Parashah Mattot (chiefs) Numbers 30:2 – 32

The previous parashah ended with Moses reviewing for the people the commandments regarding sacrifices and the Holy Days. Now he continues with the laws regarding vows. These three things- sacrifice, Festivals and vows- form the basis of worship. The people are at the end of their journey and being prepared to enter the land God promised them they would possess. This is not the generation that refused God’s offer, for they all died in the desert. This is the new generation of Israel, a nation not born into slavery but born into freedom, raised in the harshest of climates and environments. This is the generation that has grown up knowing battle.

After the A-B-C’s of worship are reviewed, God tells Moses that the last thing he is to do as leader is to have Israel destroy the Midianites for the cruelty they imposed on the Israelites. After this, Moses is to meet his Maker.

The Israelites destroy the 5 kings of Midian, but there are still Midianites left in other parts of Canaan. Israel takes all the spoil, including women and children, which makes Moses mad. He reminds them of the sin caused by these women after Balaam suggested they seduce the men of Israel into worshiping their gods. Moses orders all the women who are not virgins to be slain, and all the male children (BTW…Balaam is also slain in the battle.) The spoils are split with those who did not go to war, with a lions share to the men who went to battle. There is tithing of the spoils, and the men that risked their lives gave a portion one tenth the size of those that received spoils but did not fight.

Miraculously, but not surprising considering God is behind this, of the 12,000 men from Israel who went to fight (1,000 from each tribe) it is reported that not one man is killed in battle.

This parashah ends with the tribes of Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh asking if they can have the land east of the Jordan because it is good for their cattle.

Just for the record, Manasseh wasn’t really spit in half: there were 8 tribes of Manasseh (Numbers 26:29-32 lists the sons of Manasseh, 8 in all), of which 6 families stayed on the East of the Jordan, and the other 2 were on the West.

This request ticked Moses off, as he assumed they were refusing, as their fathers had, to enter the land, but it was soon resolved that they would go into the land to help the other tribes conquer it, and only after the other tribes had their inheritances would these three tribes return to their share east of the Jordan. These three tribes built up their cities and fortified them, then joined the rest of the camp to go into Canaan and take possession.

I have often heard that the bible is not fair to women. Of course, any complaint against social mores in historic times that is based on current beliefs is ridiculous. History is what it was, and can’t be judged by what is now. We can make comparisons, we can say that women were considered in a different light then, but when we look deeper we see that they were not treated unfairly then, considering that day’s ethical beliefs. In fact, the bible shows that women were given just as much right as men to make decisions, once they were of age or their social status was free of parental support.

That is really the difference- today a female person of majority (legal age) has rights and is accountable for what she does, with no consideration as to her marital status or where she lives.  Back then, the ages for majority were different, but what was the same then as it is now is …“as long as you live under my roof, you will abide by my rules.” A female who was a virgin and living with her father was under his authority. She was allowed to make vows, and if the father (or when married, the husband) let those vows stand by not voiding them, then she was totally accountable to God for keeping that vow. If the father (or husband), who technically owned all assets of the family, voided the vow the moment he heard about it, then the female was absolved of responsibility. However, if the male did not void it immediately upon learning about it, but tried to void it later, the female was not accountable because he was! She had the right to make a vow and the responsibility to keep it, unless the person that owned the property for the family voided it. Remember- a vow would affect the entire family, and may also affect their income; or, the person making the vow may be less available for doing chores. Whatever the vow was, it affected everyone in the family, and may have affected their assets. It is only right that the one who owns the assets is given a right of review. It may be that you say women should have as much right to the property as the man, but there were no communal property laws in 1500 BCE. Today that certainly isn’t fair, but that is how it was back then. When you consider the cultural ethics of the time, the laws about family leaders (the father or husband) having the final vote about a vow the female living with him makes, is very fair, and respectful to all involved.

Note , also, that if a woman was a widow or divorced (the assumption is that she is living alone), then her vows were binding. Again, here it shows that she has the same authority as a man to make a vow, but being under her own authority (marriage-wise) she is totally accountable. Having the right to promise to do something also carries the weight of responsibility for doing that which was promised. Man or woman, this was equally enforced.

One example that comes to mind is how Elkanah let stand Hannah’s vow to give her first born son to God (1 Samuel, 22-23.)

When we read the bible we have to incorporate proper interpretive rules, and one of those is to accept that the cultural norms of that day were acceptable then. We may not accept them now, but that doesn’t make the people back then “wrong” or “unfair’ because the rules, as well as the entire game, was very different.

By remembering to account for cultural and ethical differences, you will not misjudge the people, or (for that matter) the bible.

Texas Supreme Court made the correct decision

WHAT??? Steve- are you saying that you are pro-abortion?

No. I am not for abortion- it is murder. What I am “for” is common sense, and to expect that a court of law in America is going to uphold a godly position is not sensible.

From a strictly “civil” point of view, it is illegal to force or coerce someone to make a decision that regards their individual rights. In America, like it or not, a woman has a legal right to have an abortion, within the limitations of the law. Those limitations are based partially upon the premise that the abortion does not risk the health of the mother. The Texas Supreme Court said the laws they ruled against were not designed to protect the health of the mother, but simply to make getting an abortion legally more difficult. That is a coercive measure which impede’s a woman’s personal rights, and it is illegal.

Again, from a strictly legal viewpoint, the court made the correct decision.

We, as Believers, cannot expect to have a government formed by humans to be a godly one. If you do, you’re a fool. In fact, as Believers, we should not want any man-made government; we don’t want a representative republic (that is we have in America-if you thought it was a democracy, technically it isn’t), we don’t want socialism, communism, despotism or dictatorships. What we want is a Theocracy- a government that is led by God.

After the Exodus, God ruled the people, with divinely appointed prophets to be His representatives on earth. God ruled through the Prophets, and we saw how He empowered them with miracles and wisdom. This is the Theocracy that all Believers should want and be waiting for.

When Yeshua returns to reign, we will have what we want.

But that is not what we have now, and don’t think that this is a recent event. Read 1st Samuel, Chapters 9 through 12. Samuel appoints a king, which is what the people have been craving. And in Chapter 12, after Saul is established as king and Samuel is ready to go the way of all things, he really lets the people have it. He tells them, in no uncertain terms, how horrendous a sin they have committed against God by asking for a king, and how they will suffer for putting a human over them instead of God.

Since then, history has proven Samuel correct.

In the meantime, we are bound by Torah, by Yeshua’s command, and by legal statute to honor and obey the existing government. All those in power are there by God’s approval, and they will perform His will, whether they know it or not, sooner or later. God’s plan is the one that will survive and be fulfilled.

If you are expecting the United States government, whether federal or civil (meaning state) to initiate and pass laws that are in accordance to God’s laws regarding the rights of the unborn, then all I can say to you is…get real, People!” Governments that are formed by humans will have human laws and be based on human desires and emotions. Godly things, you know, like compassion, respect for others, love, fairness to all, and respect for the Torah- those things have no place in human-formed government. Oh, yeah- we make a big stink about them, talk like we mean to have them and we are all about fair and just, but when it comes down to it, well…you decide. Do you think that our system of justice is honoring the Torah or ignoring it?

When the Jews came out of Egypt, totally under the command and totally obedient to God alone (well, maybe not totally but usually?), we enjoyed living under His sovereign rule and had His divine protection. During the times of the Judges (about 5 Centuries or so after Joshua died), the book of Judges tells us that men did whatever they saw as right. It wasn’t pretty.

Then, as I referenced above, Samuel is told by God to anoint Shaul (Saul) as king: this was the first step to kicking God out of our lives.

Moving forward a few thousands years, we have many religions, all trying to kill each other, and we have many states and countries with different forms of government. Those that said they were for God and wanted to do God’s will are represented by the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Nazi party (yes, the Nazi Party- the belt buckles of the Nazi uniform said, “Gott mit uns”, which translates to “God is with us.”)

