Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘messianic’

If the leading teachers in the Hebrew Roots Movement received the same heart-breaking emails I get from some readers here, I wonder what they would say?  Another came through a few days ago, nearly word for word what many before have shared with me, and pleaded for help to know what to do.  Nearly all of them describe a drastic change in personality of the person who has become Torah observant.

My spouse’s beliefs have caused a major problem with our family, children,…. our marriage. The holidays are torture. The Sabbath Day usually leads to a battlefield. And our children are stuck in the middle. My spouse’s personality has changed from a loving, happy, and fun person to one of self-righteousness, strictness, and generally being very serious/dark.

I really wish I could make it all better, heal the hurts, and save the children from broken relationships and skewed ideas of their Father in heaven.  Can you imagine the husband or wife of a new convert writing a letter like this to the Apostle Paul?  Was this the wake he left behind him on his missionary journeys?  Even Paul, who could write very direct confrontational words, still maintained that love was the highest and best expression of God in this world.  Romans 12, I Corinthians 13, Galatians 5, to name just a few chapters, highlight his exhortations to walk in love.  The religion that gradually developed around the early Christian teachings also became enamored with law-based thinking, and the corresponding fruit came with it.  I do not believe the church has worked this out of its system overall.  Protestants brought the same dictatorial mindset to the New World and through many heinous methods, imposed their “salvation” upon the First Nations already living here.  To this day the gospel is often shared with the Law of God as the basis, rather than the Love of God.  We fight for the 10 Commandments to be kept on government buildings because we are a “Christian” nation.  Yet where do we see the teaching of Jesus etched in stone anywhere?  Why is Moses still getting top billing in a Christian nation?

So I’m not going to pick on just those pesky “law-keepers” out there.  The shortfall in our concept of what Jesus did, and is for us – affects far more people in mainstream Christianity than the Hebrew Roots Movement will ever touch.

Jesus came to set us free in love, acceptance, restoration, and life in the Spirit, at peace with our Creator and each other.  And in our human need to control and protect, we built more walls to train more Pharisees like the ones who schemed until they had Him hanging on a cross.  Any time you have a group of people who believe they are the only ones who are right, you will have a religious zealot problem on your hands.

Hebrew Roots followers exemplify this unfortunate divergence from the love of Christ quite frequently, but this situation can create unexpected traps for those suffering from their attempts at coercion.  The biggest mistake we can make in confronting them is to become like them.  I will say this presents the biggest challenge for anyone who lands in a spiritual conflict of any kind.  I cannot give you any sure fire scripture or argument to prove someone wrong.  It’s really not hard to be right.  We all think we are right.  Jesus wants us to pick up our cross and be love instead.

Have a difficult person in your life, of any religious persuasion?  Here are some ideas.

1.  Respect their convictions.  Just as you want yours to be respected.  Even if you don’t get the same in return, treat them as you would want then to treat you.  Don’t ridicule or belittle their ideas or practices.  Make room for them to follow their conscience by deferring to their wishes for holidays or dietary habits.  This does not mean YOU have to comply or go along with them if it is against your own convictions.  But if you support and respect even while you disagree, this will send a message in itself.  Don’t use your tolerance as a weapon in an argument (as in “you owe me”).  Simply do it because it’s the loving thing to do.

2.  Find ways to show love and support to the person in question that have nothing to do with religion.  Outside the context of your differences, let them know they are loved.

3.  Do not retaliate when you are condemned or attacked.  Let them know you hear and understand, and respectfully express that their opinion does not define your worth or identity.

4.  Seek the Spirit for your own strength daily to not fall into doubt about your own walk with God and His love and approval for you.  You are in a war zone of spiritual influences that will seek to play on your doubt, magnify your short-comings, and leave you feeling like you are never enough.  Getting pulled into verbal combat will only leaving you more vulnerable and feeling less worthy.

5.  If you do break down and become angry and hostile (some days…the humanity bleeds through), apologize quickly and take responsibility for your own emotions.  Do not blame the difficult person for “making you angry”.

6.  Do NOT tolerate any form of abuse to you or your children.  You can remain firm and loving, but do not stay in an unsafe situation no matter how persuasive, or how much authority someone claims to have over your life.

7.  Talk about Jesus, His words, His actions, whenever appropriate in conversations about spiritual things.  He is your Foundation, your Rock, your Reason for everything.  Focus on the heart issues, more than the legal ones.

8.  PRAY for the person you love.  (This should actually be at #1).  In praying for them, everything else on this list will become easier.  Give them to God.  You can’t fix them.  You can only love them.

My heart breaks especially for the children caught in the middle.  Your endeavor to show love in the face of all that is dark and harsh, will be a testimony to them far greater than any theological teaching you can give.   Right now they may not understand why mom and dad don’t agree, but they will not forget the testimony of love and patient endurance

All of this is so easy for me to type.  I have not often had the opportunity to walk this hard road.  But Jesus did, and it is His example, and that of many persecuted believers worldwide, that inspire me to take a higher path, in His strength.  I am aware enough of my weakness and limitations to know none of this would be my own first response.  But there is such a great power in peaceful, loving resistance.  I say resistance because we will not give up our faith for any Law.  But let us not give up our love in the name of our faith, as many have done.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 
Live in harmony with one another.
Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 
Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 
To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:14 – 21

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

By definition…
Judaize or Judaise
vb
1. to conform or bring into conformity with Judaism
2. ( tr ) to convert to Judaism
3. ( tr ) to imbue with Jewish principles

They have pure devotion to God as their banner and restoration of the Church back to Israel as their mission so the Jewish people may be saved.  Your pagan Jesus is getting in the way of Israel seeing the truth.  By keeping the law of Moses you will no longer offend them with your foreign Jesus and they will accept Him and you both.   Although it may have remained dormant for centuries, this “Moses is for everyone” mindset is nothing new, finding its birth in the unexpected event of a Gentile coming to Christ and being filled with the Holy Spirit.

In the early church, “those of the circumcision” seemed to cause the most controversy.  Today the majority of people placing the yoke of the Law on believers are in fact Gentiles.  You may find it hard to believe after the great effort the Apostle Paul put forth trying to divert people away from this distraction, that 2000 years later, people are now falling for the same divisive teachings.  If the Galatians were bewitched, we are beyond blind.  So many are willingly choosing a theology that requires Paul’s letter to the Galatians be ignored, denied, or twisted beyond recognition – along with many other New Testament passages addressing these issues long ago.

The quest for the salvation of the Jewish people (a most worthy cause) works as an effective lure to many Christians, especially as some segments of the church become increasingly interested in prophecy and the restoration of Israel.  But the Hebrew Roots/Messianic Movement pulls in Christians from all branches of the church, for many reasons.   Many no longer refer to themselves as Christians at all.  They have traveled down a path towards a Yeshua/Yahshua/Yehoshua/Yahoshua repackaged by modern Judaism rather than the Jesus of the New Testament Scriptures.  Although they can’t quite agree on a name for their new Messiah, they view their Christian roots as entirely pagan and their Hebrew Roots as not only restored truth, but a spiritual identity that causes them to feign a Jewish ethnic identity as well in many cases.  Some even ditch their Gentile names for Hebrew ones.

When I relate the story of our journey out of this movement, many Christians give me a look of disbelief that anyone could fall for something so illogical.  I am happy to reveal our own foolishness and am always relieved when others see it for what it is.  But as crazy and ridiculous as it may seem to some onlookers, the fact remains that this quietly encroaching disease seems to be taking down people left and right.  Every time I find myself wanting to put this to rest and move on to things I would rather talk about, I am presented with a new example of someone who has given their mind over to this movement.  Its teachers have painted a big, red, bull’s-eye target on your church, because you are the only ones with enough knowledge to understand and desire their complicated messages.  The lost person on the street is of no interest to them.

Spiritual Snipe Hunting
After a few years in this persuasion, focusing on the first five books of the Bible, we deeply sensed the group we led needed to study the New Testament scriptures as well.  We referred to the New Testament (called many things, but never New) when it reinforced the Torah study we were in, but we never approached the New Testament with the same systematic, reverent study as we did the Law.  We followed the same study schedule as the Jewish synagogues.

