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.

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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!

 

Jesus Proves Salvation Comes From Torah

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I know what you’re thinking…”Huh?!? We all know that salvation is from Messiah Yeshua and that we can’t be saved by Torah”

Or maybe you’re thinking that the “cross” is our salvation?

Or maybe you are thinking that salvation is through faith and not through works?

Or maybe you are thinking that Jesus did all we need when He died for us?

If you are thinking any of these, well…you’re right. We are saved by Messiah’s sacrifice, which was proven acceptable to God because He was resurrected.

And you’re right that faith and not works (alone) is the way we are saved, BUT we still need to be obedient. God told us in the Torah how we are to worship Him and treat each other, and we aren’t excused from obedience just because we accepted Yeshua as our Messiah.

So, nu? How does Jesus prove that we can be saved by Torah?

Simple- He was saved by Torah! 

Let’s take this one step at a time:

  1. All mankind is born into the original sin of Adam and Eve.
    1. In Judaism we also believe this: Talmud tells us we are all born with the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination.) When we are at the age we are able to study Talmud and Torah, we develop the Yetzer Tov (Good Inclination.)
  2. Mankind was given the Torah by God, through the Jewish people, so that they could act in accordance with God’s will, thus securing eternal life. To obey Torah is to remain sinless, and to do what is forbidden in Torah is to sin- that has never changed.
    1. God tells us throughout the Tanakh, especially by the Prophets, that He wants us to repent and turn from sin so that we can live. God isn’t all that interested with the finite, so when He says “live” He is talking about eternity.
  3. Yeshua was born of a virgin who was impregnated by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), so He was born sinless (not having the stain of original sin.)
  4. Because He was sinless when He died, Yeshua was resurrected by God to show that God’s promise of eternity with Him by obeying the Torah was true.
  5. Yeshua’s resurrection can mean only one thing: Yeshua received salvation because He lived His life completely obedient to the Torah.

It is only through Yeshua, because of His righteous life and acceptable sacrifice, that we also can achieve salvation. We cannot be saved by Torah ONLY BECAUSE WE CANNOT OBEY THE TORAH PERFECTLY. 

So you see, because Yeshua obeyed Torah perfectly He was resurrected to eternal life, which we call “salvation.” If He hadn’t obeyed Torah, if He had sinned, then His life would not have been acceptable as a sacrifice for us, just as a lamb with a blemish would not be an acceptable sacrifice. And if you are thinking, “Yeshua is the son of God- He would always have been able to return to God.”, then why bother living a sinless life?  In other words, if Yeshua did not give up His divinity and submit Himself to death (which the bible says He did), then He didn’t risk sinning. But Isaiah tells us (Chapter 53) that Messiah is a man of troubles, who knew illness and suffering- God is above all that.  You see, Yeshua had to be 100% human, with all the human weaknesses and frailties in order to prove that Torah was trustworthy.

In order to be a real sacrifice, He had to be able to die without a guarantee of resurrection.

The mission of the Messiah is to bring God’s people back into communion with God. To do that, because of our iniquity (desire to sin) we all need someone to bridge the gap between us and God. That is what Yeshua did, and He did it by showing us that the Torah is the roadmap to salvation. By living a Torah-perfect life, He was “saved”, and through His salvation we can all come into God’s kingdom.

So, nu?  Does that mean I can be saved by Torah alone? Yes, if you could live it perfectly, but since no one can… NO, it doesn’t mean you can be saved by Torah alone.

Does that mean I don’t need to obey Torah at all?  NO, it doesn’t- we all need to be obedient to the Torah because it is God’s commandment that we must, and to ignore or reject Torah is an unrepentant sin. Unrepentance is a wedge between us and God that even belief in Yeshua will not remove. No one who is unrepentant of their sin can be saved.

So then what is my point? It is this: Torah is still valid, it is still part of God’s plan of salvation, and it is what Yeshua taught us we should obey. We can’t do it as He did, but through His accepted sacrifice (which was because He lived Torah perfectly) we can still be saved even when we fail to obey Torah perfectly.

And through the indwelling of the Ruach haKodesh, we can be strengthened to overcome our iniquity and comforted when we fail to.

As I often say: we can never be sinless, but we can always sin less. Yeshua has saved the world from it’s iniquity, but we still have to have faith in Him and God, do T’shuvah (repent) and live as sinless a life as we can.

The instruction manual for living a sinless life is called the Torah.

 

 

 

 

The Problem People Have With God

This title is a little misleading- it’s not really the problem people have with God, it’s the problem people have accepting the truth about God.

That truth is simply that He is in charge, wants to do the best for us, but also will make the rules and enforce them.

And God will do what He wants to do, when He wants to do it, and how He wants it to be done, despite what, when or how we want Him to!

Backsliding isn’t failing

Have you ever felt like you are backsliding? Have you wished you could have taken back something you said that wasn’t what a “real” Believer would have said, or not done what you did because it was the wrong thing to have done?

Welcome to the club.

Everyone backslides, everyone does or says something wrong- EVERYONE!  Don’t let it phase you or discourage you because then you really have backslid (is that a word?); when we think that we are unable to work God’s purpose for our life and begin to feel it is all a waste of time, we are doing what the enemy wants us to do.

Backsliding is NOT failing- it is just making a mistake, and we all make mistakes. Remember that old saw: “To err is human; to forgive, divine”? Well, forgive yourself and move on. Backsliding is not a failure, it is a delay; it is a momentary detour from the path you wanted to be on and, as such, can be repaired so you can get back on the right path.

If you want to be successful, do what the successful people do. So, with that in mind, here are some quotes from successful people who know what they are talking about:

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash

“It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” – Zig Ziglar

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.” – Chris Bradford

Every one of these people have been “successful” in what they tried to accomplish during their lifetimes, and every one of them made mistakes and had what can be called a “failure”- but it didn’t stop them from continuing to try. Where Churchill calls it “enthusiasm” we can substitute the word “faithfulness”; the point is that we fail only when we stop trying.

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln, unquestionably one of the greatest Presidents any country has ever known, failed to be elected some 16 times during his lifetime? He constantly ran for office, and before being elected President had only been successful once, becoming a Congressman and then losing re-election just 2 years later.

One of my favorite success stories is about the invention of the light bulb. Thomas Edison suffered about 1,000 different failures as he tried to find which material would make a good filament. He finally came up with the correct answer, and when asked how he felt about failing a thousand times, he answered that he didn’t fail a thousand times, he found one thousand ways that didn’t work.

Now there’s a man who knows how to handle failure- by seeing it not as a failure but as one step bringing him closer to a successful end.

I have said many times, and will continue to say, that three steps forward and two steps backwards is still one step closer to the goal.

Our successful end, so to speak, won’t come until we have been called to the Lord, so until then we need to continue to keep walking the path to God, whether we are walking a straight path or going from one side to the other. Each time we backslide it gives us an opportunity to improve: when we make an error we now know what to look out for in the future, and so what was an error is now a learning experience.

Reading the bible we see that from the very beginning, God has told us how to live and given us exactly what we need to do so. We, on our part, have constantly screwed it up and God, on His part, has constantly done what was necessary to get us back on the proper path. Making mistakes, backsliding and screwing up are as natural to us as breathing. Unlike breathing, however, it is better for us when we stop making mistakes. So, breathe easier knowing that your mistakes are not failures, your failures are just mistakes, and mistakes can be fixed. OK- there are some mistakes that cannot be fixed, so if you do something that can’t be repaired, you need to follow Johnny Cash’s advise (above) and keep going, anyway.

The bible is full of encouraging words about God’s promises of correction followed by reconciliation- He always, always, always tells us through the Prophets that there will be a time when He will bring us together again, forgive and forget our sins, and we will live in peace and joy. That is what we aim for and that is what we need to keep focused on.

