Deuteronomy 31—Will YOU be faithful to YHVH’s commandments?

Deuteronomy 31

Deuteronomy 31:3, YHVH your Elohim … will go over before, and he will destroy these nations. YHVH promised to destroy Israel’s enemies before them. Who or what are your enemies? Do you believe YHVH’s promises here? Some of the enemies we have are a result of our own sinning and our repentance will bring our deliverance from them. But what about attacks that come against us through no fault of our own? What do you do about them? Do you realize who you are in Yeshua, and are you aware of the spiritual power you have as a victorious overcomer by the name and through the blood of Yeshua? (Read Ps 91; Luke 9:1; 10:19; Rom 8:37; Eph 6:10-18; Jas 4:7–10; 1 Pet 5:6–10; 1 John 4:4; Rev 12:11.)

Deuteronomy 31:10–13, You shall read this Torah before all Israel. Verses like this tend to expose the theological confusion that occurs in the minds of many Christian Bible teachers. For example, about this verse, Christian commentator Matthew Henry writes about the need to read the Word of Elohim and that doing so will “help us to keep his commandments.” Yet elsewhere in the same commentary he says that the commandments or laws of YHVH “are done away with.” 

Statements like these are representative of a split and incongruous, “double-speak” thinking on the part of many Christians when it comes to the commandments or laws of Elohim. Some laws, they say, we are to keep (e.g. thou shalt not murder, lie, commit adultery, which they refer to as “the moral law”—a non-biblical term), but other laws we can disobey (e.g. the Sabbath, dietary laws, and biblical feasts, which they refer to as “the ceremonial law”—another non-biblical term). 

Is it possible to have it both ways: to believe that we need to keep the Creator’s commandments, yet, at the same time, teach they are done away with? If so, then what is the meaning of such biblical phrases pertaining to YHVH’s Torah or Word as “forever,” “for a thousand generations,” “the same yesterday today and forever,” “till heaven and earth pass away,” “I change not,” and “think not that I came to destroy the Torah-law?” Is ­YHVH’s Word inconsistent and contradictory, or is this, instead, the case with the thinking of men? Is YHVH’s immutable character flawed with regard to keeping his Word, promises and standards or is man the one at fault?

In reality, we need to ask ourselves an important question: Do we have a high enough view of YHVH Elohim and fear him and tremble at his Word (Isa 66:2), or have we, in reality, demoted the veracity of his Word by contorting YHVH and his Word to fit the mindset of changeable and inconsistent man (which the Scriptures define as idolatry)? 

Moreover, have we, by denying the validity of some aspects of YHVH’s Word, bought into the lie that the serpent proffered at the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden when he told the man and the woman that YHVH really did not mean what he said and that humans can take the “have it your own way” and “pick and choose” approach when it comes to obeying the Word of YHVH (a philosophy that forms the basis for the religious movement called secular humanism, which is at the heart of all the religions of the world—including much of Christianity—except the true religion of the Bible)?

In reality, how many aspects of Christian theology are no more than a thinly veiled version of the religion of humanism in disguise? 

These are tough questions that the saints who are citizens of the nation of Israel (Eph 2:11–19) need to ponder seriously. At the same time, let’s not forget the words of Yeshua in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my [Torah] commandments” and the words of the apostle in 1 John 2:5–5, “He that says, ‘I know him,’ and does not keep his [Torah] commandments is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whosoever keeps his Word in him truly is the love of Elohim perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”

Let’s be honest with ourselves. The bottom line reason why man has a hard time submitting to all of YHVH’s commandments is nowhere stated more concisely in the Bible than in Romans 8:7,

[T]he carnal mind is enmity against Elohim: for it is not subject to the law of Elohim, neither indeed can be.

Deuteronomy 31:12, Gather together the people. … and the small children. A fundamental aspect of Hebrew culture is the teaching of the children. This is the primary responsibility of the parents as stated in the Shema (Deut 6:7) and secondarily that of the community of faith. Many parents have all but handed their YHVH-ordained charge in this area over to others: the church and the government educational system, day care, the baby sitter, etc. Additionally, often the children take the backseat in the education in many churches and Messianic congregations. Often pastors struggle to find volunteers to help in the children’s ministry. Is this right? Is this the heart of the Father? It certainly is not the heart of Yeshua who went out of his way to minister to the little children (Mark 10:13–16; see also Matt 18:1–5 and Mark 9:33–37).

Continue reading
 

Deuteronomy 29 Notes

Deuteronomy 29

Deuteronomy 29:4, A heart to perceive.This verse prophesied the outpouring of the Spirit of Elohim en masse on humans.

Deuteronomy 29:15, Not here with us today.This verse teaches us that YHVH made his covenant not only with the Israelites present there that day, but with all those who would live in the future. What are the implications of this with regard to your life? How does it impact what you do, how you act, your attitude and relationship with your Maker to know that covenants were made 3500 years ago that have a bearing on our lives today as Redeemed Israelites or the Israel of Elohim (see Gal 6:16)? 

There are those in the modern church who will say, “Since I’m not an Israelite, but I’m a Gentile Christian, therefore, I have no obligation toward the Torah, and thus the Old Testament laws mean little or nothing to me.” 

My response to this argument that, with the flick of the hand and the nod of the head, dismisses two-thirds of Scripture—the Word of Elohim—is simple. The idea that a born again believer is still a Gentile—a lie that the church system has convinced most Christians to believe—isn’t biblically substantiated. The Scriptures are clear on this point. For example, Paul calls redeemed believers the “one new man” and part of the nation of Israel. And who are the ex-Gentiles that Paul talks about who were aliens to the covenants (plural, referring to the Abrahamic Covenant revealing the path to salvation, the Mosaic Covenant revealing the path of righteousness and the New Covenant, which is the previous two covenants written on our spiritually circumcised hearts) of Israel, but have now been brought into the commonwealth of Israel through the work of Yeshua? (See Eph 2:11–19.) Remember, there’s no Gentile gate in the New Jerusalem—only the 12 gates named after the 12 tribes of Israel. So what tribe are you?

Additionally, some might question whether covenants made with one’s forefathers are applicable to us today. If this is your case, then let us pose the following question: Did the founding fathers of America make laws more than 200 years ago (i.e. the U. S. Constitution) that are binding upon us today? If so, how much more applicable upon us are covenants made by our forefathers 3500 years ago with YHVH? Just because our ­forefathers broke their covenant with YHVH does not free us to violate YHVH’s laws any more than if someone in the past violates a nation’s constitutional law frees this frees future generations from violating that law. Think about it! 

Deuteronomy 29:16–19, Emboldened to sin. As we pass through the spiritual wilderness of the world around us (verse 16) on our way to the Promised Land of our eternal inheritance, it’s easy for us sin-oriented beings to justify our personal rebellion, our sinful habits, our lustful and materialistic thoughts on the basis of carnal rationalizations. Delusions are tempting. It is all too easy to fall prey to such excuses as, “Everyone around me is doing it,” or, “It feels like it’s okay to do,” or, “If it feels good, do it,” or “YHVH’s laws don’t apply to me … that was for the people back then, not for us today,” or, “That’s not what the church I belong to teaches,” or, “Surely YHVH doesn’t expect us to keep his commandments … they’re too hard to do … we can’t really do all that stuff today,” or, “We’re under grace today … that stuff has been done away … Jesus fulfilled it … nailed it to the cross,” etc. Do these statements square with YHVH’s words of truth? If we have fallen prey to such excuses to disregard the Creator’s commandments, we have, in reality, emboldened ourselves to continue sinning. The question each person needs to ask themselves is, “Do what I believe and practice square with YHVH’s Word?” Is YHVH pleased with our excuses or our obedience? What did Yeshua say would be an identifying mark of those who would love him? (Read John 14:15.)

Deuteronomy 29:20–28, Rooted them out of their land. What was YHVH’s response to those who refused to obey him? Are some of the curses (i.e. the bad things happening to you now) in your life related to disobedience of his commandments (or YHVH’s instructions in righteousness) in the past or perhaps even now?

Deuteronomy 29:23, Whole land is brimstone. The area just west of the Dead Sea where ancient Sodom and Gomorrah likely were is to this day a barren wasteland of gypsum containing little or no vegetation, and, in places, is covered in sulfur balls (brimstone) that one can still pick up. This region is an enduring testimony to the severity of YHVH’s judgments against men’s sin, which speaking loudly to us even now in harsh and warning tones.

Deuteronomy 29:26, Other gods. This is likely referring to the demon-gods (demigod) nephilim of Genesis 6:2–4 (see The Great Inception by Derek P. Gilbert, p. 67).

Deuteronomy 29:28–30:1–20, The Final Redemption of All Israel. A time is coming when Israel, including the ten northern tribe will be redeemed and regathered back to the land of Israel after having been exiled into captivity from their land. What is the captivity from which Israel will be returning? 

What Is This Captivity? 

The biblical term captivity is often a reference to Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom or house of Israel, being brought out of captivity by YHVH (Ezek 16:53). Also compare Isaiah 61:1 with Luke 4:18–21 where, while preaching in the region of Galilee and Nazareth (the historic homeland of the Northern Kingdom or House of Israel), Yeshua quotes the Isaiah 61 passage relating it to his ministry to the ten tribes of the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt 10:6). Yeshua states that it was his mission “to preach the gospel to the poor … to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captive and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bound, to preach the acceptable year of YHVH.” 

To what“captivity” is Yeshua referring? Is it a physical or spiritual captivity? Compare this with Revelation 18:4 where YHVH states that his people (the saints) are enslaved to the last days’ Babylon the Great religious-economic-political system and must come out of it. What is this religious part of this system that he is now calling his people to leave?

Deuteronomy 29:28, Cast them into another land. “This verse also alludes to the fate of [those Israelites] who had become so assimilated among other peoples that their [i.e. the Israelite’s] origins had become forgotten. When the final redemption comes, these hidden ones known only to [Elohim] will be reunited with the rest of the nation and be restored to the status of their forefathers” (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 1090). To whom is the author referring here? Who became assimilated among the peoples and forgot their origins? Who is it that Elohim will bring out of hiding from among the nations where he, in judgment, scattered them and reunite with the Jews (the tribe of Judah) in the end times during what the Jews refer to as “the final redemption”? In Jewish thought, what is the “final redemption”? (For the answer, read Ezek 34:13; 36:24; Isa 56:8; Matt 24:29–44; Acts 1:6; 1 Cor 15:51–53; Rev 11:15–18.)

Another land. Let’s next notice a quote from the ancient apocryphal book of 2 Esdras 13:40-45(elsewhere known as The Fourth Book of Ezra; quoted from Lange’s Commentary; bracketed phrases are from an alternate translation by James H. Charlesworth in his book entitled, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha—Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments); Two Esdras is a Jewish work written near the beginning of the Christian era,

[T]hese are the ten tribes which were carried [led] away prisoners out of their own land [into captivity] in the time of Josia[h] the king, whom Salmanasar king of Assyria led captive, and carried them over the river and they were brought over into another land. But they took this counsel [formed this plan] amongst themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen [nations], and go forth into a further country [a more distant region], where mankind never dwelt, that they might there keep their own statutes, which they had not kept in their own land. But they entered into Euphrates by the narrow passages of the river; for the Most High then wrought signs for them, and held still the waves [stopped the channels] of the river till they had passed over. But through that country there was a long journey to make of a year and a half; and the same region is called Arzareth [Hebrew for “another land”].

