Torah Portion: Deut 21:10-25:19 August 6, 2014
Haftarah: Isaiah 54:10 (suggest beginning at 52:13)
New Testament: Mark 10:2-12, Luke 15: 11-20:27-38
Last week’s parsha was Shoftim, or “Judges.” This week Abba’s instructions to the judges continues. One of the laws most often brought up by people who claim the Torah has been done away with or nailed to the cross is in this week’s lesson, the law of the rebellious son.
“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear. Deuteronomy 21:18-21
The sages determined that by use of the word “son” the torah must necessarily refer to a male under the age of 13. Otherwise, they reasoned, the offender would be described as a “man” rather than a “son,” due to Jewish custom of bar mitzvah at age 13, at which time a youth is declared a man. Both mother and father had to come before a committee of three judges and together declare their son to be rebellious, disobedient, a glutton, and a drunkard. Before the judges would seriously consider such charges, the family was to be questioned to determine whether the parents had been diligent to teach their son the instructions of God. In other words, the rebellion of the child was first laid at the feet of the parents. Paul echoes this in his exhortation to Timothy that deacons and leaders of congregations must be “blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruliness.”
If convicted of his rebellion, the son was to be flogged in front of the judges and given a severe warning that unless he changed his ways he was in danger of being put to death. Should the son be brought to court again, he would re-appear before a panel of 23 judges which included the original three. In all of scripture and in all of the Talmudic writings, there is no record of the parents of any child “taking him” before the judges. The Talmud declares, in fact, “The case of the wayward and rebellious child [being executed] never was and never will be.” (B.T. Sanhedrin 71a). Therefore, we can surmise that the purpose of this law is that of a warning to parents and children alike that the end of rebellion is destruction. Let’s review a few of Abba’s instructions concerning children:
Exodus 20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
Colossians 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
Leviticus 20:9 For anyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death; he has cursed his father or his mother; his blood is upon him.
Proverbs 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.
Proverbs 13:24 Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
“Anyone who hears and obeys these teachings of mine is like a wise person who built a house on solid rock. Rain poured down, rivers flooded, and winds beat against that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on solid rock. Anyone who hears my teachings and doesn’t obey them is like a foolish person who built a house on sand. The rain poured down, the rivers flooded, and the winds blew and beat against that house. Finally, it fell with a crash.” Mat. 7:24-27
In contrast to the rebellious son, let us consider the man whom God calls “a man after My own heart.”
And when He had removed [Saul], He raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also He gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after Mine own heart, which shall fulfill all My will (Acts 13:22 KJV).
David, in sharp contrast to his predecessor Saul, was intimately acquainted with God and with His written Word. The Torah was David’s only Bible. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the other prophets were born centuries later. The Psalms David penned demonstrated his adoration of God’s Holy Torah. Here is a sampling from Psalm 119:
Thy law [Torah] is the truth… all Thy commandments are truth. Concerning Thy testimonies, I have known of old that Thou hast founded them forever (142). I will delight myself in Thy statutes: I will not forget Thy word (vs. 16). Thy testimonies [stories of the patriarchs] also are my delight and my counselors (24). I have chosen the way of truth: Thy judgments [rulings, decisions] have I laid before me (30). Make me to go in the path of Thy commandments; for therein do I delight (35). Thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me. I have more understanding than all my teachers: for Thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep Thy precepts. I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep Thy word. I have not departed from Thy judgments…How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. I have sworn, and I will perform it, that I will keep Thy righteous judgments (98-106).
Now, David was most certainly not without sin. Not only did he commit adultery with the wife of one of his loyal soldiers, Uriah, he plotted to hide the sin by arranging Uriah’s death on the battlefield. For this heinous crime, he was greatly punished; but, take note that even though the Torah plainly dictates “life for life” for premeditated murder, God did not kill David. Instead, God sent a prophet to convict David of his sin (see 2 Samuel 12:1 ff) and David’s tender heart was rent. He agreed with the prophet and with God. His prayer of repentance reveals David’s intimate knowledge of God’s heart:
Have pity on me, O God, in your mercy; out of a full heart, take away my sin. Let all my wrongdoing be washed away, and make me clean from evil. For I am conscious of my error; my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I done wrong, working that which is evil in your eyes; so that your words may be seen to be right, and you may be clear when you are judging. Truly, I was formed in evil, and in sin did my mother give me birth. Your desire is for what is true in the inner parts: in the secrets of my soul you will give me knowledge of wisdom. Make me free from sin with hyssop: let me be washed whiter than snow. Make me full of joy and rapture; so that the bones which have been broken may be glad. Let your face be turned from my wrongdoing, and take away all my sins. Make a clean heart in me, O God; give me a right spirit again. Do not put me away from before you, or take your holy spirit from me. Give me back the joy of your salvation; let a free spirit be my support. Then will I make your ways clear to wrongdoers; and sinners will be turned to you. Be my saviour from violent death, O God, the God of my salvation; and my tongue will give praise to your righteousness. O Lord, let my lips be open, so that my mouth may make clear your praise. You have no desire for an offering or I would give it; you have no delight in burned offerings. The offerings of God are a broken spirit; a broken and sorrowing heart, O God, you will not put from you. (from Psalm 51)
Just as Yeshua promised His disciples, the Holy Spirit led David into this truth. Torah is instruction in both justice and mercy. Therefore, David knew God’s desire is to teach and restore mankind. David knew that God never delighted in the blood of bulls and goats or the death of sinners. David discerned that the goal of Torah is repentance (teshuva) and renewed fellowship with God. David repented; yet, in spite of David’s brokenness, God decreed severe consequences.
Why then have you had no respect for the word of the Lord, doing what is evil in his eyes? You have put Uriah the Hittite to death with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife; you have put him to death with the sword of the children of Ammon. So now the sword will never be turned away from your family; because you have had no respect for me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. The Lord says, From those of your family I will send evil against you, and before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to your neighbour, and he will take your wives to his bed by the light of this sun. You did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel and in the light of the sun. 2 Samuel 12:9-12
The rest of David’s life was plagued with trouble and tribulation, much of it within his own family as a result of his sin. But, instead of becoming bitter, David continued to pursue righteousness. At the end of his life, his epitaph, written by God Himself, declares, “My servant David, …kept My commandments, and …followed Me with all his heart, to do that only which was right in Mine eyes (1 Kings 14:8). May it be that those words are our legacy as well! When David repented, his slate was wiped clean! Who said that grace began in the New Testament?
When David died, his son Solomon came to the throne. Solomon started out well, with a heart tender toward God as was his father’s.
And Solomon went up there to the brass altar before the Lord at the Tent of meeting, offering on it a thousand burned offerings. In that night God came to Solomon in a vision, and said to him, Say what I am to give you. And Solomon said to God, Great was your mercy to David my father, and you have made me king in his place. Now, O Lord God, let your word to David my father come true; for you have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in number. Give me now wisdom and knowledge, so that I may go out and come in before this people: for who is able to be the judge of this great people of yours? And God said to Solomon, Because this was in your heart, and you did not make request for money, property, or honour, or for the destruction of your haters, or for long life; but you have made request for wisdom and knowledge for yourself, so that you may be the judge of my people over whom I have made you king: Wisdom and knowledge are given to you; and I will give you wealth and honour, such as no king has had before you or ever will have after you. 2 Chronicles 1:6-12
Yet, with such initial devotion, such rich promises from God, and such profound wisdom, the report at the end of Solomon’s life causes us to shake our heads. No wonder Yeshua said it is harder for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to enter the eye of a needle.
But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, ‘Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods’: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father (1 Kings 11:1-4). And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen (1 Kings 4:26). Then did Solomon build a high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded (1 Kings 11:5-10).
