Parashah Ekev 2018 (Because) Deuteronomy 7:12 – 12:25

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

Moses continues his Third Discourse reminding the Children of Israel all the things that God has done for them, from freeing them out of Egyptian slavery to feeding them, to protecting them from peoples greater and stronger than they are, even to chastising them to test their faith and resolve.  He adds how many times they have failed to do as God commanded, how stiff-necked and undeserving they are of God’s gift of the land, and how if they refuse to obey God once they are in the land, then they will be treated as they are to treat the people living there now- they will be dispersed and destroyed.

Moses reviews their travels and how at each place the people rebelled against God- the Golden Calf, the waters of Meribah, the revolt of Korach, and their refusal to go into the land the first time they arrived. Despite their constant rebellion, God still wants to mightily bless them if they obey God and keep his commandments. Moses goes on to again say they are to remember all the wonderful acts that God did before them and the miracles he performed for their good.

Of all there is to talk about, I was somewhat surprised when I came across Deuteronomy 10:12-13:

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?

I immediately recognized it as something I had read elsewhere in the Bible. Do you know where I am talking about? It’s Micah 6:8:

He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

I thought” Aha! So that’s where Micah got it from!”  Then I realized it wasn’t, or most probably wasn’t, from there. Micah got it straight from God, who also gave it to Moses for the same reasons- to remind the people what they were to do.

Now, Moses was sometime around 1500 BCE and Micah was in the time period from 750 BCE to about 686 BCE. So there were some 750 plus years between Moses telling the people what God wants of them, and Micah having to remind them of the same, exact thing. God never changes, and, sadly enough, it seems neither do we.

OY! When will we ever learn?

Are we any better today than the people back in Moses’ day? Or Micah’s time? Do we thank God for the wonderful things he has done, or do we try to explain it away as some scientific event that is not supernatural? Why would we do that? I’ll tell you why- if we can explain why something happens then we don’t believe it to be a miracle. If it isn’t a miracle, then it can’t be supernatural, i.e. from God. Therefore, if it isn’t from God it isn’t something we have to deal with or worry about.

Too many of the real miracles of life are ignored as miracles because we can explain how they happen. Some we can almost replicate in a lab, so if we can make it happen it can’t be a miracle, right?

Wrong. We can fertilize a human ovum in a test tube and implant it in a woman, who then can carry to birth. We can do that, so some might say we can create life. But where did we get the egg? Did we create the sperm? Did we manufacture the womb?

From the very moment, after the people saw God’s Shekinah glory, they forgot all about him. Out of sight, out of mind.  And that’s a problem because our God is invisible! Maybe that’s why idol worship was (and is, to this day) so popular- you can see and feel the idol, whereas we can’t with God. And if we can’t see, or smell or feel it, then we convince ourselves it isn’t really there.

But there are things we know exist, even though we can’t see or smell or feel it. What about oxygen? We may not see it or feel it or smell it, but if there is a lot of pure oxygen around and you should light a match…BOOM! You’ll know oxygen was there, all right! And what about radon? No smell or feel but if we breathe too much…dum-de-dum-dum!

Maybe this is how we can know an invisible God, the same way we know other invisible things- by the effect they have on our environment. That is how we can “see” and “feel” God- not by looking at him but by looking at the result of his presence. We can see him in his creation:

A bee can fly when the human study of aeronautics say it is impossible;

A plant drops all its purple flowers every night, but by the next mid-morning it has all new flowers (we have one of these on our porch, but Donna is the botanist, not me, so I don’t know the species name);

The universe continues to operate with billions and billions of stars in it that don’t crash into each other;

Consider the miracle of digestion; of respiration; of birth.

God is everywhere, and the proof of his existence is everywhere- all we need to do is look for it. And all we need to do to stay in God’s Grace and receive his blessings is remember that he is here, what he has done for us, that he wants us to love him and each other, and to obey his commandments. That’s all, just do as he says and we will have nothing to fear or ever be in want.

