Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Obey God, Not Man

My family and I are on a quest to better follow God's Torah (instructions).  Among them is the keeping of, or setting apart, God's Sabbath Day.  From the very beginning, God (I will sometimes use YHWH) established the seventh day of the week to be set apart, or holy:

 By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.
Genesis 2:2-3 

So why do most Christians not observe the seventh day, but instead consider the first day of the week to be the Sabbath?  One of the resources that YHWH has used to teach my family comes from the 119 Ministries.  They have a video teaching entitled The Sabbath Day.  I highly recommend your watching this teaching.  I have also heard the teaching from Tom Bradford's Genesis study found at www.torahclass.com/  Tom Bradford states: "Around the late 2nd century A.D., it became a goal of the now gentile dominated church to abandon anything that seemed to apply to the Jewish people, eventually in the 4th century the church officially abolished the Shabbat." (Shabbat is the Hebrew word for Sabbath) Tom encourages others to see the actual church documents that validate this statement, so I did.  I searched for "Council of Laodicea document, 364" and came across this site, where I read the following:

CHRISTIANS must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.

IT is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them.

IT is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety.

Even earlier than when the Council of Laodicea convened: "The Roman Emperor Constantine, a former sun worshiper, professed conversion to Christianity, though his subsequent actions suggest the 'conversion' was more of a political move than a genuine heart change.  Constantine named himself Bishop of the Catholic Church and enacted the first civil law regarding Sunday observance in A.D. 321." (sabbathtruth.com)

I then went to  http://ecclesia.org/truth/sabbath-history.html where I read this:

15th Century. Norway

1. "We are informed that some people in different districts of the kingdom, have adopted and observed Saturdaykeeping. It is severely forbidden - in holy church canon - one and all to observe days excepting those which the holy Pope, archbishop, or the bishops command. Saturdaykeeping must under no circumstances be permitted hereafter further than the church canon commands. Therefore, we counsel all the friends of God throughout all Norway who want to be obedient towards the holy church to let this evil of Saturdaykeeping alone; and the rest we forbid under penalty of severe church punishment to keep Saturday holy." Catholic Provincial Council at Bergen. 1435 Dip. Norveg., 7, 397. 

and this:
16th Century. Council of Trent

1. "On the 18th of January, 1563, the Council of Trent ruled that Tradition is greater than Scripture, after a powerful speech by the Archbishop of Reggio, in which he said that the fact that the Church had changed the Fourth Commandment clearly proved that Tradition was greater than Scripture." H.J. Holtzman, Kanon und Tradition, 1859 edition, p. 263.

Matthew 15:3, 6-9. Jesus replied "Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?", " You hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draws nigh unto me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men."

In the book History of the Sabbath, by J.N. Andrews, I read about the genesis of the Sunday sabbath doctrine: 

"The true doctrine of the Christian Sabbath was first promulgated by an English dissenter, the Rev. Nicholas Bound, D.D., of Norton, in the county of Suffolk.  About the year 1595, he published a famous book entitled 'Sabbathum Veteris et Novi Testamenti', or 'The True Doctrine of the Sabbath'.  In this book he maintained 'that the seventh part of our time ought to be devoted to God - that Christians are bound to rest on the Lord's day as much as the Jews were on the Mosaic Sabbath.'" 

By the way, if you will notice the first Scripture I shared, YHWH set apart the Sabbath at creation - not with Moses.  Moving on. J.N. Andrews continues: 

"Dr. Bound was not absolutely the inventor of the seventh-part-of-time theory; but he may be said rather to have gathered up and combined the scattered hints of his predecessors, and to have added to these something of his own production. His grounds for asserting Sunday to be the Sabbath of the fourth commandment are these:

That which is natural, namely, that every seventh day should be kept holy unto the Lord, that still remaineth: that which is positive, namely, that day which was the seventh day from the creation, should be the Sabbath, or day of rest, that is now changed in the church of God. (bold mine)

He says, that the meaning of the declaration, 'The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God,' is this: 
There must be one [day] of seven and not [one] of eight.

