Yosef (Joseph) a betrayed brother turned slave turned prime minister in Mitzraim (Egypt). Daniel a war captive turned wise man turned second to an emperor in Babylon. יהודה המכבי Yehudah ha-Makabi (Judas Maccabeus) a priest of Yisrael turned leader of a successful insurrection against the Seleucid empire’s campaign of forced conversion. Yeshua ha-Mashiakh (Jesus the Christ) in the Temple during the Festival of Dedication. These four accounts may seem to quite disjointed, but the conjunction of the Torah reading מקצ Miketz/Miqetz (Genesis 41:1-44:14, “from the end”) and the celebration of Chanukah/Hannukah helps underscore that ongoing lessons from both help us understand what Yeshua meant by “the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13 NASB).
The LORD sends us into the world to be His ambassadors and part of the kingdom of priests. Will we go? How will we face challenges of our own making or ones that are out of our control? There will be times when we reap the consequences of our behavior and times we are victims of injustice inflicted on us. In scenarios, we need to look to the only one who can give us wisdom to react to those situations. That’s one lesson threaded through the Torah reading וישלח Vayishlach (“[and] he sent,” Genesis 32:3–36:43).
Another lesson is how division is toxic to the Kingdom of God. How are we living out apostle Paul’s counsel for unity and peace?:
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18 NASB)
In Vayishlach we see what happened when Ya’akov (Jacob) and and Eysau/Eysav (Esau) met again after 20 years. Edom/Eysau was born “red” and “hairy,” symbols associated with humanness, and his life is an example of living “by the flesh” versus “by the Spirit.”
One lesson from the life of Esau is who and where we came from doesn’t necessarily define who we are or will become. Another takeaway is to recognize the good around us and become wise to the frequent folly of “following your heart” after what appears to be good. This is why Messiah Yeshua wants us to learn how to be “complete,” not lacking in anything.
God “shows up” all over the place in events recorded in the Bible and today, but He is not passive. Rather, the LORD is active in Earth’s affairs.
A pattern of behavior we see in the Torah reading וַיֵּרָא Vayera (“and He appeared”) is that when people are in “fight or flight” mode, they usually make very poor decisions. Lot’s “bright idea” to give his daughters to protect his guests from a vile mob, Lot’s daughter’s “bright idea” to get pregnant by their father a mere few days after they escaped from Sodom’s flames, and later Abraham and Sarah’s decision to lie to Abimelech about the extent of their kinship, all these poor decision had consequences.
We will see through the testimony of the words of God the interplay between the promised one, Yitskhak (Isaac), and the one born only through the flesh, Yishma’el (Ishmael).
The Flood recorded in the book of Genesis is one of the most pivotal events in the Bible. But did it happen, or is it just an allegory to teach a spiritual truth? This discussion of the Torah reading נֹחַ Noach/Noakh (“Noah,” Genesis 6:9-11:32), illustrates how the account is real history as well as real revelation of spiritual truth.
Modern DNA studies supports the Bible’s record of a literal Noach, his literal sons and daughters-in-law and a literal worldwide Flood. Even though Noach was “righteous in his generation,” he was not perfect. He wasn’t saved because he was perfect. He was saved because he had faith in God — faith put into action.
Noach’s clinged to God’s words, but his generation refused to follow him into the Ark and to receive salvation. That’s why Yeshua talked about the “days of Noah” being just like His second coming (Luke 17:25–27; Matthew 24:37–38; Isaiah 54:8–10).
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:19–20 NASB)
Some teach that the Day of Atonement (יוֹם הַכִּפֻּרִים Yom haKippurim, “Day of Coverings”) is a day when the people of God plead their case that their good will outweigh their bad on Heaven’s scale. Rather, God’s word teaches that we can have sober, humble, repentant confidence in what God’s Mashiakh (Christ) has done to cover and remove ours mistakes, disobedience and treason.
One of the key themes of the Bible book of Leviticus is the Tabernacle as Heaven’s way to bring those “far off” from God’s presence near by the spilled life of the substitute, the sin offering. This also is the key theme of the book of Hebrews, but it takes the message further in showing Who always has been doing the real work of reconciliation, with and without an earthly Tabernacle or Temple.
“If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1John 1:10–2:2 NASB)
Being “Torah-observant” is not a “holier than thou” pursuit of perfection. Rather, it’s about listening to the Creator, observing where our lifestyles diverge from Heaven’s instructions and seeking return to the LORD’s ways. That restoration is possible by the perfect Atonement Offering, the Mashiakh (Christ). That’s the lesson of the Torah reading הַאֲזִינוּ Ha’azinu (“listen”) and a good preview of Yom haKippurim (Day of Atonement).