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  • Sharon Tootill 3:57 pm on May 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , carbs, , , , , dieting, , heart, insulin, insulin-insensitivity, , , , messianic, , paganism, , , spiritual, , , veganism, , vegetarianism   

    Choices, Changes 

    Over the last few years, I have moved from a Paleo type of diet to Vegan and back again several times. This blog had ‘From Paleo to Vegan in one easy midlife crisis’ as its subtitle at one stage.

    The truth is, though, that it hasn’t been ‘one easy midlife crisis’ at all of course, it’s been more like a car with a faulty starter motor, so I lurch from one obsession to the next, and never quite seem to get anywhere.

    Every year, it seems, I try to go vegan again.

    Even going back to being properly vegetarian seems to be a challenge this time. But I will keep trying.

    It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t know either. I know.

    I’ve had to block several over-zealous vegans who insist on sending me graphic pictures of animals being brutalised.

    I know.
    I really don’t want to see it.
    I really don’t want to eat it.

    So why do I keep falling off the vegan ‘wagon’? Why is it so difficult to stay vegan?

    I have personally justified it with regard to my own specific health issues, most particularly PCOS which comes along with insulin insensitivity which means that, contrary to the oft-repeated mantra of ill-informed vegans that “carbs are not the problem”, they really can be a serious, even potentially life-threatening problem for people who can’t tolerate them.

    Not all carbs are equal, and not all fats are equal, but that discussion is for another post. Suffice to say, though, that even allowing for the insulin insensitivity issue, it’s no real barrier to veganism. Low, or at least lower carb veganism is possible, it’s just more of a challenge.

    On an unrelated note, I’m finding it a little bit difficult to stay ‘Christian’, or at least keep up the ‘respectable’ middle class mainstream image version of Christianity that is sometimes confused with authentic Christianity.

    I’ve actually been exploring paganism – firstly for general cultural literacy (I had so many misconceptions) and secondly because it is something that has fascinated me for years. I will post again with more details about that exploration and what I’ve found, what I’ve been able to love and embrace, and what I’ve had to reject and draw the line at.

    To me (and what was communicated to me by my Dad – what he saw in the Bible and in Christianity), the core of the faith is clearly love, peace, joy, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation and more love.

    Matthew 12v7

    But sadly it doesn’t seem to be what is commonly offered by the church. Certainly individual believers embody those principles and exude a genuine spirituality. But the church as a whole seems characterised by the very opposite: intolerance, unkindness, judgmentalism.

    Why should this be?

    In fact, these things are not unrelated at all.

    Veganism is supposed to be about compassion, kindness, love for all creatures. And most of the vegans I have met in person do indeed embody the compassion they espouse. But veganism as a whole has without doubt been brought into disrepute by some of its most vocal members.

    I completely understand the anger that vegans feel about people blithely and ignorantly allowing animals to be brutalised and killed just so we can have a certain taste and texture on our plate.

    We have no excuse.

    But those tastes and textures continue to persuade us to ignore what we know, to carry on along the path of least resistance.

    But the anger and self-righteousness and judgmentalism of some vegans continues to drive people away.

    The anger and self-righteousness and judgmentalism of some Christians continues to drive people away.

    (Do you see what I did there?)

    I think I know what the essential problem with Christianity is. It is the over-riding emphasis (at least in Western Christianity) on ‘right belief’ over and above ‘right living’ and ‘right feeling’. It is entirely possible to be a Christian in good standing with the church who claims all the ‘right beliefs’ and have absolutely no change of heart, absolutely no true spiritual experience whatsoever. But as long as the beliefs are in line with the doctrines your denomination emphasises, there is no reason to question the heart or the spirit. It is entirely possible to carry hatred in your heart while claiming to follow the God who is Love.

    I think the same thing can be true of veganism.

    As long as you maintain a vegan diet, and you are able to feel self-satisfied in that, there is no reason to question yourself, search inwardly, become more compassionate.

    But I think I’ve said before that there is no ‘upper limit’ for compassion, kindness, love. All of us can always move forward, become kinder, more compassionate, more understanding, more loving.

