Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

Parashah 42: Mattot (Tribes)

Numbers 30:2-32:42
(In a regular year, read with Parashah 43; in a leap year read separately.)

“Then Moshe spoke to the heads of the tribes of the people of Isra’el. He said, ‘Here is what Adonai has ordered…’“ (Numbers 30:2).

When a man makes a vow, it sticks.  When a woman makes a vow, it only remains an obligation if her husband (or father if she is an unmarried woman) hears it and has peace with it.  If the husband or father refuses to allow the vow, it is disallowed.   Vows of widows or divorced women stand.

“Better not to make a vow than to make a vow and not discharge it. Don’t let your words make you guilty, and don’t tell the temple official that you made the vow by mistake. Why give God reason to be angry at what you say and destroy what you have accomplished? For [this is what happens when there are too] many dreams, aimless activities and words. Instead, just fear God!” (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6)

Moshe’s Last Stand

“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘On behalf of the people of Isra’el, take vengeance on the Midyanim. After that, you will be gathered to your people’” (Numbers 31:1-2).

The last battle that Moshe oversees is with the Midianites. Elohim wants the people of Isra’el to carry out His vengeance. ‘Vengeance’ is defined as ‘punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong.’  Adonai says when His people are wronged, He will repay. He will take vengeance because when anyone messes with the ‘apple of His eye,’ they are messing with Him and become His enemy. Elohim makes it very clear that He alone takes vengeance; it is not our responsibility (Zechariah 2:8).

Hebrew Word Pictures
Vengeance or naqam – נקם – nun, kof, mem
– life, what is behind the chaos

One thousand men from each tribe were gathered to create an Israelite army. These 12,000 men were equipped for war. Pinchas went before them with the silver trumpets for sounding the alarm of war.

They fought the Midianites and killed every male. The women and children were taken captive along with the plunder of cattle, flocks and goods. They killed the five Midianite kings, Evi, Rekem, Tzur, Hur, and Reva along with the prophet Balaam. They set fire to the Midianite cities and all of their camps.

When they brought the captives to Moshe, he became angry for it was the women of Midian who caused the Israelites to rebel, breaking faith with ‘I Am’ at Mount P’or. It was because of Midianite woman that a plague killed 24,000 Israelites. At his command, all the male children were killed along with every woman who had slept with a man. Young girls who were still virgins were allowed to live, and Israelite men took them as wives.

All who had killed or touched a dead body were instructed to live in their tents outside the camp for seven days according to the purification requirements of Torah. Everything, whether wood, garments or skins needed to be purified.

“El‘azar the cohen said to the soldiers who had gone to the front, ‘This is the regulation from the Torah which Adonai has ordered Moshe. Even though gold, silver, brass, iron, tin and lead can all withstand fire, so that you are indeed to purify everything made of these materials by having them pass through fire; nevertheless they must also be purified with the water for purification. Everything that can’t withstand fire you are to have go through the water. On the seventh day you are to wash your clothes, and you will be clean; after that you may enter the camp’” (Numbers 31:21-24).

According to Sha’ul, at the judgment seat of Elohim, whatever is used to build on the foundation of the apostles and prophets will be purified by fire. Some will build using gold, silver or precious stones; others will build using wood, grass or straw. All will go through the fire to test the quality of each person’s work for the Kingdom. If what has been built survives, the individual will receive a reward; if it is burned up, the individual will have to bear the loss. His reward is to escape with his life, but as escaping through fire (1 Corinthians 3:1-15).

Even though gold, silver, brass, iron, tin, and lead can all withstand fire, they must also be purified with water. This cleansing is an allusion to when Adonai takes Isra’el from among the nations and sprinkles clean water on them. They will be purified from their idolatries and receive a new heart (Ezekiel 36:24-28).

