Why Christians Should Obey the Torah

To many Christians the Torah is a set of laws, and (sadly) most Christians have been taught that these laws apply mostly just to Jews. Christians have been taught that Jews are saved by the Torah, but Christians are saved by faith in Jesus and all they need to do is be a good person and love each other.

Oy! If only it was really that easy.

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In fact, the laws that are in the Torah are really more like commandments, given directly from God, so let’s take a look at the actual Hebrew word for commandment, which is Mitzvah (מצוה).

Mitzvot (the plural form of mitzvah) are laws that God said we must perform. Until Yeshua taught us the deeper, more spiritual understanding of these laws (called the Remes), the Pharisees had been teaching just the plain language of the law, called the P’shat.

Here’s an example: the Pharisees had been teaching that you should not murder, but Yeshua said it was more than just not murdering- we should not even hate in our heart!

Another example is when the Pharisees taught not to commit adultery, but Yeshua said not to so much as lust with your eyes.

Yeshua taught that we must do more than just obey the law, we must personalize it. The New Covenant God made says (Jeremiah 31:31-33):

“I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts;”

What does it mean to write it on our hearts? To me, that means that we will not obey what God says to do just to meet the letter of the law, but it will be a part of us- just as breathing, as eating, and as any other autonomic function of the body because his mitzvot will be a part of our very essence, written right into our DNA.

So, what about the Gentiles who accept Yeshua? Will they also have to have God’s mitzvot written on their hearts?

I think the answer is pretty obvious- of course they will! Anyone who wants to be part of this new covenant God made (which, ironically enough, is what Christians believe they are under) will have to have God’s mitzvot written on their hearts.

Do you Gentiles out there get it yet? Being a good person won’t be enough; besides the fact that Yeshua, himself, said no one is good except God (Mark 10:18), God said (through Jeremiah) that anyone who is going to be part of the new covenant will have God’s mitzvot written on their hearts, so they will be (here it comes…get ready…) OBEYING THE TORAH!

Here’s another little goodie for you… a mitzvah has a secondary meaning of “a good deed”. That means if you want to stick by the improper teaching of all you need to do is be a good person, well, good people are known by the fact that they do good deeds, right? So, to be a good person you have to perform mitzvot, and since mitzvot means both good deeds AND God’s commandments, even under the traditional Christian idea of being a good person, that requires you to obey the Torah.

Oy gevalt! Traditional Christian teaching has always said the Torah is just for Jews, but now you tell me that to be a participant in God’s new covenant I have to obey the Torah?

That’s not what I say, it’s what God says. Those who God makes this new covenant with will have his laws/mitzvot written on their hearts, and the only mitzvot that existed, in fact, the only ones God cares about, are the ones HE gave us, and they are in the Torah.

That’s the reason why any person, Jewish or Gentile, who wants to be under this new covenant God is making with us will have to have his mitzvot written on their hearts, which means they will obey the Torah: not as a result of some legalistic motivation, not to earn salvation, and not from fear of going to hell if they don’t. No! Anyone who will be under the new covenant will obey the Torah because it will be as natural to them as breathing!

My advice to anyone who wants to be in God’s presence throughout eternity is that they will have to be under the new covenant God said he will make, and so the first thing they need to do is unlearn whatever their religion has told them. Next, whether Jew or Gentile (sadly, most Jews don’t know the Torah any better than most Gentiles do), they should read the Torah over and over to get familiar with the mitzvot God gives so they will know how to worship and treat each other the way God says to do it. Finally, and this is directed to my Jewish brothers and sisters, they need to accept the truth that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah God promised to send.

There you have it! All your Christian life you have been told just being a good person and loving others will get you a ticket into heaven, but now you know that is a bunch of drek. You need to obey God, not a religion, if you want to be in his presence.

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

Creation of Eve and Yeshua Deny Trinity

When someone wants to justify the Christian-born theological belief that Yeshua and God are one and the same entity, they can only find that justification in the Gospel of John, and mostly only in John 10:30, where he says he and the Father are one.

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But what about everything before that? He talks of how he was empowered by God, how he, Yeshua, is a good shepherd, how he, Yeshua, does as God tells him to do, and how he, Yeshua, is the gate; and throughout the gospel he states that he only does and says what God has told him to do and say.

In all the Gospels (except for that one, FIGURATIVE statement in John 10:30), Yeshua continually identifies himself as one who is separate from God, who will sit at God’s right hand, and who only does and says what God tells him to do and say, which is why he made (again, only found in John’s Gospel) the figurative statement that when we see him, we see God. What he meant was that because he only does and says what God tells him to do and say, he is an IMAGE of God on Earth.

Not the same entity but acting as if that entity was physically there.

Now we come to Eve. How was she created? Supernaturally from a man. Adam was the first man, in Hebrew, “Ish“, and when she was created, Adam said that she was from man, so he called her “Isha” (Genesis 2:23).

When Adam first saw Eve (no, I won’t share any of the many jokes about this event), he said that she was “bone from his bone and flesh from his flesh“. In fact, in Genesis 2:24 (CJB), the Bible says:

“This is why a man is to leave his father and mother and stick with his wife, and they are to be one flesh.”

So even though the Bible says they are to be one flesh, Eve was never considered to be Adam.

So, too, when God caused Miryam to give birth to Yeshua, he was supernaturally created, born out of a woman but from God, yet he was separate from God because God is entirely of spirit and Yeshua was entirely human.

Just as Eve was from Adam, but not Adam, so, too, Yeshua was from God, but not God.

Clearly the statement that when a man and a woman are married, they are to be one flesh is meant to be spiritually as one; in the real world, they are still totally separate entities (just ask anyone who is married!). So, too, is the relationship between God and Yeshua: they are one in spirit, but physically they were two totally separate entities, and have always remained so.

We also see that the similarity between Eve and Yeshua continues into the End Times.

When punishing the snake for causing Eve to sin (Genesis 3:14-15), God says that there will be animosity between the snake and the woman, and between “his descendant and her descendant.”

Notice, please, that the word “descendant” is singular, not plural. In the other versions I have looked at, they use the word “offspring” or “seed”, but in all cases I saw, the word used was in the singular.

This clearly shows- at least, to me- that God was defining the relationship between mankind and HaSatan: Satan would constantly be at our heels, causing us to fall and his descendant is the Anti-Christ, and Yeshua, the descendant of Eve, would crush his head, i.e., destroy him.

The argument over Trinity or Unity will never stop because it has become so ingrained in so many Christian religions that it will never go away, and we will not have an absolute answer until the End Days (Acharit HaYamim) come.

Until then, we must remember that we are not saved by faithfully believing Yeshua is God, but by faithfully believing that Yeshua is the Messiah sent by God. His role is to be an Intercessor, a shepherd, a representative from God who is the one and only Messiah. And through his sacrifice enables us to be forgiven of sin, thereby able to come into the presence of God, Almighty.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and YouTube channel, join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word” (but make sure you agree to the rules, or you won’t be able to post anything), and if you like what you get here, you will definitely like my (very affordably priced) books, available from my website and Amazon, in both paperback and Kindle formats.

And remember that I always welcome your comments, although it may take a day or two before I can get to them.

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

Is the Sacrificial System Done Away With?

The sacrificial system was designed by God to allow us to have a means of coming into his presence. There are many different types of sacrifice that are defined in the Torah, but only two types of sacrifice are for sin.

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The main types of sacrifices are:

  • The burnt offering.
  • The grain offering.
  • The peace offering.
  • The sin offering.
  • The guilt offering.

The most important sacrifices are to be made in a specific order, which is we first sacrifice innocent blood so that we can be forgiven of our sins, followed by a wholly burnt offering (representing a total recommitment to God), and ending with a friendship/thanksgiving offering which reunites us with God; this is the only offering where the one bringing the sacrifice gets to share eating the meat of the sacrifice then and there, in a holy place.

A guilt offering is a type of sacrifice made as a compensation payment for unintentional and certain intentional transgressions and is distinct from the sin offering. For example, if someone had borrowed a cow and the cow was killed as a result of the borrower’s negligence, he would be required to compensate the owner with the value of the cow, plus 20%.

The sacrificial system also included the types of offerings made that had nothing to do with sin. There are the offerings made for a woman who was declared clean after her time of Niddah (menstrual cycle), for being found clean from tzara’at (leprosy), voluntary offerings, offerings for after completing a Nazarene vow, and others.

So, when Christians have been taught that Yeshua’s sacrifice was a once-and-for-all sacrifice, that is true, but only with regards to the requirement to bring a sin sacrifice to the temple in Jerusalem, which was the only place where any sacrifice could be made, according to the Torah (Deuteronomy 12:5).

This is why the destruction of the temple in 73 A.D. by Rome was so devastating to the Jewish population- without the temple, there could be no forgiveness of sin! And that is why it is so important for my Jewish brothers and sisters to recognize and accept Yeshua as the Messiah, because his substitutionary sacrifice is the only way we can now be forgiven of sin.

The traditional Jewish belief of one of the things the Messiah will do when he comes is to rebuild the temple, and thereby reinstitute the sacrificial system so that we can be forgiven of sin- this is the way that the Messiah will bring us back into communion with God.

I believe that after all things are done, after HaSatan is completely and finally defeated, those of us who belong to Yeshua will once again be able to bring our sacrifices to the temple.

Those sacrifices will not be for the removal of sin, because at that time we will have come into the complete fulfillment of the new covenant God told us about in Jeremiah 31:31, when the Torah will be written on our hearts. There will be korbanot (offerings) to God as a means of showing our love and thanksgiving to him, but not as a means to be forgiven because Yeshua took care of that one.

So, the next time someone tells you that Yeshua did away with the sacrificial system, you can tell them they are correct, but only with regard to the sacrifice for sin.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe to this ministry on my website, as well as my YouTube channel. I also have a Facebook page and a group called “Just God’s Word” which I invite you to join, but please ensure you agree to the rules to be let in.

I also ask that you share these messages with everyone you know and remember that I always welcome your comments, which I try to answer in a reasonable time.

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

Let’s Talk Trinity

As those of you who have been following me for years (which I truly appreciate), you know I have often stated that, as far as I am concerned, whether Yeshua is God or not, for the purposes of salvation it doesn’t really matter because we are not saved by belief that Yeshua is God but by our acceptance of him as the Messiah God promised to send.

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The reason I say this is simple: God has a plan, and the Messiah is part of that plan. If God wanted to do it all as himself, he would have without confusing the issue by coming in a separate form.

We know from the Tanakh references to God that when he uses angels, they often speak in the first person because they are his messengers and are speaking for him, so when Yeshua does that (and he only does that in the one Gospel, the Gospel of John) he is not claiming to be God but speaking for God. In fact, when we look at the couple of times Yeshua says things such as when we see him, we see God, and if we knew him, we would know the Father, for anyone not already conditioned otherwise it is clear that he is speaking figuratively, not literally.

But let’s not stop there- what about the fact that throughout the Gospels (again, John being the sole exception, which by that very fact renders it questionable) Yeshua never takes any credit for himself, but instead he gives all the credit and glory to God.

There is only one exception that I can recall where Yeshua came close to taking credit for a healing, and that is in Luke 5:12, when the man with leprosy says if Yeshua is willing, he can heal him, and Yeshua says, “I am willing; be healed.”

Let’s also remember that Yeshua tells the Sanhedrin at his (illegal) trial that one day they will see him sitting at the right hand of God (Matthew 26:64). Well, I think that makes it pretty clear that Yeshua thinks he is a separate entity from God.

And then we have the testimony from Stephen (Acts 7:55), who, as he was being stoned to death, declared that he saw the Holy One and Yeshua standing at his side. Two separate entities.

It is documented that the first use of the term “trinity” was by Tertullian (160-225 AD) and there are other writings from biblical and religious historians that indicate the references in the letters from Shaul (Paul) and John regarding false teachings that were damaging the faith of the neophyte believers had to do with this idea of three-in-one. The religious doctrine that God is not unique but three entities in one form, which denies the Jewish belief that God is a totally unique entity (as stated in our most foundational prayer, the Shema), would cause all Jews to reject Yeshua as the Messiah because he was said to be God in the flesh.

My personal opinion about the Trinity is that it was created by a man, probably Tertullian, for two reasons:

  1. To make Yeshua more appealing to the masses, who were used to believing in multiple gods and demigods; and
  2. To further separate this new religion called Christianity from its Jewish roots by making it less appealing to Jews, who would never, and never will, accept that God-Adonai- is anything other than the one and only, unique, separate, omniscient, and omnipotent spirit that he is.

If we backtrack to why I said this whole issue of Trinity vs. Unity is irrelevant with regards to salvation, there is one aspect which makes it VERY relevant: if someone prays to and worships Yeshua instead of God, asking Yeshua for forgiveness and thanking Yeshua for blessings, by replacing God with Yeshua they have committed a terrible sin- it is idolatry, and I doubt it will go over well with either God or Yeshua.

Bad enough when you go into many churches (especially the RC’s) and see people bowing down and praying to graven images, well… how can that possibly be explained in light of the 2nd Commandment, which even the staunchest Christian admits is still something they have to follow?

The worst part of this argument about Trinity vs. Unity is that its sole use is not to edify anyone or to bring anyone closer to the proper worship of God or help anyone become more righteous. No! The only thing this age-old argument does is to serve the Enemy of God by creating a wedge between people within the body of Believers. It doesn’t bring us closer to God or closer to each other, but quite the opposite: it is a religious civil war, causing disunity and confusion, and giving the Devil a strong handhold in separating us from God.

So, nu! Believe what you want- it is, as it always has been and always will be, your choice to believe what you want to. But remember this: God doesn’t care why you believe what you do, or why you do what you do, but he does care about what you believe and what you do.

In other words, when you come before God (which we will all have to do) and you tell him that you believed what they told you to believe and so did what they told you to do, I believe that God will say something to the effect of:

“I understand you only did what they told you to do, but it is what I say that counts.”

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know, even if they aren’t believers- maybe it will get them thinking? Also, if you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my website (messianicmoment.com) and on my YouTube channel, as well. I invite you to join my Facebook discussion group called “Just God’s Word”, but please ensure you agree to the rules to be let in.

One other thing: did you know I have written 4 books? There is a link to them on my website or go to the Amazon Book Store; they are available in both paperback and Kindle formats.

And remember that I always welcome your comments.

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

Just What is Salvation?

Of course, we all know that when we accept Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah and ask forgiveness of our sins by means of the sacrifice he performed for us, we have found “salvation in Christ”, or another way to put it is that we are “saved”.

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The Internet dictionary defines salvation as “preservation or deliverance from harm, ruin, or loss…”, which doesn’t sound like something that we are, but something we end up being.

I often hear people save they are saved, and I wonder if they really know what they are saved from, or if they realize they aren’t really saved…at least, not yet.

Salvation and being saved result in the same condition, but that is not something that we are, it is where we end up.

For instance, let’s say that you are in the desert, and dying of thirst. In the distance, you see an oasis, and you say to yourself, “I am saved!”

But then you die before you can get to the oasis, so were you really saved?

No, of course not- BUT you had the potential to be saved.

Think of a battery- in its normal, unconnected state it doesn’t have any electrical power, but when you connect the terminals, that is when the electricity is created. By itself, the battery has no electricity, but what it does have is called electrical potential.

When we accept Yeshua as our Messiah, and we ask forgiveness by means of his sacrifice, we will be forgiven. At that very moment, we are saved. If we die immediately after asking for forgiveness- assuming our repentance is genuine- we will die in a state of righteousness and be saved. But I am sure, at least I am sure about myself, that the very next time I drive anywhere I will have sinned at least a few times (driving, especially here in Florida, is the ultimate test of a godly use of language- a test I continually fail).

So, what are we saved from? We are saved from the consequence of our sins, which is- simply put- spending eternity out of the presence of God.

Frankly, there are a couple of different versions of what the afterlife is like when you go through the Bible, so I don’t think anyone can say, for certain, what will happen, other than some will be in the presence of the Lord forever, and some won’t.

So, nu? What is my point of all this?

It’s this: Don’t become complacent after you have accepted Yeshua as your Messiah because you are not saved, yet. You are still in the desert, but now you can see that oasis called Salvation, and you know that when you get there you will be saved.

The road to that salvation is difficult, and there are many mirages along the way to cause you to steer away from the real oasis, thinking you are heading for salvation but, in fact, you are heading further away from it.

Those mirages are called “religion”, which has for millennia steered people away from salvation while telling them they are on the right track.

So how do you know which path to walk? God has provided the roadmap and a compass to help you stay on the right path to that oasis; the map is called the Torah and the compass is called the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit.

When you read the map to know which way to go, and then use the compass to make sure you are staying on the proper azimuth (that is the direction you are heading in) that the map tells you to go, you will be utilizing your salvation potential to its fullest, and you will be saved in the end.

There is no such thing as OSAS (once saved, always saved)- that is a religious detour that leads to the wrong place if for no other reason, it will eventually lead to unrepentance. How? Well, when you think you are automatically forgiven, why bother to confess it or ask for forgiveness- you already have it, right? Therefore, OSAS leads, ultimately, to unrepentant sinning, and God will NOT allow an unrepentant sinner into his presence. Guaranteed!

God has given us the way he wants us to walk (Torah) and the compass to guide us (Ruach) so that as we strive towards salvation, we will not lose our way.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages with everyone you know. Subscribe to my website and YouTube channel and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word” (please make sure you agree to the rules so that I can let you in).

And remember that I always welcome your comments.

By the way, did you know I have written 4 books? You can find them on my website, and they are available in paperback and Kindle formats.

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

To Torah, or Not to Torah.

So many people have no idea what the Torah really is. They think it is just a bunch of laws, and to some degree that is accurate, but those laws define more than just ceremonies or rituals- they define a total way of life.

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Recently, I was in a discussion with someone who was trying to convince me that the 10 Commandments are for everyone, but the Mosaic laws (I really think she thought they were Moses’ laws and not God’s) were only for Jews. I told her that the Big Ten were really just a condensed version of the Torah, but not all the laws God wants us to obey. I gave her examples of some Torah commandments not mentioned, at all, in the Big Ten but apply to God-fearing people, such as the Torah rules against sexual perversity within a family, homosexuality, and other penal code violations. I asked if she thought those activities are acceptable for Christians to do?

Can a Christian son sleep with his Christian Mother-in-law? Can a Christian father sleep with his Christian daughter-in-law? Can Christians be absolved from punishment if they commit acts of violence against each other (what are legally defined as torts)?

I don’t think so, do you?

These are covered in the Torah, but not mentioned at all in the Big Ten.

Here is the real scoop about the Torah- it was given by God to the Jewish people, but not JUST for the Jewish people. In Exodus 19:6, God tells Moses that the Israelites- the descendants of Abraham- will be his (God’s) nation of priests.

Now, what do priests do? Well, they do more than just run the services. Their job, overall, is to act as intermediary between the people and God, teaching the people how they are to live in accordance with the way God says we should.

God chose the descendants of Abraham to be his nation of priests; now, priests don’t serve other priests, so it is pretty obvious that the ones we Jews are to be priests to have to be the rest of the world.

Do you remember that Shaul said God made salvation available to all: to the Jew first, then to the Gentile? (Romans 1:16)

The Torah is God’s instructions on how to live a righteous life, and a righteous life leads to salvation. These instructions were given to his chosen people, chosen (I really should say “commissioned”) to be God’s Cohanim (priests) to the world, first to learn for themselves, and then to teach to the rest of humanity.

Yeah, that means Christians, too!

Now let’s talk about Yeshua and the Torah.

Yeshua was God’s anointed Messiah, and he lived a sinless life, which is why he was resurrected. According to God, the only way to be sinless was to be in 100% accordance with the Torah, so we can know, absolutely, that Yeshua lived a Torah observant life.

Christianity has stated that because Yeshua lived the Torah perfectly, anyone following him is not required to observe the Torah- in essence, Christianity says by doing something correctly, that makes it obsolete.

Does that really make any sense?

If I come to a stop sign while driving, and the person ahead of me stops completely, looks both ways twice, then slowly continues on their way, having completed the law for stop signs, can I now just go right through the intersection every time I come to a stop sign?

If someone stops at a red light and doesn’t go again until the light turns green, does that mean I can just continue driving through every red light I ever see, for the rest of my life?

You may say traffic laws aren’t like the Torah, but are they really that different? Aren’t the traffic laws created to protect us from being hurt?

Don’t the rules God gave in the Torah protect us? I am not talking about protection from being T-boned in an intersection, but protection from spending eternity in hell!

No one, no human, that is, can live 100% in accordance with the Torah, 100% of the time. That is why God created the sacrificial system: he knew we couldn’t do it right, so he gave us an escape clause to protect us from ourselves. But, when the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, that put an end (at least, until the next temple) to the sacrificial system, so now what? God’s escape clause from eternal damnation has been erased!

But wait! God sent Yeshua, the Messiah, so that through our belief in him as the Messiah, and by means of his sacrificial death, we could now find forgiveness from sin without the temple. And beyond that, Christianity tells us that Yeshua did more than make forgiveness available- he did away with the Torah!

Um… uh… hold it a minute. Shaul tells us that the Torah created sin (Romans 7:7), and Christianity says that Yeshua did away with the Torah, so doesn’t that mean there is no more sin? And if there is no more sin, then why do we need to follow any rules, ceremonies, or rituals? If there is no Torah, then there is no sin, and everyone is automatically saved without having to do anything! Hallelujah!!

What? You mean that’s not right? Are you telling me that when Yeshua did away with the Torah, which should mean there is no more sin, there is still sin? Shaul lied? God tricked us? Yeshua didn’t do away with sin?

But, but, but… if sin still exists, then the Torah is still valid, so how can Christians say the Torah is not valid for them? Are Christians automatically righteous in God’s eyes?

I don’t really need to answer that, do I?

Christians say that they don’t follow the Torah, they follow Yeshua, but Yeshua lived in accordance with the Torah and Christians don’t, so how can they say they follow him?

Here’s what it all boils down to, folks- if you REALLY want to follow Yeshua, then you need to live in accordance with the Torah, to the best of your abilities. And when you fail, as we all do, you still have Yeshua to fall back on to receive forgiveness.

On the other hand, if you choose to live according to one of the many Christian religions, all of which are composed of man-made rules, tenets, and ceremonies and (for the most part) reject God’s Torah, then I think you will have a hard time convincing God that you want to be righteous in his eyes.

Thank you for being here and please share these messages, subscribe to this ministry on my messianicmoment.com website, and also on my YouTube channel, “Like” my Messianic Moment Facebook page, and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word” (but please ensure you agree to the rules to be let in).

And remember that I always welcome your comments.

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

No One Listened

No one listened to what? Who was supposed to listen to what, and when?

Well, let’s get one thing straight right now- there is a difference between hearing and listening.

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Hearing is nothing more than physically recognizing a sound, maybe even recognizing the words, but not necessarily acting on them.

But when you listen to someone, that means not only do you recognize they are speaking, but you are paying attention, you are taking in what they say and, if what they say is edifying and helpful, you then act upon it.

To answer the question, the early leaders of the movement that accepted Yeshua as the Messiah made up of Gentiles are the people I am talking about, and what they heard was a warning from Shaul (Paul) in many of his letters, about not being drawn away from proper worship and the truth of the Messiah that Shaul had taught them by false prophets, false messiahs, and false teachings.

In fact, going through my Concordance to see how many times Shaul warned of falling prey to false teachings and prophets, there are no less than 11 times I found he warned against this.

And not warned against false teachings from outside the believing community, but also from within the congregations, themselves!

You may be thinking, “What false teachings are you talking about, Steve?”

To answer that lets first observe how those early Jewish followers of Yeshua lived and worshiped.

That is an easy thing- just think of any Jewish person you know, and that is pretty close to how the First Century Jews lived and worshiped, as well, except for the addition of modern conveniences. The early followers of Yeshua lived as he did- as Torah observant worshipers of God, recognizing that Yeshua was a human being with divine powers given to him through the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) because he was the Messiah.

The false teachings came much later and were not from any of the Jewish leaders because they had all died or been martyred, but from Gentile believers who were now leading this Jewish sect away from Judaism, for both political reasons (to avoid persecution from the Romans) and- this is my opinion- for personal reasons.

The personal reasons (again, this is what I believe) were simply that to become totally observant to the Torah, even though Shaul was taking them there a little at a time, was too much for them. The sacrifices they had to make, the changes from their previous way of life, and the pressures from outside sources (think of the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13) was more than they could take.

They didn’t want to stop believing in Yeshua, but they also didn’t want to be associated with the Jews who were being persecuted by Rome because at that time they were rebelling against the Roman rule of Judea.

So, they decided to change some things around, such as the Shabbat now was on Sunday, the leadership of this movement (now called Christianity) rejected the Moedim (Holy Days) God told us to celebrate (Leviticus 23), and actually came against the Jews by siding with Rome during the Bar Kochba rebellion in the mid-2nd Century. When the Jews were not allowed (by Rome) to live in the Holy City, the Bishop of Jerusalem was a Christian!

Once the Jewish rebellion was put down, and the temple was destroyed, Rome turned against the Christians who were doing something, in Rome’s eyes, just as bad as revolting- they were creating a new religion. By the time Constantine legalized Christianity (not that he ever really converted, himself), Christianity was now totally separated from its Jewish roots.

Hence, the false teachings that Shaul warned would take his congregations of Yeshua-following Gentiles away from proper worship, were ignored.

What was originally a sect within Judaism had mutated to a totally different religion, following nothing but man-made tenets, observing man-made holidays, praying to graven images and statues, deifying the Messiah, and rejecting almost every commandment of the father!

As far as living the way Yeshua lived? Not even close! It is a sad thing that so many Christians have been taught they should follow in the footsteps of their savior, yet their religion teaches them to ignore exactly what they should be doing- living a Torah observant life as Yeshua did.

They even stopped calling him Yeshua ha Mashiach (Yeshua, the Messiah); he was now Jesus Christ, their savior, another way to separate themselves from anything “Jewish” about him, and later to declare that Jesus is also God.

So, there you have it. They had been warned and warned, and warned, again, not to listen to false teachings or false prophets. Did they? Nah! That is why there are so many Christian denominations, nearly all of which profess to worship God and live as Yeshua did, but in truth, don’t even come close.

I pray that someday their ears will be opened, their hearts will be touched, and they will do t’shuvah, turning from their man-made drek and worshiping God the way Yeshua (and Shaul, and James, and all the other Apostles) taught them how they should.

Thank you for being here and please subscribe to both this website ministry and my Facebook page, also to my YouTube channel, and join my Facebook group called “Just God’s Word” (but please make sure you agree to the rules, or I cannot let you in).

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

The Pauline Epistles: What They Really Are- Conclusion

Now that we have taken a fresh approach to reading the letters Shaul wrote to the congregations he had created, we need to remember that the New Covenant was formulated from many letters and gospels, as well as Codex’s and other materials, by a group of Gentiles who had already been worshiping as far from how Yeshua worshipped as one can get.

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According to Wikipedia, the new Covenant was compiled by approximately 40 different people, sometime around 90-95 AD; other historical documents I have seen state that by that time, even the celebration of the Shabbat was changed from the 7th day of the week (the way Yeshua celebrated it) to the first day of the week (Sunday).

The Epistles have been so misused and misunderstood by men who were not Jewish and already had an agenda to separate the believers of Yeshua from the Jewish roots of the movement that I am not at all surprised that nearly every Christian denomination bases almost everything it does on these letters, almost totally ignoring the Torah.

And remember that these are letters were NOT received in a divine vision and were NOT dictated by God but written by a man to counteract the damaging influences from both without and within those congregations; congregations of Gentile believers who were failing to maintain their faith.

Shaul received his vision from Yeshua on the road to Damascus, sometime around 36 CE, and almost every Bible you read will say this is when he converted to Christianity. The truth is he never converted to anything: what happened was not a conversion, as evidenced by the fact that Shaul continued to worship as a Jew, continued to enter and preach in the synagogue everywhere he went, and even took vows in accordance with the Torah (1 Corinthians 11:1).

A more accurate statement of the event is not that it was a conversion to a different religion, but a revelation of the truth of his existing religion, that truth being Yeshua is the Messiah mentioned throughout the Tanakh to be sent by God.

The first letter we have from Shaul is to the Thessalonians, which was written about 12 years after Shaul’s revelation of Yeshua. The rest of the letters included in the New Covenant range from 50 CE through 66 CE.

In all of these letters we see the same challenges to these neophyte Gentile believers: believing Jews forcing them to get circumcised in order to be saved (legalism), outside influences weakening their faith (arguments about genealogies and Gnosticism), false teachings from outside and even inside the believing community (2 Timothy 2:16), and misplaced loyalties and the formation of cliques within the congregation that was tearing it apart (1 Corinthians 3).

Although it wasn’t mentioned specifically, I think we can also assume there were challenges forced on these believers by non-believing friends, family, and neighbors who were persecuting them for their change in lifestyle, which smelled like death to those non-believers (2 Corinthians 2:15).

I once read a book that identified a conundrum in marriages that were having relationship problems: the conundrum was that if one member of the couple tried to improve the relationship, the other member went out of their way to reestablish the previous, hurtful relationship. Why? Because it had become comfortable.

Now, here we have a Gentile believer in Yeshua who is being told to give up all the hedonistic, drunken, and sexually perverse things he (or she) does in order to live a righteous life with the promise of resurrection. That’s a pretty hard sell, and hard for a person to do, even with support from families and friends, so imagine how much harder it must have been for the Gentiles who chose to live that way back then! It’s no wonder Shaul had to keep on top of them to maintain their faith.

Shaul spent those first 12 years after his revelation of Yeshua traveling all over Asia and the Middle East. Shaul’s missionary work was very successful, but something happened after the Jewish leaders of this new sect within Judaism had all died: the message in Shaul’s letters became polluted by many of the Gentile believers who were now leading this movement, leading it further and further away from what Shaul told them, from what Yeshua taught, and from how God said we all should live.

They did what Shaul had constantly warned against- they listened to the false teachings.

Besides that, there was the political issue of the Romans persecuting the Jews (who were rebelling against Roman rule), so as these people- who had been protected while worshipping the Roman religion- became more “Jewish” in their lifestyle and worship, they became afraid of being associated with the Jews and falling under Roman persecution.

Of course, that backfired on them: after the Romans put the Jewish rebellion down for good in the 2nd Century, they turned their attention to the (now called) Christians because the one thing Rome hated as much as rebellion was creating a religion other than the official Roman one.

This is a little off topic, but I think it is important to note. Shaul never stopped preaching Yeshua is the Messiah to Jews. Some say he stopped talking to Jews when he said, in Acts 13:44, that he would now go only to the Gentiles, but that is wrong. He was in Antioch when he said this, and he said it to the Jews there who were ridiculing him and Barnabus. What he meant was that he would now go to the Gentiles there in Antioch. He never meant that he would only talk to Gentiles from then on. He always went to the synagogues first, in every town he traveled to; this is confirmed no less than 9 times throughout the Book of Acts.

The letters Shaul wrote were not intended to change the way these believing Gentiles worshipped and lived because they had already accepted God as the only God and Yeshua as his Messiah. Rather, they were written to keep the people on track learning how they should live in accordance with the Torah. Not legalistically, as the believing Jews were telling them they had to, but the way Shaul wanted them to do it- slowly, motivated by faithful belief and not legalistic observance. Shaul didn’t require the Gentile believers to convert completely to a Torah observant lifestyle overnight, but rather to learn as they could, sort of taking it one-step-at-a-time.

The letters Shaul wrote did not give new commandments from God or change how God said people should live and worship. No. They were written in order to offset the detrimental influences that were turning these new believers from faithfully following the way Shaul told them to live and worship.

Shaul did a wonderful work for God, bringing salvation through Messiah Yeshua to both Jews and Gentiles. What happened, as we can see from these letters, is that the people who were walking the path to salvation through faithful obedience to God’s word got detoured away from proper worship by human intervention.

Shaul did what he could, from a distance, to combat this redirection of worship. However, looking at the Christian world, with all the different denominations, the many ways the Torah is ignored, and the replacement of God’s Holy Days with so many man-made celebrations and ceremonies, well… I am sorry to say that Shaul’s best attempts failed to overcome human intervention which led to a complete reversal of what his letters were designed to do.

Shaul could see that the congregations he created were being choked by the weeds growing all around them, just as the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13) warned against.

This concludes my teaching series on the Pauline Epistles, and I pray that I have succeeded in showing you that these letters are not really God-breathed scripture, but simply managerial directives.

I hope that you feel edified and maybe now can see these letters from a different viewpoint. I welcome, as always, any comments you may want to make.

I will be going back to my usual teachings in my next posting, so until then, l’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

The Pauline Epistles: What They Really Are- 2 Corinthians

So here it is, maybe a year or so later, and Shaul is writing to the congregation in Corinth, again. He starts off as he does with all his letters, giving thanks and praise to God, and talking about how wonderful it is to be saved by the Messiah’s sacrifice.

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By the end of the first chapter, Shaul is telling them that he wanted to visit but changed his mind. He states why in a very round-about way, and when you take away the flourishes and buttering-up, the main reason he didn’t visit was because he was disappointed in them and they haven’t come up to meet his requirements of them, so he decided not to go there in order to save himself from more anguish (which he says is because he loves them so much), or to cause them anguish (probably from his having to chew them out).

You will note, when reading his letters, that he is so very Jewish (being Jewish, myself, I can get away saying this) in that he constantly lays a guilt trip on people.

He explains how he has been undergoing many trials, but that through the Messiah he has been renewed. He is clearly trying to show the Corinthians that the problems they are having can be overcome as long as they maintain their faith and proper obedience to God.

It isn’t until he is nearly half-way through this letter that he begins to talk directly to the Corinthians, having spent the full first half of the letter talking about himself.

And when he does talk about them, he starts right in with reminding them not to yoke themselves with unbelievers. This was because they were doing things that were not part of a godly lifestyle and working those sinful activities into their tenets and ceremonies.

(What is sad about this warning from Shaul is that Christianity ended up doing just that- incorporating non-biblical ceremonies and holidays into what is supposed to be a God-worshiping religion.)

Now Shaul changes course and he congratulates the congregation for (apparently) having been so hurt by his first letter that they got their heads back on straight, and from Titus Shaul hears good reports about that congregation having repented.

The remaining chapters are pretty much Shaul defending himself, stating he is bolder when away then in person, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a true apostle. He warns them about false apostles, implying that since he doesn’t ask for money, anyone preaching the Gospel and requiring payment is a false apostle, and since Satan masquerades as an angel of light, the ones who work for him also masquerade as servants of righteousness.

(Could it be that Shaul had a vision of the modern televangelist?)

As he continues to talk about the difficulties he has had, which is his way of justifying that they listen to him, he talks about the thorn in his side that God has placed there to keep him humble. One of the best-known verses from his letters is found here, in 2nd Corinthians 12:9, when Shaul is talking about how he pleaded with God three times to remove the “thorn in my side” (no one knows what that was, exactly, and scholars have thought it anything from emotional issues to physical ailments or handicaps), and God answers him by saying:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

In other words, God can show best his power when he works through someone who is weak. For instance, if I was to fight a professional MMA title holder, it is almost a foregone conclusion that I will get my tuchas in a sling within 1 minute. But, if I conquer the professional, then there has to be some power greater than both of us to make that happen.

After his diatribe about his sufferings and his justification that he is a legitimate messenger of the Messiah, he finishes with a stern warning, saying he is concerned that when he visit, he will find some have still not repented, still indulging in “quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder.” (2 Corinthians 12:20)

He tells them, in no uncertain way, that he will deal very harshly with that if he finds it when he comes. He says he is being harsh now so that he won’t have to be that way when he arrives.

This letter ends, as all do, with greetings and a prayer for the people there.

As I have been saying, this letter is clearly not anything like the writings of the Prophets or containing any God-dictated commandments on how to worship, as we see in the Torah. No, these are just Shaul’s managerial directives for how the congregation he is writing to should get back on track.

These two letters to the Corinthians, as with all of Shaul’s letters, will reference scripture but they are not scripture. When we read this as if we haven’t already been told what it is supposed to mean, we can see that it is nothing more than a letter written by a man to a congregation of people who are not doing as they should. Truthfully? It’s more like an employee evaluation than God-breathed divine instruction.

The next letter is to the Galatians, and if you think he was being rough on the Corinthians, wait until you hear what he calls the Galatians!

So, nu? I hope I will see you then; in the meantime, l’hitraot and Baruch Hashem!

The Pauline Epistles: What They Really Are- Romans (Part 1)

As the title indicates, this was written to the Gentile (and some Jewish) believers in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) who lived in Rome. It was written by Shaul (Paul) in 57 CE and meant to be a letter of introduction for him before he arrived there. This letter is one of the longest and most confusing of all the other letters he wrote, so I will break this down into two parts.

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In this letter Shaul talks about the Torah, and over time this letter has been used as a polemic against following the laws in the Torah, while the truth is that it is actually an apologetic to explain that even after accepting Yeshua as the Messiah, it is still important to follow the Torah, but that faith is the over-riding necessity for salvation.

Christianity has, over the centuries, misused this letter to justify ignoring the Torah, but Shaul wrote it to identify the difference between obeying the Torah in order to earn salvation (in other words, just to be “correct’) and obeying the Torah as the result of faithful obedience to God’s instructions, which tell us how he wants us to worship him and how he wants us to treat each other.

I put emphasis on the word “he”, meaning (of course) God, because religion tells us how the religion wants us to worship and treat each other, which (more often than not) is not what God has said.

The beginning of this letter has Shaul explaining that he is not ashamed of the gospel (which is translated as “truth”, i.e., truth of God’s salvation) and desires to preach it to both Greeks and non-Greeks (different races of Gentiles, as well as Jews), the wise (believers in God) and the foolish (in those days, a “fool” was one who refused to believe in or accept God). He states that he does this because the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; this truth is to be brought to the Jew first, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).

This is not only the order in which he will present the Good News, but a confirmation of what Yeshua said in the Gospel of Matthew (Matthew 15:24), when he told the woman from Shomron that he came only for the lost sheep of Israel. We read about the first time the salvation of God was made available to the Gentiles, coming from the Jews (through Kefa, also called Peter) to the Gentiles in Acts 10.

As we go deeper into this letter, Shaul relates how God’s punishment against the sinful is not only justified, but a righteous judgment. He states that God is evidenced throughout the world, and those who refuse to accept his existence and his laws are deserving of the punishment they will receive.

Near the end of Chapter Two, he begins to talk about when Jews who brag about following the law break it, they actually blaspheme God’s name among the Gentiles. What he means is this: when those who profess to worship God do not obey him, they are setting a bad example to non-believers, and essentially making it harder, if not impossible, for them to want to accept God and his Messiah. This theme of hypocrisy will be evident in many of the letters he writes with regard to the interpersonal relationship issues within the leadership of various congregations throughout Asia.

One thing that is misunderstood is Romans 2:28-29, which many people have been taught means circumcision is wrong for Gentiles. What Shaul says is that being physically circumcised doesn’t make one a Jew, but when our heart is circumcised by the Spirit (in Hebrew, Ruach haKodesh– Holy Spirit) then we are a Jew, inwardly. He is not saying circumcision is wrong (as we will also see in Galatians), but that physical circumcision is not enough- we must also be circumcised by the Spirit in our hearts to be a “total” Jew.

What he is saying, if you ask me, if that when we are circumcised in both the flesh and the heart, that is when we can say we are a total Jew.

The issue of circumcision to be accepted as a member of the family of God is a constant problem which he runs into throughout the congregations where Jews are together with believing Gentiles.

This passage also has been misinterpreted to indicate no one accepting Yeshua has to do any of that “Jewish” stuff; but Shaul denies that, saying being a Jew is very important because they have been entrusted with the very words of God (that would be the Torah- there is no other place, anywhere in the entire Bible, where God, himself, tells us what to do). He then starts his Jewish logic argument about how people may say if we are unrighteous, and God’s judgment on us is righteous, then doesn’t our unrighteousness bring out more of God’s righteousness, implying it is good to sin.

His reply is, of course, it is never good to sin. He reminds us (quoting from the Psalms) that no one is ever going to be righteous by trying to obey the Torah perfectly: it is only through faith in Yeshua being the Messiah God sent that will we be able to overcome our sinfulness.

Understand this: no one can overcome their sinfulness because no one, as we are told throughout the Bible, is able to live a sinless life. The way we overcome sinfulness through Yeshua is that his death as a universal sacrifice for sin, replacing the need to bring an animal to the temple in Jerusalem, makes it possible for us to be forgiven of our sins. Especially since the temple was destroyed and that left no place to bring a sacrifice. Our sins can be forgiven through Yeshua, but not automatically, and not without repentance, and not without asking for it.

Shaul makes the argument that because Abraham was not circumcised when he was credited as righteous by his faith, then faith comes before obedience to the law. But he also points out that does not mean the law is done away with.

Later on, after going through a somewhat confusing diatribe about grace, faith, and the law, in Romans 6:15, having told us that grace can always be greater than sin, he asks if we can then go ahead and continue to sin because we are not under the law but under Grace? His answer?

By no means!

He explains that we were slaves to sin, but with Messiah we are slaves to righteousness, and that a slave must obey his master (remember how Yeshua said no one can serve two masters? Matthew 6:24). So, now that we are slaves to righteousness, and sons of God, he says we must be obedient to what is righteous.

His point is that as believers in Messiah, even though we are sons of God through faith more than circumcision, as slaves to righteousness we must do that which is righteous.

(So, nu? Let me ask you: where you find the things to do that are righteous?
You got it- in the Torah!)

In Chapter 10, Shaul begins to make an argument for legalism verse faith. My way of stating the difference between legalistic obedience and faithful obedience is that the former is a performance-based salvation, while the latter is a faith-based salvation, but not faith alone- it is faith demonstrated through obedience! (James 2:17)

When discussing Israel’s rejection of Yeshua, he shows that God will not forever abandon his people because of it (Deut. 33:21; Isaiah 65:1-2), and how the prophets have indicated that those who were once not God’s people (i.e., the ones rejecting Yeshua) will be called sons of God. In other words, Shaul is talking about the remnant of Israel (Jews) who have, and in the future will, accept Yeshua.

Next lesson we will start with Chapter 11, which is one of the most ignored chapters, if you ask me, by traditional Christian teachings.

Until then, l’hitraot and Baruch haShem!