Saturday, May 6, 2017

Counting the Cost

What has your faith cost you? 


Have you ever stopped to think about it? Have you ever looked back and counted the cost of following Yeshua?  

More and more followers of Yeshua have begun to make drastic changes in their lives in order to be more like Him and walk according to The Way (see Acts 24:14). Any time a person does that, it costs them something.  Yeshua Himself talked about what it would cost to truly follow Him: 

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sisters, and his own life too, he is unable to be My taught one.
And whoever does not bear his stake and come after Me is unable to be My taught one.
For who of you, wishing to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation, and is unable to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him,saying, ‘This man began to build and was unable to finish.’
Or what sovereign, going to fight against another sovereign, does not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
And if not, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.
So, then, everyone of you who does not give up all that he has, is unable to be My taught one.
The salt is good, but if the salt becomes tasteless, with what shall it be seasoned?
It is not fit for land, nor for manure, they throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Luke 14:26-35 (ISR) 

Then Yeshua said to His taught ones, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his stake, and follow Me.  For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake shall find it. For what is a man profited if he gains all the world, and loses his own life? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Adam is going to come in the esteem of His Father with His messengers, and then He shall reward each according to his works."
Matthew 16:24-27 (ISR) 

And you shall be hated by all because of My Name. 
But he who shall have endured to the end, he shall be saved. 
Mark 12:13 (ISR) 
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Jobs
  • Popularity 
  • Possessions 
  • Time
  • Comfort 
  • Safety 
 If a believer in Messiah is truly walking as He walked and living as He lived, then most of those things listed (and sometimes all of those things listed) are things that a person will likely lose to some extent at some point in time.  

As I look back on my spiritual life, I notice that for the most part I did not lose anything. Generally speaking, most people who call themselves "Christians" today (at least in the United States) haven't lost anything, either. After all, we who live in the U.S. live in a country that was founded on Christian principles.  Even though much of the country today looks vastly different than it did even 20 years ago, again - generally speaking - most Christians can live out their faith without much persecution.  Why is that?  

The more I learn about history (especially church history) and the more I learn about the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), the more I understand why I never really suffered much loss before.  Much of what I did simply did not look any different from the world!  

For instance: 

Christmas.The vast majority of the world celebrates Christmas.  Even those who do not claim to know and follow the Christ that is supposedly the "reason for the season" celebrate this day.  Yes, I know that there has been a supposed "war on Christmas",  but if the majority of the world was really offended by this holiday - it wouldn't be a major money maker for the retail industry or the entertainment industry.  

Christmas is not a Biblical holiday! There is no cost in keeping Christmas (except, of course, financially speaking).  

Easter.  Even though Easter is largely considered a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, look around at that time of the year and see just how much of the world is celebrating!  Again - retail and entertainment industries bring in big bucks around Easter! Easter eggs, candy, and rabbits - things that have nothing to do with Messiah Yeshua  - are the main symbols used to mark the occasion. 

 Easter is not a Biblical holiday! There is no cost in keeping Easter. 

Sunday.  It can be said that Sunday is nationally (if not globally) recognized as the Christian's Sabbath.  I have already written in detail about how Sunday came to be considered the Sabbath, even though Biblically speaking this is just not so. Many businesses close on Sundays and the world goes along with it.

Sunday is not the Biblical Sabbath.  There is no cost in keeping a Sunday sabbath. 

Food. The world's definition of what is considered food is vastly different from what the Father calls food.  Today there are many food allergies that people deal with, and many businesses go to great lengths to accommodate those people with allergies, which is a great thing!  But when it comes to what people generally consider acceptable to eat, the menu is vast! Of course menus differ a great deal from region to region, but over all it is widely acceptable for people to eat pork, shellfish, snails, even dogs in some places!  Unfortunately due to false theology interjected into the Bible throughout the years, most Christians today believe that it is OK for them to eat anything.  However, contrary to that belief, Yeshua did not change the dietary laws given by the Father. If He had, according to Deuteronomy 13 He would be a false teacher and should not be listened to!  Deuteronomy 12:32 says, "All the words I am commanding you, guard to do it – do not add to it nor take away from it."   

Pork, shellfish, etc. is not part of the Biblical diet.  There is no cost in eating those things.

Now, when I say that there is "no cost" in doing those things, I am referring to a cost from a worldly perspective.  People who participate in worldly things do not get persecuted by the world for doing worldly things.  

