“Shoftim” (Judges). Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9; Isaiah 51:12–52:12; Mark 14:53–64.

Shalom,   Welcome to this week’s Torah / Bible study section.  “Appoint judges [shoftim] and officials [shotrim] for each of your tribes in every town Yahweh  your God is giving you, and they shall judge [shafat] the people fairly [tzedek mishpat / righteous judgment].”  (Deuteronomy 16:18). 

Last week, in section “Re'eh”, God set a blessing and a curse before the Israelites.  The blessing was a result of obeying God's commandments and the curse of forsaking them.  In this week’s study section, Moses instructed the nation of Israel in the appointing of judges (called shoftim in Hebrew) and law enforcement officers (called shotrim) to administer justice.  These judges and officers would not only teach; but also interpret the laws (instructions from God) of the Torah.  What is the difference between a judge and an officer?  A judge refers to one qualified to deliver judgements according to the laws of the Torah.  The officer then enforces these legal judgements, even by force if necessary. 

For those who may have forgotten or are new to these articles, you will see the name of God YHWH (Yahweh, Yahovah), in places where your bible has “the Lord” because translators made the change and I am reverting it back to what it was.  Also Yahshua, His son’s actual Hebrew name rather than the Greek or English imposed derivative Jesus. 

The Hebrew prophet Isaiah promised that there would come a day when judges would be restored as in the days of old:  “I shall restore your judges [shoftim] as at first, and your counsellors [yaats] as at the beginning” (Isaiah 1:26).  Although Isaiah mentions the judges, the officers do not appear in this prophecy, but rather “counsellors.” 

Why will counsellors replace the role of officers?  In the days of redemption, when the Messiah returns to rule and reign in righteousness, there will be no need for “enforcers” of the Torah.  In the Messianic era, all will have such a deep desire to follow and obey Yahweh that only counsellors will be needed to explain and clarify (not to enforce) the decisions of the judges.  Even today (before that great day of Yahweh that is to come) those who are truly in Messiah do not need external coercion to keep God’s commandments and judgements.  For when we have been given a new heart and a new spirit, there arises within us a desire to keep God’s laws and commandments, not in a spirit of legalism (a concept that does not exist in God’s Torah); but out of a heart of love:

“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:27). 

For those who believe in Yahshua; but do not observe His commandments in the Torah, the question we need to ask is, “Why not?”  Either the person is not truly following Yahshua and filled with His Spirit, or they have received and accepted a teaching of false grace which erroneously emphasizes freedom from guilt over freedom from sin. Rom 6:15  What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.  Certainly, Yahshua did not pay the ultimate price to set us free from the penalties associated with sin so that we can continue sinning without guilt.  "Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4).  1Ti 1:9  …  the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy …and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 

Pursuing Justice for All:  Deu 16:19  Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.  Some bibles have changed “gift” to “bribe” thinking they are the same; but to God they are not.  A gift can be at any time and for no purpose compared to a bribe which is associated with an expected reciprocated action.  A judge should not take a gift for any reason at any time from someone (or their associate) over whom he has to judge as it may influence his judgement. 

This section warns that judges (or magistrates) are not to show any kind of partiality or favouritism.  They are forbidden from accepting a “gift” (bribe) when associated with their office.  It is written that God shows no favouritism; but accepts anyone from any nation who fears Him and does what is right (Acts 10:34).  Justice has always been a fundamental value in Judaism; therefore, it was to be administered without corruption.  Difficult cases could be referred to a higher court that was called the Sanhedrin in Second Temple times.

Even kings of Israel were commanded “to write a personal copy of the scroll of the Torah”.  This provision was meant to ensure that the king himself submits to the rule of law and does not become a despot without accountability or boundaries. The king writes a copy of the Torah so “that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen” (Deuteronomy 17:20).  In other words, the king is subject to the laws of Torah just like everybody else in the kingdom.  He has no sovereign exemptions.  He has no royal exception or special immunity.  By writing a copy of the Torah for himself, the king reminded himself that he is not above God’s law.  In the eyes of the Torah, the king is just another citizen of God’s kingdom. 

The king of Israel must immerse himself in the Torah. He is to keep his copy with him always and he is to read and study from it every day of his life. He cannot turn away from the commandments in the Torah, neither to the right nor to the left. Even the king of Israel must obey the Torah of God. He must submit himself to it as a standard for conduct and administration.  “He shall write for himself a copy of this Torah on a scroll,” when he goes to war, he takes it out with him; when he comes back, he is to bring it back with him; when he is in session in court, it is to be with him, when he is reclining, it is to be before him, as it is written, “It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life.” 

We refer to this basic ethic as the rule of law.  We can compare it to the way the constitution of a governing body functions in the modern world.  In theory, a nation’s constitutional principle presides over both the governed and the government.  In the constitutional model, ultimate sovereignty is vested in the constitution that formed the government, not in the government.  Government officials are subject to the rule of the constitution and the legislation spawned by it, just as private citizens are. Without the rule of law, a government would be able to rule capriciously and without mitigation, as is often the case in dictatorships and rogue states where law has collapsed and absolute power has prevailed.  In God’s economy, the Torah functions as the constitution over Israel’s government. No one is above God’s Torah because no one is above God. His word has the final authority, and even the king may not transgress it.  Without the rule of law, the ethics of the Torah are reduced to simply good advice: the commandments become 613 suggestions.  We often hear Bible teachers state that the rule of law in Torah does not apply to believers.  In so doing, they place believers on a plane of authority even above the kings of Israel and the Messiah Himself.  According to Deuteronomy 17, if Yahshua is a true king of Israel, He must “keep Torah all the days of his life” and “carefully observe all the words of the Torah” and “not turn aside from the commandment to the right or the left” (Deuteronomy 17:20). Yahshua was not above the rule of law.  If He broke the Torah, He committed a sin against God

"Tzedek, tzedek tirdof—Justice, justice you shall pursue" (Deuteronomy 16:20).   A thorough investigation of crimes was required and in order to deliver punishment upon a criminal, a minimum of two credible witnesses were required.  As we shall see, this is why the trial of Yahshua HaMashiach (the Messiah) was completely unjust and contrary to God’s or even Jewish law and yet it was God’s will that He suffer and die on the execution stake.  The question is often asked, “Who killed Yahshua?” Usually, the blame is placed upon the Jews, with accusations of “Christ Killer” fuelling the fires of anti-Semitism over the centuries; but is this accusation true?  To answer that, we only need to look at the record of Yahshua’s trial.  Yahshua did not receive a trial by jury.  In Jewish law, the judge would hear and evaluate accusation from two impartial witnesses.  If two or three witnesses would agree, the judge would issue a conviction; but in Yahshua’s case, the witnesses against Him presented false testimony.  “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Yahshua to put Him to death, but they could find none.  For many were giving false testimony against Him, but the testimonies did not agree”  (Mark 14:55–56). 

Because the testimony of the witnesses did not agree, the judges could not convict him.  Thus, the Sanhedrin had no other choice but to ask Yahshua directly if He claimed to be the Messiah, the Son of God, a charge to which He confessed, thereby positioning Himself as being guilty of blasphemy, which carried the death penalty.  “Again the high priest questioned Him, ‘Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Yahshua, .. and all of you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.  Then the high priest tore his robes and said, ‘Why do we still need witnesses?  You have heard the blasphemy!  What is your decision?’  “And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death” (Mark 14:61–64).  This interrogation essentially reveals that neither the Jewish Sanhedrin nor the Roman authorities could have killed Yahshua without His cooperation.  Even some of the Roman soldiers came to believe that Yahshua truly was the Son of God.

When the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Yahshua, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they were terrified and said, ‘This man really was God’s Son!”  (Matthew 27:54).  So to answer the question of who killed Yahshua, we only need to look at His trial to see that He willingly gave the authorities the “confession” they needed to condemn Him to death.  Yahshua, however, said that He lay down His life of His own accord to save us from our sins as the promised Messiah.  So although it may look as if His life was taken and by the Jews; it was given and as prophesised by His Father.  (Act 13:28  And though they found no cause of death in him, …. Act 13:29  And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, ….). 

He said by His own words, “The reason My Father loves Me is that I lay down My life, only to take it up again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of My own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from My Father.”  (John 10:17–18). 

Keeping the Nation Holy:  “You are to be holy to Me because I,  Yahweh, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be My own”  (Leviticus 20:26).  One purpose God chose a people for Himself was so He could show the world what holiness looks like.  Torah section “Shoftim”, therefore, forbids the following: 

Idolatry:  In the 17th chapter of Deuteronomy, God prohibits idolatry.  Anyone found guilty of this crime would be stoned to death according to the laws of the Torah upon the testimony of two or three witnesses.  Deu 17:2  If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing his covenant, Deu 17:3  And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; .. Here we read how detestable and un-excusable it is to God to worship sun, moon or other host of heaven as Jupiter and Mercury in Acts 14:12.  Believe it or not today’s Sun day worship system is a derivative of these pagan systems.  It has just been associated with the Bible and a christ. 

