Parashah Chayei Sarah 2018 (The life of Sarah) Genesis 23:1 – 25:18

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This parashah begins with the end of Sarah’s life. Abraham buys a burial cave and after the mourning period, he has Eliezer, his servant and guardian of all he owns (like Joseph was for Potipher’s household) go back to Abrahams’ old village to find a wife for Isaac from amongst Abraham’s own family. God goes ahead of Eliezer and Rebekah, the daughter of Abraham’s brother, Nachor, is the one God has chosen. After she is brought back and joined with Isaac, the parashah ends with a note about the other sons Abraham had through his second wife, Keturah- 6 more sons. Finally, we are told of Abraham’s death and burial. The last lines of this parashah give us the names of the sons of Ishmael, who become 12 nations.

I need to confess some pridefulness on my part in that I have always thought that the numberless amount of descendants that God promised Abraham would beget (Gen. 15:5) are the Jewish people. I never really thought of anyone else that came from Abraham’s loins as being part of that number. Oh, yes- I recognized that the Arab peoples were brothers, way, way back somewhere since they also came from Abraham, but I always thought the descendants that counted were just the Jewish people.

Lately, I have had discussions with other people who claim they are one of the tribes sent into the Diaspora and are just now tracing themselves back to their Israelite tribe. The 10 tribes that have been dispersed throughout the world have also lost their origins, having been assimilated into the culture and bloodlines of the geographical locations to which they went. And these locations are worldwide, from Asia through Africa, in Europe- all over!

We all know that Abraham had 2 sons, Ishmael and Isaac- one became the Arab nations and the other the Jewish nation. But do you recall that in this parashah we are told of 6 other sons that Abraham had? He gave them all gifts and sent them on their own way, and since his first two sons grew into nations that numbered (and still do) in the millions, it only seems reasonable to believe that God’s promise to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the heavens would also be fulfilled through these other 6 sons. That means that we know of at least 24 tribes from Ishmael and Isaac, alone, and who knows how many more tribes from the other 6 sons?

Over the past 5 Millennia, that’s a heck of a lot of people! Even when we consider that some of the Semitic tribes have been destroyed, such as the Assyrians and Babylonians, that still leaves plenty of descendants.

My point is that God’s promise to Abraham may not have been restricted to just the Jewish descendants. There may be more “sons and daughters of Abraham” around than I ever thought there were. My “special” condition, being a Jewish descendant of Abraham, may not really be oh-so-special, after all. And I confess I felt a little let down by that realization; on the other hand, after I thought it over a bit more, I started to think this is a good thing.

God promised Abraham his descendants would be more numerous than the stars, more than the grains of sand on the beach, and when we think about that promise as including the adopted children of Abraham, that fits in perfectly with what we are told in the Bible.

John 10:16– “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice, and they will become one flock with one shepherd” 

Gal. 3:29– “For if you belong to Messiah, you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise” 

Isaiah 56:6-8“Also the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, everyone who keeps from profaning the Sabbath and holds fast My covenant; even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” 

Psalm 86:9– All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and they shall glorify Your name.

Hosea 2:23– “I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘You are my God!'”

That verse in Hosea is, contextually, dealing with the regathering of Israel, but the adopted sons and daughters will be the regathered, as well.

There are many other verses throughout the Bible, Old and New Covenants, which indicate God’s plan to bring all the nations- not just those that are the direct descendants of Abraham- into his salvation.

I have met many people over the years, especially those that have seen my testimony, who have stated they wished they had been born Jewish. Others have come to me or have posted that they are just now finding out that their grandparents were Jewish (many European and Sephardic Jews hid their Jewish lineage for fear of being persecuted or killed.)

The truth I have now accepted is that being a “Jew” is not so special, after all, since I have many brothers and sisters who are all children (either directly or adopted) of Abraham, throughout the world. And they are, indeed, as numerous as the stars in the heavens.

