Beth Elohim Messianic Synagogue
Parashah #10: Mikketz (At the end) Genesis 41:1-44:17
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 3:15-4:1
B’rit Chadashah: Acts 7:9-16
During most years, this parashah coincides with Chanukkah. It is even more interesting to me that it coincides even with the late date this year. We will be reminded that there is “more than meets the eye” as we go beyond the peshat (literal) meaning of this parashah in the context of Joseph’s attitude toward his success and Yahshua’s attitude during his earthly ministry.
Joseph was called to interpret Pharaoh’s dream when the cupbearer suddenly remembered that Joseph correctly interpreted his and the baker’s dream during their time in prison. We can already see how G-d intervenes in our lives daily. Where we perceive adversity in a prison experience, G-d intended it for just this time. Pharaoh said to Joseph “I dreamt a dream, but there is no one who can interpret it. Now I heard it said of you that you hear a dream to interpret it.” Joseph answered Pharaoh saying, “That is beyond me! G-d will respond to Pharaoh’s welfare.” (Genesis 41:15-16).
Joseph has a choice to make at this point. He can take credit for the G-d given revelation that occurred when he interpreted the ministers’ dreams and deceive Pharaoh into thinking Joseph has a talent of his own (yetzer hara), or he can glorify his G-d and express a confidence that G-d will act in Pharaoh’s best interest (yetzer tov). The temptation to exercise the former option is the path that many take who have not integrated the Word of G-d. Joseph would be able to request virtually anything. Yet, he immediately responds that G-d is behind his ability to interpret the dreams. Consequently, Pharaoh could have chosen to send Joseph back to jail, but he didn’t. Although we read this passage with “confidence” in retrospect, Joseph was unaware of how Pharaoh would respond; especially since Pharaoh was not a follower of the Hebrew G-d. Nevertheless, Joseph stood on his faith and left his fate to G-d no matter the consequences.
Fast forward to the events of the first Chanukkah. The attitude Joseph demonstrated was the attitude of Mattityahu and the Chashmonaim, otherwise known as the Maccabees, during the time of the Chanukkah victory. They could have told everyone including themselves that their unlikely military victory over the Greeks as a reflection of their brilliant strategy. But like Joseph, the Maccabees understood the true “Source” of their strength and military success. They didn’t establish annual commemorative parades in which they would display their latest technology in weapons. Rather, they lit the Menorah which publicized G-d’s control over the world and rededicated the Temple. They knew only G-d could have allowed them to defeat the Greeks in battle. G-d blessed them by performing the miracle of Chanukkah in which one day’s oil lasted eight days. Of course, we as Messianic Jews also realize the Light of the world, Yahshua, was conceived during this time as a more stunning act of G-d’s kindness and blessings on mankind. The Shamash candle was lit as Yahshua’s human role began in Mary’s womb. The Light of the world igniting in the darkness of a human womb!
We not only defeated the Greeks in the physical battle of Chanukkah, but we defeated them spiritually also. The Greek philosophy like the Hellenistic –based philosophy of the United States today was to stress the power and wisdom of man; human secularism. The Greeks worshipped many gods just as our society encourages individuals to identify G-d in his or her own way, even to the point where some consider themselves a god! The faulty presupposition is that since G-d is in everything, everything is a god! The absurdity of such a belief system can be readily recognized by applying it to another context such as, since dogs have four legs, everything with four legs is a dog! The Greeks most emphasized the concept of the perfection of mankind. They believed in a man-centered universe in which the purpose of the gods was to serve the desires of man. They emphasized the beauty of the human body and the domination of human reason over any other form of wisdom. This helps us understand why they forbade the Jewish people from observing circumcision and learning Torah. Circumcision is a reflection of the belief that man must submit to G-d and remove part of his anatomy as part of one of the requirements of participating in one of the covenant’s of G-d as established with Avraham. The Greeks believed that cutting away part of the body was destructive. Applying that concept to our Hellenized society today, one may wonder if removing a part of the body is destructive, how can we rationalize tummy tucks and face lifts in which human tissue of a larger quantity than a foreskin is removes!
Learning Torah involves man trying to train his mind to understand something of how G-d looks at the world and to learn to look at it in the same way. The Greeks in contrast believed that man’s reason alone was the ultimate source of wisdom and that he should not subjugate it to anything else. Our society is in the process of enacting laws that prevent the placement of anything that relates to the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in public places, openly supporting antinomianism and others’ rights to worship other gods. However, Judaism stands in the way. This is why the Greeks and anti-Semites of which a growing number exists in our own society today want to defeat and eradicate Judaism, including Messianic Judaism. Everywhere else, when the Greek invaded, whether as physically or philosophically, he was known as “kind” to his new citizens. Consider WWII and the love for Americans who “rescued” those areas ravished by Hitler or the Japanese. The victorious Greeks in the past and the United States leadership in more current history wanted to tout new technological advances in weaponry and other areas advances, and preach the benefits of democracy, science, sports, and idolatrous obsession with capitalism as “The American Dream.” Yet, with the definition of a “true Jew” defined in Romans chapters 2-3 as those who follow the written and living Torah of YHVH, the Greek and all antinomians saw and still see a people who were and are not interested in attributing their success to themselves, worshipping the latest and greatest toys, celebrating pagan holidays transformed to “Christian observances,” desecrating Shabbat, eating forbidden foods, or worshipping any man. G-d is the center of the observant Jew’s life. All glory and honor, praise, supplications, and worship are given to G-d. G-d is the One Who supplies every need including grace, strength, and peace to endure every trial. The Greeks could not tolerate this approach to life, and neither can antinomians today. It threatens the entire modern philosophy of self-centered, self-sufficient, human secularist existence. So, like the Greeks in the past, antinomians today are determined to wipe out Jews and G-d’s laws, statutes, mandates, and regulations. If you need just one example, take a little time to study the Christian doctrine. A little time and serious exploration is all you’ll need to identify the anti-Semitic agenda in the mistranslation of G-d’s Torah and the misunderstanding of Paul’s explanation of the differences in rabbinic law and the continued validity and reliability of G-d’s Torah (2 Pet. 3:16). If we think we are above the previously mentioned attitudes and practices, we need to closely examine ourselves in the context of our Torah observance and attitudes of lifestyle evangelism. If we think we can go into another body of believers and “convert them” to Messianic Judaism, we are mistaken. To think that we can, is self-serving and arrogant. For such people, it is a quest for self-aggrandizement; the hope of having a group of people say “Gee, look at him /her; how knowledgeable this person is! We should change our ways and dissolve our church!” Just think for a moment about such logic. If a person attends our synagogue from another belief system, they are encouraged to attend for several weeks to see that what is taught is true to G-d’s Word rather than what they have been taught to believe or practice. If they are called out, they will leave their former institution and join a Messianic congregation. If they try to convert the congregation to their perceived understanding of G-d’s Word, the clergy person should rightly ask them to leave. This is biblical. G-d will call out who He will at His time; we are to fellowship with other like-minded believers and live our lives consistently for G-d as Joseph. Our lifestyle is our witness for G-d and to His Torah. There are no longer any apostles, prophets, or prophetesses.
The battle of Chanukkah, like the meeting between Pharaoh and Joseph, was the clash between two ideologies- one in which G-d is the Source and Center of everything, and the other in which man is the source and center of everything. The humility of Joseph and the Maccabees teach us that no matter the time on earth’s historical timeline, G-d is in control. All we need to do is internalize and live G-d’s Torah to the point where we are not afraid to humbly submit ourselves to G-d’s control; even in the most difficult of circumstances. He will provide for His people. Yahshua provided the perfect example of humility and strength in the most dire of circumstances and trust that G-d will never leave those who seek His face. Some people may say that “Of course Yahshua pulled this off; He is the Son of G-d” or in the case of Messianic believers, “He is G-d.” However, this parashah and the story of Joseph provides an example of a human who was not G-d that enables us to realize that we all have the potential to demonstrate a similar attitude in adverse and uncertain situations IF we place our ultimate trust in the same Father as Yahshua during his earthly ministry.
Haftarah: M’lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 3:15-4:1
This week’s haftarah echoes the subject of our parashah with the opening words: “And Solomon awoke, and behold it had been a dream.” Pharaoh had also experienced dreams. Although it is not included in this haftarah, it was during one of Solomon’s dreams that YHVH granted Solomon his wisdom greater than that of any other human at the time. The haftarah relates a famous episode in which Solomon’s G-d-given wisdom was demonstrated before all of Israel. Keeping with our purpose in life, G-d was glorified through this demonstration of impartial wisdom.
Two prostitutes approach King Solomon to settle their argument. They lived together in the same house, and each had given birth to an infant three days apart. One night, one of the infants was accidentally crushed to death by his mother, and one woman accused the other of switching infants in order to have a live baby. Each claimed the living child was hers. King Solomon asks that a sword be brought and orders that the child be cut in half with each woman receiving half. At this point, the real mother of the living child intercedes and exhorts the king to give the child to the other woman so that he would live, while the other woman said “It will be neither yours nor mine. Divide it up!” We read in 1 Kings 3:27; “Then the king answered, ‘Give the living child to the first woman, don’t kill it, because she is its mother.’ “All Israel heard of the decision the king had made and held the king in awe, for they saw that G-d’s wisdom was in him, enabling him to render justice properly.” Is it not interesting that the people realized G-d’s justice was right and true then, yet forgot it so quickly they chose not to apply it as evidenced by our current global community? Nothing has changed; the first generation of Israelites were lost for such unbelief as will be those in this generation who freely choose not to t’shuva (repent) and begin the walk of love of and obedience to G-d’s Torah.
B’rit Chadashah: Acts 7:9-16
This is the same passage covered in last week’s parashah and explained in today’s teaching. Compare it to last week’s and this week’s parashot in relation to the similarities between Joseph and Yahshua. Again, the consistency of G-d’s Torah and the impossibility that man could have written the Bible without the authority, wisdom, and Hand of G-d is revealed. This is applicable to any success we have in any area of our lives. We cannot save or convert people. Furthermore, we are not to proselytize. We don’t hand out tracts. Rather, we learn about Yahshua’s character and His life through the description of Joseph’s life. This narrative enables us to relate to and better understand the teachings of Yahshua and the coming Kingdom of G-d. Joseph was unpretentious, unassuming, honest, humble, compassionate, and just. His witness for G-d and his successes were not events he heralded to others; “look what I wrote; look what I did, look how many people I influenced.” Statements such as these would have negated Joseph’s testimony and reward. We will not find such attitudes or expressions from the Apostles or even Yahshua in G-d’s Torah.
Consider that the Lamb (Yahshua) will be the Temple in the New Jerusalem! There will be no need of a physical structure, and there will be no need for the sun or moon to light it. G-d’s Shekinah (Glory) will give it light and its lamp is the Lamb (Rev. 21:22-23). May we consider these things as we continue to celebrate the miracle of conception of the Light of the world through a human being and the miracle of the oil provided to light the menorah as a sign of the Light soon to return as Messiah ben David.
Shabbat Shalom v’chag Samech,
Rabbi Tamah Davis