Rabbi argue and debate! Yes, we do! Historically we are known for this in taking deep theological issues and matters of deep spiritual importance and discuss them, debate them and ponder its significance as we seek to come to a consensus of that which is true, verses that which might be false or potentially misguided. The primary reason for this is not for the sake of argument, but instead for the purpose of not only coming to a clearer understanding of God's Word, but also to more readily provide an answer to all who might ask!
It is from this that we get the phrase, “three rabbis, five opinions” and from this important approach to biblical interpretation we are enabled to learn new things and to be stretched where we consider interpretations and applications which might slightly differ from that of our own. However, in our calling to known God's Word and given an answer to other, Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Father) 2:14 aptly reminds of the wisdom of our Sages in stating that,
"Rabbi El'azar did say, 'Be diligent to learn the Torah, and know what to answer a skeptic'."
This is echoed in the B'rit Chadashah to,
"Treat the Messiah as holy as Lord of your hearts; while remaining always ready to give a reasoned answer to anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you ..." (1 Kefa/Peter 3:15, CJB)
Of our Parashah this week, the topic of Noach and the Flood is one of those cases where the rabbis have asked many questions, including, how righteous was Noach, really? In Genesis 6:9 we are told that Noach was a man who was righteous in his generation. From this, our Sages ask, “Was he really righteous?” “Was he just tzaddik at his time, but not as an example now, “ or “Did he even fail in the pursuit of righteousness in his final days where he turned to drunkenness and compromise. In Christian tradition, this debate sadly, completely overlooked, but in Judaism it is both essential and central. Some say he was only partially good, because he only saved his own life and that of his families, but not the rest of the world. Others point to the shame at that end of his life (mentioned above) and alert, … See! He was not righteous at all - a drunkard and a man who left himself uncovered!
But, somewhere in the “middle” we find the true answer I believe, and in that we find comfort and redemption for ourselves. We as believers in Yeshua can be so quick in assaulting and judging our neighbor from a distance, but if the truth is told - Noach was only a man, and despite his weaknesses, Adonai still used him to save the world by boarding the ark with his family. We too, are mere human beings who sin and fall as well, but God has called us to the practice of Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) in Messiah’s name. It is not who we are, instead, it is He who is in us which ultimately matters and every act of righteousness we fulfill only means something in light of that which God, in Messiah has done for us! Certainly, sin is always sin and that can’t be ignored, but in the end, God’s grace is always even greater and His love covers a multitude of sin!
May we walk in grace toward one another and go and repair the world!
- Rabbi Mark Rantz
October 24, 2020 | Sixth of Cheshvan, 5781
With the end of our reading the end of Deuteronomy and the the end of our High Holy Days celebrations and Simchat Torah, we annually roll the Sefer Torah back to Genesis to where the Torah begins -
בְּרֵאשִׁית, בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ
Where most, if not exclusively all discuss this passage in the sole-context of Adonai as our Creator, there is still another nuance of our text which we cannot forget. When we speak of Bereshit (Genesis) and God’s acts of creation, we also find the inspiration for new beginning, restoration and an eternal hope for the future as seen from, רֵאשִׁית “…in the beginning.”
Although this interpretation may seem esoteric by some, we can nevertheless see that creation and new beginning equally reflects the work of Messiah in our lives as noted by Rav Sha’ul (Paul),
“… he is the beginning, the firstborn of from the dead, so that he might hold first place in everything. For it pleased God to have his full being live in his Son and through his Son to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace with him, through having his Son shed his blood by being executed on a stake.” (Colossians 1:18b-20, CJB)
In speaking of Yeshua as our Lord and Creator, Rav Sha’ul eloquently chooses the phrase that Yeshua “… is the beginning, the firstborn of from the dead, so that he might hold first place in everything,” or as the NIV notes that, “…in everything he might have supremacy,” It is here that we see Messiah not just as creator, but also Savior and Sovereign King. May Yeshua, king Messiah fill all our hearts with hope and new beginnings in Adonai!
Rabbi Mark Rantz
October 10th, 2020 | 29th of Tishrei, 5781
As believers in Yeshua, and for all of us as a nation we all now facing what seems to be unprecedented times. With political and social unrest to a virus out of control and with the very threat to our values and way of life - many are wondering where is there hope, where can truth be found and what are we called to do as followers of Yeshua?
At Beit Hallel Ocala, the very hallmark of our calling as a Messianic Community is to be a people of prayer, a people of action, and called out ones for the sake of the Kingdom of God and the Power of the Holy Spirit. For us as a Messianic Synagogue, significant to this call I believe is what we do EVERY Tuesday night as we gather either online (or since COVID-19, through Zoom) and we intercede for not only the members of our community and our region but also in Messiah also as watchmen on the wall, in declaring the wholeness and healing of Adonai over the streets of our nation, in upholding the Lord's Age-Old Foundations and to come against the stirrings of the present demonic forces of socialism, radical-Islam, anarchy and divination, and witchcraft and perversion. Likewise, friends, our calling is as agents of peace and salvation in the precious name of Yeshua. Central to this calling is furthermore seen in the proclamation of the Kingdom of God and where we are commanded by God to bless Israel and pray for the Messianic community throughout the world.
In Messianic ministry some might misinterpret this calling, thinking that this is far too political in nature (when it is not political at all) while forgetting that our calling as the Body of Messiah is to the world and to make a difference in the name of Yeshua in EVERY sphere of influence, every chamber of authority and to impact every sphere and to declare righteousness into and over the marketplace of ideas.
In a recent leadership Zoom call, one person made a comment, stating that since Yeshua's Kingdom is not of this world then we should not be concerned with such things, and in essence "the church" need only preach the Gospel and not seek to impact internally secular spheres of influence. Sadly, this line of thinking was originally foster nearly 500 years ago by the Anabaptists who insisted on non-action and neutrality and as a result, the mission of the faithful suffered in that they made no impact in fulfilling God's calling to influence the world or make an impactful difference for the sake of Yeshua. Although their theory was on Messiah and his calling for holiness (separation from the world), they neglected the missional calling of the church to make disciples in every sphere of human life, existence, or social-structure.
This is best validated by Dr. Rabbi Dan Juster who in defining the Kingdom of God states,
"Where is the Kingdom of God? It is wherever the rule of God is established. To the extent that his rule is established in any sphere of human life, we can say: 'There is the Kingdom,' However, the Kingdom can only be established by his power; we in our human weakness and sin do not have the ability to establish it. Therefore, Yeshua comes with the power to establish his rule, beginning with the rule in our hearts'."
By this definition, what Dan Juster is defining is that which many through ecclesiastical history have called, "Common Grace Structures." Although there is a general common grace give to all of mankind (where that person is saved yet or not), Adonai nevertheless looks favorably on all of his creation as the rain to falls on both righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt. 5:45b) Yet apart from this grace, it is just that - "common," where apart from it, saving grace is given through Messiah alone and is made available only through the expansion of God's Kingdom on earth. If the Good News can be preached in the careful confines of a church or synagogue, then it must also go forth and shouted in every other realm, by the power of the Spirit and the risen Messiah! This is God's Truth in troubling times where we are called to impact every vestige of the world - for God's Kingdom, from the congregation- to the White House and in all places of secular influence where the Gospel must be heard and where lives can be changed! For us as American's today, this is highly important as we are now facing possibly the most important Presidential election in our lifetime! With it, no more than ever we all feel the pressure of being thrust as intercessors - headlong into a spiritual battle against dominions and principalities and moreover, as we see the truth of God demonstratively opposed by so many, we are reminded more than ever that as we pray - we are truly fighting for the heart and soul of our nation!
Case in point to this is revealed in the ahistorical inference "separation of church and state," which by definition the Body of Messiah is willfully removed from a place of influence in the world to the shadows of non-relevance and isolated church walls. Sadly, when it comes to this debate, advocates of "separation" forget that this was a philosophy which was never taught by our founding fathers who instead established the founding of America on the Judeo-Christian ideal, on biblical principles and specifically from the idea of common grace structures - while at the same time refusing the imposition all people must adhere to Church of England and in that, the English throne. In the end, America was to be a people liberated for worship and observance unto God and never against. In the end, all of this shows that the hand of spiritual warfare and battles of good vs. evil was present at the beginning of this "one nation under God" and now, Satan our Adversary is trying to destroy it altogether!
So, with this revelation - what should we do - especially now?
1. First, we must remember that as Dan Juster noted above, " the Kingdom can only be established by [Yeshua's] power ...." and in knowing that he alone can do it, we too must be people of prayer, power, authority, and influence for Messiah toward every sphere of human life and for the purse of every life influence.
2. Secondly, as with disciples who asked Yeshua how to prayer - we must be people of prayer who pray not according to our own understanding (the flesh) nor the influences of the world, but instead for Truth, Righteousness, Justice, and the Holiness of Adonai. In this, we must never forget that the only prayers the Father's answers are those in alignment with his Word.
3. We must never forget that as intercessors, our calling is not only as the watchman on the wall who alerts of the attack of the enemy but also with our prayers we are called to act as agents of truth in as messengers of shalom in every sphere of life's influence and by doing so, at times to be the answer to our prayers as the Torah commands, "Justice, only justice you shall pursue." (Deut. 16:20; Jer. 9:23)
THIS IS TRUTH IN TROUBLED TIMES!
Rabbi Mark Rantz
Tuesday, October 11, 2020
“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
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