RETURNING TO HIS WAYS
by Avram Yehoshua
SHALOMThe Peace of Papa God be with you today
Footnotes (at end of article), and Footnote numbers in red.
My friend, please read this article prayerfully. If you've not come across this perspective before, ask the Spirit of the Holy One to reveal to you if this is His Truth or not.
I've come to see that what we have been led to believe about Jesus (the English Name for Yeshua), is not Truth. It's anti-God and very deceptive. I've not always thought this way. In 1983 the Lord Yeshua began to open my eyes to His Truth that has been buried for 1900 years. May you find this treasure also.
When I gave my life to Jesus in October 1975, I was led to assemble on Sunday, Easter and Christmas and eat ham. These were the holy days and holy ways for Christians and I received them without reservation, 'For Christ is the end of the Law...'
In October of 1983, the Spirit of the Holy One began to lead me to reconsider these times and celebrations that I had come to consider as holy, thinking they were authorized by God's Word. I saw that Sunday, Easter and Christmas were given to Christians, but not by God. They were traditions that men took from pagans, that actually went against what the Lord wanted us to walk in.
I also saw that there were celebrations the Lord wanted all His followers to walk in, both Jew and Gentile. The Church had thrown them out. I was shocked. I had been lied to and deceived by the Church.
I came to realize that Christianity, as it has been practiced for the last 1900 years, rested on a hellenized perception of God's Word. Hellenism is the culture and thought pattern of ancient Greece. The definition of Hellenism is:
HELLENISM'Grecism' 'devotion to or imitation of ancient Greek thought, custom or styles.'1Alexander the Great, in his conquest of the world 300 years before Yeshua, established this way of perception in all the countries that he conquered. It was only in the tiny country of Judah, that Hellenism would be fought.
How did this effect Christianity? In its perception of the Bible. But, before it could effect it, Hellenism had to be brought into it. You see Christianity, from the outset, was a Jewish religion. Hebraic in nature, not Greek. And there is a world of difference between the two.
The reason that Hellenism had a chance to distort Christianity was because of anti-semitism in the Gentile followers of Jesus in Rome. The Roman Empire was vast and its control of nations was great. Only little Judah would not capitulate to their demands to worship Caesar as God. There was no love lost between them.
As rebellion broke out in Jerusalem in 68 CE (AD), the Romans sent legions to squelch it. By 70 CE, 600,000 Jews had been murdered, and the Temple in Jerusalem, the heart of every Jew, was destroyed.
Think of the effect this would have upon Jews throughout the Roman Empire. They would come to hate the Romans even more. In most major cities of the Roman Empire, riots would spring up by the Jews in protest, against the destruction of the Temple. The ensuing repressive measures against the Jewish people are well documented.2
Around 100 CE, in the city of Rome, the Gentile believers in Jesus, for fear of being considered part of the Jewish people by the Roman Empire, distanced themselves from 'Jewish practices.' Till that time, both Jew and Gentile in Jesus assembled on the Sabbath.3 They both kept Passover.4 To the Roman Empire, the Gentiles in Jesus, were part of something Jewish. It was out of fear of persecution that these Gentiles in Rome began to change the Holy Days of the Lord,5 His Law,6 and the way the New Covenant would be perceived.7
This could have remained an isolated phenomenon except that the Christians in Rome would grow into the Roman Catholic Church. They would wield incredible power and influence over all the other Gentile churches in Greece, Asia Minor and Europe for the next 1800 years. With their throwing out of 'Jewish practices' (so they wouldn't be seen as 'Jewish'), they'd replace them with something else. Enter not only Sunday, Easter and Christmas, but also hellenization, a philosophical way of perceiving Scripture, and therefore Reality.
To give you an understanding of the difference between the Hebraic approach to the Word of God, and the hellenized one, we need only take two Bibles that are exactly the same in every way.
THE TWO CARS
These two Bibles we will change into two Mercedes Benz. Identical in every way. We give one key to Nikos the Greek, and the other to Yakov the Jew. Nikos immediately raises the hood and begins to take the spark plugs out. He pulls the wheels from the car. He takes the upholstery out. In the end, Nikos will be able to tell us how much each spark plug weighs. And how much tensile strength there is in each of the springs or coils of the upholstery. He'll be able to tell us the amount of paint on each spark plug, etc. etc. etc. This is called systematic theology. It dissects everything and compartmentalizes them. It's great, if you like your car in parts.
Yakov the Jew, on the other hand, takes the key, puts it in the ignition and drives off. Same cars, two totally different approaches, as you can see. Same Bibles, two totally different ways of seeing the Scriptures. One Hebraic, the other Greek. And so, how we come to the New Covenant, what filters we see it through, will determined how we think God wants us to walk in it.
Why would one want to try and filter a Hebraic book, the Bible (Genesis through Revelation), through the thought patterns of the Greeks? It would be like trying to learn about the Apache Indians from an Englishman. I'd rather learn from the Apache Indian chief who lives it.
