“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

*  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!”

*  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.

Who Ya gonna believe – Me, or your lyin’ eyes?

June 24th, 2012

Even though by now it probably shouldn’t, it still amazes me just how utterly relevant the weekly Torah portion (parsha) so often is.  Not only are we seeing so much of prophecy fulfilled (admittedly, perhaps not for the first time!) before our eyes, but the lessons for what we should DO in response are just as vital now as they were to those who lived it the first time.

The story of the ‘spies’ in Numbers chapters 15 and 16 is a perfect example when it comes to current events.  Not only is it the “first recorded vote” in all of Scripture, but it teaches the timeless lesson that when it comes to the choice between “believing Him” and accepting appearances, which “look correct” to us, there is no contest.  Even the Hebrew word “tur” — a root verb meaning “to spy out,” seek, or explore (think “tourist”)  —  is revealing,  and the use of the very same word at the end of the portion points to a wonderful solution as well.

The story starts out by making sure that we know exactly who the players were.  Each of the representatives of their respective tribes, “every one a leader among them,” was recorded by name.  And Moses gave clear instructions, (Num. 13:17-20) telling them to observe the people, the land, and what type of cities they dwelt in, but with the proviso, “Kazakh,” in the Hebrew , to “be strong and of good courage!

Yet the vast majority* returned bearing not only the incredible fruit of the promised land, but an ‘evil report’.   They failed utterly to “see” beyond the surface, as they had been directed, and were instead deceived by appearances, and their own preconceptions.  Caleb and Joshua — alone — saw the Truth, and recognized that the land was “an exceedingly good land,” exactly as YHVH had promised.

And while there are many wonderful lessons which can be drawn from the story,  it is the question of “what do we choose to believe” that I find particularly interesting.  Yes, there were giants in the land, but Numbers 13:33 gives us more information than might be obvious at first glance; read it carefully:
“…and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.

Imagine that!  The men of the land managed to see the ‘grasshoppers’ exactly as they saw themselves.   Joshua and Caleb, however, realized (Num. 14:9) that “their defense has been removed from them,” and not only should they not be feared, but (in the equivalent Hebrew idiom) ‘we will eat their lunch!’  So, we should go now, Caleb urged.  As it turned out, the “whole congregation” turned on the two of them, rejected the promises of YHVH, and all of those adults ended up not going at ALL.  Every one of them died in the wilderness, because they “despised” YHVH (Num. 14:11) by their failure to believe His promises, given all that they had already SEEN!

And just Who do we believe today?  We have a world economy based on dishonest weights and measures — which He calls “abomination” — and it is nearing worldwide collapse.  A debt which is mathematically impossible to ever “repay” is taking down the PIIGS dominoes (Greece, then Spain) first, but portends a plague of truly Biblical proportions.  Unrest, riots, famine, and war will follow – as they always do, and just as Scripture warns.

And what of the governments…all of whom arguably now serve the “prince of this world”?  There, too, both Scripture and the news give the same answer:  Tyranny.  “Capital controls” and other draconian population control measures have already been implemented across Europe, to prevent people from escaping the economic meltdown, or preserving their wealth.  Cameras, airport searches, and internet spyware have long ago made the concept of ‘privacy’ laughable.  In the United States, tens of thousands of drones are not only already being openly admitted to perform aerial spying, but now to being armed…with everything from Tasers and rubber bullets to machine guns and missiles.

People have even begun to bring an “evil report”:  The “New World Order” is too strong to resist.  Big Brother really IS watching you…and X-raying, and groping.  And, just like the Borg of Star Trek, “resistance is futile”.  It truly sounds bleak…at least to those without “eyes to see” His Truth.

Is what we face today really so different from the “giants in the land” that so terrified a mixed multitude who ended up dying in the wilderness?
Does the commandment to “Fear Not!” still apply?  If we allow ourselves to be propagandized into seeing ourselves as the blind “tur-ists” did — grasshoppers in our OWN sight — is it so hard to see how that story would end?

And why does He end the lesson associated with the spies, and immediately the man who rebelled against His Sabbath, the way He does?

Part of the solution is in fact as simple as Scripture lays it out for us:  “Choose this day Whom you will serve…serve YHVH…and Him alone.”  Believe His promises.  Fear Not.  Seek Him…and “He will direct your paths.”

“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  (Luke 21:36)

There is no question that this is a time for prayer.  But is there something else — practical and effective, and maybe even relatively EASY to do — that might help us learn to “walk that path”?

Yes.  And it is at the end of that same Torah portion (Numbers 15:38-40).  It even uses the same Hebrew word —  “tur” again — to make the point:
Put a blue thread in the tzitzit on the corners of your garments.
“And you shall have the tzitit, that you may look upon them and remember all the commandments of YHVH and do them, and that you may not spy after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you use to go astray;
and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be set apart to your Elohim.

Who are we gonna believe?  YHVH or our own “lying eyes”?  If we can learn to follow even some of His simplest commands, and look upon the tzitzit that he tells us to put upon the corners of our garments as a reminder, He is faithful enough to teach us, and guide us the rest of the way.


A Pure Language

May 30th, 2012


Many Christians are unfamiliar with the Biblical holy (or ‘set-apart’) day known in the Hebrew as “Shavuot”.  Those who have heard of it by the more Greek-derived name, “Pentecost”, may tend to remember it primarily as the day when “tongues of fire” descended on the taught-ones of the Messiah following His resurrection, and many of them then “spoke in tongues”  (Acts 2).  There is, of course, MUCH more to the story.

We could start by pointing out that the real miracle that day didn’t really have to do with those doing the SPEAKING, but the HEARING.  Men of many different ethnicities and backgrounds, who spoke many different languages, each heard what YHVH intended for them to hear, in a language they could understand.  Kefa (“Peter”) spoke to those assembled, and quoted to them the words of the prophet Joel (Yah-El, for “Yah is El/Elohim”) concerning the ‘last days’,  and the pouring out – again – of His Ruach (Spirit).

But there seems to be more to the story surrounding the Biblical appointed time of Shavuot and language than originally meets the eye.  For example, while the date cannot be established with certainty, the approximate timing is clear from places like Exodus 19:1 and Numbers 1:1, and most of the ancient sages teach, that the giving of the Torah to Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness — the original “wedding Covenant” — happened on Shavuot.  This was fifty days after the first two of YHVH’s “appointed times” associated with Pesach (Passover) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and then that of First Fruits.  Interesting, as well, is the fact that Scripture tells us to “count for ourselves” the fifty days leading up to the “Feast of Weeks”, as though we were to “take ownership” of that time interval, and consider what is being taught, and foreshadowed.

The story of Scripture repeats one message for us literally many times:  Men make a choice — to rebel against YHVH.  He, however, has a plan for us as Kinsman-Redeemer, and is faithful to execute His plan.  YHVH makes and keeps His Covenants – men continue to break them.  We rebel, get kicked out of the garden, out of the camp, out of the land, even out of the marriages — and back into bondage.  He redeems us — “by a mighty hand and outstretched arm“, by His perfect Sacrifice, by His grace.; “wheels within wheels”, cycles within cycles.  His feasts  — no, not merely the ” “Jewish holidays” but the Appointed Times of YHVH, which He says we should “keep forever” — repeat each year as well, since we evidently need continued reinforcement of the message!

But there is another aspect of the message associated specifically with language, and His miracles and prophecies, which takes a form more reminiscent of “bookends” on a shelf than of cycles.  In that sense, perhaps the “speaking in tongues” associated with the Shavuot following His resurrection is more aptly seen as a milestone, somewhere near the middle of the story.  For its beginning, we turn to the incident at the time of Nimrod, after the Flood, when men sought to build a tower, arguably as an affront to YHVH Himself.  Bereshiet (Genesis) 11 tells us that the “whole earth was of one language,” literally “echad,” or in unity, of speech.  In order to confound those efforts, YHVH confounded, or “mingled,” their language, so that those at what become known as Babel could no longer understand each other’s speech.  One common tongue became many.

At the OTHER, future, ‘bookend’, the prophet ZephaniYah (interestingly, the “Secret Treasure is Yah”) tells us in verse 3:9 that the time will come when YHVH “will [re]turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of YHVH, to serve Him with one consent.”  At this time to come, evidently, out of many languages will — again — come one, purified, tongue.

And in between, we had the prophetic “shadow picture” of a time when people still SPOKE in the many languages of fallen man, but those with “ears to hear” HEARD what YHVH intended for them in a way each could understand.  It was the MESSAGE which was ‘echad’, although it was still spoken with tongues rather than yet being Written on hearts.

Will that future event happen at another Shavuot, when a “pure” language is again returned to us?  Will it be Hebrew?  Or some more ancient variant, like “paleo-Hebrew”, or “Abrahu” as some refer to it, or something even more “pure”?  Whether or not we can know yet what that pure language looked or sounded like, there is no question that the meaning of much of His ‘torah’ is rendered more accurately, more completely, in Hebrew than any single English, Spanish, or Greek translation can contain.

Even the two Hebrew words used in the two “bookends” sound like mirror image processes of one another.  ‘Mingled’ is from the word “balal” (spelled Bet-Lamed-Lamed in the root form) while ‘purified’, selected or cleansed, comes from “barar” (spelled Bet-Resh-Resh).

I have long been convinced that His Torah, or “instruction” to us was not only “perfect” (Psalm 19:7) and complete, as originally Written, but is perhaps even impossible to translate FULLY, or with all of the richness of nuance, meaning, and even poetry, into any lesser, ‘mingled’ language of man.  This may give some additional insight into why people were “astounded” when the “Torah Made Flesh” taught with such Authority (MatitYahu/Matthew 7:28-9) and even why the whole of His instruction has obviously not YET been “Written on our hearts”  (YermeYahu/Jer. 31:34)

As an engineer, and later as a computer memory/storage system designer and engineer, I have been impressed with how much language itself influences thought patterns.  “Thinking machines” can be, and are, literally designed to run using a specific computer language.   Programs, too, that might be almost impossible to write in one language can be easy to do in another — especially when the language is designed for the purpose at hand!  Our minds, similarly, are shaped by the hand of the Designer.  Perhaps this is why Shaul (Paul) wrote that we should “let THIS mind be in you” — which is His — and warns that we should “take every thought captive” in obedience to Him as well.  Language truly does SHAPE our thoughts, as any parent should understand.

The Torah was probably given on Shavuot, and His Word was Written for us to later read.  Some seven weeks after the perfect sacrifice of the Torah Made Flesh, again on Shavuot, His Ruach Hakodesh, or Holy Spirit, began to testify through the languages of men.  And in the time ahead, we are told He will again return to us a pure language, so that we may all call upon the Name of YHVH, and serve Him as “echad”, in unity, of one consent.

Until that day, we still “see through a glass darkly“, through the lens of languages mingled with the contamination of pagan words, thoughts, and imagery.  It is certainly possible to learn much from His Word in whatever language we best understand.  But language DOES truly help shape thought patterns.  And there is great value to be had in seeking to “study to show ourselves approved;” to seek out the meaning of some of the most important words and concepts in as close a form as we can manage to the way they were Written for us.  Learning a new language is admittedly a lot harder than having Him miraculously purify one for us, too!  In the meanwhile, however, it is exciting to know that if we diligently seek Him, and try to see His Word in a different way, such as through a Hebraic mindset and language, He will reward our efforts.


Dealing with the pagan unmentionable

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.”