Do You Know Why You Believe?

Are you a Believer? Do you believe in God as the creator of the Universe and Judge of the world? Do you believe that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Messiah God promised to send to the Jewish people, who also made salvation available to both Jews and Gentiles, alike? Do you believe that Yeshua is the son of God and that he will return to establish his kingdom and eternally rule over all the Earth?

You do? That’s good! Now for one more question…do you know why you believe this?

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

Maybe I should start with an easier question? How about this: do you know why I am asking if you know why you believe?

I grew up believing Jesus Christ is not the Messiah the Jews have been waiting for, and that he was a traitor to Judaism and created Christianity, which either wants to convert Jews or kill them. And after believing this for more than 40 years of my life, when I started to question why I believed it the answer came to me.

I believed it because I was told to believe it.

I have met many Christians, both “Born Again” and mainstream, all of whom believe Jesus Christ is the son of God (Christianity seems to stay away from the title “Messiah”) and that if they are a good person they will get to go to heaven. When I have asked them why they believe this to be true, their answer often comes down to “because it’s true.”

Frankly, that’s not much of an answer, is it? That answer means they believe because they have been told to believe. They have not really accepted Jesus as their personal savior, or as the Messiah which he was sent to the Earth to be, or even as a real person. He is just “Jesus”, you know, that guy on the cross at the front of the church.  Many Believers (Born Again or not doesn’t matter) don’t know the Bible, they don’t know about Jesus’s Jewish roots, they don’t even know that he is not the one who created the dogma, tradition, holidays, doctrine or rhetoric that they have had forced down their gullet their whole lives!

They believe in Jesus as their savior because they have been raised to believe in Jesus as their savior, just as I was raised to reject Jesus as my savior.

So let’s go back to the original question: why do YOU believe?

Is it because you want to be in heaven? Not good enough- the Enemy will promise you heaven on earth, and ask you why wait until you are dead? If heaven is your reason for believing, then you will be turned from the truth.

Do you believe because your parents, grandparents, friends, and acquaintances all believe? Then you are just another sheep in the fold, following blindly and being led to slaughter.

Do you believe because you have read the Bible- the entire Bible from Genesis through Revelation- and after praying to God for guidance and discernment have come to your own conclusion that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah God promised to send to the Jews, DID send to the Jews and then through the Apostles was made available to the Gentiles? Is your belief based on your own choice, not dependent on anyone else’s choice?

If your answer is “Yes, I choose to believe in Jesus as my Messiah!” then you are in good shape. Your faith in him is firm and you will not easily be led astray because your faith is founded on your own choice.

My faith is strong because not only did I choose to accept Yeshua as my Messiah, but because I felt like I had to betray some 5,700+ years of Jewish ancestry to do it. My choice to accept Yeshua came before I even understood the truth of his teachings or the fact that modern Christianity is mostly from Constantine and Gentile misinterpretation. What I had always been told to believe was created by Jesus, when I decided to find out for myself, I found out that it wasn’t. And when I learned the truth, my choice to believe was confirmed, my feeling of betrayal was wiped away forever, and my faith has become rooted in cement.

And beyond that, my choice to believe has been confirmed by the many blessings I have received after I chose to believe, which I KNOW are from God and a reward for my faithfulness.

What you need to do, no matter how strong you believe your faith is in God and Jesus, is to look into the mirror and ask yourself, “Why do I believe in Jesus, really?”  Pretend someone is attacking your faith and you have to tell them why you accept Jesus as the Messiah. And if you can’t come up with justification you can show is based in the Bible, in your life experience, or in your own personal study, then you need to re-evaluate your faith. You need to realize that maybe, just maybe, you haven’t really chosen to accept Yeshua on your own. Maybe your acceptance is nothing more than just going along with the crowd and you don’t really know where you are going?

That is a dangerous position to be in. So please!- ask yourself why you believe, and if the answer is anything like “because” or “I guess I always have” or “I don’t know- I just do” then you are in trouble, and your salvation is unsure because your faith is not your own.

The only true faith is the one you choose to have, and if you haven’t made the choice to accept Yeshua/Jesus as your Messiah totally on your own, then you don’t really believe in anything.

Thank you for being here, please share me out to your friends and family and subscribe.

Also, please check out my Gofundme campaign to help send Bibles and prayer shawls to three rural Ugandan Messianic Synagogues. So far we have only raised $175 of the $650 we need- if everyone reading this message gave only $10 we would have enough money to help these Believers, who have chosen to believe despite the religious persecution in that country. Here is a link to that site:

Ugandan Messianic Synagogues

I will be out of the country on a family trip to Ireland all next week and will not be posting again until the end of this month, so until then L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Something I Have Learned

Before I even start, let me say that this is what I have learned for myself- it may not be right for you. If, after reading this, you disagree with what I am saying because you feel differently, that’s OK. I am not telling anyone what they should do or how they should feel, I am simply sharing what is right for me and if it seems right for you, that’s great.

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

Let me give you a little background: I have had a lot of experience in the Financial world, from retail banking to processing securities to insurance and even to estate planning. When I was selling Revocable Living Trusts, I used to tell this to my customers after they had purchased a trust as a way to prepare them for when their children tell them they have to cancel it. I would say:

…when your children were very young, they thought that you both knew everything about everything; when they became teenagers, they thought they knew everything about everything, and now that they are adults and you are senior citizens they think you don’t know anything about anything. But you do know what you are doing, and you have just made a good decision based on knowledge of what you have purchased, so hold fast to your decision.

This is what we in the Sales world call the “Cool Down”- it is absolutely necessary after a sale, especially for a big ticket item. It helps people to avoid making a real mistake, which is to cancel the deal simply because someone who doesn’t have any idea of what they are talking about only saw the dollar signs.

What’s all this got to do with God, the Bible, Yeshua or salvation? It lays the foundation for my message today, which is that most of the times what we believe about God and the Messiah is based on what someone tells us. And because this is about our eternal soul and where it will be, we need to discern what is good information and what information doesn’t help us at all.

