Category Archives: Hebrew Roots / Commands / Law

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that much of the teaching today in the Christian church is still based on the law, even while many Christians say it is obsolete… tithing, not coveting, no idols, etc.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:

Love YHWH and Love One Another (In Deeds, Not Words)

The closer we get to YHWH, the less the world will recognize or know us. As we become children of YHWH, they reject us more because they do not know him. Those of us who abide in him, strive to sin no more. We do not remain in sin and expect him to forgive us despite intentional, repeated rebellion against his ways. Practicing righteousness is akin to obeying YHWH’s law and sinning is akin to practicing lawlessness. Words alone are empty. Let us love in word and deed… both love YHWH and love our brothers and sisters in Christ. We show love by obeying his instructions rather than the ways of men.

1 John 3

Children of God Love One Another

     1See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

      4Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

      11For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.

      13Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 19We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. 21Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.

      23This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us. 24The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.

Note the repeated emphasis on keeping his commandments as loving and abiding in him. Let us not fall prey to new and sadly increasingly accepted false teaching that says we can do whatever we want because we have “freedom in Christ”. He never made us free with the intent that we should sin more. We are free from the penalty of sin and forgiven. If we are truly in Christ, we will want to obey the instructions of the Father.

Grace is how YHWH shows love to us. Obeying and living according to his instructions is how we show love to him and each other. All the law and the prophets are based on this principle according to Yeshua.

Matthew 22:34-40

    34But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. 35One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38“This is the great and foremost commandment. 39“The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

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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.

Christ Is Our Advocate, Let Us Walk As He Walked

I find it interesting that John refers to his audience as “my little children”. I assume this is in relation to his role being a bit like a father to them in teaching and guiding them. It may imply that they are not mature in Christ yet. Many Christians to some degree understand the concept that Christ is our advocate, but let us be sure not to skip over the details. Read carefully and I will highlight some key themes on the other side of the scripture.

1 John 2:1-14

Christ Is Our Advocate

      1My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

      3By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; 5but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

      7Beloved, I am not writing a new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the word which you have heard. 8On the other hand, I am writing a new commandment to you, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true Light is already shining. 9The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. 10The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. 11But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

      12I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. 13I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. 14I have written to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one.

We are to stop sinning. We do not use Christ’s sacrifice as an excuse to go on sinning. However, if we do sin, we can be forgiven through Christ. (Read more on The Message of the Cross.)

If we are to know him, we follow his commandments. We walk as he walked. We do not go our own way or the way of the culture around us, no matter how much they claim to follow Christ. We can compare the actions of the church to his commandments and how Christ walked and know if they are liars or followers of Christ. We are to use discernment, not simply accept everything that is told us by someone claiming to speak YHWH’s word. The Bible is our most reliable source. Read it. Study it. Test everything. Pray for enlightenment and discernment. Pray for boldness and courage to follow the word of YHWH even when other Christians around us do not understand. Just for clarity, Yeshua walked as a Jewish Rabbi, who obeyed the law of YHWH. He did not simply pick and choose which commands he would obey and which he would not. He did not only obey the ten commandments, but also the entirety of the law including such things as celebrating YHWH’s appointed times laid out in Leviticus 23 (and elsewhere) such as Passover, Unleavened  Bread, Tabernacles, etc. (Read more on Understanding the Law – What Does It Mean Today?)

If the Light is in us, we are to love our brother. I think it would be interesting to study further who is my brother, but at a quick review, I will suggest it is the words of Yeshua himself who can clarify best.

Matthew 12:46-50

    46While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. 47Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” 48But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! 50“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Note that this does not imply we consider everyone living as a brother. We consider those who do the will of the Father as brothers.

Through Christ we can be forgiven and overcome the evil one. In this statement, let us remember there remains an evil one who comes against us. Only through Christ will we find victory. Read more on Spiritual Warfare.

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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.

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:

Take Time To Learn About And Celebrate Sukkot (Tabernacles)

Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles (also Booths), is at first strange to those of us growing up in a Christian church or non Jewish culture because so much of the Old Testament is not taught or not taught as relevant anymore. As the Lord has revealed more to me in my study and prayer it has become quite a meaningful celebration for my family. The celebration is coming up soon, so I encourage you to take some time to learn more and consider participating with your family, or even by yourself.

The Lord wants His people to remember how He led His people out of bondage in Egypt under Moses. He provided for them in the desert and they were in humble accommodations for 40 years.  But even in this He was in control and sustained them, provided for them. He dwelt among them in the Tabernacle in their camp. Even today, we can harvest great value from this celebration if we choose to pursue it. Not only am I reminded of His liberation of His people from slavery, but also of His liberation of us from the law of sin and death through the sacrifice of Jesus. We can leave behind our bondage to sin and He will provide even as the journey may be difficult at times. From a very practical perspective it also reminds me to be thankful and humble, not to take for granted the nice home and secure lifestyle that my family is blessed with.  We are to be reminded that He provides this as well, lest we slip into a bit of arrogance and self dependence and let it begin to separate us from our dependence on the Father. Finally, it reminds us to look forward to the return of the King, when Yeshua returns to dwell among us for His thousand year reign on earth… as the Father dwelt among the Israelites in the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

Leviticus 23:37-44

    37‘These are the appointed times of the LORD which you shall proclaim as holy convocations, to present offerings by fire to the LORD—burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings, each day’s matter on its own day— 38besides those of the sabbaths of the LORD, and besides your gifts and besides all your votive and freewill offerings, which you give to the LORD.

      39‘On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day. 40‘Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days. 41‘You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD for seven days in the year. It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations; you shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42‘You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, 43so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.’” 44So Moses declared to the sons of Israel the appointed times of the LORD.

We have not taken to live in booths in the wilderness as yet for this celebration, but we do set aside the Sabbath days of rest and break out the tent to go camping… so far in our own family room. It creates excitement for the kids and questions about why and what we are celebrating and it all points back to our Father who provides for us and sets us free.  I encourage you to consider taking steps in this direction that the holidays you celebrate would more and more be the holy days that God instructed and that point back to Him rather than (or at least in addition to) so many distracted man-made purposes associated with the holidays our nation(s) celebrate today.

I encourage you to do some personal study on this celebration. I include a few links below. However, be sure to validate everything you read against the truth of scripture.

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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.

Yom Kippur – The Day of Atonement

Over the course of my life I have spent significant amount of time in Catholic, Baptist, and evangelical churches. None of the ones I attended ever even came close to teaching about YHWH’s appointed times, or Mo’edim. They seem determined to stick to popular man-made holidays commonly celebrated by Christians and non Christians alike. As I have journeyed into deeper relationship with the Lord over many years, the Bible has really come alive to me. It is amazing how much rich heritage is being missed by the Christian church today. They typically do not teach the whole Bible as still relevant and true today. They may say it is, but their teaching leaves much untouched and untaught.

My family and I find observing the Mo’edim, God’s appointed times, to be truly enriching in our relationship with Him. I encourage you to join us. You will have to do some study on your own, however, as churches will just not teach it.

The Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur, is a holy day set aside by YHWH annually for us to focus on atonement for our sins. We are to rest and be humble. It is a permanent statute. These holy days are not just for Jewish people and they are not obsolete. They both look back at what the Lord has already done and look forward to what He will do in the future. As a matter of fact, the day of atonement is now even more significant for those of us who follow Christ as we can focus on the forgiveness we receive through Christ and his sacrifice for us.

Leviticus 23:26-32

The Day of Atonement

     26The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 27“On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD. 28“You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God. 29“If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. 30“As for any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31“You shall do no work at all. It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. 32“It is to be a sabbath of complete rest to you, and you shall humble your souls; on the ninth of the month at evening, from evening until evening you shall keep your sabbath.”

We need not make animal sacrifices for atonement any longer, as Yeshua has paid the price for our sin once and for all. However, we will still face judgment when we die or Yeshua returns. Let us take heed to atone for our sins, repenting and seeking forgiveness from the Lord.

2 Corinthians 5:10

10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Of course we can say, but we should seek forgiveness all year long, and that is correct, but then why would one object to a day focused on coming humbly before the LORD and seeking forgiveness and asking him to help us know and turn away from our sin.

I still have more to learn about the Hebrew calendar (really the Creator’s calendar), but I am learning more each year. You can research a variety of websites that provide information on the Hebrew calendar, several even focus on it from a Messianic or Christian perspective. Keep in mind, the Hebrew calendar starts at sundown and ends at sundown and not “midnight to midnight” as our western calendar does.

It can be overwhelming when you first get started, but just take it in bite sized chunks and keep seeking to get closer to Him with every step. Because we have changed away from YHWH’s calendar to the Gregorian calendar, there is some debate as to when the feasts are celebrated exactly. They reference the Creator’s calendar and not what we are used to. It is very clear which day in His calendar are to be recognized, but the challenge comes in converting that into the Gregorian calendar most of us use daily. Which exact date you choose is not the most important aspect to get started, in my opinion.  I suggest researching at the sites below or on your own search and picking one of the dates proposed and get started. Do not get overwhelmed by trying to learn all the history at once. Just get started, seek the Lord, study His word, and and start to experience a deeper relationship with Him.

TheMoedim.com – Yom Kippur

119Ministries.com – Yom Kippur

Hebrew4Christians.com – Yom Kippur

SetApartPeople.com – Yom Kippurim

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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.

Everyone Did What Was Right In His Own Eyes

Judges 19-21 record a difficult time in Israel centered around wickedness carried out by Benjamin. The scripture reinforces in each chapter that there was no king and each man did what was right in his own eyes. It is a powerful reminder of what human nature leads to without boundaries or laws to give us clear direction.

Judges 21 picks up after the civil war has been won and Benjamin defeated. The Israelites are recorded as seeking YHWH, but it is not clear that he answers at this time or perhaps it seems more like they took matters into their own hands. They are mourning over Benjamin, and then they decide to punish people who did not come as directed to the meeting place. They kill the entire camp except virgin daughters, which they then give to Benjamin. Then they come up with a way to provide more women for Benjamin that just does not seem right… but it seemed right in their own eyes.

Judges 21

Mourning Lost Tribe

      1Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah, saying, “None of us shall give his daughter to Benjamin in marriage.” 2So the people came to Bethel and sat there before God until evening, and lifted up their voices and wept bitterly. 3They said, “Why, O LORD, God of Israel, has this come about in Israel, so that one tribe should be missing today in Israel?” 4It came about the next day that the people arose early and built an altar there and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings.

      5Then the sons of Israel said, “Who is there among all the tribes of Israel who did not come up in the assembly to the LORD?” For they had taken a great oath concerning him who did not come up to the LORD at Mizpah, saying, “He shall surely be put to death.” 6And the sons of Israel were sorry for their brother Benjamin and said, “One tribe is cut off from Israel today. 7“What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since we have sworn by the LORD not to give them any of our daughters in marriage?”

Provision for Their Survival

      8And they said, “What one is there of the tribes of Israel who did not come up to the LORD at Mizpah?” And behold, no one had come to the camp from Jabesh-gilead to the assembly. 9For when the people were numbered, behold, not one of the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead was there. 10And the congregation sent 12,000 of the valiant warriors there, and commanded them, saying, “Go and strike the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and the little ones. 11“This is the thing that you shall do: you shall utterly destroy every man and every woman who has lain with a man.” 12And they found among the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead 400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with him; and they brought them to the camp at Shiloh, which is in the land of Canaan.

      13Then the whole congregation sent word and spoke to the sons of Benjamin who were at the rock of Rimmon, and proclaimed peace to them. 14Benjamin returned at that time, and they gave them the women whom they had kept alive from the women of Jabesh-gilead; yet they were not enough for them. 15And the people were sorry for Benjamin because the LORD had made a breach in the tribes of Israel.

      16Then the elders of the congregation said, “What shall we do for wives for those who are left, since the women are destroyed out of Benjamin?” 17They said, “There must be an inheritance for the survivors of Benjamin, so that a tribe will not be blotted out from Israel. 18“But we cannot give them wives of our daughters.” For the sons of Israel had sworn, saying, “Cursed is he who gives a wife to Benjamin.”

      19So they said, “Behold, there is a feast of the LORD from year to year in Shiloh, which is on the north side of Bethel, on the east side of the highway that goes up from Bethel to Shechem, and on the south side of Lebonah.” 20And they commanded the sons of Benjamin, saying, “Go and lie in wait in the vineyards, 21and watch; and behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to take part in the dances, then you shall come out of the vineyards and each of you shall catch his wife from the daughters of Shiloh, and go to the land of Benjamin. 22“It shall come about, when their fathers or their brothers come to complain to us, that we shall say to them, ‘Give them to us voluntarily, because we did not take for each man of Benjamin a wife in battle, nor did you give them to them, else you would now be guilty.’” 23The sons of Benjamin did so, and took wives according to their number from those who danced, whom they carried away. And they went and returned to their inheritance and rebuilt the cities and lived in them. 24The sons of Israel departed from there at that time, every man to his tribe and family, and each one of them went out from there to his inheritance.

      25In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Perhaps if the people of Israel had not been so quick to vow not to give their daughters to Benjamin, then they would not have been tempted to be so drastic in how they provided daughters to Benjamin. In either case, verse 25 reminds us that the events in this passage are not condoned or endorsed by YHWH. It specifically calls out how people were doing whatever seemed right in their own eyes.

We do well to look upon the Torah (law) of YHWH as our helpful guide and book of instructions. He provided it to help us have the boundaries we need to live his way rather than our own. Let us look to his perfect law and not seek to do what is right in our own eyes.

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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.

 

Lawlessness Continued In Israel

We have been reading in Judges 17-19 about some historical records that reveal the lawlessness that took place in Israel after the death of Samson. Chapters 17-19 specify explicitly that in those days there was no king in Israel. We see people have degraded to “might makes right” mindset to do whatever they please that they can get away with. We should not pretend that the same thing would not happen even today if there was no government or clear leadership to constrain evil people.

In Judges 19 specifically, a Levite took on a concubine, she played harlot, her father made difficult their return home, and they end up in amongst a very wicked people within Benjamin. They rape (to the point of death) the concubine. It is an appalling series of events to witness.  In Judges 20 it continues with men of Israel gathering to carry out justice against the wickedness, but the tribe of Benjamin turns it into a civil war by refusing to acknowledge the wickedness.

This situation is a stark warning and remind to us of what happens when we allow a society to evolve toward anarchy and lawlessness.

Judges 20

Resolve to Punish the Guilty

      1Then all the sons of Israel from Dan to Beersheba, including the land of Gilead, came out, and the congregation assembled as one man to the LORD at Mizpah. 2The chiefs of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, took their stand in the assembly of the people of God, 400,000 foot soldiers who drew the sword. 3(Now the sons of Benjamin heard that the sons of Israel had gone up to Mizpah.) And the sons of Israel said, “Tell us, how did this wickedness take place?” 4So the Levite, the husband of the woman who was murdered, answered and said, “I came with my concubine to spend the night at Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. 5“But the men of Gibeah rose up against me and surrounded the house at night because of me. They intended to kill me; instead, they ravished my concubine so that she died. 6“And I took hold of my concubine and cut her in pieces and sent her throughout the land of Israel’s inheritance; for they have committed a lewd and disgraceful act in Israel. 7“Behold, all you sons of Israel, give your advice and counsel here.”

      8Then all the people arose as one man, saying, “Not one of us will go to his tent, nor will any of us return to his house. 9“But now this is the thing which we will do to Gibeah; we will go up against it by lot. 10“And we will take 10 men out of 100 throughout the tribes of Israel, and 100 out of 1,000, and 1,000 out of 10,000 to supply food for the people, that when they come to Gibeah of Benjamin, they may punish them for all the disgraceful acts that they have committed in Israel.” 11Thus all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united as one man.

      12Then the tribes of Israel sent men through the entire tribe of Benjamin, saying, “What is this wickedness that has taken place among you? 13“Now then, deliver up the men, the worthless fellows in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove this wickedness from Israel.” But the sons of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brothers, the sons of Israel. 14The sons of Benjamin gathered from the cities to Gibeah, to go out to battle against the sons of Israel. 15From the cities on that day the sons of Benjamin were numbered, 26,000 men who draw the sword, besides the inhabitants of Gibeah who were numbered, 700 choice men. 16Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss.

      17Then the men of Israel besides Benjamin were numbered, 400,000 men who draw the sword; all these were men of war.

Civil War, Benjamin Defeated

      18Now the sons of Israel arose, went up to Bethel, and inquired of God and said, “Who shall go up first for us to battle against the sons of Benjamin?” Then the LORD said, “Judah shall go up first.”

      19So the sons of Israel arose in the morning and camped against Gibeah. 20The men of Israel went out to battle against Benjamin, and the men of Israel arrayed for battle against them at Gibeah. 21Then the sons of Benjamin came out of Gibeah and felled to the ground on that day 22,000 men of Israel. 22But the people, the men of Israel, encouraged themselves and arrayed for battle again in the place where they had arrayed themselves the first day. 23The sons of Israel went up and wept before the LORD until evening, and inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall we again draw near for battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin?” And the LORD said, “Go up against him.”

      24Then the sons of Israel came against the sons of Benjamin the second day. 25Benjamin went out against them from Gibeah the second day and felled to the ground again 18,000 men of the sons of Israel; all these drew the sword. 26Then all the sons of Israel and all the people went up and came to Bethel and wept; thus they remained there before the LORD and fasted that day until evening. And they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the LORD. 27The sons of Israel inquired of the LORD (for the ark of the covenant of God was there in those days, 28and Phinehas the son of Eleazar, Aaron’s son, stood before it to minister in those days), saying, “Shall I yet again go out to battle against the sons of my brother Benjamin, or shall I cease?” And the LORD said, “Go up, for tomorrow I will deliver them into your hand.”

      29So Israel set men in ambush around Gibeah. 30The sons of Israel went up against the sons of Benjamin on the third day and arrayed themselves against Gibeah as at other times. 31The sons of Benjamin went out against the people and were drawn away from the city, and they began to strike and kill some of the people as at other times, on the highways, one of which goes up to Bethel and the other to Gibeah, and in the field, about thirty men of Israel. 32The sons of Benjamin said, “They are struck down before us, as at the first.” But the sons of Israel said, “Let us flee that we may draw them away from the city to the highways.” 33Then all the men of Israel arose from their place and arrayed themselves at Baal-tamar; and the men of Israel in ambush broke out of their place, even out of Maareh-geba. 34When ten thousand choice men from all Israel came against Gibeah, the battle became fierce; but Benjamin did not know that disaster was close to them. 35And the LORD struck Benjamin before Israel, so that the sons of Israel destroyed 25,100 men of Benjamin that day, all who draw the sword.

      36So the sons of Benjamin saw that they were defeated. When the men of Israel gave ground to Benjamin because they relied on the men in ambush whom they had set against Gibeah, 37the men in ambush hurried and rushed against Gibeah; the men in ambush also deployed and struck all the city with the edge of the sword. 38Now the appointed sign between the men of Israel and the men in ambush was that they would make a great cloud of smoke rise from the city. 39Then the men of Israel turned in the battle, and Benjamin began to strike and kill about thirty men of Israel, for they said, “Surely they are defeated before us, as in the first battle.” 40But when the cloud began to rise from the city in a column of smoke, Benjamin looked behind them; and behold, the whole city was going up in smoke to heaven. 41Then the men of Israel turned, and the men of Benjamin were terrified; for they saw that disaster was close to them. 42Therefore, they turned their backs before the men of Israel toward the direction of the wilderness, but the battle overtook them while those who came out of the cities destroyed them in the midst of them. 43They surrounded Benjamin, pursued them without rest and trod them down opposite Gibeah toward the east. 44Thus 18,000 men of Benjamin fell; all these were valiant warriors. 45The rest turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, but they caught 5,000 of them on the highways and overtook them at Gidom and killed 2,000 of them. 46So all of Benjamin who fell that day were 25,000 men who draw the sword; all these were valiant warriors. 47But 600 men turned and fled toward the wilderness to the rock of Rimmon, and they remained at the rock of Rimmon four months. 48The men of Israel then turned back against the sons of Benjamin and struck them with the edge of the sword, both the entire city with the cattle and all that they found; they also set on fire all the cities which they found.

We do see at least the men of Israel turning toward the LORD for help and guidance. They pray and fast. They are seeking justice against those who practice wickedness. Interesting enough, I am not clear why the LORD allowed them to be defeated at first, but they kept turning toward him and he gave them victory in the end. Perhaps we can take it as a reminder that just because we face temporary defeat, does not mean we are not following YHWH’s path or that living righteously and seeking justice is not easy.

Let us remember historical accounts like this one when we find ourselves complaining about the law of YHWH. His instructions and guidance is there to provide a framework of righteous living. The rules help protect us. Let us take great care when claiming and pursuing “freedom” to do whatever seems right in our own eyes. This will never end well in the long run due to the inherent sinful nature of man. Seek after YHWH’s ways rather than our own.

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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.

When There Was no King In Israel…

We previously explored the language in Judges 17 and 18 about there being no king in Israel. It was associated with idolatry, even amongst a priest, and lawlessness. In Judges 19 we again see this emphasized as we read a story of great lawlessness and conflict, with each man doing what he feels is right in his own eyes.

Many questions could be asked… such as, “Why does a Levite have a concubine?” or “Why did he tolerate her playing a harlot and pursue her?” How about “Why did her father make it so difficult for them to return safely home by constantly imposing on them to stay?”How about “Why was so much wickedness accepted within the tribe of Benjamin?”

We will see more in chapter 20, but for today, just try to absorb and reflect on the lawlessness that takes place when there is no clear government in place to lead or constrain the people. People tend to degrade to doing whatever they feel like that they can get away with. It is a good reminder that human nature is sinful and selfish and not at all righteous and good. Righteousness and goodness come through YHWH and his transforming us to be more like him.

Judges 19

A Levite’s Concubine Degraded

      1Now it came about in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, who took a concubine for himself from Bethlehem in Judah. 2But his concubine played the harlot against him, and she went away from him to her father’s house in Bethlehem in Judah, and was there for a period of four months. 3Then her husband arose and went after her to speak tenderly to her in order to bring her back, taking with him his servant and a pair of donkeys. So she brought him into her father’s house, and when the girl’s father saw him, he was glad to meet him. 4His father-in-law, the girl’s father, detained him; and he remained with him three days. So they ate and drank and lodged there. 5Now on the fourth day they got up early in the morning, and he prepared to go; and the girl’s father said to his son-in-law, “Sustain yourself with a piece of bread, and afterward you may go.” 6So both of them sat down and ate and drank together; and the girl’s father said to the man, “Please be willing to spend the night, and let your heart be merry.” 7Then the man arose to go, but his father-in-law urged him so that he spent the night there again. 8On the fifth day he arose to go early in the morning, and the girl’s father said, “Please sustain yourself, and wait until afternoon”; so both of them ate. 9When the man arose to go along with his concubine and servant, his father-in-law, the girl’s father, said to him, “Behold now, the day has drawn to a close; please spend the night. Lo, the day is coming to an end; spend the night here that your heart may be merry. Then tomorrow you may arise early for your journey so that you may go home.”

      10But the man was not willing to spend the night, so he arose and departed and came to a place opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). And there were with him a pair of saddled donkeys; his concubine also was with him. 11When they were near Jebus, the day was almost gone; and the servant said to his master, “Please come, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites and spend the night in it.” 12However, his master said to him, “We will not turn aside into the city of foreigners who are not of the sons of Israel; but we will go on as far as Gibeah.” 13He said to his servant, “Come and let us approach one of these places; and we will spend the night in Gibeah or Ramah.” 14So they passed along and went their way, and the sun set on them near Gibeah which belongs to Benjamin. 15They turned aside there in order to enter and lodge in Gibeah. When they entered, they sat down in the open square of the city, for no one took them into his house to spend the night.

