Facing up to Evil

February 4th, 2015

There is a scene from the movie Schindler’s List that perhaps says more about human nature, and how people throughout the centuries have reacted to Evil than most of us would like to admit. Because it still applies.

A number of Jewish women in a WW II concentration camp are talking quietly in their barracks, when a new arrival, an old woman, tells them, “I have heard a terrible story, of a place called “Auschwitz.” She recounts a now-familiar story of women stripped naked, and then herded into the gas chambers for their execution. The camera pans the faces of the stunned listeners. Then one of the protagonists of the story, a woman who has seen her family violently taken from their homes, her family separated, and her children killed, looks into our eyes, and says earnestly, “Oh, zat is ZOH horrible. I cannot believe zey vud do ANYTHING zoh horrible!”

My own reaction is different, from the hindsight of history. I want to scream at the screen, “For cryin’ out loud, what is it gonna take?” As if to bring home the point, the movie shows us that the next day, those women are put on the train to Auschwitz, and their deaths.

We are sometimes tempted to believe we know better now. And that, furthermore, it “could never happen here.” Those who have been watching the news, and can read both history and Scripture, know better:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jer. 17:9)

There absolutely is such a thing as Evil. And whether we like it or not, whether we admit it or would rather deny the Truth, it still works in the world.

Evil men really do wax worse and worse. The love of money – even though what passes for currency today is hardly what the Bible calls it – is still at the root. And when it can be printed literally without limit, so are the deceptions, and the consequences. But the inevitable debt collapse draws nearer day by day. And since that total debt, and the even more incredible derivative pyramid that has been built upon it, are the biggest in human history, so will be the repercussions.

And just as most of us cannot believe anyone could be so horrible as to commit mass murder, we are even less willing to believe that Evil would willingly sacrifice millions of people, or even billions of them in the pursuit of wealth and power.

Sadly, the truth is far worse. From the authors of the UN ‘Agenda 21′ blueprint, to self-proclaimed ‘environmentalists,’ there are vasts numbers of insiders who truly believe that “every means necessary” are justified in order to cut the world’s population to a tiny fraction of what it already is. That means billions must die. Somebody else, of course, and they, like other worshipers of death before them, are charged with making it happen.

Those with a Biblical world-view will understand that such a mentality can be described in many ways, but “utterly satanic”, is close to the top of that list.

The wheels are already in motion. The judgment of YHVH is not always immediate, in a way that respects our human-scale reckoning of time, but it is inevitable. If the ‘times and seasons’ leading to the prophetic climax of Scripture were to be described as being played on a chess board, we appear to be nearing the end game.

Which is why it is important for us to KNOW these times and seasons. Not only are we told repeatedly to “fear not,” to stand, to overcome, and to be counted worthy to escape the things we can now see coming – we should be ‘watchmen on the wall,’ as well. Part of the solution, in other words, rather than part of the problem.

But if we are understandably reluctant even to ADMIT the degree of Evil in the world today, facing up to it is clearly harder.

That is why a study of the story of the Exodus is so helpful. The sons of Israel, too, were in bondage, and faced a mighty empire. And much like the face of Evil today, which sees itself as “above the law”, virtually godlike in power and self-importance, willing to order murder, and certainly seems to echo the sentiment of Pharaoh so as to say, “Who is this ‘Yahuah’ ? I know Him NOT!”

…they are playing chess against the Master Himself.

In Pharaoh’s final moves, he is lured into a deadly trap, while consumed with a blood lust that he seems convinced will lead to the destruction of those who have vexed him. He is outplayed…and in such a way that Scripture declares that even the Egyptians will “know that I AM YHVH.”

The verses that have become known as the “Song of Moses” reveal an understanding that I contend is vital to our ability to “face up to Evil:”

YHVH is a man of war: YHVH is His Name. (Exodus 15:3)

The sages explain that those words carry more than a casual reading might imply. YHVH is a MASTER of war. But this might even be one of those occasions where a colloquial English rendering might be more instructive than the direct translation of the original Hebrew.

Try it this way:

“He’s da MAN!!! When it comes to making war – He IS the Master.”

Pharaoh was playing chess way out of his league. And so are those today who think they can outmaneuver THE ‘Master of war.’

That should be comforting for those of us who know Him, and seek to serve Him. So should the fact that the very same segment of Scripture which proves that point refers to Him as “YHVH Nissi”, meaning our “Banner”, or “Standard” and ALSO as Yahuah Rapha, our Healer.

