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?

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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!

 

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.

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?

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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!

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!

This Speech is Worth Listening to

I received this through an email from the Israel Video Network and although it is almost 14 minutes long, I ask that you listen to it.

This woman is telling the United Nations the truth about Israel and Muslim tactics, which is not to destroy just Israel but to destroy Democracy and freedom throughout the Earth.

Brigitte Gabriel defends Jews in one of the best speeches the UN has ever heard

 

Parashah Emor 2019 (Speak) Leviticus 21-24

These three chapters deal with three topics: the cleanliness of the Priests who serve in the Sanctuary (as well as the sacrifices brought there), the Holy Days God instructs us to celebrate, and the rules regarding punishment for blasphemy and murder.

As always, I find so much in here to talk about, all of which may be edifying to us and help us better understand what God requires of us. Yet, so that you don’t fall asleep during this message, I will choose just one topic to discuss. And this topic has been so zealously argued that I don’t think anyone will be yawning. At least, I hope not.

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

For the purposes of this message, let’s separate Holy Days from holidays. A Holy Day is a festival or celebration which God has instructed us to observe, whereas a holiday is a man-made celebration. God’s Holy Days are found in the Torah, and holidays are found in the other books of the Old Covenant and in traditional religious doctrine.

The 7 Holy Days God has commanded we must celebrate are:

Shabbat, the day of rest;
Passover (a pilgrimage festival);
Feast of Unleavened Bread (7 days);
Shavuot (the second pilgrimage festival);
Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets, later turned into Rosh Hashanah, a rabbinic celebration);
Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement); and
Sukkot (Tabernacles, and the third and final pilgrimage festival.)

Pilgrimage festivals are the only ones where it is required to travel to the location where God places his name. During the time of the Judges and up until King David moved it, that place was Shiloh, where the Tent of Sanctuary was located. King David moved the tent to Jerusalem and once Solomon completed the Temple, the Temple was the place to go. After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, Jews worldwide have had nowhere to go to bring a sacrifice so they can be absolved of their sins or celebrate the pilgrimage festivals as God instructed us to do.

To those of us who have accepted Yeshua as the Messiah God promised to send, his sacrifice replaced the need to bring an animal to the Temple in Jerusalem so we are able to receive forgiveness; however, we have to settle to go to Shul (Synagogue) instead of Jerusalem to celebrate the pilgrimage Holy Days.

Now let’s get into that heated topic I referred to earlier, which is this: because God instructed us to observe only these 7 Holy Days, is the observance of any other holiday a sin? Especially those created by Christianity, whose origins are found in paganistic celebrations.

I suppose we should begin with identifying what sin is: a sin, for the purpose of this discussion (and I believe it is a good definition for any discussion), is when we do something that God says we shouldn’t do, or, conversely, don’t do something that God says we should do.

So, with that in mind, let’s look at other holidays and test them against our definition of sin.

Let’s start with the Jewish ones, of which there are many. How about Rosh Hashana?  The Jewish New Year, according to God, is the first of Aviv (now called Nisan), but the rabbinical or civic celebration is on what God said is the Day of Trumpets, a day to be a memorial. From that day on the 10 Days of Awe begin, in which we all look introspectively to determine how close, or how far, we have been from obeying God over the past year. Since Rosh Hashanah is a form of a memorial, I don’t see celebrating it the way we do as being sinful. There’s also Sh’mini Atzeret, also known as Simchat Torah, the 8th day of Sukkot. We honor God and his word by celebrating the turning back of the Torah from the end to the beginning so we can start reading it all over again. That doesn’t go against anything God said we should or should not do, and it is respectful, thankful and honoring to God.

There’s Purim (biblical but not commanded), the different fast days, the 9th of Av, and any number of lesser holidays, none of which dishonor God or go against anything he has decreed. So, since we celebrate God, honor him and his word, and aren’t doing anything against what he says, according to our definition of sin, celebrating these man-made Jewish holidays is not sinful.

Let’s now take a look at the major Christian holidays of Easter and Christmas…Oy Vey!! -now we are in for it.

Here is where the majority say celebrating them is sinful. The Maypole (a leftover from the Asherah pole), bunnies and eggs (paganistic fertility symbols), the name Easter (the pronunciation is the same for the fertility goddess, Ishtar), the use of a tree and ornaments to celebrate the birth of Yeshua (Jesus) is similar to graven images and Druidic practices…all of this is considered sinful. And the intention of the ones that worshiped false gods on these days and using these items was sinful.

But did God say we cannot celebrate the birth of the Messiah? Did God forbid us from celebrating the fulfillment of the work of the Messiah, demonstrated by his resurrection?

It is clearly a sin to celebrate and worship Ishtar, Molech, Ba’al, or any Semitic gods or the gods of other religions; but, if we are desiring to honor the one, true God and his Messiah with thankful worship in our hearts, will the paganistic origins of those days and items used overrule the current intent of our celebration? In other words, just because once, long ago these days were paganistic rituals, does that mean when we worship God and Messiah on these same days that they are unacceptable to God?

I don’t think so. God is clear that we are NOT to worship any other God but him, and if someone puts up a tree, adorns it, and does so solely to honor Messiah and God, they are NOT worshiping another God. Yes, maybe the things they are using and the way they are using them was once the way someone would worship a false god, but that is not what Gentiles Christians are doing. They are doing so with the intention of being worshipful and celebrating God’s gift of salvation through Yeshua.

For the record: I, myself, do not celebrate any Christian holidays because I am Jewish, but if I was a Gentile Believer, I most likely would still celebrate Easter and Christmas for the reasons I state above, to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to celebrate salvation through Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ.)

Throughout the Bible, both Old and New Covenants, God constantly makes it known to us that he is not interested in anyone just “going through the motions” but in what is in our hearts.  He constantly told the Israelites that their bulls, sheep, and other offerings meant nothing to him because their hearts were not in it. I interpret this to mean that so long as what we offer to God is with a grateful and worshipful heart, God will accept it from us.

I absolutely believe that when we celebrate a day to honor and thank God, he is more interested in why we are doing it than in the way we are doing it.

Therefore, in my opinion, celebrating Easter and Christmas with the intention and desire to be thankful to God and the Messiah is not a sin. If you eat ham at your Easter or Christmas dinner, well…that is different. That is clearly something that is a sin because God said pork is off the menu, forever.  But having a Christmas dinner, being with family and enjoying each other, celebrating God and his Messiah…really, how can that be wrong in God’s eyes?

Finally, it comes down to individual choice. If you don’t want to celebrate any festivals other than the ones God gave in the Torah, that is great! So long as you do that because you want to, and not because you are trying to earn anything with God. Likewise, if you give up something you like for Lent, celebrate Easter, put up your Christmas tree every year and do so solely with the intention of honoring God and Messiah, I believe God’s is fine with that.

There is, however, this caveat: if you do not celebrate the festivals God commanded in Leviticus Chapter 23 because you have been taught they are “Jewish” and not important to Christians, then you ARE in sin! Remember that our definition of sin is not doing what God says we should, and he clearly instructs us to celebrate these festivals. Even Yom Kippur, asking for forgiveness, is not done away with by Yeshua- we all sin, we all need to ask for forgiveness, and doing so in accordance with God’s instructions is never going to be wrong.

So, nu! There you have it! The bottom line, the Acid Test to determine if celebrating a man-made holiday is not a sin is this: if you celebrate a day to honor God and you do so with proper worship, desire, respect, and thankfulness in your heart, you will be OK.

Thank you for being here, please don’t forget to subscribe and share me out to your friends and family. I always welcome comments so long as they are respectful.

Tonight begins the Shabbat, so I wish you all Shabbat Shalom, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

How Should We Really Pray for The Peace of Jerusalem?

In the Gospels, when Yeshua (Jesus) is in the garden praying to God, he asks if the cup can be passed from him. He was asking, “Lord? Do I really have to go through this? Isn’t there a Plan B?”

And the answer he gave himself was, “Thy will be done.”

Do you know where we commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem? Nowhere. There is nowhere in the Bible we are commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. The Torah is where we find God’s instructions and there are none telling us we must pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

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We are asked to pray for the peace of Jerusalem by King David in Psalm 122:5-6, where he says:

For there the thrones of judgment stand, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you prosper. May there be peace within your walls, and prosperity inside your fortresses.”

This psalm is asking that we pray for peace in Jerusalem so that there is peace in the house of David, and also in the house of Adonai.

Since its formation as a state in 1948, Israel (and Jerusalem as its capital) has been attacked daily by her enemies, which surround her on all sides. These attacks aren’t just military or terroristic; Israel is also being attacked economically, it is being lied about in the media, and it’s people are attacked throughout the European nations through anti-Semitic activities, such as in France and many former Soviet Union states, to name a few.

Even in the Congress of the United States, there is a New York Representative who is blatantly anti-Semitic! New York has always had a tremendously large Jewish population, yet here is a New Yorker who is obviously against Israel. Let’s not forget to mention there are some representatives from other states who also demonstrate a public persona that is anti-Semitic.

With regards to Jerusalem and Israel, we have prayed and prayed until our tallitot are frayed, and yet there is no peace. Is God ignoring his people? Does God want the enemies of the Jews to succeed?  Are we praying the wrong way?

I believe we are praying the wrong way, or maybe I should rephrase that: I believe we are praying for the wrong kind of peace.

First off, let’s all see if we can agree on this: whatever God wants to happen, will happen. Are we all OK with that? Good.

Next, let’s see what God intends for Jerusalem and Israel, so we know what he wants to happen:

Zechariah 12:3– On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.

Luke 21:24– Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

Isaiah 34:1-2- For the Lord’s anger is against all the nations. And His anger is against all their armies. He has destroyed all of them. He has given them over to be killed.

Revelation 21:1-3– Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

 

These are just a few of the many verses telling about Jerusalem and Israel in the End Days, called the Acharit HaYamim.  God has punished Israel for her sins, and since the re-establishment of the State of Israel, the regathering promised throughout the Tanakh by nearly every prophet has been underway. The time of Israel’s punishment is over, and the time for the punishment of the nations is starting.

However, that doesn’t mean Israel is going to have peace- not yet.

God’s plan is that all the nations of the earth will come against Israel, and when the end of Israel seems to be certain, Messiah Yeshua will return, land on Mount Carmel and then (as we Marines say) he will kick butt and take names.

And when he kicks butt there won’t be any names left to take.

God’s plan for Israel is that it be attacked and decimated, nearly to the point of total destruction. We don’t have to like it, but that is what it is. He had the same plan for Messiah, who was insulted, beaten, whipped, tortured, and crucified. Israel will have to undergo the same treatment, and just like her Messiah, who rose triumphant and resurrected in a perfect body, Israel and Jerusalem will also be resurrected as a perfect place, and we will live in the presence of God, forever.

We should be following Yeshua’s example of praying, which means not praying for the avoidance of the terrible things to happen, but for God’s will to be done. We should not pray for the peace that men design, for we have seen throughout the history of Mankind that the peace men create is not lasting. Forget about peace with Jordan, or Syria, or any other nations. It ain’t in the cards!  Pray that the attacks against Israel and her people be ended by the return of Messiah.

That is the way I pray for the peace of Jerusalem: I pray that Messiah’s return happens swiftly because that is the only thing that will bring everlasting peace to Jerusalem.

We cannot go against the plan of God, and his plan is that Israel is attacked until it is nearly destroyed. We can’t stop that and we shouldn’t- it is what God wants, therefore I say we must not pray against it but for it to be done speedily so that the fewest number of people will have to suffer.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, but not for a man-made peace, which is a waste of time. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem that God has planned for it by praying for the speedy return of Messiah Yeshua.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share this message to everyone you know who believes in God. I welcome your comments, just be nice, and until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Yeshua as First Fruits…the Right Way

At this time of the year, everyone is talking about “First Fruits”, or in the Hebrew, HaBikkurim. Yeshua (Jesus) was referred to as first fruits by Shaul (Paul) in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15:23), and as far as I can see, that was the only reference to Yeshua and HaBikkurim throughout the entire Bible.

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The real first fruits festival, the one commanded by God in the Torah, is a harvest festival. God instructs us how and when it should be celebrated in Leviticus 23:9-10, and again in Deuteronomy 26:1-2.  Let’s see exactly when God said we should celebrate first fruits:

Leviticus– The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.

Deuteronomy– When you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name.

As we can see, the instructions regarding when we are to celebrate the first fruits are not related to any other festival. They are directly related to the harvest, which any farmer will tell you cannot be associated with or dependent upon a calendar day. The crop will be ready for harvesting when, and only when, the crop decides it will be ready for harvesting.

I believe a lot of the confusion is because Yom HaBikkurim is not just considered the celebration of the first fruits, but it is also the day that we begin to count the 50 days of the Omer. Actually, it is at the Shavuot celebration that we bring the sheaf to the Cohen. The day to start counting is related directly to Unleavened Bread but that is also under debate, which is a different story.

The reference to Yeshua by Shaul as the first fruits, within the context of what Shaul was writing, I believe was meant to be understood that as through Adam death entered the world, through the Messiah, we can again have eternal life. The references as “first fruits” was not to HaBikkurim, but Shaul used the term “fruits” as in “works”, meaning that the “fruit” of Yeshua’s ministry is salvation.

Look at how the word “fruit” is used throughout the Bible and you will see it is often used metaphorically for works or actions. Hermeneutically, doesn’t Shaul’s reference makes more sense as first fruits representing the harvest of Yeshua’s ministry than related to HaBikkurim?

Let’s now look at what God instructs us to do in Leviticus 19:23-24:

When you enter the land and plant any kind of tree for food, you shall regard the fruit as forbidden. For three years it will be forbidden to you and must not be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit must be consecrated as a praise offering to the LORD.

Now, isn’t that interesting?  The trees planted in the land are not to be touched for three years, and after that, all their fruit is to be offered to Adonai at the place where he dwells. Yeshua’s ministry grew for three years, and how many times do we read that when the people tried to get to Yeshua to do him harm he was left untouched because it wasn’t his time yet?

What we also have to note, although I will not go into it in detail here, is that Yeshua’s sacrifice was not just a sin sacrifice, but was also a peace-offering, which is what “first fruits” is. The Passover lamb sacrifice was not a sin sacrifice it was a peace-offering, also called a Thanksgiving sacrifice. However, Yeshua’s sacrifice was both for sin and as a peace-offering.

What I am saying is that Shaul’s reference to Yeshua as first fruits was only a metaphor to show that Adam’s actions (his fruit, if you will) brought death and Yeshua’s actions (his fruit) brought life: Yeshua’s fruits represent the first fruits from the harvest of people.

How many times did Yeshua refer to people as a crop ready to be harvested?

Yeshua as the “first fruits” is really unrelated to the celebration of Passover or Unleavened Bread, but should be seen as the peace-offering to God which we are to make as commanded in Deuteronomy.  Yeshua was planted in the land as soon as the Ruach HaKodesh was placed upon him when John baptized him. For three years he was allowed to grow, and after three years he was taken to the place where God put his name (Jerusalem) and offered (himself) up to God as a peace-offering, through which we are able to come back into communion with God.

Firstfruits is really a harvest celebration, unrelated to when Passover or Hag HaMatzot arrive, but the Counting of the Omer is called Yom haBikkurim, which we also call “First Fruits.”

I submit that Yeshua as the real First Fruits is not related to Yom HaBikkurim (thereby associated with Passover and Hag HaMatzot) but as a tree (the tree fo life) planted in Israel (when he was baptized) and after three years offered up to God in Jerusalem. And, as the instructions for first fruits state, only after the offering can we then eat from that tree, whose fruit is our salvation.

Adam’s fruit (his sin) brought death and Yeshua’s fruit (his sacrifice) brings life: Adam was the first fruits of destruction and Yeshua is the first fruits of life.

Of course, that’s how I see it. I believe many will fight against this interpretation without even checking it out in the Bible simply because what we have been traditionally taught is so comfortable. It just fits so nicely to have Passover, Unleavened Bread, HaBikkurim, resurrection and Shaul’s reference as first fruits all come one after the other.

But that’s OK, because none of this really matters when it comes to our salvation, and I only offer it up (pardon the expression) as a different interpretation and simply something to think about.

Thank you for being here and I hope you will subscribe (if you haven’t yet done so), as well as share this post with others. Please, if you like what you hear and read on my website, help this ministry to grow. I don’t have a “DONATE” button, and the proceeds from any book sales go to helping pay to ship my books to Believers in Third World Countries who ask for them.

I also welcome comments and ask only that you be nice when you make them.

Until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Passover 2019 Message

Tonight begins Pesach (Passover) and I am already busy preparing for the Seder. I have invited someone I knew in High School and haven’t been in touch with since then. We now live close to each other and it will be good to have her share this Seder with Donna and me.

The Passover is a very misunderstood festival. The traditional idea is that it is 7 days long, but that is not correct. Also, the teaching that HaBikkurim (First Fruits) is the first day after the beginning of Hag HaMatzot (Festival of Unleavened Bread) is not biblically accurate. The most incorrect belief about Passover of all is that the sacrifice of Yeshua (Jesus) was that of the Passover lamb.

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Let’s start by reading from the Bible some of the passages that relate to Passover.

Leviticus 23:5-6 says:

The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Festival of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast.

The Passover is really only from dusk on the 14th day of Nissan (then called Aviv) until midnight, which was when the angel of death passed over the houses of the Israelites. That means the passing over of the angel really occurred on the 15th of Nissan, since dusk on the 14th would have been the end of that day and after the sun had set it would then be the 15th. This is also the day on which the Seder is eaten; when we think about it, by the time the lamb was slaughtered at dusk, brought home, roasted over a fire, and everyone sat down to eat the sun would (probably) have already set, so the Seder is really eaten on the 15th of Nissan.

So, then, if Passover is really only from dusk to midnight, where did they get the idea it is for 7 days? It became confused with the next festival, Hag HaMatzot, which starts with the Seder. In Exodus 12:17-20 it says:

“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day.

I believe that because unleavened bread starts with the Seder, and the Seder is for Passover, people just assumed that Passover was for 7 days.

It isn’t.

As for HaBikkurim, this is also celebrated on a day which is not in accordance with when the Bible says we should.

In his letter to the Corinthians (15:23) Shaul, also called Paul, refers to Yeshua as the First Fruits. Traditionally, the celebration called HaBikkurim (First Fruits) is celebrated on the first day after the beginning of the festival of unleavened bread; this doesn’t coincide with the day Yeshua rose, which would have been three days after unleavened bread began. I believe because Shaul referred to Yeshua as the first fruits that Gentile Believers mistakenly associate Yeshua’s resurrection with HaBikkurim. It isn’t the same.

The Torah tells us that the first fruits are to be offered on the first day after the Sabbath of the harvest. Although the instructions regarding this festival come directly after the instructions regarding Passover and unleavened bread, the first fruits sheave to be waved is not dependent on Passover, but on when the crops are harvested.

Again, let’s go to the source, the Bible. In Leviticus 23:9-11 we read that:

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath.”

The Torah says, clearly, that First Fruits is the day after the first Shabbat after the harvest. Despite the fact that the second day of Pesach and the last day of Hag HaMatzot are both Shabbat days, First Fruits celebration is NOT based on Pesach or Hag HaMatzot, but on the reaping of the harvest.

Lastly, let’s look at the traditional reference to Yeshua as the Pesach (Passover) Lamb. True, he was the “Lamb of God” in that he, like the lamb chosen to be sacrificed, died for our sins. And as such, he is the lamb of the sin sacrifice. But there’s a problem when we refer to him as the Pesach Lamb- the lamb sacrificed for Passover was NOT a sin sacrifice!

When we read the instructions regarding the different kinds of sacrifice within the sacrificial system God gave us (Leviticus, Chapters 1-7) we notice that for the grain, guilt, sin, and wholly burnt sacrifice that only the Cohen was to have a share of the item offered. It is only with the Thanksgiving sacrifice, also called a Peace Offering that the one bringing the sacrifice was allowed to partake of eating some of the meat.

The instructions for eating the Pesach sacrifice clearly shows that the meat is to be taken back to the house and roasted over a fire, then eaten that night. If any is left over, it is to be burned up completely.  This is in perfect concordance with the instructions for the thanksgiving sacrifice we read in Leviticus 7: 29:

When you sacrifice a thank offering to the LORD, offer it so that it may be acceptable on your behalf. It must be eaten that same day. Do not leave any of it until morning.

Because the Passover lamb sacrifice is one where the person bringing the lamb also may eat it, that means it is a Thanksgiving or Peace Offering. And when we review the different reasons to perform this sacrifice, one of them is to thank God for deliverance.

The proper timing for this season is that the Seder meal is eaten after the lamb is slaughtered at evening on the 14th of Nissan, which ends up not being until the 15th of the month, on which we also begin the festival of Unleavened Bread for the next 7 days. Originally, HaBikkurim would be a separate festival that began on the day after the first Shabbat, after the harvest. In truth, there was more than one HaBikkurim celebration since there were usually two harvest seasons: the barley harvest in the spring and the wheat harvest in the fall. Biblically, First Fruits really has nothing to do with Passover or Hag HaMatzot. The traditional celebration of it on the first day after Hag HaMatzot is a decision made by the rabbis of old. It is not unlike what happened with the celebration of Shavuot, considered to be a celebration of the giving of the Law to Moses which occurs 50 days after the first Shabbat after Pesach. When you study the timeline from when the Jews left Egypt to when Moses received the instructions at Sinai, it is not 50 days.  However, just like with Habikkurim and Pesach, Moses at Sanai and Shavuot have been associated for so long that now they are inseparable.

Does any of this change what we are doing, or make it wrong? I don’t think so. God sees the heart, and I really doubt that he is so nit-picky that he will not accept our worship just because we celebrate first fruits on a calendar day instead of based on a physical harvest. Especially since we aren’t an agrarian society anymore.

