Holy Day or Holiday?

I would like to start this Drash with an excerpt from the chapter in my book (see link at bottom right of page) dealing with this topic:

“Two men talking…,”…so I came to the conclusion that I’m agnostic, but when I realized they don’t have any holidays I thought it best to just stick with my reform synagogue.”

    Why is it important to know the difference between a holiday and a Holy Day? After all, don’t they both mean the same thing? Probably so, to most people. But I think there is a difference between the two, and I also think it is important to know what that difference is. And, since it’s my book, I get to write about what I want to.

   Seriously, it is important to know the difference, and in that light I will ask you to accept (for the purposes of this book) the following definitions: a Holy Day is a celebration, or festival, which God has commanded to be observed. A holiday is a celebration, or festival, which has been created by humans and is a traditional, not biblical, observance. 

   Please understand that I have absolutely nothing against man-made celebrations. I also have nothing against traditions, EXCEPT when a tradition is given more importance than the actual word of God. Traditions are fine, but He comes first.”

We are just about at the end of the High Holy Days in Judaism. Tomorrow is Simchat Torah (that means the Joy of Torah) when we read the last part of Deuteronomy and then, while we sing and dance, roll back the scrolls to the very beginning and read the first few lines in Genesis. Often this holiday (note: holiday, not holy day) is also celebrated by parading the Torah through the streets (And the Word shall go out from Yerushalayim…) with Shofar blowing and joyous singing. It is truly a wonderful thing to start reading the Torah all over again. Ya gotta love the Bible!

But it is not a festival that God told us to celebrate. It is a holiday– a man-made event that is a traditional celebration, just like the netilat yadayim (hand washing) ceremony that we read about in Mark. Just like promising a Korban (again, see Mark) or any of the many, many other Rabbinic traditions and ceremonies that are Talmudic but not Biblical. And if you really want pomp and ceremony, check out some of the Gentile holidays and traditions. You’d think they would have learned from the Jews, but it was not to be.

Why care about the difference? Maybe it doesn’t matter. I guess you could make an argument that every religious holiday (I am not talking about anything in Leviticus 23) is meant to honor God, and how can that be wrong? I think that would be a good argument, and I wouldn’t have a problem with that, except that today most of these holidays do not honor God: they only create more retail sales. They honor the economy more than they honor God.

I mean, it’s not even Halloween (clearly, no one can think that Halloween honors the Lord!) and already I see Christmas commercials on TV, stores are putting up Christmas decorations, and I haven’t even partaken of my November tryptophan yet!  Oy! If we keep going at this rate, we will “lap” Christmas and by April of 2016 they will be running Christmas 2017 sales!

The traditions of our people (Jews and Gentiles, alike) are not bad, in and of themselves. Traditions help create solidarity, a common foundation, and can often help one to get closer to God, so long as they do not interfere or overrule what God has commanded of us. This was the point that Yeshua was making during His ministry. He didn’t have an issue with the traditions, He had an issue with the Pharisees forcing the people to perform traditions at the expense of what God said they should do. There are plenty of examples of this throughout the Good News books.

We need to be careful about this, i.e., knowing the difference between what God has told us to do and what our religious leaders tell us we should do. And we need to know the difference, especially now, as we see prophecy coming to fruition all around us.

I believe the Enemy will make Himself known slowly, and we will not know what he is doing to us until it is already done, unless we keep our spiritual eyes open and trust no one. Not the Rabbi, not the Priest, not the Minister or Chaplin…not no one, not no how, not no way.

What we need to do is trust in the Word of God. You need to read it and thereby learn the difference between what is man-made and what is God-commanded. Like I said, I believe the Enemy will take charge slowly, and the best way to do that is through what we are all comfortable with. He isn’t going to jump out of a cake and say, “Hiya!! I’m the Son of Perdition and I am here to destroy you. Line up and take the mark- be the first on your block to suffer in hell for  all Eternity. Order your very own mark now…operators are standing by.”

Uh-uh…not going to happen that way. He will appear, at first, to be somewhat powerless. A nobody that came up with a popular notion or fad. Then the fad will become a tradition, just like the other traditions we all find comfortable and easily follow (like sheep) and practice. Eventually, once we are suckered into the traditional practices, the tradition will become a regular part of our life, and he will introduce activities that are God-less and satanic, but it will be so subtle, it will fit so easily into what we are doing already, that before we know it we will be lining up for the mark and not even realize what we are doing.

OK, maybe I am getting a little too apocalyptic, thinking that celebrating Simchat Torah will lead me to satanic worship. Honestly, I don’t think that’s a concern. But human stupidity, ignorance and pride is a concern, and it is as much a part of us as breathing and eating. If we aren’t watching with spiritual eyes, and discerning using the Ruach, we are doomed. The Enemy is much more devious than we are, and he knows how to get in our brains, in our daily lives, and how easily we can be led (or misled, for that matter.) And he has no fear of God. He knows he’s lost, he just doesn’t want to admit it to himself, so he is going to take as many down with him as he can. Remember this: in Revelations it says that “most” will be apostatised. Not a few, not a lot, but most- that means a lot more than just half . That means more like 70-80% of all Believers will reject God and throw away their salvation.

Worship God as He said to worship Him- celebrate the Holy Days that God has commanded we should celebrate. And I mean everyone- these are not “Jewish” holy days, these are the festivals that God (your God and mine) said that those who worship Him are to celebrate. Everyone! Start there, and slowly, carefully review and scrutinize every non-Biblical holiday you have ever enjoyed. If it seems “correct” according to the Manual, celebrate it as it should be celebrated- in a way that honors God. Leave K-Mart, Target, Amazon, et.al. out of it.

As the old saying goes, “Keep the Christ in Christmas.” And be careful to celebrate only those celebrations, and only in those ways, that give glory to God.

Parashah Chol HaMo’ed Sukkot (Intermediate Reading for Sukkot: Exodus 33:12 – 34:26)

Sukkot is one of the Holy Days which we are commanded to celebrate in Leviticus 23. It is one of the three Holy Days when we are to go to the Temple in Yerushalayim (Pesach and Shavuot being the other ones.)

At this time we build a Sukkah, which is essentially an open roofed tabernacle or tent, and we are to live in it for the next 7 days. This is a reminder of how our fathers lived in the desert.

This festival is more than just a memorial to our ancestors; it is a celebration of our relationship, our close relationship, with God. And not just as a people, but individually.

