“My bow I set in the clouds, so that it may serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” (Genesis 9:13)
Rainbow over the Ben Hinnom Valley in Jerusalem, a place which God has promised will one day be Holy to the LORD (Jeremiah 31:40)
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. All texts are those of English translations of the Scriptures.
This Friday/Saturday (October 20-21) will be Rosh Chodesh—the “head” of the Eighth Hebrew month. Today, Hebrew calendars use the Babylonian name Cheshvan. In ancient times the Canaanite name Bul was used, as in I Kings 6:38 where, after seven years, Solomon completed the House of the LORD in Jerusalem.
Let us ask God for grace over this new month—for vision, instruction, courage and love and attentiveness to His ways! To bring to completion all those tasks whose time of fulfillment is come.
The reading for this week October 15-21, 2017 is called No’ach (the “ch” pronounced in the throat, as with “Bach”—“Noah”.
*Shabbat Rosh Chodesh—Because this Shabbat falls on Rosh Chodesh for the eighth month (Cheshvan/Bul), in many synagogues a special Haftarah reading will be substituted: Isaiah 66:1-24, 23.
*Genesis 6:9. “Noah was a just man, perfect (or, “blameless”) in his generations; Noah walked with God.”
“Perfect” or “blameless” are translations of the Hebrew word tome, which may, as in Psalm 25:21, also be rendered “integrity”: “Let integrity and uprightness guard me for I wait for you” (NKJV). In Psalm 101 David uses this word three times regarding his every-day walk within his house, “I will ponder the way that is blameless. Oh when will you come to me? I will walk with integrity of heart within my house. I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away, it shall not cling to me…My eyes shall be upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me” (Psalm 101:2-4, 6).
Even as Noah, living in a perverse and exceedingly sinful world, was through his “walk with God” enabled to govern his personal walk and that of his house with integrity, it is of paramount importance that those of us living in a time which is rapidly becoming “as it was in the days of Noah” hold close to our “walk with God”; that we in integrity ponder the way we walk, the things we allow access into our dwellings (and thence into our eyes and those of our families!), and with whom we associate and allow ourselves to be influenced.
*Genesis 6:11-13. “Now the earth had gone to ruin before God, the earth was filled with wrongdoing. God saw the earth, and here: it had gone to ruin, for all flesh had ruined its way upon the earth. God said to Noah: An end of all flesh has come before me, for the earth is filled with wrongdoing through them: here, I am about to bring ruin upon them, along with the earth” (Everett Fox translation; emphases ours).
Flesh, given its lead, brings ruin and destruction. As alluded to above, in the New Covenant, Yeshua prophesied that in latter days it will again be “as it was in the days of Noah”. Zechariah 2:11-13 instructs us regarding those days—as the LORD is “aroused from His holy habitation,” as Messiah draws near to “again take possession of Judah and to choose Jerusalem” —it will be imperative that we as Believers say “Hush!” (Hebrew: Hass! vs 13)to our flesh. Either we, in the power of the Holy Spirit, crucify it, or, as in the days of Noah, it will be our ruin.
*Genesis 6:14. “Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make rooms [or nests] in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.” The English word “ark” is used here for Hebrew teva which means a box or case (the word is used for ‘mailbox’ in Israel today). It is the same as that used to shelter the baby Moses in Exodus 2:3 (The “Ark of the Covenant” uses a different Hebrew word).
There is much redemption pictured here. The very Hebrew word translated “cover” and “pitch” (kopher) is identical with the word for atonement. In I Peter 3:18-22 the apostle Peter pictures the ark as a type of our salvation in Yeshua, our consciences being baptized through His death and resurrection!
*Genesis 7:15. “They (the animals) came to Noah into the ark…of all flesh in which is the spirit of life”.
*Genesis 9:4a. “Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs“. (NKJV). God is the One who has now “given” humankind meat to eat, as well as plants. We are to honour each man’s conscience before God with regard to personal decisions to eat or not eat meat (Romans 14). However, it is difficult to reconcile with this Scripture the teachings of some who hold that God’s ideal for humankind today is the meatless sustenance afforded them in Eden and before the Flood. That was a season which has been taken away and may not, we suspect, be returned until the final “revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19-25).
*Genesis 9:4b. “But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”
The word usually translated “life” in Hebrew is chaim. Yet here, the word nephesh—“soul” is used—“But you shall not eat flesh with its soul, that is, its blood.”
This will be reiterated in Leviticus 17:13-14, “Whatever man of the children of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who hunts and catches any animal or bird that may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; for it is the soul of all flesh. Its blood sustains its soul. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the soul of all flesh is its blood.”
In Genesis 2:7, “The LORD God formed man of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life [i.e. chaim], and man became a living soul [i.e. nephesh]”. The animals also were called nephesh-chayah—“living souls” (1:24); they also were “formed by God” from the earth (2:19); but God did not release into them a creative act making them into His image as He did to the Man (1:26-27). So “soul” relates to a life-factor in the blood of living creatures—yet different in man from that in animals. We are not implying that the individual spirit of a human being is present in every drop of his blood. But blood carries life throughout the body, it is precious to the God of Life, and was not to be consumed as a nourishment-source for man. This is not just a prohibition under the Mosaic “Law” (Leviticus passage above); it was prohibited here to Noah and his descendants by God long before that Law, and it was prohibited for the Believing Body of Messiah (both Jew and Gentile) after the Lord’s return to heaven (Acts 15:20).
When Cain murdered Abel, the “voice of [his] brothers blood cried out” to God from the ground.
The soul that sins must die. All have sinned, so death reigns in the very blood-line of all children of Adam—Except for One. The Blood of the virgin-born Saviour, the “Second Adam”, Yeshua, was pure and without sin (Hebrews 4:15). Thus, it could “sprinkle many nations” (Isaiah 52:15) with a “sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24). God made “His soul an offering for sin” (Isaiah 53:10)—and with the shedding of His blood, “He poured out His soul (nephesh) unto death” and “bore the sin of many” (53:12).
*Genesis 10:25. “To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided…” The word may mean “split apart”, “broken away into sections.” Some have suggested that this may actually allude to a period in which certain of the continental shiftings discernible on modern-day maps took place. Which might explain why, for instance, the four rivers branching out from the large one coming out of Eden (Genesis 2:10-14) no longer appear to be in that same relation to each other. Some even suggest that before this shifting, Eden was itself located where Jerusalem is today…making the place where the “First Adam” sinned the place where that sin was atoned for in the death of the “Second Adam” Yeshua. It is interesting that Jewish tradition teaches that Adam and Eve are both buried in Hebron, only 30 km south of Jerusalem on the plot of land purchased by Abraham (Genesis 23) as a burial place for Sarah, and which eventually held Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, and Jacob and Leah.
This week’s reading from the prophet Isaiah is filled with God’s heart and merciful plan for His people Israel. Ask God to use these verses to help in your prayers. Pray that the souls of those who hear them read in synagogues this weekend will be quickened with divine revelation! Pray that Israel will know that she is loved, that she will be convicted of her sin and need for a Redeemer, that she will understand that the LORD Himself is her only Redeemer and that her righteousness comes from Him!
*Isaiah 54:5. “For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is His name; and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth.” The God of all the earth has sovereignly chosen to identify Himself with the name He gave to his servant Jacob—Israel. Nations or religions which will not humble themselves to acknowledge this “identification” will find themselves standing against the very God of all nations and the universe itself.
*Isaiah 54:7-10. “‘For a mere moment I have forsaken you, but with great mercies I will gather you. With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you,’ says the LORD, your Redeemer. ‘For this is like the waters of Noah to Me, For as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of shalom be removed,’ says the LORD who has mercy on you”.
*Isaiah 54:13-15. “All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. Indeed they shall surely assemble, but not because of Me, whoever assembles against you shall fall for your sake.”
*Isaiah 54:17. “‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is from Me,’ says the LORD.”
*Isaiah 55:1-3. “Ho! Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance. Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you—the sure mercies of David.”
Martin and Norma Sarvis
[The readings for next week (22-28 October) are called Lekh Lekha—“Go Forth, Yourself!”. TORAH: Genesis 12:1—17:27; HAFTARAH: Isaiah 40:27—41:16.]