Aaronic & menorah blessings

Kathy De Fever sings these two blessings every Shabbat.

Aaronic blessing

Num. 6:24-26

The LORD bless you, and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine on you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance on you,
And give you peace.

Blessing of the menorah (seven-branched candleholder of Israel)

Blessed are You, oh LORD our God, King of the world,
Who has sanctified us by Your commandments,
And Who has commanded us to be a light to the nations,
And Who has given us Yeshua, the Light of the world.

Joshua 23-24

Reader: Jeff
Teacher: Daniel Agee

Thought questions

  • Which part of the Book of the Law (Genesis–Deuteronomy) did Yehoshua (Joshua) contribute to?
    • How do we know?
  • What is meant by Yehoshua’s rock bearing witness?
    • How is this related to Abel’s blood crying out from the ground?
    • What does this say about the importance of history in faith?
  • What have they people seen in the several years since Israel moved from the wilderness east of the Yarden (Jordan) River in the Promised Land west of the river?
    • Which key figures were continually presente when all these miracles were happening?
    • What two situations weren’t Moshe (Moses) and Yehoshua involved with?
    • What then is Yehoshua’s dilemma when he faces his death? (See Deut. 23:3.)
    • Who will the people look to for guidance?
    • What then is the object of Yehoshua’s speech in Josh. 23-24?
    • Why did he point out certain details?
  • How long did Moshe and Yehoshua live?
    • Didn’t God promise to bless Yehoshua as much as Moshe?
    • Did that mean Yehoshua wasn’t as good enough in doing his mission?
  • Why wasn’t Yehoshua to live as long as Moshe, according to Deut. 18:18?
    • Who is referred to in that prophecy?
  • Was Yehoshua supposed to have all Moshe’s blessings?
    • Does that indeed mean Yehoshua wasn’t good enough?
  • What were the shortcomings for each tribe in fulfilling their duties in conquering their territories (Deut. 23:5-10)?
  • What were Yehoshua’s three tasks mentioned in Josh. 1?
    • Be strong and courageous.
    • Love God.
    • Don’t waver.
  • Did he fulfill them?
  • What does "cling" mean in relation to the people’s relationship with God? (See Deut. 23:8.)
    • What were the shortcomings later for the tribes of the northern Kingdom of Israel in this relationship?
    • What were two consequences of "clinging" to other nations and their gods? (See Deut. 23:11-16.)
      • Was the deal a no-winner for Israel?
      • When was Israel’s "point of no return" in deal-making with God?
  • Did Yehoshua assemble Israel in Shechem or Shioh? (Compare Josh. 24:1 with Josh. 22:12.)
  • What is the history of Shechem?
    • What does the Hebrew name mean?
      • What Bible concept is connected to that city?
    • What did Abram do there when he arrived from Mesopotamia? (See Gen. 12:6-7.)
      • What was the element of his past?
    • What did Jacob do there on his return? What did he bury? (See Gen. 35:1-5.)
    • What happened to Yosef (Joseph) there? (See Gen. 37:13.)
      • How was Yosef associated with idols with his dreams and life in Egypt?
      • What did Yehoshua tell the people to do with Yosef’s bones and the people’s idols? (See Josh. 24:32.)
    • Where did the Samaritans do in Shechem 1,300 years later? (See Jer. 41.)
      • Were they exclusive in their devotion to the LORD?
      • What did they build there in addition to the one built in Yerushalayim (Jerusalem)?
    • What two significant mountains of worship were on either side of Shechem?
    • What did the kings later do there related to idols?
    • What was Shechem’s father’s name?
      • What does Hamor mean?
      • What does the donkey represent in the Bible?
    • What was Shechem used for in its whole history as a place of worship?
      • What was so unique about its location?
    • How many times did Moshe and Yehoshua reaffirm God’s covenant with Israel?
    • How does choice at Shechem to leave behind their idols relate to Messiah’s warning to "count the cost" of following Him?
  • Why doesn’t Yehoshua bring up the rebellions and failings of the people in his final speech?
    • How does that speak to God’s forgive-and-forget approach?
  • What was Yehoshua’s response to the people’s agreement to follow God because of the blessings they’ve received? (See Josh. 24:15.)
    • Didn’t the people of Israel earlier agree to put away their idols?
    • How soon after Yehoshua’s death did the people go after idols?

Lessons from the book of Joshua

  • Josh. 8: Achan sins at Yerikho and many in the army dies at Ai. The deal was to follow God. The sin of the few can affect many.
  • Josh. 9: On the mountains of Ebal and Gerazim the choice is, Who will you serve?
  • Josh. 10: Gibeonites make a deal. What didn’t Yehoshua do before making the deal?
  • Josh. 11: The sun stands still so Yehoshua can complete the fight. A miracle for an individual can affect people around you and perhaps the world.
  • Josh. 12: A seemingly boring list of names contains a prophecy of Messiah. Lists in the Bible are there for a purpose.
  • Josh. 13: The northern tribes encounter troubles. Pray that God will expose enemies so they will be cut down.
  • Josh. 14: Caleb lives large. He took Hebron, which was occupied by giants. With God on your side, you can do anything.
  • Josh. 15: The Promised Land is distributed. The tribes fell as a nation because they did not conquer all cities and chose slaves and money over hard work.
  • Josh. 16-17: Shiloh is established. Simeon and Levi are divided among the tribes to fulfill prophecy of Gen. 48.
  • Josh. 18-19: Once the territories are established, justice is established.
  • Josh. 20: Cities of refuge were set up so there would be no personal vengeance.
  • Josh. 21: Reuben and Gad set up a replica altar east of the Yarden River of the one in the Tabernacle in Shiloh. They show that though separated by the river they are connected to the people of Israel and their mission.

Deuteronomy 4:20-49: Love v. knowledge

“So watch yourselves, that you do not forget the covenant of the LORD your God which He made with you, and make for yourselves a graven image in the form of anything against which the LORD your God has commanded you.” (Deuteronomy 4:23 NASB)

God is referring to the 10 commandments in this verse. The entire book of Deuteronomy is about the 10 commandments. 

God made a covenant with Abraham, Issac and Jacob about the inheritance of the Promised Land, which he is in the process of fulfilling. He made a separate covenant with the generation Moses is addressing in Deuteronomy. 

Deuteronomy reveals the mind of the Eternal. This book shows us how God sees us and sees the world. Want to know how to be holy? Read Deuteronomy. 

God didn’t tell the prophets everything, He speaks to them in visions and dreams. This is not the case with Moses. Moses was unique in all the world since the Almighty told Moses everything plainly and clearly. 

God continues to hammer the point that He doesn’t want us to make any “graven image” to represent Him. Humans do have a tendency to need something to touch and associate with emotionally. This is true across many different religion expressions. 

The most powerful thing that comes out of our mouths are our words. When our words are hateful, they are powerful. Words can destroy a child, a friend or our own lives. Words can also lift up a child, a friend and ourselves. 

Our society is very secular and evolutionary in its process. We are taught that humanity are becoming better with each passing generation. Yet, when someone is depressed or has some other problem, we give them a drug to try to re-wire their brain. Often, those drugs do more harm than good. Rather than going to the Source to resolve our depression, our first inclination is to take a drug. 

“When you become the father of children and children’s children and have remained long in the land, and act corruptly, and make an idol in the form of anything, and do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD your God so as to provoke Him to anger,” (Deuteronomy 4:25 NASB)

When Jacob reached old age, he said his days were “long and evil” yet he carried on. I’ve had ups and downs in my life but I can’t say that my life has been “long and evil.” Jacob never gave up. He was a very brave man. He lived a life of turmoil. 

God might put you in a situation where He gives you a lot of material blessing and then He will take it away, not as a punishment, but to test you out, to find out what you really are inside. He holds back to test our hearts to see if we will do what is just, right and holy when times are rough. 

There’s a direct correlation between the increase in knowledge and a decrease in our love and fear of God. Proverbs says that the knowledge and fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. The increase of knowledge is a decrease in fear of the Lord. The more God blessed the children of Israel while they were in the land, the more complacent they became and the more they desired to go after idols and false gods. The more civilized society got, the more corrupt it got. 

The Apostle Paul warned that knowledge can puff up and look down on people who live up to the word of God as we know it. The fear of God is knowing God. When you aren’t in awe of God anymore and think you can know God from archaeology or linguistic studies, this is a dangerous slope. 

If you don’t love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, the knowledge you received will become a weapon to use against people or even against God. Satan was very smart and good-looking, yet his knowledge destroyed him. 

A wise person is a person who knows how to apply knowledge properly. When you receive knowledge from God, use it for His glory, not your glory. He gives you wisdom through trials. Knowledge leads to wisdom. 

You can tell who the trial is actually for by who is troubled the most by the trial. If you pay attention to other people’s trials, learn from their trials, God won’t have to give that trial to you. 

If you give your life over to idols, whether they are physical or spiritual, God will scatter you. Have you ever felt scattered or sent away? Have you ever had to leave a comfortable place? A scattered person has lost something and becomes an alien. 

We complain about the “aliens” from the South but if God were to evict you from America and send you to another country, you will become a foreigner somewhere else and will not be liked. You will not be in the majority, but a minority and vulnerable. 

That is what happened to the Jews, they were scattered in small pockets into many nations. How would you feel if you lived in a country in which you were a minority and did not have the same rights as the majority? 

If you live in God’s house and refuse to live by His rules, He has no choice but to evict you. He wants us to live with Him but if we despise Him and treat Him with contempt, He can’t allow us to live with Him and has no choice but to kick us out. 

It takes work to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Loving God is not just about emotion but more about action. 

God will have to send them away to countries where they don’t know God or love God. The people will have no choice but to reach out to God or be assimilated. But God doesn’t want His people to assimilate into the pagan cultures around them. 

The reason the children of Israel will return to God is found in Deut. 4:28. 

“There you will serve gods, the work of man’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell.” (Deuteronomy 4:28 NASB)

The children of Israel ended up serving gods who didn’t care about them at all. They served gods who didn’t love them, or even appreciate them. The “principalities of the air” aren’t trying to draw men and women to worship them because they love them. They want power, submission and control over people, they have no interest in mankind’s well being at all. 

The “principalities of the air” won’t give their only begotten son to die for us and to give us eternal life. There is only one God who has that kind of love. 

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NASB)

God offers love while the “principalities of the air” offer enlightenment and knowledge. That is what the Serpent offered Eve. 

“But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. “When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you, in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice. “For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.” (Deuteronomy 4:29–31 NASB)

God will reestablish the 10 commandments. He will establish the covenant that He never forgot. 

“Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” (Deuteronomy 4:39 NASB)

God does not have an equal. God is the only one who gave His Son for us. God is the only one who wants a relationship with people and gives more to people than He takes. God wants us to be holy, clean and be like Him. 

God has shown us exactly how He wants us to walk. There’s no mystery there. That’s what the 10 commandments are all about. 

We need to read what God says, not what interpreters say God says. 

“Now this is the law which Moses set before the sons of Israel; these are the testimonies and the statutes and the ordinances which Moses spoke to the sons of Israel, when they came out from Egypt, across the Jordan, in the valley opposite Beth-peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites who lived at Heshbon, whom Moses and the sons of Israel defeated when they came out from Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 4:44–46 NASB)

Why was it important for Moses to repeat God’s law at this particular point and location? This is immediately before they are going to enter the Promised Land. 

Think back to when you were baptized? Why did you want to be baptized? Fear of our past? Acceptance? Obedience? Salvation? 

Why did God want you to be baptized before crossing over? God is bringing them into His world, into His land and He wants them to know what rules they needed to follow to continue to live in the Promised Land. 

God made a covenant with the children of Israel. He fulfilled His end by bringing them out of Egypt. They were to fulfill their end by following his commandments. On the other side of the Jordan was the Promised Land. God cares so much that He killed His Son. That was the price paid so we can cross over. 

We are to count the cost and keep counting the cost to make sure the count is still there. 

Joshua 22

Reader: Jeff.
Teacher: Daniel Agee.

