Hung a Mezuzah on a doorpost on our boat! We had to get a bit creative as to where to hang it, but it works! ‘Mezuzah’ in Hebrew means ‘doorpost’ and the idea comes from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 regarding putting God’s commands on doorposts to remind you the importance of heeding His voice or in other words, obeying His word. A mezuzah has a piece of paper within it with the verse from Deut 6:9, “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one…” written in Hebrew. The symbol at the top is the Hebrew letter ‘shin’, which symbolizes the word ‘Shaddai’. It also is believed to represent the human heart. As part of the New Covenant, the Holy Spirit’s job is to write God’s laws on our hearts causing us to want to hear God and obey His commands (Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:27). This particular mezuzah also has the Messianic seal of a menorah, the star of David, and the fish grafted together symbolizing believing Jews and Gentiles are one new man, grafted in to God’s proverbial olive tree, worshiping together like the early assemblies of believers went to synagogue, met in homes, and pursued unity (Romans 11; Ephesians 2:14-16).
As always, the first few words in the first sentence of this week’s assigned Torah portion dictates the title of the Torah portion. ‘Mishpatim’ is a Hebrew word found within the first sentence of Exodus 21:1 meaning ‘judgments’. To understand a basic overview of the history of the Torah as well as Haftarah Bible portions, click here.
In this particular Torah portion in Exodus 21:1-24:18 , we find a set of laws, judgments, rulings, or instructions, however you want to phrase it, with a central theme of being responsible in how you handle many areas of your life such as:
*how you handle your servants/employees/subcontractors (if you will) (see Exodus 21:1-11)
* how you handle your emotions or actions (see Exodus 21:12-27)
* how you handle your animals (see Exodus 21:28-36)
*how you handle what’s in your possession (see Exodus 22:1-15)
*as well as miscellaneous instructions on your lifestyle including heeding God’s voice found in these commandments as well as honoring the Sabbath and certain holy holidays (see Exodus 22:16-23:19)
All of these judgments or rulings of the LORD coincide with what Jesus/Yeshua expanded upon in Matthew 5:38-42 as well as Luke 6:31. In fact, Jesus even quoted from Exodus 21:24 in Matthew 5:38.
Back to the Torah portion…After the LORD thoroughly explains such concepts to Moses so he can in turn teach the people these said instructions, Abba Father (the LORD) informs Moses He will send an angel to protect the Israelites as they slowly sojourn to the promised land. God strongly advises to Moses and subsequently, His chosen people, that it is mission critical they obey these instructions in order for them to conquer precarious pagans along their path and to safely reach their destination (Exodus 23:20-23). God carefully reminds them to not adopt the practices and lifestyles of worship of the pagan peoples, but rather, His people should utterly uproot and destroy any hint of worship God has not prescribed (Exodus 23:24-25). In doing so, they will be healed of various sickness among them, including no woman will miscarry her child nor be unable to have children (Exodus 23:25-26). Similar expressions of faith are declared by God when He defines the health and safety benefits as well as curses to heeding or rejecting His documented voice in Deuteronomy 28.
Interestingly enough, starting in Exodus 23:29, God explains He will drive out the pagans “little by little” rather than all at once so that the land, and therefore, the fruits of the land (their food), could still be properly worked, and the wild animals not take over the land and consume the crops. Smart God! He further reminds them to not make any covenant or commitment…no deals with the enemy, no mingling of faiths, no believers with unbelievers, lest they entice His people to sin against God’s instructions or commands (Exodus 23:32-33). Where can we find similar sentiments in Scripture? Read my article ‘Walk Like An Egyptian?’ to discover numerous similar passages.
In the last chapter of this week’s Torah parashah, we see the people of God once again renew their commitment to serving Him and His way when they reply like wedding vows, “All the words which the LORD has said we will do.” (Exodus 24:3). Then like in a marriage, they consummated the covenant a few verses later in Exodus 24:5-8, all of which is similar to what the Israelites vowed a few chapters back in last week’s Torah portion when they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:5-8).
In the final verses of this ‘Mishpatim’ Torah portion, I noticed when Moses, Aaron, his brother, and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, along with seventy of the elders, saw God in person, they documented under His feet was a foundation of sapphires like they had never seen before. I recalled similar statements can be found in Isaiah 54:11 as well as Revelation 21:19. According to the world, sapphire is the birthstone of September, which tends to align with the busy Hebrew month of Tishri, the seventh month. During Tishri, several of the LORD’s holy holidays manifest such as the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah), Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), some of which were mentioned earlier in this Torah portion (Exodus 23:16). Notice the correlation of the seventh day, the seventh month, and seventh year ordaining various days or years of rest. To learn how the number 7 is hugely crucial in understanding prophecy and the upcoming Messianic Era, please read this article I recently penned, ‘There’s Your Sign’ as it is all related and important to any believer’s faith journey.
Overall, the general theme of this week’s Torah portion seems to be defining and outlining how God wants His people to demonstrate self-control, love, and commitment as they lead set-apart, peculiar lifestyles of worship different than those around them.
I pray this teaching enriched, encouraged, and exhorted you as you sojourn a faith journey of your own.
If you have been exposed to Judaism, Messianic Judaism, Hebrew Roots, or some variant of those branches, then you will most likely be familiar with the weekly Bible readings known as the Torah portion, also referred to as the parashah, which simply means a passage or section of the first five books of the Bible, as well as the Haftarah portion. The Torah and Haftarah portions are typically read publicly and studied each Sabbath. Often times, in Messianic Judaism as well as Hebrew Roots congregations, aligning portions from the New Testament, also known as ‘Brit Chadashah’, are publicly read or studied as well to compliment the Torah and Haftarah portions. If you are relatively new to hearing such unfamiliar terminology, this brief article has been scribed to give you an overview.
