The Finite Can Never Understand the Infinite

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Can you imagine what 1,000,000 candles would look like if they were all lined up in a row?

Can you picture in your mind what 1,000,000 dollar bills would look like if they were stacked one on the other?

I can’t.  My mind, although it is often in a state of flux, is still pretty sharp and yet I cannot picture what one million anything looks like. I cannot “see” it or imagine what it is.

This is the problem we have when we try to imagine or understand the awesomeness of God. He is so far out of our range of understanding, so distant from the furthest edge of the Bell Curve of our knowledge that we can never even come close to knowing what he knows. Or understanding why he does what he does. Or even understanding the things he tells us about.

In Judaism we have three types of laws:

  1. Mishpatim– these are the laws we can understand that are mostly “civil” laws, such as do not kill or do not commit adultery;
  2. Edot– these are ceremonial laws regarding the rites and practices such as rules for Shabbat and the sacrificial system; and
  3. Chukim– these are laws God gave to us that seemingly have no rationale at all. For instance, changing the sacramental bread every week or not wearing clothes of different cloths.

Human nature almost demands that we know the “why” of something. When someone asks us to do something, how many times is our first response, “Why?” This is no different with God because I hear and read, over and over…and over…so many people “explaining” why the Kosher laws are better for us or why we need to wear Tzitzit.

The answer I give is this,” Because God said so.”

That is all the answer we need, and the easiest answer to understand. I will go even further than this and say that if this answer isn’t enough for you, then you need to start asking yourself what your faith is based on?  If we say we have faith, but can’t accept God’s commandments without understanding the reason why we should, then we aren’t faithful at all. How can I say that? Easy!- if you cannot accept what God says without knowing the reason why, it is because you do not trust that God knows what he is talking about. That is an a priori truth, as far as I am concerned.

When we trust someone we do what he or she suggests, especially when we are unsure of what we are doing. We seek out confirmation that we are doing the “right” thing in the “right” way. I saw this when I was a Salesman: so many people needed to see articles from Consumer Reports or Better Business Bureau ratings or letters from customers justifying using my company because we did such a great job. Did they really think I would show them complaint letters? And I realized that these people had no faith in their own decision-making ability but total faith in other people’s ability to decide. In a similar way, so many congregations are constantly preached to about God’s love and compassion and forgiveness, all of which are good things, but when these are the only things that are talked about, the congregation is not given the chance to trust God as they should. Talking only about love and forgiveness is like third party confirmation- the people hear all about what they want to hear but they don’t learn what they need to know. And what they need to know is that God is there even when troubles are all around them. The leaders of God’s people must be trusted, and that trust must be turned to God.

We can (and should) question our human leadership, and we can ask God why (he can handle that), but we must not ask God to prove why what he says is something we should do. That is disrespectful and demonstrates lack of faith. Yes- ask God why things happen; Yes- ask God why whatever you are going through is happening to you; Yes- ask God why he is allowing something to happen. You can always ask God why he wants you to do something but you should never ask God to prove to you why you should do it.

Can you see the subtle but very important difference here? It is OK to ask God to explain something to you but it is not OK to demand he prove what he says to be something you agree you should do.  When God says do not eat pork, there are those who can explain why pork is unsafe using health studies about pork and Trichinosis, and others will use that to explain why we don’t need to obey that law anymore because of the USDA. In both cases, what we are doing, really, is trying to understand the “why” of Gods’ law so that we can justify obeying it.

My point is that the moment we try to understand something in order to justify it we are showing distrust in God. There is absolutely no reason why we need to understand any of God’s laws- NO reason! He is God, and that is all the justification “why” anyone needs; anything more than that and you are being faithless, obstinate, stiff-necked and rebellious.

So do yourself a favor- just forget trying to understand why when it comes to God and his commandments. It’s a useless and impossible thing to do because the finite (us) can never understand the infinite (God.)

Parashah Emor (Speak) Leviticus 21-24

This parashah continues to teach the relationship between the Priests and the holy things, as well as rules regarding cleanliness when approaching, and appropriate condition of sacrificial animals for, the Altar.

Chapter 23 is the chapter that defines the Festivals of the Lord. These are the only Holy Days, as I define them, in all of Judaism or (frankly) any religion that professes to worship the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. All other days of celebration are holidays- meaning they are man-made, not God declared. That is my personal way of identifying the difference between, say, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah: the former is a Holy Day, the latter is a holiday.

What I want to talk about today is not the obvious “juicy” topic- Chapter 23-but one of the last lines in this parashah. The final verses recount a non-Israelite cursing God and being stoned to death for it, and God giving us the following commandment regarding how we are to administer justice in Leviticus 24:22:

“Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for the home-born; for I am the Lord your God” 

If you were to ask me what is the one, defining difference between Christianity and Judaism, with respect to the bible, I would answer with this verse. That’s because, as a general rule, Christianity has rejected their need to obey the Torah, citing the forgiveness given by Yeshua (Jesus) as over-riding the Torah.

There is a truthfulness to the statement that Yeshua is the means of our salvation; it is by forgiveness of our sins, which His sacrifice made possible.

