Category Archives: Commands / Law

A Covenant Requires Both Sides To Abide To Remain Valid

Joshua 2 documents how Rahab, a harlot, rescues the Israelite spies from capture by the forces of Jericho. As they part, they strike an agreement to save her family. It is not surprising to most of us, but there are conditions for both sides to obey in order for the agreement to be valid. If either side breaks the agreement, then the whole agreement is null and void. This is very common in our culture and has been common throughout human history. Very seldom is there a one-sided promise. There are almost always conditions on both sides.

Joshua 2:15-24

The Promise to Rahab

     15Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall, so that she was living on the wall. 16She said to them, “Go to the hill country, so that the pursuers will not happen upon you, and hide yourselves there for three days until the pursuers return. Then afterward you may go on your way.” 17The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, 18unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. 19“It shall come about that anyone who goes out of the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we shall be free; but anyone who is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20“But if you tell this business of ours, then we shall be free from the oath which you have made us swear.” 21She said, “According to your words, so be it.” So she sent them away, and they departed; and she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

      22They departed and came to the hill country, and remained there for three days until the pursuers returned. Now the pursuers had sought them all along the road, but had not found them. 23Then the two men returned and came down from the hill country and crossed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they related to him all that had happened to them. 24They said to Joshua, “Surely the LORD has given all the land into our hands; moreover, all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before us.”

The agreement of Rahab and the spies is not surprising to most readers. The fact that both parties had responsibilities is normal. Why, then, do people who claim to follow Yeshua seem to assume so plainly that His offer of forgiveness is unconditional? It is not. It is a covenant whereby both sides agree to terms. If one side breaks the terms, than the whole covenant is broken.

Let’s look at one of the most quoted scriptures by Christians.

John 3:16-21

     16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18“He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20“For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21“But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

There is a clear distinction between those that believe and those that do not believe in Christ as Messiah. Not all are saved. But let us take care, that “believe” is not taken out of context. If I believe in Christ as an historical figure, sort of like believing in Greenland as a land mass, but it has no effect on my life, then we have missed the point. Rather, we see reference to those that do not believe doing evil deeds and loving darkness to remain hidden in their sin. Thus we can clearly see the reverse is implied. Those that believe in Him seek the Light. Their love is reflected in their actions and deeds. This is believe more along the lines of “I believe in gravity”. It affects how I go about my daily life. I know that if I step off a building, I will fall. I hold handrails going up and down stairs so as not to fall. I watch my steps so as not to trip, believing that if I do I will fall rather than fly.

We are called to believe in Christ in more than an historical context, but in a very personal way that influences our daily lives. We are to believe in Him as Messiah. If we do, then our whole lives change. We should desperately seek out what He taught and how He lived. We should not just limit ourselves to church once a week or prayer 5 minutes a day at a meal. We should be in awe of the opportunity to walk through this life (and beyond) with our Messiah…our God.

Let us not fail to embrace Christ fully in our belief, lest we miss out on the offer He graciously has extended.

It is not enough to acknowledge Him in name only, or even do miracles in His name. Let that sink in. Let’s make sure we are truly walking with Him fully in our belief in Him as Messiah. There are consequences if we do not.

Matthew 7: 13-23

The Narrow and Wide Gates

     13“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14“For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

A Tree and Its Fruit

     15“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16“You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17“So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18“A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19“Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20“So then, you will know them by their fruits.

      21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Let us consider carefully the words of Christ as He turns many away… “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ If we claim Him in name, but do not live according to His ways and in relationship with Him, than we have not truly believed and He will not receive us.

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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.

Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.

Should We Keep The Law and God’s Holy Days? or Are They Obsolete?

If we claim to be disciples (e.g. “learners”) of Yeshua, then we must seek to learn His teachings and follow His example and apply that in our lives. We want to learn from Him. It is important to study the Bible and make determinations or judgments about how we are supposed to live. We must challenge what society or even Christian churches broadly teach against God’s word and our own common sense.

Some people try to say that they don’t follow God’s appointed times (God’s holy days listed in Leviticus 23) and God’s laws because Yeshua did so perfectly. Others make the excuse that God’s appointed times and laws are only for the Jewish people, not for gentiles following Christ.

Both excuses are wrong and keep many people from walking with God fully the way He intends for us to do.

If you wanted to become great at something… say golf. You would look at a great golfer and both listen to what he says as well as study what he does. You would not say, Tiger Woods practiced day and night working on his golf swing… so I don’t have to. You would understand that his actions set an example of the behavior you should model. It is obvious that you would consider mimicking the behavior and following the instructions fully or at least as much as you could in order to become a better golfer. It is the same with Christ. Let us listen to His teaching and mimic His actions as close to the way Christ lived His as possible. (Spoiler alert: Christ was judged perfect in obeying the Law perfectly. Christ observed the appointed times such as Passover even when His life was in danger in doing so. Christ did not celebrate other pagan holidays just because others around Him in society may have done so.)

As for the second excuse, please consider the scriptures below just as sample evidence for consideration. There is much more one could pick from. John 12 is laying out Passover festival. In the beginning of the chapter it lays out how Yeshua is going even though He is being targeted to be killed. It was that important.

Remember Yeshua declared Himself that He pleased God and was obedient to His law John 8: 29, 55 and that one could not find fault in His obedience to the Law of Moses John 8:46.We can also observe His actions and confirm. He was called Rabbi and teacher by Jews. He observed the appointed times. He went and often taught at temple on Sabbath, on Saturday)

In John 12:20-26, we see that even gentiles who had come to follow Yeshua had adapted to the Passover and likely other customs that would have been consistent with Yeshua’s example and teaching.

John 12:20-26

Greeks Seek Jesus

     20Now there were some Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast; 21these then came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip came and told Jesus. 23And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. 26“If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.

Remember, Christians are not God’s chosen people. God did not create a new chosen people. The Jewish people are God’s chosen people. Gentiles who come to follow Christ do so by joining Him in the way He taught and lived, according to His customs. We don’t make up our own. It was the Roman Empire, not Yahweh that uprooted the church and separated it from it’s Hebrew roots to create the Catholic church, which has been the root for all Christian churches that have formed since. God’s word says that those who follow Him are grafted in to the vine. There is not a new vine which is planted, disregarding the original one. Yeshua is the vine. He did not change His character, Law, or customs just because some Jews have been removed from the vine and gentiles have been grafted in. He, the vine, has remained constant. He is unchanging.

Romans 11:16-24

16If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

      17But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

If that is still not enough, then perhaps we should ask Yeshua Himself if what He taught and how He lived was no longer the right example, if it should change.

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.

      20“For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

That should be very clear. We should not annul even the least of the commandments until heaven and earth pass away. (Spoiler alert: The earth is still here.)

Let’s ask Him again be sure, this time after He had already died and been resurrected to be sure that did not change the answer.

Matthew 28:18-20

18And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 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.”

Yeshua confirmed again, after resurrection, that the disciples should continue to teach others to observe all that He commanded. None of His teaching changed because of the death and resurrection. All of the teaching and law was always already consistent with the anticipation of resurrection. Pray and give yourself time to consider this teaching. Ask for God’s help. This is difficult for many because of what the Christian church teaches on this topic is so far from what scripture actually says. We have to decide whom we believe… the inspired word of God, unchanging, compiled as the Bible… or the word of men, which we continue to see changing before our very eyes as Sabbath has “disappeared” in teaching throughout the church over the last decades and even now much of the church now teaches that homosexuality is ok and consistent with God’s teaching. Many other such changes have previously been made in the thousands of years since the early church was separated by the Roman Empire from its Hebrew roots, its Biblical roots. We must look to the unchanging Word of God recorded in the Bible and study its proper context to better understand what God actually instructed for us. We must test everything and hold on to what is consistent with the Bible.

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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.

 

 

Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.