Don’t worry about making mistakes- it only proves you are human. God knows this will happen and has provided for you to help you keep going. Maybe my pathway is straighter than yours, or yours may be straighter than mine, but that isn’t important: how we get there doesn’t count as much as where we end up.

When God will reject the Jewish people as His own

There is a movement called Replacement Theology. The basic premise is that because the Jewish people rejected Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah, God has rejected the Jewish people as His chosen people and only the Born Again Christians (right-wing, in my opinion) are now God’s “Chosen” people.

This belief system is not only against what God has said throughout the bible, but is essentially calling God a liar. There is one who is a divine creature, created by God as an angel, who also believes that God is a liar. In fact, he accuses God of lying, and did so as far back as when he told Eve that if she ate the apple, she wouldn’t die (even though God said she would); he was created as one of the most beautiful of all the angels, but he wanted to be more than a messenger for God- he wanted (and still wants) to rule as God. He was named Lucifer, but we know him as The Accuser, Ha Satan, the Enemy- he is the Devil. And the Replacement Theologists, many of whom I expect don’t even know it, are helping him reach his goal of separating them from God.

Whenever we believe something other than what God has said in the bible, we are guilty of faithlessness and idolatry.

However, God does tell us, exactly, when He will reject the Jewish people as His chosen people. It is here, in Jeremiah 31:35-37:

This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord Almighty is his name: “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the Lord, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.” declares the Lord. This is what the Lord says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,”

So, there it is: the day the Lord, God Almighty says that He will reject the Jewish people. When the sun stops shining, and the moon and stars all disappear, when the entire Universe is known and every square inch of the ocean bottoms are mapped out and explored, then (and only then) will God reject the Jewish people.

In other words, God will NEVER reject the Jewish people! Never, ever, despite what they have done, which includes rejecting Yeshua when He first arrived.

In fact, throughout this chapter (Jeremiah 31) God reaffirms the Jewish people as His own, and confirms all of the promises He has made to regather His people to Israel, to give them a new heart, and to resettle them in their land, which He promised to them (which, by the way, is actively being done this very day.) Jeremiah 31:31 IS the “New” Covenant, and all through this chapter God verifies and confirms that the Jewish people are His chosen people, forever. There can be no valid argument against this.

But, since there always is some argument, here are some other biblical verses that you can check out for yourself confirming that only the Jewish people, and no one else now or ever, are God’s chosen people:

Exodus 19:5;  Deuteronomy 7:6-8;  Deuteronomy 14:2;  Deuteronomy 26:17-19;  2 Samuel 7:23-24;  1 Kings 8:53;  1 Kings 10:9;  1 Chronicles 17:20-21;  Psalm 105:8-15;  Psalm 135:4;  Isaiah 41:8;  Isaiah 43:1-3;  Isaiah 44:21;  Jeremiah 31:1-4;  Jeremiah 31:9-11;  Jeremiah 46:27-28; Ezekiel 36:24-28;  Ezekiel 37:21-25;  Joel 3:1-2;  Amos 3:1-2;  Romans 11:1-2;  Hebrews 8:8-13

 And there are more places in the bible where God has confirmed, through his Prophets or directly through Moshe (Moses), His irrevocable and eternal choice of the Jewish people as His own.

Replacement Theology is not only a lie from the pit of Hell, but it is also specifically identified by Yochanan (John) in Revelations 3: Yeshua is talking to the Messianic Community in Philadelphia, confirming that they are following His words and comforting them to continue to do so. And, in 3:9, Yeshua says:

“I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars—I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.”

In the First Century a synagogue was not a Jewish place of worship- the Greek word means a gathering, or grouping- so the correct usage and understanding is that the synagogue of Satan is a grouping or collection of those who call themselves “Jews.”

Throughout the bible God defines the Jews as His chosen people, therefore, if you say you are Gods chosen people, then you are saying you are a Jew.

