How to Interpret the Bible Correctly

Let me start off by saying I am not professing to be an expert on Biblical exegesis (although I do know some of the fancy words), and that I am not saying this is the absolute and only correct method of Bible interpretation, but I have seen and corrected many wrong interpretations and know that what I am going to talk about is valid and necessary.

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Something happened just recently which made me think it might be a good idea to (at least) give a small lesson on how to properly interpret what we read in the Bible.

Two methods I always incorporate when interpreting the Bible are PaRDeS and Hermeneutics. PaRDeS is a Jewish form of exegesis and is an acronym for the following:

P=P’shat, the literal meaning of the written word (i.e., what you read is what it means);

R=Remes, the deeper, more spiritual meaning (as Yeshua demonstrated in his Sermon on the Mount);

D= Drash, a story or lesson which has a spiritual meaning (such as the parables Yeshua told); and

S =Sud, a mystical meaning that no one can fully comprehend.

That is one method I use, and the other is Hermeneutics, which is defined as:

The purpose of Hermeneutics is to bridge the gap between our minds and the minds of the Biblical writers through a thorough knowledge of the original languages, ancient history and the comparison of Scripture with Scripture.

What that means, in simple language, is that we must have a thorough knowledge of the entire Bible, that is, Genesis through Revelation,  and that whatever is written in any part of the Bible should mean the same in any other part of the Bible.

Too often we read or hear someone who has taken a number of passages from the Bible and put them together to form an idea or interpretation. This is not wrong, per se’, unless the passages are taken out of context and used to create the interpretation someone has formed, instead of forming an interpretation from what is written.

Here’s an example of what I am talking about, which happened the other day:

I was reading an article someone posted about the use of the Hebrew word “Seraph” in the story of the snakes sent to punish the Israelites when they were in the desert (Numbers 21.) The writer wanted us to believe that the bronze statue Moses made wasn’t of a snake but of a seraph, an angelic being. This was confirmed when I looked in the Torah to see what word was used in the original Hebrew and saw that it was, indeed, the word seraph, which is what God told Moses to make an image of. The people asked Moses to pray for the removal of snakes (Hebrew word Nachush) and God told Moses to make an image of a seraph.

So, it looks like the writer was correct! But when we use hermeneutics to confirm the interpretation, we find out that this isn’t the case.

I looked at the different uses of the word seraph, to see if it was used anywhere else to represent a serpent, and did not find anything. I then looked through the Bible for other places where nachush was used and found another use in 2 Kings 18. 

In 2 Kings 18, we read how the serpent Moses made in the desert was being worshiped by the people, and they called it Nehushtan, which is a form of the Hebrew word for snake. This confirms that the bronze statue was not a celestial being but a snake, otherwise the people would not have named it “Snake.”

There have been many, MANY times I have corrected people’s attempts to make the Bible say what they wanted it to say, such as how the Kosher laws were removed, or how the Torah was done away with, or how the Jews have been replaced by Gentile Believers. All of these traditional Christian teachings are based on misinterpretation and taking passages out of context, stringing them together and making what appears to be a proper interpretation, but it is really nothing more than a lie.

We must take whatever God says and interpret it in relation to everything else God says, and if there seems to be a contradiction, then one or both interpretations are wrong. God does NOT contradict himself; likewise, what Yeshua taught he told us was only what God told him to say, and this is evident throughout the Gospels (especially in John), so any teachings that indicate Yeshua said something in the Old Covenant isn’t valid anymore is not hermeneutically valid.

What we read in the Epistles are not the words of God but the lessons that the Talmudim (disciples/students) of Yeshua were teaching to the Jewish and (mostly) Gentile Believers, more so to Gentiles who did not understand the instructions the Jews already knew. The letters from Paul to the congregations he started were not meant to change anything, but to teach these Gentile Believers how to live according to God’s instructions, a little bit at a time.

Of course, the Epistles are a totally different lesson, but it is important to know how they fit into today’s lesson because of all the misinterpretations within the Bible that I have seen over more than two decades, the majority of them come from the letters Paul wrote.

God has made his instructions to all the world, which we find in the Torah, pretty simple to understand, and what we can’t fathom we can study and try to understand; or, what I consider to be the better path, we can just accept that God knows best and follow the way of life that God has laid out for us.

Always use these two methods to objectively study the Bible, and when I say objectively, I mean to not just accept what someone tells you; rather, listen and then verify everything, especially before you repeat it to others.

Just like with Hebrew National hotdogs, teachers of God’s word are held to a higher standard, so make sure what you teach is biblically correct.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, check out my website, and share these messages with everyone you know (after verifying, of course, what I say is accurate and biblically correct.) And if you have a comment or correction, please do not hesitate to let me know: I welcome them all.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah B’midbar 2020 (In the desert) Numbers 1 – 4:20

At the beginning of this book of the Torah, we have Moses, at God’s command (which is the only right time to do this) take a census of the people. We also are given the arrangement of the campsite, as well as the duties of the Levites, with regards to moving the Sanctuary.

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The book of Numbers is a historical narration of the travels of the children of Israel as they wandered in the desert. The wandering was the result of their own sin, which was to reject the land that God brought them to, as he promised he would. They were at the border of Israel only a few months after they left Egypt, but after sending the spies into the land and receiving a bad report, they refused to go in. They were afraid that they would be destroyed by the Canaanites and other tribes that the spies reported as fearsome and powerful.

How quickly they forgot the miraculous events that God performed in Egypt; how quickly they forgot how God split the Red Sea; and how quickly they forgot the way God presented the Torah to them on Mount Sinai.

And isn’t it the same with people, today?

I was in Sales for a long time and I was very good at it. Yet, despite how good a salesman I was, I was never better than what I did yesterday. The standard joke we told each other was: “You’ve been the best salesman in the company for three months now, but what have you done for me today?”

We are in the midst of a world-wide pandemic, causing fear, which has led to the demoralization of the people and is crippling our economy, yet it is nothing compared to the past crises we have had to undergo. But does anyone remember those? Does anyone remember how this country has overcome wars and economic disasters? How did we do that? It was because we had the courage and faith in God to continue through the problems, instead of fearfully sitting on our butts and crying about it!

Does anyone remember that this country, America, was founded on faith in God, which is the real reason we were able to survive those calamities?

Apparently not.

As we go through this book of Numbers we will see how, over and over, God rescued his people when they turned to him and walked in faith towards the goal, the Promised Land. The generation which refused it caused all the people to wander aimlessly until that fearful generation were all gone. It took a new generation, a generation that did not have a slave mentality, a generation that was raised in the desert and didn’t know about living in a house or having everything you needed available to you, a generation that recognized God and accepted his help, THAT generation was the one that entered into the Promised Land and took possession of it.

And when we get to the book of Judges, we will see how they, too, forgot all about God and what he had done for them.

This country is populated now by people who have rejected God, who worship technology and sports and believe only in self-acceptance. They are all about themselves and that is why, after two months of this pandemic, you still can’t find toilet paper on the grocery shelves. Their fear is well-founded because they are depending on their individual ability to overcome problems instead of on God’s ability to protect them.

I am not saying that people should not take precautions when there is a chance of infection or infecting others, but to run and hide in the closet while you wait for someone else to fix things is not what faith is about. Take precautions, wear a facemask if you feel better doing that, and keep away from sick people.

(Do you believe that they have to tell us to do that? Do they think people are that stupid? And what is worse is that they may be right!)

The real problem we have is what President Roosevelt mentioned in his famous speech, which is a statement you most likely have heard used:

We have nothing to fear, but fear itself. 

This country is crippled by fear, by their lack of faith in God, and we are all suffering for it. The shoe has dropped, and I believe the other shoe will drop soon; and when it does, those problems will be so much worse than what we are going through now that this country may not survive it.

The time for the judgment of the nations is now, and America has separated itself from God and joined the world, so we will be judged with the rest of the world. This pandemic is just the start, you mark my words: the next plague will really be deadly, and not just to a small portion of the population.

