Do Bible Verses Really Prove Anything?

Based on the title of today’s message, I promise not to give one verse or quote from the Bible.

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There are many, many people who believe the Bible to be the infallible Word of God. Yet, how can that be if there are literally dozens of different versions of the Bible and under the law of copyright, each version has to have a significant difference from the other versions?

Also, we have interpretations of the original Hebrew and Greek into many different languages, and we all know that there is no such thing as an exact translation from one language to another due to cultural and linguistic differences between the many different people of the world.

So, in light of these facts, how can we even think that what we are reading in our Bible (whichever version it may be) is truly infallible?

The truth is…it can’t be! After all, the Bible is just a book. It is not God, himself. It tells us about God, it tells us what God wants us to know, it even tells us how to live our lives in the way that pleases God, but it is not God. It is not infallible, and it is not exactly what he said, even when it is supposed to be a quote.

Now that I have angered a number of you who are absolutely fixated on the Bible as being the absolute, infallible word of God, let’s raise the bar on your frustration.

When someone tries to prove a position, spiritual, ceremonial or social, that is based on what is written in the Bible, their argument may not trustworthy. And I am not talking about just those arguments that I don’t agree with. Why do I say this? Because the way people use Bible verses to support their position is too often an improper use of biblical exegesis.

As an example of what I mean, let’s take two of the most hotly argued issues regarding the Bible: the Trinity and Mosaic Law.

There are many people who argue that the Bible tells us, absolutely, that God, Messiah and the Holy Spirit are three-in-one, all the same entity but appearing in different forms. Then again, there are just as many people who say the Bible tells us, absolutely, that God, Messiah and the Holy Spirit are separate and unique entities, that there is only One God, one Messiah who is not God, and the Holy Spirit. Both sides have biblical evidence that supports their argument, and often the Bible verses they use as support for each side of these polar opposite beliefs are the same verses!

As far as the “Law”, meaning the commandments given to Moses on the mountain which are written in the Torah, still being required for those who have accepted Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) as their Savior, there is the one side quoting from the New Covenant to show the law was done away with when Yeshua was crucified, and there are those who use quotes from the New Covenant to show that those who accept Yeshua are still required to obey God’s Torah.

Now…before you start to comment on which position is correct, please stop right there and remember this message is NOT about the Trinity or the Law- it is about the fact that Bible quotes cannot be trusted as absolute proof of a position. The reason why I say this should now be obvious: because the same verses can be used to support either side they can’t really support any side.

The reason this can be is because there is so much in the Bible, so many different messages and ideas and statements, that if I want to prove whatever I choose to believe in, if I take enough time, look long enough, and pull enough words and statements out of context, I can make the Bible “say” pretty much anything I want it to say.

So, nu?  If this is true, then how can anyone learn anything from the Bible? How can we use the Bible to show what God wants us to know and how he wants us to behave? How can we trust anything anyone tells us about God?

We do so by interpreting the Bible correctly. We use proper biblical exegesis, which is a combination of Circles of Context and Hermeneutics.

Circles of Context is the system where we take the word within the sentence, the sentence within the paragraph, the paragraph within the book, and the book within the entire Bible. We make sure that when we are reading or quoting anything from the Bible that the interpretation considers who is writing it and to whom is it addressed. We have to consider what the topic is; for instance, Shaul (Paul) wrote to the different Messianic congregations he formed that were having problems. Each letter he wrote was specifically meant to deal with that congregation’s problems, and so each letter is unique to that audience. What he wrote to the Jews in Rome has to be interpreted and understood using Jewish culture, linguistic, and religious context. On the other hand, the letter to the Galatians was to a congregation of mostly Gentiles in the process of converting to Judaism. In that case, Shaul wrote using a form of Greek logic and terms from the Septuagint because the Gentiles there would not understand the nuances and cultural mores of a Jewish argument.

Once we have reviewed the biblical passage in its full context, we also need to ensure it is hermeneutically validated. Hermeneutics, simply stated, is the idea that everything we find in the Bible will be consistent with everything else in the Bible. As such, what is said to be a sin in Genesis will still be considered a sin in Revelation; what Shaul says is in the Torah in his letter to the Philippians will be consistent with what Moses tells us is in the Torah in Exodus.

Just as we are told that God is the same then, now and always, hermeneutics uses this same idea to validate what we read in the Bible- the meaning of the passage we read here must be the same everywhere else in the book. The true word of God does not contramand itself.

When we read the Bible, we need to always use these two exegetical practices. We must consider the cultural and linguistic usage of the words and events we read about that were used at the time they were written. We cannot use current or modern definitions of words or, for that matter, current social and moral values for what was done in ancient days. We must accept what we read in the Bible from the viewpoint, morally, culturally and linguistically, of the people that lived back then. If we really want to understand what we read in the Bible, we need to transplant ourselves into the culture and walk a mile in the shoes, or sandals as the case may be, of the people at that time.

Can we trust the Bible? Yes, we can. We can trust what is in the Bible when we use the proper tools I have given you today. And always, ask God to show you what he wants you to see. There is a legitimate argument that God may give a different message or meaning to you than he will to me, even when we read the same passage. So long as what we each believe that passage to mean is contextually accurate and hermeneutically validated, we can both be right. For instance, some prophecies have dual-meanings, and if you see the current meaning and I see the future meaning, we are both saying something different about the same thing, and we are both correct.

I know this is confusing and may make some of you feel uneasy and doubtful. That is good! Never accept what anyone says as correct, not even me- always verify it for yourself in the Bible using the proper tools of interpretation. And always, always, always ask God for guidance and understanding.

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Share me out and please don’t hesitate to make comments: all I ask is that you be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch Ha Shem!

Why I Post the Things I Post

No video today, but keep watching for my new book to be available soon.  If you haven’t already subscribed, please do so now to be notified of the release of my and to get in on the best deals. 

When I write these messages, which I prefer to the term “posts I try to take the biblical requirements for how we are to worship God and act towards each other and put them in a modern-day light. 

I also try to identify and debunk the wrong teachings that proliferate throughout the Christian world, as well as within Judaism, too. 

The reason for this is because the Bible is about how we should worship God and how we should treat each other. Too often I see people talking about things in the Bible that they take out of context and interpret in a way that works with the lifestyle they want to live. Of course, this has been happening since the first time God told us what he wants of us.

Jews still hold a “legalistic” view of the Torah and have been taught that Jesus started a new religion; Christians (pretty much) have been taught to completely ignore the requirements in the Torah because those are only for Jews. And within both Judaism and Christianity there have, over the centuries, been different sects and religions formed, each of which has their own rules of “this not that, and these not those.” All of these different religions and sects within a religion have the same goal- to act in the way the person who started that sect/religion wants to act. 

GOD HAS NO RELIGION!! He has his rules, laws, and commandments which tell us how to worship him and treat each other which are not just for Jews- they are for everyone. 

God gave the Torah to the Jewish people to bring to the world, which is why he told Moses that they will be a nation of priests for him (Exodus 19:6.)

All these different religions are man-made. As we have been told, “Seek and ye shall find”: when it comes to the Bible, everything we ever need or want is in there, somewhere, and if we look hard enough we can take enough things out of context and put them together to justify the Bible says to do just about anything.

My goal is to let people know what God really wants of them and try to give practical ways to live as God wants us to in our everyday lives. I believe that the Torah is still valid; Yeshua never did away with it. What he did was to teach the deeper, more spiritual meaning behind the laws that are there.  The Torah is the ultimate Catch 22: we can become righteous (saved) by perfect obedience to the Torah, but no one can be perfectly obedient to the Torah. 

So, Nu? Now what? 

Now what we do is to try to do our best, trust in God’s faithfulness to keep his promises (which he has shown throughout the Bible he will do) and ask for the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to guide us. We must read the Bible every day to learn about God, and to confirm for ourselves that every time our fathers failed to do as God said they should when they were repentant and called upon God for forgiveness, he forgave them.

God will let us fall to learn how to get up, and he is always there to give us a helping hand when we humbly and repentantly ask for it. 

One last thing: you will note that I do not do what the “popular” sites do, which is to preach only about God’s love and forgiveness. Salvation is not really a “come-as-you-are” party and the idea that “Once saved, always saved” is nothing more than Satanic propaganda. People who “want their cake and to eat it, too” are the ones that fall for this. Since most of the world is composed of people who are self-absorbed and hedonistic, these religious organizations and leaders preach to our flesh saying that you are fine as you are; just ask for forgiveness and you are forgiven and set for eternity. They appeal to our basic nature- lazy and selfish.  That is why they are so popular. Just listen to the rhetoric of the “Mega-churches” and you will hear all about the rosy-colored world of God’s love and forgiveness. 
But will they preach about tithing? Will they talk about Yeshua telling us we must lift up our execution stake and carry it if we wish to follow him? Do they tell us that salvation is easily attained but really hard to keep, or even that if we fail to be repentant or obedient we can throw our salvation away? 

Of course not- that would cause them to lose many of their followers. But it would be the truth. What they say about God’s love and forgiveness is true, but it is not the whole truth about God or salvation through Messiah. 

I try to tell it as it is, and I may be wrong. I am only human. But I try to justify whatever I say with showing where it is in the Bible and also ask for confirmation or correction from those reading what I write. I tell you all that you should not take my word for it, but check out everything I say for yourself. After all, I may be wrong! How will you know if you don’t check it out? And if I am, you are obligated to correct me. Proverbs 12:1 and 12:15 both say that a wise man loves correction, and I would certainly want to be wise. 

Just make sure you are nice about it. 

Thank you for visiting my site, reading my work, and especially for subscribing. If you aren’t already a subscriber, please do so if you like what you read. All that happens is that you get a notification of my posts.  And I’ll also ask, again, that if you like what you read here please share me out. 

Blessing to you and yours. 

Baruch HaShem!! 

Is God’s Name Really a Name?

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

I will unquestionably be opening a can of worms with this post, so to all reading this (or watching the video) I ask that you please do not shout back at the monitor or bang your fist on the table shouting “NO! NO! NO!” until the end.

I think this will blow a lot of people’s minds. I know it did mine.

Let’s start with the simple question: What is a “name?”  When I searched on line for an answer, it said, “a word or set of words by which a person, animal, place, or thing is known, addressed, or referred to.”

In the ancient days, many names were more than just a means of identifying someone. Some of the names were almost prophetic in that they described who the person was. Jedidiah is someone beloved by God; Joshua is God’s salvation; Abraham is father of multitudes; Emmanuel means God is with us.  These names didn’t just identify the person but also indicated what we should expect from them during their lifetime.

What about God’s name? There are many names that are used to identify God: God (of course), El, Yah, Shadai, and the Holy Name that is called the Tetragrammaton (I will use the term ‘Tetra” in this discussion just to make it easier to type) which is Y-H-V-H, or also shown as Y-H-W-H.

Most people believe this is God’s Holy Name, the very one he told Moses to use when Moses asked to know what name to tell the people in Exodus 3:13-15. But they are wrong! This is what God told Moses:

Then Moses asked God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ What should I tell them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” God also told Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.…  (Berean Study Bible) 

So God didn’t give a specific name, he gave a description of who he is when he told Moses to say “I am has sent me to you.”

I have looked in the JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh (one of the most respected interpretations of the Tanakh today), my Chumash (The Pentateuch and Haftorahs) edited by Dr. Hertz (Soncino Edition) and also my Tikkun.

NOTE: For those who may not be familiar with the Tikkun, it is a book of the Torah scroll with the Torah Hebrew (a very different font of Hebrew), the modern Hebrew with vowel points and the English translation with commentary of the scriptures. It is used for preparation of chanting the Torah when reading the weekly parashah.

In every one of these highly authentic Jewish volumes, the word used for God in this passage is Elohim (generally meaning is “God is judge”) and he doesn’t use the Y-H-V-H anywhere in this passage. What is used is: אה’ה אשר אה’ה, which means “I am who I am.”

So, nu?  What’s this mean? It means that the Tetra is not the name God gave to Moses to identify who he is to the children of Israel. So now we have to ask, “Where did the Tetra come from?”

It was first used in Genesis 2:4. The very first appearance of the Tetra in the Torah is right after God finished making the earth, in the second half of verse 2:4. The Hebrew says: ב’ומ עשות ‘הוה אלה’מ which in English is translated as ‘When the Lord God..”, which tells us the Tetra is translated from the Torah as “Lord.” The word we use for the Tetra in Judaism is “Adonai”, which means “Lord.”

The Tikkun explains what the Tetra means: it is really an acronym. Each of the letters represent a word, and those words are (I will transliterate): Hah-yah  Ho-veh  veh-yee-yeh, which means “He was, he is and he will be.”

So after all the hullabaloo about the correct spelling of God’s name and how it should be pronounced, we find out that what we have always thought to be God’s Holy Name isn’t really a name! It is an acronym for words that describe the eternal nature of God.

And that fits with God’s command to Moses in front of the burning bush that the name he gave to Moses is how he should be remembered in every generation.  God was not giving Moses a name we should use to call him but how we should remember and refer to him. Remember at the beginning the definition of a name can also mean how we refer to someone? God doesn’t want us to have a specific name for him, he wants us to refer to him for who and what he is. He is our eternal Lord. He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And that is what he told Moses he wants us to call him.

People are given a name we can call them during their lifetime, but because God has no lifetime he is known only by his eternal nature.

He is and he was and he shall be: that is what the Tetra means. It is not a name as we define what a name is, it is a memorial to remind us that God is eternal.

And from the very first time we see the Tetra in the Torah it is interpreted as “Lord”, who are we to change it?

So where do we go from here? I suspect that those who absolutely must use the Tetra and pronounce it as they believe it should be pronounced will continue to do so. I hope at least some will reconsider their understanding and verify what I have said here. And there may be some who will start to use “Lord” or “Adonai” as we Jews have been doing forever.

Others may just wander around the house muttering to themselves, “What should I believe? What is right? Who can I trust?”

I can answer that last one: trust God and trust his word. Trust that the interpretation Jews have been using for thousands of years is more dependable (and probably more accurate) than the one many Gentile’s just now learning about God and Yeshua are using.

And always, always, ALWAYS go to the Jewish versions of the Torah and Tanakh (Old Covenant) to see what the Hebrew says. The Torah is absolutely dependable to be the exact same way it is today as it was when it was first written. If you knew all the different ways the Torah is verified when a new one is written you would be able to trust that it is absolutely dependable. The Hebrew, that is- the interpretations are subject to individual bios and predetermined understanding.

I have been reading and studying the bible for over 20 years and after all this time I just now learned that what I have always known to be the Holy Name of God isn’t a name at all. OY! I just love the exciting and new things we learn from God’s word when we really look at it.

Parashah Mikketz (it came to pass), Genesis 41-44:17

Joseph is still in jail, unjustly accused by Potipher’s wife, and now forgotten by the cup bearer to Pharaoh, but God has given him grace and Joseph is in charge, the position we would call “Trustee.”

Pharaoh has a dream, the dream of the 7 ears of corn and the 7 cows, and is so troubled by it that he calls all the magicians and soothsayers to interpret it, but none can. Now the cup bearer remembers Joseph, and Joseph is brought forth. Joseph interprets the dream and consults Pharaoh regarding how to prepare for the coming famine. Pharaoh is so impressed by Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams and manage things that he immediately appoints him Grand Vizier over all of Egypt. Pharaoh also, it is important to note, gives credit (as Joseph did from the start) to God, whose spirit rests in Joseph. The honor bestowed on Joseph also honors God.

Now Joseph is “The Man”, married into a very influential family and running the country. The famine has hit so hard and is so extensive that Israel’s sons and their families feel the crunch, so Israel tells his sons to go to Egypt and buy food (apparently Israel had to give them a bit of a kick in the pants to get them going.) The sons go down, all except Benjamin, who Israel has been dotting over and guarding like a prized fragile vase. The brothers go to Joseph, who recognizes them in an instant, but they do not recognize him. That makes sense, since (for a start) why would they ever expect to even see Joseph again, let alone expect to see him as an Egyptian noble. Joseph is dressed differently, is groomed like an Egyptian, wearing royal clothing and (probably) eye shadow and mascara. Even his voice would be different since he was only 17 when they threw him in the cistern and now he is a 30-year old man.

So begins the testing by Joseph of his brothers: not a vengeful retribution but a test to see if they have repented of the evil they did to him. And the brothers, having been accused of spying out the land and placed in custody, immediately count all that is happening to them as just deserts for the way they treated Joseph. It’s been 13 years, yet the first thing they think of when they are in trouble and misjudged is that God is striking them for their sin against their brother.

Joseph lets them think about it for 3 days, then announces that he is a fair man and will hold only one hostage so the rest can bring the needed food to their families. Simeon is taken as the hostage (the reason for this, according to Rabbinical thought, is because Simeon was the one who first suggested killing Joseph, so maybe a little “get-back” is happening here) and the brothers are told that if they ever return without the youngest to prove their innocence, then they will be killed. They relate this to Israel, who now finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place: let Benjamin go down with the brothers and risk losing him, or keep Benjamin at home and risk dying of starvation and leaving Simeon in jail for the rest of his life.

Finally, Judah (the leader) guarantees Benjamin’s safety and Israel relents. They go down, prove their story and Joseph, who is finding it harder and harder to maintain his identity a secret, invites them all to dine with him at his house. He tests them, one last time, by hiding a cup of his in Benjamin’s pack and after they leave he sends his men to catch up with them and accuse them of stealing. They rashly make an oath that whoever has stolen anything will be killed, and lo! Benjamin is the one. Totally crestfallen, they are all taken back to Joseph for judgement. Here we are left hanging until the next Parashah.

This seems to be easily explained with the old adage, “What goes around, comes around.” The brothers mistreated Joseph, and now they are being mistreated, as well. They immediately accept that their sins have caught up with them, and although they are scared for their lives, they accept their misfortune as deserved.

How many of us are willing to accept the results of our own inappropriate actions or words? Isn’t it true that when we do something wrong, the first reaction is to avoid the blame? To say, “Well, you could’ve done this” or “They should’ve done something to prevent that”, or just, “I didn’t mean it.”  The harm is done, and now someone has to pay, so if it is me, I need to get away from the pointing finger. Many people take almost a pridefulness in being able to avoid the consequences of their actions. I call those types “Teflon people”, because nothing ever “sticks” to them.

Those who fear God, who try to do their best, who show maturity and honesty, will always accept the consequences of their actions. President Truman used to have a sign on his desk that said, “The buck stops here”, meaning that ultimately he was responsible. He took that responsibility seriously, as well, and when we are responsible we are more careful about what we do and say.

Joseph knew what his brothers felt about him when he was a child, and certainly has never forgotten what they did to him. Yet, instead of feeling vengeful he wanted to embrace them because he had already forgiven them. I think it becomes clear as the story goes along that he was also desperate to reconcile with them. He was the one harmed but he showed understanding, forgiveness and love- all those things God likes us to do. But he wasn’t stupid about it- forgiveness doesn’t mean trusting again. His desire to reconcile was tempered by his common sense to make sure that before he lets them know who he is, which could mean their trying to take advantage of his position and power, he first tests their morality and trustworthiness.

We need to learn that no matter how poorly someone has mistreated us, the only way to overcome the pain and insult is to forgive and reconcile; first we forgive in our hearts, but we shouldn’t try to reconcile until we know their hearts. Forgiveness is first and foremost between the one that has been hurt and God, whereas the one hurt shows God that he or she has forgiven the sinner. That is the most important thing because forgiving someone who has sinned against you makes YOU right with God, and has nothing to do with their relationship with God. They need to ask God’s forgiveness. If they ask forgiveness from you, that’s a really good thing, but (ultimately) they need to ask for and be forgiven by God because He is the one who counts. Your forgiveness will do nothing to help them repair the rift between them and God that their sin caused.

We forgive the sinner to make ourselves right with God, which then also relieves the pain of the insult and mistreatment we suffered. If the sinner is willing and desiring to be forgiven by you, you have already done so, but that person needs to prove they have changed before you should trust them or reconcile. Let’s say I worked for you, and as your office manager I stole from you. I am caught, I return what I stole, and I ask for forgiveness. You forgive, and are even willing to let me work for you again, but you should not place me in a position where I can steal from you. Forgiveness is a spiritual thing, and not to be confused with real-life common sense. I abrogated a trust, and forgiveness works toward repairing our relationship but doesn’t reinstate the trust. The trust you had for me I now need to reestablish.

When God forgives our sins, they are forgotten, but when humans forgive, we should not totally forget what we forgave until the other person proves their true T’shuvah, repentance, and through their actions regains the trust that they violated.

Forgiveness is a spiritual action, whereas trust is real-life: always give them the chance to reconcile and regain trust, but don’t be naive about it.

Parashah Ki Thetze (Go Forth) Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25

In this parashah there are many seemingly miscellaneous laws, dealing with everything from marrying a captured slave woman to how to divorce her, rights of the criminal, OSHA regulations (must have a parapet on the roof), mixing of different things (animals that are yoked, seeds in the field, cloths), what to wear, what not to wear, sparing the mother bird, adultery, tzitzis, holiness of the camp, kindness to animals, excessive punishment, providing for the poor and needy, accountability for sin, kidnapping, pledges, charging of interest, business dealings, and others.

Most of these laws are easy to understand, and some don’t seem to make sense. This parashah seems to have a little of all three types of laws: Miztvot (commandments), Mishpatim (regulations) and Chukkim (laws we don’t understand the reason or meaning of.)

The message I would like to get across today is this: let the Holy Spirit guide your interpretation.  We may not be able to understand all that we read in the Bible; in fact, we can’t understand all that we read in the Bible! That’s one of the things that is so great about reading it every day! No matter how many times I read it, I always find something new in there, something I have seen a hundred times but never understood before that reading.

And that is not of my doing- it comes from the understanding I receive through the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit.

When I want to know what message God has for me, I “un-focus” my brain and leave it open to the Holy Spirit. It’s like when you find yourself staring directly at something but you don’t really see it because you haven’t focused your stare. I do that with my brain (most people who know me will tell you I do that a lot) and sort of open it up to the Holy Spirit to place what it wants in there. I am sure there are people who hear God talking to them, audibly, but I don’t. I get this little, still voice in the back of my head that just sort of “pops” something in there. And when it goes against what I was thinking I should do or say, or against what I thought I wanted, I can be certain that it is God. Especially because when I get that thought, it’s different from what I thought it should be and yet I know in my spirit that it is right, well…that’s gotta be the Big Guy leading me.

Today what I have for you is a short and simple lesson: let God’s spirit lead your interpretation and understanding when you read His word.

After all, who is better to explain what He means than the author, Himself?

It’s Not Where It Is That Matters: It’s What It Says

How many people do you know that can quote chapter and verse from the Bible? In fact, can’t we all? Isn’t one of the basic training exercises for Bible study to remember a favorite quote or story, and where to find it?

If you read this blog regularly (and thank you, if you do!) you know that I rarely tell you where something is. That’s not because I don’t know, its because I believe two things:

1. Everyone needs to read the Bible, but the way it is taught is to tell you where the quote is from. Now why bother reading it, right? Telling you where to find it almost prevents you from looking for it, which keeps you away from the Bible. Making you look for it brings you closer to the Bible, and what God has for you in there won’t be found by someone else telling you what it says; and

2. It doesn’t matter where it says something in the Bible- what matters is that you know what God wants you to know.

Have you ever had a conversation with a Jehovah’s Witness? If you want to talk to someone who knows where nearly every word of the Bible can be found, that’s the person you want to go to. Unfortunately, the ones I have talked to (even before I knew God) have little or no understanding of what they are quoting. If you ask them about it, they will tell you another quote. If you question them, they will tell you another quote. But they don’t understand the meaning.

I don’t want to insult any JW’s out there, but this is my experience, as well as the experience of other people, knowledgeable of the Bible, who I have talked to about this.

The blood of bulls and sheep is not what God wants. He doesn’t want the circumcision of the flesh without the circumcision of the heart. Yeshua did not teach anything new; in fact, as you have read and heard me say many times, there is nothing new in the New Covenant writings. Yeshua interpreted the Word correctly, which is why it was so powerful. He didn’t tell us where God’s messages and commandments were found, He told us what they really mean. He went beyond just repeating what God says, and transformed our understanding.

Yeshua showed us that performance of God’s commandments is necessary, but living them is what we should be doing. In other words, don’t just repeat what is in the Bible but live it.

That’s all I want to say. I know I usually ramble on a little more, but what else is there, really, to say?

Live the Word of God. The Word became flesh so we can know God better, and so we can be with God in the Olam Haba (World to Come.) God has something in His Word just for you, but if you don’t look for it you will never find it. Seek, and you shall find, and what you find will change your life and the life of others.

You can make a change in people’s lives, as well as your own, but not by sitting still and listening- you need to get off your tuchas and DO something! Reading the Bible is an easy way to start, and the best way.

So go read something now!

No Statute of Limitations on God’s Commandments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Interpreting the Torah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Acid Test Question

I am going to “cheat” a little this morning and insert an excerpt from my book, “Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion.”  If you like this short sample, please don’t hesitate to use the links on the Home page and get the whole book. It’s an easy read, and (so far) I have gotten positive feedback. That means both people liked it.  🙂

 

One of the basic beliefs I hope that we all share is the hope of salvation, i.e., resurrection from the dead and eternity with God. This is essential to the acid test question of what to believe and how to act that I will be presenting throughout this book. That acid test question is this, “How does this affect my salvation?”

That’s it. That’s all that we really need to ask ourselves, isn’t it? If something we are told to believe or something we are told to do (or not to do) doesn’t make sense, we should check it out in the Bible and then ask God to help us decide how this thing affects our salvation.

   For instance, let’s take numerology. Personally, I think there are some valuable associations we can make. Such as 3 is representative of the Godhead, 4 is the Godhead and man, 7 is the number of completion, 40 is important, too, although I am not sure why, but it seems to be a regularly appearing number. 40 days for the flood, 40 days for Yeshua in the desert, 40 days spying out the Land, 40 years wandering in the desert (this one we do know because God told Moses the generation that refused to enter Canaan would spend one year wandering for every day they had spies in the Land).

   Anything much past a simple association concerns me because we start to look for things that may not be there. You know, they say, “Figures don’t lie but liars figure” and when I apply this to the many different numerological associations I have heard people make I come back to the acid test question, “How does this affect my salvation?” Will I be saved by knowing that a certain word adds up to the number 8, which is associated with a new beginning? Is knowing some deep, hidden meaning of a sentence that has been manipulated to show a number, that has an association to another sentence, that results in another number, that someone thinks means something, going to get me into heaven? I don’t think so, do you?

   As I will say over and over throughout this book, we need to see what God says. We always need to go right to the User Manual. With regards to Numerology, the Manual (Bible) tells us over and over that Salvation comes through faith, not through accountancy. So the answer is that number crunching the Bible may have some usefulness with better understanding some things, and may even be interesting, but it is not going to save us. It fails the acid test and we can move on to more eternal things.

 

I once was told that you can’t make an argument from nothing. This was when I was being instructed how to properly interpret the Torah, which also is an important lesson when formulating a Drash, or sermon. How many times have people told you about hidden meanings they see in the Bible? Or maybe how, as I state above, certain words have a numerical value (in Hebrew the letters also represent numbers) that has the same numerical value as another word which is a bad thing?

I was taught there are three levels of interpretation: the P’shat, or plain written word: what you see is what it means. The Drash, or underlying meaning: read between the lines. And the Sud, or a deeper, almost mystical meaning that only the Spirit can reveal: what you been smokin’, man? These three levels of interpretation are how we should look at the Word. My admonition about being careful is because if it isn’t there, it isn’t there. Too often people try to find meaning that they want to be there, and there is so much meaningful stuff in the Manual that we can pull a line here, and a line there, and make almost anything we want to seem true appear justified.

That’s why we need to use the Acid Test question over and over- is this really important to my salvation? Is it important to realize that when Abraham took Isaac to Mount Moriah to kill him, Isaac was probably in his thirties? If Isaac was a pre-teen, as many suppose, does that make what happened different? If the numerical value of the Tetragrammaton ends up being equal to something, will that allow me entry into God’s presence?

No. What does matter is that Abraham was faithful, and that faithfulness was credited to him as righteousness. Now that’s important! That will pass the Acid Test question because we need to understand and accept that by faith we are saved.

Keep listening, because there is nothing wrong with listening- that’s how we learn. But do so with more than your ears- use your brain, be skeptical, verify for yourself what you are told and let the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) guide you. And above all, don’t forget to give anything you hear the Acid Test.