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

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

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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.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

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.)

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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!

Parashah Shelach Lecha 2020 (Send forth) Numbers 13 – 15

The Israelites are within sight of the Holy Land, and Moses picks 12 men, princes and leaders within their tribe, to scout out the land, the people, and bring back military intelligence so that the invasion and taking over of the land can be planned.

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The men are gone 40 days and bring back samples of the produce of the land. However, although they say the land is wonderful, they also demoralize the people by saying that the land is full of strong and gigantic people who the Israelites have no chance of defeating.  Except for Caleb and Joshua, the other 10 representatives of the tribes say there is no way they can win.

The people are so demoralized they want to stone Moses, but God intervenes and tells Moses to stand aside so he can destroy these people and make a new nation from Moses. Moses intercedes for the people, reminding God of his forgiveness, mercy, and patience and also arguing (effectively) that if God did destroy these people the other nations, who are in awe of him, would think he was not able to do as he said and bring these people into the land.

So, God relents but only to a point: the men who gave the bad report died from a plague, then and there, and the rest of the people were told they would wander in the desert. God decreed they would wander one year for each day the spies were in the land, so for the next 40 years, the people will wander in the desert until every single one who rebelled is dead. It will be the next generation, the generation born in freedom, who will inherit the land.

After this God reminds Moses of the requirements for worship when they enter the land.

This parashah ends with a story about a man who violates the Shabbat by gathering wood, and when brought to judgment God decrees that he shall be stoned to death by the entire congregation. In order to remind people not to violate the laws, God decreed the wearing of Tzitzit.

I think it really a shame that the generation who had been raised in slavery did not get to enjoy the bliss of living in freedom in the land that God promised to give them, but it was their own fault that they did not get to do that. If they had trusted in God and his servants, Moses and Aaron, the trip to Canaan would have been easier, there wouldn’t have been snakes or plague, and there wouldn’t have been the death of the thousands that the sin at Mount Sinai caused.

If only they had listened and obeyed, but they didn’t, so why didn’t they? Were they stupid?

No, they weren’t stupid, but they had a slave mentality. They weren’t able to live their own lives; they were able to make decisions, but they weren’t able to make good decisions because all of the important decisions, such as where to live, what to do with your life, who to worship and who to trust had been made for them.

After generations of being told what to do and what to think and how to worship, they had become mentally lazy. So, when they were given the chance to advance, to become self-determining, and to learn to trust in God, they failed to do so at every opportunity.

God had performed unbelievable miracles which they saw done in the land of Egypt and throughout their travels in the desert. Yet, despite the evidence, they still couldn’t trust in him when they came to a problem they felt unable to solve on their own. Their mental laziness had turned them into cowards and unable to trust even what they see and hear. They rejected their chance for freedom and demanded to be returned to what they were comfortable with, which was slavery.

This is the same problem we have today. People have been told how to worship and how to act for so long that they accept what they are told and don’t want to consider anything different. Religion has turned people from God-fearing (as God directed us) to religion-worshiping, doing what men have told them they should do instead of as God told us we should do.

This can only result in the same thing that happened to the rebellious Israelites: they will not be allowed into the Promised Land, meaning God’s presence which has been made possible through the Messiah.

God promised Abraham that his descendants would be in the Promised Land, and that promise was kept, but not in the way many people expected. God did not renege on his promise to that first generation of freed slaves, they refused to accept it, and God had to wait until there were people desiring to receive the promise.

If you think I am saying that there are many devoutly religious people, whether Jewish, Christian, Born Again or whatever, who worship God, who try to do what they believe is right, but who will be told: “Get thee away from me- I never knew you” (Matthew 7:21), well… you’re right! That’s exactly what I am saying.

And why would God reject those who have called on his name? Because they may have called on his name, but they are not the ones who can receive the promise because they worship as men have told them to do, and not as God said to do.

The truth is that “calling on his name” means to turn to him and worship him. It doesn’t mean to shout out whatever name you use for God- it has nothing to do pronunciation and everything to do with worshiping him as he has said to. People who call on his name but worship him and live their lives as some religion says to are not children of the covenant.

And to me, that is as big a travesty, if not more so, then the Egyptian born Jews not being allowed to enter the Promised Land. Here are people trying to do what is right, but they are too mentally lazy to certify that what they are being told is really what God wants. They have that same slave mentality, which we call a comfort zone, and they refuse to let go of it.

Emperor Constantine is not God, we all know that- no argument from anyone on that point. Yet, there are millions of Christians who follow his rules and doctrines, purposefully ignoring what God said they should do, even though they have God’s instructions sitting there on their bookshelf! The path to salvation is right there, but they would rather be told what it means than to read it for themselves and that will be the cause of their destruction.

I am not preaching Legalism; I am pleading for people to make knowledgeable decisions, coming from the knowledge that can only be gained by reading the word of God, from Genesis through Revelation, and asking God to show you what he wants from you. God has a plan for each of us, and we will never know what it is if we listen to people. We have to hear it from God.

Even those of you who have been prophesied about, then later realized the prophecy was correct, I’ll bet if you think on it, you will remember that when you first heard someone tell you what God wants from you, you had already felt it in your heart and spirit.

Learn from this parashah the evils of a slave mentality, which is a tool of the Enemy, and start to grow out of your comfort zone; a religion-based comfort zone is NOT where God wants you to be. Our God is a God of action and growth, not one of sitting around being told what to think, so get with the program and read the Bible daily, asking God to reveal himself to you and make you aware of what he wants from you.

We all start out wandering in the desert, led by men who tell us which way we should go, and we will die in the desert following them unless we change course and follow God.

God is the only one who can lead us to the Promised Land.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages, and check out my website and my books.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

 

Parashah B’ha’alotecha 2020 (When you set up) Numbers 8 – 12

The people have been in the desert for a year and have completed building the Tabernacle. Now God tells Moses to have Aaron set up the lampstand, or menorah so that the light will shine in front of it. Next, the Levites are cleansed and dedicated to the Lord for service unto him, and they are to be the substitution for all the firstborn among the people of Israel; all the firstborn of the people are ransomed to God since he took all the firstborn of Egypt as a ransom for the people.

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The Levites are to serve from the ages of 25 through 50; afterward, they are to help with the service but not to perform any of the actual work.

As Passover begins this second year, some men were made unclean and God said that those who could not celebrate Passover in the first month could do so the exact same way on the same days in the second month.

The cloud over the Sanctuary would be the signal for moving or remaining, and when it was taken away from the Tabernacle the people followed it. On the 20th day of the second month of the second year of freedom, the cloud moved to the desert of Paran. I believe this happened on the 20th day as there were those who were still celebrating the Passover because they were unclean in the first month.

As they are getting ready to move, Moses asks his father-in-law to come along and act as a guide, but he refuses. Moses asks a second time, but we aren’t told what answer he was given; however, in Judges 1:16 and 4:11 we read about the descendants of Moses’s father-in-law, so it appears that he did stay with the Israelites.

The final chapters of this parashah deal with the people complaining about not having any meat to eat, which leads Moses to ask God for help because their whining and rebellion is too much for him to bear. God gives some of the spirit he gave to Moses to 70 of the Elders, to help Moses lead the people, and then sent quails to feed them. However, as punishment for their complaining, the people were also cursed with a terrible plague.

In Chapter 12, Aaron and Miriam complain against Moses because of the wife he took, and God calls them to the Tent of Meeting where he chides Aaron and Miriam for speaking out against Moses, who God speaks to as a friend. Miriam is struck with leprosy, although Aaron is not punished. Aaron begs forgiveness from Moses, and Moses begs God to heal Miriam, which he does but requires her to be shut outside the camp for a week.

There certainly is a lot happening in this Shabbat reading, which has special meaning for me because the last section of Chapter 12 was the portion I read for my own Bar Mitzvah, oh so many years ago.

What struck me when I read this week’s parashah is at the beginning, and actually has very little to do with the happenings in this parashah. It was during the instructions for the Levite’s cleansing (Numbers 8:12) where God tells them they must sacrifice a sin offering and then a burnt offering.

The sin offering is, of course, to be able to receive forgiveness of sin, and the burnt offering (also called a wholly burnt offering) is to signify total rededication to the covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham, i.e. renewing one’s promise to obey God’s instructions.

There is a teaching within Christianity that is called OSAS, which stands for Once Saved, Always Saved and it is part of the other (wrongful) teaching that the “law” was nailed to the Cross. This is, of course, not justified by anything in the Bible, anywhere, and teaches people that they don’t have to repent or even ask forgiveness because when Jesus died for their sins, he covered all their sins: past, present, and future.

The truth is Yeshua did die for our sins, past, present, and future, but that forgiveness is NOT automatic.

