Welcome to Congre gation Beit Lechem !
We are a Messianic Congregation worshiping Y-H-V-H through Messiah Yeh’shua in Jackson, Mississippi. Please check back to our website often so that we may keep you up to date on the latest events at Congregation Beit Lechem of MS.
Announcement: We continue with the book of Daniel on Wednesday, May 22, at 7 p.m.
Teacher: Ms. Angie Boleware.
Join our open discussion of this week’s Torah portion.
The book of Numbers:
Part 1 Israel and mixed multitude, sand and stars
Part 2 Woman from Canaan, Matthew Ch.15-22
Part 3 Camp around the Tabernacle
Part 4 Camp around the Tabernacle
Part 5 Conclusion
I. The opening lesson
In the writings of Mattityahu, the Messiah said to His talmidim, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his stake, and follow Me.”
Mark wrote of a man who once approached the Messiah and asked, “Good Rabbi, what shall I do to inherit everlasting life?” The Messiah told him “You know the commandments, do not commit adultery, or murder, or steal, respect your father and mother. The man assured Him, “Rabbi, all of these I’ve watched over from my youth!” Then He told him what he lacked: “Go, sell all your possessions, give to the poor… and then come, follow Me, taking up the stake.” This man knew some of the basic commandments and had “watched over them” all his life. Hearing this, the Messiah called him to a deeper understanding of Torah and a deeper walk in Torah by following Him and living out all of the commandments no matter what the cost.
In Luke’s writings the Messiah declared, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his stake DAILY, and follow Me.” Following the Messiah is a daily exercise of faith, love, obedience and – sacrifice.
Yochanan tells us of the time, just before the Messiah’s ascension, when the Messiah asked Kepha three times, “Kepha, do you love Me?” Each time Kepha responded “Yes” the Messiah told him, “Feed My sheep.”
Kepha then turned around and saw Yochanan and asked, “Master, what about this one?”, but Messiah responded, “If I wish him to remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” It doesn’t matter what those around you are doing or not doing. If fact, no matter what they are doing or teaching, or not doing or not teaching, you are to follow the Messiah, but what does that mean? Where does one begin a life of following the Messiah?
That question is answered in the first seven verses of this week’s par’sha. In these verses Moshe lays the foundation each of us must have if we are to begin walking and living as His chosen people. In fact, without the foundation Moshe establishes in these verses, it is impossible for a person to truly “follow the Messiah” and live as He commanded us to live.
The par’sha opens in D’varim 3.23 with, “And I pleaded with HaShem at that time…” Moshe’s dream, his desire, was to see the Land before he died. By this time, Y’hoshua ben Nun had been anointed Isra’el’s new leader. Isra’el had defeated Sichon and Og and was now camped on the banks of the Yarden, ready to cross over and take the Land. Moshe wasn’t asking to lead Isra’el into the Promised Land, just to see it – if for only a short time.
In the weeks leading up to his plea before HaShem, Moshe had witnessed the mighty works of HaShem and was reminded that there was no limit to what HaShem could do – and in most cases, to what He will forgive. So Moshe pleaded with HaShem to be allowed to just cross over and see the Land.
The Hebrew word translated as “pleaded” is NnH chanan and means to “implore, or beg, the compassion or mercy” of someone. This helps us to better understand Moshe’s heart as he approached HaShem that day, earnestly seeking, crying out for His permission to see the Land. Years later the sages would teach, “Yet though the gates of prayer are locked, the gates of tears are not, for it is written, ‘Hear my prayer, O HaShem, and give ear unto my cry; do not be silent at my tears.’” It gives us the idea that tears denote a sincere, broken heart seeking HaShem.
Moshe pleaded with HaShem. He poured out his heart, but HaShem refused. He told Moshe, “It is too much for you! Do not speak to Me further about this matter.” Being the humble man that he was, Moshe accepted HaShem’s decree without complaint and did not mention it again.
