Taking Some Time Off

I want to take this moment to thank all of you who have subscribed, and by continually viewing and commenting on my messages help support this teaching ministry.

I didn’t post anything Tuesday and although I do have something for today, I am taking some time off. I won’t be doing my usual parashah message tomorrow, either.

Everyone needs to take some time to rest from what they do, even when they enjoy doing it, if for no other reason than to keep it from becoming stale.

Have a wonderful and restful Shabbat this weekend and I will be back online with you next week.

God willing!

Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashot Chukkat / Balak 2020 (Statutes / Balak) Numbers 19-25:9

There is so much here that I have to just give the highlights.

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

We start with the regulations regarding the Red Heifer and the purification procedures involved with it.  Next, we read of the death of Miriam, and the water coming from the rock after Moses struck it. But in his anger, Moses did not give credit to God so God tells Moses that he will not be allowed to enter the Promised Land.

They come to Mount Hor, where Aaron dies and Eliazar takes his place as Cohen HaGadol (High Priest).

The people are still wandering around the desert, and as they are now nearing the end of the punishment God decreed for them, they again complain about no meat generally kvetch about their lives, so God sends snakes against them as punishment.  After repenting and asking forgiveness, God tells Moses to make a brass serpent and place it on a pole as a symbol so that when someone is bitten, if they look at the serpent they will not die.

This first parashah end with the defeat of both Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan.

The next parashah we will read for this double-parashot Shabbat is Balak, the story of how Balak, the king of Moab hired Balaam to curse the Jews. Balaam tells the messengers from Balak he refuses to go, as per God’s instructions, but Balak sends more important men with greater promises of reward and Balaam agrees to go. God sends an angel to block Balaam, and even though Balaam doesn’t see the angel, his ass does and three times avoids the angel. The third time Balaam begins to beat the ass for her disobedience, but God allows the ass to talk to Balaam, and then God opens Balaam’s eyes to see the angel, with drawn sword and ready to kill.

Balaam asks forgiveness and says he will return, yet God says to keep going but say only what God will tell him to say. Balak takes Balaam on a high hill to see the multitude of God’s people, and instead of cursing them, Balaam blesses them. Balak tries to get Balaam to curse the people three times, but all he does is bless them. Finally, enraged, Balak sends Balaam back home.

This parashah ends with the sin at Ba’al-Peor when the men of Israel began to associate with the Midianite women, sinning and worshiping their gods with them (we learn later, in Numbers 31, that this was Balaam’s idea). As Moses is telling them to stop, one of the princes of the tribe of Simeon is with a Midianite woman, and mocking Moses in full view of all the people; meanwhile, God has sent a plague as punishment for this terrible sin. Phineas, the son of Eleazar, is so enraged at the Simeonite prince that he thrusts a lance through both the prince and the woman with him, and this act of zealousness for God stays the plague, and that is where this second parashah ends.

As I said at the start, there is so much here.

Chukkat are the laws that God gave to us for which we can’t understand their meaning. The laws regarding the Shew Bread on the table, for instance, and this law about the Red Heifer, in which everything associated with preparing the heifer makes one unclean, but that which has made you unclean is then used to cleanse you.

The snake in the desert is so important for two reasons: first, the snake represented God’s salvation for those who would die, which has the spiritual message that when we look to, i.e. call upon God, we will be saved from death. Second, the snake is mentioned by Yeshua (John 3:14) as a foretelling of his form of death, as well as a prophecy about the distant future when he is held up and worshiped as God, just as the snake was later called Nehushtan and turned into an idol (2 Kings 18).

And finally, the lands that were taken from the two kings, Sihon and Og, are later given to Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, which ended up separating them from the protection of their brothers and their eventual destruction and dispersion throughout the world by the Assyrians, well before the Northern Tribes suffered the same fate.

Oy! Where to start, how much to say, and how can I stop once I start (which is always a problem)?

I am going to make this a simple lesson because as I reviewed these chapters, one thing stuck out in my mind: in my Chumash, the commentary on the Red Heifer gave a story about Rabbi Yochanon Ben Zakkai telling his talmudim (students) “…but the law concerning the Red Heifer is a decree of the All-holy, whose reasons for issuing that decree it behooves not mortals to question.”

This is pretty much what God told Moses later, which we read in Deuteronomy 29:29:

 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

Too often I hear people asking questions about the secret things, such as the pronunciation of God’s name, are he and Yeshua the same or separate beings, when does a certain holy day on the calendar really begin, and other such Gnostic-like questions.  They want to know every little detail about every single line of the Torah and use the excuse that they are trying to be obedient as their reasoning.

