Sunday, January 31, 2016

Passover in the Millennial Kingdom

This week's Torah portion is Exodus 10:1-13:16.

In this week's portion we find the account of the Passover, the event, that in many ways, defines the Jewish people. God intended this to be so. He commanded that afterwards the Passover would be kept as a reminder of the event and the Jewish people have faithfully carried out God's command.

Exodus 12:42,47-50 (KJV)
42 It is a night to be much observed unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the LORD to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.
47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.
48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof.
49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
50 Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

What is interesting to note is that it was not only Jewish people who kept the Passover, but any stranger that sojourned among the Israelites. This meant that all the mixed multitude (Exodus 12:38) that came out of Egypt and stayed with the Israelites were expected to keep the Passover. There was one stipulation, though, and that was that all the males had to be circumcised. It didn't matter if you were Jewish or not. The whole congregation was under the same law.

Since then Christianity has pretty much maintained that circumcision and the observance of the Passover are only obligations for the Jews. Yet, this poses a problem for Christians in the future if they want to participate in the Passover.

Ezekiel 44:9 (KJV)
9 Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.

Ezekiel is talking about a time future when the Temple will be rebuilt. Likely this is referring to the Millennial Kingdom that Yeshua will establish on the earth after His return. No uncircumcised man, Jewish or not, will be allowed into the Temple. This is where God will dwell again and believers will want to participate in that Temple worship. Being banned from entering would be devastating!

Ezekiel 45:21 (KJV)
21 In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.

Again, Ezekiel is referring to the Passover and when that will be observed in the Millennial Kingdom. As believers wouldn't we want to observe the Passover, too?

Even Paul seemed to be in agreement when he stated:

1 Corinthians 5:8 (KJV)
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Although Paul was comparing leavened bread with malice and wickedness, and unleavened bread with sincerity and truth, he wasn't telling them that the Passover was some spiritual allegory. He told them to observe the Passover IN THE CORRECT RIGHTEOUS MINDSET.

Circumcision and the Passover are not just for the Jews, but for all the believers who call upon the name of Yeshua.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

"I Will....."

Our Torah portion this week is Exodus 6:2-9:35.

As we have seen, God has provided sign posts along the way to point us in what direction the future will take us. These examples are called the feasts of God. Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) physically occurred during the days of Moses, but alluded to the days of our Messiah Yeshua. He died on Passover, was in the grave during the first part of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, He rose on the Feast of First Fruits, and the Holy Spirit was given on the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). However, the fall feasts have yet to be fulfilled by Messiah. They are the Feast of Trumpets, the Feast of Atonements, and the Feast of Tabernacles. (Messiah was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, so this one is actually partially fulfilled.) As believers we need to pay close attention to when these feasts occur each year. Is it possible that this is the year when we will hear the shout of the archangel and the trump of God on the Feast of Trumpets?

From our reading of Exodus this week we see that the Exodus is meant as a kind of sign post as well. A summary of what God was accomplishing can be found in Exodus 6.

Exodus 6:6-8 (KJV)
6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:
7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
8 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.

Notice the number of times that God has said, "I will ...." These are the things that God would accomplish by the Exodus. They are:

          I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
          I will rid you out of their bondage.
          I will redeem you with a stretched out arm and with great judgments.
          I will take you to me for a people.
          I will be to you a God.
          I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to                      Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage.

Often we read these statements without realizing how they apply to believers today. Just like the feasts of God, these "I wills" have been and will be fulfilled by our Messiah Yeshua.

          Yeshua will bring us out from under the burden of sin.
          Yeshua will rid us out of the bondage of sin.
          Yeshua will redeem us with a stretched out arm and with great judgments.
          Yeshua will take us for a people.
          Yeshua will be to us a God.
          Yeshua will bring us in unto the land.

When Yeshua died on the cross and rose from the dead, He defeated sin and death. When we trust in Yeshua He saves us from the burden and bondage of sin. We become free to follow and obey Him. One day Yeshua will return and will redeem us with a stretched out arm and with great judgments against Satan and the systems of the world. We will be His people and He will be our God. Finally, He will bring us into our eternal home in the new earth where we will experience everlasting life with Him.

This should bring us great joy!!! But are there other lessons and examples in the Exodus that point to Messiah Yeshua? Let's not treat the Exodus as only a good Bible story, but let's dig down deep and discover the riches that God has for us there.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

A Lie is a Lie is a Lie?

This week's Torah portion is Exodus 1:1 - 6:1.

Exodus 20:16 (KJV)
16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Proverbs 12:22 (KJV)
22 Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight.

Ephesians 4:25 (KJV)
25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.

Based on the many verses in the Bible, it seems pretty obvious that God hates lying. Yet, is there ever a time when lying is OK? In this week's Torah portion we are confronted with this very situation.

Exodus 1:15-21 (KJV)
15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:
16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.
17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.
18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?
19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.
20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.
21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives, refused to obey Pharaoah's order to kill all the male Hebrew babies. Because they feared (stood in awe of) God, they would not carry out his heinous request. But when asked about why they allowed the male children to live, they fabricated a story and in essence lied to Pharaoh. Perhaps surprisingly, God treated the midwives well and gave them households of their own. Why?

Matthew 23:23 (KJV)
23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

In Matthew we find Yeshua chastising the scribes and Pharisees for observing the law regarding the tithing of one's increase.

Leviticus 27:30 (KJV)
30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD'S: it is holy unto the LORD.

However, His complaint was not that they followed God's command, but rather that they used one law to demonstrate how scrupulously they observed Torah, while yet ignoring the weightier matters of the Torah, specifically judgment, mercy, and faith.

Micah 6:8 (KJV)
8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Yeshua's conclusion was that both needed to be done.

At another time Yeshua also taught that sometimes the weightier matters can actually take precedence over the lighter.

Mark 3:1-5 (KJV) 
1 And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand.
2 And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him.
3 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth.
4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. 
And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. 

The Hebrew midwives understood that saving the lives of the male babies was more important than telling the truth and so chose the correct path to take.

What choices are we required to make? How do we know which is the correct path? As always, our guide is the Bible, the whole Bible! It will not lead us astray.

2 Timothy 3:16 (KJV)
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:   

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

God Meant it for Good

The Torah portion this week comes from Genesis 47:28 to 50:26.

It seems lately I have been hearing and reading about how God is everything we need. He is our strength, our provider, our shield, our refuge, and so much more. These are true statements, but sometimes in our times of distress, these words don't always help.

Bad things happen to all of us. Loved ones die. Homes and jobs are lost. We sin and create disaster in our lives. But even without any sin on our part we can find ourselves in troubling situations. We can make choices that don't pan out, or they don't provide what we thought they would. We can pray for God's leading, but we still can end up in a place where we don't want to be. Sometimes we feel like we've become little Jobs. We may not have experienced all that Job went through, but find that our small portion pushes us to the end of our resources. We may pray for rescue, but find no answer. "What is God doing?" we may ask.

In Genesis 49 we read about the death of Jacob. Then in chapter 50 his sons and a large contingent from Pharaoh carry his body back to Abraham's burial place in Canaan, to the cave of the field of Machpelah. When the mourners return to Egypt, Jacob's sons are afraid. Now that their father is dead, perhaps Joseph will hate his brothers and take revenge on them for their selling him as a slave so many years earlier.

Genesis 50:16-18 (KJV)
16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.

The brothers hoped that because Jacob had commanded Joseph to forgive them, he would. They even fell down in front of him and offered to become his servants. What was Joseph's reply?

Genesis 50:19-20 (KJV)
19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

Joseph told his brothers not to fear. They had meant to do evil to Joseph, but God, in His infinite wisdom, allowed the evil to occur so that many people would be saved alive. God meant it for good!

Count the blessings that we know God has given us. Then thank Him for the times when He was our shield, our provider, and our refuge and we didn't even know it. Lastly, know that every awful thing that happens to us, God uses for good! We may not see the good, but it is there. It is hard sometimes, but we must trust in God and His working all things together for good!

Romans 8:28 (KJV)
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.