Category Archives: Is the Old Testament Relevant Today?

Is God’s Law A Burden?

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible. It is written originally in Hebrew in a literary style that begins one section after another, each with the next letter of the aleph bet (Hebrew alphabet). It is beautiful and passionate. It focuses on the law of God. It is only one place in scripture that speaks about the law of God, but it is a great place to start. Read and digest all that it claims about the law of God and then ask yourself, does describe the law as burdensome? difficult? harsh? or does it describe it as quite different than that? Does it describe something that we would want to be set free from? Is it bondage?

Put aside what you think you know about the law from those who do not understand it and listen to how it is described by one who understood it well and loved our heavenly Father very deeply. Don’t worry for now about what is the full content of “the law” or if we can fully follow the law today, but instead let us just try to better understand if scripture reveals it to be burdensome or something else.

As you grow in understanding, you will actually come to realize that much of the teaching today in the Christian church is still based on the law, even while many Christians say it is obsolete… tithing, not coveting, no idols, etc. Even the need for blood to be shed for forgiveness of sin comes from the Law. Let us not forget that Yeshua shed his blood for our sin. It is far beyond the 10 commandments, but many now simply pick and choose what they will or will not obey.

Before we begin with Psalm 119, however, let’s hear what Yeshua had to say about the law given through Moses. Some claim He never taught that people should follow it.

Matthew 23: 1-4

      1Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples, 2saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; 3therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them. 4“They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.

In fact, if we study the Moses seat we learn that only the books of Moses would be taught from one sitting in it. Thus we see Yeshua clearly told the people to obey what was taught from Moses . The burden, as Yeshua describes it, was associated with all the extra rules made by the Pharisees, not the commands given by YHWH through Moses.

Yeshua went on at a different time to clearly state he did not come to abolish the Law and that whoever annuls the commandments will be least in the kingdom but whoever keeps and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom. It certainly sounds like we should not be dismissing the Law to easily.

Matthew 5:17-20

      17“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Psalm 119

Meditations and Prayers Relating to the Law of God.

Aleph.

     1How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
Who walk in the law of the LORD.

      2How blessed are those who observe His testimonies,
Who seek Him with all their heart.

      3They also do no unrighteousness;
They walk in His ways.

      4You have ordained Your precepts,
That we should keep them diligently.

      5Oh that my ways may be established
To keep Your statutes!

      6Then I shall not be ashamed
When I look upon all Your commandments.

      7I shall give thanks to You with uprightness of heart,
When I learn Your righteous judgments.

      8I shall keep Your statutes;
Do not forsake me utterly!

Beth.

     9How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.

      10With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.

      11Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.

      12Blessed are You, O LORD;
Teach me Your statutes.

      13With my lips I have told of
All the ordinances of Your mouth.

      14I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies,
As much as in all riches.

      15I will meditate on Your precepts
And regard Your ways.

      16I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.

Gimel.

     17Deal bountifully with Your servant,
That I may live and keep Your word.

      18Open my eyes, that I may behold
Wonderful things from Your law.

      19I am a stranger in the earth;
Do not hide Your commandments from me.

      20My soul is crushed with longing
After Your ordinances at all times.

      21You rebuke the arrogant, the cursed,
Who wander from Your commandments.

      22Take away reproach and contempt from me,
For I observe Your testimonies.

      23Even though princes sit and talk against me,
Your servant meditates on Your statutes.

      24Your testimonies also are my delight;
They are my counselors.

Daleth.

    25My soul cleaves to the dust;
Revive me according to Your word.

      26I have told of my ways, and You have answered me;
Teach me Your statutes.

      27Make me understand the way of Your precepts,
So I will meditate on Your wonders.

      28My soul weeps because of grief;
Strengthen me according to Your word.

      29Remove the false way from me,
And graciously grant me Your law.

      30I have chosen the faithful way;
I have placed Your ordinances before me.

      31I cling to Your testimonies;
O LORD, do not put me to shame!

      32I shall run the way of Your commandments,
For You will enlarge my heart.

He.

     33Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes,
And I shall observe it to the end.

      34Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law
And keep it with all my heart.

      35Make me walk in the path of Your commandments,
For I delight in it.

      36Incline my heart to Your testimonies
And not to dishonest gain.

      37Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity,
And revive me in Your ways.

      38Establish Your word to Your servant,
As that which produces reverence for You.

      39Turn away my reproach which I dread,
For Your ordinances are good.

      40Behold, I long for Your precepts;
Revive me through Your righteousness.

Vav.

     41May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD,
Your salvation according to Your word;

      42So I will have an answer for him who reproaches me,
For I trust in Your word.

      43And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
For I wait for Your ordinances.

      44So I will keep Your law continually,
Forever and ever.

      45And I will walk at liberty,
For I seek Your precepts.

      46I will also speak of Your testimonies before kings
And shall not be ashamed.

      47I shall delight in Your commandments,
Which I love.

      48And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments,
Which I love;
And I will meditate on Your statutes.

Zayin.

49Remember the word to Your servant,
In which You have made me hope.

      50This is my comfort in my affliction,
That Your word has revived me.

      51The arrogant utterly deride me,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your law.

      52I have remembered Your ordinances from of old, O LORD,
And comfort myself.

      53Burning indignation has seized me because of the wicked,
Who forsake Your law.

      54Your statutes are my songs
In the house of my pilgrimage.

      55O LORD, I remember Your name in the night,
And keep Your law.

      56This has become mine,
That I observe Your precepts.

Heth.

57The LORD is my portion;
I have promised to keep Your words.

      58I sought Your favor with all my heart;
Be gracious to me according to Your word.

      59I considered my ways
And turned my feet to Your testimonies.

      60I hastened and did not delay
To keep Your commandments.

      61The cords of the wicked have encircled me,
But I have not forgotten Your law.

      62At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You
Because of Your righteous ordinances.

      63I am a companion of all those who fear You,
And of those who keep Your precepts.

