THIS WEEK’S TORAH PORTION:
From ancient times there has been a weekly portion (Parashah) from the first five books of Moses (The Torah) and an ending (Haftarah) from the Prophets read on the Sabbath in synagogues around the world. This portion is given a Hebrew name drawn from the opening words of the Torah passage. An illustration of this practice appears to have been recorded in Luke 4:16 where Yeshua (Jesus) arrived in the synagogue in Nazareth and was asked to read the portion (Isaiah 61) from the Prophets.
We have found that in perusing these weekly readings, not only are we provided opportunity to identify in the context of God’s Word with millions of Jewish people around the world, but very often the Holy Spirit will illumine specific passages pertinent that week in our intercession for the Land and people of Israel. The Haftarah, unless otherwise noted, will be that read in Ashkenazy synagogues around the world. The references for all texts are those found in English translations of the Scriptures.
May 16 is Day #35 of “Counting the Omer” to Pentecost
The Parashah for this week May 14-20, 2017 is a “double reading”:
I. B’har—“On the Mount”
TORAH: Leviticus 25:1—26:2
*HAFTARAH: Jeremiah 32:6-27
II. B’Chukotai—“In My Statutes”
TORAH: Leviticus 26:3—27:34
HAFTARAH: Jeremiah 16:19—17:14
* On weeks in which a “double reading” occurs, only the Haftarah of the second reading is generally used.
*Leviticus 25:2, 23: “When you come into the land which I give you, then the land shall keep a sabbath to the LORD…for the Land is Mine, for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me.”
The land in which Elohim ordained that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob should dwell is precious to Him. Last week’s readings spoke of His causing that land itself to spit out inhabitants who defiled it with gross sin. In this chapter Israel was commanded to allow the Land to observe its own regular ‘sabbaths’ to the LORD. Every seven years, the land was to be allowed to rest. Unfortunately, Israel chose to ignore this earnest direction from her Lord. When Judah was eventually carried away captive in Babylon, the LORD said that for 70 years the land would now finally receive the rests which it had been denied.
PLEASE PRAY: that Israel will deal wisely with the land to which God has returned to her, coming to realize that it is a gift, and also a holy charge. That she will come into a relationship with her God which will enable her in His timing to be entrusted with all of the land He has promised to return to her oversight (Ezekiel 36:4-8 teaches of a time when the very land currently under contention in Judea and Samaria will “put forth its branches” to bear fruit for the returned children of Jacob).
*Leviticus 25:8-10 (Trans: Alter): “And you shall count you seven Sabbaths of years, seven years seven times, and the days of the seven Sabbaths of years shall come to forty-nine years. And you shall send round a blasting ram’s horn, in the seventh month on the tenth of the month, on the Day of Atonement, you shall send round a ram’s horn through all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and call a release [or liberty] in the land to all its inhabitants. A jubilee it shall be for you, and you shall go back each man to his holding and each man to his clan, you shall go back. It is a jubilee, the fiftieth year it shall be for you. You shall not sow and you shall not reap its aftergrowths and you shall not pick its untrimmed vines. For it is a jubilee. It shall be holy for you.”
Just as we are presently ‘counting the omer’ up to the fiftieth day (Pentecost) upon which the Spirit of Freedom (II Corinthians 3:17) was released, the Hebrews in the land were asked to count seven “sabbaths” of years, and then to proclaim Dror!— “Release!” “Freedom!” “Liberty!” This was to be a year of “freeing up”—both for the land, and for those Israelites who, because of financial hardship, had placed themselves under servitude to their brothers. It was to be a Jubilee! The name is related to the Hebrew yovel—which is another name for a shofar or “ram’s horn” (The word yovel is actually combined in usage with the word shofar in Joshua 6:4).
It is significant that in the 50th year, this freedom-proclaiming horn was carried round on Yom Kippur, the “Day of Atonement”—the very day in which the congregation was released from its sin for the previous year. And it was significant that the freedom-blasts were made with a ram’s horn. The “ram caught by its horn in the thicket” (Genesis 22:13) had signified the atoning, substitutionary sacrifice for Isaac (God had provided the Lamb). Such a horn would release its redemptive sound every fifty years upon God’s Day of Atonement to proclaim freedom from slavery and debt.
It is significant that today, the fast of Yom Kippur always comes to an end with one long blast of the shofar. We believe this to signify the coming Great Day when the “last shofar” of God (I Cor. 15:52, Hebrew translation) is sounded to proclaim eternal freedom from death and our fallen earthly natures, and Celebration in Heaven and on Earth with the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World!
*Leviticus 25:10b. “…Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.”
This portion of Lev. 25:10 is quoted on the American “Liberty Bell” in Philadelphia, founded in 1753. A park southwest of the Old City in Jerusalem contains a replica of this bell, and is in fact itself called “Bell Park.” Yet it is important for Israelis to realize that the word dror in the context of this verse is by no means referring to a humanistic, general “liberty” from all human constraints. Rather, it is a God-ordained release from oppression and bondage into a new freedom in His presence! This is the same word used in Isaiah 61 where the “Spirit of the Lord GOD” (Adonai YHVH) is present to “proclaim liberty to the captives.”
