A Vengeance We Can Take

We all know that the Bible tells us not to take vengeance, which is some form of retribution against someone who has harmed or wronged us in some way. Instead, we are told to wait upon the Lord, because he says that vengeance belongs to him (Deuteronomy 32:35).

But… did you know that there is a form of vengeance, a way to “get back”, that is actually recommended in the Bible?

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In the Book of Proverbs, we are told the following (Proverbs 25:21-22 CJB):

If someone who hates you is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. For you will heap fiery coals (of shame) on his head, and Adonai will reward you.

Wow! If I treat someone who hates me with compassion, that will make them feel ashamed, and in a way, making them feel bad about themselves is a sort of retribution, isn’t it?

There is another example in the Tanakh that shows us how God takes his vengeance, in a nice way, on his chosen people. It is in Ezekiel 16:61-63, where God has been talking about how much Israel and Jerusalem have rejected him and prostituted themselves after the countries surrounding them, yet God will still bring them back to him. Here is what he has Ezekiel tell the people:

 Then you will remember your behavior and be ashamed of it as you receive your older and younger sisters and make them your daughters, even though the covenant with you does not cover that; and I will re-establish my covenant with you. Then you will know that I am Adonai; so that you will remember and be so ashamed that you will never open your mouth again, so ashamed will you be when I have forgiven you all that you have done,’ says Adonai Elohim.

Here we again see that a form of vengeance is to be so kind and loving to those who have done you wrong that they will feel ashamed of themselves.

Now, don’t get me wrong- I am not saying that making someone feel bad is a good thing, and certainly not encouraged by God, but, then again, if we do what is right, and that particular thing makes us feel good that someone who has wronged us is now ashamed of themselves, well… where’s the sin in that? Who knows? Maybe shaming them will result in some repentance, and that is a good thing for them, so we could say making them ashamed might be a sort of vengeance that is actually good for them?

So… today’s message is short and simple (I know- that can’t be from me!), and it is this- if you have been harmed or wronged by someone, and you get the opportunity to do something good for them, do it!

If they are really beyond help, the very least it will do is demonstrate to them (and others) what a truly God-fearing person is like (and probably confuse the heck out of them); and if they have some semblance of morality, they will feel ashamed, which will serve them right!

Either way, you will be doing what is right in God’s eyes, and when we do what pleases God, he blesses us.

I don’t know about you, but if doing good for those who hate us not only can make them feel bad about themselves but will get us points with the Big Guy upstairs, who will bless us, sounds like a real WIN-WIN to me!

Thank you for being here and please remember to share these messages with everyone you know. That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and (an early) Shabbat Shalom!

Does Yeshua Hear Your Prayers?

Yeshua told us that when we pray, we are to pray in his name- not to him, but in his name, meaning to use him as a sort of reference when praying (which is assumed to be directly to God) so that God knows we are one of Yeshua’s flock.

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But when we pray in Yeshua’s name, does that mean he hears our prayers?

First off, let’s get something straight, once and for all: the use of the word “name” in the Bible, unless it specifically is used to identify one person from another, refers to the reputation and renown of the one being mentioned. For example, the term “name of the Lord” doesn’t refer to the Tetragrammaton, the Hebrew letters Yud-Heh-Vuv-Heh (יהוה) but rather to God’s reputation and power. Calling on the name of the Lord means to look to God for help, to ask for his power and strength to be given to you. It isn’t calling to him like you would call to a friend (“Yo! Hey, Harry- how ya doin?“), but to ask for intercession.

That being said, the next issue is the idea of Trinitarianism- if God and Yeshua are one and the same entity, then praying to God or to Yeshua is the same thing, so then the answer is “Yes- Yeshua hears our prayers.” OK, but what about the fact that the Bible tells us they are separate beings? Stephen, when getting stoned to death (Acts 7) says he sees Yeshua sitting at the right hand of God. So, nu? If Yeshua is sitting next to God, then they are not one and the same entity- at least, not at the moment.

