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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parashah Shemini (Eighth Day) Leviticus 9 – 11

We pick up from the last parashah with the Priests completing the 7 days of consecration, and today they finalize the ceremony with a sin offering, a burnt offering and a peace offering. That is the proper order: first, be cleansed of sin so you can approach God; next, show total obedience and worship of God; lastly, enter into His presence in peace and thanksgiving.

Then Aaron’s two oldest sons, Abihu and Nadab, thought they could just go ahead and offer their own fire before the Lord, ignoring the rules and (according to some Rabbinic thought) coming to the Sanctuary drunk (DUI– davening under the influence.) This sin was immediately addressed by God, who sent fire to destroy them. 

The next chapter, Chapter 11, is the chapter that outlines the laws of Kashrut: the Kosher regulations. 

I do not eat pork or shellfish, or any of the other animals mentioned as unclean, yet I will have meat and dairy together (I LOVE cheeseburgers.) I don’t keep Kosher according to the rules the Rabbi’s have stipulated in the Talmud, but I do keep kosher according to the Bible’s rules.  God tells us what He wants us to do, and we should do that. As Moses says, it isn’t too hard to do, it isn’t so far we can’t reach it, but religious leaders have historically placed a heavier yoke on us.

The Rabbi’s mean well. Their basic motivation is that we don’t want to trespass (violate) God’s word, so since we are weak and foolish, let’s put a “fence” around the law so we can’t cross over it, even by accident. Of course, being Jewish, we need to point out that maybe I can fall over the fence, so let’s put another fence around the first fence, because I can’t accidentally trespass both fences. Oh, wait- maybe my car brakes fail, and I run through the second fence, then when I get out to see the damage to my fender, in shock I fall back and stumble over the first fence…it could happen. Oy- OK, so let’s put a third fence around the second fence, which protects the first fence which is there to keep us from trespassing God’s law.

Maybe I was driving a truck? If I was driving a truck, it might be going so fast, and it’s so big, that it goes through two fences, and then….get the idea? It never stops, so today we have Kashrut laws that say we need three sets of dishes, cups and silverware, a Rabbi to observe the slaughter and preparation of commercially prepared Kosher foods, and so many other rules of Halacha (the Way to Walk) in the Talmud that the yoke is overwhelming.  

I could write an entire book on the way Kashrut is misunderstood by both Jews and Gentiles, whether “Believers” or not. The B’rit Chadasha (New Covenant) writings in Acts and the Gospel of Mark have references that have historically been used as a polemic against Kosher laws, but when taken in context (both grammatically and historically) they have nothing to do, whatsoever, with kashrut ( for a detailed explanation please buy my book, Back to Basics: God’s Word vs. Religion because there is an entire chapter devoted to this misunderstanding.)

Let me make a simple statement regarding the regulations of Kashrut stipulated in this parashah: they are still as valid today for everyone who worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as they were the day God first gave them to Moses. Like it or not, that is the truth. In the Torah, every law, regulation, commandment, and even the suggestions (just kidding- God never suggests, He commands) are valid for everyone in the world.

The Torah is not just for Jews: it was just given to the Jews, in order that they may live it as an example to everyone else how God wants everyone else to live.   

If we obey the Lord, we get blessed (Deuteronomy 28);  Yeshua (Jesus) did not change the law, and certainly did not give anyone permission to ignore the commandments in the Torah. If you worship God, then you are subject to Torah. If you are one of the millions upon millions over the millennia who have been taught to worship Jesus- not the real Jesus but the one Constantine created- then you are told Torah is for Jews and you are OK ’cause Jesus has got your back. Sorry to burst your bubble, but (as the song goes), it ain’t necessarily so. 

There are so many things that humans have done to make worshiping God so much more difficult than what God told us to do. Even if we give the benefit of the doubt, and assume that these regulations and rites and rituals are all designed to honor God, still and all, they just get in the way of pure worship. I find it so disheartening that the Elders in Jerusalem correctly realized that putting too much on the new converts to Judaism (colloquially called the “early church”) was not right, yet three centuries or so later, the Council of Nicene destroyed any semblance of proper worship by totally separating the (now called) Christians from their Jewish roots, and since then have created so many rituals, regulations and requirements that Christianity today isn’t even what they started with back then. What a shame. 