Replacement Theologists are the synagogue of Satan, declaring God to be a liar and to have reneged on His promise to always love and keep the Jewish people as His own, special people. Anyone who says the Jews are rejected by God is a blasphemer, and someone who, whether by knowledge or ignorance, is working for the wrong guy.

Let us all pray that these people, misled and mistaken, will acknowledge the truth before it is too late for them.

“What if…” thinking is faithless living

What do you think about when something is about to occur? Do you look forward to change? Do you embrace new ideas and new challenges?

Or are you the type who thinks, “What if…?” whenever something different is about to happen, or you need to do something?

Those of us who profess to believe in God and trust in Him should not be living out a  “What if…?” life.

So what if “what if…” happens?  Do you really trust in God? Do you really believe that there isn’t anything on the earth, or in the heavens above, or in the depth of the seas that God is not in control of?

When I read the Psalms, and the Prophets, and the letters from Shaul (Paul) to the newly formed Messianic communities (there was no “church” in the first century) I can read what is in-between the lines: they all suffered much. The Prophets suffered much, as did Moses (emotionally), as did Jeremiah (emotionally and physically), as did David, as did Shaul, as did Kefa (Peter), as did…well, just about every righteous person we read about in the bible experienced suffering. Being righteous in an unrighteous world is asking for Tsouris (Yiddish for “troubles”) and even Yeshua (Jesus) tells us that if we wish to follow Him we must be prepared to carry our own execution stake (Matthew 16:24); Jesus is telling us that to follow Him is no bed of roses, and will, in fact, cause us strife and difficulty.

So if you want to wonder “What if..”, you don’t need to: if what you are going to do is pleasing to God, it will be difficult, you will have troubles, you will have to suffer, emotionally, physically, maybe even both, and you will not like it.

So, you may ask, if doing what pleases God will cause us pain and suffering in the world, why should we do that? The answer is: because it is pleasing to God. Because it is what leads to righteousness, it moves away from sin, it works to bring you closer to God, and in the long run (meaning eternity) it will bring rewards that are so much greater than the level of suffering that the suffering will be forgotten.

In other words, keep your eyes on the prize, look towards the goal, and do not hang your head and see nothing but where your feet are walking. Tunnel vision is a handicap and dangerous when walking. With regards to your spiritual life, having tunnel vision (i.e., looking only at what is directly in front of you and not seeing the end result) is more than dangerous- it can lead to spiritual suicide.

We need to keep walking in God’s will, along the pathway He designed for us, individually and corporately. God’s path is a straight path, it is a narrow path, and we can always see the end. When we walk with our heads hanging down, looking only at each step we take, trusting only in our own ability to walk, we are forced to wonder “What if…” because we can’t see where we are going. People- you can’t see where the path leads when you are only looking at your feet! It’s no wonder that you wonder what will happen with each and every step you take.

Keep your spiritual eyes ahead of you, trust in God, I mean, REALLY trust in God and show Him you trust in Him (as you will also be showing others) by confidently walking in faith. Walk tall, walk securely, walk with confidence that no matter what dangers or trials you will encounter on the road, you know God is there, walking alongside you and guiding you. It’s like the poem about footprints in the sand; trusting in God means walking looking ahead and never questioning or doubting God’s presence and help.

We all want to be like fine gold and pure silver; the good news is that we will be, so long as we continue to walk in God’s will; the bad news is that it can’t happen without going through the furnace. So, Brothers and Sisters, look forward to going through the furnace, and never ask “What if…” because God already knows what will happen, and He always allows whatever happens to work to the good for those that trust in Him and are called in accordance with His word (Romans 8:28): so, be confident, be sure, be faithful.

Living a “What if..” life is living a faithless life.

 

Parashah Kedoshim (Holy) Leviticus 19 – 20

Ye shall be holy; for I, the Lord thy God, am holy”

Powerful words, and the first words of this week’s Torah reading (parashah.) It is not a command to be as holy as God is, but to be holy because God is our God and He is holy.

To be holy doesn’t mean to be better, as a better person or a better Believer, but to be separated. To not do what others do, which may end up making us better, in a way. Better at being kind, better at being forgiving, better at being compassionate. Those are things which we should be ‘better’ at doing than others, and as such, we will be separated from the world.

The world is a cursed place, and those that live in it cannot avoid it. Just like walking through a field of sheep- no matter how carefully you step, eventually you will step into something. Living in the world, and having the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) from birth, we will step in more than just one something during our lifetime. We will wallow in it, at one time or another. That’s part of living, and even though we may be covered in dirt, we don’t have to be dirty. We can have dirt on our bodies but not be thinking dirty thoughts; we can carry the smell of the world on us but not be of the world.

It’s a tough balancing act, and we have God’s word and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as our balancing pole to keep us on that high wire.

This parashah is all about being holy- it is the User’s Manual for holiness. Leviticus 19:18 is what Yeshua based His entire ministry on: love your neighbor as you love yourself. Yeshua said that on this commandment, and also on the commandment to love God, pivot all the rest of the commandments and the lessons from the Prophets. If we truly love God, then we have no choice but to love each other, and when you love someone you do whatever you can to make them happy, to not hurt them (although we end up doing that anyway, don’t we?) and to forgive them.

To err is human; to forgive, divine. You’ve heard that, and I’m sure often, but did you ever think about how biblically accurate it is? It is, in essence, what we learn from the Torah- we are sinners who are sinful, but we also have the ability to rise above our nature and be more like God than like other people.

These chapters instruct us in moral laws, ritual laws, duties towards others, consideration for the needy, and prohibitions against hatred and violence towards each other.

Even the Christians who teach that ‘Jews have Torah and Christians have the Blood of Christ’ (who, by the way, taught everyone to obey the Torah) can agree that the laws in this part of Leviticus are still valid for everyone.

If you haven’t read these last chapters of Leviticus, please do so! Start in 18 and go to the end. It isn’t that hard to do, and if you have to miss one of your TV shows, tape the show or let it go. This IS more important.

The parashot from here to the end of this book tell us how to treat each other and how to act as God acts, which is all He wants from us. As Moshe said, it isn’t too hard to do, it isn’t so far away we can’t get to it or need to send someone to bring it to us; it is right here, within reach.

God’s hand is always stretched out to meet our hand when we stretch our hand out to Him, and the means to reach God is to read and honor His Torah. When I say to honor the Torah, I don’t mean to just recognize it as a wonderful thing;  when I say to honor the Torah, I mean you must obey it to the best of your ability. No!- not to the best of your ability, beyond your best! Too often saying ,”To the best of my ability” is already admitting failure. You need to live beyond what you are able to do: that is why we have been given the Ruach HaKodesh.

Humanly it is impossible to live beyond what we are, but with God, all things are possible. The Ruach is from and of God, and it lives in you, in me, and in all those who profess Yeshua is the Messiah and accept Him as their Savior. That is the only way to get past the flesh, and it is only available to those that do T’shuvah (turning from sin) and ask for it with a broken spirit and a contrite heart.

Everything you need to be happy is here, in the Torah, and especially (I believe) in these few chapters, which form the very foundation of Yeshua’s ministry. If you want to be happy, these chapters tell you how.

 

salvation received is not salvation guaranteed

Many people are taught that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved. That’s accurate but not absolute.  God will forgive us if we ask for it, and prove we mean it by doing T’shuvah (turn from sin), which will be to live our life showing that we reject sin, accept Yeshua as our Savior and follow the leading of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as our guide and comforter.

Otherwise, the salvation God is willing to grant us will be lost- not taken away (no one can take away that which God has given you), but thrown away.

Let’s look at the warnings in the Bible about this:

Hebrews 6:4-6   For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

2 Peter 2:20-22  For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

James 5:19-20   My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Matthew 24:10  At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other

These warnings against falling away from the truth and the way clearly state that these people had known the Lord and were “saved” but chose to return to their sinful life.