And what about the fact that praying to anything other than God, the Father, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is continually considered idolatry throughout the Bible? I have often said that Yeshua is the Intercessor of prayer, not the Interceptor of it, meaning that when we pray in his name, we do not pray to him, we only refer to him, sort of like name-dropping.

Think back to the early 20th Century in the United States, when they passed that crazy legislation called the Prohibition Act, which made public sale of alcohol a federal offence. Many places, called “Speakeasy’s”, were where people could go to get a drink in secret. They used to have a small window in the main entrance which had a sliding panel, so when someone came to get into the building, the panel slid away so the guard inside could see if it was the police. And you would give a password, such as “Joe sent me” to gain entrance.

Well, I see praying in Yeshua’s name as sort of the same thing- Yeshua isn’t there when we come to God in prayer, but we use his name to “gain entrance”. Not that God will refuse a prayer not in Yeshua’s name, but that name has power and authority that other prayers may not have.

Yeshua said the only way to the father is through him (John 14:6), and I believe that he is not talking about prayer, at all, but about being able to be forgiven of our sins, which is really going to help when we come before God at Judgement Day if we want to find ourselves written in the Book of Life.

Yeshua’s substitutionary death was just that- a substitution, which replaced the need to sacrifice an animal at the temple in Jerusalem to receive forgiveness. The Torah states that the only place we can sacrifice to God is where he places his name (Deuteronomy 12:5), which was (of course) the temple Solomon built, but that temple was destroyed in 73 A.D., so …now what?

Yeshua is what- because his sacrificial death replaced the need to bring an animal to the temple, the only way to be forgiven now is through Yeshua’s sacrifice, which can only be valid if and when you accept that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised to send.

If you haven’t guessed by now, my answer to my own question whether or not Yeshua hears our prayers is that he probably doesn’t, but to be honest, I don’t know for sure. The Bible doesn’t give us even a hint about this. He does sit at God’s right hand, and he does intercede for us, although I believe that his intercession, as I already pointed out, is not related to our prayer but to our salvation.

In either case, whether he hears prayers or not and whether he is God or not (which is NOT a topic for this discussion), the best thing to do is always pray directly to God, for he is the ultimate power and the only one who can forgive sins, despite what the Roman Catholic church says (I am sorry, but some human being wearing a silly collar cannot forgive your sins, and why pray to some saint when Yeshua says we can pray directly to God?)

What do you think?

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and let me wish you an early Shabbat Shalom!

Thank God for God

This may sound redundant, but really- thank God for God! If not for him, what would we have to look forward to?

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There would be no afterlife, unless you were a believer in reincarnation, and the way that works it takes many lifetimes until you get to be a Braham, and even once you make it to that level, which is one step below Nirvana, you can still screw it up and come back as a snake, or a cockroach, or something.

Then you have to start all over again.

At least with God, we have our entire lifetime to accept the truth that God is God, Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah he promised to send, and through faithful obedience to God’s commandments (not what some religion says you must or don’t have to do) we only have to wait until this life is over to be in a state of joy and peace for all eternity.

Besides the afterlife, we have this lifetime to enjoy, and when we do as God says, he promises to bless us (Deuteronomy 28), and he never runs out of blessings.

God also helps us get past the tough times, the times in our lives where tsouris (troubles) cannot be avoided, like the death of loved ones, social issues with co-workers or family, etc. By trusting in him we receive all good things (James 1:17) and we can always find peace, even in the worst of times.

When we are humble enough to realize that whatever good things we have, be it financial, physical, mental, or social all are because God has provided it for us, we can find peace and solace even in the worst of times because whatever God gave, he can take away, and whatever God takes away, he can renew.

That is another reason to thank God for God.

So, next time you think to yourself how happy or comfortable you are, take another moment to thank God that he exists and is so very, very willing to provide for you.

I feel sorry for the atheists and agnostics because what have they to look forward to, except the luck of the draw? No one can help them but themselves: it will always be them against the world because you can never trust a human being.

