Category Archives: Torah Musings

A Feast–a Question–a Surprise Answer

A Feast—a Question—a Surprising Answer
From Leviticus 23 and 16, Matthew 4 and Hebrews 10:12

The Feast of Unleavened Bread casts its Godly spell—
Like cloud by day and fire by night bespeaks His presence.
This is an appointed time to drink from His Spirit’s well—
From our tabernacled heart, offerings as by fire are made.

Mysteries previously neither understood nor discerned
In this season have new light upon inquiries’ vent—
In these seven, leaven-less days truths are learned
From spirit pure—without sin’s ferment—answers will inure.

A question on Feast Day Two burned within my spirit’s eye.
Two goats of Aaron’s priestly duties now held thoughtful sway.
The one on whom the lot by seeming chance did now apply.
One to live, the other its blood on Yahweh’s altar to display.

For Aaron and his priestly clan this ritual ran its earthly span.
For the High Priest’s sin, an ox’s blood was with ceremony shed.
For the people’s sin, that goat chosen through Yahweh’s plan,
Would shed its blood and from Mercy Seat an offering raise.

But, what, you ask, of the Second Goat by lot so denominated?
Is its mission really to bear the people’s sin into the wilderness?
But wait! Is that not the mission of the First Goat so designated—
Whose blood on the Mercy Seat atoned for the people’s sin?

Is this not a scriptural inconsistency—can not one goat suffice?
The question then—why two goats to carry the people’s sin?
Sin divides into two parts—both of which you know the price.
There is the actual sin itself—which blood from Goat One expiates.

Goat Two carries temptation, not actual sin—that too must go—
Return temptation to its source—the barren waste, the arid place.
The High Priest no longer makes his faithful, annual tableau—
The Son of God has come to break this once, relentless cycle.

His shed blood—perfect sacrifice—both for sin and temptation meant.
Now temptation too bends its knee—Yeshua’s blood gives total victory!

Kennedy Brown
Gerizim
April 24, 2016

Comment:
I guess it’s my teacher gift which compels me to explain my poems. This poem combines several spiritual experiences I’ve tried to roll into one ball. To begin with it started with the Passover-Unleavened Bread feasts (Lev 23). I’m of the persuasion there is a special anointing from Father during His appointed times. During this season our family time activity of reading commentaries on the weekly Torah portion arrived at, Acharei Mot, in Leviticus 16. The question of the two-goat sacrifice discussed here has apparently been a puzzle for centuries.

As part of our discipline during Unleavened Bread, we seek Yahweh as to areas of our personal leaven as well as to puzzling questions in general. Such was my prayer on the eve of the second day of the feast.

The revelation my spirit received was that the second goat (the scape goat) was not a duplicated effort to remove the sin of the people, nor was it a prophetic statement of Messiah’s role as being the scape goat.

There are actually two aspects to sin. First, before we sin, there is the temptation. Then, if we succumb, the action following temptation is the commission of the sin for which the first goat’s blood was shed. To the second goat was then transferred, by the High Priest, the temptation to sin, not the sin, that had already been expiated by the first goat’s blood on the mercy seat.

Does Yahweh need a redundant system to cover our sin? I think not! Therefore, there must be some other explanation for the “scape goat.” That explanation is, I believe, seeing temptation to sin as being what was metaphorically being sent back to its source in the dry places. The function of the annual Levitical temple service is to free the people from the accumulated sin of the past year and to shield them from the temptations to come in the coming year.

What was again exciting to me was to realize the Matthew 4 recounting of Yeshua being led into the desert wilderness to face the temptations of Satan. This did not occur until Yeshua had been proclaimed Son of God. He was not a scape goat, bearing the sins back to a Goat god, He was the Messiah fearlessly invading the domain of the scape goat and his master—returning in victoriory. We have that same victory when we appropriate His shed blood to stand against the temptations by which we are beset.

A Lament for Bezalel

A Lament for Bezalel, Chosen of Yahweh
Parshat Vayakhel, especially Exodus 35:30-35

Bezalel, O Bezalel, you by Yahweh commended
To craft the work of His own designation−
Chosen alone from all the Hebrew nation
Upon whom the Spirit of God descended.

That you were a young man, it is surmised,
Yet with the engraver’s eye and jeweler’s skill
You wrought wonders−the tabernacle to fill.
Everyone except Yahweh was surprised.

Bezalel, anointed by Yahweh in Sinai land,
Tell us, now, what is your great reward?
You surely fell as though slain by sword;
Your bones remain in the desert’s sand.

Was it the spies’ report with which you agreed−
Or your lust for a Midianite maiden fair?
What fatal sin will your eternal records bare?
Was there not a lesson Yahweh’s children need?

A lament, O Bezalel, I now humbly offer:
Though my giftings flow from God’s own hand,
I too may find my bones in desert sand.
“Run the race to win”−that my reward not suffer.

Kennedy Brown
Gerizim
Erev Shabbat, March 4, 2016

While reading the Torah portion, Vayakhel, I was impressed with all the favor of Yahweh that resulted in Bezalel being called and equipped for construction of the tabernacle. Aleph Beta makes it even more impressive in that the past tense is used in describing Bezalel’s preparation as being from the “days of Creation.”

But then the reality hit me that Bezalel did not go into the promised land. He died with his generation in the desert wilderness. That is what can tritely be called a “sobering experience!” One which could call for some sober introspection.

I trust the “lament” somewhat captures this reality.

Something to Shout About

Something to Shout About

Two verses from the Torah have arrested my attention and consideration. What is my responsibility in this season of teshuva (repentance) for my failure to acknowledge the truth of Torah for so many of the years of my walk with Yeshua? Is there a possibility I have engendered curses affecting me–from my doing, my not doing, even from my generational line? Can there be something I can shout about? Let’s see. We’ll start with the verses:

‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law.’
“And all the people shall say, ‘Amen!’ ” Deuteronomy 27:26

“Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. Deuteronomy 28:45

As these verses from a recent weekly Torah reading jumped out at me I reasoned that in this lunar season of examination and repentance it was incumbent upon every follower of Yeshua to prayerfully consider where he is in relation to these scriptures. Our God is a jealous God. He did not give us, through Moses, the instructions of Torah as suggestions. He gave them to us that our obedience to them would produce blessings for us (Deu 28:1-14). To underscore the seriousness of His provision, He said there would be consequences for our failure to keep His adjurations of blessing–He called them curses.

Coming out of the charismatic mindset I thought curses only came through Satan–often through the vehicle of my relationships with others. I also understood the Law (Torah) was a curse. I had the mistaken understanding that Jesus (Yeshua) took this curse, that is, the Law and nailed it to the cross ending this burdensome mistake of regulations, the Law, that God had made through Moses. Surprise of surprises, when I found out, as Apostle Paul said, the Law is good! (Rom 7:12) What then was nailed to the cross? It was the curse from not keeping the Law. The perfect sacrifice was made–the broken body and shed blood of Yeshua–God come in the flesh. Now if I fail to keep the law, the attendant curse can be repented of and forgiven. Is this not the new covenant! We are no longer to suffer the curse of not keeping the Law IF we bring it under the Blood. But notice I said–IF.

Now, back to my original thesis–are there curses active in my life for my failure to confirm (and do) the instructions of Torah? In spiritually assessing the evolution of my walk with Yeshua I realized that I had never brought under the Blood of Yeshua my failure to keep Torah. Yes, I made a general confession of sin when I was born again. However, before I accepted Torah as God’s instructions for me today consider the 30+ intervening years from that first repentance, I had, in effect, rejected Torah. Can I say certain health issues, certain generational issues do not reflect the evidence of curse? When God has made a way, at an extreme price, for my freedom I must avail myself of the provision. Hence, a heartfelt confession and repentance. That’s something to shout (teruah) about–maybe even to have a day of shouting, using a shofar for amplification–let’s celebrate it as a feast of trumpets!

When Clothes Don’t Make the Man

It’s a trite saying that clothes do make the man, and trite sayings often have a ring of truth. Clothes can at least help make the man and that may be true of the phylacteries worn by some observant followers of Judaism. There may be a deeper truth for those who observe the commands of God yet look to His revelations expressed through His manifested self as Yeshua.

The Shema (Hebrew for listen or hear–Deu 6:4-9) says we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength. Many who practice Orthodox Judaism today wear phylacteries (Tefillin in Hebrew), at least during prayers. These are small leather boxes containing a portion of the Torah. They are worn in a strict interpretation of the Shema which says in verse 8: You shall bind them (the Words of Torah) as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. As I understand it, this injunction has been defined by the Talmud (recorded Rabinnic oral opinions of Torah) as the literal wearing of the phylacteries.

Yeshua (Jesus) in His earthly ministry often spoke of the “heart” of the Torah message. He saw beyond the legalistic observance of a particular passage to its practical application. For example, He said, paraphrased, “Torah says you shall not murder, but rather being angry with your brother without cause renders you liable for judgment—even calling your brother a fool.” Mat 5:21-22

I think it’s fair to say then that there is more to the directions of the Shema than to literally bind the word on your hand and between your eyes. In Yeshua’s theme of revealing the depth of an instruction, perhaps we could better say, “Everything I turn my hand to and every thought that goes through my mind will be guided by and be a demonstration of my love for God.”

Referring back to the first verse of Torah–the use of my hand is symbolic of my strength. The use of my mind is symbolic of my soul. Wearing the phylactery between the eyes implies the mind, but the Shema goes further and adjures loving God with the soul which is defined as being the mind, will and emotions. If we bring our emotions into the “love” formula of loving God we start coming very close to Yeshua’s speaking of the root of murder as anger and name calling. You can’t call your brother a fool while loving God. The apostle John further underlines this truth:

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4:20-21

The boxes strapped to your hand and forehead can serve as reminders, but the practice of the Shema, Yeshua-style, would be evidenced, daily, 24/7 in our (my) every thought, action, deed and especially spoken word. How many things do we do (wear) that would give the impression from outward appearance that may not be a true representation of the love of God? We have to be careful we’re not relying on our “clothes” to make the man!

Let today be the day–it’s a new moon

Since sundown last night (8/15) it is the first day of the Hebrew calendar month of Elul. I have intended to be a more faithful observer of the new moons*–God’s cyclical, visual reminder of His plan of creation. The observance of each new moon can be an ongoing checklist of the spiritual progress we have made since the last celebration. It is commonly said it takes 28 days of doing to form a new habit. Just so happens that a typical moon cycle is 28 days!
From the Wikipedia excerpt below we find Judaism starts preparing for the fall feasts with the blowing of the shofar on 1 Elul and daily thereafter for the entire month. It represents a call to self examination and repentance in preparation for Rosh Hoshana, Yom Kipper and Sukkoth. It would seem even with our busy, frenetic western lifestyle we could give God a time daily to listen to His voice. That’s my resolution this first day of Elul.
From Wikipedia search “Elul” In the Jewish tradition, the month of Elul is a time of repentance in preparation for the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The word “Elul” is similar to the root of the verb “search” in Aramaic. The Talmud writes that the Hebrew word “Elul” can be expanded as an acronym for “Ani L’dodi V’dodi Li” – “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3). Elul is seen as a time to search one’s heart and draw close to God in preparation for the coming Day of Judgement, Rosh Hashanah, and Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur.[1]
*If you’re questioning a new moon observance, as I have, I’ll soon be posting my consideration of the the applicable scripture.