Blog Scripture Readings for 5-20 Through 5-26-18

Aside

THIS WEEK’S SCRIPTURE READINGS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION:

Parashat Nasso — Numbers 4:21 – 7:89
Haftarah — Judges 13:2-25
Prophets — Jeremiah 24:1 – 30:24
Writings — Ruth 4; Lamentations 1:1 – 5:22
Testimony — 1 John 4:1 – 5:21; 2 John; 3 John; Jude; Romans 1:1 – 2:29

Our annual Scripture Reading Schedule for 2017-2018 is available to download and print.

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 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 5/20/18 through 5/26/18. This week is the seventh week of seven complete weeks of the count of the omer.

 

What does badger skin have to do with love and Torah?

Numbers 4:6, Badger skin [Heb. tachash]. When being transported, the ark of the covenant was covered with a tachash skin, which, according to rabbinic tradition was an unusually beautiful color of turquoise blue made from the hide of a now extinct animal. According to The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, this striking color of blue invited one to keep YHVH’s Torah-commandments by clothing them in physical beauty thus showing that obedience to them would be enjoyable (p. 745). Is obeying YHVH, keeping his commands, inviting and enjoyable, or is it a burden? In 1 John 5:1–3 we read:

Whosoever believes that Yeshua is the Messiah is born of Elohim, and every one that loves him that begot loves him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous [burdensome, severe, cruel, heavy].

John the apostle clearly states that obedience to Torah is centered on love—a love relationship between man and his Creator. John, in his Gospel, records Yeshua, the Living Torah-Word of Elohim, saying,

If you love me, keep my Torah-commandments (John 14:15).

Other scriptures that say the same thing in a different way include,

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.…Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom 13:8, 10)

And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. (1 John 3:23)

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:2–3)

And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. (2 John 5–6)

 

The Healing Power of Nature

Yesterday, on Shabbat, Sandi I went for a walk in our local nature park. We just sat together listening to the sounds of nature, watching the birds, and watching the varying sunlight patterns highlight the trees in different ways. Through this, Sandi and I connected with each other, with the creation and with the Creator.

The healing and restorative value of these quiet times in nature can’t be overstated. Like taking an energizing vitamin B 12 shot, our need for spending time in nature increases as the world around us gets more frantic and crazy!

Here’s a video I did a couple of years ago on the healing power of nature. May it bless you!

 

What world religion fits the biblical definition of the spirit of antichrist?

1 John 2:18, The Antichrist. Other biblical references that many Christians scholars believe allude to the end times Antichrist figure include:

  • The Beast (Rev 13:4)
  • The abomination that causes desolation (Matt 24:15)
  • The desolator (Dan 9:27)
  • The man of sin (or lawlessness), the son of perdition (2 Thess 2:3)
  • The little horn (Dan 7:8)
  • The Assyrian (Mic 5:5; Isa 10:5; 14:25)

Many antichrists. How does John define the spirit of antichrist? From 1 John 2:18–19, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7 we learn that the Antichrist and all spirits of antichrist have come out of the first century apostolic faith of the Jewish Christian community. From these passages we also learn that the spirit of antichrist denies that Yeshua is the Messiah (Savior and Redeemer of man), denies that Yeshua is part of the “Godhead,” that he is deity and is the Son of Elohim, and denies the incarnation of Yeshua. This is how the Bible defines the spirit of antichrist.

What should be our reaction when we encounter this demonic spirit of antichrist? The wise counsel of John in his second epistle sums up our firm conviction on this matter.

Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Messiah does not have Elohim. He who abides in the doctrine of Messiah has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. (2 John 9–11)

What additionally can we learn about the person of the Antichrist and the spirit of antichrist from the four passages where antichrist is mentioned in John’s epistles?

From 1 John 2:18–19, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7 we learn that the Antichrist and all spirits of antichrist have come out of the first century apostolic faith of the Jewish Christian community. This eliminates some of the world’s large religions (e.g. Hinduism, Buddhism) as being contenders for the end times religious system of the Antichrist. That leaves paganized mainstream Christianity and Islam. From these passages we also learn that the spirit of antichrist denies that Yeshua is the Messiah (Savior and Redeemer of man), denies that Yeshua is part of the “Godhead,” is deity and is the Son of Elohim, and denies the incarnation of Yeshua. Only Islam fits this biblical description of an antichrist religion.

 

Coming Before Elohim With the Right Mind-Set

Numbers 3:38, The the outsider who comes near. This verse teaches the principle of the fear and reverence of YHVH when approaching his divine Presence. Other scriptures that teach our need to be careful when approaching him include Psalms 15:1–5; 24:3–5 and Ecclesiastes 5:1–2 (see also Gen 28:16–17; Exod 3:5; Lev 10:3; Josh 5:15; Ps 89:7; Heb 12:28–29).

As YHVH didn’t permit the Israelites to come near to him except through the intermediary of the Aaronic priests, similarly we can only come to our Father in heaven through the intermediary of Yeshua the Son of Elohim, and our Great High Priest (Heb 4:14), who is the spiritual door and way to the Father (John 14:6). Although, YHVH permits his set-apart ones (the saints) to come boldly before him through the agency of Yeshua’s high priesthood and his blood (Rev 5:6–8) to obtain mercy and grace in time of need (Heb 4:16), let’s not forget two things.

First, we come to YHVH Elohim in human weakness needing help and grace from him who is greater than us; therefore, we need to maintain a humble disposition.

Second, our Elohim is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29); therefore, we need to serve him with reverence and godly fear (Heb 12:28), since in his hands he holds the power of life and death (Matt 10:28). Fire is a biblical metaphor for judgment, and YHVH will judge all people including his own people (Heb 10:30–31) for all that they have done while in the flesh whether good or bad to determine levels of rewards and punishment (Matt 5:19; 16:27; 2 Cor 5:10; Rev 20:12; 22:12). In fact, Peter admonishes us to conduct our lives in the fear of Elohim and to be holy as he is holy who will judge each man according to his works (1 Pet 1:17).

 

Do you see yourself as a priest in training?

Numbers 3:11–13, I myself have taken. Here YHVH chooses the tribe of Levi instead of the firstborn male of each Israelite family to be Israel’s spiritual leaders. When the Israelites exited Egypt, YHVH chose and sanctified the firstborn male of each family to the be spiritual leader of his home in what is called the law of the firstborn (Exod 13:2, 11–16). As it had been the responsibility of the firstborn to lead his family spiritually, and, as the patriarch of his family, to pass down the family legacy and spiritual traditions to the next generation, YHVH now placed this mantle on the shoulders of the Levites. It was now their responsibility to teach the Israelites what YHVH had commanded them to do (Deut 24:8). They became the Torah teachers in Israel (Deut 33:10; Neh 8:7, 9, 13; 2 Chron 30:22) along with the priests (Lev 10:11; Mal 2:7). They were scattered throughout the land of Israel for this purpose (2 Chron 17:8–9). The reason that YHVH gave this responsibility over to the sons of Levi was because the firstborn of each family had failed to lead their families in YHVH’s paths of righteousness, and they failed to prevent the Israelites from golden calf worship (Exod 32). Only Levi remained faithful to YHVH during the golden calf incident, and thus YHVH granted them the blessing of the priestly service (Exod 32:26–29).

Originally, it had been YHVH’s intent for the entire nation of Israel to be a kingdom of priests (Exod 19:6) in order to be a light to the nations and lead the nations to YHVH and his Torah by their righteous example (Deut 4:6–8). This is why YHVH placed the land of Israel, and specifically Jerusalem, at the center of the major trade routes of the ancient world between Africa, Asia and Europe.

The Levitical priesthood (along with the elaborate tabernacle sacrificial system) was a temporary institution that YHVH added (Gal 3:19 cp. Jer 7:21–22) to the nation of Israel’s legal system because of the firstborn’s failure to prevent Israel from worshipping the golden calf idol. In a general sense, YHVH didn’t give the Israelites the Torah at this time—the principles of which they and their forefathers already had been given (e.g., Gen 26:5). So what other law was added? At Mount Sinai, the Torah was codified into a legal system (with civil penalties including the institution of a sacrificial system as a penalty for sin) and became the constitution of the nation of Israel, and YHVH also gave them the institution of the Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system (Gal 3:19), which (along with the rest of the Torah) pointed them to Yeshua (Gal 4:16, 2). The sacrificial and Levitical systems were completely fulfilled by the Messiah as the writer of Hebrews goes into great detail to explain to us (Heb 5–11).

As already noted, it was YHVH’s intention for all Israel to become a kingdom of priests (not just the tribe of Levi) to teach the nations his spiritual truths. YHVH’s original purpose for Israel is now being fulfilled in the royal priesthood of all redeemed believers to which Peter makes reference in his first epistle (1 Pet 2:9). When the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem, the Levitical priesthood along with the sacrificial system ceased to exist. This occurred some forty years after the death and resurrection of Yeshua who, at that time, became man’s sacrifice for sin once and for all and is now in heaven officiating as our Great High Priest as the writer of Hebrews reveals to us. When the temple priesthood was destroyed, YHVH’s royal priesthood of all believers was ready to take its place. In a sense, the present priesthood model defaults to the original priesthood model where the leader of each family was the priest of his home. The only difference is that the patriarchal priesthood model has been expanded and now all redeemed believers have the opportunity to become a priest in Yeshua’s eternal kingdom regardless of gender and family birth order.

Presently, the saints are preparing to be a kingdom of priest as they learn to live out and to teach others YHVH’s Torah truths. This learning process is preparing them to become kings and priests (or a kingdom of priests, Exod 19:6) in Yeshua’s millennial kingdom after his second coming where they will teach the nations the truth of YHVH (Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6), even as the Levites of old taught the nation of Israel YHVH’s Torah.

 

General Overview of the Book of Numbers (B’midbar)

The English name Numbers derives from the fact that in this book the Israelites are counted or numbered on several occasions (see chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 26). Leviticus ends with YHVH instructing his people to count their flocks for tithe purposes, while Numbers begins with YHVH, as the ultimate Good Shepherd (or in Hebrews, YHVH Rohee), counting the Israelites themselves, who are the sheep of his pasture (Pss 74:1; 79:13; 95:7; 100:3). The fact that this counting took place in the wilderness proves that it was not for political or national economic reasons, but was in fulfillment of YHVH’s Torah instructions. Each Israelite was to give a half-shekel of silver toward the maintenance of the tabernacle. The shekels then counted would give the exact number of Israelites (Exod 30:12–16).

The Hebrew name B’midbar meaning “in the wilderness” originates from the fact that this book chronicles Israel’s wandering in the wilderness. The Book of Exodus, on the other hand, records the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, its establishment as a nation, its covenantal relationship with YHVH and the construction of the tabernacle (mishkan), which was the symbol of YHVH dwelling or tabernacling in the midst of his chosen people. The Book of Leviticus deals with the inner workings of that tabernacle and the mechanics of how sinful man could maintain a right spiritual relationship with a righteous Elohim. This was accomplished through the agency of the Levitical priesthood that would function within the tabernacle as a human intermediary between man and his Creator.

The Book of Numbers covers much of Israel’s forty years wandering in the wilderness and recounts the early years of this nation under YHVH’s theocratic rule. Recorded are Israel’s triumphs and defeats, its obedience and disobedience to YHVH’s rule of law and the resulting consequences whether blessing or curses.

In this book, we see several main subdivisions. Chapters 1:1–10:10 cover instructions from YHVH to Israel while still at Mount Sinai. Chapters 10:11–36:13 cover the Israelite’s actual wilderness journey. The second section dealing with the wilderness journey has two main parts: the perishing in the wilderness of the older generation (10:11–25:18), and the preparation of the second generation of Israelites to enter the Promised Land (chapters 26–36).

Reoccurring themes in the Book of Numbers include the continual murmuring of Israelites and the divine punishment on them as a result. YHVH made promises to care for them and lead them into the Promised Land. Instead of having faith and trust in him, with few exceptions, the Israelites exhibited doubt and unbelief in YHVH. As a result, the entire older generation, with the exception of faithful Joshua and Caleb, perished in the wilderness never to realize the promises YHVH had made to them concerning the Promised Land. This is a poignant lesson for all believers in their faith walk. The spiritual application of this lesson is not missed by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews in chapter four of that book. When YHVH makes promises, his people need to embrace those promises with enthusiastic and optimistic faith and never let them go. After all, if we cannot trust our Creator, then who or what can we trust?

In this book, we see revealed the grace of YHVH, that he is longsuffering and slow to anger (14:20–38), but that he is also just, and as a father, he disciplines those he loves. His judgments are measured and progressive. The more his children refuse to obey him and resist him, the stronger the judgments. Eventually, the older generation of Israelites died off in the wilderness. This teaches us that death is the final judgment against the sin of rebellion and unbelief. There are no eternal rewards or spiritual inheritance for those who refuse to take hold of YHVH’s promises and to go forward in faith and faithful obedience to him.

We see the work and person of the future Yeshua the Messiah in the Book of Numbers as well. As Provider, he meets all of Israel’s needs both physical and spiritual. Paul reveals that Yeshua was the spiritual Rock that gave them water in the wilderness (1 Cor 10:4). Twice, Israel received water from the rock (Exod 17:1–7 and Num 20:1–13). Additionally, the secular prophet, Balaam, prophesied about the Messiah who was to rise out of Israel like a star (Num 24:17). Leading rabbinic Jews sages, such as Akiva ben Joseph of the early modern era, mistakenly applied this verse to the Jewish zealot, Bar Kokhba, when he endeavored to throw off the yoke of Roman rule over the Jewish people during the Second Jewish Revolt of A.D. 133–135.