We are grateful for the freedoms we presently enjoy in the nation of Israel. But for our people to be really free, it will take a work of the “Spirit of the Lord GOD!” II Corinthians 3:17 of the New Covenant Scriptures reads, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!”
PLEASE PRAY: FOR A RELEASE OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD OVER ISRAEL TO BRING US INTO A TRUE FREEDOM—through grace and supplication to see, be convicted for, and freed from our sin (Zech. 12:10); through washing of regeneration and renewing to become clean and born anew (Titus 3:5); through the love of God having been shed abroad in our hearts, to be filled with hope, no longer disappointed and ashamed (Romans 5:5); through being filled, to speak the word of God with boldness, stretching out our hands to heal, that signs and wonders may be done through the name of God’s holy Servant Yeshua! (Acts 4:29-31) .
“ ‘…and I will not hide my face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out my Spirit on the house of Israel,’ says the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 39:29).
*Leviticus 25:18-19. “So you shall observe My statutes and keep My judgments, and perform them; and you will dwell in the land in safety. Then the land will yield its fruit, and you will eat your fill, and dwell there in safety.”
It is essential to realize in our prayers, that Israel’s capacity to dwell safely in the land, and the land’s capacity itself to stay fertile and productive, is related to her relationship with her God. Israel is currently in a period of grace as her gathering is completed—but God is bringing her back to give her revelation and understanding of herself, to be cleansed and to return to her God (Ezekiel 36, 37; Jeremiah 31). The fact that she is a “chosen people” does not in and of itself guarantee her safety. We must pray that the veil be removed, and that Israel will return to the Shepherd of her soul.
*Leviticus 25:23. “The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are strangers and sojourners (“sojourning settlers”) with Me.”
With this reading we come to the end of the Book of Leviticus. Chapter 26 brings the book-proper to a close (Chapter 27 is an appendix “focusing on a variety of laws pertaining to voluntary offerings and taxed obligations to the sanctuary). Chapter 26 emphasizes the favor and blessing which will accompany walking in obedience to statutes and commandments of the Lord (vss 3-13)—Obedience will affect the very weather and soil of the land, even as dis-obedience (in the Garden of Eden) had brought a curse on the ground.
Then follow five necessary warnings of the consequences for getting out from under the Protection afforded by obedience to God’s directives. Each of these warnings is preceded by “But if you do not obey Me”—or, “And after all this, if you do not obey Me”—or, “Then if you walk contrary to Me, and are not willing to obey Me”—or, “And if by these things you are not reformed by me, but walk contrary to me’. (The clear implication is that it is the LORD’s desire that these severe disciplines will draw His people back into His way of life, not away from it.)
Verses 34-35 deal with the recovery of the Land if Israel is finally ejected, the plight of Israel in exile without God (36-39); and the restoration of the people when they at last humble themselves (“It is the Lord’s mercies which lead us to repentance”) and turn back to seek His ways. These closing words would be a comfort, an encouragement to repentance, a hope of a future for Jews—both during the future exile in Babylon, and through an even greater exile down to today.
As we complete our way through each of the Books of Moses, it is customary to end the reading with the following declaration:
“Chazak, Chazak, v’Nit’Chazek!!
“Be Strong! Be Strong! And may we be Strengthened!”
*Jeremiah 17:5-8 (NIV): “This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.’”
This is a wonderful passage to pray over the Body of Messiah in Israel. It is so essential that we be weaned from trusting in our own natural abilities—otherwise, we will not even see true prosperity when it arrives. We know that ‘heat’ will be coming, and in many forms . But it is God’s desire that we be so rooted in the streams of His living Spirit that His grace will keep us green and fruitful, even during those times.
PLEASE PRAY: that we be nurtured and trained in placing our trust and confidence totally in Him. We pray the same for you!
*Jeremiah 17:14: “O LORD, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be ashamed. ‘Those who depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the source of living water, the LORD.’ Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; Save me, and I shall be saved, For You are my praise.”
HaTiqva—“The Hope,” is the name of Israel’s national anthem. The ‘hope’ in that song is “to be a nation free in our Land.” But Israel will never be truly ‘free’ in her land until the Son has set her free and she is “free indeed” (John 8:36)—until she realizes that the LORD alone is her ‘Hope.’ EACH YEAR WE SEE THIS MORE AND MORE BEGINNING TO HAPPEN!! Please continue to pray that more and more Israelis will find the ‘Source of living water”—our healing, our Salvation—and that He become “Our Praise!”
Martin & Norma Sarvis
The Parashah for next week May 21-17, 2017 is called B’Midbar—“In the Desert.”
TORAH: Numbers 1:1—4:20
HAFTARAH: Hosea 1:10—2:20