Brief Torah Portion History
The tradition of reading a passage from the Torah, which is also known as the law or teachings or instructions of God and can be found in the first five books of the Bible being Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, is believed to have began in 6th century BC immediately after the Jews were released from Babylonian captivity. Upon being allowed to return to Jerusalem to re-group and re-claim their God-ordained promised land (Ezra 1-2), which they were evicted from by God for failing to obey God’s voice documented throughout the Torah, Ezra, the Levitical priest, “had prepared his heart to the seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10) so as to not repeat history and be cursed by God for failure to heed His written Voice. Once the temple was rebuilt and dedicated unto the LORD, in the seventh month (Tishri, on the Hebrew calendar), “all the people gathered together as one man” so Ezra could read to them the “Book of the Law”. Each day during the Feast of Tabernacles, known as ‘Sukkot’ in Hebrew, also during the seventh-month, portions of the Torah were read to the people (Ezra 8). And so it is believed the custom began in order to prevent the calamity of the curses brought on God’s people for their rebellion in not obeying God’s written voice. At some point, the Torah portions were divided up into 54 weekly parashahs or specific passages. Still today, the entire globe (of those branches) are studying the same Bible passages in unity as “one man”.
Brief Haftarah Portion History
No one knows for certain how the Haftarah, also pronounced Haftorah in Ashkenazi communities, portions began, but many believe the tradition started circa 175 BC when Antiochus Epiphanes conquered the temple. At that tragic time, Antiochus Epiphanes outlawed the public reading of the Torah, replaced the holy artifacts with pagan gods within the temple, slaughtered pig, an unclean and abomination according to Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14, and Isaiah 65-66, as a means to mock God’s ordained sacrificial system, and even tormented and killed Jews for holding to their belief in the one true God and their determination to adhere to His laws. All of this was an “abomination of desolation”, which will happen again according to prophecies found in the Books of Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation. Consequently, the rabbis of those days researched and prescribed related passages of the Torah found in the Prophets to be read each week instead of the Torah during that tumultuous time. This became known as “Haftarah”, which means “conclude”.
After that horrific time, the practice of reading from the Prophets stuck so today, passages called portions from the Torah and the Haftarah, which are related are read.
Did you know when Jesus / Yeshua read Isaiah 61 in the synagogue on Shabbat (Sabbath/Saturday), which we can read about in Luke 4:16-30, He was reading from that specific week’s “Haftarah” portion? Did you know Jesus said that whoever does and teaches God’s laws will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:18-19)?
To learn more about the weekly Torah portions, subscribe to my blog and YouTube channel. Each week, I strive to write a blog post or publish a video teaching regarding that week’s Torah portion.
Shalom and Blessings!
Shabbat Shalom, Flip Flop Fellowship Friends!
This week’s Torah portion introduces us to not only the wisdom of Jethro, or ‘Yitro’ in Hebrew, Moses’ Father-In-Law, but also much wisdom in the prophetic patterns of The One True Living God, whom I call ‘Abba’, which means ‘Father’ in Hebrew.
Beginning in Exodus 18, we are introduced to the Midian priest, Jethro, who also is Moses’ Father-In-Law. Jethro brings with him Zipporah, Moses’ wife, as well as two of her (and presumably Moses’) sons, Gershom and Eliezer, to meet Moses at the foot of Mount Sinai where the Israelites are camped at this point in the story. After learning of all the miracles of the LORD and how the Israelites were redeemed, Jethro glorifies YHWH and offers a sacrifice of praise (Exodus 18:7-12). The next day, when Jethro sees the numerous issues or cases Moses’ presides over providing a judgment for each of the people’s cases, Jethro wisely recognizes it is impossible for Moses and the people to continue conducting business in this manner for they will exhaust themselves and especially Moses. Consequently, Jethro exhorts Moses to create a hierarchy of government or judges to rule over the people and judge accordingly. Any matter too difficult can be moved up the chain of command for Moses to come to a decision – perhaps similar to how cases can be escalated to our Supreme Court here in America. I especially love and have highlighted Jethro’s wise words when he said,
“And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do.” Exodus 18:20 (NKJV)
Jethro’s wisdom foreshadows the hierarchy of the eventual Messianic Era where Jesus prophecized the twelve disciples will sit on twelve thrones to rule and reign over the future twelve tribes of Israel one fine day (Matthew 19:28-30). We also can see just as Moses and his appointed leaders will be instructing God’s laws to the current Israelites, so too will Jesus and His appointed priests be teaching the miraculously gathered Israel as well as all the remaining world God’s laws, God’s Torah (Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 51; Ezekiel 44:23-24; Micah 4:1-8). To learn more about the “Second Exodus”, be sure to come back to this article (click here).
As we further examine this Biblical account of Moses and the Israelites, we see other elements foreshadowing the soon coming Messianic Era. Moses, along with the twelve tribes of Israel, and the mixed multitudes of people who aligned themselves with Israel upon the exodus of Egypt (see Exodus 12:37-38), are at Mount Sinai at this point in their faith journey when the Torah, or God’s instructions, God’s laws are given to them as part of the holy covenant. God, their redeemer, uses Moses, the mediator, to invite them to come into relationship with Him as His “special treasure” above all others not in covenant with Him for those in holy covenant shall be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). In the Brit Chadashah, or New Testament writings, The Apostle Peter uses the same terminology when he writes to believers in Messiah, whom he identifies as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people..who once were not a people but are now the people of God..” (1 Peter 2:9-10). Likewise, the Apostle John scribes in Revelation 20:6, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Do you see this correlation of those, being Israel, at Mount Sinai were given the Torah and Moses was essentially their king compared to how one day, in the Messianic Era, when Christ, our Messiah, returns to rule and reign, He will do so at Mount Zion according to numerous prophecies, He will be our King, and He will teach us His Torah and all that it means and is intended for (much like before during His first coming) to whom He deems is “Israel”, consisting of genetic Israel as well as those grafted-in or adopted or spiritual Israel being believers in Messiah (see Romans 11)? How amazing is that?!
But wait, there’s more! Not to sound like a TV commercial, but in God, there’s always more! You see so many are deceived in our modern religious thinking to believe that once you are “saved”, you are good to go, there is no need to go any further in one’s faith journey. But as we see from this wise Biblical account in Exodus, one’s redemption is just the beginning! Or as some have said, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.” Once redeemed (Exodus 19:4), God invited the people He redeemed into relationship defining to them who they were in His eyes should they accept the terms of His covenant (Exodus 19:5-6), and then once relationship was established or like a marriage was established, He continued to reveal more and more of His eternal truth (Psalm 119:160), being His Torah, His instructions and His intentions in it all (Exodus 20+). Relationship is the only way for one’s nature, one’s character, one’s truth to be revealed.
Where are you at in your faith journey? Have you been redeemed yet by believing Jesus is the Messiah who paid the debt for your lawlessness, who overcame the consequence of sin in death through His resurrection? Are you in covenant or relationship with God through Jesus? Has His Spirit of Holiness revealed to you what is holy, what His Torah reveals, what His instructions for living are, what it means to love God and love others, as well as more and more spiritual truths? Are you being consistently transformed in this “horribly-amazing-purification-process”? Are you being consecrated as you wash your clothes in the word making your garments clean like the Israelites were instructed (Exodus 19:10-11; John 17:17; Ephesians 5:26-27; Revelation 19:8,14)? Will you be apart of the Second Exodus one day?
Lastly, just as God consummated the covenant to His selected people at Mount Sinai, on that fine day when Jesus, or Yeshua in His Hebrew name, returns to rule and reign from Mount Zion, He will gather whom He deems ‘Israel’ and consummate the ‘New Covenant’ at that time. Furthermore, He will fully dispense His Holy Spirit, whose sole job is to scribe the Torah in Israel’s hearts causing ‘Israel’ to want to obey revealing to us Torah as it was intended (Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:27; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-13, 10:14-18) .
Indeed, this week’s Torah portion provides much wisdom into past, present, and future redemption, relationship, and revelation.
In God, There’s Always More,
Carrie R. Turner, February 15, 2020
Since being on this peculiar path of sojourning to different lands, I’ve often said God may call you to do some ministry, or take some job, or marry that person, or move to an unknown land, or to buy a sailboat, or some other form of action in order to reveal and hopefully heal your heart. Living in a tiny studio, first on my own while my husband was still in Pennsylvania taught me I was putting too much trust or relying too heavily on my husband to meet my needs (i.e. financial, physical, etc.) rather than trusting in God to do so. During those few weeks of living in and remodeling that studio-sized beach condo, knowing not a soul, nor knowing what we would do for income in that foreign-to-me land, stretched my faith tremendously. I would not change that experience at all for I grew leaps and bounds in my love for Abba Father and life in general. Eventually, my husband and I were reunited and it was a learning curve adjusting from living in a 5 bedroom house back in Pennsylvania to a small-one room studio in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. But we did it and most of the time enjoyed it and each other. After all, if an argument ensued, it was easy to go for a nice long solo walk on the beach to get one’s head and heart in alignment again.
Similarly, and yet differently, about 18 months later, we felt led by the Lord to sell that condo and eventually, per His leading, we bought a tiny 30 foot sailboat here in Texas to live on together full-time. The boat, like the small studio, for the most part has been an enjoyable experience; however, all the little unknowns and insecurities of being rookie boat owners and learning to sail combined with BIG confident personalities of Texas, has formulated an atmosphere of revelation. Remember how I said God loves to use our circumstances to reveal things about ourselves that need healing? Well, it all is part of what I call the “horribly-amazing-purification-process”. There are some amazing aspects as well as horrible ones to this ongoing, life-long, purification process. Additionally, since being in Texas, it’s as if Abba has truly opened my eyes and senses to the spiritual realm and battles going on among us and within us. I look forward to and can only assume He is revealing such things so that they can eventually be healed. But before having us help reveal and heal others, it appears, the Lord is focused on revealing issues within our marriage and one another first, rightfully so. It’s as if the bandaid has been ripped off or glasses have been put on helping me see more clearly things perhaps I did not want to see or could not see. Not just with relationships with friends here in Texas, but with our marriage, and with relationships with family too. Honestly, it can be overwhelming.
Ultimately though, I realize the purpose in such revelations is to heal, but God’s Spirit can only heal us if we are willing to cooperate with what He is revealing. So even though I can easily point the finger at my husband or anyone else for that matter, three more are pointing back at me as I evaluate my heart, my role, and my responsibilities. There are many variables to each relationship, but ultimately, I in of myself cannot change anyone – all I can do is change myself with the guidance and direction of the Spirit of Holiness. His Spirit longs to purify, to clean our hearts by prompting questions for us to ponder such as: Am I enabling x,y,z? Do I have any form of x,y,z in me? How can I be the catalyst to change? How I can I best love and serve my husband, neighbors, and family now having my eyes open to x,y,z? What type of boundaries could I establish to not enable x,y,z or to protect myself, as well as demonstrate tough love or enforce my boundaries or what I believe? What do I do, God, if those boundaries are violated? What are the consequences if authentic repentance doesn’t manifest? Moreover, how do I not only establish healthy boundaries for myself, but enforce those boundaries while still being motivated by love and being mature enough to respond in love versus hurt or bitterness should my boundaries be violated?
One thing I can testify of is we all have relationships marred by some form of sinful dysfunction and we all could take the time to evaluate our own heart while comparing it to true love, God’s true love and His holiness. This is not to say we should become doormats, punching bags, or weak individuals who misuse Biblical concepts of forgiveness or turning the other cheek as an excuse to not set or enforce healthy boundaries. Rather, we look at God’s boundaries of love found throughout His written word and allow it to help us establish and enforce our own boundaries. For God’s boundaries teach us how to love Him and how to love others. God clearly outlines consequences to violating His boundaries as well as a means to reconciliation should authentic repentance and active willingness to try to be in relationship with Him manifest. But He also demonstrates enforcing His boundaries by cutting off those who refuse to respect His boundaries and those who refuse to repent. In doing so, He actually is respecting their choice – their boundaries. Most people lack the courage to actually tell you what they genuinely believe, what they feel, or what they think about you and your relationship to them, but they WILL show you in their day-to-day actions. You too have to have the courage to evaluate such sometimes difficult truth, believe it, and then respond appropriately as God does and will continue to do. Moreover, when God enforces His boundaries by cutting off those who repeatedly disrespect and ultimately reject Him, God is still demonstrating love because love is inviting, not demanding. God does not demand you love Him – He invites you to love Him because He loves you; God cannot force you to accept His invitation to be in relationship with Him; He cannot force you to obey and honor His terms of His covenant; God cannot force you to receive Him and all the many gifts and blessings He wants to offer you; Likewise, God cannot force you to respect Him; Rather, God, out of His respect and love for you as well as others, chooses to respect your boundaries while also respecting and enforcing His.
