Sunday, December 27, 2015

Hidden in Plain Sight!

The Torah portion for this week is Genesis 44:18 - 47:27.

It would be hard to find in the Bible a more perfect type of Messiah than Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob. The similarities are amazing! One of these similarities is the 30 pieces of silver which paid for both men's betrayal by their "brothers." Another is that both men were hidden in plain sight. Let me explain.

Paul teaches us in Romans that the Jewish people are currently experiencing a blindness or sleep in regards to recognizing their Messiah.

Romans 11:8 (KJV)
8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. (from Deuteronomy 29:4)

Romans 11:25 (KJV)
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

Now the tendency for Gentile Christians is to say that the Jewish people are foolish not to recognize Jesus as their Messiah. However, we see from Romans that our attitude towards the Jews should not be one of superiority. Rather we should understand that God has allowed this to occur in order for Gentiles to enter into Messiah's Kingdom.

Also, if believers would seriously look at the Old Testament and examine Joseph as a type of Messiah, they would see that Joseph was not recognized by his brothers either. When Jacob's other sons came into Egypt they met the nation's second top man. He had an Egyptian name, He spoke in the Egyptian language. He was dressed as an Egyptian. He was revered by the Egyptians. He did not resemble their brother Joseph at all. It wasn't until after Judah offered to be held as a bondsman in place of Benjamin that Joseph revealed himself.

Genesis 45:4 (KJV)
4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.

In a way, Joseph was hidden in plain sight!

Now let's look at Yeshua. He has a Greek name (Jesus from Iesous). His Hebrew/Aramaic language comes down to us through not only the Greek language, but from a Greek understanding of Scripture. Often artwork portrays Him in Medieval European dress and very European features. Gentiles worship Him while ignoring the Torah and creating a new religion. Is is surprising that most Jewish people can't recognize their own Messiah? Yeshua also seems to be hidden in plain sight!

One day, though, as we  learn from the Old Testament, as well as Paul, that Messiah will reveal Himself to His brothers.

Romans 11:26-27 (KJV)
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (from Isaiah 59:20-21)

"Vayigashu......ani Yeshua akhikhem....."   "Please come near to me.....I am Yeshua your brother....."

Perhaps as Gentile and Jewish believers we need to help our brothers of all stripes learn to recognize our very Jewish Messiah by peeling back the Greek and Gentile traditions that have hidden our Messiah so well.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Originally posted 12/23/12

When I became convinced of the Messianic perspective I truly wanted to align my life with Torah. I began eating according to Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. I began observing a Saturday Sabbath and I kept all the feasts of the Lord as described in Leviticus 23. It was liberating and exhilarating! However, I also ran into some obstacles! There were family feelings and traditions that I couldn't just sweep away and rearrange to my liking. So, I have often found myself in a dilemma. How do you maneuver between what you perceive as right and the ways of others that you no longer adhere to?

As Christmas approached I was really not enjoying the season. If I had been on an island by myself I would have celebrated Yeshua's birth at the Feast of Tabernacles and I would have ignored December 25th. But most of my family would have thought me crazy or weird and would have been hurt by my wanting to alter Christmas, so I knew that I had to "go along" to a certain degree.

Christmas is in two days. My gifts are wrapped and are waiting in a corner of our living room. (We don't have a Christmas tree. This is my one refusal in light of the pagan origins of the holiday.) We will have our Christmas. I wish we could do it differently. Maybe we will next year!

Yet, through all the Christmas-ness of the season, the well wishes, the feelings of care and love, family, holiday movies, and the very real meaning of the birth of Yeshua, I still have felt that spark of gratitude to God for the reason for the season, as they say. If Yeshua had not been born where would we all be? We would be doomed for a Godless eternity in Hell. So in focusing on the meaning of Yeshua's birth rather than on the traditions and the specific day, I am feeling His love and I want and need to share!

To all my readers, family, and friends, have a very blessed Christmas! 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

God's Plan for Wealth

Last week's Torah Portion came from Genesis 41:1 - 44:17.

Joseph had asked the chief butler to remember him to Pharaoh when he was released from prison and returned to his court duties, but as we found out at the end of our last Torah portion, the chief butler had totally forgotten about Joseph. Chapter 41 begins with this:

Genesis 41:1 (KJV)
1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.

TWO YEARS of waiting! Joseph's discouragement must have been extreme, yet God had not forgotten Joseph. He had plans for His servant!

Pharaoh dreamed two dreams and none of the magicians could tell Pharaoh the dreams, nor interpret them. Finally, the chief butler remembered Joseph and recommended him to Pharaoh. Although Joseph was able to interpret the dreams for Pharaoh, he quickly credited God for the interpretation.

Genesis 41:16 (KJV)
16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.

Pharaoh took Joseph's suggestion to appoint a vizier, or a high government official, to oversee the collection and distribution of food for the people during the upcoming seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. Pharaoh chose Joseph for this role. With this decree, Joseph permanently left the prison and became second in command over Egypt.

God had certainly rewarded Joseph for his faithfulness, but as Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy food, we see that God was not yet finished. The brothers face Joseph, the brother that they had sold into slavery. They bow down to him without recognizing that he is their brother. They were now to be tested. Had they changed in any way or were they the same self-centered brothers that Joseph had known? More on this next time!

There are some who believe that it is God's will for His people to be wealthy. After all, even though Joseph spent many years as a slave or in prison, he was eventually raised to an almost unbelievable status. Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham all had great wealth, but is this the norm? When we examine the entire Bible we find that Yeshua, His parents, and His disciples were not wealthy. Consequently, there is no reason to automatically assume that wealth is a given for God's people. Some are wealthy and some are not. A person's bank account is only dependent on what God plans. Wealth may be God's will for some, but it is not for all. If wealth would bring glory to God through a believer's life, then wealth may be the result. However, wealth can also bring great sin, often in the form of idolatry.

Are you wealthy? Thank God and use it responsibly for God. Don't let it become a god. Are you poor or somewhere in between? Be thankful for what you do have and be thankful that wealth has not become an added difficulty. Don't yearn for wealth, for that is also idolatry.

God is trustworthy! Trust Him in all the things of your life!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Why, God?

Last week's Torah portion came from  Genesis 37:1 - 40:23.

I have several true born again believer friends who love to tell me about how this or that has happened so perfectly in their lives that they know that God has orchestrated these events. Yet, when terrible or unpleasant things occur, it is Satan that is attacking them. But I think we are too quick to attribute method and motive to both the Lord and our enemy.

Most of the Bible's characters are complex, in that they display both good and bad, but Joseph, who is introduced in this section of Scripture, seems truly to be a type of Messiah, where his sterling good character generally shines continuously. In chapter 37 Joseph is seventeen years old and the favored son of his father Jacob. Because of Jacob's favoritism, Joseph's brothers are jealous. Then through a series of events, a many colored coat, tattling on his brothers, and dreams of supremacy, his brothers decide that Joseph needs to be killed. As the account unfolds Joseph is finally not killed but sold to a caravan of Ishmaelites/Midianites on their way to Egypt. When they reach their destination Joseph is sold to Potipher as a slave.

At this point in Joseph's life, everything must have looked exceptionally bleak. What was God doing? Or were these events an attempt by Satan to "break" Joseph?

Joseph prospered in the house of Potipher. That is until Potipher's wife takes notice of Joseph's good looks. When Joseph refuses to commit adultery with Potipher's wife, she cries that Joseph tried to assault her. Potipher has Joseph thrown into prison. Again, what was God doing?

Next, as Joseph is in prison, he is again prospering. He even interprets the dreams of Pharaoh's butler and baker who had been thrown into prison with Joseph. As the dreams come to pass in reality, Joseph asks the butler to remember him when he is freed from prison and put back in place as Pharaoh's chief butler. Our account ends like this:

Genesis 40:23 (KJV)
23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.

From a human perspective, Joseph must have been discouraged. He could not see God's purpose and plan. He could credit God with his prosperity, and he could blame Satan for his difficulties, but would this have been correct? Does this tell the full story?

Too often we forget that God is in ultimate control of everything. This is not to say that God micromanages everything for us, that we have no decisions or choice in our lives. Nor, is it false to say that our enemy is at work here on our fallen world. But everything that we go through has been scrutinized by God and will only be permitted if it is His will. Sometimes, that means that good happens. Sometimes that means that bad happens. Sometimes our own choices are foolish. Sometimes our choices are smart. Sometimes God allows our foolishness. Sometimes He does not. Looking at our lives we have really no way of knowing the whys. We can not see God's ultimate plan and purpose. We can only trust!

Joseph's story continues in the next Torah portion. We will finally get a glimpse of what work God is doing. This will be the same for us. One day, in eternity, we will see how each piece of our lives connected, to mold us and make us into the people that God wants us to be.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Messengers of Peace

Last week's Torah portion comes from Genesis 32:3 - 36:43.

Genesis 32:3 (KJV)
3 And Jacob sent messengers before him to Esau his brother unto the land of Seir, the country of Edom.

When Jacob returned to the land of Canaan, he knew that his brother Esau was likely still angry with him over his deception of their father that resulted in Esau's loss of the blessing of the first born. In fact, Esau had threatened to kill him at one point! What better way to pave the way to peace by sending a gift to Esau!

Yet, what was Esau's response?

Genesis 32:6 (KJV)
6 And the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him.

It looked like Jacob had reason to be afraid! But when they actually met, it appeared that Esau's anger had been assuaged.

Genesis 33:8-9 (KJV)
8 And he said, What meanest thou by all this drove which I met? And he said, These are to find grace in the sight of my lord.
9 And Esau said, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself.

But Jacob was still not sure of his brother. When Esau offered to lead Jacob to his destination, Jacob responded with this:

Genesis 33:13-14 (KJV)
13 And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die.
14 Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir.

Jacob then went in a different direction and not towards Seir.

Genesis 33:18 (KJV)
18 And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city.

This account of Jacob and Esau is the beginning of animosity between the children of Israel and the descendants of Esau. In the book of Obadiah (our week's reading from the prophets) that animosity is reviewed. However, God's response condemns the descendants of Esau.

Obadiah 1:10-13 (KJV)
10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.
11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.
12 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.
13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;

Today, this spirit of Esau continues! Much of the world, even parts of Christianity, are standing against Israel. But God has proclaimed the demise of those with the spirit of Esau.

Obadiah 1:17-18 (KJV)
17 But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.
18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.

Isaiah 63:1-4 (KJV)
1 Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save.
2 Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat?
3 I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
4 For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come.

Revelation 19:11-16 (KJV)
11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

How often has Israel sent messengers of peace, only to be met by violence? For those nations, government leaders, and church denominations and leaders that promote the spirit of Esau, these passages are warnings! To be on God's side is to be on Israel's side!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The House of God

Last week's Torah portion comes from Genesis 28:10 - 32:2.

When I was a young girl my dad occasionally drove my family by a beautiful, large church where "The house of God and the gate to Heaven," was engraved above the front doors. I thought it was impressive! I loved the sound of the words and how important they made the church seem. Later, I found that same phrase in Genesis.

Genesis 28:17 (KJV)
17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.

It was spoken by Jacob as he awoke from his dream of the ladder that led up to Heaven upon which angels ascended and descended. However, he was not in front of any building whatsoever. He continued with this:

Genesis 28:18-19, 22 (KJV)
18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.
19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.

Jacob called the place Bethel, which means "the house of God." He even set up a pillar of stones and stated that the place would be "God's house." He also declared that he would give a tithe (tenth) unto God.

Where was this place?
Based on Jacob's descriptive words, the location cannot be any other place than Jerusalem. Yet the only identifiable Bethel in the Bible is a town north of Jerusalem and west of Ai. However, the ancient Jewish sages struggled with this problem also. In the Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim 88a states "Jacob called Jerusalem Bethel."  

Not only does Jacob's words imply Jerusalem, but the Scriptures themselves indicate that the "House of God" is indeed the Temple which was built in Jerusalem.

1 Kings 6:37 (KJV) 
37 In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the LORD laid, in the month Zif:

Psalm 23:6 (KJV)
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

Isaiah 2:2 (KJV)
2 And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.

So is Jacob's Bethel Jerusalem? This is a question that only God Himself can probably answer. However, it should make us sit up and take notice about our use of the phrase "house of God and gate to Heaven." Considering the importance and uniqueness given to the true "House of God," no church building can make this claim. No church can call itself "the gate to Heaven." This should also remind us of the importance of Jerusalem. This is the place from which Yeshua will one day rule! There will never be another city like it!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The Torah Before Moses?

This week's Torah portion comes from Genesis 25:19-28:9.

Genesis 26:2-5 (KJV)
2 And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father;
4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

God appeared to Isaac and told him to live in Canaan and not to go down into Egypt. God would be with him and bless him. God affirmed that the promises made to his father Abraham would be carried out also to Isaac and to his descendants. This was great news not only for Isaac and the Jewish people, but for all the nations of the earth as well, because through Isaac's seed (Messiah Yeshua) the whole world would be able to partake in the relationship between God and His people.

Verse 5 gives the reason for why Isaac would be so blessed. Abraham obeyed God's voice, kept His charge, His commandments, His statutes, and His laws!

But what charge, what commandments, what statutes, and what laws did Abraham obey? Traditional Christianity has long claimed that the Torah was only given to Moses and was somehow fulfilled (meaning set aside) by Yeshua's death and resurrection. However, if Christianity has been wrong about when the Torah was given, couldn't it be wrong about believers being able to set aside the "Mosaic Law?"

The Hebrew words used in verse 5 are: mishmeroti meaning "my charge or safeguards," mitzvotai meaning "my commandments," chukotai meaning "my inscribed statutes," and torotai, meaning "my instructions." This last word translated into English often becomes Law or Torah. Abraham obeyed the Torah! Although it is true that the Torah in its full sense was given to Moses at Mount Sinai, God's people were aware of many of God's desires prior to Moses. The seventh day Sabbath was revealed in Genesis 2. The rules of clean and unclean food were known by Genesis 8. And circumcision began in Genesis 21. So whatever parts of the Torah that Abraham knew about, he obeyed. And God was pleased by his obedience. If God was please by a Saturday Sabbath, the eating of clean foods, and circumcision, why would that change? How could Yeshua's death and resurrection change God's laws, especially those of a God that never changes?

Malachi 3:6a (KJV)
6 For I am the LORD, I change not;

May God one day see our obedience in the same way that He saw Abraham's!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Women of Virtue

This week's Torah portion comes from Genesis 23:1 to 25:18, titled Chayei Sara or "The Life of Sarah."

Sarah, Abraham's wife, may seem to us to be a very flawed woman. She was impatient, full of doubt, less than kind, and acted as if she were blameless. Yet the book of Hebrews calls her a woman of faith.

Hebrews 11:11 (KJV)
11 Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

Just as we found about "righteous" Lot, Sarah was not a perfect example of faith. Yet God deemed her faithful and was used as an example of a faithful woman. This should give believing women hope and encouragement that even though we are not perfect, God can use us and view us as faithful women!

Proverbs 31:10-31 is a description of the Eshet Chayil, the woman of virtue. This passage is sung or read by the husband over his wife during the Erev Shabbat, the candle lighting service at the beginning of the Sabbath. It is a call for believing women to become virtuous by their actions. Let us strive to follow after Sarah's example of faith and the ideal captured in Proverbs 31!

Proverbs 31:10-31 (KJV)
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Glimpse of Messiah

This week's Torah portion comes from Genesis 18:1-22:24.

As I was reading about Abraham's command to sacrifice his son Isaac, I reflected on how the Bible truly is all about Messiah. Two thousand years before Yeshua even came to the earth, God was preparing his people to understand what Messiah was all about. Abraham's sacrifice shows us a vivid picture of the sacrifice God would make in order to save His people from their sins.

Genesis 22:2 (KJV)
2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.

Isaac was Abraham's son of promise, born late in his parents' life, and loved deeply by his mother and father. Yet, he was to be sacrificed as an elevation offering upon one of the mountains in the land of Moriah. Can you imagine the heartache this command of God must have caused Abraham? He had waited so long to have this son, how could he carry out this command?

Yet, Abraham prepared to do so.

Genesis 22:9, 10 (KJV)
9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.

At this point the angel of the Lord stepped in and stopped Abraham from carrying out the command.

Genesis 22:12 (KJV)
12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.

Although this was a test about Abraham's faith and obedience to God, we see little hints about its further meaning. Look at the following similarities between Isaac's ordeal and Yeshua's.

Isaac was Abraham's son; Yeshua was God's Son. Isaac was taken to Mount Moriah to be killed as a sacrifice; Yeshua was killed on Mount Moriah.

Next, notice the interesting statement made by Abraham:

Genesis 22:5 (KJV)
5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

The comment Abraham made to his young men about his and Isaac's returning to the men was either a lie, or Abraham truly believed that Isaac would be coming back with him to the men. The only way that this could have been a true statement was if Abraham believed that Isaac would be raised from the dead. This would also seem to indicate that Abraham had such faith in the promises that God had given him about having descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky that he was willing to do whatever God commanded him even if the command seemed counterintuitive.

The similarity here between Isaac and Yeshua is unmistakable. Although Isaac was actually never killed, Abraham thought that Isaac would be dead. Hence it was as if Isaac had been raised from the dead. Yeshua, of course, was raised.

Notice this as well:

Genesis 22:8 (KJV)
8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

Abraham indicated to Isaac that God would provide the lamb for the sacrifice. This must have been a painful statement for Abraham to make knowing that Isaac would be the "lamb." In the same way, God provided Yeshua as the lamb of sacrifice for mankind's sins. This must have been difficult for Him, as well.

The one noticeable difference between the accounts is that Abraham was finally commanded not to kill Isaac.

Genesis 22:13 (KJV)
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.

For Yeshua, there was no possible substitute. He was the only one qualified to die in the place of sinful mankind. He was the only one who fully and perfectly satisfied the righteous Law of God.

Lastly, we read in Hebrews that Isaac was to be viewed as a "type" of Messiah, a precursor to help God's people understand what was to come.

Hebrews 11:17-19 (KJV)
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Despite what it must have cost God emotionally, He actually gave up His Son so that His people could be saved. For those of us who are saved, this gift is beyond comprehension. Our only response can be deep gratitude!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Living on the Edge of Sodom

In our Torah portion for this week (Genesis 12:1-17:27) we are introduced to Lot, Abraham's nephew, who travels with Abraham and Sarah to Canaan. He is called "righteous" Lot in Second Peter.

2 Peter 2:7 (NIV)
7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men

Yet, as we come to our next Torah portion we will find Lot LIVING in Sodom! How did this righteous man, distressed by the filthy lives of those in Sodom, come to dwell among such lawless men?

In chapter 13 of Genesis, we find that Abraham and Lot had prospered greatly to the point that the two could not live closely together any more because of their large flocks, herds, and tents (13:6). Abraham graciously offered Lot the first choice of land.

Genesis 13:9 (KJV)
9 Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.

Lot looked around him and saw that the plain of Jordan was well watered, similar to the garden of Eden and the land of Egypt (13:10). Lot chose to go east and to "pitch his tent toward Sodom" (13:12).

From what Lot could see, he chose what he thought would be a good land for his flocks, herds, and family. However, verse 13 confirms that the reputation of Sodom was already known to be wicked. Even so, Lot pitched his tent facing Sodom.

Genesis 13:13 (KJV)
13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

The goodness of the land tempted Lot into ignoring the wickedness that encroached. This was a serious mistake on Lot's part. Next we read that Lot and many others in and near Sodom get kidnapped by kings from lands beyond Sodom. Abraham and the trained men of his household track them down and rescue the kidnapped people. Perhaps a sensible person, at this point, would have steered clear of Sodom, but not Lot. In chapter 19 God begins his destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Genesis 19:1,2 (KJV)
1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;
2 And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.

Not only is Lot not in his tent facing Sodom, but he is sitting in the very gate of that city and lives in Sodom, too!

Eventually, God rescues Lot and his family out of the city before it is destroyed, but at what cost?

James 1:15 (KJV)
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

The account of Lot demonstrates the insidiousness of sin. We think we can flirt with sin and still stay out of trouble. But this is not what happens! Flirting with sin will only lead into more sin. It is inevitable! And once we take that first step, backing out is very difficult. We must recognize sin immediately and stay as far away as possible. No matter what sin entices us, we must learn to flee!

However, we are not alone in our struggle. The Holy Spirit, who indwells believers, can help us to be alert to sin and to its power. He can strengthen us and help us in our battle against sin. He can help us stay away from living on the edge of Sodom and more!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Righteous Noah

This week's Torah portion covers Genesis 6:9 to Genesis 11:32.

Immediately we read:

Genesis 6:9 (KJV)
9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.

What does it mean to be just or righteous? We could look to the dictionary at this point, but if we read a little further in Genesis we can ascertain why Noah was considered righteous.

Genesis 6:22 (KJV)
22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.

Noah was obedient to all that God had commanded him. This is what made him righteous. But what had God commanded him to do? The answer is certainly that he built the ark that saved eight people from the killing flood that was to come. Despite the fact that there had never been any rain, or that there was no nearby body of water large enough to float the ark, Noah obeyed. However, this was not all that Noah apparently accomplished according to God's will.

In Genesis 7:14,15 we read about how the animals came to the ark.

Genesis 7:14-15 (KJV)
14 They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.
15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.

Even small children know the account of Noah and his ark and how the animals came two by two. Not all know that some animals came by sevens.

Genesis 7:2 (KJV)
2 Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.

The animals that came by sevens (most likely seven pairs) were the "clean" animals. Why were there more of some animals than others?

