Biblical Basics

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Latest Podcasts in Biblical Basics

Mark Call – Parsha “Balak” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

Mark Call – Parsha “Balak” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

Most people probably remember this story based on the name of the character who talked to YHVH more than the King for whom the parsha ["Balak" (Numbers 22:2-25:9)] is named. More memorable, still, is "Balaam's Talking Ass" - who isn't actually named in story at all -...

Now Is The Time with Rabbi Steve Berkson | Are You Covenanted? Part 54

Now Is The Time with Rabbi Steve Berkson | Are You Covenanted? Part 54

Moving into the letter to the Hebrews chapters 7-9, a comparison or contrast of not only the two priesthoods, Levitical and Melchizedekian, begins to be made, but also a comparison of the two temples–earthly and heavenly. Then, arriving at the key verse that has to do...

Dr Hollisa Alewine – Footsteps of Messiah 118 (That Day You Went Missing)

Dr Hollisa Alewine – Footsteps of Messiah 118 (That Day You Went Missing)

That’s not like you.

He wasn’t himself.

She’s having a bad day.

Ever say that to or about someone?

After the beloved Miriam’s death, the gracious Moses and Aaron go missing:

And the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh. And Miriam died there and was buried there. Now there was no water for the congregation.

And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the Lord! Why have you brought the assembly of the Lord into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink.” Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.” And Moses took the staff from before the Lord, as he commanded him.
Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?” And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy. (Nu 20:1-13)

When Moses and Aaron took the message to the congregation, did they transmit the Glory of the Presence? Was it consistent with Kadesh, a place of testing in holiness?

When they delivered the message, did Israel see what they saw in the Tent of Meeting?

In Chukkat, there are three examples of the “sanctification of the Name” to witnesses through the death of a righteous person:

1)The death of Miriam

The death decrees of

2)Moses and


Before that, the deaths of Nadav and Avihu…

Then Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the LORD spoke, saying, ‘I will be sanctified by those who are close to Me, and before all the people I will be honored.’ So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.” (Le 10:3)

When a righteous person is judged or simply passes away peacefully, it definitely creates awe, mourning, and fear in those who see or hear it, thus sanctifying the Name.

But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Since you did not believe in Me to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore, you will not bring this congregation to the land which I have given them.” They are the waters of strife, where the children of Israel contended with the LORD, and He was sanctified through them. (Nu 20:12-13 Artscroll)

As a result, the trio were all removed from the congregation before entering the Promised Land. Missing.

A garden locked is my sister, my bride,

A rock garden locked, a spring sealed up. (So 4:12)

A hint to our missing persons, Miriam, Moses, and Aaron, may be found in the “eyes of the people,” the Bride being tried in the wilderness:

“Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water.” (v 8)
“…to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel…” (v 12)

Einayim (pl), ein, “eye,” or “sight” also means a spring, a fountain. Had Moses and Aaron spoken tenderly to the sealed “rock garden,” it may have released the holy spiritual power of faith, hope, and love within the Bride. Instead, they scolded angrily, and it released only natural water. This did not really help the congregation through the test, only pointed out their shortcomings.

Nothing has changed in our Exodus story at this point. Israel is the Bride being tested according to the mitzvot, particularly the Ten Words they agreed to at Har Sinai:

“You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Dt 8:2)

In this week’s Torah portion, we can find tests of at least five of the first six Words:

First Commandment (Exodus 20:2)

I am the Lord Your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Second Commandment (Exodus 20:3-6)

You shall have no other gods beside Me.

Yet, Moses and Aaron say, “Shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?”

Third Commandment (Exodus 20:7)

You shall not take the name of the Lord Your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that takes His name in vain [falsely, in vanity, in emptiness]

Moses and Aaron’s words are not exactly a vow, but a violation of the spirit in which the message was received. It was passed on to the people in a spirit of anger, not holiness. “And the glory of the Lord appeared to them, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them…” In other words, Moses and Aaron, “do it like this…” in a spirit of glorious assurance just as you’re experiencing it in the Tent of the Assembly.

Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11)

Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy.

We’ll come back to this one.

Fifth Commandment (Exodus 20:12)

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord God gives you.

“Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing.” (Ex 15:20) “You rebels…”
Miriam was a mother in Israel, a prophetess, and the congregation needed to mourn her and honor her memory. Instead, Moses calls them “rebels,” a play-on word to Miriam’s name [Hamorim-Miryam]. As a result, they did not progress to the Land.

Sixth Commandment (Exodus 20:13)

You shall not murder.

“Death and life are in the hand of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” (Pr 18:21) “You rebels…” The text implies that the water stopped because Miriam died. The people were grieving more than just the loss of water, but Moses and Aaron, likely exhausted from grief themselves and the weight of leadership, went missing that day. They murdered the congregation’s reputation by calling them rebels when the Holy One knew it was a grief and glory problem, not a rebellion. They were accused with Moses and Aaron’s own shortcoming that day.

Maybe the simplest explanation is found in the beauty associated with the Tried Bride…

Your lips, my bride, drip honey;

Honey and milk are under your tongue,

And the fragrance of your garments

Is like the fragrance of Lebanon. (So 4:11)

Torah is milk and honey; it should be pleasant to those who hear it. The Bride’s fragrance is that of Lebanon, the “bones” of the Temple structure. It houses the Presence and glory of Adonai. The words spoken to the Bride of Israel should have comforted them with their pleasant encouragement and released the fragrance of Adonai’s glorious Presence.

Midrash Rabbah 4§22: “Anyone who says words of Torah in public, and they are not pleasing to those who hear them is:

Like the fine flour that floats on top of the sieve, it would have been better for him had he not said them.
Like the bride, who is pleasing to people when under her wedding canopy, it would have been better for him had he not said them.
If the audience does not appreciate them, the words of Torah that he is imparting will suffer disgrace.
One must ensure that he teaches Torah using the choicest of words, entirely free of inaccuracy or imperfection.

The midrash is explaining that if the teaching is not in harmony with the whole Word, the teacher will teach inaccurately, not discerning the hearts of those listening. Moses and Aaron needed to bring the whole glorious experience they had in the Tent of Meeting to the people whose hearts were grieving. Assurance of help coming. By omitting it, this test in the wilderness brought disgrace to Israel, especially Moses and Aaron.

Fourth Commandment (Exodus 20:8-11)

Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy…Wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Where is this in the story of the rock? It is in the equivalency of expression in holiness. Even as we are in the “wilderness of the peoples” seeking to draw close to the Presence of Adonai, so He has provided us the cooperative means just as He provided a Tent of Meeting to the Bride in the wilderness…

You shall keep My sabbath is equivalent to reverencing the sanctuary.

Our test in the wilderness of the peoples is to keep the Shabbat! As the Levitical priesthood guarded the holiness of the Mishkan and Mikdash, so the royal priesthood guards the sanctuary of holiness by creating a place of assembly in the Presence of Adonai so that we are filled with His glory to pass on to those in need.

You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me. These are the garments which they shall make:..(Ex 28:2-4) … “They shall be on Aaron and on his sons when they enter the tent of meeting, or when they approach the altar to minister in the holy place, so that they do not incur guilt and die.” (v. 43)

Rashi: “When they enter the Tent of Meeting…and die.” See that you have learned from this verse that a Kohen who performs the service lacking any of the Kohen’s garments in subject to death.” This is a death “at the hands of Heaven,” not execution by the courts.

Leaders and priests are tested to see if they will uphold the holiness of Adonai; so is His royal priesthood. If the priests are lacking a garment, they suffer a kind of death different from a typical death. Likewise, the royal priesthood will be tested for her bridal garments. She will be tested for the Ten Words to which she agreed. She should lack nothing faith supplies for her beauty.

As Boaz tested Ruth, and as The Holy One tested Israel in the wilderness as a Bride, so we are tested in the wilderness of the nations, “abroad”:

To the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (Ja 1:2-4)

It is believed that the manna was provided in Moses’ merit and the pillar of cloud in Aharon’s merit. The water came from the Rock in Miriam’s merit.

The three siblings operated as a unit. Although the para aduma was burned in the second year in the wilderness for use in the Mishkan, the Torah portion inserts it in Chukkat, drawing the connection between the purifying water of the ashes of the red heifer and Miriam’s life, which helped to purify Israel. In this test, perhaps Moses and Aaron could have helped the Bride release the faith Miriam modeled for them, not simply to give them, but to teach them to operate their gifts from within themselves.

Moses and Aaron were to speak, not strike, the rock to release its water. Who knows if the whole congregation could have learned from their example to release Garden words with faith and kindness?

Sometimes we need, “Suck it up, Buttercup.”

Sometimes we need, “Words of life and healing are within you…release it.”

When we grieve over a missing person or opportunity, we are vulnerable. We may complain, lash out, or go missing ourselves. Chukkat is the story of the whole community. What happens when it is not the leaders who are missing, but the members of the congregation?

Therefore, if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. (1 Co 14:23-26)

The Holy One is sanctified in the eyes of unbelievers when ALL contribute to the assembly. There are different kinds of prophecy, but all involve a telling or affirmation of the Word, which convicts, heals, provokes to repentance, encourages, comforts…because it is manifest through gifts, it is exactly what the grieving, exhausted, or rebellious heart needs to hear. If, like Moses and Aaron had a bad day grieving for their sister, a leader goes missing on Shabbat, a royal priesthood can stand in the gap even though they may also be grieving. Their willing presence directs attention to Heaven and releases pure, clean water for the needs at hand.

It is a Bridal test of released, purifying waters. The words we speak in the assembly should be milk and honey: purifying, edifying, provoking to repentance, comforting, healing, encouraging, inspiring joy.

When leaders or congregants go missing, the Bride has a hard day of testing.

What is worse than a Bride who dies trying? One who never tried dying.

At least Moses, Aaron, Nadav, and Avihu died serving. Our presence on Shabbat invites the holy Presence to dwell among us. It honors Him, not our emotion of the day or our purposes. He will be sanctified when someone goes missing, one way or another.

So on those days when I’m not quite myself yet, but I’m not anyone else either, that’s a day to speak less as I serve, as Aaron remained silent about Nadav and Avihu. Let the assembly step in and release pure water.

Let us honor the Holy One in the assembly, using His gifts just as we received them so that they become glory to His Bride.

Mark Call – Parsha “Chukat” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

Mark Call – Parsha “Chukat” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

Parsha "Chukat" (Numbers chapters 19 through 22:1) is, in at least one way, the second parsha in a sequence that arguably has to do with "rebellion." Although in a very different way. And virtually every element of this one, from the 'chuq' of the 'red heiffer' -...

Now Is The Time with Rabbi Steve Berkson | Are You Covenanted? Part 53

Now Is The Time with Rabbi Steve Berkson | Are You Covenanted? Part 53

Continuing the journey in the Book of Hebrews towards the key verse, chapter 7, verse 22, where it talks about Messiah Yeshua being a guarantor of a “better covenant”, Rabbi Steve Berkson begins this episode in chapter 6 to provide more context building up to the...

Dr Hollisa Alewine – Footsteps of Messiah 117 (A Tried Bride)

Dr Hollisa Alewine – Footsteps of Messiah 117 (A Tried Bride)

A Tried Bride

In Creation Gospel Workbook Five Volume Four (Bamidbar), students are challenged with the following exercise:

Draw a circle on a sheet of paper, but don’t close it. Inside write all the gifts, abilities, and characteristics that you KNOW are completely you. Don’t write what you’d like to be or do, but what you already know describes you. Let the circle sit for a few days or even weeks. Add or remove as necessary. It is okay to consult close friends or family who know you well. When you’re satisfied that what’s inside that circle describes what can be definitively known about you, close the circle.

This simple exercise helps us to explain the problem in the Torah portion Korach this week:

Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the LORD; but as for Aaron, who is he that you grumble against him? (Nu 16:11)

The leading administrators from the tribes of Reuven and Levi became jealous and bitter against Moses and Aaron. They are influencers of their generation. Moses reminds them that they were each given important leadership roles and service in the Body of the their future Messiah, but for some reason they became angry with Adonai; however, Moses and Aaron were the physical scapegoats for their jealousy. Moses wants to know why they were picking on Aaron. Who was he but an assigned agent of the Holy One? Authority comes from Heaven, not personal ambition or the ability to influence people.

Aaron was a man walking in obedience to his gifts and calling; he was walking in the Way. When a disciple walks in The Way of obedience to Adonai, then he walks in a power of the Ruach HaKodesh that threatens the satan. Aaron was walking in the power of THE NAME. He was operating to the best of his ability in the gifts and abilities he’d been given to intercede for Israel. We saw his Divine gift early in the story when he met Moses and willingly interceded as a speaker for Moses when Moses was still struggling to walk in his own gift of administration…which he’d learned early in the house of Pharaoh, then abandoned for a time while he learned shepherding in the wilderness.

The simple circle warmup exercise above was taken from a rabbi who was teaching on confusion and doubt. It is better to inventory one’s strengths and weaknesses early in a journey than to leave the path littered with ill-fitting armor and unrealistic dreams. In this context, the exercise points out where Korach and his assembly, and we as well, covet and enter spaces and places not apportioned by HaShem.

Once the circle is closed, spend all your effort developing what’s inside it, never what is outside it. This is your portion. If something else will be added later, it will grow from what is inside the circle, not what is outside.

The warmup exercise of drawing the circle is a way of helping disciples avoid doubt and confusion as to their roles in the Body of Messiah, families, work, etc. Every disciple must build the “name” or reputation and deeds uniquely apportioned to him in this world. The writer of Proverbs acknowledges that a Godly balance is desired in the portion:

Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is my portion… (Pr 30:8)

The Father knows how to apportion His gifts to His children. He supplies food and water inside the circle, like the Garden of Eden. The difficulty for most of us is that we don’t want to close the circle. We want to keep our options open so we can be or have more or be responsible for less.

This brings us back to Shavuot and the story of Boaz and Ruth. Once Boaz realizes who Ruth is, he doesn’t react exactly as we’d expect him to. Yes, he invites her to his table, makes sure she gleans more with less effort, and she’s protected in his field. What he doesn’t do is lavish gifts or an all-expenses paid new home and car. Or donkey. He doesn’t woo her with expensive gifts. If he is such a close relative, and we know that from the first time he laid eyes on her he was attracted, why not roll out the red carpet?

Even as she sweats to glean in his field, Boaz and the whole city know this about Ruth’s name, her reputation:

“Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.” (Ru 3:11)

Boaz wants to see if she would be content with her portion. Having been Divinely guided to his field, would she be content in it and grow into maturity with him, or would she seek a faster way to the top outside his authority? Would she follow the reaping crowd to new fields? This was the testing of the future bride as the testing of the Bride in the wilderness.

Korach and the other leaders had the potential to build within their assigned positions. Had they applied the energy of coveting Aaron and Moses’ positions into developing their own, imagine what a blessing they would have been to Israel. They failed the test of the Tenth Word:

Tenth Commandment (Exodus 20:17) You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, nor his wife, his man-servant, his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is your neighbor’s [in order to steal it].

Boaz tried Ruth to see if she had any residue of covetousness, a rebellion against her portion. And then, Boaz demonstrates he also follows the principle of authority by refusing to “steal” Ruth from a man who had a stronger legal claim to her and the property:

“Now it is true I am a close relative; however, there is a relative closer than I. Remain this night, and when morning comes, if he will redeem you, good; let him redeem you. But if he does not wish to redeem you, then I will redeem you, as the LORD lives. Lie down until morning.” (Ru 3:12-13)

And Ruth waited for the result. Boaz would do what she couldn’t. Yes, working within one’s circle takes longer, but the result is less confusion and doubt in the Body and Bride of Messiah.

Today we struggle with so many people who are adept with technology beyond their sense of responsibility to the Body of Messiah. They are called “influencers,” and they love to gather a crowd. Because the goal is to influence and gather, not to build and gather, they daily subvert the work of local congregations.

Those congregations provide face-to-face opportunities to explore the Word, an opportunity to follow the model of Yeshua by physically attending a congregation each Shabbat, and by gathering at the feasts. The local leadership knows the sheep by name and reputation: when they hurt, when they need help, and when they triumph.

?They are not driven by a single doctrine, which often contributes to feelings of self-righteousness among those crowded around the influencer. The local pastor or rabbi wants to build and feed the flock on healthy fields and pastures where they can grow within the circle of their portion on a balanced diet, not the Sugar-Pops of the latest “wow.”

Influencers gobble up “likes” and statements of affirmation. Some of them even thrive on negative feedback…I suppose they think negative attention is better than no attention. Attention is their food, a feeling of power. This is covetousness, not of a good gift, but often in order to steal the attention of the flock and plant “grumbles.” Coveting a good thing is a good thing, but not to the point we “steal” from someone else’s place in the Body:

And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? But earnestly desire the greater gifts. (1 Co 12:28–31)

Yes, desire the greater gifts, but allow them to grow out of the circle of gifts Adonai has placed within us. A greater gift must stand the test of the wilderness.

Influencers know how to gather a crowd, but the question is whose authority will they trample and steal to achieve their goals? How many flocks will they scatter?

The attention-gobblers might take a lesson from Korach and his band. The average Israelite may be left standing in doubt, but the Ruach HaKodesh is not confused. The single-doctrine attention-gobblers might even pull people with completely different agendas into the same demonstration or challenge to authority, but Korach’s family and the Reubenites, if successful in their power play, would have soon turned on each other. In the end, they both thought they deserved the authority. They certainly wouldn’t have shared it as they demanded Moses and Aaron do!

The Boaz and Ruth example shows us the discipline of hard work and patience that establishes a spiritual legacy passed on to children. We can be gobbled up by the wilderness, or we can diligently serve the community in the wilderness so that we become a community in the Land of Promise.

A tried Bride.

Circle closed.

“Come out of her, My people” Show – Declaration of Independence Special ~ Mark Call weekly

“Come out of her, My people” Show – Declaration of Independence Special ~ Mark Call weekly

Join host Mark Call on this Independence Day, 2024, for a special in-depth look at what he demonstrates is THE Most Important Document Ever Written ORIGINALLY in the English Language, the Declaration of Independence... ...and why it has NEVER been more important to...

Now Is The Time with Rabbi Steve Berkson | Are You Covenanted? Part 52

Now Is The Time with Rabbi Steve Berkson | Are You Covenanted? Part 52

Now we understand and should try to relate to the First-Century audience as the author of the letter makes the case for Messiah Yeshua’s place in the “big picture” and in the lives of the individuals as their standard of lifestyle was about to go away–the destruction...

Mark Call – Parsha “Shelach Lekha” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

Mark Call – Parsha “Shelach Lekha” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

Parsha "Shelach Lekha" (Numbers chapters 13 through 15) begins with a story that is often just called "The Spies," because that might be sufficient to remind us what happened. But because the story is also truly tragic, there's "more to the story." As us so often also...

Now Is The Time with Rabbi Steve Berkson | Are You Covenanted? Part 51

Now Is The Time with Rabbi Steve Berkson | Are You Covenanted? Part 51

This exciting episode begins the letter to the Hebrews. The goal of going through this letter is to get to chapter 7 and verse 22 where it speaks of Yeshua being the guarantor of a “better covenant”. What does this mean and hasn’t it caused a lot of trouble due to...

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