Just for the Lost Sheep of Israel

In the Gospel of Matthew, we read in Chapter 15, verses 21-28 about a Canaanite woman who asked Yeshua to heal her daughter. This is what he replied to her (CJB):

He said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Isra’el.” But she came, fell at his feet and said, “Sir, help me!” He answered, “It is not right to take the children’s food and toss it to their pet dogs.” She said, “That is true, sir, but even the dogs eat the leftovers that fall from their master’s table.” Then Yeshua answered her, “Lady, you are a person of great trust. Let your desire be granted.” And her daughter was healed at that very moment.

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More than any other misunderstanding within Christianity is the teaching that Jesus is their Savior. Most every Christian I have ever met has been taught that Jews rejected Jesus and so they can’t be saved; Jesus is now only a Christian savior, and to be saved you must be a Christian.

I believe the wrongful teachings and doctrines of Christianity were developed after the original Disciples and many of the Jews who accepted Yeshua when he was still teaching had all died. The Jewish population of Believers was far outpaced by the Gentile converts to this (now) new religion calling itself Christianity. And, by the time Constantine got his fingers in the pie, what was supposed to be a group of people looking for salvation through the sacrifice of the Messiah, Yeshua, had turned into a new religion that worshiped Jesus Christ, who died for their sins.

He didn’t die for the sins of Jews, but for the sins of Christians.

I have seen many postings and had discussions with Christians who have held to the belief that because the Jews rejected Jesus, God has rejected the Jews; this is called Replacement Theology. I have also heard people say that the only laws that apply to Gentiles are the 10 Commandments, and the rest of the Torah instructions are just for Jews.

The truth is there are many, MANY traditional Christian teachings that are totally created by people, and not in accordance with anything that God said.

So, where is all this leading to? It’s to remind the Gentiles who accept Yeshua as their savior that he is not a Savior for the Gentiles: he is the Messiah of and for the Jews. It wasn’t until AFTER Yeshua did what he was supposed to do as the Messiah, providing the pathway to salvation for the Jewish people, that the Gentiles were also allowed to enter.

I don’t mean this to sound as derogatory or insulting, but the fact is that Gentiles who accept Yeshua/Jesus as their savior are getting the scraps that fell off our Jewish table. You are allowed to walk the path of salvation that was created for the Jewish people and to enter salvation through the doorway made for the Jewish people. There has NEVER been a separate path or door for Gentiles.

As such, when you are walking the pathway made for Jews, you are expected to walk the same way the Jews walk.

God has no religion, he only has his instructions for the way we are to worship him and the way we are to treat each other. There is not one passage in the New Covenant that is a direct instruction from God; in fact, the only place that God says anything in the New Covenant is in the Gospels, right after Yeshua has the Ruach (Spirit) fall on him and at the transformation on the mountain.

The letters from Shaul (Paul) to the Gentile congregations he started are not divine instructions or even against the existing instructions in the Torah- they are Shaul’s teaching the Gentiles, who had no idea how to live as God wants them to, in a way that the Gentiles could accept. The letter to the new believers written by the Elders (Acts 15) was never meant to be interpreted as the only things new Believers (later all Christians) had to do. It was meant to be understood as these things must be done immediately, and the rest of the Torah they will learn eventually (Acts 15:21), clearly showing that the Elders expected the Gentiles who were following Yeshua to adopt the Torah.

I am glad that God allowed the Gentiles, meaning everyone who is not Jewish by birth, to be saved. It was always his plan, which is why he told Abraham that his descendants will be a blessing to the whole world and told Moses that the Jewish people would be his (God’s) nation of priests.  It was always meant for the Gentiles to be given the opportunity to receive forgiveness of sins.

It was never meant that the Gentiles would create their own religion with different holidays, a different Sabbath day, and different doctrines. And God never wanted them to bow down and pray to statues or bury their dead under the Sanctuary floor, or teach each other that God’s instructions are not for them.

Shaul knew this and tried to warn the early congregations about this in Romans 11:17-18 where he says:

But if some of the branches were broken off, and you — a wild olive — were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, then don’t boast as if you were better than the branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you.

The fact is that Yeshua was sent only to, and only for, the Jewish people in order that God’s promises regarding the Messiah could be completed in Yeshua. Yeshua, himself, says this to the Canaanite woman. In other words, the Salvation Party was only for Jews, hosted by God, and paid for by a Jewish Messiah. Salvation has always been a Jewish event; when salvation was made possible for the Gentiles that was simply the after-party.

Anyone who accepts Yeshua as their Messiah and asks forgiveness for their sins through his sacrificial death will be saved, and once saved we are all in the body of Messiah, which means we are to try to live as he lived. And he lived according to God’s instructions in the Torah, where God told us how to worship him, which celebrations to observe, what to eat, how to treat each other, as well as many other instructions on how to live.

It comes down to this: you have to choose whether you will listen to what men say, or to what God says.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages with everyone you know, and check out my books. If you like what you hear in these messages, you will like my books, as well.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Where It All Went Wrong

Do you know anything about construction? I was a Combat Engineer when I was in the Marine Corps, and we built stuff; bridges, buildings, roads, minefields, and the best part was that we also got to blow things up.

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

One of the valuable lessons I learned about construction was that when you are making copies of something, such as cutting roof rafters, you always measure and cut succeeding rafters from the first one. The reason for this is that there is always some small change, an eighth of an inch here or a quarter of an inch there, which won’t really affect that one rafter so much. But, when you cut the second rafter, then the third is cut from the second, then the fourth is cut from the third, and so on, by the time you get to the 10th or 12th rafter, you are off by inches and the rafters will not fit the roof.

The same holds true for teaching. If someone teaches a lesson that makes sense which others like, they will copy that lesson exactly. But when somebody decides to tweak it a bit and teaches that, they are no longer cutting their rafter from the original.

God told Moses the Jewish people would be his priests to the world (Exodus 19:6), meaning that they would learn how to do what God said we should do, then teach the world how to do it, exactly the same way they learned it.

But something happened to disrupt that plan, and that something was human intervention.

This is where it started to all go wrong for the Jews: over the years, the leaders of Judaism decided that what God said wasn’t enough, so they enhanced our understanding (I’m being facetious) with their own interpretations of how to obey the instructions in the Torah, and that became the traditional or Oral Law, which we find in the Talmud.

When Yeshua (Jesus) came to earth one of the things he did was teach the spiritual meaning of what God taught the Jewish people in the Torah. Those teachings were to help us understand correctly what God wanted from us, meaning not just obedience to the letter of the law, but a heartfelt desire to do what is right in God’s eyes. Yeshua was helping to bring us back into alignment with the original rafter measurements.

But something happened to disrupt that plan, and that something was human intervention.

As more and more Gentiles were added to this Jewish movement, that’s where it all started to go wrong for the Gentiles. There was both a political reason and a social reason for this: politically, the Jews in Judea were rebelling against Roman rule and the Romans didn’t take very kindly to that, so the Gentiles (who never before had any problem with Rome) didn’t want to be associated with the Jewish population.

Socially, the change in lifestyle from a hedonistic pagan to a righteous God-fearing person was a real paradigm shift, and the Elders in Jerusalem knew this, which is why they sent a letter to the (now mostly) Gentile congregations forming throughout the Middle East and Asia, which gave them only 4 commandments to obey immediately (Acts 15.) The intention was to make it easier for these people to convert to a Godly lifestyle and it was expected they would eventually incorporate all of God’s instructions into their lives (if you have been taught differently, see Acts 15:21and adjust your rafter measurement.)

By separating the Yeshua-following Jews and Gentiles from the mainstream Jews, the leaders of this new movement created a rift that God and Yeshua never wanted to have. Believers in Yeshua’s teaching and that he was the Messiah were never supposed to become a separate religion, but (if anything) maybe another form of Judaism. Today within Judaism we have the Chasidic, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist sects of Judaism (I will also include Messianic Jews, although the other sects reject us.)

The letter the Elders sent was OK, but they should have specified more clearly that it was only temporary and the Gentiles accepting Yeshua were still required to learn all of the Torah and live it. The letters from Shaul (Paul) certainly did NOT help to get this idea across. Later, the Gentile leaders of this movement, which by the end of the First Century couldn’t be called Judaism anymore, changed the Sabbath day and when Constantine took it over, he created new holidays, doctrine, laws, commandments, traditions, and ended up with the religion we call Christianity.

The Jewish Messiah, Yeshua, was forgotten and a Gentile savior, Jesus Christ, was created, with his own religion called Christianity.

God never intended that Yeshua would start a new religion, and Yeshua never wanted that, either. When God gave his instructions to Moses, which outlines exactly how God wants us to worship him and treat each other, he wanted that to be a lifestyle, not a religion. God has no religion, and he doesn’t want his creation to have a religion: he wants us all to be as he says we should be. He is clear about that throughout the Torah and what he said through his prophets.

The Torah is like God’s first rafter: we are supposed to live exactly as he told us in the Torah, and the Torah was to be understood exactly as Yeshua taught.  Everyone should have been “cut” from that one rafter, but that didn’t happen.

The Jews neglected using the Torah and cut rafters from the Oral Laws, and when Yeshua came those rafters didn’t fit the house God had designed. Yeshua tried to get them back onto the correct measurements and gave us a perfectly cut rafter to use as our model, but the followers of Yeshua decided to change the angle and cut their rafters from the changed rules and now we have so many different forms of Judaism and Christianity that we can’t find any two rafters that fit the same roof.

It all went wrong at the very beginning, and it has been so wrong for so long that today we can’t fix it. But God can fix it, once and forever, and he has even told us how he will do that; those architectural specifications are found in Jeremiah 31:31. 

Messianic Moment is a teaching ministry, and I will never tell you what you must do, only what I believe God has told us we should do. The choice of what you do is yours, and yours alone, but that also means that when you have to face God and tell him why you did what you did, you won’t be able to blame anyone else. Whatever you do, however you live, no matter who told you what to do, you choose to obey someone. If it isn’t God, then you will be in trouble.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages with everyone you know, and check out my website and the books I have written. I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Savior or Son: Why Did He Come?

I wrote a teaching series (it is available through my website) on the differences between the Jewish and Christian expectations of the Messiah. One main difference is that in Judaism, the Messiah is seen as a national savior, whereas Christianity sees him as much more of a personal savior.

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

In the Gospel of Matthew, considered by many to be the most “Jewish” of the four, Yeshua is referred to as King and Messiah many more times than in the Gospel of John, unquestionably the most spiritually written and metaphoric of the four, who constantly refers to Yeshua as the Son of God, and (in my opinion) where the idea of the Trinity originated from.

According to the NIV Study Bible, Matthew was written in the 70s, Mark in the mid-60s, Luke around 60, and John probably between 80 and 95, making John the last and oldest of the Gospels. Matthew was written to the Jewish Believers, Luke (most likely) to any Believer, Mark to the Gentile Believers in Rome and John to Gentile Believers.

When Yeshua came to earth and started his ministry, the Jewish population was looking for a political savior which is part of the reason that he wasn’t accepted by the majority, who were more interested in being freed from Roman authority than they were being freed from spiritual slavery.  The Gentiles who accepted Yeshua, on the other hand, did not have any political agenda for their savior; in truth, they never even considered salvation because their culture and religion never had need of a savior.

This difference in the description of the Messiah, along with the political environment at that time, led to a distinctly different approach with the Gospels, which led to the separation between the “mainstream” Jews, the Jewish Believers, and the Gentile Believers.

When Matthew wrote his gospel, the majority of Believers were Jews who accepted Yeshua as the Messiah God promised, but by the time John was penning his narrative, he was writing to Gentiles who did not have any real idea of the traditional, Jewish understanding of who and what the Messiah would be. John identified Yeshua almost exclusively throughout his gospel as the son of God, which is a description the Gentiles would easily identify with since so many Roman gods and goddesses had children. These Gentiles were experiencing a religious and lifestyle paradigm shift, and that is why the Elders in Jerusalem did not require them to make a total conversion to Judaism, which is what they were learning about, all at once. We read about this in Acts 15, and too many times people totally miss Acts 15:21, where James states these newly converted Gentiles would learn the Torah when they went to Shabbat services and, eventually, become Torah observant.

The Messiah, in Judaic thought, was to regather the people to the Land (Israel), reconstruct the Temple and reinstitute the sacrificial system so that we would be able to receive forgiveness of sin (which is impossible when there is no temple) and thereby once more be in communion with God. In the times of Yeshua, because the temple still existed, they expected the Messiah to free them from the Roman rule so that all the Jews in the Diaspora would be able to return.

The Gentiles had no such expectation or desire, and their main reason for accepting Yeshua was to receive an eternal existence in heaven.  The approach to the Gentiles was rejecting paganism and accepting Yeshua, as the son of God who would be able to grant them eternal joy.

At the time John wrote his Gospel, the Romans were persecuting the Jews because they were revolting against Roman rule. It had always been okay with Rome to allow the Jews to continue to practice their religion, but when it came to kicking Rome out of Israel, that’s where the Romans drew the line.  So, because the Jews were on the Roman hit list, these Gentiles (who were Roman citizens) didn’t want to be associated with the Jews, which is why they didn’t rush into converting to Judaism. Besides that, by the time John wrote his gospel, there were many more Gentiles in this (what had been a) Jewish movement than Jews, and they weren’t in any rush to get in trouble with Rome. So, they started to separate themselves by changing the Sabbath, not requiring more than what the Elders stated in their letter, and trying to stay under the radar with Rome.

This eventually backfired on them, because the only thing Rome hated as much as a rebellion was the establishment of a new religion under their rule.

Eventually, as we know, once Constantine got his hand in it, Christianity, as we know it today, was created with a different Sabbath and man-made holidays to replace the ones God told us we should celebrate.

Since then, Christians and Jews have been at odds with each other, Christians trying to convert Jews and Jews hating Christians for trying to do it. The separation between Jews and Christians has been greatly enhanced because of the difference between how Yeshua is described in the gospels of Matthew and John. I believe this was intentional but never designed to have the destructive influence and results that it has.

The Messiah came to fulfill God’s plan to reconnect with his chosen people, and to also extend grace and salvation to the Gentiles. The Messiah, Yeshua, did that, and once his role as Messiah was completed, he was returned to heaven to sit at the right hand of God. One day, soon (God willing!) he will return as King Messiah, ruling the earth, defeating once and for all the Enemy of God, and completing God’s plan for humanity. At that time, both Jews and Gentiles will see Yeshua for who and what he truly is, both Messiah and son of God, but mainly the Messiah.

Yeshua came to earth to be the Messiah, and being the son of God was not required for that. Instead of identifying him as God’s Messiah, by the time John’s gospel was written and soon after that, men screwed it all up by presenting him in a way that was attractive to Gentiles and not as God intended.

Messiah was to be a stumbling block to those who rejected him, but instead because of what men did he became a stumbling block to the people he was sent to help.

Oy!

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share these messages with everyone you know. I welcome your comments and look forward to the next time we are together; until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Covenant Chronology

When we think of the word “chronology”, we think of a linear timeline, meaning something happening in a particular order. And that is fine, but for the purposes of this message we will discuss more than just the order of the covenants, we will also look at the priority of order within the covenants.

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

Let’s start with a basic introduction to what a covenant is, sort of a Covenant 101 Class:

A covenant is, essentially, a contract. Like contracts, there has to be a promise by one party to deliver some action to another party. There are two ways to make a contract, which are orally and written, and they are either unilateral or bilateral. The unilateral contract is a promise by one person with no requirements on the other party in order to receive the promised action, and a bilateral contract is two-way: A promises B to do something so long as B performs some service.

With regard to the covenants God made, the unilateral covenant is called unconditional, and the bilateral covenant is called conditional.

There are 5 covenants in the Bible:

  1. The Noahic Covenant (Genesis 8:21-22);
  2. The Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12-17);
  3. The Mosaic Covenant (Exodus 19-24);
  4. the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7); and
  5. The New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31).

Here is one of the most important things you must understand about the covenants which God has made with humanity: they are not exclusionary, they are complementary.

That means that the newer covenant does not replace or supersede the previous covenant, but adds to it, confirming and increasing the scope to include the newer elements. For example, when God made his covenant with Abraham, he didn’t stop placing the rainbow in the sky. When he made the covenant with the Jewish people through Moses, he didn’t say circumcision wasn’t necessary anymore.

And when he promised all humanity he would make a New Covenant, it is based entirely on the prior covenant with King David to make one of his descendants the Messiah.

There are only two of the five covenants God made with us that are unconditional: the Noahic and the New. These are promises by God that do not require us to do anything in order to receive them. The other covenants are conditional. Circumcision was conditional for the Abrahamic, circumcision plus obedience to the instructions God gave Moses, and the line of kings under David must also remain obedient to the Torah for David’s descendants to remain on the throne.

The New Covenant, according to Christian theology, was made by Jesus at the Last Supper, but that is not true. God already told us what he would do way back in Jeremiah. And this New Covenant was unconditional because God said we can’t accomplish it, ourselves.

Now, one might say the New Covenant is conditional because we have to accept Yeshua as our Messiah in order to be saved, but technically, that is not really necessary. Although I have run into some who claim they are sinless and we all can be, despite what the Tanakh tells us, most people believe humans cannot live a sinless life. But, if we did, in other words, if we were able to obey every commandment in the Torah every moment of our life, then we would be righteous in God’s eyes and there would be no need for us to be saved by Messiah’s sacrifice.

I believe living a sinless existence is not possible for humans, which is why we need the Messiah, and since God did send the Messiah, it seems he agrees with me.

The last lesson for today is about the priority of order within the covenants; in other words, who does what, first.

Too many churches, especially the mega-churches with thousands of people, always prioritize their “spiel” about God with all the things God will do for you. And they finish with all you have to do is be a “good” person, loving each other and not doing anything bad. They teach that when you accept Jesus then God will give you blessings. They teach your only requirement is to accept Jesus as your Savior and you get blessings.

That’s not how it works, and besides that, it is also in the wrong order.

It isn’t about what God will do for us, but what we are to do for God. It’s true that God wants to bless us, but the blessings are not given until they are earned. The priority within these covenants is that we are to obey God’s instructions, i.e., do as he says we should, and then in return, he will be our God and we will receive the blessings he promises.

Jews have always known the proper priority because, well, we’re the ones through whom God set up this system. We understand that it is about what we are to do for God and not about what he will do for us. We serve God, not the other way around, and that means the priority, the proper “chronology” of actions within each conditional covenant, is that we must FIRST do our part, which is to follow the instructions God gave us, then he will do his part and deliver blessings to us.

One of the most remarkable things about God is that even though we have broken the conditional covenants over and over, and over again, God has not exercised his moral and legal right to renege on his part. Even better, God gave us an escape clause: not to escape the covenant, but to escape the consequences of breaking the covenant, and that is the sacrificial system. When the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed that made forgiveness impossible, but through the Davidic covenant, which is accomplished through Yeshua, we can find redemption, which is why without Yeshua we have no hope of salvation.

What I am hoping you get out of today’s message is this: the covenants God made do not remove or do away with any of his previous covenants, they are all found in the Tanakh, and the most important lesson today is that we are the ones who do for God, not the other way around. When we do as God wants, we will receive his blessings, but he has no obligation to do anything for anyone of us until we show him we have met the conditions of his covenant.

God is the most wonderful partner anyone can have in any covenant because he so desires to bless us, that even though we continuously break the covenant, he allows us to come back into that covenant.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share out these messages, buy my books, wash your hands and I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Why Read The Torah?

Oops! Last week when I posted Parashah Shemini, I was a week too early. I missed the fact that on the Shabbat after Pesach (Passover) we read a different portion of the Torah, specifically for that Shabbat. So, that means I am a week ahead, and as such, I thought we could use this week to review the reason why reading the Torah portion (called a Parashah, the plural is Parashot) is so important, especially if you want to be able to understand what is in the New Covenant writings.

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

The Torah is the first five books of the Bible (most of you already know that) and they contain every, single instruction for how to worship God and how to treat each other that God wants us to know. In truth, it is really the only part of the Bible that is made up of the exact words God gave to us, with Moses taking dictation. Every single Torah is exactly the same as every other Torah- when the Scribes who are specially trained to write the Torah (called Sopherim) finish copying one Torah to another, they count every single letter to make sure there is nothing missing or added.

Yeshua taught from the Torah. That was the only scripture that existed. Of course, there were many traditional teachings, which became the Mishna and the Gomorrah (together they make up the Talmud.) But as for the written word of God, when Yeshua was teaching, he was teaching from the only scripture there was, and that was the Torah. And as far as Yeshua being the spotless lamb of God, i.e. a sinless person, he was sinless because he did everything that God instructed us all to do, which (again) is found in the Torah.

My point is that to understand what Yeshua taught, we need to first know what is in the Torah. Shaul (Paul) also taught only from the Torah; in fact, being a Pharisee trained by one of the greatest Rabbis in Jewish history, Gamaliel, he was a Torah expert.

The New Covenant writings have absolutely nothing in them that is “new.” I know, I know…you are going to quote from Ecclesiastes and tell me there is nothing new under the sun, and (of course) I will agree with you, which also proves my point about the New Covenant. Yeshua taught from the Torah, the Disciples of Yeshua taught what they learned from Yeshua, which was from the Torah, and Shaul taught what he knew from the Torah.

Let’s take a break for a minute and go over something important to know. In the letters from Shaul to the congregations of (almost exclusively) Gentile Believers he formed, he gave them a lot of leeway in how strictly they followed the Torah because they needed that. He was against requiring Gentiles to make a complete and immediate conversion to Judaism because he knew that paradigm shift in lifestyle would be too difficult and he would lose a lot of them. That is the same conclusion the Elders in Jerusalem came to, which you can read about in Acts 15. They gave only 4 immediate requirements, and that was never meant to be the only thing Gentiles had to do, just all they had to do for now. It was assumed (and you can see that plainly in Acts 15:21) they would eventually learn all the commandments in the Torah. This discussion, however, is for another time.

