My Scripture Studies
Not about Religion - About Relationship

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Why the Letter to the Galatians?

For many, the letters of Paul have been misunderstood.

Without its foundation, a casual read can one think that the letter Paul penned to the Galatians has a goal to override what is written in the Torah, the Writings and the Prophets as well as the words of Yeshua.

This leads to confusion as the letter appears to conflict with Paul's prior testimony in the book of Acts. But here's the thing, people started confusing what Paul taught as soon as he believed Yeshua as the resurrected Messiah.

When you read his own testimony -- you see that Paul kept the Torah (see Acts 21:1-26).

Yet, those who say the Torah has been "done away with" or "hung on the cross" often turn to Paul's letters to the to "prove" their point. They teach this despite the fact that Yeshua taught not one jot or tittle would ever be done away with. Yeshua (aka Jesus) excludes no one from His voice on this. He teaches the highest level of spirit and truth to both Jew and Gentile regarding the Torah its purpose in the Kingdom of God.

Jesus came to do this as a humble Messiah. Even the Vilna Gaon, a revered Jewish sage that lived in the mid 1700's stated that one of the roles of Messiah was that of Moshiach ben Yosef who's mission is to reveal the 'Sod,' the hidden parts of Torah. And he is not the only Jewish source of commentary on the role of Moshiach ben Yosef. It is discussed at great length in other Jewish writings including the Zohar, the writings of the Ari’Zal, Rabbi Luzzato (Ramchal) and many others.

Yeshua's words are recorded in the gospel accounts beginning with Matthew for all to see, Jew and Gentile as He states He came to fill the Torah with meaning. Perhaps you have read Matthew 5:17-19, here the Greek word "plēroō" has been translated as "fulfill"...
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to 'fulfill'.

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.

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." NASB
If you are thinking that "plēroō" means to finish or put an end to the Torah, you need to bend a knee because the Greek word "plēroō" means to cause to abound - to render perfect - to perform not "do away with."

So, we have to ask: Why the letter to the Galatians?

The letter is focused on strict, religious dogma, a conflict that arose out of the precepts of men, not Almighty God. In chapter 5:1-4 of the Galatia letter (actually modern day Turkey), Paul writes some difficult words for those Gentiles that have been formerly been "estranged from Messiah" who were being told by some that they had to be justified by religious deed not just faith in Messiah, the living Torah:
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Messiah has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.

Indeed I, Paul, say to you that if you become circumcised, Messiah will profit you nothing.

And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole Torah.

You who have become estranged from Messiah, you who seek to be justified by Torah; you have fallen from grace."
To one whose eyes and ears are untrained in the culture, the admonition to the Galatians can sound like a warning against walking in the Torah path as Paul professed to walk, and a condemnation of circumcision. It seems once you become circumcised, you take on a debt that cannot be paid or if anyone wants to do what the Torah says, it's a sure sign they have come under the law in bondage of legalism, fallen from grace.

Simple enough, but this short sighted view misses the mark and the heart of the message in Paul's letter and the Torah.

A "religious" conflict was at hand that tragically is still with us. Judaism and Christianity have taken on completely different identities. . Can you be a Gentile and possess faith in Yeshua and still be considered as a part of the chosen family of God?

Paul was an expert in the teachings of the strictest sect of the Pharisees, after all he remained a Pharisee and upheld the Torah of God as a Believer in the resurrected Jewish Messiah. That's not my opinion, he said so himself:
"Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; I am on trial for the hope and resurrection of the dead!" Acts 23:6

"My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews.

They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee." Acts 26:4-5
So, if we want to stop skimming the surface and dig in deep we can see something, a hidden treasure in the book of Acts about Paul that will help us understand his letter to the Galatians.

Paul wasn't turning the Galatians against the Biblical instruction of circumcision found in the Torah, nor any of God's words that Moses recorded and Yeshua taught and expounded on, we know this because he said so himself:
"Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law." Romans 3:31
Rather, Paul was preaching against his own past religious persecution, saying don't exchange the gracious mercy gift of a life-changing relationship with The Father for religious "works of law" to try to justify strict religious dogma.

Many have portrayed Paul as a Jew that turned his back on Judaism and started a new religion after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, but the thing is Paul did not. He departed from religious tradition which he had formerly given greater weight than the mercy and grace which are the heart of God's Torah.

The believers of Galatia were being leavened by a religious teaching that Paul was an expert at and had long upheld propped by the religious idea that forbid the men of "circumcision" to associate with one that was not.

Paul was trying to teach the very essence of Torah, the royal law of faith that is about growing in God's character of mercy and love, aka circumcision of the heart. It was the same lesson that Peter learned on the rooftop in Joppa before he met the Roman Centurion Cornelius.

