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!

Parashot Veyakhel / Pekudey 2020 (He assembled / Accounts) Exodus 35 – 40

Because we are in a Leap Year, in order to have the annual reading cycle of the Torah comply with the Gregorian calendar, there are some Shabbat readings where we will read two parashah instead of one. This Shabbat is one of those times, and it also takes us to the end of Sefer Sh’mot, the Book of Exodus.

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In these last chapters, we are told of the generosity of the people in giving all the materials needed for constructing the Tabernacle; in fact, Moses had to order them to stop bringing materials because they had contributed too much.  We are told how the construction and materials were made, and these chapters are almost a word-for-word repetition of the instructions God gave Moses earlier. The style of the last chapters of Exodus regarding the Tabernacle is like reading “Here is what you are to do”, in minute detail, then we read “This is what they did”, in minute detail, ending with “And this is what was done”, in minute detail.

The last chapters tell us that Moses blesses the people for their work (which is likely when he wrote Psalm 90), which they did exactly as God commanded, and we end this book with God’s presence filling the Tabernacle.

And we end this book of the Torah with the statement we use at the end of each book:

Chazak! Chazak! V’nit Chazek!
(Be strong! Be strong! And let us be strengthened)

Regarding the building of the Tabernacle, we are given so many minute details of every aspect of this task. We are told how many loops, how many posts and bearings, what is made of which material, how many pomegranates, the dimensions of each section of the tent, and the weights of the materials used.

Would you like to know why there is so much detail regarding the building of the Tabernacle?

So would I. And you know what else? I don’t think we will ever know.

The same sort of minute detailing is given when Ezekiel measured the Temple, which we can read about in Ezekiel 40-43. It seems that there must be some reason, and maybe that reason is simply so that when we do rebuild the Temple, we will already know what we need to have and how to do it.

Who knows? Let’s move on…

What I found interesting in these readings is that Moses did not ask for God’s guidance or pray for success when they started to build the Tabernacle, and he did not bless the people for their work until after the entire task was completed correctly. I have always thought that when we start a project or begin a task, we should ask God for guidance and bless the people performing the task.

But the Chumash explains Moses held back his blessing until after the project was completed because it is an easy thing to start something difficult, but very hard and rare to complete it exactly as it was supposed to be done.

My take on this is that a blessing is not given but earned.

That also jibes with what we read in the Bible, as God’s blessings were given after something was done and not before.  We should ask for God’s guidance and help, but a blessing is not to be given until the task is completed.

The same holds true with obedience. God has many blessings, so many that if you put them into a bottomless pit they would spill out over the top, but we will not receive even one blessing if we do not do something worthy of one.

Yes, there are times when God will bless someone even though they don’t deserve one, and we know that he rains on the just and the unjust, alike, so there will be times a blessing is given that has not been earned, but that is God’s choice to do. After all, these are his blessings to give, and if he wants to give one for no reason that we can discern, then he can give it. And really…  who in their right mind would ever refuse a blessing?

The lesson for us from all this is that when we do as God says we should, we will receive a blessing. We will not get anything for not doing anything, and that means when you have a need and ask God to help you, he is willing and able to help but he will not do it for you.
Too many people sit around complaining about their life and asking for prayer from others. Yet, when they are given advice on how to get out of their slump or how to meet their needs, they always seem to have some excuse why that won’t work. Or they will say they have tied it and it didn’t work. I often wonder when someone says nothing works if they really tried hard enough to make it work. How many times have you tried to open a jar and found it too hard, but then you get angry at the jar and you can open it? Is it the anger, the adrenaline, or just simply that you finally put the effort needed into the task?

When you are in a slump or have a need, it is right and a good idea to ask God for help, but he won’t do anything until you walk in faith (as Abraham did) by getting off your kvetching tuchas and do what you would do as if you already had what you asked for. Yeshua tells us this is what we should do in Mark 11:24 when he said:

Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, trust that you are receiving it, and it will be yours.

Figure out what you want, determine how to get it, ask God for help and then get started. Don’t wait for the answer and don’t wait for a sign, for no sign shall be given. Just walk in faith trusting that what you asked for will be given to you. But keep your eyes open and your ears clear so that you can see where God leads you once you start walking; you never know, you may start in the wrong direction and God will have to redirect you.

God’s blessings are here for the asking, but they are not given until the work is done.

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I welcome your comments and until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom.

Changed My Mind

I just spent about an hour writing a message about fear and how it can be used to control us.

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When I couldn’t think of how to conclude the message I realized that I couldn’t stop writing because all I was doing was rambling on and on and on.

