Rock Of Israel Congregation
          Weekly  Parasha Blog 
By Rabbi Jeff Grillo 

Week ending May 19,2018

 Parash - Portion: Benidbar 


Torah – Numbers 1:1-4:20;

Haftarah Hosea 2:1-23;

Brit Chadeshah Romans 9:22-33


Parasha this week begins the fourth of the five books of Moses (Torah), Bemidbar, the book of Numbers. The entirety of the four chapters covered deal with the census that G-d commanded Moses to take of the children of Yisra’el. Numbers 1:2-3, “Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Yisra’el, by their families, by their fathers’ houses, according to the number of the names, every male, one by one; from twenty years old and upward, all who are able to go out to war in Yisra’el. You and Ahron shall number them by their divisions.”

As you read through the four chapters of Numbers that are this week’s portion, you will see not only the listing of the children of Yisra’el but you will see how carefully G-d shows us not only the genealogies of the twelve tribes of Yisra’el, but also their numbers according to tribe and family. You will also learn of their placement and position around the Mishkan and the specific jobs that each tribe was entrusted to carry out. There is much to learn here but as always, my task is not to offer an exhaustive study but to offer a summary and to share a lesson that is upon my heart.


I will come back to Numbers chapter 3 for the specific lesson this week, but for now let’s move over to look at Hosea. This is a beautiful and powerful portion from Haftarah. You catch a glimpse of the love, passion and long-suffering heart of our Father. Yisra’el had gone astray from the marriage to G-d which occurred at Har Sini (Mount Sinai). The nation of Israel had prostituted and corrupted herself by chasing after false gods. Instead of destroying her and being finished with her we see how G-d chooses to win her back. I love how he says he will place a hedge of thorns around her so that her lovers will turn away from her and He places a wall around her so she will not be able to follow after Ba’al. What is the purpose of this? In doing so, she (Yisra’el) will have awakened and realized that all of her chasing after these things had lead her to nothing and that she would return to her first love! The chastisements of the Father are more often than not intended not to destroy, but to redeem. Baruch HaShem! (Praise the Name)


In Romans we see a continuation of sorts of the idea of G-d’s patience, love and mercy in Hosea. Rabbi Sha’ul presents the question of ‘What if?” What if G-d, in order to display His patience and power, endured vessels that were destined to destruction? In other words we are all vessels intended to contain His glory and walk out His purposes in the earth. But, because of our own wrong choices and rejection of His gift of salvation through Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah we ultimately become these vessels doomed for destruction. And by the way, this applies to both Jew and gentile alike. Then Paul looks at the vessels of mercy! This or these are those whom have attained glory, salvation through Yeshua the Messiah, again Jew and gentile alike! Look at how patient G-d is! Sure, He displays great patience in each of our individual lives. But on a much grander scale the course His chosen have taken over thousands of years! It is not just the flow of the multitude of individuals who have lived and are living, but also the corporate actions of nations and peoples.


Alright, let’s go back to Numbers chapter 3 where we again see G-d pointing out the sin of Ahron’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, which lead to their deaths. It is a pretty simple concept, but, clearly it was important enough for G-d to reiterate so it’s surely important enough for me to draw your attention to here. We know that these two sons had been trained up in the proper and prescribed ways of service in the Tabernacle. They clearly knew and understood the instructions of G-d in these matters. However they made the wrong choice of doing things their own way and circumvented the will of the Father by offering ‘strange fire’ to the L-RD. It was strange because it was something that was outside the norm. It was not at all what G-d had instructed. So, as a consequence, they brought upon themselves the due penalty. What I find interesting is the comparison of how Moses approached G-d, and how Nadav and Avihu approached him. What I am referring to is not the actions they walked out but rather in the position of their hearts. Solomon tells us in Proverbs that only a man of a humble heart and contrite spirit can see G-d. Moses had both of those things going for him. He is said to have been the most humble man alive! Because of his humility and his obedience, he was able to approach G-d. In stark contrast, these two men had to have been pretty high minded and arrogant. They thought in their hearts that they had some right to have what Moses had and somehow this authorized them to shortcut the patterns and boundaries set before them by G-d.


