Rabbi’s Reflections – Friday, March 27, 2020 

(Early) Shabbat Shalom,

Announcement about Shabbat morning, March 28, 2020:  In keeping with accepted standards to prevent the spread of COVID-19, please do not attend our worship service on March 28th.  Instead, please attend remotely by our Facebook broadcast at “Shomair Yisrael Knoxville.”  For the second week we will not have the 9:30am Bible Study.  We discourage your attendance at all public gatherings while we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19.  End of announcement.  

This is just in from the Knoxville Leadership Foundation…
Topic: Compassion Coalition Community Prayer
Time: Mar 27, 2020 09:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
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The RR from Thursday, March 12th, was about the mercy and severity of God.  It was based on a dream I had more than 30 years ago.  And here I am, writing on it again today.  What brings it up again is the reading for last Wednesday, March 25th, which includes warnings about allowing the people among whom you live to influence you… Joshua 23:6 “Be very resolute to keep and to do all that is written in the book of the Torah of Moses, so that you may not turn aside from it to the right or to the left, 7 and not intermingle with these nations who are still remaining among you. Do not mention the names of their gods or swear by them or worship them or bow down to them.”

Early on, just after the children of Israel crossed the Jordan and entered the promised land, God commands Joshua to kill every living thing in Jericho.  Joshua 6:21 They utterly destroyed everything in the city—man and woman, young and old, ox, sheep and donkey—with the edge of the sword.

That sounds severe, but God is always both fair and merciful.  Many times though, it just doesn’t look like it to us.  Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways.” It is a declaration of Adonai. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.  God then explains why this is true in the next 2 verses.  Isaiah 55:10 For as the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without having watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to sow and bread to eat, 11 so My word will be that goes out from My mouth. It will not return to Me in vain, but will accomplish what I intend, and will succeed in what I sent it for.

God’s purposes always involve the bringing forth and the exaltation of His Son, Yeshua.  It seems severe to kill babies, but God knew those babies would grow up and be a threat to His people, Israel, and thus a threat to the bringing forth of His Son, Yeshua.  No Yeshua, no future salvation.

Case in point… take Sodom and Gomorrah for instance.  We all know God destroyed those 2 cities, but it was not for being evil.  There are plenty of evil cities that God has not destroyed, nor does God destroy them.  Then, why did God suddenly destroy Sodom and Gomorrah?  Because they were a threat to Abraham.  No Abraham, no son of Abraham, neither Isaac nor Yeshua.  If Sodom and Gomorrah are not destroyed by God, their own future salvation would be in jeopardy.  The Lord is speaking to the inhabitants of Capernaum.  Matthew 11:24 “Nevertheless I tell you that it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom on the Day of Judgment than for you.”

So, now I get to ask you a question.  When a physical body dies, is the soul destroyed too?  Did all those people who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah go to hell?

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the One who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna (Hell).

Mostly, our theology blends physical death and spiritual eternity into one event, but the Bible never does that.  They are not one and the same.  In His mercy, God will permit (and even encourage) physical death to prevent a greater disaster, spiritual death.  

From the Sermon on the Mount… Matthew 5:29 And if your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away! It is better for you that one part of your body should be destroyed, than that your whole body be thrown into Gehenna. 30 And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away! It is better for you that one part of your body should be destroyed, than that your whole body go into Gehenna.

If we fail to see God’s grace in everything (God is love), we are at risk of judging Him.  The judgment seat is His and we should leave it that way.  

And don’t fear God’s judgment.  God has already judged the world as deficient and in need of a savior, so He sent His only begotten Son for this purpose.  John 3:17 God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Blessings.  Michael.

Week 13
Memory Verse: Joshua 24:14 “Now therefore, fear Adonai and worship Him in sincerity and in truth. Get rid of the gods that your fathers had worshipped beyond the River and in Egypt, and worship Adonai. 15 If it seems bad to you to worship Adonai, then choose for yourselves today whom you will serve—whether the gods that your fathers worshipped that were beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will worship Adonai!” 

61    3/23      Monday:        Joshua 5:10-15; 6 

62    3/24      Tuesday:       Joshua 7-8  

63    3/25      Wednesday:  Joshua 23-24

64    3/26      Thursday:      Judges 2-3 

* 65  3/27      Friday:           Judges 4

Question of the day:  Let’s face it, most of the Bible is pejorative toward women.  (That starts in Genesis 3 with Adam and Eve.) What makes this chapter different? 

Answer:  Two great protagonists of this chapter are women, Deborah and Yael.  Deborah inspires and actually commands battle strategy with Barak.  Then after that, Yael drives a tent peg through the head of Sisera, killing the enemy general.

May all the women of our day rise up to be like Deborah and Yael.  May they be victorious prophets and/or victorious warriors.  Amen.