 If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, for that reason the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they shall persecute you too. If they have guarded My Word, they would guard yours too. But all this they shall do to you because of My Name, because they do not know Him who sent Me.  
John 15:18-21 (ISR) 

Like I said, for most of my life I did not really suffer much of anything.  However, when I made life changes after the Holy Spirit revealed to me that the holidays I celebrated, the day I kept as Sabbath, and the things I ate did not line up with the Father's word, my life did become a bit more - uncomfortable.  Friends and family did not understand and our relationships changed.  Several people who I thought were friends pushed me away and then they walked away. 

Do you think that I came to give peace on earth? I say to you, no, but rather division. For from now on five in one house shall be divided, three against two, and two against three - father shall be divided against son, and son against father, mother against daughter, and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 
Luke 12:51-53 

What I am trying to address is the overall inconsistency that is prevalent in the Church today.  Believers are living in ways that do not line up with the Word of God.  This is mainly due to erroneous theology, man-made traditions and doctrines, and even agendas that stem from antisemitism.  If you don't believe me, read the writings of supposed "Church Fathers" and research church history.  Many Believers are researching things, testing their beliefs against the whole counsel of YHVH's Word, and as a result they are realizing that much of what they have been taught is not true! 

The prophet Jeremiah prophesied of this: 

 O YHVH, my strength and my stronghold and my refuge, in the day of distress the gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, “Our fathers have inherited only falsehood, futility, and there is no value in them." 
Jeremiah 16:19 (ISR)

According to the Bible, living for YHVH, living like Yeshua looks and is vastly different than how the world lives.  YHVH has given us His instructions for living in the Torah.  He has told us what holidays to celebrate, when to celebrate them, and for the most part even how to celebrate. He has told us when the Sabbath is, what He considers food for us to eat, and overall how to love Him and our neighbors. Yeshua said, "You shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and great command. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commands hang all the Torah and the Prophets." Matthew 22:37-40 (ISR)
 For thousands of years, the Jewish people have continued to live according to the Torah. And for thousands of  years the Jewish people have been hated!  So what is it about the Jewish people that causes the world to hate them?  Most of them (not all) live according to the Torah! Am I trying to be Jewish by keeping the Torah? No. But I am trying to be like Yeshua, who was Jewish! Yeshua kept the Torah perfectly. He showed us how to live it perfectly.

As I write this post, it is day 23 in the counting of days/week towards Shavuot (aka Pentecost). The counting began after Passover/Unleavened Bread, and we are to count up to 50 days, with the 50th day being Shavuot (or Pentecost, which means 50 in Greek).  Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Shavuot are three of the seven Biblical Feasts the Father has commanded His people to keep. All of the Feasts are talked about in Leviticus 23 (and other places as well). I mention the counting of days/weeks only to let you know why the whole "counting the cost" thing is on my mind.  As I literally count the days up to Shavuot, I have been trying to think about the ways I need to change my life in order to be more like Yeshua.  

Shavuot is the holiday that is observed in order to remember the giving of the Torah in writing at Mt. Sinai (see Exodus 19) and the giving of the Holy Spirit after Yeshua ascended to the Father (see Acts 2).  Both of those events are extremely significant, which is why the Father has commanded His people to observe that day.  Learning about and doing my best to observe the Father's holy days has literally been life changing for me and my family. And to be perfectly honest, keeping Christmas and Easter was not life changing for us!  At the time it was meaningful to a degree, but not life changing.  Christmas had become extremely stressful and lost it's meaning for me years ago, but looking back I think the main reason it lost any meaning to me is simply because it isn't what the Father wanted me to do. 

Changing our day of rest was both easy and challenging.  It was easy because that commandment is so clear and straightforward we had no doubt that we're supposed to do it.  It was challenging because we were so accustomed to Sunday. My family and I were very involved in a local congregation, and so we were there usually at 8:00 a.m. until about 12:30 p.m. We typically returned around 3:00 p.m. to rehearse for the praise team, and then we just stayed until after the evening service.  Sunday was most definitely not a day of rest for us!  

The diet change was challenging.  Reading food labels and checking the ingredient lists in restaurants is very time consuming at first.  My family and I were shocked at how many food items contain pork or other unclean things (for example, breads, candy, gum)!  It was a rude awakening for us, but also a reminder of just how much influence the enemy has on the world.  Satan wants nothing more than to contaminate the people of YHVH! Now that we are more informed and aware, it is much easier to eat according to the Father's diet. 
What I hope you will take away from this is the exhortation to stop and think about your current faith walk.  Is it costing you anything to live the way you live?  If not, then why is that?  When we choose to follow Yeshua, we must choose to let go of our way of doing things. And once we choose to follow Him, there should be no looking back.

 And it came to be, as they journeyed on the way, that someone said to Him, “Master, I shall follow You wherever You go.” And Yeshua said to him, “The foxes have holes and the birds of the heaven nests, but the Son of Aḏam has nowhere to lay His head.” And He said to another, “Follow Me,” but he said, “Master, let me first go and bury my father.” And Yeshua said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and announce the reign of Elohim.” And another also said, “Master, I shall follow You, but let me first say good-bye to those in my house.” But Yeshua said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the reign of Elohim.
Luke 9:57-62 (ISR)


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

What My Tongue Has Won Me

This is the week before Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  Like most people who observe the Bibical Feasts of YHVH, I have begun deep cleaning the house in an effort to remove any leaven that is in the house.  As I clean the house, I try to pray, asking Father to reveal to me any unconfessed sin (leaven) in my heart.  This is our third year of keeping the Feasts, and so far Father has not failed to answer my prayer.  This year, however, has been the hardest for me.  

Since my family and I have started observing the Feasts of YHVH, I have noticed an increase in spiritual warfare leading up to the Feasts.  As I was praying earlier today, once again crying out in remorse over what the Father had revealed to me, I told Him that I can't blame this one on Satan!  

I remember the second year of deep cleaning the house in preparation for Unleavened Bread, I found something with leaven in it that was at the bottom of our deep freezer.  I had overlooked it the year before, which means that during the week of Unleavened Bread, I still had not completely rid the house of all the leaven!  I was mortified!  However, it proved to be a learning experience for me: No matter how thoroughly I think I have examined my heart, there can always be something there that I have overlooked. 

 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
         Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
         And lead me in the everlasting way.
Psalm 139:23-24

So far this year the Father has reminded me of the ramifications of an unbridled tongue.  It has been brought to my attention that something I said out of anger years ago made a very negative impact on someone whom I dearly love.  Unfortunately this isn't the first time my tongue has been the source of pain.  

When I was child, my tongue won me multiple spankings. 
In elementary school, my tongue won me a beating from a boy in class. 
In middle school, my tongue won me my first visit to the principal's office. 
In high school, my tongue won me even more visits to the principal's office. 
As a young adult, my tongue won me a show-down with my mother, which led to each of us slapping the other. 
As an adult, my tongue won me the opportunity to see hurt expressed on the faces of those to whom I lashed out. 

Overall, I would say my tongue has won me major losses. 

Rash speaking is like piercings of a sword, 
But the tongue of the wise is healing.
Proverbs 12:18

 And the tongue is a fire, the world of unrighteousness. 
Among our members the tongue is set, 
the one defiling the entire body, 
and setting on fire the wheel of life, 
and it is set on fire by Gehenna.
For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind.
But no man is able to tame the tongue. 
It is unruly, evil, filled with deadly poison.
James 3:6-8

So now I am faced with the daunting task of seeking forgiveness.  Thankfully, the person I hurt has already extended their forgiveness.  Thankfully I know that Father has forgiven me because He promises in His Word: If we confess our sins, He is trustworthy and righteous to forgive us the sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9). No, the hard part is forgiving myself.  The hard part is finally learning the lesson of the power of the tongue and how to bridle it!  

For the most part I have finished cleaning out the leaven in the house this year.  So far Father has been faithful to point out the sin in my heart that I have overlooked all this time.  Hopefully, that is all there is.  But who knows? Father knows.  If there is more sin in my heart, will He reveal it to me this year? Part of me hopes not, because I am not sure that I can bear it, not when I am still bearing the pain of hurting someone I love. Yet, maybe it would be good to own up to everything at once.  Again, I don't know. Father knows. 

 Create in me a clean heart, O Elohim, 

And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence, 
And do not take Your Set-apart Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your deliverance, 
And uphold me, Noble Spirit!
Psalm 51:10-12

I have said,“Let me guard my ways Against sinning with my tongue; Let me guard my mouth with a muzzle...”  
Psalm 39:1 


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Whatchu Talkin' 'Bout, Socrates?!

