Wednesday, August 10, 2016

D'Varim -- Love or Law

Well, Friends, we have arrived to the last book of the Torah -- the book of Deuteronomy.  Just as with the other books of the Torah, and their parshas, this book is originally named D'Varim -- "im" making it plural -- after the first distinctive word in the reading, "words."  "These are the words..."  It wasn't too far into my learning of Hebrew that I realized that devar/dabar had 2 primary meanings, word or thing.  This is very intriguing and the basis of understanding the word of God -- it produces something.  Word and thing are the same word because words produce things, the earliest account goes all the way to the creation, and shows us that this expectancy of words to produce fruit originates from God.  Elohim does not expect of us what He didn't already set as an example, and as the example, invites us to walk as He walked, marry Him, be one with Him.

I had to say all of that because here in this book of Love, this book of "words" -- and yes, it is a book of Love, as the book of Deuteronomy is full of constant reminders of how much Adonai loves as a Father and a Bridegroom, and a returning commission to love Him faithfully -- that I'm going to discuss the Law.  Friend, we have too many people dividing Law and Love, and we have embarrassingly been a poor example to the world of the order and law involved in love, but rather have given way for the world to redefine it into tolerance and momentary self-serving pleasures.  If the people who claim to know the writer of the D'Varim that we call the "Holy Scriptures" think that one cannot love [God] unless they be separated from Law [Torah], then we really cannot be disgusted with the world around us.  We can see that on an earthen, physical level, this is absurdity to even say that one loves his sovereign when he doesn't keep that sovereign's law, utterly rejects it, hates it, even purposely goes against it (Beloved, there are some people I've heard purposely speak against circumcision because it is in the 'Old Covenant' and others who will work the Shabbat so as to not in any way appear to keep the Torah, all the while claim that the Messiah is their King!)  These sorts of things cannot be!  Why does this not appear likewise absurd in a spiritual kingdom?  The physical has a way of being a manifestation of the spiritual, a reminder of what is going on past our deceived hearts.  The physical, in this way, has not ceased to maintain its purpose.  This "Christian" country should be a slap in the face of the reality of what its Christians are doing in their Eternal Sovereign's kingdom.

Oh, we will surely have some rebuttals from the pulpit, perhaps those even using our own haftarah portion for this week:
"Why are all those sacrifices offered to me?" asks Adonai. "I'm fed up with burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened animals!  I get no pleasure from the blood of bulls, lambs and goats!  Yes, you come to appear in my presence; but who asked you to do this, to trample through my courtyards?  Stop bringing worthless grain offerings!  They are like disgusting incense to me!  Rosh-Hodesh, Shabbat, calling convocations -- I can't stand evil together with your assemblies!  Everything in me hates your Rosh-Hodesh and your festivals; they are a burden to me -- I'm tired of putting up with them!"  -- Isaiah 1:11-14 Complete Jewish Bible
Wow, it sounds like the Lord does not like Torah in saying He does not like burnt offerings, sacrifices, nor Shabbats, but this would contradict some other statements He made of them when He established these things, calling said offerings a "sweet smelling aroma," (yes, YHWH loves the smell of barbeque), and the Shabbats by the same description He gives Himself, "set apart," begging us likewise in the same book of the verses above quoted, to call the Shabbats "a delight."  So then we must realize that taking these group of verses as evidence that God does not like offerings nor Shabbat-keeping is grossly taking the charge out of context.  If we continue to read, we see what the problem truly is...
"Wash yourselves clean!  Get your evil deeds out of my sight!  Stop doing evil..."  Isaiah 1:16
This is a works/deeds issue, not an issue with the keeping of the Torah nor its sacrifices and holy days.
How the faithful city has become a whore!  Once she was filled with justice, righteousness lodged in her; but now murderers!  -- Isaiah 1:21
Once faithful as a wife, she is now (was then) a whore.  I put this verse in this, from the same Isaiah haftarah portion, to help make a point.  Envision a marriage.  It has anniversaries, it gets fed sweet acts of love.  Envision that the husband is no longer faithful but whores himself to other women.  Envision that he continues to keep his anniversary and still brings his wife roses every so often.  If you are the wife, are you to accept such and meet for anniversary date nights, happily?  Such a spouse would more gladly throw those roses out and speak of how they mean nothing!  Does the wife actually hate roses or does she hate what her spouse has done?  Roses in their beginning were sweet smelling fancies for her, but now she despises them, and not that she despises them truly but she despises getting them from a man who cannot set her apart from the other women in his surroundings and keep faith with her by being faithful.  YHWH does not despise His own Torah, His own sacrificial system and ways He receives love, He despises the cheating spouse, continuing in her adultery, meeting Him on their intimate appointments and offering the gifts of love all the while she still whores herself.  

Folks, I have to take a break away from the history of Israel to say before we go pointing out a speck, we must look at the beam in our eyes.  Church, there are plenty within that likewise come to God with some act of love, let's say worship or tithe, all the while keeping up with adulterous acts, like adopting the world's ways of loving their gods through their holy days and rituals.  Do we think the Lord should accept such gifts, coming from under the skirt of asherah?  Is this love?

If ever we were confused on what is love, we should understand 2 things:  God is love (I John 4:8), and so therefore God gets to define love.  Pray tell, where has He given this description of love, but in the Law?  It is like the faithful testimony of Yeshua, who tells us that if we love Him, then keep Him commandments, and again His beloved disciple who says, "This is the love of God, that we keep the commandments, AND they are NOT burdensome."  Love can be defined no other way but by God Himself, and whose character is revealed in written format in the Torah and manifested in Yeshua, the Living Torah.  God is the Torah and Torah is Love.

Let Israel up to this point in the Torah be a witness for us, as reiterated through our New Testament reading, Hebrews 3-4:
And to whom did He swear that they would not enter into His rest, but to those who did not obey?  So we see that they were unable to enter in because of unbelief.  -- Hebrews 3:18-19 The Scriptures
The writer seems to at first say the first generation Israel post-exodus couldn't enter because of lack obedience, but then in the very next sentence says it is lack of belief/faith.  This is because, as Ya'akov tells us, "Faith without works is dead."  Their fruit told the truth of their faith, or lack thereof.  The heart is deceitful and often tells us we are of faith, but when the fruit (which is our works) is tested, does it show we are true or liars?
Therefore, let us be terrified of the possibility that, even though the promise of entering his rest remains, any one of you might be judged to have fallen short of it...  -- Hebrews 4:1 Complete Jewish Bible
It is a scary thought to think that one can fall short of their faith, and that is if they do not keep it!  Reader, let us remember there is a faith to be kept, and the fruit of its keeping through the Torah, through obedience, because Torah is the only description any advocate of God's tells us is the instructions for good works.

We must keep Torah.  We must keep Shabbat, because, as the writer says, we have not yet entered rest.  "Oh but we rest in Jesus.  He is my rest."  Friend, tell that to the writer of Hebrews, who says,
For if Y'hoshua (Messiah, not Joshua of post-Moses, check your translations!) had given them rest, God would not have spoken later of another "day."  So there remains a Shabbat-keeping for God's people.  -- Hebrews 4:8-10
I hope you, Reader, are not getting confused with my point and the writer of Hebrews' point, having the Shabbat thrown in there!  The Shabbat is very important to the point!  Coming into the promised land is paralleled to rest, as God Himself said of those who would not cross into it, "They would not enter my rest."  The writer of Hebrews is showing us that this crossing over into the land is paralleled to spiritual rest, and that just because one has come into Covenant (like Israel did at Sinai) does not mean he will enter that rest.  He uses Israel, post-exodus, to show us this.  The first generation Israel failed to keep the faith and so they did not enter the rest.  They failed to keep it by lack of obedience, which is lack of faith, because their faith did not produce obedience to the belief that God would bring them in (chapter 3's verses above).  He is saying that we, today, have NOT entered our rest.  If Yeshua had given us rest (as some say as a means to forsake the weekly rest), then He would have not talked about a future rest.  So then we must continue to walk as Israel should have walked...faithfully until that rest, and we have not yet received it...through obedience to the command, and we must continue to keep the Shabbat because we have not been given rest to cease from our work.  He continues that below:
For the one who has entered God's rest has also rested from his own works, as God did from his.  Therefore, let us do our best to enter that rest; so that no one will fall short because of the same kind of disobedience.  -- Hebrews 4:11
Seeing as we have not entered rest, we are commissioned to "work" until that future rest.  Failure to do so is to fall short of faith, as the writer clearly tells us by example of Israel.  Faith without works is dead, and good works are...torah.  The one who enters God's rest has rested from his works, just as God rested from work when He entered His rest in the beginning.  Remember, God has given us example from creation of what He expects, and invites us to be echad/one with Him.  Until that rest, there is work to do, which he equates to "keeping of the faith," and the work better be good work, and we have already established only Torah describes "good works." 

To say that the written word and the manifested word are not the same is Greek mythology.  It is my defense to those who say that there is a difference between the Greek rhema (which means word, referring to written law) and the Greek logos (which also means word, referring to Jesus).  Yes, these 2 Greek words that both mean 'word' are different, but Yeshua is not a Greek god.  He is a Hebrew Messiah and in Hebrew 'word' and 'deed' are one.  He is His Word.  As for us, the very Creator as our example, not only is it that our words better produce something, but they cannot be separated from the produce -- our faith needs fruit; our fruit is good works; our faith is walking of the Torah; our love is the law, manifested.

Shalom Aleichem, 

Natasha

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Balak -- Blessing or Curse

Like a fluttering sparrow or a flying swallow, an undeserved curse will not come home to roost.  -- Proverbs 26:2, Complete Jewish Bible
Hello, Friends.  We have reached the parsha of Balak, one that seems so simple compared to the lessons of other parshas -- this one is named after a man who takes up practically the whole parsha.  The man who wanted to curse, but was not able to.  Was the parsha showing us a miracle of the mouth, that although a donkey could open his and speak like a man, a man could not utter a curse over his enemy Israel?  As the years go by, I see there remain much more in this parsha and this parsha should cause us to be alert, as it focuses not on the blessed Israel, but on those around Israel who have ability to influence natural Israel to go one way or another, and not by a verbal blessing or curse, which in turn influences our own end.

The Proverb above reminds us that Israel does not have to fear man's curses, because they will not settle upon them.  In honesty, Israel is cursed by man continuously.  It is not, therefore, like Balaam had some sort of real power to state a blessing or a curse that would stand above God's blessing; but now reading the parsha this cycle around, I'm seeing that maybe Balaam really did have a relationship with God, and for that God was trying to save Balaam's life.  Remember, Israel is blessed as the chosen lineage of Abraham, and according to the covenant, whoever blesses them is blessed and whoever curses them will be cursed.  I currently see that the inability of Balaam isn't so much to prevent Israel from being cursed (because they couldn't be by word, regardless on if he was able to utter the words) so much as it was God trying to prevent Balaam from being cursed for trying to curse and God, thereby, trying to save his life.  We see evidence of this before Balaam makes it to Moab --
The angel of HASHEM said to him, "For what reason did you strike your she-donkey these three times?  Behold!  I went to impede you, for you hastened on a road to oppose me.  The she-donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times.  Had it not turned away from me, I would not even have killed you and let it live!"  -- Numbers 22:32, Translated from The Chumash
So in preventing Balaam from moving forward to verbally state curses over Israel, his donkey was a tool being used to save his life.  Now one thing about this passage I saw as a pattern were the words, "these three times."  These exact words appear again in the parsha.
Balak's anger flared against Balaam and he clapped his hands.  Balak said to Balaam, "To curse my enemies did I summon you, and behold! you have continually blessed them these three times!  Now, flee to your place.  I said I would honor you, but -- behold!  HASHEM has withheld you from honor."  -- Numbers 24:10
By the 2nd set of the words, "these three times," we see that Balaam has blessed Israel.  So the first time those set of words are used it is to prevent Balaam from being cursed and dead, and the 2nd time it is to actually bless him!  Bless him?  Yes, bless him, because in blessing Israel he is supposed to be blessed.  Once again, I'm settling with evidence that Balaam did indeed have a relationship with God, regardless of the opinions we have about the purity of that relationship.  The man confesses YHWH to be his God, though he is a diviner and spiritually prostituting himself, and God is talking to him.  I venture to say there are many in the church that are already Balaams, mixing the most High with the gods of pagans as evidenced in their rituals, holy days, worship, etc.  However, similarities to Balaam do not end there.  The fact that we can see God attempts a relationship with Balaam (along with trying to actually save his life and bless him) is to the credit of His tender mercy, and He should be regarded as most kind and longsuffering.  

Going back to the blessing of Balaam -- if Balaam blessed Israel, then we know that he should be a blessed man.  However, in Numbers 31:8 he is slain with the sword.  The man clearly was not blessed, which seems to contradict what should have happened to a man who blessed Israel.  Friend, something happened between the third blessing and his slaughter that changed his fate.  We do not have to go to the Talmud on this (we didn't), because there are some puzzle pieces in the book of Numbers that help us understand what happened, and how a man who blessed Israel with his mouth actually ended up cursing Israel, and not verbally (which has no merit) but truly cursing Israel.
Balak son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorite.  Moab became very frightened of the people, because it was numerous, and Moab was disgusted in all the face of the Children of Israel.  Moab said to the elders of Midian, "Now the congregation will lick up our entire surroundings. as an ox licks up the greenery of the field."  Balak son of Zippor was king of Moab at that time.  He sent messengers to Balaam son of Beor to Pethor, which is by the River of the land of the members of his people, to summon him, saying, "Behold! a people has come out of Egypt, behold! it has covered the surface of the earth and it sits opposite of me..."  -- Numbers 22:2-5
We see that Balak is king of Moab and he speaks to the elders of Midian and then summons Balaam.  I could not find a definite answer on if Balaam was a Midianite, though in another passage I see that he is named with them, and that is the passage that tells what eventually happened to him:
They (Israel) killed the kings of Midian, along with their slain ones:  Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba, the five kings of Midian' and Balaam son of Beor they slew with the sword.  -- Numbers 31:8
Balaam is mentioned in Numbers 22 in a way that seems like he is connected with the people of Midian, and again mentioned this way in Numbers 31.  If we then determine that Balaam was coupled with the Midianites, we can understand his fate, because although Moab couldn't verbally curse Israel, Moab and Midian did find a way to curse Israel in our parsha.   
Israel settled in the Shittim and the people began to commit harlotry with the daughters of Moab.  They invited the people to the feasts of their gods; the people ate and prostrated themselves to their gods.  Israel became attached to Baal-peor, and the wrath of HASHEM flared up against Israel.  HASHEM said to Moses, "Take all the leaders of the people.  Hang them before HASHEM against the sun -- and the flaring wrath of HASHEM will withdraw from Israel."  Moses said to the judges of Israel, "Let each man kill men who were attached to Baal-peor."  Behold! a man of the Children of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman near to his brothers in the sight of Moses and in the sight of their entire assembly of the Children of Israel; and they were weeping at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.  -- Numbers 25:1-6
For a moment I want to think upon the Lord and how He must have felt.  I don't recall any part of Scripture that leads me to believe that Israel knew the nations around them in this parsha were trying to curse them at the time and that God was interceding and speaking to Balaam.  So then after all He just did for them, they turned around and committed a gross harlotry with the same ones He just humbled for their sake.  Many times I think of the battle in the heavenlies God has done for us, and then one His army battles comes up and bats an eyelash and we fail the faithfulness test.  I've heard of many people cursing God because they could not pass such a test of their own faith, little did they know what He did for them by that point.  

Balaam could not verbally curse Israel (nor would a verbal curse stand), but was a tool to curse Israel in causing Israel to stumble in their faithfulness to YHWH.  Balaam's plot brought about the nations' ways of worship into the set-apart camp of Israel, perverting their Covenant with YHWH.  Instantly, I'm reminded of the Christian who gets frustrated and doesn't understand why "Jews" won't accept the Messiah.  Friend, they will not accept a Messiah that looks like, smells like, and worships like a pagan god dressed in the name "Jesus."  You have to realize that "they" have been there -- Israel had long ago been in a position of taking the pagan gods and slapping the identity of YHWH onto them, they worshiped on the days that commemorated the baals and ashtar, and did so even in the temple (I know, blasphemous right?  What do we think Easter and Christmas are, but invitation for pagan gods into the house of El?)...and they were severely punished for it.  Actually, they were divorced, like an unfaithful spouse who repeatedly invites another into their marriage bed.  In the eyes of these, I would say Christianity looks no different.  Readers, this is a huge stumbling block to our calling towards those natural branches to come to the Messiah.  Balaam was a tool that blessed Israel with his mouth but cursed them.  This is likewise how the Christian can curse Israel all the while blessing them with their mouths.  Most fittingly, here are some of the New Testament verses that went with this parsha --
...so also Isra'el has been disobedient now, so that by your showing them the same mercy that God has shown you, they too may now receive God's mercy.  -- Romans 11:31, CJB 
Nevertheless, I have a few things against you:  you have some people who hold to the teaching of Bi'lam, who taught Balak to set a trap for the people of Isra'el, so that they would eat food that had been sacrificed to idols and commit sexual sin.  Likewise, you too have people who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans.  Therefore, turn from these sins.  -- Revelation 2:14-16
Indeed, to the church who claims be to be wild and grafted-in branches, repent, and receive blessing.

Shabbat Shalom, 

Natasha

*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.  Therefore, please cite properly.    

Friday, July 8, 2016

Chukat -- Purifying Fire

The red heifer.  We have reached the portion.  When it comes to statutes (Chukat, as our portion is so properly named), I've heard it often said that these differ from commandments (which is a totally different Hebrew word) in that they aren't many logical explanations for them, so much as it is strictly an obedience thing.  I mean, when it comes to many of the commandments, we can say they make sense.  I think of Geometry, most of it makes sense.  It sounds confusing written like a "law" but it makes sense.  It makes so much sense that you often think there's some other secret understanding of the specific law/theorem (I'm still talking about Geometry), that you overcomplicate the simplicity of it.  Without even realizing it as I was typing and thinking it, I can see that we do the same with commandments.  Grant it, there are typologies and mysteries associated with the commands, because they are to be physically kept and we know that nothing in the physical is designed to exist that doesn't reflect the spiritual, and for that we can see deeper, dynamic, and hidden meanings to the commandments...but still, they make sense, right?  If they don't make sense, then perhaps it is a strong indicator that we have forsaken its literal meaning.

So returning to statutes...  Among those I converse with, if we do not understand something in the Bible, we often say, "It's a red heifer."  This means that we aren't meant to understand it, so much as we are meant to just obey.  Immediate obedience.  I have a very inquisitive son.  I'm telling you, it is school all day long with this boy because of the many questions he asks.  Some things I can give him a simple answer, a logical explanation, but other things his mind just cannot comprehend, and some things will take away his childlike mind to think about.  So then it is for those things that I have to say, "It is not for you to know, it is for you to obey."  Kids should get a lot of red heifers in their growing up, and as children ourselves [of the most High] we get red heifer as the answer more often then we like, don't we?

However, I must say this is the first year through the Torah cycle that I think I have some understanding of this statute, and by some I mean just very little which drew even more questions, and actually tied into my other questions on other subjects within this Torah portion.  Simply put, I saw that I had three areas of great interest within this Torah portion, and they somewhat all connected, as I came to see this year around.  Those three areas are the red heifer, the changing of the high priesthood, and the bronze serpent.  I will have to wait on the priesthood for another time, so as to not make an extremely long post, but the other two I want to discuss.
"This is the regulation from the Torah which Adonai has commanded.  Tell the people of Isra'el to bring you a young red female cow without fault or defect and which has never borne a yoke."  -- Numbers 19:2 Complete Jewish Bible
I noticed a couple of things in the Hebrew.  The word signifying that the heifer is to be red is Hebrew adumah -- the root of which should be familiar to you.  The 'ah' sound in the end makes the word female (female cow).  It's male version, and root, is adam.  Adam was named such because of the red ground he was made of, like clay.  Another word connected to this root is Edom (the name of Esau) -- which, I hope you remember that Edom/Esau was named such because he came out red.  He came out as "Adam", in comparison to Jacob and all the details of his life (we can see now how Edom represented the natural man of the flesh, the son of Adam, whereas Jacob represented the man who dwells in tents/sojourner whose home is not here, who is the son of God). 

Okay, let's get back to the heifer.  She is a female, unlike Adam, and she has borne no yoke, likewise unlike Adam who bears heavy yoke due to sin.  However, she is like Adam in that she is red.  She is actually the female version of what is his color.  In being the opposite of Adam in many cases, but alike in the one -- she represents a likeness to the man, and a purity that he was meant to have, so that she is a good tool of restoration from impurity and sin (Numbers 19:9), actually a logical match to ritually purify him.  So it does exist that the word logic and red heifer can exist in the same sentence.  Phew.  Now thinking about it even more, if it is like Messiah, who has purified us:  He bore a likeness to us in that He came as man, but opposite of us in that He was everything pure that we were meant to be, making Himself suitable as a purifier and restorer, and logically so to those of his time having been conditioned to the reasons and regulations of the red heifer.  Reader, it is important that your belief in Yeshua is backed up by some already-established process in the Old Testament, otherwise you fall privy to believing anything, especially counterfeits and false gospels.
"You are to give it to El-azar the cohen; it is to be brought outside the camp and slaughtered in front of him.  El-azar the cohen is to take some of its blood with his finger and sprinkle this blood toward the front of the tent of meeting seven times.  The heifer is to be burned to ashes before the eyes -- its skin, meat, blood, and dung is to be burned to ashes."  Numbers 19:5
The red heifer had to undergo a process in order to be used for purification.  Her blood needs to be sprinkled.  She also needs to be burned in front of witnesses.  When I looked up the Hebrew on verse five, the word for burn is saraf.  This word has become increasingly interesting to me.  It is the same root as another word you may be quite familiar with -- seraf, as in serafim (the "im" only makes it plural, seraf is the singular root).  Serafim you will know to be the highest ranking of angels, said to be the closest to the Lord Himself.  Their name is given due to their nature -- seraf/saraf means fire, they are therefore literally translated to be "on fire ones."  We can see how this is so if they are indeed surrounding the Lord of hosts, as He is an all-consuming fire.

So, in order for this heifer to be used, it has to touch saraf.  The Bible could have used the other word for fire (ish) but it did not and instead used this word saraf.  It interests me because it immediately reminded me of another passage in the Bible ---
The doorposts shook at the sound of their shouting, and the house was filled with smoke.  Then I said, "Woe to me!  I [too] am doomed! -- because I, a man with unclean lips, living among a people with unclean lips, have seen with my own eyes the King, Adonai-Tzva'ot!"  One of the s'rafim (serafim) flew to me with a glowing coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar.  He touched my mouth with it and said, "Here!  This has touched your lips.  Your iniquity is gone, your sin is atoned for."  -- Isaiah 6:4-7
So in the Isaiah passage, you have a seraf with a burning coal who touches a man's lips to make him clean.  Isaiah understood this to have made him clean, because he understood the tabernacle rituals and the red heifer, the heifer touching "saraf" and with this result (the ashes) being added to water, making one clean.

This brings me to the other topic that interested me...that of the bronze serpent.  First of all, it needs to be noted that seraf/saraf can mean 6-winged angelic beings, on-fire ones, and it can also mean fiery serpent.  Let us look at the passage one more time.
And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.  Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us.  And Moses prayed for the people.  And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole:  and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.  -- Numbers 21:6-8 KJV
Looking at the Hebrew I saw that when the people complained, the Lord sent them fiery serpents.  Yet, this was not just saraf alone.  He did not just send what we know to be an on-fire one, nor a fiery serpent, but He brought nachashim ha-serafim:  fiery serpents that were snakes.  So that if it was not clear which form of saraf came, it is made absolutely clear that these were fiery hissers (snakes).  What we see then for the remedy is to make a saraf and make it to rise upon a pole for one to look upon if the fiery serpent snake bites him.  The remedy is the saraf alone, minus the snake.  It is also interesting to see that what Moses makes is a bronze snake.  YHWH told him to make a saraf, and yet what he makes is a n'chosh ha-n'choshet.  Now, my Hebrew is definitely not advanced, but I do see that he did not make the saraf, he made something that perhaps symbolized the saraf, but he did not make the saraf.  I'm still trying to understand this.  I have more questions about this topic, especially since the Lord Yeshua mentions it in His ministry, than I do about the red heifer at this point.

My current thoughts are that it is impossible for him to make a saraf -- at least the saraf that Isaiah experienced because it is forbidden to make an exact image of something in heaven.  Just like he could not make an image of Yeshua but in the tabernacle and its rituals there is made something that symbolizes as an example of what exists in heaven, even an example that some, like Isaiah, have experienced firsthand.  These people would worship angels even if it were possible -- which was a problem Paul mentioned in his time, and I want to be very careful to not go there, but at the same time recognizing the use of the angels and why those beings so physically close to the Lord are given such a name as serafim.

To make is simple and safe, it is not about the angelic beings -- the serafim -- but rather, I conclude that it is about the condition meant by the word itself.  Saraf is a symbol of purification by fire, and closeness to the Lord.  From the red heifer to the fiery serpent there is that similar point, and even in Isaiah's experience.  In all three, man meets fire and lives in God's presence.  See, the thing is man is fire already as ish is fire, but this type of fire -- "saraf" -- is different.  Ish must be contained otherwise it destroys and consumes.  Though we must appreciate this word because we know that it is said of God that He is an all-consuming fire.  However, when we deal with ish as it pertains to man, we see that when ish and ishah (man and wife) do not contain their fires, they will consume each other in a result that ends in divorce in the very least, not to mention the absolute destruction they have cause to one another.  However, saraf is the like the fire of being close to the Lord, in the presence of the Lord.  It is a fire directly connected to closeness to the Lord, a fire of purity, desire, love.

Even in my life, I see how I started out in the Lord's Hebraic heritage as an ishah, ready to destroy something or another (false doctrine or belief), a fire for sure!  Slowly since the start, the Lord has tempered that fire to where I meet His truth with pure desire and love for Him and for those He has created.  I hope you can reflect on the same wonderful work of our Beloved Creator and Master, as you meditate on the parsha.

Shabbat Shalom in Yeshua, the Sar Shalom,

Natasha

*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.  Therefore, please cite properly.    

Friday, June 17, 2016

Beha'alotcha: Kingdom of Priests

"For they [Levites] are the ones from among Bnei-Yisrael given to Me in place of all the first from wombs of Bnei-Yisrael.  I have taken them for Myself.  For every firstborn from Bnei-Yisrael is Mine, whether human or animal.  On the day I struck down the firstborn of the land of Egypt, I sanctified them for Myself.  So I am taking the Levites in place of the firstborn of Bnei-Yisrael, and I am giving the Levites as a gift to Aaron and his sons from among Bnei-Yisrael, to do the work on behalf of Bnei-Yisrael in the Tent of Meeting, and to make atonement for them -- so that there would be no more plague among them for coming too close to the Sanctuary."  -- Numbers 8:16-19 TLV
This parsha deals with a lot of topics, but the one I have been most focused on is the dedication of the firstborn and the Levites in lieu.  A few weeks ago, I wrote that this, in part, showed us the principle of redemption.  Yes, it showed this, but it was not the reason why the Levites were chosen.  The Levites were chosen because they did not partake in the golden calf worship and when Moses came off the mountain to call those on the Lord's side to stand before Him, all of the Levites came.  The Lord took them as a firstfruit rather than the firstborn of Israel -- a pattern we see in others like Esau and Jacob, Reuben and Judah, Adam and Messiah...

From what I have observed from much of Christianity, there seems to be a belief that God still has taken a kingdom of priests in lieu of the firstborn Israel, but would not say that these "priests" have to be Levites, but rather are the church, in what is more commonly known as replacement theology.  This comes from not laying the foundation, which is Torah, before we study the New Testament.  

If we study Torah, we understand that all priests are Levites, and all Levites are Israelites; but not all "Israel" are Levites, and not all Levites are priests, which means that not all Israel are priests.  There are levels of intimacy and levels of set-apartness that distinguish them.

The wilderness set up of the tabernacle and the Levitical laws of the Torah, shows us that there are levels of intimacy and levels of set-apartness.  The event that lead to the Levites in lieu of the firstborn (Exodus 32:26), proved that the Levites desired God.  They had set themselves apart from their fellow brothers' strange worship, and showed desire to be intimate with the Lord.  Hence, their level of intimacy and required set-apartness was above the rest of the tribes, not merely out of law but out of desire as we saw in the golden calf incident.   

Their reward was the Lord Himself, and yes this meant forsaking physical possession in this world (Numbers 18:24, Deuteronomy 10:9).  I have to go through the identity of the Levite with you because there is a mixture in the faith of people claiming to be a priest for the Kingdom of YHWH, and even though all Levites are not at priests, all priests are Levites and the laws regarding Levites are not only applicable to priests, but even more laws of set-apartness ... and yet we are seeing a modern day "kingdom of priests" rejecting the laws the Levites once desired for intimacy with the Lord, and rejecting its order altogether (even though we see its restoration in the future temple as foretold by the prophets).