Personal will is an amazing thing. It is both a beautiful gift from a Father who loves us so much and wants us to want Him. It is also, as we see in this parasha, a dangerous and serious thing. It is our will which charts the course of our eternal destinies. But think about this. It is the will of our Savior which even allowed our wills to matter in the first place. What it means is this. The Father of course, exercised His will by setting forth His sovereign and omnipotent plan of creation and redemption. G-d laid down His very own life to redeem us through the person of Yeshua. Read Matthew 26:39 and you will read something that blows me away every time I read it or think about it. Here we see Messiah crying out to the Father prior to being placed on the execution stake of the Romans. Understand this, he did NOT want to endure what he knew was coming. He did not want to endure the humiliation. He did not want to endure the flogging, beating and shame. He did not want to endure the spikes which would be driven through his flesh. He did not want to experience death itself! Think about this! Yeshua was not merely some good man who came to teach us the way. He WAS the way! He was G-d Himself, incarnate in the flesh. Do you understand how amazing this is? The very one who is ALL life himself was about to experience the curse of death and pay the penalty of sin so that we, mere flesh could be redeemed from eternal damnation which we were more than deserving of! Holy is the L-RD G-d Almighty!!!


You see, Yeshua like the sons of Ahron had a choice to make. Unlike Ahron’s sons, Messiah made the right choice. The choice to set aside self-will and follow even unto death the will of the Father. Praise G-d He did! All of history, all of humanity teetered on the precipice of this one decision. You and I would have been lost forever had Yeshua followed his flesh. Whose example are you going to follow? Nadav and Avihu? They followed their flesh and it lead to death. Perhaps we should ask G-d to search our hearts now and show us any area of our life where we are following after our flesh instead of His Spirit. Father forgive us. Help us to have pure hearts which follow whole-heartedly after you and you alone. Thank you for Yeshua and His steadfast will to follow your will.

Week Ending May 11,2018

Parasha Portion : Behar - Bechukotai

 

Torah - Leviticus 25:1-27:34 

Haftarah - Jeremiah 32:6-27; Jeremiah 16”19-17:14 

Brit Chadashah - Luke 4:16-21; Matthew 21:33-446

 

Once again, our studies have us looking at a double portion.  Behar (in the Mountain) referring, of course, to Mt. Sinai, and Bechukotai (in My Statutes.).

 

It may seem at first glance a strange departure from the instructions concerning the Priesthood to now jump back to the Revelation of G-d’s Torah at that Holy site.  You might ask yourself why the repetition of the Mitzvah (instructions) concerning the Sabbatical cycle of days, weeks years and the jubilee? 

 

Keep in mind the Divine inspiration of our Biblical text.  Every thought, concept, instruction, order and even every letter and spacing is also Divinely inspired.  Everything is rich with meaning on many levels

 

The timing is especially important for us to look at this week as we are in the midst of counting the Omer.  At the time of writing this, we are on day 40 and this will most likely be published on day 41 with just over a week left until Shavuot ( Pentecost.)  There is a lot going on and I only want to take a moment to point you in the right direction so you can pursue even deeper meaning as you study on your own the above listed Scriptures.

 

For a point of reference, let’s take a look at what this week’s parashot (portions) are referring.

 

Leviticus 23:15-16, “You shall count from the next day after the Shabbat, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Shabbatot shall be completed: 16 even to the next day after the seventh Shabbat you shall number fifty days; and you shall offer a new meal offering to the L-RD.”  (HNV)

Pesach ( Passover) and Shavuot (Pentecost.) 

 

Leviticus 25:8-11, “You shall number seven Shabbatot of years to you, seven times seven years; and there shall be to you the days of seven Shabbatot of years, even forty-nine years. 9 Then shall you send abroad the loud shofar on the tenth day of the seventh month; in Yom Kippur shall you send abroad the shofar throughout all your land. 10 You shall make the fiftieth year holy, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants of it: it shall be a jubilee to you; and you shall return every man to his possession, and you shall return every man to his family. 11 A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you: you shall not sow, neither reap that which grows of itself in it, nor gather [the grapes] in it of the undressed vines.”

 

Here at the outset of  this week’s parasha Behar, we are being reminded to keep the cycle of years.  Seven year cycles.  The pattern of seven repeats over and over.  From the beginning, we are taught of the pattern of seven days.  Six days we work and rest on the seventh.  We have a cycle of days in this case.  We are in the midst of counting a cycle of weeks.  We count seven weeks which lead to a most Holy Shabbat.  This pattern continues throughout creation.  Six thousand year cycle of human history leading to the thousand years, or Millennial reign of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus.)

 

Finally, this week let’s take a brief look at a concept that may seem quite strange to you if you are not part of a Messianic Congregation, or if you have not been part of one very long.  The modern Christian “church” is in love with the concepts associated with the prosperity gospel.  Much of it is a self-centered gospel based upon discovering keys that unlock our best life now.  They want to learn secrets that amount to nothing more than relegating G-d to little more than a genie in a bottle that is there for OUR pleasure, to bless us according to our will with nearly no regard for what His true will is.

 

Much of what they preach is tied to the idea that we are His children and all is tied to the free gift that comes with the salvation package prize!  While it is indeed true that our salvation is a free gift, not of works lest any man should boast, that does not carry over into anything beyond our salvation itself.

 

The question post salvation is what now?  The Word of G-d is full to the brim of “what now” from Genesis to Revelation we are told over and over in many ways what He expects of His children.  Prior to salvation, we are NOT His.  So the works that follow salvation are what next.  They come after and not tied to salvation as again, it is indeed a free gift.  So if you’ve ever struggled with the question “what now” then keep reading!

 

In my humble opinion, the next step is all about pleasing G-d and building His Kingdom here on the earth, which of course simultaneously expands, magnifies and glorifies His eternal Kingdom.

 

What of those blessings that the church is so keen on?  Many blessings are intended for Heaven.  But, there are also plenty of blessings that are available for us in this life.  We can expect to be blessed…”IF” you qualify!  What kind of statement is this?  This is the piece of the puzzle those flashy TV preachers are not telling you.  While G-d’s love is unconditional, His blessings are absolutely CONDITIONAL!

 

Leviticus 25:3-13, “Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in the fruits of it; 4 but in the seventh year shall be a Shabbat of solemn rest for the land, a Shabbat to the L-RD: you shall neither sow your field, nor prune your vineyard. 5 That which grows of itself of your harvest you shall not reap, and the grapes of your undressed vine you shall not gather: it shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. 6 The Shabbat of the land shall be for food for you; for you, and for your servant and for your maid, and for your hired servant and for your stranger, who lives as a foreigner with you. 7 For your cattle, and for the animals that are in your land, shall all the increase of it be for food. 8 You shall number seven Shabbatot of years to you, seven times seven years; and there shall be to you the days of seven Shabbatot of years, even forty-nine years. 9 Then shall you send abroad the loud shofar on the tenth day of the seventh month; in Yom Kippur shall you send abroad the shofar throughout all your land. 10 You shall make the fiftieth year holy, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants of it: it shall be a jubilee to you; and you shall return every man to his possession, and you shall return every man to his family. 11 A jubilee shall that fiftieth year be to you: you shall not sow, neither reap that which grows of itself in it, nor gather [the grapes] in it of the undressed vines. 12 For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat the increase of it out of the field. 13 In this year of jubilee you shall return every man to his possession.”