      64The earth is full of Your lovingkindness, O LORD;
Teach me Your statutes.

Teth.

65You have dealt well with Your servant,
O LORD, according to Your word.

      66Teach me good discernment and knowledge,
For I believe in Your commandments.

      67Before I was afflicted I went astray,
But now I keep Your word.

      68You are good and do good;
Teach me Your statutes.

      69The arrogant have forged a lie against me;
With all my heart I will observe Your precepts.

      70Their heart is covered with fat,
But I delight in Your law.

      71It is good for me that I was afflicted,
That I may learn Your statutes.

      72The law of Your mouth is better to me
Than thousands of gold and silver pieces.

Yodh.

     73Your hands made me and fashioned me;
Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.

      74May those who fear You see me and be glad,
Because I wait for Your word.

      75I know, O LORD, that Your judgments are righteous,
And that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.

      76O may Your lovingkindness comfort me,
According to Your word to Your servant.

      77May Your compassion come to me that I may live,
For Your law is my delight.

      78May the arrogant be ashamed, for they subvert me with a lie;
But I shall meditate on Your precepts.

      79May those who fear You turn to me,
Even those who know Your testimonies.

      80May my heart be blameless in Your statutes,
So that I will not be ashamed.

Kaph.

     81My soul languishes for Your salvation;
I wait for Your word.

      82My eyes fail with longing for Your word,
While I say, “When will You comfort me?”

      83Though I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,
I do not forget Your statutes.

      84How many are the days of Your servant?
When will You execute judgment on those who persecute me?

      85The arrogant have dug pits for me,
Men who are not in accord with Your law.

      86All Your commandments are faithful;
They have persecuted me with a lie; help me!

      87They almost destroyed me on earth,
But as for me, I did not forsake Your precepts.

      88Revive me according to Your lovingkindness,
So that I may keep the testimony of Your mouth.

Lamedh.

89Forever, O LORD,
Your word is settled in heaven.

      90Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations;
You established the earth, and it stands.

      91They stand this day according to Your ordinances,
For all things are Your servants.

      92If Your law had not been my delight,
Then I would have perished in my affliction.

      93I will never forget Your precepts,
For by them You have revived me.

      94I am Yours, save me;
For I have sought Your precepts.

      95The wicked wait for me to destroy me;
I shall diligently consider Your testimonies.

      96I have seen a limit to all perfection;
Your commandment is exceedingly broad.

Mem.

      97O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.

      98Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine.

      99I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.

      100I understand more than the aged,
Because I have observed Your precepts.

      101I have restrained my feet from every evil way,
That I may keep Your word.

      102I have not turned aside from Your ordinances,
For You Yourself have taught me.

      103How sweet are Your words to my taste!
Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

      104From Your precepts I get understanding;
Therefore I hate every false way.

Nun.

     105Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.

      106I have sworn and I will confirm it,
That I will keep Your righteous ordinances.

      107I am exceedingly afflicted;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.

      108O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD,
And teach me Your ordinances.

      109My life is continually in my hand,
Yet I do not forget Your law.

      110The wicked have laid a snare for me,
Yet I have not gone astray from Your precepts.

      111I have inherited Your testimonies forever,
For they are the joy of my heart.

      112I have inclined my heart to perform Your statutes
Forever, even to the end.

Samekh.

     113I hate those who are double-minded,
But I love Your law.

      114You are my hiding place and my shield;
I wait for Your word.

      115Depart from me, evildoers,
That I may observe the commandments of my God.

      116Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.

      117Uphold me that I may be safe,
That I may have regard for Your statutes continually.

      118You have rejected all those who wander from Your statutes,
For their deceitfulness is useless.

      119You have removed all the wicked of the earth like dross;
Therefore I love Your testimonies.

      120My flesh trembles for fear of You,
And I am afraid of Your judgments.

Ayin.

     121I have done justice and righteousness;
Do not leave me to my oppressors.

      122Be surety for Your servant for good;
Do not let the arrogant oppress me.

      123My eyes fail with longing for Your salvation
And for Your righteous word.

      124Deal with Your servant according to Your lovingkindness
And teach me Your statutes.

      125I am Your servant; give me understanding,
That I may know Your testimonies.

      126It is time for the LORD to act,
For they have broken Your law.

      127Therefore I love Your commandments
Above gold, yes, above fine gold.

      128Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything,
I hate every false way.

Pe.

     129Your testimonies are wonderful;
Therefore my soul observes them.

      130The unfolding of Your words gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple.

      131I opened my mouth wide and panted,
For I longed for Your commandments.

      132Turn to me and be gracious to me,
After Your manner with those who love Your name.

      133Establish my footsteps in Your word,
And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.

      134Redeem me from the oppression of man,
That I may keep Your precepts.

      135Make Your face shine upon Your servant,
And teach me Your statutes.

      136My eyes shed streams of water,
Because they do not keep Your law.

Tsadhe.

     137Righteous are You, O LORD,
And upright are Your judgments.

      138You have commanded Your testimonies in righteousness
And exceeding faithfulness.

      139My zeal has consumed me,
Because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.

      140Your word is very pure,
Therefore Your servant loves it.

      141I am small and despised,
Yet I do not forget Your precepts.

      142Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness,
And Your law is truth.

      143Trouble and anguish have come upon me,
Yet Your commandments are my delight.

      144Your testimonies are righteous forever;
Give me understanding that I may live.

Qoph.

     145I cried with all my heart; answer me, O LORD!
I will observe Your statutes.

      146I cried to You; save me
And I shall keep Your testimonies.

      147I rise before dawn and cry for help;
I wait for Your words.

      148My eyes anticipate the night watches,
That I may meditate on Your word.

      149Hear my voice according to Your lovingkindness;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your ordinances.

      150Those who follow after wickedness draw near;
They are far from Your law.

      151You are near, O LORD,
And all Your commandments are truth.

      152Of old I have known from Your testimonies
That You have founded them forever.

Resh.

     153Look upon my affliction and rescue me,
For I do not forget Your law.

      154Plead my cause and redeem me;
Revive me according to Your word.

      155Salvation is far from the wicked,
For they do not seek Your statutes.

      156Great are Your mercies, O LORD;
Revive me according to Your ordinances.

      157Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
Yet I do not turn aside from Your testimonies.

      158I behold the treacherous and loathe them,
Because they do not keep Your word.

      159Consider how I love Your precepts;
Revive me, O LORD, according to Your lovingkindness.

      160The sum of Your word is truth,
And every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting.

Shin.

     161Princes persecute me without cause,
But my heart stands in awe of Your words.

      162I rejoice at Your word,
As one who finds great spoil.

      163I hate and despise falsehood,
But I love Your law.

      164Seven times a day I praise You,
Because of Your righteous ordinances.

      165Those who love Your law have great peace,
And nothing causes them to stumble.

      166I hope for Your salvation, O LORD,
And do Your commandments.

      167My soul keeps Your testimonies,
And I love them exceedingly.

      168I keep Your precepts and Your testimonies,
For all my ways are before You.

Tav.

     169Let my cry come before You, O LORD;
Give me understanding according to Your word.

      170Let my supplication come before You;
Deliver me according to Your word.

      171Let my lips utter praise,
For You teach me Your statutes.

      172Let my tongue sing of Your word,
For all Your commandments are righteousness.

      173Let Your hand be ready to help me,
For I have chosen Your precepts.

      174I long for Your salvation, O LORD,
And Your law is my delight.

      175Let my soul live that it may praise You,
And let Your ordinances help me.

      176I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Your servant,
For I do not forget Your commandments.

In case it is not obvious, let’s recap a few of the things that are written in scripture about the law of God…

righteous, blessed, teaches me, do not forget it, do not go astray from it, pure, treasured, rejoice, delight,  I trust in Your word, , I will walk at liberty because I seek Your precepts, I shall delight in Your commandments which I love, I will lift up my hands to Your commandments which I love, Your statutes are my songs, I shall give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances, I delight in your law, better than gold and silver,  forever Your word is settled in heaven, I would have perished if Your law had not been my delight, oh how I love Your law!, Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, Your words are sweeter than honey, Your word is a lamp unto my feet, I love Your commandments above gold, the unfolding of Your word brings light and gives understanding to the simple, I longed for Your commandments, Your word is very pure and therefore Your servant loves it, Your law is truth, Your commandments are my delight, I will observe Your statutes, the wicked are far from Your law, every one of Your righteous ordinances is everlasting, I love Your law, I praise You because of Your ordinances, those who love Your law have great peace and do not stumble, all Your commandments are righteousness, Your law is my delight

The law sounds wonderful as described here. It is not a burden that we need to be free of it, as so many teach today. If it were, would not Yeshua have said so? Would not Yeshua have told us the law was abolished? obsolete? The law described here is something which helps us, something in which we can rejoice and delight, something we can treasure. It is not followed out of obligation or for salvation anymore than obeying any other instructions of Yeshua.

It sounds like a beautiful set of instructions from the Lord, which I want to understand more… both in their original context and with regards to how they still apply to my life today. Psalm 119, if we let it, can really be a testimony for the law of God as a wonderful gift and guide that helps us to know how God thinks we should live and what He values. Obviously to fully understand the depths of what is in the law and how it may still apply, we need to study the Torah (1st 5 books of the Bible).  Some of the elements of the law (e.g. ceremonial law) can no longer be carried out as God specified while there is no temple and no Levitical priesthood, but that should not discourage us from understanding and following God’s law as much as we can. Should we walk away from doing as Christ taught just because we can’t do it perfectly?

It is hard to consider this for many as it contradicts so much of what is taught in churches today. However, we must decide what is the unchanging record of God’s instruction… the Bible or the word of man?  We can be sure that Yeshua referred to the scriptures as the source of truth for the law of God, not the laws of the Pharisees.

The Torah is a great place to start for any Christian, many of whom have been taught to really focus only on the New Testament. Spoiler alert… if the New Testament is the building, the Old Testament is the foundation that holds it up. They are not contradictory, but rather complementary.

Pray with me that our Creator and Father would open our eyes, and the eyes of His followers around the world, that we may behold wonderful things from His law. Give us understanding, that we may observe His law and keep it with all our heart.

To learn more:

Understanding The Law – What Does It Mean Today?

Today’s teaching is longer than most, but it is important. I encourage you to read it all the way through and truly reflect on it in prayer. It may challenge some of what you have accepted. Test it against the scripture. Ask YHWH to lead you.

There is much confusion about what the law means to Christians today. Many teachers of Christianity say that the law (and essentially all the instructions of the Old Testament) no longer apply now that Yeshua has come, died for us, and been resurrected. They proclaim that we are covered in grace and no longer in “bondage” to the law. In order to support this case, people point to passages from Acts and the letters of Paul, but ignore or disregard the Old Testament, the earthly ministry of Yeshua, and many other writings of Paul where he is clearly teaching that we should uphold the law. Further, they must ignore that Paul encourages others to follow his example, which is modeled after the example of Yeshua and includes adherence to the law. It can be confusing for sure and at times Paul seems on the surface to contradict himself.

If we do a quick check, we realize quickly that those teaching against the law are actually inconsistent. They are saying the law is null and void but still teaching that we should follow parts of the law and discard others. Do not murder? Do not covet? Do not have idols? Do not commit adultery? These are all part of the law of YHWH. So, too, is tithing… recognizing the law goes beyond the 10 commandments. We already pick and choose which elements to follow and which we will not. We should take greater care to challenge and understand what scripture says about which we should still be following vs. trusting the traditions of men taught widely in churches without testing against holy scripture.

People were similarly confused in in the early church. So much so that Peter even warned us about it .

[2 Peter 3:15-18]

15 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him— 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.

