Don’t be Confused by Labels

I often see people posting, and this is exclusively by Gentile believers, asking if they can be called “Jewish”, or (most recently) if they can be a “Hebrew” if they are not Jewish by birth.

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Some people answer them with factoids, such as the word “Hebrew” means “crossed over”, so if they have crossed over to Yeshua then they are a “Hebrew.” Others say you have to be Jewish by birth because Jews and Hebrews are the same. And others answered with something in between these two extremes.

My answer was that it doesn’t matter.

There were some who took my answer as an insult to Judaism and to God since the Jews are his chosen people, but they didn’t see the deeper, spiritual meaning of my answer.

Hebrew, Jew, Christian, Believer, Protestant, Catholic…these and any other specification of one’s religious position or belief are nothing more than social connotations identifying a belief system. They are labels, and as such, they are only as accurate as what a person hearing that label understands it to mean.

In other words, getting all caught up in what people call someone is a form of legalism, concentrating on a social identifier instead of the spiritual condition of the person.

When Yeshua taught from the Torah, he didn’t teach the plain language meaning, which in the Jewish form of biblical exegesis is called the P’shat.

(If you are unfamiliar with this terminology, do a search for “PaRDeS.”)

What Yeshua taught was the Remes, the deeper, spiritual understanding of the law. You can see this best when you read the Sermon on the Mount, where he says they have heard one thing, (which is the P’shat) and then he says that he tells them this (which is the Remes); for instance, he says you have heard it said Do Not Murder (P’shat) but I tell you if you hate your brother in your heart, you have already committed murder (Remes).

My answer regarding labels is a spiritual answer because when we are with God, he doesn’t care about what people called us. He doesn’t care if we were Jewish, or Episcopalian, or Catholic or AME or Muslim, even: all God cares about is where are now, spiritually, and not where we were. And where we are doesn’t have a label, other than (if we have to have one, maybe this is the best label): “Faithful Follower of the Torah.”

That has to be the best label because if we believe in God and Yeshua, we have to follow the instructions God gave us in the Torah, which are the same instructions Yeshua taught us. Through Moses and the Pharisees, we were given a plain language understanding of God’s instructions, and when Yeshua came he took us into the next level of understanding, the spiritual one. Think of it this way: The people were going to God College and from Mt. Sinai until Yeshua, they were taking “Torah 101”, and when Yeshua came those who wanted to advance in their knowledge accepted him and were being taught the advanced class “Torah 202.”

And for those who are studying the Bible every day and striving to understand the deeper, spiritual meaning of God’s word, they are attending Torah graduate school.

There is so much importance given to things that are physical, things of the world, such as labels, pronunciations (if God knows our heart and mind, he knows who we mean when we pray), calendar dates, or anything else that is of the physical world. All of this is nothing more than social convention, something that is P’shat and useful only to identify a physical condition.

Anyone who is adopted or has adopted someone, please let me know if I am wrong about this, but I believe that when parents with their own biological children adopt other children, they do not introduce them as “Johnny is my real child and Harry is only my adopted child.” I believe they say, “These are my sons, Johnny and Harry.”  It is the same with God: when he sees us, he doesn’t care what label the world puts on us, he knows who we are he doesn’t care about what we are called.

I hope I have made myself understandable. It seems to me that there are people who are so passionate about labels, minutia, and non-salvation issues that they literally worship these things, and are so involved in the trees they can’t see the forest anymore.

Are you seeing only the trees? Do you think it is really important to God if you are able to say you are Jewish or a Hebrew, or that your calendar has the exact correct date for Yom Kippur this year, or that you know the only correct way to pronounce the Tetragrammaton?

God sees and knows the heart, which is something we are told throughout the Bible, so why would anyone think that a social convention such as a label or a name would have any importance to God?

I pray that this message gets through to someone because I really believe, and know in my heart, that God wants us to live our lives as best as we can in accordance with his instructions. What label we call ourselves by, what pronunciation we use when addressing God, or what calendar we go by is of no real importance to God- it is only important to people who have little spiritual depth and are concerned about what other people think of them. I am sorry if someone feels insulted or mistreated by that statement, but it is what I believe based on my understanding of God and what he has shown me in his Word.

Let’s finish today with you asking yourself this question: Does God know my feelings without me having to say anything?  If you answered Yes, then he doesn’t need words and therefore, all the labels, pronunciations and other things that are of social use are of no use to him, so work on seeing and learning the spiritual things of God and don’t let yourself get all wrapped up and misled by legalistic definitions or labels. They have no eternal value at all.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe, share this ministry with others, and I welcome comments. Even if you disagree, all I ask is that you do so nicely.

Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Shelach Lecha (Send out) Numbers 13:1-15:41

This parashah tells us of the spies that went into the land and returned after 40 days with a report that disheartened and demoralized the entire camp of the Hebrews.

What really happened was that God provided everything He said He would, brought us to the land He promised our fathers, and showed us it’s wonderful riches.

And we said , “No thanks- we can’t do this.”

After all God showed us, all the miracles, all the battles we had won up to this point against strong enemies, all the wonders He had performed- fire at night, cloud by day, Miriam turning into a leper and recovering, the plagues, the Red Sea splitting, water for millions in the desert, manna from heaven, and on and on and on. After all that, they still only saw what God told them He would do coming as a result of their own strength and their own ability.

Jeez! How stupid can you get?

On the other hand, here is a generation that was raised in slavery, without any self-respect, without any self-confidence or self-governing training. They were, as a result of how they lived and were raised, truly unfit for self-rule. That isn’t a slap in the face, it is a statement of fact. However, for God, that didn’t matter. He proved to them that He was all they needed to be protected and cared for, and after all He did they still weren’t able to trust in Him. They can’t blame their upbringing for that.

He was ready to destroy the entire camp, but with Moses’ intervention, only the 10 spies that spread the bad reports died immediately, the rest died in the desert while wandering for 38 more years.

The parashah ends with God reviewing the regulations for sacrifice, which will happen when they are in the land. This seems out of place, but it is a confirmation that, although God will not allow them to enter the land now, He will bring them in, eventually.

This is a powerful lesson for us- the lesson being that God is always the power behind the action. When we walk with God He will provide and protect, and when we walk on our own we can’t do much at all.

It also shows us that once we have been judged, we are judged. God determined that He would not allow this generation into the land, and when they tried to attack the Canaanites (just another rebellion against God’s commands) they were severely beaten.

How many times do we still “kick against the goads” when we are trying to do something? When the people were given the chance to enter the land, they refused; yes, they were scared and they were feeling helpless in the light of what seemed to be overwhelming odds, but isn’t that the difference between the faithful and the faithless? If Arnold Schwarzenegger beat me up, so what? That would be expected. But if I kicked his Mr. Olympia butt into next week, that has to be the work of a supernatural power! That is what faith can do- help you overcome overwhelming odds.

David beating Goliath, Gideon overcoming an army, Samson killing a lion; these biblical events have one thing in common- God was the real power behind the action. The things these people did was not from the ability of humans, but from the power of God.

We need, even today- no! especially today- to rely on God in everything we do. In today’s world we aren’t attacked just physically but digitally, too. We are having our very identities stolen and we don’t even know it. Financial ruin today is as terrible as a drought or a famine was in biblical days. We face the End Times, which are lurking right around the corner. We are seeing prophecy become fact, hurricanes and Tsunamis, murder, religious genocide, and where is God?

Right where He always has been- in the wings, waiting for us to call on Him to come out to center stage.

The generation that died in the desert deserved that, although it really wasn’t all their fault- they were the result of their upbringing. Yet, Joshua and Caleb were also the result of their upbringing and they didn’t falter or go along with the bad reports. Consequently, they were allowed to go into the land. They had to wait, from no fault of their own, but they made it. And God kept them strong enough to not only conquer their land, but live long enough to enjoy their victory.  God is no respecter of persons, and when someone has done evil in His eyes, whether or not it was by their own choice or a result of what they had been taught, they are accountable.

That is another lesson for us today, which is something you will hear me saying over and over- it doesn’t matter what you are told by people, what matters is what God tells you. Don’t you think there were people in that generation destined to die in the desert that felt it wasn’t their fault? They were just doing and acting like everyone else! And what happened?- because they did what the others told them to do, they were judged as the others were judged. If one sins, and others follow that person in his or her sin, then they are sinners, too. Innocently or by volition, it makes no-never-mind to God: if you follow someone in their sin (just ‘following orders’ is not repentance, it is an excuse) you join them in their judgment.

Yeshua tells us that when the blind lead the blind they BOTH fall into a pit (Matthew 15:14), and that means pleading innocence or ignorance when you are before the Judge of the World, you will be told, “I understand you were just doing as your (fill in whatever religious leader title you want) told you, but it’s what I told you to do that counts. Sorry. Here is your bottle of SPF 10,000 and an umbrella- enjoy your afterlife! Going down!”

God is the power, God is the way, God is the relief, God is everything to everyone, everyday, forever. Amen! When you trust in God you will be unbeatable- even after a loss, you will end up winning as long as you maintain your faith. The Hebrews got their tuchas whipped but later they destroyed their enemies. God is eternal, and when we put our faith and trust in Him, that means that we are on an eternal plane.

Life will always have it’s ups and downs; the trick to overcoming life is by trusting faithfully in God to direct it. Trusting that God will do what He says He will do will allow you to see your life as more than just birth to death: you will realize it is only a dress rehearsal for eternity.

Life is temporary, eternity is forever. Choose to live for eternal rewards, keep your eyes on the Kingdom, and trust in God to provide everything you need.

Real faith doesn’t require understanding how God does it, it only requires that you trust He will.

Zombies and Vampires

I was thinking about zombies and vampires the other day, but not the kind that eat brains (no threat to me) or suck your blood.

I was thinking of the “emotional” kind. The emotional zombies that have no real feelings for anyone or anything, and the emotional vampires that suck the very joy and love of life right out of you.

I was, in a previous life, married to an emotional vampire. I pray for her, even though (I am sorry to say) thankfully I have not had to have any contact with her for years. She is the mother of my children, whom she has emotionally damaged, through spitefulness and drugs (she has fed them ADHD drugs since they were tots, even though there has never been any medical diagnosis of it.) Now the poor kids (who are adults) are emotional zombies- they have never had the chance to feel anything that they haven’t been conditioned to feel.

I am sure you have met people like them. The emotional vampire who is so needy for attention and love that he or she demands from you whatever goodness you have, they take all the compassion and understanding you can give, and suck it out of you until you don’t even feel anything, anymore. Then you become an emotional zombie, wandering around apathetic and drained. Getting involved in relationships that damage and destroy you even more, all the while looking for someone to give you what you have lost. Or, like in the vampire stories, you now have such a need to fill yourself up again with love and compassion that you become an emotional vampire, yourself.

The only way to kill these vampires is with a stake in the heart: not a wooden stake with a point at the end, but with the execution stake of Yeshua, the Messiah. Through prayer and with the love of God these pitiful “demons” can be saved.

I pray for the salvation of my “ex” not because she deserves it- after all, which of us does? I pray for her because she needs it- more than anyone I have ever met, she needs to know the love and compassion of Messiah Yeshua and of God, our Father, which she has rejected (not surprisingly- vampires hate the light.) I also pray for her so that if she turns to God, maybe she will be able to help my children turn. I pray for them too because, well, they’re my kids. Duh! Despite the hatefulness and Tsouris they have given me (most of it because that is what they were conditioned to do), they are old enough to make up their own minds. However, in their defense, they haven’t ever been given a real chance to do that, so I pray for them to reconcile to me and Donna, and to God. It’s more important they reconcile to God, of course.

We don’t want vampires or zombies in our life. After all, they are destructive, evil and a bad influence. However, it is our responsibility as followers of Yeshua to go into the darkness. He ate and drank with sinners because, as He told us in Mark 2:17, He came to heal the sick- the healthy do not need a doctor. Emotional vampires and zombies are very sick, inside, and they need our help.

The thing to remember is that the doctor wears a mask and gloves not just to protect the patient from being infected, but so that the patient doesn’t infect the doctor. We need to be aware of the power of the vampire- they have a strong will and can often seem to be doing good to us, all the while they are sucking us dry. Be careful, be aware, be loving and be understanding, But also be safe.

No greater love is there than that one should give his life for a friend- that is true, but giving our life for a friend is different than throwing it away carelessly.

If, and when, you come across these emotional vampires and zombies, the way to destroy them is to save them. Let them see in you the joy and peace that the Ruach HaKodesh brings, and direct them to God. Keep your distance enough to protect your blood and brains. They are devastatingly hungry for love, for understanding and for peace of spirit, but don’t know how to get it. They take and take and take. but never can satisfy their hunger. That’s because humans don’t have enough in us to fill them, but God does. He never runs out; God never has a lack of love or a famine of affection, and He is always willing to listen.

Vampires ans zombies are out there, and when we find them (or more likely when they find us) we must direct them to God because He is the only one who can save them.