In our desire to provide you with the teaching of Messiah Yeshua in a Jewish context, we provide in-depth teachings of the weekly Torah portions throughout the year. Below are various perspectives from various teachers and staff members from Netivyah Bible Instruction ministry.
Joseph Shulam: Brad TV Video Teaching – Vezot Ha’Bracha [2022 – Vezot Ha’Bracha]
Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Joseph Shulam.
Shalom. We are in the 54th recording of the Torah portion in partnership with Brad TV.
This is the last portion of the Torah that is read before all the Jewish world and all the synagogues, including many of the messianic synagogues, and all are going to start over next week, going back to Genesis.
The Torah, like all the word of God is an ocean. Every chapter is an ocean. Every sentence is an ocean. But when we look from Genesis chapter one to Deuteronomy chapter 34, it’s a vast ocean.
I’ve been a disciple of Yeshua, of Jesus, since 1962. Sixty years. And I’ve read the Bible through several times from beginning to end and all the days of my life I read the Bible. And every time I read the Bible, even if it is a section that I’ve read literally hundreds, maybe thousands of times, I see something new.
Well, we are now at the last portion of the Torah and in a week, all the synagogues are going to roll back the scroll from the end to the beginning through Genesis and start over. The name of this portion in Hebrew is “and this is the blessing” and it is the final blessing that Moses gives to the twelve tribes of Israel.
Like every chapter and every text, it’s full of fascinating things. And of course, in the time that is allotted for us to do a program for “Brad TV”, we can’t touch on everything, but I will do my best to get the gist, the juice, out of this chapter for you, my dear brothers and sisters in Korea and around the world.
This is the blessing that Moses blessed. Moses, the man of God, blessed the children of Israel before he died. That’s the first verse of our Torah section and it starts from verse one of chapter 33 and it ends at verse 12 of chapter 34, which is the end of the five books of Moses: the end of the Pentateuch and it’s fascinating. The whole concept of blessings and curses is fascinating.
The portion from the prophets that is read in the synagogues this Shabbat is from Joshua chapter one. That starts where the book of Deuteronomy stops. And it says that God did tell Joshua, only after the death of Moses on Mount Nebo, to pack up their bags and cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land.
Of course, God, in consideration of Moses, waited until he died before He gave the marching orders to the children of Israel to cross the river. Because he didn’t want Moses to see them crossing the river and be left behind. So God waited, graciously for Moses to die and then gave the order to Joshua and the children of Israel to cross the river.
Now this idea of blessing, it’s something that is not so popular in the teachings of a lot of churches. But the word blessing occurs in the Old Testament eighty-nine times and the first time is in Genesis chapter twelve verse two, where God says to Abraham, “I will bless you and you will be a blessing.” Of course, a blessing to the world, not only to the Jews, to Israelites, to the people of the Book, but to every believer in the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob; the God of Israel that created the Heavens and the Earth. Abraham was a blessing to the world because Islam, Christianity and Judaism all hold Abraham as the father of our faith.
So, the first blessing we hear is God blessing Abraham and his seed. His seed, of course, ultimately is Yeshua Himself, Jesus Himself, according to Paul in Galatians chapter three. The seed in the singular is Jesus Himself and then all of God’s children are a part of the seed of Abraham. A part of the people that gave up their idolatry, their idols and their pagan ways and accepted the God who created the Heavens and the Earth. Accepted His blessing through Abraham, through King David, through the prophets and all the way through to His Son that blessed the whole world, not only the Israelites.
The second thing that we learn in chapter thirty-three, is that God revealed Himself in Sinai, from the rising of the sun, from the mountains of Paran. God revealed himself as a fiery law. Literally that’s what the Hebrew means. But it means a very powerful code of law of revelation for the world as a whole, not only for Israel.
And Moses keeps explaining the situation; that God did it because he loves his children. Because he adores his creation and his saints. He gave a foothold. Literally that’s what the text says, a foothold. In verse 3 of chapter 33 they sit down at your feet literally, they have a foothold through your revelation, through your word which you have given to them that they have received. A very strong statement.
That’s the beginning of the blessings. Let me go back and talk to you a little bit more about blessings in general. Jacob, at his death bed, in book of Genesis, gathers Joseph and his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, and the other brothers of Joseph at his death bed.
He blesses most of them, not all of them. Simeon and Levi for embarrassing him in front of the Canaanites in the city of Ashram he didn’t bless so much. But he blessed his children and the two of his grandchildren, maybe more, but at least Ephraim and Manasseh, the children of Joseph.
And now Moses about to die and he’s blessing his people, the 12 tribes of Israel, each one, just like Jacob did at his death bed.
I remember when I had heart problems and I was hospitalized in the Hadassah Hospital in Mount Scopus, we were two in a room. Every morning my neighbor, a fellow Persian Jew, Iranian Jew, that had also heart trouble, some of his children and sometimes his grandchildren would come and would bring him food; not the hospital food, food the way that he was used to eating. Simple Iranian food.
Then before they left — some of them were soldiers — they would kneel in front of his bed, and he would put his hands on their head and bless them. The same blessing every morning. I was so jealous. So jealous, because my father never blessed me. He cursed me many times, but he never blessed me.
Yes, he taught me a lot of very important things and he was a good father. But he was not religious, he didn’t believe in God, neither did my mom. But in the end, they believed, and I had the privilege of baptizing my mother, my father, my sister, her children, my whole family. But as I was growing up, my father was at least, 50 percent of the time absentee on his job. He worked literally all over the world and he never blessed me.
I saw this man, you know, he was sicker than I was, sitting up, putting his hands on the sons heads and his grandchildren’s heads, and blessing them. That’s such a great thing.
Eighty-nine times in the Hebrew Bible we have the patriarchs blessing. Isaac blessed Jacob. Remember Rebecca dressed Jacob to feel like Esau, and he stole the blessing from Esau? But then Issac blessed Esau also, not only Jacob.
We have blessings all through the Bible. All through the Bible, people blessed each other. Also, we in our congregation, every week, bless all the soldiers and all the security forces that serve Israel and protect Israel from our enemies.
We bless God in every one of our services. We bless God for his creation in every one of our services, for the sun and the moon and the stars and nature. We appreciate His goodness and his mercy and his Son’s blood, who atones for our sins. So blessing is very important. And we need to learn to bless each other more. Both in person and in general.
We need to ask God, for our nation, our government, our soldiers, and our police forces, to pour His grace upon them, and upon our world. We see every week somewhere in the world, the effects of the global warming. Floods that people have not seen. In other places, droughts of great lakes and great rivers that have flown for thousands of years, are drying up, becoming puddles. Yes, we need to bless ourselves, our families, our friends, our security forces and our government, and not always think of what I can get out of it.
Don’t expect to get anything out of it. Expect the Lord to give you the chance to put more into it, for you to be a blessing. Ask God to bless you so that you can be a blessing to others, not only to yourself. Then, you very likely are going to receive God’s blessing.
And here are the last words of Moses, folks in verse five in chapter thirty-three. “And he was a king in Jeshurun when the leaders of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together”.
We forget that God is a king. And His reign was established before he created the world. Moses mentioned that He’s the king, in the song of Moses when they crossed the Red Sea, in chapter 15, of Book of Exodus, verse 18.
God reigns, and He’s always been a king. But a king is different than a savior. A savior can give us grace, save us by his grace, by sacrifice, by his blood. Kings, folks, need soldiers, need horses, need artillery, need obedience, need taxes.
Yes, we forget we worship Jesus, we worship God as Savior, Sweet Savior. But we forget that God is also a King. And here, Moses tells these people, that were 40 years in the wilderness eating mana every day, there is a king in Jeshurun. There is a king in Israel. There is a king in the camp that you are a part of right now.
And then Moses’ started blessing tribe, after tribe, after tribe. Because of time, I’m not going to name every tribe and the blessing that God gave every tribe, that would take too long. But I do want to go to verse 10 of chapter 33, that talks about the role of the tribe of Levi, one of the longest blessings. “They shall teach Jacob your judgements, and Israel your law, they shall put incense before you and all burnt sacrifice on your altar.”
The role of the Levites and the priest in Israel was not only to worship. Not only to kill animals and put them on the altar. It was not only to bless the people with the Aharonic blessing: The Lord keep you and bless you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you. May the Lord give you, not only all that, but to teach (they were teachers, they were instructors to the people of Israel) to walk in God’s judgements.
Now we don’t have Levite’s officially today. I am a Levite by tribe. But we are not officiating because we don’t have temple.
But we are also, most of my brothers and sisters, who are pastors, teach very little. They preach, and there’s a difference between teaching and preaching dear brothers and sisters. Teaching is not connected to fund raising, not connected to building projects, not connected to mission work. Teaching is equipping the saints to live and to be saints and to walk in God’s statutes and His commandments. And teaching is a different discipline than preaching. It’s not goal oriented. It’s soul oriented.
Because of time, I’m not going to continue this vein, but I want you, brothers and sisters and especially you pastors and leaders, to take that into account. Yes, preaching is necessary, but I say teaching is much more necessary because that is the product of the spirit and that’s what our people need more than motivational preaching to raise more money or to send another missionary or to buy another car or to pay salaries.
All these things are important, but teaching is much more important because it feeds our soul and gives us the equipment, the spiritual, the moral, the physical equipment that we need to be children of God and to be soldiers of Christ; because we have a King and He has an army.
I want to end with a secret about a very famous Rabbi who lived in Spain during the 14th century. When he couldn’t say something that wasn’t politically correct for his time, then he said, “It’s a mystery” and “if you want to know who wrote the Torah and the stand the mystery of the twelve.”
I’ve had lots of great teachers, and nobody knows for sure what he meant but it’s possible that he meant that if you want to know who wrote the book of Deuteronomy, then you know the secret of the twelve. What I think he meant is the last twelve verses, the last chapter of the book of Deuteronomy. The last chapter of the book of Deuteronomy has twelve verses, Chapter 34. And it describes how Moses leaves the Jordan River, climbs up the mountain and dies on the mountain. He died on the mountain. Nobody was with him, he was alone.
The Holy Spirit must have revealed these things to the writers of the book of Deuteronomy. But the last verse that Moses says, in the five books of Moses are verse 29 of the book of Deuteronomy chapter 33, “Happy are you, oh Israel, who is like you, you are people saved by the Lord. The shield of your help, the sword of your majesty, your enemies shall submit to you, and you shall tread down their high places. Their pagan temples. You should tread down the pagan temples”. And through Jesus Christ this happened.
You travel the world over. You can go to Mexico; you can visit the ancient Mayan temples with all their glory. They’re tourist sites. You can go to Nepal and see their pagan temples but there’s also a lot of people there that have left idolatry and have believed in the Messiah, the king, the savior, Yeshua of Nazareth. Raised in Nazareth, born in Bethlehem, sitting at the right hand of God.
With this, we’re finishing the study of the Torah portion. 54 weeks; a years’ worth of Torah portions. And don’t forget to keep reading them. Read the prophets and read the New Testament. Make it a practice the way you get up in the morning and brush your teeth. The way you eat breakfast and lunch and dinner.
Don’t forget to feed your soul because it’s going to make you stronger and it’s going to make you feel the peace of the Lord in your life, even in times of turbulence. Because God’s word is healing. It’s a medicine for our souls.
May God bless you and Shalom from Jerusalem.
Joseph Shulam: A Shadow of What Is to Come [2020 – Shemini Atzeret]
This next Shabbat is the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, it is called the celebration of the Joy of the Torah. During the High Holidays the readings do not follow the regular weekly order, there are special readings for the Holidays.
This Shabbat, October 10th, 2020, the reading in the synagogues will be as follows: from the Torah – Leviticus 23:24-36, 39. From the prophets the reading will be 2 Chronicles 7:9, and from the New Testament we read from John 7:37-39. All of the readings are connected to the feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles).
This reading has some very important implications from the record of the Gospel of John chapter 7. We read only a small portion of chapter 7, but I recommend for you to read the whole chapter 7 in the Gospel of John. From the beginning of the chapter there are mysterious things happening.
Yeshua is invited by his disciples and his brothers to join them in the holy pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Sukkot (Tabernacles) is one of the three main biblical festivals where Israel is commanded to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
In the book of Zechariah, chapter 14, every nation of the world will have to send their representatives to come to Jerusalem at this feast and give homage to the God of Israel.
The reason for this future command is a little complicated, but it is rooted in the Torah. Israel, from its birth as a nation in the desert of Sinai and its receiving of the Torah from God, has had to offer during the holiday of Sukkot 70 bulls – a bull for every nation.
In the eschatology of Zechariah chapter 14 we learn the following:
“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” – Zechariah 14:16 [NKJV]
This prophecy of Zechariah is actually a kind of fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham in Genesis chapters 12 and 22, and to Isaac in Genesis chapter 26.
All the nations (the families of the world) will on that day worship the God of Israel and leave their idolatry behind and accept the Lord God of Israel as their God, and of course together with the God of Israel they will be blessed and accept the only one and true God, the Creator of the Universe.
The essence of the Feast of Tabernacles is that our lives in the world are all like the Sukkah – a temporary structure that is totally vulnerable to the elements of nature, to the rain and the wind and the heat of the sun by day.
So the Feast of Tabernacles is a prophetic feast that involves all the nations of the world, and a prophetic prediction that the day will come when all the world, all the nations of the world, will accept the God of Israel and reject their idols and worship God in Jerusalem.
So, Sukkot is a very special feast with eschatological implications for the future and historical implications for all the nations. For this reason it is important for Christians to understand the feast and to receive the historical and theological implications.
The most important aspect of the Feast of Sukkot is that from the highest moment when, “all is well, my barns are full, my wine jars are full, and my bank account is full.” The reminder that all is transient and temporary and that our life in this world is insecure that we are really only nomads passing through his life to get to somewhere else has both a medical and psychological as well as spiritual effect for equipping us to lead a healthier and more secure life.
Just building the Sukkah, a temporary, shabby, insecure structure that allows the rain and the wind to come in as well as the cold and heat, and that nothing in the Sukkah has any permanent value, reminds us that this is also true of our lives which have no permanence.
The practice of eating our meals in the Sukkah and after eight days taking it down, acts as a great healing factor that focuses our lives on the eternal and reminds us both physically, and emotionally, that heaven is our home and all that we have and want in this world is at best temporary, fragile, and vulnerable to all aspects of time.
So we read chapter 14 of the prophet Zechariah, who spent part of his life in the diaspora (exile) of the “Los Angles” of his time, or Babylon, probably not far from the Babylonian Disney World.
He comes back to the ruined city of Jerusalem and writes about an international coalition and war against Jerusalem. Zechariah then speaks of the one who was pierced (chapter 12:10ff) and of the whole world gathering to Jerusalem, this time to offer worship to the God of Israel on the Feast of Sukkot.
Yes, the most transient becomes the most permanent. The most hated by the pagan nations becomes their place of adoration and worship and the source of their prosperity. This is Sukkot – “a shadow of what is to come.”