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Rumination #30: My love is measured by how well I listen. How well I listen is measured by how I respond.

In its modern usage, love is rarely spoken of in relationship to listening.

In the Bible, love is different. It speaks of husband and wife; of parent and child; and of HaShem and His people. It is there that we learn what real love is - and it always involves listening. If we were speaking Hebrew, that might be enough to make the point - but English makes listening passive. Love is not passive, and it does not simply "go in one ear and out the other." In Hebrew, to sh'ma is to respond. It is not merely hearing – it is reacting to what is spoken. We cannot claim to love G-d, and not respond positively to what He says. To sh'ma is to hear and obey. It is why in Hebrew, the words for "hear" and "obey" is the same: sh'ma.

Followers of Messiah should not wonder if some "obscure commandment" from the "Old Testament" applies to them (there are no "obscure commandments to those who love G-d).

If you love Me, keep My commandments.
John 14:15

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.
John 14:21

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
John 15:10

You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
John 15:14

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1John 2:3-4

By this we know that we love the children of G-d, when we love G-d and keep His commandments. For this is the love of G-d, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
1John 5:2-3

Do you have ears? Did you hear what the Almighty spoke? Why are you not responding in love, by obeying Him? Sh'ma!

Parashat Emor - 'Say' (Leviticus 21:1-24:23)

Parashat Emor is named for a word in first verse:

Vayomer HaShem el-Moshe emor el-hakohanim b'nei Aharon v'amarta alehem l'nefesh lo-yitama b'amav:

And HaShem said to Moses, 'Speak to the priests the sons of Aaron, and say to them, "None shall defile himself for the dead among his people."'

Leviticus 21:1

If you have been reading the Torah for long, you may have become familiar with the formula, "And HaShem said to Moses..." In Hebrew, it is the phrase,

"Vayomer HaShem el-Moshe..."

Such a common phrase can be easily dismissed by some. Let's try to understand it, and to understand its significance in this week's Scripture portion.

That exact phrase is used sixty-six times in the Torah. That makes it one of the most often repeated phrases in all of Scripture. If that does not get your attention, it should. Something is being conveyed here. Note that it does not say, "The word of HaShem came to Moses" as is often the case in the prophets. Instead, HaShem spoke to Moses. See why in the following Scripture:

Then He said, "Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, HaShem, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of HaShem. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?"
Numbers 12:6-8

The Almighty speaks to Moses, and then Moses speaks to the people. Moses does not speak for himself. Moses does not make it up. Moses speaks the very words of HaShem.

Beloved, pay attention here. The Torah of Moses, is the Torah of HaShem. The words of the Torah are the words of HaShem. Moses spoke only the words that were spoken to him. How odd that we even have to point to that fact. Do not permit anyone to denigrate the Word of the Almighty by saying something like, "But that is the Law of Moses, and we have the New Testament…" as if somehow because G-d spoke through Moses that makes those words suspect or inferior. May it never be! To those who think and promote such thinking, we must remember the words of the King of the Universe who says in Numbers 12:8:

"...Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?"

What is so important about G-d speaking? Beloved, if you do not get anything else in your study this week it is this: G-d speaks, and His words are His revealed will.

Let me say it again this way: G-d speaks and thereby reveals His will. Got it? G-d spoke, Moses wrote it down. Only one question should remain for us... are we going to hear [sh'ma, hear and obey]?

A Prophet Like Moses

This is one of the things that Moses wrote down:

HaShem your G-d will raise up for you a Prophet like me [Moses] from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of HaShem your G-d in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, 'Let me not hear again the voice of HaShem my G-d, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die. And HaShem said to me: 'What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you [Moses] from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.'"
Deuteronomy 13:15-20

Who is this "Prophet like you [Moses]"? The writers of the Apostolic Scriptures make it clear. Peter, in Acts 3:22; and Stephen, in Acts 7:37, identify Messiah Yeshua as the "Prophet like Moses." The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews writes of Messiah Yeshua comparing Him to the faithful Moses:

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Messiah Yeshua, Who was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was faithful in all His house.
Hebrews 3:1-2

Yeshua is certainly more than a "Prophet like Moses" - and yet He Himself says,

Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.
John 14:10

He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.
John 14:24

Then Yeshua said to them, "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things."
John 8:28

The Master of life speaks only the words given to Him by the Father? How humble, how obedient! Now I must ask a question that sadly the answer is not plain to many. Whose words did Yeshua speak? Were they different words than Moses spoke?

Remember, G-d speaks His will.

Sadly, there are many who believe that "Jesus" speaks differently than Moses. If so, then they deny Yeshua's own words about what He spoke. As well, many elevate the Apostle Paul above Moses. In so doing, they also elevate Paul above Messiah Yeshua. So let's see, Moses speaks only what G-d speaks. Yeshua (by Whom the worlds were created), speaks only what the Father speaks... but Paul trumps them all? May it never be! Paul speaks only what His Master, Yeshua speaks. Paul tells us,

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Messiah.
1Corinthians 10:33

Paul was a faithful prophet. He was a faithful follower of the Messiah. He taught what Yeshua taught - and Yeshua taught what Moses taught... because the source for all of them was the same: the mouth of the Almighty.

Words of Life

So, what comes from the mouth of the Almighty? What are these words that He speaks? What is so important about His revealed will? They are about life. His words are words of life. They are words of life in this world, and the World to Come.

Yeshua speaks from Deuteronomy 8:3 in Matthew 4:4:

But He [Yeshua] answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of G-d.'"
Matthew 4:4

Let's hear that again,

... man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of HaShem.
Deuteronomy 8:3b

What comes from the mouth of the Almighty is about life! How sad that many despise what G-d spoke though His faithful servant Moses. They think in this that somehow they prove their loyalty to "Jesus." They are wrong. Yeshua said,

For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
John 5:46-47

Those who refuse to hear what G-d spoke through His servant Moses will have trouble hearing the words of Yeshua. The reason: Moses and Yeshua speak only the words they were given. Same source. Same words. How dangerous it is to despise words spoken by the Almighty, or to theologically negate them with a false piety and religious superiority. Remember, G-d speaks His will.

Yeshua said,

Not everyone who says to Me, "L-rd, L-rd," shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, "L-rd, L-rd, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?" And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness! [anomia, literally "Torah-less-ness"]."
Matthew 7:21-23

Don't despise what He has spoken through His prophets.  G-d speaks, and His words are His revealed will.

And HaShem said to Moses, 'Speak....'

The word "emor" [say, speak] is used twenty times in this week's portion. Apparently, there is a lot about G-d's will that is revealed in these three chapters.

G-d speaksabout how priests should act and to perform their duties in the Tabernacle. He speaks about how Israelites should not oppress one another. He speaks of the seventh year sabbatical year and the fiftieth Jubilee year.

He also speaksabout His Mo'adim - His holy appointments with His people. Leviticus 23 is near and dear to those who revere the Torah of HaShem. The reason why is because they have discovered that just as the Tabernacle was a holy space, the Mo'adim are holy times. The Almighty, Eternal King of the Universe has sanctified time. These seven G-d given appointments [mo'adim] are broken down this way:

Although these are not all of the appointed times in Scripture these are certainly the big ones. Elsewhere, we learn of the monthly "new moon," and the feast of Purim for example.  But the appointed times in Leviticus 23 provide the framework for the entire Gospel of John. John is written around the Mo'adim of Leviticus 23.

How is it possible that so many followers our Messiah do not know of these appointments that the Almighty has put on His calendar for His family? Beloved, sadly it is because they do not hearthe "words of Moses" - because they think they are different words than the words of the "New Testament." That is wrong. They are the same words. The same source. When G-d speaks, His servants should hear [sh'ma, hear and obey]. Remember, G-d speaks His will.  "And HaShem said to Moses, 'Speak....'"

Sometimes I hear people accuse believers who have had their ears opened to the complete Word of G-d of a kind of heresy. They accuse us of "adding" to the Gospel. Otherwise well-meaning people accuse us of "believing in Jesus plus something..." 

Ironically, many who might voice such protests could be rightly asked if they believe in:

Beloved, may it never be. Some of these things may be fine and wholesome activities - but remember not to replace or annul what actually came from the mouth of the Almighty. What He speaks - that is His revealed will.

Beloved remember, the words of the Almighty are never "Yeshua plus something..." We have placed our faith in Yeshua's work on our behalf, trusting solely upon the grace of the Almighty. In love we choose to sh'ma [hear, and obey] the words of our Master. His words are the same words spoken to Moses. The words of HaShem are life.

Man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of HaShem

Instead of covering our ears, or following after strange teachings. Let us respond as Samuel did when he was a child:

Now HaShem came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel answered, "Speak, for Your servant hears." Then HaShem said to Samuel: "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle."
1Samuel 3:10-11

Are your ears tingling? I hope not. Hear and obey the words spoken by the Almighty. They are words of life.

Then Yeshua said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" But Simon Peter answered Him, "L-rd, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life."
John 6:67-68

... man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of HaShem.
Deuteronomy 8:3b

Beloved, G-d speaks His will.  "And HaShem said to Moses, 'Speak....'" It is our delightful duty to sh'ma [hear and obey].

Haftarat Emor - 'Say' (Ezekiel 44:15-31)

This week's Torah portion is from Leviticus 21:1-24:23. This week's Torah readings are centered around the priesthood and some of the instructions on the offerings. This week's haftarah reading from the Prophets is connected because of those subjects.

Before we look at the haftarah itself, it may be necessary to dispel some false impressions regarding the kohenim [priests], and the Kohen Gadol [High Priest].

There has been a false teaching that has been around since the time of the Protestant Reformation that, "All believers are priests, so we have no need of the priesthood apart from that." That, beloved, is quite untrue although an understandable reaction to the Roman Catholic "priesthood." There is likewise an equally dangerous false teaching from which the "church" ordains priests. This is not true either. While it is true that we are a "Royal Priesthood" (1Peter 2:9), we may have forgotten that this was all of Israel's calling, and yet it is only the family of Aaron, of the Tribe of Levi that is given the duty of kohen [priests] in HaShem's Presence on earth.

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a Kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.
Exodus 19:5-6

Although this remains true, this is not the same thing as the priesthood of the family of Aaron. Beloved, let me be very clear: The priesthood of the descendants of Aaron is the only legitimate priesthood on earth - to this day. Period. You can take it to the bank, because HaShem has thus spoken:

And HaShem spoke to Aaron: "Here, I Myself have also given you charge of My heave offerings, all the holy gifts of the children of Israel; I have given them as a portion to you and your sons, as an ordinance forever... All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer to HaShem, I have given to you and your sons and daughters with you as an ordinance forever; it is a covenant of salt forever before HaShem with you and your descendants with you."
Numbers 18:8; 19

"What about the High Priesthood of Messiah?" You might ask. I am glad you brought that up. You see, the foundational Scripture passage for understanding the High Priesthood of Messiah is found in Hebrews, which in my opinion is the most quoted yet least understood book in the Apostolic Scriptures. For instance, very few people in discussing the High Priesthood of Messiah bother to read this verse:

For if He [Messiah] were on earth, He would not be a priest, since there are priests who offer the gifts according to the Law.
Hebrews 8:4

No wonder there are so many antinomians [against the Torah] out there - they read Scripture with blinders on, or through the lens of their particular theology. So intent on eradicating everything from the "Old Covenant" (their words), and hence all things that look and sound "Jewish," they ignore the plain teaching of Scripture.

There is a priesthood on earth... and it is the priesthood of Aaron. Period. And it is eternal. Period. If you negate the eternal priesthood of Aaron, you in fact negate the highest priesthood of all, the High Priesthood of Messiah, which is reserved for the heavenly domain. Beloved, once you start undoing the covenants and promises of HaShem you are in a place of spiritual limbo. "Eternal" means eternal. And for the record, the descendants of Aaron are not only not "lost" - they are the most recognized group of individuals in the world today. They have maintained their family identity where other groups have become obscure in intermarriage etc. And yet determining the heredity of a descendant of Aaron is one of the clearest genetic tests there is today. We know who they are, and most certainly HaShem knows them. The Tribe of Levi even has its own web site:

With that understanding, let us look at this week's haftarah portion from Ezekiel. Ezekiel 44:15-31 is found in the middle of eight chapters at the end of Ezekiel that describe in intricate detail the building and operation of a yet-future Temple in Jerusalem. This is King Messiah's Temple. It is not some mystical analogy as so many must resort to because of its startling detail. It is real. It is as real as Messiah Yeshua's own physical body. Remember that whenever anyone starts playing the "analogy game" - it is an old game played by the worst heretics ever. Gnosticism is not new, and the "analogy game" is their prime method. No, Ezekiel is describing a real Temple in Jerusalem. Our haftarah portion is describing a real priesthood - descendants of Aaron. They are serving in a real Temple - the likes of which have never been seen before.

But the Priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, who kept charge of My sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray from Me, they shall come near Me to minister to Me; and they shall stand before Me to offer to Me the fat and the blood," says Ad-nai HaShem. They shall enter My sanctuary, and they shall come near My table to minister to Me, and they shall keep My charge."
Ezekiel 44:15-16

We have established who these kohenim [priests] are. What is it exactly that they do? To know that you need to know their family roots. And their family roots are further revealed in their family names.

Levi was the third son of Jacob by his wife Leah.

And she [Leah] conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.
Genesis 29:35

First, the Tribe of Levi are those called to "join" others to HaShem. "Levi" means "to join." Next, Aaron, of the Tribe of Levi was named, "Light bringer." The kohenim [priests] were called to "bring light." Lastly, the sons of Zadok (from our Ezekiel passage), of the line of Aaron, of the Tribe of Judah were named for their ancestor Zadok. "Zadok" [Tzadok] means, "righteous." The sons of Zadok live and teach righteousness.

As you study this week's Torah and haftarah portions, give particular attention to the things that these sons of Aaron and sons of Zadok do. If you want to know someone, watch what they do. The Kohenim [priests] of the line of Zadok, because they kept charge of HaShem's sanctuary when the children of Israel went astray, they will:

Best of all, these Levites, sons of Aaron, sons of Zadok will have HaShem as their inheritance. He is their possession. It is no wonder that when the Torah is read in prayer services that the first portion is given to the kohenim. Beloved, as you read this week's portions understand that kohenim are a precious gift in our midst. They are HaShem's anointed. Honor them. Pray for them. One day, may they all serve HaShem in King Messiah's Temple. May it be soon, in our days.

Prayer Focus for Emor -  'Avodah' [Divine Service]

Our prayer focus is "Avodah" which is the prayer for the return of the Beit HaMikdash [Holy Temple], and the Temple Service. It is part of the Shemoneh Esrei [Amidah] prayer.

Be favorable, HaShem, our G-d and toward Your people Israel and their prayer and restore the service to the Holy of Holies of Your Temple. The fire-offerings of Israel and their prayer accept with love and favor, and may the service of Your people Israel always be favorable to You.

May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in compassion.
Blessed are You, HaShem, Who restores His Presence to Zion.

-- ArtScroll translation

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