Moses tells us it isn’t all that hard, Micah tells us we only have to love God be merciful and fair, and Yeshua said all we really need to do is love God and love each other. None of these things mean we don’t have to obey God’s Torah, but the point is that when we love God and each other, what is in the Torah will be not just easy for us, but will come naturally.

Remember what God has done for you in your life, appreciate it and show that appreciation to God through obedience that comes as a love response.  If you truly love someone, you always want to please them, don’t you? Well, obedience is pleasing to God.

Think about that next time someone tells you the Son of God did away with all his father’s rules.

Parashah Balak 2018 (Balak) Numbers 22:2 – 25:9

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

Even those people who are somewhat familiar with the bible have heard of the talking donkey story. They may not know of the spiritual meaning and the protection God provided for his people, which is the true lesson of the story, but they remember something about an ass that talked.

Balak is the king of Moab who hires Balaam, a sorcerer that also seems to know (and is able to hear from) the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to curse the Israelites that are passing through his land. At first Balaam confers with God who tells him not to go because the people are God’s chosen and blessed. Balaam tells the kings representatives, who return with the bad news to the king. The king sends higher ranked people with promises of even more wealth, and Balaam asks God again if it is OK to curse the people.

God tells him to go if he must but warns him it won’t turn out well. Balaam ignores the warning and leaves. On the way his ass turns aside three times from the main road, infuriating Balaam to the point when he gets off and starts to beat the beast. That’s when the ass talks to him and asks why she is being whipped? The truth of the matter then comes out, as God open’s Balaam’s eyes and allows him to see the angel of death with his drawn sword waiting for Balaam to come within reach. If not for the ass turning aside (because she saw the angel at each of the three places) Balaam would have been killed. Realizing his sin he says he will return, but the angel tells him to continue and that he must say whatever God tells him to say.

Balaam gets to the king and tells the king that whatever God tells him to say he must say. The king also ignores this warning and the first time Balaam confers with God he ends us blessing the people. Balak is angry for Balaam doing so, but Balaam reminds the king that he can only say what God tells him to say. Two more times Balak tries to get Balaam to curse the people, and two more times they are blessed. In anger Balak tells Balaam he better run back home before harm comes to him, and Balaam says first he must tell Balak and the other kings there with them what will happen in the future. God gives Balaam a prophetic message about the eventual rule of Israel over Moab and the other countries, then he leaves.

This parashah ends with the people being seduced by Moabite women into worshiping Baal and after a plague is sent to punish the people Pinchus (son of Aaron) spears an Israelite prince and the Moabite woman he was flagrantly showing off in front of Moses, which ends the plague.

It is later, in Numbers 31:16 that we learn the idea of using Moabite women to seduce the Israelite men into bringing a curse on themselves was the brainstorm of Balaam.

You may be aware that for every Parashah reading, there is an additional reading from some other part of the Tanakh. This is called the Haftorah reading. Today’s haftorah is from Micah 5-6:8.  This is what I want to talk about today.

It is supposed this is at the time when Manasseh was ruling as king of Judea. That was one of the most sinful and degraded times throughout the history of Judea. Through Micah God asks what he has done to the people to make them turn so far away from him. He reminds them of all that he has done to save them, to support, protect and nurture them since he brought them out of Egypt.  The haftorah ends with Micah 6:8, considered by the Rabbis to be the most important prophetic utterance in all of scripture:

It has been told thee, O man, what is good: only what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.

Simple, isn’t it? There are 613 commandments in the Torah, and the Christian world believes there are over a thousand commandments in the New Covenant writings. In truth there aren’t any- everything in the New Covenant is from the Old Covenant. Yet, with all the commandments, laws, regulations, ordinances and rules that God has given to all of us we are told that there are only two important commandments: to love God and to love each other (Deut. 6:5, Leviticus 19:18 and Matthew 22:36) and that all God requires of us is to love justice, be merciful and walk humbly with him.

