Torah Portion 48 Shoftin (Judges)
Haftarah Isaiah 51:12-52:12
Brit Hadasha (Renewed Covenant): John 1:19-27; Acts
This weeks Torah portion addresses the role of the “Shoftin” (judges). Adonai begins to give instructions on how each tribe is to maintain the holiness according to The Most High’s instructions. In the opening verses of this Torah portin in Deuteronomy 16 it reads,
18 “You are to appoint judges and officers for all your gates [in the cities] Ahayah (The Most High) your God is giving you, tribe by tribe; and they are to judge the people with righteous judgment. 19 You are not to distort justice or show favoritism, and you are not to accept a bribe, for a gift blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of even the upright. 20 Justice, only justice, you must pursue; so that you will live and inherit the land Ahayah your God is giving you.
Here we read each tribe was instructed to have their own judge to judge the people with righteous judgment (v.18). While we are clearly instructed to pursue a life that reflects all the instructions given to us in the written covenant and commandments, we are also given the manner in which to conduct our lifestyles to produce the set apart treasured reflections of Great I AM (The Most High) for which purpose we are created.
Personal Reflection on Deuteronomy 16:18-20
One of the most pressing matters I have found during this journey of Exodus to the Torah is the trail of judges I have allowed to lead me in my call to ministry. Long before The Most High escorted me on the path back to the Torah I could scarcely find one who operated according to Deuteronomy 16:20 “Justice, only justice…” Instead v. 19 was clearly being ignored as it states, “You are not to distort justice or show favoritism, and you are not to accept a bribe, for a gift blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of even the upright.” Church after church, leader after leader, had a select group they favored for the contributions they gave to the ministry. WOW! It states that favoritism distorts justice, but yet it is everywhere I turn in ministry.
The judge that nurtures these characteristics is a rare commodity. This misbehavior actually becomes a poison to the good which is the aim from the beginning by each minister, shepherd and leader. The obvious universal commonality of this demeanor brings my heart to pause and gasp for air. The bribe is in the offering plate while individuals call it worship, the business of the church seeks to find the one who gave the generous gift and begins to cater to them. Let me pump the brakes one moment, it is NOT, I repeat it is NOT only happening in the church. The ministry whether in a church or outside of it, it is still happening. I have witnessed it again and again, sadly we end up still looking exactly like the world. This characteristic lines up perfectly with the forces of this world.
This verse also clarifies what happens to the judge upon receipt of the gift when this occurs, the blindness sets in and the influence of favoritism (wanting to be recognized or for whatever reason) begins to even twist their words. The shocker here is this the one known as the straight arrow even the one known to be upright. This is an ‘aha’ moment, because who is it that does not favor one who does something nice for you, or treats you or shows their kindness through monetary gifts? People what is really being said here? The characteristics of a judge who seeks ‘justice, only justice’ is one who has removed the effect or emotion attached to monetary gifts out of the equation. Is it possible not to be infected by the poison of monetary influences anymore?
The author of a snare:
The brokenness that comes from the injustice of favoritism in these cases, ruins both the giver and receiver alike. The one who gives the monetary gift, unless they are giving it for the largest praise or to have their name uttered by the leader often, they are lured by the praise, applause and cheering for giving, which creates a snare for the heart. It now has a greater potential of being a stumbling block for the giver.
Here is my experiment suggestion. When someone gives you a sizable amount of money as an offering or blesses you numerously thank the person for allowing you to be a recipient of their honoring in their life by the sacrifice. Then continue to elevate the praise to whom it belongs, to The Most High. A few chapters back it was stated in our remembrance in the book of Deuteronomy,
But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
Here are the governing guidelines for Yisrael in choosing a king according to The Most High’s instructions:
- The king must be from among the Hebrew nation of Yisrael. He was not to be a stranger, a foreigner from another nation
- He was not to multiply to himself horses. The horse is a picture of strength. Yisrael’s strength was The Most High Himself! To multiply horses, was to turn from The Most High to trust in man’s strength and ability. It was a return in heart to the ways of Egypt. Isaiah 31:1-3)
- The king was not to multiply to himself wives. The result would be a weakened heart. A heart that was divided between love and faithfulness to The Most High. One that sought after pleasing, and the pleasures of numerous women. The allowance of Torah for plural wives was a concession toward the customs of the society of that day. It was NOT a commandment! The Edenic culture is The Most High’s purist picture of marriage: ONE man and ONE woman. Even Master Yeshua referenced this in Matthew 19:4-8. One need only look at the dysfunctionality that plagued Jacob who fathered our nation. The plurality of wives and the jealousy, envy, strife and hatred that was generated in the relationships between the women involved, bled down to the children. Ya’akob’s/Jacob’s sons emulated that dysfunction, and even resorted to attempted murder, kidnapping, and extortion. Out of all of the many things that the returning house of Yosef-Ephraim-Yisrael needs to have restored in this day, multiple wives is NOT one them! A revival of the principle of the execution stake is the greatest need. We are called by our Master, who left us His example, to embrace it DAILY. Learning to put sin to death, deny the flesh, and our soul-life at every hand. Remember the words of Rav Sha’ul, ‘Dead men don’t sin’! (Romans 6:11) We are DEAD in Mashiach to sin, having died with Him on that tree. Therefore we are made ALIVE with Him, to LIVE together with Him, to the glory of The Most High. Amein!
- He was not to multiply to himself silver and gold. The love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10) Both David, and his son Solomon, violated this principle including the one above about multiplying wives. In the end, David ultimately escaped the evil this failure to obey The Most High’s instruction will bring, but Solomon did not. The book of Proverbs testifies of the glory of The Most High when a man lives a life dedicated to the Torah. The book of Ecclesiastes is a testimony to what happens when a man becomes estranged from the wisdom of Torah. ALL is vanity. Solomon’s sinfulness in these areas brought great judgment on his son, and the whole house of Yisrael.
- The king was to hand write a copy of the Torah scroll in book form. He was to read, and study it every day. Through it, he would have wisdom in order to lead The Most High’s nation. It would act as a deterrent to sin, pride, strife, leaving the ways of The Most High’s Torah, the commandments, and being judged for such things. The end result would be he, his sons, and the nation of Yisrael would all live the fullness of their days out. They would live in the abundance of The Most High’s life and blessing.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of study points I found in this weeks Torah portion. In analysis of these characteristics and how we are to select our leaders; left me here weighing the ramifications of selecting the incorrect individual to lead you I felt this was a great chunk of information to start you off as you too consider what you have read this week or may be finishing up in your Torah studies and applying it to your life.
Seeking truth to let FAITHFUL reign in my life,
*Disclaimer: I am only a student first of the Most High ה י ה (Ex. 3:14 “I AM that IAM) Ahayah asher Ahayah by the Holy Spirit and then covered in the dust of a rabbi, Rabbi Ralph Messer, teaching us our Hebrew Roots in Scripture. We study biblically based Hebrew no association to Judaism, Kabbalah or Messianic Jewish studies. Each academic achievement given by Yahweh and now my journey through the Torah I share with you. I pray that if you have been seeking God like never before to know Him in a better way, you will find it in the Torah. I am a firm believer that The Most High knows how to lead and teach us, getting us to the teaching and revelation He so desires. GospelCNTRO Magazine’s motto, “The Good News is Christ Never Takes Revelation Out.” Therefore, we should never stop expecting Him to reveal more of Him to us as we seek Him diligently.
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