Most of this week’s blog discussion points will be on these passages. If you have general comments or questions on the weekly Scripture readings not addressed in a blog post, here’s a place for you to post those. Just use the “leave a reply” link or the “share your thoughts” box below.
The full “Read Through The Scriptures In A Year” schedule, broken down by each day, can be found on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links.” There are 4 sections of scripture to read each day: one each from the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and from the Testimony of Yeshua. Each week, the Torah and haftarah readings will follow the traditional one-year reading cycle.
* Verse numbers in parenthesis refer to the verse number in Christian English Bibles when they differ from Hebrew Bibles or the Tanakh.
Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 12/8/19 through 12/14/19.
This encounter between Yeshua and this demon-possessed individual teaches us about the characteristics of one who is tormented, oppressed or even possessed by a demon or an evil, unclean spirit.
One with an unclean spirit is “unclean in thought and life” (Mark 5:2).
Such an individual may have a pre-occupation with things relating to death and dying (Mark 5:3).
They may possess superhuman strength thanks to the aid of the demon in them (Mark 5:4).
They may act wild, and unable to be restrained (Mark 5:4).
They may be prone to fits of shouting loudly (Mark 5:5), shrieking or making a shrill cry (Mark 9:18).
They may cut themselves, or resort to other acts of self-mutilation (Mark 5:5) or self destruction (e.g. burning oneself by fire, Matt 17:15; Mark 9:22), or attempts at drowning (Mark 9:22).
The demoniac may possess supernatural knowledge (Mark 5:7).
The demon can speak through the demonized person (Mark 5:7), or cry out (Mark 9:26).
A demonic spirit wants to possess or inhabit something; if not a human, then an animal (Mark 5:12), or a house, an objects like idols or books (Acts 19:19; Rev 13:15) or even a mechanical device or “matrix” (e.g. the image of the beast in Rev 13:13–14).
They may be clothed improperly or scantily (Mark 5:15).
They will not a possess a “right [sound, self-controlled, sober]” mind (Mark 5:15).
A demonic or an unclean spirit may cause convulsions or spasmodic contractions, bodily contortions within a person, or cause a person to be hurled to the ground (Mark 1:25; 9:18, 20) resulting in one wallowing or rolling around on the ground (Mark 9:20).
Epileptic-type seizures or madness can be symptoms of demon possession (Matt 17:15).
A demoniac may foam at the mouth (Mark 9:18, 20).
A demoniac may grind or gnash their the teeth (Mark 9:18)
A demonic spirit can cause one’s body to waste away, dry up or become rigid (Mark 9:18).
Demonic spirits can accompany people as they come into the congregation of YHVH (Mark 1:23; Luke 4:33).
A demonic spirit can make one to be mute or unable to speak (Mark 9:17).
How does one deal with a demon or demonic influence in a person? The short answer is this: Preach the gospel to them, and if they believe in Yeshua the Messiah, then, in the name of Yeshua, cast the demon out of them (Mark 16:15–17). Remember these Scripture promises:
Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. (Luke 9:1)
How to Deal With a Demonic Spirit in Yourself or Someone Else
I hear many Christian Bible prophecy teachers talk about Jacob’s Trouble and tie it into their eschatological speculations about the pre-trib rapture, Daniel’s 70th week and on and on. Most of them seem to simply be regurgitating what others before them, who are ignorant of the Torah and who really don’t know much about the Tanakh have said. They don’t even know who the descendants of Jacob are in end times Bible prophecy. So how can they even hope to come to an understanding of this subject? It’s the blind leading the blind!
A few years ago, I did an in depth study on the subject of Jacob’s Trouble. I went into the study with no preconceived ideas except only to let the Bible speak for itself. The following is what was revealed to me. — Natan
Genesis 32:1–32, Jacob’s trouble explained.
Jacob’s Trouble, His Dark Night of the Soul and End Times Prophecy
Genesis 32 is the story of Jacob’s return to Canaan after having been exiled from his homeland for 20 years. His exile occurred after he obtained his divinely promised birthright through shrewd if not unscrupulous means from his brother Esau resulting in his having to flee Canaan for fear of his life due to Esau’s vengeance. Jacob found refuge in the region of Babylonia at his Uncle Laban’s home where he married Laban’s two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Eventually, Jacob had to flee Babylon with Laban in angry pursuit. As Jacob and his family are returning to Canann, they encounter Jacob’s brother Esau who, along with his small army, physically stood in Jacob’s way from entering the land of his promised inheritance and wanted to kill Jacob.
This account is not only the story of Jacob’s personal, spiritual struggles, but it also has end times prophetic implications relating to the regathering out of exile of the twelve tribes of Israel (the Jews and the Christians) and their return to their Promised Land in Israel under Yeshua their Messiah at his second coming. The Scriptures refer to this as Jacob’s Trouble (see Jer 30:7).
The Jewish sages believe that the encounter between Jacob and Esau (no doubt informed by Jeremiah’s prophecy) is prophetic in nature and will happen again in the end times, but this time on a much larger scale and this time involving the numerous descendants of Israel and Esau. The end-times Israelites will be attempting to return to their ancestral homeland, while the descendants of Esau will be blocking their way. As we proceed in this study, we will see whether this prophecy is beginning to come to pass in these last days.
Not only this, the Jewish sages speak of two major redemptions in Israel’s long history. The first redemption occurred when YHVH delivered the oppressed and enslaved children of Israel out of Egypt at the exodus. The second or final redemption will occur at the end of this present era when the Messiah will regather and lead his exiled and scattered Israelite people back to the Promised Land in fulfillment of numerous biblical prophecies.
Rolling the film backwards a little in the present story of Jacob, Laban had chased Jacob out of the area of Babylon, and yet Jacob was being blocked from entering Canaan by his murderous brother Esau (or Edom meaning “red”). This is reminiscent of Pharaoh chasing the Israelites out of Egypt only to find themselves blocked by the Red Sea, which is a prophetic picture of Edom. In both instances, YHVH’s people were forced to rely totally on him for deliverance from their enemies who were in front of and behind them.
Initially, Jacob deals with the crisis in a typically human way—by scheming and conniving instead of having faith in YHVH to work things out. He figured that by bribing angry and bloodthirsty Esau with wave after wave of gifts, he might appease Esau and assuage his brother’s desire for revenge (Gen 32:13–20).
Yet Jacob’s dual response to his present danger by resorting to both appeasement and prayer was not acceptable to YHVH who wanted Jacob to be a man of unmitigated faith—to solely trust in him. To bring Jacob to this point, a part of Jacob had to die. His prideful self-reliance to extricate himself from difficult situations had to die. This tendency was based on fear of death, and not on faith in YHVH. For Jacob to mature spiritually, YHVH wanted Jacob to leave his aspect of his human nature on the east side of the Jordan where Babylon (a spiritual metaphor for the old spiritual man and the ungodly ways of this world) was located. In its place, a spiritually-oriented man who would totally trust YHVH in all things had to rise up; Jacob could no longer trust in his soul man (i.e. his mind, will and emotions) to dictate his actions; he had to rely on the Spirit of Elohim to lead him through his personal spirit. Only a man of faith who was might in the Spirit would be worthy to enter the Promised Land. As Jacob had to discover, the old soul-reliant man, however, would not die without a fight as we are about to see.
Genesis 31:43,These daughters are my daughters. Laban claims that Jacob’s wives and children belonged to him. Laban was also steeped in the idolatry of Babylon having in his possession idols or images called teraphim (Gen 31:19, 34–35), which were legal symbols of his wealth, since they were actual title deeds to his property. The gods of one’s property also acted as good luck charms insuring the land’s prosperity. This is a picture of social and economic grip that end times Babylon attempts to exert upon the modern descendants of Jacob. What can we learn from this lesson in Jacob’s life?
Modern Babylon and its Labans want to control and possess the wives and children of the end times saints or the redeemed Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16). This it does by attempting to indoctrinate them in its pagan religious system, and then by keeping Jacob’s modern descendants (Christians and Jews) from returning to their spiritual and physical homeland and birthright inheritance, and from returning to the Torah-faith of their fathers. Aren’t governmental institutions (e.g. public educational institutions and state and federal Child Protective Services agencies, social welfare programs, various government regulations that have greatly diminished or eliminated many of our personal freedoms along with Elohim-given parental rights), socio-political organizations (e.g. ACLU, UN, many NGOs) and greedy corporate systems (e.g. banks and financial institutions) that enslave people through debt, corrupters of our food supplies that destroy people’s health into our foods (e.g. the additions of chemicals preservatives and taste enhancers, genetically modified food, the use of chemical pesticides that find their way into the foods we eat), pharmaceutical companies and the mainstream medical establishment that enslaves and destroys people’s minds and bodies through drugs the modern-day Labans who want to kill, steal and destroy for the benefit of money, power and control? Affirmatively yes!
Revelation 18:13 says that end times Babylon the Great will traffic in the bodies and souls of men. This is likely a reference to the trafficking in human body parts (for medical purposes, no doubt) and the enslavement of men’s hearts and minds (through drugs and chemicals).
All of these things speak at some level to the modern day enslavement of people including their religious expression, freedom of thought and action.
In these end times, the saints of Elohim must protect themselves and their loved ones from the idols and the evil machinations of the Elohim-hating, devil worshiping idolators around them, even as Jacob, in order to protect his loved ones, had to flee Babylon and Laban.
Let us not forget John’s closing words in his first epistle: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21). An idol is anything that gets between us and Elohim, and which moves us downward and away from him on our spiritual path instead of upward and closer to him.
Laban and Balaam. It is quite possible that the false prophet Balaam, who heard from YHVH and had a sense of righteousness, though was still steeped in paganism, was a descendant of Laban. Both Laban and Balaam were from Aram (part of greater Babylon) and only 280 years separated them. One of the Aramaic Targums (Targum Jonathan) equates Balaam with Laban, while other Jewish scholars view Balaam as Laban’s grandson. Both were involved in a mixed-religious system in that they had some truth and some error, some good and some evil. This is the nature of religious Babylon (meaning “mixture” or “confusion”). A mixture of what? Of good and evil. Remember the tree by that name in the Garden of Eden? Who was the one who enticed man to indulge in that fruit in rebellion to YHVH’s commands?
Mark 3:2–5, Healing on the Sabbath. The Pharisees’ attitude toward Sabbath observance versus their lack of concern for the man with the withered hand demonstrates that those who have a legalistic and punctilious view of the Torah usually possess hard hearts toward those in need, and have difficulty showing love and compassion.
While emphasizing the letter-of-the-law obedience, Torah legalists miss the heart and spirit of the law.
Yeshua teaches that mercy is an aspect of the greater Torah (Matt 23:23), as does Paul (1 Cor 13). James tersely states the same concept: “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (NKJV, NAS). In many places, the Scriptures teach that judgment must be balanced, even tempered, by mercy (e.g. Pss 85:10; 89:14; Jer 9:24).
While adhering to the wonderful principles of YHVH’s Torah and loving Yeshua by keeping is commandments, don’t forget to do so in mercy and love—especially with regard to those around you, who are watching your example. After all, the example of your life may be the only Bible that they’re reading!
Genesis 28:1–22 and 29:1,Jacob’s journeys. Jacob was fleeing from his spiritual home, Beth-el or House of El, and was heading east some 500 miles on foot as a lone traveler and fugitive en route to Babylon (definitely not the House of El). What is the spiritual and prophetic significance of this? What is there for us to learn?
The same Scriptures elsewhere refers prophetically to Babylon as “the habitation of devils and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (Rev 18:2). Through his own human effort, Jacob had connived to procure the birthright blessing and in so doing had stepped out of the will of YHVH by trusting in himself instead of having faith in divine Providence to bring about YHVH’s perfect and blessed will for his life.