It really is like Moses told the children of Israel when he said these commandments are easy to do (Deut. 30:11.)  Just love God, love each other, be merciful and humbly obey God by doing as he has instructed (this is how I interpret “walk humbly with your God.”)

How many times do we forget all that God has done for us? I include myself in this group and confess I often get angry and frustrated (in the opposite order) when something small and insignificant goes wrong. I forget all that God has provided for me, all that he has done and can continue to do. It seems so silly of me that in spite of his wondrous miracles and blessings I get pissed when I lose Internet connection for a minute.  I misuse God’s name when I curse out the screw that stripped when I was trying to tighten it and I yell at others when they have done nothing wrong because I am having a bad day.

Has anyone ever done this: in the middle of a really bad day stopped to think that it is only because of God’s many blessings in your life that you are even there, alive and able to experience that bad day? I know I haven’t, and I also know that I should. I would think it impossible to continue to feel bad after that realization.

I once wrote a post called “SWISH!” which stands for So What, I‘m Saved, Halleluyah!  I wrote that and felt it for a day or so, then forgot all about it. Oy! Vat a schmendrick!

God has done, is doing and will continue to do wonderful and miraculous things for us. The world isn’t such a great place to be in but God can overcome the world, and those who worship God and try to obey all he has said we should do will be blessed- that is God’s promise (Deut. 28.) So, when things go bad or when we feel tempted by the world and it’s fleshly rewards, we need to SWISH; we need to remember Micah 6:8; we need to remember that as humans we tend to forget what was done for us and revel in our own authority and power (even though we really have neither) turning from God’s ways and thinking we are OK in doing so.

It’s this simple: first we have to repent of our sin. Then we must accept Yeshua as our Messiah so that through him we can receive forgiveness. Then all we need to do to remain in good standing with the Lord is this: love God and people, show mercy, act justly and live humbly.

Are We Asking the Right Questions?

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


The bible is often incorrectly defined as being made up of two separate books: the Jewish, or Hebrew bible, and the New Testament. For myself, and others like me who believe that all of God’s word is for everyone, the Bible is one book- it starts in Genesis and ends with Revelation.
The study of God’s word is the most important thing that anyone can do, and unlike getting a degree in History or Finance, it is something that never ends and always results in a new and deeper understanding of what God is telling us about who he is, who we are and how we should be.

The usual result of studying something is that we ask questions, and questions are good. Yes, I believe there are “stupid” questions, but we can learn even from those.

My question for all of us today is this: Are we asking the right questions?

During the years I have been “blogging” this ministry, I have seen so many people ask questions that, in my opinion, are not seeking to know God better, or to understand what God wants from us, but are along the lines of Gnostic thinking.

NOTE: Gnostic thinking is when we believe that our spiritual understanding, maybe even our salvation is strengthened through “special” knowledge.

What I mean by “right” questions is this:  are these questions leading us to becoming better people or just better trained in identifying details in God’s word?  Are we learning more about what God wants us to become or are we becoming more interested in finding out hidden things, being smarter and having more knowledge than someone else?

The kinds of questions I see cropping up all the time deal with details about what I believe to be unrelated to salvation. For instance, the biggest argument I see is how to pronounce God’s holy name, the Tetragrammaton. This devolves into the same argument with Yeshua’s name. I also see people arguing over whether or not the “day” begins at night or at dawn? When does the lunar Sabbath start? Did Yeshua really have a Seder or did he celebrate the day before the “real” Seder? Is Satan a man? Is the earth really flat? How long did Yeshua walk the earth?

These, and many other questions, are interesting- no doubt about that. They can serve as fodder for debate and discussion, but are they important? How does knowing when the Shabbat starts save our souls?

The answer I will get from those types who absolutely love to nit-pick details from the bible (straining gnats) is that it is very important to know these things. One argument I have heard is that we are to call on the name of the Lord, but how can we if we don’t know how to pronounce it? If we don’t know his “real” name then we may be calling on the enemy of God!

Really? How many times are we told throughout the bible that God knows the heart? If God knows my heart, and I am calling out to him with a contrite spirit, repentant and asking for forgiveness do you really think that God is so petty and self-centered he will reject me just because I don’t pronounce his name exactly as Moses heard it?  In the bible there are many different names used to identify God, and if we believe that the bible is what God told people to write down, then these different names are all given to us from God. That means God is OK with us using any one of them, and since the original Hebrew didn’t have vowel points, we can’t really know exactly how to pronounce them. As such, it seems to me that any way we pronounce it will be fine with God so long as we are calling out from our heart.

I believe that knowing exactly when a Holy Day starts is not as important as celebrating it.

I believe that calling on God and praying to him using any name we have always used to identify God is fine with God. He is concerned with our attitude not our pronunciation.

I believe that God wants us to know and worship him better and isn’t concerned with the details of when the day begins or whether or not the calendar we use is accurate. If someone celebrates Pesach on the wrong day because the calendar they have misled them, I do not believe God will reject their worship.

The bible constantly tells us that God is not interested in the ‘blood of bulls and sheep’ but in the attitude of worship we bring before him. He was very specific in his instructions regarding the sacrificial system, the building of the Tabernacle, the measurements of the Temple that Ezekiel saw in his vision, and I believe all those details mean something. Yet, knowing what that “something” is will NOT save your soul. Knowing what God wants from you and acting in that way WILL save your soul.

When I am interested in learning some detail of the bible I always ask myself my own Acid Test question: “How will this affect my salvation?”  If it isn’t knowledge that will direct me closer to acting the way God says I should act, then it is not that important.

For example, knowing what importance the number “40” has in the bible will not save my soul, but knowing Abraham was credited righteousness because of his faith will save my soul.

Knowing exactly when the Shabbat begins and the absolutely correct date on the calendar will not bring me any closer to being the type of person God wants me to be, but faithfully observing the Shabbat, no matter when I observe it, will bring me closer to the proper worship of God and demonstrate my faithfulness, which will affect my salvation.

I know that there are many at this very moment who are yelling at me in their heads, telling me that everything in the bible affects salvation. I respectfully disagree, but understand why they feel that way- it is the only justification they can have for continuing to be Gnostic. If you ask me, the legalism that Shaul identified as misleading those Gentiles who accepted Yeshua as their Messiah has taken a new form today within the Christian world.  Judaism has long suffered with this problem which is from following the Talmud as though it was God-given scripture, despite the fact that Halacha is rabbinic regulation. This is what Yeshua was against and did not want us to be encumbered with. Many Christians who are trying to live their lives and worship God more in accordance with the Torah are in a way disrespecting the Torah by becoming too interested in the details and missing out on the meanings. They are learning facts and figures and ignoring spiritual guidance and growth.

Spiritual growth doesn’t come from knowing facts, it comes from having faith. Faith doesn’t need justification or confirmation- that is how faith works. And faith absolutely affects our salvation.

Let’s close with this… I absolutely do NOT have any problem with wanting to know everything there is to be found in the bible. What I do have a problem with is thinking that knowing everything in the bible is essential. I also have a problem with people arguing over how much they know more than someone else, especially when it leads to those people accusing others of being faithless or ignorant or- worst of all- not really saved just because they disagree with what the other person believes.

When it comes down to it, all God wants is what we are told he wants in Micah 6:8:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

If you know nothing more than that and live your life that way, you will be OK.

Parashah Ekev (It Shall Come to Pass) Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25

Throughout this book, the last book of the Torah, we hear Moshe (Moses) constantly remind the people about all the good that God has done for them, and constantly warn them against turning away from God. Over and over he reminds them of the mighty acts performed by God, of how God has gone before them in battle and he reinforces the fact that God will continue to go before them, as long as they keep their side of the covenant.

He also chastises them regarding how rebellious they have been; he reminds them of all the places where they rebelled, and how God punished them as a result of their stiff-necked, rebellious attitudes. And Moses doesn’t fail to lay a guilt trip on them, either, retelling how he suffered on account of them, fasted for 40 days (twice!) so that God would not destroy them, and so forth.

We find also the foundation for many of the messages that the Prophets gave and of what Yeshua taught. For instance, in the last parashah we were given the 10 Commandments, the V’Ahavtah, and the Shema. In this parashah, Deuteronomy 10:12-13 must be the basis for Micah 6:8-9:

And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul; to keep for thy good the commandments of the Lord, and His statues, which I command thee this day? 

Micah 6:8-9He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

Over and over, again and again, Moses tells the people not to fear or look to their own strength for success. They are not to forget, when they are relaxed, happy and blessed, that it is because God provided all this for them that they are so well off. Moses also tells them, in no uncertain way, the reason that God is going ahead of Israel and destroying the nations currently living in the land is because those people have polluted the land with their sinfulness. Israel is not being given the land because they deserve it- they are being used to rid the land of the pestilence that is in it. And, after having done so, Moses tells them that if they fall into the same pattern of sinfulness and pollute the land, that they, also, will be thrown out of it.

How often do we, today, forget to credit God as the provider of our goodness? I hear people more than willing to blame God for their problems, for illness and financial ruin: “Why me, God? What have I done?” People are fast to blame the Lord for their problems, and very, VERY slow to accept their responsibility for what they are going through. Yet, when things are going well and they have more than they need, do they praise God? Do they thank the Lord for His provision? Do they remember what it was like and appreciate all that God has done to bring them to where they are now?

I am afraid that it doesn’t always seem that way. We are fast to accept responsibility for our success, and fast to blame God for our failures. The fact is, it is almost always the other way around: we are the reason for our failures and God is the cause of our success.

I am often blessed to teach on Shabbat, and when I get compliments from people I am quick (and this is NOT false modesty) to say if it was that good, then it wasn’t from me. When I do something really well, I give the credit to God for the leading of His Ruach (Spirit) and the gifts He gave me; when I totally screw something up, that’s when I can take full credit.

We need to apply every single warning that Moses gave to the Israelites to our own lives. We need to be careful not to pollute what God has given us by our sins, and not to allow things in our life to separate us from God . What would those things be? They could be sports, money, Face Book, Porn, video games…anything that brings you to a place where you are focused on yourself and not on God. Now, don’t get me wrong- I am not saying that being a baseball fan or managing your finances is sinful, but when it becomes a wedge between you and your worship, then you have a problem. As an example, watching baseball is not a problem, but watching it at the expense of being a husband and father, well, that is not right. If you begin to idolize the baseball players and begin gambling, then you have a problem. If you are so busy trying to attain wealth by working yourself to a frazzle, ignoring family and friends, then you have a problem. If you are spending half your life on Face Book or Twitter, you need to shut the computer off and talk to someone face-to-face.

Do you see my point? We should not be so intent and focused on something that it becomes a barrier to our relationships with God, family and friends. Brothers and Sisters, please believe me when I say that IM’ing people on Face Book or sending emails is not really how we should communicate.

And we should not ever think that the success we have in life is due to our own power. I have a gift for teaching, which has been confirmed by others: and it is not something I gave myself, it is from God. When I use it to glorify and honor Him, I am using it correctly. When I use it for my own purposes, to glorify myself, I am misusing it and that will result in failure.

If you ever find yourself wondering why something you do well is not working, try to remember the last time you thanked God for His provision and gifts, and ask yourself if you have been using your talents to glorify God. I am willing to bet you will then find the answer to why things aren’t working.



Christ isn’t a Christian

I know that sounds blasphemous to some, but it is the truth. Well, actually, Christ isn’t even a name ( so I would be more accurate to title this, “Yeshua isn’t a Christian.” At least, not the way Christianity is today.

Today Christianity, for the most part, teaches that Christ is the Messiah (OK- that’s true), but from there it goes off on it’s own, ignoring Torah (Jews have Torah and Christians have the Blood of Christ) and teaching that as long as you are a good person you go to heaven because Jesus died for your sins, implying that you are now essentially sinless because you are immediately and constantly forgiven.

