When is Being Angry OK?

When Shaul (that nice Jewish tentmaker from Tarsus) wrote his letter to the congregation of Believers in Ephesus, he told them that they should never sin in their anger (Ephesians 4:26), which means it is not a sin to be angry, but when we are angry we must not sin.

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That sounds a little convoluted, and the way I interpret it is that we are allowed to be angry if the reasons are justifiable. And even though we may be justifiably angry, that doesn’t allow us to do or say something sinful while in the heat of our emotional stress.

For example, Yeshua was unquestionably pissed-off at the people in the Temple who were charging exorbitant fees for money exchange and selling sacrificial animals that were not eligible to be sacrificed. His anger was intense and totally justified, although I would question if what he did was as justified. Overturning their tables and using a whip may fall into that grey area known as a “maybe-but-maybe-not-sinful” thing.

Today’s discussion, however, isn’t about what Yeshua did then, but about what we do when we get angry.

In my personal case, the one thing that gets under my skin faster than almost anything else is when I hit a bad golf shot. Especially if I am having a good game. I have tried to remember that it is, after all, only a game but I can’t stand doing less than I know I am capable of doing.

And I often fail to observe Shaul’s warning, finding myself hitting the ground, stomping my feet, and occasionally trying to outdistance the ball with my club. Oh, yes, while I am confessing, I should also mention that too often at that time I channel my past military language, using words that could melt the backing off of a mirror.

I think that is a good example of sinning in one’s anger, and I do apologize to my golf buddies who are very quick to accept my apology.

For an example of my being really angry but not sinning, I recently had a lot of trouble with a national carpeting company (who shall remain nameless but you might recognize them if you watched the second Star Wars movie, Episode 5) who promised delivery and installation but failed to do so three times in a row. We had to empty both my wife’s office and mine, so there were books, computers, desk drawers, pretty much everything in the rooms spewed all over the dining room floor and half the living room in preparation for their coming, which didn’t get completed until after 6 days. After the first failure to install when they said they would, they upgraded us to a better carpet (which was in stock) but when that came they didn’t deliver enough for both rooms. I had to keep calling their dispatcher and when I talked with him I was very vocal (that means loud and angry) but I didn’t curse and I didn’t say anything to insult him or his company. I did say I didn’t like the way they did business and insisted on more discounts or I would cancel. In fact, I threatened to cancel numerous times (and meant it) but we were really stuck since the biggest problem was not being able to use our offices and no other carpet company would be able to do an install for at least 2-3 weeks. Finally, after 6 days they managed to get enough carpet to do both rooms.

In case you’re interested, the installation crews were very friendly and professional, and the new carpet looks great.

These two examples show the difference between sinning in my anger, and not sinning. Golf gets me to backslide in a heartbeat (but I am getting better) and incompetence makes me angry, but not where I end up sinning over it. The question remains about which of these examples, if either, justified my becoming angry?

I would say (and I should know because I picked these two examples, myself) that getting angry over a bad golf shot is unjustifiable. Why? Because it is the result of my pridefulness, and there is no other reason to be angry. And what is worse is that I usually end up making up for a bad shot or a bad hole later on in the game, so 99% of the time I am still shooting my normal score. The anger is totally unjustified and sinful because it is initiated by sin -the sin of pridefulness.

Now, with the carpet incident, my anger was justified because I was misled, the people I am paying to do a job were being incompetent and inattentive, and they were causing both myself and my wife a lot of inconveniences. I believe that because that anger was not caused by my sin but was justified, I was able to express my anger without sinning.

You know, maybe that is the answer to the question: it is OK to be angry when the cause of your anger is not generated by your own sin.

If something makes you angry, the first thing to do is ask yourself why you are angry. If you are angry because someone has sinned against you (or God), then your anger is justified; that doesn’t mean you can sin back, but because the sin is not yours, you should be able to express your anger without sinning.

On the other hand, if you are angry because someone did something that you didn’t want them to do, and your pride is hurt, then the anger comes from your sin and automatically you have sinned in your anger. Even if what they did was wrong, if you’re angry because of your pride (which I believe is the mother of all sins), then even if you withhold your tongue and act calmly, you still have sinned in your anger.

I think that is the key: when Shaul said to not sin in our anger, maybe he meant that when we are angry we must be angry for reasons that are not sinful. In other words, it isn’t the anger itself that is the issue, but why we are angry. If we are angry for sinful reasons, then we have sinned in our anger, but if we are angry for a reason that is not based on our sinfulness, then that anger is OK.

As we close this discussion, let me repeat -just for the record- that even if your anger is justified you still aren’t allowed to do anything that is sinful when you express your anger.

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Why Three Sacrifices at a Time?

The Sacrificial System is outlined, in detail, in the first 7 chapters of Vayikra (Leviticus.) In those chapters, we learn about the sin, guilt, peace, thanksgiving, and burnt offerings; what animals are to be used and what condition they must be in, how they are to be treated, what to do with the different parts of the animals, and finally how the ones presenting them must act.

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The next couple of chapters deal with the consecration of the Cohanim (Aaron and his sons) and the general rules for what the people are to do when they sin.

In Chapter 9, when God tells Moses that he will appear before the people, there isn’t just a single sacrifice to be made in preparation for that event; God commands that the Cohen must make three separate sacrifices for the assembly before God can appear to them.

