Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Torah Portion - January 16, 2018

Weekly Torah Studies

Today's Torah Reading: Genesis 15

The Hebrew Alphabet: 

The next letter of the Hebrew alphabet is “Samech” (pronounced “sah-mekh”) and has the sound of “s” as in “son”. The letter Samech is the 15th letter of the Aleph-Bet, having the numeric value of 60. The pictograph for Samech looks something like a shield, whereas the classical Hebrew script (Ketav Ashurit) is constructed of a circular shape with a squared left corner:

The root of the word Samech  means “to lean upon,” “to uphold,” or “to support.” The root is also found in the Hebrew concept of semikhah, the laying on of hands upon the head of a sacrificial victim in a blood ritual of the Temple, which was also a means of consecrating the priesthood (Lev 8; Exodus 29, etc.). 

Biblical references to the root occur in Lev 16:21, Deut 34:9, Ezekiel 24:2, and elsewhere. In ancient times, Samech may have represented a shield. The Laying on of Hands to ordain a priest is called a semikhah.

“Then you shall bring the bull before the tent of meeting.  Aaron and his sons shall lay (samakh) their hands on the head of the bull.” Exodus 29:10

Spiritual Meaning of the Samech
Samech = 60 and means “PROP”, “SUPPORT” or “COMPASS ABOUT”.

Samech has an enclosed, circular form. It shows how Yahweh surrounds and compasses us. Samech portrays how we are completely surrounded by Messiah’s Loving Arms.
Samech is for Sabab – “to compass about.”

“Thou shalt COMPASS me about with songs of deliverance,” Psalms 32:7

“The eternal YAH is thy refuge, and underneath are the Everlasting Arms,” Deuteronomy 33:27.

“His Left Arm is under my head, and His Right Arm embraces me… Who is this coming up from the desert, LEANING upon her Beloved?” Song of Solomon 8:3 & 5.
“He that trusts in Yahweh, mercy shall COMPASS him about,” Psalms 32:10.

Samech shows us a picture of a PROP, strongly supporting and upholding a tree to enable it to weather storms safely. This reveals how Messiah supports and upholds us, strengthening us to endure the “Storms” of trial.

Samech is also the letter for Sukkah, indicating that God’s Omnipresence is our Support and Shelter. God actively supports His own (Hebrews 1:3), and we trust in His provision and care.

The first set of Hebrew letters shows the Gospel. The second set of seven Hebrew letters gives the details of Sanctified Living. And the third set of seven letters, beginning with Samech, shows Yah’s Promises and Warnings to His People. The final Hebrew letter, set apart on its own is the Tav

Samech is said to represent the endless and ever-ascending spiral of God’s Glory in the universe. This cycle is revealed in both the seasons and in the rhythm of the mo’edim (festivals).

This Week's Torah Studies: (Statutes 41-60)
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 41-60, which are summarized below. Happy studying!

Statute 41-42 Summary:
(41) The priests bear the responsibility to be watchmen who safeguard Yahweh’s holy things and days (42) and lead in the worship of Yahweh. When the priests rightly serve in this post, people are protected by it..
Number 18:5  And ye (the priests) shall keep the charge of the Sanctuary, and the charge of the Altar: that there be no wrath any more upon the children of Israel.”
Statute 43-45 Summary:
(43) The priests are to serve as burden bearers (intercessors), helping others find pardon and peace with Heaven. (44) Priests are not to have an earthly inheritance. (45) The tithes are the support and inheritance of the priests.
Numbers 18:23-24  “But the Levites (priests) shall do the service of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a Statute forever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto Yahweh, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.”  
Statute 46 Summary:
(46) We (since we are all called to be priests - Revelation 5:12) are to take care to come cleansed before Yahweh. We cannot worship Him, be an acceptable living sacrifice, or minister to others until we ourselves are made clean.
Exodus 30:18-21 “Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the Tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the Tabernacle of the Congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto Yahweh:  So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.” 
Statute 47-48 Summary:
(47) The Menorah is to be fueled only by pure olive oil. (48) The Menorah Light is never to burn out, but is to be always lit.
Exodus 27:20-21 “And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the Light, to cause the lamp to burn always. In the Tabernacle of the Congregation without the veil, which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall order it from evening to morning before Yahweh: it shall be a statute forever unto their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.”  
Statute 49 Summary:
(49) The priests are to regularly bless the people in Yahweh’s Name with the following Yah-given blessing:
Numbers 6:23-27 “Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the Children of Israel, saying unto them, Yahweh bless thee, and keep thee: Yahweh make His Face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: Yahweh lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. And they shall put My Name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them.”
Statute 50 Summary:
(50) The priests are to set a show-bread table continually before Yahweh’s Presence.
Exodus 25:30 “And thou shalt set upon the Table Showbread before Me always.”
Statute 51-53 Summary:
When a foul and idolatrous building or city is judged and destroyed, (51) it is to remain a ruin forever. It must never be rebuilt. Also, (52) no items or gain from the judged place may be taken or used by the Children of Yahweh. (53) All proceeds and gain from the judged place must be destroyed and burned by fire.
Deuteronomy 13:16-17 “And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for Yahweh thy God: and it shall be an heap forever; it shall not be built again. And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that Yahweh may turn from the fierceness of His anger, and show thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as He hath sworn unto thy fathers.”
Statute 54-55 Summary:
(54) A prophet who claims to speak in Yahweh's Name, the prophet must speak the Truth from the Word of God. When a prophet (teacher of “truth”) claims to speak in Yahweh’s Name, but does not speak the Truth from the Word of God, that presumptuous prophet will die. (55) And when person claims to teach truth, he/she must not do it in the name of a false god. Such a false prophet will also die.
Deuteronomy 18:20 “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in My Name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.”
Statutes 56 Summary:
(56) If a false prophet (proclaimed teacher of “truth”) encourages people to do or believe things which honor false gods, you are not to listen to him/her.  Even if the false teacher “proves” his false teachings with miracles, you are not to listen to or allow yourself to in any way be influenced by him or her.
Deuteronomy 13:1-3 “If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for Yahweh your God proveth you, to know whether ye love Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Statute 57-59 Summary:
(57) Yahweh’s people are not to assemble to hear a false prophet. (58) Yahweh's people must not show hospitality to a false prophet. (59) Yahweh's people are not to show deferential respect towards a false prophet.
Deuteronomy 18:22 “When a prophet speaketh in the Name of Yahweh, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Yahweh hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”
Statute 60 Summary:
(60) Yahweh’s people are not to talk like, nor practice the worldly habits of, nor take on the ungodly customs of the unsaved people around us.

Leviticus 20:23 “And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them." 

Daily Bible Reading - January 16, 2018

Today's Reading:

Luke 13:1-17

Genesis 23

Psalm 16

Listen to the Bible








Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

Our Saviour sometimes used well-known news events as illustrations for His spiritual lessons. This is certainly the case in Luke 13:1 and in Luke 13:4.

Luke 13:1-9 bears a solemn warning, with two layers of application. The nation of Israel is pictured in the parable of the barren fig tree. But it also applies to every professing Christian. To demonstrate this, let's begin with getting some historical context on Christ's illustrations.

Christ had been in the middle of speaking to the people, warning of the threatening signs of the times, and urging men to repent and to turn and make their peace with God while there was yet time. Some of those listening in the crowd, probably Jerusalem Jews, responded by mentioning to Him a recent tragedy which had taken place in the temple courts. 

The Bible says that there were present at that season some that told Him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. For clarification, this doesn't mean that Pilate offered their blood amidst the blood of the temple sacrifices. He actually killed these Galileans while they were offering sacrifices. The murder was conducted in such a bloody way, that the victims' blood became mingled with the blood of the animals they had been sacrificing.

Why did Christ's listeners bring up this terrible event? They couldn't quite receive Christ's Message or warning - in a personal way. They believed terrible things only happened to terrible people. And the signs of the times which Jesus (Yahshua) warned about weren't going to effect people like them. They felt comfortable in the belief that those kinds of tragedies were Judgments of the Almighty against people who deserved it.  

"Yes, Master," these people seemed to say, "we see there is a fierce hatred which is ever growing more intense between Jew and Roman. You know, for instance, what has just taken place in the city, only the victims in this case were Galileans, not righteous Jews. Is it not possible that these bloody deeds are simply punishments of men who are great sinners, as these doubtless were?"

Sadly, such terrible incidents were common under the Roman rule. Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus (a 1st century Jewish historian), recorded several events which shed some light on the back-story behind the Saviour's words.

In the writings of Josephus we learn about a tragedy which had taken place during a well-attended Passover gathering. Josephus records that at one Passover three thousand Jews were butchered, and the temple courts were filled with dead corpses; at another of these feasts two thousand were killed (see ' Ant.,' 17:9. 3; 20:5.3; and ' Bell. Jud.,' 2:5; 5:1). On another occasion disguised legionaries were sent by Pilate the governor with daggers among the Passover crowds (see 'Ant.,' 18:31). These wild and terrible tragedies were frequent occurrence in those sad days.

Now, with that backstory in our understanding, we can return to the moment recorded in Luke 13. Christ was speaking to the people about the need to repent and be right with God, while there was still time to do so. But having believed that they were more righteous than the victims in these terrible news stories, some in the crowd around Christ that day were under a false sense of security. They were complacent with the thought that those things happened to THEM because they were terrible people who must have deserved it. "But I am a good person. These things won't happen to someone like ME."

But tragedy may strike anyone at anytime.  As Christ made plain, it wasn't because these victims were more sinful than other people that their lives were taken so quickly. In verse 4, we find the reminder that all earthly things which we put our trust in to keep us safe cannot be trusted to protect us. Towers, that are built for safety, often prove to be the cause of men's destruction.

And what does all this mean to us today? What is Messiah's Message for us now? We humans tend to trust in the wrong things. We trust our retirement funds to protect us from financial disaster. Like the people around Christ that day, we may trust that if we live a "good" life, things will always go good for us. But there is no source of security in being in the right club, doing the right things, or earthly thing. Security is only found in God.

If we love God and belong to Him fully, then and only then are we secure. This doesn't mean that tragedy won't strike us. But it does mean that God won't allow "bad" things to come to us without some good purpose. Knowing this helps God's people to fully trust in His GOODNESS, no matter what happens.

Romans 8:28  "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His Purpose."

This is what Joseph did, when he was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and taken - at the age of 17 - from his comfortable home and loving parents. It must have been a dark day for that poor teen as the slave-traders camels carried him closer and closer to Egypt and farther and farther from home. Even his own brothers, who he had trusted, had proven untrustworthy. But God was still overshadowing Joseph under His protective Wings. God had not forgotten Joseph, even on his darkest day.

Joseph was sold as a slave to an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh named Potiphar. Because of Joseph's faithfulness to God, he went above and beyond the call of duty for Potiphar and was quickly put in charge of all the man's estate. There were many twists and turns, betrayals and trials in Joseph's story. But Joseph ended up as second in command, not of Potiphar's house, but of all Egypt. And it was because of Joseph's connection to God, that God was able to use him to deliver Egypt - and the surrounding region -from a terrible, 7-year famine.

The story came full-circle when one day Joseph's older brothers journeyed to Egypt to buy food, as their part of the country was also in famine. They stood before the brother they had sold, who was now the second most powerful leader of Egypt (second only to Pharaoh himself) and they didn't even recognize him. But, when Joseph finally revealed who he was to them, they were understandably terrified! They had done a horrible thing to Joseph in selling him as a slave! And they well knew it! Now, Joseph was standing before them with the power to destroy them.

But instead of seeking revenge, Joseph comforted his brothers by reminding them of his great trust in God. He told them that he knew that they had sold him into slavery for an "evil" purpose, but that God had allowed it to happen because He had a good purpose for it. In fact, it was because God had allowed Joseph to be taken into Egypt that there was food stored up for the time of famine! Here's what Joseph told his brothers that day:

Genesis 50:20  "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it (for) good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."

So what about you? Do you belong to God? Do you abide in Him? Is He your Source of Security? Do you trust in Him? If so, than you are safe - no matter what future "evil" may come into your life. In God, you have true security. This doesn't mean that you won't have dark and even tragic days ahead. But it does mean that God will filter what comes to you. He will only allow whatever circumstances He sees are ultimately for good.

But, if we do not belong to God, putting our trust in some other earthly "safeguard", we will be destroyed. The ax is laid to the root of the fig tree. If we fully belong to God, we will bear His character Fruit in our lives. We will live with the assurance that our only job is to glorify God - it is His job to protect us. He is our Tower of Protection and only source of true safety - not an earthly tower made of stone which failed to protect the Galileans.

Proverbs 18:10  "The Name of Yahweh  is a strong Tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe."