Setting Ourselves Apart From The World

8 Tishrei 5776
by David Weiss

Deuteronomy 22:8-12:

“When you build a new house, you must build a low wall around your roof; otherwise someone may fall from it,and you will be responsible for his death. “You are not to sow two kinds of seed between your rows of vines; if you do, both the two harvested crops and the yield from the vines must be forfeited. You are not to plow with an ox and a donkey together. You are not to wear clothing woven with two kinds of thread, wool and linen together. “You are to make for yourself twisted cords on the four corners of the garment you wrap around yourself."

This chapter of Deuteronomy has a series of commands in it that seem somewhat random at first. If you read them in the context of the entire Torah then you see how they show the theme of the Torah. A big part of what G-d was showing in the Torah was the idea of being
different than the people who were living in the land they were about to possess. Over and over, we see the idea he was communicating was to not be like them. He did not want intermarriage with them nor to worship their idols. That is why he wanted the Israelites to defeat them in battle as they entered the land. He didn't want them to be
influenced into idolatry by them.

Here in this section of verses he gives rules for things he did not want to exist side by side. He didn't want two kinds of crops sewn side by side, or two different kinds of animals to plow side by side or two kinds of material to be sewn together. Sometimes people try to look for a modern application of these rules. Not that there is anything wrong with understanding the modern day application of eating pork (for example, from the dietary laws) but that it somewhat misses the point. It's okay to understand them in that light but the
original purpose is found in the context of the obedience it required of them.

Some people also believe that the dietary rules and other aspects of  the Torah no longer apply. They base this on verses in the New Covenant which are often taken out of context. They use Kefa's vision in Acts of a sheet being lowered with unclean animals, and the command to eat from it as being a nullification of the dietary laws. But he never actually ate from them. It was a picture from G-d to not call Gentiles unclean but for Kefa to tell them about the Gospel. I personally believe the dietary restrictions still apply, but only to
Jewish people. The book of Acts makes it clear that they do not apply to gentile believers. Are they a matter of salvation? I am not convinced they are, but neither am I convinced they have been nullified for Jewish believers.

This context of the Torah does apply to all believers. The Bible teaches us to be in the world but not of the world. It is telling us that it is still true that we are to be different than the world around us. How else can we show unbelievers that we are different from
the world? If we make business decisions like them, how will they see
us as different? If we act just like them, how will they see us as  different? You may not feel led to wear garments with only one kind of material or not believe you can only eat certain foods. But when we go the opposite direction and do everything the same way as the world
does it is hard for them to see a difference in us and therefore a need to change.

I know two different people whose faith led them to make hard decisions in their work a number of years ago. One is a police officer who was told to sign a blank arrest report because the person arrested was the child of a politician. He refused to do so and eventually
everything worked out. Another was a plant manager whose boss wanted him to do something similar. (Sign a paper that was not true.) When he refused, he ended up losing his job and had to get a job that paid half of what that one paid. Both were led by their faith. Both had different outcomes. We do not know what results our faithful actions will bring about and that is why it is called faith.

The bottom line for us today is not whether I am correct in my assertions or whether you agree with them. The bottom line is that  from the beginning of any kind of organization to how we worship G-d,he has been very clear about one thing: we are supposed to stand apart
from the world and how they live for themselves, versus how we are supposed to live our lives for G-d. Whether we do that by following the rules of the Torah or by living our lives in a way that shows the world we are different is not the important part. Living for G-d;
walking with him, and listening to his counsel are how we set ourselves apart for him. The great part is that it does not have to befor show in any way. We just need to live our lives for him and they will see the difference in our lives. Then we will have the opportunity to tell them about him.

What Is Your Heart Set Upon?

Today's prayer

Dear Lord Jesus, There were times when Your silence was powerful. Other times Your wise questions and Scripture responses spoke volumes. You are the best example of thinking before speaking or acting; being angry without sinning; being kind to your enemies and in so doing, putting them to shame or "heaping coals of fire" upon them. I love Your Word, dear Word who was in the beginning, is now and forever will be. I worship You dear Son of the Blessed. May You be honored through my life. In thankfulness and love I come to You, asking forgiveness.
Devotional by David Weiss  --2 Tishrei 5776
Divrei Hayamim Bet (2 Chronicles) 1:10-13 "So now, give me wisdom and knowledge; so that I will be able to lead this people. For who is equal to judging this great people of yours?” G-d said to Shlomo, “Because you set your heart on this — because, instead of asking for riches, wealth, honor, the death of those who hate you, or long life, you asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself, so that you would be able to judge my people, over whom I made you king — not only are wisdom and knowledge being given to you, but I will also give you riches, wealth and honor such as no king before you has ever had; and no king after you will have as much.” So Shlomo came away from the high place at Giv‘on, from in front of the tent of meeting, to Yerushalayim; and he ruled over Isra’el."

Yesterday (Monday) was New Years Day on the Hebrew calendar. We are now in a new year and the High Holy days have begun. New Years day is called Rosh Hashanah which means "the head of the year." It also begins the days of awe which lead up to Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement which is next Wed. The days of awe are a time to reflect on the past year so that we might know what sins we are repenting of on that day. It is a day of fasting. Messianic Jews see this differently because we know that Yeshua the Messiah died for our sins. But we still observe these Biblical holidays as part of our heritage. It is what Shlomo spoke of to G-d in the verses preceding this section.

G-d approached Shlomo in a time of worship and asked him what he wanted from him. Shlomo said that because he was king as a result of G-d's promise to his father David, that he would like wisdom and knowledge to be able to rule. We see that request here in verse 10. G-d's answer is one you have probably seen before. He says that because Shlomo asked for wisdom instead of wealth, riches and honor, that he would give him all of those things. G-d is not a crystal ball which we use to make wishes. He is the giver of all good and perfect gifts. And when we ask things according to his will he often gives us
what we ask for or even more. Although it may not look exactly like we thought it would.

I cannot fully imagine what it was like for Shlomo to do this. I can be as selfish as the next person. So my effort in prayer is to seek to understand what to ask for. Yeshua gave us understanding of how to pray. He gave us what we often refer to as "The L-rd's Prayer." Some people call it "the our Father" since that is what it starts with.From Matt 6:9-13 "You, therefore, pray like this: ‘Our Father in heaven! May your Name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us the food we need today. Forgiveus what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have
wronged us. And do not lead us into hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One. For kingship, power and glory are yours forever.  Amen.’"

Yeshua did not say that G-d wouldn't give us other things, he just shows us the right attitude to have in prayer. As believers in the marketplace, our effort is not to find the best job or work at a place that makes us happy. Our job is to pray for wisdom of how to do the job he gave us. It is also to intercede for those around us that they might come to know G-d. Praying that his Kingdom come and his will be done is the attitude we are to have. He may give us a promotion or he may give us wealth and honor or even another job, but those are not our goal. Our goal is to be faithful in the things he has given us.
How do you pray at work? What is your goal there?
The world tells us much about upward mobility at work and in society.There are hundreds of books, blogs and seminars telling us how to achieve these things. Yet they aren't necessarily what G-d is leading us towards. Yes, he does reward some with those kinds of things but        they are not what we should seek. His wisdom is what we should seek.

What good is it for us to achieve those things if we do not have his wisdom to carry them out? Yeshua also said to seek first the Kingdom of G-d and his righteous and then the other things would be added to us. The "other things" he was referring to were food and clothing.

The last verse from today says that after this time of worship and                                     asking for wisdom, that Shlomo went back and ruled over Isra'el. That  is the main point of seeking G-d's wisdom and his righteousness and for his Kingdom first. It is for us to rule in this world. Adam was given dominion in the world. It is not about position or wealth or anything other than ruling according to G-d's will. In the book of Revelation, it says that that those who overcome the world's system will reign with Messiah in the millennium. We are not all called to rule or reign in the world's system right now. But what we do each day as we try to live for him is going to be rewarded in a spiritual way. And that is worth all the effort to get it right by walking in his wisdom.

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