Tag Archives: seventh day

Martin Luther on Sabbath

Martin Luther on Sabbath

I’ve been reading “Martin Luther: the man who rediscovered God.” The author, Eric Metaxas, has written an inspiring and definitive work on Luther’s life. So many of Luther’s bold statements of the veracity and sovereignty of God’s word versus the errancy of man’s pronouncements paved the way for the spiritual rebirth of God’s plan for His Creation.

Over and over again, Luther says to the religious and ruling political authority, “show me from God’s word where I am wrong.” Five hundred years ago, with this mantra, he redefined the relationship between the believer and the church.

With this backdrop, I was wondering why the church continued to observe Sunday, rather than Saturday as Sabbath.

It would seem Luther, for all his virtues as scripture scholar, could still be affected by his prejudices. He did not find favor with the Jewish community of the late 1500s in Europe. So, I believe, he became anti Semitic. His interpretation of scripture reflected this bias. In answer to the question of Saturday Sabbath, he often quoted Apostle Paul’s Galatians 5:3. He would say if you kept the Jewish Sabbath, you’d have to keep all the Law, including circumcision.

Luther, the bible scholar seems to have forgotten that basic interpretation principle of reading what precedes and follows your “proof” text.

The way I read these verses, Apostle Paul was concerned about the Jews, who may have believed in Messiah Yeshua, but did not believe you could have salvation apart from keeping the Law, especially circumcision.

Paul’s position is that Messiah’s work on the cross, the breaking of His flesh and the shedding of His blood, was the complete sacrifice and atonement for our redemption and the forgiveness of our sin. The physical act of circumcision gained nothing and if you relied on it, you were brought under the burden of keeping the entire Law for your salvation.

In this scripture, Paul was not addressing Sabbath keeping, he kept Saturday Sabbath himself, but not for salvation, but to be obedient to God’s commandments.
It is only through appropriating the shed blood of Messiah for forgiveness of sin, that we have salvation and have any confidence in being able to keep God’s Commandments. “May God’s Holy Spirit show me my ‘blind spots’ to the truth of His word,”

PS
I still heartily recommend the book. It really reflects a 29th chapter to Acts.

A Psalm Of Sabbath Thanks

It’s been a long time since I posted to my blog. I have survived, with the Lord’s definite presence, several months of travail. I hope to be able to explore the experience, giving very real spiritual insight to the experience. But for now I’m submitting a poem from my forthcoming book, Poetic Insights of a Left Brained Octogenerian”. The editing and preparation for this book has been on hold for my sabbatical.

A Psalm of Sabbath Thanks
Written with the wonderful revelation of the blessing of Sabbath which begins Friday at sundown with the lighting of two candles.

Two small lights are kindled as darkness descends−
Your ancient promise of rest begins.
Cares from my soul will be dispelled−
As light pierces darkness—six day’s labor quelled.

Your seventh day—not punishment meant−
Not a burden—a holy sacrament.
Created by love—a commanded celebration
Sets man apart from all of creation.

Yeshua, Your Son, confirmed the plan—
The day was ordained for the good of man.
Before man was vexed by Satan’s deceit−
The day for his rest was made complete

Those two small lights hold such promise
Must I remain a doubting Thomas?
With thanksgiving I now joyfully enter−
Knowing rest will follow when keeping Sabbath center.

Kennedy Brown

A Psalm of Sabbath Thanks

IMG_1997

A Psalm of Sabbath Thanks

Two small lights are kindled as darkness descends−
Your ancient promise of rest begins.
Will cares from my soul now dispel−
As light pierces darkness, so life’s labors quell.

Your seventh day is not punishment meant−
It is not a burden, yet true, a sacrament.
Your love it created and ordered its time−
Blessing upon blessing follow, pleasing as rhyme.

Yeshua, Your Son, Your very self, proclaimed the day from its creation−
From Egypt and Sinai He spoke it to every nation.
Even before man became vexed by satan’s plan−
The day for rejuvenation; a time of appreciation was in the van.

Those two small lights hold such promise–
How could I have been doubting as Thomas?
With thanksgiving I now joyfully enter−
Knowing light follows darkness when keeping Your day at the center.

