Parashah Ki Thetze (Go Forth) Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25

In this parashah there are many seemingly miscellaneous laws, dealing with everything from marrying a captured slave woman to how to divorce her, rights of the criminal, OSHA regulations (must have a parapet on the roof), mixing of different things (animals that are yoked, seeds in the field, cloths), what to wear, what not to wear, sparing the mother bird, adultery, tzitzis, holiness of the camp, kindness to animals, excessive punishment, providing for the poor and needy, accountability for sin, kidnapping, pledges, charging of interest, business dealings, and others.

Most of these laws are easy to understand, and some don’t seem to make sense. This parashah seems to have a little of all three types of laws: Miztvot (commandments), Mishpatim (regulations) and Chukkim (laws we don’t understand the reason or meaning of.)

The message I would like to get across today is this: let the Holy Spirit guide your interpretation.  We may not be able to understand all that we read in the Bible; in fact, we can’t understand all that we read in the Bible! That’s one of the things that is so great about reading it every day! No matter how many times I read it, I always find something new in there, something I have seen a hundred times but never understood before that reading.

And that is not of my doing- it comes from the understanding I receive through the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit.

When I want to know what message God has for me, I “un-focus” my brain and leave it open to the Holy Spirit. It’s like when you find yourself staring directly at something but you don’t really see it because you haven’t focused your stare. I do that with my brain (most people who know me will tell you I do that a lot) and sort of open it up to the Holy Spirit to place what it wants in there. I am sure there are people who hear God talking to them, audibly, but I don’t. I get this little, still voice in the back of my head that just sort of “pops” something in there. And when it goes against what I was thinking I should do or say, or against what I thought I wanted, I can be certain that it is God. Especially because when I get that thought, it’s different from what I thought it should be and yet I know in my spirit that it is right, well…that’s gotta be the Big Guy leading me.

Today what I have for you is a short and simple lesson: let God’s spirit lead your interpretation and understanding when you read His word.

After all, who is better to explain what He means than the author, Himself?

Who Really Said That?

I was reading the “Today in History” section of the paper the other day and it said that in 1858 Abraham Lincoln, during his run for the Senate, said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

What got me was that I am absolutely convinced that there are many, many people reading that who think Honest Abe coined that phrase, himself. They have no idea that Yeshua said it, or that it is from the Bible.

That made me think (yes, it hurt, but sometimes I can) about how many other statements or sayings that are biblical, but which people do not know came from the bible, or (even worse) how many things do people think are biblical that are not?

How many times do we hear people say, “The bible says….” and then say something that isn’t in the bible? For instance, “God helps those that help themselves.” I hate that saying because it leads people to the wrong conclusion- it leads them to think that God wants us, first and foremost, to look to our own power for resolving our problems. And, if we do, then He will step in and help us.

WRONG!!!!  We need to look to God first: first, foremost, only and always before we do anything on our own. God is the one to count on, and God is the only one who can overcome. Yeshua said that for man it is impossible, but with God anything is possible. If what we need is possible only with God, then why even start on our own?

There is one time that you can say, to a degree, we need to start on our own- that would be regarding faith. When it comes to having faith, I believe that is something we need to show before we can have it fully justified. If we have faith only after some miraculous event, then we are reacting instead of acting. Faith is, to me, more than a word, more than a noun- it is an action verb! We say to “have faith” but it really should be (if you ask me) to “show faith.”

God will be faithful to support our faithfulness. We need to step out in faith, then He will walk beside us and guide us.

But when it comes to anything else, pray first, go to God first, and after you have first asked Him to guide and help you, then walk out in strength; fearlessly, faithfully knowing that God is with you.

We all need to know the bible- what it really says, and just as importantly, what it doesn’t say. We need to be able to right the wrong that people say which can only lead them to Sheol, and not to salvation.

How often do you read the bible? There are calendars that have a bible verse for each day of the week, there are tracts galore, there are online reminders, and every sort of biblical “reading” and daily devotional that you can find. These are not what I recommend, mainly because they are out of context and can be misleading. I believe, and I preach, go to the source. God can show you what He wants you to see, give you spiritual sight that will allow you to receive whatever message He has for you no matter what biblical reading source you use, but why go anywhere other than where He wrote it, in the way He wrote it. See what happened before the verse, and see what happens after it.

Too many of these sayings from or referring to the bible are misleading because they are out of context. The bible is not in true, chronological order, and the Christian order of books in the Tanakh is different from the Jewish order, but at least you get the history, the stories and the events in the way that Moshe wrote them (for the Torah) and in the way that people have learned them for millennia.

If you were given a book to read- history, mystery, self-help, whatever- would you read it haphazardly? I mean, would you read the first chapter, then the middle, go to the third from the end, then the second, and bounce all around like that? I hope not, but the Christian world does that. Pretty much every Christian service I have gone to preaches a sermon that takes from the bible, but the sermons have no biblical order. Now, in all fairness, maybe I am just a little too used to the Jewish system of reading the Torah portions (called Parashot) every Shabbat , in order, so that every synagogue throughout the world is reading the same message at the same time, and we all turn the Torah back to the beginning every Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah) on the eighth day of Sukkot.  There is also the haftorah, or additional reading from the other parts of the Tanakh, which emphasize the Torah portion reading.

I am not saying it is bad to use daily devotionals- any time you are reading from the bible is better than not reading from it, at all. But I hear too many people that do not know the bible, and think that there are things they hear that are from the bible. This is the path to destruction because the enemy knows the word of God as well, if not better, than almost anyone else. And he will use that to destroy your soul.

Let’s finish with this- gun control. Yes, gun control. If you own a gun, and don’t know how to use it, you are much more likely to have it used against you or to hurt yourself with it than to get any benefit from it. The word of God is like that- even Shaul tells us, in Ephesians, about how the word of God is both armor and weapon (from shield to sword.) The enemy will try to use the word of God against you, just as he tried to use it against Yeshua during the forty days He was in the desert, so if you don’t know it, and know it well, you may find the very weapons God has provided for you to protect yourself from the fiery arrows of the enemy, being used against you.

You can, and will, be defeated by the very weapons God has given you to defend yourself if you don’t know how to use them! And the way to know how to use them is ….to use them. Read His word, in order, from start to end, then go back and read it again. And make that as much a part of your daily routine as eating, drinking, and brushing your teeth (I certainly hope that is a daily thing!)

And always, always, always pray to God for the Ruach to guide your reading so that all He has for you to see in that book is made available to you.

We are living in prophetic times- the battle is coming. Quickly. If you don’t know how to use your armor and the weapons God has given you, you will be lost. Don’t think that just because you are saved now you can’t be fooled into giving up your salvation. In Revelations it tells us that many will be turned and apostatized. “Many” is a lot of people; in some translations I have seen , it says “most”- meaning more than 50% of the Believers will be fooled into taking the mark of the enemy. I believe those will be among the ones who don’t know the word of God as well as they need to.

Know your bible, know how to use the armor of God, and know your enemy.

He certainly knows you.

Parashot Vayak’hel/Pekudei (And he assembled…) Exodus 35:1-40:38

These last two parashah are read together, bringing us to the end of the book of Exodus, or you might say, this is an exodus from Exodus. Ouch!! 🙂

As an aside, there are often times when we will read two parashah together. The parashah schedule is designed so that we always end up with the last reading of D’Varim (Deuteronomy) on Simchat Torah, the 8th day after Sukkot (also called Sh’mini Atzeret) so there are times during the year that we need to read two portions instead of one to keep to the schedule.

These last chapters are all about the Tabernacle. We have the exact dimensions, size, weight, and every little detail of the Tabernacle, which Moses was told to erect on the first day of the first month. Aaron and his sons are anointed in their holy garments, and thus the place of worship and the means of worship are completed.

With everything done as required, God’s presence fills the Tabernacle. He has moved from the mountain to the Earth, and now resides with the people.

I see here the picture of how we, as a sort of Tabernacle, must prepare ourselves for the presence of the Holy Spirit by being “correct” in weight, size and construction. This doesn’t mean to get platform shoes, a haircut and go on a diet if you want to be saved, but it does show that once we are ready, in accordance to what God has designed, we can accept the Holy Spirit, the Ruach HaKodesh, and God will dwell with us.

In Ezekiel God says He will give us a heart of flesh, and in Jeremiah He promises

I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,”

We need to prepare ourselves for the presence of the Lord, just as the Tabernacle was prepared. Once we are ready we can be filled with His Spirit.

So, what is “ready”? I know, absolutely, that the Ruach dwells inside me, but I am not perfect, I am still sinful. So if I am not perfectly built as the Tabernacle was, how can the Ruach enter me?

