The reading this Shabbat is from Leviticus chapter 14:1-15:37. It is a short parashah with essentially one topic, the laws of purity. Now, the issue of purity is not so popular in the Christian religions. It is hard for us to understand.

We have showers and bathtubs at home, and we wash very often. We also don’t have the concept of spiritual cleanliness or purity. Let me try to explain these concepts in our 21st Century perspective.

I will use one verse that is also ignored by most of the evangelical churches:

“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but vas an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into Heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.” – 1 Peter 3:21-22

Let us look at this verse more carefully: Baptism is something that all Christians know at least something about. Catholics churches and high Protestant churches baptize their babies with sprinkling a little water on the head of the baby.

The Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox, Coptic, and Ethiopian Churches also baptize babies, but by immersion, totally dipping the baby in water. These churches baptize the babies because they believe that without baptism, these babies will go to hell if they die.

The rationale for this practice is based on the above verses from the first letter of Peter. These churches took the verse literally “Baptism that corresponds to this, now saves you . . .”

The problem with this traditional church interpretation is that the first phrase, “which corresponds to this”, is totally ignored. “Corresponds to” what?

The context of these verses is Noah’s flood. Noah and his family were saved by the flood because the water lifted his boat, ship, above the water, and this is how Noah and his family were saved.

There is no magic in the physics of water lifting and floating a boat. However, when a baby or an adult is baptized, the water makes the baby wet, but it has no magic to ensure that this baby will be saved in the Judgment Day and go to Heaven. The text in Peter’s letter also makes it clear that baptism is not a bath or a shower that cleans the body and thus saves by cleanliness.

Baptism is “not as a removal of dirt from the body”, it is “as an appeal to God for a good conscience”. The formative word here is “AS”. In other words, it is an image, a picture, an example, that uses the resurrection of Yeshua our Messiah as an example of salvation by making us followers of the Messiah.

As the Messiah went to Heaven after His resurrection, so we, who simulate His death and resurrection and ascension to Heaven when we are baptized, so we appeal to God as followers of the Messiah Yeshua and participators in His death, burial, and resurrection, when we are baptized, because we are subjected to Him, that is, to the Messiah.

Let me simplify this a little. Paul, in Romans chapter 6, makes it clear:

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” – Romans 6:3-4

Of course, baptism, like all of God’s commandments, only works when the person who is being baptized is doing it with faith and by faith. (See Mark 16:16, “Whoever believes and’ is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”)

What can be clearer than the words of the Apostle Paul here? If you don’t believe and are dunked in water – you will be condemned. In other words, without faith, believing, the water will not save you.

The vestige of the purity laws of the Torah (The Law of Moses) is now summed in the one act of faith that we all must take – and that is the participation symbolically in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Messiah, and the privilege of following Him into the presence of God in Heaven.

Let me bring to you a few more verses from the New Testament that deal with purification:

“Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them.” – Acts 21:26

“While I was doing this, they found me purified in the temple, without any crowd or tumult. But some Jews from Asia…” – Acts 24:18

“For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 11:2,3

“The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” – 1 Timothy 1:5

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” – 2 Timothy 2:22

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.” – Hebrews 9:22,23

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, clove one another earnestly from a pure heart…” – 1 Peter 1:22

“And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.” – 1 John 3:3

Let us all refocus our lives with these reminders of our need for purity in both the heart and our lives.

Please meditate on the following story and put yourselves into this scene in front of Yeshua, and ask yourselves what I need to learn from this text:

“On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.’ When he saw them he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, ‘Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.’” – Luke 17:11-19

The Israeli election is over, and Benjamin Netanyahu was the winner. This is Netanyahu’s fifth term in office as the prime minister of Israel. He needs our prayer and the state of Israel needs your prayers.

It is important for you to pray for Israel and pray for the Jewish disciples of Yeshua in Israel. There are forces rising in Israel that will make the lives and the future of the Jewish disciples of Yeshua in this country much more difficult. We need your prayers and your support.

Please continue to pray for Netivyah and the Roeh Israel Congregation, and for our brothers and sisters in Brazil, the Teaching from Zion Ministry, and the Har Zion Congregation, and the ABRAJIN non-profit organization.

Please also keep in prayer the congregations in Vitoria, Curitiba, and in so many other places in Brazil.

We are all working very hard for the restoration of the Latin hidden Jews, or lost Jews, that are victims of the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions. Please pray for the conference that will be held in the middle of the month of May in Castelo de Vide, Portugal. We need your prayer support and your material support to make this conference what God wants it to be.

I especially appeal to brothers and sisters in Europe to join this conference because the Catholic Inquisition was, generally-speaking, a European problem. We need our brothers from Italy and from Spain and Germany and Finland and Holland to make a major effort to come to Castelo de Vide and be a part of this effort to restore the Marrano/Anussim Jews back to their identity and back to Israel.

Please make a special effort to participate in this important event for the future of Israel and the restoration of the decendents of the victims of the Inquisition to Israel, and their return to the Land of Israel.

For information on how to attend this conference, please contact Daniel at Netivyah here.

You can also go to the web page of the Castelo de Vide municipality and see the program. It is not totally the final program, but you will get a picture of the important people who are going not participate in that conference.

Below is a nice flier prepared by the municipality of Castelo de Vide:

There are still places to join us on the Netivyah 40th Anniversary Tour. This will not be a normal tour that most of the tourists to Israel take. It will be a special tour with special events and places that the guests of Netivyah will experience.

It is a celebration of God’s grace and goodness, allowing us to minister and serve Him for 40 years. We chose 40 years because of the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the 40 years of the wilderness. We see this as a step into the second period of our service to God, with new-generation leadership and a renewal of the vision and the mission that God has for Israel and for the disciples of Yeshua.

We have a very dear family living in Sweden that are faithful prayer partners for Israel and for Netivyah.  Pray for the Lucca family in Sweden. This precious family has been praying and standing with Israel for many years, and now several members of this family have some health challenges and need our prayers.

Our dear sister Ruby Little in Oklahoma is suffering from the aftermath of the chemotherapy.  Ruby has to decide now if she will continue with more chemotherapy or defer this option.

Eli Levi is in Cincinnati with his two sons and is continuing with more chemotherapy to conquer the cancer in his body. Please keep Eli in your prayers.

Please don’t forget to pray for my family and especially for Marcia my dear wife, and Danah and Noaam and all those on this prayer list – that God will be glorified in their lives and in their healing. Keep Barry our son and his family in your prayers. It is so very important for the Shulam family to be under the wings of God’s grace and stay firm in the faith and raise their children in the Lord.

Our dear brother Efim passed from this world to be with the saints eternally. His widow has no access to any funds until all the paperwork is processed. This could take a few months. Efim our dear brother did not make the necessary steps to take care of these mundane and logistical needs. Our congregation and Netivyah will have care for the widow until the legal issues are resolved. Please pray for Elena Litvak, Efim’s widow. It is our God-given duty.

Eddi Santoro is also in urgent need for prayer.

Netivyah is receiving so many messages of gratitude and thanks from the over 200 soldiers who are serving in the Israeli Defense Forces.

We appreciate so much the contributions for the purchase of the van for Netivyah. The generosity of so many brothers from around the world has been wonderful, but we are now only halfway of what is needed to replace the Netivyah van.

Please continue to pray for Netivyah and the van that is needed so much for the work of feeding the poor of Jerusalem, serving the youth, the shopping every week for the HaMotzi food program, and for so many other very important services that are needed by both the congregation and Netivyah.

Please remember our dear brother Jacob Damkani in your prayers. I visited Jacob Damkani this week. Jacob, and his wife Elisheva, and all the family, need your prayer. It will take a miracle from God to restore Jacob to a normal life. We do believe in miracles from God.

Dr. M. Song, from Korea, and his whole family needs our prayers. Dr. M. Song is one of the real knights of God’s Kingdom in this century. He and his family need our prayers. There is no one in the world that I know that is such a prayer warrior for Israel and for the Jewish Disciples of Yeshua in this land like Dr. Song and his family.

Keep a dear sister in the Lord named Courtney in your prayers.

I am adding two very important prayer requests: Keep Um Abu-Eid in your prayers.

Please continue praying for baby Lion from the Huch family in DFW. Little Lion is doing better, but still far from being out of the woods.

Please continue to pray for our Jewish brother Hillel from Helsinki, and Keijo and Salme in Nokia, and for Tim Tucker, Anne-Mirjami, Satu-Maria and Anna-Majia, Sinni Tuuli, Erki and Sirpa, Keijo and Salme, Evelina, and Eva H.

Pray for Patty, Andrea, and Tineke – all are in the Netherlands and need healing from God.

Continue to pray for Julia and Victor.

Please add a dear sister that is suffering from prejudice in Switzerland. Her name is Paula and she needs a divine breakthrough.

Please keep praying for a dear sister named Zhou WenriIan living in China.

Keep in prayer Pastor Isaac in Chennai, India, who has a deep love for the Lord and for Israel. He is sick with kidney problems and needs a dialysis treatment several times per week.

I am also asking you to pray for a dear sister in China who is doing so much for the Kingdom of God – her name is Ema! She has a big burden for a big school that needs the Lord to bless it and open up all the avenues of blessing and enable success both in the physical and spiritual realm.

Margareta is a dear woman who is orthodox Jewish, please keep her in your prayers. I can report that Margareta has received grace from the Lord and her terrible situation has improved dramatically.

In our congregation please lift in your prayers the following brothers and sisters who need the Lord’s gracious touch of healing: George, Gary, Melanie, and Aharon (Nancy and Don’s son), Sarit, David S., Gabriela, Ahuva, Leah, Ilana, Yehuda H., Hannah, Gabriela the young, Zvi D. and his dear wife, and especially Nancy.

Nancy is recovering from a CVA (stroke).  The Lord was merciful, and Nancy will fully recover from this stroke with God’s help.

These are brothers and sisters from around the world who need your prayer and your intercession and healing: Paulo, and Noami. Marcelo’s parents, Curita Sensei, the Abe family, Toru, Takeo Sensei, Daisuke Sensei, Tomoko San, Yumi, and her father and family.

Please pray for sister Oksanen. They need prayer for illness. Please pray for Louisa and Tony in Hong Kong.

I have special concern for our dear brother Goh and his family, and for Sister Christy, Sister Laurel, and for Brother Michael Knezevich.

These are all people for whom you are praying, but I want you to know that these are also people who pray for Israel and for Netivyah and stand and support both Israel and Netivyah.

I want to add a brother from Brazil who is living in Portugal now and is having some serious family problems. His name is Ismael Alves.

There is a messianic congregation in Kenya. The leader of this congregation is Asher Gabriel.  This congregation and their leader Asher Gabriel need our prayers. They need prayer for just about everything. Although we don’t know them personally, we do know one very dear sister from that congregation spent several months with us in Jerusalem.

I wish all of you, who stand with Israel and who pray for Jerusalem, the best of the Lord’s blessings and the fulfillment of all His promises to His faithful children. For the Lord is gracious and longsuffering and good to all, but especially to those who have faith and hear His word and do it.

Those who hear God and do His will are the ones who are called wise! Those who only hear His word and don’t do it are called foolish! Let us all strive to be wise and never foolish! The best is yet to come! Israel will be saved!

Thank you all and know that we in Jerusalem love and appreciate you!

Joseph Shulam