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!

 

Right Relationship is More Important Than Being Right

I just had three wonderful days with my two sisters visiting me. One from North Carolina and the other from Austin, Texas. I am the middle child (which probably explains a lot) and we each had our differences growing up, although my (8 years) younger sister didn’t have the same “issues” with either of us as my (2 1/2 year) older sister and I had.

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We all three have different ideas about many things, and each of us, separately, has been upset by or upset with each other about one thing or another over the years. But here’s the point: we forgive each other and continue to work on having a good relationship instead of dwelling on whatever thing had upset us.

The important thing for everyone is to be able to forgive automatically so that we can maintain our family (and other) relationships, even through tough times. This is also a biblically correct thing to do, as we are not commanded to ask for forgiveness, but we are commanded to (or, at least, warned we’d better) forgive each other.

Most of us know the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9-13, right?  “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done”, ….got it?  Well, do you remember what Yeshua said after he gave that template for prayer? Let me help you; it’s Matthew 6:14-15:

For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours.

Forgiveness is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, and it is the glue that holds people together when certain acts or words try to tear them apart.

I am so very, very grateful to God for always giving me a forgiving heart, even before I knew him. I was able to reconcile with my mother long before she passed away, and have been able to maintain friendships for decades, more than a handful going all the way back to elementary school, all because I have learned to forgive people.

I know people who have not reconciled with family, and when the opportunity to do so was gone, they realized what they missed. The fact that once someone is dead you can never fix that relationship can often be devastating.

And here is another important fact: forgiving people is not supposed to be a reaction to someone asking for it. You are to forgive those that hurt you whether they ask for it or not!  

That’s right- you are to forgive them whether they want you to or not, whether they even care if you do or not. Your forgiveness of them doesn’t have anything at all to do with what is going on between them and God, but it has everything to do with what is going on between YOU and God.

My older sister and I have very different views on many things, especially politics, and we tend to walk gingerly when we discuss them. And often the room starts to heat up, and when that happens we simply agree to not agree. Because, even when things get a little “heated”, we will not allow it to affect our feelings for each other or our relationship because for us, being together is more important than being “right.”

What is important is that you maintain your good relationships, try to reconcile the bad ones, and remember that you don’t need to be right with people but you do need to be right with God.

And the only way to do that is to read the Bible so you know what God wants from you.

Thank you for being here and please don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE. Share me out and I always welcome comments, I only ask that you be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Abortion is More Than Just Murder

(No video today)

Do you know of the Canaanite god called Molech? There are a few different spellings of the name, but he is the god of the Ammonites to which the people sacrificed their children by making them go “through the fire.” Our God called Molech an abomination.

There’s no argument that this was a form of murder, but the act of murder was superseded by the atrocity of killing one’s own child.  In other words, it wasn’t just a murder, it was more than a murder: it was a heinous crime that no God-fearing person would ever even contemplate.

Abortion is taking something that is alive and killing it. Since the living entity in the womb is a human being, that is what we call murder. But it is more than murder, isn’t it? It is killing one’s own child, and with the current political movement throughout the states which allows abortion in the third trimester, this is not just abortion- it is child sacrifice.

I searched for the reason that people would sacrifice their children to Molech and this is the best answer I could find:

When a couple sacrificed their firstborn, they believed that Moloch would ensure financial prosperity for the family and future children.

That’s pretty much why people get an abortion, isn’t it?

Now, before someone starts to attack me and bring up rape and incest, etc., and other more “socially acceptable” reasons to abort a child, let me say that the vast majority of abortions are not the result of trauma or some other form of copulation that was not consensual. The majority of abortions are done is because either the mother (or both parents) decided that the time isn’t right to have a child, or that they don’t want to have the child, or that the pregnancy was a mistake. Or any combination of these excuses.

That means, to me, that they want to abort (isn’t abortion so much nicer a word than murder?) their child so that they can have a better future and maybe more kids later on. That is no different than saying I am sacrificing this child I am now carrying so that I won’t have the expenses of a child (i.e., to have financial prosperity) and we can always have another (benefit future children.)

Do you see? Abortion is sacrificing to Molech. Maybe the clinics aren’t shaped like a giant with his hands outstretched to hold the child, as the ancient sacrificial altar was formed, but it is the same act. And, for that matter, whether the father is there or not, his absence is silent approval.

If anyone thinks we aren’t nearing the spiritual lows of the ancient days, or that the End Times are not rapidly approaching, talk to them about the abomination called Molech and child sacrifice.

Today, all that has really changed is the altar of sacrifice and it has been rebranded as Abortion.

Thank you for being here, and please don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE and share me out.

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.

Thank you for being here and please SUBSCRIBE if you haven’t done so, already, I welcome comments and only ask that you be nice.

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

When Do We Stop?

Today, as I was reviewing Facebook, someone posted this message:

In life, it’s important to know when to stop arguing with people and simply let them be wrong

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

I thought about this with regard to the many times I have seen a discussion devolve into an argument, all because one person wouldn’t stop trying to get the other person to agree. The exchange of ideas was corrupted into an exchange of insults because of one person’s stubborn pridefulness not allowing the other person to have their own view.

For those who profess to be Believers, meaning people who are supposed to be God-fearing, respectful, compassionate, and loving of others to argue about things to the point where their pride takes over is a very poor way to represent God. It doesn’t glorify him, at all! What makes it worse is that the person who refuses to stop arguing will, more often than not, say they are just telling the truth, which they proclaim justifies their rude behavior.

Shaul tells us that righteous anger is fine, and it is, but it is no excuse for being nasty or disrespectful to someone. The same goes for telling the truth; as far as I am concerned, if you are unable to tell someone your understanding of “the truth” without having to yell at or insult them, then not only have you already lost the argument but your truth might not really be the truth.

Now, someone may say that Yeshua insulted the Pharisees and Scribes and Torah-teachers often, and that is true. My answer to that point of fact is this: you ain’t Yeshua! And when he spoke, even those who were against him could not argue with him because his truth was God’s truth and stood on its own. When you or I discuss God with others and they don’t accept what we say, or tell us we are wrong,  before we start to insult them we might consider that if what we say isn’t strong enough to stand on its own, maybe what we think is right is actually wrong. Or maybe what we are saying is right but we are saying it in a wrong way.

I learned this lesson many years ago when I received a left-handed compliment from my boss. I was a Sales Manager for Home Depot’s At-Home Services and the Senior Vice President I was working for told me that what I say is almost always correct, but (here comes the down-side) it becomes impotent because of the way I say it. You see, I was just telling the truth, but the way I told it rendered it useless because it made people upset.

God gave each and every one of us Free Will because he wants us to choose to worship him. We also can choose to reject God and all he says. That means God, himself, allows someone to be wrong if they choose to be wrong. So who are we to disallow that which God allows?

Your truth may not be my truth, and (truthfully) both may still be true. What is important is that we don’t tell someone the truth in order to show how correct we are, but to help them come closer to God. It is all about bringing people into proper relationship with God and Messiah, so when someone chooses to reject what you say, go ahead and make an argument without arguing. Allow them a minute or so to take it in, and if they are willing to continue to listen then you are doing well. If they reject what you say, and refuse to accept any proof from you, then before the discussion becomes an argument, do as God does and allow them to be wrong.

One last point: remember how God told the prophets that if they did not tell the people to repent, then their blood would be on his head? But, if after telling them to repent, they decided to reject God’s warnings and continued to sin, then the prophet would be free of their blood and it would be on their own heads? This rule holds true for us, as well. We are to try to bring people into the Kingdom of God but not by force, coercion, fear, or bribery (such as telling them about all the blessings they receive for being Believers.)

As purveyors of God’s truth, your job and mine is simply to tell the truth as God has shown it to us and allow people to make up their own minds.

Thank you for being here, and please share this out to your friends and family, and SUBSCRIBE so that when I post you will be notified. And I always welcome comments, all I ask is that you be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Acknowledging God is Not Worshiping God

If you hadn’t noticed, I was off all last week. Donna and I were on a cruise with relatives who got married on the ship. It was very nice.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

Many times we have heard our religious leaders tell us that all we need to do is call on the name of the Lord, and we will be saved. They got that from Romans 10:13; just call on God for salvation and it’s yours. What is implied is that you actually believe God exists and that you also accept that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah.