Paul taught his own past bondage of faith in the letter of the law was not the life giving character of the mercy and grace of the Lawgiver. Something dramatic had happened. Paul met the risen, resurrected Yeshua on the road to Damascus, he came to know the heart of God and the voice of His living Torah.

Paul realized that religious works as a means to salvation is blind to God's goodness and unfailing love through The Father's character. By his own physical blindness and healing, Paul saw the truth declared in the scroll of Exodus at the top of Mount Sinai:
"And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy." Exodus 33:19
Mercy, not sacrifice is the foundation of God's heart and the fountain of life. This truth is declared through the witness of David, Solomon and Hosea:
"For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6

"O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." Psalm 51:15-17

"Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart. To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice." Proverbs 21:2-3
Paul was teaching of El Shaddai's answer to pleas of mercy described by the prophet Zechariah:
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn." Zechariah 12:10

"On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness." Zechariah 13:1
Paul wasn't against circumcision. In Acts, Paul providies his own expert witness and testimony to king Agrippa, before Festus, the military tribunes and the prominent men of Jerusalem, admitting his past sin which ignored mercy and grace as he appealed to a mercy hearing with Caesar. We can understand this if we look in Acts 26:9 where Paul proclaimed to the angry, cynical crowd:
“I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Yeshua of Nazareth."
Did you see that? Paul was convinced that he should oppose the name of Yeshua.

Messiah of Nazareth showed Paul he was wrong opposing the mercy of salvation. The humble Yeshua, the "pierced one" tore down the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile, He did not add new bricks because His glory is in our unity in the royal law to love God and each other, not the man-made minutia of our doctrines.

When he finally met Yeshua, Paul realized Messiah's purpose was to bring Heaven to Earth and to reconcile Jew and Gentile, indeed all mankind as one new man in one faith. Paul taught the Romans this and he taught the Ephesians the exact same storyline of The Kingdom mystery of Messiah that is inclusive for all nations that love The Father and each other:
"What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone..." Romans 9:30-32

“When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Messiah, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles (nations) are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Messiah Yeshua through the gospel.” Ephesians 3:4-6
Paul did not speak against the 613 righteous instructions of the Torah, nor was he teaching against the 1,050 or so commandments found in the Newer Testament that reveal the heart of God in the Torah. John taught from Isaiah in agreement:
"Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness [Torah-lessness]." 1John 3:4
In fact, in his defense before Agrippa Paul proclaimed in repentance we are to perform good deeds, i.e. mirzvot of Torah:
“Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance." Acts 26:19-20
No, Paul was combating his own longstanding, un-biblical notion of ignoring mercy and grace that had infiltrated the Galatia community, that to be considered a child of God, you must first become circumcised and that religious work was the way for a Gentile (un-circumcision) not naturally born as a religious Jew (circumcision) to be eligible to become a bona fide member of the "family of God".

According to Paul, his former religious "law" emanated from man's traditions that he had once upheld even to raging fury, imprisonment and the death of others like Stephen. He taught that these traditions added to the Torah contrary to the teaching of Moses. Look at his own confession in Acts 26:10-11...
"And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities."
Why the Letter to the Galatians?

Paul's issue was about a tradition that Gentiles had to be circumcised to be converted. Paul's focus in the letter is about a repentant walk of faith, not tradition. He professed the same in the court of Agrippa describing the deeds in a proper Torah walk: "and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance."

To get a better handle of the purpose of this letter, consider the many doctrines floating around in the thousands of denominations prevalent within the broad spectrum of Christianity today, all with shades of varying opinions, differing traditions and doctrines.

You've probably heard of or may even follow one or more of them as a "member", but think about this, if only a hundred denominations existed in Paul's day, we would find the New Testament too big, too heavy to carry all of the letters of admonition from this Jewish Pharisee.

If we step back, we might see that denominations can separate.

Just take a look at Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The church there is believed by many Christians to be the site of Jesus' crucifixion and burial, and the site was established by Constantine's mother Helena at the end of the 4th century. Access to the church in Jerusalem's Old City is governed by a Muslim family that holds the keys while denominations with widely varying tradition maintain separate services there. These include Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, as well as Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox and Ethiopian Tewahedo.

Think about this... What denomination service would Paul choose if he were around today?

I know that is a difficult question.

If we look at differences in denominational teachings that separate rather than bring people together as "one" in Messiah. So, to understand the dilemma of hostility and "the stumbling stones" that existed in Paul's day, you do not have to travel back in time 2,000 years, all you need do is drive down the street in any town in America, or if you have the means go to Jerusalem to visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

Have you ever visited 'different' church denominations? If os, sooner or later you may have been asked to undergo church doctrine training so that you can might be eligible to 'join' as a church member. Now, if you step back for a moment, you might ask a couple of questions: why membership, isn't the church 'the body' the 'one' assembly, the 'whole' body of believers in the faith of Messiah just as Paul described?

According to a 2011 report from the Pew Research Center, Christians are diverse theologically... "About half are Catholic. Protestants, broadly defined, make up 37%. Orthodox Christians comprise 12% of Christians worldwide."

Perhaps you are beginning to see the bricks on the walls of separation can only be held by the mortar of tradition and doctrine and that creates separation, not agreement.

Just a short walk down the road from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre stands the Western Wall where according to the Jewish Virtual Library you can find "Ultra-Orthodox Jews who oppose organized women's prayer services at the Wall and Jews from the Conservative and Reform movements have been fighting with the Orthodox authorities who control access to the Wall for the right to conduct their own services."

Jerusalem offers a time portal to see the past. This is what Paul was dealing with in Galatia.

Like Paul, the disciples taught the opposite
of religious difference.

Peter taught exactly what the Torah teaches. He wrote of one faith, he wrote of "a" royal priesthood, "a" holy nation, "a" people, not many.

Peter never taught that you should look around for the "right" church to join because you agree with a denominational doctrine established by their founding fathers or what the pastor proclaims. No, he taught of mercy from the Torah established by THE FATHER and recorded by Moses:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1Peter 2:9-10
As we can see from these words from the Jew named Kepha, the focus of faith, of a royal priesthood is on God's mercy calling and you to proclaim the excellencies of Him and be blessed by the same faith promises declared in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) that Jesus taught from as given to Israel AND the sojourners with them as "a" holy nation called out by God.

Messiah Yeshua prayed "that they may all be one even as we are one" to The Father in His high priestly prayer revealed to the planet in John 17:
"Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me." John 17:17-23
Like the noble Bereans mentioned in Acts 17:11, we too can search the Scriptures to see what our Father truly wants to give us as we worship Him.

The key message is we need to proclaim as a royal priesthood and not keep distant from God’s instruction. The Torah does not need a religious fence or denominational dogma around it. God does not need our creeds to help Him govern His universe.

The Bible shows us God is first pleased with a repentant heart that desires to walk after Him. That is the plain message of Moses that Paul taught the Galatians that many miss:

"Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked." Deuteronomy 10:16

Abraham is another witness to this. He was not circumcised in the flesh until age 99, yet he received "the covenant" blessing for the nations of the Earth long before the day God came like a man and stood before him at the oak of Mamre.

It's true, Abraham walked with God as a friend for at least 24 years before God's instruction of circumcision before Issac was conceived.

Paul never taught against God's Word, he taught Timothy encouraging him to study the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings because there was no New Testament when he penned these words:
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2Timothy 16-17
An uninformed pulpit teaching of Galatians is a big problem if it teaches against God's instruction in righteousness.

To search out the meaning within the letter, we must dig in deep and do something in keeping with our repentance. We must ask our Heavenly Father to give us understanding through His Spirit to help us see that some rabbinic religious laws can pile up against Torah just as denominational doctrines can distort its truth of mercy like tares sown among the wheat.

Paul's message is to focus on a repentant relationship first, on faith in Messiah – not the religious doctrines of men that can mislead us if we seek deeds as an exchange for God's mercy. Moses instructs people not to add to God's Word or subtract from it and that's the rock of the foundation of Paul's letter.

Did you know, the first instruction for the sanctuary was about the pure goldMercy Seat that rested on the Ark of the Covenant.

Likewise, we must pray and reflect first on the unchanging Torah character of Messiah Savior Yeshua because we are responsible first to repent and seek mercy first before we can know God's standards for holy (set apart) living. If we are to live them out in love we must teach them just as our Messiah did (see John 13:15; 1 John 2:6; Ephesians 5:1-2 and 1Corinthians 11:1).

After all, the “Great Commission” isn’t only about preaching, but about teaching others how to demonstrate their repentant love for The Father and follow the commands He has given us for righteous living as a child of God and one new man (Matthew 28:18-20).

This is what discipleship is all about, and it is happening today as a 2,000 year divide is closing fast.

Some Christians are learning that following God’s instructions (His Torah) does not minimize or diminish mercy or grace, its puts the character of God first, nor does it put a person under the penalty of man's religious law rejecting mercy. In fact, it is God’s grace that provides forgiveness for the many times that we "miss the mark" when we slip and fall as we strive to walk in His path of love and repentant obedience to our Heavenly Father.

God's mercy and unending love is why the world has His once-and-for-all healing offering which is from the blood of the one pierced for our transgressions, Messiah Yeshua, the Son of God who willingly offered His life to pay the penalty that we all deserve for going astray in sin (in Hebrew "chet") rejecting God and His commandments.

Isaiah 53:4-6 declares:
"Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness."

"Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

When we accept in faith Yeshua's atoning gift we receive the deliverance He can bring and we get to show our gratitude in love of Torah deeds for our Heavenly Father, others and ourselves by keeping His Kingdom ways because we want to, and we can do so joyfully trusting what He has done to atone and heal mankind's iniquities!

From a proper Biblical perspective, Paul’s comments are not that difficult to comprehend when placed into their proper Torah context and understanding... that God's restoration plan includes both Jew and Gentile. Paul refutes the "religious" tradition that circumcision is the entry into a covenant relationship with Almighty God. Paul declares the ancient truth, that relationship based on "faith" is the doorway to covenant with our Creator as it has always been as shown by the faith of Abraham who crossed over from the Ur of the Chaldeans in Babylon (Galatians 3:6-9).

Seeking the light of truth is the key to understanding Galatians.

Without the context of some religious mandates that are not Scriptural, Paul's message is hidden below the surface of his words. His point is that God seeks those who will regard Him with fond affection, rather than stand at a religious arm’s length from Him as a taskmaster. This truth is also shown in this declaration to Hosea:
“It will be in that day," says the LORD, "That you will call me 'my husband,' And no longer call me 'my master.'” Hosea 2:16 HNV
Paul's embedded message that comes out in its proper context is that God wants people that to serve Him out of love much like that of a woman for her husband. Likewise, His love is that of a devoted, tender husband. Paul's message is that God is utterly concerned with an intimate relationship — with Him. The Father wants our relationship to be borne of love and devotion, not ruled through men's religious control.

The fact is, the Galatians that Paul taught came from neo-pagan worship, they were 'non-Jews' fully assimilated in ancient Greek culture before Paul arrived with other brothers in faith. The Galatians didn't observe the Torah and likely did not know much of God's teaching before Paul's arrived on the Greek scene. They worshipped many false-gods and followed the deceptive traditions, celebrations and seasons of Olympus.

Take a look at the word "again" in Galatians 5:1.
"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
These non-Jews had been assimilated in Greek tradition and culture, they would never logically view the Torah as the yoke of bondage they were once "again" being entangled in.

The "days and months and seasons" that were disparaged by Paul in Galatians 4:9-10 were not the Biblically appointed festivals of The Lord, but rather the ways of Greek hellenistic polytheism that carried on from ancient Babylonian idol worship and festivities of the nations that remain in remnant forms today.

Many of these Greek days, months and seasons survive having morphed in one form or another from Babylon. Incredibly, some have even been adopted into Christianity in the form of Easter and Christmas. In the Greek culture of Paul's day in Galatia, neo-pagans celebrated and worshipped all sorts of idols and Greek false-gods.

As noted, some remain including today's fall 'carnival' copy-cat season whose origin is from the festivities worshiping Dionysus, the Greek false-god of wine and feast. The holy, Biblically ordained fall celebration is Sukkot. This holy week is set apart and declared by El Shaddai in Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:34; Deuteronomy 16:13-16. Its first restoration of observance after the exile to Babylon is detailed in the Book of Nehemiah 8:13-18 and Zechariah 14:16-19 describes its future after the Olam Hazeh - this world's present age in the "Yemot Hamashiach" or the Messianic Era, the sabbatical millennium, the 1,000 year reign of King Messiah Yeshua in Jerusalem.

Sukkot's eternal purpose has been morph-mixed by a Greek mindset because the deceiver always infuses truth with fiction and false-gods in the power of haSatan unlike Yeshua who taught the circumcised heart upholding the deeds of Torah which is the Father's heart from the beginning just as Moses describes.

Even our modern calendar weekdays are infused in Hellenistic astrology as each day is named after false-idol gods deities of the heavens. Naming the days of each and every week was is a system made popular around the globe by the Romans when they honored the days after the neo-pagan deities of their time mixing the Bible's ancient countdown to the 7th day Sabbath with honoring false-god planet worship. Today, the week begins with Sun-day in honor of Sol Ivictus, the official sun god of the Roman Empire who morphed from the Greek false-god Helios.

Believe it or not, the ancient Greek theatre began as festivals honoring this false-god Dionysus. The Greek culture was hellenistic and they worshipped the pantheon of the other Greek false-gods of Olympus including Zeus, Athena, Artemis, Apollo, Hermes, Hades and Aphrodite just to name a few. Paul knew typical Greek worship ritual included feasting in honor of their false idol gods. He was all too familiar with how the Greeks celebrated all kinds of festivals and celebrations to make offerings to their mythic Olympic deities.

During the course of a year, scheduled celebrations were held, so if you do not have at least some understanding of the culture the Galatians lived in you can get rid of your confusion easily by simply reading the works of Homer. He was the Greek poet and writer that is credited with works like The Odyssey and The Iliad as well as Homer's Hymns that describe the Greek culture and the ritual mystery cults that gave birth to the seasons that Paul preached against.

