Shabbat Bible Study for 27 July 2019
©2019 Mark Pitrone and Fulfilling Torah Ministries
Year 1 Sabbath 17
Genesis 20:1-18 – Isaiah 61:9-10 – Psalm 16 – Galatians 3:15-29
B’reishit 20 – Avraham has his last fling with sight walking as he and Sarah, who may be fertile for the first time in her life, go to sojourn in Avimelech’s territory. Avi once again pulls the ‘she’s my sister’ trick for fear that Y’hovah can’t deliver on his promises. I understand why he did it, seeing as his wife was nearly as beautiful as mine (and Sarah was 27 years Devorah’s senior), and if I had a plausible ½ truth like it that could save my skin, I might try it myself. But he’d done it at least once before with Pharaoh, and I don’t think Yah had given him kudos for that move. This time it could have proved disastrous.
An interesting thing happened this time though. After Avimelech took Sarah into his harem, Y’hovah came to him in a dream. Did Y’hovah speak to pagan kings in dreams, I wonder? Apparently, but this was an extraordinary event because this was an extraordinary time for Sarah – she’d never been fertile before. She was 89 years old, post-menopausal and a major babe. In the Chumash, the commentators give a plausible explanation for the whole thing (cf. pg.100, “And took Sarah”). If this is correct, and it is definitely not derived from the pashat of the Torah, it would still be implausible by itself, because it doesn’t explain how a strikingly beautiful young babe could be the sister of a 99-year old man. IF Chumash’ explanation is true, Yhwh MUST have done the same for Avraham as he had for Sarah.
Y’hovah influenced Avimelech to NOT bring Sarah into his chamber that night, and told him in the dream that she was Avi’s wife, not just his sister. Avimelech complained that he had acted in the integrity of his heart, and Y’hovah acknowledged that truth. But, as we see in the last verse of the chapter, Avimelech still was responsible for his actions, even though he had not sinned against Y’hovah. V.6 says that the sin would have been against Y’hovah and no one else. Had Avimelech lien w/Sarah, it would have thrown the lineage of Yitzhak into question. Whose son would he have been, Avimelech’s or Avraham’s? There would have been no way of knowing for certain. Y’hovah protected the seed from any question of lineage.
Other interesting things: Avimelech means ‘a king is my father’, and Avraham means father of many nations; it seems that when Y’hovah appears to a man in a dream, it is vivid and the man remembers it in detail. Q&C
Gen.20.1-7 -Avraham had met Y’hovah and 2 other men while dwelling in Mamre and asked them to sit while he gave them a morsel to eat. After they ate a lunch fit for a King, the two men went on their way to Sedom, where they supervised the destruction of that wicked city and its sisters of the plain. Now Avraham was on the move again. He left Mamre, which means ‘lusty’ and whose root means ‘to rebel’ (he had not told Sarah about the prophecy Yah had given him about Yitzhak in ch.17, so she was surprised by it and thought it was a joke in ch.18, though he HAD told her about the name change). Now he had moved southward again, and was settled between Kadesh (a sanctuary) and Shur (to turn, as travel about) in Gerar (root means to chew the cud, to ruminate). It is about June/July, shortly after Shavuoth and with an early Pesach, and a baby!, coming next year.
Here is Avraham’s last fling with sight-walking. Avraham was seemingly in a quandary about what to do. It is about 2-3 months after Y’hovah’s visit in the plains of Mamre. Should he enter the sanctuary, Kadesh, and rest in Y’hovah’s promises, or should he just keep moving in his own strength? For now he is doing exactly what Lot was doing in Sedom – the root of the Hebrew word translated ‘dwelled’ is H3427 yashav, to sit as judge – I think judging whether he should keep trusting Y’hovah. Yah had told him to keep on the move and to walk the entire land, for it would all be his (13.1), implying that wherever his foot touched in the mandated area was his. So why was he sitting between the sanctuary and turning away? He is thinking, I think, in his human reasoning about how Y’hovah is going to give a natural son to two people who are beyond the years of child-bearing, and now it’s another 2-3 months since the last promise. He may be thinking about whether Y’hovah is just another false god who likes to torment his followers with grandiose promises, but has no intention or real power to follow through. It HAS been 24+ years since his first promise of a son from Y’hovah. When was he going to quit promising and DO IT, already? His next action shows where he is leaning.
