Parashah Tzav 2022 (Give an order) Leviticus 6 – 8

God continues to explain the sacrificial system rules to Moses. He gives the instructions for the burnt offering, the meal offering, the guilt offering, the peace and thanks offerings, and we end with the consecration of the priests being performed.

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The parashah has many details about these sacrifices: what to wear, how to be cleansed, the type of bread to use, and many other fine details. So many details that you would think this is one of the most important things to do in order to be obedient to the Lord.

But let’s look at the Haftorah portion, which starts with Jeremiah 7:21.

God states that his commandments weren’t just to sacrifice, but to walk in his ways so that things will go well with us.

We see this same message throughout the Prophets:

Going through the motions of sacrifice aren’t as important as living the
way God wants us to live in our daily activities.

In other words, it is obedience to all that God says regarding worship and interpersonal relationships that matters to God.

God isn’t interested in sacrifice if there is no heartfelt repentance behind it. Through the prophets, God constantly tells the people that their sacrifices, although being made in accordance with the rules, mean nothing to him because there is no real intention to repent behind them.

People who say they are good Christians (or Jews, for that matter) because they go to church/shul every Sabbath, tithe, and are active members of the Men’s or Woman’s Club think that they are fine with God, but every other day they do whatever their sinful desires tell them to do.

People go to confession, tell their dirty little secrets to the Priest, recite the “Ah Father’s” and “Hail Mary’s”, drop a few bucks in the Collection Box and then go home to do drugs, have sex out of wedlock, eat pork rinds while watching the game, or cheat on their taxes.

Sacrifice without repentance is useless.

Calling on the Name of the Lord without repentance is useless.

Asking for forgiveness in Yeshua’s (Jesus) name with repentance is useless.

And living your life unrepentant is never, ever going to get you to heaven.

And how do we show true repentance?

By the way you live your life outside of the church or synagogue.

And that way is to follow God’s instructions. And, if you want to know where those are, look into the first five books of the Bible.

And I ain’t talkin’ about the 4 Gospels and Acts, I am talking about the TORAH!

There is no other place anywhere between Genesis and Revelation where God gives direct dictation to anyone regarding how he wants things to be done, except in the Torah. What Shaul (Paul) says, what Kefa (Peter) says, what Yochanon (John) says, what Yacov (James) says, or what any human being says is not more important than, or can overrule what God says.

Shaul wrote to Gentiles who were learning how to live as God wants us to live, and since it was such a different lifestyle for them, he brought them along in stages, step by step, precept-by-precept, and James (Acts 15) suggested they start small and learn the rest of what they need to do as they continue to attend Shabbat services.

The bottom line is that God gave us instructions how to worship him and how to treat each other, and the sacrificial system is the means for us to be forgiven when we fail to do as God said (we call that “sin”).

But what this Haftorah portion says, as well as so many other places in the Books of the Prophets, is that sacrifice without repentance, which is demonstrated through how we live our daily lives, means nothing to God.

In fact, God says through Isaiah (Isaiah 1:11-14) that he gets no pleasure from the blood of bulls and goats and that the people should stop bringing their worthless grain offerings. He goes as far as to say they are like disgusting incense to him! He says he can’t stand evil together with their assemblies, and when they spread out their hands to him, he will hide his face and not listen to them.

Wait a minute! Something’s not right here…how could God, totally trustworthy to do as he says he will do and incapable of lying, refuse to do as he says he will, which is to forgive us when we sacrifice to him and save us when we call on his Name?

The answer is that it isn’t God who is lying and not doing as he said he would, it is US!

We are to come before God repentant and willing to do t’shuva (to turn, as in turning from sin), but when we are just going through the motions, God knows it and we are the ones who are not keeping our side of the covenant.

So be a good Christian and go to church on Sunday, then steal paper products and pens from your office on Monday; be a good Jew and go to Shul on Saturday, then eat pork sausages with Canadian bacon for breakfast on Sunday.

We are to do as God says ALL THE TIME, and when we do as he says ALL THE TIME, then we get blessed: it doesn’t work the other way around.

Yes, the parochet was torn from top to bottom, indicating that salvation comes from God to us, but not until after we send up repentance, heartfelt t’shuvah, and demonstrate it through our daily activities which are to be in accordance with how God said we should act.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word”.

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And remember- I always welcome your comments… C’mon, let’s drash!

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah V’yikra 2022 (And he called) Leviticus 1 – 5

Moses is instructed by God to teach the people the rules for the different sacrifices to be made. These include the burnt, meal, peace, sin, and guilt offerings.

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The types of animals and foodstuffs that are acceptable are outlined, as well as the procedures and requirements which the High Priest and the people must follow.

This book is the central book of the Torah, and was called Torah Cohanim (The Book of the Priests). It covers two essential aspects of righteous living: Sacrifice and Holiness.

The sacrifice chapters teach us how we can re-commune with God after sinning: sin separates us from God, but we can find forgiveness through repentance and sacrifice, which cleanses us, making it possible to again come into the presence of the Lord.

The chapters regarding holiness deal with what we should eat and the types of intimate personal relationships that are proper, culminating with the Day of Atonement. It also deals with certain physiological conditions that can render a person unclean (tzara’at, bodily emissions, childbirth, etc.).

There are 29 chapters in this book, so somewhere in Chapter 14 we come to the center of the book that is the center of the Torah. And what does that chapter cover?

It talks about the cleansing from tzara’at, otherwise known as leprosy.

Leprosy was a very nasty thing, not just for the physical deterioration it caused, but that it also required separating the individual from the community. That person had to indicate they were unclean and were not allowed to enter the sanctuary. Their disease kept them separated from society, and even from worshiping where God placed his name.

That means that they could not bring a sacrifice to the Tent of Meeting (later to the temple), therefor they could not be forgiven of their sins.

Like I said, it was a nasty thing.

Yet, there was always a chance they might become clean, again. When they first see the tzara’at, they go to the Cohen (priest) who, by following the instructions in these chapters, determines if it is leprosy or just some rash. Once it is determined to be leprosy, the individual is exiled from the camp and stays outside the camp until the tzara’at is gone. If it does clear up, the person goes to the Cohen who examines them; if the tzara’at is gone, the individual can again join the community (after confirmation the disease doesn’t return for a week, and after they perform a sacrifice which, being cleansed, they can now do). Now that they are again a member of the community they can worship in the sanctuary, which means they can obtain forgiveness.

