Category Archives: Torah tidbits

Comments about the Torah portion

Gen. 8:15 -9:17 Parashah 7, triennial cycle – Be fruitful and multiply

Gen. 8:17 Bring out every living thing of all flesh that is with you – birds, livestock, creatures that crawl on the earth – and they will spread over the earth and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.

Gen. 9:1 God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.”

Gen. 9:7 But you, be fruitful and multiply, spread out over the earth and multiply on it.

Three times in this section God instructs Noah, his sons, and the animals to be fruitful and multiply. What does this mean? Doesn’t to be fruitful mean to increase and multiply?  How can we be fruitful and what is the connection with increase?

One of the words translated as “fruitful” in Hebrew is “parah” פרח, Strong’s #6509. The word means “to bear fruit”. The ancient Hebrew pictographic letters symbolize an open head and a mouth, meaning open the head, symbolic of crushing the head of a grain of wheat to reveal the nut inside. [Benner, Jeff, Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible, #1388] Related words are bull, break, decorations, crush and winepress.

The word “multiply” in Hebrew is “rabaw” רבח, Strong’s #7235. The word means to “increase”. The ancient Hebrew pictographic letters symbolize a head and a tent, meaning head of family, symbolic of a representative with authority, abundance of, or increase in, numbers, strength or authority. [Benner, Jeff, Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible, #1439] Related words are master, much, increase, ambush or struggle, encourage, pride, strive and strife.

In John chapter 12, Yeshua said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I assure you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces a large crop. The one who loves his life will lose it and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow Me. Where I am, there My servant also will be. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” John 12: 23-26.

Yeshua illustrates the meaning of being fruitful by visualizing a grain of wheat falling to the ground, dying and producing a good crop. In order to bear fruit, the outer shell must be crushed to reveal the life within the wheat. He immediately relates the wheat to people who want to follow Him. The crushing of the wheat in our lives is done through the process of serving Him as He obeys the Father.

In Colossians 2, verses 6 and 7, we are exhorted: “Therefore as you have received Messiah Yeshua the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”  If we walk with Yeshua, we are with Him, following Him. Being with Him and serving Him results in good roots and being built up in Him. The visible result is thankfulness.

Being fruitful leads to increase. Paul criticized some in Colossians 2, verse 19: “He doesn’t hold on to the head from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its ligaments and tendons, develops with growth (increase) from God.”  If we are rooted and grounded in Him, established in the faith, demonstrating thankfulness, we are connected to the body and God brings the increase.

Paul continues in chapter 3 with teaching on how to walk in Him: “Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another, and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive. Above all, put on love, the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of the Messiah, to whom you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.” Col. 3:12-15.

There are obstacles to being fruitful. The kingdom of God and the word of God may be compared to seed. Matt. 13:24. In Matthew chapter 13, Yeshua told the parable of the sower:

Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “Consider the sower who went out to sow. As he was sowing, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up.  Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. But when the sun came up they were scorched, and since they had no root, they withered. Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them. Still others fell on good ground, and produced a crop: some 100, some 60, and some 30 times [what was sown]. Anyone who has ears should listen!” Matt. 13:3-9.

He explained the parable:

“You, then, listen to the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path. And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But the one sown on the good ground—this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times [what was sown].” Matt. 13:18-23.

If we hear the word and don’t seek understanding of the word, the enemy snatches it away. The word, the seed, never takes root. Some seed does take root, but the roots are not deep. We may hear and understand the word, even receive it with joy, but since we harbor unthankfulness, the root is short. If we do not walk with Him, serve Him and display thankfulness, we are not well rooted and grounded in Yeshua. Thus the word and the kingdom of God does not produce good fruit when the time of persecution or pressure comes. Other times we let the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Yeshua told us to be anxious for nothing, not worrying about food, drink or clothing. Luke 12:22-32. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34. He immediately follows this warning with a call to service:  “Be ready for service and have your lamps lit.” Luke 12:35. If we die to self, being the crushed grain, we will display the fruit of thankfulness and be anxious for nothing. After all, what does a dead body have need of food, drink and attire? If we allow the desires of this life to distract and divert us from walking with Him, or allow the worries of the world to choke out the word, we will not be fruitful and there will not be increase.

Increase –  the abundance of numbers, strength or authority – is granted by God as a result of fruitfulness. The crushing of the grain or the pressing of the grapes leads to fruitfulness. The word “winepress” is related to fruitfulness. In the parable of the vineyard owner, we see that there is a connection to authority.

Matt. 21:33-46:

“Listen  to another parable: There was a man, a landowner, who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. He leased it to tenant farmers and went away. When the grape harvest drew near, he sent his slaves to the farmers to collect his fruit. But the farmers took his slaves, beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Again, he sent other slaves, more than the first group, and they did the same to them. Finally, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. But when the tenant farmers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance! So they seized him and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?”

“He will completely destroy those terrible men,” they told Him, “and lease his vineyard to other farmers who will give him his produce at the harvest.”

Yeshua said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This came from the Lord and is wonderful in our eyes?

Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing its fruit. Whoever falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder!”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they knew He was speaking about them. Although they were looking for a way to arrest Him, they feared the crowds, because they regarded Him as a prophet.

Yeshua linked the fruitfulness of the nation to the kingdom of God. The chief priests and Pharisees knew this parable was about them. The issue was who would obey God’s authority? The tenants did not honor the authority of the owner, the Pharisees did not honor the Son sent in the Father’s name. Good fruit leads to an in increase in numbers, strength or authority, all of which are gifts from God, and all are designed to increase His kingdom.

Isa. 9:7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

This verse is not about earthly governments – it is about the ever-spreading and growing authority of God in the earth as a result of the good fruit of the followers of Yeshua. As we follow Him, as we produce good fruit, His authority in the earth grows and will never end. To the degree that we hold on to our life, let the pressures and deceptive charms of the world stifle the production of good fruit, we will also hold back the kingdom of God and reduce our rewards in the life to come.

Is Christ the least in the kingdom?

Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19).

It is popularly taught that Christ fulfilled the law of Moses, making it irrelevant to today’s followers of Him. Yet, His own words would indicate that this teaching could not be true, for then Christ would be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

Further discussion of this issue at Theology News Network.

The narrow gate – a game changer – guest post

the narrow gate…..a game changer. I was reading this week’s Brit Hadasha portion in Matthew 21 and 22. I found it interesting how Yeshua referred to the Law (Torah) and the Prophets together when making a point. I don’t really remember linking the two before for purposes listed below. It can also be found in Matt 22:40, Matt 5:17, and Matt 7:12. This brought to mind an argument(s) presented by non-Torah keepers, a.k.a. Lawless Ones, where Torah was somehow done away with. So I naturally asked myself (not really) “are the Prophets done away with too since Yeshua mentions them in the same passage(s); same context?” Not hardly! But for now I will holster my hollow point loaded, Messianic Apologetics .357, for the next time I get into a shootout with the Law-less Ones as this is not at the heart of this study. (Yes, this is original material even though I did spend ALL weekend listening to Michael Rood) It began and ended, focused on and illuminated by Yeshua in the Sermon on the Mount. Most of us awakened to Torah, realize Yeshua is explaining the Spirit of the Torah v The Letter in The Sermon. Towards the end of The Sermon in v 13 Yeshua says: “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy [1] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Instantly the light came on and a huge burden was lifted. It made sense. If we have been chosen by Him and we choose life (Torah), then the promise is it will be hard. And it’s hard like mining for gold; very few find it. But in a very real way, at the intersections of our lives, it’s hard like raising children, working at a marriage, writing a business plan, making a business plan work, getting the children ready to go to Shabbat, getting ready for Erev Shabbat, etc. All these are more than rewarding after accomplished.

As I began to share this with Jennifer, she pointed out she had done a word study a few years back on this passage. The word “narrow” was really more like “obstacles” with the understanding that “the narrow way” of a Torah observant life will be filled with obstacles. Everyone has obstacles in their lives. Often it is the same recurring one. The one that just will not go away. The one that’s there year in and year out. The hurdle we can’t get over. The one that causes us to ask “what are we doing wrong?” The one that feels more like a curse, but we know that can’t be right because we’ve been through the Mikvah process. For me this answered a lifelong quandary; and that is this….. They’re just obstacles. Not curses. Obstacles make us stronger. They are there for us to navigate around, climb over, or drive/push/pull/drag them out of the narrow way. His way. The only way. Asking ourselves and/or our brothers and sisters in Yeshua “why, why, why?” is not even germane to the Torah filled believer. Now, asking the “why questions” about the Lawless maybe germane. Like “why do they have the big buildings” and “why are they able to raise big money, have big homes, take long trips, while comfortably coasting?” Yeshua said the “wide gate is easy, leads to destruction, and those who enter are many. That’s really not that hard to understand.

Today I have come to understand and embrace joy of the journey; (Rabbi Messer told us this 6-7 years ago and I couldn’t receive it then) knowing its purpose will be served and with it, great reward! Anything worthwhile in life has and will cost us dearly; 1. either financially, 2. emotionally, 3. physically, 4. maybe even spiritually. For women it is 1. childbirth, 2. homeschooling, 3. enduring the poor decisions of their husbands, while waiting on YHWH to make them the men they were born to be. If anything is easily attained, it generally will have a diminished value v. something of great price. The fact that Yeshua said “the way that leads to life is hard and those that find it are few” makes it liberating! It lets us know that if we are coasting and comfortable in life, we’re most likely not on His Road of Torah, but possibly on the wide road to destruction. He’s telling us to count the cost, and its will cost a lot, but come at all costs.

So if you’ve been living Torah and fighting; even bloody, broken, and bruised, for what seems like the same fight for years, rejoice; you’re in the good fight! You didn’t do something wrong. That’s the evil report. You’re in the narrow way! Filled with obstacles of every sort; Baruch HaShem Yahweh; and your reward is closer than it’s ever been. It is written! Abba, we praise Your Holy Name; Yahweh Unrivalled! Yahweh the Magnificent! Yahweh the Great! Great is your mercy, as you have and are, allowing us to understand your purposes; while we’re still on the planet. Yahweh, your promises are even greater than your fame. Both strengthen and lead us into all truth, as we do our best to follow you, Yahweh Elohim. Le ‘olemei ‘olamim. Ameyn. Curtis Russell 12/17/2009

Willful ignorance

This week, we studied the story of Noah. Of course, we live in times where the story of the great flood is considered to be fiction.

2 Pet.3:3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.

The book Grand Canyon: A Different View offers a discussion of the evidence of the flood presented by the Grand Canyon.  It has photos of the Grand Canyon, with illustrative Bible verses, essays from scientific Christians who believe the flood formed the Canyon, descriptions of the animals and plants living in the Canyon,  and a few essays by Christians explaining why they believe in Biblical creation rather than the theory of evolution or the Big Bang Theory.

The photos are beautiful and the book raises issues not easily explained except by God’s word. Recommended for families.