The conclusion I have come to is this: being a Jew by birth is not what is special. What is special is to accept Yeshua as my Messiah and to live my life as my Messiah did, worshiping the Holy One of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through obedience to his Torah.

Parashah Behar (Mount) Leviticus 25-26:2

Even though the English title is “Mount”, the translated Hebrew text is ,”And the Lord spoke to Moses IN Mount Sinai, saying:…”. I just wanted to point this out because I think it is interesting that from Moses’s view (since he wrote this) he wasn’t on the mountain, but inside it. Perhaps there was a cave or a sheltered area God provided for Moses? After all, he was there for 40 days and nights, and to provide a sheltered area for him to sleep and be comfortable in would have been the least God could have done, right?.

This parashah is all about Sabbath for the land and Jubilee Year. Just as we rest from our work every 7th day, the land rests every 7th year. And every 7th year of years (in other words, the beginning of every 50th year) there is a Jubilee Year. In that year all people and property revert to their God-given owners.

I say “God-given owners” because Joshua divvied-up the land among the 9 1/2 Tribes (remember that Gad, Reuben, and the 1/2 tribe of Manasseh settled on east side of the Jordan) after they had conquered Canaan. Because the land was divided among the tribe by lot, meaning God ordered who got what, clearly it was “God-given.”

In the 50th year, on the 10th day of Tishri, which God declared as the Day of Trumpets (known today as Rosh Hashannah) the Jubilee Year begins, although it isn’t officially announced until Yom Kippur.  In the Jubilee Year all property reverts to the original owner, and all slaves are set free. There are also rules regarding how to pro-rate the value of the lands and slavery work results so that when Jubilee Year comes the people who were buying back or selling back would receive a fair value.

Let’s start with the Sabbath year for the land. The law about leaving the land untouched for an entire year means that in the 6th year you would need to have enough produce to be able to sustain your family and all your possessions (animals and slaves) for three years: the 7th year you wouldn’t be farming or planting, you would be living off what was done from the 6th year harvest. Then, in the the 8th year,  you would have to plant, and you wouldn’t see that harvest until the 9th year.  So the 6th, 7th and 8th years you are living off the 6th year harvest. Now, God promises that He will provide enough for 3 years in the 6th year, so obeying His 7th year Sabbath commandment is the same test of faith He gave us in the desert. Back then, we were to gather one day’s worth of manna for 5 days, and on the 6th day we were to gather enough to last through the Sabbath, because no manna came down on the 7th day. If you gathered more than you were supposed to, the manna turned bad overnight, but what was gathered on the 6th day stayed good for 2 days. This miracle from God, which He had provided to His people for 40 years in the desert, would be applied to the Jews living in the Land, as well.

From what we read in the Tanakh, though, it appears the commandment regarding the Sabbath yer for the land was rarely obeyed. Ezekiel mentions it as one of the reasons for the upcoming destruction, and in the next Parashah (Leviticus 26:32-35), where God tells us all the punishments He will bring upon us for disobedience, He warns us about what will happen if we disobey giving the land it’s Sabbath year:

I myself will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled.  I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins.  Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.  All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.

The letter Jeremiah wrote to the Israelites in captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29) he says that the captivity will last 70 years, which would indicate that the land had not had it’s Sabbath rest for nearly 490 years prior to the Babylonian exile.

We have been given free will to choose what we will do, and when it comes to our relationship with God, that free will allows us to find peace and joy forever, or to turn from God, disobey and ruin our eternity. God will help and direct us to make the right decision, but He will not force us to accept it. The people had seen His provision for 40 years in the desert, and also the miraculous salvation from enemies He provided throughout the times of the Judges; even after we sinned by asking for a king, God still provided for those kings that were righteous before Him. All this provision, all these miraculous events, have been passed down in the oral history (the Tanakh was not completed until, at the earliest, 450 BCE, although it may have not been until much later, around 140-116 BCE- scholars can’t agree) and was known by all the people living in the Land, well before Jeremiah’s time.  And today we have even more evidence of God’s provision, most importantly the evidence of Messiah, Yeshua.