This parashah relates how Moshe asked God to go with the people- it comes after the people rebelled against God while Moshe was on the mountain, when Moshe destroyed the first set of tablets God gave him. Moshe is back on the mountain, and begging God to continue to live with the people as they travel through the desert. In fact, Moshe asks God to just  leave them there if He won’t go with them because it is not the people that matter, it is God’s presence with them that demonstrates who they are.

When God is with us, it proves we are His people. His presence is what separates us from the rest of the world, and for those who accept Messiah Yeshua as being the Messiah, the Anointed One of God and the promised salvation, and who have received the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit), they have God’s presence with them, just as the children of Israel had His presence in the desert.

In the desert, He traveled as a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night, but today as we walk through this desert we call “life”, God is with us always by means of the indwelling Ruach. That means that our bodies are, in a way, the ultimate Sukkah. This correlates to what Shaul said when he told us that our bodies are the temple housing the spirit of God. I have heard Christian teachings that allude to this, too, calling our bodies the Church.

As a Jewish man, I am not, and probably never will be, comfortable with the idea that I go to “church”, let alone that I am a “church.” I know it’s just a word, but words have power and the image and memories that the word “church” bring forth are not pleasant to me.

On the other hand, I like considering myself a Sukkah, where God and I congregate. Add to that how joyful it is to tabernacle with the Lord God, and that is an image I can live with!

Sukkot lasts seven days, but we celebrate for 8 days. The eighth day is called Sh’Mini Atzeret, and that is also called the holiday of Simchat Torah (note: holiday, not Holy Day.) This is a Rabbinical day of celebration, not a biblical one. The Rabbinical explanation is that God was so happy being with His people during those seven days that He extended it an additional day. Again, not in the bible as a God-declared festival, but a nice thought and a joyful way to celebrate the Torah, which is also God’s presence with us, is it not?

See: I’m not against everything that is traditional, just those that go against what God wants or says.

Final thought for today: in the desert, God’s presence was shown through His manifestation as a cloud and as fire. Moshe wrote the Torah, and after they came into the Land, God’s physical presence no longer went with them. But they had the Torah, which is not just God’s laws, regulations, and (overall) teachings, but it is, in a way, God, Himself. He tells us who He is (this portion also contains the 13 Attributes of God, which He announces as he passes by Moshe) and who we are, in relation to Him. Therefore, in my thinking, the Torah is God; not a manifestation, but it is who and what He is. Yochanan says that first there was the Word, then the Word became flesh. Do you think the “Word” he refers to is the Torah? I do. That’s why I feel comfortable believing that the Torah is God- not a manifestation of Him, but His essence and (thereby) His presence.  In the same way that our bodies are a Sukkah, the Torah is God; it is a spiritual relationship expressed by a tangible thing.

So, the Torah is with the people always, representing God’s presence. And the ultimate demonstration of God’s presence with His people is the Ruach HaKodesh. Unlike the cloud or fire, which appeared visible to all, and unlike the Torah, which is  tangible thing, the Ruach is His presence living inside of us. Every breath, every heartbeat, every thought…He is here sharing our life, living every moment of it in total communion.

Sukkot is one of the more joyful Holy Days we have, and for those who have accepted the Grace of the Almighty, we get to celebrate Sukkot every single day, and for the rest of our life.

Sweet!

Forgive Yourself as You Would Forgive Others

This evening is Kol Nidre, the beginning of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. It is all about forgiveness, and usually we concentrate on asking God to forgive us. We ask that He move from the Throne of Judgement to the Throne of Forgiveness, and we are to “afflict our souls” as we request His forgiveness. But it shouldn’t be just about God forgiving us, or about us forgiving others. It should also be about us forgiving ourselves.

It’s strange, isn’t it? That we should be able to forgive others but often we can’t forgive ourselves?  The Manual tells us we should do unto others as we do unto ourselves, and that we will be forgiven as we forgive others. Isn’t the converse true? Are we as willing to forgive ourselves as we are others? If God is willing to forgive us, but we don’t forgive ourselves, then isn’t that the same as saying we are above God, in that He is willing to let it go but we won’t? We think what He does isn’t good enough, He’s too easy- we should be punished! If we think that, then we are saying what we think and feel is more important than what God thinks and feels. That’s idolatry- we put ourselves before God and above Him when we refuse to do what He is willing to do.

If you feel there is something you have done which is so bad you can’t believe God will forgive you, then you just don’t understand Grace. In Romans 5 Shaul tells us that as sin is increased, so to is Grace. Basically, there isn’t a sin big enough that God’s Grace can’t cover it. In fact, Kippur (as in Yom Kippur) doesn’t really mean “atonement”, it means “covering.”  God is covering our sin, like a mother hen protects her chicks by covering them with her wings.

What I find wonderful is that God is not just able to forgive, and not just willing to forgive, but that He wants to forgive!  He even has a means to forgive us for sins we committed in error (see Numbers 15.) In Ezekiel He says He gets no pleasure from seeing the sinners die, but that He would rather they do T’Shuvah and live. His forgiveness is more than just something He does- it’s what He wants to do. I can’t imagine that anyone who even thinks God could exist is not able to grasp that we are sinful and He is willing to overlook that if we only ask Him to do so.

But God is no fool. Just because He will forgive sins doesn’t mean that it’s OK to sin. Today Christianity is teaching that Grace covers everything to the degree that sin is not an issue anymore. We are “under the blood of Christ”; He died for our sins so we are forgiven.  All who call on His name are saved and we are forgiven everything. Just so long as you say you are a Believer and you call on His name you are saved, your sins are forgiven and you get to go to heaven. Just confess and ask forgiveness and you are clean. Hallelujah!  That’s not Grace from sin they are teaching, it’s license to sin. People are being taught that their sins are forgiven simply by asking God to do so, and although that is technically correct, it implies that to continue to sin will have no detrimental effect on your salvation.

That is a lie from the pit of hell! If you continue to sin, without concern, without truly being repentant, you better bring along an umbrella and plenty of Coppertone when you meet the Lord before the Throne. You can ask, and it will be given unto you, but not if you don’t really repent. And the way to be repentant is to stop sinning.

