Yeshua Is The Bridegroom for the Church

There are some parallels we can draw from Song of Solomon about our relationship with Christ as our redeemer. Yeshua is the bridegroom and the church is His bride. One thing in particular that stands out for me when I think about my relationship to Yeshua in this way is that I should be passionate rather than stoic in pursuing relationship with Him. He comes as my savior! The church should be passionate about Him rather than indifferent. He should be a top priority, not one of many… just as we would expect a husband and wife to pursue one another. Yeshua has already done much in showing His love for us in that He came to dwell amongst us and died on the cross for our sins. He has made a way for us to reconcile to YHWH at great personal cost. We should each ask ourselves if we are doing the same for Him in how we live our lives.

Song of Solomon 3

The Bride’s Troubled Dream

     1“On my bed night after night I sought him
Whom my soul loves;
I sought him but did not find him.

      2‘I must arise now and go about the city;
In the streets and in the squares
I must seek him whom my soul loves.’
I sought him but did not find him.

      3“The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me,
And I said, ‘Have you seen him whom my soul loves?’

      4“Scarcely had I left them
When I found him whom my soul loves;
I held on to him and would not let him go
Until I had brought him to my mother’s house,
And into the room of her who conceived me.”

      5“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field,
That you will not arouse or awaken my love
Until she pleases.”

Solomon’s Wedding Day

     6“What is this coming up from the wilderness
Like columns of smoke,
Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
With all scented powders of the merchant?

      7“Behold, it is the traveling couch of Solomon;
Sixty mighty men around it,
Of the mighty men of Israel.

      8“All of them are wielders of the sword,
Expert in war;
Each man has his sword at his side,
Guarding against the terrors of the night.

      9“King Solomon has made for himself a sedan chair
From the timber of Lebanon.

      10“He made its posts of silver,
Its back of gold
And its seat of purple fabric,
With its interior lovingly fitted out
By the daughters of Jerusalem.

      11“Go forth, O daughters of Zion,
And gaze on King Solomon with the crown
With which his mother has crowned him
On the day of his wedding,
And on the day of his gladness of heart.”

Though I do not hold that any particular commentary can replace our seeking to understand the Bible directly, with God’s help, I do believe that we can leverage the thoughts of others who went before us and then test that against scripture to see if it helps us gain potential insight into the word. I have selected one for more comment on today’s scripture.

Matthew Henry Concise Commentary

3:1-5 It was hard to the Old Testament church to find Christ in the ceremonial law; the watchmen of that church gave little assistance to those who sought after him. The night is a time of coldness, darkness, and drowsiness, and of dim apprehensions concerning spiritual things. At first, when uneasy, some feeble efforts are made to obtain the comfort of communion with Christ. This proves in vain; the believer is then roused to increased diligence. The streets and broad-ways seem to imply the means of grace in which the Lord is to be sought. Application is made to those who watch for men’s souls. Immediate satisfaction is not found. We must not rest in any means, but by faith apply directly to Christ. The holding of Christ, and not letting him go, denotes earnest cleaving to him. What prevails is a humble, ardent suing by prayer, with a lively exercise of faith on his promises. So long as the faith of believers keeps hold of Christ, he will not be offended at their earnest asking, yea, he is well pleased with it. The believer desires to make others acquainted with his Saviour. Wherever we find Christ, we must take him home with us to our houses, especially to our hearts; and we should call upon ourselves and each other, to beware of grieving our holy Comforter, and provoking the departure of the Beloved.

3:6-11 A wilderness is an emblem of the world; the believer comes out of it when he is delivered from the love of its sinful pleasures and pursuits, and refuses to comply with its customs and fashions, to seek happiness in communion with the Saviour. A poor soul shall come up, at last, under the conduct of the Comforter; like a cloud of incense ascending from the altar, or the smoke of the burnt-offerings. This signifies pious and devout affections, and the mounting of the soul heaven-ward. The believer is filled with the graces of God’s Spirit; his devotions now are very lively. These graces and comforts are from the heavenly Canaan. He, who is the Peace of his people, the King of the heavenly Zion, has provided for the safe conveyance of his redeemed through the wilderness of this world. The bed, or palanquin, was contrived for rest and easy conveyance, but its beauty and magnificence showed the quality of its owner. The church is well guarded; more are with her than are against her: believers, when they repose in Christ, and with him, though they have their fears in the night, are yet safe. The chariot here denotes the covenant of redemption, the way of our salvation. This is that work of Christ, which makes him loved and admired in the eyes of believers. It is framed and contrived, both for the glory of Christ, and for the comfort of believers; it is well ordered in all things and sure. The blood of the covenant, that rich purple, is the cover of this chariot, by which believers are sheltered from the wind and storms of Divine wrath, and the troubles of this world; but the midst of it is that love of Christ which passes knowledge, this is for believers to repose upon. Christ, in his gospel, manifests himself. Take special notice of his crown. Applying this to Christ, it speaks the honour put upon him, and his power and dominion.

I encourage each of you to study and pray as you seek to understand all that God’s word has for you.

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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.

 

 

All Scripture Is Inspired By YHWH

Deuteronomy 23 has a collection of instructions. Let’s review after you read the chapter. Read through, you may be surprised by how much is relevant today to our lives.

Deuteronomy 23

Persons Excluded from the Assembly

     1“No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD. 2“No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD. 3“No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD, 4because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5“Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you. 6“You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days.

      7“You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land. 8“The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD.

      9“When you go out as an army against your enemies, you shall keep yourself from every evil thing.

      10“If there is among you any man who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he must go outside the camp; he may not reenter the camp. 11“But it shall be when evening approaches, he shall bathe himself with water, and at sundown he may reenter the camp.

      12“You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, 13and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement. 14“Since the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.

      15“You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16“He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.

      17“None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute. 18“You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God.

      19“You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. 20“You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.

      21“When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you. 22“However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23“You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God, what you have promised.

      24“When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your basket.

      25“When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain.

Doubtless, this is another passage which seems strange to us in our culture and time today. It may stir up some questions for those who wish to dig below the surface meaning. If we at first do not understand, remember who YHWH is and that He is holy and just. Start with that and we realize that if parts of this are troubling, we should study more to fully understand the context of the times when it was written. I am not an expert in these matters to be sure. My surface thoughts are as follows:

  • First, I ask myself what it means to be excluded from the assembly of the Lord. There are different views and I am not sure which is right. Does it mean excluded from the worship gathering? excluded from marriage? excluded from temple service? excluded from leadership? I am not sure which is right. Worthy of study for those who want to find out more.
  • Other nations would at times make eunuchs to serve in a palace or temple. Such a disfigurement is not pleasing to the Lord. I do not believe this was intended to punish victims but rather to prevent doing this to God’s people.
  •  It may seem harsh to exclude illegitimate children. However, this puts more emphasis on families following YHWH’s instructions and being holy. I believe the intent is to deter people from having illegitimate children, rather than intending to punish the children. It was not something to be normalized and accepted. Depending on the meaning of forbidden from the assembly of the Lord, this could also simply mean that they were not to be working in the temple, which is set apart and holy.
  • Amonites and Moabites were held accountable in memory of the sins of their people against Israel. We as a nation may face similar consequences for rebellion against the Lord. Though not all of us may rebel or reject Him, we may all face certain consequences together as one people.
  •  The people were then specifically told not to hate the Edomites and Egyptians. Interesting to note that YHWH never makes an equivalence of all people groups as equally righteous and valued. Those who rebel and fight against YHWH and His people are not to be accepted. Others, are specifically called out to not be hated. Our culture today must surely think this odd as many try to say that “all cultures and all nations” are to be respected and accepted as they are equally, with none better than the rest. YHWH seems to indicate differently.
  • There are certain behaviors that make us unclean. Rather than trying to excuse it and reject it, try to understand what and why and try to avoid them. If we become unclean, take time to seek to be cleansed. Spend that time with the Lord in prayer. Seek forgiveness.
  • YHWH takes the term “walking among us” seriously. He intends for us to keep our “camp” (or our home) clean with no indecent thing among us. Think about your home today. Are there indecent things among you? It may be idols. It may be pornography. It may be inappropriate clothing. It may simply even be television programs and music that is indecent. Cleanse your home and let nothing indecent be among you so that the Lord may walk among you.
  • Be kind to an escaped slave. Do not return them to their owner. Let them live among you. This is very gracious, in particular in a time when it was written when slavery was more common. I could also derive perhaps that we are to help those escaping difficult circumstances and not treat them badly. Rather help them to get free, even if it is from abuse or addiction. Note it does not say let entire nations and tribes of foreigners come into your midst (e.g. open borders). Rather it is focused on helping individuals, which could be assimilated and helped more effectively in smaller numbers.
  • Prostitution is wrong. YHWH does not even want money from such objectionable and offensive behavior. He wants no part of it. I hypothesize also that He does not want any part of many other objectionable behaviors even if they bring profit… perhaps drugs, human slavery, abortion, and many more.
  • As a follower of YHWH, we are not to loan to other believers for interest. If we loan it is to help them, not make money off them by increasing the cost burden to them by adding interest.
  • You are not required to make vows to YHWH, but if you do… take it seriously and do not delay in fulfilling it. Better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it. Further, you can ask YHWH to help you without making a vow.
  • We also see more guidance in reference to grain and grapes. We can share from our neighbors hospitality, but do not become greedy and become a burden by taking more than you should.

I for one am always surprised when I try to reflect on passages like this one. My first reaction is that none of it applies and I can “skip” it or read quickly. After prayer and a serious attempt to understand, even without lengthy, detailed study, I am amazed how relevant this guidance still remains for our lives.

May the grace and peace of our Lord, Yeshua, be with you.

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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.

Guidance and Encouragement for the Church

There is actually quite a lot packed into a fairly short chapter in 2 Thessalonians 3. Read through it and meet me on the other side to unpack it.

2 Thessalonians 3

Exhortation

     1Finally, brethren, pray for us that the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified, just as it did also with you; 2and that we will be rescued from perverse and evil men; for not all have faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord concerning you, that you are doing and will continue to do what we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ.

      6Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us. 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you; 9not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, so that you would follow our example. 10For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. 11For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. 12Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread. 13But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good.

      14If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. 15Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

      16Now may the Lord of peace Himself continually grant you peace in every circumstance. The Lord be with you all!

      17I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write. 18The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

There is a lot we should take note of and apply in our own lives today.

  • Paul begins this chapter by asking for prayer not only for him to be protected from wicked men, but also for the word of God to spread quickly and be glorified.
  • Paul expresses faith and confidence in the Lord not only for his situation but for that of the believers in Thessalonica. He has confidence in God’s protection from Satan as well as the need to ask God to help direct our hearts to love Him and be steadfast in Christ.
  • Paul takes time to encourage other Christians.
  • Contrary to what many would teach today, we are not to befriend and be close to unruly, undisciplined people just because they may claim to follow Christ. Their behaviors and attitudes bely the fact that they are not truly submitted to Christ.
  • Paul makes special emphasis of saying they should not grow weary of doing good.
  • Right before saying this, Paul comments quite a bit on how they set an example by working for and paying for what they needed to survive. He makes two points, both of which seem at odds with what is normal in our culture today.  We should take note as our culture may be out of calibration with the early church. First, that even though he could expect the people to provide for him while he ministers to them about Christ, he thought it important to support himself as an example. Second, those that refuse to work “shall eat their own bread”. He clearly states that those who are unwilling to work (not talking here about unable to work), should not be subsidized in their laziness or stubbornness by others but rather encouraged by even their own hunger to work and be productive.
  • Paul also makes a point to instruct the church to discipline and admonish  members who refuse to live according to the proper instruction in these matters. Too often today churches do not admonish anyone effectively, if at all. All are invited to sit in church regardless of their outward sin and rebellion. Pastors rationalize that “at least they will hear the word”, but individuals take home the message that living in sin as they are is just fine and they are “saved”. Those outside the church can no longer see that the church is any different than they are.  People in the church behave the same way that people outside the church do. Effective rebuke is desperately in need, even though it should be done with respect and love. Pastors are too concerned someone may get mad and leave, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. There is no trophy for having the biggest crowd sit in church and not follow God. Quite the opposite. Leaders will be judged based on how they accepted sin and offended God instead of man.