By the end of his life, Solomon was so entranced in idolatry that he could no longer discern the whispering of the Holy Spirit. It was likely the decision to take the first foreign wife that proved to be his downfall. Human reasoning of the day dictated that, in order to keep peace, kings should marry the daughters of surrounding regents. The Sages say that Solomon actually obeyed the command to write his own copy of the Torah. But, they say, he reasoned that the commandments not to multiply wives, gold, or horses (see Deut. 17:14-19) did not apply to him. This should be a strong warning to us.
But, though Solomon’s ears were closed, a prophet was standing by with ears to hear. The kingdom was about to be given into the hands of an exceptional young man whom Solomon had made CEO of his vast labor force. But, as incredible as that opportunity was, it would pale in comparison to what was about to be handed to him. Perhaps it happened like this:
After a hectic day, deep in thought and headed home for the evening, Jeroboam took a path through a quiet field to avoid the busy road, craving solitude in which to consider decisions that must be implemented by morning. Suddenly a cloaked figure stepped into his pathway. Jeroboam, not wishing to be detained, swung wide around the man and stepped up his pace. But the sound of fabric rudely being ripped behind him caused him to spin around. Jeroboam watched incredulously as what looked to be the man’s brand new cloak was being ripped into pieces. The sound of fibers being torn asunder was so loud that the birds in the trees at the field’s edge, in shock, stopped singing. Jeroboam stood mesmerized as the pieces were torn and torn again and again, until there were twelve that virtually smarted under their cruel treatment. Silently, the prophet gestured for Jeroboam to come near, his left hand by his side, holding two of the remnants. His right hand, outstretched, offered the remainder of the crudely shaped pieces, the sounds of their shredding still hanging in the air. Unable to resist, Jeroboam stepped toward the prophet and took the ten pieces. (see 1 Kings 11:29 ff)
Then, the prophet Ahijah said,
“ Jeroboam, take ten pieces… and listen to what the LORD God of Israel says to you. ‘Jeroboam, I am the LORD God, and I am about to take Solomon’s kingdom from him and give you ten tribes to rule. But Solomon will still rule one tribe, since he is the son of David my servant, and Jerusalem is my chosen city. Solomon and the Israelites are not like their ancestor David. They will not listen to me, obey me, or do what is right. They have turned from me to worship Astarte the goddess of Sidon, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of Ammon. Solomon is David’s son, and David was my chosen leader, who did what I commanded. So I will let Solomon be king until he dies. Then I will give you ten tribes to rule, but Solomon’s son will still rule one tribe. This way, my servant David will always have a descendant ruling in Jerusalem, the city where I have chosen to be worshiped. You will be king of Israel and will rule every nation you want. I’ll help you if you obey me. And if you do what I say, as my servant David did, I will always let someone from your family rule in Israel, just as someone from David’s family will always rule in Judah. The nation of Israel will be yours. 1 Kings 11:31-38 CEV.
“The nation of Israel will be yours.” The fulfillment of this astounding prophecy was realized after Solomon’s death, when his son, Rehoboam, came to the throne. By that time, the citizens of Israel were fed up with the high taxes and forced labor to which they had been forced to submit for forty years in order to finance Solomon’s massive building campaigns and extravagant lifestyle, not to mention maintenance for his 700 wives and 300 concubines. Jeroboam was nominated to approach King Rehoboam and to negotiate with him; but, rather than listening to either Jeroboam or the wise men who had advised Solomon, instead, Rehoboam insulted the people. The ten tribes were outraged and all but Judah and Benjamin departed in fury.
When the people realized that Rehoboam would not listen to them, they shouted: “We don’t have to be loyal to David’s family. We can do what we want. Come on, people of Israel, let’s go home! Rehoboam can rule his own people.” 1 Kings 12: 15 CEV
The disgruntled people abruptly formed a separate nation and crowned Jeroboam as king. Iintending to bring the rebellion under control, Rehoboam assembled an army, but was stopped by the word of God through the prophet, Shemaiah:
“Don’t go to war against the people from Israel–they are your relatives. Go home! I am the LORD, and I made these things happen.” Rehoboam and his army obeyed the LORD and went home. (1 Kings 12:23-24).
