April 11, 2015 Shabbat Bible Study

April 11, 2015 Shabbat Bible Study

©2015 Mark Pitrone and Fulfilling Torah Ministries

Year 3 Sabbath 5 

Numbers 12:1-16 – (No Prophet) – Psalm 104 – Romans 11:22-13:7





B’Midbar 12.1-16 – Ethiopian woman? Was Tzipporah Ethiopian? I thought she was Yithro’s daughter, and he was a Midianite. Maybe there’s something wrong with the xlation? The word is actually Cushite and that is a direct transliteration from Hebrew to English. Did Moshe marry another woman while Tzipporah was at Yithro’s home? See the prefatory notes and the note to v.1 in Stone’s Chumash on p.84. Rashi’s commentary on the word being numerically equivalent to a phrase seems a stretch to me and y’all know I am open to mystical interpretations. That one is just a bit ‘out there’ to me, though it can be seen as a basis for Rashi’s argument that the discussion between Aharon and MirYam was based on Moshe’s LACK of familial relations with Tzipporah. I still see it as a stretch, though, because there is no biblical evidence that Tzipporah or her sons were even there after Yithro left Israel for Midian. Whatever the REASON for MirYam’s denouncement of Moshe to Aharon and both their wondering why Moshe was ‘better’ than they were (had they not both received prophecy from Y’hovah?), there are a number of things that occur right away that indicate Y’hovah’s displeasure with both Miryam and Aharon.

The parenthetical of v.3 is the first thing that’s different. Y’hovah makes sure that Moshe is seen in the proper light. He is exceedingly meek, more than any person ever (until Yeshua). Often, people mistake meekness for weakness. They are NOT comparable. Weakness of character often displays as arrogant bluster that one really can’t back up. Meekness is a quiet, unobtrusive confidence. 

Have you ever seen the movie, Blind Side? Michael Oher is meek, but he is NOT weak. He is an ensample, just a taste, of the meekness of Moshe. His ‘homeys’ got a taste of what meekness is when they threatened his family. Just because you CHOOSE not to openly display your strength doesn’t mean you don’t possess it. Often, when people put on a flagrant display of power they are showing their sense of inferiority or weakness of character, as with Michael Oher’s homeys. He displayed his strength when he needed to.

Kinda like MirYam and Aharon. I think that they had a sense of inferiority or jealousy, which worked itself out in this lashon hara. Y’hovah wanted to nip this kind of thing in the bud. It is likely they would have gone ahead with this same slander in the camp, had Y’hovah not stopped it conclusively. 

In v.4, the 2nd different thing happened. Y’hovah calls out all 3 Amramsons to the tent of meeting for … well … a meeting. He called each individually, and, when they had all arrived, the 3rd different thing occurred – he called Aharon and MirYam OUT of the tent and left Moshe INSIDE, intimating that Moshe was preferred over the other 2. Y’hovah wanted a private confab with Miryam and Aharon where all the people could witness the results. He lifted the cloud off the Mishkan and rested it in the door of the tent and said (in a ‘Mark’ paraphrase), ‘When I speak to a prophet, I will show him a dream or a vision. But when I speak to Moshe, I do so face to face as man does with his friend, NOT in a dream or vision. Have I ever before spoken to you face to face? (Hmm! The 4th ‘different thing’) And I will not again. But with Moshe I have, I do, and I shall. How could it be that you didn’t fear to speak against him?’ Then he lifted the cloud from the door of the tent and rested it on the Mishkan – and, (to quote Jonathan Winter’s character, Mollie Frickert), MirYam was a leper, white as snow “ALL-ll-ll over my bo-o-dy!” 

Now, I think that MirYam was singled out because she instigated the slanderous dialogue against Moshe. When Aharon looked at her, he was frightened because he knew exactly what he was seeing and also knew that at this stage of leprosy, death is immanent. So he went to Moshe as the intercessor (I think he learned his lesson pretty quickly, don’t you?) and asked him to not allow MirYam to die. Moshe spoke right up, “Please, El, heal MirYam now!” Y’hovah told Moshe, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be humbled for 7 days? Put her out of the camp for that long and then let her back into the camp. She’ll be an example for Israel.” And so, MirYam was put outside the camp for 7 days, and probably had to mikvah before returning to the camp. The inference is that MirYam was healed instantly at Moshe’s plea. After having witnessed all this from pretty close proximity, it surprises me that Korach and Dathan essentially did the same thing not many days later. Korach and Dathan MAY have been nice guys, but they were “ot-nay oo-tay ight-bray”, if you know what I mean! Q&C

No Prophet 

Tehellim 104 – Ps.104 rehearses the Creation poetically. The psalm opens with a blessing on Y’hovah: “Bar’chi naphshi et-Y’hovah Y’hovah Elohai! Gadal’tha m’od hod v’hadar lavash’tha” – My blessing, my soul, are Y’hovah’s! Y’hovah my El! You are very great! Glory and majesty are your clothing!” He wears is glory and his majesty like a garment. That garment is his Creation. We cannot perceive him with our mortal senses, but we can witness his greatness by what he has created. And his first creation, where once there was nothing, was light. The argument can be made that he then ‘condensed’ that light energy to make matter because it is true that E=mc2. The initial light itself is the ultimate manifestation of the glory and majesty of Y’hovah. The matter that he ‘condensed’ from that light is a derived manifestation of his majesty and glory. When he first created Adam did he give him a ‘skin of light’ similar to his own? When Adam fell, was the ‘skin of flesh’ that he gave us merely the uncovering of our flesh by removing the ‘skin of light’, or the addition of a lambskin as a substitution for the death that was due us as a wage for our sin? Or is the answer “Yes!” 

V.3 seems to speak of the pre-flood ‘vapor canopy’ or something of the sort. Stone’s Tanakh has, “He who roofs his upper chambers with water.” A thick vapor canopy helps explain a lot of pre-flood differences from our present experience, like long lifetimes that approach 1000 years. If there was such a thing, it would filter radiation in all spectra and decrease or eliminate any harm they would cause and possibly cause the atmosphere to be a hyperbaric chamber, thus creating a more oxygen rich environment and a sort of ‘greenhouse effect’. The hyperbaric effect could also, among other things, aid the healing of wounds and oxygen absorption. Wings of the wind could also be ‘wings of the Spirit (ruach),’ perhaps a reference to Y’hovah’s omnipresence, the perceived speed with which Y’hovah can ‘move’ from place to place. The last couple of weeks we’ve likened the wheels within wheels in Ezekiel 1 to the camp of Israel in the Wilderness and the movement of the camp to the movement of Y’hovah and the angels in Zeke’s vision. Vv.3-4 could be doing so again – His malachim being ministering spirits (ruchot) and ‘flaming fire’. 

Vv.5- The earth cannot be destroyed by any other force than the one who created it. We can kill every living thing on it by our own ‘power’, but we cannot remove the earth itself. We just don’t have the juice. Y’hovah keeps trying to awaken us to this fact by some of the natural disasters he sends our way. He’s told us that they are a natural consequence of our disobedience, but we fail to heed his warnings and we continue on in defiance. He gave us a warning in Noach’s flood, which we, in our arrogance, refuse to heed. There is evidence to the flood, not the least of which is the universal reference thereto in every culture on earth, that the ‘worldly-wise’ refuse to acknowledge as such. When the time was right the floods receded at Y’hovah’s command. We talked about the Grand Canyon last week. 

By the time the river enters the Grand Canyon, at Lee’s Ferry, its altitude has fallen to 3,110 feet, dropping over one mile since its beginning. The river will drop another 2,200 feet before it reaches the other end of the Grand Canyon, the Grand Wash Cliffs, 277 miles away.

The Canyon is a mile deep in places. If it enters at a level of 3110 and leaves at 2200, how could it possibly have carved through over 4000 feet of rock ABOVE its entry level that it encountered, as our ‘scientist’ friends hypothesize? How it was possibly formed immediately after the flood, when the waters on the Northeastern end of the canyon ‘burst the earthen or lava dam’ holding them back. The resulting flow of huge volumes of water and the associated cavitation could have formed the Grand Canyon in a matter of HOURS or DAYS. From that source of all objective truth – Wikipedia,

Between 1.8 million and 10,000 years ago, massive flows of basalt from the Uinkaret volcanic field in northern Arizona dammed the Colorado River within the Grand Canyon. At least thirteen lava dams were formed, the largest of which was more than 2,300 feet (700 m) high, backing the river up for nearly 500 miles (800 km) to present-day Moab, Utah.[65] The lack of associated sediment deposits along this stretch of the Colorado River, which would have accumulated in the impounded lakes over time, suggests that most of these dams did not survive for more than a few decades before collapsing or being washed away. Failure of the lava dams caused by erosion, leaks and cavitation caused catastrophic flooding which may have been some of the largest ever to occur in North America, rivaling the ice age Missoula Floods of the northwestern United States.[66] Mapping of flood deposits indicate that crests as high as 700 feet (210 m) passed through the Grand Canyon,[67] reaching peak discharges as great as 17 million cubic feet per second (500,000 m3/s).[68]

After the flood, the waters from the canopy above and the ‘fountains of the Great Deep’ (Gen.7.11) below would have run off to the Seas, or even back into the reservoirs deep under ground. I-80 at the Susquehanna river, near Williamsport, PA, the site of the Little League World Series. V.9 says that he set the boundaries that the waters may not pass over again, reiterating Y’hovah’s promise to not destroy the earth by flood. Q&C

V.10-18 talks about business on earth as usual AFTER the flood, and moves rather effortlessly into it by staying on the water theme. This time he talks about normal runoff of rain and snowmelt that sustains the avian and land-based life on the earth. This is also a gracious provision of the Almighty. The fresh water sustains all the land animals and plants on earth and the plants provide sustenance for all the animals of the earth, either directly for the vegetarians or indirectly for the carnivores and omnivores. All the wine, oils and plant-derived foods would be non-existent if not for the fresh water that Y’hovah provides, primarily by precipitation. Even the ground water is replenished by precipitation that filters through the earth and rock to find its water table. Each creature is placed in the most advantageous place for its lifestyle and survival. 

