Jesus Proves Salvation Comes From Torah

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I know what you’re thinking…”Huh?!? We all know that salvation is from Messiah Yeshua and that we can’t be saved by Torah”

Or maybe you’re thinking that the “cross” is our salvation?

Or maybe you are thinking that salvation is through faith and not through works?

Or maybe you are thinking that Jesus did all we need when He died for us?

If you are thinking any of these, well…you’re right. We are saved by Messiah’s sacrifice, which was proven acceptable to God because He was resurrected.

And you’re right that faith and not works (alone) is the way we are saved, BUT we still need to be obedient. God told us in the Torah how we are to worship Him and treat each other, and we aren’t excused from obedience just because we accepted Yeshua as our Messiah.

So, nu? How does Jesus prove that we can be saved by Torah?

Simple- He was saved by Torah! 

Let’s take this one step at a time:

  1. All mankind is born into the original sin of Adam and Eve.
    1. In Judaism we also believe this: Talmud tells us we are all born with the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination.) When we are at the age we are able to study Talmud and Torah, we develop the Yetzer Tov (Good Inclination.)
  2. Mankind was given the Torah by God, through the Jewish people, so that they could act in accordance with God’s will, thus securing eternal life. To obey Torah is to remain sinless, and to do what is forbidden in Torah is to sin- that has never changed.
    1. God tells us throughout the Tanakh, especially by the Prophets, that He wants us to repent and turn from sin so that we can live. God isn’t all that interested with the finite, so when He says “live” He is talking about eternity.
  3. Yeshua was born of a virgin who was impregnated by the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit), so He was born sinless (not having the stain of original sin.)
  4. Because He was sinless when He died, Yeshua was resurrected by God to show that God’s promise of eternity with Him by obeying the Torah was true.
  5. Yeshua’s resurrection can mean only one thing: Yeshua received salvation because He lived His life completely obedient to the Torah.

It is only through Yeshua, because of His righteous life and acceptable sacrifice, that we also can achieve salvation. We cannot be saved by Torah ONLY BECAUSE WE CANNOT OBEY THE TORAH PERFECTLY. 

So you see, because Yeshua obeyed Torah perfectly He was resurrected to eternal life, which we call “salvation.” If He hadn’t obeyed Torah, if He had sinned, then His life would not have been acceptable as a sacrifice for us, just as a lamb with a blemish would not be an acceptable sacrifice. And if you are thinking, “Yeshua is the son of God- He would always have been able to return to God.”, then why bother living a sinless life?  In other words, if Yeshua did not give up His divinity and submit Himself to death (which the bible says He did), then He didn’t risk sinning. But Isaiah tells us (Chapter 53) that Messiah is a man of troubles, who knew illness and suffering- God is above all that.  You see, Yeshua had to be 100% human, with all the human weaknesses and frailties in order to prove that Torah was trustworthy.

In order to be a real sacrifice, He had to be able to die without a guarantee of resurrection.

The mission of the Messiah is to bring God’s people back into communion with God. To do that, because of our iniquity (desire to sin) we all need someone to bridge the gap between us and God. That is what Yeshua did, and He did it by showing us that the Torah is the roadmap to salvation. By living a Torah-perfect life, He was “saved”, and through His salvation we can all come into God’s kingdom.

So, nu?  Does that mean I can be saved by Torah alone? Yes, if you could live it perfectly, but since no one can… NO, it doesn’t mean you can be saved by Torah alone.

Does that mean I don’t need to obey Torah at all?  NO, it doesn’t- we all need to be obedient to the Torah because it is God’s commandment that we must, and to ignore or reject Torah is an unrepentant sin. Unrepentance is a wedge between us and God that even belief in Yeshua will not remove. No one who is unrepentant of their sin can be saved.

So then what is my point? It is this: Torah is still valid, it is still part of God’s plan of salvation, and it is what Yeshua taught us we should obey. We can’t do it as He did, but through His accepted sacrifice (which was because He lived Torah perfectly) we can still be saved even when we fail to obey Torah perfectly.

And through the indwelling of the Ruach haKodesh, we can be strengthened to overcome our iniquity and comforted when we fail to.

As I often say: we can never be sinless, but we can always sin less. Yeshua has saved the world from it’s iniquity, but we still have to have faith in Him and God, do T’shuvah (repent) and live as sinless a life as we can.

The instruction manual for living a sinless life is called the Torah.






Do you recognize the title as the Campbell Soup campaign slogan? One of the reasons their soup is so good is because it is filled with so many good things.

So, nu? Why am I talking about soup? Allow me to digress for a moment…..last week when my wife, Donna, and I were taking a morning stroll, I was talking about how I love it when something I have read in the bible dozens of times before suddenly has a totally new meaning to me: a new and clearer understanding of what God wants me to know. I know that you have had that same experience, too…haven’t you?

The word of God has different levels, called the Pardes: the P’shat (literal meaning), Remez (symbolic meaning), Drash (spiritual or comparative meaning) and the Sod (deep mystical understanding.)  When we read any passage from the bible, we first understand the P’shat, and after we learn more about God and have the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) lead our understanding, we learn the “hidden” messages God has for us.

Yeshua taught the underlying messages, the Remez and the Drash, whereas the Pharisee’s concentrated on the P’shat; they taught the Jews they could be saved by Torah as long as they obeyed the literal meaning of the commandments. We are told that many said Yeshua taught with authority, which (I think) is because He taught the deeper and more spiritual meaning of the Torah that the Pharisees ignored.

OK, now back to the soup…when we look at a bowl of soup, we see mostly just the broth, which covers all the stuff that is underneath. That broth smells good, and tastes great, but when you begin to stir the soup, suddenly all these other wonderful things begin to appear from underneath; the meat, the carrots, the onions, celery and (maybe) even a noodle or two. YUM!!  So even though the broth was satisfying, and could fill your stomach with life-saving nourishment, when you go deeper and begin to stir things up to see what is underneath, you find even more goodness and flavor and usefulness from that soup than just what the broth can supply.

The bible is like a big bowl of soup: it has nourishment on top (P’shat), and better things underneath (Remez and Drash)  you will discover as you get closer and closer to the bottom of the bowl (Sod.)

Maybe that’s why in Psalm 34:9 (JPS Tanakh) King David said:

Taste and see how good the Lord is; happy the man who takes refuge in Him!


Have you had your soup today?

sometimes stuff just happens

You know, we live in a world that has been cursed. Sometimes the ground is like brass, the sky often holds back its rain, and there are terrible weather occurrences, such as snowstorm Stella in the Northeast today.

Last night as I was watching TV and thinking I had some popcorn stuck between my teeth (we’ve all been there, right?) I loosened it up and what came out wasn’t popcorn at all- it was a piece of my molar. Fortunately, the entire center of that tooth is amalgam (filling) so I don’t have any exposed roots or nerves, but still and all, it’s never fun to have a piece of your tooth come off.

So did God punish me? Did I perform some terrible sin that caused this to happen, which may very well interfere with whatever plans I had for today?

I don’t think so- I feel certain that, although God does know everything that happens to me, He has more important things to do than cause me tsouris (Yiddish for “troubles”) this morning.

That’s why I am sharing this event in my life with you today, because I have known people over the years who seem to think that everything that happens, whether for good or for bad, is a direct result of something God did to them. Whenever they have a little trouble in their life, they blame God. If the car breaks down, it’s because they were traveling on Shabbat; if the water heater needs repair, it’s because they sinned against someone; if they get sick and miss some event, it’s because God didn’t want them to go to it.

Now, maybe (just maybe) God did intervene- He does that now and then, but for everything? I don’t see that happening, do you?  Just because God is in control of everything doesn’t mean that He causes everything that happens. Often enough, I am certain (although I cannot speak for God- read Job to find out how God feels about people speaking for Him) that God often allows things to take their own course. He knows what will come from it, and there must be times, just like every parent goes through, when He knows that His children are doing something that will eventually harm them, but as a parent you allow it to run it’s course so that the child learns. It’s called Tough Love, and it is a necessary means to an end, which is that the child learns a valuable lesson so it’s life will be better. Coddling and over-protecting a child will never allow that child to develop self-dependence, or teach it to be responsible for it’s actions.

My plan for today, which was to clean and restore a rotor-tiller motor with a friend who is a good mechanic, may be quashed as I wait for the dentist’s office to return my call for an emergency visit. And who knows what the dentist will say needs to be done. He will most likely want to try to save the tooth or replace it ($$$) while I would rather just have him pull the problem tooth out and be done with it: after all, it’s all the way in the back of my mouth, has no cosmetic value and I have two other molars there to handle the workload.

But no matter what happens, I do not blame God for this, and do not feel that it happened because I was eating too much popcorn. I just can’t believe that God punished me because I was glutenous. As silly as that sounds, I know you have met people (as I have) that would actually believe that is why this happened. God broke my tooth because I went off my diet. Really? Are things that slow in the universe God has to take time to break my tooth as a punishment for eating too much popcorn?

So what’s my point? It’s this: things happen to us and to other people, and more often than not the cause is something we have done to ourselves and not some Divine intervention designed to change our behavior. The question is: how do we know when it is Divine intervention?

I can’t answer that one; I suppose we all just have to look at the event, and the causes of that event, and ask the Ruach HaKodesh (the Holy Spirit) to show us the reason. I would say that most of the time it’s probably your own fault, since humans are so prone to doing the wrong thing, and to evaluate the event in terms of how serious it is. For example, my tooth breaking isn’t exactly a change of life event- it happens all the time, to nearly everyone. Now, if every tooth in my mouth broke, that would be something more along the lines of a miraculous happening, something so unique and devastating that I would realistically have to consider God having a hand in it.

Don’t blame God for everything that happens- He is always there for you, He never abandons or forgets you, but He also has other things to attend to and more often than not will allow you to choose your own path. And He will also allow you to walk that path. If He has a definitive plan for you, something that He wants you to do, He will intervene to move you in that direction, but, in the end, we have free will to decide what we will or will not do. So, listen to the Ruach HaKodesh, pay attention to what you are doing, and always check with yourself to make sure that what you are doing is in keeping with how God told us to live our lives. Even when we are walking the path God told us to walk, we will still have troubles- Yeshua (Jesus) tells us so in His teachings.

It’s not how many trials you have that matter- it’s how you come through them that is important. God is there, He is watching, but He is not causing everything that goes wrong. Things will always go wrong when you follow God because you live in a world that rejects God’s ways, so (naturally) when you worship God as He said to worship Him, you are swimming against the tide.

Here’s what I do: I constantly try to remember that what I do now affects where I get to go later, and I concentrate on overcoming obstacles instead of trying to figure out why they are there. If you can do the same, I guaranty it will help you keep on the right path.

staying clean is more important than getting clean

I think everyone who believes in God can agree that the greatest gift God has given us is salvation through the Messiah. Whether or not you believe Yeshua (Jesus) is that Messiah or not, salvation through Messiah brings us the eternal peace we all crave.

But how many people are so focused on getting saved (cleansed from our sins) that they forget this is the least important stage of salvation? It is, you know, because (as I discussed in this post: Forgiveness is Only for the Past) getting “saved” doesn’t mean you will stay saved.

I have heard too many people, both Christian and Messianic, tell me that “once saved, always saved” because God’s gift is irrevocable. The understanding they have been given is that once you ask for salvation through Messiah, you have it, always. This is a very misleading teaching because some of the parables Yeshua tells us in the Gospels clearly point to the fact that even though we are saved, we can throw it away on our own!  Yes, we can! Salvation is irrevocable, which means simply that God will not renege on His promise; He will not retract the salvation He promised to us and we can count on Him to deliver on His promise. But, even though salvation cannot be purchased or earned, it is not unconditional: you have to ask for it, you have to really do T’shuvah (turn from your sin) and you have to maintain that new attitude for the rest of your life.

Look to the parable about the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30)- the one servant that did nothing with the gift he was given was berated and thrown into the dark. The ones that used the talents to create more talents were honored and welcomed into their Master’s presence. The talents represent the salvation given, and the one that buried it never changed his lifestyle, kept doing what he had always done, so his salvation was unused, meaning he never really changed. What he was given was worthless due to his never using it.

Let’s take a look also at the parable about the fruit tree that bore no fruit (Luke 13:6-9)- there was a tree in the garden that after three years produced no fruit, so the man who owned the garden told the manager of the garden to cut it down. The manager asked for one more year to tend it and if it still didn’t produce it would be thrown out. The tree is the saved person, and being in the garden means that they have received salvation: they have a promised place in God’s presence. However, after being given a spot in the garden they did nothing to produce fruit. I believe the manager of the garden is Messiah Yeshua, who is our Intercessor and works with us to help us become holier. The extra tending is through strengthening of the Ruach Ha Kodesh (Holy Spirit.) Yet, even after interceding, the manager agrees to uproot and throw the tree into the fire if it continually fails to produce fruit.

The promise of salvation we receive when we ask for it is just that- the promise of salvation. It is, as I said before, conditional: though we cannot earn it in any way, we have to change our behavior (to be less sinful) so that we stay as clean as we can be AFTER being forgiven (cleaned.)

This is a hard word to hear for many, and I have had some very mature Believers argue vehemently with me about how salvation cannot be lost.

Let’s look once more in the bible for absolutely undeniable evidence, understandable without interpretation, that salvation can be lost. We find it in the book of Messianic Jews (Hebrews), Chapter 6, verses 4-8:

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. 

I have bold printed the part of this that shows people who are saved can throw away their salvation, and it is not taken out of context. The writer of this book is telling the believing Jews (and converted Gentiles) in the Diaspora that once someone has been saved, if they apostasice by failing to live a life devoted to sinning less and being led by the Ruach, they are like land that is barren, full of thorns and thistles and will be burned in the end. He even goes as far as to say don’t even try to “re-save” them because they have known the goodness of God, yet they still rejected it.

Living your life the same way you did before you accepted Messiah and asked for forgiveness through His sacrifice, is essentially having lied to God. You asked for forgiveness and wanted salvation, but you didn’t want to live for Messiah. Yeshua said to follow Him we have to give up what we are and carry our own execution stake (Matthew 16:24), which clearly means a lifestyle change. And we are talking about a major change, not a little change, although the change can occur a little at a time. We can’t stop sinning “cold turkey”, but every day we can sin a little less than the day before. And that’s the point I am trying to make: if you don’t change what you do, what you say and who you are, you aren’t using the salvation you were given and you will have thrown away that chance for eternity in God’s presence; it will be lost, but not by God, not by someone else, not by the Devil, but by Y-O-U!

So- keep running the good race, keep your eyes on the prize, and know that as long as you are trying to be better, as long as you are using the gift God gave you, and as long as you are trying to sin less, everyday, you are guaranteed a place in God’s presence.

When you accept Messiah Yeshua and ask for forgiveness in His name, you have received the greatest promise anyone could ever want: and when you truly do T’shuvah in your heart, you will produce fruit, you will create more talents, and you will be welcomed into your Master’s joy.

forgiveness is only for the past

Huh? Whaddaya mean, “Forgiveness is only for the past?” Can’t I be forgiven for what I might do tomorrow? Am I s’posed to be perfect from this moment on?

The answer is “Yes” to the first, and “No” to the second.

The real question should be, “Am I forgiven automatically?” The answer to that, from what I read in the Bible, is that we are not automatically forgiven. Forgiveness is something we have to ask for in order to receive. It is available, God is always willing to give it, but it is something we must ask for in order to actually receive.

And more than that, when we ask for it the asking must be genuine- it must be a true T’shuvah (turning from sin) that comes from our heart and soul. We must be more than sorry that we sinned, we must be rueful, regretful, and so upset that we did this to God (for every sin we commit is, first and foremost, against God- read what David said in Psalm 51) that we shouldn’t just ask for forgiveness, but also ask that the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) strengthen and convict us in the future so that we can recognize, and overcome, the sinful desire before it becomes a sin.

Forgiveness, the Kingdom of God, Salvation: they are all here, now, and waiting for us. We are all pre-qualified and able to receive these wonderful gifts from God, the results of Messiah Yeshua’s (Jesus) sacrificial death: all we need to do is ask for them.