Arzareth or “another land” is a reference to the prophecy in Deuteronomy 29:28 which states, “And YHVH rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land [Heb. eretz acheret], as it is this day.” Acheret in the Hebrew means “another,” but also has the connotation of “new”such as “next year”(or in the “new year,” Gen 17:12), a “another well” (Gen 26:21); “another man” (i.e. a new husband); and so on. Other Hebrew words for “new” include chodesh or chadashah, which can mean either “brand new”or “renewed”such as in “new moon, new heart, or new heaven and new earth”; tiyrowsh, which refers to “new wine” or “new fruits.” These are unique Hebrew words, which specifically describe those things and nothing else; and beriyah, which is used once in Numbers 16:30, describes the earth opening up to swallow Korah and his malcontents. 

The point of this brief word study is that eretz acheret can justifiably be translated into English as “new earth,” or “new world.” The “New World” is a common historical reference to what? North America, of course. It was there that Scripture seems to indicate that the Israelites would, in part, at least, be scattered and the rabbinic writings of 2 Esdras 13:40–45possibly makes reference to this land.

Additional Comments on Deuteronomy 29:28

Israel to Be Lost Among the Gentiles

Deuteronomy 29:28 states, “And YHVH rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land [Heb. eretz acheret], as it is this day.” How did the ancient Jewish sages understand this passage?

Rabbinic Commentary on this Verse

b. Talmud, Yevamot 17a (c. 500 C.E.) (Soncino Talmud, Soncino):

[T]hey had declared them [i.e. the ten tribes of Israel, see rabbinic footnote below]19 to be perfect heathens [or gentiles]; as it is said in the Scriptures, “They have dealt treacherously against YHVH, for they have begotten strange children.20” 

A Rabbinic footnote on this passage states, “(19) The ten tribes; (20) Hos. 5:7.”

The ArtScroll Tanach Series Bereishis/Genesis (an Orthodox Jewish commentary on Genesis) states, regarding Genesis 48:19, Orthodox Jewish sage of the Middle Ages, Ibn Ezra wrote:

Many nations will descend from him [Ephraim]. That is, the word, fullness, melo, connotes “abundance,” the phrase meaning: and his seed will become the abundance of the nations (Neter; Karnei Or)” (p. 2121). According to Radak [R. Dovid Kimchi Torah, a scholar of the Middle Ages], “This refers to the Exile when the lands of others will be filled with his scattered descendants. See also Hosea 7:8: Ephraim shall be mingled among the nations (ibid.).

 

Hebrews 6 and 7 Notes

Hebrews 6

Hebrews 6:1, Elementary principles of Messiah. What follows are the six principal doctrines of the redeemed believer, yet they are all subsets of faith in Messiah Yeshua, which is foundations upon which it all rests.

Repentance from dead works.True biblical repentance involves turning from sin or a lifestyle of Torahless behavior, since sin is the violation of the Torah-law of Elohim (1 John 3:4), and lining all aspects of our lives up with the Torah-Word of Elohim.

Hebrews 6:2, Doctrine of baptisms. (See notes at Matt 28:19.)

Laying on of hands. Ordination is something that YHVH instituted in the Torah when he charged Moses to impose hands upon the Levites, and instructed all Israel to do the same (Num 29:10). We also have the example of Moses anointing with oil Aaron (Exod 29:10). Of course, kings of Israel were also anointed with oil to consecrate them for their official duties by the laying on hands.

Laying on of hands/ordination was earth’s confirmation of a heavenly calling. Elohim had already called someone into ministry and men were simply confirming what Elohim had already determined. Ordination doesn’t confirm the calling, but the other way around.

In the Testimony of Yeshua, by lot, the 11 apostles chose Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1). This was heaven’s choice, yet no mention of ordination is recorded. After that, we have the choosing of the seven in Acts 6:1. These were men who were already full of the Spirit and wisdom, so the apostles simply confirmed the work of the Spirit in them by laying hands on them (verse 6).

The same is true in the other examples of ordination in the Apostolic Scriptures. Men would be mentored by a leader/apostle, and after a period of time (“lay hands on no one suddenly” 2 Tim 5:22)—much like the five years of mentoring that occurred with a priest in training in the Torah (from age 25 to 30), and after meeting the qualifications of eldership (see 1 Tim 3:1–12 and Tit 1:5-9) they were appointed. Of course, those who were the mentors had oversight over those they mentored. It was less of a authoritatively-hierarchical system and more of patriarchal system with the older men lovingly overseeing those they had raised up—and only exercising strict authority when needed, which occurred only rarely.

Of course, there was no such thing as licensing or even denominations which issue licenses in the Apostolic Scriptures. To me, that seems more like a man-made thing for the purposes of maintaining power, control and keeping the money flowing upward. 

In the entire Bible, there are no examples of or precedence for women being ordained. Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:22 “to lay hands suddenly on no man.” He is gender specific. Women did, however, minister in conjunction with their husbands—their spiritual heads, which is something Paul is very clear about in Ephesians 5:21–24. Even though in the body of Yeshua there is neither male nor female so that all are equal before Yeshua, when it comes to governance in the congregation, the Bible upholds male leadership. Now that doesn’t mean that women can’t hold high positions of authority, but always in conjunctions with their husbands. We have the example of the apostolic team of Andronicus (husband) and Junia (wife) whom Paul called apostles (Rom 16:7), Aquila and Priscilla who were co-laborers. Sometimes Priscilla’s name is mentioned first. Obviously, this husband and wife team were such a tight unit that it didn’t matter whose name was mentioned first. Of course, we have examples in the Scriptures of women prophets. Deborah, though she was a judge in Israel, seems to have been married to Barak the military general. If so, we have an apostolic-prophetic team operating together to lead the Israelite nation. Huldah was a prophetess who seemed to operate without male headship, though she hung out with other prophets in a “school” or neighborhood where the prophets lived. So there was must have been some accountability between her and the other prophets, although she was the most gifted of YHVH since hers is the only name mentioned. Then we have the daughters of Philip the evangelist who were prophetesses—again, presumably under the spiritual leadership of their father (Acts 21:8-9).

Hebrews 6:6, If they fall away, to renew. 

Is the “Once Saved Always Saved Doctrine” Biblical?

Continue reading
 

Natan’s Notes on Deuteronomy 28—What Is Torah’s Purpose?

Deuteronomy 28

Deuteronomy 28:1–68, Blessings and curses for Torah obedience. Are the curses for Torah disobedience and the blessings for obedience still applicable in the life of the redeemed believer today, or because “we’re now under grace” are these blessings and curses irrelevant to us? Or, as some preachers teach, do Christians now only receive the blessings, and not the curses of the law regardless of whether they violate the Torah or not, since Yeshua took away the curse of the law? What is the answer to this question? The short answer is this: Is the law of gravity still in effect if you jump off a cliff? For a further explanation, see my notes at 2 Cor 3:7.

Deuteronomy 28:1, Commandments. Most people with whom I have engaged in discussions about the Torah-law of Elohim have a limited understanding of the breadth, scope and purpose of Elohim’s law. If they were to understand the full ramifications of the Torah, they would likely be less inclined to dismiss its validity in their lives. When discussing the Torah with people who have a traditional Christian view of “the law,” it might be helpful to keep the following truths in mind; they help to “blow the lid” off of people’s theological boxes!

What Is the Purpose of the Torah?

(Excerpted from a larger work by Ya’acov Natan Lawrence entitled, YHVH’s Instructions In Righteousness—A Messianic Believer’s Introduction to the Torah available online at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/torahprimer.pdf)

The purpose of the Torah is to show man how to walk in right relationship (or righteousness) with his Creator. To do this, we must love YHVH with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deut 6:5; Mark 12:30) and love our neighbor as ourself (Lev 19:18; Mark 12:30). Once one is saved by grace through faith (See my teaching article entitled: The Abrahamic Covenant: The Covenant of Salvation, available at http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/abracov.pdf.), Torah helps show man how to walk in the straight and narrow path that leads to blessings and life and avoids the curses of the law (Deut 30:15; 32:47). The Torah shows man how to avoid sin (which is the violation of YHVH’s Torah-commandments, 1 John 3:4), which is walking contrary to YHVH’s instructions in righteousness that are for our blessing and benefit.

The Torah does not set an impossible standard by which to live. We must ask ourselves, would a righteous and just Creator and a loving Heavenly Father give to his chosen people and children a set of standards that were humanly impossible to perform, and then curse them for their inability to meet these standards? Of course not! Rather, the Torah (including both the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants) sets a standard of faith, trusting in Elohim, and of following its system of repentance and sacrifice for obtaining forgiveness from Elohim and restoring a condition of being considered righteous in his sight. After all, Moses, the human instrument through whom YHVH revealed the Torah to the Children of Israel, states in Deuteronomy 30:11–14:

For this [Torah] commandment which I command you this day, it is not hidden from you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?” Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, “Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?” But the word is very near unto you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.

Paul quotes this very passage in Romans 10:6–8 where he relates the written Torah to Yeshua, the Living Torah or Word of Elohim incarnate (in the flesh, see John 1:1, 14). He shows that they are one in the same and that Messiah Yeshua came to live and reveal to us the righteousness of the Torah-law (verse 4) that is available to us if we will but have a heartfelt faith in him (verses 4, 9–10) and allow him to live out his righteousness in us through the empowering work of the Spirit of Elohim. In verses 11 through 21, Paul goes on to relate this very truth to being the central message of the gospel that Isaiah prophesied (Isa 52:7) would be preached to redeem both houses of Israel to Yeshua their Messiah.

It might be said that in a sense that the Torah itself is neutral; neither positive nor negative, for it is like a mirror simply reflecting the image portrayed in it. Torah reacts according to human action. Those who obey it are blessed and those who disobey it are cursed. David Stern in his Jewish New Testament Commentary lists both some of the “negative” and some of the positive functions of the Torah. On the “negative” side:

  • 1) The Torah has the capacity to stir up sin in an individual. This capacity of the Torah to make us sin is not a fault in the Torah but a fault in ourselves. A healthy person thrives in an environment deadly to someone who is ill; likewise, the Torah, beneficial to a believer living by faith, is an instrument of death to these controlled by their sinful nature (p. 375).
  • 2) The Torah can still produce guilt feelings in a believer—as it rightly should whenever he contemplates how his behavior falls short of the standard Elohim sets in the Torah. But these feelings are not irremediable. The remedy is once-and-for-all trust in Yeshua the Messiah’s final atonement for sin (Rom 3:21–26), followed by ongoing confession of and repentance from sins (1 John 1:9) (Ibid.).
  • 3) The Torah also provides a framework of justice by which Elohim, the Just Judge of the universe, will judge the actions of men to determine both their level of punishment for its violation and their level of reward for obedience to it.
  • 4) Because of the righteous standards the Torah sets out, for the sinner it points out the fact that they have sinned and how far they have fallen short of the glory of YHVH (Rom 3:23) and hence their need for a Savior or Redeemer. The Torah actually points the way to Yeshua as Paul points out in the book of Galatians (3:25).

On the positive side:

  • 1) The Torah provides a framework of grace in which one can live. As David Stern points out, YHVH’s people are to live “within the framework of” Torah, but they are not to be “in subjection to” [or under] the Torah in a legalistic fashion. YHVH’s giving of the Torah was in itself an act of grace that the New Covenant (NT) compares with his sending Yeshua (John 1:17) (Ibid., p. 374). Ariel Berkowitz, in his book, Torah Rediscovered, states it this way, “[Torah] function[s] as a protective border for the people of [Elohim].” He goes on to show that there are two opposing spiritual realities in the universe: the kingdom of light (YHVH’s kingdom) and the kingdom of darkness (Satan’s kingdom). Torah acts as a protective border to keep those wanting to abide in the kingdom of light/life/blessing/relationship with YHVH safe and secure. The Torah tells us what is truth as opposed to error, light as opposed to darkness, clean as opposed to unclean, holy (kadosh or set-apart) as opposed to profane or polluted, life as opposed to death (pp. 26–27).
  • 2) The Torah, as understood and applied through the Spirit, thereby gives life in union with Messiah (Stern, p. 381).
  • 3) Obeying the Torah brings us eternal rewards (not eternal life, which is by grace through faith alone, see Eph 2:8) in the world to come (Matt 5:19).
  • 4) Obeying the Torah helps deepen a loving and intimate relationship with YHVH-Yeshua and helps us to abide in Yeshua (John 14:15; 1 John 2:3–6).
  • 5) Obeying the Torah helps us to stay spiritually pure (1 John 3:3–6).
  • 6) Obeying the Torah protects us from the influence of the devil (1 John 3:8).
  • 7) Obeying the Torah-Word of YHVH helps to perfect YHVH-Yeshua’s love in us (1 John 3:6).

Deuteronomy 28:4 and 5–12, The fruit of your womb.Please note that the blessings of children are mentioned before material blessings. What does this teach us about how YHVH views children and families? Is such a view reflected in the mores of our current society? Are those with large families more respected than those who have large homes, drive expensive cars and have high social positions?

Deuteronomy 28:15, To the voice of YHVH.What is the voice of YHVH? Is his voice that which was uttered the Torah at Mount Sinai? Is it the voice of his Spirit inside of a Spirit-led, redeemed believer? Is it the voice of Yeshua as largely recorded in the red letters of the Testimony of Yeshua, or is it the entire Word of YHVH Elohim called the Scriptures? If the answer to the question is “all of the above,” then should any parts or aspects of Elohim’s voice contradict with any other? If we have a Biblical view or theology where we believe that one aspect of YHVH’s voice contradicts with and another in that we believe a part of it has been “done away with,” then what does this imply about the mind and nature of YHVH? There is a psychological term for this. It is called schizophrenia. Now in our right mind, we would never dare label YHVH with such terms, for to do so would be blasphemy, right? Yet, in reality, many of our religious beliefs make YHVH into something that he is not, and we risk become an unwitting party to attaching this blasphemous labeling to the Almighty Creator if we subscribe to these false theologies that, in one way or another, tell us one part or another of the Word of Elohim is no longer for us today. One thing is certain. YHVH is not a liar, nor does he ever contradict himself. If there seems to be a problem with inconsistency in YHVH’s Word, the problem is with OUR ­misunderstanding or misinterpretation of it, and NOT with the actual Word or voice of YHVH!

Deuteronomy 28:15–68, Judgment on a nation and a saint’s responsibility. Read the punishment for Torah disobedience listed in chapter 28. Are these curses coming upon America as its political leaders enact legislation and its judicial leaders make legal rulings that help to turn us away from our historic Judaic-Christian heritage, while at the same time America’s religious leaders say little or nothing against this trend? You and I do not have a large voice in this nation, though we have a small voice. What can we do to help turn the spiritual tide? What are you doing to be the salt and light in this society that Yeshua has called you to be with regard to keeping YHVH’s Torah ­commands?

Deuteronomy 28:47, Ungratefulness versus thankfulness. YHVH states that ungratefulness for the blessings he has given us and failure to obey him out of a joyful and glad heart will bring curses on us. Reflect on this. How much time each day do you spend thanking him for his blessings in your life? When you get up in the morning? Every time you eat? At noonday do you stop to praise him, as David did? Before you go to sleep? Not only is doing so a form of worship, but such a heart attitude and orientation helps us to keep our focus continually upon him so that we will forget not all his benefits (Ps 103:2) and fall into a state of hardened heart and forgetfulness (Deut 29:2–4). Israel forgot what YHVH had done for them, which led to their disobedience, faithlessness and explains why the older generation was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Will we learn from their examples (1 Cor 10:11)?

 

Natan’s Notes on Deuteronomy 27

Deuteronomy 27

Deuteronomy 27:2–10, Set up for yourselves. Immediately upon crossing the Jordan and upon entering the Promised Land, YHVH instructed the Israelites to set up a stone monument containing the Torah and to construct an altar for burnt sacrifices. What is the significance of these and why was it so important that this be Israel’s first order of business upon entering the Land of Promise? Matthew Henry states in his commentary that the Word of YHVH (the Torah) and prayer (the altar) must always accompany each other. Discuss this and relate it to Psalms 51:16–19 and Hosea 6:6 and the believer’s spiritual walk. Also, why did YHVH command the Israelites to construct the altar of uncut and whole stones? To whom does this prophetically point? (Read Dan 2:35, 45; Ps 118:22; Matt 21:42; Luke 20:17.) The stones of the altar were rough and uncut. To whom does this point who became our Living (spiritual) Altar and Sacrifice? (See Isa 53:2.)

Deuteronomy 27:2, 4, 8, Set up great stones. On Mount Ebal on whole, uncut stones, the Israelites were to write the Torah-law and then coat these stones with lime plaster. Elohim also told them to build an altar there where they were to make burnt and peace offerings. Why was the Torah written on stones on Mount Ebal—the mountain of the curses? Why not on Mount Gerizim, the mountain of blessing? Certainly this cannot mean that the Torah is a curse, for Paul calls it kadosh (holy), just and good in Romans 7:12. What could these stones represent symbolically? 

First, this symbology tells us that those who don’t follow the Torah will come under a curse, for to violate it is sin (1 John 3:4), and the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23), and every person has sinned (Rom 3:23). 

Second, Who is the Chief Cornerstone, the Stone the builders rejected (Ps 118:22; Matt 21:42; Acts 4:11; Eph 2:20), and the stone cut without hands (Dan 2:34)? What was the purpose of these offerings and to whom do the burnt and peace offerings point? Could white lime plaster symbolically represent the saints, the bride of Messiah, being clothed in robes of righteousness (see Rev 19:7–8)? Who is the King of Righteousness through whom redeemed sinners become righteous? Who is clothed in robes of righteousness once their sins have been atoned for? (Read Heb 7:2, 20–28 cp. Rev 19:7–8 cp. 3:5, 18; Isa 61:10.) Who was wounded for our ­transgressions and bruised for our iniquities, had laid on him the iniquities of us all, and was made an offering for sin (Isa 53:5, 6, 10)? Who was the Living Torah, the Word of Elohim made flesh (John 1:1, 14)? Who redeemed us from the curses of the law (Gal 3:13), which came upon us as a result of our sinning (sin is the violation of YHVH’s law, 1 John 3:4), and thus bringing a death penalty upon us (the wages of sin is death, Rom 6:23)? 

Mount Ebal

Is it now making sense why the Torah and the altar were placed on Mount Ebal? This is another one of the many prophetic shadow pictures in the Torah pointing to the redemptive work of Yeshua at the cross. Let us give glory to Elohim who knows the beginning from the end and to Yeshua the Messiah, the Lamb of Elohim, who was slain from the foundation of the world for our salvation! 

Does this strengthen your faith that Yeshua is indeed the Messiah, the Lamb of Elohim slain from the foundation of the earth? Who else could have fulfilled these prophecies?

Deuteronomy 27:11–28:68, Moses commanded the people.YHVH required the Israelites to recite a “pledge of allegiance” affirming their commitment to him before entering the Land. What can we learn from this? Is this something we should do from time to time in our own spiritual walk: recite pledges of commitment to YHVH and set up spiritual markers or reference points in our lives as tokens of our allegiance to him to which we can harken back when the going gets tough? These are acts of the will that when done can engage the heart and stir up feelings of love, devotion and remembrance.

Deuteronomy 27:11–16, Freedom versus bondage. Christian author Matthew Henry in his commentary on this verse points out something very interesting that none of the Jewish Torah commentaries I have read mention: The six tribes appointed to read the blessings from Mount Gerizim were all children of free women (Leah and Rachel). What are the spiritual implications of this? (Compare this with Paul’s discussion of the free and bondwoman pertaining to Isaac and Ishmael in Galatians 4:21–31.) To which children do the promises of YHVH’s material and spiritual blessing (namely, eternal life through Yeshua the Messiah) belong: those who are in bondage to or under the curses of the Torah-law because they walk in sin (which is the transgression of the law, see 1 John 3:4), or to those who walk in obedience to the Torah (i.e. in sinlessness or who walk in YHVH’s instructions and teachings in righteousness)? This brings up yet another issue. Is the purpose of the Torah simply to condemn people, as is taught in the mainstream church, and to bring people into spiritual bondage, and beyond that, the Torah’s only purpose is to point people to the cross after which it is to be discarded like a dirty old rag? This may be what men’s traditions and doctrines teach, but this is not what the Word of Elohim declares. Selah.

Deuteronomy 27:11–26, Cursed. What are the broader principles or remez understanding behind each of these curses? Imagine how much better the world be if people obeyed these commandments and what they imply. The Creator gave man these laws to keep the civil peace and order in society. When violated, they result in social upheaval, wars, strife,  conflicts, destruction and all sorts of evil consequences between individuals and people-groups.

  • Verse 16—Do not treat your father or mother with contempt: Respect your elders and older people in general.
  • Verse 17—Do not move your neighbor’s property line: Respect the property rights of others, and do not steal anything from your neighbor.
  • Verse 18—Do not make the blind to wander off the road: Take care of the handicapped, disabled and sick among you. Do not take advantage of them.
  • Verse 19—Do not take legal advantage of the stranger, fatherless or widow: Do not take advantage of the underprivileged, poor or the helpless people in society.
  • Verse 20—Do not have sexual relations with your step-mother: Do not have sexual involvements with any non-blood related family member.
  • Verse 21—Do not have sexual relations with animals: What more can be added to this command?
  • Verse 22—Do not have sexual relations with your sister: All incest is forbidden.
  • Verse 23—Do not have sexual relations with your mother-in-law: Again, do not have sexual involvements with any non-blood related family member.
  • Verse 24—Do not attack your neighbor secretly: Have open and honest dealings with everyone around you including your enemies.
  • Verse 25—Do not take a bribe to slay an innocent person: Do not pervert justice, lie or twist the truth to your advantage.
  • Verse 26—Do not violate YHVH’s Torah-law: All of YHVH’s commandments are to be followed.

Deuteronomy 27:11–28, Blessing and curses for obedience. In these verses we find listed some of the blessings and cures for Torah obedience. Do you believe the Torah principles (spiritual truths) of blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience to YHVH’s Word are for us today? If not why not? Is it because you are listening to Bible preachers and teachers who claim to know and teach the Word of Elohim, but who are instead teaching the doctrines and traditions of men by which the Word of Elohim has been made of none effect (see Mark 7:13)?

The following are some questions to ask yourself when considering Elohim’s Torah and the blessings and curses that come upon us as a result of our response to these instructions in righteousness, which are a reflection of the character and nature of the Creator: Does YHVH’s character, Truth or Word change? If the blessings listed in these verses are not being manifested in your life why might that be? Could it relate possibly to your level of Torah obedience and faith or trust level vis-à-vis YHVH and his Word? What changes could you make in your life that might place you in a more favorable position to receive his blessings rather than the curses?

Deuteronomy 27:15–18, The commandments are all inter-connected. To the casual reader, the admonitions contained in these verses may seem to be arranged in a random order, but this is not the case. Let’s discuss the purposeful design of the order in which Elohim gives this commandments.

Consider the following: The prohibition against idolatry (verse 15) is juxtaposed with that of degrading one’s parents (i.e. not honoring one’s parents, or as S. R. Hirsch states in his commentary, “who outwardly is respectful to his parents but inwardly considers himself vastly superior to them”) along with trespassing against one’s neighbor’s property by removing his neighbor’s boundary markers or landmarks. 

Now consider this: One who does not honor and fear YHVH but turns to idolatry (the second commandments) will not honor one’s parents (the fifth commandment) (and vice versa) will likewise not honor the property of one’s neighbor (including his neighbor’s wife). 

Juxtaposed next to these commands is the prohibition against misleading a blind person (verse 18). This means that we should not take advantage of one’s blindness by advising a blind person in a way beneficial to us and detrimental to him. 

Following this commandment is the principle about one who steals justice from another by perverting judgment against one who is weaker socially or financially or who is less informed at law than another thereby giving the advantage to the stronger (The ArtScroll Davis Edition Baal HaTurim Chumash/Devarim, pp. 2126–2127). 

Can you see how each command is interrelated with all the others? Does this not give one insight into the curious statement found in James 2:10, which declares that if you have broken one commandment you have broken them all? This should help us to see that in one way or the other, all of YHVH’s commandments are inter-related, all depend on each other, and they all stand or fall together. 

Now relate James 2:10 back to verse eight of the same chapter where James notes that the entire Torah-law can be summarized as the “royal law of love.” 

As you review YHVH’s list of prohibitions in Deuteronomy 27 can you see any other relationships between these juxtaposed concepts? Learning to exegete (draw truth out of) Scripture in this manner will yield a whole new level of spiritual revelation to the reader.

 

Deuteronomy 23 and 25—Natan’s Commentary Notes

More from Deuteronomy 23

Deuteronomy 23:9, Keep yourself from every wicked thing. An aspect of physical warfare or, more importantly as it pertains to the saint, in spiritual warfare that many Bible teachers who teach on the subject fail to cover is the spiritual state of the warrior.  The focus is usually on the enemy or the battle tactics employed, but, again, not on the condition of soldier who is going up against the enemy of the people of Elohim. This section of the Torah covers this oft-overlooked subject (vv. 9–14). 

The word wicked as found in this verse is the generic Hebrew word ra or ra’ah meaning in its most basic sense “evil, bad or distress.” So what does the Torah state in this passage that makes a person evil or bad and unclean and is thus offensive to Elohim? Simply this: bodily emissions that happen to naturally emanate from the human body whether it be human waste or seminal emissions. Such occurrences take a man from a state of ritually purity or being clean (Heb. tahor) to being unclean (Heb. tamay). The solution to the problem is, in the case of nocturnal emissions, cleansing by water, and in the case of the eliminations of bodily waste, burying the waste. What this teaches us it that if one goes into battle in an unclean state, this is offensive to Elohim, and the soldier may not have the favor of Elohim while he is engaging the enemy in battle. This is not a good thing for the warrior!

When it comes specifically to spiritual warfare (as outlined in 1 Cor 10:4–6 and Eph 6:10–18), the drash or homiletical level understanding of this passage teaches us that when engaging the enemy in spiritual battle, the saint must be as clean as possible spiritually. That means that all unconfessed sins need to be repented of and that all illicit behavior must be eliminated from one’s life if one expects the benefits of YHVH’s miraculous aid. One be continually washed clean of sin by the blood of Yeshua the Messiah and by the water of the Word and the Spirit of Elohim.

Because these principles of ritual and spiritual purity are usually not taught to the saints, it is no wonder that many times our prayers are not answered and that the enemy trounces Christians on the streets, in the courts, in the political arena and many other battlefields in various venues in our society. 

All this is to say that the saint must clean up his own act and house first before confronting the enemies of Elohim to do the same. Both Yeshua and Paul address the hypocrisy of those who point the fingers at others while guilty of the same or similar sins.

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matt 7:1–5)

Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of Elohim is according to truth against those who practice such things. (Rom 2:1–2)

Deuteronomy 25

Deuteronomy 25:4, You shall not muzzle. According to Hirsch, this law applies not only to animals, but to workmen as well. It stands to reason logically, if YHVH cares about feeding animals while working, how much more should employers be concerned for their workmen? Rashi disagrees and says it refers only to animals (and not to workmen) and specifically to those animals that are involved in the production of food as would be the case with an ox that was used in treading out grain (to separate the kernel from the chaff). Paul disagrees with Rashi and views this Torah command as a more broadly applicable proverb implying that an employer should not deprive his employees of their wages. He specifically applies this principle to individuals who minster the gospel (1 Cor 9:9; 1 Tim 5:19). Those who work in YHVH spiritual field (the church), Paul reasons, should be supported by those they serve.

Continue reading
 

Deuteronomy 22 and 23—Natan’s Commentary Notes

Deuteronomy 22

Deuteronomy 22:1–4, Caring for a brother’s property. Concern for the property of others is the subject of these verses. In this respect, let us not forget the second half of the shema: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18). What is the response of the wicked with respect to concern for their neighbor’s well being? (Read Gen 4:9.) On this passage of Scripture one rabbinical commentator states: “[T]he commandment to return lost property is ‘fundamental’ and that ‘all society depends upon it.’ It is not just a matter of one person taking care of another’s possessions or of ‘loving’ another. What is important here is the critical matter of ‘trust’ among human beings. A society depends upon the faith people place in one another. Without people feeling that they can rely upon one another—that others are looking out for what belongs to me and I must look out for what belongs to them—society collapses in suspicion, selfishness, and bitter contention” (A Torah Commentary For Our Time, vol. 3, p. 149).

Deuteronomy 22:9, You shall not sow your vineyards with different kinds of seed. (See notes at Lev 19:19.)

Deuteronomy 22:10, You shall not plow with an ox and with a donkey(that is, a kosher animal with a non-kosher animal). Baal Ha Turim, the ancient Jewish Torah scholar, interprets this verse to mean that a righteous person should not enter into a business partnership with a wicked person. The Mishnah states: “Distance yourself from a bad neighbor; and do not bind yourself to a wicked person (Avos 1:7, The ArtScroll Baal HaTurim Chumash, p. 2065). What does the Testimony of Yeshua say about being unequally yoked with unbelievers? (See 1 Cor 15:33; 2 Cor 6:14.)

Deuteronomy 22:5–12, Various laws. Matthew Henry in his commentary says of these various laws: “God’s providence extends itself to the smallest affairs, and his precepts do so, that even in them we may be in the fear of the Lord, as we are under his eye and care…. If we would prove ourselves to be God’s people, we must have respect to his will and to his glory, and not to the vain fashions of the world. Even in putting on our garments, as in eating or in drinking, all must be done with serious regard to preserve our own and other’s purity in heart and actions.” Let’s think and meditate on this.

Deuteronomy 22:6–7, If a bird’s nest.What does this passage teach us about caring for the environment and being good stewards of YHVH’s creation? How about showing mercy to animals and man’s role in preserving the species? What are the broader implications here? What are you doing to protect the environment, and to be good stewards of this earth? It starts at with each of us with our own home and garden—the tiny spot on earth that YHVH has given us to tend and keep.

Deuteronomy 23

Deuteronomy 23:2, A child of incest shall not. Mamzer (translated in the KJV as bastard; NKJV one of illegitimate birth) means “a child of a prohibited marriage.”Contrary to popular opinion, this is not referring to one born out of wedlock (the result of fornication or premarital relations), but rather the fruit of an incestuous or adulterous relationship (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 1054). According to S. R. Hirsch, a Jewish Torah scholar, a mamzer was disadvantaged legally in no other way except that he was excluded from the assembly or congregation (qahal) of YHVH. According to The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, the Hebrew word qahal is equivalent to the Greek word ecclesia,which is commonly translated as church in the NT (ibid., vol. 2, p. 790). What does Torah’s treatment of a mamzer say about YHVH’s view of the sanctity of marriage and the family and the upholding of such as a cornerstone institution within the assembly of the saints? Hirsch comments on this verse, “[A] mamzer accordingly represents, by his existence, a sin against those laws by which God wishes marriage in His qahal to be elevated out of the sphere of simply physical association by that which [the Talmud in] Kiddushin [73a] expresses” (Judaica Press The Pentateuch/Deuteronomy, p. 456). 

In the Torah, premarital sex is not a capital offense. When it happened, the man was either to marry the young lady, or he had to pay a fine to her father. Incest, however, like homosexuality, was an abomination in YHVH’s eyes (Lev 18:6–18, 26–29), thus it would stand to reason that YHVH would take a harder stand on the product of such a sexual union. The point is to teach his people not to get involved in such sinful sexual practices in the first place. 

Deuteronomy 23:10–15, When the army goes out. With regard to the sanctity of the camp, the Jewish sages teach that whereas other armies triumph by force of numbers and arms, Israel’s success is in the hands of Elohim, and, therefore, its army’s most potent weapon is its righteous behavior (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 1055). Holiness and righteousness (i.e. obedience to YHVH’s commands coupled with trusting faith in Yeshua and in his blood atonement) can help us defeat our enemies (see Rev 1:5; 12:11, 17; 14:12). Though the phrase, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is not found in the Scriptures, it is nevertheless a true statement in light of this Torah passage.

Deuteronomy 23:18, Price of a dog. The price of a dog, according to Keil and Delitzsch, is not the price paid for the sale of a dog, but is a figurative expression used to denote the gains of a male prostitute, who was called thus by the Greeks because of the dog-like manner in which homosexuals debase themselves sexually. YHVH considers homosexuality so abominable that he specifically lists dogs (along with sorcerers, murders, idolators and liars) as being excluded from the New Jerusalem (Rev 22:15).