But the special key to the whole theory is in the statement that the seventh day in the commandment was "genus", that is to say, it was a kind of seventh day which comprehended several species of seventh days, at least two.  Thus he says: 

So, he maketh the seventh day to be genus in this commandment, and to be perpetual: and in it by virtue of the commandment to comprehend these two species or kinds: the Sabbath of the Jews and of the Gentiles, of the law and of the gospel: so that both of them were comprehended in the commandment, even as genus comprehendeth both his species.


J.N. Andrews explains: "He means to say that the fourth commandment enforces the seventh day from the creation to the resurrection of Christ, and since that enforces a different seventh day, namely, the seventh from Christ's resurrection.  Such is the perverse ingenuity by which men can evade the law of God and yet make it appear that they are faithfully observing it." 

When talking about changing the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, many people point to the Roman Catholic Church - with good reason.  I went to check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church and read this: 

"Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ’s Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man’s eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ: Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord’s Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death."

But when you look to Scripture, it is extremely clear that YHWH established the Sabbath day - forever:

"And the Lord said to Moses, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep My Sabbaths, for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between Me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed." Exodus 31:12-17

I don't know about you, but the arrogant statements made by the men quoted above gave me chills (and there are many more)!  It astounds me to think that mere men had the audacity to usurp YHWH's authority! Having participated all of my life in something that was NOT ordained by Him has really been quite sobering for me.  Now that I know and clearly see in Scripture that YHWH has not changed His mind about His Sabbath (or any of the other commandments), I must follow through with obedience.  I want to be obedient!  Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus) also made things clear when He said: "If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15)

It's not easy to stop following the traditions you've always known, but it does get easier.  My family and I have been keeping the Sabbath Day now for about five months, and we are finally getting into what I call a "Sabbath groove".  It truly is a day that we all look forward to, knowing that YHWH created it for us - to rest. 

I know that there are many people who will disagree with our decision.  Many people believe (as did we not long ago) that the Torah (or Old Testament in general, or the Law specifically) was "nailed to the cross", and that we are no longer "obligated" to keep it. But now I wonder, just what is it in the Torah that is so objectionable for Christians to follow?  Aren't we supposed to "die to self"? (1 Peter 2:24) Don't get me wrong, there are some things that I still don't quite understand the why of, but I still want to be obedient  - out of love for YHWH.

The bottom line is, even though the majority of Christians observe Sunday as their day of rest, we will choose to observe the day that YHWH commanded us to keep.  

"Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."  Joshua 24:14-15 

And as Peter said in Acts 5:29, 

We must obey God rather than men.   

For even more quotes and resources, check out the article "The First day of the week, the Lord's Day and Sabbath" found here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Going Back to the Roots

 My garden continues to help me understand spiritual applications.  This morning while picking green beans, I noticed a vine with blue flowers mixed in.  I have not yielded a bumper crop of green beans so far this year, and I wonder if these blue flowers and their encroaching vines are the reason.

Getting to the green beans was quite challenging because of these invasive intruders; I thought of how they could be very symbolic on a spiritual level.  These pervasive weeds (to me they are weeds because I did not plant them and I don't want them in my garden) represent false teaching.  These false teachings look alive (and they very much are alive), and their leaves look very similar to the leaves of the green beans (truth), but they are not, well, green beans.

The darker green leaves on the left are the green bean leaves.

They grow just like the green beans grow, and they have become extremely entangled with the green beans.  In fact, it was very difficult to discern which vine was the weed (false teachings) and which was the green bean (truth). So, I decided that if I wanted to know which was which, I needed to go to the roots, and that is what I did.  I found a vine of the weed and traced it back to the ground where I found the root system.  Each time I did this, I found that the weed had grown up very near to the green beans and then wrapped itself around the green bean vine. There were so many of these weeds they were choking out the green beans!  Once I determined which was which, I yanked up the weeds.

That is what my family and I have been doing spiritually speaking.  We started noticing that some things in our lives that we have believed and participated in were not stemming from the truth of God's Word.  They were no more than weeds (false teachings) and they were choking out the true vine, which meant we weren't producing a bumper crop for YHWH.  We have been going back to the root system of our faith.  Recognizing that as children of YHWH, and being grafted in to Israel (Romans 11 talks about this), means that we are now part of Israel.  Therefore, we need to live as YHWH instructed Israel to live.  We need to follow His instructions, which is found in the Torah (the first five books of the Bible).

Going back to the root system has helped us to recognize what is truth and what is false.  We are now growing exponentially in our understanding of YHWH's Word!  We have learned more in the last six months that we have our entire lives!  Hopefully we will start seeing bumper crops soon - all for the glory of YHWH!
This picture is of a previous year's crop.
Another thing that I noticed is that the pests seem to go after the green beans more so than the weeds.  Hmmm... interesting!  I definitely see that in the spiritual realm as well.  Satan doesn't go after false teachings, now does he?  Nope. He goes after the truth and he does his best to distort our perspective of the truth.  In fact, he plants false teachings in close proximity so that it is difficult to discern at first glance which is which.  That is why it is vital for Believers to go to the root system!

Now, can we produce fruit even with some false teaching in our lives?  Yes, I believe so.  I can look back and see when and where YHWH used me & my family and blessed us in spite of not following His Word completely - in spite of the false teachings.  However, He has promised that when we walk in obedience, blessings will be abundant - we'll have a bumper crop!  I truly believe that I can speak for my family in that we would much rather benefit from YHWH's blessings because of what we believe and do instead of in spite of it. Does that make sense?

If you are a Believer and Follower of Yeshua (Jesus Christ), and you want to know more about the root system of your faith, I encourage you to do the research.  First of all, search the Torah. Go back to the beginning.  Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you into all truth (John 16:13).  Find out how the Bible defines truth (John 17:17, Psalm 119:142, Romans 2:20, Matthew 5:18). Find out what YHWH says about your current belief system and the things you participate in in the way of worshiping Him.  He makes it clear in the Torah how He wants to be worshiped.  Remember that often times it is difficult to discern what is beneficial, so go back to the roots.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Troubling Dream - Do Not be Deceived

I woke up from a dream. I saw lightening strike nearby. I looked up into the sky and saw clouds part. A UFO came out from behind a cloud. I saw a sign that read simply PEACE. I yelled, "It's started!" I was yelling at a crowd of people who were underneath a pavilion. They couldn't see what I saw.

I have bing as my home page. The picture for today (see below), September 1, 2015, has this one description: "Who rides the bronze steed where the bright lights of a Ferris wheel radiate with royal glory? The Sun King, naturally."

I clicked on that link, which took me to Wikipedia. Part of the write up on this "Sun King" reads:"...he became one of the most powerful French monarchs and consolidated a system of absolute monarchical rule..."

This combined with my dream gave me chills!

1 John 2:18-29

Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.
As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—eternal life.
I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

 In the 1 John 2 passage, I put in bold letters verse 24.  What was it that YHWH's children had heard from "from the beginning"?  YHWH's Torah!  His Torah points to His Son, Yeshua (Jesus), and Yeshua always pointed to Torah:

Luke 24:44-48
 Then he said to them, These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things."

If we don't want to be deceived (which the majority of people will be deceived by the Antichrist), we must remain in Yeshua.  Yeshua IS the Word (John 1, Revelation 19:13), His Word IS Torah.  Torah instructs us on how to live out what YHWH has commanded us, to love Him first and foremost with all our hearts, soul, and mind, and second to love our neighbors as ourselves.  

Christy Ellis's photo.