Thought Questions

  • Was the altar the tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manesseh erected ever used?
    • Why did they build it?
    • Why were they concerned about being left out of the people of Israel?
  • Where these tribes "selfish" by wanting the land east of the Jordan? (Josh. 22:2)
    • How long were these 2.5 tribes gone?
    • How many of the fighting men were sent to fight for the other tribes?
    • What instructions did Yehoshua give to Reuben, Gad and half-tribe of Manesseh before discharging them from the army? (Josh. 22:5)
    • Did they get rest?
  • How well did Yehoshua fulfill his instructions from Deut. 10 in obeying the Law?
    • Where did Reuben, Gad and half-tribe build their "replica" altar according to Joshua 22:11?
    • Why did it bother the other 9.5 tribes?
    • What did High Priest Phineas think would happen because of the altar?
    • How does uncleaness factor into this worry? (Josh.22:19)
  • Which side of the Yarden River was blessed by God?
    • Did the other tribes have altars in their territories?
    • If so, what was so offensive about the one on the East side of the Yarden?
  • What example did Yehoshua give the 2 1/2 tribes about how to commemorate important places and events?
  • What happened with Aachan at Ba’al Peor (Numb. 25:1-9)?
    • How did the punishment of the many for hte foibles of the few affect Phineas?
    • What did he mean by saying that the sin of Peor not being cleansed yet?
    • Didn’t Phineas stop the plague, bringing atonement?
    • What more cleansing was needed? (see. Lev. 16)
    • Why did Phineas go to meet the 2.5 tribes instead of Yehoshua?
  • What lessons have been learned in the book of Yehoshua?
    1. Yehoshua was strong and courageous in conquering and dividing the land and in following Torah.
    2. Rahab’s faith in a foreign God saved herself and her family. Our faith in spite of being "unclean."
    3. Circumcision personally marks God on our lives as permanently belonging to God.
    4. The conquest of Yerikho (Jericho) taught that God fights for you in seemingly overwhelming odds if we obey Him. If God does your fighting in your spiritual life, it’s no longer your fight. God will fight our first battle, then He expects us to pick up the "sword" He gives us.
    5. The Commander of the LORD’s Army emphasized that the Promised Land was the LORD’s not ours. God brings us to where we are today, so we aren’t ours. Permission to accept worship and talk to Him.

Deuteronomy 4:12-20: You saw no form (of God) on the Mountain

Moses reminds the children of Israel in Deu. 4:15 that they are to “…Watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire.” This is repeated several times to emphasize God’s admonition against idolatry but Moses also prophesies they will ignore this warning and God will have to rebuke them harshly for their idolatry.

Thought Questions

  • What subject matter starts Deut. 4?
    • What is the common perceptions of Moses in movies?
    • How does Deuteronomy change that picture of him?
    • Does it give a clue as to what is meant by the saying “a prophet after Moses”?
  • How does this book describe an interaction between Moshe and God that is similar to the ineteractions and relationship between Yeshua and the Father?
  • What do you think of as attributes of “the kingdom of God”?
    • What does God wan us to do in his Kingdom as described in Deut. 4?
  • How can we have love flowing from our hearts from the 10 Words, the 10 commandments?
  • Why did God give the 10 words as described in the “First Word”, aka the “Jewish version” of the First commandment?
  • Which one of the Words is aimed at government?
  • What did Moshe say about the importance of the 10 words in Deut. 4:9?
  • What’s the difference between saying “I believe God” and “I believe in God”?
  • WHy does Moshe say “you saw no form” (Deut. 4:15) again and again?
    • How is this connected with the temptation of idolatry?
    • How does depicting God limit your belief?
    • How is this similar to the reaction of Yeshua’s neigbors in Nazareth to his Minstry?
    • What is dangerous about dwelling on the passage “God is love” or saying “God is this or that”?
  • How is this connected to the challenge in obeying the commandment to “honor your mother and father”?
  • Should we make images of fish, doves, stars of David?
    • What are God’s symbols?
    • Are they images of God?
  • Are there any other spiritual beings who have brought human beings to themselves for the benefit of their followers?
    • Which “prinicipalities of the air” really loves you?
  • What was the purpose of the 40 years in the wilderness for Israel?
    • How is this similar to Messiah’s saying that He can make sons of Abraham out of stones?
  • Does God love you with all His heart, with all His soul, and all His strength?
    • What are we looking into through the book of Deuteronomy?