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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.
www.messianicjewish.net.
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 August 2013

27

Nitzavim-Vayelech Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30
Haftarah Isaiah 61:10-63:9

This final Haftarah of the Shevah D’nachamta concludes with the Go’el, the Redeemer, returning to bring justice to His people and to exact vengeance upon those unrepentant ones who have wronged them. While it prophesies the future, it also tells us what we need to do for the present. Until Messiah Yeshua returns, we have a task to accomplish.

Isaiah 62:1 and verses 6-7 proclaim: "For Tziyon's sake I will not be silent, for Yerushalayim's sake I will not rest, until her vindication [Hebrew "righteousness"] shines out brightly and her salvation like a blazing torch. … I have posted watchmen on your walls, Yerushalayim; they will never fall silent, neither by day nor by night. You who call on [ADONAI], give yourselves no rest; and give him no rest till he restores Yerushalayim and makes it a praise on earth."

The Hebrew of these verses carries the idea of incessantly petitioning HaShem for the salvation of Yerushalayim and not giving up until He answers in the affirmative. It mirrors the persistence in prayer our L-rd Yeshua taught us in Luke 18:1-8. How are we doing in our persistent petitioning for Yisrael?

Yours truly must confess that she is not as fervent in this practice as the Haftarah implores, but I would daresay most of us could use some improvement in this area. How would we beseech the Holy One for our Jewish brothers and sisters if we viewed them as blood relatives? Indeed, we are bound to them by the Blood of Messiah Yeshua, and we are spiritual kindred, too. I realize that some of us who are not Jewish may not be acquainted with anyone who is, making this task seem less personal and more challenging. However, if we ask the Holy One to bless us with a Jewish friend or two, He is faithful and will answer our request. Let us be as faithful and earnest in praying for the salvation and restoration of our spiritual loved ones as we are for our physical loved ones.

As it is written: "my grief is so great, the pain in my heart so constant, that I could wish myself actually under G-d's curse and separated from the Messiah, if it would help my brothers, my own flesh and blood, the people of Isra'el! They were made God's children, the [Sh'khinah] has been with them, the covenants are theirs, likewise the giving of the [Torah], the Temple service and the promises; the Patriarchs are theirs; and from them, as far as his physical descent is concerned, came the Messiah, who is over all. Praised be [ADONAI] for ever! [Amen]." (Romans 9:2-5)

Until Messiah Yeshua returns, let us diligently and tenaciously stand in the gap for Yisrael.

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22

Ki Tavo Deuteronomy 26:1-29:8
Haftarah Isaiah 60:1-22

(Note: In this missive, I have used the more modern name of Israel instead of Yisrael for clarity.)

This Haftarah is perhaps the most comforting of the Shevah D’nachamta, containing no negative words. Our generation has been blessed to see the first budding of these prophecies coming to pass, but we haven’t seen anything yet.

Isaiah 60:8-9 says: “Who are these, flying along like clouds, like doves to their dovecotes? The coastlands are putting their hope in me, with the 'Tarshish' ships in the lead, to bring your children from far away, and with them their silver and gold, for the sake of [ADONAI] your G-d, the Holy One of Isra'el, who glorifies you.” In order to gain perspective on how incredible these promises are in this Haftarah, we need to look back at some Jewish history.

I recently read The Last Escape: The Launching of the Largest Rescue Movement of All Time, by Ruth Eliav and Peggy Mann. In it, the authors document how the Israeli Mossad tried desperately to get Jewish people out of Europe and into what was then Palestine before Hitler and everyone allied with him murdered them. According to the laws in Germany, and later, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, and a host of other countries, the Jewish people were “encouraged” to leave. However, in the process of their acquiring papers, getting passports (if the governments of these countries decided to issue them), and being forced to pay bribes, they were robbed of everything they owned. If that wasn’t enough, they had to pay even more fees before being deported, despite their having literally nothing left but the clothes on their backs. When those fortunate enough to become illegal immigrants to Palestine got onto the ships for which the Mossad begged, pleaded, and paid exorbitant sums of money, they endured crowded, squalid living conditions. Often, the ships weren’t seaworthy, but they were all the Mossad had available to try to save lives. Some of the ships managed to sneak their precious cargo under the proverbial radar of British patrol ships, but others were either sent back out to sea and never heard from again, or they never made it to that Promised Land shore because they sank off the coasts of countries refusing to give them refuge. This was one tiny pinpoint of modern history. We haven’t even begun to discuss the Babylonian and Assyrian captivities, Haman’s plot to annihilate the Jewish people, the madness of Antiochus IV, the Roman occupation, the Inquisition, the Holocaust, the myriad forced “conversions,” pogroms, expulsions, and countless other atrocities endured by the Jewish people simply for being Jewish. Why do I belabor this little history lesson?