    In the Bible, a ‘righteous’ man is defined not as the one who never falls, never makes a mistake but rather the man who ‘falls seven times and gets up again’. Proverbs 24:16

    This year is probably the first time in maybe 15 years when I haven’t really managed to celebrate Passover/ Easter, count the Omer/ Eastertide or keep Pentecost/ Shavuot (the fact that they are all out of sync this year hasn’t helped). There’s a little voice in my head that wants to condemn me, make me feel guilty and miserable. But I’m not listening to it.

    I’m not as observant as I’d like to be right now, but it is what it is – this is the season I’m in, and there’s not much I can do about it. The traditional Passover concludes “Next Year in Jerusalem”. This too shall pass, and perhaps next year I will be where I want to be with my religious observance.

    I’m not going to kick myself either about repeatedly failing to be faithful to veganism. Honestly, I may never reach 100% total veganism for ever. But that’s ok. I’m moving towards it, I’ll keep trying.

    And actually, as much as I can understand the wish that the whole world go 100% vegan today, every little helps. Small steps save lives.

    If I fall down again, I’ll just get up again.

    Don’t be discouraged.

    Do whatever you can and know that it’s good, and don’t let anybody condemn you because you’re ‘not good enough’, ‘not vegan enough’, ‘not Christian enough’, or whatever.

    It’s a cliche, but learning to love and accept and forgive yourself is the first and crucial step towards spiritual growth. And it’s probably the hardest.

    But it’s never a wasted effort.

    Don’t give up. 🙂

    From my heart to yours. xx

     

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  • Sharon Tootill 11:27 am on April 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , messianic, omer, Pentecost, , Shavuot   

    Chag Pesach Sameach! 

    jewish-christia

    I always feel a little out of sorts and discombobulated when Passover and Easter occur separately as they have done this year. The reason of course is the method of calculation.

    I honestly don’t know how the Rabbis calculate Passover, but I know that the original method was to determine whether the barley was ‘Aviv’ – ready, the word actually means ‘Spring’ at the time of the new moon. If it isn’t, an additional month is added and Passover will be on the 14th day (which is of course the full moon) of the next month. That is what has happened this year. (There are in fact those – Messianics and Karaite Jews – who still use this method of calculation, and you can subscribe to the New Moon Report from Jerusalem to know when to celebrate according to Biblical law if you want to, but in fact the Rabbis’ calculation is remarkably reliable.)

    Easter, on the other hand – purposely divorced as it was from its Jewish roots – is determined with reference to the Spring Equinox. In fact, the Orthodox churches of the East use a different calculation which causes Easter to more readily fall in line with Passover.

    I’m not ready to convert to Orthodoxy though!

    It is in fact a very Jewish thing to accept contradiction and live with tension, and as a Messianic that is something you have to do, unless you are willing to take a hard line and come down heavily on either side of the argument. I spent a long time among hard-liners, but it never sat easily with me. It really isn’t in my nature to be a hard-liner.

    I would of course prefer it if all would agree (and I feel more comfortable with following the Jewish calendar), but for the sake of fellowship, I concede that there are two celebrations essentially of the same holiday on years like this.

    christ-passover

    The only problem now is that there will also be two celebrations of Shavuot/ Pentecost as well and counting the omer/ Eastertide can get a bit confusing!

    Whichever way you celebrate, blessings to you!

    May the light of the risen Christ rise in your hearts!

    Shalom x

    easter-passover

     
  • Sharon Tootill 3:58 pm on February 17, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: messianic, parsha, Terumah,   

    Parsha Terumah 

    Torah: Exodus 25:1-27:19
    Haftarah: 1 Kings 5:26-6:13
    Brit Chadashah: 2 Corinthians 9:1-15
    Matthew 5:33-37


    Apologies for the delay this week – it has been ridiculously busy and I just haven’t managed to stop and look properly at this study, so this will be very brief.

    For more details, there are several different good commentaries on the Torah portions – Hebrew for Christians, Ardelle Brody (send an email to ardellebrody at gmail dot com requesting her weekly commentaries by email), The Rabbi’s Son and the Messianic Trust who are based in Exeter are all good places to start. Good secular sources include Wikipedia which is often surprisingly good, and then (non-Messianic) Jewish sites that are helpful include My Jewish Learning. They all have different ways of looking at the Parsha which is good as you will see lots of different angles.