Where’s the catch? What do we have to give in order to receive? That’s a worldly view, isn’t it? The world doesn’t give without expecting something back, but God…..wait a minute! God does expect something back from us! After all, He’s made covenants with us. Each covenant (despite what you may have been taught) doesn’t annul the previous covenant, but instead is appended, adding to it, building upon it, so that every covenant God has made with us is still valid. From the rainbow of the Noahdic Covenant to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31): every covenant is still valid in God’s eyes, and we are expected, as with any covenant, to fulfill our side of the deal. What is our side? To fear God, honor His word (Torah), accept Messiah Yeshua as our Savior and do T’shuvah in our hearts, which should then translate to a change in our actions.

Your forgiveness is already accomplished, but you have to ask for it. Every day, every moment, when you know you have sinned and even if you don’t think you have sinned. Don’t believe for a second that just because you think you are blameless that you are- God knew our nature well enough that He even commanded there be a sacrifice for the sins we commit unintentionally (Leviticus 4.)

We all sin, we all will continue to sin, we all are born into sinfulness, we all have iniquity in our very nature, and the only humans who don’t have to worry about sinning are the dead ones. But we can overcome our nature, we can be more than just what we are; thanks be to God (and to Yeshua) for the Grace provided which will save us, and for the Holy Spirit which can guide and help us overcome who and what we are, so that we can be more of who and what God wants us to be.

We are told that if we ask, we shall receive, so, then…ask! Ask for forgiveness often, ask for yourself, ask for others, and ask with reverent thankfulness.

watch carefully, but don’t get too involved

Watch what? Why, the world, of course. We need to keep our eyes open for the signs of the return of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) and also to be observant of the actions of the enemy as he (or maybe, she?) begins to take charge of the world.

Revelations warns us that as the enemy begins to secure his rule that there will be a time of peace for 3 1/2 years before the real fecal matter hits the air circulation unit. We are also warned that many will be turned from the true faith and follow the evil one, the Anti-Christ, because of the many wonderful and miraculous acts that he (yes, or maybe she) will perform.

Therefore, we need to be aware of what is coming and to look for it. I have heard the political talk that the next administration will be friendly to Israel (anyone would be friendlier to Israel than the exiting administration), and whether or not that proves true, we need to remember the warnings about being fooled, and about the time of peace that is a sign of the coming tribulation.

They says it is always darkest before the dawn, but for us, we should know that it will be a bright and sunny day, it will be peaceful and joyous, and in that environment- when we are happy, financially strong and secure- that is when the foolish and unknowing will be lulled into a false sense of acceptance. That is the way the enemy will fool people into taking the mark: he (yeah, yeah…or she) will provide earthly pleasures; there will be an image of peaceful waters (while Leviathan is stalking us just under the surface), there will be good weather (while storm fronts and earthquakes are forming just past the horizon), and the Anti-Christ will use this to justify the claim that he is the Messiah, to fool us into worshiping him and be turned from Yeshua, our true Savior.

The signs will be deceiving; peace and joy and plenty will be the rule, but you must stay alert and be forewarned: the people will be led like lemmings to their death, like sheep not knowing they are on a strip of tasty, green grass that leads them to the slaughterhouse.

So watch what is happening but stay separated from it, both emotionally and physically. Try to remove yourself from discussion because people are, well… they’re stupid, and if you get involved in political discussions you may be led to believe in something other than what we are told (in the bible) to believe. We are, all of us-  myself, you, everyone- capable of being fooled and seduced by the enemy. Only by remaining separated can we avoid becoming embroiled and trapped in controversy; only by remaining outside the circle of politics will we be able to see the maelstrom forming; only by remaining knowledgeable of, and faithful to, the word of God while constantly trusting in and asking the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) for divine insight and understanding will we be able to avoid the trap falls and snares the enemy will be setting all around us.

Look- I am not a “doomsayer” and telling you that the world is coming to an end…Hey! Wait a minute; actually, now that I think about it, I really am saying the world is coming to an end, so let’s stick with that: THE WORLD IS COMING TO AN END!!!

Big deal. We all know the world is coming to an end- even the scientists tell us that eventually, in a few billion years or so, the sun will supernova and the earth will be evaporated. So the news that the earth is coming to an end isn’t anything new.

What we need to be concerned about is not whether or not the earth will be destroyed, but when. And that “when” is coming sooner than the scientists realize.

So, stay aware, be alert, and be watchful. My advice is this: keep your eyes open, but don’t get sucked into the controversy and emotional stir of politics, the environment, or society’s problems because we know they are all going to get worse. Enjoy the peaceful times we will have, and use it to prepare for the Tribulation coming after it. Just as Joseph had Pharaoh prepare during the 7 years of plenty for the 7 years of famine, when we are in the plentiful times of the Anti-Christ’s 3 1/2 years of peace, we need to recognize it for what it is and store up what we need to survive through the next season coming.

This may or may not happen in our lifetime, but if we don’t know what signs to look for by the time we realize what has happened, it will be too late.

Here we go, again

It’s 2017, and most of the world is starting a new year. Resolutions to make (then break), hope for a better future (while reviewing the past) and a sense of foreboding as we begin a new journey into an unknown future.

Except for those who believe in God. We trust Him to protect us and look forward to His return. For us, all we should consider with regards to the new year is that we are that much closer to seeing God’s kingdom on Earth become a reality. We should not be afraid of the future, and should not dwell on the past.

Yeshua said that anyone who puts his hand to the plow and looks behind them is not fit for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62), so let’s let the old year be a memory and not a memorial, and look to the future with a trusting faithfulness that God is in charge, so no matter what comes our way we can handle it.

And what we can’t handle, God can.

With the passing of the “holiday season” we also see (hopefully) the passing of the “holiday blues”, the condition that causes many people to feel saddened and depressed during the holidays. With all the celebratory advertising- happy families loving and caring for each other, kids getting more presents than anyone should have, husbands buying cars for their wives (really? What average American does that?) and everyone being happy, in love, and sharing wonderful things with each other- it’s no wonder anyone who is single without a special someone, or someone far away from family, or families that are normal (meaning dysfunctional) become depressed seeing all that they want everywhere else but in their life.

These are the people who need God the most. We are supposed to be a light in the darkness, which is a very hard thing to be because, in truth, we all need to strengthen our faithfulness. We all need to work hard to overcome the sadness all around us. It is like working at the fish market: even if you aren’t handling the fish, just being around them all day makes you stink like fish when you get home.

God gave us the Torah to sanctify us, to make us holy (meaning separated from the world), yet Yeshua (Jesus) tells us we are to go out into the world to make Disciples.  How do we work in the fish market and not come home smelling like fish?

The answer is that we wash ourselves every day with the cleansing of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit. Yeshua’s blood cleansed us of our sins, and the Holy Spirit can cleanse us of the stench of the cursed and fallen world whenever we read His word, whenever we are blessed for obeying a commandment, and whenever we commune with God and others who are like-Believers.

If you haven’t yet come home stinking of fish, let this year be the one where you do. If you haven’t yet done so, it’s time to go to the fish market and become fishers of men, find the darkness and bring the light of Messiah into it, and when you get home, read the Word, pray, join with others in a spiritual mikvah that will cleanse the stench of the world off of you make you smell like baby oil.

Or, better yet, you will smell like anointing oil.

I pray that you all have a better year in 2017 than you did in 2016, and that you look forward to seeing what God has planned for you. Forget about who’s the President, forget about your job issues, forget about the economy, don’t give the global warming issue another thought- just go forth trusting in God and knowing that all His plans for you are for your good. Look for the blessing in the Tsouris, find the peace the Ruach gives in the midst of suffering, and be comforted by the knowledge that this will all be forgotten and totally unimportant when you are basking in the light of God’s presence, for all eternity.

Now that’s what I call a good way to start the year.

Parashah Ki Thetze (go forth) Deuteronomy 21:10 – 25

We know that this last book of the Torah is a recap of the entire Torah, reaffirming the laws, regulations and commandments that God gave to everyone (Jew and Gentile, alike) through Moses. This parashah covers many of the civil laws, i.e. the way we are to treat each other.

Some of the topics covered are marriage and divorce, restoration of lost property, fair treatment of slaves, other people, even animals; adultery, disobedient children, holiness of the camp, vows, and not to use excessive punishment.

Throughout the bible, from Genesis through Revelations, we are told, over and over and over and….over: obey God, treat each other with kindness and respect and all will go well with us. That’s really all there is to it. Just like Yeshua said, which was said before Him and after Him: love God and love each other and everything else falls into place.

Yet we don’t. The bible tells us (and shows us) that faith in God is paramount and the most important thing to believe in, but the world tells us to have faith in ourselves. From my experience, I can tell you that I screw up a lot, and will most likely continue to. I have screwed up less and less thanks only to God’s Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) that I am still (after almost 20 years) learning to listen to.  If there is anything I can have faith in myself about, it is that I will screw things up.

And I am no different than you, or him, or them- we are all human.

In fact, God, Himself, doesn’t have faith in humanity. Really! If He did, then He would not have sent Yeshua (Jesus) to be a Messiah. Truth is, God knew from the very moment He made Himself known to Abraham that He would have to provide the means for us to have salvation because we can’t save ourselves.

We need to let go of what the world tells us is alright and stick to what God says. For instance, in this parashah it is said men and women should dress according to their gender, but do we? Heck- we don’t even know which bathroom to use anymore! And it also says to treat each other fairly; have you been listening to the political candidates?

Look- it’s simple: do as you’re told by God and not as you’re told by people. You will be against the world, but given what the world is like, that’s a good place to be.

If I was asked by someone what is the most important book to read in the entire bible, I would have to go with D’varim (Deuteronomy) because it spells it all out, very simply. There aren’t any really splendorous events (like at Mt. Horeb when God appeared to all the people) and there are no wonderful stories of miraculous happenings (like Sodom and Gomorrah, or the Red Sea parting), but what there is is the simple and understandable set of rules for living a life that is designed to keep you walking on the path to salvation.

Put no faith in people or things- save it all for God. Let go of the control you think you have, because you really have no control over anything.

God is in control, and you aren’t. Never were , never will be, so let the Big Guy handle it because He is the only one there is who can make whatever He wants to happen, happen.

God has a specific plan for you -yes, you, the person reading this right now- and He knows where you need to be going, so please let Him drive.


Parashah D’varim (words) Deuteronomy 1 – 3:22

This is the 5th and last book of the Torah. Moses gives three discourses: the first is review of their 40 year journey, the second (beginning at 4:44) deals with the foundations of the covenant with a review of the laws and commandments God has given, and the third discourse begins in Chapter 28, that one being on how to enforce the laws now that they are entering the land of promise.

At the end, Moses warns that no one should take away, or add to, any of the words written in this book. Does that mean the entire Torah, or just Deuteronomy?

If you ask me, it’s the entire Torah because the chapters and books are not very distinguishable in the Torah. The Torah is a single scroll, and the only way to tell where one book ends and another begins is that there is more space between the end of the sentences. Here is a sample of what the Torah looks like when there is a clear separation between a chapter or a page.

It is one book and it is one story. It is all about the one and only God and His choice of a people to represent Him; a people who were chosen to present His laws and commandments to the world. These laws and commandments are what will help lead us away from the sinful life our nature desires and to the sinless life that will bring us closer to God.

The Torah is a road map that leads us away from destruction; it shows us the path to salvation.

The Torah was given to the Jewish people because Abraham was so faithful that God chose him to be His means of salvation for the world. Before Abraham, it was Noah. Since Abraham, there have been many people that have saved the Jewish people from their own, well-deserved punishment, and with Messiah Yeshua there was no longer any need for Judges or Kings, because He is all of that, and more.

Deuteronomy, which is the Gentile name for the book called D’varim, reviews what we are told in the previous 4 books and serves as a reminder of what the people must do to faithfully follow God’s commandments. It is the recap, the “Reader’s Digest” version of the first four books. If you only read this fifth book of the Torah, you would still get the meaning and gist of the first four books, although you wouldn’t have the deeper understanding, the Drash, that you can enjoy when you have read the entire Torah.

The most wonderful thing about the bible, and the Torah is just the “warm-up”, is that God’s word has new revelations every time we read it. You could read this 50 times, but when you go over it the 51st time the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) will suddenly reveal to you something new, something that will help you to understand God better and to have a deeper and more fulfilling relationship with Him, and you will think to yourself, “How could I have not seen this before?”

It’s because we need to have spiritual eyes and spiritual ears when we read the Torah. For that matter, when we read anything in the Bible, since it is all the word of God. And these spiritual things take time to develop.

As we go through this book together, let’s read what is there and remember where we read it before. D’varim is the reminder to the people of all they have been through and what they were taught: how to live, how to worship, and how to treat each other. I think it is (no surprise here) very appropriate timing that this book of the Torah, which is a reminder and sort of memorial, comes right on the eve of Tisha B’Av, the 9th Day of Av, a day of mourning and memorial of the worst things that have happened to the Jewish people ever since we refused to enter the land.

That’s exactly where D’varim starts- Moses reminding the people that they refused to enter the land. Did you know that day was the 9th day of Av?


Parashah Kedoshim (Holy) Leviticus 19 – 20

Ye shall be holy; for I, the Lord thy God, am holy”

Powerful words, and the first words of this week’s Torah reading (parashah.) It is not a command to be as holy as God is, but to be holy because God is our God and He is holy.

To be holy doesn’t mean to be better, as a better person or a better Believer, but to be separated. To not do what others do, which may end up making us better, in a way. Better at being kind, better at being forgiving, better at being compassionate. Those are things which we should be ‘better’ at doing than others, and as such, we will be separated from the world.

The world is a cursed place, and those that live in it cannot avoid it. Just like walking through a field of sheep- no matter how carefully you step, eventually you will step into something. Living in the world, and having the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) from birth, we will step in more than just one something during our lifetime. We will wallow in it, at one time or another. That’s part of living, and even though we may be covered in dirt, we don’t have to be dirty. We can have dirt on our bodies but not be thinking dirty thoughts; we can carry the smell of the world on us but not be of the world.

It’s a tough balancing act, and we have God’s word and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) as our balancing pole to keep us on that high wire.

This parashah is all about being holy- it is the User’s Manual for holiness. Leviticus 19:18 is what Yeshua based His entire ministry on: love your neighbor as you love yourself. Yeshua said that on this commandment, and also on the commandment to love God, pivot all the rest of the commandments and the lessons from the Prophets. If we truly love God, then we have no choice but to love each other, and when you love someone you do whatever you can to make them happy, to not hurt them (although we end up doing that anyway, don’t we?) and to forgive them.

To err is human; to forgive, divine. You’ve heard that, and I’m sure often, but did you ever think about how biblically accurate it is? It is, in essence, what we learn from the Torah- we are sinners who are sinful, but we also have the ability to rise above our nature and be more like God than like other people.

These chapters instruct us in moral laws, ritual laws, duties towards others, consideration for the needy, and prohibitions against hatred and violence towards each other.

Even the Christians who teach that ‘Jews have Torah and Christians have the Blood of Christ’ (who, by the way, taught everyone to obey the Torah) can agree that the laws in this part of Leviticus are still valid for everyone.

If you haven’t read these last chapters of Leviticus, please do so! Start in 18 and go to the end. It isn’t that hard to do, and if you have to miss one of your TV shows, tape the show or let it go. This IS more important.

The parashot from here to the end of this book tell us how to treat each other and how to act as God acts, which is all He wants from us. As Moshe said, it isn’t too hard to do, it isn’t so far away we can’t get to it or need to send someone to bring it to us; it is right here, within reach.

God’s hand is always stretched out to meet our hand when we stretch our hand out to Him, and the means to reach God is to read and honor His Torah. When I say to honor the Torah, I don’t mean to just recognize it as a wonderful thing;  when I say to honor the Torah, I mean you must obey it to the best of your ability. No!- not to the best of your ability, beyond your best! Too often saying ,”To the best of my ability” is already admitting failure. You need to live beyond what you are able to do: that is why we have been given the Ruach HaKodesh.

Humanly it is impossible to live beyond what we are, but with God, all things are possible. The Ruach is from and of God, and it lives in you, in me, and in all those who profess Yeshua is the Messiah and accept Him as their Savior. That is the only way to get past the flesh, and it is only available to those that do T’shuvah (turning from sin) and ask for it with a broken spirit and a contrite heart.

Everything you need to be happy is here, in the Torah, and especially (I believe) in these few chapters, which form the very foundation of Yeshua’s ministry. If you want to be happy, these chapters tell you how.