Yet, we still disobey, we still ignore, we still reject (as a people) God and His commandments. Oy! And worse, still: many, if not most, are not even repentant! They make excuses and give justification (from a human viewpoint) for their disobedience. When we make excuses instead of asking for forgiveness, we are not repentant. And lack of repentance means that the forgiveness we ask for will not be given. God is wonderfully merciful, but He isn’t stupid: if you don’t really feel sorry and rueful for the sin you commit, I believe you can ask all you want, call on Yeshua, jump up and down and recite the Torah backwards, but it won’t help.

God doesn’t care about what we do to be forgiven, He cares about how we feel when we ask for forgiveness:

1 Samuel 15:22– Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

Psalm 51:17– The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

God wants us to repent of our sins, not just go through the motions of asking for forgiveness without truly being repentant.

To pull it all together, we need to be aware that God will provide for us when we obey, and when we reject Him and His good laws, He will make sure that what He wants done will be done, from anything as simple as withholding blessings, as to complete desolation of our land.

God’s will WILL be done, one way or another; I don’t want to speak for you, but as for me, well, I want to be in God’s will as much as possible. Being outside His will is not a good place to be.

Parashah Lech Lecha (walk) Genesis 12-17

This parashah is known as the History of the Patriarchs. We read how Abram (later called Abraham) was called by God. How he went to Egypt where he gained wealth, how he took care of his deceased brother’s son, Lot. We learn of the separation between Abram and Lot due to both of them having such wealth in cattle, and we see how Abram allowed Lot to choose the best land.

Lot is captured when the 5 kings attacked Sodom and Gomorrah, and Abram and his 300 men save them. This is where we first meet Melchizedek, the righteous king of Salem and the High Priest (Cohen HaGadol), a precursor to Yeshua .

Sarai (not yet Sarah) gives birth to Ishmael through her handmaiden, and God promises Hagar that Ishmael will also be a prince of many tribes, and that he will always be at war and in conflict with his own brothers.

We end this reading with God’s promise to (now called) Abraham that he will bear a son through Sarai (now called Sarah), and they shall name him Isaac, and through Isaac God’s covenant with Abraham will be fulfilled.

The sign of this covenant is the circumcision, which Abraham performed on himself, Ishmael and all his men the very next day.

Wow! The stories alone are wonderful, and demonstrate God’s majesty and power, as well as the weaknesses of humanity. If anyone should ever doubt the truth of the bible, all they have to do is ask themselves this: if the bible is supposed to make God and all those who worship him look like powerful and saintly people, why then do they act the way they do?

Abraham pimped his wife to save his skin (twice!); Lot moved next door to the most sinful and disgusting place in the world; Sarah asks her hand-maiden to bear a child for her, then when she does Sarah throws her out into the wilderness to die, along with her son.

These are wonderful people? These are the saintly Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish people? They sound just like you and me!

That’s the reason the bible is verifiable and believable- because these people are just like you and me! That is also why these stories are so wonderful and empowering: because the people in the bible are like you and I, that means you and I can be chosen by God to do great things, just like they did.

The part of this parashah I want to discuss, and this will be brief (no, really- it will be!) is right at the very beginning: Genesis 12: 2-3, where God is talking to Abram and tells him:

I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

God made the Jewish people His vessel for blessing the world. That is what being the “Chosen People” means, to be chosen to bring God’s blessings to everyone. And the two greatest blessings of all that God gave the world through the Jewish people were the Torah, and Yeshua ha Maschiach- Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

I have written before about the blessings the world has received through the Jews, the number of Nobel prize winners who are Jewish (a percentage that is far greater than the percentage of Jews in the population), the many wonderful performers, the writers, the poets, the financiers (no stereotyping now!), and many other things.

And I have also written about how God’s promise to curse those that curse the Jews has been proven to be trustworthy: Pharaoh in the time of Moses,  The Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Philistines, Spain, the Nazi’s- all demolished or reduced to nothingness. Not even a shadow of their former glory left to them, those that are left at all.