Many ancient Greek traditions survive today in one form or another including the Olympic Games that still carry on the mystical name of the home of the Greek false-gods. In fact, references to the legends of some Greek false-gods and heroes continue in common expressions such as "Achilles heel" to "Pandora's box" and "Herculean effort" that tie to the Greek culture of Paul's day.

The architecture of the Greek temples still reflects the Parthenon and the Acropolis which are still revered today. If you doubt that take a trip to Washington DC to view the Greek architectural designs that are infused in the Supreme Court building, in fact, the most recognized legal symbol there is the female figure on the steps and the lampposts leading to the main entrance representing Justice that dates back to depictions of Themis and Justicia infused in the religion of Greece and Rome that survive today. Themis was the Greek Goddess of Justice and Law. In Roman mythology, Justicia (Justice) was one of the "four virtues."

Yes, its true, Peter the fisherman and disciple wrote that Paul’s “letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (see 2Peter 3:16).

You may have missed it before but take notice,
Peter wrote that: "ignorant and unstable people distort"
Paul's letters to their own "destruction".

Destruction is serious, yet some do not want to see that Paul, even in his letter to the Galatians, esteems the purpose of God’s Torah in the lives of the faithful. Paul appeals to the Greek people to rely on the account of Abraham (Galatians 3:6, 3:14, 3:16, 3:18; 4:22), after all, Abraham left the pagan ways and life of Babylon, he crossed over and surely Paul knew they could relate to his story.

Some today, like ancient Greek philosophers, teach believers that they only be concerned with a mind-set, a one-time decision is all you need, a 'belief' in grace alone ignoring Truth and Spirit, because they do not see that love and faith are 'demonstrated' by God’s people by 'doing' God's Word in love is Truth and Spirit as “two” witnesses to faith.

As Peter points out, their problem is not just with Paul, but they have an issue with the front of the Bible, the "other Scriptures"... despite the fact that they are the Messiah's Bible.

So whats up with the bondage that Paul wrote about?

For many years, religious men were adding to the Torah, rather than finding rest in YHWH's love and grace established in the Torah that was made to abound in meaning through Messiah Yeshua.

Galatians doesn't teach that wanting to follow what is written in the Bible is a problem, but seeking to be justified before Almighty God by doing works is a problem with any religion that adds to or takes away from The Torah.

When God's words are written on our hearts, His Spirit gives us the desire do the things instructed by His voice, not in order to be saved, but rather because we delight in "getting to" do them as we celebrate love for our Father and Savior. It is that expression of love that is a blessing... after all, loving God is the greatest command we must understand (See Matthew 22:37-40).

But there is 'one' that opposes this great truth about the mercy and grace of God's love emanating from the Mercy Seat.

The deceiver does not want us to be 'whole' Bible believers, he promotes Greek philosophy. The enemy wants many to be deceived and think of themselves as Gentile sinners. The enemy wants people to be ineffective and not know that when Jesus healed people, He instructed them to "go and sin no more."

The enemy wants you to believe the lie that faith in Yeshua should not be followed with honoring God's Torah, His instruction manual for living. The enemy wants you to remain sidelined in sin so you cannot be effective in showing others how to demonstrate their love for God through the blessing of righteous living by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The enemy wants to veil your true identity and separate Christians from our Jewish brothers and sisters. He abhors a proper identity of faith in Yeshua the Messiah. Paul taught that you can be adopted as a part of God’s children. A family with the name Israel given as as gift by faith and trust in the gospel of the Kingdom. That's what the sojourners with them noted in the book of Exodus is about. Paul taught the Galatians that through a faith adoption, believers are heirs with Abraham, and partakers of the promises of the covenant God made with him. And since believers are adopted, they are heirs of God's promise through Messiah Yeshua (see Galatians 4:7) and He warned the Galatians to not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage of Hellenism (see Galatians 5:1).

Galatians is not in opposition to a Torah lifestyle that God outlined for mankind and the letter is not impossible to understand, provided you seek Truth and Spirit to understand the message in true Biblical light.

Consider the “righteousness” described in Galatians which includes status as a member of God’s chosen people, even as it regards redemption and forgiveness by Messiah's taking away the penalty of sin.

Next, we need to know that “circumcision” for the Galatians is concerned with the ritual of becoming a proselyte by religious tradition. Paul was warning that in undergoing “circumcision” for salvation, the Galatians would have discounted the power of the gospel and faith in Yeshua as being the entry to God’s covenant household. Paul was teaching from Moses who wrote:
"And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live." Deuteronomy 30:6
Last but not least, the “works of the law” concern a specific way of following the Torah. Paul hit the nail on the head by asserting that righteousness does not come via circumcision as “works of law.” He was right to conclude that one’s personal forgiveness does not come by human action, but through the work Jesus did for all people, all nations as He walked the walk, talked the talk and took sin and its penalty nailing it to his Passover cross three days before arose in eternal resurrection glory on the Day of First Fruits.

If you can understand this, then your life, your study and perspective on the deep message of Galatians will go well with you. Not only will you be able to have a fuller grasp on the context of the religious conflict shown in Galatians, but also its great importance today in the circumcision of one's heart.

Needless to say, we have to understand the foundation given of the letter to the Galatians. Few it seems realize it, but Paul quotes from Scripture to make his point:
  • Galations 3:8, Paul quotes from Genesis 12:3
  • Galations 3:10, Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26
  • Galations 3:11, Paul quotes from Habakkuk 2:4
  • Galations 3:12, Paul quotes from Leviticus 18:5
  • Galations 3:13, Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 21:23
Paul is not trying to do away with Torah, circumcision or start any new religion. He never did, nor did Yeshua.

As usual, Paul uses the front of the Bible to prove his point. The apostle always used a Torah and Prophet-based proof for his positions, not understanding that (ignorance) only causes confusion and bad preaching. That's why Peter said those that do that are ignorant of God's Word. Don't remain ignorant, study the Word of God for yourself.

Rather than invalidating the Torah through the eternal work of the Messiah that causes the Torah to abound, Paul shows how the Torah teaches that a person can only be justified in the eyes of God not by our works but by faith, mercy and grace through the Messiah's perfect Torah keeping and redeeming work.

Paul's doctrine is not new, it is from the beginning.

He taught Abraham was justified by faith in the eyes of God, just read Galatians 3:9 for yourself, and Paul taught that Abraham, in faith kept the Torah he had received as instruction from God (see Genesis 26:5). Abraham was the first man to be circumcised and Paul did not teach against that, in fact he called it profitable! How do we know?
"What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit [is there] of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God." Romans 3:1-2
Paul never taught against the Jews. He was a Jew. Yeshua was a Jew and a Rabbi, but many have changed His identity. Paul wrote this:
“...a man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly...” Romans 2:28-3:1
And this... "I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew..."

The disciple James, another Jew whose real name was Jacob (Yaakov) also uses Abraham as the example to show us that Abraham was justified by his faith yet his faith was made perfect and complete by his works because Abraham "acted" on his faith just as James taught: faith without works is dead (see James 2:14-24).

Replacement theology is a false idea that, 'the church' has replaced Israel in God’s purposes and plan.

Due to the error of dispensational, replacement theology, many Christians suffer from an identity crisis and ignore the message of Paul to the Romans and the words of James, the brother of Jesus. They get confused in ignorance and equate doing the law (Torah) with a goal to earn justification and salvation by good works. The Torah never taught that message, it is the Heavenly eternal instruction for "living near" God and walking in His ways on Earth because you love and worship Him.

Messiah Yeshua didn’t come to replace Israel with a church, nor start a new brand identity either, He came to fill the Torah, make it abound, to close the gap, to reconcile all men to God, first the Jew, and then the Gentile as an authentic faithful remnant grafted within Israel.

The Hebrew word, Torah means "to teach, to point out as aiming". After all, instruction is what any father, but most especially our Heavenly Father gives to all of his children to draw us near and point us toward truth and living a life which is righteous and pleasing to the Father.

The storyline of Exodus is quite clear about this.

Doing the Torah does not save anyone, it never did, it was given by God to teach us how to live life in the Kingdom after salvation. Read the Exodus account carefully for yourself and take notice, Israel received the Torah from the fire "after" they were saved by the blood of a lamb and brought out of Egypt through the sea to be set-apart in covenant near the Creator God of Israel.

Exodus ultimately teaches us all that a person must believe in the Messiah's blood life atonement for sin and THEN we get to demonstrate our love by living life in the light according to the truth and spirit of the living water of Torah. This is the message James taught:
"Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness” — and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." James 2:20-24
Yeshua Ha-Mashiach is the embodiment of living Torah, He is sinless "Word of God" made flesh. When He lived his life on this planet as the humble Jewish Rabbi from Nazareth, Jesus always instructed his followers how they could live their lives in a Heavenly way.

In Matthew 5:17, our Savior taught the multitudes gathered and the Mount and He still teaches us about this:
"Think not that I have come to destroy the TORAH."
This word "destroy" points us to a basic Hebrew idiom about the Torah which means to wrongly interpret and teach the meaning of God's instruction for your life given by the voice of God at another mountain, Mount Sinai:
"But I have not come to destroy (wrongly interpret and teach) but to fulfill (another Jewish idiom which means to "make abound" in your life) ..."

In Revelation 14:12 He said: "Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Yeshua."

