And Now for the Rest of the Story….

I’m thinking I should make this title a separate category, and include in it all the other parts of Bible passages that are ignored. Such as the one where Yacov (James) says that the new Believers will learn the rest of the Mosaic laws they should follow because they will be attending the Shabbat services at their local synagogue (Acts 15:21.)

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

Today I want to talk about Matthew 23:23, where Yeshua said:

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

The traditional Christian teaching stops at “…justice, mercy, and faithfulness.” They talk about the love of the Messiah and how we are to love each other, that love is all we need for salvation because the law was nailed to the cross with Jesus.

But how does that work with the rest of Yeshua’s statement, i.e. that they should have considered those things WITHOUT neglecting the tithes?

Yeshua is clear that the law regarding tithing (which implicitly means all of the instructions God gave in the Torah) is not replaced by love, justice mercy, and faithfulness. These things are weightier matters, but not exclusive or secondary.

The truth is that to love justice, be merciful and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8) one would, by necessity, observe and follow the instructions God gave us in the Torah because they tell us how to be just, how to be merciful, and what faithfulness entails.

This is where Christianity has misled those who want to trust in God and Yeshua as their savior: by teaching that the “law” was done away with, or that love and Grace replace obedience, the Christian “church” has led its adherents away from God and into lawlessness.

Look- not eating ham will not get you into heaven, and eating ham will not send you to hell. The actions we perform are representative of the way we believe. It’s like I always say: people don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do.

Just as Yeshua said in the Gospels, what goes into us doesn’t make us unclean, but what is in our hearts does. My heart desires to please God, but whereas my spirit is willing, my flesh is weak. Because my flesh is weak, I sin. I don’t do what I want to do and do what I don’t want to do (sound familiar? Check out Romans 7:15-20.)

Eating ham, technically, is a sin and deserves punishment, but because my heart wants to please God, when I do wrong I repent of my sin. That repentance causes me to ask forgiveness, and through Yeshua’s sacrificial death I can receive that forgiveness, preventing me from going to hell. So it isn’t so much the sin I commit that is the problem, it is the reason I do it and the level of repentance I feel after I do it.

This is what Yeshua meant when he said to deal with the weightier matters of the law without neglecting the rest. Justice, mercy, faithfulness- can you see how these are things that come from the heart? Someone who cares nothing for people will not be just, they will be self-centered and selfish. People who are not repentant will not be merciful or concerned with other’s feelings, and will not have faith in anyone but themselves.

Only those who care about God and about people and have faith in God and others will be merciful and act justly. They will repent of their wrongdoing and try to improve. They will also feel the desire to please God, which he tells us we can do by being obedient, by following the instructions he gave us which tell us how to be faithful (i.e., how to worship him) and how to treat each other.

Those are found in the Torah.

It is up to you to choose what kind of a heart you will have: it will either be open to God or closed to salvation. No one can have two masters.

Thank you for being here, and please don’t forget to subscribe and share this message with others. Check out the rest of my website, and if you like what you receive from this ministry, please consider getting my books as well.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah B’midbar 2019 (In the wilderness) Numbers 1 – 10

This parashah begins the fourth book of the Torah. This book is unlike Leviticus, which was mainly legislative in nature. Numbers (the title is taken from the Septuagint) is more of a historical narrative, telling us what happened during the 38 years the Israelites were wandering through the desert.

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

Now that I think about it, can we really say they were “wandering”? After all, God was directing their every footstep, and he certainly knew where he was taking them, so I think we should say they were traveling through the desert because in all truthfulness, they may not have known where they were going, but God did.

The parashah begins with God saying to Moses that he must take a census of the men capable of waging war, the result being 603, 550 men. Next, God tells Moses how to place the tribes around the Tabernacle and the order of marching them when they travel. God chooses the Levites as his servants and this Sedra (another term for the weekly Torah reading) ends with the responsibilities of each Levite family with regards to the movement and care of the Sanctuary.

I am stuck! What spiritual message can there be in this parashah? All we have is how many people there were and where the tribes were located. What deep, spiritual meaning can there be in this?

Well, maybe there isn’t any deep, spiritual meaning in this. After all, the Torah is a story; it tells us of God and his instructions for the way we should worship and live, but it also tells us about battles, love, rebellion, infidelity, jealousy, and murder. Gee- no wonder it’s a best seller!

Sometimes we have to accept that what we are reading now may not seem to have any message, but when combined with other parts of the Bible, there may be something we just can’t see yet.

For instance, after 38 years in the wilderness, before entering the land of Canaan Moses took the last census of the people (Numbers 30:51)  and that number is 601, 504. This means that after nearly 40 years, an entire generation later, the difference between those coming out of Egypt and those entering the Land was barely a 3% change. In essence, the population size remained pretty much the same, which shows that the land to be inherited, which was originally meant for the prior generation, would still be inherited with almost no change in the distribution because there was almost no change in the number of people.

What seems insignificant in Numbers 3, after reading Numbers 30 we can see is significant and does have a message for us, which is this:

What God plans to do, he does.

Just because there may be a glitch here and there, such as the entire population of adult males refusing to enter the land God brought them to, the end result will be that God’s plan will be accomplished as he originally intended it to be.

The same type of revelation can be found regarding the Tent of Meeting and the way the tribes are encamped around it.

In Exodus 25-31, we are given the very detailed instructions for the creation of the Sanctuary, the Tent of Meeting, which relates that the most precious metals and skins were the ones closest to the Holy of Holies, and as we moved further away from the Holy of Holies, the materials became more common until we end up with brass used for the tent pegs. In other words, that which is closest to God, which is the holiest position, is that which is the rarest and most valuable.

The Levites had been separated by God from the other tribes, and as such were made holier than them, and they were the ones closest to the Sanctuary, where God had his presence. The other tribes were around the Levites, further away from the holiest place. Now that we see both these parts of the Bible together, we can see there is a message, which is this:

As we each cleanse ourselves of the common, we become holier and will be closer to God.

We will always be in one of three states of spirituality:

  1. Getting closer to God;
  2. Not moving at all; or
  3. Getting closer to the Enemy.

It is up to us to choose which way we go.

Wow! I guess there was something in here, after all, which brings us to today’s final lesson:

Even when it seems that what we are reading in the Bible doesn’t have any deep, spiritual message, it may be only part of the message and unrecognizable as such until we read the rest of the Bible.

This is partly what hermeneutics is about, the fact that every statement in the bible is in agreement with every other statement in the Bible. In other words, what God says here is the same thing God says there.  That’s why what we are reading now, which may seem insignificant, will become significant when we match it with something else we read later.

Final thought for today: even though what we are reading in the bible may not mean much to us right now, it might mean much more when we get to something later in the Bible. In the same way, our lives may have events that seem insignificant or meaningless at the time they happen but may be very important because it is preparing us for an event that is yet to happen.

I believe God has a plan for each and every one of us, and we can’t see it until he decides we need to know what it is. That means as we are being prepared for something, we won’t know that we are being prepared for it, and that is OK. This is what faithfully living for God means. We are to expect that when something happens to us, and we don’t understand why, we trust in God that there is a purpose, a reason and that this event is not the end of it; in fact, it may be just the beginning of something greater yet to come. That could be more tsouris (troubles) or more blessings- we won’t know what it is until it is here. Just be patient, wait upon the Lord, and faithfully accept that what we can’t understand we will be made to understand if and when God deems it necessary.

Faith isn’t just believing in that which is unseen and unproven, it is living your life trusting in God and moving forward, even though you don’t know where you are going.

Thank you for being here, and please don’t forget to share me out and subscribe (if you haven’t one so already.) I welcome your comments and only ask that you be nice.

This is Friday, so I wish you all Shabat Shalom, and until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Purim 2019 Message

Chag Sameach!!

Happy holiday! Last night began the festival known as Purim, which is the plural for the word Pur, meaning Lots. It is a very joyful Jewish holiday that celebrates our salvation from extinction, which was orchestrated by the hated Persian Vizier, Haman.

By the way, in case you didn’t know it, Haman was a descendant of Agog, which means he was an Amalekite, one of the ancient enemies of the Jewish people.

If you aren’t familiar with the story, it is the Book of Esther in the Bible. It isn’t very long and is the only book in the entire Bible where there is no mention of God. And that is the basis for today’s message.

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

One of the most important parts of this story is when Mordecai (the hero) asks his niece, Hadassah (Esther, the heroine) to go to the king and try to save the Jews from the irreversible edict Haman (the bad guy) fooled the king into signing, which calls for the total destruction of all the Jews in all the 27 provinces throughout the land. Esther initially refuses because she is afraid to go to the king, and through intermediaries tells Mordecai that the law states if anyone approaches the king without him asking them to come, they will be killed- unless the king raises his scepter to allow their visit.

Today’s message is based on what Mordecai says right after Esther’s refusal to go to the king (Esther 4: 12-14):

They relayed Esther’s words to Mordechai, and Mordechai said to relay to Esther, “Do not think that you will escape [the fate of] all the Jews by being in the king’s palace. For if you will remain silent at this time, relief and salvation will come to the Jews from another source, and you and the house of your father will be lost. And who knows if it is not for just such a time that you reached this royal position.”

When Mordecai tells Esther relief and salvation will come to the Jews from another source, that source is never mentioned beyond this vague reference, but Mordecai is clearly referring to God. He is demonstrating the faithfulness that all righteous persons have in God to save his people, no matter how doomed (by human viewpoint) they seem to be. Even when we don’t mention or acknowledge God, he is there. This is what many people don’t understand about him: just because we don’t see clear and absolute evidence of the existence of God, that doesn’t mean he isn’t here. He has been, he is now, and he always will be here, whether he shows himself evident or not.

If you ask me, the reason people say they don’t see evidence of God in their everyday life is simply that they refuse to accept what they see. A flower opening at day and closing at night; bees being able to fly even though science says they are aeronautically incapable of flight; baby prey animals being able to run within an hour of birth whereas baby predators can’t hunt on their own for years; two cells coming together against immeasurable odds and from that joining nine months later a complete human being is born.

These are all miracles and evidence not just of God’s existence, but of his wonderful design. Yet, if someone wants to refuse to accept this as evidence of God’s existence, they rationalize it away convinced that just because use we can understand the science behind the event, it isn’t really a miracle.

Eyes that cannot see.

I also want to talk about when Mordecai tells Esther perhaps the reason she was chosen as queen was specifically for this moment; he is telling her that God put her where she is so she could save God’s people. In other words, God has directed her entire life just for this one moment.

When we read the Book of Jonah (1:17), it says God created a fish to swallow Jonah. Jewish tradition tells us that God created that species of fish, way back on the 5th day of creation, specifically so that it would be there when he needed it to swallow Jonah.

Talk about planning ahead!

Mordecai was certainly a faithful and righteous man: he knew that no matter what the odds were against God’s people, God would, somehow, save them. Clearly, he understood that God has a Plan, and a backup plan, and a Plan C, and probably plans throughout the entire alphabet, all of which are designed so that God’s ultimate plan will be accomplished.

This is the lesson for us from the Book of Esther: God’s is always here, he has his plans for the future and those plans will be accomplished. He has accounted for every single person and creature, each with some part to play in his ultimate plan of salvation, and we all have the option to participate or to sit it out. Esther participated, and through her, God saved his people.

But what if she had chickened out? What if she figured, even though Mordecai warned her, because she was the Numera Una queen and no one knew she was a Jew, she could slide by? If that had happened, there would be no Book of Esther in the Bible. It would be the Book of Mordecai or the Book of Ethelynn, or maybe there wouldn’t even be a book, just an entry by one of the later Prophets telling us how God overcame this threat against his people.

Have you ever wondered how many people that aren’t in the Bible might have been there if they had accepted their role in God’s plan?

Don’t be one of those who never gets mentioned. God’s plans aren’t finished yet, and even though the Bible is complete, when the End Days are ended and we are in God’s presence for all eternity, maybe then there will be a new Bible and you might be in that one. Who knows? You or I may one day be a hero for God, we just haven’t received the call yet.

So keep your ears open and constantly listening for God’s calling in your life. You never know when he may call on you to help accomplish his plan.

If you like what you have read, please share me out, buy my books and certainly SUBSCRIBE to this ministry. Click on the subscribe button in the right-hand margin and also use the link above to subscribe to my Youtube channel, as well. If I get enough subscribers they will advertise on that channel and I can use whatever (little) money I get to help send books to needy Believers throughout the world, as I have been doing already in Uganda, Malawi, and India.

I also always welcome comments, I only ask whether you agree or not, just be nice.

Thank you for being here and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!