Back Into Bondage

February 8th, 2013

The months leading up to the time of Pesach, or Passover, are traditionally a time for the study of the Exodus.  YHVH selected Moses to lead the children of Israel out of Mitzraim (Egypt), following a series of plagues and numerous miracles, most famously the parting of the Sea of Reeds.  It is a story of bondage, and of deliverance.  It is a story that has FAR more to do with the world today than many people would be willing to believe.

The early part of the story includes the ten plagues visited upon those who held Israel in bondage, and — among other things — amounts to a judgment against the many false ‘gods’ (“mighty ones” or elohim) of that land.  This author is not alone in suggesting that when the ‘end times’ great regathering plays out, it, too, will include plagues directed at more modern idols, arguably including at a minimum dishonest ‘money’ (the false god in whom we trust INSTEAD of Him) and perhaps some of the idols pushed by Hollywood.  But it is the question of slavery itself, or bondage to “another master” that is so important to understand today.  And it is the striking contrast to the story of that first Exodus that so illustrates the principles.

Many people have noted that the process of redeeming the people who were freed from Egyptian slavery can be divided primarily into two major phases:  the physical escape from bondage, and the arguably more, and certainly longer, process of overcoming the “slave mentality”.  After getting the children of Israel out of Egypt, in other words, it was necessary to complete the process by getting Egypt out of them.

It is the “slave mentality” that is crucial to subjecting  a people into bondage, and is most pernicious — as Scripture makes so clear — to “come out of”.

The key distinction to be made in that story, and indeed in all of Scripture, seems to rest on the character of the Creator YHVH Himself.  He is a Keeper of Covenant, an Almighty Who honors His Covenants, keeps His promises, and ultimately has SHOWN Himself to be trustworthy.  Pharoah, on the other hand, is the archetype of the alternative:  a mere man with an inflated opinion of himself, who THINKS he is a ‘god,’ does not know or care to know YHVH (Ex. 5:2) — and will not heed correction.  For a time he “hardens his [own] heart” to Moses’ demands to “let My people go,” but eventually it is too late, the die is cast, and YHVH hardens it for him as he goes to his own destruction down the road he has chosen.  YHVH uses him as the primary example of a false god, evil slave master, and failed king — so that our choice will be clear.  At the same time — continually, and repeatedly — that He shows Israel Who He Is (“ani YHVH!” –  “I am that I AM“) He [   ] the alternative.  “I will get Me honor upon Pharaoh”  (Ex. 14:4) and even the Egyptians shall know that “I AM YHVH.”  Pharaoh and all who served him were destroyed by the same waters through which the children of Israel were delivered into freedom, and (Ex. 14:31) they feared YHVH, and believed Him.

The common refrain of Scripture is CHOOSE:  Who we will serve.  Life and blessing, as opposed to death and cursing.  And WHICH Master!  The One Who keeps His Covenant, or the ‘prince of this world’, and those who serve him, whether they are called Pharaoh, Caesar, Emperor, Czar, king,  Premier, Chief Executive, Dictator, Fuhrer, or Commander.  Ultimately, as the Messiah tells us (Matthew 6:24 et al) we cannot and must not serve both.

The story of the Exodus is the story of YHVH, “by His mighty hand,” bringing His people OUT of bondage to Pharaoh, first by removing them from that place of bondage, and then delivering them from the attitude of bondage, as they learned to serve Him, and obey His Instruction, including His “statutes, judgments, and commandments.”  The story of the world, today, however, is a stark contrast, as people who once claimed to be His are deceived BACK into bondage.

We have truly “inherited lies from our fathers.”  If, as the ‘church’ has preached for centuries, the “law is done away with” — then why should we be surprised when governments of man ignore the “Supreme Law of the Land,” and treat what were once called “God-given Rights” as mere privileges, subject to revocation at the whim of the new master?  When ever-increasing “terror threats” justify treating once-free people like convicted criminals, they are no longer free.  When “due process” is no longer due, “citizens” are conditioned to servitude.  When police and federal ‘officers’  become “enforcers” rather than public servants, the conditioning to servitude continues.  When ‘the law’ becomes a tool for subjugation rather than the foundation for justice, that process is nearly complete.

