Sukkot Reading: Levitcus 23:39-44, Exodus 33:12-34:26
As we go through this teaching think of someone in your life that would be a good example of a person that lives with joy in their life no matter their circumstances.
I want us to look more closely at Sukkot and the aspect of joy as well as New Testament references to the holiday. We have mentioned before the water drawing ceremony that took place each day during Sukkot. This is when the priests would go and bring water from Shiloach Springs and pour it over the altar as they prayed for the blessing of G-d in the form of abundant rain in the coming year. There is a striking New Testament reference to this water in John 7:37-38. See John 7:2 where the holiday is specifically mentioned. In 7:37 He makes reference to water and the spiritual truth that His water satisfies completely. He goes on to say that from us will also flow rivers of living water. How does this happen in our lives? G-d tabernacles with us, He becomes that Sukkah in which we dwell until we reach heaven. So how does water flow from us? It must flow daily as we live our lives here in this world. This happens I think, as we live a joyful life daily. Not just when everything is going well and we grow fat. But especially when things might not be going so well as the world measures well. How else can we read in James 1:2, “Count it all joy or pure joy whenever you fall into various trials.” How are we to do that?
Torah Portion: Ha’azinu Deut. 32:1-52
HafTorah: II Samuel 22:1-51
In Deut. 32:1 Moses uses two different verbs when addressing Heaven and Earth. I want us to start by looking at these verses and what it might mean to us spiritually. First, Ha’azinu means to give ear or listen closely, like when you might share something with a close friend. The other verb is a general term for listen. What can we learn from this? The rabbis say the first word signifies the closeness Moses felt to Heaven. I was thinking about this and about what it means for us. First Judaism sees life both spiritual and physical made up of a dichotomy, light and dark, days of the week, Sabbath, Heaven and earth. Given this, we live somewhat in the tension between these divisions. We, like Moses, should have a close connection to the divine. We should be so close we only have to whisper and the world should not have the power over us that the spiritual has. We should be able to impact the physical world because of our closeness to the spiritual. We need only to whisper and G-d hears us.
Torah Portion: Nitzavim/Vayelech Deut. 29:10-31:30
HafTorah: Isaiah 61:10-63:9
These Torah sections are filled with so many verses that speak to me I hardly know where to start. So I may just cover a few and see what G-d has to say to us. Right from the very beginning in Deut. 29:10-11 we read where Moses speaks to the people about entering into covenant with G-d. What struck me was that we are included in these two verses, “the stranger in your camp.” I think this speaks to those who have come into Israel’s camp. In some degree that is each of us, based on Paul’s words in Romans 11:16-18. We were all grafted into this Jewish olive tree and according to Paul supported by its roots. For some it will go deeper than that. Some of us will go on to be more closely related to Israel. Wherever we are in that process we are all part of the tree.
Torah Portion: Ki Tavo (When You Come) Deut. 26:1-29:8
HafTorah: Isaiah 60:1-22
In the days of the Temple farmers were to set aside the first of the seven things mentioned in Torah in Deut. 8:8. How did they do this? The farmer went out into the fields at the first sign of blossoms or heads of grain and marked them with a ribbon on the stems. When they reached maturity he would harvest them and take them to the Temple in Jerusalem during Shavuot. He would give them to the priest and recite the words of Deut 26:5-11. What was the purpose of this ritual to the farmer? It kept it in his mind and spirit that all things come from the Father, and gave him an opportunity to show his gratitude for G-d’s provisions.
Torah Portion: Shoftim (Judges) Deut. 16:18-21:9
HafTorah: Isaiah 51:12-52:12
Tonight I want to look at a couple of things from this week’s Torah portion. These will cover the two questions I sent out this week. I would like us to spend a few minutes looking at Deut. 20:19. In my translation it reads, “for the tree of the field is man’s food.” However in Hebrew it reads, “Man is a tree of the field.” So, what are we to make of this? How are we trees of the field? In Psalms 1:3 David compares a righteous man to a tree with fruit and leaves that don’t wither. Why? Because it is connected to its life source – water. How do we not wither and turn brown? We do it by staying connected to our life source – the living G-d who through Yeshua nourishes us daily. And as this tree bears fruit so must we. (John 15:2,6) This can only happen as we stay connected to our source. In fact the Torah says non- fruit bearing trees are to be cut down and used to lay siege to a city. In these verses of John Yeshua says the same things. So we are to be trees who reproduce good fruit, our leaves are to stay green, and our roots should be strong and deep. All of these hearken back to this verse that we looked at tonight.
Torah Portion: Re’eh (Behold) Deut. 11:26-16:17
HafTorah: Isaiah 54:11-55:5
John 7:37-52; I John 4:1-6
Tonight I want us to start by looking at the first question I sent out this week. In Deut. 11:29 we read where Moses tells the people, when they enter the land half of the people are to go to Mt. Gerizim and recite the blessings of G-d. The other half would go to Mt. Ebal and recite the curses found in the Torah for obedience to G-d. Later in history Mt. Gerizim was looked at by the Samaritan sect as G-d’s holy mountain and their temple there as the place to worship. In the time of Yeshua their temple was in ruins but sacrifices were still brought there. The Jewish people held them to be heretics and made a point of not having any contact with them. Which brings us to my question. Where do we see this physical setting in the New Testament and whom did Yeshua meet there? Of course we all know her as the Samaritan woman at the well. She, perceiving that Yeshua was a Jewish prophet, presented Him with a question about the main point of conflict between Jews and Samaritans on where they should worship. (John 4:20) In His answer Yeshua firmly comes down on the side of Israel (John 4:22) but goes on to say the time is coming when people will also not be able to pray in Jerusalem. John 4:21 and John 4:23.
Torah Portion: Eikev (Following) Deut. 7:12-11:25
HafTorah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
Hebrews 11:8-13; Romans 8:31-39
This Torah section could be called one of remembrance, not forgetting. In this section we see over and over Moses calling on the people to remember what G-d had done for them. In fact in Chapter 8 of Deut. Moses goes on about everything G-d did for them and included in the list were also trials that He led them through and why G-d allowed them to be tested. Living life involves challenges. By these we grow and our faith is built up. That is what He tells Israel to remember. For soon they will enter a land where they will be challenged in new ways.
Torah Portion: Vaetchanan (And I pleaded) Deut. 3:23-7:11
HafTorah: Isaiah 40:1-26
Matt. 23:31-39, Mark 12:28-34
In this section of scripture there are many important subjects covered: Mt. Sinai, Ten Commandments, Moses pleading with G-d to enter the Land, the Shema. But tonight I want to start with the question I sent out from Deut. 4:4, “But you who held fast to the L-rd your G-d are alive today, everyone of you.” What does it mean to “hold fast” ? In Hebrew the word is “Had-vachem” included in this word is the root for stick or glue. How do we do it? And how do we keep doing it? What happens if we don’t stay stuck to G-d?
Torah Portion: Massei Numbers 33:1-36:13
HafTorah: Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4
NT Reading: James 4:1-12
Tonight I would like to look at the verses in this week’s Torah portion from two different standpoints. This will follow closely the questions I sent out this week. Let’s start with the questions about the connections between Yeshua and the cities of refuge. In this time of history murder or the accidental death of someone at another person’s hand carried a death sentence. This sentence was carried out by the next of kin. No trial, no jury, one person was judge and jury. The Torah modified this somewhat by setting up cities of refuge where the person could flee and be protected until there could be a trial. Read Numbers 35:12. If the person was found guilty of murder then they would be punished or if not punished they would be safe from the blood avenger as long as they stayed within the city walls.
Torah Portion: Pinchas Numbers 25:10-30:1
HafTorah: I Kings 18:46-19:21
NT Reading: Romans 11:2-32
Tonight I want to start with a look at this section of Torah from a viewpoint of how we can spiritually relate it to Messiah. Here in Pinchas we see shadows of this spiritual connection with Messiah. First to define the Hebrew word Keenah in Numbers 25:11. Here it is translated as zeal. But it is usually translated as jealous. So Pinchas was jealous for G-d and was moved to act. Yeshua can clearly be called one who is jealous for G-d – to the point of laying down His own life for the salvation of Israel. As Pinchas turned away G-d’s wrath so does Yeshua take upon Himself the punishment or wrath of G-d for us by laying down His life for us. G-d grants Pinchas and his descendants a perpetual priesthood on this earth and Yeshua has taken His place in heaven as our eternal High Priest.