17 You already know these things, dear friends. So be on guard; then you will not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people and lose your own secure footing. 18 Rather, you must grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

All glory to him, both now and forever! Amen.

We should not simply dismiss the seeming contradictions and pick the scripture that feel most comfortable to follow. Instead, each of us should evaluate and seek to understand this complex and foundational issue. But whom should we trust? The Christian majority? Scholars and teachers?  A particular respected or popular teacher? or the word of God in the Bible, which would include the example Yeshua set in His earthly ministry?

The answer, I hope is fairly straightforward… we should trust in the word of God, in Yeshua, rather than the doctrine of men. It is fine to listen to the teachings of scholars and pastors, but we must test everything ourselves against scripture. This can take time and be hard, but that is no excuse just to take someone else’s word for it. That demonstrates a lack of diligence or lack of recognition in the importance of following Yeshua and certainly does not show a love for God and that He is a priority in our lives. (Yes, you should test what I teach as well, comparing it to the scriptures. Do not take my word for it, but rather seek to understand the methodology and truth revealed from studying scripture.)

First, let’s deal with the belief that the majority can not be wrong. If you claim to be Christian, then you already accept that premise to be false. The majority of the world rejects Yeshua as God and savior. Well then… perhaps it is the majority of God’s people, backed by scholars and teachers, that can not be wrong? Again, that would be contradictory to the foundation of Christianity itself. The most respected teachers and scholars of the law, with centuries of tradition on their side, were the Pharisees and Sadducees at the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. They persecuted and killed Yeshua, denying that He was God. Thus, as Christians we once again already believe that the religious majority of God’s people along with the  scholars and teachers (complete with centuries of tradition) were wrong. Perhaps then we believe that the Christian majority after the death of Christ can not be wrong? Once again, we can look to the Protestant Reformation as an example of true believers fighting against the wrong teaching and doctrine of the church. We have much to be thankful for that now we have God’s word available for all of us to read plainly in our own language instead of hidden away behind closed doors, written in Latin, and kept from the people. How can we possibly hope to know and follow God’s instruction fully if we are not allowed access to His word except a few minutes a week and that even only told to us through another person based on what they choose to share? In fact, God commanded us to study and know His word and to use it as test to identify false teachers. This is a command we can only do properly if we have access to His word.

[Deuteronomy 13:1-5] 13 [a]“Suppose there are prophets among you or those who dream dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles occur. If they then say, ‘Come, let us worship other gods’—gods you have not known before— do not listen to them. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul. Serve only the Lord your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. The false prophets or visionaries who try to lead you astray must be put to death, for they encourage rebellion against the Lord your God, who redeemed you from slavery and brought you out of the land of Egypt. Since they try to lead you astray from the way the Lord your God commanded you to live, you must put them to death. In this way you will purge the evil from among you.

No teacher in all the history of God’s people is infallible with the notable exception of Yeshua. Yeshua, in fact, as recorded in the book of John was the very word of God made flesh.

[John 1:1-18] In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created,[aand his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.[b]

God sent a man, John the Baptist,[c] to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. 11 He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. 12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.

14 So the Word became human[d] and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.[e] And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.

15 John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’”

16 From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another.[f] 17 For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God,[g] is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.

Yeshua is in fact eternal and is the word of God made flesh to dwell among us. So we should pay special attention to what He teaches about the law, and how he acts with regards to the law. In this we will find truth in regards to the law.  Let us then explore what God’s word says about the law. Is it bondage? Has it changed with the death and resurrection of Yeshua?

In fact, Yeshua is incredibly clear… He specifically warns us not to misunderstand why He came and to obey God’s law (not to ignore them) and teach them to others. He clearly indicates that some of the law has been accomplished or fulfilled in Him, and some has not. It is important for us to study and learn which is which and not just assume everything the mainstream Christian churches teach today is accurate and consistent with the Biblical text or the example of Yeshua.

[Matthew 5:17-19] 17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved. 19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Yeshua further clarifies the subject of the law by clearly stating it is not bondage but rather God’s instructions on how to love God and love one another.

[Matthew 22:35-40] 35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[e] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[f] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”

The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on loving God and loving one another. That does not sound like bondage at all! Why would God come as Jesus to die to set us free from the law… from loving God and loving others? This makes no sense. (You can read more about what God’s word says about the law throughout the Old Testament, such as Psalm 119.)

Yeshua went on to instruct his disciples in the great commission to teach others to observe ALL that He commanded them. This includes the teachings of the Old Testament including the law, which Yeshua taught and observed without fail.  Please note that this is after Yeshua died and was risen! Yeshua did not cancel the law, but rather confirmed its importance.

[Matthew 28:19-20]  19“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Clearly, we must reconsider the misconception that Yeshua came to “set us free from the law”.

This is confirmed in several other scriptures in Old and New Testament. I have included but a few.

[Deuteronomy 11:26-28] 26 “Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! 27 You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. 28 But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before.

[Psalm 19:7-13] The instructions of the Lord are perfect, reviving the soul. The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Reverence for the Lord is pure, lasting forever. The laws of the Lord are true; each one is fair. 10 They are more desirable than gold, even the finest gold. They are sweeter than honey, even honey dripping from the comb. 11 They are a warning to your servant, a great reward for those who obey them.

12 How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant from deliberate sins! Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.

[1 John 2:3-6] And we can be sure that we know him if we obey his commandments. If someone claims, “I know God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and is not living in the truth. But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.

[1John 5:2-3]  We know we love God’s children if we love God and obey his commandments. Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome.

[James 1:25] 25 But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.

Paul encourages those in Corinth to follow His example, which was modeled after Yeshua. Both Yeshua and Paul followed the law. Would it then make sense that Paul teaches to disregard the law? In fact, Paul teaches explicitly the importance of following the law! Keep in mind that when he writes 2 Timothy 3:16-17 there is not yet a New Testament. He must, therefore, be referring to the Old Testament.  Is he contradicting himself with regards to how he teaches about God’s law? A detailed study of context in Paul’s letter is necessary to understand properly what Paul is teaching.

[1 Corinthians 11:1And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.

[Romans 3:31] 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.

[Romans 7:7] Well then, am I suggesting that the law of God is sinful? Of course not! In fact, it was the law that showed me my sin. I would never have known that coveting is wrong if the law had not said, “You must not covet.”[c]

[Romans 7:12] 12 But still, the law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.

[2 Timothy 3:16-17] 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

One of the most referenced scriptures by those who say we are no longer under the Mosaic law is Romans 6:14. However, careful study of context shows that Paul is not referring to Mosaic law, but rather what he refers to as the law of sin and death, as clarified in Romans 8:1-2.

[Romans 6:14] 14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

[Romans 8:1-2] Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life [a]in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

To study more deeply about what Paul really taught about the law, we encourage you to visit 119Ministries.com and watch their video series on the “Pauline Paradox”.

Yeshua did not come to set us free from the law. The law is perfect. The laws sets us free. The law is God’s instruction on how to love Him and one another. Why would He want to set us free from this?

Yeshua came to set us free from the curse we receive when we fail to live up to God’s law perfectly. All of us fall short of perfectly executing God’s law. Jesus came to take our punishment so that we could be redeemed… be forgiven.

[John 3:16-21] 16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[g] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.

18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[h]

So we know that we do not need to follow the law to be saved… to find salvation. Salvation comes through Yeshua alone by grace, through faith and not by works. So Yeshua now holds in our place the judgment and condemnation for our failures to properly follow the law. He has paid the price on our behalf.

To learn more  about why Yeshua came to live among us, died, was buried and rose again… please read our teaching about The Message of The Cross.

So why then should we still follow the law?

We follow the law not to achieve salvation, but because we are saved! We follow the law because God commanded it and because it was His instruction for how to love God and love one another. We follow the law to show God we love Him. The law is not then cancelled or no longer valid, but rather it serves us still as God’s guide and instruction for our lives. We do well to study carefully and ask God’s help to guide us in understanding what elements of the law have been fulfilled in Yeshua’s death and resurrection and which have not. The entire Bible is relevant and applicable to our lives today as we seek to know, love, and serve God.

To learn more:

The Word Come To Life

1 John contains an interesting introduction which is easy to skip over if we are not careful. John starts with eternity in mind. What they learned and experienced through their relationship with Messiah was entirely consistent and unchanged since the beginning. YHWH does not change (Malachi 3:6). Consistent with the opening in the gospel of John, he also here refers to Messiah as the Word, in this case the Word of Life. This reminds us that the Messiah is the Word become flesh to walk among us. When we have questions about how we should live, we can not only study what Yeshua taught, but also how he and his disciples lived. We can be assured that the Word has not changed since the beginning, and as such we are called to study and learn the Torah and the writings of the prophets, not just the “New Testament”. They do not contradict when understood properly. None is obsolete or irrelevant. In fact the New Testament builds upon the Old Testament like a house on a foundation. Without the foundation, it is not complete and will not function properly (will be misunderstood in this case).

I find it encouraging but also challenging that he states that this message is proclaimed and shared so that they may have fellowship together and with the Father. The disciples were not content to let others continue in wrong understanding and wrong teaching but reached out to teach and instruct others. Where people are living according to an incorrect or incomplete understanding of the Word, the fellowship with fellow man and with YHWH is not complete.  Perhaps the most challenging is that these things are written to their joy may be complete. I pray the LORD sustains me in this way that I would find joy in bringing the word at all times and not get distracted and weighed down with the daily toils of life.

One more point to focus on here is that we are to have fellowship with the Father, not with Yeshua alone. Some Christians put all the focus on Yeshua and neglect our relationship with the Father. In fact, Yeshua always pointed to and lived the example and taught his disciples to look to the Father rather than himself. He was there to help us connect with the Father.

1 John 1:1-4

Introduction, The Incarnate Word

      1What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life— 2and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us— 3what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Remember The Words Of the Prophets and Of Our Savior

The commandments of our LORD and Savior are consistent with the words spoken by the holy prophets. They are not different. Peter calls us in his second letter to remember both as he then goes on to remind us of what they both said. Yeshua fulfilled the message of the Torah and the prophets. He did not change the message or end it. Let us remember as Peter encourages us to do.

We are also reminded to look forward to the coming day of the LORD. For those who gladly follow him now, this is a great hope and expectation. For those who reject and rebel against him, it will stand as a day of judgment. Let us keep this coming day in mind as we choose to live our lives daily.

2 Peter 3

Purpose of This Letter

1This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

The Coming Day of the Lord

            3Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

      8But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

A New Heaven and Earth

     10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.

      11Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

      14Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, 15and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, 16as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. 17You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Do not miss the warning Peter gives regarding Paul in verses 16-18. Paul is still misunderstood and has been since he started teaching. If he was misunderstood then by people who shared his culture and language and customs, then it is easy to imaging how so many Christians today misunderstand him and what he was teaching. As an example, many  say he taught against the Torah and the law, but this is wrong. He taught against the law for salvation. He did not teach against obeying the law. This is one simple example. He is perhaps the most misquoted and misunderstood of any Biblical figure and often his letters are used as an excuse to behave differently than how Yeshua (and his disciples) actually demonstrated for us. (For more on this: Understanding the Law – What Does It Mean For Us Today, Is God’s Law A Burden?, Remember the Sabbath)

I truly encourage you to test everything you are taught against what the word actually says and pray for wisdom and discernment.

I include some helpful links on my website at Focused Ministries – Understanding Hebrew Roots.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Be Doers of the Word Rather Than Just Hearers

As I mentioned while covering the first half of James 1, there is much to cover and we should be sure to go through it slowly and thoughtfully, careful not to skip over important points.

