Today we study what may be the most important Torah portion of the year. In the very first verse we read where G-d told Moshe to, “Come” to Pharaoh. Here Moshe was to relate to Pharaoh G-d’s final three plagues, locust, darkness and death of the first born. Sh’mot 10:1 reads, “And the L-rd said to Moshe, Come to Pharaoh.” In all other times G-d told Moshe to go to Pharaoh. Why was the word “come” used here? I believe this gives all of us an important clues to the character of the Father. G-d was telling Moshe that no matter what we face G-d will be with us. He will already be there before us. Our faith should be strengthened by the use of this small word in this verse.
Va’etchanan (I Pleaded) D’Varim (Deut.) 3:23-7:11
Haftorah Readings: Isaiah (Yesh’yahu) 40:1-26
Bless each of you today. I would like to begin with a verse from the Prophet Isaiah. The Prophet reading for this Sabbath begins with Isaiah 40:1, “Comfort ye comfort ye My people! says your G-d.” Because of this verse this Sabbath is known as the Sabbath Nachamu or the Sabbath of comfort. This is not talking about physical comfort but more a spiritual and emotional comfort. The important point being made to each of us is to comfort the Jewish people. G-d is directing us to comfort His people.
Torah Portion: Naso (Take) B’midbar (Numbers) 4:21-7:89
Haftorah Readings: Judges 13:2-25
Tonight we read and study the longest Torah portion of the year. It contains many subjects we could spend hours studying. However, tonight we will only look at two or three topics that I think will give all of us a deeper insight into spiritual principles that can help us in our life.
First, I want to start with Numbers 5:6-7. In these verses we read the process to be taken when we have sinned. In verse 7 we read, “Then they shall confess their sin which they have done.” Let’s talk about this for a moment. We are to speak out loud our confession to G-d. Why do we have to verbalize our words of remorse and confession of guilt before G-d? He knows our every thought and action. So why are we to speak it out loud? Maybe the point of speaking our confession out loud is for our own benefit. When we speak the words out loud they become more real to us, more intense. The sin is no long just in our memory but the words have been spoken. I believe when we speak the words out it cannot be easily swept under the rug. We can’t pretend it didn’t happen. The sin becomes more real to us. It causes us to consider just how we could have done such a thing. Our actions are out in the light. We can look at our actions more clearly.
Torah Portion: Va’etchanan (I Pleaded) Devarim Deut. 3:23-7:11
HafTorah: Isaiah 40:1-26
This Torah portion is filled with things that would take a life time to study. We will look at several in the minutes ahead. This Shabbat is known as the Sabbath of Comfort based on the prophet reading of Isaiah 40:1-26. It begins with, “Comfort, Comfort My people.” Tell me how we can comfort Israel, how we can comfort the Jewish people? There is no doubt this is required of us. Yeshua alluded to this in the New Testament where He tells us in Matt. 25:31-36 to comfort His people by feeding, clothing and visiting them in prison. In fact this is one of the reasons for the founding of Road to Zion Ministries. This is vitally important to us as believers. Is it enough to talk about how much we love Israel and the Jewish people or does it require us to do something, to take some action? Evangelism is not the only thing we should be doing. Yeshua says here He judges us by our actions toward His people. His people are the Jewish people. They are his brothers and sisters. For far too long we Christians have been the main source of pain and persecution rather than comfort. The time is drawing close at hand when our response to our Jewish neighbors will be called for. We are required to comfort. How will we respond?
Torah Portion: Vayera Genesis 18:1-22:24
HafTorah: II Kings 4:1-37
In John 8:39 Yeshua says to us, “If you are Abraham’s children do the deeds of Abraham.” With this verse as a starting point I want us to look at the first 20 or so verses of chapter 18 of Genesis where Abraham experiences two visits. Now these visits happen after his circumcision. We don’t know how long after but Jewish sages see it as being pretty much immediately after. In fact, they see the visit of G-d as being an example to us of visiting the sick.
Torah Portion: B’chukotai (In My Statutes) Leviticus 26:3-27:34
HafTorah: Jeremiah 16:19-17:14
Our Torah portion this week is one of two places in the Bible that we read a listing of blessings and curses that hinge on obedience to G-d. Here there are 11 verses that talk about blessings and 36 verses that tell us the consequences of disobedience. I would like to propose that here we read the last line of the story first. I think we now are in and have been in the age of the curses. We see disobedience to G-d’s word on every side.
Torah Portion: Nitzavim/Vayelech (Standing/And He Will Go) Deut. 29:9-31:30
HafTorah: Isaiah 61:10-63:9
Tonight I want us to look first and mainly at Isaiah, especially in light of this passage coming before Rosh Hashanah. As we look at this I would like for you to get this picture in your mind. In Luke 4:16-21 Yeshua, following His baptism and wilderness experience, comes home to Nazareth where, as was His custom, he attends the local synagogue on Sabbath. Realize that at this time in history Nazareth was a small farming village within 3 miles of the main Jewish town of Tizpora. He stood up to read, first reading the Torah section and then being handed the book of Isaiah, starts with what we read here in our HafTorah portion. Could it have been this same Sabbath as today? Possibly. Since Nitzavim is always read on the Sabbath before Rosh Hashanah. So, here Yeshua tells the people in the synagogue, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Saying that He is the Servant of the L-rd of whom Isaiah has spoken. He has been anointed with the Spirit of G-d which was also spoken of in Isaiah 11:2.He was and is the Anointed One. What was He to do? He was to “Bring good news to the afflicted and poor.” This good news was the announcement of redemption. When John asked in Matthew 11:2 if Yeshua was the one, He answered with this verse.
Weekly Torah Section: Ekev (Because, As a result of) Deut. 7:12-11:25
HafTorah Isaiah 49:14-51:3
Tonight the Torah section is called “Ekev” which means, because, as a result of or following. What is the connection with Jacob’s name? He was born grasping his brother’s foot.
I want to look first at Isaiah and then get to the question that I sent to you. Let’s look at Isaiah 49:13 first. Here G-d proclaims that He has comforted His people and will have mercy on His afflicted. However, in the next verse we see Zion’s response. She was still feeling rejected and forgotten. Her people remain scattered across the world. Jerusalem lies in ruins and the presence of G-d has been withdrawn. She responds like an abandoned wife. I guess as I read this this week I thought of my own life and how many times I felt alone and left by G-d. But in the midst of it all G-d reassured me and here He reassures Zion that she is not forgotten. Can a mother forget her child? (verse 15) Maybe this is possible but I will never forget you. What a wonderful promise. G-d does not abandon us but He will always be with us.