Blog Scripture Readings for 12-10 Through 12-16-17

Aside

THIS WEEK’S SCRIPTURE READINGS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION:

Parashat Miketz — Genesis 41:1 – 44:17
Haftarah — 1 Kings 3:15 – 4:1; Zechariah 2:14 – 4:7**
Prophets — 1 Samuel 18:1 – 24:22
Writings — Psalms 70:1 – 76:12
Testimony — Mark 11:19 – 14:52

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.

** A different Haftarah is read when it is a special sabbath in Jewish tradition. This week it is Shabbat Chanukah on the traditional calendar and Zechariah 2:14 – 4:7 is read. Otherwise, 1 Kings 3:15 – 4:1 would be read.

Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 12/10/17 through 12/16/17.

 

Who and What (Really) Is the King of Your Life?

Mark 8:34, Deny himself. The love of self is the greatest obstacle to following Yeshua wholeheartedly. The chief characteristic of self-life is possessiveness.

The fallen man has forced Elohim out of the center of his life and has crowned itself as its king and has given itself over to coveting of things. Such has become self-life’s main focal point and fiercest passion. Surrounding oneself with many possessions causes one to feel elevated in that it makes one the ruler of one’s own kingdom. To such a person, the pronoun me becomes the god, and the pronoun my is the purpose of the pursuit and the religion of self.

To the tyranny of things that largely monopolizes most men’s endeavors, Yesahua says “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” Elsewhere he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:3).

 

Genesis 38: Tracing Yeshua’s Lineage Back to the Beginning

Genesis 38:29, Pharez [Heb. Peretz]. This name means “breach” or breaking through by pressing forward.” It is from the root word meaning “breach, gap, bursting forth, outburst, broken wall.” Yeshua is from this branch of Judah. Peretz received his name because of the violent nature of his birth. He was born before his twin brother, Zerah. The Peretz family line was the more prominent of the Peretz-Zerah family lineages.

Matthew Henry in his commentary notes that it’s a wonder that off all the tribes Yeshua should proceed from this one considering its incestuous origins and YHVH’s displeasure over such sin. Yet Henry goes on to say that YHVH chooses human instruments not because of their merits, but out of grace, and that Yeshua came into the world to save sinners, even the chief of sinners, including those of his own family. Moreover, the worthiness of the Messiah wasn’t to be found in any meritorious moral qualities of his ancestors, but in himself alone. It is a wonder that the Jews boast at all about their lineage in light of its incestuous origins. As Jeremiah warns, a man should not glory in anything he is or has done but only that “he understands and knows me, that I am YHVH which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth, for in these things I delight” (Jer 9:23–24).

The inclusion of the accounts of Judah, Tamar, Pharez and Zerah further confirms the divine origin of the Scriptures. It is the generally accepted tradition in both Jewish and Christian circles and the opinion of conservative biblical scholars that Moses wrote the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Genesis 38 gives important background information about the founding of the tribe of Judah and, more importantly, about the origins of the Messiah who was born out of this tribe. Other than a couple of oblique prophecies, there is no overt indication in the Torah that the Messiah, the Redeemer of Israel, would could come from the tribe of Judah, yet Moses included the inglorious details of the founding of this tribal family therein for no apparent reason. Those of us looking back in history at the Messiah’s birth can see how Genesis 38 fits perfectly into the overall biblical redemption story, but those in times past looking forward to the Messiah would have likely been hard pressed to see this. From our vantage point, this is yet another proof of the hand of the Divine Providence in the writing of the Scriptures.

 

Blog Scripture Readings for 12-3 Through 12-9-17

Aside

THIS WEEK’S SCRIPTURE READINGS FOR STUDY AND DISCUSSION:

Parashat Vayeshev — Genesis 37:1 – 40:23
Haftarah — Amos 2:6 – 3:8
Prophets — 1 Samuel 11:1 – 17:58
Writings — Psalms 63:1 – 69:36
Testimony — Mark 8:1 – 11:18

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 12/3/17 through 12/9/17.

 

Don’t Let the World Draw You In!

Genesis 34:9, Make marriages with us. After the Dinah and Shechem incident, the local Canaanites wanted to intermarry with Jacob’s children and steal their inheritance (Gen 34:23). This is the plea and lure of the world to pollute and desecrate YHVH’s set-apart people.

The world isn’t content to live and let live—to leave the saints alone. It wants to pull them down to their low spiritual level. Jacob and his sons, however, remained firm and refused to assimilate with the Canaanites.

Had Jacob succumbed to the alluring offers of the devil, he would have lost his spiritual standing with Elohim as well as his future, promised and covenantal inheritance.

The devil offered Jacob the small reward of temporary peace and prosperity by making assimilating alliances with the heathens in exchange for Jacob’s birthright. Esau made this mistake years earlier, and Jacob knew better than to fall for the enemy’s lies.

The devil tempted Yeshua in the same way after forty day fast. Satan promised fame, glory and prosperity now if Yeshua would submit to him. To do so, Yeshua would have forfeited his future glory.

We too must follow the example of Jacob and Yeshua and resist the enemy’s overtures. Instead, we must aggressively fight off the enemy who wants to steal and destroy our inheritance and kill us in the process. No good can come from intermarrying literally or spiritually with the heathen!

 

Did Yeshua Really Sanction Eating Everything?

Is this what Yeshua is really saying in Mark 7:19? Think again…!

Mark 7:19, Thus He declared all foods clean. Many mainstream Christians believe that in this verse Yeshua is sanctioning the eating of all food not matter what. Thus he is categorically rejecting the biblical dietary prohibitions against eating…drumroll please…beloved pork. Is this what Yeshua is really saying here? Before jumping to conclusions, let’s take a step back, demonstrate a modicum of logic and ask ourselves some questions.