On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness”  (Deuteronomy 17:6).  Why were such harsh penalties in place for worshiping false gods?  Although in our day, there exists a great emphasis on human rights and free choice, God's law is concerned with preserving purity and Godliness.  By purging evil from the nation, holiness was protected.  A bad apple spoils the whole cart as a saying goes. 

The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death, and then the hands of all the people.  You must purge (put away) the evil from among you” (Deut 17:7).  However, false witnesses were to suffer the fate they planned for their victims Deu 19:18  And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Deu 19:19  Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. Deu 19:20  And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. Deu 19:21  And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.  To understand this verse in line with Matthew 5:38 we should add Exo 21:23  And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,… Matt 5:38 I say unto you, That ye resist not evil…   God’s instructions of death was always to put evil away from the congregation.  I do not claim to know all the answers only to quote the scriptures. 

Deu 17:8  If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose ..  This is the same as 2 Chronicles 19:10 yet in that verse many bibles have changed “between blood and blood” to “bloodshed”, “murder”, or other words.  The instruction relates to family disputes as in Luk 12:13 “ And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me”.  By changing the wording, many bibles as with other cases, change God’s instruction.  Adding to or taking away.  That is why I advocate the KJV.  Check your bible and see.  Deu 17:11  According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. 

"Go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office at that time.  Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict."  (Deuteronomy 17:9). 

Boundaries: You shall not move your neighbour's boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess. (Deuteronomy 19:14).  

During the settlement of American territories, a similar method was used. Settlers would set up rocks or drive in stakes to indicate parcels of land that they were claiming. Hence the idiom "staking a claim." Often it happened that in their absence unscrupulous neighbours or other settlers would remove these landmarks to their own advantage.  Boundary markers worked the same way in the biblical era. An unscrupulous neighbour might move a boundary stone and steal a hundred feet of your field. According to the prophet Hosea, God pours out His wrath like water on those who move boundary stones (Hosea 5:10). 

The Torah places a special curse on someone who moved a boundary stone, saying, "Cursed is he who moves his neighbour's boundary mark" (Deuteronomy 27:17). The Proverbs warn against moving boundaries and especially against encroaching on the boundaries of widows and orphans:

Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set. Do not move the ancient boundary or go into the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; He will plead their case against you. But He will establish the boundary of the widow. (Proverbs 22:28, 23:10-11, 15:25).

The prohibition against moving a boundary stone can be applied to many situations in life. It reminds us that God deems it healthy and appropriate to maintain proper boundaries and distinctions. For example, boundaries that maintain a distinction between genders are important.  A person should always be careful to protect the boundaries between private life and public life, between family and friends, between parent and child, between husband and wife, and so on. When boundary lines become fuzzy, confusion and conflict ensue. The godly person is careful to maintain a sense of where another person's property and privacy ends and begins. 

The Occult

It is normal to look to the spiritual world for answers. Uncertainty about the future, difficulty rendering an important decision, apprehension over an unpredictable circumstance, or even simple curiosity inspires people to seek information from the supernatural.  The Torah warns us not to seek spiritual direction from the occult. God forbids us to consult soothsayers, palm readers, fortune-tellers, mediums, psychics, and the like. Horoscopes, séances, Ouija boards, divination, spell-casting, and all other forms of occult arts are utterly forbidden. The Torah says that whoever practices occult arts is "detestable to the LORD" (Deuteronomy 18:12).  “For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do so” (Deuteronomy 18:14). 

The Didache, a compendium of instructions to Gentile believers composed sometime in the late first century or early second century, states that occultism is a form of idolatry: “Thou shalt not practice magic, thou shalt not practice witchcraft. ... My child, be not an observer of omens, since it leads the way to idolatry; neither an enchanter, nor an astrologer, nor a purifier, nor be willing to took at these things; for out of all these idolatry is engendered. (Didache 2:2; 3:4). 

The occult is the realm of the demonic.  Playing with the occult is an invitation to bring demonic activity into our lives. Rather than turn to the occult for contact with the supernatural, Israel  was to rely on God via his specially appointed prophets.  Would it not be nice if there were reliable prophets like Moses today? Imagine having the ability to seek counsel directly from God.  Suppose you were trying to decide whether a certain person was right for you to marry. Few decisions in life are so momentous.  If there was ever a time to seek spiritual direction, it would be at that moment.  It would also be nice to be able to go to a reliable and true prophet of God and ask the question? The prophet could consult YHWH on your behalf, and you would receive a direct answer. 

On rare occasions, the gift of prophecy did function like that, but the prophet of God was not a  fortune-teller.  The true prophet could only speak what God gave him to speak.  He could not force an answer from God. Ordinarily it was God who initiated a prophecy by sending a prophet out to deliver a message.  That message generally related to Israel’s destiny as a kingdom i.e. a message to a king or false prophet who had influence over the nation’s direction.

