Chapter 5:

Parasha Shoftim 2022-23: Leading by Example!

Watch: Parasha Shoftim 2022-23: Leading by Example! 

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:18-21:9, Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 51-52, Mattityahu (Matthew) 26-27.

Shalom and welcome to this week’s Parasha Shoftim 2022. I am your host Ulices Rodriguez, and in this week’s parasha, we are going to see and learn how Yahweh wants us to govern ourselves and handle civil and criminal disputes. We will also see how this translates over to the family in the way that a judge or a priest leads the nation of Israel by handling legal matters with the intent of spiritual reform.

Here in the United States, there is this idea of the separation of religion and the government. However, in antiquity, this was not the case (especially in ancient Israel) and the way Yahweh sees it, is that our faith is what determines us as a nation, not our skin color or the form of government we currently have over us.

Our focus should be on the things of Heaven and accomplishing Yahweh’s will. And if our prayer is not that Yahweh’s will be done on Earth as it is in heaven, then we are extremely misguided.

The Torah and the Commandments which we are going to learn about today are first performing a spiritual government and then putting those spiritual lessons into practice which we can then turn around and make a physical nation. As we know, a nation is comprised of its families, so if the family structure is broken and if the family structure is not a spiritual family, then the nation is also going to be broken and the nation is also going to be in a spiritual famine. This is why it does not matter (currently) what Babylonian government reigns over us. We are Yahweh’s people, and as Yahweh’s people, we should be seeking to build a spiritual government (spiritual Kingdom) as Yahweh commanded and as His son Yeshua also commanded so that when He returns, we will know how to organize and conduct ourselves according to His Torah so that we can then rule the nations with His Rod of Iron.

In Devarim chapter 16 verses 18-20, we see that we are supposed to appoint judges and officials according to our tribes in all our towns to help administer Justice on Yahweh’s behalf. These judges and officials are not supposed to pervert justice. They are supposed to love justice and love Yahweh, so this brings up a valuable point. There is a difference between an anointed judge and an appointed judge. An anointed judge must always be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:18-20
18 “You shall appoint judges and officers in all your gates, which Yahweh your Elohim gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with just judgment.
19 You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and twists the words of the righteous.
20 You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which the Yahweh your Elohim is giving you.”

Examples of this would be Moshe or Joshua. They were anointed by the Spirit (by Yahweh) to lead and judge the people. This means that they were always supposed to remain in connection with Yahweh in the spirit whereas an appointed judge did not have to be this way, but they were supposed to always fear Elohim. This may not seem like a huge difference at first, but when we really take the time to look at this with spiritual eyes, we can see why this difference is as important as it is. Obviously, someone who fears Elohim is still someone who is going to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led but not to the same degree as an anointed judge. Reasons for this may be that an appointed judge likely has another job that keeps him busy from being able to work Ministry full-time as a priest would or even an anointed judge would. Therefore, he will fear Elohim but not always be Spirit-filled because he also handles issues that are not always Ministry related. As an anointed judge, his whole life revolves around the ministry so therefore he must not only fear Elohim and love justice, but he must always be seeking to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led since his choices and judgments are all about the ministry and the leading of a nation or a group of people.

Ideally, we would want appointed judges to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led at all times, but this is not a requirement for them. Much like a father and a husband would be considered the priest for his household, therefore he needs to be a man who fears Elohim and ideally should be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led at all times. However, it is not a requirement because he is only considered the priest for his family, whereas the priest for the nation has an entirely different role that requires a more set apart mindset and attitude which requires him to be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led at all times because he is always on duty. If you would like to know more details on this specific study of men and their specific roles in Hebrew culture and the Faith, please visit our website and find our study called “Men: Priest, Providers Protectors” in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume Three.

Reasons why these men who were appointed as judges and officials were supposed to be lovers of justice and men who fear Elohim, is because they serve as examples to the peoples of how to live their lives according to the Torah.

We see in Matthew chapter 22 starting in verse 37, Yeshua declared:

Mattityahu (Matthew) 22:37-40
37 “Yeshua said to him, “‘You shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

With this, we can see that to properly understand the Torah and to love justice, the judge or the priest must love Elohim more than anything and must love his neighbor as he loves himself by seeking to administer justice correctly. If you have been sinned against and the judge or priest does not even care to listen to your case or administer the correct form of justice, would you really feel loved? Would you really feel that you are in a community with standing and upright people? Perhaps you might even feel the need to take vengeance upon yourself. However, we all know what Yahweh says about that. He says that vengeance belongs to Him.

Let us take a look at this example (in Matthew) of hypocrisy from the judges and the priests during Yeshua’s trial. In Matthew chapter 26 verses 59 and 60 we read:

Mattityahu (Matthew) 26:59-60
59 “Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,
60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward”

This is exactly what Yahweh is speaking about in Devarim chapter 16; the appointed judges and officials are supposed to love Justice. In Yeshua’s case (with the priest), these are men who should be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led, but because they are not and blaspheme (reject) the Set-apart Spirit, that is why they cannot see the Messiah standing before them. Instead, they preferred justice for their own selfish gain and the same went for the Elders of the Sanhedrin. Men who ideally should be Spirit-filled and Spirit-led, but they too rejected the set-apart Spirit in favor of their selfish gain. This is the sort of evil that blinds the eyes and twists the words of the righteous. This is the exact opposite of what Yahweh wants for His people. This is the exact sort of evil we must avoid at all costs.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:20
20 “You shall follow what is altogether just, that you may live and inherit the land which Yahweh your Elohim is giving you.”

As we continue into Devarim chapter 17, we read about judgments for idol worship, guidelines for kings, and what is to happen if someone rejects the verdict of a judge or priest who represents Yahweh.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17:2-7
2 “If there is found among you, within any of your gates which Yahweh your Elohim gives you, a man or a woman who has been wicked in the sight of the Yahweh your Elohim, in transgressing His covenant,
3 who has gone and served other elohim’s and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded, 4 and it is told you, and you hear of it, then you shall inquire diligently. And if it is indeed true and certain that such an abomination has been committed in Israel,
5 then you shall bring out to your gates that man or woman who has committed that wicked thing, and shall stone to death that man or woman with stones.
6 Whoever is deserving of death shall be put to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses; he shall not be put to death on the testimony of one witness.
7 The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you.”

If we look at this with spiritual eyes first and foremost, Yahweh absolutely hates idolatry. It is considered spiritual adultery and so we have to understand how serious of an offense it is. It is one of the four abominations that we must abstain from in order to even be allowed in the synagogue to learn about Yahweh and His Torah (which was all determined and decided in Acts chapter 15).

Idolatry is no joke to Yahweh, and this is why He states that if something like this happens, the judge or the priest is supposed to inquire of it diligently. Really, the priest or judge is supposed to inquire of all eager matters diligently but especially idolatry. It is such a serious offense that if someone is to be found guilty, they are to be put to death. So with our spiritual glasses on, we see and know that Yahweh’s desire is that none of His people would perish but that all would have everlasting life if they would believe on His Son Yeshua.

Yochanan (John) 3:16-21
16 “For Elohim so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
17 For Elohim did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of Elohim.
19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in Elohim.”

We see that Yahweh does not want anyone to perish. This is why a judge, or a priest is supposed to love justice because justice is more than executing a judgment. Justice is about seeking the redemption of somebody, seeking the redemption of a nation, seeking the redemption of a family member, a friend, a stranger or whatever the case may be. This is what he is supposed to inquire diligently on such matters of idolatry in the nation, and in our case, the body of Messiah.

Elders are to inquire diligently of these matters because we should be seeking to preserve life unto repentance, but if a brother or sister persists in their evil ways (because they desire darkness over the Light), then obviously we do not want that darkness (sin) to corrupt the nation or the rest of the body. So when we live in the land, the method of removing or purging the evil from our midst is through stoning. While we are currently in the dispersion, our method for purging this evil from our midst is to kick them out of the assemblies until they have a true and genuine repentance.

This is all exemplified in First Corinthians chapter 5. We see in chapter 5 that Shaliach Shaul is addressing the sin of a brother in the assembly and pronounces a judgment on the sinful brother and the sinful brother has not sought repentance and the assembly in Corinth has allowed him to remain in the assembly. They have even become boastful and proud of this brother’s sin by allowing him to stay. By choosing to let them stay, they are effectively saying and condoning that his sin is okay, therefore they are both full and proud of his sin.

Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 5:3
3 “For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed.”

