Choices Have Consequences
Central question of this message: Are you committed to following G-d’s word, so as to make good choices?
We are in parasha V’Etchanan. It means “and I pleaded”. Its name comes from the first word in the parasha, which is a continuation of the historical message which Moses began in last week’s portion.
Deut 3:23-25 23 “I also pleaded with the Lord at that time, saying, 24 ‘O Lord God, Thou hast begun to show Thy servant Thy greatness and Thy strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Thine?
This Shabbes is known as “Shabbes Nachamu”, the “Shabbes of comfort”. That is because it follows the fast and mourning of the 9th of Av, when we remember all the catastrophies that have befallen our people in that season.
The Haftarah portion for today, Isa 40:1-26 is the portion of comfort.
Isa 40:1-2 40 “Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God. 2 “Speak kindly to Jerusalem; And call out to her, that 3 her warfare has ended, That her iniquity has been removed, That she has received of the Lord’s hand Double for all her sins.”
Today’s portion serves as a unique marker in all of Scripture. Not only does it contain some of the greatest theological statements found in all of Scripture, but it seems to serve as a fulcrum, a theological midpoint, for G-d’s eternal plan.
G-d, as He began the creation of this world, engaged in a gigantic act of mercy toward man (Adam). He saw Adam’s sin, and covered it Himself with a sacrifice.
In today’s portion, G-d uses Moses to remind the people of the importance of Torah to a live of blessing in the Land. But as we see in this portion (and as we know from history), the people did not honor G-d, or His instructions.
As we read of the end of days as written by the prophets, and particularly by Yochanan (John) on Patmos in the book now called Revelation, G-d will finish His plan for this world with yet another act of mercy toward mankind which is the largest one yet… and that is His judgment.
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8-13-16 Message to Beit Adonai Yisroel
Torah Portion: Deut 1:1 – 3:22 Devarim (“words”)
Haftarah: Isa 1:1-27
Suggested Acheron K’tuvim: Rev 21:2-7
Tisha B’Av – Our Mourning Shall Be Joy
Central question of this message: Are you looking forward to the rebuilt Temple, in which Yeshua will dwell?
We are in parasha Devarim. Its name comes from the first significant word in the parasha, which is also the first significant word in the book which carries the same name, Devarim. Deut 1:1
1 These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness,2 Devarim is also known among our people as “Mishneh Torah”, or the repetition of the Torah. Of course, those in the church will call this book by its more common name in this age, “Deuteronomy”, which means “second law”.
You remember from earlier messages, that Devarim is Moses’ final message to the people before he turns over the leadership to Joshua (actually, the Hebrew is: “Yehoshua”, and that is the longer version of Yeshua’s Hebrew name).
The books before this one in the Torah are characterized by the phrase, “And the L-rd spoke to Moses, saying…”. In Devarim, we find that Moses is the speaker. Moses spends much of this book reminding the people of what G-d has already said in the first four books, and setting forth blessings and curses associated with the observance of Torah… or rebellion against it.
The theme of the entire book of Devarim can be condensed to a single sentence. “Study the Torah, and don’t depart from it, for if you do, G-d will withdraw His protection and His blessings from you.”
And that brings me to a multiple fulfillment of that warning which we commemorate beginning tonight, on Tisha B’av. The ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av.
The 9th of Av has been a day which has seen more than its share of catastrophes.
According to tradition, the sin of the ten spies (omitting Joshua and Caleb) began the annual fast of the 9th of Av, for upon that day the people wept.
And according to the Mishnah Taanit (4:6), four more events occurred on the ninth of Av:
2. Solomon’s Temple was destroyed in 587 BCE.
3. The second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE.
4. The Romans overcame the revolt of Bar Kokhba, and murdered almost 600,000 Jews on 135 CE.
5. and on that same day, the Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed over the site of the burned Temple and the surrounding hills.
Accordingly, the ninth of Av is considered to be the most sad day of the annual calendar.
7-30-16 Message to Beit Adonai Yisroel
Torah Portion: Numbers 25:10 – 29:40 Pinchas (“dark skinned”)
Haftarah: Jer 1:1 – 2:3 (first Haftorah of Affliction’)
Suggested Acheron K’tuvim: Col 2:13-15
The Broken Vav
Central question of this message: What is the connection between Pinchas, Elijah, and Yeshua?
We are in parasha Pinchas. Pinchas means “dark skinned”.
The parasha takes its name from the second part of the first sentence.
10 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 11 “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel, in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy.
You might have already noticed that most translators of the name Pinchas choose to call him Phinehas (or a variant of that name). If you trust the Masoretic pointing, which here may be reliable, since it doesn’t relate directly to a messianic prophecy (where the Masoretes notably made changes to mask or obliterate the messianic nature of the verses), then the proper pronunciation (and thus the proper transliteration) of his name would be “Pinchas”.
So we can understand his actions in context, let’s back up to last week’s parasha, and see what leads up to the event for which Pinchas is most famous.
25 While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. 2 For they invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods. 3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the Lord was angry against Israel. 4 And the Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the Lord, so that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel.” 5 So Moses said to the judges of Israel, “Each of you slay his men who have joined themselves to Baal of Peor.” 6 Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting. 7 When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation, and took a spear in his hand; 8 and he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked. 9 And those who died by the plague were 24,000.
Moses has already demonstrated that he has no problem confronting evil in the camp of Israel, as he did regarding the golden calf, and even with regard to the uprising led by Korach.
So, what paralyzed Moses, so that he didn’t have the courage to act to stop this abomination by his own hand? Was it because he himself was married to a Midianite woman? Did he not see what this man was doing, right there in the courts of the Mishkan?
Some have suggested that the eyes of Moses were blinded to this, so that Pinchas might act, and be found righteous in the eyes of the L-rd.
But it is immediately clear that the quick and decisive action by Pinchas is not only approved by G-d, but secures for him (and his children after him) a special blessing.