Right Relationship is More Important Than Being Right

I just had three wonderful days with my two sisters visiting me. One from North Carolina and the other from Austin, Texas. I am the middle child (which probably explains a lot) and we each had our differences growing up, although my (8 years) younger sister didn’t have the same “issues” with either of us as my (2 1/2 year) older sister and I had.

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We all three have different ideas about many things, and each of us, separately, has been upset by or upset with each other about one thing or another over the years. But here’s the point: we forgive each other and continue to work on having a good relationship instead of dwelling on whatever thing had upset us.

The important thing for everyone is to be able to forgive automatically so that we can maintain our family (and other) relationships, even through tough times. This is also a biblically correct thing to do, as we are not commanded to ask for forgiveness, but we are commanded to (or, at least, warned we’d better) forgive each other.

Most of us know the “Lord’s Prayer” in Matthew 6:9-13, right?  “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done”, ….got it?  Well, do you remember what Yeshua said after he gave that template for prayer? Let me help you; it’s Matthew 6:14-15:

For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours.

Forgiveness is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves, and it is the glue that holds people together when certain acts or words try to tear them apart.

I am so very, very grateful to God for always giving me a forgiving heart, even before I knew him. I was able to reconcile with my mother long before she passed away, and have been able to maintain friendships for decades, more than a handful going all the way back to elementary school, all because I have learned to forgive people.

I know people who have not reconciled with family, and when the opportunity to do so was gone, they realized what they missed. The fact that once someone is dead you can never fix that relationship can often be devastating.

And here is another important fact: forgiving people is not supposed to be a reaction to someone asking for it. You are to forgive those that hurt you whether they ask for it or not!  

That’s right- you are to forgive them whether they want you to or not, whether they even care if you do or not. Your forgiveness of them doesn’t have anything at all to do with what is going on between them and God, but it has everything to do with what is going on between YOU and God.

My older sister and I have very different views on many things, especially politics, and we tend to walk gingerly when we discuss them. And often the room starts to heat up, and when that happens we simply agree to not agree. Because, even when things get a little “heated”, we will not allow it to affect our feelings for each other or our relationship because for us, being together is more important than being “right.”

What is important is that you maintain your good relationships, try to reconcile the bad ones, and remember that you don’t need to be right with people but you do need to be right with God.

And the only way to do that is to read the Bible so you know what God wants from you.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

What Does God Really Want From Us?

I was reading Isaiah 56 the other day and thought about what he was saying.  It starts with “Here is what Adonai says:” and goes on to tell us:

Observe justice, do what is right, for my salvation is close to coming, my righteousness to being revealed. Happy is the person who does this, anyone who grasps it firmly, who keeps Shabbat and does not profane it, and keeps himself from doing evil.

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As I was thinking about how simple a commandment this is, I realized that God really doesn’t expect or demand too much of us. Let’s take a look at what God tells us he really wants from us…

Matthew 18:4– Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 

Micah 6:8– He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Leviticus 19:18– Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. 

Exodus 19:5– Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. 

Deuteronomy 11:27– There will be blessing if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I am giving you today.

Malachi 3:10- Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

There are many, many more instances throughout the Bible where I can find the same kind of message from God, but these should suffice to show that what God really wants is humility, love, and obedience. That’s it! That doesn’t seem to be too much, does it? It doesn’t require a PhD in Theology; you aren’t commanded to know how to pronounce God’s Holy name; there’s no extra credit for being able to read ancient Hebrew or to know Greek.

In fact, it is even easier than what we have already seen to find salvation through faith by doing what Yeshua told us to do:

Matthew 22:36-40Yeshua replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments: what does that mean? Does that mean that loving God and others is enough? No! And the reason I say “No” is because too many people throw the word “love” around like it is a hot potato and cry at the top of their lungs how they love the Lord and they love Jesus and call each other “Brother” or “Sister”, or even “Beloved.”

