Thursday, October 29, 2020

The fruit, the woman, and us

Shalom to all, here is our study for Beresheit chapters 3 and 4. 

You may eat fruit from all of the other trees in the garden, just not this one.

Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Yehovah Elohim had made. And he said to the woman, has Elohim said, Do not eat of every tree of the garden?(Gen 3:1)

 Tactics of the adversary

 The adversary then, and now, comes to us and often exaggerates what Elohim has instructed us to do and not do. He also makes it sound oppressive. The serpent didn’t say, “Did Elohim say you could eat of all of the trees, except one?” He didn’t put his question in terms of the bounty Chava was allowed to partake of. No, he made it sound as though being prohibited from eating from that one tree, out of all the other trees, was such a burden.

 He still uses the same tactic today.

 Consider the Shabbat. He instructs us to work for six days and do all our labors, and then the seventh we are to rest from our labors and work, and not cause others to work. What does the adversary say? “What a burden it is to not be able to work on Saturdays! How can Elohim expect you to not work, go shopping, or cause others to work one whole day of the week? There is no way anybody could do that.”

 Or consider the clean food instructions. Father says we can eat meat from any clean animal, and all fruits and vegetables. But how does the adversary present the issue to us? “How can Elohim put such a burden on you that you can’t eat pork, or shellfish, or snakes, rats, and bats? You are so deprived! Why should Elohim have the nerve to tell you not to eat such delicacies?”

 Elohim can make the rules

 When we think about it simply, Elohim created all things, He has the right and responsibility to instruct us how we should live, He loves us, and wants what is best for us. If we love Him, we accept His instructions and do our best to live by them from our hearts out of love for Him and love for our neighbor, with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength.

 The adversary doesn’t stop once he has our attention and has lied to us.

 His next step is to get us to see his temptation, really see it in a manner that entices us.

 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, (sakal - prudent, circumspect, insight, comprehend, notice wisdom is not among the meanings of this Hebrew word) she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.(Gen 3:6)

   “Seeing” the adversary’s way

 Chava had probably seen the fruit on the tree many times, but Elohim said don’t eat it, and she saw it as you or I might see a tree at the side of the road as we drive by. After we have driven by the same tree a few times, we no longer even consciously notice it. But the adversary put a big orange sign on the tree. He made Chava see it as food, even though it was not, he made her see it as delightful instead of just like all the other trees, and he made her see it as desirable rather than detestable.

 To guard and cherish

How many things today have taken on the façade of good, delightful, and desirable? Not to you perhaps, but to the indoctrinated masses who flock into the streets leaving destruction in their wake out of a sense of “good” or “justice"? Part of Adam’s charge was to guard the garden. Our charge is to guard the words of Yehovah. Another sense of guard is to cherish because of their value and because it is our Father in Heaven who has given them to us. It goes back to love. Do we love our Father enough to cherish and obey His instructions?

 May we always love Elohim enough to keep His commandments, not out of duty, but out of returning His love that was so great He sent His only begotten Son. Shalom and blessings.

 October 31 we will study Beresheit Ch. 5-6, Jeremiah Ch. 2,  Matthew 5-7 I pray you will join us.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Torah Insights Genesis 1 &2

 Compulsion or Love?

Torah insights

Genesis 1:1 – 2:25

During our study last week, Susan said something that resonated deeply with me. She said that she keeps Yehovah’s commandments because she loves Him so much and He has done so many wonderful things for her that she didn’t want to ever hurt Him by disobeying Him.

 Many people grow up without a good father in the home. As a result, they sometimes can’t fathom the goodness, mercy, and beauty of Elohim. But He is not a man that He should lie, or change, or abuse His children. He is good, and He loves us so much He sent His only begotten Son.

 As we read the Torah, we learn about Elohim, and as we learn about Him, we have the opportunity to draw closer to Him. After all, the way we become friends is by spending time with each other and sharing our lives, hopes, fears, joy, and pain with each other.

 In the first two chapters of Genesis, we learn that He made all of the creation in such a way it is a balanced system and put humans in charge of the whole creation. We are not to abuse creation, but guard it, and work it, and care for it. We also learn that humans are different, more special to Elohim than any of the rest of creation.

 In Genesis, Elohim provides food for us, in parallel, Yeshua told us to feed the hungry. When Adam and Chava discovered they were naked, Elohim clothed them, so Yeshua told us to clothe the poor. Many of Yeshua’s teachings can be traced back to the book of Genesis.

