RECOGNITION THE MESSIANIC PROPHECY BIBLE PROJECT http://www.messianicbible.com HEAR O ISRAEL www.hearoisrael.org SHEEPFOLD GLEANINGS WRITTEN BY JULIE PARKER www.sheepfoldgleanings.com MESSIANIC ISRAEL ALLIANCE http://www.messianicisrael.com AZAMRA TORAH FOR OUR TIME – RABBI AVRAHAM GREENBAUM http://www.azamra.org
SHOFTIM “JUDGES” TORAH: Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9 HAFTORAH: Isaiah 51:12–52:12 B’RIT CHADASHAH: John 1:19–27 All references: The Scripture 1998+ unless otherwise noted
APOINT JUDGES “Appoint judges and officers within all your gates, which יהוה your Elohim is giving you, according to your tribes. And they shall judge the people with righteous right-ruling. (Deuteronomy 16:18) This week’s Parsha opens with the Biblical concepts of judges, righteous judgment and justice. The very first word of the Parsha reading is shoftim (judges), which is derived from the word shafat (to judge or to govern). To emphasize the theme of justice, the Hebrew word tzedek (justice) is repeated twice in verse 20: “Follow righteousness, righteousness alone, so that you live and inherit the land which יהוה your Elohim is giving you. (Deuteronomy 16:20) In Hebrew, justice (tzekek) is closely tied to righteousness and holiness. In fact, the words righteous (tzadik) and charity (tzedakah) are related to justice (tzedek).
GOD IS A GOD OF JUSTICE He is called the Lord our Righteousness (יהוהTzidkenu), the Righteous God (יהוהTzadik), and Righteous Judge (ShofatTzadik). The prophet Isaiah declared: But יהוה of hosts is exalted in judgment, and the set-apart Ěl is set-apart in righteousness. (Isaiah 5:16 ) Justice is the foundation of the Torah’s humane legislation, as well as God’s requirement that Israel be characterized by righteousness, integrity, and charity. When the righteous increase, the people rejoice; But when a wrong one rules, the people sigh. (Proverbs 29:2 ) Where there is no justice, there is no appreciation of the right of every human being to be treated with fairness, respect, and kindness. Those who oppress, mistreat, or take advantage of others—especially orphans, widows and strangers—are the enemies of God and man (see Exodus 22:22-24; Deuteronomy 14:29, 24:19-21, 26:12-13, 27:19; Isaiah 1:17; James 1:22,27; 1 John 3:16-18; etc.).
RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT Judges and the officers are to be appointed by the people. It is the judges who pass judgment according to the Torah and the officers (like the police) that are responsible for seeing that the verdict is accepted and implemented according to the judge’s instructions. Individually, we find ourselves playing both judge and officer. If someone does or says something that we feel is against us, we are prone to instantly make a judgmentagainst them and take action. Instead, we should slow down and consider “righteous judgment” This brings us to why is the way we judge (shaphat) so important? Because righteous judgment is according to the Law (Torah) and we know that hasatan is the lawless (Torahless) one! When he convinces us that the Torah is done away with, then we are prone to making “unrighteous” judgments. And then the lawless one shall be revealed, whom the Master shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth and bring to naught with the manifestation of His coming. (2 Thessalonians 2:8) Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. (1 John 3:4)
END RESULT “Do not distort right-ruling. Do not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. (Deuteronomy 16:19 ) We can see why it’s so important that everyone in a position of authority needs to be righteous and just, including our government leaders and officials, bosses, and even fathers and mothers. As the effect of righteousness is Peace (shalom) and security! The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the service of righteousness be rest and safety forever. (Isaiah 32:17 ) This brings us to the question of what exactly is sin. Well, if obedience to the law is righteousness; transgression of the law is sin / unrighteousness?
SIN AND TORAH Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Everyone staying in Him does not sin. Everyone sinning has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one lead you astray. The one doing righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. The one doing sin is of the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of Elohim was manifested: to destroy the works of the devil. Everyone having been born of Elohim does not sin, because His seed stays in him, and he is powerless to sin, because he has been born of Elohim. In this the children of Elohim and the children of the devil are manifest: Everyone not doing righteousness is not of Elohim, neither the one not loving his brother. (1 John 3:4-10) Clearly, transgression of the Law (Torah) is sin... obedience to His Torah is righteousness.
