Mercy Isn’t Amnesty

The Bible is rife with passages that talk about the forgiveness, compassion, and mercy that we can expect from God. He (usually) waits a long time before issuing his punishment only because he is giving us that amount of time to repent, and even when he does punish (which is often terrible to endure), he does so with mercy.

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There are too many houses of worship (meaning all religions) that teach only about the love and mercy of God, up to the point where people begin to believe that because God is merciful they will not have to suffer for their sins once they repent and ask for forgiveness.

Let’s get real people- that ain’t how it works.

God does not desire that anyone, at any time, should ever die in their sin. He says so, twice, in the Book of Ezekiel alone; the first time in Ezekiel 18:23 and then again in Ezekiel 33:11. He tells us he gets no pleasure at all from someone who dies in their sin, and that he would rather they turn from that sin, and live.

He also tells us that a righteous person who begins to sin will be guilty and die in their sin, yet a guilty (sinful) person who repents and does what is right will be forgiven and live (eternally.)

There are always consequences to sin, and more often than not, the innocent are the ones that suffer as a result of these sins. I am sure we all have seen people who are sinful and evil, yet it appears they go free, untouched by the legal authorities and blessed with wealth, success and what the world sees as rewards. That may be, but in the end, they will come before the Judge of the World and there won’t be any high-priced shyster to defend them.

For the purposes of this discussion, I would like to define “sin” as mindfully rejecting God’s  instructions and being unrepentant about it, whether that unrepentance is because you choose to not care, or because you have been taught it is acceptable (i.e., the Once-Saved; Always-Saved teaching of many Christian religions.)

Too many religions teach that because God is merciful we can be forgiven of our sins, which is accomplished through faith in Yeshua Ha Mashiach (most know him as Jesus Christ); although this is correct, the implied lesson is that once forgiven, we are “off the hook.” Well, the Bible shows us this is not the case.

David was a person after God’s own heart, yet when he sinned with Bathsheba the child born of that sin was taken by God as punishment; Aaron’s sons were not unrighteous, but when they sinned by offering unknown fire they were killed immediately; Dathan and Abiram were leaders and important men within the community, yet when they were unrepentant of their rebellion against Moses (who was doing God’s will) they were swallowed up by the earth; and we can even include the fig tree Yeshua cursed (Matthew 21:18)  in this list.

In case you are wondering how a tree can sin, the cursing of the fig tree was to demonstrate that someone who pretends to be righteous but is faking it will be judged correctly and suffer for their deception.

Sin always comes at a price that the sinner must pay in this world. The forgiveness we receive from God through Yeshua is only found in the spiritual realm, reserved for the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) where we spend eternity in God’s presence. The horrible truth of the matter is that the forgiveness we receive through Yeshua is not going to grant us amnesty from the consequence of that sin while still living on the earth. This is a hard word to hear, but it is one that we must accept because when we do, we will be less likely to sin again.

The idea that forgiveness through Yeshua means amnesty from the consequence of sin is traditional Christian teaching; I say this because I have never heard this teaching in any synagogue or read it in any Jewish theology book, but I see it all over the Internet and from many Gentiles (Believing Gentiles, too) whom I have met.  This teaching is nothing more than a lie from the pit of Sheol and is setting us up for death. We must always remember that sin is hurtful to us and to others, usually the ones we love.

Don’t be fooled by those who seem to escape the consequence of their sins in this world- you can be sure they will suffer in the next. As for me, I would rather take my medicine now and get it over with, and know that when I repent of my sin and ask forgiveness through Yeshua I will have eternal peace and joy.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Is the Truth Any Good if It Isn’t Practical?

What is “practical“? According to Google dictionary, it is:

of or concerned with the actual doing or use of something rather than with theory and ideas.

OK- so that’s what practical means. Next, we need to know what the “truth‘ is, don’t we?

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The truth is, for all practical purposes, whatever someone wants to the truth to be. I know certain truths from the word of God of which I have no doubt about their meaning, but those same verses which convince me of one truth, convince someone else of a totally different and (often) opposite truth.

So, again, what is the truth? Didn’t Pontius Pilate ask that of Yeshua at his trial? And what did Yeshua answer him? It was in John 18:37-38 so let’s see what Yeshua says the truth is:

 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”  “What is truth?” retorted Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, “I find no basis for a charge against him. 

Wait a minute! Yeshua never told him what the truth is…or did he? He did say that everyone on the side of truth listens to him, and he preached from the Tanakh, so I suppose what Yeshua was saying is that the truth is in the Tanakh- the word of God.

But that brings us back to the first thing I said, which is that the truth comes from the Word of God.

Here is the real truth as I see it: any given Bible verse can mean different things to different people depending on what they want it to mean!

I recently posted on how Bible verses can’t always be trusted; click here to go to that message. It is because Bible verses mean different things to different people that we find the truth so difficult to find.

Here is my suggestion on how to tell what the truth is: is that “truth” practical? Can it be used in everyday life to make a change for the better?

For example, some say that the Mosaic Law was done away with when Yeshua was hung on a stake. Others say it wasn’t, so who is telling the truth? I mean, really- you can’t have both.

If the law was done away with, the practical application of that “truth” would be lawlessness, resulting in a lawless society of Believers (there’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one!) who live their life without law and, thereby, without repentance but they still get to “go to heaven.”

I don’t think so.

On the other hand, if the law is still valid, then those that follow the law would be showing that obedience to Torah in their daily lives., They wouldn’t cheat people, they would be considerate of others, they would respect God and worship him as he said we should, and they would be an example to the world of how God tells us to behave. Not perfect examples, of course, but certainly much better than someone who has no obligation to follow the rules.

I am not making a case either for or against Mosaic Law here- what I am making a case for is that whatever we want to prove as “true”, specifically regarding God and the Bible, if it isn’t something that can be used in a practical way, it probably isn’t a real “truth.” It is more likely someone else’s “truth”, and as such we should reject it.

I read posts all day long from many different people in a half dozen or so discussion groups on Facebook, all of them Christian or Hebraic Root or Messianic, and do you know what I find? Truths that have no value because they aren’t practical.

I see people post the same exact truth over and over, in different ways saying the same thing, and it is always impractical, meaning that they never tell me how to apply it to my daily life? If I know God loves me, how do I apply that when I am going shopping?  If I know God will always care for those that obey him, how will that help me when I am sick or financially strapped?

James gives us a good example of what I am talking about in James 2:16:

Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that?

The same holds true for posting about the wonders and graciousness of God without providing the way to experience or (better yet) demonstrate it to others.

If you believe that you should love your neighbor as yourself, then go out and show others you believe it by giving to charity, volunteering where you can help others, or doing something for someone else without expectation or desire for reward. And remember that Yeshua said when doing a mitzvah or Tzadakah, don’t make a big show of it; don’t let the right hand know what the left hand is doing.

When I used to preach at Shabbat services I led, I always ended up with some practical way for us to be an example of the biblical truth I was talking about. We need to be able to not just teach people about God but to teach them how to live in a godly way. We need to take the truth of the Bible and perform it in a practical way so that those in the dark can see the light.

Just talking and posting about the wonderful things of the Lord is putting a lamp under a cover, if you ask me. Yes, tell us God’s truth but then tell us how to make practical use of that truth in the real world. Our God is not a God of words and ideas, he is a God of action!

Here’s my final word on this: in order for God’s word to be proven as true, we need to take it off the pages of the book and make it practical in the real world.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch haShem!

What “Under the Law” Really Means

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This is not going to be a scholarly treatise on the differences in the Greek words used for “law”, or that Torah means “teaching”, or anything that involves anything more than just some common sense and a basic understanding of God’s plan of salvation.

So let’s start with how God’s plan of salvation works. It’s really quite simple: God gave the Torah through the Jewish people to all people so that we would know two things, and just two things. They are:

  1. How to worship God; and
  2. How to treat each other.

When we do as God tells us we should be doing, we are living in accordance to His will and thereby not sinning. When we do that which God says we should not do, then we are rejecting God’s commandments, which is called “sinning.” When we sin, that sin separates us from God and if we die in our sin we cannot be with Him throughout eternity. Salvation is available to those that ask for it and do not die in their sin.

Salvation starts with the Torah, which tells us how to not die in our sin by staying within God’s will. The problem we run into is that no one is able to live in accordance with Torah, so we all will die in our sin, unless we happen to die as we are exiting the Temple in Jerusalem right after performing a sin sacrifice.

Oh, wait a minute! The Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed! That’s OK because God has us covered for that one; again, all part of the plan.

Right from the start, even before God gave us Torah, He knew this would all happen so He had a back-up plan. That plan is called Messiah. The Messiah would present Himself as a sin sacrifice for all people, and through His sacrifice we would be able to atone for our sin, even though the Temple is no longer available to us. Messiah’s sacrificed “trumped” the animal sacrificial system that was what we needed before Messiah came.

Today we try to live our lives as God told us we should (Torah) and when we fail to do that we ask for forgiveness, which we can receive as a result of our T’shuvah (repentance) and by means of the substitutionary sacrifice of Yeshua haMashiach.

That’s it! God gave the world the Torah (through the Jewish people) and because we couldn’t obey the Torah as we should, He sent Messiah Yeshua (again, through the Jewish people) to suffer the penalty we all (Jew and Gentile) deserve so that we can overcome sin and be in God’s presence for all eternity.

Now that we have a basic understanding of how salvation works, the next step is to understand the difference between being under the law and obedience to the law.

Under the law is a term used in the New Covenant writings to describe a system that understands salvation to be a result exclusively from obedience to rules and regulations. It doesn’t account for a desire to obey as a result of love for God. Faith is not needed in this system because salvation is only possible through performance.

Obedience to the law means that we choose to obey the rules and regulations that God gave us as a means of proving our T’shuvah (repentance) and comes from a desire to please God. It is not a means to gain salvation. Salvation is only possible through faith; we obey because we love God and show that by obedience to His word.

The Torah is the User Manual for staying in God’s will. We obey the Torah because we want to show God that we fear Him (as in honor and respect) and to show others how God wants them to act. We should obey Torah as a love response to God’s kindness, His sovereignty and His authority.

When we are obedient to Torah we are not doing so to “get into heaven”, but because we want to do as God says and because we respect and honor Him.

Obedience to Torah is not a means to be saved, it is a way to show God how much you love Him. In John 14:15 Yeshua told His Talmudim (disciples) that if they loved Him, they would obey Him: everything He taught was directly from the Torah, so to love Yeshua means to obey the Torah.

Can you see the difference now? Obedience to the law is all about faith and desire to please God, whereas under the law is nothing more than a means to an end.

And since no one can be perfectly under the law, those means lead to only one end- damnation.

Many people say they love Jesus, they love the Lord, they love, love, love…but do they ever even try to love God the way He asks them to? No- they excuse and rationalize disobedience to the Torah.

Do you love God? Do you love Yeshua? If so, do you prove it by living the way God says you should, or are you living the way you want to?

Which one do you think God will accept?

“Once Saved, Always Saved” is a One-Way Ticket to Sheol

One of the many wrongful teachings that Christianity has proliferated over the millennia is that we are saved because Jesus (Yeshua is His real name) died for our sins, and when we call on His name for forgiveness we are no longer under the law but under Grace and all our sins are automatically forgiven, now and forever; in other words, Once Saved, Always Saved.

Let’s think about that for a moment…….hmmmmm….so, Jesus died so my sins can be forgiven, therefore I no longer have to worry about sinning because He paid the price of my sins. I am free, I am no longer under the Law (meaning the Torah; you know, that “Jewish stuff”) and now I am guaranteed that I will go to heaven.

In other words, I’m covered. The “J-Man” has my back!

But that is not true. The “Once Saved, Always Saved” lesson actually teaches that we don’t have to try to stop sinning, and we don’t even have to be repentant. In other words, it tells people they are OK no matter what they do because forgiveness is automatic, therefore they don’t have to change.

From this point I could find many, MANY passages in the bible that confirm this to be an absolute lie from the very pit of Sheol (that’s what we Jews call “Hell”), but I won’t. Why? Because I am going to ask us all to just think it through.

CAVEAT: Just because something makes sense to a human doesn’t mean it is right with God. His understanding and knowledge is so far above ours that what we think is sensible He knows to be nonsense, and vice versa, but there are some things that make sense to us that are sensible to God, and can be confirmed in the bible. What we are about to discuss is one of those things.

Let’s start with the fact that sin is bad and we aren’t supposed to sin. No one should disagree with that. Next, we need to agree that we do sin, and that we are incapable of not sinning (if anyone disagrees with that, we have a real problem.) So, where are we? Oh, yeah- sin is bad, we aren’t supposed to sin, but we will, so what do we do when we sin? We atone, and the first step in atonement is to ask forgiveness. Without forgiveness we are stained and thereby unable to come into God’s presence, meaning we got to Hell.

Let’s take a step back for a moment….it is important to note that we have to want to atone, don’t we? That’s called repentance. When we are repentant, we are sorry for the sin we committed. Every sin is a sin against God; we may do something nasty to another person, but that sin is also a sin against God because He told us not to be nasty to each other. King David knew this (Psalm 51): when we do something God said not to so, it is a sin against God.

Next step after repentance and asking forgiveness is to sacrifice, according to the rules and commandments God gave us. Uh oh!- we hit a hurdle with this one; God commanded all sacrifices be made at the temple in Jerusalem, and that place doesn’t exist anymore. So what do we do?

We can’t do anything, but God did do something for us- He sent Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) to be a substitution for the sacrifice at the temple. All the other steps in forgiveness, i.e. being repentant, asking forgiveness (for each sin) and doing T’shuvah (turning from sin) in our hearts, are all still part of the sacrificial system process. The only change is that instead of bringing a sacrifice to the temple (again, for each and every time we sin) we have Yeshua’s sacrifice as a substitution.

When we put it all together, we get this:

  1. We sin
  2. We’ are repentant
  3. We bring our sacrifice to the temple and by the means of it’s innocent blood that is shed we ask for cleansing of our sin
  4. If the sacrifice is accepted God will forgive our sin
  5. We go away cleansed of that sin at that time, and if and when we sin again, we go through the process once more

Yeshua ‘s sacrifice is a once-and-for-all sacrifice, but teaching that it automatically saves us from all our sins (those we have committed and those we have yet to commit), is against the process God outlined. Teaching that asking one time for forgiveness (through Yeshua’s sacrifice) means our sins are forgiven forever negates repentance.

Do you really think that God will forgive someone who isn’t repentant? Do you really think that we can automatically be forgiven of any sin without ever asking to be forgiven? If we are, then why did God say we had to sacrifice at all? Oh, wait- you’re saying that the animal sacrifices were only good for that one time, but because Yeshua is the Messiah His one time sacrifice is good forever? You’re right- His one time sacrifice IS good forever, but it is useless to you if you are not repentant, and when you are repentant you do what?

You ask for forgiveness, over and over and over, every single time you sin. Not every other sin, not only when you remember to ask, but for every, single sin you commit, large or small you must ask forgiveness in Yeshua’s name.

BTW..as far as God is concerned, there are no small or large sins, there is only sin.

When we don’t ask for forgiveness, we demonstrate we don’t really care that we sinned. It’s that simple.

Do you see the logic and sense of it all? To say we are forgiven automatically because Yeshua sacrificed Himself for us is to negate the need for repentance and to ignore God’s process of forgiveness. It is just plain wrong, from any and all angles, and totally against everything we read in the bible.

That is why this idea of “Once Saved, Always Saved” is a one-way ticket to Sheol: those who are unrepentant will not be forgiven. It won’t matter that at one time you called on the name of the Lord and asked forgiveness through Yeshua’s blood; each time you sin you have to ask forgiveness (and MEAN it!); each and every time.

There are warnings about people who apostatize in some of the letters from Shaul (Paul) and in Revelation we are told that most will turn from the faith. Have you ever thought that maybe one doesn’t need to renounce God to apostatize? Maybe all it takes is to ignore what God tells us, or simply do what we want to do, even if it goes against what God says?  Did you ever consider why Yeshua said that there would be some who call Him “Lord” but He tells them He never knew them (Matthew 7:21)?

I think those who believe the “Once Saved, Always Saved” ideology will find themselves in that group, the group of people who call Yeshua “Lord” but He doesn’t know them. The reason He doesn’t know them is because they aren’t repentant; yes, maybe they were at one time, when they first called on His name, but because they think they don’t have to, they haven’t called on Him since. One time doesn’t do it- you need to do it always. Shaul tells us to pray constantly, and that isn’t just for what we want but for forgiveness, too.

I suppose if anyone reading this doesn’t agree or get the point by now, they may never get it. I pray that someone who thinks “Once Saved, Always Saved” has had their eyes opened.

No one wants to be told, “I do not know you” when they see Yeshua in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days.)

Introduction to Messianic Judaism

I am not an expert in Messianic Judaism, but I do hold a Certificate of Messianic Studies (if I paid dues I would “officially” be a Messianic Minister) and I have been a Believer for over 20 years. I have been a Ministry head (Shamash) for multiple ministries and once was “Rabbi Pro Tem” for almost 2 years. I have been at two places of worship over these years and been asked to be a Council member at both. I am currently on the Council where I worship (a Hebraic Roots congregation here in Melbourne, Florida) where I help teach and lead the liturgy with the Senior Pastor.

I say all this not to brag, but simply to validate that what I am writing has some substance, both from theological training and experience.

Now that all that is out of the way, I want to approach those who are new Believers, either in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) or who are already Believers and now feeling the pull back to their Jewish roots, wanting to know more about the truth of who Yeshua was and is, and how they fit (as Gentiles) in God’s plan of salvation.

First off, let’s get the important basics covered:

  1. Yeshua is a Jew, lived as a Jew, died as a criminal on a stake, and was resurrected as a Jew who still worshiped His Father, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The “Jesus” that most Christians know is not the real Yeshua who walked the earth and died for them. Christianity, today, doesn’t come from Yeshua’s teachings, it comes from Constantine’s establishment of the Christian Canon at the Council of Nicene. This is an important truth that you must know to understand why Jews want nothing to do with Christianity. Since as early as 98 AD, the Gentile leaders of the newly forming Christian religion have theologically and ritually separated themselves from Judaism, and persecuted their Jewish brothers and sisters.
  2. Yeshua never said anything against the Torah. His teachings were not as the Pharisees taught, which was only the P’shat (literal meaning of the words); Yeshua taught us the Remez, or Drash, which is the spiritual meaning underneath the written, literal meaning of the words.
  3. When we are “saved” through our repentance and acceptance of Yeshua as the Messiah (whose sacrifice provides forgiveness of our sins), that does not mean we are saved once and forever. When Yeshua died and was resurrected, His sacrifice did not replace the entire sacrificial system designed by God in the Torah. What He replaced was the need to bring a sacrifice to the Temple in Jerusalem: we still need to ask forgiveness from God, the Father when we sin, and that is for every sin we commit. We are sinful in nature, and even though as Believers we do not want to sin, we do. And when we sin we need to confess, repent (do T’Shuvah) and ask forgiveness, which we do now (since there is no Temple) through the sacrifice that Yeshua made for us. Salvation is a free gift from God which He will never take back, but through our lack of repentance (assuming that all sins are automatically forgiven and, thereby, failing to repent of the ones we perform) we can throw it away.
  4. You will get many to argue against what I am now about to say, and ultimately you must study, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and understanding, and make your own decision, but as for me, whatever Yeshua was before He came to earth, conceived by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and born of a woman, when He came out of Miryam (Mary) He was 100% human, and was (and still is) separate from God, the Father. Yeshua is our Lord, but He is not THE LORD. This is clear from all the greetings in the letters Shaul writes (he always says “from God, the Father and Yeshua, the Messiah”- clearly two entities) and from 2 John 1:7:
    1.   “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, people who do not acknowledge Yeshua the Messiah’s coming as a human being. Such a person is a deceiver and an anti-Messiah” (Complete Jewish Bible)

Messianic Judaism is, simply put, living a Jewish lifestyle according to the Torah, and accepting that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised us throughout the Tanakh (Tanakh is an acronym for Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim- the teachings, the writings of the Prophets, and the other writings); remember that “Torah” does not mean “law”, but “teaching” so through honoring God by obeying what is in the Torah we learn what God wants from us, meaning how to worship Him, how to live, and how to treat each other. Most Jews (I call them ‘Mainstream Jews”) will refuse to accept Yeshua because of the thousands of years of bigotry, persecution and misleading teachings that the “Church” has taught their own. I am a Jew, born a Jew by blood, circumcised, a Bar Mitzvah, and living a Jewish lifestyle in accordance with the Torah, yet if I told another Jew (one who doesn’t believe Yeshua is the Messiah) that I believe Yeshua is the Messiah, then that Jew would call me a traitor and a Christian. To a Jew, another Jew who accepts Yeshua is no longer a Jew. Of course that is ridiculous, but it is what they are taught. It is what I was taught, and believed, for over 40 years.

To a Christian, if I say I am “saved by the blood of Jesus Christ” but still obey the Torah and live a Jewish lifestyle, they accuse me of not really being “saved” because I live as a Jew, so I am not “under the blood” but “under the law!” They have ben taught Yeshua did away with Torah. Again, millennia of misleading teachings and lack of understanding.

There are a few books you could find on this topic that will help you. One I suggest is “Hebraic Roots” by Ken Garrison; it is an easy to read history of how today’s Christianity has become totally separated from Judaism. You can also read “The Jewish Manifesto” by Dr. Daniel Stern, as well as his other books, “The Complete Jewish Bible” and his “Jewish New Testament Commentary.”  This will help you understand Messianic Jewish viewpoints and the writings of Shaul (Paul) much better than an NIV or KJV bible ever will.

Finally (since this is just a brief introduction) understand that Judaism is as diverse and confusing as Christianity, in that within Christianity there are so many different religions and within Judaism there are so many different sects. There are the Chasidic Jews (ultra-Orthodox and mystical), Orthodox (the remains of the Pharisees), the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist (mostly interested in the traditions of Judaism.) I include Messianic Jews as a sect of Judaism, but the mainstream Jews won’t. In fact, even within Messianic Judaism, there are different organizations, each one with a different viewpoint of who Yeshua was/is with regard to His divinity, position, etc. There is the  Chosen People Ministries, the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA) and the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC). There are other Messianic organizations, as well, but these three are the major ones you may hear about.

If you look these up in Wikipedia, it will say these are Evangelistic Christian organizations, which is an example of the subtle Anti-Semitic tone that most Christians take towards Jews, even today.

What is interesting is that if you visit a Messianic Synagogue, you will find (as I have in my experience) that the majority of the people there are Gentiles wanting to get back to their Jewish roots and actually live as Yeshua lived. This is the role the “church” has in God’s plan of salvation: to make their Jewish brothers and sisters “jealous” for their own Messiah by seeing the Gentiles (the Goyim, or Nations) worshiping God and honoring Torah as they do, but with the closeness and relationship that Jews cannot have because they maintain their need for the Temple (in Jerusalem) instead of accepting Yeshua as their substitution for the The Temple, through whom they can be cleansed of their sin.

I have given you a lot to think about, and done so in a very blatant, open teaching. If I may add one last thing, my own definition of what Messianic Judaism is to me: Messianic Judaism is Judaism that has come full circle: living as God told us all we should live (as the Torah says) and being saved from the death we all deserve from our sinful lives through the Messiah God promised us he would send, who is Yeshua. I am not a “Born Again Christian”- I am a “Born Anew Jew!”

GOD HAS NO RELIGION!!  He gave the Torah to the descendants of Abraham in order to fulfill the promise He made to Abraham, which was that all people would be blessed by Abraham’s seed. The Torah is for all living beings, and Judaism is a religion only because other man-made religions arose, causing the need for labels.

Finally, please constantly read the bible, verify EVERYTHING (including all I have said) and accept nothing without asking God to show you the truth of it. Always remember that what you hear from people is going to be what they heard from people- rarely does anyone do any real research. People have been misled and lied to by people who thought they knew the truth, and who learned it from people who thought they knew the truth, who learned it from people who…well, you get the point. Humans, if you tell them something often enough, no matter how ridiculous it may sound, will eventually accept it as true.

Good luck, and may God send His Ruach HaKodesh to you to guide you in your journey to find the truth God has for you.

Tradition or Torah?

Besides being fed up with their faithlessness and ignorance, Yeshua’s (Jesus) biggest complaint when He was ministering to the people was that they gave more importance to the Rabbinic traditions then they did to God’s word. It is clear throughout the Gospels how He felt, accusing the Pharisees of hypocrisy, and adding more to what God required (Matthew 23.)

We have known of Yeshua’s request to do what God has said we should do (and to beware of hypocrisy) for centuries, and after all these centuries what have we learned?

Nothing. In fact, back then it was just Jews following Yeshua and Jews not following Yeshua, but today we have so many different religions (all man-made) with so many different laws and canons and requirements and traditions that not only have we not learned, but we have exponentially made it worse!

Jews that didn’t want to follow Yeshua made it hard for the ones that did, then Rome made it worse, so the followers began to separate themselves from the Jews, which led to ignoring some of the Torah. Then they wanted to separate further, and the Council of Nicene developed their own religion, changing the Sabbath, creating their own holidays, and developing Canon, laws, commandments and rituals (all man-made) that took precedence over the Festivals of the Lord that God told us we should celebrate (Leviticus 23.) What they did was to totally ignore God’s commandments, just as Jeroboam did when God gave him the 10 Tribes of the Northern Kingdom (1 Kings 12:2.)

So Christians became Catholics, became Eastern Orthodox and Western Orthodox, became Lutherans, became Protestants, became, became, became, became….until today there are dozens of different Christian denominations; adding to the ones I mentioned above, there are Unitarians, 7th Day Adventists, Latter Day Saints, Methodists, Amish, Mennonites, AME, Baptists (Southern and others), Christian Scientists, Quakers, and the list goes on and on.

Let’s not forget the Jews: Chasidic (different groups within this), Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Messianic (yes, my Jewish readers, Messianic Judaism IS a sect of Judaism:Messianic Jews are not Christians.)

If everyone is worshiping the same God, then how can there be all these different ways of worshiping?  All agree this is the same God, the God that doesn’t change. So, if He doesn’t change, and He told us how to worship Him when he gave the teachings to Moses (which describe how we are to worship and provides penal and moral codes we are to live by), then how can there be so many different ways to live and worship? The Torah is a constitution, but unlike a political constitution which can be amended, God’s constitution is never to be amended. He told us that in Deuteronomy 4:2.

I got on this “kick” by reading Dear Abby, where she was asked by someone who’s Grandmother believed all children need to be baptized, and another granddaughter had a baby that was not being baptized. The writer asked if it would be OK to baptize the baby in secret just so the Grandmother feels better.  Good for Abby!- she told them no way. But here is what “gets” me about this- where did anyone ever get the idea that God would send an infant to hell because it wasn’t baptized? I know that Yeshua said we must all be reborn of spirit and water, but when we read about John (Yochanan) baptizing in the Jordan, it was adults who were coming. There is nothing in the bible that even implies children were there, let alone infants. To even imply God would send an innocent infant or child to hell because some Priest or Minister didn’t have someone else promise that the kid would be raised in that religion (remember- God has no religion, so that promise can’t really mean anything to God) is nothing short of ridiculous! Maybe even blasphemous. The only one who gains anything from the baptism ceremony is the church/priest. From what I have seen, $40 is the recommended “donation”, but then again, you have the textile industry (you need to buy the baby a Baptism dress), the card company, the food industry (“Come back to our place for refreshments afterwards”), and who knows who else makes money from this ceremony?

Baptism, as it is done in the church today, is absolutely wrong. The truth about the Jewish ceremony called Tevilah, which is the baptism Yochanan did in the Jordan, is a ceremony that represents an outward expression of an inner, spiritual cleansing.  It is something that one decides to do, and an infant cannot make that decision for itself. And, since this represents a communion and relationship between the baptized and the Lord, obviously no one else can make that decision for them.

To bring it all together, I believe the traditions that people have created in order to worship God in their own way only pollutes the true spiritual meaning of worship. God told us how to act, to worship, and to treat each other, His laws and regulations are not too hard to follow, they are not too difficult to understand, and they are not to be messed with.

If you really think that God is going to send an infant to hell because it hasn’t had someone pour water on it, you don’t understand anything about God. And because the infant hasn’t made it’s own decision to be baptized, the entire ceremony is really just pouring water on the kid.

I have nothing against traditions- they help to bind us, to remind us, and to keep us acting in a proper manner. It is a comfort zone, of a kind, and when the traditions we form are in keeping with and complementing God’s commandments, they are useful, practical and can be a blessing. But when they take on more importance than what God said to do, and we follow traditions that don’t complement but compete with God’s commandments, then we are blaspheming. We are ignoring God and idolizing ourselves and expanding our own importance.

The tagline for my ministry (this blog) is designed to honor God and get you on the right path: “God has no religion.” God has given us what He wants us to do- no more, no less. And when we add to it or subtract from it, we are telling God that what He says isn’t good enough.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to face God and tell Him He didn’t get it right.

Texas Supreme Court made the correct decision

WHAT??? Steve- are you saying that you are pro-abortion?

No. I am not for abortion- it is murder. What I am “for” is common sense, and to expect that a court of law in America is going to uphold a godly position is not sensible.

From a strictly “civil” point of view, it is illegal to force or coerce someone to make a decision that regards their individual rights. In America, like it or not, a woman has a legal right to have an abortion, within the limitations of the law. Those limitations are based partially upon the premise that the abortion does not risk the health of the mother. The Texas Supreme Court said the laws they ruled against were not designed to protect the health of the mother, but simply to make getting an abortion legally more difficult. That is a coercive measure which impede’s a woman’s personal rights, and it is illegal.

Again, from a strictly legal viewpoint, the court made the correct decision.

We, as Believers, cannot expect to have a government formed by humans to be a godly one. If you do, you’re a fool. In fact, as Believers, we should not want any man-made government; we don’t want a representative republic (that is we have in America-if you thought it was a democracy, technically it isn’t), we don’t want socialism, communism, despotism or dictatorships. What we want is a Theocracy- a government that is led by God.

After the Exodus, God ruled the people, with divinely appointed prophets to be His representatives on earth. God ruled through the Prophets, and we saw how He empowered them with miracles and wisdom. This is the Theocracy that all Believers should want and be waiting for.

When Yeshua returns to reign, we will have what we want.

But that is not what we have now, and don’t think that this is a recent event. Read 1st Samuel, Chapters 9 through 12. Samuel appoints a king, which is what the people have been craving. And in Chapter 12, after Saul is established as king and Samuel is ready to go the way of all things, he really lets the people have it. He tells them, in no uncertain terms, how horrendous a sin they have committed against God by asking for a king, and how they will suffer for putting a human over them instead of God.

Since then, history has proven Samuel correct.

In the meantime, we are bound by Torah, by Yeshua’s command, and by legal statute to honor and obey the existing government. All those in power are there by God’s approval, and they will perform His will, whether they know it or not, sooner or later. God’s plan is the one that will survive and be fulfilled.

If you are expecting the United States government, whether federal or civil (meaning state) to initiate and pass laws that are in accordance to God’s laws regarding the rights of the unborn, then all I can say to you is…get real, People!” Governments that are formed by humans will have human laws and be based on human desires and emotions. Godly things, you know, like compassion, respect for others, love, fairness to all, and respect for the Torah- those things have no place in human-formed government. Oh, yeah- we make a big stink about them, talk like we mean to have them and we are all about fair and just, but when it comes down to it, well…you decide. Do you think that our system of justice is honoring the Torah or ignoring it?

When the Jews came out of Egypt, totally under the command and totally obedient to God alone (well, maybe not totally but usually?), we enjoyed living under His sovereign rule and had His divine protection. During the times of the Judges (about 5 Centuries or so after Joshua died), the book of Judges tells us that men did whatever they saw as right. It wasn’t pretty.

Then, as I referenced above, Samuel is told by God to anoint Shaul (Saul) as king: this was the first step to kicking God out of our lives.

Moving forward a few thousands years, we have many religions, all trying to kill each other, and we have many states and countries with different forms of government. Those that said they were for God and wanted to do God’s will are represented by the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Nazi party (yes, the Nazi Party- the belt buckles of the Nazi uniform said, “Gott mit uns”, which translates to “God is with us.”)

Historically, governments that said they were godly were just the opposite.

Today we have kicked God pretty much out of everything- out of the schools (no prayer allowed), out of the courthouse (take those 10 Commandments down- they are religious and we have separated state from church) and out of our families. Today when Jews marry someone of a different religion, it is the Jew that is usually converting. The “Nuclear Family” has done just what nuclear devices are designed to do- blow up. Eating dinner together around the table and sharing the day’s activities is a past relic.

And, as the Texas Supreme Court has upheld, people can legally kill their children. It reminds me of God commanding us not to worship Molech: the sacrifice to Molech, a god of the Semites, was to throw a young child, alive, into the fire. We may not be throwing our children into the fire, but we aren’t that far off- we are still killing them, just sooner than the ancients did.

The world is godless, as it should be- that is, if you believe in what Revelations tells us will happen. I see such horror and destruction- not just of things and people, but of spirit, justice and compassion. Our children grow up stealing cars and murdering prostitutes on the way (video game) or destroying and killing in war (video games, again.) They see violence, satanic beings that are really “okay”, and sexual impropriety every day on the TV and in the movies, and they have become inured to the horror of it all.

They are being prepared for the enemy to rule them.

This is God’s plan, people- this is what is supposed to happen. It ain’t nice, it ain’t pretty, and it is going to get worse- MUCH worse: be prepared to be persecuted if you worship God.

Don’t expect to see justice and fair treatment in the world; at least, not the kind God wants.

The bowls are in the hands of the angels, and the seals are being torn off the scroll. We are going through it, we are about to experience it- can’t you see it coming?

The End Times prophecies aren’t prophecy any more- they are current events.

Parashah Emor (Speak) Leviticus 21 – 24

There is enough in here to fill a book. I could write a whole chapter of a book just on Leviticus 23, the designations of the Holy Days…oh wait! I already did- it’s Chapter 7 in my book.

God tells Moses and Aaron the requirements for priesthood: about who they can marry, keeping clean (ceremonially) and who may eat of the holy foods. He also tells them those who serve must not have a blemish or an unnatural (today we would say challenged) physique.

It also, as I mentioned above, designates the Festivals of the Lord, the 7 Holy Days (not holidays, but Holy Days- read my book) that God has separated and commanded us to observe:

The Sabbath

Passover Passover is not 7 days long: it is just from the evening meal until midnight, when the angel passed over.

Hag Ha Matzot The next seven days are called Hag ha Matzot, the Festival of Unleavened Bread. First Fruits is also celebrated the first day after the first Shabbat after Passover starts.

Shavuot Festival of Weeks, which includes the counting of the Omer and is celebrated by Christians as the Pentecost (50 days). For Jews it celebrates also the giving of the Torah, although that is civil, not biblical.

Rosh HaShanah The bible declares this day as Yom T’Ruah, the memorial celebration with sounding of trumpets. The civil holiday it has become is a new year celebration. According to God, the new year begins 14 days before the Passover, with the month of Aviv (now called Nissan)

Yom Kippur The Day of Atonement is when we ask God to move from the Seat of Judgment to the Seat of Mercy and forgive us for our sinfulness and the sins we have committed. Of course, we are to ask forgiveness every day, but this was a special time, and the only time that the Cohen HaGadol, the High Priest, was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies.

Sukkot The Festival of Tabernacles is when we build small tabernacles, or open roofed shelters and live in them for a week, to recall the way we lived in the desert for 40 years. Today (not from Torah but a Rabbinical add-on) we also celebrate Sh’mini Atzeret, the Eighth Day, also called Simchat Torah (Joy of Torah). On that day we read the final lines of the Torah, then while the congregation sings (and dances in some synagogues) the Torah is turned back to the beginning, and the cycle of reading starts all over again.

The one thing I want to discuss today is at the very end of this parashah. Leviticus 24:22, where God says:

Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for the home-born; for I am the Lord, your God

This command is one of the most important of all commandments in the Torah, as far as I am concerned, because it signifies clearly that God makes no distinction between your geographic origin, your parent’s beliefs, or whether you are white, black, or multi-colored: as far as God is concerned, His laws are for everyone and it doesn’t matter where you are from or how you were raised. There is only one God, Adonai; there are only His rules and laws; like them or not, you are subject to them if you say you worship Him.

If you profess to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob then these laws are for you. Period.

Most, if not all, Christian religions teach differently, and any religion that says these Holy Days do not need to be observed or that any part of the Torah is not necessary, by definition that religion cannot be worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

If you are being told the Torah, the holy days in Leviticus 23, or that the Old Covenant is all just “Jewish” stuff, then you need to find out who you are worshiping, because it ain’t the God Moses worshiped!