That is not at all what Yeshua taught. He never even thought such a thing- Torah not important? No way! Some rules for Jews and others for Christians? Ridiculous- God’s laws are paramount, eternal and for everyone!

God gave the Torah to His chosen people, who were not chosen to be the only ones saved from sin, but chosen to be the ones to save everyone else from their sins by teaching them how to obey the Torah! Yeshua taught us that the letter of the Torah is important, but the spirit of the law is even more important. He did this best when He preached the Beatitudes in the Gospels. That is where we hear the real A-B-C’s of Yeshua’s teachings, and none of it is against the Torah. In fact, it is all about the Torah: Yeshua tells us how the Torah says we should act, then not only endorses that but takes it to the next level by telling us it isn’t enough to act in accordance with Torah, but we must think and feel in accordance with Torah, too!

The basis of Yeshua’s teachings is this: it isn’t enough to just do what Torah says, you need to be what Torah is. Yeshua showed us that throughout His life and ministry in that He was the Living Torah. The prophets tell us (Jeremiah, for one, and Joel for another) that in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) all will all know the Lord, we will prophesy, and we will have the Torah written on our hearts.

Christianity is very, very different from the laws and regulations God gave to us in the Torah. That’s because Christianity was not created by God, or by Yeshua. It was Constantine who planted the seeds of modern Christianity, which was then expanded and perverted by Luthor, Smith, and the other founders of all the separate sects of Christianity we have today.

God has no religion. His rules and laws and regulations are for anyone and everyone who professes to worship Him. Torah is as valid today as the day He gave it to Moshe (Moses) and it’s laws and regulations are still 100% necessary for all people to follow. Kosher is still required by God, the Sabbath is on the 7th day (Friday night to Saturday night), homosexuality is still forbidden, the penal code in the Torah is still to be observed, and we are all still sinners who have to ask forgiveness of our sins to have them forgiven.

Being forgiven is NOT a given- you have to ask. Yes, the sacrificial system is no longer being practiced, but not because Yeshua did away with it: it is not done because the sacrifices had to be made at the Temple in Jerusalem, and that was destroyed. We don’t sacrifice because we can’t do it in accordance with how God said it should be done. There are 5 different types of sacrifice, and only one of those is the sin sacrifice that was the one made by Yeshua. His sacrificial death will cleanse us of our sins when we ask for forgiveness in His name.  Just because Yeshua died so we can have forgiveness doesn’t mean it is automatic. You can’t go out and live like you want to, sinning left and right, and think that you are right with God because “Jesus died for you.”

What Jesus/Yeshua taught was that God sees our heart and knows our motivation (which is what the prophets had been saying for centuries) and therefore the spirit of the law has to be observed as well as the letter of the law. Maybe that’s why before Yeshua the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) would fall on people, but always be lifted up again? It didn’t stay and indwell because the teaching that Yeshua gave hadn’t been taught yet. Once Yeshua told us, and showed us, how to be living temples of God’s spirit; after His resurrection when we could accept the grace of God through that sacrificial death; after demonstrating our faithfulness by asking for forgiveness in Yeshua’s name; and after we truly do T’Shuvah (turn from sin in our hearts), only then are we able to accept and have the Ruach HaKodesh indwell. It falls on us, and stays with us, for the rest of our life- so long as we hold on to it.

Salvation is a free gift from God, and it is irrevocable, which means God will not take it back. But… we can throw it away. The Spirit will stay with us only as long as we ask it to remain.

God did not create Christianity- people did. God gave His rules and commandments to us all in the Torah. The Jewish people were chosen to be custodians of the Torah, teachers of the Torah, and a nation of priests to the world so that all who have sinned can be saved. Where we can’t do what we should according to Torah, we are saved by Yeshua’s sacrifice. Yeshua’s sacrifice doesn’t overrule Torah- it supplements it!