But I feel even worse for the “godly” people who are misled by their religion instead of being properly led by the Torah, which is the only place in the entire Bible where God tells us what he wants us to do.

Thank you for being here, and please share these messages. Don’t forget to click on the notification bell so you will know the next time I post.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and (an early) Shabbat Shalom!

How Do We Know Who is Right?

I am writing my fifth book, which is a book about the Bible for people who want to know what the Bible says, but don’t want to have to read the whole thing. And in the introduction, I review how the Bible was put together. And when I did that, I began to wonder how we can know if what the scholars decided was “biblically valid” really is.

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The Tanakh was (supposedly) put together by Yeshua ben Sira (cir.180 BCE), and we also have the Septuagint (called the LXX, because there were 70 scholars who translated the Torah into Greek) which dates to sometime between the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, BCE in Alexandria, Egypt.

Some of the requirements were that the writing had to be in Hebrew, except for some Aramaic exceptions, it had to be sanctioned by usage in the Jewish community (such as the Megillah of Hadassah being accepted because it was read every Purim), the writing had to contain one of the great themes of Judaism, and to be in the Tanakh it had to be done before the time of Ezra because it was widely believed that after Ezra, there was no further spiritual inspiration coming from God.

The ones who created Christianity also had rules for what they found acceptable. To be included in the B’rit Chadasha (Good News, also used for the New Covenant), the writing had to be written by a prophet of God (interesting, since Judaism believed after Ezra there were no longer any prophets), the writer had to be authenticated by miracles, the book had to tell the truth about God without falsehood, it had to be able to transform lives, and it had to be accepted as God’s word by the ones who first heard it.

All of these requirements seem to be rather subjective, if you ask me.

Who is to know what these people talked about, what they looked at, what they knew or what socio-political pressures they were under when they decided, “OK- this is in, this is out.”?

Look at the Talmud- it is considered scripture by some factions within Judaism, but it is really full of mythology and superstitious drek. It has a lot of good things, such as commentary on the Torah, but in the end, it is a bunch of rabbis and scholars arguing about what God really meant, and how we should obey him.

And as for the New Covenant, 2/3 of it are letters from Shaul that aren’t really God-breathed or prophetic, but rather managerial instructions to the congregations he started who were having problems with maintaining their faith.

I did an entire study on the Epistles of Paul- here is a link to that study:
The Pauline Epistles: What They Really Are

The only scripture in the entire New Covenant is what the writers referenced from the Tanakh and except for the time Yeshua was transformed on the mountain, God doesn’t say a single word in the entire New Covenant. Every original writing in there comes from a human being.

So, again I ask you: who is to say who is right?

My answer is that the only totally verifiable word of God in the entire Bible is found in the Hebrew language Torah, and I justify that statement by the simple fact that each Torah is copied exactly from another Torah, even to the point of counting every letter on every scroll page, and that Moses didn’t write from a prophetic vision but took dictation directly from God. The Torah is the only place in the entire Bible where you will find the ultimate qualifier, which is:

And God said to Moses, Tell the children of Israel that the Lord says….”

The next best thing is when a prophet tells us what he saw in a vision or what God said to him to relate to the people, but that might be somewhat in his own words. We can’t be sure.

For myself, when we know the entire Bible, and what we read in one part of the Bible can be validated by the same thing being said in another part of the Bible (this is called Hermeneutics), then I feel confident that it is something that is correctly teaching me about God or Messiah.

To finish this diatribe of mine, I do not want to dissuade anyone from believing what they read in the Bible, but to question it, to test it, and to pray for God to give you discernment and understanding through the Ruach HaKodesh, which is the Holy Spirit. Never be afraid to test what you believe in, because the truth will always win out.

Oh, I should mention that you will not be able to utilize the Ruach unless you have accepted Yeshua as the Messiah God promised to send and asked for the indwelling of God’s spirit.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Just Who is the Alpha and the Omega?

Most of the times I talk with Christians, they identify Yeshua (Jesus) as the one who is the Alpha and the Omega. This is based on Revelation 22:13, when Yeshua tells John, in his vision of the new earth and the new Jerusalem, that he is the Alpha and the Omega.

But that isn’t what God says.

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When we go to the very beginning of Revelation, here is what John writes (CJB):

From: Yochanan
To: The seven Messianic communities in the province of Asia:
Grace and shalom to you from the One who is, who was and who is coming; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Yeshua the Messiah, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the earth’s kings.
To him, the one who loves us, who has freed us from our sins at the cost of his blood, who has caused us to be a kingdom, that is, cohanim for God, his Father — to him be the glory and the rulership forever and ever. Amen.

Look! He is coming with the clouds! Every eye will see him, including those who pierced him;
and all the tribes of the Land will mourn him. Yes! Amen!
“I am the ‘A’ and the ‘Z,’” says Adonai, God of heaven’s armies, the One who is, who was and who is coming
.

I have bold typed and underlined the specific parts I want to make clear. As you can see, the message is from God and Yeshua, indicating they are separate entities. Later, Yeshua is recognized as the one through whose blood we have become a nation of Cohanim (priests), for God, his father- again, God and Yeshua are identified as being separate entities.

Finally, we are told, absolutely, just who is the Alpha and the Omega, and that is God, himself, the God of heaven’s armies. And again, in Revelation 22:5, God is the one on the throne and he again states that he is the Alpha and the Omega.

Yet, we have Yeshua also making that claim, for himself, later in Chapter 22.

We have God saying he is the “A” and the “Z”, more than once, and Yeshua saying it once, at the very end of the vision, after all of God’s wrath is spent and eternity begins.

So, nu? How do we reconcile Yeshua as being treated throughout the vision as separate, but now at the end of it all claiming also to be the “A’ and the “Z”?

To me there can be only one conclusion: that when Yeshua’s role as the Messiah is completed, meaning that he has sacrificed for all, been raised, and returned to conquer evil in the world, once and for all, he will then no longer be needed as a Messiah and will become God’s direct representative over the earth.

In other words, he will not be God, but will be positioned as God, with all of God’s authority to rule over the earth, essentially making him also the “A” and the “Z”, from that moment on, throughout all eternity.

I know, I know, it sounds a little contrived, I agree: but the only other answer is that Yeshua, separate up to that point, is what? Absorbed into God? Does he replace God? Does God take a vacation, leaving Yeshua to run the ship until he returns?

I don’t think so.

I believe that Yeshua, God, and the Ruach HaKodesh are totally separate entities, and that even though it may seem that at times Yeshua claims to be God, he isn’t. And frankly, when all things are done and said, it really won’t matter if God and Yeshua are the same entity in separate forms, or separate entities ruling together, or any combination thereof: for me, all that matters is that I will be on the winning side when it all is over.

And you know what? If that isn’t enough for you, then I don’t know what to tell you.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and (an early) Shabbat Shalom!

Tsouris is Temporary but Salvation is Eternal.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Yiddish, tsouris means troubles or problems. If you are old enough or competent enough to understand what I just wrote, then you know what tsouris is like because life is full of tsouris.

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Despite how much tsouris we have to live with, we can look forward to the afterlife; at least, I believe in the afterlife, which is only natural since I believe in God and that Yeshua is the Messiah God promised to send throughout the Tanakh. It is through the sacrificial death Yeshua underwent that makes it possible for us to receive forgiveness of our sins; prior to him, the way we received forgiveness was to sacrifice an animal where God placed his name, which was the temple in Jerusalem. Well, as you know, that temple was destroyed in 73 A.D., so now the only way to receive forgiveness is by means of the sacrifice Yeshua made on our behalf.

You may be thinking that the Bible says that no one who loves the Lord has ever gone hungry or not had a place to sleep (Psalm 37:25). Well, let’s get real, People- lovers of God are suffering every day, all over the world (especially in Third World countries), and many are going with little or no food for periods of days, and sleeping on the street.

