Sunday, February 4, 2018

Torah Portion - February 4, 2018

Today's Torah Reading: Gen. 25:19-34

Love for Yahweh - first and Supreme

Today we are continuing our study of the Statutes which relate to the first Commandment of having no other gods before Yahweh

Today, we will look at the third set of Statutes under the first Commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me," (Exodus 20:1-3). The third set of Statutes, under the first Commandment, are about the priests. Specifically, the priests are to lead others in the worship of Yahweh by example, by instruction, and by provision. Let us take a look at the Statutes in this subcategory.

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."
In Leviticus 6:10-11, we find specific instructions for the priests regarding the sacrifices. Now, of course the sacrificial system is no longer to be carried out in a physical way (Hebrews 10). But the spiritual lessons still do have an application for us now. First, we are all called to be priests and kings, in our Father's service (Revelation 5:10). So, this Statute applies to every saved child of Yahweh.  In our Father's service, we are to remember that He is holy. We are instructed, as His priests, to wear the white linen, which represents the righteousness of Christ which clothes His repentant saints (Revelation 19:8; Job 29:14). 

We must, at all times, be clothed in the "white linen" of Messiah's righteousness. For if a priest (which we all are) tries to serve Yahweh without the priestly garment, it is idolatry - self is on the heart-thrown instead of Yahweh. And all of our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

But now comes the strange part...  In tending the Altar of Burnt Sacrifice, the priest would remove the ashes and stoke the altar fire in the morning. During this service in the Sanctuary, the priest was to wear the typical outfit of white linen garments. We are told he has to remove the ashes from the burnt offering and neatly pile them up besides the Brazen Altar.

However, we are next told that BEFORE transporting the ash heap to another location designated as a “clean place”, the priest was to change into another set of garments - common clothing. Why was it necessary for the priest to have to change his clothing?
It might be simple to assume that it was to prevent the ashes from dirtying the priestly garments. But that wasn't the main reason. The main reason has to do with the fact that he was carrying the ashes: OUTSIDE THE CAMP.
During the days of the Wilderness Tabernacle, “outside the camp”referred to an area beyond where all the hundreds of thousands of tents of Israel resided.
The tents were set up around the Tabernacle.
So the priest was to wear his official priestly garments only INSIDE the camp of Israel. If he went OUTSIDE the camp, his garments would be defiled.
There is a profound spiritual lesson here. First, in ancient Israel, a priest had a good reason to go outside the camp. Yahweh had instructed them to remove the ash in this manner. But, to insure that there was no confusion in the spiritual lesson, the change of clothes was demonstrated. 

Is the spiritual lesson in this Statute teaching that we can leave the way of righteousness, sometimes...  Can we stray out into the common-carnal path, laying off Christ's righteous robe and putting on our own "filthy rags" for a short jaunt? Can we then return and redress in the righteous white linens after we have completed our spiritual sowing of the oats, so-to-speak? Of course not! This Statute does not sanction "vacations" from righteousness.
Yahweh wants His priests (His people) to know that we are to remain INSIDE THE CAMP at all times. We are never to remove Christ's righteousness and go it on our own. But this Statute does contain a spiritual warning: if - after we have been set aside for holy use in the priesthood - we then choose to leave the Will and Way of Yahweh, to venture into the "common" (carnal) realm, we need to know that the righteousness of Christ no longer clothes us. His righteousness will not cover us when we depart from the Body of Christ, which is symbolized by being INSIDE THE CAMP.
Leviticus 21:17-23 - (See also Leviticus 22:3-4)
"Speak unto Aaron, saying, Whosoever he be of thy seed in their generations that hath any blemish, let him not approach to offer the bread of his GodFor whatsoever man he be that hath a blemish, he shall not approach: a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose, or any thing superfluous, Or a man that is broken-footed, or broken-handed, Or crook-backed, or a dwarf, or that hath a blemish in his eye, or be scurvy, or scabbed, or hath his stones broken; No man that hath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of Yahweh made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God. He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy. Only he shall not go in unto the veil, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not My Sanctuaries: for I Yahweh do sanctify them." 

A priest of Yahweh is a representative of the Saviour. As such, he was to be physically without blemishes. This is because Messiah, the Lamb of God, was without blemish (1 Peter 1:18-19). How does this apply to us today? A blemish represented sin, a weakness, an area of spiritual failing. We are called to be washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb. Being called into the Father's Service involves representing Christ. This is no small calling! Frankly none of us is up to the job on our own. 

But we are to be forgiven and cleansed rather than going through the motions of serving God while having skeleton in our soul closet. In other words, we must not have an active, unconfessed area of sin in our lives. For example, we cannot serve Yahweh while carrying on an extra-marital affair. But, by ignoring this Statute principle, many a religious leader has carried on preaching the sermons on the weekend, while having an affair, or some other unconfessed area of moral weakness.

Open sin is often ignored in the church today. But this is a form of idolatry. Carrying on unconfessed areas of active sin is serving in the Sanctuary "broken-handed", or "crook-backed", in a spiritual sense. Those who belong to Yahweh are to confess our sins (1 John 1:9), turn away from them, and be made spiritually whole. A priest (follower of Yahweh) who has chosen not to be made whole in Messiah is not only failing to represent Christ, he/she is also forming an idolatrous precedent. By the unholy example, this blemished priest can lead others into an unholy life. And this is not Yahweh's Will for His followers, nor for His church:
Ephesians 5:25-27 "...Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it. That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word. That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
There are more Statutes to examine in this sub-set, but we will wait for tomorrow to continue. For now, the Statutes about the Priests leading in worship comes against having other gods by calling God's people to a higher understanding of holiness. We keep Yahweh first, by living and leading others into the Way of Righteousness - by the Grace of Yahweh.

This Week's Torah Studies: (Statutes 121-140)
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 121-140, which are summarized below. Happy studying!

Statute 121-123 Summary:
(#121) We are to keep the first day of Unleavened Bread as a rehearsal. (#122) We are to hold a holy convocation on it. (#123) We are not to do any servile work on the first day (Sabbath) of Unleavened Bread.

Numbers 28:17-18 “And in the fifteenth day of this month is the feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. In the first day shall be an holy convocation; ye shall do no manner of servile work therein.” 
Statute 124 Summary:
Unleavened Bread is a feast of Judgment. We find this because if the leaven of sin (leaven is an agent, good or bad, so powerful that it leavens the whole lump of dough) is not removed from our lives and homes, we will be cut off from the Abrahamic Covenant. The true “Spring Cleaning” is (#124) removing all spiritual and physical leaven from our lives and homes in preparation for this special week. This is what we are commanded to do.

Exodus 12:15 “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.”  

Statute 125-128 Summary:
(#125) During the Feast of Unleavened Bread, we are commanded to eat unleavened bread every day for the full seven days. (#126) There is to be no leaven seen in all in any part of our property or possessions. (#127) Children are to be taught that the reason we keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread is to commemorate deliverance from physical Egypt and continue the work of deliverance from spiritual Egypt. (#128) Keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread is part of the sign that we are preparing for the Sealing of Yahweh. (Rev. 7:3 and Rev. 14:9)

Exodus 13:6-9 “Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the Yahweh. Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters. And thou shalt show thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which Yahweh did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that Yahweh's Law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath Yahweh brought thee out of Egypt.”  

Statute 129-131 Summary:
(#129) The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a Day of rest (Sabbath) and a holy Convocation day. (#130) The last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a Day of rest (Sabbath) and a holy Convocation day. (#131) On these two days of Unleavened Bread, no work is to be done, with one exception: cooking and preparing food is allowed.

Exodus 12:16 “And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.”  

Statute 132-134 Summary:
(#132) On the feast of First Fruits, which is the Sunday (morrow after the Sabbath) during Unleavened Bread, Yahweh’s people are to present the first fruits of the harvest unto Yahweh. The grain of first fruits represents Yahshua (1 Corinthians 15:20) and the 144,000 – first fruits of the final grain harvest (Revelation 14:4). The sheaf of firstfruits is a measurement of grain, representing judgment. (#133) We are to be prepared for first fruits judgment through the Blood of the Lamb and having been made an acceptable living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1). (#134) During the day of First Fruits, we are to wait to eat food, until after we have brought the sacrifice.

Leviticus 23:10-14 “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto Yahweh.  And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto Yahweh for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”

Statute 135-140 Summary:
(#135) To calculate the timing for the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), count from First Fruits. (#136) Count seven Seventh-day Sabbaths. (#137) The day after the seventh Sabbath (Sunday) is fifty days, numbered from First Fruits. (#138) This day is holy convocation day, a Sabbath. It is the Feast of Weeks. (#139) On this day, we are to claim the Blood of Yahshua by claiming His Sacrifice for our sins. (#140) We are also to wave to leavened loaves (we get unleavened with the sin of the world during these 50 days, and re-leavened with the Kingdom) representing the two candlesticks (churches) of Philadelphia (144,000) and Smyrna (end-time martyrs), both of which are filled with the Holy Spirit at the final Pentecost.

Leviticus 23:15-21 “And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto Yahweh. Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto Yahweh.  And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto Yahweh, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto Yahweh. Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.  And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before Yahweh with the two lambs: they shall be holy to Yahweh for the priest. And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.”

Daily Bible Reading - February 4, 2018

Today's Reading:

Luke 24:13-53

Genesis 44

Psalm 35

Listen to the Bible








Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

From today's reading, I'd like to share another principle from the amazing story of Joseph - the concept of vengeance vs. forgiveness. Back in Genesis Chapter 37, we read of deplorable way Joseph's brothers treated him. It was beyond imagination! 

Joseph's father asked him to take some provisions and journey to find his brothers, who were tending the family flocks far from home. When the boy obeyed and finally found his brothers, they saw him coming from a distance and plotted to kill him!

When the unsuspecting Joseph reached his brothers, they roughed him up and threw him in a pit. Then they heartlessly ignored his pitiful cries for help and sat down and devoured the provisions Joseph had lovingly brought to them!

Joseph's oldest brother, Reuben, didn't want them to kill the boy. And it was only because Reuben interceded for Joseph that the other brothers didn't kill him outright. But Reuben wasn't strong enough to finish the rescue.  For a reason unexplained in Scripture, Reuben left the scene for a time, with Joseph still down in the pit. Reuben secretly had planned to remove Joseph from the pit and return him home in safety, but Reuben failed to follow through.

While Reuben was away, Judah and Joseph's other older brothers sat around and ate lunch, ignoring Joseph's plaintive cries from the pit. What a horrible situation! What horrible big brothers! What a betrayal! Suddenly, Judah catches sight of a Midianite caravan in the distance. He got a dark idea. 

"Why just kill him when we can't even profit from it? Let's sell him as a slave! He'll never be back, so he'll be completely out of our lives. And we'll make some money on him."

It was agreed. When Joseph saw the rope being lowered into the pit, hope must have sprung in his heart for a moment. But it would have been quickly dashed in pieces as his beautiful coat was stripped from him, his hands were bound, and Joseph's own brothers counted out the gold they'd earned by selling him - as a slave.  

At seventeen, and through no fault of his own, Joseph's life was shattered. His bright future appears snatched awayA more terrifying or painful situation than this would be hard to imagine.

When Reuben returned, some time later, he tore his clothes in guilt and grief to find Joseph was gone. He thought they'd killed him. But when Reuben found out what had really been done, rather than tell his father the truth, or do anything to mount a rescue, Reuben joined in the terrible coverup. They killed a sheep, dipped Joseph's torn coat in its blood, and carried it to their father with a terrible story!

If ever there was a bunch of men who deserved retribution it was Joseph's heartless brothers! Now, the story fast-forwards to where we are reading today...  Joseph was second in command in all of Egypt. Having the friendship and trust of Pharaoh himself, Joseph could issue laws, make commands, and write his own ticket.  He could command for someone to be thrown into the dungeon - even killed. There were no limits to what he had the power to do to his brothers as payback for their cruelty.

They stood before him and didn't recognize him at all. Yes, Joseph had changed. He looked Egyptian. But there was more to it than that. The brothers were also blinded by their own expectations. The seventeen year old boy, whom they had sold into slavery was the very last person they expected to see as the Grand Vizier of all Egypt!

But Joseph recognized them immediately. As they stood before him, what must have gone through his mindThese men deserved retribution! Did Joseph consider revenge - even for a moment? No! The Bible story makes it plain that Joseph tested his brothers - not to harm them, but to see whether or not they had changed. And they had!

In fact Judah - the very one who wanted to sell Joseph for profit rather than kill him and get nothing out of it - was the one who stepped forward and offered to sacrifice himself in order to save Benjamin!

How differently that meeting would have gone if Joseph hadn't prepared for it in a godly way. Joseph could have wasted all those years in Egypt being bitter and plotting revenge. Had he done so, Egypt wouldn't have been prepared for a famine, Joseph wouldn't have had the character he needed to glorify God and be so greatly blessed, and the likelihood of meeting his father again would have been slim to none. Instead of thinking bitter thoughts, Joseph turned his attention to God.

He knew that Yahweh could have prevented the calamity from befalling him. Therefore, if God allowed it, there must be some good in it! Joseph's soul wasn't poisoned with bitterness. And so, Joseph didn't seek vengeance. This is similar to what we see in Christ, as He stood before His unjust tribunal.

Instead of becoming embittered against Pilate, our Saviour recognized that Pilate could do nothing to Him unless Yahweh allowed it. And, of course, Yahweh would only allow it if there were good in it:

Matthew 19:10-11  "Then saith Pilate unto Him, Speakest Thou not unto me? Knowest Thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, and have power to release Thee? Jesus (Yahshua) answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from Above..."
And what about you? Have you been wronged? Have you ever had anyone do something to you which was both cruel and wicked?  

I can honestly say that I have - yet never has it come anywhere close to the level of wrong which was done to Joseph - nor to my dear Saviour! Have I been tempted to become bitter? Yes! I've even fallen into that pit for a time. But, God doesn't want us to go there. In fact, He wants us to go the "second mile" for those who do evil against us.
Matthew 5:38-48 "You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too. If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles. Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow. “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.  If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect."
And as we seek God's Grace to demonstrate love - going the second mile - for our enemies, we find the key to victory over the trial. In my experience, I have found that going the second mile is the key to deliverance from bitterness! We may grudgingly go through the motions of compliance in the "first mile"...  But in the second mile comes the joy of pouring forth Heavenly love on the undeserving. And it is in the second mile that we find opportunity to witness, just as Joseph did with his brothers.

He was able to direct them to God's higher purpose in allowing his slavery. And as he did this, Joseph's brothers were delivered from a burden of guilt which they had been carrying for about two decades! What a wonderful God we serve! His Ways are so much higher than ours - but in His Way is Life, Healing, Good, and Salvation.