The admonition that Moses gave to the people of Israel who saw the army of Pharaoh bearing down on them still applies, too:

“Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of YHVH…”

Remember, though, that they still had to WALK through the waters themselves.

Parsha “Vaera” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

January 20th, 2015

Join Mark Call for two teachings on this week’s Torah portion, “Vaera” (Exodus 6-9).

During the Erev Shabbat teaching, (Friday evening) Mark again covers the essential aspects of the story, from “<em>Ani YHVH</em>” and what that declaration means, and the subsequent story will emphasize, to through the first seven plagues.

SSM Vaera 2015

The longer teaching from Shabbat is a bit different than usual. While always careful to distinguish between “what is Written”, and what might be called “connecting the dots,” sometimes a little “<em>Markology</em>” is apropos. Because this portion is <strong>SO </strong>connected to our natural concern about what is happening now, and how that might relate to plagues to come, this is the week for it. When the “Greater Exodus” begins, will we recognize the pattern?

“Plagues, Parallels, and Prophecy”  – Vaera 2015

Parsha “Shemot” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

January 10th, 2015

Join Mark Call for two teachings on this week’s Torah portion, “Shemot” (Exodus 1-5).

During the Erev Shabbat teaching, (Friday evening) Mark introduces the new Book, and the importance of the “Names” theme; no, it’s not just the first few verses.

SSM Shemot 2015

The longer teaching from Shabbat, however, is really one that deserves an introduction:

Yes, buckle up!

Not only is this parsha an unequivocal rejection of the “Romans 13 Lie” taught by far too many 501c(3) faith-based Caesar-chartered corporate churches of another god — it’s a powerful refutation of what the Unholy New World Church-State Partnership is doing right now to a people who have forgotten His Written Truth.

Shemot 2015 — “Names, Character, and Choice of Law”

 

Torah Teachings — Podcasts on-line

January 6th, 2015

All of Mark Call’s collected Torah teachings for 2014 are now available on-line in MP3 format at WayToZion:

www.waytozion.org/teachings/mark_call/2014

 

Podcasts for teachings from earlier years follow a similar format, and can be found via this link as well:

www.waytozion.org/teachings/mark_call/mcall.htm

 

Parsha “Vayechi” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

January 6th, 2015

Join Mark Call for two teachings on this week’s Torah portion, “Vayechi.” (Genesis 47:28 to the end).

During the Erev Shabbat teaching, (Friday evening) Mark again covers the entire parsha — from the blessings over all the tribes of Israel through the eeaths of Jacob and then Joseph.

Shabbat Shalom Mesa – Parsha ‘Vayechi’ 2015

The longer teaching from Shabbat takes off from the framework of the parsha into “uncharted territory”, perhaps even a bit more than usual!

Yes – there’s a lot going on as the world enters a new secular year. And perhaps the world’s focus on “unity” — even in light of prophecies that (like Ezekiel’s ‘two sticks’) point in that direction — is NOT the right answer for us today.

Don’t miss this one:

Vayechi – and What’s Different About the NEXT Exodus?

Xmas Post-script

January 1st, 2015

Sometimes the Truth is easier to deal with AFTER an event — particularly after a particularly emotional event! — than it is in the “heat of the moment.”

That is no doubt what many people have learned when it comes to certain “holidays“.  And that is perhaps nowhere more obvious than when it comes to Xmas.

More and more people have come to realize that “Jesus” could not have been born in the depth of winter (there weren’t any “shepherds watching over their flocks by night” then) and that He was almost certainly born during the Feast of Tabernacles, or “booths” (not coincidentally, that Hebrew word “suka” for a temporary structure sometimes gets rendered as “manger”  in the Olde English).  Instead, it was the pagan sun-god, Mithras, Sol Invictus, et al, that was always said to be “re-born” on December the 25th…just after the winter solstice.   Some even now know Xmas traditions owe far more to Saturnalia than anything remotely Scriptural, and that Jeremiah chapter 10 doesn’t seem too keen on Xmas trees, either.

But the problem has always been that people often love the “warm fuzzy feelings” associated with a “holiday” than they really care about what the Bible might really have to say about it.  Especially when they don’t want to hear the answer.

And so instead, people often try to change the subject, and sidestep the issue.  Better still, make it into an argument about something else, and then say, “can’t we all just get ALONG?”   Did you hear the argument again this year about  why it’s so IMPORTANT to say “Merry Christmas” rather than something less “polarizing” like “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings”?  As if the ultimate irony was no longer true:  that the pagans had “christmas” first.

No – it’s far more important, some claim, that we Believers be “unified” about a pagan so-called holy day, even if we really know better.   And regardless of what the Bible says.

Is “unity” more important than obedience to the King and Master we claim to honor?

So, now that the emotion and stress and even commercial frenzy is over, perhaps we can do a “Christmas post-mortem” on what the Truth really is about pagan forms of worship, and whether we should participate or not.  Maybe we can even take a look at what the Savior we claim to honor really Wrote — especially if He is the “Word Made Flesh”.

Let’s start with Deuteronomy chapter 7, and remember that the Roman Catholic Church does readily admit that “Christmas” traditions date to the era of Constantine, and sun-god worship.  Since those folks wanted to keep their pagan gods, and pagan celebrations — why not just “Christian-ize ‘em”?   Just relabel Saturnalia and the birth of Mithras and say it’s for “baby Jesus” instead.  Surely God can’t object to “bringing more people to Christ”, can He?  Even if we have to lie?  Even if we have to break His Word to do it?

His warning would seem pretty clear, however.  (Unless perhaps you’re a “church father” or have some other agenda.)  He warned His people not to serve the false gods of the pagan people around them, “for that will be a snare to you.”  (v 16)  Furthermore, when it comes to their symbols and idols, we are not even to “covet the silver or gold on them…lest you be snared by it.”  (v25)

But it’s the last line in the chapter that should really grab our attention, as people put away the silver and gold balls, and set the asherah tree on the curb one more time:

Nor shall you bring an abomination into your house, lest you be doomed to destruction like it. You shall utterly detest it and utterly abhor it, for it is an accursed thing.”

You’d think that would be pretty clear.  But we’ve already heard the inevitable reprise, “Hey, it’s NO BIG DEAL.  God knows my heart, and He doesn’t really care about things like that.”  (In spite of what He says, over and over again, presumably.)

And since the mind boggles at the potential responses to a Whopper like that from what is ACTUALLY Written, as opposed to what men no doubt say He SHOULD have Written, were He as smart, and tolerant, and Open-Minded as them…
(Deuteronomy chapters 12 and 13, 30:19, Isaiah 66:3-4, the exile stories of places like Jeremiah 3 and Ezekiel 23, and scores of others come immediately to mind)
…let’s just stick to one (OK, two — since He repeats it through multiple witnesses) easy rejoinder.  And since pagan Xmas celebration pretends to be “all about Him” — why not quote what He said when it comes to “traditions of men”?

He said, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

‘This people honors Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.

And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching
as doctrines the commandments of men.    (He quotes from Isaiah 29:13)                       — Mark 7:6-7 (and Matthew 15:2 as well)

That would seem pretty clear, even when it comes to things which He did not already say were “abominations” to Him, and a snare and curse to us!

Another pagan “holy-day” is past.  The trappings may still be in living rooms, on rooftops, and in trash cans all around us, and the debts incurred (in more ways than one) are yet to be paid, but this may be the ideal time to address the issues, and maybe even learn the lessons.   “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”  (John 14:15)

Indeed.  Why not start now, while there’s still time before the next onslaught.

And if all else fails, perhaps we can refer doubters to what He said next to those same hypocrites:

All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.”

Parsha “Vayashev” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

December 15th, 2014

Join Mark Call for two teachings on this week’s Torah portion, “Vayashev.” (Genesis chapters 37 through 40).

During the Erev Shabbat teaching, (Friday evening) Mark covers the entire parsha — the first part of the story of Joseph, who might even be called the “Transition Patriarch.”

SSM “Vayashev” 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat again focuses on several of the broader messages pervading the portion. One might be the ‘unifying underlying theme’ of the story of the patriarchs of Genesis, but the even bigger questions probably have to do with “His Plan” — and what our own choices have to do with it.

Vayashev – Joseph – and “Yah’s Plan — and our part in it”

Parsha “Vayishlach” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

December 8th, 2014

Join Mark Call for two teachings on this week’s Torah portion, “Vayishlach.” (Genesis chapters 32:4 through 36).

During the Erev Shabbat teaching, (Friday evening) Mark covers the entire parsha — the story of Jacob’s challenges in reconciling with his estranged brother Esau, the subsequent ‘rape of Dinah,’ (if that’s really what it is) and the violence that follows.

SSM “Vayishlach” 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat again focuses on at least one of the broader themes pervading the portion, and might be titled, “Dealing with Esau…” and violence, and indeed ‘the world.’   This, too, is a section of Scripture that should REALLY speak to us today!

TT CooH – Dealing with ‘the world’ – division – and the cancer of ‘hamas’ or violence

 

When Shepherds Lie

December 4th, 2014



There’s no longer any question that things are “heating up” on the End Times Thermometer.  And while that doesn’t necessarily mean that the events in the world today are imminently of ‘Biblical proportions’ (even after a currency meltdown, world war, and martial law in more and more countries, it might take several years for the final acts to play out) — those with “eyes to see” are taking notice.

So it’s important that those who expect to rely on the promises of Yah (and the alternative will turn out to be gravely disappointing) need to start ‘walking in obedience’ to Him immediately, if not before.  Which is why this author finds certain ‘evangelical’ preachers to be in many respects even more of a threat to those “called by His Name” than  most run-of-the-mill worldly agnostics, or even atheists.  It’s one thing to be oblivious to the Creator, and arguably more insidious when those who CLAIM to call on His Name mislead His sheep.  To destruction.

To wit, more and more presumably Bible-literate pastors — including, unfortunately, many who claim to be “watchmen on the wall” — are warning about the coming End Times, but still departing from ‘the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.’  (I Timothy 4:1)   They focus exclusively on “saving souls”, as if that was the end of it, and ignore the rest of the equation:
“IF you love Me, keep My commands.”    If we are in fact ‘saved by His grace,’ then what is our “reasonable service“?  And don’t they care at all about hearing, “well done, good and faithful servant?”  
…as opposed to, “depart from Me, you who work lies [and deny His Word!] — I never knew you!”   (Matthew 7:23)

The Truth really DOES matter.  And (Jeremiah 16:19) — we really have “inherited lies from our fathers.”  And our licensed pastors.   This is important because Scripture contains MANY warnings about false prophets, failed priests, and “imposters [who will] grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”  (II Timothy 3:13)

We live in a time when deception abounds, and many of us know first-hand the depth of that deception.  It can split communities, and destroy families.  If we are to be ready for the battles to come, we must be “ready, in season and out” to give an answer to those who are being led astray by false shepherds.

A couple of answers to “tough questions” that I heard on a recent preparedness-oriented radio show not only make the point, but should serve to “arm us” with the Sword of His Word when we hear (and we will) similar reasonable-sounding lies:

The ‘voice of evangelism’ was asked by a listener why so many Xtians can be “deceived [into believing] that the body of christ is still under obligation to observe the ‘law of Moses’.”   And even that “Sabbath” thing (that YHVH says over and over again – as if THAT still mattered, that we are to keep “forever,” “throughout our generations,” in “all our dwelling places,” and so on.  Yeah, it’s hard to understand stuff, since He comes right out and tells us).

Well, the ‘man of god’ responded oh-so-folksily…look at Romans 14:6, “talking about food, and talking about the Sabbath.”  And then see Romans 10:4, “For christ is the END of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”   As if he was ignorant of the fact that the word translated as “end” — IN CONTEXT — didn’t mean “the ultimate GOAL of” His torah, or instruction!

I wondered why so many who find the words of Paul so easy to twist (as II Peter 3:15-16 points out) prefer to quote him, rather than just read what the One they call ‘christ’, and CLAIM to believe, said so bluntly! 

But then the preacher did just that, and quoted (at least a bit of) Matthew 5:17.  Yes, he stopped after the part that used the English word ‘fulfill.’  And, in the process, ignored the context, and His point, entirely:
“Once something has been fulfilled, it has been terminated.” 

And I, admittedly, yelled at the radio.  Lies like that get people killed, or worse.   He tried to claim it was like a 60 month loan, which, once paid off, was just paid.  Done.  For my part, I couldn’t help but think how he’d feel if his wife were to use equally twisted logic to claim that, having ONCE turned down a chance to consummate an affair, her marriage vow was equally ‘fulfilled’, and thus terminated.

The logical fallacy here involves a bogus assumption.  Fulfilled is NOT the same as terminated — especially since the Messiah in the VERY NEXT VERSE says exactly that!  Is “all” fulfilled, even yet?  But that’s not what this preacher claimed.  He did finally get around to reading the rest of the verse, and then explaining it didn’t mean what He clearly said it did!  Instead, he observed that this next line was the  “second time [Jesus] uses the word ‘fulfilled’.”  And the second time that preacher ignored the meaning, too.