Keep in mind, B’nei Isra’el was camped just across the Yarden from Gilgal and Yericho. Moshe could see the Promised Land across the river. They were that close. Moshe could have easily entered the Land without anyone knowing it, but he didn’t. Moshe surrendered his dream, his heart’s desire, to HaShem in order to do HaShem’s will. That’s the starting point of following the Messiah; surrendering our wills, our desires, to Him.
Generations later the Messiah came to Gethsemane to daven in the hours just before His arrest and crucifixion. As he davened, He too made His desire known to the Father. “Father, if it be Your will (counsel), remove this cup from Me.” Remember, the Messiah was in agony and “davened earnestly”, so much so that His sweat “became like great drops of blood falling to the ground.” The Messiah knew the pain and suffering He was about to endure…and yet He added, “Yet not My desire but Yours be done.” But the Messiah didn’t just say these words, He lived them. And not just on this night, but every day of His life. The Messiah lived His life submitting Himself to His Father’s will.
Neither Moshe nor the Messiah had any problem in making their desires known to HaShem, but far above their own desires was a love and devotion that led them place the Father’s desires, His Will, above their own.
This is what Melech David meant when he wrote, “And delight yourself in HaShem, and let Him give you the desires of your heart.” This doesn’t mean that just because we love HaShem we can present our “wish list” of desires to Him and He will give them to us. Rather it means that when we truly love Him we will earnestly seek His will for our lives over our own – that what He desires for us and of us becomes our desires as well.
Avraham, Moshe, Melech David, the Messiah and the Talmidim remind us that ultimately we must acknowledge His will over our own. We must be willing to submit our lives to Him no matter what our own desires are, what our own wills – even our own prayers are, and no matter what the cost – if we are to “follow Him”.
That journey can only really begin when we truly understand what it means to say, “Father, not my will but Yours be done.” Fortunately for us, we don’t have to wonder what our Father’s will is for us. In this week’s par’sha HaShem told Moshe, “…you stand here by Me, and let Me speak to you ALL the commands, and the laws, and the right-rulings which you are to teach them…And you shall guard to do as HaShem your Elohim has commanded you – do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Walk in ALL the way which HaShem your Elohim has commanded you, SO THAT you live and it be well with you.”  That’s His desire for your life – that you live and it be well with you, but this will not happen if you aren’t willing to learn and guard His ways and follow His commandments. That is the basis of our covenant with Him and is also one of the lessons of this week’s par’sha. This is where we begin to learn how to “follow the Messiah”;by submitting our lives to the Father.
II. The “how-to”
After learning that he would not be allowed to enter the Land, Moshe returned to B’nei Isra’el and resumed teaching them the Torah. He called on them to “listen – shema!”- to the laws and the right-rulings he was teaching them. Shema means more than just hearing, it means listening, learning and doing what you are hearing.
Then Moshe taught Isra’el what it means to “guard Elohim’s commandments”. It means “Do not add to the Word which I am commanding you, and do not take away from it, so as to guard the commands of HaShem your Elohim.” Guarding the commandments, what many refer to as “keeping them”, means not adding to or taking away from what HaShem has said.
But we are not to just “guard them” so that no one adds to His Word or takes away from His Word, we are to do them. In verse 6 Moshe wrote, “And you shall guard and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding before the eyes of the people who hear all these laws, and they shall say, ‘Only a wise and understanding people is this great nation!”. What a difference we see today when people look at all these laws and proclaim we can’t keep them. When we guard and do His commandments, the nations of the world are drawn to “His great nation!” because He watches over us, protects us and provides for us.
In D’varim 5.1, Moshe said, “Hear, O Isra’el, the laws and right-rulings which I speak in your hearing today. And you shall learn them, and guard to do them.” Here we find the two-step process we must follow in regards to Torah:
Learning the commandments, statues and ordinances
Guarding to do them – doing them without adding to or taking away from them.
The Messiah taught this same precept during His first sojourn among us.
Luke 8.21: The Messiah said, “My mother and my brothers are those who are hearing the Word of Elohim and doing it.” This was not a new concept in the first century, but one handed down from Mount Sinai.
Luke 11.28: The Messiah said, “Blessed rather are those hearing the Word of Elohim and watching over it.” Watching over is translated from the Greek word phulasso, which means “to guard and protect.”
Learning to “guard and do” all the commandments of Torah, without turning to the right or left, is the second step in learning to “follow Him.” It’s the second step in learning to put His will above our own.
III. The Repetition of the Torah
In D’varim 5.2, we begin what is commonly referred to as “the repetition of the Torah”. Although all the mitzvot were given at Mount Sinai, in Sefer D’varim we are given about 70 mitzvot that have not been previously discussed in Torah.
Moshe told B’nei Isra’el that HaShem made a covenant with them at Horev, which is Mount Sinai. Then he stated, “HaShem did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive.” Moshe was telling Isra’el that the covenant at Horev, in which HaShem gave us the Torah, wasn’t only for those that stood before HaShem on that day, but for all the generations that followed.
Then, in verses 6-21, Moshe reviews the Ten Declarations HaShem spoke to Isra’el from Mount Horev/Sinai. This Shabbat we will also review the Ten Declarations.
1) [vs. 6] I am HaShem your Elohim, who brought you out of bondage. This is not only the first of the Ten Declarations, it is the first step in learning to place His Will above our own and the first step in learning to “follow the Messiah”. We must accept that He is Who He says He is, humble ourselves before Him and accept His absolute sovereignty over us. Without that awe and reverence of Him we cannot fully appreciate the rest of what He has to say nor will we be willing to do what it takes to follow Him.
2) [vs. 7-10] You have no other mighty ones against My face. We are not to recognize the gods of other religions or people in any way, form or fashion nor are we to participate in the rituals or traditions of other religions. This is especially true in our observance of HaShem’s commandments and His appointed times: we are not to mix worldly practices in with our observance of His commandments.
This includes not making carved images of things in the heavens, on the earth, beneath the earth or in the seas and bowing down and worshiping them as gods or in any way acknowledging they have some kind of power or authority. See declaration number one.
HaShem warns that if we participate in such sins, we draw His wrath upon us and upon our children up to the 3rd and 4th generations. He also explains why: because people who do such things demonstrate that their hatred for HaShem and His Word – whether they realize it or not.
But for those who “love Him and guard His commandments”, He shows kindness to thousands. Years later Yochanan wrote, “By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim and guard His commands.”
3) [vs. 11] You do not bring the Name of HaShem your Elohim to naught, for HaShem does not leave him unpunished who bring His Name to naught. Many people believe this is a prohibition against speaking His Name, Y-H-V-H, aloud. While it is true that we must guard against using His Name in such a way as to make His Name common or inadvertently speak it in a way that would bring dishonor to His Name or to us, it means much more than this.
Our actions can also “bring His Name to naught”. If we profess to believe in Him, if we profess to be a Torah-observant follower of the Messiah, but then don’t keep His Word as we have been commanded both by the Father and the Messiah, we “bring His Name to naught” or “use it in vain” as some translations have it.
4) [vs. 12-15] Guard the Sabbath day, to set it apart. The Hebrew word for “guard” is ROmw “shamor” and means to “safeguard” or “protect. A generation earlier at Mount Sinai, HaShem had commanded us to ROkz “remember” the Sabbath day and set it apart. Same commandment, two different words.
Once again we see the importance of keeping the Sabbath reinforced. We are commanded to “hear and guard to do” all of the commandments, but the Sabbath is again singled out in that we are commanded to “remember” and “safeguard” the Sabbath – hear and guard to do. This is the basis for using two Shabbat candles on Erev Shabbat; one is so that we “remember the Sabbath” and the other is to remind us to “safeguard” the Sabbath, don’t let anyone take it from us.
5) [vs. 16] Honor your father and your mother. Sometimes people confuse the terms “honoring” with “obeying” parents. Honoring parents requires that we see to their needs, while obedience to our parents changes with marriage. Marriage establishes our own families where husbands submit themselves to HaShem and the Messiah, wives to the husbands and children to their parents, but this does not relieve us of the responsibility of making sure our parents are cared for.
6) [vs. 17-20] 6-10: Do not murder, commit adultery, steal, or bear false witness against your neighbor and do not covet what belongs to your neighbor. In the Hebrew text all five of these commandments are listed in two verses, but they are written on the Torah scroll in a very distinctive manner. Although they are one “group”, they are separated by “stumot”, blank spaces that remind us to read and consider the importance of each one separately.
The first five of these Ten Declarations teach us the basis of how we are to “love HaShem with all our heart, soul and resources” while the last five lay the foundation of how we are to “love our neighbor as ourselves”. The Messiah said that these were the two commandments “on which all of the Torah and the Prophets rests.”
Notice also that of these last five commandments, the first four of these address actual deeds while the last one forbids even the thought of harming a brother.
IV. The Shema and V’havta
Moshe concludes the par’sha with the Shema and the V’havta in D’varim 6.4-9 – again stressing the importance of hearing/learning the commandments and then “guarding to do them.” If we truly love HaShem our Elohim then certain things should follow in our lives:
These Words shall be in our hearts. In D’varim 30.14, HaShem said, “For the Word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart – to do it.”
If we truly love HaShem, we will diligently teach the commandments to our children
We will speak of them in our homes and in public, when we lie down and when we get up. In other words, we will constantly be talking about His Word.
We will bind them for a sign upon our hands and let them be frontlets between our eyes
We will write them on the doorposts of our homes and on our gates.
These things are a testimony of your love for HaShem.
V. Just the foundation.
In this midrash we’ve studied just the Ten Declarations HaShem spoke to our forefathers at Mount Sinai. If you’ll recall, when the man approached the Messiah and asked what he must do to inherit eternal life, the Messiah first reminded him of these commandments – do not commit adultery, murder, steal and so forth. When the man assured Messiah that he had guarded to do all of these from childhood, the Messiah then called him to a deeper walk, a deeper observance of Torah. If he was already keeping the commandments, what more could he do?
He had to learn to “follow the Messiah” – the Living Torah. But, to do this, he had to add something more to his love of Elohim and his obedience to His Word. He had to learn to sacrifice something of himself to follow the Messiah. In this case, it was material possessions and riches, but for others it could something very different.
Sacrifice is not just about giving up the material things of this world. It also means sacrificing our wills and our desires – and, yes, sometimes even life-long dreams - to do the will of our Father, to “follow Him”; just as Moshe did and just as the Messiah did.
We are called to follow the Messiah, Who sacrificed ALL to do His Father’s will. The Messiah taught us what it means to say, “Not my will but Yours Father” and then to give ALL to follow Him, something we simply cannot do if we aren’t willing to learn, guard and do His commandments.
None of the commandments – not one of them – is too difficult or too complicated for us to learn, to guard and to do. None of them have been done away with or changed. HaShem says so, so did the Messiah. They are the rules we must live by if we are to be a part of His Kingdom, but Torah-observance is not the end result of our redemption – following the Messiah is. In other words, learning to be Torah-observant is what prepares us to follow the Messiah, it is not the end of the journey. Once we learn the commandments, we have to learn how to live them out, day by day.
Learning to humble ourselves before HaShem and keep His commandments instead of deciding what is right in our own eyes is the first step in learning to place His will over our own and prepares us for that deeper walk with the Messiah.
If Messiah can’t trust us to keep the simple, easy commandments of Torah, how can He trust us to do the rest of what He has called us to do?
If He can’t trust us not to bring the gods of others into our celebration of His appointed times, or not to commit adultery, lie, cheat or steal, how can he trust us to stand against our adversary, ha’satan, or to battle against “the world rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual matters of wickedness in the Heavenlies?”
If we won’t keep His Sabbath’s, one of the most repeated commandments of Torah, because of the reasoning and teachings of men, will man’s reasoning and teachings eventually do away with more and more of His eternal commandments?