First, would a Torah-observant Jew like Yeshua really be advocating the eating of anything the Torah forbids such as pork and shellfish? Second, would Yeshua the Messiah, the one destined to be the sinless Lamb of Elohim Messiah be advocating sinning by going against the biblical dietary laws? Third, what is the biblical definition of food? Does the Creator of the universe even consider something to be food that he forbids people from eating? Fourth, if Yeshua had been advocating the eating of unclean meats, what would have been the reaction of his Torah-touting audience of Pharisees? With the answers to these questions dancing around in the reader’s mind, let’s now discuss this potentially enigmatic passage in depth and in its logical context to see what it’s really saying.

This phrase, “Thus He declared all foods clean is excluded from the KJV, but is included in the NAS, NIV and some other modern translations. Some Bible teachers see this phrase as Yeshua’s endorsement for eating unclean meats such as pork. Even if this phrase were in the original language, Yeshua would never have considered swine to be food—a very non-Jewish concept and out of context with a Torah-adherent society. Furthermore, the Jews in his audience would have strongly reacted against Yeshua saying such a thing. What’s more, earlier in this passage Yeshua upholds the Torah over men’s tradition (Mark 7:6–13), and so Yeshua wouldn’t be teaching anything against the Torah by saying we can eat swine!

Not only that, the context of this passage has nothing to do with eating meat. It has to do with eating bread (v. 2). No mention of meat is made here. Only bread, which in verse two is the Greek word artos meaning “food composed of flour mixed with water and baked.” This has nothing to do with meat. The issue was whether it was mandatory to wash one’s hands before eating bread, which was not a Torah law, but was an extra-biblical Jewish legal law. Period. This is what Yeshua was addressing.

The Hebrew Roots Version, which is a translation from the Aramaic, confirms the KJV rendering of this verse. However, some of the modern texts (e.g. the NIV and NAS) add the phrase to the end of this verse, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean.” This variant phrase in the newer English translations is the source of the confusion in the minds of many who read this.

The KJV is translated from the Greek family of manuscripts called the Textus Receptus or Received Text, which until the end of the nineteenth century was accepted as the most authoritative and purest manuscripts by the Protestant church. On the other hand, the newer (e.g. the NAS and NIV) translations derive from another family of Greek manuscripts that were rejected by early Protestant scholars as being inferior to the Textus Receptus, but liberal scholars from England challenged these beliefs of earlier scholars and were instrumental in popularizing the variant and previously rejected family of Greek manuscripts (called the Western family of texts).

The debate has raged on for more than 100 years as to which family of manuscripts is the oldest and most reliable and in accordance with the actual autographs (which no longer exist). But since no one knows for sure, can we approach the issue of determining whether the added words in the newer English translations, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean” are accurate or not per the original language? Was Yeshua saying here that the dietary laws delineated in the Torah are now nullified? If so, would this be consistent with the rest Yeshua’s teachings?

Briefly, what was Yeshua’s stand on the Torah? In Matthew 5:17–19 he said,

Think not that I am come to destroy the Torah-law, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Yeshua here instructed his followers to not think that he had come to annul the Torah-law.

Then in Mark 7:9 Yeshua rebukes the religious folks of his day for nullifying the Word of Elohim by their man-made traditions. What did he mean by the phrase Word of Elohim? When he made this statement there was no “New Testament,” but only the Tanakh (or “Old Testament”). He was rebuking the Jews for changing YHVH’s Word of which the biblical dietary laws in the Torah were a part. So for him to rebuke the Jews for changing the Word of Elohim, and then a few verses later to be advocating the annulment of the dietary laws found in that Word would have made Yeshua not only a hypocrite, but a Torah-law breaker and thus a sinner (1 John 3:4). To suggest that Yeshua was a law-breaker is utter blasphemy(!) and nullifies the entire gospel message and the rest of the Testimony of Yeshua. Therefore, he could not have been advocating the violation of the Torah-law, and at the same time be the Word of Elohim made flesh and be YHVH’s sinless redemptive Lamb, as the newer translations imply by the addition of the phrase, “In saying this [Yeshua] declared all foods clean.” Therefore, we utterly reject this phrase as it appears in our modern Bibles as a corruption of the original text.

By looking at the context, we see that the issue in these passages in Matthew and Mark was not about eating kosher versus not eating kosher, but whether it was allowable to eat with unwashed hands or not. According to Jewish non-biblical oral tradition, it was imperative for one to go through an elaborate hand washing ceremony for mystical reasons before partaking of food. These commandments were rooted in traditions of men, not in the Torah-law of YHVH. Yeshua is taking the Jews to task for placing more emphasis on man-made traditions rather than on the pure and firm Word of Elohim. This seems to be a chronic problem in many religious circles even in our day. Sunday worship replaced the seventh day Sabbath. Christmas and Easter replaced the appointed feasts of YHVH such as Passover, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. And the list goes on.

Even beyond the issue of Jewish handwashing traditions, Yeshua was using this as a teaching opportunity to instruct the Jews on the issues of the heart. Whether one eats with unwashed hands or not is of less importance to Elohim than the unwashed condition of the carnal human heart. Religion has made a fine art of addressing surface issues or gilding the proverbial “garbage can,” while overlooking the contents therein. This is what Yeshua was really addressing in this passage.

 

Eighteen  Attributes of a Demonic Spirit

Mark 5:1–20, The Gadarene demoniac.

This encounter between Yeshua and this demon-possessed individual teaches us about the characteristics of one who is tormented or even possessed by 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).
  • 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), wallowing or rolling around on the ground (Mark 9:20).
  • Epileptic-type seizures or madness can be some symptoms of demon possession (Matt 17:15).
  • A demoniac may foam at the mouth (Mark 9:18, 20).
  • A demoniac may grind or gnash of 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).