How Should We Feel When Losing a Loved One?

The other day someone posted and asked, “How should a Believer handle the death of a parent?”

I am going to give my opinion, and if I think of a biblical passage I may use it, but for the most part, this is going to be more like an opinion piece than a message.

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

First off, when we are sad because someone who is close to us dies, it is a selfish thing. I have been to way too many funerals, and I don’t recall ever hearing anyone say how sad it is for the deceased person to be dead. We don’t cry because they are dead, we cry because we will no longer be able to have them in our lives.

Now, that probably isn’t a tremendously shocking or new revelation, so let’s add in the part about how a Believer should feel.

I believe that someone who knows the Lord and has accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah should be happy for the person who has died. They should celebrate that person’s death with thankfulness. Thankful for the presence they had in your life, and thankful for their (now) eternal presence with the Lord.

One exception to this is if the person who died was not saved. We can’t always know absolutely about the state of someone’s salvation because who knows what happens in those last seconds of life, between consciousness and death; but, in most cases, we can be pretty certain about whether or not they are saved.

Assuming that the deceased was saved, as a Believer we should put aside our own selfish desire to maintain the deceased’s presence in our lives and be thankful for the time we did have together. We should review the happy memories and joyfully remember things we did together.

Here is a biblical reference about how to approach the death of a loved one- do what Job did, and immediately give thanks to God. After all, God put you and that person together, so even though they are gone, you should be thankful for having known them.

It is normal to feel sad about the loss, but we should be able to overcome that sadness quickly if we concentrate on how happy they must be in the presence of God, Almighty, and seeing Yeshua face-to-face. Wow! Can you imagine how wonderful that must be?

Therefore, my response to the original question is that a Believer should be joyful when a loved one (who is saved) dies, and also feel thankful that you had that person in your life for as long as you did. Sadness will creep up on us because human nature is a selfish and self-centered thing, but the sadness can be replaced by joy when we think of their feelings instead of our own. That is something a Believer should be able to do for anyone, alive or dead, i.e. put someone else’s feelings ahead of our own.

For those who die and weren’t saved, but who we loved anyway, well…in that case, sadness probably is the proper feeling. Again, not so much for yourself, but for the one who has passed on and will have to face the final judgment without Yeshua as their intercessor. That is truly a sad thing.

Death is a part of life. In fact, life is really only a precursor to death. Think about it: we live for a relatively short time, but we are dead forever. When we think about that, we can answer another question, the age-old one, which is  “Why are we here?”

The answer is you are here to decide where you will spend eternity.

And since no one will never know how much time God will give them to make that decision, it is one that they should make as quickly as possible.

 

Thank you for being here and please don’t forget to subscribe.

I will be closing out the gofundme campaign to send Bibles, prayer shawls and other Bible study materials to three Messianic synagogues in Uganda by the end of next week. The link to donate is here:

Help Ugandan Messianic Synagogues 

So far I have barely enough to pay for the cost of mailing these things to them and will end up having to shorten their list of supplies, so if you haven’t donated, please give something. Every little bit helps, so please consider giving ten dollars, twenty, five, a thousand..whatever you feel led to give to help these newly Messianic people who want to know God better and learn to worship him as he said we should.

Thank you again for being here, share me out and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

K.I.S.S.

Can I assume that most, if not all of you reading this know what K.I.S.S stands for?  If not, I’ll explain: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Of course, being Messianic I prefer to say: Keep It Simple, Schlemiel!

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

As humans, we tend to complicate things that do not need to be complicated. I see this often in the postings that people make on Facebook.  I see constant posts about the “correct” name of God, about the fact that the Sabbath is not on Sunday, about the Christian “church” changing the laws, and many other truths that are stated over and over…and over. These topics are important for people to know, but they are not really that important.

When it comes to deciding what is important and what is not, I have my own “Acid Test” question, which is:

“How does this affect my salvation?”

And here is where many people don’t get it: just because something is important to you doesn’t mean it is important to know. Too many people (and to be truthful, I could also be guilty of this, even as I am writing it) pridefully will present their own idea of what is right (or wrong) with the “church” or a particular tradition, or how to pronounce a name or whatever as being of the highest importance.  And I am not saying these things are not important, but after a while, there has to be something else to write about other than the same topic over and over and over, especially when that topic will not save anyone or bring them into a proper, truthful knowledge of who God is, who Yeshua (Jesus) is, or how they can find peace of mind and heart in this life and complete joy throughout eternity.

If something is going to be repeated, what needs to be repeated is that which brings people into communion with God. We need to repeat the message that sin can only be forgiven through Yeshua; we need to remind people that God will not allow those who sin unrepentantly (whether they know it or not) to be saved; and even something as simple as exclaiming that God does exist, Yeshua is the Messiah God promised to send, and only by faith in them both can anyone have a chance of surviving the first death.

These things definitely affect your salvation, and these are the types of topics we should be concentrating on. Anything beyond or added to this knowledge is good-to-know stuff, but not need-to-know stuff.

Let me state this again- I am NOT against knowing as much as we can about God, Yeshua, the Bible, biblical history, ancient cultures, paleo-Hebrew, …WHATEVER!…so long as it doesn’t lead people into a Gnostic mindset and generate arguments that are useless because, when all is said and done, they won’t save anyone from destruction.  We need to help new and existing Believers in the Lord stay focused on God and Yeshua, and one of the most important things of all: how to properly interpret the Bible.

It isn’t useful to just know what the Bible says, we need to know how to properly interpret what is said in the Bible, to use Circles of Context so that we don’t get stuck on a single sentence. We need to read every sentence as part of the one before and the one after it, as part of the entire thought, as part of the entire chapter, entire book, and the entire Bible. We need to know who was writing to whom, and how it all fits in hermeneutically with the rest of the Bible.

To know the proper way to interpret the Bible ABSOLUTELY will affect your salvation! For example, the typical Christian interpretation of the letter Shaul (Paul) wrote to the Romans is that it is a polemic against the Torah; however, understanding who Shaul was and to whom he was writing this letter (and why), it then becomes clear that he was actually writing an apologetic for the Torah!

This is what I am talking about when I say it is important to know how to properly interpret the Bible because the proper interpretation of Romans will lead you to obedience and salvation and the improper interpretation will lead you to sinfulness and destruction.

The purpose of my ministry is not to change anyone’s mind or to convert people to Judaism or to convince anyone of anything: it is in response to Hosea 4:6:

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” 

Let me finish today’s message with this: knowledge is useless unless it is used correctly, and when it comes to God, Yeshua and salvation, that means keeping it simple. Stay focused on what edifies, what leads one towards the narrow gate, and what keeps one on the narrow path.

Thank you for being here, and if you haven’t already done so, please subscribe. Also, share this out with friends and family, especially the ones who are looking for answers.

And please help with my campaign to send Bibles and study materials to Ugandans in three Messianic synagogues who subscribe to this ministry and have asked me for help. I can’t afford to send too much to them and need help. Please share this out with your church or synagogue, send it to your contacts and help bless these poor people who don’t even have computers to get closer to God. Here is a link to that campaign:

Help for Messianic Ugandan Synagogues

 

Thank you, again, and until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Which is More Important?

Like many people, I get my best ideas when I am doing something totally different than working, such as when I am in the shower or riding my bicycle.

The other day, as I was riding along on my bike and praying, I started to think about which would be more important for us as Believers to do: is it more important to not sin or is it more important to repent of our sin?

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

The answer seems obvious- just don’t sin. If we don’t sin, then we have nothing to repent of and nothing to be concerned about because not sinning is the pathway to salvation.

I know- you are saying that we are saved by faith, not works, but the truth is if we lived a sinless life, we would be demonstrating perfect faith, wouldn’t we? In fact, if we lived a sinless life, as Yeshua did, we could be certain of salvation.

Of course, it then struck me that there is a significant fly in the ointment with regard to living a sinless life, which is this:  no one can live a sinless life.

TIME OUT

There are just too many places where the Bible tells us that we all sin, so I am not going to quote chapter and verse. If you need to verify that we all sin, do the research. It will be a good experience for you.

TIME IN

I often say “We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less“, and that is how I try to live out my life, but even that is hard to do. So what is left to us? Repentance, and trying harder.

The obvious answer is not the right answer because even though living a sinless life is what we want to do, it is not possible, so the most important thing to do is to repent. And I mean REAL repentance, not just saying”

 

 

and going on with our life as if we did nothing wrong, thinking a simple apology is enough.

It isn’t. God sees and knows the heart and minds of everyone, so if you are not really sorry for having sinned against him- and every sin is first and foremost a sin against God- he will know. He won’t accept insincerity and he can’t be fooled.

And it gets worse: many, many people have their religious leaders telling them that if they confess their sins they can be forgiven. Well, that is biblically accurate, but the truth is that we have to really feel bad about sinning, not just confess we did it and continue to sin. Unrepentant repentance may get you absolved by a Priest or given the “OK” by your Pastor, but it won’t hold water with the Big Guy upstairs. As for mainstream Jews, meaning Jews who haven’t accepted Yeshua yet, repentance is necessary but they also have to accept Yeshua as their Messiah because, without him, there is no means to be forgiven since the Jerusalem temple is gone, and that was the only place (according to the Torah) where a sin sacrifice could be accepted.

Without Yeshua’s substitutionary sacrifice, no one (Jew or Gentile) can be forgiven of their sin.

Therefore, the answer to my original question is this: it is more important to be truly repentant than it is to not sin because we cannot avoid sinning but we can always be repentant. And when we really feel bad about something, it motivates us to better discipline ourselves to not do that something, again. True- it doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s no excuse to stop trying.

That old cop-out “I am what I am” may be OK for Popeye, but not for those who want to please God.