Genesis 8:20 (KJV)
20 And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

After the flood the ark came to rest on Mount Ararat. The first thing that Noah did was to build an altar to God in thanksgiving and praise for his and his family's safety. Part of the reason for the extra clean animals was for making burnt (or elevation) offerings. The other reason was for a food supply. But what are "clean" animals?

The Bible doesn't give us this answer until Leviticus 11 where it describes which animals are clean and which aren't. This has caused many to have the idea that the Law of God was not known, nor required until Moses. But the fact that Noah offered and later only ate clean animals proves otherwise. This is not to say that revelation wasn't progressively given. It is difficult to fully comprehend how much of the Law Noah actually knew. But his knowledge of which animals were clean and unclean is clear.

This also demonstrates that the requirements of the Law were not restricted to the Mosaic Covenant. Perhaps other theological notions are just as erroneous. It behooves us to be very careful in constructing theologies.

Lastly, does Genesis 6:9 really mean that Noah was "perfect?" From Genesis 9 we read about the incident of Noah's drunkenness. He obviously was not perfect in the way that we normally view perfection. But just as Noah was righteous, he was perfect. The description conveys Noah's leanings. His striving to do all that God required made him a righteous and perfect man. This does not take away from the imputed righteousness that the believer receives at the new birth in Yeshua, but it does point to our obligation to follow God's commands to the best of our ability. This makes us righteous, too.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Link Between Creation and Romans.

As we roll back the scroll and begin our annual reading of the Torah, we begin with Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 6:8. In this post I want to focus on chapter 1 of Genesis. It is in this chapter, of course, where we read about the days of Creation. As Christians we all believe that the overall point of the chapter is to specify that God is the Creator, the One Who spoke all things into existence. However, from this point forward Christians are greatly divided in how chapter 1 is to be read. There are those who take the six days of Creation literally and there are those who believe that chapter 1 is to be read symbolically. Those in this second camp are willing to accept that God is indeed Creator, but that He used long periods of time in his Creation. In other words, they believe that the Hebrew word for "day," which is yom, doesn't have to mean a 24 hour period of time.

Let's examine what we have. Creation through the process of long periods of time seems to be consistent with what we normally hear regarding the fossil record. There are examples of trilobites, dinosaurs, and other living creatures, that in death, ended up by leaving an imprint of their body shapes. Consistent with various dating methods these creatures lived perhaps millions of years ago, long before mankind. Many Christians today stand on this view because this is supposedly science.

However, it is first important to remember that evolution is a theory and not scientific fact. In order for something to be science it must be observable. No one was around during the days of Creation to testify as to how Creation occurred. Therefore, neither a literal six day Creation or evolution (theistic or otherwise) can be considered science. Also, even though the majority of scientists lean towards evolutionary thinking, there are scientists who are in the literal six day camp. (See In Six Days: Why Fifty Scientists Choose to Believe in Creation edited by John F. Ashton, PhD. Master Books, Green Forest, AR. 2000)

But rather than getting into a discussion of the pros and cons of each position, there is one simple fact that Christians who believe in long periods of Creation must consider. When did death enter into Creation? According to Genesis 2:17, death entered into Creation when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Genesis 2:17 (KJV)
17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

This is corroborated in Romans 5:12 and 17.

Romans 5:12, 17 (KJV)
12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
17 For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)

In this passage of Romans Paul was making an analogy between Adam and Yeshua. He pointed out that just as sin and death entered the world by one man (Adam), grace and eternal life entered by one man (Yeshua). In order for this analogy to "work," death could not have been a part of life prior to Adam's sin. If it was, then Paul's analogy falls apart and Yeshua then is not reliably the only way to eternal life!

Evolution and long periods of Creation require death! The fossil record, as how it is normally interpreted, reveals countless numbers of creatures dying long before Adam. This is NOT what Scripture says! As Christians are we going to stand on a pseudo-science that contradicts Romans 5? Or are we going to believe that the God who supernaturally raised Yeshua from the grave was able to supernaturally speak forth a mature Creation? Is it that difficult to believe that the evolutionists have interpreted the fossil record incorrectly?

One last thing to consider is that my statement about there not being a witness to Creation was not totally accurate. There actually was a witness to Creation. That witness was God and the record that He left tells us about a literal six day Creation. Why would any believer want to believe a pseudo-science over the Creator of the Universe?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Let's Celebrate!

It's getting to be that time of year again. We will soon be in the midst of all the hype, decorations, store displays, and sales that surround the coming of Christmas. Although there are some who despise the commercial aspects of the season, most are truly excited to enter into the special peace and joy that Christmas represents. We love the traditions, the smells, the gifts, the sounds, and the time of family sharing that come with the holiday. God made us that way!

But God didn't give us Christmas to satisfy those cravings. Christmas developed around a date that was traditionally celebrated as the birth date of a number of pagan deities. The date of December 25th was specifically chosen in order to co-opt a pagan holiday and somehow turn it into the celebration of the Son of  God's birth. Unfortunately, no matter how you dress up and change the language of pagan idolatry, that day remains corrupted.

But God didn't leave us without days of celebration! In His Word He gave us many feast days to celebrate over the course of the year. All we need to do is turn to Leviticus 23. Here we find the days that we are commanded to observe.

Leviticus 23:1-2 (KJV)
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.

The following are listed: the seventh day (Saturday) Sabbath, Passover, the feast of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, the feast of Weeks (or Pentecost), the feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonements, and the feast of Tabernacles (booths).

Each one is unique and serves various purposes for celebration. But it is the feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot in Hebrew) that reminds us most of the joy and peace of Christmas.

Leviticus 23:34,40-43 (KJV)
34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.
40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.
41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:
43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

This week of celebration comes on the heel of the days of repentance, which is culminated by the Day of Atonements. We are confronted by our failures, our sin, and our wretchedness before God. But then we put up our sukkot (our tent-like booths with branches for roofs). We truly and joyfully celebrate that God forgives His people. We gather with family and friends. We eat and maybe even sleep in our sukkot, watching the stars overhead through the roof. We party and thank our dear God for His blessings and love.

And guess what? It is very likely that Yeshua was born on the first day of the feast of Tabernacles (which falls in September or October). Isn't this when we should celebrate His birth? Plus, when we look to God's future fulfillment of the fall feasts, we find that the feast of Trumpets represents Yeshua's return, the Day of Atonements represents the day of judgment, and the feast of Tabernacles represents the wedding feast of Yeshua and His bride (Israel).

Compare this with Christmas and we find it a poor substitute for the celebrations that God has commanded in His Word. God wants us to celebrate, but let's celebrate what He has provided for us!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Day of Atonements

Today, September 23, 2015, is the traditional day of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonements. Most Christians will bypass this day without a further thought, but Jews and those believers of Yeshua who follow the Lord's calendar, will pay close attention. It is the holiest day of the year. When the Temple was still standing it was the day in which atonement was made:

          For the high priesthood and the priests
          For the holy sanctuary
          For the tabernacle
          For the altar, and
          For the people

Today, without the Temple, we cannot keep the Day of Atonements. However, we are commanded to continually observe that day, partially to prepare for the day when the Temple again exists and we gather to keep the feast with our returned Messiah Yeshua. But we also observe the day as the foreshadowing of the atonement provided by the death and resurrection of Yeshua.

Leviticus 16:29-34 (KJV)
29 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:
30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
31 It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.
32 And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments:
33 And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.
34 And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.

Notice that atonement was made not only for people, but for objects that were incapable of sin (the sanctuary, the tabernacle, and the altar. This indicates that the atonements made on Yom Kippur were not really about the removal of sin, but were about covering the people and cleansing the Temple for the coming year in order for God to continue to dwell therein. These atonements worked!

Hebrews 9:13-14 (KJV)
13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9 is a comparison. Although the atonements of Yom Kippur worked in a temporal, outward sense, the atonement of Yeshua was eternal and internal. Yeshua's death and resurrection actually removed sin from believers!

From Leviticus 16 we learn that the command to observe the Day of Atonements is an everlasting statute (verse 34). It was to be observed by God's people and any strangers that sojourned among them (verse 29). If we claim to be a part of God's people, that command is pertinent to us!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Will it Be Today?

Matthew 24:27 (KJV) 
27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

Matthew 24:30-31 (KJV)
30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Matthew 24:36 (KJV)
36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

Matthew 24:42 (KJV)
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 (KJV) 
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Could this be the day in which Yeshua returns?

Devout believers have been patiently (or maybe not so patiently) waiting for His return since His ascension back into Heaven roughly 2000 years ago. What, exactly, are we expecting to see? Some of the sights and sounds that will accompany His return are:

          Hearing a shout from the archangel.
          Hearing a trumpet from God.
          Seeing Yeshua coming from the clouds.
          Seeing dead believers rising up to the clouds.
          Seeing alive believers rising up to the clouds.

Won't this be amazing!

The difficult part is that we do have to wait for this event. Matthew 24:42 says that we are to "watch." This indicates that we are to actively be on the lookout for Yeshua's return. Yet, no one knows the day or hour when this will happen as it says in Matthew 24:36 and 42. But do we have any clues?

Did you know that God's calendar presents us with some very strong evidence? The Bible points to Yeshua's birth being on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Succot). Yeshua was crucified on Passover. He was in the grave during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He rose from the dead on the Feast of First Fruits and the Holy Spirit was given on the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot). However, there is no event that corresponds to the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah or Rosh Hashanah) or the Feast of Atonement (Yom Kippur),

Doesn't it seem likely that these feasts will also be accompanied by events? And did you notice that the name of the next feast is the Feast of Trumpets? (Actually in Hebrew, it is called the Day of Blowing.) Oddly, enough, there is a Jewish idiom that describes that day as "The day that no man knows." This has to do with the fact that the feast day cannot really be known until the first sliver of the moon appears to indicate that the seventh month of the Biblical year has arrived. That first day of the seventh month is the Feast of Trumpets.

Leviticus 23:23-25 (KJV)
23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

If God is consistent something wonderful will happen on a Feast of Trumpets. Yeshua will return! Will it be this year? We don't know, but it behooves us to be watching!

(Many who follow the traditional Jewish calendar will begin celebrating Yom Teruah this evening, Sunday, September 13, 2015. Others wait for the moon's appearance in Jerusalem. That could place the beginning at sundown on September 14 or 15th.)

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Difference Between the Old and New Covenants

I don't believe that I would get any arguments from other believers if I said that Christians today are a part of the New Covenant. However, there are many misunderstandings about this covenant that have caused many wrong assumptions and wrong theologies. Let's look into this issue a little more closely.

Where in the Bible do we learn about the New Covenant? We can read the entire New Testament and not find the details of this New Covenant. In order to "find" it, we must look back to the Old Testament. We can find it in the book of Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NIV)
31 "The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.
33 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.
34 No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

With whom does God make this Covenant? Verse 31 tells us that the New Covenant is made between God and the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Clearly, the New Covenant is not made between God and any entity we would recognize today as the Church. Isn't this surprising, considering what we've been taught? Our theology has been wrong. If we are not a part of Israel there is no covenant.