Hebraic perception of Reality is totally different from Hellenistic. The Hebrews walked with the One True God for more than 2,000 years, before Jesus. More importantly, the Lord walked with them. God was the influence of the Hebraic perception of Reality. It was His Reality. No other nation knew God as Israel did. God chose Israel, not Greece, to reveal Himself to. Hellenism is the thought pattern for Western civilization, but not God's thought pattern.
In order to do away with the 7th Day Sabbath of the Lord8 and Passover9 and other Holy Days of God, the early Roman Church replaced10 them with the idolatrous 'holy' days of the pagans. Sunday, Easter and Christmas were celebrated 1500 years before Jesus. The Church would have to philosophically bar the way for anyone to return to God's Holy Ways.
GOD'S HOLY WAYS
Enter Hellenistic thought. It has robbed every Gentile believer of their Hebraic heritage in the Lord for the past 1900 years. Have you ever wondered why you didn't assemble on the Sabbath of Scripture?11 Why Sunday has 'replaced it?' The foundation rests on the assumption that the Law (of Moses) has been done away with. The Jews are under Law, and Christians are under grace, and never shall the two mix or meet.
Hellenization cuts the petals of the flower from the stem and the soil which nurture it. Hellenization says that the Old and New Covenants of Moses and Jesus are two totally different Realities. But, in Truth, God used Abram as the Seed He planted. Moses and Israel as the Stem. And Yeshua as the Petals of the Rose. A Living Plant.
The New Covenant is the flowering of the Rose Petals upon the Stem and Soil of the Old.12 Many say that the New Covenant, replaces the Old.13 But this is not the correct interpretation or biblical understanding. The word new in Hebrew is 'hah-dash' which means 'to make new, to renew, restore.'14 It is also used for the new moon, or the new month in the Bible.15 These things tell us that the word does not mean something that has never been. The picture given is of a dull sword being resharpened. The New Covenant actually renews or resharpens the Mosaic. It does not throw it out.
Is not this what Yeshua does in His Teaching on the Mountain? Stating that if one has hate in his heart for his brother, he has already murdered him, and broken the Commandment of Moses (to not murder)?16 Yeshua revealed the essence of the Commandment not to murder. The essence of the Commandment not to murder, was also intertwined with the two great Commandments to love God and man.17 Yeshua was resharpening the Mosaic, showing us what was really there all the time.
This is a totally different concept of what many believe how the word new is to be understood. Hebrews 8:8-13, in quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34 uses the Greek word for new that corresponds with the meaning of the Hebrew word. The Greek word is 'kay-nos.' Kay-nos has several meanings, one of which is, 'in contrast to something old, with no criticism of the old implied.'18 It also carries the meaning of being 'renovated.'19 It can also mean something that never was. But you must remember that the word was first used by Jeremiah. It was only translated into Greek, which gives us the possibility of something that never was before. In the Hebrew that doesn't exist. The idea is of the Old being resharpened.
The separation of the Mosaic and Yeshuic Covenants, as practiced in the Church, rests on the assumption that new has to mean something completely different. And there even seems to be Scripture to support it. Please realize that when we have a preconceived notion of how things should be (the Mercedes Benz), we will get out of the Word of God what we are looking for. Romans 10:4 is one of many great examples of this. Here are two common translations:'For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.' (King James, the 'unofficial-offical' Protestant Bible)As you can see from the bold, italicized words, it seems that the Law has been discarded. But if that is what the Word of God is saying, then can Christians murder, steal and be adulterous? The Apostle Paul, in this same letter states that, 'The Law is holy...' and '...spiritual.'20
'...The Law has come to an end with Christ, and everyone who has faith may be justified.' (Jerusalem Bible, the official Catholic Bible)
Many will say that murder, stealing, etc. are all sin and wrong for Christians to do. I agree. But they are found in the Law. If it was done away with, then we have a problem here. Many say that what was really done away with, were the ceremonial laws. The laws that regulated the Temple and sacrificial system. Please notice that it doesn't say that in Romans 10:4, it says, 'the Law.' Not 'some laws' or 'ceremonial laws'. You might ask then, 'If the Law was done away with, then shouldn't it mean all the Law?'
Some people will go on to explain that it is only certain laws that are done away with. The ones not found in the New Covenant. The dietary laws21 and all the Holy Days of the Lord God of Israel, etc.22 Yet can the dietary laws and the Sabbaths of the Lord be classified as ceremonial, belonging to the Temple? And where does it say in the New Covenant that the Temple sacrifices are not for Jewish believers? We see the Apostles assembling at the Temple every day.23 And Paul is about to sacrifice animals for himself, and pay for the expense of many sacrifices for other Jewish believers in Yeshua too.24
Now, before we get too far afield, let's return to the Greek New Covenant text of Romans 10:4 and see what the Greek word for end (as in 'end of the Law') is. It reads, 'For Christ is the 'teal-los' of the Law...'
We find that teal-los can indeed mean 'end, in the sense of termination, cessation.'25 Also there is, 'the last part, the close, the conclusion'26 which reminds me of a four act play. The fourth act is the last to come, but if you only see the fourth act, you've missed 75% of the play! How can you understand the fourth act without being there to see the first three? And how can one understand the New Covenant, without Hebraically understanding the Old?
Another meaning of teal-los is the 'end or goal toward a movement which is being directed, the outcome.'27 It's like putting a cake in the oven and taking it out only when it is finished or fulfilled or its time has come or ended. It doesn't mean that the cake is no more. (Christ came to fulfill the Law, to flush out its true and deeper meaning. By revealing that the essence of the Law was not to hate, and if one did, they already broke the Commandment to murder, Yeshua expanded the meaning of His time to show that Man's heart is in need of a new heart. No one can stand 'behind' the Law and think that they have 'kept it.' For God wants us to realize that no one can come before Him who is holy, without Him giving us that new heart that He speaks of in Ezekiel 36:22ff. Yeshua revealing the essence of the Law does not to do away with the Law.) It is these last two meanings of teal-los that are crucial to our understanding of God and His Word to us. (And actually, meanings two and three dove tail.)
When we try and perceive what the Lord is speaking to us in His Word, we need to realize that Scripture must be compared to other Scripture. For us to come to an understanding that is compatible with what God means, we must accurately interpret His Word. For what we come to believe, we will practice. If the 7th Day Sabbath of the Lord is still in effect for us, then we must walk in it, in obedience to Yeshua.
The Lexicon, in relation to teal-los meaning 'end or goal,' says that, 'this is the place for Romans 10:4, in the sense that Christ is the goal and the termination of the law at the same time.'28 It is here that one's philosophy dramatically comes into play (the 2 cars). The Lexicon gives the word both sets of meanings. Obviously they have 'ended' the Law with 'termination.' But what if the Spirit of the Holy One means only 'goal or aim,' and not 'termination'?
The Messiah, by taking upon Himself our sin, our punishment, has set us free from the condemnation of the Law.29 This doesn't mean that the Law ends. Every time I sin, the Law condemns me. But, in Messiah, I am no longer under (this condemnation of) the Law. But the Law shows me when I am not in line with God's Ways and that I am sinning against Him. We must look to God's Law as our guide for not only what He sees as right and wrong, but what is pleasing to Him also. Here we have the major theological difference between the Church's understanding of the place of the Law... and God's. Does that mean that there is no Law anymore because of Yeshua? Can I steal? Must I tithe?
Man invented an artificial way to separate the Commandments of God. Hellenism seeks to put everything in to a compartment. 'These laws you do, but those laws you don't.' These are the traditions of man that teach that the Law of God can be divided up into ceremonial and moral laws, something the Bible does not do.
The moral laws, Christians see themselves bound to (no stealing, etc.). But the ceremonial are ended. Included in the ceremonial are the Temple rituals, the Sabbaths, Passover, the dietary laws, etc.
The problem with this is that there is no biblical platform from which to separate one from the other. In God's Eyes, both Sabbath and stealing revolve around moral and spiritual issues. Which is more spiritual? God declares that the breaking of His Sabbath Day is punishable by death.30 No where in the Bible is stealing given this kind of value.31 To know why, you must realize Who the Sabbath pictures: Yeshua, in all His many facets as Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier and Messiah. The Sabbath is God's repository for these foundational concepts. This is just some of the understanding that we know. The Lord calls us to honor Him, by observing His Commandments. Even if we don't understand them all.
The Messianic Jewish author of the Jewish New Covenant, Dr. David Stern, translates the passage, 'For the goal at which the Torah (Law) aims is the Messiah, who offers righteousness to everyone who trusts.'32 We see here that he translates teal-los in a way that is totally different from the Catholic and Protestant interpretations. Who is right? Dr. Stern goes on to say that, 'the goal at which the Torah (Law) aims is acknowledging and trusting the Messiah...'33 He also shares this:'An error made by all major English versions and by most commentators - and one with profound anti-semitic implications even when none are intended - is the rendering here of the Greek word 'teal-los' as 'end,' in the sense of 'termination.'He states that 'teal-los' is used 42 times in the New Covenant and only four or five times does it mean termination or cessation. Now we have two totally different understandings of the same passage. The Greek and the Hebrew.
'The Messiah has not brought the Law to an end, nor is He the termination of the Law as a way to righteousness. The Torah continues. It is eternal. God's Torah, properly understood as the very teaching which Yeshua upholds (1st Corinthians 9:21 & Notes, Galatians 6:2 & Notes), remains the one and only way to righteousness - although it is Yeshua the Messiah through whom the Torah's righteousness comes.'
'This truth is not peripheral but central to the Gospel, and it cannot be compromised, even if the whole of Christian theology were to oppose it!'