You can verify what I am saying through research, but the best way (especially if you are Jewish and don’t believe in Yeshua at all) is to simply read the Gospels. Read Matthew for a start, and only Matthew- that is most “Jewish” of the Gospels. Read it and realize that Yeshua taught from the Torah only- there is nothing “new” in the New Covenant writings. Nothing new, nothing different from traditional Judaism (which has also been perverted over the millennia by people) and nothing at all against the Torah.

If you are a faithful Christian, a good Catholic, an observant Episcopalian, a pure Protestant- whichever Christian religion you practice, if you are being taught that Jesus is the creator of Christianity and that the Torah is just for the Jews, then you are being led down a path that doesn’t lead to salvation. At least, not the one Jesus taught.

Wake up! Arise, for your light has come! (Isaiah 60:1)  Isaiah knew what he was talking about- do you?

You need to read and know the Old Covenant before you can even start to understand the New Covenant. Here is a hard truth to accept: if your religious leaders don’t acknowledge the validity of the Torah, then they are not teaching what Yeshua taught: they are teaching what people created out of their own desires and needs.

God has told us what He wants from us- you can find it in Micah 6:8.

Parashah Ekev (follow) Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25

Most of D’Varim (Deuteronomy) is a discourse from Moses reminding the children of Israel all that has happened to them over the past forty years, reminding them of God’s commandments and encouraging them to obey God after they have gone into the land and conquered it.

This parashah starts with Moses continuing his discourse on the history of their journey. He reminds them of the wonderful ways God has protected and fed them, and also of the horrible ways they have rejected God and tested Him. Moses goes back and forth from what God has done, what He will do to help, and how He has kept His part of the covenant, then about how they have, for their part, broken the covenant because they refused to obey and what will happen to them if they continue to refuse.

He tells them they are to go in and take over the land, destroying all the pagan items and peoples, and that even though the people there are stronger and mightier than they are, God will go before them and battle for them.

Moses warns the people that they shouldn’t become complacent when God has done all these wonderful things, and begin to think that they deserved any of it. He is quite adamant that they don’t, and they better not forget that. They are getting the best not because they deserve it, but because God loved their ancestors, who did deserve it. They don’t. He wants them to continually be humble before the Lord- as should we all.

I  like how Moses tells them in chapter 10, verses 12-13 that all God requires is for the people to fear God, walk in His ways, love and serve Him. Sound familiar? Read Micah 6:8.

The message here for all of us is that we need to remember that God will do for us all that we could ever want, and when we walk in trusting faithfulness, He will be there, in front of us, protecting us and forging a path for us so we can complete the trip. He will smooth the path, place hedges on the right and the left to keep us straight, and destroy the enemies blocking our way. And if we fall, He will pick us up. If needs be, He may even carry us for a way. However, He won’t carry us all the way; there may be a smooth path but there will be hills to overcome and valleys to pass through. It won’t be easy, it won’t always be fun, but we must keep going.

That’s really the whole story, isn’t it? From beginning to end, the basic A-B-C’s of salvation are:

AAccept your own sinfulness and need for God, Accept the rule of God, and Accept His Messiah;

BBe obedient, Be dedicated, Be an example of God’s wonder and goodness;

C- Continue to work at being more of what God wants you to be so you can Complete the journey.

That’s all there is to Salvation: it’s easy to attain, it’s hard to keep, but it’s well worth having.

Heaven on Earth

Aren’t we all looking forward to Heaven? Wafting joyfully amongst the clouds, basking in the presence of the Holy One of Israel, free of concerns, free of duties and toils, forever elated.

Sounds nice, but don’t bet on it. That ain’t heaven- that’s Hollywood.

The Bible tells us that those who survive the Tribulation, the chosen who have chosen to remain faithful, will be part of the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 21). In the Acharit HaYamim (The End Days) after all the destruction is completed, the Enemy and his minions are in the lake of fire and the unfaithful in hell, the new heavens and the new earth will be revealed and the faithful (namely, the survivors) will not be in heaven. We will inhabit the new earth. Although Shaul (Paul) says we are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20) that isn’t where we reside. We are citizens of heaven but we live on earth.

