Bits of Torah Truths, Chag Succot, The Expectation of Something Great
This week’s reading for Chol HaMo’ed Sukkot (Shemot / Exodus 33:12-34:26), is taken from the end of Parashat Ki Tisa. In this section of Scripture, Moshe has asked the Lord God to forgive the sins of the Children of Israel for their sin with the golden calf. While requesting for forgiveness, Moshe asks the Lord to reveal Himself and His glory. The Lord commands Moshe to make two stone tablets like the previous ones and He will write on them the words that were on the previous set of Tablets. Moshe demonstrates for us this week the importance of knowing God according to His ways in his statement saying, ‘Now therefore, I pray You, if I have found favor in Your sight, let me know Your ways that I may know You, so that I may find favor in Your sight. Consider too, that this nation is Your people.’ (NASB) It appears that knowing the ways of God causes us to know our Father in heaven. There is knowing the way God moves (operates) that describes His character, or who He is. Based upon Moshe’s statement, having found favor in the Lord’s eyes, he desires to know the Lord in a more intimate way by knowing his ways. How does knowing God’s ways bring us intimately closer to him? Could this be explained by reason that man’s ways are sin, the Lord’s ways are righteous, sin causes separation, righteousness causes closeness? If we walk in His ways He walks with us? (See the commentary on Tehillim / Psalms 49, Part 2) The Scripture reading for this week reveals to us the order of obedience; we have found favor in God’s eyes because He loves us, and because of the Messiah Yeshua. Now, we obey the Lord so that we can walk by faith, walk by the spirit in His favor, His love, and His blessing. According to the Scriptures, we remember Succot because the Lord God took care of our fathers in the wilderness, and in like manner, He will also take care of our needs today in this present age.
ספר שמות פרק לד
י וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי כֹּרֵת בְּרִית נֶגֶד כָּל-עַמְּךָ אֶעֱשֶֹה נִפְלָאֹת אֲשֶׁר לֹא-נִבְרְאוּ בְכָל-הָאָרֶץ וּבְכָל-הַגּוֹיִם וְרָאָה כָל-הָעָם אֲשֶׁר-אַתָּה בְקִרְבּוֹ אֶת-מַעֲשֵֹה יְהוָֹה כִּי-נוֹרָא הוּא אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי עֹשֶֹה עִמָּךְ:
Shemot / Exodus 34:10
34:10 And he said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you. (NASB)
In this week’s reading from Parashat Ki Tisa, we find Shemot / Exodus 34:10 where the Lord speaks to the children of Israel saying that He is making a covenant with the people, and that He will do great marvels, He will do such things that no one has seen before in all the earth. The Lord is not just making a promise of the covenant, He is also telling Israel they are unique, and that He is going to do an awesome thing in their lives. Isn’t that awesome if you consider that the Lord seeks to do the same in your life? These Scriptures from the books of Moshe are very important and definitely have an application for our lives today.
Studying the Torah, it is possible to find a lot of prophetic meaning that describes the work and plan of our Father in Heaven and what He is revealing to His people, how He directs our attention to His Messiah in the sacrificial system. For example, in Parashat Behukotai (Vayikra / Leviticus 26:3-27:34) the Lord speaks about doing something unique by establishing His covenant in a way that only He can do to walk in our midst so that He will be our God and we will be His people. If we think about this, it is a very miraculous thing that is being described here, the Lord appears to be describing something about our relationship with Him that draws us back to the context of the Creation in Bereshit / Genesis 1-3, when the Lord walked in the garden and communed with Adam and Eve. There is something about this miraculous change in our relationship with God that will reset our condition back to the initial state that was found in בגן עדן the Garden of Eden. This begs the question, “What is the Lord planning on doing?” with a tone of an future expectation of the miraculous.