      16Then behold, an old man was coming out of the field from his work at evening. Now the man was from the hill country of Ephraim, and he was staying in Gibeah, but the men of the place were Benjamites. 17And he lifted up his eyes and saw the traveler in the open square of the city; and the old man said, “Where are you going, and where do you come from?” 18He said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah to the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, for I am from there, and I went to Bethlehem in Judah. But I am now going to my house, and no man will take me into his house. 19“Yet there is both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and also bread and wine for me, your maidservant, and the young man who is with your servants; there is no lack of anything.” 20The old man said, “Peace to you. Only let me take care of all your needs; however, do not spend the night in the open square.” 21So he took him into his house and gave the donkeys fodder, and they washed their feet and ate and drank.

      22While they were celebrating, behold, the men of the city, certain worthless fellows, surrounded the house, pounding the door; and they spoke to the owner of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came into your house that we may have relations with him.” 23Then the man, the owner of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my fellows, please do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not commit this act of folly. 24“Here is my virgin daughter and his concubine. Please let me bring them out that you may ravish them and do to them whatever you wish. But do not commit such an act of folly against this man.” 25But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and brought her out to them; and they raped her and abused her all night until morning, then let her go at the approach of dawn. 26As the day began to dawn, the woman came and fell down at the doorway of the man’s house where her master was, until full daylight.

      27When her master arose in the morning and opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, then behold, his concubine was lying at the doorway of the house with her hands on the threshold. 28He said to her, “Get up and let us go,” but there was no answer. Then he placed her on the donkey; and the man arose and went to his home. 29When he entered his house, he took a knife and laid hold of his concubine and cut her in twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout the territory of Israel. 30All who saw it said, “Nothing like this has ever happened or been seen from the day when the sons of Israel came up from the land of Egypt to this day. Consider it, take counsel and speak up!”

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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.

Yom Teruah – Feast of Trumpets

A few years ago, my family and I began to study about and observe the appointed times of YHWH as laid out in Leviticus 23Growing up a Christian in the United States, I certainly never was taught about the Biblical festivals which YHWH calls His people to celebrate. Most Christians really skip over much of the instruction that our Father has provided in the Old Testament as if it was now irrelevant. It is not! It certainly felt odd or a bit uncomfortable at first as we started to study and learn YHWH’s traditions, which were new to us, but it can be a joyful step in moving closer to YHWH. There is great symbolism and purpose to each of our Father’s festivals. They help us remain focused on Him and His word and bring so much more honor and glory to YHWH and our relationship with Him than the typical holidays we see celebrated today, which are all too often merged with pagan celebrations and rituals from the past.

Yom Teruah, literally “day shouting/blasting”, is the first of YHWH’s holy days (specified by Leviticus 23:23–32) which usually occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere. It is coming up soon. It has also come to be called more recently Rosh Hashanah and is celebrated as the start of the new year in YHWH’s calendar (often referred to as the “Jewish calendar”).

Leviticus 23 actually does not document a lot of information about Yom Teruah, and it is worthwhile studying elsewhere in scripture. Today you can find a lot of information about it by simply searching online for Yom Teruah. My suggestion is however, to always test what people say about the celebration and traditions against what the scripture actually says. Often people add to YHWH’s instruction or change the emphasis and create their own traditions which they treat as if they were commands from our Father.

Yom Teruah is characterized by a holy day, a Sabbath, which constitutes a day of rest. The trumpets remind us to prepare for the day of Atonement which will follow. As followers of Christ, we are reminded that the trumpets will blast again when Christ returns. We should now prepare ourselves by asking God to convict us of our sin and help us to repent. Let us turn away from the way of the world and to the ways of God. You can have quite an interesting study as well generally about the use and significance of the shofar (ram’s horn) throughout scripture which is what the term “trumpet” means in this context.

I encourage you to do some personal study on this celebration. I include a few links below. However, be sure to validate everything you read against the truth of scripture. Remember, these are YHWH’s holy days not “Jewish” holidays.

TheMoedim.com

119Ministries.com

SetApartPeople.com

Hebrew4Christians.com

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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.