We should be detesting the sin in our midst. We should be seeking to purge it out from among us, so Shaul warns them and tells them that this brother’s sin is like the little leaven that leavens the whole lump. That is why, for the Feast of Passover (Pesach), we remove all leaven from our homes and borders as a symbolic representation of purging the sin from our hearts as well as from the nation (or the assemblies in this case). Shaul goes on to say that we need to throw a man like this out of the assembly because we are supposed to be judging ourselves, holding ourselves accountable, and behaving as a Set- apart people to Yahweh.

A lot of this has to do with love because if we think about it, if we love our brother, do we really want to continue to let them live and walk in a sinful lifestyle? If they die with unrepented sin, then we all know where we go when that happens. Repentance unto life is what we want, so if we love our brother and if we love our sister, then we want to lead them to repentance. By doing so, by casting them out of the assembly, that is what we are effectively trying to do. We are trying to love them in a correcting way so whatever the world wants to do that is their business and Yahweh will judge the world, but we are to maintain purity amongst ourselves. Otherwise, how can we be the pure bride of Yeshua if we are not behaving in a pure manner.

The reason why Yahweh requires that stones to be thrown by the witnesses first and then the rest of the people, is so that everyone in Israel understands how serious Yahweh is about keeping His Commandments, testing the hearts of His people, and how it is also our responsibility to be our brother’s keeper, so our hearts are tested in two ways as a witness. If we as a witness, witness the sin of a brother or sister, and if we love our brother or sister ourselves, then we genuinely want to see them repent because if we commit sin obviously, we do not want anybody to be super eager to just pick up a stone and chuck it at us. So therefore, we should not be jumping at the bit to pick up the stone and throw it.

Yet, our hearts are also tested to see if we love Yahweh more than our own family and friends in the same way that the Levites exemplified and showed that they loved Yahweh more than their own brothers in the sin of the golden calf. If our brother or sister persist in their evil and they are found guilty, refuse to repent, and we are a witness to all of this, will we love Yahweh enough to do what He says to do? This is why we are supposed to do what the priesthood judge says to do because they are supposed to love justice and to judge with impartiality. But if we do not follow through with the verdict that the priest or judge issues, then we occur the death penalty on our own heads because at that point, the judge or the priest is the one who is issuing a righteous verdict because they are the ones who are supposed to be representing Yahweh.

Therefore, we are to behave righteously by executing that judgment (following through with that judgment). If we do not, then the evil must be purged from among us because our loyalty (at this point) is not with Yahweh and therefore is considered rebellion. Yahweh is a King; He does not tolerate insubordination and neither does Yeshua. When we look at the guidelines for kings, there are many things that we can focus on, but the verses I really wanted to focus on here were 18 through 20.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 17:18-20
18“Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites.
19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear Yahweh his Elohim and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes,
20 that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.”

As I mentioned earlier, a nation is made up of families. If a judge, an elder, or a priest are all supposed to be the ideal representation of men of Elohim, so is a king. As men, if we have the eyes to see it, we are the priests and kings of our families. We are the stronger vessel, but with this strength comes a great deal of responsibility just as a king, a judge, and a priest would have.

Ephesim (Ephesians) 5:21-30
21 “submitting to one another in the fear of Elohim.
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Yahweh.
23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Messiah is head of the assembly; and He is the Savior of the body.
24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Messiah, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Messiah also loved the assembly and gave Himself for her,
26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious assembly, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Yahweh does the assembly.
30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.”

With this, we seem to understand that the husband is supposed to love his wife and children and a king and priests are supposed to love their people just as Yeshua, our King, and our high priest in the heavens, loves us. Just as husbands are supposed to love their wives as Yeshua loved us, for families to really come together in unity in Messiah, everyone must first submit to one another in Messiah meaning, we as husbands are not supposed to be proud and think of ourselves better than our wives and children (just as Yahweh cautions the king not to lift his heart above his brothers). The same goes for wives as well because wives are commanded to respect and submit to their husbands as they would with Yahweh.

A small disclaimer: if your husband is asking or demanding that you would sin, you are to obey Elohim over your husband in a quiet and respectful manner as it is outlined in 1’st Peter (or Kepha Aleph) chapter 3. For husbands, if your wife is asking and demanding that you would sin, then you are to obey Elohim over your wife and additionally, speak the truth in love to her and this is what it means to wash your wife with the word to present her as a set-apart bride or as a Proverbs 31 wife.

Kepha Aleph (1 Peter) 3:1-2
1 “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,
2 when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.”

The reason why I say men are the priests and kings of their families, is to try and help men out there view themselves in a different light rather than the way the world does. Today, the world tells men that they are unimportant, and that masculinity is toxic. This is a huge reason as to why divorce rates are so high and why the rate of single mother households are high. The world has convinced men that they need to be feminine and that their leadership is no longer required, or for that matter really even wanted.

After hearing this for generations, many men have abandoned chivalry and their responsibilities as husbands and as fathers. Although statistically here in the United States, more divorces are initiated by the wife. I will speak directly to the sisters at another time but right now I want to speak to the men because the change starts with you.

When I tell men that they are the priests and kings of their families, it is to inspire men to walk in their Biblical role. Not to be self-serving, but to be honorable and dutiful as a king would be to his nation and his people or just as a priest is to Yahweh his Elohim because a righteous king and a righteous priest seeks to serve the people. A righteous man should be seeking to serve his wife, children, and his community.

Practically, what this looks like is no matter whether your family agrees with your decision to follow Yahweh and His Commandments, you are to lead your family by never wavering in your commitment to Him. This part is so important. By your example in leadership to always remind your wife, that if you (as the man) as the head of the household love Yahweh, then you will always put Him first. If you as a head of the household love Yahweh first and foremost, then all other relationships can fall into their proper place. And all other relationships like work with your co-workers, with your boss, with your children, with your parents, and with your siblings.

By learning to love Yahweh more than anything, you learn to love your wife as yourself so that even if you guys are unequally yoked, you do not despise your wife. Instead, you look for opportunities to witness the love of Yeshua into her life and with this idea of honor and duty to your family, you will not tolerate these evil and demonic schemes that the world tries to push into your home through the TV, music, and so many other avenues. This is why our war is spiritual.

Men of Elohim are men of war. Again, this war is not a physical war, but it is a spiritual war, and we have to be willing as men of Elohim to go to war with the evil spirits that are ravaging our communities and our families.

Just as Yahweh expected our ancestors to govern their communities in righteousness, this same expectation exists for us today. The same way Yeshua fought and bled for us and the way He protected us; His body, His bride, we are expected to do the same for our wives and our families (our own body).

Let us follow His example. This is why Shaul said to “imitate me as I imitate the Messiah”.

Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 11:1
1 “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Messiah.”

Moshe is speaking about Yeshua in Deuteronomy chapter 18 when he says:

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 18:15, 18
15 “Yahweh your Elohim will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,”
18 “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.”

Moshe even goes on to say that “Yahweh will put His words inside this Prophet’s mouth, and he will tell the people everything I command Him”. It is statements like this by Yahweh that tells us that Moshe is speaking of Yeshua because Yahweh goes on to tell the people that He will personally deal with anyone who will not listen to the message this Prophet claims on His behalf.

Yeshua says in John (Yochanan) chapter 12 starting in verse 47 that:

Yochanan (John) 12:47-50
47 “And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.
50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

Yeshua is all throughout the Scriptures, and it is clear between Deuteronomy chapter 18 and the passage in John we just read, that Yeshua is the Prophet that Moshe is speaking of.

The following verses in Devarim 18, we read how Yahweh tells the people how to know whether someone comes and speaks as a prophet of His or not. And if that prophet is not someone Yahweh sent, then that person is to die so for all of us in the body of Messiah, we must be especially careful with the words we speak (especially when we attribute them to say thus saith Yahweh).

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 18:20
20 “But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other elohims, that prophet shall die.”

Many times we think we are listening in the Spirit when really, we are not. This takes practice and intentful listening for the Spirit. This is why judges and priests really need to hone their skills to listen and walk according to the Spirit. This is why men must learn to do the same in order to properly lead their families. Otherwise, if we try to make decisions according to our own wisdom and understanding, then we are bound to fail.

This is why it is so critical to pay attention in the Spirit. This is why the Spirit is such a still and quiet voice because it is not going to shout in your ears. She is not going to try and get your attention because Yahweh wants us and desires us to love Him earnestly enough that we would stop and slow down our way of thinking (slow down our mind) and, really and intentfully, listen for what He wants us to do. By doing so, we submit ourselves over to Him and the mentality that we end up developing is Yahweh’s. It is not my will that is going to be done, I want Your will to be done. How is it that you want me to lead my family? What are the words you want me to speak? It is all about Yahweh and what He wants.

As we move on, let us take a look at Devarim chapter 20. Here we see that when Yahweh calls us to go to war, we are to remember that He is with us, and we are not to be afraid. Yahweh even goes on to say that the priest is to come and speak to all the men of war. Why is that?

Devarim (Deuteronomy) 20:2
2 “So it shall be, when you are on the verge of battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people.”

It is because Yahweh is Spirit, and we are supposed to be led by the Spirit. We are to walk by faith and not by sight. The fact that we are Yahweh’s people means (naturally speaking) most likely, we are going to be outnumbered but in the physical this does not really matter. If we put on the full armor of Elohim to protect us, then we have more than enough. We are to put on the full armor of Elohim and trust Yahweh as our deliverer. The priest (especially the High Priest) is the head of this spiritual army. This is why he is commanded to speak to the people and how blessed are we today to have Yeshua as our High Priest in the heavens and as our Commander-in-Chief?

As we read further on, we see that the next person to speak to the men of war are the officers of the army. They list off four people who are exempt from having to go to war. The first three exemptions are if a man has either married, built a house, or planted a vineyard/garden of some sort. These three exemptions are about building a life that is going to carry on the future of the nation. If a man builds a home, then he marries, and then plants a garden or a vineyard, he is obviously looking to build a life and pass on an inheritance for the survival of his children, grandchildren, and so forth.

This is how you keep the nation alive. This is how you keep the nation going by raising up the next generation. This is why this type of man is exempt from war. The idea is that he could die in a war and, if he dies before having built a home for his wife and children to carry on his name or an inheritance to pass on, then his name could die out in Israel. He could be a righteous man and a righteous man that could go on to raise up another king or whatever the case may be. So if he starts these projects and they remain unfinished, then that is one more family in Israel that is going to suffer if he should not come back from war. It does not matter if the unrighteous men go to war, but do not return to raise families to keep the next generation going, to keep the nation alive, to keep the nation going.

When we take a look at the fourth type of exemption, I find it to be an interesting one. The exemption from war (in this case) is if someone is afraid or faint-hearted. They are told to go home and not to go to war. I think that this is interesting because basically this type of man cannot seem to overcome his fear of the unknown or the stress and worries of battle. When we think about it, life is one big battle or one big war.

As we read the parable of the sower, there are four different kinds of seed. Three of them are pertaining to different fears and struggles in life, yet the last seed that fell among good soil was someone who loves the word of Elohim. They hold on to it and through patience or perseverance, they produce good fruit.

Let us read what it says in Luqa (Luke) chapter 8 starting in verse 15:

Luqa (Luke) 8:15
15 “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”

That word perseverance tells us that the believer who has a heart of good soil is not free from a difficult life or free from a life of fear and worries. Rather, it tells us that the believer with the heart of good soil is like anyone else in life. They experience fear, stress, and worries, yet the difference is they hold on to the Word of Elohim firmly. They refuse to let anyone steal their peace. They keep their focus on Elohim no matter what and this is what it means to be a warrior.

These are the sort of men and women who Yahweh wants to go to war for Him, but especially the men. Otherwise, if we were like any of the other three types of soil or the man who is worried and afraid to go to war, that fear can and will spread to others that are a part of the faith, or to the other men of war. While fear is infectious so is courage and courage is not the absence of fear. It is overcoming the fear and responding to action despite the fear.

Yeshua never promised an easy life for any of us who come to profess our faith in Him. He gave us the Spirit (not of fear but of love and of sound mind) so please brothers and sisters, answer the call for your life. Yeshua died for us that we may be forgiven and have a path paved for us back to the Father. Let us not waste this opportunity we have to use our lives as a living sacrifice for Yahweh.

There will be many fearful and scary times ahead of us, but please let none of those things distract us from the One who is our source of strength. Through Yeshua, we could do anything if we are willing to respond in faith and love.

If these works have been a help to you in your walk with Messiah Yeshua, please pray about partnering with His kingdom work. Thank you. Give