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Numbers 19:1-22:1

This week's Torah portion contains one of the least understood passages in all of the Scriptures. In the beginning of our portion we have the instructions for the parah adumah—the red heifer—whose ashes are mixed with water to create the singular source of ritual purity for specific conditions described within the Torah. For example, it is only by the water mixed with the ashes of the red heifer that corpse contamination could be negated. 

Leviticus 19:1-20:27

This week's Torah reading begins with God's telling Moses that they are to be holy:

And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy." (Lev. 19:1-2)

The name of the portion comes from the instruction, "You shall be holy (kedoshim)." The word kedoshim means "holy" (plural). But what does it mean to be holy? A lot of things should be taken into account when we define what it means to be holy, but the primary aspect of holiness is defined through restrictions. This is why God gave the Children of Israel so many "thou shalt not" commandments. He set them apart from the pagan nations around them through restrictions in their conduct, showing that they were to be a holy people.

On December 10, 2015, the Vatican issued a paper highlighting and clarifying their ongoing dialogue with Judaism. Many may have heard about this through Facebook or church organizations who immediately began criticizing the paper’s pivotal statement, which seems to be theologically opposed to the message of the gospel. Many people have assumed that the paper simply means “Jewish people don’t need Jesus.” But what exactly does it mean and how did the Catholic Church arrive at this conclusion? What I would like to do is divide the discussion into three parts: First, I would like to give a little background as to what lead to this development. Second, I would like to accurately communicate the statements made by the Catholic Church. Third, I would like to explain the significance of these statements, particularly in light of how biblical covenants work, as well as help to clear up any misunderstandings of these statements.

In our previous articles, we have been debunking the myth that the Torah (the “Law”) is impossible to keep. We mentioned the misunderstanding of Peter’s words in Acts 15, where he refers to “a yoke … that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear” (Acts 15:10). We discussed the misconceptions within Christianity about the Torah and the perceived difficulty of following its directives. We also discussed the purpose for which God gave his Torah (Law), and listed several commandments found within the book of Leviticus as examples of these “difficult” laws. In this article, we will begin to seek an understanding of Peter’s specific terminology for his phrase, “a yoke … that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear.” What yoke was he referring to, and was it truly unbearable?

Observant Jews (Messianic or otherwise), and many Messianic Gentiles like myself, read Genesis 22:1-19 every morning during Shacharit (morning) prayers. It is the story of the binding of Isaac. In Hebrew it is called the Akeidah, which means “binding.” How should we understand this story from a Messianic Jewish perspective? Let’s take a look at just a few of the dozens of connections to the Apostolic Scriptures found within this story.

The Akeidah is considered the last of ten tests that Hashem placed upon Abraham. Jewish literature makes reference to ten tests that Abraham passes in faithful obedience. However, there is some confusion over exactly what those tests are. Both Rashi and the Rambam have differing lists, which you can see in the chart below:

Towards the end of May, my family and I attended First Fruits of Zion’s 2015 Shavuot Conference at Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship in Hudson, Wisconsin. As always, it was a great delight to be part of such a well-organized, well-researched and well-presented event. The lectures and discussion that took place over the course of our week-long stay helped clarify and articulate many of the concepts that we have had in our minds over the last several years revolving around Messianic Judaism. One of the primary concepts I took home from the conference is that the goal of Messianic Judaism is to become a prolepsis of the Messianic Kingdom. What does that mean? Let me explain.

First, let’s define the term. According to the basic definition, prolepsis is “the representation of a thing as existing before it actually does.” In other words, it’s when an element — a concept, an event, etc. — represents something before it actually exists.



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