Here I am, sitting at home, writing in my blog and wondering how much longer I will be able to go before the caffeine (actually, lack of caffeine) headache starts to hit. Last night began Yom Kippur, and we had a Kol Nidre (Hebrew for “All oaths”) service. Despite technical issues, it went well. Normally there would be prayer services all day, which makes the time go by faster, but not this year. Maybe, if we grow more and get enough people who want to celebrate this day in prayer, we can hold the evening and all day services, as well.
I was talking with someone last night who was drinking something from a cup as we talked, and this person has been a Believer and Hebraic Roots Christian (the other side of the Messianic Jew coin) for a long time. Yet, here he is, drinking in front of me knowing that I am fasting.
He was telling me of plans for a break-fast together at the house of one of the people who has a home fellowship meeting every Wednesday, and they usually bring food and eat at around 1830 or so. Of course, Donna and I were invited but we have our own traditional break-fast that we have done for nearly 20 years and have no desire at all to stop doing: it’s called the Outback Steak House!
Anyway, back to the story: so, I tell him that it would be too early to eat since the sunset isn’t until around 1930, and you wanna know what he accused me of being? He accused me of being “legalistic”! He has no idea what an insult that is, and no idea of what he was talking about, either. Legalism, as Shaul (Paul) used it in the letter to the Galatians, means to follow the Torah only as a means to attain salvation; in other words, we do what God says so we can be saved. I don’t do what God says to be saved- I do it because God said to do it. God didn’t say to do it half-way, or in whichever way is easiest for us, or whichever way we want to. God said this is what you are to do, and this is how you are to do it. Period.
I am not really mad at this person for the sin he accused me of. He needs to re-read the word of God, and include those sentences that come after what he wants to believe. Such as when, in Acts 15, the Elders told the newly-converting Gentiles that they are expected to do 4 things. That was not the end or entirety of their expectations. The letter sent to the Gentiles who were converting to Judaism- if you followed Yeshua that is what you were doing- said that they need to immediately stop eating blood, stop eating anything strangled, stop eating anything devoted to an idol, and to stop fornicating. But that wasn’t the end of it-there was more. Most Christians like to think (or have been taught) it stopped there, and that all the other commandments in the Torah were left up to the individual Gentile to take it or leave it. Not true.
As Paul Harvey would have said, “And now for the rest of the story…”. These four commandments, so to speak, were to be immediately adhered to by new converts, but all the rest of the Torah was not thrown out- the next sentence says that these new converts will be hearing the laws of Moses in the synagogue every Shabbat. Why did they say that, if the Mosaic law (Torah) wasn’t important? They said that because the point is that these 4 restrictions are just the start, not the end, of the process these new Believers would be going through. These 4 restrictions are what the Elders felt could be reasonably expected from Gentiles who have spent their entire lifetime without any restrictions. To throw the full weight of the Torah on them, all at once, would be too much to expect of anyone. Even the Jews, who were expected to fulfill every command of Torah and who had been raised from infancy with those restrictions, even they still couldn’t obey them completely! To throw them all, all at once, on the Gentiles was unreasonable, and would only result in creating a stumbling block in their path to salvation.
That’s why I say we all need to read the next sentence. The Elders clearly expected that these converts would now be leading a Jewish lifestyle, and going to Synagogue every Shabbat where they would hear the words of God and learn the Torah. And, as such, it was expected that they would, eventually, be able to take on the fullness of the Torah.
The statement made to me by my brother last night, which was that Jews are expected to honor the entire Torah but Gentiles don’t have to, is ridiculous. It is nearly blasphemous, accusing God of playing favorites, and announcing that what God said is required (of those that follow Him) is not true for all people. Basically, he called God a liar.
GOD HAS NO RELIGION! He has Torah. He gave the Torah to the Jewish people, His chosen people, who are chosen to bring the Torah to the world. There cannot be any discussion or argument against that; at least not if you read the bible, either Old or New Covenant, and read all the sentences. And what I mean is that you don’t just read what you want, pull something from here and something from there: the entire bible is valid, from the first line in Genesis to the last sentence in Revelations. And there is nothing in the New Covenant that is new- and there is nothing anywhere that says some have to do what God says and others don’t- and there is nothing Yeshua (Jesus) said that goes against Torah- and there is nothing Shaul (Paul) said that goes against Torah. There is nothing, anywhere, in the entire bible that says all laws are for Jews and only some are for Christians.
God is very clear that anyone who sojourns with His people, meaning anyone who wants to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and call themself one of God’s chosen, has the same rights and privileges as a natural-born Jew. That goes both ways- if you have the same rights and privileges, you are also subject to the same laws and commandments. You can’t have your Kugel and eat it, too. If you believe in God, if you profess that you are saved because you have accepted Yeshua/Jesus as your Messiah and Savior, then you MUST honor His word and worship Him as He said to.
And how we do that is in the Torah.
When Yeshua died for our sins, it did not release us from obeying God’s word. I am spending today, this very moment, fasting and praying for forgiveness NOT because Yeshua’s sacrifice doesn’t cover me, but because I am still a sinner, and because God commanded that this day, the tenth day of Tishri, is a day to be devoted to asking for forgiveness. The fact that Yeshua has covered my sins doesn’t mean I don’t ever have to ask to be forgiven anymore.
Think about it: if you don’t ask for forgiveness of a sin, that means you don’t really feel any remorse, and if you feel no remorse, then you can’t be repentant. Yeshua’s sacrificial death will not save a sinner who is unrepentant.
I fast this day because God said to, and that means the entire day, sunset to sunset, as God decreed it should be done. That’s not legalism, my friends, that is called worship! That is called devotion! That is called demonstrating my love for God by being obedient!
My friends, my brothers and sisters out there somewhere, reading this now- I pray that the truth of God’s complete plan of salvation is fully revealed to you. I pray that the forgiveness provided by Yeshua’s sacrifice, which is the ultimate demonstration of God’s willingness and desire to forgive you when you do T’shuvah (repentance), is not diluted and perverted into some form of license to ignore Torah.
Thanks to Yeshua, I will not go to hell if I eat ham, and with or without Yeshua, I will not go to heaven just because I don’t eat ham. However, if I chose to obey the laws of Kashrut in Leviticus 11, I will demonstrate my desire to please God, to obey Him, and I will earn blessings for obedience.
Obedience brings blessings- it is the promise of God (Deuteronomy 28)-do you have so many blessings that you don’t want any more?
Do you feel that you don’t need to ask for forgiveness? Have you lead a totally sinless life since you accepted Yeshua? Do you think that just because Yeshua died for your sins you don’t have to stop sinning? What is a sin? Isn’t it disobeying God? If God said, “This is what you are to do”, and you refuse to do it, for whatever reason, isn’t that a sin?
If you think that because you are a Gentile you don’t have to follow the Torah, you are wrong. Sorry, don’t mean to burst your “Buffet Believer Bubble” that you can obey what you want and ignore the rest. But, the truth is that everyone, whether or not they accept God or Yeshua, E–V–E–R–Y–O–N–E is required by God to do what He says to do. That is the truth. If you doubt me or disagree with me, that’s your right- God gave us all free will to decide for ourselves. It is not just your right, it is your choice, your decision, and whether or not you make it because of what you believe the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) has told you, or what your religious leader has told you, or just simply what you would rather believe because you want to- it is your choice.
And when you come before the Lord, God, Almighty- and we all will come before Him – you will be held accountable for whatever choice you have made.
That is why I pray you make the right choice: the choice that is right in God’s eyes.
May God bless you all with peace, joy, wisdom and discernment.
And may you have an easy fast.