Vv.19-35 – In v.19 he begins talking about that which is outside the effect of the water that sustains all life on the planet, beginning with that which is extra-planetary. The moon was placed in its orbit, not just to set apart the months, but the seasons. Not that it causes the seasons of the year (that’s the sun’s job), but it marks, in conjunction with the solar season that is defined by the condition of the crops and their development, like barley that was planted in the fall of the previous year marks the beginning of spring, the biblical ‘seasons’, or moedim – appointments that Y’hovah has commanded us to observe. He set the planets and their satellites and the stars into motion to mark of the biblical times and to be a witness to his plan for the ages, not things by which we tell individuals’ futures, but the general plan for the history he has already created, and completed. He ‘formed’ the light and when other things were created and set into motion, the relative position of those things relative to the light source created the light/darkness cycle we witness on a daily basis. When the sun goes down, the nocturnal animals go out to hunt their food. When the sun comes up the nocturnals go back to their dens and the diurnal animals take their turn hunting their food. Men were made for the ‘day shift’, to work by light of day and sleep by dark of night. What men are about at night are more likely predators or those we hire to protect us from the predators. It was all set into motion by the Creator, Y’hovah Almighty, even the sea creatures that were not destroyed by the flood. 

Leviathan, the dragon, represents haSatan, who ‘plays’ in the sea, which represents the world’s system. We see him in Job.41

Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? (Job 41:1)

Thou brakest the heads of leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wilderness. (Psalms 74:14)

In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea. (Isaiah 27:1)

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. (Revelation of John 12:3)

All the things that he wondered at were under Y’hovah’s ultimate control, except the men to whom he allowed free will to throw monkey wrenches into the works. But even at that, he knows all the possible choices we can make and has a work-around to meet them and move his plan forward. We only gather for our sustenance that which he bestows. When we throw the monkey wrenches into the works, he causes first minor and then more and worse calamities to befall us until we either turn back to him or we decide he isn’t worth it. That is when he turns his back to us. But even then he doesn’t leave us. He’s there waiting for us to awaken to our troubles and their source and, like the Prodigal, come to ourselves and reason it out that we would be better off servants in our father’s house than kings of our own, rather limited, domain. His glory will endure. It still shows itself in the earthquakes and volcanoes, the storms and droughts. It is incumbent on us to recognize the source and reason for the both the good and the bad that happens around us, and that it is Y’hovah’s gracious provision that sends all our circumstances. We need to give him the glory in the good times and the bad, because 

…we know that all things work together for good to them that love Elohim, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

So, witness to Y’hovah’s greatness, but do not fret that those to whom we witness do not receive our testimony. They know the truth in their heart of hearts and reject Y’hovah, not us. Q&C

We just looked at Rom.12 the week before last. We hit highlights only because we had another chapter to look at. I will leave it up to you if you want me to go over it again, or jump to ch.13. 

Romans 11.18-13.7 – What follows is taken from my study in the book of Romans, prepared as a weekly bible study over the course of 4+ years between 2004 – 2009. As we did a few weeks ago, we’ll just hit some of the highlights or we’ll be here a couple of weeks. We’ll begin in 11.18.

11.18 – How can anyone boast of his recent engrafting against those whom Y’hovah has been cultivating for 2000 years? Seems a bit arrogant to me, and to Sha’ul, as well. Some Gentiles incorrectly believed (and believe), that because the Jews had rejected Moshiach, Y’hovah had rejected them. But ‘the gifts and calling of Y’hovah are without repentance’ (v.29). Y’hovah NEVER repents of a call made or a gift given. He’ll test our faithfulness. He’ll send trials to see how we’ll respond in relation to his gifts and calling. That’s called pruning. But he will NEVER repent of having gifted or called either you, me, or Yisrael. 

Vv.19-24 Sha’ul anticipates their argument and cuts it off (no pun intended). Follows a ‘Mark Paraphrase’: “Well, you just said they were broken off to make room for me.” “That is well”, he replies, “They have been put on a siding due to unbelief, while you stand in your faith. But don’t let that knowledge puff you up to thinking you are better than them. You ought to tremble. If Elohim has broken off the natural branches from the tree he’s been cultivating for over 1500 years (at the time he wrote Romans) to make room for you, on whom he’s not given all that effort, what makes you think he won’t break you off to make room for them, if they repent and you turn your back on him?” In Rev.2, Yeshua says very much the same thing to the church at Ephesus as he calls them to repentance:

5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

First Works? I think it’s talking about Torah, sans Talmud and traditions.

There are 2000 yr. old olive trees. They grow until they die or are cut down. So he can graff them in right alongside us. There’s plenty of room. So don’t get haughty about your engrafting into the olive tree and their shunting to a siding. They will ‘take’ a lot easier than you did, for they are the natural branches. And even in their unbelief, they can teach us wonderful things of Y’hovah that Yeshua and Paul knew, but that we have lost in our arrogant attitude relative to them. 

(http://tzion.org/Tree_Sefiroth.htm) Remember our discussion of the Sephiroth tree a while back? The rabbis had/have this idea of a tree with the ‘ayn soph’ – ‘the One who is unknowable’ or, literally, ‘without end’ – above it, energizing it and directing it. The Sephiroth tree is an attempt to understand and explain Y’hovah Elohim in his various aspects or emanations. In the Sephiroth, these emanations are in groups of 3 and on 3 levels between the Kingdom on earth and the ayn soph. Paul makes a reference to the center level of this Sephiroth tree when he says, “Behold the goodness and the severity of Elohim”. Superimposed on the tree is a representation of a man standing on the earthly Kingdom (Y’hovah’s Bride, the earth is his footstool, Is.66.1) with his arms outstretched, his right hand (Y’hovah’s grace) resting on the emanation of mercy/goodness and his left hand (Elohim’s justice) resting on the emanation of his severity/judgment. (It looks kind of like a man crucified on a tree.)

That center level has the goodness/mercy of Y’hovah on the right hand side of the tree (as we look at a representation of the tree it is on our left), while the severity/judgment of Elohim is on the left side of the tree. These are joined in the center of the tree in the beauty, tiphereth, of Y’hovah Elohenu’s Holiness. The beauty of Y’hovah Elohenu is also the center of the man’s body – his heart. This is a good graphic illustration of the heart of Y’hovah Yeshua, who is the outworking of Y’hovah Avinu’s mercy and goodness, but has also been given Y’hovah Elohim’s power to judge the earth with severity and righteous judgment. Now, the rabbis won’t make that connection – YET. But many of them will, and soon. Right now, they are receiving his severity and judgment. But remember that judgment doesn’t always end in condemnation – it often ends, as in our cases, with acquittal. That is his mercy and goodness. 

Paul is telling us in ch.11 that chol Yisrael will be acquitted after they are judged in righteousness. When their suffering moves them to repentance and they call out for Y’hovah’s deliverance, he shall deliver them. And their deliverer will be Yeshua, whom they will recognize immediately and welcome with the Words, “Baruch haba b’Shem Y’hovah! – Blessed is he who comes in the Name of Y’hovah”, echoing the crowds that greeted him as he rode into Jerusalem on the foal of an ass:

And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Y’hovah; Hosanna in the highest. (Matthew 21:9)

And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Y’hovah: Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of Y’hovah: Hosanna in the highest. (Mark 11:9, 10).

“Hosanna” = Hebrew, Hosheanu!, which means “Save us NOW!” Q&C

V.25a – To keep the Gentiles from being all puffed up in their engrafted position in Messiah, Paul is revealing a ‘mystery’ to the Gentile believers in Rome. ‘Mystery’ is from Strong’s #3466 musterion, moos-tay’-ree-on, from a derivative of muo (to shut the mouth); a secret or “mystery” (through the idea of silence imposed by initiation into religious rites): –mystery.” Now, I don’t think this is saying that Paul was initiated into a secret society, like Freemasonry or Skull and Bones. It means this is one of those deep things of Elohim that he speaks about in I Cor.2:10:

But Elohim hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of Elohim.

We have discussed briefly before the rabbinic doctrine of PaRDeS, which says that there are 4 levels of understanding of the scriptures. 

The first level is the pashat, which is the concrete, literal, exactly what’s written on the page understanding. Pashat is the bedrock on which all the other understandings lie. If any understanding or interpretation of the verse or passage contradicts the pashat, it is invalid. This is, generally speaking, the Baptistic understanding – if it isn’t written out in black and white it’s not scriptural truth, and no matter how much you try to expand their scope of understanding, they will resist it, usually by denouncing you as an heretic. This I know from personal experience.

The second level of understanding is remez, which is a hint at the deep things of Y’hovah. The words on the page often allude to something much deeper or hidden. It is a hint at the ‘deep things of Elohim’. We have seen a bunch of these in Romans already. In Rom.1.18ff, we see that the creation itself is a hint at the existence of the ayn soph, ‘the one who is unknowable’- he who is literally ‘without end’; we spoke of a few minutes ago. Every time Paul speaks of one of the emanations or characteristics of the ayn soph he is giving a hint at understanding him. To many, these emanations are themselves very deep concepts, but in reality they are hints at the deepest of all the deep things of Elohim – himself. 

The third level of understanding is the D’rash, which is the personal life application of the verse or passage. This is where the Ruach, the Spirit of Y’hovah, gives us the ability to apply the truth to ourselves or to those whom we counsel. Paul often does this, as well. 1Cor.5 comes to mind, where he counsels the elders at Corinth to put the man out of the kahal who is having carnal knowledge with his father’s wife. This is an application of a commandment of Torah, which was seen as an action of Ya’akov when he removed the birthright from Reuben who had gone in to Bilhah, his father’s concubine and his brother’s mother. Our sin affects ALL of our descendants, as happened to Reuben. He was held responsible for his own sin, but the consequence of that sin passed on to his seed as well. When we compare scripture with scripture like that and see how it applies to us or those around us we have engaged in midrash, expounding on the meaning of scripture. A good sermon is always a good midrash. Mi = with, d’rash = application. 

