“Then Moshe called for all the leaders of Isra’el and said, ‘Select and take lambs for your families, and slaughter the Pesach lamb’.” - Exodus 12:21, CJB
At the beginning of our selected readings for Pesach (Exodus 12:21-51), we are immediately confronted with not only the personal nature and impact of our sins, but also the redemption which God has been afforded to us that we in no ways deserve. For us in our modern-age, we can only imagine the scene, where only days before the Passover sacrifice is offered for you and your family, you must first bring that spotless lamb, not firs to the Temple, but instead into your home to dwell with you! In the end, it is only after it has dwelt with you and your family (and you have connected with it), that you have to take it to Adonai's cohanim and have is sacrificed (killed) on your behalf for your sins!
For some if not most, this scene may seem unthinkable (where the animal that you have now dwelt with and bonded, has now is sacrificed for you), yet within such a setting - the observant is not afforded the luxury of passivity or indifference, and instead, after the slaying, you must return to your home and annually explain WHY this sacrifice was not only needed, but also absolutely necessary. Thus, in Parashah Bo (Exodus 10:1-13:16), our scene is not to be seen as casual, but instead is highly significant and by definition, immensely intimate in reminding of the reality that this Passover sacrifice demands not just individual response, but also a personal change!
As in comparison to our Holiday readings, in Parashah Terumah (from Exodus 25:1-27:19) God reveals both the heart and foundation of divine love and spiritual healing in stating,
וְעָ֥שׂוּ לִ֖י מִקְדָּ֑שׁ וְשָׁכַנְתִּ֖יבְּתוֹכָֽם׃ - “They are to make me a sanctuary, so that I may live among them.” (Ex. 25:8, CJB)
In this, it is through loving sacrifice that God restores us to himself through the shedding of innocent blood and redemption for our lives! Yet in noting this, one is forced to ask, how does Parashah Bo and he command to construct the Most Holy Place point to the redemption and shedding of innocent blood in the Passover sacrifice?
Where the Passover Lamb in the Temple offered only a kaporah (annual/temporary covering) for our sins, the coming, perfect lamb and sacrifice of the Messiah is that one who once and for all sealed redemption and hope for all of humanity and to all who call upon him, and receive the benefit of his afforded atonement. For over 2,000 years (since 70 C.E.) there has been no Temple, no Mishkan, no sacrificial system and no Cohanim serving on our behalf, and yet the Prophet Isaiah has promised that one would come and be wounded for our transgression and bruised of our iniquities and by his bruising we would be healed (Isaiah 53:5).
But what if it’s coming fulfillment? And is there one that was prophesied long ago that would come and redeem not only the entire House of Israel, but also for the entire world?
For as fulfilled in the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant Scriptures), the Good News of Matthew states,
“All this happened in order to fulfill what Adonai had said through the prophet, ‘The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and they will call him ‘Immanu El.’ The name means, ‘God is with us’.” (Matt. 1:22-23, CJB)
As with Parashah Terumah, the purpose of the building of the Mishkan was so that HaShem (God) might dwell with Israel and establish covenant relationship with them, so through both his incarnation and perfect sacrifice, Yeshua our Messiah alone was able to pay the penalty we could never afford, and through him, all peoples, through trust might be reconciled to Adonai and be given redemption and be restored back to the Father through sacrificial love! If we could have saved ourselves, we would have, but no matter how much we seek to “fix or repair ourselves,” we nevertheless slipped even deeper into our own brokenness and spiritual barrenness!
For us today, this has profound significance when we consider the rise and worldwide effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, where today people are not short on despair, brokenness or an overall sense of hopelessness and fear. Yet, in the midst of our pain, it is Yeshua alone that is our redeeming Passover Lamb and he alone is the hope of the entire world. Where as noted above in Exodus 12:21, the Passover sacrifice is both “highly significant and immensely intimate,” so, the perfect sacrifice of Yeshua offers us the fulfillment of Tikkun Olan (the Restoring and Repairing of the World) but for us spiritual, Yeshua our Messiah provides us all a way home and an eternal hope for the future! (Jeremiah 29:11-13)
Chag Pesach Sameach,
Rabbi Mark Rantz
Beit Hallel Messianic Congregation, Ocala, FL. | Pesach, 5780
In light of the current Coronavirus threat, our Shaliach, Dr. Rabbi Daniel C. Juster has drafted the following pastoral letter of encouragement to Tikkun leders, congregants and ministerial friends. Be encouraged and prayerul from his loving exhortation.
Dear Tikkun Members and Friends,
Greetings from near Jerusalem.
We are living in challenging times indeed. For the first time in the history of the world a large part of the Body of Believers is forced to not meet. This has never happened. What does it mean? There are many and varied prophetic responses. We hope to provide some summaries for you and give our sense of what is credible guidance from those who have prophetic words within and without our network. We are working on this.
This letter is mostly to encourage all of you to know that such a time is a time of opportunity. Some have already seen that it is so and are making the most of these opportunities. As you can imagine in such a time there are many prophetic words. A few have been given and recommended by Tikkun members but more have come to us from our friends in the larger Body. With Ben’s help, I will construct a prophetic perspectives for your encouragement and discernment. With this letter I want to note the opportunities that come to us at such a time.
We are still hoping for a dramatic reversal of the situation so that we can safely have the Tikkun Conferences at Turf Valley. Do keep this in much prayer.
Generally, the time we are in needs to be turned into a time of opportunity.
In our local congregations we have opportunity to strengthen our communities. First of all, we can make ourselves as leaders available to our fellow leaders and members in the congregation. Internet connections by Skype, Zoom, Face Time, WhatsApp and other video, make such communication easier than ever. One possibility for growth during this time is to strengthen chavurah groups. It is even a good time to start some new ones. They can begin as temporary groups but may continue after. The people of the small group can pray together, read and discuss a passage on the word and catch up with one another. The severity of the command to stay at home varies in different areas of the country. Here in Israel it is very severe. However, no one is telling us to stay six feet from our computers. Consider all who can lead a zoom type group and encourage them to do so and all to be part of them.
Several of our congregations are doing online services. Some are only putting them online to view. Here in Jerusalem, we did our first Zoom meeting and the congregational members were live online. We did the Lord’s Supper together and trusted that we could bless the bread and wine by the internet! Our worship leader sang and all were able to join him.
During this time, the members of the America Apostolic Team are available to you and this includes Ben and myself. We encourage you to be in touch with the team members with whom you have developed a special relationship.
We hope to get back to you soon on the prophetic words and issues soon.
In the Messiah’s Love and Service,
“But now this is what Adonai says, he who created you, Ya‘akov, he who formed you, Isra’el: ‘Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I am calling you by your name; you are mine’.” Isaiah 43:1, CJB
As the human family, we live in a fallen world marked with pain, corruption, contradiction, and fear! Although this does not come from God, it is nevertheless present in our world and the hearts of man because of our sin and the Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination). Both psychologists and sociologists concur that fear is the most primal (or deeply rooted) of all human emotions, and of which, scientists acknowledge is in the natural, that which seems out of reach and from the outside is hard if not impossible to control.
But as believers in Yeshua, what shall we make of “fear” and how should we both define, use it for our good or seek to combat it? According to one expert, sensory fears are natural in noting, “The amygdala is the part of the brain that rests behind the eye and over from the ear. There are two of them, and they are tiny and almond-shaped, but don't let the size fool you. Without the amygdala, humans would not have survived throughout history. The amygdala is a brain's alarm system.” (Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D: Article: Edutopia, “Science of Fear,” Oct. 17, 2014)
So, what does the amygdala teach us of ourselves and how does this relate to what Scripture and God’s heart tell us? As per Dr. Ramirez, not all fear should be judged the same. Within every human being, the amygdala communicates to the rest of our brain and our entire nervous system when caution and healthy fear and caution should be demonstrated. We see this and think, ... “do not touch a hot stove - you’ll get burned, ... never walk in front of moving traffic - you’ll be hit, injured or never lean over a cliff - you will fall and be killed!” All these are healthy fears and as per Ramirez, “The amygdala is [our] brain's 911 operator, triggering a hardwired reaction to danger.”
The Scriptures match this, echoing our need for caution and wisdom as seen in Rav Sha’ul’s letter to the Ephesians,
“Therefore, pay careful attention to how you conduct your life — live wisely, not unwisely. Use your time well, for these are evil days. So don’t be foolish, but try to understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Eph. 5:15-17).
In looking at Rav Sha’ul’s wise counsel, it is clear that the admonishment of our Shaliach is in every way is different from that of what the Prophet Isaiah instructs un telling us, “Don’t be afraid!” For Sha’ul, it was both a mitzvot (commandment) and encouragement that the believer should be aware of his or her responsibilities and to live a life for the purpose of what that will of Adonai is. Counter, and as similar to the human amygdala, we know that if we deviate from and break the Word of the Lord then we will not have blessings (Deut. 11:17) in that we have departed from the path that leads to understanding the will of the Lord!
So, what of this primal fear we are often plagued with and what does God want us to know about it?
First, this irrational fear is not from him, but instead a sign of a need for healing and restoration. Where God created our amygdala for life to guide and protect us, primal fears, anxieties and despair are from the Adversary - always lying, always deceiving and always enslaving!
Secondly, when we face the fear which Isaiah references in stating,
“Don’t be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I am calling you by your name; you are mine,”
reminds that this enslavement of fear exists for the purpose of being conquered! It is for this reason that Timothy encouraged, “... God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7, NKJV) in this, we know that we can have freedom from fear by daily walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, by seeking to be motivated and driven through biblical-love and to take upon ourselves self-discipline for the purpose of both wholenesses and to win the prize! (Phil. 3:14)
Finally, we must never forget HOW fear is and can be conquered. Although irrational fears rise like a weapon to attack our hearts, it is Messiah who has once and for all defeated our enemy and rendered him helpless. In light of Calvary and Yeshua’s shed blood, all weapons are defeated and all attacks are rendered of no effect of its own. Yet, because haSatan will still, in the future receive final-judgment, today he uses against us his greatest weapon against us in the form of fear, in hopes that our attention will be focused away from the promises of God!
But counter to FEAR is FAITH and TRUTH, just as counter to darkness is light! Irrational fear, worry, and anxiety cannot exist or grow within the fertile soil of FAITH and TRUTH! It is, for this reason, we must every day, empower the good of our will to walk in trust and daily do that which is right before Adonai! As we draw closer to the Father's Heart and his promises for us, the lies, deceptions, and fears of the Adversary by definition become for us smaller and smaller. It is not that the attacks of the enemy is an illusion or that of the problems of this world, it as we daily choose to press more and more into the love, goodness, and promises of God, then there is less and less room in our hearts for anxiety, worry or fear. This is when our draw to the Yetzer Hara (the evil inclination) shifts to the Yetzer HaTov (the good inclination), because we choosing to see things as God sees them, and in that, we are transformed unto eternity!
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” ... James 5:16, CJB
When we pray, do we seek Adonai in faith, believing with confidence in what he has promised, or do we begin with a measure of doubt or fear and uncertainty, ... while "hoping against hope" that somehow our prayers “might” be heard and our needs met?
When we pray, we often forget that we can pray and seek the Lord with confidence, knowing that he who has called us has already made the way! We need not hope according to human standards or simply wish and plead with God that Yeshua would come and meet our every need. Instead, we can approach the Throne of Grace with confidence, knowing that if we ask anything that reflects his will - he will in fact do it! There is no need for convincing or negotiation with the holy and there is no biblical model for spiritual haggling or bargaining with Adonai. One popular false theology promotes that we should just storm in and plead our case in the “Courts of Heaven” with hope that we “might” do so effectively and in turn be given the answer we desire.
Instead, Adonai tells us from the offset to just Come, ... Already trusting, ... Already believing and in no way doubting!
Yet, when we come, we must do so, Believing and Knowing today, who we are as heirs to the Kingdom and joint-heir with King Messiah (Matthew 6:33, Romans 8:17) and simply, ASK and he will give unto us, according to his will - exceedingly, above and beyond all we could ever ask or think! (Ephesians 3:20). Yes, at times the Lord may say to us "wait," or his answer in the moment may not be exactly what we wanted or expected, but we can nevertheless come before the Adonai with Assurance and Joy that he has already gone before us in Everything!
Beloved, Yeshua will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5) he will always hear our cry and in every circumstance give us his very best and the desires of our hearts as we pray in accordance with his perfect will! Dear friends, let’s learn to cooperate with the Holy Spirit!
The following is a prophetic word that was given by the Lord, through one of our members. After initially being added to our weekly bulletin on August 31, 2019, it was decided that we likewise post this word here for your encouragement and exhortation.
As we enter the month of Ellul, Adonai is already speaking to us and directing us as we prepare for our High Holy Days season. As part of this, recently the Lord gave our own Juleon Akana this word which I feel is prophetic for all of us at this time. As we soon come upon Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, reflect back on this exhortation. As the Midrash teaches, in Ellul, the King is in the Field and for us he is not Hiding, seek him while he may be found, call upon him while he may be near! - Rabbi Mark Rantz
“To everyone who asks, receives and to everyone who seeks, will find. For to anyone who knocks, the door will be opened to them. “For I know what plans I have in mind for you, says ADONAI, plans for well-being, not for bad things; so that you can have hope and a future.” When you call to me and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you seek me, you will find me, provided you seek for me wholeheartedly.
