Thursday, May 31, 2012

Becoming an Apostle

Today we will look at Mark 6:7: "And Yeshua summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits...." You can't give what you don't possess. Yeshua was the master over unclean spirits and thus, was able through the spoken word to place the twelve over the spirits also. However, there is no Greek word for authority in the text. It is implied. What Yeshua actually does is place the twelve over the unclean spirits. This is good support for the belief that our enemy is beneath our feet. Yeshua teaches that He is over unclean spirits and so are those to whom He elevates. This is the point to grasp; Yeshua elevates the twelve. It is not some token designation. The twelve have actual power over the spirits because they have been placed above them.

The twelve are sent. The Greek word for "sent" is apostello and it means to order (one) to go to a place appointed. This is where we get the word "apostle." Today, people call themselves "apostles" as if that somehow makes them more important. If Elohim directs you to the grocery store to share the good news with someone, then you are an apostle. You have been sent to a specific place. There are many apostles today because many people are being sent by Elohim to specific places. Sometimes, we don't like where we are sent. That is not the issue; the issue is to go where you are sent.

Today, recognize that you are a candidate to be an apostle, i.e. you are a candidate to being sent somewhere. This does make you more special than one who is not sent today because they might be sent tomorrow. It is important that you don't send yourself. The apostle is one who is sent by someone else. We all need to approach each day with anticipation that Elohim might send us to a place today. Are you ready? More importantly, are you willing?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Repost: Was Jesus A Christian? Part 5

The fifth and final difference reviewed would be that Jesus kept the Torah and the modern Christian church does not. Jesus said: "Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (RSV) As explained by David Bivin and Roy Blizzard, Jr. in the work, Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus:

“Destroy” and “fulfil” are technical terms used in rabbinic argumentation. When a sage felt that a colleague had misinterpreted a passage of Scripture, he would say, ‘You are destroying the Law!’ Needless to say, in most cases his colleagues strongly disagreed. What was ‘destroying the Law’ for one sage, was ‘fulfilling the Law’ (correctly interpreting Scripture) for another.”
When one understands the Hebrew idioms, Jesus’ words are seen in a light contrary to the doctrinal position of many in the Christian church. Today, law and grace are seen as two separate and distinct dispensations. It is argued that the Jews have law and the Christians have grace. While a debate on the merits of this perspective is outside the scope of this work, it is sufficient to acknowledge that the religion of Jesus upheld the Law of God. The religion of Jesus was based on the Torah. He came not to misinterpret the commands of God, but to correctly tell His people how they should live. The question must be asked, if the church rejects the Torah, are they “His people”?

This paper has demonstrated that the religion of Jesus Christ is far removed from the practices of modern day Christianity. If a person presented themselves for membership in your church and he worshipped on the Sabbath, celebrated the Biblical feasts, was wearing a tallit with tzitzit on it with tefillin on his arm and forehead, ate a kosher diet, and believed that the Torah was still a requirement, what would be the result? I submit that the church committee would probably decline the application for membership. Does that concern you? I believe it should. Perhaps it is time for us to follow the words of the Apostle Paul: Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? --unless indeed you are disqualified. Whose faith are you in if you are a member of a modern “Christian” church??

On further reflection, maybe the answer to the question is obvious.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Repost: Was Jesus A Christian? Part 4

A fourth difference can be observed in the Jewish dress as worn by Jesus. Jesus was a Torah observant Jewish rabbi and dressed as one. One of the most important aspects of His dress was His tallit with its tzitzit. How do we know that Jesus dressed as a Jew? He was recognized by the woman at the well of Samaria by His outward appearance. The outer garment was called himation in Greek, pallium in Latin, and in Hebrew it was first termed adderet or me’il. At some later time, it came to be called tallit. While the tallit was not unique to Israel, the fringes on the borders, known as tzitzit, were. These were worn in obedience to Numbers 15:38: "Speak to the people of Israel, and bid them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put upon the tassel of each corner a cord of blue….” (RSV) In addition, in order to fulfill the law, Jesus would have worn tefillin. Tefillin were two leather pouches which contained the Word of God and were bound to the arm and forehead in obedience to Exodus 13:9, 16 and Deuteronomy 6:6-8 and 11:18. Another indication of Jesus’ Hebraic dress is that it was a requirement of the Torah. Jews were commanded to wear tzitzit and tefillin. Torah observance required a certain dress to set Israel apart from the nations so that God might use them to reach the world.

It is of interest to note that some Bible translations arguably seek to conceal the Jewish dress of Jesus. In Matthew 9, the story is told of the woman with the issue of blood that sought to touch the hem of his garment. The Greek word for “hem” is kraspedon and the Greek word for “garment” is himation. When referring to Jesus, the translators of the NIV used the phrase, “touch his cloak.” However, in Matthew 23:5 when Jesus is pronouncing seven woes on the Pharisees, the same Greek words are translated: “the tassels on their garments.” Is there a valid reason for the translators to interpret the phrases differently? It would seem that the translators did not have any difficulty identifying the Jewish dress when it applied to the Pharisees but sought to conceal the true dress of Jesus.

The point to be remembered is that the modern Christian church does not adhere to the dress commandments contained in the Torah as referenced above. What would be the reaction in the church today, if it was suggested that members honor the Exodus and Deuteronomy passages? The response would most likely be that we are not required to do so because those commands were for the Jews and we are not Jewish. Essentially that would be my point; Jesus was Jewish and the church has departed from its Jewish roots and represents an institution that does not follow its purported leader.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Repost: Was Jesus A Christian Part 3

A third difference is found in the diet of Jesus when He walked the earth. The law prescribed a kosher diet that forbade the eating of certain types of animals, fish, and fowl. The argument referenced above concerning the obedience to the feasts is applicable to Jesus’ obeying the food laws. Certainly, Jesus would not have disobeyed a command from His Father. It is of interest that in approximately A.D.41, Peter told the Lord in the vision concerning clean and unclean animals: But Peter said, "No, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean." (RSV) Christ had been crucified approximately ten years earlier and Peter was still following the dietary laws from Leviticus. Since Peter had never eaten unclean food, this would be a compelling argument that while he was with Jesus, no unclean foods were consumed.

In the modern church, to mention the dietary laws would invoke allegations of legalism. Many churches have specific gatherings around food that Jesus would never touch. How many “pig roasts” or “clam bakes” take place in the church today? Jesus might attend, but would He eat the pork or the shell fish? From the Bible, we can ascertain some portions of Jesus diet: He had broiled fish and honeycomb after the resurrection, bread and wine at the Last Supper, wine at the wedding at Cana, and bread and fish at the feeding of the multitudes. The point is not to debate the continuance of the dietary laws, but to acknowledge that the practices of Jesus and the modern church are dissimilar.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Repost: Was Jesus A Christian Part 2

The second difference is that Jesus honored and celebrated the Biblical feasts, while the Christian church celebrates Christmas and Easter. Leviticus 23 sets forth the following as the Lord’s Sabbath and appointed feasts which are to be proclaimed :
1.The Sabbath;
2.The Passover and Unleavened Bread;
3.First fruits;
4.Feast of Weeks;
5.Feast of Trumpets;
6.Day of Atonement;
7.Feast of Tabernacles;

Since Jesus did not come to destroy the law but to fulfill it, it would seem difficult to contend that Jesus disobeyed a direct commandment from His Father. Indeed, it would seem odd that Jesus who proclaimed that He did what He saw the Father doing, would suddenly cease being obedient regarding the feasts. John instructs us that to transgress the law is sin. Therefore, if Jesus remained sinless, He must have obeyed the law of God regarding the feasts.

Generally, the names of the feasts listed above are rarely mentioned in the Christian church much less proclaimed. In their place, the modern church has embraced Christmas and Easter, both with acknowledged pagan connections. Jesus had ample opportunity to instruct His disciples to celebrate His birth, but He did not. Further, in the forty days before His ascension, He had the opportunity to teach that His resurrection was to be celebrated in place of Passover but there is no record of such instruction. The point is that Jesus and the church do not celebrate the same holidays or feasts.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Repost: Was Jesus A Christian? Part 1

The answer to the question presented may at first seem obvious. However, upon closer scrutiny, a problem becomes apparent. There is a difference between how Jesus worshipped God and how the modern Christian church worships God. These differences in practice should cause the contemporary church to examine its methods and beliefs. If Christianity centers it faith and practice upon the teachings of Jesus Christ, should it not resemble its leader? Moreover, a consideration of the religion of the Jewish carpenter from Nazareth confronts us with a most unsettling question: Is Jesus Christ the founder of Christianity? If He isn’t, then who is? In an effort to direct the inquirer, this paper addresses five differences between the religious practices of Jesus of Nazareth and the modern church. The reader should be prepared to examine his “Christianity” in light of the principles and practices of the Jewish rabbi called Jesus.

The first difference is that while the contemporary church worships God on Sunday, Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Luke 4:16 says: And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read…. (Emphasis supplied) (RSV) In fact, many if not most of the miracles performed by Jesus were done on the Sabbath. In comparison, the modern day church believes that the day of worship was changed from the Sabbath to Sunday. One online Christian resource explains:

Still others Christians would say that we no longer observe the Jewish sabbath, but worship instead on Sunday, a distinctively Christian holy day. They argue that the early church very soon began meeting on Sunday in honor of the resurrection of Jesus, which took place on the first day of the week.

It is not the purpose of this work to explore the reason for the change or the timing of the change as there are many resources available for those who seek to know the historical truth. It is sufficient to state that according to Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, the day of worship began to change around A.D. 115. The point is that Jesus did not worship on the first day of the week; He worshipped God on the Sabbath.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Repost: Jesus Did Not 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.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Importance of Names Part 3

Leviticus 24:16 says: "And he who blasphemes the Name of YHWH shall certainly be put to death, and all the congregation certainly stone him, the stranger as well as the native. When he blasphemes the Name, he is put to death." (ISR) What is the Name? The Name is YHWH. How serious is the Creator about His Name? Serious enough to command death to the one who blasphemes it. What does blaspheme mean? The Hebrew word is naqav and it means to puncture, bore a hole, or to pierce. The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament describes the word as follows: "Elsewhere, Haggai (1:6) speaks figuratively of work which fails to honor the Lord, saying that the wages earned have been placed into a bag with holes." To blaspheme is to fail to honor the Name. Might I suggest, that to change the Name is to fail to give it the honor it deserves?

YHWH has placed great emphasis on His Name and the Christian church for the most part ignores the Name. How many times in the last month have you heard a follower of Yeshua refer to the true Name of the Creator? Does Leviticus 24:16 still apply? Nothing is more disrespectful than to call someone by a name that is not his or her name. It is insulting. The reader of the Hebrew Scriptures has been warned not to blaspheme the Name. The Creator, our Father in heaven, has a Name. It is mentioned over 6,823 times in Scripture. Our Creator has declared His Name in Scripture as seen in the following verse: "I am YHWH, that is My name; and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images. (HRV Isaiah 42:8)If you call Him by another name, does that not cause you to fear the consequences of disobedience?

His Name is YHWH. It is not Lord, God, Jesus, Allah, or any other expression. If we want His blessings and not the curses, we should start with getting the Name right. Repeat the following: "I will not blaspheme the Name. His Name is YHWH. I will not give praise to graven images or man made idols. I will bless the Name of YHWH and ask Him to return blessings to me for His Name's sake."

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Importance of Names Part 2

The name of our Heavenly Father is YHWH, commonly referred to as Yahweh. If you look at the Hebrew Scriptures, references to the Heavenly Father are four Hebrew letters: Yud, Hey, Vav, Hey. This name occurs about 6800 times in the Hebrew Bible. Since the Name Yud Hey Vav Hey was considered too sacred to be pronounced by Jews, ADONAI was substituted in its place. In written texts, like the Bible, the vowel points of ADONAI were inserted under the consonants Yud Hey Vav Hey to remind readers to articulate ADONAI instead of Yud Hey Vav Hey. The incorrect name JEHOVAH arose from a Christian lack of understanding of this Jewish custom. There is a popular song that says: "there is no God like Jehovah." I agree; there isn't. Remember that there was no "J" in Biblical Hebrew. Most all English translations translate Yud Hey Vav Hey as LORD. The question is, is this an acceptable name for our Heavenly Father? The answer is no! I suggest that to substitute LORD for YHWH is a violation of Scripture. First, consider Exodus 20: 7: "You do not bring the Name of YHWH your Elohim to naught, for YHWH does not leave the one unpunished who brings His Name to naught." (ISR) If you change His Name you are bringing dishonor to Him and His Name to naught. Who is man to change the Name of the Father? Second, consider Deuteronomy 4:2: "Do not add to the Word which I command you, and do not take away from it, so as to guard the commands of YHWH your Elohim which I am commanding you." (ISR)To change His Name transgresses this commandment. You are adding a name instead of honoring the true Name. Third, "lord" is not an innocent title. You can trace it back to a Roman house-deity. Lord comes from the old English spelling of "Lard" which comes from "Lar/Larth Lares," Estruscan and Roman deities associated with Sun-worship. Lares was the guardian spirit of the house and fields. The Greek word "Kurios" was originally a title for the Greek and Roman Sun-deity "Helios" and was called "The Kurios (Lord) of Heaven and Earth." The title "Lord" was eventually applied to all heathen deities and sadly to YHWH in most English Bibles. If you believe that there is a Name that brings salvation, do you want to call on the original true name,or a substitute with pagan roots? How serious do you think the Creator of the world, the One that is your Heavenly Father, feels about His Name? Who do you think would be behind a plot to take His true Name away from His people? There is a Name for our Heavenly Father and it is YHWH, i.e. Yahweh. Do not bring it to naught. There are ramifications.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Importance of Names Part 1

The Hebrew word for name is shem. The concept of personal names in the Hebrew Scriptures often included existence, character, and reputation. Your name revealed something about you. It was not just a handle to be identified apart from someone else. "To cut off the name" meant to liquidate the person himself. When parents chose a name for a child it was often descriptive of their wishes or expectations for the personality that was to mature. If we are going to pray to "God", we should be addressing Him by His Name. If there is a name that brings salvation, we need to know it. Over the next few blog posts, we will look at names. Today, we start with Yahweh. Exodus 20:2 says: "I am Yahweh your Heavenly Father Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." This is the First Commandment. The word for our Father is not LORD or God. It is Yahweh, the covenant name of our Heavenly Father. The next verse tells us who not to worship: Exodus 20:3: Thou shalt have no other gods before me." (KJV) The Hebrew word translated "other" is acherand it means "strange, or hinder; ones left behind." The word translated "before" is al paneh. It means against. With this understanding of Hebrew, Exodus 20:3 should have read: "You shall have no hinder gods at all, they are against me." Yahweh was not saying He was a God; instead, He was stating that His followers were not to have any Gods at all! Yahweh is jealous. He is not a pagan god. He is our Heavenly Father. We need to investigate the language the Scriptures were written in and not rely on English translations. Names do change when they are translated. My name is Barry. If I am speaking in Spanish to someone and I want to introduce myself, I would say: "Mi nombre es Barry." Does any of this matter? Does He really care? The short answer is yes. If we are to pray to our Heavenly Father, we should address Him by His name and not substitute pagan references to deities. There is much idolatry and pagan practice in what is called the church. We will be attempting to expose those pagan practices. We shall be looking at the true meanings of Lord, God, and Jesus over the next few days. Until then, remember that Yahweh is your Father. It is He who created the world with His words. It is He that gives you your next breath. It is to Yahweh that we should be giving thanks.