Netzarim, Original followers of Yeshua & His 12
Parashah 48: Shof'tim (Judges) - Deuteronomy 16:18 - 21:9; Haftarah reading: Isaiah 51:12 - 53:12. B'rit Hadasha suggested reading: Matthew 5:38-42; 18:15-20; Acts 3:13-26; 7:35-53; 1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 1 Timothy 5:17-22; Hebrews 10:28-31. (Tanach Scriptures are from Stern's Complete Jewish Bible; B'rit Chadash Scriptures from the AENT.)
Today's lesson: In today's parashah we see YHWH handing down further instructions to His people that still apply to us today, yet are ignored by most. (Remember, ALL who believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are HIS people!) Please read the following very carefully:
Deuteronomy 16: 18 "You are to appoint judges and officers for all your gates [in the cities] ADONAI your God is giving you, tribe by tribe; and they are to judge the people with righteous judgment. 19 You are not to distort justice or show favoritism, and you are not to accept a bribe, for a gift blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of even the upright. 20 Justice, only justice, you must pursue; so that you will live and inherit the land ADONAI your God is giving you.
"You are not to distort justice or show favoritism" .... Whose justice - man's or God's? "...you are not to accept a bribe...." How many of our "worldly" judges and leaders are guilty of this? How many votes have been "bought" by our political leaders, and how many people have bribed their favorite candidates with money? "The land" YHWH promised His people was, of course, Israel at that time. But the thing is, "Israel" consists of all believers in YHWH who are all supposed to obey HIS commands for all time - and "their land" must be free of all "other gods" and idols and pagan ways....How much of America (or the world, for that matter) is free of pagan ways and "other gods"?
Deuteronomy 17: 1 "You are not to sacrifice to ADONAI your God a cow or sheep that has a defect or anything wrong with it; that would be an abomination to ADONAI your God...."
While some might think that his has no relevance today since we don't sacrifice animals anymore, it does show how adamant YHWH is about purity, and that He expects nothing less than perfection. We are NOT to come to Him as imperfect beings; we cannot go before God as carnal people and expect Him to accept us with open arms! (Leviticus 11:45 "Therefore you are to be holy, because I am holy.") He gave us Yeshua to cleanse us from our sins, but at the same time, this in no way removed the need to obey His "forever" commands (Seventh Day Sabbath, Biblical Feasts, and eating kosher foods).
We cannot be considered "clean" if we ignore His commanded holy days and, instead, force the paganistic man-made "holidays" of Christmas and Easter down His throat every year; nor can we be considered "clean" if we present ourselves to Him after dining on swine or shellfish....Yeshua removed our past SINS; He did not die so that we could purposely disobey His Father's commands and decide we can eat whatever we want. If we belong to YHWH, we MUST obey!
Deuteronomy 17: 2 "If there is found among you, within any of your gates [in any city] that ADONAI your God gives you, a man or woman who does what ADONAI your God sees as wicked, transgressing his covenant 3 by going and serving other gods and worshipping them, the sun, the moon, or anything in the sky - something I have forbidden - 4 and it is told to you, or you hear about it; then you are to investigate the matter diligently. If it is true, if it is confirmed that such detestable things are being done in Isra'el; 5 then you are to bring the man or woman who has done this wicked thing to your city gates, and stone that man or woman to death. 6 The death sentence is to be carried out only if there was testimony from two or three witnesses; he may not be sentenced to death on the testimony of only one witness. 7 The witnesses are to be the first to stone him to death; afterwards, all the people are to stone him. Thus you will put an end to this wickedness among you.
Many refer verses such as these to argue that "the Old Testament God was mean." But the bottom line is, it reveals once again how adamant YHWH was about His people refraining from straying from His Path by mingling or in any way associating with pagans - those who worshiped idols and other gods (and who ate "unclean" foods). YHWH is the Creator, nobody else! Man has known that since the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, and you can be sure that Adam and Eve passed that reality on to their children.
Somehow, when mankind grew and spread around the world, knowledge of YHWH began to fade and, in the end, only the Jews remained loyal, maintaining a set-apart identity for YHWH. His Word became twisted when Catholicism and later Christianity entered the picture and "all things Jewish" were removed from our worship including the identity of YHWH's Son Yeshua, who was a Torah observant, tallit-wearing, Seventh Day Sabbath and Biblical Feast-keeping, kosher Jew.
We can see throughout the Torah YHWH's relentless insistence about our remaining pure and clean, a Set Apart People for Him. This command wasn't just for physical Israel, but all those who are grafted in to the Olive Tree (Israel) through Yeshua Mashiyach (Messiah).
YHWH has again and again reiterated the fact that HIS people are to keep themselves pure and free from any type of paganism - to the point where, in Biblical times, He commanded them to KILL those who were pushing "other gods" or idols or paganism.
Today, of course (thanks to the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua haMashiyach) judgment against the wicked will be meted out, not by immediately stoning or putting to death those who have chosen "other gods"; but rather, their punishment will come on Judgment Day (read Revelation 20 and 21).
Revelation 20: 7. And when these thousand years will be completed, Satan will be released from his prison; 8. and will go forth to seduce the nations that are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog; and to assemble them for battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. 9. And they went up on the breadth of the earth and encompassed the camp of the Set Apart believers and the beloved city. And fire came down from Elohim out of heaven and consumed them. 10. And the Accuser who seduced them, was cast into the lake of fire and sulfur, where also were the beast of prey and the false prophet: and they will be tormented, day and night, forever and ever.
11. And I saw a great white throne and Him who sits upon it; from whose presence the earth and heaven fled away, and this their place was not found. 12. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne; and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is (the book) of life. And the dead were judged from the things written in the books, according to their deeds. 13. And the sea gave up the dead in it; and death and Sheol gave up the dead in them. And they were judged, each one according to his deeds. 14. And death and Sheol were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, (namely,) this lake of fire. 15. And if any one was not found enrolled in the book of life, he was cast into this lake of fire.
Now check out Deuteronomy 17:8-13 which shows what YHWH wants His people to do concerning bloodshed, civil suit, personal injury or any other controversial issue....
Deuteronomy 16: 8 "If a case comes before you at your city gate which is too difficult for you to judge, concerning bloodshed, civil suit, personal injury or any other controversial issue; you are to get up, go to the place which ADONAI your God will choose, 9 and appear before the cohanim, who are L'vi'im, and the judge in office at the time. Seek their opinion, and they will render a verdict for you. 10 You will then act according to what they have told you there in that place which ADONAI will choose; you are to take care to act according to all their instructions. 11 In accordance with the Torah they teach you, you are to carry out the judgment they render, not turning aside to the right or the left from the verdict they declare to you. 12 Anyone presumptuous enough not to pay attention to the cohen appointed there to serve ADONAI your God or to the judge - that person must die. Thus you will exterminate such wickedness from Isra'el - 13 all the people will hear about it and be afraid to continue acting presumptuously.
What judges do you know of today who follow YHWH's laws and rulings which are according to His Torah? If you know of someone, please forward his or her name to me so I can write to thank them! The bottom line is: YHWH appointed the Levi'im cohens as the ultimate authority for judging! Man's thoughts do not matter, whatsoever!
Here's something very important:
Deuteronomy 17: 15 In that event, you must appoint as king the one whom ADONAI your God will choose. He must be one of your kinsmen, this king you appoint over you - you are forbidden to appoint a foreigner over you who is not your kinsman.
While we don't appoint KINGS today, we do appoint leaders. Over the last decade or so, we have begun to seriously violate the above, as we are NOT appointing leaders who are among our kinsmen. In the beginning, the United States was a Christian nation - which, although Torah-less, at least 'believed' in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But more recently, we've begun to vote foreigners into our government. Examples: Has President Obama ever produced a valid birth certificate? No. He has even admitted to having a Muslim background. And since when is a foreign-born person allowed to become governor, as in the case of Arnold Schwarznegger who even has trouble speaking proper English?
And look at this:
Deuteronomy 17: 18 "When he has come to occupy the throne of his kingdom, he is to write a copy of this Torah for himself in a scroll, from the one the cohanim and L'vi'im use. 19 It is to remain with him, and he is to read in it every day, as long as he lives; so that he will learn to fear ADONAI his God and keep all the words of this Torah and these laws and obey them; 20 so that he will not think he is better than his kinsmen; and so that he will not turn aside either to the right or to the left from the mitzvah. In this way he will prolong his own reign and that of his children in Isra'el.
Do you know of any of today's leaders who have written a copy of the Torah for themselves? Our leaders are to be godly kinsman (of our country)! While our leaders today are usually not called "kings" they ALL have easy access to Torah and the rest of the Bible, and the above command to learn to fear ADONAI his God and keep all the words of this Torah and these laws and obey them applies to ALL leaders everywhere! There is no place in the Bible where the above is ever negated!
Unfortunately, we are not a Torah observant nation, which is amply reflected in the condition of our nation where one unbelieving judge can overturn the will of millions of people who are against the sin of homosexuality! It is amply reflected by the fact that people who exhibit childish and decadent behavior in our society are lauded as "folk heroes (i.e., the "barefoot bandit" who broke into people's houses and even stole airplanes, and a flight attended who lost his temper and used the intercom system to cuss out a passenger and then grabbed some beer and deployed an emergency exit to leave the plane....