The Messiah taught, “He who is trustworthy in what is least, is trustworthy also in much. And he who is unrighteous in what is least is unrighteous also in much.” If we can’t be trusted to keep “even the least” of His commandments, why should He trust us to keep the greater ones?
What does it take to turn a believer from His commandments and to place their will above His? How much suffering does one endure before He breaks the Sabbath, or commits adultery, or lies or steals or covets? How much did the Messiah suffer rather than break even the least of them? And He calls us to follow Him?
Following the Messiah means:
Accepting HaShem as our Sovereign Elohim and His Son, Y’hoshua of Nazareth as His Son and Promised Redeemer of Isra’el.
Humbling yourself before HaShem and learning what it really means to say, “Not my will but Yours Father.”
Learning and then guarding to do all His commandments, even the least ones.
Making the sacrifices that following Him demands of us, not matter what they are.
It means surrendering all to Him and trusting Him to give us the desires of hearts – the desires that will enable us to “follow Him.”
Only then can we truly follow the Messiah.
Following the Messiah means more than just learning Torah, it means living Torah. It means making the sacrifices necessary to accomplish the Father’s will for your life and in the world around you, but if you don’t have the discipline to learn, guard and do His simple commandments, don’t expect Him to trust you with the “weightier matters of His Kingdom.”
The Messiah once told a group of Pharisees, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of Torah; the right-ruling and the compassion and faithfulness; but these things you should have done without neglecting the others.” We cannot afford to waste any more time arguing over the least matters of keeping Torah because it leads to neglecting the weightier matters of Torah: the right-rulings, compassion and faithfulness He demands of us.
Living a Torah-observant life today demands sacrifices. It always has.
It demands we worshiping on a different day than most of the rest of the world. It means keeping the Sabbath –not some other day.
It means eating a different diet
maintaining a higher standard of ethics in your private and professional life,
keeping different holidays than most of your family and friends keep
and so many other things.
But learning to make these small sacrifices – and believe me, that is what they are, small sacrifices. These small sacrifices are necessary in order to live a Torah-observant life in today’s society. A life that prepares you for the sacrifices following the Messiah demands of us.
Keeping the Sabbath as opposed to another day of worship is a huge debate among many of those who believe in the Messiah. It isn’t to HaShem.
Eating a kosher diet is another big debate among the Messiah’s followers today. It isn’t to HaShem.
In fact, there is quite a lot of debate among some believers about which commandments a follower of Messiah is to keep and which ones are no longer applicable. There is no debate about which ones to keep with our Father or the Messiah.
The Messiah said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” There is no debate about which ones He was referring to. He said even the least ones.
Do you truly want to be Torah-observant as the Messiah was? Be prepared to make sacrifices.
Do you want to follow the Messiah? Not through words and clichés, but with all your heart, soul and strength? I challenge you to show me how it can be done without first learning to keep His commandments.
Do you want to actually do the works of the Messiah, to take up where He left off? Then be prepared to mean it when you say, “Not my will but Yours be done Father”.
Being Torah-observant and following the Messiah is not a game; it is not something for theologians to debate and then tell us the answer. It is life or death, blessings or curses.
It is also simply a choice we must make, a choice that demands obedience, faith, trust, love and sacrifice, but it is a choice that is worth whatever sacrifice we have to make.
I want to encourage you today to learn the commandments, guard them and do them. I want to encourage you to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to get your life in order – not the order man teaches, but according to His Word. This is the only way to truly be ready when the Messiah calls to you and says, “Come, deny yourself, take up your stake and follow Me!”
 Mattityhau 16.24
 Baba Metzia 59a; T’hillim 39.12
 Luke 22.44
 Luke 22.42
 T’hillim 37.4
 From D’varim 5.31-33
 1st Yochanan 5.2
 D’varim 6.5
 V’yikra 19.18
 Mattityahu 22.40
 Ephesians 6.12
 Luke 16.10
 Mattityahu 23.23