Too many times I see people asking questions that lead us to nowhere, such as these actual conversations I have seen in discussion groups:

Who really wrote one of the Psalms?
What tribe am I from?
How do we pronounce the Tetragrammaton?
Is tithing only for a farmer?
When does the Sabbath really begin?
Why are pigs unclean and cows are not?

and other such questions.

I ask you- will knowing the answer to any of these questions save you from death? Will knowing the answers make you more “saved” than someone who doesn’t know the answer? Is anyone saved by knowledge alone?

Here is what I have learned from my 20+ years as a Believer: faith is not caring why something is the way it is but just accepting that it is that way. Knowledge is a two-edged sword: it can help us to better understand God, but the pursuit of in-depth knowledge to prove why something is what we are told will lead us away from faithful acceptance because “proof” is the antithesis of faith.

Here are the answers I have for the questions posed above:

It doesn’t matter who wrote the psalms, they are still beautiful, and those that are Messianic prophecies are still valid.

No one can really know what tribe they are from, and it doesn’t matter because salvation is not based on heritage.

It doesn’t matter how to pronounce God’s Holy Name because we are saved by faith, not pronunciation. Besides, God knows who we are talking to when we pray.

Tithing is giving back to God, no matter what type of income you have.

The Sabbath begins on Friday night, and the moon phase in Israel doesn’t matter so long as on Friday evening you rest until Saturday evening.

Pigs are unclean and cows are not because God said they were…period.

I don’t care to know every single little detail about the Bible or to know Paleo-Hebrew or to be an expert in biblical exegesis. I only want to know what I need to know, and when other people start to tell me I should learn more, I respectfully say, “Thank you for your concern, but I know enough: I know who God is, I know who Yeshua is, and I know that my salvation is secured because of my faith in them and my obedience to their instructions.”

For the record, I am not always obedient, but that is an entirely different topic.

I am not saying we shouldn’t study the Bible- we must! We need to know God’s word and God’s instructions so that we can do as he tells us we should and also to be able to recognize the Enemy when he comes. These are important things to know!

Everything else is, to me, just fluff. It won’t make me any more “saved” than you, special knowledge won’t make me more important in heaven (this is part of what Gnosticism teaches), but what it will do (and I have seen this happen too often) is lead people into arguments that result in pridefulness, sinful attacks against brothers and sisters in the Lord, and confusion.

Read the Bible, stay away from extra-biblical works, unless they are specifically useful in helping to understand the Bible, such as commentaries or reference materials like the Interlinear Bible or Strong’s Concordance. And talk with people about salvation-related topics, but only those things that edify and teach people what they need to know.

How will we know which topics are useful and which are not? Only by discernment, and that comes from God. So when you pray, ask for discernment, for wisdom, and for patience when dealing with those who just have to know everything. I often see topics on Facebook that in my opinion are just ridiculous, so I ignore them. I also have seen people start conversations just to be able to argue with others- they don’t even care what is true or valid or important, they just want to argue.

Finally, let’s all remember what we are told in Proverbs 6: 16-19. The writer (and No!-I don’t care who wrote it) is saying there are 7 things that the Lord detests, and the last one (in 6:19) is this:

“…and him who sows strife among brothers.”

I don’t want to be someone the Lord detests because I have caused strife among my brothers and sisters.

I am open to discuss anything, but if the topic won’t help to save anyone or leads into an argument, I will simply state the answer doesn’t matter to me. God gave us each free will to decide what we will believe and what we will do, and we all will be held accountable for our decisions, no matter why we made them.

And that is my number one reason for basing my faith on the KISS rule.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share this message with others.

I am also running a campaign to send Bibles and Bible study materials to three Messianic synagogues in rural Uganda- please check out my Gofundme campaign at this address:

Help Ugandan Synagogues.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

 

 

What is the Talmud, Really?

The Talmud is a wonderful book of Jewish wisdom and biblical exegesis. Wikipedia describes it this way:

The Talmud has two components; the Mishnah (c. year 200 CE), a written compendium of Rabbinic Judaism’s Oral Torah; and the Gemara (circa year 500 CE), an elucidation of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Hebrew Bible.

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

The origin of the Talmud begins with the origin of the Torah- both were given to Moses on Mount Sinai, the difference being that the Torah was written down and the Talmud was passed down orally. Within Judaism, the Talmud is extensively used by the Orthodoxy and is often given more importance than the Torah, itself. The study of Talmud starts at about the same age as the study of Torah, between 6 and 9 years of age, and the Talmud is considered to be scripture by many Orthodox Jews.

The Mishna is where we get Halacha (The Way to Walk), which are the rabbinic rules that Jews live by. These are traditional activities that stem from the rabbinic interpretation of how we are to follow the laws God gave in the Torah. For example, the Torah tells us to treat animals humanely and which animals we can use for sacrifice, but nowhere in the Torah does it tell us how to humanely kill the animal. The Talmud explains how to perform the Shechitah, which is the traditional way to kill the sacrifice: it is quick, nearly painless and very humane. This is just one example of how the Talmud “fills in the gaps” in the Torah regarding the manner in which we are to live according to God’s instructions.

The Talmud is, as I stated above, a wonderful book. But it is not scripture, and here is the simplest proof I have of that- God’s word never changes; it is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. However, within the Talmud, you would be hard pressed to find any two opinions that match.
Here is a sample of a page from the Talmud:

This page has at its heart the Torah, which is surrounded by rabbinic interpretation and commentary, which is itself surrounded by other rabbinic interpretation and commentary.  At one point in Jewish history, there were two schools of Talmudic interpretation: the House of Shammai and the House of Hillel. They both lived during the time of Messiah, being born in the last century BCE and dying sometime in the first century CE.  Their two “houses” had very different thoughts, but together have been critical in the shaping of the understanding of Talmud, today.

Now, let’s get back to the original question: what is the Talmud, really?  The Talmud, really, is a commentary on the Torah. That’s it.

It starts with what God tells us in the Torah then expands and expounds on it, telling us what the Rabbi making the commentary believes the Torah portion he is interpreting really means, and how we should go about living that instruction in our daily life.

There are many other things in the Talmud, as well. There is mythology, superstitions, and demonology. Some examples of the superstitious traditions within Judaism that come from the Talmud are the breaking of the glass when getting married, spitting three times when hearing bad news, and placing salt in the corner or rooms and pockets to ward off evil spirits.

The main purpose of the Talmud is to help us follow God’s instructions properly, and that is, in my opinion, its saving grace. Despite the traditions it creates, the superstitious activities and the confusion, it is a good book to have and to study in order to better understand the Jewish mindset. And the wisdom of the Elders that it contains is of immeasurable use for all those who want to understand both Jews and God better.

The Talmud is an important book, full of wisdom and tradition which define the Jewish mindset and lifestyle. Use it for your Bible study and to better understand the basis of the traditions of Judaism; respect the wisdom and ignore the drek.

In the end, though, the Talmud is a nothing more than a commentary and, as such, must be taken with a grain of salt: you can use some of the salt in your pocket.

Thank you for being here, and please share me out to your friends and family. Subscribe to the website and my YouTube channel, and please don’t hesitate to comment on what I say: all I ask is that you be nice.

Also please check out the Gofundme campaign I am currently running to help send Bibles, prayer shawls and Bible study materials to three Messianic Synagogues in rural Uganda. Here is the link:
Help Messianic Ugandans

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Choose to Believe

All through my early years, I felt that something was missing when I went to Shul on Shabbat or for the High Holy Days services. I recited the prayers but always wondered why I needed to speak to God using someone else’s words. Couldn’t I pray to God from my heart? Why did I have to repeat what someone else wrote in order to have God hear me?

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

In 1996, after having gone through multiple issues in my life, including a failed business resulting in personal bankruptcy, then a failed marriage, I decided that it was time to make up my mind about God, and this Jesus guy I had heard so much about, both good (from friends who were saved) and bad (from every Jewish person I ever knew.)

God helped in that he sent people with spiritual maturity who understood how hard it is for a Jewish person to hear about Jesus, and when someone gave me a Messianic Bible with the entire New Covenant bold-printed where it quoted from the Old Covenant (which was on every single page), I began to realize that what I had been taught about Jesus, who is really this Jewish guy named Yeshua, was all wrong.

In 1997, I decided I would accept that Yeshua is the Messiah, but praying to him (as most of the Christians I knew did) just didn’t seem right, and I was still uneasy with the whole idea, so I chose to be faithful. I remembered once hearing that if you smile, even if you are sad, just by smiling you will become happier. I thought, “Maybe this can work with prayer, as well?” so I started to pray to God, just as if I was a “true” Believer, and I also looked for a place to worship.

As with praying to Jesus, going to a church just didn’t seem right- I am Jewish, and Jews don’t go to church, so I went to the best source for finding things- the Yellow Pages. As I looked through it I came upon an entry that said “Messianic Synagogue”; there were two of them in my area, so I chose the one closest, called the Rabbi and made an appointment with him.

The synagogue was called Beth Emanuel, and I started to go there on Shabbat. It was VERY different than any synagogue I had ever been in. After attending for three months or so, I still hadn’t had any “revelation” or “divine intervention” in my life, and I was still waiting to be swept up in the Spirit or to have a miraculous intervention, as others I talked with had happened to them. Finally, at the end of one of the Shabbat services, the Rabbi asked anyone who wanted prayer to come forth. I went up and when he placed the oil on my head, I felt the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) enter my body. Really!  I felt it, a wisp of air (the proper translation of “Ruach” is “breath”) and a physical sensation of being totally ethereal came over me.

It wasn’t until much later that I realized my choice to believe was the leap of faith which God recognized and rewarded with his gift of his indwelling Spirit. I chose to reject what I had been told by my Elders and respected teachers my whole life and decided for myself what I would believe in. That was not so much a decision as it was a choice. I chose to be faithful, I chose to believe, and because my faith is based on a choice, I believe it is stronger than someone who believes based only on a miraculous event.

How can I say that? Isn’t a miracle more powerful than a choice? Well, maybe. But I believe someone who has been influenced by a miracle can be influenced by another miracle. In other words, if a miraculous event in my life made me believe in something, then another miraculous event could change my mind.

And we know that the Antichrist will perform many miraculous events.

I was not influenced by a miracle- I chose to believe. And because I am quick to make decisions and slow to change them (this is, according to Napoleon Hill, an indicator of good leadership), it will take more than just a miracle to convince me I should worship anyone other than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or accept anyone else as his Messiah other than Yeshua.

No one, no matter what they tell me or what miracle they perform, will change my mind.

This is why we must all learn the Bible, so that we know who God is and what he expects from us, and will be able to recognize his teachings and instructions when we hear them. The Son of Perdition will not teach God’s ways- oh, he may start that way, but he will change.  It is when that subtle change occurs that those who know the true meaning of God’s instructions and who have chosen to worship God will not be fooled into apostatizing.

Why do you believe in God and the Messiah? Is it because you are afraid of going to hell? That’s not enough reason to keep you from following the Enemy.

Is it because you want to be loved and accepted? That will be a stumbling block to you and you will be lured into accepting the Enemy’s lies because he will tell you how wonderful you are and all the rewards you will receive for following him.

Is it because you have been told you have to? If you believe because that is how you were raised, then you have no root in the Messiah or God. You may be a “good (whatever)” but your faith is rootless and when the Enemy comes, you will be told to believe in him. And, since that is how you have been trained to believe, you will accept his mark because all your life you have been told what to do and who to follow and how to follow him, without ever choosing for yourself.

The Enemy is powerful and he knows human weaknesses. The way not to be fooled is to know God’s instructions and to worship God because you want to! You must believe because you CHOOSE to believe, otherwise your faith is weak and the roots of your salvation are spread thin in loose soil.

Review your reasons for believing and make sure that it is your choice. And then choose not to believe anyone else. Faith is strongest when we are certain of our choice, and I believe that once you choose to accept God as your God, and Yeshua as your Messiah, then the miraculous events will come to you, and they will not be something to make you believe, but to confirm your choice.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share me out to all your friends and family.

Currently, I am trying to raise funds to send prayer shawls, Messianic Bibles and copies of my published books (which they have requested) to three Messianic Synagogues who are subscribers to my ministry and live in a rural part of Uganda. Here is the link to my GoFundMe campaign for this- please help these new Believers who are so poor they don’t even have computers or even Internet access:

Help Ugandan Believers

 

Thank you, again, and please don’t hesitate to comment…just be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Christian or Constantinian?

Wait a minute! Isn’t Constantine the guy who ran the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, where some of the modern Christian doctrines were first formalized?  Didn’t they say Christ was divine there? Didn’t they set up the Christian holidays, such as Easter?

(Actually, they had Easter but couldn’t decide what day to celebrate it.)

So if we are asking whether someone is Christian or Constantinian, isn’t that the same thing?

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

To answer this, let’s go to the Cloud and ask Wikipedia.

Here is what it says about Constantine (I have condensed this to save space):

Constantine was the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. Although he lived much of his life as a pagan, and later as a catechumen, he joined the Christian faith on his deathbed, being baptized by Eusebius of Nicomedia. He called the First Council of Nicaea in 325, which produced the statement of Christian belief known as the Nicene Creed. He has historically been referred to as the “First Christian Emperor”, and he did heavily promote the Christian Church.

As for the definition of Christianity, Wikipedia says:

Christianity is divided between Eastern and Western theology. In these two divisions, there are six branches: Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Oriental Orthodoxy, and Assyrians. Restorationism is sometimes considered the seventh branch.

To add to what Wikipedia says, within these major divisions there are many sects, such as Amish, Mennonites, Anabaptists, etc.  In all, there are over a dozen different religions that call themselves “Christian”, even though some Christian religions have beliefs in opposition to other Christian religious beliefs.

For the record, Judaism isn’t too far behind, with Chasidic, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Messianic (although the other sects of Judaism would not recognize Messianic Jews as being Jews.)

Getting back to the original question, let me set some ground rules. Christianity is, for the purposes of this discussion, following the teachings of Jesus Christ, who is Yeshua ha Mashiach. A Constantinian is someone who follows the doctrines of “The Church”, meaning the doctrines established at the Council of Nicaea and at Ecumenical councils since then. A Constantinian is someone who celebrates Christmas, Easter, Sunday Sabbath, ignores the Torah because it is just for Jews, fasts during Lent, obeys the 8th-day baptism, goes through Catechism, etc., and so forth.

Now we need to identify what is different, if anything, from the teachings of Yeshua and the doctrines of the “Church”, which I will refer to as Constantinian doctrine.

(Yes, I know Constantine did not create all the doctrines of the modern church, but for the purposes of this discussion we will use the term “Constantinian” to refer to modern church doctrine.)

Well, this is actually pretty simple to understand. If Christianity is following the teaching of Yeshua, then whatever is in the Old Covenant is Christianity because Yeshua didn’t teach anything else. In truth, there was nothing else to teach from- even the Talmud wasn’t written down in its complete form at that time. The Talmud is composed of the Mishna and the Gemara; the Mishna was written in 200 CE and the Gemara in 500 CE.

Everything in the New Covenant was not written until well after Yeshua was resurrected and raised back into the heavens; the earliest versions of the Gospels and letters from Shaul (Paul) to his newly formed Messianic congregations throughout the Middle East and Asia were not written until sometime around 50-60 CE. So, because there was no New Covenant, Yeshua could not have taught anything from it.

You might be thinking, “Well, DUH! Steve. Of course, he didn’t teach from the New Covenant, because what he taught became the New Covenant.”  I would say that makes sense, except for one thing- it is wrong.

Within the New Covenant, we have the Gospels, which are eye-witness accounts of the life and ministry of Yeshua, and the letters that were written by the Apostles, ending with John’s Revelation. Nearly 2/3 of the entire N.C. is made up of the letters from Shaul to the congregations he formed, and their intent was to help these newly converted Believers to stay on the course he set them upon, with regards to learning how to follow the teachings of Yeshua, which (as I stated earlier) are the instructions in the Torah.

The major source of confusion between Christianity (following Yeshua) and modern church doctrine (Constantinian) is that Shaul’s letters were not written to become doctrine, but were only meant to help guide these neophyte Believers in learning how to go from the gluttonous, sinful, sexually perverted lifestyle that they lived their whole lives as worshipers of paganistic gods to righteous, humble and self-controlled followers of God and Messiah. That’s quite a paradigm shift, and no one could do that “cold turkey.”  Shaul’s letters were never meant to be absolute and permanent doctrine but instead just “stepping stones”, designed to help get his congregations past their immediate problems and further along the pathway to living (what we would call today) a Jewish lifestyle.

When we compartmentalize God’s instructions in the Torah as “Jewish worship” we are restricting what God wanted to give the whole world to only about one-fourth of one percent of it. The Torah was given to the Jewish people to learn so that they, as a nation of priests to the world (Exodus 19:6) could bring it to everyone.

God has no religion, only those instructions for how to worship him and how to treat each other, and that is what Yeshua taught. The Pharisees had been teaching only the written word or the literal meaning of the Torah (called the P’ shat) but Yeshua taught us the spiritual meaning (called the Remes) so that we would know not just what God wanted us to do, but why we should be doing it.

For me, the answer to the original question is that “true” Christianity is the religion which follows what Yeshua taught, which means following the instructions found in the Torah, which the world would call Judaism.

That means Christianity is Judaism, but with one difference: Christians accept that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised to send, and the “mainstream” Jews do not. Given how many doctrinal differences there are just between Orthodox and Reform Jews, one would think that this difference (Yeshua being the Messiah) would not keep us that far apart, but it does. The reason is because of how Constantinian doctrine has become known as Christianity, which separated itself from Judaism so much that they became totally different religions.

If you call yourself a Christian but ignore the instructions in the Torah, you are a Constantinian. If you are a Gentile who accepts Yeshua as your Messiah and lives according to the Torah (i.e., a “Jewish” lifestyle and worship), you can call yourself a Hebraic Roots follower, a Messianic Gentile, or a Christian, but you are not a Constantinian. And, if you are Jewish (by blood), live according to the Torah and believe Yeshua is the Messiah, you are not a Christian or a Constantinian- you are a Messianic Jew, which means you are still a Jew.

There you have it.  A Constantinian will follow the modern day Christian doctrines, but a “true” Christian will follow the Torah. Also, a “true” Christian and a Jew should worship and live the same way, and only disagree on the matter of Yeshua.

One day, when the Messiah comes to straighten this whole “religion” thing out once and for all, we will have no more religions, no more doctrines, no more confusion, and no more hatred and bigotry. We will only have God, Messiah, and eternal peace.

Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

Thank you for being here and please remember to subscribe. Comments are always welcomed, so long as you can be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Psalm 83- Then and Now.

The Psalms are a wonderful collection of the poetry David created, as well as from other authors. Moses is credited to have written Psalm 90, and 12 Psalms (Psalm 50 and Psalms 73-83) are credited to Asaph.  Asaph was one of the Temple leaders in charge of the musicians during the time of King David.

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

It struck me that many of these psalms Asaph wrote don’t seem to be at the time of King David. They talk often of how God has abandoned his people and ask for his intervention to save them from their adversaries.

Here are some examples (all my quotes are from the CJB):

Psalm 74:

(1) Why have you rejected us forever, God? ;

(9-11) We see no signs, there is no prophet anymore; none of us knows how long it will last. How much longer, God, will the foe jeer at us? Will the enemy insult our name forever?

Psalm 79:

(1) God, the pagans have entered your heritage. They have defiled your holy temple and turned Yerushalayim into rubble.

(5) How long, Adonai? Will you be angry forever?

Psalm 80:

(15-17) God of armies, please come back! Look from heaven, see, and tend this vine! (referring to Yehuda) Protect what your right hand planted, the son you made strong for yourself.

 

It is clear to me that the references in these psalms could not have been at the time of David, or even Solomon since the kingdom did not have these issues of abandonment. However, when we consider that the Bible often refers to descendants using the name of their ancestor, even when it is generations later, these psalms could have been written by the descendants of Asaph, who would have been fulfilling the same role in the Second Temple during the time of Nehemiah as the original Asaph did under King David. If this is the case, then the references to God having judged, punished and abandoned the people, with their enemies having taken over, would make sense.

Now we come to Psalm 83. As I read this psalm, I was not transported back to the days of the Second Temple; on the contrary, I was thinking about today.

Verses 5-9 say this:

They say, “Come, let’s wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” With one mind they plot their schemes; the covenant they have made is against you- the tents of Edom and the Yishma’elim, Mo’av and the Hagrim, G’val, ‘Amon and ‘Amalek, P’leshet with those living in Tzor; Ashur too is allied with them, to reinforce the descendants of Lot. 

Who are these countries today? They are Jordan, Iraq, and the surrounding countries. The plans they made to wipe out God’s people way back in the time of Nehemiah (about 450 BCE) are still being made this very day. Modern-day attacks are no different than what these ancient civilizations tried to do. Today, they fire rockets to kill innocent civilians, they build tunnels to invade the country, and there are even political attacks from European countries (such as the Brexit movement) and the United Nations. There are even attacks from within our own Congress! These recent activities were, and are, intended to do just what the Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, and Romans tried to do, which is to destroy God’s people.

Yet, Israel remains. And it is not just surviving, but thriving! And where are the Babylonians? The Philistines? The Romans? The Assyrians?

Let’s not stop there: what about the Crusades? The Spanish Inquisition? And, of course, the Nazi’s- where are they all today?  Gone, and what is left of their country is no longer a world power. In fact, some of these countries are barely surviving.

Psalm 83 ends with a request to God to shatter and destroy the enemies of Israel, to let them be ashamed forever, and to let them know that “you alone, whose name is Adonai, is the Most High over all the Earth.” 

I see the End Days approaching, prophecy coming true as the whole world seems to be reviving Anti-Semitism and coming against Israel. This is what the Prophets told us would happen, what Messiah said would happen, and what was revealed to John when he had his vision on the island of Patmos. God is done judging Israel- now he is turning his wrath upon the nations of the world, the Goyim, for their part in all they have done to try to destroy the apple of God’s eye.

We should be calling out to God for his help, but not to stop the terror. Yes, pray for Israel, but not that it finds a peace which men make, but that it finds the eternal peace God will provide for it. That means it must go through the fire, so pray for the trip to be swift.

We are going to be hurt. Israel and the Jewish people, as well as those that support them,  will not be judged, but as the nations are judged the Jewish people will feel the brunt of the hatred that the nations will have for God’s punishment.  It is inevitable, it is no longer coming but has already arrived, and it will get worse! It’s fine to pray and cry for relief, but I recommend you also steel yourself for the coming tsuris. Pray for strength, pray to maintain your faith, and pray that God’s work is finished swiftly.

I do not look forward to the destruction, strife, and evil that will be perpetrated in the near future. No one wants this to happen, but it is God’s plan and I will not turn my face away from God. I do not want to hear someone tell me, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” There has never been a lasting peace between men, so why waste time asking for it? And why even expect that it could happen?