Because God is not interested in my body; He is interested in knowing what is in my heart. And in my heart is T’Shuvah, is repentance, is the desire not to do what  I want to do, but to do what God wants me to do. And even though I am not able to be the perfectly erected Tabernacle that Moshe built, I am good enough because I am repentant, broken of the spirit of self-importance, desiring God’s forgiveness, and accepting of the Messiah Yeshua. Only because I accept Yeshua as my Messiah, and ask forgiveness in His name (and all the other stuff, too) am I able to be a properly prepared tabernacle of the Holy Spirit.

Here’s the part I don’t understand- I know that God cannot abide sin, and that I am a sinful sinner, yet His Ruach can live within me. I just don’t get it: it seems to be self-negating that the Holy Spirit, which cannot abide sin, can survive and even grow within this sinful body. Hallelujah, and thanks be to God, Almighty, that He is able to give me His spirit while I am still a sinner to help me become a more perfect tabernacle than I am now.

Like so many things about God and His plans, I do not understand how many of these things are possible, but that isn’t important. What is important is that it is being done.

The Tabernacle of God that Moshe built, once properly prepared, allowed the Lord to dwell with His people. The tabernacle of our heart, when properly prepared, will allow the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to dwell within us. The preparation is not nearly as complicated or expensive as the one for the Tabernacle Moshe built. All we need to do is go to the Lord with a broken spirit, a contrite heart acknowledging and owning up to our sinfulness and inability to overcome it alone, and a desire to do T’Shuvah, to turn from our sins and do what pleases God. Oh yes, the final ingredient for the recipe of salvation: we need to acknowledge Yeshua as our Messiah and ask, in His name, for forgiveness and for the Ruach to dwell within us. That is the final, and ultimate, preparation. That finalizes the construction of the tabernacle in our heart, in which the Ruach will dwell.

If you haven’t built your own tabernacle, you need to get to work. You have until your very last breath to do this; however, unless you know the exact moment you will die, you better not wait.

It’s Not Where It Is That Matters: It’s What It Says

How many people do you know that can quote chapter and verse from the Bible? In fact, can’t we all? Isn’t one of the basic training exercises for Bible study to remember a favorite quote or story, and where to find it?

If you read this blog regularly (and thank you, if you do!) you know that I rarely tell you where something is. That’s not because I don’t know, its because I believe two things:

1. Everyone needs to read the Bible, but the way it is taught is to tell you where the quote is from. Now why bother reading it, right? Telling you where to find it almost prevents you from looking for it, which keeps you away from the Bible. Making you look for it brings you closer to the Bible, and what God has for you in there won’t be found by someone else telling you what it says; and

2. It doesn’t matter where it says something in the Bible- what matters is that you know what God wants you to know.

Have you ever had a conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness? If you want to talk to someone who knows where nearly every word of the Bible can be found, that’s the person you want to go to. Unfortunately, the ones I have talked to (even before I knew God) have little or no understanding of what they are quoting. If you ask them about it, they will tell you another quote. If you question them, they will tell you another quote. But they don’t understand the meaning.

I don’t want to insult any JW’s out there, but this is my experience, as well as the experience of other people, knowledgeable of the Bible, who I have talked to about this.

The blood of bulls and sheep is not what God wants. He doesn’t want the circumcision of the flesh without the circumcision of the heart. Yeshua did not teach anything new; in fact, as you have read and heard me say many times, there is nothing new in the New Covenant writings. Yeshua interpreted the Word correctly, which is why it was so powerful. He didn’t tell us where God’s messages and commandments were found, He told us what they really mean. He went beyond just repeating what God says, and transformed our understanding.

Yeshua showed us that performance of God’s commandments is necessary, but living them is what we should be doing. In other words, don’t just repeat what is in the Bible but live it.

That’s all I want to say. I know I usually ramble on a little more, but what else is there, really, to say?

Live the Word of God. The Word became flesh so we can know God better, and so we can be with God in the Olam Haba (World to Come.) God has something in His Word just for you, but if you don’t look for it you will never find it. Seek, and you shall find, and what you find will change your life and the life of others.

You can make a change in people’s lives, as well as your own, but not by sitting still and listening- you need to get off your tuchas and DO something! Reading the Bible is an easy way to start, and the best way.

So go read something now!