The Torah portion that is read in Israel this week is Behar (“in the mountain”, referring to Mount Sinai).
We will be reading from Leviticus 25:1-26:2. Almost to the end of the book of Leviticus. From the prophets we will be reading Jeremiah 32:6-27, 16:19-17:14. From the New Testament we will read the Gospel of Luke 4:16-30, and 2 Corinthians 6:1-18.
As you have already noticed, much of our service time is spent on reading from God’s Word. We read from the Torah, and from the prophets, and from the New Testament.
The reason is simple. The product is always more important than the salesman. The purpose of our public meetings and services on Shabbat and holidays is to have fellowship with each other around the Word of God.
According to the book of Acts, the disciples gathered together in the New Testament:
“Known to God from eternity are all His works. Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” – Acts 5:18-21
Of course, in the New Testament we have Yeshua reading the prophets on the Sabbath day in the synagogue in Nazareth. Yeshua read from Isaiah chapter 61, that is the Haftarah reading for the Torah portion of Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:10-30:20).
This portion is of great importance because it has in it the need to circumcise our hearts. Usually, the person from the congregation that is invited to read the Haftarah (the portion from the prophets) is one that is especially honored.
Maybe it might have been Yeshua’s birthday during the season of the Feast of Sukkot, in the end of September or beginning of October according to the Gregorian calendar. It is important to note that the Torah portion is a given, and the readings from the prophets and from the New Testament are complimentary with the Torah reading.
Why is the reading of the Torah portion and from the prophets and the New Testament so important? It is important for the following reasons…
First, we need to be familiarized with the Word of God in the order that it has been delivered to us. Ignorance of the Word of God leaves an open door for pastors and preachers and priests to take advantage of the flock that the Lord has entrusted them.
Please read Ezekiel 34, the whole chapter. Please read the following news in the evangelical world and understand how important it is for each one of us to know the Word of God personally, and not trust anyone – not even the pastor or the preacher that seems so charming and knowledgeable.
Second, repeating the same reading year after year will implant in your memory a familiarity with the Word of God. Which is actually the communication of the Holy Spirit of God with you: brain, mind, body and spirit.
The very exposure to the Word of God in sequential order, over the years, is a much more powerful communication with the Holy Spirit of God than reading here a little, there a little – a bit here and a bit there, but you don’t receive the full picture in order.
Third, receiving a systematic view in order of the chain of time and revelation from God’s Word equips you and gives you discernment. The spiritual gift of discernment is sharpened, and you will not be so easily deceived by the leadership and cunning pastors that see their position as a job to build their private and their own empire.
Remember what the apostle Paul said to Timothy his disciple:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16,17
Now a few points from the portion of Behar! The children of Israel are still under Mount Sinai, they have near 38 years to wonder in the Sinai desert.
Here suddenly God speaks to the children of Israel through Moses about the sabbatical year and the jubilee. The generation that Moses is addressing will actually never make it to the Land of Canaan. Their bodies will be scattered in the Sinai desert.
Only two of these people that are gathered under Mount Sinai will actually enter the Land Of Promise. The land that God gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as an everlasting possession.
So, the rabbis in the First Century A.D. ask with good reason, “What does Mount Sinai have to do with agricultural instruction to farmers about the sabbatical year and the seven sabbatical years that make the jubilee [50-years anniversary]?”
The answer to the Rabbis question is this:
First, the Torah is given as a whole unit, beyond the boundaries of time and place. The Holy Spirit revelation is above history and above time and space.
Second, the divine order of things has a wisdom that gives us the needed instruction for life early in time to equip us and set our mind in advance for what our future holds. Even though the children of Israel were not yet farmers and independent producers of their food, they had to know that God’s law is a revelation of His love and provision, and not just a natural process of sowing and harvesting.
There is the God element – that you work six years and allow the land to rest for a year, and God will provide for you the food and wisdom to use your resources in such a way that even when you don’t sow the seed and don’t harvest for a whole year, God will take care of you and provide for you all your needs.
Third, this was an important lesson to learn even 38 years before they crossed the Jordan River and have their own land and farm it.
Fourth, the farmer in Israel (even until today) will save food and products for the year that he will not farm, not sow, not harvest. A time of a year for the land to rest and for the farmer to rest and spend time working on his family and his spiritual status and relationship with family and with God.
The more powerful section of this Torah portion is chapter 26. It has the true formula for blessing and prosperity in this life, and in this world.
If we truly want to be prosperous in life, walking according to God’s requirements, commands, and instructions is the key and formula for successful living in this world (and success isn’t necessary financial or material).
The happiest and most complete person in my life and in the life of Netivyah and the Ro’eh Israel Congregation was actually a person who had nothing, and wanted nothing material. A survivor of the Nazi death camps. He had nothing but he was the most completely happy and satisfied person.
Here are some pearls from our Shabbat reading:
“Your threshing shall last till the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last till the time of sowing; you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none will make you afraid; I will rid the land of evil beasts, and the sword will not go through your land.” – Leviticus 26:5,6
This text is my definition of prosperity. Your provision for life is your prosperity and the peace that you need to be happy and secure.
“You will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you. For I will look on you favorably and make you fruitful, multiply you and confirm My covenant with you…” – Leviticus 26:7-9
The state of Israel has suffered for the last 100 years in the land of Israel with the issue of security and terrorist Arab/Palestinian war. We have had no peace or calm for 100 years or more, since Jews started to return home to this land.
Maybe if we hear God and His word the formula that we see in this text of God’s Word may be something that we, as a nation ought to implement. And see the Lord’s hand provide our security and victory over our enemies.
“I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; I have broken the bands of your yoke and made you walk upright.” – Leviticus 16:12,13
God promises that He will walk among us, He Himself will dwell with us. This means that we will have access to God.
The access will be here on our level in our presence. God will dwell with us in a real physical way… We are still waiting for this promise to be fulfilled in our own days.
We have 11 verses of prosperity and wonderful promises of God for us, for Israel, the obedient and faithful nation. Now, in the same chapter, come 33 verses of difficult and horrible promises of God to us, to Israel, to His people… This is to show us that it is much wiser and more beneficial to be obedient and to live according to God’s instructions in obedience and in faith.
The reading from Jeremiah 16:19-17:14, our Haftarah (portion from the prophets), is so very important. Here are some of these pearls of divine revelation from this reading for us today:
“O Lord, my strength and my fortress, My refuge in the day of affliction, The Gentiles shall come to You From the ends of the earth and say, ‘Surely our fathers have inherited lies, Worthlessness and unprofitable things.’ Will a man make gods for himself, Which are not gods? Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know My hand and My might; And they shall know that My name is the Lord.” – Jeremiah 16:19-21
Here is a prophecy that Jeremiah brings with an eschatological perspective that corresponds with Isaiah 66 and other prophetic proclamations that I am beginning to see being fulfilled before my eyes. I hope that you too can see these fantastic promises of God being fulfilled in our daily news.
The Gentiles shall come from the ends of the earth and confess that what their fathers have transferred as an inheritance are lies and unprofitable baggage that doesn’t hold water. Jeremiah exposes the idolatry that is lies and worthlessness from which there is nothing beneficial to the human race.
God will lead and direct and treat the nations in such a way that they will understand that their idolatry is worthless, and the Lord and His mighty hand and might are the only true power in this world that we call Earth.
There is so much revelation for our own times in this portion from the prophets that we are actually beginning to see being fulfilled before our eyes. We see more and more Christians – Gentiles – who are suddenly realizing that what they have learned in their father’s house, and in their churches, are lies and worthless for life. Argumentations and theological arguments that bring no life or joy to the innocent and naïve members of their churches.
Many Christians who were very religious in their churches realize that so much of what they have been fed in their churches is false, and no benefit is to be found in them. God promises that those Gentiles that will understand the futility of idolatry and seek to know the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the creator of all in our world, will receive the privilege of knowing His name and enjoying being in His presence.
This article originally appeared on Netivyah and is reposted with permission.