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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 September 2011

51-52 Nitzavim/Vayelech: "You (pl.) Stand"/ "And He Walked" Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30 This week's Torah portion continues the theme of the consequences of sin.Warning that even secret sins will ultimately be revealed and dealt with, this passage leaves no wiggle room. However, in the midst of the promised chastisement for disobedience and unfaithfulness, there is the hope of restoration.
D'varim 30:1-10 states clearly that if the Yisraelim repent, even while they are dispersed throughout the nations, HaShem will be quick to hear them and will regather them back to the land He has promised them. Furthermore, He promises He will circumcise their hearts, enabling them and their children to love and fear Him all their days (D'varim 30:6). Though it is prophetic in nature, this portion does something even more. It establishes a pattern that is crucial for us to recognize if we are to truly hear our Abba's voice. Scripture is replete with HaShem's warnings of chastisement for disobedience, but in the midst of chastisement, He promises restoration. Why is this important? All too often, we as believers struggle with thoughts of condemnation, and we listen to those thoughts, thinking this is the voice of the Ruach HaKodesh. However, if we study how HaShem speaks to His people, we see a pattern emerge. When dealing with sin, the specific sin is brought to light followed by the consequences of what will happen if we don't repent. This is then followed by the words of hope and restoration if we do repent. Whereas the Enemy of our souls condemns by using vagaries, the Ruach HaKodesh tells us very specifically what we've done wrong and how to make it right. Our L-rd Yeshua uses this same pattern in Revelation 2-3. During this season of repentance, when spiritual warfare seems to intensify, let us be most diligent to distinguish between the voice of our Shepherd and that of the Enemy who accuses us day and night (Revelation 12:10). If we listen for our Shepherd's voice, we won't go astray to the right hand or to the left. Rather, we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free (John 8:32). As it is written: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:27-28 AV) "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Messiah Yeshua, who don't walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:1 HNV)

Shalom uvracha,


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This week's Torah portion, especially D'varim 28, is very difficult to read. Detailing what would befall the Yisraelim for breaking the covenant they had entered into with HaShem, it paints a vivid picture of horror, making even the stoutest heart tremble. Too many gloss over this passage, smugly thinking it only applies to the Jewish people, but since we as believers in Mashiach Yeshua are grafted into Yisrael, we must take heed to what this Torah portion is teaching us.
D'varim 28 is all about what will happen if we break HaShem's covenant and turn to other g-ds. Notice that this is directed to those in covenant with Him, not to the heathen or the pagans of the surrounding nations. To put this in modern language, D'varim 28 is directed to believers. During this month of Elul, this passage calls us to serious soul-searching and repentance.
In these United States, we are quick to lament the wicked coming into power and ungodly policies that become law, but do we stop to consider why these things happen? Do we consider that these things happen because we are not being salt and light as our L-rd taught us? No, we don't necessarily forsake HaShem for the traditional idols or bow down to statues, but we bend the knee to humanistic philosophies in so-called "science," education, and culture. Instead of trembling at the Word of HaShem (Isaiah 66:2), we tend to tremble before those holding college and even seminary degrees, not realizing that these same institutions seek to undermine or even destroy the faith of our young people. Though the bereavement and terror delineated in D'varim 28 are not befalling us physically, they are befalling us spiritually. What is the solution?
2 Chronicles 7:14 declares: "then, if my people, who bear my name, will humble themselves, pray, seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land." At the risk of belaboring a point, HaShem is speaking to us as believers, not to the ungodly. We need to repent of compromising the Word of G-d in hopes of somehow being accepted by the world when our L-rd Yeshua clearly says that the world will hate us because it hated Him first (John 15:18-20). Practically speaking, let us hold fast to the Scriptures, knowing that every single word in them is true from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. Let us also safeguard our young people by seeking godly institutions of education that will teach them true wisdom which begins with the fear of the L-RD (Proverbs 9:10). These institutions are a rare breed indeed, but they do exist. Finally, let us renew our minds in the Scriptures, making HaShem's priorities our own. As it is written: "In other words, do not let yourselves be conformed to the standards of the ‘olam hazeh. Instead, keep letting yourselves be transformed by the renewing of your minds; so that you will know what G-d wants and will agree that what he wants is good, satisfying and able to succeed." (Romans 12:2) "Let us examine and test our ways and return to ADONAI." (Lamentations 3:40)