Learn the lessons we are given in the book of Numbers, see how repentance saved the Israelites while their fear caused them to reject God and suffer. America is doomed, but there will always be a remnant that will survive, so please make sure you are a member of that remnant.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Behar / Bechukotay 2020 (On the mountain/ If you walk) Leviticus 25 – 27

We come now to the last three chapters of Leviticus.  These chapters cover the Sabbatical Year, the Year of Jubilee, the regulations regarding the redemption of lands and of people in slavery, as well as the rules regarding how to treat a slave.

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God tells us how he will prosper and bless us when we obey these regulations, and he also tells us what will happen to us if we reject and disobey his regulations.

I have a short and sweet message today, which is this:

When God says something will happen, you can be as certain that it will happen as if it was already a part of history.

For example, lets’ look at Leviticus 26: 33-35 (CJB), which is what God says will happen if the people fail to observe the regulations regarding the resting of the land during the Sabbatical year:

I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins.  Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.  All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.

Does this warning sound familiar? The prophet Jeremiah said that after the king of Babylon defeats Jerusalem, the people will be taken to Babylon and will be there, while the land becomes a desolate wasteland for 70 years (Jeremiah 25:11), and this is confirmed in 2 Chronicles 36:21. 

When Judea was sinning, just as Israel had sinned, they rejected God’s commandments and failed to give the land its rest. We can figure that for (at least) 490 years leading to the exile of the Jews to Babylon, the Sabbatical Year rest for the land was not observed. That is why the exile lasted 70 years, in accordance with God’s word given through Jeremiah, which was the fulfillment of the warning God gave to Moses nearly a millennia before it happened; the same warning we read in today’s parashah.

Every warning God gave to the Children of Israel regarding disobedience, which they tested over and over, came true.

Just as God always ended his prophecies with a statement of hope, I will end today’s message with this: because every bad thing that God said would happen if we disobeyed came true, we can be positive that every promise of blessings when we do obey will also come true.

Given the absolute certainty that we will receive blessings if we do as God says, why would anyone teach others that we don’t have to obey?

We have reached the end of a book of the Torah, so we say:

Chazak! Chazak! V’nit chazek! 

(Be strong! Be strong! And let us be strengthened!)

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Emor 2020 (Speak) Leviticus 21- 24

God starts out by telling Moses the regulations that are specifically for the Cohanim, regarding when they are allowed to become unclean by approaching a dead person, the appropriate behavior of their daughters (sons, as well, is implied), who they are allowed to marry and the rules regarding any descendants with a physical deformity.

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Chapter 23 designates God’s required festivals, which we call the Holy Days.

Chapter 24 tells us about the lamps in the Sanctuary and the rules for the shewbread that is to be laid out every week, one loaf for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. We are also told of the man who blasphemed God’s name and was stoned, and that God requires equal compensation and fair rendering of justice, which is what he meant when he said to take an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. The administration of justice is to be fair and compensatory, but not retributive or to allow torture.

I have committed an entire chapter in my first book, “Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion” to the difference between a Holy Day, which God has commanded us to celebrate, and a holiday, which is a man-made celebration. Any discussion regarding this is best left until after you read that chapter (which is only possible after you buy the book- it’s worth it, believe me).

I could also give an entire sermon on the real meaning of the “eye for eye; tooth for tooth” thing, but I won’t do that, today.

What I want to talk about is Leviticus 24:22, which says this (CJB):

You are to apply the same standard of judgment to the foreigner as to the citizen, because I am Adonai your God.”

There has been heated and never-ending discussion since the middle of the First Century, as to which laws of the Torah apply to Jews, and which to Gentiles. I have often noted that the earliest Gentiles converting to the new movement which followed the Messiah of the Jews, wanted to separate themselves from the Jews because of the problems the Jews were having with Rome. In order to do so, they changed the Sabbath day and also did not require strict adherence to the Torah laws, only the 4 commands that they received from the Elders in Jerusalem (Acts 15). Later, under Constantine, these (now called) Christians further separated themselves by creating their own doctrine, tenets, and holidays.

This was never what God or Yeshua intended.

The problem with separating yourself and creating new ways of living and worshiping is that you now have to label it so we know who is who. Therefore, the Torah observant lifestyle was called Judaism, and the tenets and doctrines of Constantine were called Christianity. As Christians continued to change what was their idea of correct worship and what was not, they created new religions, each with its own label, until now there are some dozens of different religions within Christianity, all of whom are supposed to be worshiping the same God, who told everyone how he wants us to worship him when he gave those instructions to Moses.

When God said that his laws are to be the same for the foreigner as for the citizen, meaning a blood-descendent of Jacob, he was telling us that these are the only laws that apply, and they apply to everyone.  That means the letter the Gentiles received wasn’t superseding these laws, and that they, who were learning how to live according to the Torah, weren’t supposed to secede from Judaism. It simply meant that the only immediate lifestyle changes they must make were those 4 things and because they were going to the synagogue every Shabbat, they would learn the Torah and eventually become adapted to that lifestyle.

God has no religion, only his instructions for how to worship him and how to treat each other. He told Moses when he gave us the Torah that his chosen people were to be a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6), and since priests are the ones who teach the laity how to worship and live as God wants them to, it is obvious that God gave the Torah to the Jews to bring to the world.

Here’s how it works: God told Moses when we obey the Torah we will be blessed (Deuteronomy 28), and he told Abraham that his descendants will be a blessing to the world (Genesis 22:18), so God gave the Jews the Torah so that, as Abrahams descendants, we could bring the Torah to the world, who could then receive the blessings God has for everyone who obeys his instructions.

In Israel today, the Arabs that live and work in Israel, whether male or female, receive the same pay, the same benefits, and the same coverages as the Israelis- can we say that was ever true in America? Even today?  Can we say that for almost anywhere else in the world? Throughout history, legal aliens were not given the same rights to property or work as the indigenous people were. Yet, in Israel, since the beginning, foreigners were treated as equals.

And here is an important thing to understand: the same law for the foreigner as for the citizen doesn’t just mean that the foreigner is to be treated the same way, but that he is also to act the same way.

If you say you worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then you are expected to do what the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob said you should do. And if you accept Yeshua as God’s Messiah and your savior, you should remember that he confirmed and taught everything his father said in the Torah. Really, if you say you believe in God and that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah, how can you possibly justify rejecting the lifestyle and form of worship that God commanded and which Yeshua lived?

Christians always say they want to do as Jesus did, but they reject how he worshiped and how he lived! And what is even more meshuggah is that they think God will be happy about that!

The same law for everyone means everyone is to be under the same law. If you reject God’s instructions, you reject God, and if you reject God you also reject the one he sent (Luke 10:16), so how can anyone be truly saved if they reject their savior?

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashot Acharai-Mot / Kedoshim 2020 Leviticus 16-18/19-20 (After the death/Holiness)

Just as we did last week, this week’s Torah reading will be a double reading.

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The first one comes directly after the death of Aaron’s two oldest sons for having offered unauthorized fire.  God gives the Cohen and the people the regulations for what is to be done on Yom Kippur.

He also tells us that any animal to be killed and eaten must be brought to the Tabernacle and slain there, as a peace offering, and that under no circumstances is the blood ever to be eaten.

By the way, the rabbis determined the regulation about not killing any animal without first bringing it to the Tabernacle was only required when the people were in the desert, and after being in the land it was only regarding animals killed as a sacrifice.

We are warned not to do any of the things that the Egyptians did, with regard to worship or social interactions.

In the next parashah, we are told right from the start that we are to be holy because our God is holy. God gives us laws that the rabbis teach fall into three categories: moral, ritual, and social.

The Golden Rule is found in this parashah (Leviticus 19:18) which says we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The rest of this parashah contains the regulations against necromancy, idol worship, child sacrifice, sexual perversities, and unlawful marriages, to include the specific punishments for each of these immoral activities.

Oh my! So much to talk about, so little time to do it.

What I want to talk about today is based on something that just happened to me, which was that I agreed to leave a Bible preaching group because their administrator and I disagree about which laws apply to which Believers. And this event, which just happened this morning, fits into the parashah regarding today.

One of the traditional Christian teachings is that the Mosaic Law is only for Jews and Christians are not required to follow it. They say they are under the Law of Christ (whatever that is) and therefore only required to obey the moral laws that God gave, which they restrict to the 10 Commandments.

Now, I am sure they agree they should also obey the laws against sexual perversities, since they are of a moral nature, and of course, they love Leviticus 19:18, although they change the wording. But as for those laws which are of a ritual or ceremonial nature, they say those are only for the Jews. That would include anything having to do with the sacrificial system, the Festivals we are to celebrate (Leviticus 23), and (in my opinion) pretty much anything else they just don’t want to do.

The idea that there are some laws for Jews and some laws for Christians is not justified by anything that God or Yeshua (Jesus) ever said. In fact, God tells us exactly who is subject to these laws, and they are his chosen people and anyone who sojourns with them (Leviticus 19:34).

Let’s take a minute to make sure we understand what sojourning, called residing in some Bibles, means- it doesn’t mean just hanging around with the Jews. It means to live with them, to accept their way of life, their God, and thereby all that they are required to do within their social and religious system. In other words, if someone who is not born of Jewish ancestry chooses to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they are, by definition, sojourning with the Jewish people. And throughout the Torah God states, more than once, that whosoever sojourns with his people will be treated the same as a natural-born Jew, meaning they have the same rights and privileges, and consequently, will be required to obey the same laws and practices.

I am constantly amazed and disappointed when I hear a Christian say they want to do as Jesus did, and then in the same breath tell me that they don’t have to follow the laws of Moses. They say they want to be like Jesus, but they reject the way he lived and worshiped. How can you do as Jesus did when you don’t do what Jesus did?  How can they be so blind to their own hypocrisy?

It’s because they have been taught to be blind, by those who themselves are blind. I call this type of person a Buffet Believer, and devote an entire chapter to this topic in my book, “Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion.

The idea that God gave some laws to Jews, some to Gentiles, and some to whomever else is not found anywhere in the Tanakh. However, if you want to find it in the New Covenant, you can find many, many passages that when taken out of context would seem to confirm this idea that Christians don’t have to obey the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) or any other “ceremonial” laws.

You know, God never specified which laws are ritual and which are moral- God simply said these are the laws. Period. He doesn’t specify any one Torah commandment being any more or less important than any other, and certainly never said any of them are optional.

The idea that some religions are subject to some of the laws in the Torah, and others are not, goes against everything God says. And if someone wants to send me passages from the New Covenant that appear to justify Christians do not have to obey all of God’s instructions, my response is that the letters in the New Covenant are mainly written by men to Gentile congregations that were having interpersonal relationship issues and on the verge of relapsing into paganism. The Apostles, all of whom were wise and holy men, were Jews who were confirming the Jewish lifestyle but giving the Gentiles leeway in how quickly they adapted to it.  Never, ever did any of the Apostles, and that includes Shaul (Paul), expect that these Gentiles learning how to live as God wants us to live would be exempted from following God’s instructions.

God has no religion, only his rules for how we are to worship him and how we are to treat each other. These instructions were given to Moses for the Jewish people to learn, and then as God’s nation of priests (Exodus 19:6), to bring it to the world.

God made a covenant with the Jewish people which we call the Mosaic Law, and anyone who wants to be in covenant with God must obey those laws. Traditional Christian teaching is that they are not under the Mosaic Law, which, by definition, means they are out of covenant with God. Christianity says they are under the Law of Christ, which isn’t really well defined but is, in fact, a term that Paul coined in his letters. Now, we all know that Jesus never did or said anything that wasn’t what his father told him to do or say, so to teach that Jesus taught against the Torah must be a lie. Therefore, if you reject the Mosaic Law, and that means any part of it, then you choose to not be in covenant with God.

Look at it this way: the Apostles were taking what they knew God said in the Tanakh and teaching it to the Gentiles, so they did it at a pace and level the Gentiles could deal with. You don’t learn Quantum Mechanics right away- you have to build up to it by learning basic arithmetic, then algebra, trigonometry, etc. This is why the New Covenant letters were addressed specifically to specific congregations, and dealing with their specific problems. The New Covenant doesn’t have directions dictated by God to a prophet, but only letters with instructions written by men teaching others what God said in the Tanakh. There is a BIG difference between God speaking through a prophet and men writing letters.

