Weekly Parashah

Parashah Shoftim

7 Elul 5778 \ August 18, 2018

By Bob Barrett

 

This Week’s Readings:

Torah: Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

Haftarah: Isaiah 51:12-52:12

Brit Chadashah: Ephesians 6:10-19

 

 

This week’s Parashah offers many topics to choose. There is the idea of appointing judges, and if there are two or three witnesses of a man or woman doing evil, that is serving other gods, to put them to death by stoning. There is occultism, which if we look closely around us, we will see it is very prevalent in our society. There is the teaching that kings are to copy the Torah, not just read it and mediate on it but actually copy it, so as to know it fully and intimately. And there is one of the most important passages in the entire Torah inverses 18:15-22; Adonai will raise up a prophet like Moses, which is a prophecy of the coming Messiah, whom we know to be Yeshua.

 

But I have selected a different subject— confidence in battle. Now I have lived a relatively simple life, I have not made many enemies, at least none I know of. There was a boy on my block who was a good friend until we had a disagreement and never spoke to each other again. And there were other kids on the block who didn’t like us “Christ killers”. But all in all, I wouldn’t say I have had any enemies. There have been many competitors in the business world, but no real enemies.

 

So why did I choose the theme of “confidence in battle?”  Because most of us, myself included, struggle with two very real enemies—the one within and the Adversary on the outside.

 

Many years ago there was a comic strip called “Pogo” by Walter Kelly. The main character was an opossum named Pogo who was quite wise in his own way. He once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Put another way, we are our own worst enemies. There are many of us who suffer with addictions— alcohol, drugs, food, sex, wealth. Some of us can’t handle money wisely; we spend too much on our cars, homes, clothing, entertainment, or we can’t make a decent living. There are those who suffer from mental illness or inflated egos and refuse to get help.

 

And of course, we are all under the attack of Satan.

 

The Torah Portion tells us to be confident in battle because G-d is on our side. The Kohanim tell us not to be faint hearted, not to fear, tremble or panic. Adonai goes with us, “to fight for you against your enemies,” to save you. The officers tell the troops that those with a new house, vineyard or wife are to go back and take care of that business before doing battle. And those who are afraid and faint hearted should not enter into battle so they don’t spread their fear to other soldiers.

 

The attacking armies are to first give the opposing cities a chance to surrender and make peace; but if they don’t, they are to be destroyed, so they won’t be around to teach the Israelites the abominations they have done for their gods. In this command we see the power of Satan to infiltrate the Children of Israel. Even if they were victorious through the strength of Adonai, they could still be brought down by worshiping other gods.

 

The Haftarah Portion makes it a little clearer that we are not only doing battle against enemies or opposing armies, but also Satan. We are told to remember Adonai and His great might, and not to fear the oppressor. There is, I believe, end times prophesy in verse 51:14. “Soon one bowed down will be released. He will not die and go to the Pit, nor will his bread be lacking.” This reminds me of the prophesy in The Book of Revelation which tells that Satan will be released after the 1,000 year reign of Yeshua in The Kingdom on earth. Up to that time, Satan had not been killed and sent to Hell. This is the translation in the TLV Bible, which we use. Notice how in the word “Pit” the “P” is capitalized. It is not just any old pit. However, it is interesting to note the NASB translation is different. It says, “The exile will soon be set free, and will not die in the dungeon”. I think this reference to the exile could refer to Israel. I hope for the sake of the Drash, the TLV is accurate.

 

 With battles going on within us/caused by us, and without from Satan, what is a believer to do? That’s where…   

 

The Brit Chadashah Portion comes in. This portion from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians tells us to put on the full armor of G-d. First we are told to put on the belt of truth. Since Satan is the father of lies, the truth will fight him. It will also tell us how much we are loved and empowered by G-d so we can fight our inner demons. Second, we are told to put on the breast plate of righteousness. This is not our right acts but the righteousness credited to us when we accept Messiah in faith. Next, we prepare/protect our feet for battle. The battle field is very rugged and to march towards victory we must stand firm. We will be advancing in the adversary’s territory, so we will need to know the Gospel. Then we will need the shield of faith, our true, strong faith which will deflect anything Satan throws at us.  The helmet of salvation will keep us protected from false doctrine which can penetrate our minds. This is where discernment comes in handy. The sword of the Spirit is the Word of G-d, which is the only offensive weapon in the armor. Remember how Yeshua, when in the desert for 40 days, used the words of the Tanakh to defeat Satan. Finally, we are told to pray. Prayer is the source of our strength. Prayer is to the believer as spinach is to Popeye.

 

We have to define our enemies, both those we create within us and Satan, the roaring lion on the outside.  Then, we have to rely on the strength of Adonai, who has provided us with the armor to be victorious in battle.