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.

 

Leviticus 16:1—The Protocols for Coming Into the Presence of the Almighty Creator

How do humans come into the presence of YHVH Elohim? There is one proper way to do so, and many improper ways. The Torah’s discussion pertaining to the rituals associated with the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) reveal to us what the proper protocol is and also alludes to the fact that there is an improper way to approach the Almighty Creator as well—something which brings disastrous results.

Now YHVH spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered profane fire before YHVH, and died… (Lev 16:1)

Elohim killed Nadab and Abihu because they came into the holy of holies in the Tabernacle of Moses (a representation of Elohim’s heavenly throne room) in a careless and indifferent manner. Not only were they intoxicated with alcohol, but they failed to follow the proper ceremonial protocols outlined by YHVH Elohim to come into his presence. The next few verses lay out what those protocols are to come before the King of the universe. To not follow those protocols brings the death penalty on the person. Such a person is entering illegally as an unauthorized trespasser.

Before exploring how to enter the presence of Elohim properly, let’s bring this abstract concept down to a level we can understand. For example, who hasn’t seen signs on private property that say something like this: “Private Property, No Trespassing,” “Government Property, No Trespassing,” “Unauthorized Entrance Prohibited,” “Violators Will Be Prosecuted to the Full Extent of the Law,” or “Violators Will Be Shot”? What happens to an uninvited intruder who climbs over the fence around the White House or over the walls of Buckingham Palace? He’s arrested if not shot on the spot. Similarly, there are penalties for coming into the throne room of the Almighty YHVH Elohim illegally.

…and YHVH said to Moses: “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at just any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud above the mercy seat. (Lev 16:2)

YHVH Elohim doesn’t allow humans to casually saunter into his presence anytime and in anyway they want. Though he is our loving Heavenly Father, he is holy (set-apart) and is the Creator of the Universe who is to be feared and respected. He has the power of life and death; he gives life and can take it away. Humans (especially Christians) would do well to know their place before the Almighty, to treat him with the respect he is due and to follow his instructions in all areas of their relationship with him. Indeed, YHVH wants humans to come before him, but in the proper way.

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How much to YOU love Yeshua?

John 12:5, Three hundred denarii. This large sum is equal to 300 days’ wages for a common laborer.

To the natural mind, Judas’ objection to the use of this expensive spice (worth between $30,000 and $50,000 in today’s money) to anoint someone’s feet seems illogical and a total waste of money. By contrast, from our perspective today, we can look backwards historically with perfect 20–20 hindsight and realize that for Yeshua, the Messiah and Savior of the world, he was worth every penny of the spikenard and much more. Yet, from the perspective of Yeshua’s followers, Yeshua’s true identity and mission still weren’t clear. This confusion wouldn’t clear up until after his resurrection and glorification (v. 16). So for some of them, Mary’s act of faith in anointing Yeshua’s feet with a year’s wages of spice seemed to be illogical folly. 

This spice, most likely was originally intended for use on Lazarus’ body, whom Yeshua had just resurrected and so was no longer needed for that purpose, at least. It is likely that it was out of gratefulness for resurrecting her brother that Mary performed this act of love and devotion to Yeshua, not realizing that her actions were prophetic in that she was pre-anointing Yeshua’s body for his own burial ten days from that night (v. 7).

Now let us consider the following. We know that YHVH Elohim the Father gave us his greatest love gift by sending Yeshua, his Son, to this earth to live, die and resurrect for our redemption and ultimate glorification (John 3:16). How much do we love Yeshua, and what is the greatest gift we could ever give him, even if those around us may think that we were crazy to do so? It is your heart, devotion and obedience. Have you given him all your heart? Does all that you own belong to him including your life? Would you give away all of your possessions in devotion to him if he asked it of you? Would you literally lay your life down for him as he did for you? How much do you love Yeshua?

 

Davidic Dance—An Expression of Joy and Praise

Psalm 149:1, 3, In the assembly of the saints…dance. (On the dance, see Ps 150:1, 4.) Hebraic worship dance should be an aspect of praise and worship in the congregation of the saints according to the Psalms. Certainly, at the very least, dancing should be occurring on the three pilgrimage feasts or chagim: the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. The Torah refers to each of these three appointed times (Heb. moedim) as chag meaning “festival.” The root word of chag is chagag meaning “to celebrate, keep a solemn feast or holy day, to move or go around in a circle, march in a sacred procession, to reel to and fro in a giddy manner.” Indeed Davidic dancing at joyous celebrations such as the biblical feasts has been a Hebraic tradition since time immemorial.

 

The “Sacrifice of Praise” Explained

Psalm 116:17, Sacrifice of thanksgiving

Elsewhere, the psalmist refers to this as “the sacrifice of joy” or praises (Ps 27:6; see also Jer 17:26; 33:11; Heb 13:15), “the sacrifice of righteousness” (Ps 4:5), “the sacrifice of thanksgiving (Ps 107:22), “the freewill offerings of my mouth” (Ps 119:108). Similarly, he declares that the sacrifices of Elohim are  broken spirit and a contrite heart” (Ps 51:17).Paul expresses this concept as “presenting your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Rom 12:1). Why are such sacrifices pleasing to Elohim?

For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hos 6:6)

In Matthew 9:13 and 12:7, Yeshua responds to those who were criticizing him for his unconventional religious activities by quoting Hosea 6:6. He goes on to imply that mercy as well as fasting as opposed to literal animal sacrifices is “a new wine skin” for his disciples replacing the old wine skin of animal sacrifices.

Why is the new wine of sacrifice of mercy, praise, righteousness, thanksgiving, a broken spirit and a contrite heart preferable to YHVH-Yeshua over animal sacrifices? The answer should be obvious. One can offer animal sacrifices or perform other religious duties and activities all day long, and never have a heart change. Such means nothing means to Elohim if the sacrifice isn’t accompanies by contrite, repentant, worshipful and thankful heart. Moreover, a sacrifice costs the one giving the sacrifice something, but giving means nothing to Elohim unless it is coupled with a correct heart attitude. Similarly, acts of service are merely a clanging gong and tinkling bell to Elohim if not accompanied by a heart of love (1 Cor 13). YHVH wants hearts that want to love and obey him, not empty acts of religiousity that are done for show and pretense, often out of human pride. Hosea expresses what YHVH wants from humans:

O Israel, return to YHVH your Elohim, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity; take words with you, And return to YHVH. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride on horses, nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’” For in You the fatherless finds mercy. I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him. I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon. his branches shall spread; his beauty shall be like an olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon. Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like a vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim shall say, “What have I to do anymore with idols?” I have heard and observed him. I am like a green cypress tree; your fruit is found in Me. Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of YHVH are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. (Hos 14:1–9)

To Elohim, such a sacrifice that involves the actual heart conversion of the offerer is a “pure offering” and is sweet smelling incense (Mal 1:11; Ps 141:2; Rev 5:8; 8:3), and YHVH will not rebuke his people for such a sacrifice (Ps 50:8).

Yeshua himself set his followers the example of laying down his life by giving himself for us as living sacrifice (Eph 5:2; Heb 9:26), an offering as a sweet smelling aroma to Elohim, even as Paul did in his life and ministry (Phil 2:17). Yeshua’s disciples will follow his and Paul’s example and do the same (1 Cor 11:1; Eph 5:2; Phil 4:18; 1 Pet 2:4).