Parsha Ki Tavo

Deuteronomy 27:1-3 “Then Moshe and all the leaders of Isra’el gave orders to the people. They said, “Observe all the mitzvot I am giving you today. When you cross the Yarden to the land AD-NAI your G-d is giving you, you are to set up large stones, put plaster on them, and, after crossing over, write this Torah on them, every word -so that you can enter the land AD-NAI your G-d is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as AD-NAI, the G-d of your ancestors, promised you.”

As Israel crosses over the Jordan and enters into the land she is to erect large stones coated with lime and written upon them the words of the Torah. In effect this was a mezuzah for Eretz Yisrael. These standing stones were to remind her that the Torah is to be the foundation of who we are.

Let’s take a look at a sequence of events beginning with the exodus that takes us to where Israel now stands in the weeks Parsha. As Israel stands in bondage to slavery in Egypt G-D calls her out and redeems her with a strong arm. She is to take the blood of the Paschal lamb and place it upon the door frames of their homes. Anyone inside this home would be spared the judgment of G-D as the angel of death would Passover them. As Israel is brought out of Egypt G-D speaks to her in these words in Exodus 6:7.

Exodus 6:7 “I will take you as my people, and I will be your G-d. Then you will know that I am AD-NAI your G-d, who freed you from the forced labor of the Egyptians.”

Does G-D then take Israel to the land He promised unto the descendents of Avraham? Before they inherit the land they must receive G-D’S revelation. This generation proved themselves unworthy to enter into the land because of their rebellion with the sin of the spies. G-D through the hand of Moshe spends 40 years preparing the next generation to enter into the land. 40 years have passed and now Israel stands at the border ready to receive the promise that was given unto her father Avraham. As she crosses the Jordan the stones are placed at Mt. Ebal to remind her that the Torah of G-D will be her protection.

It is important to understand the sequence of events for this is the key to understanding our own relationship to G-D and His Torah. First Israel is redeemed by the hand of G-D than she is brought to the places she would receive His revelation. So in it’s proper place the Torah is for the redeemed.

Deuteronomy 27:4-8 “When you have crossed the Yarden, you are to set up these stones, as I am ordering you today, on Mount ‘Eival; and put plaster on them. There you are to erect an altar to AD-NAI your G-d, an altar made of stones. You are not to use any iron tool on them, but are to build the altar of AD-NAI your G-d of uncut stones; and you are to offer burnt offerings on it to AD-NAI your G-d. Also you are to sacrifice peace offerings, eat there and be joyful in the presence of AD-NAI your G-d. You are to write on the stones all the words of this Torah very clearly.”

Note here that the stones are placed on Mt. Ebal not on Mt. Gerizim. In this weeks Parsha when the elder Levites pronounce the curses they are to pronounce them towards Mt. Ebal. The blessing on the other hand would be pronounced towards Mt. Gerizim. What is significant about these two mountains and why is the stones placed at Mt. Ebal instead of Mt. Gerizim were the blessings would be recited?

Deuteronomy 27:9-13 “Next Moshe and the cohanim, who are L’vi’im, spoke to all Isra’el. They said, “Be quiet; and listen, Isra’el! Today you have become the people of AD-NAI your G-d. Therefore you are to listen to what AD-NAI your G-d says and obey his mitzvot and laws, which I am giving you today. That same day Moshe commissioned the people as follows: “These are the ones who are to stand on Mount G’rizim and bless the people after you have crossed the Yarden: Shim’on, Levi, Y’hudah, Yissakhar, Yosef and Binyamin; while these are to stand on Mount ‘Eival for the curse: Re’uven, Gad, Asher, Z’vulun, Dan and Naftali.”

Both Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal are part of the mountain range of Ephraim. Mt. Gerizim is located on the south side of the valley of Shekem while Mt. Ebal is located on the north side. These two mountains are in effect located side by side. They both rise up from the same soil, they are both watered by the same precipitation, and pollen passes over them both equally. Yet there is a striking contrast between the two. Mt. Gerizim is covered from its base to its top with lush vegetation; its soil bares much fruit. Mt. Ebal on the other hand is completely barren. There is no vegetation to speak of; even though it shares the same soil as Mt. Gerizim it bares no fruit.

Can you imagine the visualization as Israel crosses the Jordan and sees before her the two mountains, one completely barren and the other lush. The lesson is obvious, we are always faced with two options blessings or curses, Life or death. This lesson was so important that Moshe speaks about it twice in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 11:29-32 “When AD-NAI your G-d brings you into the land you are entering in order to take possession of it, you are to put the blessing on Mount G’rizim and the curse on Mount ‘Eival. Both are west of the Yarden, in the direction of the sunset, in the land of the Kena’ani living in the ‘Aravah, across from Gilgal, near the pistachio trees of Moreh. For you are to cross the Yarden to enter and take possession of the land AD-NAI your G-d is giving you; you are to own it and live in it. And you are to take care to follow all the laws and rulings I am setting before you today.”

Deuteronomy 27:14-15 “The L’vi’im, speaking loudly, will proclaim to every man of Isra’el: “‘A curse on anyone who makes a carved or metal image, something AD-NAI detests, the handiwork of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret!’ All the people are to respond by saying, ‘Amen!’ “

Imagine the children of Israel as six tribes are gathered on Mt. Ebal and six are standing on Mt. Gerizim as the blessings and curses are being read by the elder Levites. The word picture for them is obvious.

Deuteronomy 28:1-6 “If you listen closely to what AD-NAI your G-d says, observing and obeying all his mitzvot which I am giving you today, AD-NAI your G-d will raise you high above all the nations on earth; and all the following blessings will be yours in abundance -if you will do what AD-NAI your G-d says: “A blessing on you in the city, and a blessing on you in the countryside. “A blessing on the fruit of your body, the fruit of your land and the fruit of your livestock – the young of your cattle and flocks. A blessing on your grain-basket and kneading-bowl. A blessing on you when you go out, and a blessing on you when you come in.”

Deuteronomy 28:11-12 “AD-NAI will give you great abundance of good things – of the fruit of your body, the fruit of your livestock and the fruit of your land in the land AD-NAI swore to your ancestors to give you. AD-NAI will open for you his good treasure, the sky, to give your land its rain at the right seasons and to bless everything you undertake. You will lend to many nations and not borrow”

Deuteronomy 28:15-19 “But if you refuse to pay attention to what AD-NAI your G-d says, and do not observe and obey all his mitzvot and regulations which I am giving you today, then all the following curses will be yours in abundance: “A curse on you in the city, and a curse on you in the countryside. “A curse on your grain-basket and kneading-bowl. A curse on the fruit of your body, the fruit of your land and the young of your cattle and flocks. A curse on you when you come in and a curse on you when you go out.”

Deuteronomy 28:24 “AD-NAI will turn the rain your land needs into powder and dust that will fall on you from the sky until you are destroyed.”

I believe there is something else besides the obvious word picture that G-D is revealing to Israel. Remember that both mountains received the same water, soil, wind, and pollen and yet one was plush and they other was barren. In this we see that blessings and curses are not based on external circumstances but on how we respond to those circumstances.

The key to understanding this lesson is revelation.

There were people from every color and background who stood at these mountains but there is one thing they had in common, their bondage in Egypt. To hear the words of blessings and curses coming from the Levites was like being born again. They all stood on an equal playing field with a blank slate.

Deuteronomy 11:26-28 ” See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing, if you listen to the mitzvot of AD-NAI your G-d that I am giving you today; and the curse, if you don’t listen to the mitzvot of AD-NAI your G-d, but turn aside from the way I am ordering you today and follow other gods that you have not known.”

No matter our circumstances or backgrounds G-D’S revelation has been made to us and we have a choice to make blessings or curses. There is much talk today because of millennia of false doctrine about the curse of the Torah.

What is the curse of the Torah?

Galatians 3:10-11 “For everyone who depends on legalistic observance of Torah commands lives under a curse, since it is written, Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the Scroll of the Torah. Now it is evident that no one comes to be declared righteous by G-d through legalism, since the person who is righteous will attain life by trusting and being faithful.”

So is Rav Shaul saying that those who follow G-D’S revelation are under a curse? Of course not! I believe Rav Shaul’s words are pretty clear. I spoke of this briefly earlier and I spoke of it in more detail at the Shabbaton last week. It is such an important message that I need to speak it here today for everyone to hear. The Torah is for the redeemed. It is for those who have bowed their hearts at the alter of G-D. By Y-shua’s own testimony He came to fulfill the words of the Torah. This means more than to bring proper interpretation but to bring to fullness. Let me explain what I mean.

To our Jewish brothers who have yet to accept Messiah the Torah protects and guards them on their quest to Him. How does it do this? Because the goal of Torah is Y-shua, and as they follow Torah with all of their heart He will be revealed to them. In the life of the believer the Torah has a special meaning and should hold a dearer place to us than all peoples because the Torah was given to the redeemed and we as the redeemed have a fullness in Torah that those without Y-shua cannot fully know.

Galatians 3:23-26 “Now before the time for this trusting faithfulness came, we were imprisoned in subjection to the system which results from perverting the Torah into legalism, kept under guard until this yet-to-come trusting faithfulness would be revealed. Accordingly, the Torah functioned as a custodian until the Messiah came, so that we might be declared righteous on the ground of trusting and being faithful. But now that the time for this trusting faithfulness has come, we are no longer under a custodian. For in union with the Messiah, you are all children of G-d through this trusting faithfulness;”

As the custodian Rav Shaul was referring to one who brings the school children to the teacher. It is obvious from the reading of the test that the purpose of the written Torah is to lead us to the living Torah who is the teacher. It is only when we come to the living Torah that the written Torah comes into fullness.

As Joshua gathers Israel to the two mountains to pronounce the blessing and curses there was a choice to be made that day; life and death. For those who heard the word of G-D and choose to deny or those who heard and never applied it to there hearts the Messiah would be concealed from them and the words of the Torah would stand as there judge.

Galatians 3:10-11 “For everyone who depends on legalistic observance of Torah commands lives under a curse, since it is written, Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the Scroll of the Torah. Now it is evident that no one comes to be declared righteous by G-d through legalism, since the person who is righteous will attain life by trusting and being faithful.”

Here lies the curse of the Torah.

Deuteronomy 11:26-27 ”See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing, if you listen to the mitzvot of AD-NAI your G-d that I am giving you today; and the curse, if you don’t listen to the mitzvot of AD-NAI your G-d,”

Those who have the revelation of G-D and choose to deny. The revelation of Torah is Y-shua and those who seek redemption of G-d apart from the blood of the lamb. You cannot come to Sinai without the blood of the lamb upon the doorframes of your house for you are already dead in Egypt.

Today we have a choice life and death- choose life!


God and Freedom

History records the creation of a brand new society only twice. Once in the Bible in the book of Exodus with the formation of the Jewish nation, the second time was about 229 years ago with the birth of the United States of America.

With both societies GOD was to be the center of our existence. Without GODS mercy and provisions the Jewish people would have died in the wilderness without ever reaching the land promised to their Father Abraham. This is why the first place G-D takes the Jewish people after they are brought out of slavery in Egypt was Mt. Sinai the place were GOD makes a Covenant with all Israel and gives the Jewish people His commandments.

Freedom without order is Chaos.

The founding Fathers understood the basic concept that without GOD as the center of this brand new nation we would fall into obscurity. We have not existed for almost 229 years and become the most powerful nation on the planet because of our own intellectual might and strength, but because GOD is faithful to honor the covenant He made we each and every person who sought the face of GOD when the Declaration of Independence was written.

After 40 years of wandering in the wilderness GOD issues a warning to Israel that as they enter into the land of promise and begin to work the soil they were to never forget that it is not of the works of their hands that they prosper but the works of the hands of GOD. It did not take long for Israel to become complacent and prideful at the works of their hands and neglected to need GOD, so to have we become complacent in this country at the works of our hands.

Is it any surprise that right as we tell GOD he is no longer wanted in our schools that we begin to take away the basics freedoms enjoyed by man? To take away life from the most innocent and defenseless amongst us?

Each and every person on the face of this earth is born with inalienable rights given to him by the Creator. Neither by man nor government but by GOD. If we remove G-D from the center of this great nation than we remove our freedoms. Without G-D our right are only given to us by government and man and those rights will exists only as long as the governing authorities are willing to recognize them. But if our rights and freedoms are GOD given than no man can ever take them away; but those rights exist only as long as we recognize GOD as King.

 Every Passover we sing a song of thanksgiving unto GOD called Dieynu, it would have been enough. In this song we are reminded that it would have been enough had G-D only brought us out of Egypt and never brought us to Sinai, It would have been enough had

GOD brought us to Mt. Sinai and not feed us Manna from heaven. It would have been enough had GOD brought us manna from heaven but not brought us to the land of promise, it would have been enough had GOD brought us to the land of promise but not brought us salvation in His Son. But GOD decided it was enough when He hung on the execution stake and said those precious words “it is finished.”

Let us remember that it would have been enough had GOD brought us to the New World but not brought us freedom from Britain. It would have been enough had we been given our freedom from Britain but never abolished slavery, It would have been enough had we abolished slavery but never became the most powerful nation the world has ever known. All that we have is a gift from GOD. It would have been enough.

Is the Mishnah anti-Messianic?

“The great text-book of Rabbinism, the Mishnah, is almost  entirely  un-Messianic, one might say un-dogmatical. Where not a record of facts or traditions, the Mishnah is purely a handbook of legal determinations in their utmost logical sequences, only enlivened by discussions or the tale of instances in point. The whole tendency of this system was anti-Messianic.” Alfred Edersheim-Sketches of Jewish Social Life” p.67

 According to Alfred Edersheim the legal logic of the Mishnah is anti-Messianic in nature, arguing that it is purely a handbook of legal determination and un-dogmatic. Edersheim further argues that the Rabbi’s had little power left them and consequently the Mishnah is an attempt to secure their safety in light of the authority of the Levinim and Cohanim.

While I believe he has some valid points in regards to content  his anti-rabbinical theological positions has somewhat clouded his judgments. The Mishnah being a handbook of legal determination does not by default make it anti-Messianic. The famous Talmudic debate as to what to do with a chicken egg that has been labored on the Shabbat is a classic example. It is easy to get lost in the minutia of rabbinical debate and Halackah, however, would that all believers had the heart of such that they would concern themselves with an egg in regards to honoring Hashem’s Shabbat. In other words concern about that intimacies of the Torah can be honoring unto our Messiah who is the author and fullness of the Law if done by the leading of the Ruach of Hashem. It is through one of the teachings of our Messiah that we can find service in the minutia.

 Matiyahu 23:23”Woe to you hypocritical Torah-teachers and P’rushim! You pay your tithes of mint, dill and cumin; but you have neglected the weightier matters of the Torah — justice, mercy, trust. These are the things you should have attended to – without neglecting the others!”

 How often we stop after having read “but you have neglected the weightier matters of the Torah”. If we continue with our Messiah’s teaching we discover a great concern over the less weightier matters of the Law. But why would He be concerned over these smaller matters? Little weight is given over to man’s interpretation of Justice, Mercy, and Trust for they are outlined in detail through the less weightier matters of the Torah.  If you lose Justice, Mercy, and Trust than these smaller matters becoming meaningless. Without these then one might as well tithe a rock in it’s stead.

Can not the same be said for the Mishnah’s legal determination? Can concern over the Kashrut of an egg labored on the Shabbat be a great Mitzvot if seen in the light of the weightier matters of Justice, Mercy and Trust?

Christian anti-Semitism

The charge of Christian anti-Semitism more often than not elicits emotionally charged responses from both sides of the aisle. These emotions are real and should not be taken lightly, often times however they cloud our thinking and do not allow us to examine the heart of the issue. Is True Christianity by nature anti-Semitic? To understand this properly it is important to define what true Christianity is and how it has been hijacked by those who have exploited it to their own ends.

The truth of Christian anti-Semitism.
There is no question that through 1700 years of Church history the treatment of Jews by those who used the term “Christian” has been tragic and is an issue that still needs to be fully dealt with by the body of believers in Yeshua. Many of the so called “fathers” of Christendom have in their attempt to remove Christianity from its Jewish heritage have slandered and encouraged violence against the Jewish people for their unbelief.
In his book “The City of GOD” Augustine of Hippo the influential Christian theologian calls the Jews the enemy of the Christian Church. 
Thomas of Monmouth, a Benedictine monastery monk wrote a tractate that claims Jews tortured Christian children to death during the Passover season.
Thomas of Aquines claimed that Jews were damned because they had killed Jesus, and their only hope to be saved was to renounce their faith and convert to Christianity. 
Saint John Chrystom wrote “But do their (the Jews) festivals have something solemn and great about them? They have shown that these, too, are impure.”
There are numerous examples of such diatribe, and are rightly condemned as anti-Semitic. We cannot deny that atrocities have been committed in our Messiahs name against His beloved people. Because of these abominations the name of our Messiah has become a curse to them. The sin of their unbelief to some degree has to be poured out upon those who have defiled His name with hatred toward His treasured people. While I do not stand as their judge I am confident in saying that this does not represent true Christianity.

Christian conversion?
From the time of the Apostles writings in the 1st century CE to the first formation of a Church state in the 4th century CE a drastic face lift had taken place within the gentile believing church. The prevailing question of the early Jewish believers was what to do with the Gentile who has come to faith in Messiah Yeshua. Some wanted to take them under the knife and convert them to Judaism insisting that only Jews could receive eternal salvation. The Messianic leadership under Yaakov (James) Ben Yosef, of Jerusalem, the brother of Yeshua insisted that the Gentiles should be accepted as covenant members along with Israel, grafted on as a new branch because of their trust in G-D’S atoning work. The former gentiles were now expected to go to Synagogue and learn what it means to be a part of Israel and a covenant member (Acts 15). There is also every indication that the Jewish believers continued to live as Jews, worshiping at the Temple, making sacrifice, and going to the local Synagogues (James 2:2) just as Messiah Yeshua had done (Luke 4:16).
It is without any doubt that contrary to the teachings of the early church fathers original Christianity is completely Jewish and completely Messianic. These church fathers have so twisted the truth of our Messiah that the question of what to do with the gentiles has been flipped on its head to what shall we do with the Jewish believers. Can a person be Jewish and also a believer in Messiah Y-shua?

Have we forgotten our own identity?
As the body of believers we must come to the realization that the Church of its own volition has removed itself from its Jewish birth as a child who wants to deny his own heritage. Consequently the Jewish Messiah has been stripped of his own identity as a Jew and His brothers have been disowned from the family. Even His name was changed to reflect His new identity within the Church as Greek. 
We all remember the story of Joseph who was sold as a slave into Egypt by his brothers. He was dressed like an Egyptian and ultimately rose to prominence within the Egyptian court. But let us not forget the eternal lesson that though he was a slave in a foreign country Joseph never forgot his identity as a son of Jacob and Hebrew. 
So it is with our Messiah and His followers. True Christians have never completely forgotten the identity of their Messiah and have never ceased to extend a loving hand to His brethren in hopes of their ultimate faith in their Jewish Messiah. 
Still more, true Christians in greater numbers than ever have awakened to the fact that their heritage and identity has been concealed from them for over 1700 years and they are returning to their rightful place as Torah keeping covenant members. They have embraced the Jewish people with open arms and have fallen so much in love with their Jewish brethren that they have openly begun going to Synagogue, wearing a Kippot and Tallit, binding Tefillin, and keeping the various Jewish customs.

Christian anti-Semitism is impossible; for true followers in Messiah Y-shua recognize the debt owed to the Jewish people, the full identity of the Jewish Messiah, and their own heritage as covenant members. True Christianity is not defined by the anti-Semitism, but by; as Dr. Michael Brown calls it, Philo-Semitism. Those who love the Jewish people, those who pray daily for the deliverance of the Jewish people, and those who earnestly seek their politicians to support the modern state of Israel. The Jewish people could have no better friend than the True Christian.

How did Jesus Fulfill the Law?

Please start by reading Matthew 5:17-39

Christian line of reasoning says “Since Yeshua says He came to fulfill the Torah there is no reason for us to concern ourselves with it any longer.

To attempt to strengthen this argument the verses following verse 20 are interpreted to mean the Torah is deficient. By using the term “You have heard it said” suggests He is putting it aside with “But I say to you”.

Read from a perspective that the Torah is done away with it sure seems that

Yeshua is teaching against the Torah.

 What does the term “fulfill” mean in Matthew 5:17?

Original language written in Hebrew or Aramaic not in Greek. The term used would be one of two terms. The term “KUM” which means to establish or to confirm. The term “MALET” which means “To be full” or “To make full”

What is the Septuagint text?

Written by the Rabbis around 200 BCE. Translation of the Hebrew text into Greek.

The Greek word that is used here is “PLEROO” which is used in this text found in Matthew 5:17 almost always translates from “MALEI: to make full”

 If Yeshua used the term “MALEI” what might He have been saying?

Read 1 Kings 1:13-14

The aging David is being challenged to his thrown predecessor. Adonijah has declared himself king behind David’s back and Nathan the prophet is telling Bathsheba to tell David what is going on. These are the words of the prophet. The English word “confirm” is taken from the Hebrew term “MALEI” and is translated into Greek as “PLEROO.”

The meaning of the text is that the Prophet Nathan is strengthening Bathsheba’s words to David.

Read  Jeremiah 44:25

Here is an example where both of the Hebrew terms are being used. “Your mouths and fulfilled” is translated from the term “MALEI,” “Go ahead and confirm” is translated from the term “KUM.” Here the confession of the mouth is fulfilled by the hands. This putting into action here is described as the fulfilling.

This must be the context of what Yeshua meant by fulfill for He admonishes us to put into action doing the commandments and becoming “Great in the kingdom of Heaven.”

It hardly seems likely that Yeshua would have told His disciples that the Torah has been fulfilled and declared invalid then tell them to do them to become great in the kingdom of Heaven.

 But what about the second line of reasoning “You have heard it said… but I say unto you”?

This is often seen in the context of the Torah and the better way of Yeshua. A careful reading of the text will find that Yeshua uses more than the words of the Torah in His quotes. You will never find the term “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy” in the Torah at all. The simple answer is that Yeshua is contrasting the superficial meaning with the correct meaning in light of the entire Torah.

For example: The command “Honor your Father and your Mother” may simply mean to someone to honor them in words. However, in light of the whole of Torah it takes on a whole new meaning.

In what ways do we honor them?

The type of argument “You have heard it said… but I say unto you” used by Y-shua was a type of argument that was very common in the days of Yeshua. As He so often does He is speaking to His followers in a way that was understood by the people of the day.

 In conclusion, it is not the Torah that Yeshua is calling deficient, but the manner in which it was being commonly taught in that day by some teachers.

Prime example is in Mark 7 with the rebuking of the washing of the hands.