Category Archives: Torah

Apostle Paul and the Law

Apostle Paul and the Law

“I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.” Acts 24:14b (NKJV)

The above quote is Apostle Paul’s own words before he left Israel for his final journey to Rome and his eventual death. It would seem to me all of his statements in his various letters should be interpreted in the light of this confession. Paul was neither teaching nor implying that grace replaced the Law.

In my opinion, grace and the sacrificially shed blood of Messiah made provision for the keeping of the Law—of God’s standard of righteousness. Paul does establish that keeping the Law does not earn salvation, but it is the door opener to blessing. Keeping the law is not a substitute for faith in the work of Messiah Yeshua on the cross, but a consequence of it.

Yeshua is the Living Word, the Logos. He is God as well as man. He in effect being God gave the law to Moses and the people gathered at Mt Sinai. During His earthly ministry as a man He amplified and emphasized the law. He never diminished or railed against the word He brought on Sinai. He only spoke against the abuse and manipulation of the word by the religious leaders of the day, or of any day. He proclaimed the consequence for those who taught against the word in Matthew 5:17-20 (NKJV) “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Yeshua came to confirm the prophets and the law. Fulfill does not imply either the words spoken by the prophets or the truth of the law is now of no consequence, that would be to destroy. The prophets and the law has even more significance because Yeshua has come as prophesied by the prophets and the law, in effect validating them.

Apostle Paul, being educated as a Rabbi, was all too familiar with the abuse of the law being made by the spiritual rulers of the day. He saw the fallacy of the pharisaic teaching that by scrupulously following the letter of the law was somehow pleasing to God and would gain eternal reward. As Yeshua taught, Paul taught, that Spirit-empowered keeping of the law was what mattered and pleased God; that could only be done through a personal relationship, a born again experience, with the Lawgiver.

KB
7/1/20

The Subtleties of Heresy

The Subtleties of Heresy

I had not considered specific heresies which might be in today’s ecclesia until participating in intercession with World for Jesus Ministries conference call May 24, 2020.

The intercession consisted of repentance for the ecclesia’s failure to keep the fourth Commandment—remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.

This failure could well be an example of a Nicolaitan heresy (1) that is being harbored and proclaimed by most of today’s ecclesia. It has been a heresy perpetuated through anti Semitic prejudice since at least the third century of the church. Why the Lord has tolerated a blatant violation of His word, I do not know.

It is my opinion that both Islam and Christianity by arbitrarily choosing a weekly holy day, other than the fourth commandment Saturday sabbath has an anti Semitic genesis. This prejudice is well documented by recorded history of both faiths.
By the time of Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea in 325AD it seems much of the Christian Church’s doctrine is motivated by a “Christ killer” mentality. To me this is totally contrary to Paul the Apostle’s teaching in Romans (2) and Ephesians (3) where he speaks of the grafted-in, one new man being neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female. To create a distinction between Israelite (Jew) and Christian creates a “people” God never intended to define as His chosen. The distinction has failed to be made over the millennia between native born and grafted-in. The Church has opted to believe it supersedes God’s definition of chosen, replacing it.

It seems an oxymoron for the Catholic Church to claim Peter the Apostle as the rock upon which it is founded. Peter’s letters are addressed to Jewish believers in Messiah and amplify the definition of the “chosen people of God”. This broadened definition is really not new, but more of an understanding of what God had been defining as His chosen all along—one law for the native born and the believing gentile. Ex 12:49 The difference being the native born, by Messiah’s earthly time had become a broken off branch through disregard for the heart of God’s instruction in favor of man’s interpretation. Yeshua was often pointing out this distinction to the religious leadership of His day.

Peter was acknowledging in his letter the encompassing definition of priest—every believer, whether Jew or gentile, who professed faith in Messiah—sent by God for underlining the definition of His chosen.1 Peter 2:9

God has not abandoned His priestly call on the Levite (4). He has, however, through the faith of His elect in the shed blood sacrifice of Yeshua, made manifest His desire for the encompassing definition of priesthood expressed at Mt Sinai. Ex 19:6 (5)
Let our eyes be opened to the subtleties of heresy embraced by the ecclesia. Then through intercession personally repent for our personal accepting and harboring of heresy. Finally, we must stand in the gap (6) before Father that His chosen repent where they have failed to perceive their identity and calling, embracing heresies contrary to God’s word.

KB 5/27/20

1 See http://missionpossiblepeople.com/blog/ The Tribulation and Intercessory Prayer
2 Rom 11:11-24
3 Eph 2:11-19
4 Exodus 40:15 (NKJV)
5 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (in Hebrew “goy”—people including gentiles)
6 Ezek 22:30

An Awakened Spirit can Avoid a Dead Body

An Awakened Spirit can Avoid a Dead Body

It all started when I got to wondering about the word “profane” as used in the OId Testament. I had a feeling it meant to dishonor. While this is true, as with most Hebrew words there is a range of interpretation. Not only that, but there are two different Hebrew words that get translated as profane: zur and halal. Zur is the most frequently used word—76 times in the Old Testament, while halal is used only 21 times. Zur in the King James bible is almost exclusively translated as “strange.” But in many modern translations zur is translated as profane. Halal on the other hand is almost exclusively translated as profane.

So, you’re probably asking, “what’s your point?” Well, it’s this, my New King James Bible search of “profane” took me to the “profane” fire offered by Nadab and Abihu. How could their incense offering be profane? The offering was described by the Hebrew word zur—strange. Maybe then it was not the offering, but something more spiritually profound to which the Lord reacted.

Let’s revisit the event and see what might have been at play.
Nadab and Abihu, were the two eldest sons of Aaron, Moses’ brother.
Their tragic story is told primarily in the tenth chapter of Leviticus. The chapter opens describing the young men making an offering to the Lord which had not been commanded by God and which resulted in their death.

In acting as they did, Nadab and Abihu assumed a familiarity with God that was totally at odds with the solemnity of the occasion. They upstaged not only Moses, but also their father, Aaron, the High Priest. Their offering was a spontaneous act which they performed at the conclusion of at least seven days of very intense spiritual significance—the dedication of the priesthood.

Aaron and his four sons were each in their respective priestly garments. They were before the altar in the newly constructed Tabernacle. The sons’ father, the High Priest, had just blessed the thousands gathered to observe the event. The fire of the Lord had spectacularly roared forth and consumed the prescribed offering on the altar.

In their youth and in the exuberance of the event they apparently gave no thought as to how presumptuous and offensive their actions would be to God—how they were drawing attention to themselves and away from their father and from Moses. Their actions diminished the sacred impact of the pageantry of the event—Nadab and Abihu were editing the script—all this High Priest decorum wasn’t necessary, two kids with their own censers could define how you approached and worshipped God.

Their actions profaned, made God common, before the people. The judgment of Nadab and Abihu by God was deserved, swift and just. God did not want another repeat of the Israelites’ faithlessness evidenced at His descent on Mt Sinai the year before. It was there, gathered at the base of Mt Sinai, witnessing the awesome power of God, that the nation vacillated. In the intensity of that experience the Israelites opted to exchange an offered intimacy of relationship with God for one of intercession—as one voice they said, “Moses, you listen to God for us.” Now, in this climactic moment of pageantry in the dedication of the priesthood, God had to quickly, decisively restore His position of holiness, His preeminence and His plan for His chosen.

Although the text does not use both Hebrew words, I make the following distinction. The young men offered a strange, zur, offering, however, it was their inappropriate actions in the circumstance that profaned, made common, were halal to God. Nadab and Abihu attempted to define God in their image—to create a god that He is not—an idol god. Their individual spirit did not perceive God’s spirit—resulting in their dead bodies. God is a jealous God.

There is a tendency today to make God a buddy, a big, huggable bear. Let us not forget that although He loves each of us with a passion and is intimately approachable, He must be respected, esteemed, honored and worshipped. It is best to let Him decide how He wants to present Himself to us in any given situation. I may want the big teddy bear, but in His wisdom, I may need the correction of a father.

When my spirit is awake to His Spirit I will always make better choices, resulting in life for my body.

Another Perspective on Observing Passover

Another Perspective on Observing Passover

“Blasphemy,” you say to consider another way to observe Passover from its 3500 years of tradition. Bear with me, I respect and honor God’s command to observe Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, but I believe I have an emphasis on the celebration that should be incorporated into the observance.
Consider that Joseph, a mighty man of God, was in Egypt enjoying the favor of Pharaoh for close to 20 years before he brought his family to Egypt. Consider further, that Joseph and Jacob (the Israelites) enjoyed the favor of Pharaoh1 and the Egyptian people for at least another 70 years until Joseph’s death at 110 years of age.2 It was sometime after Joseph’s death that the Israelites fell out of favor with Pharaoh and then into slavery.

For close to 90 years, beginning with Joseph, there were men and women of God present in the pagan land of Egypt, a land and people ripe for the knowledge of the God of the Israelites. But there seems to be no evidence that this knowledge was being shared.

If my understanding is correct, then it appears to me Joseph and Jacob (the Israelites) all fell short in understanding an important reason for their being in Egypt. They brought with them, to the nation of Egypt, the belief in the power and authority of the One True God, but kept it to themselves.
Perhaps they misunderstood the part of God’s promise to the Patriarchs that His chosen, Abraham’s seed, were to be a blessing to the nations.3 The purpose of the blessing was that those observing and hearing the testimony of this blessed people would seek after a relationship with the God those blessed people served.

God loves His creation. He did not create it for the purpose that He might destroy most of it. Even with Noah He gave His creation plenty of notice to change their ways.

And so with Egypt, He sent His emissaries, the Israelites, to be His witness. He was focusing on turning the greatest nation on earth, at that time, from its pagan ways.
A further underlining of God’s plan for Abraham’s descendants is set forth in Genesis 15:9-13, 17.4 (I suggest you read the footnote.) It is at this time God lays out His vision for Abraham and his descendants with an awesome, graphic demonstration—a diverse sacrifice visited by the flame, smoke and dread of God Himself.

This sacrifice ordered by God is the only place in the Torah where the animals are specified to be three years old. It was with this sacrifice that God affirms His covenant with Abraham. It was here He speaks of the years of bondage, but also opportunity, for Abraham’s future descendants.
Since this is the only time in Torah a three year old sacrifice is specified, I considered what might be the significance of such an event. As the owner of a small flock of sheep, I know that to be able to select three year old animals, you have to have an intimate knowledge of your herd or flock to know the ages of the animals.

Perhaps God is emphasizing His intimate knowledge of His “flock,” His creation. The variety of the sacrifice: heifer, goat, sheep, birds indicated the inclusiveness of the entirety of God’s creation. The specification of female and male indicates the inclusiveness of gender in His plan for Abraham’s descendants.

He underlines His seriousness with palpable dread, fire and smoke much as He would do all those hundreds of years later at Mt Sinai. It was at Sinai that He manifested in fire and smoke before a mixed multitude of native-born, sojourner and gender—heifer, goat, ram, birds as on Abraham’s altar.
God’s heart has always been, that all might be saved. Was is any different toward the Egyptians? Were Joseph and subsequently the Israelites not there on a mission?

The years of bondage in Egypt could, instead, have been years of preeminence. Had the Egyptians turned from their idol worship, God would not have had to make His own case against their false gods with His ten plagues. His promised judgment would have been on an entirely different spiritual basis.
It seems God finally expresses His feeling toward the Egyptians and what could have been the purpose for the Israelites being in Egypt at the crossing of the sea, where He states: “…So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”5
The Israelites could have been those whose testimony brought honor to God. The Israelites could have possessed the gates of Egypt, instead of the gates of Egypt imprisoning them. Talk about lost opportunity to change world history.

God told Jacob He would make Israel a GREAT nation in Egypt.6 Maybe it was easier to believe God meant GREAT in number rather than GREAT because of recognition for the God they served. It is much easier to default to the easy way. Had the Israelites chosen a God-honoring GREATNESS, I believe God’s favor would have given them an eminence in the “opened eyes” of the Egyptians. The Israelites would have left Egypt with possessions given from gratitude, rather than of “good riddance.”

Joseph certainly had his opportunity through the favor he was given with Pharaoh. Yet, Joseph’s own descendant through his son Ephraim would reintroduce a false god—the infamous golden calf.7 It seems no coincidence that this future betrayer of the faith fled to Egypt while awaiting his timing. Perhaps Joseph, too, failed at being an effective witness of the mighty God he knew. Perhaps God allowed Joseph to be the forerunner of His witness to the Egyptians.

That was then, what about now? Let me heed my criticism with a little personal application. What is my response to the sin, paganism and idol worship that abounds in the U.S. today? What bondage am I
experiencing—will yet further experience? Am I a convincing witness to the God I serve? Or, will I fall into the same camp as Joseph and Jacob?

Let me observe and celebrate Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread with a different emphasis than I have in the past. It now becomes an opportunity to repent for my spiritual ancestors’ failings, for my failings to be a more faithful witness. A time not to celebrate the death of an “enemy.” but the grace of God for another chance to share the good news to a corrupt and pagan world.

1 Genesis 47:5-6 …Have your father and your brothers dwell in the best of the land….
2 Genesis 50:26
3 Genesis 22:18
4 Genesis 15:9-13
So He said to him, “Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year- old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.” Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two. And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.
Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him. Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.
Genesis 15:17
And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.
5 Exodus 14:17b-18
6 Gen 46:3
7 1Kings 12:28

Blessings in Disobedience

Blessings in Disobedience

What a shock when I realized, just because I was being blessed financially and with physical possessions, I could at the same time be disobeying God! I had always believed God’s blessing followed obedience to His Instruction (often translated as Law). However, I now realize receiving His blessings is not necessarily evidence of complete obedience.

This seeming conundrum was brought home to me by a teaching from alephbeta.org on the life of Isaac taken from Genesis 25:19 and following. This teaching hinges on the Hebrew word guwr (גור) in Chapter 26 verse 3. I checked 12 different bible translations. Roughly half of them translate the word as either dwell, stay or live. The other half of the translations translate it as sojourn or tarry—in the context of a temporary stay. Strong’s Concordance and Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon agree with the latter translation of this seemingly insignificant word. I won’t try to explain the translation differences, except to note Isaac’s disregard of this word would complicate his life and be the grist for a life lesson making application even in my spiritual life today.

So, let’s talk story. There was a famine in the land. Isaac thought of going to Egypt. The Lord said, “No, “sojourn” in Gerar and I’ll prosper you.” Isaac went to Gerar, but seems to have forgotten to just sojourn.
He gathered great flocks, servants, and had big harvests. The apparent blessings of the Lord were perceived with envy and as a threat to Gerar. Finally, the King of Gerar told him to leave. Isaac left, but only went a little ways. He was still in the Valley of Gerar. The heat gets turned up a little. The Gerar shepherds start denying Isaac’s flocks water. They were claiming the wells which Isaac’s father had dug years earlier were actually theirs.

After repeated conflict over the wells, Isaac finally moved far enough away. Perhaps he finally saw the comforts of Gerar had blinded him to the will of God. As evidence, the new well digging paid off with great, uncontested wells. As a bonus confirmation, the King of Gerar came to make peace with this blessed man of God. As for Isaac, he was back living in tents, as did his father. He undertook again his mandate from God to “occupy” the land that was promised by God to be the inheritance of Isaac and his father, Abraham. Perhaps “sojourn” would be a word to be passed from father to sons

In my experience, I call this “sojourn” aspect of God’s guidance “the Cloud of His presence.” Although all the trappings of blessing may be evident, am I where God wants me to be? I wonder, if in Isaac’s “prosperity” he ever questioned God as to what He meant by sojourn? Surrounded by his stuff did he get the feeling he had stayed too long in Gerar? Did the potential loss of his stuff have to be threatened before he “heard?”

Lord, give me eyes to see, ears to hear, don’t let your blessing dim my perception. May I ever be aware of the moving of the Cloud of Your Presence.