Fatherhood

It’s Father’s day, here in America. I’ve never written about this before, so I thought I’d give it a go. Growing up I had many clashes with my father. By the time I was thirteen or so, I had so much anger and hate in me, that when watching TV shows, I’d root for the bad guys. As a kid, I promised myself, that if I ever had a kid I’d never spank them. As a teenager, I spent my time fostering my hate and anger, plotting to kill my family. I had it all planned out, exactly how I’d do it. Then one night, in my late teens, early twenties, after my dad and I had had an argument, I decided that I wanted out. I wanted out of life. So I grabbed a knife and started cutting on my left wrist. My dad begged and pleaded with me to stop, but I didn’t. He had to call 911. It was then that I became a ward of the state, and started receiving care for my issues. They had diagnosed me as bi-polar disorder with schizo-affective features, which turned out to be wrong. Part of the treatment involved seeing a therapist. When I began seeing the therapist I thought my parents were abusive. My folks also went through counseling. Toward the end of my tenure in the mental health system, when I realized that I didn’t need to act like that and they diagnosed me correctly with impulsivity disorder with explosive features (in other words I was an immature brat with a hot temper), my dad offered to take me to a Promise Keeper conference. This conference was in California. It was here were my dad and I began to mend the bridges. In many ways, that was the turning point in my relationship with my dad. By this time, I had realized that my folks were not abusive, and that I equated love with being understood. Since I had grown up being misunderstood, that translated to feeling like I wasn’t loved. I had blamed my folks for so much, things that were just as much out of their control as it was out of mine. But after the Promise Keeper rally things changed and I began to see, understand things differently.

I really began to understand what being a father is all about, and why my dad did some of the things he did, when I had my own child. I had wanted a daughter. I wanted a daughter because girls tend to be more scholastically oriented. I didn’t want a boy because of all the sports and such. I got my wish. I got a beautiful little girl. The first time I held her, at home, I shook. She was so small. She was 17 3/4 inches, and weighed six pounds. Her first day home, she slept and slept and slept. I called the hospital, because she was sleeping so much. They said if she sleeps for longer than six hours, to wake her. I anxiously waited, and when the six hour mark hit I woke her. This little life was so frail and fragile and depended on me for everything. She was utterly helpless. My dad had given me some advice, which was to treasure each moment. Instead I eagerly awaited the next mile stone. I wish I had listened to my dad on that one. The promise that I made to myself, about not spanking, I soon realized that was stupid. On one occasion, when she was two, we were waiting for the bus, after church, to go home. Since she was about two, she was being a typical toddler, playing and such. The problem was, she wasn’t minding her surroundings, and came close to being in the street several times. I warned her about it. I told her to sit, but toddlers? Yeah, right! So I ended up smacking her hand. Someone, in Burger King behind us, had called the cops because I smacked her hand. They thought it was child abuse. When the cops arrived, I explained what had happened and why. I even demonstrated it to him. He informed me that corporal punishment is legal in my state.

God is our heavenly Father. He desperately longs to have a relationship with us. He laments over our poor choices, and disciplines us when we do wrong, but He always showers us with love. Our earthly fathers are supposed to be examples of God being a good father. We certainly strive for that. I know my dad certainly strove for that. But we are human and make mistakes. There are many who grew up with terrible examples of God being a father. Instead, they saw their father being abusive. My wife, is one such example. As a new born, her folks were traveling cross country. Apparently she wasn’t liking the formula. Her clothes were wet from throwing up so much. Finally, in Arizona, her father has had it with her crying and wants to throw her in the dumpster. Instead, they give her to a lady behind a restaurant, who became her mother. A couple years later, the guy Deby had come to know as her father, ends up leaving since he divorced Deby’s mom. This threw Deby into a serious depression. She refused to eat, and had to be given vitamin B12 shots. The next guy who would fill the father role for her, ended up being sadistic, and severely abused her. So she never had a good model of what a father is supposed to be like. As fathers we can either be a good model, like we’re supposed to be, and help our children foster their relationship with God, or we can be poor role models, as in my wife’s case, and impede and hinder that relationship with God. It’s an awesome and fearful thing to be a father, to have such a burden of responsibility, but the reward far out weighs anything. I thank my father for being a good role model, and example of my heavenly Father. Sure, he wasn’t perfect, but neither was I for my daughter. So, for all the dads out there, and to God, our heavenly Father, “Happy Father’s day”!

Why Does God Allow People to Suffer?

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Sorry ’bout that. I have joined the Torah Babies team, and I wrote my first article for them, which took up my time, researching the subject.

I want to take a moment and try and talk about something that many have wondered, and a few have attempted to answer. I probably wont quote the bible too much, but I will be making references and allusions to it.

One thing that skeptics and critics like to point out is: “How can there be a God with all this suffering”. The truth is, there is a lot of suffering. Little innocent children and babies who suffer and die when they have not done anything wrong. Because of this, this has caused many to question the righteousness of God. Mainstream Christianity teaches that God is a loving God, and so He is, but when you focus on one thing too much, then your perspective becomes out of balance.

I can’t give an etymology as to when this belief, or thinking began. I have reason to believe though, that it was something that has been going on since at least Jesus’ time. Perhaps as far back as Job, or further.

We do know that back in the Ancient Near East, it was common for the people to have no idea what their gods rules were. The people figured if something bad happened, that it was because a god was angry. If it flooded, it was because someone upset the god and therefore the god was punishing them. If there was a drought, then it was because some god was angry and punishing them. If there was some sort of illness, or an outbreak of some sort, then a god was angry and punishing them. This is why the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is so different. See, God, at Sinai, gave His rules, His expectations to His people. We didn’t have to wonder any more. We knew that if we followed His rules, then He’d bless us, and if we broke His rules, then we’d be cursed.

You might be thinking: “That’s all fine and good, but that still doesn’t explain why God would allow suffering”, and you’d be right. One thing that certainly doesn’t help any is the way mainstream Christianity presents God. I’m not saying that God isn’t loving, as He is, but to focus so heavily on that is out of balance, and perhaps one reason why skeptics point this out.

Asking a question like this, while it may be normal, also shows our heart. What we’re doing, in reality, is sitting in judgement of God. A dangerous place to be. What we are doing is taking our sense of justice, and trying to judge the author of justice, by our feeble understanding of justice and righteousness. First, our thought shows an errant assumption, that there are “good” people. While people may be “good” by our definition, the reality is that we all have missed the mark. None of us are perfect, without sin.

Since I have been ‘suffering’ to some extent all my life, I feel like I am at least a little bit qualified to answer this. I seem to have a tendency to pick up ailments as I age. While I was born with asthma and allergies, when I was twelve I had my first seizure. At eighteen I developed psoiasis, which later became psoriatic arthritis. When I was in my early, to late twenties, my doctor, upon looking at x-rays, said I had a back of a seventy year old and recommended surgery for my neck. She pointed out that I had herniated disks, buldging disks, and degenerating disks. She noted how I had arthritis in my back. I declined the surgery at that time, but ended up being sort of ‘forced’ into it in 2014, when several doctors told me if I don’t have the surgery, the bones will fuse themselves and I could be paralyzed. When I was thirty-five I was diagnosed with type-one diabetes, late onset. In the summer of 2013 I was diagnosed with high blood pressure when I found myself sweating blood at work one day.

I have been prayed over numerous times, all to no effect. On one occasion my folks and I visited a friends church. Within minutes of entering the door, I was greeted by two people who said I had asthma, to which I afirmed, and asked if I’d like to be healed from it. Naturally I said yes. They prayed, and I still have asthma today. When things like this happen, it leaves you wondering. Is it me? Did I do something wrong? Did I not have enough faith?

When it’s a young child or a baby, it’s even worse. You wonder if God is punishing the baby because of what you did. You wonder if there was something you could have done different. Are we seeing similarities yet? If you said it reminds you of the ancient gods where people didn’t know what upset the gods, then you are right.

My wife was the survivor of terrible abuse as a kid. One day, when she was trying to understand why this happened to her, I had a thought about the mom who started MADD. It occurred to me that without her having to go through the incredible heartache of loosing a child, we’d never have MADD, and subsequently, we probably wouldn’t have most of the laws regarding driving under the influence.

There are lots of reasons why suffering happens, one of which is that we live in a fallen world. It’s of little comfort, to those suffering though. Do you tell a grieving mother that she lost her kid because of a fallen world? Yeah, that’d go over well.

A friend of mine, Roseann, recently wrote about pain and suffering.

Chronic Illness overwhelms
if not managed properly
until YHWH removes it
and this is a furnace of refinement
and therefore a responsibility to take seriously
in honor to HIM

What I mean is, life can become quite overwhelming and MS/Fibro/Raynaud’s, can and does magnify that.
What is simple is less simple
and what is difficult is more difficult.

That to say this, …
I have been given many studies to read, listen to, or watch recently,
BOTH Spiritual and Health based
blessed hard works of others in honor to Life and toward Torah/Messiah.
GREAT works of study based on long hours of diligence on the parts of those who put them together.
WONDERFUL! BLESSED!

I am feeling a sense of need to explain why I have not remarked or interjected in them more than just the “like button.
I hit “Like” to acknowledge them, but all too often cannot study them.

This has been a hard few days for me, health issues rose to the degree where I need more rest and less stress, even the good stretching stress type, not only the negative stress.
HOWEVER, even on my very best days I need to strictly monitor my study load that it does not over tax me, …”pacing and calm” being the vital key of my successful health management. Not having a he;ping hand here makes it CRITICAL and IMPERATIVE that I strictly follow this policy re my activity and my study and my thought processes also.
Getting overwhelmed in physical, mental, and emotional, … NOT GOOD and not conducive to me staying able to care for myself, again …with zero help.

That said,   , I am so blessed to receive these studies and teachings and works, because it means you people care and want me to be blessed as they were blessed, yet I am not able to read, watch and listen to much more than what I already on my own plate for my personal study diet which has been very carefully planned out and purposed both in topics and in need presently for my own ministry.
Oh that I could devour all offerings and be full with the info without getting overwhelmed and hitting the brick wall that erases all info, …MS is the cinder blocks, Fibro is the rebar and Raynaud’s is the mortar.

PLEASE do not be offended or hurt that I cannot respond to your offerings, oh please understand my sincere heart here. I simply cannot afford to set my own studies aside for all the sweet offerings, nor can I add to my full study plan as it is.
PLEASE know I am grateful you think of me, and do not discount your work or care, it is just that I can get from 2 to 10 or more of such offerings a day. Even two can overload my systems. Heck, even my very own can overload my systems!

These illness’ are in this way a sort of structure for me, they teach me how to structure life properly and when they are gone and healed I will be grateful for their lessons as I know this will aid me in life from now onward in a very good way, discipline !

***And while on this line of explanation toward understanding and clarity , … Likewise, … I am not one to do long thread interactions nor long private messaging for casual conversation. It taxes me more than I can say. HOWEVER, I will go all day hour after hour for the sake of souls and with those who WANT to understand and know the Truth in Messiah.
I will not do the same with those who want to bicker or wrestle, and I simply don’t as a rule carry on casual conversation for the sake of conversing, though I love everyone and wish I could
I truly am a woman of few words, necessary words, and not much more than that.  By necessity

I care
I love you
I am grateful for your consideration for me
Thank you

Shabbat Shalom and MUCH Love/Ahavah , always
Keep up the Good Fight, and Holy Work ! YHWH bless you in it !

Here are some things I’ve learned about suffering. Illness, disabilities, teach us dependency on God. Illness, disability, can teach us to truly value life, because each day is a struggle and each day is fleeting, and we never know when it comes to an end. Sometimes, we long for it to end, as it brings our struggle to an end. But this is only one aspect of it. There is also the fact that enduring an illness, disability, can inspire others. To see people who handle illness, disability, with grace and dignity, seems to be something that inspires people, and causes them to desire to achieve that in their own lives. Some times, it’s God trying to teach us something. With the apostle Paul, he asked three times and was told: “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9). An illness or disability isn’t necessarily the result of sin. Some times it’s there to show God’s glory, through healing, or other means. The simple fact is, we can’t always see how God may use our suffering. The suffering of one mother loosing her child to drunk driving lead to the organization MADD, as I mentioned above, and to laws regarding driving under the influence, which has lead to safer roads. Some times, God’s glory shines the brightest in the midst of our suffering. Healing isn’t the only way that God can be glorified. When we can go through and endure suffering in a manner that honors God, then He is magnified and glorified. And when He is glorified, even if it is through our suffering, how can we complain?

Witch Hunt

I suppose the first time I heard witch hunt was when I was in junior high, and it was with trials, as in the Salem witch trials. The Salem witch trials are perhaps the most famous, the most infamous in history. Hollywood and medical doctors and feminists like to perpetuate the notion of a young woman who practiced folk medicine, who was often convicted as the witch. Historians say that typically it was old women who were convicted(1). I always hated the Salem witch trials.  The way it was presented to me, in my junior high school classes were, back then, more in line with the way Hollywood and the medical doctors and feminists. I can still remember the pictures in the history books of young women being burned at the stake.

Then, when we moved from England to Germany, and I started high school, I went to some bible camp. Why they called it a camp, I have no idea. There were no tents, but bunks. There were no camp fires but cafeterias. One of my bunk-mates was into Petra. As I said, I had just come from England, and our pastor in England preached on the evils of rock and roll. Naturally I didn’t take to Petra. Not then anyway. After all, it was the devils music. It wasn’t until we got back to the States, to Tucson, where again I met someone who was into Petra. This time I read the lyrics and listened to the music, to make sure it matched. I was impressed! I also liked the music. Petra has a song called ‘Witch Hunt‘, which is more inline with where I’m going with this.

[Based on 1 Timothy 4:7, Titus 3:9]

Everybody look there’s a new bandwagon in town
Hop on board and let the wind carry you around
Seems like there’s not enough to keep us busy till the Lord comes back
Don Quixote’s gotta have another windmill to attack

Another witch hunt looking for evil wherever we can find it
Off on a tangent, hope the Lord won’t mind it
Another witch hunt, takin’ a break from all our gospel labor
On a crusade but we forgot our saber

There’s a new way to spend all our energies
We’re up in arms instead of down on our knees
Walkin’ over dollars trying to find another dime
Never mind the souls ’cause we really haven’t got the time

So send out the dogs and tally ho
Before we sleep tonight we’ve got miles to go
No one is safe, no stone’s left unturned
And we won’t stop until somebody gets burned
Bro Bro Bro Bro Bro Bro Brothers(2)

In this movement, whether you call it Hebrew Roots, or Messianic, or what not, I feel that Petra’s song ‘Witch Hunt’ describes some within the movement. We gotta be lookin for that evil. That’s why we have divisions over things like the calendars, sabbath, the shape of the earth, and many many more.

If someone should suggest that Easter isn’t connected to Ishtar, then they are deceived, or preaching mans doctrines. Basically, just like in the witch trials, everything is good as long as you go along with the mob. But if you try to point out the error of the mob, then prepare to be lynched and burned in effigy. Often, people don’t read the article, or check the sources, or do their own research using scholarly sources. People often just read the title and then jump to conclusi0ns. Maybe they read some comments, and then make their own comments, but very few actually read the article or watch a video before making a comment.

We talk about being Berean, “testing all things”, but really it’s more of ‘everything is cool as long as we agree’. We talk about being Torah observant, yet commit lashon hara, bear false witness, slander, our fellow brother or sister in Yeshua. So in ‘keeping Torah’ we break Torah, because someone doesn’t agree with us, doesn’t fit within the mould. We are so bent on finding the evil that we don’t even see the evil we commit.

We are quick to point out the evil of Christianity and Judaism, but we fail to see our own evil. Christians are pagan! They celebrate Christmas and Easter! Gasp! Jews are following doctrines and traditions of men! Gasp! The Septugint is pagan and false because it’s not Hebrew. The Hebrew after the Babylonian exile is corrupt because that’s when Hebrew took on the block script, like the Babylonians. Eeks gads! The Masoritic text is corrupt because it was altered by the Masorites. Oh my! We use names and pronunciations that violate Hebraic grammatics and phonetics, but justify it claiming that Hebrew today and since the second exile is corrupt. Disagree with me and you’re decieved! Pagan!

And we wonder why people don’t want t0 come to Torah. We have become our own modern equivalent of the pharisees. Instead of showing unity and love and compassion, we’re more interested in making sure we’re right. We don’t get it that we are profaning God’s great name. Yes, God is please that we want to follow Torah, but when we use it to beat others over the head because they don’t do it like we do, then instead of pleasing God, we break His heart. Instead of increasing His honor, His reputation, we damage it because what people see is a bunch of todlers arguing about who’s right, instead of the love of the Father.

How can we convince Christians to follow Torah, when we insult them and slander them, and certainly don’t show them love? If anything, we prove them right, as why not to follow the Torah. We demonstrate, through our bickering, that it can’t be followed. We’re so concerned in being right, that it’s become a pride issue, an ego trip. Instead of showing Christians that we follow Torah because we love our Father and simply want to please Him, and that it’s a joy to follow His statutes. If we would focus on demonstrating to others how that we just want to please our Father and that His Torah is not burdensome, but a joy, then more people would come to Torah.

The adversary has got us so focused on being right, that we can’t even see that we’re missing it. When we stop making it about us, and start making it about Him, then He will bring all mean unto himself (John 12:32). But as long as we make it about being right, stroking our egos, then people will be repulsed. We can try to convince ourselves that we are being loving by sharing this great information with them, as I’ve seen many claim. Usually because the perception is that the information presented was harsh, blundt and perhaps even rude. We can try to convince ourselves that we’re being loving, but realize that we are only fooling ourselves, that we are only stroking our egos.

I know social media can be used for good. I know because I’ve done it before, back when MSN Groups was the thing. As with anything, it can also be used for destructive purposes. How we use social media is up to us. We can use it to stroke our egos, or we can use it to honor God. The choice is ours. I’ll tell you this though, when we decide that God’s honor is more important than our ego…Watch out! That will be pheonominal!

In Yeshua

Jonathan Rocker

Sources:

Who Were the Witches? The Social Roles of the Accused in the European Witch Trials by Richard A. Horsley.

Petra Witch Hunt lyrics

Petra Witch Hunt music video: Youtube

 

Why

Ever wonder ‘why’ on certain things? Of course you have! We all have to some extent. As a kid growing up I became fascinated with science early on. When I once asked ‘why’, the teacher was quick to point out that in science we don’t ask ‘why’. Why is more of a philisophical question than it is a question for science. See, in science you ask what, how, those types of questions. They have hard empirical data or evidence, where as ‘why’, as I pointed out, is more philisophical and subjective.

When my brother was about two, I’m seven years his senior, he hit the phase where his favorite thing was to ask ‘why’. As a good brother, I dilegantly tried answering each question. I found out though, that not matter how I explained it, he always asked ‘why’. It was a never ending barrage of ‘why’. I was very thankful when he out grew it.

I do find it good to occasionally stop and take a survey of myself and ask the dreaded ‘why’. Why is it I do certain things? Looking for what my true motivations there. Why do I believe the things I do? Is it because I’ve been raised that way? Or is it because I have researched it and tested it? Even if I have researched it and tested it, has it changed over time? What new evidence, information has come forth?

See, I use the ‘why’ as a way to examine myself, to test myself. To make sure my motivations are pure, which they rarely are, and to make sure the information I have is current and accurate, and if need be update my beliefs. While God’s word, scripture, does not change, our understanding of it does, our interpretation of scripture changes.

Don’t believe me? If we are believers, then we had to change our beliefs from that of the world, to realizing we were wrong. If we follow Torah, then once again, we had our beliefs challenged. Mainstream Christianity teaches that Christ set us free from the law/Torah. Someone came along and challenged that belief, and we subsequently updated our belief to match.

Why is it that most of us started off as Torah terrorists and then settle down to become more productive members of Torah and YHVH? This is something I have given much thought to ever since I became a follower of Torah. I have observed that most of us come to Torah being lied to by the church, either intentionally or unintentionally. This breeds resentment, mistrust, contempt, and anger, to name a few. While mainstream Christianity certainly has missed it in regards to the validity of the Torah, by in large, it wasn’t an intentional deciet. At least, not today anyway. It’s a whole lot more complex than that. The problem began in the first century.

First there were the false accusations against Yeshua brought by the scribes, the chief priests, and as the OJB put it, the Sanhedrin (Luke 22:66). Mark 14:55-59 really makes it clear. 55Now the chief priests and the whole councilf were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. 56For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. Then there was Stephen, who was also falsely accused. You can read about that in Acts chapters 6 through 8. But these were deliberate attempts. The apostle Paul was also falsely accused of teaching people to forsake Moses (Acts 21:18-24).

See? It didn’t begin with Catholicism or the early church fathers. Even with the apostle John, he was not welcome in the church that he started (3 John 1:9). Peter had to warn his congregation about misunderstanding Paul (2 Peter 3:16). So even in the apostles day, people were getting what Paul said confused. Marcion was an early church father who thouht he’d “purify” Christianity by removing the Old Testament. It was Marcion who viewed the God of the Old Testament as mean and harsh and judgmental, where as Jesus represented a compassionate, loving and forgiving God.

I could go on and on about early church history, but I wont. My point isn’t so much about church history, but something else entirely. It’s about the way we come to Torah that results in such negativity. Because we realize that mainstream Christianity denying Torah is wrong, we tend to feel, as I mentioned earlier, an air of superiority, along with the bitterness that is often felt towards the church. A lot of it has to do with how it’s presented. Often times it’s presented, not with humility, but to point out how wrong the church is. We can present the validity of Torah without the arrogance, without tearing the church down.

So, why are we doing what we do? Why do we present Torah to others in the fashion that we do? Honestly, most of the time it’s more about: ‘Hey! Look at me! I know more than you, because you’re wrong!’. This has caused factions with in us, as well as groups like Hebrew Roots Heresy, Support Group for Victims of Hebrew Roots Movement and other Cults, to name but a few. I knew a lady where, because of her negative experience with Hebrew Roots, that now she can’t stand to hear any of it. She will literally not listen or tollerate any of it. We have got to change! We have become a stumbling block to our brothers and sisters!

There are some, who because of some misinformation, think that the church is pagan and equate the church to the whore of Babylon. Naturally, they think they are to call people ‘out of Babylon’ or ‘out from among here’. There has been much damage caused by our attitude, by our pride, our sheer arrogance, and it’s time to repent of our wrong doing. The Torah is not just about the letter of the law, but also the spirit, ruach, of the law. How can we uphold Torah while violating it? By spreading misinformation, we commit lashon hara. When are we going to fall on our faces and repent from this evil that we have committed? When are we going to stop exalting ourselves? Or will we be stiff necked and have to have God humble us? So I think I’ll leave you right here to ponder these for yourself.

 

In Yeshua

Jonathan Rocker

 

Sources:

Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Wikipedia

Biblehub

Bible Things in Bible Ways

 

United

A few years ago, maybe five or so, I had been meditating on heaven and who goes there. I had begun to realize that there were going to be people in heaven that we didn’t expect, and conversly, the people we thought would get in wouldn’t be there. I had begun to share this with my wife and daughter, but the why I didn’t know. I hadn’t gotten there yet. I had looked at Matthew 25:31-46 and noticed that it said that there were those who cast out demons, prophesied, etc and so on, and these were the ones who didn’t make it. Then there were those who gave drink to those thirsty, gave food to the hungry, visited the sick and the prisoners, and yet these people didn’t realize they were doing it to Yeshua. They were doing it because they saw a need and met it, because it broke their hearts to see others in need.

When I came to Torah one thing I noticed is that people like to exalt themselves because they do Torah, and like to condemn others because they don’t do Torah. Phrases like “Come out of her my people” used out of context in reference to Christianity. Most of us got our start in Christianity. That’s where most of us met Jesus/Yeshua. Yet there’s a big stigma, within those that follow Torah, about using Jesus, like it’s pagan. Sure, mainstream Christianity misses the relevance of Torah, but that doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the bath water. None of us sees the whole picture. None of us has all the answers. If anything, we should encourage and exhort our fellow Christian brothers and sisters about the relevancy of Torah, instead of being a stumbling block to them.

When I first came to Torah, I like so many others, started as a Torah terrorist. Instead of exhorting my Christian brothers and sisters, I condemned them. If there was a difference of opinion I treated them like they were deceived, and perhaps teaching heresy. A lot of it comes from how we came to Torah. We came to Torah under the impression, belief, that we were lied to, that it was intentional deceit. I’m sure there are some teachers, pastors, and so forth, who did deliberately lie to us. But does that mean they all lied to us? Or maybe they were taught incorrectly. We’ve been fortunate that God has revealed this to us, but it is not to lord it over people. I once asked someone if there was anything we could do differently about how we come to Torah, because realizing the error of mainstream Christianity is still there. There was no answer to that question. I’ve been meditating on it ever since. It’s just occurred to me that instead of looking at it as intentional deceit, we should look at it as none of us knows it all and when come to some truth then we should encourage and exhort others and not belittle them because they don’t know what we know.

A couple weeks ago I was listening to Greg Hershberg, and to me, he was talking about unity, but I needed to chew on it a bit. The other day it came tome me what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it…At least the concept came to me. The Hebrew word chaber means united and comes from chabar meaning joined. Chaber, while it generally means united, can also mean companions, it can also refer to family or to military, such as rank. Chabar, while it generally means joined, it can also mean united, allies, or connected. I thought I’d look up it’s etymology and see that.

unity (n.)Look up unity at Dictionary.com
c. 1300, “state or property of being one,” from Anglo-French unite, Old French unite “uniqueness, oneness” (c. 1200), from Latin unitatem (nominative unitas) “oneness, sameness, agreement,” from unus “one” (see one).

The “uniqueness, oneness” reminded me of echad. Merriam-Webster defines unity as:

Definition of unity

plural

unities

  1. 1a:  the quality or state of not being multiple :onenessb(1):  a definite amount taken as one or for which 1 is made to stand in calculation in a table of natural sines the radius of the circle is regarded as unity(2):identity element

  2. 2a:  a condition of harmony :accordb:  continuity without deviation or change (as in purpose or action)

  3. 3a:  the quality or state of being made one :unificationb:  a combination or ordering of parts in a literary or artistic production that constitutes a whole or promotes an undivided total effect; also:  the resulting singleness of effect or symmetry and consistency of style and character

  4. 4:  a totality of related parts :  an entity that is a complex or systematic whole

  5. 5:  any of three principles of dramatic structure derived by French classicists from Aristotle’s Poetics and requiring a play to have a single action represented as occurring in one place and within one day

  6. 6capitalized:  a 20th century American religious movement that emphasizes spiritual sources of health and prosperity

In 1 Cor 12 the apostle Paul tells the Corinthians about being united just as a body has different parts but all one body. Back in his day there were divisions too. Some said they followed Apollos, while others said they followed Peter, etc and so on (1 Cor 1). I think today, that we have forgotten our humility, that we don’t know it all. That we got so focused of the fact that, in regards to Torah, we were taught incorrectly. It’s like the blind men and the elephant. I’m sure you know the parable. All of us are like the blind men. Sure, our eyes have been opened to certain things, but that doesn’t mean we see everything. Yeshua cautions us about what we say. In Matt 12:36 it says that we will give an account for every careless word we say. Simply put, we will be judged on what we say. Matt 12:36 cross references to Ecc 12:14.

We have done a good job of alienating ourselves. We pounce of mainstream Christianity, and we pounce on the Jews, and we argue amongst ourselves over the calendar, the shape of the earth, etc and so forth. Basically, we argue over everything. This comes from a lack of humility, because we think we know the truth. So because we know the truth, those who disagree with us are deceived. Maybe it’s time we put our egos aside, and realize that we don’t have the market on truth. Just because we realize that Torah has not been abolished, doesn’t mean we’re better than others, it doesn’t mean we know more than others. In one of my earlier posts I talked about the importance of scholarly research. It’s not enough to just Google stuff and say we know something. Most of the time when we simply Google stuff, we bias our search and we tend to look at articles that we agree with. Whenever I Google something I tend to use Google Scholar, and if I don’t I check the article I’m reading for footnotes and a bibliography. If it has those, then I can verify their sources and see if their sources are reliable. We have become lazy in not researching, and when we do we settle on stuff we like, we agree on, instead of checking its credibility. When I say credibility, I’m not talking about whether or not they’re a believer, but rather whether or not their research has been vetted. We have earned our reputation. The sad thing is, while we claim to be Torah observant, and we are offended when people use cuss words, we fail to realize that to ‘take the name of the LORD in vain’ doesn’t necessarily mean saying cuss words, but rather to harm or defame God’s reputation. This is why Hebrew Roots has such a bad reputation, and subsequently has taken God’s name in vain. We need to repent of this and be humble and think of God’s reputation over ours.

 

Sources used:

Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages

Beth Yeshua International

Online Etymology Dictionary

Merriam-Webster: Dictionary and Thesaurus

ELEPHANT AND THE BLIND MEN – Jainworld

Unity in the Body of Christ

SciZone

The Talmud and the Oral Law

Being raised a Christian I was raised with the understanding that Christ did a way with the law, Torah. I never read the Talmud or any of the other literature in Judaism, as it was understood that Christ was against that. I grew up believing that the Talmud and the Oral law was what the Pharisees had thrust upon people and made it impossible for anyone to keep. So naturally I never read the Talmud. I did, on a few occasions, try and read the Old Testament, but usually got bored part way thru Numbers and stopped. Where as the New Testament I read and reread over and over.

In August of 2014 I came into the knowledge of Torah and began following Torah, but even so, my perception of the Oral law and the Talmud did not change. If anything, my thoughts about the Oral law and the Talmud was reinforced. In the Torah followers community it was sometimes called “Traditions”, which was, and is, frowned upon. In my first year following Torah I was busy learning that the Torah was not abolished, as I previously thought. It wasn’t long until I came across Matthew Vander Els and Tyler Dawn Rosenquist, who taught me about proper research and the importance of primary sources. As I studied, I started studying the historical context of scripture. Reading archaeology finds and discoveries. Studying the anthropology of scripture, so I could understand the historical context of scripture. What a powerful impact that has had on me.

As I studied and grew in Torah I noticed that a lot of the Torah teachers would quote and cite the Talmud, to add clarification and relevancy to scripture. This intrigued me. At first I was naturally skeptical, but as time wore on I began to understand better. Now, it’s about at this point where we start noticing one of two oppinions. The first might be those who are absolutely opposed to the Talmud and the Oral law. Some go so far as to call it ‘Satanic’. The other group would be those who embrace it. I am somewhere in the middle. I can see the benefit of the Oral law, the Talmud, and Mishnah as it may give historical context. The Mishnah is certainly good for historical context. I think perhaps we should begin at the beginning.

In Exodus 18 we have where Jethro advises Moses to deligate, to appoint elders or judges. Otherwise Moses was going to burn out. We see a variation of this same incident in Numbers 11, and Deuteronomy 1:15,and Deuteronomy 17:8.  This is the first Sanhedrin, and the beginning of the Oral law. Deuteronomy 17:10-11 You shall do according to the decisions of the verdict which they shall give you from that place which Yahweh chooses. You shall observe to do according to all that they shall teach you: according to the decisions of the law which they shall teach you, and according to the judgment which they shall tell you, you shall do. You shall not turn away from the sentence which they shall show you, to the right hand, nor to the left. Cross references to Matthew 23. The “Oral Law” are the decisions, rulings and judgments that these elders made. These rulings and decisions were preserved by oral tradition until about 200 C.E. when they were written down in what we know today as the Talmud¹. I started pondering and wondering if the Talmud and Mishnah could be considered primary sources. I checked with Matthew Vander Els and he agreed that the Mishnah could definitely be considered a primary source. I decided to see what I could find, and indeed found that they are in fact considered as primary sources²

As I mentioned above, some claim that the Talmud is ‘Satanic‘. While they do give some examples, if one goes to investigate, then it becomes clear quickly that the examples were taken out of context. It’s just like when someone takes something you said out of context, or scripture, or anything else, for that matter. Some people will take things out of context if it means getting their point across. There are more claims against the Talmud, but with context and proper study, it’s not always what you think.

The Talmud doesn’t contain every single case, decision and judgment made. If it did it would be even bigger. No, instead what the Talmud does is contain cases in the extremes. This is also why it can appear to contradict itself. When we examine it though, then we can see the extremes and come to an understanding. I’m not suggesting that we should obey the Talmud. Rather I think the Talmud and Mishnah can give us some historical context and insight. It might help provide some details that are not in scripture. Is it necessary to study the Talmud and Mishnah? No, but it could be beneficial. I hope I have given you something to consider. How you choose to proceed is up to you.

Footnote:

  1. Jewish Virtual Library The Oral Law – Talmud & Mishnah.
  2. Yeshiva University Libraries Ancient Jewish History Primary Sources-Jewish.

Christians Want to Obey God

Just about every Christian wants to obey God. That isn’t the problem. The problem comes when we define what and how to obey God. Mainstream Christianity says that the Torah is done away with, that the Old Testament is done away with. That Jesus came and died for our sins and that he did away with the old covenant. Yet, Christians will say that they want to be obedient to God and His will, His Spirit.

There are some in the Torah movement who would have you believe that Christians are essentially heathen and that some intentionally decieve people in their teachings. Now, I’m not here to pass judgement. I can’t read the hearts of men. What I do know is that most Christians desire to obey God. I’ve been meditating on this article for over a week, almost two now. The other day I was listening to K-Love’s verse of the day which was Prov 4:4 Then he taught me and said to me, “Let your heart hold fast my words; Keep my commandments and live; As I listened to the verse, thinking about this subject, I just had to chuckle at the irony of it. See, the context is that “Keep my commandments and live” is referring to Torah. 

See, it gets confusing and even mystical and esoteric when you remove the context of nearly two thirds of the book, claiming that Jesus did away with it. We start getting into some weird stuff here. Num 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?  Ps 89:34 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Mal 3:6 “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed. See, God doesn’t chage. Again, most Christians will agree with this. So if God doesn’t change, then how can He change His word? 

I have heard it said, or read somewhere, that a persons word, or speech, or sayings, which in Hebrew the word for word is debar, is the essence, or character of a person. I spent a lot of time trying to find the reference to this. I even asked a few friends, but was unable to find the reference. John 1:1 is a good example of this. Many Christians know this verse and use it to point to the divinity of Christ. I’m not going to get into that here, except to point out that word logos is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word debar(im). Many Christians think that Christ is the very incarnation of God. That he is the word/logos/debarim, come in the flesh. In Jewish culture, as I stated above, but have been unable to find the reference, a persons word is a persons character. They can not be separated. And the Torah could no more be done away with than God could do away with Himself, for His word is who He is and they are inseparable.

Again, though, I am not wanting to debate the thoughts of Mainstream Christianity in this post. In fact, my target audience is the ones who already understand that Torah has not been done away with. For us to come at Christians with an air of superiority, or to brow beat them because they don’t understand the same thing we do, does not help the Kingdom. In fact it does harm. How? You ask. For one we break Torah by being prideful and arrogant and condescending when talking to others who d0n’t believe or understand as we do. For another, it doesn’t demonstrate loving our neighbor. I have treated Christians like this myself. I have also seen others treat Christians like this. Just as God commanded the Israelites when leaving Egypt and again at Sinai, we are to remember. The Israelites were to remember how they were treated by the Egyptians, so that they would always treat others with compassion and loving-kindness. But so many of us have forgotten where we came from. How that once, we thought the same things that many Christians think; that the law was done away with.

Most of the time, it’s not an impressive argument that gets people to repent and see the error of their ways. Most of the time it’s our lifestyle that speaks loader than any and all our words could ever say. When people see that we keep the Torah, not because of some argument, but out of our love for our Father, then that will do more to convince people than our best argument. But no! We’d rather argue about when sabbath is, and which calendar is right, and which pronunciation of His name is right, and the list goes on and on. What they see in us is not love. Because of this, this helps them further believe that the Torah is all about rules, and we can’t even agree on the rules, which aren’t even rules. Is it any wonder some think we’re a cult?  You’re not enlightened because you think….. It’s absurd and it’s not love and it’s not Torah! But hey, let’s be superior about our thoughts and beliefs, because that’s what matters, right?! We’re so busy trying to be impressive with our arguments, that we’ve become a stench to the Jews and to the Christians, and we just justify it and say that they don’t understand. Maybe they understand better than we do!

Those who have been following me a while know that as far as sabbath goes, I often compare it to weekly date times with our Father. Like a father daughter date night thing. I do picture it that way. I know that God looks forward each week to be with us. We can treasure it, or we can trash it. The choice is ours. Since I am disabled and can’t work and am pretty much a shut-in, I had to figure out how to separate sabbath from other days. Throughout the week my wife and I stay at home, for the most part, and watch TV (Netflix). We also tend to go to the corner store and get snacks. So on sabbath, what I’ve done to separate it from other days is instead of watching Netflix, we watch Sabbath services via LiveStream and YouTube. We also don’t spend money or check our bank account. We spend the entire shabbat focused on our Father. With some of the feasts I’m still learning about it and establishing our traditions, so it’s a bit awkward, but we do keep the feasts.

When I first started in Torah I did a good job at driving people away. I had that air of superiority. My family thought maybe I was in a cult. Last year I spent some time with my folks. As we did, they got to see how I lived. My folks don’t keep the dietary laws of Lev 11 and Deut 14:1-21. There was once when we were out at Costco and my dad bought me some lunch, a pizza. The pizza had pepperoni on it. I thought I remembered that pepperoni had pork in it. So without saying anything I start removing the pepperoni. My dad notices and tells me that the pepperoni is okay. Rather than argue with him, I submitted to him. A few days later I looked it up and casually pointed it out to my dad. I didn’t want to make it a big deal, I just wanted him to be aware. It wasn’t long where they started keeping the dietary restrictions of Lev 11 and Deut 14 with me. Except for maybe when we ate out. Another time when my folks were out and I was at home, they got a Papa Murphy’s pizza, and made sure it met the requirements. Now I could have made a big stink about things. If I had, the outcome would have been very different. When I first started in Torah, my dad told me not to talk to him about it anymore. When I was with them last year for a time, we did talk about Torah. We didn’t always agree, but we talked. To this day, we can still talk about Torah. They got to see the change in me. How that I treasured Torah and didn’t lord it over them. I was fortunate. I got a chance to reconcile.

Maybe you’re reading this and you realize that you’ve made Torah a stench before people. It’s never to late to reconcile. It begins with remember where you came out of. No! Not the “lies and deciet” of Christianity. Yes, Christianity has some things wrong. But it begins we remembering that you too thought like that. That it was God and His awesome mercy/chesed that opened your eyes to the Torah. Yes, we need to share about the Torah, but it should never be done as I have indicated above. We can’t share Torah by violating Torah. I’ve heard some say that they are being loving. That them sharing the truth is love. This caused me to pause and reflect about prophets and messengers. See, it’s not enough to just deliver the words. A letter can do that. But God still prefers to use us people as His vessels to communicate His word. So it’s not just His words that need to be communicated, but also His character. Some times when I’m correcting a friend, I may call them a derogation term, like “knucklehead”, in fun. But then they know that too, and it is just as much the way I say it. If I say it angrily and scoldingly, then I will have a hurt friend…If he chooses to remain a friend. But if I say it playfully and jovially, then it’s usually well received. Sure, there are times in which being firm is required. I’ve been there and done that. But even when being firm, it should still be done humbly and meekly.

We need to be just as much focused on presenting God’s character as we are His words. His words are just as much a part of His character. So next time you want to jump on social media and enter a debate, think about His character, His reputation. What impact will your actions have on His reputation? By damaging His reputation you profane His great name.