Sermon: Righteousness

NOTE: This message was delivered on the Shabbat of July 12, 2014, at Kehilat Sh’ma Yisra’el. You may also listen to it, if you wish.

Shabbat Shalom.

When Rabbi Erez asked me to speak this week, I felt pulled in two directions; one way to go was to teach on our rich parashah for the week of Pinchas, and the second way to go was to share with you an insight from one of Yeshua’s parables that I feel has particular relevance to us given the recent escalation of violence by Hamas in Yisra’el this week with the dramatic increase in rocket attack and a coming ground-troops response by Yisra’el, which could happen at any time.

Then I realized there was a unifying theme to both teachings, and they intertwined in interesting ways, so what follows is a combination of both messages.

Our parashah for today, Pinchas, covers Numbers 25:10 through 29:40 (or 30:1, depending on your Bible). This is a very active Torah portion with many things going on, so, I’ve chosen to only highlight a few.

The first comes when the L-RD orders another census to be taken of the people. Initially, because some of the numbers are so similar, one could leap to the conclusion that not much time has passed; but this is not the case. The L-RD had earlier promised that not one of the generation of the Exodus aged twenty and up, except for Joshua and Caleb, would see the Promised Land because of their rebellion. We find out that forty years have passed and the L-RD’s promise has come to fruition.

Yet because of the L-RD’s goodness and for the sake of their righteous ancestors, the L-RD has not allowed the people of Israel to grow weak in the desert due to this passage of time and the deaths of so many. In the census taken at the beginning of the book of Numbers, the number of men of military age—ages 20 and up—were 603,550.

Now, forty years later after nearly that entire generation has died off, the number of men of military age is 601,730. The L-RD has kept Yisra’el strong so that when they enter the Promised Land, they will be ready for the battles that await them.
Of that initial generation, apart from Moshe, only two remain, as we read in:

NUMBERS 26:63-65
These are the ones counted by Moshe and El‘azar the cohen, who took a census of the people of Isra’el in the plains of Mo’av by the Yarden across from Yericho. But there was not a man among them who had also been included in the census of Moshe and Aharon the cohen when they enumerated the people of Isra’el in the Sinai Desert; because Adonai had said of them, “They will surely die in the desert.” So there was not left even one of them, except Kalev the son of Y’funeh and Y’hoshua the son of Nun.

To make matters even more interesting, the number of male Levites a month old or more has actually gone up. In the census at the beginning of Numbers, the Levites who were set apart by God from military service for service in the Tent of Meeting were 22,273. Now, they number 23,000.

So, this shows that the L-RD has honored the request of Moses, who begged the L-RD not to slay the generation of the Exodus all at once and thus give Egypt a reason to curse the L-RD. Instead, the L-RD has let their numbers perish, most often by their own disobedience and foolishness, over a period of forty years.

In fact, the L-RD has gone beyond that promise and has actually allowed the Israelites to thrive, despite enduring a long period of testing in the wilderness. In doing so, the L-RD has demonstrated his righteousness.

The L-RD also shows his goodness toward women in this week’s reading. While many Bible critics will point out that Israel was a highly patriarchal society and that its women were treated more like property than people, that reputation does not come through the commands of the L-RD but the misunderstanding of modern minds.

Let’s take a look at this episode, in which the L-RD grants the daughters of Zelophehad property rights. And let me point out, this was unheard of during the time of Moses, among the nations surrounding Israel. We read of this in:

NUMBERS 27:2-4
They stood in front of Moshe, El‘azar the cohen, the leaders and the whole community at the entrance to the tent of meeting and said, “Our father died in the desert. He wasn’t part of the group who assembled themselves to rebel against Adonai in Korach’s group, but he died in his own sin, and he had no sons. Why should the name of our father be eliminated from his family just because he didn’t have a son? Give us property to possess along with the brothers of our father.”