I am often disturbed to find that most of us aren’t aware of the history into which we as believers have been grafted. We are aware enough of future prophecies, but in order to fathom their depth and beauty, we must know the past, uncomfortable and painful as it is. Now that we’ve gained some historical perspective, let’s take a look at what the future holds as revealed by       G-d’s Word.

According to what is written in this week’s passage from Isaiah, the day will come when the Jewish people will return to their homeland, not in squalor, fear, poverty, and distress, but in safety, security, and with wealth and honor. All the nations that refused to show them kindness before will now lavish them with love and loyalty (Isaiah 60:4-7). In fact, according to this passage, any nation that doesn’t serve Israel will perish (verse 12). Yes, we are looking forward to the day when the Israeli empire will rise to eternal supremacy. The nation despised will be exalted to her rightful place, and she will be comforted to her very soul from everything she has had to endure for the past 3500 years. As it is written: “The city [Jerusalem] has no need for the sun or the moon to shine on it, because G-d's [Sh'khinah] gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. Its gates will never close, they stay open all day because night will not exist there, and the honor and splendor of the nations will be brought into it.” (Revelation 21:23-26, Isaiah 60:19-20) If we familiarize ourselves with our past, we will truly appreciate our future.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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14

Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19
Haftarah Isaiah 54:1-10

Though the Shevah D’nachamta Haftarot aren’t necessarily known for having direct parallels with their accompanying Torah portions, Isaiah 54:1-10 bears a striking connection with Deuteronomy 25:5-6, which portrays a very important responsibility of the kinsman redeemer. For the most part, the Torah portions present the redeemer (go'el in Hebrew) as one who purchases freedom for enslaved relatives (Leviticus 25:48), who keeps family inheritance intact (Leviticus 25:23-29), and who pursues justice when a family member is murdered (Numbers 35)12, 19). However, this week's Haftarah, along with the afore-mentioned passage in Deuteronomy, highlights one of the most ancient duties of the redeemer.

Isaiah 54:4-5 says: "Don't be afraid, for you won't be ashamed; don't be discouraged, for you won't be disgraced. You will forget the shame of your youth, no longer remember the dishonor of being widowed. For your husband is your Maker, [ADONAI]-[Tzva'ot] is his name. The Holy One of Isra'el is your Redeemer. He will be called the God of all the earth." (Italics my addition.) According to Deuteronomy 25:5-6, and practiced in Genesis 38:7-10, if a married man dies without having children, his brother or his next of kin is to take the deceased man's widow and marry her so that the name of the deceased is not erased from among the people of Yisrael. As we know, the book of Ruth beautifully illustrates this process. (For a more thorough discussion of this concept, please visit Rabbi Jonathan Cahn's web site, www.hopeoftheworld.org and listen to his message entitled "The Goel Redemption.")

In the above-quoted passage of Isaiah, HaShem promises to be the Go'el, the Redeemer for His people. The barren woman of verse 1, who is compared to being a widow in verse 4 is the same one who will have so many children she will have to enlarge her tent in verses 2-3, and her seed will inherit the nations. What does this practice dating back to antiquity have to do with us today?

When we say that Messiah Yeshua is our Redeemer, we are declaring far more than we realize. We are familiar with the promise that He has paid our sin debt and purchased our freedom. We might even be aware that He protects us and seeks justice for us when we've been wronged. However, the Redeemer or Go'el isn't there only to intervene when absolutely necessary. He brings life into what would otherwise die. We were very much like the barren woman of Isaiah 54:1, dead in our iniquities and transgressions. However, not only has our Redeemer given us life, but He also causes us to be fruitful. Though this reality begins at the time of our salvation, it extends to every area of our lives.

How many of us sometimes feel like our life is fruitless and unproductive for the Kingdom of G-d? Perhaps we're struggling with relationships on the verge of dying. Maybe we're desperately clinging to the tear-stained shards of shattered hopes and dead dreams. Our Redeemer, our go'el, longs to infuse into us His very life. In order for this to happen, though, we must stop trying to revive these things in our own strength, since we have no life in and of ourselves, and completely surrender to Him. Not only will our L-rd Yeshua fill us anew with His Life, but He will cause us to be fruitful beyond our imagining. As it is written: "Stay united with me, as I will with you- for just as the branch can't put forth fruit by itself apart from the vine, so you can't bear fruit apart from me. I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who stay united with me, and I with them, are the ones who bear much fruit; because apart from me you can't do a thing." (John 15:4-5) Our L-rd Yeshua is the Redeemer of our past, our present, our future, and our eternity.