But that doesn’t mean Torah is not important, valid or necessary anymore. Yeshua, Himself, confirmed Torah observance throughout His ministry and after every healing, and His Talmudim (Apostles and Disciples) that followed Him also confirmed Torah in their teachings. It has been the misinterpretations and wrongful teachings over the past 20 centuries that have caused such a rift between Christianity and Judaism with regard to the ways in which we are to worship God.

One rule for everyone, one law administered justly to everyone, whether a natural Jew, or a convert, or a non-Believer, or an agnostic, or a Satanist: all people are God’s children, and under God’s authority, and as such are to be treated the same with regards to the administration of God’s justice, which He defined and outlined in the Torah. And why should everyone be treated the same way?  Because “I am the Lord, your God“, meaning that there is one God, and what He says is right for someone, is right for everyone.

Obey the Torah, or not obey the Torah?: that is the question. The answer is: both. Huh? Both? מה עשה אתה אומר? (What did you say?)

Both, because we are all commanded to obey the Torah, but none of us can (completely) obey the Torah. As hard as we may try, still, we fail. That is when we sin (when we fail to obey, whether by attempting and failing, or by simply not even trying), and that is when the forgiveness for sinning (assuming you are repentant) is made available. It is available because God loves us all enough to want to forgive us, and Yeshua’s sacrifice made it possible to be forgiven without having to obey one part of the Torah; specifically speaking, the laws involving bringing our sacrifice to the Temple, which doesn’t exist anymore.

Yeshua told us that those who sin and teach others to sin would be better off if they threw a millstone around their necks and jumped in the river. I am sorry to say that teaching others to sin is exactly what “The Church” (meaning most of Christianity) has been doing since Constantine’s day. The prominent teaching that “Torah is for Jews and Christians have the Blood of Christ” is, essentially, teaching people to ignore the Torah. And the next step is to be unrepentant about ignoring the Torah.

Now, it’s bad enough to ignore God’s commandments, which is a sin, but to go as far as to teach to sin and not concern yourself about it?;  that it is OK to ignore God’s commands?; that you are going to heaven no matter what the Torah says? Well…woe be to you, Church Fathers, for you have sinned and caused others to sin. And when we sin and don’t care that we sinned, isn’t that is being unrepentant? And if you are unrepentant, do you really think you will be forgiven?

This is a scary thought for me, and I try to obey Torah. If you are reading this and have been taught to ignore Torah, then this thought should give you reason to change your underwear!

I am not saying everyone has to get circumcised, or start to eat according to Kashrut (Kosher) laws, or wear Tzit-tzit (although none of that would hurt anyone), but I am saying that we should realize God has told us how we all are supposed to live and worship Him, and that even if we do not follow all His commandments, we should try to. Eating ham will not send you to hell and refusing to eat ham will not guarantee heaven, whether you have accepted Yeshua or not. As I have said many times, Yeshua’s sacrifice has made forgiveness possible, but we have to be repentant, we have to perform T’shuvah, and for our repentance to mean anything we have to demonstrate it’s legitimacy through our good works. Obeying Torah as best we can is as good a “good work” as you can perform.

It boils down to this: one God with one set of laws for everyone; one Messiah providing the only means of salvation for everyone; and what you will do is your choice.

Just don’t forget that God will hold you, alone, responsible for your choices- “just following orders” will not count for anything come Judgment Day.

Parashah Re’eh (behold) Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17

This parashah, as with the entire book of D’Varim (Deuteronomy) is a retelling of all the things that have happened over the past 40 years, with a reordering of the commandments, rules and regulations under which the people of Israel must live. These rules cover how to properly worship the Lord and how to properly treat each other.

We can go over these rules again and again, and as often as we review them, we break them. It’s almost as if we think we need to learn them so that we can be certain we know which of God’s laws we are breaking.

Oy!

I am not going to review the rules this parashah contains, mainly because of what I just said- we all know what we are supposed to do. Even sinners who sin because they like to- they know what they are supposed to do, too! As strange as it may sound, I respect their honest rejection of God more than the hypocrisy of many “Christians” who claim to love the Lord but are really judgmental, self-important and bigoted.

It’s real simple- God loves us, and because He loves us He wants us to be with Him for all eternity. But there’s a problem with that- He is holy, pure and perfect, and from a spiritual viewpoint we’re a little lower than whale poop. You can’t store snow in a hot oven, can’t drive a car looking in the rear view mirror (at least, not very far), and you can’t have sinfulness associated with God.

He’s perfect and we’re …well…we’re “us”- you can see how that throws a monkey wench in the plan of salvation, can’t you?

The Torah was given to the children of Israel because God loved them and wanted them to be with Him. The Torah, if followed perfectly, would allow us to be in total communion with God. He also loves everyone else, and Israel was never meant to be the only people to be with God; they were chosen to be a nation of priests who are responsible to teach the other nations, by example, how they should act. When God gave the Torah to the Jewish people it was both a blessing and an obligation.

Unfortunately, the Jewish people did not live in accordance with Torah, and even though their example was more what NOT to do than what to do, the other nations chose to follow the wrong example. The truth is that the commandments and regulations that God gave the Jewish people, which were to be taught to all the nations, were screwed up by the Jews and then screwed up even more by the nations. The “religions” that came from Judaism have devolved into so many factions and have so many different rules of their own, many of which are directly in opposition to what God says to do (read my book), that it’s hard to believe any of them really know who God is or what He wants, at all.

