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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 2014

30

Shoftim Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9
Psalm 17

Given to us by king David, Psalm 17 is a cry for justice as he struggles with the reality that, sometimes, the wicked do prosper in this life (Psalm 17:13-14). Though they do wrong, they are blessed with children a plenty, and an inheritance sufficient for the little ones they leave behind. David, however, is wise enough to acknowledge that his hope reaches far beyond the bounds of this life.

Psalm 17:15 says: "But my prayer, in righteousness, is to see your face; on waking, may I be satisfied with a vision of you." The Hebrew of this verse might be rendered: "I in righteousness will behold [as in a prophetic vision] Your face; I will be satisfied and awaken in Your likeness." Interestingly, the word for "likeness" is the same word root used in Genesis 1 when things are created "after their kind." Perhaps this sheds light on the mysterious verses: "Dear friends, we are G-d's children now; and it has not yet been made clear what we will become. We do know that when he appears, we will be like him; because we will see him as he really is. And everyone who has this hope in him continues purifying himself, since G-d is pure." (1 John 3:2-3) That being said, king David also hints at an aspect concerning the resurrection of the dead.

Scripture has some fascinating things to say about the resurrection. Daniel 12:2-3, for instance, says: "Many of those sleeping in the dust of the earth will awaken, some to everlasting life and some to everlasting shame and abhorrence. But those who can discern will shine like the brightness of heaven's dome, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever." In other words, everyone will be resurrected. What they will be resurrected to, however, will depend on whether they are righteous or wicked. Our L-rd Yeshua further elaborates on this theme of the universality of the resurrection: "Don't be surprised at this; because the time is coming when all who are in the grave will hear his [the Son of man’s] voice and come out- those who have done good to a resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to a resurrection of judgment." Believe it or not, Scripture speaks of a third aspect of the resurrection that Psalm 17 seems to foreshadow.

In the famous Faith chapter (Hebrews 11), the author of the book of Hebrews documents those trusting in G-d, despite impossible odds, receiving children in their old age, freedom, and victory as a result. However, verses 35-38 of Hebrews 11 tells us that, by trusting, some accept poverty, persecution, torture, and even death, all for the promise of a "better resurrection (11:35)." What are we to make of all of this?

First, we may safely say that king David, along with all the believers from Adam to our L-rd Yeshua Himself, knew far more than what we give them credit for. As portrayed in Psalm 17:15, David sees beyond the present, confidently expressing his anticipation of seeing HaShem’s face, and somehow being like Him. Second, since all Scripture is written for our learning, the reality of the resurrection and the world to come is something we must never forget. In western society, we have swung the pendulum from solely focusing on Heaven to the detriment of this life to expecting all blessings and rewards in the here and now with no thought of the life hereafter. As believers, we are called both to watch and to pray, to have our feet firmly planted on the ground while scanning the sky, eagerly expecting Him Who will come in the clouds of heaven. This lifestyle will inevitably lead to loss and hardship for Messiah Yeshua’s sake for us as it did for king David. However, if we persevere with our gaze fixed toward our ultimate destiny, we will find that same hope and confidence as reflected in this week’s Psalm. As it is written: "So don't throw away that courage of yours, which carries with it such a great reward. For you need to hold out; so that, by having done what God wills, you may receive what he has promised. For "There is so, so little time! The One coming will indeed come, he will not delay." (Hebrews 10:35-37) What awaits us in the world to come far surpasses what we might forfeit in this life.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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19

Re’eh Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17
Psalm 97

Majestic in praise, Psalm 97 paints in vivid detail the magnificence of G-d’s Glory. When taken together with Psalms 96, 98, and 99, it seems to be a part of a medley, a symphony of highest worship. The Psalm ends with an interesting promise.

Psalm 97:11-12 says: "Light is sown for the righteous and joy for the upright in heart. Rejoice in [ADONAI], you righteous; and give thanks on recalling his holiness." Quite often, Scripture employs the analogy of sowing and reaping to address anything from how we hear and receive the Word of G-d (Matthew 13:3-12; Mark 4:24-25) to financial management (1 Corinthians 9:1-15) to how we conduct our lives and the choices we make (Galatians 6:7-8). It is fascinating, then, that the composer is using agricultural terms to speak of light and joy. What is even more exciting is that what is sown always yields a harvest far greater than what is planted. The question arises: Do we have any participation in cultivating what HaShem has already promised?

Like all well-maintained gardens, the light and joy we anticipate need to be free of proverbial weeds. Yes, we have work to do if we wish to receive the most plentiful harvest possible, but we are never alone in this endeavor. We have both the Ruach HaKodesh to lead, guide, and empower us, and we have His Word to give us practical instruction on how to cultivate this light and joy.

As we walk in the light, we begin to reflect it. 1 John 1:5-7 tells us: "And this is the message which we have heard from him and proclaim to you: G-d is light, and there is no darkness in him- none! If we claim to have fellowship with him while we are walking in the darkness, we are lying and not living out the truth. But if we are walking in the light, as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of his Son Yeshua purifies us from all sin." Notice that our willingness to walk in the light affects our fellowship with each other and with HaShem. John further emphasizes this when he states: "Anyone who claims to be in this light while hating his brother is still in the dark. The person who keeps loving his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him that could make him trip. But the person who hates his brother is in the dark- yes, he is walking in the dark, and he doesn't know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes." (1 John 2:9-11) We see, then, that walking in the light of the L-RD (Isaiah 2:5) is perhaps more challenging than we might realize, but the reward far outweighs any hardship.

According to the above-quoted passage from Psalm 97, joy is also in this lovely garden, and it, too, must be cultivated. Our L-rd Yeshua has graciously told us how to do this. John 15:10-11 says: "If you keep my commands, you will stay in my love- just as I have kept my Father's commands and stay in his love. I have said this to you so that my joy may be in you, and your joy be complete." 1 Peter 1:8 further explains: "Without having seen him, you love him. Without seeing him now, but trusting in him, you continue to be full of joy that is glorious beyond words." From this, we learn that joy is a gift from G-d, and is cultivated by focusing on our Messiah no matter what is going on around us, and keeping His mitzvot.

Psalm 97 tells us that HaShem has already sown the seed of His light and joy into us. What has been planted will bring forth a plentiful harvest. In the meantime, let us yield to the Ruach HaKodesh, and by His enabling, keep this beautiful garden of light and joy with which we’ve been entrusted free of anything that would choke it. If we do, we will have the distinct pleasure of reaping the harvest promised. As it is written: "So, my dear brothers, stand firm and immovable, always doing the L-rd's work as vigorously as you can, knowing that united with the L-rd your efforts are not in vain." (1 Corinthians 15:58) Let us nurture the seedlings of light and joy we’ve been given.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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12

Ekev Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25
Psalm 75

Discussed as part of Torah portion Ki Tissa, Psalm 75 maintains its aura of prophetic mystery no matter how many times it is read. It issues the sobering reminder that when Messiah Yeshua returns, taking His rightful place on David’s throne in Jerusalem, He will dispense true justice to the wicked and to the righteous. In the first missive of this Psalm, we discussed Messiah Yeshua’s perfect timing not only for His return, but also for His working in our lives. Verse 4 of Psalm 75 gives us another view of Messiah’s supremacy.

Psalm 75:4 proclaims: "When the earth quakes, with all living on it, it is I who hold its support-pillars firm." [(Selah)]" Remember that "Selah" is a musical term possibly combining a crescendo and dramatic pause all in one, bringing the listener’s attention to one very specific aspect of the Psalm. With this in mind, the composer, Asaf, highlights this cryptic verse. One might say that he has HaShem in mind when penning this bit of poetry, but HaShem is referred to in the third person for the entirety of this particular Psalm. Therefore, we must conclude that the One "taking the appointed time" (verse 3) is the One holding the very earth in its place. If we truly understand the implications of this verse, we will inevitably find it shocking. However, it is perplexing passages like this that strengthen our faith the most if we find the courage to take them at face value.

In a day when the deity of Messiah Yeshua is being questioned at every turn, it is crucial that we become very familiar with what the Scriptures tell us about the nature and work of Messiah. Psalm 75 tells us that He Who holds fast the pillars of the earth is also the One bringing true justice to the world at the appointed time. A myriad of other passages tell us that Messiah is Im-anu-el (literally "with us, G-d") (Isaiah 7:14), the Word, Creator, and Sustainer of all things, Who is with G-d and Who is G-d (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-3), the Angel of HaShem Who is worthy of worship (Exodus 23:20-23; Judges 13:20-23; Psalm 97:7; Hebrews 1:6), and the Son of man (Daniel 7:13-14). The man, Messiah Yeshua, is the mediator between G-d and man (2 Timothy 2:5). These are only a few of the titles and references to the Messiah, but they are very clear in their ramifications.

Messiah Yeshua is divine, and there is no getting around this truth. In fact, this is the very stumblingstone and rock of offense spoken of by the Scriptures (Psalm 118:22-23; Luke 20:17-18; 2 Peter 2:7-8). Many a person, whether Jewish or not, doesn’t mind so much if we claim that Yeshua is the Messiah, but when we of necessity claim His divinity as well, things can become dicey very quickly. Yet it is that combination of His divinity and His humanity that qualifies Him both to redeem and sanctify us. We can’t have one without the other. As we interact with those around us, let us never compromise Who Messiah Yeshua is in all His fullness, being cognizant that the Message of Redemption will of necessity upset and offend. The beauty is that it will also draw those upon whom the Father has His Hand (John 6:44; Acts 13:48). As it is written: "He is the visible image of the invisible G-d. He is supreme over all creation, because in connection with him were created all things- in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, lordships, rulers or authorities- they have all been created through him and for him. He existed before all things, and he holds everything together." (Colossians 1:15-17) Messiah Yeshua holds all of creation in His nail-pierced Hands.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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07

V’etchanan Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11
Psalm 90

A prayer of Moshe, Psalm 90 gives us a glimpse into the heart of a great leader who has seen unfathomable tragedy and felt the heaviness of G-d’s Hand upon him. Sobering in tone, it reminds us that being a leader or shepherd is an unenviable responsibility. In the midst of reflecting on the brevity of life and HaShem’s wrath against disobedience and rebellion, Moshe nevertheless offers us a glimmer of the hope he has found in the very One doing the disciplining.

Psalm 90:17 expresses the longing: "May the favor of [Adonai] our G-d be on us, prosper for us all the work that we do- yes, prosper the work that we do." The word translated as "favor" in this passage has the idea of pleasantness, beauty, loveliness, delight, kindness, or even sweetness. Why would Moshe conclude such a heavy passage with such a gentle term? Perhaps he is hinting at what Rav Sha’ul would later reveal.

Romans 2:4 tells us that HaShem’s kindness is what leads us to repentance. Psalm 90 seems to reflect the observation that if HaShem’s kindness is upon us, we will inevitably repent, and He can then establish and prosper the works of our hands. Before we shrug this off, let’s take a deeper look.

During seasons of repentance, whether initiated by the Ruach HaKodesh or by the calendar (i.e. the month of Elul, the Ten Days of Awe, Pesach, etc.), we as believers come face to face with the awful specter of sin. When we’re in the midst of introspection, we might become disappointed or even disgusted with ourselves because of the sin we see. Unfortunately, we might even go so far as to think that HaShem must be disappointed or disgusted with us, too. There’s good news. According to our above-mentioned passages, not only is He not disappointed with us, but His kindness is effusively displayed in the gift of repentance He bestows on us. In the Romans passage, the word for "kindness" in the Greek carries the connotation of taking hold of someone to lead them somewhere. It’s like being utterly lost in a crowd of strangers, when suddenly, a friendly face appears, and a kind voice says, "Come with me. I’ll take care of you." Such is HaShem’s sweet kindness toward us. Let us take heart, knowing that His discipline and kindness are both displays of the great Love He has for us. As it is written: "But not only that, let us also boast in our troubles; because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope; and this hope does not let us down, because G-d's love for us has already been poured out in our hearts through the [Ruach HaKodesh] who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5) If we accept HaShem’s discipline, we will also receive the comfort of His kindness.

Shalom uvracha,
Hadassah

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