So here I am starting over, and trying to stay on topic, which is about the fear currently controlling the world, a fear which I haven’t seen this bad since McCarthyism, the A-Bomb Scare, or Legionnaire’s Disease.

(OK, I wasn’t old enough to go through the McCarthy era, but I certainly remember the others.)

I’m not going to discuss my feelings about the coronavirus phobia, which is what happened in my first draft and why I had to delete it, but will simply state that fear will abide and grow where there is no faith in God.

What I think is really terrible (maybe you agree?) is that now even houses of worship are closing their doors to their own congregants!

When there is a worldwide panic, as we are seeing today, the one place you would expect people to go is to their house of worship, where they can collectively pray for God’s help and protection. Yet, what are these houses of God doing?

They are shutting the people out!

Now, you tell me…is this something that serves God or helps the Devil?

Ah, now you see where I am going with this message: worldwide fear is a tool of the enemy of God, and the more we allow it to propagate, the more people will be controlled by Satan.

That may sound a bit far-fetched, but I do not believe so. Satan will not walk up to you and say, “Yo! Satan’s the name, and eternal damnation is my game. Ya wanna play?”

No, that won’t be the way he does it. What Satan will do is generate distrust and fear among the people, then present himself as a savior, overcoming the problem that caused the fear.

As an example, let’s use the current phobia over coronavirus: maybe someone will come up with a cure and in order to receive it free, you have to qualify, and when you do you will receive a chip in your hand you can use at a clinic to receive the shot.

Or maybe it will be a financial crisis, or maybe it will be some other world-shattering event. No one can know for sure what it will be, but I am certain that this is the process he will use.

So stop being afraid of the virus; after all, the medical fact is that it isn’t very deadly, and almost 99% of the people infected recover within a few days, I’ll bet many have already had it and thought it was just the flu. But do be aware of the effect that this event is having on the world’s population, which has already reached the point where countries are shutting themselves off from the world.

Do you remember what Yeshua said when he was accused of working for Satan? He said a house divided against itself cannot stand, and what do we see in the world today? Countries separating themselves from the world, events banning people from attending, schools closing and churches and synagogues refusing to open their doors.

We are being torn apart from the inside, and if you don’t think that is something that Satan can use to gain power, then you are blind.

Wash your hands and cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze. Really- we should all do that anyway. Didn’t your Mommy teach you that when you were a child? And shake hands with people, hug them and go through life as you always have, just be more aware of touching your face or wiping your nose. Keep one of those hand sanitizing spray bottles in your pocket- that’s fine. Being concerned and careful is not wrong, but being frightened to the point where you shut yourself off from others is wrong.

One last point…remember that Yeshua said whenever two or three are gathered in his name, there he will be; that can’t happen if no one is getting together with anyone else.

Thank you for being here, and please subscribe. Whether you agree or disagree with what I write, I welcome your comments.

Until next time, don’t be afraid, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Those With Faith Have No Fear and Those With Fear Have No Faith

Do you think that fear is the lack of courage or is courage the lack of fear? I have always heard, and agree, that courage is when we overcome our fear.

Fear is an instinct, it is designed to help us survive, but when we let our fear rule us that is when we have lost ourselves to the enemy.

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The enemy of God uses fear: fear of loss is the strongest of all fears, but there is also fear of pain, fear of death, fear of loneliness, fear of success, and there is even fear of being afraid. When your fears are controlling you, they are called phobias.

Courage is how we overcome the basic and instinctive fears that we have. There are different ways that people can find courage, and I believe the best way is through faith in God.

Humans want to be in control of themselves and what happens in their life, and I think when people don’t believe in God or believe he exists but they don’t think it is important to follow his instructions, they believe that way because they don’t want to cede control to him. They fear losing control and that fear is why they have no faith.

I also know people who say they believe in God and are faithful but go through life afraid of everything. They won’t drive on the highway, they won’t take a plane ride, and they won’t try to improve their condition or even try to do something different. These people are afraid of living.

And yet, they believe they are in control. Oy!

The Bible is rife with verses that should encourage us, meaning to literally put courage into us. Verses such as these:

Psalm 32:8I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.

Romans 8:31…What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Joshua 1:9…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Psalm 23:4…Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Psalm 27:1…The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

And this is just a small sampling.

To place our faith in God means, more than anything else, to accept his sovereignty and to trust him to always take care of us. That doesn’t mean we will never have tsouris in our lives: we need to have trials and tribulations because gold is only made pure after going through the fire. We can be anxious and even afraid of the suffering, but we must not be ruled by that fear. Again, fear is normal and we cannot help but feel it. That doesn’t mean we should be afraid of the fear or allow it to rule us: we gain the courage to overcome and control our fear through our through faith in God, knowing that even as we suffer he is working towards reducing or relieving that suffering.

Suffering, loss, and emotional trauma can, and often does, overwhelm people; we can find the strength to survive from our steadfast knowledge and faith in God, believing absolutely that he is always there to prevent our destruction.

Faith is not something that God will give us, and the kind of faith that comes from some miraculous event is fleeting, and (I believe) dangerous because a faith that is the result of a miracle is a faith that could be turned to Satan, who is capable of performing miracles. In fact, aren’t we told in Revelation that the prophets of Satan will perform many miracles and that many will be turned from the true faith?

Faith is a choice; it is a conscious decision to believe. It isn’t something we can see or feel (Hebrews 11:1), and our faith is strengthened when we follow the instructions God gave us in the Torah (James 2:14.)

When we choose to cede control of our lives to God and faithfully trust God to always take care of us, no matter what, we can be confident and encouraged because, well… who can beat up God?

(I just thought about something: when I said to “faithfully trust”, that’s actually redundant, isn’t it?)

Too many people today put their faith in technology or in someone in politics, or even in a sports figure or a newspaper. They trust quickly in what they hear and what they see, not thinking for a moment how easily those senses can be fooled.

Trust in God, choose to believe in what you will (probably) never see in this lifetime, and stick to that faith no matter what anyone else tells you. When you trust in God and demonstrate that trust through following his instructions, you will be given confirmation that your faith is well-founded.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share these messages with others. Check out the books I have written (available on Amazon or through my website) as well as some of the videos in my Picture Album of my vacations and other events in my life.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Vayyashev 2019 (And he dwelt) Genesis 37 – 40

The rest of Genesis is about Joseph. We all know the story: he is hated by his brothers because he is the favorite of his father. Not to mention he is also a bit of a snitch, having once given a bad report to his father regarding his brothers. We can add that sharing his dreams with his brothers also didn’t help the situation since the dreams indicated they would all bow down to him.

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When given the chance, the brothers were going to kill him, but instead decided to sell him to a caravan of Yishmaelim However, before they could do that, some other Arabs found him in the cistern the brothers dumped him into, and they sold him. He ended up as the slave to Potiphar, one of the military generals of the Pharaoh. Meanwhile, the brothers dipped his coat of many colors into some blood and presented it to Jacob to make him believe Joseph was killed by a wild animal.

The Bible tells us that God was with Joseph, which is why everything he did was successful. I think it would be more accurate to say that Joseph was with God. In any event, Joseph is promoted to the position of trustee for Potiphar’s entire household and finances. But, trouble brews when Potipher’s wife gets the hots for Joseph and constantly demands he sleep with her.  Because Joseph was too righteous to sleep with her, she got revenge by accusing him of attempted rape. It is likely that because Potiphar liked Joseph that instead of having him killed, which would have been the standard punishment, he simply placed him in jail.

Even in jail, falsely accused and wrongfully punished, Joseph maintained his faith and was appointed a trustee. When two of the officers of Pharaoh in jail with him had dreams, he interpreted their dreams. The interpretations came true, with the Baker being hanged and the Cupbearer restored to his prior position. However, although the Cupbearer had promised Joseph to tell Pharoah about him, once restored to his position he forgot all about Joseph.

This is where this Parashah ends, and we learn later that two years pass before the Cupbearer remembers Joseph.

Here we have a righteous and trustworthy man, Joseph, who did nothing wrong yet was attacked by his own brothers, sold into slavery, wrongly accused of a crime that he didn’t commit, and all because he did what he knew to be right.  He never lost his faith in God, which was evident when Joseph told the Baker and the Cupbearer that God is the one who can interpret dreams.

I see a lesson here for all of us: when tsouris (Yiddish for troubles) comes into our life, and we know we have done nothing wrong, we have to maintain our faith in God that these trials are temporary and will lead to something better. So long as we do what is right in God’s eyes, even when the world is against us, we can survive and come out on top.

Because 1 John 4:4 says

 ...he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

and Romans 8:28 tells us

Furthermore, we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called in accordance with his purpose;

we can be assured that when we are having troubles and going through a bad time, God is still there, he is aware of what is happening, and he has a plan for us.

There are so many verses in the Bible, as well as stories like this one, that confirm God is always aware of what is happening in our life. We need to trust that God is in charge and even when he allows bad things to happen, we probably won’t understand why they happened until God’s plan comes to fruition.

In Joseph’s case, the sale into slavery placed him in Egypt, and the false accusation put him where he could, eventually, find his way to the Pharaoh, which resulted in the entire family of Jacob being saved from starvation. Not to mention most of the population of Egypt and the surrounding countries. Joseph came to understand this later and in Genesis 45 he tells his brothers that it wasn’t really them who put him where he was, but God, in order to save them all.

Job is another good example of bad things happening to a good person, and he also learned that God does what God does for God’s own reasons. Kohelet, the author of Ecclesiastes, learned this lesson the hard way, spending years seeking to understand why things are as they are, realizing that the effort was as useless as chasing the wind. His conclusion was to simply enjoy that which God gives you.

Too often I hear people who are going through some sort of tribulation blame it on a Satanic attack, which it could be, or they blame God, saying he is punishing them for something they did wrong. God does punish those who do wrong, especially the ones who are unrepentant, but for the most part, I believe that when we are trying to walk in the path of righteousness we will have troubles, but God will always be there to help us back on our feet.

It isn’t for nothing Yeshua told his Talmudim that anyone who wants to follow him (in other words, live a godly life) will have to carry their own execution stake.

Here’s what we need to take home from today’s message: when something bad happens to you, don’t blame God. And don’t blame Satan. In fact, don’t look to blame anyone, but instead look to the future because if you maintain your faith in God, the Bible proves that God will bring you out of this desert of tsouris you are in and place you in a garden of everlasting joy. It may not be right away, it may not even happen in your lifetime, but when we maintain our faith in God and do what is right in his eyes, we will spend eternity joyfully in his presence.

Thank you for being here; please remember to subscribe and I welcome your comments. It’s always nice to know someone takes the time to let me know what they think of my message. Even if you disagree with me.

Until next time, Shabbat shalom and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Chayei Sarah 2019 (Life of Sarah) Genesis 23 – 25:18

Sarah dies and Abraham buys a field that also has a sepulcher so that he can bury her.  He then has his most trusted servant, Eliezer, go back to the land from which Abraham came, to his own people in order to get a wife for Isaac. Under no conditions, though, is Eliezer ever to bring Isaac back to Ur.

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Eliezer stops at a well, which would be the place all the women would eventually come to and asks God for a specific sign that would identify the woman God wants to be Isaac’s wife. Rebekah, the granddaughter of Abraham’s brother Nachor, does exactly what Eliezer asked God to have the woman he chose to do, and immediately gives her gifts. When she returns to her tent, her brother, Laban sees the gifts and goes back to the well to bring Eliezer into their tent.

Time out.

Laban is motivated to be hospitable only because of the gifts Rebekah received. We can here see, for the first time, Laban’s true nature. Later in this book, we will see more of his greed and treachery in the way he treats Jacob.

Time in.

Eliezer is invited to eat but refuses to do so until he is able to secure their permission to bring Rebekah back to Isaac to be his wife. Rebekah agrees to go, and Laban, who seems to be speaking in the place of the father as leader of the family, also agrees to let her go (of course he would, given how rich Abraham is) and they leave the next day to return to Abraham. Isaac sees Rebekah on their way back, takes her into his mother’s tent and their marriage is consummated.

The parashah ends with the death of Abraham.

I could go on forever about this section of the Torah, the story of the first Patriarch of Judaism. There are many lessons for us here, but what struck me as I was reading was the prayer of Eliezer to have God give him a sign. It made me think about when Yeshua told Satan, quoting from the Tanakh (of course), that we are not to test the Lord, our God. I thought to myself, “Is it proper to ask God to provide a sign? Isn’t that the same thing as testing him?”

I believe there is a difference between asking for a sign and testing the Lord, but what is it?

In Judges 6:36-40, Gideon “threw the fleece before the Lord” in order to make sure that it was God speaking to him. This was, in truth, a test. After the fleece was found wet and the ground around it dry, Gideon then asked God to do it again, but this time have the fleece dry and the surrounding ground wet. And when he asked for God to give a sign twice, he apologized to God. To me, this indicates Gideon knew that what he was asking from God was wrong.

God tells us the only manner in which we are allowed to test him is in relation to tithing, which we find in Malachi 3:10, and that test is to first give the proper tithe, after which God will shower you with more blessings than you can imagine. This test is one where we don’t ask God to do something, but we do something that God promises to reward. It is a test of the Lord, but not a test of who or how powerful he is, rather that he is trustworthy to keep his promises.

I think the difference between asking for a sign and testing the Lord has to do with the reason we ask. If I am in need of confirmation that I am doing something right in God’s eyes, and I ask him to show me what he wants, that is not a test. It is a genuine request for help. However, if I tell God that unless he gives me a sign I will not believe in him…to me that sounds more like a test than asking for a sign.

Faith – true faith – is not asking God to prove anything. True faith is choosing to believe, without any proof. I don’t need a sign, or a miraculous event, or even a confirmation from someone else for me to believe that God exists and that he hears my prayers. Of course, when he does answer my prayers I am grateful, and it does confirm my faith; but because my faith is by choice and not based on any specific event, when I don’t get an answer it doesn’t reduce my faith.

I don’t need “proof” because I have faith; anyone who needs proof doesn’t have faith, and frankly, even if they believe because they got proof”, their faith will always be weak.

I believe, in fact I know, that anyone who believes in God because of some miraculous event will be the first to apostatize because we know (from reading Revelation) that the Enemy and the minions of the Enemy will perform many miracles, which will turn many away from the true faith. If your faith is based on a miracle, your future is questionable because if one miracle convinces you that God is real, then another miracle will turn you from God to Satan.

Now that we have discussed this, I think it is safe to say that when you pray to God and ask for signs or confirmation that will help you stay in his will and show you what he wants from you, that is acceptable and even a good thing to do. On the other hand, if you find yourself asking God to prove something, that is testing him.

Satan wants us to test God because he can perform miracles that will fool us into thinking he is God, and by the time we realize we were fooled, it will be too late. Eve found out too late that she had been fooled- don’t let that happen to you.

Thank you for being here; I hope this has been edifying and if so, please subscribe and share me out. I also welcome comments.

Shabbat shalom, and until next time L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Faith is Only the Beginning

We are saved by faith…how many times have you heard that said? When you hear it, do you ever think “Am I really faithful?”

I do. Every day I try to be more faithful, but what does that mean, really?

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Is being faithful believing in God? Is it enough to believe he exists and that the Bible accurately describes him and all he has done? That is not enough- every demon from hell has seen him on his throne and was there when he created everything. And they’re not saved.

Does it mean believing that Yeshua is the Messiah? Yes, that is necessary, but that’s not enough (again) because every demon from hell doesn’t just believe Yeshua is the Messiah, they know it…absolutely! They have seen him and they know he is God’s son. But they’re not saved.

So, nu?  If believing in God and Yeshua as the Messiah isn’t enough, what do I have to do to be “faithful” enough to be saved?

The answer was given to us two millennia ago when Yacov (James) wrote in his letter to the Messianic Jews in the Diaspora that faith without works is dead.

James notes that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness not only because he believed what God told him, but because he acted on it! Abraham took his belief to the next, and necessary step to be faithful, by doing what God told him to do. His belief wasn’t just passive, it was active and demonstrated by his actions.

You may say, “But God knows the heart, and if I really want to be good and if I fail, God will know and forgive me.”

I have heard this from people more than a few times, and I worry for them because they are, without realizing it, telling God what he will do. I recall how God felt about the friends of Job when they assumed to know what God does and why.

God is forgiving, and he will forgive, but not automatically- you have to ask for it. And, you have to really be repentant in order to receive it.

When it comes to being faithful, we have to have a LOT more than just believing that God is God and Yeshua is the Messiah: we have to become better. And when I hear people say they will try to be better, my answer to them is the same as Jedi Master Yoda gave to Luke Skywalker, “Do or do not: there is no try.”

“But I am weak, I am a sinner from birth, no one is without sin!” Yes, that is all true, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be better than you are. If you want to be with God forever, you need to do more than just believe: you must have faith that is strong enough to spur you to action.

“But what must I do? How do I know what God expects of me?” The answer is in the Bible, specifically the first 5 books, which we call the Torah. No one can perform every law, regulation, commandment, and requirement that is in the Torah, but we can certainly do more than we are doing now.  When your faith causes you to become more of what God wants you to be by acting more in the way God wants you to act, then your faith is strong enough to ensure your salvation.

So long as you maintain it. Faith is something that comes to us with difficulty because it means giving up what we are used to, and for that very same reason, it is something that is too easily lost.

Shaul’s letters were written to Gentiles just learning about God and his instructions. Their faith was tested daily because their entire environment was against them, and they had to make a total U-turn in their behavior to show their faithfulness. You can see this in every letter Shaul wrote to the Gentile Believer congregations he started because he addressed the problems that their weak faith caused, which was human selfishness and other sinful activities. His admonishments regarding the Torah were not meant to teach people to ignore it but slowly learn how to live it. He was teaching people raised in a hedonistic and sexually perverted lifestyle how to live in a completely righteous way. Not an easy task, and so he didn’t try to force the entire Torah down their throats all at once, but instead to have them drink milk until they could have pureed Torah, and eventually they would be able to handle the “meat” of God’s word.

But a discussion of Shaul’s influence on the early Gentile Believers is beyond the scope of this message.

Your faith is measurable by your actions. There is a scale that God will use to judge each and every one of us, so we need to make sure that the side of the scale we want to be heavy on is our obedience to God’s instructions.  That is what James tells us is the true measure of our faith.

I will leave you with this last question: if you saw a hand writing a message on the wall, are you absolutely positive that the things you have said and done will demonstrate that your faith is enough to measure up?

Thank you for being here and please subscribe. Share me out, and if you like what I do then please consider buying my books (available through my website) and I always welcome your comments.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Do You Know Why You Believe?

Are you a Believer? Do you believe in God as the creator of the Universe and Judge of the world? Do you believe that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Messiah God promised to send to the Jewish people, who also made salvation available to both Jews and Gentiles, alike? Do you believe that Yeshua is the son of God and that he will return to establish his kingdom and eternally rule over all the Earth?

You do? That’s good! Now for one more question…do you know why you believe this?

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

Maybe I should start with an easier question? How about this: do you know why I am asking if you know why you believe?

I grew up believing Jesus Christ is not the Messiah the Jews have been waiting for, and that he was a traitor to Judaism and created Christianity, which either wants to convert Jews or kill them. And after believing this for more than 40 years of my life, when I started to question why I believed it the answer came to me.

I believed it because I was told to believe it.

I have met many Christians, both “Born Again” and mainstream, all of whom believe Jesus Christ is the son of God (Christianity seems to stay away from the title “Messiah”) and that if they are a good person they will get to go to heaven. When I have asked them why they believe this to be true, their answer often comes down to “because it’s true.”

Frankly, that’s not much of an answer, is it? That answer means they believe because they have been told to believe. They have not really accepted Jesus as their personal savior, or as the Messiah which he was sent to the Earth to be, or even as a real person. He is just “Jesus”, you know, that guy on the cross at the front of the church.  Many Believers (Born Again or not doesn’t matter) don’t know the Bible, they don’t know about Jesus’s Jewish roots, they don’t even know that he is not the one who created the dogma, tradition, holidays, doctrine or rhetoric that they have had forced down their gullet their whole lives!

They believe in Jesus as their savior because they have been raised to believe in Jesus as their savior, just as I was raised to reject Jesus as my savior.

So let’s go back to the original question: why do YOU believe?

Is it because you want to be in heaven? Not good enough- the Enemy will promise you heaven on earth, and ask you why wait until you are dead? If heaven is your reason for believing, then you will be turned from the truth.

Do you believe because your parents, grandparents, friends, and acquaintances all believe? Then you are just another sheep in the fold, following blindly and being led to slaughter.

Do you believe because you have read the Bible- the entire Bible from Genesis through Revelation- and after praying to God for guidance and discernment have come to your own conclusion that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah God promised to send to the Jews, DID send to the Jews and then through the Apostles was made available to the Gentiles? Is your belief based on your own choice, not dependent on anyone else’s choice?

If your answer is “Yes, I choose to believe in Jesus as my Messiah!” then you are in good shape. Your faith in him is firm and you will not easily be led astray because your faith is founded on your own choice.

My faith is strong because not only did I choose to accept Yeshua as my Messiah, but because I felt like I had to betray some 5,700+ years of Jewish ancestry to do it. My choice to accept Yeshua came before I even understood the truth of his teachings or the fact that modern Christianity is mostly from Constantine and Gentile misinterpretation. What I had always been told to believe was created by Jesus, when I decided to find out for myself, I found out that it wasn’t. And when I learned the truth, my choice to believe was confirmed, my feeling of betrayal was wiped away forever, and my faith has become rooted in cement.

And beyond that, my choice to believe has been confirmed by the many blessings I have received after I chose to believe, which I KNOW are from God and a reward for my faithfulness.

What you need to do, no matter how strong you believe your faith is in God and Jesus, is to look into the mirror and ask yourself, “Why do I believe in Jesus, really?”  Pretend someone is attacking your faith and you have to tell them why you accept Jesus as the Messiah. And if you can’t come up with justification you can show is based in the Bible, in your life experience, or in your own personal study, then you need to re-evaluate your faith. You need to realize that maybe, just maybe, you haven’t really chosen to accept Yeshua on your own. Maybe your acceptance is nothing more than just going along with the crowd and you don’t really know where you are going?

That is a dangerous position to be in. So please!- ask yourself why you believe, and if the answer is anything like “because” or “I guess I always have” or “I don’t know- I just do” then you are in trouble, and your salvation is unsure because your faith is not your own.

The only true faith is the one you choose to have, and if you haven’t made the choice to accept Yeshua/Jesus as your Messiah totally on your own, then you don’t really believe in anything.