Thank you for being here and please remember to subscribe. Also, I am going to have to wind down my campaign to send Bibles and Bible study materials to poor Ugandans who follow this ministry, so please send something to help me to help them at the link below:

Ugandan Ministry Appeal

Please help- I don’t usually send money through the Internet, but this is a legit cause, and I barely have 1/3 of what I need. I will end up paying for the copies of my books they want out of my own pocket, so please help with money for Messianic Bibles and prayer shawls, and especially just to help defray the exorbitant cost of mailing these items.

Remember that God blesses those who bless others.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

What I Did During My Summer Vacation

I am back from a week in Ireland, having been on a bus with 27 other family members driving nearly 1,000 miles in 6 days, staying at 5 different hotels and spending a total of 16 hours on planes. OY!

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

As we traveled, we saw so many farms, green pastures, and even the mountains (of which there are many) are green. There are cows and sheep, and the occasional horse; the amount of peaceful scenery is enough to lower your blood pressure.

Yet, underneath this bucolic scene is a roiling cauldron of hatred and distrust, left over from the bad feelings of what our guide called the “Troubled Times”, which was when the Northern Irelanders (Protestants) and the Republic of Ireland people (Catholics) were at war with each other.

And it was a war- in fact, it has been officially declared as a war.

Our guide, Murt, was from the Republic of Ireland and a Catholic, yet he was fair in his narrative of the atrocities that both sides caused.

The issue was not originally a religious one but was, in fact, a political separation. The English had taken possession of lands that had Irish living on them, and when that happened British landowners made the Irish people slaves forcing them to pay taxes, which paid the tax the landowners had to pay to the Crown. This tax was based on how many people were living on the land, so when things got tough, such as during times of famine, the Landowners would evict the people and destroy the houses so that they didn’t have to pay tax on them. In the meanwhile, with no house, land or source of income, the people being evicted would starve to death.

The religious issue came about because the British (Landowners) had separated from the Church of Rome while the indigenous Irish (tenant farmers) had not. The British were Protestant and the Irish were Catholic. This resulted in the Irish population being split into the Loyalists (Protestant Irish) and the Catholic Irish.

In other words, the real problem was the geopolitical separation of land-owners and tenant farmers but it was hidden under the guise of religious persecution by Protestants against Catholics. Everyone knew that it was really British rule in Ireland that was the root of this evil, but the thing that people focused on was Protestant against Catholic.

When I thought about this, I realized that the End Times will be the same thing, but the other way around.

In Ireland, politics was the cause but religion was what people focused on. In the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) the Enemy of God will be fighting a religious battle but will have people focus on the politics. I believe the Antichrist will rise from the political turmoil that we are seeing today, persecution and (civil) lawlessness will give him (or maybe, her?) the fodder on which to build a political platform, selling the idea that peace will come about when the world comes together under a single government that has a single economy. The political focus will be created to hide the true, underlying issue- not one religion or another, but the worship of God or the worship of Satan.

Ireland’s history may be a good example of what we should expect to happen in the world. Politics has already become more like a religion than a form of government, in that people are separated in such a hateful, unjustified way that they are at odds with each other and it is currently bordering on becoming physical. I see Americans spending more time trying to prove someone did something wrong in the past than they are trying to focus on improving the future; I see Europe divided and being taken over by extremists; I see people worldwide losing the ability to communicate face-to-face and becoming so dependent on technology that they will be easily transformed into a bunch of robots, walking aimlessly about with their faces in their phones and not seeing where they are heading (physically or spiritually.)

We are a people composed of individuals in an emotional cocoon which actually separates us from everyone around us. Without Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, or the media, people don’t know how to just talk with each other anymore.

In today’s, world, people are not connected to each other unless that connection is through the airwaves, through our TV, the radio, newscasts, or the Internet.

Do you remember what Shaul (Paul) called the Son of Perdition? He is called the Prince of the Air!

One last thing for today: do you recall what Yeshua said about a house divided against itself? America today is a house divided, Europe today (with the Brexit debate) is a house divided, and the only “house” not divided in the world is found within the despotic Communist countries. Islam is quickly taking over the free countries in Europe and had already infiltrated our American way of life and government.

The religious war prophesied in Revelation is already here but it hasn’t reared its ugly head yet. It is crouching in the shadows, and when it strikes out it will not be identified as a religious war but as a political war; I believe that politics is the sea from which the Antichrist will arise.

The battle is (and always has been) spiritual but it will appear to be political, and now that you know this you need to be alert. Don’t be fooled by political upheavals because it is really the Enemy who is behind them. Stay focused on God, strengthen your faith and prepare for battle by reading the Bible, especially Ephesians 6:10-17.

Thank you for being here, and please don’t forget to subscribe.

Also, I desperately need your help to send Bible materials to poor, rural Ugandans who follow this ministry and are asking for help to be more Torah observant. Check out my Gofundme campaign for them using the link below:

Help Torah Observant Ugandans 

 

I look forward to the next time we get together, and until then….L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

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?

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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.

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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?

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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!

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!