Kennedy Brown
Gerizim
Shabbat 12/19/15

Parsha Vayetze

Parsha Vayetze

Does the title raise big question marks for you? You’re not alone. Many Christians don’t know either word. I certainly didn’t until a few years ago.

My genesis began with Exodus as I was reading the Ten Commandments one day: God said that His people are to keep the Sabbath day holy (Exodus 20). There was no way I could manipulate the fourth commandment into anything other than observing it as a unique, holy day. I could find no scriptural justification to change to any day other than Saturday. Surprise! Surprise!

I had been raised in a Christian family and lived in a “Sunday-Church” culture, but I could not deny God’s invitation to obey His Word. After much study, prayer and questioning, my wife, Janelle and I said, “Yes, Yeshua (Jesus), we will obey Your commandments to show You we love You.” (Jn 14:23)

In the course of following God’s guidance, we not only spent much time on Saturday praying, reading the Torah (first five books of the bible recorded by Moses) but also enjoying each other’s company and conversation and putting aside all work projects for the day. We began on Friday night and ended at sundown on Saturday, following the biblical pattern. Celebrating this time frame was a significant part of our honoring God’s seven days of creation – we saw the connection, and it became very meaningful.

Rather than viewing this big shift in our weekly schedule as a drudgery, a legalistic restriction of our freedom, we both found God met us in adventurous, delightful ways, and we continue to look forward to and embrace each Sabbath experience.

So, that’s how it came about that we ran into the word parsha. Let me now explain what the words Parsha Vayetze mean and as a bonus I’ll tell you of a surprise application of this knowledge!

Well, it turns out these words are transliterated Hebrew words. That is to say, rather than writing them in Hebrew, which I (and most Christians) cannot read, they give the words a phonetic English spelling. Parsha is the Hebrew word for “portion.” Vayetze would be the Hebrew word for “he went out.”

You may ask, “Portion of what?”

I would answer, “A portion of the first five books (Torah) of the Old Testament.”

You might then ask, “What portion?”

“Good question — you’re paying attention. It’s one of the fifty-two portions into which the Torah is divided,so it can be read through, weekly in a year.”

Your insatiable curiosity might then wonder who divided it? “Just like the bible itself and its divisions into chapters and verses, it was a man thing. The division is arbitrary and pretty much thematic. Although some parshat ( portions) seem to contain more than one theme. There had to be some portions so constructed to keep the division doable within the 52 weeks.”

I’ll leave our concersation and just go ahead and define the second word Vayetze. Man’s logic says that each of those 52 portions should be easily identifiable. Logic again says, “Let’s take the opening few words of each parsha and boil them down into a Hebrew word which is included within the first verse.” A neat system if you understand Hebrew, but a little confusing if you don’t. But look at it this way—when you’ve got all the transliterated names down of the 52 portions you’ll know at least 52 words of Hebrew—in case that’s a goal of yours!

Vayetze is the seventh weekly portion for the yearly cycle. It comes from Genesis 28:10, “Now Jacob went out from Beersheba….” The word vayetze is the transliterated Hebrew word for “he went out.”

Let’s now look at my primary purpose for writing this post. My wife, Janelle, and I really try to make personal application of the message in each parsha. This keeps us from just gaining knowledge for knowledge’s sake. We’ve been going over these portions now for the last several years. You would think we had surely gleaned all the application there was by now. Ha, I laugh! The depth of scripture is really unfathomable. We read the ponderings and observations of various other Torah seekers and continue to be amazed at the unlimited nuance of each portion.

What jumped out at me about this year’s reading of Vayetze came from a clue offered by one author and my own expanded revelation. This may sound prideful, but Janelle and I believe that as we seek to have our spiritual eyes opened and don’t depend so much on our thought process we will gain greater insight into the heart of Father.

Last week’s parsha dealt with Jacob’s deception of Isaac and then this week’s parsha (Gen 28:10-32:3) deals with the deception of Jacob by Laban. Although there are several other stories and themes within the few chapters of this parsha, I felt compelled to meditate on the significance of these two scenarios.

