Feast of Tabernacles Celebration 2015
II. What is a Blood Moon?
Here’s an interesting tidbit to consider: our moon shines only because the rays of the sun are reflected off the surface of the moon. If the sun is darkened, as noted in the first part of the Joel prophecy, it would stand to reason that the sun would shine either. Consider this prophecy of Ezekiel that seems to capture this same event but from a slightly different perspective: And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give her light.1 (Eze 32:7 KJV) Even though we adhere to scripture as the basis for our understanding the world and the things associated with it, we must also employ the commonsense that the Good Lord has given us when establishing such natural events as tetrads, eclipses, both solar and lunar. Before there was the level of understanding that we have today regarding astronomy and the hard sciences, people would look upon these naturally occurring, celestial events, as omens. And God-forbid if anything bad remotely happened near or after the time of an eclipse or blood moon, the people were led astray by the religious leaders of the day to believe that the bad thing that happened was foretold by the occurrence of the celestial event. Are some of us falling for the same medieval mindset today as it relates to these tetrads and the so-called blood moons?
III. Is the Current Tetrad Indicative of Coming Judgment?
All indications from the data that we’ve reviewed thus far would suggests that the current tetrad as well as the other set of 3-tetrads from 1492, 1948 and 1967 were not the famed blood moon that was foretold of in the Joel prophecy. Notice I said blood moon in the singular. The reddened moon spoken of in the Joel prophecy seems to be a single event and not multiple tetrad events spread out over the course of decades, centuries and even millennia. In fact, THE blood moon spoken of by the prophet Joel would not be an eclipse, but a moon that is reddened for some reason—be those reasons something in the realm of the miraculous or an atmospheric condition that paints the moon a blood color from the perspective of the viewer.
Archaeologist, author and Hebrew Roots teacher Michael Rood in his book “The Mystery of Iniquity” and his most recent DVD teaching series on the subject—”Blood Moons, The Shmittah and the Day of the Vengeance of our God”—contends that the blood moon as mentioned in the Joel prophecy is an atmospheric condition, the result of war and the use of conventional and nuclear weapons. In other words, the resulting smoke and explosive residue in the air and sky, left behind by advanced weapons of war at the end times, will cause the moon to appear a blood-red color. Personally, I tend to agree with Michael because of the context in which the Joel prophecy seems to be taking place. Father, through Joel, seems to be referencing a time in the future when the elements will be shaken and fear and destruction will be the rule of the day. Sounds awfully like some kind of major conflict, even war-like conflict to me. To be honest and fair, however, there are those like Hebraic Roots Teacher and founder of Biblical Foundations Academy International Keith Johnson, who believe that the blood moon, the darkening of the sun and moon and the falling stars of the Joel prophecy are going to be manifestations of Father’s power and might. I respect that perspective and believe that Keith has as much a point as that of Michael. I respect both men’s opinions on this issue.
Additionally, the prophecy of Joel seems to be referencing a time in the future when Father’s precious Holy Spirit will fall upon the peoples of Zion and cause their sons and daughters to prophecy and the old men to dream dreams and the young men to see visions. As much as we might like to believe this is occurring today, but limiting this occurring in the evangelical-charismatic Christian churches of the United States, I believe that interpretation to be very myopic and to a small degree, anti-semitic. Whether we choose to believe it or not, Israel—I’m addressing the Jews and the people of Ephraim—will experience a Holy Spirit resurgence that promises to overshadow anything that churchianity has witnessed in the last two or three centuries. Let’s be honest, this has not yet occurred and as far as I can tell, this event doesn’t seem likely to occur anytime soon. The Jewish nation of Israel remains as secularly-centric as it’s ever been in its history. The nations of Ephraim are just now starting to awaken to the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith and come into the fold of the True Faith that was once delivered to the first-century saints by Jesus Christ (also known as Yahshua HaMashiyach). It’s going to take a monumentally miraculous act of the Father’s Spirit to turn the hearts of the Jew and the Lost Tribes of Israel back to Him. When that happens, then we will likely see the the Joel prophecy and the Blood Moons prophecy manifested.
IV. What About the Shmittah?
Now, I don’t want to spend much time at all on this whole “Shmittah” controversy, that seems to be so intricately tied to this “Blood Moon” controversy. Bottom line saints, this Shmittah controversy seems to have taken on a life of its own. We have various church and religious leaders, who have never wanted to have anything to do with the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith; never wanted to have anything to do with Torah; never wanted to have anything to do with Judaism, now, all of a sudden, latching on to a Torah principle. The problem with this is, if you aren’t properly grounded in Torah, but you out of the blue elect to take on Torah-related things or topics or subjects such as the Shmittah, then you are flirting with certain disaster. Certainly, this Shmittah controversy has led many a well-meaning, sincere Christian, astray, thinking that they or their nation has violated Shmittah. Again, these Torah-less leaders and teachers are teaching Torah concepts to Torah-less believers. There ain’t no good to come out of that mess if you ask me.
Let’s take a quick look at this thing. The concept of Shmittah was first conceived in Torah, found in Leviticus 25:1-7, which reads as follows: And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD.1 3 Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof; 4 But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard. 5 That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.1 6 And the sabbath of the land shall be meat for you; for thee, and for thy servant, and for thy maid, and for thy hired servant, and for thy stranger that sojourneth with thee, 7 And for thy cattle, and for the beast that are in thy land, shall all the increase thereof be meat. (Lev 25:1-7 KJV)
Judah, on the other hand, also violated Torah and they were taken into captivity by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.
Anyone who is versed in Scripture to any reasonable degree will realize that the Shmittah commandment applied only to the our forefathers in the land of Canaan/Israel. It does NOT in any form or fashion, apply to the United States, to Europe, to Asia, to Africa, or to areas in the Middle East outside of Israel. Yet these Christian leaders, hoping to make a dollar and cent from teaching a perverted, error-ridden doctrine of Shmittah and applying it to the world at large, are as Hagee and Blitz, false prophets. These must not be listened to nor must they be given any respect as spokesmen for Yahovah. They’ve led too many astray and they will pay the price in some future time. Oh, they will channel their inner Jew and latch on to Rabbis who will tell them that Shmittah was re-established in 1952 and thus, in 2015, we will enter the next Shmittah-year. First off, the rabbis do not keep nor do they recognize the creator’s calendar, thus they are in no position to determine when or when not to keep Shmittah. Secondly, Christians need to get back into the habit of studying their bibles and not rely upon the jack-legged preachers and teachers of the world to feed them a bunch of bull, such as the Shmittah applying to everyone in the world, when it clearly doesn’t apply to everyone in the world.
So then, is our nation and the world heading for certain doom and destruction and ultimate judgment from God because of Shmmittah violations? The answer is NO, not because of violations of Shmittah, but judgment from God for the same reasons I sighted above when addressing the Blood Moons; because our of sins, our failure to repent from our sinful ways, and our refusal to come to God and obey Him. Not because of Shmittah.
V. What Do We Do With this Information?
Well, you might be wondering by this time, “so what Rod?” What do I do with all this seeming superfluous information that you’ve put out in this episode? Well, I’ll tell you: if you are in a position to do so, go out and enjoy the sight of the supermoon and the total-lunar eclipse that will occur on the 28th of September. Go and appreciate the wonders of the Creator and really get a sense of His power and might and how blessed you are to know Him and have a relationship with Him. Secondly, don’t listen to the false prophets that are out there peddling their wares to those who are biblically illiterate and spiritually deaf. Pray for these people that they come to understand the truth and turn away from their sinful ways. Pray for our nation that we turn to the Father and repent from our sins. Walk this Faith like you’ve never walked it before. Allow spiritual exploits to manifest through you as you go about doing the will of the Father. Be ready to give every man an answer who asks you why you believe what you believe.
