Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, November 9, 2019
Shabbat Shalom *|FNAME|*,
Every day, when I begin to write, I sit in front of a blank computer screen and begin to pray. “Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, what would you have me to write today? What message to you have to share through me for Your people?” Then I wait; usually not very long.
Generally, something comes to me quickly, like it did today. On those rare occasions when I don’t get anything right away, I continue in prayer or read the Bible or some other spiritual literature until I get my writing orders for the day. Sometimes I get a question to which I don’t know the answer. Then I search for an answer and write about that.
Today is the 864th time I’ve published an RR by that name since June 27, 2017. (I did not count the days, I used a special online date caculator.) It is the best spiritual discipline I’ve ever had in my life. I hereby urge everyone to journal every day. Get a Bible reading plan. It doesn’t matter which one, there are no bad ones. Read every day and write something (even bullet points) on what you read. Questions that are unanswered. Questions that were answered. Write your thoughts, impressions, feelings, or just talk to God in writing. Like Mikey and a bowl of cereal, “Try it, you’ll like it.”
Rabbi Trail: From 1972 to 1986 Mikey and his two brothers promoted Life cereal. It was one of the longest running television commercials in history. So if you were born after 1984 (give or take) you probably don’t know what I’m talking about or why in the world I mentioned “Try it, you’ll like it.” If you were born after 2015 or into a homeschooling family, you might be asking “What’s television?” End RT.
One last thought before I write something on this week’s Torah portion. I was talking yesterday with one of my rabbis (and my first rabbi), Dave Chansky. I asked him about this verse. Matthew 11:12 From the days of John the Immerser until now, the kingdom of heaven is treated with violence, and the violent grasp hold of it.
The English wording here is difficult. The words were originally spoken by Yeshua. I’m quoting the Tree of Life Version, the TLV (as usual), but the translators didn’t do us any favors here. Dave explained that what is called “violence” is conflict between Yeshua and Satan.
Satan tried to get Yeshua to sin. When that failed (because Yeshua went to the cross as the blameless Lamb of God) Satan turned his attention to enticing the people of God to sin. That resistance is also called “violence.”
Jacob 4:7 Therefore submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you.
I want to comment briefly on the Torah portion for today (Genesis 12:1-17:27). God makes a covenant with Abraham that is the basis for all future covenants. So, let me ask you, the Abrahamic covenant, is it a covenant of grace or a covenant of law? The answer comes when we study what Abraham did to earn the covenant.
Genesis 15:6 Then he (Abraham) believed in Adonai and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.
Yes, Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place he was to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going.
But wait a minute rabbi. Abraham had to make sacrifices. Genesis 15:9 Then He (God) said to him (Abraham), “Bring Me a three year old young cow, a three year old she-goat, a three year old ram, a turtle-dove and a young bird.” 10 So he brought all these to Him and cut them in half, and put each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds.
What happens next is critical. Abraham resisted the birds of prey who wanted to steal the sacrifices. This is symbolic of our resistance to Satan who wants to steal our covenant relationship with God. Then Abraham sealed the covenant, right? No! Abraham slept while God sealed the covenant (proving it is a covenant of grace).
Genesis 15:12a When the sun was about to set and a deep sleep fell on Abram,… 17 When the sun set and it became dark, behold, there was a smoking oven and a fiery torch that passed between these pieces. 18a On that day Adonai cut a covenant with Abram.
And that Abrahamic covenant was a covenant of grace, and so is the fulfillment of that covenant in Messiah Yeshua. Thank you, Lord, for grace. You have loved us perfectly. Grant us, oh God, the courage to receive your gracious gift of salvation through Yeshua HaMashiach, in Whose name we pray. Amen.