Friday, September 5, 2014

Ki Teitzei: "When you go out"

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

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

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

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

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

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


N...

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Re'eh: "See"

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

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

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

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


N...

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

 N...

*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.    

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Va'etchanan: "I Pleaded"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Devarim: "Words"

Between the last parsha (the end of Numbers) and this one, we are reading a log of past events.  It is like going back to read a diary.  We are a people who easily forget.  We require the remembrances that were commanded to be written, as well as memorials that are often erected with them.  When read with gifted wisdom and discernment, these historical facts help us see the heart of Elohim and persuade us to not repeat past mistakes.

Devarim/Deuteronomy is a book that wouldn't have been written if it weren't for past mistakes.  It is essentially a repeat of the words given to a generation before, now dead in their sins, unbelief, and disobedience.  Now God has given their inheritance to their children, along with the commandments and promises a part of this Covenant.  As children grow, we parents plea with them to not make the mistakes we once made, though I wonder how many are humbly willing to give an account of their mistakes to further persuade.  When I read the book of Deuteronomy, I am more convinced to be truthful to my children about my past, for the sake of their future.  

In a world full of gods that are persuasive towards death, it is so important for people to know there is a God of life, a God of mercy.  This book, containing a second chance given to a new generation, does just that.  It shows a God of mercy and life to these children, despite their parents who chose death.  Just as our children learn from our death-promoting choices of the past, so this second generation is learning from their parents; and even thousands of generations later, we can still learn from them -- 
"And I spoke to you at that time, saying, 'I am unable to bear you by myself.  YHWH your Elohim has increased you, and see, you are today as numerous as the stars of the heavens.  YHWH Elohim of your fathers is going to add to you a thousand times more than you are, and bless you as He has spoken to you!'"  -- Deuteronomy 1:9-11
Exclamation point.  Without exaggeration, every time I read that passage I tear in gratitude.  It is beautiful to see the two things that are being proclaimed in this passage:  1) God fulfilling promises (this is the Abrahamic Covenant); and 2) God's blessings of fruitfulness in the womb.  There was once a time when it was generally and widely accepted that multiplication was one of life's choicest blessings.  These days, it is widely accepted to choose death of the seed than multiplication by it.  Even outside of abortion, I confess that even my believer mind struggles with how many kids are too many and at what point is birth control acceptable if at all.  I don't want to be found trying to redefine God's blessings by saying how many I think is enough for Him to take up more into His Name through me.  I often think the source of limited blessings is ourselves.  I just don't read of women in the Bible complaining about bearing too many children.  If anything, I see women complain of not bearing them or not bearing enough.  
"'Do not show partiality in right-ruling, hear the small as well as the great.  Do not be afraid of anyone's face, for the right-ruling belongs to Elohim.  And the case which is too hard for you, bring it to me, and I shall hear it.'"  -- Deuteronomy 1:17
Too often we don't hear the small needs.  On a different dimension beyond that -- too often, we don't even pay attention to the small.  How many have found themselves pardoning their road rage, have a little gossip here or there, a little white lie for another's protection, an indulgence just this once, an exception on just this small matter.  You know, God calls us to a life of being a walking epistle, set-apart.  This is not just in the major things, but the minor.  I am so quick to call out potentials with my children's behavior, and my own behavior.  I understand that to them, at the moment, they may think that I sure know how to magnify a situation and blow it out of proportion with my excessive chain-linking.  No -- behaviors, even the smallest, reveal a character trait and they will transfer to the bigger things.  Trust that they will.  A believer must be found hearing and observing the small and the big, holy in both. 
"'See, YHWH your Elohim has set the land before you.  Go up and possess it, as YHWH Elohim of your fathers has spoken to you.  Do not fear, nor be discouraged.'"  -- Deuteronomy 1:21
Elohim gave the manna, but they still had to gather it.  He gives the land, but they still had to possess it. God gives many things, but we still must choose them.  He is sovereign, but we still have responsibility.  This is not to lower Him any in order to elevate ourselves, especially in the matter of redemption.  However, it is to reveal that He is not interested in a robot; He is interested in a genuine love-relationship.  Relationship requires two.  
"'YHWH your Elohim, who is going before you, He does fight for you, according to all He did for you in Mitsrayim before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you saw how YHWH your Elohim has borne you, as a man bears his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.'"  -- Deuteronomy 1:30-31
This is another touching passage.  A very good friend and I were speaking of salvation one day.  She said by the way some people live their lives, you want to ask them, "What did God save you from -- McDonald's?"  It provokes thought.  I take this passage very personally, as should all readers.  Look at your redemption.  Do you acknowledge there were places of bondage wherein He found you?  Do you have a testimony of a real salvation?  Have you been in a wilderness to see Him carry you as a father does a son?  By this, have you seen purpose of building a relationship with Him in the wilderness, or do you merely just complain about the wilderness, or do worse by accrediting it to the devil?  
"Yet in this matter you are putting no trust in YHWH your Elohim, who is going before you in the way to seek out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in fire by night and in a cloud by day."  -- Deuteronomy 1:32-33
That first generation did not put their trust in Him, and we can once again say that we acknowledge their end was justly given by the Judge.  What is the difference between trust and belief, and is there a difference?  I did not spend enough time in the Hebrew and Greek transliteration to see if there be a difference, but I do know that the Bible says even the devils believe and yet they are not redeemed.  Trust is the application of belief.  Without it, one can say all day long that he believes in God, in a man named Jesus who is God, that He died and rose again, even that He is Lord; but until He applies that belief into His life as living faith, with a living Lord that is not himself, does that man really know redemption unto salvation?  There are too many people saying they believe in the Lord, not walking as if they have applied this term 'lord' in regards to Him in their lives.  It goes without saying, that His lordship means your obedience; otherwise, you are still your own lord.
"'...except Kaleb son of Yephunneh.  He shall see it, and to him and his children I give the land on which he walked, because he followed YHWH completely.'  And YHWH was enraged with me for your sakes, saying, 'You do not go in there, either.  Yehoshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall go in there.  Strengthen him, for he shall cause Yisra'el to inherit.'"  -- Deuteronomy 1:36-38
One of the things I love about these two is that one is a natural branch and the other is adopted into a tribe.  Kaleb is not a natural Israelite, but a Gentile Kenezzite, adopted into the tribe of Judah.  I am of belief that every adopted Gentile is through the tribe of Judah, because it is adoption through Messiah of Judah.  It leaves us asking what 'Covenant' included the Gentiles?  Despite popular belief, it is not the 'New Covenant', but it is the Abrahamic, from which all covenants are formed by.  Our amazing God declared the latter times in the ancient days.  Here, natural born and adopted come together to one inheritance.  What is He saying in the long run?

One other thing we can learn in these ancient days, here in the Torah, is the order of coming into the promise.  When reading this, my daughter said she wondered why Kaleb and Yehoshua were not allowed to just stay in the land when they first went in there, seeing as they did trust God.  Good question.  The answer seems to fall in line with the consistency of God in the subject of unity.  We must remember that the Scriptures only support one glorified resurrection for the righteous.  We shall inherit together.
"For YHWH your Elohim has blessed you in all the work of your hand.  He has known your wandering through this great wilderness.  These forty years YHWH your Elohim has been with you, you have not lacked any matter."  -- Deuteronomy 2:7
When YHWH is with you, you lack nothing.  This doesn't mean you will have all you want or even luxuries.  I think we are grossly confused on exactly what it is that we need.  You must remember that these people wore the same clothes forty years, same sandals as Scripture seems to support, slept in tents, ate the same foods.... but it was purposeful, beloved, it was purposeful.  I am in a point in my life where we are blessed in moments when we can afford some nice things, or simply afford to replace older things.  I am often challenged to not do so.  This challenge comes from a great many years of being tested on what I could and couldn't live without, and simply living without things I thought I needed.  It isn't that I don't believe God doesn't like to adorn His bride in nice things, it is just that that wilderness taught me the best adornment is Him.  I can live without many things, but I cannot live without Him.  I know this sounds really weird, but it is because of Him that when I am at the poorest point in my life I believe myself to actually be in the richest.
"And also, the hand of YHWH was against them, to destroy them from the midst of the camp until they were consumed."  -- Deuteronomy 2:15
So the hand of Elohim was against that first generation?  That is what Scripture says.  Why, then, did He tolerate them?  The answer to this mystery is repeated in Romans nine.  He did it for the children that hear these words, the vessels that would see His mercy.  If he plucked out the parents, how would the children eat?  He longsuffers with many unrighteous, a world of them, thousands of years thus far, for the sake of His righteous.  That is a longsuffering beyond inspiring, a love I will spend eternity trying to understand.  He is longsuffering through the chaos for so much longer and with so much more suffering than we do in our vapor of a life, for His vessels of mercy.  I pray that encourages you in your race.  


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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Matot: "Tribes"

I am very eager to dive into this parsha reading with you.  It is a rather short reading, Numbers 30:2 - 32:42 (with Haftorah Jeremiah 1:1 -2:3 and Brit Chadashah Matthew 5:33-37).  I am so excited over this parsha because it contains something I have greatly pondered over for the past year, in which I believe I came to understand its meaning in this week's reading.  There are ordinances, like that of the red heifer, that are a mystery, but then other commandments that just plainly make sense for very obvious reasons in their foreshadowing.  We come to read of a list of commandments that state a difference in gender and responsibility with gender at this time when the uni-gender influence has made its way into many conversations I've held recently.  This parsha also contains something pertinent to the situation Israel has recently found herself in, and our response to it.  Don't you just love how the parsha readings are always pertinent to what is going on at that time?
And YHWH spoke to Mosheh, saying, "Take vengeance for the children of Yisra'el on the Midyanites.  After that you are to be gathered to your people." ... And they fought the Midyanites, as YHWH commanded Mosheh, and slew all the males.  And they slew the sovereigns of Midyan with the rest of those who were pierced:  Ewi, and Reqem, and Tsur, and Hur, and Reba, the five sovereigns of Midyan.  And they slew Bil'am son of Be'or with the sword.  -- Numbers 31:1-2, 7-8
Last time we heard of Bil'am, he was blessing Israel when he was asked to curse them (Numbers 22 - 24).  This was a good thing for him, because according to the Abrahamic Covenant that YHWH was clearly honoring through Israel, any cursing against Israel would be a cursing against the curser.  Yet, Bil'am, who blessed Israel, seems to have been without a blessing for his blessing, but instead is found in a curse of death.  Why did he die even though he didn't curse them?
And Mosheh said to them, "Have you kept all the women alive?  Look, they are the ones who caused the children of Yisra'el, through the word of Bil'am, to trespass against YHWH in the matter of Pe'or, and there was a plague among the congregation of YHWH."  -- Numbers 31:16
Bil'am did curse the people, without actually cursing the people.  The passage above tells us how he did so.  The situation Moses is referencing (and the reason why God calls this war a 'vengeance') goes back to Numbers 25, when an Israelite man entered the camp with the Midyanite woman and the people went whoring against God in their persuasion to mix Him and Midyan's Ba'al Peor through these women.  A plague came of this and was not subsided until Pinchas slew the Israelite and the Midyanite.  The passage above tells us that these women were the voices of Bil'am in this persuasion.  His word caused them to lure Israel into this matter that was very much against the Lord.  By this, he found a way to curse the people without cursing the people.

Leadership has to be very careful on how we persuade Israel in such a sensitive time as this.  We quickly want to remember to openly bless them, but let this be a reminder that there are still ways to curse without cursing, there are still ways to persuade a people to their death without open cursing.

The matter I am most excited to share goes back to the first chapter of this parsha.  Chapter 30 speaks of vows and oaths made by men and those made by women.  Those made by man will stand, and those made by women can either stand or be annulled in the day that they are heard.  If the woman in question is in her youth, not yet married, her father can annul her words.  If the woman is married, then her husband can annul her words.  This is very important -- the Torah says the male can establish/confirm or annul her words in the day that she made them, the day that he first heard them.  If the woman's vows or oath have been annulled, then the Lord will pardon her.  What is the pardon?  The pardon is that of the vow or oath, because as Deuteronomy 23:21 tells us, if we make a vow or oath we had better pay it, and pay it in haste -- it would be a sin to not.  So then, the Lord will forgive her of the words, that she may not be held to them and therefore not be found in sin by failure to uphold.  There is a difference between genders that I gladly embrace as a woman.  We women are very emotional creatures.  We tend to bond ourselves to many things, simply by our feelings; and we have our men with their strong egos (that can work for great advantage for a family) to protect us from such things.  This is the order of genders, and if it weren't so, then Messiah Himself as Husband couldn't claim right to annul any silly vow or oath His bride makes.  

In the last paragraph, I said it was very important to read the Torah speak of annulling and pardon, or establishment, in the day the vow or oath is made.  I say this because at the end of the chapter, it appears as if this same statute is repeated...or is it?
"But if he shall any ways make them void after that he hath heard them; then he shall bear her iniquity."  -- Numbers 30:15 KJV
Actually, this is not a repeat.  This is the matter I have pondered over the past year.  The torah was an annulment and a pardon of having to pay the bonding vow or oath on the day the vow or oath was made.  We must remember and submit to the fact that all vows and oaths are binding, whether in part or in whole, of the soul.  This pardon works out to our understanding of Messiah annulling our soul ties and bonds if he annulled them all on the day we made them.  However, we made most of those before we even knew Him.  By the time we come to Him, our soul ties are many and our bonds are from days of old.  So what of these most binding of all?  This last verse uses the word "after", which in the Hebrew means just as it says.  Just a simple looking into the original tongue led me to believe that this specific verse is referring to annulment after it was said, after the day it was made.  Yet, there is a stipulation in this verse as well.  So then soul-binding vows and oaths can be made void after they are made; howbeit, when the Husband makes them void thereafter the day they were made, He must pay a cost of iniquity to void them.  He has paid that cost.  Behold, old things are done away, a man becomes a new and free creature.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Pinchas/Phinehas

Pinchas is a special parsha reading to me.  It marks my one-Biblical-year anniversary of blogging about the parshas.  One year ago we read Pinchas in the month of June, but this past Biblical year has brought us two months of Adar, and so we find ourselves in Pinchas during the month of July.  The Torah readings have really blessed my family and me.  It keeps us tuned into the foundations of our Messiah, gives us a base to understanding the Messianic prophecies, separates Yehoshua from all other messiahs to reveal Him as the true chosen One, gives us a beautiful picture that actually makes sense as to Messiah's purpose of both His first and second comings, helps us understand Paul's writings, shows us the echad nature of God, keeps us walking echad with Him by revealing His character to us in black and white, reveals what is to come through the ancient times within, lets us know God's 'love language'.  Really, I could go on; but, essentially, the Torah readings have been study into our very roots of faith, the foundation of why we believe what we believe, why we even believe Messiah.

Back to Pinchas.  This week, the readings of the Torah are accompanied with a story of Eliyahu/Elijah being threatened by Izebel/Jezebel in I Kings 18:46-19:21, and the story of Messiah overturning the tables in John 2:13-22.  All three stories have a very important similarity that I fear is missing today, and that is that all three readings point to zealousness.  Even the passage in John, referring to Messiah's overthrowing of the vendors' tables, quotes a passage in Psalms (69:9) to reflect what drove Him to do such a thing.  Zeal is what drove Him.  Specifically, it is the Hebrew word qinah, which is the noun form of the verb qana, accredited as Pinchas' driving action that stayed the plague.  It is also the verb Eliyahu accredits to himself in our readings of I Kings nineteen.  

Pinchas observed an Israelite, a brother of his, whoring with someone.  Even if the Yisraelite was married to that woman, he was still whoring because she was a Midyanite -- he whored against his faith.  Pinchas acted accordingly.  How can this man enter the camp like this, and why in the world isn't anybody else flabbergasted at how he and the woman he's adulterating with are so open in what they are doing?  Not too much has changed today.  I have known people to leave churches because of brethren that come in openly in their sexual and physical and spiritual adulterating sin, and some places that say they are a house of God clearly show they will allow such relationships openly by their failure to rebuke or be zealous for God's character that is being falsified.  We see the plague that God started with this and other whoring actions of the congregation.  The whole congregation suffered.  What a reminder to us that the congregation will die if sin is allowed to be within.  Sin = death.  There is no love of God when sin is accepted, and no love of brethren when the sin accepted means the death of all.  Our response is clear -- the Torah says we are to separate ourselves from such sin, cutting off brethren if need be.  Paul reaffirms the Torah by saying if such sin is being committed by a brother, we are not even to eat a meal with him (I Corinthians 5).  On a brotherly level, failure to obey Torah in this matter condones the flesh rather than saves the soul, as Paul so puts it.  It also discourages repentance, encourages others to follow, and brings about a bad image of God.  It bears a false witness of the Lord that results in false followers, rather than real salvation for souls to be free from the law of sin that equals death.

Eliyahu warred against the prophets of Baal, who Israel allowed to come in.  By Israel allowing such entrance, Eliyahu saw his brothers claim a Holy God and also a false one, which is totally against the Covenant.  It is adultery, spiritually.  His actions were for the Covenant.  Holy Covenants demands faithfulness.  I knew someone who had an old pastor that knew one of the wives was committing adultery with a fellow congregant while her husband was overseas.  The pastor refused to throw them out.  Acceptance then became the failure to uphold the sanctity of marriage.  Acceptance of sin by brethren is even our failure to uphold the sanctity of the Covenant, which is a marriage.  Eliyahu says that he acted for zeal.

In the case of Messiah, the noun form of the verb is being used.  It is more than just an action, but it (zeal) is an actual thing that He possesses.  With Pinchas, Elohim doesn't say Pinchas has zeal, but says he performed a zealous action (qana) for His sake.  This is because the zeal is not Pinchas', it is actually God's.  "Sake" is this same noun (qinah) used for Messiah in the John passage.  It means zeal.  It is the noun that God says is His.  Pinchas acted for God's own zeal.  His action was based upon the character of a jealous God.  So then we can say that both Pinchas and Eliyahu were in fact acting in God-likeness, or even in [pre] Christ-likeness.  This acting in God's own likeness is what pleased Him.

How can a man please God?  God's pleasure and His complacent love comes through our likeness to Himself, which is only made possible by His Messiah and maintained by His Spirit.  Of course we know He keeps His own Torah, but even in love toward us He keeps one of His own greatest commandments by making possible our likeness to Him -- by this likeness, He loves us as He loves Himself.


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