Is the lake of fire and brimstone full of chaos and evil because of the absence of God (who alone is order and good) or is it created that way for the purpose of debt paying?  The answer with the first is that it is both.  God flat out says that He created the darkness (Isaiah 45:7), and light wouldn't be light if there wasn't darkness.  To mirror that last statement:  This is why you cannot appreciate the price of salvation (let alone even claim it) without knowing, truly knowing, what you are saved from, because good news wouldn't be so if there weren't bad news to make it so.

Another debated thing you hear in mainstream Christianity since the time of the Reformers is the steps of salvation.  I'm not going to get into doctrines that were named after men, but let us settle the matter of life with the second verse (above) of this book:  Life begins with the Ruach/Spirit (which also means breath).  You will find this consistent from hereon, especially noting the valley of dried bones in the book of Ezekiel.  His Spirit moves and there is life. 
And Elohim created the man in His image, in the image of Elohim He created him -- male and female He created them.  -- Genesis 1:27
Most single people I know dearly wish to be married, and though my opinion doesn't count is it Biblically acceptable to say that is okay to want marriage?  If I read Paul's statement correctly in I Corinthians 7, the standard is to be married, the rarity is that you are not.  He talks of men having different gifts, and the ability to remain single being one of them.  I believe it is a standard because of the verse above and because He Himself says it is not good for man to be alone, on top of other verses that speak of two being better than one.

The image of God is upon man, but not just man.  If it was only upon male than it would be good for male to be alone, but instead God says it is not good.  Remembering that God is good, so then whatsoever He creates to be the image of Him should be good as well, correct?  Well, it is absolutely good when both man and woman, each having their own different imprints of God's character upon them, come together to give the full picture of God's character all the while exemplifying the Biblical earthly marriage and eternal marriage.  If a single gender alone had the full character of God imprinted upon him, what motivation would he have to join to another and be the example of the eternal marriage, or what would prevent him from being born his own god?  Let us remember this and defend the differences between the sexes, the importance of marriage, especially in this time of evil that persuades a single gender (uni-gender) upon us and one gender found in a marriage.
"For Elohim knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be like Elohim, knowing good and evil."  And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, and she took of its fruit and ate.  And she also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.  -- Genesis 3:5-6
Many studies focus on why this tree was there in the first place.  This time around, our family has been focusing on what is it about knowledge of good and evil that meant their destruction?  Yes, the disobedience alone led to their destruction, but God clearly did say that eating of the tree is destruction in itself.  Sometimes I hate scrolling on Facebook, because all the awareness articles people share come with a pictures of that story, and some are downright evil.  Someone may share a pro-life article that had a video attached to the article and the post's thumbnail will be a picture of an aborted baby.  Another article I saw posted was that of ISIS' torture on Christian babies -- the thumbnail was that of babies on the floor with the criminals' feet by them as if they were kicking the children.  Mind you, I did not open any of these articles, the thumbnails alone show the evil they expose.  Brant assimilates the knowledge of good and evil, namely the knowledge of evil, with what those thumbnails do to one's mind (or at least do to my mind) -- the evil is played in your head and now your eyes have "opened" to see it.  You don't have to be the actor of the evil in order to envision evil, and envisioning it clearly isn't a crime as many movements are surviving because of the envisioning that gains your consideration and sympathy, but it certainly does taint a mind.  Imagine having a mind that has never seen such things.  It's like a sheltered child who doesn't know the ways of the world -- oh blessed shelter.
And YHWH Elohim said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all livestock and more than every beast of the field.  On your belly you are to go, and eat dust all the days of your life.  ...  To the woman He said, "I greatly increase your sorrow and your conception -- bring forth children in pain.  And you desire is for your husband, and he does rule over you."  ...  [to the man] "By the sweat of your face you are to eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken.  For dust you are, and to dust you return."  -- Genesis 3:14, 16, 19
These are the curses given to all three.  Did you notice that none of them repented?  I'll get into the woman's curse later, but for now I wanted to share that I noticed a correlation between the curse given to the serpent and that given to the man.  Elohim calls man dust, and beforehand He tells the serpent he will eat dust.  The serpent has since kept himself quite busy chasing after man, feasting upon him as God has here said he would.
And YHWH Elohim made the coats of skin for the man and his wife and dressed them.  -- Genesis 3:21
Was Cain the first to shed blood on the earth?  The truth is, God is the first.  Isn't it a beautiful thought that not only did God command blood shed of animals for atonement, but shed blood Himself as the first atonement, and eventually the final?  You can be sure of this -- God didn't place anything in His Torah that didn't fully coincide with His own character.  He is His Word.
And it came to be, in the course of time, that Qayin brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to YHWH.  And Hebel also brought of the first-born of his flock and of their fat.  And YHWH looked to Hebel and his offering, but He did not look to Qayin and his offering.  And Qayin was very wroth, and his face fell.  ...  "If you do well, is there not acceptance?  And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door.  And its desire is for you, but you should master it."  -- Genesis 4:3-5, 7
Does God not accept fruit from the ground as an acceptable offering?  Clearly, He does as He not only accepted but commanded the first fruits of barley and wheat.  Yet, it says that He did not accept Cain's. This makes you wonder what kind of fruit Cain offered?  Whatever it is, it was not a well.  If it was a well offering, God would have accepted it as He says.  If the meaning is that the fruit was not well, then I can almost liken it to God's argument in Malachi about how He was being offered the sick and blemished animals while the people kept the well and spotless ones for themselves.  That is if it does mean this.

Notice how it says that Abel offered the first-born of his flock and its fat.  This sounds like a Torah command before the Torah was even written.  Remember that Adam had the Word written in His heart, and true to the Word, he diligently taught it to his children.  This side of the Covenant, He says the Word is upon our hearts once again.  How many of us are following as faithfully as those followers before the Torah?

Going back to the woman's curse.  A part of her curse is that her desire would be towards her husband and he would master her.  Read God's words to Cain again.  He says the same thing to Cain should he continue not doing well.  Sin's desire would be to Cain and Cain should master it.  Essentially, the man is married to sin and so it is with all that are not married to God.  You may not like it, and certainly not like it being said so bluntly, but you are a slave nonetheless -- either God's or sin's (Romans 6).  You are either bonded and married to God or you are bonded and married to sin.
"And now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand.  If you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you.  You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth."  -- Genesis 4:11-12
Many liken these brothers as 2 separate paths -- the spiritual man and the worldly man.  Just last year I wrote an article on that same perspective.  However, this time around we have been looking at Abel as the type of Messiah and Cain as the type of Israel.  Cain killed his brother just as Israel killed theirs (Messiah).  Israel was given cities of refuge lest bloodshed defile the land and the land spue them out, and eventually it did for innocent bloodshed (in their idolatry) and for failure to uphold the Shemittah, along with other offenses.  Here, the land vomits Cain out of it for innocent bloodshed as well.  Israel then became a wanderer in the nations.  Here, Cain is to become a wanderer in the earth.  God's rules are always the same, no matter the time -- do we see that?
And YHWH said to him, "Well, if anyone kills Qayin, vengeance is taken on him sevenfold."  And YHWH set up a sign for Qayin, lest anyone finding him kills him.  -- Genesis 4:15
We learned in the case of Israel that even though God is chastising His children, it doesn't give us the right to do so.  Though He sent Judah out, He punished the nations for their part in Judah's chastisement.  God is punishing Qayin but the world can't step in and have their part in it.  This is another comparison to Israel.
And Adah bore Yabal.  He was the father of those who dwell in tents.  -- Genesis 4:20
Don't you find it divine that this was pointed out in Scripture?  This is so important because of what "dwelling in tents" means to the Lord.  In fact God says Jacob was a perfect man, dwelling in tents.  This is quick to demolish the serpent seed in Cain, because we see that through the line of Cain there are those who are in relationship with the Lord.
And to Sheth, to him also a son was born.  And he called his name Enosh.  Then it was begun to call on the Name of YHWH.  -- Genesis 4:26
To "call upon the Name of the Lord" is not a book-of-Romans doctrine.  It began here in Genesis.  The term is used to show a result of salvation -- hence, whosoever calls upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.  Before we say that all you have to do is simply say a prayer (which is to call on Him) to be saved, one should see other areas wherein this phrase is used and conclude what it means to be saved and how to be so, starting with the first time it is stated right here.  What is God trying to say by pointing this out about Enosh?  Among other things, He is telling us that salvation came through the line of Sheth.  This is very important to understand as we go through the Torah and its teachings, because from that point on many messiahs come to pass (outside of the hints and ways/lineage of His salvation), but God gives us the Torah as a foundation for discerning the real Messiah, the only One that can truly save us.


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Sunday, October 12, 2014

V'Zot HaBrachah: This is the Blessing

Well, I am a bit late.  We have now cycled back to Genesis starting today, but the end of the Torah was just so important and my week was so busy that I figured better late than never.  The end sees us going back to the beginning, and this way of reading alone is so significant and symbolic of a much deeper understanding.  A life of integrity, where all parts speak of the Lord, is the life we are after; and so it is absolutely perfect that even in the way we read the story we are telling a far more important story. 

That understanding is that the end is the beginning.  Hebraic thought and theology is cyclic and not linear.  Your whole theology will change (at least mine did) when you begin to read the Bible's goal of "renewed" and "restored", and the sinner's commission to "repent" and "return" as it is written:  literally.  The literal meaning of these words is that we are to repent and return (which means to go back), and a message of our dire need to be renewed [to covenant] and restored.  One might ask, "Return and be renewed to what?"  --To the beginning.  Simply, the end is the beginning.  It only makes sense this way because it wasn't as if God messed up with His creation and He had to make anew, but in fact what He created was good.  Nay, it was very good.  We need to be, and will be, restored back to that good.

If you adopt this Hebraic way of thinking, remembering the King and Messiah of Abraham is Hebrew Himself, then you can read the end of Revelation and see things in the end that were in the beginning:  God dwelling with His people, the tree of life, etc.  Now try reading the whole book of Revelation with this thought process, rather than a Grecian one, and you are going to see the book of Genesis all over it, along with the rest of the Torah (namely, the feasts, numbers, and purposed items in celebration).  

So you see in order for me to properly start at the beginning I felt it was incumbent upon me to dwell a bit on the end.  What is the end of the Torah but the beginning of Joshua/Yehoshua's lead?  And what does coming to the end of the Torah mean to believers of the Messiah?  It means coming to Messiah.  Now, of course, just as Joshua's lead didn't mean doing away with the Law of God (He was commanded to keep it, read Joshua 1), so Messiah's reign does not mean doing away with it as well -- as we have been modernly taught.  In fact, Messiah's reign is about restoring the Law of God (which is His own Law since He is God), as we read in the prophets -- the Law will go forth from Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:1-5; Micah 4:2).  Could it be possible that we have been fooled into thinking the end of the Torah to come to Messiah is to be done with the Torah, as if the Messiah is not one with His own Word, as if there are two Gods:  the judging one of the Old Testament and the one who saves us from His Father's Word in the New Testament -- as if we have been therefore fooled into having a polytheistic belief without even realizing it?  What a deception by a very intelligent being if so.

Moving on, let's dive into the end.  The Torah portion (Deuteronomy 33-34) started with a blessing Moses spoke over Israel and ended with his death into Joshua's role as leader.  If you read the blessings, you will see he blesses them in accordance to what has already been seen and how it will apply to the future (prophetic).  This isn't some name it and claim it, but he has observed how God has indeed already blessed, acknowledged it, and lined his words up with the obvious of God's will and used wisdom to see how those blessings would be brought into the future.  Below is what he says after the individual blessings, which clearly tells us this is the motivation for saying what he said to the tribes:
"O Yeshurun, there is no one like El, riding the heavens to help you, and on the clouds, in His excellency.  The Elohim of old is a refuge, and beneath are everlasting arms.  And He drives out the enemy from before you and says, 'Destroy!'  Thus Yisra'el dwells in safety, the fountain of Ya'aqob alone, in a land of grain and new wine.  His heavens also drop down dew.  Blessed are you, O Yisra'el!  Who is like you, a people saved by YHWH, the shield of your help, and He who is the sword of your excellency!  And your enemies are subdued for you, and you tread down their high places."  -- Deuteronomy 33:26-29
What a blessing to see that you have been blessed.  I think oftentimes the hindrance to our blessings is not a lack of blessings, but blind eyes that cannot see them.  One of the blessings we have is the Torah itself, which obedience to brings forth lots of blessings.  This is not because of a works-based salvation, but because order and peace (which is established by law that is designed to show kindness and express love) is a blessing itself.  Our eyes are so blind in seeing the fence that our flesh is against, that it cannot see the blessing.  It is a blessing to have a day of rest, a blessing to not be bonded to coveting, a blessing to not have murder existing in your towns, a blessing to have a man say something and mean it, a blessing to have your run-away ox be returned to you, a blessing to gather with fellow believers in a celebration a few times a year.  All these things are written in the Torah and are they not blessings?  The Torah is indeed a blessing.  It is not a blessing to those adverse to it, like the Adversary and those he has successfully inspired to likewise be adverse to God's Torah.
Mosheh commanded us a Torah, an inheritance of the assembly of Ya'aqob.  -- Deuteronomy 33:4
The Torah is the declaration of God's moral attributes, because God is peace, love, kindness, order, and God loves Himself and loves those He dwells with likewise -- as is the Torah's highest command (love God and love your neighbor).  To receive the Torah as an inheritance (as is stated in verse above) is to be given the character of God.  Children receive many inherited traits from their parents.  Some are in the genes and some are from spending 18 years with the parent.  My son's type-A OCD personality is from me, and it appears to be genetic.  So then, when we are His children, some of our newfound traits come from being changed from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18) in the transformation of the Holy Spirit and some come from spending time with Him (being sanctified by His Word, John 17:17) as we adapt His likeness.  The Torah is the inheritance of His people, and to be adverse to the Torah is the inheritance of the Adversary.

Before I tie in blessings of the end and the beginning, I want to first share something.  A few months ago I attended a women's meeting wherein the speaker told us of how she lived a life of curses and oppression for some time.  She shared with us that she wrote and spoke blessings over herself.  She shared one of those blessings, which was fully Scripture, and she blew me away with her blessing.  She challenged us to write and speak a blessing over ourselves, by consideration of observing how we already have been blessed.  Meaning, speak what has already been done.  It's sort of how I viewed the summary of Moses' blessing -- an acknowledgment of how we have already been blessed and how this can be carried into the future.  I challenge the reader to do the same.  I will share mine with you:
Natasha, The Lord God of heaven and earth has bestowed upon you the blessing of life. He has breathed into you His own breath, and made you a living soul. He has breathed into you His Ruach HaKodesh and made you a soul that will abide for eternity as you abide in Him. He has, by this, awakened you and invited you and jealously perpetually draws you to the oneness of Him and to being echad with Him. He has blessed you as a citizen of His kingdom. As your Elohim, He makes you to rise above chaos. He has blessed you as daughter, by His Son Yehoshua Messiah, restoring you to be fruitful and multiply, as it was in the Garden. He has written His Word upon your heart, that you may not sin against Him and that you may dwell in the land of the living all the days of your life. He has opened your eyes that you may see, your ears that you may hear, and your heart that you may understand that all things are created by Him, through Him, and for Him. He has sent His Word to you, written and living, and has determined that it would not return back to Him void. It will return with you. He has blessed you to seek Him and to see Him by faith in the Scriptures. He has used your misfortune in the lack of a father to be a Father to you. He has and will always be your Father. He alone has shown you the love of a parent, teaching you and carrying you as a Father does a son. You have been delivered from sin's sting and the devil's taunting that would attempt to take your former role as victim to be become a victimizer. He has commissioned that your trials would be triumphs and that by the sword of division in His Son, you would no longer be victim but be a victor. If ever He allows the enemy to be used in your life, it is only to proclaim His victory in you, through the power of His restoration, to draw you to Him, to refine you as fine gold, all to the glory of His mighty and powerful Name. He has given you understanding in these things because He would not have you perish for lack of knowledge. He has instructed you in His Torah and commissions you all the days of your life to be an extension of Him, as a son is to a father, as is His divine design. He has done this by His Son, imputing the character of His Son to be imprinted upon you, as if you were one. In this sense, He has given you the blessing of bride – called you to be One with His Son, twain one flesh as His Word describes of marriages. As Husband He has paid your debt, your dowry, and has been your Lord to guide you. He has been faithful to you as a Husband and bids you to be faithful to Him. By His own power and jealousy over you, He fills you with the knowledge through His Torah and through His own character, of what it means to be a faithful bride. He has raised you up a beautiful bride, presenting you spotless and without wrinkle. He sets you apart, consecrating you unto Himself. He protects you and provides for you, and you will never beg for bread. As He remembered David, He will remember you, and will claim the generations that will come forth from you. You are adorned with all the jewels of a bride most beloved, the jewels of the fruit of the Spirit and of the gifts of the Spirit. He blesses you with these gifts because of His constant and undying for you and how much He wishes you to love Him in return. He has forgiven your transgressions, and has never forsaken you even when you ignorantly forsook Him. He has determined to give you exceedingly abundantly more than you could ever ask or think. He has made you wealthy in the things eternal, and has set your heart aright to seek these things. He has blessed you with Himself, in all the ways an Eternal God can give Himself to another. He has placed His Name YHWH upon you by taking you as daughter, by taking you as Bride, by calling you into His family through His triune nature, through the events He designed in your life, through His Word, and through the unfailing love that you know He has ultimately blessed you with. This love is heaven to you, because He is your heaven, and this love will lift you to that heaven when you dwell with Him for all eternity. He brings you to Himself.
Ultimately, I want God's blessing.  I want the blessing He wants to give me, because I don't know what is best for myself.  I am not my own God to figure that out.  When I think about God's blessing, I think of Numbers 6, the Aaronic benediction, when God says He wants to put His Name on His people and bless them like this.  I want to be restored to being free from the curse of sin, having God's Name upon me.  Somehow I think this is the end of blessings, the final and ultimate blessing.  I say this because of what is written in the end, about the end:
And no longer shall there be any curse, and the throne of Elohim and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.  And they shall see His face, and His Name shall be upon their foreheads.  -- Revelation 22:3-4
This is saying God will dwell with His people, very literally, and that His Name will be upon them.  In that passage, it also says He will be our light, there will be no more sorrow or pain (the curse of sin).  Now compare this with the blessing to His inheritance in their start as a people:
"Speak to Aharon and his sons, saying, 'This is how you bless the children of Yisra'el.  Say to them:  "YHWH bless you and guard you; YHWH make His face shine upon you, and show favour to you; YHWH lift up His face upon you, and give you peace"'  Thus they shall put My Name on the children of Yisra'el, and I Myself shall bless them."  -- Numbers 6:23-27
Both are the same.  This is the end blessing.  This is restoration and renewal.


*Disclosure:  With the exception of Scripture and quotations, the information on this site is meant to be viewed solely on this site.  Any reference of its contribution is not to be parted with the reference of this site, nor without reference to its contributor.  The information is, kindly, made public, and expected to be cited properly.    

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Kol Nidrei/Yom Kippur

 This week in our readings we turn back to Leviticus 16, as this week falls in line with a Biblical appointment in the Biblical calendar.  This Friday sundown starts Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, and it kicks off with the Kol Nidrei, a nullifying of the previous year's vows.

Yom Kippur is not done away with, since it is clearly part of the eternal Word, but is a Fall Feast; and like the other Fall Feasts, is awaiting fulfillment and will see it at the second coming of the Lord and Messiah.  First the trumpets (Yom Teruah) then the atonement (Yom Kippur), and then the dwelling (Sukkot), just as God set it in order here in His Torah.

So we turn back to Leviticus 16 this week to study the protocols with Yom Kippur.  It will help us understand God's order and how the future fulfillment will come to pass.  God does not change -- this should promote the Hebraic cyclic thinking, rather than linear thinking; so that what will be has already happened (Ecclesiastes 1:9, 3:15; Isaiah 46:10).  Promotion of new thought, as we Greek-thinkers think of "new", will result in a new [and, quite likely, a false Greek] god.  God is not a Greek God, but is a Hebrew one, and so we must study Him and His times in this manner.

Yom Kippur isn't about turning our pages back to the book of Leviticus, but it is about turning back ourselves.  Taken from one of the Brit Chadashah readings this week:
Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a renewed creature -- the old matters have passed away, see, all matters have become renewed!  And all matters are from Elohim, who has restored us to favour with Himself through Yehoshua Messiah, and has given us the service of restoration to favour...  -- II Corinthians 5:17-18
You will notice that some versions will use the word "new" rather than "renewed" in verse seventeen. The Greek thoughts leans more towards "new," yet taken in context (reading to verse 18) we find that by declaring a restoration, "new" to God is "renewed."  Restoration isn't new, but a renewal.  This is easy to understand because God created a perfect being and had perfect relationship with that being and because God doesn't change.  There wasn't a fault in what God created, wherein He would find Himself having to make a whole new thing; but rather man became faulty and must be restored to God's original perfect design.  Restoration for that man means repentance, and repentance isn't just changing, it is turning back to that order and design.  This is the difference between a truly new thing and a restored/renewed one.  New ways make way for new teachings, and we wonder why we have so many denominations.  Renewed ways make reverence an unchanging, perfect, and eternal Hebrew God.  

The Haftarah reading talks about a renewal (repentance, turning back) as well, as it pertains to Yom Kippur:
"If you do turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My set-apart day, and shall call the Sabbath 'a delight,' the set-apart day of YHWH 'esteemed,' and shall esteem it, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in YHWH.  And I shall cause you to ride on the heights of the earth, and feed you with the inheritance of Ya'aqob your father.  For the mouth of YHWH has spoken!" -- Isaiah 58:13-14
Not very many people that claim themselves to be His children delight in the Shabbat, esteem it, or set it apart in the ways that God says you should.  This is talking about turning back to a certain Sabbath, being renewed to the correct keeping of it.  This is important for us to realize because context is everything.  In the beginning of the chapter He lets us know how He feels about us not keeping this Shabbat, esteeming it, and setting it apart.  Contrary to modern belief, verses 6-9 are not an excuse to forsake fasting in general.  When we read the whole chapter, especially the passage listed above, we see words such as "afflict your beings," "the Sabbath," that are familiar because they pertain to Yom Kippur.  Yom Kippur is when God says we are to afflict our beings, fast, and keep the day as a Sabbath.  Incorrect observance of Yom Kippur is failure to observe Yom Kippur.  Correct keeping of it is repentance (renewal), and correct keeping of it would do the things that are listed in verses 6-7, because repentance (renewal) does nullify the vows (like the Kol Nidrei) of a sinner by breaking off those yokes and loving [God and others] as is stated in those verses, which is also the core of the Torah's teachings.

We often quote "delight yourself in YHWH and He shall give you the desires of your heart," and will think upon ourselves many ways to delight ourselves in YHWH, when the Haftarah passage above says proper keeping of this Sabbath is to delight yourself in YHWH.  Why is this? -- because it is the atonement, the saving from the bonds of yourself and your sins.  We should delight in God's salvation.  It is very important to Him that we do delight in His salvation, because it is the glory of God.  The debt paid by Messiah is where all the attributes of God meet in one event.  It is where you can find His wrath and His love; His justice, judgment, and justification; His longsuffering and kindness -- all of Him.  It is the fullness of God's glory in all its extravagance.  Read another portion of the Brit Chadashah reading:
[In Messiah] whom Elohim set forth as an atonement, through belief in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His tolerance Elohim had passed over the sins that had taken place before, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He is righteous and declares righteous the one who has belief in Yehoshua.  -- Romans 3:25-26
Returning back to Yom Kippur... Leviticus 16 gives the order of things in the atonement, a protocol.  Doesn't the flesh just rise up with that simple statement, let alone reverencing Torah?  Bad attitude towards Torah is proof that one needs restoration, reminding ourselves that Torah is God's order.  Torah is given for order and for life.  God is not a God of disorder, but orderly, and there are certain protocols to keep order, which is to keep life sustained.  You don't see the earth orbiting in which ever way it feels like, but according to a certain order that would sustain the life upon it.  You look at the Middle East and see all the chaos (disorder) and what does it result in but random and unjustified killings at a whim in animal-like behaviors.  Let that be proof enough that chaos/disorder does not promote life, and God is a God of life.  His protocol in chapter 16 comes immediately after Nadab and Abihu lose their lives for offering incense with strange fire; so then even offering and intercession (incense) without Torah does not result in life.  His Torah is designed to keep life going and keep it at peace via love and order.

There are few things herein that we can reap about the order in atonement:  1) We must be washed with real water of our uncleanliness (Leviticus 16:4).  Whether you believe that the New Testament teachings of water baptisms are either because of the remission or for the remission, you cannot deny John 3:5 and Acts 2:38 talk about real water.  2) After washing of sins is set-apartness (Leviticus 16:4).  The belief of salvation without the walk is just not Scripturally supported.  Linen is for holy things, wool for common use.  This is why we do not mix linen and wool (Deuteronomy 22:11).  As well, we read in other Brit Chadashah readings for this week (II Corinthians 5:15) that those that have His death as their payment of sins live a life not for themselves but set-apart to Him who died for them.  3) Deal with your own sins before you deal with others (Leviticus 16:5-6).  Aaron was to make offering for himself and his household before he did for Yisrael.  It reminds me of the passage that talks about removing the beam from your eye before you point out the speck in your brother's (Matthew 7:5).  4) Intercession comes only from the sacrifice of Messiah (Leviticus  16:12-13).  Scripture says that Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire with their incense, but the Torah is that the fire for the incense is to come from the coals used to burn the offering.  Of course you know the offering is Messiah.  Intercession (incense) is only through Him; any other offering for intercession is strange fire.  He is the only Way, Truth, and Life (John 14:6).  5) The temple needs cleansing (Leviticus 16:16-20).  This is the first time I read through the chapter and realized that the tabernacle itself, with the altar and the Holy Place, need atoning.  This reminds me of the New Testament verse that says judgement begins in the house of God (I Peter 4:17).  It also makes one think twice about what they are trying to bring into the house of God.  6) Sins must be confessed (Leviticus 16:21).  7)  Sins must be transferred in order to be cast away (Leviticus 16:22).  You cannot bear your sins and one day be cleared of them, because to bear your own sins is to pay eternally for them.  Punishment is not only related to the crime, but also to the victim.  Killing isn't always paid with life.  If a fly is my victim, my life is not given; but I take a human life and I will give my own for it.  If I sin against an eternal God I will pay eternity for it; and so in order to have the sin cast away fully, it must be transferred to One who can pay an eternal cost in paying with His life because His life is eternal.  7) After confession there must be a washing in order to move forward to the completion of the atonement (Leviticus 16:23-24).  I am not saying water is required for salvation; what I am saying is read the Bible's related verses and come to a conclusion yourself.
"And this shall be a statue for ever unto you:  that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you."  -- Leviticus 16:29
This is the final verse I will use, that ties into the Lord's fast from the Isaiah passage above.  The Isaiah passage speaks of returning to a specific Sabbath, in the true meaning of its fast and affliction.  God says that Yom Kippur is a Sabbath, wherein you afflict your souls to include a fast.  We do it for the breaking of yokes in ourselves, that we would return to His ways (Torah), back to order and love.  The results of such are stated in Isaiah 58:6-9.  Return to His ways, which are perfect; delight in His Shabbat, the salvation of YHWH.


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Friday, September 5, 2014

Ki Teitzei: "When you go out"

We continue the repetition of things already said.  The first generation of redeemed Israel is gone, their children are here in their stead, and Moses is honoring the Shema's command to diligent teach the Law to the children.  

The parsha starts out with a protocol of "when you go out" to fight against your enemies.  This is not speaking about protocol of when they go in[to the land] of inheritance, but rather when, after they have conquered the land of inheritance, they leave the land to fight enemies outside of their inheritance.  There is a difference here -- when they go into the inherited land they are to save none alive (Deuteronomy 20:16), but utterly destroy the inhabitants.  The command here is for enemies outside of the inherited land -- it gives them an option to keep women captives alive (even children and livestock in accordance to Deuteronomy 20:14-15).  This statement is continued into the beginning of the reading because it is in the event that one of the women captives captivates the desire of the Israeli man and he wishes her as his wife. 

Once again, this is different protocol than dealing with the inhabitants of the conquered inherited land.  The Israeli man cannot take one of Canaan's inhabitants as a wife, otherwise the land is not getting purged as God so desires.  The statement in the beginning of our parsha is about taking a woman captive outside of her land and bringing her into yours.  It is the difference between Israel entering Moab (city of Shittim) and the Moabitesses causing them to whore (Numbers 25:1), and Ruth, who was also a Moabitess, taken out of her land and brought into Israel.  One is an allowed marriage, and one is not a marriage in the eyes of God, and no man can make God sanctify it.  

Certain mixing is divine, because it is redemptive, and certain mixing is not.  We must be able to discern the difference, and how do we do this?  We have the Torah for such instruction.  Let us focus on some more mixing...
Do not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seed, lest the yield of the seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard be defiled.  Do not plough with an ox and a donkey together.  Do not put on a garment of different kinds, of wool and linen together.  -- Deuteronomy 22:9-11
I am unsure to what the deeper spiritual meaning of the first two negations refer.  However, I have been taught that, for the final, wool was for common use and linen is not.  Linen is a holy garment.  Therefore, the deeper meaning is that the common and the set-apart are not to be mixed.  From thence we can study what 'common' means Biblically and see our limitations in our set-apart walk.  Remember, God is out for out good and it is absolutely prideful for us to think that we can be influential to one's good without their bad influencing us.  Even when restoring a brother to the faith we are told to take heed lest we fall (I Corinthians 10:12) -- how much more to the heathen who has never been a brother?  Remember as well, we have been told to guard two things in the Torah:  the Torah and its home (ourselves).  We must guard ourselves and beware of hidden pride that thinks we can mix for others' good without compromising ourselves.

God is also out for this type of mixing:  the type when our beliefs mix in our whole life.  This is called integrity.  We cannot say we honor the command to not mix with the unclean, but have no idea how to separate clean and unclean clothes, having them sit all in one big pile to take as we need.  I know it is very small in comparison, but the type of mixing God wants is integrity in one's life.  Their values mix in all areas of it.  The simple "do not mix wool and linen" should tell us this much.  Even the world gets this.  I have heard people say they will not accept a dinner invitation from someone whose car looks like rats live in it.  Integrity.
Make tassels on the four corners on the garment with which you cover yourself.  -- Deuteronomy 22:12
There seems to be a universal acceptance of strings ever before us reminding us of something important.  Human beings from all sorts of backgrounds tie strings on their fingers as a reminder to not forget this or that.  It is helpful because of how often we look at our hands.  We will see the string and remember the thing the string represents.  These strings of Torah are to remind us to not forget...Torah! The tassels here are to be on our robe.  Just as God robed Himself in our flesh as a step to being one with us, so we must robe ourselves in His Torah as our step to being one with Him.
For YHWH your Elohim walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you.  Therefore your camp shall be set-apart, so that He does not see unclean matter among you, and shall turn away from you.  -- Deuteronomy 23:14
This is one of the biggest problems we have in the church today.  It is the problem of mixing clean and unclean, the clean allowing unclean into the church.  So many excuses exist as to why the clean allow such things.  The point is that God says separate yourself or He will separate Himself.  Does He accept sinners?  Of course!  He accepts a humble sinner, not a proud one.  God knows a humble heart, and a humble heart does not enter His camp with their sin still actively being practiced for all to see and accept their uncleanness.  Remember the story of Pinchas (Phinehas)?  God was not happily accepting the Israeli and Midianite woman, but did happily accept Pinchas purging this fornicating and whoring sin from the presence of the camp.    
When a man has taken a new wife, let him not go out into the army nor let any matter be imposed upon him.  He shall be exempt one year for the sake of his home, to rejoice with his wife whom he has taken.  -- Deuteronomy 24:5
Here is another example of divine mixing:  it is when two become one.  I find it a beautiful thing that God honors the type of marriages He commands.  He Himself, along with Israel His bride, took a year off from war after the giving of Torah (His marriage covenant), before the army was set up and they set out to conquer.  Again, God honors the marriages He commands.  Yehoshua, a Hebrew, is looking for a Hebrew Bride.  He is not looking for a Greek philosopher wife nor new ager, because He is not a Greek husband nor Greek god.
You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a heavy and a light.  You shall not have in your house differing measure, a large and a small.  You shall have a perfect and a right weight, a perfect and right measure, so that they prolong your days on the soil which YHWH your Elohim is giving you.  -- Deuteronomy 25:13-15
This passage speaks of two things:  balance and integrity.  Everything is always working toward a balance, or it is no longer.  Imagine one of the jobs of the Creator, in keeping this universe in existence!  Now imagine how we are to be living epistles, in our oneness with Him, to His love for balance.  Not having differing weights and measures also speaks of integrity.  Our actions and reactions should not be based upon what is big and and what is small, but they should be the same for what is big and what is small.  There is no such thing as a white lie or a cute tantrum.  One child should not get away with something that another would not.  It is not okay for Mom and Dad to say certain words and subject their eyes and ears to witness certain sins, but not okay for the children.  Integrity and balance -- and by what means can we be integrated and by what measure do we consider a perfect weight and balance?  It is the Torah.  

The Torah is the foundation of believing the prophets, believing Yehoshua, and the comparison to where we believe ourselves as sanctified and changing to His image. 


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Friday, August 22, 2014

Re'eh: "See"

We open Moses' farewell speech this week with an imperative statement to see what is set before you, blessing or curse.  Choose one.  There is this quote I saw a while back on Facebook that read, "You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice."  The thing is, the consequence is made known (here in the parsha, in the Torah pages before, and also read Romans 1:18).  It should not be such a surprise when these things come to pass, especially coming from a God all-knowing, a God who does not lie, a just and holy God, and a God all-powerful to see His counsel and balance come to pass.

It is pretty black and white.  If you aren't choosing God's yoke (Torah) and blessings, then you get the yoke of your flesh and the cursing.  There isn't an acceptable gray, because at that point you have already mixed the black in with the white.  There are some warnings here about mixing, especially as it pertains to worship.  
"...guard yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire about their mighty ones, saying, 'How did these nations serve their mighty ones?  And let me do so too.'  Do not do so to YHWH your Elohim, for every abomination which YHWH hates they have done to their mighty ones, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their mighty ones."  -- Deuteronomy 12:30-31
Many of the church practices of worship and holy days have originated from pagan worship.  I am not going to spend time going through what is already known.  The question I have heard of the church these days is if the days and the practices are redeemable, or can the practices, in their evolvement, be sanctified.  This is considering that, you know, even the trees used are grown by the Lord, and we can say the lights are to symbolize God who is Light, etc.  The passage just said do not inquire after their rituals.  If some 'saints' back in the early church days hadn't inquired of them, do you think there would even be a question of sanctification for such pagan-originated, western Church-practicing, holy days?  It expressly says do not do so to YHWH, the set-apart Elohim.  If we want worship and feast -- which we do because we were built to want such things -- then read the rest of the parsha!  We should especially read chapter 16, where a good few feasts of the Lord are given; and read Torah, where the ways to worship Him are given to us as instructions to keep Him set apart.
"...and the sign of the wonder shall come true, or which he has spoken to you, saying, 'Let us go after other mighty ones -- which you have not known -- and serve them,' do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for YHWH your Elohim is trying you to know whether you love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your being. ...  And that prophet or that dreamer of dreams is put to death, because he has spoken apostasy against YHWH your Elohim -- who brought you out of the land of Mitsrayim and redeemed you from the house of bondage -- to make you stray from the way in which YHWH your Elohim commanded you to walk.  Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst."  -- Deuteronomy 13:2-3, 5
This is a real issue, not just an issue that is foretold here and ceased at the end of Judah's captivity, but one we deal with today.  It is an issue where people do not walk the ways of YHWH, but walk in the ways known, and established, for other gods.  It saddens me greatly to see an argument of a believer towards pagan-originated holy days, pleading the redemption of such, but who won't partake of the Lord's Passover, or any other clearly given instruction from the Lord regarding worship and feast.  It doesn't matter if such worship is disguised in butterflies and bunnies, rosy cheeks and jingle bells.  As the Scripture tells us, the devil himself disguises as an angel of light.  He knows only a few are actually enticed by horns and fire; the majority are enticed otherwise.
"You are the children of YHWH your Elohim.  Do not cut yourselves nor shave the front of your head for the dead, for you are a set-apart people to YHWH your Elohim, and YHWH has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a treasured possession above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth."  -- Deuteronomy 14:1-2
I come from a non-practicing Roman Catholic background.  We showed up to mass only on Roman Catholic holy days, and faithfully to rosaries that we heard about in our Chamorro culture.  I just knocked my own background above with the holy days, and now I will knock the background of rosaries.  It was a common thing to hear in my ears someone praise a dead relative for the good weather, for finding their lost keys, etc.  I saw, and still see in some of my family, a remembrance for the dead more than a remembrance of the Lord.  Some will remember the dead's birthday more than they will remember the Lord's birthday of Sukkot -- some don't even know the Lord's birthday is Sukkot because of their mixing worship with paganism as said above.  Some will remember the dead's death more than the death of the Lord on Passover.  We are called to be His children, the children of the living God...not children of the dead.  We are not to worship the dead.
"At the end of every seven years you make a release of debts.  And this is the word of the release:  Every creditor is to release what he has loaned to his neighbour, he does not require it of his neighbour or his brother, because it is called the release of YHWH.  Of a foreigner you could require it, but your hand is to release whatever is owed by your brother."  -- Deuteronomy 15:1-3
This is a hard thing to do when you think of your loss, but a minor thing to do when you think of the spiritual revelation of this passage and how God is calling you to live a physical reflection of a spiritual truth.  One great Jubilee, the Lord's return will see the fullness of our debts, as His brethren, released through the application of His payment on Calvary.  The foreigner to Him will not see a release of their debt, and His blood payment is not applied to them.  So remember, just as you were freely given, freely give.  Forgive your brother and neighbor (him living within the same land as you, this means those likewise set-apart) his debts, as you have been forgiven.  This does not apply to the world, but a witness to the world that some of the world would no longer want to be of the world.
"And it shall be, when he says to you, 'I do not go away from you,' because he loves you and your house, because it is good for him with you, then you shall take an awl and thrust his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever.  Do the same to your female servants."  -- Deuteronomy 15:16-17
This is another thing therein the world has no part.  The world does not release its slaves.  Honestly, the first generation of redeemed Israel kept wanting to go back to their slavish lives.  Haven't you seen this with people of this day?  If the world would care less to hold onto them as slaves, they gladly keep going back.  Yet, these won't gladly be the slave of such a rewarding and merciful, altogether lovely, Lord.  What proof of the flesh's animosity towards the King of the universe!

If you read from verse 12 you will see that this is referring to the Hebrew brother who is sold to you (debts), who is to go free at the Jubilee as well.  However, it does say if that brother refuses to leave you, but knows it is better for him to remain in your house and as your servant, wishing to continue serving you by the time the Jubilee comes, then his servitude has become permanent.  If you recall the end of Leviticus, it spoke of dedicated things to the Lord.  You could redeem these things back to yourself for a price, up until the Jubilee.  If you hadn't by the Jubilee, then the dedication was permanent, forever the Lord's.  I spoke then of the 'once saved always saved' being true if it refers to salvation as the end (Jubilee) result.  It is then permanent, but until then the Word certainly says a man can renounce his dedicated thing -- obviously at a price he will spend eternity paying.  With this thought of Jubilee in mind, you can see why the servitude is permanent, as the Word says, if the servant remains through the Jubilee.

I love how it says you are to mark his ear, thrust an awl through it to the door.  It is symbolism that his ear is yours, it belongs to your house.  It reminds me of us as the Lord's servants in the Shema... if we know what's good for us and refuse to leave His house, and make our servitude an everlasting one, then we must understand that includes our ear to His door.  We must hear and obey.  As you can see, the passage quoted above is physical reflection of the spiritual, and it is a voluntary eternal servitude.  It is only for those who (as it is said) love Him and His house, and know it is good for them to dwell with Him.  This is different from those who want His blood but not to live in His house as Father.  To those that just want His blood, their servitude is grievous, if they serve at all.  But to those that love His house, the servitude is freedom...freedom from not only the consequences of the world's choices, but freedom from the world.  Only as the Lord's slave will you have blessing and life.


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Eikev: "[In the] Heel [of]"

"And it shall be, because (eikev) you hear (shema) these right-rulings, and shall guard and do them, that YHWH your Elohim shall guard with you the covenant and the kindness which He swore to your fathers,"  -- Deuteronomy 7:12
Have you ever heard people ranting about a relationship gone wrong; how they put a certain effort into the relationship and didn't get the same in return; how much they weren't heard but were just used as an ear; practically used for their money or other asset, making them feel like a servant; and how they are so fed up, done, and did not deserve such a treatment.  My perception is that the majority of these people do the same the Lord.  Relationship involves two, and you cannot expect Him to stick around a relationship you won't stick around in yourself in the physical world.  

Keeping this relationship alive requires hearing.  This is the shema.  It is more than hearing, but a hearing that results in action.  When I used to get into arguments with my ex-husband, there would be times he would sit or stand there in a military fashion, mouth closed, and just let me rant.  He would not respond, but would simply say, "Are you done yet?"  Then he would proceed to leave.  Listen, God is not in this for ranting, neither is His Law a bunch of complaining on how we did wrong.  He doesn't speak just so you can sit there and just merely hear the words and then go about your business, just as you don't pray to Him expecting Him to end it with, "Are you done yet so I can go about my business?"  You don't want Him to only hear the words, but you speak to Him mainly to see His face or hand, to see Him in action in your relationship with Him.  He wants action from you as well.
"...and shall love you and bless you and increase you, and shall bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land which He swore to your fathers to give you.  Blessed are you above all peoples -- there is not going to be a barren man or a barren woman among you or among your livestock."  -- Deuteronomy 7:13-14
God's love is entwined with God's blessings, and God's blessings are directly related to increase.  This includes the blessing of old to "be fruitful and multiply."  The world wants to say the fruit of the womb will inconvenience us, or the fruit of the womb shouldn't live in this evil world, and other lies.  The Bible says the fruit of the womb is a blessing.  We should not be concerned with changing the way God blesses, but change the way we perceive blessings.
"And YHWH your Elohim shall drive out those nations before you, little by little.  You are not allowed to destroy them at once, lest the beasts of the field become too numerous for you."  -- Deuteronomy 7:22
Now I didn't put extra research into the connection between the heathen and the beasts of the field, but from what I read of this passage I assume that the nations helped keep those beasts at bay by killing them for food, clothing, and even animal sacrifice to their gods, etc.  Listen to this again, as you will find the principle of this in the Brit Chadashah in a few places.  These nations were vessels of wrath, they were going to see the judgment of Elohim in their deeds.  Why didn't He destroy them at once?  Didn't He say that His purpose to slowly destroy them is for Israel's own safety?  God had a purpose for these vessels of wrath, and that was to keep the beasts at bay as a form of protection for His people. What strength of Him to keep such a situation at balance, and what wisdom of His to still have purpose for the vessel of wrath.

This reminds me of two passages in the NT:  the parable of the wheat and tares, and Romans chapter nine.  The wheat and tares passage tells us that if the tares were pulled out now, the wheat would die.  They must grow up together and then when it comes to harvest they can be separated.  Only God in His infinite wisdom can truly conclude why even we have purpose for the tares amongst us.  Perhaps they serve us more than we can imagine in our finite minds.  Perhaps they are so busy destroying each other or perhaps they keep the beasts and demons of this world so busy with their chaos that these principalities of evil truly have significantly less time to work on tantalizing us.  For some it may be hard to imagine the devil's tantalizing could be any worse, but imagine if he didn't have his own evildoers he was trying to run for his evil purpose, how much free time he would have towards the children of God?

Romans nine gives us picture of a vessel of wrath (Pharaoh) being used for God's purpose towards His people.  It is beyond our immediate understanding that God would use the evil to declare His glory, to draw His people to Him, to deliver His people.  This is especially true in His use of evil to bring about salvation, such as we saw in the case of Messiah and the evildoers towards Him.  If you are wondering why He still allows the evil in this world, meditate upon the glory of God that came forth from cases of evil in the past, and remember their cup of guilt will be full by the time of that great day of His wrath so that they have indeed earned it.  Yet, even in their earning it, God's wisdom is that He uses it and them -- yes, for even our own good, as it has time and again proved.  Marvel at God in His ability to use His enemies for His purpose, serving His people.  
"The carved images of their mighty ones you are to burn with fire.  Do not covet the silver or gold that is on them, nor take it for yourselves, lest you be snared by it, for it is an abomination to YHWH your Elohim.  And do not bring an abomination into your house, lest you be accursed like it.  Utterly loathe it and hate it, for it is accursed."  -- Deuteronomy 7:25-26
We are to keep zero -- I repeat, zero -- of the pagan gods and their worship.  We are not to retain the best of their worship -- the 'silver or gold' of it.  We are not to mix it with the religion of YHWH.  It does not matter what we think of certain aspects of their worship, if it is redeemable or not.  As far as we can agree, devils are not redeemable.  What does this say of their holy days?  It also does not matter what the church fathers think of their worship.  We do not worship the church fathers, we worship YHWH.  It matters what He thinks of it, and He says it is an abomination.  We are not to bring such abominations into our houses -- from Ashtaroth (the name of an actual false god) poles to blood-dyed eggs in their origination and evolution.  It is an accursed thing.  The Bible does not say it is accursed until it evolves to trees and smiley bunnies, in their disguises of light.  The Word does not give an expiration date of such a cursing.  We are not God to add one in.
"And you shall know that YHWH your Elohim is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people."  -- Deuteronomy 9:6
How long have the people of God been under grace?  Grace is an old-fashioned, Old Testament, concept.  Ask the stiff-necked here, or David, or Abraham, or Noah, or Jacob, or even the Lawgiver Moses!
"Then YHWH gave me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of Elohim, and on them were all the Words which YHWH had spoken to you on the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly."  -- Deuteronomy 9:10
Have you ever heard someone say that there is a letter of the Law and a Spirit of the Law, and that these have been dispensational.  Obviously, a believer of such would say the letter of the Law would be for times BC, and the Spirit of the Law is for these days of the Lord in AD.  Such a believer could really only have a belief that even the parts of God are not unified, as the letter is not the Spirit is not the finger (that wrote this Law).  Such a believer is probably more trinity in their beliefs of God's entity, rather than triune -- there is a difference in the declaration of the doctrinal meaning of these terms.  It is imperative that our doctrines support that God is one.  The letter/Word and the Spirit are one.  The Father and the Son are one.  To say they are different entities, and that one saved us from the other, is a polytheistic faith, and almost sounds like it originates from the gnostic false religion of old.  This is not the faith of true religion.  To say there is dispensationalism, as it is taught, is to declare a changing God.  Again, this is not the God of true religion.  He does not change and He is not against Himself.  He (Messiah) did not save us from Himself (Father), which is the same as saying He (Spirit) saved us from His Word (Law)...the same Word that is here known as Torah.  Just as the people broke the Law and God did not change His Law, but rather reconciled them to the same Law (He wrote the same Law again on a second set of tablets), so it is to this day that God did not change, nor did His Word, but He changed us and gave us reconciliation in Messiah to His eternal Word, rewritten on the heart of flesh.
"And you shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and harden your neck no more."  -- Deuteronomy 10:16
Does physical circumcision put you in Covenant?  Physical circumcision was not what brought you into Covenant then, while heart-circumcision brings you into Covenant now.  This is a popular dispensational belief.  Physical circumcision was a sign of the Covenant.  We can see here that the heart-circumcision was required.  However, because God has declared that the physical is a sign of the spiritual -- always, always, always -- the physical circumcision is a physical reflection of a spiritual truth.  The spiritual matters to God, but so does the physical reflection, because He is a God of integrity.  Let the outward reflect the inward, and let no one argue with it.  After all, He is God!
"'Guard yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other mighty ones and bow to them...And you shall lay up these Words of Mine in your heart and in your being, and shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.'"  -- Deuteronomy 11:16, 18
I started out with the command to guard the Torah of God, and we end with a command to guard yourself.  Two things this parsha tells us to guard:  the Torah and our ourselves.  This is because as it is said here, and as it is said in the reconciliation of the New Covenant by Messiah and the power of His Spirit, the Torah is written upon our hearts.  The Bible is not a blueprint, it is Torah -- instructions.  If you do not heed to them, but allow space in accepting it as mere blueprint, or even done away with, you will find yourself making exceptions to it, deceived, and in false worship.  Remember Israel, who decided to worship outside of Torah.  They made a golden calf.  I once heard someone preach, "All worship outside of Torah is a golden calf."  Even our Beloved Bridegroom, our Savior and Lord, worshipped in Torah.

Guard His Words.  The Law is order.  God genuinely has good-will towards mankind, and it is so reflected in His Law.  If you study His Law remembering He is a God of life, you will see all the commands of His Law are to bring order designed for life, to prolongs our days.  Also, guard yourselves, because these Words no longer sit upon stone, but dwell in you.


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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Va'etchanan: "I Pleaded"

Oh my this week's reading is loaded.  I feel rather tight in blog space already, and I haven't even gotten started.  There are a few themes we will go over in this Torah parsha, especially as it relates to the [Re]New[ed] Covenant.  Everything here involves relationship.  Pleading starts the reading.  Ironically so, relationships start with pleading.  If you don't think pleading is in relationships, ask any newlywed.  Pleading is back and forth as more time is spent with each other, and the idea is that through time pleading lessens as pleadings turn into reasonings, reasonings turn into changed behaviors, and changed behaviors turn into a more unified walk together as one flesh comes more to be.  Some of our pleadings may seem like small matters compared to the pleadings within the spiritual, but even in the spiritual you will notice God plead with His people over things that His church often toss aside as a small matter, so small it doesn't stand through time.  His beloved usually plead back with Him on a daily basis.  We do this by our asking in prayers, sometimes led by love for God and sometimes not.  In marriage, our separate pleadings bring us to reason together and from there we have things that are performed as a part of our showing love to one another.  This is much mirrored by God's call to "come, let us reason together," as found in Isaiah 1:18.  When Brant and I plead together, we get to the heart of the matter -- is this a part of my identity that we cannot give up, is this a part of my identity that God is using the other to help us give up, or is this a part of our identity that God is using to help sanctify the other person?  Note, in reasoning with God, the purpose is to change our identity.  We cannot change His identity -- to do so would be creating a false god.  The glory of God is that, like married couples in their pleadings and reasonings that lessen in time as they become more unified in changed behaviors, we actually change to be one with Him. 

Every behavior reveals a character trait.  Differences in behaviors, revealing differences in identity, force a change in the parties within a marriage.  I can tell you Brant could care less about taking shoes off in the house, but he takes them off anyway because he loves me.  It is silliness for anyone to say he is earning my love by taking off his shoes, much like it is silliness to say we are attempting to earn God's love and favor by obeying the commands.  Sometimes the laws we have in our relationships reveal the insecurities of our character.  My law against shoes in the house reveal my upbringing and my mother's words (Biblical, though she didn't realize it) that the outside filth mustn't be allowed to taint the cleanliness within.  It isn't just about shoes with me, it is about separation of clean and unclean.  The fact that Brant has changed his behavior in something that meant nothing to him, and faithfully takes off his shoes without reminder, reveals that his mind is actively occupied with pleasing me rather than what is habitual and natural to him.  This speaks great lengths in letting me know that he loves me more than he loves himself.  We need to understand that loving God, by walking His commands, is not natural and habitual.  Our mind needs to be actively occupied with pleasing Him, and it only will be if we love Him more than we love ourselves.  Naturally, with our minds elsewhere occupied, we forget the natural tendencies to please self.

The commands are order.  Law and order are one, and God is a God of order.  Therefore, the order that comes from the commands are not just small matters that can be done away with in time, but are actually the Lord's love language.  Obeying them is a way we display our love to Him, since order means so much to Him.  If I, a mere human, have deep roots for why I can or cannot accept certain behaviors (like shoes in the house) and they have made it into a law for my household, imagine Almighty God's reasonings as it relates to His pleadings via commands?  Maybe, just maybe, the commands aren't simply commands, but are deeply rooted to His character.  If we should diligently seek Him, we should spend time studying the commands as reasonings that relate to His character.  I love that when I do something unlike Brant, he seeks to know why I do it.  He isn't content with just taking off the shoes.  He honestly wants to know me.  How many of us approach Torah that way?  

Brant inspires me.  I generally make up the rules of the house because the house is one of my jobs.  I admit I have many house laws, and I watch such a beautiful spiritual foreshadowing when I see the repetition of household rules dissipate to nearly nothing in such a short period of time.  One reason is because when I give a rule that is foreign to Brant, he seeks to know why.  Like I said above, he desires to know me.  He seeks to know why simply because of His desire to know me.  Sometimes in his attempt to find the source of my rules we come to see they are sourced from insecurities or emotional attachments (especially now with hormone-related tendencies).  With him pointing them out, I can be freed from them.  Then there are times when we see the source is truly character-related, and his attitude toward what would seem like silly rules on the surface mean so much more to him when he sees they are related to my character.  In this, he shows me his own character to seek the character of God in His commands, instead of chucking them as dispensational, time-related, and situational.  For him, it has made a difference in his faithfulness to God now compared to the wavering of his twenties.  When our desire is God, we will want to get to know Him.  The commands, therefore, do not become grievous (I John 5:3) for those that desire Him, as they are a revelation of His character.

The other reason why repetition of my rules dissipates is due to something I mentioned earlier -- his mind is actively occupied with them.  I remember when we first married it drove him nuts to have to remember so many things so unlike himself.  Now, active occupation has become his own behavior on a few things already.  I am not saying Brant is the only one who has changed here, but I am saying the motivations for his change are so inspiring to me, because they reflect spiritual life, that I'd rather talk of his changes than mine.  His changes motivate me to not only to change in return, but give me living examples of spiritual change.  

Relationships suffer disappointments.  There are generally 2 reasons for this -- "I forgot" and selfishness.  We suffer our relationship with God for the same reasons.  I used Brant as example because he exemplifies the ways to combat against those 2 reasons.  He rids selfishness by his desire for another that is not himself, and he rids "I forgot" by carrying my love laws ever on his mind.  How can one forget when something is ever before him?  I say he is spiritually inspiring because what he does in relationship to me is actually written in the Shema.  He is actively practicing the Shema in our marriage, truly allowing it to be an example of our marriage to the Lord.  The Shema states this:  God is to be our desiring love, and we are to remember His love language, His right-rulings.  If God is not your desire, you will not care of His commands.  Desiring God leads to active walking in the commands (John 14:15; I John 5:3).  These same commands are to be ever before us, so much that it is practically between our eyes and written upon our arms.  It becomes a new behavior, so then truly it is as Messiah said, He sanctifies us by His Word (John 17:17).  These new behaviors actually sanctify us more and more as echad with God, since the commands are a revelation of Him.  One cannot say "I forgot" when it comes to sin, but he who has the Word ever before Him cannot forget.  His reasoning then is selfishness.  Don't you love how God has a way of getting to the heart of the matter?  

The Shema was more than just having the Law as frontlets between your eyes, a sign upon your hand, a writing on your doorpost and upon your gates.  Read the Shema, it is foremost about loving God (desire) and having His right-rulings/love language ever so near to you that it is upon your heart, ever before your mind.  This sounds like the New Covenant (Ezekiel 36:26; Jeremiah 31:33), yet required in the Old.  This is why it is actually a Renewed Covenant.  God remains the same, man is what changed.  The price paid by Messiah made it possible to renew a breeched Covenant of marriage.
Hear, O Yisra'el:  YHWH our Elohim, YHWH is one!  And you shall love YHWH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your might.  And these Words which I am commanding you today shall be in your heart, and you shall impress them upon your children, and shall speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up, and shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.  -- Deuteronomy 6:4-9


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