What Are New Wineskins, Really?

I have read the Bible many times, and every time I came to Matthew 9:16-17 I always wondered what it really meant. As I was reading this passage again the other day, I asked God to show me what it meant, and I believe he has.

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Before I tell you what he showed me, let’s look at this passage, together:

No one patches an old coat with a piece of unshrunk cloth, because the patch tears away from the coat and leaves a worse hole. Nor do people put new wine in old wineskins; if they do, the skins burst, the wine spills and the wineskins are ruined. No, they pour new wine into freshly prepared wineskins, and in this way both are preserved. 

Most of the Christian interpretations I have heard say Yeshua was making the point that his teachings and commandments are new, and override the existing, older commandments. The new patch and the new wine are now the commandments that we must obey, and (again, this is a Christian interpretation) therefor the old laws and traditions have been done away with to make room for the new ones.

Of course, being Jewish and Messianic, I know that this interpretation is false. First off, Yeshua taught from the Torah, and if he had said or done anything that even implied we shouldn’t obey the Torah, then he would have been in rebellion against his Father, God, and in sin. If that was true, then his sacrifice would not have been accepted, and we all would be in a lot of trouble today. Fortunately, that isn’t the way it is.

Secondly, although Yeshua did speak against many of the traditions of the elders, which later would become Talmudic doctrine and practice, he did not universally condemn all traditions. For instance, we know he celebrated the Festival of Lights, which is a traditional, man-made holiday and not even in the Bible.

So, what did Yeshua mean when he said new wine has to go into new wineskins?

He meant that his teachings, which were based entirely on the Torah, were being interpreted in a new way. And, as such, he couldn’t properly “fit” them into the old wineskins, meaning the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were too used to and comfortable with their understanding to accept what he was saying.

The “new wine” he taught was the spiritual understanding of the Torah, called the Remes. This is from a Jewish method of biblical exegesis called PaRDeS, which represents different levels of meaning. There is the Pashat or literal meaning of the words- what you see is what it means. A deeper understanding is Remes or spiritual meaning. For instance, Yeshua said we have been told not to commit adultery (Pashat) but when we lust with our eyes, we have already done so (Remes.) The other levels, Drash (a story with a spiritual or moral meaning) and Sod, which is such a deep meaning it is mystical.

The new wineskins are the Am Ha’aretz, meaning the people of the land, those who are not formally trained in the Torah and the Tanakh. These are receptacles that can accept the new wine because they haven’t been “stretched” to their limits from having contained the older wine. These new wineskins were familiar with the traditions, but not affected by them so much that having known them they were not able to accept new wine without bursting. That is why Yeshua prayed:

I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you concealed these things from the sophisticated and educated and revealed them to ordinary folks. (Matthew 11:25)

Today, the knowledge of God’s word is not much more, and probably a lot less, than it was in those days. Christianity has so skewed and misinterpreted the meaning of the letters from Shaul (Paul) and taught disobedience to God’s Torah that the world is more sinful and decrepit than ever. Instead of serving the wine of truth, traditional Christian teachings have caused people to become drunk with the beer of hedonism and ignorance.

Christians (I am not talking about every Christian, but I do mean most of them) need to become new wineskins; they need to be able to accept that what Yeshua taught did not do away with the law, but confirmed it! That means to let go of the teachings that Christians have been filled with, such as Sunday Sabbath, Christian holidays, and Constantinian doctrine and practices, and become new wineskins able to accept the new wine of proper interpretation of Yeshua’s teachings, and of the Epistles in the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant.)

Yeshua’s teachings may be considered new wine, but it was the exact same vintage as the Torah; all Yeshua did was market it differently.

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Until next time we are together, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Why No One Understood Yeshua

Yeshua (Jesus) taught from the Torah, which was very familiar to the Jews in the First Century, so why is it, then, that we are constantly told no one understood His messages? Even the Apostles, His closest friends and followers, had to ask for an explanation.

Perhaps it was because He was teaching the “advanced” course, and they were all still just learning the basics?

Parashot Vayak’hel/Pekudei (He gathered/Countings) Exodus 35:1 – 40:35

In order to be in alignment with the Gregorian calendar, some Torah readings are doubled, as in the case of these last 6 chapters of Exodus. This dual parashah (hence, Parashot in the title) minutely details the finalization of the building of the Sanctuary. We are told that the people, who just committed the terrible sin of the Golden Calf, have now turned their hearts back to God. They give the necessary materials for building the Sanctuary (cloth, skins, precious gems and metals, etc.) with so much generosity and zeal that the workers have to ask Moses to command that the people stop bringing these items, as there is far too much material for the workers to use.

The manufacture of the separate parts of the Sanctuary is completed, and God decrees that it be assembled on the first day of the first month, which is the first of Aviv (now called Nissan), the spiritual New Year. After erecting the Sanctuary, Moses anoints the building, the items in it and the Priests. After doing so, God’s Shekinah glory so fills the tent that even Moses is not able to go inside. From that moment on, the cloud stays over the tent to show that God is ever-present (during the day it was cloud, and at night the cloud was filled with fire. Imagine how awesome that must have looked!), and when the cloud was withdrawn, it went ahead of the Israelites to lead them to their next destination.

In Chapter 39, verse 42 we are told that when Moses inspected all the work the people had done, he saw that they had done everything God commanded, exactly as God had commanded them to do. Then Moses blessed them.

To me this is a very important statement, that not only had the people done all that God said should be done, but they did it as God had told them to do it– not how they thought it should look, not with whatever materials they wanted to use, or with colors they preferred, but they did it all, just as they were commanded.

Are we like that today? In my opinion, we are far from that. Look at all the different ways we have created to worship God: all the different religions, rites and regulations not found anywhere in the Scriptures. Even within Judaism, we have Chasidic, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Messianic sects. Yes, all read the Torah but all do not follow the commandments the same way. Yes, all are “Jews” but the Messianic Jews are not considered Jews by the other “mainstream” sects, and from some Chasidic viewpoints, they don’t even consider the Orthodox as real Jews because they are more relaxed in their observances.

As anyone who reads this blog knows, my message to the world is this: God has no religion! People have created religions, and each one worships differently than the other, so by definition we can’t be at the same place the Children of Israel were when the Sanctuary was built- we are not all doing what God said we should, exactly the way He said it should be done. Not one of us.

Some are closer than others, and (I am not being prejudicial here) the Jews are the closest of all, mainly because their foundation for worship is based solely on the Torah. Most Christian religions have their foundation built upon the writings of the New Covenant, and they (again, not meaning to be unfair or judgmental) for the most part ignore the Torah. Funny thing, though, is that they don’t realize there is nothing in the New Covenant that is different from the Old Covenant; in truth, everything Yeshua (Jesus) taught is solely from the Tanakh (entire Old Covenant) because that was the only Word of God that existed.

God gave the Torah, through Moses, to the Jewish people in order for them to do as God wants us all to do- they were supposed to show the world how we all are to behave. God called the nation of Israel to be a nation of Priests and, as such, examples to the rest of the world regarding how to worship Him and how to treat each other. Torah was given to the Jews, but it is for the whole world.

The Tanakh (the Old Covenant) is sort of a “Torah 101” class for the world.

A few millennia later, along comes Yeshua, the Son of God and Messiah to the world. He is sent to the Jewish people because they are God’s Chosen nation, and have already had the prerequisite class, Torah 101. Now, it is time for Yeshua to teach the advanced class, Torah 202. Since this was an advanced class, everything He taught was based on the previous teachings. He goes beyond just teaching Torah by using the entire Tanakh to demonstrate who He is and to instruct the Jewish people so they can have a more advanced understanding of Torah. The Jewish people knew the P’Shat, the written words, of the Torah but did not understand the deeper meanings; Yeshua taught the Remez and Drash of the Torah (for a detailed description of Torah exegesis, click here: Pardes), which is why He used parables and riddles.

You see, Yeshua wanted to give the people a deeper understanding of what God was saying to them, and these lessons were very advanced. By using parables and riddles, which require deep thought to find and understand the answer, He was teaching them the tools they needed to be able to more completely understand the Bible. I think that is why Yeshua was surprised that after three years with Him, His own Disciples did not understand the meaning of many of His parables. Ultimately, as with His Disciples at that first Shavuot after His resurrection (Pentecost), it is after we have the Ruach Ha Kodesh, the Holy Spirit, within us that through that Spirit we can see the deepest meanings of God’s word.

Moses blessed the people for doing what God said to do, the way God said to do it. If Moses is willing to bless for doing as God said, think how much more willing God will be to bless for doing as He says! In fact, if you read Deuteronomy 28, you will get a detailed listing of all the blessings God will shower on you for acting in accordance with the Torah. But don’t stop there- read on to learn of all the T’souris (curses) you will suffer if you refuse to obey. God won’t really do all those bad things to you because that you get just for living in the cursed world we live in. God’s blessings are protection from the world, and we have that protection when we walk under His wings, i.e. obey His word in the way He said we should.

I am not saying that anyone who is not strictly in accordance with the Torah will go to Hell- no one can live strictly in accordance with the Torah, which is why we needed the Messiah! Duh! What I am saying is that God will send more blessings to you, the more you are in obedience to His instructions. Yeshua’s sacrifice covers our sin, but only when we are truly repentant of that sin; if you think that Yeshua died for your sins so you can live your life any-old-way you want to, you are in for a very unpleasant surprise!

It’s really simple: God gave the Torah to the Jews to show the world how to be. The closer we are to observing the Torah, the more blessed we will be; it should be no surprise that the converse is true, meaning that the further away we are from Torah observance, the less blessed we will be. Ignoring the Torah entirely will result in eternal damnation.

As with everything else, you need to make up your own mind: do you want to be more blessed, or less blessed?