This Sabbath’s video Torah study at 4pm Central Time with the staff and friends of Sabbath Keepers Fellowship.
Here is the Zoom Link: https://zoom.us/j/4731209848
(If you can’t access that link, you may be able to join in a voice-only connection by calling 1-346-248-7799 and use the group code 473-120-9848.)
Here is your weekly commentary from Ovadyah Ben Yisrael:
Yithro – פרשת יתרו “Jethro”
Torah reading: Sh’moth (Exodus)18:1 – 20:23
Haftarah reading: Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 6:1 – 7:6, 9:5-6
Ketuvym hatalmidym reading: 1 Kefa (Peter) 2:1-3, 9-12
Shalom aleykhem, achym, b’shem Yehoshua Hamashiach, Adoneynu ~ Peace to you, my brothers, in the name of Yehoshua the Messiah, our master.
V’atah im shamoa tish’mu b’qali ushmartemet britiy vih’yiytem li cegulah mikal ha’amiym. Ki li kal ha’aretz; v’atem tihyu li mam’leketh Kohanym v’goy qadosh. ~
”Now, therefore, if you will hearken with hearing to My Voice and keep My covenant, then you will exist to Me as a treasure from all the peoples; for to Me (belongs) all the earth; and you will exist to Me as a kingdom of priests and a nation of set-apartness.”
These words from our sedra are another simple if/then proposition. This is a common form of logical reasoning in most every language and culture on earth. It is a guarantee that, if you will do this, *then* such will be the result. The implication is that the reverse also must be true: if you do not do this, *then* such will not be the result. It is an oddity of modern thought, and in particular of Western thinking that, while the positive aspect of logical reasoning is commonly considered—the “if you will do,” the negative aspect–“if you will not do,” is most often ignored or even rejected.
Many people who have been raised in Christian or secular culture have been taught that, with the advent of the “New Testament” and Jesus, this is no longer the case—that is, there are no longer any conditions placed on the chosen people of YHWH regarding their obedience and election. In other words, the “if/then” has been removed, and all one need do now is “believe” (or say you do) in order to become (and remain) one of YHWH’s elect—one of His Qedoshym. This is not true now, never has been, and never will be.
Belief in YHWH through Yehoshua’s saving sacrificial blood results in salvation. This salvation is free and unconditional. YHWH provided this simple avenue of escape from certain eternal death by His attributes of grace and mercy. However, to only say, “I believe,” without the subsequent evidence of works—that is, works of Torah—is not enough. In fact, it is a false faith, for it is written that “faith without works is dead”; and “the one who says I know Him and does not guard His commands, is a liar and the truth is not in him.”
Of our Torah parasha this week, Shimon Kepha has something to say:
“As newborn babes, desiring the sincere milk of the Word (Torah), that ye may grow thereby: if so be that ye have tested that YHWH is gracious.”
In other words, if YHWH has shown you grace, then you should desire to learn and do His Word—His Torah. He next says of Yehoshua, “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense to them who stumble at the Word, being disobedient.” In other words, if you stumble at being Torah observant through deliberate disobedience (which is rebellion), then Yehoshua is that rock of offense and a stumbling stone, so He will be to you of no avail.
Finally, He paraphrases our parasha in conclusion; speaking to those of you who do desire to be His obedient sons, and to learn and do His Torah:
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a nation of set-apartness; a treasured people, that ye should show forth the praises of Him, who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Kepha agrees with the words of our parasha, as well as the if/then proposition and conditional covenant it presents.
So, what of Yochanan 3:16 then?
“For Elohym so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but receive eternal life.”
You will point out to me that it says we need only “believe” in order to be saved and attain eternal life, and you will be correct. Now go and learn the difference between salvation and election, between the first resurrection and the second, between Yisrael and the great multitude who joins them, and between first fruits and the great harvest.
“I look to the hills—from whence comes my help? My help comes from YHWH, maker of heaven and earth.”
B’Shalom, Ovadyah Ben Yisrael