For many people though this is not the type of understanding that is taken while reading and studying the Torah. For example, some scholars have stated that “virtually all of the major books written on Old Testament theology say very little about a messianic hope and when such books do speak of the messianic hope they do so in a very round about way touching at points but not explicitly.” (Brueggemann, W., Old Testament Theology in a Canonical Context By Brevard S. Childs Philadelphia, Fortress, 1985. 255 pp. Theology Today, 1986. 43, pp. 284-287). Other authors suggest that “the Messiah is a later addition to the rabbinic literature as a result of the move away from the Temple service and focus more upon apocalyptic themes that are found following the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.” (Neusner, J., Mishnah and Messiah. Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Theology, 1984. 14, pp. 3-11). This idea is taken from the presupposition that the texts of the Tanach say very little about a messianic hope. The important point is, there are factors that affect the issue of understanding the “Messianic hope” that is revealed to us in the Torah and also in the Prophets and Writings sections of the Tanach. The methods that have been used by scholars to interpret the text of the Hebrew bible have a considerable impact upon one’s understanding. For instance, the person who comes believing that Yeshua is the Messiah will find every other verse in the scriptures that support that presupposition. On the other hand, those who reject Yeshua as God’s Messiah are able to find scriptures to back up their claims as well. The attitude to the subject of the Messianic expectation in the Tanach reflects strongly on the personal presupposition that has been established in the mind of the expositor. Every biblical scholar brings to their studies a defined theology that influences their perspective of Scripture. With this in mind, every person who reads the bible is a “Bible interpreter” to a greater or lesser extent. As Bible readers (interpreters) it is important to find the meaning and intent of the author (in the Hebrew texts) by studying the words, phrases, and sentences, of the original languages as well as within the larger context and the historical and cultural setting of when the Scriptures were written. Our goal should be to discover the truth of the Scriptures outside of our own self imposed traditions and presuppositions (i.e. Greco-Roman philosophy). What is it that the Lord God Almighty is trying to tell us in His Torah with the future expectation of doing the miraculous?
The key verses in the Torah that explain to us what the Lord God Almighty is seeking to do in our lives is found here in Parashat Ki Tisa and Vayikra / Leviticus 34:10. This might be the reason why this portion of Scripture is used for the read for Succot. The Lord has plans to do something miraculous that has never been seen before. The Lord singles us out as His beloved people through whom He is going to perform these miracles. The Lord says וַהֲקִימֹתִי אֶת-בְּרִיתִי אִתְּכֶם “I will establish/raise up my covenant with you,” today’s verse is a repetition of what He has promised before again and again (Bereshit / Genesis 6:18, 9:8-17, 17:7). Following this statement the Lord says that He will make his dwelling among His people and walk among them saying וְהָיִיתִי לָכֶם לֵֽאלֹהִים וְאַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ־לִי לְעָֽם “and I will be their God and they will be my people.” These scriptures are very significant for understanding all of the Torah, the Word of God, God’s plan of redemption, and His Messiah. How will God establish His covenant in such a way that based on our verses (Vayikra / Leviticus 34:10) will be the miraculous? What is He going to do to cause Himself to walk and dwell in our midst?
From these Scriptures, we also find over and over again the theme that God is drawing mankind to Himself by His mercy and grace. From the very beginning we learned in the Scriptures that God walked in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day following His creation according to Bereshit / Genesis 3:8. According to the account, Adam and Eve, 3:8 They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (NASB) The Lord was revealing Himself to us using human characteristics or attributes (anthropomorphisms) by describing how Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden. The Masoretic text provides in straight forward terms a description of how God’s Annointed one will come as a man and inflict a wound upon the enemy of God according Bereshit / Genesis 3:15. (3:15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.’ NASB) Here we find another source text for something the Lord is going to do, a future expectation of the miraculous. Here we find the word זרע is used to refer to “seed,” “offspring,” or “descendents.” It is interesting to note that throughout the Torah, the word זרע is used in the singular form as a noun to refer to offspring with regard to the offspring in the promised line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob according to Bereshit / Genesis 12:7. In addition to this, the majority of the times the singular form of “offspring” is written, it is followed by a singular verb (Compare Bereshit / Genesis 3:15, 13:16, 16:10, 48:19, Bamidbar / Numbers 14:24, Isaiah 53:6, 61:9, Tehilim / Psalms 22:13, 25:13, 37:28, 89:37, 112:2, Mishley / Proverbs 11:21). Studying the use of the word זרע in the Aramaic Targums (Onkelos), for example in Bereshit / Genesis 4:10, is also fascinating in and of itself, The Scriptures say, 4:10 He said, ‘What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground. (NASB) were the Aramaic translation from the Targum Onkelos uses the word זַרְעִין as a reference to Cain’s brother, were “seed” is a designation for an individual as well as for a whole corporate body of people. The flexibility in its usage is well attested in the Torah. The point is that through the use of the word זרע we again are being given a future expectation of the miraculous; Bereshit / Genesis 3:15 references the bruising of the heel to refer to a future “seed” or “descendent” that will strike the enemy (the deceiver). This has classically been interpreted as the promised descendent that will come as God’s Messiah. The Torah text provides us with an early reference to a messianic hope of deliverance from our enemies. Scholars who say there are very little references to a messianic hope are sadly mistaken. The point is that the Lord is revealing to us that those who do the will of the deceiver (Satan) will be the ones doing the bruising and the seed of the woman who bears her image (as a man) will crush the head of the serpent (deceiver). This victory will come in a miraculous way, by the hand of God in and through the seed (the man) against the enemy.
The Scriptures are clear that Yeshua is this seed, the man, who functions as the Passover Lamb of God, whose sacrificial death and shed blood causes the wrath of God to “pass over” those who are trusting in Him (see John 1:29, 3:36, Acts 8:32-36, 1 Corinthians 5:7-8, 1 Peter 1:18-20, etc). The Apostle John says that all of Heaven declares “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!” (Revelation 5:12). The miraculous thing the Lord was planning and revealing to His people is the sacrifice of Yeshua that provides atonement and the resurrection (the miracle) that stands as the justification of His work of salvation on behalf of the sinner making us righteous before the Lord God Almighty. The resurrection reveals that the Lord accepted the sin offering of Yeshua on our behalf (Isaiah 53, Hebrews 9:11-14, 1 Peter 1:18-20, 2:21-25, 2 Corinthians 5:21). The resurrection gives evidence of the Lord God Almighty approved of Yeshua being the Savior of the world and that He is the Son of god. In other words, Yeshua was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead. This is a response to God’s righteousness because the Messiah willingly humbled himself to become our sin offering, the Lord raised Him from the dead and exalted His name forever (Philipians 2:9-11, Acts 4:12). In addition to this, the resurrection is evidence of eternal life. We know that the messiah being raised from the dead will never die again, death no longer has dominion over him. Romans 6:9-10 states that He died to sin once and for all, the life He lives, He lives to God. The resurrection demonstrates God’s victory over death (Acts 2:24-32). In addition to this, the resurrection fulfills various prophetic expectations that are found in the Torah. For example, the Akedah of Isaac (Bereshit / Genesis 22) we are given a picture of the father who was willing to sacrifice his son. Not only did Abraham offer his “only begotten son” upon the altar at Moriah, he also believed in Isaac’s resurrection according to Hebrews 11:17-19. The author of Hebrews provides us with an early rabbinic belief that Abraham believed in the resurrection through the comments in the Book of Hebrews. This is supported by various midrashim that claim Isaac actually was killed upon the altar and his blood became part of the altars coals and then Abraham received him back from the dead. The prophet Job believed in the resurrection of his Redeemer according to Job 19:25. King David foresaw the Messiah’s resurrection when he wrote “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption” (Tehillim / Psalms 16:10). This was in keeping with the prophecy that the line of David would continue forever (see 2 Samuel 7:12-16, Tehillim / Psalms 2:6, 89:27, 110:1, Isaiah 9:6-7, and Daniel 7:14). Isaiah stated that the Messiah would be a light to the nations and would have a worldwide effect (Isaiah 49:6). The prophet Jonah was regarded as a sign or illustration of the Messiah (Matthew 12:39-40, 16:4) and the prophet Hosea similarly alluded to the resurrection (Hosea 6:1-2). Yeshua also foretold of His own death, burial, and resurrection (Matthew 16:21, 20:18-19, Mark 8:31, 9:31, John 2:19-22) saying “Destroy this temple (his body) and in three days I will raise it up.” The resurrection also reveals God’s love and grace. Like the apostle Paul wrote in Romans 5:10, “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.” Because of the resurrection, the Lord has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven and adopted us as His children (Ephesians 1:3-5, 5:1). The Lord God Himself is our advocate and Helper, something David speaks about in his psalms and even the rabbinic literature speaks of with regard to the fires of Gehenna. This is the message that the Lord has for us, a message of love, of power, of righteousness, and truth. With this in mind, we can say, based upon the Torah text from Shemot / Exodus 34:10, that God’s word is truth, the Lord says something and He is going to do it. The Lord spoke to the children of Israel saying that He is making a covenant and that He will do great marvels, He will do such things that no one has seen before in all the earth. The Lord is not just making a promise of the covenant, He is also telling Israel how great He is, and that He is going to do an awesome thing. Isn’t it awesome to see how the Lord as brought victory, life, and miracles in His Messiah Yeshua? Do you believe with expectation that God is going to work miracles in your life? Has the Lord been working in your life in this way? This victory is found in Yeshua the Messiah. If you have not take hold of that truth, it is time that you do. Let’s Pray! BTT_Chol HaMo’ed Sukkot-2014