 We learn that Elohim instituted the Sabbath at the creation, blessed it, and made it holy. Later in the Torah, Elohim expands on the requirements of the Sabbath commandment,


Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall you labor, and do all your work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of Yehovah your Elohim: in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates: For in six days Yehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore Yehovah blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.(Exo 20:8-11)

 We don’t use the word hallowed much today, according to the 1828 Webster dictionary, it means, “To make holy; to consecrate; to set apart for holy or religious use.” So Elohim tells us that He made the Sabbath holy, and tells us that we are to keep it holy. If you recall, holy means set apart. What do we set the Sabbath apart from? The other six days that we are commanded to labor and do all our work.

 The Sabbath commandment in Exodus mirrors what we were told in Genesis, where we are provided the very definition of shabbat, rest.

 And on the seventh (sheve’e) day Elohim ended his work which he had made; and he rested (shabbat) on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed (baruch) the seventh (sheve’e) day, and sanctified (kodesh) it: because that in it he had rested (shabbat) from all his work which God created and made."
(Gen 2:2-3)

 Elohim wants us to obey Him, not out of rote, or compulsion, but because we love Him and love our neighbors. Susan has it right in acknowledging that she obeys His instructions because she doesn’t want to ever hurt Him by disobeying Him

 It is my prayer that this finds you safe, healthy, blessed by Elohim, and with shalom beyond measure.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Portion Ki Tavo, Deuteronomy 26:1-29:9

 Who wouldn’t want that?


“And it will be, if you shall listen carefully to the voice of Yehovah your El, to guard and to do all His commandments which I command you today, Yehovah your El will set you on high above all nations of the earth.” (Deu 28:1)


It’s a simple instruction; listen to what Elohim instructs us to do, guard His instructions, and actually do what He tells us to do, and an entire list of blessings will follow.


“You shall be blessed in the city, and be blessed in the field. The fruit of your body shall be blessed, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your cows, and the flocks of your sheep. Your basket and your store shall be blessed. You shall be blessed when you come in, and blessed when you go out. Yehovah shall cause your enemies that rise up against you to be stricken before your face. They shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways. Yehovah shall command the blessing on you in your storehouses, and all that you set your hand to. And He shall bless you in the land which Yehovah your El gives you. Yehovah shall establish you a holy people to Himself, as He has sworn to you, if you shall keep the commandments of Yehovah your El and walk in His ways. And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of Yehovah, and they shall be afraid of you. And Yehovah shall prosper you in goods, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which Yehovah swore to your fathers to give you. Yehovah shall open to you His good treasure, the heaven to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. And you shall loan to many nations, and you shall not borrow.” (Deu 28:3-12)


Who wouldn’t want those blessings?


The first criteria is listen carefully, shema, to what Elohim says. This isn’t the, in one ear and out the other, kind of listening. It’s the kind where dad sits you down and says “LISTEN to me!” It’s the kind where if you “listen” and then don’t do what he tells you to do, you didn’t really listen in the first place, you might have heard, but you didn’t listen.


The second criteria is to guard, shomer, the instructions. Notice the root of both shema and shomer are a shin and a mem. In Hebrew, when words have common roots, they have common meanings. To guard the instructions means to keep them from being changed by adding to them or subtracting from them, and from changing their original intent. One example is changing “You shall not incline after the majority to do evil,” to “You shall incline after the majority,” which the rabbis did change.


The third criteria is to do, asah, His instructions. This means to actually do what we are told to do. If Elohim says “Keep the Sabbath Day holy,” that’s what he wants us to do. He doesn’t expect us to make up loopholes so we can do what we want on the day He has set apart. We learn in the Torah and the Prophets some of what not to do, buy and sell, work, engage in commerce.


Unfortunately, looking at history, too many people who claim to follow the God of the Bible ignore many of His instructions so they can live their lives the way they want to live them. As committed followers of the LORD of Hosts, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Yeshua, our calling is to love Him with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength, and that includes doing what He says, the way He says to do it, and finding joy in doing so. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Torah portion Korach for June 27, 2020

May this find you rejoicing in the day Yehovah has made. This week’s portion is Korach, but I am going to go to our haftarah for this week’s insight because it contains one of the greatest messages of hope in the TaNaKh.

