Shoftim – “Judges”

This Parasha begins in chapter 16 verse 18, where the commandment from the Lord states that the Israelis were to appoint judges in all the cities they reside in. These judges would determine one’s guilt and one’s fate. The judges were instructed to not pervert justice, show no partiality, and accept no bribes (for bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of the Righteous). The Lord instructed the Judges that justice (and only Justice) you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you. The Lord tells us in this Parasha that there would be not only one judge in a town, but several depending on the size of the town.

Chapter 17 starts out with forbidden forms of worship, such as worshiping other gods, Asherah poles, or an other forms of worship that does not bring glory to El Gabor Mighty God. This is a sin directly against God and so is considered a capital offense. If this charge is brought, it must be by two witnesses or three witnesses and then the person would be taken outside of the city limits and stoned. Brothers and sisters, make sure you’re not committing idolatry, with something replacing God. God considers this abomination. It is good to take inventory of our commitment to the Lord and repent of this immediately. One other thing that God instructed was that the first two stones must be thrown by the witnesses. It’s a good reminder of the accusations they made must be true and also a reminder to the others that this abomination to God would not be tolerated.

We also have in chapter 17 laws concerning Israel’s king. It would be sometime before Israel’s first king, King Saul, would come to power. However, God already knows exactly what the Jewish nation would do as well as everybody else on the planet, and that includes us as well. He told them that a king would come that must be of Jewish descent and El Elyon, the God most high. would be the chooser of this. God also tells us that the king should not be proud. should not acquire many horses or many wives, that his heart might be turned away, and warning not to collect too much gold and silver. All these examples came to fruition in King Solomon who, after God gave him his request of wisdom, failed to heed it and fell from grace. We do see that Solomon later repents in the book of Ecclesiastes. The offenses Solomon commits will cost the nation of Israel in that it would now be split into two kingdoms and Solomon’s lineage would only have two tribes. God also reminds the Israelis that they would not be going to Egypt again. There is also a reminder that any king is to read of the law that God has given every day to help them as a reminder to do as God has instructed.

Chapter 18 tells us that the Lord God says he will raise up a prophet like Moses from among your brothers, meaning from the Jewish nation and it is to him you shall listen God says. We can see similarities between this prophet Moses and the prophet God the Father will bring and his name is Yeshua. Both Moses and Yeshua would be sent by God and both would be Jewish. Moses and Yeshua would be born under foreign rule, and both had families that questioned whether they were sent by God. Both Moses and Yeshua brought bread from heaven. In particular, Yeshua was that bread from heaven. Both were shepherds over the Father’s flock. When Moses gives the Torah 50 days after the Exodus, we know celebrate this as Shavuot, Messiah Yeshua also brought us Pentecost 50 days after he was resurrected. Both Shavuot and Pentecost are both celebrated on the same date. When Moses gave that law, 3,000 men were executed by the Levites. When Yeshua gave the Holy Spirit to the disciples, the disciples witnessed to the Jewish people in Jerusalem and 3,000 came to faith. Brothers and sisters there are no coincidences in Scripture.

Chapter 19 reminds us again of cities of refuge and that three were intended to be set up as Kedesh, Schechem, and Hedron. Now these cities were meant for someone who had committed manslaughter, and the definition that we are given here is that while he took the life of someone, he did not hate him before; meaning that it was not premeditated. Premeditated murder called for an individual to be stoned. We also see in chapter 19 that difficult cases were to be delegated to the priest and the tabernacle was to decide the tough cases. In this chapter, God gives us his instruction concerning witnesses. If the witness was lying, he was to take place of the one whom he bore false witness against. This helped to cut down on people bringing false claims against another. God speaks several times to the people that they need to “purge the evil from within them” and this was done by being stoned. So what can we learn from this Parasha, God cares deeply about justice to be fair and impartial and that the people who had this responsibility were above reproach meaning they would not take bribes.

There was also a reminder that it was a capital offense to be an idolater and that God considered this an abomination and wanted to purge the evil that these individuals participated in by taking their lives. God does not mess around, so brothers and sisters we should all purge those things from our life that take our eyes off of God. God also reminds us that there would be a time when we would have kings over us and that they must be from the Jewish nation and He would be the chooser of those kings, which if you read through first and second Samuel and first and second Kings you will see the good, the bad , and the ugly — and brothers and sisters it’s mostly ugly. We are also reminded that God would send another great prophet like Moses and we know his name would be Yeshua. Not only was Yeshua the greatest prophet, but he was the last prophet and you cannot live without Him. Our only hope is found in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Choose wisely brothers and sisters, it’s important that we know who He is, but it’s more important that we follow who He is!!!

That is my prayer for you. Shabbat Shalom.