On this Valentine’s Day, a day reminding us of love, I invite you to evaluate true love or lack thereof within you and those around you as well as how you can demonstrate true love while acknowledging healthy boundaries and how tough love is a form of true love.
This is a unique call to examine repentance, holiness, and moreover, true love.
Have you ever asked God for a sign to know if you should do something or as a means to communicate a distinct direction in your life? I sure have! If you are familiar with my story, then you know in 2016, my husband and I believe the Lord called us to sell our home in Pennsylvania to follow Him wherever He says to go, to do whatever it is He says to do, and evidently, to learn and be transformed in the process. If you are like me, often times if I suspect God is calling me to do something, I will ask for a sign or Scripture to confirm I am hearing Him or interpreting what I think He may be saying correctly. Sure enough we got our sign, if not multiple signs, leading us on this peculiar, set-apart path.
It’s been nearly 4 years now since we’ve said our goodbyes to our historic, charming home. Since then we have lived in South Carolina in a tiny studio on the beach and now a tiny sailboat in Texas (Galveston Bay/ Houston area). Similar to how God’s Spirit led the Israelites to various places along their wilderness, He seems to be doing the same for us. While reading their story recently, I reflected on the similarities between their experiences with ours for we too had to learn to depend completely on God to provide and we had to listen closely while trusting and obeying Him as He told us what to do for income, where to go, and what to do, much like He did for the Israelites. Thankfully, it all has worked out marvelously, but it certainly has tested our faith in Him numerous times.
While reading about the Israelites journey through the wilderness, I couldn’t help but notice early on in their faith journey, God provided them His Spirit to guide them. Upon doing so, the first tangible lesson He revealed to them was the importance of resting on the 7th day of the week, the Sabbath, as He called it, for that is the day HE rests and He would not be working that day (Exodus 16). How funny to think perhaps God needs some PTO too (Personal Time Off)! According to that fascinating account in Exodus 16, God informed the Israelites to collect double the manna the day before Sabbath so they would have enough to get by on Sabbath (our Saturday) because He was not providing that day as He had all the other days. Likewise, since we moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the Lord opened my eyes to His Sabbath. For some reason in 2017, I decided to look up in my Bible every time it mentioned Sabbath to see what it was really about, when it was, and if it was important. I can only assume this was the Holy Spirit prompting me to do so because I do not recall any other factors to spark my curiosity.
It was when I read Isaiah 65-66 though that it hit me, like a “There’s Your Sign…Can You Hear Me Now?” kind of moment for it occurred to me if the Sabbath matters to Jesus AFTER He returns as those passages clearly state (in the Messianic Era), then that must mean it matters to Him now, before He returns as well (see Isaiah 66:22-24). Consequently, I continued to discover verses even in the New Testament revealing Jesus honored the Sabbath (Mark 1:21, 6:2; Luke 4:16-39, 13:10), it is a gift from God to mankind (Mark 2:27), and the Apostles as well as early believers all honored the 7th day Sabbath (Acts 13:14-15, 42-44; 15:21; 17:2-3; 18:4; Hebrews 4:9). Many will say the Sabbath is just for the Jews, but I discovered in the Book of Acts, believing Gentiles or foreigners also kept the 7th day Sabbath upon aligning themselves with Messiah and the One True God, not to mention Isaiah 56 praises the foreigner who honors God by keeping Sabbath even more so than God’s natural kids being the Jews (see Isaiah 56:5). Still, I researched why the modern church thinks the Sabbath is on a Sunday and discovered the horrifying reasons why some changed it to Sunday. All of which convicted me to start honoring God’s Sabbath on the 7th day as He instructed versus what man deemed the Sabbath and their anti-semitic motives in doing so.
Even prior to selling our Pennsylvanian home, the Lord led me to study the Book of Revelation and to compare it to the Book of Exodus. I studied these books and the similar patterns for months gleaning so much more than I anticipated. I could not help but notice how the Israelites were spared from all the plagues of Exodus and how the sealed saints in Revelation, presumably those who both believe in Jesus AND keep God’s commands (Rev.12:17, 14:12, 20:4), are spared from the plagues to come (Rev 7:3-4, 9:4). I realized during those months of intense studying that just as there is the “mark of the beast” (Rev.13; Daniel 8:23-26; 11:28,30-32), there is a mark of God, or a seal of God as it is said in Revelation 7:2-4. I also somehow came across an identical sentiment in Ezekiel 9 where God had the angel seal the forehead of those who kept His commands and were grieved over those who did not. Notice the saints who keep God’s commands are grieving for those who claim to believe and yet refuse to obey God and the judgment begins in the sanctuary of God, which corresponds with what the Apostle Peter warned (Ezekiel 9:4-10; 1 Peter 4:17). Similarly, the sign the LORD was looking for in the ultimate Exodus plague just prior to the Israelites’ redemption was the sign of the blood of the lamb being on the doorpost of the homes (Exodus 11:7, 12:12-13,23,28). Consequently, the angel (presumably, it was an angel acting out this judgment per God’s command like in Ezekiel and Revelation) knew not to inflict death on that home. Clearly, there are some interesting patterns and similarities transpiring amongst various passages in Scripture. Still, at that time, I had not been taught by the Lord the importance of Sabbath, but He certainly was setting the stage for His big reveal.
