What fellowship have Torah-observant Believers with Xtianity?

August 8th, 2014

Recently a friend, who is still not QUITE convinced about all aspects of trying to walk in obedience to “Torah as Written,”  asked me a somewhat blunt question:  “Why are you so hard on the evangelical church?”

It’s probably true.  I often refer to paganized “holi-days” like Ishtar sun-god day and Xmas when I am teaching on the Sabbath, or observe that there are many verses in the “New Testament” which are all-too-often twisted.  Romans 13, of course, and there’s “Peter’s Dream” in Acts 10, which does NOT prove that “Jesus Christ died on the cross so we can all now eat ham sandwiches,” as well as the four “necessary but not sufficient conditions” from Acts 15:20-21, and literally scores of others.  “Not all Christian denominations,” I was reminded, teach the lie that the “law was nailed to the cross.”

And that’s a good point.  I certainly try not to lump all Christian denominations into the basket I tend to call “Xtianity.”  Some are starting to return to at least acknowledging that the Feasts of YHVH might still have something to teach us.  Some are questioning the pervasive “Rapture Cult” message that we’re going to get beamed out of here before anything REALLY bad can happen.  (Perhaps, though, because it’s getting harder to deny that bad things ARE happening already!)   Quite a few more are beginning to examine prophecy — even “Old Testament” prophecy — as ask questions like, “are we entering the End Times?”   (Although, in fairness, many have been predicting dates on that score for centuries, too.)

But the vast majority of the licensed, tax-exempt, 501c(3), “Caesar-created faith-based corporate institutions of another god,” still tend to ignore far too much of what the Messiah they claim to acknowledge as “Lord” said.  Things like that He would not change ANY of His instruction (torah) so long as heaven and earth still exist, or that “many” who practice torah-less-ness would come to hear Him say, “depart from Me, you who practice iniquity, I never knew you.”

“Fine,” I heard in response.  But the subsequent exchange boiled down pretty much to a reminder that, “you can catch more flies with honey,” than vinegar.  And that leads me to the real point of this article.  When we talk with people, particularly friends and loved ones, whom we KNOW, one-on-one — we must of course be sensitive to individual concerns, and engage in a discussion, where, hopefully, “iron sharpens iron.”  The value of personal discussion is just that — listening, quoting Scripture, responding to concerns, or misunderstandings, even prejudices, in a productive way.    But when it comes to a teaching in front of a fellowship gathering, or on the radio, or even in an article like this, things are a bit different.  While people can, and do, respond with questions or comments, the audience is often more “general.”  It usually includes people who ARE searching for more, and have come to realize that we have all, “inherited lies from our fathers.”   And — here is the real issue — there comes a time, warns Scripture repeatedly, when we must ACT:  to “blow the shofar,” because we recognize there’s a “sword coming upon the land,” or “come out of her,” because we can likewise see the plagues at hand.  And, ultimately, those who fail to “know the times and the seasons,” will end up being “without excuse.”

Why am I often so hard on the evangelical ‘church’?  For the same reason that Eliyahu (Elijah) was.  And Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and Isaiah.  And Moses was.  And Yahushua was.  Because it’s a matter of literally “life and death,” or blessing and cursing, and time draws short.  Many WILL die.  And many ARE being “led astray” by wolves masquerading as shepherds.

Shaul, or Paul, put it this way.  (2 Cor. 6:14-17) “…what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”  Just exactly who is he talking about being “unequally yoked” with?

The answer can be found in the repeated prohibition of mixing: of the clean and the unclean; of the qadosh, or “holy”, and the profane; and even of things like wool and linen garments, crops in a field, or different types of animals to a plow.  Most importantly, we are not to mix the worship of YHVH with the types of things pagans did — and still do! —  for their false “gods.”  From the infamous golden calf, to Baal, and Molech, and Ishtar/Astaroth/Astarte/Easter, to Xmas trees, the winter solstice, Mithras’ December 25th birthday, and Halloween, to mix what our Creator specifies that He wants with pagan traditions is not only expressly forbidden, but called “abomination.”

