I got nuttin’…but that’s somtin’.

I read my Bible every day, I pray when I drive somewhere and also when I am taking a bike ride. It is usually during these times when I am talking with God or reading his word that I get inspiration about what to discuss with you.

This morning I read the Bible, I read Dear Abby (great place to find fodder for messages) and I also went through a lot of postings from different discussion groups (all “Christian” or “Messianic” of one type or another) looking for something.

And after all of that “research”, I got nuttin’.

That’s when it hit me- sometimes, nothing is still something. And what that something is, is that waiting on the Lord often means just that- waiting. Not getting any messages, not having any revelation, not even a hint as to what is going on. Just a complete and utter silence.

And you know what? I think that is OK.

Just as God gave us the Shabbat (Sabbath Day) to take a break from our everyday lives, we also can take a break, now and then, from everything.

If you have a problem at work, give it up to God, take a break from worrying about it and wait for a change.

If you have personal issues with family or friends, take a break from the pain of it, place it in God’s hands and patiently wait to see what he does about it.

If you are struggling with a spiritual crisis, let it simmer for a while and give yourself a break.

I believe that sometimes doing absolutely nothing is the best something to do.

And, since I try to practice what I preach, I am now going to take a break.

 

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Have a relaxing day and until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Behar (Mount) Leviticus 25-26:2

Even though the English title is “Mount”, the translated Hebrew text is ,”And the Lord spoke to Moses IN Mount Sinai, saying:…”. I just wanted to point this out because I think it is interesting that from Moses’s view (since he wrote this) he wasn’t on the mountain, but inside it. Perhaps there was a cave or a sheltered area God provided for Moses? After all, he was there for 40 days and nights, and to provide a sheltered area for him to sleep and be comfortable in would have been the least God could have done, right?.

This parashah is all about Sabbath for the land and Jubilee Year. Just as we rest from our work every 7th day, the land rests every 7th year. And every 7th year of years (in other words, the beginning of every 50th year) there is a Jubilee Year. In that year all people and property revert to their God-given owners.

I say “God-given owners” because Joshua divvied-up the land among the 9 1/2 Tribes (remember that Gad, Reuben, and the 1/2 tribe of Manasseh settled on east side of the Jordan) after they had conquered Canaan. Because the land was divided among the tribe by lot, meaning God ordered who got what, clearly it was “God-given.”

In the 50th year, on the 10th day of Tishri, which God declared as the Day of Trumpets (known today as Rosh Hashannah) the Jubilee Year begins, although it isn’t officially announced until Yom Kippur.  In the Jubilee Year all property reverts to the original owner, and all slaves are set free. There are also rules regarding how to pro-rate the value of the lands and slavery work results so that when Jubilee Year comes the people who were buying back or selling back would receive a fair value.

Let’s start with the Sabbath year for the land. The law about leaving the land untouched for an entire year means that in the 6th year you would need to have enough produce to be able to sustain your family and all your possessions (animals and slaves) for three years: the 7th year you wouldn’t be farming or planting, you would be living off what was done from the 6th year harvest. Then, in the the 8th year,  you would have to plant, and you wouldn’t see that harvest until the 9th year.  So the 6th, 7th and 8th years you are living off the 6th year harvest. Now, God promises that He will provide enough for 3 years in the 6th year, so obeying His 7th year Sabbath commandment is the same test of faith He gave us in the desert. Back then, we were to gather one day’s worth of manna for 5 days, and on the 6th day we were to gather enough to last through the Sabbath, because no manna came down on the 7th day. If you gathered more than you were supposed to, the manna turned bad overnight, but what was gathered on the 6th day stayed good for 2 days. This miracle from God, which He had provided to His people for 40 years in the desert, would be applied to the Jews living in the Land, as well.

