Shavuot Message 2020

Today is Shavuot, the second of the three pilgrimage festivals that God decreed we should celebrate. The instructions regarding this Holy Day can be found in Leviticus 23:15-21.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

There is a difference, in my opinion, between a Holy Day and a holiday; the former is decreed by God, and the latter is man-made. Shavuot (Hebrew meaning “weeks”) is a Holy Day, but the way Shavuot is celebrated today (and has been since around the Third Century C.E.) is really a holiday.

According to the information in “The Jewish Book of Why” (which I highly recommend to anyone who wants to learn about the Jewish lifestyle and Judaism in general), in the Talmud, Rabbi Eleazar said that we should celebrate this day as the giving of the Torah to Israel (Pesachim 68b), and from then on Shavuot was no longer a divinely decreed harvest festival but became a man-made holiday.  The justification for this change was that the country no longer was exclusively an agrarian economy and bringing the first fruit of the harvest to the temple was no longer something being done, so to keep the day alive in Jewish life, they made it into a celebration of the giving of the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai.

You might ask how anyone who studies the Bible, especially Torah-observant Jews, would ever accept that redefinition of what God said we should do. It doesn’t even come close to what the Bible says, from the timeline in Exodus, because we are told in Exodus 19 that it was the first day of the third month when the Israelites arrived at the Sinai Desert.  Shavuot is 50 days after the first Shabbat after the Seder, and since that first Seder was while still in Egypt, there is no way that Shavuot could have been at the time they arrived at Sinai, which was nearly 90 days later.

But, the Rabbis won out and since that time, Jews have celebrated Shavuot as the giving of the law, and I believe most Jews today don’t even know that they are celebrating incorrectly.

This day is also known as Pentecost, which almost everyone believes to be a Christian holiday, even though the word Pentecost means 50 days. It is clearly a Jewish celebration, based on the counting of the Omer after Passover. In the Book of Acts, we are told there were thousands of Jews in Jerusalem, from all over the world, when the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) was given to them. The reason there were thousands of Jews in Jerusalem is that it was a pilgrimage Holy Day! Pentecost is a Jewish Holy Day that was renamed and re-branded to become a Christian holiday.

Seems that the Rabbis and the Church leaders had something in common- they thought they could remake what God said to do to be what they want it to be.

But, there is some good that comes from this. I think that the physical slavery to sin, which the Torah can free us from, and the spiritual freedom from sin, which the giving of the Ruach can lead us from, is a good thing to teach at this time of the year. The Torah teaches us how to live a life free from sin (as Shaul tells us in Romans) by defining sin, and the Ruach helps us to know what is right and lead us to righteousness. The law defines sin, and the Ruach leads our actions by giving us divine guidance to keep us from sinning.

Of course, the weak link in this whole process is that humans are self-serving and sinful by nature, but with knowing what the law says and listening to the Ruach, we can become greater than what we are.

I don’t like it when man-made creations overrule what God has decreed, but in the case of Shavuot being turned from a harvest festival to the celebration of the giving of the Torah, and how relating that with Pentecost can be used to bridge the gap between Jewish and Christian understanding of God and his Holy Spirit, well… I am OK with it.

Besides, with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, we can’t celebrate Shavuot as God decreed, just the same way we can’t celebrate Passover as he decreed, either. Yet, we DO celebrate Passover in our homes to keep the commandment as best as we can. I would think that to celebrate Shavuot in a different manner in order to fulfill the commandment as best as we can, just might be acceptable to God.

If you go to Shul on this day, keep the tradition of bringing a loaf of bread with you. This is one of those rare times when the bread being offered is baked with leavening, and enjoy this day because it is a joyful day.

We are not celebrating it exactly as God decreed, but we are celebrating the instructions God gave and are gratefully worshiping God, thankful and obedient to Torah as best fits the world today. Personally, I don’t think God will have a problem with that.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages with others, and check out my books; if you like what you read in these messages you will like my books, as well. And remember that I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!

How to Interpret the Bible Correctly

Let me start off by saying I am not professing to be an expert on Biblical exegesis (although I do know some of the fancy words), and that I am not saying this is the absolute and only correct method of Bible interpretation, but I have seen and corrected many wrong interpretations and know that what I am going to talk about is valid and necessary.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

Something happened just recently which made me think it might be a good idea to (at least) give a small lesson on how to properly interpret what we read in the Bible.

Two methods I always incorporate when interpreting the Bible are PaRDeS and Hermeneutics. PaRDeS is a Jewish form of exegesis and is an acronym for the following:

P=P’shat, the literal meaning of the written word (i.e., what you read is what it means);

R=Remes, the deeper, more spiritual meaning (as Yeshua demonstrated in his Sermon on the Mount);

D= Drash, a story or lesson which has a spiritual meaning (such as the parables Yeshua told); and

S =Sud, a mystical meaning that no one can fully comprehend.

That is one method I use, and the other is Hermeneutics, which is defined as:

The purpose of Hermeneutics is to bridge the gap between our minds and the minds of the Biblical writers through a thorough knowledge of the original languages, ancient history and the comparison of Scripture with Scripture.

What that means, in simple language, is that we must have a thorough knowledge of the entire Bible, that is, Genesis through Revelation,  and that whatever is written in any part of the Bible should mean the same in any other part of the Bible.

Too often we read or hear someone who has taken a number of passages from the Bible and put them together to form an idea or interpretation. This is not wrong, per se’, unless the passages are taken out of context and used to create the interpretation someone has formed, instead of forming an interpretation from what is written.

Here’s an example of what I am talking about, which happened the other day:

I was reading an article someone posted about the use of the Hebrew word “Seraph” in the story of the snakes sent to punish the Israelites when they were in the desert (Numbers 21.) The writer wanted us to believe that the bronze statue Moses made wasn’t of a snake but of a seraph, an angelic being. This was confirmed when I looked in the Torah to see what word was used in the original Hebrew and saw that it was, indeed, the word seraph, which is what God told Moses to make an image of. The people asked Moses to pray for the removal of snakes (Hebrew word Nachush) and God told Moses to make an image of a seraph.

So, it looks like the writer was correct! But when we use hermeneutics to confirm the interpretation, we find out that this isn’t the case.

I looked at the different uses of the word seraph, to see if it was used anywhere else to represent a serpent, and did not find anything. I then looked through the Bible for other places where nachush was used and found another use in 2 Kings 18. 

In 2 Kings 18, we read how the serpent Moses made in the desert was being worshiped by the people, and they called it Nehushtan, which is a form of the Hebrew word for snake. This confirms that the bronze statue was not a celestial being but a snake, otherwise the people would not have named it “Snake.”

There have been many, MANY times I have corrected people’s attempts to make the Bible say what they wanted it to say, such as how the Kosher laws were removed, or how the Torah was done away with, or how the Jews have been replaced by Gentile Believers. All of these traditional Christian teachings are based on misinterpretation and taking passages out of context, stringing them together and making what appears to be a proper interpretation, but it is really nothing more than a lie.

We must take whatever God says and interpret it in relation to everything else God says, and if there seems to be a contradiction, then one or both interpretations are wrong. God does NOT contradict himself; likewise, what Yeshua taught he told us was only what God told him to say, and this is evident throughout the Gospels (especially in John), so any teachings that indicate Yeshua said something in the Old Covenant isn’t valid anymore is not hermeneutically valid.

What we read in the Epistles are not the words of God but the lessons that the Talmudim (disciples/students) of Yeshua were teaching to the Jewish and (mostly) Gentile Believers, more so to Gentiles who did not understand the instructions the Jews already knew. The letters from Paul to the congregations he started were not meant to change anything, but to teach these Gentile Believers how to live according to God’s instructions, a little bit at a time.

Of course, the Epistles are a totally different lesson, but it is important to know how they fit into today’s lesson because of all the misinterpretations within the Bible that I have seen over more than two decades, the majority of them come from the letters Paul wrote.

God has made his instructions to all the world, which we find in the Torah, pretty simple to understand, and what we can’t fathom we can study and try to understand; or, what I consider to be the better path, we can just accept that God knows best and follow the way of life that God has laid out for us.

Always use these two methods to objectively study the Bible, and when I say objectively, I mean to not just accept what someone tells you; rather, listen and then verify everything, especially before you repeat it to others.

Just like with Hebrew National hotdogs, teachers of God’s word are held to a higher standard, so make sure what you teach is biblically correct.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, check out my website, and share these messages with everyone you know (after verifying, of course, what I say is accurate and biblically correct.) And if you have a comment or correction, please do not hesitate to let me know: I welcome them all.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Revelation About Revelation?

If you have been following my ministry, you know that I rarely talk about anything dealing with Eschatology, which in Hebrew we call the Acharit HaYamim (End Days.) Different narratives of this event are found throughout the writings of the Prophets in the Tanakh, and in the great detail in the Book of Revelation.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

But today I thought I might go a little far afield for me and discuss something that I was thinking about. I am not saying this is a definitive understanding or a new “revelation” regarding Revelation, but I think it is interesting.

We read about the 7 seals that are broken and the 7 bowls of God’s wrath which are released upon the earth and its inhabitants.  There is a pattern I noticed that we could use to ascertain if these seals and bowls are being put into practice at this time.

By the way, you don’t have to agree and can certainly disagree with whatever I am saying; I am no expert on this topic, by any stretch of the imagination. I welcome any comments or corrections from those who have made a deeper study of this topic.

The order of events with the seals is that there is an authority established throughout the world, perhaps meaning the one-world government? Next, there will be wars and the economy will suffer. This is followed by plagues and famine, and the 5th seal states those who have been martyred ask for justice, which they are told is coming soon. This might mean that the previous events will create an environment where the government declares martial rule, for the “protection of the people”, but in fact establishes a totalitarian state where people will be placed under arrest and incarcerated without due process, being denied justice by the government. Sounds reasonable, right?

The 6th seal results in ecological disasters and with the opening of the 7th seal, nearly 2/3 of the earth, plants, animals, and people are totally destroyed.

I don’t know about you, but that does not sound like fun to me. Not at all.

The bowls of wrath seem to be in a similar order, but they concentrate more on the ecology. First, there is disease released upon the people, which is followed by the oceans becoming polluted.  The 3rd bowl pollutes the freshwater sources, and this is interesting because the freshwater sources feed the oceans, not the other way around, yet in God’s plan it will be the oceans that are first affected.

The 4th bowl will burn people, and I think that might be caused by the loss of the Ozone layer around the earth, which would allow the sun’s damaging rays to penetrate our atmosphere. After these disasters, we read how the 5th bowl will affect the non-Believers worse, and with the 6th bowl the Middle East rivers, especially the Euphrates, will dry up completely.

Finally, there is a total ecological disaster, with the earth and everything in it being nearly totally destroyed.

In Revelation these seals and bowls appear to be released upon the earth in order, starting with the seals and ending with the bowls, with other events occurring between them. I am not sure, though, if the bowls and seals are different, or just another way of announcing within the vision what is to come. We have to remember that this is a vision, which means it isn’t literal all the time and also may not be in any chronological order.

I think the main thing to understand is that there will be a single authority established in the world, which should be the signal that these events will begin. These events will affect people, animals, and the environment. We will see our natural resources disappearing or becoming unusable, which will lead to disease, leading to unrest, leading to conflict for resources (wars), leading to government take-over, leading to rebellion, leading to destruction, death, and disorder on a worldwide scale. Eventually, given the destructive weaponry that nearly every country has available to them, the nearly total destruction of the earth and everything in it will be accomplished.

We read that God instructs the angels to release these terrible events upon the earth, but (again) this is a vision, and the angels may represent us! God promised Noah he would never again destroy the earth, but he never said he wouldn’t allow mankind to do it.

God allows sin to continue not because he is weak or unwilling to punish, but because he is giving us time to repent. Once we reach the limit of his allowance, he will act! We have seen this happen to the tribes that were outside Israel (Gad, Rueben, and Manasseh), later to Israel (the Northern kingdom), then to Judah (the Southern kingdom), to the enemies of God’s chosen people living in the Middle East (Assyrians, Babylonians, Philistines, etc.), to Spain after the Inquisition, and most recently to the Nazi’s. There are plenty of reasons to expect this will happen to all the nations of the earth, as well, once God decides to drop the hammer.

And given the rise in anti-Semitism that we are seeing throughout Europe lately, the red flags should be waving and the bells should be ringing.

I don’t know if what I am sharing with you today is anything new; most likely, my revelation about Revelation is no real revelation to anyone.  But I believe the logic behind the order of how things will be destroyed may help us to realize what is happening because once the fecal matter hits the air circulation unit, it will be very hard to stand back, observe, and reconcile what it all might mean because the world will be a total mishigas.

Thank you for being here. Please, subscribe to my YouTube channel and my website so that you can be notified when I post; and also share these messages with others.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah B’midbar 2020 (In the desert) Numbers 1 – 4:20

At the beginning of this book of the Torah, we have Moses, at God’s command (which is the only right time to do this) take a census of the people. We also are given the arrangement of the campsite, as well as the duties of the Levites, with regards to moving the Sanctuary.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video. 

The book of Numbers is a historical narration of the travels of the children of Israel as they wandered in the desert. The wandering was the result of their own sin, which was to reject the land that God brought them to, as he promised he would. They were at the border of Israel only a few months after they left Egypt, but after sending the spies into the land and receiving a bad report, they refused to go in. They were afraid that they would be destroyed by the Canaanites and other tribes that the spies reported as fearsome and powerful.

How quickly they forgot the miraculous events that God performed in Egypt; how quickly they forgot how God split the Red Sea; and how quickly they forgot the way God presented the Torah to them on Mount Sinai.

And isn’t it the same with people, today?

I was in Sales for a long time and I was very good at it. Yet, despite how good a salesman I was, I was never better than what I did yesterday. The standard joke we told each other was: “You’ve been the best salesman in the company for three months now, but what have you done for me today?”

We are in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, causing fear, which has led to the demoralization of the people and is crippling our economy, yet it is nothing compared to the past crises we have had to undergo. But does anyone remember those? Does anyone remember how this country has overcome wars and economic disasters? How did we do that? It was because we had the courage and faith in God to continue through the problems, instead of fearfully sitting on our butts and crying about it!

Does anyone remember that this country, America, was founded on faith in God, which is the real reason we were able to survive those calamities?

Apparently not.

As we go through this book of Numbers we will see how, over and over, God rescued his people when they turned to him and walked in faith towards the goal, the Promised Land. The generation which refused it caused all the people to wander aimlessly until that fearful generation were all gone. It took a new generation, a generation that did not have a slave mentality, a generation that was raised in the desert and didn’t know about living in a house or having everything you needed available to you, a generation that recognized God and accepted his help, THAT generation was the one that entered into the Promised Land and took possession of it.

And when we get to the book of Judges, we will see how they, too, forgot all about God and what he had done for them.

This country is populated now by people who have rejected God, who worship technology and sports and believe only in self-acceptance. They are all about themselves and that is why, after two months of this pandemic, you still can’t find toilet paper on the grocery shelves. Their fear is well-founded because they are depending on their individual ability to overcome problems instead of on God’s ability to protect them.

I am not saying that people should not take precautions when there is a chance of infection or infecting others, but to run and hide in the closet while you wait for someone else to fix things is not what faith is about. Take precautions, wear a facemask if you feel better doing that, and keep away from sick people.

(Do you believe that they have to tell us to do that? Do they think people are that stupid? And what is worse is that they may be right!)

The real problem we have is what President Roosevelt mentioned in his famous speech, which is a statement you most likely have heard used:

We have nothing to fear, but fear itself. 

This country is crippled by fear, by their lack of faith in God, and we are all suffering for it. The shoe has dropped, and I believe the other shoe will drop soon; and when it does, those problems will be so much worse than what we are going through now that this country may not survive it.

The time for the judgment of the nations is now, and America has separated itself from God and joined the world, so we will be judged with the rest of the world. This pandemic is just the start, you mark my words: the next plague will really be deadly, and not just to a small portion of the population.

Learn the lessons we are given in the book of Numbers, see how repentance saved the Israelites while their fear caused them to reject God and suffer. America is doomed, but there will always be a remnant that will survive, so please make sure you are a member of that remnant.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share these messages with others, while there is still time. I welcome your comments and wish you all God’s peace which you will receive when you seek him out.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Everyone Gets Rained On

During the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua tells the people that they should love their enemies and pray for them because that way they will become children of their father in heaven.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

He then tells them that God makes the sun to shine on good and bad people alike, as well as makes the rain to fall on the righteous and unrighteous, alike.

I have always thought this passage meant that God is such a loving God that even those who reject him and ignore his instructions will be able to receive goodness from him. The sunshine and the rains have always represented life to me, in as much as they both are necessary for growth, so when Yeshua said that God provides sun and rain even to the unrighteous, I felt that this was a good thing.

Recently, though, I have thought differently about this. I read Jeremiah 49 and I saw a totally different meaning to what Yeshua said.

In this chapter of Jeremiah, he is prophesying against the different nations surrounding Israel, and in his prophecy against Edom, he says this in Jeremiah 49:12 (CJB):

For this is what Adonai says: “Those who do not deserve to drink from this cup will have to drink it, anyway, so should you go unpunished? No, you will not go unpunished; you will certainly drink it.”

When I read that, even though it is in a distinctly different part of the Bible and is not the same subject matter as the Sermon on the Mount, I realized that what Yeshua said might be understood in a totally different light.

How many times have we heard people ask “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Now, after this revelation (if you will) of mine, I think one answer might be that it’s because they are “collateral damage.”

God loves all people, even the ones who hate him, and even though he knows every hair on every person’s head (which, finally, I will be able to get cut this evening), when he judges a nation, it is the entire nation. How many times has he told us, through the Prophets, that Israel is his son? Israel is seen by God as a unique and singular entity, meaning that God sees all the people that live in Israel as one. And how many times do we hear the Prophets confess the guilt of the people? Not for an individual or a select few but it is always the “sins of our fathers” or “the sins of your people” that they reference when praying to God for forgiveness. And, again, not for the forgiveness of a person or persons, but of the nation.

I came to realize that when God gives sun and rain in abundance at the right times, which is his blessing to the righteous, the unrighteous will be collateral beneficiaries. But, too much sunshine with too little rain, or too much rain without enough sunny days and you don’t have a blessing, you have a curse. And when God sends his curses on the unrighteous, the righteous will be collateral damage.

In other words, we are sometimes guilty by association.  And perhaps that is why when God first gave us his instructions for how to live, he was very clear that those who were not clean were to be separated from the rest of the community and placed outside the camp. For example, in Numbers 16 before the ground swallowed up Dathan and Abiram, Moses told the people close by to separate themselves and get away from them, or they too would be swallowed up.

Too often things happen that we cannot explain, and when we look to God for answers, too often there are none to have. God is so far above us, and he doesn’t really care about our existence on Earth- he is focused on eternity. He is an eternal being, and although he can understand the finite, we, as finite beings, cannot understand the infinite. God has given us this life for one purpose, and one purpose only, which is to choose where we will spend eternity.

If a righteous person is taken from this life along with unrighteous people, then as sad as that may seem to us, it isn’t that bad for the righteous person taken because he or she is now in the eternal presence of the Lord. C’mon, really? What’s the downside of that? This existence is merely a wisp, a mist, and because we have only the amount of time God gives us, and we don’t know how long that is, it is best to make sure we are right with the Lord, first, then try to separate ourselves from evil and unrighteousness as much as possible.

I am not saying to cut off all relationships with non-Believers and run to the mountaintops, living as a hermit, but just to always try to be right with the Lord, and try to associate with the more righteous people as much as you can. It is a fallen and cursed world, and there are more evil and unrighteous people in it then righteous people, so you can never be fully separated from them. But when you know you are living as righteous a life as you can, then even if you end up as collateral damage, it won’t be so bad for you.

When you see good people suffer, it might be because they are collateral damage from someone close to them or something they were associated with. It doesn’t, by itself, means they were guilty of anything. Just like with Job, or the man born blind in John 9:3, whose blindness was not the result of anyone’s sin but so that God’s power and goodness could be made known, we can’t know why bad things happen to good people, nor should we feel it is unfair when bad people receive blessings because the one thing we can be sure of is that in the end, the good are rewarded and the bad receive their punishment.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share these messages with everyone you know.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!