The Children of Israel have rebelled time and again by the time of Samuel. They have gone astray after false gods and have turned away from their Elohim, the El of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They have committed spiritual adultery, they have served Baalim and Ashtaroth, they have done just what Yehovah instructed them not to do, committed all the abominations of the former inhabitants of Canaan.

As a final insult,
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,  And said to him, Behold, you are old, and your sons don’t walk in your ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto Yehovah. And Yehovah said to Samuel, Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say unto you: for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. (1Sa 8:4-7)
Samuel anoints Saul king

If you have ever felt that Elohim has rejected you, or that you have done something, or many things, that disqualify you from being His, and from coming back to Him, you are not alone. The Children of Israel in the days of Samuel are right there with you

Even after all their sin, the most grievous sins humans can commit, the people repent (somewhat, at least about their most recent affront to Yehovah) and go to Samuel.

And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for your servants to Yehovah your Elohim, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king. And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: you have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following Yehovah, but serve Yehovah with all your heart; And turn not aside: for then should you go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For Yehovah will not forsake His people for His great name's sake: because it has pleased Yehovah to make you His people. (1Sa 12:19-22)

Yeshua said, “Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith they shall blaspheme: But he that shall blaspheme against the Ruach haKodesh hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: (Mar 3:28-29)

Lest you think you have committed that blasphemy against the Ruach haKodesh, keep in mind that even Peter denied Yeshua three times and gained forgiveness. Wherever you have come from, heed Samuel’s advice, “Serve Yehovah with all your heart; and turn not aside.”

Shalom and blessing in Messiah Yeshua’s name
Yochan ben Yaakov

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Torah Portion Shelach June 20, 2020

Standing at the entrance

In this week’s Torah portion, we travel with Israel to the very entrance of the Promised Land, but they rebel and lose the opportunity to enter.

And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.  (2)  And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said to them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would Elohim we had died in this wilderness!  (3)  And why has Yehovah brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? Were it not better for us to return into Egypt?  (4)  And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return to Egypt. (Num 14:1-4)

So much happens before and after this point of rebellion that is applicable to us, but I want to focus on these few verses and their message to us.

 Why did the children of Israel weep that night?

It would be one thing if they wept because they reached the Land, and thought they might fail to conquer it because of giants and walled cities. I don’t see that sentiment here. The congregation turns away from Elohim, again. Look what they say, “Let us make a captain, and let us return to Egypt.

The rabbis say that though the text here in the KJV reads “captain”, the underlying intention was to make another god, like the golden calf, to lead them back to Egypt. Either way, they are turning their backs to Elohim. The Hebrew word behind return is shoov the root word of repentance, teshuva. While teshuva is turning from sin and error to Elohim, here the kahal, congregation, plans to turn from Elohim, and back to Egypt with its idolatry, slavery, and sin.

 It is a rebellion against Moses and Aaron, but also against Elohim.

Followers of Yeshua have had it easy in America for generations. Just as the children of Israel. Need water, here it is. Need food, have some manna, all you have to do is collect it, it will be there every morning. Don’t worry about which way to go, Elohim will guide you with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. Need a spiritual uplift, go to church; the pastor, the worship team, and your fellow worshippers will give you a boost. Need direction, no problem, there are plenty of traditions of men to follow that lay out a clear, though ungodly, path. Need spiritual nourishment, don’t worry about the Bible, go to church and get spoon-fed man’s doctrine.

New Challenges

Today we face new challenges in America. The last word I heard is that the church building may be closed until Labor Day in September. The world is calling good evil, and evil good. We are targeted as part of the problem. What now? Do we respond as Israel did and want to hightail it back to Egypt, or do we take this challenging time as an opportunity to rely more completely on our Elohim?

I say we draw closer to Elohim, seek His direction more earnestly, and follow what He directs us to do. I pray each of you agree it is time to come out of Babylon and enter into ever deeper fellowship with our Father in Heaven.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Torah portion Nasso for June 6, 2020

We have celebrated Shavuot, and are now wending our way toward the fall feasts. We enter a time when there are no moedim for the rest of summer. Our Torah portion this week is Nasso, take and refers to Bamidbar, Numbers 4:22, “Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon...”

Yehovah gives us one of the few revealed prayers in portion Nasso, the Aaronic benediction.