And for those that have blessed the Jews, well, America is about the only country that has done so, but we are moving away from that and soon will be cursed and judged, just as all the other nations will be (and are being judged, even now.)

These two lines in Genesis are the beginning of the Jewish people’s influence on the world and God’s plan of salvation, and they are also the end of it. Judgement is not coming, it is here! The countries that have cursed the Jews are being cursed, the countries that have forsaken God and rejected His Torah are suffering punishment (global warming, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunami’s, war), and it is getting worse every day.

Here is the simple lesson that God is telling us in this parashah: choose sides.

On the one side, you can choose God by accepting and supporting His people (chosen to save you), accept the Messiah He sent to bring you back into communion with Him, and obey the teachings (the Torah) that He gave you to know how he wants to be worshiped and how He wants you to treat each other.

On the other side, you lose. Everything. You lose blessings while you are alive, and you lose heaven on earth and eternal peace after this life is over.

When you look at it, you have to ask yourself: what the heck is wrong with people? Why would anyone give up eternal joy for a short-lived reward of hedonistic pleasures that will never really satisfy?

Because we’re stupid, that’s why.  The definition of stupid is one who is lacking common sense. Rejecting God and His path to salvation is, well, stupid. There is no better word for it, and even Shaul (Paul) used that word in Galatians: 3:1 (some interpretations use the word “foolish”, but I believe the correct word is “stupid.”) Those who reject God, reject His Messiah, reject His Torah and refuse to support the Jewish people and Israel are just plain stupid!

And as Forrest Gump said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” So if someone out there doesn’t appreciate being called stupid, then stop acting stupid!

I am not calling you to give up your life as it is and run an underground railroad from the former Soviet Union countries to help Jews escape and make Aliyah (return to Israel)- we have organizations already doing that. Ezra International, Bridges for Peace, and others like Jacobs Hope, helping Jews when they get to Israel.

I am not asking you to convert to Judaism.

I am simply asking that you think about your choices; God has given you free will and intelligence so you can think about your choices. Think about how much better your life will be if God is blessing you, how much better your life will be when you are helping others (treating them as you would want them to treat you), how much more peaceful you will feel knowing that you are promised eternal joy.

I spent 2/3 of my life rejecting all this, and I can remember why I did. It seemed to make sense at the time, but it was, now knowing better, truly senseless. And I can tell you this, unequivocally: I am so very, very glad I came to my senses!

 

 

Does God change His mind?

Yes, He does. How can anyone say He doesn’t?

He changed His mind when Abraham asked Him to spare Sodom and Gemorrah if He found just 10 honest men there. He changed His mind when He allowed the enemy to harass Job (first it was don’t touch Job, then He allowed Job to be touched.) He changed His mind when He sent Jonah to Ninevah (after they repented). He changed His mind about destroying the Israelites after their sin with the Golden Calf.

And that’s just off the top of my head. I’ll wager I could find a few more times He changed His mind.

But then how are we to trust in salvation? If God changes His mind about those things then He can change His mind about His gift of salvation, too, right?

Of course He can…but He won’t. How can I be so sure? Not because of the fact that God changes His mind about things, but because of which things He changes His mind about.

God never has gone back on His word regarding the good things He has done for us: He has honored His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; to Moses,; to David; to Solomon, etc. and so on and so on.

As the Psalm says, His love endures forever. Fortunately, His anger doesn’t.

God changes His mind (sometimes) about destruction and punishment. Even when he continues through with His righteous and just punishment/judgment, He does so with mercy and compassion. It is always (and only) with regard to judgment and punishment that God has changed His mind. Everything else He says He will do, He does. Everything else He said He would provide, He has provided. Everything else He says He will make happen, He has made happen.

We can trust God totally to do whatever good He has said He will do for us, and also hope eternally that He will be merciful and flexible regarding His judgments upon us, all of which we always deserve.

