Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Special readings for 4th day of Feast of Unleavened Bread:
Exodus: 33:12-34:26 Numbers: 28:19-25
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:1-14
Chapter 33 addresses the continual process of ascending to G-d. Although G-d is so angry with the Israelites that He withdraws Himself and sends an angel to go ahead of them, at Moshe’s consistent pleading on behalf of the people G-d relents and agrees to send His presence (33:14) to accompany them. We see a glimpse of Moshe’s unselfishness and concern for G-d’s people. He pleads on their behalf. He cannot bear to be banished from fellowship with G-d to the point he asks G-d to blot his name from the Book if he will not forgive the people (Ex. 32:32). Moshe then beseeches G-d not to make the people go on without the fellowship with G-d (Ex. 33:12-16). This chapter addresses not only the process of the nation Israel ascending to G-d, but the personal process of ascending to G-d through the life of Moshe. Considering Moshe as a prophet and leader of the people at that time, we can easily see how our personal ascension and growth toward G-d through Yahshua’s sacrifice and loving Torah observance is a requirement for winning the race to win the prize spoken of by Sha’ul (Paul) in the B’rit Chadashah. How easy it would be for Moshe to just agree with G-d that the people are a bunch of stiff necked (rebellious) idolaters and allow G-d to destroy them as he was planning to do. Yet, he offered himself as a sacrifice if G-d would not forgive the people. We see the same humility and repentant behavior in David as he placed his hands upon the ark, knowing G-d could kill him in a moment for his sin of murder and adultery. Yet, G-d chose to punish David by taking the life of his first son who is not named (2 Sam.11:26) with Bathsheba and by denying him the privilege of building the Temple. Kabbalah teaches that we must never underestimate the infinite results of our actions. G-d Himself addresses this in Exodus 34:5-7 as we approach another subject that is imperative if we want to spend an eternity with YHVH/Yahshua. That is total separation to G-d.
I want to call your attention to Ex. 34:5-6, “Adonai descended in the cloud, stood with him there and pronounced the name of Adonai. Adonai passed before him and proclaimed ‘Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh!!!” This scripture clearly describes the correct Hebrew letters (tetragrammaton) of His Name, yet we do not know the correct pronunciation. We do know that there is no “w” or “j” in Hebrew so the often inserted “w” as in Yahweh or the pronounced Jehovah are not accurate.
Moving on, we get to the subject of the ramifications of our actions according to G-d’s economy. Ex. 34-6-7 reads “…Adonai is G-d, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace AND TRUTH (Law); showing grace to the thousandth generation, forgiving offenses, crimes and sins; yet not exonerating the guilty, but causing the negative effects of the parents’ offenses to be experienced by their children and grandchildren, and even by the third and fourth generations.” This statement by G-d is tempered with Ex. 33:19 “…I show favor to whomever I will, and I display mercy to whomever I will.” The point is that G-d can do whatever He wants, whenever He wants, to whomever He wants. He is outside time, and He is the High Command. If we make an effort and pause to consider the ramifications of our words and actions BEFORE we execute them and make it a habit, I believe as do the kabbalists, that our speech and actions will demonstrate our love for G-d and His Torah more consistently and exert an influence beyond our comprehension. We must learn to buffet our selfish human desires and trade them in for selflessness that can only come from studying and living G-d’s Torah as Yahshua taught. The goal is to understand that the “new nature” we obtain when we become reconciled to G-d through Yahshua’s sacrifice, that we have the ability and expectation by G-d to learn how to and live by a “Torah nature” versus our human nature. Living our lives with careful thought can certainly enhance our ascent in our relationship to G-d and our commitment to total separation for His service as it is addressed in this scripture. G-d makes it truly clear that He is a jealous G-d and that we are not to assimilate in any way with those who have no interest in the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or His Torah (Ex. 34:10-16). G-d must come first, before wives, children, jobs, anything, or anyone who tries to distract us in other directions.
Next, we arrive at the subject of the festivals. Their observance is a large part of our separateness from the world. If you doubt this, just observe what happens when you tell people who ask you what you are doing for Easter, Halloween, or Christmas, and you tell them you do not celebrate these days. This open profession and demonstration of our consecration to G-d is becoming more dangerous by the day. Those who love and follow G-d used to be the majority. Today those who love G-d and follow His instructions are labeled intolerant, radical fundamentalists who are the enemies of a progressive social paradigm that not only tolerates those who live in direct defiance of G-d’s Torah but are now attempting to enact legislation that makes it a crime to follow G-d’s laws! Yahshua foresaw this and provided guidance on how true believers must ready themselves to be hated and persecuted. John 15: 18 tells us “ If the world hates you, understand that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would have loved its own. But because you do not belong to the world,- on the contrary, I have picked you out of the world- therefore the world hates you. Remember what I told you,’ a slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecute me, they will persecute you too; if they kept my word, they will keep yours too. But they will do all this to you on my account, because they don’t know the One who sent me.”
Besides the attack on G-d’s people for loving and following Him instead of secular humanistic teachings, there are those who still argue that anyone who professes to be a “Jew” is a “Christ killer” although they have no idea of the diversity of Jewish sects existing in our world today and have no idea G-d’s definition of a “true Jew.” This misconception and hateful attitude exist even though YVH/Yahshua defines what it means to be a “true Jew” in the B’rit Chadashah (“New” Testament) in the Book of Romans and in the Book of Revelation!
But G-d does not mince His words (Ex. 34:27) “Write these words down, because they are the terms of the covenant I have made with you and with Israel”. In Ex. 34:18-26 G-d commands observance of Pesach, Shabbat (again), redemption of the first born, Shavuot and Sukkot (verse 22). He demands the best firstfruits of our bounty to be brought into His house. He demands compassion (verse 26). It is enough for us to tell people who confront us that the reason we do not celebrate the aforementioned holidays is because G-d forbids it. If we are given opportunity to expound on our rationale for our behavior and choices, we need to be armed with the truth of Torah and share it with compassion and constraint. Remember, we may never know what far reaching effects our words and actions may have on those with whom we may interact, and we may never see these individuals again.
The reading from Numbers describes the additional offerings to be made along with the regular morning burnt offering. For seven days the food of the offering made by fire to Adonai, a fragrant aroma for Adonai; it is to be offered in addition to the regular burnt and drink offering. On the seventh day we are directed to have It is interesting that seven lambs are to be sacrificed for this additional offering, one each day along with the other offerings. Messianic Jews understand the symbology in this passage in that Yahshua was our Paschal Lamb, gentle and silent as He was led to the sacrificial stake. Similarly, lambs are innocent and gentle. This sacrifice would be a stark reminder to future generations of the One who was without leaven(sin) for whom the seven-day festival of Unleavened Bread is attributed. The seven-day timeframe represents spiritual perfection; eating bread without leaven, concentrating on G-d’s Torah which is perfect and the learning opportunities along our journey so that we may refine our lives to reflect contentment through G-d’s provision (manna) in our wilderness journey just as He provided for the Israelites on their journey away from Egypt to the Land.
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:1-14
This narrative describes the resurrection of the “whole house of Israel.” So, we must ask ourselves, who is the “whole house of Israel?” It is certainly not Christians or others who do not follow the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Let’s explore this so that we may know if we are included in these “dry bones” that will be given new life and placed in the Land promised to G-d’s people so long ago.
The prophecy of one stick in G-d’s hand is composed of Y’hudah and those joined with him among the people of Israel, and another stick that says, “ For Yosef, the stick of Efrayim, and all the house of Israel who are joined with him.” These sticks are to be brought together, grafted into one stick in G-d’s hand. It is important to read the next verses to see who G-d is talking about to Ezekiel. In chapter 37;21 and forward “Adonai Elohim says: ‘ I will take the people of Israel from among the nations where they have gone and gather them from every side and bring them back to their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them. They will no longer be two nations, and they will never again be divided into two kingdoms. They will never again defile themselves with their idols, their detestable things, or any of their transgressions; but I will save them from all the places where they have been living and sinning; and I will cleanse them, so that they will be my people, and I will be their G-d.’”
The “dry bones” that are given new life, cleansed, and returned to the land are all who carry the testimony of Yahshua and Guard the Commands of HaShem (G-d). These two requirements for anyone who wants to be considered as part of the Bride of Yahshua are found in seven places in the book of Revelation phrased a little differently in each verse. This is known as the Seven-fold Witness. These verses are Revelation 1:2; 1:9;6:9; 12:17; 14:12; 15:3; 20:4.
John chapter 14 and Romans chapters 1-3 provide very clear descriptions of who “all Israel” or “real Jews” are according to G-d’s definition. We must get away from the acculturation we may have been holding onto that would make us believe that “all Israel: means only biological Jews only people living in Israel. This is biblically incorrect and dangerous if we are misled to use this misinformation on which to base our values and beliefs.
A wonderful place to start learning the truth of the Bible from the Hebrew in which it was written before it was adulterated into other versions is to attend a Passover Seder service, investigate all if the mandated festivals of G-d which are readily available in scripture, and search out the true pagan origins of the Easter celebration. The reader is encouraged to visit our website at http://www.rabdavis.org and explore articles related to this subject.
May the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob be honored by those who are learning and striving to live the commands/instructions of G-d in His Torah just as we are commanded in Deuteronomy 6:4-11
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart