Blog Scripture Readings for 8-2 Through 8-8-20

Aside

Parashat Eikev — Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25
Haftarah — Isaiah 49:14 – 51:3
Prophets — Ezekiel 35:1 – 41:26
Writings — Nehemiah 11:1 – 13:31; 1 Chronicles 1:1 – 3:24
Testimony — Ephesians 4:1 – 6:24; Philippians 1:1 – 4:23

Our annual Scripture Reading Schedule for 2019-2020 with daily readings is available to download and print. If you are still working through 2018-2019’s Scripture Reading Schedule, the link will still be available on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links”. If you are using a mobile device or tablet, the link may be below, meaning you’ll need to scroll down instead.

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.

Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 8/2 through 8/8/2020.

 

Deuteronomy 11—Love and Obedience to YHVH Is Rewarded

Deuteronomy 11:1, Love YHVH … and keep …his commandments.Compare this verse with what Yeshua said in John 14:15. When we understand that Yeshua is “YHVH your Elohim” does that not give us a new perspective about not only who Yeshua was/is, but his teachings in the Gospels? Does this shed new light on the issue when Paul said to “follow me as I follow the Messiah” (1 Cor 11:1)? What did Paul mean by this? Was Paul really pro-Torah?

Deuteronomy 11:8, That you may be strong.Obeying YHVH by keeping his Torah-commandments keep us strong. Strong is the Hebrew word chazaq meaning “to be strong, grow strong, to prevail, to be firm, be caught fast, be secure; to grow stout, grow rigid, to restore to strength, give strength, sustain, encourage, make bold, encourage, to repair, to withstand.”

Deuteronomy 11:13, If you will hearken. Stale versus fresh manna. In the Hebrew, this phrase literally reads, “If hearken, you will hearken….” Rashi (the Medieval Jewish Torah scholar) interprets the double usage of this verb to mean, “If [you] listen to the old, you will listen to the new” meaning that if one listens to what one has already learned by taking care to review and understand it, one will gain new insights or fresh insights into the Torah (The ArtScroll Sapirstein Edition Rashi—Devarim, p. 110; The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 995). 

What does this teach us about studying YHVH’s Word consistently and regularly? YHVH gave the Israelites fresh (not stale) manna every day, even as he watered the land of Israel with the early (fall) and latter (spring) rains (a symbol for spiritual refreshment), so that the land would be fruitful without the need of man-made irrigation systems. Manna and rain both came from heaven and are used as figures of speech Hebraically to represent Torah-truth. 

Is your life being renewed regularly with fresh revelation and insights into the Word of YHVH, into his very heart and character? Does this not refresh, nourish and sustain the ground of your life, so that it yields an abundant spiritual crop of joy, shalom, intimacy with the Father and anointing? Is your life a place of fresh manna and constant rain, or a place of stale bread and drought? If so, what changes do you need to make in your life to change this situation?

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Why did YHVH not cut out the second set of stone tablets?

What does the human heart have to do with the two tablets of stone upon which YHVH wrote his commandments?

Deuteronomy 10:1–2, Hew…two tablets…I will write. The first set of tablets YHVH not only hewed out himself but he also wrote on them the ten statements (Exod 24:12; 31:18; 32:16), while YHVH had Moses hew out the second set of tablets upon which YHVH then wrote the ten statements. Why didn’t YHVH hew out the second set of tablets as he had done with the first ones? 

One reason is this. The two stone tablets are symbols of the human heart which is divided into two main sections: the left and right ventricles. In Scripture, the heart represent the essence of a person’s moral character and mind (Exod 9:7; Deut 30:6; Job 38:36; Pss 44:21; 64:6; Prov 12:20; 14:33; 15:14; Jer 9:26; 17:9, 10; Matt 12:34; 15:19; Acts 2:37; Rom 10:10; 1 Cor 2:9; Heb 4:12; 1 Pet 3:4). The human heart can be hard, like stone (Job 41:24; Ezek 11:19; 36:26; 2 Cor 3:3) or soft like flesh (2 Cor 3:3 cp. Acts 2:37; Heb 8:10; 10:16). It is upon the human heart that YHVH writes his laws (Ps 40:8; Jer 31:33; Ezek 11:19–20; 2 Cor 3:3; Heb 8:10; 10:16). 

When YHVH creates a person, he initially embeds in the human heart or conscience a basic concept of morality or of right and wrong, that is, the basic tenets of his laws (Rom 2:14–15 cp. 2 Cor 5:11). 

Once sin comes into a person’s life and a person choose to go against the laws of Elohim that he has written in their as yet undefiled heart, they are a pure vessel like the first set of stone tablets that YHVH made and upon which he wrote his laws. 

However, when sin enters a person’s life and they go against their conscience or the laws that YHVH wrote on their hearts when they were created, man’s heart becomes defiled and hardened by sin. 

At some point along the way, a person has to make a choice to either remain in his sin-hardened heart condition, or yield to the conviction of the Spirit of Elohim (John 16:8), and be cut to the heart and repent of his sin (Acts 2:37). If a person makes the latter choice, then YHVH will give the person a new or circumcised heart upon which he will write his laws anew. 

However the choice to change from a stoney heart to a heart of flesh is that of the person. That’s why YHVH had Moses cut out the second set of tablets upon which YHVH then wrote his laws again. 

The children of Israel are a biblical metaphor representing each of us. YHVH gave Israel his laws at Mount Sinai, and when they then sinned at the golden calf, their hearts became hardened against Elohim. They then had to repent of their sin, and make the choice to obey YHVH’s commandments. This was represented by the second set of tablets upon which YHVH wrote his laws again, but this time on a heart of flesh. After the sin of the golden calf, Israel remained faithful to Elohim until after the death of Joshua (Josh 24:31; Judg 2:2). Similarly, each of us was created as a pure, undefiled and sin-free vessel at the time of our birth. Eventually we committed our first sin and we went downhill spiritually from there. At some point, we became awakened to our sinful state and chose to repent of our sin and submitted ourselves to obey the Word of Elohim (Yeshua the Messiah) and receive his Spirit. That’s when YHVH wrote on the second set of stone tablets and began to write his laws on our hearts again.

 

Yeshua in Us IS the Power to Obey the Torah

Judaism and religious text concept with a Torah on white background

Philippians 1:11, The fruits of righteousness which are by Yeshua the Messiah.

What is righteousness? Scripture equates righteousness with as having something to do all of YHVH’s Torah-commandments.

My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness. (Ps 119:172)

In this verse in Paul’s epistle to the saints in Philippi, Paul refers to “the fruits of righteousness by Yeshua the Messiah.” What does this mean? Let’s discuss this and discover what it has to do with us.

First, let’s establish an important fact. It is impossible for any human to obey YHVH’s high standards of Torah-righteousness on his own strength as Yeshua’s encounter with the rich young ruler proves (Matt 19:16–22). When the young man asked Yeshua what he must do to have eternal life, Yeshua seems to set the man up for a fall when he declares, “If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Yeshua is not being disingenuous here. Were one to keep the Torah perfectly without sinning, hypothetically, one would not fall under the death penalty for violating the laws of Elohim (i.e. sin). Presumably one could earn eternal life by one’s own good works. But no man has ever accomplished this superhuman feat except the superhuman Yeshua! Continuing, when the young ruler proudly declares his perfect Torah obedience, Yeshua shows him that he was, in fact, violating the Torah in at least one area—covetousness and greed. Yeshua shows him how to come into Torah compliance, and then admonishes him to come and to follow him. What Yeshua is teaching here is that it’s impossible to keep the Torah perfectly without factoring Yeshua, the Living Torah, into the equation. The point that we can’t keep the Torah without Yeshua directly intervening in our lives, I hope to conclusively demonstrate below.

One way that Yeshua helps his followers to obey the Torah is by sending them his divine Spirit as an internal spiritual force into our hearts to nudge and lead us into Torah-obedience. 

What’s more, Yeshua also gives his people the divine gift of his grace to accomplish the same thing. His grace removes the guilt, stain and penalties for our past sins, and with a clear conscience and a clean spiritual slate before YHVH, minus the past baggage of sin weighing us down, we are able to go forward under the power of YHVH’s Spirit to walk in accordance with his Torah. Praise Yeshua! An illustration of this would be a runner who trains wearing a backpack filled with rocks. Once the weight is removed from his back, when he runs, he feels as if he were flying through the air. 

Our faith in, love for and continual abiding in Yeshua is the key to receiving his systemic spiritual empowerment to walk a life that mirrors Yeshua. Paul invites us to imitate Yeshua as he himself imitated Yeshua (1 Cor 11:1). The word Christian means “one who follows what Christ did and taught.” One follows Yeshua by abiding in him as a branch abides in or is attached to a vine (John 15:4–5). A branch that is attached to a tree naturally, through no effort of its own, receives energy from the tree and produces fruit. The energy of life just naturally flows into the branch. When we abide in Yeshua, we will naturally produce the fruit of the Spirit. Love is the first and foremost fruit out of which all the other fruits subdivide. How do we walk in love toward YHVH and love toward our neighbor? The biblical answer is simple: by keeping his Torah commandment, which show us how to love. As Paul tersely declares, “Love is the fulfilling of the Torah-law” (see Rom 13:8–10). 

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What does Elohim require of us?

Deuteronomy 10:11, Begin your journey. At the beginning of their journey to the Promised Land, the children of Israel had a divine encounter with Elohim. This experience that occurred at the start of their trek across the wilderness marked the beginning of a spiritual relationship with their Creator. To be sure, it was an intense, emotional experience where Elohim revealed himself to them, but as is the case with any relationship human or divine, this was a starting place for them, or a spiritual launch pad into a new way of life. This new relationship carried with it responsibilities and requirements. Paul declares, that what happened to the Israelites was for OUR learning and admonition (1 Cor 10:11; Rom 15:40). 

So what can we learn from this? Simply this. When we had our first encounter with Elohim at the beginning of our spiritual journey, this wasn’t just a one time event where we experienced an emotional high and had a brief period of spiritual enlightenment occurring and then we went from there unchanged. No! YHVH Elohim revealed himself to us so that our lives would be transformed, changed and so that we could enter into a special relationship with him. For example, when one gets married, life changes. There are new responsibilities and duties to maintain the marital relationship. One’s life doesn’t continue as before. It changes dramatically. The same was true for the Israelites after encountering the Creator of the universe at Mount Sinai, and the same thing occurs with us when we encounter Elohim at the beginning of our spiritual journey en route to the Promised Land of our spiritual inheritance. 

So what does our Creator require of us from the beginning of our spiritual journey through the wilderness of this life? The exact same thing he required of the children of Israel. Moses answers this question in the next two verses. Elohim’s standards of righteousness and obedience have never changed from then until now.

Deuteronomy 10:12–13, What does YHVH your Elohim require of you? These two verses lay out the five fundamental things that YHVH requires of us. 

Fear YHVH your Elohim. The two levels or types of fear explained. There are two aspects or levels of fearing Elohim. The higher of the two is the sense of awe and reverence we should have for him simply because of who he is, and that is what Moses calls for here. Such fear is easy to imagine, hard to walk out. This type of fear involves loving Elohim because of who he is; therefore, we want to obey him because it pleases him (not to mention that it will bring great blessings upon us).

The second fear, and the lesser of the two, is the fear of physical punishment because of disobedience to YHVH (The ArtScroll Kestenbaum Edition Tikkun, p. 433). When the higher fear fails to be a significant motivating dynamic in our lives, we are likely to experience the lower type of fear birthed out the so-called “school of hard knocks” or the consequences of our sinful actions. If this type of fear causes us to wake up from our spiritual stupor and we correct the error of our ways, then we can come back to the higher level of fear—obeying YHVH because we love and revere him. Sadly, it seems that few humans ever figure out these fundamental spiritual principles and make it to the higher level.

If we walk constantly in a loving reverence of Elohim, we will keep his commandment because we love him (John 14:15, 21), because he is Elohim and it’s our duty to serve and obey him, and, lastly, because we don’t want to come upon us the consequences that disobedience brings. 

How can we achieve the greater level of fear and maintain it as a constant force operating in our lives that helps to keep us on the straight and narrow path of righteousness, while at the same time walking in intimacy with the Father? This can only occur through a relationship with Yeshua and the work of his Set-Apart Spirit who has written YHVH’s Torah on our hearts.

Deuteronomy 10:16, Circumcise … the …heart. (q.v. Lev 26:41; Deut 30:6; Jer 4:4; Rom 2:29) Are you shocked to find that Paul did not originate the concept of heart circumcision? What does it mean to have a circumcised heart? What other concepts that you’ve heard taught were innovations of Paul actually originated in the Torah? How about salvation by grace and the concept of a loving, merciful and gracious Elohim?

Deuteronomy 10:17, Elohim.The name Elohim denotes YHVH’s omnipotence (that he is all powerful), and that he is over and controls every other power in existence. But as the The ArtScroll Tikkun points out, in this scripture that this word is used with reference to anything or anyone imbued with power—real or imagined—over others. Thus elohim can refer to judges (Exod 21:6), to a master (Exod 7:1) or even to idols (Deut 5:7, p. 433). Note that in Deuteronomy YHVH himself uses the “sacred name” elohim to refer to idols. What does this teach us about the use of “sacred names”? Because the pagans have appropriated one of the names or titles of YHVH for idolatrous practices this does not mean that his people cannot continue to use it in worshipping him. It is not the name that is the important issue here, rather the object of our affection.

 

Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Company Explained

Ephesians 4:11, He gave some to be apostles. Did the so-called five-fold ministry offices cease after the New Testament era, or do they continue function in the body of Yeshua to this day? In our day, most people agree that the ministries of the evangelist, teacher and pastor are still in operation today, but many say that the offices of apostles and prophet have ceased to operate. Yet in verse 13, we read that these offices would operate “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah…,” which hasn’t happened yet. Therefore, it would stand to reason, that all these ministry offices are still needed today.

He. It must be kept in mind that Yeshua is the epitome of and over all (authoritatively) ministry offices that follow in this verse. When we ascended to heaven, he spread his own abilities out, as it were, among those he called to be leaders over his spiritual flock below (see Eph 4:8). Collectively, these ministry offices should be doing the work that Yeshua himself would be doing were he here on this earth presently.

Apostles. In addition to the twelve original apostles (including Matthias who replaced Judas Iscariot, Acts 1:26), here is a list of the other apostles, which might be called Yeshua’s ascension-gift apostles (Eph 4:8):

  • James, the half brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem church (Gal 1:19)
  • Barnabas (Acts 14:14)
  • Paul (e.g. Acts 14:14)
  • Apollos (1 Cor 4:6–9)
  • Timothy and Silvanus (1 Thess 1:1 and 2:6)
  • Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25)
  • Titus, and other un-named apostles—at least two (2 Cor 8:23)
  • Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7)
  • Yeshua is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession (Heb 3:1)
  • Including Judas Iscariot, this makes a total of at least 26 apostles who are mentioned in the Testimony of Yeshua. 

With this list in mind, it now becomes logical to divide the apostles into at least three categories or level. Yeshua is the Chief Apostle. The original 12 that Yeshua appointed (minus Judas Iscariot) and possibly Paul would be the next tier. They are the foundational apostles. Yeshua mentions that the 12 apostles will rule over the 12 tribes of Israel and that the 12 foundations of the New Jerusalem are named after the 12 apostles (Rev 21:14). It seems that Yeshua commissioned these foundational apostles in direct, face-to-face encounters. After this come the lowest tier or ascension-gift apostles (Eph 4:8), which are all the other apostles.