That’s why it took Messiah Yeshua’s sacrifice to enable us to have our sins washed clean so we all can be with God. Where human nature made Torah (alone) unable to bring anyone into communion with God, Messiah made it possible for everyone.

That doesn’t mean Torah is useless or done away with! The laws in there are still valid because grace from sin is not license to sin. You can believe Yeshua is the Messiah- big deal! Every demon in hell knows that for a fact- they’ve seen Him in person! And you can ask for forgiveness but that doesn’t do it- you need to ask and mean it, and show that you mean by living it! You need to walk the walk- talking the talk is not enough. And when you are ready to walk the walk, the Torah is your only road map.

Salvation is free to have with the asking, but keeping it will be costly. You need to give up hedonism, you need to pay your way with good works that represent your heartfelt desire to live as God wants you to. You need to give up your desires for worldly things and want only the spiritual things.

And you also need to keep your feet on the ground with your head on your shoulders- too many people get so “spiritual” they can’t relate to anyone, especially new Believers. They scare the pants off of them and are like the crows that come and eat the good seed that is on the ground before it can take root.

Yeshua told His disciples to be as gentle as doves and wise as snakes- we all need to be that way. We need to have spiritual eyes and realistic heads.

It really is just this easy: love God and love each other. Treat God as He says you should and treat each other as you want to be treated.  You won’t ever be able to do it perfectly, but the more you do these things, the better you will become at it and the easier it will become to do them.

Salvation is yours for the asking. It is very easy to get, and very hard to keep. No one can take your salvation away from you, but you can throw it away.

Here’s a word of advise- don’t!

 

Parashah Ekev (because) Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25

This parashah has Moses delivering the same message to the Israelites repeated three times; essentially, Moses is telling them that “God has your back!”

He retells about the 40 years in the desert, the way God handled the Egyptians (and will be able to handle the Canaanites, just the same way), about how God gave the tablets to Moses, about how God fed them in the desert (in 8:3 Moses tells us we do not live by bread alone) and provided water from the rocks. He reminds them how God punished them for their rebellions, but only to test them and make their faith stronger. Moses reminds them of the sin of the Golden Calf, and how he often had to beg God not to destroy the people.

This message- God protected you, God fed you, God brought you to this land, yet you have constantly rebelled against Him, causing you to suffer. And, despite all this, God has always forgiven you and as long as you obey Him He will continue to watch over you, as He has for the past 40 years- is repeated three times throughout this parashah. But do you think they remembered?

Moses also warns them not to fall into worshiping the idols of the people they are to soon conquer or they will be forsaken by God and ejected from the land.

Moses also tells them, in no uncertain way, to never get so comfortable with the wonderful things they will have when they are settled in the land that they start to think they actually deserve it- not so. They are to remember that they are there only because God loved their fathers and keeps His promises.

Throughout this book Moses pounds into their skulls, over and over and over, that God will take care of them so long as they obey Him. Over, and over, and over….and over!

It didn’t seem to do any good, did it?

And have we learned from this? Every bible-based religion that has come after the Jewish people, from Catholicism to Protestantism to Methodism to whatever: every single one of these religions that profess to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have not only made all the same mistakes that the Israelites made, but have made worse ones, yet! They have not just ignored the Torah, they have taught that the very living Torah, Jesus (Yeshua) told them to ignore it! They teach that the Torah is only for Jews, and they only need the blood of Christ to give them freedom from sin.

Yo, Bro- hate to tell ‘ya, but that blood was shed so that you could be free from sin; it wasn’t shed so you could be free from Torah. Yeshua taught from, of, and about the essence of Torah, and His Talmudim (Disciples) after Him did nothing but confirm Torah. The only difference is that the Gentile converts to Judaism (that is what you were in the First Century when you accepted Yeshua as your Messiah) ) were not held as strictly accountable to every law in Torah AT FIRST when they accepted Messiah Yeshua. AT FIRST– that means they were given 4 restrictions (Acts 15:19-21) only as a start to learn all the laws in Torah. It is clear in the bible that the Elders expected these converts to Judaism to pick up the rest as they heard the Torah preached and taught in the temple.

We have heard from God, we have seen His wonders, we have known His punishment and we have received His love and forgiveness. Everything that we ever needed, need now or ever will need, God has taken care of for us. Yet, we still rebel, we still forget, we still do wrong.

OY! Was Mashuganas!

It’s all really simple- God gave the Torah to the children of the Patriarchs so that they could learn from it how to live, and as such, be an example to the rest of the world. When that didn’t work, He gave up His only son to provide the ultimate Get Out of Jail card for us, but that did NOT overrule Torah. It simply provided another means of salvation that the Torah couldn’t- not because Torah is unable to do so, but because we are unable to follow Torah.

This parashah holds the same message for us that it held for the children of Israel before they entered the land God promised them- do what is right in God’s eyes, remember how He cares for you, remember how unworthy you are of that care, be grateful and show your gratefulness through obedience.

God’s got our back and we should be humbly grateful to Him. Our gratitude should be demonstrated every minute of every day by following, as best as we can, the instructions He gave us about how to worship Him and treat each other.

Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? So, then, why can’t we do it?

Texas Supreme Court made the correct decision

WHAT??? Steve- are you saying that you are pro-abortion?