Pray and reflect on this message from Paul to Thessalonica. It is still relevant today. Ask God to show you what changes you should make in your life.

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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.

 

Should A Christian Celebrate Halloween?

Far to often we just go along with whatever “everyone else” is doing when holidays are concerned. We can always rationalize why many of the common “holidays” such as Halloween “are harmless” or even “an opportunity to participate so as to lead others to Christ”. However, never in scripture does God encourage us to in any way imitate the pagan celebrations of others as a way of “getting along with” or “blending in with” or even witnessing to non believers. We are instead called to be set apart from pagan traditions and worship of false gods in every way. We are to do things only God’s way. Being different is an important part of being a light to draw people to Christ. If those who follow Christ blend in with everyone else, why should they accept Christ and change their lives?

The following article is a good summary about Halloween, so I choose not to write my own. I recommend you pray for God to give you an open mind and test celebration of Halloween, not against what your church does or your family has done for generations, but against the word of God.

A few easy questions to ask yourself…  “Does celebrating this holiday honor God and point others to Him? Could it actually confuse others as to what Christ calls us to do and how He calls us to act? If I ignore traditions of men for a moment and test the holiday (and how it is celebrated) against scripture, is there any way I would ever reasonably conclude I should celebrate this based on the Bible itself?”

ChristianAnswers.net – Should Christians participate in Halloween?

The October 31st holiday that we today know as Halloween has strong roots in paganism and is closely connected with worship of the Enemy of this world, Satan. It is a holiday that generally glorifies the dark things of this world, rather than the light of Jesus Christ, The Truth.

Have you noticed how costumes and masks are getting generally more bloody, gory, and depraved each year? Unfortunately, the gruesome and grotesque and the occult are increasingly glorified in American society, not only on Halloween, but throughout the year in frequent horror movies and television programs.

My family does not celebrate it or participate in it. We do not believe that our children are “missing out,” and neither do they. Other days are used for costumes and parties. Happily, all of our children have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. We have found that Halloween provides an excellent time to remind our children that, as Christians, we are different, and not of this world (Heb. 11:13-16; 1 Pet. 2:11).

What about church “Harvest Festivals” held on October 31? Although we understand the rational and good intentions behind them, we don’t think they are the best approach. Our family tends to agree with the author of an article called “Are ‘Harvest Parties’ for Christians?” (written by a self-avowed former witch and now active Christian). Harvest parties on October 31 tend to assume that “our children need something to take the place of Halloween, since they won’t be participating in the secular and pagan celebrations. It suggests our kids are missing out on something. And indeed they are, if we allow them to spend Halloween in celebration.” There are better things to do on Halloween than partying.

Also, we need to teach our children that “the fight isn’t against occultists, non-Christians, Christians who feel differently than we about Halloween, or institutions that promote Halloween, but” “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, NKJV).

Click the following link to read the full article: ChristianAnswers.net – Should Christians participate in Halloween?

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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

Blessed Are Those Who Delight In YHWH’s Commandments

What a simple message overall… blessed are those who fear the Lord and delight in His commandments. How often we dismiss this concept of blessing today. We somehow have come to convince people that obedience to YHWH has no consequences. Even those who claim Christianity grab hold of this concept thinking they are saved by grace and thus do not “have to” obey or will receive no blessing for obedience and no curse for disobedience. I think this is more of a problem because there are examples of people who suffer who are submitted to Christ and examples of others who appear to prosper who are wicked. While this is understandable, we should take care to believe YHWH’s word.

Some of it is obvious… if we individually and as a group obey YHWH, we will be blessed simply by each other and how we live together as a community or nation. Life is better with less sin. However, blessing is more than that. It is not always material gain or wealth, though it can be that. No matter what situation you are in, whether in difficulty or prosperity, it is better when you are going through it with the Lord. In other words, the blessing makes the “valleys” easier to navigate and the “mountain tops” more enjoyable. There is so much more to it than just trying to do the bare minimum with YHWH to be “saved”.

Blessed are those who fear the Lord and greatly delight in His commandments.

Psalms 112

Prosperity of the One Who Fears the LORD.

     1Praise the LORD!
How blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
Who greatly delights in His commandments.

      2His descendants will be mighty on earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.

      3Wealth and riches are in his house,
And his righteousness endures forever.

      4Light arises in the darkness for the upright;
He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.

      5It is well with the man who is gracious and lends;
He will maintain his cause in judgment.

      6For he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be remembered forever.

      7He will not fear evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.

      8His heart is upheld, he will not fear,
Until he looks with satisfaction on his adversaries.

      9He has given freely to the poor,
His righteousness endures forever;
His horn will be exalted in honor.

      10The wicked will see it and be vexed,
He will gnash his teeth and melt away;
The desire of the wicked will perish.

Pray the Lord would help you to delight in His commandments and to seek Him more and to experience the fullness of blessing of a life lived submitted to Him in actions and attitudes and not just in words.

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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 Scripture Is Difficult To Understand, Start By Assuming YHWH Is Right

I certainly have to admit that the laws on domestic relations seem as if from a faraway time and place… because they are. They are not only far away in location but also in time.  The culture was very different. It is easy for us to jump to the conclusion that they are somehow wrong and barbaric. I think that is so easy or simple a view and is not correct. To truly understand we need to study to understand the cultural norms and lifestyle of the time. We must think about it in context. We do well to start with the faith that YHWH is correct and His instruction is righteous and then seek to understand how it applied then and how it may apply still today. In this way we gain wisdom and understanding.

Deuteronomy 21:10-23

Domestic Relations

       10“When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take them away captive, 11and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire for her and would take her as a wife for yourself, 12then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. 13“She shall also remove the clothes of her captivity and shall remain in your house, and mourn her father and mother a full month; and after that you may go in to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14“It shall be, if you are not pleased with her, then you shall let her go wherever she wishes; but you shall certainly not sell her for money, you shall not mistreat her, because you have humbled her.

      15“If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, if the firstborn son belongs to the unloved, 16then it shall be in the day he wills what he has to his sons, he cannot make the son of the loved the firstborn before the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn. 17“But he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn.

      18“If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, 19then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. 20“They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21“Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.

      22“If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.

We can certainly have a robust and interesting discussion regarding taking a captive as a wife. I am not sure how to practically apply this to be frank. However, one can easily understand that other cultures of the time would not be so gracious to a captive as to give them time to grieve and treat them well. There is explicit instruction to avoid abusing them. There is protection for those who are vulnerable.

We can ponder again about the instruction regarding two wives, one loved and one unloved. I do not believe YHWH wants a man to have two wives. He intended one man to one woman as with Adam and Eve. We could have an interesting discussion on why He did not outright ban it. Perhaps like divorce, He allowed it because of the hardness of their hearts. Similarly, I don’t believe He intends for any wife to be unloved by her husband. However, we can see that He provides protection for those who may be unloved and may be vulnerable to abuse or neglect.