Shalom uvracha (peace and blessing),
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Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19
This Torah portion focuses on respect for life. Dealing with both the treatment of people and animals, it calls us to a high standard of holiness in our everyday behavior. The latter half of this portion details how we should treat the poorest and neediest people in our community. D'varim 24:14-15 says: ""You are not to exploit a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether one of your brothers or a foreigner living in your land in your town. You are to pay him his wages the day he earns them, before sunset; for he is poor and looks forward to being paid. Otherwise he will cry out against you to ADONAI, and it will be your sin." This passage is preceded by how to treat one who is in debt with dignity. It is followed by how to provide food and work for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow in a way that lets them retain honor and dignity as well (D'varim 24:17-22). This particular passage has a special place in my heart.
Being the daughter of a carpenter who subsisted on small jobs, I can personally attest to the truth and principles found in D'varim 24:14-15. Though our society is structured different than that of the Yisraelim 3500 years ago, paying a laborer his wages in a timely manner is still applicable today. When we hire someone for a service, do we treat him/her as we would want to be treated? Do we treat them with dignity and have their wages on hand the day they finish whatever job or service we hired them to do? If we know of someone who is needy and we have the means to help, do we safeguard their honor by offering them some kind of work and a comparable wage for that work? As the old adage says, "If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime." This is the kind of love, concern, and caring for the poor that Torah advocates. As it is written: "Don't withhold good from someone entitled to it when you have in hand the power to do it. Don't tell your neighbor, "Go away! Come another time; I'll give it to you tomorrow," when you have it now." (Proverbs 3:27-28) True compassion is taking decisive action to relieve another's hardship. Let us show this kind of compassion to those around us even as our Heavenly Abba has shown compassion toward us.

Shalom uvracha,

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Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9
This week's portion is summarized by the word "justice." Containing how judges should be respected and treated, the credentials a king must have, who should resort to the cities of refuge and why, and the rules for engaging in battle, it shows us that justice isn't only the concern of the courts. It is a principle governing the everyday life of the people of G-d. In light of this, what does justice look like?
Scripturally, justice is both judging and merciful. It is both punishing and preventing punishment. It is judging, for instance, in D'varim 17:9-13, where the Yisraelim are instructed to obey to the letter any decision rendered by the judge or priest in a given situation. To depart to the right hand or to the left would incur a death sentence. Mercy is shown in letting one who has accidentally slain a person flee to a city of refuge (Deuteronomy 19:4-8). It is punitive in dealing with idolaters (Deuteronomy 17:2-7), and preventative of punishment in providing a way to make atonement for a murder when the murderer is not known and thus can't be brought to justice (Deuteronomy 21:1-9). These qualities of justice have direct bearing on how we conduct ourselves and how we view the issues of our day.
A Jewish friend once told me that Islam practices severe justice, and Christianity practices severe mercy. Judaism, on the other hand, practices both justice and mercy. This amalgamation of justice and mercy is seen in Shoftim. When grappling with issues such as the death penalty, immigration issues and the like, it is incumbent upon each one of us to employ both justice and mercy in forming our conclusions. We are called to a life of equity even in our opinions. As it is written: "Don't you know that God's people are going to judge the universe? If you are going to judge the universe, are you incompetent to judge these minor matters? Don't you know that we will judge angels, not to mention affairs of everyday life?"
(1 Corinthians 6:2-3) Knowing how to think and act justly in this life is a rehearsal for the world to come.

Shalom uvracha,

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