Shavuot 2022 Message

This weekend we celebrate Shavuot, which is one of the three pilgrimage Festivals (Pesach/Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot), so I thought we should have a lesson about this Holy Day.

Shavuot is closely associated with Pesach because we are commanded to Count the Omer starting with the first Shabbat after Pesach, that counting (50 days) ends at Shavuot.

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Shavuot is known by a few different names. It is called The Feast of Weeks (Chag Shavuot), the festival of First Fruits (Chag Habikurim), and the Harvest festival (Chag Hakatzir).

It is even referred to as Atzeret, which means “assembly” and refers to the fact that this is a day when we assemble at the temple in Jerusalem.

(Avengers…Atzeret! Nah, that won’t work.)

Many feel Shavuot is the conclusion of the Passover celebration, which consists of Pesach (evening to midnight of the 14th of Nisan), Chag HaMatzot (Festival of Unleavened Bread, which lasts 7 days), and then Shavuot which occurs 50 days later, when we finish the Counting of the Omer.

The day Jews celebrate Shavuot is also called Pentecost (Greek for “50 days”), which is considered a Christian holiday.

The New Covenant tells us in Acts 2 about how at the Pentecost celebration (unless you are reading a Jewish version of the B’rit Chadasha, in which it will correctly call it during the Festival of Shavuot) the giving of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, occurred.

One of the things the Jewish leaders have done over the years is to change the meaning of a Holy Day. For instance, Rosh Hashanah is considered today to be the Jewish New Year, but in the Torah God calls it a Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets), and it is not at all associated with a new year. In fact, in Exodus 12 God tells us that our year begins on the first day of Aviv (now called Nisan).

The rabbis have changed Shavuot, as well, redesignating it from its Torah definition as a harvest festival (an Omer is a measure of wheat) to associating it with the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

They came up with this idea by calculating that after the first Pesach, by the time the Omer counting was over, the Israelites were at the base of Horeb (Sinai), and that is when God gave us the Torah (give or take a month while Moses was on the mountain).

I have done the calculations myself, and it can work either way, with some saying they came to the mountain 90 days later, and others being able to show it was about 50 days.

This significant difference, being calculated from the same source (the Torah) reminds me of something I learned when I worked on Wall Street: figures don’t lie, but liars can figure.

In any event, I have come to accept that there is a good lesson for Messianic Jews in seeing both Pentecost and Shavuot as a “giving” event: for one, God gave us the Torah, which Shaul (Paul) says defined sin so that we could know-absolutely- the difference between what pleases God and what doesn’t. And, on this same day, God gave us the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) to be the fulfillment of the New Covenant God made with us in Jeremiah 31:31, which is to write his Torah on our hearts (by means of the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit).

You see, when we read in the Tanakh about the giving of the spirit, God would place his spirit on people, but then that spirit was taken back. The Holy Spirit was a temporary gift that God gave, sparingly, and once the purpose for giving it was accomplished, the spirit was removed.

Not so after Yeshua’s resurrection. Those who accept that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised to send, and who faithfully obey the instructions God gave in the Torah (not what Paul or James or a Pope or a Minister or any human being tells you what to do), we can receive the Holy Spirit and it will not just fall on us to be taken back later, but will remain.

The Torah is a written set of instructions that tells us how God wants us to worship him and treat each other, which has many deep, spiritual lessons for us that one cannot fathom without having spiritual insight. The Ruach HaKodesh, which we receive from God when we ask for it (after having accepting Yeshua as his Messiah) provides that spiritual insight, which allows us to understand God’s word at a level people without the Ruach will never have.

So when we look at these two events: the giving of the written law and the giving of the means to understand the spiritual meaning of that written law, we can see how Shavuot and Pentecost are really two sides of the same coin.

I feel that even though the rabbis changed what God said Shavuot is to be, and Christian leaders have removed the “Jewishness” of what happened at Pentecost, when we look at this from a Messianic Jewish perspective, it all works to the good.

There are many other Jewish traditions associated with Shavuot, such as the reading of the Book of Ruth, staying up the entire night before Shavuot studying the Talmud, Torah, and even the Zohar (this tradition was introduced by the Kabbalists), and there are some other things, none of which I will go into today.

If you are interested in these traditions, as well as many other items of interest regarding Jewish tradition and Jews, in general, I suggest you get both volumes of “The Jewish Book of Why”.

Shavuot 2022 will begin on the evening of June 4th; it is a very joyous day and so you should drink, eat, and be merry.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website, to my YouTube channel, buy my books, and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word” (please read and agree to the rules).

That’s it for this week, so I wish you both Chag Sameach and Shabbat Shalom!

Paul and the Prophets- Final Lesson

In the previous two lessons, we discussed the similarities and the differences between Paul and the prophets of the Tanakh, and now I am going to try to bring it all together.

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All of these activities are written down in the Bible and are considered scripture. But what is scripture? Is it what God says? Is it what Yeshua says? Or is it also what any human may say?

Well, according to Webster, scripture is what is included in the Bible, or simply “a body of writings considered sacred or authoritative.” So, if someone includes some writings in a book as an authoritative narrative (such as the Gospels or the Torah), that is all it needs to qualify as “scripture.”

The Bible was put together by men (sorry, no women were involved) and these men decided, looking at all the different writings available to them, which should be considered “scripture”.

Of course, we are told that they were divinely inspired to choose the right things.

From what I could find in researching the Internet, the first “Bible” (all 66 books) was put together by St. Jerome sometime around 400 CE. The Tanakh books are considered to have been written by the people the books are named after, except (of course) for the Torah, which was written by God, dictated through Moses.

As for the New Covenant, there were many scrolls that were available, and the general consensus is the Canon of Trent (1546) is where the Christian canon was first accepted, based on the Synod of Hippo Regius, held in North Africa in 393 AD.

So, why all this hubbub about scripture?

The reason is that what I am about to say may upset some people who consider the entire Bible the word of, or should I say the word from, God.

In truth, the Bible is a compilation of many writings, some of which are the direct word of God, such as the Torah. As we discussed earlier, that’s the only place in the entire Bible where we are being told directly from God what we should do.

The books of the Nevi’im (Prophets) contain both what God said (to the prophets to tell the people) and a historical narrative of the events that occurred during those times.

The other writings in the Tanakh called the Ketuvim (Ruth, Job, Song of Songs, etc.) were originated from men. There is, unquestionably, some divinely inspired wisdom, but still and all, it is scripture only because it is included in the Bible.

This is where some of you may be feeling a little discomfort, having been taught by everyone you know, love, and respect that every single part of the Bible is God-breathed, God-ordained, or God-inspired.

I am of the opinion that it isn’t. The only place in the entire Bible (Genesis through Revelation) where God dictates exactly what he wants us to do is in the Torah and the writings of the Prophets, specifically what he tells the prophet to say to the people, and nowhere else.

This is the main similarity between Paul and the prophets: they were both divinely called to bring people into communion with God.

This is the main difference between Paul and the prophets: what the prophets said was directly from God but what Paul said was not.

The bottom line is this: Paul’s letters are considered scripture because men said they should be included in the Bible, and whatever is in the Bible is, by definition, scripture. The important thing to note here is that scripture is NOT necessarily direct from God. In fact, most of the Bible is an eyewitness narrative of events that occurred, recorded by men, and determined to be authoritative by men.

Paul’s letters are originated from Paul and were nothing more than managerial directives to Gentile Believers, first learning about the Torah, to get them back onto the path of righteousness without forcing them to totally convert all at once.

When we read what the prophets told the people, we are hearing from God, but when we read the letters Paul wrote to his congregations, we are hearing from Paul.

Christianity has, for the most part, rejected what God said in the Torah and through the prophets; instead, they have used Paul’s letters as the foundation of their religion, along with the many Christian holidays, rituals, ceremonies, canon, and laws that are ALL man-made.

What we call “Judaism” is directly from God, and what we call “Christianity” is from men misusing Paul’s letters, which he wrote on his own initiative.