As mentioned earlier, after trusting and obeying Him, after being set free from a Pharaoh or culture of bondage or debt, being a mortgage and all the typical bills that come along with homeownership and needing to work around the clock to pay for such things, God’s Spirit revealed to us His provision and His rest, being Sabbath. Even so, after grasping this truth and wanting to cheerfully comply, actually practicing such things required me to take some seemingly scary risks like let go a few clients of mine (because at the time I cleaned beach condos in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina every Saturday in between vacationing guests). Talk about having faith..those Saturday clients were my biggest money-making days! True to who He is though, God provided other cleaning clients that made a way for where we are and what we clean today (mostly yacht clients and move-out turnover clients here in Texas). First, He exposed me to other realms of cleaning and then had us move all together to really embrace that set-apart, “clean” lifestyle of honoring Sabbath. The cleaning I do now for my cleaning business is intentionally on Monday through Friday to ensure I honor the Sabbath. The number 1 reason He had us move to Texas was to position us to still clean, still have plenty of free time to be in His Word and to serve others, but most importantly to ensure we could honor His Sabbath. After keeping Sabbath now for a few years, I still am learning more and more about such a critical day, but oh so blessed and glad I keep Sabbath for indeed it is a delightful gift from God!
During this most recent Sabbath, while randomly reading Isaiah 56, verses 7 to 8 jumped off the page to me with a deeper revelation that I never noticed before upon reading the same words. In a previous article, I penned about how contrary to what most of us Christians were taught, we aren’t actually “raptured” to heaven when Jesus returns, but rather Scripture reveals over and over again we are gathered more like a Second Exodus to Jerusalem also known as Mount Zion. You can read in great detail all the verses supporting that discovery here. So upon reading Isaiah 56:7-8, which says,
I realized the Sabbath is the sign or seal God looks for when He directs His angels to uproot the tares (the weeds) and simultaneously transplants the proverbial wheat to Jerusalem/Mount Zion to inherit the earth (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43; Psalm 37:7-31; Matthew 5:5; Revelation 5:10, 14:14-20). Notice, when Jesus goes on to decode the parable of the wheat and tares, He reveals both the tares and wheat are gathered, but what determines if they are a tare versus a wheat is if they fail to obey God’s law, His instructions, His Torah.
“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire..” (Matthew 13:41).
We also know, per 1 John 3:4, sin is defined as breaking God’s laws or being law-less or without God’s laws. Suddenly, all my studies came together. Oh, I get it, this is why Scripture reveals the Holy Spirit is a seal guaranteeing our redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14), and why it also says, the Spirit of Holiness aka Holy Spirit’s entire job is to cause us to obey God’s commands (Ezekiel 11:19-21, 36:27), and to do that which is holy (Romans 3:31, 7:12) such as the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:8, 31:14; Colossians 2:16; Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 1:10), why Revelation defines “saints” as those who both believe in Jesus AND keep God’s commands (Rev 12:17, 14:12, 20:4), why the Apostle Peter warns to not be deceived by people who twist the Apostle Paul’s words leading them to break Torah/God’s laws (2 Peter 3:14-18) and why the prophet Isaiah says the law will be sealed among God’s disciples (Isaiah 8:16), why Jesus said anyone who teaches God’s laws are considered great in His kingdom versus anyone who teaches God’s laws are done away with are least (Matthew 5:14-21), and why Jesus also says many will believe in Him, but few will keep His Father’s laws, His will for us, such as Sabbath (Matthew 7). Lastly, it is why various Scriptures says the Sabbath is the eternal sign of those who keep covenant which matches what Isaiah says in 56:7-8! There’s your sign!!
Moreover, it occured to me, if a day is a thousand years, according to 2 Peter 3:8, and there are 7 days of the week per God’s design (Genesis 1-2), and if the Jews understand we are presently in the 6th day on God’s prophetic timeline, then it is logical to believe the 7th day is the 1,000 Millennial Reign of Messiah, of Christ – it is His Day of Rest. In other words, if you fail to enter His rest now, by keeping Sabbath as a rehearsal to His ultimate Sabbath day rest, you can forget about entering in His Rest to come in the Millennium upon His return to rule and reign (Messianic Era)!
May His Spirit of Holiness guide you into such epic truth as He did for the prophets, myself, and so many others! God’s Spirit is opening eyes and circumcising hearts like never before causing a pandemic of infectious transforming truth to globally spread all over for His glory!
May we not be like the rebellious, who stiffen our necks and harden our hearts to the ways of God for our heart’s response to His documented voice reveals if we indeed are circumcised of the heart and led by His Spirit of Holiness causing us to want to obey and consequently, enter His rest.
For further reflection, please meditate on Ezekiel 20, Exodus 16, Psalm 95, and Hebrews 3-4. I also invite you to read this post connecting these passages. Have a great week and a delightful Sabbath as you rest in His truth!
Teaches and Does,
Carrie R. Turner, Feb 8-9, 2020
In this week’s Torah lesson found in Exodus 13:17-17:16, we find Moses and the Israelites have been “sent away” or been set free from their bondage in order to purge from them the ways of Egypt while learning the ways of God.
Upon the Egyptians being swallowed up by the crashing waves of the Red Sea after the Israelites crossed over, Scripture reveals the LORD wanted the remaining Egyptians to know Who is the One True Living God (Exodus 14:18) while those who already know of Him, being the Israelites, would know to fear Him, to obey Him (Exodus 14:31). There is a difference in knowing who is LORD and personally knowing Him. There is a difference in believing IN God and believing Him. How is belief demonstrated? The Book of James, chapter 2, verses 19-20 tell us even the demons believe in God or know Who He is, but demons refuse to obey Him (James 2:19-20). Likewise, the Apostle James writes, full of the Spirit of Holiness, “faith without works is dead”, which is the same as saying a body without spirit or breath in it is dead (James 2:26). Many are “believers”, but few are “disciples”.
One’s trust in Messiah or God is demonstrated by obedience. In other words, authentic faith always produces good works, fruit. Jesus, or Yeshua, in His original Hebrew name, said, “You will know them (who are His disciples verses who are false disciples/prophets) by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:20). He goes on to say, many will acknowledge or believe He is Lord, but what truly reveals if their hearts are circumcised is if they do the will of His Father (Matthew 7:21). Jesus clarifies just two verses later, those who believe, but disobey His Father’s law, which is His Voice, are disregarded (Matthew 7:23). This also aligns with what the Apostle Paul teaches regarding the Father’s will is found in His law (Romans 2:18; 12:2).
Upon releasing the Israelites from their captivity or bondage to the Egyptians, or put another way, their bondage to sin, God gives them His Holy Spirit to guide them through the wilderness (Exodus 14:19-20; Isaiah 63:11-14). Consequently, upon believing in God and following His Spirit, the Israelites cannot help but to worship as we see demonstrated by Moses and Miriam rejoicing in song and praise. But the LORD reveals to them, He is not simply interested in hearing their songs or seeing them dance before Him, He is interested in hearts full of a daily lifestyle of worship so He continues to lead them and teach them His Heart, His ways.
In Exodus 15, starting in verse 22, after coming across bitter or sickly waters, the people complain or lift up their voices to Moses, a savior-like person representing God, who in turn mediates to God looking for guidance on how to meet the people’s need. The LORD instructs Moses on what to do and the waters are healed. God explains in Exodus 15:26, if His people diligently (not just on occasion when it is convenient for them) listen and obey His Voice by obeying His commandments and keeping them, He will heal them. God just demonstrated He not only can save them, He not only can pour out His mercy and grace by delivering them, as well as provide them His Spirit to guide them, but He can heal them as well; however, they need to trust and obey Him in order to reap such blessings.
Today, we see God still has not changed (Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 55:11; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17). He first reveals to us Who He Is, the One True Living God, then delivers us from the captivity or bondage of our sin using His Son, Jesus/Yeshua, provides to us His Spirit to guide us, and then gives us His law, His commandments in order to benefit us and fulfill His will in us.
As we continue to read the Torah portion in Exodus 16, we see the people now are complaining of hunger. So once again, they cry out to their savior, Moses, and Moses mediates unto the LORD God. God in turn provides specific instructions to gather the food He provides in the amount they need for just that day, but on the sixth day to gather double the amount of what they need, because on the seventh day it is His Sabbath rest and there will be no provision that day (Exodus 16:22-30). Essentially, God is demonstrating to them they need to rest that day because He rests that day, which corresponds with exactly what God did upon creating the world (Genesis 2:2-3). This incident in the wilderness of God providing for their needs is both instructing and demonstrating Himself the significant commandment of keeping Sabbath, which later is recorded in the Top 10 (Exodus 20:8-11). The people keep the Sabbath and do their “grocery shopping” of collecting manna the day before on the 6th day, or put in modern terms, on Friday so they can rest on Shabbat, Sabbath, Saturday.
Exodus 16 is really the first full-teaching of entering God’s Sabbath rest. Interestingly enough, right after this critical truth is revealed to His people, they once again thirst and complain. Consequently, the place where their flesh manifests is called “Massah”, which means “testing”, an “Meribah”, which means “quarreling”. Essentially, the people’s flesh are testing God by quarreling with Him. The Apostle Paul explains our flesh rejects the ways of God, the law of God (Romans 8:7-10). How do you respond to God’s Spirit telling you to obey God’s law? For in how we react to His Voice or His commands reveals the condition of our hearts – is your heart quarrelsome and diseased? Do you want to be healed?
The author of Hebrews 3:7-4:13 both explains and quotes Psalm 95:8-11 describing this incident in Massah and Meribah where the people’s flesh tested and quarreled with God’s law prevented them from entering His rest. You see we may believe in God and even personally experience His grace, His provision, etc, but if we refuse to obey Him, it reveals our lack of trust. As the Apostle James explained, to believe is to obey.
Speaking is not believing and seeing is not believing, but rather surrendered obedience is believing.
In my own faith journey, I can relate to all these stages of development. First I was introduced to Him, then baptized as a young girl I crossed over, set free from my sin, eventually I received His Holy Spirit, and was re-baptized as an adult because even though I could remember the moment I believed in Him, I could not remember being baptized (only via pictures). Just prior to being baptized in His Spirit and water, He delivered me from my sin and consequent captivity or consequences of my sin when He literally saved me from my very own Pharoah, as I found myself in a toxic and dangerously lethal marriage. Afterwards, I was like Moses and Miriam, prophetic worship leaders, utterly grateful for delivering me from Egypt! Later in 2016, He invited me to let it all go and follow Him through a type of wilderness. While sojourning from place to place, from Pennsylvania to South Carolina to now Texas, He revealed to me the healing beauty and wonder of His written Voice, His law, His Sabbath and other critical truths, which I now cheerfully and willingly obey – not in order to be saved, but BECAUSE He saved me, I want to trust and obey. Consequently, I have grown in my intimacy with Him, love God more than ever, and want to serve Him, to worship Him by being set-apart as His Spirit of Holiness leads.
Where are you at in this “horribly-amazing-purification-process”? As you ponder your relationship with God, are you simply a “believer” or are you a cheerful “disciple” willing to follow Him wherever He leads and by doing whatever He said to do? As you examine your heart and just how circumcised it is this day, I invite you to read Isaiah 8:16.
Carrie R Turner, February 7, 2020
As I read this week’s Torah portion, I couldn’t help but ponder how God uses people, places, and circumstances to make Himself known. Thus far, we’ve seen how God used Joseph to bless Egypt, his family, the remaining Israelite families, as well as the surrounding nations when he wisely and accurately interpreted Pharaoh’s peculiar dreams regarding an upcoming famine. Through those harrowing, but victorious circumstances, God did many wondrous things, but through it all, He primarily made His awesomeness known.
In between the pages of Exodus, we see God repeating similar patterns as He longs to make Himself known not just to His people of Israel, but to the surrounding nations as well. Instead of blessing Egypt though as He did in Joseph’s day, He is using Moses and Aaron, to curse Egypt. The curses though are simply a result of Pharaoh’s rebellion upon God demanding Pharaoh let the Israelites go free from captivity. Each time a curse, also known as a plague, encamps the Egyptians as a result of their leader’s poor choices, Pharaoh repents, Moses intercedes on Pharaoh’s behalf, and God graciously forgives and therefore, rescinds the curse. This wrestling match of good versus evil has many rounds. Fascinatingly enough, God Himself is creating this match as Scripture reveals GOD hardens Pharaoh’s heart over and over again (Exodus 7:22-23; 8:15,19,32; 9:7,12,35; 10:20,27). But why?
In order to contemplate and understand further as to why God is creating these precarious circumstances between the oppressive leader of Egypt and His people, Exodus 11:9 provides a clue.
“But the LORD said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh will not heed you, so that My wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.’ ” Exodus 11:9 (NKJV)
Similarly, when we study other areas of Scripture, we see the same pattern manifest for prophecy is cyclical relating to many different eras and many different souls. When adversity attacked Job and his household, which we can read about in the Book of Job, we see God was in control and ordained it all so that Job could be tested, Satan could be defeated, and God’s justice be known. For in the end, Job was blessed far more when it was all said in done. When the Southern Kingdom of Judah was taken captive by the Babylonians, Scripture reveals yet again, God was orchestrating it all by using the King of Babylon being Nebuchadnezzar and later King Cyrus of Persia (Jeremiah 27:6, 43:10; Isaiah 44:28, 45:1) to make His holiness and justice known to primarily His people of Israel, but also those around them (Jeremiah 29-31, 32:37-42; Ezra 1:1-2:1).
Likewise, prophecy reveals in the last days, another Pharaoh or Nebuchadnezzar type of leader will arise taking God’s people captive once again while killing too many to count (Daniel 7-12; Matthew 24:21-22; 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12; Revelation 12:13-13:18,17:17). But like all the incidents before, upon rescuing and resurrecting His people in those final days, Scripture tells us God allowed it to hallow Himself before His people and the nations (Ezekiel 36:23,32-38; 38:16).
“Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples!” Psalm 105:1 (NKJV)
Today, as you take inventory of your own personal circumstances, I invite you to reflect on how could God being using your circumstances to make Himself known to you and those around you.
Carrie R. Turner, January 31, 2020
In this week’s Torah portion we see the first few words are “va’era” in Hebrew, which means “and I appeared”. When God appears to Moses commissioning him to be the vessel God wants to use to rescue the children of Israel from relentless cruel bondage, Moses eventually summons all courage to do the task at hand. Just as Moses gets over his fears and musters the strength to actually confront Pharaoh, the Israelites help realize Moses’ concerns and biggest fears by failing to believe in Moses being used by God to deliver them from Pharaoh (Exodus 6:9). Poor Moses can’t catch a break! Consequently, the Israelites’ lack of faith messes with Moses’ head and he goes back to God saying if these oppressed children of Israel don’t even believe You sent me, surely Pharaoh will not listen either (Exodus 6:12). Regardless of the Israelites or Moses’ floundering faith, God speaks – once again repeating His instructions. Not too much later, Moses yet again lacks the faith to courageously confront Pharaoh as God expected of him so he returns to God perhaps hoping He would have chosen someone else to do the job (Exodus 6:30). This time, however, God provides more details to Moses and a partner to help him accomplish this daunting responsibility (Exodus 7:1-5). As history goes, Moses and Aaron confront Pharaoh numerous times and each time, Pharaoh refuses to heed the voice of the LORD coming through His brave servants, Moses and Aaron. Now that God specifically outlined what would manifest as well as instructed Moses and Aaron to work together to convey God’s message to Pharaoh, or put another way, to work together to accomplish God’s will, Moses’ perspective changed. No longer was Moses fearful and insecure in who he was, in who God made him to be, and who God was, but now, armed with more information and an accountability partner, Moses and Aaron chose to respond in obedient faith instead of reluctant submission (Exodus 7:6). As history goes, Pharaoh indeed did not heed the LORD’s voice numerous times causing God to bring judgment on the people of Egypt while the Israelites were repeatedly uneffected. Instead of being fearful or reluctant to participate in God’s plan though, Moses and Aaron developed a pattern of immediately responding in obedience to God’s Voice. As you probably know, God’s will was eventually fulfilled and the children of Israel were delivered from their captors.
I know when I started to hear God’s Voice giving me instructions on what to do or say in various church services to His people or in various settings whether it be on the beach, at a gas station, or even a bar, I was in the beginning reluctant and doubtful, but the more I responded in obedience, the more I could see fruit or what He whispered deep within me actually manifest and bless His people.
Perhaps the scariest and most uncomfortable experience I encountered was while sitting in an evening church service, us congregants were corporately worshipping, and the atmosphere transitioned to just one man, who stood up near the back of the sanctuary solely speaking in tongues. A hush came over the congregation while the man spoke in this supernatural language. To my surprise and utter horror, I could somehow understand internally what this man was saying. At the time, I had never spoken in tongues and yet was sitting there mystified that somehow I could understand what was being said. Nevertheless, due to my fear, I did not stand up to interpret as Scripture teaches (1 Corinthians 14). Honestly, speaking in tongues and being able to interpret, as well as many other gifts provided by God were all so new to me. In fact, in my conservative Baptist background, I was essentially taught such manifestations ceased to exist and no longer happen today. Imagine my surprise when I discovered not only was that a fallacy, but I personally experienced such gifts!
The next evening, I attended a Bible Study I had been participating in weekly. In that intimate group setting I confessed what I heard and my failure to speak the interpretation as no one else interpreted and so the church was not blessed by the word given through the man. My fellow friends in the Bible Study encouraged me to not fear in the event something like that occurs again. The following Sunday, the same man who spoke in tongues the previous Sunday, was preaching at the evening service, to my surprise. I was utterly shocked by the message he presented as it was the same message he spoke in tongues a week prior unbeknownst to him and others. After he was finished preaching, I felt the Holy Spirit instruct me to now stand up and confirm the message the LORD was speaking through this man, not once, but twice. So like Moses, I mustered up all the courage I possibly could and stood up in front of the church to confess my fearful failure last week while confirming this important message from God – so important God spoke it not once, but twice. Consequently, it impacted the man, our Pastor, and the entire congregation. In addition to learning to have faith, I also learned God can use it all – even our fearful failures to fulfill His will.
Too many peculiar promptings have manifested over the years in my life to ignore or coware down in doubt or fear. Each time I acknowledge what the LORD is saying or instructing me to do or say, I choose to respond in obedience. In doing so, I marvel at how God blesses and delivers His people still today through willing vessels like you and me.
I encourage you, dear reader, that upon God “appearing” to you (and you know it does not contradict His written voice/instructions for life), that you get over your doubts, fears, and insecurities, but rather bravely participate in God’s will for you and those around you. Like Moses, you might just be setting captives free.
Carrie Renee Turner 1/23/2020
Shabbat Shalom, friends! I trust you are having a relaxing and delightful Sabbath. After a busy week of cleaning yachts here in Kemah, Texas, I am delighted for it to be Sabbath!
What’s In A Name?
In this week’s Torah portion, we start a new book: Exodus and are studying Exodus 1:1-6:1. As always, much could be discussed in this Torah portion, but today I want to focus on clarity and courage, something Abba has been personally teaching me in everyday life. Inevitably, life will present many precarious scenarios that we will need clarification on and then much courage to pursue whatever it is we needed help discerning. Moreover, what does our names and more importantly God’s Name have to do with clarification and courage?
Early on in the Book of Exodus, we see two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who ancient Jewish sages have speculated may actually be the names of Moses’ mother and sister, but we don’t know for certain. Since the assigned title of this week’s Torah portion is “Shemot”, which means “names” in Hebrew, it may be worth mentioning the potential meaning of Shiphrah as “beauty, harmony” and “Puah”, means something similar “splendid, radiant”. Both these ladies were commissioned to kill the Hebrew baby boys at birth, but instead these women bravely saved them. Consequently, the Lord viewed their obedience as beautiful, in harmony with His will, and splendid so He blessed them accordingly (Exodus 1:20-21). In order to have that amount of courage, Shiphrah and Puah must have had much clarity and motivation for rebelling against Pharaoh by saving the Hebrew babies. Some historians have said this was the first act of recorded civil disobedience.
One such Hebrew baby Shiphrah and Puah saved was Moses, who was named by Pharaoh’s daughter upon finding him in a tiny ark at the banks of the river. She named him “Moses” because it means “pulled out of the water” or “drew out” or “delivered out of the water”. Fascinatingly enough, Moses’ entrance into Pharaoh’s realm was the same as his exodus being delivered by water. After all, we know in later chapters of Exodus, Moses and all those who followed him, were indeed delivered out of the water many years later in the crossing the Red Sea incident. Through it all, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob not only reveals Himself to Moses, but He shares His Name, and gave Moses clarification on how God wants to use him to save not just Hebrew babies, but all the Hebrews dwelling in Egypt at that time. Unlike Shiphrah and Puah though, Moses is not willing to challenge Pharaoh. He often attempts to persuade God he is not the guy for the job. However, God specializes in selecting unlikely candidates to fulfill God’s “to-do-list”. God’s plan was to use a man named “delivered out of water” to deliver His people through water.
Names are significant and can be prophetic. For example, when living in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a couple of years ago, I was on a God “to-do-list” assignment looking for a specific individual, at a specific event (Carolina Country Music Fest), to give a specific word. In the process of waiting for that divine encounter, Jerry, my husband, and I met a man name Luke meandering outside a bar listening to the country music being blasted from a stage nearby. While Jerry was being his typical jovial self, my eyes continually scanned the crowd looking for the gal I was supposed to find and give a word to. But while my eyes were scanning the people around us, my ears were surprisingly tuning into a word for Luke. The Holy Spirit was reminding me of Luke in the Bible, who was a doctor by profession and clearly an author or writer (to have written that book of the Gospel). I sensed the Spirit wanted me to encourage the Luke in my presence to write the book he’s been afraid to write for it will heal people. So despite the loud music and drunken obnoxious people partying in our midst, I said what I was implored to say to dear Luke. Upon saying such things, Luke began to tear up wondering how I knew that he had been fearful about writing his idea for an book. All of which allowed for me to share with him (while Jerry was there) the love God has for Luke and God’s plan for him. All Luke needed was divine clarification and courage. I guess God could check that one off His list that night.
Similarly, all Moses needed was clarification and courage even after he stepped out of his comfort zone and attempted to confront Pharaoh. In Exodus 5:22-23, Moses goes back to God to essentially say, “Yeah, this crazy assignment of Yours isn’t looking the way I think it should, so why are we doing this again?” Sound familiar? I confess I have had similar rebuttals with God. And yet, God reminds Moses of His plan of making His Name known to the Hebrews in it all (Exodus 6:3). Why is it important to know God’s identity, His Name? Because as His people, we are called to bear God’s Name as His representatives bringing heaven to earth. How do we bear God’s Name? By obeying Him. So whether you are instructed to save Hebrew babies or lead people out of captivity or simply compelled to rest on the Sabbath, you are bearing God’s Name to a confused, lost world. By obeying God in His written instructions and personal specific instructions for your life, you are bringing others into clarification and courage as well as being delivered in the process.
Could your name be a prophetic clue as to how you can best share God’s Name here and now? Does your new name given after overcoming this world reflect how well you beared God’s Name over your lifetime or represent how you will serve Him in the world to come (Revelation 3:17)? In other words, is your name giving His Name shame or does it represent His latter rain? Something to pray about and ponder this Shabbat.