In religion today, numerous people set themselves up and call themselves prophets.    In the Christian world, none are of Hebrew stock, have influence over Israel’s direction and generally act as personal fortune tellers.  The bible guides us on many things including how to choose a partner so we should not need a special or personal prophecy from God. 

"Word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent" (1 Samuel 3:1).  We are not left without spiritual direction.  We have the written Word of God, which was spoken and recorded by the prophets.  Our Bible is the written transcript of God's conversations with the prophets.  The books of the prophets preserve the living voice of God, offer concrete spiritual direction, and reveal the future.  When we are in need of spiritual direction, the first place we should look is inside our Bibles.  We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts (2 Peter 1:19). Remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets (2 Peter 3:2). 

All forms of occult practices also carried the death penalty.  These included many spiritual practices that are commonplace today and for the most part widely accepted: sorcery, divination, fortune telling, astrology, wizardry, and listening to psychics, mediums or those who act as a channel for spirits of the dead.  God acknowledges that pagans participate in the occult, but these practices are part of what leads to the downfall of nations and they are forbidden for any of God’s people.  Today there are many adverts by proclaimed “Christians” to give you a spiritual reading, prophesy etc.  Biblically, a true prophet could only speak what God gave him to speak. He could not force an answer from God.  Ordinarily it was God who initiated a prophecy by sending a prophet out to deliver a message.  Many churches are even proud to get “spiritual” which does not mean a change of heart to following God’s commandments; but some outward show of maybe singing, dancing and merry making. 

Receiving guidance from one’s astrological chart, reading palms or tea leaves, attending séances or even using Ouiji boards are not permitted for people of God; nevertheless, many today (either in ignorance or defiance of the law) read books about wizards and dabble in the occult.  Even under the guise of “Christianity”.  This is a dangerous spiritual path.  “The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination.  But as for you, Yahweh your God has not permitted you to do so” (Read Deuteronomy 18:12-14). 

False Prophets:  Lying and deception is another form of evil that taints holiness.  Israel is warned to beware of false prophets.  Only those whose words come true are to be trusted as true prophets of God; but even if what a prophet says comes true, if it is cause you to go away from keeping God’s commandments, it is not to be followed as God is using it to prove you whether you love Him with all your heart, will and soul (Deut 13:3).  “If what a prophet proclaims in the name of Yahweh does not take place or come true, that is a message Yahweh  has not spoken.  That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed” (Deuteronomy 18:22).  1Jn 4:1  Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.  Gal 1:8  But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As shown below under choosing a king, the Messiah did not come to change God’s righteous living instructions (Torah) so any preacher saying that, may fall under this category. 

For centuries people have been using God’s name to promote themselves and their beliefs.  Whether by saying God gave them a vision, dream, message, feeling etc.  One relating to the end of the world, of this or that.  Isaiah 8:19-20 is another place that warns not to follow these individuals or groups if again they pervert the clear message of God that we are to keep ALL His commandments, laws and statutes.  These are not limited to ten or big ones of murder or stealing; but also reverencing His Holy days.  Anyone who alludes to or does not clearly state they are to be kept as does God’s instructions and the biblical prophets who tried to bring Israel back to keeping them, should not be listened to especially if such persons do not keep or try to keep what God instructed, killed and punished Israel for not keeping.  Isa 8:20  “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them”.   The law is the commandments, testimony, those of the prophets and Messiah.  Luk 24:27  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.  Luk 24:44  And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.  By those individuals teachings  or example, many are influenced to break God’s commandments and shall sadly suffer the biblical consequence.  

Killing and Murder:  Cities of refuge were set aside as refuge for someone who killed another unintentionally.

This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life.  If anyone kills his neighbour unintentionally without having hated him in the past” (Deuteronomy 19:4).  However, anyone who was judged to have intentionally murdered someone had no right to seek refuge in these cities; he would be removed by force to be handed over to the avenger of blood to die at his hand.  The deliberate shedding of innocent blood (murder) carried the death penalty. “Show no pity.  You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood, so that it may go well with you” (Deut 19:11-13). 

Choosing a Holy King of Israel:  “When you enter the land Yahweh your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, ‘Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us ...’” (Deuteronomy 17:14).

In this section, Moses foresees that the people will one day want a king to rule over them and not a series of judges, so he gives them guidelines on how to protect their holy calling under such a system.  The king was to be an Israelite who had not accumulated many wives or a great deal of gold and silver.  Nor was he to raise himself up above his countrymen.  Deu 17:19  And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: (read 14-20). 

