Parashah Haazinu 2019 (Hear) Deuteronomy 32

We are now very close to the end of the Torah. Moses is going to teach the song that God gave him to the children of Israel, so that when they go astray in the future and wonder, “Why has this happened to us?” they will remember the song, and know that it is because of their own transgressions that they have been left defenseless.

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The song, itself, basically tells how God raised up Israel to become a great nation, but they have been disobedient and rebellious children, and because they spurned their God, Adonai, he spurned them and allowed their enemies to triumph over them. But, at the end of the song, God states that the enemies, themselves, also have no wisdom in thinking that their victory came at their own hands, and was not allowed by God, so because their sins are just as bad as Israel’s, once Israel has suffered the punishment they deserve, God will rise up against their enemies and destroy them, saving his people.

After Moses gives this song to the people, God tells him to climb Mt. Nebo and look upon the land the people will inhabit, and after that Moses will die.

Pretty simple stuff here, isn’t it? God tells the people all he has done for them, all they did against him, rejecting him and disobeying, and that they will be punished. But, once they return to him, they will be saved.

And we, having the benefit of knowing the history that hadn’t happened to them yet, can see exactly how all this came true.

Today, Israel is a world leader in technology, farming, and military strength, fulfilling the promise God made to Abraham thousands of years ago, which was that his seed would be a blessing to the world.  Despite the fact that they are surrounded by enemies that vastly outnumber them, they have survived and are still surviving. Every attempt to dislodge them from their land has failed and based on what God said, it will always fail.

Israel has undergone her punishment; she is no longer being judged because now is the time for judging the Goyim, the other nations of the world.

Europe is being overtaken by militant Islamic population growth, and even Canada and Great Britain are kowtowing to Islamic pressure. The United States is still behind Israel, but within our country, we are so divided, politically and morally, that I fear we are being judged, as well. And when the US and Europe fall, the evil governments left in the world will take charge. At that time, all the nations of the world will come against Israel (Zachariah12:3) and then God will unsheathe his sword to drink the blood of those nations which have rejected him and attacked his people.

You know what? That’s all I have. Really! What else is there in this parashah except that we have been told by God exactly what will happen in the future, and why. When will it happen? No one knows- even Yeshua said that only God knows when this will come about; for us, the best thing we can do is to live every day as if it was our last one on earth. And not in a depressed, sad mood but joyfully. Get the most out of what you do, enjoy your family, work to maintain your friendships and don’t hesitate for a nanosecond to tell those you care about that you love them and are grateful they are in your life.

Finally, the last thing I want to ask of you is to always remember to praise and thank God for all he has done, all he is doing right now, and for whatever he has planned. The Acharit HaYamim (the End Days) will be terrible, and going through them will be horrendous, but just as the pain of childbirth is forgotten and replaced with total joy once the birth is over, so too, will we feel that complete and overflowing joy when we are lifted up into the clouds with Messiah.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share me out. Like my Facebook page and buy my books, and do what you can to help this ministry to grow. People need to know the truth about God and his instructions, and especially about Yeshua.

Until next time, L’hitraot and this being Friday, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom.

Parashah Vayyelach 2019 (and he went) Deuteronomy 31

Moses has come to the end of his road and the Lord tells him that he is to charge Joshua with taking the people across the Jordan into the land God promised to give them. Moses repeatedly tells all the people not to be afraid and tells Joshua in front of all the people, not to be afraid to go into the land or of the people there because God will go before them and destroy the people there, as he did with Og and Sihon.

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God tells Moses of the future, how the people will rebel against God and that he will have to punish them, which Moses relates to all the leaders. God also dictates to Moses a song which he is to write down and teach to the people so that when they fail to obey God and his instructions the song will be a witness for God that he warned them of what is happening.

As I was reading this parashah, I came to verse 4, where Moses says:

And the Lord will do unto them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and unto their land; whom he destroyed.

and I thought to myself, “Surely there must have been someone who partook in those battles and was thinking, ‘I killed those men, myself. God didn’t kill them, I did!'” and at that moment I realized what I need to talk about today.

People, as a rule, are self-centered and usually don’t like to give credit for something they have done to anyone or anything else. Here we have a perfect example: the Israelites were the ones who fought a hand-to-hand battle against the Amorites, yet Moses is saying that it was God who destroyed them. How can that be if people were against people?

Now, with the Egyptians and the Sea of Suf (Red Sea), it was clearly God who split the waters and caused them to fall in on the Egyptians, and it was clearly God who caused the plagues, but when Israel fought against the people of Og and Sihon, it was man against man. How can Moses say God destroyed them?

The reason Moses said God destroyed the Amorites (and, for the record, he was right in saying it that way) is that more often than not God works through people.

The Bible is rife with examples of God’s plan coming to fruition through the actions of people. We have the case where the first king of Israel, Saul, had to be taken out of the way to allow David to become king. God struck him down by forcing him to commit suicide)because the Philistines were about to capture him on Mt. Gilboa (1 Samuel 28:4); when the house of Ahab was to be punished for all it’s evil, especially Jezebel, it was done through Yehu; the Northern Kingdom of Israel was punished by the Assyrians; and the Southern Kingdom of Judah was punished for their sins, especially the sins of King Manasseh, by the Babylonians.

Not all things God does through people are bad. He arranged for the timing to be perfect for Joseph to be freed from jail; he made sure that Samson’s strength returned to him in his last moments; he touched the heart of King Koresh of Persia and allowed the exiles in Babylon (under Ezra) to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple and the wall.

If we are doing our best to honor God in all we say and do and to follow the instructions he gave to us regarding worshiping him and treating each other, then he will bless us. He promises this to us in Deuteronomy, Chapter 28. He also promises that when we rebel and reject him and his instructions, we will be cursed. The difference between God blessing us and cursing us is that the blessings are actively given by God, and the curses come upon us when God no longer protects us, so they are passively allowed.