Then they go home and do whatever they feel like doing, eat whatever they feel like eating, ignore the Sabbath and celebrate only those holidays that they like.

To love the Lord is to obey his commands- God told us that throughout the Tanakh and Yeshua confirmed it. Yet, even in trying to be obedient people will create their own problems.

We have seen in recent times many Gentiles desiring to get back to the Jewish Roots of Christianity because they realize just how far afield modern Christianity is from what Yeshua taught. That is a good thing. However, what is bad is that in their zeal they have created a new form of the same type of legalism that Shaul (Paul) fought against when Gentiles first started to accept Yeshua and learn about God’s instructions in the Torah.

Here is what is so remarkable about this: in the beginning, it was the Jewish Believers who were telling the Gentiles that they had to be absolutely obedient to every word of the Torah. Today, it is the Gentile Believers who are telling everyone else, including Jews, that they have to be absolutely obedient to every word of the Torah. And they have taken it one step further than that: just a few examples are arguing about lunar calendars, how we must pronounce God’s Holy Name, and why the names we have always used for God and Messiah are wrong. These matters have nothing to do with salvation, but to these people they (apparently) do.

Despite my exhaustive search throughout the Bible, I have not found where God says you must know how to pronounce his Holy Name to be saved. I found nothing that requires us to know the exact day of the week Yeshua rose from the grave to receive blessings and eternal life. I tried and tried but didn’t find even one commandment which says if we begin a Holy Festival based on a lunar calendar that isn’t the exact same one used in ancient Israel, then our celebration is unacceptable to God.

And I looked and I looked and I’m sorry, but I couldn’t find where God tells us our salvation is based on knowing anything other than that he wants us to be faithful, humble, to love each other and obey his commandments.

And, just for the record, there is no place anywhere in any Bible that says when you tell the “truth” you are allowed to be nasty, judgmental, accusatory or insulting. If you want to use that age-old, cliche’ excuse that Yeshua told it as he saw it, then first live your life exactly as Yeshua lived his. You want to talk as he did, then live as he did; if you aren’t doing that, then either be nice or shut up!

As far as serving God is concerned, I recommend using the KISS rule (Keep It Simple, Schlemiel) and just live your life trying to humbly accept God’s authority and show both God and people that you really mean it by obeying him and loving others, meaning treat all people with justice, compassion and patience.

I know that isn’t as easy to do as it sounds, but on the other hand, it ain’t that hard, either.

Thank you for being here and please go to the right-hand margin and click on the SUBSCRIBE button to be notified next time I post something. Please also go to my YouTube channel using the link above and subscribe there, as well.

I welcome any comments- just be nice- and I look forward to the next time we are together.

Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

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.

Having Control Doesn’t Always Mean Being in Control

Sorry- no video today.

I have spent the majority of my working life in charge of people. Sometimes it was only a handful of people, like when I had 7 people working for me processing securities for a major New York City bank. We were responsible for making sure some $60 Billion every day went where it was supposed to go.  When I was in the Marine Corps I was a Company Executive Officer, and at that time I was responsible for 365 men and millions of dollars of equipment.  And over the years, I have had management positions in and out of sales and banking. I finished my last 10 years or so in IT and I was happily not in charge of anyone.

What does this have to do with today’s message? It is the important lesson I learned while managing others: even when you are in charge and in control of what happens, sometimes you have to give up control so that others can learn how to be in control.

I once asked God to remove any lustful thoughts from my mind. Now wait a minute! I wasn’t some sleazeball leering at every girl that walked by; really, I wasn’t. I was trying to not look at all- you know, do what Job said he did (Job 31:1.) And after praying for God to excise this part of my brain, the answer came to me as a small voice in the back of my head.

The answer was, “It doesn’t work that way.”

Huh? I am praying for something that is a righteous prayer, something that will help to make me holier and I am praying in the name of Yeshua ha Maschiach- I have filled in all the blanks, answered all the questions and even should get extra credit for using the Hebrew name! Why won’t you just do it?

Again, an answer came: “Because if I do it for you,  you won’t learn how to accomplish the hard things you need to do.”

God is in control of everything, but in this case, as with my own work experience, he ceded control to me. He left control up to me so that I could learn a valuable lesson- how to exercise and strengthen my self-control by listening to and obeying the Ruach Ha Kodesh.

There have been many people who reject God because of some trauma in their lives. They cannot reconcile that a loving, compassionate God would allow such bad things to happen to them. They do not understand that God’s love is not like human love. Most of the time human love is more destructive than helpful. We dote upon each other, we overly protect our children from emotional and physical pain. When parents do not teach their children the hard lessons of life they are not preparing them to survive in a fallen and cursed world. This is why there is such a feeling of victimization in the younger generations: “It’s not my fault”, “Society caused this”, or “My parents made me this way.” No accountability, no responsibility. And why is this? Because they were not given control of themselves and , more importantly, they were not held accountable for what they did or said.

God will cede control of events and action to humans so that we can learn for ourselves how to be in control. You cannot teach someone how to lead if you never put them in a position of leadership. And the hardest part of this is allowing them to screw it up. Even when you know what they are about to do will not work, you still have to let them make the mistake because that is really the only way humans learn. It is exceptionally rare when someone is wise enough and has enough emotional maturity to learn from someone else’s mistakes.

Suffering and emotional hurt is something we all will experience during our lifetime. I don’t believe we ever get over really painful events, but we can get past them. To do that we need to have inner strength, and that only comes from regularly being exposed to life. It’s like when you want to have bigger muscles so you lift weights and do so to the point where you actually destroy (traumatize) the muscle. As it recovers, it adds more of itself so that it is able to handle more stress in the future. That is why people who constantly use their muscles have big ones.

God is absolutely in charge of and capable of controlling everything that happens…but he allows us to be in control of things so we can grow, spiritually and emotionally, into strong leaders and self-controlled saints of the Most High.

Don’t immediately blame God for bad things that happen in your life; if what happens is a wonderful blessing, then you can give credit to God and you should thank him. The world will not bless you so when the bad stuff happens, well….just look at it as a learning experience and grow from it. Look to and call upon the Ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit) to give you strength and guidance to get by.

One last point: a good manager will allow his or her people to get themselves into trouble as a learning experience, but not so much trouble that they cannot be pulled out of it. Trust in God to know best how much control he will cede to you; he will test you through fire so that the dross will be burned away, and even though you may think the fire is too hot you can always call on God for help.

Just like in Matthew 14:28-31, when Yeshua was walking on the water:

Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

God will show us what we are to do, let us try it and if (and when) we start to sink, he will rescue us. He will give control over to us so we can learn to be stronger and holier.

That’s what good parenting is all about.

 

 

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?

God’s Love is Not the Enabling Kind

God is compassionate; God is loving; God is not just willing to forgive, but He really wants to forgive.

But God’s love is tough love, and no matter how badly He wants to forgive us, we will suffer when we reject His guidance and commandments.

You won’t ever hear God ever saying, “Oh no- not my baby! My baby is a good boy.” as they drag the mass murderer to prison.

When Does Your Right Conflict with My Right?

A White Supremacist, Richard Spencer, was at the University of Florida campus the other day for a speaking engagement. There were hundreds of protesters, extra police brought in, some violence (by the protesters) and the Governor declared a state of emergency before Spencer even showed up.

This ministry, Messianic Moment, is not a venue for political activity or opinions, but I couldn’t let this one event go unmentioned.

I am not going to talk about racism; I want to talk about the right to free speech, and when that right should be ignored.

Here are some examples from the past when free speech was legally blocked:

The Alien and Sedition Acts were four bills passed by the Federalist-dominated 5th United States Congress and signed into law by President John Adams in 1798. … The Federalists argued that the bills strengthened national security during an undeclared naval war with France;

The Sedition Act of 1918, enacted during World War I, made it a crime to “willfully utter, print, write, or publish any disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language about the form of the Government of the United States” or to “willfully urge, incite, or advocate any curtailment of the production” of the things “necessary or essential to the prosecution of the war.”

Currently there are legal exceptions to free speech: one cannot publicly use obscenity, child pornography, use fighting words and offensive speech, make false statements of fact, incite illegal activities, and under certain conditions regarding the government cannot talk about work, national security, etc.  Of course, these things do happen, proving that what is illegal is not always policed.

The best known example of an exception to free speech is that you can’t scream “FIRE!!” when sitting in a crowded room if there isn’t any fire.

Getting back to the U of F event, the freedom of speech given to Mr. Spencer caused violence, cost the state (probably) tens of thousands of dollars in extra security, property damage and police salaries, and the protesters also spent their own money making signs that, truthfully, were saying things which everyone else already knew.

I would have just told Mr. Spencer that he isn’t welcomed here. His right to free speech and public assembly would infringe on the rights of the general public to their safety by creating a potentially violent confrontation. Even if his words are not inciteful, the message he presents is, and as such does not qualify as “protected” speech under the Constitution.

I believe this country is so obsessed with protecting the rights of the “little guy” that they are abrogating the rights of everyone else.  There are examples everywhere (too many to list) of someone (usually a member of some minority group) claiming their rights have been violated, and consequently trying to get the courts to force the other party to give up their rights in order to appease the plaintiff.

It is the case of the squeaky wheel getting all the grease.

If it was up to me, I would have told Mr. Spencer, “Thanks, but no thanks. Take it somewhere else.” And if he didn’t like that, tough! And as for the people that went to protest, I think the best way to protest someone saying things you don’t agree with is simply don’t go to hear them. Doesn’t that make more sense than showing up, causing a violent scene and costing the state money? Besides that, the violent actions by the protesters gave credibility to his message of supremacy!  He was just talking, they were being violent- who’s the hateful one now?

If protesters just didn’t go, then the only people that showed up would be the ones that agreed with him, and his whole engagement would have been nothing more than “preaching to the choir”- a total waste of his time. And to top it off, the university could have charged him to be there, so instead of the state wasting any number of thousands of dollars, the racist would have paid to have no one show up. Again- doesn’t that make more sense?

The bible tells us we shouldn’t stand by and allow evil, but does that mean we have to go out of our way to protest a speech that is by someone who advocates hatred? Yeshua said we shouldn’t throw pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6), and told Shaul (regarding his persecution of the new Believers) that one shouldn’t kick against the goads (Acts 26:14.) The message is that we shouldn’t waste our time and wisdom fighting against something when we can’t win. There will always be bigotry, hatred and racism so long as there are people in the world. If we were all one skin color and one religion, we would then separate ourselves by eye color, or shape of the nose, or size. It doesn’t really matter what the object of hatred is, there will always be hatred. There will always be love, too, and these two opposites will fight against each other forever.

Love is stronger, but because hatred is easier it will often win out. Sad, but that’s the way it is, and it will be that way until Yeshua rules.

From a spiritual standpoint, I would say we should ignore these events. Don’t go to protest something you disagree with because that will only make it more visible. And if you are in a position to refuse an audience to someone who is preaching what you believe to be sinful, evil or just plain wrong, don’t allow their right to speech overrule your right to speech- speak up and say, “NO: you are not welcome here. Go somewhere else.” If you hear someone speaking hatefulness and biblically incorrect rhetoric, ignore them. The best way to win an argument is to not start one. Personally, I think the biggest insult any one person can give to another is to pretend they just don’t exist.

We are to be a light to the darkness, and in order to do that we must be in the darkness. But there are times we must realize that some darkness will never allow the light to shine. The racist and hateful darkness in the world is often times like a Black Hole, which is so dense light cannot escape it.

Don’t fall into a Black Hole; choose your battles, and don’t waste your time fighting against stupidity and hatred. Instead, ignore it and give it nothing to work with.

Let your speech and godly actions be like water on those fires of hatred, and you will be the light that you need to be.

 

Special Reading for Sukkot- Chol Hamoed (Weekday of the Festival) Exodus 33:12 – 34:26

This reading is from the parashah Ki Thissa, and recounts Moses asking God to stay with the Israelites as they travel through the desert. Moses also asks God to show His Glory, which God agrees to do but Moses can only see His back as He passes by. God tells him He will put him in a cleft of a rock and cover Moses’ face as He passes because no one can see God’s face. As God passes He declares (what in Judaism is called) the “13 Attributes of God’s Nature” to Moses, and (consequently) to us. The reading ends with God reiterating commandments regarding idolatry, ransom of the first-born, not allowing intermixing with other cultures, the Shabbat, the festivals of Shavuot, Bikkurim (First Fruits) and Sukkot and certain Kashrut (Kosher) laws.

The way Moses prayed when he asked God to forgive the sins of the people is one of the most identifying aspects of Jewish prayer: we pray communally, not individually. Moses certainly was not one of the sinful, rebellious types that were rampant within the million or so Israelites he was leading, but yet when he asked God to forgive the sins that they (not him, but they) committed, he included himself with them. Jewish prayer is communal, we know that in God’s eyes we are one entity, one nation, one people, and when one of us sins we are all covered with that sin. It is one of the things that is really unique about the Jewish relationship with God. This is not meant as an attack or accusation, but most every Christian prayer I have ever heard is on an individual relationship with God; it is a one-to-one, personal relationship that doesn’t include anyone else, take responsibility for anyone else, or even acknowledge anyone else as part of that relationship. When a Christian prays for forgiveness it is only for themself.

In Judaism we pray differently. Yes, we ask God for forgiveness of our own sins, but we also always take responsibility for the sins of the nation. On Yom Kippur we recite the Ashamnu prayer which translates as “We are guilty”; the prayer “Act for the Sake of” ends with asking God to act for His sake if not “our” sake; the Al Het (All Sins) prayer is a recitation of every sin you could ever think of, and we ask for forgiveness of each one, but (as I said) it is not “For the sin I committed in Your sight”, but it is “For the sin WE committed in Your sight”, and what is repeated throughout this prayer is:

ועל כלמ, אלוה סליחות, סלח לנו, מחל לנו, כפר-לנן  (Forgive us all sins, O God of forgiveness, and cleanse us.)

Jewish prayer and relationship with God goes way beyond just “You-and-me.” And even though we pray as a nation, we still have a personal relationship with God: being one people doesn’t mean we aren’t each uniquely loved and known by God.

After Moses has interceded for the people and gained God’s forgiveness, God hides Moses in the rock cleft and passes by announcing His 13 attributes (these definitions are from my Chumash):

1. and 2.- The Lord, the Lord. The Rabbis interpret this as meaning God is the same before we sin, and the same after we sin, indicating that change must be from the sinner’s heart because God is the same all the time;

3. God– the allmighty Lord of the Universe;

4. Merciful– full of affectionate sympathy for the sufferings and miseries of human frailty;

5. Gracious– assisting, helping, consoling the afflicted and raising up the oppressed. In Man these attributes are temporary but with God they are inherently eternal.

6. Long-suffering– slow to anger and not rushing to punish the sinner but affording opportunities for the sinner to retrace his evil courses;

7. Abundant in goodness– plentiful in mercy and blessing beyond what Man deserves;

8. Truth– eternally true to himself pursuing His plans for the salvation of mankind and rewarding those who are obedient to His will;

We need to take note that the Hebrew used here is “v’rav chesed v’emet“: loving-kindness (rav chesed) comes before truth (emet), indicating that we are always to tell the truth, but to tell it in love.  We see this message often in Yeshua’s teachings and the Epistles of the New Covenant…Gee, I wonder where they got it from?

9. Keeping mercy unto the thousandth generation– remembering the good deeds of our ancestors and reserving reward to their descendants;

10. Forgiving iniquity– bearing with indulgence the failings of Man;

11. (forgiving) Transgression– deeds that spring from malice and rebellion against God;

12. (forgiving) Sin– the shortcomings of Man due to heedlessness and error; and

13. Will by no means clear the guilty– no matter how willing or how strongly God desires to forgive us our sins, He is also holy and will not allow the impenitent to go unpunished.

 

So nu…  there you have it! You want to know God? Here He is. This is what God wants us to know about Him, and for me that is all I need to know about Him. I think the most important attributes we human beings (and especially worshipers of God) need to remember above all are long suffering and willingness to forgive. The old saying, “To err is human; to forgive, Divine.” is absolutely in line with Torah.

We are to imitate God, but (of course) we can’t imitate God- He is eternal, spirit, holy and ineffable. But we can imitate some of His attributes, such as His forgiveness, His charity, His love for others, His desire to help the needy and to prosecute the guilty. Love of righteousness and hatred of evil: these things we can imitate, and I believe God wants us to do exactly that- imitate those of His attributes which we can imitate!

God gave us this “To Do” list, so let’s get to work on it.

 

God Likes Being a Partner

God is awesome. He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and doesn’t need any help from anyone. Whatever God needs to have or wants to do He can make happen with a thought.

Still and all, throughout the bible we see that God wants companionship with His creation. He wants us to be holy, as He is, so that we can be in His presence. He wants us to obey His commandments so that we can live; not so much in this plane of physical and mortal existence, but more importantly in His plane of existence, which is spiritual and eternal.

That is why He formed covenants with us. A covenant needs (at least) two sides to it. A covenant is, by its very definition, a partnership.

There are some things He has just out-and-out given us: He gave the land of Israel to the Jews, He gave Solomon wisdom, He gave the world His only begotten son, and He gave us all the Torah. These things God gave us, unconditionally, and so that we can partner with Him. Other things God gave us are from His covenants, which are conditional aspects of our partnership: there are the commandments in Torah, which when we obey we receive blessings as a result. God also partners with us through prayer, through family relationships that are centered around God, through community work that helps the poor and widowed, and through fellowship with others which helps to honor and glorify God.

The most important partnership is, of course, the one we form with God through Messiah Yeshua, which grants us forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

It’s true that God wants us to worship Him, and that is evident throughout the bible. But God doesn’t want us just to worship Him from afar or for fear of reprisal- He wants us to worship Him so that we can be with Him.  He wants us to walk in His presence, to talk with Him, and to fellowship with Him through friendship and thanksgiving offerings. These offerings aren’t for His benefit or use- as we said earlier, He doesn’t need anything because He can create whatever He wants. The offerings are for our benefit: they help us to exercise and grow our faithful love for God. Think about it in human terms- when you love someone you want to do things that please them, right? When you perform a “Labor of Love” it mutually strengthens the bonds of affection. The same is true regarding our relationship with God, so when we do what He has told us pleases Him (check it out in Micah 6:8) we are strengthening our partnership with the Almighty.

This is a very easy message to understand: God loves us and wants us to love Him back, of our own free will. He offers us the chance to partner with Him so that we can live eternal lives of joy and peace and does so through His Torah and His son, Yeshua ha Mashiach (Jesus Christ). It is up to each and every one of us to choose life, because the only other choice is death.

I am blessed in that I have the three best partners anyone in the universe could ever want: God, Yeshua and my wife, Donna. I love them all, I want to please them all, and I will continually do my very best to carry my weight in this partnership so that we can all be together, forever.

My partnership with God was formed when I accepted Yeshua as my Messiah, and since then I have done my best to do what pleases God, and in return He “has my back.”  Who’s got your back?