20170715 Parashat 91 How’s your vision?
Our Torah Portion today is Leviticus 21. It is a list of instructions to the priests concerning ceremonial cleanliness with regard to caring for the bodies of close family members. There are also instructions as to who a priest may marry. There are even more restrictions on marriage for the ones would be high priests.
All the above mitzvot involved actions that a priest should or should not do, but starting verse 18, there is a list of physical defects that would prevent tabernacle of temple service.
Leviticus 21:18 Any man who has a defect is not to draw near: no one blind or lame or disfigured or deformed,
I had originally prepared a sermon that listed each one of the defects and developed a spiritual application for each one. But at the last hour, I felt led to go in another direction. This morning I want to draw your attention to only one of the defects. It happens to be the first one. Blindness.
A prohibition of blindness falls into the ‘well duh’ category. It is too obvious. You can’t have a priest stumbling around with a knife, trying to offer the sacrifices or feeling his way around in the Holy Place or the Holy of Holies. He must be able to see. He must have vision. Today, I want to talk about the concept of vision. Just to make sure, it should be obvious that I’m not talking about our eyesight.
We need to have a vision for ourselves, our family and our synagogue. Where do you want to be in the Lord this time next year? Do you have a plan? What about your family? Where do you see them next year, 5 years from now, 10 years from now? How about Tree of Life Messianic Synagogue? Do you have a vision for us as well as your part in it? Do you even plan to be here next year? Do you see yourself teaching a class, leading the youth, discipling someone who just gave their life to Yeshua? Hopefully, you don’t see yourself sitting in the same spot next year? We need to have a vision.
Luke 11:34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light. But when it is sick, your body is full of darkness.
What is this passage saying? It’s saying that whatever you focus on, becomes your character. If you are always focused on the negative, you become a negative person.
This may seem like a confusing scripture but I think it is extremely important. I don’t believe that this is talking about our physical eyes notice it says “eye” not eyes.
And in verse 35 it says take heed or watch out that the light that is in you is not darkness. This is talking about our perspective or how we see or understand things. Pro.23:7 says, “As a man thinks in his heart so is he.” think- that is our understanding, how do we understand or conceive a situation that’s how you will react. Many times, the same circumstances will cause various reactions by different people-why? Because of the way each person perceives or understands the situation.
Here’s a story that illustrates the point of view concept.
One day, the father of a very wealthy family sent his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. The son spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.
Upon the son’s return, the father asked, “How was the trip?”
“It was great, Dad.”
“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.
“Oh yeah,” said the son.
“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.
The son answered:
“I saw that we have one dog and they had four.
We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end.
We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night.
Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.
We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.
We have servants who serve us, but they serve others.
We buy our food, but they grow theirs.
We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”
The boy’s father was speechless: Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.”
I like this way of looking at things.
When other people take a long time to do something, they’re slow; when we take a long time, we’re thorough. When they don’t do something, they’re lazy; when we don’t, we’re too busy. When they succeed, they’re lucky; when we do, we deserve it.
Look at Luke 11:36. If then your body is full of light, with no part of it dark, it will be as full of light as when a lamp gives you light with its gleam.” . This means that if we have the right perspective we will make right choices. Life is all about our choices. Probably all of us can look back at situations in our lives and realize if we would have chosen differently, things could have been better or we wouldn’t have made a series of bad mistakes.
Dr. Pierce Harris, a pastor from Atlanta, Georgia, preached to some prisoners. One of the prisoners got up and introduced himself to the others with these words: “Several years ago, two boys lived in a town in north Georgia. They went to the same school, played together and attended the same Sunday School. One dropped out of Sunday School and said that it was ‘sissy stuff.’ The other boy kept on going. One rejected Christ; the other accepted Him. The boy who rejected Christ is making this introduction today. The boy who accepted Christ is the honored preacher who will speak to us today!”
Of course, the perspective we need is God’s perspective. When we look at things through God’s revelation and perspective we respond in ways that bless us.
Let’s look at a story from Luke chapter 7.
Luke 7:36-50. Now one of the Pharisees was asking Yeshua if He would eat with him. Upon entering the Pharisee’s home, He reclined at the table. (37) And behold, a woman in the town who was a sinner, when she discovered that Yeshua was reclining at the Pharisee’s home, brought an alabaster jar of perfume. (38) As she stood behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to drench His feet with tears and kept wiping them with her head of hair. Then she was kissing His feet and anointing them with perfume. (39) Now when the Pharisee who invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this were a prophet, He would know what sort of woman is touching Him—that she’s a sinner.” (40) And answering, Yeshua said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he said, “Say it, Teacher!” (41) “A moneylender had two debtors. One owed him five hundred denarii, but the other fifty. (42) When neither could repay him, he canceled both debts. So which of them will love him more?” (43) Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Yeshua said. (44) Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered into your house, and you didn’t give Me water for My feet. But she has drenched My feet with tears and wiped them with her hair. (45) You didn’t greet Me with a kiss; but from the time she entered, she has not stopped kissing My feet. (46) You didn’t anoint My head with oil, but she has anointed My feet with perfume. (47) For this reason I tell you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven—for she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little. (48) He then said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” (49) But those who were reclining at table with Him began to say to one another, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” (50) Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in shalom.”.
I really like this story. There is a lot we can see in it. What we are going to look at today is the two different perspectives shown by the Pharisee and the woman and the resulting actions caused by their perspectives. This Pharisee had such an opportunity, he had Yeshua HaMashiach at his home for dinner. But because of his perspective he really missed out. What wonderful things could have happened because Yeshua was at his house for dinner. We know that in the case of Zacchaeus, dinner with Yeshua changed his life. Yeshua declared that salvation had come to his house. Once when Yeshua was at Peter’s house Peter’s mother-in-law was healed. When Yeshua was at Mary and Martha’s house, Mary sat at His feet listening to the word and Yeshua said she had received the necessary thing: to hear the word of God. Mary got to listen to Yeshua teach at her house. Wow!! As we look at this story of the Pharisee we can think of lots of wonderful things that could have been. Even though this Pharisee had such a great opportunity, he missed out.
So, what Were the perspectives in this story?
THE PHARISEE: This Pharisee obviously thought he was “all right” as he was. That he was a good guy. According to the world’s way of looking at things he probably was.
THE WOMAN: This woman knew that she was sinful and needed a savior.
GOD’S PERSPECTIVE What is the true perspective-God’s perspective.
ROM.3:23, For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
EPH.2:1-8. You were dead in your trespasses and sins. (2) At that time, you walked in the way of this world, in conformity to the ruler of the domain of the air—the ruler of the spirit who is now operating in the sons of disobedience. (3) We too all lived among them in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind. By nature we were children of wrath, just like the others. (4) But God was rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us. (5) Even when we were dead in our trespasses, He made us alive together with Messiah. (By grace you have been saved!) (6) And He raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Messiah Yeshua— (7) to show in the olam ha-ba the measureless richness of His grace in kindness toward us in Messiah Yeshua. (8) For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves—it is the gift of God.
This is very important because until someone realizes that they need a savior they will not want Yeshua.
MARK 2:17. “Those who are healthy have no need for a doctor, but those who are sick do. I did not come to call the righteous, but the sinful.”
This doesn’t mean that some people are not sinners it means that people must recognize that they are and that they need a Savior.
LUKE 18:9-14. (Pharisee and Tax Collector) God is ready though the blood of Yeshua to save anyone who will realize that they are sinful and in need of saving. If anyone thinks that they are good enough on their own they make it impossible to for God to save them because they reject Yeshua. We must never forget that without Christ we would be lost.
VIEW FROM ETERNITY: This Pharisee thought he could make it to heaven on his own. There are many twists on this today. Many people feel that since God is good , He would not send any one to hell. In reality God doesn’t send them, people choose to go when they reject God’s plan of salvation. Some people think there is no eternity, you just die. This Pharisee must have thought that his being a Pharisee would get him to heaven. There are lots of religions today that teach that if you are baptized a member of their church that you will go to heaven. This woman on the other hand knew her only hope was God’s mercy and God’s way. She was looking to Yeshua for hope.
Again this is so important. You can find all kinds of opinions that will tickle your ears but here is the bottom line God is the one who makes those decisions. Isn’t it smart to look to Him to find the truth. Is there a heaven and hell? MARK 9:43-48. Yeshua was the biggest hell fire and brimstone preacher in the Bible because He doesn’t want anyone to go there. Two very important things we can see here is that there definitely is a real place of torment called hell. Heaven is real according to God’s word. Why would anyone want to miss out on heaven. Those who reject God’s offer of heaven will have to go to hell. The souls that He loves that reject Him will not have another chance JOHN 14:1-3. God made the earth in six days, and He has been working on heaven this long, it’s going to be great.
YESHUA: The Pharisee thought of Yeshua as just a man. Our scripture says he didn’t even treat Him with the same respect that other guests of those days received. The woman saw Him as her Savior. What a difference it makes. What does God say about it?
JOHN 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life! No one comes to the Father except through Me.
JOHN 11:25, I am the resurrection and the life! Whoever believes in Me, even if he dies, shall live.
JOHN 8:58, “Amen, amen I tell you, before Abraham was, I am!”
JOHN 8:24, If you don’t believe that I am, you will die in your sins.
1 John 5:11-13 And the testimony is this—that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (12) The one who has the Son has life; the one who does not have Ben-Elohim does not have life. (13) I wrote these things to you who believe in the name of Ben-Elohim, so you may know that you have eternal life.
MATT. 16:13-18. When Yeshua came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” (14) They answered, “Some say John the Immerser, others say Elijah, and still others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” (15) He said, “But who do you say I am?” (16) Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (17) Yeshua said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven! (18) And I also tell you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My community; and the gates of Sheol will not overpower it.
God’s revelation or perspective is very important. We have the choice to believe whatever we choose but if we choose to look at things with God’s view point we are blessed. Blessed means, “empowered to prosper.”
Let’s look at the responses caused by their perspectives.
The Pharisee took his acquaintance with Yeshua very lightly. He didn’t have a desire to serve Him. He didn’t consider it very special to be around Yeshua. He was critical of Yeshua. He was prideful when it came to others. He didn’t put any effort into getting to know Yeshua. He didn’t consider being with Yeshua as special.
The woman on the other hand found being with Yeshua so precious that she risked ridicule and insult to be with Him. She pursued Yeshua. This woman loved Yeshua. She brought Him costly perfume. She humbled herself before Him. What she did was beautiful worship. Her concern wasn’t in someone seeing her or what others thought of her. Her desire was to worship and please Yeshua.
My question is, what is our perspective? Our lives will show the view we hold. We might say we love Yeshua but are we like this Pharisee? Many times, people who call themselves Christians are very much like this Pharisee. What place do the things of God hold in Our lives? Do we have a desire to worship? Do we love spending time with Yeshua? Is His word important to us? Do we look down on others because we feel we are better? How much time do we give to the Lord? Will we take ridicule to be associated with Yeshua? Will we serve Him? Will we worship Him even when others don’t? Do we love Him much? What are we doing for Yeshua? Are we just living for ourselves? Are we willing to change for Him? Are we taking opportunities to draw close to Him, or are we more interested in what’s on T.V. than spending time with Him. Our lives will show our love for Him.
We need to ask ourselves, do we have God’s perspective when it comes to ourselves. I am not saying that as Believers we should see ourselves as sinners, but we should see ourselves as God sees us, saved by the precious blood of Yeshua and if we do, our appreciation will be evident. The more I learn what God has done for me the more I desire Him and love Him. What is our perspective when it comes to eternity? Do we really believe there is a heaven and a hell? Is it a reality in our lives? Col.3: tells us then to set our minds on things above. How do we see Yeshua? Do we see Him as our only Savior?
REV.3:20. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.
Yeshua wants to spend time with you! He is knocking will you let Him come in and dine with you?