    Terumah means ‘gift’ or ‘offering’, and the portion deals with the bringing of contributions by the Israelites for the building of the Tabernacle in the desert, the ‘Mishkan’, which is built to exacting specifications – all of which can be shown to symbolically represent aspects of Christ, the Gospel story and the plan of salvation.

    Recommended books on this topic include: ‘The Tabernacle: Shadows of the Messiah’ by David M Levy. I have a couple of others as well, but as seems to be the case for most of the books I want to get hold of at the moment, they’re in storage and I can’t even find the details!

    Thanks to anyone who is following or reading, and apologies once again for the inconsistency and randomness of postings.

    Hopefully there will come a day – in the not too distant future – where we’re settled and stable and I don’t have to just muddle through as best I can in the mess. But for now, please bear with me. 🙂

     
  • Sharon Tootill 1:14 pm on February 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , messianic, Refiner's Fire, Transfiguration   

    Quinquagesima / The Sunday Next Before Lent 

    Psalms/ Canticles: Psalm 99
    OT Reading: Exodus 34:29-end
    Gospel: 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
    NT Reading: Luke 9 28:36 (27-43a)

    “Moses and Aaron were among his priests… they called on the LORD and he answered them. He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud… Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the LORD our God is holy.” – Psalm 99


    Summary and Notes

    This is the last Sunday before Lent, which means this week will  see the traditions of Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) or Fat Tuesday, when all the rich food ingredients are used up, and Ash Wednesday following, which signals the beginning of the Lenten period.

    The portion in Exodus is right after the incident of Aaron’s golden calf where Moses, appalled, had smashed the Tablets of Stone and so had had to go up the mountain again to receive new Tablets. In this section, when Moses returns from the mountain, his face is radiant from being in the presence of God, and when he realises this, he covers his face with a veil – not because he doesn’t want the people to see the radiance, but because he knows that it will fade.

    The passage in 2 Corinthians refers directly to the portion in Exodus (which will come up in a couple of Parsha’s time, incidentally) Only in Christ, Paul says, is the veil taken away and we as believers are to reflect God’s glory “being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory…”

    The Gospel portion is the Transfiguration, where God’s glory in Christ is revealed to Peter, James and John.  Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus, and a voice in the cloud, reminiscent both of the Dove at Jesus’ baptism and of the cloud which led the Israelites in the desert, tells them “This is my Son, whom I have chosen: listen to him.”

    Application

    What does it mean to reflect God’s glory? In what way are we being transformed into his likeness with every increasing glory? I think it wouldn’t be outrageous to suggest that not a few Christians lack any obvious degree of Christlikeness. I don’t see a lot of it about, and let’s be brutally honest – I don’t see much of it in me. So how are we to reflect God’s glory? Well firstly and most obvious, we can’t do it unless we spend time in his presence – in prayer and contemplation of His Word. We can’t be like Him if we don’t know Him. In Romans 12:2 we are told “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” How can we renew our minds? again, only by spending time with God in His Word, getting to know His heart and His concerns. Secondly and perhaps most painfully, we must be prepared to allow Him to change us, to try us in the Refiner’s fire that we come out as gold.

    And as an aside, it is interesting (as a Messianic especially) to contemplate God’s admonition to us to listen to Jesus. Far too often as Christians we take all our doctrine and theology from Paul, whom Peter tells us, in 2 Peter 3:16,  is hard to understand and easily misinterpreted, and we forget to pay due attention to Jesus own words. It’s a shame that Bibles tend not to print the words of Christ in red anymore. Are we listening to what Jesus is telling us?

