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
In this parashah, G-d tells B’nai (children) of Israel that if they walk in His path and keep His commandments, He will bless them. However, if they do not listen and follow His commandments, He will punish them. Please understand that this applies to every one of every race and ethnicity, and not just the biological Jews who were present at the time this was written. We must remember that the Jewish nation was chose initially as G-d’s chosen people to set an example for the rest of the world. Those who were not and are not biological Jews who choose to follow G-ds’ commands are grafter into His chosen people Israel. This is a concept that is neither widely taught nor is popular with anti-Semitists. This admonishment from G-d is for ANYONE who considers himself/herself a lover of G-d and a follower of His instructions (Torah). 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. This takes on new meaning for those who study the prophets and the punishments inflicted by G-d for the peoples’ sins. Only a miracle could save anyone out of those situations.
If we look closely, we can see a direct correlation between the blessings and the punishments. We either follow G-d and live in peace in the Land of Milk and Honey, or 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; 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 common 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).
Midway through 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). Interestingly, 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 society as a whole is now walking casually with G-d. The nation does not understand 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 as an attempt to get people to repent and turn their heads and hearts upward to Him. This is exactly the same thing that happened to the people of Judah during Joe’s time. We can easily juxtapose our recent history into the prophecies of Joel. Instead of repenting and turning to G-d the people promote license over liberty, ignoring G-d’s Torah. Materialism, gluttony, and Hellenistic narcissism has swept the land and instant self-gratification is the word of the day. G-d is nowhere to be found on the priority list or on any 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 as ineffective as “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 spiel 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. The majority of our leaders and society from which they were elected explain 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 as He is holy. Our G-d leaves nothing to chance in this world. He leaves us no excuse to say we “didn’t understand” His signs so clearly described by Yahshua regarding the end times in Matthew 24 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 ignore His calling and all of the signs in our world that He and His prophets foretold would herald the signs of the end times; if we don’t search our souls and pray that He “defrag” or “scan” them and remove all of the distracting and erroneous information such as previous beliefs, and pagan values; or if we 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 as mentioned in the aforementioned paragraph. These antinomians (anti Torah) refuse to see the Hand of G-d seeking to lead them away from spiritual destruction. If we do not accept the fact that there is a Creator and that He is sovereign, then there is no reason to seek forgiveness or repent, and subsequently no hope for blessing or 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. 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 are, 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. If we put our faith in people, we will be like a tree in the desert, always wondering how it will get water. 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 HaMashiach.
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 “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. As Messianic Jews we know that Yahshua is G-d, but in the role of Yahshua on earth, He submitted Himself to G-d in heaven and rightly placed the ultimate power of G-d in His complete complex unity as the One who saves. IN His role as Yahshua, He provided the way to be reconciled to G-d.
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 this all 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, we need to understand that Yahshua is One (Echad) with YHVH and therefore cannot command something contrary to YHVH’s Torah. It is incorrect to think of Messianic Judaism as something “easy” requiring only feelings of love without actions to prove it. Simply review the seven-fold witness in Revelation of trusting Yahshua AND obeying G-d’s Torah as Yahshua’s definition of a true worshipper. 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. Since Yahshua is also known as “HaTorah”, we can rest assured that His Torah never changes.
- 16-17 promises the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) for all true believers. The Greek word “parakletos” literally means “one called alongside” inferring 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 are described as 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 just one of the wonders of G-d’s Torah worth pondering and exploring, and additional validation that G-d can do whatever He wants to whomever He chooses (Ex. 33:19; Rom. 9:15). His will is always perfect(Psalms 18:30; Romans 12:2)
Rabbi Tamah Davis