Blessings are given, curses are the result of not being under God’s protection.

And when wonderful things happen, even when we have worked hard to achieve them, it is still because God has worked it out for us by working it out through us.

If you are an artist and paint or sculpt a masterpiece, you may have been the one doing the actually work, but it was God who gave you the talent and the inspiration that allowed you to complete your task. If you are a teacher and you receive accolades for your work, it is because God has given you that talent and provided the proper students for you to make the best use of that talent.

Here is something that we all have to remember and be grateful for: God is behind it all, and when we do what is good we must first give the credit to God for making it possible. When I write or say something that is edifying and useful to spiritual growth, it is because God has given me the insight and the ability to do so.

It is as I always say: when I do something good, it is God working through me, and when I totally screw up, then I can take all the credit.

Always be grateful to God for all the good that happens in your life; not just for your successes, but also for your failures which he sometimes will orchestrate so you can learn a valuable lesson. When we are for God, he will be for us.

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Until next time, Shabbat Shalom and Baruch HaShem!

Message for Yom Teruah (Rosh HaShanah) 2019

This coming Sunday evening, September 29, 2019, begins the Holy Day of Yom Teruah, the Day of Trumpets.  This holy day, meaning a day specified by God to be a festival to him, is also a holiday (meaning a man-made celebration) called Rosh HaShanah, the Jewish New Year.  The first two days are to be a holy convocation, although this festival is not one of the three where we are required to go to where God placed his name, which was the Temple in Jerusalem.

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The traditional reading from the Torah on the first day is Genesis Chapter 21, and for the second day, Genesis 22; this chapter is known as the Akedah -the binding of Isaac. What is interesting is that these two chapters are more than just the story about Abraham’s sons; they also give us the reason for the continuing wars in the Middle East.

Chapter 21 tells us of that after Isaac is born, when Ishmael is 14 years of age, Ishmael makes fun of Isaac. Sarah, knowing that Ishmael is not her son and as Abraham’s firstborn would be the inheritor, tells Abraham to send Ishmael away. God confirms to Abraham that this is acceptable to him, as it is Isaac who is the son of the promise, and God also (knowing Abraham’s love for his son, Ishmael) promises Abraham that Ishmael will grow and become a great nation because he is a son of Abraham.

Hagar and Ishmael are given some provisions and ejected from the camp, left to live or die in the desert. When their provisions run out and Hagar is crying because she knows she and her son will die, an angel comes to her and shows her a well, where she gets water. The boy grows and does become a father to 12 tribes.

At the beginning of the next day’s reading, Chapter 22, we are told that after these things happened God called to Abraham and told him to take Isaac and offer him up to God. We don’t know how much time had elapsed from the ejection of Ishmael and this testing of Abraham, but most scholars believe that Isaac was a man by now, probably in his early 20’s or even older. We all know the story: Abraham faithfully takes Isaac the very next morning to where God leads him, Mount Moriah (the eventual site of Solomon’s Temple), ties him up and is about to kill him when an angel calls out to stop Abraham. Abraham is told that his faithful obedience will be rewarded with blessings and that his descendants will be a blessing to the entire world. Abraham sees a ram stuck in a bush, and sacrifices that to God.

For this reason, we use the horn of a ram for the Shofar, as a memorial to that ram which replaced Isaac on the altar.

Abraham is the patriarch of both the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 tribes of the Ishmaelim (descendants of Ishmael), who have been enemies from that time until now. The sons of Ishmael are today the majority of the Arab nations. I did a quickie Internet search and didn’t find anything that tells me exactly which current Arab nations are direct descendants, but it appears that the Assyrians, Babylonians, possibly the Philistines, and other tribes located throughout the Middle East all are descendants of Ishmael.

We also have to take into account what God told Hagar when she ran away from Sarah (Genesis, Chapter 16.) Hagar did this because Sarah was treating her poorly out of jealousy for Hagar having conceived by Abraham, even though Sarah gave her to him to bear a child Sarah could have for her own. God told Hagar to return to Sarah because the child she is carrying will become a great nation, but he will be a wild donkey of a man, with his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him. (Gen. 16:12)

I said earlier these two chapters give us the origin of the reason for the continuing war in the Middle East, and now I will explain why.

Ishmael is the firstborn of Abraham, and according to the ancient rules of inheritance he would normally be entitled to inherit from Abraham all that Abraham had. However, God told Abraham that Isaac should be the one who inherits, rejecting the rule of the firstborn. This may be the first time we see this happening, i.e. the firstborn not receiving the proper inheritance according to tradition, but it won’t be the last. Jacob is second born but will end up with the blessing and rights of the firstborn, as well as Joseph, who was far from being firstborn but was given those rights. Also, we see this happen between Ephraim and Manasseh, and many years later Solomon is given the kingship over his older brothers.

The constant battles in the Middle East, not just between the Arabs and the Jews, but within the Arab nations, Arab against Arab, are still about inheritance. The desire for the property and wealth of the land is what is behind these battles, although we who see the spiritual side know that it is really a battle of powers, not of people. It may be that the rhetoric is all about rights to the land, but in truth the land represents wealth. People may think that the Arabs are well off because they have all the oil, but Israel has water, fruit, produce, technology, and the best land available outside of the fertile belt in Egypt.

Sarah did not want Ishmael to inherit from Abraham, and that is still the basis for the Middle East wars, today. This is why no matter what people try to do to make peace there, it cannot be. The descendants of Ishmael are, by God’s decree, never going to be at peace with anyone. And Israel, by God’s decree, will possess all of the land that God proclaimed they should own, sooner or later. They have never had the entire territory God gave them to possess to themselves, although they came closest during the time of King Solomon. That is not God’s fault- the Israelites did not destroy the people living there when they should have so these indigenous inhabitants never really left.

The children of Ishmael may lay claim to the land by reason of their constant habitation, but the truth is that even though they have lived in the area, they never worked the land, never cared for it, never settled permanently, and were supposed to have been totally ejected when Israel first entered the land under Joshua. They are not there because they have a right to the land, they are there because of the incompetence of the Israelites when they entered the land, which has been a thorn in the side of Israel for thousands of years.

Rosh HaShanah is usually celebrated as a joyous time, but it is to be a memorial and ushers in what is called the 10 Days of Awe, during which we reflect on the past year and how well (or how poorly) we have lived according to the instructions God gave us in the Torah. We are to take it as a serious time for inner reflection and humble contrition.

However, most Jews will celebrate it as a happy time and greet each other with “L’shanah Tovah” (to a good year) and share foods that are sweet, to signify the hope for a sweet year to come.

I hope that you will celebrate this festival as God intended, but if you prefer to have a happy time, enjoy! But don’t forget to reflect and prepare for Yom Kippur because even though our sins can be forgiven through the sacrificial death of Yeshua, we still need to come before God humbly and contritely to ask for his forgiveness.

I will end today’s message as I always do, thanking you for being here, and asking that you remember to subscribe to this website and to my YouTube channel, as well. So, until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Ki Tavo 2019 (When you come) Deuteronomy 26:1 – 29:8

Deuteronomy is the final book of the Torah, and it is pretty much a recap of all that has come before it.

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Moses has been going through his Third Discourse, and reminding the people of the instructions God has given them, how they have rejected him and been punished, and how he has forgiven them when they repented and blessed them, now (finally) bringing this new generation, born into freedom, to the very edge of the Promised Land.

This parashah begins with Moses giving the instructions for presenting the Firstfruits and goes through the blessings and the curses in Chapter 28: blessings for obedience and curses for rejection of God’s instructions.

What I want to talk about is not the Blessings and Curses, which is usually my favorite chapter in the entire Torah. Today I want to talk about what is written in Chapter 26, verses 13-15:

Then say to the Lord your God: “I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them.  I have not eaten any of the sacred portion while I was in mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor have I offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the Lord my God; I have done everything you commanded me.  Look down from heaven, your holy dwelling place, and bless your people Israel and the land you have given us as you promised on oath to our ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey.” (bold print added)

This statement was to be made after the person presented the basket of firstfruits to the Levite. I have purposefully put the last sentence in bold print because it signifies, to me, the major difference between Judaism and Christianity.

Christianity stresses the personal and individual relationship between the person being saved, and their Savior. As a Christian, it is all about me and Jesus. But that is not how things are in Judaism: as we can see from this prayer, the individual takes responsibility for his or her own actions, but the resulting relationship is between God and the nation of Israel.

Jews are a nation, and act and work together as a single entity. One person’s actions affect the entire nation. We take personal responsibility, as well as social responsibility for all that we do. Christianity is a collection of individuals who have professed faith in Jesus, but Jews are a nation- one people, one purpose, one set of rules (well, with 6 sects of Judaism that all disagree, even within themselves, I confess we have screwed that part up ) and one relationship: God and Israel.

I am not saying to insult Christianity, but only to point out the significant difference in the relationship between Christians and God and Jews and God.

As an example of what I mean, after Joshua attacked Jericho, the next battle against Ai was a terrible defeat by Ai, a smaller and weaker force than the Israelites. How could that be? It was because of one man. In Joshua 7:1 we are told:

But the people of Israel broke faith in regard to the devoted things, for Achan the son of Carmi, son of Zabdi, son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of the devoted things. And the anger of the Lord burned against the people of Israel.

Notice how it says the people of Israel broke faith: not one man, but the entire nation, even though only one man sinned. God sees his people as a person, and likewise, we Jews know that one person’s sin affects us all.

The relationship you have with God and with Messiah Yeshua is a personal one, in that God knows every hair on your head and hears every prayer you submit to him. This is a good thing, and there is nothing wrong, in and of itself, with the Christian view of an individual and personal relationship with your Savior. What that relationship needs, though, is more of a Jewish perspective, which is to see the bigger picture, the one where all those who worship God must act as a single entity; one mind, one set of rules (the ones God gave) and one purpose, which is to do what pleases God.

Too often Christianity focuses on what God does for you instead of what you must do for God, and even though they often say
“It is all about God”, what they “sell” is personal salvation, personal relationship, and personal blessings all coming from God to you.

It IS all about God: the whole idea of firstfruits is not just the apples and grapes, and not even your firstborn child, but your first thought, your first motivation, and your first desire must be to please God, which is done through following his instructions. Not doing what you think Shaul (Paul) said, not doing what Timothy does, but doing what God said to do, and taking it to the next (spiritual) level, which is what Yeshua taught.

My ministry will probably never be popular because I don’t teach what God will do for you, I teach what you must do for God. People don’t want to serve but to be served, and that is the exact opposite of how it works with God. God makes promises to bless and to save us from the consequences of our sin, but we have to make the first move.

God wants to take your hand in his and have that special relationship, but you must first reach out to him.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share me out.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabat Shalom!

Parashah Ekev 2019 (Because) Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25)

Moses continues to speak to the children of Israel, constantly reminding them of their travels through the desert and their sins along the way, and admonishing them, over and over, to remember all that God has done for them. He has kept them safe in the desert, their clothes and sandals didn’t wear out, and they received manna and water miraculously every day.

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Moses told them not to become proud and think the land was given to them because they deserved it -they didn’t! They are a stiff-necked people, and the Lord was giving it to them in order to fulfill his promise to the Patriarchs, as well as to have the Israelites act as his weapon to rid the land of the unrepentant and sinful peoples living there. Moses tells the people that they are not to be afraid of the nations they are to dispossess because God will fight for them, as he has done in the past.