The first sacrifice is a sin sacrifice, followed by a burnt offering, and the third sacrifice is a peace offering, also called a friendship or thanksgiving sacrifice.

Why three sacrifices? If I sacrifice for my sin, why do I need to do more? Doesn’t God promise that we will be forgiven when we confess our sins and sacrifice, asking for forgiveness by means of the innocent blood (of the sacrifice) that was shed on our behalf? If that’s true, why do more?

That’s a good question, and it has a good answer.

The sin sacrifice is the innocent blood to be shed by which we are forgiven- we all know that. And when we ask for forgiveness, it is assumed that the sin we committed is one we don’t want to commit again. In fact, when we are forgiven, we want to remain “clean” for as long as we can. Asking to be forgiven with the attitude that once forgiven, I am free to sin again is a wrong attitude (although many times this has been part of the traditional Christian doctrine of “once saved, always saved”, which isn’t true.)

The burnt offering, which comes next, represents a total commitment to God, which translates into one word: obedience. We sacrifice something valuable to us without giving up any of its parts- the whole thing gets the altar treatment. It is burned up completely to demonstrate that we not only atoned for the sin we committed but that we are recommitting ourselves to obey God’s instructions going forward. It is our T’shuvah, our turning from sin that the burnt sacrifice represents.

The last sacrifice, the peace or friendship offering, is what now completes the cycle, bringing us into communion with God because having been cleansed of our sin and recommitted to him, we can now come into his presence.

The three sacrifices do this:

  1. Cleanse us of our sin;
  2.  Renew our commitment to stay in covenant with God; and
  3. By reason of our cleansing and recommitment, allow us to be in the presence of the Almighty.

The question now is, with the temple in Jerusalem gone, is the sacrificial system gone, as well? God said the only place we can sacrifice is where he put his name (Exodus 20:24 and Deuteronomy 12:11), which was the temple in Jerusalem, so without a temple how can we sacrifice and be cleansed of our sins?

The answer to that question is the sacrificial system is NOT gone, but it has been changed somewhat: the need to bring your sacrifice to the temple has been replaced by Yeshua. We still need to recognize, own up to, confess, and want to atone for the sins we commit. We still need to ask for forgiveness, but bringing a sheep or a goat to the temple has been replaced by the sacrifice of Yeshua.

Although the burnt and peace offerings cannot be performed, through our union with Yeshua we can come into God’s presence.

There is a constant debate about whether or not the sacrificial system will be reinstituted in the Olam Haba, the World to Come. Personally, I believe it will be, but not for sin or guilt sacrifices. The burnt and peace offerings will continue because they are designed to strengthen our relationship with God. I believe the Olam Haba will be a world returned to the peaceful way of life that is found in an agricultural economy; especially when the world we live in will be like Eden, with no bad weather or drought or famine.

The ancient sacrificial system, realistically, couldn’t work in our current service economy and has little chance to exist in the technological world we all live in today. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t perform the steps that the system is founded on: recognize and accept our sins, atone and ask for forgiveness, and recommit to God to sin less in the future so that we can continue to come closer to him.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe and share these messages with friends and family, or anyone you know who they might help. And don’t forget to check out my entire website (Messianicmoment.com) because there are pictures and some fun videos you may enjoy, as well as links to be able to purchase any of the books I have written.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch Ha Shem!

To Xmas or Not to Xmas: What is the Answer?

Now that all the annoying open registration for Medicare commercials are gone we have a new hot topic, which rolls around every December: the argument about Christmas, specifically addressing this question: “Is celebrating Christmas a sin or not?”

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Let me say, first and foremost, I will not present an answer, mainly ’cause I ain’t got one. I know what is right for me, and what is right for others, whether they agree with me or not. There are valid arguments from both sides of this debate, all of which are verifiable in the Bible.

Let’s start with some things we can all agree on (at least, I hope we can):

  1. We should never worship any God but the true God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;
  2. God knows our hearts and minds, and is a compassionate, understanding God who loves his children;
  3. A Holy Day is a celebration (or festival) we are commanded to observe and can be found in Leviticus Chapter 23, whereas a holiday is a man-made celebration not specifically required by God;
  4. Yeshua (Jesus) was not really born on December 25, but most likely sometime around Sukkot;
  5. Constantine created Christmas, which occurs around the same time as the pagan celebration called Saturnalia;
  6. Christmas, which was originally created to celebrate the arrival of the Messiah, has been corrupted and mutated into a marketing machine.

If we are all on the same page so far (which would be really good!), let’s keep going.

First off, Yeshua did not condemn all man-made traditions, only those that superseded the instructions God gave us. As far as holidays go, just because they aren’t required by God does not mean they are forbidden by God. This misuse of the Law of Contraposition is one of the main arguments put forth by those that say if it isn’t in the Bible, it is a sin.  If so, then you also have to do away with Purim, Rosh Hashanah, Hanukkah, the Fast of the 9th Day of Av, Yom HaShoah, as well as the non-religious holidays of New Year’s, Fourth of July, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Labor Day….need I go on?

God said we must observe specific festivals, he also said, more than once and through different prophets that sometimes our celebration of his commanded festivals and sacrifices was an abomination to him. He said that in some cases the sacrifice wasn’t a pleasant aroma but a stench in his nostrils (look it up if you don’t believe me), and that he finds no pleasure in the blood of sheep or bulls.

Now, if God commanded us to perform these rituals, and we did, why is he saying he won’t accept them? Actually, more than that, he said not only won’t he accept them but that he hates what we are doing!

The answer is because our hearts were not in it. We were just going through the motions and not because we loved him and wanted to honor him.

In other words, God is not interested in our performance as much as he is interested in our intentions. Can we agree on that?

The Bible is clear that God doesn’t want performance, but heartfelt worship and honor; what we do in celebration of God is supposed to be done with a genuine desire to honor God. That is what he tells us he wants.

Remember how Yeshua told of the Pharisee and the tax collector both praying in the Synagogue? (Luke 18:9-14) This is a perfect example of what I am talking about, which is that God sees the heart and knows the mind, and when we come to him in supplication, with a contrite spirit and humility, he hears us and appreciates what we are doing. In this drash, Yeshua pointed out that the prayer of the “righteous” Pharisee, who was doing things as they should be done but had an improper attitude, was less acceptable then the prayer of the tax collector, who was a sinner but came before God humbly and spoke from his heart.

My wife was raised Roman Catholic, and Christmas to her represents family time together; the traditions of the tree, decorations around the house, and the gathering of family and friends are all that matters to her. Why Christmas was invented, what this time of the year used to mean, and any other reasons that Christmas is supposedly a sin, have nothing to do with her celebration. Our celebration isn’t even about the birth of Yeshua but is a non-religious activity.  And I think it is that way for many Gentiles.

I also believe that God knows why she is celebrating Christmas and doesn’t have a problem with that. It is no different than Thanksgiving or New Year’s or a birthday (oh, yeah- I forgot that celebrating our birthday is also a sin to some people.)

When Constantine created Christmas, he did not just rebrand Saturnalia but used it to replace Saturnalia, a pagan holiday. Allow me to point out there is a BIG difference between rebranding and replacing. When we rebrand something, it is the same thing with a different name. When we replace something, it is a different thing, altogether.

Here is an example: In January of 2018, Coca-Cola rebranded Diet Coke to be more appealing to the Millennial demographic. According to the website, Marketwatch: “The beverage giant said Diet Coke isn’t being reformulated, but is “re-energizing” for a different consumer demographic.” This is what rebranding means- the same thing with a different name.

Now, to stay with Coca-Cola, when they came out with New Coke, that wasn’t a rebranding but a replacement of “old” Coke. And, as you may recall, it was such a dismal failure that they had to bring the original Coke back into the market. Those were two totally different things.

Christmas, whatever you may think of it, is NOT Saturnalia and it is not associated with Pagan worship. As for the Christmas tree, it is not a pagan symbol: in fact, within Judaism, the tree is very important. There is the Tree of Life (Aitz Chaim Hee), which has been an integral part of our prayers, and the Bible uses the tree symbolically to represent the grafting in of Gentiles. If anything, the tree is the one thing about Christmas that is totally biblical!

I hope we can all agree that when we do something, whatever it is, to honor God and/or honor the Messiah (not worship Messiah, but honor him), and what we do is NOT in direct violation of a given commandment, God will consider our reasons and our desires, and look to our heart to see if we are genuinely desiring to please him.

If we can agree to that, then the celebration of Christmas could be acceptable to God, if he looks at it on an individual, case-by-case basis. That means the question of celebrating Christmas being right or wrong is between God and the person celebrating.

And, being God, even with the millions who celebrate this holiday, he can know each and every person’s heart and reason for celebrating.

Thank you for being here. I welcome comments and hope you will subscribe and share this ministry with others.

Until the next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

What Does “Freedom in Christ” Really Mean?

I did a search on the Internet asking what freedom in Christ really means. Now, I know you can’t trust the Internet, but it does give us an idea of what others are being told.

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One site said it means freedom from regulations and following rules. Another said it is freedom from being a slave to sin. Another said it was freedom to make our own choices (I thought we could do that anyway), and still, another said it is freedom to see things clearly.

The prevalent idea seems to be freedom from being under the curse of the law, which means freedom from sin since we are taught that Yeshua took our sins upon him when he was crucified.

All of these ideas have a grain of truth to them, but I think it is simpler than what they say. Yes, Yeshua made it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins because he is the substitution for the animal we are commanded to bring to the temple in Jerusalem. God’s Torah states we cannot sacrifice to him anywhere other than where he places his name (Deuteronomy 12:13); when the temple was destroyed in 73 AD, Jews had no way to be forgiven of their sins.

Except through Messiah Yeshua.

Yeshua and his Disciples never taught that the freedom in Yeshua was the freedom to disobey. That is what the Enemy of God wants us to think; it is no different than the line he used on Eve (Genesis 3:4) when he told her, “you will surely not die“, and we all know how that turned out.  Anyone who teaches freedom in Christ means freedom from the law is working for the wrong guy.

I believe that the true freedom in Christ is simply and solely what the Bible tells us it is: freedom from the second death.

Isaiah 25:7-8 says:

On this mountain he will destroy the veil which covers the face of all peoples, the veil enshrouding all the nations.  He will swallow up death forever. Adonai Elohim will wipe away the tears from every face, and he will remove from all the earth the disgrace his people suffer.

which is referenced by Shaul in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 when he says:

When what decays puts on imperishability and what is mortal puts on immortality, then this passage in the Tanakh will be fulfilled: Death is swallowed up in victory. Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?  The sting of death is sin, and sin draws its power from the Torah; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah!

The freedom we have when we accept Yeshua as our Messiah is not so much freedom from our sins, but freedom from the spiritual consequences of our sins, which is the second death. All will die, and all will come before God for judgment. Those who do not have Yeshua as their Intercessor will have nothing more than their own righteousness to save them from eternal separation from God’s presence.

And we all know how righteous we are compared to what God wants from us: as Isaiah said, all our righteous deeds are but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6.)

Yeshua did not free us from obedience to God; in fact, he reinforced everything that we are instructed to do in the Torah. What he did that was different was that he taught us the Remes, the deeper, spiritual understanding of the law.  The Pharisees only taught the P’shat, the literal meaning of the words, but Yeshua gave us a deeper, more spiritual and more intimate understanding of God’s instructions.

We still need to do as Yeshua did, which is to follow (to the best of our ability) the instructions God gave to all people that are in the Torah. We can’t be perfectly obedient, and that is why God sent the Messiah to us: through the Messiah, we can find freedom from the second death. We all sin and therefore we all deserve death, and ever since that day when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, without Yeshua, there is no forgiveness of sin.

The true meaning of freedom in Christ is that when we accept Yeshua as our Messiah, we will be free from the spiritual consequences of our sins.

One last point and warning: being free from the spiritual consequence of our sins doesn’t mean we won’t suffer those consequences while we are still alive.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe if you haven’t done so, already. I welcome your comments and look forward to our next time together. Until then, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Speaking Can’t be Erased

There is a story I once heard that provides the basis for today’s message.

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A man once spread gossip about his Rabbi. Later, he felt bad about it and went to his Rabbi to apologize. He asked if there was anything he could do to make it better, and the Rabbi asked him, “Do you have a feather pillow?” The man, a little taken back, said that he did. The Rabbi told him “Take the pillow into a large field of grass on a windy day, split the top open and swing the pillow around your head. Then, come back to me.”

The man did as he was told, and when he went back the Rabbi asked what happened. The man said, “It was really beautiful, Rabbi. The feathers floated here and there, everywhere, and it looked like snow. But, Rabbi…what does this have to do with my spreading gossip about you?”

The Rabbi said, “Go back out to that field and pick up all the feathers.”

Gossip isn’t the only thing we do that cannot be taken back. Angry words, nasty comments, and a discompassionate attitude are all things that, once done, cannot be retracted.

Oh, yes- we can apologize, and we may be forgiven, but for most people, the rule is “Once bitten, twice shy.” And many people, to their own detriment, will take the attitude that once you do something to them they don’t like, they will never have anything to do with you, at all.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean trusting again, it doesn’t mean loving again, and it doesn’t mean wanting to be friends again. Forgiving others who hurt us is something we must do, not for their sake but for our own. We will never get past the hurt until we forgive. But, as I said, forgiving doesn’t mean having to re-establish the previous relationship. I can be forgiven for saying something, but that person doesn’t have to trust me or even speak to me, ever again.

The Bible is clear that we must always watch what we say. We read about it in Proverbs, in Psalms, in the Gospels and the Epistles. We must always be wary of what we say and how we say it, if not only to avoid hurting someone but (more importantly) not to do or say anything that will dishonor God.

Remember in Psalm 51, when David asked God to forgive him for the sin he committed against Uriah, the Hittite and with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba? He said (Psalm51:4):

Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight;

Any and all sins we commit are, first and foremost, against God because we have done something he said we must not do. And when we ask for forgiveness, it must first be from God. When we come to judgment, it will be God who is the judge, so we better make sure we have nothing for him to hold against us. If we only go to the one we sinned against to ask forgiveness, even if he (or she) forgives us, they are not God.

When God forgives us, we have re-established our relationship with him; when someone else forgives us, it doesn’t have anything at all to do with our relationship with God. It affects their relationship with God, but not ours.

No one other than God can forgive your sins, and because there is no longer any temple in Jerusalem (where the Torah commands we must bring our sin sacrifice) the only way to receive forgiveness of our sins today is through the substitutionary sacrifice that Yeshua ha Maschiach made for us.

Therefore, be very, VERY careful what you say. Always think before you speak, and if you have even the slightest doubt that what you are saying (or writing) may be taken the wrong way, then shut up!

I say this not as someone who knows how to shut up, but as someone who has made a profession of not shutting up in time.

I know all about sin because I have so much experience doing it. God forgive me for my weakness and strengthen me to sin less each day.

Amen!

Thank you for being here and please share me out to help this ministry to grow. I never ask for money, I just want to spread the truth about God so that people can make an informed decision, based not on their religious doctrine but on what God says.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch haShem!

Parashah Balak 2019 (Balak) Numbers 22:2 – 25:9

The Israelites had just defeated Og and Sihon and were encamped outside the border of Moab. The king, Balak, has emissaries go to Bilyam (that is the correct pronunciation of his name), a sorcerer of renown, asking that he come and curse the Israelites so that they will not be able to defeat Balak’s armies. Bilyam, who is a sorcerer and user of divination (both of these considered sinful by Adonai) sacrifices and calls on Adonai for guidance. And Adonai answers him! He tells him not to go, and Bilyam obeys, sending the emissaries back to Balak.

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This isn’t acceptable to Balak, who sends more important men with promises of greater reward. Bilyam tells this second group of emissaries (Numbers 22:18):

 And Bilyam answered and said unto the servants of Balak: “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord, my God, to do anything, small or great.”

However, after saying he can’t go against God, for some reason he again asks God if he can go, and God says if he is called then he can go. On the way, God sends an angel to prevent Bilyam from going, and although Bilyam doesn’t see the angel, his donkey does. The donkey avoids the angel no less than three times, the third time (with no way to pass) the donkey stopped and dropped to its knees. As Bilyam beats it with a stick, the donkey is given the power of speech by God and talks to Bilyam.  Then God allows Bilyam to see the angel, sword drawn and ready to kill, and Bilyam asks forgiveness for going and says he will return.

But God has a better plan and tells Bilyam to go, ordering him to say only what God gives him to say. Bilyam arrives, and three times instead of cursing the people, he blesses them. This infuriates Balak, who sends Bilyam back without pay.

The parashah ends with the Israelites being seduced into sin by the Moabite women, and in the midst of a plague sent by Adonai to punish them, Pincus, the son of Aaron, stays the plague by killing an Israelite and Moabite woman who were flaunting their sinful relationship right in front of Moses.

Later in the Bible, we learn that this seduction (which was designed to make the people sin and have God destroy them) was the brainchild of Bilyam!

There is just so much in here to work with. However, I am going to do something different than I usually do with this parashah, and talk about Bilyam’s seemingly schizophrenic personality.

Let’s first look at something Jeremiah will say hundreds of years from this time, in Jeremiah 17:9:

 The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceeding weak- who can know it?

Bilyam is a study in contradiction. He comes from Mesopotamia, the same place where Abraham came from, and we know that Bilyam knows of God because (as we saw above) he refers to God as “the Lord, my God.”  This makes him a “Believer”, yet he is also a known sorcerer and diviner, which God strictly forbade his people to perform.

Like Bilyam, our desires, our thoughts, and our actions are not always completely in accordance with our stated beliefs. We may be cruel to our loved ones, yet gentle and compassionate to a pet. We may worship every Shabbat and be “Born Again”, but we sin during the week and figure it will be OK because we will ask for forgiveness at services later that week.

Human beings are not perfect (oh- really? What a surprise!) and we will often do that which we don’t really want to do, and more often than not, not do what we want to do. Hmmm….doesn’t that sound like someone else you know? Maybe that nice Jewish tent-maker from Tarsus? (Romans 7:18.)

Bilyam did as God said when he first asked to go with the king’s men by refusing to go. But the second time they came back Bilyam was told that if the men call him, he can go but speak only what God tells him to say. Yet, after giving Bilyam the OK to go, God sends the angel to stop him, even if it had to kill him.

Why did God say go if he didn’t want him to go?

The Talmud says that audacity may prevail even before God. It states that Bilyam’s insistence to go wrested from God his consent to go, but God also warned him of the consequences, saying that he finds no pleasure in the destruction of sinners, but if he (Bilyam) is bound to go, then go. In that case, it makes sense: God already said not to go, but Bilyam insisted that he really wanted to go, so God said, essentially, “If you are determined to go, then go but remember that I already told you not to go and when I say something, I mean it!”

With all due respect to the Talmud, I have a different idea. I believe that the second time Bilyam asked if he could go, knowing that God already told him these people cannot be cursed because they are blessed, God said that if Bilyam was being summoned by the king by royal order, then he can go.

In other words, if Balak was giving a royal command that Bilyam must go to him, then God would give permission to go only so that Bilyam does not disobey a royal order. However, this second group was not ordering him to go, they were still just asking. There was no royal command to appear, so when Bilyam went, he was really going because he wanted the reward and intended to do as Balak asked, going against God’s commandment not to curse the people. That is why God sent the angel to stop him.

We all have the potential to be obedient and disobedient, based solely on our innate selfishness and iniquity. This is something that must be conquered, but to conquer it we must first take possession of it. What I mean is that we must recognize our own natural sinfulness; when we recognize what we are (know thyself?) then we can recognize what we are doing. How many people do you know that do something terrible without really realizing what they are doing? They speak cruelly to others, they act without compassion, or they steal and cheat but excuse it away. They do these things, and many times think they are really a nice person.

Since I have been saved by Messiah Yeshua, I say: “I used to be a sinner that rationalized my sins; now I am a sinner who regrets my sins.”

This confession of mine demonstrates what I am talking about- we were sinners who were saved when our sins were forgiven, but we are still sinners!! Being forgiven for our sins means being forgiven for the ones we have performed, not for anything that comes after. We are required to repent and ask forgiveness for every single sin we commit throughout our lifetime. There is no automatic forgiveness clause in the “Sinner’s Prayer.”

The lesson to learn from this parashah is that we are all sinners at heart, and only when we can own up to our own iniquity, realize that it is always there, and always will be there whether we are “saved” or not, then we will better be able to recognize when we do sin. We will also know when we want to sin and thereby work (with God’s help through his Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit) to overcome that sin.

One sin at a time. We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less; pray for forgiveness, ask for help in recognizing sin before you do it, and settle for one less sin each day.

That is my daily prayer, and I think it is a good one.

Thank you for being here. Please (as I always ask) subscribe and my campaign on Gofundme to send Bibles and Bible study materials to three Ugandan Messianic synagogues will be shut down next Friday, July 19 so if you haven’t donated, please do so now. Here is the link:

Ugandan Synagogue Help

Tonight begins the Shabbat, so Shabbat Shalom!

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Which is More Important?

Like many people, I get my best ideas when I am doing something totally different than working, such as when I am in the shower or riding my bicycle.

The other day, as I was riding along on my bike and praying, I started to think about which would be more important for us as Believers to do: is it more important to not sin or is it more important to repent of our sin?

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

The answer seems obvious- just don’t sin. If we don’t sin, then we have nothing to repent of and nothing to be concerned about because not sinning is the pathway to salvation.

I know- you are saying that we are saved by faith, not works, but the truth is if we lived a sinless life, we would be demonstrating perfect faith, wouldn’t we? In fact, if we lived a sinless life, as Yeshua did, we could be certain of salvation.

Of course, it then struck me that there is a significant fly in the ointment with regard to living a sinless life, which is this:  no one can live a sinless life.

TIME OUT

There are just too many places where the Bible tells us that we all sin, so I am not going to quote chapter and verse. If you need to verify that we all sin, do the research. It will be a good experience for you.

TIME IN

I often say “We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less“, and that is how I try to live out my life, but even that is hard to do. So what is left to us? Repentance, and trying harder.

The obvious answer is not the right answer because even though living a sinless life is what we want to do, it is not possible, so the most important thing to do is to repent. And I mean REAL repentance, not just saying”

 

 

and going on with our life as if we did nothing wrong, thinking a simple apology is enough.

It isn’t. God sees and knows the heart and minds of everyone, so if you are not really sorry for having sinned against him- and every sin is first and foremost a sin against God- he will know. He won’t accept insincerity and he can’t be fooled.

And it gets worse: many, many people have their religious leaders telling them that if they confess their sins they can be forgiven. Well, that is biblically accurate, but the truth is that we have to really feel bad about sinning, not just confess we did it and continue to sin. Unrepentant repentance may get you absolved by a Priest or given the “OK” by your Pastor, but it won’t hold water with the Big Guy upstairs. As for mainstream Jews, meaning Jews who haven’t accepted Yeshua yet, repentance is necessary but they also have to accept Yeshua as their Messiah because, without him, there is no means to be forgiven since the Jerusalem temple is gone, and that was the only place (according to the Torah) where a sin sacrifice could be accepted.

Without Yeshua’s substitutionary sacrifice, no one (Jew or Gentile) can be forgiven of their sin.

Therefore, the answer to my original question is this: it is more important to be truly repentant than it is to not sin because we cannot avoid sinning but we can always be repentant. And when we really feel bad about something, it motivates us to better discipline ourselves to not do that something, again. True- it doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s no excuse to stop trying.

That old cop-out “I am what I am” may be OK for Popeye, but not for those who want to please God.

Thank you for being here and please remember to subscribe. Also, I am going to have to wind down my campaign to send Bibles and Bible study materials to poor Ugandans who follow this ministry, so please send something to help me to help them at the link below:

Ugandan Ministry Appeal

Please help- I don’t usually send money through the Internet, but this is a legit cause, and I barely have 1/3 of what I need. I will end up paying for the copies of my books they want out of my own pocket, so please help with money for Messianic Bibles and prayer shawls, and especially just to help defray the exorbitant cost of mailing these items.

Remember that God blesses those who bless others.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

 

Parashah Metzora 2019 (laws for the leper) Leviticus 14 – 15

These two chapters deal with the instructions for cleansing a person from the skin disease usually identified as leprosy (Tzara’at in Hebrew), as well as cleansing of the house if there is a form of Tzara’at (probably an infectious or dangerous mold) in the plaster of the house.  Chapter 15 deals with the instructions regarding any issuance of a bodily fluid.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

The prior chapters taught us how the Cohen (Priest) is to identify Tzara’at in a person and these chapters give God’s instructions for the cleansing, once it has been determined that the person is no longer unclean (or infectious.) Only after the person has been completely cleaned may they re-enter the camp and the Sanctuary.

The basic formula is to bring two animals for sacrifice: one is a sin sacrifice and the other a burnt offering. The sacrifices are performed in this order since the sin sacrifice cleanses the person (spiritually) and the burnt offering represents their rededication to total commitment in obeying God’s instructions.

What I would like to talk about is the instruction in Leviticus 14:14, which is the placing of some of the blood of the guilt offering on the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the big toe of the right foot.  This is the same procedure when anointing a Cohen.

This placing of the blood represents a consecration of the entire body. We know that placing the blood of the sacrifice on the horns of the altar, as well as sprinkling it on something, makes that thing holy. So, too, the placing of this blood on a person makes them holy, or more correctly in this case, re-consecrates them to the Lord.

The reason for placing it on the ear, thumb, and foot is explained in the Chumash this way: the priest must have his ears consecrated so that he will always be attentive to the commands of God; his hands are consecrated so that at all times he will do God’s will; and his feet consecrated to walk from that time on in holy ways.

When we review the anointing of the Cohanim and the cleansing of people from their sins, we see a pattern. We first ask for forgiveness through the sin and/or guilt sacrifice (this places us in a spiritually clean condition), followed by a burnt sacrifice which represents our total devotion to God. Finally, the blood which cleanses us from the sin is also used to anoint and consecrate us to doing as God instructs.

Only after we have been made “whole” again can we re-enter the camp (physical world), the community (spiritual world), and the Sanctuary (presence of God.)

Today, we don’t bring our sacrifice to the Temple in Jerusalem for two reasons: first, it isn’t there anymore (DUH!) and second, we don’t need to because the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua replaced that one part of the sacrificial system. Thanks to Yeshua, we can be forgiven of our sins right in the comfort of our own home. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t perform, at least in our hearts and minds, the placing of the blood on our ear, thumb, and foot! That action was very important because of what it symbolized, and if we forget about it (because we don’t really have any blood with us) we might neglect to mentally and spiritually rededicate ourselves.

You may ask, “Why do we have to rededicate ourselves at all?” The answer is because when we sin we separate ourselves from God: sin places us outside the camp of the Almighty. We are not under his wings, not in his presence, and thereby unable to properly serve him in whatever house of worship you go to.

This is a hard word to hear, but the Torah tells us it is a fact: when we sin, we are separated from God and outside of his presence. In order to reenter his presence, we must first be cleansed of that sin, then rededicate ourselves to hearing, doing and walking as God directs. Those directions are on the roadmap called the Torah.

So, the next time you ask for forgiveness in Yeshua’s name by means of his bloody sacrifice, don’t forget to place some of his blood on your right ear, thumb, and foot. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually present yourself before the Lord with a heartfelt desire to start all over again, but this time with an even stronger will to sin less than you had sinned before. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you won’t sin again- we all will. Sinning is something God expects of us, and he assumes it might be by accident. That is why he gave us instructions in Leviticus 5:17 specifically for sins we committed accidentally or didn’t know we had done.

Every time we sin we are in the same position Yeshua was just before he gave up his spirit and cried out:

“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”)

He was forsaken, meaning ejected from God’s presence, the very moment he took on the sins of the world because sin separates us from God.

Don’t beat yourself up when you sin, but do make sure when you ask for forgiveness by means of the blood of the Messiah that you remember to place that blood on yourself; consecrate yourself to hear, work and walk in obedience to God’s instructions, and rededicate yourself to do better.

Thank you for being here, and please SUBSCRIBE by clicking on the subscribe button in the right-hand margin. Also, use the link above to go to my YouTube channel and subscribe there, as well.

I welcome your comments and suggestions, all I ask is (you’ve heard this before) …be nice.

This being Friday, I wish you all Shabbat Shalom and until next time, Baruch HaShem!

How to Deal with Being a Sinner

Like it or not, you are a sinner. I am a sinner, and we all are not only sinners but sinful, filled with the desire to sin (which is called “iniquity”.)

So, how do we deal with this? We do that by, well…dealing with it. We can’t escape it, we can’t stop it, but we can learn to control it better than we used to.

The best answer I can give you is what I always say:  We can never be sinless, but we can always sin less. 

(No video today.)

Grace is what we call forgiveness from the sins we commit, but it is on a spiritual level; in the physical realm, we will always have to suffer from the consequences of our sins. And even worse than that- many times it will be the innocent people who we care about that suffer, as well.

There exists within Christianity a very popular teaching (popular because it removes any feeling of guilt or responsibility) that says once we have asked forgiveness in Yeshua’s name, we are forgiven forever. The term used is OSAS (Once Saved, Always Saved), and it is a lie from the pit of Sheol.  It makes one feel good about sinning and removes any feelings of repentance.

How?  Simple: when we think no matter what we do, we are automatically forgiven then we don’t worry about what we do. This is NOT the way to deal with your sinfulness.

Oh, yes, there are some who will make the excuse that the Holy Spirit will guide us and prevent us from doing wrong; others will say the Torah was already written on our hearts the moment we accepted Jesus.  Both are wrong.  Salvation is not a momentary change of heart, it is a life-long process. The Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) may warn us when we are about to sin, but if someone has been taught their sins are automatically forgiven why would they worry about listening to the little angel on their shoulder saying, “Uh, uh, uh- you really shouldn’t!”?  Especially when the little devil on the other shoulder is saying, “Don’t listen to that one- you are already saved by the blood of Christ! If you think you have to obey God to be saved, you are not under the blood but under the law!”

That’s the same guy who told Eve, “You certainly won’t die.”

What do you think? If I continue to sin because I think I am already saved, is God going to accept me into his presence? Will my ignorance be forgiven and my sinfulness ignored because the reason I rejected his instructions in the Torah was a result of someone telling me I didn’t have to obey them?

I don’t think so.

I can’t speak for God, but I’m pretty sure that if I came before him on Judgement Day and said, “I am sorry I rejected your instructions, but my (Priest/Minister/Pastor/whatever) told me I didn’t have to obey them”, he might say something like: “I understand, my child, that someone told you what to do, but it’s what I say that counts!”

What was “nailed to the cross”, as Shaul (Paul) tells us, was not every sin we will ever commit, but only every sin we have already committed. The past is forgiven, but the future remains open. We can continually work at being better or we can continue to sin and make excuses. This is a very important truth to understand or you cannot properly deal with your sinning.

Let me remind you of the main point in this message- we WILL continue to sin. One way or the other, we each have to deal with this.

When we face up to the fact that we are sinful, the way to deal with it is the way God tells us to in the Torah: obey the instructions he gave us and when we sin, repent and ask forgiveness through Yeshua’s sacrifice. When we do that we can trust his promise that we will have life, eternal.

God says in Ezekiel 18 and elsewhere, throughout the Tanakh, that if we obey we will have life, meaning life eternal. We still suffer from sins on earth, yet we will be forgiven in the resurrection. BUT..only if we remain repentant and continually ask for forgiveness, demonstrating the genuineness of our repentance by working, every day until we are dead, to sin less each day.

Most of Christianity teaches an easy path to salvation: trust in Jesus and you’re saved forever. That sounds nice, but you know the old saying: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Yeshua said that if we want to follow him, we must each of us pick up our execution stake and walk after him. If that sounds like a cake-walk to you, you have a real problem with comprehension!

And the Enemy? He wants you to believe that, and sometimes he will try to make you feel so bad about sinning that you might just think, “I can never stop sinning, no matter how hard I try! I might as well chuck it all and just enjoy myself. Why should I beat myself up any more for something I can’t control?”  It should be obvious this is not how to deal with your sin.

We are sinners, we always will be, and that’s not okay but it is the way things are. We deal with it, first of all, by taking possession of our own iniquity, owning up to our weaknesses, and asking God’s help to be obedient to his instructions.

Think about it: God created this game called “Life, Death, and Resurrection”, and he gave us the instructions telling us how to win it.  So, nu?  why would anyone want to ignore them?

Amen?….AMEN!!

Thank you for being here, and if you like what you have heard please share me out, and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE in the right-hand margin.

I welcome comments, just be nice, and until next time…L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Vayyikra 2019 (And he called) Leviticus 1 – 5

We are now starting the third book of the Torah, which is the central book. This book has also been called the Torah of the Priests, mainly because it is almost exclusively about the priestly duties, to include knowing what is sinful and what is not with regards to our everyday activities.

If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.

The first 7 chapters deal with the sacrificial system, and this parashah outlines the regulations for the sacrifice, which also includes offerings. There are two main offerings: the meal offering and the First Fruits offering. This parashah also tells us the rules for the Sin and Guilt sacrifice.

Sin sacrifices are for those sins committed against other people and the guilt sacrifice is for those sins committed against the tabernacle by causing a loss of holiness, such as misappropriation of property belonging to the Lord or failure to give the Priest his due share of the sacrifice.

One of the things that demonstrates God’s compassion and understanding is that God takes into account those people who may be too poor to be able to give a bull or an ox, or even a sheep. He states that even though a sacrifice may call for the slaughter of a bull, if the person is too poor to afford the animal that is required, he can offer grain and oil and he will receive the same forgiveness as the one sacrificing a bull.

If you ask me, the most important thing we learn from this parashah is Leviticus 5:17, which says:

And if any one sin, and do any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done, though he know it not, yet he is guilty and shall bear his iniquity.

I could do an entire series on that verse, alone, but the lesson I want to share with you today is that the sacrificial system was not done away with when Yeshua was sacrificed. In fact, the sacrificial system is still in effect and just as valid today as it was back when God gave these commandments to Moses.

What stopped us from sacrificing animals was the destruction of the Temple, because in Deuteronomy 12:5-6 we are told that the sacrifice must be made only where God places his name, which was (of course) the Temple in Jerusalem. Before the Temple, the sacrifices were made at Shiloh, where the Tent of Meeting Moses constructed was located.

The sacrificial system is a process that involves 5 separate steps:

  1. The first thing we have to do is sin;
  2. We have to recognize and admit that we have sinned;
  3. We need to repent of that sin- without heartfelt repentance, no sacrifice will be accepted;
  4. The next step is to slaughter the animal called for; and
  5. We must humbly ask for forgiveness by means of the innocent blood that was shed for us (Leviticus 17:11);

When Yeshua died on the execution stake, his innocent blood was shed so that through him, we can be forgiven. The sacrificial system is still in effect, but what changed with Yeshua was that the 4th step- bringing the animal to be slain to the Temple in Jerusalem- was replaced with the substitutionary sacrifice of Yeshua.

The animal sacrifice, which has never been done away with but was replaced by Yeshua, will continue in the Acharit HaYamim (End Days) when the Temple will be reconstructed. The only difference is that there will not be a need for the sin or guilt sacrifice, but the wholly burnt and thanksgiving/peace sacrifice will once again be performed.

There is no biblical reference I can give that absolutely confirms what I just said about the sacrifices continuing in the End Days. However, there is nothing in the Bible that confirms the sacrificial system was ever done away with, either. Today’s message is strictly from my understanding of how the sacrificial system works and how it will be utilized in the End Days.

Whether or not I am right about what will happen in the End Days will not be known for certain until the End Days. In the meantime, I think we can all agree that we should thank God for Yeshua’s substitutionary sacrifice which allows us to fulfill our requirements under the sacrificial system to receive forgiveness of sin.

 

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Tonight begins the Sabbath, so Shabbat Shalom, and until next time L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!