By Joseph Shulam
This is the 3rd Day of Passover. We had a wonderful Passover Seder in our congregation in Jerusalem. There were 90 participants in the new building of Netivyah in Jerusalem. We had several guests from the USA and guests from China and Taiwan who participated in our Seder. For some of our guests this was the first time ever that they participated in a Passover Seder. It is always a joy and a privilege to remember the work of the LORD in the deliverance of Israel and a mixed multitude of non-Israelites out of slavery and into freedom.
This Sabbath the reading of the Torah is called “Shemini” – that is the eight day because the beginning of the reading: “It came to pass on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel.” (Leviticus 9:1 NKJV) However the most famous part of this week’s Parasha is the first half of chapter 10. It is the story of Aaron’s two elder sons, Nadab and Abihu who brought “strange fire” to the altar and fire came down from Heaven and devoured them instantly. The questions that everyone is dealing with is – What is the strange fire? Why did Aaron’s sons Nadab and Avihu bring the strange fire? Why did Moses not intercede for his nephews? Some traditional Christian commentators use this story to show the harshness of God’s judgment in the so called “Old Testament.” If however the readers would continue reading the rest of the chapter may be he would gain some insight or answers to the above questions. There is a second story in chapter 10 of Leviticus. Yes, Nadab and Abihu sinned with the strange fire, but their other two brothers Eleazar and Ithamar who were also priests and sons of Aaron sinned in a much more serious way and yet nothing happened to them. Aaron pleaded for himself and his sons and Moses heard his brother’s plea and approved it. These two children of Aaron, Priests, Eleazar and Ithamar were given instruction by Moses and Aaron: ““Take the grain offering that remains of the offerings made by fire to the LORD, and eat it without leaven beside the altar; for it is most holy. You shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your due and your sons’ due, of the sacrifices made by fire to the LORD; for so I have been commanded. The breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the heave offering you shall eat in a clean place, you, your sons, and your daughters with you; for they are your due and your sons’ due, which are given from the sacrifices of peace offerings of the children of Israel. The thigh of the heave offering and the breast of the wave offering they shall bring with the offerings of fat made by fire, to offer as a wave offering before the LORD. And it shall be yours and your sons with you, by a statute forever, as the LORD has commanded.”” (Leviticus 10:12–15 NKJV)
The first command for these two sons of Aaron was: Eat the grain offering beside the altar without leaven in a holy place. The second command: The breast of the wave offering shall be eaten in a clean place. The third command: The thigh of the heave offering and the breast of the wave offering with the fat made by fire to offer as a wave offering before the LORD.
These three commands were not kept by the two lasts sons of Aaron: ““Why have you not eaten the sin offering in a holy place, since it is most holy, and God has given it to you to bear the guilt of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD? See! Its blood was not brought inside the holy place; indeed, you should have eaten it in a holy place, as I commanded.”” (Leviticus 10:17–18 NKJV) These sins of the Eleazar and Ithamar sons of Aaron were much more serious than the strange fire that Nadab and Abihu brought to the altar, but they did not die or even did not get punished. Aaron and Moses interceded for these sons of Aaron and in the end Moses heard Aaron’s pleading and it is said: Moses heard and was content. In other words, the Lord did not punish these two sons of Aaron and Aaron himself – because Moses understood and Aaron’s explanation was satisfactory for Moses.
We have read two stories in the same chapter: In the first story there is a very quick and harsh judgement and both sons of Aaron die by divine fire from heaven. Even Aaron is not allowed to morn for his two sons. God had no mercy for these two sons of Aaron. In the second story, there are the two last sons of Aaron Ithamar and Eleazar. They sin in three things and God accepts Moses and Aaron’s understanding of the very difficult circumstances and if the last two sons of Aaron and Aaron himself die – there would be no priests in Israel. The house of Aaron would be decimated. For this reason, God’s relativity in judgment and provision of Grace and Loving kindness – wins over HIS judgment. Don’t say that the Torah has no mercy and grace – or no grace and truth. Read the whole chapter 10 of Leviticus.
There is a push to enforce a meeting and negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians. The fact is that there are at least two things that are clear:
1. Until now for several years the Israeli government has offered and repeated the offer many times to enter negotiation without pre-conditions. Every topic is open for discussion and negotiation.
2. The Palestinians have refused to enter negotiations with Israel with the commitment of Israel to stop all settlement activity and without the creation of new settlements and a commitment to return to the 1967 lines including east Jerusalem.
The Palestinian side is not interested in negotiation without pre-conditions nor are they interested in real peace with Israel without true compromise and recognition of Israel’s need for security and safety. They want before the negotiations start for Israel to stop all building activity in Judea and Samaria. They want assurance that Israel will divide Jerusalem and allow Jerusalem to be the capital of a Palestinian State. Such pre-condition is an apriori request for the capitulation of Israel’s holy God given right on the land of Israel. Israel needs your prayer and the Palestinians need your prayers for some clarity and sanity and a touch of the divine wisdom. Pray every day for Israel.
Pray for Israel to open the doors for the Aliyah of the Anussim (The Marrano Jews who were forced to convert to Catholicism from 1492-1824). Forcing these Jews to convert to modern Orthodox Judaism is the same thing that the Catholic Church did to the Jews during the Inquisition. I believe that the choice should be given to each one of these people to make a choice. They should be educated what is modern Judaism and given a choice to convert or not to convert, but their right to immigrate to Israel as Jews should not be in question. Pray for the great Aliyah of these hidden Jews to return to their identity and roots.
Pray for Netivyah and the projects that Netivyah is doing: Hamotzi – the food distribution program. Kol HaYeshua – Radio broadcast daily. Teaching from Zion Magazine and Publications of books, audio and video teachings. International lectures and teaching and evangelism in Europe, Asia, South America, North America. The Roeh Israel Congregation in Jerusalem. All these important ministries need your prayers and your support.
Pray for Netivyah and the young leadership. They are doing a wonderful job and bringing a renewal and zeal into the Netivyah ministry and in the congregation and they need your support in prayer and in finances.
The list for prayers for the sick and those who need a special grace from the LORD is expanded today and two very dear brothers from West Virginia are added with special request of your prayers: Mike E. and Barbara E. they are family and both have cancer that is serious and needs the divine touch of healing and restoration.
Barry my son needs prayer. The abdominal surgery that closed and looked so good a few weeks ago has opened and is being drained. It is not as serious as it was, but it is still in need of prayer and healing.
In Holland Tineke is also battling cancer for the second time and needs the LORD’s grace and healing, encouragement and strength so that her body overcomes.
Please don’t forget to pray for Inon –the baby of one of our wonderful young families in the congregation. This baby needs healing and strength and his family needs encouragement and strength to take good care of this baby with the name of the Messiah that existed before the Sun was created. (Psalm 72:17)
Please also pray for Ynon Ben David and Emily. The name Ynon is one of the names of the Messiah from the Psalms. He is a very young baby with a breathing problem. It is hard for Ynon and especially hard for his mother and family. We have strong faith that the Lord will speedily heal this baby and raise him up healthy and strong and give him long life to be able to see the return of the Messiah with his own eyes.
I ask for special prayers for our dear brothers and sisters in Finland: Keijo and Salme, Sister Airi, Anne-Mirjami, Anna Majia, Satu-Maria and her daughters, Tim Tucker, Kari A., Pekka, Erki and Sirpa and for our dear Finish members of the Roeh Israel Congregation, Leah K., Ahuva B., Ilana H. I also ask you for the following members of the congregation in Jerusalem: David S., Sarit, Miriam, Hannah, Greg, Yuri M. who is in the hospital now with serious kidney problems and Daniel P., who is also in the hospital for rehabilitation after a serious motorcycle accident. Brothers and sisters in the USA that need your prayers for healing: Emmet, Boby, Ruby, John M. Aaron H., John M., Liz Johnson, Horace and June S. Brothers and sisters in Brazil that need healing: Paulo, Naomi, Clara, Marcelo’s father and especially his mother. In Japan, we have the following brothers and sisters that need your prayers for healing: Pra. Curita, Toru, Tomoko San, Sadako San, Takeo Sensei, and Daisuke Sensei, and Sister Yumi’s husband.
And please don’t forget to pray for our daughter and granddaughter Danah and Noaam.
The list of brothers and sisters who need strength and blessing in their homes and in their business is also important to pray for: The Goh family who is under no little stress and needs wisdom and protection and revival of success in the new path that God is forging for them. Sister Christy, Sister Laurel, and for Brother Michael Kenzevic, and Daniel L., all need success and prosperity in their life and work. Pray for a dear brother in Finland by the name of David. Pray that the Lord will provide for David a great job that will honor his gifting and his family.
Pray for Roger, a dear brother who stands with so many good works and with Netivyah. He needs wisdom and peace and success in his work and life.
Marcia and I need your prayers for health and for strength and wisdom. We will be traveling next week to Turkey to go again lead a group through the seven churches of Asia Minor. Marcia will be joining me and the group on this trip to Turkey and I ask you specifically to pray for Marcia’s health and strength. We also have some very exciting and wonderful opportunities to meet great spiritual leaders who are truth seeks.
I am not sure that I will have opportunity next week while in Turkey to write the prayer list – so if you don’t get a new prayer list from me – please pray for the same needs that are listed in this Jerusalem Prayer List.
God bless you all who pray for Israel and for the Peace of Jerusalem. May the good Lord keep all HIS blessings flowing to you and from you for the body of the Messiah worldwide.
Blessings to all of you,