Shalom uvracha
Hadassah

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08

Shoftim Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9
Haftarah Isaiah 51:12-52:12

As we explore number four in the Shevah D’nachamta Haftarot, we come across a striking reality. HaShem explicitly declares that He is Yisrael’s Comforter (Isaiah 51:12), yet Yisrael is still afraid. Why? The Haftarah answers this question by bringing to light one of the most insidious tools the adversary uses to rob us of comfort.

Isaiah 51:12-13 states: "I, yes I, am the one who comforts you! Why are you afraid of a man, who must die; of a human being, who will wither like grass? You have forgotten [ADONAI], your maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth. Instead, you are in constant fear all day because of the oppressor's rage, as he prepares to destroy! But where is the oppressor's rage?" The robber of comfort is fear, and as this passage vividly illustrates, fear messes with our minds in a way few other emotions do. It makes HaShem look small, Heaven forbid, and our problems look monstrously big. If that isn’t enough, it exaggerates the consequences of the dilemma causing fear in the first place. It comes under the guise of "What if …?" and when confronted with the truth of Scripture, it whispers, "Yes, but …," introducing doubt. Worse yet, verse 13 of Isaiah 51 tells us without ambiguity the root cause of fear; namely, we have forgotten HaShem. Thankfully, however, along with presenting this problem, the Haftarah gives us the solution.

The commands not to fear, not to be afraid, and not to be dismayed occur 93 times in Scripture. We may deduce from the frequency of this admonition that HaShem knows acutely our tendency to be fearful creatures. The solution to fear is to remember HaShem. As we’ve studied before, to remember is to take action based on a memory. This could take on the form of confessing our fear, and then recounting either in prayer or to a trusted brother or sister how He has delivered us in the past. It is also crucial that we make a conscious decision not to listen to the voice of the enemy guised under fear. Rather, we must choose to listen to the Voice of the Ruach HaKodesh as found in His Word. When we take these actions, we bring to light what the adversary wants to keep hidden in the dark, and we will see HaShem for Who He truly is: our Mighty Deliverer and Redeemer. As it is written: "Say to the fainthearted, "Be strong and unafraid! Here is your G-d; he will come with vengeance; with G-d's retribution he will come and save you."" (Isaiah 35:4) Let us find strength and take courage in HaShem, Who is our Refuge (Psalm 46:12).

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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01

Re’eh Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17
Haftarah Isaiah 54:11-55:5

This third haftarah of comfort contains specific promises of restoration for Jerusalem, as well as Messianic hope. As with all the haftarot of comfort, Messiah’s work and nature are revealed because He is the only and all-sufficient true source of comfort. Isaiah 55:1-5 is an invitation to come and eat of the Bread of Life, and partake of the Living Water free of charge. The Haftarah ends with a verse that is both a comfort and a challenge for those of us believers who are not Jewish.

Isaiah 55:5 says: "You will summon a nation you do not know, and a nation that doesn't know you will run to you, for the sake of [ADONAI] your God, the Holy One of Isra'el, who will glorify you." This prophecy is given specifically to Jerusalem, the 3000-year-old capital of Israel. Who is this nation running to Jerusalem? It is the remnant HaShem has chosen from all nations to become part of His people. The non-Jewish people coming into the Kingdom of G-d is not some plan B, as prevailing thought tends to imply. Notice, though, that we run to Jerusalem. She does not run to us. If the church fathers had read this passage and taken it to heart, far fewer atrocities would have been committed in the name of Christianity. That being said, this passage infers questions we need to consider today.

Are we taking the time to become familiar with the people to whom Scripture says we will run? Yes, we confess love for Israel, and this is laudable, but Israel isn’t just "over there." How do we treat Israel’s children who are still in the diaspora? Do we take the time to get to know our Jewish brothers and sisters living in our own local communities? Have we taken the time to learn of their culture and customs? Have we bothered to learn what they believe and why they believe it? Do we actively seek their peace and blessing, even as we pray for the peace of Jerusalem as commanded by Psalm 122:6-9? If we take to heart the admonition: ""Comfort and keep comforting my people," says your G-d" (Isaiah 40:1), we will truly share the Good News of Redemption with our lives as well as with our words. As it is written: "For I am not ashamed of the Good News, since it is God's powerful means of bringing salvation to everyone who keeps on trusting, to the Jew especially, but equally to the Gentile." (Romans1:16) Let us love our Jewish brothers and sisters the way Messiah Yeshua loves them.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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