Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #47: Deuteronomy (D’varim) Re’eih (See) 11:26-16:17
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 44:11-45:5
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Corinthians 5:9-13
The first word of this parashah translates (take heed), meaning a great deal more than the word “see” in English. It is also more appropriate to the context of the sentence, for by “taking heed” of YHVH’s Torah we receive the blessings. Conversely, we will suffer curses if we ignore His mitzvoth (commands). G-d doesn’t say “take heed of some of them, or whichever ones are convenient for you.” The curses for not obeying G-d’s commands are becoming more apparent as we near the Tribulation. Earthquakes, floods, drought, famine, wars, numerous plane crashes, severe hurricanes and tsunamis; children who dishonor their parents and the ever-growing loss of sanctity for life are some of the issues we are reading about and experiencing every day. We see a trend toward more human anxiety, fear and despair for those who do not know the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. On the other hand, if you have ever seen someone who observes the living and written Torah of G-d, you realize this person exudes a sense of peace and consistently seeks opportunity to glorify G-d in he or she does. These individuals study G-d’s Torah and are learning to understand that all things work to the good for those who love G-d and are called according to his purpose. They also know that G-d will never leave nor forsake them in the storms of life. In verse 27 “that you harken” is explained by Rashi as meaning that the blessing will come to you only on the condition that you harken to the commandments. Homiletically, harken meaning “hearing” is a metaphor for blessing because the only way a person can obtain YHVH’s blessings is if he has the desire to hear (assimilate and act upon G-d’s Torah). The implications for us is that we must develop the ability to discern and to act upon that which is essential from all the competing messages inundating us daily from the bema, pulpit, or secular sources. Some may say “what right does this G-d you teach and follow have to tell me what I can and cannot do? The answer is simple. The L-rd’s claim on Israel’s loyalty; remember this means all true believers according to the Seven-fold witness in revelation, is based on the fact that He alone acted on Israel’s behalf. No other gods provided anything for Israel; neither do they for anyone else. They have no power as Abraham discovered and so boldly announced.
We learn that G-d makes very clear the fact that He will designate the only site that will serve for offerings and corporate worship. We have also learned that different people absorb information in different ways; some by hearing, some by touching, seeing, or doing. Those Israelites who may not have been persuaded by hearing G-d’s commands at Sinai, or by hearing Moshe’s exhortation, are asked to observe/experience the differences that following G-d’s commands can make in one’s life. This is where freewill comes into play. Freewill is what distinguishes us from the animal world as we have learned. Animals have only the animal soul, the G-d-given DNA programming that drives their behavior. We however, have the animal and the spiritual soul; the breath of life that can be developed and used to overcome the animal instinct of self-gratification to the exclusion of the well-being of others. The Torah repeatedly affirms that humans have the potential to control and even override our animalistic tendencies. Human cruelty seen more often as we progress toward the last days is the result of choice.
Another interesting aspect of this parashah is that G-d arranged the giving of the commands so all the people saw and experienced the thunder and lightning, the sound of the shofar, and the mountain smoking (Ex. 20:15(18)). The Hebrew root word is the same for see in Exodus 15 (18) and the first word of our parashah in Deut. 11:26 see which also means take heed. It is one thing for one person to see something, but one person’s perspective may not be accurate. However, when 3 million people see the same thing, there is little doubt as to its validity!
In verse 28 we are warned not to “follow gods of others.” This applies to more than tangible forms and images. One who is considered guilty of idolatry in G-d’s economy is one who repudiates the entire Torah and rejects YHVH Elohim. We should examine ourselves carefully and see if we place anything before our service to G-d. If we think we are perfect in this area, we must take the attitude of the psalmist and ask G-d to search our hearts and reveal any unclean thing (Psalm 139:23-4). Self-promotion, convenience, overextending ambition, physical desires, family and friends are just a few examples where people forego serving G-d and keeping Shabbat.
Once again we are commanded to neither add to nor subtract from the Torah in Chapter 13:1.As an illustration of the consistency of G-d’s Torah in the Old and “New” Testaments, this warning is repeated in Revelation. Orthodox Judaism and Christianity have added to YHVH’s Word by imposing their own additions and abrogation of some of G-d’s commands in efforts to meet denominational agendas. Some additions and subtractions are in direct conflict with G-d’s Torah. Examples in the Christian realm is teaching people they can eat whatever they want, changing the biblical Sabbath to Sunday, and making homosexuality just another accepted lifestyle, even to the extent or religious ordination in some religious institutions.