From what we read in the Tanakh, though, it appears the commandment regarding the Sabbath yer for the land was rarely obeyed. Ezekiel mentions it as one of the reasons for the upcoming destruction, and in the next Parashah (Leviticus 26:32-35), where God tells us all the punishments He will bring upon us for disobedience, He warns us about what will happen if we disobey giving the land it’s Sabbath year:

I myself will lay waste the land, so that your enemies who live there will be appalled.  I will scatter you among the nations and will draw out my sword and pursue you. Your land will be laid waste, and your cities will lie in ruins.  Then the land will enjoy its sabbath years all the time that it lies desolate and you are in the country of your enemies; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths.  All the time that it lies desolate, the land will have the rest it did not have during the sabbaths you lived in it.

The letter Jeremiah wrote to the Israelites in captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 29) he says that the captivity will last 70 years, which would indicate that the land had not had it’s Sabbath rest for nearly 490 years prior to the Babylonian exile.

We have been given free will to choose what we will do, and when it comes to our relationship with God, that free will allows us to find peace and joy forever, or to turn from God, disobey and ruin our eternity. God will help and direct us to make the right decision, but He will not force us to accept it. The people had seen His provision for 40 years in the desert, and also the miraculous salvation from enemies He provided throughout the times of the Judges; even after we sinned by asking for a king, God still provided for those kings that were righteous before Him. All this provision, all these miraculous events, have been passed down in the oral history (the Tanakh was not completed until, at the earliest, 450 BCE, although it may have not been until much later, around 140-116 BCE- scholars can’t agree) and was known by all the people living in the Land, well before Jeremiah’s time.  And today we have even more evidence of God’s provision, most importantly the evidence of Messiah, Yeshua.

Yet, we still disobey, we still ignore, we still reject (as a people) God and His commandments. Oy! And worse, still: many, if not most, are not even repentant! They make excuses and give justification (from a human viewpoint) for their disobedience. When we make excuses instead of asking for forgiveness, we are not repentant. And lack of repentance means that the forgiveness we ask for will not be given. God is wonderfully merciful, but He isn’t stupid: if you don’t really feel sorry and rueful for the sin you commit, I believe you can ask all you want, call on Yeshua, jump up and down and recite the Torah backwards, but it won’t help.

God doesn’t care about what we do to be forgiven, He cares about how we feel when we ask for forgiveness:

1 Samuel 15:22– Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

Psalm 51:17– The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

God wants us to repent of our sins, not just go through the motions of asking for forgiveness without truly being repentant.

To pull it all together, we need to be aware that God will provide for us when we obey, and when we reject Him and His good laws, He will make sure that what He wants done will be done, from anything as simple as withholding blessings, as to complete desolation of our land.

God’s will WILL be done, one way or another; I don’t want to speak for you, but as for me, well, I want to be in God’s will as much as possible. Being outside His will is not a good place to be.

Pruning hurts, but it is a necessary pain

I wonder if the place where I worship will even be here in a year. We have a very small congregation, and need to disassociate ourselves with the Assembly of God, which will result in a significant loss of available funds. It’s a long story and not for print, but suffice it to say we are being “realigned” (as our Senior Pastor calls it), and this realignment is painful.

Maybe lethal- who knows?

Some of the people who have been faithful and constant are feeling led to serve in other congregations and churches; even though they still come on Friday nights, they also go to other places to help on some Friday’s (so we don’t see them) and Sunday services. One or two have indicated they will probably leave completely (on good terms, of course) because they feel led to go elsewhere.

I don’t see this, as some might, as a rebellion or desertion: it is pruning. When a branch gives forth good fruit, it is cut off from the main trunk and replanted elsewhere, so that it can grow more than it would be able to on the tree that first nourished it. It is painful but it is necessary for growth. Of course, being cut off and replanted is tough- it hurts, you miss the regular flow of nourishment you first received, and it is scary. The root that has fed you for many years is now gone, and you are on your own.

It’s like finally moving out of your Mother’s basement.

We are in a realignment, in that the mission of the Zionist Revival Center (our website is: zionistrevivalcenter.org) has moved from the cookie-cutter “Save-the-World” Christian mission to being a teaching ministry. Not just to teach Christians about their Hebraic Roots (which is a major part), but to teach Christian churches what is their true role in the plan of Salvation. That being that the “Church” is grafted onto the Tree of Life, which is the Torah. And, as is taught throughout the New Covenant writings, being grafted on means feeding from that one root, which God provided to all in His Word.  To be able to do what God has planned for the Gentiles who have been saved by Messiah Yeshua, all churches need to be one with Israel and support the Jewish people. This is, unfortunately, not the standard teaching in most Christian churches, who reject Judaism (Israel, the Jewish people and the Torah) because of nearly two thousand years of wrongful teaching.

Since we are teaching “against the tide” of traditional Christian understanding, getting the word out will be difficult; getting congregants will be even more difficult, and we really need to trust God to help us. You see, there are so many churches in Melbourne (Florida) that if you spit in any direction on a windy day, it will land on some church. We want to teach the “Church” it’s role in God’s plan of salvation, and we also want our congregation to grow, but we don’t want to “steal” the sheep from other places, so it is a sort of balancing act. We need to work with the other churches, and stealing their members is not going to help us reach that goal, so we are facing a difficult road.

But, then again, with God all things are possible. I see us fulfilling an essential role and I totally agree with our vision/mission.

For our own people, we are going to have different Shabbat services to “mix it up”; one Friday will be song worship, one Friday teaching, one Friday testimonials, one Friday prayer worship, etc. We will have five different types of Shabbat services, scheduled ahead of time, and we expect that those who like music will come to that worship service, but those who don’t, won’t (on that Friday); those who like prayer will come to prayer services but those that don’t want to be in prayer for an hour or so, won’t (on that Friday.)

In the long run, who knows what this will do? That is why I started out saying that we may end up pruning ourselves- the scary thought is when you cut yourself off, how do you replant yourself?

This blog is my ministry, and I would love for it to grow. I guess I need to get back on Face Book, Twitter, Google Plus (and whatever) other social media in order to gain wider exposure. I trust in God to make things happen, but I also believe He expects us to show that trust by stepping out as if we already knew what was going to happen. Abraham didn’t call AAA for a Trip Tik when God told him to leave Ur- he just up and left. That’s what real faith is- leaping without looking because you trust God to make sure there is something there to land on.

Please pray for our center, for our mission to be fulfilled, and for the Gentile world to come back to it’s roots- too many churches have cut themselves off from the very root that feeds them. I talk about this in my book, in the chapter called, “You Can’t Get Pears from an Apple Tree”- if the Gentiles that have been saved by Jesus want to be like Jesus, then they need to live and worship as Jesus did.

Unfortunately, that isn’t what traditional Christianity teaches.

Don’t fence me in

Anyone remember that old song? It was actually the title song to a Roy Rogers movie from the 1940’s.

Basically, it tells of a man who doesn’t want to be restricted, a man who wants to be free to choose what he does and where he does it.

God is like that, too: He doesn’t want to be restricted into doing or being what others think He should be. Yet, we do that to Him- especially within many religions. Some teach only of His loving kindness and the salvation He provides, and that He is all about love. That’s true, God is love, but He is also justice, and He is demanding, and He is definitely willing and able to punish. If God will not punish the sinner as He promises He will, then His promises aren’t trustworthy. Yet, many religions don’t even like to mention that. They work on your emotional need to be unconditionally loved, and ignore the other aspects of God and (especially) His requirements for worship. Basically, they only want you to know the New Covenant writings and teach the Old Covenant is really just for the Jews.

Wrong!

Let’s be clear about what I mean when I say “punishing the sinner”: we all are sinners, who are sinful (meaning it is our nature to sin), but when those who truly fear the Lord sin, they are rueful and repentant. That is not the sinner who will be punished. A rueful and repentant person, one who goes before God with a contrite and humble heart and asks forgiveness, will be forgiven.