James 1:19-27

    19This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; 20for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. 21Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. 22But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

      26If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless. 27Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Listen first, genuinely, before speaking. This is tough for a lot of folks, including myself at times. Avoid anger. Put aside wickedness. Receive the word with humility, avoiding defensiveness and avoiding the arrogance of assuming we already know everything, but really receiving the word and letting it transform us. YHWH does not want simply hearers of the word though, but doers of the word. In doing the word of YHWH, in abiding in his perfect law, we will be blessed.  Let us recognize also that when James refers to the perfect law of God, the law of liberty, he is talking about the Tanakh (the Torah and the writings of the prophets). The New Testament was not written yet. Clearly James did not find the law obsolete.

Control our tongue lest we hurt others and distract from YHWHs glory as we represent him. Let us help orphans and widows in their distress and remain set apart from the world, unstained by its wickedness, ready to be used by the LORD.

Prayerfully reflect on these and be sure to focus on a few for your life today. This guidance will help bring you closer to walking the way the LORD wants.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

What Does Hebrews Really Say About “A New Covenant”?

I believe Hebrews has been misunderstood to a great extent, and in particular Hebrews 8. We are taught in most Christian churches that “the new covenant” means that all the law was laid down and replaced with Yeshua’s death on the cross. However, in contradiction to that, we are also taught that some elements of the law still apply while others do not. Sabbath need not be kept, but we should not murder as one example. One that always amazes me is Christians that teach all of the law is done away with and we have freedom to do what we will, but somehow the tithe is still in effect (despite the temple and the Levitical priesthood being eliminated). There are inherent contradictions in most Christian teaching, not because God’s word is wrong, but because Christians do not understand it and really test what they are told by men against what God’s word really says.

The context of Hebrews 8 is best understood if we look back into Hebrews 7 first. Hebrews 7 speaks about the new covenant, but focuses clearly on articulating it in regards to Yeshua replacing the Levitical priests. More specifically, the focus is on the role of the priest in offering sacrifices on our behalf for atonement of sin. That is the entirety of the scope of the letter in Hebrews 7 and 8.

Hebrews 7:18-28

18For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. 20And inasmuch as it was not without an oath

21(for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him,
“THE LORD HAS SWORN
AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND,
‘YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER’”);

22so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

      23The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

      26For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

When we start reading Hebrews 8, about a new covenant replacing an old one, remember the context of Hebrews 7 leading into Hebrews 8. It is focused specifically on sacrifices offered for atonement of sin and on the priest who offers it. This is the element which is being transitioned from the old covenant to the new covenant, not a laying down of all things in the law.

He even says in verse 10 that he will write his laws into their hearts and minds. He does not say he is writing new laws. He does not say he is laying down all the old laws. He is (through the Holy Spirit) helping us by giving us more of a mind and heart to know and follow his laws. If I write a law on a piece of paper, it does not imply I changed it, but quite the opposite that I copied what already existed somewhere else. It is the same in this verse. This letter does not declare that the law has changed with exception to the specifics around the priest and the sacrifice for atonement to sin.

Hebrews 8

A Better Ministry

      1Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, 2a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. 3For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. 4Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; 5who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, “SEE,” He says, “THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN.” 6But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.

A New Covenant

      7For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second.

8For finding fault with them, He says,
“BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD,
WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT
WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH;

      9NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS
ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND
TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT;
FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT,
AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD.

      10“FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL
AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD:
I WILL PUT MY LAWS INTO THEIR MINDS,
AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS.
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD,
AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

      11“AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN,
AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, ‘KNOW THE LORD,’
FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME,
FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM.

      12“FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES,
AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”

13When He said, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.

Reflect carefully on what Hebrews actually says and what it does not. Many take this out of context and use it as cause to lay down God’s laws and instructions rather than indeed writing them further into our minds and hearts so we would obey more completely and joyfully.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

God Does Not Change

Today’s message is a simple one, but if we truly meditate on it, we will recognize the powerful implications and it may open us better examine our lives and whether or not we are living according to YHWH’s instruction.

God does not change. He is timeless… eternal. His character and his instruction for us is consistent throughout time.

Malachi 3:6

6“For I, the LORD, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

James 1:17

17Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

Hebrews 13:8

8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Though few say it so plainly, many Christians act as if the Bible really only starts with Matthew and ends in Revelation. It is not uncommon for even seminaries and churches to act this way. We must take care, however, as that approach assumes that somehow YHWH has changed and it discards two thirds of his instructions to us.

If YHWH does not change, than it serves us well to study and understand how he relates to his people and what instructions he has for his people throughout ALL of his holy scripture.

If we find ourselves having difficulty reconciling what is taught in the Old and the New testaments with one another, then we must consider that our understanding is wrong. God’s word builds on itself. The Old Testament is foundation for the New. It is truly one record rather than two. Yeshua often taught referencing back to the Old Testament, as did Paul. Without the foundation of understanding from the Old Testament, then our understanding of the New will be subject to more mistakes.

I will close with two scriptures that reference specifically the Old Testament, as the New had not yet been written.

2 Timothy 3:14-17

14You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

Matthew 5:17-19

     17“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18“For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19“Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

If God does not change, then we should truly spend time reflecting if the way we are living our lives today follows the example of what Christ taught and lived (as written in the Bible) or if instead it follows what man has said about how we are supposed to live so differently than Christ did, reasoning that much of his instruction changed after his death and resurrection. I pose that we should rededicate ourselves to understanding what is written in scripture and test everything we know against what is written. We should not simply continue in the way that is popular, broadly accepted, or taught by man.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Dividing Up The Promised Land – Ephraim

We are continuing in the book of Joshua in a series of chapters in which Joshua documents how the promised land was divided up between the tribes. It is clearly written as an historical account, and not a moral book or book of wisdom. We may be tempted to quickly overlook this passage and the following chapters as not relevant or “boring”. However, reflect on the fact that this was written as an historical document. It is a true record of what has transpired between YHWH and his people. This should be very encouraging as it gives credibility to the rest of the Bible as more than just a book of moral stories. The Bible is in fact true and an accurate historical document.