And Yehovah spoke to Moses, saying,  (23)  Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, In this way you shall bless the sons of Israel, saying to them:  (24)  Yehovah bless you and keep you;  (25)  Yehovah cause His face to shine on you, and be gracious to you;  (26)  Yehovah lift up His face to you, and give you peace.  (27)  So they shall put My name on the sons of Israel, and I Myself will bless them. (Num 6:22-27)

Of particular note is the structure and meaning of verse 27. Here it is in Hebrew,

  ושׂמו את־שׁמי על־בני ישׂראל ואני אברכם
The highlighted words translate as my name. The root word for name is שֵׁם, shem. The addition of the small letter, the yod, at the end of shem changes it from ‘name’ to ‘my name’. Remember, we read Hebrew from right to left, so in front of ‘my name’ is an aleph tav.

When we see the aleph tav, we look for shadows of the Messiah because He said in Yochan’s, John’s, Revelation that He is the Aleph and the Tav.

Yochan also wrote, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, the Son of Elohim; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (Joh 20:31)

Yeshua said, “I have come in the name of My Father, and you do not receive Me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive that one.” (Joh 5:43), and further, “I and the Father are One!” (Joh 10:30)

Saying that He came in the name of His Father means much more than just a moniker, it entails the authority, character, and power behind that name. In the Aaronic benediction, Yehovah told Moses. “They shall put My name on the sons (children) of Israel.” When His name is put onto us, we have both the opportunity to receive a portion of the power and authority to act in His name, but also the responsibility to not take His name in vain.

We become representatives of the Most High Elohim, and carry His name wherever we go and in whatever we do. It is a heavy (in Hebrew, Kavod, holy) responsibility we have been given, but He has also given us His Ruach haKodesh, the Spirit of the Holy One to help us. With His Spirit, we can overcome the world, without it, we are left on our own and subject to the weaknesses of the flesh.

May we always work to stay close to Him and pray as David prayed, “Do not cast me out from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. (Psa 51:11)

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Torah Portion Shavuot

Pentecost, or as it is known biblically, the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot is one of the appointed times (moedim) of Yehovah, it is also one of the pilgrimage moedim. The book of Acts describes that there were Jews from all over the world in Jerusalem,

And suddenly a sound came out of the heaven, as being borne along by a violent wind! And it filled all the house where they were sitting.  (3)  And tongues as of fire appeared to them, being distributed, and it sat on each one of them. Act 2:2-3 

What were they all doing in Jerusalem?

Why were all these Jews from all over the world in Jerusalem on Pentecost? Because at that time, it was Shavuot, a pilgrimage moed, and they were obeying the instruction to go to Jerusalem.

Divorce and reconciliation

Most people today have divorced the biblical moed of Shavuot from the Pentecost occurrences in the Apostolic Writings, but when we reconcile them, we see a beautiful picture of our Elohim who doesn’t change. We learn that what happened in the time of Peter was not new, but a return to what had happened before. That is why the Jews knew it was a sign from Elohim. Here is what Jewish tradition in the Midrash says about the giving of the Torah at Sinai.

"On the occasion of the giving of the Torah, the Children of Israel not only heard the LORD’s Voice, but actually saw the sound waves as they emerged from the LORD’s mouth. They visualized them as a fiery substance. Each commandment that left the LORD’s mouth traveled around the entire camp and then came back to every Jew individually." Weissman, Moshe, The Midrash Says.

"And all the people witnessed the thunderings" (Exodus 20:15). Note that it does not say "the thunder," but "the thunderings"; wherefore R. Johanan said that God’s voice, as it was uttered, split up into seventy voices, in seventy languages, so that all the nations should understand.” Shemot Midrash Rabbah 5:9

The letter and the Spirit

Between the two occurrences, Sinai (the giving of the Torah) and Jerusalem (the Spirit poured out on all flesh); we see the fulfillment of the giving of the letter and the spirit of the Torah. We also see the correction of the error of Israel.

At Peter’s time, Israel had adopted the erroneous belief that only those born Israelites could participate in the covenant with Elohim. That idea persists today within Judaism. The opposite persists in Christianity in the idea that “the church” has inherited the blessings and “the Jews” are left with the curses. Both sides have left the Torah teaching.

Where much is given much is expected

The Torah is clear that those who have the Torah and the covenant are to be a light to others around them who do not. They are to move the unbeliever to jealousy and a desire to come into covenant and begin to obey Father’s instructions. The Torah contains the instructions that the Creator of all things gave to humans on how we are supposed to live.

Those who have the instructions are supposed to share with those who don’t, and we are all supposed to encourage each other to obey out of love for Elohim, and love for our neighbor. For on these two commandments hang all the Torah and the Prophets.