When disarmed, helpless people are huddled together in what could better be described as “indoctrination centers” than educational institutions, why are we surprised that pharma-psychotic killers seek them out as killing fields full of easy prey?  And that the expected “solution” is always “more of the same” thing which helped foment the problem?  The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was ousted from the scene long ago, replaced by the god(s) of this world.   What are the slaves told to expect?  More prescribed drugs, more “Laws” that violate the Real Law, more control, and more power and glory to Pharaoh.

Thus says YHVH: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man, and makes flesh his arm [strength]; whose heart departs from YHVH.   (Jeremiah/YermeYahu 17:5)

Just as Pharaoh’s magicians claimed to be able to mimic the initial plagues of YHVH, and managed to bring forth even MORE frogs (as if that was somehow an answer to the problem!) — so today do the magicians and banksters and politicians manage to bring forth more plagues of drugs, and violence, and dishonest money.  And the burdens of the once-free slaves increase.  Rather than being delivered FROM a slave mentality, the world and those in and of it are being conditioned more and more INTO a slave mentality.  In the formerly United States, for example, sacrosanct God-given Rights like freedom of assembly, speech, privacy, and self-protection are being methodically regulated, registered, taxed, and prohibited.  Even the Right to own private property is being systematically eliminated – ironically by “infringing” first on the ONE type of private property (“arms”, or military and defense weapons)  which was EXPLICITLY protected by the Bill of Rights!  If the Law protecting property singled out for protection can be so completely ignored, just what is left that CANNOT be denied to such people?  Slaves cannot claim to own property.

Perhaps worse still, not only are “Rights” once said to come from a God that is no longer welcome in Government, its schools, and its courts being ignored (even while politicians swear an OATH before Him) but the only ‘rights’ that DO seem to matter are things YHVH Himself calls abomination:  “Our journey is not complete until our gay [sic – homosexual] brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law,” said the ostensible king of the Amerikan Democracy, as he took the Creator of the Universe to task for not understanding “love”.  It would appear that the only “rights” which will soon remain include things YHVH calls “abomination” — the ‘right’ of a man to be licensed by Pharaoh to “lie with a man as with a woman”, and the ‘right’ of a woman to commit murder of a baby at least up until the moment of birth.  (The irony of that lie was revealed in a recent address by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who claimed recently that a woman must have the ability to abort a baby, “because it’s her body, her choice,” although in that same state she is NOT allowed to say “No!” to a demand for a “stop and frisk” warrant-less search, or to a grope or X-ray at a subway station or airport, or to a rapist with a handgun.  Some “choice”.  Who’s body was it again, Gov?)

Slaves don’t have Rights from God, they have privileges, granted on the whim of their earthly master.  As people turn away from God, and seek instead the “protection” of ‘elohim’ like Presidents and Pharaohs, they are being led back INTO bondage, back INTO a slave mentality.  As has been seen so clearly are repeatedly of late, “evil” is being called good, exactly as prophesied, and “because lawlessness (‘torah-less-ness’) shall abound, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:12)

YHVH led the children of Israel out of Egypt via “the long way” home, because He knew that they would encounter trials, and testing, and would look for the easy way out — which is to return to bondage.  For most of the world today, the “easy road” leads directly to slavery, in the form of that “other master.”  Politicians, and police, and even preachers claim to believe “in” the law, whether it is God’s, or man, but then don’t DO what it says, much less what He says!  “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”  (Luke 6:46)

Sadly, that applies to the people who might like to be “called by His Name” as well.  They claim to believe “IN God” – but then don’t actually BELIEVE Him!  That is NOT GOOD ENOUGH, because, “even the demons believe!”  (Yakov/James 2:19)

By now, it is becoming impossible to deny that difficult times lie ahead, for the whole world.  Economic collapse is clearly in progress, and the abominations of dishonest fiat money, like the Almighty Dollar, the “world reserve currency,” are being destroyed.  The erstwhile slave masters of that world seek to consolidate their control over the masses before those people realize the degree to which they have already been enslaved, and before they can choose en masse to “come out of her,” and perhaps avoid the plagues which lie dead ahead.  The propaganda, the indoctrination, the deception, and ultimately the coercion to submit — again! — to Pharaoh and to the world system will continue accelerate.  Slavery follows, and those who have been properly conditioned will come to understand why they must submit to his ‘mark’ if they want to be able to buy or sell, or even keep property they once thought they owned.

For those who seek to serve YHVH, and obey “Him alone,” the choice has never been clearer, more stark, and — by design — more difficult.  The “easy road” leads back into bondage, while the longer road that He has for us will truly take us home.  We can choose to truly believe Him, and thus obey Him, and trust Him, or trust in the lies, because those whom He has made free will be “free indeed.”   It is not enough to believe IN Him.  If we believe that He IS Who He says He is, we must DO what our real Master says as well.

Lie upon Lie, Pretext upon Pretext

January 22nd, 2013
Check out this podcast of today’s news, including a major segment on the truly masterful lies from the Man Who Would Be King:
News for 22 January, 2013 – and analysis of The Emperor’s New Speech
 
Some people may recall that the prophet Isaiah (28:10-13) talks about learning to understand Scripture “precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, [and] there a little”…Obama managed to do to the Constitution (again) what he does to the Bible…
twist the clear meaning to the point that he calls “evil” good, and good “evil”.And —  to top it all off — he manages to use the bodies of children to “oppress the people” while glorifying sin in the process.  (Check Isaiah 3.    The parallels would be funny, if not so shocking.)

Bo!

January 21st, 2013

I have perhaps been remiss at posting links to the many audio teachings, news shows, and podcasts that I do each week, largely because I tend to assume that by now most regular listeners and readers will be familiar with where they can be found and downloaded.

(The ‘Audio:  Radio Shows’ page link at the upper right corner of the webpage gives those details.)

LINKS

 

The most recent Torah portion (or “parsha”) for this week should be of special interest, however.  Both Jeff Gilbert and I consider “Bo”  (from Exodus chapters 10 through 13) to be one of the most critical in Scripture to understanding the rest.  And in this week’s recording, we both focused on very different, but very much related, aspects of the lesson Scripture has for us — not only in terms of what lies “way ahead”, but what is unfolding now.

Take a listen here:

Bo teaching   —  19 January, 2013

 

“Who is the Law for?”

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

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

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.

Does the ‘law’ apply to lost sheep – or only ‘the Jews’?

October 1st, 2012

We now live in a world which denies the Truth of SO much of Scripture that the promised “curses” for rebellion should be undeniable.  A fake “money” that He calls “abomination”  (Lev. 19:35-6; Deut. 25:15-16; Prov. 11:1, etc, etc) is in the process of a literal world-wide meltdown.  Plagues associated with eating that which is “NOT food” abound.  Other things He called “abomination” are even being licensed as “marriage” – with the same bitter consequences.  And yet some who claim to “believe” in Him, and call Him “Lord, lord,” still do not DO what He says.  (Luke 6:46)

Recently I read a column by an on-line friend and columnist who has generally been a reasonably thorough Bible-scholar, even though we clearly differ on some major aspects of our walk (like Xmas and Easter!)  But because the errors he makes, and the logical trap into which he fell, is so pervasive today, others may benefit from taking a look at them, and one set of rebuttals.

The responsibility of Christians to obey the Law of Moses is a subject that comes up from time to time, which always surprises me because the Bible is perfectly clear on the matter…it is absolutely bizarre that some Christians are still under the impression that they have an obligation to abide by Jewish Law.

Christians are not Jews.  Christians are not obligated to follow Mosaic Law.  Ask any Jew, he should be able to confirm it.  As will the Bible, in Acts 15…

whereupon he proceeds to SKIP OVER the key element to the whole story:  that the disciples agreed that new, non-Torah-literate converts to the Messiah should start with four things (avoid eating blood, and “foods” polluted by idolatry or strangulation, and from sexual immorality) and then proceed to LEARN the REST!  How do we know that?  Because the Torah, or instruction of Moses, is taught “in every city” and is read on “every Sabbth“!  (Acts 15:21)

And Who “Christians” SHOULD be asking about that is He Whom they proclaim as Master, Teacher, and Savior!

But this author then even goes on to distort the obvious rebuttal to his error, from the very first major public address Yahushua ever gave:

The fact that Jesus Christ did not abolish the Law says nothing about its continued inapplicability to those who are not Jews.  In fact, to claim it now applies to non-Jews when it did not before on the basis of Matthew 5:17-20 is clearly self-contradictory, for the obvious reason that making it applicable to people to whom it did not previously apply would be changing the letter of it.

Unless, of course, we ignore everything else He said, about who it applies to…
…ALL of those who choose to “come unto Him”!  And that included not only “the Jews” (whether that means only descendents of the tribe of Judah, or those who were formerly of the Biblical southern kingdom of Judah, or something different today) but even the Canaanite woman who came to Him in faith.  Most importantly, however, His reply to her in Matthew 15:24 shows clearly just how misguided and uninformed that claim is:

“But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

And just who is THAT?  The “lost sheep” of the “house of Israel” — at a MINIMUM — are those who were “scattered” by YHVH, exactly* as He promised!  ALL of that “mixed multitude”; not ONLY the descendents of every one of the tribes of the children of Jacob/Yakov, which included peoples who not only never called themselves “Jews” but never even KNEW their own heritage, because by the time He came, they were obviously already “lost”!  And, just as Caleb was “grafted in” even though he was not a genetic descendent of Jacob, YHVH has allowed those of us who are not even “sons of Israel” (or simply don’t know) to be ADOPTED into His house, and become His.  The reference to “lost sheep” who were “scattered” in Ezekiel 34 is undeniable (as is the “why”, for those with ears to hear!)

And those who still claim that means His message of obedience to His Instruction applies ONLY to “the Jews” have a real “theological problem” on their hands!

So how can the implications of one of the most important “messianic” promises in Scripture – to the lost and scattered sheep of Israel –  be ignored?

“Thus saith YHVH; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come… I will even gather you…and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof
…And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh:
That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

And do NOT overlook the fact that He says there, just as He does in John 14, that they will obey His statutes (‘chuqqim’ in the Hebrew) and ordinances (“mishpatim”).

Readers here probably already understand why translating the word “torah” from the Hebrew into either “nomos” in Greek or “law” in English can be misleading:  His “instruction” INCLUDES things like statutes, judgments, ordinances, and commandments – but is not LIMITED to them!  After all, why did the Messiah say that He spoke in parables?  And what is the point of stories like Adam and Eve in the garden, and the binding of Isaac by his father Abraham, Joseph being betrayed and sold into bondage by his brothers, and the exodus of the “mixed multitude” from Egypt, and so many others, if not to teach us about Him, and His promises?

But why were the children of Israel — ALL of ’em, by the way, not just ‘the Jews’ — sent out of ‘the land’ and back into “bondage” to begin with?  An answer to that question, obvious though it might be, exposes the rest of the “Big Lie” being promulgated here.

It’s the same answer – literally – that has applied since the Garden:  Rebellion.  To Him, Who created us, and made us, and warned us, and has “known the end from the beginning”, and promised us His “Yahshua”; literally the Salvation of Yah.

And, while that Truth is repeated over and over and OVER again in Scripture (we are all still evidently “stiff-necked”, and in need of the repeated lessons, reproof, correction, and chastening) one of the most poignant of all is Deuteronomy chapter 30:

“Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where YHVH Elohekah drives you,
and you return to YHVH and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul,
that YHVH Elohekah will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where YHVH your God has scattered you.

Although some in the Sunday church still try to claim that “all” has been fulfilled (in spite of the painfully obvious fact that the “new Covenant” prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31 to BOTH the house of Judah AND the house of Israel has not.  Is there really any literate Christian who can deny that there are still some people SOMEWHERE who don’t know Him?)…
…it is equally clear that “all” of the lost sheep have yet to be regathered, and (Acts 1:6) He has not yet restored His kingdom to “Israel”  (whatever some teach that may mean!)

The explanation for those facts are also contained in Deuteronomy 30, and serve as a prophetic antidote to the poisonous lie that He “did away with” His own instruction, lied when He said He ‘changes not’, or said “if you love Me, keep my commandments (“mitzvot”)”  — nor that it was “too hard” to do what He asks of us (verses 11-14).  It was, in fact, the “heavy burdens” of men’s traditions that He so rightly condemned…in places like Matthew chapter 23 and Mark chapter 7, which made His Word of “no effect.”

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live…”                       (Deut. 30:19)

Choose life!

His earthly ministry and perfect sacrifice dramatically underscore both the warning and the promise that He made in the first verses of that chapter!  Those things which He said would happen have happened!  And now, those who love Him, must “return” to Him and obey His voice, just as He says.  This, I submit, is why He said that He is the “good shepherd” who came that we might “have life, and have it more abundantly!”  (John 10:10-11)

And note, too, that “heaven and earth” are the VERY SAME “two witnesses” that He referenced in Matthew 5:17-19 when He said He would not change the smallest bit of His own instruction!  They still stand as proof that His promises, and His instruction, for ALL of us whose choose life through obedience to His Word still apply!  If we love Him, obey Him.  Not only does it result in blessing, but it is, as Paul said, our “reasonable service”.

Choose life, “that you may love YHVH…that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days

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*  Proofs from Scripture abound.  See not only Deuteronomy chapter 30, but places like Esther 3:8, prophecies including Psalm 44 and 60, Isaiah 18, Jeremiah 30:10-11, 50:17, and famously chapter 31.  Others include prophecies of Joel, and Zecariah.  But perhaps even more undeniable is are the prophecies of Ezekiel (chapters 20, 28, 29, 36) in addition to the ones quoted above!  If those references aren’t clear – then neither will be the introductions of both Jakov (James) and Kefa (Peter) in their own letters to the “scattered” sheep!

James 1:1 —
Yakov, a bondservant of Elohim and of Yahushua Hamashiach, To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: Greetings..”

I Peter 1:1
Kefa, an apostle of Yahushua Hamashiach, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…

“He who does not love Me does not keep My Word; and the Word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s Who sent Me.   (John 14:24)

A genuine choice – to “come out of her”

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!

Choose Life!

September 18th, 2012

If there is a single teaching that outlines and defines what it is that separates a Torah-observant mindset from what is too often taught in “mainstream Christianity” – it is this one:

 

Life and blessing – or death and cursing – so CHOOSE LIFE!

(As usual, the first teaching in the session is Jeff Gilbert, followed by Mark Call.)

 

 

Last week’s teaching goes with it as well:

Ki Tavo

Hebrew Roots 101

June 27th, 2012

Perhaps the most obvious, and frequently-asked, of all questions concerning the idea of what it means to “come out of” the world — and of the ‘Church’ of Babylon, or Egypt, or Washington, DC — has to do with what is DIFFERENT about following Him as a “Torah-Observant Believer”.  Isn’t it more than food, or keeping His Sabbath?  Are the differences significant ENOUGH that we might even refer to II Cor. 11:4 and suggest that some of those churches even preach “another ‘Jesus’, whom we have not preached“?*

Certainly we can suggest to people that our faith in YHVH must be built on the Rock that He has always said constitutes the foundation:  His instruction, aka “torah,” and the fact that He, without question or failure, always and absolutely keeps His Covenants.  Every bit of His teaching and instruction, literally from “Bereshiet (Genesis) to Maps,” tells an utterly consistent story.  But when it comes to any number of the ‘doctrines of men’,  most ‘Sunday churches’ still generally teach tradition rather than Scripture.  So to explain to a skeptical Christian what is different about following Him in obedience (and walking according to His commandments) ‘as Written‘ can be anything but a brief undertaking.

Is it possible to explain all of those differences in a short teaching?   Of course!  And the answer is amazingly simple.

Start the way He did!  The teaching known popularly as the “Sermon on the Mount”, contained in Matthew chapters 5 to 7, is a perfect introduction to what He did — because the Messiah Himself tells us what He came to do, as well as what He did NOT!  And it is easy to find, and remember, because it is essentially the very first major teaching He gave.

And remember who He was talking to!  For the most part, they were people who had some understanding of the Scriptures, but who had been deceived by teachers who had not been doing their jobs.  He would later call many of such unfaithful servants and blind guides things like “hypocrites”  — and worse — for exactly that reason!

These were people, however, who arguably had a better understanding of ‘the Torah’ than many in today’s churches do.  But, like those who have been deceived by the modern Pharisees, many in His audience had been misled to believe that their own, often pagan, tradition was what Scripture actually SAID (they may have even claimed it was ‘law’).

Yahushua started with things they knew, at least in part, because Scripture promises blessings for obedience to YHVH.  These include things like the beginning of Deuteronomy chapter 28, and culminate in the ultimate directive to “choose life!” of chapter 30, verse 19.  His introduction, therefore, is a reprise of the blessings YHVH bestows upon His children.  The first time He speaks directly of Himself and what He has come to do, however, it is about ‘torah’.  After all, He is the “Word Made Flesh”, and makes VERY clear right up front that He has NOT come to ‘destroy the torah‘ but to “fulfill”…literally to “fill up” His instruction, and the testimony of prophets who spoke of Him, with meaning that had not, until that time unfolded, been clear:

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.   (MatitYahu 5:17)

Furthermore, we can see that “heaven and earth” still exist.  And since even most children understand**  simple logic, the meaning of His next statement is undeniable — even if it conflicts with much doctrine of ‘the Church’:

“For assuredly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one tittle will by any means pass from  the [torah] until all is fulfilled.  (v. 18)

Having established that He did not come to change His own Word, and warning against “teaching men so” besides, He proceeds to give just about the best point-by-point refutation of the ‘doctrine of the Pharisees’ — both of that time, and those that followed — that a new Believer will find.  It was His choice of repeated verbal ‘template’ and imagery that is so profound — and so VITAL for us to recognize!  Time and again, He makes the same point:  “You have heard it said”  illustrated by some example of a Biblical-sounding doctrine with a bit of a twist, followed by His own correction, “...but I TELL YOU.”  In every single case, what they had “heard it said” was wrong, as He patiently explained, and what He told them was EXACTLY WHAT WAS WRITTEN.  Why, because He was the “Word Made Flesh”, of course!

And what better introduction to the differences between what each of us has “heard it said” that He taught, or — well, SHOULD have taught, if only He understood whatever traditions and doctrines of fallen men are being promoted at the time — and what is actually Written than His very first sermon!  Yahushua, as opposed to “another ‘Jesus’ — who came to change His own instruction and thus make Himself out to be some type of false prophet,” makes perfectly clear the difference between what it means to BELIEVE Him, as opposed to merely believing IN Him.

No wonder the summary of that teaching ends with the observation that those who heard it “were astounded!

For he taught them as [one] having Authority.”  And why that is should be obvious!

The best way for us to explain the difference between the real Yahushua, who didn’t change the smallest part of His teaching and instruction, and “another Jesus, whom we have not preached,”  is to be able to do so exactly as He did:  What you have “heard it said” is NOT necessarily what “is Written!”

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*  II Cor. 11:4

** Case in point:  When a father tells his son that — if he expects to earn some desired reward  — but not “until you clean this room” and wait “until after supper”, it means BOTH conditions must be met.  Those with seminary degrees who claim that the “law (meaning His Torah) is done away with” because “all” has somehow been fulfilled need to understand simple logic as well as a child.