tTIn 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.
Yehuda Bachana: The Torah ends with its essence: receiving God’s blessing – [2023 – Vezot Ha'Bracha]
Read the transcript below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.
Let’s return to the opening statement, at the very beginning of this series, namely at Parashat Bereshit. There, I expressed the hope that our joint study through the Torah-cycle, would open a door to the Messianic world. As you see the Messianic world at a closer angle, and through this study, it is my aim and hope that it will better unite our hearts, and give glory to the Word of God.
I hope that our joint study of the Scriptures, alongside familiar and known ideas, has introduced you to new ideas and understandings, as well. And so, the Netivyah staff hopes to have enriched your knowledge and understanding of the Word of God.
As we celebrate ‘Shemini Atzeret’, also commonly known as ‘Simchat Torah’, we read the last Torah portion, ‘Vezot ha’Bracha’. Then, immediately after, we re-roll the Torah scroll, and read the beginning of Genesis. This reminds us that the Torah reading never ends, and that we can never say, ‘it’s completed!’
This Torah portion is special, because it is read the day after Succot, at ‘Shemini Atzeret’, and not necessarily on a Shabbat.
This feast is called ‘Simchat Torah’, because we rejoice in the Torah that God gave us. According to tradition, we take all our Torah scrolls from the ark, then we dance and sing seven rounds (or: hakafot) with the Torah scrolls, meaning: with the Word of God.
Each of the Biblical feasts, originates in the Torah, and deals with past events, that shaped the People of Israel. Let’s take the Exodus, for example, that happened in such a rush, that the dough did not rise properly. and so we have matzo bread.
Yet, at Simchat Torah unlike the other holidays, we celebrate the Torah itself. Simchat Torah does not commemorate a past event that we are commanded to remember; however, Simchat Torah is dedicated to the very reading of the Torah.
We rejoice in the privilege to have studied the Torah throughout the last year, and rejoice that we reached this moment: the beginning of the New Year, where we will learn new aspects and lessons from the Word of God.
We approach this journey and this moment with joy. This is how Paul describes the Torah to Timothy, one of his disciples:
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)
We rejoice in receiving our spiritual inheritance, and in the knowledge that we are invited to warm up in its light. We rejoice to be comforted by the prophecies God put in the mouths of the prophets, and in the knowledge that God is by our side and that He is our comforter, even at difficult times.
This inheritance is described in verse 4:
“Moses commanded us a law, an inheritance for the assembly of Jacob” (Deuteronomy 33:4).
And it points out the idea is that we pass on the Word of God from generation-to-generation.
It could be, that someone inherits something, but postpones taking possession of that thing, as he is preoccupied with other things in life. Nevertheless, the inheritance does wait for us, and for the time we will be ready to take possession of that inheritance, which is the inheritance of the assembly, or: the sons, of Jacob.
The wording of this verse could be understood in such a way, that the People of Israel has exclusive rights of the Torah. However, it is important to notice, that the most common understanding in the world of the Jewish Midrash, says that the Torah is universal and meant for everyone.
Any person in the world can learn from the Word of God.
This is also our approach. All the inhabitants of the world are more than welcome to attend any synagogue or congregation, in any city or town: to hear the weekly Torah portion, and to learn an idea, an instruction or a practical commandment, that is useful for their daily-life.
Anyone who hears and applies lessons from the Scriptures into their daily life and into their family-life, will receive a blessing, or more precisely: will receive the many blessings that are promised throughout the Scriptures.
Some commentators explain the word ‘assembly’, as: ‘to assemble, to gather’; they understand ‘assembly’ as a hint that many will gather around Jacob, and that God’s Law will be spread all over the world:
“’It does not say, an inheritance for the house of Jacob, or the seed of Jacob, but rather the assembly of Jacob’, meaning that many will be assembled to it, and the Torah will be for the whole world, and the inheritance for Jacob and for all who gathered to us, they are the foreigners accompanying God to serve him and to be added to the house of Jacob, and all together they will be called his assembly.” (Ramban on Deuteronomy 33:4)
So, without a doubt, the Torah was given to the People of Israel for safekeeping; and yet, the purpose of the Torah, is to lead the entire world to faith and service of God.
In the next verse, Moses declares:
“And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together.” (Deuteronomy 33:5)
This verse might seem simple and easy to read; however, it did bother, and continues to bother our sages and Torah scholars. Some explain that this verse speaks about Moses, who was like a king of Israel; while, others say that this verse speaks about God, the King of Israel.
Then there are those, who say that this verse speaks about the days of Messiah. As believers, we interpret this verse as a prophesy, that speaks of the day a King will rise from the House of Jacob. That He will unite the tribes of Israel, and rule the world, forever and ever.
As believers we see Yeshua in this prophesy. Our faith is not limited to the ‘People of Israel’; truly, in addition to Yeshua being the King of the Jews, He also is the King of Israel Who will unite all the tribes, after which, the tribes will listen to Him; and yet, Yeshua is the King of the World, too. The entire world: the heavens above and the earth beneath it: all will bow down before Him, recognizing His royalty:
“that at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Yeshua the Messiah is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11).
After this prophesy, at the very end of the Torah, on his last day with the Children of Israel, Moses blesses the people in front of him. He gives a special blessing to each tribe.
“This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the people of Israel before his death” (Deuteronomy 33:1)
This blessing to Israel, is the appropriate conclusion and inheritance for the man who left the comfort and luxury of the Egyptian royal palace of the Pharaoh. Instead of enjoying his top position, Moses
“went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor.” (Exodus 2:11)
This very same Moses was also willing to leave his second family in Midian, as God revealed Himself, and called Moses to take the people out of their suffering in Egypt:
“So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” (Exodus 3:10)
These blessings and conclusion are important, in order to balance the threats and the curses promised throughout Deuteronomy. Actually, the entire Book of Deuteronomy makes up Moses’ speech to the People of Israel.
This speech contains a thorough soul-searching, and already from the first chapter, Moses begins his speech with reproof:
“Nevertheless you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the Lord your God; and you complained in your tents, and said, ‘Because the Lord hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.’” (Deuteronomy 1: 26-27).
Throughout the entire speech, and the entire Book of Deuteronomy, there are many threats and warnings, that cause fear and worry about the coming future.
And so, the blessing Moses gives on his last day, is a beautiful and touching conclusion. It assures that, in spite of the harsh words Moses used to rebuke, only a few days earlier; deep inside, Moses truly loves the people!
So, with a clear and sharp mind, Moses stands before the people and blesses them, from the depths of his heart, blessing each tribe, separately with a unique blessing. Moses ends his blessings with a blessing for the entire People of Israel, saying:
“Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help” (Deuteronomy 33:29)
After the last blessing, Moses simply turned around and walked away. He climbed up to Mount Nebo, where God showed him the Promised Land from afar.
Until today, nobody knows Moses’ burial place.
This ending provides a wide variety of commentaries and interpretations that deal with Moses’ death and burial, including a rich variety of legends about his funeral and reasons why Moses’ burial place is unknown.
The difficulty lies in verse 6 and 7, where we read about Moses’ death and burial. Someone buries him at the valley, which is across the Jordan river, in Moab. However, immediately after, we read that no one knows where Moses was buried. And so, the question, or the difficulty, arises: if nobody knows where Moses was buried, then who buried him, and how?
Here, the legends and Midrash-commentaries offer a variety of possibilities, starting with the option that Moses buried himself, or that he entered into a burial cave; while others say, that God Himself came down to take care of Moses’ burial.
The Epistle of Jude - in the New Testament - describes a heavenly war, at the top of Mount Nebo, across Jericho. This is a struggle between the heavenly forces - the angels - who fight against Satan:
“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” (verse 9)
Midrash Rabba 11 gives a similar description of the struggle between the archangel Michael and a character called ‘the evil Samuel’, which is another name for Satan.
In return to the difficult question of who buried Moses. From reading the Epistle of Jude, I understand that Moses did not burry himself. Then, from the description of the argument of the angel Michael with Satan, I understand that God sent His angels to bury Moses, because Moses was buried, as it is written “and he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab”, which was probably not done by men.
Here we conclude our Torah-cycle. We end our study and the reading of the five books of Moses, and we give all the glory and praise to our Heavenly Father Who has granted us life, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this occasion. We thank Him, for giving us the privilege and the ability to read and to study His Word in Jerusalem, His holy city.
Of course, our Torah-cycle does not end here. In our culture, the reading and study of the Scriptures is never done. So, after reading the last verse of the Torah:
“and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.”
we immediately re-roll the Torah-scroll; and so, on the very same day, we continue to read and recite:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
I would like to thank you, dear viewers, for joining us on this journey together, and for your precious time and attention.
Thank you for all the wonderful and encouraging feedback you keep sending us. It’s heart-warming.
All of us - I (Yehuda Bachana), the Netivyah staff, and the Roeh Israel congregation - hope to have renewed some of the Scriptures for you.
We hope that this study, has shed a new light on the Scriptures, or even just added some refreshing insights for you.
We encourage you to continue to read, pray and study from His Word – together as a family, as well as by yourself.
We conclude with the traditional blessing: ‘Chazak, Chazak, V'nitchazek!’, ‘be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened!’
Joseph Shulam: The Last Days of Sukkoth – Vezot Ha'Bracha [2023 – Vezot Ha'Bracha]
These are the last days of the feast of sukkoth. This next Shabbat is also the last reading of the Torah in this year’s cycle. The reading is going to be from the last Torah portion that is named Vezoth Ha’Bracha, from Deuteronomy 33:1 – 34:12. From the prophets the reading will be just the continuation from Deuteronomy to the first chapter of the book of Joshua chapter 1:1-14. From the New Testament we have the reading from the book of Acts chapter 1:1-14.
In the 19th century German Bible Scholarship there was a suggestion to not only call the five books of the Torah Pentateuch but include the book of Joshua and call the collection the Hexateuch. But, because of the different nature of the book of Joshua the standard remained with the five books of Moses as the Pentateuch. When you read the end of the book of Deuteronomy you immediately notice the nature flow of the text and that the person who wrote at least the last chapters of Deuteronomy also wrote the first chapters of the book of Joshua.
It is clear that the last twelve verses of the book of Deuteronomy could not have been written by Moses in the normal way because they speak of what happened to Moses after he departed from the camp of Israel and ascended to the top of Mount Nebo and also called Pisgah. Here is the basis for the two names of the same mountain:
“Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. And the LORD showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan,”. (Deuteronomy 34:1 NKJV)
In Hebrew Pisgah means the panicle the top of the mountain. So, the name of the mountain is Nebo, the specific place that Moses climbed is the very top the panicle of the mountain. Of course Moses never came down from that mountain and was buried there by divine hands.
“So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day.” (Deuteronomy 34:5-6 NKJV).
This is a fantastic text that either points to the magnanimity of God our Father who was so faithful and considered of His servant Moses that He, the Father Himself, buried Moses on top of that mountain in the land of Moab, overlooking a very large and significant part of the land of Canaan that Moses in his life time didn’t get to cross the Jordan River and walk on the land promised to Abraham and his seed as an everlasting inheritance.
So, the first thing that we need to note and understand is that the last chapter of Deuteronomy couldn’t have been written by Moses in the normal way that things are written. The second possibility that is raised by some esoteric rabbinical sources is that Moses being a prophet could have written the 12 verses of chapter 34 of Deuteronomy before he waked the lonesome up hill hard climb by himself and deposited it in the hands of one of his trusted servants, may be someone like Joshua the son of Nun!
I don’t know which of the two options is more plausible that as a prophet Moses could have received this revelation from above and written it down before he climbed the mountain. Or the second possibility is that God gave that revelation of the whole chapter 12 of Deuteronomy to Joshua and as you can see when you read the text from chapter 34 to the first chapter of the book of Joshua the text is seamless. The reading just goes from the last verse of Deuteronomy to the first verses of the book of Joshua. Why is this important to me and why am I sharing this detail that seems no so important from any high spiritual implications.
Well, it is important for us to realize that the Bible is the inspired WORD of God, by “inspired” don’t mean that God was dictating word for word to the writers what to write the writers of the Bible. Inspired word of God means that godly men wrote down what they witnessed an saw and heard and some times saw in a vision and other times were guided by the Holy Spirit of God to look and see and interpret events or may be a boiling pot or a branch of almond tree, like in the case of Jeremiah the prophet. (See chapter 1 of Jeremiah).
So, yes, I do believe that Moses didn’t write the last 12 verses of the book of Deuteronomy, but I do believe that this revelation was given to Joshua or someone else in the camp of Israel in those days to write and explain what happened to the body of Moses on top of mount Nebo. It is interesting that in the smallest book of the New Testament the book of Jude we have this very interesting text about the death of Moses and the last chapter of the book of Deuteronomy:
“Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”” (Jude 1:9 NKJV)
It is extremely interesting to me that this text is here in the New Testament in the smallest book of the New Testament on short chapter, and yet it is revealing to us and providing more information about what was happening among the angles concerning the body of Moses on top of Mount Nebo on the east side of the Jordan River. The Angel Michael is particularly considered as Israel’s patron and defender (Dan 12:1 and Rev 12:7).
We see a similar conflict in the book of Zechariah:
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him.” (Zechariah 3:1 NKJV)
This fits in with the text in Daniel 12:1 and also fits the picture from the last chapters of the book of 1 Kings 22:19-25. This scene is a vision that the prophet Michaiah the son of Imlla saw of what is happening in the heavenly board room with God and His “staff” of angles that are discussing what to do with the death of King Ahab. I recommend for you to read the whole story from 1 Kings chapter 21:1 – to the end of chapter 22. You can also compare this text to the text of Job chapter 1.
“Then Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by, on His right hand and on His left. And the LORD said, “Who will persuade Ahab to go up, that he may fall at Ramoth Gilead?’ So one spoke in this manner, and another spoke in that manner. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, “I will persuade him.’ The LORD said to him, “In what way?’ So he said, “I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And the LORD said, ‘You shall persuade him, and also prevail. Go out and do so.’ Therefore look! The LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these prophets of yours, and the LORD has declared disaster against you.” Now Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah went near and struck Micaiah on the cheek, and said, “Which way did the spirit from the LORD go from me to speak to you?” And Micaiah said, “Indeed, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide!””
(1 Kings 22:19-25 NKJV)
I don’t want to end this study with this sad story of the death of Ahab, so here are a few observations from the text of the Torah portion. Moses ends her life with blessing all the tribes of Israel. As it is well known from the text of the Torah that Moses never had an easy ride all the days of his life since he killed that Egyptian task master and had to become a fugitive from Egypt until he returned to Egypt with God’s own commission to deliver the children of Israel out of slavery and bring them to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The children of Israel also didn’t give Moses an easy time. So, here is Moses knowing that his last days are coming soon and he stands in-front of tribes of Israel is wooden rod in his hand and blesses each tribe with wonderful blessings that in actuality reflect some of the events and descriptions of the inheritance of each of these 12 tribes of the sons of Jacob. The blessings are prophetic. But, unlike the blessings that Jacob blessed most of his sons but some of them he never forgave and the blessings he gave Simeon and Levi were not exactly positive blessings.
Moses on the other hand, I could say, forgave and forgot some of the sins and rebellions that were launched against him by the tribes. I believe that there is great lesson there for all of us. No matter what transpired in our lives, hardships and some times joys and pleasures and great friendships, and other times even members of our families fail us and betray us and hurt us! It is the right thing to do to leave blessing and forgiving and wishing well and good even to those who harmed us or hurt us and of course more than ever blessing those who stood with us and helped us and blessed us and supported us!
This is not a deep theological truth, but it is a big and important practical truth that if we can muster the moral and emotional fortitude do bless even our enemies it will always be a seed that will blossom with good feeling and smell that will be pleasing to God’s nose!
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.”