The final lesson about Paul and the Prophets is this: the prophets spoke God’s word which they received directly from God; Paul quoted what God told Moses and the prophets, but he tweaked it so that the Gentiles he was teaching only leaned a little at a time.

The biggest similarity between Paul and the prophets is that they both tried to bring people into communion with God so they could be saved; the biggest difference is that the prophets spoke what they heard from God, and Paul spoke what he knew from the Tanakh.

You know, as we finish this lesson, the one thing that Paul and the prophets had in common, more than anything else, is that they were both doing God’s work in the world, and both being rejected and persecuted for doing so.

Maybe, going forward, that is the best thing for us to take from this teaching series: when you do God’s work, whether you hear it directly from God or are working from your own knowledge of what God has already told others, expect to be rejected and persecuted by the ones you are trying to save.

Thank you for being here throughout this teaching, and I hope it has been edifying to you.

Please share this teaching with everyone you know and subscribe to my website and my YouTube channel. Buy my books, like my Facebook page and join my Facebook discussion group called “Just God’s Word” (please make sure you read and accept the rules).

That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Paul and the Prophets- Part 2

Having seen all the similarities between Paul and the prophets in Part 1, let’s now look at what was different between them. You may be surprised to find out that some of their similarities are also the basis for their differences.

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Both had a calling, but the prophets were called by God to bring the people back to the proper form of worship, whereas Paul’s calling was not by God but by Yeshua, and it was to bring the Good News of the Messiah. What is interesting is that during the First Century, although the pagan practices that the prophets addressed weren’t happening within the Jewish population, that era was rife with political corruption. However, God didn’t send Paul to deal with that, nor did Yeshua call him to deal with it. The difference between Paul’s calling and the prophet’s calling was both the subject matter and the ultimate target audience: the prophets were sent exclusively to the Jews to bring them back to proper worship but Paul was sent to the Jews to prove Yeshua was the Messiah, and to also bring that “light” to the Gentiles.

The prophets, as mentioned above, were to bring people back into the proper form of worship, as defined in the Torah. The people that the prophets talked to knew what the Torah said, for the most part, but Paul had a different goal. The Jews knew the Torah but the Gentiles didn’t. So, whereas the prophets were not teaching how to worship God properly, Paul had to teach the Gentiles about God, the Messiah, AND the Torah. To do that, Paul (as well as the Elders in Jerusalem) knew that they couldn’t turn hedonistic, sexually-perverse and sinful pagans into righteous, humble, and sexually pure Jews overnight; so, they introduced the Torah to them slowly, bit-by-bit, so that they wouldn’t be turned away from the righteousness they were being taught. That is why they wrote the letter we read about in Acts 15, which was never meant for those 4 rules to be the only rules for the Gentiles, but the first baby steps. As for Paul’s letters, they have been misused and misinterpreted: Paul knew the idea behind Yeshua’s parable about the seed being sown and how some of it was choked by the weeds. His slow introduction to the lifestyle demanded by God in the Torah was his attempt to prevent his newly sown seed from being choked.

One major, and fairly obvious, difference is that the prophets talked of the Messiah to come, but Paul talked about the Messiah who came.

The prophets had a clear and precise message- return to God and he will return to you. Paul, on the other hand, did not ask anyone to return to anything. He wanted them to move on, to take the next step and accept Yeshua as the Messiah God promised to send. And because he was teaching the Gentiles about the Torah slowly, his letters to the congregations he had created were not God-dictated instructions (as with the prophets), but merely managerial directives to get the people in those congregations back on track. When we read those Epistles from Paul, we can see that every one of them went to a congregation having either interpersonal or spiritual issues which were turning them away from proper understanding of how to live their new lifestyle. So, in a way, the prophets and Paul were both calling people to proper worship, but whereas the prophets were dealing with Jews who already knew right from wrong, Paul was dealing with ex-pagans who had to first learn right from wrong. The prophets ran an advanced review course, but Paul was teaching Introduction to the Torah and the shame of it is that because he had to do it slowly, his letters have been misused in order to take people away from the Torah.

The prophets talked about both present and future events, but Paul was all about the here and now. The prophesies that God gave to the prophets had both immediate and future implications, which is why many of the messianic prophecies have been denied as such by mainstream Judaism, rejecting the idea that some prophecies are dual in nature: they are about the immediate future and also the distant future. But Paul, except for his few references to the Acharit HaYamim (End Days), dealt mainly with what people need to do now. Of course, both the prophets and Paul wanted the people to change now- prophets saying come back to proper worship and Paul saying learn proper worship- but their methods were very different.

To put it in a nutshell, the main difference between the Prophets and Paul was in their methodology and the origin of their message. The prophets went to the Jewish people with the message that they were to return to God by rejecting paganistic worship and doing what God said to do in the Torah, which the people already knew about.

Paul dealt with Gentiles who had no idea about proper worship, had never known the Torah, and were surrounded by both Jews and Gentiles who were giving them different messages. That was the main issue in Paul’s letter to the Galatians- the believing Jews were trying to get 100% conversion all at once, which Paul knew would be more damaging than helpful.

The bottom-line difference between the prophets and Paul is that the prophets brought the word of God to the people directly from God, and Paul brought the word of God to the people, quoting from the Tanakh.

In the next lesson we will bring this teaching to a conclusion.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to both my website and my YouTube channel, and if you like what you get here, you will definitely like my books, as well- they are available through my website or on the Amazon Books site. You can get them in paperback or Kindle format.

That’s it for now, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Paul and The Prophets- Part 1

This is the first part of a three-part teaching series in which we will explore the similarities and differences between the prophets of the Tanakh and the Apostle Paul.

In this first part, we will look solely at the similarities between what they did and how they did it.

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  • Both the prophets and Paul had a calling from above. The prophets were chosen by God to take his message to the people, whereas Paul was chosen by Yeshua (Acts 9) to be his spokesman in order that people may come to know Yeshua is the Messiah.
  • Both served to bring the people into closer communion with God. The prophets would warn the people regarding their sins and that they must return to God by being obedient to the Torah. Paul would prove to the people that Yeshua was the Messiah through his extensive knowledge of the Tanakh.
  • Both the prophets and Paul talked extensively about the Messiah. The prophets prophesied about what the Messiah would do and how to recognize him, and Paul showed the people, by reviewing Yeshua’s ministry and teaching, as well as the many miracles he performed, that Yeshua was, indeed, the Messiah, having done what the prophets said the Messiah would do.
  • All of the prophets were Jews, representative of different tribes from both the Northern and Southern kingdoms. Paul was also a Jew, being from the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1).
  • The prophets and Paul all knew the Torah and were able to teach the people, many of whom may not have been that learned about the Torah, what it said they were required to do.
  • It is obvious that the prophets were influential in changing the attitudes and behavior of the people, although not always. Paul, as well, was very influential in proving the truth about Yeshua, as well as changing the behavior of people, especially in his ability to minister to the Gentiles (although this will be covered in part 2 of the series.)
  • One of the unfortunate similarities between the prophets and Paul is that they both often suffered persecution by those they were trying to save. Some of these forms of persecution were to be thrown into a cistern (Jeremiah 38), ridiculed (2 Kings 2:23), slandered (Amos 7:10; Romans 3:8), ignored (Isaiah 30:10; Acts 21:36), physically abused (1 Kings 22:24; 2 Corinthians 11:24), beaten (Jeremiah 37:15; Acts 16:22), and even stoned (Acts 14:19– fortunately, Paul recovered.)
  • The prophets and Paul performed miracles to show that they were, in truth, empowered supernaturally by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). Some of these miracles included changing poisoned water into drinkable (2 Kings 2:19), making it rain after years of draught (1 Samuel 12:18), bringing the dead back to life (1 Kings 17; Acts 20), and healing from sickness (2 Kings 5; Acts 28), to name a few.
  • Both the prophets and Paul also were given understanding of the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) and were able to tell the people what to expect when God’s Day of Judgement was upon them.
  • The prophets and Paul also chided the people for their lack of proper worship, instructing them in the way they should worship the God of their Fathers, and not to do as the local people’s did.
  • Finally, both talked extensively about salvation. When they talked about proper worship, living as God wanted them to live, and about the Messiah, the bottom line of all they preached was about salvation.

You may be thinking that the other disciples of Yeshua also had many, if not all, of these things in common with the prophets, and that is true. However, Paul is the only one we read about who traveled extensively throughout the territory of both the Jews and the Gentiles, bringing this word of God to them and teaching everyone about the Messiah. This is one other thing that Paul and the prophets had in common- they were never always in one place, traveling all over the known world, bringing the Word of God and knowledge of the Messiah to everyone who would listen- even to those who wouldn’t.

The next lesson in this series will look at the differences between the prophets and Paul, and I think that many of you will find that a little disturbing, but I ask you to please review it with an open mind, not relying on the traditional teachings of your religion or denomination. Try to be open to the idea that what has always been considered scripture has, in truth, always been what a group of men said is scripture.

That being said, I look forward to our next lesson.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe to both my website ministry and my YouTube channel. Share these messages with everyone you know, and while you are on the website, check out my books. I am sure you will find them both edifying and entertaining.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Plugging My Books

I hope you don’t mind, but today I am going to take a total break from spiritual messages, even from a socially relevant message, and instead talk about something that is no more than pure, unadulterated self-interest.

If you prefer to watch me pitch my books in a video, click on this link:
Watch the spiel.

Well, maybe not all self-interest, since the books I have written over the past years are designed to spread not just God’s word, but who God is and what he wants from us, without the impurity of religion polluting the waters of life with their own man-made rites, holidays, rituals, and anti-Torah propaganda.

The first book I wrote is called “Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion”.

This book discusses the differences between what God said we should do in the Torah and how religion (both Judaism and Christianity) has changed what God said to do, to what the religion wants to do. The book covers topics such as Kosher, celibacy, Holy Days or holidays, Tanakh or Talmud, and other topics where religion has added to or taken away from what God said in the Torah. It is an easy read, and the people who have given me feedback have found it interesting, to say the least; except for one rabbi who told me, “Well, you’re no Hemingway.”

The next book I wrote is called, “Prayer…What it Is and How It Works”.

The title is pretty much self-explanatory. I discuss the different ways people pray, the value of prayer, and what we can expect from it. Again, it is an easy read.

My third book is called “Parashot Drashim” and is subtitled “Commentary on the Weekly Torah Readings for Both Jews and Gentiles”.

For those of you who may not know this, the Torah is separated into 54 sections, called parashot, and these sections are read every Shabbat, sometimes with two parashot being read at the same time. It is all designed so that when we come to the eighth day after Shavuot, which is called Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah), every synagogue in the world is on the last lines of Deuteronomy and we all turn the Torah back to Genesis in order to start reading it all over again.

This book is my thickest book to date and is a compilation of the different parashot teachings I have been doing for over 7 years. I have combined, condensed, and edited the Shabbat teachings I have written and designed each one to show Jews and Christians who Yeshua really is and what he really taught. This book is not just a commentary, but also can be used for Bible studies.

My most recent book, just published a month ago, is called “The Good News About the Messiah for Jews“, and is subtitled “Debunking the Traditional Lies About the Jewish Messiah“.

Even though this is directed to my Jewish brothers and sisters, it is also valuable to Gentiles because many of the Christians I have known don’t know who Yeshua really is any better than Jews do.

I feel that this book is the culmination of all I have learned in the past 25 or so years of being a Messianic Jew and a student of the Bible- that is, the entire Bible, Genesis through Revelation. I attack many of the lies that have been spread throughout both Judaism and Christianity, lies such as Jesus doing away with the Torah, believing in Jesus means you have to be a Christian, all sins are forgiven automatically (the “Once Saved, Always Saved” lie), that Paul converted to Christianity and other lies that have been promulgated by both Jews and Christians which have totally turned Jews away from their Messiah and Christians away from God. This book will change someone’s life, somewhere- maybe even yours?

All of my books are available on Amazon, in both paperback and Kindle format. I kept the pricing low so that they are affordable for everyone, even though I would like to get something for all the work I put into each one of them (after all, a worker is entitled to his wages, right?), but I don’t expect to see any of them on the Bestseller List anytime soon.

Who knows? Maybe Oprah will find one and then I’ll be set for life!

Nah! Not likely, but if even one of these books can help someone come closer to God, then it is all worthwhile.

So, nu? Why not try one or all of these books? I don’t have a bibliography in any of them because I only use the Bible as my source document, and reference where I get each and every verse I use to teach about God and his Messiah. After all, if the Bible isn’t a good enough source document, what else could be?

Thank you for letting me blow my own horn, as the expression goes, and even if you feel this isn’t an appropriate thing to do, please don’t let that stand in the way of you reading these books. I really do believe I was led by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) in writing these and guarantee that even if you disagree with what I write, you will find these books interesting and educational. Maybe even a little entertaining.

God bless you and thank you for subscribing.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

How To Properly Interpret The Bible: Conclusion

Thank you for having allowed me to share with you what I have learned about properly interpreting the Bible, and I hope now, as we have come to the end of this teaching series, that it has been of value to you.

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

We have covered the importance of using Circles of Context and Hermeneutics when trying to figure out just what the writer of a passage is trying to say, and to be able to glean the deeper, more spiritual messages through the use of the Jewish exegesis tool called PaRDeS.

We also now know that it is important to be selective when using extra-biblical resources, such as commentaries, and that right from the start you should have a Chumash, a Concordance, and the Interlinear Bible set at your disposal to be able to understand the real meaning of what is written in the Bible.

And, of course, knowing the language and the historical usage of phrases and words will allow you to know better what the writer intended to say, without having the true meaning skewed by the current connotation of certain words.

There is one last tidbit of knowledge I would like to share with you now, at the end of this teaching, which is:

You can’t make an argument from nothing.

Too often people tell you what the Bible says without having any reason other than it is what they want to believe. They take passages out of context, they assume something must have happened, and they extrapolate events to create something that can’t be found anywhere in the scriptures.

We may be able to make certain assumptions, such as after the circumcision of Abraham, he was not feeling quite himself for a few days. There’s nothing in the Bible that says that, but it is a safe assumption. However, the Talmud states that the three angels visited Abraham on the third day after his circumcision, and that is an example of making an argument from nothing.

The Rabbis obviously wanted to show the humility and compassion which Abraham had for others, and we know that from the Tanakh because he argued to save any righteous men that might be in Sodom. But, to say that the angels came on the third day after the circumcision, is just plain unfounded.

True, the visit was the very next thing in the Tanakh after the circumcisions:

Genesis 17:27:
And every male in Abraham’s household was circumcised along with him. That included those born into his family or bought from a stranger.

which was followed immediately by

Genesis 18:1:
The Lord appeared to Abraham near the large trees of Mamre.

but who knows how much time elapsed between those two events? Because there is nothing in the Tanakh that tells us how much time elapsed between these events, to make a statement that one event happened at a certain time after the other is making an argument from nothing, and as such, is not a verifiable interpretation.

When you believe you have an understanding of something that you read in the Bible, use the tools we have discussed to verify your belief. You may be given a divine understanding of a passage, but if you can’t verify it using these tools, then it must be questioned. And if someone tells you what something in the Bible means, you need to verify it, for yourself, before you accept it or (God forbid!) teach it to anyone else as truth.

Remember: when the blind lead the blind, they both fall into a hole. When it comes to being able to properly interpret the Bible, use the tools you have learned here to make sure that you aren’t being led into a hole.

Thank you again, and please share these lessons with everyone you know, subscribe to this ministry on both YouTube and here on my website, and please take the time to check out my books and the rest of my website.

This has been a real pleasure for me, and if there is any particular topic you would like to see a teaching on, please do not hesitate to suggest it to me.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

How To Properly Interpret The Bible: Lesson 6- Language and Cultural Usage

In Lesson 2 we talked about Circles of Context and how that included the cultural usage, as well. Today we will look a little deeper into that, along with the need to be familiar with the language.

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

Let me start by saying you do not have to be fluent in either Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek to properly interpret the Bible, but only that you should be able to have a means of examining the original language used in a passage.

And there is more to it than that: you need to be able to know the historically correct cultural usage of the language in the Bible as it was used at that time, in everyday speech.

For instance, throughout the Bible we read about “the fear of Adonai”, but what is that? Does it mean to be afraid of God? Do we live our lives being scared of what God might do to us if we sin? That doesn’t seem to make sense when we consider how many times we are told that God loves us, he is merciful and compassionate, and that he understands our weaknesses and helps us to overcome them.

The proper cultural usage of the term “fear of the Lord” means to worship God. To “fear” God was not used, in those days, to be an expectation of physical harm or spiritual damnation, but to worship God as he commands us to do.

Of course, if you reject God then you do have something to be afraid of, which (who knows) maybe the reason they use the word” fear” to mean proper worship since improper worship would lead to damnation, and who, believing in God, wouldn’t be afraid of that?

In the book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), the writer’s conclusion is that fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Now, how can being afraid be the beginning of wisdom, especially when we (using hermeneutics) consider that Shaul (Paul) tells his protégé Timothy (in 2 Timothy 1:7) that God gives us a spirit who produces not timidity, but power, love, and self-discipline?

What Shaul is saying is that when we worship the Lord we are not to be afraid, but rather to be strong and confident. This will sound like an oxymoron, but the proper fear of the Lord will make us fearless.

There are times, though, when we are supposed to be afraid. For instance, in Matthew 10:28 we are told not to be afraid of those who can harm the body, but the one who can destroy both body and soul. Clearly, that is something to be afraid of.

I have been studying Hebrew for a couple of years now; I used Rosetta Stone and now use Duolingo. I work at it about 15 or 20 minutes a day, and it is slow going. I used to be good at language learning, but (as studies confirm) now that I am an old fart it is harder for me to remember the words. It is especially hard since there is no one else here who is fluent in Hebrew to help me practice and correct me. Yet, this constant study of Hebrew has helped me, even with the little I know, to better understand what is written in the Tanakh.

Many years ago I earned a Certificate in Messianic Studies which included classes on First Century Jewish culture. Without understanding the historical meaning and usage of the words at that time, we can’t always know what people really meant when they wrote things down, which we now read in the Bible.

Here’s another example: in Matthew 5:17, which is, in my opinion, one of the most misinterpreted passages in the entire Bible, Yeshua says he did not come to change the law but to fulfill it. Many “experts” interpret this as meaning Yeshua completed the law and use that as a polemic against following the Torah, even though Yeshua said, plainly, that he did not come to change anything!

When we consider the cultural usage of the language, in First Century Rabbi-speak, to “fulfill” meant to interpret correctly. It has nothing to do with completing or doing away with anything. And when we use that understanding of the meaning of the word with what Yeshua taught in his sermon on the mount, we can see that he was interpreting the law more accurately than the Pharisees or Scribes had been doing, because he gave the spiritual understanding as well as the plain language meaning (remember P’shat and Remes?).

The same holds true when we read in some Bible versions the use of the word “trespass” in the Lord’s Prayer. Of course, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t walk on each other’s lawn; to “trespass” meant to misinterpret the Torah. Therefore, to fulfill the law would lead people to salvation whereas to trespass would lead people into sin.

The previous lesson covered using an Interlinear Bible and a concordance, which will give you the translations of the Hebrew and Greek used in the Bible, but if you really want to allow the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to lead you to what God wants you to see, I recommend studying Hebrew on your own. Now, for myself, I am not so worried about knowing Greek to understand the New Covenant better because I believe that when I know the Tanakh, I will be able to determine what in the New Covenant makes sense, hermeneutically, and what doesn’t.

And, yes- although it is outside the scope of this training series, I do believe there is much in the New Covenant that doesn’t need to be in the Bible. But, as I say, that is for a different time.

That’s it for this lesson, and next time we get together I will conclude this teaching series.

Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!