Concourse With the World—A Slippery Slope

Numbers 33:55, If you do not drive out. In his instructions to his children, YHVH is serious: he doesn’t want his saints to countenance the ungodly heathens that were around them in any way.

One has only to read in the pages of the Scriptures the long and sad history of Israel’s numerous involvements with the societies around them resulting in their fall into apostasy again and again.

The reason for this tendency toward spiritual declension is simple. The answer is found in 1 Corinthians 15:33. What does YHVH require his people to do in the face of evil? (See Ps 94:16.)

The problem is that when an unsuspecting saint begins to toy with sin and sinners, slowly and imperceptibly the slide down the proverbial spiritual slippery slope begins. This is what happened to Lot when he left Abraham and moved toward Sodom (review Gen 13:10–12 cp. 19:1–26). Next, we see that Lot is married with children, has a home in Sodom and is a leader there. Even though the Scriptures consider Lot to be a righteous man, it was nevertheless difficult for him to leave that wicked city. Though Lot’s wife left Sodom physically, she couldn’t leave it emotionally. (Remember Yeshua’s warning to us in Luke 17:32 as pertaining to the last days. Let us also not forget Yeshua’s warning to the church of Laodicea in (see Rev 3:14–22).

 

Understanding the Biblical Concept of Atonement

Numbers 31:50, Make atonement. 

Exploring the Concept of Atonement as It Relates to the Tabernacle and Salvation

In Numbers 31:50 we read,

We have therefore brought an oblation for YHVH, what every man has gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before YHVH.” In a similar passage in Exodus 30:15–16, we read, “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto YHVH, to make an atonement for your souls. And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before YHVH, to make an atonement for your souls (emphasis added).

The question before us is this: Do these passages in the Torah imply that YHVH grants man absolution based something other than the shedding of blood, and by logical extension, does this call into question our redemption from sin through our faith in Yeshua the Messiah’s blood atonement?

The concept of atonement can be a confusing one. Some in rabbinic Jewish circles teach that the Torah (i.e. the first five books of the Bible) does not require the shedding of blood for atonement of one’s sin to occur. According to the above scripture, this could appear to be the case. Before briefly discussing the subject of atonement, let us not forget the stern warnings of the Apostle Peter when he warned end-time saints against false teachers who would lure people away from the simple truth of the gospel:

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingers not, and their damnation slumbers not…. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly Continue reading

 

Wage war against moral looseness starting in your own life!

Imaginary Photo: Imagine a woman in a bikini sunbathing on the beach.

Numbers 31:3, Take vengeance on the Midianites. YHVH is vehemently opposed to moral looseness. Midian, through its seductive women, nearly destroyed Israel. The decisive actions of a morally straight leadership prevented Israel from going the way of so many nations that have since collapsed due to moral decay.

Sexual looseness and perversion must not be allowed to gain even a momentary toehold into our lives.

Do you aggressively resist and fight against the spiritual Midianites that would destroy your life, your family, your marriage and your spiritual destiny, or do you even slightly countenance the enemies of your soul in the secret or hidden areas of your life just to placate the passions of your carnal and sin-bent nature?

The spirit of Midian is to be found everywhere from the magazine rack at the checkout stand to the morning newspaper advertising women’s undergarments, from bumper stickers to billboards, from television ads (not to mention the television shows themselves) to the internet, and among political, religious leaders and entertainment celebrities. How about the modern immodest and decadent clothing styles of our youth, which barely cover the body, and where little is left to the imagination?

How does one defend oneself against this incessant onslaught?

Remember, the best defense is a strong offense.

Resolve and settle in your heart and mind ahead of time how you will react against the darts of the enemy when you suddenly find them aimed at you, and then stick to your defense plan! Pull down every mental stronghold and take every thought captive to the mind of Yeshua, and flee all lusts. (Strengthen yourself spiritually by reading the following scriptures: 1 Cor 6:18; 10:14; 2 Cor 10:3–6; 2 Tim 2:22.)

 

Shabbat—A Day to Seek Elohim

Numbers 28:9, On the Sabbath day. Every Sabbath YHVH required double sacrifices to be offered. This being a foundational principle, shouldn’t we spend more time seeking him on Shabbat? What types of activities should fill our Sabbath time that are of a devotional, worshipful nature?

Shouldn’t all of our Sabbath-day activities somehow point to YHVH, and in some way strengthen our walk with and ties to our Creator, and our ties to others who are of the household of faith?

Let’s not forget an important truth: Keeping Torah is not about bondage (to a legalistic set of dos and don’ts); it’s a vehicle to promote bonding (building loving relationship between man and his Creator, between man and his fellow man).

 

The Daughters of Zelophehad and Equal Rights for Woman

Numbers 27:1–11, The daughters of Zelophehad. A Torah Commentary For Our Times/ATCFOT (UHAC Press, NY, 1993) has an interesting discussion regarding the incident involving the daughters of Zelophehad (Num. 27:1–11) that may answer some questions that contemporary women have regarding the Torah’s view of women. “Modern commentator Jacob Milgrom contrasts ancient Israelite practices of inheritance with those of their neighbors.” He notes that the practice of equality of inheritance between sons and daughters was upheld in Egypt and Mesopotamia one thousand years before the codification of the Torah. Later on the Greeks can be added to this list of countries that practiced “equal rights.” Milgrom then asks, “In face of such ‘equality’ of treatment how then are we to explain the fact that the Bible gives women no inheritance rights except in the case where there are no sons?” Does the Torah seem to discriminate against women regarding the inheritance of land and property from the estates of their parents, he asks? (p. 80).

“Milgrom suggest that in contrast to ancient Israel’s neighbors…where ‘centralized urban societies’ already existed, the early Torah laws of the Israelites reflect a nomadic-clan structure. In such a society ‘the foremost goal of its legal system was the preservation of the clan.’ Equity between members of the tribe or family preserves peaceful relationships and strengthens cooperation between all person.” He goes on to say that this explains the justness of the pleas of the daughters of Zelophehad where the principle of upholding the clan is preserved. The Torah sees that the daughters receive their father’s inheritance and at the same time that the clan and father’s name are preserved. (ibid.)

This solution does not promote equal rights, as we know it today, with sons regarding inheritance. Both the Torah and Talmud teach that in most cases inheritance of property is from father to son and that women share the lot of their husbands and do not inherit from their fathers (Ibid., quoting from JPS Commentary: Numbers, pp. 482–484).

The Jewish sages further note that though the daughters aired their complaints about what they perceived to be an unjust situation, they nonetheless did so in a respectful and organized (not rebellious, loud, boisterous or aggressive) manner. They calmly “drew near” and “stood before Moses,” the high priest and the tribal princes of Israel (verses 1-2) and aired their concerns in neither a threatening nor challenging manner. There was no subversiveness on their part involving other potential disgruntled parties (as was the case when Korah and his group rebelled against Moses’ leadership). According to rabbinic tradition, the daughters in their wisdom chose a suitable place, a proper time and the proper approach to lobby Moses regarding their issues (ibid.; ArtScroll Davis Edition Baal HaTurim Bamidbar, p. 1691–1692). 

Does not such an approach recall several other woman of righteous stature in similar situations that are mentioned in Scripture: Sarah to Abraham, Abigail toward David, Ruth before Boaz and Esther before Ahasuerus and various women before Yeshua?

S. R. Hirsch in his commentary translates verse seven as follows:

Quite right is the speech of the daughters of Zelophehad, thou shalt surely give them male rights of hereditary possession among their father’s brethren and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass over to them. (emphasis added) 

Hirsch notes from the Hebrew grammar in this verse that they spoke with correctness of speech and presentation of fact. “That which the daughters of Zelophehad have said is quite as it ought to be, their speech corresponds to the truth and right (The Pentateuch/Bamidbar, pp. 453–454, Judaica Press).