God told us everything we need to know, and beyond that, he told us to mind our own business. God doesn’t care if we understand why he said what he said, or why he wants us to do something, he only cares that we do it. The Torah is the first time people were told they don’t have the need to know. To me, the willingness to accept that because God said something, that is all the justification we need is a demonstration not just of obedience, but of our respect, trust, and faithfulness.

So today’s message is this: if you don’t understand why God wants you to do something, it’s OK to ask God to explain it to you; but, if he doesn’t give you an answer, accept that his silence means it isn’t necessary for you to understand, it’s just necessary for you to obey.

The ultimate demonstration of our faith in God is to come to him like little children (sound familiar?), meaning we don’t question why we have to do something, we just do it.

You don’t get on God’s good side by trying to understand him, you get on God’s good side by trusting that he knows what is best for you and faithfully obeying him.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe. I would also ask that you share these messages with others and check out my books.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Request for an Independence Day from Bad Social Media

I am doing something very different today.

 

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

Here is a copy of a post I placed on my Facebook timeline the other day:

I did this as a rhetorical post, but one of my friends said that he liked the idea and that he was in and for me to just name a day.

I added a comment that I will name a day, and the day I am naming is the Fourth of July.  This day represents to Americans our independence from being controlled by a monarchy that didn’t respect our right to be independent and to practice whatever religion we wanted to. In fact, this country was founded on the idea that people have the right to do what they want to do, think, and speak as they want to, so long as those rights do not infringe on the rights of others.

What is happening today, though, is somewhat like what it was like under English rule, only much worse because the anarchists using smokescreens such as BLM and Antifa are not trying to control us from a foreign land, but from within. These anarchists, as well as Facebook censorship, government control of how people dress, and media fear-mongering, are the true virus attacking America today. They may be funded from different sources, but overall their boss is the same snake who has always used lies and false accusations to stir up trouble in God’s kingdom by convincing people to do evil in the name of goodness.

So, I am asking everyone who uses social media to join us on this coming July 4th to NOT post or copy or share anything that is political or dealing with the Covid-19 rhetoric, or that shows rioting or potentially disturbing videos, or anything that might be considered upsetting in any way.

Instead, let’s share our hopes and dreams; let’s encourage one another and post only what is joyful, uplifting, and positive.

This coming July 4th, let’s declare our independence from social media drek, from political intrigue, from violence in the streets, and from the evil in our land by sending light into the darkness.

God bless you all, and may he protect and help us all through these troubling times.

Please subscribe and spread this message on YouTube and social media so that on this coming Independence Day there will be something on social media other than the usual garbage we have to deal with.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

What Does Created in God’s Image Mean?

We are told in the very beginning, Genesis 1:27, that we are created in the image of God. But what does that mean?

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

Does it mean that we look like God? I know there are many places in the Bible where God appears to people, and his appearance was too much to behold. Most of the descriptions we have, such as from Moses and Daniel, present God as an overwhelming presence.

On the other hand, God told Moses that he could see the back but not the face of God, for anyone who sees the face of God’s will die. That implies that God has a physical body like ours.

By the way, when God said that anyone who sees his face will die, does that mean the sight of God’s face is so emotionally overwhelming that it shocks us to the point of death, or simply that it is forbidden to see his face and if we see it, we must be executed?

After all, he told Adam and Eve if they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil they would die, but when they ate they didn’t die. At least, not immediately; eventually they did, a few hundred years later. So, if they hadn’t eaten, would they have lived forever?

Who knows? However interesting that answer might be, I am going off on a tangent so let’s get back to today’s message.

I don’t think that we are created looking like God, if for no other reason than this: God is not a physical being. He is spirit, and as such can appear in any form he wishes. So, no, I don’t think God looks like we do or that we look like him, and that whatever form he has taken in the past to appear to people, whether in real life or in visions, is for our benefit.

One thing that might give us a hint to what “in the image of God” means might be found in that fact that of all the millions of different creatures God created, only human beings are created in his image. By identifying what is it that humans have which no other creature has, that might point to the image we are looking for.

So, nu? What’s so different about us?

I think it’s that we have a soul.

Animals have intelligence, they have emotions, they have skills (Jane Goodall turned the anthropological world upside down when she discovered chimpanzee’s had developed tool usage), and they also can learn new skills and pass them down to their progeny. All of these things are exactly the same things that humans have, except that the Bible specifically omits any reference to animals being reborn.

Now, one of the first lessons I learned about proper biblical exegesis is that “You can’t make an argument from nothing”, and just because something is not mentioned in the Bible, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. However, since we are specifically separated from every other living thing by the fact that we alone are created in God’s image, and that we, alone, will be resurrected in the End Days, then I think it makes sense that we have something which is the same thing God has but is not found in any other creature on earth.

And what is that? It’s our soul. I have always heard that the soul is eternal, and if that is true, then it is the one thing that only a human being has in common with God, thereby making us the only creatures in the world that are made in the image, or we could also say similar, to God.

That’s my take on what being made in the image of God means. It means that we have a soul that part of us which is eternal, just as God is eternal, and only human beings can lay claim to this similarity.

The only thing left now is to decide where our souls will go after we die. The answer to how we do that, my friends, is to follow the roadmap to salvation that you find in the Torah.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share these messages with others. And remember: I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Korach 2020 (Korach) Numbers 16 – 18

This is a well-known story of rebellion; Korach, a Levite, jealous of Moses organized other Levites, all leaders within their tribes, to rebel against Moses and Aaron and to appoint a different leader (who he thought should be himself.)

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

Meanwhile, Dathan and Abiram, from the tribe of Reuben, also led a rebellion against Moses for their failure to enter the land, having just been driven out by the inhabitants.

Moses tells the men, a total of 250 of them, to bring their fire pans to the Tent of Meeting in the morning and God will show them what he wants. Moses also goes to the tents of Korach, Abiram, and Dathan and calls them out to tell them how God will handle this rebellion, which isn’t really against Moses and Aaron but is against God.

First, Moses tells those whose tents are close to these men to move away from them because if they don’t, they might suffer the same punishment that the rebels will have to undergo. Fortunately for them, the surrounding families listen.

Moses then tells the rebels that if God hasn’t placed Moses in charge, Abiram, Dathan, and Korach will live long lives. On the other hand, if God is the one who put Moses in charge, then the earth will open its mouth and swallow these men and all they have- family, tents, and possessions- and send them to Sheol, alive!

No sooner does Moses finish speaking than the ground splits open and Abiram, Dathan, Korach, their families, and their tents are swallowed up, after which the ground closes over them.

At the same time, fire comes out from the Tent of Meeting and totally incinerates all 250 men, being so hot that their brass offering plates are melted.

Despite this obvious show of God’s intervention and appointment of Moses and Aaron, the people still are in an uproar and blame Moses for the death of the men. God sends a plague among the people that starts to kills multitudes, but Aaron takes incense from the altar and goes into the crowd and stands between the people and the plague to stop it.

God has the 12 tribal leaders each bring their staff to the Tent of Meeting, Aaron representing the Levites, and tells Moses to say to the people that the staff which grows buds will belong to the one who is God’s choice for serving him as Cohen. In the morning, only one staff has buds on it, Aaron’s staff, and more than buds, it has flowers and ripe almonds, as well.

This parashah ends with God giving the instructions, again, regarding how the Cohen and Levite are to serve him and that they are to be paid from the tithes.

For those of you who follow this ministry (thank you!), you know I rarely ever allow politics to enter these messages. However, when we look at what happened in this Shabbat reading and what is happening in the US today, there is such a direct relationship I can’t ignore it.

The rebellion within the United States, with cities of two separate states declaring themselves as a sovereign entity, is exactly what happened to the nation of Israel under Moses. There is such a spirit of rebellion against legitimate authority that I would think Korach has found his way back up from Sheol!

We have a President who was legally elected, yet since the very day he took office, there have been rebellions against his authority and position. And not just by outside forces, but by the leaders of states within the Union. Just like under Korach (or should I say, Pelosi?), many important and powerful leaders of the tribes of America (i.e., Congresspersons and Senators) have taken up their firepans and tried to oust President Trump, with little more than weak and often (we found out later) manufactured stories claiming he was disqualified for office.

Today there are the CHAD and CHAZ groups in their separate states who are declaring themselves free of the properly instituted authorities, such as the police. They have established zones of anarchy, and proliferate violence as their means of control.

In truth, they have no control: that is SOP within an anarchistic society. Sooner or later the proper authority, which has been authorized by the Constitution, will remove these rebels and (hopefully) prosecute them in accordance with their illegal activities.

If God had not intervened on behalf of Moses and Aaron, it is very likely that the general populace would have gone along with Korach, Abiram, and Dathan. What has been proven in the Bible (as shown by the Israelites) is that the crowd will follow whoever is popular or promises them what they want.  We saw this at the sin of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32), we saw it with the Korach rebellion (Numbers 16), we saw it with their constant complaining which caused God to send snakes (Numbers 21), and we saw it during the Sin of Baal-Peor when Balaam had the Midianite women entice the men into sinful behavior (Numbers 25.) 

The people rebelled against proper authority (that would be God, of course), times too numerous to mention here, from the very day they were freed from Egyptian bondage until the time of the Babylonian exile.

America has been through tough times before and came out of it stronger, but I am concerned about what is happening to her today. The pandemic has shown that we are a society composed of easily frightened, easily duped, and easily led sheep. We know that people are like sheep, easily led astray (Isaiah told us that) but it is one thing to read about it in the Bible, and quite another to see how true it is when people wear face masks and isolate themselves because they are told lies and exaggerations without questioning the truth of it.