As for me, I would rather do as God said then as people say. What about you? Forget what humans have said you have to do, or don’t have to do, and look at the Bible- the entire Bible- and see what God says. Make your decision based on that, because when you meet God and tell him that you were doing only what they told you you had to do, he might say something like this:

“My child, I understand you did as they told you to do, but it is what I say that counts.”

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashot Tazria-Mezora 2020 (Leviticus 12-13/ 14-15)

Because this is a leap year, the Jewish calendar adds an additional month, Adar Rishon, so that it remains in proper sync with the Gregorian calendar.  As such, there are times when, in order for the annual cycle of the Torah readings to end on Shemini Atzeret (the 8th day of Sukkot), we will have a double parashah reading (the plural of “Parashah” is “Parashot”.) This Shabbat is one of those occasions.

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Both of these readings deal with uncleanliness, which would prevent one from being allowed to enter the Sanctuary and in some cases requires isolating the person until the condition is determined to be resolved. The first reading deals with leprosy (which in Hebrew is called Tzara’at) of the body, clothes, and even the walls of the house, and the second reading deals with uncleanliness caused by bodily excretions, such as a seminal emission and menstrual flow.

The Torah tells us how to determine if the tzara’at is contagious or not, and also what sacrifice is required for either of these forms of uncleanliness, once the person has been declared clean. With regard to those suffering tzara’at, until such time as the person is declared clean, they are to be isolated from the rest of the community.

The laws of purification are complex, and there are those who argue they were instituted for hygienic reasons, and those who argue they are purely levitical (religious); the former hold that these laws prevent the spread of disease and the latter that they are designed to bring us to a more holy station in life.

There are good arguments for both, and I believe that they are two sides of the same coin, being complementary and not exclusionary.

I find it very interesting that these readings, dealing with the need to isolate those with an infectious disease, occur at this point in time when the world is experiencing the same, exact sort of problem.  We are all in a form of isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The one main difference is that the current isolation is not for religious reasons at all, but strictly to (hopefully) prevent the further spread of the disease.

But is there a religious side to it?

I think we can look at this pandemic as a way to gauge the spiritual status of a country. For instance, here in America, our politicians (who have been at odds since the election of the current President) are not working together at all to help the citizens, but using the current panic to play the “Blame Game”; one side saying the administration didn’t do enough, fast enough, and the administration saying they did what they did in a timely manner and when they wanted to do more, they were held up passing legislation because the opposing party wanted to fill the legislation with their own “pork”.

In the meantime, the people these politicians are supposed to help and work for suffered and will suffer even more after this de facto Martial Law is lifted because we will be in a recession.

Worst of all is the media, which has unquestionably been at the forefront of the panic and, in my opinion, directly caused the panic with their sensationalism and irresponsible reporting. And as I have said many times, Satan is called the Prince of Power of the Air (Ephesians 2:2), and all our news, whether through radio, TV, or the Internet goes through the air.

This nation used to be God-fearing and brave, but that was way back when I was a kid and God was still a valuable asset to this country. We were formed by the need to worship God, we included God in our government and schools, and we based how we lived on God’s rules. That’s not the way it is today; we have kicked God out of the government, out of the schools, and even out of the workplace. We ignore God and his instructions but are overly sensitive to possibly offending godless people. Americans today are offended by any spoken word, insult and ridicule God-fearing people, are totally self-absorbed, and worship sports figures, movie stars, and science.

The Enemy has been watching and evaluating when the best time will be for him to make his move. He is readying his forces on earth (if you think I am talking about China, you are right, but it’s not just China) and I believe he has already begun his attack. His attack started with a diversion, the Covid-19 attack, which is using the godless people of the media and government to throw all their attention to the popular fear of infection when the real attack is against our economy.  And not just the economy of America, but of the world because if America suffers economic devastation, it will become world-wide economic devastation.

The current program of isolation in America is the means to an end; not just for slowing the spread of this current pandemic (which, by the way, won’t really keep more people from catching it in the long run) but for setting us up for the Antichrist to gain a foothold in order to take charge of this country, then the world. When America falls, the world will follow because we are still the most powerful nation in, and the leader of, the world.

The Shabbat reading for tonight couldn’t be more appropriate and timely.  We are suffering from an infectious and deadly disease, but it isn’t tzara’at or Covid-19, it is faithlessness and apostasy. This pandemic has proven that people today are easily controlled by fear, which is not what the Spirit of God gives, but is a tool of the Enemy.

People are not saying “Goodbye” anymore, they are saying “Be safe”, but I think we should be saying, “Trust God and don’t be ruled by fear.”

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

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.

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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!

Parashah Shemini 2020 (Eighth day) Leviticus 9 – 11

We have events happening in each chapter of today’s reading that holds a vital lesson for everyone.

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First, in Chapter 9 we are told what to do when preparing to come into the presence of the Lord.

Chapter 10 tells of the death of Aaron’s two oldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, which came about as punishment for their offering fire to the Lord in a manner that was not only wrong but demonstrated their disrespect for him and the Sanctuary.

And Chapter 11, the Laws of Kashrut (Kosher), is probably the most abused, misunderstood and ignored set of God’s instructions that we find anywhere in the Bible.

There has been so much written on the Kosher laws, by me and others, that I feel anyone who doesn’t understand how Acts 10 and Mark 7 have been misunderstood and incorrectly interpreted by now probably never will.

If you are unsure of what I mean, please take a moment to go to this link:  The Truth About Mark 7 and Acts 10

 

What I want to talk about today is what we read in Chapter 9. The eighth day referenced at the beginning of this reading is the eighth day of the ceremonial anointing of Aaron and his sons as Cohanim. It is on this day that their anointing is completed, and God is going to demonstrate his acceptance by having his Shekinah glory appear for all the people to see. In order to prepare for this most holy of events, there are three offerings that must be presented:

  1.  A sin-offering is made for Aaron, his sons, and the entire congregation;
  2.  A burnt offering is next; finally
  3.  A Thanksgiving or Peace offering is made.

 

When we know what each of the offerings represents, the reason for them being done in this particular order makes sense.

The sin offering is pretty much self-explanatory, and it is done first for the Cohanim (Priests). Once they have been cleansed, they are then able to approach the Lord and intercede for the people.

After the Cohanim and the congregation have been cleansed of their sins, they offer the wholly burnt sacrifice. This sacrifice is representative of T’Shuvah, turning from a sinful life to a righteous life, and the offering is completely burned up to demonstrate their total commitment to God.

Lastly, the Thanksgiving offering, which is, as the name implies, to give thanks to God for all that he does for us, from healing to protection to the giving of blessings. This is the only offering in which the one offering the animal also partakes in the eating of the sacrifice, to represent communion with God, i.e. being in his presence.

Here is an interesting note: the Passover sacrifice is not for sin, but is a thanksgiving sacrifice. Even though Yeshua died for our sins, his sacrifice on Passover served as both a Yom Kippur sin sacrifice and as a Passover thanksgiving sacrifice, thanking God for his protection from death, i.e. eternal damnation. 

So, looking at these three sacrifices as one continuous event, when we wish to be in the presence of the Almighty we need to first ask for forgiveness of our sin so we can be cleansed before the Lord, who cannot condone sin in his presence. Once cleansed of our sin, we then reconfirm ourselves to worshiping and obeying God as he commanded in the Torah. Finally, now that we are clean and back in covenant, we can come into the presence of God to give thanks to him for his protection and blessings.

The bad news is that these offerings cannot be done today because the temple in Jerusalem is no longer there, but the good news is that they have been replaced by the death and resurrection of Yeshua. Not all three though- the sin and thanksgiving sacrifices are replaced with Yeshua’s sacrifice; however, the burnt offering is something we can’t do at the temple, but we can demonstrate in our daily lives. We must live in accordance with the instructions God gave us in order to be in covenant with him; and, not through just a spiritual connection, but through the way we live our lives.

If you want to be in the presence of God you need to do more than just count on Yeshua…you need to live as God wants you to live, as he told us we all should live, and you find those instructions not in the New Covenant, and not in the Apocrypha, and not by watching Dr. Phil or listening to some TV evangelist, but by reading the Torah.

Just like we are reading in this weeks’ parashah.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

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.

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

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!

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!