That’s all I’m trying to get across in this episode dear saints. The last total-lunar eclipse of the current tetrad is a wonderful natural celestial occurrence that clearly helps us appreciate the power and majesty of our heavenly Father. But this controversy of the Blood Moons and the Shmittah also clearly tells us that we got a lot of work ahead of us. So let’s gird ourselves for the work and battle ahead. Let us stay prayed up, fasted, have a song of praise in our hearts and minds, and go forth and make disciples of the nations of the world. It’s what we’ve been called to do, each and everyone of us.
And until next time, may you be most blessed, fellow saints in training. Warm Perception Blessings to you all.
Music by Dan O Music
If one were to correlate this period of time on the calendar of Western civilization, he or she might find that the execution of John the Baptist (also known as John the Immerser) likely took place about this time in the first century. This event was captured by the Gospel Writers Matthew and Mark. According to Matthew in 14:3-12 and Mark in 6::17-29, John the Immerser had by this time been imprisoned. He had apparently been imprisoned by Herod’s administration for his controversial ministry in the Judaen countryside. In these particular passages, the daughter of Herodias, had been enticed to dance for Herod the King of Judah. As payment for her obviously sexually provocative dance number, Herod promised her whatever she wished. After consulting her mother Herodias, the daughter claimed her prize by demanding the head of the imprisoned John the Baptist. That claim by Herodias’ daughter, according to the Gospel writers, sorely bothered Herod. It bothered Herod because, despite Herod’s pagan, sinful and bloody life, he knew the relevancy of Torah (aka the Law). It’s no different today from the biggest criminal in the neighborhood who knows the deal about Jesus and has to some degree fear of those who carry the Word of God to the community. In this particular case, Herod feared John because Herod, according to Mark, believed him to be a “holy man.” Yet, for whatever reasons, be they personal or political, Herod imprisoned John. John’s crime: accusing Herod of violation of the Laws of Moses.
According to Michael Rood, in His Chronological Gospels Gospels, notes that John held Herod in “violation of the Torah commandment that prohibits intimacy with the wife of one’s brother.” This is found in Leviticus 18:16. Rood goes on to note the existence of a similar commandment that prohibits intimacy with the sister of one’s wife during her lifetime (vs. 18 of the same chapter).
Angry and embarrassed over being called out by John the Immerser, Herodias advised her daughter to demand in lieu of money or possessions, the head of John the Immerser on “charger,” which in our English parlance denotes that of a platter or plate. Herodias’ daughter indeed demanded the head of John be delivered to her on a platter. The execution order, despite Herod’s concern over the holiness of John, we given and John died a martyr’s death. His crime as stated above: preaching and teaching Torah or the Law.
Let it be known that the Law, even in the New Testament, was central to the nation of Judah who occupied the land; and even the King of Judah, Herod–the imprisoner and executioner of John the Immerser.
So when believers in Christ pooh-pooh the Law, let it be known that John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was one of the first martyrs of the true Faith once delivered, who stood for and died for Torah. No one in their right mind should ever say that the Law was done away with. This one mighty man of God was willing to die for the Law.
How about you?
In part one (1) of this series entitle Grace and the Law, we critically looked at some of the key bible passages that our cousins in fundamental and charismatic churchianity (or Christianity as popularly referenced) have used over the centuries to support their claim that Torah was done away with and replaced by the hijacked (my wording) doctrine of grace. Allow me to conduct a brief review of those controversial passages so that we all have a central place to begin our quest for a sound, biblically-based response to our Faith’s most staunch critics.
Restating the problem simply, traditional and charismatic Christianity contends that Torah has been done away with by the work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Furthermore, our cousins in the Christian religion contend that any attempt or even thought of adhering to the Laws or Commandments of God (or as we prefer to call these collectively, Torah) are tantamount to a transgression of God’s grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ; that we are placing our eternal hope in works that could never pay the price of our redemption. Finally, the Jew showed us that it is impossible to keep Torah, thus any effort to keep Torah will be met with utter failure and any claim of faith in Jesus Christ, a total mockery. According to the Christian, Jesus kept Torah perfectly during His life and ministry here on earth. Therefore, we who would claim Jesus as our Lord and Saviour no longer are required to keep Torah. In other words, everything has been taken care of by the Creator or Jesus Christ—in other words, don’t worry, be happy—occupy until Jesus returns and raptures us from this earth and takes us to heaven where we’ll reign with Him for all eternity.
Conversely, we in the Hebraic Roots/Messianic Believers in Y’shua Messiah/Netzari communities contend that we are compelled by our love for the Father and in strict obedience to our Lord and Master, Y’shua HaMashiyach, to be Torah honoring, observant and obedient. We see our salvation as a free gift from Yahovah, the God of Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya’akov. Furthermore, we contend that our freedom from sin and the resulting eternal life came to those of us who would claim Y’shua HaMashiyach as our Messiah, as a result of His atoning death on the execution stake on Calvary more than 2,000-years ago. It is our love for our Creator and our loyalty to our Master Y’shua HaMashiyach that we, without reservation, without the slightest hesitation, obey the Father’s Torah and adhere to His way of life for mankind. Our salvation is tied to Torah by way of our qualification for that free gift of salvation. We are able, contrary to popular Christian belief and teachings, that one may live Torah perfectly as a result of the infilling of the Ruach Kodesh (aka the Holy Spirit) and it is this divine arrangement that the Christian wrongly interprets as “grace.” Despite the many seeming anti-Torah passages in the Brit HaDashah (aka the New Testament), primarily from the pen of Rav Shaul (aka the Apostle Paul), we of the true Faith once delivered to the first-century saints by Y’shua HaMashiyach realize the truth of what Shaul was trying to get across to the recipients of his many epistles. We contend that Westernized—Paulinized churchianity has failed to properly execute sound biblical exegesis of his writings and thus it is really these (that is the westernized Christian) that have fallen from grace, not us. This is not a finger-pointing exercise, but a thing of seeking the truth as revealed to any who would seek it via (1) the revelation of the Ruach Kodesh; (2) bible scholarship that is devoid of denominational assertiveness and influence; and (3) commonsense that the Creator endowed each of us with at birth.
I, unfortunately, am of a mind that our two sides can not be reconciled to any appreciable degree without one side conceding to the claims and accusations of the other. It would mean we in the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith abandoning a fulfilled life of discipline, love and peace in Torah for a contrived life of “live as you please” or “as you see fit” and “occupy until Christ returns.” It would mean we would become subject to the traditions, laws and rules of men. Essentially, it would mean going over to a life of religion that Y’shua came to free us from. I came from that and many of you came from that as well. We’ve come to realize and greatly appreciate the freedom that has come as a result of our giving ourselves over to our Master Y’shua as opposed to giving ourselves over to men; to a church; to a denomination; to a religion. Y’shua told us that He came that we would have life and experience that life in abundance. (John 10:10) As wonderful as life may appear in churchianity, her members have spoken loudly with their feet and their wallets. The Barna Group reported a few years ago that people are leaving tradition/fundamental Christianity in droves—some estimates place the number in the millions over the course of the last decade. The primary reason given by those who have left Christianity is a lack of spiritual fulfillment and their lives having not been challenged during the time they were members of the church. Conversely, all indications are (and unfortunately there is no data that I can find to back this up) that our Faith is growing and that large numbers of folks are coming to a knowledge of the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith. These are finding rest for their weary souls and a refreshing for their diminished spirits. Indeed, the Ruach is moving in our Faith. It is a wonderful time to be a part of the true Faith once delivered.
Last episode we looked at a few controversial passages that may cause some of us problems when trying to defend and explain to non-Torah observant believers in Jesus Christ (or traditional/fundamental/charismatic Christians) why we believe Torah is still viable for every believer in Y’shua Messiah. As well as it’s important that we make sure within our own minds and spirits that we understand what Shaul meant when he wrote these seeming anti-Torah passages. Let’s go over them quickly before we move forward. They are as follows:
Ephesians 2:8,9— 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. Is Shaul saying here that grace through the simple act of faith eliminates any need for works in a believer’s life? What does Shaul mean when he says “not of works?” What is this “works?” What does a “workless” life look like as it pertains to those who depend solely upon grace through faith?
Romans 6:14—14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. I discussed last episode that sin, despite what Shaul appears to be saying, remains commonplace in many congregations and churches throughout the world. Since it would stand to reason that Shaul is not speaking to actual sin that believers are prone to commit—that is the violation of Torah; is it then reasonable to conclude that Shaul is actually referring to something else here? Could it be that Shaul is creating an analogy here whereby he is actually referring to any negative influences or affects that sin will have in opposition to the believer’s eternal life?
Romans 7:6— 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.1 According to this passage, it would seem that Shaul is saying that the law was not good for us and if we were to serve in the newness of spirit, then we had to be delivered from the law. Is Shaul saying here that the Law had problems associated with it? Was the Law problematic? Was the Law bad? Was the Law a mistake that needed correcting? Was the Law a failed experiment? If we choose to honor and obey Torah, have we placed ourselves in spiritual harm’s way, so to speak?
Galatians 3:10-14– 10 ¶ For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Is Shaul here saying that Torah observers are under some kind or type of curse? If so, what is there about the Law that makes it a a curse? If the Law is deemed to be a curse through the auspices of the Holy Spirit that was working in and through Shaul, and that Holy Spirit was provided to Shaul as a gift from Y’shua HaMashiyach, why would Father have placed upon us a cursed thing such as Torah? What would that say about our Creator? Are we then victims of the Law?
Lastly, Galatians 5:2-4– 2 ¶ Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. Are we who are Torah observant truly fallen from grace? For that matter, what does “fallen from grace” really mean? Do our cousins in churchianity, who love to use this passage as an assault upon us and our Faith, truly understand what this actually means? Is it true what our cousins in churchianity say about those of us who follow Torah—that if we choose to obey the Law, if we are found to have violated one of the 613-commandments or laws, that we are guilty of breaking the entire Torah? Does breaking one of the commandments actually nullify the rest or make one guilty of breaking the entire Torah? Is circumcision a dead or done-away with commandment? If we who are of the true Faith once delivered, who have chosen to be Torah observant, make the work of Y’shua Messiah of no effect unto us? If so, why?
As I stated in the previous post, these are some tough passages to confront for those of us Torah observant believers in Y’shua Messiah. What I find very interesting is that Christianity has gone out of her way to apply a very literal read of these passages and has effectively made Rav Shaul, or as the Westerner prefers to refer to him as the Apostle to the Gentiles Paul, into the most effective anti-Law (aka Torah) agent in all of history.
We inherently know that a plain read of these Pauline passages can be profoundly misleading. We also know that biblical illiteracy is at the heart of the misunderstanding and mistranslation of these passages. The purpose of this episode is to take each of these passages and determine whether or not the plain read of that passage provides an accurate meaning of that passage based on sound biblical interpretative practice and exegesis. We will resist denominational influences to guide our study. We will not allow our individual cultural and personal biases to prevent our gaining a true understanding of these passages. All we want to do is to resolve once and for all what Shaul meant when he wrote these passages and whether or not he stood for Torah observance in the life of the believer in Y’shua Messiah. I want to know if I truly understand why it is important for all believers in Y’shua Messiah to be Torah observant, especially in light of these seeming anti-Torah passages of Shaul. If we fail to prove that the plain reading of these passages does NOT reject Torah observance by us believers, then we are in a dilemma: are we Torah observant because someone told us we needed to be but we really have no true biblical basis for our beliefs and actions? Or are we simply making things up in our heads and living according to how we feel we should live? I don’t know about you, but I want to be in line with the will and commandments of Yahovah/Yahweh/Yahuah and His Son Y’shua HaMashiyach.
So let’s get started. But first, let’s establish some ground rules for this study: (1) we acknowledge the primacy of Scripture to determine how we live our lives in Y’shua Messiah. (2) We believe that Shaul was a sent one from Y’shua and therefore he has authority to instruct us in the ways of our God. (3) We acknowledge that the only way to gain a true understanding of the bible is through the revelation of the Ruach Kodesh (aka the Holy Spirit) and applying proper exegetical principles to our study of Scripture. Those exegetical principles include: (a) allowing the bible to interpret itself; (b) avoid taking one verse alone to establish doctrine, but to examine every other applicable verse in comparison; (c) studying each passage in question in context—that is, what is the true issue being addressed; who is writing the passage; what was going on in history at the time the passage was written; who was the author’s intended reader and audience; how do the surrounding verses connect with the verse/passage in question? And (d), when examining the use of certain key words in the passage in question, gain an understanding as to how that same word is used in other passages of the bible.
That which we don’t cover we’ll pick up where we leave off in the next episode. Again, I believe that we can not downplay the importance of this subject as it relates to our Faith and our being able to defend what it is we believe and why we believe that which we say we believe and practice. Too many of us assume that we don’t need to defend our actions or our Faith. Yet when we are confronted by someone who opposes our Faith, or we are asked by someone in search of truth to explain our Faith, we choke—we present a poor witness. Our Master gave His best for us when He walked this earth 2,000-years ago. Shouldn’t we do likewise? I don’t want to disappoint Him nor do I want to do anything that will diminish the opportunity for someone to find truth in the midst of a jacked-up world. We have all the answers to this world’s many woes. That being said, my goal, my intent, my mission in life is to be ready to give anyone who asks me about my Faith. Rav Kefa (aka the Apostle Peter) wrote in his first epistle:
ESV 1 Peter 3:15, 16 but ain your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, balways being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and crespect, 16 ahaving a good conscience, so that, bwhen you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
Ephesians 2:8,9— 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
This verse seems to aptly support the doctrine of “sola gratia” that I referenced last episode/last posting. Sola gratia, if you recall, is the Latin phrase meaning “grace only” or “grace alone.” The concept of sola gratia came out of the Protestant Reformation and was to stand in stark contrast to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church that seemed to suggest that salvation was achieved through the grace of God and also by the merits of “one’s own works performed in love.” (Wikipedia-sola gratia) Although this was a hardcore belief of those behind the reformation, the truth of the matter was that the Roman Catholic Church “explicitly affirmed the doctrine of sola gratia in the year 529” in the Councils of Orange and of Trent. It was the doctrine of “sola gratia” that emerged from these councils and was explained as such: that salvation is made possible only by grace and that faith and works “are the secondary means that have their origins in and are sustained by grace.” The protestant reformers, however, seized upon and took the concept of sola gratia to a higher level, taking works entirely out of the equation and actually labeling works as Legalism. Bottom line, as it relates to the protestant reformer’s concept of sola gratia—which today constitutes the same view of most fundamental,traditional and charismatic denominations throughout the world—is that “salvation is entirely comprehended in God’s gifts (that is, God’s act of free grace), dispensed by the Holy Spirit according to the redemptive work of Jesus Christ alone.” (Wikipedia—sola gratia)
Now, one must agree that there is a problem with the doctrine or concept of “sola gratia” and that problem is what is referred to in Wikipedia as “Antinomianism.” Antinomianism argues that “if someone is saved, he/she has no need to live a holy life, given that salvation is already in the bag” so to speak. And isn’t this perspective a primary cause for the schism; the chasm; the thing that divides our two faiths? It is indeed clear that our love and obedience to Torah is nothing short of a gross offense to Christianity as a whole. The problem, however, is not with us but with the Christian who is sorely mistaken, not only in their understanding of the concept of “grace,” but also in their reasoning and understanding as to why we are Torah observant.
So as it relates to this passage of Ephesians, what do we know about the purpose and intent of this letter? Who was Shaul’s intended audience or readers? What could have prompted this statement from Shaul? Well, scholars tell us that Ephesus was located on the east side of the Aegean Sea in Asia Minor which is part of modern Turkey. Shaul’s first visit to Ephesus is recorded in Acts 18:18-23, which appears to be one of the stops Shaul made on his second missionary journey. The assembly in Ephesus appears to have been a mixture of Gentiles and Jews who seemed to be primarily congregating at the local synagogue, which was common place throughout the Roman Empire of the first century. With that, we know then, that a mixture of Torah observance, Judaism, and maybe even some paganism was being practiced amongst the members of that assembly. It so happens that Ephesus was famed for its Temple of Artemis or Diana. So like everywhere else that Shaul’s foot print was felt, Shaul had a rough road to haul—trying to coral believers from every walk of first-century life, into the true Faith, must have been an impossible task.
This portion of the Ephesian letter, interestingly enough, seems to be focusing on the Gentile half of the assembly. Shaul writes:
“For it is by His grace we are rescued, through faith; and this is not of yourselves, but it is the gift of Elohim: Not of works, or else anyone glory (in themselves). For we are His creation who are created in Y’shua the Mashiyach for good works which Elohim has before prepared for us to walk in. Wherefore be mindful that you formerly were carnal Gentiles; and you were called the uncircumcision by that which is called the circumcision and which is the work of the hands of the flesh. And you were, at that time, without the Mashiyach; and were aliens from the regulations of Israel; and strangers to the covenant of the promise; and were without hope and without Elohim in the world. But now, by Y’shua the Mashiyach, you who before were afar off, have been brought near by the blood of the Mashiyach. He is Himself our peace, who has made the two (become) one, and has demolished the wall which stood n the midst, and the enmity, by His flesh; and in His flesh (the) enmity and regulations of commands (contained) in his commandments are abolished (so) that in himself (an occurrence of the divine nature or qnoma), he might make the two into one, establishing peace.” (Eph. 2:8-15 AENT)
Now there are a few things to consider as we examine this passage in context. Instead of taking just verses 8 and 9 at face value, we have now taken on a sizable chunk of Shaul’s letter to the Ephesian assembly. Now, most of churchianity when referencing Ephesians in their arguments in support of sola gratia and the abolishment of the Law or Torah, will focus only on verses 8 and 9. However, there is a severe problem in referencing just verses 8 and 9 when discussing the issue of grace and the law, and that is one receives an incomplete understanding of what Shaul has to say on the subject.
To begin with, Shaul goes on to say in verse 10 that we (Gentiles) have newly been created “for good works which Elohim has before prepared for us to walk in.” Does this not hit you like a brick wall as it hit me? What is Shaul saying here? He’s saying that we who were Gentiles, having been made new by the work of Y’shua, are now created “for good works” and those good works were prepared by Yahovah (as opposed to Elohim) for us to walk in. The NAS and ESV says of those good works, that they were “prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” And the natural question that we must ask is, what are those good works that were prepared beforehand that we should walk in them? Well, the phrase “good works” is found in 23 verses in the KJV. Now, we must be careful to discern the different Greek words used to describe “good works” which are “agathos” and “ergon” respectively. In some passages, the word “good” is “kalos” which means beautiful, handsome or excellent. Shaul uses “agathos” in this Ephesians passage. Invariably, however, the Greek word “ergon” is used to denote “work.”
As it pertains to this particular passage, Thayer’s Greek Lexicon suggests ”ergon” is “that which is required and approved of Yahovah (as opposed to God), in the same sense of Mashiyach.” And we can safely presume that which is required and approved of by Yahovah and Mashiyach as related to “works” is commandments or rules, or as I will boldly propose here, Torah. Yes, I believe Shaul is suggesting here that we Gentiles, through the work of Mashiyach, have been fashioned to do “good works” which I surmise to be Torah. There are several biblical verses that I point to as support for my contention:
Titus 2:11-14—For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
What is Shaul writing about here? He’s talking about the grace of Yahovah bringing salvation to the world and that grace teaching us to live Godly lives as we await the Saviour’s reappearing. And we know that it is not up to man’s discernment or determination as to what is Godly and what is not. Father alone is the stipulator of what is Godly. Yet Father has not left the determination as to what is Godly or not Godly up to chance or up to trying to read His mind. He revealed what is Godly and what is not by His Torah. It’s not rocket science.
Titus 2:1-10—But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: that the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men likewise exhort to be sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you. Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”
Hello! All of these qualities are not unique to Shaul’s teachings. They come right out of Torah. Good works!
2 Timothy 3:17—But thou hast fully known my doctrine (writing to Timothy), manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus (here’s that reference to living Godly lives again) shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou has learned and has been assured of, knowing of whom thou has learned them; and that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures (none other than the Tanakh—the Torah, the prophets and the writings—but primarily Torah, because the New Testament had not been created as yet), which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all “good works.””
Here we go again, good works being tied directly to scripture, or better, tied to Torah.
And there are several others that I will not overtax with you. But suffice to say, that Shaul seems to be tying the concept of “good works” or “ergon agathos” to being Torah observant.
But then there is the other aspect of works that we must not overlook here and that has to do with Shaul tying works directly to “law.” The phrase “works of the law” is used some 5-times in the KJV. (Reference: Rom. 9:32; Gal. 2:16; 3:2, 5, 10)
So I think we have enough to put into some semblance of understanding what Shaul is saying in Ephesian 2: 8—and that has to do with providing a quasi definition of grace; that being grace through our faith in Y’shua HaMashiyach, has rescued us from the world and from eternal death. That rescuing came as a free gift from Yahovah/Yahweh and all we had to do is accept that rescue. In doing so, however, we have received the power to live godly lives. And what does living godly lives look like? It’s all contained in Torah. We have become new creatures. Being former Gentiles (but now Israelites—having crossed over and grafted in) we lived according to the ways of men—evil, sinful, without Yahovah in our lives. Taking on that newness of creation, we have the wherewithal to walk according to His ways or as Shaul wrote: created for good works which God “prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” What is this good works that Shaul is referring to? It’s Torah. So already we see that Shaul has not discarded Torah observance by believers, especially Gentiles. But Shaul clearly indicates here that grace has saved us from the world and from destruction and has provided us the means by which we may walk in accordance to Yahovah’s stipulated way of life for mankind.
Oh, I have no doubt that the more stubborn and obstinate Christian will insist that “good works” as referenced here by Shaul throughout his writing has nothing to do with Torah, but will instead provide a definition or explanation of the phrase “good works” that is consistent to his/her western understanding of what good works means. The problem with this line of reasoning is that there will be thousands, if not millions of perspectives on what constitutes good work. Like opinions, everyone has their own idea of what constitutes good work. But let’s break it down folks: our opinions amount to nothing more than “dung” in the sight of the Almighty. And if anyone is a serious believer in Y’shua HaMashiyach, or for that matter, Jesus Christ, and they are pure in their agenda, then he or she must concede that it’s all about Yahovah/Yahweh/Yahuah/God/Father. It is His opinion, and His opinion alone that matters. So let’s get off our high horses and stop being arrogant fools. Any concept of what is good, especially as it relates to works, must absolutely come from Father and can not come from man, as much as we may like to thing that we have the right stuff to determine what is good and what living a good and godly life looks like.
But let’s not stop here fellow saints, we’re heading towards the stretch as it relates to this Ephesian passage—and hang on, this is where it really gets exciting and brings home for us the truth about Torah living in relation to grace! Hallelujah.
Verse 11, Shaul, a Benjamite, a former Pharisee and at the time of this writing, an Apostle—a sent one directly from our Master Y’shua Messiah—lovingly reminds us of our past. We were carnal gentiles. The KJV, ESV, NAS, ASV words it, Gentiles in the flesh. But the literal rendering of the Greek text (along with the DBY and YLT) reads nations in the flesh. In other words, we were not Israelites and we were certainly not Jews. Thus looking at us from the Jewish and Israelite perspective–from Shaul’s perspective, we were so-called “uncircumcised.” Being of the so-called “uncircumcised,” we were aliens, devoid of commonwealth of Israel, or better rendered in the Greek, we were lacking Israeli-citizenship—verse 12. For all intents and purposes, we were “outsiders.” We were despised and rejected by the Israeli nation, especially by the Jewish nation. Being outside the realm of the true Israelites—not speaking of Judaism per se, but of true Israelis who’s lives were governed by Torah—we were NOT privy to the covenant promises that came by virtue of being an Israeli; especially an Israeli who had Mashiyach as their Master and Yahovah as their God. Thus we were in a hopeless state. Destined for eternal damnation. But the Father, in His infinite wisdom and love for mankind, made provision for even us, being, existing in our hopeless state. He inserted Himself in the affairs of men to offer a lifeline to any who would grab hold to it. It was no longer a case whereby we would have to live out our lives in a hopeless state. It was not situation that we had to convert to Judaism to have the remotest chance and part of the covenant. No! Not this time! It was an opportunity for complete inclusion in the commonwealth of Israel; full access to the blessings of the covenant. What should have cost us our lives for access and inclusion, cost us nothing—just acceptance. But with that acceptance comes responsibility. That responsibility is that we perform. Perform what? That we live and operate in the realm of “good works,” for we have been made—we have been prepared—for such. That is who we become—it is who we are identified as. It is what we look like. It is how the world sees us from then on. Good works. It’s not negotiable as the Christian would assert.
Being born here in America, my citizenship comes to me free of charge. However, if I am to be; if I am to remain a citizen, there are things that I am expected to do—obey the laws of the land; pay my taxes; make a living; contribute to society in some way or another. If I fail to obey the laws of the land or pay taxes or make a living for myself and my family, I will not realize the full benefits of American citizenship. In fact, I may even lose my citizenship (in a low-level way I would add) by being incarcerated.
Despite what the Christian believes and teaches and lives, there are no free lunches as it relates to our relationship with Father. He does indeed offer us the gift of eternal life that comes without charge to us—but oh what price was paid for that gift. In order to receive and keep the gift, we must qualify for it. Father is not going to promote any human to the place of being one of His children; a king; a priest; His elect in a state of rebellion; hating Him by virtue of being disobedient to His will and His commandments. Does it make any sense, Christian, to think and believe that we can live anyway we damn-well please, reject Father’s laws and commandments, and enter into His Kingdom as honored citizens? Would you allow your children to live in your house in total rebellion and disobedience and receive complete and unfettered freedom and privilege? Well, some of you do, and that’s a shame. But let me just tell you, Yahovah don’t play that. He has purchased us with the blood of His son. Shaul wrote to the Corinthian assembly: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price…” (1 Cor. 6:19, 20) We’ve accepted that gift. We now live in His house. He has house rules. Therefore, we are compelled to live in His house under His rules. His rules are contained in Torah. Thus, we must be Torah observant, even as believers in Y’shua Messiah. If we elect to not obey His rules—His Torah—well, that’s a story for another day.
If there is anything to be gotten from this exercise, it is the absolute necessity of sound biblical exegesis that include contextual analysis—context, context, context. If we were simply to take verses 8 and 9 of this 2nd chapter of Ephesian, from a purely plain reading perspective, we could very easily walk away having an unshakable impression that sola gratia is the name of the game today and that Torah observance by believers in Jesus Christ is not only unnecessary, but completely in opposition to the sacrifice of the Saviour and the doctrine of grace. Employing bible sound bites to explain and support Christian doctrines is a prescription for destruction; at the least, a prescription for living an unfulfilled and potentially sinful life.
Those of us in the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith (Messianic Believers in Y’shua Messiah; Torah Observant Believers in Y’shua Messiah) are comparatively the smallest of minorities in the realm of self-professing Christians in the world. According to Wikipedia.com, approximately 1/3 of the world’s population consider themselves Christians. Christianity generally encompasses Protestantism, Eastern Orthodox and Catholicism. Now, I will step out on a limb and say that our group does not fall within any of these three (3) sub-groupings of Christianity. We are ostensibly a “forbidden” Faith that does not fall within the realm of the three (3) world Faiths—or better termed religions of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Probably the central-most element of our Faith—Hebraic Roots—is our adherence; our devotion; or love of Torah; or as the Christian-world prefers with excessive disdain, THE LAW!!!! It is our adherence and love of Torah that makes us pariahs to Catholicism, Christianity and the Eastern Orthodoxers. It is our love and adherence of Torah that, for whatever reason, causes our cousins, especially in Catholicism, to basically hate on us with the intensity of a hundred suns glaring upon the parched Serengeti plains. Furthermore, and this wasn’t even a distant thought in my mind until I met my dear friend Carmen Welker earlier this year, the Jews hate us because of our love and adherence of Torah and our devotion and loyalty to Y’shua HaMashiyach. And yes, there are other aspects of our Faith that just bug our cousins in fundamental Christianity. However, in this post I want to focus entirely upon the most glaring issue that separates us from our cousins in fundamental Christianity and that is our love and adherence to Torah and Traditional Christianity’s obsessiveness with the hijacked doctrine of grace. For whatever reason—mis-translations and misunderstandings of the Bible; doctrinal positions on both sides on the subject of the law or Torah; doctrinal opinions on the true meaning of grace and its role in the redemption plan; or just our conflicting respective views on the Bible, our Redeemer and our Creator–it would seem that our differences are irreconcilable.
It is the question of Torah’s efficacy and viability in a would-be Believer’s life that causes the greatest separation between Traditionalists and Messianics than any other issue. The fundamentalists strongly contend that those who would hold on to Torah as a staple of their Faith are grossly fallen from grace. We on the Messianic side believe that our churched cousins are living lives that are outside the way of life that our Master and our Creator commanded us to live. How then do we reconcile the two sides of this spiritual equation? Is there a right-side and a wrong-side to this equation? Or does this whole thing even matter? Can’t we just get along? (Rodney King)
Well, it does matter. It is the purpose of this post to explain why it matters and why any who would claim Jesus Christ as their Saviour is compelled to be Torah observant. Now I realize this may come across as disingenuous and I apologize for that at the outset. But my calling in this ministry is to tell the truth. The truth I tell is devoid of any denominational assertiveness and influences. It is purely derived from the Bible. And if the Bible is proved to be wrong, then my position on this subject will conversely be wrong. And with that sentiment, let me just say, if I’m wrong, my God, I have no problem saying to you all that I was wrong. But you better make sure that you are sure based solely upon what the Bible teaches and not what your denomination and your religion teaches. I don’t give a rat’s hoot what your denomination or your religion teaches on this subject and quite frankly, neither should you. Why? Because, when you stand in judgment before the Saviour who will judge the just and the unjust, you will have to give an account of your actions and inactions here on this earth during the time that the Father has allotted you. Your religion; your denomination; your pastor nor your teachers nor the scholars who give out their lame opinions without having the slightest in the way of a true relationship with the Master, these will not be able to answer for you. You will have to answer for yourself just as I will. I feel so strongly about this that I will absolutely hold no punches in this series. My love for you; the Saviour’s love for you, matters so much that you must be exposed to the truth without any dilution or alteration.
So stating the problem plainly, that which separates us is a firm disagreement over the issue of Torah and Grace. The Fundamentalist and Charismatic fervently contends that the Law was done away with at the cross and because of God’s grace, the believer in Jesus Christ has no responsibility but to await Jesus’ return. The primary father of this doctrine would be none other than Rav Shaul (aka the Apostle Paul). The Messianic Believer on the other hand, fervently contends that Torah remains in affect for any who would claim Y’shua as their Master and that grace is not a license to live a Torah-less, do-as-I-please, life. Grace according to the Messianic is the ability to live a holy and righteous life in the midst of a perverted and evil world. This doctrine is believed to have been co-authored by none other than Master Y’shua HaMashiyach and Rav Shaul (aka the Apostle Paul). Yes, as you will see in my argument here, Shaul falls out on both sides of this equation and this is why there remains a schism between our respective Faiths—this is why we continue to feud like the Hatfield and the McCoys. The crazy reality of this shameful split is that regardless which side you or I fall out on with this issue, we are all of Ephraim. And maybe once we all come to that realization, as strange as this may seem to some, we will be able to come to terms with the reality and truth of this crucial matter regarding grace and Torah.
The Fundamentalist and Charismatic will vehemently contend that the Law was indeed done away with by the redemptive work of the Saviour upon the cross. Or, the Fundamentalist and Charismatic might equally contend that the Saviour kept the Law perfectly, therefore we don’t have to. At any event, God’s Law has been nullified by His grace. Sound familiar?
Well, the Fundamentalist and Charismatic have at their disposal a number of texts that they contend supports their position of the Law being nullified by God’s grace. Let’s take a look at these passages–especially the Pauline passages, that seem to be anti-Torah in content and fuel Churchianity’s claim that Torah was done away with and replaced by grace. I was originally going to use the Aramaic English New Testament to recite these verses, but given that the vast majority of Christians in the world use some form of the King James Version, I will use the KJV here.
Ephesians 2:8,9— 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9 KJV) Here Shaul seems to be establishing a definitive teaching that would be hard to refute. Both Christian and Messianic agree that salvation can not be earned and that it comes by the grace of the Almighty. The Law or Torah on the other hand, has always been viewed in conjunction with works. Consider Romans 9:30-32–which reads: “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles who have not followed after righteousness have attained righteousness, but that righteousness which is of faith: but Israel, who followed after the law of righteousness, unto the law of righteousness have not attained. For why? Because it was not by faith, but by the WORKS OF THE LAW: for they stumbled over the stone of stumbling.” (ETH)
In Galatians 2:16, Shaul talks about man being NOT JUSTIFIED BY THE WORKS OF THE LAW but by faith in Jesus Christ. Shaul also wrote to the Galatian assembly that those who are of the WORKS OF THE LAW are under a curse—Gal. 3:10. So the works that Shaul was addressing the Ephesian assembly about must certainly be the works of the Law right? Thus, Ephesians 2:8 and 9, Shaul reasons that men would naturally gravitate towards trying to earn or achieve salvation through some type of effort; some type of process; some set of established rules and protocols. And in that effort to earn salvation, the whole aspect of salvation being a gift from the Almighty becomes obscured and even lost in translation, so to speak.
This is a critical verse in support of the Christian’s view of sola gratia, Latin for “grace alone.” But to the Netzari or Hebraic Roots believer in Y’shua Messiah, we don’t see this verse as being a problem at all. For we certainly agree that salvation comes via the Creator’s grace through our Faith in Messiah and that we can do nothing to earn it. We simply believe, however, that one must qualify for the free gift of salvation and one of those qualifications is obedience to our Master Y’shua’s commandments (John 14:15) and His commandments are the exact same commandments as His Father’s commandments or laws. Y’shua said, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15:10) Furthermore the Master said, “And He that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” (John 8:29)
If we can simply accept the free gift of salvation but ignore the Saviour’s directive that we keep His commandments, which I’m afraid most self-professing Christians have done today, then there’s a huge disconnect. Do we simply take Shaul’s instructions over that of our Saviour? I just have to ask; because it would seem that virtually every Christian bases their religion—and to some extent Faith—on the teachings of Paul and unknowingly, reject most if not all the teachings of Y’shua HaMashiyach. This is a tragedy that few in the Fundamentalist and Charismatic world are willing to address.
Let’s move on.
Romans 6:14—14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Rom 6:14 KJV) Now this verse may be somewhat damaging to the Messianic and Netzari community when defending the position of Torah still being in effect for the Believer in Y’shua HaMashiyach. What can one make of this verse other than what is printed on the page: we are not under the Law but under grace. And if Shaul were to have simply written that and not attached the first half which says that sin has no dominion over us, then the Fundamentalists might have a valid and powerful argument against Torah-keeping by Christians.
Interestingly, sin continues to dominate many a Christian’s life, no matter how devoted they might be to Christianity. Think about it, sin is rampant in the Christian Churches of the 21st century, just as it was in the 20th and 19th and before. I’m not trying to be judgmental by any stretch of the imagination. But infidelity, fornication, adultery, idolatry, backbiting, hate, stealing, lying, etc has and continues to exist in many Christian Churches around the globe today. And the problem is not getting better. Yet in this verse, Shaul writes to the Roman assembly that sin shall not have dominion over them. Seems like a terrible disconnect, or seems as though Shaul (aka Paul) doesn’t know what in the wide-wide-world of sports he’s talking about.
But Shaul most-certainly knew what he was talking about. Indeed. The Traditionalist, focusing more on the second-half of the verse disavowing the law in favor of grace, will naturally analogize the first-half of the verse. Instead of seeing sin as having direct influence over us as individuals who are striving to do the will of the Father, the Fundamentalists will surmise that sin has no influence over our destiny—that is, sin has absolutely no bearing over whether or not the born-again believer in Christ will go to heaven. When looked at from this analogized perspective, then the born again believer in Christ Jesus has not a thing to worry about, don’t they?
Well, the problem with analogizing passages of the Bible is that the true meaning and interpretation of the passages in question, is inevitably obscured; blacked out; summarily removed from the eyes, hearts and minds of the Bible student. Analogizing the Bible serves only to cause the seeker of truth to give over their quest to the agendas of men; men who are bent to control the hearts and minds of every believer they can coral and bring into their fold. Those who would create analogies of passages of the Bible, and completely ignore the true meaning of passages based upon sound Biblical, contextual Biblical study—rejecting the urge to latch onto Bible-verse sound bites to support Church doctrine—are building their spiritual homes on sand. I was once that person. I analogized everything in support of the doctrines that I received from the Baptist Church of my youth. How did that work for me? Well, at the time it made me feel good and I convinced myself that I was destined for heaven by way of the pre-trib-rapture-express B-A-B-Y. But all that changed when I miserably failed to adequately explain to someone who asked me to defend why I was a Christian. I had nothing but analogies upon which to make my defense. It was quite disconcerting to say the least. From that point forward, I wanted to make sure that I would always allow the Bible to interpret itself and not rely on jack-leg-preachers and teachers and televangelists to tell me what I am to believe. I have chosen to know, to the extent that the Bible, sound extra-biblical resources and the Ruach haKodesh provides, the truth of what Father has to say—regardless how distasteful that truth may seem at the time.
But back to Romans 6:14: here Shaul seems to be saying that sin no longer has dominion over us because we are no longer under the Law or Torah, but we are now under grace. If we simply take this verse at face value and as written on the pages of our Bible, the interpretation is quite simple to determine, heh? Well, the problem is that sin continues to be a problem for Christians all over the world. Now we must bear in mind that this verse says nothing about salvation or eternal life, so for one to attempt to analogize this verse to mean that sin will not impede one’s access to eternal life, would be a stretch. But as we all well know, Fundamental and Charismatic Christians have no problem stretching the content of the Word to match whatever wind and doctrine they’ve ever dreamed up over the centuries. But shouldn’t this thing go the other way: shouldn’t our doctrines stretch to match the true teachings of the Bible, and for that matter, match common-sense. We can not move anywhere until we adequately do something about that nasty, nagging statement about sin found in this passage.
What about sin? Well, what is sin? We know from Scripture that sin is lawlessness—that is, being without law. In context, being without The Law or being without Torah. Sin is defined by Rav Yochanan (aka the Apostle John) as the transgression or violation of The Law. (1 John 3:4) The funny part of this whole equation is that believers all over the world talk about sin; preachers preach against sin; Bible teachers teach against sin; we admonish those of us who are backslid to abandon their sinful lives. Yet we summarily reject even the thought of Torah having any role in a believer’s life. We can not know or truly understand what sin is unless we know and embrace the Law or Torah. Rav Shaul (aka the Apostle Paul) wrote: “What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, aI would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if bthe law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Rom 7:7 ESV) It’s right here folks! In black and white! Shaul unceremoniously reveals all we need to know about sin; that being, without Torah, we can not truly know what sin is. Oh, we can be told what constitutes a single incident of sin. Heck, we can become thoroughly indoctrinated into a rather full understanding of what activities are sinful. But at the end of the day, understanding of what activity is sinful comes only via an understanding of Torah. And let’s face it, we all grew up knowing a great deal about what activities are sinful—stealing, murder, adultery, fornication and the like. But then, there are a ton of other things that go on around us, and we unknowingly may even be party to, that are sinful such as eating pork and shell fish; rejecting the seventh (7th)-day Sabbath and honoring the Creator’s annual Festivals. Thus, we can not know that an activity or behavior is sinful unless we know from Torah that it is prohibited or is mandated.
So, does knowing the Law or Torah and thus knowing what is sin, eliminate sin’s dominion over us? What did Shaul mean by “sin shall no longer have dominion” over us? The problem is not that men can’t or won’t learn Torah and thus can’t or won’t understand what constitutes sin—because the truth of the matter is that we can learn Torah and thus we can know what sin is. The problem is that man is prone to sin despite knowing what sin is. You see, when we were wandering in the Sinai desert and were being taught by Yahovah through Moshe (because we were too afraid to receive the teachings directly from Father—but that’s beside the point) His commandments—His Laws—His precepts and ordinances and statutes—His Torah, we continued to violate. We sinned and we sinned with gusto! So many of us died because we simply couldn’t resist sinning. We have a nature that is prone to sinning. But just because we have a hard time resisting sin, doesn’t make us any less responsible for obeying the Laws and Commandments of the Almighty and thus, not sinning. Yahovah still holds us responsible for keeping His Torah. Fast-forward 1,500-or so years, around 28-CE, when the gift of the Ruach Kodesh was given to us on the Temple Mount that fateful day of Pentecost—from that point on, when we become Y’shua HaMashiyach’s disciples and the gift of the Ruach is imparted unto us, we receive the wherewithal to resist sin and live Torah perfectly just as our Master lived and demonstrated Torah to us flawlessly. Sin has no dominion over us any longer, as it once had over us in the Sinai desert and throughout our history dwelling in Palestine. Thus, that bull that a million and one preachers throw out there in their varied and many pulpits each Sunday—that we can’t possibly keep Torah so don’t even think about trying to keep it—is a lie from the pit of hell. If what these jack-leggers say was even remotely true, then the Gift of the Holy Spirit was and continues to be a lie and a fraud. I don’t think so!
Moving on to another verse that the anti-Torah crowd uses–Romans 7:6— 6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.1 (Rom 7:6 KJV) Certainly, another damaging blow to our pro-Torah stance it would seem. A simple read of this passage would have us understanding the Apostle Paul to say to the Roman assembly that “we have been delivered from the Law.” Boy, this carries a rather harsh tone to it, for it implies that Torah was such a negative thing, that we needed to be delivered from it. And the one thing that I don’t recall ever hearing an explanation of is, what about Torah was so bad that it necessitated our being delivered from it? The best I can come up with are those handful of Torah passages that commanded us to put the offenders of certain of God’s Word/God’s Law/God’s commandments, to death; those handful of passages that commanded us to wipe out the nations that were occupying the land of promise ahead of us; those handful of passages that locked us into a lifestyle that was in utter opposition to that of carnal man who sought to live in accordance with his/her desires and preferences. If indeed being under complete subjection to God’s commandments and His ways was and is so distasteful and undesirable—which to the carnal man it absolutely must be that way—then it would absolutely stand to reason that one would need deliverance from it at the very first opportunity. Again, to the Roman assembly, Shaul writes: “For the mind controlled by the old nature is hostile to God, because it does not submit itself to God’s Torah – indeed, it cannot.” (Rom 8:7 CJB) So then, what aspect of the Law have we been delivered from? If Torah or the Law provides the measuring stick for righteous living and it defines sin for us, why was there a need to be delivered from it? What was so bad about it that it necessitated our deliverance from it? As we saw with Romans 6:14, there is likely something about Torah that is not readily apparent in this verse that Shaul was clearly aware of, but his writings fail to adequately dispense to us living in the 21st century.
Rav Kefa (aka the Apostle Peter) wrote of Shaul: 14 ¶ Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. (2Pe 3:14-18 KJV)
I humbly submit to you that Shaul’s writings have been at the center of most every schism that exists between the denominations and between our Faith (i.e., the Hebraic Roots) and Churchianity. Shaul’s brilliance is undeniable and accepted across the wide spectrum of Christian believers, scholars, teachers and preachers. What isn’t understood by most, however, is Shaul’s deep understanding of Torah and its unbreakable connection to grace, faith and truth. Most of us are in the dark about this. Shaul gives his pedigree to us, in part, in his epistle to the Galatian assembly. The first chapter gives us a slight glimpse of this man, who was selected to be a sent one of Yahovah from his mother’s womb; who was trained not only at the feet of Gamli’el as a child (Acts 22:3), but one-on-one by Y’shua HaMashiyach in Arabia for upwards of three (3)-years. He was to be the twelfth-disciple to replace Judas Iscariot, not Matthias (Acts 1:23-26) whom we never heard from again after his appointment. Shaul would, because of his unique mission, be special and he would have to be brought on-line unlike any who would have preceded him. Shaul was uniquely qualified to be the apostle to the Gentile. The situations that he had to deal with during the course of His ministry can not possibly be fully understood by 21st century folks, who are prone to explain away Shual’s writings and behavior and life and ministry from a western worldview. Embarking upon such a course—that is attempting to read and understand Shaul’s writings from a westernized worldview—will invariably falter and ultimately find us heading for destruction.
Galatians 3:10-14— 10 ¶ For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. 13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: 14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Gal 3:10-14 KJV) This passage is filled with some tough to swallow seemingly anti-Torah rhetoric. Let’s itemize them: (1) those of us who are Torah observant are under a curse—seemingly implied and my wording only applies here. (2) We, claiming to be righteous, must live by faith only since Torah can not make us righteous before Father. (3) Torah has nothing to do with faith, thus by living in Torah, we live a faithless life. (4) Torah is a curse and Torah is what Y’shua Messiah came to deliver us from. Christ took on the curse of Torah so that we don’t have to. And (5) we Gentiles have replaced the Jew in the promises of God our Father—i.e., replacement theology. But is all that I’ve listed in the way that I’ve stated them true? Is Torah a curse that believers in Y’shua Messiah must reject or avoid? Are Torah Observant Believers faithless people who have fallen from grace? Has Torah been completely done away with and we, born-again Christians, the new Israel that have replaced our forefathers who sadly proved that we humans are incapable of keeping Torah? But I pose a rebuttal question: if Father chose Israel to be His “chosen” ones, why would He saddle us with something that we couldn’t possibly keep and that would be considered a curse? How does that work? Is our Creator schizophrenic? Yet we sing the praises of God our Father each Sunday, proclaiming how wonderful He is. How could we say He’s wonderful, loving and caring, when we believe that He cursed us with Torah? Makes no sense does it? So like the previous verses used by the anti-Torah crowd, there must be something to this passages about Torah that eludes us as well. We’ll take a closer look at this too.
And the last seeming anti-Torah passage I wish to cover in this episode is Galatians 5:2-4— 2 ¶ Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. 3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. 4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. (Gal 5:2-4 KJV) Ah yes, the ole “ye have fallen from grace” passage that those of us who are Torah honoring and observant have been accused of—having fallen from grace. The traditionalists and fundamentalists and charismatics are quick to reference this passage to prove that we who honor and obey Torah have, by our Torah-keeping lifestyle, nullified for ourselves the work and sacrifice of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. They contend that by our keeping Torah, we are saying that we are not reliant upon Jesus to be our redeemer and our savior. I remember vividly holding this very belief in the Baptist and inter-denominational churches of my youth. The rationale is, if Christ kept Torah perfectly and by His death, He has paid our sin debt—then Torah has in effect been nailed to the cross with Jesus and has been done away with. What’s that Pauline passage that the anti-Torah crowd loves to use to explain this eliminating of Torah? Colossians 2:14—”Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross…”
Now I will say as I bring this bad boy to a close, that we of the Hebraic Roots/Netzari communities, have contributed to a greater or lesser degree, to the Fundamentalists’/Traditionalists’/Charismatics’s anti-Torah argument. Why do I say this? My observations over the years, having started this journey into the Hebrew Roots of the Christian Faith for over a decade now, is our extreme focus on Torah. Many of the ministries associated with our Faith focus so much on Torah and over-analyzing the written Torah (i.e., getting deep into the Hebrew and numerology and even Kaballaism), that Y’shua Messiah is factored entirely out of the lives of those believers. We focus on the nuances of what we can and can not do on Sabbath. We worry about the best ways to celebrate the Feasts. We delve into the Talmud/Mishnah or the Oral Tradition for direction on how to be Torah compliant. Before we know it, we’re facing east and touching passing Torah scrolls with our tzitzits at a torah service. [By the way, I discuss this whole Mishnah-Talmud thing in-depth in my latest Torah Living Daily Challenge episode entitled “Obey My Laws (Mitzvot)”—this is a must read/must hear episode of Torah Living Daily Challenge that fits so well with this subject of Grace and the Law. Please check it out.]
In some circles, the very mention of Jesus and the Holy Spirit makes us uneasy. I remember when I first entered into this Faith, I attended one of the Worldwide Churches of God splinters, the United Church of God in Garden Grove, California. After a couple years of attending, I found that I had completely outgrown the church spiritually and I transitioned to a spirit-filled Sabbath-keeping congregation located in the inland empire of Southern California. The pastor of this church was a former member of that United Church of God church I had just left. He explained to me that he had left that United church because the singing group he was part of sang too much about “Jesus” according to the pastor of the United church. So he left that United church and started his own church. And it wasn’t too long before I found that this new church I had begun attending was indeed focusing entirely upon Jesus and discouraging the members of following Torah. I remember hearing one sermon from that pastor when he told us, “don’t even think about trying to keep the Law—it can’t be done—and if you do try, you better keep the whole thing and not falter on any one law…” And that’s me paraphrasing of course.
Well, what can you say to that? Certainly some would focus entirely upon Jesus as in many charismatic churches, while the other side focuses entirely on Torah. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles so to speak. I am of a belief that the two are inseparable–Torah and Grace (Y’shua). It is not one or the other. I believe that Y’shua is the living Word of Yahovah—the living Torah. It is through Y’shua HaMashiyach that we have our being; whom we serve; whom we imitate; whom we obey. Obeying Y’shua means obeying and honoring Torah. Y’shua’s sacrifice on the cross made atonement for our sins once and for all, eliminating the need to sacrifice animals every time we transgressed Torah. Y’shua’s gift of the Ruach Kodesh provides a means for us to keep Torah the way He did, in the midst of an evil and perverted world. Y’shua is our soon coming King–He is our Master today. He will establish His eternal kingdom here on earth. That kingdom, like any other kingdom that has ever existed, has a legal code that the citizens of that kingdom are required to adhere to. We operate in the spirit within Yahovah’s kingdom and thus we live by His code. It is imperative that we keep everything in perspective. It is imperative that we know what it is we believe and are able to articulate those beliefs to whoever may ask us to explain our beliefs. The Apostle Peter wrote: “Be not terrified by those who would terrify you, nor be in uproar: but sanctify Master YHWH the Mashiyach, in your hearts. And be you ready for a vindication before everyone who demands of you an account of the hope of your faith, in meekness and respect, as having a good conscience; so that they who speak against you as bad men may be ashamed for having maligned your good conduct in the Mashiyach.” (1 Peter 3:14-17 AENT)
This is the point behind this Sabbath Thoughts and Reflections for today dear friends: being able to “give an answer to every man that ask of us a reason for the hope that is in us.” (KJV rendering of verse 15). I found myself lacking when this issue confronted me last weekend. Thus, I did not post an episode, but went into deep study and preparation for this episode that you have before you today. Next week, we’ll start putting together an impregnable defense as it relates to our keeping and honoring Torah. This may be the most important series of postings that we’ve ever done. This issue is the dividing point between us and our sorrowfully mistaken and misled cousins of the Christian religion.
Please, as always, don’t simply take the content of this posting as gospel. Study, pray, meditate and maybe even fast. Allow the Ruach Kodesh to reveal to you the truth of this matter. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns you may have on this or on any other content we’ve posted. We’re all on a journey with Messiah. We must each give an account on that fateful day as to how we lived our lives during the years the Father has allotted to us here on earth. We will have to answer alone. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t bless one another with the knowledge and understanding that Father has blessed each of us with today. Isaiah wrote: “Come now, let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isa. 1:18 DBY)
We are a community. We can and must learn from one another, if we are to face well the tasks assigned to each of us by our Master. The road ahead is not going to be easy. By virtue of us signing on to be His disciple, many of us are destined for martyrdom, contrary to the pre-trib-rapture Christian belief. It’s gonna take everything we have to make it through the tribulation, that is if we live to see those days. So while it is still day and we still have the freedoms afforded to us to practice our Faith, let us dig deep and hard and rely in some part upon one another for our spiritual sustenance. The writer of Proverbs wrote: “Just as iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend.” (Pro. 27:17 CJB) And with that, I’ll start preparing for next week’s episode. Please come back next time and let’s get into part 2 of this series Grace and the Law.
In the interim, may you be most blessed fellow saints in training. Shavuatov. Shalom.