All of the plunder from the battle was divided between the soldiers and the community of Isra’el. A tax was paid by the soldiers to the cohen; and the tax paid by the community went to the Levites to care for the Mishkan. The officers and commanders who fought against Midian came to Moshe and told him they had counted their soldiers and no one was lost in the battle. They brought an offering of armlets, bracelets, signet rings, earrings and belts to make atonement for themselves before ‘I Am.’

The Battle Rages Today

“Therefore,” says the Lord, Adonai-Tzva’ot, the Mighty One of Isra’el, “I will free myself of my adversaries, I will take vengeance on my enemies” (Isaiah 1:24).

In Judges 11, there is an account of Jephthah having an argument over land, the same land that was won by Isra’el in the war against the kings who refused to let them pass through peacefully. Jephthah reminds the people of Ammon that Isra’el possessed the land through war that was begun by selfish kings whose hearts hated Isra’el.

His statement is as true today as it was in the days of the Ammonites. Land that is possessed or lost in war remains in the hands of the victor. The land given to Reuben, Gad and Manasseh, populated by Isra’el millennia ago is still their land as it was not lost in a war. The battles being fought today in Gaza and the West Bank is all about land that could have been part of a 1948 two-state solution, but the Arab nations didn’t want two states. They wanted no state of Isra’el. Thus, they went to war with a tiny nation that had virtually no military and lost the war and their land.

Jephthah warns the Ammonites: “You should just keep the territory your god K’mosh has given you; while we, for our part, will hold onto whatever Adonai our God has given us of the lands that belonged to others before us. Isra’el lived in Heshbon and its villages, in ‘Aro’er and its villages and in all the cities on the banks of the Arnon for 300 years. Why didn’t you take them back during that time? No, I have done you no wrong. But you are doing me wrong to war against me. May Adonai the Judge be the judge today between the people of Isra’el and the people of ‘Amon” (Judges 11:24). The same warning applies today for those nations that refuse to acknowledge the state of Isra’el. However, the real battle is for Jerusalem, the city where Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh has put His Name. In 2017 that battle rages larger as the United States of America acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Isra’el.

Crossing the Jordan

Reuben and Gad see the land on the eastern side of the Jordan is good for raising livestock. Elohim had conquered that land for Isra’el so they approach Moshe to ask if they may remain there and raise their animals.

Moshe becomes upset with them believing they were deserting their brothers as they went into battle to conquer Canaan.  However, Reuben and Gad only wanted to build structures for their livestock and cities for their wives and children so they would have a place to live.  They promise to go with their brothers across the Jordan and fight until each tribe had received its land inheritance.  

“We will not return to our own homes until every man in Isra’el has taken possession of his land for inheritance. We will not have an inheritance with them on the other side of the Yarden, westward; because our inheritance has fallen to us on this side of the Yarden, eastward” (Numbers 32:18-19).

Moshe gave Reuben, Gad, and one-half of the Tribe of Manasseh land on the eastern side of the Jordan. They were given the kingdom of Sichon, king of the Emorites, and the kingdom of Og, King of Bashon (the giant).   Both of these kings had refused the peaceful passage of the Israelites and lost possession of their land through warfare.

Yeshua and Forgiveness

“Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us…. For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours” (Matthew 6:12,14).

“Then Kefa came up and said to him, ‘Rabbi, how often can my brother sin against me and I have to forgive him? As many as seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ answered Yeshua, ‘but seventy times seven!’” (Matthew 18:21-22)

“Also he took a cup of wine, made the b’rakhah, and gave it to them, saying, ‘All of you, drink from it! For this is my blood, which ratifies the New Covenant, my blood shed on behalf of many, so that they may have their sins forgiven’” (Matthew 26:27-28).

“Some Torah-teachers sitting there thought to themselves, ‘How can this fellow say such a thing? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins except God?’ But immediately Yeshua, perceiving in his spirit what they were thinking, said to them, ‘Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier to say to the paralyzed man? ‘Your sins are forgiven’? or ‘Get up, pick up your stretcher and walk’? But look! I will prove to you that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ He then said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you: get up, pick up your stretcher and go home!’ In front of everyone the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and left. They were all utterly amazed and praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’” (Mark 2:6-12)

“And when you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive your offenses” (Mark 11:25).