Here's a challenge for you: Find a copy of the Constitution and tell us where it provides for a "constitutional separation of church and state." The Constitution was not designed to protect the government from religion - YHWH's Word; it was designed to protect spiritual people from the government!
Skipping down to Deuteronomy 18: 15 "ADONAI will raise up for you a prophet like me from among yourselves, from your own kinsmen. You are to pay attention to him, 16 just as when you were assembled at Horev and requested ADONAI your God, 'Don't let me hear the voice of ADONAI my God any more, or let me see this great fire ever again; if I do, I will die!' 17 On that occasion ADONAI said to me, 'They are right in what they are saying. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen. I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I order him.
19 Whoever doesn't listen to my words, which he will speak in my name, will have to account for himself to me. 20 "'But if a prophet presumptuously speaks a word in my name which I didn't order him to say, or if he speaks in the name of other gods, then that prophet must die.' 21 You may be wondering, 'How are we to know if a word has not been spoken by ADONAI?' 22 When a prophet speaks in the name of ADONAI, and the prediction does not come true -that is, the word is not fulfilled -then ADONAI did not speak that word. The prophet who said it spoke presumptuously; you have nothing to fear from him.
Here we have a Messianic prophecy that foreshadows Yeshua, but it is evidence that Yeshua did not provide anything new; that everything that came from His mouth was straight from YHWH! Christians like Jack van Impe, for instance, never mention YHWH; he acts as if "Jesus" is a new god with new rules who replaced His Father, and that we are to worship and concentrate only on "Jesus." While Yeshua had a divine qnoma (Nature), He also had a human body that was born and died. GOD cannot be born OR die! This is proof that Yeshua, as He Himself said, came to proclaim the Kingdom of YHWH (Luke 4:43), not to change or usurp His Father's powers or rules.
Now, please take a look at verse 22. Myriads today follow all manner of "false prophets" and even DEFEND them when their "prophecies" don't come true (i.e., "prophets" such as Michael Rood and Monte Judah who have, over and over again, had to apologize for their failed prophecies). "Well, they're just human and can make mistakes." NO! It's irrelevant that they're human! If people proclaim to be speaking for YHWH, they'd BEST KNOW FOR SURE that the message is from Him, or else they will be dead meat! The bottom line is, once someone has proven him or herself to be a false prophet, we MUST shun them! NOTHING they say should be ever again be believed once they've given false prophecies....Yet these types are over and over again forgiven by those who don't know the Scriptures!
Deuteronomy 20: 16 "As for the towns of these peoples, which ADONAI your God is giving you as your inheritance, you are not to allow anything that breathes to live. 17 Rather you must destroy them completely - the Hitti, the Emori, the Kena'ani, the P'rizi, the Hivi and the Y'vusi - as ADONAI your God has ordered you; 18 so that they won't teach you to follow their abominable practices, which they do for their gods, thus causing you to sin against ADONAI your God.
While YHWH spoke the above the Hebrews in the desert, they apply to us today! Back then, He wanted His people to KILL those who practiced paganism and went again Him and His Torah. This was to prevent His people from becoming infected with paganism. Just take a look at what has happened over the millennia as people became increasingly removed from YHWH and His Torah! Just yesterday, President Obama made the public announcement that the Muslims SHOULD be allowed to build a mosque at Ground Zero! (Trust me, I intend to send him an email designed to give him a biblical concussion and reveal to the world that Obama is NOT one of YHWH's children!!!)
I pray that this lesson touched each of you, and made you aware of the importance of OBEDIENCE to our Creator, who only wants the best for us! May YHWH continue to reveal Himself to you in ways that cause you to become ever more hungry for His Word! Until we "meet" again, may YHWH bless you and keep you. May He make His Face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May He lift up His countenance upon you and give you His shalom. Amein.
There is so much more that could be said about today's study, and I wholeheartedly urge you to read the cited scriptures through, if you haven't already done so. If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to write! Thank you for reading my Torah study notes for this week, and I pray for you a blessed week ahead, that may you ever grow in your knowledge of YHWH. And, as always, please let me know if you ever see anything in my newsletters that sounds "off the mark"! Nobody has the market cornered on absolute Truth; we are all learning and obeying to the best of our abilities....
Next week's Parashah reading will be:
Parashah 49: Ki Tetze (When you go out) - Deuteronomy 21:10 - 25:19; Haftarah reading: Isaiah 52:13 - 54:10. B'rit Hadasha suggested reading: Matthew 5:31-32, 19:3-12, 22:23-32; Mark 10:2-12, 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-38; 1 Corinthians 9:4-18; Galatians 3:9-14; 1 Timothy 5:17-18.