Friday, February 16, 2018

Torah Portion - February 16, 2018

Today's Torah Reading: Genesis 31

Love for Yahweh - first and Supreme

Continuing our study of the Statutes which relate to the first Commandment of having no other gods before Yahweh, today we are in the seventh subcategory. This seventh subcategory is about trust: Trust in Yahweh as He Alone is God. As these Statutes show, trust in Yah is a vital part of loving and worshiping Yahweh.

Let us continue our study of the Statutes in this subcategory. In today's study...

Deuteronomy 6:4 - 
"Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God is ONE YAH."

As Christians, we naturally assent that Yahweh is God. But head knowledge is far from heart knowledge. And the fact that we say Yahweh is the only God, doesn't mean we really believe it - or live by it. The reality is that most Christians are polytheistic. We worship many gods, even without meaning to do so.

One of the greatest of all the false gods we may inadvertently serve is FEAR - fear of anything or anyone other than Yahweh. When we are fearful of a circumstance or situation, we have unconsciously come to believe that that circumstance is greater than Yahweh's love and protection over us. Fearing means that we have bought into the lie that our situation is out of God's Hands - or God's ability - or Yahweh's willingness - to intervene. Ultimately, we worship what we fear and we fear what we worship.

This is why, under the Statutes on love for Yahweh, we must address the concept of fear vs. trust. Is Yahweh God? Or isn't He? The reality sinks in when we are faced with a crisis. What do we do in a pinch? Do we run to Yahweh and remain covered under the Shadow of His Wings? Or do we rely on the "arm of flesh"?

Deuteronomy 17:16 - 

"But he shall not multiply horses (get earthly power or trust in earthly protection) to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt (bondage to sin), to the end that he should multiply horses (horses are a Biblical symbol of military power): forasmuch as Yahweh hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. (Don't go back to your old worldly ways.)"

1 John 4:16-17 “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” 

This Week's Torah Studies: (Statutes 141-164)
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 141-164, which are summarized below. Happy studying!

Statute 141-143 Summary:
The Feast of Trumpets is the seventh New Moon (the first day of the 7th Biblical month.) 

(#141) It is a Sabbath of rest. 

(#142) We are to blow trumpets and hold a holy convocation and 

(#143) present ourselves (by Yahweh’s Grace) acceptable living sacrifices (Romans 12:1).

Leviticus 23:24-25 “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation. Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh..”
Statute 144-148 Summary:
The Feast of Trumpets is a Holy Day when specific sacrifices are to be offered. We no longer shed animal blood, as the animal blood all pointed to the Sacrifice of Yahshua (Hebrews 9:8-15). But, we still are to bring the spiritual offering, claiming and acknowledging each aspect of the Saviour’s Sacrifice for our cleansing. 

The bullock showed the tremendous cost of our redemption. (#144) On the Feast of Trumpets, we are to count the cost of sin, and as we do so, sin loses its attractiveness in our eyes. 

The ram offering showed the Saviour’s Role as the Protector and Leader of His Flock. (#145) On Trumpets, we are to prayerfully measure our lives to be certain we are following our Divine Leader. We are to see His cleansing for any time we’ve strayed from His Leadership. 

We are to offer seven lambs. Seven is the number of perfection or completeness. The lamb was an offering which showed the innocence of our Saviour. (#146) On the Feast of Trumpets, we are to claim His offering as our perfect and complete Lamb. In so doing we are made perfect, complete and innocent in Him. 

The goat was offered to show the Saviour’s work to destroy satan’s traits (he’s the goat symbol in Atonement) in us. (#147) On the Feast of Trumpets, we are to seek YAHWEH’s deliverance from every satanic stronghold and any traces of the demonic goat in us. 

(#148) On the Feast of Trumpets, we are also to spiritually offer ourselves as acceptable living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). This is represented in the meat offering and drink offerings. This is our reasonable response of Thanks to our Saviour for all that He has given for our redemption.

Numbers 29:1-6 “And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have an holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you. And ye shall offer a burnt offering for a sweet savour unto Yahweh; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals for a bullock, and two tenth deals for a ram, And one tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: And one kid of the goats for a sin offering, to make an atonement for you: Beside the burnt offering of the month, and his meat offering, and the daily burnt offering, and his meat offering, and their drink offerings, according unto their manner, for a sweet savour, a sacrifice made by fire unto Yahweh.”   

Statute 149-151 Summary:
The Day of Atonement is the Tenth Day of the Seventh Month. 

(#149) It is a holy Convocation (rehearsal - and a day to gather for special worship). 

(#150) Yahweh’s people are to offer spiritual sacrifices (see the Statute Summary on Statutes 144-148 for an explanation of the Sacrifices) on this Holy Day. 

(#151) Yahweh’s people are to afflict their souls on this Day.

Numbers 29:7-11 “And ye shall have on the tenth day of this seventh month an holy convocation; and ye shall afflict your souls: ye shall not do any work therein:  But ye shall offer a burnt offering unto Yahweh for a sweet savour; one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs of the first year; they shall be unto you without blemish: And their meat offering shall be of flour mingled with oil, three tenth deals to a bullock, and two tenth deals to one ram,  A several tenth deal for one lamb, throughout the seven lambs: One kid of the goats for a sin offering; beside the sin offering of atonement, and the continual burnt offering, and the meat offering of it, and their drink offerings.”

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 152-156 Summary:
(#152) Keeping the Day of Atonement is a statute which endures forever. 

(#153) No work of any kind is to be done on this Day. It is a Sabbath of rest. 

(#154) On the Day of Atonement, Yahweh’s people are to be cleansed from all sin before Yahweh. 

(#155) YAHWEH’s anointed, consecrated priests are to officiate in the Atonement service. 

(#156) They are to spiritually wear the white linen, which is the righteousness of Yahshua, in preparation for leading out in these services.

Leviticus 16:29-34 “And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: For on that day shall the priest make an Atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before Yahweh. It shall be a Sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the Atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: And he shall make an Atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an Atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an Atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an Atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as Yahweh commanded Moses.”  

Statute 157-159 Summary:

(#157) We are commanded to keep the Day of Atonement. Keeping the Day of Atonement is a salvational issue. We know this because Yahweh plainly states that any soul who fails to keep this Day will be cut off from the congregation of the Covenant and destroyed. 

We are to keep the Day of Atonement at the time specified. (#158) We are to begin keeping the Day of Atonement begins at sundown on the ninth day of the Seventh month. 

(#159) We are to end our keeping of the Day of Atonement on the evening (at sundown) of the 10th day of the Seventh month.

Leviticus 23:27-32 “Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a Day of Atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh. And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a Day of Atonement, to make an Atonement for you before Yahweh your God. For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.  It shall be unto you a Sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath.”

Statute 160-164 Summary:

(#160) The Feast of Tabernacles is to be kept, starting on the fifteenth day of the Seventh Month. 

(#161) We are to keep the feast for seven days. 

(#162) On the first day of Tabernacles, Yahweh’s people are to keep a holy Sabbath of rest. 

(#163) Throughout the entire feast, Yahweh’s people are to make an offering made by fire – spiritually this represents presenting themselves as acceptable living sacrifices (Rom 12:1), claiming the Blood of Yahshua and seeking the Heavenly Fire, which represents Yahweh’s acceptance. 

#164) The eighth day is not actually part of the Seven-day Feast of Tabernacles, but is next to it. This day is also a Sabbath of rest, during which there is to be no servile work.

Leviticus 23:34-36 “Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days unto Yahweh. On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto Yahweh: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.”  

Daily Bible Reading - February 16, 2018

Today's Reading:

Hebrews 11:23-40

Exodus 15

Proverbs 6:1-7:5

Listen to the Bible








Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:

In Exodus 15, we read about Israel's trial with the bitter water at Marah, followed by their period of rest and sanctuary at Elim. But, for today, I'd really like to focus on Elim, as I find its message very encouraging and I think you might also.

Weary travelers have long found relief from the swirling sands, under the palms of desert oases. An oasis not only offers physical restoration for thirsty wanderers, it also serves as a metaphor of the restful experiences which Yahweh provides for His people. Time and again exhausted saints have been given interludes of relief, even in the midst of trying circumstances. I know I've experienced these much needed respites from our loving God! Haven't you? The encouraging news is that it is a Promise of God that He will not only test His people, bringing them opportunities for character development, but He will also provide us with needed rest - especially when we need it most. 

Matthew 11:28-30  "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My Yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I Am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My Yoke is easy, and My burden is light."   
The beautiful message of Elim is God's Promise to provide spiritual oases amidst deserts of trials. One example of such an experiential oasis took place in Europe, within the last century. Cornwall, England was a land of suffering and sorrow during the second World War. Food became scarce and many imported fruits, like pineapples and bananas, vanished completely from the countryside.  Tired from the trials of war and its deprivations, two small children pleaded with their mother to let them pray and ask Yahshua to send them a banana.

“Couldn’t Jesus (Yahshua) send us one, even though there is a war?” asked little Bob.

“Of course He could,” Mother slowly responded, worrying how she could keep her children’s faith strong if the desired banana didn’t materialize. “But He does not always do exactly what we ask because, well... After all, a banana isn’t a necessity, and Jesus (Yahshua) is sending us all the food we actually need.”

But, in spite of Mother’s cautions, Bob and Lamorna prayed faithfully for a banana. Night after night, week after week, they asked God for the desired fruit. Knowing their prayer, Mother searched the shops near and far. But no bananas were to be found in the land.

Then one day a special package arrived addressed to the children. The mysterious box, sent by their auntie, bore only two words, “Guess what?” Inside the children found a single banana.

“Look, Mamma!” Bob and Lamorna shouted with joy. “ Jesus (Yahshua) sent us a banana.”

But just at that moment, Mother thought she noticed a shadow pass over Lamorna’s young face. “What’s the matter dear?”

“Well, you see Mamma, while we asked Jesus (Yahshua) for a banana, we kind of hoped that He might send us each one.”

“Don’t be so ungrateful!” Mamma admonished quickly pointing out that this one banana might well be the only one left in all of England.

“I’m not ungrateful,” Lamorna assured her mother, “We just hoped, that’s all.”

Mother took the banana and peeled back the skin for the children. To their amazement and even greater joy, inside the skin of what looked like a single banana, there were two separated bananas! It was a twin banana. Yahshua, Who loves to grant us the desires of our hearts (Psalm37:4) had given the children one banana each.

This is the kind of loving and merciful God we serve. He is the One who paints rainbows of promise amid threatening storms. He gives us moments of rest and encouragement in times of trial and hardship.  Such experiential oases are not isolated incidents. Numerous followers of Yahweh have found moments of miraculous refreshment and peace to relieve the bitterness of trial. Angels have visited the persecuted, lighting up their prison cells; banquets have been served to the hungry faithful in deserts of deprivation; and twin bananas have been provided for praying children even in a war-torn land.

Such was the Children of Israel’s experience when they arrived at the lovely oasis of Elim. It was a joyous place of peace and plenty, a spot to recuperate from the difficulties they had gone through. It afforded an opportunity to recharge, strengthening the Israelites to face what still lay ahead.

 Elim,” was the second recorded campsite, after Israel  crossed the Red Sea. The name means “ram, strong, stag.” or "Terebinths, trees," (Exodus 15:27, Numbers 33:9). Some give the meaning of "Elim" as "strength," or "God's strong angels." All agree, however, that Elim was the place of strengthening after the Marah trial.

“Elim… was a joyous place of peace and plenty… enabling the Israelites to face what still lay ahead. 

Israel’s fifth campsite since Egypt, Elim’s numeric order also lends depth to its significance. Five is the number associated with the "Spirit bringing a window of insight."  Certainly, the Children of Israel needed a major lesson in spiritual “sight,” after their failure at Marah.

Elim was a delightful place which offered twelve springs of water and was graced with seventy palm trees.  Remarkably, Elim was only a morning's jaunt from Marah. Yet, the bitterness of Marah was forgotten by the sweetness of Elim

Here they camped for about a month regaining their strength for the journey ahead. In Elim, God had supplied "rest for their souls," just as He continues to do for His Children, (Philippians 4:19). 

Even now this valley of Elim, watered by a perennial stream, has rich pasturage for cattle, and many shrubs and trees. Here, and in the surrounding area, the flocks and herds would find good sustenance, and the people, rest.

Some regions are renowned for rapid weather changes. The locals say, “if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes.” Similarly the circumstantial changes God’s people experience can move from stormy trial to rainbows with head-spinning rapidity.  From crisis to comfort, from suffering to smiles; we read of Israel’s refreshment; and we, too, are encouraged by Elim.

And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore  and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters, Exodus 15:27.

Elim is God's Place of encouragement for His weary children. One of the best illustrations of how God grants us Elim moments is found in the story of the prophet Elijah. The Bible tells us about the amazing victory which God worked through Elijah to accomplish on Mount Carmel. In the aftermath, some 900 leaders of Baal worship were slain and the land of Israel was restored to worshiping God. 

When the wicked queen Jezebel learned what Elijah had done to her Baal prophets, she vowed to kill him. Discouraged, Elijah fled for his life, running about 80 miles southward to Beersheba. There he collapsed under a tree and prayed for God to let him die! 

How dramatically things had changed in the life of this faithful man, who had been so mighty for God just days before. Thankfully, God did not grant Elijah's prayer request-which was unusual. Remember, Elijah was the man who prayed and Fire fell from Heaven to consume his sacrifice on Mount Carmel. Elijah was the prophet who prayed and a three-year-long drought was ended in answer to that prayer. Elijah was the servant of the Most High who ran faster than king Ahab's chariots, leading the king home out of the thunderstorm, under the unction of Yahweh's Spirit. And now, only a few days later, Elijah was the discouraged man who prayed to die - a prayer request which God did not grant. In fact, Elijah is one of the few people who would actually never die (for he was translated without seeing death). (The story is found in 1 Kings 19)

There, under a juniper tree in that desolate area, the exhausted and discouraged Elijah fell asleep. And it was there that God gave the weary man a needed Elim experience. God didn't chide Elijah for becoming exhausted and running away. He didn't criticize him for being discouraged. Instead, we see God tenderly ministering to Elijah's needs through an angel. 

Then as he lay and slept under a juniper tree, suddenly an angel touched him, and said to him, “Arise and eat.” Then he looked, and there by his head was a cake baked on coals, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank, and lay down again. 

And the angel of the Lord came back the second time, and touched him, and said, “Arise and eat, because the journey is too great for you.” So he arose, and ate and drank; and he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb (also known as Mount Sinai), the mountain of God.

What a wonderful God we serve, Who gives us encouragement that we will be strengthened. There are moments of rest amidst the storm. So, just in case you've been going through a difficult trial, I'd like to share some Elim encouragements:
Hebrews 3:13 "But exhort (encourage) one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." 

1 Thessalonians 5:11  "Wherefore comfort yourselves together (encourage one another), and edify one another (build each other up)..."
John 16:33 "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."
Romans 8:35-39 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For Thy Sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,  Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus (Yahshua) our Lord (Master)."