LAWLESSNESS According to Strong's Greek lexicon, the word that is translated "lawlessness" here is “Anomia”, From Strong’s #459; “illegality”, or, in “violation of the law” also “wickedness”. The ISR Scriptures translation, “lawless” and “lawlessness” appear 69 times in the Brit Chadashah. But, in the KJV, for example, you’ll find “anomia” or “anomos” under several words; like “iniquity”, “transgress the Law”, etc. By studying lawlessness you will understand the “spirit of anti-messiah”. “And then I shall declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who work lawlessness!. (Matthew 7:23) Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness? And what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)
UNRIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT Today when we think of unrighteous judgment, we think of our secular court system. How often have the guilty, rich and famous gone free? Still we must face the fact that righteous judgment is being perverted in our churches today when pastors teach that we are no longer under the Law, the Torah that specifically teaches justice. The righteous judgments that the Torah teaches is a standard that is not man-made. It is יהוה’s standard. Righteousness and right-ruling Are the foundation of Your throne; Kindness and truth go before Your face. (Psalms 89:14) “Do according to the Torah in which they teach you, according to the right-ruling which they say to you. You do not turn to the right or to the left from the word which they declare to you. (Deuteronomy 17:11) Where godliness exists there will be righteous judgment. The two go hand in hand and are inseparable.
WEIGHTIER MATTERS “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you tithe the mint and the anise and the cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the Torah: the right-ruling and the compassion and the belief. These need to have been done, without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23) But with some, (Elohim knows who they are) mercy doesn't work, because they don't really care. The wrong finds favour, yet he shall not learn righteousness; in the land of straightforwardness he acts perversely, and does not see the excellency of יהוה. (Isaiah 26:10) The unrighteous will continue to transgress His Torah, despite the mercy shown. We see many examples of this today. We hear plenty of messages from mainstream Christianity telling us about יהוה grace and mercy, but very few messages on repentance and living righteously by living according to His commandments! Some even go so far to say that His Torah is a burden or legalism and should not even be kept! This is the adversary’s grand deception.
GIVEN TO THEIR DESIRES And then the lawless one shall be revealed, whom the Master shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth and bring to naught with the manifestation of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood, and with all deceit of unrighteousness in those perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth, in order for them to be saved. And for this reason Elohim sends them a working of delusion, for them to believe the falsehood, in order that all should be judged who did not believe the truth, but have delighted in the unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:8-12) Another word for “Shof’tim” is “Pharisees”. While יהושע criticized some Pharisees for being hypocrites; He never came against their “office”. It was He, Who ordained their office in Torah and gave the Judges (Pharisees) their instructions to carry out righteous judgments and right-rulings. In the Hebrew Torah, this really reads, “Shoft’imv’Shoter’im” or literally “Judges and Scribes”.
ASSEMBLY This is the Torah precept that יהושע was referring to in Matthew 18. The “congregation” He was talking about in verse 17;If he refuses to hear them, tell the congregation; and if he refuses to listen even to the congregation, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax-collector. That congregation (assembly), was in His day the Sanhedrin, or the Great Assembly, the Priests, Pharisees and Scribes, as prescribed by Torah. The word used in the Hebrew Matthew here for “assembly” is “Qahal” as in “QahalHaGadol” or “Great Assembly”, as in the 70 Elders, from Numbers 11 that would later become the Sanhedrin, which literally means “Court”. In those days, there was no difference between “religious” and “civil” court. In other words these people were to be judged by the “leadership”, or those chosen by and accountable to יהוה, rather than the members of the congregation (ekklesia in Greek or Kehilat in Hebrew), as taught in the church. The rabbis point out that it is better to be judged here, below, rather than judged by our ultimate Judge in Heaven.
RIGHTEOUS Why is this important? Righteousness is the very foundation for יהוה’s justice system. As this verse indicates, righteousness is necessary for LIFE and for going in to possess the LAND which יהוה is giving to us. Again יהושע had something to say about this: “But seek first the reign of Elohim, and His righteousness, and all these matters shall be added to you. (Matthew 6:33) The first place that we find the word for righteousness, tzadek is in Genesis: And Malkitseḏeq (King of Righteousness )sovereign of Shalĕm brought out bread and wine. Now he was the priest of the Most High Ěl. (Genesis 14:18) We know that Yeshua is the King of Righteousness and it is HIS kingdom that we should be pursuing (Matthew 6:33). In the very basic sense of the word, “righteousness” means “not deviating from the standard”…which of course we know to be Torah.
DEFINING RIGHTEOUSNESS Your righteousness is righteousness forever, And Your Torah is truth. (Psalms 119:142) We have been offered righteousness as a result of our relationship with יהושע, the King of Righteousness: For Messiah is the goal of the ‘Torah unto righteousness’ to everyone who believes. (Romans 10:4) Those righteous ones who continue to seek after righteousness may find themselves in a favoured position in the end times: Seek יהוה, all you meek ones of the earth, who have done His right-ruling. Seek righteousness, seek meekness, if so be that you are hidden in the day of wrath of יהוה. (Zephaniah 2:3) We have a picture of final judgment being accomplished by righteousness: And I saw the heaven opened, and there was a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Trustworthy and True, and in righteousness He judges and fights. (Revelation 19:11)
JUDGING OTHERS “Do not judge, lest you be judged. (Matthew 7:1) Does this mean that we’re never to make any kind of judgment about anything or anyone? No. יהושע warned us to judge fairly, without hypocrisy and to examine ourselves first. There’s a righteous kind of judgment that we’re expected to exercise carefully: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” (John 7:24) God alone is perfectly righteous and just. Only He can achieve that perfect balance between justice and mercy. For the judgment is without compassion to the one who has shown no compassion. And compassion boasts over judgment. (James 2:13) " And man says, “Truly, the righteous are rewarded; Truly, there is an Elohim judging in the earth.” (Psalms 58:11)
SHOFTIM But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Messiah. For it has been written, “As I live, says יהוה, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to Elohim.” Each one of us, therefore, shall give account of himself to Elohim. Therefore let us not judge one another any longer, but rather judge this, not to put an obstacle or a stumbling-block in our brother’s way. (Romans 14:10-13) Most of us have not been called to be shoftim among our brethren. We are to be fruit inspectors. Paul warns the Roman congregation not to despise or judge one another. They were reminded that every one of them would have to face the judgment seat of Elohim, and that prospect should instead occupy their thoughts. Better to contemplate the scrutiny of יהושע at the Bema (Area around the Altar) than condemning the weak and immature around the church. Only יהושע can judge justly. Let us leave all judgment to Him and become active in judging ourselves only. For if we were to examine ourselves, we would not be judged. (1 Corinthians 11:31)
PURE SACRIFICE “Do not slaughter to יהוה your Elohim a bull or sheep which has any blemish, any evil matter, for that is an abomination to יהוה your Elohim. (Deuteronomy 17:1) Animals with a blemish or any disfigurement were disqualified for Tabernacle/Temple service. Therefore, justice and the integrity of Temple worship were related. “A son esteems his father, and a servant his master. And if I am the Father, where is My esteem? And if I am a Master, where is My fear? said יהוה of hosts to you priests who despise My Name. But you asked, ‘In what way have we despised Your Name?’ “You are presenting defiled food on My altar. But you asked, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’ Because you say, ‘The table of יהוה is despicable.’ “And when you present the blind as a slaughtering, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Bring it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favourably?” said יהוה of hosts. (Malachi 1:6-8)
IDOL WORSHIP “When there is found in your midst, in any of your cities which יהוה your Elohim is giving you, a man or a woman who does what is evil in the eyes of יהוה your Elohim, in transgressing His covenant, and has gone and served other mighty ones and bowed down to them, or to the sun or to the moon or to any of the host of the heavens, which I have not commanded, and it has been made known to you and you have heard, and has searched diligently. Then see, if true: the matter is confirmed that such an abomination has been done in Yisra’ĕl, then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil matter, and you shall stone to death that man or woman with stones. “At the mouth of two or three witnesses shall he that is to die be put to death. He is not put to death by the mouth of one witness. (Deuteronomy 17:2-6) The worship of idols is evil, and constitutes a denial of the existence and authority of the One True Elohim. But this is not enough to cause you to be condemned unless there was more than one witness.
APPOINTMENT OF A KING “When you come to the land which יהוה your Elohim is giving you, and shall possess it and shall dwell in it, and you shall say, ‘Let me set a sovereign over me like all the gentiles that are around me,’ you shall certainly set a sovereign over you whom יהוה your Elohim shall choose. Set a sovereign over you from among your brothers, you are not allowed to set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. (Deuteronomy 17:14-15) Moses prophesied that Israel would ask for a King to rule over them in the Promised Land. As Moses predicted, after almost four centuries in the Land, the people of Israel demanded a king. Both God and Samuel the prophet were displeased with their request, regarding it as a rejection of the reign of God over Israel. and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a sovereign to rule us like all the nations.” (1 Samuel 8:5)
KING IN GOD’S EYES And יהוה said to Shemu’ĕl, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from reigning over them. (1 Samuel 8:7) The problem wasn’t that Israel wanted a king; Moses had prophesied that they would have a king over them in the Land. It was the way they asked and the motivation behind the request. .. Now appoint a king to lead us … God never intended for Israel to be ruled by a king, the King of Israel was to be a model of justice and righteousness–an example for the rest of the nations to follow. The ideal Jewish king or leader is unique among the nations, He’s a servant-leader that is scholarly, pious, righteous and God-fearing. But יהושע called them near and said, “You know that the rulers of the gentiles are masters over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. “But it shall not be so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you, let him be your servant. “And whoever wishes to be first among you, let him be your servant, (Matthew 20:25-27)
יהושע When יהושע washed His disciples’ feet, He showed us a beautiful example of how we should serve others. “Then if I, Master and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. “For I gave you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. (John 13:14-15) The Hebrew language itself reveals that God intends those in positions of authority be examples for others to emulate. The Hebrew word for government is memshalah which is related to the word mashal (to rule or to govern). יהושע is the eternal King of Israel who rules and reigns on the throne of David in righteous judgment and justice. Isaiah prophesied about the Messiah, he wrote:For a Child shall be born unto us, a Son shall be given unto us, and the rule is on His shoulder. .., to establish it and sustain it with right-ruling and with righteousness from now on, even forever. The ardour of יהוה of hosts does this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
STANDARD OF LEADERSHIP “Only, he is not to increase horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Mitsrayim to increase horses, for יהוה has said to you, ‘Do not return that way again.’ “And he is not to increase wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor is he to greatly increase silver and gold for himself. “And it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his reign, that he shall write for himself a copy of this Torah in a book, from the one before the priests, the Lĕwites. “And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, so that he learns to fear יהוה his Elohim and guard all the Words of this Torah and these laws, to do them, so that his heart is not lifted up above his brothers, and so as not to turn aside from the command, right or left, so that he prolongs his days in his reign, he and his children, in the midst of Yisra’ĕl. (Deuteronomy 17:16-20)
STANDARDS OF A KING (1) He must not own too many horses which is an association with trusting in the world’s ways: Woe to those who go down to Mitsrayim for help, and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong, but who do not look to the Set-apart One of Yisra’ĕl, nor seek יהוה! ... they shall all fall, together. (Isaiah 31:1-3) King Solomon fell short of this commandment: And Shelomoh had horses brought out from Mitsrayim and Quĕh; ...(1 Kings 10:28) And Shelomoh had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the sovereign at Yerushalayim. (2 Chronicles 9:25) King Josiah did away with horses that were stationed right by the temple! And he did away with the horses that the sovereigns of Yehuḏah had given to the sun, at the entrance to the House of יהוה, by the room of Nathan-Meleḵ the eunuch, that were in the court. And he burned the chariots of the sun with fire. (2 Kings 23:11)
STANDARDS OF A KING (2) He must be an Israelite whom יהוה chooses. The prophet Samuel anointed the first two kings in Israel. He must not multiply wives lest his heart turn away: And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. (1 Kings 11:3) He must not multiply silver and gold for himself: And the weight of gold that came to Shelomoh yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, .. And Sovereign Shelomoh made two hundred large shields of beaten gold – six hundred pieces of gold went into each shield; and three hundred shields of beaten gold – three minas of gold went into each shield. ..And all the drinking vessels of Sovereign Shelomoh were of gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Leḇanon were of refined gold – not of silver, for this was reckoned of little value in the days of Shelomoh. (1 Kings 10:14-21)
STANDARDS OF A KING (3) He was to write his own copy of the Torah The king was to become a lover of the Torah He was to carry it with him at all times Easy reference in the course of his duties Some commentators say an aide followed him carrying a complete, full-size Torah Tradition says the king carried a miniature size Torah or a copy of only Deuteronomy and the 10 Words on his arm or in something like a back-pack Writing it would engrain the words in his memory Writing it caused him to be more personally invested King David meditated on the Torah My eyes have gone before the night watches, To study Your word. (Psalms 119:148)
STANDARDS OF A KING (4) In doing so the king would learn to fear The fear of יהוה is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Set-apart One is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10) It would keep his heart from being lifted up יהושע spoke of humble leadership And יהושע, calling them near, said to them, “You know that those who think to rule the gentiles are masters over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. “But it is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant. “And whoever wishes to be first among you, shall be servant of all. (Mark 10:42-44) The ideal society, as defined by Torah is one in which there is no King other than יהוה himself. The Israelites were not able to achieve this. After Joshua, the book of Judges states again and again: In those days Israel had no king. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes…..
LEADERS Today, 3000 years later, the Bible still guides leaders in wise decisions. For instance, when British monarchs are crowned, they are presented with a Bible along with the words, “We present you with this Book, the most valuable thing the world affords. Here is wisdom; this is the royal law; these are the living oracles of God.” Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we shall receive greater judgment. (James 3:1) The greater a person’s position, the higher the standard required. King Solomon understood this well and because he did, he fervently prayed to God for the wisdom to discern right from wrong in judging Israel. Solomon asked God for a ‘levshome’ah,’ which literally means a ‘heart that hears.’ “Shall You then give to Your servant an understanding heart to rule Your people, to discern between good and evil? For who is able to rule this great people of Yours?” (1 Kings 3:9) In order to make righteous judgments about people and situations in our life, we need to have a heart that both hears from God and is willing to be submit to the Word of God.
ISREAL Israelites have experienced many forms of government. Since 1948 they have a form of representative democracy. The biblical ideal, however, is constitutional (Torah) monarchy with the Messiah as the King. We know that when יהוה returns, He will return as our righteous King with perfect justice! Then we will be able to achieve the ideal! “They shall fight with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for He is Master of masters and Sovereign of sovereigns. And those with Him are called, and chosen, and trustworthy.” (Revelation 17:14) And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: SOVEREIGN OF SOVEREIGNS AND MASTER OF MASTERS. (Revelation 19:16)
FOLLOWING OTHER CUSTOMS “When you come into the land .. do not learn to do according to the abominations of those gentiles. “Let no one be found among you who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practises divination, or a user of magic, or one who interprets omens or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, ..“Be perfect before יהוה your Elohim, ..(Deuteronomy 18:9-14) This Torah passage lists nine types of sorcery, all of which are detestable to יהוה. (Exodus 22:17; Lev. 18:21; 19:26,31; 20:2-7,27). Again we read that Israel was categorically forbidden to imitate the occult foretelling practices of the surrounding nations, whose unholy, dark disciplines were abominable to יהוה. The heathen beliefs and religious customs tended to fatalism, and were demonically inspired and supported. Israelites were instead called to have faith in יהוה to provide them with all the prophetic insights, experiences and knowledge they would need to plan and function successfully.
APPOINTING A PROPHET “יהוה your Elohim shall raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brothers. Listen to Him, according to all you asked of יהוה your Elohim in Ḥorĕḇ in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of יהוה my Elohim, nor let me see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ “And יהוה said to me, ‘What they have spoken is good. ‘I shall raise up for them a Prophet like you out of the midst of their brothers. And I shall put My Words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. ‘And it shall be, the man who does not listen to My Words which He speaks in My Name, I require it of him. ‘But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My Name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other mighty ones, even that prophet shall die.’ “And when you say in your heart, ‘How do we know the word which יהוה has not spoken?’ – when the prophet speaks in the Name of יהוה and the word is not, or comes not, that is the word which יהוה has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:15-22)
PROPHET LIKE ME Moses would not be the last of the prophets. He would have successors, but in particular there would be “a prophet like me” that would come “from their midst”. This prophet is the one who the priests and the Levites were looking for when they questioned John the Immerser: Now this was the witness of Yoḥanan when the Yehuḏim sent from Yerushalayim priests and Lĕwites to ask him, “Who are you?” And he confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then, are you Ěliyahu?” So he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” (John 1:19-21) Now we return to the obvious question … how does one tell the difference between a true prophet and a false prophet? A prophet had the ability to give voice to the Word of יהוה. Because a prophet had privileged access to the Word which others could not see or hear, the possibility existed for false prophets.
JONAH (1) Jonah was a prophet commanded by יהוה to warn the people of Nineveh that their wickedness was about to bring disaster on them. A fearful Jonah attempted to flee, but there was the story of the sea, the storm, and the whale that swallowed Jonah. A disobedient Jonah comes to his senses and goes to Nineveh to utter the words יהוה had commanded him to speak: And Yonah began to go in to the city on the first day’s walk. And he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Ninewĕh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4) As the story goes, the people of Nineveh repent, and the city is spared. Jonah, however, is very distressed by this: But it greatly displeased Yonah, and he was grieved. And he prayed to יהוה, and he said, “Please, יהוה, was this not what I said while I was in my own land? This is why I went ahead and fled to Tarshish. For I know that You are an Ěl showing favour, and compassionate, patient and of great kindness, and relenting from doing evil. “And now, O יהוה, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live!” (Jonah 4:1-3)
JONAH (2) יהוה is not happy with Jonah’s attitude: And יהוה said, “Are you right to be displeased?” (Jonah 4:4) The problem… Jonah prophesied that the city would be destroyed in 40 days. It did not happen. “And should I not pardon Ninewĕh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand beings who have not known their right hand from their left, and much cattle?” (Jonah 4:11) The question… does that make him a false prophet according to our definition in Deuteronomy 18:22 that the test is simple….if what the prophet predicts happens, then he is a true prophet. If not, then he is a false prophet. Sounds simple, right?
JEREMIAH (1) Jeremiah had been prophesying disaster for the nation of Israel. The people had drifted from Torah and were being warned of destruction and exile. It was a difficult message and the people did NOT want to hear it. A false prophet arose, Hananiah, with the opposite message of Jeremiah…in other words, Hananiah said what the people wanted to hear: And it came to be in that year, at the beginning of the reign of Tsiḏqiyah sovereign of Yehuḏah, in the fourth year and in the fifth month, that Ḥananyah son of Azzur the prophet, who was from Giḇʽon, spoke to me in the House of יהוה in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, “Thus spoke יהוה of hosts, the Elohim of Yisra’ĕl, saying, ‘I have broken the yoke of the sovereign of Baḇel. ‘Within two years I am going to bring back to this place all the vessels of the House of יהוה, that Neḇuḵaḏnetstsar sovereign of Baḇel removed from this place and took to Baḇel. ‘And I am going to bring back to this place Yeḵonyah son of Yehoyaqim, sovereign of Yehuḏah, with all the exiles of Yehuḏah who went to Baḇel,’ declares יהוה, ‘for I am going to break the yoke of the sovereign of Baḇel.’ ” (Jeremiah 28:1-4)
JEREMIAH (2) Hananiah told the people that within two years, the crisis would be over. Jeremiah knew that this was not so, and he also addressed the people…starting with a bit of sarcasm: Then the prophet Yirmeyah spoke to the prophet Ḥananyah in the presence of the priests and in the presence of all the people who stood in the House of יהוה, and the prophet Yirmeyah said, “Amĕn! יהוה do so! יהוה establish your words which you have prophesied, to bring back the vessels of the House of יהוה and all the exiles from Baḇel to this place! “Only, hear now this word that I speak in your hearing and in the hearing of all the people: “The prophets who have been before me and before you of old prophesied against many lands and great reigns, of battle and of evil and of pestilence. “The prophet who prophesies of peace – when the word of the prophet comes to pass, that prophet is known as one whom יהוה has truly sent.” (Jeremiah 28:5-9)
SUMMARY Jeremiah teaches us a distinction between good news and bad. According to verse 9, a prophecy of peace cannot be refuted. A prophet who prophesizes peace and it does not come true can definitely be seen as a false prophet because יהוה does not retract from a promise He has made in regards to peace or His return. On the flip side, a negative prophecy that does not come true does not necessarily point to a false prophet. Look back at Jonah 4:2…the Almighty is “slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness,One who relents from doing harm”. Sometimes those who hear a prophet’s words, repent and are forgiven as in the example of the men of Nineveh. Or as in the case of Hezekiah, it could be that the judgment is postponed. Therefore we see that a true prophet does not necessarily foretell…rather he warns. The motive of a prophet is not to predict future catastrophe, but rather to avert it. If the prophecy comes true, he has actually failed in his warning.
PROPHETS OF REPENTANCE Israel’s prophets generally sounded pessimistic. But they were realists and were giving the warnings of יהוה as set forth in the Torah for those who are disobedient. They warned of the dangers that lie ahead for those who persist in going their own way. On the other hand, they were without exception, agents of hope. They could see that restoration was always the ultimate outcome. The Apostle Paul was also a prophet who gave plenty of warnings to the unrighteous from the Word of יהוה concerning the kingdom: Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the reign of Elohim? Do not be deceived. Neither those who whore, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor greedy of gain, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers shall inherit the reign of Elohim. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) Every prophecy must align with Scripture or it is automatically disqualified (along with the prophet). The message of the Almighty is not one that unrighteous people want to hear. True prophets generally care deeply for the people and desire for them to repent. In a world where many declare themselves to be prophets, we need to be discerning. And know the Word!
GO TO WAR “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and shall see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them, for יהוה your Elohim, who brought you up from the land of Mitsrayim, is with you. (Deuteronomy 20:1) Scripture tells us to oppose the enemies of יהוה, who are also our enemies. Today, our enemies are spiritual: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not fight according to the flesh. For the weapons we fight with are not fleshly but mighty in Elohim for overthrowing strongholds, overthrowing reasonings and every high matter that exalts itself against the knowledge of Elohim, taking captive every thought to make it obedient to the Messiah, (2 Corinthians 10:3-5) Because we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against authorities, against the world-rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual matters of wickedness in the heavenlies. (Ephesians 6:12)
BAL TASHCHIT “When you besiege a city for a long time by fighting against it to take it, you do not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. If you do eat of them, do not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man to be besieged by you? “Only the trees which you know are not trees for food you do destroy and cut down, to build siege-works against the city that is fighting against you, until it falls. (Deuteronomy 20:19-20) A Torah Commentary For Our Times states: “While the commandment deals specifically with cutting down trees during a siege, Jewish interpreters extend it to cover all forms of wasteful destruction under the principle of bal tashchit, or ‘do not destroy’ … [all w]asteful destruction is condemned. ‘Anyone who deliberately breaks dishes, tears clothing, wrecks a building, clogs up a fountain, or wastes food violates the law of bal tashchit’” (various rabbinical sources are cited, vol. 3, p. 143).
THE LORD FIGHTS and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Yisra’ĕl: You are drawing near today to battle with your enemies. Do not let your heart faint, do not fear, or tremble, or be afraid before them, for יהוה your Elohim is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ (Deuteronomy 20:3-4) יהוה, through His vessel Moses, addressed Israel in the singular, indicating that in unity there is sustained faith and strength of morale. It is only natural to be frightened to some extent when in danger, so the people were encouraged to think upon inspirational truth spoken by the army chaplain, the priest, instead of worrying about the enemy: "יהוה your God, is the One who goes with you, to fight...to save."Joshua was simply commanded: "Only be strong and very courageous…" (Joshua. 1:7). For this, he was encouraged to do two things: “Do not let this Book of the Torah depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, ..(Joshua 1:8)