Religion is the True Parochet

The parochet, for those who aren’t familiar with the Hebrew word, is the curtain that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Tent of Meeting Moses had built in the desert, in accordance with the instructions God gave him.

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According to the Talmud, it is a sign of respect for the Torah scrolls kept inside the aron kodesh, the holy ark.

In the Tanakh (Exodus 40) we are told that after placing the tablets God gave Moses into the Ark, the curtain was placed between the Ark and the rest of the area.

In essence, the parochet is a type of barrier between God and the people.

When Yeshua gave up his spirit, which was the means for us to receive forgiveness of sins and, thereby, come closer to God, the parochet in Solomon’s temple was torn, from top to bottom, representing that now there was no barrier between us and God.

When the parochet was torn after Yeshua’s death, the Cohanim replaced it, but not too long after that a new parochet was created. This wasn’t one with blue and purple yarn, and it wasn’t one we could see or feel or smell, but it became a barrier between the people and God that is more difficult to pass through than any cloth curtain ever was.

This newer parochet, this invisible and impassable parochet, this impenetrable barrier between God and people is called…religion.

As I have said over and over, God has no religion. God gave instructions to Moses that were to be passed along and taught to the world. These instructions teach us how to worship God as he wants us to worship Him, and also how to treat each other as God wants us to treat each other. They are found in the Torah and we were specifically told that they are to be valid throughout our generations.

That means forever.

Religion, on the other hand, is the creation of mankind and its sole purpose is for people to have power over other people.

Every Judeo-Christian religious sect or denomination professes to worship the one, true God, whose name is spelled Y-H-V-H. And all these different religions agree that he is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow, never changing.

Yet, they all have different ways to worship him and different ways of following his instructions.

The one thing that all religions have in common is that they have developed their own rules, doctrines, laws, traditions, and rituals, most of which have no basis or requirement by God in his Torah, and many of which actually ignore God’s instructions in the Torah.

And what justification do they give for ignoring what God said to do? They blame it all on his son, the Messiah, who they claim told them they don’t have to obey God anymore.

This same son whose testimony throughout his ministry on earth was that he does only what his father in heaven tells him to do!

The Cohanim replaced the torn cloth parochet, but later men like Ignatius and Constantine, followed in turn by the Popes and organizers of new religions like Luther, Young, et.al. , created their own religions, which acts as a parochet separating those who followed them from God by replacing God’s instructions with their own.

So, what are we to do?

My suggestion is that you find out what God said you should do and compare it with what your religion tells you to do, then choose who you want to obey: God or men?

I might add one last thing: before you choose who to follow, you might want to consider that at the final judgment it won’t be the originator of your religion who will be sitting on the Throne of Judgment, it will be God, and he might be a little perturbed with anyone who chose to ignore his instructions.

Just a little something to think about while you still have the time.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

What Should We Do Now?

I just saw a video taken by a man driving down 5th Avenue in New York City.

If you aren’t familiar with 5th Avenue, it is where many of the high-priced retail stores are located, such as Tiffany and Co. The video showed block after block, on both sides of the street, with plywood over all the windows.

It looked like the houses I would see when driving through slums.

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I read about the Antifa movement, which professes to hate racism while practicing anarchy, and I believe that we all know those who cry out for justice do not practice injustice. But, still, it is happening and there are so many who are so blinded by their political beliefs that they can’t see what is happening. The world is coming to an end and these politically blinded idiots applaud those destroying the most wonderful things about this country.

So, what can we do? My answer is this: nothing.

That’s right, there is nothing we can do about it except protect ourselves and make an effort to tell everyone we care about that if they aren’t right with God and Messiah, to get their tuchas in gear because the fecal matter is about to hit the air circulation unit. And all this tsouris we are seeing, this political and social mishigas, is just the beginning.

It won’t get better until after it gets worse.

Don’t believe me? Think I am one of those nutcases who screams, “REPENT!! The end is near!!”  Well, you’re right, because that is exactly what I am doing (sans waving a sign in one hand and a Bible in the other.)

I read the Bible, I read what the Prophets tell us God told them would happen, I read what Yeshua warned us would be the starting signs, and I read Revelation.

(I still have no idea what most of Revelation is about, but I know enough of it to recognize what is happening.)

I see so many people posting about how we should pray for peace, but I think it would be better to accept that this is God’s plan for the world and pray instead for a quick resolution to these days, and also for a speedy return of the Messiah.

I hate what I see happening to my country, to our system of government, to people of all races, and to the world, in general. People are being led to their own destruction, and on the way, they are cheering about it. Political opposition has reached the point where those who are responsible for making the laws are paying people to break the laws for their own agenda, which is (in and of itself) treasonous.

Anarchists are spreading violence, civil injustice, and social unrest across our nation, and it is spreading out of the cities and into the suburbs.  Soon we will be living in the apocalyptic world that we have only seen in movies and TV shows. There won’t be brain-eating zombies coming after us, but considering how brainlessly people have been acting, those zombies would starve, anyway.

Hmmm….since a zombie is already dead, can it actually starve to death?

Anyway, the thing that I am doing, and what I recommend others to do, is to protect myself. Not from germs or political opponents, but from physical harm and most of all, from the pandemic of stupidity and fear that is the real danger in the world, today.

Maintain your faith and know that this is not really social upheaval, racially motivated riots, or germ warfare (which, for the record, it is all of these things), but that this really is the beginning of God’s plan of redemption. It is the judgment of the nations God said would happen before the return of Messiah Yeshua.  We all need to realize this is not a religious rant but is a fact, and by accepting that be emotionally prepared for the rest of the tribulation that is yet to come.

The end IS near, much closer and more tangible than it has ever been before, and we need to get right with God and Messiah before it is too late. Pray not for peace, but for your family and friends who have not accepted Messiah and God’s instructions in the Torah, because they are the ones who will suffer the most.

The suffering of the righteous will be temporary, but the suffering of the unrighteous will be eternal, so let’s pray for them while they still have time.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

The Apocalypse…God’s Doing or God’s Allowing?

When the Apocalypse comes, when the 7 seals are opened, when the bowls of God’s wrath are spilled on the earth, when the fecal matter hits the air circulation unit, will this be something that God does or something that God allows?

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When Noah and his family left the ark, Noah sacrificed to God. And this is what happened then (Genesis 8:21 CJB):

 Adonai smelled the sweet aroma, and Adonai said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, since the imaginings of a person’s heart are evil from his youth; nor will I ever again destroy all living things, as I have done.

This is the reason I ask if God will be the one who destroys the earth. If he does, meaning that God, himself, directly performs the curses that come from the opening of the seals and the bowls of wrath, then he is breaking his covenant with Noah, isn’t he?

Yet, if God doesn’t actually do the “bad” things, but the bad things happen because of something God doesn’t do, then is that the same as actually doing something?

I know, I know…it sounds like a convoluted bit of excuse-making, but it is, I believe, important to know whether God actively destroys the world or simply doesn’t prevent it.

Regarding Deuteronomy 28, which is referred to as the Blessings and the Curses Chapter, I have often stated that the blessings we receive are actively given to us by God. He directly causes these good things to occur. However, the curses, which are the exact opposite of the blessings, aren’t actively sent to us by God, but instead are visited on us because God is not actively blessing us.

In other words, the world is already a cursed and fallen place and tsouris is what we should expect when living in a cursed and fallen world. The blessings we receive are God’s kippur, his covering, which protects us from the curses. When we are obedient to the instructions God gave us regarding how to live and worship him, he protects us from the world. That is why blessings are given and curses are sent, although they really aren’t sent because you can’t send what is already here.

I believe that when we read of the destruction of the world in the Book of Revelation that is the same sort of thing. Yes, the bowls are of God’s wrath, and yes, the 7 seals were sealed up by God, but it isn’t God who opens the seals and it isn’t God who pours the wrath upon the earth.

Revelation 6:3 says that the rider on the red horse was to take away the peace of the world and cause people to slaughter themselves; it isn’t the rider or God who is slaughtering the people, they are killing themselves.

In Revelation 7 we are told that God says to the destroying angels to wait until the servants of God have received their seals to protect them; as I said, God will not be causing the destruction to follow but is protecting those who are his own from it.

As for the rule of the Beast, it is allowed to rule. It has always been here, and since it is will be allowed to rule, that means prior to that time it was kept from ruling anything.

The seven bowls of fury are poured out on the earth, but the authorization comes from a voice from the Sanctuary (Rev.16:1) and the bowls were given to the angels by one of the living creatures. The bowls are filled with God’s wrath, which is just and correct because of all the sins of the world, but God is not pouring them out, himself, he is just allowing it to happen.

Do you see the subtle difference I am trying to point out?  God has been protecting us from the consequences of our sins all this time. His wrath and judgment are correct and justified, but he has withheld the punishment we deserve. It won’t be until the end of his patience when he will no longer hold back the judgment we all deserve, and then he will allow the angels, his executioners, to do their job.

From the moment God told Noah he will not destroy life again, he has been actively protecting the world by suspending the execution of his righteous and perfect judgment of the sinners in the world. He is waiting, hoping that he can issue a reprieve from the judgment his holiness demands he makes upon the world. In Ezekiel 18:23 he says that he doesn’t get any pleasure from the death of the sinner but would rather they turn from their sin and live, and since the days of Noah he has been giving everyone as much time as he can to do just that.

God will not destroy the world any more than a judge kills a criminal found guilty of a capital crime. The judge orders the punishment, the executioner performs it, but the one who is really responsible for the death of the guilty person is the person, himself.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with others. I would also ask that you subscribe, check out my books, my entire website and don’t hesitate to comment if you would like to agree or even if you want to argue. Just be nice.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Tetzaveh 2020 (Command) Exodus 27:20 – 30:10)

God continues to give Moses detailed instructions for the building of the Tabernacle and all that is involved with it. In this reading, we are told how to manufacture the priestly robes, including the breastplate of judgment, the procedure for anointing the priests, and the construction of the altar.

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I don’t know why there is so much detail in these last chapters of Exodus, but today’s reading mentions something that has been a mystery to every biblical scholar of modern times, and that mystery is: what the heck are the Urim and Tummim?

The Hebrew words mean Lights and Perfections, and there has been an on-going argument over whether they are a separate part of the breastplate or incorporated into it. There is no question that they are an essential part of receiving the divine will when matters of great importance are discussed but what are they? Are they some kind of dice? And, whatever they were, how were they utilized?

I believe that the throwing of lots had to be a binomial action, meaning when asking God to indicate his will, the questions had to be presented as a “Yes” or “No” option. There are many references in movies to seers throwing pieces of bone with letters on them and diving an answer, but I don’t think that is how the Urim and Tummim worked; however, I really can’t say anything for sure since I don’t have any idea of what they were.

Another interesting fact about the Urim and Tummim is that they seem to have been used only up to the time of David, and the only mention of them after 1 Samuel 28:6 is in Ezra, where they were used to determine the genealogy of those who couldn’t identify their families when making aliyah from Babylon to Jerusalem.

I have my own idea about the loss of these devices and will share it with you. Again, this is my thought and is not to be taken as a definitive answer to what happened to them.

I believe the use of the Urim and Tummim was rejected because the kingship decided that it was able to make its own decision. There was the king, who had advisors, the prophets and the assigned Cohen. These people seem to be the ones who decided what to do, and even though we often read of David consulting Adonai with regards to what actions he should take, we don’t really read that much after Solomon’s rule. Actually, mention of any of the later kings of either Judea or Israel even consulting God is rare. Of course, the kings of Israel wouldn’t have consulted Adonai because they worshiped the pagan gods, but I would have expected that the kings of Judea, at least those who did right in God’s eyes, would have consulted him often, but I really don’t recall a lot of references to that.

We know that under Solomon, Israel had peace and Solomon had the supernatural wisdom that God gave him, so maybe a need for the Urim and Tummim didn’t exist? After many years of not being used, their existence could have been more or less forgotten, or maybe how to use them was lost?

To me, from the time of Shaul as king, and more so down the line of kings, it seems that the prophet took precedence over the priest with regard to knowing God’s word, and since the high priest was the only one with access to the Urim and Tummim, perhaps that is what led to the loss of their use?

No one knows, and probably will never know, what the Urim and Tummim were or how they were used, or why they weren’t used (except for one mention) after David’s kingship.

The Urim and the Tummim are a mystery, and people love to solve a mystery, and when I run across a mystery within the Bible I always check to see how it stacks up to my Acid Test question, which is: “How does this affect my salvation?”

And, as far as knowing all about the Urim and Tummim, the answer is: it doesn’t. It is an interesting mystery, and since I can’t answer it, and (frankly) no one ever has, I will leave you with this reminder from Moses (Deuteronomy 29:29):

Things which are hidden belong to ADONAI our God. But the things that have been revealed belong to us and our children forever, so that we can observe all the words of this Torah.

In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff and stay focused on what matters, which is to follow the instructions God gave us.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe if you like what you read. I also welcome comments and would ask you to check out my entire website, especially my books. If you like my messages, you will like my books, as well.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

Parashah Shoftim 2018 (Judges) Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9

Watch for my new book, Parashot Drashim- Commentary on the Weekly Torah Readings for Both Jews and Gentiles, to be released sometime in September 2018.

   

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In the previous parashah, God reminded the people of the Holy Days (the Moedim) that they are to observe when they are in the Promised Land. Now God tells them to appoint judges in all their cities who are to judge rightly:

(Deut. 16:20) “Justice, justice shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord, thy God giveth thee.”

God instructs the judges that no one is to be executed unless there are two or three witnesses, and if a witness gives a false testimony then what was to happen to the accused will be done to that false witness.  God also tells them when they ask for a king that the king must be an Israelite and also read and follow every commandment God has given.

God reminds the Levites of their role, and how they are to receive payment from the offerings brought to God.

God tells the people that he will raise up for them a prophet like Moses who will have God’s words in his mouth. God also confirms his commandments against worshiping any other gods, and that those living in the land now are to be totally destroyed because of all the evil they have done.

There are commandments regarding the laws of warfare, which include not destroying fruit trees, reasons some men can be excused from military service and that those people who were not to be utterly destroyed would be given a chance to make peace before the Israelites attacked them.

Finally, God gives the means by a city or town that has an unsolved murder can be absolved of the blood guilt.

How can there be justice if the Canaanites were to be totally destroyed? Women (not virgins) and young males were to be slaughtered, often along with all their animals, as well. This is justice?  On the other hand, causing the sin of a false witness to fall on his own head and requiring more than just one witness in a case of capital punishment certainly is a just and fair system. So how do we reconcile these two, apparently opposite decrees?

We do so by remembering one of the most basic and repetitious of all God’s commandments to his people- they are to be holy, as he is holy.

That means not even a trace amount of sin should be found anywhere in their camps, towns, cities or homes. Keeping animals that are unclean, or devoted to another god, would be wrong. Allowing those who God has judged to death for their sinful, unrepentant pagan religions and worship would be sinful, rebellious and would lead the people of God into sin (as we saw happen in Numbers 25.)

The regulations about keeping any form of sin out of the camp, which can be expanded to mean out of the lives of the people of God, was necessary to help maintain the holiness of God’s chosen people. Remember, these were a people that were to be priests to the world (Exodus 19:6) so everything they did, every day, must be designed to avoid sin. Although it seems cruel to us today, in those days total destruction of the conquered peoples was standard. The fact that God said people who were not on the “Holy Hit List” could be allowed to live if they surrendered is a demonstration of the compassion that God has for all people.

And the complete destruction of the sinful people is a demonstration of the awesomeness of God’s judgment.

Micah tells us (Micah 6:8) that what God wants is justice, mercy and to walk humbly with God. We cannot walk anywhere near God, let alone with him if we are sinful. Justice was the first thing God had Micah tell the people was what he wanted of them. Justice, then mercy and finally to walk humbly with God.

To the Jewish mindset, justice is an important and holy thing which encompasses more than just hearing both sides of a story. The Greek idea of justice  (under Plato’s definition) means a harmonious social arrangement which confirms separation of human rights in that slaves are subservient to their masters and should be content to be so. The Hebrew form of justice is that which requires the equality of human rights.  Even a condemned criminal that has been hanged must have his body removed before sundown (Deuteronomy 21:23) as a sign of respect for him as a human being.

Each of us must respect everyone as a separate human being with rights, even when they are sinning and unrepentant. Justice must be given fairly- no bribes, no special treatment for poor or rich, and there must be multiple witnesses whose witness has to be validated and truthful.

When we deal with the darkness in the world, we must be a light which exposes sin and also shines brightly to lead others to the truth.

Do not allow yourself to be turned one way or the other when you are in a position to judge others. This means not just in a criminal court but in your everyday life. If you are a manager and have to write an evaluation, your personal feelings towards the person, good or bad should not influence your evaluation of their value to the company or the quality of their work. If you are in a social group where people are gossiping about each other, you must separate yourselves from those who gossip and be an example of fairness. Try not to talk about someone else unless you are complimenting them; if you have nothing good to say about someone else, then say nothing.

These are hard things for us to do, as human beings, because we are so full of emotion, which is so easily affected by our iniquity. Justice is something that must be above emotion, above personal desire and above our own idea of what “should be.” Justice must be based on established law and accepted behaviors, whether or not we individually agree with those laws or behaviors, and always based on the person’s rights as a human being and a child of God.

To be holy as God is holy is not easy; when we have to judge someone else, for whatever reasons, maybe the best way to start is to “put ourselves in their shoes.” Everyone has a right to decide for themselves what they will do and how they will act, whether that be the judge or the judged. The downside of this right to decide is that God will hold each of us accountable for those decisions, whether you make it yourself or you just do what someone else told you to do.

That should be a very sobering thought.

Parashah Shoftim (Judges) Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9

There are some very important practices outlined in this parashah.

First off, judges must not allow a person’s social status to influence their decision. Any crime deserving of capital punishment must be substantiated by no less than 2 or 3 witnesses, and to ensure those witnesses realize the seriousness of their accusations, they are to be the first ones to lay hands on and stone the guilty.  For criminal cases that are too hard for the local judge to adjudicate, those cases are to be brought to the Levites in the location where where God places His name; God just created the first Supreme Court.

It talks about when the people want a king that the king must read and obey the Torah daily, and that he must not bring the people out of the land or have too many horses or wives; too many horses represents faithlessness in God as their protector, and too many wives will be a lure to idolatry (as Solomon proved true.)

What is interesting is that after establishing the rules for having a king, Moses tells the people that God will send a prophet to let them know what He wants of them. The reason I find this interesting is that the prophet was supposed to be in place of the king, yet the rulings for how the king is to act came before Moses talked about the prophet.  Perhaps this is to emphasize that the king is also required to listen to the prophet God sends, which (for the good kings) did happen. As for the bad kings who rejected the prophets warnings, well… we know where they ended up.

The other regulations in this parashah deal with which men shall be free of military obligation, establishing cities of refuge and what I want to talk about today- offering peace with slavery or total destruction to the cities the people would encounter when conquering the land.

Deuteronomy 20: 10-18 states that when coming to a city which is not one within the land that God is giving as an inheritance, they are to approach it and offer a peaceful takeover. The city that accepts will be required to pay tribute but will remain unmolested. If the city refuses, then all the men are to be killed and the woman, children and possessions are to be taken. However, for those people living in the land that God is giving as the inheritance (the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites), the people, all the animals and their possessions are to be completely destroyed. Nothing is to be kept by the Israelites.

Wow! Our loving, compassionate and merciful God wants total annihilation of people- men, women and children, as well as the animals!  Is this the same God who chided Jonah for wanting Nineveh destroyed? Is this the same God who gave us commandments regarding proper treatment of all people and animals? Is this the same God who gave us Messiah so that we can have eternal life? Is this the same God who has Ezekiel tell us (Chapter 18) that He doesn’t like to see anyone die, but would rather that the sinner turn from his sin, and live?

If God is willing to let the other pagan peoples remain alive as slaves, why not these that live in the land already?

The answer is simple, yet hard for humans to accept- the people living in the land that God is giving to the Israelites have sinned so terribly that their time for forgiveness has passed and the time for judgment has come. Remember how Moses told the people that they are not being given the land because they deserve it, but because of the promise God made to their fathers (Deuteronomy 9:5)?  Moses also told the people the reason the existing peoples are being ejected from the land is because they have so polluted it that the land, itself, is vomiting them out of it (Leviticus 18:28), and if the Israelites do not destroy them completely then they will become a snare for them and cause them to fall into the same sin, resulting in Israel being vomited out of the land, as well. Which, of course, eventually happened just as Moses warned them it would happen.

God is loving and compassionate and caring, but he is also God, which means that He judges fairly. He sets the rules, and He holds Himself accountable to them. I think this is why people can’t figure God out- it’s because we are weak and easily influenced by our emotions, and God isn’t. We have rules and regulations but we do not always hold ourselves up to our own standards.

God is not like that- God makes the rules for us, but He also follows those rules Himself. One of the reasons God is able to judge fairly is because He not only can see the heart, but because He will not allow Himself to break His own rules. Since He is God, if He wanted to break His own rules, who could stop Him? Who can hold God accountable? No one, of course, except God, and He does exactly that- God holds Himself accountable to follow His own rules.

We do not know if God sent prophets to these people, or if He made Himself known to them as He did to the Israelites, but we do know that the people in the land were aware of who God was. The story of what God did to Egypt was known throughout that area. God also said He would put the fear of the Israelites into the peoples, which was evident. Once Joshua was in the land, Rahab (Joshua 2) knew about them, and there is the story of the city of Gibeon (Joshua 9) that fooled Joshua by sending envoys pretending they came from a far distance in order to make peace with him. So there was no excuse for these people to have not done T’shuvah and save themselves.

Purging of sin and sinful people from the world is a cruel thing, because sin is a cruel thing. You cannot put out a fire with gasoline or by throwing wood on it- you have to kill the fire by taking it’s life. You do that by suffocating it with water or chemicals. Sin is like fire- it destroys anything and everything in it’s path, and someone who has come into close contact with it will wear the scars of that experience forever. Through Messiah we are saved from the fire, and when we receive our resurrected bodies the scars of that fire will be gone. In the meantime, we go on and let those scars remind us of how terrible sin is. Yeshua is the balm, the covering and the relief from the sin we have scarred ourselves with by playing with fire.

What we learn from this parashah is that God is fair, just and will hold Himself accountable to His own commandments and regulations. He wants everyone to live, but when people reject Him (and He gives them plenty of chances to change their mind) eventually the deadline for T’shuvah (repentance) runs out, and the judgment follows. America is coming into judgment, as is the rest of the world. In fact, we can see it has already started. Terrorism is a cruel, heartless and destructive thing that cares not for men,women, children ,animals, or possessions; I believe it is the sword of Adonai. God used His people, Israel, to mete out His righteous judgment against the Canaanites and other peoples that had polluted the land God allowed them to live in, and today judgment is coming on the nations just as it did then. God is using terrorism as His sword of justice. Why do I say this? Because what the terrorists are doing is no similar to what the Israelites did- destruction of the social, financial and political systems of the people they were sent to destroy.  The only difference is in the procedure: in Joshua’s day the destruction was through direct warfare, whereas today it is through terrorism; terrorism is slower and less direct, but it is just as destructive and cruel, with the same final results. The people are destroyed without pity, without recourse and without warning. Just look at how terrorism is spreading throughout Europe and America. Even those Arab countries that are attacking Israel to this day are tearing themselves apart, internally.

Judgement is here, God is working His will throughout the world, and it will only get worse. We need to steel ourselves against turning from the faith in order to avoid the terror- it won’t work, anyway, The terror is coming, and no one can do anything about it. We just need to make sure we are on the wining side.

 

hebraic roots and messianic judaism: two sides of the same coin?

I am a Jewish man. I was born a Jew, from Jewish parents of Russian descent. I was raised in a Reform Jewish environment, and since neither of my parents ever really embraced being Jewish, my B’rit Milah (circumcision) and Bar Mitzvah were as much a “This is what we do” thing as it was a spiritual acknowledgement of my covenant with God. When I grew older I forgot about religious observance, and always felt distant from God yet desiring to be closer. What kept me away was my desire to sin, which constantly overcame my desire to know the Lord for some 40-odd years. It was a series of traumatic events that led to my desire to know God, and a determination to finally either know Him or reject the whole thing, once and for all. Thankfully, I did get to know God, and then I also needed to know the truth about this guy Jesus, who most of my life I was told was Jewish but started His own religion and was someone we Jews killed.

Now I know who Jesus really is: a Jewish man named Yeshua ben Yosef, who is in truth the Messiah God promised would come, who was born Jewish, lived a Jewish life and died Jewish. He was still Jewish when he was resurrected. During His life He observed the Torah and never-ever started a new religion (for the record, modern day Christianity is from Constantine, not Yeshua.) So, now that I am still Jewish (I am not a Christian, a Christian-Jew, a Hebrew-Christian or anything other than a Jew) but have accepted Yeshua as my Messiah and recognize that He is the son of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that means I am no longer just a Jewish man, but I am a Messianic Jewish man.

Messianic Judaism is not Jews for Jesus. Jews for Jesus is an organization, a non-profit company with a “religious” mandate to bring the truth of the Messiah to Jewish people. One of the things that I wish they would do is stop sending Jews willing to know Yeshua to Christian churches. Not that Christian churches are a bad place, but most Christian churches are not Hebraic Roots churches (Oy! Another label!) and many, many Christian churches have a “don’t need Torah” attitude, and (worse than that) some are Replacement Theologists.

The Hebraic Roots Movement is similar to Messianic Judaism in that Messianic Judaism is for Jews (and Christians, too- most Messianic congregations I have known actually have more Gentiles than Jews) who accept Jesus (Yeshua is the preferred name) as the Messiah, but still maintain the Jewish lifestyle and worship rooted in observance and obedience to the Torah. Hebraic roots congregations are Christians (and some Messianic Jews, like me) who desire to get to know and worship the Lord as Yeshua did, worshiping as they did in the First Century.

Essentially, if a person is someone who has accepted that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah, and worships as the followers of Yeshua did in the First Century when He walked the earth (and for about two centuries after that), then they are either Messianic Jews (if they are Jewish by birth) or Hebraic Roots Christians (if they are Gentile by birth.)

Same coin, different sides.

By the way- this is obviously a very simplistic explanation. I am hoping that it is effective in getting across the idea that anyone who worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who accepts that Yeshua was born a man by Divine conception, who believes He was and still is the Messiah God promised in the Old Covenant writings, is thereby one in the body of Messiah. And, whether or not they were born Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, whatever- when they accept Yeshua as their Messiah, they also accept His lifestyle. Which was, as we would label it today, Judaism. In fact, more similar to Orthodox Judaism than any other sect within Judaism.

