Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mishpatim -- First Marriage, Then...

Isn't it interesting that as soon as God gives the Ten Words that He immediately goes into laws of slavery?!  

The Ten Words were as a ketubah.  In Hebrew, this refers to a marriage covenant, where the husband writes his name and offer of marriage, vows of the covenant, for the bride to accept.  God offered the ketubah (Ten Words), Israel accepted, so then the Lord continues on with an 'okay then, let's get started on this married life," -- and Friend, that life includes servanthood.  It is as if God is trying to make it perfectly clear that this is what it means to be committed and in a covenant -- it means to be a servant.  Naturally, our sinful instinct is self-serving and refusal to be under any authority, especially to be a slave.  Yet, God is bringing this up immediately because these people just came out of slavery, and He needs to show them that slavery will still exists howbeit to Him it is moral and full of care.

Going back to the ketubah...When we look at the Ten Words as the ketubah that it is, all of a sudden it makes sense that being because Israel was put away, Yeshua's came "for the lost sheep of Israel", and by His death He freed her for remarriage.  As we often like to quote Paul, death frees us from the bond of marriage; however, that is not the only way to be free of marriage, yet is was the only way for Israel.  Messiah said to the Torah-keepers (which is separate from those who entered their marriages in rebellion to God) that remarriage while the spouses are living is only for the victim for adultery.  The adulteress herself is bonded to the covenant, even though she be divorced.  Israel was a divorced wife because of her adultery.  Imagine the Good News that there is a way for her to remarry the First Love of her youth, to reenter that Covenant, because the death of her Husband freed her from her curse of adultery in her first covenant.  

Why would anyone want to leave such a covenant though?  It is for our peace and for longevity of life that He gave us those Laws.  I venture to say it all starts with the opposition to exactly how God started His marriage -- it is the opposition to slavery.  It is the opposition to being submissive, subjected.  Man wants to be a slave to no one but his own desires.  Therefore, man wants to be his own god, make his own rules, lord his own body.  I see one of the biggest results of this today is our current-day holocaust of abortion-on-demand.  

I did not intend to make this a post about abortion, yet it would appear that is what the Lord would have, because after marriage comes children.  Yes, the Lord initially brings up slavery, because marriage is a servanthood, but marriage also includes beautiful gifts.  The Lord offered the ketubah at the end of the last parsha, Israel accepted, and now she should be fruitful and multiply.
"If men fight, and hit a pregnant woman so that her child is born early, yet no harm follows, the one who hit her is to be strictly fined, according to what the woman's husband demands of him.  He must pay as the judges determine.  But if any harm follows, then you are to penalize life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, blow for blow."  -- Exodus 21:22-25 TLV
We hear a lot of usage on the part of that passage "eye for eye, tooth for tooth"... Yet it was years after I became familiar with those words that I realized it was referring to the preborn baby being harmed to come out early than the time required for him/her to grow.  Now we know that when Yeshua returns He will thresh this floor and there will be bloodshed, like pressing the grapes for Sukkot.  Do you ever think upon why He would thresh the floor?  The Lord is a just God and will repay for the lives taken, the innocent and premature blood shed.

This time last week I was involved in debates on whether or not believers should have an active part in the fight to abolish human abortion.  I listened to some that believed that it was a calling, therefore it is not the job of all, and then I listened to some who were very firm believers that it is the job of all.  I want to bring up his point mainly because the parsha mentions how he sees the preborn doomed for abortion:
"You must not mistreat any widow or orphan.  If you mistreat them in any way, and they cry out to Me, I will surely hear their cry.  My wrath will burn hot, and I will kill you with the sword.  So your wives will become widows and your children will become orphans."  -- Exodus 22:21-23 
The young man said that these abortion-bound babies are orphans because their parents have abandoned them.  Until the moment they are murdered, they are orphaned.  After that, they are simply murdered, sacrificed children to the god of pleasure and self.  If that is indeed how God sees those little beings as their hearts as still beating, blood running through their fragile bodies as they are being dragged to their death unawares, then Beloved, we all in His Covenant have a duty to these orphans.  In fact, James would say that visiting them in their affliction is a part of pure religion (James 1:27)!  God's heart is ever towards to orphaned and widowed, because He is a Father and He is a Husband.  We are indeed robbing God of those He could Father and those He could wed.  Mark again, that this parsha and the last surrounded His roles as Father and Husband -- our religious duties are to include those who need a father and need a husband.  It is indeed then all of our callings.

We mentioned the threshing of the floor for Sukkot, and I think also of the above verse where the Lord said the mistreatment of any widow or orphan would cause His wrath to burn and He would consume with the sword.  Once again, think about what we can expect when Yeshua returns, and quite a big reason of why we can expect Him to do as He will do at that time.  

The Lord also mentioned in the above verse that if the widow or orphan cry to Him then He will surely hear their cry.  I want to end this week's parsha telling you a story about the baby I said I was mourning in December...

A woman I knew from a family member found herself in an unwanted pregnancy.  She contacted me and told me in tears of her pregnancy.  She was turning her life around and so since she already was familiar with some of the Word of God I made quick mention of the sin of fornication but just as quickly started talking to her about her thoughts towards the baby.  I offered to help her in her pregnancy and go to all her appointments with her, help her find a home for her baby.  My husband and I would have even privately adopted the baby if it came to it.  I urged her that in her history of her children paying for her mistakes, she has an opportunity to do things differently and to not let this baby pay for the sexual immorality mistake that she had made.  She got off the phone comforted and believed all would be okay.  It was maybe 2 weeks later my husband got up in the middle of the night in tears.  He was given a dream with a baby who he said he knew wasn't ours but somehow God had bonded him to us.  He witnessed the being harmed.  He tried to save him but it was too late.  He saw the baby laying on the floor, dead.  Then he heard the name "Samuel" and he woke up.  He knew the dream was from the Lord and the baby was someone we must have known.  It was that very morning I found out the woman killed her son.  I mourned him because it wasn't hard to do so, and because I felt God wanted us to because He involved us.  He told us of mistreatment of that little life.  He wouldn't have otherwise been honored, been remembered, been validated as a human being.  I know God heard him not only because He gave a dream, but because in that dream God named the baby.  He named him "Samuel" -- "El hears." 
"You must not mistreat any widow or orphan.  If you mistreat them in any way, and they cry out to Me, I will surely hear their cry." 



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Friday, January 22, 2016

Beshalach -- The Beginning of a Walk

A dear friend of mine and I used to joke around that when we signed up for heaven we had no idea what that meant.  That was just it – we signed up for heaven, but what happened instead was that God changed our desires to want Him. I realized in the transition that these are different things.   I meet folks all the time that signed for heaven once upon a sinner's prayer, but not all of them signed up for Yeshua.  These are the folks I met who signed up to be married to God, whose goal isn't heaven, but gaining Yeshua; therefore, whose heaven is not a place, but is in fact Yeshua.

How often we have heard that “salvation” is just the beginning.  Actually, it was Rabbi Eric who first pointed out to me that every time Scripture uses the word salvation it is referring to the end result, so then since none of us alive are there right now it is best said that we are redeemed and/or delivered.  Having this understanding, we can see how not everyone delivered from Egypt made it into the “rest” – which was the end result of the promised land.  For the remainder of the post, I will refer to deliverance/redemption as what we often term as “getting saved” and refer to salvation as the end result when.  Continuing on... Not everyone who was delivered from the house of bondage made it to the end result because of (as the book of Hebrews points out to us) their lack of faith, which manifested in their lack of obedience over and over again. There is a reason the writer of Hebrews uses the Egypt-exodus and the wilderness wanderings to Canaan as example of life's walk from deliverance to rest.   It was a problem then that people believed that deliverance was instantaneous salvation, and it is a problem now.
“When Pharaoh drew near, Bnei-Yisrael lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them! So they were terrified, and Bnei-Yisrael cried out to Adonai. They said to Moses, “Have you taken us away to die in the wilderness because there were no graves in Egypt? Why have you dealt this way with us, to bring us out of Egypt?” – Exodus 14:10-11 TLV

One of the problems with thinking that deliverance and salvation is one, that when a person has been redeemed (“gets saved” is the term most often used) is the end result is that when problems arise people start questioning God and start looking back.  Sometimes we witness people turning back to Egypt.  We read lots of Israelites did just that in their hearts, when they talked of how much they missed the things of Egypt and how it would have been better for them to remain in Egypt.  Little did they know that God “saving”/delivering them from Egypt was just the beginning.  See what He says in response:
“Then Adonai said to Moses, “Why are you crying to Me? Tell Bnei-Yisrael to go forward.” – Exodus 14:15

Deliverance/Redemption is just the beginning.  God says there is a walk that needs to be done, so walk forward!  They weren't walking forward.  This is what happens when we sign up for something (a place) rather than someone (God), sign up for heaven rather than sign up for Yeshua: we don't walk.  We don't walk because to us it is done at the moment of the sinner's prayer, we have been sealed in our goal of heaven and that is that.  Do we see how damaging this is to someone's life?  If Bnei-Yisreal acted like this and refused to walk forward, then their enemies would catch up with them and re-enslave them.  This is OFTEN what happens to the groups who sign up for heaven rather than Yeshua and believe that salvation is sealed and instant upon asking Jesus into my heart rather than recognizing salvation is the end result of those who have done such a thing and walked out their faith.  Failure to see how important the walk is, and therefore having the motivation to walk, often finds us right back to being enslaved to the very thing that God delivered us from, and yet we think our place in His rest is signed and sealed?!  That was not the case with the 1st generation post-Exodus Israel.   Clearly we can see that we are misunderstanding salvation, and redemption/deliverance is only the beginning.

From this point on until they reach the land, we can really gain wisdom on how to walk.  Notice how God uses the time in the wilderness (outside of the 38 years extra that was needed to raise up the new generation because of lack of faith and rebellion) to have Israel build a relationship with Him, which is not possible without the set-apartness that equates itself with being identical to His character -- married to the Lord, twain one flesh.  How painful it must be for the Lord to see His laws of holiness rejected or denied with the changing times.  I venture to say that when we are denying any part of the Lord still exists we have joined the camp of atheists.  Yet, at the very beginning of that walk the Lord had to establish something with Israel.  We learn what that is from this Red Sea crossing.
"Lift up your staff, stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it.  Then Bnei-Yisrael will go into the midst of the sea on dry ground."  -- Exodus 14:16
But Bnei-Yisrael had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were like walls to them on their right hand and on their left.  -- Exodus 14:19
God brought them through the Red Sea because they would lose heart to go the way of the Philistines (Exodus 13:17); moreover, many things were set here going the route of the Red Sea.  Of course there is the immersion that needed to be accomplished and was so by going through the Sea.  However, I am compiling together other Biblical meanings for the sea:
Oy!  The uproar of many peoples who roar like the roaring of the seas.  The rumbling of nations, who rush in like the rumbling of mighty waters!  -- Isaiah 17:12
...who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the tumult of the peoples.  -- Psalm 65:8
In those cases, the sea was paralleled to the nations.  Also take into consideration the Hebrew letter mem, which is symbolic for a womb.  Mem has 2 forms -- open and closed.  We see the closed form means closed water/no chaos, and the open form means open water/chaos -- like when a woman's water breaks and she goes into labor.  It is chaos.  It is not hard to see the connection between chaos and the nations, yet the Hebrew helps us to connect water and chaos, which in turn connects the seas with the nations.