Atonement is not a one-time, slam-blam-I-forgive-you-Ma’am thing. It’s a process. First and foremost, you have to own your sin. That means to recognize your own sinfulness and take responsibility for it. Next, you must do T’Shuvah, that is, turn from your sins. You must really, really want to not sin anymore. Once you have done this, you “own” your sin. And when you own something, you have the right and ability to give it away. That’s the third step- give that sin to God. Ask Him to take it from you, and then “go, and sin no more” (see if you can find that Bible quote.)

This is the start of one of the holiest of the High Holy Days. Even though we have been forgiven, even though we, Believers, understand and accept the Grace of God made possible through the ultimate and final atonement that Yeshua made on our behalf, we still should observe Yom Kippur. Why? Well, first off, it’s a commandment. Duh!! Second, Shaul tells us we should suffer with those that are suffering- not eating or drinking for 24 hours is certainly my idea of suffering!

No, seriously, we should observe this festival because God said we should and to show our non-accepting (of Yeshua) Brothers and Sisters that Messianic Jews do what God said we should do, that we follow the Torah and that being Born Again/ Messianic is not a different religion- it is what being Jewish is all about. It is the epitome of Judaism; to not just follow Torah and hope for a Messiah, but to know the Messiah and be part of God’s plan of redemption. Actually, it is beyond Judaism, it is beyond any religion- it is doing as God said we should do. It is following His commandments. It is being faithfully obedient.

Remember- God has no religion. If you say you believe in God and want to follow Him, to do as Yeshua did, then you better know Torah because that’s the User Manual for the program called Salvation.

When we pray this evening and throughout tomorrow, remember that you need to forgive yourself, too. Also understand that the solidarity we have with the unsaved Jewish people is in our prayers. Look at the prayers- they are often not asking for individual forgiveness, but for corporate forgiveness. The Prophets accepted responsibility for the sins of the people, the Cohen Ha Gadol (High Priest) transferred the sins of the people to the goat or bull to be sacrificed. We are not just asking for our individual forgiveness, but we are interceding for all the people, everywhere. This day is not just about you- it’s about all of us.

Lastly, let me ask you to think of Yom Kippur not just as a holy day, but as an every day activity. In Judaism this day is the culmination of the Days of Awe and leads us into the final festival of this time (Sukkot) when we (now clean) can enter into communion with God as our Fathers did, by living in Sukkot (Tabernacles, or tents.) After this week of intimate communion, we begin our cycle again with turning back the Torah (Simchat Torah) and starting our love affair with God, all over again.

L’Shana Tovah- A Rosh HaShanah Drash

For me, a Holy Day is described by God in Leviticus 23, and a holiday is something religion created. This day is sort of both, since the Holy Day is a memorial (Yom Teruah, or Day of Trumpets) and the holiday is the Jewish New Year. Actually, the new year as God tells us, is Pesach (Passover). In Exodus He tells us that the first day we are free from slavery to Egypt is to be the first day of our calendar.

On this day, the traditional Torah reading is the Akedah, or binding, of Isaac (Gen. 21:1-24.) In keeping with this tradition (not all traditions are bad), I would like to offer this Drash:

The fact that God tests us is seen throughout the Tanakh. He does so not to tease or tempt us to do wrong, but to strengthen us. To help us mature, spiritually.  The way to be prepared for a test, any test, is to study. But to study correctly, in other words, to study that which will help you overcome the challenges you are to face, you need to know the subject matter. You don’t study Algebra for a History test, and you don’t develop spiritual maturity through blessings.

That’s right- blessings are the gold star you get after the test. The test is the hard part, and the test stinks to high heaven. The tests are difficult, and never too much for us, so long as we remember to look to God for the strength to pass.  If we try to pass God’s spiritual testing on our own, we will most likely fail. We can’t do it, we need the Ruach to help us overcome our natural sinful sinfulness.

Isn’t that redundant, Steve? Sinful sinfulness? Maybe; the point I want to make is that we don’t just sin, we are sinful, too. We don’t just sin, we want to sin, we need to sin, it’s our natural state of mind. So, we don’t just sin, we live to sin, we desire to sin, we are sinfully, sinful. Thank God that Yeshua overcame this for us.

That’s why testing is so hard, but it doesn’t have to be. God’s tests are an open book test because the Bible is always close at hand, the Ruach is waiting for us to give it a “Shout Out”, and God is standing all around us, waiting to catch us.

Yet, we fail. We manage to avoid the safety net, the harness and the protective gear (that’s in Ephesians) and find a way to still fall flat on our faces. And sometimes when we fall, we land hard on someone else.

That brings us to another tradition: to ask forgiveness of those we have, or may have, sinned against during the past year. This is a Jewish tradition that Jews (probably) don’t know is also confirmed by Yeshua. Yeshua tells us before we bring our offering to God, if someone has something against us we should leave the offering at the altar, go to that person, and ask forgiveness. Gee- you mean Yeshua did something Jewish? Duh!!!

The next 10 days are called “The Days of Awe”, when we become introspectively aware of the many ways we have fallen short of what God has wanted of us. It is time to take off the blinders, to see ourselves as we are, to ask forgiveness of others and at the end, repentant and contrite of heart and spirit, to ask forgiveness of God when this period culminates on Yom Kippur.

I call it the “Days of Aw”, as in ,”Aw, shucks!” because that’s how I feel when I realize how much I know about what God wants, all the knowledge and insight I have gained from His spirit, and look at me- still stupid, still unwilling, still sinning and still trying. I guess the last part is the difference that His spirit has made in me- before I was saved, I was a sinner that rationalized my sins, now I am a sinner that regrets my sins. And even though I sound down on myself, I am glad that I sin less, that I want to do what is right, and that I am improving. Slow as molasses going uphill against the wind in January, but….making progress.

We all fail now and then, Brothers and Sisters, but do not let your failures make you sad- let them be a “test” to strengthen you to do better. And when we fail we only need to remember that Yeshua did not fail, that He passed every test presented to Him, and that because of His success we can get back on track. We must always strive to do better. Do not allow a letdown to cause you to give up on His calling in your life. That’s a cop-out!

Praise the Lord, because when we ask His forgiveness He forgets our failures, and praise the Lord that He always remembers our successes.

One last thought for the day: the Akedah introduces martyrdom to the Bible (even though Isaac was not killed, he was willing to die.) This will become a sadly regular part of the devoted Believer’s life for the rest of history (until the final victory is accomplished.) It is the ultimate testing of faith.

A modern Jewish poet named J. L. Gordon wrote this poem in memorial of a tragic slaughter that occurred in England at the Castle of York in the year 1190:

“We have sacrificed all. We have given our wealth.
Our homes, our honours, our land, our health
Our lives- like Hannah and her children seven-
For the sake of the Torah that came from Heaven.”

Yeshua is the living Torah and when He died on that tree the Torah that was a works-driven Torah died with Him. When He was resurrected, the Torah also was given new life, as a faith-driven path to Redemption. That means that nothing has changed in the Torah: it is still Torah (2nd Timothy 14) and is still valid for everyone who worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What cannot be accomplished through the works-driven Torah, can be accomplished in the  faith-driven Torah that lives in us! Yeshua fulfilled the Torah, in works, in interpretations, in the sight of all the peoples. He is in us, and through Him we can be victorious over sin.

Use these next 10 days to look into yourself. The Torah is supposed to be a mirror that we look into. Look in the mirror- what do you see? Look harder- Torah is there, Brothers and Sisters. How can I be so sure? Because God Himself told us in Jeremiah 31:31 that it will be written on our hearts, and I believe God!

Each of us who have accepted God’s Grace through Yeshua Ha Meshiach, all of us who are children of the Everlasting God- we all are one in Messiah and He is in us!

Look deep within yourself over these next 10 days and seek Him out!

A Short Introduction to the Torah

I am going to discuss, briefly, what the Torah is for the benefit of any readers who may not be all that familiar with it. I could do an entire Bible study on the Torah, not the scripture it has but for all the other aspects of it. However, all I really would like to do today is just give you a brief outline, one I have used in Bible and Messianic 101 classes

Let’s begin with the word, “Torah.” Although it is often referred to as “law”, it’s actual meaning is “Teaching.” The Christian world uses the connotation of “law” as a means to dissuade people from believing they need to obey Torah. The general teaching is that the regulations, laws (mitzvot) and rules that God gave to His people contained in the Torah represent legalism. This is not true, and meat for another discussion. Leave us to say that the commandments are for anyone who wishes to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, at any time, and for all time.

The Torah contains the Five Books of Moses, and is also called the Pentateuch (Greek for Five Books). That is the Torah. The Tanakh is the entire Old Covenant, and is an acronym made of Torah, Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings, such as Ruth, Psalms, Proverbs, etc.) The writings of the Prophets are broken down into the major and minor Prophets.

The Torah is more than just five books telling the history of the Jewish people and the laws God gave us. It serves as a Ketuba, or marriage certificate, between God and His people. It is also a Covenant made between God and His people, specifically the Noadic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic and “new” covenant, which was fulfilled when Yeshua was resurrected and the Ruach HaKodesh was given to those who accept Yeshua as their Messiah.

The Torah also serves as a constitution, essentially listing the civil and penal laws that form a nation. Finally, the Torah teaches us about sin, and teaches us right from wrong (Shaul talks about this in Romans.)

The Torah contains a total of 613 commandments, about 1/3 of which describe the sacrificial system that was only valid for use at the Temple. With the destruction of the Temple, non-Messianic Jews have had no place to atone for sins. For those who have accepted that Yeshua is the Messiah, His death was our atonement, so we have to feel great pain and fellowship with the Jewish people who believe they have no atonement. It’s so sad for them to think they have no atonement and are anxiously waiting for the Messiah to atone for them, and He has been here, waiting for them, for over two thousand years. Well, that’s (also) another discussion.

The laws are broken down into different groups:

Mishpatim are regulations:

  1. Mishpatim- those regulations which we can understand why they exist;
  2. Dupah- those regualtions that need to be, and are, explained why they are given to us; and
  3. Hucah-those that are unexplained and/or unknown why we have them (but we still have to follow them)

Mitzvot are laws and Chukim are ordinances. I have never really found anything that definitively identifies the differences between regulations, laws, and ordinances. The important thing for us to remember is that no matter what they are called, they are all what God wants us to do, and are all important to obey.

The Oral Torah (Sheb’al Peh)  is a traditional compilation of regulations supposedly given to Moshe which he did not write down. They are today the Rabbinic interpretations of the Torah and have expanded into the Talmud. Talmud details for us Halakha, or ‘The Way to Walk”. In other words, it tells us how to live a Jewish lifestyle, in every part of our daily activities. And I mean, e-v-e-r-y part. The origins are pre-Christian Era, and they come from two “schools” of thought- the Babylonian Talmud and the Jerusalem Talmud.

The Talmud started as the Oral Torah, which was eventually compiled and written as the Mishna, an explanation of the laws. The Mishna didn’t quite cover it all, so they added the Gemara. Together these make up the Talmud, which is a magnificent Tome of some 20 plus volumes of Rabbinic lore, written in groups called Orders and Tractates.

Although considered to be scripture by Orthodox Jews, it is (I say this respectfully) not scripture. It is wonderful wisdom, and helps to identify what a Jewish person is, how to live, and how to perform the things in the Torah we are told to do, but not always how to do it. It is based on the Word of God, but it is not His Word. It is Rabbinic wisdom and Jewish folklore.

Overall, due to the differences in how people (meaning religion) say to worship God, even within the “purity” of Torah, Jews have split into different sects:

1. The Ultra Orthodox, or Chasidic;

2. The Orthodox (leftover from the Pharisees);

3. The Conservative (less reliance on Oral Law)

4.  The Reform (believe only moral laws are mandatory, less concerned about “ceremonial” laws);

5.  The Reconstructionists (believe in the traditions more than the written laws);

6. The Messianic Jews (believe that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah God promised and follow the laws and regulations throughout the Torah.)

We see evidence of the Torah in Jewish lives in different ways: people wearing Tzttzit (the fringes commanded to be worn in Numbers) and a Kippur (covering, also called a Yarmulke). A Mezzuzah on the lentils of the doorways, those who follow the laws of Kashrut (Kosher laws- I follow them according to Leviticus 11, not according to the Rabbinic laws, which are extremely difficult to follow) and the celebration of Shabbat (Sabbath) on the proper day, Friday night through to Saturday night.

The New Covenant writings have been very tough on the Torah. It amazes (and disgusts) me that the teachings of Yeshua have been turned into polemics against the Torah, the very book He helped write! In the Gospel of John, Yochanan (John) tells us there was the Word of God, and the Word became flesh. That was Yeshua. Yeshua told the Pharisees that a house divided against itself cannot stand: so, if Yochanan was correct that the Word of God became flesh (don’t forget- the only Word they had was Torah) and Yeshua was correct that a house divided against itself can’t stand, then how can Christianity teach that Yeshua did away with the Law, which is the Word, which is Him? Oy! Where do they come up with this stuff?