     
  • Sharon Tootill 11:49 am on February 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: messianic, Mishpatim,   

    Parsha Mishpatim 

    Torah: Exodus 21:1-24:18
    Haftarah:  Jeremiah 34:8–22 and 33:25–26
    Brit Chadashah: Matthew 5:38-42, 17:1-11

    Moses Receives the Tablets of the Law (1868 painting by João Zeferino da Costa) source: Wikipedia

    Moses Receives the Tablets of the Law (1868 painting by João Zeferino da Costa) source: Wikipedia


    Summary

    This Torah portion, Mishpatim, meaning ‘Judgements’ is probably the most law-rich portion there is, containing laws on agrigulture, civil law, liability, finance, family purity, the sabbath and the festivals, slaves, property, justice and mercy. At the end of the portion, Moses makes a sacrifice, sprinkling the blood on the people in a symbolic ritual confirming the Covenant and their agreement to it. At the end of the portion, we are told that “To the Israelites, the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire”

    The selections in Matthew are: firstly, part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus expands on the requirements of Torah, saying “Do not resist and evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” and so on. (Read to the end of chapter 5) And then the second passage is the Transfiguration, linking Moses’ time on Mount Sinai with Jesus’ time on the mountain with Peter, James and John.

    The passages in Jeremiah refer to a time during the reign of King Zedekiah when the people had remembered the Covenant, repented and set slaves free, but then had forgotten it once more and enslaved them again, and a warning for the consequences of this. The Haftarah ends with God confirming the Covenant and his care of the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. “For I will restore their fortunes and have compassion on them.”

    Notes

    The symbolic sprinkling of blood by Moses of the people is mirrored by the declaration of the witnesses at Jesus’ trial by Pilate “Let his blood be on us and on our children” when Pilate declares Jesus innocent and washes his hands symbolically and literally, absolving himself of responsibility of condemning this innocent man. Ironically though, in Scripture the covering of blood represents not guilt and shame but rather washing and cleansing. In Hebrews 9:22, the writer tells us that “without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins.” 1 Peter 1:2 alludes to all believers being sanctified by the ‘sprinkling’ of Jesus blood, and in Hebrews 12:22 -24 we are told that Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant, and refers to the ‘Blood of Sprinkling’. The passage in Hebrews 12 goes on to offer a warning, which ends with an allusion to the Parsha: “Our God is a consuming fire.”

    Application

    There are many things that can be taken away from this portion. The whole of the longest psalm, Psalm 119, is about studying and loving the laws of God. Messianic believers tend to make a big deal about Sabbath and the Festivals, often forgetting and neglecting the laws of justice and mercy and social responsibility – what Jesus refers to as the ‘Weightier matters of the Law’. For Christians, the question of the New Covenant should be uppermost. What is the New Covenant? What does it mean? What are we agreeing to when Jesus’ blood is sprinkled over us? The people responded: “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” – Exodus 24:7 Are we prepared and willing to make such a declaration? And what will it mean for us? Do we imagine that the obedience under the New Covenant is less demanding and easier than the Old? Do we view God as a terrible, consuming fire as well as the meek and gentle Jesus or do we prefer to ignore the wrath in favour of His love and mercy?

    “How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” Hebrews 2:3

     
  • Sharon Tootill 1:05 pm on February 4, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , messianic,   

    4th Sunday of Epiphany/ Sexagesima 

    Psalms/ Canticles Psalm 48
    OT Reading Ezekiel 43:27-44:4
    Gospel Luke 2:22-40
    NT Reading 1 Corinthians 13

    “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion on the side of the north, the City of the Great King.” Psalm 48:1-2

    Hands up who immediately hears this sung as a chorus! I am guessing those of a certain age who might have grown up attending a Pentecostal church! 🙂 Psalm 48 is really one of the loveliest psalms, and one of my favourites.

    I didn’t manage to get to church at all last weekend, so apologies this is late.  Also I can’t promise any degree of coherence since the brain fog is back and I’m struggling to think clearly. But these are my thoughts for what they’re worth.

    With the Gospel reading this week, we step back in time from the Wedding at Cana to Christ’s presentation in the Temple, his circumcision on the eight day according to the requirement of Torah, and the meetings with Simeon and Anna who prophesied over him and blessed him. The selection ends with “And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.”

    The selection in 1 Corinthians is the ‘love chapter’ in which Paul outlines what true love looks like (with Christ’s love being the obvious example), and the section in Ezekiel refers to the Prince’s Gate. I’m not sure of the specific significance, but it would probably be worth doing a study on the Gates of the Temple as they all have different meanings. This short section is obviously understood to be messianic in nature, Christ being the Prince who is to come. (Curiously, from a Messianic perspective, the selection stops before the mention of the laws and ordinances since from a mainstream Christian perspective, the idea that the laws and ordinances will be in effect during the reign of Messiah is unthinkable, whereas from a Messianic perspective it is the only consistent interpretation.)

    I can’t immediately see the connections between all these passages. If I am missing something obvious let me know!

    I looked everywhere to find the version of Psalm 48 that I know but I couldn’t find it anywhere, so instead I will leave you with a Hebrew version by Shirei haLeviim which I hope you enjoy:

     
  • Sharon Tootill 3:09 pm on January 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Kingdom, messianic, Yitro   

    Parsha: Yitro 

    Torah: Exodus 18:1-20:23
    Haftarah: Isaiah 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6
    B’rit Chadashah: Matthew 8:5-20

    Summary

    The parsha begins with the visit of Moses’ father-in-law Jethro (whose name forms the title of the parsha) to him in the wilderness, bringing his wife Zipporah and their sons Gershom and Eliezer with him. Jethro notices that Moses is struggling to sit as Judge over the whole of Israel himself, and advises him to appoint deputies to sit in judgement over ‘thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens’ of the people.

    The people of Israel come to the Desert of Sinai and God stops them there and tells them to prepare for the giving of the Covenant and the Law, and the Ten Commandments (or rather, ‘Ten Words’ or ‘Ten Sayings’) are given, outlining the basis of the whole Torah.

    The passages in Isaiah are, in chapter 6: Isaiah’s vision of the heavenly Temple, which the Tabernacle in the Wilderness is intended to symbolise and reflect.

    “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs…and they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory’.”

    And then in chapter 9: these verses which every Christian will immediately recognise as being ‘messianic’ in nature; that is, foretelling the coming of Christ:

    “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

    The passage in Matthew is the healing of the Centurion’s servant which refers back to another passage in Isaiah:

    “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” – Isaiah 53:4

    Notes:

    Torah portions are usually named after the first word or group of some of the first words which occur in that section, and Parsha Yitro is no different. “Now, Jethro…” However, in having a portion named after him, it is a clue that the person of Jethro is a significant character, and from a Christian/ Messianic perspective, he may be viewed as a ‘type’ (symbol or foreshadowing) of Christ. In what way? In fact, this links perfectly with the ‘Great Commission‘ where Jesus appoints his disciples to act on his behalf to carry out His mission – not to ‘judge’ (although Paul later makes reference to a time when Jesus’ disciples would judge on Christ’s behalf) but rather to bring in the Kingdom, where Christ – the Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – is King, and where healing can be found.

    The Torah portion doesn’t go right up to the end of the chapter, but rather ends with:

    “Wherever I cause my name to be honoured, I will come to you and bless you.”

    • following the tradition of finishing the portion on a positive note, but also drawing attention to the idea that the Kingdom brings blessing.

    The fact that the Haftarah selection refers to the reign of the Messianic king also links the Covenant to the Kingdom.

    The New Testament selection links the Centurion to Jethro as a model for Kingdom advancement (discipleship) in that he recognised that he is a man under authority, with soldiers under him; as I learned in The Salvation Army, we are “saved to save”, which was the message in different words at Elim last week.

    Finally, the ‘Ten Words’, when viewed as ‘ten commandments’ usually misses the primary phrase at the beginning , which in fact is probably the most important and foundational of all the commandments and indeed all of the Torah:

    “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

    THIS is the nature of the Kingdom, the nature of our God.  Selah!

    Thy Kingdom come.

    Amen.

     
  • Sharon Tootill 2:18 pm on January 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , messianic, , thankfulness,   

    No More Grumbling! 

    rejoice

    As I have told you, times are challenging at the moment for us, and I have been feeling very discouraged.

    But this week’s Torah portion, Beshalach, features the topic of grumbling quite prominently, and so I am encouraged to put a guard over my mouth and my virtual pen, to only ‘speak life’; in other words, not to grumble and moan but to look for the good in everything, to give thanks in everything and to be grateful for the goodness and mercy that is all around me.

