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If G-d commanded through Moses, “take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law.” (Deut. 32:46) then one would assume the Gospel would be included in such an important song, right? Walk through just a few snippets of the inspired song and note the various cross references.

“But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.” Deuteronomy 32:15

“Jeshurun” literally means “upright one” based on the root word yashar which is the verb for “to be right, be straight, be level, be upright, etc.” Therefore the name Jeshurun was an endearing term to describe the “ideal character”1 of Israel. The name in the above verse was juxtaposed with the uncharacteristic forsaking of G-d and the scoffing at the Rock as if to remind future generations not to lose hope but to pursue the higher calling of being the “Upright One.” Indeed, one of Israel’s greatest follies was that of forgetting G-d and scoffing at the Rock.

“What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, ‘Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’” Romans 9:30-32

It appears Paul blended Isaiah 8:14 and Isaiah 28:16 to emphasize Yeshua as the Rock through whom no shame will be administered to those who believe. The Rock over whom Israel stumbled. Paul conclusively stated Yeshua is the Rock in the following verse:

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrownin the wilderness.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-5

There is only one true Messiah therefore there have been and will be many false messiahs. (see 1 Jn. 2:18) HaSatan desires to pervert what is of G-d and replace good with evil. The song also warns us of the anti-messiah:

“For their rock is not as our Rock; our enemies are by themselves.” Deuteronomy 32:31

To conclude, many verses from the song in this week’s portion were referenced throughout the Bible and it is easy to see the Good News proclaimed in the various passages! It is an important song to study, to memorize, and upon which to meditate “that this song may be a witness”. (Deut. 31:19) For those of us who are not native born Jews the following verse and Paul’s comments on the verse are interesting!

“Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people’s land.” Deuteronomy 32:43

“For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, ‘Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles, and sing to your name.’ And again it is said, ‘Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.’” Romans 15:8-10

According to www.biblegateway.com in Deuteronomy 32:43 there is a footnote that states: “Dead Sea Scroll, Septuagint; Masoretic Text Rejoice his people, O nations.” However www.blueletterbible.org contains the “Masoretic Text” which is actually “a digital version of the Leningrad Codex developed by the Westminster Hebrew Institute at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.” and the Hebrew clearly contains hashamayim or “the heavens” in Deuteronomy 32:43. Despite this technological irregularity, in his book The End of Deuteronomy in the Epistles of Paul Guy Prentiss Waters2 writes, “It is sufficient to say that Paul has cited LXX Deut 32:43c and that the peculiarities of the wording of this citation prove “crucial” to his argument at Rom 15:7-13.289” Either way Paul certainly encouraged Gentiles based on the passage from this week’s portion. Rejoice and glorify G-d that while we were yet sinners Yeshua died for us! (Rom. 5:8) If you have any further insight into the parallels of Deuteronomy 32:43 and Romans 15:10 please leave a comment below.


1 http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=H3484&t=ESV

2http://books.google.com/books?id=frU1U5ljRHoC&pg=PA223&lpg=PA223&dq=deuteronomy+32:43+and+romans+15:10&source=bl&ots=m7TwCBcwbk&sig=2CVBPNvmLe2e36jTQlA2INT5W20&hl=en&sa=X&ei=vphkUPCFMuGQ2gWhhIGYCQ&ved=0CEkQ6AEwCDgK#v=onepage&q=deuteronomy%2032%3A43%20and%20romans%2015%3A10&f=false

289 Hays, Echoes, 72

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As I looked for something in this week’s portion that I have not noticed before once again the Hebrew of a passage caught my attention.

“Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike.” Deuteronomy 29:18-19

The word for “safe” in verse 19 is actually shalom which most often means “peace.” The common Hebrew word for “safe” is betach. Knowing the Hebrew of this verse heightens the personal conviction. It is more often that I have justified sin by claiming that I have peace about something than thinking I will be safe from consequences. (Of course, having peace about something results in feeling safe from consequences.) There is a stark contrast between selfish peace and G-d-given peace. Our personal peace can so easily lead us astray because it “feels right.” However, the Holy Spirit provides a peace that accurately convicts sin and encourages righteousness.

“Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.” Psalm 85:8-9

The way to know whether the feeling of peace is self-generated or the work of the Spirit is by examining the fruit. Is the fruit “poisonous and bitter?” Or are the fruits of the Spirit evident? The Holy Spirit will not give peace to sin. Therefore if we ever feel peace about doing something contrary to the words of the covenant we know it is a lie of the flesh and not the truth of the Spirit.

“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.” Psalm 119:165

To gain a more thorough understanding of a word in Scripture it is important to consider context, additional usage, and Hebrew root among other things. In this week’s parasha there was a unique word that caught my attention.

“And when you have crossed over the Jordan, you shall set up these stones, concerning which I command you today, on Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with plaster.” Deuteronomy 27:4

The Hebrew word for “plaster” is sid which literally means lime or whitewash. The definition seemed straightforward until compared to another verse that used sid.

“Thus says the LORD: ‘For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because he burned to lime (sid) the bones of the king of Edom.’” Amos 2:1

Isaiah 33:12 echoed a similar concept of creating the “lime” from burning bones. Perhaps burning bones into lime is common knowledge and I have exposed an area of my own ignorance, but, nevertheless, the affect such a definition has on the verse from Deuteronomy is fascinating. Recall that Mount Ebal, where the plastered stones were set up, was also the location of the curses resulting from disobedience. (Deut. 11:28-29) I believe it is highly unlikely that the plaster described in this week’s parasha was literally the lime made from burning bones because burial was so important. However, the word correlation makes a strong statement for us today. As James said in chapter 1, “..and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (1:15) The plaster serves as a reminder of the consequence of sin. It reminds us that “Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matt. 3:10) Remember:

“The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:56-57

In conclusion, the following verse concisely demonstrated the necessity for faith in Messiah Yeshua.

“But to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to understand or eyes to see or ears to hear.” Deuteronomy 29:4

It is almost unfathomable that one could witness the wonders G-d performed and yet not understand, hear, or see. Though Moses clearly stated an understanding heart, seeing eyes, and hearing ears come from G-d. Now look at the following passage:

“This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: “‘“You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” Matthew 13:13-17

Yeshua was speaking to His disciples in this case and He calls their eyes and ears “blessed” because of their belief in Him. The gift of knowledge, sight, and hearing is synonymous with the gift of salvation. Indeed the disciples of Yeshua are blessed for what could be better than seeing and hearing G-d? Praise the L-RD for His grace and faithfulness!

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

In this week’s portion a great mystery is present.

“No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord. No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants may enter the assembly of the Lord. No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the Lord. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the Lord forever,” Deuteronomy 23:1-3

Why are groups of people mentioned who would, by default, not enter the assembly of G-d? Have we all not fallen short? Aren’t we all, by default, unable to enter the assembly of G-d? Could this mean, by implication, that there are some who do enter the assembly of G-d by default? The correct reconciliation of this possible contradiction escapes my level of knowledge. If you have or have heard a biblical explanation of Deuteronomy 23 please post in the comment below. One thing we do know is that the previous passage cannot be referring to an impossibility of these unique (pun intended), condemned people from being eternally saved. Look at the following passages:

“For thus says the LORD: ‘To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off. And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant–’” Isaiah 56:4-6

“But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.’” Ruth 1:16

In addition, remember Judah and Tamar! According to Levitcus 18:15 it is a forbidden union to uncover the nakedness of your daughter-in-law. Judah’s son Perez is a descent of Messiah Yeshua! (Matt. 1:3)

I am certainly not qualified to give a definitive answer on such a major issue. However, I was fascinated after reading the passage containing those who may not enter the assembly of the L-rd because we have studied examples of when those people do enter the assembly of L-rd! Perhaps this week’s portion contains yet another marvelous example of G-d’s abundant grace. Even though it is just and appropriate to condemn these groups, still G-d has mercy. Even though we are deserving of G-d’s wrath He has shown mercy and saved us. That is incredible and beyond understanding.

“I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!” Psalm 40:9-11

“Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16:20

Seems simple enough, right? Just follow justice and be blessed with the inheritance of the land. As with every word in the Bible there lies more significance and accuracy in the Hebrew.  Most translations read, “Justice…justice” except the Young’s Literal Translation which translates “justice” as “righteousness.” The word in Hebrew is actually tzedek. Gesenius’s Lexicon defines tzedek as “(1) in a physical sense, straightness, rightness (2) rectitude, right, what is right and just, what is so, or ought to be so.” In English it is easy to assume the “justice” in verse 19 is the same as the “justice” in verse 20. Indeed there is overlap but tzedek more accurately describes this command in verse 20 because not everyone can serve as a literal judge (as described by the word mishpat used in verse 19). However, everyone can and is commanded to follow righteousness and act justly. How much more than shall the Righteous One, Messiah Yeshua, be followed! The following verse also contains the word tzedek.

“My righteousness (tzidki) draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait.” Isaiah 51:5

Yeshua came and perfectly demonstrated how to follow righteousness. Look to Him. Follow His example. Heed His Word. As it is written:

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17

Additionally, there is an excellent example in this week’s portion of the result of hearing and hearing the Law.

“And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.” Deuteronomy 17:19-20

The context of this passage is the commandment for the king to write a copy of the Law. Why did he need to write his own copy? To keep with him, to read, to study, and ultimately to obey every single word possible. The passage also said, “that he may learn to fear the LORD his God.” Summarized here in one verse describes the learning process to fear G-d; that by reading and hearing the Law the king would practice all the words of the Law. Once G-d has set us apart unto Him both fear and love must follow. May we follow the king’s example and learn to fear G-d and only follow Messiah Yeshua, the Righteous One!

This week’s portion continues the account of Phinehas and his zeal. It is important to emphasize that not only did Phinehas slay the 2 perpetrators defiling the “chamber” but he also halted the plague in the process. (Num. 25:8) This plague was even more deadly than the plague after Korah’s rebellion. Also, look at the prodigious difference in the census results regarding the tribe of Simeon.

“those listed of the tribe of Simeon were 59,300.” Numbers 1:23

“These are the clans of the Simeonites, 22,200.” Numbers 26:14

Zimri the son of Salu (the man slain by Phinehas) belonged to the tribe of Simeon. The decreased number of people was, by far, the most drastic out of the other tribes. In fact, several tribes including Judah had increased in number. The Bible does not say that only the tribe of Simeon sinned, but the statistics are potential evidence that more Simeonites died because of sin. The Bible also specifically mentioned Zimri’s father and lineage as if to connect the sinful act of Zimri and the sinful community to which he belonged. The census results should serve as a warning to those who believe they are impenetrable to the destructive influences of a community. It is far easier to succumb to fleshly desires when most associations take pleasure in sinful indulgences. We should heed the wise words spoken by the Moses in Numbers 16 and “…depart, please, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs…” (Num. 16:26)

In conclusion, there are a couple textual anomalies found in this portion. One in Numbers 25:11 and the other in Numbers 27:5. For the sake of time let’s look at the first one.

“Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy.” Numbers 25:11

In Hebrew Phinehas’s name contains a small yod. It is difficult to perceive the difference until the small yod is compared to a normal yod. Once the comparison is made it is easy to see the yod in Phinehas’s name is notably smaller. The yod is already the smallest letter in the entire Hebrew alphabet! Why is the yod even smaller in Phinehas’s name? Perhaps the text is subtlety demonstrating a character trait of Phinehas. “In Paleo-Hebrew it(yod) is symbolic of a strong right arm, work, a deed, or to make.”1 Based on this description of the letter yod it would seem that the text is implying Phinehas’s strong right arm or his deed was smaller. As compared to what? Look at the description of this portions’ zealous action in Psalm 106.

“Then they yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead; they provoked the Lord to anger with their deeds, and a plague broke out among them.  Then Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was stayed.  And that was counted to him as righteousness from generation to generation forever.” Psalm 106:28-31

Due to the grand compliments paid to Phinehas for his zealous action it is easy to overlook G-d’s participation. As the verse in Psalm 106 says Phinehas’s righteousness was not earned it was counted to him. G-d empowered Phinehas then blessed him with a covenant of peace and a covenant of eternal priesthood. Phinehas knew this and demonstrated humility. His zeal was not followed by bragging, or a feast in his honor. G-d was the only one to even mention that what Phinehas did was a good thing. As compared to G-d and His majesty, Phinehas’s zeal was even smaller than the smallest letter. The small yod seems to imply a minimization of Phinehas’s deed and his strength in favor of glorifying G-d and His faithfulness. In every situation it is our responsibility to redirect praise and honor from us to the original Source. HaShem Eloheim. It is only in Him that live, move and have our being. (Acts. 17:28)

1http://www.graftedforlife.org/blogs/index.php/2010/06/16/the-yod-and-kaf?blog=10

At first glance one may consider the Sages harsh when they write of Balaam. After all, he refused the diabolical offer from Balak at least a couple times, he only spoke the words G-d told him, and G-d actually spoke to him! A closer look at the story reveals more reason to believe Balaam strayed from the ways of G-d. The Bible all but entreats the reader to reexamine the story of Balaam after this clear statement found later in Numbers:

“Behold, these, on Balaam’s advice, caused the people of Israel to act treacherously against the LORD in the incident of Peor, and so the plague came among the congregation of the LORD.” Numbers 31:16

One interesting parallel at the beginning of this week’s portion provides a glimpse of the actions to follow.

“And God came to Balaam and said, ‘Who are these men with you?’” Numbers 22:9

It is obvious G-d was not asking Balaam this question to learn the answer. Where is the first time G-d asks a rhetorical question? Right after Adam and Eve sinned.

“But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” Genesis 3:9

Can you hear the voice of a gracious father who is disappointed at the choice of his son? It seems as if G-d was using a similar approach. The reason the parallel is interesting is because G-d’s rhetorical question came after Adam and Eve sinned. But how did Balaam sin to provoke the question? By fellowshipping and keeping company with diviners for the evening instead of immediately driving them away. As it is written:

“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes.” Leviticus 19:26

“There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer” Deuteronomy 18:10

Allowing the wicked elders to stay with him may have influenced his own actions or perhaps Balaam was already involved in divination, which resulted in lax standards. Either way look at how Balaam is described later in Joshua:

“Balaam also, the son of Beor, the one who practiced divination, was killed with the sword by the people of Israel among the rest of their slain.” Joshua 13:22

The most important truth from the story of Balaam is that G-d can use what was meant for evil and treachery to save his people. In this case, Balak demanded that Balaam curse Israel in hopes it would weaken them enough to destroy Israel. Instead Balaam pronounced blessings from G-d and even prophecies.

Balaam’s Prophecy:

“…The LORD their God is with them, and the shout of a king is among them.” Numbers 23:21

Parallel:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9

Balaam’s Prophecy:

“Like palm groves that stretch afar, like gardens beside a river, like aloes that the LORD has planted, like cedar trees beside the waters. Water shall flow from his buckets, and his seed shall be in many waters; his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.” Numbers 24:6-7

Parallel:

“And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.” Zechariah 14:7-9

Balaam’s Prophecy:

“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.” Numbers 24:17

Parallel:

“But of the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.’” Hebrews 1:8

This portion contains bountiful illusions to Messiah Yeshua none of which should be overlooked. Study very carefully. Just as the prophet Micah spoke:

“O my people, remember what Balak king of Moab devised, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the LORD.” Micah 6:5

This week’s portion is just one of the many places in Scripture where the phrase “with milk and honey” resides.

“And they told him, ‘We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.’”  Numbers 13:27

In fact, it is used about 20 times throughout the Bible. Why is this unusual phrase repeated so often to describe the Promise Land and what is significant about the phrase? Both answers are the same. The significance of the phrase is revealed in examining the two delicacies. Both milk and honey come from animals. Therefore man cannot simply grow milk or honey as they could other food. The existence of milk-producing animals and honey-producing bees in a land is entirely a miracle of G-d! Initially, the climate would have to be conducive and the land would have to be fertile in order to sustain plant and animal life. Both of which depend solely on G-d. By using the phrase “flows with milk and honey” G-d encapsulates all the blessings contained in the Promise Land. G-d demonstrated the preparations that were made and His promised sustenance. Since G-d established the Promise Land it is no longer a mystery as to why the details would be repeated so frequently. G-d continually reinforced the correlation between the Promise Land and His miraculous involvement.

In conclusion, a seemingly unimportant word actually demonstrates a beautiful truth.

“Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down and defeated them and pursued them, even to Hormah.” Numbers 14:45

Numbers 14 verse 45 is the first usage of the word “Hormah.” The word in Hebrew is Chormah and means devotion. This verse does not divulge any information other than the deduction, based on context, that Hormah is the name of a place. In particular, a place where the Children of Israel attempted to enter even though “neither the ark of the covenant of the L-RD nor Moses departed out of the camp.” (Num. 14:44) The summery of this occurrence was that the Children of Israel pursued devotion without G-d (ark of the covenant) and without Moses (the law). The next appearance of Chormah is in chapter 21 of Numbers.

“And Israel vowed a vow to the L-RD and said, ‘If you will indeed give this people into my hand, then I will devote their cities to destruction.’ And the L-RD heeded the voice of Israel and gave over the Canaanites, and they devoted them and their cities to destruction. So the name of the place was called Hormah.” Numbers 21:2-3

In this occurrence Israel made a vow unto the L-RD first before proceeding. The result was that G-d delivered the Canaanites to Israel and the place was named after their devotion. This is such an interesting parallel to approaching G-d and eternal salvation. Without the law (and obedience to it) one cannot physically approach G-d. (Lev. 22:9) Without Messiah Yeshua a person cannot spiritually approach G-d nor dwell forever with Him. (Jn. 14:6) Rabbi Gimpel once said that Scripture recounts the mistakes made by the people to help us avoid the same mistakes. Indeed, learning from history aids in avoiding repetition of past errors. This is an excellent approach to use during Torah study. There is much to be learned from the detailed journey through the wilderness which is at least one reason why the wilderness experience constitutes an entire book of the Torah. Take not for granted G-d’s gracious preservation of His Word. Remember:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22

At times it is easy to inadvertently evade the literal interpretation of priestly regulations in favor of simile. In some cases people deliberately obviate literal interpretation based on its societal relevance taking a “that was then, this is now” approach to Scripture. I seek to do neither and if I have written about parallels in the past it was because the plain interpretation was obvious while the supporting Apostolic Scripture reference was less so. This week, it is interesting to note the almost identical list of blemishes for both the Kohen and an offering.

“For no one who has a blemish shall draw near, a man blind or lame, or one who has a mutilated face or a limb too long, or a man who has an injured foot or an injured hand, or a hunchback or a dwarf or a man with a defect in his sight or an itching disease or scabs or crushed testicles.” Leviticus 21:18-20

“Animals blind or disabled or mutilated or having a discharge or an itch or scabs you shall not offer to the L-RD or give them to the L-RD as a food offering on the altar. You may present a bull or a lamb that has a part too long or too short for a freewill offering, but for a vow offering it cannot be accepted.  Any animal that has its testicles bruised or crushed or torn or cut you shall not offer to the L-RD; you shall not do it within your land,” Leviticus 22:22-24

The similarity should come as no surprise because both the Kohen and the offering were presented before HaShem Himself. Therefore both would have equal holiness standards so as not to profane the sanctuary. (Lev. 21:23) Additionally, the Kohen’s service was, in a sense, a sacrifice. The priests had stricter standards and more limiting commandments bestowed upon them. The chief priest could not even go out of the sanctuary. (Lev. 21:12) This was indeed a selfless and sacrificial life in service to HaShem. Just as the priest selected the offering to be presented, so too did HaShem select the Levites to serve before Him.

“For the L-rd your G-d has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the name of the L-rd, him and his sons for all time.” Deuteronomy 18:5

It is important to note as well that our Messiah was a perfect and acceptable sacrifice before the Father. As Peter so elegantly describes Him, He was and is “like that of a lamb without spot or blemish.” (1 Pet. 1:19)

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” 1 Peter 1:14-19

Is it not convenient that the Torah generously contains the arrangement of the festivals and set times in exclusive sections? (Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28-29) Focusing this week on Leviticus 23 it is subtle yet characteristic that Yom Kippur is the only festival without “Speak to the Children of Israel.” The description of Pesach does not include this phrase right before the entry but it is amalgamated together with the Sabbath details, which does carry the phrase. The omission demonstrates, not that the information was inapplicable to the Children of Israel, but that Yom Kippur constitutes personal reflection and an individual affliction of the soul. There is no celebration, no festival, and no mention of congregating with others. This is a “Sabbath of solemn rest.” (Lev. 23:32) Yet another illustration of G-d’s grace is placing such a pensive time between two “holy convocations”, Rosh HaShanah and Sukkot. Both set times are jovial, celebratory, and communal. Reading through the spectacular festivals that are soon approaching augments my anticipation and excitement! The next set time is Shavu’ot! The counting is coming to an end and the opportunity to lovingly keep several of G-d’s commandments is close at hand.

“And you shall make proclamation on the same day. You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.” Leviticus 23:21

Yeshua is the Messiah. He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5:6) and He is the living Torah. (Jn. 1:14) The two portions this week confirm the truth that has been revealed to us. There are many, many examples of Messiah in these portions but for the sake of time I am only going to demonstrate a couple that I had overlooked in prior years. First, there is a beautiful symbol of eternal atonement through Yeshua’s blood within the placement of the ark.

“The cherubim spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat were the faces of the cherubim.” Exodus 37:9

The cherubim are facing one another with their wings spread out. One on each side.

“And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.” Leviticus 16:14

Leviticus 16 suggests that when the priest is standing in front of the ark on one side is east and the other is west which would mean he is facing either north or south. This would also mean that the cherubim are facing east and west. This is important because of what “mercy seat” means in Hebrew. The literal translation of kapporet, or mercy seat is “place of atonement.” This place of atonement is from where G-d speaks and from where atonement comes. The correlation between atonement and the direction of the cherubim alludes to the following verse from the Psalms.

“..as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

When we come before G-d in sincere repentance, Yeshua’s blood provides eternal atonement for our transgressions and He casts our sins as far as the east is from the west. Yeshua and the Gospel span the pages of the Torah and through the Holy Spirit our eyes are opened to see His marvelous work. This is just one example of many in the portions this week.

Another parallel between the portions this week and Yeshua can be found by the comparison of the following verses from Exodus 40 and Hebrews 3.

“And he erected the court around the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the screen of the gate of the court. So Moses finished the work.” Exodus 40:33

“Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, Who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, just as Moses also was faithful in all G-d’s house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses–as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is G-d.) Now Moses was faithful in all G-d’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over G-d’s house as a son. And we are His house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Hebrews 3:1-6

The completion of the tabernacle was an amazing event! Moses played a key role in the plans and construction. Hebrews 3 continues the story. These verses show that our Messiah is even more worthy of glory and Moses testified to His work. They also bring to remembrance G-d’s sovereignty over all things.

Finally, there in an interesting verse in Zechariah that mentions the exact phrase as a verse in this week’s portions. Take a look:

“They made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it an inscription, like the engraving of a signet, ‘Holy to the L-RD.’” Exodus 39:30

“And on that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, ‘Holy to the L-RD.’ And the pots in the house of the L-RD shall be as the bowls before the altar.” Zechariah 14:20

The phrase “Holy to the L-RD” in the Hebrew of both verses is identical. The holy crown the priests wore was inscribed with this phrase and that makes perfect sense, but it is also inscribed on the bells of the horses? The context in Zechariah 14 is the day of the L-RD. The chapter describes war, plagues, and a global obligation to appear in Jerusalem for Sukkot to worship the King. Also, every pot in Jerusalem will be holy, there will be sacrifices, and there will not be a Canaanite found in the house of G-d. Clearly Zechariah is describing Messianic Days since the King is referred to as, “the L-RD of Hosts.” Based on the context of Zechariah 14 and the fact that the Hebrew word metzilah, or “bells”, in verse 20 is the only time this word is used in the Tanach I believe we are looking at additional revelation of Messianic Days. It would appear that verse 20 is suggesting that everything, even the bells on the horses, in Jerusalem will be “Holy to the L-RD.” The city will be purified and set apart unto HaShem. War and wickedness will still exist but Jerusalem will be inhabited by the righteous remnant and ruled by King Yeshua. Everything in Jerusalem will be as if it touched the alter. (Ex. 29:37) Before the Messianic Days holiness will not go so far as to transform the very bells of horses and after the Messianic Days the phrase “Holy to the L-RD” would apply to absolutely everything. Therefore it is fascinating that a unique word is used to partially describe a unique time. May it be soon and in our days! Come quickly L-rd Yeshua!

Chazakchazakv’nitchazek – Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened!

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