Deu 18:15  The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; (see also Acts 3:22 and 7:37).  Brethren is brother or countrymen" (Deuteronomy 18:15). This promise can be understood in two ways.  God did not leave Israel without a prophetic voice. He raised a line of prophets, beginning with Joshua, the servant of Moses and extending all the way to John the Baptist, as Scripture says, "For all the prophets and the Torah prophesied until John" (Matthew 11:13).  The passage does not literally speak of a succession of many prophets. Deuteronomy 34:9-10 proves that the promise of a prophet like Moses excludes Joshua. Even after Joshua was filled with the prophetic spirit, the Torah still says that no prophet like Moses had yet arisen:  Now Joshua the son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; and the sons of Israel listened to him and did as the LORD had commanded Moses. Since that time no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face. (Deuteronomy 34:9-10). 

From that perspective, the prophecy in Deuteronomy 18 could not have been referring to Joshua or any of the prophets who followed him. Instead, it refers to a single prophet whom God would raise up in the future. That man would be a prophet like Moses "whom the LORD knew face to face" (Deuteronomy 34:10), heard directly from God,  a redeemer of Israel, a man of unsurpassed humility all of which Moses was. The apostles understood the prophecy of the prophet like Moses to refer directly to Yahshua.  Joh 1:45  Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Yahshua of Nazareth, the son of JosephTherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Yahshua, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses  (Hebrews 3:1-3). 

Yahshua was acknowledged as the King of the Jews, as was written on the sign posted over His head at His execution (Matthew 27:11, 37).  He fulfilled all the requirements of kinship.  He was an Israelite, a man of humility who lived a simple life and taught the Torah.  He was the personification of holiness.  Deu 18:18  I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. Deu 18:19  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.  He did not come to change the law as some think fulfil means; but to confirm and magnify it; speaking the same things His father spoke and living as He directed.  Also to direct subsequent believers to live the same way; obedience to His father’s laws. Isa 42:21  The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.  Joh 17:8  For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me

According to a Messianic prophecy, the Messiah will rule and reign as King upon the throne of His father David with perfect justice and righteousness forever and ever.  “For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders.  He will be named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end.  He will reign on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever.”  (Isaiah 9:6–7). 

Although He will physically reign over the Earth from Jerusalem when He returns, His kingdom is established now in the hearts of those who are Believers.  Those of us who follow Him understand that He has given us a clear vision of holiness, bringing the observance of God’s instructions (Torah) to its fullness.  Because He makes the fullness of the law known, each of us should be living in righteousness.  "If you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."  (John 13:17). 

Trusting in God for Victory:  In this section, God gives the people the laws for waging war and maintaining purity in the camp.  Moses tells the people not to be afraid of the inhabitants of the Promised Land while in battle; God will be with them.  Before battle, the Cohanim (Priests) were to encourage the troops to trust in God.

When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army.  He shall say:  ‘Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies.  Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them.  For Yahweh your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory”  (Deuteronomy 20:2–4). 

Whether physical or spiritual battles we also need to encourage ourselves and others not to be afraid when we obey Yahweh.  Mat 10:28  And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Mat 10:31  Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.  We can also rest assured that no matter what battle we may face, God is with us and will cause us to walk in triumph in Messiah Yahshua.  “But thanks be to God, who in Messiah always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere” (2 Corinthians 2:14). 

ISAIAH.  From this week’s reading section I will simply draw your attention to Isa 51:7  “Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their reviling”.  It cannot be clearer.  To know righteousness is to know, or should I say obey, the law.  To be righteous is to keep it.  Do not say none are righteous, one is made righteous when forgiven. To be forgiven is to know your error, repent (turn away from habitually repeating) and call on the cleansing blood of YHWH’s son. 

JOHN.  Mar 14:58  We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.  Joh 2:19  Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.  I have written before on how the administering of the forgiveness of sin system as mentioned especially in Leviticus 16 (Day of Atonement) and other animal sacrifices three things were needed.  Blood sacrifice, priest and temple.  If you read Hebrews 4:14 (Heb 4:14  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.), 8:1-3 (Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; Heb 8:2  A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

Heb 8:3  For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer), and chapter 9 you should see how this new “temple” of John 2:19 came to replace the earthly one which was to be destroyed by the Romans approximately 37 years later.  A better system that man cannot pollute nor destroyed was established in order to maintain God’s forgiveness system as mentioned in His law.  Not that the law was taken away.   

"Hear the word of Yahweh, you nations; proclaim it in distant coastlands:  'He who scattered Israel will gather them and will watch over His flock like a shepherd."  (Jeremiah 31:10). 

Shalom.

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