    So today I thought I would share some of the things for which I am most grateful.

    • My husband, my children, my family
    • We have a roof over our head, we are not out on the street, destitute.
    • Running, hot water and a shower!
    • Plenty of food, and a grocery delivery service!
    • My husband has a job where he is happy, and he gets up faithfully early every morning and goes to work, and comes home, and never complains!
    • Sunshine and rain in due season
    • The books that I have not in storage.

    I’m sure there is much more if I would spend some time thinking about it.

    Are you making gratefulness and thankfulness a habit, even when it is hard? Even on my darkest days, I can usually find at least 5 things to be thankful for, even if it is just my bed at the end of the day, running water, food to eat, a bit of sunshine and a good conversation.

    What are you grateful for today?

     
  • Sharon Tootill 1:59 pm on January 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , Luke, messianic, , , Year of the LORD's Favour   

    Septuagesima / Third Sunday of Epiphany 

    Canticles & Psalms: Psalm 19
    OT Reading: Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10
    NT Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a
    Gospel: Luke 4:14-21

    In this passage in the gospel, Jesus is quoting a passage in Isaiah 61 – declaring it to be a prophecy fulfilled in himself.

    It is so interesting to me that this passage which occurs in the lectionary of the Anglican church should have come up at the Pentecostal church I attended last week (and I have already written about it here.) I don’t suppose there are many ‘Messianic Anglican Pentecostals’ around, so perhaps this is a repetition and a reminder intended just for me, who knows 🙂

    What is also terribly interesting about this passage though, is that the passage in Isaiah is a ‘Haftarah’ portion (a section from the Prophets which is traditionally read after the Torah and usually refers back to, and brings to remembrance a specific section from the Torah) which seems to have been deliberately removed from the Jewish liturgy specifically because it was claimed and quoted by Jesus. (See also a list of Messianic passages from the prophets which are likewise excluded from Jewish liturgy for being obviously connected to Jesus here.)

    So what was the Torah portion in question? I read a suggestion once that it was referring back to the section in Exodus 3 where God reveals himself to Moses as “I AM” – in other words, the claim being that, in reading this Haftarah passage, Jesus was drawing attention to His divinity, which the audience would have recognised. However, that portion (Shemot) is traditionally connected to Isaiah 27-28, and there is no evidence for such a claim that I can find. Since this New Testament passage seems to be the first historical evidence of Haftarah portions being read in the synagogue, it would seem to be almost impossible to determine which Torah portion it might originally have referred to, if indeed it was actually connected to a Torah portion (although the connection between Jesus’ mission and Moses’, which was to bring about an end to slavery, is certainly fascinating). Is it a compelling connection that Jesus’ audience in the synagogue would have recognised? I don’t know. But it is interesting that when they commend Him and say how wonderful His words are, that Jesus turns on them, telling them that they will soon change their minds about him, because “No prophet is accepted in his home town.” – Luke 4:24.

    The passage in Nehemiah recalls the time when Ezra opened up the Book of the Law (that is, the Torah – the Pentateuch, also called the Books of Moses) and read it aloud to the people, who cried with sorrow that they had not known the great and mighty deeds of the LORD, nor obeyed His commands.

    The passage in 1 Corinthians is on spiritual gifts – referring to the way in which we as the Body of Christ, must carry out Jesus’ Mission to preach good news to the poor, bind up the broken-hearted, proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisioners; in short: to proclaim the Year of the LORD’s favour – i.e., by the power and work of the Holy Spirit in us.

    The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
    The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
    The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
    More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
    Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” – Psalm 19:7-11 KJV

     
  • Sharon Tootill 12:57 pm on January 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , messianic,   

    Parsha: Beshalach 

    Torah: Exodus 13:17-17:16
    Haftarah: Judges 4:4-5:31
    Brit Chadashah: John 6:15-71, 1 Corinthians 10:1-5


    Summary

    This is really the final chapter of the Exodus from Egypt, and where the Wilderness journey begins. ‘Beshalach’ means roughly ‘When let go’ or  ‘Upon being sent away’.

    In last week’s portion, the Pharaoh finally consents to letting the Israelites go after his own son is struck down by the angel of death who passed over in the tenth and final plague. So the people have gathered up their things in a hurry, their bread unleavened, and have left Egypt.

    Instead of making their way directly towards the Promised Land, however, God directs them southwards into the desert and once again Pharaoh changes his mind one final fateful time.

    The Israelites are faced with the advancing Egyptians and their chariots on one side, and the Sea of Reeds on the other; not even God’s awesome pillar of fire and cloud assure them of His power to rescue them, and so the grumbling begins against Moses.

    God instructs Moses to raise his staff to command the waters of the sea to divide, allowing the Israelites to cross over on dry land, while He restrains the Egyptians in a cloud of confusion, allowing the cloud to lift and the Egyptians to forge ahead just as the waters rush back over them.

    Upon realising that they are safe and the Egyptians no longer pose a threat, the Israelites burst into joyful song (sometimes called the Song of Moses, or the Song of the Sea), and so this sabbath day is known as Shabbat Shirah – the Sabbath of Song.

    “I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted.”

    Again, there is grumbling because the water at Marah is bitter, and Moses is instructed to throw a piece of wood into bitter water to turn it sweet. The the LORD tells them,

    “If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brough on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD who heals you.” – Exodus 15:26

    They are then led into the ‘Desert of Sin’ (which sounds like a title out of Pilgrim’s Progress, but the region of ‘Sin’ is adjacent to Mount ‘Sinai’), whereupon the people grumble again because they have no bread, and so God provides again, ‘manna’ from heaven (so called because the Hebrew ‘mah neh’ means, ‘what is it?’) Despite everything, the grumbling and disobedience continues.

    We end with the surprise attack of the Amalekites at Rephidim near Sinai, and the introduction of Joshua who will lead the army of the Israelites, the Amalekites are destroyed and God vows to completely erase the memory of them, and will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation. Moses builds an altar, calling it Jehovah Nissi, The LORD is my banner.

    Comment

    “Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today…The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” – Exodus 14:13,14

    This section of the Exodus story is a well-known, Sunday School selection, with God providing protection, manna and quail, sweet water. But it is also considered to be an example of what modern readers see as ‘God behaving badly’. Why does God destroy the Egyptians rather than just preventing them in some way? Why would God vow to be at war with the Amalekites from generation to generation? With what we know of God from the New Testament, as the God of incarnate love, it is difficult indeed to understand.

    But if you look at the passage with an eye on symbolism and metaphor, you can see that the Egyptians , and the Amalekites, can be viewed as the spiritual forces who are enemies of God and His people.

    God longs to heal us of “all the diseases of Egypt”, but we insist on continuing our grumbling, apparently missing all the mercies and glorious benefits He is providing for us.

    The Manna, bread from heaven, may be viewed as a foretaste of Jesus, who is the Bread of Life who sustains us spiritually.

    The water, too, is a symbol of the Living Water of spiritual life that Jesus gives, the bitterness sin, and the wood (or ‘Branch’) that takes away the bitterness is Jesus himself.

    Finally, the crossing of the Reed Sea may be viewed as the spiritual ‘crossing over’ between death and life, between Egypt and the Promised Land, the Kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God, between slavery and freedom.


    Note on the Haftarah:

    The Haftarah section in Judges 4 is the time when Deborah has become Judge over Israel, and Sisera the leader of Jabin’s army is defeated by another woman, Jael. It’s an interesting (and disturbing!) passage in itself, but is another example of the enemies of Israel being defeated in an unexpected way. The Song of Deborah is a reminder of the Song of Moses.

    “So may all your enemies perish, O LORD! But may they who love you be like the sun when it rises in its strength.” – Judges 5:31


    Note on the Brit Chadashah selections:

    The passage in John is Jesus as the Bread of Life, and refers specifically to the Bread from Heaven and the grumbling that accompanied it.

    “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never go hungry.” John 6:35

    The passage in 1 Corinthians refers specifically to the crossing over the Reed Sea as a ‘Baptism’, and warns against grumbling.

    “They were all baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 10:2-4

     
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