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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise specified are taken from The Complete Jewish Bible by David H. Stern. Copyright ©1998. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Messianic Jewish Publishers, 6120 Day Long Lane, Clarksville, MD  21029.
If you haven't yet done so, now is the time to get your copy of "As It Is Written: Ancient Torah Lessons for the Modern-day Believer." If you have a copy, get some copies for your friends and loved ones. Whether you've been studying Torah for years or are just beginning, you're sure to find pearls of wisdom and insight in this book. To get your copy, please click here: http://bnottziyon.com/christina_oakes

Thank you for your prayers, support, and encouragement.
Most sincerely in our Messiah Yeshua,
Christina Oakes/Hadassah

 Please note, for the 5775/2015 Year, Hadassah is considering the idea of writing another book. While we will miss her missives, we invite you to visit the archives of her past works. In these archives you will find selections on the parshiyot, haftarah and Tehillim (Psalms) according to the annual cycle of Torah readings, going back a few years. Todah!

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Entries for February 2013


Ki Tissa Exodus 30:11-34:25
Haftarah Ezekiel 36:16-38

The theme of repentance and restoration continues as we explore the Haftarah accompanying Ki Tissa. The notorious golden calf incident is fresh in our minds as we read HaShem’s indictment against Yisrael. Through His prophet, Ezekiel, HaShem brings the serious charge that His people, called to bear His Name (1 Chronicles 7:14) and to sanctify it, have instead profaned it in all the places they have been scattered. The sin of defiling His land by idolatry is compounded when their very dispersion causes the pagan nations to question HaShem’s holiness and power (Ezekiel 36:19-20). Rather than leave His people to their devices, He gives His own solution for sanctifying His great Name. Ezekiel 36:23-27 says: "I will set apart my great name to be regarded as holy, since it has been profaned in the nations- you profaned it among them. The nations will know that I am [ADONAI],' says [Adonai ELOHIM], 'when, before their eyes, I am set apart through you to be regarded as holy. For I will take you from among the nations, gather you from all the countries, and return you to your own soil. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit inside you; I will take the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit inside you and cause you to live by my laws, respect my rulings and obey them." Perhaps this passage seems a bit long for quotation, but it gives us clues as to what HaShem will do for His people and when He will do it. The first thing to notice is that He will bring Yisrael back to the land He had promised them (36:24-25).

To further clarify, the prophet Zephaniah states: "Gather together, gather yourselves, nation devoid of shame; before the decree takes effect, and the day comes when one passes like chaff; before [ADONAI]'s fierce anger comes on you, before the day of [ADONAI]'s anger comes on you. Seek [ADONAI], all you humble in the land, you who exercise his justice; seek righteousness, seek humility- you might be hidden on the day of [ADONAI]'s anger." (Zephaniah 2:1-3) In other words, Yisrael will be regathered while in a state of unbelief. Then, HaShem will bring them to the place of being filled with His Spirit, thereby causing them to walk in His Mitzvot. Like a baby waiting to be born, Yisrael will turn back to Adonai and His Messiah when the time is right. One may rightfully ask, "What about the time between now and then? What about those Jewish souls entering eternity without G-d?" This is where we come into play. Many believers seem to have great compassion for the lost, except for when it comes to the Jewish people. Yours truly has run into reactions ranging from apathy, to impatience, to downright anti-Semitism at the mention of Jewish people and how they, too, just like us, need to hear the Good News of Redemption. Instead of showing compassion and mercy toward them like we would toward people of Africa, Asia, India, or a host of other places, we are more apt to mimic the pagan nations of old, mocking Yisrael, not realizing that we are mocking Her G-d, too. Doubtless, He will not stand by and take that lightly. Instead of profaning the Name of Him Whom we claim to love by hardening our hearts toward His people, let us show mercy and compassion, praying earnestly and fervently for the Jewish people and loving them unconditionally. Only if we do this will they see the Light Who is Mashiach Yeshua, and they will have a reason to want what we have. As it is written: "For, brothers, I want you to understand this truth which G-d formerly concealed but has now revealed, so that you won't imagine you know more than you actually do. It is that stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Isra'el, until the Gentile world enters in its fullness; and that it is in this way that all Isra'el will be saved. As the [Tanakh] says, "Out of Tziyon will come the Redeemer; he will turn away ungodliness from Ya'akov and this will be my covenant with them,... when I take away their sins."" (Romans 11:25-27) Let us sanctify G-d’s Name by loving His Jewish people.