There is nothing wrong about changing our minds, and (in truth) the people who don’t change their minds are the ones not to trust. I once read that good managers are the ones that can make decisions quickly and change them slowly, and bad managers take a long time to make a decision, and then change their minds quickly.

God is certainly a good manager. He has changed His mind only for certain times when He said He would punish the sinners, but never about the promises He has made regarding our land, salvation or His protection and love. And absolutely NEVER about anything in the Torah. The followers of Replacement Theology should remember that next time they profess that God has abandoned the Jewish people. Hasn’t happened, ain’t happening now, and ain’t evah gonna happen.

Those who are repentant, have accepted Messiah Yeshua as their Messiah and who have done T’shuvah in their heart will receive all those good promises about salvation; so long as they maintain their proper attitude and continue to worship God as He said we should, continue to move forward spiritually in maturity, constantly working towards the goal.

Don’t be concerned that God has changed His mind about judgement- He will judge the unrighteous and unrepentant as they deserve, and even they might still receive mercy. Not absolution, not getting off free, but merciful judgment. And those who are faithfully obedient and continue to work towards the goal will be rewarded with every good promise God has made about salvation.

You can bank on it because that’s how God rolls.

 

Parashah Mikketz (It came to pass) Genesis 41 – 44:17

The famous, prophetic dream that Pharaoh had is revealed in this parashah. The cows and the corn, the 7 years of abundance to be followed by the same number of years of terrible famine.

Famine was not uncommon in the Middle East; Abraham saw famine, Yitzchak saw famine, Ahab saw famine (and no rain, too, for 3 years) and even in modern times there was the famous famine that was world wide from 1920 -1924.

I believe God is in charge of everything, and also that sometimes things just happen. Just because God can make everything run the way He wants it to run, that doesn’t mean He does. In the case of today’s Parashah, though, I would like to offer my reason to believe why this particular famine was directed by God: simply because it served so many of God’s purposes, some of which He had already told us about.

When this parashah takes place, the “nation” of Israel numbered about 70, give or take children and in-laws. God promised them to become a great nation. We know that they already were pretty awesome in the eyes of their immediate neighbors, assuming that with their slaves and such they were somewhat formidable to a small town or village, but to be considered a nation as we define one, they weren’t there by any stretch of the imagination. And they were living in a world where the strong took what they wanted. They were exposed on all sides to any number of aggressive enemies.

At this same time we have Joseph in jail. He has been there for nearly 12 years already, forgotten by the Cupbearer and not likely to be remembered any time soon.

God’s plan had to get Joseph out of jail, Israel and his entire family out of constant threat of annihilation, and the children of Israel into a place where they can grow from a large family into a nation, safely and securely.

I can just see the Lord, sitting on His throne, stroking his beard of snow-white wool, asking Himself, “What to do? What to do? AHA!!! A famine. Oh, yes, I love a good famine! And dreams- that’s the ticket! Let’s give Pharaoh two dreams- that’ll rattle his bones, and then we can get this show on the road.”

So now the plan starts to take shape. Pharaoh’s dreams are directly from God, so only a man of God can interpret them. The magicians have no chance, and the confusion and concern awakens the Cupbearer to his own negligence of forgetting Joseph, which he quickly admits to Pharaoh. Now, after God has given Joseph the insight he needed to impress Pharaoh and give God’s plan some more momentum, Joseph is in the position God needs him to be in to have the ability to call his family down to Egypt.

Not letting sin go unpunished, God provides also the opportunity for Joseph to have his brothers suffer recompense for the sin they committed against him, which was merciful when you consider that their punishment and suffering was an emotional one whereas Joseph suffered physically. Yet, through God’s design Joseph is out of jail, the seed of the nation of Israel is planted in good soil, protected by the most powerful nation in the known world, and watered with the kindness that Pharaoh showed to Joseph and that Joseph had for his brothers.

That’s how God did it. He designed the famine to bring Joseph to power, Israel to Egypt, the nation to fruition. And later, in Sh’mot (Exodus) we see God’s plan for the nation to receive the promised land fulfilled, as well. In this Parashah we see the promise to Abraham that his descendants will be many and they will suffer for 400 years in slavery being fulfilled before our eyes.

If there is one thing we can learn from the Bible, it is that God’s plans will always come to be. What God wants done, will get done, and what God says He will do, is so absolutely trustworthy that His prophecy is already history.  We can trust God absolutely, without reservation, and that trust is necessary to strengthen our faith. Faith is believing in what we cannot see or prove, but we have trust in what we know. Faith is given and trust is earned. God has demonstrated, historically, that His word is true and dependable. The science of archeology has shown us that the Bible is, if nothing else, historically accurate. That’s enough to earn our trust that the stories are true. It is through this trust of the accuracy of the historical events that we can justify (at least, initially, in our walk with God) our faith to believe those events were by Divine design. Once we take that leap of faith and accept God is in charge, that Yeshua is the Messiah, and (finally) take that most important step- decide to live our life a slave to God and not a slave to sin (for, as Yeshua said, we are all slaves to something)- then we can ask for (and know we have received) forgiveness through Yeshua’s sacrificial death. We can also request and receive the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and begin our walk with God. After that your faith will grow in leaps and bounds if you continue to be fertile soil for the seed of the Word being sown within you.

I have said that God will never give us “scientific proof” of His existence because it is through faith we are saved, and scientific proof (meaning that the event can be reproduced at will) is the antithesis of faith. But once you are faithful, and you prove to God your T’Shuvah, He will absolutely let you feel His presence, see His goodness, and He will reveal Himself to you in so many different ways that you will have unquestionable proof He exists; thus, your hope for salvation will be confirmed and you will know that it will really happen. He will let you know Him, intimately, and you will experience His love. As you continue to grow in spiritual maturity, you will know more and more His trustworthiness and see His awesome power and compassion in your life, and in the lives of others.

God is in charge: whatever happens, whether designed by Him or simply allowed to run it’s own course by Him, is by His will and by His power. Trust in the deeds, have faith in the promises, and be secure in the hope of eternal joy and peace you will have once this world is no more.

Parashah Vayishlach (He sent) Genesis 32:3 – 36:43

Verse 32:11 stood out to me in this Torah portion, as a reminder not only of God’s trustworthiness, but also of the fact that we can bring God to task by reminding him of His promises.

Not that God ever forgets promises. He does forget something, though: He forgets the sins He forgives. Much better than humans, who say we forgive, and I think most of the time really want to, but we still relive the hurt. Sometimes we don’t want to forgive.

Silly Rabbit! Hatred is for losers! The only way to make the hurt go away is to forgive, then forget. We tend to think forgive and forget means never let them forget what we forgive.

In any event, this verse is where Jacob, soon to be Israel, prays to God to protect him from Esau, who is coming with 400 men to greet his brother. Jacob reminds God of the covenant God made, in essence, calling God’s hand and saying, “You promised my descendants would be numberless, so if Esau destroys me your promise will be broken.”

Of course, he didn’t say it that way, but that’s what he is saying, isn’t it?

We see this a number of times in the Bible, where God is called upon to remember His promises. Apparently this isn’t a problem for the Almighty. I would suggest a respectful reminder, but still, even though God never forgets we are allowed to remind Him.

How many times did Moses (almost) remand God when He wanted to destroy the rebellious people, telling God it is isn’t a good idea because it would make God look less than all-powerful to the nations? Here is a human telling the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, the Almighty Creator of the Universe, “Hey, ya’ know…that’s not a good idea. I think we should revisit that plan.”

The fact that we, little more than worms compared to God, are allowed to remind and, to a point, even remand God shows His merciful, compassionate nature.

Maybe he allows this because He is testing us? Maybe He wants to see if we remember what He says. That makes sense to me, since I can’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning. Pretty soon I won’t even remember if I had breakfast, let alone what it was.  So to make sure that we remember His promises is just s step away from making sure we remember His commandments.