Believe in God, believe in Yeshua as the Messiah, ask for salvation and that’s that! Saved! Easy enough, right?

I am afraid I will have to bust your bubble because, as the old song goes, it ain’t necessarily so.

Do you think that King Nebuchadnezzar was saved? No? Why not? He recognized and lauded the God of Daniel. He wrote letters (this is all in the book of Daniel, of course) proclaiming the sovereignty of God and even threatened to tear down the house and kill anyone, including their entire family, who did or said anything against the God of Daniel (Daniel 3:31-33 and Daniel 4:31-34.)

Daryevesh (also called Darius), the king of the Persians, also proclaimed the God of Daniel as the living God who endures forever (Daniel 6:26-28), yet do we think that Daryevesh sits in the presence of the Lord for all eternity?

And what about every demon under the authority of the Son of Perdition, that old lion HaSatan?  They certainly aren’t saved, yet not only do they believe in God and know (absolutely) that Yeshua is the Messiah, but they have actually seen them both! Are they going to be saved because they acknowledge and believe in God and Yeshua?

Of course not. Not until they: (1) genuinely repent of their evil, (2) ask forgiveness by means of Yeshua’s sacrifice, and (3) return to a righteous existence.

It’s the third step in this process which is the difference that makes a difference: believing isn’t enough, and repentance isn’t enough, we need them both AND we also need to do T’shuvah– turn from sin.

Sin is a very easy thing to define: it simply means going against the instructions God gave us all to follow, which are found in the Torah.

The things that Yeshua’s Talmudim (Disciples) say and the things that Shaul (Paul) says, and the things that are written in the Prophets and other writings that tell us what God wants us to do (or not do) are all based on what God said in the Torah.  Anything you have been told that even implies any of the rules, laws, commandments, regulations, or statutes found in the Torah are no longer valid is going against what God said, which, by definition, is a sin.

Yeshua obeyed his father. He tells us this over and over…and over…throughout the Gospels. More than any other book, in the Gospel of John Yeshua constantly says that he says only what the Father tells him to say and he does only what the Father tells him to do. And, since we all know God is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow, that means Yeshua obeyed everything that we are told to do in the Torah. And more than that, he taught us that we should do everything we are told to do in the Torah.

There is a slight problem with that, though- we can’t do everything God tells us to do. We aren’t perfect, we are infused with iniquity from birth, and we cannot live a sinless life, as Yeshua did. Does that mean we shouldn’t even try? Of course not!

If you want to be saved from the eternal punishment that being an unrepentant sinner will bring, then you must try, and try your best. I often say we can’t be sinless, but we can always sin less. That is the goal to attain- not being sinless, but simply sinning less each day.

I feel sorry for those that have been taught the lie that just calling on God, asking for forgiveness and being a “good person” is all they need to do. What is worse is that this incomplete teaching is usually followed up with another lie, which is that the Torah is just for Jews and we are saved by the Blood of Christ.

I wonder what a Priest, Minister, Pastor, or even a Rabbi would say if someone asked, “What do I need to do to be considered a good person by God?”

Would they answer by quoting Yeshua’s answer to that question, which is found in Matthew 19:17:

“Why ask me about what is good?” Yeshua replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”

Next time you come across someone who believes that being a good person is all you need to do, please remind them of what Yeshua said, and try to get them to realize that asking isn’t enough- we must prove our repentance through actions, or what James calls good works.

I learned a long time ago that people don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do. I try to live my life saying what I mean and doing what I say, and I say I want to be less sinful. I am not doing that every day but I am always trying.

God knows our heart and mind, and even when we fail if we are constantly trying to follow his instructions that, in and of itself, is a good work.

Thank you for being here, and please don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE and share me out to all you know. I welcome comments and whether you agree or disagree, all I ask is that you be nice.

Until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!