And there will be work to do, there will also be sickness. Huh? Sickness in heaven? Aren’t we are told there will be no more tears? Yes, we are: it says in Revelations, as well as a few times in Isaiah, that the tears will be wiped from every eye and (essentially) there will be no more crying or mourning.

So, if there will be no more crying, where are the tears from every eye coming from? Or is it that there will be one last big “cry” and from then on, it’ s joyful joy, joy, joy all the time?

If there will be no more sickness then why do the trees that are on the river of living water Ezekiel and Yochanan (John) see have leaves with healing in them? In Ezekiel (47:12) and in Revelations (22:1) they both see the same tree with leaves that heal. Why have healing leaves if there is no more disease?

I can’t speak on these authoritatively, and I don’t believe anyone can give us an exact revelation of Revelations, or of the visions seen by the Prophets, either. I feel confident in saying that we can be certain of the meaning of a vision only when the events after the vision demonstrate what it was about. For instance, Kefa (Peter) on the roof dreaming of the animals on the sheet is clearly about the Roman’s asking him to go to the house of Cornelius so that the new Believers would know that the Spirit of God and salvation can come to the Gentiles, too. The history that came after the vision showed us what the vision was about (and just for the record, it had NOTHING to do with Kashrut, Kosher Laws.)

When I read the Bible and the statements made about the Eternal life promised to those that remain faithful, I do not see us roaming the heavens. That is where God lives with the angels. We are on the new earth. We are still working in an agricultural economy; Micah 4:3-4 says we will turn our swords and spears into farming utensils, so again I ask: why need farming utensils if we aren’t farming? If we don’t farm, and war is over, then wouldn’t we turn the swords and spears into something else? Or just throw them away?

We are also told in those verses that each will sit under his vine and fig tree. Here we again are being given a picture of an agrarian existence. Thomas Jefferson once wrote to George Washington that, “Agriculture … is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals & happiness.” Obviously, Jefferson (himself a farmer) thought that agriculture was a very “godly” pursuit. Of course, he also wrote his own Bible and cut everything spiritual and God-related out of it. Oh well, at least he knew farming was a good thing.

Back to the point… we will live on earth, the new earth, when all is said and done. Whether you go for Pre-Millennial, or Post-Millennial, or even Mid-Millennial, whatever! From what I read in the Manual, God will be in the heavens, but I really don’t know where Yeshua will be. I think He will be the righteous king over all the (new) earth, the one wiping the tears from our eyes, the one administering the healing leaves and the one final Kohen HaGadol (Head Priest.) And even though eternity has no beginning and no end, I believe that my “Eternity” will begin when this world’s existence ends.

I look forward to the rewards of honest labor, to the eternal presence of God, to seeing Yeshua’s face, and to sit under my own fig tree and vines, enjoying the fruits of my labor. If you have ever worked at and completed something difficult, and know that you completed it well, then you know a little about what heaven is like. Take that feeling, multiply it by a million and you have a good start at what it will feel like spending eternity with God.

I can’t say for certain what it will be like after the final battle, I don’t think anyone can. I believe from what I read that I will be on a new earth, a farmer, happy, able to live forever without disease (because it can be healed) and without tears (because they will be wiped from my eyes) but I can’t be positive. I can’t be positive because all the images and stories we have about “heaven” are from visions, and (as I said above) we can ‘t really be certain about what a vision is all about and represents until it comes about in reality. Actually, between you and me…I really don’t care what it will be like, just so long as I am there.

I am waiting patiently, faithfully, and with great anticipation for the End Days. I also hope they don’t come until the ones I love and care about that aren’t “saved” have been saved, but it is up to God when these things will happen.

And, despite how much as I care about my unsaved loved ones… Lord? The sooner, the better, if that’s OK with You.  🙂