Weekly Scripture Commentary

Shabbat Shuvah — the Shabbat of Return

Shabbat Shuvah is the Shabbat between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, named as such from the first word of the Haftarah (Hosea 14:2-10): "Shuvah Israel - Return, O Israel - to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity And receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips."

Shuvah means to return to God and to live a life for Him. At the High Holy Days we can return to God and come close to Him through a quiet time of introspection, a time of taking stock of our walk with the Lord. Are we walking with Him and thus are the salt and light to the world or are we caught up in the world's frenzy? If the latter, this would be a good time to return to our Lord and Saviour, the source of complete joy, happiness and blessings.

Parashah Ha'azinu

"Give ear, O you heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My teaching shall drop as the rain, my speech shall flow as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass. Because I will proclaim the name of Yehovah; ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice; a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He." Devarim 32:1-4 "... And Moshe came and spoke all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Joshua the son of Nun. And Moshe finished speaking all these words to all Israel. And he said to them, 'Set your hearts to all the words which I testify among you this day, which you shall instruct your children to be careful to perform all the words of this Torah. For it is not an empty thing for you; because it is your life; and through this matter you shall prolong your days in the Land, where you go over the Jordan to possess it.'" Devarim 32:44-47

This is the second "song" of Moshe. In it he calls heaven and earth to bear witness to the calamities that will befall Israel if it sins, and the ultimate joy that will come with the final redemption. The climax of Moshe's life and the legacy that he will leave behind is to charge the people to instruct their children in the Torah, for it is not an empty thing but it is life. Indeed, instructing the children in the ways of God must be first priority. But Torah is a tutor for us too; we cannot give that which we do not posses. Have you yet crossed the spiritual Jordan to posses it? Have you come to posses the wisdom, the joy, the hope and the life that the teachings of the Torah give?

The rabbis comment that in the Torah's definition, a “song” is a profound and unusual spiritual phenomenon. Even most of the “poetry” of David and Yeshayahu, is not considered a song. What then constitutes the Torah's concept of a song? In the normal course of events, we fail to perceive the hand of God at work and often wonder how most of the daily, seemingly unrelated, events surrounding us could be part of a Divine coherent plan. We see suffering and evil, and we wonder how they can be the handiwork of a Merciful God. Rarely, however, there is a flash of insight that makes people realize how all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place. At such times, we can understand how every note, instrument, and participant in God's symphony of Creation plays its role. The result is a song, for the Torah's concept of a song is the condition in which all the apparently unrelated and contradictory events do indeed melt into a coherent, merciful, comprehensible whole.

But the victory song of Moshe, his first song, sang after the exodus from Egypt, will be heard again. It will be heard in heaven together with a new song, the song of the Lamb: "And they sang the Song of Moshe, the bond-servant of Yehovah, and the Song of the Lamb, saying, 'Great and marvelous are Your works, Yehovah Adonai the Almighty, righteous and true are your ways, You are Melech kol HaGoyim (King of all the Nations).' Adonai, who would not fear You and ascribe glory to your Name? Because You alone are Kadosh (Holy), for all the Nations will come and worship before You because your righteous acts have been made known.” Revelation 15:3-4

What is the Song of the Lamb and what are the Lamb's righteous acts? "You are worthy... for You were slain and with Your blood You paid the price for the redemption and purchased ones for Yehovah from every family and tongue and people and nation, and made them for Eloheinu a kingdom and priests, and they will reign on ha'aretz (the earth)." Revelation 5:9-10

Indeed this is a song who expresses a profound spiritual truth in which Tanakh prophecies melt into a coherent, merciful, comprehensive whole. God sent His beloved Son to satisfy His requirement for holiness announced in the Torah. Our sins cannot be forgiven unless atonement is done for them by the shedding of innocent blood, and not just any blood, but blood that has been provided by God Himself. "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement." Yeshua came to cover our sins with His shed blood once and for all. He is our kapporah, He made atonement for us. Believe in Him. Indeed, He is worthy for our praises and songs. Let us rejoice that the Lamb of God, Yeshua, came on this earth and made atonement for us, for this indeed is the true meaning of Yom Kippur.

Saturday, September 30 - How to Observe a True Yom Kippur

We read about the Yom Kippur service in the Torah in Leviticus chapter 16: "He (the High Priest, Aharon) shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the doorway of the tent of meeting. Aharon shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. Then Aharon shall offer the goat on which the lot for the LORD fell, and make it a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat." This was the ancient Yom Kippur service when the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem. Today we cannot perform this service, but there is also something else that we cannot do, we cannot say that we believe in the Torah, and than disregard parts from it. Traditional Judaism believes that this is a relic of antiquity, that this is not something that God expects us to practice any more since there is no Temple that stands. So they throw out what God has set down as a permanent statute. But you cannot change the word of God, you cannot add to it or subtract from it, you have to understand why God gave it also for this generation, not as progressive history, but as an eternal principle. But these rabbis have substituted the sacrificial system with a system of their own saying that now prayer, penitence and charity avert God's decree.

God nowhere in Scripture said this, but what He said is that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins. And so this is the requirement - there has to be blood offered to God for the sins, transgressions and iniquities which have been committed. Orthodox Judaism tries to replace it symbolically with chickens and with roosters. Do they really believe that a chicken is taking away their sins? But did we ever truly believe that a goat took away our sins? If we could have believed that a goat could take away our sins, why not a chicken? And since we can only offer a goat in the Holy Temple, which does not stand now, it is important that we do something to fulfill what God said is required. So the Orthodox do not disregard the Scripture, they try to retain its meaning through a similar ceremony. But in so doing they also have had to change the Scripture, because the Torah said that only the Kohen Gadol can perform the ceremony and that he can sacrifice only one type of animal, a goat, in the Holy Temple for the people's atonement.

Messianic Judaism does not do away or change these Scriptures. Messianic Judaism understands that animals cannot take the place of human beings paying for their sins, that animals are only symbols, that the goat offered up to God and the goat which has all of the sins of Israel confessed over and sent into the wilderness, are only pictures of what the Messiah was to do for us. We understand that chickens and roosters cannot replace the ceremony, but that the two goats speak of Messiah's work on our behalf. These are two pictures of our Messiah, one picture of the goat which was sacrificed and its blood offered, and the other picture showing us that when that goat was sacrificed our sins were transferred to it. Through these pictures we get the message that God has given us as a permanent statute and we can believe it without altering the Scripture. Without changing the principle of God, we believe that it was a sacrifice done for us, and that our sins were transferred to that sacrifice. And that it is God Himself who made atonement for us, that our people in antiquity never made atonement for themselves.

Only believing in Messiah can keep us true to the text; without the Messiah having come, yes, it is a big problem to know what to do now that the Temple does not stand. And the Temple does not stand for a very good reason. It is because God has fulfilled the rites of the Temple through the Messiah. The rabbis recorded in the Talmud - Mas. Yoma 39b - a most interesting event that occurred year after year on Yom Kippur in the period between Yeshua's death and the destruction of the Temple: "Our Rabbis taught: During the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple the lot [‘For the Lord’] did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-coloured strap become white; nor did the westernmost light shine." The rites of Yom Kippur have been fulfilled by Yeshua's sacrifice on the cross; there is no more a need for animal sacrifices. When we believe in Him we do not do away with the Scripture or change it, but we actually see the Scriptures come to life in a Person, that this atonement actually happened through God's Anointed.

Through king David God explains the purpose of what was written in Leviticus 16. In Psalm 40 verse 6, David speaks in the spirit through prophesy and the Messiah speaks through him and says: "You gave Me to understand that You do not desire sacrifice and meal offering; You do not ask for burnt offering and sin offering. Then I said, 'See, in the scroll of the book [Torah] it is written of Me. To do what pleases You, My God, is My desire; Your Torah is within My heart.'" God never wanted animal sacrifice; they never really took away sin. He did not want meal offerings because grain could never cover our iniquity. But we certainly thought so, we thought that the Torah requires it; and yet He says it is not required because it speaks of something or someone else that is required. Verse 7 says: "It is written of Me in the scroll of the book." This person here, speaking through David, says that what we read in Leviticus 16 about the two goats was written about Him. He says, What is written in the Torah concerning sacrifice, concerning sin offering, is about Me, and I delight to do Your will, O God, Your Torah is within My heart. All the sacrifices of the Temple, all the rites of the Temple, all the rituals are in this person's heart and He delights to fulfill it within Himself. Messiah Himself becomes the sacrifice to satisfy God's requirement for remission of sin, so that all of our sins are transferred to Him so we no longer have to worry about making atonement for sins because He does it for us.

Let us be grateful that we have had atonement made for us and that Yeshua is in heaven interceding through His own blood for us. We can believe in Him, we can receive forgiveness, and we can start anew with a clean heart. All your sins, no matter how many, are forgiven you for His name sake if you will take His hand in faith right now.

L'Shanah Tovah!


Coming up this Shabbat at Ben David

September 23 - Message by Robb Schwartz:


“Jewish Objection: Jesus cannot be the Messiah because He is a descendant of King Jehoiachin (Jeconiah).”

God cursed both this king and his offspring, saying that none of his descendants would ever sit on the throne of David.
Is there a way around the curse in order for Jesus/Yeshua, to ascend the throne in light of the genealogical issues in Jehoiachin's line? Both the scripture and ancient rabbinical opinions offer some interesting answers to this question.

Simchat Torah

October 14 - Simchat Torahtorah
The Joy of the Torah - Morning Service
Concluding the annual Torah reading and beginning anew.
Join us celebrating God's word.

Rosh HaShanah

Wednesday, September 20 - Erev Rosh HaShanah Messianic Service at 7:00pm.rosh
Rosh HaShanah, also known as the Jewish New Year, is called in the Bible, The Feast of Trumpets, or, in Hebrew, Zicharon Teruah, the Day of Memorial of Blowing.
Rosh HaShanan (literally, Head of the Year) occurs on the first day of the Jewish month of Tishrei, this year, on Thursday, September 21.
Please join us for the evening service on Wednesday, September 20, at 7:00pm and celebrate this Biblical Holy Day and its Messianic significance.

Yom Kippur

September 30 - Yom Kippur Messianic Serviceykippur
Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, occurs on the tenth of Tishrei, Saturday, September 30 this year.
Join us for this Messianic Service at 10:30am.


October 7 - Sukkot Service at 10:30am:sukkot
join us for a Sukkot celebration.
- Morning Service and Oneg in the Sukkah.

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