Yeshua reinforces His goal to make the Torah abound, endure in purpose and in Revelation 22:12,14 He reiterates what James had learned from Him:
"And behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work (good works) shall be... Blessed are they that do his commandments (walks by love and walks in the path of the Torah taught by Yeshua) that they may have right to the tree of life (eternal life) and may enter in through the gates of the city".
Yeshua uses the words tree of life here for good reason too. It's another idiom. Did you know that the columns of a Torah scroll are called leaves? That is no coincidence, its another Hebrew word picture.

Jeremiah 36:21,23 tells us about the leaves of a Torah scroll:
"So the king sent Jehudi to fetch the roll (scroll)... and Jehudi READ it in the ears of the king ... And it came to pass when Jehudi had read three or four leaves ..."
Here, the "leaves" on the "tree of life" is a reference to the passages found inscribed in every Torah scroll.

The vision of Revelation also describes a river that runs beside the tree of life. Do you know why He does that?

In its Hebraic context, Revelation tells us keeping the commandments of God is like a river of life and Revelation 22:2 is a direct reference to the promise of Psalm 1:2-3 which describes the delight of a person who keeps the Torah of God:
"But his delight is in the Torah of the Lord: and in his Torah does he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; and his leaf also shall not wither and whatsoever he does shall prosper".

Any biologist will tell you the basics, life cannot not exist without water. You cannot live abundantly without God's Torah.

In summary, the issue in understanding Paul's message to the Galatians is that we must read the letter in its proper Torah foundation, not mixed with religious confusion. The nature of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was that it mixed these together; the fruit of the tree, when eaten mixes the truth with lies. Mixture is Satan's method to cause chaos and death, that is why the Torah is full of prohibitions against (kalayim)) mixing or combining certain species of animals, plants and even clothing (shatnez).

It's the Torah way of teaching a greater meaning by using creation as an example of greater truth (see Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11 as examples that the verse reveal insights for our understanding of holiness).

Satan always mixes a little bit of truth with a big lie. One of those lies that I once fell for, that the Torah is an Old Testament.

Paul was concerned with a mixture of truth that the way to salvation is 'doing' Torah. Paul teaches that keeping the commandments of God could never provide eternal life. The goal of Torah is to point you to Messiah, to show you that you are a sinner and that you need a redeemer. It sets the Godly standard to show your need for the Messiah while at the same time it teaches us how we can live our lives in a way which is pleasing to God just as Yeshua.

Paul used the Torah and the Prophets as the source text to teach others who Yeshua is:
"...From morning till evening he expounded to them, testifying to the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Yeshua both from the Torah of Moses and from the Prophets." Acts 28:23
Yeshua overcame the punishment for our willful sin (violation of Torah) by taking it upon Himself at the Roman execution stake. His life offering and resurrection redeemed and atones us from the curse of eternal death and separation from God which comes from our deliberate disobedience, but He did not do away with the Torah, Heaven forbid, He fill it with meaning.

He never took away the blessings that result when we are obedient in our walk just as He was and is.

Yeshua alone can redeem us from eternal death, the first curse and the second command to mankind. The first was a blessing to be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and rule over it.

Our Creator will never do away with any blessing, any good of the Torah so the choice is yours. Paul taught about this:
"Wherefore the law [Torah] is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid..." Romans 7:12-13
The truth of Galatians is a real eye opener. So what is the message to us today?

The question that we should all be asking is, "How is God telling us to live?" Of course, our minds will immediately think of our natural surroundings first, but this is the wrong place. To answer the question, we must look inward.

Where is He asking us to live? It is within the guidelines of the Torah.

The question posed to the Galatians is: how are we to live in true faith?

Does Scripture urge you to live following man's traditions or have you been "called out" to live a life separate and apart as a divine appointment unto your Abba Father?

Are you truly serious about your faith? If so, are you living within the guidelines of Torah which Paul has actually told us to live by in repentance? Do you believe every unchanging jot or tittle even if you do not understand them just yet?

Or, do we want to be like Paul the Pharisee, believing in resurrection but looking to preach the addition of man-made traditions not looking to God's Word with the covenant to bless all nations? Do we mix good and evil with only one spiritual eye on His Word, and the other on man's religious doctrine?

Many are now re-considering what they have been taught and are taking a walk of faith just as father Abraham taught his son Isaac.

As we have seen, when the famine came, Isaac wanted to take control of the situation. But the message to Isaac was very clear. He was told to follow God's instruction. Isaac accepted this and was on a new walk because of it. It was one he had not walked fully in before. In order for him to live in the provision of his Creator, Isaac had to learn to trust in the voice and teaching of God. He had to learn to not follow the path that seemed good. He had to learn faith, then his walk in repentance.

