Scriptural Meditation- Judges 7:11

and after you hear what they are saying, you will have the courage to attack the camp.” So with his servant Purah he went down to the outposts of the camp.

It’s a little funny how gentle the Almighty is with Gid’on. I wonder if it is because he comes from a later time, when Israel had become estranged. Less seems to be demanded from him at this pointin his life. This is an interesting example of people only being challenged by what they can handle. It is important to meet people where they are if we wish to help them become who they were made to be.

Vayetzei 5781 Reading of Haftorah and Apostolic Writings

The seventh portion of the book of B’resheet/Genesis is Vayetzei, which means “He Went Out”
Torah Portion: Genesis 28:10-32:3
Haftorah: Hosea 12:13-14:10
Apostolic Writings: John 1:44-51

You can read or listen to the portions below:


Hosea 12:13-14:10

Ya‘akov fled to the land of Aram. There Isra’el slaved to win a wife; for a wife he tended sheep. By a prophet The LORD brought Isra’el up from Egypt, and by a prophet he was protected. Efrayim has given bitter provocation, so the penalty for his bloodshed will be thrown down on him, and his Lord will repay him for his insult.

“When Efrayim spoke, there was trembling; he was a power in Isra’el. But when he incurred guilt through Ba‘al, he died. So now they keep adding sin to sin, casting images from their silver; idols they invent for themselves, all of them the work of craftsmen. ‘Sacrifice to them,’ they say. Men give kisses to calves! Therefore they will be like a morning cloud, like the dew that disappears early, like chaff blown by wind from the threshing-floor, or like smoke that goes out the window. Still, I am The LORD your G-d, from the land of Egypt; and you don’t know any G-d but me or, other than me, any Savior. I knew you in the desert, in a land of terrible drought. When they were fed, they were satisfied; when satisfied, they became proud. Therefore they forgot me. So now I have become like a lion to them; like a leopard I will lurk by the road; I will meet them like a bear whose cubs have been taken away. I will tear their hearts from their bodies. I will devour them there like a lion, like a wild animal ripping them up. It is your destruction, Isra’el, although your help is in me. So now, where is your king, to save you in all your cities? Where are your judges, of whom you said, ‘Give me a king and leaders’? I gave you a king in my anger; and in my fury I took him away. “Efrayim’s guilt has been wrapped up, his sin is stored away. The pain of being born will come to him; but he is an unwise son. The time has come; and he shouldn’t delay, there at the mouth of the womb. Should I ransom them from the power of Sh’ol? Should I redeem them from death? Where are your plagues, death; where is your destruction, Sh’ol? My eyes are closed to compassion. For though he flourishes among the reeds, an east wind will come, a wind from The LORD, blowing up from the desert. Then his water source will dry up, then his spring will fail — it will plunder his treasury, removing every precious thing.”

Shomron will bear her guilt, for she has rebelled against her G-d. They will fall by the sword, their little ones will be dashed to pieces and their pregnant women ripped open. Return, Isra’el, to The LORD your G-d, for your guilt has made you stumble. Take words with you, and return to The LORD ; say to him, “Forgive all guilt, and accept what is good; we will pay instead of bulls [the offerings of] our lips. Ashur will not save us, we will not ride on horses, and we will no longer call what we made with our hands our gods. For it is only in you that the fatherless can find mercy.” “I will heal their disloyalty, I will love them freely; for my anger has turned from him. I will be like dew to Isra’el; he will blossom like a lily and strike roots like the L’vanon. His branches will spread out, his beauty be like an olive tree and his fragrance like the L’vanon. Again they will live in his shade and raise grain; they will blossom like a vine, and its aroma will be like the wine of the L’vanon. Efrayim [will say], ‘What have I to do any more with idols?’ And I, I answer and affirm him; I am like a fresh, green cypress tree; your fruitfulness comes from me.” Let the wise understand these things, and let the discerning know them. For the ways of The LORD are straight, And the righteous walk in them, but in them sinners stumble.

Apostolic Writings

John 1:44-51

Philip was from Beit-Tzaidah, the town where Andrew and Kefa lived. Philip found Natan’el and told him, “We’ve found the one that Moshe wrote about in the Torah , also the Prophets — it’s Yeshua Ben-Yosef from Natzeret!” Natan’el answered him, “Natzeret? Can anything good come from there?” “Come and see,” Philip said to him. Yeshua saw Natan’el coming toward him and remarked about him, “Here’s a true son of Isra’el — nothing false in him!” Natan’el said to him, “How do you know me?” Yeshua answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Natan’el said, “Rabbi, you are the Son of G-d! You are the King of Isra’el!” Yeshua answered him, “you believe all this just because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than that!” Then he said to him, “Yes indeed! I tell you that you will see heaven opened and the angels of G-d going up and coming down on the Son of Man!”

Scriptural Meditation- Mark 2:12

In front of everyone the man got up, picked up his stretcher at once and left. They were all utterly amazed and praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

Have you ever stopped to think about the miraculous healings the Messiah did like this? This man was paralyzed for who knows how long. He could have been like this for years. Imagine the atrophy to his legs. This healing didn’t simply stop this man from being unable to walk, it made him whole. He had the strength, balance and vigor he needed to accomplish a feat he would never have been able to, and it happened in moments. The Most High’s might and mercy are truly wonderful!

Scriptural Meditation- Judges 6:14

The LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this strength of yours and save Isra’el from the hands of Midyan. Haven’t I sent you?”