Shalom uvracha,
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Tetzaveh Exodus 27:20-30:10
Haftarah Ezekiel 43:10-27

Whereas this week’s Torah portion details how the priests are to be consecrated, the accompanying Haftarah gives the blueprint of the altar and specifications for its consecration. the consequent revelation found in Ezekiel, though, is conditional. This ancient condition applies to us in our modern times. Ezekiel 43:10-11 says: ""You, human being, describe this house to the house of Isra'el, so that they will be ashamed of their crimes. And let them measure accurately. If they become ashamed of all they have done, show them the elevation and plan of the house, its exits and entrances, all its details and decorations, and all its specifications, its design and its [Torah]. Sketch it for them to see, so that they can observe the entire design with its specifications, and carry them out."" the revelation of the blueprint of the coming Temple and its ordinances is dependent on Yisrael’s being ashamed of how they have lived. Keep in mind that this is being delivered to those taken captive into Babylon. Human nature being what it is, one can only imagine the people bemoaning their state and blaming their adverse circumstances on everything and everyone but the sins that landed them there in the first place. This isn’t to imply in any way that the cruelty of captivity is deserved, but it is more easy to focus on the wrongs of others rather than one’s own fault in any given matter. However, in this Haftarah, HaShem calls His people to do just that. The beautiful hope is twofold. First, when the people acquiesce and confess their faults, He would answer in His great Kindness and Love, giving the hope for the future He promised them in Jeremiah 29:11. Second, Yisrael apparently obeys HaShem’s Voice, because the coming Temple in all its glory and beauty are revealed in the subsequent chapters of Ezekiel. In his Steps to Freedom in Messiah (2005), Neil T. Anderson explains how to truly confess sin. He states that confession of sin isn’t simply saying, "I’m sorry," but rather, "I did it." Scripture is replete with these kinds of confession. (See, for instance, Daniel 9:4-19.) This is important because all too often, we’re more apt to be sorry we got caught in a sin rather than being sorry we sinned in the first place. It is difficult, and can be downright excruciating at times, to let HaShem take us to that place of facing our faults and feeling the accompanying shame for our wrong deeds. If we remember, though, that His purpose is not to make us feel forever condemned, but to remove all barriers preventing close communion with Him, this process no longer seems so intimidating and fearful. This Haftarah teaches us that when we let Him shine His Light in those dark places of the soul, He will bring about more revelation of Himself and how to walk more closely with Him. As it is written: "Also you have forgotten the counsel which speaks with you as sons: "My son, don't despise the discipline of [ADONAI] or become despondent when he corrects you. For [ADONAI] disciplines those he loves and whips everyone he accepts as a son." Regard your endurance as discipline; God is dealing with you as sons. For what son goes undisciplined by his father?" (Hebrews 12:5-7) The more we give ourselves over to HaShem, the more He will reveal Himself to us.

Shalom uvracha,

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Teruma Exodus 25:1-27:19
Haftarah 1 Kings 5:26-6:13

Both the Torah and Haftarah passages delineate instructions and patterns for building the Mishkan and Temple respectively. These constructions have elements to protect the beauty hidden within, yet they both offer glimpses of that beauty to the outside world. The Haftarah contains a detail about the Temple which teaches us a very important concept. 1 Kings 6:5-6 records: "Against the wall of the house he [Shlomo] built an annex all the way around; it went all the way around the walls of the house, including both the temple and the sanctuary. The lowest floor of the annex was eight-and-three-quarters feet wide, the middle floor ten-and-a-half feet wide and the third floor twelve-and-a-quarter feet wide; for he had made the outer part of the wall of the house step-shaped, so that the beams of the annex would not have to be attached to the house walls." In other words, Shlomo fortifies the Temple proper. This act of ingenuity causes problems later as the people of Yisrael begin to trust in the Temple more than He Who has put His Name there, and they begin to believe that HaShem would value His house over the faithfulness of His people (see Jeremiah 7:1-15). However, Shlomo’s fortification of the Temple serves the crucial purpose of safeguarding the sacred treasure within. This treasure includes both the gold and silver of the holy accoutrements for divine service, and the Word of G-d housed in the Aron HaKodesh (holy Ark). Bearing this in mind, we can learn a valuable lesson for today from the construction of the ancient Temple.
When speaking of keeping the commandments of HaShem, we often refer to the Hebrew root word "shamar." this word means both "to keep" and "to guard." Since we are the temple of the Ruach HaKodesh, we have been entrusted with the treasures of HaShem’s Word and His Presence. Are we keeping His commandments, hiding them in our hearts so we don’t sin against Him (Psalm 119:11)? Do we safeguard His Word from contamination and violation (Deuteronomy 12:32; Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:1-9)? Exodus 19:5-6 says that we are HaShem’s treasure. Do we in turn treasure Him (Psalm 37:4)? As it is written: "For it is the God who once said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has made his light shine in our hearts, the light of the knowledge of God's glory shining in the face of the Messiah Yeshua. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it will be evident that such overwhelming power comes from God and not from us." (2 Corinthians 4:6-7) As reflections of the Temple, let us safeguard the sacred treasure housed within us.

Shalom uvracha,
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Mishpatim Exodus 21:1-24:18
Haftarah Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26

This week’s Haftarah decries Yisrael’s breaking of two covenants concerning freeing Hebrew slaves that had served their six-year terms. First, they violate Torah’s explicit instructions as found in Exodus 21:2, and second, they deliberately break the covenant they voluntarily made with HaShem as found in this week’s Haftarah. Keeping in mind that the Yisraelim making this covenant in Jeremiah 34 are acutely aware of what they are doing when they walk through the blood of the calf (see 34:19), HaShem’s response of vengeance is completely within His right. When parties entering into a covenant pass between the two halves of an animal, they are pledging, "May what was done to this animal be done to us if we ever break this covenant."

Thankfully, the Haftarah doesn’t end on such a fearsome note. Jeremiah 33:25-26 proclaims: "Here is what [ADONAI] says: 'If I have not established my covenant with day and night and fixed the laws for sky and earth, then I will also reject the descendants of Ya'akov and of my servant David, not choosing from his descendants people to rule over the descendants of Avraham, Yis'chak and Ya'akov. For I will cause their captives to come back, and I will show them compassion.'" HaShem’s people may break their covenants, but He will never break His. It’s a good thing, too, because Yisrael’s existence and our salvation depend on it. As this Haftarah illustrates, entering into a covenant is an extremely serious matter and should never be taken lightly. It is more binding than any other agreement or contract. When we accept Messiah Yeshua as L-rd, Savior, and Redeemer, we are entering into covenant with Him, pledging ourselves to Him for all eternity. If we "backslide" or depart from Him, we open ourselves to the consequences of breaking that covenant. Our L-rd takes this relationship very seriously, and so should we.
As it is written: "Someone who disregards the [Torah] of Moshe is put to death without mercy on the word of two or three witnesses. Think how much worse will be the punishment deserved by someone who has trampled underfoot the Son of G-d; who has treated as something common the blood of the covenant which made him holy; and who has insulted the Spirit, giver of God's grace!" (Hebrews 10:28-29) Let us forever keep faith with Him Who is Faithful and True.

Shalom uvracha,


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