Historically, governments that said they were godly were just the opposite.

Today we have kicked God pretty much out of everything- out of the schools (no prayer allowed), out of the courthouse (take those 10 Commandments down- they are religious and we have separated state from church) and out of our families. Today when Jews marry someone of a different religion, it is the Jew that is usually converting. The “Nuclear Family” has done just what nuclear devices are designed to do- blow up. Eating dinner together around the table and sharing the day’s activities is a past relic.

And, as the Texas Supreme Court has upheld, people can legally kill their children. It reminds me of God commanding us not to worship Molech: the sacrifice to Molech, a god of the Semites, was to throw a young child, alive, into the fire. We may not be throwing our children into the fire, but we aren’t that far off- we are still killing them, just sooner than the ancients did.

The world is godless, as it should be- that is, if you believe in what Revelations tells us will happen. I see such horror and destruction- not just of things and people, but of spirit, justice and compassion. Our children grow up stealing cars and murdering prostitutes on the way (video game) or destroying and killing in war (video games, again.) They see violence, satanic beings that are really “okay”, and sexual impropriety every day on the TV and in the movies, and they have become inured to the horror of it all.

They are being prepared for the enemy to rule them.

This is God’s plan, people- this is what is supposed to happen. It ain’t nice, it ain’t pretty, and it is going to get worse- MUCH worse: be prepared to be persecuted if you worship God.

Don’t expect to see justice and fair treatment in the world; at least, not the kind God wants.

The bowls are in the hands of the angels, and the seals are being torn off the scroll. We are going through it, we are about to experience it- can’t you see it coming?

The End Times prophecies aren’t prophecy any more- they are current events.

Do sinners go to heaven?

I certainly hope so! If not, all of us are in BIG trouble!

The real question is: do unrepentant sinners go to heaven?  I think I can safely say the answer to that question is: NO! Not a chance. Not happening. Close the door on your way out.

Sin is part of our nature, it is the Yetzer Hara, the Evil Inclination, we are all born with. Call it Original Sin, call it whatever you want to, but, as the Bard of Avon said, “What’s in a name?” Any way you look at it, we are, all of us, sinful in nature, sinful in actions and thoughts, and the only difference between me being a sinner before I was saved and me being a sinner now that I am saved is that now I am saved, AND (that’s a big “a-n-d”) I am repentant. I sin, but I don’t want to sin. My actions do not match my attitude.

Shaul said it in Romans 7:15 when he confessed, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

For those who have Yeshua Ha Maschiach at their side, as their Intercessor and Arbiter with the Lord when we come before Him at Judgment Day, we are saved from our sins when we repent of them and call upon His blood to cleanse us from them.

It is not the sin as much as it is the willful act of sinning which separates us from God.

God tells us through the Prophets, over and over, that He is more concerned with the desire of our hearts than He is for sacrifices.

Check out these few examples:

Isiah 1:11- 1:20, ” The multitude of your sacrifices— what are they to me?” says the LordI have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings!  Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! Wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless;   plead the case of the widow. ‘Come now, let us settle the matter’, says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.’ For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

1 Samuel 15:22,  “But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

Proverbs 21:3, “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.”

Hosea 6:6, “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Get it? It’s all about obedience- not from fear of death or destruction, but from fear of the Lord, as in respect, honor, faithful trusting, and love. That is what God wants of us, that is what He desires, and that is the only thing that we can give Him. God owns everything there is in the Universe, and what isn’t here now He can create. What He can’t have without us giving it to Him is our love, our obedience and our trust. These are the really important things to God.

Accepting Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah, as your Savior, confessing Him to be the Son of God, all that is good so long as you mean it.  And the only way to show you mean it is to change your behavior by changing your attitude. Only good trees provide good fruit, and your fruit better be good if you intend to present it to the Lord.