Joshua 16

Territory of Ephraim

     1Then the lot for the sons of Joseph went from the Jordan at Jericho to the waters of Jericho on the east into the wilderness, going up from Jericho through the hill country to Bethel. 2It went from Bethel to Luz, and continued to the border of the Archites at Ataroth. 3It went down westward to the territory of the Japhletites, as far as the territory of lower Beth-horon even to Gezer, and it ended at the sea.

      4The sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim, received their inheritance. 5Now this was the territory of the sons of Ephraim according to their families: the border of their inheritance eastward was Ataroth-addar, as far as upper Beth-horon. 6Then the border went westward at Michmethath on the north, and the border turned about eastward to Taanath-shiloh and continued beyond it to the east of Janoah. 7It went down from Janoah to Ataroth and to Naarah, then reached Jericho and came out at the Jordan. 8From Tappuah the border continued westward to the brook of Kanah, and it ended at the sea. This is the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Ephraim according to their families, 9together with the cities which were set apart for the sons of Ephraim in the midst of the inheritance of the sons of Manasseh, all the cities with their villages. 10But they did not drive out the Canaanites who lived in Gezer, so the Canaanites live in the midst of Ephraim to this day, and they became forced laborers.

It seems subtle, but we also see in this record that the Israelites failed to drive out the Canaanites. Here we see they became forced laborers. It would be interesting to study what other roles those Canaanites played in history since they were not driven out as they should have been. Most obvious would seem that they remained a corrupting influence on the Israelites due to their pagan religion and lifestyle. A careful study of the Bible and history documented elsewhere likely would bear an interesting story for what role they played.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

Dividing Up The Promised Land – Judah

There are passages in scripture where a common first reaction is to wonder what the value could possibly be in reading them and how they could possibly apply today. We should heed Paul’s guidance in 2 Timothy 3:16 and recall that he is specifically calling out the Torah, or Old Testament. The gospels most likely had not been written yet and 2 Timothy in the preceding verses refers to the scriptures that Timothy has known since he was a child.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

16All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

With that in mind, we will come to a section of Joshua in which the territory given to each tribe is laid out in detail. Joshua 15 starts with Judah. What can this possibly mean for us today? There are likely several levels, only a few of which I will touch on here. There seem to always be multiple layers or levels to the significance of scripture. The more time you spend studying it, the more treasure and significance you find.

Two things that strike me very powerfully in these following chapters of Joshua are the following:

  • There many are parts of the scriptures that are clearly written in the style of an historical record. This means that they include detailed records of events. This should encourage us that the Bible is true and accurate! Someone making up these stories would not take the time to add such fine detail.
  • Also, we should see that our Father is faithful. He promised the land to the Israelites a long time before and now we should see this as the fulfillment of his promise. This should also encourage us. Though his timing is different than ours, we can always count on our Father being loyal and faithful to his word.
  • Our Father cares about the details in the lives of his people. He was very involved in dividing up the land in very specific way in which he deemed fair and appropriate. He did not simply say … here is the land, go figure out how to divide it yourselves.  So also he cares about our lives today. Once again, this should be encouraging to those who seek to please him and dwell with him.

Joshua 15

Territory of Judah

     1Now the lot for the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families reached the border of Edom, southward to the wilderness of Zin at the extreme south. 2Their south border was from the lower end of the Salt Sea, from the bay that turns to the south. 3Then it proceeded southward to the ascent of Akrabbim and continued to Zin, then went up by the south of Kadesh-barnea and continued to Hezron, and went up to Addar and turned about to Karka. 4It continued to Azmon and proceeded to the brook of Egypt, and the border ended at the sea. This shall be your south border. 5The east border was the Salt Sea, as far as the mouth of the Jordan. And the border of the north side was from the bay of the sea at the mouth of the Jordan. 6Then the border went up to Beth-hoglah, and continued on the north of Beth-arabah, and the border went up to the stone of Bohan the son of Reuben. 7The border went up to Debir from the valley of Achor, and turned northward toward Gilgal which is opposite the ascent of Adummim, which is on the south of the valley; and the border continued to the waters of En-shemesh and it ended at En-rogel. 8Then the border went up the valley of Ben-hinnom to the slope of the Jebusite on the south (that is, Jerusalem); and the border went up to the top of the mountain which is before the valley of Hinnom to the west, which is at the end of the valley of Rephaim toward the north. 9From the top of the mountain the border curved to the spring of the waters of Nephtoah and proceeded to the cities of Mount Ephron, then the border curved to Baalah (that is, Kiriath-jearim). 10The border turned about from Baalah westward to Mount Seir, and continued to the slope of Mount Jearim on the north (that is, Chesalon), and went down to Beth-shemesh and continued through Timnah. 11The border proceeded to the side of Ekron northward. Then the border curved to Shikkeron and continued to Mount Baalah and proceeded to Jabneel, and the border ended at the sea. 12The west border was at the Great Sea, even its coastline. This is the border around the sons of Judah according to their families.

      13Now he gave to Caleb the son of Jephunneh a portion among the sons of Judah, according to the command of the LORD to Joshua, namely, Kiriath-arba, Arba being the father of Anak (that is, Hebron). 14Caleb drove out from there the three sons of Anak: Sheshai and Ahiman and Talmai, the children of Anak. 15Then he went up from there against the inhabitants of Debir; now the name of Debir formerly was Kiriath-sepher. 16And Caleb said, “The one who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter as a wife.” 17Othniel the son of Kenaz, the brother of Caleb, captured it; so he gave him Achsah his daughter as a wife. 18It came about that when she came to him, she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. So she alighted from the donkey, and Caleb said to her, “What do you want?” 19Then she said, “Give me a blessing; since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water.” So he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

      20This is the inheritance of the tribe of the sons of Judah according to their families.