The sinners who will be punished are the ones who are unrepentant, the ones who reject God, willfully and obstinately, and who do whatever they want to do and justify doing so using worldly ethics and morals.

It seems funny using the words “ethic” and “moral” when talking about the world, doesn’t it?

So, sinners who will be punished are the ones who do what they want to do and reject God.

But, what is “rejecting God”? Is it simply to say He doesn’t exist? Is it to admit He may exist? Is it to worship Him and say you are a “Believer” but only do what you want to do and make excuses to ignore what you don’t want to do?

WHOAAAAHH, NELLIE!!!  Steve: are you implying that a Believer, someone who has accepted Messiah Yeshua as their personal Savior and fears the Lord, who goes to church every Sunday and tithes, and makes cakes for the fund-raisers, and doesn’t cheat at Bingo….are you saying this person, this godly, wonderful, angelic representative of the Almighty is rejecting God because he or she doesn’t do everything God says we should?

In a word…yes.

And to add to that, I also confess that I am one of those people. I don’t wear Tzit-Tzit, even though it is a commandment (Number 15: 38-40);often on Saturday I will do work around the house and I will spend money shopping or getting a haircut, and I also do other things I shouldn’t regarding speech and jokes and ….well, I could go on. I am sure everyone reading this could go on, as well. So I am not preaching to you as much as I am preaching to myself.

We are all guilty of not performing all the commandments God gave us, and that is why He needed to provide Yeshua (Jesus) as our “Get out of Hell” card so that when we do T’shuvah (repentance) and try (note I am saying try) to do better, I believe that God, in His mercy and compassion, sees our attempts to do better and our heartfelt desire to obey Him, as the next best thing to actually living a sinless life.

As I often say: we can never be sinless, but we can always sin less.

But what about religions that teach you don’t have to do what God commands? Religions that teach Torah is just for Jews and Christians have the Blood of Christ, and that is all they need. What about a religion that tells you you have to be totally abstinent if you want to be a spiritual leader? What about a religion that teaches you drinking and dancing are sins? What about a religion that tells you it is a sin to eat a cheeseburger? What about a religion that teaches you the Jewish people have been rejected forever by God and that Christians are now the Chosen people of God (Replacement Theology)?

Aren’t they rejecting God when they reject what He has said?  God gave the Torah to the Jewish people not for them exclusively, but for them to learn to live the way God wants us to live, and then teach the rest of the world by example. The fact that (in Acts) the Jewish Elders were amazed when God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) came to the Gentiles shows that they didn’t understand this, either. God gave the Torah to the Jews so that they could bring it to the world.

Which means that Torah is what God wants us to do, how He wants us to worship Him, and to teach us all that we need to know.

God has no religion. He has Torah, and His Torah took on flesh and lived among us to demonstrate what the Jewish people were supposed to be demonstrating all along. Jesus showed the Jews in Israel how to live as a God-fearing person. Not as a “Jew”, but as someone who wants to obey the Lord. He was obedient to the Father, and (as John describes Him in the Gospel of John), Jesus was the Word of God become flesh.

Well, what was the “Word of God” in the First Century? It was the Torah.

If you are being taught that the Torah is for Jews and you, as a Gentile, are not subject to it, you had better start stocking up on Coppertone. I mean it- you need to read the bible, you need to read my book, and you need to make up your own mind about what God wants you to do.

I can help here: God wants you to do as He says you should and the world wants you to do what it says you should. In the end, there will be a fight between God and the world (Satan’s realm), and only one wins.

I’ll give you three guesses to tell me who wins, and your first two guesses don’t count.

I would love to be able to do everything in the Torah that God tells us to do, but I can’t. And, yes, I confess (and ask forgiveness) for the things I am too weak to control and discipline myself to do, such as wearing Tzit-tzit and observing the Shabbat fully. In fact, today I am going to work and it is the first day of Sukkot- I should be celebrating a Sabbath rest. But I’m not doing that, by choice. I have no vacation or personal days left, and already have taken two days without pay for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

I am sinning, I am rejecting God, and I know I am doing it. And, I really feel lower than whale poop. I pray God will forgive me, and strengthen me to do better in the future.

That’s the difference between who I was and who I am: I used to be a sinner that rationalized my sins, and now I am a sinner who regrets my sins.

Please read the word of God and let Him guide your understanding: don’t be lazy and just take what you are told as God’s truth. Religion is not for God, it is for itself, and teaches you what it wants you to do. Not all the time, and not all the commandments, but all religions teach something that is against what God wants. And when you face Him at Judgment Day, He will hold you responsible for what you have done or failed to do, and the reasons for it will be yours. That old cop-out, “But that’s what they told me to do!” won’t hold water with the Big Guy upstairs.

So, do what you do, don’t do what you don’t do, but (at least) know what the rules are before you decide what choice to make.

Because it is your choice to make, and you will be held accountable for making it. .

More from the Holy Land

I have been a bit remorse in getting to this blog this week, and most likely will be so next week, too. I am sure you will forgive me, knowing that I am touring the holy Land and quite busy all day. We have been on a full schedule, and now as Shabbat comes to an end, we are going to take a nice “Shabbat Walk” hike to a natural spring. I spent the entire day just resting and talking with a friend who I rarely get to talk to, and it was great.

Floating in the Dead Sea as we talked was nice, too!

I have seen communities here in Israel, the kind the media calls “obstacles to peace” and am amazed at how much lying and misrepresentation there is in America about the truth of the relationship between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

Our guide, Yosi, is an Israeli who served and fought in the IDF, has written a book about his experiences, and is a very Godly man, with very practical ideas. His testimony about Jew and Arab relations, along with the confirmation we have received from people living in communities where they live on the border, literally, of the Syrian terrorists, is that Jews and Arabs have no problem with each other: it is the minority made up of of extremists and the satanically-influenced (that part is my own belief) lies of the media that make the world believe it is all the Jews’ fault.

I saw a man and his family walking to the community pool in flip-flops and bathing suits, and he had an M-16 over his shoulder. Every soldier I have seen in the streets, not on patrol but just walking somewhere, has a gun.

We in America have had no idea what life here is like except when we were going through a similar thing during the revolutionary days.

Yet, they stay. Despite potential for terrorist attack, or from any of the surrounding nations, despite hateful and lying media slurs and condemnation, despite the world coming against them, the people of Israel stay and will not leave. Why? Because this is their land. Not just Jerusalem, but the Golan Heights, the Jordan Valley, all of the land God promised, even those parts that are now Jordanian and Syrian. It is all theirs.

I am a Jew- it is my land, too. I don’t live here, but let me tell you this- if it was possible, I would. Why? The reason is simple: IT IS MY LAND! God gave this land to me and I am supposed to live on it; no one should ever take it away. And I would never let it go without a fight. Of course, I don’t live here, and probably never will, but I am still a part of this land.

I am here now, this very moment, and the land and I are together;  I will always have a part of my heart here, and the land will always be a part of me.

I am writing this sitting at a desk, and directly to my right is the large patio door leading to the balcony overseeing the Dead Sea, with the Jordan Rift mountains all around us.  It is magnificent! It is breathtaking. It is humbling.  The awesome power of God to create mountains that are so powerful, so absolutely desolate and yet, at the same time, so absolutely beautiful. Not to mention all the history they have witnessed.

This is the place to come if you really want to know what the Jewish world is like, and to get close to God. Talk to these Jews, who have gone through hardship and suffering, yet who still are friendly and happy to help you. Oh, yes- they seem to be impolite, they  yell and walk right through you, but it’s just because they are practical and have no time for “niceties” – they are too busy living.

We in America have it so soft and so easy that we end up spiritualizing everything because we are relaxing in our high-back chairs,, watching the game on our 62″ HD TV, and thinking about God on the commercial breaks.  We thank Him for His goodness and then go back to the game.

These people are survivors who are descendants of pioneers:- they are tough, they are determined, and they are not going to give you any “bull” or accept any from you. They talk from their heart, honestly, and expect the same back. That is why, to we soft and self-absorbed Americans, they seem harsh and unfriendly. They aren’t, please believe that- they are just not interested in “fluff.”

Their practical approach to God is simply that God wants us to be good to each other, help the needy and put doing good over doing what religion says is required. What I mean by that is that if you are passing by a man who is sickly and needs help as you go to the Temple, and you do not help him because by touching him and feeding him you would become unclean and could not then worship God, you have done wrong. God would prefer that you do not worship or sacrifice to him if it means not helping that man. Yeshua told us (and showed us) about this when He healed on the Shabbat, when He told the parable of the Good Samaritan, and when He (gently) chastised Martha for cleaning and cooking while Mary listened to Him talk.

Too often people are so spiritual that they spiritualize themselves right past God. They are so anxious to act “righteous” and be “holy” that they forget the best way to do that is to dress down and wash someone’s feet. That is the lesson Yeshua was trying to teach the Disciples when He washed their feet.

The bottom line is that it is what we do for each other every day that God wants to see. What we do for Him, specifically religious rites and ceremonies, are not as important to Him as what we do for each other. Whatever sacrifice you make to God needs to be one that smells nice to Him- loving concern for others smells nice, giving to the poor and needy smells nice, helping people get somewhere they need to go smells nice.  Not leaving a tip for the waiter but leaving a tract stinks like yesterday’s diapers. Saying you are going to do something for someone then copping out reeks of two week old eggs. Making a big deal about your tithe or your giving to a charity or your wonderful experiences with God when you haven’t really had any is a stench that will reach to heaven and back again.

Our guide Yosi said it so very well: If you could sing songs and dance for Jesus or give food to a hungry person, which would you do?”

Which do you think would please God more?

Parashah Yitro (Jethro) Exodus 18 – 20

Moses’s father-in-law, Yitro, brings Moses’s wife and two sons to him now that he has taken the people close enough to their home on the way to Sinai. And after staying the night, Jethro (who apparently has converted from paganism after hearing about all that God did) sees Moses all day long judging for the people and advises him to learn to delegate. Moses takes that advice and sets up what is (in today’s world)  a system of circuit courts, with himself being the final court of appeal.

The people come to Sinai and God, in a thunderous cloud of smoke and fire, gives them (and us) the 10 Commandments, first identifying and charging the people to be a nation of priests unto the world. After seeing the majesty and fearsomeness of God, the people tell Moses that they will do as Moses says if only Moses, alone, will speak to God and then tell them what God said. They are too afraid of God to be in His direct, physical presence.

This parashah ends with God instructing Moses the way any altar to God is to be constructed.

The Decalogue is designed to make the people holy, i.e., separated from the rest of the world. Our Priests, Rabbis, Pastors, Ministers- whatever title we give to our religious leaders- are supposed to be above-board in everything they do. We are told in the Torah what kind of people they are to be and how they are to manage their household, and this is repeated in the New Covenant, as well. So, too, those who worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are to be above-board. They are to be holier-than-thou, but not in the usual sense or meaning of that phrase.  The world thinks holier-than-thou means to be self-absorbed, overbearing and conceited. When God (and Yeshua says this too, and often) tells us to be holy He means the opposite of what the world means: God’s holiness is shown by meekness, humility and honoring God above all things. Being holy unto God means never honoring ourselves. We are to be a holy people, priests to the world, and as such we are to be an example of Godliness. We are to be holier in order to demonstrate to everyone else how they are to be; we are to be holier by being humble, meek, unassuming and self-effacing.

Those who worship God are to be an example of how God wants everyone to act. Yeshua told His Talmudim that the people will know they are His Talmudim by how they act (John 13:35).

The Jewish people were chosen to represent God’s system of worship and society. The Jewish people are the Chosen people not because they deserve it or are the greatest. We have proven our unworthiness over and over. It has resulted in the destruction of Shomron and Yehudah, and the disbursing of the Jewish people all over the world. Over the millennia we have proven we are obstinate, stiff-necked and ungrateful. We have proven that the Jewish people are just like everyone else. The one and unique difference why we were chosen is because of the righteousness of Abraham, and that righteousness was also shown by King David. Despite our the sinful and obstinate nature, shown throughout the history of the Jewish people, we are still a nation of priests. Subsequently, any and all who accept that God is God and, now that Yeshua has come into the world, accept that Yeshua is God’s Messiah and accept the grace we have available to us through His sacrificial death, are then inducted into the nation of priests.

And, as a member, you are expected to abide with all the laws that govern that group. Unfortunately, although every “Born Again Believer” is a member of the nation of priests, most Christian teachings have ignored the Torah (at least, most of it) and preached obedience only to the 10 Commandments. They use Yeshua (Jesus) as their excuse for not even trying to obey any of the other 603 commandments.

The bottom line is this: God has no religion. God has rules, regulations, ordinances, and laws. The main ones are here, in this parashah, and the rest are given throughout the Torah. As far as God is concerned, if you violate even a stroke of the Torah, you have violated the entire Torah. It’s that simple, it’s that plain, it’s that awesome. A nation of priests means to be holier than the other people in the world: not ‘above’ them, not ‘better than’ them, just separate from them. We are to be living in the world as a light in the darkness, and we are to be an example of what God wants from everyone.

And because we represent Godliness in a satanic world, we are going to be hated, derided, insulted and persecuted. So, well…it sucks, but it’s the way we must be. The world has only themselves to look to for hope, which means the world has no hope. We have God as our hope, we have Yeshua as the means of our salvation, and we have the Ruach HaKodesh as our Comforter. The job is  hard, the workplace is a horrible place to be, and our clients are mean, ungrateful and uncooperative.

If you want to be a member of the nation of priests, there’s no question about it: the job is tough! The Boss expects a lot from us, there are no vacations or personal days, and the people you are required to deal with will treat you somewhere between ignoring and abusing you to killing you. You really have to ask yourself if it is all worth it.

The answer is: YES!! Absolutely!! True, the job is hard and thankless, but the retirement plan is heavenly!

Parashah Tzav (Command) Leviticus 6 – 8:36

The prior chapters are addressed to the entire congregation, whereas these next chapters are more specifically to the Priests, describing the way the different sacrifices should be offered, and which portion of the sacrifice is for the Priests, who may eat it, and it ends with the anointing of Aaron and his sons into the Priesthood.

The Sacrificial System was a major part of the lives of the Jewish people. Of the 613 Commandments in Torah, nearly 1/3 deal with the sacrificial system. There are different offerings: a sin offering, a guilt offering, a burnt offering, a peace offering and a thanksgiving offering. The peace offering is considered to be classified in three ways: (1) thanksgiving for deliverance from sickness or danger; (2) fulfillment of a vow made in times of distress; and (3) a free-will offering made when the heart is moved at the remembrance of God’s tender mercies (Pentateuch and Haftorahs, Soncino Edition.)

With the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the sacrificial system came to a halt; more like running into a brick wall! All of a sudden, that was it! One day we can be cleansed from our sin, the next day there is no way for the Jewish people to atone for their sins. Because God decreed that these sacrifices had to be made at the place where He placed His name, when the Temple was destroyed we couldn’t sacrifice as we should, and the Jewish people had an even stronger need for their Messiah. It’s too bad that “Mainstream” Judaism still hasn’t accepted the truth about Yeshua, who is the Messiah and through whom our sins have been forgiven. That is why the Temple was destroyed: the sacrificial system was no longer needed, but since God’s word is like He is- the same today, yesterday and forever- and He declared these sacrifices had to be made at the Temple, by destroying (or more correctly, allowing the destruction of) the Temple He put an end to a system that He said should be forever, without going against His word or changing His mind.

Does this mean that we don’t have to sacrifice anymore? Even though I can’t bring an animal to the Temple and offer it up to the Lord, does that mean I don’t need to perform any kind of sacrifice? When David went to buy the threshing floor in 2 Samuel 24 to stop the plague he caused, when it was all offered free to David, we read, “But the king replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on buying it, for I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.”

Don’t we still have ways to offer to God thanksgiving sacrifices? Can’t we still be moved to wanting to thank him? Don’t we still sin? Yes, Yeshua’s blood covers our sin, but can’t we still live up to the spirit of the law by giving up something that is valuable and desired by us to demonstrate our willingness to obey God’s commandments?

We all sin, and we all will continue to sin. As I have said before, we will never be sinless but we can always sin less, and even though we have our sins forgiven when we ask in the name of Yeshua, is that all we should do? Just say, “Thanks, Yeshua, for dying for me, so that when I ask forgiveness in Your name I am cleansed.”

Nice deal- He suffered, and we get off. Is that really good enough for you?

It’s not good enough for me. I don’t want to just accept all He did for me and do nothing to show my gratitude. And I don’t want to sacrifice something that costs me nothing. Yeshua’s death cost me nothing, but it cost Him everything, and when I sin I feel that I need to do more than just call upon His name. But what can I sacrifice? Where can I go? I don’t even own a goat or a lamb; I have two cats, but they are not acceptable sacrifices (lucky for them, too.)

So, nu? What do I do to show God I want to sacrifice a guilt or a sin offering, and especially a thanksgiving offering (because every day He does so many wonderful things for me?) Wait- didn’t David say he wouldn’t sacrifice anything to the Lord that didn’t cost him anything? Maybe what we can do, if you feel like I do, is sacrifice something that is valuable to us. I am not talking about a special monetary gift towards something that honors God, although that would be something, but let’s give something that is as valuable to us today as a lamb or a goat would have been to the people of Jerusalem in Yeshua’s day and before: let’s give up our time.

Today we work so hard, we commute so many hours a week, and when we get home (at least I know I do) all we want to do is rest. And the weekends are play time. Well, God already tells us to rest on the Shabbat, but that is a commandment we obey anyway (hopefully) so we need to do more than that if we want to make a sacrifice.

Give of your time to something that is “God-honoring.” Maybe volunteer to help with something at your place of worship, or go to a soup kitchen and serve others, or volunteer at an animal hospital (God did tell us that we are to care for His creation, did he not?) or at a human hospital. Do something that takes away from your personal time, or give money if that is more important to you than your time, but offer something up to the Lord as a sacrifice to show Him how much you appreciate what He has done for you, and to honor the sacrifice Yeshua made for you.

Yeshua gave up His divinity, His supremacy, He took off His robes of holiness and put on a mantle of stinking, dirty flesh, then wore it for 30-something years. And finally, He allowed Himself to be humiliated, beaten and tortured to death, all so that you and I can be saved because of our failure to be able to obey the Lord. Don’t you think that if Yeshua was willing to do all that for you that you should do something for Him to show your gratitude?

I volunteer at the Brevard Zoo (with Donna, my wife) and I help out at the place I worship during, before and after services, and I am available to help people there if they need computer work or training. These things take time, and I gladly sacrifice my time because it is an offering to the Lord. I don’t say this to brag or get accolations, but to show you one way in which you can do the same.

God gave up His only son, and that son gave up everything, even to the point of death, just so you can have a chance to enter God’s presence for eternity.

Don’t you think that deserves some thanks? If so, find something that will cost you something and offer it up to the Lord.