Seabbatical | Mishpatim

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.

The History of the Torah and Haftarah Bible Portions

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!

Carrie Turner

Seabbatical | Yitro

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

Seabbatical | Beshalach

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.

Shabbat Shalom,

Carrie R Turner, February 7, 2020

#teachesanddoes

Seabbatical | Bo

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.

Shabbat Shalom.

Carrie R. Turner, January 31, 2020

Seabbatical | Va'era

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.

Shabbat Shalom,

Carrie Renee Turner 1/23/2020

Seabbatical | Shemot

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.

Seabbatical: Vayechi

This week’s Torah and Haftarah portions, Vayechi, reminds me of the proverb, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 18:21 (NKJV).

The title of this week’s Torah portion is “Vayechi”, which in Hebrew means “and he lived”. If you have followed along my YouTube ‘Seabbatical’ Bible Studies or are familiar with weekly Torah portions in general, then you know the title of that week’s passage comes from the first few words of the first verse in the listed passage. For example, Genesis 47:28 is the first verse of this week’s Torah portion and the first few words read “then Jacob (he) lived”.

The last few weeks we have followed the life of Joseph, the favored son/hated brother, who was a victim of human trafficking, ended up in prison due to the betrayal of his brothers, and yet eventually thanks to his spiritual gifts of dream interpretation became a high official of Egypt, who saved not just Egypt, but his brothers, father, and extended family from starvation all the while trusting God and forgiving his treacherous brothers. Ironically, despite being titled, “and he lived”, this week’s portion highlights the death of both Jacob, also known as Israel, Joseph’s father as well as Joseph starting in Genesis 47:28.

However, before Jacob, father of the twelve tribes of Israel, dies he blesses not only his own twelve sons, but Jacob also blesses and adopts Joseph’s two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 48). Much could be said about this prophetic significance, but for now, I believe the Holy Spirit is having me focus this particular Seabbatical on being mindful of our words as we address others, particularly our families/spouses…

As Jacob continues to give his final words just prior to his death, he “blesses” some of his sons, but much of his blessings seem more like curses or perhaps accurate prophecies. For example, when addressing his eldest son, Reuben, Jacob says, “unstable as water, you shall not excel, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it…”(Genesis 49:3-4). Jacob is referring to the incident when Reuben foolishly slept with one of Jacob’s wives, Reuben’s half-brother’s mother or like a step-mom figure (Genesis 35:22). Gross! Similarly, Jacob speaks more like a curse or rebuke over Simeon and Levi (Genesis 49:5-7) whereas he prophecizes the Lawgiver/Messiah will come from Judah’s lineage. Jacob hints the Messiah will first manifest like a young cub and then later as a mighty lion (Genesis 49:8-12). Interestingly enough, Jacob also prophecizes Dan will be like a judge and venomous snake that bites and causes harm. Jacob says immediately following as a part of Dan’s prophecy, “I have waited for your salvation, O LORD!”. It would seem Jacob could be hinting the Anti-Messiah/Anti-Christ may come from Dan’s lineage, which could also be why in Revelation 7, the tribe of Dan is not mentioned as part of the Israelite tribes sealed with God’s name on their forehead towards the very end. Moreover, Judah and Joseph have the most lengthy blessings and positive prophetic words of all the sons.

Likewise, in the Haftarah portion found in 1 Kings 2:1-12, we see King David blessing his son, Solomon, and providing him instructions namely to be careful to keep God’s instructions, His laws, commandments, etc. so that he will not only prosper, but that prophetic promises may be fulfilled through their lineage.

On a personal note, this passage of 1 Kings 2:3-4 is yet another “2-3-4” confirming the meaning of the numbers 234 I have been seeing frequently especially upon moving to Texas. In last week’s Seabbatical (posted on Flip Flop Fellowship’s YouTube channel), the Lord revealed to me the meaning of all the 234’s I have been seeing. Again this week, it’s as if Abba Father is reinforcing to me how important it is to make disciples, to be fruitful, to produce and instruct future generations in the results, the blessings of being obedient, being holy, to live it out, etc. Moreover, He seems to be encouraging me to continue to do and teach others to obey God’s instructions for life, His laws, His commands, etc. just as Jesus/Yeshua said in Matthew 5:18-19,after all, heaven and earth are still here as are God’s instructions for life.

With all that said, I am reminded in this week’s Torah portion our words (and actions) matter to God and how critical it is we take the time to bless and instruct our children, our spouses, our families, as well as others in the ways of God- primarily, by living it ourselves first. Perhaps in doing so, by doing and teaching the ways of God, we will have experienced the “abundant life” Jesus spoke of in John 10:10. After all, is not much of John 10 about hearing and following His voice? Is not the written word, specifically God’s commands, His documented voice (Deut 28:1;30:2)? Perhaps we aren’t really living life to the fullest until we surrender to the instructions, all of them, found in Scriptures. Upon doing so, perhaps angels will record what we are teaching and doing summarizing our obedience to His Voice similar to the beginning words of this Torah portion “then (s)he lived”. May we think before speak pondering carefully God’s instructions as we respond to and instruct others to also ponder and obey Abba’s instructions for life.