The point here is that we need to not just listen to God, but remember what He tells us. When the fecal matter hits the air circulation device we will need to know God’s word, His promises and His commandments. More than that, we will need to know the other parts of the Bible, too: Shaul’s advice, what the Prophets tell us to expect, and what John tells us about the Acharit HaYamim (End Days.) All this needs to be read and remembered.

And when we are in the midst of troubles, there is nothing wrong with kvetching to God. He can handle it, and (I like to think) He actually likes it when we call out to Him, even if it is to remind Him of his promises.

I pray for my wife and children every day, and I remind God that His son said whatever I ask, if I ask it in His name, will be given. Then I remind God that He, Himself, said He doesn’t want anyone to die in their sin, so it certainly is in His will when I ask for the salvation of my loved ones. I remind God of these things every time I pray.

There is the parable of the woman who asks justice from the unjust judge. Eventually he grants her justice, if for no other reason than to get rid of her.

God is a totally righteous judge, so how much more will He do for us when we continually ask, and respectfully remind, Him to do what He has told us He would.

Parashah D’Varim

We are approaching the end of the Torah scroll. D’Varim (words) is the Hebrew name for the book of Deuteronomy. In the Torah (which doesn’t mean “law” but is translated as “teachings”) each new book is named from the first words of that book. D’Varim comes from the first line of the book, which starts,  “These are the words Moshe spoke…”.

What we see throughout this book is Moshe, at the end of the forty years , telling this new generation the history of how they got to where they are. He reminds them, in this parasha, of how he assigned men to help him adjudicate and lead the vast throng of people, how they were in the desert for forty years and never wanted for anything (God’s providence), how when they first came to the land they refused to enter, then were defeated after trying to enter because God said not to try. Moshe is reminding this generation why it is they who are entering the land. This parasha ends with Moshe (Moses) reminding them of how, because God was with them, they defeated the two kings Og and Sichon, whose lands were given to Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Menasheh, and his encouragement to Joshua to go into the land and defeat it because God will continue to be with them as He has been all this time.

One thing I find interesting is in Chapter 2, where Moshe relates that  God said to leave the people of Edom and Amon alone. Edom is the descendants of Esau and Amon the descendants of Lot. This is important to me because what I see here is that God’s promises are not just to the Jewish people, and He is just as faithful to anyone He makes promises to as He is to those who follow Him. Remember, Esau and Lot weren’t the most “Godly” people we find in the Bible. They also were not the receivers of the covenant God made with Avraham, but they were still remembered by God.

We need to remember that God is watching out for everyone. Not just those of us who are “Born Again”. Not just those of us who profess to have a “special relationship” with Him. From God’s point of view, everyone is special to Him. We need to keep our pridefulness at bay. We need to remember that God has done wonderful things for us, none of which we really deserved, and He did this because of who He is, not because of who we are. I bet if you think about it, you can see where God intervened and did wonderful things for you, even before you accepted His grace. He does wonderful things because He chooses to. He rules, He decides, and He can do whatever He wants to do. That’s important to remember.  This new generation, about to enter the land and fight for it, is not being given the land because they deserve it, but because God promised it to their forefathers, and God’s promises are absolute.  We are not given salvation because we deserve it, but because of God’s promises to our forefathers. and through His Grace.

We should use this as an example for ourselves of how we must live and treat others. Our promises should be absolute: that means don’t make promises you can’t keep. That is a sin. It is better to say no than to say yes without meaning it, and it is better to seem unwilling to help than to make a show of your compassion and not follow through. As Yeshua told us, simply let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no.”

God tells us to be holy for He is holy, well, that’s a tall order given how human beings are. I doubt I will ever be “holy”, but that’s not saying I can’t be holier than I am now. God keeps His promises, even to those who ignore or reject Him, so we should also be honest in what we say, and do what we say we will do. It doesn’t matter what the other person does or doesn’t do- our promise to anyone is our promise to God. You don’t want to be breaking promises to the Almighty!!

I learned a long time ago, when training to be a salesman, that people don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do. God does what He says, and we should follow that example.