Thank you for being here, please share me out to your friends and family and subscribe.

Also, please check out my Gofundme campaign to help send Bibles and prayer shawls to three rural Ugandan Messianic Synagogues. So far we have only raised $175 of the $650 we need- if everyone reading this message gave only $10 we would have enough money to help these Believers, who have chosen to believe despite the religious persecution in that country. Here is a link to that site:

Ugandan Messianic Synagogues

I will be out of the country on a family trip to Ireland all next week and will not be posting again until the end of this month, so until then L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

We Can’t Reject Our Cake and Eat It, Too.

No video for this one, but please take a minute or two to read it.

This message came to me in the middle of the night, and I couldn’t sleep until I shared it with you.

There was once a small town in a valley that was protected by a dam. In this town, there was a man of God who constantly professed faith in the Lord.

One day the dam began to fail and the townspeople had to be evacuated. The man of God ran around warning people to leave. The water level was up to his knees and he was wading through it when a truck came by and the driver said for the man of God to get on so he could be taken to safety.

The man replied, “God will protect me and save me- go save someone else.”

The water was now up to his waist and climbing quickly, and a rowboat came by. The people asked the man to get in, but he replied, “God will protect me and save me- go save someone else.”

Now the water was up to his neck and he was half-walking/half-swimming when a helicopter came overhead and through a loudspeaker, the pilot said, “Man of God- get on because the dam is about to burst!”

The man replied, “God will protect me and save me- go save someone else.”

Finally, the dam burst and the man of God was drowned.

In the heavens, the man saw God and said to him, “Why did you let me drown? I told all those people you would save me and you didn’t!”

God replied, “What are you talking about? I sent you a truck, then I sent you a rowboat. I even sent you a helicopter!”

Remember this story- we will return to it soon.

Yeshua told us in Matthew 5:17 that he did not come to change the law.  He also told us, in John 13:20 that whoever accepts someone he sends, accepts him, and whoever accepts him accepts the one who sent him. And in Luke 10:16 he tells us the converse is true, which is that whoever rejects him (Yeshua) rejects the one who sent him (God.)

One more verse- John 1:14 tells us the Word (meaning the Word of God, which is the Torah) became flesh and dwelt among us, who was Yeshua.

Putting these together, we see that the written Torah is from God, Yeshua (also from God) is the living Torah, so they are one and the same thing. Yeshua said he did not come to change anything in or about the Torah, and that when we accept him we accept God but if we reject him we also reject God.

Everybody with me so far?

Shaul said in Colossians 2:14 that the crimes against us were nailed to the cross with Yeshua, which is true, but those were only our own sins which we had already committed. Traditional Christian teaching is that this means the Law (Torah) was nailed to the cross and through faith in Yeshua we don’t need the law anymore. In other words, once saved, always saved and the need to obey the Torah was done away with.

This is the exact same thing that the snake said to Eve when he told her it was okay to eat the apple because she wouldn’t really die.

You cannot accept Yeshua as your Messiah and reject the instructions God gave us in the Torah because they are both one and the same thing. 

Now we can see the true meaning of the story: God has been telling us, first through Moses (the truck), then through the Prophets (the rowboat) and finally through Yeshua (the helicopter) that people who are trusting traditional Christian rhetoric to save them are really rejecting the salvation God has provided and will end up drowning.

For those who profess faith in God and Yeshua, but reject the Torah, they will be in the same situation as the ones we are told about in Matthew 7:21-23:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.  Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

How can anyone say that the law was done away with and not admit that they are practicing lawlessness?

Faith is how we are saved, and genuine faith will motivate us to obedience. You can’t have one without the other- they are both sides of the same coin. It is a never-ending circle of righteousness: faith generates obedience, obedience brings blessings, blessings confirm faith, faith generates obedience, ad infinitum…

Let go of the comfort zone that Christian teaching has provided by telling you that all you need is “faith in Jesus”! Yes, you need to have faith in Yeshua as the Messiah, but that doesn’t replace faith in God, and true faith (as James says in James 2:14) is shown through good works, meaning obedience to the instructions God gave us how to worship him and how to treat each other- which are found in the Torah!

You can’t accept the living Torah and reject the written Torah at the same time.

 

Parashah Shemini 2019 (the 8th day) Leviticus 9 – 11

This parashah picks up from last week’s reading, where we left Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu in the Tent of Meeting for 7 days as part of their anointing to be Cohanim (Priests) to the Lord.

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

Now, on the eighth day, they are to perform a series of sacrifices to complete their anointing ritual, but after doing so Aaron’s two sons present their own incense before the Lord, which was not part of the ritual, and the punishment for that was their immediate death. Moses commands that drinking alcoholic beverages when serving the Lord is forbidden, which the rabbis have understood to mean that Aaron’s sons were drunk, causing their irrational and sinful behavior.

The next chapter, Chapter 11, is the one that gives the instructions for Kashrut, the kosher regulations.

This is probably one of the most argued against instructions in the entire Bible. Christians have misinterpreted Mark 7 and Acts 10 for centuries as doing away with these instructions; even within Judaism, Reform Jews (within my experience) generally do not keep Kosher and many Conservative Jews I have known may maintain a kosher home, but when outside their home will disregard these instructions.

Rabbinical thought categorizes the Kashrut instructions as Chukim, which are regulations we are expected to obey, although the reason for them transcends human understanding.

We can know this one thing about the instructions in Leviticus 11: they help to make us holy, where holy means to be separated.

I keep kosher according to the instructions in the Bible, but I am not kosher according to the rabbinic regulations in the Talmud, which greatly expand the ones in this chapter. As such, I can tell you, absolutely, that I am separated from those who do not maintain this diet.  For instance, when I go to an Italian restaurant I have to ask if there is pork included in the meat that they use for their lasagna and meat sauce. For breakfast, I have to double-check that there is no bacon fat added to the home fries, which many chefs use to enhance the flavor. When going out for breakfast, I know the turkey sausage I order will probably be cooked on the same grill with the regular sausage, but the heat of the grill is enough to destroy the treif (Yiddish for unclean) germs left behind. The fact that the heat of the grill makes it OK to have kosher next to treif comes from the same reasoning the Rabbis give for using the same plates for meat and dairy (fleishig and milchig), so long as the dishwasher is hot enough to sterilize the dinnerware.

My obedience to Kashrut is what separates me from the rest of the patrons, and when asking about the food preparation I have an opportunity to demonstrate obedience to God’s instructions and (maybe) set an example to others.

What presents a serious problem, to me, is when people argue about why certain animals are kosher and why others aren’t. The problem I see with this is that it shows a need to know why God does something.  We are allowed to question God, but this human need to know everything works against faith.

Faith is believing that which can’t be seen or proven, and I believe when we have to know “why” it represents a lack of faith: I say this because by having to know why we apparently don’t trust that God will only have us do that which is good for us. When it comes to obedience to the instructions God gave us on how to live, worship and treat each other, I think we should follow the motto from the Nike shoe company: Just do it!

I am not saying we cannot ever question the Lord; he is big enough and compassionate enough to allow this. My concern is that constantly questioning God’s reasons might result in losing faith when we don’t get the answers. This is what the writer of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) found out- trying to understand God at God’s level is like chasing the wind. It was impossible and resulted in disappointment and depression.

Obedience to the instructions in Chapter 11 of Leviticus, as well as any other instructions God gave to us throughout the Torah, should not be based on understanding the reasons why God gave them. Obedience for the sake of obedience is what many think will help us earn our entry into heaven- it won’t. This is what I call “Performance-based Salvation”, and is the “legalism” that Shaul spoke against when he wrote to the congregation in Galatia.

Obeying the instructions for Kashrut (as well as every other instruction in the Torah) should be based solely on faithfully accepting that God would not tell us to do anything other than that which is good for us. He says, over and over throughout the Tanakh, that we should obey so that we will live. He doesn’t mean live this life but to live eternally with him. When we are truly faithful, that faith generates a desire to obey. The more faithful, the more obedient.

What is really sad is that there are many, many people who do have faith, but their obedience has been stifled with wrongful teaching through traditional Christian (meaning Constantinian) doctrine that was not designed to honor God. Neither was it created by the early ‘church” fathers to separate Christians from the unholy, but to separate Christians from the Jews.

God sent the Messiah to bring all people back to God, but men have distorted that event into further separating people from God by teaching disobedience.

Each one of us has the right to choose what we will do. God has given us all the instructions he wants us to know, which are all the instructions we need to know. And we do NOT need to understand why he has given any of them, we just need to faithfully accept they are what is best for us, and obey them. God has said many times in the Tanakh that he has presented to us life and death, and tells us to choose life, that we may live.

So, nu? You can choose life or death- which one do you want?

Thank you for your interest and please share me out to help this ministry grow. Also, don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE by clicking on the button in the right-hand margin. Also, use the link above to subscribe to my YouTube channel. If I get enough subscribers I will earn a little advertising money and I use that to send my books to foreign countries that are asking for hard copy (it cost me over $100.00 to send 6 books to Uganda earlier this year.)

Tonight is Shabbat so Shabbat Shalom, and until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!