The Father is one who Hides and He is waiting for us to find Him. In all our thoughts, in all of our struggles, in all of our victories; He is waiting for us to find Him. To seek Him and welcome Him into all every areas of our lives, no matter how insignificant or profound.
There is life in the resurrection! I am Hiding in all things. Come and Find Me! You must be diligent and have a desire to be obedient.
Seek Yeshua, my Son!
If you seek me with all of your heart, you will find me. Seek first my kingdom and my righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. My Word does not come back to me unfulfilled, for it will accomplish what I intend and cause you to succeed in what I send it to do.
I AM not Hiding from you! I AM Hiding For You! When you seek me with your all, I will answer and search you. I will examine you and know your heart; I will test you,
for I know your thoughts. I will see if there is in you any hurtful way and lead you along the eternal way.
“If a prophet or someone who gets messages while dreaming arises among you and he gives you a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder comes about as he predicted when he said, ‘Let’s follow other gods, which you have not known; and let us serve them,’ you are not to listen to what that prophet or dreamer says. For Adonai your God is testing you, in order to find out whether you really do love Adonai your God with all your heart and being.” - Deut. 13:2-4, CJB
Whether it be from a scientific, theological or even an ontological perspective, in our world today, there seems to be an endless debate on whether there is a God, who he is or what obligations we have to the divine as a human family? For many, the false belief is that there is no God and man is the measure of all things, while others search for meaning in areas of obscurity or absolute darkness. However, for us as Messianic-believers we often see the heat of this debate as we seek to share the truths of Messiah Yeshua, to our people Israel.
Recently on YouTube, Dr. Michael Brown (A Messianic Jew, affiliated with Tikkun) hosted a live debate with Orthodox Rabbi, Shmuley Boteach on whether the B’rit Chadashah (New Testament) is in fact anti-Semitic! Although they both attested that they are close friends and even have hosted one another in their homes, Rabbi Boteach’s polemic against our Messianic faith was riddled with deception, straw-man arguments and a propensity in taking Scripture willfully out of context. Sadly, in dealing with “anti-Missionary” movements and their representatives, the arguments against Yeshua as Messiah seriously fail in properly addressing the clear meaning of the biblical text, and namely that of the Tanakh and Messianic prophecy.
In Isaiah 53, God’s prophet clearly speaks of a redeemer who would suffer and bring redemption for all of Israel and the world and in the B’rit Chadashah, Yeshua, as our Passover Lamb, not only is slain for our healing, but also promised that he would rise from the dead and bring us back to the Father through perfect repentance!
When considering our Parashah, Moshe’s admonition for us in not following foreign gods truly rings true when we consider the coming of the Mashiach! In our passage, we are warned that we are forbidden to listen to false-teachers because they misrepresent Adonai and bring upon individuals’ permanent destruction. For us, we are equally reminded to not be swayed by the deception of those who reject Yeshua as Messiah and Lord and work against him. For this reason, our Parashah reads,
“… God is testing you, in order to find out whether you really do LOVE Adonai your God will all your heart and being.”
Friends, we as Messianic community must hold fast to who Yeshua said he is and to be a loving witness to our people Israel. This is our primary calling here at Beit Hallel as we seek to know Yeshua and to make him known - to the Jew first and then to every nation and people group. ~ Rabbi Mark Rantz
For many of us, we can remember the days that as a child, when our parents would tell is to do something and we questioned authority as to why we should obey, the answer was often, ” … Because I said so!” Although in parenting child-rearing, this response runs the risk of backfiring, this word “because,” carries much weight in the Hebrew, and especially in light of Deuteronomy 7:12-11:35.
In Parashah ‘Eikev (or, because in Hebrew) we are taught what I believe to be biblical law of “cause and effect,” or better put, here God reveals how the Fruit of Blessings always follows those who lad a life a distinctive obedience. In this, we are not promised a worry or pain free life (cf. John 16:33), but are ensured that blessing will be our inheritance.
As to the context of this Parashah (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25), Moshe is found, still delivering the end of his closing drash (instruction/address) of the Children of Israel, revealing the other side of covenantal-faithfulness. In this, the Word of God reveals that as the Children of Israel sought to obey the commands of the Lord (as detailed in the Torah), that they would both inherit Eretz Yisra’el and prosper in the Land and that victory would mark their steps as they conquer and settle in makom (the place) which the Holy One had promised them.
For us today in 2019, Parashah ‘Eikev provides a “three-point” perspective where on one end we see how, first, Adonai had faithfully given the Land to our father - Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya’akov, secondly, our Hatkivah (Hope) was renewed and revived by God’s very hand in establishing of the modern State of Israel and thirdly, we encounter the reality of not only those who seek our destruction, but from our passage, we are also reminded of the judgment which befalls those who hate and persecute Israel, the Jewish people and the ways of Adonai.
In this, our attention should nevertheless remain in a single location as we continue obeying, following and trusting Adonai! Of this, our delight must be not in the seeking ore receiving the rewards of Adonai, but instead the pleasure that comes in being sons and daughters of the commandments. It is the Word of God that gives us life, hope and draws us deeper into Covenantal-Relationship with Adonai and toward one another. We therefore Delight in Torah BECAUSE he first loved us (1 John 4:19) and BECAUSE continually seeks our good. It is BECAUSE of his great love that we must seek to continually obey his commands! Beloved, lets Delight in the Lord and His commandments today - Dear friends, today, taste and see that the Lord is in fact very good! ~ Rabbi Mark Rantz
As part of Parashah Va’etchanan, Deuteronomy 7:7-8 draws attention to the election of Israel in stating, “Adonai didn’t set his heart on you or choose because you numbered more than any other people - on the contrary, you were the fewest of all peoples. Rather, it was because Adonai loved you and because He wanted to keep the oath which he had sworn to your ancestors, that Adonai brought you out with a strong hand and redeemed you from a life of slavery under the hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.”
Of this marvelous passage of Scripture, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks recounts Israel’s sages, in reminding of Rabbienu Bachya quotes Rambam, “who says that we would have expected God, [the] King of the universe, to have chosen the most numerous nation in the world as His people, since ‘the glory of the King is in the multitude of people’ (Prov. 14:28). God did not do so. Thus, Israel should count itself extraordinary blessed that God chose it, despite its smallness, to be His am segula, His special treasure.”
This election for Israel is also seen in Deuteronomy 10:15 that “Only Adonai took enough pleasure in your ancestors to love them and chose their descendants after them - yourselves above all peoples, as he still does today.” Of verse 15, it is noteworthy in acknowledging that in stating “… Adonai took enough pleasure in your ancestors to love them,” literally means in Hebrew, that God DELIGHTED in your fathers to LOVE and CHOSE them! It was in love that God chose the Patriarch’s, it was in love that God sent His holy Prophets and it was in love that He sent, Yeshua the Promised Messiah!
When speaking of Israel’s irrevocable calling, as believers in Yeshua we are doubly-encouraged in knowing that Adonai is a God of Covenant and Promise, and that we in Messiah have that same guarantee in His LOVE! It is for this reason, 1 Yochanan (John) 3:1-2 states, “See what love the Father has lavished on us in letting us be called God’s children! For that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it has not known Him. Dear friends, we are God’s children now; and it has yet been made clear what we will become. We do know that when He [Yeshua] appears, we will be like Him; because we will see Him as He really is.”
In this, the grafted-in Gentile or Messianic Jew does not replace national-Israel in any way, but, because Adonai is faithful and true and will fulfill all His promises to national-Israel as seen in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-8) and to both Jew and Gentile through the shed blood of the Messiah (Colossians 1:20). In the end, this is the hope for all of Israel and the entire world, and by God’s great grace we are chosen of God and called His daughters and sons! Beloved, you are love and God’s special treasure!
~ Rabbi Mark Rantz
Often, we have heard the phrase that if anything is worth saying, then it is also worth being repeated over and over again! This has been true since time memorial, where “words of truth and noteworthy character” have been repeated over and over again. Many times, these words are of a sociological, anthropological or even a religious nature. For us, such is reminiscent in our Torah portion today (Deut. 1:1-3:22) where on the thirty-seventh day before his passing, Moshe recounts for the people whom he has loved and led the faithful words of the Torah of Adonai!
For our scene, all of Israel has been assembled to hear from God’s prophet reiterate all that had been declared over the last forty-years during Israel’s journey from Mitzra’im (Egypt) to Sinai to the Promised Land. In this, our Parashah begins, “These are the words Moshe spoke to all Isra’el on the far side of the Yarden River, in the desert, in the ‘Aravah, across from Suf, between Pa’ran and Tofel, Lavan, Hatzerot and Di-Zahav. It is eleven days journey from Horev to Kadesh Barnea by way of Mount Se’ir. On the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year, Moshe spoke to the people of Isra’el, reviewing Adonai had ordered him to tell them.” (Deut. 1:1-3, CJB)
Many theologians have questioned why only days before his death, Moshe takes on this task to recount all which Adonai had already declared previously in the Torah. Was it because the people had a bad memory? Possibly, such does occur when we stray away from God, and forget the good things he has done for us. But no matter what some might speculate, I believe that the instruction of Adonai is repeatedout of an overwhelming love for God’s people! Knowing that his days are short, Moshe’s heart goes to only one place - that the people whom he has served and love would finally “get it” and with all their heart, soul, mind and strength serve Adonai! Here Moshe does not want the people of God to forget the goodness of God, and even rebukes them because of their previous failing and iniquities and calls them to a higher level of covenantal faithfulness in keeping the Torah, observing all of the Lord’s commands and knowing that they are God’s covenantal people and entrusted with that of an eternal heritage and blessing! As we have seen over and over again, when Moshe and Aharon either saw the people walking in spiritually compromise, turning to other gods and serving them - or their loving leadership, their response was the always to same - To turn to God in intercession for the people and lead as Yeshua did (cf. Phil. 2) as a servant to all!
At the end of the day. Moshe primarily and singularly had a shepherd’s (pastor’s) heart for the people of Israel, and his greatest desire was that all the people would not miss it, but instead would embrace all that God had for them.
May our attitude be the same as his as we serve one another. There is no greater calling!
~ Rabbi Mark Rantz
As seen only a few weeks ago with Bil’am in Parashah Balak, the beginning of this week’s dual-Parashiot reminds again of the importance of the words we speak and the promises we make. Within Parashah Matot-Masei (Numbers 30:2-36:13) our Sidra begins in communicating the laws and commandments of annulling of vows by stating, “When a man makes a vow to Adonai or formally obligates himself by swearing an oath, he is not to break his word but is to do everything he said he would do.”
Today, we live in a world where people are more prone to misuse their words and hold a greater prepotency to breaking our promises over keeping them. This is a problem often seen in our culture, where we often forget that our words and commitments are not just potential-promises which we have the option of keeping or breaking, but instead, are covenants which God requires us to keep to him and toward one another.
Sadly, these truths have been desensitized today, where through moral decline we often rationalize, it’s really no big deal, and come on, it’s just a little white lie. Instead of feeling the sting that comes with breaking covenant before God or with our neighbor, we too readily make excuses for our selfishness or overall lack of concern. Historically, this is not just a modern problem but instead a human one where if left to our own devises, too many would first seek the good of self rather than the needs of our neighbor. Of the importance of this topic, elsewhere in the Torah, Adonai further instructs, “Do not hate your brother in your heart, but rebuke your neighbor frankly, so that you won’t carry sin because of him. Don’t take vengeance on or bear a grudge against any of your people, rather, love you neighbor as yourself; I am Adonai.” (Lev. 19:17-18)
The lesson here is that with both our words and our actions, we must always seek the good of the other, and in relation to Numbers 30, we must always seek to keep our promises to one another in Covenantal Faithfulness. Knowing that centrality of our covenantal responsibilities our Messiah therefore instructs, “Again, you have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Don’t break your oath,’ and ‘Keep your vows to Adonai.’ But I tell you not to swear at all - not ‘by heaven,’ because it is God’s throne; not ‘by the earth,’ because it is his footstool; and not ‘by Yerushalayim,’ because it is the city of the Great King. And don’t swear by your head, because you can’t make a single hair white or black. Just let you ‘Yes,’ be a simple ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ a simple ‘No’; anything more than this has its origins in evil.” (Matthew 5:33-37, CJB)
Both the Tanakh and B’rit Chadashah stresses in the essential nature of our relationships with our neighbor as a barometer of our relationship to the Almighty, and here Yeshua provides us a blueprint for covenantal faithfulness by challenging us not to make vows at all! By doing this, it is not that he is contradicting Torah, but instead Yeshua is actually reinforcing by reminding that what is more important than an oath made or a promise kept is our responsibility to honor God and one another! To this end, we as Messianic-believers must actively guard our words and commitments - knowing that a broken promise holds the potential of creating a broken heart! In the end, our commandment is clear - that in all our verbal communication, we seek to honor God and one another in letting our yes be yes, and our no be no! This is the very heart of the Torah!
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