WEEKLY SCRIPTURE READING
WEEK 33 | BECHUKOTAI | בחקותי | “IN MY STATUTES”
The story goes a little something like this…
“It’s a nice spring day. The frost is over. It’s time to get to work. The Farmer walks out onto his field and overlooks it’s grand expanse of rolling hills, plots of acreage planned out to be a birthing ground for the different types of seeds to be planted, and for the job ahead of bringing forth a sufficient crop for the year. He contemplates to himself, “Will it rain this year? Will we have a good crop?”. Tired and weary, he turns back to his dented, old, red pickup truck and heads back to the barn to get the tractors prepared and the seeds ready for planting.
The muddy old farm dog and the farmer’s son come bopping along, “Pop, reckon we will have a good harvest this year?”, he says. Pop turns back and says “Yah willing and the creek don’t rise, son”. He gathers his equipment and seeds and heads to the field on his bouncing tractor and says a prayer to the Father above to bring the rain; the sun; and the help to sow, grow and reap a bountiful harvest for the year.
It’s the deep south. It’s hot and humid and you just never know exactly what summer’s growing season has in store. Generations past have seen famine, drought, storms, floods, and blights. Will the hard work of farming be rewarded? The seeds get dropped every so often onto the rich, fertile soil and then covered back up with hopes that each little grain or seed will bud from the ground. He spends a long, hard, hot day laboring to provide food for his family and community and puts his trust in the hands of the Master Gardener.
He’s done for the day. He puts away the tractor. He stores up the remaining seeds. He switches off the barn light, leaves his muddy boots at the door and heads inside to a home-cooked meal made by the loving and diligent hands of his faithful wife. Grace & thanksgiving are said, he gobbles up last year’s canned green beans and a scratch-made biscuit. He’s bone tired, yet thankful. He’s worn but blessed. He’s old but able. Bed calls and without a moment of thought, he drifts to sleep.”
So what’s next, Reader?
Does the Farmer just read the back of the seed package and say “Oh I see here, we have 60 days until harvest so I’ll just rest on my laurels until then”? Does he put away the hoe and the tiller and think his work is done for the season?
Not even hardly! Any person who has ever grown a garden – even a flower bed for that matter! – knows that isn’t how it goes. There are weeds that pop up daily. As a family that really does live in the “south” and plants a fairly decent sized garden each year, today we walked outside to our garden, after being gone for a week, and there, in and around our beautiful plants is the prettiest green grass you ever did see. Whether we like it or not, it’s beginning to take over the garden – even choking out our corn and green beans! One week of failing to maintain and you end up with a full day or two worth of work (at least), of tilling, weeding and back-breaking labor. (PS. How does grass grow so well in a garden but not on your front lawn? It’s the greatest gardening mystery ever!)
This week’s portion is perfectly timed with the season we are in of planting, laboring, and praying for Yah’s blessing of abundance from the garden. We pray specifically for rain and for our produce to feed others as well as our family. When we started coming to the full understanding of Torah, we came across the verse from Zechariah 14:17 “And it shall be, that if anyone of the clans of the earth does not come up to Yerushalayim to bow himself to the Sovereign, יהוה of hosts, on them there is to be no rain. And if the clan of Mitsrayim does not come up and enter in, then there is no rain. On them is the plague with which יהוה plagues the gentiles who do not come up to observe the Festival of Booths.”
This verse really struck a chord with us as a small scale farming family. We understand the importance of rain on our land in a very real way. We understand the importance of tending to a garden, ie: doing the work required to reap a harvest. We see the give and take required to have a relationship with the land. And now, because of the understanding that we are to pursue Torah, we see the utmost importance of obedience to Yah’s Word and how there are natural consequences to spiritual disobedience.
Failure to Shema, hear and obey His commands, results in earthly consequences and because there are earthly consequences, there are spiritual consequences. Not having rain in the physical land of Jerusalem can also be applied to us, as Israelites, if Yah so chooses. But more importantly, in a spiritual manner, His favor can be poured out on us or it can be held back. Obedience produces fruit, physically and spiritually… ripe peaches or fresh green beans… but also love and joy and self control, and more!
“Listen to Me, you who pursue righteousness, seeking יהוה: Look to the rock you were hewn from, and to the hole of the pit you were dug from. Look to Aḇraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you. For he was alone when I called him, and I blessed him and increased him. For יהוה shall comfort Tsiyon, He shall comfort all her waste places. For He makes her wilderness like Ěḏen, and her desert like the garden of יהוה. Joy and gladness are found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of song. Listen to Me, My people, and give ear to Me, O My nation, for the Torah goes forth from Me, and My right-ruling I set as a light to peoples. Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, a people in whose heart is My Torah: do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their revilings.”Isaiah 51: 1-7
Are we willing to walk in obedience and be a daily, living sacrifice, even in the face of physical suffering and persecution? Whom shall I fear? Of whom shall I be afraid? The One who makes our physical wilderness like Eden and our personal deserts like a garden, He is able to bring rain. He’s able to produce the joy and thanksgiving in our hearts. Our fruit is a byproduct of what we’ve sown into. Were our seeds planted in fertile soil? Did we do the work? Did we “breakup our unplowed ground” (Hosea 10:12)?
“The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:1
“But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.” – Luke 12:5
“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” – Deuteronomy 11:18
Many people have done teachings and videos and sermons on Colossians 2 and have shared their thoughts on what the “beggarly elements” are or what “traditions of men” means and even about what was “taken away and nailed at the stake”. We encourage you to be Bereans and study these for yourself and test them to the Word of Yah. These scriptures are crucial to understanding the The Way and Paul’s teachings. But for this blog, we want to focus on the theme here of preparing your garden for harvest.
Colossians 2:4-5 “And this I say, so that no one deceives you with enticing words. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your belief in Messiah. 6 Therefore, as you accepted Messiah יהושע the Master, walk in Him, 7 having been rooted and built up in Him, and established in the belief, as you were taught, overflowing in it with thanksgiving. 8 See to it that no one makes a prey of you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary matters of the world, and not according to Messiah. 9 Because in Him dwells all the completeness of the Mightiness bodily, 10 and you have been made complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and authority. 11 In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Messiah, 12 having been buried with Him in immersion, in which you also were raised with Him through the belief in the working of Elohim, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having blotted out the certificate of debt against us – by the dogmas – which stood against us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the stake. 16 Let no one therefore judge you in eating or in drinking, or in respect of a festival or a new moon or Sabbaths. 17 which are a shadow of what is to come – but the Body of the Messiah. 18 Let no one deprive you of the prize…“
At this point, the Colossians, by majority, were Gentile converts. Christ had come and ascended, and Paul is teaching them The Way and how these things of old are a shadow of what is to come in the natural (physical) and in eternity (spiritual). He was preparing them for the laborious work in the “fields”. On top of that, and to clarify, the law was NEVER self-imposed worship, humiliation, harsh or for the flesh! It wasn’t harsh or even difficult to NOT eat pig or shellfish. It wasn’t dogma to keep Sabbath. It wasn’t for the flesh to keep the feasts/festivals. It wasn’t of this world to obey Yah but it was unto Yahweh as obedience to His commands that we do these things, as was what was being taught to them by Paul.
So for us as well, let no one tell you that it is wrong to do such things – eat clean, celebrate a festival or keep Sabbath. Let no man tell you that you do not have to “tend your garden”, so to speak. Let no wind or scorching sun take away your hope or trust in the One who paid our debt for us. We are to walk worthy of the manner of our calling as Farmers.
Yah says to obey His commands. To keep His right rulings. To Shema. To hold fast to what is good. He’s reminding us here that we have to remember the steps to walking out The Way, according to steadfastness and belief in Yah and in the Messiah, being established in Him and not being swayed by any false teaching or traditions of men.
The story continues…
"The Farmer tended his garden daily. His tomatoes grew fat and juicy, his corn was tender and tall, the melons were ripe and sweet. His son watched and learned by walking in Pop’s ways as a faithful steward of the land. Ma was blessed with a bounty of vegetables to can and put up for the winter and worked joyfully and with thankfulness for Yah’s goodness. Their lives were quiet, peaceful and they walked in obedience, worthy of their calling."
Until next harvest...
The season is hot, folks.
The work is hard.
The laborers are few.
Be a “farmer” and reap the blessed harvest of His refreshing and nourishing rain.
Be sure to join us again next week, Week 34, for the Weekly Scripture Reading.