More than once Moses confirms that when the people obey God, they will be blessed, and when they disobey they will be punished and that if they continue to be sinful, then God will eject them from the land just as he did the sinful people before them.

Moses also repeats the command to remember these words, to teach them to the children, to wear them, and to post them on their house and gates, which is called the V’ahavta (and you shall love) prayer which was originally given to us in Deuteronomy 6:5.

What Moses was really telling the people was to trust in God to take care of them, but he didn’t say it that way. I think he was right in not coming out and saying something as simple to comprehend as “Just trust God and you will be fine” because, in my opinion, people can’t really trust. Whether it is God or their friends, or even themselves -people are, in general, untrustworthy and we know we are untrustworthy. It’s no wonder that we have trouble trusting in God because we can’t trust that which we can see and feel, so how can we trust that which is invisible?

Moses didn’t ask them to trust God, in exactly those words, but he did tell them to do something they could do: remember all that has befallen them over the past 40 years and that what God has done for them so far, he can, and will, continue to do so long as they do what they are supposed to do.

I think we can all agree that in those days, it was much easier for people to accept there was a God, some superior being that was the cause of the events that happened during their lifetime. Today we are so scientific and faithless that people tend to trust in their own power instead of some supernatural power. They want to be the ones in control of their life and often refuse to accept that there is any other way.

That is why today’s message is this: REMEMBER.

Remember the times when you had a close call and almost died; remember the times that you were sick but got better; remember the events in other people’s lives that you found hard to believe, either good or bad, and remember that the Bible has been proven, over and over, more and more, to not just be a storybook but an accurate historical document. That means that if the places and people in the Bible really existed, which archaeology has proven to be true, then the events these people witnessed must also be true.

We can’t see the wind as it blows past our window, but we can see the evidence of it by watching the trees and bushes move. We can’t see the birds in the trees, but we can hear the evidence of their existence. Most of the time we can’t see the pollen in the air but our sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes prove it’s there. We know these things exist because either we have seen birds in the air and pollen on our cars, and many other things that may be invisible to the naked eye science has been able to make visible.

But science will never make God visible.  But even though we can’t see God, we can see the evidence of his existence everywhere. The only difference is that whereas science can prove these things exist when it comes to God, we have to be willing to accept the evidence as factual.

When it comes to the existence of God, you have to choose to believe in it: you must choose to believe that God exists, and the same goes for the Messiah, Yeshua -not just that he existed but that he was, and still is, the Messiah God promised to send. And that he is coming back to finish the job.

Whenever you find your faith wavering or your trust being tested, remember the evidence of what you believe and confirm for yourself the truth of you know.

Thank you for being here, and please don’t forget to subscribe. Share me out to help this ministry grow. I welcome your comments.

This is Friday so Shabbat Shalom, and until next time….L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah V’et’chanan 2019 (I Pleaded) Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11

Moses pleads, once again, with God to allow him to cross over the Jordan and enter the land, but God is firm and tells Moses he may see the land but will not cross over. Then he says, essentially, put a sock in it: Joshua will take the people into the land, you will die on the mountain, und das is alles!

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Moses reminds the people about the wonders God has done, separates three cities on the east side of Jordan where the slayer can flee (Cities of Refuge) and tells the people that at Mt. Horeb (when God talked to them) they never saw God so they must never make any image of God. Then he reviews the 10 Commandments.

Throughout this First Discourse, Moses constantly reminds the people about how unique their experience is, having heard the voice of the living God and remained alive; he reminds them of how they asked him, Moses, to be their intercessor with God because they were afraid to hear God, directly.  As we will see throughout this last book, Moses is constantly reminding the people to obey the instructions God has given them through Moses so that they will be able to remain in the land.

Near the end of this parashah, Moses gives the people two of the most sacred and wonderful prayers in all of Judaism: the Shema and the V’ahavtah.

There is an entire lifetime of spiritual knowledge just in the Shema and V’ahavta prayers, and as wonderful and edifying as a study of these prayers would be, I am not going to be dealing with them today.

I want to talk about the 10 Commandments, specifically the first two. Do you know what they are? You may think you do, but I have found them mistranslated and misaligned (or should I say, maligned?) depending on from which religion you learned them.

Let’s start with the most accurate of all the translations, which is the one in the Torah. In the Torah, at this parashah (and it is confirmed hermeneutically when we compare it with the first time we hear these commandments in Exodus 20) Moses tells the people exactly what God said:

I am the Lord, thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, even any manner of likeness, of any thing that is in the heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love me and keep my commandments. 

I searched a number of different versions on the Internet and also looked at the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh, my Chumash, and even my Tikkun, and did not find any three versions of this first commandment that matched. The Torah (from the Tikkun) has the statements about being the Lord and not making graven images as one continuous statement, yet in the Chumash, it is split into two separate commandments. A Catholic version I saw had the first commandment about being the Lord and the second about having no gods before him but did not state anything about not making or bowing before any type of image (no surprise there, considering the Catholic Church has graven and painted images that they bow before throughout their houses of worship.)

I saw a children’s rug that had the first two as (1) Love God more than anything and (2) let him be first in your life, while a non-denominational plaque had nothing about being the Lord thy God but the first two commandments were (1) not to have any other gods and (2) not to make any graven images.

From what I saw in these dozen or so different versions, the commandments always manage to come out to 10, but the majority of the time either they split the first one into two and have a single commandment at the end dealing with coveting, or they have the first commandment covering I am the Lord and no graven images and split coveting into two.

And, as we saw, some people think they can just restate and change the entire wording, thereby changing the meaning and impact of the commandments.

The important thing is, of course, that all of God’s commandments are there, and stated as he stated them. Considering the detailed manner in which each and every Torah is written to ensure that it is exactly the same as the one it was copied from, and how historical evidence has shown that ancient scrolls have matched almost word-for-word to the modern books in the Bible, we can be certain that what is in the Torah is as close as possible to what God actually told Moses to tell the people.

So, nu? What’s my point?  My point is that we need to read and understand these commandments as God gave them, not as people want to write them down. The Torah has the first commandment as I gave you above, which absolutely identifies God as the only God, the one true God, and the only God that brought us out of slavery. And we are not to have any images of him or any form of worship (including praying to) any other gods or persons, as well. That includes not just statues or paintings of God, but the image of Yeshua (Jesus) on a cross or the representation of a saint. And this includes the worship of sports figures, celebrities, or possessions.

Too many people have been taught too many things that are wrong, or at least, not with the impetus or meaning that God intended us to have. And the only way to know what is correct and what is not is to know the Torah, which is the most accurate rendering of God’s instructions. All the other books of the Bible, from Joshua through Revelation, do not have God speaking directly but only have people quoting what God told Moses. Even Yeshua’s teachings are taken from the Torah and the rest of the Tanakh, which is what God told the prophets to say, but was (in almost every case) said in the prophets own words; everything after the Torah is divinely inspired writing but not a divinely dictated statement.

My ministry is a teaching ministry. I am not going to tell you what to believe, but I will tell you where to find the information that you need so you can make an informed decision. I will also give you what I believe to be the correct meaning of God’s word, although I always warn and admonish you to read it for yourself. I try to hear the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) leading me to proper understanding, but I am a weak and sinful human being, so I do not trust myself to always be correct. That is why you need to not just hear, but test what I say. And, of course, that means to test what anyone tells you, whether they have a Doctorate in Theology or just read the Bible for the first time.

God can give different people a different understanding of the same passage, and each can be correct in its own way, so never accept anything from anyone at face value.

Let me finish with this: please remember that what you believe is your choice, and yours, alone, and you will be held accountable for it. So choose wisely.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share me out. I welcome comments and only ask that you be nice.

Tonight begins the day of rest so I wish you all Shabbat Shalom, and until next time… L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Parashah D’varim 2019 (Words) Deuteronomy 1-3:22

This is the final book of the Torah. Moses recalls all that has happened and also reviews all that is to be done when the people enter the land that God has promised them.

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There are three separate discourses in this book. The first recounts the past 40 years in the desert. The second discourse deals with the code of laws regarding worship, government, the penal code, and domestic life. The third discourse is all about the enforcement of the laws, with special attention paid to both the blessings for obedience and the punishment for disobedience. At the end of this last book of the Torah, we are told about the death of Moses.

In this parashah, Moses begins with retelling how he appointed men over the tribes to help him with judging and managing of the people. Next, he reminds them of how when, coming to the land, the people requested that Moses send out spies before they enter in. He relented to their request, which he said seemed good to him to do, but when the spies came back they gave a bad report which caused the people to rebel and refuse to enter. He reminds them that God sent them into the desert for that generation to die, and talks about their travels through the desert. This parashah ends with Moses telling of the destruction of Og and Sihon, the kings on the East side of the Jordan and his giving of their land to Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh.

Something is in here that was not in the Book of Numbers, where we first are told of the spies going into the land. The very first line of Numbers 13 says that the Lord told Moses to send out 12 men, leaders from each of the 12 tribes, to reconnoiter the land. Now, Moses is saying that it wasn’t God’s idea, but the people who suggested sending spies. Does that mean that the Torah is wrong? No, it doesn’t, but it does mean that an understanding of Hebrew and the cultural idioms of that time will result in a better understanding of the Torah.

The (alleged) order by God to send men uses the Hebrew words shelach lecha, which mean “you send out”, or in a more ancient form, “send for yourself.”  In other words, God was saying, “If you really want to, then go ahead and do it.” He wasn’t prohibiting this, but he certainly wasn’t commanding it. He was going along with what Moses decided was a good idea.

Now, in this parashah (Deut. 1:29-34) some 40 years later, as Moses recalls this, he chides the people for not having trusted in God in the first place. Yet, didn’t Moses allow these spies to go? Didn’t he think it was a good idea? So, even though the people initiated what turned out to be a rebellion and caused them to wander for 40 years in the desert, Moses was just as much at fault. Being the leader, whatever the people do he is, ultimately, responsible for. In this case, he wasn’t just responsible but an active participant. He also showed a lack of faith in God by allowing the spies to go. He should have simply said, “No! We dun need no stinkin’ spies! All we need to do is to trust in God, go in and take the land.”

What at first seemed to be something God commanded turns out to be what the people wanted, and what Moses agreed to allow despite God not confirming it. This is why I said before it is so important to read the entire bible, and it really, REALLY helps to know Hebrew (and Greek, I suppose, for the New Covenant writings) as well as the cultural norms of that time in order to have a proper and complete understanding of God’s word.

I am not saying you need to be a biblical Hebrew scholar or have to learn Greek in order to understand God and the Bible. I am saying that we all need to do more than just read the Bible, we need to study it. We need to have a library of biblical study materials, such as a Chumash, a Tikkun, the Interlinear Bible set and a good Concordance. These will help us to see the many diversified connections within the word of God. Hermeneutically, the entire Bible (Genesis through Revelation) is homogeneous, and no one part contradicts any other part. However, there are many places where it seems to be contradictory, which is why we need to study and examine everything in the Bible using good biblical references and study materials. Only through a detailed and thorough examination of the passages in the Bible can we find the real meaning of God’s word, and overcome the superficial misunderstandings that a cursory reading can sometimes result in.

Of course, the first and most important thing to do is pray for the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to guide you and for God to show you what he wants you to know. Secondarily, use these study guides, Who knows? Maybe what God wants you to know he wil show you through one of these other books.

If you don’t have the study materials I listed, please consider investing in them. You don’t have to get them all at once, but when you use even just one of them, you will find more substance and have a better understanding of God’s word than you will ever get just by listening to someone else tell you what it means. Besides, how do you know that they even know what they are talking about? How many misinterpretations and outright wrong teachings have been promulgated throughout the centuries?

Each one of us will come before the Lord on Judgement Day, and each of us will have to account for what we have done during our lifetime. Those who have Yeshua as their Intercessor will be saved, but those who have not obeyed God’s word will have to stand on their own, and when they say “I was just doing what I was told to do”, I suppose God might reply with something like this:

“I understand you were doing what they told you to do, but it’s what I say that counts! And I told you everything you need to know in the Torah”

So, don’t miss out on what God is saying because you don’t want to invest the time in really getting to know the Bible. What you might be missing just may be the one thing that saves you from destruction.

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I wish you all Shabbat shalom and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Mattot 2019 (Tribes) Numbers 30:2 – 32

In the previous parashah, Moses had been reviewing the sacrifice requirements that were to be followed when the Israelites entered the land God promised to them. In this parashah, he begins by explaining the rules regarding when a vow is made. God had told Moses he was to die, but before that was to happen God had one more thing for Moses to do: destroy the Midianites.

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Moses took 1,000 warriors from each tribe and sent them to battle with Midian, in retribution for the sin they caused Israel to do at Ba’al-Peor. The 5 Midianite kings were killed, as well as all the males, and much booty was taken. The warriors had saved alive all the women and children, but this made Moses mad because these were the same women who, under the advice of Bilyam (who, by the way, met his end during this battle), had seduced the men of Israel into sin.  These captives were all killed, except for the virgin women. In accordance with the Torah, the men stayed outside the camp for 7 days, undergoing the cleansing ritual God had proscribed.

This parashah ends with the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh asking to remain on the east side of the Jordon because they were cattle farmers, and that land was perfect for raising cattle. Moses said that unless they first go into Canaan and do battle with the other tribes to conquer the land, they could not separate themselves from the rest of the people. If they are willing to first fight alongside their brothers, then once the land was conquered they could return and have their own land outside of God’s Promised Land. They agreed to that, and Moses gave them his blessing to remain on the east side of the Jordon.

For the record: although we are told that half of the tribe of Manasseh stayed on the east side of the Jordon, in Numbers 26:29-32 we learn there are actually 8 sub-tribes of Manasseh and only 6 of those remained on the east side.

The subject of vows, specifically how a man (father or husband) is allowed to void the vow of a woman, would certainly be an interesting topic to discuss, given this age of empowerment of women and equal rights. However, although I am not a coward, I am not going there because I do have something else to discuss.

Rueben was one of the tribes that rebelled against Moses and Aaron in the desert, under the influence of Dathan and Abiram. Gad and Reuben had, I am sure, become close to each other because they were next to each other in both the camp and the march for 40 years. Now, Reuben, along with Gad and Manasseh, seem to be continuing on this path of rebellion.

Moses acquiesced to their request only on the condition that they fight alongside the other tribes to do as God had commanded them, and to make sure that the other tribes are as well settled as they would be, before they could completely settle in their own land, outside of God’s Promised Land.

And that brings me to the point of today’s message: they chose to reject God’s Promised Land because they liked what they saw and wanted it now, instead of trusting that God would provide for them later. Yes, the land there was favorable for cattle, but there were places in the land of Canaan that would have served just as well.  Their choice to live where they liked, instead of doing as God had told them and trusting in him to make sure they would be provided for, demonstrated more of the same faithlessness that resulted in the death of 250 of their leading men. Eventually, they would be conquered by the Assyrians and disseminated throughout the world.

How often do we think that what we have now is better than what we might get? It’s like being on Let’s Make a Deal, and Monty Hall is asking if you want the prize you can see before you or the one in the box that Johnny is bringing down the aisle now? I suppose that Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh felt that way when they saw the beautiful cattle land before them and had no idea what was on the other side of the Jordon. They decided not to trust that God knew what they needed and was able to provide it for them, so they said they will stick with what they have now. Even though they were told that they would be on their own, they decided to take what’s here now instead of trust in God for later.

How often do we do that? How many times have we accepted what we see in front of us and settle for something that may not be what God has planned for us because it is easy and here, now?  Why wait for something that may or may not be better when I see something I like that is here and available to me right this second?  This is what God meant when he warned Cain, all those years ago, that sin is crouching at his door and he must conquer it. The here and now is what this world loves, but God is not subject to linear time and his timetable is based on what he knows is best for each of us. We want it now, and God wants us to have it when we are ready for it- BIG difference! And you know what? His timing is always perfect, and ours is almost always wrong.

The message today is that we must trust in God and not trust in our own feelings. We are, by nature, impatient and when we want something that we know God hasn’t provided, we are asking for trouble. We may not want to follow all the instructions in the Torah because they are harder than listening to our religious leaders who tell us we don’t have to follow them all. We may see a baked goods display at a banquet during Hag haMatzot (the seven days of no leavened products after Passover) and decide that we can forego the fast just for now because we can start it again tomorrow.  Or maybe we will accept that invitation to go somewhere or do something we know we really shouldn’t be doing, but it just sounds like so much fun we can have and I am really bored right now.

Selfishness and pride will always lead us to the same place…Sheol. God knows what we need, God how much we need, and God knows the perfect time to give it to us. We, on the other hand, have no idea what we need, and whatever we think we need we want more of it than we really do need. And we want it N-O-W!!

Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh rejected the promise God gave them to provide a land rich in good things and accepted what they saw in front of them which they liked and wanted to have now. We all have that same potential to reject God’s good things promised to be given to us later for the good things the world offers us right this minute.

We think in terms of immediate satisfaction whereas God’s plans for us are eternal.

Let me finish today with this question: why settle for a moment of pleasure when you can have an eternity of joy?

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I wish you all Shabbat shalom and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Pinchas 2019 (Pinchas) Numbers 25:10 – 30:1

At the end of the previous parashah, we read how Pinchus killed the Israelite man and the Midianite woman who were making a spectacle of Moses. Now, starting in this reading, God makes a covenant with Pinchus that his descendants shall all be high priests, because of the zealousness of Pinchus, which stayed God from destroying the sinful Israelites.

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Next, God orders a new census, and the results show very little difference in the overall number of the 12 tribes from 40 years earlier when they first came out of Egypt, although some tribes were significantly less, specifically Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Ephraim, and Naphtali. Note that when encamped and marching, Gad, Simeon, and Reuben were always next to each other; when I read this I remembered how Yeshua said a just little hametz in the dough spreads throughout it.

The new census confirms that all those who rebelled against God by refusing to enter the land when they first came to it were now dead.

There is one member of the tribe of Manasseh named Zelophehad, who never had a son but had 5 daughters, and they ask Moses for a ruling regarding their inheritance. God tells Moses that when a man has no sons, his daughters will be allowed to inherit the land, but they must marry within their tribe so that the land does not revert to a different tribe.

God has Moses climb a mountain to observe all the land and will soon be gathered to his people. Moses’s first response is not a plea for himself, but for the people to have a leader. Even when he is told he will die, his first thought is of protecting and caring for the people. God tells Moses to give some of his authority to Joshua by laying his hands on him in front of the entire assembly, and also before Eliezer the Cohen HaGadol.

The parashah ends with God reviewing the rulings regarding the daily and festival sacrifices.

When Moses laid hands on Joshua, symbolizing Moses giving his authority to Joshua, the Hebrew word used in that verse (Numbers 27:18) is:

וסםכת

which is pronounced “v-sam-chat”; from this word is derived the Hebrew noun Samicha (pronounced sah-me-cha), which in the Talmudic age meant to be given the rights and duties of a Rabbi. It is, in a way, a form of ordination.

We hear this word used in the Gospels. Not the Hebrew word, of course, because nearly every New Covenant Bible is based on Christian interpretation, but that word is what the one they used when the Pharisees asked Yeshua who had given him the authority to teach.

This occurs in Luke 20:2:

And spake unto him, saying, Tell us, by what authority doest thou these things? or who is he that gave thee this authority?

And in Mark 11:27-28:

After their return to Jerusalem, Yeshua was walking in the temple courts, and the chief priests, scribes, and elders came up to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you the authority to do them?”

The word that the Pharisees, Scribes, etc. would have used would have been “samicha”, which is what they were given when they were appointed to their position of authority. They were basically asking, “Who died and left you in charge?”

Yeshua’s answer was the typical Jewish response, which is to answer a question with a question. He never admitted to his authority coming from God, which should bring up the question, “Why didn’t he?”

I am not sure, but my guess is that it wasn’t yet time for his true mission on earth to be revealed. He told his mother when she asked him to help with the wedding that ran out of wine (John 2) that it wasn’t yet his time, and he also told his Talmudim (Disciples) not to tell people that he is the Messiah when that revelation was made by Kefa (Peter) in Matthew 6:13. Just the same way that when he healed people, many times he told them not to tell anyone that he did it.

Do we, as “Born Again Believers” also have a samicha? Do we have the authority to interpret the Bible, to preach, to advise or to explain to others about the kingdom of God?

I would say, “Yes, we do!”, because we have the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) indwelling in us and as such, we get a direct message from God. Well, we should- not everyone who professes to be “saved” acts the way they should. Myself, included. Yet, still and all, we are human and will never be as righteous as Yeshua was, so what we can do is take the samicha we have through the Ruach and use it as best we can, recognizing the tremendous responsibility we have to teach accurately and correctly.

And therein lies the biggest problem of all- how do we know we are teaching correct interpretation and leading people towards God, and not away from God? Even with the best intentions, we can deprive people of their salvation by leading them not to heaven but to Sheol with improper interpretation and wrongful teachings. As the old saying goes, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

My answer to that question is …I don’t have an answer. I can only say that the best way to be secure in your own knowledge is to read the Bible, listen to people who demonstrate through their actions they are God-fearing (words mean nothing- people don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do) and ultimately ask God to show you what he wants you to learn from his Word. The same passage can have different meanings to different people, and each person could be correct in their own interpretation.

What I would also recommend, as I finish this message, is that when you hear someone tell you what something from the Bible means, and whether it sits well with your spirit or doesn’t sit well with your spirit, go to the Bible and verify for yourself what is written, and ask God to show you what he wants you to know from it.

I chose to listen to read the Bible daily, pray for understanding, listen to others, verify it in God’s Word, and decide for myself rather than just accept what I hear from someone simply because they have a samicha. My ministry is all about making sure that you know what you are doing and saying because we will all be held accountable for our actions, and for my money, I want to make sure that whether I am right or wrong, it isn’t because I was too lazy to check it out when I had the chance.

Thank you for being here, and please don’t forget to subscribe to both the website and my YouTube channel, as well (the link is above.)

I have been running a Gofundme campaign to raise money to buy bibles and Bible study materials for three rural Ugandan Messianic synagogues who have asked me for help, so if you haven’t donated I only have about a week left before I have to close this campaign, and I am way short of my goal, so please donate something. Here is the link:

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I always welcome comments and only ask that you be nice.

Shabbat shalom and until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Balak 2019 (Balak) Numbers 22:2 – 25:9

The Israelites had just defeated Og and Sihon and were encamped outside the border of Moab. The king, Balak, has emissaries go to Bilyam (that is the correct pronunciation of his name), a sorcerer of renown, asking that he come and curse the Israelites so that they will not be able to defeat Balak’s armies. Bilyam, who is a sorcerer and user of divination (both of these considered sinful by Adonai) sacrifices and calls on Adonai for guidance. And Adonai answers him! He tells him not to go, and Bilyam obeys, sending the emissaries back to Balak.

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This isn’t acceptable to Balak, who sends more important men with promises of greater reward. Bilyam tells this second group of emissaries (Numbers 22:18):

 And Bilyam answered and said unto the servants of Balak: “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord, my God, to do anything, small or great.”

However, after saying he can’t go against God, for some reason he again asks God if he can go, and God says if he is called then he can go. On the way, God sends an angel to prevent Bilyam from going, and although Bilyam doesn’t see the angel, his donkey does. The donkey avoids the angel no less than three times, the third time (with no way to pass) the donkey stopped and dropped to its knees. As Bilyam beats it with a stick, the donkey is given the power of speech by God and talks to Bilyam.  Then God allows Bilyam to see the angel, sword drawn and ready to kill, and Bilyam asks forgiveness for going and says he will return.

But God has a better plan and tells Bilyam to go, ordering him to say only what God gives him to say. Bilyam arrives, and three times instead of cursing the people, he blesses them. This infuriates Balak, who sends Bilyam back without pay.

The parashah ends with the Israelites being seduced into sin by the Moabite women, and in the midst of a plague sent by Adonai to punish them, Pincus, the son of Aaron, stays the plague by killing an Israelite and Moabite woman who were flaunting their sinful relationship right in front of Moses.

Later in the Bible, we learn that this seduction (which was designed to make the people sin and have God destroy them) was the brainchild of Bilyam!

There is just so much in here to work with. However, I am going to do something different than I usually do with this parashah, and talk about Bilyam’s seemingly schizophrenic personality.

Let’s first look at something Jeremiah will say hundreds of years from this time, in Jeremiah 17:9:

 The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceeding weak- who can know it?

Bilyam is a study in contradiction. He comes from Mesopotamia, the same place where Abraham came from, and we know that Bilyam knows of God because (as we saw above) he refers to God as “the Lord, my God.”  This makes him a “Believer”, yet he is also a known sorcerer and diviner, which God strictly forbade his people to perform.

Like Bilyam, our desires, our thoughts, and our actions are not always completely in accordance with our stated beliefs. We may be cruel to our loved ones, yet gentle and compassionate to a pet. We may worship every Shabbat and be “Born Again”, but we sin during the week and figure it will be OK because we will ask for forgiveness at services later that week.

Human beings are not perfect (oh- really? What a surprise!) and we will often do that which we don’t really want to do, and more often than not, not do what we want to do. Hmmm….doesn’t that sound like someone else you know? Maybe that nice Jewish tent-maker from Tarsus? (Romans 7:18.)

Bilyam did as God said when he first asked to go with the king’s men by refusing to go. But the second time they came back Bilyam was told that if the men call him, he can go but speak only what God tells him to say. Yet, after giving Bilyam the OK to go, God sends the angel to stop him, even if it had to kill him.

Why did God say go if he didn’t want him to go?

The Talmud says that audacity may prevail even before God. It states that Bilyam’s insistence to go wrested from God his consent to go, but God also warned him of the consequences, saying that he finds no pleasure in the destruction of sinners, but if he (Bilyam) is bound to go, then go. In that case, it makes sense: God already said not to go, but Bilyam insisted that he really wanted to go, so God said, essentially, “If you are determined to go, then go but remember that I already told you not to go and when I say something, I mean it!”

With all due respect to the Talmud, I have a different idea. I believe that the second time Bilyam asked if he could go, knowing that God already told him these people cannot be cursed because they are blessed, God said that if Bilyam was being summoned by the king by royal order, then he can go.

In other words, if Balak was giving a royal command that Bilyam must go to him, then God would give permission to go only so that Bilyam does not disobey a royal order. However, this second group was not ordering him to go, they were still just asking. There was no royal command to appear, so when Bilyam went, he was really going because he wanted the reward and intended to do as Balak asked, going against God’s commandment not to curse the people. That is why God sent the angel to stop him.

We all have the potential to be obedient and disobedient, based solely on our innate selfishness and iniquity. This is something that must be conquered, but to conquer it we must first take possession of it. What I mean is that we must recognize our own natural sinfulness; when we recognize what we are (know thyself?) then we can recognize what we are doing. How many people do you know that do something terrible without really realizing what they are doing? They speak cruelly to others, they act without compassion, or they steal and cheat but excuse it away. They do these things, and many times think they are really a nice person.

Since I have been saved by Messiah Yeshua, I say: “I used to be a sinner that rationalized my sins; now I am a sinner who regrets my sins.”

This confession of mine demonstrates what I am talking about- we were sinners who were saved when our sins were forgiven, but we are still sinners!! Being forgiven for our sins means being forgiven for the ones we have performed, not for anything that comes after. We are required to repent and ask forgiveness for every single sin we commit throughout our lifetime. There is no automatic forgiveness clause in the “Sinner’s Prayer.”

The lesson to learn from this parashah is that we are all sinners at heart, and only when we can own up to our own iniquity, realize that it is always there, and always will be there whether we are “saved” or not, then we will better be able to recognize when we do sin. We will also know when we want to sin and thereby work (with God’s help through his Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit) to overcome that sin.

One sin at a time. We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less; pray for forgiveness, ask for help in recognizing sin before you do it, and settle for one less sin each day.

That is my daily prayer, and I think it is a good one.

Thank you for being here. Please (as I always ask) subscribe and my campaign on Gofundme to send Bibles and Bible study materials to three Ugandan Messianic synagogues will be shut down next Friday, July 19 so if you haven’t donated, please do so now. Here is the link:

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Tonight begins the Shabbat, so Shabbat Shalom!

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!