Thursday, March 31, 2011

Has Salvation Come To Your House?

Luqas (Luke) 19:1-10 says: Yeshua entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Yeshua was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Yeshua was coming that way. When Yeshua reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Yeshua said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” How does Yeshua's concept of salvation compare with that of most churches today? Yeshua says salvation has come when Zacchaeus has repented as demonstrated by his making restitution to those he had wronged. There is no mention of believing in Yeshua or His mission. The emphasis is on repentance. Now consider the modern evangelical service. There is soft music playing and the minister will ask for those that want to be saved to first raise their hands. He will make sure that no one is looking around because he doesn't want them to be embarrassed. Then they will be asked to come forward and repeat the sinner's prayer. That prayer will acknowledge certain beliefs about "Jesus." After repeating the prayer, the new believer will be told to receive in faith God's gift of salvation. Depending on the particular church, the person may be told that his salvation is permanent and can't be lost even if one willfully sins thereafter.

Some may argue that "Jesus" was speaking to Zacchaeus under the "Old Covenant." The argument goes that since Jesus had not gone to the cross, died, and rose again, then Zacchaeus could not be saved under "New Testament" grace. This is an anti-Semitic approach. The covenant with the Hebrews was also a covenant of grace. It is only Christian theology that creates a salvation by law versus a salvation by grace dichotomy. The truth is that salvation to the Jews was always by grace. The Torah was given after they were redeemed from Egypt. The Torah was provided to separate the Hebrews from the world and to teach them to live in a matter that would please YHWH. Yeshua is the mediator of the Renewed Covenant that provides for the Torah to be written on hearts as opposed to stone. Under the Renewed Covenant, Gentiles can become citizens of the Commonwealth of Israel without converting to Judaism. However, repentance is still the first step a person takes to receive the blessings of the Renewed Covenant.

Don't allow yourself to be deceived by the "cheap grace" offered by the modern church. There is no salvation by saying a prayer. Salvation comes from the act of repentance from a believing heart. We, as Gentiles, are grafted onto the branch of Israel. We do not become Jews; however, we do obey the teachings of Torah. If you ever have wondered why the modern church is so mixed up, now you know. If you disregard repentance and Torah, sin will abound.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Justice Versus Trial

When we look at two events in the life of Abraham, we are confronted with events that are very confusing. In other words, something just doesn't make sense. In Bereshith (Genesis) 18, Abraham pleads for the inhabitants of Sedom (Sodom) and Amorah. You know the story: because of the wickedness of these two cities, YHWH has sent His angels to destroy them. Abraham bargains with YHWH for their lives. However, in Bereshith 22, when YHWH asks Abraham to offer his son Issac as a sacrifice, there is no bargaining at all. It would seem to me that it would make more sense for Abraham to argue for the son he loves than for the wicked inhabitants in Sedom and Amorah. Can these passages be interpreted in a way that makes logical sense? I think so, but it requires understanding the Hebraic approach to the Scriptures.

In the cases of Sedom and Amorah, their fate is tied to the realm of din, i.e. justice. YHWH has declared that the inhabitants are wicked and because of that justice demands that they be destroyed. When in the realm of din, things make sense. Therefore, Abraham can argue his case for mercy. It is in the area of din that man can arise and confront YHWH for the defense of the wicked. However, in the case of Issac, it takes place in the realm of nissayon, i.e. trial. In matters that are trials or tests, man's challenge is to pass the test. One does not seek to escape; instead, one seeks to respond with faith and dignity. Now we can understand why Abraham could plead for the wicked, but not for his son. Abraham was able to know the difference between din and nissayon.

Our challenge is to do the same. We must comprehend the difference between a matter of justice and a matter of trial. Abraham was flesh and blood and he was able to do so. We must do our best to do likewise. If you find yourself in a trial, the best advice is to pray, believe, and act in faith. When you have exhausted your efforts, turn to YHWH and accept His all encompassing love and Divine will.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Biblical Leprosy

In Vayikra (Leviticus) 12:1-15:33, the Scriptues review ritual purity and impurity. After a discussion of the laws of impurity from childbirth, the Word instructs the reader on the diagnosis of Biblical leprosy. There are several views about these passages. Are they referring to a contagious skin disease or something that is inconsistent with a communicable disease? I think the latter makes the compelling case. In support, consider the following:
1. The priests would make his diagnosis only on the parts of the body they could see. There was no examination of the "folds of the body."
2. If leprosy was suspected in a dwelling, the Torah commanded that everything be removed from the house before the examination. This is inconsistent with the handling of a communicable disease. Following this procedure could expose the neighbors to potentially infected material.
3. The laws concerning leprosy applied only to houses in the land of Israel and only after the land had been divided into individual holdings. The laws did not apply to non-Jews or to dwellings of any ownership in the city of Jerusalem.
4. The laws did not apply to non-Jews. Leprosy contracted by a convert before conversion to Judaism was of no consequence.
5. After the nation's entry into the land, the infected person was only excluded from walled cities. He would be allowed to remain in unwalled cities and to roam free. He would not be excluded from the community.

The above points arguably stand for the proposition that something other than sanitary issues were being addressed. What then is Biblical leprosy? Is it natural, physical illness, or supernatural phenomenon? The Talmud lists seven sins that can cause Biblical leprosy: evil speech, murder, perjury, sexual immorality, arrogance, robbery, and miserliness. The rabbis would link the punishment of leprosy with slander, i.e. saying something false about someone, and evil speech, i.e saying something damaging about someone even if it was true. In support, they cite the following:
1. Moses contracts temporary leprosy at the burning bush when he casts aspersions on the Israelites by questioning their desire to respond to God's call to leave Egypt. "And if they do not believe me, nor listen to my voice, and say YHWH has not appeared to you?"
2. Miriam is punished with leprosy when she maligns her brother Moses.
3. According to the passage in Leviticus, leprosy results in the punishment of exclusion from the community. The infected person must distance himself from the community because his words have created distance between couples, friends, or business associates.

A strong case can be made that Biblical leprosy is related to improper speech. Onkelos translated Genesis 2:7 as: "and man became a speaking spirit." We have not fully comprehended the power of words. They have the power to heal, or to kill. Perhaps, they also have a connection to Biblical leprosy. No wonder David said, "Put a guard over my mouth."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Strange Fire Part 2

Yesterday, we looked at what "strange fire" actually meant. Based upon what happened to the sons of Aaron when they attempted to add some man made fire to the set apart fire provided by YHWH, it is safe to conclude that man made fire is not desired by YHWH. It cost the sons of Aaron their lives. While it may not cost us our physical lives today, it could be spiritually dangerous. I have seen many types of man made fire. I was aware of one denomination that created an entire list of do's and don'ts that were considered standards of holiness. For example, woman could not cut their hair, could not wear pants or shorts, could not use make up, or go outside without a pair of hose on. Men could not attend sporting events, bowling alleys, or wear shorts or shirts that exposed their elbows. Neither men or women could own a television, go to movies, or wear wedding rings if they were married. These were considered standards of holiness. Will you find them in the Set Apart Scriptures? The answer is "no." You have to do a lot of manipulation of texts and ignore the Hebraic root of the Scriptures to reach such conclusions.

Some might think it is just harmless to make up these type of rules. However, if you believe these man made rules are signs of being set apart to YHWH, you have created strange fire. When these type of rules are created, they become the standard by which people are admitted into fellowship as members. Most every denomination that ignores the standards set by YHWH have their own. What are the standards of being set apart established by YHWH? They are Sabbath remembrance, Torah study, keeping the Biblical feasts, keeping the dietary laws, loving Him with your entire person, and loving your neighbor as yourself. When YHWH says, "You shall be set apart because I am set apart," does He not have the right to determine what being set apart actually means? What right does man have to determine what being set apart is? Does the substitution of man's ideas for YHWH's commands ring any bells? Hint: Think about Eve in the Garden of Eden formulating her opinion in place of YHWH's command concerning the forbidden fruit.

Do not be fooled into thinking that man can create rules for "holiness." It is YHWH's standard that we should seek to obey. We will find those standards in His Word, and not in a church manual.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Strange Fire

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 10:1-2 says: "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before YHWH, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from YHWH, and devoured them, and they died before YHWH." Does this seem harsh to you? Nadab and Abihu have a place of prominence. They are sons of Aaron and they are part of the ministry. They have been receiving instruction and now they on their own bring incense to worship YHWH and they are struck dead. This is not just a story; this is a truth that the modern "church" has neglected. YHWH dictates when we may come to Him and how we may come to Him. There does not appear to be a "sliding scale" or "grading on a curve." YHWH has instructed us in the Torah how we are to worship Him. Remember the entire book of Leviticus takes place at the foot of Mount Sinai. The Hebrews have been set free from the bondage of Egypt and YHWH is instructing them how to worship Him. The lesson from Nadab and Abihu is that we are not free to make our own rituals. We are to follow YHWH's clear instructions.

Consider the church today. How much of what takes place follows the patterns set forth in the Torah? Now the Temple has been destroyed so that eliminates many of the 613 laws. However, there remains many that serve to demonstrate ritual purity neglected by the church today. Dietary laws set apart eating as an act of worship to YHWH. Celebrating the Biblical feasts as commanded result in our worshipping YHWH how He wants. What has the church substituted? The church has given us the teaching that love is a fulfillment of the 613 commands. It has given us Easter and Christmas in place of Passover and Hanukkah. Now Hanukkah is not a Biblical feast, but Yeshua (Jesus) would have attended the celebrations. The law tells us to: "thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am YHWH." Yet, the church tells us how we can get ahead and be prosperous for ourselves. We are to prosper, but we are to do it YHWH's way.

Offering strange fire can kill you. Strange fire is worshipping YHWH in a method of your choosing as opposed to His. We need to examine our methods of worship to see if they line up with His Torah. It is only by grace that most of us have not ended up like the sons of Aaron. However, it is now time to reconnect with our Hebraic roots and be a part of the Commonwealth of Israel as Sha'ul (Paul) wrote. It is time that our lives are governed by His Word and not our own.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Truly Humble

Tzi Freeman wrote: "The truly humble person is not one who feels worthless or inferior. True smallness is what happens when a person stops thinking, 'What will be with me?' and instead thinks, 'What is needed of me right now?'" The quote challenges us to think of others as opposed to self. The world encourages you to "look out for number one." The focus is on your happiness, your prosperity, or your well-being. However, the Hebraic approach focuses on assisting others. Yeshua (Jesus) was the master of Hebraic thought and practice. He said, "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, all your body shall be enlightened. But if you eye is evil, all your body shall be darkened. If, then, the light that is within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!" Yeshua is speaking idioms. He is saying that if you are stingy, you are in darkness. To the contrary, if you are generous with others, you are full of light. Yeshua also said, "Give to him who asks of you, and from him who wishes to borrow from you, do not turn away." He is advocating a lifestyle of focusing on the needs of others.

Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Hillel both believed in the importance of the command found in Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 19:18: "And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am YHWH." Yeshua taught that it was the second greatest commandment: "And the second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commands hang all the Torah and the Prophets." Yeshua was not eliminating the balance of the Torah and Prophets by His declaration. He was teaching that loving YHWH with all your being and loving your neighbor as yourself were like a curtain rod from which everything was hung from. When we obey the dietary rules, we do so because we are showing our love to YHWH. When we take care of the injured like the Samaritan did, we are demonstrating our love for our fellow man. The emphasis must be on caring for others and not ourselves.

If followers of YHWH would obey this command, we would see real evangelism. Forget the fancy evangelism kits and the "flavor of the month" gimmicks to lure the unchurched to hear the gospel; if we will just obey the commandments, our light will reveal the truth of the gospel to all that are within our scope of influence. The challenge is: what is needed of me right now? Look around. It will not be difficult to answer, The difficulty will be whether we are willing to live it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Real Spring Celebrations

"Christianity" is preparing for its Easter celebration next month. You will not find any commandment in the Scriptures to celebrate Easter. However, there is a celebration commanded in Shemoth (Exodus) that is an everlasting law. Shemoth 12:14-15 says: "And this day shall become to you a remembrance. And you shall celebrate it as a festival to YHWH throughout your generations--celebrate it as a festival, an everlasting law. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. Indeed on the first day you cause leaven to cease from your houses. For whoever eats leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that being shall be cut off from Yisra'el." Verse 24 says: "And you shall guard this word as a law for you and your sons, forever." A fair reading of these verses reveal that this celebration is not an option. There are five "shalls" in the verses indicating that YHWH is giving commands, not options. Yet, how many churches will even discuss Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread? Please don't fall into the anti-Semitic trap that says that Jesus did away with the eternal everlasting commands of His Father. He never would have been disobedient to a command of the Father. He only did what He saw the Father doing. The Father would not have said that the festival was everlasting and to be celebrated forever if He did not intend it to be so.

Another argument against the keeping of the festivals is that they were "Old Testament" and we are "New Testament" believers. You will not find that designation in the Scriptures. I find it interesting that the same preachers that will disregard the "Old Testament" will quickly quote verses in Malachi about tithing. They will use Numbers 13 to teach faith. This approach is like some food menus. You take one from column A and one from column B for your meal. You can't treat YHWH's Word in that manner. An honest reading of the Scriptures concerning Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread will lead you to the conclusion that they are permanent commands. Whatever Yeshua taught the disciples during the forty days, it did not include eliminating the festivals. How do we know? We know because the early church continued the celebrations. Sha'ul testified, "Truly, then, all the Yehudim (Jews) know my way of life from youth, which I led from the beginning among my own nation at Yerushalayim (Jerusalem), since they have known me from the first, if they wish to witness, that I lived as a Pharisee according to the strictest sect of our observance." Ma'asei (Acts) 26:4-5 Pharisees kept the festivals. Sha'ul was a Pharisee. Therefore, Sha'ul kept the festivals.

If you want to be a disciple of Yeshua (Jesus), then you need to do what He did when He walked the earth. In fact, we are instructed to walk as He walked. That walk included Passover and keeping the Biblical feasts. So, who are you following?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jesus Didn't Eat Pork

I wanted to write about the dietary laws found in the Hebrew Scriptures. Most of the Christians I know do not consider them binding on them because they are not Jewish. Sha'ul wrote in Eph'siym (Ephesians) 2:12: "That at that time you were without Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Yisra'el and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no expectation and without Elohim in the world." Sha'ul is instructing the Gentiles that it was through Yeshua that they became partakers in the covenant to Israel. That covenant includes limitations on what you eat. While I don't think that the dietary restrictions were related to one's physical health, I do consider a disregard of them to be dangerous to one's spiritual health.

According to Shmuel Golden's Unlocking The Torah Text, the following reasons are suggested for the Kosher laws:
1. [They] "help maintain a clear separation between the Jewish people and surrounding cultures.
2. [They] train each Jew toward a disciplined lifestyle marked by the acceptance of God's will.
3. [They] connect the ordinary act of eating to Jewish law, thereby injecting God-awareness into the daily life of each Jew.
4.[They] cultivate the people's recognition of their own powers of self-control."

Goldin further explains, "To live a sanctified life, we must always be in control of, rather than controlled by, our passions. Through continued abstinence from those foods prohibited by the Torah, the Jew learns to control his own desires by bending them to God's will." We live in an age of entitlement. People, especially in the "church," believe that they are free to pick and choose what part of YHWH's word applies to them. The far better approach is to see the world as a gift from YHWH and man is "entitled" to only which YHWH allows. As I honor the Kosher laws, I am reminded three times a day who is in charge of my life. Three meals a day remind me to be submissive to Him and obey His word. Yeshua didn't eat pork. Yeshua doesn't eat pork today. And, Yeshua will not be eating pork tomorrow. So, why do you want to? Who is the real authority in your life? Remember, do not sow mingled seed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Are You Proof?

Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 31:33 says: "For this is the covenant I shall make with the house of Yisra'el after those days, declares YHWH: I shall put forth My Torah in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts. And I shall be their Elohim, and they shall be My people." If you are a Gentile follower of Yeshua, then YHWH has written His Torah on your heart. If you desire to keep the Sabbath, obey the dietary laws, and keep the Biblical feasts, where do you think that desire came from? The Gentile believer that seeks to obey the Torah is the proof to Israel that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Jewish Messiah. The words of Sha'ul that the Gentiles would provoke Israel to jealousy make more sense now. Jews love the Torah. We should love the Torah. When we do, we testify that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah.

Most churches claim that "Jesus" has cancelled the Law by His sacrifice. They further teach that we are bound only to fulfill the law of love. In addition, they toss out the dietary laws, change the Sabbath to Sun-Day, and create Easter and Christmas in place of the Biblical festivals. Those changes will not provoke the Jews to jealousy; those changes will chase the Jews away. This makes so much sense that when you see, you find it difficult to believe that you were so blinded before. Church history reveals that beginning in approximately 115CE, some began to change the day of worship to Sun-Day to make it more comfortable for the pagans to "convert" to "Christianity." By the fourth century, the disconnect was complete. Centuries upon centuries of anti-Semitism has served to have the church rendered ineffective in its evangelism. Saying the "sinner's prayer" will not save anyone. Salvation comes from believing from the heart, i.e. correct believing that impacts our living. What is that impact? That impact is obedience to Torah.

Now back to the question, "Are you proof?" What does your life prove to the Jews about your faith? Do you provoke jealousy? Does your church teach the necessity of Torah observance? If not, what does that tell you about them? Our lives should provoke the Jews to jealousy, and until they do, we are missing the mark. And yes, that is the definition of sin.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Did You Celebrate Purim Today?

I am of the opinion that most followers of "Jesus" did not know that this was a special day for the Jews. It is most likely that Yeshua in the first century would have participated in the festive holiday. It is a remembrance of the victory of the Jews over Haman and his plot to exterminate them. In case you thought Judaism was an organized religion, Purim comes to eliminate that notion. Think of it: For Chanukah, Jews get eight days, and they just light some candles and eat donuts. On Purim, they have to hear a Megillah (twice), i.e the Book of Esther; give out cash to the needy; shuttle packages of edibles to all their friends; fix broken zippers, lost buttons, messy makeup and broken masks on their kids'costumes; and hold a wild and wonderful Purim feast to boot. In how much time? Twenty-four hours flat. Go figure. In fact, there is support in the Talmud that you are to drink so much alcohol that you can not distinguish blessings from curses.

That seems strange to "Christians." A religion that understands the importance of ritual, study, prayer, and having a good time. When you come to a place of understanding that following Yeshua is to do so while within the umbrella of Judaism, you have made the leap to Nazirite Judaism. This means that you obey Torah, remember the Sabbath, and believe that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. He came, died, and rose again to be the mediator of the renewed covenant. The renewed covenant was the promise of Jeremiah 31 that YHWH would write the law of Mount Sinai on the hearts of His followers. If the Torah has been written on your heart, then you are a follower of YHWH. If it hasn't been written there, then you are following someone or something else.

It is not to late to join the festivities. As a family, I read the book of Esther and every time the name of Haman was read everyone made lots of noise. The idea was to drown out his name forever. By the end of the reading, we understood more about the bravery of Esther, the commitment of Mordecai, and the providence of YHWH. If you think that Esther is not important, remember that if all the Jews had been destroyed, Yeshua could not have been born. He had to come from a Jewish mother. Israel had to be preserved.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tablet of the Heart

Sha'ul (Paul)wrote in 2 Qorintiyim Bet (2nd Corinthians) 3:3: "Making it obvious that you are a letter of Messiah, served by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living Elohim, not on tablets of stone but on fleshly tablets of the heart." Shau'ul is using the testimony of the Qorintiyims to validate his ministry. The point to be emphasized is his knowledge of the Law being written on the hearts of Yeshua's followers. Sha'ul is making an obvious reference to Jeremiah 31:33: "For this is the covenant I shall make with the house of Yisra'el after those days, declares YHWH: I will put my Torah in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts. And I shall be their Elohim, and they shall be My people." YHWH promised a renewed covenant; it would involve the same Law as given at Mount Sinai. The only difference would be the location of the writing. At Sinai, it was written on tablets of stone. After the resurrection of Yeshua and the descent of the Set-apart Spirit on Shabu'ot (Pentecost), the Law was written on the heart of the followers of the Way of Yeshua.

Sha'ul confirms the heart faith of the renewed covenant in verse 3. Our hearts are the writing tablet of the Spirit. Yeshua taught that it was out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth would speak. If you have been filled with the Set-apart Spirit, you should have an abundance of the Torah coming from your lips. Some denominations believe that "speaking in tongues" is proof of the Spirit's infilling. According to the renewed covenant, the evidence of the infilling of the Set-apart Spirit is an abundance of Torah written on the heart. What is written on your heart? In times of stress when circumstances look difficult, what is your default? Is it Torah? Or, is it anger, self-reliance, or fear? To those who truly know what it means to have the Pentecostal experience, there is a peace and resting that exists because of the Torah.

YHWH could have chose to describe His renewed covenant anyway He wanted; however, He chose the method of writing the Torah on the hearts of His followers. We should make it our daily study to read the Torah. Commit your way of living to His way of living. It is found in the Torah. If you do and put the Torah into action, you will be like the man Yeshua described when the rain and floods came as a "wise man."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Call to Separate

We are to live lives set apart to YHWH. We need to know His name and follow His commands. However, there is still a "white elephant" in the room that continues to be ignored. That "white elephant" is pornography. Christianity Today wrote in 2008: "Seventy percent of American men ages 18–34 view Internet pornography once a month. This shocking fact is one of many that CT consulting editor John W. Kennedy found during his research for this month's cover story, "Help for the Sexually Desperate" (page 28). Don't assume that porn isn't a problem in the church. One evangelical leader was skeptical of survey findings that said 50 percent of Christian men have looked at porn recently. So he surveyed his own congregation. He found that 60 percent had done so within the past year, and 25 percent within the past 30 days. Other surveys reveal that one in three visitors to adult websites are women." We need to confront this tool of the enemy since it is enlarging, not shrinking. Women and men are both being drawn into the web of deceit that can destroy marriages, injure men and women, and hinder normal relationships. The porn industry destroys lives. Recently, a famous actor was partying with a 22 year old porn star. Afterward, she attempted suicide. It really struck me that this young woman was only 22. How tragic that her young life has taken the turn it has. I wondered about her parents and how they must feel. However, the truth is, that if people would cease creating a market for porn there would be no 22 year old destroying their lives. The followers of YHWH need to stand and proclaim in the language of Scriptures that pornography is not victimless. It is not OK to look. We need to call a sin a sin.

Being set apart includes honoring YHWH's special days and festivals. Purim begins following the close of Shabbat this week. How many attendees of "churches" this week even know this? If they don't, why don't they know? Our beloved Yeshua would have likely participated in the celebration of the victory of the Jews as told in the book of Esther. Further, if we are going to be set apart to YHWH, we should celebrate His festivals. He did not tell us to celebrate "Easter"; He told us to celebrate Passover. Who are you following? What are you celebrating? We don't want pornography to be a part of our lives because it doesn't bring esteem to YHWH. We don't want to celebrate pagan customs because they do not bring esteem to YHWH either.

Are you willing to live a life set apart to YHWH? If so, you have the opportunity to put actions with thoughts and words. Read and learn about Purim and Passover. If you are a Gentile follower of Yeshua, you have been grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel. The church does not replace Israel; it is grafted into Israel. Enjoy the rich heritage of living set apart to YHWH and His son Yeshua.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Fourth Commandment

The Fourth Commandment is: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it set apart. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But in the seventh day is the sabbath of YHWH thy Elohim: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days YHWH made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested on the seventh day: wherefore YHWH blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." In Biblical times, the Hebrew letters were also used for numbers. Dalet was the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. In ancient Hebrew the word meant a door. It symbolized a door or path of life.

The word picture for Sabbath or rest is to return to the covenant or return to the stake, i.e. the cross. We return to the covenant when we destroy the previous house. This means to leave nothing in the other kingdom that might tempt us to return. We are to "burn all our bridges" so there is nothing to return to. After we "burn the bridges," we have to go forward because we can't go back. The Fourth Commandment instructs us to continually walk in Elohim's covenant which includes remembering the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week, not the first. We return to the covenant as we keep the Sabbath. If you have been raised in either a Catholic or Protestant denomination, this will require a change of mindset. Sun-Day is not the day of the covenant. The Sabbath is. If we are going to follow YHWH and His son Yeshua, we need to follow Him and keep the Sabbath. Isn't it logical that if Yeshua had a custom or practice of attending worship on the Sabbath that we should do so also? Yeshua was a Sabbath keeper; are you?

We are living in difficult times. We need to follow the Words and commands of YHWH as best we can. Part of that obedience is remembering the Sabbath. Who would dare change the Sabbath to Sun-Day? The answer is really obvious, isn't it?

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Pagan Origin of Easter

The holiday known as Easter is just over a month away. Churches are preparing for one of their biggest attendance days of the year. Activities are being planned for the children, choir rehearsals for special music, and pastors are preparing special messages celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, is Easter appropriate for followers of YHWH and His son Yeshua to celebrate? The short answer is, "No." Easter is a conspiracy plot against the true faith. This may be difficult to accept, but the truth must be told.

The first thing to be understood is that professing believers were not the only ones who celebrated a festival called "Easter.""Ishtar", which is pronounced "Easter" was a day that commemorated the resurrection of one of the pagan gods called "Tammuz", who was believed to be the only begotten son of the moon-goddess and the sun-god. In those ancient times, there was a man named Nimrod, who was the grandson of one of Noah's sons named Ham. Ham had a son named Cush who married a woman named Semiramis. Cush and Semiramis then had a son named him "Nimrod." After the death of his father, Nimrod married his own mother and became a powerful King. The Bible speaks of this man, Nimrod, in Genesis 10:8-10 as follows: "And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before YHWH: wherefore it is said, even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before YHWH. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad,and Calneh, in the land of Shinar." Nimrod became a god-man to the people and Semiramis, his wife and mother, became the powerful Queen of ancient Babylon. Nimrod was eventually killed by an enemy, and his body was cut in pieces and sent to various parts of his kingdom. Semiramis had all of the parts gathered, except for one part that could not be found. That missing part was his reproductive organ. Semiramis claimed that Nimrod could not come back to life without it and told the people of Babylon that Nimrod had ascended to the sun and was now to be called "Baal", the sun god. Queen Semiramis also proclaimed that Baal would be present on earth in the form of a flame, whether candle or lamp, when used in worship. Semiramis was creating a mystery religion, and with the help of Satan, she set herself up as a goddess. Semiramis claimed that she was immaculately conceived. She taught that the moon was a goddess that went through a 28 day cycle and ovulated when full. She further claimed that she came down from the moon in a giant moon egg that fell into the Euphrates River. This was to have happened at the time of the first full moon after the spring equinox. Semiramis became known as "Ishtar" which is pronounced "Easter", and her moon egg became known as "Ishtar's" egg." Ishtar soon became pregnant and claimed that it was the rays of the sun-god Baal that caused her to conceive. The son that she brought forth was named Tammuz. Tammuz was noted to be especially fond of rabbits, and they became sacred in the ancient religion, because Tammuz was believed to be the son of the sun-god, Baal. Tammuz, like his supposed father, became a hunter. The day came when Tammuz was killed by a wild pig. Queen Ishtar told the people that Tammuz was now ascended to his father, Baal, and that the two of them would be with the worshippers in the sacred candle or lamp flame as Father, Son and Spirit. Ishtar, who was now worshipped as the "Mother of God and Queen of Heaven", continued to build her mystery religion. The queen told the worshippers that when Tammuz was killed by the wild pig, some of his blood fell on the stump of an evergreen tree, and the stump grew into a full new tree overnight. This made the evergreen tree sacred by the blood of Tammuz. She also proclaimed a forty day period of time of sorrow each year prior to the anniversary of the death of Tammuz (Does this not sound like "Lent"?). During this time, no meat was to be eaten. Worshippers were to meditate upon the sacred mysteries of Baal and Tammuz, and to make the sign of the "T" in front of their hearts as they worshipped. They also ate sacred cakes with the marking of a "T" or cross on the top. Every year, on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, a celebration was made. It was Ishtar's Sunday and was celebrated with rabbits and eggs. Ishtar also proclaimed that because Tammuz was killed by a pig, that a pig must be eaten on that Sunday (Did you ever wonder why the traditional Easter meal for "Christians" is ham when Yeshua would never have eaten swine?). By now, the connection between Easter and paganism should be clear. Paganism has infiltrated the contemporary "Christian" churches. The truth is that Easter has nothing whatsoever to do with the resurrection of our Yeshua.

You can easily research the truth of the above. I have taken a majority of the facts from a tract found on line. The real issue is, "What are you going to celebrate?" Will be Easter? Or, will you do what Yeshua always did and celebrate the Passover?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

True Separation

It is time for the followers of YHWH to separate from the world. Most of the time, "Christianity" tries to work within the secular culture. The church tries to influence the world while working within its confines. Many church models are based on business models that have proven successful. This must cease. True followers need to separate from worldly thinking and speaking. The world says that homosexuality is a lifestyle decision. The Word says it is an abomination. The world calls abortion "pro-choice." The Word calls it murder. It is time that the church stop trying to get along with secular culture; instead, the church offers an alternative. The true followers of YHWH should cease trying to influence culture, and instead be a separate culture.

This is not a recommendation to live in seclusion like the Amish, nor to live frozen in a 1950's dress code or entertainment restricted lifestyle, i.e. no television or movies. It is a recommendation to present discipleship in place of the world. This is not semantics; this is radical living. Yeshua called us to a life of separation. He said, "Let the dead bury the dead." Our society would disapprove of such an approach because it appears anti-family. Yes, the liberal thinkers will promote family values if it fits their agenda. We are called to live a life of complete abandonment to His Word. Yeshua has shown us the way. The question is, will we follow?

Are you a "lukewarm" follower of Yeshua? Do you say one thing and do another? Does your life reveal a Sun-Day morning Christianity? If the answer to any of these is yes, know that you are in grave danger. Such a life will not prepare you for the one to come. Become radical like Yeshua. It may cost you your life like it did Him, but it is the only way to follow YHWH.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

First Things First

Rabbi Israel Salanter said, "A person should first put one's house together, then one's town, then the world." What does it take to, "Put one's house together"? According to Sacred Intentions, "Kind words, unconditional love, nurturing guidance" will be a good start. Yeshua said, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?" (NIV) There is priority established before you begin to correct the behavior of others. That priority begins with a mirror. You need to examine your own life before you criticize others. Moreover, if one claims to be a follower of Yeshua one should desire this type of self examination. We should seek to obey His words to the fullest extent possible.

It seems that in the "church" today, we see a number of people that want to provide "words from the LORD." They want to remove specks from people's eyes. They want to be what I call "pretend prophets." Abraham Heschel said: "The words of a prophet are stern, sour, stinging. But behind his austerity is love and compassion for mankind...." The man or woman who has gone through the process of removing the planks from their lives will develop love and compassion for others. Whether it is a word of prophecy that involves correction or encouragement, it needs to come from the lips of one who has been broken through the process of self examination under the search light of YHWH.

This is a path necessary for usage in the kingdom. While it may not be an enjoyable process in the natural, it is a joy to be molded into the image of Yeshua. Sometimes being molded will require some cutting away and reshaping. However, know that as it is occurring the end product will reflect the image of the Master.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Value of Prayer and Study

Rabbi Louis Finkelstein said: "When I pray, I speak to God; when I study, God speaks to me." Prayer is a time of developing your relationship with YHWH. It is an opportunity to bask in the presence of your Creator. I once knew a man that prayed an hour every day. He would pace and pray. For a solid hour he talked nonstop. There was no time for YHWH to communicate with him. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who monopolized the conversation? You get bored quickly. I wonder does YHWH feel the same? I suggest that prayer should be a time of worship, adoration, and praise for all that YHWH has done for you. I ask Him for something one time and thereafter thank Him that it is done. If I have faith to believe that what I am asking for is His will, I should believe that the answer is complete and settled even if if I don't see the manifestation. To continue to ask YHWH for something that He has already promised to do is to doubt His Word. It is almost as if you think that if you annoy Him long enough, He will give in and give you what you want. That is a work based prayer. One's prayer life can be enjoyed when one does not think that he or she is trying to convince YHWH to do His will. You will not have to spend an hour asking for the same thing day in and day out. Ask once, ask in faith, and act on that faith and spend the rest of the time in worship and praise.

When you are studying, you should be attentive to hear YHWH's voice. When you open the sacred text, be mindful of what you hold in your hands. We need a real appreciation of the importance of the Word. Too often, we read in a hurry never searching for the real meaning behind the text. We are privileged to be able to have the sacred words of YHWH in our possession. As we begin to meditate on them, i.e. in Hebrew this means to mutter to one self, they will begin to challenge, change, an convict us. We will be challenged to be more obedient. We will change our behavior to conform to the Word. Finally, we will be convicted of attitudes and actions that need to change in our lives.

Speak to YHWH and allow Him to speak to you. In prayer, allow your heart to open to Him. Release your inner most thoughts and feelings. Do not be ashamed to be honest with Him. In study, view every opportunity as a divine encounter with the living YHWH. He has been speaking to His children for thousands of years and He still has plenty to say to you.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Still Small Voice

1 Kings 19:12 tells us that YHWH was in the still small voice: "And after the earthquake a fire--YHWH was not in the fire, and after the fire a still small voice." Too often, we want the demonstration of fire falling from heaven. We want something large and noticeable. However, the miracle is still found in the fact that YHWH, the Creator of the universe, will communicate through a still small voice to His creations. Perhaps we should be as grateful for the small things as we are for the large manifestations of His Presence. Every moment should be spent basking in His presence.

Today, I took my wife's car to drop off our four year old at his grandmother's house. My car did not have a car seat so I had to take hers and she drove mine. My wife was the featured speaker at a seminar and I had promised to bring her a cup of her favorite Starbucks before she started. I arrived right as she was beginning her presentation. It was my intent to switch automobiles because I prefer my sports car to my wife's SUV. As I was entering the building where the seminar was being presented, I heard the still small voice, "Don't switch cars." I didn't and left the seminar shortly after it began. Thirty minutes later I received a call from my sister-in-law that my mother-in-law was being taken to the hospital and I needed to pick up our four year old. Since I had not traded cars, I was able to do so. If I had ignored the small voice, I would have had to go back to the seminar, interrupt and upset my wife, to exchange car keys. The still small voice was a real miracle to me. YHWH cared enough about my wife and myself to speak that word to me. It may not seem like much, but to me it demonstrates His true love for us.

Can you hear His still small voice? Do you know His voice? If you want to improve your reception, I suggest the following:
1. Check your obedience. If there is any area of your life walking in disobedience, repent and obey;
2. Confess any sins that have not been forgiven;
3. Learn to be quiet before Him;
4. Don't talk too much in prayer;
5. Read, study, and meditate on His Word.

If you will practice these simple steps, you will hear the still small voice.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Another Look At The Ten Spies

When the ten spies from Numbers 13 are discussed, it is generally done in a manner as to point out their faithlessness. I'm sure you can recall hearing a sermon about the faith of Joshua and Caleb. They had heard from YHWH and they wanted to "take the land." However, the ten spies said, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land eating up its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size. And we saw there the Nephilim, sons of Anaq, of the Nephilim. And we were like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and so we were in their eyes." Their lack of faith kept them out of the Promised Land. It is so easy to condemn them as faithless. However, maybe we should look at them again in light of our facing our own "Promised Lands."

Have you ever been faced with adversity and doubted in your ability to hear YHWH? Most people have faced a problem and just were not sure that what YHWH had promised would really happen. I have seen this with people facing a promise of healing, financial breakthrough, or an answer to prayer. If we were to be honest, I think we would admit that there are times that we don't sense YHWH in our lives. The times of silence cause us to experience doubt. I have a picture of the ten spies who want to believe, but they just can't overcome what they see. I think they want to, but they are afraid. I think this is how we are sometimes. We might want to judge these ten spies with a little more compassion and mercy.

If you are facing a season of doubt, it is time to immerse yourself in YHWH's Word. Meditate on it and embrace it as a life line to heaven. Know that what He has said is true, but don't be so hard on those that see their "smallness." Let us try to uplift each other and not bury those in difficulty. Revisiting the ten spies is a good place to start.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Finding the Oil

In the Book of Second Kings, we are told of the story of a widow woman that came to the prophet Elisha for help. Her husband had died and she had a ruthless creditor that intended to take her two sons as slaves for payment of the debt. Elisha says to her, "What should I do for you? Inform me, what do you have in the house?" The widow replied that she only had a pot of oil. Elisha tells her to borrow pots and vessels from everywhere. Then, she is to pour her oil into those containers. The oil does not stop pouring until every vessel she has is filled. Elisha then tells her to sell the oil, pay off the debt, and her and her two sons can live the rest of their lives on the remainder of the proceeds. Nice story, but is there a deeper message? I think so.

Elisha asks the widow what she had to work with it. I believe the message is that you already possess what you need to be a success. What we have to do, is find our "oil." YHWH has given every one of us talents. We need to discover those talents and trust Him to give us the determination to make happen our hearts desire. The widow did not want her sons to be slaves. That was her main desire in life. Elisha, as a prophet of YHWH, took what she had and gave her instruction. We need prophets of instruction today. Men and women of YHWH that will teach the truth, not for personal gain, but for the gain of others. If the widow had not believed the instruction she would have only had her small pot of oil. However, because of her faith in the words of the prophet, she ended up with an overflow of abundance. Think about it; she went from a place of debt about ready to lose her two sons to retirement in one day.

How do we find our oil? First, hear the words of the prophet. Find someone that you believe to have the prophetic words of YHWH operating in his or her life. Second, receive and act on the instruction. You may look foolish now, but know that you will be the one laughing when the abundance arrives. Third, do not be selfish. Share the truth of what you have learned with others. Remember that you have inside you everything you need to walk in abundance. Now, go and find it.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Importance of Words

The Talmud says: "Do not speak one thing with the mouth and another with the heart." Rabbi Kerry Olitzky explains in the devotional Sacred Intentions: "Some people say that we are what we eat. Judaism spins this idea a little differently. To the Rabbis, we are what we say. And what we say is very important. Words are among our most powerful tools. According to the Torah, the world was created with words spoken by God, the Holy One of Blessing. We all know the powerful effect that words can have on us, whether they be kind words or harsh words. Reading the Torah's discussion on leprosy, the Rabbis suggest that leprosy is really an acronym in Hebrew for evil speech and that speaking disparagingly about others and engaging in gossip is like leprosy."

You will eat the fruit of your speech. You have a choice to create a world of blessing or a world of cursing. The words you speak today will shape your tomorrows. To some, this may seem strange. However, the reality of the power of words is throughout the Sacred Scriptures. Words spoken have continuing force. The deceptive blessing of Jacob could not be withdrawn even through it rewarded deceit. Mankind could accomplish whatever it set its mind to do because only one language existed. That is why Elohim confused speech at the Tower of Babel. The confused speech impaired the power of man. In the same way, if we can align our words with Elohim's Words, nothing shall be impossible to us.

Guard your mouth. Consider every word that leaves your lips. Believe that everything you say will actually happen. When you do, you will begin to harness the power of speech as understood by the Rabbis. And that includes Yeshua, i.e. Jesus!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Physical First, Then the Spiritual

Ezekiel 28:25-26 says: Thus says the YHWH, "When I gather the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, and will manifest My being set apart in them in the sight of the nations, then they will live in their land which I gave to My servant Jacob. They will live in it securely; and they will build houses, plant vineyards and live securely when I execute judgments upon all who scorn them round about them. Then they will know that I am YHWH their Elohim." There is a two step process involved in YHWH's deliverance of His children. Physical safety, bodily, and economic well-being come first. Then, spiritual wholeness is manifested. He knows our needs and our wants. He knows that it will be difficult to get our full attention if we are concerned about our ability to make a living. Elohim cares about our economics. That is why He brought the children out of Egypt before He gave them the Torah.

One of the many problems with Greek thinking is that it ignores the sacred nature of every day tasks. Abraham Heschel said, "In our relations to the immediate, we touch upon the most distant. Even the satisfaction of physical needs can be a sacred act. Perhaps the most essential message of Judaism is that in doing the finite we may perceive the infinite." We need to understand that economics is not dirty. Yes, some use religion to "fleece the flock." However, to Elohim, He cares about our standard of living. The psalmist said that he had not seen the righteous forsaken nor their seed begging bread. When we embrace the position that YHWH considers the satisfaction of physical needs as something sacred, we will understand why He desires to meet our needs.

I hear too often people embrace poverty. They speak of it as an instructional method to teach a life lesson. They dare not speak of prosperity as they fear they will appear to be irreligious. YHWH wants to move in your life to set you free; He wants you free from sin, poverty, and sickness. Look at how He treated the children of Israel in their deliverance from Egypt and you will understand His will. Were they poor when they left? No, they had Egypt's silver and gold. Were they sick or diseased? No, they were in good health. They had to be for the journey ahead. Remember that it was after physical well-being was achieved that the Torah was given. The physical preceded the spiritual. That is YHWH's plan.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Finding Peace

Isaiah 26:3 says: Thou dost keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in thee. (RSV) The Hebrew word for "peace" is shalom. In Hebrew, this is a standard greeting. On the Sabbath, you will hear, "Shabbot Shalom." What does the word shalom actually mean? It is composed of the following letters: Sheen, Lamed, Vav, and Mem. Sheen means to destroy. Lam means authority. Vav has the picture of establish. Finally, Mem refers to chaos. When read together, the word picture for shalom is to destroy the authority that establishes chaos. This is a beautiful picture for the word translated as "peace" in English Bibles. When that which brings chaos is destroyed, peace will rule in our lives.

One obtains shalom as the mind is stayed on Elohim. The Hebrew word for "mind" is yēṣer. It means something thought of in the mind, such as wickedness in people's hearts (Gen. 6:5); or something treasured or stored in the heart (1 Chr. 29:18). The Hebrew word for "stayed" is sāmak. It refers to supporting or sustaining someone. Read together, one way to have peace in your life is to have your thought life be supported or sustained by Elohim. How is this accomplished? It is achieved by immersing oneself in the very Words of Elohim as found in the Scriptures. You will find shalom manifesting in your life as you read both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Second Writings, i.e. New Testament. Chaos will be destroyed as the Word of Elohim becomes dominant in your thought life.

When you find peace absent in your life, consider what you have been thinking about. Ask what has been sustaining you? You will quickly notice that if peace is absent, so has been the sustaining thoughts of the Word of Elohim. He has given us the power to have peace in our lives. Chaos can be destroyed. Peace will manifest as we focus our thoughts on Him and His Word.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Responding to Seekers

How do you respond to those that are seeking the truth? A rabbinical story is told in the Talmud about how different rabbis responded to one seeking to convert to Judaism. "There was another case of a gentile who came before Shammai. He said to him, 'Convert me on the stipulation that you teach me the entire Torah while I am standing on one foot.' He drove him off with the building cubit that he had in his hand. He came before Hillel: 'Convert me.' He said to him,‘What is hateful to you, to your fellow don’t do.’ That’s the entirety of the Torah; everything else is elaboration. So go, study." Shammai is much like some Christian workers today that seek to make it difficult to follow Yeshua. Contrary to Shammai, Hillel sought a method to make conversion as easy as possible. He understood that the journey of discipleship was a process. Yeshua followed the method of Hillel. He said, "Come unto me all that labor and are burdened down. Take my yoke upon you because it is easy." Now Yeshua also said that His followers had to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow Him. There is no contradiction. There is a difference between starting the journey of faith and being mature in faith. Too often, we want new believers to be fully born and knowledgeable about all aspects of the faith.

We need to embrace the gentle approach of Yeshua. He is kind to those that seek Him. He promises to not turn away those that seek Him. What is our approach to new opportunities to share our faith? I have seen the "hell fire and brimstone" approach of the Westboro Baptist Church and I have seen the "seeker sensitive" method that places no requirements for discipleship. Neither is Yeshua's method. He taught that His followers had to repent. We have previously seen that the word picture for "repent" is "to destroy the house." Repentance is about changing the kingdom you reside in. The one following Yeshua has changed from darkness to light. There is a relationship with YHWH founded on the renewed covenant meditated by Yeshua. It is a better covenant because the Torah is now written on our hearts instead of tablets of stone. However, the Torah has not changed.

We need to respond to those in spirtual need like Hillel and Yeshua. Hillel went against the norm of the day by making conversion to Judaism as easy as possible. In the same way, Yeshua made discipleship as easy as it could be. You had to change your address, i.e. from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light, but that was it. There is much to learn and it will take time to mature. We need to place as few barriers as possible between the seeker and YHWH. As someone once said, "We catch the fish, but He cleans them."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sabbath Observance

At one time, I was a member of a denomination that observed the "Christian Sabbath," i.e. Sunday. The problem is that Yeshua (Jesus), nor any apostle changed the day of rest from the Sabbath to the first day of the week. Exodus 20:8-10 says: "Remember the Sabbath day, to set it apart. Six days you labor, and shall do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of YHWH your Elohim. You do not do any work--you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates." The change in the day of worship occurred as a result of decrees made in the fourth century when the new religion of "Christianity" was created and severed from its real foundation of Judaism. YHWH has commanded us to remember the Sabbath. Who dares to defy Him? The obvious answer is the one that has been fighting Him all along, i.e Satan.

Think about how twisted things have become. Today, Christians fight for the right to be off work on Sunday so they can attend church. What concession do they make? Generally, they agree to work the other day of the weekend, i.e the Sabbath. The deception becomes clear. YHWH has commanded Sabbath observance. The enemy deceives the followers of Yeshua to change the day of worship to Sunday. Now, believers work on the Sabbath to be free to attend services on the incorrect day and violate one of YHWH's commandments.

There is a blessing for obedience. It follows that there is a blessing in remembering the Sabbath. We must follow YHWH's commands if we are going to be His followers. The Second Writings, i.e. the New Testament, records that it was Yeshua's custom to attend services on the Sabbath. Is it your custom? If not, who are you following? If we are going to claim to be followers of Yeshua, should we not follow His practices? Your actions will reveal what you believe and who you believe.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Getting Blessed

I hear much about financial needs these days. It seems that many are trying to raise money to pay bills, expand their building, or buy more property. The economy seems to still be in trouble, and people are hurting. I want to be kind, yet I sense a duty to tell the complete truth regarding blessings. Deuteronomy 28:1-8 says: "If you fully obey the YHWH your Elohim and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, YHWH your Elohim will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey YHWH your Elohim: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out. YHWH will grant that the enemies who rise up against you will be defeated before you. They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven. The YHWH will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The YHWH your Elohim will bless you in the land he is giving you." These verses promise the blessings of Elohim to be on and overtake who? The promise is to those that obey the commands of YHWH as set forth by Moses.

If I was living a life that was lacking in blessings, the first place I would look would be at the commandments taught by Moses in Deuteronomy. A brief survey of what Moses taught is as follows:
1. The Ten Commandments explained (5:1-21);
2. Ceremonial Laws (12:1-16:17);
3. Destroying idols (12:1-3);
4. Tithing (14:22-29);
5. Clean and unclean things (14:21);
6. Treatment of poor and needy (15:1-11);
7. Social laws (21:1-26:19).

Too often, we don't want to hear about the Laws of YHWH. We don't want restrictions on our lives. However, if you want the blessings of YHWH to run you over you need to place yourself in a position to receive. You are not earning His favor; instead, you are placing yourself in a place to receive His blessings. Now this is not an individual blessing. It is a communal blessing. If you are part of a group that ignores the commandments of Elohim, you will not have the benefit of Deuteronomy 28. Find a community that shares your commitment to the Laws of YHWH and prepare to be overtaken!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Renewed Covenant

Jeremiah 31:33 says: "For this is the covenant I shall make with the house of Yisra'el after those days, declares YHWH: I shall put My Torah in their inward parts, and write it on their hearts. And I shall be their Elohim, and they shall be My people." Jeremiah calls this "a renewed covenant." When we get a "new moon" every thirty days, do you think it is really a "new moon" or a renewed lunar cycle? In the same way, YHWH has made a renewed covenant with Yeshua (Jesus) as the mediator. The Torah has been placed in our hearts as opposed to on tablets of stone. Jews understood that we each have a good and an evil influence inside us. They can war with each other. When the Torah of YHWH is written on our hearts, we are to submit to it and act accordingly.

The Torah is YHWH's instruction to His people in how to live. Note that the behavior required to be His children is the same under both the Hebrew Scriptures and the renewed covenant. The blessings of obedience found in Deuteronomy 28 are for correct behavior. In the same way, the curses are for disobedient behavior. It would seem wise to know what behavior He requires. This is not "doing the best you can" or hoping that your sincerity will be sufficient. This is a matter of obedience to the Word of YHWH.

As we continue to press on in a world that is showing birth pangs for some climatic event, we want to make sure that we are obedient to YHWH's Words. Words are powerful. They have creative power. We want to act with His wisdom in all our dealings. We want to immerse ourselves in His Words. We want to speak them. We want to act on them. When we do, we will be ready for whatever the future brings.