Israel walked through that sea untouched by it.  There is a walk indeed, and the first thing to establish about this walk is that you are to walk in the midst of the nations howbeit untouched by them -- a very narrow, straight way in comparison to the vastness of the sea and the many other areas/ways to cross it.
"Then I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they will go in after them, so that I will be glorified over Pharaoh and all of his army, his chariots and his horsemen.  Then the Egyptians will know that I am Adonai, when I have been glorified over Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen."  -- Exodus 14:17-18
So if every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, does this mean that all will be saved?  Well, by looking back into history we see the Pharaoh is about to know that the Lord is Lord -- did this mean that he was saved?  So then why the purpose of Egypt coming after them?  If we let the Bible speak for itself we see that Egypt plays a big part in the salvation of the people (Exodus 14:13) and seeing the glory of God.  Moving forward in Biblical prophecy we see that applies even in salvation and the glory of God we await in the End Times -- saving of His people from His/their enemies and judgment upon those enemies is what we await due to what the Bible says is in store!
Then Adonai said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the waters come back upon the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen."  So Moses stretched his hand out over the waters, and the sea returned to its strength at the break of dawn.  The Egyptians were fleeing from it, but Adonai overthrew them in the midst of the sea.  The waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen and the entire army of Pharaoh that went after them into the sea.  Not one of them remained.  -- Exodus 14:26-28
I love how after this happens Miriam leads the people in this new song.  It reminds me of the new song we will be singing according to Revelation 14:3.  What rejoicing we will have when the chaos of the nations comes collapsing upon itself and upon its leaders.  It's like when God didn't wipe out the inhabitants of Canaan all at once that way the beasts wouldn't consume Israel -- in a way, though He would ultimately destroy them by Israel's hand, He was letting the nations destroy each other.  The wicked have a way of destroying each other and leading each other astray to their own destruction.  Of course God will take care of the wicked, yet it is reaping and sowing perfected when we see the wicked have gotten caught in their own nets.
But He [Yeshua] replied, "Every plant that My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.  Leave them alone; they are blind guides of the blind.  And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit."  -- Matthew 15:13-14
To close, it seems Israel had a love/hate relationship with Egypt.  It was a love for the material things, but a hate for the people's affliction upon them.  This Egyptian materialistic mentality followed them into the wilderness and God continuously is trying to train them to be rid of such a mindset.  I suppose this exists even today.  I am embarrassed at how many years I have entertained conversations about mansions and every other prime materialistic desire that would meet me at my "crossing over" into eternity.  Rather, when we read of Israel's crossing over, it was God that they met.  If you want a material, I suppose the life of a believer would not be enough for you to continue faithfully, as materials never are enough, not even gold mansions...but if God is your goal, you will walk forward just to see Him, be one with Him, echad, twain one flesh.



*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.    

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Bo: Hebraic Cycle of a Great Deliverance

So suiting that this week's parsha is entitled "Bo," which means comes or go, as the parsha ends with the great deliverance of Israel from Egypt.  We can mirror this to the Great Deliverance we are still awaiting, the return of Yeshua, the event in which we join with John (Rev 22:20) and say, "Bo, Yeshua, Bo."

I found myself in Revelation equally as much as in Exodus this week.  This parsha cycle of Bo, one plague stuck out to me, that of the locusts.  It brought my remembrance to the locusts in Revelation.  Was there a similarity of locusts in Exodus and Revelation?  It was almost a stretch to say so, they appear to be complete opposites.  The ones in Exodus are given authority to eat the plants (Hebrew says this is referring to a green thing, can be plants, but also can be grass), yet the ones in Revelation are not to harm any green thing nor grass.  However, while I was in Revelation I figured might as well reread some things.

One thing I noticed is the use of the word "Lamb."  Now, Yeshua is called many things throughout Scripture, but one thing that Rabbi Eric taught me was that His titles mean something so pay attention the title that is used in what application or scenario.  It really does help in context and connecting dots, connecting Torah with the NT.  So when I am seeing all over Revelation reference to the sacrificed Lamb (5:6, 5:13, 7:9, 7:17, etc.), I'm brought to connect Revelation with the parsha we are in, because it contains the first Passover, where we have the sacrificed Lamb.  Connecting the two (Revelation and with the events surrounding the exodus of Egypt), I looked for other likenesses.
And the stars of the shamayim fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its unripe figs, being shaken by a strong wind.  -- Revelation 6:13 Halleluyah Scriptures
And the third messenger sounded, and a great star feel from the shamayim...  -- Revelation 8:10 
And the fourth messenger sounded, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them darkened.  -- Revelation 8:12
And the fifth messenger sounded, and I saw a star from the shamayim which had fallen to the earth.  -- Revelation 9:1
This was especially interesting to see these hosts of heaven falling and failing because Egypt worshiped many gods, and the worship they had was connected to the types of plagues that God brought upon them.  When God chose those certain plagues it was like He was destroying their gods and causing their gods to be a snare to them.  Many religions of our world, tied back to Egypt and beyond, are rooted in worshiping the hosts of heaven.  In Revelation, here He is casting them down, like when He cast down the gods of Egypt.
These [the two witnesses] posses authority to shut the shamayim, so that no rain falls in the days of the nebuah.  And they possess authority over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they want.  -- Revelation 11:6
...and their dead bodies lie in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sedom and Mistrayim, where also our Adon was impaled.  -- Revelation 11:8
Okay, so here we have witnesses that are given authority to turn water to blood and to cause plagues, and a location mentioned (of where their dead bodies are lain), spiritually, of Egypt/Mistrayim?  You definitely don't have to try to connect the exodus of Egypt with Revelation, you just merely have to have open eyes to see it.  So then where are the plagues?  Well, since the plagues are judgment, let's look into the bowls/wrath of God.
And the first went and poured his bowl upon the earth, and an evil and wicked sore came upon the men, those having the mark of the beast and those worshipping his image.  -- Revelation 16:2
And YHWH said to Mosheh and Aharon, "Fill your hands with ashes from a furnace and let Mosheh scatter it toward the shamayim before the eyes of Pharaoh.  And it shall become fine dust in all the land of Mitsrayim, and it shall cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast in all the land of Mitsrayim."  -- Exodus 9:8-9
Sores in Exodus, sores in Revelation.  Another neat thing I saw in the Hebrew, the term used to say "fill your hands" is referring to a hollow of the hand, like making a bowl -- Moses is making his hand like a bowl to pour out this plague, and these wraths of Revelation happen to be poured out from bowls! 
And the second messenger poured out his bowl on the sea, and it became as blood.  And the third messenger poured out his bowl on the rivers and foundations of water, and they became blood ...  "Because they have shed the blood of the qedoshim and nebi'im, and You have given them blood to drink for they deserve it."  -- Revelation 16:3-4, 6
This is the like water turned to blood in Egypt.  In this year through the Torah I realized how suiting it was to turn the Nile into blood.  See, in the end of Exodus 1, we read that Pharaoh was killing the Hebrew male babies by throwing them into the river.  That river was bloodstained with babies' blood, and the plague of blood was what they deserved.  Hence, we read verse 6 above, that they deserve this wrath of blood for the blood that they shed.
And the fourth messenger poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was given to him to burn men with fire.  -- Revelation 16:8 
I would like some opinions on this.  I have yet to go to another's teaching on what I am blogging here and what I have come to terms with so far this week, yet on my own I cannot seem to really find a connection with this sun-plague with any specific plague in Egypt, other than sun-god worship and the people's own god destroying them (which is what happens over and over to Egypt in Exodus).  I was also considering the pestilence, mainly because God said it was to destroy the livestock that were in the field -- that is, uncovered, exposed to the sun.  Hmm...
And the fifth messenger poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his reign became darkened.  -- Revelation 16:10 
The plague of darkness, a darkness that can be felt (Exodus 10:21-23).
And the sixth messenger poured out his bowl on the great river Perath, and its water was dried up, in order to prepare the way of the sovereigns from the east.  And I saw out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits, as frogs...  -- Revelation 16:12-13
Frogs?!  Yes, frogs were even there.  I had also wondered about the sovereigns from the east being like the locusts of Exodus, because 1) sovereigns are coming from the east, and the east wind was what brought in the locusts; 2) God used the term locusts to refer to another kingdom coming in and sweeping the place out in Joel chapter one.  Two Exodus plagues sitting in that one.
And the seventh messenger poured out his bowl into the air...And great hail from the shamayim fell upon men.  -- Revelation 16:17 & 21
Hail was one of the Exodus plagues as well (Exodus 9:13-35).

Death was not a hard one to link, because the Lord Himself will thresh the floor when He returns (sort of like the threshing of the grapes that happen in the Fall harvest -- linking this a specific season and God's appointed times).  I was pondering the swarms of flies because I hadn't seen anything like them in these bowls of wrath.  Not initially, anyway.

We must go back to the Hebrew to study this plague.  The word used for flies does not actually mean flies.  Actually you may have noticed that flies is italicized, which means it does not exist in the original text.  The word that exists is swarms, translated from arob (#6157).  When we look this word up it says that it can also be a mosquito and that the word comes from #6148 arab, which means to intermix.  Flies like to do that, intermix in your social gatherings and contaminate your food.  I then notice the following chapters in Revelation, chapters 17 & 18, is talking about the great whore of Babylon and the people's MIXING with her.  When we read these chapters we see there is a great cry to STOP mixing with her and to come out of her.  She is the plague of mixing, the swarm plague.  I found it also interesting that she drinks the blood of the kedoshim, and this word arob in the Exodus plague can also refer to a mosquito... Mosquitos drink blood.  Another interesting fact was that this is the first plague in Exodus where God said He will make a distinction between His people Israel and Egypt.  Therefore, linking the plague itself to His desire for distinction of His people and not to intermix.  This is repeated and manifested in Revelation 17 & 18.

God delivered Israel from Egypt, but I also think of the 40 years it took to get Egypt out of Israel.  Once upon a time the church intermixed with Roman and Greek pagan gods and it has taken up until this very day to get them out of the Body.  The Lord tells us to not do so, to be distinct, to come out of her.  This has been His heart's cry since the Flood, and man has not taken Him seriously still intermixing to this day all the way to Revelation.  Ultimately He has to be the one to destroy "her" so that there is no more "her" to intermix with -- that is how much we have failed at this command.  That should convict us when we desire to intermix with the world's worship, and also remind us on how serious He is about not intermixing His ways with the world's, and how much it greatly pains and angers Him, and how long His pain and anger endures.  Can we be a people solely after God's own heart?



*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.    

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Va'Era -- His Appearance and His Wonders

This week's parsha starts with how the Lord appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and contains most of the wonders He performed in delivering Israel.  It is actually this exact example that I often use in the 'rapture' argument.  Years ago I wrote a blog post with the differing rapture beliefs and some verses in Scripture wherein I could see why each group held their view.  At the time I was trying to be open-minded to a certain group and almost immediately after I wrote that I realized that the patterns in Scripture just simply do not support that group's stance.

The parsha starts off with the Lord's appearance to the patriarchs, and so that is where I want to start:  the Lord's appearance.  When discussing the Lord's glorious appearance that we are anticipating, we must listen to His own words.  "As the days of Noah" the end times will be.  When we go back to the days of Noah we want to relate what is happening then to what is happening now:  sexual immorality, abominable and forbidden mixing, etc.  We even connect the earth being judged then with the upcoming appearance of the Lord and that future judgment, such judgment we believe we will be 'passed over' regarding and even be removed from.  Yet, one thing we often bypass is the manner of deliverance of that time, in the face of judgment, especially since the glorious appearance of the Lord is definitely accompanied with a great deliverance in itself and also comes with judgment.  I mean, isn't that the reason we hold to a 'rapture', because we believe we are to receive a great deliverance and the rapture is it?  

Holding true to "as the days of Noah" we come to the understanding that God chose to keep Noah and his family save via an ark, not removal.  When I fast forward to this week's parsha with all the wonders/judgments that lead up to being 'passed over' from judgment, I notice that God performed all of these judgments and wonders upon Egypt while Israel was still there.  Indeed, even Messiah said, "I am not asking that You take them out of the world, but that You keep them from the evil one," (John 17:15 TLV); and then again that we should expect tribulation (John 16:33).

Continuing on with the Messiah's own words about the time leading to His appearance, many use Matthew 24:25-28 to validate a rapture belief, since the Yeshua said that in the case of two being in those places, one would be taken and the other left.  So then, if one is taken he is taken to be with the Lord, right?  I want to consider Luke's account of this same dialogue, namely because its shows a very important question the disciples ask that Matthew did not record:
"I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed.  One will be taken along and the other left.  There will be two women grinding at the same place.  One will be taken and the other left."  "Where, Lord?" they replied.  And He said to them, "Where there is a corpse, there also will the vultures be gathered."  -- Luke 17:34-37 TLV
I heard a commentary saying that the corpse is Messiah's body and the vultures are His people.  Seriously.  What an absolute stretch to make a point.  If you read this week's haftarah portion, then you would have gotten a different picture about corpses and vultures:
"I will leave you in the desert -- you and all the fish of your streams.  You will fall on the open field.  You will not be gathered or picked up.  I will give you as food for the beasts of the earth and the birds of the sky."  -- Ezekiel 29:5 TLV
Or even reading from Revelation, another picture of corpses and vultures:
Then I saw a single angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he cried out to all the birds flying high in the sky, "Come, gather for the great banquet of God -- to eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of generals and the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and those riding on them, the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great!"  -- Revelation 19:17-18 TLV
Clearly, we see that we do not want to be of this group that is taken away.  The disciples ask "where" are they taken, and the Messiah answers that where the vultures have gathered, that is where they are taken...because the vultures are feasting on them.  So then the group you want to be a part of at His glorious appearance is the group that remains.  It is like a beloved rabbi once pointed out to me, "Remnant means to remain."  The Word of God remains, and I want to remain with it!

Other than the Lord's appearance, we are mostly reading about the wonders, such wonders that are judgments upon Egypt.  It is very interesting to see the many connections people make with the wonders, most especially to study how each wonder tied to the worship system of Egypt so that their 'gods' were actually the very things that were a snare to them.  It is often like that.  We read in the Bible that the very creation, overall humankind, that God loved caused him so much pain in not loving Him, so then the very things that humankind loves rather than Him likewise cause them pain.

One specific wonder stuck out to me --
So Adonai said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, and it will become gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.'"  So they did.  Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, there were gnats on men and animals.  All the dust of the earth became gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.  -- Exodus 8:12-13 TLV
First of all, I know that some translations say lice.  This tells us that there is room for various interpretations and so that just begs us to look up the original word.  However, that is not why I was drawn to this wonder.  It stuck out to me for several reasons.  

The first of which was the wording "dust of the earth."  That term reminded me of the Abrahamic Covenant back in Genesis 13 when God says that his descendants would be as the dust of the earth.  I know you are may be thinking that is a far stretch to compare gnats or lice to the descendants of Abraham!  Yet, let us please look at the original word used for gnats or lice in this wonder -- ken (#3654).  The word refers to a fastening and a stinging.  What is something that fastens and stings man and animal?  Some things feed of animals but not humans and vice versa.  The translators just did the best they could with the hints they had available.

However, when you continue in the Strong's definition for ken, you see that ken comes from kanan (#3661).  This word refers to a vineyard.  Then it clicks...a vineyard does fasten onto things with its little tendrils, but what I also realized is that yes, indeed, this wonder is symbolic for Israel (as per the Abrahamic Covenant, the dust of the earth) because vineyard is symbolic for Israel.

So let's back up in the story and see that this dust of the earth becomes what it does and what it becomes overcomes and judges man and beasts.  Halleluyah, one day Israel will become mighty over man and beasts of the earth and this is the wonder of God!  God uses this wonder to judge Egypt.  So then will Israel judge the nations?  I wonder if Paul/Rabbi Sha'ul understood this from the wonders in Egypt when he said, "Don't you know the kedoshim will judge the world?  And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to judge trivial matters?" (I Corinthians 6:2).

The other thing I noticed was that this is the first wonder that the magicians could not duplicate and replace with their own arts.  This sets apart this wonder and makes it unique.  In fact, in the very next verse, they say, "This is the finger of God."  Israel is the finger of God, unique and not able to be replaced.  

Moreover, beloved Reader, connecting God's people to this wonder we learn that His biggest wonder is actually Israel....that means YOU, if you are grafted in.



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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Sh'mot -- What is in a Name?

I'm not turning Shakespeare on you, don't worry.  I just couldn't help myself.  Parsha Sh'mot starts out with the names of the children of Israel who came into Egypt.  It starts with a list of names but also hidden within the parsha is one very important name that we strive to understand and know.

First, I want to get on the patterns.  I've been on this pattern-kick ever since I watched a teaching on how Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dream -- the interpretation was hidden in the pattern of Joseph's life reversing all the way to his parents.  That teaching has opened my eyes to see patterns in my own life.  Most especially, it has opened my eyes to be more sensitive to the patterns in the Bible.  One certain teacher I know of actually says that the Bible is a repetitive pattern of the first 6 chapters of Genesis.  It is in understanding these patterns that we see certain lives are examples of the Messiah, or tell a prophecy of the Messiah.  The patterns continue to us, and hopefully we are found in the pattern true of Messiah as the example of Him and reflection of the eternal Word.

Sh'mot starts a block of events that we use to pattern truths of our entire spiritual walk from deliverance to eternity.  How many of us use Egypt as a metaphor of our past lives and bondage to sin, use the deliverance as example of our redemption from "Egypt", use the wilderness as an example of our sanctification, and use Canaan as the example of our rest?  Even the writer of Hebrews does this in Hebrews three and four.  
Yet, Bnei-Yisrael were fruitful, and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew extremely numerous -- so the land was filled with them.  Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.  He said to his people, "Look, the people of Bnei-Yisrael are too numerous and too powerful for us.  Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or else they will grow even more numerous, so that if war breaks out, they may join our enemies, fight against us, and then escape from the land."  -- Exodus 1:7-10 TLV
Before we go to the pattern, let us evaluate that this generation of Israel are the first ones to hear the written account of the Torah, with the first part of the written account as the Creation and the garden of Eden in the beginning of Genesis.  It is in the story of the garden that we hear these words that are all too familiar for Israel in this point of their lives:  1) In the Garden, God intends Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply -- In Egypt, Israel is fruitful and multiplied; 2) In the Garden, there was a serpent who dealt shrewdly with them -- In Egypt, there is a Pharaoh who deals shrewdly with them.  As we continue through this pattern we can see that: 3) Following the Pharaoh led Israel into hard labor, just as following the serpent led Adam to labor by the sweat of his brow over the land; and 4) The serpent's guidance also meant that women were pained in their childbirth.  Likewise, the Pharaoh's command to have children killed upon delivery meant women in Egypt were pained in their childbirth.  Already Israel is connecting with the history God is relaying to them.

There are a few other patterns in this parsha, repeats of Genesis.  Then there's the pattern of the ark and flood (Noah) repeated as Moses is placed into a basket and put in the reeds by the bank of the Nile.  There's the pattern of Joseph taken into Pharaoh's house with a new identity.  Eventually he had to choose between his real roots or his newer identity that held so many entitlements.  This is repeated with Moses taken into by Pharaoh's daughter.  Eventually, Moses had to choose as well.

We even get the beginning of a pattern, a prophecy and a glimpse of a heavenly reality, as God describes Canaan:
So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, to bring them up out of that land into a good and large land, a land flowing with milk and honey, into the place the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, and Hivites and Jebusites.  -- Exodus 3:8 TLV
The word "large" is Hebrew rachab, which means to make room.  God makes room for Israel in His land, in His rest.  You will see this thought again repeated in the New Testament:
"In My Father's house there are many dwelling places.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, so that where I am you may also be."  -- John 14:2-3 TLV
A wise Messianic rabbi once opened my eyes to see that just as a Hebrew suitor would use the betrothal time to expand/make room in his father's house for him and his bride, so Yeshua continued in His roots and He is preparing a room in His Father's house for us.  He is expanding upon it.  Sorry if you are looking for your own mansion in eternity, you will have to be sufficed with just Yeshua and literally dwelling with Him in His Father's house.  He is the heaven and eternity of those who treasure Him.

However, to go back to the Canaan glimpse.  That land is what God chose to use on earth to exemplify His rest as we learn in Hebrews and it is the land wherein the same description is used of our eternal rest. 

Transitioning back to names.  I started writing a Bible study almost 2 years ago that I still haven't finished.  It was on the names of God, from the first at Elohim.  The purpose of it was to identify God.  I noticed how each time there was a name of His that showed up in the Bible it was connected to what He was doing.  So then His names directly connected to His actions.  In this, we could understand what the names mean.  

God is the beginning of the Hebrew people and beginning of Hebraic thought, inventor of the Hebrew language.  I notice that the Hebrew language is verb-centric, whereas in our western mindset we have a language centered on nouns.  People are known and chosen by their titles and degrees, not necessarily by what they have done.  This is not so in the Hebrew language, but the main words of a sentence are verbs and pronouns for suffixes of the verb to show the performer or recipient of the verb.  The Hebrew people name themselves based upon verbs, actions that surround births and/or conception.  Names are verb-centric in the Hebrew mindset, but again with God as the beginning of the Hebrew people and beginning of Hebraic thought, God's names are verb-centric:  El Shaddai (El nurtures and provides), YHWH Yireh (YHWH sees), Yeshua (YHWH saves)....these are all verbs.  So what of that wonderful, mysterious name that is revealed to Israel here in Shmot?
But Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to Bnei-Yisrael and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is His Name?' What should I say to them?"  God answered Moses, "I AM WHO I AM."  Then He said, "You are to say to Bnei-Yisrael, 'I AM' has sent you."  -- Exodus 3:13-14 TLV
Moses is asking for a title, but God gives him the ultimate verb, the verb "to be" as we call it.  The basis of all verbs is in this -- to exist.  I reckon it will take us an eternity to understand eternal existence.  Hence, those that love God are given that eternity to know Him.  That is how long it will take to know Him.  However, this name isn't the only name listed in the parsha and actually not even the reason why the parsha is named "Shmot" (names)...

You know, when we read all the names in the Bible we brush through them so quickly, but they mean something to the Lord.  The Hebrew people are one of a kind, having kept such a record of their genealogy.  Truly, they are exemplifying their own Lord, who keeps record of the names of His children and does not skip over them in the least bit.  
And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.  And God saw the sons of Israel, and God knew them.  -- Exodus 2:24-25 
"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord!' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in Your name, and drive out demons in Your name, and perform miracles in Your name?'  Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you.  Get away from Me, you workers of lawlessness!'"  -- Matthew 7:21-23 TLV
In this relationship with Him, it is not solely important that we know His Name, but more so that He knows ours.



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Thursday, December 24, 2015

VaYechi -- Opportunity Arises

Last week I was so stuck on repeated patterns and chances to do the correct thing we should have done the first time.  I have been challenged to pay attention to patterns in my own life as I allow God to change me and my former habits and give me opportunity to show repentance and embrace redemption of poor decisions of the past.

I have been in mourning over a certain baby who didn't survive its mother's womb.  That mother had shared with me her previous poor decisions that resulted in her children currently paying for her mistakes.  When she first told me she was unexpectedly pregnant, I took a deep breath and told her she has an opportunity to change the patterns of her past and live her repentance, as she was deeply sorrowful for the position he had recently put her children in and was working through repentance.  Most unfortunately, she continued the pattern by letting her baby pay for her sexual immorality mistake with its own life.  In taking their unborn children's lives, I've seen too many women in this manner make their children pay for their mistakes or make them pay for their father's mistakes (in cases of rape or when fathers are not stepping up to the plate or when women abort in spite to the men).  We err in making them pay for our mistakes in many other ways, whether it is the lack of quality of life we present to our living children, all the way to the ultimate form which is making them pay with their lives fully.  I am still mourning for the child, and doubly so for an opportunity of reversal, opportunity of changed patterns, opportunity of lived out repentance and redemption, rejected.

I noted another opportunity of reversal in this week's parsha:
And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt 17 years.  And the days of Jacob, the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven years.  And the days of Israel to die drew near.  And he called to his son Joseph and said to him, Now if I have found favor in your eyes, please put your hand under my thigh; and do kindness and truth with me.  Please do not bury me in Egypt; but let me lie with my fathers, and carry me from Egypt, and bury me in their burying-place.  -- Genesis 47:28-30
The number 17 stuck out to me, alongside its relation to Egypt.  The last time we saw this number associated with Egypt, it was describing how old Joseph was before he was taken into Egypt.  At the end of that set of 17 years Joseph is taken from Canaan into Egypt.  Here are 17 years in Egypt and I wonder if this pattern is to be reversed and see Joseph (and Israel and all the souls that came with him) go from Egypt back to Canaan.

Bear with me.  Years ago I heard a stunning statement that Israel was not meant to stay in Egypt.  We learn that many of them assimilated and even stayed instead of taking up God's offer of the deliverance in Exodus.  Yes, Joseph did say that it was God that brought him there to preserve life during the famine, specifically to preserve the life of Israel and his children.  Yet, by the time Israel comes to Egypt it is 2 years into the famine, with 5 left.  However, he didn't stay 5 years; he stayed seventeen until his death wherein beforehand he asks Joseph to take him back to Canaan.  By seventeen years, the famine is long gone.  Is this the door to return?  Did God bring a pattern back into Joseph and Israel's life, to redeem what was done beforehand, when a seventeen year period saw someone taken out of their home into a strange land...could another seventeen year period be purposed to reverse that?  When Israel's death brings him back to Canaan in this set of seventeen, was Joseph (and his brothers) supposed to go back and stay, in the reversal of the unfortunate event that happened to Joseph when he was seventeen?

When I read this last parsha of Joseph, I feel sorry for him, because he got taken out of his land and never lived back there again.  However, did he have a choice to return?  I hear a silent plea, and I may hear it incorrectly, but I do again ask you to bear with me in filtering my thoughts.  I hear a silent plea from Israel when he begins asking to return for burial in Canaan, "If I have found favor in your eyes..."  How many times do we claim God's favor upon us -- children favored of their father?  Yet, here is a father asking favor of his son.  The Father asks, sons, if we favor Him?

Relationship is a two-way street.  We want God's favor and so claim it, but do we choose Him and favor him?  The silent plea I hear is in the crossroads of Joseph's life, Egypt and Canaan...choose Canaan.  Choose him (Israel) over Pharaoh.  Go back to Canaan.  Seventeen years pass and a man is taken from his land and his father.  That man finds favor in a new land with a Pharaoh who has become as a father.  Then another group of seventeen passes and that man is presented with an opportunity of returning back to what was taken from him, and asked by his real father to favor him and favor their land versus this strange one that had a purpose for a season.  I see patterns repeat, a testing of our faith -- will we choose to favor God over the nations that offer us fame and position and reputation and even acceptance?  "'Tis the season" to really ask that question, face to face with fully coming out of the 'Egypt' ways and worship of the world and favor Him.



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Friday, December 18, 2015

VaYigash -- Repentance, Restitution, and Reconciliation

Have you ever noticed yourself going through the same things you had once before gone through?  We recognize that Hebraic living and thinking is circular, patterns develop, fate is history...or is it?  In the very least we can say that scenarios repeat but often times I wonder if, aside from Hebraic thinking, it is to give us another chance to do something different, and even to make amends for something we did terribly incorrectly the first time around.

I am on the flip side of one of those examples, having completed a second-go round on something we knew we handled incorrectly the first time.  I had been expecting that second go-round since the end of the first.  To be honest, I am expecting a thing or two else to come around again, because I know I failed to do the character-forming thing the first time.  True, recognition of what we should have done goes a long way in our growth, but yet oftentimes these scenarios must be repeated not just to test the lesson we claim to have learned and molded into our character, nor to just test our repentance, but to also make reconciliation.  Handling things incorrectly never really hurts just ourselves, and so there is someone who we must make amends with, or there is an imbalance of which we must counter to rebalance.  God is a God of reaping and sowing, and balanced scales that we often see and get to take part in through patterns (or circular living, repetition of things we have yet to do correctly).  

I had posted on Facebook this past week about a lesson on reaping and sowing.  From the last parsha, I had pondered on how Shimon was the brother Joseph took as his prisoner until the other brothers brought back Benjamin.  I had come to see the connection on taking Shimon.  Back when they had thought to kill Joseph, Reuben had told his brothers not to commit this sin, but he said they didn't hear, and so here now they think is happening because of what they did to Joseph, because they didn't hear.  Shimon's name means hearing.  Thirteen years ago they failed to hear and now hearing gets taken from them.  

Much more than the reaping and sowing in choosing Shimon, Rabbi Eric pointed out to me that Shimon was a second son, just as was Benjamin.  It was the pattern of a second son.  Joseph was taking the second son of one of Jacob's wives in holding for the second son of the other of Jacob's wives.

This week's parsha also had a pattern, an event and repeated scenario; howbeit, with a changed way of handling it.  This change was proof of repentance from the first event, and this proof of change was what brought on the reconciliation that mirrors Yeshua's with His natural brethren.  The pattern, and therefore the focus, for me this week was upon Judah.

The parsha picks up with Judah drawing near to Joseph to plead.  He does not know that it is Joseph and so he doesn't know that what he is doing is making amends with who he had wronged before, but he is simply trying to make amends with what he had done before.  What did he do before?  Well, a few parshas ago, we have a story of Joseph being sold into slavery (Genesis 37:26-28), by suggestion of Judah himself.  Joseph, the beloved of his father, Judah sold into slavery.  Now here is Benjamin, the beloved of his father once again, about to go into slavery.  Here is crossroads, a repeated scenario, a second chance to do the right thing.  Having offered himself as a surety, Judah is fully prepared to pay for the wrong thing done himself as well as doing it differently the second time around.  I have often been challenged to both repent and make amends.  Friend, I think you will agree with me that repentance, changing behaviors and doing something differently, we are far more accepting of especially since we don't want to cause hurt to those we love any more (like Judah hurting his father), but to pay for our wrongs that we have repented of -- let alone, voluntarily pay?  Now that is just crazy talk.  Some of us may even say that is why we have Yeshua/Jesus, and in Him we don't have to pay.  It was Rabbi Eric, the same who showed me the second son pattern last week, who also told me that bad theology, like teaching people they will never have to pay the consequences of their actions, nor will they reap what they once sowed, gets people to abandon faith and belief in even God's existence faster than anything.  If we actually think about it, making amends/restitution as a fruit of repentance means paying for what we have done wrong even after, and only after, we have repented.

It is a question and test of our loyalty and love to Him, true repentance, to ask ourselves, "If I still had to pay for things I have done wrong, would I still follow Him?"  Is He your get out of jail free ticket, or do you love His justice mean more to you than what you can get away with?  Truly, the sinner cannot be converted if he does not recognize he is wrong and God is right if he were punished -- period.  This is very different from "I know I did wrong, but..." and also very different than what we see in the politics of court today where we fight and pay lots of money for the least amount of punishment we can get away with.  In court on earth and in court in heaven, seen in our spiritual talks today, we focus so much on the punishment.  In fact, we say our repentance means that we don't get the punishment.  The angel Gabriel's prophecy of Yeshua was that He would save His people from their sins.  Therefore, repentance is actually, Biblically, not punishment-focused, but rather behavior-focused.

It was after Judah's repentance in heart, and after he showed this by making restitution in offering to pay for his wrongs, that reconciliation came.  Repentance by the Ruach, and restitution by Yeshua's blood, as a Husband freeing the adulterous wife He gives us the reconciliation by His death to God's Covenant once again.  In this, we also have a pattern.  Reconciliation to Covenant...the same Covenant.  God did not reconcile us to His Covenant that we may exhibit a freedom to break it over and over again, in rebellion of "I'm not under it."  As Paul said, "Shall we continue in [Torahlessness] that grace may abound?"  Rather, now equipped with all the right tools and lessons learned, to be restored to Covenant is like we have a second-go round to do it correctly this time around.

Shabbat Shalom,


*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.