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Ruminations

Rumination #45: What does the touching of a mezuzah really signify?

You shall write them on the doorposts [mezuzot – plural of "mezuzah"] of your house and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:9

Tradition says that the commandment of the mezuzah is fulfilled by putting a scroll of the biblical text inside a case and affixing it to the right side of the door(s) of a house. Tradition also says that as we come in and go out, we are to touch the mezuzah and kiss our hand.

The Shuchan Aruch gives this explanation for this tradition.

Whenever you enter of leave your home, you will encounter the Oneness of HaShem, the Name of the Holy One, blessed is He, and recalling His love you will awaken from your lethargy and cease going astray after the vanities of the times. You will then realize that nothing endures forever except the knowledge of the Eternal One, and will immediately return to your senses, and walk in the path of the righteous.
Kitzur Shulchan Aruch p.81

Traditionally, having a mezuzah affixed to your doorpost does not completely fulfill the commandment of the mezuzah. Rather, the constant reminder, and our response to His love for us is the true fulfillment of this commandment.

It does appear that this tradition is not only done in literal obedience to the commandment (affixing to the doorposts of your house and your gates); but going to the deeper level and demanding a persistent attitude of repentance on our part.

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Messiah Yeshua; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy."

...having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of G-d which lives and abides forever, because "All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the word of the L-rd endures forever." Now this is the word which by the good news was preached to you.
1Peter 1:13-16; 23-25

So when you walk past a mezuzah, stop for a moment. Think about what it means, respond with the hand, and a kiss… then walk righteously… as you go in, and as you go out.

Parashat Shoftim - 'Judges' (Deuteronomy 16:18-21:19)

This week's parasha is named for the first word of the Hebrew text of Deuteronomy 16:18.

Shof'tim v'shot'rim, titen-l'cha b'chol-sh'areicha, asher HaShem Elokeicha noten l'cha, lishvateicha; v'shaf'tu et-ha'am, mishpat-tzedek.

You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which HaShem your G-d gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment.

Deuteronomy 16:18

Shoftim. Judges. Mishpat-tzedek. Righteous Judgment. Beloved, G-d ordained that men would be judges. But righteous judgment requires adhering to a standard that is not man-made. G-d's standard. The problem is, for too long, some who claim to be believers have used man's standards instead of G-d's. This is a problem that has long infected mankind. In the days of the first Apostles, there were some shoftim [judges] who did not use G-d's standards either.


And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people. Then there arose some from what is called the Synagogue of the Freedmen... disputing with Stephen. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Then they secretly induced men to say, 'We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and G-d.'...They also set up false witnesses who said ,'This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the Torah; for we have heard him say that this Yeshua of Natzeret will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.'...

Then the high priest said, 'Are these things so?' And he [Stephen] said, '...This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, "HaShem your G-d will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear."'
Acts 6:8-7:3;7:37

Stephen, one of the seven chosen in Acts 6 to serve the Jerusalem congregation, used a verse from this week's parasha to make a point in his defense. What defense you ask? The defense against a false charge. A charge that if proven would result in the death penalty. The penalty he ultimately suffered. So, we must ask ourselves, was Stephen guilty as charged? It depends on who you ask. If you were to ask some on the Sanhedrin that day, you would hear them say, "Guilty!" Sadly, throughout the history of the "church," we have had many teachers and theologians agree with the Sanhedrin that day. They just didn't know that they were agreeing. Let's look into it. Our Scripture portion has some powerful teaching for us in this area - and a warning for our future.

Here is what Stephen was quoting from:

HaShem your G-d will raise up for you a Prophet like me 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 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.' And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the word which HaShem has not spoken?' - when a prophet speaks in the name of HaShem, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which HaShem has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy18:15-22

Stephen was using this passage as a proof-text for proving that Yeshua was the "Prophet like Moses" that was promised. Yeshua was the mouthpiece of the Almighty. Deuteronomy 18:15 was used by Peter in Acts 3:22 to make precisely the same point. In fact, early on in Yeshua's earthly ministry we see that this is precisely the way His talmidim[disciples] always saw Him.