      21Now the cities at the extremity of the tribe of the sons of Judah toward the border of Edom in the south were Kabzeel and Eder and Jagur, 22and Kinah and Dimonah and Adadah, 23and Kedesh and Hazor and Ithnan, 24Ziph and Telem and Bealoth, 25and Hazor-hadattah and Kerioth-hezron (that is, Hazor), 26Amam and Shema and Moladah, 27and Hazar-gaddah and Heshmon and Beth-pelet, 28and Hazar-shual and Beersheba and Biziothiah, 29Baalah and Iim and Ezem, 30and Eltolad and Chesil and Hormah, 31and Ziklag and Madmannah and Sansannah, 32and Lebaoth and Shilhim and Ain and Rimmon; in all, twenty-nine cities with their villages.

      33In the lowland: Eshtaol and Zorah and Ashnah, 34and Zanoah and En-gannim, Tappuah and Enam, 35Jarmuth and Adullam, Socoh and Azekah, 36and Shaaraim and Adithaim and Gederah and Gederothaim; fourteen cities with their villages.

      37Zenan and Hadashah and Migdal-gad, 38and Dilean and Mizpeh and Joktheel, 39Lachish and Bozkath and Eglon, 40and Cabbon and Lahmas and Chitlish, 41and Gederoth, Beth-dagon and Naamah and Makkedah; sixteen cities with their villages.

      42Libnah and Ether and Ashan, 43and Iphtah and Ashnah and Nezib, 44and Keilah and Achzib and Mareshah; nine cities with their villages.

      45Ekron, with its towns and its villages; 46from Ekron even to the sea, all that were by the side of Ashdod, with their villages.

      47Ashdod, its towns and its villages; Gaza, its towns and its villages; as far as the brook of Egypt and the Great Sea, even its coastline.

      48In the hill country: Shamir and Jattir and Socoh, 49and Dannah and Kiriath-sannah (that is, Debir), 50and Anab and Eshtemoh and Anim, 51and Goshen and Holon and Giloh; eleven cities with their villages.

      52Arab and Dumah and Eshan, 53and Janum and Beth-tappuah and Aphekah, 54and Humtah and Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), and Zior; nine cities with their villages.

      55Maon, Carmel and Ziph and Juttah, 56and Jezreel and Jokdeam and Zanoah, 57Kain, Gibeah and Timnah; ten cities with their villages.

      58Halhul, Beth-zur and Gedor, 59and Maarath and Beth-anoth and Eltekon; six cities with their villages.

      60Kiriath-baal (that is, Kiriath-jearim), and Rabbah; two cities with their villages.

      61In the wilderness: Beth-arabah, Middin and Secacah, 62and Nibshan and the City of Salt and Engedi; six cities with their villages.

      63Now as for the Jebusites, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the sons of Judah could not drive them out; so the Jebusites live with the sons of Judah at Jerusalem until this day.

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The Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

As Yeshua returned to Jerusalem in Matthew 21:1-11, we can clearly see that he once again points back to the Tanakh (often referred to as the Old Testament) and fulfillment of prophecy as significant. Yeshua was going to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, once again reinforcing the observance of the commands of God laid out to His people through Moses. Yeshua was also clearly aware, as we read earlier in Matthew, that he was to die, be buried, and rise again. He was going there to suffer and die for all of our sins.

Matthew 21:1-11

1When they had approached Jerusalem and had come to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied there and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to Me. 3“If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.” 4This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

5“SAY TO THE DAUGHTER OF ZION,
‘BEHOLD YOUR KING IS COMING TO YOU,
GENTLE, AND MOUNTED ON A DONKEY,
EVEN ON A COLT, THE FOAL OF A BEAST OF BURDEN.’”

6The disciples went and did just as Jesus had instructed them, 7and brought the donkey and the colt, and laid their coats on them; and He sat on the coats. 8Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road.

9The crowds going ahead of Him, and those who followed, were shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!”

10When He had entered Jerusalem, all the city was stirred, saying, “Who is this?” 11And the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.”

Yeshua clearly has a supernatural awareness of things around him, else he would not know where the donkey colt was and be able to tell the disciples exactly what to expect when they follow his instructions. The disciples did very well to just obey exactly as Yeshua told them.  Everything worked out as planned. We should take care to do the same… obey God’s instructions as he gives them… without changing them to a way we think may be better or more consistent with our culture.

There is much significance for YHWH in the death and resurrection timing coinciding with Passover. It was intentional. The Passover lamb used as sacrifice to save the Israelites was a foreshadowing of Yeshua’s sacrifice for all of us… paying the price for our sins. In both the Passover and death and resurrection of Christ, YHWH’s people must choose to accept his grace and do so publicly. In Passover, by following YHWH’s instructions including putting lamb’s blood on the door post. In accepting Yeshua, we must repent of our sins, submit to YHWH, and ask him to be Lord and Savior. We must no longer live our way, but his way. That is what it means to submit. Those that truly accept Yeshua as Lord will proclaim Him publicly.

Yeshua points back directly to prophecy recorded in the Tanakh and fulfills it. He honors the Father’s instructions given to us through Moses and observes them every time. In this case he comes to Jerusalem to celebrate Passover.  We should be careful not to quickly dismiss the Tanakh as no longer relevant. Yeshua showed us the opposite! He honored YHWH’s instructions in the Tanakh and so should we.

Note how many in the crowds came out to welcome Yeshua and celebrate him as prophet. How fickle the crowds are… a week later the crowds shout to free Barabbas and crucify Yeshua. Few stood by Yeshua during the arrest and crucifixion, perhaps none publicly as even Peter denied him three times. We must be careful to look to the Father for our guidance on what is right and never just follow the crowds. Often, YHWH’s people find themselves standing against the crowds if they are to stand for him.

My family and I have found it very enriching to reflect the entirety of God’s word in our celebrations by including Passover along with our celebration of resurrection of Christ. As we started this a few years ago, we find ourselves continuing to study and learn how interrelated these celebrations should be.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.