So, what I find interesting is that sin is like a spiritual tzara’at: it separates us from God’s presence, and it also separates us from the community of Believers. When we sin we must repent and show our tzara’at (sin) to the Cohen, which is a formal confession. Unlike within Roman Catholicism, where you go into a booth, ask a priest to hear your confession, then ask him for forgiveness, we confess our sins to the one and only High Priest, Yeshua, who will take our request to God.

God is the only one who can forgive sins, and when we ask for his forgiveness through Yeshua, we will be forgiven.

I like this idea of the central book of the Torah being centered on cleanliness. I see the entire message of God’s word to be one of holiness (Be thou holy, as I am holy), and the means of being holy, which is to be clean both physically and spiritually, is covered in Leviticus.

If you haven’t read the Torah, or maybe just gone through it, sort of scanning the parts you find interesting, this is one book I suggest you do not skip through.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages, subscribe to my YouTube channel and website (they are different lists), join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word”, and remember that I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Pekudey 2022 (Accounts) Exodus 38:21 – 40

These final chapters of the Book of Exodus relate the details of the Tabernacle, how everything was done exactly as Moses had directed, which God had shown him, and when it was all done, Moses blessed the people.

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God tells Moses to erect the Tabernacle (also known as the Tent of Meeting) on the first day of the first month, which was in the second year after leaving Egypt and 9 months after coming to Mount Sinai. The work on the tent took 4 months.

The High Priest, Aaron, is anointed and so are his sons, and after the work was all done and the Ark of the Covenant placed in the Holy of Holies, the shekinah glory of the LORD filled the tent, so much so that Moses was not able to enter it.

As we always say at the end of a book of the Torah:

Chazak, Chazak, v’nit Chazek!!

(Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened).

There is much in this book to wonder about.

Did the Jews really see the glory of God on Sinai, or was it just a meteorological event?

Did Moses’ face really shine?

Did the Red Sea really split open or did the tide just go out?

Were the Jewish people really ever enslaved in Egypt?

Many people can look to the events in Exodus- in fact, throughout the Bible- and doubt that they occurred as stated. It is very easy to view the Torah miracles with modern “eyes”, now that we are all knowledgeable in science. So, using science to explain events, people may be able to say, in a scholarly manner, that the Nile turned to blood because of a silt deposit issue that happened upstream. That then caused the fish to die, causing the frogs to leave the water, causing the flies and other insects to gather, and those insects would bite the people and cattle causing the boils and sores, etc.

It is easy to discard the miracles that God performed by explaining them away with scientific reasoning.

But does explaining how a miracle could have happened make it any less of a miracle? After all, even if we know why the Nile turned red, didn’t something, somewhere have to happen first?

If the Nile turned red because of something that happened upstream, such as an abundance of silt being dislodged and travelling downstream changing the color of the water, or some fungus or algae growth turning the waters red, didn’t something have to send the silt or put the algae there?

Where did the algae come from, in the first place?

This is the problem with science- it explains how things happen, but it doesn’t explain how the thing happening started.

The Big Bang Theory about the universe was proven by the discovery of radio waves coming from space, which represented an extreme release of radioactivity (as from a gigantic explosion) after billions of years of half-life decomposition. So, does that mean God didn’t create the universe? I mean, someone had to light that fuse for the explosion, right?

Look at life on earth. We have fossil proof that there have been lower forms of life that have gradually, over millions of years become more advanced. Science calls it evolution, which in plain English means accidental mutations that have increased the survivability of the species.

But why not Intelligent Design? My belief is that God created different life forms, at different times, and has allowed some to die out and others to remain. In order to make the remaining species capable of living in a changing environment, he “tweaked” their DNA a bit.

Doesn’t that better explain how so many different life-forms have succeeded in surviving? How many times have you heard of a mutation, other than the X-Men, that actually made the mutated animal stronger? How many mutations that we have seen in modern times have been beneficial?

None that I know of.

Anyone can argue against the Bible, and make it sound reasonable. The issue really isn’t about whether or not everything stated in the Bible is absolutely accurate, although the Bible has been proven to be an accurate historical document, with much of its narrative being verified by archaeological evidence.

No. The issue is not biblical accuracy or definitive proof of the events that are related in the Bible. The issue always comes down to one of faith.

James says that faith is believing in things that are unseen and unproven (Hebrews 11:1), and I have often stated that faith is a choice.

I was unsure for most of my life- the first 40 years or so, and when I finally decided I was going to make up my mind about God, his messiah, and all that stuff, after listening to people and reading a Messianic New Covenant, I chose to believe that what I read is true. I chose to believe in God; I chose to believe that Yeshua is my Messiah; and I have since chosen to remain faithful to my Jewish upbringing by remaining obedient to God’s instructions in the Torah, rejecting much of what traditional Christianity has taught about the Torah being only for Jews and not for those who are Born Again. .

And I choose to be this way, despite the fact that my fellow Jews say I can’t be Jewish if I believe in Jesus and Christians tell me I can’t be saved if I still do all that “Jewish” stuff.

So read Exodus and revel in the miraculous ways that God saved his people, giving them the way to live and worship in order to walk the path of righteousness.

Or, read it with a skeptical and cynical mindset, explaining the miracles away with scientific hoo-hah and denying the divine interventions.

As for me, I choose to believe in God, to believe what I read in this book of the Bible to be accurate and true, and to faithfully maintain this position no matter how “sensible” arguments against it may sound.

And I unwaveringly choose to be a Torah observant Jew while proclaiming and accepting that Yeshua is my Messiah.

To me, with Jews on one side denying me my Jewish heritage and Christians on the other side denying me my salvation through Messiah, I must be on a very narrow path leading to a very skinny gate.

And if so, then I am on the right path.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe to my YouTube channel and my ministry website. While on the website, please buy my books. Also, on Facebook like my page and join my discussion group called “Just God’s Word” (please read and accept the rules).

Oh, yes, of course please share these messages with everyone to help this ministry continue to grow.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah V’Yakhel 2022 (And he assembled) Exodus 35 – 38:20

By the way, in case anyone noticed that my usual Thursday message wasn’t posted yesterday, it’s because when you are retired, every day is a weekend. If it wasn’t for the letter on the top of my pill holder that I see when having my coffee, I wouldn’t know what day of the week it is. So, yesterday, somehow I thought it was Friday when I started to do my message and by the time I finished the message and realized it was Thursday, well, I figured I had done enough for one day.

This parashah brings us to the final part of the Book of Exodus, which is a detailed description (and I mean, DETAILED!) of the work done building the Tabernacle, also called the Tent of Meeting.

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

We are told that Bezalel and Oholiab have been divinely gifted with all the knowledge necessary for the manufacturing of the articles needed, as well as the tent coverings, embroidery work, bronze work, engraving, and they can make the incense, as well.

The first thing we are told, before the details about the construction work, is that when Moses asked the people to give the materials needed for the building of the Tabernacle, they gave so much that the workers had to tell Moses to have them stop, because not only was there enough to do the work, there was way too much!

The next chapters describe the actual work being done, including the number of loops on each curtain, what the curtains are made of, the length and breadth of the supporting timbers, and just about any detail of the Tabernacle construction you can imagine.

This parashah is one of the more boring things to go through when reading the Bible.

Yes, I said boring, and I mean it!

This isn’t the only boring part: in Ezekiel 41-43:17, we are told about every square inch of the Temple being measured by the angel. I also find going through the diatribe in much of Job to be somewhat of a drag to read.

There is also the repetition of the gifts brought to the Tabernacle by the tribes, each tribe giving the exact same thing, but still, we have to read about every item, from each tribe (Numbers 7).

Oh, let’s not forget the first 7 chapters of 1 Chronicle, which tells the lineage of each and every tribe of Israel, starting with the sons of Jacob.

Yet, as boring and difficult as these (and other passages) are to go through, I still read every word. Why? Because I never know what God will reveal to me through his word.

How many times have you read something, over and over and over- then one day you read it and BAM!!! – something wonderful is revealed to you? You suddenly see a relationship to another part of the Bible you never noticed, or maybe you recognize a message that is appropriate to your life right now that never really was so appropriate before, but now makes a significant difference in how you see things.

One of the most wonderful things about reading the Bible, and I mean the entire Bible (Genesis through Revelation), is that one day, out of the blue, you read something that makes perfect sense to you and you think to yourself, “Why didn’t I ever see this before?”

So today’s message is simple: don’t shortcut the Bible.

Don’t get one of those “Passage-a-Day” calendars because all you ever get, really, when taking a sentence or passage out of context (which is what those daily devotional things do) is most likely going to be a misunderstanding of what God meant. But, if you really, really have to have one of those daily devotional ditties, PLEASE! -open your Bible and read the entire paragraph to make sure that you understand what that passage really means.

Read the Bible every day, and if you find it difficult to find the time, do what I do- leave it in the bathroom. That is the one place I know that every day I will be spending a few minutes all alone, and no one will even want to be there with me, so I can read a chapter or two in complete silence and privacy.

I think of it this way: God is always on his throne, and by reading my Bible in the bathroom, I read about God on his throne while I am on mine.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website (messianicmoment.com) and to my YouTube channel, as well. And, while you are on my website, please consider buying my books.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Ki Tessa 2022 (When you take) Exodus 30:11 – 34

This reading starts with God telling Moses that every male over 20 needs to pay a half-shekel as a ransom for their life. This ransom is in accordance with the ransom one pays when killing someone accidentally, as in when in battle.

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Moses is further instructed on how to make the incense to be burnt before the Lord, which no one else is to make for personal use. Men are assigned (Bezalel and Oholiab) to help Moses construct all that God has ordered to be done.

Moses has been on the mountain now for 40 days and nights, and what happens in Exodus Chapter 32 is the Sin of the Golden Calf, when the people turned away from God and backslid to their comfort zone, reestablishing the Egyptian religious practice of worshipping the calf.

God tells Moses to go to the camp to witness their great sin, and when he sees it for himself, Moses becomes enraged, breaking the two tablets God gave him with the Ten Words, grinding the calf to powder, and telling the people that those who are for the Lord should come to him.

The tribe of Levi comes to him, and Moses charges them with assassinating all those who sinned against God, resulting in the death of thousands.

Moses pleads before God for forgiveness, and God says that he will no longer go with the people because he fears that if he continues to dwell among them, he will destroy them for their constant wickedness and stiff-necked rebellion. He tells Moses to inform them that he will send an angel to guide them instead of being with them.

The people are so distraught over this they repent and strip themselves of their jewelry (as a sign of humility). Moses goes before God and says that if God won’t go with these people, please let them remain where they are because if God doesn’t travel with them, how will the nations know that they are God’s chosen? God relents and agrees, based on his relationship with Moses, to continue to travel with the people.

At this point, Moses asks God to teach him what God wants from them so that he will know, and thereby be able to make sure the people always stay within God’s will. Moses also asks God to show his Glory to Moses, which God agrees to do but Moses may see only his back as he passes, for no man can see the face of God and live.

As God passes by, he announces himself, which is called the 13 Attributes of God (Exodus 34:5-7).

Finally, God gives Moses another set of tablets and reviews the commandments, again orders Moses to utterly destroy all the pagan peoples, along with their idols and standing stones when they enter the Land. The Israelites are not to intermix with the surrounding peoples not to be destroyed and they must never worship their gods.

The parashah ends with the story of how, after meeting with God this second time, Moses’ face puts out beams of light, which scares the people, so he begins to wear a veil over his face except when talking with God in the Tent of Meeting.

Oy! So much stuff here- the sin of the Golden Calf, Moses’ pleading with God to forgive the people (this is something he will end up doing all too often), and the commandment for the people to remain totally separated from the surrounding nations.

I don’t believe in coincidences when it comes to things of God, and this morning before I started this message I was commenting on a post from a friend in my Facebook group (Just God’s Word) about how the Jews, during the time of the Judges, intermixed with and ended up being seduced into sin by the surrounding people because they did not keep totally separated from them. I think my comment to my friend on his post is appropriate here, as well.

God tells us to remain separate, and that is good advice. But when we read about the Pharisees condemning Yeshua (Jesus) for eating with sinners, Yeshua’s answer is that he did not come to call the righteous, but the sick. So here we have a bit of a conundrum: God says stay apart from sinners, and his son the Messiah, says socialize with them.

You might say the difference here is that God was talking about Jews socializing with Gentiles, but Yeshua was talking about Jews socializing with other Jews, who were sinful. After all, Yeshua says he was sent only to the lost tribes of Israel (Matthew 15:24), so he was staying within God’s commandment to be separated from the Gentiles.

But what about in Matthew 28:19, when Yeshua was being lifted up into heaven and told his Talmudim to make disciples from all the nations on earth?

God said to remain totally separated from the Gentiles, but here Yeshua is saying to socialize with them, in order to bring them into God’s kingdom.

There’s that conundrum, again.

So, how do I reconcile these polar opposite positions?

I can’t, at least not until we come to Acts 10, where Kefa (Peter) is given a vision that leads to God allowing the Gentiles to receive the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and through their repentance and conversion to God’s commandments given to Moses, be allowed to also enter the Kingdom of God. And this is hermeneutically validated by the prophecies of Isaiah, where we read that the Messiah will be a light to the Goyim (literally, “nations”, meaning all the Gentiles.)

So the conundrum has been resolved- we are not to marry with or worship with those who do not believe in God, and we are not to have intimate (meaning close, personal relationships) with sinners.

But we can socialize with them to the degree where we are a light to their darkness, and by our example provide a means for them to have the opportunity to repent from their sin and enter into God’s Grace.

So, remain separate from sinners when they are sinning and do not intermarry with sinful people. Do not develop a close friendship with them, but do socialize with them enough to provide an example of God’s influence and blessings in your life.

Bring the Good News of the Messiah to everyone, to the Jew first and then to the Gentile, but do not become so friendly that you are ensnared by their sinful lifestyle. Keep an invisible parochet between you and them, and if they repent and accept the Messiah, the parochet will (again) be torn from top to bottom allowing them to pass through to God’s side.

Thank you for being here. Please subscribe to my ministry (messianicmoment.com) and to my YouTube channel, as well (same name). Share these messages with everyone you know and when on my website, consider buying my books: if you like what you get here, you will like my books, as well (after all, I wrote them).

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Mishpatim 2022 (Rulings) Exodus 21 – 24

God now gives Moses the laws making up a Penal Code, covering indentured servitude, murder (the difference between intended and accidental), kidnapping/ human trafficking, torts, payment for loss of time, and other crimes. http://www.messianicmoment.com/video-for-parashah-mishpatim-2022/

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

God also outlines the laws and punishment for moral offenses, such as seduction and sodomy. He outlaws witchcraft, polytheism, and finishes with the laws and ordinances regarding loans and pledges.

God also defines how we are to act towards each other and even towards our enemies, to be just and fair in all court cases, and not to allow our own dislike of a person to interfere with treating that person and their property with justice.

God also decrees the three annual pilgrimages to the temple, which are the Feast of Unleavened Bread, first fruits, and the harvest festival; today, these are known as Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot.

The parashah ends with Moses, Arron (and his sons), and the 70 Elders being called to the mountain which Moses, alone, ascends and he remains there for forty days and nights.

To clarify some of the terms in the Torah which we discuss here, and you may have heard elsewhere, the main word we hear a lot of is mitzvot, which means “laws”.

Within Judaism, there are three types of Mitzvot: Mishpatim, Chukkim, and Eidot. Mishpatim are easily understood laws, such as the prohibition against theft and murder; chukkim are ceremonial laws, such as the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) and family purity. The reasoning for chukkim isn’t always as obvious as with the mishpatim. Eidot (testimonials) are laws that come somewhere between the mishpatim (obvious) and chukkim (not so obvious), such as eating matzo during Passover and the wearing of Tefillin.

There really is only one thing I want to talk about from this parashah, and that is the subject of obedience.

Over the millennia since God told Moses what he expected (or better yet, demanded) from the Israelites, there have been many other religions that have come out of the Torah. And not just out of the Torah in terms of the Torah being the source document, but totally out of the Torah, as in not having anything at all to do with it!

Christianity does, for the most part, ignore most of the Torah, taking from it the 10 commandments (and in some Christian religions violating the 2nd Commandment) and leaving the rest behind. That’s mainly because what we call Christianity today has nothing to do with Christ, i.e. Yeshua the Messiah: almost every single rule, dictate, regulation, holiday, and ritual associated with Christianity is man-made and not the way Yeshua lived or worshiped.

That being said, even within Judaism many of the commandments, laws, ordinances, and regulations God gave us have been twisted around due to Halacha (the Walk), which are the rabbinic rules for how we are to perform and obey these laws. The problem is that in the Talmud, the rabbis have identified their own methods for obedience, more often than not adding to the way to perform these laws in our everyday lives. And in some cases, as Yeshua pointed out to the Pharisees, the rabbinic regulations are given precedence over what God said to do.

Of course, the people who created these laws and regulations thought they were doing what God wants, but when you read the Talmud, which starts off with the Torah, and read all the different theological battles and opposing interpretations of the Torah portion they are discussing, you can’t help but realize Halacha is made up of individual beliefs and not God-dictated performance.

But within Christianity, you don’t see the Torah, at all.

So the lesson today is this: God tells us what we are to do, taken as dictation from God to Moses, in the Torah. These first five books of the Bible are God-directed instructions.

The prophets were given dictation from God, so what the prophets wrote and said to the people; and, even if there was some individual method of speaking involved, what we read in the books of the prophets was basically God-dictated messages repeated by the prophet.

Anything else, such as the other books of the Tanakh and the entire B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant) are nothing more than man-made rules. The Talmudic and Christian rituals and practices are not (exactly) what God said to do.

Here is the simple truth about the way the world is today: there are too many religions that profess to be worshiping of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, most of which accept Yeshua as the Messiah God promised to send, but worship any old way they want to, ignoring, rejecting, and even ridiculing the way God said we should worship.

God has no religion! God told us the way he wants us to worship and how to treat each other, and he did that by dictating it to Moses, who wrote it down so there wouldn’t be any confusion or misunderstanding. God gave it to the Jewish people, who he chose to be his nation of priests (Ex. 19:6) so they could teach it to the world.

So, if you want to worship God and do so in the manner he wants you to, then all you need to know is here in the Torah. Anything else you are told by your Rabbi, Priest, Minister, Pastor, or whatever, is man-made and useless drek that won’t score you any salvation points.

For me, with regards to the rules, holidays, rituals, etc. that are man-made, if it doesn’t overrule or go against what God said, I can decide if I want to obey or not.

Here’s the bottom line: when you come before God on Judgement Day (and you WILL come before him), and say:

“But I did what they told me I should do.”

I can’t speak for God, but I expect he might say something like this:

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

I don’t know about you, but I do NOT want to hear that when I am standing in front of his throne. I hope to hear something like, “Well done, good and faithful servant”, so for me, that means paying attention to the Torah commandments, regulations, laws, and ordinances.

What do you want to hear when you come before the Lord Almighty?

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Also, please subscribe to this ministry and my YouTube channel, buy my books, and I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Yithro 2022 (Jethro) Exodus 18 – 20

In this parashah, we are told that Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, meets him in the desert after they have been three months out of Egypt. Jethro has with him Zipporah and the two sons of Moses, who were sent to Jethro before Moses even got to Egypt (according to the Chumash, this was done back in Exodus 4:24-26).

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Jethro sees Moses handling every single complaint and problem that the people have, and recommends Moses assign people under him who will handle the everyday issues, bringing to him only those issues that need to be taken to a higher court (thus, the Torah established the court system we still use today, with lower courts and higher courts of appeal).

The people draw near to Mount Sinai (also called Mount Horeb) and God has Moses tell the people to prepare for three days in order to be ready, because God is going to show himself to all the people, to completely remove all doubts about Moses’s authority.

On the third day, God descends in a cloud of fire and smoke on the mountain, announced by a loud and long shofar blast. He then proclaims, so that all could hear, the Decalogue- the Ten Commandments.

The final command God gives to Moses in this parashah is that any altar to God is to be made of earth or uncut stone- no tool is ever to touch the materials any altar to God is made from.

Wow! The 10 Commandments! This parashah gives me enough spiritual fodder to talk for a long time, but don’t be scared- I am not even going to discuss the Big 10 today.

Neither will I discuss the Haftorah portion, which includes Isaiah 4:5-6, where we are told a child will be born to us. You see, the Chumash- being a Jewish book for Jews- identifies this messianic passage as anything BUT messianic, ascribing it to the birth of King Hezekiah. And that is probably true, in that Hezekiah did bring the kingdom together for the first time since Solomon, and he did rule justly, but within Judaism, we do not accept the messianic aspect of this passage.

Of course, I do. But, if you ask any non-Believing Jew, because I accept Yeshua as my Messiah, I am no longer a Jew. But, this topic and discussion are for a different time.

What I do want to talk about is something I have mentioned many times, and will undoubtedly mention many times again, which is Exodus 19:5-7 (CJB). This is what God says to Moses in that passage:

Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep my covenant,
then you will be my own treasure from among all the peoples, for all the
earth is mine; and you will be a kingdom of cohanim for me, a nation set
apart. These are the words you are to speak to the people of Israel.

This statement should be of paramount importance to anyone who claims to be a Christian. Why? I’ll tell you why: it means that the Torah is not just for Jews, but for everyone in the world.

You may be thinking “How can he say that?” when traditional Christian teaching has always been that the Jews have their Torah, and Christians have Grace through Jesus.

True, those who accept Yeshua as their Messiah can receive God’s grace, but so can Jews, who were, frankly, receiving God’s grace long before there were any Christians.

This commission from God to the Jewish people, which was for them to be God’s own nation of priests, means that the Torah was to be taught to the Jewish people first, then to the Gentiles (does that sound familiar? Maybe because it is what Shaul said about salvation in Romans 1:16).

Salvation is not just from faith, but from faith that motivates us to be obedient to God (just ask Jimmy- he said that in his letter to the Jews in the Diaspora.)

When God commissioned the Jews to be his nation of Cohanim (priests) he was indicating, beyond question, that the Torah was for all people. After all, what does a priest do? The priest serves God, in both leading the people in proper worship and teaching them what God requires of them.

So, if the Jewish people are to be God’s nation of priests, and God gives them the Torah, the only conclusion we can draw is that the Jews were to learn the requirements of God (from the Torah) and teach them to the Gentiles.

God promises Abraham that his descendants will be a blessing to the world (Genesis 22:18), so how are people blessed by Abraham’s descendants? They have to obey God, for God promises he will bless all who obey him (Deuteronomy 28): the missing part of this is what does God want us to do to receive those blessings?

THAT is why the Jews are God’s Chosen people- chosen right here in Exodus 19 to be his priests to the world in order to teach the people what they must do to receive those blessings.

God first gives the Jews the Torah, which tells them how to live and worship so that they will receive blessings and attain salvation (although we do need Yeshua to make salvation possible), then God commissions the Jews to be his priests to bring the Torah to the Gentiles, who (through the Jewish people) will also be able to receive blessings and salvation, completing God’s promise to Abraham that his descendants will be a blessing to the world.

See how it all comes together?

So, if you are Christian and have been told that the Torah is not valid anymore, or that it is only for Jews, sorry to burst your bubble, but as the song goes, “It ain’t necessarily so.”

The biblical truth is obvious- the Torah was never meant just for the Jews, only that they would receive it first so that they could learn it to be God’s priests to bring it to the Gentiles. And later, through his nation of cohanim, God also sent his Cohen haGadol (High Priest), Yeshua.

Yeshua did not replace the Torah, he replaced the need to bring an animal sacrifice to the temple in Jerusalem, and through that replacement made forgiveness of sin possible after the temple was destroyed.

The Torah and Messiah Yeshua are not exclusive of each other- they are both sides of the one coin, which is salvation: you cannot be saved without both.

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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Beshallach 2022 (It came to pass) Exodus 13:7 -17

The children of Israel have been freed from the slavery of the Pharaoh and are in the desert. God has them encamp between Migdal and the Red Sea (also called the Sea of Suf), knowing that Pharaoh will see this as his chance to reclaim the Israelites.

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When the Israelites saw the chariots of Pharaoh coming, they immediately cried out to Moses, asking “Why have you brought us out into the desert, just to die?”

Moses calls to God, who tells him to split the Red Sea and have the people walk across it. God keeps the Egyptians at bay with a cloud of fire and after the people have crossed the sea, he removes the cloud so the army can pursue them.

Once the Egyptian army is deep within the sea, God tells Moses to close the waters over them and throws the army into a panic, so that in the end, the entire army is drowned.

Egypt, now, is a total mess: the crops and herds are decimated, the army is destroyed, and the people, whose firstborn have been killed, are devastated.

After singing praise to God for his salvation from Pharaoh, they soon find themselves near water, but the water is undrinkable, and they again carp to Moses about why he brought them there just to die. God has Moses throw a certain tree into the water, which makes it potable.

Later, they again complain about the lack of bread and meat, so God sends quails and manna in order to satisfy their hunger; but, because instead of praying to God they carped and complained, showing a lack of faith, God also sent a plague while the meat was still in their mouths as punishment for their rebellious and distrustful attitude.

Later on, they again complained about needing water, and Moses (by the command of God) struck a rock, which brought forth water for the people.

Later in the Torah (Numbers 20), we are told the same thing happened at the end of the 40 years in the desert, just after Miriam dies. However, at that time Moses becomes so angered with the people he strikes the rock twice, not giving the credit to God; for that, he is punished by being prevented from entering the land.

This parashah ends with the attack by the Amalekites, and we read how Moses stood on high ground so all Israel could see him, and when his hands were raised, the Israelites would be winning. But when he lowered his hands, the Amalekites would be winning, so when his hands got too tired to remain raised, Aaron and Hur stood on either side of Moses, keeping his hands up until the Amalekites were defeated. God tells Moses to write this attack as a memorial in the Torah, and that God will utterly blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.

It isn’t until we get to Deuteronomy 25:17 that we realize why God was so angered about this attack. You see, Amalek came out against the Jews but not against the main force: they snuck up on the rear and attacked the lame, the elderly, and the tired who were lagging behind. Their attack was both cowardly and, as any Klingon would tell you, they were without honor.

When reading about the Red Sea victory over Egypt, there is something I never understood- why would the people think Pharaoh wanted to kill them? He didn’t want to let them go because of the service they performed as slaves, so why kill them, now? I think it is obvious he wanted to recapture them. The only answer I can give is that they were so totally faithless in God, they were afraid of everything. They couldn’t see the good in life, only the bad, and so instead of being able to think positively, all they ever saw was the worst possible scenario in every aspect of their existence. And we see this constant faithlessness in their continual complaints to Moses.

This is a problem that still exists today, and people’s fear of everything is founded on a lack of faith in God. Whether or not a particular religion accepts Yeshua as the Messiah, or as a Rabbi, or a Prophet, or even believe he is God, himself, my experience with human beings is that, as a species, we are more pessimistic than trusting.

Yes, I said “trusting” instead of “optimistic” because you can’t be optimistic without trust. Whether your trust is in God, or some other supernatural entity, without trust in something more powerful than yourself, you cannot be optimistic about anything.

I’m sorry? You’re saying that people who are egotistical and trust in their own power to control their lives can be optimistic? And there are those who go through life wearing rose-colored glasses, forcing themselves to only see the good and pleasant things in life. Yes, these people can be optimistic, but they still have faith- either in themselves or in other people. However, in the long run, they will find that faith is misplaced.

I have known people who have accepted Yeshua as their Messiah, and those who have not; I have known Christians and Jews, Muslims, as well as people of Eastern religions. The one thing I have found that is a constant with all people, despite what they profess to believe in, is that those who are constantly seeing the worst-case scenario are faithless. No matter what they say (remember: people don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do) if they are always afraid or quick to give up on something, they need to strengthen their faith.

For me, to have faith means to choose to believe in that which we cannot prove, but I have found, in my own life, there can be proof to justify our faith.

When I first began to seek out God, and to determine once and for all if this guy Jesus (I didn’t know about Yeshua then) really is the Messiah or not, I made a conscious decision, a choice, to believe. A few months later, when I received the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as I was anointed at the Messianic synagogue near my house, I knew then- absolutely- that my choice to believe was correct. The sensation I felt when the Ruach entered my body was real, and even more than a quarter of a century later, when I think about that moment, I get all puppy-eyed and emotional.

That moment was, for me, absolute proof that God existed, Yeshua is the Messiah, and that my decision to believe was being rewarded.

For those who have not experienced receiving the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh, let me tell you, it is something that changes your life.

So, going forward, let’s all try to remember that if we feel pessimistic or afraid, it shows we need to strengthen our faith. God is always there, he knows what we need and he is capable of supplying it. And even if you have to suffer through some tsouris, that doesn’t mean God isn’t with you.

Gold is not purified through spa treatments and gentle massage- it goes through a very hot fire! And usually more than once because gold is usually found surrounded by other materials, and has a lot of dross that has to be melted away. For us, the other stuff is some form of emotional baggage, but if we do as the Israelites constantly FAILED to do, which is to review in our lives all the wonderful things that have happened, all of which came from God, then we will be able to find reasons to be faithful.

If you want to be gold, you need to be willing to go through the fire, trusting that God will allow you to come out of that fire more spiritually purified than when you first went in. And the more you go through the fire, the more you will know that God is always there for you, making sure you come out better than when you went in. And the result is that you will become braver, more confident, less afraid, and optimistic; when we have a strong faith in God, we are able to find more joy in life.

And, just in case you may think it’s not possible to go through fire and come out unscathed, read the Book of Daniel, Chapter 3.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe to my website and Youtube channel, join my Facebook discussion group called “Just God’s Word” (please make sure you read and accept the rules), and while on my website, check out my books.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Bo 2022 (Go) Exodus 9 – 13:16

God tells Moses to go before Pharaoh and tell him if he doesn’t humble himself before the Lord then more plagues will come, the next one being locusts that will destroy all that the hail left behind.

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Pharaoh asks Moses who will be going to the desert to worship and Moses says everyone, but Pharaoh says it is a trick to free all the slaves, so only the men can go.

Moses doesn’t accept this and the locusts come. As before, the Pharaoh asks Moses to relieve the plague and he will do as Moses asks, but the moment the plague is gone, the promises are forgotten.

After the locusts came complete darkness for three days, and Pharaoh at this time tells Moses the next time Moses sees Pharaoh, he will be killed.

God now tells Moses that the last plague will come and after this one Pharaoh will throw them all out of Egypt, so when that happens the people are to go to their neighbors and ask for whatever they want of them.

God tells Moses the angel of death will kill the firstborn of all Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh down to the firstborn of the lowliest slave, as well as the firstborn of all the cattle. The Israelites are to sacrifice a lamb and spread the blood over their doors, so the angel will know they are God’s chosen and to leave them alone. The rules for the Passover Seder are first enumerated here: which animal to use, how to cook it, when it is to be eaten, what to wear, and the restrictions against eating anything with leaven for the next 7 days.

The angel of death passes over Egypt, and the Pharaoh’s own son is taken. Pharaoh now is totally defeated and he calls for Moses and tells him to leave and take everyone and everything with him. The people ask their Egyptian neighbors for gold, silver, precious jewels- anything of value- and the Egyptian people gladly give whatever they have of value.

This parashah ends with God decreeing to Moses that, from this day forward, because God took all the firstborn of Egypt that all the firstborn of Israel will forever after belong to God.

One of the historical problems with people interpreting the Bible, especially the Hebrew found in the Old Covenant, is that they do not understand either the mindset of the Jewish people or the cultural usage and meaning of the Hebrew words; instead, they tend to use the modern and usual translation of the Hebrew in their interpretation.

For instance, the Hebrew word used in Exodus 3:22 where the women are to ask their neighbors for precious items is שאל (shah-ahl), which means to ask for a gift that isn’t expected to be returned. But some versions of the Bible render that word as “borrow”, and that is not correct. In fact, it is misleading because borrowing indicates the items belong to the Egyptians and should have been returned (which came back against the Jewish people many years after, which I will discuss later on in this message.)

Another example is Exodus 12:36: when the people leave and the Egyptians are giving them all the goodies, the Torah says that the people “despoiled the Egyptians.” We see the same Hebrew word used in Exodus 3:22, where God tells Moses that he will give the Israelites favor in the sight of the Egyptians and they shall spoil the Egyptians.

But “spoil” is not the correct interpretation of that Hebrew word, and the Chumash gives a wonderful explanation for this, which is why I recommend everyone get one so they can learn a truly Jewish understanding of the Torah.

The Chumash tells us the translation should not be “spoiling the Egyptians” but, rather, “saving the Egyptians”!

In the Chumash, we are taught that the Hebrew word used for “spoil” is נצל (nee-tzal). Throughout the scripture, this word occurs some 212 times and in 210 of those instances, within the context of the sentence, it is clear that its meaning is to snatch (from danger), to rescue (from a wild beast), to recover (property), or to plunder.

Now here’s the complicated part…the direct object of the word נצל is never the person or thing from whom the object is being saved, but the thing that is being rescued. In other words, if I say “I rescued the baby from the bear”, the bear is not the object of the word “rescued”, the baby is.

So, when using נצל in Exodus 3:22 (and today in Exodus 12:36), the use of נצל to mean “ye shall spoil the Egyptians” is wrong and would render the word’s meaning in the 210 other places in scripture to mean “spoil” instead of “save”.

Well, the other 210 places where נצל is interpreted to mean “save” or “rescue” is unchallenged by biblical scholars; therefore, the word’s meaning in Exodus cannot be totally different from all the other uses throughout scripture. No- the truest interpretation of the phrase “…and ye shall spoil the Egyptians” is “…and ye shall save the Egyptians.”

Huh? How can asking for gold and silver and precious jewels and such save the Egyptians? I mean, after the 10 plagues, there wasn’t much left to be saved!

Now you will see why I said earlier that the Chumash helps so much to know the Jewish mindset and rabbinical understanding of much of the scriptures.

As explained in my Chumash, by receiving gifts that are not expected to be returned, the Egyptian people would be remembered as having been kind to the Israelites upon their leaving, and since it was the people who were kind and generously gave whatever the Israelites asked for, the Israelites would realize that the cruelty heaped upon them all those years was only from the Pharaoh and his courtiers.

Because the generosity of the Egyptian people to the Israelites when they left Egypt would be remembered fondly, the commandment God gave many years later, in Deuteronomy 23:8, which was “Thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian.” would be gladly obeyed.

The misinterpretation of the Hebrew word נצל has been used by enemies of the Bible (and anti-Semites, as well) as a blot against the moral teaching of the scriptures. However, both Jewish and Gentile apologists reply that the silver and gold were given in exchange for the labors that the Jews performed for centuries, without any compensation.

Think of it as back-pay.

Remember how earlier I mentioned the misinterpretation of the word שעל as “borrow” led to thinking the Jews owed the Egyptians? Well, in the Talmud, there is a story of the Egyptians making a formal claim to Alexander the Great against Israel, claiming that they should return all the gold and silver they took with them at the Exodus. The Jewish spokesman, however, was able to successfully convince Alexander that if there was any indemnity to be paid, it was to be from the Egyptians to the Israelites for the 400 years of slavery that Israel served with no recompense for all the work they did.

Today’s lesson is not a spiritual revelation found within the scripture or some moral imperative that will help us to become better Believers, but I believe it is a good lesson all the same.

It is so very important to be able to do more than just quote verses and know the location of a passage in the Bible This is especially true of the Hebrew portions of the Bible because Hebrew is a consonantal language and as such, without vowels to define the exact pronunciation, the only proper interpretation must be the result of reading the entire sentence and making sure the interpretation of any word “fits’ contextually with that sentence, within that paragraph, and hermeneutically throughout the entire Bible.

This is how Rabbis were able to determine that the interpretation of נצל as “spoils” in these two places in Exodus can’t be correct. And once they were able to determine that it meant the Jews didn’t despoil, but actually saved the Egyptians, well, isn’t that a kick in the pants? After 400 years of cruel enslavement, when finally being freed, God had his people save those who were not guilty of the crimes instead of revenging themselves upon them.

I recommend whenever you are studying the scriptures, you don’t use just a Bible, but also have a Bible commentary, a Chumash (for the Old Covenant), the Interlinear Bible set, and maybe even the Talmud or Septuagint handy. Besides those tools, an understanding of Hebrew and Greek would be beneficial, but I am sure that the vast majority of us are not intending to dedicate our lives to becoming biblical scholars and linguistic experts. We have plenty of those.

Seriously, though, if you really want to understand what is in the Bible, you will need to have the proper tools to investigate and the proper knowledge to know when something you are reading or being told just doesn’t “fit”.

And never forget the best guide to knowing God is his Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, which will not only guide your understanding but give you insight that no mere human being can ever have on their own.

Thank you for being here today. Share these messages with everyone you know to help this ministry continue to grow, and please subscribe to my website and my YouTube channel. Buy and share my books (after you’ve read them, of course), and remember that I always welcome your comments.

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That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah V’ayra 2022 (And I appeared) Exodus 6:2 – 9

The last time Moses talked with Pharaoh the Pharaoh decided to make the Jews maintain their quota of bricks, but did not supply the straw so they had to glean their straw all night, but still work all day making bricks.

The people weren’t too impressed with Moses at that time.

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Moses returns to Pharaoh, and now begins God’s judgment on Pharaoh and all the Egyptians through the wonders and miraculous acts that are still considered astounding, even today.

Moses does the staff-to-snake thing, which the Egyptian magicians duplicate, although the snake of Moses eats up the Egyptian snakes.

Next, Moses has Aaron smite the waters of the Nile and the Nile turns to blood. After a week of a bloody Nile, the frogs came out and infested the entire land, followed by the plague of gnats.

With the gnats, this is the first time the magicians were not able to duplicate the acts that God had performed, and they were convinced that Pharaoh should let the people go.

But the Pharaoh refused.

The next plague was of flies, but now something else changed- God raised the bar by having all of Egypt infested, all except the land of Goshen where God’s chosen people resided. This time Pharaoh said if Moses takes away the flies, they could go to sacrifice (but not too far away.) However, once the flies were removed Pharaoh reneged on his promise.

After the flies, God sent a plague to kill all the cattle in Egypt, to cause boils to break out all over the bodies of every person in Egypt, and then the hail that turned to fire when it hit the ground. The hail also caused all the existing crops to be destroyed.

As Egypt is being destroyed, the Jews living in Goshen are not affected by any of these plagues.

Pharaoh pleads with Moses to stop the hail and promises that the people can go worship, but as before, once the plague was ended, Pharaoh reneged on his promise to let the people go.

This is where this parashah ends.

There is so much to work with here; I mean, really? Where do I start, and how can I end?

Don’t worry- what I feel I should talk about today won’t take that long.

Have you ever heard someone say that the Old Covenant is all about punishment and violence, but the New Covenant is all about love?

I have; too many times, in fact, and I try to point out to the Christians who say this (Jews don’t say this because they don’t consider the New Covenant valid) there is no “God of the Old Covenant” verse a “God of the New Covenant” because it is the same God.

God is just and holy, and yes- he is so compassionate and loving that a human being cannot even fathom the depth of God’s love for everyone, even those who curse and reject him. And it is precisely because God is just, loving, compassionate, and holy that he MUST punish the guilty!

He makes the rules and he abides by them, even to his own chagrin when he has to harm his creation.

For instance, in today’s parashah, Exodus 9:11-22, God tells Pharaoh (through Moses) that so far he has demonstrated his power, but has not destroyed all the people so that Pharaoh might see that he is fighting a power against which he cannot win. God is, in a way, actually pleading with Pharaoh to give in to God’s demands before everything and everyone in Egypt is destroyed.

In Exodus 9:19, God even warns Pharaoh against the next plague, saying:

Therefore, send and hurry to bring indoors all your livestock and everything
else you have in the field. For hail will fall on every human being and animal
left in the field that hasn’t been brought home, and they will die.

Here God is showing his compassion for all his creation, even those who do not know him. He tells Pharaoh to save the people, and the rest of this passage tells us that the Egyptians who recognized God’s power and authority did as he told them to do, but the ones who refused to listen stayed in their fields, and they and their cattle all died.

There is a midrash in the Talmud, in Megilla 10B, which states that when the Egyptian army was drowning in the sea the angels wanted to sing songs of praise and joy, but God rebuked them, saying:

“My creations are drowning and you are singing before me?”

God doesn’t want to destroy anyone or anything, and he tells us in Ezekiel 18:23 that he doesn’t desire the death of anyone (spiritual or physical), but because God is holy and trustworthy and he said that the guilty will be punished, he has no choice but to punish them.

The truth is, if we can’t trust God’s promise to punish the wicked then we can’t trust God’s promise to forgive our sins!

That is a very uncomfortable statement, but the truth of it is undeniable- God is compassionate and loving, but because he is holy and trustworthy we can expect that he will do terrible things to those who ignore his commandments.

The only real difference between the Old and New Covenant is that Yeshua taught the deeper, more spiritual understanding of the existing commandments. The letters from Shaul, Yakov, and Yochanon were not new commandments from God, and they were certainly not meant to teach people to reject the Torah. What those letters were meant to do is to help Gentiles who now accepted Yeshua as their Messiah to slowly adjust, step-by-step, to the lifestyle God demands of us all, which he outlines in the Torah.

When you reject the Torah, you reject God. Period! That’s all she wrote! End of line! Das ist alles! Don’t let the door hit your butt on the way out!

God has no choice other than to punish those who reject him, but you do have a choice- you can obey what God says to do in the Torah, or you can listen to what your religion tells you to do, but know this for certain: if what your religion says is different from what the Torah says, that means you will be standing unprotected in the field when the hail falls.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages, subscribe to both my website and YouTube channel, join my Facebook group, Just God’s Word (please make sure you agree to the rules), and remember that I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for this week: Happy New Year and Shabbat Shalom!