There is an old Jewish proverb: You can’t stop a bird from landing in a tree, but you can keep it from building a nest there. In other words, we will not be able to stop that initial reaction, that first thought, what we think at the first glance, but we can control what happens after that.

Yes, sinners go to heaven. And sinners that are really saved are changing their attitude. They are overcoming, slowly but surely, their Yetzer Hara and maturing and strengthening their Yetzer Tov (Good Inclination) so that their obedience to God’s Torah is from their heart.

God wants us to want to obey Him from desire to please Him. Yes, obedience brings blessings, and there ain’t nothing wrong with receiving blessings! But that’s not what it is really about.

God can have anything and everything He wants without anything from us, except our obedience and love. Tithe, do Tzedakah, give of your time to those in need and you are doing to God that which pleases Him.


Buffet Believers

You know the type- they say they believe in God, and that they are “saved by the blood”, but when it comes to the totality of the commandments found throughout the Tanakh suddenly there are laws and regulations that are not so important. Some are even just not applicable anymore.

For instance, pork carried diseases so that’s why God said don’t eat it, but we have the USDA now and pork is safe, so I can have it.

Or maybe that culture was very anti-female, and a lot of the laws and ways that women were treated are no longer acceptable or correct. The Bible was written by men, after all, so I don’t have to obey some of their misogynistic laws.

Or maybe they lived in an agrarian culture so tithing was something they could do, but we have state taxes and FICA and tithing only has to be what I can afford to do.

The Bible is God’s word; it is who He is, what He wants from us, and how He wants us to live. It is not a discussion. We can’t “white-wash” these commandments, and God doesn’t really care if we like them or not. In 2 Samuel He tells us Himself that He is no respecter of men (or women). True, He loves us; yes, He is our Father in Heaven and all that stuff but that doesn’t mean that we can just pick and choose what we like and leave the rest for someone else.

If you say you worship God and have the Ruach HaKodesh in you, then you cannot live as you used to. If you haven’t changed your ways, then you are a liar. Maybe you don’t mean to lie, but you are lying to yourself and God isn’t being fooled, not one little bit! It is because I do have the Ruach in me that I know when I am doing what is displeasing to God. I don’t want to and I am trying to do better, and I am doing better. Because I am producing fruit I know that what I am doing is pleasing to God. Not that my fruit can fill a basket, and I am not saying that all my actions are right, but I can say that my heart is right. I can say, truthfully, that I am doing T’Shuvah in my heart, and in my actions (although it’s easier to want to do better than it is to actually do better).

Look, there are so many things in God’s word that I do not understand “why” and there are so many things in His word that I do not really want to do (or not do), but I don’t have a say in this.

Yeshua said that no man can serve two Masters. That means that we have two choices: to serve God or to serve ourselves, which will translate to being a slave to sin. Face it, People! You are a slave! You always have been, you always will be. No options, no escape clause, you are not in control. Never were and never will be.

There are two options: slave to God or slave to sin. If you don’t like that, well…tough! That’s it. Go live in another dimension or universe, and if you can’t do that, then face reality and get with the program.

Yeshua said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Sin is heavy, Man! Sin weighs you down and doesn’t just affect you but causes pain and strife to the innocents in your life. It hurts you and those you love. When you live to worship God as he wants us to, even when we fail (as we all do) we are doing better, sinning less, and helping ourselves and those we love who are part of our life.

Look at it this way: if I was deep in sin, and I pulled those close to me into sin with me, I am murdering them, spiritually. And because I believe in the afterlife, I am not just murdering them, I am condemning them to eternal suffering. On the other hand, if I live a life devoted to God, although I will most likely ostracize myself from people I care about and love, I will be showing them the way to eternal life. I will not be condemning them with my actions, I will be helping them to live.

Being a slave to Messiah Yeshua and to God is what we need to choose, because it is our choice. You can choose life, you can choose death, but you can’t choose which commandments are valid and which aren’t.