Do the right thing and ask God to send the Messiah so we can have eternal peace, the kind that only God can create.

Thank you for being here, and please subscribe (if you haven’t already); don’t neglect to check out the books I have written. If you like what you are hearing on my ministry website, you will also enjoy my books.  And I always welcome comments and conversation- all I ask is that you be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Jesus is Not a Horse.

With a title like this, I can only imagine what you must be thinking.  Is this picture going through your mind right now?

 

    

 

And the next thing you must be thinking is: “Why would Steven even think such a thing?”

 

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

 

Well, the answer is because I have seen, more than once, someone posting that when we pray to “Jesus” we are really praying to a horse because in Hebrew “Jesus” means “horse.”

Today, I am going to put to rest this ridiculous and absurd statement, which shows nothing more than a total lack of knowledge of the Hebrew language.

First of all, let’s review the type of words known as Homophones. A homophone is a word that sounds like another word but doesn’t have the same meaning. Some examples are:

blue and blew; you and ewe; brake and break; flour and flower,

and there are many, many more examples. As you can see, just because two words sound the same doesn’t mean that they mean the same thing.

The name “Jesus” is not a real name; in fact, it has a very strange etymology.

I know there will be different opinions on the etymology of the name “Jesus”, so I would ask that you who disagree with the one I am about to propose please do not comment and argue the validity of my usage here because it is not relevant to the topic. 

The Hebrew name given to the Messiah born of Joseph and Mary is Yeshua, which in Hebrew means (essentially) “the salvation of God.” When the Apostles wrote down their eye-witness accounts of the ministry and life of the Messiah, as well as the Epistles, written to the Messianic congregations throughout the Middle East and Asia, the language used was Greek. However, the Greek language had no male name that meant “the salvation of God”; in fact, not only was there no name that “Yeshua” could be translated into, but the Greek religion and culture had nothing in it that even came close to meaning “salvation of God.” Their gods didn’t do things like that. So, what they did was to create a transliteration, which is a word spelled so that it sounds like the word being translated; in effect, they created a homophone to sound like Yeshua.

That Greek homophone for “Yeshua” was”Jesu”, which is pronounced “hey-soo”. When the Greek was translated into Latin, Jesu became Jesus (Hey-soo to hey-soos.)

With me so far?

Next, we need to look at the Hebrew word for horse, which is סןס, pronounced “suse” In Hebrew, “the” is the letter Het (ה) placed in front of the word it identifies and is pronounced “hah”; therefore, in Hebrew “the horse” is pronounced “Hah-suse.”

Sounds like hey-soos, but isn’t hey-soos.

 

 

So there you have it! Those people who say praying to Jesus is really praying to a horse believe a homophone is a synonym, demonstrating such a total lack of knowledge of Hebrew that they, themselves, are a horse.

Or, more correctly, one specific part of a horse, and in case you don’t know which part, I will give you a hint: it’s the part that goes through the stable door last.

Normally I post things more spiritual in nature, and I suppose the spiritual aspect to today’s lesson in homophones and their misuse, is that we are all easily led astray to believe what seems easy to accept. In truth, sometimes that which sounds very “deep” and mystical is also something people desire to know. To “understand” a hidden message is to feel superior, which is how most humans like to feel. To think that we can say the name “Jesus “really means “a horse” might seem appealing, especially those who (I admit, like me) have always been uncomfortable with the name “Jesus”, but in truth, it is an insult to the Messiah and to God.

So be careful what you accept as truth from people: always check out what you hear, whether it sounds absolutely true or absolutely ridiculous because you never know what something really means until you find it out for yourself.

And what you believe, whether you have been fooled into believing it or not, is what God will hold you accountable for.

Thank you for being here, and please subscribe to the website and to my YouTube channel.

If you enjoy these messages, you will also enjoy my books, so please check them out and buy them.

I welcome comments and even arguments, so long as you are nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Am I Preaching to the Choir?

I write these messages three times a week. They are automatically posted to the Messianic Moment page associated with my “public” Facebook page, and I share them on a number of discussion groups of which I am a member.

Recently, as I was going through my Facebook notifications, writing my opinion and answering comments, it struck me that although I am sharing, learning and teaching in these groups, as are the other members, I realized that I was preaching to the choir.

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

After all, aren’t the members of these groups already Believers? Yes, they are (or at least they profess to be), and aren’t the statements and interpretations we share staying in this group and (maybe) not being taken into the darkness, where they are most desperately needed?

We who are members of discussion groups and go to congregational meetings, whether that be a Bible study in someone’s home, a synagogue or a church, are there with “birds of a feather”, so to speak, and even though we can edify, educate and support each other, that is not the only place where we are supposed to be talking about God, Messiah and the future of people. The place we are really supposed to be spreading this word is out there in the world- to the uninitiated, the incorrectly taught, the atheist, the unbeliever and the lost.

I have this blog designed to automatically post to my Messianic Moment page, but will now start to make sure it is also posted on my regular, public Facebook page so that all my friends, my family, and acquaintances can see it.

If you find yourself absorbed in discussion groups but not posting or sharing posts from those groups to your public Facebook friends (the ones that are worth sharing- be selective), I would ask you to start doing so. And talk about God, using discernment and discretion, at work, at play, and everywhere you go, to both those you know and to strangers.

I will often take something from the Bible that fits into the conversation and add it as something I have read or heard someone say once. I wait for a response while observing their body language, and if they seem interested I will tell them it comes from the Bible. Then I again wait to see if they ask where or who said it, and if so then I can segue into talking about God and Messiah, gently and in a way to maintain their interest through asking them questions. I will also ask if I can give them my card, which has my logo and my website URL.

Sharing with like-minded people is always comforting, and it is a way we can recharge our spiritual batteries and strengthen us to go back into the darkness and shed light there. Our community meetings are for worship (of course), but also for recharging our spirits, learning new discussion and teaching techniques, and getting answers to objections we have faced but couldn’t respond to. Being strengthened to take the Word to the world is a very important part of what the Believing community is for. Our main goal and our main calling is not to be with each other, but to be out there, in the world, in the darkness and amid the unsaved and unsavory, in order to be their light and show them the pathway to salvation.

I will finish with this: if you haven’t really been sharing what you learn in discussion with other Believers with the non-Believers, get off your tuchas and spread the word. Nothing can grow until it has been planted.

Thank you for being here, and please, if you like what I am saying here, subscribe and share my messages. I also welcome your comments and only ask that you be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Is the Whole New Covenant Really Necessary?

Many Christians have been taught almost exclusively about God and the Messiah from the New Covenant writings. This is like reading the sequel to a book without reading the first book.

By the way, there won’t be a video today because I am not home.

The New Covenant, in Hebrew called the B’rit Chadashah, starts with the  4 Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and then has letters written by Shaul (Paul), James, Luke, and John. The letters written by Shaul make up nearly 2/3 of the entire B’rit Chadashah.

The letters written by the Apostles (known as the Epistles) were written to new Messianic congregations throughout the Middle East and parts of Asia. They were addressed to specific congregations to help them overcome specific problems they were having. As such, unlike the Gospels and Revelation, these letters are about God, Messiah and the Torah but are not from God or from Messiah. They are from the leaders of the Messianic Movement (mostly from Shaul), reminding and leading these troubled congregations back into proper worship and social behavior.

This is important to know: their inclusion as scripture and God inspired writings was a decision made by Gentiles who had been taught that Christianity (which is what the Messianic movement of the First Century had become) was separate and unique from Judaism.

The Gospels are absolutely necessary for us to have because they complete the story God began with creation, and the promise to Abraham that his seed would be a blessing to the entire world. After all, what better blessing could there be than the Messiah who provides forgiveness of sin and the opportunity to be with God for all eternity?

The Old Covenant, known in Hebrew as the Tanakh, is also absolutely necessary for everyone to know because it is God’s story of creation, and in the Torah (the first 5 books) God gives us his instructions regarding how we are to worship him, and how we are to treat each other. It is the ultimate User’s Manual for salvation.

In the Tanakh we have the story of creation, how God chose a righteous man and made a nation of priests from him, whose purpose was to bring to the entire world God’s instructions, which he gave in the Torah. The Tanakh also tells us of how God saved his people from slavery and attack, over and over, so that they would survive to fulfill their purpose. Even when they sinned and abandoned their God, causing him to punish them with dispersion throughout the globe, he always maintained a remnant. That remnant eventually was returned to their homeland, Israel, waiting for the Messiah God promised throughout the Tanakh.

This is now where the New Covenant, the B’rit Chadashah comes in. The Gospels are each an eyewitness account of the beginning of the ministry of the Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus), of his teachings, and his eventual death by crucifixion. That death was a sacrifice he allowed in order to replace the need to bring an animal to the Temple that was in Jerusalem.

Here is a good example of why it is so important to know the Tanakh if you want to really understand the Gospels. In the Tanakh we learn the sacrificial system is a 5-Step process:

  1. You have to sin (not that I encourage it, but there can be no forgiveness of sin without a sin, right?);
  2. You have to recognize that you have sinned and “own” it;
  3. You have to repent of having committed that sin;
  4. You then bring an animal specified in the Torah to the location where God has placed his name, which from the time of King David was in Jerusalem; and
  5. You then ask forgiveness of that sin by means of the blood of the sacrifice.

Because you know the Tanakh, you can now see that when Yeshua sacrificed himself, he did NOT replace the entire sacrificial process, but only the need to bring an animal to the Temple where God had placed his name. And that was essential because within a single lifetime after Yeshua’s work was done, the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, and remains that way today. No Temple, no chance for forgiveness under the Torah, but through Yeshua, that forgiveness is made possible.

Back to the main message: Revelation is also needed so that we can understand what will happen in the End Days, called the Acharit HaYamim. As for the rest of the New Covenant, I really don’t think it is necessary to know in order to understand God’s plan of salvation.

I know that many are thinking I just blasphemed, but I don’t think I have. There has been so much misquoting, misunderstanding, and wrongful teaching from the Epistles that have led people to sin when they think they are being righteous, that I really think all we need from the New Covenant is the Gospels (I would even consider leaving John out, altogether) and Revelation.

All we need to know is that God is in charge and created us to worship him, but gave us free will to chose whether or not we will. He provided the instructions we need (in the Torah) to live as he wants us to live and a Messiah so that when we screwed up (as he knew we would), we could still make it right.

The letters that Shaul and the other Apostles wrote help us to understand some of the issues that the new Believers faced as they converted from their paganistic lifestyle to one that was righteous, but are not direct commandments from God. They are men telling other men how they should act based on what they know of God, which was (by the way) solely from the Tanakh. There was no New Covenant when the New Covenant stories were happening.

So, to finish this, we all need to know the Tanakh to be able to understand the New Covenant. We cannot know what Yeshua meant when he taught from the Tanakh unless we know the Tanakh.

For the record, and to be “fair”, there are parts of the Tanakh I would question whether or not we really need them, but that’s for another message.

Look…I am not saying to throw away the entire middle of your New Covenant Bibles. I am saying that what you need to do is make sure you read the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. But in the New Covenant you should concentrate on the Gospels and Revelation.

Once you know the Tanakh, when you read Shaul’s letters you will correctly understand the issues that Shaul wrote about to his fledging congregations, and how they did not change any of the instructions or requirements that God gave us but only helped these newly converting Believers to slowly work their way into proper worship.

After all, if you want to talk about a paradigm shift, think of what is was like for someone following the decadent, sexually uninhibited and gluttonous Roman lifestyle to become a righteous person! Really, who could make that change cold turkey?

Thank you for being here and please, if you like what you read, subscribe and share this ministry with others. I also welcome your comments… just be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Every Family Has One.

Every family has one, and that “one” I am talking about is the “Black Sheep”; the one member of the family that has wandered off, done wrong and as a result has ostracized himself (or herself) from their family.

Today’s message is based on an event that recently happened to a family I have known for a long time.

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

From this large family, one brother had lied, cheated and even stole from his siblings, and abandoned the children he produced from different wives. After years of this type of behavior, he ultimately lost the trust and friendship of every one of his siblings, exes, and children. Essentially, he had used up his ability to mooch off his family. When that happened, he re-connected with a woman who had stalked him for many years (she also had her own issues) so that he was able to find the ultimate Meal Ticket. For nearly a decade no one in the family had heard from him.

This past week one of the family members was contacted by the police in the area where he was living to advise them that he had been found in his apartment, deceased.

Not one of the family wanted to claim the body, yet all were saddened by his passing. He died alone, he never married his partner who had died years before (he never let anyone know this), and they know almost nothing about his life for the past 10 years.

I want to quote just the first 4 verses from David’s Psalm 36 (CJB):

For the leader. By David, the servant of ADONAI: Crime speaks to the wicked. I perceive this in my heart; before his eyes there is no fear of God. For, the way he sees it, crime makes his life easy that is, until his wrongs are discovered; then, he is hated.  His words are wrong and deceitful; he has stopped being wise and doing good. He devises trouble as he lies in bed; so set is he on his own bad way that he doesn’t hate evil.

This morning when I read this psalm, I thought of this man. A man who had been a friendly, sweet and gregarious person as a youth, but who somewhere had turned from that path. He became solitary, self-centered, irresponsible, and so lazy that he believed everyone else in the world was responsible to make sure he got whatever it was he wanted. And if that meant to cheat, lie or even steal from them, that was OK. His moral compass wasn’t pointing in the right direction; in truth, he had no morals at all. He had given in to evil and subsequently ostracized himself from his entire family, all of whom loved him.

They wondered how he could have done this to himself, as well as how he could have done this to them. He was such a fine brother at first, but he changed.

Do you remember what Adonai (God) warned Cain about in Genesis  4:7? He said:

If you are doing what is good, shouldn’t you hold your head high? And if you don’t do what is good, sin is crouching at the door – it wants you, but you can rule over it.”

 

The reason I am sharing this story with you today is that this could be about any one of us! Sin is always there, like a stalking lion, and it takes very little to turn from the path of righteousness. The world is an evil and cursed place, where sinfulness is not just accepted, but expected! It is so easy to do evil, and so hard to do what is right, and once we choose to do evil it becomes easier to do more evil.

Yes, Virginia- there is a Dark Side.

But we can overcome the darkness with the light of the Lord, the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) which we can receive simply by asking for it, with an open and humble heart that wants to do good and be obedient to the Lord. Accepting Yeshua (Jesus) as the true Messiah God promised to send, we can then find forgiveness for sin and be led by God’s own spirit.

But there is a catch. Before we can receive forgiveness through Messiah Yeshua, and before we can receive the Holy Spirit, we first have to do something: we have to repent. And not just for what we have done, but for all time- we have to do T’shuvah (turn from evil ) and only desire to do only what is right.

To be saved from yourself, you must choose to want to do good: not good as the world sees good, but good according to God.

What does God see as good? It’s simple- love God and love each other. When we truly love someone more than we love ourself, we will do for that person what we would like them to do for us. The “Golden Rule” is a great start, but we need more than that. There also has to be obedience to God’s word, the instructions he gave us in the Torah which define what he sees as “good.” Yeshua said no one is good but God (Luke 18:19), and God tells us many times throughout the Tanakh (Old Covenant) that we should be holy as he is holy; for me, this means that even though God is the only one that is truly “good”, he wants us to emulate him as best as we can.

There will be more for this family of the “black sheep” brother to suffer through. They need to decide how to dispose of the remains, to find out if he even has an estate, and if so what to do if that estate is worth trying to salvage from being escheated to the State he lived in. Someone will have to go through his possessions, and it will be very hard because of all the remorse they feel. There is remorse over the fact that that he did not change his ways and return, as with the Prodigal Son; remorse that he died all alone; and, I am sure some (if not all) feel remorse that they didn’t do more to intercede in order to put him on the right path. I am sure they feel they shouldn’t have lost contact, that despite what he did and what he was they should have at least kept in touch, somehow.

I can tell you that if it were up to me, I would tell them they did all they could. I know that each sibling was lied to and cheated, and some were outrightly robbed. He chose to be that way, and there was nothing more they could have done- it wasn’t anyone’s fault but his own that he ended up that way. Despite our best efforts, we can’t change people. The best we can do is try not to be hurt by them, and let them know that we are always there for them when they want to repent.

I know for a fact from my personal contact with this family that each sibling wanted him back in the family, and I believe their brother knew that.

I pray that by sharing this sad story we can all remember and be aware of how easy it is for anyone to fall from grace. And once we have fallen, it is very, VERY hard to get back on the path of righteousness. Even with friends and family that love you, when you constantly misuse that love you will end up cutting yourself off from what could be the best chance you have to be saved from eternal damnation.

Perhaps, in the last minutes of his life, this poor soul was able to repent and ask forgiveness. We can only hope that he did so- no one knows what the last moments of life are like, and perhaps God, who is so understanding and desiring to forgive, gives us all one last chance. That is a wonderful thought.

Personally, I don’t think that’s how it is so I will do everything I can to stay on the right path! If you know someone who is a “Black Sheep”, try to keep in touch with him or her. Don’t allow them to separate themselves from your life; you never know- they may choose to repent. And for someone trying to get up out of the pit, it really helps to know there is someone’s hand reaching out to grab hold of yours and help pull you up.

Thank you for being here, please do not hesitate to comment (just be nice) and share this story out to others, and please subscribe to this website and to my YouTube channel, as well.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

PS: Please pray for this family to forgive this man so they can have peace in their heart.