Jesus is Not a Horse.

With a title like this, I can only imagine what you must be thinking.  Is this picture going through your mind right now?

 

    

 

And the next thing you must be thinking is: “Why would Steven even think such a thing?”

 

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Well, the answer is because I have seen, more than once, someone posting that when we pray to “Jesus” we are really praying to a horse because in Hebrew “Jesus” means “horse.”

Today, I am going to put to rest this ridiculous and absurd statement, which shows nothing more than a total lack of knowledge of the Hebrew language.

First of all, let’s review the type of words known as Homophones. A homophone is a word that sounds like another word but doesn’t have the same meaning. Some examples are:

blue and blew; you and ewe; brake and break; flour and flower,

and there are many, many more examples. As you can see, just because two words sound the same doesn’t mean that they mean the same thing.

The name “Jesus” is not a real name; in fact, it has a very strange etymology.

I know there will be different opinions on the etymology of the name “Jesus”, so I would ask that you who disagree with the one I am about to propose please do not comment and argue the validity of my usage here because it is not relevant to the topic. 

The Hebrew name given to the Messiah born of Joseph and Mary is Yeshua, which in Hebrew means (essentially) “the salvation of God.” When the Apostles wrote down their eye-witness accounts of the ministry and life of the Messiah, as well as the Epistles, written to the Messianic congregations throughout the Middle East and Asia, the language used was Greek. However, the Greek language had no male name that meant “the salvation of God”; in fact, not only was there no name that “Yeshua” could be translated into, but the Greek religion and culture had nothing in it that even came close to meaning “salvation of God.” Their gods didn’t do things like that. So, what they did was to create a transliteration, which is a word spelled so that it sounds like the word being translated; in effect, they created a homophone to sound like Yeshua.

That Greek homophone for “Yeshua” was”Jesu”, which is pronounced “hey-soo”. When the Greek was translated into Latin, Jesu became Jesus (Hey-soo to hey-soos.)

With me so far?

Next, we need to look at the Hebrew word for horse, which is סןס, pronounced “suse” In Hebrew, “the” is the letter Het (ה) placed in front of the word it identifies and is pronounced “hah”; therefore, in Hebrew “the horse” is pronounced “Hah-suse.”

Sounds like hey-soos, but isn’t hey-soos.

 

 

So there you have it! Those people who say praying to Jesus is really praying to a horse believe a homophone is a synonym, demonstrating such a total lack of knowledge of Hebrew that they, themselves, are a horse.

Or, more correctly, one specific part of a horse, and in case you don’t know which part, I will give you a hint: it’s the part that goes through the stable door last.

Normally I post things more spiritual in nature, and I suppose the spiritual aspect to today’s lesson in homophones and their misuse, is that we are all easily led astray to believe what seems easy to accept. In truth, sometimes that which sounds very “deep” and mystical is also something people desire to know. To “understand” a hidden message is to feel superior, which is how most humans like to feel. To think that we can say the name “Jesus “really means “a horse” might seem appealing, especially those who (I admit, like me) have always been uncomfortable with the name “Jesus”, but in truth, it is an insult to the Messiah and to God.

So be careful what you accept as truth from people: always check out what you hear, whether it sounds absolutely true or absolutely ridiculous because you never know what something really means until you find it out for yourself.

And what you believe, whether you have been fooled into believing it or not, is what God will hold you accountable for.

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I welcome comments and even arguments, so long as you are nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Salvation From Both a Jewish and Christian Perspective- Part 3

So far in this series, we have looked at the meaning of salvation, the Jewish expectations of the Messiah, and why Yeshua ha Maschiach (Jesus Christ) was and has been rejected by “mainstream” Judaism since his first appearance on earth.

Today we will delve into the Christian expectations of the Messiah, who is usually referred to as “Savior” and not “Messiah.”

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One major difference we should point out right at the start between Jewish and Christian expectation and knowledge of the Messiah: Jews were, and still are, waiting and looking forward to the coming of the Messiah; however, Christians never looked forward to his coming- he was already here before Christianity started. Christians have always known who their Savior is, whereas Jews have never known who their Messiah was going to be.

Christian expectation of Messiah is not really an expectation, but more like 20/20 hindsight because what they believe about their Savior is what they have already seen.

They know he was born in a miraculous manner, being of a virgin who was impregnated by God through the Holy Spirit.

They know that he died for their sins, but since most Christian teachings are from the New Covenant, instead of referencing the Tanakh, they look to the Gospels and Epistles for the justification of their beliefs. So, instead of using Isaiah 53 to understand the sacrifice of the Messiah, they refer to 1st Corinthians 15:3. More specifically, within Catholicism, they quote John 20:21-23 not only to state that forgiveness of sin can only come through belief in Jesus but also that Jesus gave men the power to forgive sins through the priesthood. To further confirm forgiveness is only available through Jesus, Christianity references Ephesians 1:7 and Corinthians 5:17.

According to Ephesians 3:19 the Savior is all about love and complete acceptance, which lends itself to another Christian belief, which is that there is no need for the Torah or the laws God gave to Moses.

In my opinion, one of the most anti-Semitic teachings within Christianity is that Jesus did away with the “law” (the Torah) and that the “Jewish Bible” is just for Jews and doesn’t really have any meaning to Christians. It is still scripture, but they concentrate almost exclusively on the New Covenant writings.

Whereas Christians have been taught that the Jewish laws are not valid for them, one sect of Christianity takes it to the extreme. Their belief system is called Replacement Theology. This is the most virulent anti-Semitic sect of Christianity because they believe since the Jews rejected Jesus as their Savior, God has rejected the Jews as his chosen people! Christians (specifically “Born-Again” Christians) are now God’s “real” chosen people, the “Israel of God” that Shaul talks about at the very end of Galatians.

Most Christians haven’t gone this far and have been taught that the Law is really split into two types of law: Moral and Ceremonial. The moral laws are still valid for Christians, but the ceremonial laws are not. For instance, the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) are ceremonial so only Jews have to follow them, whereas murder and adultery are moral laws and they are still valid and must be followed. This belief system is justified by Matthew 5:17. This is where Yeshua said he came to fulfill the law, which has been interpreted to mean the (Mosaic) law was completed in him and therefore is no longer necessary to be followed. It is also confirmed by the teaching that when Shaul (Paul) says that our sins were “nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:14), that meant the law was also nailed to the cross, i.e. done away with.

This is the same as saying if the car ahead of me makes a complete stop at the stop sign, thereby fulfilling the law for stop signs, then I can just go right through it. Or, if I live my entire life without murdering anyone, then murdering someone will be acceptable and not a sin when I die because I had fulfilled that law. Ain’t that da silliest thing you evah hoid?

Let’s get serious again…Christians believe that Jesus was resurrected and returned to his father in heaven, and will return to destroy the Antichrist and rule over all the earth, forever. And when this day finally arrives, Christians (and many Jews, as well) believe that they will be lifted up and live eternally in heaven.

As we can see, there is a very significant difference between Jewish and Christian understanding of who the Messiah is and what to expect from him when he arrives. How this vast chasm of belief in the same personage came about is what we will examine now.

As far as Jews are concerned, the advent of the Messiah’s coming has always been seen as a national event. He is not here for you or for me, but for Israel…for all Jews, everywhere. Christians see the relationship with their Savior as an individual and singular event: the Savior is here for me and you have to have your own relationship with him. This is a major difference in expectation: the Jewish Messiah’s relationship is with the entire nation of Israel, but the Christian Savior has a personal relationship just with me.

Judaism expects that the changes the Messiah will make will occur at or before his actual coming, and when he is here they will all come to completion. Christians believe that after someone accepts him as their Savior, then there will be some changes that happen (such as indwelling of the Holy Spirit) but most changes in the world won’t happen until his second coming.

Finally, Jews believe that Yeshua did not fulfill or meet the prophecies about the Messiah and Christians believe he met almost all of them, and the ones that he did not fulfill will be fulfilled with his second coming.

This ends our third segment in this series of teachings. In our next lesson, we will review the origins of these vastly different expectations and learn how they developed.

If you like what we have covered so far please “share me out”, and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE so you will be notified when the next lesson is posted. Thank you for being here and I welcome any comments you may have, and remember to please always be nice.

Until then, l’hetraot and Baruch HaShem!

What Religions and Lying Have in Common

This is a simple post today, no video- just plain, old common sense backed up by the Bible.

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So, religion and lying: what they have in common is that both are designed to control others. 

Most people think that telling a lie is the way we avoid the truth. But it is a little deeper than that-  it is really a means of control designed to convince someone that there is a different truth than what they believe. As an example, I didn’t get a project I was supposed to complete done on time. You believe I am responsible, which is the truth but I tell you a lie: I say that a member of the team was late with their part and that prevented me from getting it done on time. If you believe me then I have, in effect, controlled you by changing what you believe to be the truth. I have made you believe a different “truth” than the real truth. 

Religions do the same thing. The truth is what God gave us, which is found in the Tanakh (the Old Covenant.) The Gospels confirm the laws of the Torah because that is what Yeshua taught his Disciples, and what they later taught the Gentiles who accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and were (thereby) converting to Judaism. 

Remember: Yeshua was and is Jewish, lived a Jewish lifestyle and those who followed him, by definition had to live a Jewish lifestyle, too. 

Where religion has tried to control people and give them a new belief system is in how leaders of different religions twist the truth of the Tanakh and the New Covenant (in Hebrew, B’rit Chasdasha) to make people believe what the leaders want them to believe.

For instance, in Judaism there are many additional rituals that are Rabbinic, i.e. found in the Talmud, which are not directly from God. Although I do not universally condemn these traditions, they do exercise a level of control over the Jewish people who are told they must conform to these activities to be “correct.”  God never required these, so to say we must follow them is to tell a lie and exercise a form of control. 

Christianity has, for the most part, totally ignored the Torah and misinterpreted much in the B’rit Chadasha to change the form of worship from what God commanded. For instance, they kept a “7th day Sabbath” but changed it from the way it had been celebrated; it should be from Friday eve to Saturday eve but they changed it to Sunday during the day only.

Another example of controlling lies within Christianity is how it has used Kefa’s (Peter) vision of the sheet in Acts 10 to do away with the Kosher laws by saying the vision meant all food is OK to eat. The truth is that his vision had nothing to do with food and was about allowing Kefa to bring salvation to the Gentiles, but I suppose the Christian leadership desired to eat pork rinds. 

One major aspect of lying that religion has in common is this: when you tell a lie, you have to keep expanding that lie. This is because there are always “loose ends” within a lie; you need to expand the lie as more people hear it and start to question the truth of it. As the old saying goes, “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” 

To me, this means if a religion is lying it will eventually need to “expand” itself, which will result in having to separate into different sects.

Within Judaism, there are 6 different sects: Chasidic, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Messianic (although the other sects won’t recognize Messianic Jews as being Jewish- another lie  that religion has created to control people.) And within the Chasidim, we can probably list the Lubavitcher, also called Chabad, as a sub-sect. 

As for all the different sects and forms of Christianity, there isn’t enough server space for me to list them all. 

If we accept that a lie grows and grows, then all these religions that are supposed to stem from what God told Moses must be some form of a lie, right?  Now if you say what God told Moses is only for Jews, then you refute what Yeshua (Jesus) taught because the Apostle John called Yeshua the Living Torah- the Word that became flesh. If Yeshua is the Living Torah, then how could he teach anything that was against himself? 

So now that I have debunked, insulted and berated all of the Judeo-Christian religions, what is left for us? Simple- what is left is what God told us to do, what Yeshua told us to do, what Micah told us to do, what The Rambam (Maimonides) told us to do, what Shaul (Paul) told us to do, which is….to love God and to love each other.

God gave the Torah to the Jewish people to bring to the world:
(Exodus 19:6- “And unto Me you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to speak to the Israelites.”

The commandments found in the Torah are what Yeshua confirmed in all his teachings. Accept that the Old and New Covenants are one Bible, one story, one narrative of the plan of salvation God has for his creation and accept that the “New” did not override or do away with the “Old”- it added to it. The covenants that God has made with us are not exclusive, they are cumulative.

The world was meant to obey the Torah, which I can prove by pointing out that God said not to add to or take away from the Torah:
(Deuteronomy 4:2-“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”

The Messiah was sent to the world to bring us all back to God, back to repentant obedience and to lead us into salvation. We are not to change anything God said, and anything that does change it is not from God but from Man. God gave us his rules for how to worship him and how to treat each other; men created religion in order to control people. 

What God gave us is the truth and what religion gives us is a lie. The challenge for each of us is to determine which is which.  

That which is from God is “Truth”, and that which is from Man is “Religion.”

Yeshua and the Adulteress: A Prospective.

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Chapter 8 (verses 1-11) of the Gospel of John tells the story of the Pharisees and Torah teachers bringing a woman accused of having been caught in an adulteress affair to Yeshua. They were trying to trap Yeshua in a way that they could bring charges against him. Yeshua wrote in the sand, asked the one without sin to throw the first stone, wrote in the sand some more and all the accusers left. The woman was then able to leave.

I have heard some people use this story as a means to show that Yeshua is more about love than about obeying the Torah, and repeat that old, worn-out analogy of the hateful and violent God of the Old Covenant vs. the loving and forgiving Messiah of the New Covenant. 

Well, that’s not what we are going to discuss today. Today I want to talk about the unanswered question…what did Yeshua write in the sand? 

I think I know! 

Let’s start with some assumptions that are pretty safe to say:

  1. Yeshua probably knew they were trying to trap him;
  2. There was something fishy from the start because there was no man brought with the woman. If she was “caught in the act” there had to be someone else there, right?  

So here we are: all the people Yeshua was teaching are standing around and the woman is in the center of the crowd.  The Pharisees ask Yeshua what is to be done with her, and he starts to write in the sand, then says that the one without sin should throw the first stone. So, what might he have written?

I think he wrote from Exodus 20:19, the Ninth Commandment: 

“Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.”

After this, he stated whoever is without sin throw the first stone. I think he knew that throwing the stone would absolutely convict the thrower of a sin because these were Torah experts, and the Torah demands that a trial must be held first. Anyone who threw a stone would be violating the Torah. 

After this, he wrote again in the sand, and this time everyone started to leave until no one was left but the woman and Yeshua. This second time I think he wrote from Deuteronomy 19:16-20, which says:

“If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, then both men in the controversy shall stand before God, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days.  And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.”

If the reminder from the Torah about not giving false evidence, i.e. bearing false witness didn’t scare them off, then this one certainly would have made them think twice. And because it says “brother” that law would obviously hold true for “sister”, as well. 

I believe the woman was falsely accused from the start, and Yeshua was aware of this. I don’t have anything to go on but speculation, based on the fact that there was no man brought with her, and that we know from reading the Gospels that the Pharisees were not above using false witnesses to achieve their goals. And, even if she was an adulteress, this was not the proper setting for a trial and Yeshua was not in a position of authority with the right to judge her according to the Torah. 

One last thing that is important to remember: Yeshua never forgave her of the sin she was accused of. He simply obeyed the Torah, which says that there must be two or three witnesses when there is a capital crime committed (Deuteronomy 19:15.) Yeshua asked her where her accusers were, and she said there was no one; in accordance with the Torah, Yeshua said he would not accuse her, either. 

And when he told her to go, he said, “…and sin no more.” Maybe this was because Yeshua knew she was a sinner (aren’t we all?), maybe there never really was an affair, maybe there was an affair but she was seduced into the crime to setup Yeshua this way, in which case it makes sense they would catch and hold her and let the man go. Who knows? That could make an interesting Drash some other day, but today all I am talking about is what he wrote in the sand to make everyone go away. 

If Yeshua wrote the things in the sand that I have postulated here, then the entire story makes sense.

What do you think he wrote? 

Parashot Mattot / Massai 2018 (Tribes / Stages) Numbers 30:2 – 36

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These parashot (the Hebrew plural for parashah) cover a number of different issues. We start with the making of vows by women, and how those vows are either allowed to stand or are nullified by the dominant male in the family, be that the father of a single woman or girl living under his roof or a husband.

Moshe is commanded to have Israel attack Midian before he dies, and 12,000 Israelites attack and kill thousands upon thousands of Midianite men, the 5 kings, and Balaam. Afterward, it is found that not one Israelite died in the battle from which hundreds of thousands of animals and people were captured. The booty was then shared among all the people, with a tithing made to the Levites and to God.

The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh ask Moses if they can remain on the east side of the Jordan River because the land is perfect for cattle, and they are cattlemen. Moses is at first upset that they refuse to enter the land, but after they agree to help the other tribes settle the land before they settle down on the east side, Moses acquiesces and allows them to stay in that land.

The second parashah contains God’s commands for the distribution of the land among the 12 tribes. The leaders of each tribe, the boundaries for each tribe, the commandment to give land to the Levites and the rules regarding the Cities of Refuge are specified here.

Finally, the daughters of Zelophehad are brought before Moses with the concern that if they marry outside their tribe the tribal property they inherit will be forfeited. It is commanded that they marry inside their tribe and that no tribe should marry outside so that the lands inherited by a tribe remain always with that tribe.

As I was reading through these Torah portions one word kept coming to mind: accountability.

The father and the husband are responsible to either let the woman’s vow stand or be nullified. Their responsibility is not without accountability: if they do not nullify the vow the moment they hear it, but decide later to nullify it, then the sin of breaking a vow is on their head, not the one who made it. They are responsible to allow or deny the vow, and with that responsibility comes accountability for failing to act correctly.

When the Israelites returned from the war against Midian, they had captured women that were not virgins. Moses was very upset that these women who led the people into sin at Pe’or were not killed. But he was upset with the leaders, the captains of hundreds and thousands, and not with the soldiers. It was the leadership which was held accountable for the actions of those whom they were responsible for.

When Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh asked to stay on the east side of the Jordan River, Moses held them accountable to ensure that the other tribes received their inheritance first.

Finally, when the land was divided among the 12 Tribes, each tribe was accountable to provide a portion of their land to the Levites, some of which would be assigned as a City of Refuge.

We are given many wonderful things by God: physically, financially and (most important) spiritually. And for all that we receive, we are also held accountable to use it properly and in accordance with God’s commandments. Too many churches have preached a “Once Saved, Always Saved” program of salvation, which creates a lack of accountability. If I can ask forgiveness one time, then never have to ask forgiveness again because once I am saved I will automatically be saved, then how can I feel accountable for the sins I commit later? And if I don’t have accountability, then how can I feel repentance? What I am saying is this: if I am automatically forgiven for any sin I commit for the rest of my life, then I stop asking for forgiveness. That leads to my not feeling concerned or upset when I sin, and that has to prevent me from feeling repentance in my heart. Does anyone who is reading this really believe that an unrepentant sinner will be allowed into God’s presence?

Of course not! We are saved when we ask for forgiveness in Yeshua’s name, but we are not automatically forgiven every sin we commit from that point on. When we are forgiven our sins (which are the ones we have collected to that point), they are what is “nailed to the Cross” that Shaul refers to in Colossians 2:13-14:

When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Messiah. He forgave us all our trespasses, having canceled the debt ascribed to us in the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the execution stake! 

This passage is very often misunderstood to mean that the requirement to obey Torah was done away with when Yeshua was crucified. That is a lie from the very pit of Sheol. God wants us to act in a godly way- how many times throughout the Tanakh does God tell us that we should “Be thou holy as I am holy?” If we do not act in a holy way, how can we be holy? And if we do not have rules, ordinances, and mitzvot (laws)  to follow, then how can we know what is holy and what is not? That is why Shaul tells us (in Romans, Chapter 7) that the Torah created sin: the Torah tells us what is right and what is wrong.

Salvation is the gift of God which we can now only receive through the sacrificial death of Yeshua the Messiah. When the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, because the Torah commanded the sin sacrifice must be done at that temple, we had no path to salvation. Yeshua replaced the step in the sacrificial system that required bringing a sacrifice to the Temple, and that is why through him we can receive forgiveness.

BUT– that doesn’t mean we aren’t still held accountable for what we say and do every day for the rest of our life. We must still be holy as God is holy, and the only way to do that is to obey the Torah. God gave the Torah to the Jews to bring to the world because it is the ultimate User Manual for attaining holiness.

As you life your life, remember that we are always held accountable: our bosses hold us accountable to produce our work as they want it to be done; our spouses hold us accountable to our vows to love, cherish, honor and remain loyal to each other; and God holds us accountable to obey his commandments and repent of our sins every single time we sin. Salvation saves us from the eternal consequences of our sins, but it doesn’t relieve us of accountability for what we do and say.

With these last two parashot we come to the end of the Book of Numbers, and at the end of each book of the Torah tradition says we repeat the following:

Hazak! Hazak! v’nit’chazek! 

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

 

Parashah Pinchas 2018 (Pinchas) Numbers 25:10 – 30:1

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We left the last parashah with Phinehas (Pinchas) killing the Israelite man and Midianite woman to stop the plague. Now God makes a covenant that the lineage of Pinchas will be the High priests forever because of his jealousy for God. God commands Moses to go to war with Midian but first, a new census is taken because the prior generation has died in the desert.  No further mention of the war is given at this point but we return to it in Chapter 31.

The daughters of the Zelophead (who had no sons) request an inheritance and God makes a new statute which identifies the Order of Inheritance regarding family inheritance of land in Israel.

God tells Moses his time has come so Moses asks God to place someone in charge of the people, and God chooses Joshua.

This parashah ends with God having Moses remind the people of the requirements for the offerings that were to be made daily, as well as the festivals that he first told us to honor in Leviticus.

Moses is told he is going to die and his first thought is of the people he has led for the past 40 years. He isn’t concerned about how will he die, will it hurt, will he be taken up into God’s bosom- no thoughts for himself and total concern for those that he will leave behind. This action on Moses’ part shows us the type of person he was: thoughtful, concerned for others, humble even unto death (sound familiar?) and obedient.

Today what I would like to talk about is why God is having Moses repeat the offering instructions to the people before he dies. When I read this I had to ask myself, “Why? Why is God having Moses remind the people about something that they already have been told and have written down for them?”  The answer seems to be because God knew that these offerings were a central part of the daily life of the Children of Israel and, as such, must be followed. They are so important they bear repeating.

Again, why? Because without those daily activities of worship and annual celebrations of the Lord the people would easily fall into corruption. And we see that happening throughout the remainder of the Tanakh: when the leadership fails to enforce the daily offerings and festivals, the people fall into sin and worship the gods of their neighbors.

It is like the old adage: good habits are hard to develop and easy to lose, whereas bad habits are easy to develop and hard to lose.

We need to remember to pray daily, to worship the festivals God gave and when we celebrate holidays (not to be confused with Holy Days: the former are man-made and the latter are God commanded) we should celebrate only those that still honor God and do not replace the festivals he gave us in Leviticus, which are repeated here in this parashah. Only by repetitive worship can we maintain our faith and the strength of that faith, especially in light of our leader’s sinfulness and distracting activities.

When I say “repetitive” I do not mean to repeat prayers and perform actions robotically: what I mean is that we need to develop a regular prayer life and to remember the festivals God told us to celebrate. The ones he reminds us of in this parashah are the daily offerings, Shabbat and new moon, New Year, Day of Atonement and the pilgrimage festivals. Daily, monthly and annually we perform these rites and celebrate these festivals so that worship becomes a regular part of our lives. Every time throughout history that this cycle of worship was broken, the people fell into corruption.

What is your personal worship cycle? Do you pray every day? Do you honor the Lord by celebrating his festivals as he said you should? Too many people (both Christians and Jews) do not honor the Lord by celebrating the festivals as instructed. God isn’t very pleased with a half-way attitude when it comes to our worship of him. Another thing I have noticed: when you pray, who are you praying to? Is it to God or is it to Jesus? Jesus isn’t the answerer of our prayers- he is the intercessor. There is a big difference between intercession of prayer and interception of prayer.

The take-away for today is that we all need to develop a regular cycle of worship: daily and continual prayer, festival celebration as God said to (excepting for the sacrifices, of course) and constant reading of the Bible to remind us of who we are worshiping. Look at your life with spiritual eyes and see all that God has done, and is doing for you, and above all be appreciative for whatever you have. It may be great or it may be small, but if you have anything then thank God for it. He will hear and, knowing what you need, provide what is best for you.

Sometimes it is very hard for us to believe God is working for good in our lives, and that is what faith is all about- steadfastly believing God loves you and wants only the best for you when your life at that moment makes it impossible to believe. These are the times when the cycle of worship we have been talking about today helps us maintain our faith.

 

What Did Jesus Really Nail to the Cross?

 

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One of the things I have heard often is the statement that when Jesus was nailed to the cross, the law was nailed to it with him.

This is similar to the statement that because Jesus fulfilled the law, it has been done away with.

These statements are both based on what Shaul (Paul) said in Colossians and what Yeshua said in Matthew, respectively. Both of these statements are also uniformly and completely incorrect.

Today I am only dealing with the statement Shaul made, so let’s actually see what Shaul said was nailed to the cross in Colossians 2:13-14 (from The Complete Jewish Bible):

You were dead because of your sins, that is, because of your “foreskin,’ your old nature. But God made you alive along with the Messiah by forgiving you all your sins. He wiped away the bill of charges against us. Because of the regulations, it stood as a testimony against us; but he removed it by nailing it to the execution-stake. 

Before we discuss what was nailed, we need to first understand the context in which this letter was written. It was written to reinforce the message of the Good News that was first brought to the Colossians by Epaphras. This letter is written by Shaul to Gentile Believers in order to remind them how their faith in Yeshua has saved them from their previous sinful lifestyle, which condemned them to death. Throughout the letter he reminds them of the Good News message that salvation comes through continued faith in Yeshua and continued worship of God. Shaul was, essentially, giving them a pep talk to help them stay the course of faithfully following Torah, believing in God and Yeshua. I believe that all his letters have, in one way or another, a reminder that a legalistic observance of Torah as the means of earning salvation will never work, but faith in Yeshua (while still obeying Torah) is how we are able to overcome our sinful nature and be saved.

Now that we know what the context of this letter is about, we can see that when Shaul was talking about the “bill of charges against us” he meant the sins they had committed. When he says “Because of the regulations” he meant to identify the Torah and God’s commandments; this is also seen in the letter Shaul wrote to the Roman Believers where he stated that the Torah created sin, he meant that because the Torah tells us right from wrong it identifies what is sinful. And in this letter when Shaul refers to the “regulations” that create the bill of charges (or sometimes called “trespasses” in other bibles) against us he is talking about the Torah.

Now for the really important part- what was (and is) being nailed to the execution-stake? It is only the bill of charges; it is our trespasses; it is those specific sins we each have against us. It was (and is) NOT the Torah; it was (and is) not the Law; it was (and is) not anything other than the list of existing sins that stand between those people and God. When we confess our sins, repent and ask forgiveness in Yeshua’s name, those sins- and ONLY those specific, already committed sins- are what get “nailed to the tree.”

In other words, the sins we have already committed are the only things “nailed to the cross.” Nothing else is nailed, especially not sins we commit after those sins were wiped clean.

When we first confirmed our belief in Yeshua, confessed and repented of our sins asking forgiveness in his name, we received that forgiveness. Those existing sins that were listed against us, and only those sins, were nailed to a tree.  Everything that happens after that is still valid and against us until we again confess, repent and ask forgiveness in Yeshua’s name. Then that list is “nailed to a tree.”

There are a lot of trees out there with a lot of paper nailed to them.

Yeshua was nailed to an execution-stake once, and that was all that was needed. His death doesn’t save us- it is because of his resurrection that we can find forgiveness through his sacrifice. His resurrection proved that his sacrifice was accepted. As such, each time we sin we need to ask forgiveness because the sins we commit from one forgiveness to another are going to be held against us unless and until we repent.

The only thing that was “nailed to the cross” was the existing list of sins. There has never been a person who didn’t sin after being forgiven; we all are sinners who always will sin. As I often say, we can never be sinless but we can always sin less.  And when we sin, we must repent of that sin and ask forgiveness through Yeshua’s sacrifice.

The Torah is still valid and the regulations, mitzvot (laws) and instructions regarding the festivals are all still required for any and all people who confess that they worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

What we really need to nail to the cross are the wrongful teachings.

Did Yeshua (Jesus) Ever Sin?

(Too dressed-down to do a video today. )

I present this drash today only as something interesting to think about.

Did Yeshua ever sin? The answer has to be a very loud, “NO!! He was the sinless lamb of God; he was in perfect obedience to the Torah his whole life; he couldn’t have sinned. Ever. NO! NO! NO!

But, still and all, if he had once or twice committed a sin couldn’t he still have died a sinless lamb of God?

Let’s look at what God says about his forgiveness of sin:

“…on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the Lord, you will be clean from all your sins.” – Leviticus 16:30

“…as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” – Psalm 103:8-12

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. – Isaiah 1:18

“In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction; you have put all my sins behind your back.” – Isaiah 38:17

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”   – Jeremiah 31:34

“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. – Micah 7:18-19

These passages show us that once God forgives a sin it is as if that sin never happened. There are many other bible passages that prove this; I didn’t quote any New Covenant passages because everything in the New Covenant is just quoting or paraphrasing what is already said in the Old Covenant.

Now let’s go back to my original question: Did Yeshua ever sin? The bible doesn’t give us any information on this but it does tell us that he underwent B’rit Milah (Circumcision) and that he was in Jerusalem for the festivals, as required by the Torah. We know that he observed all the laws and commandments in the Torah, so if he did sin we can be certain that he would have obeyed the Torah and presented a sin sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem. So if this ever did happen, what then?

According to what God says, if Yeshua had sinned and went through the process of sacrificing an animal to have his sin forgiven then he would be as clean as if he had never sinned. He would be a sinless lamb of God.

Otherwise God would have lied when he told us that when he forgives a sin it is as if it never happened. We could never be “as white as snow” and our sins would never be “put behind” his back. All that we were told about forgiveness would be a lie.

Personally, I don’t believe God lied about his forgiveness and I don’t believe Yeshua ever committed a sin. But I am open to the idea that he might have. After all, doesn’t Isaiah 53 tell us:

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

With all that going on in his life, who is to say he didn’t have a lapse of righteousness now and then and maybe did something wrong?  If he had sacrificed then wouldn’t that sin be gone? Wouldn’t he again be sinless and clean before the Lord? An acceptable sacrifice?

My contention is that he would still have been the sinless lamb of God even if he had sinned, so long as he made the proper sacrifice at the Temple before he was crucified. I say this based on God’s promise that when he forgives a sin it is as if it never happened. And I will go one step further: if Yeshua had sinned and had been forgiven under the sacrificial system, he was (and is) the only human who could have continued to be sinless after that. We can be forgiven our sin, but we will sin again. Thank God (and Yeshua) that when Yeshua replaced the sacrifice at the Temple with his personal sacrifice, we can be forgiven every sin we commit and repent of for the rest of our life.

I feel so sad for those who do not accept Yeshua and, because the Temple no longer exists cannot be forgiven of their sins.

 

There is No Gray in God’s Color Wheel

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

Lately I have been partaking in different discussions regarding God and suffering. Today’s message came to me a few weeks ago but I couldn’t get to it until today. God has been giving me some really good stuff to discuss lately.

Before we start today’s drash, let’s first set some ground rules:

  1. God is absolutely binomial. He knows what is good and he knows what is bad, and there isn’t anything in between from his perspective;
  2. God is not just willing to, but actually desires to forgive our sins (Ezekiel 18:23);
  3. God is understanding, patient and compassionate. Even when he punishes he does so with mercy (up to a point);
  4. God has made rules and he sticks by them. If he says “Don’t do that or else this will happen” you can be sure when you do that, what he said would happen will happen, sooner or later.

When we talk about God’s loving kindness we are talking about his desire for us to be better and to stop sinning so we can have eternal life. We are also talking about his willingness to be patient before he really lowers the boom. And despite how much he loves us, we must remember the fact that the one thing God will not do is act as we would expect another human being to act.

Humans make excuses for everything: we excuse ourselves when we mess up, we excuse others when they mess up (if it doesn’t make us look bad) and we excuse our children for their impolite actions and irresponsibility. We know there is good and bad, but to help remove our own accountability and responsibility for what we do and say we allow for a lot of “gray” in between the black and white of right and wrong.

“I didn’t lie, I fibbed.”

“I didn’t steal, I found that.”

“It wasn’t my fault- someone else didn’t do what they were supposed to do (even though I was in charge.)”

All lame and childish excuses; people will too often say whatever they need to say in order to land somewhere in that “gray” area of not right but not really that wrong.

Not so with God. God knows the heart and in your heart you cannot be gray: you are either repentant or you’re not. You are either willing to take responsibility for your sins or you’re not. You are either desiring to be righteous or you’re not.

And for those that are desiring the righteous path but are having trouble, God is merciful, patient and willing to forgive. So long as you are really trying. If you are saying you want to be righteous, but continually mess up and make excuses, God isn’t going to fall for it. He isn’t stupid, you know- he knows what you really mean, even if you don’t.

I have said it before and will say it again… people don’t mean what they say: they mean what they do.

So make sure that your heart is in the right place and that you take accountability for your words and actions. I like to pray as King David did in Psalm 19:14:

 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

If we do wrong and continue to do wrong on purpose, all the curses God promised will come upon us (Deut. 28) will come upon us. God must keep his word regarding punishment for wrongdoing because if we cannot trust in God to punish the wicked as he said he will, we cannot trust in God to provide salvation as he said he will.

I am thankful for God’s binomial attitude- yes or no, good or bad, right or wrong, black or white- nothing in between, no gray areas to fall within. I am also grateful for God’s wisdom and patience, so that when I am on the wrong side of righteousness, he is willing to give me time to get my head back on straight and will forgive me when I come to him repentant and humbled.

That’s the ticket, Folks! Repentant, humble and asking forgiveness with the proper heart-attitude of wanting to do better.

As I often say, we can never be sinless but we can always sin less. Having that as your goal and living with the words of David in Psalm 19 is the attitude that will always be OK in God’s sight.

Who Really Made Christianity a New Religion?

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

 

Being raised on Long Island as a Reform Jew I was always told that Jesus was a Jew who betrayed his Jewish roots and created Christianity, a totally separate religion which has historically hated and persecuted the Jewish people. Consequently, no real Jew believes in Jesus; in fact, if you believe in Jesus you can’t be a Jew anymore!

I spent 2/3 of my life believing this; fortunately, I have learned the truth about Christianity, who Jesus really was and what he really taught. And through that study and the guiding of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) I have come to accept that Yeshua (Jesus’s real name) was a Jew, still is a Jew, and taught from the Torah. He did not create a new and separate religion at all.

As I studied the New Covenant writings, especially the Epistles of Shaul (Paul) I began to understand that he did not convert to Christianity or write against the Torah and Judaism (as most Christian teachings profess), but remained a Jew and always confirmed the importance of following the Torah. The problem with reading Shaul’s writings is that one has to get into the right “mindset” to understand what Shaul was saying, as well as be trained in biblical exegesis. Shaul wrote to Gentiles that were first learning how to be Jews; there wasn’t anything else to be at that time. You were either a Jew or a Pagan. The early churches he set up weren’t churches at all; at least, not as we understand what a church is today. The first time they were called a “church” was in the early 1600’s, when King James decided to call them that, despite the fact that his bible experts disagreed.  In my opinion, the organizations that Shaul created as he preached the Gospels would be more accurately called “Kehillot“, the plural of the Hebrew word Kehillah which means “community organizations.”  So although Shaul’s preaching has been confused and misinterpreted probably ever since he wrote the first letter, he did not create Christianity as a separate religion.

I finally came to understand that the Christian Canon of today was developed mainly by Constantine at the Council of Nicene in the 3rd Century. The rules and separation of Christian worship from it’s beginnings in Judaic worship was confirmed and finalized, so to speak, by what Constantine did. Therefore, I (and many others I know) have been accusing Constantine of being the real creator of Christianity as a separate religion from Judaism.

I have been wrong.

Constantine definitely is the creator of Christian Canon that all of the modern Christian religions are based on, but he was not the first one to identify Christianity as a religion separate and unique from Judaism. It wasn’t Ignatius of Antioch, either, although he certainly did what he could to separate it (he changed the Sabbath to Sunday and also stated that one cannot have Judaism and Christianity together.) And it wasn’t first declared separate and unique by any of the other early “church” fathers.

Sherman, warm up the WABAC Machine and let’s go back before Yeshua and just after the Maccabees revolt against Antiochus IV Epiphanes, which is the story of Hanukkah.”

 

After that last Seleucid king was defeated, there was still political upheaval in Judea and the Judeans invited the Hasmoneans to mediate, eventually leading to Roman rule over Judea. However, because the Romans were “invited” in they allowed the Jews to continue to worship in accordance to their religion. This was very unique, since almost every Roman-conquered city or province was forced to worship as Rome did. Under normal conditions, it was illegal for any Roman ruled people to have their own religion (this is important to remember.)

Now we come to the point where the power elite Judeans, who rejected Yeshua as Messiah, needed to get Pontius Pilate to convict Yeshua. So what did they say? They first accused him of blasphemy, but Pilate said that was an internal religious issue and not a legal one. They next accused him of stirring up the people and telling them not to pay taxes, making him an enemy of the Emperor. Pilate didn’t fall for that one, either. Their final accusation was that Yeshua was a King, which he admitted to being but said his kingdom was not of this world, so Pilate had no legal reason to find him guilty of treason. In truth, they couldn’t get Pilate to find Yeshua guilty of anything. They had the same problem with Shaul when they brought him before the Roman rulers of whatever province he was preaching in. But then later, the Jews in the provinces around Judea who wanted to stop the Apostles from preaching about Yeshua found the one argument they could use that got the Romans to take action: they accused the Apostles of creating a new religion! This was against Roman law. The Jewish religion was tolerated by Rome but this new “Way” was denounced as a separate religion from Judaism so Rome had to take action. By the 2nd Century, both Jews and Christians were being persecuted, but for different reasons: Jewish persecution was for political reasons (they were rebelling against Roman rule) and Christian persecution was for religious reasons (practicing a religion that wasn’t approved by Rome.)

So, who really created Christianity as a separate religion? It was the Jewish power elite of the First Century!  We created our own “Frankenstein’s Monster” which turned against us and since then caused us harm and suffering. This was a real surprise to me: imagine…it was us! Jews are the reason that Christianity has become a separate religion from its Jewish roots. Who wuddah tought it?

If the Jewish elite had only ignored the Jews and Gentiles that accepted Yeshua as Messiah, then who knows what might have happened?  But, of course, that didn’t happen and maybe it was, in the long run, for the best. After all, didn’t Shaul write to the Kihillot in Rome (Romans 11:11):

“Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.”

This shows that God’s plan of salvation for the Gentiles could only come through the Jews and eventually we will all be one in Messiah.

Now, for those of you out there who love to take a word or sentence out of context and go off in all sorts of tangential arguments that have nothing to do with the point of the message, let me address the fact that when I say “the Jews” I am not using it as a universally descriptive term but a reference to the power elite of the Judean political system at that time. And let me also say the Jews aren’t the only ones responsible: Ignatius, Constantine and nearly every Pope and Christian leader since the 2nd Century has contributed to making Christianity a separate and different religion. Christianity has become a separate and unique religion from Judaism as the result of the work of many people over many years.

My message today is that Christianity as a separate religion wasn’t proposed or initiated by Yeshua or any of his early followers- it came about as a result of the accusation from the non-Believing Jewish power elite in order to give Rome legal justification to persecute those people who accepted Yeshua as the Messiah.

So Yeshua didn’t create a new religion. Neither did the Apostles or Shaul or Constantine- the ones who first identified Christianity as a new religion were the Jews of the First Century!