Again, I include Janelle in this examination of parsha insight as we are certainly a team and family spiritual life is a team activity. Together, we have for many years personally, individually addressed the question of generational iniquity—dispositions toward a particular sin or sin syndrome that can be traced down through the family line. This sin or at least the temptation of it does not necessarily appear in the same form in every generation, but it can be traced. Sometimes this “tracing” does not come from knowledge of family history, but from Holy Spirit revelation. Often there is no way to “prove” the generational existence, but the effect of recognizing and bringing the particular sin under the cleansing blood of Yeshua (Jesus) has had demonstrable effect on our children and grandchildren. If you’re interested in various testimonies and scriptural support, contact me for a few articles Janelle has written.

This spiritual experience of ours over the years opened my eyes to a possible truth of this week’s parsha. A review of the key players will help: Laban and Rebekah are brother and sister. Rebekah is Jacob’s mother. It is Rebekah who has the word from God that Jacob is to be the preferred son; that the older (Esau) was to serve the younger. It is Rebekah who puts Jacob up to impersonating his brother Esau in order to gain the blessing from his father Isaac—the blessing that by heredity was to have gone to Esau, but by God’s plan was to have gone to Jacob.

Hold on! Yes, it was God’s plan for Jacob to carry on the family leadership, but did it have to come about through the deception by both Rebekah and Jacob? As I continued reading, I was hoping for an answer to this question.

Now, jump ahead to chapter 29 and Jacob’s long awaited wedding day in which he anticipates making Rachel his wife. I’m sure you recall the story: Jacob worked for Laban seven years to acquire his beloved Rachel as his wife. However, on their wedding night, Rachel’s father, Laban, secretly substitutes his oldest unmarried daughter, Leah for Rachel. I call that a cruel deception!

Is this practice of deception a family trait, a family curse, a family sin? Does it have generational consequence? Let’s see.

Although Jacob winds up with Rachel by working seven more years for Laban, it is then Rachel who deceives her father, Laban, and steals the family idols (Gen 31).

Following the deception trail, we come to Reuben, Leah’s first born. He deceives his father Jacob, by seducing his father’s concubine, Bilhah (Gen 35:22). Then read about Leah’s sons Simeon and Levi and their deception of Hamor and the Hivites (Gen 34). We could also talk about Judah, Joseph’s experience and many others in this family line.

Did it all start with Terah the first mentioned progenitor of Abram (Abraham) and his brother, Nahor (Laban and Rebekah’s father)? I’m sure not. However, it was the recognition of the sister—brother relationship of Rebekah and Laban and their respective blatant deceptions that started me to question. Then the pie opened up and all the “black birds” began to fly out (if you remember the nursery rhyme).

What do we do with this bit of information? Well, first, it called for Janelle and me to inquire of the Lord again as to our own unrecognized, unrepented, unblood-washed generational iniquity (including our individual, personal updating of same). Secondly, it gave us a bigger world view of our opportunity to intercede beyond our family borders.

To summarize our understanding of the reading of this year’s parsha it was more than the deception by mother and son, even when premised on seeing God’s will accomplished. Let me summarize it this way:

You cannot change the biblical record, but you can change something that does dramatically affect you. As a child of Abraham by faith, you can identify with your Hebrew ancestors’ temptation to deceive in small and big ways. When you acknowledge your own temptation to do the same, you qualify as an authentic intercessor for those same biblical characters and the sin of deception, even though premised on God’s will, they passed down to you. You embrace a revised standard of spiritual morality.

God’s Word is truly the Living Torah. Reading each Torah portion with this connection to your Hebrew ancestors can bring changes to your own life and to that of your descendants as well. We have demonstrable evidence of this among our four children, thirteen grandchildren and even our three great grandchildren!

What can the possible outcome be of an elderly couple in Tennessee interceding for such an epic challenge? Only, God knows!

If you are a child of Abraham by faith, ask Him what He knows about your connection to the Torah and your Hebrew ancestors. Only God knows what it is, but if you ask Him, He’ll make sure each week to bless you with making the Torah come alive and help you make personal application..

Finally, I’m Shema Compliant!

photo 1

photo 2

Shema — Deu 6:4-9
“…these words which I command you today you shall…write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

After four years of reciting the Shema at least weekly I finally can do so without having to feel guilty. Of course, it is done Tennessee hill-country style—pvc caps and vinyl tubing! But after all, the Lord seems to appreciate the creative process!