Note that YHVH is the One stating (to Moses) that they have spoken that which is right, proper and truthful. Rashi in his commentary on this verse states, “Fortunate is the person whose words the Holy One, Blessed is He, confirms.” Rashi goes on to say that these daughters saw or uncovered an aspect of the eternal truth of the Torah that was resident in the heart of YHVH but which had not been revealed to man yet. Their eye Continue reading

 

Phinehas: Who Will Stand Up Against Evil?

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? Psalm 94:16

By in large, most Bible believers (no matter the label: Christian, Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Messianic, Hebrew Christian, Hebrew Roots or whatever) are nice, and well meaning people who want to do right, but, at the same time, are sit-on-your-thumbs do nothing pacifists. They refuse to actively confront evil.

These folks suffer from a spiritual disease called ‘none-rock-the-boat-itis.”

Make no mistake. Yeshua wasn’t a go-along-to-get-along kind of person! Nor were the prophets, apostles, disciples and preachers of righteousness whose lives and actions the Bible record.

Those who suffer from this spiritual malady of super-spiritualism are lukewarm believers. Period! They need to look at themselves in the mirror and ask themselves a serious question: “What am I doing to be salt and light in the world? To help fulfill the great  commission? To help advance the kingdom of Elohim? To spread the gospel?

Everyone can do something no matter how little or large.

Too many people are like the unprofitable servant in Yeshua’s parable who lazily buried his talent in the ground and chose, instead, to live a selfish, me-centered life. Remember what Yeshua’s response to this person was on judgment day in Matthew 25?

His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.  And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 25:26–30)

Numbers 25:7, Phinehas…took a javelin. Phinehas, the priest, rose up against evil and took a stand for righteousness and YHVH commended him for it. In this case, the grandson of Aaron the high priest was not acting as a self-appointed vigilante as it may appear. Rather, YHVH had given the priests the authority to act as judges in Israel and to pronounce sentence in criminal matters (Deut 17:9–11). Additionally, Phinehas was doubly justified in his action against the fornicators, since he was an eyewitness of these sexual crimes, and the Torah teaches that the hand of the eyewitness was to be the first to rise up in executing judgment against the criminals (Deut 17:6; Ezek 44:24). So as an eyewitness and as a priest, he was legally justified in his actions. The priests and Levites were to act as Israel’s legal experts (Lev 10:10–11; Deut 24:8; 33:10; 2 Chron 17:9; 30:22; Neh 8:2, 8; Hag 2:11; Ezek 44:23; Mal 2:7) and to make determinations between the holy and the profane (Ezek 22:26; 44:23).

Who are YHVH’s priest on the earth today? According to Peter, and John the saints are those priests (1 Pet 2:7; Rev 1:6; 5:10; 20:6). As such, the saints presently possess the divinely mandated legal authority to fulfill the responsibilities of the priesthood of old when it comes to teaching the laws of Elohim to the nations in which they live (Lev 10:10–11). Moreover, Yeshua, our Great High Priest, has tasked his disciples with the responsibility and authority to judge righteously (i.e. to make judgments according to YHVH’s standards of righteousness, John 7:24), and to be spiritual fruit inspectors (Matt 7:15–20). Today, this responsibility is primarily exercised within the congregation of the righteous (1 Cor 5:12; 6:1–6). However, besides this, the righteous saints are to act as spiritual salt in this world and to be like a spiritual light on a hill for the world to see (Matt 5:13–16). This means that they are to preach the gospel to the world, to make disciples and to teach those around them all that Yeshua has commanded them (Matt 28:18–20; Mark 16:15–16). This means that the saints have heaven’s authority and commission to act as the spiritual and moral compass and conscience for the nations in which they live. This means that they will be standing against evil wherever and however they can as directed by the Spirit of Elohim, even as Phinehas did.

It is time that the righteous servants of YHVH Elohim begin to stand up in a more vocal and demonstrative way against the evil that is being foisted upon our society by those who are bent upon destroying the family, morality, and any vestiges of biblical standards of righteousness that may still exist around us. In Psalm 94:16, YHVH asks the question of his servants, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?” With this in mind, the question we need to ask ourselves is this: If not me, who; if not now, when? If you have something worth living for, then do you have something worth giving your life for? If those who are caught up in demonically inspired religious systems are willing to die for their faith calling it “a holy war” and “martyrdom for their [demon] god,” can the saints of YHVH at least not take a verbal stand against the tide of evil that is sweeping our society?