But YHVH is gracious and often blesses us in spite of our human foibles and weaknesses. For example, YHVH had been gracious to Isaac earlier when he stepped out of YHVH’s perfect will for his life in attempting to flee Canaan for Egypt by graciously comforted him and redirecting his steps (Gen 26:1–6). Likewise, YHVH met the lonely Jacob and encouraged him at the outset of his long journey, for in Genesis 29:1 we read, “Jacob lifted up his feet and came into the land of the people of the east” (KJV, marginal reference).
What can we learn about the ways of YHVH from these examples? Are you in tune with his methods of operation in the life of the believer? The more we study the word of YHVH, and the examples of the lives of those showcased therein, the more we can learn about our own lives. So study the recorded events about the lives of YHVH’s servants of old to learn wisdom for your daily life and spiritual walk. In so doing, you will learn how to stay in YHVH’s will for your life, and when you a happen to get out of his will, you will become aware of his mercy and grace.
Are you resting and abiding in the House of El or struggling in Babylon or somewhere in between?
As believers in and disciples and imitators of Yeshua, we endeavor to follow the example of how he lived. This isn’t easy to do, for Yeshua experienced much that we as normal humans who prefer the comfort zones of our existence would rather not go through.
Yet, we must all face the stark reality: There is no gain where there is no pain. Every body-builder and athlete knows this. That means to be like Yeshua we will have to endure and overcome trials, suffering, resistance, hardships, persecution and growth pains. This is part of growing up spiritually.
The great thing is that Yeshua is there to help us along the journey with the help of his word and example. He also didn’t leave us comfortless—without the Helper of his Set-Apart Spirit to guide, strengthen and succor us along the way.
It is interesting to note the order of events as Yeshua was launching his ministry. He was about to enter a war zone! After John baptized Yeshua and he received his heavenly empowerment (Mark 1:9–11), he first went through a spiritual boot camp before stepping onto the battlefield of public ministry. Once in the “war,” it’s worth noting where the battle lines fell.
Now let’s take a look at what Yeshua had to go through to prepare him to be all that the Father wanted him to be, so that he could be a river of life to the world. This is an example for us to follow.
Yeshua’s spiritual boot camp was the wilderness where he fasted for forty days and nights to get his body, soul and spirit, and his mind, will and emotions in sync with the will of his Father in heaven (Mark 1:12–15).
His first battle was an internal one. The devil tested him in three areas: his body, soul and spirit, or, to put it another way, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (Mark 1:13). After overcoming himself and submitting to the will of his Father, he was now ready to launch into the war zone of public ministry.
His mission was to preach the message of the gospel of the kingdom of Elohim and repentance from sin (i.e. Torahlessness, 1 John 3:4; Mark 1:14–15).
Next he chose his cadre of spiritual warriors — his “army”— the twelve disciples (Mark 1:16–20).
Where better to start proclaiming the gospel message than in the local synagogue on the Sabbath (Mark 1:21)? After all, the religious folks there should have been overjoyed to hear this good news, fresh message from heaven.
Yeshua started his ministry by reaching out to those immediately around him in the local synagogue in Capernaum (Mark 1:21).
His first recorded act, other than preaching, was to cast an unclean spirit out of someone in the local synagogue (Mark 1:21–28). Interesting. He didn’t have to go to the First Church of Satan, a witches coven, a Hindu temple, or a mosque to do this. The demons were right there in the local church!
Next, Yeshua brought miraculous physical healing to those around him starting with Peter’s mother-in-law (verses 30–31) and then going out to others from there (Mark 1:32–34). The exorcism and physical healing opened the doors for him to begin ministering to those in that city and eventually beyond to other synagogues throughout the Galilee region (verse 39). He preached the gospel, and signs and wonders followed as the kingdom of Elohim was expanded at the devil’s expense.
He continued preaching and, with compassion, healed the sick and oppressed. His ministry spread to the surrounding areas as he ministered to people at their point of need with the powerful gospel message (Mark 1:40–2:12).
It wasn’t long before Yeshua aroused the attention of the religious leaders with his controversial ministry methods that ran cross-grain to the religious establishment status quo (Mark 2:6). The scribes began to question him about his healing methods and his spiritual authority. They seemed more occupied with issues relating to religious rituals and protocols than the fact that a paralyzed man had been healed. This happens today among religious people who would rather argue more about words, doctrine, religious formulas, while they miss the whole heart and spirit of spiritual issues. Yeshua called it straining at gnats and swallowing camels.
Next the scribes and Pharisees questioned Yeshua’s associations. He didn’t fit their criteria as to how a Jewish spiritual teacher should act or with whom he should associate (Mark 2:15–17). As you are retuning to the Hebraic roots of your faith, how often have you heard the term “cult,” “Judaizer,” “legalist” or some such derisive term lobbed at you from so called Christians?
After this, the Pharisees butted heads with Yeshua over his non-ascetic lifestyle. They didn’t like the fact that he didn’t fast as often as John the Baptist (Mark 2:18–22). Again, arguing over religious protocols. One often hears, “Our denomination or church doesn’t do it that way!” How about what the Bible says?
Then the Pharisees criticized Yeshua for not observing the Sabbath according to their extra-biblical religious criteria (Mark 2:23–28). Again, its the old routine: “That’s not in accordance with what our church, denomination or the ‘historic Christian church’ teaches.” It’s the same old rhetoric. Same line, different cast of characters.
Finally, several of these controversial issues converged when the Pharisees questioned Yeshua in a synagogue on the Sabbath as to whether it was legal to perform a miraculous healing on that day or not (Mark 3:1–6). When push comes to shove, they always bring out the big guns of the supposed scholars who love to proffer their expert theological opinions. Usually it’s the traditions of men versus the Word of Elohim.
Because the religious establishment viewed Yeshua as a threatening anomaly, they begin plotting how to destroy him (Mark 3:6). Their first aggressive act against him was false accusation, and smearing him publicly by accusing him of exorcizing a lower demon through a higher and more powerful demon (Mark 3:22). The Torah prescribes the death penalty for this (Deut 13:5; 18:20). It appears that the scribes (the legal experts) from Jerusalem were coming to apprehend Yeshua for this alleged crime. His family seeing that he was at risk of being arrested, sought to take him into protective custody before the scribes could seize him. Even his own family and friends, though concerned for his well-being, thought “he was out of his mind” (Mark 3:21). Nowadays, people can’t express their hatred and disdain through physical acts of violence or murder, so they use their mouths to murder through hate speech, slander and accusation. Same old shtick! The enemies ways haven’t changed over the millennia.
From time to time, Yeshua had to withdraw from the battle zone for some spiritual rest and recuperation (Mark 1:35; 3:7, 13 cp. 1:45; 2:13). Even such a stalwart as Yeshua needed downtime occasionally to recharge his spiritual batteries. YHVH has given his end time servants the weekly Sabbath and biblical feasts as times to recharge one’s spiritual batteries by being with him and other like-minded believers. These are regular times YHVH has provided his servants to be able to rest and regroup spiritually in face of the onslaught of attacks by demonically inspired religious enemies. If one isn’t encountering such resistance, then one probably isn’t even in the battle! If so, this is the place of the unprofitable servant in Yeshua’s eyes.
Though Yeshua was the Son of Elohim and was endued with vast spiritual power, being in the ministry wasn’t easy even for him! He had to pass numerous tests, overcome imposing obstacles and opposition of all kind (even, at times, from family and friends), endure false accusations, betrayal, mocking and scorning and even flee for his life at times. His authority was questioned, he came under fire for his unconventional healing methods, his non-religious lifestyle, his questionable associations, and his controversial theology that didn’t line up with the traditions of his day. But his steadfastness to his mission was firmly established in his forty day testing period in the wilderness. There, like an immovable rock, he resolved to be faithful to his Father in heaven regardless of the attacks by the world, the flesh and the devil that were about to assail him with full force.
Should his disciples today expect anything less—unless they’re not even in the war?