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.
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.
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!
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.
With the passing of the holidays, many are packing up ornaments, carefully wrapping nativity scenes, and tossing out the dried up Christmas tree. This particular Christmas Hanukkah season I was struck with a call to worship the way our Abba Father wants to be worshipped, to be the light, and to cleanse our temples. The above graphic shared on a public Christian Facebook page compelled me to comment, which sparked many positive feedback as well as some seemingly foaming at the mouth. Truth changes the atmosphere as should our set-apart lifestyles.
Like preaching holiness while sharing the stage with a pagan Christmas tree or other pagan traditions re-marketed as all about Jesus. The Israelites did the same thing starting with the Golden Calf incident (Exodus 32) celebrating saying Yahweh was the reason for the season. Numerous passages throughout Scripture specifically tells us not to adopt the ways of culture/pagans/those who do not believe in the One True Living God (Deu 12; Jer 10; 2 Cor 6:14+; Eph 4:17+ are a few examples). May we test everything and be courageous enough to actually be set-apart, holy as led by the Spirit of Holiness (Holy Spirit). 💝📖🙏”
In response to those genuinely wanting to know more in addition to those whose Christmas traditions were challenged, I invited readers to re-examine traditions, worship, and lifestyles. I invite you, dear reader, to do the same. Blessings! 💝
Truth is absolute and therefore, cannot change otherwise it was never truth to begin with.
The original graphic above poignantly speaks to so-called truth ever-changing with the times and so-called worshipers adapting to accommodate culture. Truth is absolute and therefore, cannot change otherwise it was never truth to begin with.
For those interested in worshipping The One True Living God, do we get to define what worship is? Do we tell Him how He wants to be worshipped? Or does God, the LORD of Lords, King of Kings dictate how He wants to be worshipped, how He defines love, and how He wants to be loved? Is He looking for worshippers of an unholy spirit and error? Or is He wanting worshippers of His Spirit and His Truth (John 4:23-24)? How culture defines “truth”, “worship”, “holiness”, etc. is irrelevant.
With that said, where is God’s truth, worship, holiness, etc. defined? In His Holy Word inspired by His Spirit of Holiness, correct? 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
Does His Word talk about traditions, holidays, the birth of Christ, pagan customs? You bet!
I invite those authentically interested in being worshippers of His spirit and His truth, to examine their lifestyle, habits, traditions compared to what He says about the topics being presented. Before proceeding though, understand that I view this platform as teaching opportunity..an opportunity for each of us to be more matured in His love, His truth, His holiness so that we may bear His fruit and bear His Name as best as we can empowered to do so by the gift of His Spirit of Holiness dwelling within.
Let’s explore God’s Word, the source of truth. (This is by no means an exhaustive list of Scripture, but a few to seek Him on.)
1) Are traditions evil or not to be practiced just because it is not commanded? Not neccessarily. Hanukkah, also known as the Feast of Dedication, is a tradition not a commandment that Jesus evidently celebrated in the temple or at the very least did not rebuke (John 10:22-30). Surely if that tradition was offensive to God, He would have made it known (i.e. flipping tables). Rather, He used it as a teaching moment to reveal He is God and the Messiah. So, no, not all traditions are evil by default and they can be used to share God’s truth. Are we commanded to celebrate Hanukkah? No. Are we commanded to celebrate the birth of Christ? No. However, His word also says “Whatever is true, excellent, praise worthy, etc., to think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8). Is it a fact and praise worthy event that Jesus was born and the Messiah or that Judah Maccabees and his disciples persevered in honoring God’s commands despite the culture, overcame persecution, and reconquered and restored worship the way God defines it? Yes and yes! Those things are true, praise worthy, etc. So it would be acceptable to think about or celebrate such things.
2) Can we use traditions or other aspects of our lives to share God’s truth? Sure! We covered that above as Jesus used Hanukkah, physical objects, parables, etc. to convey truth.
3) Is it OK to mimic pagan practices, culture, or unbelievers and re-package it as a good thing..as redeemed…as holy…as worship…as truth as something of, from, or about Him? NO. God says over and over again to avoid any appearance of evil (1Thes 5:22), to not learn the ways of pagans/adopt their culture (Romans 12:2; Eph 4; Jer 10:2- Also, the Prophet Jeremiah specifically rebukes cutting a tree, bringing it in one’s home, and decorating it as the pagans do in Jer 10) and worship/celebrate Him that way even if you re-name or market it as having to do with Him(Deut 12:30-32; Exodus 32- the Israelites copied the pagans form of worship by putting up a decorated calf and celebrated it saying it was Him and all about Him..they made a feast/holiday of it), to not have anything to do with things that violate His Torah/commands/instructions/Word/lawlessness (2 Cor 6:14-7:1) and to not associate with anyone who claims to know Him and yet does not obey His word (1 Cor.5).
Please thoroughly investigate how you are celebrating/honoring/worshipping the Lord and His life for the practices of Christmas are undeniably pagan since atleast 500 BC repackaged in order to sell/promote Jesus. In theory, the customs in of themselves could have been OK had the pagan customs celebrating the birth of the sun god on Dec 25 the original winter solstice, human sacrifices being decorated on trees, gift giving to celebrate the sun god, partying orgies, lawlessness etc not been established first leading up to or surrounding that day. The church took the same exact custom practices and attempted to wrap it in Jesus’ Name to spread Christianity (in reality to spread their power and control). Another person attached (see link below) a thorough, non-biased, factual investigation about the history of Christmas. Please do watch it. I learned some things as well.
4) Is it wrong to put a tradition or doctrine above or instead of obeying what God says in His Word? Yes. Jesus rebuked religious leaders for putting more emphasis on their tradition than God’s commands (Mark 7). Are you celebrating traditions like Christmas, Hanukkah, 4th of July, etc, but not God’s commanded holidays like Passover/Unleavened Bread (John 22) or His other feasts (Lev 23)?
I say again, dear brothers and sisters, may we have the courage to examine our traditions, forms of worship, and lifestyle in accordance to God’s word and cheerfully be willing to submit to God’s Spirit of Holiness as He longs to teach us God’s truth, holiness, and the worship He longs for! Ultimately, we each must answer for ourselves (Rom 14:10-12), but love as defined by Him speaks truth, especially to those who claim to follow Him.🙏🙏🙏
Better late than never! I have been battling a pesky and inconvenient sinus infection all week so I apologize for the delayed ‘Seabbatical’, which I normally publish on YouTube on Friday evenings. Due to my illness, I recorded it, edited it, and published it today, Saturday. Nevertheless, I hope it blesses you richly. This recording is themes and lessons I gleaned from this week’s Torah portion (Genesis 25:19-28:9 | Malachi 1:1-2:7).
Our #California brothers and sisters should ‘get ready to love’ one another (even more). Likewise, we are preparing to go #serve as well should another large #earthquake manifest like we think it will in the near future. Please share this video with friends and family you may have in CA.