If you wanted to build a house, you wouldn’t start with the roof or the second floor, would you? In fact, you wouldn’t even start with the main floor until you had laid the foundation. The Torah is the foundation for the Tanakh, which is what many consider to be the “Jewish Bible”.  The books that come after Deuteronomy are either of historical nature (such as Joshua, Kings 1 and 2, Chronicles 1 and 2, Ruth, Esther, etc.) or they are prophetic books. But they all have one thing in common, and that is that they show us how well, or more often how poorly, the Chosen people lived within the covenant they had made with God. They also show how God always kept his side of the covenant, even when we kept breaking our side of it. And how willing God was, and still is, to forgive us when we repent.

The New Covenant writings start with the Gospels, which are the narrative of all the messianic prophecies we read throughout the Tanakh coming to fruition in Messiah Yeshua. His teachings, which we read in the Gospels, are all from the Torah, but what was different was not what he taught about the commandments, but what he taught about how we are to follow the commandments.

The Pharisees were teaching performance-based salvation, i.e. what we call in Judaism the P’shat, the plain language of the Torah. For example, when they taught do not murder, they meant to not kill someone on purpose, and that was all. Yeshua taught the Remes, the deeper, spiritual meaning of the law, so he said we know not to murder, but if we hate in our heart, that is murder.

If you aren’t familiar with the terms P’shat or Remes, look up the Jewish form of biblical exegesis called PaRDeS.

In order to understand what Yeshua taught, we need to know what the Pharisees taught so we can see the difference. Only reading the New Covenant is like reading the second book of a two-book story, without ever having read the first book. You might get some of the story-line, and may understand a lot of what is happening, but without knowing the background you will never really understand the characters or the way things got to where you “came in” to the narrative.

This is why it is important for anyone and everyone who professes to want to follow Yeshua to know what he knew- the Torah. After all, didn’t John say the Word of God became flesh and walked among us? He was talking about Yeshua, and the only Word of God (as we learned earlier) that existed then was the Torah, so Yeshua is the living Torah. That is why he could never preach anything against the Torah, because if he did then he would be a house divided against itself, and we all know what he said about that.

If you are a Believer and have not read the Torah, then you are cheating yourself out of knowing your Messiah. You cannot understand the depth of what Yeshua taught or understand anything in the letters Paul wrote if you do not know the Torah and, in fact, you really need to know the entire Tanakh. That was what they taught from, and that is where we learn about God, the Messiah and God’s plan for mankind.

It comes down to this: if you don’t know the Torah, you can’t really know Yeshua.

Thank you for being here; please subscribe and share these messages with others. I always welcome your comments, and next Friday we will be back on schedule with the Parashah readings.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

The Truth About Mark 7 and Acts 10 as They Relate to the Laws of Kashrut (Kosher)

Let’s start with the Christian teaching that the Laws of Kashrut (Kosher laws in Leviticus 11) are not required for Christians. The two stories from the New Covenant most used to justify this are Mark 7:19 and Acts 10-11.  In Mark, which we discussed briefly in an earlier lesson, Yeshua was talking with the Pharisees about handwashing prior to eating, and how we will not make our food ceremoniously unclean if we don’t first wash our hands, which was a rabbinic (Talmudic) requirement. In this discussion, Mark states that Yeshua declared all food clean. This verse has been used to show that the kosher laws were overruled and abandoned by Yeshua. Nothing could be further from the truth: Yeshua wasn’t talking about clean and unclean as in what was allowed to be eaten, he was talking about a ceremony, a ritual. As far as declaring all food clean, what was “food” for a First Century Jew is not what the world considers food, today. In India, beef is not considered food; to some African tribes warm blood taken from a cow is considered food; to some other people, monkey brains are a delicacy. And for a Frist Century Jew, the items that are specified in Lev. 11 as forbidden are not “food.” So, all food being clean means that all those things which were allowed to be eaten were the food that was declared clean and, therefore, would not make us ceremoniously unclean if we did not first wash out hands before eating it.

The Book of Acts, Chapters 10 and 11 tells us about a dream (vision) that Kefa (Peter) had while sleeping. The vision had a sheet with all kinds of non-kosher animals on it, and a voice from heaven said to kill and eat. Kefa refused to do so, and each time he refused he heard the voice say, “Do not declare unclean that which I have made clean.” This happened three times. As soon as he awoke, there were three servants of a Roman Centurion named Cornelius at the door of the house, asking for Kefa to come to the Roman soldier’s house. This narrative is used to show that God told Kefa that it is now allowed to eat non-kosher animals. Again, nothing could be further from the truth: first of all, this is a vision and visions are usually interpretive and not to be taken literally. The narrative even tells us that Kefa didn’t understand the meaning of it. At that time, a Roman person’s house was an unclean place to a Jew, and to go into one would make one unclean. That means you would have to wash your body and clothes and would not be allowed into the Temple or even the Courts until after evening. But the true interpretation is that there were three times the sheets came down because there were three servants at the door, and that meant Kefa was to go with them. At the end of the chapter, we are told about the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) coming upon the Roman people in that house who accepted Yeshua as their Messiah. They were the “unclean” thing that God made clean because Romans (as I have said) were considered to be unclean people. And the fact that this had nothing to do with food is confirmed in Chapter 11 when the Elders, upon hearing what happened, didn’t say, “Yahoo!! Now we can go to Bob Evans for eggs and sausages!” but instead praised God that he made it possible for the Gentiles to be saved from their sins, as well as God’s chosen people, the Jews.