God will not forgive someone who is not repentant, and also only when he is asked for forgiveness. It is clear that the sacrificial system, which states once we have offered up our sin sacrifice we must follow it immediately with a burnt sacrifice, shows that God requires more than just repentance and asking for forgiveness: God also requires our rededication to obedience. The teaching of “Once saved, always saved” is not how God told us it works.

When we sin, we must first repent; if you don’t really care about having sinned, then you don’t really care about being forgiven, and you certainly wouldn’t consider rededicating yourself to obedience since obedience isn’t all that important to you, anyway.  Right?

Sin is pervasive, and it is also very hard to overcome. Our very nature is sinful, and it is only through the leading of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) that we can overcome our sinful desires and sinful thoughts, which (as Yeshua taught us) are just as bad as having actually sinned.

So, the lesson I would like us to learn from this parashah is that repentance is the beginning of forgiveness, sacrifice makes forgiveness possible (thank you, Yeshua), but without your heartfelt rededication to obedience, it will all be unacceptable to God.

Sin will happen, we can’t avoid that, and without the temple in Jerusalem the only way forgiveness is possible is through Yeshua. Yeshua made forgiveness available to us, but without your heartfelt and honest rededication to obedience to God’s instructions, Yeshua’s sacrifice will be rendered impotent.

Yeshua died a mortal death so that you can have eternal life, but if you have an unrepentant heart, do not ask for forgiveness for each and every sin, and refuse to rededicate yourself to obedience after asking for forgiveness, the only future you have is one of eternal punishment.

Hey, don’t blame me! Look, these are God’s rules and if anyone chooses to accept man-made rules over God’s rules, well, then they have no one to blame but themselves! Amen!

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

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

How to Interpret the Bible Correctly

Let me start off by saying I am not professing to be an expert on Biblical exegesis (although I do know some of the fancy words), and that I am not saying this is the absolute and only correct method of Bible interpretation, but I have seen and corrected many wrong interpretations and know that what I am going to talk about is valid and necessary.

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Something happened just recently which made me think it might be a good idea to (at least) give a small lesson on how to properly interpret what we read in the Bible.

Two methods I always incorporate when interpreting the Bible are PaRDeS and Hermeneutics. PaRDeS is a Jewish form of exegesis and is an acronym for the following:

P=P’shat, the literal meaning of the written word (i.e., what you read is what it means);

R=Remes, the deeper, more spiritual meaning (as Yeshua demonstrated in his Sermon on the Mount);

D= Drash, a story or lesson which has a spiritual meaning (such as the parables Yeshua told); and

S =Sud, a mystical meaning that no one can fully comprehend.

That is one method I use, and the other is Hermeneutics, which is defined as:

The purpose of Hermeneutics is to bridge the gap between our minds and the minds of the Biblical writers through a thorough knowledge of the original languages, ancient history and the comparison of Scripture with Scripture.

What that means, in simple language, is that we must have a thorough knowledge of the entire Bible, that is, Genesis through Revelation,  and that whatever is written in any part of the Bible should mean the same in any other part of the Bible.

Too often we read or hear someone who has taken a number of passages from the Bible and put them together to form an idea or interpretation. This is not wrong, per se’, unless the passages are taken out of context and used to create the interpretation someone has formed, instead of forming an interpretation from what is written.

Here’s an example of what I am talking about, which happened the other day:

I was reading an article someone posted about the use of the Hebrew word “Seraph” in the story of the snakes sent to punish the Israelites when they were in the desert (Numbers 21.) The writer wanted us to believe that the bronze statue Moses made wasn’t of a snake but of a seraph, an angelic being. This was confirmed when I looked in the Torah to see what word was used in the original Hebrew and saw that it was, indeed, the word seraph, which is what God told Moses to make an image of. The people asked Moses to pray for the removal of snakes (Hebrew word Nachush) and God told Moses to make an image of a seraph.

So, it looks like the writer was correct! But when we use hermeneutics to confirm the interpretation, we find out that this isn’t the case.

I looked at the different uses of the word seraph, to see if it was used anywhere else to represent a serpent, and did not find anything. I then looked through the Bible for other places where nachush was used and found another use in 2 Kings 18. 

In 2 Kings 18, we read how the serpent Moses made in the desert was being worshiped by the people, and they called it Nehushtan, which is a form of the Hebrew word for snake. This confirms that the bronze statue was not a celestial being but a snake, otherwise the people would not have named it “Snake.”

There have been many, MANY times I have corrected people’s attempts to make the Bible say what they wanted it to say, such as how the Kosher laws were removed, or how the Torah was done away with, or how the Jews have been replaced by Gentile Believers. All of these traditional Christian teachings are based on misinterpretation and taking passages out of context, stringing them together and making what appears to be a proper interpretation, but it is really nothing more than a lie.

We must take whatever God says and interpret it in relation to everything else God says, and if there seems to be a contradiction, then one or both interpretations are wrong. God does NOT contradict himself; likewise, what Yeshua taught he told us was only what God told him to say, and this is evident throughout the Gospels (especially in John), so any teachings that indicate Yeshua said something in the Old Covenant isn’t valid anymore is not hermeneutically valid.

What we read in the Epistles are not the words of God but the lessons that the Talmudim (disciples/students) of Yeshua were teaching to the Jewish and (mostly) Gentile Believers, more so to Gentiles who did not understand the instructions the Jews already knew. The letters from Paul to the congregations he started were not meant to change anything, but to teach these Gentile Believers how to live according to God’s instructions, a little bit at a time.

Of course, the Epistles are a totally different lesson, but it is important to know how they fit into today’s lesson because of all the misinterpretations within the Bible that I have seen over more than two decades, the majority of them come from the letters Paul wrote.

God has made his instructions to all the world, which we find in the Torah, pretty simple to understand, and what we can’t fathom we can study and try to understand; or, what I consider to be the better path, we can just accept that God knows best and follow the way of life that God has laid out for us.

Always use these two methods to objectively study the Bible, and when I say objectively, I mean to not just accept what someone tells you; rather, listen and then verify everything, especially before you repeat it to others.

Just like with Hebrew National hotdogs, teachers of God’s word are held to a higher standard, so make sure what you teach is biblically correct.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, check out my website, and share these messages with everyone you know (after verifying, of course, what I say is accurate and biblically correct.) And if you have a comment or correction, please do not hesitate to let me know: I welcome them all.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah B’midbar 2020 (In the desert) Numbers 1 – 4:20

At the beginning of this book of the Torah, we have Moses, at God’s command (which is the only right time to do this) take a census of the people. We also are given the arrangement of the campsite, as well as the duties of the Levites, with regards to moving the Sanctuary.

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The book of Numbers is a historical narration of the travels of the children of Israel as they wandered in the desert. The wandering was the result of their own sin, which was to reject the land that God brought them to, as he promised he would. They were at the border of Israel only a few months after they left Egypt, but after sending the spies into the land and receiving a bad report, they refused to go in. They were afraid that they would be destroyed by the Canaanites and other tribes that the spies reported as fearsome and powerful.

How quickly they forgot the miraculous events that God performed in Egypt; how quickly they forgot how God split the Red Sea; and how quickly they forgot the way God presented the Torah to them on Mount Sinai.

And isn’t it the same with people, today?

I was in Sales for a long time and I was very good at it. Yet, despite how good a salesman I was, I was never better than what I did yesterday. The standard joke we told each other was: “You’ve been the best salesman in the company for three months now, but what have you done for me today?”

We are in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, causing fear, which has led to the demoralization of the people and is crippling our economy, yet it is nothing compared to the past crises we have had to undergo. But does anyone remember those? Does anyone remember how this country has overcome wars and economic disasters? How did we do that? It was because we had the courage and faith in God to continue through the problems, instead of fearfully sitting on our butts and crying about it!

Does anyone remember that this country, America, was founded on faith in God, which is the real reason we were able to survive those calamities?

Apparently not.

As we go through this book of Numbers we will see how, over and over, God rescued his people when they turned to him and walked in faith towards the goal, the Promised Land. The generation which refused it caused all the people to wander aimlessly until that fearful generation were all gone. It took a new generation, a generation that did not have a slave mentality, a generation that was raised in the desert and didn’t know about living in a house or having everything you needed available to you, a generation that recognized God and accepted his help, THAT generation was the one that entered into the Promised Land and took possession of it.

And when we get to the book of Judges, we will see how they, too, forgot all about God and what he had done for them.

This country is populated now by people who have rejected God, who worship technology and sports and believe only in self-acceptance. They are all about themselves and that is why, after two months of this pandemic, you still can’t find toilet paper on the grocery shelves. Their fear is well-founded because they are depending on their individual ability to overcome problems instead of on God’s ability to protect them.

I am not saying that people should not take precautions when there is a chance of infection or infecting others, but to run and hide in the closet while you wait for someone else to fix things is not what faith is about. Take precautions, wear a facemask if you feel better doing that, and keep away from sick people.

(Do you believe that they have to tell us to do that? Do they think people are that stupid? And what is worse is that they may be right!)

The real problem we have is what President Roosevelt mentioned in his famous speech, which is a statement you most likely have heard used:

We have nothing to fear, but fear itself. 

This country is crippled by fear, by their lack of faith in God, and we are all suffering for it. The shoe has dropped, and I believe the other shoe will drop soon; and when it does, those problems will be so much worse than what we are going through now that this country may not survive it.

The time for the judgment of the nations is now, and America has separated itself from God and joined the world, so we will be judged with the rest of the world. This pandemic is just the start, you mark my words: the next plague will really be deadly, and not just to a small portion of the population.

Learn the lessons we are given in the book of Numbers, see how repentance saved the Israelites while their fear caused them to reject God and suffer. America is doomed, but there will always be a remnant that will survive, so please make sure you are a member of that remnant.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Behar / Bechukotay 2020 (On the mountain/ If you walk) Leviticus 25 – 27

We come now to the last three chapters of Leviticus.  These chapters cover the Sabbatical Year, the Year of Jubilee, the regulations regarding the redemption of lands and of people in slavery, as well as the rules regarding how to treat a slave.

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God tells us how he will prosper and bless us when we obey these regulations, and he also tells us what will happen to us if we reject and disobey his regulations.

I have a short and sweet message today, which is this:

When God says something will happen, you can be as certain that it will happen as if it was already a part of history.

For example, lets’ look at Leviticus 26: 33-35 (CJB), which is what God says will happen if the people fail to observe the regulations regarding the resting of the land during the Sabbatical year:

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.

Does this warning sound familiar? The prophet Jeremiah said that after the king of Babylon defeats Jerusalem, the people will be taken to Babylon and will be there, while the land becomes a desolate wasteland for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11), and this is confirmed in 2 Chronicles 36:21. 

When Judea was sinning, just as Israel had sinned, they rejected God’s commandments and failed to give the land its rest. We can figure that for (at least) 490 years leading to the exile of the Jews to Babylon, the Sabbatical Year rest for the land was not observed. That is why the exile lasted 70 years, in accordance with God’s word given through Jeremiah, which was the fulfillment of the warning God gave to Moses nearly a millennia before it happened; the same warning we read in today’s parashah.

Every warning God gave to the Children of Israel regarding disobedience, which they tested over and over, came true.

Just as God always ended his prophecies with a statement of hope, I will end today’s message with this: because every bad thing that God said would happen if we disobeyed came true, we can be positive that every promise of blessings when we do obey will also come true.

Given the absolute certainty that we will receive blessings if we do as God says, why would anyone teach others that we don’t have to obey?

We have reached the end of a book of the Torah, so we say:

Chazak! Chazak! V’nit chazek! 

(Be strong! Be strong! And let us be strengthened!)

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Emor 2020 (Speak) Leviticus 21- 24

God starts out by telling Moses the regulations that are specifically for the Cohanim, regarding when they are allowed to become unclean by approaching a dead person, the appropriate behavior of their daughters (sons, as well, is implied), who they are allowed to marry and the rules regarding any descendants with a physical deformity.

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Chapter 23 designates God’s required festivals, which we call the Holy Days.

Chapter 24 tells us about the lamps in the Sanctuary and the rules for the shewbread that is to be laid out every week, one loaf for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We are also told of the man who blasphemed God’s name and was stoned, and that God requires equal compensation and fair rendering of justice, which is what he meant when he said to take an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. The administration of justice is to be fair and compensatory, but not retributive or to allow torture.

I have committed an entire chapter in my first book, “Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion” to the difference between a Holy Day, which God has commanded us to celebrate, and a holiday, which is a man-made celebration. Any discussion regarding this is best left until after you read that chapter (which is only possible after you buy the book- it’s worth it, believe me).

I could also give an entire sermon on the real meaning of the “eye for eye; tooth for tooth” thing, but I won’t do that, today.

What I want to talk about is Leviticus 24:22, which says this (CJB):

You are to apply the same standard of judgment to the foreigner as to the citizen, because I am Adonai your God.”

There has been heated and never-ending discussion since the middle of the First Century, as to which laws of the Torah apply to Jews, and which to Gentiles. I have often noted that the earliest Gentiles converting to the new movement which followed the Messiah of the Jews, wanted to separate themselves from the Jews because of the problems the Jews were having with Rome. In order to do so, they changed the Sabbath day and also did not require strict adherence to the Torah laws, only the 4 commands that they received from the Elders in Jerusalem (Acts 15). Later, under Constantine, these (now called) Christians further separated themselves by creating their own doctrine, tenets, and holidays.

This was never what God or Yeshua intended.

The problem with separating yourself and creating new ways of living and worshiping is that you now have to label it so we know who is who. Therefore, the Torah observant lifestyle was called Judaism, and the tenets and doctrines of Constantine were called Christianity. As Christians continued to change what was their idea of correct worship and what was not, they created new religions, each with its own label, until now there are some dozens of different religions within Christianity, all of whom are supposed to be worshiping the same God, who told everyone how he wants us to worship him when he gave those instructions to Moses.

When God said that his laws are to be the same for the foreigner as for the citizen, meaning a blood-descendent of Jacob, he was telling us that these are the only laws that apply, and they apply to everyone.  That means the letter the Gentiles received wasn’t superseding these laws, and that they, who were learning how to live according to the Torah, weren’t supposed to secede from Judaism. It simply meant that the only immediate lifestyle changes they must make were those 4 things and because they were going to the synagogue every Shabbat, they would learn the Torah and eventually become adapted to that lifestyle.

God has no religion, only his instructions for how to worship him and how to treat each other. He told Moses when he gave us the Torah that his chosen people were to be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6), and since priests are the ones who teach the laity how to worship and live as God wants them to, it is obvious that God gave the Torah to the Jews to bring to the world.

Here’s how it works: God told Moses when we obey the Torah we will be blessed (Deuteronomy 28), and he told Abraham that his descendants will be a blessing to the world (Genesis 22:18), so God gave the Jews the Torah so that, as Abrahams descendants, we could bring the Torah to the world, who could then receive the blessings God has for everyone who obeys his instructions.

In Israel today, the Arabs that live and work in Israel, whether male or female, receive the same pay, the same benefits, and the same coverages as the Israelis- can we say that was ever true in America? Even today?  Can we say that for almost anywhere else in the world? Throughout history, legal aliens were not given the same rights to property or work as the indigenous people were. Yet, in Israel, since the beginning, foreigners were treated as equals.

And here is an important thing to understand: the same law for the foreigner as for the citizen doesn’t just mean that the foreigner is to be treated the same way, but that he is also to act the same way.

If you say you worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then you are expected to do what the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob said you should do. And if you accept Yeshua as God’s Messiah and your savior, you should remember that he confirmed and taught everything his father said in the Torah. Really, if you say you believe in God and that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah, how can you possibly justify rejecting the lifestyle and form of worship that God commanded and which Yeshua lived?

Christians always say they want to do as Jesus did, but they reject how he worshiped and how he lived! And what is even more meshuggah is that they think God will be happy about that!

The same law for everyone means everyone is to be under the same law. If you reject God’s instructions, you reject God, and if you reject God you also reject the one he sent (Luke 10:16), so how can anyone be truly saved if they reject their savior?

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashot Acharai-Mot / Kedoshim 2020 Leviticus 16-18/19-20 (After the death/Holiness)

Just as we did last week, this week’s Torah reading will be a double reading.

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The first one comes directly after the death of Aaron’s two oldest sons for having offered unauthorized fire.  God gives the Cohen and the people the regulations for what is to be done on Yom Kippur.

He also tells us that any animal to be killed and eaten must be brought to the Tabernacle and slain there, as a peace offering, and that under no circumstances is the blood ever to be eaten.

By the way, the rabbis determined the regulation about not killing any animal without first bringing it to the Tabernacle was only required when the people were in the desert, and after being in the land it was only regarding animals killed as a sacrifice.

We are warned not to do any of the things that the Egyptians did, with regard to worship or social interactions.

In the next parashah, we are told right from the start that we are to be holy because our God is holy. God gives us laws that the rabbis teach fall into three categories: moral, ritual, and social.

The Golden Rule is found in this parashah (Leviticus 19:18) which says we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The rest of this parashah contains the regulations against necromancy, idol worship, child sacrifice, sexual perversities, and unlawful marriages, to include the specific punishments for each of these immoral activities.

Oh my! So much to talk about, so little time to do it.

What I want to talk about today is based on something that just happened to me, which was that I agreed to leave a Bible preaching group because their administrator and I disagree about which laws apply to which Believers. And this event, which just happened this morning, fits into the parashah regarding today.