Does that mean the Bible lied? I don’t think so; I think the Bible was talking in general terms.

One of the problems people have with understanding God, which is only done through understanding the Bible, is that we are mortal- we think in finite terms, and to us, this physical plane of existence is all we can relate to. Eternity sounds nice, but to truly relate and understand what it is, well… that’s like trying to picture one million people standing on each other’s shoulders.

Can’t be done.

God, on the other hand, doesn’t think in finite terms because he is not mortal. God sees everything from an eternal viewpoint, existing on a spiritual plane that is so far above our mortal existence that even though he knows and understands the physical (being omniscient helps, not to mention he created the universe) he is always thinking on an eternal level.

What I am saying is that even if we have to go hungry or not have a roof over our heads, once in a while, while we are alive, those who love the Lord will enter eternity in his presence and never again have that problem.

We need to remember that this existence is only temporary, but that the afterlife is forever.

Think of it this way- when we’re expecting something, time seems to go at… a… snail’s… pace, but when we look back on our life, things have happened at warp speed. But after we have been resurrected with the Messiah and on the new earth, under our own tree, enjoying our own wine, we will look back and if we remember anything at all, it will seem to have happened in the blink of an eye.

So, nu! Take solace in the fact that when you are having tsouris, as we all will more than once during our lives, it is only temporary. It may suck while you are going through it, but go through it, you will! And so long as you maintain your faith and persevere, when you are with the Lord things will be great!

The rewards for accepting Yeshua as your Messiah and spending your life obeying God’s instructions (in the Torah) as best as you can, will be more joyful and peaceful than you could ever imagine.

That’s it for today, so I look forward to any comments you may have and will end with l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Who Made You God?

You know the type- they tell you what you must believe, they have their own ideas formed by taking verses or phrases out of context and forming an entirely different tenet based on it, and they also insult you, your beliefs, and even go as far as to tell you that you aren’t really saved or a true believer.

And what do they base all this on? A post you made on social media!

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I recently ran into one of these people, someone responding to one of my messages who insisted that if a person didn’t show the signs that are stated in Mark 16:17-18, then they aren’t a real believer.

It started with her questioning my tag line, “God has no religion“, and she asked me what religion I am. I replied that I don’t care for labels, but if I had to use one, Messianic Jewish man would be the one that fits, although I prefer “Believer” since I believe in God, Yeshua, and live my life as close to being Torah observant as I can.

When she asked me if I show the signs stated in Mark, I said I don’t play with snakes or drink poison, I am not an exorcist or a faith healer- I am just a teacher. I further explained that these signs are not an absolute necessity for accepting Yeshua as the Messiah, and they are not, in any way, a qualifier for the spiritual status of a person. I think I really ticked her off when I said I have never spoken in tongues, and don’t care if I ever do.

You see, over the past 1/4 century I have been a Messianic Jew/Believer, I have heard many people babble away “speaking in tongues”, or so it seems. But according to the Bible, if someone is truly speaking through the Spirit, unless there is someone else there who (by the same Spirit) interprets the message, then that person should remain silent (1 Corinthians 14:28). My experience in two different houses of worship- a Messianic synagogue and a Hebraic Roots church, is that when I hear people speaking in tongues, NO ONE HAS EVER INTERPRETED! There have been so many people so desperate to speak in tongues that I believe they do it themselves, convincing themselves that their babbling is really spirit-led, and they do so audibly.

I have to ask myself why they go against what Paul says, especially since so much of Christian teaching is that Paul is really who they should listen to, and my answer is that they speak in tongues out loud so they can receive the honor of people. And we all know (or should know) what Yeshua said about that.

So, nu? What’s my point? It’s this: do not throw pearls before swine; if you meet someone who thinks they are God, in that they can determine the true level of your spiritual being through reading something you post, block them! You will never get through to them, and all you will receive for your efforts to prove yourself truly a God-fearing man or woman will be insults and frustration, both of which lead to unrighteous anger.

Truthfully, I feel sorry for those types, because despite how holy and spiritually gifted they think they are, when they come before God, he will strip the skin of self-righteousness they have from their bodies, and his judgement of them will be like pouring lemon juice on that now raw and exposed skin.

Can anyone really judge a person’s relationship with God from a Facebook post? I don’t think so! And when someone goes as far as to judge your relationship with God, deny that you really do believe in Messiah Yeshua, and refute what you say about your level of biblical obedience, well…I’ve just gotta ask: who made them God?

Thank you for being here and remember I do welcome your comments, except not so much the nasty ones.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and (an early) Shabbat Shalom!

There Are Sinners in Heaven

First off, let’s set the record straight- heaven is the domain and abode of God and the angels. According to everything we read, especially in Revelation, we who are written in the Book of Life will be on a new Earth, with a new Jerusalem lowered from the heavens.

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Okay, then- how do I know there are sinners in heaven, or more correctly, that there will be people who have sinned but will still be in the Book of life, and a member of that fraternity which will live eternally in the presence of the LORD?

Simple…Yeshua tells us it will be this way.

In Matthew 5:17-19, what must be one of the MOST misinterpreted, misused, and misunderstood verses in the entire word of God, he tells us that he hasn’t come to change anything, especially not the Torah or the requirements to obey the Torah, and as he finishes telling us that, he also warns that anyone who tries to change even so much as a letter in the Torah, and then teaches others to do so, will be the least in the kingdom of heaven. But those who obey the Torah and teach others to do so will be considered greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Besides this clear statement that there will be those who disobey the Torah, yet will still be allowed into the kingdom of heaven, is the undeniable truth that every single one of us, even those written in the Book of Life, are still sinners, and will continue to be sinners

We can’t help it- it is the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) that we are all born with, also called Iniquity (the desire to sin), and Christianity calls it Original Sin. Any way you look at it, we are all sinners (Oy! How many times are we told that in the Bible, right?) and we will continue to sin throughout our lifetimes.

That’s why God sent the Messiah- he is our only hope for finding forgiveness when we accept him as our messiah and, by means of his sinless life and sacrifice, we can be washed clean of the stain of sin by his blood, shed for all.

Now, does this mean that you do not have to obey the Torah, at all? Of course not! Just because we are all sinners, and those who disobey Torah can still be a member of the kingdom of God, that’s no excuse to purposefully disobey.

In Leviticus Chapter 4, God talks about the way people can be forgiven for inadvertently sinning, and I believe that God considers his sacrificial system based on people sinning by accident, or in ignorance. In fact, he also includes a means for receiving forgiveness when a sin is committed, but the person is unaware of it.

Here’s what scary about that- even if someone sins by accident, or is unaware of their sin, they are still guilty! When they are made aware of it, then they must do what God commands, under the sacrificial system- which still exists! The only difference is that instead of sacrificing an animal at the temple in Jerusalem, which was the Torah commandment, Yeshua’s sacrifice has replaced that step. However, still need to confess the sin, repent of it, and ask forgiveness.

As for me, to be safe I ask for forgiveness of whatever sins I have committed against God every, single morning. I think this is a really good idea, and strongly recommend you do the same.

You are asking yourself now:

So, what is the requirement? Do I have to obey the Torah completely or not?”

I wish I could give you an absolute answer, and even if I think I know, I am going to say, simply, that the choice is up to you.

I will say this, though: I believe that God is more concerned with our desire to be obedient than the actual act of obedience. He states clearly, in Isaiah 1:11-17, that just going through the motions, without really feeling or desiring to do as he says, is meaningless to him. In fact, not just meaningless, but he says they are a stench in his nostrils, and the reason for his disgust is this (Isa. 1:12):

Who wants your sacrifices when you have no sorrow for your sins? “

This is all I have to say on this topic, at least for now. The bottom line is this: as I see it, the Bible is clear that trying to be Torah observant is more important to God than actually being in complete accordance with the Torah. The fact that no one can obey Torah completely, for more than a minute or so, is why he sent Yeshua, who also is very clear that obedience to his father’s commandments is still important until everything has come to pass.

And it seems pretty obvious that the kingdom of God is still coming, so I would suggest you listen to Yeshua and not some religion.

Unless you would rather be assigned a seat at the kiddie table on the new Earth.

That’s it for this week, so l’hitraot and (an early) Shabbat Shalom!

Why Bother Praying?

We are told that God knows the heart and mind of everyone (Chronicles 28:9, Jeremiah 17:10), so if he is able to know what we are thinking and feeling, why then do we need to speak to him in prayer?

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I have always been reluctant to pray from the Siddur (prayer book) because I felt that if God really wants me to speak to him, why use someone else’s words? How can I make a heartfelt prayer when the words aren’t even mine?

This has always been an issue with my prayer life. And recently I have come to understand the value of praying to God, even though he already knows what it is I want, how I feel, and, much better than me, what I need.

The reason we need to pray to God, even if we use someone else’s words (although I still prefer to use my own) is to establish that personal relationship, a relationship that isn’t just one-sided. You see, if we don’t speak to God, purposefully letting him know what we want and how we feel, as well as thanking him, then the relationship is really one-sided: God to us, but not us to God.

We need to acknowledge who God is, how he has helped our lives to be better, and to allow him to hear our voice- even if it is a silent prayer- because that is our communication to, and with, him.

True, for 99.99999% of the time (5-9’s after the decimal point is an IT thing) God will be listening without responding- at least, not verbally- to us when we pray, but it is not a one-sided thing because we are both involved in specific and directed communication.

We pray: God listens; we wait for an answer: he does.

Sometimes it’s exactly what we want; sometimes it isn’t what we want but it is what we need; sometimes it comes when we ask for it; sometimes it comes when we least expect it; and sometimes it is just, plain “No.”

But whatever we pray for, and whichever way God answers, the important thing is to establish and maintain that interpersonal communication, which strengthens our relationship.

Even within human interpersonal relationships, talking to each other is essential to create and maintain that intimacy. Sharing our thoughts, desires, and problems helps us to strengthen the bonds of love between ourselves.

That is why prayer is so essential in our relationship with God, and why I pray every single day.

I started to do this when I first wanted to test if God really existed, and there was no answer for months, Then, one day, at Shabbat services in aa Messianic temple I was attending, I was ready to accept Yeshua as my Messiah; the Rabbi anointed me, and I felt the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) enter my body. It was a life-changing experience, and even though it was more than a quarter of a century ago, I still get chills when I recount it to myself or others.

That was the answer to my prayers. At that moment I knew- absolutely- that God existed, Yeshua was the Messiah he promised to send, and since that day I have received answers to prayer. And I know he is listening.

So even though God knows what we want, what we need, and what is truly in our hearts, we MUST pray to him to maintain that interpersonal relationship. Often enough, when I talk to God, I know even if he doesn’t reply, that I am not just talking to him, but with him because he is listening, compassionately, lovingly, and intently.

How he can do that, hear me among the billions of people all praying at the same time, and give each and every one of us the same level of attention, well…it’s beyond me.

But, then again, he is God, isn’t he?

Thank you for being here and please remember that I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for today, so L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Examples of God’s Compassionate Understanding

In Numbers 15:32-41, we read about a man who was out gathering sticks on the Shabbat, well after the commandment about not doing any work on the Shabbat was known to all, and he did this in full view of all the people. His punishment, which Moses asked God to proclaim, was to be taken outside of the camp and then stoned to death by all the people.

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Many years later, after the people had entered the land and destroyed Jericho, in Joshua 7 we read about a man named Akhan who disobeyed God’s commandment regarding the booty of Jericho, which resulted in God abandoning the people at their very next encounter during their attack on the city of Ai, causing the death of 36 Israelites.

God had told Joshua that no one was to take any of the booty from Jericho, it was all to be destroyed or dedicated to God. But Akhan took some silver, a block of gold, along with some nice clothing and buried them all in his tent.