What is Really Important to Know?

Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook asking what day Yeshua died on. I replied asking why the person wanted to know that. I said the day doesn’t matter, but what does matter is that he rose. I added we need to stay focused not on data, but on faith and not worry about details.

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I thought my point was clear enough but it wasn’t. I was told by a few people that I shouldn’t restrain someone from asking questions, that knowledge is the beginning of wisdom and I was being ungodly, and one person told me I was too “bossy” and who do I think I am telling people what they should do.

Let me begin with this simple truth: Yes, Virginia…there are stupid questions. And the people that, in my experience, defensively state that I should never stop someone from asking a question, are the ones who are just too lazy to research and find out for themselves what the answers are. They ask questions so they don’t have to think or make their own decision, and those are the sheep that get led astray so easily.

The kind of question I respect is one that starts with “I would like to know (whatever), and have researched it and think this is the answer. Can someone please verify or correct me?”

I believe what is important to know is anything that leads one to a proper understanding of who God is, who the Messiah is, and what we have to do in order to attain salvation through them. Things such as which day Yeshua actually died on, the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, or which calendar is really correct are not bad questions, but they do not answer what I call the Acid Test question:

How does this affect my salvation?”

That is the most important question, in my opinion, that anyone can ask, and should be the very first thing we ask ourselves before we delve into the plethora of minutia that is available to us in the Bible.

Hebrews 11:1 says:

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

and Deuteronomy 29:29 says:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”

If we combine the meaning of those two passages what we end up with is that we will never know everything and we have to faithfully accept that, concentrating only on being obedient to God’s commandments. I would go as far as to say that one needs the strength that comes from humility in being able to say, “I don’t know and it really isn’t that important to me because it won’t affect my salvation.”

Of course, I have heard arguments against what I just wrote, the main two arguments being that it is wrong to stifle someone asking a question and that what I think is not important they know to be absolutely essential.

This ministry is a teaching ministry, and I have nothing against learning, which is evident because right on the home page of this ministry website is a quote from the prophet Hosea which says “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” I have always been very interested in knowing everything I can about everything. I have always been the “Duty Expert” in every job I have held, and still love to learn. And the most important thing I have learned, which I like to believe came to me through the Holy Spirit, is that I don’t need to know everything.

My point is that the knowledge we need is not detailed minutia but the general knowledge of God, Messiah and the Torah.   All we really need to know is

  • The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the one true God ;
  • Yeshua is the Messiah he promised to send, whose sacrificial death provides us the means by which we can be forgiven of our sins;
  • The Torah is the set of instructions God gave to the world, through the Jewish people, which tells us how to worship him and treat each other and that we are to live according to those instructions as best as we can; and finally
  • To daily ask forgiveness for our sins, by means of Yeshua’s sacrifice for us.

If we know those four things, we know all we need to know to be saved.

Everything else may be nice to know stuff, and interesting, no doubt, but not essential. The danger I see, especially with neophyte Believers, in asking too many detailed questions is the potential to become Gnostic, in other words, to think that without this detailed knowledge of numbers or dates or names we won’t be worshiping God properly and that the search for knowing details can often lead us away from being faithful.

Look…go ahead and ask your questions, absolutely try to learn all you can about the Bible, God and Messiah, and especially about what God expects from you. But temper your curiosity with the faithful acceptance that you don’t need to know everything, and always ask God to give you the wisdom to know what is and what isn’t important.

Knowing facts isn’t wisdom, but wisdom is knowing which facts you need to know.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share these messages with others to help this ministry grow.  I welcome your comments and look forward to the next time we are together.

Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Parashah Tzav 2020 (Command) Leviticus 6 – 8

We continue receiving the instructions from God regarding the various sacrifices. We are told to maintain the fire on the altar, the daily burnt offering, what to do with the parts of the offering, which parts go to the Priests, who may eat of which parts, what to do with the ashes, and finally, the inauguration of the services and anointing of Aaron and his sons.

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Considering how close this reading is to the Passover Seder (which this year will be in just 5 days), I want to talk about something I have mentioned before in different messages but always bears repeating.

Let’s look at Leviticus 7:15, which is part of the instructions for the Peace Offering (I am using the Soncino edition of the Pentateuch and Haftorah):

And the flesh of the sacrifice for his peace offering for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering.

Did you know there are actually three separate types of peace offering? They are:

  • Thanksgiving offerings, which are for deliverance from sickness or danger;
  • Offerings in fulfillment of a vow made in times of distress; and
  • Free-will offerings when the heart is moved to show gratitude to God

The unique thing about the peace offering is that it is the only sacrifice in which the one sacrificing partakes in the eating of the sacrifice. With all the other types of offerings, what is offered is reserved to the Lord and the Cohen making the offering; the Lord gets the best parts, and the Cohen takes a part of what has been offered as his payment, which he shares with his family.

But the peace offering is not just giving to the Lord, it is sharing with the Lord. It allows communion between man and God, bringing us together eating a holy meal while sharing each other’s presence.

During the Seder, we remember the sacrifice of the Passover lamb, and how its blood on the lentils of our homes saved us from the plague which killed all the firstborn. That sacrifice was not for sin or guilt but was a peace sacrifice because the one offering shared in the meat, and it saved us from danger.

Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus) sacrificed himself in order that we could have a way in which we could ask God for forgiveness, and his sacrifice occurred the day after the Passover Seder. Consequently, he has been called the Pesach Lamb of God, referring to the Passover sacrifice.

But that doesn’t make sense because the Passover lamb was not a sin sacrifice, and Yeshua died for our sins; his sacrifice replaced the need to bring an animal to the temple, which within a few decades after Yeshua’s death was completely destroyed, making sacrifice impossible.

Yet, the sacrifice of Yeshua was more than a sin sacrifice because his sacrifice provided more than just forgiveness of sin. His sacrifice also serves as a thanksgiving offering because once cleansed of sin we are able to come into communion with God; the parochet was torn, allowing us to enter into God’s presence. Not only that, but it saves us from danger, in fact, the greatest danger there is: the eternal consequence of sin.

Yeshua’s sacrifice is a double-edged sword: one side is the Yom Kippur sacrifice, which provides us forgiveness from our sins, and the other side is the Passover sacrifice, a thanksgiving offering that saves us from the danger of our sins and brings us into communion with God.

Two of the most important offerings that can be made to God: one to attain forgiveness of sin and the other as thanksgiving for salvation from danger. Only Yeshua, the Messiah, could have made this possible with one action, and only God could have given us a Messiah who was able to live a sinless life and thereby be an acceptable sacrifice.

What is left for us, today, is to accept that Yeshua is who he said he was, the Messiah God promised to send and to obey what he taught, which is what God said in the Torah.

One last note: in today’s reading God also specifies that when someone does not do all that is required regarding the peace offering then he will nullify the offering, and instead of communion with God it will be considered an abhorrent thing and not be accepted. Not only that, but the one who ignores God’s instructions will be cut off from his people and his iniquity will be on him.

The reason I point this out is that Christianity has been teaching Jesus died for our sins and therefore all sin is already forgiven and all that “Jewish” stuff in the Torah is not for those who follow Jesus. This is a lie and tantamount to violating the instructions for the thanksgiving sacrifice, which means that anyone who professes to follow Jesus but ignores the instructions in the Torah, will not have his or her offering (meaning Yeshua’s sacrifice) accepted. 

In other words, if you think that you are saved because Yeshua died for your sins, but you ignore what is written in the Torah, then Yeshua’s sacrifice will mean nothing for you.

God gave instructions in the Torah that tell us how to worship him and how to treat each other, and nothing Yeshua did or taught went against or changed any of those. If you want to be saved by the blood of the Passover Lamb of God, then you need to follow the instructions that the Lamb of God told us to follow. Don’t worry about what Paul or John or any of the Apostles said because they are not the Messiah!

Obey Yeshua, who taught to obey God, and his sacrifice will be accepted for you by God.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share these messages, and consider buying the books I have written. Actually, don’t consider buying them, just go ahead and buy them. If you like what you read in my messages you will like my books, too.

And remember that I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Still Have to Ask, What’s in a Name?

The title for today’s message comes, obviously, from the play “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare. The point is that a name doesn’t really identify or dictate the type of person whom the name is assigned to. Juliet proves this later by pointing out that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

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Too many people have become zealous, actually to the point of being obsessed, with the pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton, the 4-letter word which God spoke as his name, as well as with the titles people have historically used to refer to יהוה, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

There seems to be little argument that the name God told Moses means “I am“, and in the context of a sentence (since Hebrew words are properly interpreted only by considering the context of the sentence they are within) it could also mean “I will be.”

So what the Tetragrammaton means is “I am that I am“, or “I will be that which I will be.”

No matter how we pronounce יהוה, it will always mean the same thing, which is that God is who he is. The name isn’t the important thing because no matter what we call God, whether Adonai, God, Lord, El, Yah, El Elyon, Adonai Tz’vaot…whatever…God will always be God.

And here is the most important thing that many “Holy Namers” forget: God knows the hearts and minds of his children, and when we pray to him, no matter what title or name or pronunciation we use, God knows who he is and who we are praying to.

I submit to you that when someone says using the term “Lord” means we are praying to Ba’al, or that when we use the title “God” we are praying to a false Semitic deity, these people are insulting the true God of Israel. They are implying that Adonai (which, by the way, means Lord) is incapable of determining who we are praying to. They are saying God is so prideful as to ignore a prayer from someone just because they call him what they have always known him to be, i.e. God or Lord.

In the Bible, we read how many referred to Adonai as the invisible God of the Hebrews.  In the Book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar refers to him as the God of Daniel, and the Philistines recognized Adonai as the God of the Jews. These people didn’t worship Adonai or even know what to call him, but they knew who he was. And when they called him an invisible god or the God of the Hebrews, it didn’t change who he was or who they believed him to be.

God is God no matter what you call him.

And this is the crux of the problem with people who insist on using their name for God: they have forgotten who God is. They have become so obsessed with the words “God” or “Lord” or the pronunciation of the Holy Name that they have forgotten all about the one who these names refer to. They now worship a name instead of the one who the name refers to.

I am not saying that a “Holy Namer” is wrong in their pronunciation, but I do say they are wrong in requiring others to use only the names they think are “right”, and that anything else is wrong and represents paganist prayer. Who are they to tell someone who they are praying to? Do they know the person’s mind? Do they see what is in that person’s heart?

Are they like Adonai, God Almighty, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob so they can say what is a proper prayer and what is not?

If you are someone who has is obsessed with what name is correct for God, please consider that we can pray to him any old which way we want to, and so long as our prayer is heartfelt and genuine, he will listen. He is not so stubborn and prideful about what we call him that he will turn away someone who is genuinely seeking him out, just because they use a word some other people use to mean someone else.

If I call a rose a tulip, clearly I am using the wrong name, but the rose is still a rose. I cannot change what a rose is by calling it a tulip, and if I hold up the rose and say, “This tulip smells wonderful!” people will understand what I mean, despite my using the wrong name for the flower.