This twofold choosing -- God choosing them and them choosing God -- came with privileges.  They camped within the courtyard, and they took the position of firstborn as they were presented as a firstfruit.  Compare... 
Have the Levites stand before Aaron and his sons and present them as a wave offering to Adonai.  -- Numbers 8:13 
"Speak to Bnei-Yisrael and tell them: When you have come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you are to bring the omer of the firstfruits of your harvest to the kohen.  He is to wave the omer before Adonai, to be accepted for you.  On the morrow after the Shabbat, the kohen is to wave it."  -- Leviticus 23:10-11
Are we willing, Beloved Reader, to be without earthen inheritance as sojourners of this world, and to forsake foreign worship?  Let us remember that worshiping of gold and animals was of pagan origin, and yet in our churches across the Western world we see pagan worship within, certainly foreign to the Torah of God.  We have congregations full of golden calves and strange fire.  The Torah shows us that a priest of YHWH cannot be made of such a congregation!  In fact, such a congregation is like the madness of the world today, identifying with something they simply are not.  

May the Lord find of you, not one grieved by the commandments (I John 5:3), but one desiring to be set-apart because you desire intimacy with your Maker and truly finds their identity in Him.  And how else, Believers, can we identify Him if not by His Torah?

Shabbat Shalom,

Natasha

*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.  Therefore, please cite properly.    

Saturday, June 4, 2016

BeMidbar -- Training Ground

"So then, I Myself will entice her, I will bring her into the wilderness and speak to her heart.  I will give back her vineyards from there and make the valley of Achor a door of hope.  She will respond there -- as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of the land of Egypt.  In that day -- it is a declaration of Adonai -- you will proclaim, 'My husband,' and never again call Me, 'My Baal.'"  -- Hosea 2:16-18 TLV
When we look around at today's churches and proclaimed believers, we can certainly see that it is not only Israel that has been guilty of mixing their husband with baal.  I have often considered that today's Christianity (and much the ages of Christianity in general) has been the pot wherein the spiritual defilements of Israel has been transferred.  Truly, when Yeshua said of the Pharisees of Israel that they are the group who make void the Torah for their own traditions, can't we then say that most of the Christian denominations are the Pharisees of today?  When Christianity has done exactly the things that God hated Israel doing, inviting the pagan practices and ways of worship into the building they call by His name, it is not difficult to see that the Almighty Husband who provided, protected, saved, and took upon their yoke, has speedily become their baal -- just the same as it was for Israel as Hosea speaks.  Are there any still keeping the faith out there?

BeMidbar -- in the wilderness.  For the past few years of going through the parsha cycles, I have tried in earnest to articulate its importance.  It is where the Lord rid the baals of my heart, the baals of His Israel.  It is where He first took Egypt out of them -- and 40 years it took to so do.  What a journey!  It is not hard to articulate because of how long it was, but because of the growth, the gain of things intangible but very much able to be seen in lifestyle, in action, in works.  I actually enjoy the midbar moments of my life.  It is not when I enter them, but rather when I exit them, that I'm almost saddened.  It is a privilege to be trusted and sent out to care for the things of God, having been trained by Him, but it is incomparable to the intimacy of being fed daily bread in the wilderness, incomparable to the Lord speaking to your heart.
In the wilderness of Sinai, on the first day of the second month in the second year from the Exodus from the land of Egypt, Adonai spoke to Moses in the Tent of Meeting saying, "Do a head count of all the community of Bnei-Yisrael by their families and their ancestral house, with a total of every male one by one.  You and Aaron are to muster by their divisions every son from 20 years and upward available to serve in the army of Israel."  -- Numbers 1:1-3
Have you ever been told that it is Biblical that a man take off a year when he first marries?  He is not to serve in the army, nor should he work.  Mostly, that thought comes from Deuteronomy 24:5, a clear commandment that when a man takes on a wife he is not to be called with the army nor is he to have any duty pass over him, but rather should be free at home for one year to make his wife happy.  It is also said then that this is the time a man should take to build his house.  Lord willing, the couple have multiplied that first year and bore their first child.  There is intimacy here.  When I read the very first verses in BeMidbar, I see the intimacy of the torah of the first year of marriage -- God waited a whole year after He took Israel out of Egypt in a offer of marriage with the Ten Words before He called the army to be set up.  In this, He not only kept the men keeping the torah of marriage as it pertains to be in the army but also He kept His own Torah, having been married to His bride for one year of rest before He begins military set-up.  He, in intimacy of the wilderness, spent the first year of His marriage at rest from the army, making His wife happy (Deut 24:5), or comforting her, as some versions say.  He calls for a numbering then, not just for the army's sake, but because His family has grown.  He has built the house, like the man of Deuteronomy 24:5.  Comforting his wife, taking off a year to build his house...that is intimacy.

In addition to intimacy in the wilderness, it is a training ground -- not just for being sent out to some ministry call, but training ground to accept truth when we see it.  When I read the words of Paul, a man well-studied in the Torah, uncovering Yeshua from within the Torah, it is because the Torah was a training ground that led him to accept the Lord Yeshua when he saw Him.  He knew the Torah pearls when he saw them -- Yeshua, ultimately that one pearl of great value that a man will sell all that he has to obtain it, willing that he would count it all as loss.  Yes, friend, even in BeMidbar we are very much trained to know the treasured Yeshua when we see Him.  The simplest of training into acceptance Yeshua is found in the first few chapters, this week's parsha.
"Those camping on the east -- toward the sunrise -- will be of the standard of Judah, according to their divisions Nachshon son of Amminadab, is the prince of the sons of Judah."  -- Numbers 2:3
Judah is to camp on the east side, wherein is the entrance into the tabernacle.  I look back all the way to the garden where God set up a cherubim with a flaming sword on the east side of Eden to keep Adam and Eve out.  This tells us that the entrance to Eden was the east side.  Because of understanding this from Eden, having the entrance to the tabernacle on the east side is to be expected.  Putting Judah there tells us that the doorway to God must be through the tribe of Judah.
All those numbered to Judah's camp, by their divisions, are 186,400.  They are to advance first.  -- Numbers 2:9
I must list this verse because I need to take this opportunity to share a change in understanding.  Years ago when I took a Beth Moore study I had been taught that the tribes set out exactly as they camped, and when you consider the number of people in the camps and how they camped the center extending out...the tribes of the north and south were close in number (which means they would extend out evenly) and the tribes of the east were significantly more than the west (which means the east would extend out far more) then the image seen from above, whether camping or traveling, is a cross.  I was so wowed by this supposed discovery.  However, as I read now, this first camp (Judah), is to advance first.  As I continued to read of the other camps, I saw that the image seen at least while they were actively traveling (not camping) is not a cross, but rather a line.

Numbers tells us Judah camps on the east, but sets out first.  This alone changes nothing of the former belief, since they were traveling east then the camp on the east would be in the front anyway.  However, looking at the other camps -- Reuben is on the south and sets out second (2:10 & 2:16), Ephraim is on the west and is to set out third (2:18 & 2:24), Dan is on the north and is to set out last (2:25 & 2:31), and the Levites are in the middle of the 4 camps as the heart and core of the camps (2:17 -- as a side note, I find it interesting that lev, or levav, means heart, and adding an "i" at the end makes it first person possessive -- levi, "my heart", at the heart of the camps).  This is traveling a line.  If it were a traveling cross, then the Word would say Judah is first, followed by the Levites, Dan, and Reuben as second, and Ephraim last.  I bring this up merely to show example of how easy it is to follow a misinterpretation because of a pre-conditioning to the NT justifying the OT, rather than the other way around.  The OT, when properly studied, will justify the NT, as the NT is the OT revealed, the hidden pearls manifested, and the Lord Yeshua magnified the Law.

Judah advanced first.  This past week I had gone through a battle with someone and before it came to be, the Lord had given me a dream of praising Him, and that day I had a worship session in my home with dancing, flags, and tambourine.  That night was the battle that came unawares, and looking back I see how the Lord taught me how to fight it...first, with praise.  When we read of the travels of the camps and Judah being first, especially since we just finished numbering the army, we see a clear connection with praise (the meaning of Judah) and battle.  It may at first seem like an interesting thing to set out praisers ahead of the army, like Jehoshophat in 2 Chronicles 20:21, but it is what the Lord desired Himself.  He put Judah first.  Praise comes first.
"See, I have taken the Levites from among Bnei-Yisrael in place of the firstborn who open the womb among Bnei-Yisrael.  The Levites will be Mine, because all the firstborn are Mine.  In the day when I was striking down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated Myself every firstborn in Israel -- whether man or animal -- as Mine.  I am Adonai."  -- Numbers 3:12-13
I once heard a Torah-observer say that he could not accept another human being sacrificed for him, that it is not moral.  The standards of morality have to be found in the Torah, there is nothing else where we can hold morals up to.  In truth, the morality of God Himself is revealed in the Torah, God is His Torah, the Torah then being the standard that man takes for himself as the instructions for life, to be more like his Maker and be reconciled to Him, one with Him.  God accepting one life in lieu of yours is sitting right here in the verses above, in the Torah itself.  It is then moral to do so, and He giving Himself as the life in lieu of yours makes Him (Yeshua) not only Torah-observant, but the Torah-manifested.

The wilderness is for intimacy and training.  It is not just training for service for God that all too often is for our own glory, elevating our esteem to be the same as God, and using God's hand as the power behind it.  Rather, it is more so training for acceptance, and not just acceptance with God, but that we would accept God -- accept Yeshua, and not the baals, especially the ones who have stolen His Name.  "In that day -- it is a declaration of Adonai -- you will proclaim, 'My husband,' and never again call Me, 'My Baal.'"

Shabbat Shalom,


Natasha

*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.  Therefore, please cite properly.    

Friday, May 20, 2016

Behar -- The Big Return

Then Adonai said, "My Spirit will not remain with humankind forever, since they are flesh.  So their days will be 120 years."  -- Genesis 6:3 TLV
It has been quite a few years since I first heard someone say about this passage, "You know that's referring to Jubilee years, right?"  No, I hadn't known that, and it had been since then that the Jubilee year remains such a spark of interest to me each parsha cycle when we come upon its study, on top of being such a mystery.

Why a mystery -- you might ask, especially since Scripture doesn't make it appear to be a mystery.  The time of the Jubilee is set clearly in Scripture to be after 49 completed years, as the 50th year, and that it is proclaimed in the 7th month of the 50th year, on Yom Kippur.  
"Then on the tenth day of the seventh month, on Yom Kippur, you are to sound a shofar blast -- you are to sound the shofar all throughout your land.  You are to make the fiftieth year holy, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.  It is to be a Jubilee to you, when each of you is to return to his own property and each of you is to return to his family."  -- Leviticus 25:9-10
When the Word mentions the proclamation being on the 7th month, this tells us that the 50th year (the year of Jubilee) actually starts 7 months prior.  Note, the Word does not say that month of the Jubilee shofar blast is to begin a whole new year.  As far as I have read, the Bible has only ever named Abib as a new year, leaving Yom Teruah as a later-adopted alternative to Rosh HaShanah.  Whether or not that was God-directed, it was not Torah and thus in the mystery of the Jubilee, I rest that the Jubilee starts as soon as 49 years ends (which ends with Adar) -- Jubilee year started on the Abib of the 50th year and it was proclaimed 7 months later on Yom Kippur.  There are 2 ways I'm looking at this mid-year proclamation:  1) the people have 7 months to return before the shofar blasts that the return is complete, or 2) the people have 5 months to return, starting from the shofar blast on Yom Kippur, and better have completed their return by the time the year ends and a new 50 year cycle begins the following Abib.  I have not studied on when they started their travels back to their own families.  We have to remember that these people didn't travel by airplane or motor vehicle, like we do, but their travel took some time...time God gave them either before or after the shofar blast, while also providing food for them on the way as each was allowed to eat the increase in the year, freely, without any property claims from another.

So going back to the mystery in Genesis about 120 years' 2nd meaning referring to Jubilee years... It was such a satisfying connection of dots for me, because when you add up 120 Jubilees you get 6,000 years -- which is the belief of many as to how many days this earth will receive before the LORD's day.  It makes perfect sense when we study the creation account.  Elohim made the earth in 6 days and rested the 7th, sanctifying the 7th day as His day.  When we adopt Scripture's prophetic "day as a thousand years" and apply it to the creation account, then we can turn the earth's 6 days into 6,000 with the 7th day/millennium being the LORD's day, a term used when referring to the return of the Lord into the millennial reign -- which we know clearly by Scripture that His reign on earth is a millennium.  When other would this be then on the 7th millennium, foreshadowed by the 7th day of each week that He established all the way back in the creation account?

So, having hit the things you probably have already been familiar with, I want to get into the Hebrew that further intrigues me about the mystery of the Jubilee.  Before doing so, we can first see that the Shemitah and Jubilee have quite a few similarities, with their difference is that the Jubilee is a year of return, whereas the Shemitah is not.  
"But in the seventh year there is to be a Shabbat rest for the land -- a Shabbat to Adonai.  You are not to sow your field or prune your vineyard.  You are not to reap what grows of itself during your harvest nor gather the grapes of your untended vine.  It is to be a year of Shabbat rest for the land.  Whatever the Shabbat of the land produces will be food for yourself, for your servant, for your maidservant, for your hired worker and for the outsider dwelling among you.  Even for your livestock and for the animals that are in your land -- all its increase will be enough food."  -- Leviticus 25:4-7
Can they eat of the land?  Yes they can!  However, there is a difference between going out and getting your daily food versus a full harvest and storing.  It is like the wilderness, when they got the manna daily, but did not store it, except for the 6th day.  There is a difference between picking off a few grapes versus separating the cluster from its vine.  So these were the rules with the Shemitah -- the land gets rest from sowing, pruning, and full harvesting, and the land is food for everyone.  
"You are to count off seven Shabbatot of years -- seven times seven years, so that the time of seven Shabbatot of years -- 49 years.  Then on the tenth day of the seventh month, on Yom Kippur you are to sound a shofar blast -- you are to sound the shofar all throughout your land.  You are to make the fiftieth year holy, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.  It is to be a Jubilee to you, when each of you is to return to his own property and each of you is to return to his family.  That fiftieth year will be your Jubilee.  You are not sow, or reap that which grows by itself, or gather from the untended vines.  Since it is a Jubilee, it is to be holy to you.  You will eat from its increase out of the field."  -- Leviticus 25:8-12
The Jubilee agricultural rules are no sowing nor full harvesting, and the land is food for everyone.  I did notice I did not see anything about no pruning.  I wonder if that is significant?  Adding to, the year of Jubilee is predominately a return to origination.  This return is Hebrew shuv, from which we get another word -- teshuvah.  This word is very significant when we are talking about Yeshua's return, as teshuvah is repentance.

That being said, many today believe that the Jubilee is when Yeshua will return for His bride.  I desire to share a few highlights from the Hebrew to see if we can validate or must reject this belief.  Going back to verse 9 -- 
"...you are to sound a shofar blast -- you are to sound the shofar all throughout your land."
Some translations actually say you are to sound the trumpet of the Jubilee.  The "trumpet" is Hebrew shofar and the "Jubilee" is Hebrew teruah, which means a shout or a battle cry.  Hence, the TLV translates it as a "shofar blast."  It says that the shofar blast is to be sounded, but actually the Hebrew word translated into "sound" is abar.  Abar is the root of the word Hebrew itself, and as we know of the word Hebrew, its meaning is "crossed over one."  Abar is to cross over or transition.  It really doesn't have anything to do with sound, but some of its meanings are not only to cross over or transition but to cover/atone (hence it is "sounded" on Yom Kippur, the day of atonement/covering), and also wrath (confirming another belief on the judgment of Yeshua coming on Yom Kippur).  So far, with a crossing over (which is what we, the Hebrew bride, will one day do) and atonement and wrath on a day that the trumpet will sound and freedom is proclaimed, along with a teshuvah (return), it definitely does sound like the beliefs of a Jubilee return of Yeshua is sitting right in Torah.  However, there are more regulations of the Jubilee year.  From verse 11 & 12 --
"That fiftieth year will be your Jubilee.  You are not to sow, or reap that which grows by itself, or gather from the untended vines.  Since it is a Jubilee, it is to be holy to you.  You will eat from its increase out of the field."
The word "sow" is Hebrew zara, meaning to conceive/become pregnant.  It immediately brings me to when Yeshua spoke of a time when it would be woe to those who would be pregnant or nursing (Matt 24:19, Mark 13:17, & Luke 21:23).  "Reap" is interesting because it does not only refer to the gathering of grapes, but Hebrew qatsar also means to grieve, annoy, discourage, or to be such as well as be impatient.  Now I think of all those references about perseverance as the time comes.  The year of the Lord's return is definitely not the time to quit or discourage one another.  When you are in a race, the last leg is when all stops thinking it is a competition and surprisingly all are encouraging of one another to make it.  Don't drop out at the last minute.

So far if we look deeper into meaning and application we can see that the Word is also telling us to not discourage nor grieve the one who grows by himself, nor be discouraged nor grieved as you are growing by yourself (as seems to be what many are doing, falling away from the modern church and getting out of a building).  "That which grows by itself" is the Hebrew cafiyach, to be self-sowing.  What a revelation of what the church would like towards the end.  I have talked to quite a few who believe Scripture tells us that there will be a day when the church as we know it will cease, and the Holy Spirit will be the teacher of men even in their own homes.

In moving forward, I was happiest to see what "untended vines" was originally in Hebrew.  The Hebrew original is naziyr, a separated and consecrated/chosen one (Nazarite), or untrimmed vine.  Untrimmed vine and Nazarite being the same thing brings a better understanding to the power of Samson being linked to his untrimmed hair.  Having been trimmed made him no longer a Nazarite.  This is perfect opportunity to bring up that the naziyr is the not the same word translated in Zechariah as "branch" when referring to Yeshua, but that word is tsemach, and naziyr is also different from the city Natzeret, which His dwelling therein (Matt 2:23) was why He was called a Natzrati.  We allow this confusion in easily comparing Yeshua to a Nazarite because 1) He is separated/set apart and consecrated as the chosen one, and 2) He is the true vine.  However, we must realize that considering what it means to be a Nazarite (again, not the same as being a Natzrati), Yeshua could not be one because in the very least He drank wine on the last Seder.  He also cannot be because although He is the true vine, He is not an untrimmed one.  In John 15:1-2, Yeshua tells us that He is the true vine and every branch in Him that does not bear fruit is cut off, letting us know that He is actually a well-trimmed vine.

So far I have seen confirmation of Jubilee-year return.  Except for this very thing, that the Jubilee cannot bring harvest, and Yeshua's return brings just the thing.  In fact, Yeshua's harvest is quite messy with blood, likened unto the threshing of grapes upon the floor and the stained color that brings -- is the grape harvest not a picture of what is described as Yeshua's return?  Yeshua waits until His return to separate the wheat and the tares, which is a harvest.  His return is many things that we see described of the Jubilee, but one thing it is that the Jubilee is not is a harvest.

After 50 Jubilees comes the completion 6,000 years.  After a full 6,000, which means a Jubilee just completed, is the beginning of the 7th.  So then maybe not a Jubilee return, but the Fall Holy Days after a Jubilee?  The mystery continues.  Until then, counting and sevens are not just for understanding times, but for foreshadows and real observance.  With that being said, happy "seventh".

Shabbat Shalom,

Natasha

*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.  Therefore, please cite properly.    

Friday, May 6, 2016

Kedoshim -- Set Apart Ones

Friends, we have a problem in today's religion, and that is the forsaking of set-apartness, holiness.  It is so forsaken that the majority scarcely even know what it means.  Holiness does not mean righteousness; it means set-apartness.  Set-apart from what, exactly?  Well, set-apart from the world.  It is an easy concept to understand when we consider this, that we are to purposely not do the things of the world.  However, through the years, religious groups have excused this act of mixing.  This was first done by Israel, which is documented in the Bible, and later into Christianity.  Both groups who claimed to be in relationship with the Set-Apart El.  There is a problem.

This parsha is what I consider the heart of Leviticus.  It is so properly named "Kedoshim," because it is talking about being set-apart ones.  Leviticus is not the book of sacrifices, but the book of set-apartness.  In fact, in the Jewish culture it is typically the first book young children learn to memorize because it gives us an idea of who God is and how to relate to Him.  Folks, we cannot have a relationship with the Creator if we don't know how to relate to Him.  So many see the book of Leviticus as a sacrificial system to come to the Father, and therefore brush right past the book because the New Testament gave us access to the Father without this system.  Friends, I read on Facebook a professed believer who goes around sharing the Gospel asking for interpretation on a passage in Leviticus, saying this was the first time she has read that book.  These things should not be!  Who then are we sharing when we share the Gospel, if we aren't familiar with the specific set-apartness the Creator claims to be and in result expects of us?  We may have access to the Father, but because of His character there are specific ways He expects for us to handle ourselves in relation to Him.  It is like a pastor I once heard who said that we likewise have access to electricity, but there is protocol in handling it.
"Now you are to keep all My statutes and all My ordinances and do them, so that the land where I am bringing you to dwell will not vomit you out.  You are not to walk in the ways of the nation which I am casting out before you, for they did all these things and therefore I abhorred them.  But I have said to you, 'You will inherit their land and I will give it to you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey.'  I am Adonai your God, who has set you apart from the peoples."  -- Leviticus 20:22-24 TLV
This passage comes at the end of this week's parsha.  I wanted to start with it because is it is a summary of what the parsha is about.  By this, we know that the laws and ordinances prior to, from the moment YHWH says they are to be kedoshim, make up the description of what it means to be kedoshim (set-apart ones), and that failure to be kedoshim will result in the land purging itself of them as it is doing of its [then] current inhabitants.  This tells us, then, that what Leviticus 19 & 20 says not to do the nations were doing, and what Leviticus 19 & 20 says to do the nations weren't doing.  Hence, in not doing what they were doing and in doing what they don't do, Israel was set-apart from them.
"Speak to the congregation of Bnei-Yisrael and tell them:  You shall be kedoshim, for I, Adonai your God, am holy.  Each one of you is to respect his mother and his father, and keep my Shabbatot.  I am Adonai your God."  -- Leviticus 19:2-3
As mentioned above, immediately after He says they are to be kedoshim, He begins explaining what this means.  The first thing YHWH mentions is respecting parents and keeping the Shabbat.  Now, the original Hebrew doesn't exactly have punctuation marks, so putting these 2 commands as one sentence does not make them directly related to one another.  However, the word "and" between the 2 commands is a Hebrew vav (the text literally says "and the Shabbat guard").  The vav is a nail, and nails connect things together, which makes it translates into "and" -- it connects 2 points.  In this case, it is connecting the respect of parents to the keeping of Shabbat.  They are related.  