'Then why is 'teal-los' regularly regarded as meaning 'termination' here? Because theology gets in the way of exegesis, wrong theology that falsely understands the Mosaic Law as not offering God's righteousness through trust, wrong theology that denigrates God's Torah and thereby both the God who gave it and the Jewish people to whom He gave it.'34
Most people interpret the words of Yeshua in the context of Paul, or what they think Paul is saying. When we go back to Yeshua Himself, and let His Words speak to us, we find Scripture 'at odds' with the traditional Church interpretation of Paul at Romans 10:4. Yeshua, in beginning His Teaching on the Mountain proclaims:
UNDERSTANDING YESHUA IN HIS HEBRAIC CONTEXT'Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till Heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even one of the least of these Commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the Kingdom of Heaven.'35Yeshua had no intention of 'doing away with the Law.' He emphatically declares it saying, 'I have not come to abolish the Law.' He says it will be here as long as the Heavens and the Earth are. Look what He declares about the least of the Commandments of God. The one who keeps it will be called great in His Kingdom.
Dr. Stern says that grave damage has been done to Jews and Christians because of anti-semitic theology:'The Greek word for 'to complete' is 'plerosai,' literally 'to fill;' the usual rendering here however, is 'to fulfill.' Replacement Theology which wrongly teaches that the Church has replaced the Jews as God's people, understands this verse wrongly in two ways.'For if that were true, then there would be no need for me to love God or anyone else. For has not Jesus already 'fulfilled' those great Commandments? If fulfilling means 'doing away with,' then am I not released from having to love as Yeshua commands? But we know how silly that is. Dr. Stern goes on:
'First, Yeshua's 'fulfilling' the Torah is thought to mean that it is unnecessary for people to fulfill it now. But there is no logic to the proposition that Yeshua's obeying the Torah does away with our need to obey it.'36'In fact Sha'ul (Paul), whose object in his letter to the Romans is to foster 'the obedience that comes from trusting' in Yeshua, teaches that such trusting does not abolish Torah but confirms it (Romans. 1:5, 3:31).'In Matthew 5-7, Yeshua explains the fuller spiritual meaning of the Mosaic Law. We come to a crossroads. What does this mean to you and me? Does God really want me to obey Him when He speaks of assembling on His Sabbath38 and keeping it holy? Must I abstain from work and secular things and consecrate the 7th Day, to be spent with Him and His People, and doing ministry? Or can I do anything I want? Isn't the Sabbath Day done away with by Jesus? Hasn't He freed us from God's Law?
'Second, with identical lack of logic, Yeshua's 'fulfilling' the Prophets is thought to imply that no prophecies from the Tanakh (the Old Testament), remain for the Jews. But the Hebrew Bible's promises to the Jewish People are not abolished in the name of being 'fulfilled in Yeshua.'
'It is true that Yeshua kept the Torah perfectly and fulfilled predictions of the Prophets but that is not the point here. Yeshua did not come to abolish but 'to make full' (plerosai) the meaning of what the Torah and the ethical demands of the Prophets require. Thus He came to complete our understanding of the Torah and the Prophets, of what God requires of us through them.'37
Please do not allow the terms Law (Torah) and legalism to mean the same thing to you. If you change the word Torah or Law to its correct meaning, you have 'the Teaching or Instruction of God'. This Teaching is affirmed by the Apostle Paul when he states:
THE HORSE AND THE CART'All Scripture is inspired by God and can profitably be used for teaching, for refuting error, for guiding people's lives and teaching them to be holy. This is how the man who is dedicated to God becomes fully equipped and ready for any good work.'39Paul's Bible was the Tenah, what some call the Old Testament. The New Covenant was not canonized or collected together in a body as we know it until after 200 CE. If a congregation in Paul's day had one or two of Paul's letters, that would be a lot.
By saying that 'no one can keep the Law,' if you substitute, 'Word of God' for 'Law,' you have the saying, 'No one can keep the Word of God.' Is that what we want to tell new believers who give their life to Jesus? When they ask us if God wants us to love one another as Jesus did, we say, 'Yes, but don't worry about it, no one can keep that.'
A new believer comes to you and asks about loving our enemies. Must we forgive them? You reply, 'Yes, but don't worry about it. No one can keep this law. Jesus kept it for us. Besides, it's really only what's in our heart that counts, isn't it?'
Paul speaks of the place of God's Law in the life of every believer:'Do we mean that faith makes the Law pointless? Not at all: we are giving the Law its true value.''40He is saying that the Torah is the cart and Yeshua is the Horse. Let's not throw out the cart. The cart has its place!
The Apostle John has a very strong understanding of the Torah. If we don't know the Law, we sin against the Holy One, in ignorance. Yeshua came to deliver us from the bondage to the Law of God, which is condemnation, not the Law of God. John writes:'Surely everyone who entertains this hope (of being like Yeshua), must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Messiah. Anyone who sins at all breaks the Law, because to sin is to break the Law.'41We need the Torah as a guide in this life as to what is pleasing to the Lord. Can you keep Yeshua's Word? Someone who hates has already murdered. To not only abstain from adultery, but to not look with lust upon a woman (or a man as the case may be)? Of course not. The purpose of the Law is to reveal our hearts. The Law of God points to our carnal nature which is hostile to the Word of God. 'Because the carnal mind is not subject to the Law of God, nor indeed can be.42 But it doesn't mean we don't strive to keep Yeshua's word. Believe me, it's much easier to abstain from pork, than to love my neighbor or my enemy.
Legalism is the perversion of the Law of God. Legalism is, 'strict, literal or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code.'43 Please don't confuse God's Holy Law44 with legalism. Yeshua kept all of God's Law that pertained to Him, and was never legalistic about it. Because Yeshua kept the Law, does that mean that we can do whatever we want? In Him we have an example of how to live our lives by His Spirit, with His Blood cleansing us. Yeshua kept every Sabbath and Passover holy, and never ate ham.
If you don't agree with me, it may be that I am wrong and you are right. When the Spirit of the Holy One began to deal with me on this issue, of how the Torah of Moses effects all followers of the Jewish Messiah, I didn't agree with the Holy Spirit either. I said, 'The Law was done away with.' The Spirit showed me some of these very things and one day, I looked up and said, 'You know Lord, You have a point.' From that day I began to see there was another way of perceiving the Bible.
If what I am telling you is the Truth, and what you believe in this matter is not, then you are going to be in for quite a struggle. It is not easy to look at teaching that you have come to view as Scripture. What I have come to see though, is that the Church has filled the void left by the rejection of the Word of God (the Law), with Babylonian celebrations and thought: Sunday, Christmas, Easter and ham, etc. If you are really intent on finding the Truth, you will know it.45 If the Sabbath was God's Day in Creation, and all mankind will come to worship Him on it in the future,46 then isn't it peculiar that the Church doesn't observe it now?
Hellenistic understanding of the Hebrew Bible (both Mosaic and Yeshuic Covenants), reigns in the Church today. I pray that one day we can sit down and discuss this.
Part of the ignorance in the Church stems from an inability to disconnect Salvation from biblical lifestyle and its inherent meanings. For instance, there is no 'law' we keep in order to receive Eternal Life. (Yet, we must believe in Yeshua. This one might say is a 'law' also.) God has done this in the same way for believers as He did for our Fathers in Egypt, by the Blood of the Lamb. This is the model or pattern for salvation in both the Mosaic and Yeshuic Covenants. First the death of the Lamb and the freeing of the slaves, and then the walk with God.
SALVATION AND THE LAW
In the days of Peter, James and Paul, the Law had come to be the vehicle by which many Jews thought that if they kept it, they would enter Eternal Life or salvation. This is works righteousness. It is nowhere found in the Law of Moses but is a perversion.
Earning salvation by keeping the Law is a perversion of God's Word. God saved the Hebrews by the blood of the lamb.47 Then He brought them to Mt. Sinai to learn His Ways, His Rules, His Law, His Torah, His Teaching. But they were already saved.
God does the same with those who believe in Yeshua. We are promised salvation from eternal damnation on Judgment Day by the Blood of the Lamb. Then we are introduced to His Ways; love your enemies, etc. These are not suggestions and they don't nullify His previous Commandments (given to Moses by God).
Let's not throw out His Sabbath because it is 'Jewish.' The only reason it is seen as 'Jewish' is because God gave His Holy Sabbath Day to the Hebrew nation. When a Gentile comes to the Jewish Messiah, he is grafted into Israel.48 The Law of God is for our blessing and gives us God's wisdom and perspective. We know this with things like lying, stealing, adultery, loving your enemy, but when we come to the Sabbath and Holy Days, many think they are no longer valid.
Many say, 'No one can keep the Law.' This implies that you should not even try. It's one thing to strive to keep the Law of God and fall short. It's quite another to say it doesn't exist. That God doesn't want us to keep it. Greek verses Hebraic.
I may never walk in the Sabbath Day the way Yeshua did. But every week I have another opportunity to ask the Spirit of God to lead me into the Joy of His Rest.49 It's quite another to say that the Sabbath has been done away with and I don't have to be bothered or concerned about it. Both views can not be from the Living God. It is very important for us to accurately understand the Scriptures in this area, for what we believe, we strive in Him to walk out.
Imagine if we applied that same thought pattern of denial of God's Law, to love and tithing and telling our brother to go in peace without feeding him, when we know he is hungry. But that's what the Church does with the Sabbath, Passover and the dietary laws, etc. We don't have to keep them because no one can keep it? The Messiah died so we don't have to tithe or love one another? He kept them so therefore we don't have to? Isn't the Church then making up its own laws?, in opposition to God?
Have you never read in Scripture about what God says about His Commandments?'Keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding. When they come to know of all these laws they will exclaim, "No other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation."You might say from the Greek perspective: 'That was for the Jews!' And I would from the Hebrew: 'The Gentile is engrafted into and part of the House of Israel.'
And indeed, what great nation is there that has its gods so near as the Lord our God is to us whenever we call to Him? And what great nation is there that has such righteous judgments to match this whole Torah that I put before you today?'50
'See, today I set before you life and prosperity, death and disaster.
If you obey the Commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin on you today, if you love the Lord your God and follow His Ways, if you keep His Commandments, His Laws, His Customs, you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the Land which you are entering to make your own.'51
I call Heaven and earth to witness against you today: I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, that both you and your Seed may live in the love of the Lord your God, obeying His Voice, clinging to Him. For He is your life and the length of your days in the Land which God swore to your Fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to give them.'52
The Torah applies to us. Granted, the Temple is not here and there is no Ark of the Covenant or practicing Aaronic Priesthood. But I share with you about the Way that Yeshua led His Life. Is He not our example? Of how to live while here on earth? Did not He shed His Blood that we might be like Him? To live like He did. To keep the Torah from the inside out? 'He who says he abides in Him, ought himself also to walk just as He walked.53 Yeshua always kept the Sabbath Day holy. And so did all the Jewish Apostles after the resurrection of Yeshua.
Please understand that Gentiles were not permitted to sacrifice at the Temple in Jerusalem, even if they wanted to. But please read where Paul takes the Nazarite vow.54 This would have entailed that Paul sacrifice three animals.55 And he was ready to pay for the animals of sacrifice for four other Jewish men who believed in Yeshua, who were also under the Nazarite vow. How is it then that the Church says that no one could or should keep the Law, or that sacrifice was done away with at the Death of Jesus?
Salvation by faith doesn't negate our duty or response in love, to obey God's Commandments.
If it did, then we would have anarchy; anti-nomianism - no law (or against law), which is pretty much the way it is in many churches today. People doing their own thing. It's only 'what's in your heart' that counts! Scripture points out that our hearts are deceitful above all things.56 The work of the Spirit of the Holy One in our lives, reveals where we fall short of God's Glory. His Torah shows us our sin.57 And what pleases Him. John speaks of Law and Grace as being compatible and interwoven:'Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the Commandments of God and their faith in Yeshua.'58Did the Apostle John really mean that? Please think about it the next time you eat ham or profane (make common), God's Holy 7th Day Sabbath.
The vow of the Nazarite that Paul took usually goes unnoticed. What he was trying to convey to his Jewish brethren was that he was a devout follower of the Law.59 The vow of the Nazarite is, among other things, a way of publicly declaring one's desire to be as holy as the High Priest and of course, totally surrendered to the Lord and His Commandments. Paul states this when in front of Governor Felix:
PAUL: A LAWBREAKER?'What I do admit to you is this: it is according to the Way which they describe as a sect that I worship the God of my Fathers, retaining my belief in all points of the Law and in what is written in the Prophets; and I hold the same hope in God as they do that there will be a resurrection of good men and evil men alike. In these things, I, as much as they, do my best to keep a clear conscience at all times before God and man.'We also see Paul reiterating the concept that he is a Jewish believer in Messiah Yeshua and that he still observes all the Law...that pertains to him. Paul was not an Aaronic priest. He did not bring the blood of the goat into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). This was commanded for the High Priest only. But he could go to the Temple and offer sacrifice (offerings), as we see him explaining here, many years after the resurrection, and not be nullifying the grace of the Lord, but exemplifying it. The Law is not for Eternal Life but for sanctification, to be a people set apart by God. And did you catch that he said that he had already been purified. If the Law of Moses was done away by Paul, as many contend, what is Paul doing being purified?, a concept found in the Law of Moses.
'After several years I came to bring alms to my nation and to make offerings; it was in connection with these that they found me in the Temple, I had been purified.60
Paul was still a Jew, who believed in Yeshua as his Savior. He walked in all the laws of God that applied to him. He saw no problem with sacrifice in the Temple and belief in Yeshua. If the Law had been done away with, then Paul was contradicting himself. Worse yet, he would be deceiving his fellow Jews. All the Jewish followers of Yeshua were zealous for the Law,61 including Paul.
Paul proclaims before Festus that he had broken no Jewish law. Let me tell you now that Paul never ate ham, to be as 'a Gentile to the Gentiles.' This is not what that statement of his in another letter means. But that he, a Jew, fellowshipped and ate with Gentiles.62 If Paul is telling the truth, and not playing with semantics, he is still an observant Jew of the Torah, who believes in Messiah, keeps the Sabbath Day holy and teaches others to do so! For him to eat ham would be a sin (as for anyone who follows the Jewish Messiah; Jew or Gentile).
'Paul's defense was this, "I have committed no offense whatever, against either Jewish Law, or the Temple or Caesar."'63
Many think that they only need the Ten Commandments. But the fourth is to keep the Sabbath Day holy.64 There is no biblical 'Christian Sabbath' (i.e. Sunday). Sunday, from the dawn of Babylon, was the day of worship for the sun god.
Sunday is never elevated as the day of assembly in the New Covenant. Or a day on which we cannot buy or sell or work, as is the Sabbath.65 If one thinks that Sunday has replaced the Sabbath because of Jesus resurrecting on it, please look again at the accounts of His Resurrection.
We see the Church presenting its tradition as the Word of God. A tradition that invalidates God's Word. Just as the Pharisees had been rebuked by Yeshua for making null and void the Commandments of God, because of their traditions, so too the Church. Can you see that the Church has deceived many people? Nowhere does the New Covenant ever proclaim that Jesus resurrected on Sunday.66 Or that Sunday replaces the Sabbath of the Lord Jesus. The Lord rose on God's Holy Sabbath.67
UNDERSTANDING PAUL IN HIS HEBRAIC CONTEXT
Both Jewish and Gentile believers in Yeshua must follow all the Torah that pertains to them. May the Gentile eat ham?, when God forbids it?, or is Leviticus 11 only for the Jewish believer? Is not the Passover commanded by Yahveh as an honor to Him for the People that He has freed?68 Has not the Gentile believer been freed by the Blood of the Lamb? Should not he also keep the Passover in honor of what the God of Israel has done for him?69 Or is this something that he may overlook?
Paul's letters state that circumcision cannot be the means of salvation.70 It was never used by God as a means of salvation, but as a sign of the covenant. The sign of His Promise and relationship with Abraham and his seed. It would be Gentiles, wanting 'to make sure' that they were really saved, that listened to those Judaisers.
Getting back to the quote of Paul: 'Retaining my belief in all points of the Law...' is pretty straight forward. Was he saying only the Ten Commandments? Hardly.
The Rabbis say that if one is outside the Land of Israel, then there are many points of the Torah that do not pertain to them. For instance, the Law states that for Passover, all Jews living in the Land of Israel must come up to Jerusalem.71 But going there does not pertain to Jews living outside the Land. God's people though, must celebrate this Holy Time in the land that they live in, giving honor to the Lord. It's really pretty simple. What pertains to us of the Commandments, we observe. Ham is ham, in or out of the Land of Israel.
The Sabbath is kept wherever we are. It must be observed out of a motivation of love for God. For how can we call Him Lord if we do not do what He says? The main point is determining what pertains to us. But this must come from all the Torah, from Genesis through Revelation.
Many things come straight through to His Kingdom; no murder, no stealing, etc. Some are altered (for His Kingdom is not of this world. The city you live in will charge you with murder if you carry out what was acceptable under King David, in stoning an adulterer.) But Paul would tell us to put the adulterer out of our assembly and hand him over to Satan that he might repent.72 We cease fellowship with them for what we do to them has been altered by Yeshua, and the national circumstances we find ourselves in. The point here is that they are excluded from the Body of God's People, which is eternal death, unless they repent.
This is Hebraic. It is not legalistic for that is a perversion of the Torah of Yahveh. Legalism is what has happened in the Hellenistic Church with Sunday, Easter, Christmas and ham. If a Christian were to try and replace Sunday or Easter (or 'Resurrection Sunday'), or Christmas in their church, they would smack up against traditional legalism. With all their arguments for keeping everything the way it is. And all their talk about being 'under grace.' The theological opposition to God's Word and Way of living is very, very strong. Traditions of men that nullify the Word of God, but taught as though spoken by Jesus Himself.
Isn't it interesting? The 'holy days' of the Church cannot be found anywhere in the New Covenant. Where is it commanded by God to celebrate the birth of His Son (Christmas)? Or His Resurrection on Easter (Resurrection), Sunday? Or Sunday assembly that obliterates God's 7th Day Sabbath?
Perhaps the best picture of what we are dealing with here is found when Yeshua reproves some tradition laden, legalistic Pharisees:'And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines, the commandments of men.'73Paul goes on to declare that he had come 'to make offerings' and in the Jerusalem Bible, it says in the footnote that these are sacrifices.74 Now what is the one who is given the most credit for 'doing away with the Law,' and of course the Mosaic Sacrifices, coming to Jerusalem to offer a Mosaic sacrifice?! To be 'a Jew to the Jews'? Paul would've been a pretty slick character if one believes that.
He believed it was alright for him, a Messianic Jew, to sacrifice. Wasn't Jesus resurrected? Didn't Paul know that the sacrifices 'had been done away with?' Then what was he doing in the Temple, of all places. It says he 'had been purified'. Was that really needed since Jesus had already purified him by His Death? Paul still kept the Torah of Moses.
Keeping God's Commandments have always been a blessing. That's why He gave them. The same way that we as parents determine rules for our children; to keep them safe and blessed.
This is a different perspective of understanding the Word of God. It is not Protestant or Catholic, both of which stem from a hellenized, anti-semitic view of God's Hebrew Bible.
It is Hebraic, the language and conceptual basis of all the Scriptures. For even though the New Covenant is written in Greek, the concepts and the Reality it portrays are deeply embedded in Hebraic thought patterns. As one professor put it, 'The only thing Greek about the New Testament are the words,'75 but the ideas they seek to reveal are all Hebraic.
Christianity was never meant to be a distinct entity apart from the Jewish People. It was first comprised of Jews and only Jews. Not until Cornelius in Acts 10 do we see our first Gentile convert to this Messianic-Jewish religion. It was never meant to be transplanted unto the soil of Athens. For what does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?, the Eternal City, the City of the Great King.76
God is grieved with Christians
who reject His Commandments,
who reject His Son,
Yeshua the Messiah of Israel.
Let God guide you in this. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me. I hope that I have raised some serious questions in your mind about who Yeshua is, and what Christianity was meant to be for both His Jewish and Gentile People.
Lord, You are the Potter,
we are only clay.
Cause us to be soft,
when You touch us to obey...
Your Friend in Messiah Yeshua,
1. Henry Bosley Woolf, Editor in Chief, Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (Springfield, MA: G. & C. Merriam Co., 1980), p. 527.
2. Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, From Sabbath To Sunday (Rome, Italy: The Pontifical Gregorian University Press, 1977), pp. 169-176. (This book may be bought directly from the author at 230 Lisa Lane, Berrien Springs, Michigan 49103.)
3. From Sabbath To Sunday pp. 142-151. Note also Acts 15:21.
4. Ibid. pp. 81, 162 and 198ff. See also 1st Corinthians 5:6-8.
5. Leviticus 23:1-44.
6. Daniel 7:25.
7. Dr. David Stern, Messianic Jewish Manifesto, 2nd edition. (Clarksville, Maryland 21029: Jewish New Testament Publications, Post Office Box 1313, 1991), pp. 125-157.
8. Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8-11; Mark 2:27-28; Acts 17:2; 18:4.
9. Leviticus 23:4-11; 1st Corinthians 5:6-8.
10. Bacchiocchi, pp. 165-270.
11. Exodus 16:4-5, 22-30; Deuteronomy 5:12-15; Isaiah 66:22-23; Luke 4:16; Acts 15:21.
12. Romans 11:11-29.
13. Hebrews 8:8:13 quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34.
14. Benjamin Davidson, The Analytical Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1979) p. 249.
16. Matthew 5:21-22.
17. Matthew 22:40.
18. William Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979) p. 394.
19. Wesley J. Perschbacher, editor, The New Analytical Greek Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publications, 1990), p. 215.
20. Romans 7:12, 14.
21. Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14; Acts 10 (does Peter eat ham?).
22. Leviticus 23:1-44.
23. Acts 3:1ff, 5:12, 42.
24. Acts 2:46; 21:24.
25. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Covenant, p. 811.
29. Romans 8:1-2.
30. Numbers 15:32-36.
31. Leviticus 6:1-7.
32. David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary (Clarksville, Maryland: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992), p. 395f.
33. David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary (Clarksville, Maryland: Jewish New Testament Publications, 1992), p. 395f.
35. Matthew 5:17-19. Probably the most important text in which to understand Yeshua and the rest of the New Covenant.
36. Jewish New Covenant Commentary, p. 25.
38. Leviticus 23:3.
39. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17.
40. Romans 3:31.
41. 1st John 3:4.
42. Romans 8:7.
43. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, p. 650.
44. Romans 7:12-14.
45. John 8:31-32.
46. Isaiah 66:22-23.
47. Exodus 12:1-51.
48. Romans 11:16-29; Ephesians 2:11-22.
49. Exodus 33:14; Matthew 11:28-30. The 'rest' that Yeshua is speaking of is grounded in the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a picture of Yeshua. When we enter into the Sabbath, we enter into Him. Hebrews 4:9 reads, 'Then a Sabbath rest is left behind for the people of God.' Not a Sunday rest. See From Sabbath To Sunday, pp. 63-73.
50. Deuteronomy 4:6-8.
51. Deuteronomy 30:15-16.
52. Deuteronomy 30:19-20.
53. 1st John 2:6.
54. Acts 21:17-24.
55. Numbers 6:1-21.
56. Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:21, etc.
57. Romans 7:12-25; 1st John 3:3-6, etc.
58. Revelation 14:12. See also 12:17.
59. Acts 21:23-24.
60. Acts 24:14-18.
61. Acts 21:20.
62. Galatians 2:11-14. Note well that table fellowship with Gentiles was to be avoided (Acts 10:28) in the traditional Jewish understanding. This was because the Gentiles worshiped other gods and contact with them was to be avoided. See Commentary, pp. 528-535.
63. Acts 25:8.
64. Exodus 20:8-11.
65. Amos 8:5; Numbers 15:32-36.
66. Mark 16:9 would seem to be the only place in all of Scripture that has Yeshua rising on Sunday. But the long ending of Mark 16, verses 9-20, has been disclaimed as being written by Mark for many years now. Any commentary on this passage will attest to this. Therefore, to try and establish Sunday assembly on this one verse, sadly lacks any real biblical foundation.
67. Matthew 28:1. The first day of the week (Sunday) would begin in darkness on Saturday night. The word for 'dawn' in this passage does not necessarily convey light or sunrise but the approaching of the first day of the week. If it was approaching, then it was still the Sabbath when they came to the tomb. He had risen.
68. Exodus 12:12-14.
69. 1st Corinthians 5:6-8.
70. Galatians 5:1-4.
71. Deuteronomy 16:16.
72. 1st Corinthians 5:1-5.
73. Matthew 15:6, 9.
74. Alexander Jones, general editor, The Jerusalem Bible (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966), p. 239, commenting on Acts. 21:24.
75. Dr. Howard Ervin, Hebrew class on Psalms, Master of Divinity Program, Oral Roberts University, 1981.
76. Psalm 48:2 and Matthew 5:35.
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