And I would still be correct in saying that the flower smells wonderful.

Those of us who know the one, true God will always know who we mean, despite which title or word is used to describe him. But for those that do not know him, who are first learning about him, to teach them this wrongful idea that God must be called by a certain word or pronunciation, is no different than teaching that God can’t know what we feel and what we mean when we pray to him.

The idea that Adonai will ignore someone who is praying to him because of how they pronounce his name or which title they use for him is to teach a lie and is unfair to God! It totally ignores who God is.

If anyone says when using “God” or “The Lord” or not using their pronunciation of the Holy Name is really praying to a pagan god, that person is a liar. And they are insulting God.

I believe God knows who we mean when we pray to him, and whatever I call him doesn’t change who he is.

Thank you for being here; please subscribe, share these messages with others, and check out my website. I have written three books (so far), and if you like what I say in my ministry, you will like reading my books, as well.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Vayikra 2020 (He called) Leviticus 1 – 5

I should start off wishing you all a Happy New Year for yesterday was the first day of Nisan (which used to be called Aviv) and is what God declared to be the first day of our year.

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We have come to the central book of the Torah. These first 5 chapters define the sacrificial system, starting with a description of the different types of sacrifice, followed by the specific procedures for the sins of an individual and for the sins of the community.

All that God has instructed us to do regarding sacrifice is not possible for us to do anymore, not since the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed. The reason we had to do these sacrifices at the temple was because of God’s instructions, which were that we are not to sacrifice anywhere we want to, but only at the place where he puts his name (Deuteronomy 12:.13). 

Each type of sacrifice, whether for sin, for guilt, for thanksgiving or the wholly burnt sacrifice is described in minute detail. God even accounts for those who cannot afford the required animal, allowing for them to substitute a different animal, one they can afford to give. This idea of being allowed to provide a substitute is something that will eventually provide for our salvation, many years later.

Every detail of how to perform the sacrifice is given in these chapters, but what I believe to be the most important part of the entire process is not explained.

The sacrifice is more, much more than just the spilling of blood. The physical actions we do, i.e. bringing the animal, killing it, dividing it up, splashing the blood and burning it on the altar are just physical things. We read throughout the Tanakh how these were being done but were, in many cases, unacceptable to God. In fact, through the prophet Amos God said that he hated the sacrifices and songs we made unto him (Amos 5:21-23), so if God wants us to perform these sacrifices, but in some cases, he says that he hates them, what was different? What was missing?

What was missing is something that is still missing today in many churches and synagogues: genuine repentance.

Let me share with you what I believe the sacrificial system should entail:

  1. We must sin. After all, if we do not sin, there is no need for a sacrifice to gain forgiveness, so for the sacrificial system to work, we need to sin (not that I suggest you should sin, only that this system is designed for when you sin);
  2. We must recognize and confess that we sinned. In today’s reading we are told that when we sin, whether or not we know it, we are still guilty. But to be forgiven, we must recognize that we did commit a sin. Too many people are taught that what God says is sin isn’t really sin anymore because the times have changed, or because all those laws were done away with by Yeshua. That is a total lie, but that topic is not something which we will be covering today;
  3. We must repent of our sin. This is probably the most essential part of the entire process because we can recognize and even confess that we sinned, but if we aren’t sorry we did it, then there can be no forgiveness, no matter what we do. It is repentance, more than anything else, which God is looking for from us. Not just that we are sorry we sinned, but that we are sorry we failed to do as God said we should. Repentance is not just feeling sorry we did wrong, but feeling sorry that we disobeyed God because in our hearts we should want to be obedient children. And, for the record, feeling sorry because you were caught does not count as being repentant;
  4. We must present a sacrifice. This step of the process was to be done with one of the prescribed animals but has been replaced by Yeshua. This is what is meant by the term “He died for our sins”; Yeshua’s sacrifice did not remove the sacrificial system or the laws that created it, but simply replaced the need to bring an animal to the temple in Jerusalem. This is one of the most misunderstood truths about what Yeshua did as our Messiah. Nothing of the Torah was removed or done away with, only the need to bring an animal to the temple when asking for forgiveness. Every step of the process I am describing here is still valid and necessary if one is to ask God to forgive their sins. And now, the last step is;
  5. We must ask for forgiveness. I know that seems to be an obvious step, but it is the one step that everything else before it leads up to. Forgiveness is available, and not only is God willing to forgive, but he desires to forgive. God wants every sinner to turn from his sin and live (Ezekiel 18:23), but forgiveness is NOT automatic. God will not automatically forgive us, so if you have been taught that because of Yeshua all your sins are always forgiven, you will be very unpleasantly surprised when you come before the Lord on Judgment Day. There is no such thing as once forgiven, always forgiven.

The truth is that God will always forgive us when we confess our sins, are genuinely repentant and ask for forgiveness by calling on the name of Yeshua, whose sacrifice was made as an eternal substitution for the animal we must bring to the temple.

Yeshua’s blood is the substitution for the blood of the sacrifice we are supposed to supply. It was never supposed to be our own blood, but the blood of an innocent. While the temple existed, that blood was supplied by a sacrificed animal and had to be performed for each and every sin we committed. Because of Yeshua, we do not have to bring an animal to the temple in Jerusalem.

That is why God sent the Messiah.

Throughout the Bible, we are told, over and over, that God knows our hearts and our minds, and whereas in today’s reading he outlines the physical steps of the sacrificial system, what really matters to him is not what we do, but why we do it.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with others, subscribe and check out my entire website.  And remember that I welcome comments and conversation.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!