Examples of adding to G-d’s Torah in Orthodox Judaism includes all of the extra rabbinical commands that constitute and even separate the Oral Torah from G-d’s Torah, some of which contradict G-d’s Torah, and the equal and often elevated status they attribute to the Oral Torah; man-made laws that become spiritless repetition. This is the Torah Yahshua and Sha’ul spoke against. The concept being all the letter of the laws, some of which are not G-d’s Torah, and not applying the spirit of the law taught by Yahshua. WE learned in the Kabbalah class last week that Yahshuah, as the Middle Pillar, taught and lived the balance between law and grace; justice and mercy, etc. By altering G-d’s Torah, man is saying that the Torah of G-d is not perfect; not applicable to contemporary times; no longer in effect or can only be correctly interpreted by one or more rabbis who may or may not have sought the guidance of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
Verses 2-6 address false prophets. The word prophet translates as a “proclaimer of YHVH’s Word.” A preacher, pastor, or rabbi fits this description within this context. However, a particular point of interest is that we are warned to beware of prophets who perform signs and wonders. Not all miracles are from YHVH. Let me say this again: Not all miracles are from YHVH. Scripture explains that such signs and wonders by false prophets are to test us. Most people who experience a miracle automatically attribute it to YHVH. However, hasatan is the ruler of this world and he is also imbued with wondrous powers. How are we to discern whether miracles, signs and wonders are from G-d or hasatan? We MUST judge everything by the Word of YHVH Elohim. We have no other blueprint by which to discern the truth. Astrologers, psychics, “healers” and even preachers abound who claim to be YHVH’s anointed vessels spokespeople. YHVH tells us they are an abomination to Him. We are not to be taken in by any of these people even though they perform signs and wonders (Matt. 24:24).
Moshe reiterates the dietary laws and lists the three pilgrimage festivals of Pesach, Shavu’ot, and Succoth when all men are to appear before YHVH and bring to Him an offering. We are not to appear empty handed when we come to synagogue on these special occasions. It is a command. More than this, we are to offer our very best in all things to YHVH. This is where the regulations apply to defective animals as sacrifices. Why? Doesn’t it seem that if our intentions are good, that should be sufficient? The answer is that intentions are not sufficient as evidenced by Cain’s offering.
Abel brought the best animal of his flock as a sacrifice. Cain on the other hand, brought a sacrifice from his crops. He didn’t even bring a blood sacrifice! Why did Cain feel justified in giving of his crops as a gift to HaShem? We need to understand the importance of our attitude in performing the commands. If we treat them with little to no respect; if we give G-d what is left instead of the first and best fruits of all we have, this is a sign if irreverence; lukewarm observance that G-d abhors (Rev. 3:15). This attitude of giving our best applies not only to sacrifices, but in all or deeds. We must always seek the best for His highest glory. After all, we must remember that others may be watching how we respond to obeying G-d’s Torah in our everyday affairs. If we show a lack of reverence and love for G-d’s commands, those who observe such behavior will come to the conclusion that our G-d is not so important to us and does not require our utmost love and respect. Why abstain from pork and shellfish if the command forbidding these foods is a “take it or leave it” proposition? Even if no one in our physical world is watching, G-d sees everything we think and do (Heb. 4:13). He knows if we are simply obeying a command or performing a good deed because we “have to” or if our hearts are really in pleasing the One we love, fear, and respect. We may fool others but we cannot fool G-d. If we find our hearts waning in awesome love and respect for G-d and His Torah, we need to pray for the zeal that brought us out of apostate religion in the first place.
Haftarah: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 44:11-45:5
This is the third of seven “haftarot of Consolation.” These seven haftarot commence on the Shabbat following Tish b’Av and continue until Rosh Hashanah. G-d addresses the “afflicted and storm-tossed” Jerusalem “who has not been comforted,” assuring her that those who follow YHVH’s Torah will reap and be restored to full glory. The foundation, walls and ground of Jerusalem will be laid with precious stones. Her children will be “disciples of the L-rd,” and will enjoy abundant peace. Any weapon designed to attack her will fail. These are bold promises fo spiritual and physical transformation presented in unilateral terms. Nothing is demanded of the people!
The second part of the haftarah is more bilateral. G-d repeatedly calls on the nation to turn to Him. He is actually doing this today as we experience more and more of the things Yahshua spoke of in Matthew as part of the end times. Isaiah invites the thirsty to acquire “water,” namely those who are thirsty for spirituality should study the quenching words of Torah. He says that B’nai Yisra’el’s moral influence in the world will be so great that nations of whom B’nai Yisra’el has never heard will flock to her. He promises the nation an everlasting covenant similar to that made with King David. This is also an allusion to the Messiah Yahshua who will be revered by all nations… finally!
A rhetoric of assurance is described through the use of the Hebrew particle hinnei or hen (behold, surely). In the first part, there is an emphasis of freedom from fear (54:15). Although the translation is not direct, this particle also alludes to the promise of Zion’s riches and emphasizes Israel’s new and dominant role among the nations (54:11,16;55:4,5). In the Hebrew we can see the text evokes a sense of immediacy of G-d’s presence with a very decisive tone.
B’rit Chadashah: 1 Cor. 5:9-13
Sha’ul (Paul) refers to an earlier letter in verse 9 that informs us that everything he wrote is not included in the Holy Scriptures. Those who study extra biblical texts and apocryphal works may rightly discern that information in those works may add to spiritual understanding. However, G-d did not ordain that they be included in His Torah for a reason. These books contain information that may easily confuse and distract people from G-d’s basic message that is essential for our eventual salvation. Sha’ul urges us not to communicate (eat) with those that continue to practice certain sins, but it is permissible with those inquiring about the faith or with other believers. This principle is very Jewish and contradicts many peoples’ idea that Sha’ul was not discriminating in his behavior toward unbelievers and Gentiles. His criterion appear to be closely aligned with the Jewish way of thinking of his time; separateness from that which is defiled.
Chapter 12:1 serves as a warning. Because we have been so far removed from the spiritual realm for so many years and are now rediscovering it, we lost the ability to discern the spirits. We must remember that not every prompting or feeling is from YHVH. Some are our own feelings superimposed on our desires. Others may be from the spiritual realm, but of hasatan and his demons. During the time of this writing, there was the heresy of the Docetists (Greek dokein- to see) who taught that Yahshua did not come bodily but was a spirit that only appeared to be human. They considered flesh as too low a level for such an exalted figure as the Son of YHVH. Therefore he was not crucified or resurrected. This doctrine exists today in “theosophy” and in Eastern religions. On the wider scale of the church, we should not be surprised to see these individuals as successful leaders of large followings. People who are of the world with their own demonic influences desire to hear and support them. Yochanan recognized such a category of people and his advice was to ignore their message and not to be preoccupied with attempting to win them over. Rather, we should use as our guideline that whoever knows YHVH listens to us; whoever is not from YHVH doesn’t listen to us. We can take peace with this Biblically-based truth. Verse 8 reminds is that in the Millennial Kingdom things will be done by G-d’s rules, sacrifices and all! This is another great verse to highlight and share with those who argue that sacrifices are done away with forever. Ezekiel chapters 40-48 describes how things are going to work in the Millennial Kingdom including reinstitution of the sacrificial system.
Sages Wisdom: “And you shall eat there before YHVH, and rejoice in all you have. (12:7)
This instruction on how to serve YHVH is an important element in Judaism. In many other religions, service to their gods requires deprivation of physical pleasure and even the taking of a spouse, or performing acts of terror-suicide. YHVH prefers that we enjoy the many beautiful things He has given us, while making sure to raise this enjoyment to a level of service to Him. Remember, in order to receive more “light” from above, we must constantly share that which we have been given to make room!
“And you shall rejoice before YHVH, you, your children, your servants… (12:12).
Why a communal command? The Torah does not promote enjoying happiness alone to the exclusion of sharing when possible. We are required to share the happiness with our loved ones and those less fortunate because sharing adds another greater dimension to one’s happiness. This is one reason we encourage fellowship by attending services together. We learn together and share together, all within an environment of love and concern for each other.
R. Tamah Davis