Monday, January 1, 2018

Torah Portion - January 1, 2018

Join me in studying the ENTIRE TORAH this year...  
In the weekly Torah portions on this blog, we will study the Ten Commandments and the 613 Statutes... one-by-one... 

It is a positive Commandment for every member of Israel to write the Torah. This is because Yahweh wants us to know His Law, in which is revealed His Character and the foundations of His Government. 
Deuteronomy 31:19 - "Now write this song for yourselves". 
Notably, since we are all called "priests and kings" in our Father's service, Scripture tells us that every Israelite king was also commanded to write a copy of the Torah, which was always to accompany him. 
Deuteronomy 17:18-19 "When the king sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write a copy of this Torah… It shall be with him, and he shall read from it, all the days of his life".
Those who were closest to Yahweh, in Scripture (David and Moses) had one powerful thing in common - they came to know Yah through His Torah (Psalm 1:1-3, Acts 13:22, Exodus 33:11, Psalm 103:7). 
So, let's seek the blessing that is only found in the beautiful Torah:
Psalms 1:1-3 "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.  But his delight is in the Law of Yahweh; and in His Law doth he meditate day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."  

Today's Torah Reading: Genesis 1

Today's Torah Portion: The Heavenly Father's Name

Throughout our studies of the Torah, this year, we will constantly be encountering the Sacred Name of the Most High. For this reason, I think we need to begin with a study of His Name. What is it? How is to be pronounced? And what does His Name mean?

In the English translation of the Bible, we find the Father's Name written as Lord, or LORD. These two are actually not the same.

Lord, written with only a capitol L at the beginning, is translated from the Hebrew word Adonai, which is better rendered as "Sovereign", but means "lord". The association of the term "lord" with Yahweh is misapplied, as will be explained at the end of this study. And wherever Adonai appears, it should say "Sovereign" in English, rather than "Lord".  Still, Adonai is one of the Heavenly Father's titles, but it is not His Name.

LORD, written with all capitol letters, is translated from an entirely different Hebrew Name. When we look up LORD in the Strong's Concordance (it is Strong's number 3068), we find that LORD is translated from  יְהֹוָה (which is the Hebrew equivalent to: YHWH). Strong's transliterates these four Hebrew letters as "Jehovah", or "Yehovah". It means "the Self-Existent One". This is the Heavenly Father's Name. But the question of how to pronounce it quickly arises.

As we can see in the Strong's Concordance, in Hebrew the Name of God is spelled YHWH. Since ancient Hebrew had no written vowels, no one is completely certain of how the Name was originally pronounced. But there are records of the Heavenly Father's Name in Greek, which did have written vowels. These records indicate that His Name should be pronounced "Yahweh."

So, how did some folks come to pronounce the Heavenly Father's Name as "Jehovah" or "Yahowah".

It was a Catholic monk who first pronounced His Name as "Yahowah", which is a Latinized writing of "Jehovah", as is well documented by Catholic sources. Consider the following quotation admitting that the pronunciation of Jehovah and Yahowah are both of Catholic origin:

About the 13th century the term "Jehovah" appeared when Christian scholars took the consonants of "Yahweh" and pronounced it with the vowels of "Adonai." This resulted in the sound "Yahowah," which has a Latinized spelling of "Jehovah." The first recorded use of this spelling was made by a Spanish Dominican monk, Raymundus Martini, in 1270.
Interestingly, this fact is admitted in much Jehovah's Witness literature, such as their Aid to Bible Understanding (p. 885). (Catholic Answers

Since the Sacred Name is a Hebrew word, it makes sense to seek its correct pronunciation from those who understand and speak Hebrew. The fact that His Name should correctly be pronounced as Yahweh is revealed by many Hebrew scholars. For example:
"There is almost universal consensus among scholars today that the sacred Tetragrammaton (YHWH) is to be vocalized and pronounced Yahweh. Probably the name means literally "He is." New International Version: The Making of a Contemporary Translation CHAPTER 9: YHWH Sabaoth: "The Lord Almighty" Kenneth L. Barker
Jews, whose native language is Hebrew, recognize the sacred Name as Yahweh. The Jewish Encyclopedia published between 1901 and 1906 by Funk and Wagnalls includes the divine Name as Yahweh when translated into English.

Nazarene Judaism is a source of information on the pronunciation of YHWH because they see importance in the use of the Name and continued to utter the Name after mainstream Judaism had ceased saying it out loud. The following quote is from an article written by a Nazarene and explains that there is significant evidence that Yahweh is the correct. Nazarenes and the Name of YHWH by James Trimm states:
"It is clear when examining the many sources that the pronunciation of YHWH can be recovered as... YAHWEH... or YAH. This is attested to by the Yahwitic names of the Masoretic text, the Peshitta Aramaic and the Marashu texts. The true pronunciation of YHWH is also preserved in ancient transliterations of the name written in Egyptian Hieroglyphics, cuneiform and Greek, all of which had written vowels. The restoration of the use of the Name... with its correct pronunciation is as prophetically significant as the restoration of the ancient sect of the Nazarenes. Such a restoration of the Name of Yahweh to His people is promised in Scripture: For then will I turn to the people a pure language, That they may call upon the Name of YHWH (Zeph. 3:9)"
The first half of the Tetragrammaton is commonly used as an abbreviation for God's Name and is included in the a number of Biblical names. The shorten form of YHWH is Yah. The New World Translation Reference Bible states;
"Yah is the first half of the Tetragrammaton, YHWH..."  New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures Footnote to Psalm 68:4
This is attested to by a number of English Biblical references. The word Hallelujah means 'Praise Yah" and shows that YH was pronounced as yah. The names Elijah, Isaiah and Jeremiah all end with Yah. On the other hand, Jehosaphat begins with the incorrect "Jeho" in place of Yah. This carries the same inaccuracy as Jehovah. The inaccuracy is due to Masorite additions from the nineth century C.E. The correct way to transliterate this name is Yahosaphat and is a combination of the word Yah, with the Hebrew 'shaphat', which means 'judge'.

The first letter was Y as the letter J did not exist in the Hebrew language. The Encyclopedia Americana contains the following on the J:
"The form of J was unknown in any alphabet until the 14th century. Either symbol (J,I) used initially generally had the consonantal sound of Y as in year. Gradually, the two symbols (J,l) were differentiated, the J usually acquiring consonantal force and thus becoming regarded as a consonant, and the I becoming a vowel. It was not until 1630 that the differentiation became general in England."
The pronunciation of the Name of God has been preserved in a number of other languages that do contain vowels. The Murashu texts were found at Nippur and date back to 464 B.C. These were written in Aramaic cuneiform script on clay tablets.

The version of the Old Testament used by Aramaic speaking Assyrians, Syrians and Chaldeans was the Peshitta text. In the fourth century CE vowels were added to the Aramaic text. When they added vowels to names that begin with part of the divine Name the result was to start with Yah, such as in Yahosaphat.

Egyptian hieroglyphics contain written vowels. In Budge's An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary page fifteen shows that the shortened form of YHWH was transliterated as "IA" or "YA", also supporting that God's name begins with the sound Yah.

Assyrian cuneiform script has been found which had the divine Name spelled with written vowels. A.H. Sayce published Halley's Bible Handbook in 1898. On page 62 it discusses three clay cuneiform tablets dating from the time of Hammurabi which contain the phrase Jahweh.

Josephus also can be used to support the idea that the sacred Name was pronounced Yahweh.

But why does the word "Lord" appear in the Bible instead of Yahweh? After the following explanation, I think it is clear that the enemy has tried to undermine Yahweh in every possible way - including by paganizing His Name in the Bible! How so? The name "Lord" is not the Heavenly Father's Name at all. In fact, this was the name of the pagan sun-god, whom Elijah faced off on Mount Carmel. "Lord" is the name of "Ba'al".
"Baal (properly Baʿal) was a title and honorific meaning "lord" in the Northwest Semitic languages spoken in the Leviant during antiquity. From its use among people, it came to be applied to gods." 
"Scholars previously associated the theonym (god-name of Ba'al) with solar cults (sun worship) and with a variety of unrelated patron deities, but inscriptions have shown that the name Baʿal was particularly associated with the storm and fertility god Hadad and his local manifestations." 
Smith, William Robertson; Moore, George Foot (1899), "Baal", in Cheyne, Thomas Keith; Black, John Sutherland, Encyclopædia Biblica, Vol. I, New York: Macmillan, pp. 401–403
As is explained in the online article on Paleo Times:
Baal is a Canaanite-Phoenician word that means “master” or “lord”. (Harper’s Bible Dictionary, Miller) There were many baalim (plural of baal) or lords with different names in the Scriptures. Baal worship was worship in high places where people brought taxes to the pagan deities. Baal-gad is pronounced “Ba’al Gawd” which means the lord of fortune and should be recognized as similar to “lord god”. (Josh. 11:17) Baal-hamon means the lord of riches. (Song of Solomon 8:11) Other references can be found in II Samuel 13:23, I Chronicles 5:23, Joshua 15:9, II Samuel 5:20, II Kings 4:42-44, Judges 20:33, and Numbers 33:7. One of the most mentioned baalim is baal-peor which means lord of opening which was probably Chemosh, a Moabite deity. (Number 25:3, 5; Deuteronomy 4:3; Psalm 106:28; Hosea 9:10)
The reason that I refrain from using “lord” when referencing the Creator is because it is used in place of the heavenly Father’s name Yahweh in many translations of the scriptures. Additionally, the spoken word “lord” does not sound different when referring to the uppercase lord and the lowercase lord. The use of lord in place of Yahweh doesn’t allow for any distinction of who is being worshipped. Baal and lord refer to a number of different deities in Scripture and throughout history. It is troubling that baal is pronounced the same in all languages while Yahweh was replaced with lord. Lord and baal are interchangeable in meaning. Yahweh is not replaceable! There are a few prophecies that refer to the replacement that has happened. Let’s look at Jeremiah 23:
How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yes, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. (Jeremiah 23:26-27)
Yahweh does not sanction the replacement of His Name with a title. In the commandments we find that we are to have no other Mighty Ones before or in replacement of Yahweh. (Exodus 20:3) Yahweh says not to make graven images of anything in heaven above of in the earth beneath. 
(Exodus 20:4) The prohibition of idols is to keep us from worshipping tangible objects but as mentioned baal was often represented and worshipped through idols. Idol worship draws us away from Yahweh and toward something that we can control. Yahweh says that we are not to take His Name in vain. (Exodus 20:7) 
Vain means to bring it to nothing. We bring Yahweh’s Name to nothing by replacing it and by not giving Yahweh the respect that He deserves. Yahweh commands to be called by His Name. Using baal or lord to replace a Name that was shared at Sinai breaks the greatest Commandment. The greatest Commandment is that we love Yahweh with all our heart and all our strength.
And in that day shall you say, Praise Yahweh, call upon His Name, declare His doings among the people, make mention that His Name is exalted. Sing unto Yahweh; for He has done excellent things: this is known in all the earth. Cry out and shout, you inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the middle of you. (Isaiah 12:4-6)

For these reasons, throughout our studies of the Torah this year, whenever I find "Lord" or "LORD" in a Scripture passage, I will render it as "Sovereign", "Master", or "Adonai" for "Lord" - and I will render "LORD" as Yahweh.

This Week's Torah Studies:
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 in Microsoft Word format and are the second option (below):

An Overview of this Week's Torah Studies:
While we will be reading through the Torah in order (see this week's Torah Reading), we will not be studying the Commandments and Statutes in order. Since the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) is the heart of the Torah, it is appropriate to start with it. The Shema is the Torah portion which is written in the Mezzuzah and put upon the doorposts of the house. So, our Torah studies will be following another order. Also, in order to study all Ten Commandments and all 613 Statutes in a year, it is necessary to complete several studies each day, as shown below. Happy studying!

Statute 1 Summary:
(1) Submit to Yahweh as the One and only God in the Universe. Make Him First in your life, thinking and heart.
Deuteronomy 6:4  “Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God is one Yah.”  
Statute 2 Summary:
(2) Love Yahweh with every fiber of your being.
Deuteronomy 6:5  “And thou shalt love Yahweh thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
Statute 3 Summary:
(3) In Keeping His Commands, we Worship and reverence Yahweh, as our Heavenly Father.
Deuteronomy 6:1-2,13, 25  “Now these are the Commandments, the Statutes, and the Judgments, which Yahweh your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear Yahweh thy God, to keep all His Statutes and His Commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged… Thou shalt fear Yahweh thy God, and serve Him, and shalt swear by His Name… And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before Yahweh our God, as He hath commanded us.”
Statute 4 Summary:
(4) Serve Yahweh as Your Heavenly Father.
Exodus 23:25  “And ye shall serve Yahweh your God, and He shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.”
Statute 5 Summary:
(5) Hold fast to Yahweh and take all your vows and oaths in His Name.
Deuteronomy 10:20  “Thou shalt fear Yahweh thy God; Him shalt thou serve, and to Him shalt thou cleave, and swear by His Name.”
Statute 6 Summary:
(6) Only take oaths in Yahweh’s Name, when you reverence Him as your Father.
Deuteronomy 6:13 “Thou shalt fear Yahweh thy God, and serve Him, and shalt swear by His Name.”
Statute 7 Summary:
(7) Keep Yahweh’s Law and walk in all His Ways. When we do Yahweh swears to make us holy.
Deuteronomy 28:9 “Yahweh shall establish thee an holy people unto Himself, as He hath sworn unto thee, if thou shalt keep the Commandments of Yahweh thy God, and walk in His ways.”
Statute 8 Summary:
(8) Hallow Yahweh and do not profane His Holy Name.
Leviticus 22:32 “Neither shall ye profane My Holy Name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I Am Yahweh which hallow you.”
Statutes 9-10 Summary:
(9) Meditate on Yahweh’s Law, (10) teaching it to your household, in your “down time,” when you travel, before bed at night and first thing in the morning.
Deuteronomy 6:7  “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” 
Statute 11 Summary:
(11) Do not trust in any power but Yahweh.. Worship Him alone.
Leviticus 19:4  “Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I Am Yahweh your God.”
Statute 12 Summary:
(12) Do not make gods out of anything.
Exodus 20:23  “Ye shall not make with Me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.”
Statutes 13-16 Summary:
(13) Do not worship representations of God, for He has not shown us His form. (14) Do not make, (15) bow down to, (16) nor worship images of any created thing.
Deuteronomy 4:15-19  “Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that Yahweh spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,  the likeness of anything that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which Yahweh thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.”  
Statutes 17-18 Summary:
(17) Do not give your children to any false god, nor offer them as sacrifices to them. (18) Do not profane Yahweh’s Name.
Leviticus 18:21  “And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through the fire to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the Name of thy God: I Am Yahweh.”
Statutes 19-20 Summary:
(19) Do not turn to mediums or familiar spirits. (20) Do not seek after them.
Leviticus 19:31Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I Am Yahweh your God.”

Daily Bible Reading - January 1, 2018

Today's Reading:

Luke 5:27-39 

Genesis 1:1-2:25

Psalm 1

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Thoughts and Commentary on today's reading:

In Genesis chapters 1 and 2, we find the wonderful story of how God first created out word.

On the first day, He made light - and separated it from darkness.

On the second day, God made firmament and divided the waters from air.

On the third day, God made dry land appear and put plants and trees upon it.

On the fourth day, He made the heavenly lights - the sun, moon, and stars.

On the fifth day, God created the birds, fish and the sea creatures.

On the sixth day, God created land creatures and He made the first people: Adam and Eve.

On the seventh day, God rested, blessed it and sanctified it.

Yes, we all know the story of how God created the world, and what He physically made on each day of the Creation Week. But did you also know that the process of Creation, day-by-day, step-by-step is the same process the Heavenly Father does in each of us - spiritually?

Spiritual Creation - Step 1: Enlightenment

First, God enlightens us. Light is a symbol of Truth, which comes from His Word.

Psalm 119:105 - "...Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."

As He enlightens us, He separates us from the former spiritual darkness and deceptions which used to blind us.

Psalm 18:28 - "For Thou wilt light my candle: the LORD (Yahweh) my God will enlighten my darkness."

Spiritual Creation - Step 2: Dividing the Waters from the Waters

Spiritually, bodies of water represent people (Revelation 17:15). Next, God spiritually removes us from our past ungodly associations and destructive relationships. He calls into a walk with Him that is strengthened by fellowshipping with those who also choose to love and honor God.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 - "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty."

This doesn't mean that we cannot minister to those who are in spiritual darkness. Rather it means that we will choose believers for our close relationships. Doing this strengthens us, spiritually:

Proverbs 13:20 - "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."

Spiritual Creation - Step 3: Bringing forth Fruit in the Life

On the third day, God created all vegetation and filled the earth with fruit. He does this work in us spiritually, also. Our lives, when filled with His Spirit, will bear His beautiful Fruit:

Galatians 5:22-23 - "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no Law."

Spiritual Creation - Step 4: God Makes us Shine as the Stars

On the fourth day, God created the sun, moon and stars. Its a beautiful concept to see that God is calling us to be His shining stars. He wants to not only bless us with His enlightenment, but to use us to radiate the Light of His Love and Truth to all who are touched by the influence of our lives.

Daniel 12:3 - "And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."

Spiritual Creation - Step 5: God Gives us Fish and Birds

Next, God promises that the light of our witness will not shine forth uselessly. There will be "fish" and "birds" who will be "caught" for the Kingdom because of His Work in us. Spiritually, fish represent those who are born again - born of water, having been baptized. This is why the Saviour told His followers that He would make them "fishers" of men. Fishers catch "fish".

Matthew 4:19 - "And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."

Jeremiah 16:15-16 - "But, The LORD (Yahweh) liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the LORD (Yahweh), and they shall fish them..."

The Heavenly Father also uses us to help in freeing the spiritual birds. Birds are a symbol for the souls which are trapped in bondage to the enemy.

Ecclesiastes 9:12 - "For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them."

Clearly, this fifth step in the spiritual creation process is one of ministry. We are all called to labor in the Father's Vineyard for the saving of lost souls.

Spiritual Creation - Step 6: God Makes Man in His Image

This sixth step in spiritual creation is the whole point to being spiritually re-created. God wants to make us in His Own lovely Image. When mankind was first created, we were like God - not only in appearance, but most importantly in character. His Spirit was indwelling in our first parents. They always did the Will of God, at all times, being unfallen beings. But, when mankind fell, the Image of God was lost in our characters. Now we have a carnal heart and fleshly, corrupt, natural desires, which are opposite to the Will and Ways of God. But, if we allow God to complete the process of Spiritual Creation in us, He will again make us into His lovely Image. In the end, the father who claims us (whether God or the devil) will be the one we look like in character (no matter to whom we pay lip-service)

1 John 3:2-3 - "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure."

Thought for today: Pray to the Father to bless you with completing His Work of spiritual re-creation in your own life and soul. Then, submit into His Hands to accomplish this good Work. 

Be sure to add a COMMENT on this blog, sharing with us anything you found meaningful in your reading of today's Scripture passages. We will all love to hear from you (please keep the Comment relevant to today's reading - Thx!)