Bits of Torah Truths, Parashat Vayishlach, What do you think Righteousness is about?

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This weeks reading is from Parashat Vayishlach (Bereshit / Genesis 32:3-36:43).  This week we read that Jacob, before crossing over the river Jordan into Eretz Canaan, wrestles with a man (32:24) and realizes that he has seen God face to face and lived (32:25-31).  God instructs Jacob to go to Bethel and dwell there (35:1).  The Lord appears to Jacob again and confirms his name change from Jacob to Israel (35:9-15).  The Parashah ends with Esav, the land cannot sustain the flocks of both Jacob and Esav, so Esav moves his family and all that he owns away from Jacob (36:1-43).  The opening verses of Parashat Vayishlach reveal to us that at this point in Jacob’s life he is at a major turning point.  Jacob realizes that encountering Esav is inevitable when he returns to Canaan and prepares for meeting his brother.  Jacob calls out to the Lord saying that He is unworthy of God’s grace and truth (32:11).  Jacob encounters God at Peniel (פְּנִיאֵל) and sees God face to face.  The Lord changes Jacob’s name to Israel and strikes his hip changing both who he is and the way he walks.  Has your encounter with God changed you in both who you are and in the way you walk?

כתבי הקודש / The Holy Scriptures

ספר בראשית פרק לב
כה   וַיִּוָּתֵר יַעֲקֹב לְבַדּוֹ וַיֵּאָבֵק אִישׁ עִמּוֹ עַד עֲלוֹת הַשָּׁחַר: כו   וַיַּרְא כִּי לֹא יָכֹל לוֹ וַיִּגַּע בְּכַף-יְרֵכוֹ וַתֵּקַע כַּף-יֶרֶךְ יַעֲקֹב בְּהֵאָבְקוֹ עִמּוֹ: כז   וַיֹּאמֶר שַׁלְּחֵנִי כִּי עָלָה הַשָּׁחַר וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא אֲשַׁלֵּחֲךָ כִּי אִם-בֵּרַכְתָּנִי: כח   וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו מַה-שְּׁמֶךָ וַיֹּאמֶר יַעֲקֹב: כט   וַיֹּאמֶר לֹא יַעֲקֹב יֵאָמֵר עוֹד שִׁמְךָ כִּי אִם-יִשְֹרָאֵל כִּי-שָֹרִיתָ עִם-אֱלֹהִים וְעִם-אֲנָשִׁים וַתּוּכָל:

Bereshit / Genesis 32:24-28
32:24 Then Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 32:25 When he saw that he had not prevailed against him, he touched the socket of his thigh; so the socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated while he wrestled with him. 32:26 Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.’ But he said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ 32:27 So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ 32:28 He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.’ (NASB)

Did you know that “righteousness” is terribly misunderstood in the body of Christ today?  Is righteousness something we do or something we are?  I have heard it said that “you are not righteous because of how moral you are, your level of self control, how many scriptures you read each day, etc,” and “we simply must just believe in Jesus and we are righteous.”  Is this really what the Apostle Paul was saying to the Romans?  Often Romans chapters 3 and 4 are quoted as proof texts for example in Romans 4:14 For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified (NASB) thus “if righteousness can be obtained by our work and effort then faith would become void” and therefore the Law has passed away because we are not to do anything “by the Law.”

Romans 3:27-4:8
3:27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 3:29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 3:30 since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one. 3:31 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 4:2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ 4:4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 4:6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 4:7 ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, And whose sins have been covered. 4:8 ‘Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.’ (NASB)

Some also quote from Romans 10:3 For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. NASB (τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστὸς εἰς δικαιοσύνην παντὶ τῷ πιστεύοντι) and say therefore Christ is the end of the Law, it is gone.  I have even read some say to just believe in Jesus, you are righteous and you do not have to live a righteous life, God’s righteousness will just seep from your pores.  Again I ask, was this what Paul was saying to the Romans?  How does one reconcile Romans 3:31 that we do not nullify the Law through faith rather we establish it?  Having a closer look at Romans 10:3-4, Paul is trying to address the issue of the people not subjecting themselves to the righteousness of God.  They thought they were righteous enough.  Paul says τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστὸς εἰς δικαιοσύνην (telos gar nomou christos eis dikaiosunen) “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.”  The word télos is a neuter noun and translates to mean “the end-goal, purpose” in the sense of “reaching the end (aim).”  The Torah is the aim, the end-goal that directs us to understand Yeshua the Messiah is our righteousness.  How so?  The Law is a school master that trains us in the righteousness of God.  The point is we are unable to reach the goal on our own (we fall short).  We are expected to live both holy and righteous lives; i.e. the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin validating (establishing) the requirements of the Law in our lives.  We then seek the Lord by the power of His Holy Spirit to empower us to produce the fruits of righteousness and faith, the very meaning of faith and works (see James 2:24).  Jacob was touched by God and he walked differently the rest of his life.  Have you been touched by God?  Do you walk differently today in Christ?  As believers, we are to strive for righteousness and holiness in our lives and seeking God, in Yeshua the Messiah, by the power of the Holy Spirit to help us to live in obedience to His Word.  We are not told to declare our righteousness in Christ and go on living as usual.  The Lord calls us to a greater standard, 1 Peter 1:16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” (NASB)  The Torah is not something to run from, it helps us to understand who the Messiah truly is and most importantly that we are in need of a Savior! BTT_Parashat Vayishlach-2013

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Duane D. Miller received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Akron Ohio. He is currently a Chemical Engineering Researcher. Duane’s research expertise has focused upon functional materials development for the control, conversion, and release of process gases in Energy production technologies. His R&D interests include computational chemistry, developing novel technologies for converting biomass to fuels and studying their fundamental interactions during the chemical conversion process. His past experience includes sorbent development for pre- and post-combustion CO2 and SO2 capture, selective absorption of H2S from methane streams, O2 capture for oxy-fuel combustion, photocatalytic reduction of alcohols, NOx reduction catalysis, the development of oxygen carriers to combust fossil fuels (CH4 and coal) for the chemical looping combustion processes, and the extraction of rare earth elements using patent pending sorbents. His research expertise has focused on operando-characterization using Infrared, Raman, and UV-Vis spectroscopy to observe the nature of the catalytic active sites and reaction intermediates under realistic reaction conditions, allowing direct correlation of molecular/electronic structures with catalyst performance during Gas-Solid / Liquid-Solid Adsorption and Photocatalytic Processes with real time online analysis of reaction products using ICP-MS and mass spectrometry. His current work involves a multi-disciplinary approach to developing, understanding, and improving the catalytic gasification of coal and methane, high temperature chemical looping combustion, and the catalytic decomposition and gasification of biomass and coal using novel microwave reactor.​ He has been studying the Hebrew Scriptures and the Torah for 20+ years and sharing what he has learned. The studies developed for MATSATI.COM are freely to be used by everyone, to God be the Glory!