Philip found Natan'el and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the Torah, and also the prophets, wrote - Yeshua of Natzeret, the son of Yosef."
John1:45

Deuteronomy 18:15-22 has long been seen as a Messianic promise. Although many do not normally consider Messiah to be a Prophet, let's be clear - to be a prophet, means that someone speaks G-d's words. Messiah is the ultimate Prophet. Here is what Yeshua said of Himself,

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.
John14:10

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?
John5:46-47

Yeshua is the Prophet like Moses. Although Yeshua is much greaterthan Moses, His words and His life were absolutely consistent with the words spoken though Moses. That is the point. That was the test.

Beloved, the test of Deuteronomy 18:15-22 is a test of the Messiah, but it not the only test. Many teachers teach that for a person to be a valid prophet what they say must come to pass. While that is one test, it is not the ultimate test. While it is true that a test of Messiah is that whatever He says must come to pass, but it is not the ultimate test. No, the ultimate test for the prophet is found in last week's portion.

If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods' - which you have not known - 'and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for HaShem your G-d is testing you to know whether you love HaShem your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after HaShem your G-d and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from HaShem your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which HaShem your G-d commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.
Deuteronomy13:1-5

Let's take Stephen through this test first. This was supposed to be the job of those shoftim [judges] on that fateful day in Acts. Was Stephen a prophet - could he be trusted?

"And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people."
Acts 6:8

"If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder..."
Deuteronomy13:1

Signs and wonders - come to pass. Check.

So far in Stephen's trial there is no dispute over his qualifications. Watch the charges against him however.

"This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the Torah; for we have heard him say that this Yeshua of Natzeret will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us."
Acts 6:13-14

'Let us go after other gods' -which you have not known - 'and let us serve them,'...You shall walk after HaShem your G-d and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.
Deuteronomy13:2, 4

Beloved, if Stephen was a Torah-breaker as he was accused, and if he was leading the people into a "new religion" and away from the words of HaShem spoken through Moses - then he was guilty as charged. He was a false prophet. Those who think that being a "disciple of Jesus" is to be a follower of a new religion - one that differs from the "religion" of Abraham and David - must concede that by Deuteronomy 13, Stephen was a false prophet. If Acts 2 represents a "new way" with a "new congregation" - then Stephen should have been stoned, along with the Apostles.

But wait, notice what the good doctor Luke says about these accusations against Stephen:

"They also set up false witnesses who said..."
Acts 6:13a

These were false charges. Stephen was not guilty of leading the people to a new religion. Nor was he guilty of teaching against the words of HaShem spoken through Moses. So, what was the problem? What is really going on in the trial of Stephen? Beloved, as much as you may have heard that this was a battle between the religion of works and the new religion of faith... it was not. Notice the zinger that Stephen slings at the Sanhedrin that day. His closing remarks to them were:

You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the Torah by the direction of angels and have not kept it." When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.
Acts 7:51-54

Stephen has just turned the tables. It is not he who is the false prophet, identified by a lack of fidelity to the revelation of HaShem in His Torah - no, it was those who sat in judgment of him who had failed to obey the Torah.

The Sanhedrin that day convicted an innocent man. They did not use mishpat-tzedek [righteous judgment]. Classical teachers who have taught that Yeshua and His disciples started a new religion of "faith" and annulled the Torah, have also condemned an innocent man, the prophet Stephen. Which raises the question, "Whose side are we on?"

What about Yeshua? How does He stand up to the test of the prophet in Deuteronomy 13:1-5?

Signs and wonders that come to pass. Check.

Did He lead us away from the words of HaShem spoken through Moses? Well, let's let Him speak, shall we?

Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Torah till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew5:17-18

Yeshua not only spoke of His fidelity to the words spoken through Moses - He spoke them again and again. And He lived them. Perfectly. Yeshua even used the very provisions of the Torah as legal grounds to redeem us through His own death and resurrection.

Yeshua was innocent of the charges brought against Him. Sadly, some who claim to be His followers have brought the same charges against Him. The single greatest impediment for Jewish people recognizing that Yeshua is the Messiah over the past 1,900 years has been the wrong teaching that "Jesus did away with the Law, and replaced it with grace." Beloved, if Yeshua did that, then according to Deuteronomy 13:1-5 He was not a prophet or mouthpiece for G-d. If He did that, then according to Deuteronomy 18:15, He was not the Messiah.

By His fidelity to the Torah, He proved His words were not His own. He is not only a prophet - He is the Prophet. He is the Messiah. His is the very Voice of HaShem. Listen to Him.

Here is the caution about a time yet future. There is a man coming, a man of "lawlessness" - a man of Torah-lessness. This man too will provide signs and wonders - that will lead many astray. Maybe some will say, "This must be the long-awaited messiah." Yeshua warned us that even the elect would be deceived if that were possible. What keeps the deception at bay? Knowing the test of the Messiah, and the test of a prophet from Deuteronomy 13 and 18 may well keep many of our Jewish brothers and sisters that do not know Messiah yet from being deceived by the coming false messiah.

And those who know the unchangeable nature of their G-d will not be deceived.

Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their G-d shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.
Daniel 11:32

Even so, come quickly King Messiah Yeshua! Come quickly! We await You and Your Kingdom. We wait for You, the Perfect Judge.

Haftarat Shoftim - 'Judges' (Isaiah 51:12-52:12)

This week's haftarah is the fourth in the series of seven haftarot of consolation that are read between Tisha B'Av and Rosh Hashana. The focus of this week's reading from the Prophets is once again consolation for Jerusalem, and the Messianic promise. This week's Torah and haftarah readings are loaded with Messianic importance.

Our haftarah of consolation is similar in theme to last week's. In very clear and unmistakable language, the Sovereign of the Universe pledges His eternal love and commitment to Israel, and turns the curses of those who hate Israel against themselves. These words of consolation are also words of warning. It should be a sobering thought to all those "theologies" that replace Israel with "the church." May we all examine our hearts and ask the Almighty to reveal any vestiges of a "theology" that is in opposition to Messiah's Kingship.

To those returning to the Land of Promise He says,

I, even I, am He who comforts you. who are you that you should be afraid of a man who will die, and of the son of a man who will be made like grass? And you forget the HaShem your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth; you have feared continually every day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he has prepared to destroy. And where is the fury of the oppressor?
Isaiah 51:12-13

In these later days, as we hear the clamor of certain groups that claim that they know the Messiah of Scriptures, and yet deny the covenantal inheritance of the Land to the people of Israel, one must wonder whose side are they on? Many so-called "evangelical" leaders are becoming even more vocal against the State of Israel. They quote Scripture. They are pious and conservative... and yet many are turning their backs on the very promises of G-d. By thus cursing Israel, they risk far more than they can ever imagine. This modern folly has been played out in Christian history since the Second Century, with apparent impunity... but those days are drawing to a close. HaShem of Hosts is arising:

But I am the HaShem your G-d Who divided the sea whose waves roared. HaShem of Hosts is His Name. And I have put My words in your mouth; I have covered you with the shadow of My hand, that I may plant the heavens, lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion, 'You are My people.'"
Isaiah 51:15

Yes, those leaders who think that being "the church" allows them to speak against the inheritance of the Land promised in Genesis 15, may soon realize their folly - but maybe not before it is too late. This is of the gravest of positions in which to be: Claiming an inheritance "in Christ" but denying the inheritance promised to His brothers. Nothing has changed since the days when Augustine, Origen, and Martyr cursed the Jewish people in their "theological writings." When those denominations of the Reformation repeat the error of the Roman "church" we know that the deception continues. May the G-d of the Universe grant them mercy, and open their eyes, that they may repent before the great and awesome Day of HaShem.

