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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 June 2014


Chukat Numbers 19:1-22:1
Psalm 95

Most of the Psalms end in a note of praise. Others end with sadness and perplexity. It is rare for a Psalm to end in a dire warning, but Psalm 95 is one of these exceptions. Though it contains some of the most beautiful praise and worship language, inspiring countless songs the world over, it nevertheless pleads with us not to repeat the tragic history found in this week’s Torah portion.

Psalm 95:8-9 admonishes: ""Don't harden your hearts, as you did at M'rivah, as you did on that day at Massah in the desert, when your fathers put me to the test; they challenged me, even though they saw my work."" This Psalm goes on further to conclude with HaShem’s oath that those people who chose to remain in unbelief would not enter into His rest. Keep in mind that the Yisraelim experiencing the consequences of the rebellion alluded to have already been redeemed from Egypt. As such, it would not be wise to relegate this to applying solely to outright unbelievers. It applies to us as believers, too.

To reiterate, if we look at verses 1-7 of Psalm 95, we see that the psalmist is speaking to the people of HaShem. Because of this, we need to take the entire Psalm to heart, not just the parts that we’re comfortable with or that make us feel good. At first blush, then, this passage might contain some scary ramifications concerning our standing with HaShem, but if we consider it in the context of the whole counsel of G-d, we will find the proper perspective through which to view these verses.

From the above-quoted verses in Psalm 95, we might wonder if salvation is somehow conditional. It is clear, however, that the process of salvation was not initiated by us (Ephesians 2:8-9), and we won’t be the ones to bring it to its ultimate goal of sanctification (Philippians 1:6). In light of this, what is the psalmist really saying? He is reminding us that rights and privileges come with responsibilities.

We are saved by grace through faith, as Ephesians 2:8-9 unequivocally states. However, verse 10 of this same passage tells us that HaShem has prepared good works for us to do. One of these good works is to make sure that our hearts are tender toward Him and sensitive to hear His Voice. Contrary to popular belief, stubbornness is not simply a personality trait. 1 Samuel 15:23 says that rebellion is like the sin of sorcery, and stubbornness is like the crime of idolatry. As we work out our own salvation in our daily walk with HaShem (Philippians 2:13-14), let us be quick to obey His Ruach as He gives us the empowerment and ability. As it is written: "Watch out, brothers, so that there will not be in any one of you an evil heart lacking trust, which could lead you to apostatize from the living G-d! Instead, keep exhorting each other every day, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you will become hardened by the deceit of sin." (Hebrews 3:12-13) There’s no time like the present to be obedient.

Shalom uvracha

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Korach Numbers 16:1-18:32
Psalm 5

Between last week’s Torah portion and this week’s, things go from bad to worse in a hurry. With all the rebellion, chastisement, and death, we could really use some joy in the mix. Psalm 5 presents such relief in the end. The conclusion of this Psalm gives us a glimpse of the hope experienced by Moshe and Aharon, despite the turbulent testing of their patience and trust.

Psalm 5:12-13 declares: "But let all who take refuge in you rejoice, let them forever shout for joy! Shelter them; and they will be glad, those who love your name. For you, [ADONAI], bless the righteous; you surround them with favor like a shield." This passage contains a couple of interesting Hebrew words. The word for "shelter," or "tasech" has the idea of covering, as a lid covers a jar. The word for "shield," "tzinah," HaShem’s favor with which He protects the righteous, is more than the typical flat-surfaced shield used for defense. This kind of shield is like a prickly, thorny hedge that keeps the enemy at a distance, and if the enemy tries to break through, severe pain or worse will result. We only need look at this week’s Torah portion to see examples of how HaShem protects His own in this way. The truth presented here can be a source of deep consolation for us as believers.

It is crystal clear from Korach that HaShem unequivocally protects His chosen leaders, and this applies within the Messianic community, too. Most of us, however, don’t find ourselves in a leadership position akin to Moshe and Aharon. HaShem nevertheless cares very deeply about what happens to us, and He takes very personally any wrongs committed against those who trust in Him. Consider, for instance, Acts 9:4, where our L-rd Yeshua asks Sha’ul, "Why do you keep persecuting Me?" (CJB) Notice that our L-rd doesn’t ask, "Why do you keep persecuting My talmidim," but "Why do you keep persecuting Me?" We can rest assured that HaShem shelters and protects us as zealously as He did Moshe and Aharon. As it is written: "For [ADONAI] keeps his eyes on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayers; but the face of [ADONAI] is against those who do evil things." (1 Peter 3:12; Psalm 34:17-19, 16) Like Moshe and Aharon, let us trust our Mighty Defender Who is our Savior and Sustainer, our Shelter and our Shield.

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Sh’lach L’kha Numbers 13:1-15:41
Psalm 64

Psalm 64 highlights just how harmful harsh words can be. Accompanying this week’s Torah portion, it presents a behind-the-scenes look at the ten spies dissuading the people of Yisrael from going into the land HaShem had promised them. What it reveals is disconcerting.

Psalm 64:4-6 states: "They sharpen their tongues like a sword; they aim their arrows, poisoned words, in order to shoot from cover at the innocent, shooting suddenly and fearing nothing. They support each other's evil plans; they talk of hiding snares and ask, "Who would see them?"" From this, we may safely deduce that the spies’ evil report might have had its roots in fear, but the fruit is deliberate conspiracy against the two faithful spies, Caleb and Joshua, and ultimately, against HaShem Himself. Though we don’t know the words spoken against Caleb and Joshua, we do know that the people are turned against them to such a degree that they want Joshua and Caleb dead (Numbers 14:6-10). Combining this week’s Torah portion and Psalm 64 together, we begin to see that words can be just as much a weapon of war as the sword.

We are familiar with the thought in charismatic circles that what we say affects our attitude, and even our circumstances. This is true to a degree, as we have the tendency to do what we believe. However, what doesn’t seem to be addressed enough is what we say about each other. How we speak of our brothers and sisters can either bring life or death. Like what the ten spies exemplify, our words can change history either for the good or for the ill. Scripture is replete with admonitions and even warnings about how we used this powerful thing called speech.

The book of Proverbs alone is overflowing with the consequences of what we choose to speak. Why are there so many instructions on our talk? It is because the tongue is the hardest thing to submit to HaShem for Him to control. Let us carefully weigh our words before we speak. As it is written: "Yes, the tongue is a fire, a world of wickedness. The tongue is so placed in our body that it defiles every part of it, setting ablaze the whole of our life; and it is set on fire by Gei-Hinnom itself. For people have tamed and continue to tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures; but the tongue no one can tame- it is an unstable and evil thing, full of death-dealing poison! With it we bless [ADONAI], the Father; and with it we curse people, who were made in the image of G-d. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing! Brothers, it isn't right for things to be this way." (James 3:6-10) If we wish to speak Messiah Yeshua’s Life into a dying world, we must surrender our speech to Him.

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B’ha-alotecha Numbers 8:1-12:16
Psalm 68

Composed by king David, Psalm 68 seems to be one of the most difficult to understand precisely because it is Hebrew poetry, and most of us are English readers. That being said, it is still striking in its imagery. Taking its theme from Numbers 10:35-36, this Psalm paints a panoramic picture of HaShem leading His people in majesty and might. Two particular verses in this poem stand out in their intriguing implications.

Psalm 68:12-13 says: "[Adonai] gives the command; the women with the good news are a mighty army. Kings and their armies are fleeing, fleeing, while the women at home divide the spoil." A more literal rendering of the Hebrew might be something like: "The Master will give the word [or speech]; the lady proclaimers are a great host. Kings of armies are fleeing, fleeing, and she who is the adornment and beauty of the home will divide the spoil." Why would king David mention women in the context of war? After all, women were not generally part of any military until very recently in human history. Perhaps a couple considerations will shed light on this subject.

When the camp of the Yisraelim is organized in Numbers 1-2, the men of military age are counted, but it is assumed that their families travel in the same order as they do. There is no separate area for the women and children. Though this seems like an unimportant detail, it speaks volumes when we view this in the context of spiritual warfare.

As believers, whether men or women, each and every one of us is a part of HaShem’s army. With this in mind, it is important to address a faulty premise affecting our thinking. When contemplating the roles of men and women, we tend to believe that equality is sameness. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Difference does not imply superiority or inferiority. It simply means "different." As with any good military, HaShem’s great host has varying ranks and branches, but each and every individual, man or woman, is of equal value and importance. Whether on the front lines (i.e. a proclaimer), or in the MASH unit (i.e. exhibiting the beauty of saving lives, consolation, and healing), let us resolve to work together as HaShem’s mighty military. As it is written: "For just as there are many parts that compose one body, but the parts don't all have the same function; so there are many of us, and in union with the Messiah we comprise one body, with each of us belonging to the others. But we have gifts that differ and which are meant to be used according to the grace that has been given to us. If your gift is prophecy, use it to the extent of your trust; if it is serving, use it to serve; if you are a teacher, use your gift in teaching; if you are a counselor, use your gift to comfort and exhort; if you are someone who gives, do it simply and generously; if you are in a position of leadership, lead with diligence and zeal; if you are one who does acts of mercy, do them cheerfully." Let us be tenaciously unified, serving HaShem together as though everything depends on us.

Shalom uvracha,

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