The Torah reading this week is from the first chapters of the book of Leviticus. In Hebrew the book of Leviticus is called, “And He Called.” The Hebrew names of the books of the Bible are generally given by the first words of the book. The first words of the first chapter of the book of Leviticus are: “Now the Lord called to Moses.”
We read from Leviticus chapter 1:1 – 6:7. This was the portion of my Bar Mitzvah that I had to read in the synagogue on Yehuda Street when I had my 13th birthday. Of course, this means that this next week, the Lord willing, I shall be according to Western count fully 75 years old. According to Asian and Sephardic and Bulgarian count I shall be 76 years old. Don’t ask me how this works – it does work for those who count that way.
The portion of the prophets that will be read in the synagogues around the world this Shabbat is going to be from Isaiah 43:21 – 44:23. From the New Testament our reading will be Hebrews 10:1-18, 13:10-15.
An interesting note is on the names of the books of the Bible in the Christian Bibles. The names of the books are logical, they are given according to the content of the book. The rabbinical name of the book of Leviticus is “Tarah’s Cohanim,” “the law of the priests”. The same is with the other books of the Torah the names are given according to the content of the book.
The first 13 chapters of the book of Leviticus are dedicated mainly to the sacrificial system of the Torah. Every type of sacrifice is described in great detail, what animal will be acceptable for each sacrifice and what is the social and economic status of the person that is going to sacrifice and if it is a sin offering what is the sin that was committed by the person who is bringing the sacrifice.
The interesting thing to me is that the Lord grades the sacrifices according to the social status and the financial capabilities of each person. The rich have to bring a bull for sin offering for their sin whereas the sacrifice of the poor can be satisfied by bringing two pigeons.
This is a demonstration of the wisdom of God and the consideration of God for our social status, and the grace of God that does not require of men to do more than they are capable to do. I think that this is a wonderful depiction of the Lord’s love and character and I hope that our leaders both in our countries and also in the tax code and also the church and synagogue leaders will learn from the Lord to be considerate of the people’s capabilities and encourage them to give what they can without pushing.
I would like to share a few words from the Haftarah, the reading from the prophets. This week the reading comes from Isaiah 43 and 44. Some Christians have a hard time accepting Paul’s declaration in Romans 11:25-26, “All Israel shall be saved.” Paul didn’t get this idea while dreaming. The promise that God will save Israel appears at least six times in the prophets. Here in Isaiah 43 is one of those times:
“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Since you were precious in My sight, you have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore, I will give men for you, And people for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants from the east and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, “Give them up!” And to the south, “Do not keep them back!” Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the ends of the earth— Everyone who is called by My name, Whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.’ Bring out the blind people who have eyes, And the deaf who have ears. Let all the nations be gathered together, and let the people be assembled. Who among them can declare this, and show us former things?” – Isaiah 43:1 – 9 [NKJV]
These words of Isaiah inspired by the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that inspired Paul’s writings, are so clear, and I would like to add another text from Isaiah that just accentuates this central truth.
We must remember that during the time of Isaiah Israel was in no way righteous or just. Israel was embroiled in sin, national sin, personal sin, idolatry, and Isaiah the prophet had enough condemnation of Israel starting from chapter 1 the prophet condemns Israel with harsh words and expresses the anger of the Lord against Israel.
We must remember that the Lord is the father of all mankind. Here are the words of the apostle Paul:
“Or is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also the God of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.” – Romans 3:29-31 [NKJV]
We must remember that God, the Creator of the Universe does not make mistakes. When He chose Abraham, and His Seed for ever, the Lord knew well what He is doing. He knew what Israel is capable of and He could see the end before the beginning.
It is God’s love for His creation and for humanity that allowed us, humans, the freedom to sin and have free will because without this freedom there can’t be a relationship based on love and honor.
Here is another text from Isaiah that resonates God’s promises to Israel:
“Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people and will have mercy on His afflicted. But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely, they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; Your walls are continually before Me.” – Isaiah 45:13-15 [NKJV]
What a great picture these words of Isaiah, the prophet, give us of God’s relationship to Israel, what a great picture of God inscribing Israel on the palm of his hands. Good Christians have been kidnaped by the Roman Catholic Church in the early centuries after Yeshua and dragged away from the source of their faith, Israel.
They have been desensitized by pagans who claimed to have the authority, an authority that God has never given them. They changed the meaning of the texts by overlaying a film of deception over the text, canceled the Shabbat, they disconnected the relationship of the church from its root, Israel.
Finally in the 19th century there were Christian leaders who realized that the Protestant Reformation is going nowhere and that the only answer is restoration, going back to the drawing board and looking at the blueprint and starting over.
The desire was noble, and the conditions were good, but culture is a strong element, and if the devil could no longer twist the word of God, he used culture to divert the good and innocent Christians.
It is time my dear brothers and sisters to restore the paradigm of restoration and radically search for three things that are weak in the “Protestant/Evangelical” churches, unity of the body of the Messiah, and a hunger for biblical truth.
Biblical truth that is based first on the text in context, the historical context, going back to the time and place when the events happened, and when the apostles wrote it down. Today it is much easier to do this than it was in the 19th century. Today we have Rabbi Google.com. There is free access for everyone to information, at no cost. All that we need is a commitment to the word of God and to its truth.
All that this requires is that we understand that our commitment is not our denominations, not to the party-spirit that divides and alienates us from each other. Leaders don’t look for others to teach you! Read the Word of God, pray and read in search of truth and above all put your minds in gear, push the clutch down and shift to high gear.
One of my favorite preachers of the 19th century Restoration movement is Barton W. Stone. Barton W. Stone was the pastor of the Cain Ridge Presbyterian Church. When Barton read the word not as a Presbyterian pastor, but like a plain disciple of Jesus he understood that what he was doing is wrong and like Martin Luther nailed a note on the door of his church building. In this note Barton W. Stone stated that he could no longer be the pastor of the Presbyterian Church.
God’s word from Genesis to Revelation is the only standard and the only authority that we have and when I look at the words of Isaiah the prophet and connect these words with those of the apostle Paul in Romans – my heart is filled with hope and with assurance and security to keep on keeping on!
Looking up from my porch toward the East – over to Mt. Scopus and the Mt. of Olives waiting to see the Lord descend and hear the trumpet sound. It could happen at any moment like a lightning and thunder on a clear day.
“My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand, all other ground is sinking sand.”
By the way, you don’t have to live in Jerusalem, Israel, to wait and see the Messiah’s coming! I think that this is why God allowed humans to invent television and internet and modern communication so that truly every eye and every ear can hear and see the return of the Lord to Zion. From across the world people will be able to witness the Messiah’s return with the new spread of high-quality electronic devices and Wi-Fi.
Pray for Yeshua’s return! This ought to be on everyone’s prayer list daily. Our world is sick not only with the coronavirus, but with other issues that might be even more important and dangerous for the future of humanity. Issues that the only vaccine for them is the word of God.
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and reposted with permission.