Posts Tagged ‘Plagues’

Parsha “Vaera” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Join Mark Call for two teachings on this week’s Torah portion, “Vaera” (Exodus 6-9).

During the Erev Shabbat teaching, (Friday evening) Mark again covers the essential aspects of the story, from “<em>Ani YHVH</em>” and what that declaration means, and the subsequent story will emphasize, to through the first seven plagues.

SSM Vaera 2015

The longer teaching from Shabbat is a bit different than usual. While always careful to distinguish between “what is Written”, and what might be called “connecting the dots,” sometimes a little “<em>Markology</em>” is apropos. Because this portion is <strong>SO </strong>connected to our natural concern about what is happening now, and how that might relate to plagues to come, this is the week for it. When the “Greater Exodus” begins, will we recognize the pattern?

“Plagues, Parallels, and Prophecy”  – Vaera 2015

Torah portion “Vayera” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

Sunday, November 9th, 2014

Join Mark Call for two related, but different looks at parsha ‘Vayera’ and the story of the first patrairch, Abraham.

During the Erev Shabbat teaching, (Friday evening) Mark covers what some consider one of the most perplexing portions in Scripture chronologically, from Beresheit/Genesis chapter 18 through 22.

SSM “Vayera” 2014 teaching
The longer teaching from Shabbat again delves specifically into character issues, not only Abraham in contrast with Lot, but in connection to the disturbing parallels to ‘the world’ today.  There’s tremendous good news in this parsha as well, because, “THIS is gonna be SUMPIN” to see!!!”

Talking Torah “Vayera” teaching for 2014 – Lots Today – and This is gonna be SUMPIN to see!”

Torah portion “Noach” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Join Mark Call for two related, but different looks at parsha Noach and at least one persistent question: are things today REALLY starting to look “as they were in the days of Noah?”

During the Erev Shabbat teaching, (Friday evening) Mark again provides an overview of the main points of the entire portion for this week, from Beresheit/Genesis chapter 6 through 11.

SSM Noach teaching 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat focuses on that specific question in some detail, particularly in light of things unfolding today that simply wouldn’t have made sense to Bible scholars of earlier eras.  And what, specifically, does “as it was in the days of Noach, so will it be,” really mean?


Talking Torah “Come out of her” teaching – “As it was in the days of Noah…

Mark Call – Yom Kippur teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Join Mark Call for two related, but different looks at Scripture related to Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement

During the Erev Shabbat teaching, (Friday evening) Mark covers goes over both the key elements of Leviticus 16, and chapter 23, with some emphasis on what it might mean to “afflict” our soul.

SSM Yom Kippur 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat delves into several areas that don’t normally get discussed, from the nature of Evil, and ‘the Adversary’, to just exactly why THIS may be the most important set of Appointed Times, yet, in our lives.


TT CooH Yom Kippur 2014

Mark Call – Parsha “Ha’azinu” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Join Mark Call for two related, but different looks at this week’s Torah portion, Ha’azinu, and the ‘song of Moses’ in Deuteronomy chapter 32.

During the Erev Shabbat teaching, (Friday evening) Mark covers goes over the entire portion, as well as some discussion of Yom Teruah:

SSM Ha-azinu 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat concentrates on some specifics of the parsha, the haftorah text, and additional in-depth examination of the coming Fall Feasts, current events in the context of Biblical prophecy, and the repeating cycles that tie it all together.

TT CooH Ha-azinu teaching, and a discussion of both cycles and ‘mindset’

Parsha “Devarim” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Join Mark Call for two related, but different looks at this week’s Torah portion, Devarim, which begins the Book of Deuteronomy. This week’s discussion also includes a bit more from the Haftorah as well, in the first three chapters from the prophet Isaiah.

The first recording is the regular Erev Shabbat teaching, from the Shabbat Shalom Mesa fellowship, and is again an overview of the entire parsha:

SSM Devarim 1 Aug 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat concentrates on specifics from the parsha in more detail, as well as the connections to the current “times and seasons”. Given what is happening today, and the context of this Torah portion, perhaps a good subtitle of at least one aspect of the teaching could be, “What? You call THOSE giants scary?”

Talking Torah Teaching – Devarim – 2 August, 2014



“Wouldn’t it be loverly?”

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014


In the famous Broadway musical, “My Fair Lady,” Professor Henry Higgins teaches the cockney flower girl Eliza Doolitle to “speak proper English,” based on his studies of language and phonetics. The case of the young woman whose inability to speak properly locks her into a lower strata of society is, at least to some extent, a bit similar to the understanding of the Biblical instruction about something called “tzara-as.” Eliza Doolittle eventually learns to speak properly, and is blessed as a result of her efforts. The Bible seems to focus on the case of those who do NOT, and suffer for that failure. And while that Hebrew word is generally mistranslated into English as “leprosy”, the disease now called by that name (aka “Hansen’s Disease”) may not be the same malady outlined in Scripture at all. See Leviticus, or Vayikra, chapters 13 and 14 for the extensive details.


The similarity between stories about speech, for good or for evil, is more than “skin-deep”, however. And while I won’t try to demonstrate in this short article all of the reasons why I have finally become convinced that the standard midrashic teaching about “tzara-as” – that it is very much a spiritual problem, once manifested as a physical plague – is valid, a few of the main arguments do help make the point: Tzara-as is directly linked to the problem of gossip, or the “evil tongue,” rendered “lashon hora” in Hebrew.


It is often said that speaking lashon hora about someone is the equivalent of “murder by the tongue,” and that the fallout from this particularly pernicious act destroys not ONLY the intended victim who is being spoken about, but also one who speaks it, and all those who listen and perhaps pass it along.


And the quantity of ink in the Bible devoted to the use, and abuse, of language, the tongue, and speech is literally awe inspiring. After all, our Creator literally spoke the world into existence, and offers dozens of warnings and examples.


Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Proverbs 18:21


“…I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me.” (Psalm 39:1)


…Your tongue devises destruction,
Like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. You love evil more than good,
Lying rather than speaking righteousness. SELAH

You love all devouring words,
You deceitful tongue.” (Psalm 52:2-4)


…the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

…And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.

…But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” (Yakov 3:5-10 – aka “James”)

Perhaps at the top of the list of important things we speak from our lips are vows, the entire subject of Numbers chapter 30. It has been my contention for some time that the biggest issue in marriages today may well be that the world has ignored the lessons taught there. And the situation with public servants, from police and military to elected “public servants” who take an oath before God is perhaps even more malignant. Lies, broken vows, deception coming from the mouth, and gosssip can obviously not only kill individuals, but evidently whole societies as well.


Furthermore, the description of the plague which once resulted from the Evil Tongue sounds more than a bit like death as well. The pallor, the rotting skin, and the immediate result – that the perpetrator would be cut off from people, sent outside the camp, and forced to declare “unclean, unclean” to anyone that might try to come near – all speak of the contagion associated with the scourge, and the curses that result.


It all sounds quite unpleasant. So much so that people are often inclined to dismiss the whole subject of “leprosy” with the arguably misguided observation that “it doesn’t matter” anymore because ‘modern medicine’ has cured the problem anyway.


But the problem is that the plague described in the Bible as tzara-at is NOT really modern leprosy at all. And neither are we in the Land of Promise any more. Is it just possible that the punishment of tzara-as for evil speech – like so many of the other curses, chastenings, and warnings of His Word – is intended for our BLESSING as well? Is it just possible that, being in exile “for cause” as a result of continuing idolatry that we now suffer a different kind of plague, and an even more severe punishment

for the increasingly evil forms of speech which pervade society?


The lesson for the “metzora” (one who suffers tzara-as) is ultimately so clear, and so consistent with the other remedies in Scripture. T’shuva; repent from the evil action that got us into this situation. If lashon hora is the cause of that plague, and the only kind of speech permitted to the victim once sent away into exile is to shout “unclean, unclean” to any who come near, the lesson is to “tame the tongue.” Even the resolution of the malady is reminiscent of the terminology of death, albeit in reverse: Following his healing, and cleansing via the process conducted by the priest, the metzora is RE-gathered to his people.


Before she learns to speak properly, “My Fair Lady,” Liza Doolittle speaks a bit of lashon hora herself about her strict taskmaster, and ultimately benefactor, Professor Henry Higgins, in a famous song. “Wouldn’t it be loverly?” she opines, if evil were to befall him.


When we look at society today, it is not calling evil, “good,” and good, “evil,” that characterizes the common speech, it is the glorification of foul mouths and evil tongues. From TV sitcoms to “gossip shows” the idea of gossip as something to be proud of pervades the culture. It should come as no surprise that it is gossip which literally tears so many churches and communities apart. Perhaps that is a “measure for measure” reward from YHVH, too, for a society and “Church” that teach His Word has been “done away with”, and doesn’t matter any more anyway. As His Instruction so clearly says, those lies, and that Evil Speech, bring curses.


As we begin to “come out of her” and separate ourselves from the “unclean things” that bring curses, we must learn to not only “walk the narrow path” that leads to Him, but guard our speech as well. Speak blessings, and not cursings. Honor our contracts, vows, and commitments. We evidently no longer have the “blessing” – even if it amounts to very “tough love” – of looking in the mirror and seeing our external coverings – from houses, to clothes, to the very skin of our bodies – begin to rot off when we are speaking evil. Perhaps, in hindsight, and given what is so clearly coming, it would be easier if the consequences were more obvious, more immediate, and arguably less ultimately fatal.


If YHVH has removed this particular type of “chastening” (remember – those He loves, He chastens!) as a result of our repeated rebellion to Him, and our praising of other gods with our lips instead of Him, during this time of exile, we must learn to guard the words of our mouths, and speak blessing or keep silent. If we are to build communities which will be pleasing to Him in the difficult times ahead, and “be counted worthy” to escape the plagues which are coming, we may have to do it without the kind of “direct feedback” that was once given His people.


Perhaps we must learn to pray as Job did again. “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred.” (Job 6:24)


Tzara-as has appropriately been described as an outward physical manifestation of an inward spiritual wickedness. But we don’t have it any more. “Wouldn’t it be loverly” if we did?


Torah portion “Kedoshim” (Lev. 19-20)

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Both the weekly Torah teaching from the Shabbat Shalom Mesa fellowship and the Talking Torah sessions are now available on-line, for Torah portion “Kedoshim”.


SSM (Erev Shabbat) — review of entire portion

Talking Torah session – “Come out of her” – teaching on specifics from the portion, and application to current events


The Coming Plagues are here

Monday, December 30th, 2013

For those with “eyes to see,” the season is unmistakeable:
“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.”   (Rev. 18:4)

And the plagues — figurative and literal — are already visible, too.  Although the blatant manipulation of the “crooked casino” paper markets for precious metals continues,  more and more evidence from physical markets suggest that the day of reckoning is near, as does the dubious claim that the Federal Reserve has begun to “taper” its money-printing to infinity.  The yield on 10 year US Treasury notes has again peeked through the critical 3.0% mark.  How much longer can the “Almighty Dollar” remain the world reserve currency?  And will this fiat currency too expire with a whimper, or a bang?

In Texas, concern over the recent “swine flu” outbreak has reached a crescendo.  A number of people have already died as a result of what the medical community is calling everything from a “mystery illness” to an H1N1 ‘variant’ (because the initial “rapid test” results for the influenza seem to have a poor reliability rate).  Four states in the south have reached the “10-out-of-ten” level for infections, and now a number of cases are being reported from Chicago to Massachusetts.

Whether or not either of these situations rises to the level of a Biblical “plague”, the warnings from Scripture are consistent.  Although it is evidently very unpopular nowadays to point out what should be obvious, for reasons that are becoming as undeniable as their effects, YHVH promises that “it shall come to pass that if you…observe and DO” what He commands, blessings will “come upon you, and overtake you.”  Conversely, if we will not hearken to Him, and observe and do as He commands, there are curses which will just as surely “overtake you.”  While there are any number of His commandments which are routinely ignored, or deliberately violated, by much of the world at large, these two seem to stand out.

Why?  Because both have to do directly with replacement gods.  Because “In god we trust,” seems to mean the Federal Reserve instead of any “invisible hand.”  Because “modern medicine” has replaced “YHVH Rapha” (‘the LORD our Healer’).  (Gee — Who needs prayer when Obamacare offers so many miracles?   Like — if you like your insurance plan, or your doctor — you can keep them.  People who believed THAT are now realizing that Big Brother really IS watching, and listening, too — and that there IS no “economic recovery,” or job growth, and as for inflation — just wait a bit.)

No wonder so many people in ‘the church’ today seem to have become disillusioned.  Some, having lost jobs and houses, and having been lied to about a recovery that never came, and a rapture that hasn’t either, are beginning to question their faith in a government routinely that ignores its own “supreme law,” and in a licensed faith-based corporate church that excuses such lapses because, after all, ‘the law’ was done away with anyway.

It is only the Creator and Author of Scripture Himself, YHVH Elohim, who does not lie.  “Let Yah be true, and every man a liar.”  But re-read the story of the Exodus.  He allowed Pharaoh, who once asked Moses the fatal question, “Who is this YHVH?  I know him not,” to wallow in the stubbornness of his own heart — for a while.  But eventually, in His own time, YHVH showed him, and all of us, Who He Is, what He did, and — a vital understanding today — that what He has said He will do – HE WILL DO.

The ‘world’ would like to tell us that “all paths lead to god,” which is a lie from the pit of you-know-where.  Instead, Proverbs reminds us twice that, ”  “There is a way that seems right to a man,” but the end thereof is death.  The path truly is “narrow,” because most of the gods of this world are false, and seek to lead us into the ditches on either side of that narrow way.  Likewise, there are a legion of ways people are being deceived.  Perhaps the most obvious is to reject Him entirely, as seems to be the most popular delusion.  But the prominent choice among too many self-proclaimed “believers,” however, was explained by Yahushua in both Luke 6 and Mark 7:  “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”
So, “why do you call Me ‘Lord, lord,’ and not DO the things I say?”

In other words, it’s evidently pretty easy to pay mere “lip service” to “believing in God” or “believing in Jesus” and then pretending that He changed His mind, did away with His own “law,” and no longer expects that, “if you love Me, keep My commandments.”  (John 14:15)

We’ve all heard the excuses, and we’ll be hearing new variations as well, because ultimately there’s “nuthin’ new under the sun.”   If the illusory “pre-trib rapture” didn’t come, say many, “well, it’s too late to plan NOW.”  Such fear and fatalism definitely does NOT come from the Elohim of the Bible!  “After all, I guess there’s nothing I can do anyway.”

Not without repentance, certainly; ‘tshuvah’, turning AWAY from the way that once seemed right, but leads to death.  Because it is rebellion to YHVH.

And the biggest irony is that the most important first steps don’t require millions of dollars in supplies and planning, nor a concrete bunker on an isolated Pacific island.  They just require “coming out of her,” and NOT doing simple things He said not to do anyway.

Back to those two easy-to-spot coming plagues.

How many times did He promise that — IF you will obey My statutes, judgments, and commandments — that He would NOT visit the diseases upon His people that He brought upon Egypt?  But that, otherwise, diseases would only be the beginning the plagues to come  (Lev. 26, Deut. 28-29, and prophets galore).  Arguably it is no coincidence that it is yet another “swine flu” that is sweeping across the land.  Thousands of years ago, our Creator (who Wrote what might even be thought of as the “Owners’ Manual” for the bodies He gave us) told us what is food, and what is NOT (Lev. 11, Deut. 14).  Things like pigs and shellfish seem to be the “death eaters” and “garbage scavengers” of the land and sea, respectively.  So guess where the heavy metal and similar poisons show up first among sea creatures?   And why is it that science recently “discovered” that the DNA of porcine animals is such a close match to humans that the major pandemics in history always seem to originate there?

We are “fearfully and wonderfully” made, with an incredible immune system, which DOES protect us from diseases, particularly if we treat it the way He told us to.  It has always been true that if we will walk in His ways, and eat what He says is food, that we will be healthier.  But it has arguably never been more IMPORTANT.

But the Bible seems to spend even more “ink” on instructions about economics than it does about food.  If we are to love our neighbor, and honor our contracts, honest weights and measures are essential.  Honest “money,” in other words.  So it is no coincidence that the Biblical Hebrew word “qesef” is synonymous with both “silver” AND “money” — just as the word for silver in so many other languages can mean money as well (ie, “plata” in Espanol, etc) while the US Constitution says that ONLY gold and silver qualify in that regard.

Once we understand that the dollar, and indeed every other paper currency on the planet as well, will ultimately be “worth-less,” can we continue to use it to buy and sell without consequences?  If Cyprus-like “bail-ins” are already being openly planned almost world-wide, and bank failures, currency controls, and outright confiscation of accounts are among the plagues in the pipeline, doesn’t a return to the true money of the Bible make sense?

And what better time to “come out of” a collapsing, dishonest banking scheme than when both silver and gold, in the real, hold-in-your-hand form, are at artificially-low prices we may never see again ?  It’s almost as if YHVH is using the manipulators to give His people one more chance to avoid the trap.

We have been warned.  Repeatedly.  And the plagues are not only coming, they are here.  But the answer has been here all along, too.  And YHVH has never changed His instruction for us.

The seasons DO change, however.  And there is a time to “come out of her,” quit partaking of the sins, and avoid those plagues.  It’s not enough to ‘believe in Him.’  If we believe Him, we will RETURN to Him, and obey.

Audio teaching: Parsha Vayishlach – Yakov, Israel, double-mindedness, and…

Monday, November 25th, 2013

the BATTLE we face RIGHT NOW!



Audio link to Parsha Vayishlach, 16 November, 2013.