Torah Portion: Shoftim (Judges) Devarim Deut. 16:18-21:9

HafTorah: Isaiah 51:12-53:12

This particular Torah portion always comes during the month of Elul. In this section of scripture we read about cities of refuge where someone who had accidently caused the death of another could escape the avenger of blood. Elul is seen in the same light. It is seen as a month of repentance, a sanctuary in time for a person to have a dedicated length of time to examine his/her life in a concentrated way. A time where they can turn from their sins and missed opportunities and dedicate themselves to a renewed and closer walk with the Father. Of course we have the avenue of repentance and renewal available at any time. However this month brings our lives front and center for an extended period. So, I pray we each can and will take this time to lay everything open before the Throne and renew our relationship between us and our Father and between us and anyone we might have issues with in our lives. Take advantage of this city of refuge and allow G-d to speak with you.

Now to the Torah; In Deut. 16:18-20 we read the commandment to set up judges and officers in all of the towns. These judges and officers were to rule with righteous judgments over the people in matters that arose between people. They were to rule according to G-d’s law. Because of this Jews were never to resort to a gentile court which would have little or no knowledge about G-d’s laws. In Israel this was broken down between a local court of three judges, to a district panel of 23 judges, up to the great Sanhedrin with 71 judges. This was the body that heard the case against Yeshua. In one of my questions I asked you to look for any examples of this system in the New Testament. I Tim. 3 sets out the appointment of bishops and elders with the qualifications following what we see here about judges and officers. We see the same in Titus 1:3 where Paul tells Titus to set up this system. In I Cor. Chapters 5 and 6 we read where Paul chastises the church at Corinth because they have no order. Everyone does what is right in his own eyes and they are even going to people outside to judge matters rather than setting up the system we see here in Deut. 16:18-20. Yeshua alluded to the same system in Matt 18:19-20 where He talks about the judgment of the local believing court. My point in this is that G-d has a system. We see it here in D’Varim and in the New Testament. We are accountable and responsible to each other. When an issue arises it must be dealt with by the local body. Where ever our spiritual home is has the responsibility to help each of us live our lives in an orderly G-dly way and when we get off track they should help us find our way back. It should not be ignored when there is sin among the brothers or disagreement but it should be dealt with in a G-dly way. It is about our responsibility to one another without which chaos reigns and we all do as we wish.

My other question concerns the same issue somewhat. How do we apply, the judges and officers at all of our gates, personally in our own spiritual walk? What are our gates? Eyes, ears, nose, and mouth are our gates. We are to guard what is allowed into our eyes and ears and nose. We are required to judge those things we see, read, listen to, even smell, for they will influence us for good or bad. Our judge and officer is the Spirit of G-d which resides in each of us. Our judge is His word and what it says about things we encounter everyday, a picture, movie, or story we hear. We must set up these judges and officers over our gates. If not, any and every thing is allowed in. We are people of G-d and have to take part in guarding our lives.