Torah Portion SHOFTIM – Devarim (Deuteronomy) 16:18–21:9 Haftarah: Isaiah 51:12–52:12
“His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” John 9: 2 TLV
Shabbat shalom dearly beloved,
Do you feel like you are in an endless cycle of guilt and pain? If so, this message is for you. The man who was born blind suffered a constant accusing finger of society because of his handicap. People are always trying to find the guilty party! Whether it is our sin, the sins of others, or something else, that accusing finger is pointed at us, and it is relentless and painful!
But let’s follow this accusing finger until we learn how to relate to it, defeat it, and break the cycle of guilt in our lives once and for all!
Let’s start the journey in the Garden of Eden. After both Adam, in female and male gender, broke Yah’s Dietary Commandment, instead of owning up to their mistakes, they shifted the blame.
“Then He said, ‘Who told you that you are naked? Have you eaten from the Tree from which I commanded you not to eat?’ Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me—she gave me some of the Tree, and I ate.'” Genesis 3:11-12 TLV
Adam was standing right there next to her, but he took no responsibility, and neither did the woman.
“Adonai Elohim said to the woman, ‘What have you done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'” Genesis 3:13 TLV
The first step to getting rid of painful guilt is this: own up to your mistakes, admit your sins, take responsibility, do not evade guilt, and do not try to blame others. Instead, confess your guilt and then repent or make amends by changing your behavior, often by making restitution (more on this later). When we sin, Yah forgives us when we repent and accept Yeshua’s Blood Sacrifice. This happens every time we repent, do Teshuva, acknowledge our sin, and turn to Him.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 TLV
However, sin in Hebrew is the word HET, which means “to miss it.” It is like pointing a gun or an arrow at a target, but instead of hitting the intended target, it hits another unintended place. This unintended place where the stray bullet or arrow hits may cause damage. This could be damage to property or to human life. Sin causes damage not only to ourselves, but also to other things or other people. Sin always brings death and destruction.
“For sin’s payment is death, but God’s gracious gift is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” Romans 6:23 TLV
The second step to ending the guilt cycle is this: As much as it depends on you, make restitution when you harm others, even if you have repented before Yah. When we repent, we receive forgiveness from The Father in Heaven, but we may have to make RESTITUTION for people to forgive us. If we have caused property or monetary damage, money will be needed to make reparations.
“But if indeed it was stolen from him, he is to make restitution to the owner. If a man borrows anything belonging to his neighbor and it is harmed or dies in the absence of the owner, he must make full restitution.” Exodus 22:11, 13 TLV
If we have harmed human life by our behavior, whether emotionally, physically, or spiritually, it is much more complex. That is the reason why people who murder someone are put in prison for life or even subjected to the death penalty.
“But if any harm follows, then you are to penalize life for life.” Exodus 21:23 TLV
Occasionally, someone that harms someone else obtains a pardon for good behavior when they change their ways. We have an extensive prison ministry and hundreds of Bible School students behind bars—some in maximum security facilities and even on death row.
The crimes committed by many of them are considered quite heinous, including those committed by sex predators, scammers, hackers, robbers, rapists, and murderers. They are serving long or even life sentences for their actions, with some awaiting their execution date. However, these men and women have fully repented and obtained complete forgiveness for their sins from the Father in Heaven. They are filled with the Holy Spirit, having made Yeshua the King of their lives. They are now sons and daughters of the Living God!
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Messiah Yeshua. For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yeshua has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2 TLV
They strive to walk in a manner pleasing to Him, obeying His commandments, and doing good to others. While Yah has forgiven them and we love and minister to them, the system and society have not. Many of them will spend their lives behind bars. The sins they committed still carry consequences; their children, families, and communities are suffering. There’s a significant possibility that their families, communities, and society may never forgive them. Are they destined to live a life burdened by the excruciating pain of guilt?
The Torah prescribes “eye for an eye” and “life for life,” but how can one measure emotional or spiritual damage? Our sins can inflict a lifetime of emotional damage on our loved ones. Will our guilt persist indefinitely?
“Why is my pain unceasing, my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will you be to me like a deceitful brook, like waters that fail?” Jeremiah 15:18 ESV
Can we ever escape the accusatory finger pointing at us due to our past sins? And what about the accusing finger we point at ourselves?
“For day and night, Your hand was heavy upon me. My strength was drained, as in the summer droughts. Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not hide my iniquity. I said, ‘I confess my transgressions to Adonai,’ and You forgave the guilt of my sin. So let everyone who is godly pray to You at a time when You may be found. When great floodwaters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place. You will protect me from distress. You surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalms 32:4–7 TLV
I have concluded that after we repent and change our ways, plus try our best to rectify the wrong done, we need to forgive ourselves. Yes, we need to release ourselves from our own pointing finger.
Allow me to provide a personal example: Right after the father of my children and I got divorced, Yeshua appeared to me on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. This event led to my radical salvation, as I was filled with the Holy Spirit and Fire.
Our divorce was on the grounds of adultery. My ex-husband had been mentally sick and made my life miserable. I ended up in the arms of another at the lowest point of my life, trying to find answers to my troubles through an Ouija board. I was managing our two children (one newly born), my two health food stores, and all the responsibility of household and finances. He was completely dysfunctional and refused help.
Following my breakdown, he temporarily recovered and took custody of the children, then filed for divorce on the grounds of adultery. I confessed my sin before the Rabbinical Court, and he gained custody of the children. This is a brief summary of the tragic events in my life that ultimately culminated in my glorious salvation. For the complete story, you can read my testimony book, “YES.”
Right after Yeshua saved me, I went to my ex-husband and offered to serve as a maid to him and the children until they reached 18 years of age. My goal was to ensure they had a mother figure, not just grandparents. At the time, my son was one-year-old, and my daughter was five. I committed to dedicating the next 17 years to serving them as a housekeeper or maid as a form of restitution for my sins. I wasn’t even suggesting that he remarry me.
However, his response was a firm NO! His reasoning was that I had become a radical believer in Yeshua. Although he was Jewish, he would have accepted me if I had embraced nominal Christianity. Yet there was no chance he would allow me to live with the children as a born-again, spirit-filled Messianic believer.
Following his rejection of my offer for restitution, Yeshua granted me open visions and informed me that He was sending me to preach the Gospel to the nations.
“I am forgotten like a dead man; I am like a broken vessel. I hear the slander of many; terror is on every side! While they schemed together against me, they plotted to take my life. But I trust in You, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.'” Psalms 31:13–15 TLV
From that moment onward, I was accused of abandoning my children, and every hardship they experienced was attributed to me. I was deemed guilty, while the father, who was mentally ill, dysfunctional, and abusive, was never held accountable for anything. Even after he took his own life, leaving the children emotionally scarred, he was never held responsible. It was all my fault, and there seemed to be no forgiveness for me. My children were subjected to this narrative day and night: “All your sufferings are because of your wayward mother and her faith in the God that she serves.”
No one considered “both sides of the coin” or acknowledged my generous offer of restitution, which he declined. I could never be forgiven. Over the course of 30 years, after this man’s suicide, I dedicated myself to tending to the emotional needs of my children, despite the Israeli courts denying me access to them due to my faith. I bent over backwards to help them heal, but my efforts seemed futile. Deep inside, they held me and my God accountable for all their woes. How does one bear such a burden? How did I endure under such weight?
“If only my anguish could be weighed and all my misery placed on the scales.” Job 6:2 TLV
I have had moments of deep pain, grief, and mourning, but I have made my decision. I will follow Yeshua to the end and will never look back. I know I am forgiven by Yah, and I have forgiven myself, for there is no one who is without sin. This is precisely why Yeshua had to die and pay the price, because we all need Him. Those who are unable to forgive the sins of others deserve our deepest pity. In fact, unforgiveness, self-righteousness, and blame-shifting can cause people to become mentally ill and tormented. They are the most deceiving! Remember, when you point a finger at someone else, three fingers are pointing right back at you!
“Yeshua answered and said to them, ‘Those who are healthy have no need for a doctor, but those who are sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'” Luke 5:31–32 TLV
We are all in the same boat! We are all broken humans. Yes, even the best of us have missed the mark and hurt Elohim and other humans.
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are set right as a gift of His grace through the redemption that is in Messiah Yeshua. God set forth Yeshua as an atonement, through faith in His blood, to show His righteousness by passing over sins already committed. Through God’s forbearance, He demonstrates His righteousness at the present time—that He Himself is just and also the justifier of the one who puts his trust in Yeshua.” Romans 3:23–26 TLV
To sum it all up: In order to walk with wholeness despite society and family pointing fingers at you, you must:
- Own to your sin and change your ways
- Confess and repent to God through the Blood sacrifice of Yeshua, His Son
- Confess and repent before men
- Offer to make restitution
- If your family or other people refuse to forgive you, you must endure it and forgive them for their unforgiveness.
- Forgive yourself and release yourself from your judgment.
- Move on to obey Yeshua’s Call in your life without looking back.
- When the painful memories come, invite the Ruach Hakodesh to help you pray, to comfort your heart, or ask others to pray for you.
- Remember that we all have past lives, past sins and many regrets. Be kind to yourself and to others.
- Choose to love unconditionally those that constantly blame you but do not compromise your faith to please them.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of this. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal for the reward of the upward calling of God in Messiah Yeshua.” Philippians 3:13-14 TLV
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