Check out  Matthew 5:17, 2nd Timothy 3:16, Romans 7:12 and Isaiah 56. These references all make an apologetic argument for the validity of Torah. Yet, if you look at Galatians 3:10 / 3:28 / 5: 1-4 / 2:15-16, these are historically used as  a polemic against the Torah.

The final part of today’s little lesson is to ask: “Who should follow Torah ?”  Should it be just Jews? Should it be Jews and Believers (Born Again)? After all, since Born Again Christians accept Yeshua/Jesus as their Savior and are trying to do as He tells us to do, which is to obey Scripture, the only Scripture He taught was Torah. It makes sense and follows, naturally, that they should live in accordance with Torah, right?

My answer is that everyone who professes to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob should follow Torah because (here it is again):  God has no religion. If you say you follow God, if you say you accept Jesus/Yeshua as your Messiah, and you love to say how much you love Him, He told us that the way we show how much we love Him is to follow His commandments, which are/is/always have been/ always will be: the Torah!

That’s right, boys and girls: if you profess to follow Yeshua, and you love Him, then you need to obey every rule, regulation, ordinance and law in the Torah, as best as you can. That doesn’t mean pick and choose, that means try to do them all. The only ones that you don’t have to do are the ones you physically can’t, i.e., the sacrifices at the Temple. Therefore, if you haven’t been reading the Tanakh, better get started- that’s where the background and teachings of the entire New Covenant are based and found. There is nothing “new” in the New Covenant.

If you don’t read everything from Genesis through Revelations, you aren’t getting the whole teaching.

 

 

 

Who Needs a Messiah?

When I was taking courses for my Certificate in Messianic Studies, one of the questions was “Why do we need a Messiah?” At first you may think ,”What a silly question from a course that teaches about Messianic Judaism and Yeshua!”

Then, again, when you think about it, maybe it isn’t so silly because the answer is: everyone; yet, not everyone will agree. Most of the people I know who are Gentile (not Born Again) were raised being taught about Jesus and salvation their whole lives, and you would think they would know all about the need for a Messiah. But the impression I get is that they are taught that, so long as they are a good person, they get to go to heaven because Jesus died for their sins. It’s like a Third-Party Salvation, there’s no “ownership” of their own sinfulness and personal need for Yeshua. He died for their sins means that just be a good person and you’re in.

What is good? Is it being nice to people? Is it not murdering? Is it treating animals with affection? Yeshua told us- in the B’rit Chadasha (Good News, or Gospels) when a man addresses Yeshua as, “Good Rabbi”, Yeshua says, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but my Father in Heaven.” WOW!! The Messiah, the Son of God, the Suffering Servant and Victorious King says He is not good. If He’s not good, what are we? Isaiah got it right- we are worms, and our righteousness is nothing more than filthy rags (menstrual rags is the actual translation) compared to God.

We all need a Messiah to save our eternal soul. Of course, many do not believe in the concept of a “soul”. Many do not believe in God and are convinced that we are all responsible for ourselves and are accountable only to our own beliefs. Do these people need a Messiah? Of course they do, they just don’t know it!

There is a God who created everything we know, and even things we don’t know about yet. He is our Father who loves us. He is also the judge of the world, who cannot judge any way but justly, holding us all accountable for our words and actions. The Torah teaches us that if we break even one commandment we have broken them all, and we all are sinners. David tells us in Psalm 40:12 his sins are greater than the hairs on his head. This from a man G-d said was a man after His own heart! Need more?- Proverbs 20:9 asks “Who can say I am without sin?”. The answer is no one.  The Gospel story of the woman accused of adultery (John 8:7) has Yeshua asking all the “righteous” men in the town to throw a stone if they are without sin. Not even a pebble was tossed. 1 John 1:8 sums it up for all of us- if we claim to be without sin we are just deceiving ourselves.

We all have sin, and are sinners from the moment we were born, born into a sinful world. The only way we can be cleansed of our sin, and thereby be with God, is to atone through the shedding of innocent blood (Lev. 17:11). The problem is that this atonement was to be made at the Temple, which no longer exists. This leaves us in a quandary- we need to atone but cannot do so because the physical Temple of God is no longer in existence. So where can we turn to? We can turn to the Messiah, who was the atonement for our sin (Isaiah 53). Only through Him can our sins be atoned for in accordance with the sacrificial system God put in place from the beginning of time.

So the answer to the question, “Why do people need a Messiah?” is this: to atone for the sin we all have so that we can be in the presence of God through all time. It is up to those of us who understand this to help those who do not acknowledge it to see the truth of God’s Plan of Salvation, the means of how we are saved, and thereby expose the lies of the Enemy that they have been taught to believe.

No Statute of Limitations on God’s Commandments

One of the favorite Biblical quotes for people who are (what I like to call) “Buffet Believers” is from Mattityahu (Matthew). It’s when Yeshua tells His Talmudim that He came to fulfill the law.

I have heard Christian teachings interpret this statement that having fulfilled the law meant it has been completed, thereby doing away with it. This misinterpretation is then confirmed, incorrectly, with Shaul’s writings in Romans, where he is writing to justify the validity of Torah but it has constantly and historically been used as a polemic against Torah, instead of the apologetic it was designed to be. They also use statements taken out of context in other Epistles. They uniformly forget the statements that remind us we are still to obey God’s commandments, such as some found in Timothy and throughout Shaul’s letters.

The truth is that the commandments in the Torah (all 613 of them) are just as valid today as they were when Moshe brought them to the people. There is no statute of limitations on God’s commandments. They are “throughout your generations.” That is pretty clearly another way of saying forever. And anyone who teaches that the laws found in Torah are only for Jews and not for Christians is teaching you a lie from the pit of Sheol. And, by the way, Yeshua warned that those who transgress the law and teach others to do so will be least in the Kingdom of Heaven.

There’s a lot in that one statement to think about; for me, mainly, it seems to imply that even if I sin and teach others to sin, I can still be in the Kingdom of Heaven. Can that be true? Maybe we can discuss that another time.

The true interpretation of what Yeshua said about fulfilling the law can only be realized within the proper context; in this case, a cultural and linguistic context. In First Century “Rabbi-speak” to fulfill the law meant to interpret it correctly. To transgress the law, or trespass against it, meant to misinterpret it. Funny how people like to say, “Yeshua said He fulfilled the law, so since He completed it we are now saved by His sacrifice and not by Torah. We are Born Again! We don’t need Torah.”

OK. So, if Torah is not needed anymore, can I sleep with your wife? If you don’t like that, can I kill you so you’re out of the way? If I like your car, can I steal it? What? No? Am I crazy? All those things are a sin? But you just said the Torah was done away with!  Oh- not all the Torah.  I see, we are only subject to the moral laws, but not the ceremonial ones (that’s another wrong teaching.) I see….so, nu? Who can tell me which is a moral law and which is ceremonial?

Usually the moral laws are the ones that we have to follow because they are civil laws, too, but anything dealing with what we don’t want to do, like give up shrimp cocktails before our ham dinner, well, that’s a ceremonial law.

I wonder why God, in all His wisdom, didn’t mention that when He told us how to live? As I recall, all God said was do this and don’t do that. No separation of moral, civil, ceremonial, or whatever; it’s His way or the hell-way. That’s it.

Did you ever think about this: if God said the commandments are valid forever, and Yeshua taught that they are no longer valid, doesn’t that mean Yeshua called God a liar? That Yeshua, the Son of God, sinned by not respecting his Father because He taught us to do things that the Father said not to do. And, if Yeshua was a sinner, His death could not be an acceptable sacrifice, so our promise of salvation is unfounded and we are not saved! 

Not a very pleasant thought, is it? But, if you want to go around saying that Yeshua fulfilled the law and did away with Torah, that Believers are not subject to the laws God gave us, that you are under the blood and not under the law…well, I hope you have a high tolerance to heat.  

That’s why I call those people Buffet Believers- they pick what they like and leave what they don’t like. I feel bad for them, because they are being taught incorrectly, and like innocent sheep just enjoying the grass, they are eating their way right into the wolf’s den.

It’s really quite simple- God gave us rules, regulations, mitzvot, and commandments: none of which are subject to choice. He said do these and we will be blessed, don’t do them and we will suffer curses. And these laws are for us to follow throughout our generations (look it up- check me out and make sure I am stating this accurately), which doesn’t mean until Yeshua comes.

It’s true that Torah cannot justify us: not because Torah is invalid or done away with, but because we can’t live up to Torah. Even though there is nothing too difficult for us to do in Torah, because we can’t overcome our sinful nature we can’t live Torah correctly. As Shaul said, Torah was a guardian, and it defined for us the difference between sin and holiness. Yeshua died because we couldn’t live under Torah correctly. He didn’t do away with Torah, He lived Torah correctly. He was an example to follow, he showed us the way- you don’t show how to do something so that no one ever does it, do you? If I showed you the safe passage in a mine field, would you then feel that you can walk anywhere in that field you wanted to?  BOOM!!!

Look, when you find the passage I am referencing in Mattiyahu, check out the very next statement Yeshua makes. After He says He came to fulfill the law, He continues to say that not one single stroke, i.e. letter, of the Torah is changed. Duh!! Yeshua said He didn’t come to change Torah, and He also said nothing will change in Torah until the Acharit Hayamim (End Days) are done.

If you are waiting to be “released” from the Torah, you will need to wait a while longer. The only Torah commandments we don’t perform are the 1/3 or so of them that deal with the sacrificial system because, for one, the Temple where the sacrifice was to be made is gone (so we can’t perform the commandment) and, two, because the ultimate and final sacrifice was made through Yeshua’s death. Those are the only Torah commandments we are exempt from following today- everything else is valid. Sorry- too bad. No more pork rinds watching basketball, Shabbat starts Friday night, Christmas and Easter are out for the remainder of the game.

If you want to please God, if you want to receive His blessings, if you want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, then do so. Read the Torah, follow the Torah, stop pretending you’re at some restaurant buffet table and realize that you are an honored guest at God’s table. Yeshua told His Talmudim, when He sent them out to the surrounding cities and towns, that when they are in someone’s house they should eat what they are given. God’s table is set with all types of food (commandments), and we are to eat what He provides.

It’s impolite to tell God, “No thanks- I don’t like that.”

 

 

Because “Because” Doesn’t Cut It

Growing up I was never much for God, although I wanted to be. I felt an emptiness when I went to Shul, and I never felt that talking to God was supposed to be using other people’s words. I found prayer difficult because I thought I should be talking from my heart, and not repeating what someone else wrote in a book for me to say. Needless to say, I gave up on religion and God pretty much right after my Bar Mitzvah.

It took me nearly 30 years to return to Him.

Now that I am Messianic, meaning I am a Jewish man who believes that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah God promised but I still follow the rules and regulations God gave us (remember: God has no religion), I am often asked by other Jews how can I believe in Jesus? In fact, being Messianic is being in the middle, and not understood by either side: Jews say I can’t be Jewish if I believe in Jesus and Christians tell me because I still do all that “Jewish” stuff I am still “under the Law” and not really “under the Blood.”

They’re both so very wrong.

This Drash is about the Jewish thought that if a Jew believes in Jesus that person can’t be Jewish anymore. How silly. First off, what does it mean to “believe in Jesus?”

I don’t know. Do you? Does it mean believe He existed at all? Believe He is the Messiah? Believe He is God? (BTW…He was a man. He had to be fully human or His sinless life was no big deal and His resurrection doesn’t mean anything.) Believe all the above?

Rabbi Akiba believed Bar Kochba was the Messiah and all it got him was dead. And thousands of Jews with him, too. Oh, not to mention Bar Kochba didn’t come out of it too well, either.

There have been many false Messiahs over the years, and Yeshua warned us about them.

I have found that explaining why I believe is like talking to a brick wall, so when asked, “How can you believe in Jesus?”,  I do the most Jewish thing I know of: I answer a question with a question. I ask them, “Why is it that you don’t believe?”

You see, I have my reasons for believing. And when I ask why they don’t believe, the answer I get almost every, single time is “Because he isn’t.” So I ask why they believe He isn’t. What are their reasons? What biblical arguments against Yeshua do they have to prove He isn’t the Messiah?  And they say, ” He just isn’t, that’s all.” WOW!! How can you argue with that?

It is so sad; here is someone who may be a wonderful person and really believe in God, but they are doomed to Sheol because they reject Messiah, and their reason for rejecting Him is “because.” Oy!