Today, many believers are on a walk similar to Isaac as we re-consider Paul's word to the Galatians. If you have become bored with the old sermons and the lifestyle of the Greeks, may God bless your journey home!

Yet, since the first century, only a few, a remnant have walked in faith and obedience. We must each now learn to return to how God tells us to live. The message to the Galatians is for us as well, we must understand that it is the walk of faith in Messiah that has to come first.

If we will learn this, then we can learn how Messiah tells us to live as He did, it is a process of bringing the lost sheep home in reconciliation with our God.

The God of Israel does not want to remain distant from His creation, He wants to be close to us, to be with us, to live with us in us, and make atonement a reality for us.

The Temple enabled our Almighty Holy God to live among mankind but it was temporary until the arrival of the humble Messiah ben David. The Temple in Jerusalem was dedicated to God by the blood of animals that were cut, sacrificed following the instruction contained in God’s Word about the way the Temple was to function while it existed as a gift to God's people.

Messiah Yeshua is a living picture of the Temple. His Hebrew name means salvation. He was dedicated to God from the beginning on the 8th day of His life on earth and given His name. He was cut, devoted to God in circumcision, set apart for God's work on Earth and The Father's purpose in His name just as Isaac was circumcised on the eighth day according to the teaching and instruction (the Torah) and in agreement with the Covenant given to Abraham:
"When the eight days until His circumcision had passed, He was named Yeshua, the name the angel had given Him before He had been conceived. And when the time of purification according to the Law of Moses was complete, His parents brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord… Luke 2:21-22
Yeshua is the fulfillment of the instruction and trial given Abraham that would test his faith.
“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:1-2
After the binding of Isaac on the wood on Moriah, in Hebrew the binding is called Akedah, Isaac is not seen again until his bride Rebekah approaches.

The same will be for Messiah.

Throughout His life, Yeshua taught and lived out the Torah. He did this by always making a decision, a choice to put God's instruction first and foremost, and not Himself, but God’s will: He stated: "I came down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. I do not seek My own will but the will of Him who sent Me."

Messiah, lived out His purpose to serve God by setting Himself apart as a living sacrifice and He will live out Torah when He comes for His covenant bride.

Yeshua taught the life of Torah when He said: "I sanctify Myself, I set Myself apart to serve God; set Myself apart from anything that is unholy, anything that is against God’s will."

He set Himself apart by knowing and doing the Word of God. He never violated God’s teachings, He did not sin, He did what His Father said, just like Isaac.

Not only that, He became the lamb that God would provide for Himself:
And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. Genesis 22:7-8
Yeshua taught of the Kingdom of God as He healed people, gave sight to the blind while He taught that people were sanctified by truth and Spirit (John 4:23-24), that God’s Word is that truth that sanctifies life on Earth as it is in Heaven. He spoke to God all the time in prayer. He had a mission. He said: "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work."

Messiah Yeshua never compromised God's instruction.

Messiah Yeshua is the living Temple of God and He shows us how to live in the will of God and maintain our dedication in faith to every Word of The Father just as Abraham did.

We all need to make a decision to devote ourselves to God, to set ourselves apart as a priest for God in His mercy though Messiah. In this way, a believer enters salvation in Yeshua through the faith held in the blessing of the covenant given to Abraham. That faith is what we must have because The Lord is not only our Creator but our Redeemer who can save us from death by the exchange of His perfect life for ours. If we do, He will send His Spirit to live in us, as The Spirit of God filled The Temple.

Have you made your decision?

Have you made that commitment to dedicate yourself to the God of Israel through the life gift of faith in His Messiah? Do you realize that you need to make that decision to engage God’s will for your life? It's the big decision. Yeshua is the choice of eternal life. That is what Paul taught.

The next step in Messiah is to maintain our dedication by sanctifying ourselves, walking like Messiah, keeping ourselves apart from anything that is unholy, anything that is against God’s will for our life near Him because we love Him. To understand fully, we must study the Scriptures, the recorded words of God to know His teaching and instruction in each situation we encounter and each choice we make.

In God's Word, we will learn that our Creator has a set-apart lifestyle for those that follow Him and He wants us live in it just as Messiah did, helping others, teaching, discipling, honoring God's Sabbath rest, keeping His appointments, even watching what we eat so that we may live a healthy long life walking in righteousness, sanctification, and holiness in the lifestyle of priesthood.

We can begin our dedication by thanking Him for all the good things He has done, is doing and will do as we praise Him realizing that we have been given a path to follow that has given to us in mercy and a mission of love to accomplish because time is short.

There is eternal-life changing work to be done and it starts with your faith choice in repentance and teshuvah. You too can be a part of the reconciliation between all who belong to our God and our King.

The truth of the living Word of God and the Jewish Messiah is that He desires to save us all from the death penalty of sin, the choice is yours, choose life!