“You didn’t put oil on my head, but this woman poured perfume on my feet! Because of this, I tell you that her sins — which are many! — have been forgiven, because she loved much. But someone who has been forgiven only a little loves only a little. Then he said to her, ‘Your sins have been forgiven’” (Luke 7:46-48).

“When they came to the place called The Skull, they nailed him to a stake; and they nailed the criminals to stakes, one on the right and one on the left. Yeshua said, ‘Father, forgive them; they don’t understand what they are doing’” (Luke 23:33-34).

“Having said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Ruach haKodesh! If you forgive someone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you hold them, they are held” (John 20:22-23).

©2018 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this Torah portion, the weekly readings of the Prophets and New Testament, Study Helps, and springboard for midrash, please purchase Open My Eyes: Wonders of Torah.

Psalm 103:1-5 – Bless Adonai My Soul

“Bless Adonai, my soul! Everything in me, bless his holy name! Bless Adonai, my soul, and forget none of his benefits! He forgives all your offenses, he heals all your diseases, he redeems your life from the pit, he surrounds you with grace and compassion, he contents you with good as long as you live, so that your youth is renewed like an eagle’s” (Complete Jewish Bible).

Hebrew for soul is נפש or nephesh.

The Hebrew word for Adonai is the memorial name יהוה yod-hey-vav-hey, Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh, I Am as given to Moses in Exodus 3:14-15.

Hebrew for ‘bless’ is baruk and means ‘to kneel’

Hebrew for ‘benefits’ is gemulav and means ‘recompense.’

Hebrew for ‘holy’ is kadosh and means ‘set apart.’

Hebrew for ‘forgives’ is slee-cha and means ‘pardons and excuses.’

Hebrew for ‘heals’ is rafa and means ‘cure.’ One of the characters traits of Adonai is El Rafa or Rafa-el meaning Elohim is the Healer.

Hebrew for ‘redeems’ is pidyon and means ‘ransom, liberation, and rescue.

Hebrew for ‘beautify’ is yofah and means ‘glorify and adorn.’

Hebrew for dignify is kavar/kavod and means ‘to honor, to venerate.’

Hebrew for ‘crown’ is atar and means ‘invest with regal power, wreath.’

Hebrew for ‘satifsy’ is שבע or saba and means ‘abundance, excess, to fill.

Hebrew for ‘renew’ is chadash and means ‘to renew, rebuild or restore.’ This Hebrew word is used for the ‘new covenant,’ b’rit chadashah revealing a rebuilding, restoring, and renewing of what once was broken (Jeremiah 31:31, Hebrew 8:8).

Greek for “new” is kaine and means ‘new’ in the sense of quality, not time.

“Kneel before Adonai , my nephesh! Everything in me, kneel before his set apart name! Kneel before Adonai, my nephesh and forget not his recompense! He pardons and excuses all your offenses, he cures all your diseases, he liberates your life from the pit, he adorns you with grace and honors you with compassion, he gives you an abundance of good as long as you live, so that your youth is restored like an eagle’s.”

©2020 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

The Swallowing of Overwhelming Depression

“Now if someone has been a cause of pain, it is not I whom he has pained, but, in some measure – I don’t want to overstate it – all of you.  For such a person the punishment already imposed on him by the majority is sufficient, so that now you should do the opposite – forgive him, encourage him, comfort him.  Otherwise such a person might be swallowed up in overwhelming depression.  So I urge you to show that you really do love him” (2 Corinthians 2:5-7). 

Have you ever known someone who has struggled withoverwhelming depression?’  Have you ever considered it was caused a lack of forgiveness, encouragement, and comfort from others, from themselves? 

The person who lives with ‘overwhelming depression’ lives with pain whether it is self-inflicted or from someone else.  Many try to mask that pain with alcohol, sex, and illegal drugs. Many who suffer turn to legal drugs or pharmaceuticals. They rely on medication because they are told their depression is caused by a chemical imbalance in their body.  Of course, medical science can prove this is true, but from where did that chemical imbalance originate?  What is the root of the depression?

“A More Excellent Way” written by Henry Wright delves into the spiritual roots of disease using a Scripture along with his medical background.  He suggests that in order to be healthy ‘mind, body, and soul,’ each of us needs to be in right relationship with God, with others, and with ourselves.

Forgiveness begins with the relationship between an individual and God.  Through Yeshua’s blood, forgiveness of sin is allotted to each of us as individuals.  Forgiveness for and from others is also important.  Yeshua taught that we must forgive others in order to receive forgiveness from Adonai.  He says we are to forgive a brother or sister 7 times 70 or until forgiveness brings healing in the relationship (Matthew 18:22).  Forgiveness of oneself is the most difficult. Loving ourselves includes forgiving ourselves in spite of Satan reminding us of our fallen nature and judging us with words like, “You’re not good enough to be forgiven.”

Recently I read an article about a young woman in the Netherlands who was euthanized because she could no longer ‘live with herself.’  She had been sexually abused as a child and then raped twice as a young adult.  By 17, she felt she could no longer live and that death was the only way out of her pain.  In the Netherlands it is legal for anyone over 12 to commit suicide so doctors agreed with her decision. Her mother also felt that because her daughter struggled with anorexia and nearly died, she should be allowed to die. 

The Netherlands has placed the God of the Bible and Yeshua behind glass like in a museum as something ‘cute’ from the past. This woman died because of pain – pain that Yeshua took upon himself so she could be healed body, soul and spirit.  Instead, she allowed the ‘father of lies’ to speak death into her mind and she is lost for all eternity.  

Each of us can embrace disease like it is our identity. When that begins to happen we need to be reminded to see ourselves as God sees us – whole and healed. Our identity should never be in the pain, the depression, or the disease, but in Yeshua who set us free from the root of everything that causes the pain, depression and disease.

I knew a woman who asked God to put the sins of her husband on her so he could be saved.  God answered this woman’s prayer and gave her a very rare cancer.  Consequently, she embraced her disease as part of carrying her husband’s sin burden!  When she told me what she had done, I told her to immediately repent because we, mere jars of clay, are incapable of taking on our own sin let alone those of someone else.  Her cancer did not go away, but she lived years longer than expected, and passed because of an event that had nothing to do with the cancer.

Awhile back I was part of a group praying for someone who was ill.  Different people asked God to put the person’s burden of the illness on them!  We can carry the burdens of the one who is ill by taking care of them, encouraging them, ministering to their spiritual needs, but we were not created to carry the illness or diseases of anyone.  That is the purpose for Yeshua’s death (Isaiah 53:4-5).

Job was afflicted with horrible sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.  He scratched himself with a piece of pottery and sat in ashes.  He never blamed God for what was happening to him.  He never ‘cursed God and died’ as his wife suggested.  Though there was great discourse between Job and his friends, his righteousness before God had been tested only because the Adversary challenged it. In the end, Job learned about God’s Sovereignty and his life was restored with greater blessings.  In all of his struggles, Job never embraced his afflictions as his identity and never consoled his pain by thinking he suddenly had some inspiration as to how he was going to die!  

One of the names or characteristics of Adonai is the El Rafa or God, The Healer.  Why does anyone believes the Healer would inflict illness on His people.   Perhaps the only reason a person has a some disease is because it’s the only way to send a faithful servant into a place where a doctor or nurse needs to hear the message of repentance and the Kingdom. God does not give us diseases to teach us a lesson or show us the way we are going to die.  Perhaps disease and working through the pain of disease may be God’s way of transforming us into the image of His Son through suffering, but the disease is still not our identity.

Henry Wright suggests that ‘overwhelming depression’ is a spiritual battle caused by a conflict between the spirit and the soul.  When we are diagnosed with an illness like ‘overwhelming depression,’ we need to stop and look at what is happening in our spiritual lives and how it’s affecting our souls.   The famous hymn says, “It Is Well With My Soul,” but is it?  Is there an emotional conflict between what you know is true in your spiritual man and what your soul is telling you?

“We have God’s power for demolishing strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every arrogance that raises itself up against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey the Messiah” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  

I have known three people who have taken their lives.  The first was a man with whom I worked for several years.  I lost touch with him only to reconnect several months before he made that fateful decision.  Those who lived near him heard him fighting with ‘someone’ the night he died though he lived alone.  He was very much into different spiritual entities.  What battle was raging between his spirit and his soul?

The second was a woman who claimed to follow Christ.  She never had any outward sign of depression though after she took her life, it was revealed she struggled with depression for many years.  Why did she succumb to the lies of the evil one?  Was there no one ministering to her the power of God over the enemy’s lies? What were her last moments like?  Did her spirit and soul battle? 

The third was a young man I had known since he was born.   As I tried to understand the reasons for his decision,  I could not fathom making his reason to ‘end it all.’  He had a wife and two very young sons.  Yet, he also believed the lies of the evil one who came to steal, kill, and destroy his life and his family.  From the evidence surrounding his death, there was an obvious spiritual conflict going on between his spirit and his soul. 

The most famous Biblical suicide was Judas.  Once he betrayed Yeshua, he went to the authorities and said, “I sinned in betraying an innocent man to death.”  He, too, had a struggle between his soul and his spirit.  The leaders didn’t care that he had a conscience so he hurled the pieces of silver into the sanctuary of the Temple and went out and hung himself (Matthew 27:1-10).

With each of those that I knew who took their lives, much discussion ensues about eternity.  Some believe the person loses eternal life; others believe they never had it.  Still others say, ‘once saved, always saved’ or believe that just because the person left loved ones, they receive a special reserved place in heaven.  Though each person has their reason for their viewpoint, they never really talk about the consequences of the ‘murder of self.’ I had no real opinion so I put it in the category of God knows the destiny of the one who commits suicide since it’s not definitively laid out in Scripture.

When I was in Israel I asked a man who claimed to be a cohen how Judaism viewed suicide. He explained the Scriptures clearly state that we will each stand before God and give an account of our lives.  In Judaism, it is believed that the person who takes his own life will also give an account of his death.  That was a new perspective for me.  Giving an account of our individual lives and every word spoken is already overwhelming to think about, but what a burden to carry to give an account of one’s death!  What would it be like to stand before the Judge and explain why I didn’t want His breath of life flowing through my body?  What would it be like to say, “I chose the day I died, not You?”

After considering the words of Sha’ul to the Corinthians, I began to see something else about ‘overwhelming depression.’ What if those who take their lives stand before God and say, “No one forgave me, no one encouraged my faith in Yeshua, no one comforted me when I struggled?”  What if the Body of Messiah will ultimately be accountable for the death of those who were struggling with ‘overwhelming depression?’  What if the Body of Messiah has lost the conviction to forgive, encourage, and comfort? What if the Body of Messiah has lost its connection with Yeshua who has the Words of eternal life and the Spirit that gives life? 

Sha’ul says in 1 Corinthians 11 that those who ‘eat the body and drink the wine’ in an unworthy manner, who don’t recognize the Body of Messiah, drink judgment upon themselves.  He explains this is why many are weak and sick within the congregation.  Could the same be said for those who don’t forgive, encourage, and comfort those with ‘overwhelming depression,’ suffering a conflict between spirit and soul?

These questions will be answered in the world to come; however, today I hear of another man, an acquaintance of friends, who took his life. What it will be like when he stands before God and gives an account of his death?  Will it be about the battle between his soul and spirit that he had no power to overcome? Will it be that he just didn’t know or understand that his identity wasn’t in the pain he suffered –– it was in Yeshua who took his pain so he could be free from his suffering?   Or, will it be that he never had truly accepted the forgiveness offered by Adonai through Yeshua’s blood. Though everyone said he was a good man, did he have a broken, un-restored relationship with God that will keep him from Eternity?

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Whatever happened to forgiveness?

Recently I had a discussion with my brother about forgiveness. It began with his question, “Whatever happened to people forgiving one another instead of always being offended?”

The dictionary defines ‘forgive’ as the ability to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake; to cease to feel resentment against. Within that definition is the word ‘offense’ or the annoyance and resentment brought about by a perceived insult or disregard for one’s standards or principles. These definitions of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘offense’ make the question even more intriguing.

What happened that people can’t stop feeling anger or resentment toward others and so continue to embrace perceived insults for their standards or principles?

The answer to that question is simple and complex. It begins with our culture’s loss of belief in God, loss of their identity as a human being created by Him, and loss of humility before Him. Arrogance stands in direct opposition to Him and is the seed of fruit eaten in the garden.

Years ago I read a book entitled, Out on a Broken Limb by Shirley McLaine. This woman has no fear of God, but believes herself to be God. There was a little description of her standing on the shore of the ocean punching her fists in the air screaming at the top of her lungs, “I AM GOD!” over and over confirming her stance in the presence of the Almighty that She. Is. God. Yet, in the ears of the Creator of the Universe, her voice sounds like a mere ant standing on a minute grain of sand. He could barely hear her tiny high-pitched squeal and laughed at her arrogance. Such arrogance breeds offense and not forgiveness.

Yeshua taught in “The Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us.”

Yet, arrogance never allows for personal wrongdoing. Arrogance judges others as the wrong doers and therefore responds with ‘offense’ and ‘unforgiveness.’ This arrogant attitude destroys personal relationships in families between parents and children, husbands and wives in marriages, friendships, and even church fellowships. Forgiveness is an act of humility and “if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours” (Matthew 6:12, 15; Colossians 3:13).

We live in a culture that believes a heavenly Father no longer exists in the world of His creation. So, who cares if He forgives us or not? We are ‘little gods’ and create Him in our image just like Shirley McClaine standing on the beach. We should care because without ‘forgiveness’ we will continue to live in a culture of ‘offense’ that will escalate in strife, anger, bitterness, and ultimately murder while we wonder what is happening in the world.

“Love covers a multitude of sins [offenses]” (1 Peter 4:8).

Love. Social media is filled with memes about love. Love is constantly preached in our culture, but it is not a Biblical love ; it’s a Beatles humanistic love that makes the individual the center of the universe. It is a deceptive love that promotes tolerance, but never forbears. This love is not the authentic, unconditional love that each human soul truly seeks. In fact, it appears to be false love that promotes dissension and division between individuals and groups of people.

First Corinthians 13, defines authentic sacrificial love and says keeping a record of wrongs is not love and neither is being easily angered, rude or selfish. The greatest kindness we can give to one another is to bear with one another and not keep a record of the offenses allowing anger to build until there is an explosion.

According to the definition of ‘offense’, it is ‘perceived’ and not necessarily something real. It is something the mind embraces until it takes over the entire thought process and defines who the person is. God did not create humanity to be defined by a political view or moral issue.

Forgiving an ‘offense’ is a choice. ‘Forgiveness’ is the willful act of covering over the ‘offenses’ of another. This is not the same as giving a thumbs-up to their ‘offense.’ This type of ‘forgiveness’ brings restoration to divisions, civil unrest, and broken relationships. ‘Forgiveness’ brings peace, joy, and hope back into the world.

©2019 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.