Category Archives: Parsha

Blessings in Disobedience

Blessings in Disobedience

What a shock when I realized, just because I was being blessed financially and with physical possessions, I could at the same time be disobeying God! I had always believed God’s blessing followed obedience to His Instruction (often translated as Law). However, I now realize receiving His blessings is not necessarily evidence of complete obedience.

This seeming conundrum was brought home to me by a teaching from alephbeta.org on the life of Isaac taken from Genesis 25:19 and following. This teaching hinges on the Hebrew word guwr (גור) in Chapter 26 verse 3. I checked 12 different bible translations. Roughly half of them translate the word as either dwell, stay or live. The other half of the translations translate it as sojourn or tarry—in the context of a temporary stay. Strong’s Concordance and Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon agree with the latter translation of this seemingly insignificant word. I won’t try to explain the translation differences, except to note Isaac’s disregard of this word would complicate his life and be the grist for a life lesson making application even in my spiritual life today.

So, let’s talk story. There was a famine in the land. Isaac thought of going to Egypt. The Lord said, “No, “sojourn” in Gerar and I’ll prosper you.” Isaac went to Gerar, but seems to have forgotten to just sojourn.
He gathered great flocks, servants, and had big harvests. The apparent blessings of the Lord were perceived with envy and as a threat to Gerar. Finally, the King of Gerar told him to leave. Isaac left, but only went a little ways. He was still in the Valley of Gerar. The heat gets turned up a little. The Gerar shepherds start denying Isaac’s flocks water. They were claiming the wells which Isaac’s father had dug years earlier were actually theirs.

After repeated conflict over the wells, Isaac finally moved far enough away. Perhaps he finally saw the comforts of Gerar had blinded him to the will of God. As evidence, the new well digging paid off with great, uncontested wells. As a bonus confirmation, the King of Gerar came to make peace with this blessed man of God. As for Isaac, he was back living in tents, as did his father. He undertook again his mandate from God to “occupy” the land that was promised by God to be the inheritance of Isaac and his father, Abraham. Perhaps “sojourn” would be a word to be passed from father to sons

In my experience, I call this “sojourn” aspect of God’s guidance “the Cloud of His presence.” Although all the trappings of blessing may be evident, am I where God wants me to be? I wonder, if in Isaac’s “prosperity” he ever questioned God as to what He meant by sojourn? Surrounded by his stuff did he get the feeling he had stayed too long in Gerar? Did the potential loss of his stuff have to be threatened before he “heard?”

Lord, give me eyes to see, ears to hear, don’t let your blessing dim my perception. May I ever be aware of the moving of the Cloud of Your Presence.

Did Jacob do it right?

Did Jacob do it right?
Deu 21 (Ki Teitzei) thoughts:
Some writers feel the “unloved wife” portion of this Torah parsha is in reference to Jacob, Leah and Reuben.
If that is so, then perhaps the rebellious son portion which follows should also be considered:
1. Re the rebellious son. If he is to be described or confessed by father and mother as worthless and a drinker, doesn’t this put him into the category of an adult son, one who is probably not pulling his share of the load (or, who seduced his father’s concubine)? You normally wouldn’t define a younger child as such.
2. Since the rebellious son law follows the first born law, if the first born law is a criticism of Jacob’s treatment of Reuben, then possibly the rebellious son law is a “solution” which Jacob should have followed.
3. Although Jacob didn’t physically apply the rebellious son law re Reuben, perhaps he did spiritually through the “blessing” he pronounced on him—acknowledging first born status and demoting Reuben, with cause, at the same time. (Gen 49:3)

Not that this line of thinking would change anything, it just seems to be more equitable in the Reuben-Joseph first born controversy. In a sense it makes the “unloved wife” question moot.

Did Jacob do it right? Good question for when the Torah comes forth from Zion!

My loved wife (of 63 years) and I continue to be amazed, year after year, at the deep well of the Torah.

Seek First the Kingdom

Seek First the Kingdom

Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said Ex18:24

Rabbi David Forman makes an interesting proposition out of the dialogue between Moses and his father-in-law Jethro. Jethro counsels Moses on appointing judges to relieve his burden. He throws in the caveat “and God so commands you.” There’s a strong possibility Moses didn’t seek God’s counsel. Moses himself writes that he did all Jethro had said about appointing the judges. He records nothing about seeking God first. Is it possible this significant oversight in seeking God when coupled with Moses’ yielding to his soulish response to strike the rock rather than speaking to it (Nu 20:11) was what kept him out of the promised land? If Rabbi Forman is correct in his interpretation, and I believe he is, a very important point is being made. When you have been called by God for a task He equips you and strengthens you to perform it. Either Moses was not called by God to do all the judging or else it seems Moses did not trust God for the ways and means to perform the task of judging.

God can and does send us a messenger, but it is our responsibility to go to God to be sure it is His message that is being delivered. Moses fell on his face before God when confronted by other challenges, but it would seem Moses seriously missed petitioning the Lord in this very important scenario. Is it possible he was in presumption in the first place in undertaking the responsibility of judging? Possibly it was his brother Aaron who should have been given the task. The priests in time would become the last resort in the appeal process.

How many times have I undertaken a project that at the time seemed so right. Then, with the passing of time the grand idea became a seemingly impossible burden. How easy it is then to “hear counsel” for a solution to get me out of my mess. “Lord, please help me to learn to submit every ‘good idea’ to you before I leap into it. And if I do leap first, let me be quick to repent and seek Your plan for extrication.” I’d hate to miss the promised land because I failed to first fall on my face before Yahweh!
Makes you wonder what was on Yeshua’s mind when He is recorded by both Matthew and Luke as admonishing to seek first the kingdom. (Mat 6:33 Luke 112:31)

Seek First the Kingdom

Seek First the Kingdom

Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said Ex18:24

Rabbi David Forman makes an interesting proposition out of the dialogue between Moses and his father-in-law Jethro. Jethro counsels Moses on appointing judges to relieve his burden. He throws in the caveat “and God so commands you.” There’s a strong possibility Moses didn’t seek God’s counsel. Moses himself writes that he did all Jethro had said about appointing the judges. He records nothing about seeking God first. Is it possible this significant oversight in seeking God when coupled with Moses’ yielding to his soulish response to strike the rock rather than speaking to it (Nu 20:11) was what kept him out of the promised land? If Rabbi Forman is correct in his interpretation, and I believe he is, a very important point is being made. When you have been called by God for a task He equips you and strengthens you to perform it. Either Moses was not called by God to do all the judging or else it seems Moses did not trust God for the ways and means to perform the task of judging.

God can and does send us a messenger, but it is our responsibility to go to God to be sure it is His message that is being delivered. Moses fell on his face before God when confronted by other challenges, but it would seem Moses seriously missed petitioning the Lord in this very important scenario. Is it possible he was in presumption in the first place in undertaking the responsibility of judging? Possibly it was his brother Aaron who should have been given the task. The priests in time would become the last resort in the appeal process.

How many times have I undertaken a project that at the time seemed so right. Then, with the passing of time the grand idea became a seemingly impossible burden. How easy it is then to “hear counsel” for a solution to get me out of my mess. “Lord, please help me to learn to submit every ‘good idea’ to you before I leap into it. And if I do leap first, let me be quick to repent and seek Your plan for extrication.” I’d hate to miss the promised land because I failed to first fall on my face before Yahweh!
Makes you wonder what was on Yeshua’s mind when He is recorded by both Matthew and Luke as admonishing to seek first the kingdom. (Mat 6:33 Luke 112:31)

Sins of the Fathers

Sins of the Fathers

In the Torah portion Chukat (Num 19:1-22:1) we find the Israelites for the second time approaching the river Jordan and entry into the promised land. But again as over 40 years ago they cry out, “If only we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! Why have you brought up the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.”(Nu 21:3-5) How many times has Moses heard this grumbling lament from God’s chosen?

The first time is recorded as being sometime in the second month after their miraculous deliverance from Egypt; after the manna starts falling and quail has been provided. They’re thirsty and cry out, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (Ex 16:2)

You might ask, “How could this new generation have possibly forgotten all the lessons learned for disobedience, rebellion, idol worship and lack of faith that has been experienced these past forty years?” The answer would seem to me to be one of sowing and reaping. It was Yahweh’s judgment in Numbers 14:29 that: “The carcasses of you who have complained against Me shall fall in this wilderness, all of you who were numbered, according to your entire number, from twenty years old and above.” Couple this with Yahweh’s pronouncement in Exodus 34:7 after the golden calf incident: , “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.” (italics added) –the sins of the fathers would come home to roost—there would be a reaping.

At the time of this last iteration of water lack complaint, the entire assembly which had engaged in the pilgrimage of faithless wanderings was gone. Every one who had been twenty years of age or older was gone. Only Caleb and Joshua remained. Even Miriam and Aaron were gone. Moses’ denial of entry into the promised land was sealed. As an aside I questioned how Eleazar was still on the scene (Nu 26:1). Was he not clothed in priestly tunic along with his father, Aaron, and his brothers Nedab and Abihu? (Ex 29:9) Yes, he was, but he must have been less than 20 at the time of the Sinai census.

Back to my theme. We can so easily see the failings of the fathers from the perspective of Moses’ recording of the historical events which occurred as many as 3500 years ago. We can take admonition as to the need to avoid idol worship, disbelief and rebellion, but there is one other truth we must also come away with: the urgency as fathers and mothers to warn, admonish, cajole, entreat, implore, oh, yes, and pray for our children that they not walk in our sin—in the sins of their fathers.

In Yahweh’s pronouncement in Exodus 34:7, the operative word is visiting. This changes the charge from sin being a certainty to one that says our children and our children’s children will be visited. They will be tempted to sin as we have sinned—including their generational history of sin..

I submit that one of two things happened in the forty years of desert wanderings by the Israelites. Either the fathers were so self-absorbed and fatalistically oriented that they did not practice the instruction of the Shema and teach their children. Or, the children did not heed the teaching and admonition and failed as the opportunity (temptation) to repeat the sins of their parents were presented to them (visited upon them). The Shema is the ancient prayer/command from Deuteronomy 6:6-9 prayed today in Judaism and by Messianic believers alike. It says we are to teach our children.

An additional observation can also be made of the responsibility of our teen agers. Eleazar, the High Priest, at the time of the crossing over of the Jordan, was by then a man at least in his 50’s. He, along with all his contemporaries who were in their teens at Sinai and who also observed the response to the spies’ report, could have been a powerful influence on this second and third generation preparing to enter the promised land. They were now the leaders. Their voices should have forcefully warned the community of the danger of challenging Yahweh and Moses’ leadership. The record seems silent—the visiting was again successful. Today’s teens must not be oblivious to what is happening outside their world. They must observe and prepare for that day when their voice should be sounded to avoid the mistakes of our spiritual history—our sin.

Yahweh has made every provision for us to take heed and take a positive action. Has not the blood of Yeshua given us a perfect shield against the forces of the visit? Yes, but as with every generation, the human spirit must be alert and active, the will exercised to withstand successfully the attack of the visit—the sins of the fathers. The blood of Yeshua will stop the “visitors” from becoming “residents.”