Therefore please hear this, you afflicted, and drunk but not with wine. Thus says your L-rd, HaShem and your G-d, Who pleads the cause of His people: "See, I have taken out of your hand the cup of trembling, the dregs of the cup of My fury; you shall no longer drink it. But I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you, who have said to you, 'Lie down, that we may walk over you.' And you have laid your body like the ground, and as the street, for those who walk over."
Isaiah 51:21-23

Choose wisely, those who think that they can claim the Name of "Christ," and yet deny that His is Messiah of Israel. Choose wisely, those who think that they can demand "a two-state solution" - giving away the very Land given to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Choose your side wisely. If you continue to curse "unbelieving Jews" you may soon find the same dregs that you have made them drink in the Inquisitions, forced conversions, Passion Plays, and gas chambers - being given to you to drink. Choose wisely and repent. The day is coming... Israel is, and will always be, under the shadow of the Almighty's hand. You think that because it appears that you have gotten away with your "Replacement Theology" that G-d has blessed you? Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Greece, Rome, and Germany all learned the lesson you have not. May you learn it before it is too late: touch not my anointed!

Awake, awake! Put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city! For the uncircumcised and the unclean shall no longer come to you. Shake yourself from the dust, arise; sit down, O Jerusalem! Loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion!

For thus says HaShem G-d: "My people went down at first into Egypt to dwell there; then the Assyrian oppressed them without cause. Now therefore, what have I here," says HaShem, "That My people are taken away for nothing? Those who rule over them make them wail," says HaShem, "And My Name is blasphemed continually every day. Therefore My people shall know My Name; therefore they shall know in that day that I am He Who speaks: "Behold, it is I.'"
Isaiah 52:1-2; 4-6

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, "Your G-d reigns!"
Isaiah 52:7

The "good news" message is this: Proclaim salvation to Zion! Proclaim "Your G-d Reigns." Messiah came and taught the message: "Repent, the Kingdom of HaShem is here!" Since that time, many thought He said, "Repent, and stop being a Jew!" Their "theology," unleashed from the lair of the Enemy has led countless astray. Those days are drawing to a close. The message however remains clear: "Repent, the Kingdom of HaShem is here!"

Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; for they shall see eye to eye when HaShem brings back Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For HaShem has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem. HaShem has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our G-d.
Isaiah 52:8-10

Will you break out in song? Will you lift up your voice to join the voices since ancient times, proclaiming the time of renewal, when HaShem brings Zion back?

Beloved, it is my opinion that it is time for godly men and women who are associated with theologies and denominations that continue to curse Israel to leave. Many "reformed" and other "evangelical" leaders, notable and apparently godly men, continue to perpetuate a theology that is in direct opposition to the very hand of the Almighty. It is time to get out...

Depart! Depart! Go out from there, touch no unclean thing; go out from the midst of her, be clean, you who bear the vessels of HaShem. For you shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight; for HaShem will go before you, and the G-d of Israel will be your rear guard.
Isaiah 52:11-12

As I have said before, there is no salvation outside a relationship with the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Isaac, and the G-d of Jacob. One cannot curse Jacob, and expect a blessing from Jacob's G-d.

Prayer Focus for Shoftim -  "May Our Eyes See" [from Hashkivenu]

At the end of the Hashkivenu prayer, which is part of the "Bedtime Sh'ma," there is a declaration of the Kingship of G-d. It comes from this week's haftarah. It mirrors the prayer Yeshua taught His first disciples.

May our eyes see, our heart rejoice, and our soul exult in Your salvation in truth, when Zion is told, "Your G-d has reigned!"
HaShem reigns, HaShem has reigned, HaShem will reign for all eternity. For the Kingdom is Yours and You will reign for all
 eternity in glory, for we have no King but You!

-- ArtScroll Translation

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Standing in Prayer with all Israel,

Rick Spurlock
Bereans Online
www.bereansonline.org