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Feast or Famine

Feast or Famine

Sukkot is the seven day festival that we celebrate in the fall of each year to remember the wilderness journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the Promised Land. During these 40 years, the Hebrew people were led by a cloud by day and a fire by night. They were fed miraculously manna from heaven and their needs were met supernaturally. Neither their shoes nor their clothes wore out for the entire journey. We remember this time of YHWH’s dwelling power as we build a booth/Sukkah/tent and worship YHWH for seven days.

“‘So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to Yahweh for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest. On the first day you are to take choice fruit from the trees, and palm fronds, leafy branches and poplars, and rejoice before Yahweh your Elohim for seven days. Celebrate this as a festival to Yahweh for seven days each year. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come; celebrate it in the seventh month. Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am Yahweh your Elohim.’” So Moses announced to the Israelites the appointed feasts of Yahweh,” Leviticus 23:35:-44. This passage may seem a bit strange as it says that the Festival of Tabernacles is seven days, yet the eighth day is a time of rest and worship. What is so special about the 8th day of Sukkot?

“Throughout the year, the daily offerings in the Temple were accompanied by the pouring of wine on the altar; on Sukkot, water was poured in addition to the wine. The drawing of water for this purpose was preceded by all-night celebrations in the Temple courtyard, with music-playing Levites, torch-juggling sages and huge oil-burning lamps that illuminated the entire city. The singing and dancing went on until daybreak, when a procession would make its way to the Shiloach Spring which flowed in a valley below the Temples,” says the Jewish Encyclopedia.

Though we like to camp during Sukkot and hope that it doesn’t rain, Sukkot is about water. According to the sage Rabbi Eliezer (Sukkah 11b), we dwell in sukkah huts because the children of Israel were sheltered in the desert by the divine clouds of glory; the cloud imagery is no accident. Tradition even requires that the sukkah’s roof must allow rainwater to penetrate. Even more, the four species used for the Sukkah are connected to water. “The lulav itself, the date palm, was the most water-loving plant of the desert; the myrtle (hadas) needs the most water of the mountain plants; the etrog fruit among agricultural trees requires the most rains to grow; and of course the “willow of the brooks” (arvei nachal) are synonymous with abundant water, growing often with their roots right in the streams,” says one web site.

As Sukkot ends another celebration is held. This holy day is often considered the 8th day of Sukkot but it is actually an altogether different holiday. “…On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the Festival of Sukkot, seven days for YHWH… on the eighth day, there shall be a holy convocation for you,” Leviticus 23:34.

 Numbers 29:35, “On the eighth day you shall hold a solemn gathering; you shall not work at your occupations.”

This eighth day of Sukkot is called in Hebrew “Shemini Atzeret.” This term literally means “the eighth day of holding” or the “eighth day of assembly.” On this day, we are commanded to gather together for worship and prayer. “Rabbinic literature explains the holiday this way: Elohim is like a host, who invites us as visitors for a limited time, but when the time comes for us to leave, He has enjoyed himself so much that He asks us to stay another day,” says the Jewish Virtual Library.

There are not many specific commands for this day of worship. Infact, this day is usually forgotten by many observant Jewish and Christian people. Christianity insists that the Law of Moses has been superseded by the New Testament; therefore the festivals should not be celebrated. In Judaism, Shemini Atzeret has sadly been replaced by modern holiday of Israel called “Simchat Torah.” This holiday occurs on the 9th day of Sukkot. Simchat Torah is a day for rejoicing in the Torah and marks the end of yearly Torah reading and the beginning of the new cycle. Judaism, for the most part, has replaced the reverence of Shemini Atzeret for “Simchat Torah.” The Jewish tradition of Simchat Torah is a good time to rejoice for the Word of YHWH, yet the Biblical festival of Shemini Atzeret is a great time to hear from YHWH about His presence and power. Traditionally in the synagogue, Shemini Atzeret is commemorated only by adding a specific prayer to the daily petitions. This prayer is a request for rain. A prayer for rain is important as in ancient Israel; Shemini Atzeret coincided with the beginning of the rainy season. Accordingly, prayers for rain or “tefillat geshem” and good crops were recited. Many Orthodox Jews still recite the ancient prayers at this time.

The connection between rain and Shemini Atzeret will teach us much if we will allow our minds to be opened to YHWH’s Torah. May the Ruach Ha Kodesh reveal Y’shua to us in Shemini Atzeret. Luke 24:45, “Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” This must be our prayer on about holy day of Shemini Atzeret.

In Israel there is an early rain season and a time for the latter rains. It doesn’t rain every other day in Israel! The “Early Rains” were the heaviest rains and they came during the months of September and October. The rivers would swell from the rains and it was these rains that would soften the parched, dry land from the hot summer months. The first rains are and were for the fruit crops. The latter rains would be in the spring for the harvest of grain.

One website says, “It is in October and Autumn when Israel has the harvest of grapes, olives, and other fruits. It is also when the Barley was sown. In January the wheat would be planted. In April you have what we call Passover, but what Jews call Chag haMatzot, The Feast of Bread (unleavened). The barley was harvested in connection with haMatzot, and seven weeks later, at Chag haKatzir, the Feast of the Harvest, the season of harvest was concluded with the wheat harvest, or first fruits, or what Christians usually call Pentecost.”

The early rains are mentioned in Deuteronomy 11:14. To read this verse in context is to unlock treasures from YHWH’s word. Deuteronomy 11:8, “Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess.” Verses 12-22 urge Elohim’s people to be faithful to Him, to keep His commandments. This passage reminds the Israelites that they have seen the signs of YHWH’s glory and now they must trust Him for the future. The rain will come as the people are obedient to YHWH and show mercy to people. The persistence of the rain is linked directly to the faithful obedience of the people. Rain is conditional to the mercy and love of YHWH’s people.

Deuteronomy 11:16, “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other Elohims, and worship them; And then YHWH’s wrath be kindled against you, and He shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which YHWH giveth you.”

In the Scriptures, rain is symbolic of a new way of life. Rain is necessary for crops to produce, farmers to harvest, and life to continue. Rain is dew from heaven. It is substance from the Almighty. It occurs as a result of Israel’s obedience and faith. Praying for rain was a central act of worship for those living in Israel during ancient times as drought meant hunger. It is the same for us today.

Deuteronomy 11:10-12. “”For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. “But )the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which YHWH your Elohim cares; the eyes of YHWH your Elohim are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year.” Eretz Israel, the Land of Israel, is dependent upon YHWH for rain. This is an important concept to grasp. We are dependent upon YHWH for rain – for renewal for YHWH’s power. Look back at Deuteronomy 11:10-12. How as Egypt irrigated? Egypt was not dependent upon rain for its crops as this nation would irrigate its own land. Israel, a land of peaks and valleys, was totally reliant upon the heavens for rain.

Consider Genesis 13:10, “Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of YHWH, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before YHWH destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)” It is easy for Lot to consider that these lands looked better but they were not.

The three lands mentioned (Sodom, Eden, and the area around the Jordan) were abundant with water from creation. Yet, the fall spoiled these springs and tainted their rivers.”And YHWH Elohim made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground-trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates,” Genesis 2:9-14.

Because these towns were watered from the ground, they did not have to depend upon YHWH for rain. However, their water was tainted from the curse upon the land and their moral development was devastating. Genesis 3:6-24 explains the fall of man and how the inhabitants of Eden were cursed. Genesis 18:20-21 shows how Sedom’s sin was “exceedingly grievous.” And Genesis 12:12 explains how Egypt was full of murder. The Land of Israel has a religious and moral advantage over other places of the earth. The substance from Heaven, the dew and the rain, is directly connected to the people’s obedience and faith.

Israel was and is forced to trust YHWH for rain. They couldn’t make it rain. They simply had to walk in obedience and trust the power of YHWH. This is the lesson we must learn today. The pagan nations placed no faith in YHWH and didn’t look to the heavens for rain. We must decide to not be like these people. We are Israel and we should look to YHWH for rain – whatever that rain is for us in our life. We must trust YHWH.

The Ancient Hebrew Research Center teaches about the subject of trust:

“While the word “trust” appears 134 times in the King James Version of the Bible. There are several different Hebrew words behind the English. The English word “trust” is an abstract (cannot be sensed by the five senses), but Hebrew is a concrete oriented language where each word is associated with something that can be sensed by one or more of the five senses. Each of these Hebrew words have their own nuance of meaning that can aid in interpreting the passages they are found in.

Chasah strong’s #2620
Psalm 18:2, “YHWH [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my Elohim, my strength, in whom I will trust”

This word has the meaning of “to lean on someone or something”. If you are hiking with a group of your friends and you sprain your ankle, you are going to lean on one of your companions to help you out of the wilderness. Elohim is the one that we lean on when things get tough. We can also lean on our friends and family for support as well.

Betach strong’s #982
Psalm 56:4, “In Elohim I will praise his word, in Elohim I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”

This word has the more concrete meaning of “to cling”. A related word, avatiyach (#20) is a melon which clings to the vine. Even though the melon is huge, just as our problems seem to be, the vine is very small. We may not see Elohim but, his is our strength, the one who nourishes us just as the vine nourishes the melon.

Yachal strong’s #3176
Isaiah 51:5, “My righteousness [is] near; my salvation is gone forth, and mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon me, and on mine arm shall they trust.”

 This word is usually translated as hope but it does not mean to wonder if something will happen and “hope” it does but, to “know” that something will happen in the future. We do not hope that Elohim will protect us, we “know” he will. In the above passage the concrete image of holding onto Elohim’s arm for support can be seen but, the word arm (zeroah) is a Hebraic euphemism (using one word to mean something else) for “strength”. This passage is saying that the people will know that Elohim’s strength will save them.

Aman strong’s #539
Psalms 78:22, “Because they believed not in Elohim, and trusted not in his salvation”
The word aman means to “be firm”. When setting up a tent you always choose “firm” soil to drive in your tent pegs so that when the wind blows, the tent pegs will not be pulled out of the ground collapsing your tent (see Is 22:23 where the word aman is translated as “sure” in the KJV). This word is the verb form of the word “amen”. When we say “amen”, we are literally saying I stand firm on this prayer”

We must trust YHWH. To trust Him means to put confidence in Him, to believe firmly. This is the lesson YHWH wants to teach us about rain and Sukkot. Our trust/faith in YHWH is what brings the rain – the solution to our problems. We can’t toil or worry for rain and we shouldn’t toil and worry about life. Being upset; being anxious; being fearful; being tense; is SIN. Such behavior causes our life to be full stress and eventually disease. When we worry, when we fret we are actually limiting YHWH’s power. We are stopping His rain from coming in to our lives!

Matthew 6:25-31, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how Elohim clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?”

A person can’t add time to their life by worry but you sure can take away time from your life! When we worry or when we are upset our body produces chemicals and acids that cause our stomach to sour, our blood pressure to rise, our nerves to become raw, and our day to go bad. We must choose to not be fearful. We must choose to trust YHWH and PRAY. One answer to anxiety is to pray in faith. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to Elohim. 7And the peace of Elohim, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Messiah Y’shua,” Philippians 4:7-8. You can’t make it rain. You can’t make your husband change his ways. You can’t rescue your family. You can’t stop the persecution. You can’t change your mother. You can’t be the savior of your friends. You can’t make it rain. You can’t stop the boss from being rude. You can’t change your past. You can’t make your kids behave. You can’t make a new house appear. You can’t …

What you can do is PRAY to YHWH and TRUST YHWH and then accept His peace. You can change you. This change MUST start with accepting YHWH’s faithfulness. YHWH can handle your pain. YHWH can solve your problems. YHWH can change people. Your part is to trust YHWH and pray for the rain.

Water or rain in the Bible represents truth. Rain is truth in any given situation. We must be obedient to what YHWH has shown us and then trust Him for the harvest.

“Messiah loved the Church and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and CLEANSE it with the WASHING of WATER by the word.” Ephesians 5:25, 26

“Whosoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” John 4:14

“The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” Isaiah 57:20

“The abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.” Isaiah 60:5

Here’s the problem – we may pray for YHWH to move or for our lives to change but THEN our actions are in total disregard for our prayers. The rain – the change that we need in our lives doesn’t come because we aren’t living in truth. We ask for a miracle but we don’t have the faith to see such appear. Our lack of sanctification stops the blessings of YHWH. Think about ecosystems. You can’t harm one ecosystem without harming others. We can’t pray for healing and then continue to worry. We can’t pray for people and continue to nag or frustrate them. We can’t pray for relief and continue to place ourselves in danger.

Remember that the early rains in Israel are for the fruit. We need YHWH’s rain to produce the fruit of the Spirit. When we totally trust YHWH THEN and only THEN can we walk in the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.

We must match our prayers with our actions. Hosea 10:12-15, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek YHWH, Till He comes and rains righteousness on you. You have plowed wickedness; You have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, Because you trusted in your own way, In the multitude of your mighty men. Therefore tumult shall arise among your people, And all your fortresses shall be plundered As Shalman plundered Beth Arbel in the day of battle- A mother dashed in pieces upon her children. Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, Because of your great wickedness. At dawn the king of Israel Shall be cut off utterly.”

There is a parable about two farmers who desperately needed rain. Both farmers prayed for rain but only one of them went out and prepared his fields to receive the rain. Which one trusted Elohim to send the rain? YHWH will send the rain when He is ready. We must also be ready and have our fields prepared to receive from YHWH. We prepare our fields by study, prayer, fellowship with other believers, and listening to the voice of the Ruach.

There is direct correlation between our actions; our trusting; and the rain of the Spirit. This connection ties end time events to this message of trust. During the millennial kingdom, when Y’shua reigns upon this earth for 1,000 years, the entire world will keep the Torah. The earth will change after the tribulation and all of humanity will be dependent upon the rain from YHWH. Those who choose not to follow the Torah will not have rain. They will not have a harvest and they will suffer famine until they die. Those who do not keep Sukkot will face a famine of rain. Zechariah 14:18-19, “And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which YHWH afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Festival of Sukkot. This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”

To read this passage in context is to experience an alarming realization of the power in trusting in YHWH. Those who do not trust in Him during the End Times will face a plague of panic. Some will die as their hearts fail them. Others will suffer a famine from their disobedience. Those who cling to YHWH will be blessed. During the end of days and today, it is feast or famine. Zechariah 14:1-19, “Behold, a day is coming for YHWH, when the spoil taken from you will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses plundered and the women raped. Half of the city shall go out into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then YHWH will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal. And you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then YHWH my Elohim will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there shall be no light, cold, or frost. And there shall be a unique day, which is known to YHWH, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter. And YHWH will be king over all the earth. On that day YHWH will be one and his name one. The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft on its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. And it shall be inhabited, for there shall never again be a decree of utter destruction. Jerusalem shall dwell in security. And this shall be the plague with which YHWH will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. And on that day a great panic from YHWH shall fall on them, so that each will seize the hand of another, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other. Even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. And a plague like this plague shall fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, the donkeys, and whatever beasts may be in those camps. Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, YHWH of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, YHWH of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which YHWH afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths.”

Shemini Atzeret is the eight day of assembly. This is the last and 8th day of Sukkot. The number eight is the number of new life. We can have a new life if and only if we will trust YHWH for the rain. Trusting YHWH and walking in obedience results in blessings of rain (whateer rain is for you.) When we chose to not have faith or obedience we will face famine. A person who keeps the Feasts of YHWH will be blessed. Those who chose not to trust in YHWH will face the repercutions of such decisions. The theme of Shemini Atzeret is trust. We need to learn to trust YHWH and follow His commands. As we put our faith in YHWH the rain, our needs will be met and we will be blessed. Its feast or famine – the choice’ the trust – is yours.

By Daniel Rendelman

Torah Portion Ha’azinu

Torah Portion Ha’azinu

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This Week’s Teaching


Parasha Ha’azinu

  • Deuteronomy 32:1-52
  • 2 Samuel 22:1-51
  • Romans 10:17-11:12, 12:19, 15:9-10

The Torah Portion at a Glance

The greater part of the Torah reading of Ha’azinu (“Listen In”) consists of a 70-line “song” delivered by Moses to the people of Israel on the last day of his earthly life.

Calling heaven and earth as witnesses, Moses exhorts the people to “Remember the days of old / Consider the years of many generations / Ask your father, and he will recount it to you / Your elders, and they will tell you” how YHWH “found them in a desert land,” made them a people, chose them as His own, and bequeathed them a bountiful land. The Song also warns against the pitfalls of plenty — “Yeshurun grew fat and kicked / You have grown fat, thick and rotund / He forsook YHWH who made him / And spurned the Rock of his salvation” — and the terrible calamities that would result, which Moses describes as YHWH “hiding His face.” Yet in the end, he promises, YHWH will avenge the blood of His servants and be reconciled with His people and land.

The Parasha concludes with YHWH’s instruction to Moses to ascend the summit of Mount Nebo, from which he will behold the Promised Land before dying on the mountain. “For you shall see the land opposite you; but you shall not go there, into the land which I give to the children of Israel.

The Messiah in the Torah Portion

Moshe declares the words of the Almighty in his second song of the Torah.  The first song of Moshe is found in Exodus 15 and is a celebration of deliverance.  This tune is more of a warning and a prophetic call to Bnai Yisrael – the children of Israel.  “YHWH will judge, and avenge, time of the last days! Vengeance is mine says YHWH,” Deuteronomy 32:35-43.  This quote from the song speaks of the judgment and vengeance of YHWH against Israel and the enemies of the nation.

Heaven and earth will be two witnesses against the nation as it moves away from YHWH and His Torah.  “And when many disasters and difficulties come upon them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath,” Deuteronomy 31:21.

Because of YHWH’s faithfulness the nation of Israel is able to survive apostasy and judgment.  YHWH chose the nation to be a light and salt to the earth but their sin caused their light to diminish and their reputation to loose flavor.  The wages of sin had to be paid and paid it was by the Messiah Y’shua.

Israel did not face all of the punishment they deserved because of the life and sacrifice of Y’shua.

“Definitely then YHWH was in Moshiach, restoring the olam to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them; and has committed to us the word of restoration.  Now then we are ambassadors for the Moshiach, as though Elohim is asking you through us: we beg you on Moshiach’s behalf, be restored to YHWH.  For He has made Him to be the sin sacrifice for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the tzedeka of YHWH in Him,” Corinthiyah Bet / 2 Corinthians 5:19-21.

Applying the Portion to Life Today

“Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past.  Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you,” Devarim 32:7.  These words are found in our current parasha titled Ha’azinu.  This is the next to last Torah portion of scripture that is usually read during the synagogue service held on the Sabbath between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur.  It is on this Shabbat that most Rabbis give a stirring sermon on the effects of sin and the need for repentance.

This Sabbath is aptly called “Shabbat Shuvah” or the “Sabbath of Turning.”  With this weekly reading mankind is called to turn from a life of sin and return to life with YHWH.  This parasha, with the song of Moshe in it, calls Yisra’el to remember what YHWH has done, turn from rebellion, and return to YHWH.  This is similar to the words of Y’shua in Revelation, “Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first,” 2:5.

With the busyness of life, we need a time when we can stop and reflect upon life.  This Shabbat is such a time.  The High Holy days of this season are also such times.  Shabbat Shuvah occurs during the Ten Days of Awe, the space between the Feast of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement.  Judaism teaches that it is during these days that the habits of life and spirituality are formed for the next year.  During these days of introspection, repentance, and awe we should do as our parasha says and “remember the days of old; consider the generations long past.”  We should “ask our Abba” and let him tell us about how life was meant to be.  We need to research our past, reject our pagan society, and accept the Torah lifestyle as taught within the Scriptures.  We ought to “hate what is evil; cling to what is tov,” Romans 12:9.

Our culture in general, doesn’t inquire about the past.  Few study history.  Even fewer know about church history.  “Ignorance is bliss” for the majority of people that warm pews.   Yet the scriptures tell us to “study to show ourselves approved.”  “This is what YHWH says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.  But you said, ‘We will not walk in it,’ Yermi’yahu 6:16.

The truth is out there; it just remains to be found by most people.  It is sad that millions of people had to be exposed to the pagan roots of the church through a murder and mystery book by Dan Brown.  Brown simply wouldn’t have much of a plot if everyone knew the truth.

Another book that brings much enlightenment was written over 100 years ago by the Rev. Alexander Hislop.  Hislop’s work is titled “The Two Babylons” and reveals the basis for a faith that has been lived out by millions of Catholic and Christian believers for centuries.  The Two Babylons reveals the pagan elements in Christian worship and culture.  This book proves that much of Christian theology from Christmas to Sunday worship to the sign of the cross has evil pagan roots.  “In the unity of that one Only YHWH of the Babylonians, there were three persons, and to symbolize that doctrine of the Trinity, they employed, as the discoveries of Layard prove, the equilateral triangle, just as it is well known the Romish Church does at this day.  In both cases such a comparison is most degrading to the King Eternal, and is fitted utterly to pervert the minds of those who contemplate it, as if there was or could be any similitude between such a figure and Him Who hath said, ‘To whom will you liken (Elohim), and what likeness will you compare unto Him?’”  The Two Babylon’s, pgs. 16, 17.

This book was first published as a pamphlet in 1853 and was greatly expanded in 1858.  Since then it has angered and astonished believers all over the world.    The pagan roots of church worship is exposed with clarity as Hislop writes from a lifetime of research.  “The Two Babylons” can be downloaded for free at or can be purchased at most bookstores.  It is an interesting read for all truth seekers because of the facts and information it presents.  You definitely won’t find the text of Hislop’s book in the “Baptist Faith and Message.”  These books are not alone in their expose of the emet about the days of past.  There are tons of web sites, blogs, articles, and teachers who have researched and revealing the truth.

Do you question what has been taught to you or do you soak up everything the preacher says like a sponge?  Have you ever read “The Two Babylons” or “Finding the Truth” or any the other books that reveal the pagan roots of various faiths?  Do you follow the torah and “remember the days of old; consider the generations long past,” Devarim 32:7.  IF so, then continue to learn.  If not then it is time to “ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you,” Devarim 32:7.

Torah Revealed

Recently a Tennessee judge made a rare decision regarding a child. The judge was ruling about the paternity of a young boy which included a request to determine the child’s last name. The Child Support Magistrate changed the baby’s last name and his first name. The judge was upset that the young boy was originally named “Messiah.” She told the press “The word messiah is a title, and it’s a title has only been earned by one person, and that one person is Jesus Christ.” The given name was an affront to the judge, even though religious names have become a norm. Muslims often name their child “Mohammad” and Catholics often give “Jesus” as a first name.

Names can indeed be tricky. Take for instance the name of our movement of believers. We often say that we are Messianic or Israelites or Nazarenes. Of course these titles just bring more confusion as most people don’t know what these words mean. Perhaps the best description to give is to explain that we study and observe the Hebrew Roots of the Bible.

The Hebrew Roots movement as a growing force of folks that forsake common Christian practices in search of the Bible based faith that is rooted in the Hebrew lifestyle and scriptures. Thus, we are called the “Jewish Roots” movement or the “Hebrew Roots” movement. These terms fit nicely. (It’s certainly better than naming a baby “Messiah!”) When we describe our faith it is easy to explain that we teach and learn about the “Jewish Roots of Christianity.” We should be quick to point out that we are not trying to be Jewish but we are trying to grow in our relationship with the Jewish Savior. As we learn the customs, language, and lifestyle of the Bible we can more truthfully know our Messiah. Our movement is in search of the forgotten Hebrew Roots – a worship experience in spirit and in truth.

The word “root” has special meaning. A root is a deep foundation of a plant. Roots are hidden down below the surface are often hard to discover. Roots must be dug out and this takes effort. Our Hebrew roots are the same. We must look past the surface of the accepted ways of religion and dig into our Bibles to really get to the root of the issues. As we go deeper into the Scriptures we can easily find that we are part of the Olive tree of Israel. This doesn’t mean that we are Jewish. The hidden root of our faith is an Israeli olive tree, comprised of Abraham’s seed.

Understand this – if you are born again – if you have accepted the Messiah as your Master and Savior, then you are NOT just a New Testament Christian. You are not just a Baptist or Methodist or Pentecostal. No! All who call upon the Savior in true repentance and faith are Israelites. You are an Israelite. All that is written in the Scriptures about Israel is really about you. Galatians says, “If you belong to Messiah then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” It is in Jeremiah 11:16, that YHWH identifies the Olive Tree as the symbol of Israel.

Hosea prophesies that in the end-time Israel shall once again be restored and its “branches shall spread; his beauty shall be like an olive tree” Hosea 14:6. In the Newer Testament, Paul uses this same analogy for Israel. Romans 11:16-21, “For if the Firstfruit is holy, the lump also is holy, and if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches (of Israel, the Olive tree) were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them, and became partaker with them of the root of the richness of the olive tree; don’t boast over the branches. But if you boast, it is not you who bear the root, but the root you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.” True; by their unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by your faith. Don’t be conceited, but fear; for if Elohim didn’t spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you.” This is not some anti-sematic rant of Paul against the Jews. Instead, Paul is explaining that because of their sin the entire nation of Israel were separated from YHWH. By faith we can ALL be grafted back into the common wealth of Israel.

Lew White of Fossilized Customs has written, “We are going to see individuals within many Christian congregations learn they are the lost sheep of the House of Israel in the coming years, as they move toward the Torah, learn the Name, and realize who they are in Y’shua. They will receive a love for the Torah (the Truth, YHWH’s Word), which is inviting Y’shua to write the 10 Commandments on their heart, which is the New Covenant (or re-newed Covenant). They will engraft into Israel, by being immersed into the New Covenant (or re-newed Covenant), and know they are branches (Natsarim) in the olive tree (the natural olive tree, Israel – Romans 11 – we don’t remain “wild” olive branches, but are engrafted into the natural one.” One verse from Isaiah 27 is telling when it prophecies, “He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.”

Being grafted into the vine is what occurs to all believers. We are the branches and the vine is Y’shua. Jewish people who accept Y’shua are grafted in and non-Jewish people are grafted in. We are part of the olive tree of Israel. We have a rich heritage and an identity found in the Scriptures. This is what Time magazine wrote about in 2008! With this knowledge of Torah we must begin to learn how an Israelite it so act, talk, worship, love, eat, dress, and more. This, in essence, is the Hebrew Roots movement in a nutshell. However, too many times we think that our faith is all about Judaism OR we consider that our faith is all about being ANTI-Christian. No. Our faith is about Hebrew Roots – SPECIFIALLY – our faith is about THE Hebrew Root Y’shua. Our relationship with THE Hebrew root is most important! Take this passage from Isaiah 11 into consideration, “A shoot will come out of the stock of Jesse, and a branch out of his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of YHWH will rest on him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of YHWH.” This verse correlates with Revelation 5:5, “Don’t weep. Behold, the Lion who is of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome; he who opens the book and its seven seals.”

A study of the Jewish Roots of Christianity; a study of the Hebrew Roots of the Bible; is a study of Y’shua. A study of the Torah is a study of Y’shua. It’s all about Y’shua. We must be cautious to guard our faith from being focused on anything other than Messiah Y’shua. He is the root! We are the branches. By faith in Y’shua we are grafted into the Y’shua. That indeed is the beauty of the Hebrew roots movement. Revelation 22:16, “I, Y’shua, have sent my angel to testify these things to you for the assemblies. I am the root and the offspring of David; the Bright and Morning Star.”

The book of Deuteronomy gives us a repetition of Torah instructions and commandments. In the double Torah portion Netzvaim – Vayehkel we are reminded that the Middle East is the chosen land for the chosen people. If the Israelites obey and follow YHWH’s leading then the Land will welcome them and be fruitful for them. When the people rebel the Land will reject the Hebrews in a violent manner. The verses in this section of Devarim read like a historical account of the nation of Israel. Disobedience brings exile. Stuck in the middle of this warning against sin is an almost out of context passage that deserves our attention. Read this passage from the Torah portion and pay special attention to the underlined verse…

“Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with YHWH, a covenant YHWH is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your Elohim / God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of YHWH but also with those who are not here today. You yourselves know how we lived in Egypt and how we passed through the countries on the way here. You saw among them their detestable images and idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold. Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from YHWH to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison.”

The Torah tells us that the covenant with Israel includes a warning against evil roots of idolatry and spiritual adultery. Our worship of YHWH must not be mixed with roots of falsehood. This is alluded to in Leviticus 19:19 when YHWH says, “You shall observe My statutes: You shall not crossbreed your livestock with different species. You shall not sow your field with a mixture of seeds, and a garment which has a mixture of shaatnez fabrics shall not come upon you.”

We have been guilty of violating this commandment. Even though we are not farmers, we have mixed many seeds and creating a hybrid faith. We are not to wear items made of wool and linen nor are we to put two types of animals in a yoke together. Mixture is not good! Sadly, we have planted two types of seeds together. The garden of our soul has roots that are all intertwined. We are guilty of violating Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 29.

It is easy to get involved with the Hebrew Roots movement without uprooting the other trees in our gardens. The seeds of Torah knowledge have been cast upon the top soil of our broken and tattered lives. We’ve actually violated the very Torah that we are striving to learn. The only remedy is to take an ax to every evil root. The soil of our souls needs to be overturned and our hearts must be cleansed BEFORE the true Hebrew Root Y’shua can have true power in our lives.

It’s in the very last Torah portion, titled “Haazinu,” that a song is delivered by Moshe that calls heaven and earth to bear witness to Israel’s identity. Here in this reading we are reminded of our calling to seek and search out the roots of our faith. “Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you. When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For YHWH’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance,” Deuteronomy 34. The Torah portion also foretells the restoration of the nation of Israel in the Holy Land. Such blessing only comes after we “remember the days of old.” Today, we must step away from our Bible knowledge and comfortable doctrines to seek truth.

Remember Mark 6:4-6 – “Y’shua said to them, ‘Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.’ He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. And He was amazed at their lack of faith.” This tells us that Y’shua could not do many miracles in the town of Nazareth because of the people. This story is in reference to everyone in the Hebrew roots movement. Nazereth was a Jewish town. It was also the town that Y’shua grew up in. The people there knew him well. They had a casual knowledge of the son of Joseph and Mary. This relaxed and informal relationship stopped the power of YHWH from working in their lives. We are no different. Our comfortable faith (be it full of Torah study or not) stops the power of YHWH from working in our lives because it is a mixture of truth and falsehood. Such mixture is dangerous. It’s as dangerous as planting broccoli and cauliflower in a garden right beside each other. We are not to mix seeds. Our faith should not be troubled with weeds of our old lives. What lies behind needs to be forgotten.

There are some roots that need to be dug out. The process isn’t easy. It takes work to get a root out – you can’t just rake the ground on the surface. But, until we get the sinful roots out of our lives, the Torah, the Sacred Name, or any of the commandments will do us little good. YHWH wants to uproot the sin and idols in our lives.

The Hebrew word for “problem” reveals to us much – ba’ayah – yah is at the end of all of our problems and pain. He can take what was intended for evil and make it good. The pain and hurts in our lives will end with the glory of YHWH if we focus on Him and Him alone. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things!”–Phil.4:8. Whenever negative thoughts, criticisms or resentments come to your mind, you should right away dismiss such thoughts. The easiest way to prevent something from growing in your garden is to not let it get sown or planted there in the first place! And the best way to prevent any roots from springing up in your life is to not let any bitter, critical or negative seeds find their way into the garden of your mind and heart. This means you’ve got to guard your thoughts and resist the Devil when he tries to sow his evil seeds and thoughts in your mind! “Ye that love YHWH, hate evil!”–Psa.97:10. Friend, a good gardener has got to not only love flowers, but he needs to hate weeds as well. “This principle aptly applies to you and the “garden” of your heart. Regardless of how justified you may feel about holding on to any hurts or resentments or wounds from your past, if you are a wise gardener at all, you’ll believe the Master Gardener’s Manual and its stern warnings about bitterness, and you’ll realize that you must do all that you possibly can to rid your plot of this deadly root!–Lest your garden be absolutely overrun, destroyed and defiled by this horrible, nagging, choking weed,” unknown source.

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you!”–Eph. 4:31.

Because a root of bitterness or sin can easily blossom into a big tree, we need to up uproot some misunderstandings, problems and issues.

First, let’s discuss the purpose of our faith and the purpose of our spiritual family. Did YHWH just save us so we could have eternal life? Are we learning about our Hebrew roots just so we can make Jewish people jealous of our Torah keeping? What is the real reason we believe?

We were created by YHWH to live in His presence and experience his favor. It was only mankind that was made in His image and only mankind can have an intimate relationship with him. YHWH created the world and said “it is good” and when he created man and woman YHWH said “it is very good.” As the crown of his creation mankind was given the task to represent YHWH to the entire world. We were told to have dominion, power, and multiplicity. We are supposed to enjoy our relationship with Him and share His goodness with all of creation. This is a pretty simple concept. Enjoy his favor and extend his greatness. Abraham was set apart and called out of his home and family to have relationship with YHWH. From Abraham every nation in the entire world would be blessed. It is in Genesis 12 that we see YHWH blessing Abraham saying, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. All peoples on earth will be blessed by you.” This amazing promise finds its fulfillment NOT in the Jewish people but in the Jewish Messiah Y’shua. From Y’shua every nation is blessed because every tribe and tongue can join covenant relationship with the Almighty. Abraham was to be a blessing to the world through his faith and righteousness. We are Abraham’s children and “heirs according to the promise.” Like the prophets, priests, and kings of Israel of old we are to extend the kingdom of YHWH throughout every kingdom in this world.

We can read of the culmination of Abraham’s blessing in Revelation 7:9-10 which includes the participation of every tribe and tongue blessing YHWH. This quote from Revelation is about the end of days after the battle of Armageddon and the rise of the Anti-christ. All of the eschatological events end with every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that Y’shua is master.

If this is Abraham’s calling and if this is what really matters in the end, then shouldn’t we be about the same? Is our faith to be focused on Israel, kabbalah, gematria, the nuances of the Hebrew language, calendars, or should we be focused on the greatness of our Messiah?

Today, too much time and attention is given to conspiracy theories and end times scenarios. We focus on the minutia and miss the mountains. Admit it. Everyday, your email is full of ideas about the Illuminati or martial law. Again, this is another root we must dig up. Our attention should not be placed on end times what ifs! Instead, we need to focus on the end time action of Matthew 24:14. This verse gives us a promise – not a theory – about when Y’shua will return. “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations and then the end will come,” Matthew 24:14. The end of the world will come when the message of our magnificent Messiah goes to the ends of the earth. Consider that in the country of Afghanistan there are 26 million Muslims and 14,000 Christians. Should we trying to convert these 14,000 born again Christians to the Messianic faith or should we be praying for and reaching out to the 26 million unbelievers who will spend eternity separated from YHWH? Consider the millions of Christians in America as well. Do all of these lost souls really care about our endtimes ideas or the latest Illuminati theory?

The Newer Testament tells the story of a rich young Torah keeper. He knew his Hebrew roots well and was obedient to the Scriptures. He had a root problem though. His obedience was mixed with greed and lust. Hidden beneath his Torah keeping were ulterior motives and pride. “A man ran up to Y’shua and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Y’shua said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except YHWH alone. You know the commandments, ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.” Looking at him, Y’shua felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property.

We should heed the warning the Messiah gave in this parable. Our Hebrew Roots are only important if they are connected to the genuine Vine. The Savior’s life in us will bear much fruit if we stay connected and abide in His presence. Y’shua said, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing,” John 15:4, 5. Just imagine that same Tennessee judge ruling that all people must seek the true Messiah as the Root of Jesse. This could really change the world.

Portion Points to Ponder

  • The Hebrew name for this portion is “Ha’azinu.”  What does this name mean?
  • Read 2 Samuel 22:1-51.  How does this relate to the story of Devarim this week?
  • Consider the words found in Romans 10:17-11:12, 12:19 and 15:9-10.  What did you learn from studying these passages?
  • How does this Torah portion speak of the Messiah Y’shua?
  • Why were heaven and earth specifically chosen as witnesses?
  • How is the Torah like rain?
  • How is YHWH “faithful without injustice”?
  • Why is YHWH called “tzaddik”?
  • How many major floods did YHWH bring upon the world?
  • What group of people does the Torah call “fathers”? Cite an example.
  • Why did YHWH separate the world’s nations into exactly 70?
  • Why is the merit of the Hebrew People’s ancestry called a “rope”?
  • How is YHWH’s behavior toward the Hebrew People like an eagle’s behavior toward its offspring?
  • Regarding the Hebrew People’s punishment, YHWH says, “I will spend my arrows on them.” What is the positive aspect of this phrase?
  • How does the idea of “chillul YHWH” prevent the nations from destroying the Hebrew People?
  • What will happen to the nations that conquer the Hebrew People?
  • When YHWH overturns a nation that persecutes the Hebrew People, His attribute of Mercy is “replaced” by which attribute?
  • When YHWH punishes the heathen nations, for whose sins does He exact punishment?
  • How will YHWH’s punishment change the way the nations view the Hebrews? On what day was Ha’azinu taught to the Hebrew People?
  • Verse 32:44 calls Y’hoshua “Hoshea.” Why?
  • In verse 32:47, what does “it is not empty from you” mean?
  • Why did YHWH tell Moshe that he would die a similar death to that of Aharon?
  • If Moshe had spoken to the rock rather than striking it, what would the Hebrew People have learned?
  • In this week’s Parsha, Moshe sings YHWH’s praises to the Hebrew people.  In the beginning of their 40-year journey, he sang another song to them. Where and when did that take place?
  • What is the basic difference between the two songs?
  • What symbol is most used to describe YHWH in Moshe’s song?
  • Moshe tells the people that they are in a terrible condition; that in order to know how to return to YHWH’s ways, they need to know what those ways are. How did he suggest they find out?
  • Moshe says that YHWH guided Yaakov and that he followed no strange gods. He says YHWH made Yaakov suck honey out of the crag and oil out of the flinty rock. What do you think this means?
  • What is the significance to us of the verse – “But Yeshurun waxed fat, and kicked – Thou didst wax fat, thou didst grow thick, thou didst become gross – And he forsook YHWH who made him”?
  • Why did YHWH change his mind about destroying the Hebrews? Who was alongside Moshe when he sang his song to the people?
  • After Moshe finished his song, he charged the people with what order?
  • Where did YHWH tell Moshe to go to be gathered unto his people?
  • Moshe was not allowed to enter the land because he failed to sanctify YHWH in the midst of the Hebrew people by doing what where?
  • What did you learn from this Open Bible teaching?

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