There is an odd interplay between the angel and Gid’on. It feels a little playful, it feels a little personal. The angel opens with a huge compliment to Gid’on and then this very laudatory promise regarding Midyan. Gid’on has this idealistic zeal that I think is part of why the Almighty chose to work through him. Enthusiasm may be an underrated virtue for believers to cultivate.

Scriptural Meditation- Mark 1: 41-42

Moved with pity, Yeshua reached out his hand, touched him and said to him, “I am willing! Be cleansed!” Instantly the tzara‘at left him, and he was cleansed. 

Tzara’at or Biblical Leprosy is a condition brought on by sin. The context is lost if one only studies the gospels and apostolic writings, but lepers were not incurably diseased people. Instead they were people who had fallen into some sort of sin. The conclusion from Judaism is that the sin was most likely evil speech, but greed and stinginess were ruled to be top contributors to opening someone up to being blighted with tzara’at. Tzara’at could inflict garments and houses as well. Regardless, the root cause of it was sin. Once the person was fully repentant the tzara’at would recede, at which point they would need to go to the cohen who would declare them clean. The ritual aspect is a certification of the reality that the person is now clean. Interestingly, a person is not declared to have tzara’at until time elapses and the cohen decrees that they do indeed have it.

The fact that this particular leper was healed is proof that he truly had repented. He was forgiven for his sins and had to ask for healing to be able to go back to his people and family. I wonder why he and other lepers at the time of Messiah were stuck in this odd place. He would not have healed them if they held fast to their sins and the tzara’at should have gone away, but it didn’t. Were they there in that miserable state for him to heal them? To magnify the glory of The LORD? Or were these people stuck in doubt and unable to move on? Were they unsure they were worthy to be, so to speak, born again and able to enter back into society? I can’t be sure, but we meet them at the point where they are faithful that this man can bring them new life and they are only healed after they have the courage to ask for it. As the good book says, if we ask, we shall receive.

Scriptural Meditation- Judges 5:23

“‘Curse Meroz!’ said the angel of The LORD , ‘Curse the people living there with a bitter punishment for not coming to help The LORD, to help The LORD against the mighty warriors.’

This idea started in the previous chapter when Barak hesitated to go attack Sisra with D’vorah. He was told that a woman would be honored in his place because of his lack of confidence. The job needed to get done and Barak was called upon to do it, but when he faltered the Almighty chose someone else to work through. What help does the Almighty need from humans? How can we effect his purposes? We can sure get in His way. This could spin into a great long discourse about free will and Divine Sovereignty, but to me it boils down to this: I want to align myself with the Most High and if that means I will be called to serve as a vessel to do his will in a significant way, I hope I have the resolve to answer that call without delay. Heaven’s will be done, so why not be the one to do it?

Scriptural Meditation- Matthew 28:17

When they saw him, they prostrated themselves before him; but some hesitated.  

There are different types of people. Some are more cautious, some are more gullible. Some never trust anyone or anything while some fall for everything. Holy people are called to be discerning and to examine the world, not simply take everything as presented.

There is nothing wrong with healthy skepticism.

Scriptural Meditation- Judges 4:8

Barak answered her: “If you go with me, I’ll go; but if you won’t go with me, I won’t go.” 

D’vorah had already told Barak that Heaven decreed that Sisra would be defeated that day. Barak could have been the one to bring it about, but he was scared. He asked for D’vorah to go with him to help assure him as opposed to facing the army trusting and knowing that the Almighty was with him. What is D’vorah? How could she save him? There is only One who saves. It was decreed that Sisra dies that day so the Most High raised up Ya’el to see His will done. There are some things that only we can do. We must answer the call or we deprive ourselves of what our Heavenly Father knows we need.

Scriptural Meditation- Matthew 27:25

All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” 

I feel like this verse holds some hidden spiritual meaning. Recall the generation that came out of Egypt; the men aged 20 and over all died and could not enter the Land because they believed the evil report of the Ten Spies. What do you think happened to them? Are they damned? Do they get a chance to repent and be welcomed into the world to come by their merciful Father who redeemed them for the house of slavery? I can’t think of scripture that says that isn’t the case. I know there are Jewish sources that say Moshe himself will gather them in Messianic times and they will enter the Promised Land. I think an epistle says something, but I can’t find it just now.

I think it is reasonable to think that those people who rejected the Promised Land through their human frailty have a second chance. If that is true, then why not the people gathered before Pilate? They asked for a wicked man to be freed and wanted nothing to do with the righteous Messiah. They rejected good for evil, godly for fleshly, just like those people who believed the lies of the Ten Spies.

The sacrificial system in the Torah uses blood to atone for sins, but literally it is to cover up the sins. The kapparah is made by taking the blood of an innocent and placing it upon an object or person to elevate to a state of holiness. The pascal lamb’s blood on the lintels in Egypt covered up the guilt and sin of the people in those houses. The cohanim, Aaron and his sons had blood placed on their right ear lobe, thumb and big toes as part of their inauguration into the priesthood in the Wilderness. On Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, blood was sprinkled on the Tabernacle and later the Temple, in order to cleanse it, by covering up the sins and spiritual uncleanliness of all Israel. Followers of Messiah believe their sins are covered by his blood as well.

So what does it mean when the people declare that Messiah’s blood is on them and their children? Is that some sort of sealing of salvation for Israel? Is whatever it means specific to that generation and their offspring? Is it only those people who were gathered there?