So go ahead and celebrate Passover, keep that Chametz far away from your mouth for the week after the Seder, and find joy in knowing that Yeshua rose on the first day after the Pesach Shabbat and through that resurrection, we can find eternal joy in the presence of the Lord.

The fact that the current timing of these celebrations doesn’t match exactly when they are to occur according to the Torah is simply a result of the way the world has changed, and God understands that.

Thank you for being here and please share me out with those you know. I welcome comments and/or discussion and only ask that you be nice. Please click on the subscribe button in the right-hand margin, and also use the link above and subscribe to my YouTube channel, as well.

This Passover is special because it also falls on Shabbat, which we call a Shabbat Shabbaton (special Shabbat) so please enjoy it. Passover is a joyful celebration and I wish you all a very pleasant one.

L’hitraot, Pesach Sameach, and Baruch HaShem!!

By Direction of the Commanding Officer

For those who have served in the military, the signature line “By Direction of the Commanding Officer” should be very familiar. For those who aren’t familiar with it, it means that whatever has been written has been done so by someone under the authority of higher command and although the letter (or orders, whatever) come directly from the writer, they are done so as if the commanding officer had issued them, personally.

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For example, when I was in the Marine Corps I was a Company XO (Executive Officer), and as such, I had authority over 350 men and millions of dollars in equipment. What I said, went, but I was under the authority of the Company Commander. I was most often the one issuing commands, but when the CO (Commanding Officer) issued a command through me, written below my name was the signature line “ByDir“, which meant that what I said was an order directly from the Company Commander.

Yeshua is the Messiah God sent to the world: to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. What Yeshua told us about how to live, worship and treat each other was not just from his own authority as Messiah, but was “ByDir” of God.

And when Yeshua used “ByDir” it was from the universe’s Million-Star General, the Lord, God Almighty!

Many times Yeshua told us that he does only what his father in heaven tells him to do or to say. There are too many references in the Gospels to annotate each time this is done, but when you read the Gospels (especially in John) you see this often. We read how people say of Yeshua that he speaks as no one ever did and that his teachings have the tone of authority to them. Well, of course, they do! He is speaking ByDir of the Lord! Yeshua’s every teaching, parable, riddle or lesson was directly from Adonai.

When we consider the above, we have to ask this question:

“How can anyone say that Yeshua did away with the instructions God gave us in the Torah if he was always speaking “ByDir” from God?”

Anything Yeshua said that was not in accordance with the “commands” God had already given would be like disobeying a direct order, wouldn’t it? If God told us to eat certain foods, but Yeshua said we didn’t have to do that, then he would have been disobeying God, right? Or, if Yeshua had taught that the Sabbath was on the first day of the week and not the 7th, he would have been in a state of sin, wouldn’t he?

The fact is Yeshua never disobeyed God or taught anyone to do so. His authority was given to him directly from God and was evident in the miracles he performed. And when people praised him, Yeshua always gave the credit to that person’s faith in God and in Yeshua, who was only acting under the ByDir authority from God as God’s Messiah.

When people preach to us, they should be preaching not from their own authority but ByDir; however, too often they don’t. They preach what they want to, such as when the Shabbat day was changed, the kosher laws were said to be only for Jews, and the festivals God ordered to be celebrated should be replaced with man-made “Christian” celebrations. These, and many other unauthorized doctrines and teachings have polluted God’s word and his plans for humanity. The ByDir from God has been misused and abused by those who teach not to edify but to create and maintain power over others.

We all have the God-given right to choose what we will believe, and God has given us all the information we need to make a choice. He has instructed us how to live and how to worship and how to treat each other. And through the Prophets, he has advised us to choose life (meaning obedience) because the only other option is death.

Don’t find yourself in the Brig for all eternity by refusing to accept the ByDir of Yeshua. Always question what your religious leaders tell you God meant and read it for yourself in the Bible, asking God to show you what he really meant.

God is the ultimate power and authority in the Universe, and there have only been two XO’s God has assigned: Moses and Yeshua. Those two, and only those two had God’s ByDir authority Remember that when you are reading the New Covenant Epistles, so you can understand them correctly, or when you hear people telling you that you are saved by the “Blood of Jesus” and the Torah is just for Jews.

Those people do not have ByDir and you don’t have to listen to what they say.  You are responsible for what you do, and what you don’t do, so make sure you know exactly who gave what commands so you follow the ones that are under God’s ByDir.

If you like what you have read here please subscribe in the right-hand margin, and use the link above to go to my YouTube channel and subscribe there, as well. I welcome your comments and only ask that you be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!