Parashat Shoftim

Parashat Shoftim
In this week’s Torah portion we have two promises from HaShem that are inherently related: that He will establish for the people a king (Deut. 17:14-20) and that He will raise up a prophet to guide the people in His ways (Deut 18:15). Ultimately the king will be Messiah and the Prophet is as well a reference to the Messiah. Peter in Acts chapter 3 was explaining how a man who was born paralyzed was healed and found in the Temple leaping and jumping praising G-d. He said,

“Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this thing, why do you stare at us as we by means of our power or through kind deeds that we did, this man walks. The G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the G-d of our Fathers glorified with honor His servant-Yeshua…” Acts 3:12-13

Peter wants to accomplish three points in these two verses. The first is to inform the people that the work of Messiah is continuing through His followers. For Messiah promised us that we would do the same things that Yeshua did (even greater works) because the Holy Spirit would be given to us (see John 14:12). Second, that this work and the identity of Yeshua is what the people should have expected. The Gospel should not be a foreign concept for Jewish people, but comes within the framework of G-d’s promises to the Patriarchs. This is a very important truth. Because Judaism and Christianity have taken a turn away from the Scripture, the two religions have grown in vastly different directions. Peter is arguing that message of Messiah is exactly what was revealed to the Patriarchs, Moses, and the Prophets. Therefore the people who witnessed this miracle should not have been shocked, but rather seen the miracle as a sign of G-d confirming His promises. The fact that the people arrested Peter and John and commanded them not to teach in name of Yeshua or about the resurrection shows just how far the leaders of Judaism were 2,000 years ago.

The third thing is the nature of the miracle confirms what G-d wants to do in your life and mine. Notice a man who was paralyzed was healed. In other words, through the ministry of Yeshua a man was enabled to walk. One needs to understand that Jewish Law is called “Walking”. Hence Judaism emphasizes that true faith leads to a “walk” a lifestyle or a behavior that has a specific characteristic. What did the man who was healed do? First and foremost he entered the Temple and worshipped. The Gospel, once it enters your life has a two fold purpose: it brings one near to G-d and it causes one to live a life whose behavior is praiseworthy. If your faith is not effecting how you live then it is not the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it is not the faith of Messiah Yeshua. True Judaism—the faith that Messiah came to restore back to the revelation of the Scripture, is a faith that leads to deeds; deeds which manifest the Glory of G-d to those who witness them.

Maybe you and I should pause and review this past week’s behavior. Were we used by G-d to carry on the work of Messiah? Did we do things which expressed our faith? Could people see the grace of G-d working in our life? If so, how? What specific deeds did Yeshua do through us by means of the Holy Spirit? A true Gospel faith is one that can be documented by deeds. What type of deeds? Deeds that express what Paul says in Roman 8:4,

“That the righteous of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but by means of the Spirit.”

Many people cringe at hearing about the Torah / Law as a measurement for the believer. They saw we are not under the Law. They are 100% correct. But what does that phrase mean? Simply, we will not be judged again by the Law. You see the truth of the Gospel is this. We were already judged by the Law and found guilty and sentenced to death in hell. Yeshua died for us and went to hell in our place. But the resurrection shows His victory over sin and death. Because of Him and only Him our punishment has been paid and therefore there is no need for us to be judged again by the Law. Scripture says,

“It is appointed unto man to die once, and after that is the judgment.” Hebrews 9:27

The Gospel message uses the Torah, our violations of the Torah and judgment they demand is why Messiah Yeshua suffered and died. Romans 6 says that when Messiah died, so do you and me (the believer) and because it is only appointed once for a person to die, the believer will not die and suffer G-d’s condemnation. Rather we the recipients of G-d’s grace will enter into eternal fellowship with the Living G-d.

It is clear we are not any longer under the Torah, in the sense suffering its condemnation, but the Torah still provides us the framework for righteous living. Be clear that it does not provide one the means, only the Holy Spirit does this, but as Paul said, those individuals (believers in the Gospel) who walk in the Spirit, are the ones who fulfill the righteous of the Law.

Make no mistake, yours and mine lifestyle is very important to our L-rd and Savior.

Shabbat Shalom

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One Comment on “Parashat Shoftim”

  1. Shalom Baruch,
    First, I would like to say what a joy it is to read your blog. they are insightful and
    very much appreciated.
    My question is this,you use the phrase “true judaism” please explain to me what the difference is between judaism and hebraism is, and how important is it to distinguish them from one use “faith and judaism in the same breadth please explain.

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