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“Who is the Law for?”

Friday, December 14th, 2012

This question is one that gets asked frequently, and is therefore undoubtedly worthy of being ANSWERED somewhat frequently as well!

 

“I was having a discussion…talking about the Law and how everyone had to follow it.  They disagreed and said that the law(s) were for specific people and groups during those time periods. How should I reply to this? I say that it is for all of us but they continue to disagree, and also say that gentiles don’t have to follow the law (like the dietary laws)…and that would bring us to bondage.”

The problem starts, I contend, with a misunderstanding of what “The Law” is. If we don’t know what a word even means, how do we claim to know to whom it applies, or does not?The Hebrew word in question is “torah”, and mistranslation as the modern English “law” is responsible for much of the “twisting” that is so obvious today. A far better understanding is that it means “instruction”. (“Instruction” might even INCLUDED ‘law’ – but they are not synonymous. Try substituting that understanding in MUCH of Paul’s writings, and they will make FAR more sense.) When He wants to be specific, He uses the specific terms meaning “statutes, judgements, and commandments” in the Hebrew.His ‘torah’ or INSTRUCTION is for our blessing. He says so. (Deuteronomy chapter 30, among others) And He said it never changes. (Paul tells us that, too – and that it applies even when the ‘Schoolmaster’ is no longer with us; we should remember His instruction, and certainly not “sin more, that grace might abound.“)His Torah applies to those who choose to walk in obedience to Him, and who want to be “grafted in”.    (If we ask to live in the Father’s house – is it too really much to ask that we honor His will? After all, it is our “reasonable service“.)

Finally, and this is a “whole ‘nuther can o’ worms” – the “law” that brings bondage is MAN‘s, not YHVH‘s! The Pharisees were repeatedly called “hypocrites” because they “added to” His statutes, judgments, and commandments – and then CALLED what they mandated ‘law’, or sometimes ‘the traditions of the elders’. They “added burdens” – and it was THEIR demands that were too difficult, not His! (See Deuteronomy 30:10-14; it could not be more clear. Then compare to what Yahushua says repeatedly, in places like Matthew 15:6-9 and Mark 7 — that “by your tradition” you have made the “commandments of YHVH of no effect“.)

No, we don’t HAVE to obey Him. People are free to choose cursing over blessing, and death over life. We can ignore His Instruction. We don’t have to be grafted in, either, or accept His gift. But “if you love Me, keep My commands,” is a pretty good reason to try.

 

 

Three ‘Hot Button’ Traditions — and what they tell us

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Jeremiah 16:19 reminds us that we have “inherited lies from our fathers” ….and that there will come a time when people from all of the nations to which we will have been scattered will wake up and begin to question what we have been taught.  Many of those ‘lies’ take the form of traditions that we accept without question.  They’re so IMPORTANT to us that we just naturally seem to ASSUME that they must be just fine with God.

And maybe that is why some traditions — and, arguably, particularly the most pagan in origin — may be so pernicious, and inspire such vehement reaction when challenged.  And perhaps the “acid test” of whether or not we are willing to separate ourselves from those lies that we have inherited from our fathers is the way in which react to those challenges.  Do we “study, to show ourselves approved” and react like the Bereans, by searching out the Scriptures for ourselves?  Or do we, like those who Yahushua called ‘hypocrites‘ in Matthew 15:7-9, “worship Him in vain, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men“?

On that score I will suggest that there are at least three obvious “hot buttons” that may give us a clue to our own willingness to accept His Word, rather than our own traditions.  Here, then, are three nominations of my own for the “Biggest Hot Buttons” based on the traditions of men, but not of Scripture.  All three are so pervasive, so widespread, that some Christians react with anger even to a mere questioning of their validity.

Certainly this season is one of the times when one of the biggest and most obvious of those comes “front and center”.   It’s Xmas.   But many people who have begun to return to a Hebrew-oriented mindset find that one a good place to start — along, of course, with the Sabbath.  They both have to do with “appointed times” that our Father said to keep “forever“, but the ‘Church’ has said, “no you don’t” — not any more.  His spring and fall feasts have essentially been forgotten entirely — or replaced by other alleged “holy” days.  The Sabbath was changed, but by MEN, and not God.  And, as many of us are now aware, SO was the alleged date of the birth of the Messiah.

It turns out that even a little bit of research will suffice to show that, no – “shepherds watching over their flocks by night” did NOT happen in late December, because it was too cold.  But the ‘winter solstice’ was a time of great significance to worshipers of the various “sun gods”, and the pagan tradition was adopted in SPITE of the warnings like Deuteronomy chapters 7, and 12, and many others*.  While Mithras and any number of other false pagan gods that shared December 25th birthday, the True Messiah never did.

It’s not too difficult to demonstrate that He was probably born in autumn, during the Fall Feasts of YHVH, and almost certainly at the time of Sukkot, or Tabernacles (coincidentally, the word could even be translated “mangers”), when all of the men of the land would have naturally been returning to Jerusalem as commanded anyway.  What time would be more natural for the emperor to decree a tax census?  When we study His Word in context, a consistent pattern of confirmation emerges.

Perhaps an almost as much of a “tradition of man” that has been accepted without question is the idea that a man can have only one wife, in spite of the repeated evidence of Scripture, from patriarchs and common men to kings, and the fact that YHVH not only allows but even on occasion commands the practice.  Not only does He provide the rules for it, but even YHVH Himself says that He had more than one wife:  Jeremiah 3, and Ezekiel 23.  Check it out for yourself, and “see if these things are true”, or if the Messiah ever prohibited that which His Father did not.     But “Monogamy”  is treated today more like an idol than a tenet of Scripture.  Like Christmas, and Easter, it may offend our tradition, even our sensibility, to discover that practices we accept or reject without question can be pleasing to us, but offensive to Him, and vice-versa.  But the fact remains that the patriarch Yakov (Jacob) had four wives – and indeed all of the twelve tribes of Israel come through them — houses which those who follow Him today still seek to be “grafted in” to.

Worse still, however, is the problem that when we begin to rewrite His rules, especially for something as critical as marriage, the bitter fruit eventually becomes undeniable.   Today, we even hear of “believers” willing to accept state-licensed so-called “gay marriage” that He clearly calls “abomination” – so long as it’s “Monogamous”, of course!

Finally, let us not forget the question of what is “food“, and what is NOT.     This one, at least, has an interesting characteristic that it shares with the first two, but which is more easily seen.  There are several places in Scripture where later texts have apparently been modified to “add” an interpretation which is not supported by the “words in red” of the Messiah Himself, or the Torah He quoted.  For example, in Mark 7:19, some versions add words to the effect that “thus he declared all foods clean” — in spite of the fact that such a change would have clearly contradicted not only His own claim in Matthew 5:17, but the evidence of much of His own instruction!  The question, of course, is “what did the Author of Scripture mean by the words translated as ‘food’?”  Yahushua never declared pigs, for example, to BE food!  And then there’s Peter’s famous dream (Acts 10:9-28).  In contrast to much of ‘church’ teaching — and the traditions of fallen men — Peter actually TELLS us what the dream means (v 28), and that it is NOT about food, but about MEN!  And not only that, but even years AFTER the death and resurrection of the Messiah, with Whom he walked and studied, Peter has STILL never eaten something which he knows is “NOT food”.  If “Jesus declared all foods clean,” then why didn’t He tell Peter?

Indeed, there is a lesson for all of us in all of these three example of “hot buttons” — and it’s exactly what He preached and taught so many times, and in so many ways:  “…by your traditions, you have made the commandments of YHVH of no effect.” (Matthew 15:6, Mark 7:13, etc)

We need to be sure that what we believe is true, really IS True — even to the point of,“let El be True – and every man a liar”.  Thankfully, there’s an easy test:  compare what we have been “told it says” with what is actually “Written”, just as Yahushua stated so many times in His first major public teaching, the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ of Matthew chapter 5.  Not only is He the same, “yesterday, today, and tomorrow,” but His Word is CONSISTENT.  He didn’t tell us to keep His Sabbaths “forever”, and then “do away” with them — much less substitute pagan traditions that He warned us about.  He didn’t change His mind about what He calls “marriage” – and what He did not.  And when He died in our place, He did not change the way OUR bodies, or that of pigs, were designed to work.

When our “tradition” – regardless of how we may feel about it – is in opposition to His Word, it’s we who should learn to change.  He says, “If you love Me, keep my commandments,”  and warns us confusing our tradition with His instruction. 

No question – it’s hard for us to go back and re-examine our prized traditions.  That’s particularly true of some, perhaps, as many who have begun the process are learning.  But that’s an even better reason for making the effort, and earnestly seeking to see what He says about them, rather than assuming we know what He SHOULD have said!

———————————————–
*  Jeremiah 10 is a shock to many people who can’t help but recognize one obvious pagan tradition in the description the prophet gives.

Come out – with JOY

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012

The first Book of the Bible provides us with contrasting stories of two men, each of whom can rightfully be said to be our physical and spiritual fathers — Noah and Abraham.  Noah was told to build an ark, because the world as he knew it was going to come to an end.  Abram (he would be re-named later) was told to come out of the world he knew.

It is from the patriarch Abraham that all of the twelve tribes of Israel descend.  It was to that same father Abraham that some of the most important and dramatic promises in all of history were made.  And it was arguably Abraham who was the first man in Scripture to be given the CHOICE to “come out of her,” as Revelation 18:4 later admonishes us.

The fundamental elements of the entire story are outlined in the first three verses of Bereshiet (or Genesis) chapter 12:

“And YHVH said unto Abram, ‘”Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you.
And I will make of you a great nation; and I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.
And I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'”

These are the first recorded words spoken by YHVH to him.  And Abram was already 75 years old, to boot.  Why does Scripture make the point to tell us that?  Perhaps in part it’s to help us understand that what is being asked of him.  At an age that now marks a time for many men to have settled into retirement, such a request might be considered out of our “comfort zones”.

But the story of Abraham was only beginning.  He left, “as YHVH had spoken,” and went where he was directed.  What followed has been described as a sequence of “tests” in the life of the first Hebrew…to leave the land he knew, to learn kindness and hospitality and strength, to manage his house, and ultimately culminating in the “Akeida” — the offering up of his son Isaac:

Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Then He said, “Take now your son, your only [son] Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”    (Genesis 22:1-2)

Many people have been troubled by this final test of Abraham, even though it appears to foreshadow the Son of God.  How could Scripture countenance what appears to be a command for human sacrifice?  We know that Abraham believed YHVH, and his “faith was counted for righteousness.”   (Romans 4:1-5)  I tend to think the answer is so simple that we overlook the obvious:  Abraham’s faith, and his willingness to hear and obey YHVH so great, that he never even considered the possibility that Isaac’s life would end.  He knew — and had SEEN! — that this was the son he had been promised.  This was the son whose miraculous birth was marked with joy, and even whose name meant “laughter”.  This was the son through whom the promises of Elohim would be fulfilled!

I believe that Abraham “rose early” to start his journey, and that “both of them went together” to “the place Elohim had told of” because
he was excited to see just what miracle the Almighty would work in their lives this time!

And it was truly one of the most striking, and important, and JOYFUL, in all of history.

Our choice is in some respects even similar, and may even sometimes seem almost as difficult to each of us as individuals.  Most of us, arguably, have not heard the promises of YHVH spoken to us directly, although we do have His Word.

We, too, are told to leave behind the things of this world, and “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness“.

And we, too, are tested — by the challenges of the world, and by the chastening of our Creator.  Also like father Abraham, we are told to “come out of her,” so that we do not partake of those sins, nor the coming plagues.   (Revelation 18:4)  The Book of Revelation if filled with similar admonitions in the letters to the seven churches as well — telling us to “persevere” and be “Overcomers”.  Yet the ‘world’ is pervasive, and persuasive, and certainly threatening to those who seek to “follow Him, and Him alone”.  Weren’t we even warned that the world would “hate us”, for His sake?  (John 15:18-23; Luke 6:22, 1 John 3:13, etc)

The key is to learn to “fear not”, and develop the KIND of trust in YHVH and His promises that enabled Abraham to simply walk in obedience, and accept His blessings with joy.  Yaakov (James 1:2-3) put it this way:

“…  count it all joy, my brethren, when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience [perseverence]…so that you might be complete, lacking nothing.”

Even when our testing seems too much to bear, He assures us it is not, and reminds us that those He loves, He chastens.  But even so, testing is a lot easier when we can learn to focus on the joy.

A genuine choice – to “come out of her”

Monday, September 24th, 2012

 

The “Torah Made Flesh” told us on more than one occasion – and in more than one way – that we could not serve “two masters”.  Shaul (Paul) took up the same theme, and added a bit more directly Torah-based midrash, when he observed that “you are his servant whom you submit yourself to obey” (Romans 6:16)

Given the current hype surrounding the “most important election EVER,”  (aren’t they ALWAYS?) this may be a good time to review the issue of the “choice” again being presented to ‘registered voters’ as to which servant of the prince of this world they would rather have “rule over them”.   All over the world, people have been deluded into thinking that “democracy”  (a form of government which was NEVER consistent with, for example, the Constitution for the united States, and which the Founders uniformly rejected and railed against) is something OTHER than “mob rule” or “mob-ocracy”.  In the absence of legal protections against the inevitable (like the long-forgotten Bill of Rights), such a “demon-ocracy” generally degrades quickly into a state where 51%  of people exercise dictatorial control over the lives, liberty, and property of the other 49%.

I have written many times about the fact that, while Scripture cites several examples of things which look a bit like “popular votes” which nevertheless, shall we say, didn’t work out so well…the converse is not true:  usually the masses seem to make the wrong choice, and reject Him.  The story of I Samuel in chapter 8 may be among the best examples, where the people of Israel told the prophet to “give us a king like all the other nations”.   Scripture tells us (I Sam. 8:7) that YHVH even told the prophet to listen to them, “for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”

In spite of additional warnings (which, by the way, sound a heck of a LOT like what Amerikans, and indeed the denizens of most slave states in the world, can see out their own windows) the people persisted.  And the king they got was Saul.

The “End of the Book” (Rev. 18:4) tells us as well that there will come a time when we are to “come out of her”  so as to NOT participate with the sins of “the Whore,” and so that we do not, as a result, partake of the coming, and now-increasingly obvious, “plagues”.   Other admonitions, like “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness,” and even “touch not the unclean thing” make a similar point.

People are being fed a lie:  that to refuse to participate in a corrupt, unlawful, and unBiblical process somehow means one should not only have no right to complain (after all, the Freedom of Speech has ALREADY been revoked.  Just look at the so-called “free speech zones” set up well AWAY from the most recent RNC sham.  Not only was the only remaining alternative candidate muzzled and not permitted to speak, or even have his name placed in nomination — in SPITE of the “rules” — but elected delegates were unseated and coerced via the not-subtle threat of arrest and a nearby gulag especially set up for the purpose!)  The opposite is in fact true.  It is those who AGREE to abide by the outcome of a process they choose to participate in who must bear the consequences of their folly.  One could in fact say, as the Bible does, that people who should have known better, “have their reward.”

While the Book of Job is perhaps one of the most difficult in all of Scripture for most people raised as Christians to understand, because it seems to demonstrate that YHVH, who created EVERYTHING, thus permitted “evil” as well as “good” — it also has some of the most poignant lessons for us today.  “For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, And what I dreaded has happened to me.”  (Job 3:25)  In order for the choice to love and obey Him to be a real one, the alternative, too, must be a real choice.  Unless the choice to walk in rebellion to Him is genuine, a “choice” to follow Him is as meaningless and hollow as the “choice” facing Soviet citizens under Stalin, or post-Constitutional Amerikans.

Our “savior”  DID not, and will not, come from Washington, DC…or Shanghai…or Moscow, Brussels, London, or the Hague…in spite of what politicians, pundits, and the world’s ‘priests of another god’ would like us to believe.

The Declaration of Independence asserts that lawful government rests on the “consent of the governed”.   When the Founders served lawful notice to the world, and appealed to God as the “Supreme Judge of the world” that they would not submit to a “tyrant” who sought to reduce them to despotism — they literally withdrew their consent from that “other master” who was acting contrary to the Creator.

Wherever we live in the world, we face a similar choice today.  As the fiat economies based on the abomination of “dishonest weights and measures” collapse, and hunger, pestilence, and even famine, spread, the Rule of Law will continue to deteriorate.  The “jackboots” of a worldwide police state, already painfully obvious, will continue to advance as the move to a “mark” without which no one will be allowed to “buy or sell” accelerates.

Given a ‘choice’ in opposition to Him, and His Written Word, we must learn to say, “No!”  A choice between evils is no choice at all:
“You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.”  (Exodus 23:2)

The real choice was the one expressed by Joshua (24:15):
And if it seems evil to you to serve YHVH, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…
But as for me and my house, we will serve YHVH.”

Should we fail to understand the choice before us, however, the warning from Samuel is just as poignant today as it was when He first proclaimed it:

“And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and YHVH will not hear you in that day!”

The time to ‘come out of her’ is while we still have a real choice to make!

Dealing with the pagan unmentionable

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Many people — perhaps even most, including those who call themselves “Christian” — are often surprised by what the Bible actually says.  There is, for example, no mention of celebrating the most important single event in human history – the death and subsequent resurrection of our Messiah – via pagan fertility symbols like eggs and bunnies, although the practice is repeatedly and unquestionably prohibited.   Likewise, many of us who are beginning to “come out of” such pagan traditions have come to understand that He was not born in late December (when there would not have been “shepherds watching over the flocks by night” anyway) but instead during the time of Sukkot, or “Mangers”, as those temporary structures have been called in Olde English!

But one of the most repeated metaphors in Scripture is even more commonly ignored by the mainstream ‘church’, perhaps because it is even more “politically incorrect” than some of the other pagan-inspired traditions associated with the “religions of man”, but includes some of the same hubris of ancient goddess worship:   “I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will see no sorrow.”   (Rev. 18:7)

It is, as we have come to expect from a Book which reminds us to “let everything” be confirmed by two or more witnesses, confirmed by at least two prophets.  It is, also, consistent with both His Word, and His character, as confirmed by all that is Written about the Covenant we call “marriage”.  Sadly, it is also consistent with His teachings about idolatry, and adultery, and their spiritual and physical equivalence.

It is NOT just “the Church” which has fallen into idolatry, and committed spiritual adultery against Him.  And NEITHER is it just “the Jews!”  History, and the Bible, are replete with evidence:  it is BOTH Samaria and Judea, the northern AND the southern kingdoms, Israel AND Judah, which have committed idolatry, been banished into exile, and called “harlots” for their rebellion to their Husband.

Virtually every prophet in the Bible warns of the issue, and YermeYahu (Jeremiah) and Yehezkiel (Ezekiel) are quite specific.

“Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also.   
Jeremiah 3:8

Prophecies tend to repeat; there is indeed “nothing new under the sun“.  The northern tribes, which were sent into exile and “lost” – scattered among the nations of the earth, STILL continued their pagan ways.  They brought the fertility rites of Easter, the ‘sunrise service’ celebrated with child sacrifice, and commemorated by dying eggs the color of blood, BACK into “the church” – and pretended, as always, that it was somehow all being done to “honor Him.”    The trouble is, however, that adultery, and things YHVH said were “abomination” to Him, are just not pleasing to Him…regardless of the lies and justifications in which they come packaged.

Judah, too, fell into idolatry, and was ultimately sent into bondage again — for the same reasons as always:

“[Israel] did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it…
Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also…

In spite of witnessing the judgment that befell her idolatrous sister, Judah did not accept chastening, or heed His warnings.

…And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,” says YHVH.   (Jer. 3:6-11)


And whether it is two sticks, two houses, two kingdoms, or two unfaithful wives which are the subject, the message is always the same:  He is faithful to His Covenant, and we – in the broadest possible sense – have repeatedly been guilty of idolatry – spiritual adultery – putting ‘another lover’ before Him, and have been “put away”, and sent into exile for our harlotry.  He is the Master, King, Father, Redeemer, and faithful Husband — and we have committed infidelity.  Over and over again!

But even when it comes to betrayal and infidelity, the message of Scripture, literally from the first example in Genesis 3 onward, is about His plan for Redemption.   The “remedy for the jealous husband”, the cup described in Numbers 5:12-31, is the very same cup described in Ezekiel 23:31-34, and in Revelation 18:6.  It is the same cup to which the Messiah drank for US in Gethsemane.

There will come a time when BOTH “treacherous sisters” will again have to choose whether to be obedient to their Husband, or to continue to walk in idolatry.  For each of us, as individuals, but who come from multiple ‘traditions’  — all of which ultimately are full of pagan idolatry — that means we will have to decide whether to follow Him, or stand outside the wedding service still to come, with “gnashing of teeth”.

Many denominations seem to have adopted the doctrine that WE — and we alone — are to be “THE Bride”.    Those who do not subscribe to that doctrine, and our traditions, of course, thus CANNOT be part of that “one and only.”  The Truth may be disconcerting to those who “by your traditions have made the commandments of YHVH of no effect.

He is the King, the Master, the Husband – and we are not.  Every story, every parable, makes that clear.   The question, as always, remains the same.  Do we choose to follow Him, or our traditions?

“But you have played the harlot with many lovers; Yet return to Me,” says YHVH.”

Newest podcasts and links

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Events in the news — already evidently out-of-control —  seem to be coming to a head recently.  Both this week’s and last weeks Torah portions  (from the “Talking Torah” room on Paltalk, where both Jeff Gilbert and I teach every Shabbat)  should be of particular interest to those who are not only concerned about how to “come out of her”, but about what we should come IN TO.

Call it “community”:

Ki Tasa

Tetsaveh

 

 

More radio shows links

Monday, February 6th, 2012

Latest radio shows and links:

 

“Come out of her, My people Show”

MP3 download for the CooH show

 

Drive Time Friday – week in review with Mark Call and Jeff Gilbert

MP3 download for the DTF show

“Come out of her” Q & A Show

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Question:  “So what exactly can we do to begin bringing ourselves out of babylon? What can I do NOW? Apart from growing and catching my own food and rain-water.

 

 

Take a listen:

Come out of her, My people Show link – 19 January, 2012

MP3 file for 19 January CooH Show

Latest Torah-oriented podcasts

Monday, January 16th, 2012

 

The weekly teachings from the “Talking Torah” Room on Paltalk, featuring both Jeff Gilbert and Mark Call, are up on “Way To Zion”:

MP3 link

 

 

 

Bondage

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

The story which begins the Book of the Exodus, and then the life of Moses, is about a people who have fallen into bondage.  And arguably, they didn’t even know how it happened.

The Book of Genesis ends not too long after the father and brothers of Yahuseph (Joseph) have come into the land of Mitzraim (or current Egypt).  There remained not quite five years left until the famine through which they were saved would have ended, so – a question presents itself:  Why didn’t they LEAVE?

Why STAY, and let their children, and their children after them, fall into bondage?

Our own Founding Fathers, through the words of Thomas Jefferson, give a pretty good answer…and it has never changed too much throughout most of history:

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

Slavery, in other words, is often easier than genuine “change.”

 

 

The latest installment of the “Come out of her, My people” Show addresses this issue in some detail, as well as something I call the “Chicken Little Syndrome”:

 Come out of her Show player link

Come out of her, My people – January 12, 2012   MP3 file