One of the traditional Christian teachings is that the Mosaic Law is only for Jews and Christians are not required to follow it. They say they are under the Law of Christ (whatever that is) and therefore only required to obey the moral laws that God gave, which they restrict to the 10 Commandments.

Now, I am sure they agree they should also obey the laws against sexual perversities, since they are of a moral nature, and of course, they love Leviticus 19:18, although they change the wording. But as for those laws which are of a ritual or ceremonial nature, they say those are only for the Jews. That would include anything having to do with the sacrificial system, the Festivals we are to celebrate (Leviticus 23), and (in my opinion) pretty much anything else they just don’t want to do.

The idea that there are some laws for Jews and some laws for Christians is not justified by anything that God or Yeshua (Jesus) ever said. In fact, God tells us exactly who is subject to these laws, and they are his chosen people and anyone who sojourns with them (Leviticus 19:34).

Let’s take a minute to make sure we understand what sojourning, called residing in some Bibles, means- it doesn’t mean just hanging around with the Jews. It means to live with them, to accept their way of life, their God, and thereby all that they are required to do within their social and religious system. In other words, if someone who is not born of Jewish ancestry chooses to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they are, by definition, sojourning with the Jewish people. And throughout the Torah God states, more than once, that whosoever sojourns with his people will be treated the same as a natural-born Jew, meaning they have the same rights and privileges, and consequently, will be required to obey the same laws and practices.

I am constantly amazed and disappointed when I hear a Christian say they want to do as Jesus did, and then in the same breath tell me that they don’t have to follow the laws of Moses. They say they want to be like Jesus, but they reject the way he lived and worshiped. How can you do as Jesus did when you don’t do what Jesus did?  How can they be so blind to their own hypocrisy?

It’s because they have been taught to be blind, by those who themselves are blind. I call this type of person a Buffet Believer, and devote an entire chapter to this topic in my book, “Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion.

The idea that God gave some laws to Jews, some to Gentiles, and some to whomever else is not found anywhere in the Tanakh. However, if you want to find it in the New Covenant, you can find many, many passages that when taken out of context would seem to confirm this idea that Christians don’t have to obey the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) or any other “ceremonial” laws.

You know, God never specified which laws are ritual and which are moral- God simply said these are the laws. Period. He doesn’t specify any one Torah commandment being any more or less important than any other, and certainly never said any of them are optional.

The idea that some religions are subject to some of the laws in the Torah, and others are not, goes against everything God says. And if someone wants to send me passages from the New Covenant that appear to justify Christians do not have to obey all of God’s instructions, my response is that the letters in the New Covenant are mainly written by men to Gentile congregations that were having interpersonal relationship issues and on the verge of relapsing into paganism. The Apostles, all of whom were wise and holy men, were Jews who were confirming the Jewish lifestyle but giving the Gentiles leeway in how quickly they adapted to it.  Never, ever did any of the Apostles, and that includes Shaul (Paul), expect that these Gentiles learning how to live as God wants us to live would be exempted from following God’s instructions.

God has no religion, only his rules for how we are to worship him and how we are to treat each other. These instructions were given to Moses for the Jewish people to learn, and then as God’s nation of priests (Exodus 19:6), to bring it to the world.

God made a covenant with the Jewish people which we call the Mosaic Law, and anyone who wants to be in covenant with God must obey those laws. Traditional Christian teaching is that they are not under the Mosaic Law, which, by definition, means they are out of covenant with God. Christianity says they are under the Law of Christ, which isn’t really well defined but is, in fact, a term that Paul coined in his letters. Now, we all know that Jesus never did or said anything that wasn’t what his father told him to do or say, so to teach that Jesus taught against the Torah must be a lie. Therefore, if you reject the Mosaic Law, and that means any part of it, then you choose to not be in covenant with God.

Look at it this way: the Apostles were taking what they knew God said in the Tanakh and teaching it to the Gentiles, so they did it at a pace and level the Gentiles could deal with. You don’t learn Quantum Mechanics right away- you have to build up to it by learning basic arithmetic, then algebra, trigonometry, etc. This is why the New Covenant letters were addressed specifically to specific congregations, and dealing with their specific problems. The New Covenant doesn’t have directions dictated by God to a prophet, but only letters with instructions written by men teaching others what God said in the Tanakh. There is a BIG difference between God speaking through a prophet and men writing letters.

As for me, I would rather do as God said then as people say. What about you? Forget what humans have said you have to do, or don’t have to do, and look at the Bible- the entire Bible- and see what God says. Make your decision based on that, because when you meet God and tell him that you were doing only what they told you you had to do, he might say something like this:

“My child, I understand you did as they told you to do, but it is what I say that counts.”

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashot Tazria-Mezora 2020 (Leviticus 12-13/ 14-15)

Because this is a leap year, the Jewish calendar adds an additional month, Adar Rishon, so that it remains in proper sync with the Gregorian calendar.  As such, there are times when, in order for the annual cycle of the Torah readings to end on Shemini Atzeret (the 8th day of Sukkot), we will have a double parashah reading (the plural of “Parashah” is “Parashot”.) This Shabbat is one of those occasions.

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Both of these readings deal with uncleanliness, which would prevent one from being allowed to enter the Sanctuary and in some cases requires isolating the person until the condition is determined to be resolved. The first reading deals with leprosy (which in Hebrew is called Tzara’at) of the body, clothes, and even the walls of the house, and the second reading deals with uncleanliness caused by bodily excretions, such as a seminal emission and menstrual flow.

The Torah tells us how to determine if the tzara’at is contagious or not, and also what sacrifice is required for either of these forms of uncleanliness, once the person has been declared clean. With regard to those suffering tzara’at, until such time as the person is declared clean, they are to be isolated from the rest of the community.

The laws of purification are complex, and there are those who argue they were instituted for hygienic reasons, and those who argue they are purely levitical (religious); the former hold that these laws prevent the spread of disease and the latter that they are designed to bring us to a more holy station in life.

There are good arguments for both, and I believe that they are two sides of the same coin, being complementary and not exclusionary.

I find it very interesting that these readings, dealing with the need to isolate those with an infectious disease, occur at this point in time when the world is experiencing the same, exact sort of problem.  We are all in a form of isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The one main difference is that the current isolation is not for religious reasons at all, but strictly to (hopefully) prevent the further spread of the disease.

But is there a religious side to it?

I think we can look at this pandemic as a way to gauge the spiritual status of a country. For instance, here in America, our politicians (who have been at odds since the election of the current President) are not working together at all to help the citizens, but using the current panic to play the “Blame Game”; one side saying the administration didn’t do enough, fast enough, and the administration saying they did what they did in a timely manner and when they wanted to do more, they were held up passing legislation because the opposing party wanted to fill the legislation with their own “pork”.

In the meantime, the people these politicians are supposed to help and work for suffered and will suffer even more after this de facto Martial Law is lifted because we will be in a recession.

Worst of all is the media, which has unquestionably been at the forefront of the panic and, in my opinion, directly caused the panic with their sensationalism and irresponsible reporting. And as I have said many times, Satan is called the Prince of Power of the Air (Ephesians 2:2), and all our news, whether through radio, TV, or the Internet goes through the air.

This nation used to be God-fearing and brave, but that was way back when I was a kid and God was still a valuable asset to this country. We were formed by the need to worship God, we included God in our government and schools, and we based how we lived on God’s rules. That’s not the way it is today; we have kicked God out of the government, out of the schools, and even out of the workplace. We ignore God and his instructions but are overly sensitive to possibly offending godless people. Americans today are offended by any spoken word, insult and ridicule God-fearing people, are totally self-absorbed, and worship sports figures, movie stars, and science.

The Enemy has been watching and evaluating when the best time will be for him to make his move. He is readying his forces on earth (if you think I am talking about China, you are right, but it’s not just China) and I believe he has already begun his attack. His attack started with a diversion, the Covid-19 attack, which is using the godless people of the media and government to throw all their attention to the popular fear of infection when the real attack is against our economy.  And not just the economy of America, but of the world because if America suffers economic devastation, it will become world-wide economic devastation.

The current program of isolation in America is the means to an end; not just for slowing the spread of this current pandemic (which, by the way, won’t really keep more people from catching it in the long run) but for setting us up for the Antichrist to gain a foothold in order to take charge of this country, then the world. When America falls, the world will follow because we are still the most powerful nation in, and the leader of, the world.

The Shabbat reading for tonight couldn’t be more appropriate and timely.  We are suffering from an infectious and deadly disease, but it isn’t tzara’at or Covid-19, it is faithlessness and apostasy. This pandemic has proven that people today are easily controlled by fear, which is not what the Spirit of God gives, but is a tool of the Enemy.

People are not saying “Goodbye” anymore, they are saying “Be safe”, but I think we should be saying, “Trust God and don’t be ruled by fear.”

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!