Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Torah Portion - January 24, 2018

Weekly Torah Studies

Today's Torah Reading: Genesis 21:1-15

The Hebrew Alphabet: 

The twenty-first letter of the Hebrew alphabet is called “Shin” (pronounced “sheen”) and has the sound of “sh” as in “shy”.

The letter Shin, the last in our third series of letters, completes many themes and insights contained in the preceding twenty letters. Shin represents the “totality of an overall process, one that is shaleem (שלם). Shaleem means “whole, full, complete”. The word Shalom (peace) comes from shaleem. The phrase “perfect peace” in Hebrew is shalom shaleem.  Why is the word for “peace” derived from a root that means “full” and “complete”? Peace is much more than the mere absence of conflict; it is the culmination of process – an internal one. It is a perfect state of being, which is not affected by the circumstances surrounding it. When we are able to hold this kind of peace in the soul, we are perfected in Messiah.

The King and the Peace Contest - There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried and submitted their work. The king looked at all the pictures. There were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake, perfectly mirroring the peaceful, towering mountains all around it. Overhead was blue sky with fluffy, white clouds. It was the favorite of all who saw it. Truly, they thought, it was the perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too, but these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky from which rain fell and in which lightening played. Down the side of one mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. A less peaceful picture would be difficult to imagine. But when the king looked closely, he saw beside the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest in perfect peace.

The king chose the second picture. “Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all these things and still be calm in your heart. This is the real meaning of peace.” Real Peace is in your Heart, and is not dependent on the external circumstances.

Spiritual Meaning of the Shin


Shin is for the word “Shalom”, which means “peace”. By devouring and consuming sin, Yahweh brings ultimate Peace!

Messiah is called “Sar Shalom” meaning “The Prince of Peace.” “And His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6.

Shin is for “El Shaddai”, the Name of God as the One Who is unlimited, Who is all-sufficient, and Who is powerful enough to meet all our needs. When we fully recognized this Truth, we will be at PEACE (Shalom) no matter our circumstances.

The letter Shin appears on the mezuzah (“doorpost”) – which contains the Shema. The command to write the Shem on the door frames of the home is taken literally, resulting in the appearance of the mezuzah on the doorposts. The letter Shin, which appears on the mezuzah, stands for three things:
שומר  Shomer – Guardian
שדי  ShaddaiEl Shaddai
שמע  Shema – Hear!

The letter Shin is also formed by the land-forms in Jerusalem.

“Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God is one (exclusively, first, supreme) Yahweh. And thou shalt love Yahweh thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 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.  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
Shomer: The Guardian of Peace

The presence of the mezzuzah on the doorpost serves as a constant visual reminder of the first Passover, when the blood of the Passover Lamb was placed on the lintel and the doorposts of each saved home. On that memorable night, the angel of death passed through the land of Egypt and struck dead the firstborn of both man and beast. God commanded everyone to remove a lamb from the flock and place its blood on the exterior door frame of the home because:

Exodus 12:13 “And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.” 

The Passover Lamb is one of the Bible’s premiere figures of Yahshua.

1 Corinthians 5:7-8 “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the Feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

John 1:29 “The next day John seeth Yahshua coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”

Yahweh commanded His people to observe the Passover, on the 14th day of Abib (or Nissan), the same day on which Yahshua was crucified almost 1500 years later as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world.

The blood of the Passover lamb on the doorpost signified the Protection of the Almighty. Yah Himself was the Guardian of all that were in the blood-covered house. In the same way, the presence of the Mezuzah on the doorpost signifies that within this house dwells a family which has claimed the blood of the Passover Lamb (ultimately Christ, although most Jews do not connect this full picture) and is faithful to Hear Yahweh and obey His Torah. As such, the family can be at peace, trusting the unseen and ever-present Guardianship of Yahweh over the house. 

This Week's Torah Studies: (Statutes 61-80)
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 61-80, which are summarized below. Happy studying!

Statute 61-62 Summary:
(61) The priests are to burn incense before Yahweh (which represents prayer–Revelation 8:3-4) every morning and every evening. (62) The lamps (which represents our witness – Matthew 5:14 – being filled with Yahweh’s Spirit and abiding in YAH) are to be dressed every morning and freshly lit every evening.

Exodus 30:7-8  “And Aaron shall burn thereon sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall burn incense upon it, a perpetual incense before Yahweh throughout your generations.
Statute 63-64 Summary:
(63) The fire on the Altar of Burnt Sacrifice (representing the Cross) is always to be kept burning, day and night. (64) Priests are to offer burnt offerings and peace offerings upon it to Yahweh.

Leviticus 6:12-13  “And the fire upon the altar (of burnt sacrifice) shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings.  The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.”

Statute 65 Summary:
(65) Yahshua was the One Who laid aside the white “linen” of His perfect righteousness, put on my filthy robes and suffered for me outside the “camp.” It is by His humiliation and atonement that I am made clean and accepted by Heaven. This work of the Saviour is to bring about true repentance and sorrow for sin. The priest carried the ashes outside the camp to cause the people to think about the Saviour’s work of redemption. This is statute of remembrance. By beholding, we become changed. We are to cogitate Calvary daily.

Leviticus 6:10-11  “And the priest shall put on his linen garment, and his linen breeches shall he put upon his flesh, and take up the ashes which the fire hath consumed with the burnt offering on the altar, and he shall put them beside the altar.  And he shall put off his garments, and put on other garments, and carry forth the ashes without the camp unto a clean place.” 

(See also Hebrews 13:11-13) (Also note: ashes was a mark or token of grief, humiliation, or penitence - Nehemiah 9:1Job 42:6)

Statute 66-68 Summary:
(66) We are not to allow anything unclean to come into the heart or home where Yahweh dwells. We are not to allow leprosy into our hearts or homes. Spiritually, leprosy is reprobation (because we lose our ability to perceive guilt when we choose to justify ourselves rather than repent from sin) (John 3:19-20). (67) We are not to allow an issue into our hearts or homes. Spiritually, the issue is pining or wasting away; as in being unthankful, embittered, or complaining (1 Corinthians 10:10). (68)We are not to allow our hearts or homes to be defiled by the dead. Spiritually, death is following lusts and fleshly desires (Hebrews 9:14).

Numbers 5:2-3  “Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every leper, and every one that hath an issue, and whosoever is defiled by the dead:  Both male and female shall ye put out, without the camp shall ye put them; that they defile not their camps, in the midst whereof I dwell.”  

Statute 69 Summary:
(69) The priests of Yahweh are first to be sanctified in order to fill this role. Then they are set apart for holy use. (See Revelation 5:10).

Leviticus 21:8  “Thou shalt sanctify him (the priest of Yahweh) therefore; for he offereth the bread of thy God: he shall be holy unto thee: for I Yahweh, which sanctify you, am holy.”  

Statute 70 Summary:
(70) The priests of Yahweh are to be spiritually clothed in special garments for glory and beauty (see Ezekiel 16:14 and Ephesians 6:11-18).

Exodus 28:2-4, 40 “And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother for glory and for beauty. And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they may make Aaron's garments to consecrate him, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office.  And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest's office… And for Aaron's sons thou shalt make coats, and thou shalt make for them girdles, and bonnets shalt thou make for them, for glory and for beauty.”

Statute 71-72 Summary:
(71) Yahweh’s people are to never practice fortunetelling, nor have anything to do with magic. (72) Yahweh’s people are to never eat anything with the blood.

Leviticus 19:26 “Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood: neither shall ye use enchantment, nor observe times.”

Statute 73-78 Summary:
(73Yahweh’s people are to belong to Him wholly and completely, without any divided or competing affections. This is what it means to be perfect with Yahweh. (74) Godly parents are never to alienate their children, transitioning them in crossing over to the devil. (75) Yahweh’s people are to not consult sorcerers, nor practice sorcery. (76) Yahweh’s people are not to practice magic, nor consort with magicians. (77) Yahweh’s people are not to practice witchcraft, nor consult witches. (78) Yahweh’s people are not to consult with demon spirits, nor consort with those who do so.

Deuteronomy 18:10-13 “There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto Yahweh: and because of these abominations Yahweh thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with Yahweh thy God.”

Statutes 79-80 Summary:

Yahweh’s people are to dress in a way that clearly reveals their gender. (79) Men are not to dress like women. (80) Women are not to dress like men.

Deuteronomy 22:5 “The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment: for all that do so are abomination unto Yahweh thy God.” 

Daily Bible Reading - January 24, 2018

Today's Reading:

Luke 18:18-43

Genesis 31

Psalm 24

Listen to the Bible








Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

For today, I'd like to share some of my personal Bible study on Luke 18:25:

"For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God." 

What a strange picture comes to mind at first reading this verse. A camel going through the eye of a needle! What is this?

Mark mentions this amazing statement of Christ as well:
"And Jesus (Yahshua) looked round about, and saith unto His disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the Kingdom of God!  …Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the Kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of God.”
The word "hardly" in the above verse means that it is "impossible" and "unattainable"! And this makes sense from the strange analogy. For it is certainly impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. 

