Thursday, August 10, 2017

What ARE We Doing?

A couple of years or so ago, my family and I left the Southern Baptist Church (SBC) that we had been members of for 25 years.  It was not an easy decision, because it had been one of the biggest parts of our lives, and the only church that our children had ever known.  But after having seen things in Scripture that differed with the beliefs and practices of the SBC, and after the Father had released us from our current responsibilities within the congregation, we realized that He was telling us it was time to move on. 

Since our departure, we have sporadically been asked, or we have heard of people asking - what ARE we doing?  Or some may ask, where we are now "going to church".   I am more than happy to share with you what we are doing!

Currently on Friday nights we are hosting a gathering for praise and worship.  We get together for a meal and fellowship, and afterwards we sing songs, share praises that have occurred throughout the week, and/or we share a passage of Scripture that has been meaningful to us. Father has gifted Dwight, Haley, Dawson, and others within the group with musical talents, so they lead us with guitars, piano, percussion, and even at times a shofar!  And if we had the space, there would definitely be dancing!


Praise Yah! Praise Ěl in His set-apart place; Praise Him in His mighty expanse!
Praise Him for His mighty acts; 
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!

Praise Him with the blowing of the ram’s horn; 
Praise Him with the harp and lyre!

Praise Him with tambourine and dance; 
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!

Praise Him with sounding cymbals; 
Praise Him with resounding cymbals!

Let all that have breath praise Yah. 
Praise Yah!
Psalm 150 (ISR) 

This is our way of bringing in the Sabbath together!

A typical Sabbath gathering at our house



"Six days work is done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a set-apart gathering. You do no work, it is a Sabbath to יהוה in all your dwellings." Leviticus 23:3 (ISR)

Sabbath morning, Dwight, Haley, Dawson, and I typically sleep in and relax.  The four of us will usually watch a Bible teaching video together, and then we get ready to go to Bible study later in the day.  We have a pretty good sized group, so we try to alternate where we meet.  Our meetings consist of prayer, and reading and discussing the Torah portion (Torah simply means Instructions, and consists of Genesis-Deuteronomy). Our group is currently following the three year schedule, which means we are just going through the Bible passages at a much slower pace.  This gives us more opportunity to slow down and take in some details that we might otherwise overlook.  We also read and discuss passages from the Prophets and the New Testament.

After our Bible study time, we stay and eat a meal together and fellowship into the night.  We frequently play cards or just sit around and talk.  

In addition to our Sabbath gatherings, our fellowship gets together for Yahweh's other Appointed Times (Leviticus 23).   And Yahweh spoke to Mosheh, saying, “Speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl, and say to them, ‘The appointed times of Yahweh, which you are to proclaim as set-apart gatherings, My appointed times, are these:"  (Lev 23:1-2, ISR)

I emphasized "My appointed times" because so many people (including myself until a few years ago) think that the Feasts are the "Jewish Feasts".  However, Father makes it clear that they are HIS, and this commandment was given to all of Israel, not just the tribe of Judah (Jews).  

Sometimes His Appointed Times are referred to as feasts, festivals, or in Hebrew, moedim.  I have written about them, so please read those posts as well (check out the "labels").  Observing the Father's Appointed Times has been one of the most rewarding aspects of our faith walk! This is when  we get together with the larger Body of Messiah to celebrate His appointed times, remembering what our Messiah has done, and looking forward to what He has yet to do! Last year at Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets), we met with around 200+ Believers! It was amazing!  

Dwight reading Scripture at Sukkot (The Feast of Tabernacles)

A few months ago, some of the ladies in our group decided to start meeting each month to celebrate the New Moon .  This is an appointed time that I had not really realized we were to  observe until recently, but it has also proved to be very rewarding. My desire in starting this gathering was to have ladies of all ages get together to continue to learn the Father's Word, encourage each other, and minister to others outside of our group.  So far we have held a Baby Shower for our local Pregnancy Resource Center (aka Choose Life). There are other ministries that we hope to eventually reach out to and bless. I really hope that we can continue to develop strong relationships with one another and that the younger women/girls, will see how we walk out the Father's Instructions in our lives.  This is still a work in progress, and so far each meeting has been different - which I think is a good thing - as we all have our different personalities and gifts.


 Me blowing a shofar for New Moon
 
Our small group, fellowship, whatever you want to call us, is a tight-knit group.  We are "doing life together", and it has been a huge blessing! None of us are perfect, but we are all striving for perfection (Philippians 3:12). We are here to help one another with prayer support, encouragement, as well as help with physical needs when they arise.  We also keep each other from looking to the left or right, and stay on the way: 

 Only be strong and very courageous, to guard to do according to all the Torah which Mosheh My servant commanded you. Do not turn from it right or left, so that you act wisely wherever you go.
Joshua 1:7 (ISR) 
  

Enter in through the narrow gate! Because the gate is wide – and the way is broad – that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter in through it. Because the gate is narrow and the way is hard-pressed which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

So, there you go. That is what we are doing.


See how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity –
Like the precious oil on the head, Running down on the beard, 
The beard of Aharon, Running down on the collar of his robes –

Like the dew of Ḥermon, That comes down on the mountains of Tsiyon. 
For there Yahweh commanded the blessing, 
Life forever!
Psalm 133 (ISR) 



For more information on Yahweh's Feasts, check out the following:

https://vmoody.com/the-feasts/

https://graceintorah.net/moedim-feast-studies/

Video series covering who is Israel 

Video on The Lost Sheep of Israel 












Monday, July 31, 2017

Let the Wise Listen

I just wanted to share something that stood out to me from my Bible study so far this week. This week's Torah portion is Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11; Deuteronomy 4:6 is what I mainly want to focus on, but I will include verses 1-9 for context: 


"And now, O Yisra’ĕl, listen to the laws and the right-rulings which I am teaching you to do, so that you live, and shall go in and possess the land which Yahweh Elohim of your fathers is giving you.
Do not add to the Word which I command you, and do not take away from it, so as to guard the commands of Yahweh your Elohim which I am commanding you. Your eyes have seen what Yahweh did at Ba‛al Pe‛or, for Yahweh your Elohim has destroyed from your midst all the men who followed Ba‛al Pe‛or. But you who are clinging to Yahweh your Elohim are alive today, every one of you.
See, I have taught you laws and right-rulings, as Yahweh my Elohim commanded me, to do thus in the land which you go to possess. And you shall guard and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding before the eyes of the peoples who hear all these laws, and they shall say, ‘Only a wise and understanding people is this great nation!’For what great nation is there which has Elohim so near to it, as Yahweh our Elohim is to us, whenever we call on Him? And what great nation is there that has such laws and righteous right-rulings like all this Torah which I set before you this day? Only, guard yourself, and guard your life diligently, lest you forget the Words your eyes have seen, and lest they turn aside from your heart all the days of your life. And you shall make them known to your children and your grandchildren." (ISR)

There is SO much just in these few verses that really stand out to me, but I made it obvious where I am going in this post.  Verse 6 says that guarding the Torah (I have mentioned in other posts that Torah simply means "instructions") of Yahweh is our wisdom and understanding. I couldn't help but think of several verses in the Book of Proverbs where wisdom and understanding is mentioned.  I think it would be safe to say that wisdom and understanding is the theme of the Book of Proverbs.  Wisdom is personified and frequently referred to as "she" and "her":

 Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the broad places. 

 And now, listen to me [Wisdom], you children, For blessed are they who guard my ways.

We see in Proverbs 8:32 the same exhortation to guard the ways of wisdom that we saw in Deuteronomy 4!  

 1 Chronicoles 22:12 we read David instructing his son, Solomon: "Only, let Yahweh give you wisdom and understanding, and command you concerning Yisra’ĕl, so that you guard the Torah of Yahweh your Elohim."

 Job 28:28 says that the "fear of Yahweh is wisdom", and "to turn from evil, that is understanding." 

Going back to Proverbs, in the fourth chapter there is a sense of urgency concerning wisdom and understanding: 

 Children, listen to the discipline of a father, And give attention to know understanding;
For I gave you good instruction: Do not forsake my Torah.
For I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the eyes of my mother,
Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; 
Guard my commands, and live.
Get wisdom! Get understanding!  
Do not forget, and do not turn away From the words of my mouth.
“Do not leave her, and let her guard you; Love her, and let her watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is: Get wisdom
And with all your getting, get understanding.
“Exalt her, and let her uplift you; She brings you esteem when you embrace her.
“She gives your head a fair wreath, She shields you with an adorning crown.”
Hear, my son, and accept my words, And let the years of your life be many.
I have taught you in the way of wisdom, I have led you in straight paths.
When you walk your steps shall not be hindered, And if you run you shall not stumble.
Hold fast to discipline, do not let go; Watch over her
for she is your life.

And in Proverbs 23:23 we read this advice: "Buy the truth and do not sell it – Wisdom and discipline and understanding."  There are so many more verses that I could share from Proverbs alone, but I will stop there.    

In the New Testament we read about Paul praying for Believers to be "filled with the knowledge of His desire in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, to walk worthily of the Master, pleasing all, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of Elohim." (Colossians 1:9-10) And in Colossians 4:5 Paul exhorts Believers to "walk in wisdom".

Paul is not the only New Testament writer who wrote about wisdom.  James instructs us to ask for wisdom:  "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of Elohim, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it shall be given to him." (James 1:5) And then in James 3:17 we read:
"But the wisdom from above is first clean, then peaceable, gentle, ready to obey, filled with compassion and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy." I put in bold "ready to obey" because it is the same thing as "guard" that is used in the other verses.

Throughout the entirety of the Bible we see a consistent thread connecting wisdom and understanding to Yahweh's Torah, and how His children must diligently guard the Torah

The Torah of Yahweh IS wisdom and understanding. 
 
 Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance. 
Proverbs 1:5 (ESV)
 

 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Counting the Cost

What has your faith cost you? 

Really? 

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

Shalom! 
P.S. 
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". ;)