So, nu? What’s my point? My point is the same one I make over and over, and over- before you accept what anyone says about anything dealing with God, check it out yourself by reading the Bible and asking God to direct your understanding. Everything you do, or don’t do, is a decision that you will be held accountable for; so, whichever way you worship God, please make sure it is your choice based on your own understanding and not just what someone else told you you should do.  

Parashah Shemini (on the eighth day) Leviticus 9 – 11

This parashah starts with Aaron, who has been undergoing sanctification for the office of Cohen HaGadol for the past 8 days, beginning his duties as High Priest. Also his two oldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, were to start assisting him.

The problem is that the boys had been drinking (implied by what is commanded in 4:8-11) and offered up incense and fire that was not authorized, and which they had no right to do.

It cost them their lives, as God sent fire from heaven to kill them.

Aaron was told not to mourn, and to continue his duties so that more anger from God was not brought down on him, too.

Chapter 11 is the chapter for Kashrut, the Kosher laws and regulations regarding cleanliness. It makes sense to me that the cleanliness laws would come after the laws about sacrifice- after all, once you have presented your sacrifice and been cleansed, the next thing you need to know is how to stay clean.

What we need to understand from this parashah is how important the position of leadership is within the Jewish world, and even more so, in God’s sight. The devastating punishment that Abihu and Nadab suffered for their insult to God and disregard for His laws was commensurate with their position within the community as leaders and representatives of God to the community.  In James 3:1 we are told….no, actually we are warned….that being a teacher is a position not to be taken lightly:

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

This warning from Yacov can be traced back directly to this parashah. Moses told Aaron not to show any signs of remorse or mourning because Aaron was God’s representative, and as such to even imply he was unhappy about God’s judgment in this case would be a form of denying what God did as just. And since Aaron not only represents God before the people, but also acts as a representative of the people before God, if he was upset and unhappy with God’s judgment then the people would follow suit. And, as we have seen (and will see often during their 40 years in the desert) the people suffered for their distrust and rejection of God’s commands and judgments.

Performing ministry is a form of teaching; indeed, it is teaching the most important thing there is to know: who Messiah is and how to attain salvation and eternal peace. Therefore, ministry workers must be above-board and always represent themselves well. If you talk to people about God, then you represent God. If you tell people about being a Believer, then you represent all Believers.

And the non-believers will throw that up in your face every time you so much as sneeze without covering your mouth!

We will stumble, we will misrepresent God, and we will screw things up, royally. We may represent God’s goodness and love, but we are still human and, as such, will do stupid things. That is no reason to stop trying. A good lesson to teach anyone is that when you fall, brush yourself off, get back up, and keep walking. Maybe the best lesson we can teach about God is not all the wonderful things He has done, but to show how He strengthens us in the midst of our weakness. Just like Shaul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9:

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

We are, each of us, a member of the body of Messiah and we must do what God has placed us here to do. Seek out your gift from God and when you find it, use it. Invest the talents He has given you so that when you meet Him you can give Him back more than what He gave you (read the parable about the Talents in the Gospels.)

Be careful, be aware, but don’t be frightened or put off by the extra responsibility you have as a teacher or leader in the community- it is a great way to grow and have your spirit matured within you. Being in charge is a terrible, and terrific, responsibility, yet if you perform your duties with love, compassion, respect and humility you may be surprised to find yourself being supported by those that you are to support!  When I was a Platoon Commander in the Marine Corps, I would lead the PT (Physical Training) and we would run, as a platoon of 30 men, for miles and miles. I was always in the lead, setting the pace. I had been asked more than once how I can carry all those men with me, and I would reply that I wasn’t pulling them, they were pushing me.

Leadership in God’s community and teaching others about God is a position that is held in high regard by those you teach, is a position in which you are held doubly responsible by God for what and how you teach and live, and makes you a target to be constantly attacked by those who refuse to believe. Standing on the horizon your shadow extends farther than those who are in the valley. Be aware, be careful, and be strengthened by knowing God is not just watching you more carefully, He is strengthening you more completely.

As you do more and more for God, and humbly allow Him to work through you, the responsibility of your position will become heavier and heavier, yet at the same time His strength in your weakness will make that burden easier and easier to bear.

The 3 Biggest Lies about Jesus

Third Biggest Lie: If you are Jewish and you believe Jesus is the Messiah then you can’t be Jewish anymore.

That’s what I have been told, and not just by Jews but the Christian world teaches that, also. They don’t come right out and say it, but the teachings are based on misunderstanding of the letters from Paul (Shaul) to the Romans and Galatians, which have been used as a polemic against following the Torah when they are really an apologetic explaining why it is still absolutely necessary to follow the Torah. There are also many subtle anti-Semitic terms in the New Covenant writings, no matter whether it is King James, NIV, or whatever. Unless you have a Messianic New Covenant, the First Century Jews and Pagans who accepted Yeshua as the Messiah God promised are called the “Church”- that is just not right. There was no “church”, at least not as we know the word to be used today. There were Jews and pagans becoming Jews. They met in groups and homes, and if we need to label them in any way, the best term would be Kahillot, the plural of the Hebrew word Kahal, which means congregation. The first century Jews who accepted Yeshua to be the true Messiah remained (and worshiped as) Jews. The pagans who accepted Yeshua as the Messiah of the Jews began to become Jewish, since there were no other religions. You were either a pagan of one sort or another, or a Jew. When you stopped being a pagan, you had no choice but to be a Jew. Duh! So, where did we go wrong? When did accepting the Jewish Messiah require converting to Christianity?  Sometime around the time when the second biggest lie started.

Second Biggest Lie: Jesus founded Christianity.

Jesus never founded Christianity. He preached only to Jews and used Torah as His only source. After the resurrection and the inclusion of the Gentiles into salvation (Acts 10) , as more and more Gentiles joined the movement it became (I believe) less and less attractive to the “everyday” Jewish person. After the suppression by Emperor Hadrian of the Bar Kochba revolt (132-136 AD) being Jewish meant being subject to persecution. If you were a Jew who accepted Yeshua or a Gentile who did the same thing, it was less “dangerous” to be Christian than Jewish.  Frankly speaking, the more Gentiles that accepted Yeshua the less appealing it became to Jews (my opinion) and the further from Torah they traveled (historical fact.) By the Third Century when Emperor Constantine had “legitimatized” Christianity (as it was being called then) and began to form doctrine and canon at the Council of Nicene, the schism was complete and Christianity was totally different from Judaism. The apple had fallen far from the tree.

Biggest Lie about Jesus: If you are a Christian the Torah is not applicable to you.

Acts, Galatians, and Romans are the three Epistles that (I believe) have damaged the truth about being a follower of Yeshua with regard to being responsible to follow the commandments and regulations found in the Torah. As we saw in the lie above, as more and more Gentiles entered the group of Jewish Believers, the Mosaic law became not a means of worshiping but a stumbling block. I mean, really- I want to be saved by this Yeshua you have told me about, but I have to let you cut what off my what? I would certainly have to think twice about that one. Especially because no one had invented Novocaine yet! Also, I have been eating anything I wanted to eat, and now I can’t eat any shellfish or pork?

I separate biblical Kosher from Rabbinical- biblical Kosher, as I call it, means essentially no pork or shellfish, but Rabbinical Kosher is keeping in alignment with what the Rabbi’s say: different dishes, no meat and dairy at all, and an entire host of rules and regulations that are hard and complicated to follow, even back then.

Even to be biblically Kosher was a big move and (again, this is just what I believe) these requirements were, for many, a deal-breaker. Clearly, strict and immediate adherence to Torah was a significant barrier, which is why in Acts 15 they reduced the requirements to be a new Believer to just the 4 rules about food and fornication. What people miss, though, is that they say these are just the initial requirements, and the next sentence states that they will be seeing the laws of Moses every day in the Temple. The clear meaning of that is that Torah will be taught to them, eventually. The “Christian world” has conveniently failed to mention that part.  Yeshua said, in Matthew 5:17, he did not come to change the laws. And when He said He came to fulfill them that meant, in the language of the day, that He was interpreting them correctly. Fulfilling a law doesn’t mean doing away with it: if that was true, when you next come to a stop sign or a red light and the car ahead of you comes to a full stop, you don’t need to. That car fulfilled the law so it is no longer valid.

Yeah, right- try that one on the cop when he is writing the ticket.

The truth is simple: Jesus, Yeshua, was Jewish and lived a Jewish lifestyle. In fact, His “claim to fame” is that He lived Torah exactly, perfectly, and as the sinless Lamb of God was acceptable as the sacrifice for sin for all mankind. If Yeshua did not live Torah perfectly, He was not sinless and was not an acceptable sacrifice. Simple. However, since He was raised, then He did live Torah perfectly.

The Christian world asks that the followers of Jesus live as Jesus lived and do as Jesus did. Then they tell you that Torah is only for Jews because Christians have Grace. Grace came from Torah, so without Torah there can be no Grace- that is the message Shaul was trying to get across in Romans.

What Jesus taught was to worship God not just in action but in mind and heart. Jesus was the living Word, and the only word was Torah- reject the Torah and you reject Jesus.

Stop living a lie and get with the program.

Parashah Sh’Mini ( On the eighth day ) Leviticus 9:1-11:47

Every time I read this parashah I do not understand the answer Aaron gives to Moses after Nadab and Abihu are destroyed for offering incense that was done in a disrespectful and unauthorized manner. I suppose it has to do with God accepting the sacrifice but since Aaron lost his children, he was not in the proper spirit of thankfulness to eat the sacrifice.

What do you think?

The main section of this parashah is all about one of my favorite pet peeves with Christians, and one of the foundation stones of my ministry- not that everyone has to stay Kosher, but that the Kosher laws are just as valid today, for everyone who worships God, as they were then. Just as valid as not murdering, God is the only God, not to have graven images, and not to commit adultery.

My ministry is all about the fact, yes- the FACT– that God has no religion.

The Kosher laws are about more than clean or unclean, because the word used here is not just clean, as in shiny and white, and nice smelling. It is used one other time in the Bible- it is used to describe the violation of Dinah when she was forcibly raped. God doesn’t see the Kosher laws, as I read what He says, as just about food: to God, that which He says we should not eat is not even to be considered a “food.”

Here is a translation of the last lines of today’s parashah, taken from the JPS version of the Tanakh:

43 You shall not draw abomination upon yourselves through anything that swarms; you shall not make yourselves unclean therewith and thus become unclean. 44 For I the Lord am your God: you shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not make yourselves unclean through any swarming thing that moves upon the earth. 45 For I the Lord am He who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God: you shall be holy, for I am holy. 46 These are the instructions concerning animals, birds, all living creatures that move in water, and all creatures that swarm on earth, 47 for distinguishing between the unclean and the clean, between the living things that may be eaten and the living things that may not be eaten.

Notice that God doesn’t say which food is clean and which isn’t. He says “living things”; in other versions I have read He calls them beasts, but not “food.”

To violate the laws of Kashrut (Kosher laws) is more than just eating something you aren’t supposed to eat. It is a violation of all that being separated from the world means, it is a violation of what being holy unto the Lord means. It is a violation of all that God wants us to be, and all that God represents.

Maybe that’s why it comes right after we are told how Aaron has cleansed himself before the Lord. Being clean he was able to present the sacrifice to cleanse the people, which then separated them from the world and, thereby, could bring them in communion with God. That communion with God, that closeness to Him, was evidenced by the fact that once these sacrifices were presented, correctly, the presence of the Lord appeared to all the people.

When we do as God commands, His presence is able to be with us.

Yeshua did away with sin’s bite and the sting of death, but He did NOT do away with any of the commandments of God found in Torah. Just the opposite- He confirmed them all by living them correctly, and teaching others what they really meant. Yeshua (Jesus) is called by Yochanan (John) the Word that became flesh- the Living Torah. If Yeshua is the living Torah, how could He teach anything against Himself?

I have written about this before, so search for “kosher laws”, “mark 7″ or Acts 9” because I am not going into the different misinterpretations of “Kosher” today. I just want to leave today’s message with this simple statement: being separated from the world is the only way we can come closer to God. I mean, it just makes sense, doesn’t it?: God is holy and the world is cursed. Not much in common there.

If you want to be closer to God, you need to get yourself further from the world. True, eating ham will not send you to hell and not eating ham will not get you into heaven. On the other hand, eating ham will separate you more from God and not eating ham will being you closer to God.

It’s your choice- is pleasing your palette more important than pleasing the Lord? Is ham more important to you than Ha Mashiach?

Here’s the real choice: do you want to be closer to God or further away?

Parasha Vayikra (He Called) Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26

This book is also known as the Torat Kohanim, or Laws of the Priests. It is all about the Priesthood, regulations for how they are to act, how they get paid and also how to identify clean from unclean. The 7th Sabbatical year known as the Jubilee Year, as well as rules on tithing and redemption of the first born, all are part of being holy unto the Lord and for being a priest.

Of course, it’s good to know stuff even if you aren’t a priest.

The most important parts of this book, to me, are Chapter 11 (Kosher regulations), Chapter 23 (God’s Festivals, or Holy Days) and verse 19:18 (love they neighbor as thyself.)

What is important about this book is that we can learn what God’s perspective is about things. Men have interpreted the word of God so differently for so long that now we have all these different religions and teachings, and His word has become so polluted that we have lost His perspective. Reading Leviticus will help us see what God wants us to do.

For instance, Chapter 11 does NOT tell us what foods are clean and what foods are not- it tells us what IS food. In other words, what God says is unclean is not even to be considered “food.” He uses the word “unclean”, but also “abomination” and “detestable” to describe what we are not to eat. The Hebrew word that identifies the beasts (not food, but beasts) that are unclean is the same Hebrew word used in Exodus in the story of the rape of Jacob’s daughter Dinah, where it said she had been violated by the son of the Hivite king. The word is used to mean eating these unclean things results in a total violation, physically and spiritually, of the person- eating an unclean thing is a violation of all that is holy, from God’s perspective. It is not food we are not supposed to eat- it is simply not “food” at all. This is important when we read in Mark when Yeshua declared all food clean- although the story has nothing to do with kosher laws (it was about a hand washing ceremony.) When Mark said Yeshua declared all food clean, he did not mean pork and shellfish. To a First Century Jew that was not “food”, because God says it is not “food” here in Leviticus. Without understanding God’s perspective correctly by understanding Leviticus, we can be misled and taught incorrectly  without even knowing it.

There is also a difference between holy days and a holiday- the former is what God says we should celebrate to honor Him and the latter are what humans made up to honor God. The 7 Holy Days in Leviticus (Chapter 23) are the ones, and the way, we should honor God as He said we should. Two of those have been altered by the Rabbi’s: Rosh Hashanah and Shavuot. Rosh Hashanah is not a Jewish New Year according to God. God said that Pesach (Passover) is the beginning of our year. Rosh Hashanah is, from God’s perspective, Yom Teruah (Day of Trumpets) and a memorial day. It is the beginning of the Ten Days of Awe during which we review our failure to do as God has commanded, in preparation for Yom Kippur. Also Shavuot is different- the traditional celebration is that of the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai, but God said it is to be a spring harvest festival and a presentation of the first fruits.

Hey- there’s nothing wrong with holidays (well, maybe Easter and Christmas need a strong review, but they have become so socialized and commercialized I don’t know if anyone really thinks they are religious anymore, except from a historical viewpoint), as long as we know which are the true Holy Days God wants us to celebrate, and we celebrate them as He said we should.

The Golden Rule is also found here, which is one of the two most important commandments that exist, according to Yeshua (and many of the great Jewish Rabbi’s, as well.) Even this simple and easy to understand rule has been attacked by Bible critics, stating that Hillel and Tobit stated the rule in a negative way (do not do unto others as you would not want them to do to you) but Jesus said it “correctly” by stating it in a positive way (do unto others as you would have them do unto you.) Horse apples! In the days when these arguments were made, it was considered the same to say it either way. People just have to screw up everything. Oy!

This book tells us how we should live- wholly holy, because our God is holy. How many times does God say that we should be holy because He is holy? I can’t even count that high. This book tells the Priests (Kohanim) how they should live and their duties as Priest, and since the nation of Israel is to be a nation of Priests to the world, this book is as important to know and follow to any member of the other 11 tribes as it is to the members of the Tribe of Levi. And it also applies to anyone who sojourns with the Jewish people (that means anyone who worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), whom God said is no different than a “natural born Jew” when it comes to both the rights under the Torah, as well as the obligations under the Torah.

That’s what makes it so hard for Christian-raised people who are trying to get back to their Hebraic roots (or become Messianic Jews)- they like being given the same rights under Torah that the Jewish people have always had, but they often balk when it comes to living under the same regulations that the Torah demands.

You can’t have one without the other, so if you want to worship God as He said to worship Him, you need to live by this book (remember- God has no religion, only His commandments, regulations and ordinances which He declared in the Torah.)

To worship God as He says we should, we must stop choosing and picking what are ceremonial laws (Mishpatim) from moral laws (mitzvot) from civil laws, from other laws we can’t understand (Hukkim), from whatever- whether moral, ceremonial or any other “type” of law, these are the ways God said we should live and how to worship Him. Anything else, ANYTHING ELSE, is not from God.

So, nu? Do you want to worship God as He said to, or not? What would…no, make that what did…. Jesus do?

WWJD? Probably Not What You Are Doing.

Ooh- what a nasty title, Steve! How dare you say I am not doing what Jesus did! You don’t even know me.

That’s right- I don’t know how you worship, but (as the title says) from my experience watching and hearing about “Christian” service, you are probably not doing what Jesus (Yeshua) did when He worshiped God.

That’s the emphasis here- is your worship life the same as Yeshua’s?

*  Do you read the Torah parashah every Saturday?

*  Do you pray morning, afternoon and evening?

*  Do you pray to Saints?

*  Do you kneel to a wooden cross?

*  Do you celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday?

And here’s the BIG question: Do you worship God or do you worship Yeshua?

If you are saying “No” to the first two, and “Yes” to the others, and if you worship Jesus (what I am mean by this is are you praying to God in Yeshua’s name, or are you praying directly to Yeshua for the answers you want?), then you are NOT doing what Jesus did, at least with regards to worship.

Yeshua never prayed to Himself, and never, ever said we should pray to Him. What He said (look it up if you don’t believe me) was to pray IN HIS NAME, not pray to Him. That means we worship God, the Father, and pray to God, the Father, and no one else. We do not ask saints to intercede- why would you even want to? They are not God’s son, they are not the Messiah, it is not their job to intercede. They are, if anything, soldiers for God. They are the martyrs under the altar, they are waiting for the Acharit HaYamim (End Days), they are praying to God for their own retribution and for justice. They are not intercessors, and they are not who you should pray to if you want to do as Jesus did.

Did you enjoy your Christmas ham? Ever think that what you ate and shared with others as a celebration of the birth of the Messiah would be an abomination to Him?  He would never even have it in His house, let alone on His table. How would you feel if someone wanted to honor you and did so by inviting your enemies to have a good time and to eat and drink foods that you found disgusting? Would you feel honored?

You want to do as Jesus did? Than stop listening to people telling you what to do, and read the Bible. Read the whole Bible, starting at Genesis. That’s where you will learn how Yeshua did things.

You want to be able to answer the question: “Do you do as Jesus did?” with a resounding “YES!!”, then start with your worship life. If you worship correctly, you will know how to live correctly. That means to read the Bible, not just hear what others tell you it says. You also have to ask the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to guide your understanding.

You need to live as Yeshua lived. Try, even if it is just an experiment, or as a religious fast, if you will, to eat according to what you are told to eat in Leviticus 11. Just that one thing.

I am not trying to be a “Judaizer”, or proselytize you into becoming Messianic. I only want to help you see that there is a major, identifiable, and gigantic difference between the way Christians live and worship (traditionally) and how Yeshua lived and worshiped.

I am Messianic, and my worship is made up of an opening prayer, followed by music, singing and dancing (most of which was likely part of Yeshua’s worship, but I can’t accept that He would be singing for an hour before getting into the real meat- the Torah), then we read the portion of the Torah that is specified and the sermon/drash/messages on that parashah. Here is where we separate from what Yeshua would have done, since in His time there was no New Covenant to enhance and define the Torah reading. The Haftorah we read is just as often from the New Covenant as it is the traditional one for the Torah parashah. Also, we may not read the Parashah and delve into a different topic. That is the major difference, but I feel confident in saying that what we are discussing would be acceptable by Yeshua. After all, the Gospels (Besorah, or Good News) are the life of Yeshua and His teachings, and the rest are spirit-led revelations and witness to the teachings of Yeshua.

That is where I am different, where I do not do what Jesus did in His worship life. Frankly, I love studying and paying attention to the teachings of Yeshua as part of my worship life. I pray to God, as Yeshua did; I ask for things from God, and ask them referencing the name of Yeshua and (respectfully) reminding God that Yeshua, His son, said that He would honor what we asked for if we did so in Yeshua’s name; I read the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelations, and I celebrate the Sabbath the way Yeshua did- Friday night to Saturday night. I have a diet in accordance with Leviticus 11, I celebrate the festivals of the Lord as defined and commanded of us in Leviticus 23. And I call myself a Jewish man- I am NOT a Christian-Jew, Hebrew-Christian, or any other non-defined, wavering sort of hybrid religion. What I really am is a Believer- I believe in God, I believe Yeshua is the Messiah, and I believe that I should worship and live as Yeshua did, to the best of my abilities, faithfully trying to obey God’s commandments. All His commandments, because they are all valid and current.

There is nothing “new” in the New Covenant, and God has no religion. Only rules and laws and commandments.

I do not live a sinless life, and in that way I most certainly do not do as Yeshua did. But, thanks to Yeshua, and the grace of God that allows me to have the indwelling Ruach, I am getting better.

WWJD? If you want to do as Jesus did, if you want to know how He lived, ate, and worshiped, then DAYD- Do As Yeshua Did. You don’t have to convert to Judaism; actually, you would need to be Messianic because traditional, or as I like to call it, “mainstream” Judaism doesn’t do exactly what Yeshua did,either. But just try it for awhile.

Really? Will it kill you to give up pork and shellfish for a week? That’s all it really comes down to to maintain the proper Kosher laws, according to the Bible. Or read the Torah portion on Saturday mornings as well as whatever normal biblical reading you do. The traditional Jewish prayers during the day are the morning prayer (shacharit), afternoon prayer (minchah) and evening prayer (arvith or maariv.) You don’t need to recite them verbatim, or do them exactly at sunrise, noon and sunset. You don’t need to spend from $250 up to maybe $400 for a set of Tefillin. Just try to pray these three times during the day, maybe 5 or 10 minutes each time, for a week.  You do need to pray only to God, the Father. Ask in Yeshua’s name, but pray to God, just as Yeshua did. Trust me, He is there, at the right hand of God, interceding for you. Just go to the source of everything and Yeshua will be involved. 

If you are serious about wanting to know Yeshua, about wanting to follow in His footsteps, and about wanting to do as He did, take this challenge. It’s not too hard, and it only has to be for a week- Shabbat to Shabbat (uh, that would be Friday night to Friday night) and see how you feel. Honestly, if it doesn’t make you feel any closer to Yeshua than you had been, I suggest you might want to consider how close you were before you tried. I say that because I really believe that anyone who does this will feel closer to God, closer to Yeshua, and more “complete” as a Believer than they felt before. It doesn’t have to be forever, it doesn’t have to change your life (although it might), it just has to be for a week.

Do it as a Nazarite vow; do it as a sign of devotion, do it as a special fast; do it as a spiritual adventure.

Please…just do it. Nu? Try it;  maybe you’ll like it!