I was very intrigued to see this and then went on to study more of the Hebrew.  The word translated into "respect" is the Hebrew yare.  It means to frighten, but it also means to shoot.  The Bible tells us the children are like arrows, and blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.  How do you respect your parents?  By letting them shoot you like an arrow.  They are to send you off, but being sent off comes with a goal.  Yare is quite similar to another Hebrew word.  That word is yara (or yarah), which is the root of the word Torah.  Torah does not entirely mean Law, but the definition goes much deeper than that.  Yarah means to shoot or aim, and the Torah is the direction of that shot.  Children are to be the arrow of their parents, and parents aim that child in the direction of Torah.

That being said, Torah has a goal.  I'm an archer, and I never take a shot without looking at my target.  Therefore, Torah has a goal.  We don't just claim children are to be respectful, yet we don't aim them at a specific target as they respect us.  Respecting parents means submitting to their shot of you as an arrow, but that shot has to have a specific goal.  In this case, parents have a huge responsibility in their children respecting them.  It is like our current rabbi's wife had said to me, you honor parents as they honor the Lord.  Their honor of the Lord, which is the goal of their shot of you as an arrow (your submission as an arrow is your respect unto them), is the Shabbat.  The Shabbat is the sign of the Covenant.  In proper training up of a child, the goal of the child's respect unto the parents is the parent's aim of the child into Covenant.  However, to take this concept to our spiritual Father, the goal even of us as YHWH's children is Shabbat...to rest.  The goal of walking Torah as a whole is to rest.  The writer of Hebrews (chapter 4) in fact tells us let us continue to labor in good works (walk Torah) because we have not yet entered our rest.  Torah will lead to rest.
"You must keep My statutes.  You are not to crossbreed different kinds of animals.  You are not to sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor are you to wear a garment woven of two kinds of material."  -- Leviticus 19:19
We certainly have advanced in today's science of crossbreeding animals of different sorts and humans with animals, etc.  It may be a surprise for some to realize, by mention of it here in the text, that this was being done even as early as this time frame in Leviticus.  Actually, there are some who really believe that Greek gods are not mythical, but were results of mixing.  Then of course there is also the study of the mixing involved that made up the Nephilim.  Mixing is not new science, but returned from times of past.  It is like we have gone back to the days of Noah.

Also in this verse is the prohibition of wearing a garment with 2 different sorts of material.  If this be the case, then we are failing that shot.  I'm interested in feedback on this passage.  I have researched into it myself and see that Strong's 8162 (mixed garment) is of foreign derivation.  The word or item the word describes is not original to Hebrew.  Many lexicons believe that it is a specific garment that was a mixture of wool and linen, linsey woolsey.  If this be the case, then we can understand it better.  When we read of linen, we see that it is used in holy articles.  Wool, on the other hand, was used in abundance.  We are talking about a group of herders -- there were plenty of sheep.  The wool was used often because of the abundance of it.  Wool was therefore commonly used, whereas linen was for holy use.  So to forbid the mixing of wool and linen is to forbid the mixing of the common with the set-apart...which is what this parsha, and actually all of Leviticus, more so the whole Bible, is all about.
"You are not to eat any meat with the blood still in it, nor are you to use enchantments, or practice sorcery."  -- Leviticus 19:26
Before I get into this, I want to point out another passage that is in the New Testament.  "Therefore, I judge not to trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God -- but to write to them to abstain from the contamination of idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what is strangled, and from blood." (Acts 15:19-20).  So many read this and say that these 4 things are the only Torah requirements that a Gentile has to keep.  What many have failed to research is that during this time of Gentiles being added into the community, Christian churches didn't exist.  There were synagogues (wherein they taught Torah) and pagan temples -- that's it.  So these people went from pagan practices to Torah.  They were overwhelmed.  The apostles had decided to start them off with the things they would have to immediately let go of, because those were things they were doing in their pagan temples.  In their (Gentiles) worship they had idols, they had orgies, they strangled their animals and drank their blood.  They did many other things, but these 4 were a part of the worship in pagan temples and it was a start.  They would cross the other bridges as they got there, but surely the goal was that eventually they would be totally transformed out of their paganism and conformed into all of Torah.  This was their baby step, and had to be first because they could not enter the synagogues and temple with such practices -- that would be defiling the temple!  They wanted to enter the synagogues to learn, but the order was that they had to set aside their worship defilements first.  That being said, the command in Torah is easier to understand.  Eating blood was mingled with sorcery and enchantments.  It was a barbaric, pagan practice.

That is the point we must rest upon.  We cannot take the world's practices and bring them into the temple without defiling the temple.  It should be detestable to us to see a congregation claim set-apartness while having pagan decorations and practices within.  
"Also you are to make a distinction between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean.  And you are not to make your souls detestable by an animal or by a bird, or by anything with which the ground teems, which I have set apart as unclean for you."  -- Leviticus 20:25
This is regarding food, and yet goes to show that we cannot manipulate YHWH to make something clean and accept it because we do it or eat it.  We do not choose what is clean or unclean, but He does.  Eating something unclean and asking Adonai to bless it does not make it blessed, but it does make your soul detestable.  This parsha was ended with food, before the Lord said, "You are to be holy to Me, for I, Adonai, am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, so that you would be Mine." (Leviticus 20:26).

This food command is the final before He seals it with the bookend, the beginning bookend being "Be kedoshim," and the final one being "be holy."  Why is food so important that the Lord would end it on this note?  First of all, first sin was dietary.  YHWH cared about food all the way back in the Garden.  Food is something we need to fuel our bodies.  It is something we are often thinking about, and it is easy for our tongues and stomachs to become an idol because we put so much attention to them with food.  It is so much of an idol that people will defend the eating of abominable things, and claim that those who don't and are the food-conscious ones are the ones treating food as an idol.  A true test of whether something is an idol or not is your willingness to give it up.  Considering the one excusing the eating of abominable things is doing so to prevent giving it up, they are unwilling to give it up, they have exposed their idolatry though their mouths deny it.  We are lying to ourselves that we are giving up our lives to the Lord, but we cannot even give up ham for Him.

Why is it important?  The Lord says, as He ends it, that the soul is made detestable by unclean foods.  How can anyone know set-apartness when their soul has been made detestable?  How can we uphold each other to holiness over our bacon and eggs?  It's like parenting advice from someone who neglects their children.  We cannot move forward in growing in set-apartness if we cannot even get passed the first fall.  The detestable soul cannot properly discern holiness.  The Gentiles in Acts 15 had to start somewhere because of what was going in their time.  In today's world, it seems our start is kosher eating and the Shabbat, which so happens to be what made up the beginning and end of this parsha's commands.  Eat kosher and keep the Shabbat.  We've got to start somewhere and if we haven't even started in these, then perhaps it is time to test if we truly be His arrows.

Set-apartness is the heart of Leviticus.  If everything is set-apart, then nothing is set-apart.  He set Himself apart and us apart.  We ought to do so the same.

Shabbat Shalom,

Natasha

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