Today I found myself alone at home. Surrounded by the quiet, and not currently pressed with anything that can't wait until tomorrow, I decided to once again look into some historical documents related to the different viewpoints of Easter vs Passover (here is a link to the first post I wrote on the subject).  

My research led me to The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates, Book 5, XXII  where I read the following:
"We have also gratifying intelligence to communicate to you relative to unity of judgement on the subject of the most holy feast of Easter: for this point also has been happily settled through your prayers; so that all the brethren in the East who have heretofore kept this festival when the Jews did, will henceforth conform to the Romans and to us, and to all who from the earliest time have observed our period of celebrating Easter." 
"Conforming to the Romans and to us".   
Whatchu talkin' 'bout, Socrates?! 

But what did YHVH have to say? Well, He didn't tell us to conform to any nation! He commanded us NOT to conform to other nations! (Leviticus 18:3, 24; Leviticus 20:23; Deuteronomy 9:4; Jeremiah 10:2) He didn't command us to keep Easter as the Romans did!  In fact, in Exodus 12:14 YHVH commanded: 

Exodus 12:14 (ISR): "And this day [Passover] shall become to you a remembrance. And you shall observe it as a festival to יהוה throughout your generations – observe it as a festival, an everlasting law."

Exodus 12:14 (NLT) "This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the LORD. This is a law for all time."
Exodus 12:14 (NASB) "Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance."

I continued to read the works of Socrates. In Chapter XXII - The Author's Views Respecting the Observation of Easter, I read the following: 

"It appears to me that nether the ancients nor moderns who have affected to follow the Jews, have had any rational foundation for contending so obstinately about it. For they have altogether lost sight of the fact, that when our religion superseded the Jewish economy, the obligation to observe Mosaic law and the Ceremonial types ceased. That it is incompatible with Christian faith to practice Jewish rites, is manifest from the apostle's expressly forbidding it; and not only rejecting circumcision, but also deprecating contention about festival days." 
This position is fundamentally false when compared to Scripture! Yeshua was a Jew - born into the Tribe of Judah (the tribe from which Jews descend)!  He did NOT come to end Mosaic law (also referred to as Torah, the first five books of the Bible).  In fact, He made it perfectly clear that that was not His intention: 
 Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete. For truly, I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done. Whoever, then, breaks one of the least of these commands, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the reign of the heavens; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the reign of the heavens.
Yeshua used the Torah exclusively to teach people about Himself: 
 And beginning at Mosheh and all the Prophets, He was explaining to them in all the Scriptures the matters concerning Himself. 
Stop right there!
Yeshua used the writings of Moses, and the Prophets - all the Scriptures! Yeshua did not tell people to wait until His disciples and apostles had time to write their gospel accounts and/or letters to the assemblies so that they would know what to do!  He used the Torah!   
If Yeshua used the Torah to teach people (and ultimately us today) about Himself, then we should  take the time to read and study the Torah for ourselves. One of the very crucial things stated in the Torah is found in Deuteronomy (I have heard that Yeshua quoted from Deuteronomy more than any other book of the Torah!):

Do not add to the Word which I command you, and do not take away from it, so as to guard the commands of יהוה your Elohim which I am commanding you.
 All the words I am commanding you, guard to do it – do not add to it nor take away from it.
I want to refer back to the last quote I shared where it is stated that the apostle's forbade observing Mosaic law and/or keeping the feasts.  I want to compare that statement to the following passages: 

And Sha’ul [Paul] , having stayed several days more, having taken leave of the brothers, was sailing for Syria, and Priscilla and Aqulas were with him, having shaved his hair at Kenḥrea, for he had taken a vow. And he came to Ephesos, and left them there, but he himself went into the congregation and reasoned with the Yehuḏim [Jews]. And when they asked him to stay a longer time with them, he declined, but took leave of them, saying, “I have to keep this coming festival in Yerushalayim [Jerusalem] by all means, but I shall come back to you, Elohim desiring so.” And he sailed from Ephesos. And having come to Caesarea, going up and greeting the assembly, he went down to Antioch.
There are three festivals that require the men to go to Jerusalem (see Deuteronomy 16:16): 
  • Passover/Unleavened Bread 
  • Shavuot (aka Pentecost)
  • Sukkot (aka Tabernacles)
So Paul was speaking of one of these three feasts, and it sounds to me like he was adamant on KEEPING the feast! He wasn't forbidding himself or anyone else from keeping it!  
"I have to keep this coming festival in Yerushalayim by all means"
Paul again exhorts believers to keep a feast of YHVH - the Feast of Unleavened Bread: 
 Therefore cleanse out the old leaven, so that you are a new lump, as you are unleavened. For also Messiah our Passover was offered for us. So then let us observe the festival, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

I think it is clear that the apostle Paul continued to keep the feasts of YHVH as was commanded in the Torah!!

Here is another quote from the writings of Socrates that I wanted to share and address: 

"The Savior and his apostles have enjoined us by no law to this feast, nor in the New Testament are we threatened with any penalty, punishment, or curse for the neglect of it, as the Mosaic law does the Jews. It is merely for the sake of historical accuracy, and for the reproach of the Jews, because they polluted themselves with blood on their very feasts, that it is recorded in the Gospels that our Savior suffered 'in the days of Unleavened bread.' The apostles had no thought of appointing festival days, but of promoting a life of blamelessness and piety. And it seems to me that the feast of Easter has been introduced into the Church from some old usage, just as many other customs have been established." 

Oh my goodness!! That really got me riled up!! 

First of all, Yeshua clearly stated over and over again that He did only what He heard the Father say, and what He saw the Father doing! He also made it abundantly clear that obedience to the Father was an outward expression of our love for Him! 

He who rejects Me, and does not receive My Words, has one who judges him: the Word that I have spoken shall judge him in the last day. Because I spoke not from Myself, but the Father who sent Me has given Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, as the Father has said to Me, so I speak.
 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak from Myself. But the Father who stays in Me does His works.
He who possesses My commands and guards them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and manifest Myself to him.

Yeshua answered him, “If anyone loves Me, he shall guard My Word. And My Father shall love him, and We shall come to him and make Our stay with him.
He who does not love Me does not guard My Words. And the Word which you hear is not Mine but of the Father Who sent Me.
These Words I have spoken to you while still with you.
But the Helper, the Set-apart Spirit, whom the Father shall send in My Name, He shall teach you all, and remind you of all that I said to you."

I'm sorry, but I don't understand how in the world anyone could say that Yeshua ever said or did anything contrary to the Father's commandments stated in the Torah!  I don't see how anyone could say that the disciples or the apostles did that either!  

Many people, including the one quoted from the writings of Socrates, use a few verses out of Paul's letters to the Galatians and/or Colossians to say that he was teaching against the Sabbath(s), feasts, circumcision, etc.  However, if you take notice to whom those letters were written - Galatians and Colossians - people coming from a pagan background, you will likely realize that he is encouraging them to not let their old ways creep back in, or not to let their pagan buddies give them a hard time for keeping the commandments of YHVH!  Paul was by no means instructing these people to break the Torah! If he were, then he needed to be considered a false teacher and/or prophet according to Deuteronomy 13, which means that he should not be listened to!    

Second of all, the Jews did not "pollute themselves with blood on their feasts"! If the writer was talking about the required sacrifices for Passover, then they were being obedient to YHVH's commandments! If the writer was talking about the fact that Yeshua was crucified on Passover (which is probably what he was addressing), then he apparently forgot where Yeshua Himself said, 
 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. But the hireling, and not being a shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees. And the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them. Now the hireling flees because he is a hireling and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd. And I know Mine, and Mine know Me, even as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. And I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold – I have to bring them as well, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock, one shepherd. Because of this the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life, in order to receive it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to receive it again. This command I have received from My Father.
That is why Yeshua came! To give His life to pay our penalty for breaking YHVH's Torah! 
OK, I am trying to calm down. But I hope that you share my frustration! 
So much of Scripture has been twisted and manipulated throughout history. It is time that we stop and ask ourselves:
  • why do we believe what we believe, and does it truly line up with what Scripture says? 
  • why are we doing things the way we are doing them, and do they truly line up with what Scripture says?  
  • is what we hear, believe, and do based on truth? see Psalm 119:142
I know that everyone is not necessarily interested in history.  I know that most everyone does not have the time to research things.  But honestly, all we need is the Word of God!  All we need to do is let Scripture define Scripture. I exhort you to take your time reading your Bible.  Compare different translations to make sure you are getting the full picture. Many of the newer translations have made drastic changes and either add to or take away from the Word!! Remember Deuteronomy 4:32!! 
Start all over again - from the beginning! Start in Genesis and ask the Holy Spirit to give you understanding as you read through the Bible beginning to end. YHVH has even told us from the beginning how it all ends! 
Remember the former events of old, for I am Ěl, and there is no one else – Elohim, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from of old that which has not yet been done, saying, ‘My counsel does stand, and all My delight I do.
If you do have the time to research historical writings, etc., I encourage you to do so. It has been very eye-opening for me! I have come to realize that for most of my spiritual life I have relied too much on the teachings and doctrines of men rather than on the whole counsel of Scripture.  