I worship at a Hebraic Roots church (zionistrevivalcenter.org) and am one of only maybe 3 or 4 Jewish-born members. We are very small, no more than 15-20 or so “regulars” but we will, with God’s blessings, grow. I believe there is a growing desire in the Christian world to get closer to Jesus, since most of what He really is and what He really taught has been thrown out and replaced with Christian rhetoric, ritual and Anti-Semitic diatribe (such as the Replacement Theology claim that God has rejected the Jews for rejecting Yeshua, and Christians are now the “Chosen people.” Really? I don’t think so- God is pretty clear about His devotion and love for the Jewish people throughout the Bible.)

The aim of this blog-ministry of mine is to help people understand that God doesn’t have any religion, just rules. His rules were given to us in the Torah and the Torah is meant for everyone. It is not, and was never meant to be, exclusive to Jews. It was given to the Jews to bring to the world.

Whatever belief system you have now, does it respect the Torah? Do you believe (or have you been told to believe) that the Torah is valid for everyone? Do you believe that God still expects you to obey the laws of Kashrut outlined in Leviticus 11? Do you honor God by celebrating the festivals God said we are to celebrate and in the manner He described in Leviticus 23?

Or- do you believe (or have been told) that the Torah is only for Jews? Were you taught that Jews receive their salvation from Torah but Christians are saved by the Blood of Christ? Do you believe that the only things in the Old Covenant that are valid for you are the “moral laws” that God gave the Jews? If so, you have a very rude awakening coming to you.

Here’s the truth- the biblical truth that you can verify in the bible- Yeshua lived and worshiped as a Jew. The Disciples lived and worshiped as Jews. Shaul (Paul) never “converted” to Christianity- it didn’t even exist then! The followers of Yeshua were Jews who met in the synagogue or, if under social or political attack, met in their homes but NEVER stopped worshiping as Jews. There was no “church” in the first century- the “church” (as we know it today) was formed by Constantine and the Council of Nicene a couple of centuries after Yeshua walked the earth. The truth, my friends, is that if you believe Jesus is the Son of God and you claim to worship Him, than you should be worshiping God, not Jesus, and worshiping God as Jesus did.

I see bracelets with “WWJD” on them, and hear all the time that Christians should do as Jesus did and walk as Jesus walked, yet the Christian world teaches (for the most part) to do nothing like what Jesus did, and to walk a path Jesus would never have even thought of walking! Consider this: the world is about to celebrate the birth of the Messiah and enjoy a holiday feast in His honor with food that He would have considered an abomination to see on His dinner table! I am talking about the traditional Christmas Ham, of course. When you think about it, eating ham on a day designed to celebrate Jesus’s birth is, in fact, disrespectful to God and to Jesus.

The end is always coming closer. That is just simple math- our timeline moves in one direction, and the end is at, well…the end, so every day, every hour, every breath brings us all closer to the final judgement. And the real kicker is that we don’t know when the end is! Bummer! That means that the best possible time to get yourself right in accordance with God (through Yeshua) is now. Right now. And that means if you haven’t accepted your own sinfulness, now’s the time to get with the program. We all hear about asking for forgiveness, but the truth is until you accept your own sinfulness and inability to overcome it, there’s no desire to ask anyone for forgiveness. So, first and foremost, we have to accept and “own” our sinful nature as being against God and we have to want to change it, to do T’Shuvah. Then, and only then, will our request for forgiveness through Yeshua’s sacrificial death on our behalf, be honest.

Next, accept that the truth that God’s will is for us to live as He said we should, which is defined and outlined in the Torah. Yeshua taught nothing but what is in the Torah- He respected it, He observed it perfectly, and he taught others to do so. He never, never, never taught anything against or outside the Torah. What really happened is God gave the Torah to Moses, the people added too many rules and regulations on their own and when Yeshua came to earth to teach the truth, He upset the “religious” authority by telling people that it is God’s authority that counts. We were only looking at the words of the Torah, and Yeshua taught us the spirit of the Torah. And He was all about the Torah and all about God.

If you want to  worship God in a way that will please God, then doesn’t it just make sense to worship God as He said to worship Him? To live your life in the manner He said to live it?

Duh!

 

 

 

Empowerment or Excuse

Shabbat Shalom. I usually have a Parashah message on Friday but I glanced at an article in the morning paper and feel so strongly about what it said to my spirit that I am going to rant and rave today.

The article was about a group of women who wanted to protest the backing by the Governor of Florida of a law that will remove a lot of funding for abortion clinics by forcing the doctors to have stricter regulations on their licensing, as well as stricter demands for inspections of clinics and restrictions on how fetal remains are handled. The government says this law is to improve the quality of the existing clinics and protect the health of the women using them; the protesters say it will just close more clinics and that the Governor is a hypocrite.

It came to me, after all these years of Roe vs. Wade conflicts, that the real reason women who choose to have sex outside of marriage want abortion clinics has nothing at all to do with their empowerment or rights regarding how they treat their body.

Let me say this, first, about right to life: I do not believe anyone should have sex if they are not married (and I mean to each other- sex between married people is still wrong if they are each married to someone else.) Let me also say that I was just as guilty of this sin, called fornication, as anyone else ever has been or will be. Before I was saved I had no problem with it, at all; in fact, when I was single (and before I knew the Lord) I not only was interesting in nailing anyone who was willing, but their marriage status was not a concern. That is different now, of course.

The bible is absolutely clear that fornication is a sin- it is not implied, or hinted at, or hidden in between the lines- according to Strong’s Concordance there are some 36 references throughout the bible against fornication. It’s a sin, plain and simple. What I really can’t stand to hear is the childish and irresponsible whining of people who choose to commit a sin and then say that it isn’t really a sin.

DUH!! If the bible says it is a sin, it is a S-I-N; what part of , “This is a sin” don’t you understand? Yet those who do what they want, feeling (to some degree, to their credit) a level of remorse, will not admit to their sinfulness and weakness but instead will rationalize it away by saying that what they did is not really a sin. At least, it shouldn’t be.

I took your possessions but that isn’t really stealing. I hit you in the face five times but that isn’t really assault. I shot you thirty-five times times in the head, but it was an accident.

Oy!

Fornication is a sin, and the abortion clinic argument is not about empowerment- it is about excuses. Abortion does not support a woman’s right to control her own body- it is a way to avoid the accountability of making a mistake. It is her “get out of jail (pregnancy) card” that she can throw on the table when her sinful actions have resulted in a new life that she is not willing to be responsible for.

The demand to allow abortion is, at it’s core, the demand for the right to commit murder and thereby avoid the consequences of a sin.

How can you avoid the consequence of a sin by committing another one? Any sin, no matter how “big” or how “small”, is a sin in God’s eyes. Fornication (from a human viewpoint) is less of a sin than murder;  murder made it to the Top Ten Hit list of sins, whereas fornication is low on the charts. That said, abortion clinics are the way that someone who chooses to fornicate can avoid the consequence of that action.

I do not want you to think that I am judging those who have sex outside of marriage- as I said, I was as guilty in my youth as anyone today. I am not judging people who fornicate when I call it a sin: I am simply defining what the bible says their actions are.

What I am ranting about is the irresponsibility and immaturity, both emotionally and spiritually, of people who demand to be allowed to have an abortion when they have failed to take the proper precautions or who become pregnant and don’t want to deal with it.

Didn’t your mother ever tell you when you first learned the attraction of matches: “If you play with fire you will get burned.”

Sin is a fire: it burns us, it consumes everything it touches, and it leaves scars. Yeshua can remove the scars and without Him, we have no hope. Abortion cannot remove the scars.

What this boils down to is sin if you want to- that is your choice. But stop trying to cover it up and excuse it away. If you fornicate and get pregnant, then deal with what you have done. I have heard from people that have had that “accident” and found they love that child as much, if not more so, than the “planned” ones. If you want to fornicate, do so- you were given, by God, free will to choose to commit sin. And you were also given, by God, the sacrificial death of His son to let you escape the eternal consequences of your sin. Mind you- I said the eternal consequences, not the physical, current consequences. A murderer can be forgiven murder through Yeshua, but he or she will still have to go to jail. Sin always has consequences on Earth which we cannot avoid.

I believe that abortion clinics are wrong and should be outlawed; not as a means of denying women the right to control what they do with their own body, but because they represent an escape from accountability. And, yes, I also believe that legal abortion is state-authorized murder.

We purposefully sin but don’t want to be held accountable. Fine. Live that way, make your excuses, use science or philosophy, make arguments about rights to control your body and empowerment, but it is all a smoke screen and misdirection. Abortion has nothing to do with empowerment or rights- it is all about lack of accountability and escaping the consequences of one’s actions.

If you fornicate and get pregnant, do your duty to the life you created and then give the baby up for adoption so someone who is not blessed with fertility can raise the child with the love you don’t have for it. Abortion is wrong, adding sin upon sin, and abortion clinics are state-authorized slaughterhouses. It’s that simple, it’s that easy to understand, and it’s that terrible.

Stop rationalizing your sin and own up to it, people! At least have the guts to admit you made a mistake and then show the maturity and strength of character to finish what you started.

Real empowerment doesn’t come from excuses- real empowerment comes from personal accountability.

Does God change His mind?

Yes, He does. How can anyone say He doesn’t?

He changed His mind when Abraham asked Him to spare Sodom and Gemorrah if He found just 10 honest men there. He changed His mind when He allowed the enemy to harass Job (first it was don’t touch Job, then He allowed Job to be touched.) He changed His mind when He sent Jonah to Ninevah (after they repented). He changed His mind about destroying the Israelites after their sin with the Golden Calf.

And that’s just off the top of my head. I’ll wager I could find a few more times He changed His mind.

But then how are we to trust in salvation? If God changes His mind about those things then He can change His mind about His gift of salvation, too, right?

Of course He can…but He won’t. How can I be so sure? Not because of the fact that God changes His mind about things, but because of which things He changes His mind about.

God never has gone back on His word regarding the good things He has done for us: He has honored His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; to Moses,; to David; to Solomon, etc. and so on and so on.

As the Psalm says, His love endures forever. Fortunately, His anger doesn’t.

God changes His mind (sometimes) about destruction and punishment. Even when he continues through with His righteous and just punishment/judgment, He does so with mercy and compassion. It is always (and only) with regard to judgment and punishment that God has changed His mind. Everything else He says He will do, He does. Everything else He said He would provide, He has provided. Everything else He says He will make happen, He has made happen.

We can trust God totally to do whatever good He has said He will do for us, and also hope eternally that He will be merciful and flexible regarding His judgments upon us, all of which we always deserve.

There is nothing wrong about changing our minds, and (in truth) the people who don’t change their minds are the ones not to trust. I once read that good managers are the ones that can make decisions quickly and change them slowly, and bad managers take a long time to make a decision, and then change their minds quickly.

God is certainly a good manager. He has changed His mind only for certain times when He said He would punish the sinners, but never about the promises He has made regarding our land, salvation or His protection and love. And absolutely NEVER about anything in the Torah. The followers of Replacement Theology should remember that next time they profess that God has abandoned the Jewish people. Hasn’t happened, ain’t happening now, and ain’t evah gonna happen.

Those who are repentant, have accepted Messiah Yeshua as their Messiah and who have done T’shuvah in their heart will receive all those good promises about salvation; so long as they maintain their proper attitude and continue to worship God as He said we should, continue to move forward spiritually in maturity, constantly working towards the goal.

Don’t be concerned that God has changed His mind about judgement- He will judge the unrighteous and unrepentant as they deserve, and even they might still receive mercy. Not absolution, not getting off free, but merciful judgment. And those who are faithfully obedient and continue to work towards the goal will be rewarded with every good promise God has made about salvation.

You can bank on it because that’s how God rolls.

 

Parashah Tetzaveh (Thou shalt command) Exodus 27:20 – 30:10

The previous Parashah described the Tent of Meeting, or Tabernacle, and now we get to the regulations about those serving in the tent. Aaron and his sons were chosen by God to be His Cohen HaGadol, His High Priests, and only those who are direct descendants are to carry on in this office. The clothing they are to wear, the special things for the High Priest (Ephod, breastplate and mitre) and the sanctification ceremony are all outlined in great detail. The last thing mentioned is the altar and it’s manufacture.

The breastplate had  12 brilliant gems, one for each tribe of Israel with that tribe’s name engraved on it, and it was worn over the heart. In biblical psychology the heart is the seat of intellect, not feeling, so people who are “wise-hearted” are those God has given special knowledge to (Exodus 28:3).  The Urim and Thummim (light and perfection) are also to be in the breastplate and worn over the heart.

The breastplate is called the breastplate of judgement: the people and the means of judgement (Urim and Thummim) are to be close to the heart of the one who is God’s representative to the people. I believe that this demonstrates to us that God’s judgement is to be intellectually influenced. It is to be totally fair. Of course, I also have to ask myself where, if judgement is to be unemotional, does mercy fit in? Mercy is certainly not something that is a mathematical equation or something we can intellectualize. It is an emotional feeling; it stems from compassion and love.  Can these two things really exist together? I don’t know. God is fair, and He tempers His judgments with compassionate mercy, but (then, again) He has been awesome and totalitarian in many of His judgments. God has had entire nations and peoples completed destroyed. Frankly, I don’t know how this all works together, and I was thinking of just deleting this entire section, but it raises questions. I think questions before the Lord are good things, so I am leaving this here for you to think over, on your own, and to discuss with God. If you have an answer, or something to add, please comment so we can all discuss this. The topic is: how can God judge fairly and still have compassion and mercy?

One other thing I find interesting: the Urim and Thummim, which are mysterious (we don’t even know what they were) are used to determine God’s will. They may have been some kind of dice that were used for throwing lots. They are mentioned in some of the writings of the Prophets (Nevi’im) but pretty much by David’s time they are not mentioned any more in the Tanakh. These means of determining God’s will were obviously important during the time the people were in the desert, and under Joshua. As time went on, they became less important, and we also see as time went on the people got further and further away from God; eventually, we got so far away from Him that we were nearly destroyed.

With Yeshua, we have been reconciled with God and can (again) draw close to Him. So, will we again see the Urim and Thummim? I don’t think so, because what was used to determine God’s will is now not over our hearts, but inside our hearts. The Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, is how we can know God’s will for our lives. It is our Comforter, our Guardian, our own “Jiminy Cricket” keeping us on the straight and narrow. We don’t have to have a physical thing to help us understand what God wants for us anymore because we have His very Spirit living inside of us.

As we are told in Jeremiah 31:31:

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

The Urim and Thummim have been replaced by the Ruach HaKodesh as our means of understanding what God wants in our lives. For me, that underscores even more than usual the need for people to accept their Messiah, especially the Jewish people, because without accepting Yeshua as our Messiah we can’t receive the Ruach HaKodesh. Without the Ruach, we can’t know God’s will for our lives. It is all so clear: first, after Yeshua’s resurrection, the next major event is the destruction of the Temple. No longer can we bring our sin sacrifice to the Lord- Yeshua was the last and complete sacrifice for sin, and through His sacrifice we are now reconciled and cleansed before the Lord. With the destruction of the Temple we also lost forever the records of the lineage of the people to prove who is a true child of Israel, and more important than that, who can serve as Cohen Hagadol. And that’s because we don’t need that anymore: Yeshua is now the Cohen Hagadol for all eternity, and the separation between the Jew and the Gentile doesn’t exist in the body of Messiah (Galatians 3:28).

If we look at the history of the events that occurred before and after Yeshua’s appearance on Earth, we can see the logical progression of salvation, the gradual development of the plan for eternity. Today we see the regathering of the children of Israel back to the land of their fathers, and God’s judgment on the nations coming to fruition. Terrorism, El Nino, global warming, wars, diseases, and terrible earthquakes and Tsunami’s occurring all over the world. Do you think these are just coincidence? Yes, they have always been here but throughout the recorded history of these events today there are more of them, and they are becoming more fierce and regular.  Just because science says some of these are the result of man-made problems doesn’t mean that they aren’t part of God’s plan. Throughout the bible we see God had used people to accomplish His goals more often than by some miraculous divine intervention.

We are living in prophetic times, and we need to have the courage to tell people, whether they believe us or not, about Yeshua so that their blood is on their own head and not ours.

Ask God to show you what His plan is for you, listen to the Ruach HaKodesh in your heart, and take action. Don’t wait until the Groom arrives to fill your lamps with oil.