Avraham fell back to the same ploy he’d used in Egypt, saying that his wife was only his sister and probably for the same reason – he feared for his life – that the people or the king of that area would kill him for his wife. But this is the absolute WORST time to pull this one. She was obviously very attractive at 89 YOA, for the king took her to his harem, and for the first time since at least her menopause and quite probably EVER, she is fertile exactly according to Y’hovah’s promise. But before Avimelech could defile her, Elohim intervened by generally constipating his entire house and appearing to him in a dream to explain why – AND how to be relieved of the malady.
Avimelech knew to whom he spoke immediately, calling him Adonai. I doubt he knew that Elohim was the Creator, but he recognized him as at least as great as his own elohai. And he knew the Torah of the married woman, for he showed that he was more justified in his actions than Avraham and Sarah were in their words. So Elohim acknowledged his integrity, and told him that it was He who had kept him from sinning against HIM, not Avraham and Sarah. If Avimelech had taken Sarah into his bed, Yitzhak’s parentage and ultimately that of Yeshua would have been in question.
Avraham was on the down side of the spiritual roller-coaster. He wasn’t trusting Y’hovah implicitly. It was not really a roller coaster so much as a cycle. Trust and doubt are diametrically opposed to each other. When we get spiritually high we are in close proximity to Y’hovah and trusting him. When we are spiritually low we are on the opposite edge of the cycle and doubting him. The time it takes to go from one to the other varies as much as we vary in our experiences. EliYahu went from a victory against the 450 prophets of Ba’al to running for his life from the threats of Jezebel in just the time it took to run from Carmel to Samaria. Avraham took months to think his way out of trust and into doubt. EliYahu took a second. If these men of great faith could slide into despond that quickly, do you think you or I will fair better? What is important is not what we think, but what Y’hovah promises and that we keep it in mind. Q&C
Vv.8-18 – When Y’hovah appears to a man in his dream; it is so vivid and awesome to him that he remembers it. Avimelech arose from his sleep and told every detail to his servants and they were all afraid. Then Avimelech called Avraham to him and gave him a mild rebuke and asked him what he’d done to Avraham to warrant such treatment. The result of his taking Sarah to his harem was that the entire nation was made infertile – the Chumash says they had general constipation of every orifice and duct – not pleasant, to say the least.
Avraham threw his own doubt in Yah on Avimelech, saying ‘I thought there was no fear of Elohim here, and that you’d kill me to get her.’ Then he tried to justify himself with, ‘I didn’t really lie to you anyway. She IS my 1/2 sister, the daughter of my father, but not of my mother, and she has become my wife. And I asked her to lie for me long ago when I first left my father’s house, that she would tell people where we travel that, “He is my brother.”’ IOW (and the sages of Israel would NEVER say this), Avraham told the truth, but not the WHOLE truth in much the same way as haSatan does – think Gan Eden and Yeshua’s own Wilderness Adventure.
If I were Avimelech, that wouldn’t cut it for me. But there is a plague on his people, and he needs it lifted. So he brings gifts to Avraham and restores Sarah to him so that he will pray for his people and ask Yah to lift the curse. Then he reproved Sarah for her deceit, and shows her that Avraham has enough ‘juice’ with El Shaddai that she doesn’t need to deceive people to save his life.
Remember that Avimelech had not sinned, nor was he aware that he was this close to sinning, but he was held accountable, just the same. We who are aware are even MORE accountable for our sin before Y’hovah. When Avimelech obeyed Elohim and asked Avraham to pray for him, Y’hovah healed his wives and maidservants (and Avimelech, IMO), and blessed his harem to conceive again. It is the same when we obey him. He promises to bless us when we obey (Dt.30). Q&C
Is.61.9-10 – The blessing of the seed of Avraham can be a 2-edged sword. In this life, it can make us targets of those who are jealous of the blessings we receive. So we get the blessings of Y’hovah, but the curses of men, especially of those who will not acknowledge him in what they do. They think we’re lucky, when what we are is blessed in our doings. A man who doesn’t acknowledge Yah told me that if anything bad ever happens to me in the future I should consider it my due, because I had been very lucky and caught every break in what happened to me in my adventure with the tree. I told him it had nothing to do with luck; that Y’hovah blesses those who trust him, but he wouldn’t hear it.
V.9 is the cause of vv.10-11’s effect. V.10 speaks in metaphor/spiritual application in our present lives. We bless Y’hovah and we are joyful because of his blessings while still in the flesh. V.11 speaks of the reality we will experience in the resurrection and Olam Haba – the world to come. V.10 speaks of our position in Messiah in the here and now; v.11 speaks of our possession in Messiah in the future. In the Olam Haba it will be natural for us to have the blessings of Y’hovah on our efforts, for there will be no sin or death and from everywhere righteousness and praise will spring forth. Q&C
Ps.16 – V.1 speaks my mind and what he has done for me, without even 1 doubt. I put my trust in him long ago and he definitely preserved my life 9 years and 16 weeks ago. V.2 tells me it was not due to MY goodness, but HIS that he preserved me. My goodness is only as good as all those saints who are in the grave and still walking the earth. His extends to the one who is risen. It is Yeshua’s goodness, which is excellent and that he extends TO me, that preserves me. It is Yeshua who is the portion of my inheritance – I could do nothing to deserve it. And he also MAINTAINS that inheritance for me. Boundary lines already mark off the inheritance he has for me. It is MY inheritance, not someone else’s, and it is in a pleasant place – sunny and 70-75 everyday; a light, soaking drizzle every night; barometer at the perfect level to grow and give optimum health to my garden; no pests – perfect for me.
Y’hovah, baruch shemo, gives me perfect counsel through his Torah, which he has put in my heart, so I have access to his counsel even when I cannot read it from a page. Night seasons speaks of adversity, perhaps exile. As I think of his ways first, he is always my strength. We walk hand in hand, my right in his left, so HIS right hand is free to protect me while his left guides my walk in his ways. V.10 is quoted in the Brit HaDashah, and the church takes only that as fulfillment of this verse. But it deals with any who have been set apart by Y’hovah and who set themselves apart unto Y’hovah. We often see the heroes of the faith as ‘holier’ than us, but that is not true. If Y’hovah has set you apart, and you set yourself apart from the world system, you are every bit as holy as David or Avraham or Moshe. In our Torah portion today, Y’hovah preserved his holy one from corruption, didn’t he? (Isn’t it amazing that this works out every week – that the psalm which is read just falls in its order, has something pertinent to say about the Torah portion and/or the haftarah?) When he has us by the hand, he shows us the path of life; Derech Chaim. When we have life from Y’hovah, we are in his presence and we are full of joy and the pleasures of life will be ours without end.
We will see Avraham’s joy filled next week in the Torah portion. He never again wavers in his faith, but is cemented to Y’hovah. He doesn’t keep moving on that cycle, but is riveted to the top of that roller coaster. He will not move again. It WILL be that way with us in the Olam Haba. It CAN be that way with us, if we’ll trust Y’hovah as Avraham did from the moment his wife conceived.
Everyone who has been praying for me since my ‘accident’ should have that kind of faith right now, because Y’hovah has proved that HE is faithful to perform his promises to those who are faithful to obey his instructions. I think that was the MAIN purpose for my minor trouble – so HE could build YOUR faith (and mine). Baruch Hashem Y’hovah! Q&C
Gal.3.15-25 – Paul opens this passage telling his audience that he is speaking as a man, not under inspiration of Yah, but by his reason. Even a covenant confirmed between ‘just guys’ can’t be nullified or added to, except all parties agree to the change. Avraham received the covenant from Y’hovah, but had no personal part in it. The covenant was to Avraham and his seed. Paul makes a grammarical point that the promise was to ‘A’ seed, not lots of seeds. IOW, when Y’hovah told him, “In Yitzhak will your seed be called”, Ishmael was not counted of the seed. So the line through which the ultimate seed, Mashiyach, would come was through Yitzhak, Ya’akov and Yehuda, all the way to Yoseph, the husband of Miriam and the legal, rightful heir to David’s throne.
Now that covenant is not annulled just because there is a subsequent covenant. In fact, Y’hovah’s covenants are cumulative – one adds to another. The Torah covenant that was codified at Sinai did not annul Avraham’s covenant. And no subsequent covenant annuls the Sinai covenant. IOW, the ‘New Covenant’ does not nullify any covenant given before it, unless there is a specific agreement between all parties concerned. And inheritance is not by works of Torah, since that would nullify the promise given 400 years before.