Shaul’s Second letter to the people of Corinth still seeking to “come out of” paganism goes on to make it so clear — IF we can rid ourselves of the “Xtian baggage” we often still carry:

And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?
for ye are the temple of the living Elohim…          (Are we really, if we commit idolatry before Him?)

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith YHVH, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you…”

Ultimately, if we are to do as he sought to do, to “speak boldly, as I ought to speak,” then we must confront idolatry, EVEN within the ‘evangelical church,’ exactly as Scripture confirms.  And perhaps ESPECIALLY with ‘the church’!  The last lines of Deuteronomy chapter 7 are unequivocal.  We are not even to “bring an abomination into [our] house!”  And the reason why is equally clear…”lest [we] be a cursed thing like” those idols He abhors.

If we love Him (John 14:15), He says we should keep His commands.  And if we love our brothers, we’ll speak His truth boldly.    Even if it sounds hard.

Parsha “Devarim” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

August 4th, 2014

Join Mark Call for two related, but different looks at this week’s Torah portion, Devarim, which begins the Book of Deuteronomy. This week’s discussion also includes a bit more from the Haftorah as well, in the first three chapters from the prophet Isaiah.

The first recording is the regular Erev Shabbat teaching, from the Shabbat Shalom Mesa fellowship, and is again an overview of the entire parsha:

SSM Devarim 1 Aug 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat concentrates on specifics from the parsha in more detail, as well as the connections to the current “times and seasons”. Given what is happening today, and the context of this Torah portion, perhaps a good subtitle of at least one aspect of the teaching could be, “What? You call THOSE giants scary?”

Talking Torah Teaching – Devarim – 2 August, 2014

 

 

Parsha “Masei” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

July 28th, 2014

Join Mark Call for two related, but different looks at this week’s Torah portion, Masei, from Numbers chapters 33 through the end of the Book.  This week’s discussion also includes a bit more from the Haftorah as well, in the second and third chapters from the prophet Jeremiah.

The first recording is the regular Erev Shabbat teaching, from the Shabbat Shalom Mesa fellowship, and is again an overview of the entire parsha:

SSM Masei 26 July, 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat concentrates on specifics from the parsha in more detail, as well as the connections to the current “times and seasons”.  Be forewarned due to what might be called “adult content.”  Because there is a significant aspect of this week’s teaching which concerns idolatry, and the fact that YHVH through His prophet didn’t “pull any punches” — be advised that Mark doesn’t either.

TT CooH 27 July, 2014

Vows, marriage, and lawlessness —

July 20th, 2014

 

Parsha Matot

Join Mark Call for two related, but different looks at this week’s Torah portion, Matot, from Numbers chapters 30 through 32.  The discussion of vows, in particular, is one of the most important understandings in all of Scripture when it comes to recognizing what is wrong today with a faithless world, and the institution of ‘marriage’ in particular.

The first recording is the regular Erev Shabbat teaching, from the Shabbat Shalom Mesa fellowship, and is again an overview of the entire parsha:

SSM teaching – Matot 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat concentrates on specifics from the parsha in more detail.  This week, Mark focuses on Numbers chapter 30 (as you might expect!) and on broken vows that shed light on the ‘times and the seasons.’

 TT CooH teaching – Matot 2014 – Vows – marriage – and why Lawlessness abounds

Zealot vs Zealot

July 14th, 2014

 

Torah portion “Pinchas” (Numbers 25-29)

 

Join Mark Call for two related, but different looks at this week’s Torah portion, Pinchas, from Numbers chapters 25 through 29.

The first recording is the regular Erev Shabbat teaching, from the Shabbat Shalom Mesa fellowship, and is generally an overview of the entire parsha:

SSM 11 July, 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat concentrates on specifics from the parsha in more detail.  In particular, this teaching about what is really “Zealot vs zealot” has a lot to say to us today about leadership, ‘fanatacism,’ and even some things that may hit pretty close to home today.

 TT CooH Pinchas 12 July, 2014

It’s a “difficult” portion, but well worth a bit of deeper study!

 

Mark Call – Parsha “Balak” teaching from Shabbat Shalom Mesa

July 6th, 2014

Join Mark Call for two related, but different looks at this week’s Torah portion, Balak, from Numbers chapters 22 through 25:9.

The first recording is the regular Erev Shabbat teaching, from the Shabbat Shalom Mesa fellowship, and is again an overview of the entire parsha:

Shabbat Shalom Mesa teaching – Balak – 4 July, 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat concentrates on specifics from the parsha in more detail.  The story of the king Balak and the somewhat problematic Bilaam has a lot to teach us today.

 

Talking Torah teaching – Balak – Come out of her

YHVH as Game Designer

July 4th, 2014

The last chapter of the Book of Daniel (12:4) is one of several prophecies which are said to be “sealed”, “until the time of the end,” when, among other things, “knowledge shall increase.” Sometimes it seems that we might today be getting very close to the unsealing of those prophecies, for a number of reasons.

The “nature of the Godhead” has been a source of conflict, division, and even war for the better part of two millenia at this point. Is He “three persons”, or only One? “Fully God and fully man,” or can we even wrap our minds around the distinction? This author has long stated that I will not “break fellowship over mathematics,” whether one has difficulty with differential calculus, or, more to the point, even how 3 == 1. After all, the Hebrew word echad, as in, “YHVH our Elohim, YHVH is echad,” (Deut. 6:4) can mean the cardinal number “one”, or even “unity.”

Is there a way to reconcile what seems totally contradictory? Or to begin to at least establish a picture of something now that might have eluded description in a way mere mortals could comprehend for centuries? I suggest that as “knowledge has increased,” that might be more achievable now than it has ever been. And while no analogy, or metaphor, is ever quite perfect, our familiarity now with computers, computer languages, hardware, operating systems, and even computer GAMES may now give us a bit of insight into that mystery that has divided believers since certain ‘creeds’ were written – and too often enforced at the point of a sword.

How can YHVH be “outside time” as we know it? How did He (Gen. 1, and later, John 1:1) speak the world into existence? We know that the “power of the tongue,” is immense, and that our vows really matter. Now we even know that computer languages, and programs written in them, can be likewise used for great good, or tremendous evil. It is no longer a giant leap to imagine a programmer ‘speaking’ (or writing) a whole virtual world into existence.   It is what game designers do.

When the designer(s) [it takes more of us, clearly, to do something far less sophisticated, and infinitely less complex than His creation!] sit down to create a new adventure-type game, a number of things must happen. The torah, or instruction, about how the game is to be played, and what the rules are for that particular virtual universe, must be laid out. What kinds of creatures populate the world? What are their strengths and weaknesses?  What are the “Laws of nature” there?  How does one “win”?

And all of that follows other, “lower-level” aspects of the design, everything from the nature of the operating system to the type of graphics system and computer hardware required. The first step truly might be likened to something analogous to “let there be light,” after which the rest of the creation follows.

Once the “Yah as Game Designer” metaphor is clear, certain other pieces begin to fall into place. How can the Creator be “outside of time?” That one’s easy: He just hits the ‘pause’ button. Those who populate His universe never know any difference. He can look “forward” or “behind” in time just as easily, run “simulations”, or do any number of things with His world that earlier theologians cannot have imagined, and modern ones might find disturbing. Thankfully, our Elohim has made it clear that He does NOT like to “break the rules” that He Wrote; He is in fact, the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, whether we understand His notion about “time” or not.

How might such a Designer choose to interact with those inside His creation? An array of choices present themselves, both in Scripture, and now, even our imaginations. He might choose to talk to them in dreams and visions, or via ‘messengers’ (malakim), or even from within a burning bush or a thundering mountain. But the form that would be most familiar to people who have ever played a modern “adventure” game would be to enter into His creation as a player, just like those within that universe. Would that character be both “fully man” and yet echad with the Designer Himself? Certainly it could truthfully be said that He “does the will of the One Who sent Him.” And just as certainly, it would be true that ‘no one has seen Him’ – indeed, those within that virtual world have no real conception of what the Creator might be, other than perhaps the knowledge they were somehow ‘created in His image.’

Finally, how could such an incredible Designer even begin to describe Himself to the inhabitants of the world He created?  That, too, should be obvious.  In terms, and with concepts, from His  ‘game’ itself; including by describing Himself as a Father, or King, or Master, or Husband.

Certainly, no analogy is perfect, and the most sophisticated virtual universe men have ever assembled pales in comparison to what YHVH has created for us.  And yet the imitations, limited as they might be, are now good enough — in movies, or flight simulations for example — to be real enough for training, or even for propaganda and deception.  That, too, is something that fits with any number of Biblical prophecies.

It may very well be that as “knowledge has increased,” we find ourselves more able to at least conceive of how some of the Scriptures which once seemed confusing and even contradictory can really reflect a better, albeit still limited, understanding of the nature of our reality, and what YHVH is teaching us.  That, in turn, might help us to focus on the ‘weightier matters‘ of His Word, rather than disputing among ourselves over “doubtful things.”  If time does indeed draw short, and  the kind of tribulation we can see coming is only the ‘beginning of sorrows’ — then we’ve all got far more important things to do than “argue about the math.”

Torah portion “Chukat” (Numbers 19-21)

June 29th, 2014

Join Mark Call for two related, but different looks at this week’s Torah portion, Chukat, from Numbers chapters 19 through 21.

The first recording is the regular Erev Shabbat teaching, from the Shabbat Shalom Mesa fellowship, and is again an overview of the entire parsha:

SSM Chukat 2014

The longer teaching from Shabbat concentrates on specifics from the parsha in more detail.  What could possibly the connection between the confusing story of the red heifer, and Moses not being allowed to enter the land?  And what does it say to us today?

TT CooH Chukat 2014 – Pictures, Metaphors:   Just do it, whether we understand or no

Korach – Leadership, rebellion, and community (as we “come out of her”)

June 22nd, 2014

Join Mark Call for two related, but different looks at this week’s Torah portion, Korach, from Numbers chapters 16 through 18.

The Shabbat morning teaching concentrates, on some specifics from the parsha, in more detail, and with, as usual, topical references relevant to current events and the “Come out of her” connection.

Bokker Shabbat teaching – Korach

This is the regular Erev Shabbat teaching, from the Shabbat Shalom Mesa fellowship, and is again an overview of the entire parsha. This week it includes a more extended look at the news of the week, as well, for reasons that will hopefully be clear:

SSM Erev Shabbat Teaching – Korach

The Romans 13 Twisting

June 19th, 2014

 

There is one particularly pernicious “twisting” of Scripture that probably tends to turn up in “Sunday Churchianity” more than any other. When Kefa (aka “Simon Peter”) wrote in the second letter that bears his name (II Peter 3:15-16) that “in the writings of our beloved brother” Shaul or Paul are many things that are “wrested” or “twisted…by the unlearned and untaught,” he may already have had a vision of what a paganized, co-opted church would do to Romans chapter 13 in just a millenium or two.

Here is the standard, “Authorized” English rendering of the “letter to the Romans”, verses 1 and 2. Unfortunately, there is so much historic and translation-bias “baggage” in the way that passage is rendered, AND TAUGHT, that the worst “twisting” Peter warned about has already happened:

 

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For this reason, the Modern, Politically-Correct, 501c(3) State-Church Approved, Officially-Authorized Version of that verse (arguably it’s about the ONLY verse that still even HAS Washington’s Stamp of Approval) pretty much boils down to, “when Big Brother says ‘JUMP’, you must say, ‘How high, master?’ “.

The trouble is, that popular “teaching” – that to obey the State is to obey God – is just plain WRONG, and antithetical to the message of the rest of Scripture. Especially when the state tries to pretend that it IS “god”, or “another master,” imbued with the power to overwrite not only His Written Word, but its own “supreme law” by imperial edict anyway.

Why? Isn’t that a bit of hyperbole? At least, unless the State tries to require people to commit acts that directly violate Scripture.

You mean – like murder? Theft? Dishonest weights and measures? Subsidizing what He calls “abomination,” and calling it ‘licensed marriage’? Leaving aside the obvious objections, like just “in Whose Name” do we claim to be working, anyway? And, Who do we truly serve? Caesar, or YHVH? There’s a big difference between walking in obedience to the REAL King, Creator, and Elohim of Scripture, and those false self-proclaimed “gods” who would like to take His place. While YHVH may allow bad kings, conquerors like a Nebuchadnezzar, or even a “Beast” government to chasten those who walk in rebellion to Him, it is always clear that His “remnant” must have discernment.

Paul ALSO said, and it was in that very same letter to the Romans (v 6:16), well before those troublesome Most Twisted Verses, to be very careful just WHO you “submit yourself” as a servant to obey. For, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

It would seem that, just as Scripture emphasizes consistently throughout, that we have a CHOICE about Whom we obey, Whom we worship, Whom we serve. Paul is hardly contradicting himself, or his heavenly Master. Note that in the well-known “spiritual battle” line from the same author’s letter to the Ephesians, Shaul uses the same word to describe those we fight, or wrestle, AGAINST:

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powersG1849 against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Furthermore, remember that several apostles were among those who were arrested and jailed for FAILING to obey those “higher powers” that were “ordained of God.” Something is wrong with the claim here. Check out the story in Acts chapter 5. Following their arrest for “resisting the power,” rather than, “receiv[ing] to themselves damnation,” they were freed by an “angel of the Lord.” When confronted directly for their very un-Romans-13-like behavior, “Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.”

And Scripture is replete with other examples of men – and women – of God who did not submit to some “higher power,” whether in the form of a state, or its priests. Particularly a pagan state that saw itself as ‘god’. The Hebrew midwives in Egypt, commanded by Pharoah to kill male babies, “feared God,” disobeyed the king, and, “therefore God dealt well with them.” They were even rewarded with “households.” Young David did not allow King Saul to do to him what that “higher power,” unquestionably ordained by the Almighty, would have wanted to do to him, either. Indeed, the litany of kings who “did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD” alone should prove that the “Clergy Response Team” twisting of Romans 13 sounds more like something they would have written than YHVH Himself.

The context, consistency, and totality of Scripture reveal the lie. But there’s another way to debunk the Caesar-Approved Spin on Romans 13. Just look even briefly at the language. Even in the Greek rendering of the original letter, the key word in the verses is “exousia”, repeated several times. The primary Strong’s definition (Number G1849) says it means “power of choice,” or “liberty” of “doing as one pleases.” Other verses use the word to indicate “authority,” but the context makes clear that such authority can be used either for good, in the service of YHVH, or for evil, as in the “power of darkness.”

In I Cor. 8:9, the same word ‘exousia’ is rendered this way:

But take heed lest by any means this liberty G1849 of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

Like all power, authority, and liberty – there is a way to use that “exousia” in accord with the Word, in accord with the will of YHVH, and another way which is in opposition to Him. To “rightly divide the Word,” includes understanding that proper context!

Let’s try it THIS way, and see if the apparent meaning changes any:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher liberties. For there is no liberty but of God: the liberties that be are ordained of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the liberty, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

It certainly seems to put a whole different spin on the text, doesn’t it?

Whether the text is talking about “power” OR “liberty” – the key point remains. Whether for good, or for evil, it’s all about Who we serve.