Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Torah Portion - January 31, 2018

Today's Torah Reading: Genesis 24:27-60

Love for Yahweh - first and Supreme

Yahweh is calling out a people, both Jew and Gentile, who will fill their lives with the love of Yah and will obey His Will.

"For the Eyes of Yahweh run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect (wholehearted) towards Him," 2 Chronicles 16:9.

To know Yahweh is to love Him. That is also a Statute. To know that He exists and that there is no other God but the One Eternal God Who is King of kings and Sovereign of sovereigns is the first principle of the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). 

In choosing to love Him supremely, the Statutes tell us to hallow His Name and to worship Yahweh and Him alone. Today, we will do a Statute vignette, which focuses on just one principle which is part of loving Yahweh.

Deuteronomy 16:21-22 instructs Yahweh's people to never set up a grove of trees (used in the worship of false gods) near Yahweh's place of worship (which was an altar in ancient Israel). Also, Yahweh's people were not to set up an image of any false gods.

The most subtle and dangerous enemy of the true worship of Yahweh is not to turn away from the worship of God entirely, it is to pollute the worship of Yahweh with idolatry.

Syncretism, which is the simultaneous worship of opposing religions, was practiced in ancient Israel, during its times of backsliding. The people set up groves near the altar of Yahweh. These were not groves as we might imagine. 

The word translated as "grove", in the KJV, comes from the Hebrew word "asherim". Most modern versions plainly say "sacred tree" or "sacred pole" in place of the word "grove". So, in Deuteronomy 22:16, God is telling His people to not use idols or idolatrous symbols, as were used in the worship of the false goddess, Asherah (who is now called Easter).

"Thou shalt not plant thee an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the alter of Yahweh thy God," (Deuteronomy 16:21 American Standard).

"You shall not plant a sacred pole of any kind of wood near the altar of Yahweh," (Deuteronomy 16:21 New American Bible).

"Do not set up any wooden Asherah pole beside the altar you build to Yahweh your God," (Deuteronomy 16:21 New International Version).

Why would Asherah poles be placed by the altar of Yahweh? In ancient Israel it was so that the worship of Yahweh could be mingled with the practices of worship the pagans used for Asherah.

Does this Statute need to be mentioned today? I mean is this something people are still doing? Yes! Actually an Asherah pole was raised as part of the Easter-keeping celebrations. In fact, Asherah is another name for the false goddess more commonly known as Easter. And many Christian churches still practice this.

Today, we don't do animal sacrifices. As a result, the place of worship is probably not literally going to be an altar. The place where Yahweh is worshiped may be a Christian church or a home, etc... So the venue may look a bit different. But the Statute still applies. Here are a few photos of Christians who are probably unknowingly breaking the Statute of Deuteronomy 16:21:

(above) Christian church members lift up a 29-meter-long butara, a pole on which locals stick symbolic palm fronds consisting of olive branches and local shrubbery, during a Palm Sunday procession at the church in the village of Volicina April 13, 2014.

(above) This Christian Church, located in Ketchikan, Alaska (USA) has a native totem pole on its property. Christians likely set this pole up in honor of native "culture", not realizing that a totem pole is an idolatrous symbol which honors the false gods of the Alaskan native people. This is another example of (probably unknowingly) breaking the Statute of Deuteronomy 16:21

Similar to how a husband and wife demonstrate true love for one another by faithfulness to each other, love for Yahweh is shown by spiritual faithfulness. Let us be faithful to Yahweh by carefully to checking to see if we have ignorantly disregarded Deuteronomy 16:21. If so, let's remove the "pole"! Loving Yahweh involves exclusively worshiping Him. And that includes removing all symbols of idolatry from Yahweh's sacred places of worship.

This Week's Torah Studies: (Statutes 101-120)
The Torah studies are provided in two formats for your convenience. The first option (below) is the blank worksheets for this week, which will allow you to print out the worksheets and hand-write the studies yourself. If you have less time, you may wish to read/print my completed Statute studies. The completed worksheets are the second option (below):

An Overview of this Week's Torah Studies:
This week we will be studying Statutes 101-120, which are summarized below. Happy studying!

Statute 101-102 Summary:
Because only holy people can keep the Sabbath holy, Yahweh wants His Children to make double sure of their Cleansing on the Sabbath. For this reason, (101) twice the Lambs were to be sacrificed on the Sabbath (representing Yahshua’s Sacrifice for our sins). (102) Following the double Lamb sacrifice, Yahweh’s people are to offer double the meat (flour) and drink offerings (representing our acceptable living sacrifice–Romans 12:1–which is our thanks for Yahshua’s Sacrifice).

Numbers 28:9-10 “And on the Sabbath day two lambs of the first year without spot, and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, and the drink offering thereof: This is the burnt offering of every Sabbath, beside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.”
Statute 103-106 Summary:
Yahweh commands His Children to keep the New Moon by offering specific sacrifices. These sacrifices each point to specific aspects of Yahshua’s Atoning Gift. The point in commanding us to keep the New Moons with such offerings is that Yahweh wants us to specifically claim the Gift of Yahshua over our homes, family and lives in these specific roles. 

We no longer literally offer these animals, because they all pointed to Yahshua’s Death. But we can spiritually claim the Sacrifice of Yahshua in these Roles: 

(#103) We are to keep the New Moon by claiming and acknowledging Yahshua’s Blood as the most expensive Gift Heaven (bullock) had to offer. As we think of the high cost of our sins, sin become less attractive in our eyes. 
(#104) We are to keep the New Moon by claiming and acknowledging Yahshua’s Role as our Leader and Protector (Ram). As we think of the Saviour’s Role as our Leader, we study His Example and choose to follow Him more closely. 
(#105) We are to keep the New Moon by claiming and acknowledging Yahshua’s Blood as the Innocent and Pure One (lamb). As we think of this, we are able to claim Yahshua’s Atonement for our sins and be made pure and innocent through Him. 
(#106) We are to keep the New Moon by claiming and acknowledging Yahshua’s Sacrifice as our Substitute. The devil is compared to a goat, this is why a scapegoat was used to symbolize him. Yahshua had to die for the devil’s traits in us. As we think of this, we are able to repent for having “seeds” of darkness in our souls and be made clean of it. As with the daily and Sabbath offerings, we are to not only claim Yahshua’s Sacrifice, we are also to be the living oblation, returning our gratitude for the tremendous Gift of Salvation through living fully and being willing to die for Yahweh (emblemized in the meal and drink offerings). These offerings are acceptable in Yahweh’s Sight – demonstrated by fire. He sends fire (Pentecost) to consume acceptable sacrifices.

Numbers 28:11-15 “And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt offering unto Yahweh; two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs of the first year without spot; And three tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, for one bullock; and two tenth deals of flour for a meat offering, mingled with oil, for one ram; And a several tenth deal of flour mingled with oil for a meat offering unto one lamb; for a burnt offering of a sweet savoura sacrifice made by fire unto Yahweh. And their drink offerings shall be half an hin of wine unto a bullock, and the third part of an hin unto a ram, and a fourth part of an hin unto a lamb: this is the burnt offering of every month throughout the months of the year. And one kid of the goats for a sin offering unto Yahweh shall be offeredbeside the continual burnt offering, and his drink offering.”

Statute 107-109 Summary:
(#107) Yahweh commands us the keep the New Moons. (#108) We are to especially pay attention to (or regard) the New Moon of the month Abib, for this is the first New Moon of the New Biblical Year. We are to calculate timing on Yahweh’s Calendar by the New Moons. (#109) Passover is kept in the first month (New Moon cycle) of the Biblical Year.

Deuteronomy 16:1 “Observe the month of Abib, and keep the Passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib Yahweh thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.” 

Exodus 12:2 “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.”

Statute 110-111 Summary:
(#110) Yahweh’s people are to work for six days. (#111) But on the Seventh Day, we and all our households are to rest from our daily work and keep the Sabbath.

Exodus 23:12 “Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.”  

Statute 112 Summary:
(#112) On Friday, the preparation for the Sabbath is to be completed. Cooking for the Sabbath meals is to be done on Friday. No cooking, baking or boiling is to be done on the Seventh-day Sabbath.

Exodus 16:23 “And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto Yahweh: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.”  

Statute 113-114 Summary:
(#113) Yahweh’s people are never to marry non-Torah-keeping, false-god-worshippers. (#114) Yahweh’s people are not to allow their children to inter-marry with the heathen (those who don’t follow Torah).

Deuteronomy 7:3 “Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.”

Statute 115 Summary:
When someone attempts to curse Yahweh's people, it is a serious offense before Yahweh! Even though Balaam was unable to curse Israel, the fact that the Moabites hired him to do it was sufficient reason for Yahweh to bar them from Life. People from groups which try to curse Yahweh’s Children cannot fellowship with Yahweh’s people or partake of Abraham’s blessings for ten generations. However, Ruth was a Moabite, and because she repented and chose Yahweh as her El, she was not only allowed in the fellowship of the Saved, she was also in the lineage of Christ! As it says in Exodus 20:6, Yahweh is merciful to those who love and obey Him.

Deuteronomy 23:3-4 “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of Yahweh; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of Yahweh for ever: Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee. 

Statute 116-117 Summary:
(#116) Spiritual Israel are not to loathe people who, like the Edomites, are not antagonistic against Yahweh’s people and have an affinity for Yahweh and the Truth. (#117) Spiritual Israel are also not to loathe people who, like the Egyptians, are not antagonistic against Yahweh’s people or Truth, yet are caught in the spiritual bondage of Egypt. We are to be understanding and gentle with such folk, because we ourselves were once caught in the spiritual bondage of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 23:7 “Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.”  

Statutes 118 Summary:

When the Children of Israel tried to conquer Canaan, they were afraid of the giant and formidable people who blocked their way. Before final Spiritual Israel can possess ultimate Canaan, we too will face “giants” in ungodly earthly powers. But, (#118) Yahweh instructs us NOT to be afraid. We are to remember that Yahweh is with us. He is greater than any foe!

Deuteronomy 7:21 “Thou shalt not be affrighted at them (the nations of the earth of whom you would be afraid – see verse 19): for Yahweh thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.”

Statutes 119-120 Summary:

(#119) Yahweh’s people are never to bring contempt upon Yahweh’s Name, nor trifle with or make light of it nor curse it in any way. (#120) Also Yahweh’s people are never to make light of, bring into contempt, bitterly curse, despise or declare to be evil the leadership of the flock.

Exodus 22:28 “Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.”