Thus, the kingdom that had been re-united under King David was again divided in 921 B.C. From this point, “Judah” in scripture identifies the Southern Kingdom comprised of Judah and Benjamin, while the other ten tribes, the Northern Kingdom, is identified as “Israel.” It is important to note that from this point forward the Tanach almost always addresses TWO kingdoms.
Fearing that his subjects would defect to Judah if they returned each year to Jerusalem to keep the Feasts of the LORD (see Lev. 23), Jeroboam instituted an act of damage control to retain their wealth.
And Jeroboam said in his heart, “Now the kingdom will go back to the family of David: If the people go up to make offerings in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, their heart will be turned again to… Rehoboam, king of Judah; and they will put me to death and go back to Rehoboam, king of Judah.” So after taking thought the king made two oxen of gold; and he said to the people, “You have been going up to Jerusalem long enough; see! these are your gods, O Israel, who took you out of the land of Egypt.” And he put one in Bethel and the other in Dan.
And this became a sin in Israel; for the people went to give worship to the one at Bethel, and to the other at Dan. And he made places for worship at the high places, and made priests, who were not Levites, from among all the people. And Jeroboam gave orders for a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like the feast which is kept in Judah, and he went up to the altar. And in the same way, in Bethel, he gave offerings to the oxen which he had made, placing in Bethel the priests of the high places he had made. He went up to the altar he had made in Bethel on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, the month fixed by him at his pleasure; and he gave orders for a feast for the people of Israel, and went up to the altar, and there he made the smoke of his offerings go up. (1 Kings 12:27-32 BBE)
Jeroboam not only was ignorant of the Torah and history, he greatly lacked fear of Yahweh, which the scripture teaches is the beginning of wisdom and understanding (Ps. 111:10, Pro: 1:10, 9:7) Incredibly, Jeroboam made TWO golden calves! His replacement theology, ostensibly for the convenience of his subjects, was, in reality, designed to keep them corralled in his kingdom. He established high places of worship to the Baals on every hill. He erased the calendar of the Feasts of the LORD and established one of his own making. He deposed the Levites, who were given long and rigorous instruction in the Torah, and, instead, made priests of anyone of his choosing. Further, he took on the role of priest himself and personally offered sacrifices, the very reason the kingdom had been removed from King Saul .
Just as He did when David sinned, God mercifully sent a prophet to Jeroboam.
Go, say to Jeroboam, These are the words of the Lord, the God of Israel: “Though I took you from among the people, lifting you up to be a ruler over my people Israel, And took the kingdom away by force from the seed of David and gave it to you, you have not been like my servant David, who kept my orders, and was true to me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. But you have done evil more than any before you, and have made for yourself other gods, and images of metal, moving me to wrath, and turning your back on me. So I will send evil on the line of Jeroboam, cutting off from his family every male child, those who are shut up and those who go free in Israel; the family of Jeroboam will be brushed away like a man brushing away waste till it is all gone. Those of the family of Jeroboam who come to death in the town, will become food for the dogs; and those on whom death comes in the open country, will be food for the birds of the air; for the Lord has said it.” (1 Kings 14:7-11 BBE)
But, unlike David, Jeroboam would not hear. Blindly he stayed on the broad road that leads to destruction, mixing worship of the One True God with pagan ways. His infant son died as a result; but, more importantly, his fledgling kingdom was set on a course of no return. The ways of Jeroboam proved to be so perverse and so influential that not a single one of his nineteen successors was declared righteous. Instead, over and over their legacies are summed up, “he did evil in the eyes of the LORD” and “he walked in the ways of Jeroboam.” Could Paul have had this in mind when he wrote, “Know you not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6)
In the face of Jeroboam’s blatant idolatry, a remnant of the Hebrews and many Levites fled to Jerusalem and their beloved Temple. Much later, a few others here and there also returned to Judah in the days of the righteous kings Josiah and Hezekiah. But, in the main, “the whole house of Israel” as the prophet Ezekiel describes it (37:11) remains divided until this very day. God knew it would be so. In fact, there is no doubt He orchestrated the whole thing as part of the “mystery of the gospel” of which Paul speaks. More about that at the end of our study.