I can’t get a mature, thought-out and biblically sound reason from any Jews who have questioned me why they don’t believe. It comes down to this: they don’t believe Yeshua is the Messiah because they were told He isn’t. That’s the reason- their father and their mother and their Rabbi and Zayda  and Bubbe and all their friends…all the other Jews they know tell them He wasn’t the Messiah. Oh, yes, and that if they should ever even think He is our Messiah then they can’t be Jewish anymore.

This is a bigoted and anti-Yeshua idealism. It’s not anti-Christian- Yeshua wasn’t a Christian. He was and is Messiah. He is above religion, He is only for God and God’s rules because (here it comes again…get ready…almost there …) GOD HAS NO RELIGION!!! 

What makes this worse is the Christian teaching that Yeshua died a Jew but was resurrected a Christian, and now that He completed God’s work all that “Jewish” stuff isn’t necessary. Kosher, the Festivals, even the proper day for Shabbat…all old and done away with. We are under the blood, not the law. Again, Oy! Where do they get this stuff? Oh, yeah, they get it from the same place the Jews get their beliefs- someone told them that’s how it is.

What we ended up with is Jews are taught believing in Yeshua as the Messiah is wrong and one can’t be Jewish if they do, which is then supported by Christianity telling everyone that Jesus did away with all the rules and laws that make one “Jewish”, so now we have Jews and Christians agreeing that anyone who believes Yeshua / Jesus is the Messiah is anything but Jewish.

Blind guides and lost sheep.  Sad, sad, sad.

“Because” is no reason. If you are not sure about who Yeshua is, read the bible. Read the whole bible, Genesis through Revelations. And don’t read the King James (i.e., anti-Semitic) version, or any of the regular versions. Read the David Stern version. Read some Messianic version. Heck- read my book! There are links to it on my home page (softcover or digital.)  But read something! Get information, not opinion. Make up your own mind. For the sake of your Eternal soul, please don’t depend on anyone else to tell you what the “truth” is about Yeshua. Talk to people, sure, but read and study and make up your own mind.

Be assured that if you should choose to believe Yeshua is the Messiah , you absolutely do NOT have to stop being Jewish. In truth, there is nothing more Jewish than belief in a Messiah. The trick is believing in the right Messiah. So find out for yourself.

Please!! Do the work: Eternity is an awfully long time to spend being wrong, and you have until your last breath to accept Him.

Final word: for those that do not know what it means to “accept Yeshua as your Messiah”, let me tell you what it meant for me. It meant accepting that I am a sinner, accepting that God provided a way for me to be with Him through a Messiah’s sacrificial death, thereby atoning for my sins, and that by “accepting Yeshua” I am committing myself to do T’shuvah (turn/ atone) so I can be with God throughout Eternity. I am still Jewish; in fact, I am even more “Jewish” now than I ever was before I was “saved”. I worship God, not Yeshua- he was supernatural in many ways, but he was human and He is my Messiah. He is not God and should not be worshipped as God. That is idolatry, and (sadly) a very real part of much Christian worship.  I capitalize His name and pronouns referring to Him out of respect for Him and His position, not because He is God. At least, not at this time. Right now He is Messiah. Did Yeshua come from God? Is He God in the flesh (which, by definition, makes Him human, doesn’t it?) Is he just a Prophet?

That, my Friends, is for another Drash.

Who Really Killed Jesus?

Growing up during the 50’s and 60’s I often was called “Christ Killer” by those nice Catholic kids from Christ the King High School. I didn’t know the Lord, but knew enough to counter with, “If Jesus came to die for your sins, then all we Jews did was complete God’s plan- you should be thanking us!”

It’s funny that with so little understanding I actually wasn’t that far from the truth.

It’s indisputable that the Romans killed Jesus. After all, Pilate condemned him, the soldiers flogged him and they nailed him to the tree.

Oh, but wait a minute…. Pilate wanted to set Him free and the Jews said to crucify Him in place of Barrabus. So it really was the Jews who killed Jesus.

Oh, but wait a minute… it wasn’t “The Jews” that killed Him, for there were (probably) more than 250,000 followers, nearly all of whom were Jewish, so it wasn’t really the entire Jewish population. In fact, the trial was illegal under Jewish law, so it was really just a few politically empowered people that rallied the mob, using mob mentality, that caused Pilate to succumb to their demands. It was just the Pharisees and Sadducees leaders that killed Jesus.

Oh, but wait a minute…Herod could have set Him free but he chose not to, so really Herod was the reason Yeshua was killed- Herod did it!

Oh, but wait a minute…Yeshua said that if He wanted to, he could have had God send legions of angels to protect and save Him, and He had been telling the Talmudim (Students / Apostles) for days that He would be handed over to the Goyim (Nations) and caused to suffer and die, and that this had to happen. So Yeshua actually committed suicide! Sort of like when people shoot at the police to get the police to kill them because they can’t shoot themselves.

Oh, but wait a minute…we always say that,  “He died for our sins”. So then, actually, we all killed Him.

Now we’re getting close.

Here is the definitive, correct, and absolutely valid answer to the age-old question, “Who Killed Jesus?”: I did. That’s right- it was me. Me, and me alone.

Whoa! Stop the music! C’mon, Steve- you weren’t even born then!  That’s right, I wasn’t even born then. But I am a sinner. I was born into sin, my nature is to sin, I have sinned, I still sin (thanks to the Ruach and my love for the Lord, I sin a lot less and am getting better at not sinning) and I can guarantee that no matter how hard I try, I will continue to sin until I am dead.

The purpose of the Messiah is to bring us all back into relationship with the Almighty. That is a simple, but (I think you’ll agree) accurate description of His purpose. Since God cannot abide or even be in the presence of sin, the sacrificial death of the Messiah is what cleanses us of our sins. By this cleansing we can now approach God. Messiah comes, Messiah dies, we are cleansed by His blood sacrifice, we now have a right relationship with God and can be in His presence. Job done.

I think the expression “He died for our sins” is misleading and is designed to make us feel good about ourselves, like , “Oh, I’m really a good person and good people get to go to heaven.”

What a crock!