The Bible is full of examples of YHVH’s servants standing against unrighteousness in their day and their receiving YHVH’s blessing for it. Several examples include the Hebrew midwives disobeying the edict of Pharaoh to commit infanticide (Exod 1:15–22), Phinehas executing judgment against the fornicators (Num 25:7–8), the three Hebrew children refusing to worship the golden image (Dan 3:8–18), Daniel violating the king’s edicts by praying to YHVH (Dan 6:10–12), John the Baptist criticizing Herod for his adultery (Mark 6:18), Yeshua turning over the money changers’ tables in the temple (Matt 21:12), and Peter and John for disobeying the Jewish leaders’ command to not preach the gospel (Acts 4:18–20). Many more examples could be given. Remember all the biblical prophets? 

Numbers 25:11, Has turned back my wrath…because he was zealous. Read Psalm 94:16. What are some other examples of righteous men and women in the Bible who stood up against evil in their day whom YHVH praised for doing so? Did Phinehas rise up against evil in his own carnally-minded, emotionally-based zeal? If not, then whose zeal was he full of? (Read verse 11 again.) When we take a stand against evil as led by the Word and Spirit of the YHVH Elohim, can it ever be wrong to do so, even though the world may not agree with us and may even criticize or persecute us for doing so? Not only that, Phinehas placed his life on the line between the righteous judgment of Elohim and those who were sinning. Many times, the servants of YHVH actually have to leave their comfort zones and place themselves in harm’s way on the ragged edge between good and evil to take a stand for YHVH Elohim. (Note Aaron’s actions in Num 16:46–50.) The examples of such actions from the pages of the Scriptures are too numerous to list. Some notable examples include: 

  • Noah preaching righteousness against the utterly corrupt generation of his day.
  • David versus Goliath (1 Sam 17)
  • Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal (1 Kgs 18:20ff)
  • John the Baptist confronting King Herod (Matt 14)
  • Yeshua confronting the religious leaders of his day on numerous occasions (e.g. Matt 23)
  • Peter and John versus the Jewish leaders (Acts 4)
  • Stephen confronting the Jewish leaders (Acts 7)
  • Paul and Silas preaching against false religion in Philippi (Acts 16) and preaching the gospel on the streets in Thessolonica (Acts 17), in Corinth (Acts 18) and again in Ephesus (Acts 19)

At times, YHVH tried to find such a person who would stand for his truth, but was unable to do so (see Jer 5:1; Ezek 22:30).

 

Are You Cursable?

Numbers 22:11–12, Dealing with curses from the enemy. Make no mistake about it, false prophets are neither the friends of YHVH nor his people. They are grievous wolves who hate YHVH’s people and want their total destruction.

For example, in verse 11 Balak asks Balaam to pronounce a mild curse (arah) on Israel that would result simply in their being driven away, not on their being destroyed. But then notice in verse 17 how Balak employs a much stronger Hebrew expression (kavah) to curse Israel implying their total destruction, thus indicating Balaam’s hatred for Israel (and his contempt for YHVH).

In verse 12, YHVH uses the milder term to let Balaam know that even the mildest curse would not prevail against his people (The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, p. 858).

Do you walk so closely to YHVH in relationship with Yeshua and in his righteousness that you are protected from even the mildest curse directed at you from the enemy? Do you stay under the blood of Yeshua so that no spiritual darts of Satan can pierce your spiritual armor (Eph 6:16; Rev 12:11)? Do you take refuge perpetually under the shadow of the wings of the Almighty (Ps 91:1, 4)? How does the child of YHVH do this every day?

Proverbs 26:2 states, “As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.” Do you have any “spiritual doors” open so that the Evil One has “legal” entrance into your life to attack you?

The solution to the problem is to repent by turning from sin and then turn to Yeshua! Obey his Word so that you do not open yourself up to the curses for disobedience as mentioned in Deuteronomy 28.