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Updated   July 12,  2013

 

The Seat of Moses

 (Part 3 of 5 on the Mechoqeck)

 

Author Anonymous

We’ve been exploring some really exciting stuff here over the past two teachings, specifically looking at the meaning of Isaiah 33:22. That’s been our main scripture since we began two teachings ago. Isaiah/Yesha’yahu 33:22 tells us that Hashem is our lawgiver. And we learned that the Hebrew word for lawgiver is Mechoqeck. That word refers to the one who has the responsibility to administrate, to establish, to set, to decree, to inscribe, and to govern the laws that he has established for the nation.

 

We have no problem understanding that our Creator is the Lawgiver, the Mechoqeck…but then you see, remember, we asked the question…: “Okay, fine. He is our lawgiver, but how does he do that function down here on the earth?” And that then led us into some really exciting material.

 

We learned first of all that he did that initially through Moses, his appointed guardian of the Torah. In fact, the one whom he used to actually give the Torah to the Nation of Israel, through this man Moshe/Moses…he was the Mechoqeck. He was the lawgiver. That then led us to some other verses where we read that Judah, the Jewish people, the Tribe of Judah—they also are the Mechoqeck.

 

Of course Moses is “sleeping” right now, isn’t he? ButJudah is not sleeping. Judah is alive. Judah is “awake.” Judah is walking around here on the planet…so we don’t have to fret, we don’t have to worry. We do have a Mechoqeck down here on the earth to take care of the administration of the law within the Nation of Israel. That should be great, we should be happy about that.

 

We read that in Psalms. The Book of Psalms is known as “Praises” actually in Hebrew—Tehillim. We read that in Tehillim 60:7 and also in 108:8: “Judah is my Mechoqeck,” he says!  We have to take that pretty seriously. We have to be pretty concerned about how we relate to Judah when it comes to law.

 

That’s an important question for us who associate and who are part of the Ten Tribes, isn’t it?

 

Then we went to Genesis, the Book Bereshit—“In the Beginning”—49:10. There is a very profound, prophetic statement made that the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a Mechoqeck, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh come. And unto him shall the gathering, or the obedience, of the people be.

 

We spent most of the last teaching examining whether or not the coming of Yeshua as Messiah son of Joseph—Mashiach ben Yosef—over two thousand years ago was “ Shiloh.” And we learned from very carefully looking at that verse, and looking at the coming of Mashiach, looking at the two Messiahs, and we learned that Shiloh here is a reference not to Messiah son of Joseph, it is not a reference to the “suffering servant” Messiah, but rather is a reference predominantly to Mashiach ben David, Messiah son of David, the king—the one who will come and establish the Kingdom of Elohim…of our Father, over all Israel.

 

This left us with some very profound conclusions. Essentially, we from among the Ten Tribes, who for a long time have had a difficulty accepting the authority of Judah within the Nation of Israel, especially when it comes to Torah, issues of interpretation of Torah, administration of Torah, governance and all those kinds of issues. It’s a very, very profound issue for us to begin to get our heads around, isn’t it? Because the easy thing, of course, was simply to say, “Oh well, you see, Yeshua, he came, he was Shiloh, and so now the scepter has departed from Judah . You see, it’s moved on from Judah , and now it’s gone to Yeshua.” And you can say, “Well, all that works fine because Yeshua is from Judah anyway.”

 

But, there is a very important problem, and that goes like this: if Yeshua has replaced Judah as the Mechoqeck, then what are the Jewish people supposed to do when it comes to deciding issues of Torah in dealing with their everyday lives in the Nation of Israel? It’s a valid question. If Yeshua—or you could say the “Messianic community” if you like, by extension—has replaced Judah, and supposedly, if the scepter has departed from them, and the lawgiver—the Mechoqeck has left them—then what are they supposed to do? We remove from them every semblance of judicial authority and legal authority, we strip them of everything that they need in order to administrate and take care of law within their nation? See, one of the interesting things is this…we from the Ten Tribes have failed to realize that Israel is a real, functioning nation. It’s not just a religion. It’s a people! It’s a nation. And that nation, that people, needs laws. It needs constant laws—just like we have laws in Canada, we have laws in Great Britain, we have laws in South Africa, we have laws in the United States of America . Can you imagine a nation functioning where you had no lawmaker? Can you imagine a nation functioning if you stripped it of all of its judicial authorities? That’s the implication in much of Messianic teaching—that supposedly, Judah has no more lawgiving authority.

 

Hopefully we are beginning to see the “illogic” of that kind of thinking.

 

At the end of the last teaching we asked the question…how did the office of Mechoqeck, the office of lawgiver, transfer from Moses our teacher, Moshe…to the Tribe of Judah? How did that transition take place? Today we are going to focus in on that specific question, and come up with an answer from scripture, from Torah, in fact!