Yeshua died for my sins! If the rest of the world was sinless, if every single person born before me and after me lived a Torah-perfect life, Yeshua would still have given up His majesty, taken on a mantle of flesh, lived a Torah-perfect life, died a painful and torturous death, and bled out His last drop of blood…for ME! I believe, absolutely, He would have done that just for me. Doesn’t He tell us so? In the parable about the man who had 100 sheep and if missing one would leave the other 99 to find the missing one. And when he finds the one missing and brings it back, he is overjoyed. And the parable about the woman missing a valuable coin. Upon finding it she is so happy she entertains people at a party (I’m taking some cultural liberties here) to celebrate.

Yeshua did what He did not for us, but for me. It is soooo important that each one of us understand this, because we need to own our sin. We each need to own-up to our failure to live as God wants. Not to beat ourselves up (that is from the Enemy), but to really understand how much Yeshua went through for my sake. Yes, for your sake too, but it is absolutely essential I feel that He did it for me.

Why? Because when we “own” our sin, we can give it away. You can’t really give away something you don’t own, so to give up our sin we need to first own it. The “religious world” teaches everything about sin in a third-party format. Sin is shared with others. He died for our sins, We are saved, by his blood we are freed.  I think this is a bad teaching because when you are part of a crowd you don’t feel individually responsible. You don’t have that sense of personal accountability for what happened, and your devotion cannot be as strong as when it is you, and you alone.

That is why I killed Yeshua. It was my fault he had to die because I needed to be able to escape the spiritual consequences of my sins. The physical and immediate consequences of sin are inescapable. Messiah didn’t die so I won’t have to face the results of my sins in this world (there’s an entire Drash on this topic- I’ll have to make a note to do that one) but so that I won’t have to suffer for them throughout Eternity. It is my fault He died, He died for my sins, I killed Him. I own my sin, and that’s why I can give it to Him.

You need to own your sin. You need to accept that you are a sinner. I know many people who think (because it’s what they have been taught) that if they are a “good person” they get to go to heaven. I feel so bad for them. They don’t own their sin, they see it as something that, frankly, isn’t a problem because it’s all covered. Jesus has their back, and it’s all third-party, non-committal understanding. It’s not really them. It’s everyone else. It’s also a lie from the pit of Sheol (Hell) and I feel so bad for them because they have a really nasty reality check coming up.

I have rambled a little bit more than usual. I keep repeating this over and over, that we need to own our sin, we need to feel personally responsible for Yeshua’s death, we need to understand that He would have done this just for me, or for you, even if no one else on Earth needed it. We need to feel this way so that our commitment to Him is solid, built on rock, and with deep roots. When a person feels that they are just a part of a group, it is easy to place the onus on the group. That’s mob mentality. When it comes to my salvation, I am the only one responsible for it.

My salvation is between me and Messiah Yeshua, and no one else. He died because I needed Him to do so, because I can’t be Torah-perfect. It’s because of me He died, which means I killed Jesus.

I pray that you, every single, individual person reading this Drash today, will walk away with the absolute conviction to say, “I killed Jesus. He died for me, and because of me. No one else is involved.”

Feel it, believe it, own it.

Interpreting the Torah

Did they really use the word “Church” in the Gospels? I mean, when they were written, not when the Council of Nicene rewrote and compiled them. When Yeshua said, in Matthew 5, that He came to “fulfill the Law” did He mean to finish it so that it doesn’t apply anymore?

The Bible was written in a foreign language, and interpreting a foreign language is hard. If that language isn’t your first tongue, you need to understand more than just the words. You need to know the definition, as well as the denotation, and the connotation, too.  You need to understand the cultural context, the historical meaning and the current meaning. It isn’t easy.

When you have a consonantal language such as Hebrew, it makes it all the more difficult. Especially when the cultural context is thousands of years old.

I was taught that when we interpret the Torah (as well as all the other books that make up the complete Bible) we need to use “Circles of Context.”  Think of a rock falling into a pool of water, sending out concentric circles. When we interpret what is written, the first circle is the context of the sentence or paragraph(s). We need to know who is writing, what the person is writing about and to whom.

The next circle out from that one is the context of the chapter or book. What came before this section, and what is coming after it.

The next circle is one that is hermeneutic. We need to look at how what we are interpreting fits into the entire Bible, since we know that God doesn’t say one thing now and then a totally different thing later, He is the same today, yesterday, and tomorrow. Since the Bible is more than just God’s Word ( it is who He is), the Bible is hermeneutically sound; therefore, our interpretation needs to be that way, also.

We still have other circles. There is the cultural context, there is the historical context, and there is the actual language, itself.

Finally, we have to completely rid ourselves of any personal bias or desire to have something mean what we want it to mean. For instance, the word “Christian” is only used twice, in Timothy, and didn’t mean then what it means today. When Yeshua said He came to fulfill the law, He didn’t mean to complete it, as many have been taught. In First Century “Rabbi-speak” (i.e., the cultural context) to fulfill the law meant to interpret it correctly. To give an improper interpretation would be a “trespass” against the law. And the word “Church” was never used in the original writings; it was introduced by King James.

Here’s a good example: the word “Synagogue” today is known as a Jewish place of worship, but in the Greek it means a gathering. It could be a gathering of people with a similar purpose or belief, or a gathering of rocks in a pile. When the Bible was written it meant nothing more than a bunch of people gathering together, without any reference to a specific religion. Today, however, it means a place where Jews worship. If we didn’t understand this, when reading Revelations and coming to where Yochanan (John) writes about the “Synagogue of Satan” we would, naturally, associate it to Jews because everyone knows that a synagogue is where you find Jews. But that is a totally wrong interpretation.

The best way to interpret the Bible, in my opinion, is to read it and ask the Ruach haKodesh to open your eyes and heart to what God wants you to get from His word. There are three levels, the P’Shat (written word), the Drash (hidden meanings) and the Sud (deeply spiritual or mystical understanding). Anyone can read the words, but to really understand their intent and spiritual meaning we need the Ruach to guide and interpret for us.

One day (it’s on my bucket list) I want to learn Hebrew and Greek, so that I can really find out for myself what the Bible says. Until then, and for all of us that have to work with the English versions, we need to take into account the Circles of Context when we read the Bible, especially because it is someone else’s interpretation. God’s word never returns void, so even with interpretations that are not always the best (most New Covenant interpretations are subtly anti-Semitic) if we let the Ruach lead us and remember to use Circles of Context, we can see new truths every day in the same words we have read dozens of times.

That’s what is so wonderful about reading God’s Word- every day it is the same and every day we can get something different from it.