Often, expounding on scripture will reveal the fourth level of understanding – sod, which is the hidden meaning – the mystery. This is where Paul is going in our passage. There is, for example, nowhere in Tanakh that states plainly that Messiah must suffer before men, be crucified and die for the sins of the world. It’s hinted at in remez, but never stated plainly. However, many rabbis BEFORE Yeshua’s appearing believed that was in fact how the nation would be delivered from sin and into the olam haba – the world to come. They always saw Messiah as a national deliverer (which he is), not a personal Saviour. Yeshua’s own talmidim didn’t get it, even AFTER the 40 day Yeshiva with the risen Messiah before his ascension. Look at Lk.24.13-35 and zero in on: 

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Messiah to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Notice that he ‘expounded’, he applied one prophetic scripture and its meaning to another prophetic scripture and its meaning and arrived at a conclusion that Messiah was certainly spoken of in Tanakh, it just was not understood BEFORE his crucifixion and resurrection. Often a sod teaching is not understood until AFTER the deeply covered prophecy has already occurred. Once it is shown to a person who knows the pashat of the prophet how Y’hovah made all things work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose, he flattens his forehead and says, “How could I have missed it?” He missed it because he needed an event to happen to supply the insight. OR we need to be in intimate communication with our Creator (but even then it is not a ‘done deal’ – we need to be open to the truth he is revealing). But even after the 40-day yeshiva with their Creator and risen Saviour, they were STILL asking if he would restore the Kingdom now! (Acts 1.6) They were looking for Israel’s national redemption right then, not the personal redemption of everyone who believes, which adds to the size of the nation. 

V.25.b – “Blindness in part” means their blindness is not total. Yehuda had become myopic, not totally blind. They could still see deep truths of scripture, even of the nature of Elohim, but the rabbis were given over to blindness concerning the person and work of Messiah. The Jews – the leaders of the Hebrew religion – would not accept that Yeshua was Moshiach ben Yoseph, especially knowing that he ‘was of the house and lineage of David’ (Lk.2.4). What they failed to see was the mystery that Paul is revealing in this passage, that in order to bring the 10 tribes out of bondage Messiah had to fulfill the office of the son of Yoseph, which was to bring them back to the faith once delivered to the saints. He did this by placing Judah on a siding for the time being while he brought in the multitude of Nations, the melo hagoyim and the fullness of the gentiles.

In Gen.48, Ya’akov told Yoseph that Ephraim would be greater than his older bro (a theme in scripture – the younger being greater in faith and practice than the elder) and that his seed would become a ‘multitude of nations’. The Hebrew phrase here is ‘melo hagoyim’, which also can be translated, ‘fullness of the gentiles’. Melo is the Strong’s 

#4393 mlo’ mel-o’ rarely mlowf {mel-o’}; or mlow (Ezekiel 41:8), {mel-o’}; from 4390; fulness (literally or figuratively): –X all along, X all that is (there-) in, fill, (X that whereof…was) full, fulness, (hand-) full, multitude. see HEBREW for 04390

#4390 male’ maw-lay’ or malae (Esth. 7:5) {maw-law’}; a primitive root, to fill or (intransitively) be full of, in a wide application (literally and figuratively): –accomplish, confirm, + consecrate, be at an end, be expired, be fenced, fill, fulfil, (be, become, X draw, give in, go) full (-ly, -ly set, tale), (over-) flow, fulness, furnish, gather (selves, together), presume, replenish, satisfy, set, space, take a (hand-) full, + have wholly.

M’lo is only translated ‘multitude’ one other time, in Is.31:

3 Now the Egyptians are men, and not Elohim; and their horses flesh, and not spirit. When Y’hovah shall stretch out his hand, both he that helpeth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down, and they all shall fail together. 4 For thus hath Y’hovah spoken unto me, Like as the lion and the young lion roaring on his prey, when a multitude of shepherds is called forth against him, he will not be afraid of their voice, nor abase himself for the noise of them: so shall Y’hovah Tzavaoth come down to fight for mount Zion, and for the hill thereof.

The shepherds he is speaking of there are the generals of the troops coming against Y’hovah Yeshua at Armageddon. The lion and the young lion both speak of Messiah, who is not afraid of the ‘fullness of shepherds’, or all the generals of the NWO, ‘called forth against him’. 

So, comparing scripture with scripture, the multitude of nations and the fullness of the gentiles coming in must mean all the gentiles called forth TO him. That’s Ephraim. And that is the message and the ministry of Moshiach ben Yoseph. Moshiach ben Yoseph has been calling forth the melo hagoyim ever since his ministry on earth. When they have all responded to the call, either positively or negatively, he will set up, as Moshiach ben David, the Kingdom that his talmidim and the entire nation of Yehuda were looking for. 

The word male is only translated once as multitude in Jer.12.6. In that passage, their leaders have called all the multitude of the NWO nations to ‘weary’ Y’hovah’s people. 

5 If thou hast run with the footmen, and they have wearied thee, then how canst thou contend with horses? and if in the land of peace, wherein thou trustedst, they wearied thee , then how wilt thou do in the swelling of Jordan? 6 For even thy brethren, and the house of thy father, even they have dealt treacherously with thee; yea, they have called a multitude (male) after thee: believe them not, though they speak fair words unto thee. 

I think this prophecy is warning Israel and Judah to not trust the ‘land of peace’, for that nation will turn against Israel in the end of days. I think this speaks of the United States. The US will weary Israel. The US is largely made up of descendants of the 10 tribes, Judah’s brothers and the firstborn of Jacob, according to Gen.48. The US will call ‘the multitude’ (male), the NWO armies, against the land of Israel in what may be the prophecy of Ezek.38-39 coming to pass. This is coming soon to Y’hovah’s people living in the political nation of Israel. Do you think they’ll listen to this prophecy? Not until they come to the end of themselves and realize their need for Y’hovah’s deliverance from the hole they’ve dug themselves. I think this may be coming to pass very soon. When they call on his Name, he will respond with his Deliverance. Their blindness will end when they ‘look upon him whom they have pierced’ (Zech.12.10). Q&C

V.26 – Notice that AFTER the fullness of the Gentiles come in, all Yisrael is saved. Juxtapose this verse with Eph.2.11-18 and our passage above, vv.13-24. All Yisrael includes all believers of all time, every person who has placed his trust in the Name of Y’hovah to deliver him from his bondage to sin and exile. This statement, ‘chol Yisrael y’shuato’ could not have been true until the melo hagoyim was brought in. 

Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! when Y’hovah bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad. (Psalms 14:7)

Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When Elohim bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad. (Psalms 53:6)

And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Y’hovah, to the house of the Elohim of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the Torah, and the word of Y’hovah out of Jerusalem. (Isaiah 2:3)

For out of Jerusalem shall go forth a remnant, and they that escape out of mount Zion: the zeal of Y’hovah Tzavaoth shall do this. (Isaiah 37:32)

Y’hovah also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but Y’hovah will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. (Joel 3:16) 

Ha Tikvah, The Hope, is Israel’s national anthem. The hope of Yisrael is the ingathering of the exiles that will be accomplished by Moshiach Yeshua. THAT is the blessed hope; the glorious appearing of Moshiach bringing in his sheaves with him. Guess who the sheaves are. Ps.126 says the sheaves are those whose captivity Y’hovah has turned to liberty. Jews and Gentiles in Moshiach = chol Yisrael, the saved from exile and slavery.

V.27 is a continuation of v.26; Paul has added to the passage he quoted. Is.59:

20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Y’hovah. 21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Y’hovah; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Y’hovah, from henceforth and for ever.

Paul quotes v.20-21a, then adds “when I shall take away their sins.” When will he take away their sins? When will Y’hovah take away Yisrael’s sins? Has he done so, already? Spiritually and metaphorically, he has. But in our experience we know this is yet to be fully accomplished in us (though it should be more real in our lives daily). So when will he take away our sins? 

Look at the rest of Is.59.21. When will Y’hovah’s word be ever present on our lips, as well as on the lips of our children and grandchildren? When he takes away our sins. Our seed and our seed’s seed can only be spiritual or metaphorical today, as is our part in Avraham’s covenant (Gal.3), but in eternity, on the new earth and in the new heavens, it will also be physical reality, when both we and our faithful literal, as well as our spiritual, offspring will both have his Spirit and have his Word forever on their lips.

In effect, Paul has taken the covenant with Yisrael, that he would not remove his Word from Isaiah or his seed forever and applied that promise to all Yisrael – His Spirit will be upon ALL Yisrael, not just Yeshayahu. Y’hovah’s Words will be on our lips, and those of our children and their children forever. The timing is in the millennial Kingdom and in eternity beyond, when the New Covenant with both the houses of Israel and Judah will be fully accomplished. This can ONLY be after he has drawn the lost and scattered sheep of the house of Israel out of the nations.  

Vv28-32 – Paul is still speaking about the Jews to the Gentiles in Rome. He is still giving instruction to the Gentiles who have come to the faith of Yeshua directly from paganism, and admonishing them for their attitude of superiority over the Jews. He’s already told them to fear, lest any of them be cut off from Y’hovah’s fellowship due to unbelief, even as many from Judah have been. These are made enemies so the wild branch Gentiles could be graffed into the cultivated tree. But they are NOT forsaken. They can be graffed back in, for they are STILL elect and beloved of Y’hovah for their father’s sake, for the gifts (the promises given to Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya’acov) and the calling (of Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya’acov) of Y’hovah are without repentance. Y’hovah has not ‘recalled the call’ to chol Yisrael. All those who heed it will be graffed in. Notice that they ARE beloved for the father’s sake is present tense. Not ‘will be’ or ‘were’, but ‘are’. This goes to the attitude of the Gentile believers in Rome (and America as well).

He recalls to the minds of the Gentiles that, even as THEY were once without Elohim in the world system but have now obtained mercy, so it shall be with Judah. He has ‘concluded’ Judah in unbelief in Moshiach. ‘Concluded’ does not mean that this is the final conclusion to the story of Yehuda. ‘Concluded’ is from Greek sugkleio, to ‘close together’. Have you ever wondered why it is that Jews have always lived in closed communities? Many think the root is anti-Semitism or Israel’s self-segregation; that the Gentiles didn’t want them to live among them or that they didn’t want to live among the gentiles, but this verse shows us that those are symptoms, not causes. The cause is Y’hovah’s sugkleio, HE has ‘closed them together’ so that he may more easily graff them back into the natural tree when they call on him for his deliverance. This has been a two-edged sword, for Judah has suffered much persecution, and it was easier for the persecutors due to that segregation. But the persecution was not so much a punishment for their unbelief as protection for their partial faithfulness. I think persecution is a vindictive, satanic act because of their position in Y’hovah’s plan and their obstinate adherence to their faith in his promises. 

Sha’ul concludes the chapter with an insight into the very nature of Elohim and a benediction on Y’hovah. When Paul speaks of the ‘depth of the wisdom and knowledge of Elohim’, he is realizing for himself just how much Y’hovah loves his people Yisrael, regardless the ‘house’ they are from. I think that he recognized that what he has just explained is from the Spirit of Y’hovah, but didn’t fully comprehend it himself until just then and was in awe of Y’hovah’s mercy as he grasped the gracious implications. 

Paul uses the Pharisee’s tool of Midrash again to make the point of the incomprehensible nature of Elohim. He takes 2 seemingly unrelated speeches from the book of Job and jams them together:

Which doeth great things and unsearchable; marvellous things without number: (Job 5:9)

This is Eliphaz speaking to Job. 

Which doeth great things past finding out; yea, and wonders without number. (Job 9:10)

This is Job answering Bildad. 

The ‘wisdom’ of the Almighty, as we see in the illustration of the Tree of Sephiroth, is the primary attribute of the Father. When this attribute is combined with the primary attribute of Ruach haKodesh, which is the understanding of the Almighty, the result is the primary attribute of the Tzaddik Son, knowledge of the Almighty. This is not only the knowledge possessed by Y’hovah, but to know him intimately. Yeshua said;

O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. (John 17:25)

The more one knows the Father, the more like Yeshua he is and the greater the reward he receives. Conversely those who do not know Y’hovah receive his wrath.

Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen that have not known thee, and upon the kingdoms that have not called upon thy name. (Psalms 79:6)

The world has not known the Father; the heathen have not known the Father. Those people and kingdoms that know not Avinu receive his wrath. So, who HAS known the mind of Avinu? Messiah is the wisdom of Y’hovah. Who has been his counselor? Messiah works in the power of the Ruach haKodesh, so Messiah is the Understanding of Elohim. Messiah Yeshua is the perfect embodiment of the mind of Y’hovah Elohenu. And elsewhere we are told that we have the mind of Messiah (1Cor.2.16). Q&C

Romans 12

We just looked at Rom.12 the week before last. We hit highlights only because we had another chapter to look at. I will leave it up to you if you want me to go over it again, or jump to ch.13.

Rom.12 needs to be seen in light of ch.9-11. It does not stand alone.

V.1 – Paul is begging the gentiles in particular to present their bodies (plural) a (singular) living sacrifice. He is continuing on the theme that the gentiles need to be well grounded in basic Torah knowledge before they take any leadership role in the local assembly. He reminds them that Y’hovah is merciful to them AND to the Jews in leadership in the synagogue, and that the leaders of the synagogue have a wealth of Torah knowledge to teach them, even if they do not understand who Messiah is, yet. He is asking the gentiles to be as merciful to the leadership, as Y’hovah is to all of them, in both engrafting the gentiles and the future engrafting of the broken off branches that are lying there awaiting their chastisement’s end, which will be when they come to the end of themselves and call out to Y’hovah for his deliverance – Hosheanu! 

For that is the mercy by which he beseeches them. Mercies = graffing due to the faith of Messiah, as seen in 11.28-32. We were not graffed in by any merit of ours, but by the merit of Yeshua haMoshiach. HE has done it. HE has had both the faith and the perfect works to merit his eternal life, which he of course had from the foundation of the earth because he is Y’hovah. Then he ‘marries’ us and we become a part of him. He becomes our covering and what is his becomes ours.

For…. the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy (set-apart, sanctified). (I Corinthians 7:14)

Faith in the Hebraic way of thinking is not mere assent to a few concepts. It’s not just an abstract. In the Hebraic mind, faith includes the resulting actions of that assent as evidence that the faith of Yeshua has ‘taken’ in us. Heb.11 speaks of faith, defines it as “The substance of things HOPED for; the evidence of things not seen.” Can you see faith? Of course you can – in the actions that accompany it, which are evidence of your belief. Can you see hope? Of course you can – in the actions that come as a result of it. The actions of believers that are based in faith and hope may seem stupid to the casual observer, but they make perfect sense to the actor and to those in fellowship with him. So, when you make preparations or teach the truth based on your understanding of ‘the blessed hope’, the result is substantial. That substance may be material or spiritual, but it is real in either case. 

Rav Sha’ul speaks of ‘reasonable service’ to the entire kahal (congregation), but to the gentile believers in particular. He asks them to submit to the authority of the elders of the synagogue – their living sacrifice; their reasonable service – so they can learn the truth of Torah. He asks them to use their reason and not react emotionally to the presumably foreign teachers (i.e., Jewish rabbis in Rome). He is not asking them to submit to the traditions of the leadership, but to their Torah instruction. This is seen clearly in v.2, where he says ‘be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…’ The world includes the traditions of the elders, the ‘oral law’ that placed a fence around Torah so that the Jew could not get close enough to it to break it – or keep it. 

We have traditions in the gentile church, as well, that keep us from the Word, and for the same reason – to protect us from transgressing. An example is the biblical prohibition against drunkenness (Eph.5.18), as drunkenness is a counterfeit Spirit-filling. It doesn’t say to not drink alcoholic wine, but to not be drunk with it. In many fundamentalist churches this is taken to mean more than the scripture says – they ADD to the Word of Y’hovah and say to drink anything alcoholic is a sin. I have yet to see such a commandment – except among certain ‘fundamentalists’ who add that one. People go so far as to break fellowship over this fence placed between the believer and the Word of Y’hovah. This is a form of idolatry, making the fence our rule instead of the revealed Word of Elohim. 

We are to be in control of our spirits (1Cor.14.32), hence the prohibition on drunkenness AND the admonition to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. This takes our reason and not our emotion – reasonable service. Q&C

V.2 – We’ve lightly touched on this already. The admonition is ‘be not conformed to this world’. We are to be IN the world, not OF the world (1Cor.5.10). We are to be set apart by our faith and faithfulness to the Word we believe. In this we will be different and it will hopefully be seen in our everyday walk. We should be people of integrity, our word should be our bond (Jms.5.12). There ARE people who are not of faith who have impeccable integrity, but they are VERY few and far between. But we, the people of Y’hovah as a whole, should be characterized by our integrity. If we have no integrity when it comes to things that CAN be seen, how can we be trusted to be truthful about the things that can’t be seen? This is James’ argument about faith restated – show me your faith without works; I’ll show you my faith BY my works (Yacov 2.18). Who is the world more likely to believe? The man of impeccable integrity is whom they will believe. Why does almost noone trust the US government anymore? It lacks integrity. Why does almost noone trust the church anymore? Why the lack of integrity? Because of lack of faith and hope in Y’hovah to deliver what he’s promised. Why does the world not hope in Y’hovah? Because it knows it can’t be trusted, and we tend to project onto others what we believe about ourselves. When we fail to trust Y’hovah, it’s because we know our own lack of integrity and project that onto him.

What do we do about it in our own lives? How do we build up our personal integrity? By being transformed through renewing our minds. Our minds are renewed when we internalize the truth of Elohim’s Word, when we study it and apply it to ourselves and then ACT on it. As we see that HE is faithful to his Word, we begin to trust that he will perform it in us and for us in the future and to act according to his faithfulness in us. As we see him actually do what he’s promised in and through us, our faith in him is built up and we study his Word and apply it to ourselves all the more. Thus, we grow in our desire to be what he would have us be, as he has revealed it to us by his Word. And Y’hovah will ALWAYS give us the desire of our hearts, whether for good or ill. As we WANT to be more like Yeshua, he fulfills that desire in us. Thereby are we ‘conformed to the image of his Son’ (8.29), by the renewing of our minds.  Q&C

What is the purpose of this transformation in us? To ‘prove that good and acceptable and perfect will of Elohim’ in us. To ‘prove’ is to show that something is true. ‘Prove’ is from grk., dokimazo, to test. This is the same word translated ‘try’ in 1Jn.4.1, “…try the spirits, whether they be of Elohim.” So how do we prove the will of Elohim? By walking in his Word. If we obey his Word, he promises us certain blessings. By certain, I do not mean only specific, but absolutely sure and certain, as in “certain, unalienable rights”. Y’hovah has promised, not some hunk of wood made to look like a phallic symbol (church steeple?) or a lump of gold shaped by my own hands to look like a calf. Y’hovah who created the universe with a Word from his mouth has promised and he shall deliver. Try him, if you don’t believe me. Mal.3.

10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith Y’hovah Tzavaoth, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it .

That blessing may or may not be in kind. He may bless you with something or in some area completely unrelated to the specific area in which you are faithful, but it will certainly come. But when you try him and he proves himself true, you WILL be transformed. Your trust will grow. And the more you test his promises, the more he will prove himself true and the more you’ll trust. It won’t be long before you see his blessings to you everywhere and in everything – even the bad stuff haSatan sends to try to get you to doubt Y’hovah, because you’ll know that Rom.8.28 is true. What haSatan means for your ill Y’hovah uses for your good.  And you are made to be MORE like his Son, which IS his good and acceptable and prefect will for you and me. 

So, what will a ‘renewed mind’ look like? The question is not rhetorical. I’d like at least one answer. It’s going to look like Yeshua’s mind in Phil.2.1-8

1 If there be therefore any consolation in Messiah, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Ruach, if any bowels and mercies, 2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Messiah Yeshua: 6 Who, being in the form of Elohim, thought it not robbery to be equal with Elohim: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the tree. 

V.1 has four ‘any’ attributes and v.2 has four admonitions that can be seen in relation to each other. Those verses are an entire sermon unto themselves, so I’ll let it go at that, but here is the mind of Messiah. He thought and thinks nothing of himself. Everything he does is for OUR good who love him and are the called according to his purpose. In the ultimate scheme of things, who is not fulfilling Y’hovah Yeshua’s purpose in his life? That is really not rhetorical either. In one way or another, either by walking in his perfect will for us or by walking in our own ways, we do fulfill his purpose. We can thwart his perfect will in our own lives, but we cannot thwart his PLAN, or purpose. What is Y’hovah’s perfect will for us? It’s for our minds to be like Yeshua’s mind. Ps.40.7-8 shows us Messiah’s mind;

7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the scroll it is written of me, 8 I delight to do thy will, O Elohai: yea, thy Torah is within my heart.   

Didn’t David write that a year or 2 (or 400) before Jeremiah prophesied the ‘New’ Covenant’? If there was no ‘New’ Covenant yet, how could the Torah be written on anyone’s heart? May I say that the ‘New’ Covenant is no different from the ‘Old’? The ‘new’ covenant has to do with a renewed heart in the believer. The commandments were written on tables of stone at Sinai, but in the ‘New’ Covenant they are written on fleshy tables of our hearts (2Cor.3.3). The tables/hearts of stone correspond to the carnal man’s uncircumcised heart. Y’hovah has always commanded us to have our hearts circumcised (Deut.10.16, 30.6). THAT is what Yeshua modeled for us in his walk – a circumcised heart. Do we succeed in walking as Yeshua walked at all times? Not likely. But it should become more and more evident in our walks over time.  Q&C

Vv.3 – The words, ‘of himself’, are supplied by the translators. Don’t think on things or try to do things that you aren’t prepared for. This may lead you to things that will hurt your walk, and to think you can handle the pressure and spiritual attacks that will come at you when you reach a position for which you are not prepared. New converts to Messiah should NEVER be placed in any kind of authority in a kahal (congregation). Our American devotion to ‘Hollywood’, fame, fortune and hero-worship has caused no end of trouble in the lives of famous people who have converted to Messiah. Bob Dylan is probably the most famous American I can recall who has had a conversion to Messiah Yeshua. He was immediately a guest on every ‘Xian’ TV/radio show, and any other media outlet that could contact him. As if the guy didn’t get enough adulation from his screaming fans, NOW he’s got Pat Robertson and Jim Bakker and the whole TBN crowd fawning on him when he should have been studying in quiet and growing in the nurture and admonition of Y’hovah. 

Rav Sha’ul did it right, I think, and was an example that we should emulate. When he was converted on the Damascus road, he didn’t get put on the Nazarite lecture circuit. He didn’t immediately go on a concert tour to promote his new album of ‘Jesus-freak’ music. In Israel, there may not have been a more famous anti-missionary than Paul. He was the top student of the top rabbi in the land. He was the most successful anti-missionary hit-man there was – a Pharisaic ‘James Bond’, as it were. (“Saul. Saul of Tarsus, Agent 001. Licensed to imprison.”) The Notzrei were scared to death of him and for good reason; he had open arrest warrants from the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. It’s no wonder that Ananias tried the Spirit (1Jn.4.1) that gave him the command to go meet him and lay hands on him for healing. Paul gives us the timeline in Gal.1.13ff,

For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the kahal of Elohim, and wasted it: 14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when it pleased Elohim, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 

He went to Arabia for basic training from Ruach haKodesh before he went to the synagogue in Damascus to study Torah and show the rabbis Messiah in the scriptures, which would have gotten him killed had he not written the book on persecution of the kahal. Imagine the personal Yeshiva with the Ruach of Messiah in Arabia! On Sinai?

Have you ever wondered why Saul was so successful at arresting Notzrei? If one were a Jewish follower of Yeshua (and there were absolutely NO gentile believers at the time), where would he be on Shabbat? In the synagogue hearing Torah read and discussed. Unless they were very wealthy, they had no Torah scrolls among themselves. So all Sha’ul had to do was go to the synagogues and round up the ‘Jesus-freaks’, who were all Torah observant. They would obey Y’hovah’s Word even at risk of life and liberty. THAT is faith, my friends – to go despite one’s fear to where there was a virtual certainty of arrest and possibly death (Stephen had been stoned already). But, if you wanted to obey Y’hovah, that was what you needed to do. Would we go to shul under those conditions? 

I would hope so, but in America there has never been a need for worry – YET! That may change soon and suddenly. One morning, you’ll have religious liberty, the next – gone! I see the political landscape of April 2009, and I see our ability to practice our faith about to be squeezed out of existence. In fact, our liberty to even HAVE our faith privately to ourselves, much less in public, is about to be taken from us. “Hate-speech”, AKA preaching and teaching the Word of Y’hovah, is about to become a crime. What we think and believe is about to be policed by ‘authorities’ that have no Constitutional authority to police what we think and say (1st Amendment). “Thought-Police” will soon be at our doors, arresting us for ‘thought-crimes’. Hello, George Orwell. Pleasure to make your acquaintance – NOT!

We need to think soberly, i.e., coolly and rationally, about our place in the kahal. Are we ready to teach? Are we ready to serve in another capacity? Maybe it’d be best if we were taught, growing in the nurture and admonition of Yah for a while, & then serve. Q&C

V.4 – A part of thinking soberly is to look around and see who is best suited to which position in the assembly. Hopefully we do this with our children and we build around their natural talents and abilities. Why would we think it should be different in our kahal? There are varying gifts given in varying degrees in various people. Part of the nurturing process is to determine who is suited for what and to build up that area of his walk, ‘train up a child’ and all that. Remember that Paul is still addressing the gentile believers and their relationship with the rabbis and their (the rabbis) leadership of the synagogue. Spiritual gifts are about to be discussed in that light. Passages about spiritual gifts can be found in 1Cor.12 and Eph.4, but Eph.4.11ff is the better parallel to Rom.12.4ff as it deals more with positions within the kahal than the manifestations of the Spirit. Both the gifts of ministry and the ‘sign’ gifts are important, for they each have the same purpose.

What is the purpose of spiritual gifts? This is not a rhetorical question. I’d like an answer. (Wait for it) The purpose of the gifts of the Spirit is the edifying of the body. Each gift is needed to build the kahal into the image of Messiah, and by that I mean not just the local assembly, but the entire organic body of Messiah in the world. Each person is given each of the gifts of the Spirit in varying degrees. Some prophecy, some help, some are hospitable, some speak in tongues, etc. Each is also given the gift that is most suited to him in the measure it is needed in his congregation. Some are pastors, some are apostles (sent out ones – missionaries to others in need of the gospel or instruction in right living, like Sha’ul), some are teachers. All are for the ‘perfecting of the saints’, ministering to the needs of other kehalim (assemblies) and individuals, and building up the faith of the brethren and their families until when? 

Eph.4.13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of Eloha, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Messiah:

Given the state of the ‘church’ today, how long do you think this will take? It need not take that long, if we’ll accept other believers’ giftings and both teach them what they need and learn from them what we need to be made more perfect in the faith and in faith-fulness. To do this takes humility to listen to what people have to say and glean the truth from within the error they hold to. NONE of us has it all correct. Not even this author (though I hate to admit it). We need to actively listen, not just to shoot down errant teachings (that’s the easy part), but to find truth that we may not yet have understood. Sometimes, that truth may go 1800 from what we’ve been taught. Are we ready to do an about face on our preconceptions and the attitudes we’ve learned to accept the truth from someone we considered an heretic, if it proves true? Am I saying that even Benny Hinn might have something to teach me? As much as I would hate to say it, he could have a salient understanding hidden somewhere among all that tripe that I would never have come upon myself. This takes an open mind to the truth, from whatever source it may come. For this reason, I am loathe to dismiss anyone’s ideas until he proves to be a total reprobate. I DO need to be careful to check words against THE Word, but I also need to be open to the truth of Y’hovah. I mean, I’ll even hear what Sam or Gary have to say.

V.5-8 – Every one members one of another. We are interconnected. What happens to any one of us affects every other one of us and all of us. You may be the right hand and I the left buttock, but if something happens to me it will affect you, and our entire body. It is hard for a body to live without an essential part (like a left buttock), for as lowly as the part may be, when it is missing or not working to its accustomed efficiency, the whole body has to find a way to compensate, and becomes less effective. For that reason, we need to be watchmen for each other, warning each other of potential threats to the health and unity of the body.

Your gifts and my gifts will be different. Each gift is needed in each body. I believe that we are all gifted in every type of spiritual gift, but not all in the same measure in each gift. My strongest gift may be one thing and yours may be another, but we each are gifted in both areas. If my strongest gift is prophecy and yours is administration, that doesn’t mean that I can’t learn or receive a prophecy from you or that I can’t have a valuable suggestion to help you administer the body. We need to listen to each other about everything. This is why I don’t mind so-called ‘rabbit trails’ in our study time, because it is often the rabbit trail that Y’hovah uses to bring the greatest spiritual insight and is what everyone needed to hear and discuss. 

The gifts mentioned here are pretty much self-explanatory. But ‘giving, with simplicity’ may need some interpretation. Simplicity is from the grk Strong’s #

572 haplotes hap-lot’-ace from 573; singleness, i.e. (subjectively) sincerity (without dissimulation or self-seeking), or (objectively) generosity (copious bestowal):–bountifulness, liberal(-ity), simplicity, singleness. see GREEK for 573

Simple giving seems to mean singleness of mind, to be of service without thought of return. This is the way that Elohim gives us grace and faith, and salvation thereby. Our mind needs to be like Yeshua’s, which is like Avinu’s. 

Matt.6.24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve Elohim and mammon. 25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if Elohim so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of Elohim, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

That is the simplicity with which we need to give – and live. Q&C

V.9-13 – Here begins a section of practical instructions on what walking with a renewed mind will look like. 

Love without dissimulation. Dissimulation = hypocrisy. The grk word is anupokritos; an = negation, hupo = underlying (hypo), krinos = critique or judgment. Y’hovah’s love is without underlying criticism, it is without reservation. That is our model for loving, especially the members of our body.

Abhor evil, cleave to good. To abhor is to hate vigorously, from the grk. apostugneto. Apo = the highest degree (apogee = furthest point of a body’s orbit), stugnetos = odious, hateful. Cleave is a funny word, because depending on its context it can mean exactly the opposite of itself. Cleave = hold tight; or cut away. Here it means the former. Grk. Kollao = to glue things together. I wonder if there is an etymological relation to kalle, to call.

Kindly affectioned, with brotherly love. Philostorgos and philadelpia are based in phileo, which is human affection or friendship. Remember Peter in Jn.21? Peter, do you agape me? I phileo you. Storge = familial affection; sibling to sibling, parent to child. So, philostorgos = actually liking your family – no small feat for many. Adelphos = from the womb, i.e.; brother. Philadelphia, then, means actually liking a brother – also, no small feat for many. IOW, we ought to interact as a loving family interacts. My family may be weird, but when we get together, we argue over the stupidest stuff. We holler and make recriminations, but when it’s all over we still like each other. In Messiah we are allowed to disagree, and sometimes vehemently disagree. But that disagreement should not be the source of hatred or bitterness one to another. Each has different experiences that shape his view of the world and of scripture. We ought to listen and calmly consider what the other is saying in light of truth before we dismiss it or them. 

In honor preferring one another. Time = a value or money paid. We are to value each other in Messiah above ourselves, as Messiah values each of us above himself. The word translated ‘preferring’ is Grk. 4285 proegeomai, to lead the way for others; in military parlance, to take the point. What does a ‘point man’ do for his platoon? He blazes a trail, he watches out for the enemy and warns the rest of the group of potential threats to their security, he subordinates his own well being to that of the others. 

Not slothful in business. Slothful is from Grk. 3636 okneros, which means tardy or indolent (lazy). Business does not mean necessarily that by which we earn a living. It is from Grk. 4710, spoude, (speedy?) eagerness, dispatch, earnestness. IOW, when Y’hovah moves on our hearts, we need to MOVE. This puts me in mind of the Olivet Discourse:

15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: 17 Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: 18 Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

We need to be ready at all times to take off in obedience to Y’hovah’s commands, not just physically, but spiritually and emotionally. Hence, the preparedness videos. We need to be ready to do as we are told when we are told. We try to train our children to do this, and it is for their protection. Same with Y’hovah and us. 

Fervent in Spirit. Zeo = hot, boiling liquid or glowing solid. I think the word may be related etymologically to zoe, life. Can you see how the two are related? If this were Hebrew instead of Greek, I’d say they ARE related by virtue of being built from the same letters. This may be a Hebrew word play that translates into greek. Something boiling surely looks to the casual observer to be full of life, like a fish on a hook. Maybe.

Serving Y’hovah. Our service to Y’hovah Yeshua should be characterized by all above (and below). Q&C

Vv.12-13 – Still looking at what our walk should look like. Rejoicing in hope. Biblically, hope is an earnest expectation of Y’hovah’s fulfilling his promises. Rejoicing is from Grk.5463, chairo which is the root for charis – good cheer, cheerful. 

Patient in tribulation. Patient = to stand under, from hupomeno. Meno is to stay in a given place or circumstance. Hupo, as we’ve seen before = under or behind. When we are tried, we need to endure and be steadfast. If we are rejoicing in hope, if we are living our lives based on what Y’hovah has promised us and not on what we see coming at us, we will be better able to stand what comes at us, and be witnesses to the grace of Y’hovah even in tribulation. Which will prove our faith, both to ourselves and to those who are watching, and will REALLY tick off those who are tribulating us. 

Continuing instant in prayer. Proskartereo is translated ‘Continuing instant’. Pros is the prefix of forward direction, or leading. Kartereo means to be strong or to endure. This phrase means we ought to lead immediately with prayer and to endure in it. We should be characterized by praying first, then waiting for direction and then doing what we are directed to do. The first thing we should be doing is praying, and continue in prayer until we get an answer. This may take no time at all, or it may take years. 

How urgently do we pray? When we see a situation arising, do we do what seems right to us, or do we take time to ask for Y’hovah’s direction? Prayer should be our first resort. Too often it is my last resort (even once is too often). I am preaching to myself, but if you want to take ownership of it yourself, feel free. I don’t mind. And I seriously doubt that Y’hovah will mind. In fact, I’m pretty certain he’ll be pleased. I think the more we lead with prayer and then wait for direction, the more immediate will be the response, because we will have more practice getting out of Yeshua’s way and following his lead. 

Vv.14 – Bless them which persecute you, bless and curse not. If ever there is a spiritual gift, this is it. THIS is not a normal human response to persecution. If you are being persecuted and bless the persecutor, how blessed will you be? This commandment from Paul points to the situation in the local synagogue in Rome, where the non-believing Jews were not very happy about the new gentile believers who were ‘infiltrating’ their kahal without going through the traditional conversion process as proselytes. Notice that just being able to not curse your persecutor is a blessing. Eulogeo literally translates as ‘speak well of’. David spoke well of Saul, would not allow his men to speak badly of him because Saul, as king, was Y’hovah’s anointed – moshiach. 1Sam24

1 And it came to pass, when Saul was returned from following the Philistines, that it was told him, saying, Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi. 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel, and went to seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats. 3 And he came to the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover his feet: and David and his men remained in the sides of the cave. 4 And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which Y’hovah said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul’s robe privily. 5 And it came to pass afterward, that David’ heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul’s skirt. 6 And he said unto his men, Y’hovah forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, Y’hovah’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of Y’hovah.

In this passage there are a couple of things that are interesting. One is that moshiach doesn’t mean ‘Saviour’ – as in Yeshua. Moshiach is anyone who is anointed. In Israel, the king and the priest were anointed to their offices. This anointing was done by pouring anointing oil on the new priest or king, the outpouring of the oil symbolizing the outpouring of Y’hovah’s Ruach on them. There is no evidence in the gospels that Yeshua was ever physically anointed as either king or priest in his days on earth. In fact, only Mary is said to have anointed him at all (Jn.11.2). One who is anointed by Ruach is able to bless his persecutors.

The other interesting thing in 1Sam.24 is that ‘skirt’ is from Heb. 3671, kanaph. This is the exact word used in Mal.4.2,

2 But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.

The word translated as ‘wings’ here is kanaph. Yeshua had healing in his kanaph, proven by the woman with the 12 year issue, who was immediately healed by touching the hem (kanaph), or wing, of his garment (Mat.9.20). I think this was the tzitzioth, fringe, of his tallith, prayer shawl. 

The King is also the healer of the breach between Judah and Israel. That healing is in his kanaph as well as in the ointment that is poured out on him. Both symbolize the Ruach HaKodesh. Q&C

V.15-17 – It is a lot easier for me to rejoice with them who rejoice than it is to weep with them who weep. It’s an American ‘guy’ thing, I think. We haven’t had to experience a lot of hardship in America. Even those whom we consider ‘poor’ are rich by the standards of most of the world’s people. Our ‘poverty stricken’ mostly have roofs over their heads, food on their tables (not to mention the tables the food is on) and at least 1 car. So rejoicing is pretty easy in America, because we are spoiled. So we don’t really know how to react to mourning and weeping and many of us just avoid it. When Jacob’s trouble comes, we will be unable to handle it as a people. Americans will panic and seek help from the quickest mollifying source available, which will naturally be the worst source – government. We don’t know how to mourn with them who mourn, weep with them who weep. We will learn. Do you think this may be why Israel has suffered so much over the years – to learn empathy and sympathy? Do you think we’ll learn quicker than they have?

V.16 – Be of the same mind – This phrase kind of restates the last verse in more general terms. It means to put yourself in their situation mentally. Think of what YOU would need if you were going through what others are going through and help them through it. 

Mind not high things – in context, this means to meet a need at the level it is on. If the need is physical or emotional, do what you can to meet it. People who have a material need don’t want you to say you’ll be praying for them – more often than not, that’s a Xian cop-out. They’ll believe you a lot more when you say you’ll pray for them if you actually meet the material or emotional need first. Sincere prayer is ultimately more important, but how sincere will your prayer be if you are unwilling to meet the material need? Out of sight, out of mind is a very true saying. “I’ll be praying for you, brother,” has a very hollow ring to me when most Xians say it. What did James say? “Show me your faith without works. I will show you my faith BY my works.” (Jms.2.18) It is not lost on folks in need. And if you are going to promise to pray, why not just do so right then? And meet their other needs on the spot, as well.

‘High things’ is from grk. 5308, hupselos, which is ‘lofty’ in place or character. We have a tendency to make ourselves out to be more than we really are. It’s a pride thing. We all to one extent or another build ourselves up in our own minds and then project that image of ourselves. This can be good or bad. I do it – hold up my ideal for myself, and then I try to live up to it. Sometimes I actually succeed and, when I do, those around me benefit. That’s good. When I don’t, they see I am just human and I can’t even hit MY target, much less Y’hovah’s. That can be bad, depending on the one watching. When we think more highly of ourselves than we ought, we consequently think of others LESS highly than we ought, and we portray an attitude of condescension. 

But when it comes to dealing with others and their needs, we need to condescend to men of low estate. Sunapago = sun, with + apo, off or away + ago, lead or drive. So ‘condescend’ means to lead people or go off with people who are in life’s low points – to get down with them, not to be looking down from above. We are to condescend without being condescending. This is exactly what Y’hovah did in the person of Yeshua – he got down with us. Yeshua had the mind that we should have (Phil.2.5). We need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds to be like him, getting down to ‘brass tacks’, as it were. When we are led by the Spirit of Moshiach, we will do it.

Be not wise in your own conceits – This is the 2nd time Sha’ul used this phrase (11.25). The phrase own conceits is from the Grk 1438, heautou, which is the root word for himself (herself, etc.), in the context it would translate ‘yourselves’. The idea is that we ought not think ourselves wise by using ourselves as the basis for comparison. Wisdom is not self-approved or subjective. True wisdom is in the Word of Y’hovah, using it as our basis for comparison because we have no other truly objective truth to base it on. We need to judge ourselves by the Word, trying to be as ‘objective’ as possible. When we can be honest with ourselves about our knowledge and understanding of the Word of Y’hovah, THEN we can be truly objective in judgment; i.e., wise. When Paul says (1Cor.11) ‘examine yourselves’, by what does he mean us to do so? By Y’hovah’s Word, of course. 

V.17 – Recompence to no man evil for evilApodidomi means give away or give off. Evil in both uses is the grk. kakos, from which we get the English word cacophony – bad sound. Kakos is literally worthless. We are not to give back in kind, for that draws noone to Yeshua. 

Provide things honest in the sight of all menPronoeo means to exercise the mind before. Kalos means virtuous or valuable. Putting the 2 sentences together, we get “Don’t react to your enemy’s evil treatment, but consider that he will treat you that way and plan how you will respond to his evil treatment in such a way as to show forth Y’hovah’s love. 

But sanctify the Y’hovah Elohim in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (I Peter 3:15)

That’s how to be a witness to the virtue of the gospel of peace (besorah hashalom). Q&C

Vv.18-21 – If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Why is this phrased this way? If it is possible? Why would it not be possible to live peaceably with all men? Probably because sometimes we allow people to just tick us off. I think the key phrase in this verse is the qualifying ‘as much as lieth in you’ – grk to ex humown – that which comes out of you. Ex has a root meaning of ‘out of’, not in. I think this means we are allowed to be inwardly peeved but we need to try to control our outward expression of that anger. In other words, when people in the congregation do or say things that make us angry, we need to try to let it roll off our backs like water from a duck. How often are we able to do that? And how are we able? Not often enough and only through the power of Ruach HaKodesh. If it were left strictly up to me, I’d verbally level the guy, and I do that often enough. But the Spirit of Y’hovah would have us let inadvertent or unintentional slights go, and to temper our anger at even the advertent and intentional slights from those who are less mature in Yeshua, or who do not know him at all.

The point of v.18 is expounded in v.19 – Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith  Y’hovah. The Hebrew word underlying the phrase ‘dearly beloved’ is dodi. That was just a gift for you, dodi. Paul commands us to not avenge ourselves, but to ‘give place to wrath’. ‘But’ is from alla, which means ‘exactly the opposite’. We are to give our wrath (grk. orge – guess what English word we get from orge) to Y’hovah and let him deal with our light work. He is so much better at the whole wrath thing, anyway. Our wrath is usually meant to harm the object thereof, while his is meant to reconcile the ‘perp’ to himself. If we are acting out of love for the brethren, we ought not lash out at every slight we perceive, but we ought to place our wrath with Ruach and let him bring ‘constructive retribution’.

Our attitude should be to serve, even when those we serve take advantage or use our service to harm us. When we serve those who would harm us, their condemnation is made that much more severe, because it is a witness to them of the agape of Y’hovah. Keep this in mind when we get to Ch.13, where the gentile brethren whom Paul addresses here are exhorted to ‘be subject to the higher powers’ in the synagogue. 

Can we be ‘overcome with evil’? I’ve shared how ‘cold’ doesn’t actually exist, haven’t I? I think in the same way, evil doesn’t really exist. As cold and darkness are the absence of energy, so evil is the absence of good or righteousness. Is.45.7 illustrates this idea;

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I Y’hovah do all these.

Taken just as it is written, darkness was created with the formation of light and evil was created with the making of peace. What Y’hovah did was to ‘form’ light, to give it shape. The Hebrew word is yaszar, to mold into a form. To mold something it must have already been there. So when Y’hovah created light, the light just was, and it must have been everywhere. But when he yatsar’d it, he localized it. May I submit to you that Y’hovah is light, and in him is no darkness (or absence of light – 1Jn.1.5). Now Elohim may be light, but that doesn’t mean that light is Y’hovah. This sounds dangerously close to pantheism, does it not? The step from scriptural truth to paganism is very short, logically speaking. I mean it is a very short logical step to go from Elohim is light to the logical parallel that light is therefore Elohim. But the one side of the equation is true – Y’hovah is light. The other side is false – light is not Y’hovah. The difference is that light has no life in itself. It helps to sustain life, indeed is essential for life, but it has no life of its own. 

Light is a property of energy, as is heat. Energy is that which animates life, but energy has no life of its own. Both energy and light are given their properties by Elohim. He is the one who provides the energy that manifests to us as heat, light and life. So his Ruach is the source of all life. 

It can be said that energy, being the first ordered creation of Elohim, is the building block of all creation. And this can be proven by nuclear physics. When the weak nuclear force is removed (that which holds the atom’s nucleus together) the result is fission, the complete dissolution of everything affected at least to the sub-atomic level. When Yeshua removes his power from the creation it will dissolve, for Yeshua is both the Creator and sustainer of all things;

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his (Yeshua’s) glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible Elohim, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. [Col.1]

The word translated ‘darkness’ here is skotos, and means ‘obscurity’. That is EXACTLY what the Hebrew word choshek (Gen.1.3) means. Nothing had form before Elohim gave it form. When Moshe and Sha’ul talk of ‘darkness’, they speak primarily about spiritual things, i.e.; lack of spiritual light. It is the same with ‘evil’. They speak primarily of lack of spiritual life and peace. And we overcome evil with peace, in context. 

Everything Paul exhorts us to in this chapter are the outworking of love from us. This is what love looks like. Q&C

Romans 13

Let’s remember that the KJV was translated under the authorization of James I, King of England. That having been said, it is understandable where the idea of the secular government being the ‘Higher Powers’ came from. The KJV translation would have been influenced heavily by both the historical and contemporary idea of ‘the divine right of kings.’ That is not to mention that before the Reformation, there was very little in the way of rebellion from the authority of the Roman Church by any king or nation – all power was subject to the Roman Church on pain of excommunication. You think the synagogue had authority? The synagogue in Rome had some autonomy, but was not the secular authority. They could have been wiped out by the Roman army or thrown out of the city at any time (and were in 135 CE, on pain of death, after the Bar Kochba rebellion of Jews following a false Messiah by that name). The Roman Catholic Church was both the ecclesiastical and secular authority for 1200 years before Luther’s theses were nailed to the Wittenberg church door. So the western idea of ‘higher powers’ being the secular government authority is understandable. It just isn’t contextually correct. 

As we’ve seen through chapters 9-12, Paul has been building up to this point. For this to mean the secular authorities, it would mean a 7 verse ‘bubble’ in an otherwise religious context through 7 chapters of text. It is vv.3-5 that really make the argument for the synagogue leadership being the ‘higher powers’. The Roman secular authority could not be mistaken for ministers of Y’hovah – Mithra perhaps, but not Y’hovah. 

Are the secular authorities the ministers of Elohim? Do they only punish evildoers? Or do they punish those who do good? Believers who are exercising their right to worship as they believe Elohim would have them do and raise their children in the nurture and admonition of Y’hovah are often persecuted in 21st C. America (1st Amendment rights). In Germany, parents can be arrested and school children committed to a mental institution for daring to say they want to ‘home-school’. How long do you think it will be before this same inane law is enacted in America? WHO regulations that are binding on all signatory nations make it a CRIME to refuse vaccination in a declared pandemic. Laws are passed and regulations established with the intent of making us criminals. I would be willing to bet (and I am not a gambling man) that, if we were to look diligently through laws already on the books, every one of us writing, reading or hearing this teaching is guilty of some felony – and possibly are what the courts would call ‘habitual felons’. And I believe I would win that bet every time – it wouldn’t really be a gamble. The governmental power in America has become wicked in the extreme, passing laws with the express purpose of extracting money or control from the people through the application of ‘the guilt trip’. The godly are finally awakening to it, but it may already be too late. IF there is another election and IF it is free and unfixed in any way, we MAY have one chance left to take America back. Unfortunately, those are very large qualifiers. Does anyone suspect it was better in Rome, that had no ‘Christian tradition’ to influence it?

V.1 speaks of the ‘higher powers’. ‘Higher’ is translated from the greek word, huperecho, a compound word which derives from the preposition huper (hyper-), meaning above and echo, a verb meaning to hold. ‘Powers’ is from the greek word, exousia, another compound word deriving from the preposition ek or ex, meaning out of and eimi, a primary verb root meaning to be, elsewhere translated “I am”. Strong’s primary translation is “I exist”. Higher powers ought to fully mirror Y’hovah’s good.

The idea Paul is trying to get across is that we ought to subordinate ourselves to (hold above) those whom Y’hovah has placed in authority over us for our good (v.3). Looking at context up to this point, these higher powers are the leaders of our local synagogue, and that only as far as their authority extends. Your pastor or rabbi is not your mayor, governor or king. His authority extends to your local assembly. His influence may reach to the secular authorities, but his authority does not – unless you live in a theocracy. Can you speak to your pastor or teacher for advise? Yes. And it may be wise to do so under certain circumstances. But MUST you get your pastor’s or teacher’s permission to do anything outside the assembly that doesn’t affect the assembly. No. Godly counsel? Yes. Authority over every aspect of your life? No. And if you have a pastor or teacher who is trying to exercise authority over every aspect of your life, RUN AWAY as fast as your feet will take you! He’ll be preparing the Kool-Aid before long.

When it says the higher powers are ‘ordained’ of Elohim, does that mean that Y’hovah has blessed the wicked, secular government? He may use a wicked, secular government to draw his people back to his Way (if they’re spiritually astute enough to recognize the fact – I hope America awakens to the idea quickly), but he does not ‘ordain’ it in the sense that a rabbi, pastor or elder is ‘ordained’ “for your good”. The grk. word is tasso, meaning “to arrange in an orderly manner, i.e. assign or dispose (to a certain position or lot)”. The idea that a wicked government is ordained of Elohim has the same sense as his creation of evil in Is.45.7, which we’ve spoken of before:

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I Y’hovah do all these things .

He didn’t create darkness or evil, as such, but in his forming light and making peace evil and darkness were necessarily created as the relative absence of the things Elohim formed or made. In like manner, he didn’t ordain wicked governments as ministers of good. They came into being as manifestations of the absence of good (and in varying degrees) in that the sinful situation of the nation under its thumb required that absence of good to bring it to itself, even as the prodigal. How much suffering must a people endure before they will call on Y’hovah for deliverance? Israel had to go into abject slavery before they called out in Egypt. Judah had to be exiled to Babylon 70 years before Daniel discerned the time and called out to Y’hovah for deliverance. How much longer will we have to suffer? Until we, the people of Y’hovah, are no longer able to bear it on our own shoulders. Only then will we earnestly call out for deliverance from on high. Only when we humble ourselves, pray, seek his face and turn from our wicked ways will he hear from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our land. That time is coming. Things will have to get very uncomfortable for believers in general before we feel compelled to earnestly call on Y’hovah’s deliverance. Hopefully, it will not be so late that he’ll have abandoned us to our sin.

V.2 speaks of those who resist (antitassomai – arrange oneself against) the ordained authority. Remember that throughout this book so far Paul is telling the Jews that the new gentile members are their Yisraelite brethren whom Yeshua had called to repentance, for whom he’d died the death of the divorced wife’s husband (7.1-4, applying Dt.24.1-4), so that he, as a new man, could lawfully take them as his Bride. Here he is telling the new gentile believers that they are to ‘hold above’ (huperecho) the synagogue leadership in matters of righteous conduct in the kahal as elder brothers. They were to do this so that they could hear the Word of Elohim, which alone could bring them to faith (10.17). If they resisted the ‘powers’ in the synagogue, they would be sent out into Rome, where their new faith in Messiah would make them criminals. If they refused to worship Caesar they were subject to death UNLESS they were under the authority of the synagogue. So, the gentile believers had a decision to take – 1) submit to the synagogue authority, 2) submit to the Roman authority, or 3) die in the circus. Sha’ul expected them to submit to the rabbinic authority, hear the Word of Y’hovah and grow in faith. Q&C

V.3 emphasizes the point of v.2. “Rulers (archon) are not a terror (phobos) to good works.” The question is, “What are ‘good works’? The audience is made up of believers. Are the secular authorities worried about good works in a religious sense (‘religious’ here used as America’s founding fathers used it)? The synagogue authorities would consider Torah observance as ‘good works’, as do I (and as Paul in Eph.2.10, Gal.5.22-25 illustrates). 

What would Rome consider a ‘good work’? That would depend on the situation, wouldn’t it? A Roman soldier performing a ‘Caesarian section’ on a pregnant woman in a conquered city would be performing a ‘good work’, wouldn’t he? You betcha! And I don’t mean to save the baby’s or the mother’s life, but to kill them both. I chose the most egregious and barbarous Roman practice I could think of just then. I seriously doubt Paul was thinking the Roman government was concerned with whether you were doing biblically ‘good works’. What a secular government calls ‘good’ is not usually what scripture calls ‘good’. If they agree to the ‘goodness’ of a thing, it is more likely coincidence than not. Would the government of a nation take notice of a person who lives as Paul describes in Gal.5? Someone living like that might not be arrested, but will he garner praise from a secular government? Not likely. But one who exhibits this type of behavior in the assembly will be noticed and possibly commended – especially if he’s a gentile in the synagogue. The rabbis would definitely take notice of such a gentile.

Archon means first in rank. This would be the ruling elder or rabbi of the synagogue. I assume that the hierarchy was similar to the governmental authority in the camp. Moshe, as ruling elder, then the tribal elders, then family elders, then the fathers of households. The rabbi or ruling elder was usually not a political appointee, as was the High Priest in the Temple in Roman days, but a man proven to be of godly character, learning and discernment (1Tim.5.17, 3.1ff). While he may not (and probably wasn’t) a believer in Yeshua, he was a man from whom the new believers could correctly learn Torah, which is their purpose in being in the synagogue. 

Is this a ‘hard and fast’ truth? Must the gentile believers, in our present context, submit to the synagogue authorities in every aspect of their lives? I don’t think so anymore than I think that your pastor has any business examining your ruling of your own house (unless it’s obviously sinful). But they must walk (righteous conduct) according to the local halacha within the synagogue and according to Torah in their daily walk. If the rabbi were to, for instance, order them not to speak of Yeshua, they should follow Peter’s example from Acts.5

29 Then Peter and the apostles answered and said, We ought to obey Elohim rather than men. 30 The El of our fathers raised up Yeshua, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31 Him hath Elohim exalted with his right hand a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and also the Holy Ghost, whom Elohim hath given to them that obey him.

But in matters of halachic conduct, they should submit so they can have fellowship and learn Torah. Remember that the new gentile believers are considered members of a sect of Judaism, the Notzrim or Nazarene sect, understood to be such by Jerusalem Temple authorities and, therefore Roman authorities.

V.4 says the ruler is the ‘minister of Elohim to thee for good’. The word translated ‘minister’ is the Greek word (Strong’s 1249) diakonos, a deacon or a minister within the kahal. Where Paul calls him a minister of Elohim, he uses this word, diakonos. Will he minister to you if you do evil? Yes. In v.6, he uses the greek word (Strong’s 3011), leitourgos, which is a functionary in the Temple or in the gospel. He is a Levite, but not a priest. The Levite’s (leitourgos) function is to maintain the Temple; the priest’s (diakonos) job is to perform in the offering system, to teach Torah, to judge disputes and such official duties.

The grk. word translated ‘do’ in v.4 is Strong’s 4161, poieo. In this context it means ‘abide in’. In Eph.2.10 it is the root word behind ‘workmanship’ (poiema 4160). As we are a ‘work in progress’ of our Abba, so is the evil in v.4. The ruling elder is both a minister of Y’hovah for our good who act righteously and a ‘revenger to wrath’ on those who are ‘doers of evil’. The word translated ‘doeth’ is Strong’s 4238, prasso, and means one who practices evil as his manner of life – an habitual sinner. Habitual evil must be punished in the kahal, as it had to be dealt with in the camp in the wilderness. In this case, the habitual ‘bad actor’ is to be excommunicated and left to live under the threat of Roman law. As happened in Corinth, the one who was excommunicated didn’t live outside the protection of the synagogue for long before he; 1) repented (2Cor.2.4-10 – the primary purpose of the discipline), 2) reverted back to his paganism (2Tim.4.10a, 1Jn.2.19 – antiMessiahs) or 3) was arrested and sent to entertain in the circus. 

V.5 – The use of the 2nd person plural in vv.4 and 6 makes this supplied word ‘ye’ likely to be correct. The word translated ‘be subject’ is greek hupotasso, to arrange oneself under. Ye (that is gentiles in the synagogue) must order yourselves before the elders of the kahal, not just because they can excommunicate you, but because your conscience will afflict you if you don’t – the Spirit of Y’hovah won’t let you alone.

Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth not, to him it is sin. Jms.4.17

Paul takes up this idea again in ch.14.

V.6 speaks of paying tribute, another reason this is seen as speaking of Roman authority. The synagogue collected the Temple tax, as well as the Roman tax. I assume the synagogue assessed some cost for maintenance of the meeting place, too. Members of the local kahal did not pay taxes directly to the Roman authorities, but through the synagogue. There is no distinction made in v.6 about what is being called tribute. The word is from the greek phoros (Strong’s 5411), meaning a load, as borne. Every tax is a load borne by the taxpayer, even the Temple tax (which is scriptural – Ex.30.11-16). The Temple tax was a ½ shekel, which was 2 drachma – the amount the poor widow was putting into the treasury in Mk.12.42. At any rate, the members of the kahal paid all their taxes through the kahal and Rome took its cut from there. This should have made the payment of taxes fairer within the kahal, as well, for the ministers of Elohim for our good should be less likely to assess more than what was due. 

V.7 then delineates where tribute money went and that the members ought to pay what was due (not more than what was due). “Tribute to whom tribute” speaks of taxes. We’ve been over a couple of the taxes assessed at the synagogue; Temple tax, Roman head taxes, poll taxes, and etc. The Romans hired tax collectors all over the empire and empowered them to assess whatever they darned well chose. These tax collectors would assess the tax + whatever they thought was ‘fair’ compensation for their ‘services’. This is why ‘publicans’ were so hated in Israel. They were Israelites who stole from their own people because they had ‘legal’ (if not legitimate) authority to do so. Rome’s governors backed them up. As long as Rome got its cut, the governors cared less how much the publicans (like so-called ‘judges’ today) extorted from the people. So, when the synagogue assessed the taxes, they should have been more fair, or less grasping at least, than the average tax assessor. It’s interesting to me that Zaccheus told Yeshua that ‘IF I have cheated anyone, I will repay him 4-fold what I’ve stolen”. I think he may have been an ‘honest’ tax collector, taking only that which was due + a truly reasonable fee. If Zacc was an inveterate thief, he’d have broken himself financially with this oath. I think the synagogues in Rome were honest, as well. 

“Custom to whom custom” – ‘Custom’ (Strong’s 5056) is from telos, which usually means goal or end, but in this and most other instances where it deals with the actual payment of taxes it means “an impost or levy as paid.” W1828 has impost as, “A duty or tax laid by government on goods imported, and paid or secured by the importer at the time of importation.” So when customs assesses an impost on what you carry into the country from outside, it is legitimate and you need to pay it. Customs are usually a small percentage of the cost of the goods. Once again, these were assessed at the synagogue, if applicable. 

“Fear to whom fear” – The greek word is phobos, terror. To whom is ‘fear’ due? Fear is due to anyone who has legitimate authority to bring judgment against you. In our context, that would be, in order of importance to the believer, 1) Y’hovah, 2) the authority of one’s family (preferably the father, but mother in father’s absence, or eldest sibling), 3) the elders of the kahal, 4) local/municipal police/judges, and then 5) provincial/State authorities. The reason the secular authorities are listed last is that these SHOULD be the last ones anyone would see, judgment being most just at the most intimate level. Seen in light of the 5th Commandment, this explains the reason given in Ex.20.12:

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which Y’hovah Elohecha giveth thee.

If we honour our parents and obey them, we are most likely to be good citizens of a just nation and good leaders in the local kahal, because we are most likely to be obedient to Y’hovah‘s Word. 

“Honour to whom honour” – We’ve already seen who is most worthy of our honour – Y’hovah and our parents. But to whom else do we render due honour? Let me list a few direct from scripture:

Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face (meaning countenance) of the old man, and fear Elohecha: I am Y’hovah. (Leviticus 19:32)

For thou hast made him (Messiah) a little lower than Elohim, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. (Psalms 8:5)

A gracious woman retaineth honour: and strong men retain riches. (Proverbs 11:16)

That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. (John 5:23)

Honour widows that are widows indeed. (I Timothy 5:3)

Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. (I Timothy 5:17)

Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear Elohim. Honour the king. (I Peter 2:17)

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (I Peter 3:7)

And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it.(Revelation 21:26)

You could easily say that any righteous man, or any person righteously filling an office of trust or authority is worthy of our honour. It is his due. And what do we generally find? We find that when someone faithfully observes to perform his assigned duties, to keep his word and to honour his trust, he is given much honour. Q&C

End of Shabbat Bible Study

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