And common sense? Well, that is rare under any condition, but it is so rare today that it seems to be an extinct commodity.

We need to remember, just as the Israelites were reminded, that God is in charge and that whoever is in charge, legally, was placed there by God. We are told this in Romans 13 (CJB):

Everyone is to obey the governing authorities. For there is no authority that is not from God, and the existing authorities have been placed where they are by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authorities is resisting what God has instituted; and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

If people are dissatisfied with the leadership, there are legal means for removing the leaders, and those procedures should be followed. It takes longer than open rebellion, but it is the legal and correct way to oust a bad leader. In the meantime, we are obligated legally and spiritually to respect our leaders.

Today’s parashah is so perfectly timed to what is happening in the US today that you might even think God planned it. If you ask me, I don’t think what is happening is from God; on the contrary, it seems evident to me that this is the work of Satan. Our society has a spirit of Korach running rampant through it, and our legislative bodies have a spirit of Absalom taking charge of them. Rebellion, social unrest, lies, and false teachings abound, while the people show they are mindless sheep, blind to the truth, speechless against the evil (you can’t understand what they say through the cloth masks, anyway), being led dancing to their own destruction.

I am afraid. I am afraid for our country, for our economy, and for the people who claim to be doing what they do to save lives, while what they are doing is refusing to acknowledge that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes. And more than anything else, I am afraid and concerned about how so many people can so blatantly disobey the law and get away with it; and I don’t mean just the rioters in the streets, but the elected leaders of our cities, states and our federal government, whose members are sworn to defend the Constitution.

I don’t how this will all turn out, if we will have a new normal or if we will even be able to return to the old normal, but I trust in God to get us through it and will wait, patiently on the Lord (although I have to say, I am SO fed up with all this mishigas!)

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages with others, and check out my website and books. I am starting on my 4th book, which I am calling “The ‘I Don’t Want to Read the Bible!‘ Bible.”

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

God is More Than Just Love

I have heard, oh so often, that God is love.

I have heard that the God of the Old Covenant is all about destruction and violence and rules, but the God of the New Covenant is all about love.

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

I have also heard that there are false teachers and that those who sin and teach others to sin will be in big trouble when they have to explain what they did to God.

And the reason they will be in big trouble is that although God is a loving God, he is MUCH more than that.

He is the Creator of everything, which includes right from wrong. He is also the Judge of the Universe which (for the record) includes Earth and all that live on the Earth. In fact, he is not just the judge, but the jury and the executioner, as well.

God is holy; he is so holy that he is the holiest of all that is holy, and as such he is also faithful to his word. When God tells us that disobedience will be met with punishment, because he is holy, he must dish out that punishment to the disobedient.

Where his love comes into play is that even when he punishes, his love for all of his creation will result in a punishment that is actually merciful, meaning it will still be terrible, but not as terrible as we actually deserve.

For example, his love for Israel (the Northern Kingdom) was the only reason that he waited so long before punishing them: he was giving them time to repent. But once God reached the end of his patience, his punishment was, indeed, terrible; but, he did not totally destroy his people, as they deserved. In fact, he sustained them even after they were spread throughout the Diaspora, and he promised to return them to their homeland one day.

For the past 75 years, we have seen this regathering happening and it is wonderful.

People are so happy to hear about God’s love for them just as they are, which is misleading people to believe that because they are loved God will allow them to continue to do just what they have always done. This is the message that traditional Christianity sends, which ignores all the laws and regulations necessary to receive blessings.

You’re right, God will bless those who do not do everything in the Torah because he is a loving God, and sometimes in order to bless the righteous, the sinful get blessed too- it’s like collateral blessings. On the other hand, when the sinful are punished (sad to say) the righteous are sometimes collateral damage (Everyone Gets Rained On) and suffer along with the sinful.

The bottom line is that God makes the rules and because he is holy, faithful, trustworthy, and never-changing we can depend, absolutely, on his also judging according to HIS rules (not what any religion says), punishing those who have rejected his instructions exactly as he said he would in the Torah.

God does love each and every one of us, and it is because of that wonderful and infinite love that he will punish those who do wrong. Not as a means of enforcing his will, or out of the kind of prideful anger that humans feel when they are ignored or rejected, but because the only way a sinner will turn to God is when that sinner realizes the consequences of the sin he or she is doing. And the consequence of sin, as Shaul (Paul) tells us in Romans, is death.

God punishes the guilty out of love so that they will have every possible chance to turn from their sin (do t’shuva) and by turning from those sins, be able to remain alive and live eternally in peace and joy.

The big lie from Christianity is that we are all okay because God is love; the truth is that because God is love us he will punish the guilty.

Thank you for being here; please share these messages with others and subscribe.

I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!