The Joy of Pain

I know, weird name for a title. How can there be joy in pain? Pain hurts. How is there joy in that? Well, let me tell you my story.

See, I’m no stranger to pain. There is more than one kind of pain too. I happen to be familiar with both physical and emotional pain. Most of the time I just push it out of my mind. Back about five years ago my daughter was offered an opportunity to go live out of state with my folks. My daughter asked me for advice. Knowing myself, that naturally I’d want her to stay I sidestepped her question and told her that in some cultures she’d be considered a woman, so she’d have to make her own choice and live with the consequences of it. She did, and she flew out the day before my birthday.

Four months later I was fired from my job due to my disabilities. To be fair, I can’t blame them. They tried working with me, but I was gone more than I was there. Between diabetes and chronic pain, lower back and neck, the amount I could endure got less and less. It wasn’t their fault. From a business point of view, I was unstable and they had to let me go. It wasn’t my fault either. I couldn’t help that my conditions were getting worse. At first I could barely get through an eight hour day and throw up. Then it was a six hour day. Then four. Then I was let go. It was good my daughter had left by that point. She left in August of 2013 and they fired me January 4th of 2014. By this point I was so bad that to be up for ten to twenty minutes caused vomiting. In Oct of 2014 I had cervical decompression and fusion on C5 through C7. That helped some. Now I can generally go for extended lengths with out getting sick, but I still have to be mindful and not over do it, which is still way too easy. As a result I have gone from being fairly active, where I could walk eight miles in a day, to very sedentary, where doing one mile is difficult. It’s not about being slightly winded that I worry about. It’s my back reacting to it and spending the next few days or more resting and recovering from it.

There is also dealing with the diabetes, that throws in even more fun. I’m brittle without exercise, add in exercise and it just gets crazy. As a result I carry a bag of supplies with me; a glucagon pen, a 1 liter soda (I prefer to use soda first. I find it’s easier and faster). I also sometimes have seizures, which the diabetes makes me more susceptible to seizures. I’ve been known to grab a candy bar or soda and start drinking it before I pay for it. I get some weird looks for doing that too.

About a year ago I finalized the divorce, ending a marriage of twenty years. It’s not that I stopped loving her, it’s it was killing me. The stress of having to deal with her was just to much. With her being a multiple personality (D.I.D), PTSD, and so on, it just wore me down. For me, the hardest part was when she’d enter a psychosis and leave for a period of time. This was why my daughter was offered a chance to move. It was affecting her.

So to summarize, daughter leaving, disabilities took me out of work and greatly limited what I can do, and an end to a twenty year marriage. There’s emotional and physical pain right there. So where’s the joy?

The other day I discovered a song by I am They, called Scars. I immediately fell in love with the song. It reminded me that one, we’re not alone. It also reminded me that our scars have a purpose, that our pain can be used to minister to others. Also, our story isn’t done yet. Finally, He bore our scars to show us His heart.

Trust me, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment, in the pain. All you can think about is the pain and how you just want it to end. But knowing that there is a purpose and a hope, that doesn’t exactly make it easier, but it does make it bearable. Knowing that what I’m going through can help someone, there’s the joy in the pain. Knowing that there’s a purpose, even if I can’t see it, that’s at least some comfort.

God and Unconditional Love

A couple of years ago, or so, I was talking with someone online and we were talking about unconditional love and whether or not God does that or not, and whether or not it’s biblical. To be fair, I grew up being taught, and believing, that God does love unconditionally. One of the first things I realized in our discussion was that it’s all on how one defines “unconditional love”. It was apparent to me right away that this person’s idea of unconditional love, was a love that excused and tolerated everything. Right away I saw the flaw in this persons understanding. Yeshua often used the physical to illustrate the heavenly. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua says that us, being good parents, know not to give our children rocks and snakes to illustrate that God is much wiser and also much more loving. So in the same way I will use an analogy to make a point. In every relationship there are boundaries. Just because we put limits on things before consequences follow, doesn’t mean that the love stops. In the same way, God has established boundaries in our relationship with Him. This does not diminish the love He has for us. It simply establishes boundaries before consequences follow. We see over and over, in the Old Testament, how that Israel would break Torah, break the covenant they had with God. How that God would call them back time and again, how that God would warn them over and over. Finally, after Israel would ignore all this, God would enact the consequences He warned them of. Eventually it lead to God divorcing the ten tribes, also known as the nation of Israel. God never stopped loving the ten tribes, or Judah. In fact He speaks about how one day He will gather them from the four corners of the earth.
The first thing I did was to look it up from a scholarly perspective on the ancient near east. The greats, Aristotle and Plato, were easy to find. Finding a Hebrew perspective, for the first century or prior, was not so easy. The earliest manuscripts we have of the Old Testament is the Septuagint, where the first translation was 285-246 BC. The Septuagint predates the Masoretic texts, where the oldest authentic Masoretic text dates to 916 A.D. Clearly, since the Septuagint was translated from Hebrew into Greek, there are, or were, some Hebrew text. The problem is that we don’t have anything in Hebrew that predates the Septuagint. The Dead Sea Scrolls date back to 250 BC. to 68 AD. As you can see, the Septuagint still predates the Dead Sea Scrolls. It’s fair to say there may be some older Hebrew text out there, after all the Septuagint was translated from Hebrew into Greek, but those texts remain missing. Given these limitations, I’ll work with what I have.

The Greek word eros is intense, passionate love, and is where we get erotic from. Plato viewed eros as transcendent beauty, not necessarily in people, but rather ideas. Plato thought that eros was the ideal form of love since reciprocation is not a requirement[1]. Philia, in contrast, was not a yearning passion like that of a beast, but rather fondness and appreciation for one another. Philia could encompass not just friendship, but also family, political, and even job and discipline. The relationship derives value either because of a business relationship or character and morals, or values, are similar[2]. Agape is the one most Christians are familiar with, as it is often referenced to as “unconditional, god-like love”. However, Greek philosophers viewed agape as the “paternal love of God for man”. This love included, or encompassed philia, as it is usually mutually beneficial. The article goes on to say: “Agape arguably draws on elements from both eros and philia in that it seeks a perfect kind of love that is at once a fondness, a transcending of the particular, and a passion without the necessity of reciprocity.” [3] Even in Grecian times, love was hard to describe because it was so vast and personal. How one person described it and defined it, was different that how another describes it.

With Hebrew, just looking at the word and its definition and usage, one could easily get confused. The Hebrew word ahav can refer to paternal love, romantic love, slave/master relations, and can even be used to describe passion for food[4].

We know, generally speaking, that Hebrew is a language of function. Given this, I think it’s reasonable to define love, Hebraically, as faithful, steadfast, loyal, sacrificial and selfless. The thing is, I just used other words to describe love. For example, steadfast love is the Hebrew word chesed, which can be translated as mercy, loving-kindness, and obviously steadfast love. The Yale Anchor Bible Dictionary gives a nice seven page definition on the Hebrew concept of love, covering several Hebrew words. Even though I am tempted to copy and paste, I shall refrain. What I would like to do is point out the highlights of the Anchor Bible Dictionary’s article on Love.

The first entry for love in the Anchor Bible Dictionary is dod. Most often it is used to mean beloved, loved one, and betrothed. It can also mean uncle, or be used abstractly as love. Rayah seems to primarily mean beloved bride. Yadid is another word that is used, in poetic form, as beloved. With khashaq we see it in the context of desire, both as a man for a woman (Gen 34:8) and of God toward Israel (Deut 21:11). One word that I didn’t expect was the word chesed, which is commonly thought of as mercy, goodness or kindness. The third definition for chesed does talk about affection and love.

In each of these Hebrew words we find that not only in the definition, but also in the biblical context that love has to do with affection, passion, desire and so on. Just as in the Greek above, the same holds true with the Hebrew concept for love. It can be directed at things or people, without reciprocation. It can also be referring to a relationship in which love is reciprocated.

So what are we to conclude then? Is there unconditional love? I think we have to answer that, now that we have vocabulary out of the way, by looking at how one defines unconditional. If we define unconditional as cart blanche, the person can do whatever with out repercussions or consequences, then we’d have to conclude that not only is that unhealthy psychologically, but it’s also not biblical. If we define unconditional love, however, as unfailing, never ending love, then yes I’d have to say that it is biblical. We see lots of examples in the Bible, where God pleads with Israel to repent, and they don’t so they go into exile. In the case of the Northern nation of Israel, they were divorced and completely scattered abroad, but then Moses prophesied this before he died, and part of that promise was that God would gather Israel from the four corners. Even then, God didn’t stop loving. We see in the Bible how God sets up health boundaries for a loving relationship, and how Israel repeatedly broke them, but God didn’t give up, nor did His love quit. 1 Cor 13 it says love never fails.  So if you think that unconditional love means that the person gets to do whatever without consequence, then again I’d have to point out that that’s not biblical nor psychologically sound. Rather unconditional love is a love that has boundaries, but yet doesn’t quit, or give up. Even when God divorced Israel, He didn’t stop loving her, and there was the promise of restoration.

 

Footnotes:

  1. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Philosophy of Love: 1 The Nature of Love: Eros, Philia, and Agape: a Eros
  2. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Philosophy of Love: 1 The Nature of Love: Eros, Philia, and Agape: b Philia
  3. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Philosophy of Love: 4 The Nature of Love: Physical, Emotional, Spiritual
  4. H157 Ahav
  5. H1730 Dod
  6. H7474 Rayah
  7. H3039 Yadid
  8. H2836 Khashaq
  9. H2617 Chesed
  10. Yale Anchor Bible Dictionary pages 5273 – 5303 The entry on Love for both Old and New Testaments.

Holding Back

This past year I’ve spent a lot of time being introspective. Lately I’ve been studying my personality type, and learning a lot. Learning that I’m an INTJ is not new or surprising to me. Understanding just what it means is. I’ve always been an introvert. I prefer thought experiments, and I also prefer being alone. Cabin fever is not an issue for me. If I had my way I’d never leave the house. Naturally though, I do interact with people, to varying degrees. One thing I have come to understand is that I hold back quite a bit. I may show my science side to one person, my theology side to another, and so on. This probably contributed to my divorce. Yes, I had lost my job, and yes I was in considerable pain, which lead to surgery. Out of this though, I retreated further within myself. I didn’t open up to my help meet, my wife. It got to the point where we barely talked anymore. Another thing I’ve come to realize is that I hold back from God. It’s like I have a side where I feel safe in revealing and communicating to God with, but the rest if off limits. God being who He is, respects this about me, and has patiently been waiting for me. I’m not sure how to open up. At this point, I’m just aware that I need to. I know it’d take my relationship with God to the next level, but I don’t know how…yet, to open up. There’s a lot that goes on in my head. Since I almost never reveal what is going on in my head, people have no idea. Of course God knows. He made me. I just don’t know how to open up yet.

Problems with the Hebrew Roots Movement

July 12th, 2014, a few months before I came to Torah, I did a “Rant about the Church” in which I gave what I perceived as problems. Now that I’ve been following Torah for a bit, and came in, perhaps, via Hebrew Roots, it’s only appropriate that I do likewise.

Sometime ago I was talking with a friend about how people come to Torah. I had already recognized that the method in which people were coming in was a huge problem. See, by attacking what people, Christians, believe we set ourselves up as the attackers, the adversary and we profane His great name. Furthermore, a lot of the attacks are lashon hara at best. Where people will spread memes about what they believe, without checking it’s accuracy. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s deal with one issue at a time.

A lot of Hebrew Rooters come in thinking that they’ve been lied to all this time. That the church, as a whole, is corrupt and has lied to them. This sets the stage for a few things. One, it obviously sets the stage for dissention, but it also sets the stage for anger, betrayal, conspiracy theories, and of course…pride. In a lot of the attacks on Christians and Christianity is the air of pride. How that now, since they’ve come into this truth, then those who don’t accept it are wrong. This is pride. Now yes, there are problems with the church, with Christianity. One glaring one is they think that Torah is done away with. But one thing that Christianity and the church get right is love. So while Torah observant folks hound on Christianity about how they’re not following Torah, what they fail to see is that by attacking, they take on the role of the adversary (hasatan), and miss out of following the most basic principle of Torah, and that is love. If you don’t have love, then you’ve missed the boat. So rather that setting yourself up as being better than Christians, because you observe sabbath and the feasts and the dietary laws and such, and instead of attacking Christians because they mistakenly think that that stuff has been done away with, what we need to do is live it in such a way where they become jealous and start asking questions. See, when love is the motivator, that works so much better.

Another point that is glaring about Hebrew Rooters is the claims that are made. All these memes, and claims about what’s pagan and such, is ridiculous. This is one way where we can profane His name. How? Because when people take what you claim to task and research it, and then find out that you’re wrong, then now the entire Torah claim becomes suspect, and Christians rightly doubt it, because instead of presenting a well researched, factual presentation on what Torah is and why it’s important to follow it, you present some sensational claim that is easily debunked. When you present some sensational claim, and they research it and find that your claim doesn’t hold up, then they immediately associate Torah with that, since that’s the goal. So now Torah is discredited because of lack of research and presenting sensational, false, claims. I actually experienced this first hand. See, I was all new to Torah, and had watched 119 Ministries teaching “Sunburned” (which has now been taken down), I presented this information to my family. My brother took it to task and researched it and very easily debunked it. To this day, I still can’t use 119 Ministries stuff because they did a bad presentation, and I, instead of taking the time to vet it out myself, I just eagerly passed on the information. While I can excusify myself and say that I was over whelmed, which I was, or how that I couldn’t devote the necessary time to research it because of my neck and back, which was also true, it doesn’t excuse the fact that I regurgitated the info instead of verifying it. Ultimately, the buck stops with me. I presented it to my family. I was responsible for knowing the material, and I didn’t. I still see this going on, every holiday season, with my online friends. Inevitably someone shares some memes about how something is pagan, and they haven’t done the research. When we spread around sensational claims, such as what’s pagan, then we commit lashon hara, that is “evil tongue” by essentially gossiping. So we break Torah in order to bring people to Torah. That right there is the definition of hypocrisy, and profanes His name because we dishonor God and His reputation, by doing this. Essentially, we make His Torah low, of no repute, when we do this.

Because of the way it’s presented, that is that the church “lied” to us, then that creates dissension and conspiracy theories. We don’t need to put others down, in order for us, or Torah, to look good. It reminds me of when I used to be a Kirby salesman. It didn’t last long because I’m not a salesman, but one thing they said was that the vacuum should sell itself. We shouldn’t need to make claims as being “lied to”, in order to present our material. When we do, we take on the adversaries role, being the accuser. It’s also an act of pride. It becomes a matter of I’m better than so and so. Or ‘God revealed this to me’, in which case we’re making ourselves special, because otherwise God would have revealed that to everyone else too. As to the church lying to us…I don’t think the misinformation was intentional. Regardless, it’s not my place to judge. That’s God’s job. As a result of this, where we were “lied to”, it causes conspiracy theories such as the calendar, flat earth, and many other pointless arguments or debates. The Apostle Paul tells us to avoid controversies and foolish debates (Titus 3:9; 2 Tim 2:16, 22-23).

If we want people to come to Torah the right way, then we need to take the time and do like our master, Yeshua, and make disciples. We don’t need sensationalism. We don’t need to violate Torah in order to lead people to Torah. We can lead people to Torah, as an expression of greater obedience and love and a deeper commitment to the covenant that we’ve been grafted into. All this other stuff, the problems we see in the Hebrew Roots Movement, we are seeing the fruit of it. There were some bad seeds sown. Now we are seeing the results of those bad seeds. But it’s not to late to change, and do it right. Let’s honor God by doing Torah right and making it about loving Him, instead of how great or special we are. Cause ya know something? We aren’t special. We are dust, and we’ll return to dust. Kinda silly for dust to think it’s better than other dust. Yet that’s what we do.

Emotions-Stress-Anxiety

Emotions, it’s not something I am good at communicating. Sure, I have them. I can even relate to other people with emotions. My problem is in how I respond or interpret emotions. As a kid I learned emotions were bad, so I learned it wasn’t safe to have them. Therefore I stuffed them. This general confusion and stuffing may have been a contributing factor in my Impulsivity Disorder with Explosive features, now called; Intermittent Explosivity Disorder. It’s quite likely the my blowups were likely my pressure release. Like a pressure cooker. In my late teens and early twenties, my blowups came to ahead, so that I was no longer safe to live with. I became a ward of the state. My blowups continued, as normal, until one day I realized I didn’t have to act this way. I didn’t have to let other peoples opinions and such, have such influence over me. From that day on, I was changed. I no longer had these blowups.

While I did have an epiphany that changed my life, it didn’t quite change the core. The core being emotions. I still didn’t know how to express them properly. Instead, what I learned was that my emotions were so scary, that I could not let them out. So while as a kid I did stuff them to some extent, it was only the precursor to what my adult self would do. Even as a kid I rarely smiled, laughed, or showed emotions. There are very few pictures of me with a smile. When I listen to comedy, I rarely laugh. I might smirk if I think it’s funny. Instead, I learned to stuff my emotions even more. My emotions weren’t safe, so I can’t have them. They get me into trouble.

When I was at work a few years ago, I started sweating blood. When my supervisor took me to the doctor, I didn’t understand why the doc kept talking about the “Widow Maker”. I was thinking, what’s this got to do with me sweating blood? It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I made the connection. That I was under so much stress that my blood pressure was through the roof, to the point where I was sweating blood. While my marriage eventually failed, I still didn’t express my feelings. Even as I write this article, I still don’t have an idea of how to express my emotions. I’ve just come to realize that I need to express my emotions. I’ve come to realize that it’s my suppressing of my emotions that is causing my high blood pressure, and causes me to shake violently. I can literally feel my blood pressure and pulse go up. I’ve come to recognize that this shaking has to do with trying to suppress, contain, my emotions, and my body is literally telling me that it can’t do it anymore. Now, I have to learn how to express these emotions, things I’ve been stuffing all my life, things I’ve always learned were bad. This, in and of itself, is stressing me out. I have no idea how to express my feelings, and my past shows that it’s dangerous to express my feelings. Yet I have to learn to express these very feelings, as my body can’t take it anymore.

Crying for Messiah

In the last year or so, I have really noticed a strong division between the right and the left. The left being Liberal/Democrats, and the right being Republican/Conservative. I have often thoght to myself that this is the most volatile, hostile, and hateful I have ever witnessed America be. It makes me think, and wonder if prior to the Civil War it was like this. Or more recently, with the Civil Rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It seems like things are heating up, coming to a boil, type of thing. As I said, this is something I’ve been observing for over a year now, so I’ve had time to think about this.

Most of you know, to some extent, that I study the Bible from the perspective of the Ancient Near East. I enjoy studying the linguistics and the archaeology and anthropology of the Ancient Near East. So how does this relate? Great question! The Bible of full of Messianic text. According to the Bible, the Messiah would be a ruler who would reign in righteousness and justice. Moses is a great example of a messiah, as he lead the people of Israel, in obedience to God, in righteousness and justice. King David is another messianic archetype, as he, for the most part, ruled in righteousness and justice. But just like in Biblical times, where people started to determine, for themselves, what that looked like instead of following God’s instructions, so we today are doing the same thing.

We have one group who thinks righteousness and justice is one thing, and another group who thinks it’s another. As a result this is creating conflict, and a build up of socio and political wars. So far, it hasn’t been to bad…yet. But what neither side sees, for the most part, is that their definition, their perspective, of righteousness and justice, just like in Biblical times, is their own definition and not that of the Bible. This is why one group of people think a certain person would be a good leader, while others are outraged by the same person being a leader. It all has to do with how each side defines righteousness and justice, and how this leader measures up to that definition. Both sides point to the other about the others hypocrisy, and both sides are right. They are being hypocritical.

There’s a few things we need to remember and take away from this. 1) We need to remember that there is no person who is perfect and a result we will always have to compromise. 2) We need to remember that societies perception of righteousness and justice is dynamic and changes based on perception. For example, the homosexual life style, back in the 90’s, was considered by psychology as a “deviant life style”, where as today it’s not only accepted as the norm, but being promoted on TV, movies, and even in some schools. In the 80’s, a homosexual person, if discovered, face severe persecution. I can remember a case where some people beat a homosexual up. Some used baseball bats in this beat down. Was that justice? Most today would agree that that was an egregious wrong. I can remember another case where a boy contracted HIV due to a blood transfusion. As a result, lots of people thought he was gay, when he wasn’t. 3) As long as we remain rigid and unbending, then we will continue in this conflict, and will likely escalate. We need to remember that part of righteousness and justice, as the Bible prophesies about the Messiah, is love and mercy. You cannot dispense justice, or right ruling, without love and mercy. As long as you are hard and unbending, then you can’t dispense true righteousness and justice. There are some standards that are unbending. For example, murder is wrong, stealing is wrong, these are universally accepted as wrong. Until Messiah comes back, we interpret scripture based on our knowledge and our world view. So if we think that God is loving and merciful (which He is, but there is more than that to Him), then we will make interpretations and decisions based on that understanding. If we think God is a legalist and just waiting, up there, with a baseball bat for us to make a mistake so he can clobber us, then we will make interpretations and decisions based on that view. If we think there is no God, then again, we make decisions based on that view. In every case, it is our understanding, our perception of scripture, that is the problem. None of us have a perfect understanding.

So as I’ve been observing this, and meditating on this for over a year, the protests, the various articles and social media reactions, I’ve realized that while people are crying out for a leader who is righteous and just (that is one thing we can all agree on), it’s our varying perception of what that means is the conflict, and what people are really crying out for is for the Messiah…Even if they don’t realize it yet. He’s the only one that can administer true righteousness and justice. He will teach us the scriptures. Women’s lib likes to stand up for women’s rights and freedoms. That’s a good thing…in a way. It comes from the way women were treated in the past. Women were viewed as property, and therefore not having rights. Consequently this lead to a lot of abuse. They had every right to fight for their freedoms. It didn’t help that a lot of the people who were abusers called themselves “Christians”. As a result, women’s libbers today view Christians as abusers and oppressors. As times have changed, over the years, women’s lib has grown beyond just that, and they now include standing up for Muslims. Which upon examination, doesn’t make sense since the Muslim religion says that women don’t have rights, that women are property, and abuse is seen as discipline. This should speak to just how badly they feel they’ve been wronged by “Christians”, that they feel they need to run into another oppressive system, instead turning to Christians, who, by and large, have also changed their views on women and the treatment of women. That’s a lot of hurt, and unfortunately, a lot of it is justified. None of us are flawless. All of us have made mistakes. God is the only one who is absolute, and defines absolutes. We just do our best to interpret what we perceive. So let’s stop the fighting, at least fighting one another. Let’s all do what we need to, and that’s fall on our knees and cry out for Messiah to return, but not before his time. He isn’t willing that any should perish, but that all would turn around and change their minds and come to him. Let’s be eagerly patient.

Pride and Arrogance

I thought I got rid of my pride twenty some-odd years ago. Let me back up a bit. As a teenager, and even into my twenties, I struggled with my temper. In my mind, I killed people. I longed to kill people. Because I never followed through, I thought I was good. One day, James 2:10 hit me like a Mack truck; If we break one law, we’re guilty of breaking them all. When one connects this with what Jesus said; if you call your brother ‘fool’ you’re in danger of hell fire, then I was just as guilty as a murderer. I instantly saw that I wasn’t better than anyone else. In fact, in many way, I was worse. When I saw this, it required a choice on my part. I could continue in my anger, and maybe some day succumb to it, or I could change. Obviously, I chose to change. This was a massive change on my end. Previously I had believed that the anger was a part of who I was, and that I couldn’t change. I had believed that my anger was a part of who I was, and that it was impossible for me to change. Seeing this change come to pass, and it was virtually instantaneous, would be like watching a modern day miracle. Like watching someone grow an arm or leg or something, in a matter of seconds. That is what essentially happened to me. So naturally I thought that was it.

A couple years later I married my wife, who has multiple personality disorder and post traumatic stress disorder. I was reading an article on MSN once, about the second or third year into our marriage, about a guy who divorced his wife, with multiple personality disorder, after twenty years. I was beside myself. I thought it was incredulous at this. I thought; how could he do this after twenty years? I thought he was a wimp, and was giving up. Are you noticing something here?

Here I am, just after celebrating twenty years of marriage, and my wife left for the fourth time. She has this cycle where she’ll get manic, then psychosis hits, then she comes down. The first time it happened, I had people advising me to divorce her. I thought about it for a couple of days and chose not to. I figured that if she wants to divorce, she can file it. After a few days she came back home. I forgave her and welcomed her home. The same is true for the other times, except for the third time when I told her that I can’t keep enduring this. That it’s too hard on me. It was sending my blood pressure through the roof. So she promised me it’d never happen again, and we were fine…until it happened for the last time.

I went and filed for divorce. It took me a few months to file for divorce. My folks were concerned I’d change my mind, like I did the previous time. But I had taken steps to ensure that wouldn’t happen. From the time we separated, July of 2017, until now, I’ve been very introspective. Reflecting on choices and things I’d done over the last twenty years. One thing I noticed, time and again, was my pride and arrogance. I wasn’t intending to be either proud or arrogant, but the fact remained that I was. I had judged the man who divorced his multiple personality wife, as a wimp. I thought I was better. Yet here I was, at the same point, twenty years, doing the same thing.

Once I saw this, I began to see other areas where I was proud and arrogant. For example, I was giving marriage counseling when I hadn’t even been married a year. Or how when someone doesn’t know what I know, I can be very impatient and condescending, and judging. Over the last several months I’ve begun to see more and more areas where I struggle with pride. It’s been very uncomfortable, and painful and humbling. I’ve seen how patient and forgiving God is. I am awed and blown away and humbled by His great mercies and forgiveness. I don’t deserve it. Fortunately, it’s not based on whether one deserves it or not.

Tattoos and the Ancient Near East

Tattoos, within our society they’ve become increasingly popular. You can get a tattoo of just about anything, placed just about anywhere. Back in the WWII era, tattoos weren’t so common. Sure, some soldiers had some tattoos, those soldiers were usually considered the really bad dudes, the tough guys. Moving forward, tattoos were prevalent in biker gangs and prison inmates. Tattoos became a symbol of how tough you were. But tattoos were also used to display the person you loved. It was supposed to symbolize the permanency of that relationship. As time wore on tattoos became ever increasingly popular, till today where you can get a tattoo about anything, for any reason. I’ve heard of some who have used tattoos to let emergency personnel know about their disabilities[1, 2, 3].

One thing that has remained constant is peoples belief that the Bible, that God banned tattoos. Lev 19:28 sure seems to support that notion, but are we reading it right? Or is there something more? Are we projecting our culture, our understanding on to the verse, and maybe misunderstanding it? Is there something more? One thing is for sure, it’s a very predominant belief.

I watched a PBS show called “Iceman Reborn[4]. It’s about a person that was buried in the mountains for the last five thousand years. Because he’s so old he has to be kept in a special way or he’ll disintegrate. In order to study him better, they needed to make a replica of him. One of the things they noticed about this guy is that he has sixty-one tattoos, but these tattoos aren’t like the ones we’re used to seeing. What they find out is that the tattoos were a way to administer medication. The Smithsonian also has an article on the iceman’s tattoo’s[5]. This got me wondering about Lev 19:28, about the apparent ban of tattoos, according to scripture.

One thing I have been learning over the past couple of years, since I came to Torah, is ‘context, context, context’. So this made me look at the verses surrounding Lev 19:28 and I found that the context starts at verse 26, where it connects life and death with divination and soothsaying. There is much more going on here than just banning writing on flesh with in. Lev 19:28 cross references to Lev 21:5; Deut 14:1; 1 Kings 18:28; Jer 16:6. The reference to 1 Kings reminded me of a video I saw a while ago. In this video was a group of Muslim men with machetes and they were frantically cutting themselves in some sort of ritualistic frenzy. Also keep in mind, that the 1 Kings scripture is the face-off with Elijah and the four hundred prophets of Ba’al. If you’re not familiar with it, I encourage you to read it.

This got me curious about the cultural history, the anthropology, that is behind this, so I looked up ‘tattoos ancient near east’ and ‘Canaanite funeral rituals’ and a couple other variations of the search strings[6, 7]. The first things I noticed in my search ‘tattoos ancient near east’ was ‘Slavery in the Ancient Near East’ and ‘Slave and Master in Ancient Near Eastern Law’ page 1667 of the document which says “…slave-marks: in Old Babylonian the abbuttum, which was a mark or tattoo applied to a slave’s shaven head…”[8, 9]. Naturally this lead me to check out ‘abbuttum’, which then lead me to check out ‘Laws of Eshnunna[10]. ‘Abbuttum’ can be defined either as a hairdo peculiar to slaves, or a tattoo or mark on the body of a slave[11 page 163]. I feel like I have reasonably established that it was a custom to tattoo, or mark slaves in the Ancient Near East.

When it came to trying to understand the verses prior (starting at verse twenty-six) and going to verse twenty-nine, and the corresponding references to death, and especially in verse twenty-nine where it talks about prostitution, I was confused. At first I thought the references to death were about mourning, but as I pondered this, and researched it, it became clear it wasn’t about mourning. What could it be then? Are they just disjointed verses? As I continued my research, and even tried different queries, it eventually became clear to me. In a nineteen page article ‘The Biblical Prohibition Against Tattoos’ written in 2013, by John Huehnergard and Harold Liebowitz[11], after the Introduction, their first point is ‘Mourning Practices in the Ancient Near East’ in which they discuss the mourning practices listed in the bible, mourning rituals like sackcloth and ashes, bowed heads to the ground, rending garments, screaming and wailing, were among common mourning practices. The article goes on to discuss about cutting, slashing, and ‘gashing’ as a mourning practice, and cites a Ugaritic source called ‘Lament of Baal’[12, 13, 14], with in the ‘Ugaritic Baal Myth’, also known as ‘Ugaritic Baal Cycle’. So while it discussed mourning rituals, and cutting, it really didn’t address the passage of scripture we are concerned with. I read a commentary by Albert Barnes, pertaining to verse twenty-seven, about beards and hair cutting that said: “Round the corners of your heads – This may allude to such a custom as that of the Arabs described by Herodotus. They used to show honor to their deity Orotal by cutting the hair away from the temples in a circular form. Compare the margin reference.” I spent a lot of time trying to find this deity, Orotal, mentioned in this commentary. Other than this commentary, and another, that I forget off hand, there wasn’t any other reference or mention of this. I asked around too, but no one else heard of, or knew about this ‘Orotal’ deity. If I had been a dog, I’d have been chasing my tail. At least, that’s what it felt like trying to find out about this ‘Orotal’ deity and mourning rituals and tattoos.

I also checked with rabbinical commentary and literature, thank you Sefaria, for more information on tattoos, and the corresponding passages. What was interesting was that they added an element of idolatry to the subject. Mishnah Makkot 3:6 says that if you write without perforating, or perforate without writing, that he is not liable for lashes. Makkot 21a says that if you write HaShem’s name, you are not liable. There are seven references to tattoos, at Sefaria, one even relating to gentiles and cheese. It’s interesting to say the least, but really didn’t help the matter.

After mulling this over for a few days, and discussing the matter with some friends who assisted me in my research, it just dawned on me that it wasn’t about mourning after all. No! Verses twenty-six through twenty-nine all fit together. Once I began to think about the verses as relating to each other, and all that I had learned, above, that it all started to click. While it wasn’t about mourning rituals, it did involve temples and death and prostitution, and all that the verses discuss from verse twenty-six to verse twenty-nine. In fact, verse twenty-six is the key to the whole thing. In fact, one of the cross references is 1 Kings 18:28, which is where Elijah is confronting the prophets of Baal, and in verse twenty-eight, they are cutting themselves, gashing themselves, just as God instructed not to do in Lev 19:26-29. We also have the witch of Endor in 1 Sam 28:3-25. She was committing necromancy, or communicating with the dead, also called divination, which Lev 19:26 tells us not to do. I hope, at this point, it’s beginning to dawn on you what they all have in common, how they all tie into each other. Now, let’s revisit verse twenty-eight. It says that we are not to make cuts on ourselves for the dead or a tattoo. Notice how it references the dead, just as in verse twenty-six. Verse twenty-six is about death and divination, interpreting omens, soothsaying. The Hebrew word for soothsaying is H6049 anan and can mean bring, practice soothsaying, and so on. The Hebrew word nachash H5172 can mean divination, to learn secret things, observe signs and omens. Very similar to anan. So the tattoos, in context, has to do with necromancy, temple cult of the dead worship, divination, sorcery, and so on. Even the prostitution mentioned in verse twenty-nine, is all part of that. Matthew Vander Els, from Founded in Truth ministries has an excellent series on the Afterlife, that goes into the cult of the dead, and other things. I highly recommend it.

So does that mean that tattoos would have been accepted, or maybe if I put it in a better vernacular, it might be easier, would body art have been accepted in the Ancient Near East? No, I don’t think so. First, they might think you’re a slave, aside from that it would carry with it a lot of negative connentations that one would not want. Now, there is the tattoos, that were done for the application of medicine, but those were in specific places, for specific purposes. I don’t see much of an issue in that case. The tattoos, body art, that we do today, is very different from what Lev 19:28 is saying. I don’t think anyone is going to the local tattoo parlor to divine, or communicate with the dead, and commit prostitution. In today’s culture, tattoos are an art form, where the body is the canvas. Now, understand, I am not condoning it. I’m not saying, let’s all rush out and get tattoos. All I’m saying is that in context, that ‘tattoos’ mentioned in Lev 19:26-29 does not fit what we call tattoos today. Beyond that, I’d say it’s between you and God.

Sources:

1 CORRELATES OF TATTOOS AND REFERENCE GROUPS’ http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.569.8781&rep=rep1&type=pdf

2 Tattoos and body piercings in the United States: A national data set http://bxscience.enschool.org/ourpages/auto/2010/5/13/44313724/TATTOOS.pdf

3 An Ironic Fad: The Commodification and Consumption of Tattoos https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mary_Kosut/publication/227982899_An_Ironic_Fad_The_Commodification_and_Consumption_of_Tattoos/links/0912f50bbe8cd68609000000.pdf

4 Iceman Reborn PBS Nova http://www.pbs.org/video/2365669542/

5 Smithsonian Can tattoos be medicinal? http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/can-tattoos-be-medicinal-156450609/

6 Google Scholar search tatto ancient near east https://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=tattoo+ancient+near+east&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=1%2C3

7 Google Scholar search Canaanite funeral rituals https://scholar.google.com/scholar?start=0&q=Canaanite+funeral+rituals&hl=en&as_sdt=1,3

8 Slavery in the Ancient Near East http://www.jstor.org/stable/3209170?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

9 Slave and Master in Ancient Near Eastern Law http://scholarship.kentlaw.iit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3004&context=cklawreview

10 Laws of Eshnunna http://www.g2rp.com/pdfs/LawCollectionsFromMesopotemiaAndAsiaMinor.pdf

11 The Biblical Prohibition Against Tattooing* I. Mourning Practices in the Ancient Near East page 62-69 http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/30502908/Huehnergard-Liebowitz.2013.Prohibition_against_Tattooing.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1494440723&Signature=5QjdFsHoLWqTw0s1HyzqaO4CxwQ%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3D2013_The_Biblical_Prohibition_against_Ta.pdf

12 The Baal Cycle of Myths KTU 1.1-1.6 https://www.logos.com/products/7822/seeinside?iframe=True&height=600&width=600

13 KTU 1.6 Column I Lines 32 – 55 https://www.academia.edu/10195401/KTU_1.6_Column_I_Lines_32_-_55

14 BAAL AND YAHWEH IN THE OLD TESTAMENT: A FRESH EXAMINATION OF THE BIBLICAL AND EXTRA-BIBLICAL DATA http://www.nlc-bnc.ca/obj/s4/f2/dsk1/tape10/PQDD_0020/NQ46670.pdf

15 Sefaria search tattoo https://www.sefaria.org/search?q=tattoo

16 DIVERSIONS OF PLEASURE: SINGING SLAVE GIRLS AND THE POLITICS OF MUSIC IN THE EARLY ISLAMIC COURTS (661-1000CE): THEIR INFLUENCE, HISTORY AND CULTURAL ROLES AS SEEN THROUGH THE KITĀB ALMUWASHSHA (BOOK OF BROCADE) OF IBN AL-WASHSHA, THE RISALA ALQIYĀN (EPISTLE ON THE SINGING GIRLS) OF AL-JAHIZ, AND THE DHAMM ALMALĀHĪ (CENSURE OF INSTRUMENTS OF DIVERSION) OF IBN ABI’L DUNYA: https://library.umaine.edu/theses/pdf/restricted/NielsonLE2010.pdf

Seeing What We Want To See

Sorry it’s been a while, since my last entry. I recently had my life turned upside down, and it’s taken a while for me to adjust. I’m still adjusting, getting used to it. Initially I was going to title this “Repentance”, but I’ve already written at least one article on repentance. Repentance is such a big topic, that I’ll have to do a series on it, to begin to come close to doing justice to the topic. I’ve spent months meditating on this subject, going back to before my life was turned upside down. While I was intending on focusing on a particular group of people, I realized it applied to everyone in general, and to me personally.

I got the idea to write about this back around May of 2017. I was thinking about sin and it’s definition, and subsequently repentance and what it means. 1 John 2:2-6; 1 John 3:4-10; 1 John 5:2-3; 2 John 1:6; Rom 13:9; Gal 5:14; 1 John 2:24; Rom 7:7-13. I could go on listing scriptures, chaining throughout the entire Bible, but hopefully these few have made their point. Sin is breaking the law, Torah. Christians often say that we are freed from the law, that they are under grace. So first off, let’s put this concept to the test. If the law, Torah, is done away with, then we no longer have a definition for sin and there is no judgement. Think of it like a speeding citation. An officer of the law pulls you over for speeding. You have broken the law, and he has every right to cite you for this violation of the law. If he instead decides to extend you grace, and give you a warning, does that then mean that you are no longer under the law, but grace? Do you see how ridiculous that logic is? Christianity does teach that repentance means to turn from, to do a one eighty. Some might even go so far as to turn from sin and to follow God. The problem is when you remove the law, Torah, from the concept, then “following God” becomes open to interpretation, and subject to what one thinks that means.

On the Torah observant side of things, it’s often said that repentance is t’shuvah. T’shuvah comes from the root shoob, meaning to turn, and can be translated as repentance, but even this is incomplete. The Yale Anchor Bible Dictionary says the following; “Repentance 1. OT Background. In the LXX both metanoia/metanoeō and metamelomai translate the Heb nāḥam a total of 35 times, again emphasizing the elements of a change of thinking and regret. It has been commonly held that the NT concept of ―repentance‖ follows the meaning of the frequent Heb verb šûb (TDNT 8:989; NIDNTT 1: 357). However, such a view cannot be sustained from LXX usage because šûb, which is used over 1,050 times, is always translated by epistrophō (―to turn, be converted‖) and its kindred terminology (TDNT 8:726–29; NIDNTT 1: 354). Thus, any possible shift in meaning took place during the Intertestamental Period, perhaps under Hellenistic influence (TDNT 4:989), though such a conclusion lacks fully persuasive proof (Wilkin 1985).” You can really get a feel for epistropho by looking in the LXX, Septuagint. Metamelomai has three equivalent Hebrew words; asham, naham and nacham. These three Hebrew words give a better concept of the Greek metamelomia, which is often translated as repentance. It’s to, not just be guilty, but to also be “sorry”, to feel regret and remorse, that leads to a turning away, a conversion. In this case, a conversion to enter into covenant with God, which would mean following His rules, law, Torah. 

So while Christianity gets it simply as to turn away from sin, they may even include being remorseful and regret with the turning away, because they have removed Torah as the definition for sin, then the Christian concept of repentance is incomplete. It’s only when we get that it was the violation of His Torah that caused Jesus, Yeshua, to come and die for us, so that we could be restored. Why would restoration be so important? Because we were always meant to live by the Torah. The Torah was just supposed to be the minimum requirements. Jesus, Yeshua, called us to live better, to restore us to before the fall, when we were walking in covenant with God.

One thing that God has been showing me, in recent months, is how prideful and arrogant I am. It has been a very humbling and painful time. While I could justify it, to do so would be to negate the work that God is doing. The time to go into details is not now. For now, just be content with what I’m sharing.

There are eight hundred and seventy eight texts, in Sefaria, that include not just the TaNaKh, but also rabbinical texts and commentaries. There is just so much to this subject. I can only hope that I have wet your appetite for more on this subject. We do need to be guilty, remorseful, sorrowful, and to be converted, so that we come into covenant with God and His Torah. Most of you reading this would already consider yourself to be in covenant with God, to which I say “great”. When we look at it biblically, it’s just like a marriage. So if we aren’t abiding by His rules, Torah, then we are not being faithful. In fact, God considers adultery and idolatry to be the same thing. So clearly, abiding in Him, following His Torah, is a big deal to Him and the minimum requirements for what He considers being faithful to Him.

I called this entry, “Seeing what we want to see” because in the toldot Torah portion, Rabbi Chiam Richmond of the Temple Institute was speaking about Esau and Jacob and Isaac. He showed how that in Gen 27 when it describes Esau as a hunter, it’s really a bad translation, and perhaps it’s better translated as “trapper“. We really get a concept of what it’s talking about when we think about verbally trapping someone. It’s this sense that this portion is talking about. Esau knew what to say and how to present himself, so that he appeared as a good boy. Isaac, as the text says, loved Esau. Isaac, saw what he wanted to see. He saw Esau as a good boy, even though Esau only cared for himself and not his birthright or blessing…Until Jacob got it. Then he cared. He married the local Canaanite women, which is another example of how he didn’t care for what his father and family thought, or the legacy. Yet Isaac, it says, loved Esau. We too, are like this. We see what we want to see. One of the biggest problems with biblical interpretation, today, is that we read our culture, our world view, into the text. Instead of looking at it as, it wasn’t written to us, but for us. Moses, when he was writing this, was addressing the six hundred thousand that came with him out of Egypt. He wasn’t addressing us, but it is certainly for us. As a result, we wont understand what the text is saying until we understand what was being said to those who came out of Egypt. We need to take off our glasses, where we see what we want to see, and see the truth. Once we see the truth, then we can repent.

The Feel-Good Society

Here is something that I’ve noticed for a long time, but because of certain events in my life it has really come to the forefront of my attention. I had some other articles I was going to write, but due to these events I’ve put them on the back burner for a bit. So what am I rambling on about? Let me start off with some questions. Have you noticed how it’s not okay to be sad, to feel “depressed”? Have you noticed that it’s not okay to be angry? Have you noticed that very frequently when people bring these feelings to attention, they often get medicated?

See, this is America. The land of opportunity. America has even been called the “Promised Land”. We pride ourselves at being the best, having the best, making the best. The thing is, with this image, this perception, it doesn’t make provisions for anything other than that of the “American Dream”. But, if anything, what has been repeatedly observed is that often time those who are “successful” are also miserable. We weren’t made to live under that kind of pressure all the time. Yes, there are times when the feelings aren’t appropriate, or when intervention needs to be made. But I have to wonder if we didn’t have this image, if we weren’t so pressured, if our emotions would be healthier.

We have people acting out because our society has made it clear that if you’re not like everyone else, then you need help. As a result we have high suicide rates, as well as high murder, domestic violence, and other violent crime rates. These people are crying out for attention, and our society says “You can’t feel that way” or “You can’t think that way”. It’s taboo. Also as a result, we have a diagnosis for virtually everything. The people who think they’re normal, just haven’t been diagnosed yet. Their issues haven’t gotten so bad that it demands attention. Don’t believe me? Check out the DSM V.

When something is made taboo, then it doesn’t get addressed, which means it has to be stuffed or ignored. Either way, when you do that it often has disastrous consequences. But also, this occurs when we try and make everyone into a cookie cutter mold. What is needed is a society that is free and open. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not talking about accepting what is sin. What I am talking about is, if we stop trying to fit everyone into the same mold, then the stress would go down. That alone would resolve a lot of issues. But also if our society was such where we could talk about how we feel with out fear or shame, then things would be resolved a lot sooner and a lot better.

If a person loses a loved one, it’s natural to feel sad, but sometimes certain people may feel it more intensely than others, it may last longer than others. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with them. What it does mean is that family and friends need to allow the person to grieve and to be comforted. That doesn’t mean that someone has to swoop in and fix it either. A lot of the time it just means that the person needs to be heard. Just sitting there, being there, can make all the difference in the world.

Our society lives in fear of these emotions because; “What if they harm themselves?” or “What if they harm others?” Our society lives in fear of the “what if’s” because all too often it happens. Kids bring guns to school and go on a shooting spree. Why? Perhaps the kid is being bullied, or perhaps the kid is being abused. Because our society says that everything has to be perfect all the time, the kid stuffs it till it explodes. The same is true for adults who commit similar acts of violence. Or someone tries to kill themselves. Why? Because they felt trapped. They felt like there was no way out, except for suicide. All they can see is the pain.

When these issues, feelings, are ignored and stuffed, it only amplifies the problem. It’s like a person who gets cut. If addressed right away, then most of the time it’s no big deal. When it’s not addressed right away, it becomes infected. Perhaps with a staff infection. If it continues to be neglected it can become gangrenous. If still neglected it can result in death. These issues, emotions, are going to come out. One way or another. Sooner or later. People don’t deal with their issues, feelings, because they don’t feel safe in exposing themselves. As a result it goes on unaddressed. Much like the example I gave above, with the cut. Eventually, the issue comes to the surface. When and how severe, depends on how safe the person feels with you.

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.

Heresy

In our day and age, the pop culture generally defines heresy as an errant teaching. Dictionary.com defines heresy as:
noun, plural heresies.

1. opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system.

2. the maintaining of such an opinion or doctrine.

3. Roman Catholic Church. the willful and persistent rejection of any article of faith by a baptized member of the church.
4. any belief or theory that is strongly at variance with established beliefs, customs, etc.
Etymology Online defines heresy as:

heresy (n.) Look up heresy at Dictionary.com
“doctrine or opinion at variance with established standards” (or, as Johnson defines it, “an opinion of private men different from that of the catholick and orthodox church”), c. 1200, from Old French heresie, eresie “heresy,” and by extension “sodomy, immorality” (12c.), from Latin hæresis, “school of thought, philosophical sect.” The Latin word is from Greek hairesis “a taking or choosing for oneself, a choice, a means of taking; a deliberate plan, purpose; philosophical sect, school,” from haireisthai “take, seize,” middle voice of hairein “to choose,” a word of unknown origin, perhaps from PIE *ser- (5) “to seize” (source of Hittite šaru “booty,” Welsh herw “booty”).

The Greek word was used by Church writers in reference to various sects, schools, etc. in the New Testament: the Sadducees, the Pharisees, and even the Christians, as sects of Judaism. Hence the meaning “unorthodox religious sect or doctrine” in the Latin word as used by Christian writers in Late Latin. But in English bibles it usually is translated sect. Transferred (non-religious) use in English is from late 14c.

The thing is, and this is especially true in the Hebrew Roots Movement, that since there is no order that heresy becomes open to interpretation. We see a lot of this. It basically comes down to: “If you don’t agree with me then you’re a heretic”. Don’t get me wrong, there are real heresies out there, but most of the time it’s opinion and interpretation. Let me give you an example. Trinity is a good example. You have those who think it has pagan origins. You also have the thought as defined by most of Judaism, in which they, because of the Shema and other scriptures, think that God is literally one. You have mainstream Christianity who thinks that trinity is valid and proved in Torah. So who’s right? It’s not my aim to attempt to prove who is right, but rather to show that each have valid points and that it is all a matter of interpretation. The Jews think God is one because of echad, which is Hebrew for one. But then we see in Gen 2:24 we see scripture talking about how two people become one, echad, flesh. Does this mean they are literally one flesh? No! Again, my point is not to prove trinity one way or the other.

In the Hebrew Roots we have people who argue about the calendar, when sabbath is, the shape of the earth, on and on goes the arguing. It’s no limited to Hebrew Roots though. In Christianity there are over 40,000 denominations. We have some who think the spiritual gifts were for the first century only. We have some who think you must be baptized with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. I ought to know. I was denied membership some ten or more years ago when I was trying out an Assembly of God church. Because I questioned and pointed out that the Holy Spirit gives gifts as He sees fit, and that if someone should speak in tongues, say at a church service, that it should be followed by an interpretation, so they denied me membership. I shrugged it off and moved on.
See, what we have are people, in some cases, where they believe in their opinion so much that if you disagree with them, then it’s heresy. I’ve seen this happen on individual and church levels. Usually it’s more about pride than it is about heresy. Some tout how they are not under any man, or under mans teaching. That they are taught by the Ruach. While I don’t doubt that it’s by a ruach, I do doubt it’s by the Ruach.
Heresy appears about three times in the bible, and they are all in Acts. The Greek word is hairesis, and can mean sect, factions, party and so on (see Acts 5:17, Acts 24:5 and Acts 24:14). When we examine it in the Peshitta we see that it can also mean doctrine or teaching. The Aramaic word is dywlpn) – ܕܝܘܠܦܢܐand is defined as:

ywlpn, ywlpnˀ (yullǝp̄ān, yullǝp̄ānā) n.m. learning

1 learning Syr, LJLA. –(a) ܠܐ ܝܘܠܦܢܐ‏ illiteracy‏ Syr.

2 doctrine CPA, Syr. –(a) sect Syr.

One thing is for sure, in regards to heresy, it always causes division. In history, in particular the dark ages, but the Salem witch trials also comes to mind, we see how people were often accused and killed because of “heresy”. While we aren’t burning people at the stake, our verbal attacks can be just as bad, and could be lashon hara. Are we really so sure that what we think about something is dead on accurate? Are we so ready to pronounce judgment?

If you think someone is saying or doing something heretical, first try and see it from their view point. Maybe it’s a misunderstanding. Maybe they’re just seeing it differently. Your next step should be to go to your brother or sister in Yeshua humbly and talk to them about it. Don’t accuse them. That just causes strife and division. I’m not saying that you’ll walk away agreeing with the person, but perhaps you’ll leave with a better understanding than before. If you are going to call them out as heretics, you’d better be sure you are right. For example, the deity of Yeshua. There are some who denounce the deity of Yeshua. Or another might be saying that Allah and YHVH are the same. If you have to explain a verse or passage of scripture then it becomes an interpretation. We want to always use scripture to define scripture. We want to always have scripture explain and expound on itself. Sometimes, explanations are warranted, but when we do it should match scripture and not add to or take away from.
In short, we need to stop calling heresy just because someone has a different view, a different understanding, a different interpretation, than we do. We should be very slow to call heresy, and when we do it should always be in love and with the intent of correction and to bring them back in the fold, instead of crucifying them because they think differently than we do.
In Yeshua’s service
Jonathan Rocker

How to Research and Hold Teachers Accountable

With in the Torah movement we often talk about holding teachers accountable and testing all things, but what is that really? Is it just doing a Google search and finding articles that you agree with and like? If that’s the case, then things are really messed up! It would certainly explain why Christianity has about fifty thousand denominations and why some things are popular with in the Torah movement. Things like: The sacred name, or The shape of the earth, or the validity of the apostle Paul, or When is sabbath observed? On and on goes the list. Some go so far as to make it a salvationary issue. What we have is a whole bunch of popular opinions on various subjects with little to no understanding and certainly no holding teachers accountable and while attempts are made to test various teachings, we have a failure in that area because it’s not taught and very few people understand just what it means to test a teaching.

Many don’t understand how that their Google searches can bias their results. For example if you do a Google search on pagan origins of Christianity, then the results you get are articles that are written that “shows” the pagan origins of Christianity. Does this mean that Christianity has pagan origins? The answer is, it’s not that easy.

Maybe you’ve heard about “primary sources”. Even if you had, most don’t understand just what that means, let alone where to get them. Understanding these things will revolutionize your world.

So what exactly is a “primary source”? An easy way to understand what a “primary source” is, is to think of it as first hand report. I had the experience to live this once. It’s a memory that caused me PTSD for a while.

I was on my way to work, as a security guard. On my way to work I stopped at a uniform store and picked up a six cell mag-lite, an engraved name tag and a holster for my flash light. After purchasing these items I resumed my journey to work. Since I take the bus everywhere, I was at the bus stop waiting for the next bus. The sun was setting and was at that perfect angle where it shines directly in your eyes, and your visor is useless. I happened to have my back to the street as I was contemplating going into the gas station there on the corner to get a snack. It was at this point that I heard the screeching of tires. Immediately I spin around to face the street. What I saw launched me into motion with out even thinking. The car had come to a complete stop after it had passed through the intersection. Laying on the street behind the car was a ten year old boy, who had been trying to cross the street. The boy had the right away. As I am running out toward the boy, it dawns on me that I don’t have the medical training to handle this situation. As I was running out to the boy, I noticed a guy on my left a little bit behind me. He was in my peripheral vision. I start yelling out; “Don’t touch the boy! Don’t touch the boy!”. The guy running with me replied back that he was a paramedic.

I was relieved to hear he was a paramedic. So I told him he could take care of the kid and I’ll deal with the car. In the car was a woman who was driving and three small kids. The oldest of which was five years old. The woman was hysterical, so I got the information from the five year old kid in her car. At this point a guy comes up to me and tells me that he’s an off duty cop and he wants to know what he can do to help. Since the car and the boy were in the far left lane, getting them to the sidewalk and off the street was important. I told this off duty cop to take the woman to the sidewalk and treat her for shock.

There had been a cop that was perpendicular to this street. He was getting ready to make a left turn on to this very street when the woman hit the boy. He pulled up behind the boy and was radioing in other units. After a bit there were detectives who were getting my statement. I gave it and once cleared, resumed my journey for work. Truthfully, I was in shock. I didn’t know if the boy was alive or dead. Now, I had to endure a twelve hour shift, guarding a major city bus depot. I really wasn’t in the frame of mind to do it that night. After my shift I stopped by the hospital and visited the boy and got to meet his mother. The boy was unconscious and had tubes and wires connected to him all over the place. His mother told me that not a single bone was broken. To this day I don’t know if he ever woke up or not. I only visited him that one time. Later that week, when I recounted this to my therapist, I was so filled with emotion that I shook to control it and my eyes welled up with tears. To this day, I still get slightly emotional relating this account.

What I just demonstrated was a first hand, or a primary source of the incident. I was there. I witnessed it. I lived it. But how do we do that when it comes to scripture? With scripture we have extra-biblical sources, such as Josephus and Philo and others. We also have archaeology. Anthropology is when you take the archaeology and use it to understand the culture. Boston University gives a nice explanation of anthropology.

Just because you have a source that says one thing, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true or accurate. When you have other sources from the same time and event, then you can compare and see if the match. I have had people who say that the four gospels contradict themselves. That’s not necessarily true. Going back to an accident for an analogy, if we have twelve witnesses then you are likely going to have twelve different accounts. Does this mean that they are all lying, or wrong? No. They are giving you the details from their vantage point.

I can provide you with tools to find primary sources, and I’ll give you a fantastic article that further explains what primary sources are and why it’s so important and why you need/want them.

Google Scholar: is a great portal to finding all kinds of scholarly documents, articles, books and so on. For the most part, it is good in providing primary sources.

JSTOR: is an excellent site for journals, documents and books, again, very good at providing primary sources. You can get a free account with them and read many of the articles online for free.

Brillonline, in particular, primarysources.brillonline.com: is again another site, as the name implies, where you can access primary sources.

Torah Babies shared a YouTube video that explains primary versus secondary sources.

I found an article from Learn NC on primary sources. What’s nice about this article is they don’t just give examples of primary sources, they go into detail and explain why you want them.

Santiago Canyon College has an article that gives several examples of what primary sources are.

Once you have the primary sources, you can then put to test what your teacher claims. That doesn’t mean that you should be rude in confronting your teacher, rather when confronting a teacher one should be meek and humble. With the advent of the internet, we, the people, for the first time in history, can actually test what is being taught and hold our teachers accountable. We have a rather large repository of information, like has never been before. We owe it to ourselves and to our teachers to test and search out and see if what is being taught is accurate.

I’ve had people say that they are scripture solus, scripture alone. The problem with that is that we all tend to read into scripture our perspective, our view point, our understanding. Years ago when reading Revelation about these flying beasts that had tails like a scorpion, I immediately was trying to envision military hardware that might fit that description. With out understanding the author, the time, the culture, you’ll have a very hard time understanding what the author was trying to communicate. When you read of contemporaries from that time period, what they have to say, then you begin to understand the time and culture. Once you understand the time and culture, you can begin to understand just what the author is saying.

I hope this article has helped to empower you to test all things. If you have questions, please ask. I’ll be happy to try to help.

Impulsivity and Self Control

As a kid growing up, I was often bored with school, and my mom says that I couldn’t sit still even for my favorite show at the time: The Six Million Dollar Man. I was often tested to see if I had a learning disability or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). As it turned out, I was diagnosed ADHD when I was eighteen and graduated from high school. I was often impulsive. Especially in the area of my temper, or shopping. I was also known for being blunt, not having tact. In my early twenties, when I became a ward of the state due to my issues, they thought I had bipolar disorder with schizoaffective features. I was too honest in the eval. When they asked me if I heard voices I talked about how I hear God. The problem was, non of the meds they gave me helped at all. It wasn’t until one day when I blew up at a staff, at the group home that I resided, that I had an epiphany. I realized that it didn’t matter what people think and say about me, it only matters what I think about me. It was after this that they changed their diagnosis from bipolar disorder to impulsivity disorder with explosive features. In other words, I was an immature brat with a hot temper. That’s not to say I never struggle with it now, as I do, but my temper isn’t anything like what it used to be.

Maybe, by now, you’re wondering what’s all that have to do with self control. Self control, being one of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Gal 5:23, is obviously something that a person, such as myself, would really struggle with. In the last year or so it’s really come into focus. I find myself often slowing down and pondering things a lot more than I used to. Usually, before buying something, I do research on it and then even after that I ponder whether it’s a need or a want and if it’s a want can it wait. But that’s only one area. I also finding myself slowing down and asking myself if I should enter a debate or not. Often times it’s not. Even with this progress I find myself realizing that self control is one of those things that’s ever on going. While I no longer act out, per se’, I find that now it’s my mouth, my tongue that gets me in trouble. In written or verbal form. I’ll get upset about something and then BAM I launch into a verbal tirade. Fortunately, I also cool down fast. But often, by then, the damage is already done. So while it’s no longer a problem in the physical arena, it’s still a self control issue and I still struggle with it. I realize that I am going to be struggling with this for the rest of my life. But I have also made some progress in this arena. It’s like you’re in a never ending marathon. I know I have made progress, but I still lack self control. If you want to know my testimony and can endure 83 minutes, then here it is; My Story. I find it interesting how this fruit is so much like my walk with Yeshua. Some people have testimonies of how they came to Jesus and their life was changed in an instant. Mine was never like that. It has been very much an evolution, a journey. While I walked down the isle when I was seven at a Jesus 78 gathering, my life didn’t change much. But I do have moments of relation where I seem to have a leap frog growth. Self control is very much a process. Something that is always on going. The difference is, who’s doing it? Is it something that you’re doing through various exercises, meditations? or is it something where you are being directed by the Holy Spirit? When you yield to the Holy Spirit, it’s very different than trying to do it through exercises and meditations.

Starting from the Beginning

I’ve been wanting to write some articles lately, but I haven’t felt that they were ready yet. One is probably half a year, or more old. But this past month it’s really come to my attention, this issue I wish to discuss. See, years ago, back when I was a junior and senior in high school, I would debate JW’s and Mormons. I was beginning to study the Bible. I had a Strong’s Concordance and I’d look up words. Shortly after that I bought myself “The Master Study Bible“. I still have it today. But one thing I’d always do, when debating JW’s and Mormons, is I’d always start by making sure we were talking the same thing. I’d begin with making sure we had the same definition, the same meanings, for the words we’d use. This way, there was no confusion. In the case of the JW’s, I had to develop a technique that was fast, since they always approached me at the bus stop. I had always been warned not to go after the divinity of Jesus with them, yet that’s exactly what I did. I’d start with confirming that only God is worthy of worship. Anything else is blasphemy. I’d point out that even the angels of God would stop people from worshiping them. Then I’d point out Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. How that the pharisees told Jesus to stop them, and how that Jesus replied that if he did that, the very stones would cry out. So I’d pause here and ask them what they called that. They’d answer “Giving him his due respect”. I told them that I’d buy that, for now, and then I went to Revelation where we have the twenty-four elders and the whole host of angels there. Pointing out how that it was Jesus who was sitting at the right hand of God, and how that the twenty-four elders and the whole host o0f heaven would bow down and say “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come, and to the Lamb upon the throne” (Revelation 5:11-14). Again, I’d ask them what they call that, and again they said “Giving him his due respect”. I’d reply; “Really? I think you need to check your definition of worship”. See, the problem is that they were using Webster’s dictionary to define what worship is, instead of the Bible.

So what am I going on about? This past month I have debated other Christians, as well as having seen other friends debating other Christians. In every instance that I witnessed, the Christian always thought that we had “fallen from grace“. In ever instance the Christian thought we were talking about salvation. Yet in every case, that’s not at all what we were talking about. We all acknowledge, understand, agree with and teach that we are saved by grace. That there is no other way, but by grace, when it comes to salvation. But see, the story doesn’t end there. See, there’s no argument that the Torah can’t justify us. In-fact, it’s the Torah that condemns us (Rom 8:3 and Col 2:14).

When I relate salvation to others, I often use the Exodus to illustrate it. How that we were saved from sin, just as Israel was saved from Egypt. How that our life with Messiah is like the journey in the wilderness, and how that “heaven” is like crossing into the promised land. But not all who started the journey got to enter into the promised land. While all were saved from Egypt, sin, not all got to enter the promised land, aka “heaven”. Paul cautions us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. But I’m not trying to debate about whether we are “once saved always saved”, right now.

What I’ve noticed is that Christians get the salvation from Egypt, sin, and get the promised land, heaven, but that there’s a big hole in between. It’s this hole that we who follow Torah are addressing. The Israelite’s were given Torah on Shavuot/Pentecost. While most Christians look at Torah, the law, with disgust and disdain, they miss the beauty of it. The Torah is a ketubah, a marriage contract. That day, Israel was betrothed to God. The ketubah not only stipulates what the wife is supposed to do, but also what is expected of the husband. While God was faithful to Israel, Israel was anything but faithful to God. The Torah today, just as then, tells us how to live life in a way that’s pleasing and honoring to God.

I often hear Christians talking about living for Christ, and trying to walk biblically, and that’s what the Torah does. But to Christians it’s rather esoteric because they don’t use Torah to define it. So if you ask them how to live a godly life, they may tell you to live as Jesus lived, but the moment you bring up Torah or sabbath or the dietary regulations it’s “that’s been done away with”. Yet Jesus never, ever said that. In fact, he said the opposite (Matt 5:17). See, we’re not talking about trying to earn salvation. That would be unscriptural. What we are talking about is sanctification.

When we enter into a debate with someone, it’s always a good idea to make sure that you are talking the same lingo, the same vernacular as they are. Other wise you end up talking in circles and having a very frustrating debate. We need to go back to the beginning, make sure that we’re talking the same as they are, and then start from there. It will take longer, but the reward will be greater. It’s not about “winning souls”, but discipleship. Here’s another bone I have with mainstream Christianity. They teach about “witnessing” and “winning souls”, like used car sales man. I have never liked the way they teach it. If you look at Jesus and the way he did it, he called, or invited, people to come with him. Then he taught them, discipled them. Salvation was a natural fruit of the process. But with mainstream Christianity it’s sales pitch and close the deal.

I can remember hearing pastors do sermons about why so many people backslide after being saved. They thought it’s because people would witness and then drop people off at the door of the church, leaving the church to disciple them. While that is a problem, it’s not the whole problem. See, people are getting “saved” with out knowing the terms, the contract, i.e. Torah. Since living godly, biblically, is defined esoterically instead of biblically, people don’t have much of an idea about how to live. So it becomes open to interpretation, which is extremely dangerous. But when you do disciple someone, and then they agree to be betrothed, then living biblically makes sense. The apostle Paul taught and practiced Torah. All the apostles taught and practiced Torah. I’m not going to get into, right now, proving that Paul taught Torah. You can see my other posts for those discussions. The point I’m making is that we need to make sure we’re speaking the same as the people we’re talking to and that we disciple people before, during and after “salvation”.

 

In Yeshua’s service

Jonathan Rocker

Watchman & Lashon Hara

People like to fancy themselves a watchman. They think it’s cool and noble. Watchmen will often share or blog about news stories and current events. Sounds good right? Well, maybe not. See? There are some problems. Who determines what needs the alarm sounded on? What about accountability? A lot of people claim to be lead by the Spirit/Ruach, but therein lies the problem. Anyone can claim to be lead by the Spirit, just as anyone can claim to be taught by the Spirit. But when a person makes this sort of claim, they are often denouncing accountability with other people. Things have been intense for about a year or more now. I have read various peoples posts prophesying that Hillary Clinton would win and that she’d be the last president. And many of those who prophesied this about Hillary, swore it was a word from the Lord and swore it was true. I’ve also seen a lot of conspiracy theories floating around. Whether it’s con-trails, vaccines, the shape of the earth, and so on, it was always a grand scheme of evil and cover-up. Now there may be some truth and validity to some of these theories, but there’s also a lot of myth to them too. Often with watchmen they sound the alarm, report, on stuff they feel is important. Now there’s not necessarily anything wrong with reporting and sharing information, but whose agenda is being promoted? Is it the watchman’s? or is it God’s? Then there’s the whole matter of the integrity of the information being shared. How do you know that the information is true and accurate? Is it a fair and balanced report? What about gossip? slander? By sharing these things, are we really just gossiping? To answer these questions we have to look at what a watchman is and what he does and his responsibilities. We also will take a look at the Hebrew term Lashon Hara, which means “the evil tongue” and is talked about a few times in Torah. We’ll learn what lashon hara is, as it’s defined in scripture.

Bible History Online sites several biblical references and Hebrew words for watchman. A watchman may be posted on city walls or on hilltops (2 Sam 18:25; 2 Ki 9:18; Ps 127:1; Isa 62:6; Jer 31:6).  If he was posted on a hill, he might have a flimsy shack or sukka. In Song of Solomon 3:3 and 5:7 we see that a watchman may operate as something similar to a policeman.

The Hebrew word tsaphah means to observe or watch, and can even mean spy. Gen 31:49 is the first time tsaphah is used and it says “May the Lord keep watch between me and you, when we are absent”.  In this instance we see how that God is the watchman in the verse, watching and guarding. Shamar means to keep or preserve. Gen 2:15 is the first time we see shamar used, and it’s when God charges Adam and Eve to guard, watch, protect the garden. Natsar is another word in reference of a watchman. It’s definition is very similar to shamar. I would invite you to take a look at each of these words and there definition and their usages and context.

In Ezekiel 33:1-17 we see a parable of a watchman as well as a watchman’s duties. As for Ezekiel, himself, you’d have to start at the beginning of the book of Ezekiel where Ezekiel is called to be, not only a prophet, but a watchman as well. Many have used the first six verses of the thirty-third chapter to justify why they are telling, sharing, reporting, whatever it is they are reporting. I’d like to point out the parable of the boy who cried wolf. See, in verses five and six it talks about how the watchman, if he doesn’t report it, the blood is on his head, but I’d like to point out that reporting on everything, or to many things, because then people stop listening and then tune you out. Then you become a useless watchman. Verses seven, eight and nine reinforce the previous verses, but also remind us how that as a watchman for the body of Messiah, then your job is to speak what God gives you so that they may repent. Repentance is always the goal.

But again, people often like to share news or current events, or whatever, and claim they are being a watchman. As I mentioned above, there is also the integrity of the news article being shared that needs to be considered. With this election everyone’s integrity was called and questioned. CNN and mainstream media was accused of being biased and manipulating the news. Trump’s followers were/are accused of being racist and other accusations. Then there’s Hillary… I think I’ll stop there. If you don’t know, you’ve either been under a rock or dead to the world, but a quick Google search will help you out. In either case we have stories from questionable sources. Then, even if the facts are right, there’s the bias. What passes for “news” these days is little more than gossip.

Enter, “Lashon Hara”. As I said above, lashon hara means evil tongue. There are two excellent resources on lashon hara. One being Torah.org and the other is a 238 page dissertation on lashon hara by Charles Bernsen. As with anything, there is some vocabulary to be aware of.

The Hebrew word rakil is what is often translated as “talebearer”. The “talebearer” translation is always in context of slander, slanderer, slanderous. Rakil is first used in Lev 19:16, and is only used six times. Rakil is the premise, the foundation for not speaking lashon hara. In Lev 19:14 we see our next work mikshol, which means to stumble, and can also mean stumbling-block. When we participate in gossip, then we cause others to stumble. Motzi shem ra, which could be the most vile one, as far as lashon hara is concerned, is an intentional slander. Deut 22:13-19 details a dispute where a husband claims his wife wasn’t a virgin. I’ll admit, when I first read that, I simply could not understand why someone would make such a claim, especially if it’s not true. This is what motzi shem ra is. It’s a deliberate defamation of character and slander.

Basically, to sum it up, if you didn’t witness it first hand, then don’t say it. Even if you did witness it first hand, try and work it out between the involved parties. You can speak lashon hara if it benefits a person, or with constructive purposes.

So now, let’s put it all together. While there are true watchmen around, they don’t perpetuate their agenda. They speak what God has given them and call people to repentance. Those who share news and current events, I wouldn’t call them watchmen. I would also caution sharing news articles. You might be committing lashon hara. It could very easily qualify as gossip. Before you share a news article make sure you have verified the story. Where did it originate from? Is it biased? Or does it tell both sides of the story? If you share it, what is the objective you hope to gain? Remember, watchman are responsible for the call, report, they make. Make sure you’re following God’s agenda and only saying exactly what God told you to say. No more. No less. If you do want to share news stories, that’s fine, it just might be best not to put it under the guise of “watchman”. Just be careful with what you say. Remember, we want to lift up God’s honor and not our own.

 

In Yeshua’s service

Jonathan Rocker

The Will of God

Have you ever noticed that when things go the way we want it, it’s God’s will,  and when things don’t go as we want, then all of a sudden it’s not God’s will? As I write this I have had two episodes of throwing up in the last twenty-four hours, due to pain, and my wife’s childhood, and even adulthood, has been mostly abuse. Does this mean it’s God’s will? If it is God’s will, does that mean He wanted it? I ended up having to take a break for about thirty-six hours.

If we look at the book of Job we can see that a whole set of calamities befall Job, and with God’s knowledge and approval. Now let’s be clear, that doesn’t mean he wanted it to go that way.  In the life of Joseph, we see a whole host of wrongs, but we also see Joseph recognizing God’s providence in it in Gen 50:20 where he says “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good”. We see how that Joseph reflects back on all the abuse he’d been put through and how he recognized it as God setting him up for what was to come, and eventually saving not just his own family, but the entire region.

Rom 8:28 is quoted often when calamities strike people. To be honest, I think it’s become a bit cliche.  Romans 8:28 cross references to Romans 9:11, which is talking about Jacob and Esau, before they were born. See? The context is about who is Israel. Not just some nice cliche to throw around whenever something bad happens.

I remember when hurricane Katrina hit and how some were using this verse. I also remember how some were claiming that it was God’s judgement, and how appalled some were that some could be so insensitive. I remember when an EF5 tornado hit Joplin. Since I worked in a call center at the time, I didn’t know anyone face to face from Joplin, but there were people from Joplin that I interacted with, that I knew, who were impacted by the tornado. Again, some used Rom 8:28 to comfort. I don’t recall people saying it was God’s judgement, but I’m sure there were.

I’ve had nearly twenty years to study and reflect on this. I want to be careful here, because I want to convey the right thing and not stir the pot. See, early in my marriage my wife told me of church goers who had told her that the reason that this stuff, the abuse, was happening to her, was because it was God’s judgement on her. I thought that that was an absolutely cruel thing for them to say. However, it got me thinking about this very subject. It was easy for me to say that it wasn’t God’s judgement on a little girl. That was just common sense. But yet, if God is all knowing, if he is outside space-time, then he knew this was coming. Similar to Job and Joseph. See? God may not have wanted it to happen, but he was able to take the bad things that happened and turn them for eventual good. In Joseph’s life, it took years. You have the years where he was sold into slavery, and then he was exalted in that position, and then thrown into prison, and then exalted while being a prisoner, and then finally he is freed from prison to interpret pharaoh’s dream, which lead to Joseph being the second highest in the land. Only pharaoh was above Joseph. Some might have looked at what was happening to Joseph and thought that God was judging him. They certainly did with Job. Job’s friends thought Job had sinned, which is why he was being punished. They couldn’t see that in reality the reason things were happening to him was because of how much Job shined.

Now there are times in which God does judge a person or a place. Things like Sodom and Gomorrah come to mind, but those aren’t the only ones. Nineveh comes to mind. While they did repent and judgement was stayed, four hundred years later, if memory serves, they were destroyed.

See? I think we to quickly think it’s judgement or Rom 8:28. We fail to see the other possibilities. Perhaps they are like Job, enduring hardship because of how bright they’ll shine. Or maybe disaster is averted because of repentance. We don’t see things as God’s does. We don’t have the ability to step out of time and see the whole of time and how every tiny detail will play out. We don’t even see how our life will play out, let alone single events in our lives. No, it’s only on reflecting back that sometimes we can see, and even then, not always. Some times, things are just to big to be able to see. But we like to offer words anyway. We are so often arrogant in thinking that we see what God sees. We offer words of comfort or words of judgement with out knowing what’s really going on. Even a prophet only knows what God tells him. To many “prophets” today are like the ones of old where they tell the king what he wants to hear. All you have to do is Google for a little bit and you can see all kinds of positive “prophecies”. Maybe you think that if it comes true then it’s a true prophet. That’s one test, yes. There is another, one that is rarely used in these days, and that’s Deut 13:1-5. In which it essentially states that if the prophet does all these signs and wonders, but teaches you another Torah, he doesn’t call you to repentance, he doesn’t call you back to Torah, then he is a false prophet. We need to be a lot more careful with our words. Our words can bring life or death. But we also need to remember humility, that we don’t see the whole picture. We don’t even see the tiny bit that we’re apart of. It’s okay to speak words of comfort, but be careful to make sure they are true. Can you imagine what would have happened if Jonah went to Nineveh and comforted the people?

God sees the whole picture and every tiny detail. When bad things happen, it’s easy to be bitter, but don’t. Take it and learn from it. Walk in humility. God knew that it was going to happen. Does that mean God wanted it to happen? We like to think of God as a loving God, and he is, but he is also a righteous and holy God. We’ve see four sides of God so far, but there is one more and that is that sometimes God disciplines us for our good. It’s easy to want to quote Rom 8:28 to people, but how do we know that God isn’t disciplining them? Could offering words of comfort stifle what God is doing? On the other hand, saying that God is judging someone, or a place, may be something cold and callous and wrong. Yet we open our mouths, and perhaps with the best of intentions speak. When you speak, remember, only God sees the entire picture and knows all the little nuances and how they’ll work out.

 

In His service

Jonathan Rocker

Go into all the World

The rockets sail through the air and explode at there target. The guns rip through the night as bullets wiz by. It’s dark, but not quiet. You and your friend and pinned down in the fox hole, along with the rest of your platoon. You’re commanding officer is barking out orders, and you have your coms officer trying to radio in assistance. The rockets continue their barrage and explode near by, you are now wearing your friend.

In the hospital, back home, the doctors and nurses gather together for their weekly meetings to discuss new procedures and new techniques and new breakthroughs. Typically, no one here ever sees the kind of action that one does on the front line. Here, the patients they see are the ones that come to them, and typically it’s the mundane stuff. Migraines, flues, chronic pain issues, heart attacks, accidents, the usual stuff.

Fortunately the army developed a solution to this. It’s called M.A.S.H. Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. Since it’s inception it has helped to treat injuries faster, and be more efficient at treating wounds and getting personnel back to the front line.

About twenty five years ago I told my mom that I think we as Christians need to go out to the bars, the homeless, to meet people where they are, instead of waiting for them to come to us. My mom discouraged the idea saying it was to dangerous. She pointed out that going to bars, stripper clubs and such would greatly increase the chance of the Christian slipping. That’s true. There is that risk. But I learned something from that. We’re afraid! We’re scared to go out to where they are. We like our cushy churches, where we know everyone.

One of my friends today posted about one of her friends. This friend was at church in Idaho and a gunman came into the church. The church went to lock-down. As I understand it, the situation was resolved with one casualty…The gunman. He had gone in there suicidal, and in the conflict he was wounded. He died later at the hospital. As I understand it.

But see, here’s the rub, we’re supposed to go out into all the world. Not have all the world come to us. Sadly, for the most part, the world comes to us. We’ve done a good job at not being of the world. We’ve done a good job at alienating ourselves from the world. Eww, no! Can’t touch that! That’s sin! That’s immoral! Yet Yeshua went to the sinners, the tax collectors. To be followers of Yeshua means to go to the sinners.

Then we have the street preachers. Now I’ll admit, I’m not fond of street preaching, but I do recognize that it has it’s place and does get some results. I’ll also say that for the most part these sinners don’t need being bashed, hit over the head with it. That would be like the medic coming to the front-lines in the first scenario and telling them that the reason this is happening is because their on the front-line. It’s cold, insensitive and just not needed.

About fifteen years ago I learned a little of Ray Comfort’s “Way of the Master”. Before that I would just fly by the seat of my pants and maybe the “Roman Road”. “Way of the Master” is a bit different in that it gets the person to see that they’re a sinner and that if they stood before God, they wouldn’t stand a chance. It’s better, but not perfect. The first time I lead someone to Christ was when I was in high school. Back then it was more like a used car sales man. Just get them to the door of the church. The church will do the rest. I always hated that. It was like shirking the responsibility. Plus, Yeshua told us to make disciples. Not get people to church. So after my friend gave his life to Christ, I discipled him. I talked with him regularly and he’d ask me questions and I’d answer them. We also took him to church. By the time I graduated high school the next year, he was ready to take over the bible study group at school.

The way I see it, we’re supposed to disciple people. That means going out there, making friends with those who our lost. Much like Yeshua did. But Yeshua didn’t save them right away. I can hear you now saying he hadn’t died yet so he couldn’t save them. True, but I also think he was establishing a pattern for us. That we should be friends with them and as part of the friendship disciple them, share with them our lives. Teach them why we believe what we believe. Then, after all that, then lead them to salvation. If you remember, Yeshua had quite the following. He had seventy followers, but he had the twelve who were close. Not everyone you disciple is going to be on the inner circle.

This is something I’ve been thinking on for a very long time. I think it’s time we model our discipleship after the way Yeshua did it. The way we “witness” is more like a sales pitch than anything. We can, and should, witness with our life as much, if not more so, as we do with our words. We need to stop being so focused on “winning souls” and be more focused on discipling, training those around us.

 

In His service

Jonathan Rocker

The Consequences of the Pagan Police

When I became Torah observant a little more than two years ago one of the things I had to contend with, among others, was the pagan police. This was pagan, that was pagan, here a pagan, there a pagan, everywhere a pagan. For those who have been through it, you know that that’s no joke. Saying things like “Lord” or “God” or even “Jesus” was pagan, and therefore not to be said. There is a certain logic to it, which is why it can be so effective. Since I became Torah observant in late August, early September, just before all the holidays, it was tough to sort out truth from fiction. See, it wasn’t just this I was contending with, it was also those who called the apostle Paul a false apostle. Ironically, it was easier for me to put that to the test and prove it bunk, than all these pagan claims.

One thing that didn’t help was my neck. See? It was before my surgery, so during this time I spent the majority of my time laying down. Sitting up, being vertical, for half and hour was enough to over do it for my neck. It would typically cause me to vomit and then I’d have to spend the next week completely resting… Which I had a hard time doing. During the year of 2014 I lost 75 pounds. For me to spend the time researching often meant I was going to pay for it. What made it frustrating is when people didn’t list their sources.

On some things, it was easy to verify, but on other things….it was next to impossible. Everyone was saying that Christmas was pagan. Now since I had researched some of it before I had become disabled, before I became Torah observant, I felt like I had a handle on at least the basics. Yes, I knew Christmas had some pagan origins, but Christianity had taken it and made it Christian, so it was okay…Right?

On things like “Lord” there was some logic to it. It is true that the word Ba’al is translated as “Lord”, but Adonay is also translated as “Lord”. You can see the list for yourself here. So this was an example of taking one thing, out of context, and building a doctrine out of it. Again, it was fairly easy for me to see the problems with it because I knew other words were translated as “Lord” coming into this. But the argument that Jesus was pagan because there was no J prior to the 1600’s. Some were as outlandish as claiming that Jesus meant “hail Zeus”. Even then, not understanding the language or much of the difference between transliteration and translation, I knew that it was ridiculous. The mistake they had made was confusing transliteration with translation, so they took the sounds, Je=hey and sus=Zues to come up with their claim. The thing is, translation doesn’t work like that. That is how transliteration works, as transliteration is all about how it sounds. It’s about taking a word and making it pronounceable for you. Take grace for example. In Hebrew it’s chen. What I did there was give the transliteration of the Hebrew word, instead of writing it in Hebrew. Chen has the same meaning as grace. That’s why it’s a translation because you match up the meanings, the definitions. Not the sounds, the transliterations.

It’s ironic that it was linguistics that drew me into Torah. I came to Torah because of my study of Paleo-Hebrew and Proto-Canaanite. As I began to study the pictographic language, and I began to see the depth of not just modern Hebrew but also ancient Hebrew, my understanding grew. Once I came to the word Torah and saw not just what it meant in Hebrew, but also the pictographic, I began to see that my previous understanding of Torah being law, was at least grossly inaccurate, and perhaps even wrong. With Torah being defined as instructions, which even that is an over simplification, then I began to realize that to have God’s instructions done away with or abolished just didn’t make sense any more. As I accepted Torah the light came on. It was literally like someone turned on the lights. Everything suddenly made sense. The problem was there were new questions, new issues I had to work through. So the pagan police had said Christmas was pagan and connected to Nimrod, Tammuz and Ishtar. So naturally I didn’t want to celebrate something that would offend God. So Christmas of 2014 I didn’t celebrate. For that matter, I didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving either because it to was “pagan”.

With the dawning of 2015 I met new friends like Tyler Dawn Rosenquist and Matthew Vander Els and Rico Cortes and Ryan White and Dr. Dinah Dye. It was this quintet that had a huge impact on me in the year 2015. I learned to check the sources on anything. If it doesn’t have sources then it’s hard to substantiate their claim. They can always say they didn’t get the info from whatever source you find that contradicts them. I also learned archaeology and anthropology and understanding the historical context of scripture. I found out that there is no archaeological evidence that connects Christmas to Nimrod, Tammuz and Ishtar. The best that one can say is the Christmas is a combination of some Germanic traditions and some Norse traditions and of course there is Saturnalia from Rome. It’s certainly not one of the seven feasts laid out in Lev 23.

So now I knew. Now I had the facts. So for the holidays of 2015 I set out to do a few things. One was to give the facts, the truth, the archaeology, to dispel the inaccuracies of the pagan police. However, that wasn’t enough. In 2014, in the few months that I had been Torah observant, I had managed to do quite a bit of damage. So in 2015 I had to fix that. When Thanksgiving came round my brother was put in a position of choosing between me or his wife’s relative. The Thanksgiving of 2014 I had managed to not only offend, but also insult my brother while at Thanksgiving at his house. This relative didn’t want anything to do with me because of that. I had apologized to my brother, but was that going to be enough? I had told my brother that I’d like a second chance, but if it’s not possible, then I understand. My brother was able to work it out. Both of us were there. Myself and this relative, and things went without incident.

Another thing I had learned in 2015 was that His Name is not just the literal pronunciation and spelling of His Name as some may claim, but it’s more about His reputation. In 2014 I had done a lot to hurt His name, His reputation. I had taken His name in vain because I brought shame to His reputation. I didn’t want to bring Him anymore shame, so I sought to bring honor to His name. That doesn’t mean compromising the truth, but I had learned something through all that. You can do more for truth by being humble, than by trying to sound like you know something when we still see through a glass darkly. In 2015 by being humble and repentant I had done more to honor God than all the stuff I said and wrote in 2014.

See? When you get right down to it, the facts, the archaeology is out there and can easily substantiate the history of Christmas and other things. I also learned that lukewarm, as mentioned in Revelation is about mixing, it’s about mixing that which is pagan with that which is holy. So you can’t mix a pagan holiday and add Christ to it and make it okay. I choose n0t to celebrate Christmas, but I also choose to be with my family. I don’t have to participate in the tree or gifts, but I can be with my family. I can be in this world while not being a part of it.

As a result of this and the Sacred Namer’s I started my own page on Facebook where it’s all about archaeology and anthropology, but it’s also about linguistics. In my research I have learned a lot about the languages of the Ancient Near East. I even discovered a language called Cushitic that is still in use today. There is so much I have learned, and there is so much I still have to learn. It’s funny how archaeology and linguistics is what drew me to Torah to start with, and now it’s the same thing that helped me out. A lot of the claims by the pagan police are based on Alexander Hislop’s book “The Two Babylons”, which has been completely debunked. We have someone today who has published his own book based off of Alexander Hislop’s book, and he calls his book “Fossilized Customs“.

I have shared this with you so that you can learn from what I went through. Always search for the truth. When searching for the truth don’t just find stuff that matches what you like, and always verify sources. See if the author did their homework and if their work stands up to criticism. Often times, testing ourselves can be the hardest thing to do as we tend to think we’re right. Instead, be humble and teachable, and search out the truth.

 

In His service

Jonathan Rocker

Making a Choice

It’s that time again, the start of a new Torah cycle. As I was listening to it, reading strains my neck, I was reminded of a puzzle from when I was eighteen. No, it’s not a jigsaw puzzle. I hate those. No, rather this is a mental puzzle, and I love those! See, back when I was eighteen I had my Amplified Bible and my Strong’s Concordance. Somewhere along the way I also got the “Master Study Bible”. I was reading Genesis chapters one and two and was pondering over the two trees mentioned; the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I was aware that there was some symbology to the trees, but was that all? Was there a literal aspect too? So I looked it up in the Strong’s. Well…that was no help. It told me what I already knew, but didn’t answer the literal.

As I’m reading/listening to it, it suddenly occurs to me how that it’s not just about the trees. The trees represent something. Once I saw what they represented it was just so obvious. Obviously, the tree of life represents life and references the tree of life in Revelation (chapter 2 verse 7 and chapter 22). The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is Gnosticism, or doing things on our own, our way. Once I saw this, I couldn’t believe that they chose to ignore life and go their own way. But then I remembered how many times I’ve done the same thing.

Human history is replete with examples of us choosing our own way. We like to complain about how God has all these rules, how He’s just this harsh task-master, when really He isn’t. He gives us a choice, life or death. We just like to complain because it’s not our way. Christianity likes to say it’s impossible to obey, but scripture says that it’s not to difficult. Then I’m reminded of how it’s also related to the prodigal son. The prodigal son is really about Judah, the older brother who stays home, and Israel, or also called Manasseh or Ephraim. As you may recall, after King Solomon the kingdom was split into two kingdoms. It was the northern kingdom, Israel, who was so rebellious that God divorced them and scattered them to the four winds. They completely forget who they are. Judah also gets punished, but he doesn’t forget who he is. See, when Yeshua said that he had other sheep not in this fold, it wasn’t something mystical. He was referring to the house of Israel that was scattered to the four winds. Which is why taking the gospel to the gentiles was so important.

All of us have rebelled. Maybe we’re still rebelling. We don’t have to continue though. I remember when I was in my early twenties. I was so angry. I was angry at the world. I tried numerous times to take my life and self harm. Then one day after having blown up pretty good, it hits me. I realize how utterly stupid this is and that I don’t need to act like that. From that moment on I was a changed person. Do I still blow up? Sure! Just not like that…thankfully. We all arrogantly think that we know what’s best, even if we have no idea what we’re doing or where we’re going. We like to think that if we just find ourselves, if we just know this little bit, if we just…fill in the blank, then we’ll be good. That is where the deception is. The truth is, once we admit that we don’t know what we’re doing or where we’re going and submit to God’s will and God’s plan, then we become like the prodigal son returning home.

Even when man sinned, all those years ago, God already had it worked out. He already had a way to restore the creation covenant. That’s how awesome He is. Even though we totally wreck the heaven on earth, God has a plan to restore it. It’s still the same choice, life or knowledge of good and evil, going our own way. You just gotta choose. Even if you chose your own way earlier, you can stop, just like the prodigal son, and choose life.

Repent unto Revival

I saw this article, The Difference Between True Revival and False Fire — Charisma News, the other day and it just seemed to fit with what I’ve been thinking about lately. See, we’re in the month of Elul which is typically the time that we are supposed to spend in introspection and examine ourselves in order to get ready for Yom Kippur. It’s called “The Days of Awe“. As you’ve seen in some of my other posts, this year has been especially hard on me. I have felt overwhelmingly depressed and sad. Mournful even. One reason that I’ve been feeling this way is because I desperately want to keep the feasts but with my disability it’s hard. With Sukkot, I literally can’t do it. I can’t set up a sukka and camping on the ground would not be good for my back. With the other feasts, I do keep them as best as I can. But I am also unable to go to a Shabbat service for a few reasons. For one, going would mean I’d have to take a couple of buses to get there, which would involve purchasing a bus pass. Now understand, this place is maybe three to four miles from me. It’s not far, but it would be to far to walk it. But also, apparently this congregation, while it’s the only one near me and they are Messianic, it doesn’t look like they have anything for Sukkot. They list it in their calendar, but that’s about the extent of it.

So what’s any of this got to do with repentance or revival? As I just said above, I’ve been doing some heavy introspection and I don’t like some of what I see, but I also have hope. See, when I was about twelve and living in England I was introduced to Doctor Who. I immediately fell in love with the show. When I look at something, a situation, I am very good at analyzing things because I can see more than one way. So stuff involving time travel and temporal paradox just fits with me because I can see multiple paths and outcomes, which allows me to determine which might be the best and most desirable path and outcome. Also due to my nature I tend to examine and challenge everything, but it doesn’t end there as I continue to question and challenge everything. I question motives and logic and interpretation and facts. I rarely will take something as a given. In high school my freshman science teacher was talking about gravity and said that if you drop a BB and a bowling ball from the same height at the same time they will hit the ground at the same time. That made no sense to me, so in the middle of his lecture I conducted my own experiment. My experiment proved him right, but it shows how that I don’t accept something just because someone says so. Although there are limitations. Some things you just have to accept.

When I was living in Tucson, back when I was in my late teens, there was one night in particular where I was praying fervently for revival. On that particular night I told God that if he didn’t bring revival then strike my name from his book. That’s how desperately I wanted revival to come. That is almost thirty years ago now. I didn’t see what I would have called a revival, but then, that was part of the problem. I was determining what it looked like. And then a couple years ago I stumble into being Torah observant. I had lost my job eight months prior to stumbling into Torah. When I wasn’t laying in pain, and vomiting due to the pain, I was on Facebook. I had joined a bible study group, but really it was more like a debate group. For a while it was okay, but I tired of the debates. I started my own group called “Equipping the Saints” (which I have since closed). While I was running that group I had asked it’s members to compose a gospel message without using anything except the Old Testament and the first five books of the New Testament. No body bit. I tried twice more to get them to do this, but no one bit. Then one late night in August I was watching “Poltergeist the Legacy” and at the end of the show he mentioned “Paleo Hebrew”. I wanted to know if that was real or not, so I put the show on pause and Googled it. Discovering Paleo Hebrew lead me to studying pictographs and learning some Hebrew, and led me to Torah. At first it was just a word study, but as I explored the definitions and the pictorial meanings it was as if someone turned on the lights. Everything made sense.

As I continue my journey in Torah I continue to learn and grow. I continue to re-examine everything. This year has been hard because I so desperately want to honor my King but my body wont let me. The other day I had an appointment with my benefits coordinator. They sent a cab to pick me up, and even the little bit of being out for an hour and a half to two hours was enough to push my pain over the top. She was just calling me back to her office for the appointment. I had no sooner sat down then I realized that I was going to be sick. I asked where the bathroom was and so she lead me out of her office and into the court yard. I didn’t make it to the bathroom. Upon arriving home I just rested. As I have been examining myself for the up coming feasts, I wonder if I am letting my body rule me, I wonder if maybe I just need to step out in faith. I’ve talked to rabbi’s and others about this and they all agree that for health reasons I should go to things like Sukkot.

That’s not all though. I have always struggled with my temper, and when I heard some teachings recently, it caused me to think of Moses and how he couldn’t enter the promised land because of his temper. Instead of speaking to the rock, he struck it (Numbers 20:8-12). I also thought about how self control, one of the fruit of the Spirit/Ruach, and I need to work on this.

As I’ve been thinking about these things this past month I come across the article at the start of this post. That got me thinking about revival. See, there is a revival going on, and perhaps it’s catching on. As it is, it’s also the fulfillment of prophecy. However, most when thinking of revival, think of big gatherings and emotional decisions. But this one is different. It’s not coming in the way of big meetings, but individual encounters. It’s also not about emotional decisions, but truth being revealed. More and more are beginning to discover Torah and the truth that it is relevant for today and it’s not just for the Jews. As you can see from the map below, there are a lot of pins! I can remember when it wasn’t near that many. You can feel free to take a look here. So the revival that I wanted all those years ago is happening, just maybe not as expected. It’s truly humbling being a part of this. It’s humbling as God continues to prick me with his word.

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Yom Teruah, Rosh Hoshanah is just a few days away. It’s a day of shouting and blowing the shofar in celebration. Celebration that we are redeemed. The best way that we can honor God our King is to walk in obedience to him humbly and not proud. I see a lot of posts on Facebook where some are edifying, but others it’s more about knowledge. As I have grown in the past couple of years, one thing that has always been in the back of my mind is gnosticism. It’s great to study scripture and other works and get the historical context, but at the end of the day, if it doesn’t bring yourself closer to God and minister to, uplift and edify  those around you, then it’s for naught. To argue about the Name, or calendars, or when shabbat is, or flat earth, is all a waste of time. Yeshua said that the world would know us by our love for one another. What we see is a whole lot of arguing and fighting. The enemy is doing quite the job in getting us to fight among ourselves instead of ministering to one another in love and humility. Are any of those issues a salvationary issue? No. All those issues are about is pride, self. All it does is attempt to make one look smart. “Oooh! Look at me! Look how much I study! You’re wrong because you don’t agree with my study!” How absolutely arrogant and disgusting. I’m no better than anyone else. I’ve had times where I’ve fallen into that trap too. But then, that’s what’s great about this season. It’s about repentance. It’s about getting ready for our King. It is also about repentance. Not the “Oh I’m sorry” stuff that we do and say. Our society has done a great job in bringing repentance down to the ordinary. Just because you’re  really sad and sorry doesn’t mean that you’ve repented. Remorse can certainly be a good thing, but if that’s all it is, then it’s empty and pointless. No, repentance is to turn away from sin. Since sin is breaking the law/Torah, then that would mean that repentance is to turn back to Torah. It’s this turning to Torah that is driving this revival. If we are to have Torah written on our hearts then it’s not about looking down on others; “I observe shabbat and you don’t”. To have Torah written on our hearts means that loving God and loving our neighbor, our fellow man. Torah is all about giving and not about taking. Light doesn’t cast a shadow. Light also doesn’t take, but gives. We have much more to learn. As Micah 6:8 says “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?“. We need to learn to not only love, but also humility.

Painsomnia & ADHD

Painsomnia, it’s not a word I made up, but a word I came across about two years ago. I think the meaning is rather obvious; to suffer insomnia due to pain. Trust me on this, it sucks. Two and a half years ago I lost my job due to my pain. My former employer tried to work with me. I had burned through the FMLA. At first I could complete an eight hour day, but it would mean I’d vomit. Then it got to the point where I could only endure a six hour day before I’d vomit. By this time my human resources rep was talking to me about my attendance issues. Explaining how that I had missed more in two months than they like to see in a year. The idea of working part time was offered, but I wanted to wait. Then the pain got to where I could only do four hour days before vomiting. Now this doesn’t include the two hour, one way, rides on the bus. January 4th of 2014 they let me go. But it wasn’t the end of my pain. It got to the point where to be vertical for even half an hour would result in my vomiting. Yes, often times it caused me to stay awake for thirty-six to forty-eight hours before I’d succumb to exhaustion.

I had surgery for my neck October 13, 2014. It has helped some. I’m not limited to being vertical for half an hour. Now I can, usually, handle a couple hours. But it is still easy for me to over do it. In addition to my neck bothering me, now I also have my lower back bothering me. It has actually woken me up out of sleep. It’s not uncommon for the pain to cause insomnia for me.

With the ADHD, that’s a bit more involved. See, as a kid growing up my mom suspected I was hyper active. She tells of how I couldn’t sit through my favorite show; The Six Million Dollar Man. They had me tested for it, but the tests were always inconclusive. I was the kind of kid where if I didn’t want to do something, then I wont do it. The first time the psychologist gave me an IQ test I scored “imbecile”. The psychologist knew that wasn’t right and gave the test to me again. I scored much better, but I wasn’t diagnosed with ADHD. They thought math was my weakest subject. It wasn’t that math was my weakest, but rather I was bored silly. In 4th grade they gave a math test to the class and I hated it so much that I wrote down any ol’ answer that popped into my head. I scored one percent on that test. I often bounced between regular math and remedial math. It wasn’t until tenth grade where a math teacher sparked my curiosity. She asked the class how many dimensions we thought there were. Some thought there were five, others ten or eleven. I figured if there are an infinite number of numbers, why can’t there be an infinite number of dimensions. From this point on, I never went back to remedial math. Instead I started excelling in math.

The way I typically do things is I would start off the semester really well. I’d turn in my homework, and complete all the assignments. Subsequently I received good grades. After a couple weeks though I’d get bored and stop doing the work. As a result, my grades would plummet. In the last few weeks, the teacher would point out my grades and inform me of the likelihood of failure. I’d start back up with my school work, turning in all my assignments and home work and extra credit, and I’d pass the class. This pattern was typical of me. Even when I went to ITT Tech, with an accelerated pace, the pattern still held.

It wasn’t until I was eighteen and graduated high school that I was finally diagnosed with ADHD. By the time I was diagnosed, it was too late. I had sort of learned to manage it. Maybe not very well, but enough to get by.

So what happens when you are ADHD with painsomnia? You experience a whole new level of misery. Most people, when they experience pain, such as in their lower backs and/or necks, will go lay down.  I do that too. I live in a studio apartment, so my living room is my bedroom. To watch TV I am on a love seat. The nice thing is that I can lay down on this love seat. My MacBook Pro sits on an end table at one end of my love seat, often the opposite end from where I lay down. I can easily see my screen when I lay down.

So I will lay down to rest, and I try and watch TV. It’s common for me to do more than one thing at a time. To do only one thing at a time drives me nuts. As I’m watching TV, to rest, it is also normal for me to check my computer screen. I don’t have to move or turn my head. My eyes just move a few degrees and I can see my laptop. But here is where the problem begins. Because I can see my screen, I can see when someone says something or replies. When I see that I am filled with an overwhelming urge to check it. Since I “Like” over seven thousand pages, I get a lot of alerts. So I’ll get up to see the “Alert”. Depending on what it is, I may answer it, and then lay down again. On and on this goes. On some occasions it’s gone on for thirty-six to forty-eight hours before I end up giving in to exhaustion. Often times I’ll go lay down on my bed, but I can still see my screen and have been known to get up from bed to check on my computer.

The issue is, my brain doesn’t want to shut down. Even when I close my browser, so I don’t see these “Alerts”, my mind still continues with various things I may be working on. Maybe I’ll think of a possible answer to something, so I go and look it up. Of course, since my neck and back are in pain, it’s often for short periods of time. I’ve had this keep going until I exacerbated my neck and back so much that I start vomiting. Usually, when I get to this point, I’ve way over done it. Yet my mind still keeps going. If you are not ADHD, then you really can’t imagine what it’s like. In some ways, ADHD is a gift. In other ways, it’s shear torture. To keep coming up with ideas, to still be thinking of stuff, but not be able to do anything about it. That’s the level of hell I live in almost daily.

Fruit – Almond – The First Fruit

I asked you, my Facebook friends, if you’d prefer the work in progress or the finished product. The majority preferred the work in progress. The only way I can imagine doing that is by publishing the article, in it’s rough draft stage, and than editing it along the way. Keep in mind, this is a rough draft, and is not complete, or finished.

When I began this study, I was thinking of literal fruit, like grapes, apples, oranges and so on. I also figured that there would be more out there on fruit and it’s symbologies of the Bible. I was surprised to find out that there was so little information out there. So naturally I had to put things on hold so I could study and research this. When I read books, I commonly read at a pace of about 200 wpm, however, that doesn’t factor in when I put the book down because it mentioned something that got me curious, so I go and research that. Since I am a conceptual learner, that is to say that once I get the concept, I’m good, I can sometimes learn things really fast. However it can mean that I often go exploring rabbit trails.

As I have been studying, searching the internet, reading books I have. discovered that there really isn’t much out there on the subject, and what is out there is often clouded and hidden. I scoured Google and found sites like Bible Study Tools. It gives a good start, but nothing much beyond that. One thing that was overwhelmingly clear was that olive, in particular olive oil, has been researched. As far as the Biblical references, most of the references for olive oil pertaining to the Holy Spirit are in the New Testament/Brit Chadashah.  There are two references in the the Old Testament/TaNaKh are Lev 2:1-2 and  Zech 4:6. That, to me, is unacceptable. There are many, many other sites that I looked at and read in my search for fruit symbolism as it pertains to the Bible and the Ancient Near East. The majority of the web sites were/are unhelpful. The sites I found that even attempted to give the symbolism of fruit were mainly not relevant to the Bible and defined most fruit as symbols of fertility. It was driving me nuts.

I reached out to some friends and Tyler Dawn Rosenquist suggested the dyadic social identity, honor/shame culture, and the feminine nature of the fruit in Gal 5:22. It was also suggested I read Dr. Dinah Dye’s book “The Temple in Creation: A Portrait of the Family”. I am enjoying the book, and learning a lot. Perhaps once I’ve finished it I’ll better understand.

So a few weeks ago I was laying on my love seat, watching TV, as is my custom, when suddenly I had an idea. All of a sudden I was thinking about almonds, wondering if almonds were considered fruit. As it turns out, almonds are considered fruit. Bible Study Tools has some information on almond trees, which often bloom in late January and in February. The Hebrew word for almond is shaqued, which references “early”. Naturally though, you don’t wave almonds before YHVH. We’ll save that for another time. However, when I did think of this as “early” or blooming first, I thought of Yeshua rising from the grave during First fruits, which I know is about barley and not necessarily nuts, and how Yeshua was the first from the dead (1 Cor 15:20).

In Eccles 12:5 the buds, the flowers of the almond tree is a reference for old age. It’s there light pink color, almost white, that makes them appear as old age. The blossoms are mentioned in Ex 25:33 and Ex 37:19 as the candlesticks and the cups. Aaron’s rod budded with almond blossoms (Num 17:2-3).

It’s been a while

It’s been just over a month since I’ve written anything. Part of it was due to my pain. My neck has been flaring up, which has made it difficult to do anything. To go along with that is depression and frustration. It is so frustrating and depressing to be taken out like that. To know that if I over exert myself, then I have to spend weeks resting, and anything can exacerbate it. So how do I over do it? Believe it or not, it’s really easy. For me to carry the groceries up, over does it. For me to carry to laundry, over does it. Technically, even if I carry a gallon of milk, that over does it. But at least I can rest for a day and be okay. Where as with groceries and laundry, that takes much more for me to recover. It’s not that I’m not strong enough. No, I’m plenty strong. The problem is though, when I do use that strength, my lats become incredibly tight. If they get to tight, then I vomit. While that hasn’t happened in a while, it’s been enough to make me rest. It’s frustrating when I think of how I was in high school. How I could bench 250. Back then, it seemed like nothing was impossible for me. Now, lifting a gallon of milk for a prolonged time, say ten minutes, is pushing it.

I have had many ideas to write about, but I want to let them “cook” for a bit, so I wait for a day or two and I find I’ve forgotten all about it. This too, has made things hard. It’s the end of the month now, and I’m starting to feel better. However, the beginning of the month is coming which means grocery shopping and laundry. Which means I get to over exert myself again. Joy!

 

One thing I’ve been noticing among my Torah friends, is that they are starting to call for love and unity. This is awesome! See, the pagan police had been having a big influence on things, but people are now beginning to realize that the pagan police are nothing but modern day pharisees and such. See, many of us came into Torah because we found some error in Christianity. This is normal. Every doctrine, theology and such has error in it because it’s man made. There will always be man made teachings until Messiah comes back and He teaches us. But because some error was found in Christianity, some have gone to the extreme and decided that Christianity is the beast, is pagan. Instead of recognizing that some teachings are wrong. It’s like the old adage; don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. So these pagan police have said that Christmas is pagan, which it is. That Easter is pagan, which it is. That words like lord, god amen, and so on are pagan…Which they are not. But at the root of this is anger and hatred. They hate Christianity and the things in it, so they want nothing to do with it. When they see a Christian, instead of sharing Torah with the Christian, what they do is beat up the Christian. After all, how can they be so stupid as to believe this crap? Don’t they know their pastor is wrong?

I don’t know about you, but my choice was a long time in coming. See, when I was 18 or so and going to church, one Sunday my Sunday school teacher asked the class about the law and fearing God. Some chimed in and gave their thoughts. By this point I had come to the conclusion that there are two types of Christianity. One was the club, the religion, that said if you go to church, tithe, etc and so forth, then you go to heaven. I didn’t want any part of that. Then there was the other, which I called Christianity the relationship. I was all for that one. So after a few moments of quiet reflective thought, I said to my Sunday school class that I thought that as our love for God grows, that we would naturally get better at doing  the law. I equated it to a having a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. When you have that relationship, you want to please your partner, so you strive to do what pleases them, and you want to learn all you can about what pleases them and what doesn’t. Unfortunately, no one, and I do mean no one, in my Sunday school class got what I was saying. I didn’t even realize the fullness of what I was saying.

Also back then I enjoyed Bible studies, where I did word studies. I loved looking up words and finding out what they meant. When I studied the Greek, the New Testament, I often looked for the Hebrew Old Testament equivalent of the word, so I would have a better context. No body taught me this. It was just something I did because it made sense to me. So two years ago I was watching a show on TV and this show mentioned Paleo Hebrew. Right there I was so curious that I put the show on pause and looked it up. I never did go back to that show. Even as I researched Paleo Hebrew and what came before that (Proto Canaanite), I was excited because I wanted to learn the Hebrew that the authors used. I wanted to get as close as possible to the way it was written.

At first, when I came into Torah, I was thrilled. Everything just seemed to click. All those questions I had been pondering for years, all of a sudden made sense. But I also fell for the pagan police. Some friends I lost because they just couldn’t accept Torah. But some friends, I drove away. To these friends, I had lost the love, the compassion. But as time went on, I began to see that Torah, the very heart of Torah, is love. How that Torah commands us to love our neighbor as well as to love God. So I started writing posts about that. Challenging my readers about the love. Some just never seem to get it, and I let them go. Others, well, some are ahead of me, and others are behind me. But that’s okay. It’s not a race to see who finishes first. It’s a race, rather, to see who finishes at all. So I am thrilled that more and more are beginning to realize that we need to love and not beat others over the head.

One of the questions I wrestle with today is with zeal. In Torah we read about how Phinehas was filled with zeal and he ran threw a couple that was in open sin. We also have Yeshua where he turned over tables and made whips and drove people out. But see, if one was to attempt either of those today, they’d either be locked on in prison or in a mental institution for that. So how do we demonstrate our zeal? To hate sin? With our culture so steeped in idolatry and so forth, they wouldn’t get it. A lot of churches today have bookstores and coffee shops in them. Is that not like the money changers of Yeshua’s day? But to go and start flipping  cases and tables would only get the police to come and haul you off. In both of these instances, the people committing the offense, and those around them, knew it was wrong. In the case of Phinehas, because of his zeal, he averted a plague. In Yeshua’s case, they also knew it was wrong. Unfortunately, it’s still practiced today. I don’t have an answer to this question. I’m sure one day I will. Until then, I keep pondering it.

In these last two years I have gone through a lot of changes. My knowledge in scripture has increased. But just knowledge is vanity. It’s application that matters. I continue to study and to try to put to practice what I study. Some of it is very academic. But even academia should compliment study and application. If one is just studying just to increase his knowledge, then he has his reward. But it’s the one who studies to follow hard after YHVH who will have the ultimate reward. It’s not about how smart a person is, but rather how they live out what they’ve been given. Some people are content to just attend church and that’s it. But see, God wants us to search so fervently, that it’s like the pearl of great price. That we’ll keep searching, regardless. Those who are content to just get by with the minimum, well, remember the servant who buried the money his master gave him. The master wasn’t to thrilled with him. Because God wants us to pursue Him with every fiber of our being. Just never forget, it’s about love. It’s always about love. Love meaning to guard, protect, look after, ensure. Will you love, as I just defined it, your fellow man and God, in that fashion? You get to answer that, and one day you will give an account for how you answered that.

 

In Yeshua’s service

Some thoughts

Earlier this week my friend Tyler Dawn Rosenquist did a post on why she perceives people are returning to the church. Even at the start of it, I found myself agreeing with her, but it caused me to be a bit depressed as I thought about what she said. What she said had ramifications well beyond what she initially typed. It got me wondering why some, who started off so strong for Yeshua, ended up denying him later on and converting to Judaism. I suppose, that’s when the reality of what Tyler wrote hit me.

Here’s the problem. People often come into Hebrew Roots, or Torah observance believing that Christianity is wrong and pagan. This sets the stage for everything afterwards. It’s this beginning that sets the stage for sacred namers who claim that Jesus is fictitious and pagan set up by the Roman Catholic Church. It also sets the stage for flat earthers, who go to ridiculous and insane measures in order to attempt to prove the earth is flat and that the rest are deceived. It also sets the stage for the sabbitarians and the calendar fanatics who assert that sabbath is not on Saturday, but keeps with the new moon, and that the modern day calendar is corrupt and pagan.

Yes, there are errant teachings in Christianity, the biggest example is how much of Christianity teach that Yeshua did away with the Torah. But does that mean that all of Christianity is bad? wrong? There’s an old saying; “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. Sadly, many have. After finding out that what is commonly taught in the church is wrong, many assume that it’s all wrong. Teachings from Alexander Hislop’s The Two Babylons, only reinforce this line of thought (see these links for more information; 1 2 3). The problem that we started with, not fact checking, not holding our teachers accountable, has only been refocused. Instead of testing to see if Alexander Hislop’s writing are true or not, many “coming out of the church” just gobble up these writings and others like it. The “problem” is that we still don’t fact check. Most just trust and depend on the teachers they like. Very few do actual fact checking. When someone does, and it doesn’t agree with their teacher then they are met with anger, hostility and perhaps even hatred, instead of doing the research to see if it’s true or not.

The other problem that we have is when we do “fact check” it’s often through the lens of what we agree with. If we don’t like, or agree with the results, then we discard it and move on until they find something that we agree with. This is called “Cognitive Dissonance“. This allows us to protect what we believe instead of changing what we believe to match the facts. How can we challenge those in “pagan christianity” to accept our “facts” when we reject “facts” that we disagree with, just as the Christians do? If we hope to share and convince others of the facts, truth, then we also must be transparent and change our beliefs when presented with the facts. Otherwise we live a lie and bear witness to a lie.

Is our faith so frail that it can’t stand the sands of time? that it can’t endure facts and truths? Or, is what we believe strong enough to endure? Don’t be to quick to answer this. Think about your actions. What do they say? Do they testify that your beliefs can endure through the facts and truths? Or do you discard truths and facts in favor of what you like?

When I started on this journey, nearly two years ago, there were many things I checked to see if it was true. I also fell victim to cognitive dissonance, however, when I was presented with facts and truth, then I changed. My first months to a year was a rough one indeed. I caused a number of hurts in regards to relationships. As I learned and grew I kept re-evaluating what I believe in contrast to the facts and truths. By re-evaluating what I believe against the facts and truths, I was able to throw out the junk and keep what was left. If anything, my faith has grown stronger. Do I have the answers for everything? Absolutely not! I still have many questions that I wrestle with. Some of my friends have been privied to my searches. They’ve seen me research things and wrestle with issues. I don’t point this out to brag, quite the contrary, I point this out to show the very real struggle we all face. A few months ago my dad asked me if I expected all of us to research like I do. When I answered in the affirmative, he proceeded to point out that not all of us are made like that. No. Not all of us are made the way I am (thankfully). However, I do maintain that we all have a responsibility to fact check our teachers.

Before there were printing presses, very few had access to the scriptures. It was easy for teachers to teach whatever and claim it was scripture. With the advent of printing presses, it made it easier to get scripture into the average persons hands. The problem is, is that we continue to rely on people to tell us what is true and what isn’t. It all comes down to who is ultimately responsible for what you think and believe? Ultimately, that’s you. You and you alone. When you stand before God on that day, it will be you who stands before God. It wont be you and your teachers. Just you. You will be responsible for what you gobbled up and believed and no one else. You wont have an excuse when you stand before the Almighty. You wont be able to blame anyone except yourself.

Mixed feelings

I’ve been struggling with this for quite some time. I guess now, it just hit the tipping point. As I read about, in this case, a thirteen year old girl who’s neck was slit while she lay sleeping, my heart broke. I’m a father of a daughter. She’s my only child. She is also eighteen. So it was easy for me to put myself in this dad’s place. I could imagine the extreme loss and sorrow he must have felt. I can also, quite easily imagine the anger he must feel over his loss. I read about how the police ended up killing the Muslim who killed the girl, and so many were so angry at the guy. Again, I could understand the feeling. It’s so easy to want revenge. But there is another side to this. The Muslim killer, was deceived, and now will never have a chance to know the truth and repent. So I also find myself grieving for him. It’s all based on hate and nothing else. Hamas, ISIS, ISIL, whatever you want to call it, they have this incredible hate. Almost like I’ve never seen before. I say “almost” because there was a time when I had hate like this. It just never got to the point where I killed anyone with it. In my mind, my heart, I must have committed murders a thousand times. But now? Now my heart breaks, and not just for the father of this girl, but also for all of Israel and even for the deceived Muslim.

In 2 Peter 3:9 it says that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. In Psalm 77:8 it says “Has His lovingkindness ceased forever? Has His promise come to an end forever”? In Ecclesiastes 8:11 it says “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil”. In Isaiah 30:18 it says “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him”. In Ezekiel 33:11 it says “”Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’“. In Daniel 4:29 it says
“”Twelve months later he was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon…””. In Habakkuk 2:3 it says “”For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; For it will certainly come, it will not delay””.

Okay, so I quoted a few scriptures. The point is, obviously, that G-d is not quick, not wanting that people should die in their rebellion while deceived. G-d would love that everyone come to repentance. Unfortunately, many wont. Unfortunately, many will die with out repenting from their rebellion and it breaks Abba’s heart.

We like to think our wrath is just, but we deceive ourselves. Our wrath is all about us, what we want. Justice, now that’s different. Very few, if any, know what justice is. Justice isn’t about satisfying our blood lust.

I read in another article how that the Muslims mother was “proud” of her boy. For us in the west, that’s hard for us to imagine. Our culture isn’t about honor and shame. To the Muslims mother, her boy had done something honorable, so she was proud of him. In the West, we see it as cowardly. We don’t see the honor in it. It also shows just how deceived the Muslims are. God gave the land to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Jacob’s descendants. The land is of that lineage, not of Ishmael’s.

Any way you look at it, this is something of great sadness. Those who say things like they wish they could spit in his face, and so much more, don’t understand the Father. They don’t know the Father. I have remained queit for so long on this because of my mixed feelings. Yes, what happened to this girl is, with out a doubt, wrong. As are the cases in the other deeds that the Muslims perpetrate on the Jews. It’s wrong, and it’s not honorable, and I hate it. But I also hate that so many Muslims die deceived and their chance to repent is snuffed out. My heart is for Israel, but as my heart is for Israel, I also want what scripture says Father wants, and that’s all should come to repentance.

Here’s the news article about the girl.

 

In Yeshua’s service

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Schrödinger’s cat lives and dies in two boxes at once – physicsworld.com

Most of us have grown up hearing about Schrodinger’s cat, and for the most part, most people can’t understand it. But is it really that hard? One of the first things it taught me, was that it reinforced relativity. Schrodinger’s cat is a thought experiment, to get the person to see how that what they do effects the outcome. Relativity is also about how what you do effects the outcome, but Schrodinger’s cat put it right up in your face.

Scientists are now saying Schrodinger’s cat has two boxes, I find this interesting because the only way I was able to imagine it was to imagine that Schrodinger’s cat was both alive and dead at the same time, which would require two boxes, or another parallel universe.

Schrodinger came up with this experiment to help illustrate things in the quantum world. For example, one simple example is light, the photon. It has two states, wave and particle. If you test to see the particle, then that’s what you’ll get. If you test to see the wave, then that’s what you get. When I was attending ITT Tech from 1990 to 1991, this was one of the experiments I did, while working with light. Since there was no way to perform an experiment that allowed us to test both at the same time.

I don’t wish to rewrite the article, so if Schrodinger’s cat intrigues you at all, then definitely click on the link below. Scientists have finally found a way to test both states at the same time.

Physicists create a double cat state in two entangled microwave cavities

Source: Schrödinger’s cat lives and dies in two boxes at once – physicsworld.com

Witnessing VS Discipleship

I’ve never been good at sales. I’ve always hated it. When I was in fifth grade I had to get so many pledges for the Jump-Rope-a-Thon. While I did get some, I didn’t get as many as other kids did. I did, however, manage to jump-rope nearly three  hours. Man! Was I sore the next few days.

One of the big things in Christianity is witnessing, a.k.a. soul winning. I never liked it. To me, the way it was presented made it sound like the pastor was giving his annual (or however often pastors do this) pep talk so that the church would grow. Since I was always rather shy, it was exceptionally hard for me ti “witness” to others. Besides, what if I didn’t know the answer? But the whole way it was presented seemed just “off” to me.

I remember reading in Matt 28:19 how it said to go out and make disciples of all people. To me, it didn’t seem right, to go and “win” a soul and then drop them off at the local church. It always seemed like the “soul winner” was shirking their responsibilities and leaving it up to the church.

It wasn’t until when I was in high school, where I lead my first person to Christ. This friend went to the same high school as I did, and we became good friends. He was agnostic to start with. He said that what he found interesting was whenever I talked on other subjects I’d contradict myself, however, he said that I never contradicted myself when it came to biblical stuff. My closing “pitch” was to point out to him that by following Jesus, life would not get easier, but harder, that he’d be painting a bulls-eye on himself, and then walking in front of the front line. Some closing pitch huh? Doesn’t that just make you want to say yes? I had said that to him on the bus ride home. Later that day, he made a decision to follow Jesus.

My friend knew that I didn’t believe in winning souls and then just dropping them off at church for the church to do the rest of it. For the next year I discipled him. We’d talk almost daily, either on the phone or face to face. I could tell he was serious about it because whenever I quoted a verse, but gave the wrong address, he’d correct me.

See, it’s not about winning souls, as much as it is about discipling people. I hear people all the time say that they plant, another waters and yet another harvests. While I’ll concede that to some extent it is necessary to plant, water or harvest, but that’s not the primary model. The church has done a terrific job pushing on us this scheme, this structure for winning souls. The flaw in it is that no one takes responsibility to disciple the person.

Maybe a better analogy would be to imagine a garden. In a garden the person plants, waters and harvests, all the way through. That’s because gardens are usually small enough to manage with one person. Some bigger gardens may have a couple helpers, but if it gets bigger than that, then it becomes something else. It becomes more like an industry. Yeshua never wanted us to industrialize soul winning. Rather, what Yeshua wanted, was for us to spend time, to invest ourselves, personally, into peoples lives and to see it all the way through. From start to finish.

Discipleship is much slower, and certainly costs more of your time. But think about this, perhaps, some of the reason that people would “backslide” was because no one invested in them, to disciple them. It was too much like a used car sales experience. Think about it. Did Jesus just “win” souls? Did he just “water” or “plant” or “harvest”? No of course not! He was there from beginning to end. He invested time with his disciples. Maybe it’s time that we do it the way he did, the way he told us to, and not worry about winning souls.

 

In Yeshua’s service

United in Love

I have never seen our culture, our society so polarized. Everyone has an opinion and holds strongly to those opinions. We love to surround ourselves with those who agree with us…until they don’t. We treasure our opinions as though they are right, as if it’s fact, and anyone who doesn’t agree with us is either ignorant and stupid or is an adversary and an enemy.

Whether it’s politics or religion or something else that we hold strongly to, we hold to our own beliefs as though it’s absolute truth. If we see someone who we think is in error, then it’s our duty to correct them. They, of course, also defend their position. The result often ends with people parting ways over it.

The problem is, often times what we perceive as fact is quite often an opinion. When it comes to biblical matters, this is amplified quite a lot. People assume that their interpretation of scripture is true. They’ll often say, or imply, that their quoting scripture, and the one who disagrees is disagreeing with scripture. And that is where the problem begins. See? the issue is that it’s a battle of pride, or ego. We assume that our research, our understanding is fact, is true, and therefore those who disagree are either ignorant or rebellious.

We think we know the truth, when in reality, there is very little we can be sure of. Yes, scripture is true, but we all interpret scripture in our own way. This is why no two people will interpret scripture the same way. This is all pride. We need to learn humility. Studying scripture is certainly a good idea. I highly recommend it. But even in the research, there is very little we can know for sure. We may study archaeology and anthropology and even linguistics, in order to understand scripture better. And this is certainly to be commended. Learning to see scripture the way the ancient Israelites did certainly helps, but still, we should be humble as we don’t know everything.

Yeshua often talked about love. Love is the core of Torah. Yet we want to toss those who disagree with us, on their heads. Yeshua said that the world could recognize us by our love for one another (John 13:35). How is the world supposed to recognize us, when we’re busy defending our opinions on things? Even trivial things? All the world sees are people who claim to be followers of Yeshua, who argue endlessly and then throw fits because someone didn’t agree with you.

There are some matters that are worthy of dis-fellowship, but that should be the last result. I don’t want to get into what might be absolutes, because it requires very careful explanations, which I can’t do right this moment. We should be very slow at dis-fellowshipping someone.The Apostle Paul dis-fellowshipped one person, and even then it was for a limited time.You can read about it in 1 Cor 5. Paul also had to tell the Corinthians to bring him back in. But us? We dis-fellowship for everything. We make everything into salvation issues, when most are not. We know that YHVH is ONE/Echad. We know that Messiah Yeshua was the Word that was in the beginning and was with YHVH and was YHVH (John 1:1-2). We know that Yeshua came to save us from our sins (Matt 1:21). We know that the Torah has not been done away with (Matt 5:17-19). We know that we can’t work, or earn, salvation, that it’s a free gift of God (Eph 2:8 and Rom 6:23). There are more scriptures that can be quoted or referenced, but hopefully, you get the point.

We need kill the ego, the pride, and learn humility. There is certainly the possibility that we can be wrong. Is saying God’s name a salvation issue? No! What’s worse is to argue about it. Knowing God’s name is important. When we argue about it though, we bring a bad reputation to His name and therefore become guilty of profaning His great name. Or flat earth. Is flat earth a salvationary issue? Again, the answer is a resounding No! But there are people who make it a salvationary issue. See? it’s about pride. Nothing else. Only when we kill our pride, and put love first, will we become the children of God that we are supposed to be. We are way to concerned with being right, instead of being concerned about loving one another. This is something we need to repent of. The whole of Torah is about love, not about being right. We are to love God with all our being, and we are to love our fellow man as we love ourselves. Yet, we so often rip each other apart, and then call it correction. If we are going to correct some one, we should do it in love and humility. Never to beat the person down. Beating people down is being a bully. How does being a bully fit in with being Torah observant? We need to get on our knees and repent of this haughty, arrogant spirit, and take on humility and love.

 

In Yeshua’s service

What is Repentance?

In mainstream Christianity it is common place for pastors and teachers and evangelists and even prophets and apostles to hold a revival and call people to repentance, but repentance to what? They’ll say “repent of your sins”, but most of the time don’t explain what that is. They’ll say to give your life to Jesus, but while they may mention repentance, and maybe they will even teach that it’s a one hundred eighty degree turn around, to turn away from sin, they miss the point.

So then, what is sin? Sin is transgressing, or breaking, the Torah. 1 John 3:4. Every single prophet in the Bible always called people to turn away from sin. That’s step one. Step two is to turn back to Torah. The apostles, while they also taught the message of salvation, also taught that we must turn back to Torah.

1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

With out understanding that repentance is to turn back to God, to obey his Torah, then what are we turning to? Our own concept of what sin is? Our own concept of what righteousness is? We need scripture to define what sin is, which 1 John 3:4 does quite nicely. John, in 1 John 5:3 is actually quoting Deut 30:11. Scripture is replete with verses about us “doing what is right in our own eyes“. Doing what is right, seems right, in our own eyes, is always foolishness.

I know one thing I’ve heard growing up is how that we don’t come with instruction manuals. That’s not entirely accurate. There is an instruction manual, just that few use it. It’s the Torah. It contains all the instructions one needs in order to live life. The problem is that we have grown up with people twisting scripture, even misquoting Jesus/Yeshua and saying that the Torah is done away with. Jesus, in Matt 5:17-19 makes it quite clear that Torah shall remain. In fact, in verse 18 Jesus says that Torah will out last earth. So if you need to verify if Torah is still in effect, just look outside. Do you still see the earth? the sky? Yes? Then Torah is still in effect.

You can’t have repentance with out returning to Torah. Anything else is a waste. Some are starting to wake up and teach that repentance is to return to Torah, but there is still many who don’t. There are even some who are down right hostile to Torah. Arguing with them won’t help. They are blinded. If they are to see, we must pray that their eyes be opened so they can see.

The word repentance is t’shuvah, from the root shuvah, which means to turn around. This article, from Chabad, explains the Jewish concept of t’shuvah. They do, as you might have noticed, base it off of works. Thankfully we have Eph 2:8 where we are saved by God’s approval of Yeshua’s work on the cross that He extends mercy to us, not of our own works, lest we boast in vain. I pray that more would teach repentance as returning to Torah and come to know the saving grace and mercy found because of Yeshua’s work on the cross.

 

In Yeshua’s service

The Reason Yeshua Came

In this article, I have used many links that contain extra information, including linking to scripture. This is a common practice of mine. Please take the time to click on the links and read them, as it will give the understanding and depth that is needed.

Christians act and think that Jesus/Yeshua came to start Christianity. They claim that the law, Torah, was done away with. The reason for this goes back to the early church fathers and their antisemitic views. Consequently the Jews started coming up with a defense, a rebuttal, to Christianity. Some of their rebuttals are accurate and deserving. For example, anyone who prophecies, and it comes true, and performs miracles, and so on, if they teach that the Torah is done away with, or teach to follow after other gods, then they are a false prophet. That’s from Deut 13:1-5. So to the Jews, Christianity teaches to follow after other gods.

What was Yeshua’s reason to come? Was it to start another religion? No! Of course it wasn’t to start another religion. If it were, he’d be denying the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Jews see the Torah as preexistant, even before the creation of the world. It could be argued that the Jews view the Torah as divine. We see, in Genesis chapters one and two, that the Word of God was in fact preexistant and in fact created the world.

The Apostle John makes it clear, in his gospel account the the Word was in the beginning, and that the Word was with God, and that the Word, in fact was God. John goes on to say how that nothing came into being except through the Word. In verse fourteen John describes the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.

The thing is though, that many of the Brit Hadashah’s (New Testament) writings have been twisted into antisemitic views and teachings. Stephen was stoned to death, the first martyr, because he was accused of “…speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” Stephen gave a defense, but the end result was he was stoned. At no time did Stephen blaspheme against Moses or God. You can read the account for yourself in Acts 6:8 – 7:59. Yeshua was also falsely accused and put to death. The Apostle Paul was, and still is, accused of the same thing. What’s different about Paul though, is that while he at no time ever taught against Moses or God or Torah, mainstream Christianity go on teaching that this was not only Paul’s teaching, but Yeshua’s as well. That the law, Torah, has been put away. That the law, Torah, in antiquated and out of date, and therefore irrelevant.

By Christians making such claims, like the Torah is done away with and teaching that the church is the new Israel, is certainly antisemitic, but is also bearing false witness and distorting, wrongly representing Yeshua and the Apostles. I wrote, a long time ago, on Facebook, three articles that address this. The first one was “The Torah and the Christian“, the second was “Legalism? Judiazer? or Loving God through obedience part 1” and the third was “Legalism? Judiazer? or Loving God through obedience part 2“. By making such claims, the real reason Yeshua came has become clouded, veiled, and all but lost. Fortunately, there are those who are returning to the real reason Yeshua came. I wrote, also on Facebook, an article that covers the part of Yeshua coming is for salvation, but there is more.

See, Yeshua didn’t come just so that we can be “saved”, as mainstream Christianity teaches. Yes, Yeshua did come to save us from our sins, but like I said a moment ago, that wasn’t all. Yeshua came as Meshiach ben Yoseph, in the role of a priest. Since God had divorced Israel, and Judah, there was a problem. God has made an oath, a vow, to Abraham, and swore by His great name, but since God divorced Israel, to remarry her would be a violation of God’s own Torah. So now God, it seems, is in a catch twenty two. He made a vow, and it would seem that God broke His vow by divorcing Israel and Judah, and He can’t violate His own Torah be remarrying Israel and Judah. This, is the great mystery that the Apostle Paul talks about. Yeshua came to restore Israel and Judah, in the sense where the could remarry God. The Apostle John as well as the Apostle Paul makes it clear the divinity of Yeshua. So by Yeshua dying on the cross, not only does he make salvation possible, to save us from our sins, but he also makes it possible for Israel and Judah to remarry. This is how God resolved the catch twenty two. You can read about it in Romans 7.

For Christians to teach and claim that the Torah was done away with, tarnishes what Yeshua came to do and what the apostles continued. It also is extremely antisemitic. Replacement theology is not only wrong, but dangerous as well. Yet this antisemitic view and teaching is not just prevalent, but what mainstream Christianity teaches.

It’s easy to see why the Jews have spent much of their Talmud refuting this doctrine that Christianity teaches. Yeshua came to restore Israel. This is what should be preached and taught. Anything else is errant and heretical.  I would phrase it as Yeshua came to teach how to correctly, rightly live out biblical Judaism. If you can phrase it better, I’m all ears.

 

In Yeshua’s service

Fruit – Vocabulary

Before we can get into this study on fruit, I feel it’s important to cover some vocabulary, the terms that would be used. Before we can jump to Gal 5:22, we need to spend time laying the foundation, so even after the vocabulary, we need to spend time in the Old Testament seeing how each of the terms are used. We shouldn’t build a doctrine off of one verse, or a fragment of a verse. We need to get the context. Context with in the chapter. Context with in the book. Context with in the New Testament. Context with in the Old Testament, and finally, context with in the entire Bible. In order to get that context, we need to start at the beginning. As we start from the beginning we will build upon that as we move through the scriptures. From here on out, I will no longer use “Old Testament” as that gives the wrong impression. The Hebrew Scriptures, the TaNaKh, are not old, antiquated, out of date, monolithic, etc and so forth. Rather it is very much relevant for today and has not been done away with. I apologize in advance if this post is a bit on the dry side. Vocabulary tends to be dry.

To do the vocabulary I copied and pasted Brown-Driver-Briggs from Biblehub.com and I also used Biblestudytools.com. The pastes from Biblestudytools.com ended up in tables. I’ve tried to make the text and formatting as easy to read as possible. This vocabulary only pertains to the Hebrew in the TaNaKh. I’ll do the Greek vocabulary a bit later, when we get into the New Testament, also known as the Brit Chadashah. When we do get into the Brit Chadashah, we’ll also cover Aramaic, which will help line things up with the Hebrew in the TaNaKh.

The first word in our vocabulary is the Hebrew word for fruit, פֶּ֫רִי H6529 Peri and comes from parah;

Brown-Driver-Briggs

מְּרִי119 noun masculineHos 14:9 fruit; — absolute ׳פ Hosea 9:16 +, מֶּ֑רִי Jeremiah 12:12 +; especially construct מְּרִי Genesis 4:3 +; suffix מִּרְיִי Proverbs 8:19, מֶּרְיְךָ Hosea 14:9, מִּרְיוֺ Genesis 3:6 +, וּפֶרְיְכֶם Ezekiel 36:8, מְּרִיהֶם Amos 9:14, מִּרְיָם Lamentations 2:20 +, מִּרְיָמוֺ Psalm 21:11, מְּרִיהֶן Jeremiah 29:28, מִּרְיָן Jeremiah 29:5, etc.; —

1 מְּרִי הָאֲרָמָה Genesis 4:3 (J), fruit of the ground, of produce in General, so Deuteronomy 7:13 9t. Deuteronomy + 3t.; הָאֶרֶץ ׳פ Numbers 13:20,26,27 (JE) + 5 t., compare Ezekiel 25:4; fruit of vineyard 2 Kings 19:29 = Isaiah 37:30; Zechariah 8:12; Isaiah 65:21; Songs 8:11,12, in figure Hosea 10:11 5t. + Ezekiel 17:14 (but strike out ᵐ5 Co and others); especially הָעֵץ ׳פ Genesis 3:2,3,6; Exodus 10:15 (all J) + 21 t., also, in figure, Amos 2:9; Hosea 9:16 4t. + Ezekiel 17:23 (read מּאֹרָה branches Co and others); of gardens Amos 9:14; Jeremiah 29:5,28, figurative Songs 4:12,16; עֵץ מְּרִי is fruit-tree Genesis 1:11; Psalm 148:9, compare Ecclesiastes 2:5; אֶרֶץ מְּרִי Psalm 107:34; מְּרִי תְּבוּאָךְ Psalm 107:37 fruit of (consisting in) a crop; Psalm 72:16 is dubious; Che Du interpret as

2; Bae proposes יִפְרוּ.

2 = offspring: fruit of womb (בֶּטֶן) Genesis 30:2; Deuteronomy 7:13 9t., compare Lamentations 2:20; Psalm 21:11; of cattle (בְּהֵמָה) Deuteronomy 28:4,11,51; Deuteronomy 30:9; of serpent, figurative of power conquering Philistia Isaiah 14:29.

3 figurative of fruit of actions, i.e. their consequences: good Isaiah 3:10; Psalm 58:12; bad Hosea 10:13; Proverbs 1:31; Micah 7:13, of thoughts Jeremiah 6:19; of result of removing sin Isaiah 27:9; result of labour (fruit of hands) Proverbs 31:16,31; product of works of ׳י Psalm 104:13, of wisdom Proverbs 8:19; צְדָקָה ׳פ Amos 6:12, compare צַדִּיק ׳פ Proverbs 11:30 (read צֶדֶק ᵐ5 Hi Toy); of doings (i.e. course of life, or character) Jeremiah 17:10; Jeremiah 21:14; Jeremiah 32:19; פִיאִֿישׁ ׳פ i.e. speech Proverbs 12:14; Proverbs 13:2; Proverbs 18:20; fruit of arrogance Isaiah 10:12 is arrogant speech; fruit of tongue Proverbs 18:21 #NAME?

I, II. מָּרָה see III. פרר. מֶּרֶה see מֶּרֶא.

[מֵּרָה], מֵּרוֺת Isaiah 2:20 see [ חֲפַרְמָּרָה].

The root, parah, is H6509 and means;
Brown-Driver-Briggs

[מָּרָה] verb bear fruit, be fruitful (Late Hebrew = Biblical Hebrew 1, מְּרִי = Biblical Hebrew; Phoenician פר fruit; Ethiopic , blossom, bear fruit; Assyrian pir’u, posterity; compare also ᵑ7 מֵּירָא Syriac fruit, and BaZMG xii (1887), 604): —

Qal Perfect3plural מָּרוּ Exodus 1:7; 1plural consecutive וּפָרִינוּ Genesis 26:22, etc.; Imperfect3masculine singular יִפְרֶה Isaiah 11:1, etc.; Imperative masculine singular מְּרֵה Genesis 35:11, masculine plural מְּרוּ Genesis 1:22 +; Participle active מֹּרֶה Deuteronomy 29:17, feminine מֹּרִיָּה Ezekiel 19:10; Isaiah 17:6, מֹּרָת (Ges§ 80g; for *מֹּרַיַת LagBN 81) Genesis 49:22 (twice in verse); —

1 of men and animals, Exodus 23:30 (E) Genesis 26:22 (J); especially + רבה Jeremiah 3:16; Jeremiah 23:3; Ezekiel 36:11; Genesis 35:11; Genesis 47:27 (P), and שָׁרַץ (P) Genesis 8:17; Genesis 9:7; Exodus 1:7, ׳מְּרוּ וּרְבוּ וּמִלְאוּ וגו Genesis 1:22,28; Genesis 9:1.

2 of vine, גֶּפֶן מֹּרִיָּה Isaiah 32:12 fruitful vine, so Psalm 128:3 (simile of wife); compare (in figurative of Israel) Ezekiel 19:10; in Messianic prediction Isaiah 11:1 a shoot from his [Jesse’s] roots shall bear fruit; with accusative ראֹשׁ ׳שֹׁרֶשׁ פ figurative, Deuteronomy 29:17 a root bearing gall (as its fruit); יִפְרוּ יֶשַׁע Isaiah 45:8 is dubious, read perhaps 3 feminine singular תֵּפֶר let earth be fruitful in salvation (Oort and others); Participle f., as substantive, הַמֹּרַיָּה the fruit-bearer, poetic for tree, Isaiah 17:6 (compare [סָעִיף]

2); so בֵּן מֹּרָת Genesis 49:22 (twice in verse) Joseph is son of a fruit-bearer, i.e. a fruitful bough.

Hiph`il 1. cause to bear fruit,

2 make fruitful, subject ׳י with accusative of man or people:

1 Perfect3masculine singular suffix הִפְרַנִי Genesis 41:52 (E).

2 in P, וְהִפְרֵתִ֫י Genesis 17:6,20 (רֵיתֵ֫י-), + הִרְבָּה Leviticus 26:9 (H); Imperfect3masculine singular jussive יַפְרְךָ וְיַרְבְּךָ Genesis 28:3, וַיֶּפֶר Psalm 105:24; Participle הִנְנִי מַפְרְךָ וְהִרְבִּיתִךָ Genesis 48:4.

3 shew fruitfullness, bear fruit (Ges§ 53 c, d, g): Imperfect3masculine singular יַפְרִיא Hosea 13:15 (as if from פרא).

Peri – The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 06529 Browse Lexicon
Original Word Word Origin
yrp from (06509)
Transliterated Word TDNT Entry
P@riy TWOT – 1809a
Phonetic Spelling Parts of Speech
per-ee’ Noun Masculine
Definition
  1. fruit
    1. fruit, produce (of the ground)
    2. fruit, offspring, children, progeny (of the womb)
    3. fruit (of actions) (fig.)

Parah – The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 06509 Browse Lexicon
Original Word Word Origin
hrp a primitive root
Transliterated Word TDNT Entry
Parah TWOT – 1809
Phonetic Spelling Parts of Speech
paw-raw’ Verb
Definition
  1. to bear fruit, be fruitful, branch off
    1. (Qal) to bear fruit, be fruitful
    2. (Hiphil)
      1. to cause to bear fruit
      2. to make fruitful
      3. to show fruitfulness, bear fruit

The second word is קוּץ H6972 koots;

Brown-Driver-Briggs

קַ֫יִץ noun masculineJeremiah 8:20 summer, summer-fruit (compare Greek Θέρος in both meanings); — absolute ׳ק Genesis 8:22 +; קָ֑יִץ Amos 3:15 +; suffix קֵיצֵךְ Isaiah 16:9; Jeremiah 48:32; —

1 summer-season, opposed to חֹרֶף Genesis 8:22 (J), Amos 3:15; Zechariah 14:8; Psalm 74:17; “” קָצִיר Jeremiah 8:20; Proverbs 6:8; Proverbs 10:5; Proverbs 26:1, also (without קָצִיר) Proverbs 30:25; as fruit harvest Isaiah 28:4; time of drought Psalm 32:4 (figurative).

2 summer-fruit 2 Samuel 16:1,2; Amos 8:1,2; Jeremiah 40:10,12 also, “” בָּצִיר, Jeremiah 48:32; Micah 7:1 (in simile), but “” קציר Isaiah 16:9 (assimilated to ק of קַיִץ; read probably בציר).

קִיצוֺן see קצץ

Koots – The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 07019 Browse Lexicon
Original Word Word Origin
#yq from (06972)
Transliterated Word TDNT Entry
Qayits TWOT – 2020a
Phonetic Spelling Parts of Speech
kah’-yits Noun Masculine
Definition
  1. summer, summer-fruit
    1. summer
    2. summer-fruit

 

The third word is נוּב H5107 nub;

Brown-Driver-Briggs

[נוּב] verb bear fruit (poetry) (Aramaic נוֺבָא fruit (rare)); —

Qal Imperfect יָנוּב Psalm 62:11; Proverbs 10:31; יְנוּבוּן Psalm 92:15; — only figurative, absolute of righteous under figure of tree Psalm 92:15; חַיִל כִּי יָנוּב Psalm 62:11 if wealth beareth fruit; Proverbs 10:31 מִּי צַדִּיק יָנוּב חָכְמָה beareth the fruit of wisdom.

Po`l. Imperfect יְנוֺבֵב Zechariah 9:17, דָּגָן בְּתֻלוֺת ׳בַּחוּרִים וְתִירוֺשׁ יְנ figurative for makes flourish.

Nub – The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 05107 Browse Lexicon
Original Word Word Origin
bwn a primitive root
Transliterated Word TDNT Entry
Nuwb TWOT – 1318
Phonetic Spelling Parts of Speech
noob Verb
Definition
  1. to bear fruit
    1. (Qal) to bear fruit
    2. (Pilel) to make to flourish (fig.)

 

The fourth word בָּכַר is H1069 bakar;

Brown-Driver-Briggs

[בָּכַר] verb (Late Hebrew בְּכֵּר, Aramaic בַּכֵּר, ; compare Arabic rise early, do anything early; , virgin, woman having her first child; Ethiopic primogenitus; Assyrian bukru, first-born, Dl§ 65, 5) —

Pi`el Imperfect יְבַכֵּר Ezekiel 47:12; Infinitive לְבַכֵּר Deuteronomy 21:16; —

1 bear early, new fruit Ezekiel 47:12.

2 make or constitute as first-born Deuteronomy 21:16 (denominative of בכיר).

Pu`al Imperfect יְבֻכַּר Leviticus 27:26 born or made a firstling.

Hiph`il Participle f. מַבְכִּירָה Jeremiah 4:31 one bearing her first child.

Bakar – The KJV Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 01069 Browse Lexicon
Original Word Word Origin
rkb a primitive root
Transliterated Word TDNT Entry
Bakar TWOT – 244
Phonetic Spelling Parts of Speech
baw-kar’ Verb
Definition
  1. to be born first
    1. (Piel)
      1. to bear early, new fruit
      2. to give the right of the firstborn 1a
    2. to make as firstborn 1a
    3. to constitute as firstborn
    4. (Pual)
      1. to be born a firstling
      2. to be made a firstling
    5. (Hiphil) one bearing her first child

The fifth word is תְּנוּבָה H8570 tenubah;

Brown-Driver-Briggs

תְּנוּבָה noun feminine fruit, produce; — absolute Isaiah 27:6; construct תְּנוּבֵת Ezekiel 36:30; תְּנוּבָתִי Judges 9:11; plural תְּנוּבֹת Deuteronomy 32:13, וֺתLamentations 4:9; especially שָׂדַי ׳ת fruit, produce, of field Deuteronomy 32:13; Lamentations 4:9; compare הַשָּׂדֶה ׳ת Ezekiel 36:30 (“” פרי העץ); of fig-tree Judges 9:11; metaphor of Israel וּמָֽלְאוּ ׳פְנֵיתֵֿבֵל ת Isaiah 27:6 (“” ׳יַשְׁרֵשׁ יעקב יציץ ופרח ישׂ).

Tenubah – The NAS Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon

Strong’s Number: 8570 Browse Lexicon
Original Word Word Origin
hbwnt from (05107)
Transliterated Word TDNT Entry
T@nuwbah TWOT – 1318c
Phonetic Spelling Parts of Speech
ten-oo-baw’ Noun Feminine
Definition
  1. fruit, produce

Easton’s Bible Dictionary says;

Fruit [B]

a word as used in Scripture denoting produce in general, whether vegetable or animal. The Hebrews divided the fruits of the land into three classes:,

 

 

Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary says;

Fruit [E]

Terms and Meaning. Among the number of Hebrew words for fruit, fruit-producing, is peri, to bear fruit, be fruitful. The basic Greek word for fruit is karpos [karpov”], used literally of fruit, offspring, and figuratively of the consequence of physical, mental, or spiritual action; karpophoreo [karpoforevw], means to bear fruit or crops, and figuratively, bear fruit in the heart ( Luke 8:15 ); and akarpos [a [karpo”], means fruitless, as of unproductive, unregenerate lives ( Matt 13:22 ).

Physical Fruits and Their Spiritual Application. In his original creation God commanded the land to produce “vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds” ( Gen 1:11 ). Scripture refers to a number of the Near East plants, trees/bushes, and spices to teach or enhance a spiritual lesson (e.g., the grain seeds sown, Matt 13:1-9 ; the fig tree cursed, Matt 21:18-22 ; the grape vine likened to God’s people, Jer 2:21 ; John 15:1-7 ). To make the spiritual point that God’s disobedient people needed his mercy and saving power to heal them, Jeremiah effectively refers to the healing effect of the balm or gum oil of a well-known bush/small tree growing in Gilead.

Spices and unguents, the fruit of exotic plants, trees, and small bushes in the Middle East, frequently played an important role in enhancing one’s social position or indicating one’s respect, adoration, and devotion, particularly to God. Examples include myrrh (aromatic gum of the tree/bush of Arabia, Ethiopia, and Somalia), cinnamon (of the cinnamon tree), and olive oil for the sacred oil for the tabernacle ( Exod 30:22-33 ); the fragrant spices of gum resin (the aromatic myrrh gum), onycha (made from mollusk shells), galbanum (resin from plant roots), and frankincense (resin from a small tree/bush from Ubar, Oman) for the sacred fragrant tabernacle incense ( Exod 30:34-38 ); frankincense and myrrh given by the magi in their worship of Jesus ( Matt 2:11 ); the nard (perfume made from a Middle East plant) Mary poured out in worship on the feet of Jesus ( John 12:3 ); the seventy-five-pound mixture of myrrh and aloes (aromatic resin of a Near Eastern tree) Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus used in wrapping up the body of Jesus ( John 19:39-40 ) and the spices and perfumes the women took to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus ( Mark 16:1 ; Luke 23:56-24:1 ).

Man, the Special Fruit of God’s Creation. When God created man and woman ( Gen 1:26 ), endowing them with moral, intellectual, and spiritual power (cf. Eph 4:24 ; Col 3:10 ), he said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it” ( Gen 1:28 ). This implies that Adam and Eve’s progeny were not only to be the physical fruit of the pair but also to be endowed with moral, intellectual, and spiritual power, since they too, as descendants of the God-created pair, were made in “the image of God” ( Gen 1:27 ; cf. Gen 9:6 ; 2 Cor 4:4 ). The offspring of the human pair is called, from the woman’s viewpoint, “the fruit of the womb” ( Deut 7:13 ; Deuteronomy 28:4 Deuteronomy 28:11 Deuteronomy 28:18 Deuteronomy 28:53 ; 30:9 ; Luke 1:42 ), and from the husband’s standpoint, “fruit of his loins” ( Psalm 131:11, ; LXX Acts 2:30, ; Greek text cf. “the fruit of my body, ” Micah 6:7 ).

A Figurative Meaning. Scripture speaks of eating “the fruit of your labor” ( Psalm 128:2 ), and defines the activities of the godly as “the fruit of the righteous” ( Prov 11:30 ). Those who reject God’s wisdom are described as eating “the fruit of their ways . . filled with the fruit of their schemes” ( Prov 1:31 ; cf. Jer 6:19 ). “The fruit of the lips, ” the blessing of one’s speech, adds blessing to one’s daily life ( Prov 12:14 ; 13:2 ; 18:20-21 ). John the Baptist and Jesus teach that the disciple is to produce fruit (good works) as evidence of true repentance ( Matt 3:8 ; Luke 3:8 ), and they explain that a good tree (the repentant individual) cannot produce bad fruit, that is, a life filled with wicked Acts, and a bad tree (an unrepentant person) cannot produce good fruit, that is, a life of godly works ( Matt 3:10 ; 7:16-20 ; Luke 3:9 ; 6:43 ).

To aid Christians in their walk before the Lord, God-given wisdom is made available to them, wisdom whose “fruit is better than fine gold” ( Prov 8:19 ), and the Holy Spirit develops within Christians the fruit of “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control” ( Gal 5:22-23 ). Thus, with the enablement of the Holy Spirit, the Christian can flourish “like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season” ( Psalm 1:3 ).

Okay, so I know that this post is a bit on the dry side, but it’s essential we know and understand the words and what they mean and recognize them in scripture, in context. Feel free to comment.

 

In Yeshua’s service

White Unto Harvest

Since I grew up in church, I got to hear many a sermon on John 4:35. Invariably it was more like a sales pitch on at least two levels. On one level it’s talking about the “lost souls” that are just ready for harvesting. On the other hand, it was also about needing “workers” to go out and “win souls”. I’ve always hated sales. Ever since I was little and I had to go around the neighborhood and get sponsors for a “Jump rope-athon”, to selling candy door to door for some prize. Later on, as an adult, I worked in a call center as an outbound sales agent for a telephone provider, and selling Kirby vacuums door to door. In every case, I hated it. The Kirby thing didn’t work out. The only ones that bought the vacuum were my folks. With the call center, I nearly got fired for not making quota. So whenever a pastor talked about this, I always rolled my eyes and groaned quietly; here we go again.

I was always the quiet, shy kid, with an ADHD problem. Since I was quiet and shy, you can imagine that I didn’t talk about Jesus much. I was never sure how to broach the subject. There were always a thousand questions that I had in my mind. It wasn’t until high school that I lead someone to Christ. But even the way I did that was not the norm. Instead of telling him how great his life was going to be, I told him he was essentially painting a target on himself and then running in between the front lines. Ironically, it worked. I was never the type that was one to “win the soul” and then drop them at the door of the church. That just wasn’t me. I never considered that right. I considered it my responsibility to disciple him, and I did.

Today, I saw something that reminded me of all this, but this time I had another thought. It occurred to me, that yes, the field is white unto harvest, and, it’s not just us harvesting!  The enemy knows his time is short, and knows that the field is indeed white unto harvest. He knows that there are people who are hungry and desperate, so he has his workers out there too. They may look like us. They may sound like us, but they are not us. We will know them by their fruit. Fruit is always revealed in the end. All this time I only imagined that it was us, the Father’s workers, working in the vineyard. Something to think about.

 

In Yeshua’s service

Fruit – Intro

Fruit is going to the the topic of study over the next several studies. There is the obvious fruit, such as olive, dates, figs, wheat, barley, etc. and so on. Fruit can also mean produce. When we apply it to people, and in particular spiritually it’s the results of ones actions. In Gal 5 Paul talks about the fruit, or works, of the flesh and then contrasts it with the fruit of the spirit. Which “fruit” in verse 22 is karpos and is a noun nominative, masculine and singular. The online Peshitta gives an analysis of the Aramaic text. It shows that the word “fruit” is masculine, plural and emphatic. The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon gives a nice set of definitions.

In this study, I want to explore the symbolism of each of the various fruits mentioned in the bible and compare them to either works of the flesh or fruit of the spirit. To do this we’ll look at dyadic societies and their impacts on scripture. We’ll also look at commentaries and Jewish texts from Sefaria.org. We’ll also look at the various words in their original texts, Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. We’ll look at Targums, so that we can get a feel from the people at that time. We’ll look at fruit in the TaNaKh and how it’s used and we’ll also see how it’s used in the New Testament, and see how Yeshua used it and compare it to the apostle Paul. Scripture defines scripture. By studying the words and how they’re used in each occasion, we’ll get a better understanding. I also want to utilize archaeology and anthropology whenever possible.

I have never studied fruit like this, so this will be a journey for me, and I invite you to take this journey with me. We will travel through history and gain the understanding and significance of fruit, produce, so that we can then understand how it’d applied spiritually. There is so much to cover, and so much to learn here. When I first thought about fruit, I was thinking, of course, fruit of the spirit, which is mentioned in Gal 5:22. I thought I could do a fairly quick write up on it. But as I looked into it, I started realizing that other things fit in to this as well. I was thinking of fruit, as in sweet, and even then fruit of the spirit from Gal 5:22. The problem with that is there is no context. No context from the chapter, none from the book of Galations, none from the New Testament and everything Yeshua taught about fruit, and certainly none from the TaNaKh and Torah. So with out context, I can’t hope to possibly learn and teach anything correctly. It’d just either be me parroting what I’ve heard, or just my own preconceptions. Both are dangerous.

One thing I learned very early on is that the fruit of the spirit is feminine, as a result, Tyler Dawn Rosenquist suggested I look into dyadic society. I wasn’t entirely surprised to hear that the fruit of the spirit was feminine, but I’d never heard of dyadic society before. After thinking on this for a bit, I speculated that if fruit of the spirit is feminine, then perhaps works of the flesh is masculine. At this point I am in the collecting information phase. There is just so much on this. Rico Cortes suggested looking into righteousness and justice, as connected with the fruit. That adds a whole new dimension. Rico said it would help define the fruit.

Often when I write, I have a general idea of what I want to say, but beyond that? No. When I write, it just flows from me. Trying to write in a manner like this will also be new to me, as it means following a format. There is much for me to read, in order to prepare. I’m no speed reader. In fact, because I’m mildly dyslexic I read aloud in my head, every word, and often times every letter. While I may have a high retention rate, it makes for slow reading. This is just the introduction, to let you all know what’s going on, what I have cooking, and what I intend to do, and where I’m going with all this. The last few weeks had been rough for me, as my pain was  a bit high. In the beginning of the day my lower back would hurt, later on my lower back wasn’t bothering me so much, but my shoulders were tight, due to problems with my neck.  The medicine was barely helping, so most of the time I’d lay down and rest. Well, as much as my ADHD would let me. Every few minutes I’d check on Facebook to see what was going on. While it satisfied my compulsion, it would often aggravate my neck.

I think, with the first post on fruit, I want to start in the TaNaKh, but I want to get vocabulary out of the way. I don’t want to give anything away. There’s just so much to look at and study. Once we have vocabulary out of the way, then we can begin with the verses in the TaNaKh and how it’s used and how the context defines it. Of course, once we start looking at verses, we’ll also look at archaeology and anthropology and all that stuff I mentioned above. By the time we get to Galations, we should have a very solid foundation and understanding for what Paul is saying. In any case, I hope you’ll join me as we study fruit.

 

In Yeshua’s service

Little Decisions, Big Decisions

Some of us are better at introspection than others. I was asked once if I regretted anything. I pondered the question for a moment and said “no”. I then went on to explain that the reason I don’t regret choices I made is because I recognized that they helped to form and shape me into who I am today. If you take out even one choice, then it alters who I am.

When I was fourteen and living in Germany at the time, I picked up the Bible and started reading the Gospel of John. Previous to doing this I had always thought the disciples rather stupid and idiotic. I mean really, come on now, didn’t they know? As I pondered that, as I was reading the Gospel of John, I realized that the disciples didn’t know. I was looking at it from the benefit of history, but they didn’t have that view point. As I imagined myself there, maybe one of Yeshua’s followers, I realized that they would have been much like people today. They were just going about their normal daily lives. When I got to the betrayal and crucifixion I cried a little. I really hate crying, so even shedding a tear is a big deal to me. But that was the first time that I began to understand what it might have been like for them.

In the four Gospels it talks about those who are faithful in little will be faithful in much. The thing is, we all have a tendency to over estimate ourselves. We all like to think that we will handle the big decisions. Some picture themselves in persecution and imagine themselves as remaining true and faithful, but with out the little decisions that we’ve made along the way, it’s impossible to really know. Every choice we make, every decision we make builds upon the last and forms us, molds us into who we are and who we will become. Imagine building a sky scraper. You have to lay the foundation. Once you lay the foundation you then have to construct the supporting frame. You can’t skip over the foundation and supporting frame and start building the fiftieth floor. It just wont work. It has nothing to stand on. So it is in our lives. If you want to know how you’ll fair in persecution, or whatever, look at your past. How did you fair then? When you were in school, did you remain silent? Or did you go with the crowd? Or maybe you were faithful. We can do the same thing with where you worked in the past. When coworkers or your boss said or did something, how did you respond? How ever you responded in the past is likely going to be how you’ll respond in the future. Every choice we make now is based on the choices we made in the past. They are what forms us.

Now maybe in your past it hasn’t been so great. The good news is that you can choose now to change it. You can learn from your past and make a course correction. Now that you’re aware, what are you going to do? The choice is yours.

 

In Yeshua’s service

Fear of the LORD

I have written about the fear of the LORD a few times on my Facebook wall. It’s something that I am very passionate about. As a young kid I didn’t think about it much, I just knew that what they preached about it didn’t match with the words. They would say that the “fear of the LORD” didn’t mean to fear, to be afraid. I didn’t start examining it, thinking about it, pondering it, until I was a teenager. The pastors would define “fear of the LORD” as “reverential respect”. I can remember  thinking about the words and how these pastors defined it and thinking that it didn’t make sense. As a young adult I started digging into scripture, and looking at it with the Strong’s concordance and with interlinears. It just always bugged me the way they defined it. It felt watered down. It was like they were saying that we’re not allowed to be afraid. Scripture tells us to fear the LORD, that it’s the beginning of wisdom, yet pastors and teachers around the world tell us not to fear the LORD, that we should “reverentially respect the LORD”. Somewhere along the way it became incorrect to “fear the LORD”.

In our western culture there used to be these preachers who would preach “hellfire and brimstone” and people would confess their sins and give their lives to Christ out of fear 0f hell. Then in the early 1900’s it changed from preaching “hellfire and brimstone” to preaching the love of God. The pendulum had swung the other way and now it was wrong to preach “hellfire and brimstone”. The thought was “we don’t want people to be afraid of God. We don’t want people just getting fire insurance”. While there is some merit to that, anytime we deviate from scripture, we end up in trouble. We let our culture define the word of God instead of letting the word of God define itself and our culture. We should always use the word of God to define itself.

So what does this “reverential respect” mean anyways? I equate it to a watered down version of “fear of the LORD”, more accurately it means to venerate. It can also mean awe. If you noticed, they are being very careful to stay away from fear. We can’t have it mean fear. Reverence of course comes from revere and they can’t even define that, it’s so abstract. We can see from the Online Etymology Dictionary that the definition of venerate/veneration, is really where we get the term “reverential respect” from. You may have also noticed that it tied in with love and worship. The only thing is, that definition is based on feeling and not action, which is why it’s an abstract concept.

In my thirties I came across Psalm 2:11 which given how people define “fear of the LORD”, I really had a problem with the definition. In Psalm 2:11 the word for fear is yirah and means fear. Ancient-hebrew.org defines it as flowing. It’s when you’re so scared your insides feel like they’re flowing. It’s when your legs feel like Jell-O.

I’m not one that scares easily. There is one incident that stands out where I panicked. It was after we had come back from Germany. We had lived in Germany for about sixteen months, and in that time my brother nearly died twice due to respiratory failure, there was the Chernobyl incident and there were the terrorist attacks. With the terrorist attacks they actually found two bombs on base. Both of these bombs were located at the middle school which shared facilities with the elementary school. Our apartment was roughly about one hundred yards away, give or take a bit. I was coming home from high school that day, only to find out I couldn’t get home. It had been cordoned off. Telling the military police that my mom was still at home, did not persuade them to let me go to her. This wasn’t where I panicked. This was where I was trained on how to be ready for terrorism.

The incident where I panicked was not even a year later. We had come home to the U.S.A. To our new station, Davis Monthan. We had some friends over from when we had lived in England. The parents had gone out for the night and left me in charge, since I was the oldest. My sister got the bright idea of playing with knives. She had a butcher knife and her friend had a meat cleaver. They both decided it’d be fun to chase me around the house. My friend had locked himself in my room, and I had trapped myself in the hallway. The other doors were not accessible. I was trapped. I had no where to go, and my sister and her friend were at the end of the hall. It was then that the parents came home. I was relieved but also embarrassed.

The other word in Psalm 2:11 which is translated as trembling is the Hebrew word ra’ad and means to tremble or panic. Psalm 48:6 is another example of the same Hebrew word, ra’ad. So we have these two, very clear, words of fear, panic, in Psalm 2:11. If that’s all it was, I wouldn’t have been so perplexed by it. What struck me was to rejoice with trembling, ra’ad. How can one rejoice when they’re panicking? This is what I thought on for, well, now it’s over ten years. Some have tried to talk about the context, to explain it away. That it’s about the goyim, the nations. There is truth in that. It is about the goyim, the nations. It’s talking about how the nations want to rebel and so they plot against YHVH and his Messiah. So the chapter continues and warns the rulers of what will happen if they do rebel. It closes, starting with verse 10, with urging them not to rebel, to instead “serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling”. So yes, while the chapter is about the nations, it does not resolve the issue with verse 11. Still, people like the notion of “reverential respect”.

We see in Gen 42 through 50 Joseph’s brothers encounters with Joseph. Through out these eight chapters we can see not only how God had sent Joseph ahead to protect his family from the famine, but also how his brothers feared him. In chapter 50 they send a messenger to Joseph, because they were to afraid. It is very commonly known that Joseph is a type and shadow of Messiah, and we have the brothers very afraid of Joseph. It would be accurate to say that they trembled before him. Yet we’re not supposed to tremble before YHVH? I disagree. If we fear man, how much more should we fear YHVH?

Then this past year or so, I saw a picture of a tornado. Having lived in Texas when I was a kid, and having survived a few tornado’s I am familiar with their power and destructiveness. I saw this picture of a tornado and I had an epiphany. The revelation was; we fear tornado’s, earthquakes, volcano’s, hurricanes, and other natural disasters. We fear nuclear power, the power plants as well as the bombs. We fear these things. We tremble, we panic, we run in terror over these things, yet we don’t fear God? We are taught not to fear God, but it’s okay to fear those things. Are you serious?! That would make the earth smarter than us as it is written in Nah 1:5 that the mountains quake and the hills melt (or dissolve) before him. I did find in Proverbs, that “fear of the LORD” is an idiom that means to obey him. It means to follow Torah.

In Yeshua’s service

Leaving Mitsrayim

I see and hear a lot of people saying how that we need to leave Mitsrayim, otherwise known as Egypt. The basic thought is that  the society that we live in is pagan and living contrary to the will of YHVH, so therefore a modern equivalent of Mitsrayim and therefore we need to leave. It sounds good on the surface, but what about probing a bit deeper?

Don’t get me wrong, I hate that the society that we live in is in such rebellion to YHVH and his word. The first thing that pops into my head when I think about leaving Mitsrayim, or Babylon, is that we are in the world and not of it (John 17:16 ). The next thing that enters my head is that we are light and salt. Light is important for many reasons. Light drives out the darkness, it also illuminates the way and light can be warming. With out light, we’d stumble around in the darkness and getting hurt because we can’t see. Salt is another great resource. I’m sure you’re familiar with most of salts uses. Salt works as a preserving agent, a cleaning agent, a flavoring agent. When it looses it’s saltiness is gets thrown on the ground and trampled on, or another way of putting it is, it serves as traction when on the ground. Many cities use rock salt to clear their streets of snow and ice. We as believers are compared to light and salt. We drive out darkness, we provide the light and light the way for others. We, as agents of salt, work as preserving agents. We see an example of this when Abraham intercedes for Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:16-33).

Isaiah, in his day, lived very similar to us. Isaiah lived in exile, just as we live in exile. In Is 6:5 we see Isaiah lamenting over the uncleanliness of himself, but also the people where he lived. I’m sure Isaiah wanted to go home to Israel, but just like we are salt and light, so was Isaiah in his day. We are to absolutely set ourselves apart from this world (Rom 12:1-2), but that does not mean that we are removed from Mitsrayim or Babylon. We are here for a reason, at the very least, to preserve the nation, the generation. If you remember with Abraham and Sodom and Gomorrah, YHVH was willing to spare the city if five righteous people were found. I don’t know how big the city was, but if we were to assume ten thousand people, then saving the city because of five people out of ten thousand is 0.05%. For America today, that would mean one hundred and fifty thousand righteous people.

We should have a heart that is willing to stay in order to light the way and preserve the people. YHVH’s judgement wont be stayed forever. It is coming, and we shouldn’t pray against that. We should always pray that his will would be done, and that we would not get in the way. Yet at the same time, be like Abraham trying to preserve them for as long as possible. Or like Isaiah, where we shine the light, exposing the darkness and driving out the darkness. We can’t do that if we literally leave Mitsrayim and Babylon. The time will come when we will leave, but in the mean time we need to do all we can to be light and salt.

In Yeshua’s service

Observing Passover?

Passover starts tomorrow evening at sun down. There are people all over the world preparing to celebrate Passover. Historically the Passover is a celebration of their deliverance from Egypt. More completely it’s a celebration where they remember their suffering as slaves and their deliverance from slavery and out of Egypt, but also looking forward to Messiah. For those of us who are believers in Messiah, Passover has an additional meaning. For the messianic Passover is not just remembering the bondage and slavery of Egypt and the deliverance from Egypt and looking forward to Messiah, but in addition it is also remembering our bondage to sin and our deliverance from sin because of Messiah Yeshua. We may look forward to Messiah, but not as the Jewish people do, but rather for his return. The Passover is both a solemn time of remembrance, but also a time of rejoicing as we celebrate our liberation.

But are we “observing” Passover? No. Since there is no temple, then the Passover can’t be “observed”. So then, what are we doing? Think of it like a dress rehearsal. With out the temple we can’t take the lamb to the temple to be slaughtered. So for now, Passover, as is the case with many of the feasts, we must remember that we are in captivity, we are in exile. Remember that the ten tribes were scattered to the ends of the earth and then lost their identity. They forgot who they were. The Jews didn’t forget, but the ten tribes did. So as we begin to reconnect with our brother Judah, we begin to remember our heritage and celebrating Passover and the other feasts, even though we don’t have a temple and we are still scattered and in exile, we can still rehearse. It’s about practicing, and rediscovering Torah and having it written in our hearts, longing to be obedient to Torah, the written Word of YHVH. It was our disobedience and rebellion that caused the exile. It will be when we search YHVH with all of our hearts, and demonstrate that we love him by obeying his Torah, then he will deliver us from exile. We need to show our faithfulness in keeping his Torah. So while we can’t technically “observe” Passover, we can certainly practice, or rehearse it.

Chag Pesach Sameach! Shabbat Shalom.

In Yeshua’s service

Stoning – Was this an Angry God or Typical of Ancient Near East Justice?

One objection, among many, that atheists may give is that the God of the Bible is a cruel God, and that he expected us to stone those who disobeyed. The Christian will point to the New Testament where an adulterous woman was brought before Jesus (John 8:1-11). What most misconstrue as grace (which really means approval), or kindness of Jesus, seem to forget that the pharisees tried over and over again to trip Jesus up and failed. The reason Jesus took no judgmental action against her was a couple reasons; for one, the man was not brought with her, and two there were not two or three witnesses.

In order to better answer this I had to look at other cultures in the Ancient Near East as a comparison. I began with the code of Hummurabi, which lead me to the various cultures and the justice systems of the Ancient Near East. Hummurabi was a ruler from circa 1792 to 1750 BCE. The code of Hummurabi was one of several sets of laws in the Ancient Near East. The code of Ur Nammu is from circa 2100 to 2050 BCE. The laws of Eshnunna are from circa 1930 BCE. The code of Ur Nammu and the laws of Eshunna helped in forming the code of Hummurabi. The code of Ur Nammu is perhaps one of the oldest known law code surviving today. The code of Urukagina is even older than the laws of Eshunna or the code of Ur Nammu, is the code of Urukagina is from the 24th century.

The code of Urukagina, while being the earliest of laws or codes and is heralded as being the first to reform government, seeking a higher form equality and freedom, is also noted for making polygamy or polyandry illegal on pain of the woman, taking multiple husbands, being stoned to death with rocks. Another statute says “if a woman says [text illegible] to man, her mouth is crushed with burnt bricks”. These two laws demonstrate that in the culture of the Ancient Near East, it was common to stone someone to death.

The laws of Eshnunna were written on two cuneiform tablets discovered in Tell Abu Harmal, Iraq and date back to 1930 BCE. The laws of Eshnunna were written in Akkadian. The laws were written in a way where it was intended to be memorized. Most of the laws of Eshnunna were penalized with fines. For the more serious offenses, such as burglary, murder and sexual crimes, the penalty was death. As with other laws and codes of the time and region, stoning was often used to carry out death sentences.

The code of Hammurabi was a set of laws from ancient Mesopotamia, dating back to 1754 BCE. The law consists of two hundred and eighty two laws with scaled punishments. About half the law deals with contracts covering matters such as salaries, while other laws set the liability of the owner or builder. You can read the translated Code of Hammurabi for yourself here.

The Torah was given to Moses circa 1312 BCE. I would assert that the Torah took a lot of the laws and customs and regulated them and made them fair. The term, eye for an eye, didn’t necessarily mean you pluck out the offenders eye, but rather about a state of equality and fairness. People say that the Bible, Torah, endorses slavery. I would disagree. I would say that the Bible, Torah, put terms and conditions on slavery to ensure the slave would be treated fairly. It should also be noted that slave as described in the Torah could be what most of us would call work. A person might be a slave if they owed money. They would then work until it’s paid off. In the Torah, a slave, or worker, had the choice of continuing to serve his master, or boss.

Just as in the laws and codes above, the Torah also used stoning as a way to administer capital punishment. While the code of Urukagina had laws about smashing a woman’s mouth as a form of punishment, the Torah has no such law. A lot of our laws today come from the Torah. The Torah did not have the concept of prison as a form of punishment. While other countries, such as Egypt, used prisons, the Torah gives no instructions on imprisonment. The Torah brings compassion, equality and fairness into the law in how a person was to be treated. Stoning, in the Torah, was reserved for only the most serious of offenses. Even then, it had to be witnessed by two to three others.

Here is a forty-eight page document that contrasts and compares the laws and codes above against the Torah. I’d highly recommend reading it. You may also find this list of ancient codes and laws of interest.

 

In Yeshua’s service

Getting Rid of the Leavening

Since this coming Passover will be my second Passover, I am still very new to all this and subsequently unsure of details. One such detail was the leavening. Since I like to cook and bake, and I also live on a fixed income due to disabilities, I buy things like a jar of yeast, a can of baking powder and of course baking soda. Those are all leavening agents. I understand that it’s impossible to completely get rid of yeast, since yeast is in the air we breath. So as I was pondering this and about getting rid of the leavening agents, I consulted a friend who gave me his insights. As we were talking though, I realized that I was looking for a way to justify not getting rid of the leavening agents. In other words, I was looking for a way to justify my rebellion. Then it hit me. The leavening agents represent sin, and how pervasive sin is. It gets everywhere. It infects everything. And we so often don’t want to give up our sin. Often times we like our sin and want to keep our sin, so we try to justify our sin.

While last weeks Torah portion was on ritual uncleanness due to bodily functions, this weeks Torah portion, Metzora | מצורע | “Leper “, deals with leprosy, obviously, but the leprosy is due to a spiritual condition and ties in with lashon hara, a.k.a. “evil tongue”. Maybe you’re thinking, but that old law stuff was done away with. I don’t have to do that. The apostle Paul considered it important enough that he wrote about it. In Phil 4:8 he urges us to keep our minds off of things that are not of God and to keep our minds on all that is pure and noble. My mom was forever reminding me of this with; if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. At the time, growing up, it drove me crazy. Now, now that I have grown up and I understand lashon hara, now I understand the lesson that was being taught.

It’s so easy to spread stories that we’ve heard. Maybe they’re true, and maybe they’re not. Most of the time we get the story third hand…At best. Yet we happily pass it along. Maybe because we don’t like the person, and the story fits with our feelings. Maybe it’s for other reasons, but very rarely do we have first person access to what’s going on, so we don’t know all the sides. Even if we are first person, we have a tendency to tell others. Maybe it seemed innocently enough. Maybe you were trying to see the wisdom of a friend. Be very careful with whom you share information with. Matt 18 lays out a process to resolving issues that are clearly wrong and have two to three witnesses. Even if it’s a small matter and no witnesses, you should always try to work it out among yourselves first. If that fails, and there are no witnesses, then going to an elder would be the next step. An elder does not mean someone who agrees with you. It means someone who is mature in the knowledge of scripture. After all, if you’re just going to get someone who agrees with you, then you’re not really solving anything, but instead turning it into a power play.

In Leviticus 14:1 through 15:33 we see that no only is it dealing with a skin condition, but also what we might call mold or fungus in a home. Today, when homes get black mold, it’s often devastating. It can be physically devastating to kids and family, it’s often expensive and difficult to get rid of and has a tendency to come back. In gyms and many bathrooms, in addition to worrying about black mold, there is also “athlete’s foot“. Athlete’s foot is a fungus that is highly contagious. We see in Leviticus, in addition to diagnosing the skin condition, it also deals with the condition in the home, and how to treat it. If you’ll notice, it is very similar to black mold. Whatever the case, whether it’s black mold in the home, or athlete’s foot, or something else, it is highly communicable and once it has set in, it can be very hard to get rid of.

What a perfect description of sin. Sin is also highly communicable, and sets in way to fast. Faster than we’d like to admit. Proverbs 9:17 describes sin as ecstasy and Proverbs 13:19 warns that fools don’t turn from it, that they get trapped in what seems good. Just like a dog returning to its vomit, so it is with a person trapped in sin. Sin can be intoxicating. While you are in its grasp, it doesn’t want to let go of you.

This example will strike a bit close to home. Sin is like the smoker. He may know he should quit, he may even want to quit, yet he still lights up. He knows the dangers of smoking, but he still smokes. Yes, it’s easy to see how that is foolish. But yet people are trapped. Whether it’s smoking, or whatever your sin, your vice is, as we approach Passover, we are commanded to get rid of all the leavening, get rid of the sin. In last weeks Torah portion, after ones ritual uncleanness, they were to bathe. In this weeks Torah portion, once one has been pronounced clean, they are to bathe (Lev 14:8). After doing all that is required, bathing and being clean for eight days, he is to offer a sacrifices. He is to offer a guilt offering and  a sin offering.

As we approach Passover and look back at the Israelite’s being led out by Moses and the hand of God, let us also remember that Yeshua is our Passover. It’s his blood that is put over the doorposts of our hearts. It is Yeshua that was our sin offering. Without Yeshua, we would not be delivered from sin (Matt 1:21). Sin is like Egypt, a harsh and unforgiving task master that only leads to death. But Yeshua, the living Torah, he is everlasting life. We can’t save ourselves. That’s impossible. Only Yeshua can save us, and to the one who believes, has saved us.

If you wish to know more about Matt 1:21, I wrote an article about it.

 

In Yeshua’s service

God of Order

All throughout scripture, beginning in Genesis 1 and continuing throughout the Bible, it is easy to see that God is a god of order. In the creation week, we can see that God methodically, step by step, did each phase, each day of creation. Later on in Leviticus we see how God meticulously gives instructions for the tabernacle, for the ark of the covenant, for the candle stand (menorah), for the priestly garments, etc and so on. Every detail is given. God also details how we are to worship him.

Many people today think that they can worship God when and how they want. They often justify it by saying “God knows my heart”. Yes! God does know your heart. In Jer 17:9 it says the heart is deceitful and wicked above all things, who can know it? We like to think that we can come before a righteous, holy God and do things our way. That just because he knows our heart, that it makes it okay.

Nadab and Abihu also thought they could do it their way and paid for it with their lives. When king Saul disobeyed, the lineage of ruling Israel was removed from him. Most Christians quote Hosea 4:6. Well, the first part anyway. Hosea 4:6 says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” The “knowledge” that is being referred to here is knowledge about the law, about Torah. So because people don’t know the law, Torah, people perish. People perish because they violate God’s Torah and then incur the curse for their disobedience (see Deut 28). Scripture makes it clear that we are not to worship any other gods. We are told, quite frequently, to “remember the sabbath and keep it holy” (Ex 20:8). Usually, when reminding us to keep the sabbath, we are also reminded that God made the heavens and the earth in six days (Ex 31:17), and just as he rested on the seventh, so we are too. 

When we are courting, or dating, we don’t say things like, “You know my heart”. We don’t say that because, even if they did know, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s an excuse and a copout. No, when we are dating or courting, we take the time to study, to find out what the like and don’t like. We take the time to please them. Yet we don’t do this with God, YHVH. Instead we use the excuse, the copout, that he knows our hearts. While it is true that he knows our hearts, it’s important that we follow his commands, his instructions.

God was very careful and explicit when he gave us the instructions. He wanted us to be set apart from others. Yet if we just copout and say that he knows our hearts, then we are not set apart, and actually become defiled and profane his name, his character. So yes, you can do it your way and copout and say that he knows your heart. But also understand that just like in a court of law, no judge would accept a copout, and neither will God. In John 12:32 we are reminded that if Yeshua is lifted up, then he will draw all men unto him. Yeshua was careful to keep the whole of Torah and exalt and lift up his father in heaven. I often hear people say that they’re trying to walk as Jesus/Yeshua walked, but then when it comes to following the instructions that YHVH gave, they copout and misquote and misrepresent Yeshua and the apostle Paul by saying “The law/Torah is done away with”. Basically what we have are people professing to follow Yeshua, but when it comes to YHVH’s commands it’s “that was done away with”.

We need to remember, to understand, that YHVH divorced Israel because of her idolatry. Israel went whoring, following after other gods. Maybe you think, but I’m not following other gods. Really? Who’s in control? Who’s rule are you following? Even in the first century the religious leaders of the day falsely accused Yeshua, Stephen and the apostle Paul of teaching against the Torah. In the book of Acts we can see Stephen’s accusations as well as Stephen’s defense. Later on we see Paul being accused of the same thing, not just once either. No, Paul was accused at least three times in the book of Acts. It’s ironic that the church today is doing the same thing the religious leaders in the first century did. We need to remember that we serve a righteous and holy God, and that he set up the rules on how to worship him. When we disregard his rules, then we profane his name, and spit of his rules. It’s as if we sit in a throne above God, and say that we don’t need his rules. That our way is better. That’s the same thing Lucifer did when he was cast out of heaven. Do you really think that God is going to welcome you in, when you are doing the same thing Lucifer was thrown out for? It’s not about our way. It’s about God, YHVH, and doing it his way. The only question is, are you going to humble yourself and follow his rules? Or are you going to continue being stiff necked, arrogant and rebellious? Your choice.

 

In Yeshua’s service

 

A Tangled Mess

Have you ever come across a really gnarly knot? I mean the kind of knot that you just know can’t be untangled by anyone? I can remember as a kid I would take cord and such and tie up my brother and sister, and then we’d see if we could get out of it. They would also tie me up and watch me get out. While I’m fairly decent with cord, smaller stuff, like string, forget about it.

The other day I had washed my clothes and in with it was my tzitzits. I had left them tied on to my belt loops. When I got them out, the tzitzits were all twisted and knotted up. At first I thought about throwing them out, but as the day wore on, and I worked on the knots, gradually they came undone.

Life is a lot like that. Our lives get all tangled up from the various lies that we believe. Some are told to us by our family. Some by our friends. No matter who, we all have a tangled knot of lies that makes up our life. When we come across truth, the lie that we believe becomes exposed. I can remember in high school as I worked in photography, one skill we’d have to learn was rolling film. If we didn’t roll it right, the film would touch each other, and would develop a chemical residue on all film that was touching. This was called “burning the roll”. It looked like coffee creamer stuck on the negatives. When I was rolling film, sometimes I’d roll it in a pure dark room. The room was maybe the size of a shower. When you closed the door, it was absolutely dark. You might as well be blind. You had to rely on your sense of touch in order to roll the film.

My point in all this is that when we come across truth, it always exposes a lie. The only way to untangle all the knots, from all the lies we believe, is by gradually working it with truth. Sometimes, that means you have to go at it from another angle, in order to untangle a knot, a lie. Once you get one lie untangled, you have hundreds more to go. It’s a continual process. This is why we need to continually renew our minds, as Rom 12:2 says.

Some people prefer the lies, the deception, the tangled mess of knots, that they have for a life. Usually people are like this because they fear the change, the unknown. They’ve gotten comfortable with the way things are. Another reason why people prefer the tangled mess of knots they have for a life, is because of hopelessness and depression. They don’t believe that things will change. They think they are to messed up. While these people need the truth, they also need a certain gentleness when applying the truth.

 

In Yeshua’s service

Pride and Arguing

With in the body of Messiah, there is a group who profess to be Torah observant, but like to argue. We like to argue about the name, we argue about this and that, but it’s definitely true that we like to argue. Consequently, we have a tendency to bash other believers. We like to think we are so smart, so educated. We want to show our prowess, in our research and what we have learned. But we have forgotten the fruit of the Ruach, Gal 5:22-23.

While zeal can be a good thing, we must be careful that pride does not creep in and overtake us and undermine us. What good does it do to share the word of God, if while we’re doing it we are cramming it down peoples throats? All that does is repulse people and cause them to go the other direction.

The whole point of Torah is love. Love your neighbor as yourself Lev 19, and love YHVH with all your heart, soul and might. But when we argue and cram Torah down peoples throat, they don’t see the beauty of Torah, they don’t see the love. All they see is that Christianity has been right, that the God of the Old Testament is a harsh and unloving God.

Easter just passed. As usual there were a lot of memes that went out about how pagan Easter is. Do you think that the Christians out there were like; Hey, yeah. Easter is pagan. I better stop. Or do you think that they just tuned out the memes and ignored it? I can tell you for  a fact, that most Christians ignored it.

I also saw one where someone went and confronted a pastor, in front of the children, for the Easter egg hunt. Again, I ask you, what effect do you think this will have? The effect of, oh you’re right. I better repent. Or maybe a great disdain and repulsion? I can tell you, it was the latter. The person who went and argued the pastor in front of those kids felt good about themselves. They felt they were in the right. This persons friends reinforced this belief. So neither party saw or recognized their sin. Both parties continue in their sins. Is this how God wants us to spread his word?

We need to have zeal and spread his word. We need to take the time and study. But when we share what we’ve studied, we need to share in a ruach of gentleness and humility, not “Let me shove this down your throat. You will do Torah”. This is not the way of Messiah.

We like to argue whether the earth is a globe or whether it’s flat, and both sides use scripture to back themselves up, often times the same sets of scriptures. Is Messiah pleased with this? I tell you the truth, it breaks Messiah’s heart.

Do you not know that hasatan has placed these issues here to divide and distract us. For the most part, it’s working. It is causing divisions and it is certainly a distraction from what we should be doing which is making known the beauty, the grace, the mercy of Torah. Many Christians think that there is no grace in Torah. Many Christians think there is no mercy in Torah. We have a wonderful opportunity to show Christians the real beauty of Torah. All to often though, our pride gets in the way as we start to show how much we know, how much we’ve researched, and we shove it down their throats, causing them to never want anything to do with it again.

We need to repent. We need to stop trying to witness, sharing, in our own strength. Because it’s doing this that is repulsing people. We need to stop being so arrogant, so prideful, thinking we’re so right. We need to repent of this pride, this argumentative spirit, and put on the ruach of humility.

Yes, we need to share the truth. Prophets were charged with delivering God’s messages to his people. If they changed anything that God said, they were a false prophet. The same is true today. But it’s not just what God said, but also how he said it. We must learn to take on his character, when we share the truth. It doesn’t do any good if we share the truth, but don’t share his character.

Let us endeavour to not only share the truth, but also his character. That people, we they look at us, see YHVH in us, and not ourselves.

 

In Yeshua’s service

The Sinners Prayer

In Christianity, when one comes to accept Jesus into their hearts, they are typically led through the sinner’s prayer. The sinner’s prayer may have originated as early as the protestant reformation, but more likely it originated in the early twentieth century and was made prominent in the twentieth century by people and organizations such as Billy Graham and Campus Crusade for Christ. An example of this prayer would be;

Billy Graham
Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name.

According to Got Questions.org the prayer is broken into two aspects. The first aspect is to recognize that you are a sinner (Romans 3:10; Titus 3:5-7; Matthew 25:46). The second aspect is understanding what God has done to reconcile you to himself through the atoning work of Jesus (John 1:1,14; John 8:46; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 5:8; Colossians 2:15; 1 Corinthians 15; Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8).

The problem with this is that the people who pray this have no understanding of the contract, or covenant. It’s like agreeing to a contract with out having read it. Christians often refer to the new covenant, thinking the old has been done away with. Subsequently they erroneously think that the law, or Torah is done away with.

So let’s start with the covenants. Before we get into the actual covenants, I find it good if we have an understanding first. Covenants are very much like legal contracts, as such they can be amended, ratified or repealed. I think, that as we go through this, you’ll see that the covenants are all built from the first. That is to say they are amended. In Mal 3:6 it says that God never changes; “For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed”, this is echoed in Heb 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”. Another thing to understand is that God tests us, to see if we’ll be faithful to him and the covenant Deut 13:1-5. God also, when changing, establishing, or in any way altering the covenant, he always does so through his prophets Amos 3:7.  I find wikipedia does a fair job at documenting the covenants and remaining neutral and impartial. The Jewish Encyclopedia doesn’t list all the covenants, but is another good resource. Catholic Resources is another site that also covers covenants.

In the paragraph above I listed a few websites that go over the covenants in scripture. I did this so that you can do your own research, but also so that I can talk about, cover the covenants I want to spend time on, rather than covering in detail each of the covenants. What I wish to cover is the Abrahamic covenant, the Mosaic covenant and the New or Renewed covenant.

In the Abrahamic covenant we see God promising to not just make Abram a father, but a father of nations (Gen 12:1-3, 7; Gen 13:14-17). The covenant was for Abram to leave his land, the land of his father and ancestors, and to go to a land where God will show him. Because Abram obeyed, God renews his covenant with Abram. In Gen 22:18 we see God promises that all the nations shall be blessed because of his obedience. This verse hints at the messiah. In Gen 26:5 we see God reaffirming his covenant that he made with Abraham, now with Isaac. We see God testifying that Abraham obeyed God’s charge/mishmereth, commands/mitsvah, statutes/chuqqah and law/torah. Now if you think of the torah as being given at Mount Sinai, by Moses, then you need to start asking questions. Questions like, how did Cain and Able know how to properly perform sacrifices? How did people know what was clean and unclean food? The torah had been passed on orally over the generations.  While Abraham did not live to see the complete fulfillment of what God promised, Abraham had two sons; Ishmael and Isaac. Through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we see the beginning of what is to become the nation of Israel.

Because of the resentment of Joseph by his brothers, they sell him into slavery in Egypt. His brothers didn’t know that it was providence for Joseph go on ahead. Because of God being with Joseph, he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and had wisdom to prepare for the famine and not just save his family and Egypt, but the entire region. Joseph had his entire family move down to Egypt where they multiplied, but also where Pharaoh forgets what Joseph had done and is harsh to the children of Israel. This sets the stage for Moses.

It’s important to remember as we move from covenant to covenant, that none of the previous covenants are done away with or nullified (Gal 3:17-19). This is also true with the New or Renewed covenant. In essence the Mosaic covenant is like a ketubah, a marriage contract. God, very carefully, very specifically, lays out how we are to love him and love our neighbor, or fellow man. God details the tabernacle, the material to build it, the specifications, the utensils, to the priestly garments, to money and court proceedings and so on. It’s very detailed. God is a god of order, and he spells it out for us just how to worship him and love him. He makes it clear that he prefers obedience rather than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22; Hosea 6:6; more cross references). Once we begin to see how that the various covenants are really the same covenant but with amendments, just like the United States Constitution, then things fall into place.

Maybe you’re wondering why I keep saying “New or Renewed” covenant. It’s simple really. In Hebrew thought, there really isn’t a concept for new, but rather renew, much like the “new moon”. We don’t literally get a new moon, but rather the lunar cycle starts again. It is “renewed”. New or renewed can also mean fresh, according to the dictionary and concordance. H2319 can mean new or fresh. In the definition they mention a “new king”, it’s not new as in never happened before, but new/renewed as in the cycle continues.

One thing that is important to understand is that before the children of Israel entered the promised land, Moses warned them, prophesied to them that they were going to break the covenant that they agreed to with YHVH, and as a consequence they would be scattered through out the earth (see The latter half of Deut 28). We see again and again throughout the books of the Bible that the children of Israel would fall away, fall into sin and rebellion, become oppressed as a result, and then would cry out to be saved. We can see this in books like Judges, 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, and so on. It was very cyclic. When God saved them, they’d be thankful and obedient for a while, but then they’d forget and then once again sin. God would send prophets to warn them and plead with them to repent, but they would ignore God and the prophets. Consequently it caused the scattering of Israel. While this is sad, it is also the beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy that God gave Abraham and spoke through Moses. Because of the scattering, all nations were blessed. Because of the scattering, the gospel was and is preached unto all peoples, throughout the earth.

Another thing to understand is that due to Israel’s rebellion and sin God divorced Israel (see Jer 3:8 as well as these other cross references ). But this creates a catch 22. According to God’s own law, his own Torah, once you have divorced your wife, you can not remarry her as it is an abomination (see Deut 24:4 ). But if God doesn’t remarry Israel, then he breaks his promise with Abraham. So how is he going to solve this? Paul, in Romans 7, talks about how that the married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive. This is why Yeshua/Jesus, had to die. By dying the married woman who was divorced, is free and can remarry. So by Yeshua dying, he frees us from the bondage of sin, set up Israel so she can remarry her groom, YHVH. And YHVH who had divorced Israel earlier, is now free to legally remarry his bride and keeps his promise to Abraham. This, is the good news! This is the gospel! The new, or renewed, covenant, we can see in Jer 31:31-34 that God makes a renewed covenant with Israel. This covenant he writes his law/Torah, on our hearts.

Replacement theology is a dangerous heresy that is widely taught in Christianity. God makes it very clear in Jer 31:36If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever.” God has not abandoned Israel. God has not discarded Israel in favor of “The Church”. Gal 3:29 makes it clear that we become the seed of Abraham. If we are Abraham’s seed, descendants, then that makes the Torah relevant for us as well. By becoming Abraham’s descendants, we become Israel, which then makes the Torah just as much for us as it is for the Jews and for the nation of Israel.

So earlier I was talking about the sinners prayer, I don’t like the sinners prayer because people are lead into this prayer with out knowing the contract, the ketubah. I also don’t like the sinners prayer because it’s something people can just recite. I have always been at odds with the sinners prayer. I also don’t like cherry picking verses. When I lead my friend to Christ, to Messiah, back in high school, I did not lead him through the sinners prayer. Instead I told him to just talk to God from his heart and to confess his sins. Prayer tends to work better when one prays from their heart. However, scripture does give us some great examples. I think that for the “sinners prayer” that Psalm 51 and Neh 1:5-11 work much better.

Here is Psalm 51

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

 Here is Neh 1:5-11

I beseech thee, O LORD God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments: Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father’s house have sinned. We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there. Now these are thy servants and thy people, whom thou hast redeemed by thy great power, and by thy strong hand. O Lord, I beseech thee, let now thine ear be attentive to the prayer of thy servant, and to the prayer of thy servants, who desire to fear thy name: and prosper, I pray thee, thy servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man

It’s not just about praying and inviting Yeshua/Jesus into your heart, but repentance as well. Repentance means to turn back. If we look in scripture, the prophets always called God’s people to repentance, back to the Torah. Many think that Jesus did away with the Torah, but in Jesus own words he said he did not come to do away with the law/Torah or the prophets (see Matt 5:17-19).

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In Yeshua’s service

Pain

Most of us have experienced pain in a variety of ways, and most of us don’t like pain. In the military they say that pain is weakness leaving the body. Another saying about pain from the military is that pain lets you know you’re still alive. While I don’t know about the first statement, the second one is  certainly true. Pain serves as a warning, like if you put your hand on a hot stove, it’s the pain that tells you to remove your hand. Leprosy is a disease where you can’t feel the pain. People with leprosy can stick their hands on a hot stove and not know it. So yes, pain is a protector and let’s us know we’re still alive.

This isn’t the only role pain has either. Pain serves as a contrast. In art contrast is very important, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to distinguish or separate shapes and characteristics. If it wasn’t for pain we wouldn’t know what happiness is. We’d have no way to distinguish what is pleasant compared to that which isn’t. We need pain so that we can appreciate the good, the joy in life.

Then there are those who deal with chronic pain, either emotionally or physically. With people who experience almost constant pain, things are often reversed. Things like relief and joy become so rare it’s almost mythical. The pain goes on day after day, month after month, year after year, with no relief. Just more pain. It’s not uncommon for people with chronic pain, either emotional or physical, to despair, to loose hope. Every day you have to fight, claw and cling to that small strand of hope in order to make it through the day.

Yet even in the midst of all the chronic pain, some are able to take those brief moments in time where they experience joy and relief, and treasure it like a rare diamond. That’s not to say they don’t struggle with despair, just that they appreciate the good times so much more that it becomes like a rare and precious gem.

Maybe you have known someone with cancer or whatever their illness is that causes chronic pain, and you wondered how they can be so happy, so joyful, and at peace. It’s because they’ve learned to treasure the good times that they’ve been given, and they’ve learned to be content in all things. They still have their moments when they falter and despair over takes them…for a moment, but then they get a breather and press on. Those who haven’t learned to treasure the good times, who haven’t learned to be content, are the ones who are overtaken by despair and often become victims of suicide. It’s easy to have tunnel vision and only see the pain, the bad things in life, and feel like the universe took a dump on you. It’s easy to think that you got a raw deal, but then that’s the trap.

I hope that this little piece gives someone some hope. Pain isn’t bad. It helps us to appreciate the good things all the more.

 

In Yeshua’s service

Grace

Let me talk for a minute about the absurdity of how mainstream Christianity defines grace. Mainstream Christianity defines grace as unmerited favor, but when you look at scripture this doesn’t hold up. Most Christians are familiar with “The Roman Road”. It’s a process of walking an unbeliever through the book of Romans to show the unbeliever that they have sinned and that no matter what they do, they can’t earn salvation, that they can’t ever be good enough to earn God’s approval for salvation. For example;

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rom 3:10 is a quote of Is 64:6 which says “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”

Now if grace is favor, unmerited favor, then how can our best works be as filthy rags?

Merriam Webster defines grace as:

  1. 1a:  unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification b:  a virtue coming from God c:  a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace

  2. 2a:approval, favor<stayed in his good graces>barchaic:mercy, pardonc:  a special favor :privilege<each in his place, by right, not grace, shall rule his heritage — Rudyard Kipling>d:  disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency e:  a temporary exemption :reprieve

The etymology of grace comes from 12th century France “pardon, divine grace, mercy; favor, thanks; elegance, virtue”, which came from Latin gratia “favor, esteem, regard; pleasing quality, good will, gratitude”, which came from the Greek charis “pleasing, agreeable”. What etymology online doesn’t tell you is that the Greek word charis comes from the Hebrew word chen, Strong’s H2580.

There is a rule in hermeneutics called “The Law of First Mention“, which means; “the principle that requires one to go to that portion of the Scriptures where a doctrine is mentioned for the first time and to study the first occurrence of the same in order to get the fundamental inherent meaning of that doctrine”. To put it simply, the first time a word is used, say like grace, weighs heavily on the definition. Or to put it another way, the definition is determined by the first usage. The first time we see grace, chen, used in scripture is Gen 6:8But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. How did Noah get the approval of YHVH? If we read on, we are told how. In Gen 6:9These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God. So we can see that it was his righteousness that earned him this approval, but we also have a problem, what is righteousness?

Righteousness is the Hebrew word tsedeq, Strong’s H6662. In the Greek it’s dikaios, Strong’s G1342, and means just in the eyes of God, or right standing with God. 1 John 3:12 shows us the contrast, by showing us that Cain was not in right standing with God, which means that Able was. See Gen 4 for the account. 1 John 3:4 defines what sin is, breaking the law, or Torah. 1 John 3:4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. So we can deduce from this that righteousness is keeping the law or Torah, where as breaking the law or Torah is sin or unrighteousness. We can further deduce that those who are righteous, who keep the law or Torah, have grace or approval. But then we end up right back at Rom 3:10 and Is 64:6, as I mentioned above, that there is none righteous and our best works are as filthy rags. So if we don’t have approval, grace, by our works, then who has this approval? To answer this I looked at Eph 2:8 which says, we are saved by grace through faith, not of works lest anyone should boast. But again, if we replace the word grace with it’s meaning, approval, in Eph 2:8 then it becomes we are saved by approval…. We know it’s not by our approval. Rom 3:23 makes that clear. So then whose approval? There is only one who was perfect and sinless, and that Jesus, Yeshua. So I paraphrased Eph 2:8 to this; I am saved by YHVH’s approval of Yeshua’s work on the cross, and by His loving kindness (chesed), through my faith in Yeshua’s work on the cross, and I am not saved by any works I do, unless it cause me to vainly boast

Between chen and charis, there are over two hundred occurrences in scripture that show that grace is never, ever, unmerited. Lot was shown mercy because of Abraham. Abraham had grace in the sight of God. There is not one single occasion in scripture in which you will ever find unmerited grace.

Matthew Vander Els, teacher and pastor of Founded in Truth Ministries, did a teaching on grace.

Steve Berkson from M.T.O.I. did a series called; “In Search for the Doctrine of Grace“. It’s a 14 part series, in which Steve covers every single occurrence of chen and charis, and puts the occurrences in context by reading an entire chapter or two to gain the context.

Again, I could go on about this and cover every word for grace and every occurrence, but then that would be a book. I have included links and references so that you can follow up on it yourself.

 

In Yeshua’s service

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Prayer

Prayer is one of those things where even if you are not a believer, you’ve probably prayed at least once. Usually we pray when we are desperate, pleading and making deals in order to obtain a favorable outcome. But is this what prayer is? Is prayer something where we plead and make deals with “the man upstairs” or “pie in the sky”? Or is it something else?

Perhaps a primary Aramaic word for pray is tsela, however, it only occurs two times in scripture; Ez 6:10 and Dan 6:10. It means to bow or to prostrate ones self. Tsela seems to paint a picture of humility and dependence. It points directly to our next word, palal.

Another Hebrew word for pray is palal and it means to intervene or interpose or interceded. We see an example of this in Gen 20:7, where Abimelech was told by God to return Sarah, Abraham’s wife, to Abraham and that Abraham would palal, intercede for Abimelech and his nation. To intercede, is to stand in the gap. So while tsela describes not only our physical position, for those who are physically able to prostrate themselves, it should also reflect ones heart. As we humbly come before YHVH with humility and dependence on YHVH for life itself, and we make supplication, not just for ourselves, but intercede for others, much like the high priest would intercede for the people of Israel once a year.

Athar is the Hebrew word for supplicate. This word occurs twenty times in scripture, and it first appears in Gen 25:21. We see Isaac praying, entreating YHVH on behalf of his wife, Rebekah, since she was barren. So we can see a process forming, where Isaac, I’m sure, prostrated himself before YHVH, he then palal’s, or intervenes on Rebekah’s behalf and makes his athar, or supplication, known.

Anna is another Hebrew word related to prayer that means beseech, which means to implore urgently. Anna can also mean to beg and occurs thirteen times in scripture. The first time it’s used is in Gen 50:17. We see Joseph’s brothers sending a messenger to Joseph, since they feared that Joseph would take revenge on them for what they did years ago. They said that Jacob had said that Joseph was to forgive his brothers. While Jacob didn’t say that, it shows how afraid his brothers were, but also how little they knew Joseph. But the word in verse seventeen could be translated as beg. His brothers were begging, anna, for forgiveness.

Tephillah is another Hebrew word for prayer and comes from palal. This word is used quite a lot in scripture. It occurs seventy-seven times, with it’s first occurrence 2 Sam 7:27.

Maybe at this point you think I just put you through a vocabulary lesson. While you wouldn’t be entirely wrong, I feel it’s important to understand these words so that we can have a better understanding of prayer. These Hebrew words paint a picture of prayer and what prayer is. I’ve said before that prayer is like having a conversation. As a result, not only do you need to make your requests known, but you also take time to listen. While that does describe prayer, it really isn’t adequate. From the Hebrew words above we know that prayer is something where we are prostrate before YHVH our King, but what if you can’t be physically prostrate? Maybe due to an injury or disability, or maybe you are driving while you’re praying. But we can be prostrate in our hearts, with our attitude, to come humbly before our great King. But it’s not just about being prostrate either. Part of being prostrate is deep introspection, as we come before YHVH. We need to take the time to examine ourselves, as we enter into prayer as 2 Cor 13:5 and Is 1:18 say. The KJV doesn’t translate Is 1:18 very well. It’s better translated as “Come let me convict you of guilt. Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow”. But even when we do prostrate ourselves before God, that’s not all that’s needed. We still haven’t addressed what to pray about and how.

This is where the word palal comes in to play. From above we know that palal means to intercede. Our first example of intersession in Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah. We also see an example, in Abraham’s prayer, of fear. The account is found in Gen 18:22-33. What’s interesting about this is that not only is Abraham interceding but he is also begging, which from above, we can see that that’s the Hebrew word for anna. Yet Yeshua warns us not to be like the heathen with our vain repetitions Matt 6:7. We see many examples of palal throughout the scriptures. Moses intercedes for the people, the prophets intercede for the nation of Israel numerous times, yet in Jer 7:16, Jer 11:14 and Jer 14:11 warns us not to pray for those whom YHVH is judging. We are warned not to interfere with God’s discipline, or the consequences of a persons sin. We can pray that they learn the lesson, but not that it would be lessened or softened.

What’s interesting about the word athar, which from above, we see means supplicate, ties in with worship, as we see in Ex 10:18. The high priests would make supplication, first for themselves and then for the people, the nation (2 Sam 24:18-25 1 Chron 21:18-30, Heb 5:1-10). In the Greek, the best match for supplication is deasis. We see in Rom 10, starting with verse one, how that Paul is praying, making supplication for Israel, that they would be “saved”. In Eph 6:18-20 we see how we are to be continually making supplication before God, and that it immediately follows the famous passage on the armor of God in regards to spiritual warfare.  Supplication could be said to be making our requests, our needs, known to God. In 1 Tim 2:1-8 we see Paul exhorting Timothy, and us as a body of believers, to prayer in general, in supplications and intercessions.

Prayer should be like taking a breath. Something we do automatically, but yet something that if we stop doing, we’ll die. Scripture is full of prayers, and give us great examples and models for us today. Psalm 51 is a great prayer about forgiveness. Neh 1:5-11 is a prayer that not only includes forgiveness but also intercession and supplication. There are many examples in scripture for prayer, way to many to list.

Sanhedrin 44 bSanhedrin 107 a and b, Sanhedrin 95 a and b, Sanhedrin 101 b talks about prayer and what it means and the scriptures that go with it. I encourage you to check it out for yourself. While I gave the definition of tephillah above, I found this article enlightening and interesting. This is a large subject and I will probably write more on this subject. It’s far to vast to cover all of it in one writing.

 

In Yeshua’s service