Yet this may not be what Messiah actually said. It may be a misunderstanding - a mis-translation. In the Aramaic Translation of Mark 10:25 the word "camel" appears as "rope" instead. The verse in the Aramaic-English Translation reads:
“…It is easier for a rope to enter through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Elohim.”
Certainly a rope makes a bit more sense, to me anyway. But, whether it is a camel or a rope, it is impossible to pass either through the eye of a needle. What makes it impossible to enter the Kingdom of God? The passage goes on to say that if we "trust in riches" the Kingdom of God will be unattainable. "Trust in riches" means to "rely upon something which is needed". What is needed? This encompasses much more than money alone. It encompasses all of our "needful things".

But while it is impossible to pass a whole rope through a needle's eye, if one were to fully unravel the whole rope, leaving only a single strand of it, that single strand could be passed through the needle's eye. And that is what God is in the process of doing in each of our lives.
He gradually strips away from us, in trials and by design, that which we rely upon (other than Him).  For He knows that if we rely on anything other than Him alone, we cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

To demonstrate this process, consider how God dealt with the Children of Israel in the Wilderness. Each camp-lesson or test was specifically designed to challenge their "needful things". God did this to encourage them to depend fully upon Him and no one else. Notably, Scripture also tells us that Israel's Wilderness experiences were recorded as examples for us living now.
1 Corinthians 10:1-11 “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea… But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted… Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”

Throughout the many tests that the Children of Israel faced, their "needful things" and earthly dependencies were removed one by one. This is the process of circumcising the heart, removing all competing affections, until at last God reigns supreme within our hearts.
Deuteronomy 30:6  "And the LORD (Yahweh) thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD (Yahweh) thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live."  
What idolatrous "needful things", did Christ indicate would make it impossible for us to enter into the Kingdom of God?

Abraham Maslow, father of Psychology, developed a Hierarchy of Human Needs, portrayed in this pyramid.  To the carnal heart, each area represented in this pyramid is a "needful thing". Maslow taught that if a person went through life with every "need" met in this pyramid, that the person would ultimately become a fully mature, self-actualized adult.

The bottom rung of the hierarchy is the area of our physiological needs. We need air, water, food, and rest to survive. To help the Children of Israel to not rely on these things, nor make a god of their bellies, He purposely brought them into places where they had no food or water. These were opportunities to trust in God. God wants His people to know that we don't rely on temporal bread.
Deuteronomy 8:3 "And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the Mouth of the LORD (Yahweh) doth man live." 
Next comes the purple area of the pyramid representing our need for safety and security. We need employment, physical safety, and security of property and family. God challenges this "needful" area also. For the Children of Israel, there were armies to face - giants even. And they wandered in the Wilderness, without a place to call home. To them then, and to us today, God is calling His people to surrender in full submission to Him. Whether we live or die, we will be faithful to Him. Even the "needful" area of our safety must be committed to God's Care.
Matthew 10:33-34  "But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in Heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." 

Luke 9:23-25  "And He said to them all, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for MSake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?"
The next pyramid rung is our need for love and the need to belong. This is our need to be loved and accepted by our family, friends and society. Here the "needful things" of love and acceptance from our families need to be surrendered on the altar. Nothing must be of more value in our eyes than our love for God.

This "needful thing" may be challenged in your life when you learn another level of God's Will from His Word. Perhaps, as you endeavor to align your life with God's Will in this previously unknown area, you will step out of favor with your loved ones. Perhaps they will resist youYoung people have been disowned by their parents for accepting Christ as their Saviour. The message is clear: "Return to our way of thinking and you'll be restored to your family". But, when pleasing one's family involves displeasing our Heavenly Father, love and loyalty for Him must always win:
Matthew 10:35-37  "For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.  And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me."  
Next comes the rung of self-esteem. We have a need to be respected and appreciated by others.  This area too will be removed, so that we will choose God first in every area.
Matthew 10:22  "And ye shall be hated of all men for MName's Sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." 
Why does God remove the "needful things" from us like this? Does He like making us uncomfortable? No. Rather God knows that we cannot enter into His Kingdom with all this baggage of competing affections.  Did you notice the top of Maslow's pyramid? What is enthroned at the top, if indeed every "needful thing" is provided, unchallenged? Self! Self is on the throne of the "self-actualized" human being. 

Thus, what psychology says one must have in order to be fully mature is exactly the opposite of what God says we must have to be fully mature - spiritually. In fact, if God never challenged these "needful things" in our lives, our reliance would not be upon God, but upon self! In such a state, bringing us into the Kingdom of God is impossible - like trying to thread a rope through the eye of a needle

God is working to bring each of us to the point of total surrender. And so, strand-by-strand, God unravels the "rope" of all idolatry in our lives. He continues this uncomfortable, but necessary work, because He wants us to be in His Kingdom. But before we can physically enter His Kingdom, His Kingdom must spiritually reign in our souls.

So, as our loving and wise God circumcises our hearts, more and more day-by-day, let us trustingly say with John the baptist, "I must decrease, that He might increase."