During its final years the Northern Kingdom was curiously identified as “Ephraim” by the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah as they foretold its demise. Ephraim was Joseph’s second-born son, who received the birthright blessing from Jacob when he adopted Ephraim and his brother, Manasseh, as his very own. As Jeroboam was head of the tribe of Ephraim, the ten tribes are identified collectively as “Ephraim.” But, there is more to it, as we shall see.
In the face of unrepentance, the Torah decrees destruction for idolaters. Sixty-five years before it happened, the death knell began to toll for Ephraim. “Within threescore and five years shall Ephraim be broken, that it be not a people” (Isaiah 7:8). And I will send you away from before my face, as I have sent away all your brothers, even all the seed of Ephraim. (Jeremiah 7:15) But, Ephraim’s ears could no more hear than Jeroboam’s. In the end, Ephraim was carried away by the King of Assyria.
All of this happened because the people of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God, who had rescued them from Egypt, where they had been slaves. They worshiped foreign gods, followed the customs of the nations that the LORD had forced out of Israel, and were just as sinful as the Israelite kings. Even worse, the Israelites tried to hide their sins from the LORD their God. They built their own local shrines everywhere in Israel–from small towns to large, walled cities. They also built stone images of foreign gods and set up sacred poles for the worship of Asherah on every hill and under every shady tree. They offered sacrifices at the shrines, just as the foreign nations had done before the LORD forced them out of Israel. They did sinful things that made the LORD very angry. Even though the LORD had commanded the Israelites not to worship idols, they did it anyway. So the LORD made sure that every prophet warned Israel and Judah with these words: “I, the LORD, command you to stop doing sinful things and start obeying my laws and teachings! I gave them to your ancestors, and I told my servants the prophets to repeat them to you.” But the Israelites would not listen; they were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to worship the LORD their God. They ignored the LORD’s warnings and commands, and they rejected the solemn agreement he had made with their ancestors. They worshiped worthless idols and became worthless themselves. The LORD had told the Israelites not to do the things that the foreign nations around them were doing, but Israel became just like them. The people of Israel disobeyed all the commands of the LORD their God. They made two gold statues of calves and set up a sacred pole for Asherah; they also worshiped the stars and the god Baal. They used magic and witchcraft and even sacrificed their own children. The Israelites were determined to do whatever the LORD hated. The LORD became so furious with the people of Israel that he allowed them to be carried away as prisoners… (2 King 17:7-18)
It is likely Jeroboam’s house to which Messiah alludes in Matthew 24. Built upon sand, it came crashing down in the wind and waves, its inhabitants forever lost. The prophet Hosea performed the autopsy. “When [Ephraim] offended in Baal, he died” (Hosea 13:1). Israel was warned over and over; but would not hear. Therefore, Abba had no choice but to divorce the bride He had betrothed to Himself on Mount Sinai, to issue a get, the bill of divorce discussed in this week’s torah portion (Deut. 24:1), and send her away.
And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. Jeremiah 3:8 (see also Isaiah 50:1)
There is yet a third command in this week’s portion that applies to the House of Israel.
If a man has two wives, one greatly loved and the other hated, and the two of them have had children by him; and if the first son is the child of the hated wife: Then when he gives his property to his sons for their heritage, he is not to put the son of his loved one in the place of the first son, the son of the hated wife: But he is to give his first son his birthright, and twice as great a part of his property: for he is the first-fruits of his strength and the right of the first son is his.
Deut. 21:15-17 BBE
Through the prophets, Yahweh pictures His children not only as His son, but as being born through two wives, as were Jacob’s children to Leah and Rachel. Judah, the “House of David,” the man after God’s own heart, is the beloved wife. Though the Jews, like the Christian church, has many shortcomings, Judah has been faithful to preserve the Hebrew Scriptures, the weekly Sabbath, and others of the LORD’s commandments. No wonder then that 98% of all Nobel Prize winners have been Jews, even though they comprise only 2% of the earth’s population! Yahweh promises to bless to a thousand generations those who love Him and keep His commandments! (Exodus 20:6) The Jewish people are still being blessed because of David’s obedience! When on his presumed deathbed, Jacob promised that “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” Genesis 49:10. Though hunted and despised, though scattered and rooted up again and again, the faithful remnant of the Jewish people have preserved the holy things of the Most High God. Despite the evil threats and plans of Hamas and the Islamic State, or whatever other antichrist will arise, our brother Judah is destined to preserve the Torah until Shiloh (a reference to Messiah) returns. True, they, like us, have added to and subtracted from God’s word; but we deeply and humbly thank God for them! Without them we would be without the scripture to light our path in today’s darkness! And that provides an excellent segue to a fourth law in this week’s portion.
You shall not see your brother’s ox or his sheep going astray and ignore them. You shall take them back to your brother. And if he does not live near you and you do not know who he is, you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall stay with you until your brother seeks it. Then you shall restore it to him. And you shall do the same with his donkey or with his garment, or with any lost thing of your brother’s, which he loses and you find; you may not ignore it. You shall not see your brother’s donkey or his ox fallen down by the way and ignore them. You shall help him to lift them up again. Deut. 22:1-4 ESV
Friends, we are our brother’s keeper and we will be judged on the basis of what we do or do not do on behalf of our brother Judah. If the Torah commands that we are to be so very careful about our brother’s donkey or possessions, what must that mean in terms of what we do with the Jewish people themselves? Messiah Yeshua is very clear about this.
But when the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then will he be seated in his glory: And before him all the nations will come together; and they will be parted one from another, as the sheep are parted from the goats by the keeper. And he will put the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then will the King say to those on his right, Come, you who have the blessing of my Father, into the kingdom made ready for you before the world was: For I was in need of food, and you gave it to me: I was in need of drink, and you gave it to me: I was wandering, and you took me in; I had no clothing, and you gave it to me: when I was ill, or in prison, you came to me. Then will the upright make answer to him, saying, Lord, when did we see you in need of food, and give it to you? or in need of drink, and give it to you? And when did we see you wandering, and take you in? or without clothing, and give it to you? And when did we see you ill, or in prison, and come to you? And the King will make answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Because you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. Then will he say to those on the left, Go from me, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire which is ready for the Evil One and his angels: For I was in need of food, and you gave it not to me; I was in need of drink, and you gave it not to me: I was wandering, and you took me not in; without clothing, and you gave me no clothing; ill, and in prison, and you came not to me. Then will they make answer, saying, Lord, when did we see you in need of food or drink, or wandering, or without clothing, or ill, or in prison, and did not take care of you? Then will he make answer to them, saying, Truly I say to you, Because you did it not to the least of these, you did it not to me. And these will go away into eternal punishment; but the upright into eternal life. Mat 25:31-46 BBE
We would do well to remember that tiny Judah, the least peoples of all the earth, is Yeshua’s brother, and, therefore, ours as well. Think about this as you invest your tithes and plead with Abba for Judah daily. Be very, very careful not to align yourself with governments, organizations, or churches who uphold sanctions for the modern state of Israel. The church of America was silent after being informed about the atrocities in Germany and Poland during World War II until ships full of Jews reached our shores, and, then, to our great shame, were turned away. We must not keep silent in these days while anti-Semitism is rising throughout the earth. We will be most definitely held accountable if we do not pray for the safety of our brothers and put feet to our prayers.
“Ephraim is my firstborn” Yahweh told Jeremiah (31:9). The son of Joseph was destined, according to his name, to be “doubly-fruitful.” But, he disappeared from scripture without being heard of again after Jacob removed his hand from Manasseh’s head and replaced it upon Ephraim’s, thus granting the blessing of the first-born. Yet, the tribe of Ephraim was the most populous; they even demanded and received a double-portion of land from Joshua. They were natural leaders and the lands they were given were blessed. No wonder they were the preeminent tribe, at least for a time. They had everything one could ask for, the first-born blessing, fertile lands and large numbers to work it. But, theirs was a house built on sand. Here is what the prophets had to say about it.
Therefore my people go into exile for lack of knowledge; their honored men go hungry, and their multitude is parched with thirst. Isaiah 5:13 ECV
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. Hosea 4:6 ECV
But, Hosea also proclaimed,
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, You are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, You are the sons of the living God. Hosea 1:10 NJKV
It was Jeremiah who published the curious message that the LORD would send fishers (Jer. 16:16) to the lost sheep of Israel. Yeshua told His disciples, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mat 15:24) Further, He instructed his disciples to “go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mat. 10:6) This is why after Yeshua began His ministry he resided in the Galilee of the nations. As one of the first places to be dispersed by the king of Assyria, it was only right that it should be the first to hear the good news that the bride had been forgiven and was welcomed back into the Kingdom of Heaven.
The House of Israel was scattered throughout the earth, sown as seeds that would produce and be scattered again and again. The mystery of the gospel is that whenever and wherever Yeshua’s fishers-of-men have gone forth with the good news that the bride’s rebellion has been forgiven, paid-for by His very own blood, the “net” has also caught whosoever would believe. The Kingdom of Heaven was never meant to belong exclusively to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That was one of the very things for which Yeshua castigated the Pharisees.
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.
Exclusivity was the whole issue of the hatred we see in the New Testament between the Jewish people and the Samaritans, descendants of the mixed marriages of Assyrians and Israelites. The religious leaders considered these “half-breeds” unclean. The rabbis instructed the Jewish people to have nothing to do with them, even though from the beginning, on Mount Sinai, Israel was instructed to be a light to the nations (see Deut. 4:8). Exclusivity was never God’s plan. Yeshua came the first time to redeem Israel and get his bride back on track as the light of the world. He will return again establish the Messianic kingdom with His bride ruling at His side.
Because God SO loves the world, He designed a net to catch a multitude that no man can number from every tribe and tongue. Collectively, we who believe in Yeshua are Ephraim. We have left the doctrines and traditions of men that enslaved us as former Gentiles. We are grafted in to Israel (Ephesians 2), no longer strangers, without hope and without promise. Despite our “hated” mother, we are the favored firstborn, the first of our Father’s strength. We are the prodigal, the rebellious son who “came to himself” and recognized our Father’s wisdom and instruction. Eyes open, we, like David, proclaim the whole word of God to be true, eternal, and more valuable than gold. Returning to our Father’s house on our knees, desiring only to be a servant, we found a celebration in our honor and beautiful gifts to welcome us home and signifying our authority to rule with Him. We are the House of Israel resurrected, born again, delivered from the clutches of idolatry and mixed-worship. We are the “sons of God” for whom all creation cries. Peter, quoting Hosea sums it up. Those once called “not a people” by Isaiah (7:8) are now God’s people! Though Ephraim once received no mercy, now through the death and resurrection of our Groom, we have received mercy!
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10
Hallelujah! We are the most blessed people who have ever lived on this planet, most especially if we are among those who are able to read our bibles, keep Abba’s Holy Days and other commandments without threat of bloodshed or beheading. There is much more we could say on Ki Tetze. This Torah portion is filled with practical advice as well as other prophetic details. But, time is short, so maybe next year we will discuss other aspects of this jewel of the Torah. Until, next week, shalom!