The people didn’t know of this, and when they went to attack a much smaller, easier target – a town called Ai- they were routed, with 36 of the Israelites killed. After their miraculous victory at Jericho, this loss had them totally demoralized, wondering why God had abandoned them. Not only that, but now they were scared for their lives, knowing that once this defeat was known, the other people they were to fight would have a renewed sense of courage.

God told Joshua what had happened, and after throwing lots to find the one person responsible for this defeat, the lot fell to Akhan. The punishment decreed by God was to have him and his entire family stoned to death buy all the people, and then their remains and all their possessions burned to ashes.

What do these two seemingly different events have in common?

They both are examples of the first time someone disobeyed a direct commandment from God. And God came down hard- REALLY hard- to demonstrate to everyone else the terrible consequences of disobeying the LORD.

“But Steve, your title for this message is about God’s compassionate understanding. Sorry to say, he doesn’t sound very compassionate, or understanding from what he did to those people.”

You’re right- the punishment God exacted on those people was terribly harsh, but it was done to set an example for all the others. Although most “compassionate” people don’t want to accept this, the punishment was to show compassion for the rest of the people, in that by this example of the terrible consequences of disobedience, God might put the real fear of him into the people who were thinking they might do the same thing.

Let’s go back to the man stoned for collecting sticks. The very next commandment God gave Moses after they stoned the man was that everyone should make and wear tzitzit-

  • because when everyone sees the other person’s tzitzit, they will all be reminded to obey God’s commands.

The compassionate understanding here is that God recognized our weak nature, and how easily we succumbed to “Out of sight, out of mind”, so he ordered us to wear the tzitzit to keep anyone else from making this mistake. He was protecting us from ourselves.

When Akhan took the booty that was to be dedicated to God, not only did he disobey God’s command, but he stole from God! That was a double-sin, and God made the punishment doubly terrible because he wanted the people to realize that even what is done in secret is known to God.

The man who collected sticks wasn’t sneaking out at night- he was in full public view. People could think it was easy for God to know about it. But what Akhan did was in secret, yet God was still well aware of what happened. The people needed to know that nothing- absolutely nothing- is unknown to God.

So where was God’s compassion after Akhan and his family were destroyed?

It was that God decreed that when the people destroy Ai, and from that point on, they may take whatever booty they want. Again, God recognized and compassionately allowed for our weak natures.

Clearly, if Akhan had gotten away with what he did, it would eventually become known, and then others would figure, “Hey! If he could do it, why not me?” So, God headed off that sin by allowing them to take the booty.

Now there will be those who disagree with my understanding, and that’s OK- I am not the “Duty Expert” on the Bible. And there are those people who say they don’t believe in God because he is supposed to be loving and compassionate, but he kills men, women, and children, so something is wrong. They come to their own conclusion that since God kills people, he isn’t compassionate and loving, and since he isn’t what they say he is, he must not be real.

God is compassionate and loving, and that is the very reason why he punishes those who disobey. I think the real reason people choose to reject God, thereby not having to practice any religion, is because they don’t like the idea of someone having absolute power over them.

Pridefulness and obstinacy are the main reasons many people will not have a very enjoyable eternity.

You can decide for yourself if God’s punishments were a loving or unloving thing to do, despite how terrible some of those punishments were. But remember this: God doesn’t exist on the same plane we do- he is eternal, we are mortal, and whereas we can’t really see beyond this existence, he sees things from an eternal viewpoint. As such, he isn’t so much concerned with how long we live this life as he is with where we spend eternity.

The bottom line is this, whether somebody likes it or not: God makes the rules, and we either obey them or get our tuchas in a sling.

The most compassionate and loving thing God has ever done was to send the Messiah to us, so that we have the ultimate means of receiving forgiveness when we repent of the sins we commit.

Thank you for being here, and please remember to subscribe, and I always welcome your comments.

That’s it for today, so l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!