Following Yeshua’s Example In Celebrating Yahweh’s Appointed Times

The Lord’s appointed times are important to Yeshua. He knew some were plotting to kill Him. He no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews. He knew that the religious leaders who wanted to kill Him would expect Him to possibly come up to Jerusalem for Passover and they made plans to seize Him if / when He did. What we see if we continue reading in John 12, is that Yeshua actually went up to Jerusalem anyway to be there for Passover.

The Lord’s Moedim, appointed times, are described in Leviticus 23 among other places. Scripture shows us they were important to Yeshua and His disciples. We should follow our Lord’s example and seek to learn more and celebrate them as He did to the extent we can still do so today. Let us devote our time and efforts to the Lord’s holy days rather than man made holidays.

John 11:47-57

Conspiracy to Kill Jesus

     47Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48“If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.

      54Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples.

      55Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves. 56So they were seeking for Jesus, and were saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think; that He will not come to the feast at all?” 57Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he was to report it, so that they might seize Him.

It seems obvious also, but perhaps worth calling out. Yeshua in His obedience to Yahweh was unmatched. He went to Jerusalem where He knew they were looking for Him to kill Him to honor the Father. Let us not be turned away from our obedience by fear of rejection by man just because they don’t understand.

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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.

Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.

From Zion Will Go Forth The Law

If the law is obsolete after Christ’s death and resurrection, than why will the law go forth from Zion as a way that He teaches us about His ways so that we may walk in His paths after His second coming?

Micah 4:1-2

     1And it will come about in the last days
That the mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains.
It will be raised above the hills,
And the peoples will stream to it.

      2Many nations will come and say,
“Come and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD
And to the house of the God of Jacob,
That He may teach us about His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For from Zion will go forth the law,
Even the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Isaiah 2:2-3

    2Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.

      3And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

The law is not obsolete. It still guides us in His ways, if we follow it.

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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.

Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.

All Of God’s Word Is Important For Us To Live By

As Moses was preparing to die and transition leadership to Joshua, YHWH told Him the people would rebel and go their own way. Moses took it upon Himself, knowing this, to write down the law in a book to help serve as a guide to the people for what is right and what is wrong according to YHWH. He knew the people would adopt other customs and traditions and that this book could serve as the unchanging guide to bring them back to YHWH’s ways. The same scriptures serve us today with the same law. More has been added, yes, but only what is consistent with and building upon / referencing the Torah, which is to say the first 5 books of the Bible from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This remains our foundation of YHWH’s instruction. It is not obsolete. It has not been replaced. It is entirely consistent with the teachings of Yeshua, who often referred back to scripture (Old Testament scripture as the New was not yet written) while teaching.

Deuteronomy 31:23-29

Joshua Is Commissioned

      23Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you.”

      24It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete, 25that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, 26“Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you. 27“For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the LORD; how much more, then, after my death? 28“Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them. 29“For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.”

Ask yourself what is more consistent with a loving, eternal, unchanging God… giving His people instructions and then changing them radically later or laying out a single, consistent foundation of instruction that continues to build upon itself to help guide His people. Most good parents and teachers would understand immediately from teaching children that you do not train them up in one way only to make them do it completely differently later. That is confusing and a waste of time.

Study the whole word of God. Apply all of it in your life today. Live the way YHWH instructed rather than the way you have been raised by parents or by the way the world tells us to or even what is taught in churches (which is also often wrong). Devote time to study it yourself. Do not simply delegate that to a pastor or even spouse. Study it and pray. Dialog and debate the meaning with other Christians. Test everything. Do not simply accept what we have been taught.

Remember that when YHWH set His people free from slavery in Egypt, He called them to change from the ways they were used to in Egypt to His ways. He calls us to do the same as we embrace Him and turn away from a life of sin and self and worldly traditions and guidance.

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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.

 

Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.

What Can We Learn From Moses’ Last Advice?

Moses was a man who is well regarded by many. He was a man of God. He overcame many personal shortcomings to serve the Lord faithfully and lead the people of Israel through many challenges and victories, out of slavery in Egypt, through the wilderness, and up to the promised land. He had a close and personal relationship with YHWH for decades. Let’s take a look at his parting advice for his people and consider how it may apply to us still today.

Deuteronomy 31:1-13

Moses’ Last Counsel

      1So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. 2And he said to them, “I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’ 3“It is the LORD your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the LORD has spoken. 4“The LORD will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. 5“The LORD will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you. 6“Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

      7Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. 8“The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

      9So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.10Then Moses commanded them, saying, “At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths,11when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. 12“Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. 13“Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”

If we pause to break it down a bit we can see some keen insight.

  • Go where the Lord leads, not a place of your own choosing.
  • When the Lord goes before you, you will have victory.
  • Even with the Lord going before you, you will still encounter challenges and you will still need His help to be strong and courageous as you face them.
  • Remember the instructions of YHWH. Read them over and over. Teach them to your children. Put them in a place of honor in your life and in society. Keep them before the people continuously as a light unto their path.

We would do well to heed this advice. Many who claim to follow Christ have disregarded His word. Many are making their own path or following the world rather than following where YHWH leads. It is a path that leads to defeat rather than victory, though Satan is clever enough to make it feel like success at times.

Pray for YHWH to help you to come into right relationship with Him. Seek Him. Study His word. Obey and live out His instructions. Test everything (yes, including what is taught in churches) against the Bible, the unchanging and inspired word of God.  Be strong and courageous in doing so.

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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.

Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.

Worship The Lord His Way, Not Your Way

Most of us who have followed Yahweh for awhile have had the opportunity to see His hand at work in our lives. I have marveled that He takes such an interest in someone so insignificant as me, but nonetheless He does! He loves each of His children. As we get to know Him more closely, we more easily recognize His hand at work in our lives.

We must take heed, however, and not turn away when we feel distant from Him or when we do not feel His presence. At those times, we must continue obeying His commands and His ways, faithfully believing that He is there, even if we do not see His hand at work. Often we can point back to events in our lives where He intervened to encourage us to remember Him. Do not turn from Him.

Consider His people as they left Egypt. Yahweh delivered them from slavery through many mighty miracles. There were ten plagues, parting of the Red Sea, defeat of Pharaoh’s army, God appearing as fire  and smoke to lead them, manna and water miraculously to meet their needs in the dessert. Surely we would think that generation could never turn from God, but they did.

Exodus 32:1-10

The Golden Calf

      1Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” 2Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 5Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.” 6So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.

      7Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8“They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” 9The LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. 10“Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”

I think we can all see clearly that Yahweh was not pleased with His people for making this idol and worshipping it. He was going to destroy them and start over. Let us consider carefully what happened. If we read to quickly we may conclude, as many have, that the Israelites were worshipping an idol of a false god and that is why Yahweh was upset… but this is not the case.

Look closer. Indeed they had created an idol and began to worship it, but in fact they were using the idol to represent Yahweh Himself. Consider the following verses:

“This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 5Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the LORD.”

In fact, the people were worshipping Yahweh, and He was very upset! Why? Yahweh does not want His people to worship Him in the way that the pagans worship their false gods. It disgusts Him. He wants us to worship Him in the way He tells us.

Deuteronomy 12:30-32

30beware that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations serve their gods, that I also may do likewise?’ 31“You shall not behave thus toward the LORD your God, for every abominable act which the LORD hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.

      32“Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.

The Israelites may have been worshipping Yahweh, but they were doing so in like manner to how the Egyptians worshipped their false gods by making idols.

While this may seem like it does not apply today, it certainly does! Yahweh has not changed His opinion on what is good and what is bad. He still does not want us to worship Him with idols or with any of the manners or traditions with which the pagans worship false gods. If we take the time to study our common Christmas and Easter traditions (and other traditions as well), we will certainly find the history of many of these traditions are derived not from God’s word, but from pagan worship practices. Christians have created new meanings for many of these traditions, but they still are derived from pagan worship. Yahweh is not pleased, even if we say it is He whom we are worshipping.

Do not repeat the error of the Israelites, which drew great anger from Yahweh. Instead, learn the history and true origin of the traditions you practice. Reject the ones that are derived from pagan worship. Instead, study and learn the practices and worship that Yahweh instructs us in His word. There is so much to learn!

I feel like I have been on an archaeological dig for a decade to understand and lay down traditions rooted in pagan worship and instead to focus on and adopt practices and traditions that are commanded in God’s word in the Old Testament.

I encourage you to invest time to get to know Yahweh. If He is Lord (and He certainly is!), then we should take time to learn His ways and reject the ways of the pagan worship… even if done in Yahweh’s name. Do not accept something just  because it is a family or cultural “tradition”. Test and explore to understand the true origin and whether or not it may be offensive to our Lord. Choose the Lord’s ways over even dear traditions that may be emotionally difficult to walk away from.

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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.

Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.

The Adulterous Woman

In John 8, Yeshua is confronted by scribes and Pharisees who bring a woman who they say was caught in adultery. There was a trap here. They were not interested in His opinion. They wanted to catch Him in some error. Perhaps they wanted to draw Him into denying or rejecting the law given to Moses so they could condemn Him. Perhaps they tried to trap Him by only bringing the woman? Should not the man be there also for punishment? We also don’t know what Yeshua wrote in the ground. There is much speculation. Was it about the sins of the accusers? We don’t know.

What we do know…

  • Yeshua in no way denied or rejected the law given to Moses. If He had, the accusers would have had what they wanted and seized Him.
  • Yeshua did not say it was ok to commit the sin. He did not excuse the sinner from the associated guilt.
  • Yeshua did not rebuke the accusers for confronting the woman in her sin. He rebuked them for the hardness of their hearts to use her life as part of a trap for Him. They were seeking neither justice nor God.

All who were there, seemingly even the woman accused, accepted that the behavior was wrong and she was guilty. Yeshua pointed out the hypocrisy of those who had come to trap Him. He brought to their minds their own guilt for their sins… their need for asking God for forgiveness.

John 8:1-11

The Adulterous Woman

      1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court,4they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5“Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”]

The last guidance He gave to the woman was to go and sin no more. Repentance, not acceptance of the sin, which is demonstrated truly when we stop repeating the sin.

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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.

Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.

Choose Life

We have the same offer today from YHWH, the same choice. He has set before us each a choice. It is up to us to choose life and blessing over the curse. However this means we must choose Him, we must choose to love Him, walk in His ways, and keep His commandments, His statutes, His judgments… rather than our own or those devised by man. The source of truth is not what is taught in churches. The source of truth is God, Himself and He has provided to us a written record of His instruction in the Bible, which is available to all.

Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Choose Life

     15“See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the LORD your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. 17“But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. 19“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

To choose God and the ways of man is not to truly choose God. We can each have only one master. Choose and choose wisely. There are eternal consequences in addition to the trials and / or joy we can experience in this world. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. To do so, we realize that we must be open to change our understanding of His instructions as we study further the Bible and learn more of the ways in which the instruction found in churches today does not line up in many cases with the Bible itself and God’s instruction. Praise the Lord, we find His instructions are not burdensome, but draw us nearer to Him.

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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.

Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.

The Parable of the Two Fathers

This is not a biblical parable, but one based on biblical teaching and in fact it is a true story many times over.

In a certain town there were two fathers who were neighbors, each of whom had a son. Both men wanted to honor God. They both went to church every Sunday and prayed with their sons every night. They both read the Bible with their sons.

The first father truly wanted to submit his life and that of his family to God, even if it was difficult at times. The father was sometimes mocked for being different from those around him when he was standing up for God, and his son noticed. The father refused to lie to his son, and his son noticed this also. This father always remained clear that there is only one God, whom we can know through Jesus Christ. He taught his son that God has already defined what is good and bad and there are real consequences for sin, which is to say… rebelling against God’s instruction and authority. As the son grew older, he sometimes wondered how he could know Jesus was real since he could not “see” him or “touch” him but accepted it because his father was always honest with him. He learned to stand for Jesus even when it was hard, because he learned by watching his father.

The second father was content to continue living his life in the traditions of his parents and grandparents. It felt comfortable, most of his friends and neighbors lived their lives in a similar manner so there was no conflict. He did not feel that God really cared that much about some areas of how he and his family led their daily lives. He told his son that Jesus was the way to God, but he also liked to tell his son seemingly harmless made up stories about make believe characters. He enjoyed telling his son about the tooth fairy, Easter bunny, and of course Santa Claus. He continued the stories for many years until finally his son would learn on his own that each story was not true. The father even went out of his way to provide false evidence that the stories were true… like money under the pillow for a tooth, or telling his son that the bunny hid the eggs and brought him a basket, and of course having lots of presents at Christmas… all from Santa.  He even ate cookies and milk on behalf of Santa. After all, it’s just a bit of fun. What harm can it do?

As the son of the second father grew older, he was confused. The son sometimes wondered how he could know Jesus was real since he could not “see” him or “touch” him. He loved his father, but throughout his life his father had lied to him and even gone out of his way to fake evidence in many make believe characters. He could not help  but wonder if Jesus and the Bible were like the rest of the made up stories and he had many doubts.

Ask yourself about each of the made up stories that you may tell… “Is lying to my children about this really honoring God or teaching God’s message effectively?” (To be clear, lying is when you convince your child the made up story is true… not just telling them a fictional story.) But let’s go further, beyond even lying to your children and the possible mistrust that creates for more important issues later.

Let’s take the story of Santa Claus as a representative example and see what it teaches. I will name a few, you can probably think of more.

  • The focus of Christmas, especially for kids, is “What stuff do I get?” With Santa, the story does not even focus at all on giving but rather only on getting. Trying to tell a child Christmas is about Jesus, but then overwhelming them with presents and made up stories about Santa is like telling a child to eat a carrot and then putting in front of them a table full of cookies, brownies, cakes, and ice cream. At the very least, the table of desserts is a major distraction. In most cases, the children will remember the desserts long after they forget the carrot.
  • Gifts are not received from parents out of love, but rather you receive gifts because you deserve them. You were “good”.  Rather than a sign of love and sacrifice from parents who worked to earn money and chose to spend it on presents… it is a right to get gifts.
  • Supposed accountability for “bad” behavior (e.g. coal in the stocking) never really happens. There really is no punishment for poor behavior… or perhaps we just need to do more good than we do bad… and then the bad is ok.
  • There is another person, different from God, that has god like powers. He is essentially all knowing, very powerful, and can be in many places at the same time. He is eternal. He judges who is good and bad.
  • After spending years lying to children and convincing them that Santa is real, even when they start to recognize it and ask questions, we will then tell them it was all in fun… but trust me about Jesus.

Santa is in fact accepted around the world by many because he is absolutely not pointing to God, but rather distracting attention away from God or replacing God completely. Christians and non-Christians alike  accept him. In one very recent example, Santa’s picture was used as a spokesman for a billboard campaign by atheists basically saying we can be good without need of God. “Go ahead and skip church! Just be good for goodness sake.” (link to article here). [How an atheist can define “good” while claiming there is no God is an interesting conversation for another day.]

I recognize that this is an emotional subject for many and admitting that we should change is very hard. Even if we accept it and change our behavior, there will be much difficulty among family. This is to be expected when we stand for Christ above all others. Jesus said so himself in Matthew 10:32-39.

32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.

35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father,
    a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
36     Your enemies will be right in your own household!’[l]

37 “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. 38 If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. 39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

We each must decide whether or not we submit to God fully or hold tightly to the traditions of man. By the way… study of the new testament clearly shows that clutching to the traditions of man was the way of the Pharisees and Sadducees, not the way of Jesus.

God wants his people to be holy (set apart for God’s use) and righteous (living according to God’s commands rather than the world’s). He wants us to put Him first, above everything else.

Challenge yourself to objectively evaluate your traditions and seek first the kingdom of God. Do not dismiss this quickly but rather prayerfully seek God to show you the truth of His word and how to apply it in your life.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? If you die today, do you know for sure that you would be with God in heaven? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Grace and peace of Jesus Christ be with you.