Too often people are taught that once you are saved, you are always saved. And that is true, but only from the perspective that God will forgive you when you ask in Yeshua’s name. But that is not the end of it- it is only the beginning. When a slate is wiped clean, there is nothing on it. But when we come before God we are not to come before Him empty handed (Exodus 23:15 and again in Deuteronomy 16:16). As such, the slate He has wiped clean with the blood of Messiah Yeshua better have some real good writing on it (i.e., works of faith) when we bring it back to the Lord at Judgment Day. Look to the parable of the servants given talents by their master (Matthew 25:14-30.) The one who did nothing with what he had been given was not allowed into the master’s joy- he was thrown out into the darkness.

Yes, we are saved when we call on the Lord, when we ask for forgiveness in Yeshua’s name, and when we truly do T’shuvah. We are forgiven our sins, thus “saved” from them, but we are just starting the journey to salvation. It is a long and hard road, treacherous and difficult to stay on. And if we lose our way we may be lost, forever. The Ruach HaKodesh is our GPS system, but if we neglect the “Turn right in a quarter mile” when we hear it, often enough, we will become totally lost. And when that happens, as is human nature, we will deny it was our fault and blame the GPS for not giving us the right information.

What is your GPS? Is it the Holy Spirit? Is it a religious leader, like a Rabbi or Priest or Pastor? Is it some self-help guru? Is it a “fad” religion?  There is only one true, reliable and proven GPS for salvation: God’s Word. And I mean the entire bible, which is Genesis through Revelations. Heck- you should even take a look at the maps at the end, just to make sure you don’t miss anything!

Salvation is promised by God to those who ask for it, but it is then our job to use His gift, to give Him back more talents than He gave us, and to have useful writing on the slate He cleared when we come before Him. James said faith without works is dead (James 2:14) so don’t kill yourself right after God gives you back your life.

One last parable to show salvation received is not salvation guaranteed is the parable about the spirit that was removed and then returned with 7 other spirits (Luke 11:24); again this demonstrates, unquestionably, that a person who has been “cleansed” can still be made “dirty” again if that person just does nothing with the gift he or she has been given. So make sure that you write on your slate, that you invest your talents, that you do not leave your house empty- make sure you use the gift of salvation or you will find yourself in the same place those who we read about in Matthew 7:22-23.

Will Rogers once said:

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

Please- don’t sit on your salvation.

Parashah Tetzaveh (Thou shalt command) Exodus 27:20 – 30:10

The previous Parashah described the Tent of Meeting, or Tabernacle, and now we get to the regulations about those serving in the tent. Aaron and his sons were chosen by God to be His Cohen HaGadol, His High Priests, and only those who are direct descendants are to carry on in this office. The clothing they are to wear, the special things for the High Priest (Ephod, breastplate and mitre) and the sanctification ceremony are all outlined in great detail. The last thing mentioned is the altar and it’s manufacture.

The breastplate had  12 brilliant gems, one for each tribe of Israel with that tribe’s name engraved on it, and it was worn over the heart. In biblical psychology the heart is the seat of intellect, not feeling, so people who are “wise-hearted” are those God has given special knowledge to (Exodus 28:3).  The Urim and Thummim (light and perfection) are also to be in the breastplate and worn over the heart.

The breastplate is called the breastplate of judgement: the people and the means of judgement (Urim and Thummim) are to be close to the heart of the one who is God’s representative to the people. I believe that this demonstrates to us that God’s judgement is to be intellectually influenced. It is to be totally fair. Of course, I also have to ask myself where, if judgement is to be unemotional, does mercy fit in? Mercy is certainly not something that is a mathematical equation or something we can intellectualize. It is an emotional feeling; it stems from compassion and love.  Can these two things really exist together? I don’t know. God is fair, and He tempers His judgments with compassionate mercy, but (then, again) He has been awesome and totalitarian in many of His judgments. God has had entire nations and peoples completed destroyed. Frankly, I don’t know how this all works together, and I was thinking of just deleting this entire section, but it raises questions. I think questions before the Lord are good things, so I am leaving this here for you to think over, on your own, and to discuss with God. If you have an answer, or something to add, please comment so we can all discuss this. The topic is: how can God judge fairly and still have compassion and mercy?

One other thing I find interesting: the Urim and Thummim, which are mysterious (we don’t even know what they were) are used to determine God’s will. They may have been some kind of dice that were used for throwing lots. They are mentioned in some of the writings of the Prophets (Nevi’im) but pretty much by David’s time they are not mentioned any more in the Tanakh. These means of determining God’s will were obviously important during the time the people were in the desert, and under Joshua. As time went on, they became less important, and we also see as time went on the people got further and further away from God; eventually, we got so far away from Him that we were nearly destroyed.

With Yeshua, we have been reconciled with God and can (again) draw close to Him. So, will we again see the Urim and Thummim? I don’t think so, because what was used to determine God’s will is now not over our hearts, but inside our hearts. The Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, is how we can know God’s will for our lives. It is our Comforter, our Guardian, our own “Jiminy Cricket” keeping us on the straight and narrow. We don’t have to have a physical thing to help us understand what God wants for us anymore because we have His very Spirit living inside of us.

As we are told in Jeremiah 31:31:

But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.

The Urim and Thummim have been replaced by the Ruach HaKodesh as our means of understanding what God wants in our lives. For me, that underscores even more than usual the need for people to accept their Messiah, especially the Jewish people, because without accepting Yeshua as our Messiah we can’t receive the Ruach HaKodesh. Without the Ruach, we can’t know God’s will for our lives. It is all so clear: first, after Yeshua’s resurrection, the next major event is the destruction of the Temple. No longer can we bring our sin sacrifice to the Lord- Yeshua was the last and complete sacrifice for sin, and through His sacrifice we are now reconciled and cleansed before the Lord. With the destruction of the Temple we also lost forever the records of the lineage of the people to prove who is a true child of Israel, and more important than that, who can serve as Cohen Hagadol. And that’s because we don’t need that anymore: Yeshua is now the Cohen Hagadol for all eternity, and the separation between the Jew and the Gentile doesn’t exist in the body of Messiah (Galatians 3:28).

If we look at the history of the events that occurred before and after Yeshua’s appearance on Earth, we can see the logical progression of salvation, the gradual development of the plan for eternity. Today we see the regathering of the children of Israel back to the land of their fathers, and God’s judgment on the nations coming to fruition. Terrorism, El Nino, global warming, wars, diseases, and terrible earthquakes and Tsunami’s occurring all over the world. Do you think these are just coincidence? Yes, they have always been here but throughout the recorded history of these events today there are more of them, and they are becoming more fierce and regular.  Just because science says some of these are the result of man-made problems doesn’t mean that they aren’t part of God’s plan. Throughout the bible we see God had used people to accomplish His goals more often than by some miraculous divine intervention.

We are living in prophetic times, and we need to have the courage to tell people, whether they believe us or not, about Yeshua so that their blood is on their own head and not ours.

Ask God to show you what His plan is for you, listen to the Ruach HaKodesh in your heart, and take action. Don’t wait until the Groom arrives to fill your lamps with oil.

“Coexist” is not the plan

I have to think that everyone reading this has seen the bumper sticker that spells out the word “coexist” in different religious symbols. Isn’t that a wonderful ideal? All people living together, practicing their religious beliefs without interfering or harboring hatred towards each other, in a peaceful and respectful environment. World peace.

Right! Tell me another story, Daddy.

The truth is what history has constantly revealed- there is no coexistence between people with different religious beliefs. Sorry, it just ain’t happening: it never has, it never will, and the fact of the matter is, it isn’t supposed to!

There is only one God, and He has no religion. He has rules, He has commandments, and when you reject His rules, you reject Him. Period: End of sentence: Close the door on your way out: buh-bye.

I could give you scripture after scripture describing how God has destroyed those that have rejected Him, how He has called His people, Israel, to follow the commandments, regulations, ordinances and laws that He gave in the Torah, and made them a nation of priests to the rest of the peoples so that they, too, could be saved from judgement. This same Torah, which is not for Jews alone, defines the only way God said He should be worshipped and it applies to everyone who professes to believe in and worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. EVERYONE.

There is no coexistence with someone whose religious beliefs order them to either convert or kill someone who believes differently. There is no coexistence with anyone whose religious leaders tell their followers that the Torah is invalid (effectively rejecting God’s commandments.) There is no coexistence with a religion that teaches Jews are rejected by God because teaching that calls God a liar. There is no coexistence with a religion that groups many gods together, where each one has some level of authority and autonomy, rejecting the very premise that there is only one God who is the only true God. .

There is no coexistence with those who are so adamant they are right that they slander other religions and kill other people because of their beliefs.

Yet, our God tells us that those who do not accept Yeshua as their Messiah will be judged at the end of times and rejected by God.  In the end, it will be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who will prove to be the one true God and creator, the only one that deserves worship, and He will be known to all.

So, how is this different than someone who says to kill all infidels? It doesn’t seem very different. I think the main, and really important, difference is that my God tells me that He will judge, that He will avenge, and that He is the only one to make fair and righteous judgements. I am not to judge, lest I be judged; I am to hate the sin and love the sinner, I am to be compassionate, and I am also not to be in the presence of sin. I am to respect the life of those that reject God, and leave the punishment for that rejection to God, in His time, the way He will do it.

That’s the difference between what my God teaches and what their god tells them- they are to kill the infidel, they are to judge the non-believer, but I am to be a light to those in darkness.

That’s the difference, and it is a BIG difference. It is not coexistence, it is living in a world with them but not being a part of that world.

What I am saying goes against the world’s view of tolerance, peaceful relations and coexistence. That’s OK with me, because my experience and understanding of the Bible is that whatever the world thinks is good is most likely against what God thinks is right.

Just about everyone wants to go to (their definition) of heaven: Judeo-Christian religions see heaven as a wonderful place we all go to where we play harps and have wings, Islam has a different view (is heaven only for men? What do women care about 40 virgins?), and those who follow Hinduism just want to get there, eventually.

The truth is that there is going to be a new earth and a new heaven, and a new Jerusalem. I don’t know if the new Jerusalem will be like the current one- I figure it has to be different. Yeshua said that every stone standing will be toppled (Matthew 24:2) and to me, that sounds like a complete destruction not just of the Temple but the city. After all, why have a new Jerusalem if the old one is still habitable? And Yeshua will sit on the throne of David and rule forever from the new Jerusalem (there are too many verses to put any one or two of them here: it’s in the Psalms, in the prophets from Isaiah to Joel to Zachariah, and it’s in the Gospels, too.) And God will live with His people, in their presence (or, if you prefer, we will live in His presence) forever and ever.

The only way for humans to coexist is to have a single way to live, a single God, a single government (with God at the head of it) and a single form of worship. Yes, this sounds exactly like what the anti-christ will want to establish, and that’s because it will work!  That is what we were supposed to have during the times of the Judges, that was God’s original plan for us- God at the head, the Judges (who would be Levites) ruling and “managing” the people, and there would be just the one way to worship God, as He told us how, in the Torah. And that is what God will establish when all is said and done.

The way God wants things to be has no room for “coexistence”, which (by definition) means different ways of existing being together. There will be no “co”-existence after all is done, there will only be eternity. One God, one King (Yeshua), one way to worship and one rule for everyone.

God isn’t interested in coexisting- He wants all His children to turn to Him, to follow His rules (Torah) and His way to worship Him, and to exist forever in His glory and presence and eternal peace.

Face it: there is room for only one God in Eternity, and it’s His way or the hell-way.