 

Let’s turn to the Book of Exodus/Shemot 18. We are going to begin in verse 13 and read a little bit. This story takes place after the Children of Israel left the Land of Egypt, but had not yet come to Mt. Sinai, had not yet come to the Mountain of Elohim, the mountain from which he delivered the Ten Commandments and gave the whole Torah to the Nation of Israel. But yet, even at this time, Moses was “judging” the people. Notice the story. “And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening.”  I want to give just one little thought, a little “seed” to perhaps plant in some good soil—we are going to get back to this later—notice Moses sat to judge the people. This is the origin of what comes to be known as the “seat of Moses,” a term used to describe the official judicial capacity within the Nation of Israel. And where does it derive? It derives all the way back to Moses, even here.

 

Where did Moses get the authority? He was given it by Hashem. We have talked about that, but I just wanted us to see it, because later on we are going to read when we get to Matthew 23 that certain people in the days of Yeshua were also sitting in the seat of Moses. This is where it all comes back to—Moses sat to judge the people. The people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening, it says. “And when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he did to the people, he said, “What is this thing that thou doest to the people? Why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even?” Why do you sit there alone? You’re in the seat of Moses, Moses, but you know what Moses? You ought to have other people there sitting with you in the seat of Moses! Ah-ha!! So, there is reason to consider that more than one individual has the legitimate right to be sitting in the seat of Moses. This idea was planted, in a sense, into Moses’ head through his father-in-law.

Verse 15: “And Moses said unto his father-in-law, Because the people come unto me to enquire of Elohim:” That’s why I do it! “When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of Elohim, and his laws.”

 

First of all, let’s understand that this all was taking place before the people had actually arrived at Mt. Sinai . They still needed law! They still needed decisions; they still needed a judge. Remember, we read in Isaiah 33:22 that Hashem is our judge. Here it says Moses was the judge…again, any discrepancy? No! How does Hashem act as judge in the nation? He acts through his people—his appointed delegates—in this case, Moses. Now, this is going to expand here because the father-in-law of Moses has a valid point that he is trying to help Moses understand.

 

Verse 17: “And Moses' father-in-law said unto him, “The thing that thou doest is not good.” It’s just not a good idea, Moses! You’re gonna’ wear yourself out! Verse 18: “Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee.” It’s just too difficult to handle all of it by yourself. “Thou art not able to perform it thyself alone,” he tells him. So, verse 19—he is going to offer now, a suggestion—“Hearken now unto my voice, I will give thee counsel, and Elohim shall be with thee.” So, don’t worry, you’re not going to loose your authority here. I’m not trying to strip anything from you. I’m trying to help. “Be thou for the people toward Elohim, that thou mayest bring the causes unto Elohim: And thou shalt teach them ordinances and laws, and shalt show them the way wherein they must walk, and the work that they must do. Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear Elohim, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens.” This is tremendous wisdom,  Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, assigns specific qualities, character traits that need to be embedded in these men.

 

Let’s read them again. First of all, in verse 21 we read that these people that are appointed need to be able men. They need to be capable men who have the capabilities, the talents, the gifts, the know-how to be able to officiate as judges. Not only do they need to be capable, they need to be capable in these specific ways: (1) they need to fear Elohim, (2) they need to be men of truth, (3) they need to hate covetousness. Why is that so important? Because covetousness, you see, can allow you to be persuaded by a bribe! And thereby pervert justice. So, they need to fear Elohim above all things—and the fear of Elohim is the beginning of wisdom. Then, they need to be men of truth. What is truth? Thy Torah is truth. So they have to be lovers of the Torah, and they have to be hating covetousness.

 

There is this hierarchy. Moses, is the main Supreme Court judge. Eventually, he is known as the President of the ultimate high court, the Beit Din or the Sanhedrin. But then, under him are local leaders, local judges—rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, rulers of tens…so there is hierarchy, there is structure here…there is order, and organization. There is governance! And when there is governance there is not just authority, but there is also responsibility. Of course, the people who have authority have the responsibility to exercise that judiciously and righteously. But there is also responsibility incumbent upon those under the authority.

 

We see now in verse 22, he goes on: “And let them judge the people at all seasons: and it shall be, that every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge: so shall it be easier for thyself, and they shall bear the burden with thee.” Share the load, you see. You can’t handle it all Moses. You’re not Elohim! You can only do so much! And then you are going to get a backlog of cases. People are going to be waiting in line for a long time. And then they’re going to get tired. You see, that’s what he said earlier…then they are going to wear away and you’re going to wear away…it’s just not going to be workable. So the only cases that will be brought to Moses will be the cases which are too difficult, or perhaps too all-encompassing, that deal with such great a matter that should affect the whole people. These cases then are funnelled up the system to the Supreme Court, to Moses, at this time in history. He will then rule on those issues.

 

Verse 23, he goes on: “If thou shalt do this thing, and Elohim command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace.” So Jethro says, “Listen, Moses, I’ve got this suggestion. I think it’s great, but you need to check it out, and you need to bring it up to Elohim, to find out whether or not, in fact, he’s going to command you to do this.” See, that’s what he says in verse 23…look at it again: “If thou shalt do this thing, and Elohim command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure…” Jethro here was a wise man, acting in the best interests of the people of Israel. Of course, Moses took this issue up with Adonai, and he was then commanded to do so, because we read in verse 24: “So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father-in-law, and did all that he had said. And Moses chose able men out of all Israel.” Yes! Out of all Israel, initially out of all the tribes—important. Let’s understand that as Ten Tribers. Initially, it was out of all the twelve tribes.

 

But, we’re going to get to that, why is it now limited to Judah? We’ll get there. The fact that it’s today limited to Judah does not invalidate Judah as being Mechoqeck, because the scriptures say that Judah is the Mechoqeck. But we just need to understand how that transition took place, and why the Ten Tribes really have no legitimate legal right today to be sitting in the seat of Moses. “And Moses chose able men out of all Israel , and made them heads over the people, rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And they judged the people at all seasons: the hard causes they brought unto Moses, but every small matter (or light issue) they judged themselves.”

 

So, this is the beginning. This is the beginning of the transition from Moses being the sole legitimate judicial authority in the land, the sole lawgiver, the sole Mechoqeck, to now we’re seeing a whole bunch of other people. This was the early stages. This took place before Mt. Sinai . Like many things in life, things evolved. And this evolved. This initial suggestion by Jethro evolved into something more specifically commanded by Hashem. Let’s find out what, and where and how.

 

Let’s turn now to Bemidbar…the book known as “In the Wilderness”—or in English, we refer to it as Numbers 11:16: “And Adonai said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee. And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee” (upon you Moses), “and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.”

 

Let’s just jump down to verse 24, and see what happened. “And Moses went out, and told the people the words of Adonai, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle. And Adonai came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.”

 

With these verses we have a little bit of a refinement to the original suggestion by Jethro. Jethro’s suggestion was fine at the beginning, and perhaps in certain ways, it continued to function throughout the nation…rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, rulers of tens. But ultimately Adonai himself establishes a specific judicial system. The seventy elders are appointed and anointed. They are given the gift of ruach ha-qadosh—the set-apart spirit—the very same set-apart spirit that Hashem gave to Moses. So, they are imbued or endowed, empowered by the ruach, the spirit, to administrate judicial issues in the land of Israel along with Moses. We have Moses plus seventy of the elders. What a tremendous court…seventy-one men, all being led and guided and empowered by the ruach qadosh, by the set-apart spirit. This is tremendous. These seventy-one people now are the beginnings of the Beit Din, the House of Judgment, normally referred to as the Sanhedrin…which was the highest court in Israel made up of seventy-one men—capable men, men of truth, men who feared Elohim, men who hated covetousness. And these seventy-one men with Moses himself as the President or the Nasi, he sits in the highest office of judge, but within the context of an entire court…made up of seventy other men.

 

You see, an entire judicial system is needed. Although there are so many of us within the Ten Tribes, within the Messianic fold, who totally reject the scriptural authority for there being a legitimate Sanhedrin. But please understand, the Jews didn’t make this stuff up! The Jews preserved it—for all of us. And, therefore, they deserve honor, and respect, and admiration, and thanks for preserving what we so carelessly tossed out many years ago.

 

Is there authority in the Torah for the establishment of a high court made up of men who would make judicial decisions and judicial rulings in the land of Israel ? Absolutely! Does that mean that every last one of their judicial rulings is found in the Written Torah? Of course it’s not found in the Written Torah. That’s why you need the guys making decisions!

 

What does this episode now lead us to understand? This episode teaches us the importance of oral decisions—new decisions. Why are they new? They are new because certain circumstances are going to be raised, and brought up, life is going to go on, things are going to happen, history is going to march forward, technological advances are going to come in, they are going to have an impact in human conduct and human affairs, and there’s always going to be a need for righteous decisions. “What do we do with this? What do we do with that? How does this impact Israel ? How does that impact…? How should we respond here?”

What does this mean? This means that these kinds of decisions are going to need to take place. It demonstrates the need for rulings on a regular basis for the nation. And many of these rulings would eventually be so important—not all of them, of course—but many of them would become so important, they would become legal precedents. They would be learned. They would be memorized. They would be taught, and they would be transmitted generation by generation. And this is part of what has become known as the Oral Torah…something many of us have had really negative feelings against for a long time. But fundamentally, the Jews have understood a very important reality of the Nation of Israel. They have always understood the need, on a regular basis, for legal rulings and legal decisions—and for these decisions to be learned and memorized, and used as precedents…not to be thrown out…but to be used as precedents even as we do in our world today. We have all kinds of case law. We have all kinds of precedents filling all kinds of legal books, that many times lawyers will bring up in court, and tell the judge, “Remember it says in So-and-so vs. So-and-so that this was the decision. Therefore, we have to rule it this way.” And, therefore, an argument is raised based on case law or precedent law. This is the way our judicial and legal systems work. And it’s the same way the legal system works in Israel . You need to have precedent case law.

 

This hasn’t been understood too well, for whatever reason, for Christians and many Messianics. Why? Let me err on the side of kindness. Perhaps we have not understood it so well because we have not seen ourselves as “a people,” and as “a nation.” And, in point of fact, we weren’t a people. Remember the teachings on the Book of Hoshea. We were lo-am…“not a people.” And specifically in reference to Adonai, we were lo-ami. He said that to us, “not my people.”  And so thinking only in terms of spiritual concepts, sometimes that actually can blind us to the fact that laws and rulings are for a nation.

 

There aren’t really just solely moral or solely religious laws without them also being national laws and civil laws. Why? Because the nation of Israel is supposed to be a goy qadosh. It’s supposed to be “a set-apart nation.” That means all of the laws have a moral or religious component. There is no such thing as “solely civil laws,” or “solely ceremonial laws.” No! All of the laws are moral, all of the laws are essentially religious, all of the laws are spiritual, but they are also physical…they relate to a real functioning nation! This is what we as a people from among the Ten Tribes have really never fully grasped, because we haven’t been a people!  I can understand that. But you see, the time is upon us now where we have to get our heads over this because the day is coming when we will again be called ami…“my people.” That will take place when we as the Ten Tribes rejoin with the House of Judah …forming one nation made up of all Twelve Tribes, and so the two houses becoming one. This will happen in the hand of Mashiach.

 

In case some of you are having a difficult time seeing these things in the Torah, let’s read some more…because the more evidence, the more proof we have, hopefully the more objections that we raise, they can be addressed, and they can be answered, and they can be essentially put to rest.

 

Let’s now turn to Deuteronomy/Devarim 17, because now we get a further elaboration on what we’ve already read. Let’s review. Point 1: Moses is Mechoqeck. Point 2: Jethro comes along and he tells Moses, “Hey, I’ve got an idea. Go check it out with Elohim, but I think it’s a pretty good idea. Get some guys to help you. They can also sit in the seat and you won’t be all alone.” Point 3: Later on, Adonai says to Moses, “I want you to pick out seventy of the elders and I want you to put them together into a court. You’re going to be the head of the court, obviously, because you’re the seventy-first, (or the first, depending on how you want to look at it), and they will be given the ruach, the spirit that’s upon you, and they will administrate and judge cases in Israel , okay?”

 

Step 4. Let’s go a little bit further and see how some of these things are going to play themselves out. Deuteronomy 17:8: “If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment” (too hard can also be translated as too difficult) “between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which Adonai thy Elohim shall choose.” We’re going to keep going here, but let’s pause for a second. This is incredibly important material. I can’t emphasize too much how important this is right here. So, if there arise a matter too difficult for you to make a decision on, too difficult for you to judge and there are different areas here…we’ve got blood/blood, plea/plea, stroke/stroke. Essentially, we’re dealing with typical cases. So and so thinks such and such a thing; somebody else thinks a different opinion. They argue back and forth; they can’t come to a decision. What are we going to do?

 

You know, there are all kinds of these issues right now in the Messianic community. So I want you to think about this because in the Torah we have the solution for all of these kinds of issues. Let me just raise a few of these issues. What kind of a calendar do we use to determine the feasts or the moedim in Israel ? When does Shavuot come? On what day of the week? What day of the month? Shavuot is the Feast of Weeks, sometimes known as Pentecost. The counting of the omer. When do you start counting it? When do you stop counting it? There are matters of controversy today within our gates. What are we supposed to do? What does the Torah tell us to do? Do we just pick our own thing and say, “WelI, I think I’m right. Therefore, I’m going to do this”? Well you see, if we do that, we reject the judicial system in Israel . We do not have the authority to unilaterally decide issues on our own. Why? Because it would be like a lawyer just saying, “Well forget it. I’m not going to go to court. I’m just going to declare the guy innocent.” Or, “I’m going to declare the guy guilty,” or whatever. “I’m not interested in the court’s decision.”

 

But you see, every issue will have at least two sides, and they will have to get together, and they are going to argue about it and then there has to be an arbitrator…somebody has to make a decision! “Okay, I hear your case, I hear your case, and this is the decision of the court. This is what we’re all going to do.” Now, what would you call somebody, a lawyer, or anybody else, who comes to the court, argues his case, receives the decision by the judge and then says, “Well, I’m not going to do that! Forget that nonsense, he’s wrong!” And then, “I’m going to do my own thing!” What would you call such an individual? Would you not call him rebellious? Would you not call him presumptuous? So, why can’t we see ourselves in that light? Oh, it’s tough…oh yeah…it’s really tough.

 

Now, you’re supposed to arise…where are you supposed to go? To the place where Adonai thy Elohim shall choose. We know that the place he chose was Jerusalem . All you need to do is read a whole bunch of scriptures in the Tanakh to clearly show that. In other words, we’re supposed to go to Jerusalem . Well, you say, “I can’t go to Jerusalem today.” Well, maybe you can’t. But you know what? Case law…don’t forget case law. The precedents! Many of them have already been decided. And where were they decided? In Jerusalem ! We’ve already got the case law sitting on the books! What books? Uh-oh…you mean all that Oral Torah books? Yes, because you know what? That’s where we’ve had written down many of these judicial decisions…that were made, in fact, in Jerusalem many of them!

 

Now that we’ve got the case law…why do we have to insist on arguing the case all over again? It’s been appealed, and its been appealed, and we don’t like the decision so we keep bringing it up, and we keep bringing it up…and we keep ignoring the judges’ decisions!  Can’t we see this is what we are doing? I know you’re going to make excuses some of you…but, please, internalize this stuff! Evaluate yourself!

 

Verse 9: “And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment.” So now, what happened? At one point we had seventy elders, and now we’ve got something a little bit more carefully defined. You shall come unto the priests, the Levites, and unto the judge. What is happening to this court? This court is now being further defined, essentially to be comprised of the Levitical priests. Yes, the kohanim! And unto the judge, the judge, in the singular, here would refer to the seventy-first (or first) seat in the Sanhedrin, the ultimate seat we have been talking about all along, the initial seat that Moses sat in as judge. So this is now a reference to the high court, the Supreme Court! “You shall come unto the priests, the Levites, and unto the judge” (or the Supreme Court, or the one that sits in the seat of Moses, as the final arbiter) “that shall be in those days.”

 

Why do you have 71 people on the court? Well because,  you have seventy others…and if 35 vote one way, and 35 vote another way you have to have someone, finally, the ultimate human judge...and he is called the judge. And he’s going to have to make a decision that is going to break the tie. So, is there something wrong with majority rulings in judicial matters? No, nothing wrong with judicial matters being determined by majority vote, because ultimately, in cases of a tie, it has to be broken. We have the same thing in many of our nations today. We have nine for example that might sit on the Supreme Court. Why always nine? Why always an odd number? Well, it’s that reason…because if you have an even number then you can have a tie. To break the tie you need a judge. That should give you a little bit of a handle on some of these things.

 

“And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment.”  I want us to understand something here at the end of this verse. Where it says, “they shall show to you…” the Hebrew words are davar ha-mishpat. The word davar is the Hebrew word for “word” or “thing.” Mishpat is “judgment.” So, what we have here, davar ha-mishpat, is “the word of judgment.” In other words, “they shall show you, they shall render their verdict, they shall render a judicial decision.” But it’s a word. Notice the word is davar—it’s a word of judgment, and it’s coming from their lips, from their mouths, isn’t it?

 

Let’s read verse eleven: “And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the Adonai shall choose shall show thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee.” Now, what is this? The beginning of verse ten, I want to read it for you…v’asita al pi ha-davar. Now, al pi ha-davar—pi is the word for mouth, davar is again that word meaning “word.” So, al pi ha-davar means “according to the mouth of the word,” according to the spoken word. That’s what it means! “And you shall do according to the spoken word, which they of that place which Adonai shall choose shall show thee” (or shall declare).  So, we’ve got evidence here, very strong evidence for Oral Torah.

 

You may say, “Wait a second. It didn’t say anything about the Torah. It just mentioned davar, it just mentioned a “word.” Let’s keep reading. Let’s go down to verse eleven: “According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall show thee, to the right hand, nor to the left.”

 

“You mean I’ve got to do exactly what they say?” Well, apparently. Let’s just pick this verse a little bit apart, because the challenge is that it doesn’t say anything about “Oral Torah.” But you see, it does say something about Oral Torah. It says it right here in verse eleven. The Hebrew words right here at the beginning of this verse are as follows: al pi ha-Torah. So, al pi ha-Torah literally means “according to the mouth of the Torah.” And that’s really similar to what we read in verse ten, which said (the beginning of verse ten) al pi ha-davar—“according to the mouth of the word.” And in verse ten “according to the mouth of the word” is just a Hebraic, idiomatic way of saying “according to the spoken word.” And so, in verse eleven, al pi ha-Torah means “according to the spoken Torah,” or “according to the oral Torah”!

 

Is the Oral Torah mentioned in scripture? Yes! Absolutely! So, we as a people, if we are part of Israel , or we say we are part of Israel , or if we say we want to be part of Israel , then that comes with responsibility. Remember, we said earlier, there is going to be responsibility to those under authority.

 

So in verse ten—let us review here—it says v’asita al pi ha-davar, “and you shall do according to the oral word.” And in verse 11, al pi ha-Torah, “according to the Oral Torah, which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do.” So, Messianics out there, we in the Ten Tribes, what is our response to this? Is it rejection? Is it anger? Is it getting emotional? Or is it humility? Let me think. Let me consider. Let me repent. Let me seek the face of Hashem. Let me admit my errors, and let me turn back to the right path. Because it says in verse eleven that we are not to turn to the left or to the right. You see, that middle road is tough. It’s difficult to find. And many of us, sometimes when we get emotional, we go from one ditch to the other. We go from the right to the left, or the left to the right, and we don’t even get on the road. You see, there’s always that third option, the rare third option. Please, listen to this. The enemy, ha-satan, or if you prefer, Satan, the enemy, the adversary…he always wants us to ignore the third option, the middle road. He wants us to get emotional, so we can go from one ditch to the other ditch. And we get this attitude thing going, right? But you see, put the attitude thing to rest. It’s not easy, because when those emotions get stirred it is difficult to control. I understand that.

 

But think, think…who is your enemy, and what does he want to stop? He wants to stop the Ten Tribes from reconciling with Judah . Why? Because if he can stop that, then he can stop Mashiach from coming. It has always been his plan to destroy Mashiach. And do you  think he’s given up? He hasn’t given up. He’s just using a different ploy now, a different tactic. And the tactic is to teach you folks, and me, wrong things that will prevent reconciliation. And if reconciliation is prevented, and the Twelve Tribes don’t get back together, then Mashiach does not reunite the tribes.

 

What is Mashiach? Mashiach is the word of Adonai. We are to be united, reunited through the word. Now, I’ve been explaining some of the meanings of some of these words here today. So, understand your enemy, and understand his tactics, and do not any longer fall prey to his evil teachings. “Neither to the right hand, nor to the left hand.”

 

Is this mature teaching? Oh, yeah! This is mature. Is this kind of “meaty”? Yeah, I suppose it’s kind of meaty, and I hope you don’t choke on it. As one Rabbi recently said, “You can chew on it, or you can choke on it.” Well, I hope that you would learn to chew on it. Please! For the sake of the Torah, for the sake of Adonai’s right hand, for the sake of Mashiach, for the sake of oneness, for the sake of unity, for the sake of shalom, please…chew.

 

Verse twelve: “And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Adonai thy Elohim, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.”

 

Are you kidding me? You mean that the Torah commands a death penalty upon those of us who refuse to acknowledge the judicial decisions of the lawgiver in Israel ? This is harsh…this is tough!

 

Verse thirteen: “And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.” Well, I can imagine! If this was actually executed the way it is written, people would start hearing and people would start fearing. To act presumptuously here means to ignore the judicial rulings. It means to just forget about it and do your own thing anyway.

 

It’s really interesting, because this is really tough. You want to talk about being a hypocrite? You start thinking about this, and you don’t have to start pointing the finger at other people, and calling them hypocrites…which is wrong to do anyway, but you know what’s going to start happening? You’re going to start evaluating yourself, and you’re going to say, “I’m a hypocrite in this area, and I’m a hypocrite in this area. I’m a hypocrite over here…” And that’s great, because that is what we are supposed to be doing—learning how to judge ourselves. Because if you spend time judging yourself, you don’t have time to start judging others. There are way more important things to do than judging your brother. And that is assessing our own lives and our own souls, and our own minds in the light of the Torah. Yes, this is kind of tough stuff.

 

Did Yeshua’s coming two thousand years ago as Mashiach ben Yosef, Messiah son of Joseph, the “Suffering Servant Messiah,” annul all of this? Did his coming destroy these words of the Torah? I don’t think that any of us would stand up and say, “Oh yeah, of course it did, of course it did.” But if we can admit that his coming two thousand years ago did not nullify the Torah, then we have that ultimate issue to deal with again—and its called responsibility. You see ultimately it doesn’t matter what I think. Sometimes, I get emails from you all, and you ask me, “What do you think about this and that?”  Well, you know…you shouldn’t ask me that. It doesn’t matter what I think. The better question should be, “What does the Torah say about this or that?” And then I can try to answer, and if I can’t I’ll say, “Go talk to someone who knows better than I do.” After all, what do I know? Not much…I’m learning just like you all are learning. I’m just trying to help us all move in the right direction.

 

Look what Yeshua said in Matthew 5:17. “Think not that I am come to destroy the Torah, or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” I’ve come here to DO the Torah, I’m not a judge, and I’m not a destroyer. I’m a doer of the Torah! That’s what he means by “fulfil,”—“I’m going to do it.” We all ought to be “doers” of the Torah, because not the hearer of the Torah shall be justified, but the doer of the Torah shall be justified. It says that somewhere, doesn’t it?

 

Verse eighteen: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one yod or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Torah, till all be fulfilled.” Verse nineteen: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” What does that mean? It should be pretty clear. It’s not really bizarre. It’s only bizarre because it’s tough. Did he really mean this? Yes, he really meant it. Whoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men to break, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven? We’ve got to be really careful that we don’t teach people to break any of the commandments. And we’ve talked about some pretty serious commandments today…the commandment to adhere to the judicial decisions of the Mechoqeck in Israel . I don’t want you to be called least in the kingdom. I want you to be called great in the kingdom…don’t we all want to be called great in the kingdom? So, what do we have to do? We have to do them, and we have to teach them. Please don’t teach against the Torah. If we do that, we are in big trouble.

 

Yeshua didn’t come to do away with the Torah. Let’s go to Matthew 23:1-2. What about these Scribes and Pharisees that he just mentioned? Well, what about them? It says that our righteousness is supposed to exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees. Why did he mention the Scribes and Pharisees? He mentioned the Scribes and Pharisees because the Scribes and Pharisees were the ones sitting in the Seat of Moses. They were the ones who had the judicial responsibility to administrate in Israel . Look at what he says in Mattityahu/Matthew 23:1-2: “Then spake Yeshua to the multitude, and to his disciples, Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat.” See, there it is, that “Seat of Moses”—Moses’ seat. We have already read at the beginning of this teaching where that started from. Moses sat in it alone. Jethro advised that he add people to that. Later on, it was further refined by Hashem to be made up of the Levites, the priests, and the judge that shall be in those days. And by the time Yeshua was walking on the planet the big question could have been, “Who is sitting in the seat of Moses today, Yeshua? Whose judicial rulings should we follow? Should we follow the rulings of the Sadducees?”

 

Should we follow the rulings today of the Karaites, who reject the Scribes’ and the Pharisees’ judicial authority? Should we follow the judicial rulings of various Messianic teachers that go completely contrary to the judicial decisions of the Scribes and Pharisees that were in Jerusalem in those days…and whose precedents we can now read today, if we were willing to learn? Should we, for example, follow a calendar which is not the calendar of the Scribes and Pharisees? Should we follow a counting of the Omer heading up to the Feast of Shavuot that is not the way the Scribes and Pharisees did it? I don’t care if you think they are wrong! It doesn’t matter if you think they are wrong! You see that’s the whole point of Deuteronomy 17:8-13! The matter is too difficult to decide!

 

People have been arguing about these points for over two thousand years…and they are still going to argue about it…and you are entitled to your opinion. But you know what you’re not entitled to do? We are not entitled to veer from the decision left or right. If you don’t think the Scribes and Pharisees are right about how they counted the fifty days to the Feast of Shavuot, you’re entitled to have your opinion. And if you don’t think that the Scribes and Pharisees are right today in how they administrate the calendar, you’re entitled to that opinion. But, you and I are not entitled to teach contrary to that nor to do contrary to that. That’s what Deuteronomy 17 says! And that’s what Yeshua again says here in Matthew 23! The Scribes and the Pharisees sit in the seat of Moses. “All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do.”

 

Are you kidding me? No, he wasn’t kidding and neither am I. This defines for us our walk. This defines for us our challenges. If we say we are a part of Israel , or that we want to be a part of Israel , then let us prove it, not by our words, but by our works, by our actions.

 

“But, didn’t Yeshua condemn them?”

 

Well, he judged them pretty harshly. But what did he judge them for? Did he judge them by saying they were all wrong in their teachings? No! He just finished saying, they sit in the Seat of Moses, and what they say to do…do! What did he judge them for? What was he so harsh with them about? Their hypocrisy!! He says here…“but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” They say what? They say the right things, but they are, at times, hypocritical. Not all of them, so let’s be careful with that. They’re not all hypocrites, and they weren’t all hypocrites. But there was a certain element at that time which was fairly hypocritical, especially those in and around Jerusalem.

 

So, what is he talking about here? He is, in fact, referring to Deuteronomy 17:8-13. He’s talking about that whole issue—do what they do—because they sit in the Seat of Moses. They are the ones who have the authority to administrate the law today in the Nation of Israel, Yeshua says. For they are the Mechoqeck, and if we “buck” the Mechoqeck, if we refuse the rulings of the Mechoqeck on earth, are we not also refusing the Mechoqeck in heaven? If we refuse the Mechoqeck on earth whom we can see, how can we say that we acknowledge the Mechoqeck in heaven whom we can’t see?

 

This is a stumbling block for us. There is no doubt about it. Yeshua’s words in Mattityahu 23 are a serious stumbling block for us. Because many of us, we just love the rest of that chapter…“Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” We like that…maybe we like that too much. And maybe we don’t like verses one and two enough.

 

Did Sha’ul agree with this, the apostle Sha’ul/Paul? Yes, he agreed with it 100%. Notice what it says in Romans 3:1-2. “What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of Elohim.” Oh yes, to the Jewish people were committed the oracles of Elohim. To the Jewish people…they ended up having the responsibility to preserve and to protect, and to guard and to keep the oracles of Elohim—written and oral—the oracles of Elohim that were given at Mt. Sinai.

 

“Well, yes, but they don’t believe that Yeshua is Messiah!” comes the argument. That is irrelevant. In fact, listen to Sha’ul’s point in verse 3. It is very similar to that kind of argument. “For what if some did not believe? Shall their unbelief make the faith of Elohim without effect?” What if some of them didn’t have trusting faithfulness? What if some of them lived a life of hypocrisy? What if some of them don’t believe that Yeshua is Mashiach? Shall their unbelief make the faith of Elohim without effect? Does that somehow strip away the words of the Torah? Heaven forbid! Let it not be so! Let Elohim be true, let the word of Elohim be true. Let the Torah be true…but every man a liar…every man…me, you, all of us. “As it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” You see, it doesn’t matter! That’s why it is so difficult as a stumbling block for us. Because we as a people, we can be really sensitive to hypocrisy, really, really sensitive to it…and how many of us have viewed hypocrisy in others and have said, “Well, I’m not going to do as they do because they are hypocrites.”

 

I understand the attitude…I really do. But it’s not right. It’s an immature attitude. The mature attitude says this, “Okay, so they’re hypocrites. That’s not my problem. My responsibility is to be a doer of the Torah, and to be a keeper of the laws of our people. My responsibility is not to judge my brother, but my responsibility is to yank this humongous big ‘2 x 4’ that I’ve got sticking out of my eye…that’s my responsibility…I’ll trust in Hashem and realize that he will take care of the little specks that are in other peoples’ eyes. It’s not my problem. It’s not my responsibility. But I will not let someone else’s sins or someone else’s hypocrisies veer me away from keeping the Torah.” Now, that’s hard…that’s hard, yes, it’s hard. That’s what life’s all about. That’s the battle! If you can grasp it, now you’re in the ring—you’re in the arena—and now you know what you’ve got to overcome in your own mind, and you know the issues you’ve got to deal with.

 

Look at what Sha’ul says in Romans 13…same book…same basic context…the authority of those in the synagogues. “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers” (the ‘governing authorities’ it could be translated). “For there is no authority but of Elohim: the authorities that be are ordained of Elohim.” Of course, because they are the Mechoqeck! This isn’t talking about some civil ruler down the street. It’s not talking about the king of Rome or Caesar. It’s talking about the Rabbis in the synagogues.

 

Verse two: “Whosoever therefore resisteth the authority resisteth the ordinance of Elohim…”  What ordinance? The ordinance we’ve already read about, the ordinance in the Torah, Deuteronomy 17:8-13…that when you have a matter of controversy you go to the Levites, the priests, you go to the judge that is in those days, in the place which Hashem chose, which was Jerusalem, and you bring your case to that judicial panel, and they make a decision. And then you have the responsibility to stop being presumptuous! Stop being arrogant, stop resisting it. Sha’ul says the same thing: “Whosoever therefore resisteth the authority, resisteth the ordinance of Elohim…” You resist the Torah! You’re fighting against the Torah. You’re breaking the Torah, all along claiming you’re upholding it! That just gives us more stuff to repent about once we “clue in.”

 

Now, have I always understood this? No! I haven’t always understood this, but that’s the beauty of it. We’re learning…it’s okay to be wrong. But it’s not okay to continue in arrogance, and to continue in presumptuousness once we’ve been shown the truth. That then involves us having the responsibility to repent. That means to practice teshuvah…to change…just to change. Say, “Oh, I’m sorry Father, I didn’t know, please forgive me, I have been rebellious. Thank you for your mercy, and thank you for your love, and thank you for your willingness to teach us, and thank you for your patience, and thank you for your covenant faithfulness, and thank you for your longsuffering…and thank you for Mashiach. Thank you for the suffering servant whose life, and therefore, his death has brought an atonement for our profanation of the Name of Hashem. We have profaned the Name of Hashem. Father! Thank you for all of your love!”

 

Look at the end of Romans 13:2. “And they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Judgment! Well, of course…we read the judgment back in Deuteronomy 17. And do we remember what the judgment was? Death. Death! That’s what we’ve earned! Death! The wages of this kind of sin is death! So, let’s stop sinning, okay? Please?! If we can get over this final hurdle I believe reconciliation is in our grasp! Reunion is there…the time is at hand. It’s not far off across the ocean anymore. It’s not way down deep at the bottom of the sea. It’s not way up in heaven over the clouds. You know where it is? It is in our mouths. It is near to our lips…the Torah is here! We can touch it. We can hold it. We can speak it. We can be it! We can allow it to be in us, and come out of us. And therefore, if that can happen, reconciliation is at hand…reconciliation is so close we can taste it. If only we could hear these things! If you’re being challenged by this, and you’re not angry…please share this teaching with others. Please, do so.

 

I’ve written it pretty plainly here today. I’ve written it with passion. I’ve written it with love. I’ve pleaded with us all, to be willing to consider these things. I want to continue this topic next time.

 

We’re going to begin to answer that very specific question, “What about Judah?” How is it that they have been the ones to sit in the seat of Moses to this very day? What happened to the Ten Tribes? How come we don’t have, any longer, any authority to be Mechoqeck, to be amongst the elders? What happened? What did we do? And that is what we are going to address next time, Hashem willing.

 

With all of my love to you all, please, understand that what I speak to us here is not said in anger, is not said to criticize any of us, its there to correct us, in love, and to teach the truth in love…because we all want the final goal…we all want the objective…we all pray, “Thy Kingdom come…” This is instruction to help us achieve what we all want, all Israel, all Twelve Tribes.

 

 

Go on to Part 4.

 

Go back to Part 2