So what is the purpose of the Law? More importantly, what is the law Paul is speaking about? The law spoken of in v.19 is the one that YirmeYahu speaks of in 7.21-24,
Thus saith Y’hovah Tzavaoth, Elohim of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. 22 For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices: 23 But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be Elohechem, and ye shall be ami: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you. (Ex.19.5-6) 24 But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward. (YirmeYahu 7.21-24)
It is the laws of burnt offerings for transgressions and the laws pertaining to the Levitical priesthood who would offer them that was added to the covenant entered into at Sinai. These laws were changed, annulled, when the Melchizedek priesthood was revived by Yeshua’s death and resurrection, for he is ‘a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek’. (Heb.7.17, which is the beginning of the context for ch.8).
Y’hovah hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. (Psalms 110:4)
17 For he testifieth, Thou a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. (Hebrews 7.17-18)
Notice that it is the commandment that was disannulled. Webster’s 1828 has this for ‘disannul’
Disannul differs from repeal as the genus from the species. A repeal makes a law void by the same power that enacted it. Annulment or disannulment destroys its force by repeal or some other means.
Y’hovah didn’t repeal the Levitical laws or the atonement of Yom Kippur. Through the death and resurrection of Yeshua, Y’hovah made them inefficacious; useless to justification.
So what is the purpose of the law that was added? To make atonement for sins so we could be ‘blameless’ until the perfect atonement would come to make us righteous in him – Yeshua haMashiyach
And for this reason he became the Mediator of the Renewed Covenant,48 that he might by his death be redemption to them who had transgressed the first (Sinai) covenant; so they who are called to the eternal inheritance might receive the Promise. (Heb.9.15 AENT). (cf. note 244 at Matt.26.28 AENT)
Who was the mediator of the Levitical law? Moshe, who was the mediator of every encounter with Y’hovah in the Wilderness Adventure – Israel ASKED him to mediate so they wouldn’t have to get near Y’hovah. Wooses.
So, are the laws for sacrifices and the priesthood AGAINST the promises of Elohim? No way, dude! If there were any law that could have given life, righteousness would have been from law-keeping. The law that was added was given to show us our need for a deliverer. Righteousness is by grace through faith and that faith is not ours, but Yeshua’s. Faith is action based on belief in the truth of Torah, not just mental assent to Torah’s truth. Torah here speaks of all revealed scripture, not merely I-V Moshe.
The sacrificial law guarded our hearts before we were given the faith of Yeshua (Eph.2.8-10). It was a hedge built around us to warn us of the consequences of sin. ‘Shut up’ means ‘held together’. The Levitical law held us together until we could come to the faith of Yeshua. This law that was added was our schoolmaster, not the Sinai Covenant and other Toroth.
Torah is the way we know what to do and what not to do. The law that was added was to keep us blameless before a just and righteous Elohim if we transgressed the Torah. So, the law of the priesthood and sacrifices for transgressions was the schoolmaster showing us the penalty for sin and warning us away from it.
Did you ever go to school? Did you ever have a teacher, or a tutor? If they taught you something that was true and worthwhile, did you abandon it just because you were no longer in school or being tutored? NO! You carried them with you and treasured them so that you could abide in them.
Now that we have Yeshua’s faith, we have no need of sacrificial laws – they are completed in Messiah. V.24 shows us that before we had faith, our lawful actions were a vain ritual; religious acts for the sake of religion that had no efficacy towards us, though they may have pointed us toward the truth. Once we came to faith in Yeshua, we could live out that faith in obedience to the Torah, the Word of Y’hovah that brought us face to face with our need for deliverance.
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (Hebrews 10:26)
Thus, we do not abandon the teachings of Torah, for we now show forth our faith by obedience to them. To offer an offering for atonement after Yeshua’s death and resurrection is just murdering an innocent animal for nothing AND walking on the blood of Yeshua AND despising the Spirit of grace (Heb.10.29). I can think of no better definition of blaspheming Ruach haKodesh than despising him; thinking that the Spirit of stimulation, motivation, perpetuation and revelation of Y’hovah Yeshua’s Creation is useless. Q&C
End of Shabbat Bible Study