So he follows up a specious assumption with a distortion of the meaning of a key word, and the only way to make that fit is to take the entire verse out of context.  In the process, he turns the words of the Messiah on their head — taking a statement that He makes to say He is NOT going to “destroy the torah or the prophets,” and twisting it to claim that he did EXACTLY that!  And as if that wasn’t bad enough, this man who (see the next verses) “breaks [even] the least of these commandments, and teaches men so,” then goes on to claim that He wasn’t talking about the “Ten Commandments” anyway — He was really talking only about ‘the beatitudes’.  (Come on!  what did He just say?  He wasn’t going to make even the smallest change to His Written Word — the ‘torah and the prophets’!)

Sadly, this dissemination is pervasive.  Twisting of Scripture tends to follow a pattern.  There is almost always an assumption.  That allows what follows next — a shift in the real meaning of the words, and a removal of the verse from context.    Key words may be left out, and even whole verses.   But the result all too often ends up being to replace the “commandments of YHVH” with the “traditions of men.”  And ultimately make His Word of “no effect.” 

If we do not understand the techniques, and the motivations of Pharisees, Old and New, we might fall into the very trap Paul ALSO warned about, (II Tim. 4:3) “for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…having itching ears…and shall turn away…from truth…unto fables.”  He’s warning us about exactly what we’re seeing NOW!

This Xtian Twisting from the so-called ‘voice of evangelism’ continued down that inevitable trail.   See Col. 2:15, he continued, again taking the admonition completely out of context, “let no one judge you in food…or regarding…sabbath.”  But that letter was being written to people who had come out of PAGANISM!   What was Paul talking about, if not to warn them about ‘backsliding’?  He even SAID so, just a few verses earlier:  “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after [the Word!]”

Don’t let people judge you for EXACTLY the same things people are judging many of us for TODAY!  Not eating pork, and actually deciding to honor Yah’s Sabbaths instead of man’s traditions of sun-god day and Xmas! 

But this false shepherd was on a roll.  He ignored the context of Galatians 4:9 in exactly the same way, claiming that the “weak and beggarly elements, in which you desire again to be in bondage” was the Torah of YHVH!!!!  “Paul had a fear and an anxiety that they were gonna go back to ‘the law’.”   What an incredible affront to the Author of Scripture Himself!  NO HE DID NOT!  And Paul just made that VERY clear, in the preceding verse, when he referred to a time when those he was writing to “did NOT know God,” but served “those which by nature are not gods.”  They were pagans.   He was warning them about not going back to paganism.  And Paul makes the same point in the letter to the Colossians, just a few verses LATER, (Col. 2:22) when he makes it clear that he was talking NOT about the Torah of YHVH, but the  “commandments and doctrines of men!”  Not surprisingly, that verse got left out of the ‘lesson’.

Scripture is utterly consistent.  But lies are not.  If the very same Bible which tells us PRECISELY what the Messiah will (and will not – Deuteronomy 13!) do tells us that anyone who CHANGES His Word is a liar, why would we be so foolish as to believe that He would do exactly what He said He would NOT?  It is obviously much easier for deceiving wolves in sheep’s clothing to twist the subtle and often complex writings of Shaul (Paul) than the straightforward teachings of the Word Made Flesh.

I have on occasion been reminded by a friend that not EVERY Christian denomination teaches that ‘the law has been done away with’.  (Admittedly, those who keep sun-god day certainly APPEAR to, whether they know it or not.)   But the lies are insidious, deadly, and pervasive.  The “End Times Deception” is just beginning.   Perilous times are coming, and He warned us for a reason.

Parsha “Vayetzei” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

December 3rd, 2014

Join Mark Call for two teachings on this week’s Torah portion, Vayetzei” (Genesis chapters 28:10 – 32:3 ).

During the Erev Shabbat teaching, (Friday evening) Mark covers the story Jacob leaving home, his encounters with the angels “ascending and descending” from heaven, his wives, the birth of his sons, and his final departure from Laban.

SSM Teaching – Vayetzei 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat again delves into areas that just aren’t touched by most churches.  Yes, there’s not only a lot that is VERY politically-incorrect in here (from marriage to “romance”) but a lot that gives us insight into whether we really care about what is Written, or just what we’ve heard it SHOULD have said.  (Warning:  adult content, too.  Not surprising, probably.)

Does ‘the world’ get love and covenant out of order?

TT Vayetzei 2014 – Love and Covenant – or is it Covenant and Love?