After one failed attempt to add a mid-week study night, we subscribed to a New Testament study course offered from a “Hebraic” perspective.  Although expensive, we felt it might encourage participation and moved the study to an early Sabbath session, before our main Torah study.  The Torah study took priority and could not be rescheduled or set aside.

I believed at last, after nearly six years, I would finally get to see this Jewish Yeshua that I’d been seeking for all along – to understand and see Him in His fullness.  For me, this had been the original attraction.  I’d been led to believe my Christian Jesus was incomplete and there was some deep wisdom and fabric of life underlying those gospel passages I just could not see.  If someone could bring that out for me, I was convinced I would know Him like never before.

The Hunting Outfitters
We initially chose this particular publisher because they avoided the most divisive subjects in the movement, presenting a sleek, scholarly approach.  Even though we are not customers now, we still periodically receive catalogs and fundraising correspondence from them.  Looking at their offerings with new eyes, I have been wanting to share what I believe are some of the most revealing focus statements.  (The letter discussed here can be read below in its entirety.)  Evaluate the following quotes with the overall pattern and focus of the New Testament writings.

Their Mission Statement:

Proclaiming the Torah and it’s way of life, fully centered on Messiah, to today’s People of God.

Proclaiming what? (Torah)  To Whom? (The people of God).  This is their reason for existence.  Does this align with any ministry found in the New Testament?  Searching the word “proclaim” in the ESV New Testament (often translated “preach” in the KJV) produced 27 results.  They overwhelmingly refer to the gospel of the risen Christ, and related subjects. Not a single example supports the direction of this mission statement above.  No one can proclaim Torah as their first priority and still be “fully centered on Messiah”!  If you are fully centered on Him, you will proclaim Him.

Their Plea:
The first paragraph states this mission is financially suffering and needs your help, even though one of their complete volume studies cost nearly $300 (but you can pay as you go, so it’s fair).

…..over 2 billion people in the world identify themselves as Christians…Almost the entire 2 billion of them are unaware of the Jewish roots of their faith and the amazing, transforming teachings of the Torah.  Who is willing to take this message to them?”

Where does the Word of God ever teach that the Law is the source of transformation for those who are in Christ?  In contrast, we are told:

For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:3,4

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

What could the Law not do?  Where does our transformation come from?  Who are they replacing with the Torah in these statements?

Some Christians use the Law of Moses as their tool to convict sinners and bring them to Christ, but this ministry is dedicating itself to teaching the entire Jewish system of Law to those who ALREADY trust Christ.  Paul asked the Galatians, “Having begun in the Spirit, will you be perfected by the flesh?” (Gal. 3:3)  Good question.

Their Claim:
The letter becomes increasingly bold as it explains why this is so vitally important, a point which is even underlined for emphasis,

Christian ignorance of Torah is the single-biggest obstacle to Jewish evangelism and the restoration of the body.

The Hebrew Roots solution to antisemitism is to teach Christians how to observe Torah.  Conversely, rejection of Torah, or suggesting Jesus did something new, is often viewed as antisemitic.  They go beyond calling this a reformation but a “restoration” … being entrusted with “the greatest revelation of biblical truth since the apostolic era.”  That is one of the most bold, arrogant claims I have seen. By “restoration of the body”, they mean the inclusion of followers of Yeshua into Israel, which requires their Torah observance.  In their present state, Christians are still defiled and “outside the camp” and the division in the body is our fault for offending our Jewish brothers with bacon and Sunday church attendance.

Jesus was indeed born of the tribe of Judah, keeping the Law, yet the Jewish people as a whole rejected Him then.  Why do these modern teachers think this will work now for the church?  The gospel of John reveals the Jewish leaders sought to kill Jesus because, “being a man, he claimed to be God.”  This is still a huge theological obstacle, and many Messianics have obliged by taking this out of the way as well, conceding that Jesus was just a man.

Impressing or Offending?
I asked a Jewish friend and follower of Christ, living in Israel, to share his perspective on effective Jewish evangelism.  Below is a short interview.  I so much appreciate his willingness to share his thoughts, and grateful to God for bringing our paths together.

8thday4life:  How likely is it that a large sector of Gentile “Christians” pretending to be Jewish (observing and adapting Jewish customs to their own liking) would be a catalyst to help the Jewish people accept their Messiah?

Jeremy:  From my observations most attempts by non-Jews to replicate the rituals of Judaism are clumsy. Therefore the effect is to basically defile those rituals. For example, I knew a (Gentile) pastor who draped a tallit over the podium in an attempt to “make Jews feel at home”. Most Jews are horrified to see their ritual objects used in a way for which they were not intended. It would be like taking the wine and wafer of the Catholic Mass and using it for snacks after the Service. (I have to use a Catholic Mass as an example because I can’t think of sacred objects in most Protestant ritual.)  In actual fact it is my observation that among those adapting Jewish customs Christians who leave Jesus far outnumber Jews who turn to Him. (emphasis mine)

8thday4life:  What do you believe is the single biggest obstacle to the Jewish people recognizing Jesus as their Messiah?

Jeremy:  The Veil. This is a prayer thing. I believe that Christians need to pray and God will speak. God speaking is absolutely the best witness. When Christians humble themselves (in imitation of Christ) rather than imitate a work of man, I believe that this speaks. Love speaks. Love speaks to you, doesn’t it (she?)?

One day during the time when people were witnessing to me I came down with a sore throat. My friends could have laid hands on me and prayed for me and God would have healed me (they prayed their roaches away, so I knew He heard their prayers). But they didn’t do that. They made me hot lemonade. Their love healed my throat.

8thday4life:  What would be the best way for the Church to reach out to them in your opinion?  (Realizing – the history of persecution – the Church has done the Messiah no favors with His people.)

Jeremy:  See above. Make more hot lemonade! But in a natural way, i.e. as God leads. Not in a forced way. Richard Wurmbrand was led to the Lord by a man who prayed all his life that God would let him lead a Jew to Jesus. God put it together. Like I said, I think it’s a Prayer thing. A phony can be spotted a mile off!

(You can read more of his testimony and perspective on the Messianic Movement HERE)

It appears that love, compassion, prayer, and being led by the Spirit may be more effective than parading around in a tallit, nailing a mezzuzah to our door, learning the Shema in Hebrew or abstaining from food on Yom Kippur while we argue about the solar and lunar calendars.  And Jeremy also confirms from his own testimony, and many others like him, the veil Paul spoke of is still the spiritual obstacle to Jewish people seeing their Messiah, which remains while they are reading the Law itself as described in 2 Corinthians 3.

But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 2 Corinthians 3:14-17

Lifting up Jesus (and acting like Him), rather than proclaiming our own law-keeping and affinity for Jewishness, seems to be the Scriptural approach.

"Back to the Wilderness" by Ramone Romero

No Snipe for Dinner Tonight
In the end, as we studied this esteemed publisher’s course, I still did not see this elusive Yeshua who was so superior to Jesus.  The course consisted of tedious, dry information which relied heavily on the writings of Jewish Rabbis who had never believed in their Messiah.  While these writings are valuable in many ways to understand Judaism and provide interesting historical insight, they are not helpful in understanding the Person they did not acknowledge.  These same sages have in some cases cursed both Christ and His followers.  Judaism was opposed to Jesus as its Messiah 2000 year ago, and last I checked, has not changed this firm position.  I am reminded of what the disciples were asked when they were looking for Jesus at the tomb.  “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

Even though we were studying the gospels, it seemed as if the life had been sucked off the pages and replaced with discussions about the Torah, once again.  Because, in this movement,  the law is a god made synonymous with the incarnated God, who is worth an obligatory mention only as He relates to the higher god of Torah.

I am so thankful that before we finished the gospels, I had delved into Matthew again on my own and seen Jesus like I had never seen Him before – standing alone, above the Law and the Prophets.  This revelation is second only in my life to receiving faith in Him as God and Savior many years earlier, but the grief of my repentance was close to the same, if not deeper, because this time the truth I saw was so simple, I could not find any plausible excuses for my ignorance and vain wanderings.

To its credit, this same study course had a lesson with a description of a rabbinic disciple in the time of Jesus, explaining how they would mimic their teacher in every aspect of their lives.  I realized, by definition, I was not a disciple of Jesus because I was not focusing my attention on His words and endeavoring to imitate Him, but Moses.  I was a disciple of Moses first.  In seeking Jesus, my veil was also lifted.

Don’t Be Led Astray

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.  2 Corinthians 11:3, 14

The closing boast of this letter alarmed me most, and prompted me to write this post.

We are in churches, connected with the Church, and bringing truth to the Church with no concern for denominational lines.  Hundreds of pastors from all different denominations read and study FFOZ materials because…. a shared faith in Messiah and Jewish roots is something we all have in common. (emphasis theirs)

This is not about simply engendering understanding between Jews and Christians, but about drawing Christians into Judaism and away from the simplicity of Jesus Christ.  If the common bond you have with someone is defined as Messiah AND something… anything…. presented as “essential and equal truth” you have been taken in by a man-made agenda.  The Jewish people need to be reconciled to their Redeemer and to see in Him the blood of their Passover Lamb they can no longer even sacrifice.  Christianity does not need to be reconciled to Judaism, which is the end goal of this endeavor.  Genuine love will reconcile people to each other who have at one time been enemies, and this unity also comes only in Christ. (See a pattern here?)

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.  For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.  For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, Ephesians 2:13-19

The wall of hostility in Paul’s day between Jews and Gentiles was the law.  Jews looked down on Gentiles as a sub-species and history shows Christianity later developed a deep hatred for Jews.  Both of these sad developments of human pride are taken away in Christ.  We don’t need to glorify the Law of Moses, but agree with Paul, a pharisee of pharisees, that it has been taken out of the way for both parties, lifting up the Cross where we can stand united, fellow citizens.  Praise God He has done this, is doing this, and will continue to do this, until His Sovereign will has been carried out in this world!

Read Full Post »

by Kenneth Bodine

Being raised in the Seventh-day Adventist church, I had always thought of the number 7 as being the most important digit in the Bible.  This thought is carried proudly within the church, for God created for 6 days, but on the 7th, He rested and sanctified the day.  The Sabbath was established and was a sign between God and Israel (Deut 5:2) and is called a “perpetual” or “everlasting” covenant.

A thorough study of this number will show that the number 7 represents a completed cycle.  It is from here that I saw my theology, and interpreted everything by this concept.  The Sabbath was the defining “mark” for true believers, and we believed all other scripture and thought must be interpreted through it – a litmus test of truth.

I have now come to realize that this approach gave me a spiritual near-sightedness, and it kept me from seeing some beautiful and amazing things that were right in front of my eyes all these years.

First of all, I don’t wish to discount the value of seven.  There is no doubt that the number seven has significance in scripture, and I have already identified 7 as a representation of completion.  However, I do want to offer a fresh perspective for the idea that other numbers hold substantial value as well.  Specifically, I want to focus on the significance of the number 8, and how I have come to see it as the number of New Beginnings.

To show that we already have some understanding of numbers being significant in scripture, and that there are indeed numbers other than seven which carry significance in scripture, consider what comes to mind when you think of the number 3:

  • Father, Son, Holy Spirit
  • Three feasts in the OT that called for attendance in Jerusalem
  • Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
  • Peter, James and John
  • Jesus raised on the third day
  • Peter’s vision given 3 times
  • The Spirit, the water, and the blood (I Jn 5:7)

This is a sampling of how we readily accept these numbers from a factual standpoint, but may not always see the significance.

So what do we know about the number 8 in scripture?  I have written condensed lists of the things found in scripture which correspond to the number eight, and a few thoughts about each.  I do not believe that this list is complete, but a good start for those who are interested in this idea.

1. Eight people were saved on Noah’s Ark (Gen 7:13)

Though I believe this was the literal number of people who boarded the ark, it is interesting that the new beginning for man was based on 8.

2. The sign of the promise given to Abraham occurred on the eighth day (Gen 17:12).    All males were required to take on the sign of the covenant by being circumcised.  The shedding of blood symbolized entering into the promise – that of being a king and priest.  Those entering the covenant given to Moses had to first take on this sign before being allowed to partake in the Sinaitic covenant.

3. First-born was to be given to the Lord on the eighth day (Ex 22:29-30)     These first-borns were allowed to stay with their mothers for seven days, but given to God on day 8.  Interestingly, Jesus was returned to God in the sense that His life on earth was completed – on the eighth day – at His resurrection.

4. Lepers who are pronounced clean are presented on the eighth day (Lev 14:10)  The symbols of his gift to be given when pronounced clean are apparent – it is a symbol of first-fruits, or of rebirth.

5. Feast of First-fruits (Wave Offering) is to be given the day after the Sabbath (Lev 23:11) The wave offering is a first-fruit, and it points to the resurrection of Jesus – and I believe also to the resurrection of the second coming.

Jesus is called the first-fruits from the dead, and James calls us the firstfruits from God – all symbols of being born again or raised from the dead.

6. Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) takes place on the day after 7 Sabbaths (50 days) (Lev 23:15-16) – hence the 8th week of Sabbaths.  Jews celebrate this as the day they received the Torah.  Christians see this as the day the Holy Spirit was given.  I see this as a sign of new beginnings – the Spirit superseding the Law of Moses – and the New Covenant established..

7. Year of Jubilee takes place in the 50th year – after 7 years of Sabbaths (Lev 25:8-12) – hence the 8th year of Sabbaths.  The Jubilee was a release from the life a person was living.  It was a return to what was originally theirs.  This was a “do-over” for Jews, and I see it as a symbol of restoration, of rebirth – everything being made like it was before it was lost.  Consider the parallel with what was to take place at Jubilee for Jews, then apply this to humanity.

8. Feast of Tabernacles was a seven day feast, with a sacred assembly on the eighth day – a closing assembly. (Lev 23:36)

9. David was the eighth son of Jesse, and it was he whom God chose as the heir of his promise (I Sam 16: 6-13)  The people had chosen Saul as their king, but God chose David – and it was through David that Israel received its freedom from the Philistines.  This signaled the rebirth of Israel.

10. Eight resurrections recorded (other than the Lord Himself and the ones that came from the graves at His crucifixion) in the Bible.  There are three OT resurrections with 3 corresponding NT Gospel resurrections performed by Christ.  There are 2 NT resurrections in Acts.  They are as follows:

A. The Widow’s Son

  • Zarephath (I Kings 17:17-25)
  • Nain (Luke 7:11-18)

B. Rich Man’s Child

  • Son of Shunemite (II Kings 4:32-37)
  • Daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:35-43)

C. Grown Men After Burial

  • Elisha’s tomb (II Kings 13:20-21)
  • Lazurus (John 11:1-44)

D. The Other Two Resurrections

  • Tabitha (Acts 9:36-42)
  • Eutycus ( Acts 20:9-12)

The first six resurrections I see as symbols of Jesus and His ministry.  The widow is to me a symbol of the church, who lost their first husband (God) and is now mourning the death of their son.  The Rich man’s son is an obvious reference to Jesus.  The last are believers and their promise of new birth.  Don’t you think you would see life in a different way if you were dead and were reborn?  The last two found in Acts seem to refer to the power of the Holy Spirit to produce life out of death – as each of those were people in service to the Lord.

11. There are 8 miracles which Elijah performed

  • Causing rain to stop (1 Kings 17:1)
  • Multiplying the widow’s meal (1 Kings 17:14-16)
  • Resurrecting the widow’s son (I Kings 17:21-23)
  • Calling fire down from heaven (1 Kings 18:37-38)
  • Calling rain down (1 Kings 18:41-45)
  • Calling fire down on 1st 50 soldiers (2 Kings 1:10)
  • Calling fire down on 2nd 50 soldiers (2 Kings 1:12)
  • Dividing the Jordan (2 Kings 2:8)

12.  There are 16 miracles which Elisha performed (a double-portion 2 Kings 2:9)

  • Dividing the Jordan (2Ki 2:14)
  • Healing of the waters (2Ki 2:21)
  • Calling of the bears (2Ki 2:24)
  • Filling the valley with water (2Ki 3:17-19)
  • The widow’s vessels of oil (2Ki 4:4-6)
  • Blessing of a son for Shunammite woman (2 Ki 4:15)
  • Resurrection of the Shunammite’s son (2Ki 4:34)
  • Cleansing of gourds (2Ki 4:41)
  • Feeding of the hundred (2Ki 4:43)
  • Healing of Naaman (2Ki 5:14)
  • Cursing Gehazi with leprosy (2Ki 5:27)
  • Floating of the axe head (2Ki 6:6)
  • Smiting/Restoring sight of the Syrian army (2Ki 6:18-20)
  • Deception of the Syrians with the sound of chariots (2Ki 7:6)

13.   Jesus spoke on the last and greatest day of the feast of Tabernacles (Jn 7:37-38)  He told all those who thirst to come to Him and He would give them streams of living water – a promise of the Holy Spirit – the born again rebirth spoken of in scripture.

14. Jesus was resurrected on the day after Passover Sabbath – the eighth day.  It is interesting to note that when you read about this resurrection in the original Greek, it does not call the day of Jesus’ resurrection Sunday, it actually calls it the “first of the Sabbaths”.  Literally, it reads, “At the end of the Sabbath, at the beginning of light of the first of Sabbath(s), Mary Magdalene and the other Mary stared at his tomb.” The death of Jesus brought about a new rest, and a new beginning.  Jesus tells us in Matt 11:28 to come unto Him and He will give us rest.  Is it possible that He was referring to this event?

I feel confident in saying that the number 8 is definitely a worthy number for humanity.  Though the number 7 has been important to me in the past, the new beginning that 8 offers is surely worthy my time.  I don’t see 8 having all the things that were attached to 7 transferred to it, but I do see it as 1 better than 7.  Why is it better?  Because it is more than just rest, it is rebirth!  I hope that you have been blessed by this study, and that it leads you to an ever-increasing understanding of your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Read Full Post »

I have already written quite a lengthy post on legalism.. but had more thoughts on it recently.

One day Jesus was teaching a house full of scribes and lawyers.  The account (Luke 5) says  they were from every village in Israel so I am going to take a little bit of speculative license here and assume there probably wasn’t room in the house for many regular folks.  They were conducting an investigation it seems.  Outside four men are carrying a friend on a stretcher who is completely paralyzed.  They want to bring him to Jesus, but they can’t get through the wall of lawyers.  The lawyers would have summed up this man as a hopeless sinner, judging from his physical condition.  Their evaluation would not be questioned, but they would have not offered to help, nor would they have been able to.  Indeed no one was even foolish enough to ask them to help.  The only way around this obstacle seemed to be to come down from the top, through the roof.  These four men took their friend directly to Jesus.  They knew without any doubt He could do the impossible.

When Jesus saw their faith He simply told him, “Your sins are forgiven.”  The Law was appalled.  It said… “How can you DO that?”, outraged at this breach in procedure.  Then Jesus proved out the authority to forgive by healing his body as well, and the man walked out on his own.  They were speechless.  The law can say nothing in condemnation of healing (unless of course done on the Sabbath day..:)).  It can only watch in amazement.  Grace does not just forgive, it heals and makes all things new.  A changed life proves out a changed heart.

To me, this miracle is a parable in a picture.  The paralyzed man represents our fallen condition – totally helpless and condemned.  His four friends have no names and I believe represent the the Holy Spirit as He inspired four written testimonies,which bring all of us directly to Jesus.  The lawyers represent the “ministry of sin and death” – (2 Cor 3) – the thing which tells the truth, but cannot help us.  And the act of forgiveness and mercy that Jesus shows the helpless man is God’s heart toward all who seek His Son for their righteousness … by faith.

I wonder how the healed man conducted his life from that point on, and how he treated others he met who were lying helpless in a bed.  Did he look on them with contempt like the Pharisee or bend down to let the love of God flow through him to heal others?  A parable Jesus told about a man who received forgiveness of an enormous debt he could not pay, then afterward demanded payment from someone who owed him a small mount, without mercy,  indicates to me we can fail to extend to others the Grace we have received.

Our new life in Christ is manifested not only in seeking to live an upright life to the glory of  God, but also by the love of Christ flowing through us to others.  If the “new life” simply succeeds in adhering to a moral code, it is honestly no different than the thing which failed to help in the first place, and according to I John, is not new life at all, but a farce.   But sadly Christianity (not just cults) often defines this new life only as “being good”  (refraining from doing immoral things), or adopting a pious lifestyle with lots of churchy activity, rather than being love.  Some people can fake good, but you can’t fake real love.

Paul gives us only two options for the motivating force in our lives; flesh or Spirit.  If we do not walk in the Spirit (which manifests in purity AND love – Gal. 5) then we are in the flesh and no matter how upright, moral, well-versed in scripture we are, respected of men, or applauded for our integrity – we are still in our own inadequate righteousness.  We will not forgive others their shortcomings while we boast of our own accomplishments.  We won’t talk about Jesus and how He changed our lives but about our church or denomination and why it’s the best of all.  Because we do not sense our need for mercy we don’t extend it to anyone else.   We harbor resentment and encourage others in theirs, especially if it sympathizes with the direction of  our own.  We can be thorough Bible teachers but only relay information.  We cannot give living spiritual food because we have none to give.  Our houses may be immaculate, the picture of hard work and godly self-discipline.  But we probably wouldn’t want any unseemly people hanging around to mess it up.  We are pragmatic in our relationships and don’t have time for people who can’t further our agenda or make us look good.  We can tell everyone about right and wrong, have an impeccably orthodox doctrine and a spotless Biblical worldview when it comes to politics and social issues.  But we are strangers to love.  This kind of legalism is simply an outward righteousness devoid of  mercy, forgiveness, and compassion.  I John says this falls short of what we as children of God will exhibit in our lives.  Jesus said above all things, to love one another as He loved us.  When he said our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees, this is a major  key difference.

We all have a potential legalist living in all of us.  Before we receive grace, we either rebel against God in total, or strive to reach Him on our own terms.  But even after we come to Christ we can still fall into this mindset so easily, because it is our natural tendency to focus on ourselves and become puffed up in what we see as our own success compared to others we know.

A person who has fallen into this trap will be a person that gives many others an opportunity to practice the love, patience, and forgiveness of Christ.  We cannot shun this brand of legalist and treat them as they treat others or we will become just like them.  We should take the opportunity to demonstrate to them what unconditional love looks like as we respond to them in a way they don’t understand.  They have seen a false standard of righteousness and thought themselves up to the task rather than seeing themselves as they are without abiding in the Vine of Jesus Christ and the  Spirit.  This is why Jesus came with new authoritative teaching.  I heard a sermon on the radio recently that had me cheering as we were driving down the road.  The teacher was pointing out that if you want to truly recognize your depravity,  study the Sermon on the Mount more than the Law.  What Jesus taught confronts the deepest inward motives of our heart, our secrets.  There is no wriggle room there for the Pharisee in us.  We have no choice but to cry “I fail” and go away in despair or to accept the grace that totally forgives and transforms us to be able to in any small measure, exemplify the life that Jesus describes.

Having begun in the Spirit, are we perfected by the Law (from any source, Moses or Church)?  – a rhetorical question asked by Paul, who knew both paths intimately. (Gal. 3:3)  Rather the answer is.. “If we live by the  Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Gal. 5:25)

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

For the law was given through Moses;

grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  John 1:16, 17

Read Full Post »

Wonderful article from JGIG!

The Law of Christ – Defined and Defended

In the last several months the Law of Christ has become clearer for me.  Not that I haven’t necessarily understood what is the Law of Christ, but expressing that understanding has been challenging, especially when in a discussion with those who believe that we, as believers in Christ, are commanded by God to keep Mosaic Covenant Law…  CONTINUE READING

Read Full Post »

I don’t have time to blog this morning, but here I am.  My devotional time today landed in Luke 1, (reading through the gospels again).  I never cease to be amazed at the things God reveals in His Word every time you go through it.  New treasures every day.

This morning I was reading the prophetic passage Zechariah spoke after he regained his speech, telling of the work that his son John would do, and also of the coming Messiah.  One passage caught my eye.  (apologies for not formatting – this is straight from e-sword.  Like I say.. short on time! )

Luk 1:68  “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people
Luk 1:69  and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David,
Luk 1:70  as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
Luk 1:71  that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us;
Luk 1:72  to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant,
Luk 1:73  the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
Luk 1:74  that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,
Luk 1:75  in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

The italicized part here jumped out at me because it’s not the part of the Abrahamic Covenant you hear referred to often.  The only part of the Covenant to Abraham I can remember (or find) that resembles this statement is the prophecy of Israel being delivered from Egypt.

Gen 15:13  Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.
Gen 15:14  But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

Reading the story of Moses and Pharaoh, God speaks through Moses repeatedly to “Let my people go that they may SERVE ME.”   No one needed an explanation of what that meant because even Pharaoh understands.   He tells Moses mid-way through the ordeal to “go ahead and sacrifice to your God here in the land of Egypt.”  Moses explains that the worship their God demands is an abomination to the Egyptians and they would be stoned.   They must go into the wilderness; man, woman, child, and all their livestock, which is the deliverance story that Passover recounts.

So why would Zechariah refer to this promise of deliverance if it had already been fulfilled with Moses?  Did he see, by revelation from the Holy Spirit (passage here says he was filled with the Spirit) that even this deliverance was not an end in itself, but a foreshadow of a greater one to come?

Zechariah was a priest, who knew the fear of the Lord.  He knew what would happen to him if he had gone in to minister in a wrong manner, as had happened to some before him who had disobeyed.  For him to say that we might serve God, without fear, in holiness and righteousness indicates that a far greater deliverance and holiness was coming than had previously been made available through the Levitical priesthood.

He goes on to speak of the One who was coming:

Luk 1:76  And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,

Luk 1:77  to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins,

Luk 1:78  because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high

Luk 1:79  to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

As one of my friends brought to my attention recently, John the Baptist not only called sin out for what it was so boldly he lost his head for it, he simultaneously offered a radical grace.  At what point in time did anyone preach repentance and baptism for the forgiveness of sins.  No temple?  No sacrifice?  Could it really be that simple to just turn to God with your heart and go down into the water?  He proclaimed Jesus as “The Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world!”   Yet no one understood a God Man as a Passover lamb.  And what about the rules?  John commanded them to do the same things Jesus did – walk in LOVE, justice and generosity.  No mention of rituals or observances.  Luke says, “With this and many exhortations he preached GOOD NEWS to the people.  Jesus told his followers to preach the GOOD NEWS of the Kingdom to all of Creation.

In Jesus, our Passover Lamb, we have reconciliation with a Holy God.  The most vivid picture of this reconciliation in my mind is the veil shrouding the Most Holy Place in the temple tearing from top to bottom at the moment of His death.  At the time of the second temple, the Ark of the Covenant was already gone, lost in the last exile. (or hidden by Jeremiah as some believe, who ares till searching for it.)  The tearing of the veil revealed two things.  First and foremost, the New and Living Way had been opened through the veil of the tearing of the flesh of Jesus.  Secondly, that the Temple made with hands no longer contained the Covenant, the Presence, or the Mercy Seat.  Israel had already lost this Covenant long before Jesus came to make His in flesh and blood.  Through Jesus we are delivered from our “body of death” to serve Him “without fear in holiness and righteousness all of our days.”  We may come BOLDLY before the Throne of Grace.  What an amazing privilege!!  Have we stopped to consider it or do we rather trample on the blood of  Christ by considering it a common thing, either through living in the lesser shadow, or by ingratitude as we live for the flesh?  I believe we can gain a great deal from understanding the shadow, but only that it continues to validate and glorify Jesus as God, Messiah, Redeemer, fulfillment of all prophecies, parables, and promises.  Jesus did not come to point us back to the shadow but to be the Light.  Walk in the Light.

There is more….    but I’m out of time.

Read Full Post »

Many followers of Old Covenant Law really love and enjoy their lifestyles.  They don’t see it as drudgery or duty so much as a privilege.  I have heard some claim that to give it up would be equal to losing a family member; or they could possibly question all their other doctrines, but never under any circumstance would they give up the Sabbath. I can readily appreciate their love and enjoyment of obeying what they believe God wants them to do. I did not come to my present position because I got tired of the Sabbath or Festivals. I enjoyed them greatly and saw no reason why I would ever cease walking that path.

Nowhere does the New Testament forbid observing these things (although it strongly warns multiple times from making them obligatory to others, or presenting them as a way of righteousness before God, either as a means of salvation or a required fruit of it.)  In the New Covenant, you are free to love God through the shadow if you wish. It is your liberty.

Often in Law-keeping circles we heard the following emphasis about the Messiah:

Jesus came to (among other things):

  • Demonstrate the Law
  • Make it possible for us to keep the Law
  • Clear up misunderstandings from the Rabbis about the Law
  • Reinforce and glorify the Law

While we acknowledged His role as Redeemer and Savior, this was not our area of focus.  Now I do not see His chief mission as being to point us back to Sinai, but for the sake of this challenge – I will ask… IF THESE PRINCIPLES ARE TRUE.. then should we not look very carefully at all Jesus said and did rather than just simply turn right back around and look to Moses? As a law-keeper, have you ever given equal weight to the words of the Messiah Himself?

Carefully consider the following verses

What the Torah commands:

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. Deuteronomy 18:18 , 19

How Peter used this scripture from Torah on the day of Pentecost:

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Acts 3:22-26

Question: If they had the Torah already, and great teachers of the Torah (scribes and Pharisees) who knew it backwards and forwards, in what way did Jesus come to turn them away from their wickedness?

What God the Father says:

He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only. Matthew 17:5-8

What Jesus says:

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. John 15:10

For whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.  Luke 9:26

Question: Based on the previous verses, when Jesus speaks of His own commandments, does He mean for us to only open the Torah or to pay attention to the words from His own mouth?

What the Apostles say:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. Hebrews 1:1,2

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. Galatians 4:4-7

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own. (Paul, speaking of his good standing in Judaism and training in the Torah) Philippians 3:8,9

To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 1 Corinthians 9:21

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….   Colossians 3:15, 16

The Challenge

I have often heard it said, “The Law is a representation of the character of God” yet Jesus said “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” When was this ever said of the Law? I agree the Law is an expression of the heart of God, but Jesus IS God. The Law is limited, but in Jesus, the fullness of the Godhead was present on Earth!

My challenge to you as Sabbath keeper or Torah Observant believer is not to abandon what you love, but to seek Jesus and HIS WORDS on equal terms with the Law you love already. One way I would suggest is to take a notebook and read through the gospels, writing down all that strikes you as important from the mouth of the Messiah, or record actions that demonstrate a principle or truth you can apply to your life. Tradition says the Torah has 613 commands. Those who enjoy making lists have found over 2000 in the New Testament. My hope is even if you never give up the shadow which points to the Messiah, in this investigation you will see Him as never before.

(My New Covenant readers will not like the part about making lists of New Covenant commandments but trust me on this… :D)

Read Full Post »

When giving our own testimony about leaving Torah Observance for Jesus alone and His Covenant,  I have always tried to make a distinction between the Hebrew Roots Movement (comprised almost completely of Gentiles) and Messianic Judaism, which I had no direct experience with.  Watching it from a distance I assumed this was culturally relevant for Jewish people having these customs as their background.

When I came to meet the brother who has shared this booklet I’m passing on to you, my theory was turned on its head.  I am so thankful that God has led him to write and freely share the wisdom he has learned from God’s Word.  He has blessed our lives incredibly with his words and I pray it blesses many others.

Judaism has beautiful elements in its practice and can be extremely alluring to those who mistakenly think they can learn to  “do what Jesus did.”   This is just the beginning of many distractions and deceptions, leading people to flirt with practices and philosophies of Judaism.   To draw from this well, as a believer, whether Jewish or Gentile is to drink from a broken cistern, guaranteed to run dry on you, most certainly NOT the Living Water that leads to everlasting life.

This booklet entitled “What Went Wrnog With the Messianic Movement” is a Jewish believer’s plea to reject the futility of false religion and inherited lies in favor of the One saving truth of Jesus Christ in a powerful, honest, heart-felt manner.  I praise God for the deliverance He has so graciously given so many of us who were once blinded, but now the veil has been taken away as we turned to Christ.  Here is an excerpt and a link to read the PDF copy.

“Judaism appears to be righteous and godly, but anything that turns away from or hates Jesus and His wonderful work also turns away from, i.e. hates, God as well. Therefore, because the spirit of Judaism is so virulently set against Jesus and His work on the Cross, the God of Judaism cannot be the God of Mt. Sinai, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the prophets or any god at all. That Judaism and practitioners of Judaism hate Jesus reveals something much deeper in the character of the religion and the practitioners thereof. He who hates Jesus, hates God and cannot be said to be in any way godly.

But there is a redeeming characteristic to normative Judaism. Zeal. The day will come when “all Israel will be saved”, and when that day comes it will be with great zeal. The knowledge of the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and the prophets will be added to zeal, to the eagerness to serve God. Lying, legal (and other) fictions and manipulative mental gymnastics of the mind of man will be put aside. The eagerness to seek God — the readiness on the tongue to discuss Godly matters —will be added to the clear vision of the eyes of faith. But it is dishonest to say that that day has come. Normative Judaism is not a beautiful religion for those who mean to seek the very face of God as described in the New Testament.

This booklet is not written for Jews who have never known Jesus. They should enjoy their religion in good health. However, for believers in the shed blood of the Messiah, normative Judaism is nothing short of spiritual adultery. In Romans we are told that we were made to die to the Law in order to be joined to (married to) the Messiah.”  p. 10

“Our heritage is beautifully described in the sixteenth Psalm:

“The LORD is the portion of my inheritance and my cup; Thou dost support my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.” Psalm
16:5, 6 (emphasis supplied)

When David the psalmist says, “my heritage is beautiful to me” we should know that our heritage as believers in Jesus is not our culture; our heritage as believers is God Himself in diametric contradistinction to what has been handed down to us from our fathers. “Thou wilt make known to me the paths of life. In Thy presence is fullness of joy. In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.” These three amazing things (knowing the paths of life, fullness of joy and pleasures forever) are not obtainable from
our fleshly fathers; not from rabbis and not from books or lectures. Only the inheritance that we have as sons of God through Jesus (John 1) can bring us this inheritance.”  p. 42

Click below for full version

What Went Wrnog with the Messianic Movement

Read Full Post »

Finally the long-awaited finish to an explanation I started for a friend months ago.  I put off completing this far too long, being overwhelmed with how much I wanted to say.  I finally accepted that to finish was better than to worry about what I might leave out.    It will be posted as its own page under the first two parts which can be found here:

Part One and Part Two

Note:  The name Yehoshua is used in place of Jesus out of deference to the intended reader.

First to recap the information in the first segments….

1 – Yehoshua is the pivotal, unmovable element in our faith – being fully God and fully human, He is the highest revelation of God to man. (Heb. 1:1,2) All the Law and the Prophets pointed to him, but were mere shadows of His reality. The Law given to Moses cannot be an equal or synonymous expression of God Himself, and is not of equal authority. The Torah clearly commands that all are to listen and obey the Prophet who was to come. In Acts, Stephen and the Apostles make it clear that they believed Yehoshua was the fulfillment of this. By refusing to accept the testimony and resurrection of the Son of God, most of Israel had become lawbreakers in the worst sense, by rejecting God Himself. But as promised repeatedly in the prophets, and as Paul affirms in Romans, God will restore their sight in His time, and seems to be doing so now to some extent.

2 – To obey this command “to him you shall listen” (Deut 18:15) requires that we give ample attention and respect to the credibility of the four witnesses of Him in the New Testament, as well as to the teachings of the one He personally called to bring the truth of Him to the Gentiles. If we do not accept this testimony, or doubt its authenticity and reliability, we are left with the problem of an all-powerful God that can incarnate, die, and rise from the dead, but not able to preserve a trustworthy witness to these events. If this witness is not true and valid, then we cannot even firmly establish these events at all, and our faith is a myth and legend.

Listening to Yehoshua also means we are led by Him through the Holy Spirit. The Word of God in written form is the field manual, and the Holy Spirit is the two-way radio. We need them both in order to truly follow and obey Him. (not really a recap, but an introduction on that point).

3 – We believe Torah is better described as God’s unchanging principles based on love for God and man, and not a finite list on tablets of stone. The law as given at Sinai is an expression of His Torah, but we do not believe He intended it for all people for all time in this form. The same principles are included in a better Covenant, founded on better promises.

Nature is an amazing expression of God’s character, wisdom, and power – so much so that man has throughout the ages made it an object of worship. The Hebrew scriptures are also an incredible, complex expression of Him – as beautiful and intricate as any wonder of the natural world. However, they are still a gift of creation, and not God himself. The written scriptures were not given to man in order for us to venerate them or to create a distraction away from God Himself, especially as expressed in the Son. We did not openly state that we placed the Torah at this level, but our actions revealed this was the place it held in our hearts.

To Continue from There…

There are many different camps of theology when it comes to the covenants. I have not studied them all in depth so I will not attempt to compare and contrast them.  There are precise names and definitions and well developed “systems” of theology behind all of them, which for the most part makes my brain hurt. I am not a theologian, but I greatly desire the truth. I have to believe that truth is available to uneducated people like me, or I would lose hope.

That being said, the following discussion would be too oversimplified for most people who prefer complicated explanations. We took great pride in being complicated in the past, thinking it demonstrated how smart we were. Our supposed “wisdom” became a stumbling block to us, so I now value simplicity. The Greek word for simplicity in this following verse also means “singleness” (according to Strongs) I like that too.

But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness, so your thoughts should be corrupted from the simplicity due to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:3

What we believed in the past…

Being raised an SDA, we were taught a special brand of replacement theology. Not only had just the Gentile church replaced Israel, but our denomination was now THE remnant of Bible Prophecy. We were the new Israel. I think the Puritans may have had similar ideas when coming to America. Much of our Protestant theology seems to have been inherited from them. The SDA view of the Law is very similar to most Hebrew Roots thinkers. They believe it existed from creation, the eternal Law of God that would never change and the ultimate expression of His character for all people on earth.  One thing they are correct about is the belief that if you are to follow the Ten Commandments as the standard of obedience to God, you cannot replace Sabbath with Sunday. There is no basis for this change whatsoever if you are looking to the Sinai Covenant Law as your guide.

The main difference between the SDA and HRM viewpoint is the SDA side breaks up the law into categories, saying everything commanded outside the 10C were “ceremonial” (or civil) and these were the laws abolished on the cross. This is also the position of most Baptists, and Covenant Theology type churches.  This argument holds no water because the Sabbath is not a moral command.  In addition you will find plentiful commands within the whole body of law which are clearly moral issues.  Even Abraham married his half-sister, something morally forbidden in the Torah.

As we became interested in our Hebrew Roots, we saw it was a completely man-made concoction to say the Law could be split up into pieces, some abolished, some eternal. We saw it stood or fell altogether as one body of legislation. We still believed the Law of God as being the Law from Sinai so we then shifted our belief that the WHOLE thing had to be written on our heart and we should seek to obey every part of it we could. We still had to see some things as fulfilled – or at least – temporarily deferred until a temple was rebuilt and we were all living in Israel again. We became consumed with trying to learn more about doing all we could do at the present time. We took in the teaching that we were also Israel because we believed in Israel’s Messiah. With this, we believed we had a right to the stated material blessings through Torah observance, and the obligation to practice traditions of our elder brother Judah (from modern Judaism). We still believed Yehoshua alone was enough for Christians, and they were saved if they believed on Him, but we considered ourselves more obedient and more blessed.

Some people we knew went so far as to think there was no way to be saved unless you observed the Torah, because if you didn’t, you were worshiping a different God. Now when I say Torah observance, we criticized Christians for their failure to observe rituals and days – not on love or moral purity. Someone could place all their trust in Yehoshua and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (character traits, not works) and still be considered a lost, pagan apostate if they did not keep the Holy Days, and ate pork. I never personally believed this but I was still proud about being superior.

I don’t remember the first time I heard the term “renewed” Covenant – but we didn’t stop to study it out, or test this term when we heard it. This idea fit what we wanted to believe and mirrored the SDA position I had always held which taught Messiah came to re-state the Sinai Law with His life and give us the ability to really keep it. Everyone was referring to the New Covenant as “renewed” or just simply “The Covenant” as if there was only one, and “New Covenant” became one of the many taboo words. To utter the phrase “New Covenant” was seen as anti-Semitic, anti-Law, anti-God Himself. When we looked at the original languages and scriptural context of New Covenant passages, we could not support the teaching of calling it renewed.

Our Present View of Old and New Covenants

We now believe the specific laws as given at Mt. Sinai were the conditions (terms) of the temporary contract between God and His people. Unlike the covenant made with Abraham where all he did was “believe God” the Sinai covenant had a HUGE obedience contingency. The contract was breached simply by their disobedience if nothing else.  As Hebrews says, “He found fault with them.” (The question is, what was instituted in its place?) The contract had physical rewards or consequences – nothing pertaining to eternal life. As with the custom of covenant agreements during that time – the parties were designated, terms agreed upon, and a sign was given.  In both covenants, man was tested to TRUST God.  Abraham passed the test, and Israel failed, repeatedly.

If you simply renew a covenant, it would make sense that the terms would remain the same. Even if this was actually what God did, it’s difficult to maintain that everyone in every country could be obligated to all the terms in this covenant. If simply accepting Israel’s Messiah brings you into this covenant, as we believed it did, this creates numerous problems. A huge percentage of the laws cannot be kept if not in the Land of Israel, without a temple, and without a government that adheres to this law as their civil structure.

However, if you make a new contract entirely, you could change the terms quite drastically – and God did. The Sinai Covenant and Covenant of Christ both have a different purpose, and are contrasted quite clearly in Hebrews, Romans, and Galatians. Here is an overview of three pivotal covenants.

Abraham

Contracting Parties: God & Abraham

Terms: Abraham believed – God promised land, many descendants and that through his seed, all the nations of the earth would be blessed. (through Messiah)

Sign: Circumcision

Israel

Contracting Parties: God & Israel (with the invitation to people of other nations to enter in through circumcision)

Terms: Israel obeys the Law given through Moses, God blesses with the Promised Land and abundance. Israel rebels, curses upon curses, and then… more curses.

Sign: Sabbath days

Sinai was conditional, Abraham’s Covenant is called the covenant of Promise because it was unconditional. This one is the foreshadow of the one we have in Christ. It simulates it and prophesies it.

New Covenant

Parties: God and “whosoever will” – given to Israel first,  who believe on His Son (the “works” of God are to believe on Him who He has sent. John 6:29)

Terms: Belief (not just a mental assent, but TRUST, a heart thing) – God promises eternal life

Sign: Love for one another(John, I John)

Seal: The Holy Spirit (Eph. 2)

Many Sinai Covenant devotees argue there is no evidence this covenant was ever abrogated. This is simply not true. Even a surface reading of the NT will reveal a clear teaching it was at that time (even while the temple was still standing) – “obsolete” and “passing away”. (Hebrews) The Sinai Law has not been given to all men from the dawn of time, but was given at a specific time, after the Promise to Abraham (Galatians). Paul makes it clear that when you are in Christ, you die with him (die to the old contract) and are raised to new life in Him – married to another (Romans 7). Galatians shows by way of analogy you cannot live under both at the same time, comparing Hagar and Sarah. If you want the fullness of the New Covenant – and the freedom of life in the Spirit, you have no choice but to throw out the bond woman and live in the Promise alone. According to Paul, living under both simultaneously is simply not possible. This is why we must twist Paul or reject him as a teacher completely in order to maintain that Torah observance as given to Israel is the only way to please God.

Very simply, as wild branch Gentiles, never at any time were we under this contract with God. Jews and Gentiles are separate in the flesh, and united only in Christ, not in a Law. (Eph. 2) The Gentiles were never commanded or required to come under Israel’s covenant when coming to Christ. Jewish believers were never required to stop observing the way they were accustomed to, however they were forbidden from requiring it of Gentile believers. (Acts 15, Romans 14, Col. 2, Eph. 2)

Even as a Jewish person trusts Yehoshua as their Messiah, realizing they have no righteousness of their own, die the same death the Gentile dies. We die to sin, self, and works. We are relieved of the condemnation of sin because it died on the cross. Just as Paul says in Romans 7 – death releases you of a contract! We are raised to be New Creation (2 Cor. 5:17) in Christ. The very God of the universe comes to live in us through His Spirit – (still can’t fathom the reality of this!) and becomes our Torah. The whole of New Covenant obedience is hinged on the two great commands – (1) Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul. (2) Love one another as God has loved you through His son (John 13:34, 15:12) – a much taller order than loving your neighbor as yourself. He could not even command this until He had come to demonstrate exactly what that meant. This was truly, a “new” commandment.

Yehoshua did not command his disciples to be identified by their outward observances as under the Sinai Covenant. Never in the NT are the Old Covenant observances reiterated to any segment of the Jewish or Gentile believers. Only issues of love, morality, and upright character are reinforced repeatedly, all such commands being connected to fervent love for God and one another. To be obedient under the New Covenant has a much higher degree of accountability than in the Old.  Those who “drew near” to serve God were repeatedly snuffed out of existence when they sinned, God holding them more accountable than the general population.  In Israel only one man could enter the Most Holy place in God’s presence.  Through the mediation of Christ, we are all a “royal priesthood” and have access to God’s throne, an astounding privilege.  We have not begun to understand what we have been granted, or the measure of grace God has given for us to have this privilege.

Far from being “lawlessness” as so many people claim, life in Christ is in fact being obedient moment by moment to a living God that dwells in us. He may command me through His Spirit to stop and help someone with car trouble, or prompt me to say a word of encouragement to someone. The Torah of the Spirit encompasses all of life. A list of rules can never do this. This life is not about external demands of clean/unclean or days and times, but becoming completely transformed. The Law could define our problem, but only life in the Spirit can solve our problem (Romans 8). The Law still stands today for all to see – it remains as a witness, but we are no longer in a relationship with it. We are no longer under it as school children, but have been promoted to sons and daughters. (Galatians)

Sadly I have to admit, many church-going Christians have never seen this either. Even though they are not keeping the Law according to Moses, they are still trying to come to God on external terms, and in their own efforts. They serve God out of sheer duty and striving, or for some hope of recognition and blessing. They do not enter the rest of complete trust and submission to God. Serving God becomes a means to an end when Yehoshua should be the desired end and blessing in Himself. They cannot even see the depravity of their hearts because they are assuring themselves with the multitude of their churchianity. This is not the life Yehoshua called his followers to live. We aren’t to look to a list written by Moses, or a pastor, or a denomination. Yehoshua alone is our Rabbi and our Lord.

Growing up in the SDA denomination, I never learned what it meant to be “born again” as Yehoshua taught, and as Paul explained. We were instructed as children to never say we were “saved”. They would correct other Christians who would claim they had been “saved” at a certain identifiable moment in their lives when they became new. This was something we were told we needed to do every day. We had to make sure everything was confessed at any given moment. If we let any sin remain unconfessed, we could lose our salvation if our number came up. At least Catholics had purgatory where they could work all that out and still get to heaven. We had to strive for perfection in fear of being lost instead of the “full assurance of faith” that Hebrews speaks of.

When we saw the New Covenant, I also for the first time understood being born again. Even though I had experienced this many years before, I had NO idea what had happened to me and had no way to express it, or testify to what God had done in my life. Now I realize that there was one day I was confronted with my sin and a Savior. I became so convicted by my own actions that were sick beyond belief, and so drawn to His gift of love in spite of myself, that I repented and threw myself at His feet.  I realized I had no other hope in this world.  I knew I had sinned against HIM personally and it was painful.  But at the same time, I sensed His deep love for me and He offered peace and not condemnation. This does not always happen in an intense moment that someone can point to. It can happen quietly too – especially in small children. However, the Word teaches that we become a New Creation. Old things are passed away. The Holy Spirit dwells in us and is a seal of our adoption into God’s family. (Eph. 2) Now I know my holiness does not come from the outside, but from within as He works love into my life – more for Him and for others.

I could go on for many more pages, and I’ll leave the technicalities to the theologians. But so much liberating and transformational truth is lost when the New Covenant and Christ are demoted to a subset within the Sinai system. This goes for HRM, SDA’s and many evangelical Christians who have no idea they are coming to God under the terms given to Moses. The foundation to the New Covenant is the unconditional Promise of Christ – and He is the one who is all and in all. So much in His name has been a sham, especially in the United States. I would urge everyone who wants to truly know God, to seek His Son first in the pages of His Word. It’s the most liberating truth there is, but the most demanding at the same time. To live it, we must reconcile that we die with Him, and be raised with Him. Only in that are we truly free.

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him,

“If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.

The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 8:31-36

Read Full Post »

This post is again a pass-along from a list I am on.  When we were in the Hebrew Roots Movement, nearly everyone we knew made an issue about what to call God the Father, and Jesus.  While I never saw it as important, I acquiesced as much as possible to this practice so as not to cause offense.  In fact, if you happen to use the name “Jesus” with someone of this persuasion, they will be quick to point out the importance of using the correct name so as to be sure you are talking about the RIGHT Messiah.

The Sacred Name issues are many and complicated due to the fact that Sacred Name adherents themselves cannot agree on the correct name.  The only thing they do agree on is that you must absolutely use the correct name for God the Father, and Jesus the Son.   Sacred name evangelists are not new on the scene, but the HRM is the new breeding ground for this distraction.

One man in our group angrily asserted in one meeting that his name was the same in any language, so God’s name should be too.   For those that have only spoken in one language, or never traveled abroad, this may seem perfectly logical.  Unfortunately, ignorance of languages produces many misunderstandings.  Many self-proclaimed scholars are leading people down roads of deception and idolatry, holding up false teachings as sacred cows which create stumbling blocks.

This is just the tip of the language iceberg in the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Not only does the long-loved English Jesus become taboo, but also a long list of other words we have commonly used when speaking of our faith.  Reminiscent of PC speech, this also reminds me of Orwellian attempts to change people’s thinking through what they are allowed to say.  This may seem a trivial subject to most, but I assure you, the damage this does to the simplicity of Christ and his gospel runs very deep.  The following article addresses at least part of this problem.

NOTE:  Dr. Michael Brown has a Ph.D in Semitic languages – which
of course include Hebrew and Aramaic – the original languages of
Jesus and His people. He is a recognized authority on this topic.

JESUS, YESHUA or YAHSHUA??
-by Dr. Michael L. Brown.

I am continually amazed by how many people write to our ministry
and ask us questions like this one, which came in last week: “Some
Christians say we have to use the Hebrew name, Yashua.  They
say calling on the name of Jesus is calling on Zeus. That Jesus is
a disguise name for Satan. What answers do you have for this?
Where can we prove the name of Jesus is correct to use in its
English translation and pronunciation?”

As bizarre as these questions are, the fact that they keep coming
up means that they need to be addressed, so here are some simple
responses (for more details, see What Do Jewish People Think
About Jesus, question #38).

The original Hebrew-Aramaic name of Jesus is yeshu‘a, which is
short for yehoshu‘a (Joshua), just as Mike is short for Michael.
The name yeshu‘a occurs 27 times in the Hebrew Scriptures,
primarily referring to the high priest after the Babylonian exile,
called both yehoshu‘a (see, e.g., Zechariah 3:3) and, more
frequently, yeshu‘a (see, e.g., Ezra 3:2). So, Yeshua’s name was
not unusual; in fact, as many as five different men had that name
in the Old Testament. And this is how that name came to be “Jesus”
in English: Simply stated, this is the etymological history of the
name Jesus: Hebrew/Aramaic yeshu‘a became Greek Iesous,
then Latin Iesus, passing into German and then, ultimately, into
English, as Jesus.

Why then do some people refer to Jesus as Yahshua? There is
absolutely no support for this pronunciation—none at all—and I
say this as someone holding a Ph.D. in Semitic languages. My
educated guess is that some zealous but linguistically ignorant
people thought that Yahweh’s name must have been a more overt
part of our Savior’s name, hence YAHshua rather than Yeshua—
but again, there is no support of any kind for this theory.

The Hebrew Bible has yeshu‘a; when the Septuagint authors
rendered this name in Greek, they rendered it as “iesous” (I­­esous,
with no hint of yah at the beginning of the name); and the same
can be said of the Peshitta translators when they rendered Yeshua’s
name into Syriac (part of the Aramaic language family). All this is
consistent and clear: The original form of the name Jesus is yeshu‘a,
and there is no such name as yahshu‘a (or, yahushua or the like).

What about the alleged connection between the name Jesus
(Greek I­­esous) and Zeus? This is one of the most ridiculous claims
that has ever been made, but it has received more circulation in
recent years (the Internet is an amazing tool of misinformation),
and there are some believers who feel that it is not only preferable
to use the original Hebrew/Aramaic name, Yeshua, but that it is
wrong to use the name Jesus. Because of this, we will briefly
examine this claim and expose the fallacies that underlie it.

According to the late A. B. Traina in his Holy Name Bible, “The
name of the Son, Yahshua, has been substituted by Jesus, Iesus,
and Ea-Zeus (Healing Zeus).”

In this one short sentence, two complete myths are stated as fact:
First, there is no such name as Yahshua (as we have just explained),
and second, there is no connection of any kind between the Greek
name I­­esous (or the English name Jesus) and the name Zeus.
Absolutely none! You might as well argue that Tiger Woods is the
name of a tiger-infested jungle in India as try to connect the name
Jesus to the pagan god Zeus. It is that absurd, and it is based on
serious linguistic ignorance.

Here is another, equally absurd statement:

“… according to the ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNICA, the name
Ieusus (Jesus) is a combination of 2 mythical deities, IEU and SUS
(ZEUS, a Greek god).” – (www.wwyd.org).

The response to this statement (which has as much support as the
latest Elvis sightings) is quite simple: We know where the name
I­­esous came from: the Jewish Septuagint! In other words, this
was not some later, pagan corruption of the Savior’s name; rather,
it was the natural Greek way of rendering the Hebrew/Aramaic
name Yeshua at least two centuries before His birth, and it is the
form of the name found in more than 5,000 Greek manuscripts of
the New Testament. This is saying something! The name I­­esous
is also found in Greek writings outside the New Testament and
dating to that same general time frame.

Although it is claimed that the Encyclopedia Britannica says that
“the name Ieusus (Jesus) is a combination of 2 mythical deities,
IEU and SUS (ZEUS, a Greek god)” it actually says no such thing.
This is a complete fabrication, intentional or not. In short, as one
Jewish believer once stated, “Jesus is as much related to Zeus as
Moses is to mice.”

Unfortunately, some popular teachers continue to espouse the
Jesus-Zeus connection, and many believers follow the pseudo-
scholarship in these fringe, “new revelation” teachings. Not only
are these teachings and practices filled with error, but they do not
profit in the least. So, to every English-speaking believer I say: Do
not be ashamed to use the name JESUS! That is the proper way
to say his name in English—just as Michael is the correct English
way to say the Hebrew name mi-kha-el and Moses is the correct
English way to say the Hebrew name mo-sheh. Pray in Jesus’
name, worship in Jesus’ name, and witness in Jesus’ name. And
for those who want to relate to our Messiah’s Jewishness, then
refer to him by His original name Yeshua—not Yahshua and not
Yahushua—remembering that the power of the name is not in its
pronunciation but in the person to whom it refers, our Lord and
Redeemer and King.
(emphasis mine – 8thday4life)

SOURCE-
askdrbrown.org/ask-dr-brown/35-ask-dr-brown/79-what-is-the-original-
hebrew-name-for-jesus-and-is-it-true-that-the-name-jesus-greek-isssous-is-
really-a-pagan-corruption-of-the-name-zeus

Another excellent resource:

http://how2becomeachristianinfoblog.com/2008/10/19/deception-of-the-sacred-name-cults/

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: