Is Either Believing or Rejecting the Trinity a Sin?

I recently wrote a message about different ways that verses from the Bible are used, and misused, to prove one’s beliefs. I mentioned the belief in the Trinity as one of those “hot” topics where the same verses can be used to justify either side. When reviewing some of the comments I received, I began to wonder if either belief in or rejection of the Trinity is a sin.

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Before we begin, let me state that I personally, having been raised (and still am) Jewish, do not believe in the Trinity. I believe God is a separate, unique spiritual entity and that the Messiah (Yeshua), although 100% filled with the Holy Spirit, was born as a 100% mortal human and remained that way throughout his lifetime. As for the Holy Spirit …well, I am not really sure how to explain the Ruach HaKodesh, but it is not God and it is not Yeshua.

That being said, I do not deny anyone their right to believe in the traditional Christian teaching of the Trinity, meaning that God, the Messiah, and the Holy Spirit are the same entity, one being in three different forms.

Considering that these beliefs seem to be polar opposites of each other, it would seem that either side would consider the other side as being in sin. The Non-Trins say that the Trins are making Messiah into an idol and thereby violating the 2nd commandment about worshiping other gods. The Trins say that the non-Trins are rejecting the Messiah’s deity and thereby rejecting him. In my opinion, there will never be absolute proof of either of these beliefs until such time as we face God and Yeshua, who will then tell us the truth.

The funny thing about that is when we finally get the definitive answer, it will be too late to make any difference.

Here is what I believe regarding the sinfulness of believing either side: neither side will be in sin so long as we respect and observe the position of each entity with regards to God’s plan of salvation. What that means is this: God is the only one who will forgive our sins; Yeshua is the Messiah, our Cohen HaGadol (High Priest) and our Intercessor, through whom we and our prayers are justified in God’s sight; and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) is a comforting spirit which God gives to those who accept Yeshua as their Messiah and who helps us to better understand God’s word and guide us in the path of righteousness.

If I believe Yeshua is God in the flesh, but I do not pray to him or ask him for forgiveness, then what if he really isn’t God? If I still pray only to God and ask God for forgiveness, then I have not worshiped Yeshua as God. If I believe he is God, but I worship and pray to God, the Father, then I have not placed Yeshua in a position where he is idolized, and I have not violated the 2nd Commandment.

On the other side, if I do not believe Yeshua is God but he really is, again- so long as I worship God the Father, then I am following Yeshua’s lead because he prayed to God and he talked about God as something other than himself. Even in the Gospel of John where he often refers to himself and God as one, he is not saying they are the same entity; in John 12:49 he tells us that he only says what the Father tells him to say and only does what the Father tells him to do, so when he said that when we see him we see God he is talking metaphorically. He is saying he is the image of God. He is not God’s puppet, without his own thoughts or feelings, but his teachings are directly from God and his works are directly from God. Jews would understand this relationship because a traditional Jewish thought is that the Torah is a mirror and when we look into the Torah we should see ourselves. That is what Yeshua was saying about himself- he is the mirror image of God.

So the bottom line is this: believing in the Trinity, or not believing in the Trinity, is not sinful in and of itself. I believe there is nothing sinful if we do these two things:

  1. Worship God alone and respect his position as the Father;
  2. Accept Yeshua as our Messiah, looking to him to intercede with God the Father and when we pray for forgiveness or for other things, we pray to God in the name of Yeshua: Yeshua is to be the Intercessor of our prayers, not the Interceptor of them.

If we do anything else, such as praying to Yeshua for forgiveness, praying to a saint to intercede with God, or praying to anyone other then God, himself, then we have committed a sin. Praying to anyone or anything other than God the Father, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is idolatry and a sin.

I believe you can trust in this: pray only to God, ask only of God in the name of the Messiah, and whether you believe them to be the same personage or not, you will not be sinning.

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

Salvation From Both a Jewish and Christian Perspective- Part 3

So far in this series, we have looked at the meaning of salvation, the Jewish expectations of the Messiah, and why Yeshua ha Maschiach (Jesus Christ) was and has been rejected by “mainstream” Judaism since his first appearance on earth.

Today we will delve into the Christian expectations of the Messiah, who is usually referred to as “Savior” and not “Messiah.”

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One major difference we should point out right at the start between Jewish and Christian expectation and knowledge of the Messiah: Jews were, and still are, waiting and looking forward to the coming of the Messiah; however, Christians never looked forward to his coming- he was already here before Christianity started. Christians have always known who their Savior is, whereas Jews have never known who their Messiah was going to be.

Christian expectation of Messiah is not really an expectation, but more like 20/20 hindsight because what they believe about their Savior is what they have already seen.

They know he was born in a miraculous manner, being of a virgin who was impregnated by God through the Holy Spirit.

They know that he died for their sins, but since most Christian teachings are from the New Covenant, instead of referencing the Tanakh, they look to the Gospels and Epistles for the justification of their beliefs. So, instead of using Isaiah 53 to understand the sacrifice of the Messiah, they refer to 1st Corinthians 15:3. More specifically, within Catholicism, they quote John 20:21-23 not only to state that forgiveness of sin can only come through belief in Jesus but also that Jesus gave men the power to forgive sins through the priesthood. To further confirm forgiveness is only available through Jesus, Christianity references Ephesians 1:7 and Corinthians 5:17.

According to Ephesians 3:19 the Savior is all about love and complete acceptance, which lends itself to another Christian belief, which is that there is no need for the Torah or the laws God gave to Moses.

In my opinion, one of the most anti-Semitic teachings within Christianity is that Jesus did away with the “law” (the Torah) and that the “Jewish Bible” is just for Jews and doesn’t really have any meaning to Christians. It is still scripture, but they concentrate almost exclusively on the New Covenant writings.

Whereas Christians have been taught that the Jewish laws are not valid for them, one sect of Christianity takes it to the extreme. Their belief system is called Replacement Theology. This is the most virulent anti-Semitic sect of Christianity because they believe since the Jews rejected Jesus as their Savior, God has rejected the Jews as his chosen people! Christians (specifically “Born-Again” Christians) are now God’s “real” chosen people, the “Israel of God” that Shaul talks about at the very end of Galatians.

Most Christians haven’t gone this far and have been taught that the Law is really split into two types of law: Moral and Ceremonial. The moral laws are still valid for Christians, but the ceremonial laws are not. For instance, the laws of Kashrut (Kosher) are ceremonial so only Jews have to follow them, whereas murder and adultery are moral laws and they are still valid and must be followed. This belief system is justified by Matthew 5:17. This is where Yeshua said he came to fulfill the law, which has been interpreted to mean the (Mosaic) law was completed in him and therefore is no longer necessary to be followed. It is also confirmed by the teaching that when Shaul (Paul) says that our sins were “nailed to the cross” (Colossians 2:14), that meant the law was also nailed to the cross, i.e. done away with.

This is the same as saying if the car ahead of me makes a complete stop at the stop sign, thereby fulfilling the law for stop signs, then I can just go right through it. Or, if I live my entire life without murdering anyone, then murdering someone will be acceptable and not a sin when I die because I had fulfilled that law. Ain’t that da silliest thing you evah hoid?

Let’s get serious again…Christians believe that Jesus was resurrected and returned to his father in heaven, and will return to destroy the Antichrist and rule over all the earth, forever. And when this day finally arrives, Christians (and many Jews, as well) believe that they will be lifted up and live eternally in heaven.

As we can see, there is a very significant difference between Jewish and Christian understanding of who the Messiah is and what to expect from him when he arrives. How this vast chasm of belief in the same personage came about is what we will examine now.

As far as Jews are concerned, the advent of the Messiah’s coming has always been seen as a national event. He is not here for you or for me, but for Israel…for all Jews, everywhere. Christians see the relationship with their Savior as an individual and singular event: the Savior is here for me and you have to have your own relationship with him. This is a major difference in expectation: the Jewish Messiah’s relationship is with the entire nation of Israel, but the Christian Savior has a personal relationship just with me.

Judaism expects that the changes the Messiah will make will occur at or before his actual coming, and when he is here they will all come to completion. Christians believe that after someone accepts him as their Savior, then there will be some changes that happen (such as indwelling of the Holy Spirit) but most changes in the world won’t happen until his second coming.

Finally, Jews believe that Yeshua did not fulfill or meet the prophecies about the Messiah and Christians believe he met almost all of them, and the ones that he did not fulfill will be fulfilled with his second coming.

This ends our third segment in this series of teachings. In our next lesson, we will review the origins of these vastly different expectations and learn how they developed.

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Until then, l’hetraot and Baruch HaShem!

Parashah Vayeshev 2018 (And he dwelt) Genesis 37-40

 

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Jacob has now settled back in the land of his father, and we are given the story of Joseph. I think most everyone knows this- Joseph, the favorite son of his father (because he is the firstborn son of Rachel) is given a coat of many colors to signify Jacob’s love for him. This special treatment doesn’t stand very well with his brothers, which should come as no surprise, but then we add to that Joseph having ratted them out to Jacob, not to mention telling them of his dreams in which they are all bowing down to him.

Joseph doesn’t show a lot of common sense here, does he?

Eventually, an opportunity arises in which the brothers can kill Joseph, but Reuben convinces them not to, so they take his coat and throw him into an empty cistern, thinking they will do the deed after they have lunch. In the meantime, the brothers see a caravan in the distance of Yishma’elim (descendants of Yishmael) and decide to sell Joseph to them, But while they are still having their lunch (you have to read the passage very carefully to see how this happens) some other Arabs (Midyanim) find Joseph, raise him out of the cistern, and THEY sell him to the Yishma’elim.

Reuben comes back to save Joseph himself but finds him gone. He reports this to the brothers, and now no one knows what happened.

Time Out: I believe that Reuben saved Joseph only so that he could get back into good standing with his father because he was still in hot water after sleeping with one of Jacob’s concubines.

Joseph gets sold to Potiphar, and God blesses all that Joseph does. However, Potiphar’s wife wants to sleep with Joseph, who refuses and she tricks him into being alone with her and tries to force him to sleep with her. He runs away but she has his robe and accuses him of trying to rape her. When she tells her husband, Potiphar throws Joseph into jail. In jail, Joseph is still blessed by Adonai and made a Trustee, eventually also serving the Pharaoh’s Cupbearer and Baker, who teed off Pharaoh somehow and were also thrown in jail. They each have a dream, which Joseph interprets, and the interpretation proves true, with the Cupbearer being returned to duty and the Baker being hung. However, the Cupbearer forgets his promise to Joseph to ask Pharaoh to have him released.

In the middle of the story of Joseph, we have one chapter devoted to Judah and how he failed to give his third son to Tamar. Tamar was married to Er, Judah’s firstborn who was killed by God because of his evil ways, then given to Onan. Onan refused to give her children to protect his own inheritance, so God had him killed, too. Shelah, Judah’s remaining son, was too young so Judah told Tamar to go back to her father until he could give her to Shelah. However, it seems Judah had no intention of doing so. Later, Judah (now a widower) was seduced by Tamar (who hid her identity) who took his seal and staff as collateral until he could send her payment. She returned to her father before Judah could recover his things, and three months later when her pregnancy was discovered, she sent Judah his seal and staff to prove he was the father. Then Judah confessed his sin of not giving her to Shelah.

Wow! There’s a whole lot of stuff in here, but we have time for only one lesson, so I am going to talk about one line, a single sentence uttered by Joseph to the wife of Potiphar. It is found in Genesis 39:9. Joseph has been asked by Potiphar’s wife to sleep with her, and he tells her that his Master has put everything in the household under Josephs’ control, everything but his wife, and in explaining why he won’t sleep with her he says:

“How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Notice that Joseph has been talking about his Master, Potiphar, and his Master’s house and his Master’s wife, but when it came down to it he would not sin against God. God- not Potiphar, not his wife, not because he would break the trust, but because the sin would be against God!

Joseph knew what King David also knew about sin (Psalm 51:6) – any and all sin is always first and foremost against God. We may do things to other people that are sinful, but when we ask forgiveness, we must first ask God because every sin is a sin against God.

Forgiveness is something that we are commanded to do for each other, and that forgiveness is not only between us and the person who sinned against us but also between us and God.  God requires us to forgive each other, Yeshua tells us this in Matthew 6:14:

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

When we sin against someone else we must first ask God for forgiveness, then we go to the person we sinned against and ask them to forgive us. Once you have done that, whether they forgive you or not is between them and God and no longer between you and them. I believe we should allow people a few chances to forgive us- for their sake, not ours, and maybe even try to explain that to them. But, if someone refuses to forgive you your sin, then the sin now lies between them and God and no longer between you and them.

The best thing, of course, is to never sin (DUH!!) but being human that will not ever happen. We will always sin, one way or another, sooner or later, and God knew about us. Why do you think he created the sacrificial system? Yeshua replaced the need to bring a sin sacrifice to the Temple in Jerusalem, so now, through his sacrifice, we can be forgiven. That is, forgiven by God. Once we have gone to God, we must still go to the person we sinned against and ask their forgiveness.

Here’s an interesting tradition you may not know about… in Judaism, one of the things that we do at Rosh HaShanah is to go to anyone that we think we may have sinned against during the year and ask them for forgiveness. Does this sound familiar? Maybe because Yeshua said to do this in Matthew 5:24. You think, maybe, he knew of this tradition?

To finish this up, let’s remember that any sin committed by anyone is first and foremost against God; Joseph knew this, King David knew this, and now we know it, too. Try to not sin, but when you fail, go to God and then to the person you sinned against, and you will be doing what is right in God’s eyes, and doing it in the right order.

 

 

If the Law is Done Away With, Then What is Left is Lawlessness.

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In the letter Shaul (Paul) wrote to the Colossians, he said:

When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Messiah. He forgave us all our trespasses, having canceled the debt ascribed to sin the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the execution stake!

This passage has been used too often, and incorrectly, to mean that the “law” was done away with. And when we say “law”, we are talking about the Mosaic Covenant.

Of course, the problem with this teaching is that it is wrong. First of all, God gave the Mosaic Covenant as an all-encompassing set of commandments- the Ten Commandments and every other commandment, law, regulation, ordinance or whatever are what God told us all to do. He did not separate them into different types of laws; every commandment from God is how we are to worship him and how we are to treat each other…always.

No laws have ever been done away with, and the only laws that we do not obey without incurring sin are those that deal with the Temple in Jerusalem, which no longer exists. The sacrificial laws are still valid and required, but since they also are required to be done at the Temple, when there is no Temple we cannot perform those laws. They aren’t done away with, they are just not able to be done.

What God has said we should do, no man (or woman) can change. In fact, he tells us in Deuteronomy 4:2 not to add to or subtract from any of the laws that he has given us.  That commandment refers to the entire Torah. If you look at the Torah, it is a single scroll- it is not really made up of separate books. The differentiation in the Torah scroll between the major sections (what we refer to as books) is nothing more than some extra spacing between the last sentence of one “book” and the first sentence of the next “book.”

So, the commandments that God gave to Moses, the ones Christianity has wrongly said were “nailed to the cross” are not invalidated by Yeshua’s sacrifice. Christianity has separated “ceremonial” from “moral” laws in order to help make this lie more “sensible”, but in God’s eyes, they all should be obeyed. Period.

At this point, you may be wondering, “If the Mosaic Covenant is still valid, then what was nailed to the execution stake?”

To answer that we need to learn a little history: in the days when crucifixion was the popular means of capital punishment, the list of crimes (in other words, the criminal’s “sins”) which the criminal had been found guilty of was nailed to the stake above their head. In Yeshua’s case, Pilate nailed above his head “King of the Jews”, which was the crime the power elite in Jerusalem accused him of having proclaimed about himself, which was treason against Caesar. In our case, the sins which we have been collected against us are nailed to the execution stake when we first come to proclaim faith in Yeshua as the Messiah and ask forgiveness through his sacrifice. Those sins are the ones we have already committed and they are the ones that will be forgiven, but that doesn’t cover any sins we commit afterward.

I have expounded on this topic recently- you can review it here.

Now that we have the basics- all commandments are still valid and the only thing that was ever nailed to the execution stake along with Messiah Yeshua was the existing sins against us- we can address the main point of today’s message: if the law was done away with, what does that leave us?  It is obvious: when there is no law, there can only be lawlessness.

And what does the Bible tell us about lawlessness?

Matthew 7:22 says, “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” 

Thessalonians 2:9 says, “The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,”

        1 John 3:4 says, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”

        1 John 3:10 says, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do

                                  what is right is not God’s child,”

The commandments that Yeshua gave were not original or new- he taught from the Torah. He lived the Torah and obeyed every commandment in the Torah- that is why he, and he alone, was acceptable as the one sacrifice for many.

If you have been taught that the law was nailed to the cross, please realize this is a lie and was created by the Enemy of God so that he could control you and bring you into condemnation. God wants you to separate yourself from the world, which is controlled by the Enemy of God; the Enemy of God wants you to accept worldly things so that you will separate yourself from God. That is why, through misinterpretations and false teachings, HaSatan gives people what their iniquity demands: easy salvation. A salvation that is not just easy to get, but easy to keep. A Get Out of Jail card they can hold forever, without having to change their lifestyle or habits. That is the salvation the Enemy promises.

It is NOT the true salvation that God offers us.

God offers us salvation through faith in him and Yeshua, the Messiah. When we proclaim that faith and do T’shuvah (repent) God demands that faith is proven through deeds and good works: that is why James says that faith without works is dead (James 2:14.). And these good works are not to be done just once or twice, but for the rest of your life!

Salvation will not be taken away, but it can be thrown away by our acceptance of lawlessness and continually sinning on purpose.

In Hebrews10:26-27 it says:

“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” 

So be certain, Brothers and Sisters, that if you accept the lie that the law is done away with, you will be sinning deliberately. Not only that, but because God said his commandments were to be “throughout your generations”, if you accept that the law is no longer valid then you call God a liar, and since Yeshua taught God’s commandments, you will also be guilty of rejecting the teachings of Yeshua.

Believing the law is done away with is living in lawlessness, which the Bible tells us is sin and leads only to death.

 

What Religions and Lying Have in Common

This is a simple post today, no video- just plain, old common sense backed up by the Bible.

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So, religion and lying: what they have in common is that both are designed to control others. 

Most people think that telling a lie is the way we avoid the truth. But it is a little deeper than that-  it is really a means of control designed to convince someone that there is a different truth than what they believe. As an example, I didn’t get a project I was supposed to complete done on time. You believe I am responsible, which is the truth but I tell you a lie: I say that a member of the team was late with their part and that prevented me from getting it done on time. If you believe me then I have, in effect, controlled you by changing what you believe to be the truth. I have made you believe a different “truth” than the real truth. 

Religions do the same thing. The truth is what God gave us, which is found in the Tanakh (the Old Covenant.) The Gospels confirm the laws of the Torah because that is what Yeshua taught his Disciples, and what they later taught the Gentiles who accepted Yeshua as their Messiah and were (thereby) converting to Judaism. 

Remember: Yeshua was and is Jewish, lived a Jewish lifestyle and those who followed him, by definition had to live a Jewish lifestyle, too. 

Where religion has tried to control people and give them a new belief system is in how leaders of different religions twist the truth of the Tanakh and the New Covenant (in Hebrew, B’rit Chasdasha) to make people believe what the leaders want them to believe.

For instance, in Judaism there are many additional rituals that are Rabbinic, i.e. found in the Talmud, which are not directly from God. Although I do not universally condemn these traditions, they do exercise a level of control over the Jewish people who are told they must conform to these activities to be “correct.”  God never required these, so to say we must follow them is to tell a lie and exercise a form of control. 

Christianity has, for the most part, totally ignored the Torah and misinterpreted much in the B’rit Chadasha to change the form of worship from what God commanded. For instance, they kept a “7th day Sabbath” but changed it from the way it had been celebrated; it should be from Friday eve to Saturday eve but they changed it to Sunday during the day only.

Another example of controlling lies within Christianity is how it has used Kefa’s (Peter) vision of the sheet in Acts 10 to do away with the Kosher laws by saying the vision meant all food is OK to eat. The truth is that his vision had nothing to do with food and was about allowing Kefa to bring salvation to the Gentiles, but I suppose the Christian leadership desired to eat pork rinds. 

One major aspect of lying that religion has in common is this: when you tell a lie, you have to keep expanding that lie. This is because there are always “loose ends” within a lie; you need to expand the lie as more people hear it and start to question the truth of it. As the old saying goes, “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” 

To me, this means if a religion is lying it will eventually need to “expand” itself, which will result in having to separate into different sects.

Within Judaism, there are 6 different sects: Chasidic, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, and Messianic (although the other sects won’t recognize Messianic Jews as being Jewish- another lie  that religion has created to control people.) And within the Chasidim, we can probably list the Lubavitcher, also called Chabad, as a sub-sect. 

As for all the different sects and forms of Christianity, there isn’t enough server space for me to list them all. 

If we accept that a lie grows and grows, then all these religions that are supposed to stem from what God told Moses must be some form of a lie, right?  Now if you say what God told Moses is only for Jews, then you refute what Yeshua (Jesus) taught because the Apostle John called Yeshua the Living Torah- the Word that became flesh. If Yeshua is the Living Torah, then how could he teach anything that was against himself? 

So now that I have debunked, insulted and berated all of the Judeo-Christian religions, what is left for us? Simple- what is left is what God told us to do, what Yeshua told us to do, what Micah told us to do, what The Rambam (Maimonides) told us to do, what Shaul (Paul) told us to do, which is….to love God and to love each other.

God gave the Torah to the Jewish people to bring to the world:
(Exodus 19:6- “And unto Me you shall be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you are to speak to the Israelites.”

The commandments found in the Torah are what Yeshua confirmed in all his teachings. Accept that the Old and New Covenants are one Bible, one story, one narrative of the plan of salvation God has for his creation and accept that the “New” did not override or do away with the “Old”- it added to it. The covenants that God has made with us are not exclusive, they are cumulative.

The world was meant to obey the Torah, which I can prove by pointing out that God said not to add to or take away from the Torah:
(Deuteronomy 4:2-“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”

The Messiah was sent to the world to bring us all back to God, back to repentant obedience and to lead us into salvation. We are not to change anything God said, and anything that does change it is not from God but from Man. God gave us his rules for how to worship him and how to treat each other; men created religion in order to control people. 

What God gave us is the truth and what religion gives us is a lie. The challenge for each of us is to determine which is which.  

That which is from God is “Truth”, and that which is from Man is “Religion.”

Yeshua and the Adulteress: A Prospective.

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Chapter 8 (verses 1-11) of the Gospel of John tells the story of the Pharisees and Torah teachers bringing a woman accused of having been caught in an adulteress affair to Yeshua. They were trying to trap Yeshua in a way that they could bring charges against him. Yeshua wrote in the sand, asked the one without sin to throw the first stone, wrote in the sand some more and all the accusers left. The woman was then able to leave.

I have heard some people use this story as a means to show that Yeshua is more about love than about obeying the Torah, and repeat that old, worn-out analogy of the hateful and violent God of the Old Covenant vs. the loving and forgiving Messiah of the New Covenant. 

Well, that’s not what we are going to discuss today. Today I want to talk about the unanswered question…what did Yeshua write in the sand? 

I think I know! 

Let’s start with some assumptions that are pretty safe to say:

  1. Yeshua probably knew they were trying to trap him;
  2. There was something fishy from the start because there was no man brought with the woman. If she was “caught in the act” there had to be someone else there, right?  

So here we are: all the people Yeshua was teaching are standing around and the woman is in the center of the crowd.  The Pharisees ask Yeshua what is to be done with her, and he starts to write in the sand, then says that the one without sin should throw the first stone. So, what might he have written?

I think he wrote from Exodus 20:19, the Ninth Commandment: 

“Do not give false evidence against your neighbor.”

After this, he stated whoever is without sin throw the first stone. I think he knew that throwing the stone would absolutely convict the thrower of a sin because these were Torah experts, and the Torah demands that a trial must be held first. Anyone who threw a stone would be violating the Torah. 

After this, he wrote again in the sand, and this time everyone started to leave until no one was left but the woman and Yeshua. This second time I think he wrote from Deuteronomy 19:16-20, which says:

“If a false witness rises against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing, then both men in the controversy shall stand before God, before the priests and the judges who serve in those days.  And the judges shall make careful inquiry, and indeed, if the witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his brother, then you shall do to him as he thought to have done to his brother; so you shall put away the evil from among you.”

If the reminder from the Torah about not giving false evidence, i.e. bearing false witness didn’t scare them off, then this one certainly would have made them think twice. And because it says “brother” that law would obviously hold true for “sister”, as well. 

I believe the woman was falsely accused from the start, and Yeshua was aware of this. I don’t have anything to go on but speculation, based on the fact that there was no man brought with her, and that we know from reading the Gospels that the Pharisees were not above using false witnesses to achieve their goals. And, even if she was an adulteress, this was not the proper setting for a trial and Yeshua was not in a position of authority with the right to judge her according to the Torah. 

One last thing that is important to remember: Yeshua never forgave her of the sin she was accused of. He simply obeyed the Torah, which says that there must be two or three witnesses when there is a capital crime committed (Deuteronomy 19:15.) Yeshua asked her where her accusers were, and she said there was no one; in accordance with the Torah, Yeshua said he would not accuse her, either. 

And when he told her to go, he said, “…and sin no more.” Maybe this was because Yeshua knew she was a sinner (aren’t we all?), maybe there never really was an affair, maybe there was an affair but she was seduced into the crime to setup Yeshua this way, in which case it makes sense they would catch and hold her and let the man go. Who knows? That could make an interesting Drash some other day, but today all I am talking about is what he wrote in the sand to make everyone go away. 

If Yeshua wrote the things in the sand that I have postulated here, then the entire story makes sense.

What do you think he wrote? 

Why I Post the Things I Post

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When I write these messages, which I prefer to the term “posts I try to take the biblical requirements for how we are to worship God and act towards each other and put them in a modern-day light. 

I also try to identify and debunk the wrong teachings that proliferate throughout the Christian world, as well as within Judaism, too. 

The reason for this is because the Bible is about how we should worship God and how we should treat each other. Too often I see people talking about things in the Bible that they take out of context and interpret in a way that works with the lifestyle they want to live. Of course, this has been happening since the first time God told us what he wants of us.

Jews still hold a “legalistic” view of the Torah and have been taught that Jesus started a new religion; Christians (pretty much) have been taught to completely ignore the requirements in the Torah because those are only for Jews. And within both Judaism and Christianity there have, over the centuries, been different sects and religions formed, each of which has their own rules of “this not that, and these not those.” All of these different religions and sects within a religion have the same goal- to act in the way the person who started that sect/religion wants to act. 

GOD HAS NO RELIGION!! He has his rules, laws, and commandments which tell us how to worship him and treat each other which are not just for Jews- they are for everyone. 

God gave the Torah to the Jewish people to bring to the world, which is why he told Moses that they will be a nation of priests for him (Exodus 19:6.)

All these different religions are man-made. As we have been told, “Seek and ye shall find”: when it comes to the Bible, everything we ever need or want is in there, somewhere, and if we look hard enough we can take enough things out of context and put them together to justify the Bible says to do just about anything.

My goal is to let people know what God really wants of them and try to give practical ways to live as God wants us to in our everyday lives. I believe that the Torah is still valid; Yeshua never did away with it. What he did was to teach the deeper, more spiritual meaning behind the laws that are there.  The Torah is the ultimate Catch 22: we can become righteous (saved) by perfect obedience to the Torah, but no one can be perfectly obedient to the Torah. 

So, Nu? Now what? 

Now what we do is to try to do our best, trust in God’s faithfulness to keep his promises (which he has shown throughout the Bible he will do) and ask for the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to guide us. We must read the Bible every day to learn about God, and to confirm for ourselves that every time our fathers failed to do as God said they should when they were repentant and called upon God for forgiveness, he forgave them.

God will let us fall to learn how to get up, and he is always there to give us a helping hand when we humbly and repentantly ask for it. 

One last thing: you will note that I do not do what the “popular” sites do, which is to preach only about God’s love and forgiveness. Salvation is not really a “come-as-you-are” party and the idea that “Once saved, always saved” is nothing more than Satanic propaganda. People who “want their cake and to eat it, too” are the ones that fall for this. Since most of the world is composed of people who are self-absorbed and hedonistic, these religious organizations and leaders preach to our flesh saying that you are fine as you are; just ask for forgiveness and you are forgiven and set for eternity. They appeal to our basic nature- lazy and selfish.  That is why they are so popular. Just listen to the rhetoric of the “Mega-churches” and you will hear all about the rosy-colored world of God’s love and forgiveness. 
But will they preach about tithing? Will they talk about Yeshua telling us we must lift up our execution stake and carry it if we wish to follow him? Do they tell us that salvation is easily attained but really hard to keep, or even that if we fail to be repentant or obedient we can throw our salvation away? 

Of course not- that would cause them to lose many of their followers. But it would be the truth. What they say about God’s love and forgiveness is true, but it is not the whole truth about God or salvation through Messiah. 

I try to tell it as it is, and I may be wrong. I am only human. But I try to justify whatever I say with showing where it is in the Bible and also ask for confirmation or correction from those reading what I write. I tell you all that you should not take my word for it, but check out everything I say for yourself. After all, I may be wrong! How will you know if you don’t check it out? And if I am, you are obligated to correct me. Proverbs 12:1 and 12:15 both say that a wise man loves correction, and I would certainly want to be wise. 

Just make sure you are nice about it. 

Thank you for visiting my site, reading my work, and especially for subscribing. If you aren’t already a subscriber, please do so if you like what you read. All that happens is that you get a notification of my posts.  And I’ll also ask, again, that if you like what you read here please share me out. 

Blessing to you and yours. 

Baruch HaShem!! 

Parashah Re’eh 2018 (Behold) Deuteronomy 11:26 – 16:17)

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   God has Moses remind the people of the requirements when they enter and live in the land. This Third Discourse of Moses is all about what they are to do now that they will be in the land promised to their Fathers. 

   God reviews with the people that they are to take their sacrifices, vows, and tithes only to the place where God places his name. They are to destroy all the altars and Asherim (poles) they find throughout the land. Anyone or even any town or village that turns to worship other gods, and tries to get others to do so, is to be completely destroyed, even if a close family member or loved one.  

   One of the things they are to do, as soon as they can, is to place the blessings on Mount Gerizim and the curses on Mount Ebal. These two mountains are called the “Shoulder” mountains because they are next to each other, and they overlook the Shechem Valley. When the Israelites got there (under Joshua) and they all shouted the blessings and curses, all the people in the Shechem Valley were able to hear them. 

   God reviews the Kashrut laws and tithing rules, to include the 2nd tithe and the 3rd and 6th-year tithes for the Levites and the poor.  The commandment regarding the Shemittah (7th Year) release is given, which applies only to fellow Hebrews.

   The final part of this parashah is a review of the regulations regarding the Festivals.

   So much to talk about, so many things in here that are valuable to know and understand. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is pick one. I usually just open my mind and as I read through the parashah I pray for God to show me something, a little pop-up, so to speak, or to implant an idea in my skull. What popped into my head today was this: the importance of bringing the sacrifice to the one place in the entire country where God placed his name. 

   The pagan sacrifices were made anywhere the people wanted to, usually on high grounds and under leafy trees.  There was no real management since everyone could do whatever they wanted to do. God told the Israelites this is not what they are to do- they have to bring their sin forgiveness, vow, and tithe offerings to one place, and one place only. That place is the location where God, himself, will decide upon. They are not to offer anything to the Lord anywhere else.

   This rule is, for me, the set-up for needing Messiah. God knows all that will happen, and he knew (of course) that the Romans would destroy the Jerusalem temple, which (because of this rule) would prevent the Jewish people from having the opportunity to ask forgiveness of their sins. You may ask, “Why would God not want people to be forgiven? He gave us the sacrificial system specifically so that we could be forgiven, so why take that away? Doesn’t he tell us in Ezekiel 18:23 that he prefers we turn from sin and live?  How can we turn from sin and ask for forgiveness if he takes away the one place we are allowed to do so?” 

   That’s a good question, and the answer is that God took away our only means of forgiveness under the sacrificial system because the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua is to be the alternative to the animal sacrifice at the temple. Prior to Yeshua, we sacrificed something that we owned and had value to us. That valuable thing was to be taken from us and given up to God. Messiah was given up by God and given to us, then taken from us back to God. Whereas the animal sin sacrifice was geographically mandated, Messiah’s sacrifice is a universal atonement, allowing all people everywhere to ask forgiveness without having to bring anything anywhere. God sacrificed his most valuable possession, his son, in lieu of us giving up something of our own. 

Because God’s laws are forever the only way God could keep his commandments regarding sacrifice for sin valid but “upgrade” them to the newer version, which is by Yeshua’s sacrifice, was to make obedience to the original sin sacrifice commandments impossible. With the destruction of the temple, the only way anyone could be forgiven of their sins was through Yeshua.

So, way back when, even as the Israelites were just beginning to enter the land, God already had his plan for forgiveness of sin through Messiah configured. He first set the rules for sin sacrifice (in Leviticus), then he set the rules for where that sacrifice should be done (this parashah), then he sent Messiah to replace the sacrifice and, finally, took away that place so that there was no other way to be forgiven except through the Messiah.

   If you haven’t accepted Yeshua as your Messiah, you will have a second chance when he returns. May I suggest, enthusiastically, that you don’t wait.  Review the Messianic prophecies in the Tanakh (there are about 135 of them) then read the New Covenant writings and make a decision. Don’t let the prejudice and hatred between Jews and Christians over the millennia get in your way- it got in my way for over 40 years, but when I made my own decision to study, research and then choose to faithfully believe, I found that my worship and my “Jewishness” became stronger and more fulfilling than it had ever been before. 

Should We Forgive Abusers?

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As I have often said, I read Dear Abby every day because it provides great fodder for spiritual understanding and teaching.

Recently someone wrote to her who had been abused as a child by her family, and now as an adult and parent is asking how she should react to those who constantly tell her that she should try to reconcile with her family.  Abby answered that when one has been abused they do “NOT” have to forgive the abusers.

Those who are God-fearing should know better than to follow that advice. True, it is hard to forgive someone who has damaged you, whether it be physically and/or emotionally. The pain and anger, unresolved anger, is very hard to live with and even more difficult to get over. In truth, I don’t think we ever really get “over” it, we just learn to get past it.

Yet God tells us that forgiveness is what we must do. We are told to be holy as God is holy, and part of what God does is forgive. He forgives because he is a compassionate and loving God, yet if we do not ask for forgiveness, it will not be given automatically. The reason for that is simple: if we do not ask to be forgiven, that means we aren’t repentant for the sin we committed, and God will not forgive an unrepentant sinner.

Here’s is the thing about forgiveness that (I believe) many people do not understand: forgiving someone else for a sin they committed against you does not make them right with God but it does make you right with God. Each and every one of us must ask God to forgive us for the sin(s) we commit. I can ask God to forgive others, but if they are unrepentant it doesn’t seem likely that God will forgive them. We can ask him to be merciful, but God will judge fairly and mercifully, anyway, whether or not we ask him to do so. What is good about us asking God to forgive or be merciful is that we can show God we are forgiving of others.

Yeshua tells us in Matthew 6:14 that if we do not forgive others, we will not be forgiven. OUCH!! That means that we must forgive if we are to maintain our salvation.

That’s right- it sounds bad and is a hard word to hear, but it’s right there in the Bible. If we do not forgive, we will not be forgiven. We are also told that the rod we use to measure out others will be used to measure us (Matthew 7:2), which is another way of saying the same thing. If we judge others unfairly and refuse to forgive them, that is how we will be judged and how we will receive forgiveness (or not.)

There is another aspect of forgiveness that (I believe) many people do not know: the only way to make the pain go away is to forgive! Without forgiveness, the pain will never go away. Even when you do forgive, it will take time. I try to remember that I need to pray for those that have sinned against me (per Yeshua’s command in Matthew 5:44), and when I pray for them I find that it is easier to forgive them.

The old adage, “To err is human; to forgive, divine” is absolutely correct, and totally biblical.

Usually, Dear Abby’s advice is on the mark, and I understand that her column is not a religious one, but it sure would be nice if she was less PC and more GC (God Correct) for then her advice would be truly good advice.

Parashot Mattot / Massai 2018 (Tribes / Stages) Numbers 30:2 – 36

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These parashot (the Hebrew plural for parashah) cover a number of different issues. We start with the making of vows by women, and how those vows are either allowed to stand or are nullified by the dominant male in the family, be that the father of a single woman or girl living under his roof or a husband.

Moshe is commanded to have Israel attack Midian before he dies, and 12,000 Israelites attack and kill thousands upon thousands of Midianite men, the 5 kings, and Balaam. Afterward, it is found that not one Israelite died in the battle from which hundreds of thousands of animals and people were captured. The booty was then shared among all the people, with a tithing made to the Levites and to God.

The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of the tribe of Manasseh ask Moses if they can remain on the east side of the Jordan River because the land is perfect for cattle, and they are cattlemen. Moses is at first upset that they refuse to enter the land, but after they agree to help the other tribes settle the land before they settle down on the east side, Moses acquiesces and allows them to stay in that land.

The second parashah contains God’s commands for the distribution of the land among the 12 tribes. The leaders of each tribe, the boundaries for each tribe, the commandment to give land to the Levites and the rules regarding the Cities of Refuge are specified here.

Finally, the daughters of Zelophehad are brought before Moses with the concern that if they marry outside their tribe the tribal property they inherit will be forfeited. It is commanded that they marry inside their tribe and that no tribe should marry outside so that the lands inherited by a tribe remain always with that tribe.

As I was reading through these Torah portions one word kept coming to mind: accountability.

The father and the husband are responsible to either let the woman’s vow stand or be nullified. Their responsibility is not without accountability: if they do not nullify the vow the moment they hear it, but decide later to nullify it, then the sin of breaking a vow is on their head, not the one who made it. They are responsible to allow or deny the vow, and with that responsibility comes accountability for failing to act correctly.

When the Israelites returned from the war against Midian, they had captured women that were not virgins. Moses was very upset that these women who led the people into sin at Pe’or were not killed. But he was upset with the leaders, the captains of hundreds and thousands, and not with the soldiers. It was the leadership which was held accountable for the actions of those whom they were responsible for.

When Gad, Reuben and the half tribe of Manasseh asked to stay on the east side of the Jordan River, Moses held them accountable to ensure that the other tribes received their inheritance first.

Finally, when the land was divided among the 12 Tribes, each tribe was accountable to provide a portion of their land to the Levites, some of which would be assigned as a City of Refuge.

We are given many wonderful things by God: physically, financially and (most important) spiritually. And for all that we receive, we are also held accountable to use it properly and in accordance with God’s commandments. Too many churches have preached a “Once Saved, Always Saved” program of salvation, which creates a lack of accountability. If I can ask forgiveness one time, then never have to ask forgiveness again because once I am saved I will automatically be saved, then how can I feel accountable for the sins I commit later? And if I don’t have accountability, then how can I feel repentance? What I am saying is this: if I am automatically forgiven for any sin I commit for the rest of my life, then I stop asking for forgiveness. That leads to my not feeling concerned or upset when I sin, and that has to prevent me from feeling repentance in my heart. Does anyone who is reading this really believe that an unrepentant sinner will be allowed into God’s presence?

Of course not! We are saved when we ask for forgiveness in Yeshua’s name, but we are not automatically forgiven every sin we commit from that point on. When we are forgiven our sins (which are the ones we have collected to that point), they are what is “nailed to the Cross” that Shaul refers to in Colossians 2:13-14:

When you were dead in your trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Messiah. He forgave us all our trespasses, having canceled the debt ascribed to us in the decrees that stood against us. He took it away, nailing it to the execution stake! 

This passage is very often misunderstood to mean that the requirement to obey Torah was done away with when Yeshua was crucified. That is a lie from the very pit of Sheol. God wants us to act in a godly way- how many times throughout the Tanakh does God tell us that we should “Be thou holy as I am holy?” If we do not act in a holy way, how can we be holy? And if we do not have rules, ordinances, and mitzvot (laws)  to follow, then how can we know what is holy and what is not? That is why Shaul tells us (in Romans, Chapter 7) that the Torah created sin: the Torah tells us what is right and what is wrong.

Salvation is the gift of God which we can now only receive through the sacrificial death of Yeshua the Messiah. When the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, because the Torah commanded the sin sacrifice must be done at that temple, we had no path to salvation. Yeshua replaced the step in the sacrificial system that required bringing a sacrifice to the Temple, and that is why through him we can receive forgiveness.

BUT– that doesn’t mean we aren’t still held accountable for what we say and do every day for the rest of our life. We must still be holy as God is holy, and the only way to do that is to obey the Torah. God gave the Torah to the Jews to bring to the world because it is the ultimate User Manual for attaining holiness.

As you life your life, remember that we are always held accountable: our bosses hold us accountable to produce our work as they want it to be done; our spouses hold us accountable to our vows to love, cherish, honor and remain loyal to each other; and God holds us accountable to obey his commandments and repent of our sins every single time we sin. Salvation saves us from the eternal consequences of our sins, but it doesn’t relieve us of accountability for what we do and say.

With these last two parashot we come to the end of the Book of Numbers, and at the end of each book of the Torah tradition says we repeat the following:

Hazak! Hazak! v’nit’chazek! 

(Be strong! Be strong! And let us be strengthened!)