No. I am not for abortion- it is murder. What I am “for” is common sense, and to expect that a court of law in America is going to uphold a godly position is not sensible.

From a strictly “civil” point of view, it is illegal to force or coerce someone to make a decision that regards their individual rights. In America, like it or not, a woman has a legal right to have an abortion, within the limitations of the law. Those limitations are based partially upon the premise that the abortion does not risk the health of the mother. The Texas Supreme Court said the laws they ruled against were not designed to protect the health of the mother, but simply to make getting an abortion legally more difficult. That is a coercive measure which impede’s a woman’s personal rights, and it is illegal.

Again, from a strictly legal viewpoint, the court made the correct decision.

We, as Believers, cannot expect to have a government formed by humans to be a godly one. If you do, you’re a fool. In fact, as Believers, we should not want any man-made government; we don’t want a representative republic (that is we have in America-if you thought it was a democracy, technically it isn’t), we don’t want socialism, communism, despotism or dictatorships. What we want is a Theocracy- a government that is led by God.

After the Exodus, God ruled the people, with divinely appointed prophets to be His representatives on earth. God ruled through the Prophets, and we saw how He empowered them with miracles and wisdom. This is the Theocracy that all Believers should want and be waiting for.

When Yeshua returns to reign, we will have what we want.

But that is not what we have now, and don’t think that this is a recent event. Read 1st Samuel, Chapters 9 through 12. Samuel appoints a king, which is what the people have been craving. And in Chapter 12, after Saul is established as king and Samuel is ready to go the way of all things, he really lets the people have it. He tells them, in no uncertain terms, how horrendous a sin they have committed against God by asking for a king, and how they will suffer for putting a human over them instead of God.

Since then, history has proven Samuel correct.

In the meantime, we are bound by Torah, by Yeshua’s command, and by legal statute to honor and obey the existing government. All those in power are there by God’s approval, and they will perform His will, whether they know it or not, sooner or later. God’s plan is the one that will survive and be fulfilled.

If you are expecting the United States government, whether federal or civil (meaning state) to initiate and pass laws that are in accordance to God’s laws regarding the rights of the unborn, then all I can say to you is…get real, People!” Governments that are formed by humans will have human laws and be based on human desires and emotions. Godly things, you know, like compassion, respect for others, love, fairness to all, and respect for the Torah- those things have no place in human-formed government. Oh, yeah- we make a big stink about them, talk like we mean to have them and we are all about fair and just, but when it comes down to it, well…you decide. Do you think that our system of justice is honoring the Torah or ignoring it?

When the Jews came out of Egypt, totally under the command and totally obedient to God alone (well, maybe not totally but usually?), we enjoyed living under His sovereign rule and had His divine protection. During the times of the Judges (about 5 Centuries or so after Joshua died), the book of Judges tells us that men did whatever they saw as right. It wasn’t pretty.

Then, as I referenced above, Samuel is told by God to anoint Shaul (Saul) as king: this was the first step to kicking God out of our lives.

Moving forward a few thousands years, we have many religions, all trying to kill each other, and we have many states and countries with different forms of government. Those that said they were for God and wanted to do God’s will are represented by the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Nazi party (yes, the Nazi Party- the belt buckles of the Nazi uniform said, “Gott mit uns”, which translates to “God is with us.”)

Historically, governments that said they were godly were just the opposite.

Today we have kicked God pretty much out of everything- out of the schools (no prayer allowed), out of the courthouse (take those 10 Commandments down- they are religious and we have separated state from church) and out of our families. Today when Jews marry someone of a different religion, it is the Jew that is usually converting. The “Nuclear Family” has done just what nuclear devices are designed to do- blow up. Eating dinner together around the table and sharing the day’s activities is a past relic.

And, as the Texas Supreme Court has upheld, people can legally kill their children. It reminds me of God commanding us not to worship Molech: the sacrifice to Molech, a god of the Semites, was to throw a young child, alive, into the fire. We may not be throwing our children into the fire, but we aren’t that far off- we are still killing them, just sooner than the ancients did.

The world is godless, as it should be- that is, if you believe in what Revelations tells us will happen. I see such horror and destruction- not just of things and people, but of spirit, justice and compassion. Our children grow up stealing cars and murdering prostitutes on the way (video game) or destroying and killing in war (video games, again.) They see violence, satanic beings that are really “okay”, and sexual impropriety every day on the TV and in the movies, and they have become inured to the horror of it all.

They are being prepared for the enemy to rule them.

This is God’s plan, people- this is what is supposed to happen. It ain’t nice, it ain’t pretty, and it is going to get worse- MUCH worse: be prepared to be persecuted if you worship God.

Don’t expect to see justice and fair treatment in the world; at least, not the kind God wants.

The bowls are in the hands of the angels, and the seals are being torn off the scroll. We are going through it, we are about to experience it- can’t you see it coming?

The End Times prophecies aren’t prophecy any more- they are current events.

Empowerment or Excuse

Shabbat Shalom. I usually have a Parashah message on Friday but I glanced at an article in the morning paper and feel so strongly about what it said to my spirit that I am going to rant and rave today.

The article was about a group of women who wanted to protest the backing by the Governor of Florida of a law that will remove a lot of funding for abortion clinics by forcing the doctors to have stricter regulations on their licensing, as well as stricter demands for inspections of clinics and restrictions on how fetal remains are handled. The government says this law is to improve the quality of the existing clinics and protect the health of the women using them; the protesters say it will just close more clinics and that the Governor is a hypocrite.