Now, the case they are making is a good one. After all, in the previous chapter, we see that Korach’s line is still counted among the Levites even though he was the point man for a rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. If the line of Korach can remain among the Levites, why should a man not part of the rebellion see his line and inheritance die out, simply because he had no sons? So Moses takes their request before the L-RD and we get this ruling in:

NUMBERS 27:6-11
Adonai answered Moshe, “The daughters of Tz’lof’chad are right in what they say. You must give them property to be inherited along with that of their father’s brothers; have what their father would have inherited pass to them. Moreover, say to the people of Isra’el, ‘If a man dies and does not have a son, you are to have his inheritance pass to his daughter. If he doesn’t have a daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. If his father doesn’t have brothers, give his inheritance to the closest relative in his family, and he will possess it. This will be the standard for judgment to be used by the people of Isra’el, as Adonai ordered Moshe.’”

In this way, the L-RD shows that while Israel as a society is indeed patriarchal, it is not the L-RD’s will for things to be one-sided between men and women. Israel was surrounded by societies that indeed treated women was nothing more than property, and some of those societies—their descendants, anyway—still do to this day.

Yet this ruling in favor of he daughters of Zelophehad does raise this question for the people of Moses’ time: can property own property? Of course not! Through this ruling, the L-RD is offering a reminder of the sense of right-relatedness between men and women that was found in the Garden, before the fall. While such right-relatedness remains elusive due to sin, the L-RD does remind us here, just as he did in Genesis that, “male and female, he created them.” Again in this portion, we are reminded of the L-RD’s righteousness.

Finally, we come to a sad episode in the life of Moses; he is about to be told his punishment that the L-RD has chosen for striking the rock to get water to flow forth, rather than speaking to it as the L-RD commanded. We read this in:

NUMBERS 27:12-14
Adonai said to Moshe, “Climb this mountain in the ‘Avarim Range, and look out at the land which I have given the people of Isra’el. After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, just as Aharon your brother was gathered; because in the Tzin Desert, when the community was disputing with me, you rebelled against my order to uphold my holiness by means of the water, with them looking on.”

Moses knows what this means; for as humble as he was—and Moses was declared by the L-RD to be the most humble man on the face of the earth—his own sins and failures catch up with him. And I think it’s interesting to note here exactly where Moses failed.

Let’s remember when we first met an adult Moses. He sees an Egyptian guard mistreating a Hebrew slave, and he strikes the guard down, killing him. Forty years later, Moses comes down from the Mount after receiving the tablets written by the L-RD’s hand to see the Golden Calf, and he flies into a rage that includes grinding the false idol to dust and forcing the Israelites to drink it. And then, at Meribah Kadesh, once again frustrated with the people, he strikes the rock rather than speaking to it as the L-RD commanded him to do.

What does all this sound like to you?

That’s right; as unlikely as it may seem for a man so humble, one of the big sins Moses struggled with has been right in front of us all along; he is a man prone to anger. And while God calls Moses a friend and honors him with intimacy that may never have been matched by anyone but the L-RD’s relationship with Messiah Yeshua himself, while He has honored Moses above all others among the patriarchs, it is true that Moses’ own sin—his anger—is what undoes him and prevents him from seeing the Promised Land.

Of course, Moses was wise enough to see this coming; from at least the time when God announced that of the generation of the Exodus, only Caleb and Joshua would be living when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, he must have suspected that his own survival unto that day was in doubt.

Yet Moses faces his own mortality with a maturity the young cannot understand. Perhaps better than anyone aside from Messiah Yeshua, Moses knew this life was but an illusion and the world to come, the world the L-RD told him he was about to become part of, was the reality; God’s kingdom was ready to receive him, and yet we know that Moses has much yet to complete before he draws his final breath.

As we continue through Numbers and on into Deuteronomy soon, keep in mind that Moses knows he is living on borrowed time growing ever briefer. It is a thought that could lead to much prayer, for in time, God willing, all of us will be “gathered to our people.”

When we are young, this seems like a fearful notion. For someone like Moses, who had spent so much time in the presence of the L-RD, one has to wonder if it was something that brought joy and relief, rather than fear.

Therefore, God’s judgment of Moses here should not be seen as harsh, but as yet another example of His Righteousness. Because even though God reveals His relationship with Moshe to be unique, even Moshe does not ultimately sway God from His promises.

And it is with that thought the we now shift our attention from this week’s Torah reading to one of the parables of our Messiah Yeshua.

The parable I’d like to look at today is one of Yeshua’s less-explored parables. I believe it holds a important teaching for us, especially in light of the recent events in Yisra’el this past week.

It’s called the Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge, so let’s read it now so we all have a common frame of reference. It begins in:

LUKE 18:1-5
Then Yeshua told his talmidim a parable, in order to impress on them that they must always keep praying and not lose heart. “In a certain town, there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected other people. There was also in that town a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me a judgment against the man who is trying to ruin me.’ For a long time he refused; but after awhile, he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God, and I don’t respect other people; but because this widow is such a nudnik, I will see to it that she gets justice—otherwise, she’ll keep coming and pestering me till she wears me out!’”

Now, some people can find this parable confusing, primarily because they draw too close a parallel between the unjust judge and the L-RD. It’s not meant to be a close parallel.

Why do I say this?

Well, because the judge in this parable is unjust to begin with. Is the L-RD Himself unjust? Of course not.

God Himself is the arbiter of all justice; He is the source of justice and He brings justice to everyone, doesn’t he?

So we have to be careful of letting our picture of God begin to reflect the picture of this unjust judge too closely, for the L-RD is not like him.

The text has Yeshua describing this judge as not fearing God nor caring about his fellow man. Does this remind us of anything?

For me, it calls to mind:

MATTHEW 22:35-40
…and one of them who was a Torah expert asked a sh’eilah to trap him: “Rabbi, which of the mitzvot in the Torah is the most important?” He told him, “‘You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This is the greatest and most important mitzvah. And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot.”

So, we know Yeshua teaches these two commands sum up the entire Torah: to fear God and to care about your neighbor.

If we’re being told that this judge neither feared the L-RD nor cared about his neighbor, what are we really being told about him? That this ruler is far from the Torah. Isn’t he? About as far from Torah as he can get! This is why he’s labeled an unjust ruler! Because he is ruling according to his own petty concerns and self-interests and decisions between right and wrong, rather than ruling based on the Torah of God. He is a portrait of the Torah-less world!

So who or what does that remind you of? The Parable of the Weeds. In that parable, Yeshua teaches that the wheat represents those of us who are in Yeshua, part of the kingdom of the L-RD, who obey the Torah and follow its instruction.

Yet we are intertwined with the weeds—those who are children of darkness, sons of the Adversary of the L-RD, workers of evil and injustice. Yeshua taught that evil cannot be purged until the time of the harvest—that final Yom Kippur, the Day of Judgment—when the good crops will be separated from the weeds, and the weeds will be burned up, while the wheat will be brought into the master’s storehouse.

So we are in a world filled with both children of God and children of the Adversary. The children of the Adversary are without Torah; and we know that while we must forgive them when they do evil against us, it would also be unwise to trust them when they are unrepentant, giving them an opportunity to do evil to us again.

That raises the question of how we ought to interact with those who are children of the Adversary. I mean, it’s not like any of us have a scorecard, is it? We can’t walk down the street, or even within our own community, and say, “righteous,” “righteous,” “unrighteous.” Can we? Of course not.

The sad truth is that the world we are in is usually ruled by those who are Torah-less. So one of the very real questions about getting through this life is, how can we find justice in a world ruled by the unjust? This parable gives us a clue: persistence can pay off.

The unjust ruler of this parable doesn’t rule justly because he fears the L-RD and agrees the woman was wronged; he rules in her favor because she never gives up, never surrenders, never ceases in insisting that he rule rightly on the matter.

He does what is right, basically, just to get her off his back!

So how does Yeshua interpret this parable? Let’s read on:

LUKE 18:6-8
Then the Lord commented, “Notice what this corrupt judge says. Now won’t God grant justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Is he delaying long over them? I tell you that he will judge in their favor, and quickly! But when the Son of Man comes, will he find this trust on the earth at all?”

This is where we can slip into misunderstanding. This is where the connection is made between the nature of God and the nature of the unjust judge. But what is Yeshua really saying here?

He’s saying that if even an unjust judge will render a just verdict through the persistence of a widow, how much more will the L-RD, who desires justice and to do what is right, answer the righteous requests of those who bring their concerns to Him?

Of course, that’s not that hard. It’s relatively easy to understand. But it does raise a question: “So, is this parable teaching us that if we merely bug God enough, He’ll give us whatever we want, like some genie in a magic lamp? Is God no better than us, changing His mind simply because He’s being pestered about something and wants to get someone off His back?”

To begin to answer that question, let’s first remember that Scripture reveals Scripture. If you want to understand one verse or passage, study everything around it and every passage it reminds you of. Eventually. the meaning will become clear. Right?

So let’s start setting this parable in context to gain our best response to this question.

First and foremost, we ought to understand the word “persistence.” You know, in the Bible, some form of the word “persist” appears only ten times, and in only one of these is the word given a positive connotation. In one other appearance, it results in the same effect Yeshua describes in the parable.

We find this positive mention in:

ROMANS 2:7
To those who seek glory, honor and immortality by perseverance in doing good, he will pay back eternal life.

And we find the instance in which the effect of persistence is the same as Yeshua describes in this parable, in:

II KINGS 2:16-17
…and said to him, “Here now, your servants include fifty strong men. Please let them go and look for your master, in the event that the Spirit of Adonai has taken him up and set him down on some mountain or in some valley.” He answered, “Don’t send them.” But they kept pressing him until finally, embarrassed, he said to send them. So they sent fifty men. For three days they searched, but they didn’t find him.

Now, this last instance here is not entirely positive. Remember, Elisha the prophet is right to tell his men not to go looking for his master, Elijah.

Why? Because Elisha himself saw Elijah taken up to heaven. He knew they were not going to find Elijah, but he finally gives into their demand to search because they simply won’t let it rest.

Now, the other eight instances in which some form of the word “persistence” is used, it is always negative in connotation, referring to how people persist in their sin or their disobedience to the L-RD.

So I thought it might be handy to look at the Hebrew and Greek words that are translated as “persist,” but what I found is there is not a precise word in Hebrew or Greek that is always reliably translated that way.

In fact, I found at least two different Greek words and two different Hebrew words that are translated as “persist,” but also that these words are not reliably translated that way. They are the Greek words epimeno (ep-ee-men’-o) and hupomone (hoop-om-on-ay’), as well as the Hebrew words patsar (paw-tsar’) and yalak (yaw-lak’).

So, persist as we understand it in English, is used to translate more than one Biblical word. I then began to look for parallel concepts to persistence; ideas that captured the meaning of persistence, even if it was not translated that way.

Suddenly, I found more positive references to the concept of never giving up than I found when looking for that precise English word.

We find one such example in:

PSALM 72:1, 15B
God, give the king your fairness in judgment, endow this son of kings with your righteousness … May they pray for him continually; yes, bless him all day long.

We also find this in:

II CHRONICLES 6:14
…and said, “Adonai, God of Isra’el, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth. You keep covenant with your servants and show them grace, provided they live in your presence with all their heart.

So persist means to continue, to so something without ceasing to do it, to never give up. This agrees with what Luke tells us was the purpose of Yeshua’s parable: “to show them that they should always pray and not give up.”

So, to get back to our question: Does this mean that if we pray without ceasing, that God can and actually will change His mind?

There is no quick answer to this; to understand what Yeshua is teaching us better, we must first understand the nature of prayer itself.

What is prayer, really? It’s simply taking time to communicate with God, to come face-to-face with our Maker, as Moses did in the Tent of Meeting. That is what prayer is meant to be.

As believers, in fact, we are commanded to pray, as Yeshua Himself teaches in:

LUKE 6:27-28
Nevertheless, to you who are listening, what I say is this: “Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

James, the brother of Yeshua, teaches us further about the benefits and purposes of prayer in:

JAMES 5:13-18
Is someone among you in trouble? He should pray. Is someone feeling good? He should sing songs of praise. Is someone among you ill? He should call for the elders of the congregation. They will pray for him and rub olive oil on him in the name of the Lord. The prayer offered with trust will heal the one who is ill—the Lord will restore his health; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, openly acknowledge your sins to one another, and pray for each other, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Eliyahu was only a human being like us; yet he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and no rain fell on the Land for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the Land produced its crops.

What James teaches us here is loaded with important concepts on an effective prayer life, but it’s easy to miss the important details. We all love to hear that prayer is powerful and effective, but too often we read right past one of the most important words in the passage.

What does James actually teach? He teaches that, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.”

A righteous man. Not just anyone, not even just any believer. But the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

And you see, that’s where many of us trip up. That’s why so many who are believers in this country feel like they have ineffective prayer lives, or complain about God not answering their prayers. Because it is the prayers of the righteous that will be answered, not the prayers of just anyone.

Can you, for example, ignore the Torah commands of God and expect your prayers to be answered? Can you persist in habitual sin and expect God to grant your request? Can you lead a life of casual, only-when-it’s-convenient faith, come home from, say, a night of hard drinking, and pray to the L-RD for some blessing and expect Him to listen and respond affirmatively?

Don’t be so sure.

God is not an emergency parachute for when you’re in a tight spot and need to save your butt, only to neglect Him at all other times. God desires to have a relationship with us, a give-and-take relationship. Part of being able to speak with Him as Moses did in the Tent of Meeting—face-to-face—is that we must live at least to the minimum standards set down for us in the Torah; furthermore, we should live to a standard far above that, striving to walk as Yeshua walked, in obedience to the
L-RD, obeying everything that was commanded of Him.

Does this mean the L-RD never listens and responds to the prayers of the unrighteous? Not at all! He hears the prayers of repentance offered up by those lost in their sin all the time!

But think about it. That repentance needs to come first, just to clear the table.

If you have a relative who, the only time they gave you the time of day was when they needed something, and the rest of the time they were out bad-mouthing you and ruining your reputation, and even when they asked for your something they wouldn’t apologize for how they’ve wronged you—how long would you keep giving them what they ask for?

You see, the kind of righteousness James is talking about here isn’t some unreachable, impossible standard; as he wrote, “Elijah was a man just like us.” So was Moses, for that matter, as we discussed earlier; he was a man prone to anger. But both men were humble enough to know they were unworthy, in and of themselves.

They relied on God to create their righteousness and they obeyed His commands in gratitude. They agreed with God rather than argued with Him, and relied on Him, and that became their righteousness.

That’s a righteousness that doesn’t come from ignoring whatever commands you don’t like or don’t fit how you already live.

It’s a righteousness that clears the table and allows you to speak with God as Moses did, as Yeshua did.

That’s when God starts listening: when you’re not fighting with Him anymore over what the truth is. That’s when the prayer of the righteous becomes powerful and effective, because you become echad with the maker of the universe! Not one person, but of one mind and one spirit with Him; no longer struggling against Him.

Yeshua instructs us on some more mistakes to guard against when we pray. We read this in:

MATTHEW 6:5-8
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites, who love to pray standing in the synagogues and on street corners, so that people can see them. Yes! I tell you, they have their reward already! But you, when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, don’t babble on and on like the pagans, who think God will hear them better if they talk a lot. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

So now we have a basic understanding of how to pray effectively. So the question becomes this: let’s assume we’re doing all this right. Let’s assume we’re relying on His righteousness and not fighting with God over the truth; we repent of our sin, we’re face-to-face with God, and we’re talking with Him.

Can we, even at this point, change the mind of the creator of the universe? Can we, simply by badgering Him, get whatever we ask?

Let’s first take a look at the prayer life of someone who only had the appearance of righteousness; who went through all the right steps and claimed to have the ear of the L-RD. Let’s see what Balaam found out about prayer in last week’s parashah. He pestered the L-RD to get his way, too; but when he opened his mouth to speak a curse on Yisra’el against the will of the L-RD, God’s truth came out instead, as we read in:

NUMBERS 23:19-20
“God is not a human who lies or a mortal who changes his mind. When he says something, he will do it; when he makes a promise, he will fulfill it. Look, I am ordered to bless; when he blesses, I can’t reverse it.

This testimony about God and His nature is true. God doesn’t lie. He always is truthful and all truth comes from Him. Balak has Balaam perform all the right steps, does everything the Hebrews do, and yet he could not curse the Jewish people; he could not move the L-RD to cease from blessing the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In this prophecy, Balaam is testifying to that fact; man cannot change the mind of God in a way that makes God break His promises! The L-RD will never promise, then fail to fulfill because someone else prays for Him not to.

It’s important to remember neither King Balak nor the mercenary prophet Balaam are righteous men; as Balaam testifying to the L-RD’s goodness, Balak is urging him to try again and again. The L-RD allows Balaam to keep trying, but He does not answer that prayer in the affirmative.

Why?

Because part of the prayer of the righteous being powerful and effective is that the righteous never pray for the L-RD to do something outside of His own will. The righteous never pray for the L-RD to violate His own promises.

So, even a man like Balaam, who has the appearance of righteousness and claims to communicate with the L-RD, can pray with persistence, and yet the L-RD will not make those prayers either powerful or effective, because they are not righteous prayers.

But is that the end of the subject? Is the L-RD never swayed? Well, let’s remember this episode from:

GENESIS 18:22-26
The men turned away from there and went toward S’dom, but Avraham remained standing before Adonai. Avraham approached and said, “Will you actually sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Maybe there are fifty righteous people in the city; will you actually sweep the place away, and not forgive it for the sake of the fifty righteous who are there? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous along with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike! Far be it from you! Shouldn’t the judge of all the earth do what is just?” Adonai said, “If I find in S’dom fifty who are righteous, then I will forgive the whole place for their sake.”

Now, we should all remember how the rest of this story goes. Abraham is bold in his prayer life with the L-RD and keeps asking Him for His mercy for forty, for thirty, for twenty and then for ten righteous left in the city. Why did Abraham stop at ten?

Because that comprises a minyan—the minimum number of people required to start a Torah community.

Did the end result change? No. Sodom and Gomorrah fell, but only because there could not be found even ten righteous who were willing to turn from their sin, repent, and follow the L-RD.

Yet if they had found ten righteous, would the city have been spared? You bet. It would have been spared because of Abraham’s prayer life, his communication with the L-RD. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

We know this is true because there are times when the L-RD, in the wilderness, wishes to slay the children of Israel for their unrighteousness, and it was the prayer life of Moses, praying a righteous prayer for the L-RD to protect His name among the surrounding nations, that caused the L-RD not to slay the children of Israel and instead offer them a path to forgiveness.

You see, God never repents because God never sins where He has to repent. But can the prayer of the righteous move God to change? In some ways, yes. We read an example of this in:

JONAH 4:2
He prayed to Adonai, “Now, Adonai, didn’t I say this would happen, when I was still in my own country? That’s why I tried to get away to Tarshish ahead of time! I knew you were a God who is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in grace, and that you relent from inflicting punishment.

This is where the prayers of the righteous can have an impact. When we pray for God to relent from judgment, to show mercy to the unrighteous, to give time for repentance. Not when we pray outside of the will of God, or for the L-RD to violate His will or His nature, but when we pray for the L-RD to be who He is, to live up to His name and show His greatness.

So how does this relate to the events of the past week in Yisra’el? Well, many observers bemoan these events as being conflicts among those of varying religions. They make no distinction between the prayers of the righteous versus the prayers of the unrighteous. In the eyes of many today, the prayers of those who resort to bombing Yisra’el’s cities and people are frightening, because they believe all prayer is equal.

Yet those who seek to destroy Yisra’el today are no different than those like Balak and Balaam, who sought to destroy Yisra’el in recent Torah readings; while they can pray all they like, when it comes down to it, God will not answer a prayer that asks him to violate his own will. He is not a genie in a bottle who will grant your wishes if you ask Him using the right steps and procedures. God is God, ultimately. He has a will of His own that He will violate for no one; yet for those who live in obedience to His teachings, his mitzvoth, we will never see our prayers returned unanswered, because we won’t be praying for God to violate His own will.

So, you see, Yeshua’s parable here is about how to deal with those who are Torah-less, in a Torah-less world, and not actually about bugging God, who already knows our thoughts and prayers before we ever give them voice. Because in our prayer life, we must always seek to understand and embrace His righteousness, rather than our own.

That’s when the L-RD moves. That’s when the prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective, because we’re remaining in the L-RD and His will.

That’s the kind of prayer life we should want, the kind of walk with the L-RD we should want. That’s when Messiah Yeshua reigns and gives us the ability to forgive, even to forgive the unrepentant and yet stay safe. That’s when we find our Shalom, or peace beyond our own understanding, in Him.

That’s why the attacks of the enemies of the L-RD will always fall short. For even if they pray, God will not answer their prayers unless they pray for His will and only His will.

Yes, bombs do fall. But never lose your trust that the God of Yisra’el, the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, is worthy of our trust to bring about a great deliverance. He has a pretty good track record on that score, in spite of the war constantly raging against his people.

Shabbat Shalom.

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