Rabbi’s Reflections – Monday, March 30, 2020 

Shalom *|FNAME|*,

These are troublesome times; times of great upheaval in every area of life.  Psalm 91 speaks effectively into these high level challenges.  So, let’s begin a series on Psalm 91.  And let’s reflect upon it one verse at a time.  

Psalm 91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of Elyon, will abide in the shadow of Shaddai.

This is poetry.  The “Midrash” (see RT1 below) teaches us that it was Moses who wrote Psalm 91.  According to legend, he wrote it immediately after completing the construction of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness (see the other RT (RT2) below).

Rabbi Trail 1: A “Midrash” is a story, lesson, or teaching about a Scripture.  It is an attempt by one of our sages to further explain the Bible.  We have to be careful when studying a “Midrash.”  We have to be sure the midrash is consistent with other Scriptures.  There are several reasons to mention this.  

First, there is much in the way of secular humanism that has worked its way into rabbinical teaching.  Secular humanism believes that we can make things better if we will just try harder.  This is the essence of a works mentality and it came in during the Renaissance.  

There is also (as hard as it may be to believe) influence from Islam.  Many of our greatest sages lived in Isalmic countries about 1,000 years ago.  They could not help but come under Islamic influence.  

There is also a strong presence of superstitious belief.  Superstitious belief is a belief that cannot be supported by Scripture.  For example, many of the rabbinical sages strongly believed in reincarnation, even to this day.

Lastly, there is a strong anti-Yeshua belief that permeates Jewish thought.  For many modern Jews, Judaism is more of a faith AGAINST Yeshua than it is FOR God.   The belief that God cannot have a son, or come to earth in the form of a human body, is widely found among our sages.  

All of these anti-Yeshua beliefs can form a stronghold within us, if we are not on-guard.  This is why so many Messianic Gentiles who become enamored with Judaism leave Christianity.  An equal tragedy is Messianic Jews who return to Judaism actually leaving the faith of Yeshua and re-adopt traditional Judaism.  

All this is to say we must use the Holy Spirit as our filter when studying ancient rabbinical writings called midrashim.  If we just allow the rabbis free rein, we will eventually believe what they believe, and much of that is anti-Yeshua.  End RT1.

Rabbi Trail 2:  The Tabernacle in the Wilderness is called the “Mishkan” in Hebrew.  The Hebrew word “Shekinah” means the manifest presence (or glory) of God.  Shekinah becomes a place when the Mishkan is built.  It is the place of the manifest presence of God.  In Messianic Judaism, you are the Mishkan.  End RT2.  

So finally, let’s unpack the verse.  Almost every verse of Scripture has an etnachta in it.  An etnachta is a cantorial rest note that divides the first part of a verse from the second part.  This verse is classic along those lines.  There are 3 thoughts (words) before the etnachta that match perfectly the 3 thoughts (words) after the etnachta.  Let’s look at them.

Before. Shev “dwell”  After. Lon “abide”

Before. Satar “hiding place”  After. Tzel “shadow”

Before. Elyon “Exalted God”  After. Shadai “Almighty (God)”

The poet (Moses) uses six different words to express the same thought twice.  “Live or dwell in the secret place, or shadow, of the Almighty God.”  So, let me ask a question.  Why would we want to do that?  Answer: Where else would we rather be?  Psalm 84:11(10) For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather stand at the threshold of the House of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

El Shaddai is typically translated “God Almighty.”  A “Shad” is a “breast.”  “Shaddai” is plural.  God has a bosom, and we belong there.  Let me prove it.  Do you recall a teaching a few months ago on the names of the 12 tribes, and how they tell the story of every believer?  The story starts with Reuben (see the Son), and end with Benyamin (son of the right hand).  We all have a destiny to be Benjamites.  Deuteronomy 33:12 For Benjamin he said, ‘The beloved of Adonai rests securely beside Him. He shields him all day long. Between His shoulders he rests.’  And, what do you think is “between His shoulders?”  Yes, His bosom.  Rest there.

Week 14
Memory Verse: Psalm 19:14 Also keep Your servant from willful sins. May they not have dominion over me. Then I will be blameless, free from great transgression.

* 66    3/30    Monday:        Judges 6-7 

67    3/31      Tuesday:       Judges 13-14  

68    4/1        Wednesday:  Judges 15-16

69    4/2        Thursday:      Ruth 1-2

70    4/3        Friday:           Ruth 3-4

Question of the day:  Gideon tests God with his fleece.  But how does God test Gideon?

Answer:  God has Gideon reduce the number of men in his makeshift army until there are only 300 men left in it.  Only then is Gideon ready to walk in the full power of God.  

Have you ever heard of a B-H-A-G (pronounced “B-hag”)?  It is a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal.”  It means hearing from God to do something for which there are not enough resources to accomplish it.  A “B-H-A-G” is always more than what is possible through human effort.  

A B-H-A-G makes us call upon the power of God (after all, what He doesn’t have, He creates).  Just as God gave Gideon the victory, He will also give the victory to His children today.  Walk in the power of His might.  Did you read what Gideon accomplished with 300 men who each had a Shofar, a water pitcher and a torche?  Or, as we will soon read in Psalm 91:7 A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.  Blessings, Rabbi Michael.