Verse 32 tells us that the New Covenant will not be like the Old Covenant. No surprises there!

What is different about the New Covenant compared to the Old? Verse 33 explains that in the New Covenant, God's Law will be put in believers' minds and will be written on their hearts. This also is not surprising. However, what Law are we talking about? Since Jeremiah is a part of the Old Testament there can only be one conclusion. There was only one Law of God in existence. It is called the Torah. The Torah of God will be in believers' minds and hearts. Our theology has been wrong.

When does the New Covenant begin? Traditional Christianity says that the New Covenant began when the Holy Spirit descended on the believers at Pentecost. Although it is true that from that time on believers were indwelt by the Holy Spirit and they are able to refrain from sin, verse 34 doesn't sound like anything we are experiencing today. "All will know Yehovah!" Also, in verse 31, both houses of Israel are mentioned, but in verse 33 they are mentioned together as the house of Israel. The New Covenant will not be fully evident until a time future when Israel's two houses are again one, and all Israel will know God!

Traditional Christianity has a long history of distancing itself from Jewishness. Yet, the plain reading of the Bible indicates that God's people are called Israel and it is with her that the New Covenant is made. If you are a believer who has been born again and has the Spirit of God living within, you are a part of Israel. You are a part of the New Covenant. However, if the only difference between the Old and the New Covenant is the location of God's Torah, we believers in Yeshua must embrace that Torah and not make excuses as to why we don't have to obey it. Jeremiah's description makes no mention of a change in the requirements of following the Torah, so let's just do it!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Do Not Add or Subtract!

Deuteronomy 4:2 (KJV)
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.

Deuteronomy 12:32 (KJV)
32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

Proverbs 30:6 (KJV)
6 Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

Revelation 22:18-19 (KJV)
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.

The Bible contains several warnings against adding to or subtracting from the Words of God. Yet every time a pastor, teacher, theologian, or others teach that we no longer have to observe the Torah, they are adding to and subtracting from the Word of God.

What reasons could there be to negate the above verses? Some claim that God, Himself, has changed the Word. However, God must hold Himself to the same standard or He is a liar and we would never be able to count on His Word as truth. Some say that the verses are time related. In essence they teach that we aren't to change any wording in the Torah, but it doesn't mean that the rules after the Torah can't change. This makes sense to them since there were books of the Bible written after the Torah. But this logic destroys the context of the warnings. The words themselves, or the time when the warnings were written are not as important as what they simply are telling us. We are not to add to or subtract from the instructions of God. If your theology teaches that the New Testament ends the Old Testament's requirements your theology has misunderstood the New Testament and is adding to and subtracting from the Bible.

This means that whatever God has commanded cannot change. We find this truth stated in another way in the following verses.

Genesis 13:15 (KJV)
15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.

Israel has been granted their land forever.

Exodus 12:14 (KJV)
14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Passover is to be observed forever by the children of God.

Leviticus 23:14 (KJV)
14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

The feast of First Fruits is to be observed forever by the children of God.

And many more!!!

If we claim to be believers in Yeshua we cannot pick and choose from the Bible. If we do we are violating the warnings of Deuteronomy, Proverbs, and Revelation. We are adding to and subtracting from the very Word of God.    

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Different Gospel?

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Yeshua,

I have lately come across many websites and posts that declare that the Messianic and Hebrew Roots movement are heretical in nature and that they teach that we are saved by observing the Law. I am saddened by this message. Those that are condemning this movement are stating broad generalizations that simply are not true for the majority of believers in the Messianic or Hebrew Roots movement.

While there may be some that teach that the observance of the Law is necessary for salvation, most (and certainly this blog) teach that salvation is only by grace through faith in Messiah Yeshua. The only difference is that those in the Messianic and Hebrew Roots movement understand that observing the Law (as expressed in the Torah) is the evidence of salvation. We love God and therefore desire to obey His commandments.

The real shock to me, however, is that there are those who believe that observing the Torah is sinful! This is ludicrous! If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, how can God decide one day that something that was holy and commanded is now sinful? This would make God fickle and capricious. The thoughtful believer knows that God must be consistent or He would not be God. It is time to reexamine the traditions of belief that have come down to us and compare and contrast them to the whole Word of God, the Bible.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Fulfilled and Destroyed? or Fulfilled and Obeyed?

Matthew 5:17-20 (KJV)
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Like many Christians I read and reread this section of Scripture without really understanding what it was saying. The words themselves are relatively simple, yet because of translation issues and historical theology, the plain meaning of the text has been lost to the majority of Christians today.

Yeshua sat on a hill with his disciples around Him (Matthew 5:1). He began to teach starting with the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). Then He spoke about believers being salt to the Jews and light to the Gentiles (see Next He told His listeners that they were not to think that He had come to destroy the Torah or the Prophets (the whole Word of God), but that He had come to fulfill them (verse 17). The religious leaders of Yeshua's day constantly accused Yeshua of violating the Torah of God, but if that were really the case and Yeshua had actually violated a single commandment of the Torah, Yeshua would not have been sinless and would not have been qualified to die on mankind's behalf. There would be no salvation nor eternal life for anyone!! What Yeshua objected to was the religious leaders' misinterpretation of the Torah and their elevating the Oral Law to the status of the Word of God. Yeshua was guilty only of violating the man made rules that the religious leaders had, that often conflicted with the Torah.

To strengthen His statement, Yeshua declared that the Torah would not pass away until heaven and earth passed away (verse 18). Since heaven and earth are obviously still present, the Torah cannot have been done away with. However, the last part of verse 18 seems to imply that the Torah would pass away when it was all fulfilled. The conclusion by many is that despite the continued presence of heaven and earth, Yeshua fulfilled the Torah and it has passed away. Logically, this conclusion doesn't make any sense, especially when verse 19 is read. According to traditional Christianity Yeshua fulfilled the Torah, so that believers now are free to worship on Sunday instead of Saturday, ham is permissible as food, and the holy days like Passover and Yom Kippur can be ignored. Yet, verse 19 says that anyone who breaks one of the least commandments or teaches men so will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. Obviously, the breaking of the Sabbath, food laws, and Holy Days comes with a stiff penalty.

The problem in this section that has led to much misunderstanding is the word fulfill, which is used to translate two different Greek words. In the first occurrence in verse 17, the Greek word behind fulfill is pleroo. This word means "to fill to the full" or "to complete." Therefore, Yeshua completed (or did) (or obeyed) the Torah and showed mankind how to do likewise. The second Greek word that is translated as fulfill in verse 18 is the word ginomai, which means "to occur" or "to happen." In other words the Torah would not pass away until everything (meaning the whole of history stated in Scripture - Genesis to Revelation) had happened.

I have heard commentators try to get around the sensible meaning of this text by saying that verses 17 and 18 refer to the ritual laws, that Yeshua fulfilled them and that they are done away with. Then verses 19 and 20 refer to the moral law, that these should not be violated. However, in verse 19 the word "therefore" connects verse 19 to verse 18 and there is no hint that the subject of the sentence had changed. Also, there is no place in Scripture where God's commands are divided into ritual versus moral law. This is a man made construct that isn't Biblically based.

The religious leaders of Yeshua's day were accusing Yeshua of destroying the Torah. Let's not do the same thing today by saying that the Torah has been fulfilled and has passed away.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Parable of the Two Sons

Matthew 21:28-32 (KJV)
28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.
29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.
30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.
31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.
32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.

This parable doesn't need much explanation for us to comprehend Yeshua's meaning. The son that actually worked in his father's vineyard was the son that did his father's will. In the same way, it was the publicans and harlots who turned from their sins in repentance who did God the Father's will, rather than the religious leaders of the day who claimed to be faithful, yet failed to carry out John the Baptist's message of repentance.

Although the message is simple, we sometimes lose the gist because of the words. Repentance and belief are two of those words that can cause us to have a false understanding. Too often, due to our heritage of Greek-like thinking, repentance has come to mean a change in thought. Likewise, believing is viewed as something that occurs in our minds, but doesn't necessarily have any action associated with it. However, repentance and belief, in a Biblical (Jewish) sense are always action dependent. Basically, there is no repentance unless there is a change away from sinful behavior. There is also no belief unless it is accompanied by actions that are consistent with belief.

When we read Matthew 21:28-32 it is obvious that God's will is done when we respond obediently. This is our duty as believers. Otherwise, we are not believers. This same idea is expressed in the book of James.

James 2:20 (KJV)
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

If the church rightly viewed repentance and belief as action words, would there be a difference in our influence and success in bringing the message of Yeshua to a hurting and dying world?  

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Salt and Light

Matthew 5:13-16 (KJV)
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

In reading Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, the topics discussed seem to be somewhat random. Right after the Beatitudes there is a paragraph on how believers are to be salt and light to the world. Then after that the topic switches to Yeshua's discussion of His fulfillment of the Torah. These seemingly unrelated ideas are then difficult to study in any kind of cohesive manner.

However, in further review, I found that Matthew's choice of topics did in fact demonstrate a systematized arrangement. I also found that there was more to salt and light than what is normally taught.

The Beatitudes convey attitudes like meekness, righteousness, mercy, purity, and peacefulness, that should be cultivated in our walk with the Lord. But more importantly, they speak about how this fallen world's less than desirable conditions will be righted in the Millennial Kingdom. The poor in spirit will receive the Kingdom of Heaven, the mourners will be comforted, and those that hunger after righteousness will be filled.

While believers wait for the coming Kingdom of God and Yeshua's righteous rule, we are to be salt and light. Salt is a preservative. It heals and cleans. In like manner believers are to read the Word of God, grow in the Word, pray, spread the good news of the Gospel of Yeshua, and stand for Biblical principles. We are to be light by shining forth our good works, to reach the lost, and to show the path to salvation.

But why did Yeshua use two examples? Is there a difference between being salt and being light? I found a clue in Isaiah 49.

Isaiah 49:6 (KJV)
6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.

Isaiah spoke about raising up the tribes of Jacob and restoring the preserved of Israel. Paul, likewise, in Romans 11 mentioned the remnant of Israel and her future salvation.

Romans 11:5 (KJV)
5 Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

Romans 11:26 (KJV)
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

Paul even spoke about the kernel of truth and understanding that the Jews have, which the Gentiles do not.

Romans 9:4 (KJV)
4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;

The Jews need preservation. Believers are to be salt to the Jews.

On the other hand, Gentiles don't have the foundation that the Jews have. They are the ones that need the light of which Isaiah was referring. Believers are to be light to the Gentiles.

In truth, Matthew 5:13-16 is an introduction to the believers' dual purpose of being salt and light.. This then serves as an introduction to the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, how believers are to fulfill that dual purpose. There was method to Matthew's apparent random topics after all!