Send Messiah a Thank You Card

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I was reading Dear Abby the other day and a Grandmother wrote that she is upset her teenage grandchildren never send her a thank you card for the gifts and money she sends them. Abby agreed it was wrong and said when people do not send thank you’s for gifts they receive, the message it sends is that the receiver of the gift has no respect or appreciation for the gift or the sender.

When I read this I thought how nice it would be to send Yeshua a thank you card. After all, he gave me the greatest gift anyone could- eternal joy in the presence of the Almighty. It is wrapped and I already took possession of it, which anyone else can do with their gift of salvation at any time they want to, although it does have a card that says, “Do Not Open Until After the End Times.”

Of course, we can’t really send him a thank you card- we don’t have his email address and the post office delivers nationally as well as internationally, but not spiritually. So what can we do?

How about we do what he said we should do in order to show our appreciation? He told us this in John 14:15 when he said:

If you love me, keep my commands.

The problem here is that too many different religions will argue over what his commands were. That’s a shame because he never really made any commands- he always quoted from and obeyed the Torah. So, his commands were what we find in the Torah.

If you wanted to, you could say his only real commandment to us is found in Matthew 22:36-40. This passage starts with a man asking Yeshua what is the greatest commandment, and Yeshua’s answer is:

Yeshua told him, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength. This is the greatest and most important commandment. And a second is similar to it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two commandments.

And even these commandments are not original: the first one is found in Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and the second one in Leviticus 19:18.

Do you want to send the Messiah a Thank You card for all he has done for you?  If you do, then all you need to do is obey God’s commandments in the Torah as best as you can.

Obedience is not the way to get to heaven (faith is), but every Torah commandment you do obey sends a “Thank You” card to Yeshua.

Parashah Tzav 2018 (Give an order) Leviticus 6:1 – 8:36

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As we continue in Vayikra (Leviticus), God gives the orders and commands regarding the daily offerings, specifically the wholly burnt, meal, guilt, peace and thanksgiving offerings.

The procedure and requirements for anointing of the Priests and the Cohen haGadol (High Priest) are given, and Aaron and his sons are anointed by Moses.

There are so many different things we could discuss in these few chapters, but since in this year (2018) Passover falls next Friday night, I would like to talk about the Passover lamb and its significance in the sacrificial system.

Yeshua (Jesus) has been referred to as the “Passover Lamb” for centuries, and His sacrifice is the means by which we are able to be absolved of our sins, so why is He called a “Passover” lamb? The lamb sacrificed on Passover was not a sin sacrifice.

We are told the requirements for the 5 different types of sacrifices outlined in Leviticus; by definition, Yeshua’s sacrifice was a Thanksgiving, or Peace sacrifice. We know this because only the peace sacrifice was eaten by the one bringing the sacrifice. In all the other forms of sacrifice some of the animal was given to the Priest as his compensation, with the remaining parts either burned on the Altar or removed and thrown away. Only the Peace sacrifice was also shared with the one bringing the animal.

Yeshua’s sacrifice was a sin sacrifice, and also served as a Passover sacrifice; in fact, His sacrifice fulfilled three sacrifices: peace, sin and wholly burnt. Of course, His body wasn’t consumed by fire, but His entire body was sacrificed (which is what was done with the wholly-burnt sacrifice.)

The wholly burnt sacrifice represents our complete devotion to God- no question that Yeshua was completely devoted to His Father in heaven.

The sin sacrifice is the means by which we are forgiven our sins when we do T’shuvah (repentance) and ask God for forgiveness (now by means of Yeshua’s sacrifice.)

The peace offering is how we enter into communion with God by sharing the meal made from the sacrifice, which we do at the Passover Seder.

Can you see how Yeshua’s once-and-for-all sacrifice accomplished all three types of sacrifice? Through our acceptance of Yeshua we can show our complete devotion to God, receive forgiveness of sins and enter into communion with God.

Does this mean we shouldn’t call Yeshua the “Passover Lamb” anymore? I think it is still appropriate to refer to Him that way, just as it would also be appropriate to refer to Him as the Yom Kippur goat.

Personally, I prefer to use “lamb” other than “goat” when I refer to Yeshua, although from a technical perspective either would be correct.

For those that will celebrate the Holy Days of Passover and Hag ha Matzot, I pray you thoroughly enjoy this festive festival. I am always afraid I will accidentally eat something with yeast during the week of this festival, and have done so, once or twice, in the past. I hope it is easier for you to keep away from leavening than it is for me (I just LOVE bread!)

Donna and I have different people to our Seder every year, and we usually try to have Gentile friends who have not enjoyed this Holy Day. Every single couple we have shared our Seder with, for nearly 20 years now, has enjoyed it and it has helped them to get closer to their Jewish roots.

I may be a week early, but…Chag Sameach!

Salvation: Ours to Keep or Ours to Lose

There is a saying that has led many to think they are saved when they may be sabotaging themselves.

That saying is: “Once saved; Always saved.”

It is a lie from the pit of Sheol, which has separated many from the truth of the Gospels and made impossible the proper worship of Adonai.

The Day of Jubilee is on Yom Kippur for a Good Reason

This Shabbat (29 September, 2017) is also Kol Nidre, the first evening of Yom Kippur. As such, the traditional Torah reading is Leviticus 16:1-34 which are the rulings regarding this day.

However, I am going to talk about Leviticus 25: 8-10, which goes as follows:

You shall count seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the time of the seven weeks of years shall give you forty-nine years.  Then you shall sound the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month. On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land.  And you shall consecrate the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you, when each of you shall return to his property and each of you shall return to his clan.

The Jubilee Year is designed to allow every Israelite to return to take possession of his ancestral land, and to be freed of any and all debts that he has incurred. It allows him  and his family to restart their life in their own home and without any debt. The economy of this action is remarkable: it prevents land grabbing, it maintains a working class, it establishes a moral economy, and it prevents people from being sold into slavery forever. It maintains a family standard of wealth, in that their property will always revert to them, at some point in the future, if they should ever fall on bad times.

It is not unlike the biblical prophecies regarding the Children of Israel that state no matter how many times they are conquered, or how far from home they are dispersed, their homeland and their own, personal property will always be there and one day God will bring them back to it.

Yom Kippur also allows us to restart our life debt free; not free from owing money to someone, but free from the debt we owe to God for our sins.

When we sin we owe God restitution- whether it be blood of the innocent, grain, 1/5th additional to what we took, or any combination of those things. What we owe Him is more, though, than just things- we owe Him our life. When we sin we separate ourselves from God, and our eternal life is then forfeit. The only way we can be reunited and gain back our eternity is to pay the debt. Yom Kippur provides us a single point in time where we can know that our debt will be paid off and we will start anew.

The Jubilee Year and Yom Kippur have this in common- both free us from debt; the former from worldly debt, and the latter from spiritual debt. The year when Yom Kippur and Jubilee fall together is certainly a joyous occasion, even though Yom Kippur is a solemn event.

In case you were not aware, 2017 is a Jubilee Year, and starting on Saturday evening, 9/30/2017 all Jews are to receive back their ancestral lands. I live in Florida, in the United States, and don’t even know what tribe I belong to, but I do know this: I will be forgiven of my sins and somewhere in Israel is a plot of land that belongs to me.

As a Messianic Jew who has accepted Yeshua ha Maschiach (Jesus Christ) as my Savior, you may ask why I need to fast or worship on Yom Kippur. After all, didn’t Yeshua die for our sins? Yes, He did, but He didn’t change the commandments. Yom Kippur, including the fast, is still a commandment of God and all who worship God should obey it. Not because I believe, as my fellow  “mainstream” Jews do, it is the only means of forgiveness, but simply because it is commanded. I think we should also fast and worship as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people, most of whom have not accepted Yeshua, to show them that believing in Yeshua doesn’t mean one is no longer an observant Jew. Most any Jew will tell you, if you are Jewish and believe in Yeshua as your Messiah, you aren’t a Jew anymore because you have to be a Christian if you believe in Jesus. It’s really sad- they don’t even know what the term “believe in Jesus” means!

Today is a very, very special day- the Yom Kippur of Jubilee Year! We are freed from debt to Man and to sin, and we can start our lives afresh, clean and unencumbered.

Of course, this is a spiritual statement; I don’t suggest going to the local bank branch and insisting that because this is the Yom Kippur Jubilee Year you would like the deed to your house. I think you will find yourself on the sidewalk.

One last note: since Yom Kippur is all about forgiveness, I also suggest there be one other type of debt you relieve yourself of. That is the onerous debt of unforgiveness for others. Starting at sundown tonight we will be praying and fasting, asking God to move from the Throne of Judgement to the Throne of Mercy and to forgive us the debt of our sins, which we owe Him. We must, therefore, also forgive those that owe us a debt of sin, whether they ask for it or not.

Remember Matthew 6:14-15:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Remember also the parable in Matthew 18:23-35 about the man that was forgiven a large debt and refused to forgive one who owed him only a little. It didn’t go well for the one who refused to forgive. It will be the same for you and me if we refuse to forgive, so on this day, more than on any other day, as you pray to God for forgiveness, think also of those that have sinned against you, and forgive them!

Believe me, please, when I say that the heaviness of spirit we feel when we have monetary debts is nothing compared to the emotional emptiness you feel when you are unforgiving.  Debts can be paid, after which they are just a memory, but unforgiveness is a poison that eats away your heart, little by little, until you can’t even love anymore.  It destroys all your relationships, and it hurts everyone you care about and who cares about you.

So celebrate the forgiveness you receive from God by forgiving others, especially those you have refused to forgive because they “don’t deserve it.” It doesn’t matter what they deserve because your unforgiveness separates you from God, and when you forgive them you will be reunited with the Lord in joy, the pain of being hurt will be gone, and a great weight will be lifted.

Forgiveness brings us closer to God, both when He forgives us and when we forgive others.

Parashah Emor (Speak) Leviticus 21-24

This parashah continues to teach the relationship between the Priests and the holy things, as well as rules regarding cleanliness when approaching, and appropriate condition of sacrificial animals for, the Altar.

Chapter 23 is the chapter that defines the Festivals of the Lord. These are the only Holy Days, as I define them, in all of Judaism or (frankly) any religion that professes to worship the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. All other days of celebration are holidays- meaning they are man-made, not God declared. That is my personal way of identifying the difference between, say, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah: the former is a Holy Day, the latter is a holiday.

What I want to talk about today is not the obvious “juicy” topic- Chapter 23-but one of the last lines in this parashah. The final verses recount a non-Israelite cursing God and being stoned to death for it, and God giving us the following commandment regarding how we are to administer justice in Leviticus 24:22:

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

If you were to ask me what is the one, defining difference between Christianity and Judaism, with respect to the bible, I would answer with this verse. That’s because, as a general rule, Christianity has rejected their need to obey the Torah, citing the forgiveness given by Yeshua (Jesus) as over-riding the Torah.

There is a truthfulness to the statement that Yeshua is the means of our salvation; it is by forgiveness of our sins, which His sacrifice made possible.

But that doesn’t mean Torah is not important, valid or necessary anymore. Yeshua, Himself, confirmed Torah observance throughout His ministry and after every healing, and His Talmudim (Apostles and Disciples) that followed Him also confirmed Torah in their teachings. It has been the misinterpretations and wrongful teachings over the past 20 centuries that have caused such a rift between Christianity and Judaism with regard to the ways in which we are to worship God.

One rule for everyone, one law administered justly to everyone, whether a natural Jew, or a convert, or a non-Believer, or an agnostic, or a Satanist: all people are God’s children, and under God’s authority, and as such are to be treated the same with regards to the administration of God’s justice, which He defined and outlined in the Torah. And why should everyone be treated the same way?  Because “I am the Lord, your God“, meaning that there is one God, and what He says is right for someone, is right for everyone.

Obey the Torah, or not obey the Torah?: that is the question. The answer is: both. Huh? Both? מה עשה אתה אומר? (What did you say?)

Both, because we are all commanded to obey the Torah, but none of us can (completely) obey the Torah. As hard as we may try, still, we fail. That is when we sin (when we fail to obey, whether by attempting and failing, or by simply not even trying), and that is when the forgiveness for sinning (assuming you are repentant) is made available. It is available because God loves us all enough to want to forgive us, and Yeshua’s sacrifice made it possible to be forgiven without having to obey one part of the Torah; specifically speaking, the laws involving bringing our sacrifice to the Temple, which doesn’t exist anymore.

Yeshua told us that those who sin and teach others to sin would be better off if they threw a millstone around their necks and jumped in the river. I am sorry to say that teaching others to sin is exactly what “The Church” (meaning most of Christianity) has been doing since Constantine’s day. The prominent teaching that “Torah is for Jews and Christians have the Blood of Christ” is, essentially, teaching people to ignore the Torah. And the next step is to be unrepentant about ignoring the Torah.

Now, it’s bad enough to ignore God’s commandments, which is a sin, but to go as far as to teach to sin and not concern yourself about it?;  that it is OK to ignore God’s commands?; that you are going to heaven no matter what the Torah says? Well…woe be to you, Church Fathers, for you have sinned and caused others to sin. And when we sin and don’t care that we sinned, isn’t that is being unrepentant? And if you are unrepentant, do you really think you will be forgiven?

This is a scary thought for me, and I try to obey Torah. If you are reading this and have been taught to ignore Torah, then this thought should give you reason to change your underwear!

I am not saying everyone has to get circumcised, or start to eat according to Kashrut (Kosher) laws, or wear Tzit-tzit (although none of that would hurt anyone), but I am saying that we should realize God has told us how we all are supposed to live and worship Him, and that even if we do not follow all His commandments, we should try to. Eating ham will not send you to hell and refusing to eat ham will not guarantee heaven, whether you have accepted Yeshua or not. As I have said many times, Yeshua’s sacrifice has made forgiveness possible, but we have to be repentant, we have to perform T’shuvah, and for our repentance to mean anything we have to demonstrate it’s legitimacy through our good works. Obeying Torah as best we can is as good a “good work” as you can perform.

It boils down to this: one God with one set of laws for everyone; one Messiah providing the only means of salvation for everyone; and what you will do is your choice.

Just don’t forget that God will hold you, alone, responsible for your choices- “just following orders” will not count for anything come Judgment Day.

Parashot Acharey / Kedoshim (after the death / holy) Leviticus 16-20

This double Parashah deals with the rules regarding Yom Kippur, then gives us regulations and commandments regarding appropriate inter-personal relationships, such as moral standards against incest, adultery, and homosexuality (to name a few.)

Of all the laws and commandments, rules and regulations within these chapters of the Torah, the most important (and maybe best known) is Leviticus 19:18:

” Thou shalt not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of the people, but shall love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the Lord”

This one statement is the foundation for three of the most important teachings of Yeshua:

  1. To not take vengeance is in accordance with Yeshua’s teaching that we should turn the other cheek;
  2. To not bear a grudge is what Yeshua taught us when He said to leave our sacrifice at the alter and first make things right with our brother if there is any animosity between us;
  3. To love they neighbor as thyself is, clearly, the Golden Rule.

Here we have the basis for nearly every moral law and action we need in order to become Kadosh, holy, as God is holy.

I have read articles and seen TV shows that try to degrade the value of these moral and ethical laws, saying they weren’t originally from God because they existed in other, older civilizations. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t- it would seem likely they were already being practiced by others, to some degree, because they are so basic to civilized living. But no where else had there been a written set of laws that were so humane regarding how people should treat each other, whether in inter-personal relationships or under a penal code.

Today some of these laws are questioned, even rejected, by society. We are told some are misogynistic, some are racist, some are hateful (this is usually used against the laws against homosexuality) and some are outdated.

Outdated? Since when did morality and ethical treatment of each other become outdated? Well, you know, maybe they’re right: when I read the papers or hear the news, whether local or international, it seems that society’s morality and ethics are being defined by those that have none. The way God wants us to act towards each other isn’t the way the world wants us to act.

Despite the many good laws still on the books, how many loopholes are there now that allow lawbreakers to go free, or barely suffer for their crimes? And when they do go to jail, instead of being given a chance to repent, they are just receiving a higher education in criminality. A person may go to jail as a beginner, but he or she can come out with a PhD in crime, learning from the experienced criminals that are already there.

Yeshua told us how to be holy: love God and love each other. That isn’t always easy; in fact, sometimes it seems darn near impossible! But we can get better at doing this as we keep trying.  Maybe that is what makes us holy? trying to do what God wants instead of not even caring what He wants.  Being holy isn’t having an aura around you, or a halo over your head- it simply means being separated. The world doesn’t care what God wants, so if we care, and demonstrate that care through our words and actions, then (by definition) we are holy. And the more we do, the better we get at it, and the holier we become.

That’s the ticket- care about what God wants, and care more for what He wants than for what the world, or even you, want. If we can do that, all these morale and ethical rules and regulations will automatically fall into place for us.

That’s what Yeshua meant in the second part of His teaching: love God and each other, for on that pivots all the Prophets and the Writings.

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 V’yikra (And He called…) Leviticus 1-5:26

We begin the second book of the Pentateuch with the regulations regarding the offering of a sacrifice for atonement of sin.

Now that the Sanctuary has been completed and is in service (end of Exodus), the use of the altar and initiation of the sacrificial system is to begin. The animals allowed to be used as sacrifice are domestic animals which are clean (which will be identified later in Chapter 11, although even in Noah’s time it was already known which were clean and unclean; see Genesis 7:2.) Wild animals were not allowed because they cost the person nothing, and unclean animals were not allowed because they were, well…unclean. Also any animal that kills other animals is unacceptable, or if the animal had killed someone, such as if a bull had gored someone to death, even if it is a “clean” animal it would now be unfit to be used as a sacrifice.

God gives Moses the instructions for the burnt offering (the entire animal is burnt to demonstrate total devotion to God), thanksgiving offering, sin offering, and guilt offering.

The sin and guilt offerings are both for having sinned against God (all sins are sins directly against God, no matter who we actually sin against in our personal relationships), but the sin sacrifice was more specifically for sins such as false witnessing, becoming impure, failing to perform an oath, or failing to do as God has prescribed. The guilt offering was for sins against any of the holy things of the Sanctuary, whether intentional or not.

In all the sacrifices God has made provision for the poor, in that they are allowed to offer an animal that is in accordance with their ability to pay, i.e. a wealthy person would be required to bring a bull, whereas a poor person would be allowed to sacrifice doves or grain.

I think the way the sacrificial system works has been one of the most misunderstood things in the bible, and that is frightening when we consider that our very salvation is rooted in this system. The sacrifice was made to cleanse us of the sin we have committed, and when we sin again, we need to confess, ask forgiveness and offer the sacrifice in order to be forgiven. Most people “get” that, with regards to the Old Covenant system, but don’t really see how it relates to Yeshua’s (Jesus) sacrifice.

Under the old system, God commanded the sacrifice had to be made at the entrance to the Sanctuary, and later at the Temple in Jerusalem. After the Temple was completely destroyed by the Romans in or around 73 AD, there was no longer the opportunity to be forgiven. Imagine how devastating that was to the Jewish community! For those who have accepted Yeshua as their Messiah (back then as now), the need to bring the sacrifice to the Temple was no longer necessary because Yeshua’s sacrifice was a once-and-for-all sacrifice.

Here’s where it gets all screwed up: many Christian religions have been teaching that Yeshua did away with the sacrificial system and that we are now made clean by His blood, which is true, but they imply that there is nothing else that needs to be done. This is not true- you still need to try not to sin, to do T’shuvah (turn) from your sinful activities, and continually ask for forgiveness because the forgiveness of sin is available, but it is not given until the sin is confessed and forgiveness requested.

The sacrificial system is a threefold process:

  1. You come before the Lord and confess your sin;
  2. You offer the sacrifice;
  3. You ask for forgiveness, and to be made clean, through the shedding of the blood that you have just presented before the Lord.

The only part of this that Yeshua completed already is the second step- the sacrifice- but we still have to recognize and confess our sins, and ask for forgiveness by means of the blood of  Yeshua.

Don’t be suckered into the teaching that because of Yeshua you are clean forever- you can be, but you aren’t: you still have to confess your sin and ask forgiveness. Forgiveness through Yeshua is available for the asking, but it is not automatically given. That is what much of Christianity teaches, that you are automatically cleansed before the Lord by means of Yeshua’s sacrifice…..WRONG!!

You are not cleansed until you confess your sin, do T’shuvah (repent), and ask to be cleansed.

The sacrificial system is still in effect, only modified by Yeshua, in that now we do not have to take our sacrifice to the Temple in Jerusalem. We still have to confess, repent and ask forgiveness.

As I said above, and I feel it is so important to remember: Yeshua made forgiveness available for all, and for all time, but it is not given automatically.

Forgiveness is self-centered

We usually think of a person who is forgiving as a compassionate, selfless being who loves people more than him or her self.

Not really.

Forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood emotions in the world; well, at least I think that. Why? Because we have been taught that it is important to forgive someone who has hurt you so that they can feel better when they apologize. We see forgiveness, often, as something we do for their sake, but the truth is that we need to be forgiving for our own sake.

God has commanded that we be forgiving of others; read Matthew 6:14

 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

God is very clear, as Yeshua (Jesus) tells us, that we MUST forgive others their sins against us or we will not be forgiven.

The Lord’s Prayer that precedes this verse tells us we should pray for God to forgive us as we forgive others (And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors), which is a statement of quid pro quo. In other words, when we pray to God (in the way Yeshua told us we should) we are telling God that He should forgive us in the same way we forgive others. So, obviously, if we are unwilling to forgive others then we are telling God it is OK to treat us the same way, i.e., do not forgive us our sins against Him. 

Yowsa!! Does that mean that even a person who has been Born Again, who has asked for forgiveness from God through Messiah and received it, can still be treated as one who has not been forgiven when he or she comes before the Throne of Judgement?

Seems that way, doesn’t it? I believe we are being told that when we pray to God to treat us as we treat others (think about Leviticus 18:19), yet we are unforgiving, then He should not forgive us, either. And that doesn’t mean forgiveness is revocable, it simply means we have told God it is OK to treat us the same way we treat others.

And here’s another important aspect to this: it makes no difference, whatsoever, whether or not the sinner asks us for forgiveness.

Essentially, we are permitting God to ignore His promise of forgiveness because we, ourselves, have failed to be forgiving. God is not reneging on His promise, we are rejecting it.

Scary, isn’t it? So, now can you see why forgiveness is self-centered? The very foundation stone of our forgiveness by God is the forgiveness we extend to others. If we refuse to forgive, we will not be forgiven. And that makes sense, when you think of the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:23-35.

Besides ensuring our own salvation, forgiving is the only way to release the pain. Understand, also, that when you forgive you don’t have to trust again- those are totally different things. Forgiveness is from God to us, and then from us to others, but trust is something that every individual has to earn.

This is also important to understand: your forgiveness of someone doesn’t make that person right with God, it makes YOU right with God. God is the only one (well, Yeshua also) who can forgive sin, and the sinner will have to ask for it from God, directly. If they repent and ask you to forgive them, it will make you both feel better, but overall it makes your relationship with God stronger and secures your salvation.

Forgiveness of others has nothing to do with the other person, and everything to do with you and your relationship with God, and will affect your salvation. So, Nu? -what could be more self-centered than that?

And you know what else? In this case, it’s OK to be self-centered.

 

Parashah Bo (come) Exodus 10 – 13:16

The plagues continue, with locusts, darkness and the final plague, the death of the firstborn of Egypt.

Moses is instructed by God what the Israelites must do to be protected from the angel of death, for even though Goshen had been protected from the other plagues, it seems that the angel of death was over everyone and everything, and only the blood of the Passover Lamb would protect you from death. They are also told to sacrifice the lamb, and to make sure that the sacrifice is eaten in the prescribed manner, with nothing left over, and only those who are Israelites, or slaves and sojourners with Israel who have been circumcised may eat of this meal.

After the death of all the firstborn, both men and animals, Pharaoh lets the people go. They plunder the Egyptians, who give willingly, and leave the very next day. Moses reminds the people of the Passover regulations, commanding them to teach this story throughout all their generations and to eat the Passover meal (Seder) every year according to the way it should be done, with no leavened products for a week.

The term “The Passover Lamb” is first introduced to us in this parashah. To the Jewish people, the Passover Lamb represents freedom from slavery to Egypt, and is a very important part of our history. Because the Temple no longer exists, and the Torah specifies that the Passover Lamb had to be sacrificed at the Temple, we do not eat lamb at Passover; the usual dish chosen is chicken.

I have this great recipe for baked chicken: grease a pan, place the cleaned chicken pieces in the pan and spread butter over them. Sprinkle on salt, pepper, garlic powder and fresh parsley flakes. Bake at 375 for 45-60 minutes, or until the skin is browned and bubbling. YUM!!

The Passover Lamb means freedom from slavery to Jews, and to Christians it is a reference to Yeshua, who sacrificed Himself to free us from a different form of slavery: slavery to sin.

Now here is the interesting part: the Passover sacrifice was not a sin sacrifice- it was a thanksgiving sacrifice. There are 5 types of sacrifices:

  1. Whole Burnt Offering
  2. Meal Offering
  3. Peace Offering
  4. Sin Offering
  5. Guilt/Trespass Offering

The first three offerings are voluntary, and the last two are mandatory for atonement from sin. The main difference is that of all 5 sacrifices, the only one where both God and the person sacrificing shared of the meat was for the Peace, or Thanksgiving sacrifice. This was representative of the communion between man and God.

Yeshua’s sacrifice was clearly one made for the atonement of sin- it was most representative of the wholly burnt sacrifice, since His entire body was given to God. But wait! If the sacrifice Yeshua (Jesus) made was a sin sacrifice, why is He called the Passover Lamb? The Passover Lamb sacrifice was a peace offering, a Thanksgiving sacrifice, and not a sacrifice to atone from sin. So, then, is calling Yeshua the Passover Lamb really accurate?

Not from a human timeline, but since God is not subject to any timeline, we need to look at another specific sacrifice to find the complete relationship opportunity that Yeshua’s sacrifice made possible. That sacrifice is described to us in Leviticus 16- it is the Yom Kippur sacrifice. We are told to have 2 goats (not lambs)- one to be sacrificed and one to be released into the desert after the people have placed upon it’s head their sins. The goat that was chosen by lot to be sacrificed had it’s blood used to atone the alter and the Most Holy Place, and the rest of it was a burnt sacrifice. I checked the Chumash and did not see specifically where it mentioned if any portion of the Yom Kippur lamb was to be given to the Priests, but since God says that we are all to afflict our souls ( fast), clearly this had to be a wholly burnt sacrifice, with no parts being eaten by the Priests.

As we can see, Yeshua’s sacrifice was more like the Yom Kippur goat, not the Passover Lamb, so which is it? Did Yeshua’s sacrifice cleanse us of our sins, or bring us into communion with God?

The answer is: it has done both of these things at one time.

The way I see this working is that Yeshua took on our sins, as the Yom Kippur goat does, and freed us from sin when He sacrificed Himself on Passover. The Passover Lamb sacrifice was a Thanksgiving, or Peace offering which allowed us to commune with God. But, communion with God is not possible when we are covered in sin, so first we must have the sin removed. Only after we have been cleansed of our sins can we have complete communion with God and come into His presence. Under the Sacrificial System one had to perform two, separate sacrifices to attain this state of communion, but with Yeshua’s sacrifice both were accomplished, at once.

Yeshua is the Passover Lamb, which was a lamb chosen by man whose blood would protect them from death, and He is also the the Lamb of God, the Yom Kippur lamb chosen by God (through throwing lots) to atone for the sins of the people. He is both of these: God chose Yeshua to atone for the sins of the people, and when you choose Yeshua as your Passover Lamb, then you have both atonement of your sins and protection from death (not the first death, of course, but the second death, which is for all eternity.)

PS: Next week Donna and I will be on our annual anniversary cruise so I will not be blogging. Have a great week, and I will be back on February 13.