Apostle Defined

Apostolos means “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.” According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, apostolos originally was a military or naval term relating to an expeditionary force that was sent out or dispatched. It came to be applied to a band of soldiers, or colonists and their settlement as well as to the commander of the expedition or an admiral. A common feature of all the definitions of the word was its passive character. In none of the definitions is there any suggestion of initiative on the part of the apostle. The word denotes the quality of being sent. In the New Testament, apostolos always denotes a man who is sent with full authority and is synonymous with the Hebrew word shaliach as is evidenced in John 13:16. Here is a legal term relating to one who is lawfully charged to represent the person and cause of another. This meaning is confirmed by the juxtaposition in this verse of the Greek words doulos/kurios and apostolos/pemptsas. Here the servant (doulos) stands under full jurisdiction of his master (kurios) and derives from him all that he is. Apostolos also denotes the “commissioned representative of a congregation” (Acts 13:2ff). Finally, the term signifies the “bearers or proclaimers of the NT message.” The latter meaning applied to not only the original twelve apostles that Yeshua commissioned and sent out, but to the first Christian missionaries or their most prominent representatives (Acts 14:4, 14). According to Paul, the apostles (1 Cor 12:28f) aren’t officials of the congregation, nor the chief of such officials, but are officers of Yeshua by whom the church is built (ibid. vol 1, p. 407ff). 

Attributes of an Apostolic Ministry 

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Why does Elohim/God allow “bad” things to happen to “good” people?

Deuteronomy 8:2–3, 6ff, YHVH afflicted/humbled you. Does the concept of YHVH afflicting his people bother you? Perhaps he will do this to us if and when we need it. The word afflict/anah (Strong’s H6031) literally means “to become low, depressed, put down or stoop.” (Note some other places where anah is used: Pss 55:19; 88:7; 90:15; 119:71, 75.) Scripture says that Israel exited Egypt with “a high hand/upraised arm” (Exod 14:8 and Num 33:3). The word high/upraised can connote haughtiness or arrogance, or it can mean that the children left Egypt triumphantly and in jubilation waving banners (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 369). What do you think? Did they leave Egypt in a spirit of contrition or arrogance? If the latter, then perhaps, in YHVH’s eyes, they need some humbling. 

Are we any different? Do we need to be humbled? Down through the ages, YHVH has allowed his servants to suffer, but it was for their spiritual growth and benefit. What did Paul say about his thorn in the flesh? (See 2 Cor 12:7.) Why did Job experience what he did? (Read Job 42.) The process of humbling us so that we might have a higher view of YHVH, and a lower view of ourselves is not a bad thing!When we become contrite and humble before YHVH and more dependent on him, the blessings, power, anointing and provision of YHVH are able to flow into our lives more readily.

How has YHVH been trying to humble your flesh that he might bring you to a deeper level spiritually? The ArtScroll Chumash comments, “It is true that Elohim subjected the people to some hardships in the wilderness, but even that was for their good; just as a father may chastise his child to prepare him for the future” (p. 983). Consider this issue in light of the sufferings of YHVH’s servants while they were faithfully awaiting their spiritual inheritance as recorded in Hebrews 11. (Compare this with Jas 1:12–17 and 1 Cor 3:13.) Also consider the two types of judgments of YHVH as recorded in Scripture: his judgments unto repentance and his judgments unto death. What are some examples of each? If YHVH’s saints stay close to him spiritually, they won’t have to go through the latter type of judgment. (Examples: Noah and the flood; Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah; the Israelites in the plagues on Egypt; the saints and the tribulation, the great tribulation versus the wrath of Elohim periods at the end of the age [these are three separate time periods or events]; see also Heb 12:3–11). 

Why did YHVH have to afflict the children of Israel? This is because the Scriptures tell us that Israel left Egypt with “an high hand.”

And YHVH hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand. (Eoxd 14:8)

And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians. (Num 33:3)

“An high hand” in Hebrew is the word ruhm meaning “to rise, rise up, be high, be lofty, be exalted.” Human pride is anathema and an abomination to YHVH Elohim:

These six things doth YHVH hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood… (Prov 6:16–17)

On the other hand, we elsewhere read,

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, Elohim resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (Jas 4:6)

For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith YHVH: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. (Isa 66:2)

Deuteronomy 8:2–3, Humbled you…tested you……allowed you to hunger. This verse reveals that YHVH tested, humbled and even allowed the children of Israel to suffer privation on their long trek through the wilderness. This has led some people to wonder what kind of a Being the Israelites were serving that he would do this to his people. A cruel or loving one?

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