It came to me, after all these years of Roe vs. Wade conflicts, that the real reason women who choose to have sex outside of marriage want abortion clinics has nothing at all to do with their empowerment or rights regarding how they treat their body.

Let me say this, first, about right to life: I do not believe anyone should have sex if they are not married (and I mean to each other- sex between married people is still wrong if they are each married to someone else.) Let me also say that I was just as guilty of this sin, called fornication, as anyone else ever has been or will be. Before I was saved I had no problem with it, at all; in fact, when I was single (and before I knew the Lord) I not only was interesting in nailing anyone who was willing, but their marriage status was not a concern. That is different now, of course.

The bible is absolutely clear that fornication is a sin- it is not implied, or hinted at, or hidden in between the lines- according to Strong’s Concordance there are some 36 references throughout the bible against fornication. It’s a sin, plain and simple. What I really can’t stand to hear is the childish and irresponsible whining of people who choose to commit a sin and then say that it isn’t really a sin.

DUH!! If the bible says it is a sin, it is a S-I-N; what part of , “This is a sin” don’t you understand? Yet those who do what they want, feeling (to some degree, to their credit) a level of remorse, will not admit to their sinfulness and weakness but instead will rationalize it away by saying that what they did is not really a sin. At least, it shouldn’t be.

I took your possessions but that isn’t really stealing. I hit you in the face five times but that isn’t really assault. I shot you thirty-five times times in the head, but it was an accident.

Oy!

Fornication is a sin, and the abortion clinic argument is not about empowerment- it is about excuses. Abortion does not support a woman’s right to control her own body- it is a way to avoid the accountability of making a mistake. It is her “get out of jail (pregnancy) card” that she can throw on the table when her sinful actions have resulted in a new life that she is not willing to be responsible for.

The demand to allow abortion is, at it’s core, the demand for the right to commit murder and thereby avoid the consequences of a sin.

How can you avoid the consequence of a sin by committing another one? Any sin, no matter how “big” or how “small”, is a sin in God’s eyes. Fornication (from a human viewpoint) is less of a sin than murder;  murder made it to the Top Ten Hit list of sins, whereas fornication is low on the charts. That said, abortion clinics are the way that someone who chooses to fornicate can avoid the consequence of that action.

I do not want you to think that I am judging those who have sex outside of marriage- as I said, I was as guilty in my youth as anyone today. I am not judging people who fornicate when I call it a sin: I am simply defining what the bible says their actions are.

What I am ranting about is the irresponsibility and immaturity, both emotionally and spiritually, of people who demand to be allowed to have an abortion when they have failed to take the proper precautions or who become pregnant and don’t want to deal with it.

Didn’t your mother ever tell you when you first learned the attraction of matches: “If you play with fire you will get burned.”

Sin is a fire: it burns us, it consumes everything it touches, and it leaves scars. Yeshua can remove the scars and without Him, we have no hope. Abortion cannot remove the scars.

What this boils down to is sin if you want to- that is your choice. But stop trying to cover it up and excuse it away. If you fornicate and get pregnant, then deal with what you have done. I have heard from people that have had that “accident” and found they love that child as much, if not more so, than the “planned” ones. If you want to fornicate, do so- you were given, by God, free will to choose to commit sin. And you were also given, by God, the sacrificial death of His son to let you escape the eternal consequences of your sin. Mind you- I said the eternal consequences, not the physical, current consequences. A murderer can be forgiven murder through Yeshua, but he or she will still have to go to jail. Sin always has consequences on Earth which we cannot avoid.

I believe that abortion clinics are wrong and should be outlawed; not as a means of denying women the right to control what they do with their own body, but because they represent an escape from accountability. And, yes, I also believe that legal abortion is state-authorized murder.

We purposefully sin but don’t want to be held accountable. Fine. Live that way, make your excuses, use science or philosophy, make arguments about rights to control your body and empowerment, but it is all a smoke screen and misdirection. Abortion has nothing to do with empowerment or rights- it is all about lack of accountability and escaping the consequences of one’s actions.

If you fornicate and get pregnant, do your duty to the life you created and then give the baby up for adoption so someone who is not blessed with fertility can raise the child with the love you don’t have for it. Abortion is wrong, adding sin upon sin, and abortion clinics are state-authorized slaughterhouses. It’s that simple, it’s that easy to understand, and it’s that terrible.

Stop rationalizing your sin and own up to it, people! At least have the guts to admit you made a mistake and then show the maturity and strength of character to finish what you started.

Real empowerment doesn’t come from excuses- real empowerment comes from personal accountability.

Parashah Tatzria (She Delivers) Leviticus 12 and 13

These two chapters continue in the sections of Leviticus that deal with cleanliness and uncleanliness. Chapter 11 started with food, Chapter 12 deals with the cleanliness of a woman after giving birth and Chapter 13 with skin disorders, specifically leprosy (in Hebrew it’s called Tza’arat.)

Chapter 12 says that a woman is unclean after giving birth just as she is considered unclean during her time of Niddah. Chapter 13 says that when someone is suspected of having Tza’arat, they must go to the Cohen to have him inspect it, he will determine if it is Tza’arat or not (the chapter outlines the diagnostic methods), then (if and) when the person is declared clean, what sacrifices are to be made to allow them back into the community and the Temple.

I am not going to discuss the specifics of what is discussed in these chapters because there is a more important issue that these mitzvot (laws) have generated over the centuries. That issue is about our questioning the reason for these laws. We ask why these laws are given; we ask if they are for health reasons (physical) or for religious reasons (ceremonial); we even ask if they are valid or necessary now that we have better standards of inspection for disease with regards to meat being sold and better methods of disinfection and disease control.

What I want to know is why?- why do we think we have the right to question God? What makes us think we can ask God “Why” He gives us laws, and even worse, question if God’s laws are really necessary or valid anymore.

I am not saying  we shouldn’t ever question God. That’s just silly. Job questioned God (of course, the answers fell on him like a ton of bricks, but he did get answers), Gideon questioned God, Moses questioned God, Abraham questioned God, ….get the point? The point is that all these great men questioned God, but not in a manner that raised doubts about whether or not God had the right to do what He did or whether or not what God said was valid or really necessary.

There are good questions for God, and there are bad ones. The good questions could be:

  1. Why do bad things happen to good people?
  2. What do you want from me? How can I better serve you?
  3. When will you answer my prayers?
  4. Who is the Messiah?

Then there are the bad questions:

  1. Why do I have to do this?
  2. Is this law really necessary anymore?
  3. Who are you to tell me I have to do this?
  4. If I am saved by the blood of Jesus why do I still have to obey these “ceremonial” laws?

Can you see the difference between these questions? If not I didn’t do a good job of giving examples- what I want to show is that we can question God about His plans and what He is doing and why He does things but when we question the validity of His laws or His authority to issue them, we are out of line.

Shaul (that nice Jewish boy from Tarsus who makes the tents) addressed this in his second letter to Timothy, 3:16:

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

And in the Gospels, John 14:21  Yeshua tells us what it means to love Him:

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them

And Yeshua also told us in Matthew 24:35:

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away

All these scriptures point to the fact that God doesn’t change, and His word doesn’t change, and if we love Him we will do as He says not because it’s healthy, or for some arcane religious ceremonial need, but because we love Him. We do what He tells us as a labor of love, not as a forced activity to prevent going to hell. We do what God says without questioning His authority or reasons for giving these laws to us because He is God and we are not; He’s the boos, He’s the Man! He’s the one who leads, we are the ones who follow.

Isaiah 45:9 also addresses this issue of wrongful questions to God :

Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’

We need to do what Yeshua said we should when He told us to change and become like little children, otherwise we will never enter the Kingdom of God (you can look this one up yourselves.) What He meant was that we need to accept, unquestioning and faithfully, what God tells us to do. How many times in the Tanakh do we read how Moses told the people to obey God to receive His blessings and life? Not just for them, but for their children, too!

I ask God a lot of questions, but I never ask Him to justify what He does or what He has told me I should do. That is just plain disrespectful, and certainly not faithful.

Do you love someone a lot? I mean, “fall down on your face and kiss the ground they walk on” love them? If you do, and they asked you to do something for them, would you ask them why you had to?

God gives us laws, regulations, ordinances and commandments- what’s the difference? Who cares? If you love Him and trust Him to tell you to do only what is good for you, then faithfully obey, do it as a labor of love, and trust that whether you can understand why God says to do something or not, He always tells us what to do because it is good for us.

Thessalonians 4:7-8  says this:

God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you

Question God all you want about how to do those things He says to do better; question God all you want in order to serve Him more completely; question God all you want to help better understand His plans for you. But don’t question His authority, don’t question the validity of His commandments, and certainly don’t question God’s right to tell us what we should do.

God is our Father, we are His children, and children should do as their parents tell them. Proverbs says that when we teach our children what to do they will always return to that path. Believe it when I tell you that God only wants what is best for His children, and show that trust and love by doing as He says without questioning why.

 

Parashah Shemini (on the eighth day) Leviticus 9 – 11

This parashah starts with Aaron, who has been undergoing sanctification for the office of Cohen HaGadol for the past 8 days, beginning his duties as High Priest. Also his two oldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, were to start assisting him.

The problem is that the boys had been drinking (implied by what is commanded in 4:8-11) and offered up incense and fire that was not authorized, and which they had no right to do.

It cost them their lives, as God sent fire from heaven to kill them.

Aaron was told not to mourn, and to continue his duties so that more anger from God was not brought down on him, too.

Chapter 11 is the chapter for Kashrut, the Kosher laws and regulations regarding cleanliness. It makes sense to me that the cleanliness laws would come after the laws about sacrifice- after all, once you have presented your sacrifice and been cleansed, the next thing you need to know is how to stay clean.

What we need to understand from this parashah is how important the position of leadership is within the Jewish world, and even more so, in God’s sight. The devastating punishment that Abihu and Nadab suffered for their insult to God and disregard for His laws was commensurate with their position within the community as leaders and representatives of God to the community.  In James 3:1 we are told….no, actually we are warned….that being a teacher is a position not to be taken lightly:

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

This warning from Yacov can be traced back directly to this parashah. Moses told Aaron not to show any signs of remorse or mourning because Aaron was God’s representative, and as such to even imply he was unhappy about God’s judgment in this case would be a form of denying what God did as just. And since Aaron not only represents God before the people, but also acts as a representative of the people before God, if he was upset and unhappy with God’s judgment then the people would follow suit. And, as we have seen (and will see often during their 40 years in the desert) the people suffered for their distrust and rejection of God’s commands and judgments.

Performing ministry is a form of teaching; indeed, it is teaching the most important thing there is to know: who Messiah is and how to attain salvation and eternal peace. Therefore, ministry workers must be above-board and always represent themselves well. If you talk to people about God, then you represent God. If you tell people about being a Believer, then you represent all Believers.

And the non-believers will throw that up in your face every time you so much as sneeze without covering your mouth!

We will stumble, we will misrepresent God, and we will screw things up, royally. We may represent God’s goodness and love, but we are still human and, as such, will do stupid things. That is no reason to stop trying. A good lesson to teach anyone is that when you fall, brush yourself off, get back up, and keep walking. Maybe the best lesson we can teach about God is not all the wonderful things He has done, but to show how He strengthens us in the midst of our weakness. Just like Shaul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9:

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

We are, each of us, a member of the body of Messiah and we must do what God has placed us here to do. Seek out your gift from God and when you find it, use it. Invest the talents He has given you so that when you meet Him you can give Him back more than what He gave you (read the parable about the Talents in the Gospels.)

Be careful, be aware, but don’t be frightened or put off by the extra responsibility you have as a teacher or leader in the community- it is a great way to grow and have your spirit matured within you. Being in charge is a terrible, and terrific, responsibility, yet if you perform your duties with love, compassion, respect and humility you may be surprised to find yourself being supported by those that you are to support!  When I was a Platoon Commander in the Marine Corps, I would lead the PT (Physical Training) and we would run, as a platoon of 30 men, for miles and miles. I was always in the lead, setting the pace. I had been asked more than once how I can carry all those men with me, and I would reply that I wasn’t pulling them, they were pushing me.

Leadership in God’s community and teaching others about God is a position that is held in high regard by those you teach, is a position in which you are held doubly responsible by God for what and how you teach and live, and makes you a target to be constantly attacked by those who refuse to believe. Standing on the horizon your shadow extends farther than those who are in the valley. Be aware, be careful, and be strengthened by knowing God is not just watching you more carefully, He is strengthening you more completely.

As you do more and more for God, and humbly allow Him to work through you, the responsibility of your position will become heavier and heavier, yet at the same time His strength in your weakness will make that burden easier and easier to bear.

Parashah Tzav (Order) Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36

This parashah covers sacrifice and ordination rules, but that is not what I want to talk about today.

The Torah is more than just a “book”- it is a narrative (that archaeological discoveries are proving to be historically accurate), it is a Ketubah (marriage certificate) between God and His people, it is a national constitution which outlines and sets the foundation for a nation, and it is a penal code.

It also tells us who God is, who we are, how this all started and how it will all end.

Leviticus is the most legalistic (if I may use that word) book of the Torah. In this book we are told all the laws, commandments, regulations, and ordinances that we must obey in order to receive the blessings of God and salvation. It separates the Jews from the Gentiles, sin from righteousness and death from salvation. Although Torah is often misinterpreted to mean “Law” when it really means “Teaching”, Leviticus is a very legal book. It not only covers laws regarding sacrifice, but also health code, restitution for theft and negligence, penal codes outlining the punishments for these crimes (which, by the way, was at that time the most humane of all penal codes) and generally how we should treat each other.

Too many Christian teachings are that the Torah is not valid for Christians, but how can they say that when Torah outlines how human beings are supposed to live together? Does the blood of Jesus Christ overrule common decency? Does the sacrifice of the Messiah mean that we don’t have to obey laws? Does the promise of salvation through Jesus’s death mean that we can ignore everything else God told us to do?

I don’t think so! Christians are always saying, “Do as Jesus did” but there are almost none who do. Hey! Get with the program, Folks- what Jesus did was to follow the Torah! He kept every single commandment, and (like it or not) He also taught everyone else to keep every single commandment. That’s right- He never once preached anything against or in lieu of Torah.

Jesus is called the Living Word, is He not? Well, what “word” do you think He is? Torah! That was the only “word” that existed, that was the “word” He taught from, that was the “word” He taught about, and that is the “word” He was. Jesus was Torah in the flesh.

Yeshua (that’s Jesus’s real name, in case you didn’t know) also said that a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand. If that is true, and He is the Living Torah, then for Him to preach or teach or even suggest doing anything against or in opposition to all that is in the Torah would be preaching against Himself, and if that is what He did then His kingdom cannot stand.

But that can’t be, because His kingdom will always stand, our words will fade away but His words will never fade away, and He built His kingdom on a rock (Kefa) that the gates of Hell cannot overpower.

Read Isaiah 40:8; read Daniel 2:44; Read 1 Peter 1:25; for that matter, read any part of the Bible where it talks about the kingdom of God and you will see that God will place all kingdoms under the feet of the Messiah, and that he will rule forever.

It is impossible for us humans to be perfect according to the Torah. That is why Yeshua had to do what He did, so that we could have this eternal “Get Out of Jail Free” card. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore the Torah. The Torah is where God tells us how He wants us to live: how we are to worship Him, how we are to treat each other, what is good for us, what is not good for us, and how to live long, fruitful, and joyful lives.

Why would anyone want to ignore that?

If you have been told that you are saved by the Blood of Jesus and that the Jews are saved by their Torah, you have been led down the path to destruction. Torah is for everyone and everyone who professes to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, not to mention accept His son, Yeshua, as their Messiah and Savior, is required to honor and follow the way God says we should live, which is (you guessed it!) in the Torah.

Here is the Torah, in a nutshell:

  • Genesis and Exodus take us from the beginning of existence to God giving us His rulings and instructions regarding how we are to worship Him and live together.
  • Leviticus specifies and explains those instructions.
  • Numbers is the historical narrative of the things that happened while in the desert
  • Deuteronomy is a recap of everything up to just before they enter the Land God promised, ending with the promise of the Messiah to come.

Read Leviticus. It is somewhat long, a little boring in parts (I can’t believe how many different things that skin disease can infect) and very detailed, but it is important to know because, well, it is what God tells us to do. It is what Moses did, it is what the Prophets did, it is what (most of) the Kings of Judah did, and it is what Yeshua did.

And it is what we should do, too!

Parashah Mishpatim (Ordinances) Exodus 21 – 24

This parashah gives us many of the civil laws we are to follow, starting with laws regarding slaves/bondsmen. It is interesting to note that there is only one Hebrew word for both slave and bondsman, indicating that the system of slavery we think of (that within the Roman, Greek and American/European cultures) is not what slavery was to God, or for the Children of Israel. The system of slavery we know is based on the premise that the slave is property and can be treated (or mistreated) in any manner to which the owner wants to act. A Hebrew slave was a human being with rights, and the Hebrew who was purchased as a slave by another Hebrew was to be treated with respect and compassion. As with the other rules regarding the Shemitah year (the 7th year), a Hebrew who had been purchased as a slave was to be set free.

The other ordinances in this parashah create the basic penal system for the Israelites: it deals with restitution for theft, mistreatment of other’s property, marriage and dowry regulations, punishment for murder and punishment for manslaughter, restitution for accidental injury, kidnapping, matricide/patricide, witchcraft and moral offences.

We also hear from God how we are to act in accordance with testimony in court, the dispensing of  justice, and finally, as is done throughout the Tanakh, an exhortation to remember and obey these laws. If we remember to do as God tells us, and we do so in accordance with His commandments, God will bless us and protect us. If we fail to obey, well….not so good for us.

This parashah ends with Moses going up the mountain to meet with God and receive the Ten Commandments from God.

What can we say about the laws and regulations of the Torah that hasn’t been said already? How many times do we need to reflect on how the Torah established a system of laws and commandments that honored God and people, with truth, justice and (no, not the American Way)… reverence?

Yet, despite how we are told we must treat each other with respect and honor, we fail to do so. I guess that is because what looks good on paper doesn’t always translate as well into reality. The sinful nature of people, the lure of the worldly pleasures, and the influence of the enemy of God surround us: they are in the advertisements we see in all the media, the lies we are told by those we trust in positions of authority, and even in the relationships we form with family and friends.

I heard someone once say that humanity is a wonderful thing- it’s the people that screw it up.  How true.

Yeshua said that the most important commandments of all are to love the Lord your God and to love each other. On these two laws pivot the Prophets and all the other writings in the Torah.  This parashah is part of “all the other writings” that Yeshua referred to. When we think about it, the “Golden Rule” is all we really need to obey in order to follow the ordinances found in this parashah (for your edification, the Golden Rule is not from the New Covenant writings but is only referred to there- it is found in Leviticus 19:18.) If we love God we will want to do as He says out of love, not out of fear. We should treat others out of love, also: if we can’t do so because of our love for people then we should do so because of our love for God.

Personally, I really don’t like people. I do ministry, I teach others the Word of God, I am a member of the leadership where I worship, but I really don’t like people.

That doesn’t stop me from doing my very best to treat all people with respect and compassion because I want to honor and worship God (another item on my list of “To Be’s” – compassionate. Having compassion for others is hard for me to do.) My love of God forces me to love people. Begrudgingly, I confess, but God sees the heart and values what is in our heart as much, or more, than what we do. My heart needs work, and I think we all could confess to that one. So, I do what God wants me to do because God wants me to do it. One day, perhaps, the Ruach (Spirit) will so fill me that I will truly want to be loving to all people, as God wants us all to be. Maybe.

Until then, I will do as God says to the best of my abilities, and constantly try to make my “best” better. These laws and commandments are all part of the Torah that establishes a nation. The Torah is more than a book of history and commandments: it is a national constitution, a penal system, a Ketubah (marriage certificate) between God and His people. And the people God marries are not just the Jews- it is anyone who chooses to worship Him.

If you choose to worship God, and you accept His Messiah as your Messiah, then these laws are for you. The Torah is your constitution, it is your User Manual for how to worship God, directly and indirectly.

Remember what Yeshua told us in Mattitayu 25:40-45: whatever we do to others, we do to Him. David said in Psalm 51 that when he sinned against others he sinned first and foremost against God- in fact, his sin was against God, and God alone. If there is any message that we need to learn from this parashah, it might be this:

What we do unto others, we do unto God.

That one needs to sink in because it is really important to remember.