 

This is by no means the only place where If/then statements or conditional promises are mentioned.  They are all throughout the Word.  Always they are tied to (the key if you will) keeping His ‘Mitzvah or commands!!!  The blessings…or the part AFTER the word THEN come ONLY after we have honored and kept his instructions, they are inseparable.

 

So you want to be blessed?  I will save you thousands of dollars and give you the secret right here,  right now for FREE.  Honor G-d by honoring His Word, His Holy Torah all of His Commands.  Learn them, apply them, do your utmost best to keep them as best you can.  Seek first to Bless the Father by loving and honoring His Holy instructions to us.  When we do these things because we love Him, not out of some sort of obligation then you will see those promises begin to manifest in your life.  Not just the far off eternal ones, but yes, even some of those blessings we all would love to see in this life as well.  Set your priorities according to His priorities.  Do it for the right reasons.  Salvation is Free.  Blessing has a price.  The price is obedience to His Word.  Shalom!

 

Week Ending May 5, 2018

Parasha Portion :  Emor 


 

Torah - Leviticus 21:1-24:23 

Haftarah - Ezekiel 44:15-31 

Brit Chadashah - 1 Peter 2:4-10

 

We are looking at parasha (portion) Emor this week.  Emor is the Hebrew word for “say.”  We will not get too far into the above listed verses.  In fact, we will pretty much stay in the first four verses, so be certain to study the rest on your own.

 

Leviticus 21:1-4, “the L-RD said to Moshe, "Speak to the Kohanim, the sons of Aharon, and say to them, 'A Kohen shall not defile himself for the dead among his people; 2 except for his relatives that are near to him: for his mother, for his father, for his son, for his daughter, for his brother, 3 and for his virgin sister who is near to him, who has had no husband; for her he may defile himself. 4 He shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself.” (HNV)

 

First, we will look at what is likely pretty obvious.  We will ask the question, why the prohibition of contact with the dead?  Why is this something that defiles us and specifically the Priests?

 

Remember that we are talking about ritual purity or being ceremonially clean.  The uncleanness of contact with a corpse and preparation for burial is not sin.  So why then the Mitzvah to not have this contact?

 

The Priests were not to have contact, except for the mentioned relationships, in order to protect them.  Unnecessary exposure to death can contaminate one’s mind.  When we see a lifeless body, it is easy to be tempted to think of death as final, or the end.  This simply is not true, or course!  Death is merely an illusion.  It is a transition where the individual simply moves from this dimension of reality to that which lies beyond.  For believers and followers in Yeshua, death is the entrance into a Glorious and eternal existence with the King of Kings.  While death for the non-believer is an entrance into an altogether different and eternal reality.  This reality is so horrible, I wish to only focus on the intended reality for all, that, of course, is Heaven.

 

Our Haftarah portion this week reflects the Mitzvah for the Priest to avoid contact with the dead person, except for certain relationships as listed in bothTorah and here in Ezekiel.

 

Ezekiel 44:25-26, “They shall go in to no dead person to defile themselves; but for father, or for mother, or for son, or for daughter, for brother, or for sister who has had no husband, they may defile themselves. 26 After he is cleansed, they shall reckon to him seven days.”

 

Now let’s focus briefly on the very first verse of our Torah portion, Leviticus 21:1.

 

As Rabbi Cliff often points out to us, when G-d says something it is truly important.  If He repeats something multiple times, it is a huge clue for us to slow down and pay attention because there is something very important for us to uncover.

 

In the opening verse, we see the words “said, speak and say”— all forms of the same word.  We also see something we might easily miss.  Why would G-d choose to tell Moses to speak to the Cohenim and then as if to clarify, He says the sons of Ahron (Aaron).  Of course, G-d is speaking about Aaron’s sons because they were the only ones that were Cohenim, or Priests!

 

One of the teachings of the sages is pretty interesting and worth sharing.  It is sort of separating the adults from the children in a way.  The Cohenim is related to the Priests, the adults trained in Torah and in service to the L-RD, while the sons of Aaron refers to the little ones and those to come.

 

It is an admonition for the Priests to be sure to not only pass on what they know, but to in a way humble themselves by spending time with and teaching the younger generation.  This was not to be a job for others of lesser or lower position.  This is tied to Deuteronomy chapter 6, when we are told to teach the Torah diligently to our children.

 

We see this modeled in various other places in the Word.  It is so important that G-d Himself took on lowly human form in order to mingle with us, His children in order to teach us.

 

Psalm 8:4, “What is man, that you think of him? The son of man, that you care for him?”

 

Matthew 19:14, “But Yeshua said, "Allow the little children, and don't forbid them to come to me; for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven.”

 

We ought to take to heart that we are all called to be Priests in His Kingdom.  Therefore, we all ought to be busy in service to the King, but also we should give attention to the little ones and pay attention to teach correctly even the smallest of details.

 

Matthew 10:30, “but the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”

 

If G-d gives such attention to creating such a massive and awesome Universe where every detail matters, even though we may never see it, how much then should we pay attention to details?  G-d who gave names to every star in the heavens and masterfully created and supports them, also cares enough to know how many hairs are on our heads…wow!  May we all endeavor to be a people also concerned with the smallest of details when it comes to His Word and how we ought to live.

  Shalom!

 

Week Ending April 28th, 2018

Parasha Portion : Acharei -Mot  /  Kedoshim

 

Torah - Leviticus 16:1-20:27  

Haftarah - Ezekiel 22:1-19; Amos 9:7-15  

Brit Chadashah - Hebrews 9:11-28; 1 Peter 1:13-16; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20

 

This week is a double portion in our studies of the parashot.  Acharei-Mot, which is translated as “after the death,” and Kedoshim, which means “Holy ones.”

 

Our main focus will be in Acharei-Mot, but we will touch upon Kedoshim and even travel back in time a bit to parasha (portion) Shemini (eighth.)

 

There is quite a bit to cover this time around, but before we dive in I want to remind you that the Word is much like a diamond with many facets.  As you turn the diamond in your hand and look at it from different angles, it reflects the light in many different ways and will appear as many different colors.  They are all true parts of the same, one light that is coming in.  So no one interpretation discounts the others, but rather comes together to paint a broader picture of the amazing deep reservoir of knowledge that is available to us in Torah and throughout our Bible.

 

If you follow along with the weekly studies, it may, at first glance, appear to be disjointed and odd.  Something like watching a modern Hollywood movie with many twists and turns and flashbacks or jumps ahead that at the time you watch may seem difficult to understand, but by the end of the movie everything suddenly comes together and makes perfect sense.

 

The Word is like that.  For example, in chapter ten of Leviticus right in the middle of the reading for parasha Shemini we read the account of the sons of Ahron (Aaron) that were consumed by the L-RD for offering up “strange fire.”

 

Leviticus 10:1-10, “Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aharon, each took his censer, and put fire in it, and laid incense on it, and offered strange fire before the L-RD, which he had not commanded them. 2 And fire came forth from before the L-RD, and devoured them, and they died before the L-RD. 3 Then Moshe said to Aharon, "This is what the L-RD spoke of, saying, "'I will show myself holy to those who come near me, And before all the people I will be glorified.'" Aharon held his shalom. 4 Moshe called Misha'el and Eltzafan, the sons of `Uzzi'el the uncle of Aharon, and said to them, "Draw near, carry your brothers from before the sanctuary out of the camp." 5 So they drew near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp, as Moshe had said. 6 Moshe said to Aharon, and to El`azar and to Itamar, his sons, "Don't let the hair of your heads go loose, neither tear your clothes; that you don't die, and that he not be angry with all the congregation: but let your brothers, the whole house of Yisra'el, bewail the burning which the L-RD has kindled. 7 You shall not go out from the door of the Tent of Meeting, lest you die; for the anointing oil of the L-RD is on you." They did according to the word of Moshe. 8 The L-RD spoke to Aharon, saying, 9 "Drink no wine nor strong drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, that you don't die: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations: 10 and that you are to make a distinction between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean.” (HNV)

 

The account is given to us and then moves on.  In fact, the following two weeks of study, Tazria and Metzora break away with accounts and instructions concerning ceremonial cleanliness with regards to child birth and then in Metzorah to teach about the ceremonial instructions when it comes to leprosy.

 

Now this week it “seems” like Moshe (Moses) remembers to go back and finish telling us about Nadav  and Avihu with “after the death,” which is clearly talking about their deaths.

 

Leviticus 16:1-4, “The L-RD spoke to Moshe, after the death of the two sons of Aharon, when they drew near before the L-RD, and died; 2 and the L-RD said to Moshe, "Tell Aharon your brother, not to come at all times into the Most Holy Place within the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark; lest he die: for I will appear in the cloud on the mercy seat. 3 "Herewith shall Aharon come into the sanctuary: with a young bull for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches on his body, and shall put on the linen sash, and he shall be dressed with the linen turban. They are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water, and put them on.”

 

Clearly, we now pick up where Shemini left off.  There are many things going on here, much of which points to pictures of the Messiah Yeshua.  We will touch on a few.  It is not a coincidence that our study this week goes back to Shemini which means “eighth.”  The number eight points to new beginnings, the millennial reign and the Messiah.  Then you will recall some of the lessons from Tazria and the time of purification and the correlation to the age of Yeshua at his execution.  There are many more connections than this, but for the sake of time and space we will move on.

 

Typically, in churches that even mention the sons of Aaron and the strange fire, they normally talk about the negatives.  They mention that there were sins of pride, impatience, drunkenness and so many other things are taught.  Some of the sages have taught that there was also a good side to this story.  Beyond all the things that were done wrong and outside of the parameters for this Divine service, there was still the motivation of drawing nearer to G-d.  There are also teachings that this boldness opened up their generation to a closer relationship to G-d in that as a result of what happened, G-d introduced Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement.

 

See verses 2 and 3 of the last portion given above.  These are the instructions concerning Yom Kippur. 

 

There is so much more here, but I want to focus on two instructions to the High Priest for this Holiest of services, which has great application to us today.

 

The two sacrifices that are to be brought before G-d are a goat and bull (Ox).  Why these two sacrifices?  It is significant in that when we look deeper, beyond the surface we begin to understand something with great meaning today.  A goat is a destructive animal.  It will eat a field destroying it because it will even take up the roots.  This leaves the field barren and dead.  Many of our sins are not only destructive to our own souls, but have ramifications that reach out and destroy others around us.  The Ox is a constructive animal in that it is used to carry and to move heavy loads.  It can be harnessed to till the ground for cultivation of crops.  When we come to the Holy of Holies and make teshuva (repentance or turning away from sin), we lay down both our sin, but also give back to the L-RD even that which is good, for it all belongs to Him. 

 

 

 

The story of Nadav and Avihu is one we should take to heart.  Perhaps they did have good intentions at the root of what they did.  We can see how this tragic event did indeed ultimately get turned around to bring good not only to their generation, but to every generation that followed.  But it reminds me of the lesson taught in Isaiah chapter one.  In the first seventeen verses, we learn that the right thing done in the wrong way is still wrong!  There is one way to please G-d, and that is to walk in His Way.

 

Finally, let’s look at verse four of chapter 16 of Leviticus.  Even something like the instructions of the linen garments that the High Priest was commanded to wear has great significance and speaks to us today.

 

Linen points to the idea of being Echad, or one with G-d.  The plant where linen comes from bears one stalk from one seed.  At the very smallest level, in a linen garment there is a picture of oneness.  We too should be certain to not only be covered with the Oneness of G-d, but for us to be woven into that oneness and be Echad with our beloved G-d.