In the third example, we can see that YHWH expects even perhaps adult children to still respect their parents. How many of us assume the scripture is calling young children gluttons and drunkards? It sounds like older children who are being rebellious. In this case it refers to rebellion to both YHWH and parents. YHWH is not tolerant of evil and rebellion. He instructs that there should be accountability and a stop should be put to the sin before it spreads to others.

The last example probably seems to most of us abhorrent. Why would we hang those who were executed in public. This was likely not a pretty site. Again, though we could have a very interesting discussion on this case, ultimately I think we could agree YHWH wants to discourage sin and rebellion. He wants to discourage  seriously bad behavior from becoming accepted and normalized. We can perhaps prefer not to take this approach, but in reality looking at the sin rampant in our culture today, perhaps we would benefit from a bit more punishment and accountability a few generations ago and we would not have normalized so much sin in our culture which is now praised as acceptable or good.

I would simply encourage you to not disregard any scripture and not assume that YHWH was wrong because we live differently than He instructed His people to live. Pray, study and reflect on what we can learn about Him from His word. Then seek to apply it to your life.

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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.

Sin In A Community or a Nation Is Serious Business

Many reject the law as obsolete or meaningless. Some are even less kind. However, Paul reminds us that all of the scripture is good. When he wrote 2 Timothy, the only scripture was the Old Testament. The New Testament had not yet been written.

2 Timothy 3:16

 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.

I openly admit that sometimes I am more challenged than others to find the value in some of the scriptures as it would still apply today. That said, just because I don’t understand it does not change the fact that it is meaningful. My lack of understanding should lead me further in study and prayer rather than simply dismissing it.

Deuteronomy 21 documents expiation of a crime. Expiation is the act of making amends or reparation for guilt or wrongdoing. I am not sure how to process the specific activity that is done for expiation in this case and apply it for life today. However, I am struck by the seriousness with which they were instructed to confront sin. Even if they did not know who committed the crime, they still considered it a serious matter. It was not just a serious matter for the “police” to investigate, but for the community to seek forgiveness from before YHWH. I believe we have lost this in our culture today for the most part. The people no longer come together in prayer before YHWH to confront sin and ask forgiveness.

2 Chronicles 7:13-14

13“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people,14and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

I believe we would do well to routinely humble ourselves and pray for our nation. This is not just something for “those guilty people” to do. This is a call for YHWH’s people to humble themselves and pray. As His people, we can do this even for a nation with many who reject YHWH. We are all sinners. We are a common people… one nation. Let those of us who serve YHWH humble ourselves and pray and seek Him and turn from our wicked ways. Let us try to lead others to turn from their wicked ways as well. We must not simply be “silent Christians”. That is an oxymoron, a contradiction. The disciples and prophets and Yeshua all took bold positions to share truth even when others opposed them and rejected the message. So should we.

Deuteronomy 21: 1-9

Expiation of a Crime

      1“If a slain person is found lying in the open country in the land which the LORD your God gives you to possess, and it is not known who has struck him, 2then your elders and your judges shall go out and measure the distance to the cities which are around the slain one. 3“It shall be that the city which is nearest to the slain man, that is, the elders of that city, shall take a heifer of the herd, which has not been worked and which has not pulled in a yoke; 4and the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which has not been plowed or sown, and shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. 5“Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the LORD your God has chosen them to serve Him and to bless in the name of the LORD; and every dispute and every assault shall be settled by them. 6“All the elders of that city which is nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley; 7and they shall answer and say, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it. 8‘Forgive Your people Israel whom You have redeemed, O LORD, and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of Your people Israel.’ And the bloodguiltiness shall be forgiven them. 9“So you shall remove the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the eyes of the LORD.

Sin in a community or nation is serious business and we should address it before YHWH on His terms.

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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 Is Bad

Many Christians mistakenly believe that the law of YHWH is not meaningful today, that it is obsolete. Christ said He did not come to abolish it. The scriptures say repeatedly the law is good and perfect. It leads us to YHWH.

We should pay attention as Paul speaks about the “man of lawlessness”. Listen to how evil is compared to lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2, below.  Lest you think this limited to one scripture, consider also Matthew 7.21-23.

  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 MEYOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

YHWH is not pleased with those who practice and teach lawlessness.

2 Thessalonians 2

Man of Lawlessness

      1Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.3Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 5Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? 6And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

I can hardly begin to cover this broad topic in a single post, but I hope it can at least catch enough of your attention and curiosity that you will take time to pray and study more on the topic. Test everything against the scripture. Do not accept something simply because it is taught in churches. Much false and conflicting doctrine is taught. Some things which were taught a generation of two ago are not taught differently in many churches. One by one the ten commandments are lost or left behind. Honoring Sabbath has all but disappeared in my lifetime in our culture. Abortion is accepted broadly and even people professing to follow Christ vote for those who openly support the murder of the unborn. Test everything against scripture.

Lawlessness is bad. If all Christians today were truly and fully Spirit led then they would not be so divergent in their views and teaching and behaviors. The Law leads us to the Lord. It does not save us. Only our faith in Christ saves us if we accept Him as Lord. Our obedience is the fruit of our salvation, not the root of our salvation. If we are truly Spirit led, should we not look like the disciples, the prophets, like Yeshua? All of them followed the Law.

Pray for the Lord to give you a love of the truth so you will seek it diligently. Take no pleasure in wickedness. Study the Lord to know the difference.

For more about the law, review the following to get started:

Understanding the Law – What Does It Mean Today?

Focused Ministries – Understanding Hebrew Roots

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

A Call To Prayer For Our Nation

There is a battle going on for our nation and for nations around the world. It is not always fought with military. Often it is fought through politics. There are many who want to keep leading our country farther and farther away from a Christian worldview. They want to demonize people who live out their faith by suing them (e.g. bakers, florists, artists). They want to create rights for people who are struggling with their sexual identity while stripping rights away from Christians who want to live according to YHWH’s word. They want to fight for the right to provide free abortion to kill children while decrying that any who oppose abortion are against women. This is nonsense. It is lies. Half the children killed would grow into women.

We see this battle playing out in politics. There is a push to make government the sole provider and master of all things instead of YHWH. The government should determine what healthcare and education you get. The government should take your money and decide whom to give it to. Instead of equality of opportunity, they want to claim equality of outcomes. There will never be an end to it. We need only look to countries like China or Russia to see how the government, once established with enough power, will continue to persecute and scatter those who follow Christ or try to control them.

At this point, the odds are stacked against the righteous in terms of the power of the government, the way in which education has been stripped of God and Biblical focus and replaced with a secular worldview, the way in which traditional mainstream news media have a clear bias in reporting (as well as new media like major social media platforms), the way in which pastors are silenced on politics under threat by the IRS to revoke non profit status, and these are just some examples. For those who deny Christ, there is no concept of “fair play” or true right and wrong. They constantly redefine what is right and wrong to suit their purpose.

But take heart, that if we are on the Lord’s side, than we have all we need. If we are to follow Christ, we must actively stand up and stand against evil. We must influence others. We must vote. We must not believe the lie that we are to separate our faith from our government. Our government was founded based on faith in YHWH through Christ. We must recognize that this is a spiritual battle for our country as well. We must not remain neutral, but rather based on God’s word get involved despite any persecution we may face.

More than anything we must humble ourselves and pray. Let us repent from sin, rededicate ourselves to the Lord, and pray for Him to bring our nation back to righteousness. Pray that He would defeat the plans of the evil and raise up righteous leaders across our nation in government and in churches and in education and in the news.  Let us pray for our nation in this battle between evil and righteousness as David prayed for Himself in similar situations he faced.

Psalm 7 

The LORD Implored to Defend the Psalmist against the Wicked.

A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the LORD concerning Cush, a Benjamite.

     1O LORD my God, in You I have taken refuge;
Save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me,

      2Or he will tear my soul like a lion,
Dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.

      3O LORD my God, if I have done this,
If there is injustice in my hands,

      4If I have rewarded evil to my friend,
Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary,

      5Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it;
And let him trample my life down to the ground
And lay my glory in the dust.

Selah.

      6Arise, O LORD, in Your anger;
Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries,
And arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment.

      7Let the assembly of the peoples encompass You,
And over them return on high.

      8The LORD judges the peoples;
Vindicate me, O LORD, according to my righteousness and my integrity that is in me.

      9O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous;
For the righteous God tries the hearts and minds.

      10My shield is with God,
Who saves the upright in heart.

      11God is a righteous judge,
And a God who has indignation every day.

      12If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword;
He has bent His bow and made it ready.

      13He has also prepared for Himself deadly weapons;
He makes His arrows fiery shafts.

      14Behold, he travails with wickedness,
And he conceives mischief and brings forth falsehood.

      15He has dug a pit and hollowed it out,
And has fallen into the hole which he made.

      16His mischief will return upon his own head,
And his violence will descend upon his own pate.

      17I will give thanks to the LORD according to His righteousness
And will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.

Pray for our president and congress. Pray for those in the judiciary to be guided by godly principles consistent with our Constitution as written, not as changed to imply what others today want it to say. Pray for local and state officials. Influence others. Do not remain silent. Vote. Continue praying. Let us take action to help bring about a return of our nation to righteousness and away from darkness.

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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.

My Beloved Is Mine And I am His

Our culture will often downplay the love and attraction of spouses enjoying one another, while playing up the wrongful lusts of those who are not married as if they are somehow more romantic. We are always better off when we embrace YHWH’s ways. For those of us who are married, or engaged and soon to be married, it is good for us to look with admiration and love upon our spouse or future spouse.

Song of Solomon 2

The Bride’s Admiration

            1“I am the rose of Sharon,
The lily of the valleys.”

      2“Like a lily among the thorns,
So is my darling among the maidens.”

      3“Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
So is my beloved among the young men.
In his shade I took great delight and sat down,
And his fruit was sweet to my taste.

      4“He has brought me to his banquet hall,
And his banner over me is love.

      5“Sustain me with raisin cakes,
Refresh me with apples,
Because I am lovesick.

      6“Let his left hand be under my head
And his right hand embrace me.”

      7“I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field,
That you do not arouse or awaken my love
Until she pleases.”

      8“Listen! My beloved!
Behold, he is coming,
Climbing on the mountains,
Leaping on the hills!

      9“My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Behold, he is standing behind our wall,
He is looking through the windows,
He is peering through the lattice.

      10“My beloved responded and said to me,
‘Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along.

      11‘For behold, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone.

      12‘The flowers have already appeared in the land;
The time has arrived for pruning the vines,
And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.

      13‘The fig tree has ripened its figs,
And the vines in blossom have given forth their fragrance.
Arise, my darling, my beautiful one,
And come along!’”

      14“O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
In the secret place of the steep pathway,
Let me see your form,
Let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet,
And your form is lovely.”

      15“Catch the foxes for us,
The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards,
While our vineyards are in blossom.”

      16“My beloved is mine, and I am his;
He pastures his flock among the lilies.

      17“Until the cool of the day when the shadows flee away,
Turn, my beloved, and be like a gazelle
Or a young stag on the mountains of Bether.”

We should take care to avoid believing the narrative that a bride should make sure she remains independent from her groom. That somehow she must not depend on him for provision, but must work in a job as well. It is perfectly good for a bride to embrace her groom and look for him to provide and look upon him with admiration. Similarly, let not the groom be so hungry for money that he insists the bride also work just so they can have more money and instead sacrifice the intended role of wife and mother in the family unit.

Do not stop looking upon one another in the way demonstrated in Song of Solomon 2 just because you have been married awhile, either. Continue to look upon one another in admiration and love.

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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.

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