Rabbi’s Reflections – Tuesday, June 9, 2020
Rabbi needs a break: Shalom faithful RR readers. Tick, tick, tick is the sound of a watch ticking. Before there were battery operated watches, we had to wind them. (Even now, we have to change the batteries.) We had to wind them because over time they would wind down. All that to say that I’m feeling “wound down.” I’m going to take a week to wind back up. But in the interest of continuity I’m going to reprint the RR’s from 2018 and the corresponding series on the explanation of the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). I hope you enjoy it. My week off will last until next Tuesday, June 15th when I hope to write something fresh. Raymond Finney will write something new for Sunday, June 14th. I enjoy writing (and I hope you enjoy reading), but I want to be refreshed. End of “Rabbi needs a break.”
The Shema is a liturgical prayer that is included in every liturgical service. I can’t think of any liturgical service where it is missing. It is the prayer that is rolled up and placed inside every mezuzah. It is also wrapped and enclosed in the boxes on the arm (Yad) and head (Rosh) of the tefillin (phylacteries).
A mezuzah (the Hebrew word for “doorpost”) is a small box (or container that is attached to the doorpost of a Jewish home with a hollowed out space for the Shema to be placed. It is how we honor God’s command to write His word (from Deuteronomy 6:9) “…on the doorpost of your house and on your gates.” Tefillin are the leather straps worn by men on the arm and head during morning prayers.
In Messiah Yeshua, we have these prayers (which are Scriptures) written on our hearts, not on parchment. Jeremiah 31:32(33) “But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days” —it is a declaration of Adonai— “I will put My Torah within them. Yes, I will write it on their heart. I will be their God and they will be My people.”
I heard once that a Messianic rabbi (who shall remain nameless because he may read this someday – but I heard this from him directly) was forbidden from teaching anything Jewish in his Messianic congregation. He was viewed as trying to make the congregation too Jewish.
Our Jewish practice is not something we put on and take off (like a talit, kippah, or tefillin); our Jewish practice is who we are. The fact that we have to teach it is made necessary by both the non-Jewish and the Jewish people who connect to Messianic Judaism. Even many of the Jewish people who connect to Messianic Judaism don’t come having had good Jewish educations, so it is necessary to teach them too.
If you’re Jewish, unless you come from an orthodox background, there is a very good chance that your Jewish education is spotty at best. I’ll add to that… even the best of us need a refresher on our Jewish education.
Many Jewish people practice Judaism from rote, habit, or even as a form of ancestor worship. In many Jewish minds there is a separation between practice and belief. I’ve heard statements like, “Judaism is what I do, but not what I believe.” However; there is a problem when we act without faith. Hebrews 4:2 For we also have had Good News proclaimed to us, just as they did. But the word they heard did not help them, because they were not unified with those who listened in faith.
The Scripture specifically warns us against vain repetition (Matthew 6:7 KJV). All Hebrew liturgy is written and structured to take the place of the Temple (Moses’, David’s or Solomon’s) service in the heart of the supplicant. Picture the 3 tabernacles, Moses’, Solomon’s, and David’s. Moses’ and Solomon’s are similar with similar furniture and priestly ministry among many blood sacrifices.
David’s Tabernacle is unique. The service in David’s Tabernacle was made without blood, with a sacrifice of praise. David’s Tabernacle is in the middle and also (along with the other 2) is identified with Yeshua’s ministry. In Amos 9:11 God promises to restore David’s Tabernacle. More on this Tomorrow.
Memory Verse: Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no divine vision people cast off restraint, but blessed is the one who keeps Torah.
116 6/8 Monday: 2 Kings 17-18
* 117 6/9 Tuesday: 2 Kings 19-21
118 6/10 Wednesday: 2 Kings 22-23
119 6/11 Thursday: Jeremiah 1-3:5
120 6/12 Friday: Jeremiah 25; 29
Question of the day: Hezekiah did what was good in the sight of the Lord. When he was sick and told by Isaiah he was going to die, God heard his cry and preserved his life another 15 years. Does God change His mind?
Answer: Not like you or I change our minds. It might look like God “changed His mind,” but His ways are higher than our ways, His thoughts higher than our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8,9)
God is always true to His purposes and principles. In fact, many people don’t realize this, but God Himself is subject (under authority) to His own word! (Psalm 138:2)
The variable is not God, but us. We have free will and our choices make a difference to God. God didn’t just “change His mind,” He responded to Hezekiah’s heart cry.
Oh, and good news; He’ll respond to your heart cry too. You might be tempted to say, “I tried that and it didn’t work.” Unless you have reached eternity so you know the end (as God already does), you don’t have enough evidence to support that conclusion.
Besides, what other option is there? Where else will you put your faith? Keep focused on Him. Proverbs 3:5 Trust in Adonai with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.