If you decide to keep your Bible reading focus on the New Testament (I have heard someone call it the "True Testament" because there isn't anything "new" in it!), then I hope you start noticing more and more how Yeshua is always pointing to the Father and His commandments (Torah), and how the disciples and apostles were faithful in imitating Messiah Yeshua.  

Another thing I hope is that I did not come across as condescending or rude.  I desire only to speak the truth in love! 

I hope that this post has been beneficial and thought-provoking! 
 Be a Berean! (Acts 17:11

I know that Socrates may have been quoting someone else in his writings, but I thought it humorous to use his name in place of "Willis". ;)       

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Who Is This Messenger?

This week's Torah portion has been exceptionally interesting to me, especially Exodus 23:20-23 (ISR):  

See, I am sending a Messenger before you to guard you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have preparedBe on guard before Him and obey His voice. Do not rebel against Him, for He is not going to pardon your transgression, for My Name is in Him.  But if you diligently obey His voice and shall do all that I speak, then I shall be an enemy to your enemies and a distress to those who distress you. For My Messenger shall go before you and shall bring you in to the Amorites and the Ḥittites and the Perizzites and the Kena‛anites and the Ḥiwwites and the Yeḇusites, and I shall cut them off. (emphasis mine)

I kept wondering, is this Messenger Yeshua?

Here are some verses that make me think the Messenger might be Yeshua: 
  • John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled. Believe in Elohim, believe also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many staying places. And if not, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, you might be too.
  • John 14:15 If you love Me, you shall guard My commands.
  • John 14:21 He who possesses My commands and guards them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and manifest Myself to him.
  • John 15:10 If you guard My commands, you shall stay in My love, even as I have guarded My Father’s commands and stay in His love.
  • John 15:14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
  • Matthew 17:5 While he was still speaking, see, a bright cloud overshadowed them. And see, a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I did delight. Hear Him!”
  • Deuteronomy 18:15-18  YHVH your Elohim shall raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brothers. Listen to Him, according to all you asked of יהוה your Elohim in Ḥorĕḇ in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of יהוה my Elohim, nor let me see this great fire any more, lest I die.’  And יהוה said to me, ‘What they have spoken is good. I shall raise up for them a Prophet like you out of the midst of their brothers. And I shall put My Words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be, the man who does not listen to My Words which He speaks in My Name, I require it of him.
  • John 5:43-47 I have come in My Father’s Name and you do not receive Me, if another comes in his own name, him you would receive. How are you able to believe, when you are receiving esteem from one another, and the esteem that is from the only Elohim you do not seek? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Mosheh, in whom you have set your expectation. For if you believed Mosheh, you would have believed Me, since he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings,how shall you believe My words?
  • John 10:25-30 Yeshua answered them, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s Name, they bear witness concerning Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them everlasting life, and they shall by no means ever perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. And no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one."  (emphasis in all verses mine) 

I could only come up with one reason why the Messenger in the Exodus 23 passage might not be Yeshua: In most other verses where the Messenger mentioned is often considered to be Yeshua, the phrase "Messenger of YHVH" (or more commonly "Angel of the LORD") is used.  In Exodus 23:20, it is simply "a Messenger" that is mentioned.  However, in Exodus 23:23, "My Messenger" is used.  SO, could that mean it is the "Messenger of YHVH"?

IF this Messenger in Exodus 23 IS referring to Yeshua, THEN, in my opinion, that brings much more clarity as well as consistency when reading Yeshua's words

  • "If you love Me, you shall guard My commands."(John 14:15)  
  • "He who possesses My commands and guards them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I shall love him and manifest Myself to him."  (John 14:21) 
  • "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My Words, has one who judges him: the Word that I have spoken shall judge him in the last day. Because I spoke not from Myself, but the Father who sent Me has given Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, as the Father has said to Me, so I speak.”  (John 12:48-50)
 As I was considering the Exodus verses, I initially thought, "Well, it says that the Messenger 'will NOT pardon your transgression', and we are pardoned when we confess and repent of our sins (I John 1:9) because Yeshua paid our penalty for transgressing the Father's Torah. So maybe the Messenger is NOT Yeshua." But then after looking for more confirmation in the Bible, the verses in Deuteronomy 18:15-18 (see above) and in John 12 (see above) seemed to address that very issue.  This is also addressed in Hebrews 10:
Hebrews 10:26-31 For if we sin purposely after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a slaughter offering for sins, but some fearsome anticipation of judgment, and a fierce fire which is about to consume the opponents. Anyone who has disregarded the Torah of Mosheh dies without compassion on the witness of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think shall he deserve who has trampled the Son of Elohim underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was set apart as common, and insulted the Spirit of favour? For we know Him who has said, “Vengeance is Mine, I shall repay, says יהוה.” And again, “יהוה shall judge His people.” It is fearsome to fall into the hands of the living Elohim.

Deliberate sin is NOT pardoned! 

I don't know about you, but I find it exciting to think that Yeshua could be the Messenger referred to in Exodus 23:20-23!  This also brings more clarity (to me) when I consider that according to Hebrews 4:1-2, the Gospel (aka Good News) was preached to the Israelites

 Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.

Let me see if I can bring all of this together:  In Exodus 23, YHVH told the Israelites that He would send a Messenger before them and lead them to a place He prepared for them.  This Messenger was to be heard and obeyed, because this Messenger was going to speak what YHVH commanded.  Obedience was a must, because the Messenger would not pardon disobedience (aka intentional sin).  This Messenger came in the Name (authority) of YHVH.
Yeshua said that He would be going before His followers to prepare a place for them.  Yeshua stated over and over that those who love Him would hear and obey His commandments, which were the same commandments given by the Father. Yeshua also stated that whoever did not receive His words would be judged by His Word (which was given to Moses).  In addition, Yeshua came in the Name (authority) of the Father.  

So, who is this Messenger?  



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Turn the World Upside Down

I recently read a news article that is disturbing, and is reflective of an un-biblical mindset that has plagued the Church for years.  The article is about a Baptist "church" that recently hired a lesbian couple to be co-pastors of their congregation!
I believe this is happening more and more because the Church does not truly understand the definition of sin: 

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.
  1 John 3:4(KJV)
Most Christians today (but obviously not all, thus the situation the article addresses) consider homosexuality a sin.  Many people will even point out that homosexuality is an "abomination" in the eyes of God.  However, when I did a word search on "abomination" in the Bible, I was surprised by what I found. Homosexuality is not the only thing the Father considers abominable: 
And this is NOT an exhaustive list!

 When we excuse one abomination, but condemn another, then we don't truly believe that sin IS sin - and that it is an affront to the Most Set-Apart God.
I remember reading in Acts 17:6 where it described the Followers of Messiah as those who "turned the world upside down". Today, the world is turning the Church upside down and inside out!
 Followers of Messiah MUST be consistent and set-apart in their walk in order to make a difference.

We must believe how the Father defines sin, and stop trying to redefine it to make ourselves feel better.  Again - "Whosoever commits sin, transgresses the law - sin is lawlessness." 1 John 3:4 

Yeshua warned us in Matthew 7:
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Master, Master,’ shall enter into the reign of the heavens, but he who is doing the desire of My Father in the heavens.
Many shall say to Me in that day, ‘Master, Master, have we not prophesied in Your Name, and cast out demons in Your Name, and done many mighty works in Your Name?’
And then I shall declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from Me, you who work lawlessness!

Prayerfully read Psalm 119.  Study the Torah (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), the Psalms,and the Prophets - for these teach us about Messiah! (see Luke 24:27). 

I pray that we will return to the Way the Father has laid out in His Torah - the Way Yeshua Himself lived. Yeshua IS the Way!  I pray that we will start living truly set-apart, so much so that we, like the Apostles, will turn the world upside down!

Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin