Monday, April 30, 2012

Sabbath Observance Part 4

Today, we examine the blessings of the Sabbath. Those who keep the Sabbath of YHWH know true spiritual joy that comes from obedience to His Word. One of the blessings is answered prayer. Proverbs 28:9 says: "He that turns away his ear from hearing the torah, even his prayer shall be abomination." Sabbath observance is found in the Torah. By obeying Torah you are placing yourself in a position to have your prayers answered. What is frightening is that those who turn from Torah, i.e do not remember the Sabbath, their prayers are an abomination to YHWH. The Hebrew word translated "abomination" is toevah. It means morally disgusting, things which belong to the worship of idols, and the idols themselves. Other things associated with this word are homosexuality, perversions, eating unclean animals, and engaging in occult activities. Disregard of the Sabbath is a very serious matter. Consider Deuteronomy 28:1-14. The Word describes the blessings for those who "diligently obey the voice of YHWH your Elohim, to guard to do all His commands...." There is a blessing for obedience and a curse for disobedience. Your choice? The Scriptures state clearly that when we show our faith by works, YHWH will hear our prayers. Isaiah 58:9 says: "Then shall you call, and YHWH shall answer; you shall cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity...." Answered prayer and obedience to Torah are connected. Notice this is not about entering into relationship with YHWH, this is about living a set apart life. One should be very wary about a community of believers that does not observe the Sabbath. The Word says that even their prayers are an abomination to YHWH. If you are lacking the blessing in your life, or your prayers are going unanswered, I would start with Sabbath observance. And, I would start this week.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sabbath Observance Part 3

We have seen in Part 1, that YHWH commanded the Sabbath to be kept. In Part 2, we saw that Yeshua kept the Sabbath and did not change it. Today, we look at how the Sabbath should be kept. The following list of ways to keep the Sabbath are general. There is no doubt that when applying strict scriptural rules to modern society, there can be legitimate differences of opinions. For example, we are not to strike a fire on the Sabbath. Does that include the spark in your automobile's motor when you turn it on? Frankly, I am not sure. I would suggest that people allow their conscious to be their guide when these types of issues are presented. I believe the below list to be very Biblical: 1. You do not do your own business, if possible. 2. Call the Sabbath a delight: You call the Sabbath a delight and make it a delight. This requires preparation. I know that for my family that includes obtaining some challah bread, getting candles, kosher wine for the adults and grape juice for the children, and the setting of the table. Remember that the Sabbath is to be an intermission. Prepare for the day. Plan out how you will spend time in prayer and study. It begins on Friday evening. Our family lights the candles at the correct time (this blog informs the readers for the start and finish times for all Sabbaths). My wife opens the service, I bless her, then the children are blessed, we speak to the angels, we wash our hands, thanks is given for the wine and bread, and I read some psalms. We have a dinner that follows. It is a great way to begin the Sabbath. 3. Call the Sabbath the Set Apart Day of Yahweh (YHWH): Do not do any personal work. Think of others and focus on the study of YHWH's Word. Do your best to excuse yourself from business phone calls. Some professions are required to be available seven days a week, but try to avoid them if they can be postponed to the first day of the week (i.e. Sun-Day). 4. Do not do your own ways. Do not speak worthless words, and of course do not engage in evil speaking of others. Try to avoid politics and other worldly pursuits. Look for an opportunity to be of service to others. If you keep the Sabbath, you may appear odd to others. Let me tell you what it really is: you are living a set apart life. You are living a set apart life to YHWH. Next, we shall see the blessing that comes from remembering the Sabbath.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sabbath Observance Part 2

What is the New Testament Sabbath? Did Yeshua (Jesus) change the Sabbath? 1 Peter 2:21 says: "For even hereunto were ye called: because Messiah also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps...." What steps ought we to follow? Luke 4:16 says: "And Yeshua came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read." If you claim to be a disciple of Yeshua, you should follow His custom. His custom was to worship on the Sabbath. What is your custom? Did Yeshua change the Sabbath? Yeshua had been executed on the stake. Afterwards, Luke 23:56 describes the actions of His followers: "And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment." The followers of Yeshua rested on the Sabbath. This is strong evidence that Yeshua did not teach a different sabbath. Yeshua's followers would not even break the Sabbath day to visit His tomb! Psalm 111:7-8 says: "The works of Your hands are truth and judgment; all Your commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness." How long are the laws of YHWH to last? They are for ever and ever. When the Messiah predicted a time of great trouble, He said in Matthew 24:20-22: "But pray that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." If the Sabbath had been done away with or would be done away some time in the future, what difference would it make if the flight took part on the Sabbath? The only reasonable and logical conclusion is that Yeshua did not do away with the Sabbath during His physical time on earth and He did not anticipate it being done away with in the future. YHWH has commanded that the Sabbath be remembered. It is to be kept. While we may disagree on how it should be kept, like Yeshua and the Pharisees, we should be obedient to the law of YHWH and observe the Sabbath. Over the next few days, we shall examine how the Sabbath was changed, how to keep the Sabbath, and the blessings of the Sabbath.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sabbath Observance Part 1

I wanted to write about the issue of Sabbath observance. In the Hebrew Scriptures, commonly referred to as the Old Covenant, the Ten Commandments were given to Moses. Exodus 20:8-11 says: "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But 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 the seventh day: wherefore YHWH blessed the sabbath day, and set it apart." The word "sabbath" is the Hebrew word shabbath. The word means intermission. It is a time to cease from the cares and attention that the world demands, and focus on YHWH. It is a time when we say, "Stop world, I'm taking a day off to honor YHWH." It is an intermission for us establised by YHWH. Yeshua remembered the Sabbath. Luke 4:16 says: "And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read." Yeshua was a sabbath keeper. I read the following on a blog that argued that Sabbath keeping was not required for New Testament believers: "All of the Ten Commandments were reinstated in the New Testament with only one exception, the one dealing with the Saturday Sabbath Day being kept holy." Further the writer explains: "If the Saturday Sabbath command as given to Israel is still in effect, then the Lord Jesus commanded a person to sin by breaking it: 'Sir,' the invalid replied, 'I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.' Then Jesus said to him, 'Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.' At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked. The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, and so the Jews said to the man who had been healed, 'It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.' But he replied, 'The man who made me well said to me, Pick up your mat and walk ' (John 5:7-11). The Lord Jesus commanded that invalid, on a Sabbath, to pick up his mat and walk with it to be healed. Hence, this would constitute 'work,' according to the Old Testament Sabbath command. Since the Lord of the Sabbath could NEVER command a person to sin, we, thereby know that Christians today are NOT under this same Sabbath command as given to Israel in Ex. 20:8-11, which reads: 'Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (Ex. 20:8-11).'" This blog writer is in error. There is no doubt that Yeshua and the Pharisees had some issues about Sabbath observance. However, the issue was never whether one should keep the Sabbath, but how to keep the Sabbath. You will not find any discussion about whether it was necessary to keep Sabbath. The issue is how. YHWH gave Moses the Ten Commandments which included Sabbath observance. Men have changed YHWH's clear command and said it is not necessary. To keep the Sabbath honors YHWH. Why would one not want to honor the true Elohim who is YHWH? Sabbath observance is a command. It is sin to violate YHWH's command. You can choose YHWH's ways or man's ways. Later we will study the change from Sabbath worship to Sunday worship. For today, know that YHWH has made a command. You can agree, disagree, or ignore, but it doesn't change the word of YHWH.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The "New" Covenant Part 4

Over the last several days, we have studied the words new, torah, and covenant in an effort to understand what YHWH is referring to in Jeremiah 31:31-33"Behold, the days come, saith YHWH, that I will make a new (actually "renewed") covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the YHWH: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith YHWH, I will put my torah in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people." At the time the covenant was given at Mt. Sinai, the children of Israel were already redeemed, i.e delivered from the bondage of Egypt. The term "salvation" means something different to Jews and Gentiles. If you ask a Jew does he want to be saved, his response will most likely be, "From what? Am I in danger?" The Jews are not really concerned about the life to come. In "The Ethics of the Fathers," it states: "All Israel has a share in the World to Come...." They have a promise that they will have a place in the world to come. Jews follow YHWH not to get some reward, but to demonstrate their love for the One that Created them and the world. Gentiles focus on the world to come. Salvation is more future to the Gentile. Jews concentrate more on the now.

Gentile Christians sometimes teach that Jews were saved by the law and Christians are saved by grace. This is an untrue doctrine. As we have previously seen, the Hebrews did not receive the torah until after they were delivered. Think about Abram and how he became righteous. It was by faith and not by the law. What did Abram have faith in to be declared righteous? Was it belief in some theological teaching? No, he had faith that when YHWH said he was going to be a father in his old age, that he would. The whole idea that Jews are saved by law and Christians by grace is a product of the movement in the 4TH Century to sever the followers of Yeshua from the Hebraic roots of the faith. It was a concentrated effort to eliminate the Jewishness of Yeshua from the Christian faith. Sometime read just the red letters from the gospels. Hear what Yeshua actually taught as opposed to what was taught about Him later. Consider Matthew 25: 32-46. The sheep and the goats are divided before they receive their eternal reward or punishment. What is the basis of the decision? Was it the prayer said at the altar, i.e. repeat after me. Was it a correct belief in the Trinity or the correct mode of baptism? No, it was how they treated other people in time of need.

When someone says that they are a "New Covenant" Christian, ask them is the torah written on their heart. Notice that this discussion of the New Covenant is not really about "getting saved." It is about YHWH instructing His people how they should live to bring the most esteem to His name. It is not obedience to get in the family of YHWH; it is obedience because I am in the family of YHWH. But what about salvation? That is easy. Salvation is all YHWH's grace extended to man and man's faith in His words. Yeshua is the first born from the dead and YHWH's Son. How do I know? Because I have faith in the Word of YHWH.

Monday, April 16, 2012

The "New" Covenant Part 3

We have examined the words new and torah in an effort to determine what the "New Covenant" really means. Today, we will look at the word "covenant." The Hebrew word translated covenant in Jeremiah 31:31 is berit. According to the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, between nations, the word refers to a treaty or alliance of friendship. Between individuals, it means a pledge or agreement. Between a monarch and subjects, it is a constitution. Between God and an individual, it means a covenant accompanied by signs, sacrifices, and a solemn oath that sealed the relationship with promises of blessing for keeping the covenant and curses for breaking it. YHWH has said that He is going to write the terms of His covenant, i.e. the torah, on the hearts of his people. Jeremiah 31:33 states: "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith YHWH, I will put my torah in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people." YHWH wants His people to be obedient to the way He wants them to live their lives.

There are blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. Every parent understands this principle. If our children obey us, we are more likely to bless them. It is unusual that a blessing follows disobedience. Now consider that most all churches have thrown out torah obedience as a requirement. The torah tells us when, how, and where we are to worship. YHWH has determined how He wants His people to worship Him. Instead of following the torah, the church has in effect said, "No, God. We will give you Christmas and Easter, but not your Biblical feasts." We know that Yeshua spent forty days with His disciples after the resurrection. Whatever He taught them, we know that it didn't include Christmas or Easter. How do we know? We know because the early church (actually synagogue) did not celebrate Christmas or Easter. They celebrated Pesach (Passover), the Feast of Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah), and Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost). We know that Yeshua did not cease teaching the dietary rules. How do we know? We know because over a decade has passed when Kefa (Peter)has a vision in Acts 10 about clean and unclean animals. Kefa says in Acts 10:14: But Kefa said, Not so, Adonai; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean." (Note: the vision is not about food, it is about people.)Man should not dictate to YHWH how He is to be worshipped. Yet, that is exactly what the church has done.

The New Covenant is about a renewal of YHWH's instructions to His people being written on their hearts. He has made an oath to His people. He is our Elohim (Hebrew for "mighty one" and is usually translated "God" in English bibles). As His people, we owe Him obedience. We should not substitute our ideas about worship for His. If we want the blessings, we need to obey and we cannot obey if we disregard His instructions to us. That is being a New Covenant believer.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The "New" Covenant Part 2

Yesterday, we looked at the word "new." Today, we are going to focus on the word torah. Jeremiah 31:33 states: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith YHWH, I will put my torah in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people." We have seen that YHWH did not change the torah, only its location. It was on tablets of stone, but in the New Covenant it is written on the hearts of His followers. Some misunderstand the nature of torah. It is error to teach that the torah was the basis of salvation to those under the Old Covenant. Some contend that the Jews were saved by the works of the law. They claim that salvation came through obedience to the law of YHWH. Torah comes from yarah. Its meaning is instruction, doctrine, regulation, direction, and statute. The essential meaning is teaching whether it is the wise man instructing his son or Elohim instructing Israel. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states: "The wise give insight into all aspects of life so that the young may know how to conduct themselves and to live a long blessed life. So too God, motivated by love, reveals to man basic insight into how to live with each other and how to approach God. Through the law God shows his interest in all aspects of man's life which is to be lived under his direction and care." The torah is YHWH's method of teaching His people how to live. YHWH expected His covenant people to live lives that were set apart and different from the surrounding nations.

Which came first: salvation and deliverance from Egypt or the torah? We all know that the children of Israel were saved from the bondage of Egypt prior to receiving the torah. The torah had nothing to do with the Hebrews deliverance from Egypt. YHWH made a covenant with His people prior to the torah being given. As the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states: "Covenant precedes law; and the law was given only to the nation which had entered into covenant with God.... The law specifically is the stipulations of the covenant." Therefore, to be clear, YHWH had accepted the Jews as His covenant people. He agreed to be their Elohim and they agreed to do as He said. What YHWH said was the torah.

Joshua 1:8 says in the King James Version version: "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success." This verse promises success and prosperity to those that keep the law in their mouths, meditate on it, and obey it. The Hebrew word translated law is torah. To dismiss torah is to be disobedient to YHWH's instruction. To disregard His teachings is to dishonor Him. If your community of believers are among those that dismiss torah, you should carefully consider the implications. This is more than just eating right. It goes to the core of the relationship with YHWH.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The "New" Covenant Part 1

How many times have you heard someone proclaim, "I'm a New Covenant Christian." Without endorsing the term, for a moment let us examine such a claim. Essentially, the term is used to describe someone that believes in Jesus Christ. The statements of the Apostle's Creed are mentally assented to:
1. "I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
2. And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:
3. Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:
4. Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:
5. The third day he rose again from the dead:
6. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:
7. From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:
8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:
9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:
10. The forgiveness of sins:
1l. The resurrection of the body:
12. And the life everlasting. Amen."

However, what is YHWH's definition of the "New Covenant?" Where is the new covenant first expressed specifically? Consider Jeremiah 31:31: "Behold, the days come, saith the YHWH, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah..." Who does YHWH state the new covenant is to be with? Does He extend it to the nations, i.e. the Gentiles? The passage is clear that the new covenant is between YHWH and the houses of Israel and Judah. One day I was speaking with a member of the Jehovah Witnesses sect. He was trying to convert me to his faith. I asked him to open his Bible to Jeremiah 31:31. I asked him to read the verse. I then asked him, "Which house are you in, Israel or Judah?" He looked at me. He looked at the passage. He looked at me again and said, "I don't know." I suggested he should find out.

What really is the "New Covenant?" The word "new" is the Hebrew word hadash . It means to renew or repair. The RSV Bible translates it also as restore. Every month we have a new moon. Do you think it is really a new moon, or one that is part of a fresh cycle? What is YHWH saying in verse 31? Jeremiah 31:33 says: "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith YHWH, I will put my Torah in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people." The new covenant changes where the Torah is to be written, but not the terms of the Torah. Do not think of Torah as law; instead, think of it as instruction or guidance. YHWH is not changing His instruction to His people only the location of the instruction. The Torah has moved from the tablets of stone to the hearts of His children. Verse 31 is about movement, and not the substance of Torah.