Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #33 B’chukkotai (By my regulations) Vayikra (Leviticus 26:3-27:34)
Haftarah: Yirmeyahu (Jeramiah) 16:19-17:14
B’rit Chadashah: Yochanan (John) 14:15-21; 15:10-12
This parashah focuses on G-d’s perpetual regulations that are to be observed and obeyed, not only by the biological Israelites at the time, but anyone who considers him or herself to be a true believer. Keeping the regulations of G-d with the right spirit is the defining characteristic of a true believer as states by Yahshua Himself in the Book of Revelation in the Seven-fold witness. However, if G-d’s regulations are ignored, punishment will follow. I believe we are living in the end times whereby G-d is just beginning to exact punishment on the world and America even more so since this nation was so blessed at a time when the majority of its inhabitants at least had a basic sense of value for life and property and lived at least to some degree according to G-d’s rules for man. We should also compare Deuteronomy 28 along with this parashah for more details on the types of punishments that Israel suffered in biblical times and that we are headed for now.
But even then, G-d in His love and grace meters out punishment with progressive severity, giving man more chances to repent before total destruction (being lost) (Lev. 26:38). This parashah, as all parashot in the Old Testament, parallel Yahshua’s instructions in the B’rit Chadashah (renewed, refreshed covenant). G-d lists 49 punishments He will bring including:
Physical punishments such as swelling and high fever
Attacks from enemies
Agricultural punishments such as drought and famine
Nature oriented punishments such as plagues of wild animals
Punishments that will bring disease and hunger that lead to the destruction of the cities of B’nai Israel and the exile of the people from their Land.
However, G-d promises that even when B’nai Israel is in exile, He won’t forget His covenant with their forefathers, and will not destroy them completely. This passage exemplifies G-d’s attribute of chesed (loving kindness) that is shown due to no merit of ours. Note that this kindness will be shown to those with repentant hearts; not those who continued to rebel against G-d.
If we look closely, we can see a direct correlation between the blessings and the punishments. If we follow G-d we will live in peace in the Land of Milk and Honey. If we choose to ignore the path of G-d and live in fear in a barren land. If we live within G-d’s Torah, we receive blessings and if outside of His Torah, the curses. Understand this is different than enduring afflictions allowed by G-d for our ultimate benefit and spiritual growth. Trials and afflictions may seem like a curse, but they are in no way related. We must persevere and overcome those testings G-d allows that are not uncommon to mankind and develop a strong spiritual knowledge of the hope that awaits us at the end of our physical lives (2 Cor. 12:8-9; Rom. 5:3-5). G-d makes it very clear that He is to be first in all things and follow/celebrate His designated times out of our love for Him. This is true for all we say we do for G-d. If we saunter to Shabbat service, toss a donation in the box, and think about all we would rather be doming than learning about G-d and His instructions, we would be better off not attending or tithing. G-d makes this clear also as He tells the Israelites He wants no part of the Temple sacrifices without the spirit/heart for the offerings. We cannot fool G-d.
Midway through G-d’s listing the punishments, we find that G-d will increase punishment of sins seven-fold if “you walk with Me casually, then I will increase the punishment of your sins seven-fold (26:21). So we learn that there are worse sins than not walking in G-d’s ways at all. Why? Rashi explains that the Hebrew word keri, “casual” carries the implication of “by chance.” This suggests that while all the curses are being administered, the people continue to casually carry on with their lives, suffering and accepting their punishment. They see everything as happening by chance or coincidence, or even changes in the natural order of the universe. They do not relate their problems or the more frequent and unusual disasters and personal problems as a warning from G-d. This is the LAST thinking on their minds. Our country is at a place where many are not even walking casually with G-d. The nation as a whole does not see all the horrific disasters, frequent earthquakes in diverse places, loss of respect by children for their parents, men and women entering into unbiblical relationships with each other, false prophecy, drought and famine, new diseases, resistant strains of known diseases, etc. as G-d’s calling card and attempts to get people to turn their heads and hearts upward to Him instead of the UFOs. Instead, they promote license over liberty; tolerance of all abominations against G-d; ignoring G-d’s Torah that forbids the spilling of innocent blood as in abortions, and violence against each other. Materialism and gluttony has swept the land and instant self-gratification is the word of the day. G-d is nowhere to be found in the priority list of such people. All we can do is pray that in some way others may pay attention to G-d’s call before it is too late and that we may demonstrate a consistent witness to the power of YHVH/Yahshua in our daily lives. Ministers of G-d who recognize these times, warn their congregations and admonish them to prepare their hearts and minds for what is to come seem to be “spitting against the wind.” Truly, this is a time when people have itching ears and draw to themselves those ministers who deliver nothing but a short false assurance of consolation, instantaneous and everlasting security and non-accountability. Like the prophets of old preaching unpopular messages directed by G-d, those who teach the truth of G-d’s Torah are either largely ignored or despised for teaching personal and collective accountability, obedience, and a loving fear of G-d. Such individuals write the increasing destruction of nations, lands, peoples, and the natural world as “part of a natural life-cycle.” They always place their hopes on a better year the next time around. After all they say, isn’t G-d a G-d of love? They forget all to quickly that G-d is a Holy G-d; a G-d of justice who abhors sin. He demands that anyone who wants to be called His child be holy also as we just learned in the last two weeks. Out G-d leaves nothing to chance in this world. He leaves us no excuse to say we “didn’t understand” His signs so clearly laid out by Yahshua describing the end times in Matthew and other places throughout G-d’s Torah. We cannot say we did not hear the calling of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) because the soul in every individual is the “receiver” by which the Ruach calls us. If we turn it off enough, don’t “ defrag” it of unwanted information, beliefs, and pagan values; or never “upload” G-d’s Torah to our “hardrives,” we will crash and burn.
So why are these individuals going to be punished with curses that are seven times worse than those previously enumerated in our parashah? Because they ignore His calling. They refuse to see the Hand of G-d seeking to lead people out of spiritual destruction. They become antinomians, that is against G-d’s laws and rulings on a regular basis. Recall last week we discussed the unforgivable sin. This is it and we must take care not to be taken in by HaSatan and become casual believers or tolerant of the socialistic, antinomian agenda modern society is trying to force on those who do not subscribe to it. If we do not accept the sovereignty of our Creator, then there is no reason to seek forgiveness or repent and subsequently no hope for blessing and winning the race. This is why G-d clearly points out that even if punishments come, we may still receive blessings as long as we do not walk casually with G-d and ignore His sovereignty in the universe and everything in it. It would behoove us to re-read Revelation 3:15-22. Although it would seem this letter is addressed to a specific assembly, in reality it is addressed to a type of people. We must realize that there are people of all types in each assembly described in the letters to the seven “assemblies” and that no single assembly has only one type of spiritual conduct.
This narrative supports the concept of walking casually with G-d and clearly enumerates the ultimate consequence. May none of us fall into this category, or if we do, may we have ears to hear and repent!
Haftarah: Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 32:6-17
G-d tells us in the parashah that if we follow his path (Torah), He will bless the Land and us. If however, we fail to do so, then we will be punished. Our haftarah tells us that if we put our faith in people, we will be like a tree in the desert, always wondering how it will get water. However, if we put our trust in Yahshua’s faithfulness, we will be like a tree in the river, never fearing from where it will receive its “living water,” even during a drought. Our Living Water (John 4:13-14; Rev. 21:6) is provided by none other than The Tree of Life Himself, Yahshua HaMoshiach.
B’rit Chadashah: Yochanan 14:15-21; 15: 10-12
John 14:14 reads “If you ask me for something in my name, I will do it.” The word “me” is missing in many later translations of the New Testament. The translations including “me” were supplied because translators thought there was convincing evidence in the manuscript to include it. Since then, even those translators whose translations underlie the King James Version omit it. If you include “me”, it creates a “Jewish problem,” because it makes it appear that people should “Pray to let “Jesus”, and not to YHVH.” In denial of the correct doctrine, that prayer should be to YHVH alone. In the same manner, the translation of Yahshua (YHVH Saves) to “Jesus” meaning “savior”, makes it appear that “Jesus” saves and not YHVH.
Elsewhere, we see that Yahshua taught His followers to pray to YHVH (16:23; Matt. 6:9). Even if we receive the text with “me” included as correct, it does not present a contradiction because Yahshua taught us that he is One with the Father, petitioning Yahshua is petitioning the Father because they ARE One (Echad), and because the Son is the divine agent of the Father, He may be addressed in prayer. Certainly, we may correctly address our prayers of repentance to Yahshua Who is our Cohen Gadol for He is sinless (Rom. 3:23) and represents us to the Father as the Cohen Gadol of the Levite priesthood did in ancient Israel. There is a condition for YHVH to hear prayers of petition since YHVH is not obligated to hear the prayers of sinners (Isaiah 59:1-2 quoted in Rom. 3:23). So, what does all of this mean? First, seek forgiveness through Yahshua then address YHVH directly for your petition if He is to hear it, let alone grant it.
In verse 15 Yahshua says “If you love me, you will keep my commands.” Again, let me reiterate that Yahshua is One (Echad) with YHVH and therefore cannot command something contrary to YHVH’s Torah. It is incorrect to think of Christianity or even Messianic Judaism as something “easy” requiring only feelings of love without actions to prove it. I repeatedly refer to the seven-fold witness in Revelation that identifies a true worshipper as one who carries(trusts ) in the faithfulness of Yahshua AND guarding ( obeying) G-d’s Torah. Dake’s Annotated reference Bible lists 1,050 “New” Testament commands, which according to this verse, are to be obeyed by those who profess to love Yahshua. Read them and see that the Torah is to be obeyed as well, pointing out to us additional elements inherent to that obedience. No longer is the physical act of adultery the only problem/sin; even the desire to commit it is a sin. If we open our minds to the truth of G-d’s Torah, we will learn that both the Old and “New” Testaments are based on Law and Love respectfully; justice and mercy in tandem. It has always been so and will always be as such for YHVH/ Yahshua never changes; neither does His Torah.
Verses 16-17 promises the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) for all true believers. The Greek word “parakletos” literally means “one called alongside” but infers a “counselor, comforter, exhorter.” This is an astounding concept for Jewish people, for in the Old Testament we see the Ruach was only given to a selected few. Also we read that they had the Ruach “with” or “upon” them and NOT “in” them. Moshe and the seventy elders, Gideon, Samson, King Saul, and David, having the Ruach “with” or “upon” them and even fewer of having the Ruach HaKodesh “in” them: Joseph (Gen. 41:38) and Betzal’el (ex. 31:3). This is definitely a subject that invites prayerful and considerable exploration. May G-d bless those who have such zeal to learn G-d’s Torah.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart