My Scripture Studies
Removing the Blinders

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Why the Letter to the Galatians?

The letters of Paul can seem complex and difficult to understand.  One reason, we do not easily connect with their seemingly distant culture, social structure and historic context of 2,000 years ago. Because of those issues, questions and misunderstanding abound when we read Paul letters with what seems to be a modern mindset.

Another issue is that Paul taught Hebraic concepts to Greek thinkers like so Paul's Hebrew Scripture perspectives are hidden from view by a modern church focused on ignoring the authority of the Bible that Paul studied and taught.

It's important to understand the origin of Greek "thinking" if we want to uncover the heart of the letter writer. It is said that Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC and was part and parcel of the Roman Empire. Greek philosophy attempted to make sense out of the world in a non-religious way. By that definition, we can actually see that Greek thinking survives and is with us today as most people attempt to make sense of the world while rejecting the Bible.

That the very definition of evolution and philosophy which seeks understanding of our existence, knowledge and reason for life.

To understand Paul, we must return to the basics that formed his letters and put it then into proper context. This is the only way we will be able to understand the mind and spirit of the messages.

Pauls' world was one where Jews focused on the message of the Shema, that God is one. This collided with surrounding pagan polytheistic religions that worshipped a multitude of false-gods. This conflict drove the culture of ancient Galatia.

For these and other reasons we will touch on, a surface reading of the letters penned by Paul can lead one to think that his goal was to start a "new" religion and provide an override to God's instruction manual rather than focus on the heart and spirit of God's Word.

The hard truth is that "new" religion view is a remnant of dispensational teaching, perhaps first influenced by none other than a Greek merchant named Marcion. If we could travel back in time to 144 AD we would find this rich ship trader standing in Rome in a bid to recognized as a bishop, presenting his opinions that Old and the New cannot be reconciled to each other.

In a nutshell, Marcion taught Moses preached about the Sabbath and an old Law and that Christ freed believers from the very Bible He read, studied and taught.

Sound familiar?

If it doesn't just wait. You may hear Marcion's elevator pitch painted again but it's a part of an ignorant and and unstable lie that began in Eden. A lie that says God does not mean what He says. That lie is from the mouth of a serpent that wants to poison your soul.

Not only that, Marcion rejected the Hebrew Scriptures as well as all of the Jewish New Testament manuscripts except those of Paul and Luke, so he was branded a heretic and never made it to the bishop's office.

Yet, with a hint of Marcion and Simon Magnus in their teachings, certain church fathers began to adopt portions of Marcion's outcast views of replacement theology as a new religion called Christianity. Their voices still echo from many pulpits with powerpoint presentations embedded with occasional verse snippets declaring the Bible Jesus read and taught is old and done away with.

The result: Pauls' Galatian letters are still misused just as Marcion did long ago along with a misinformed misunderstanding of Acts 15 as well. All this leads to the question:

Why the letter to the Galatians?

After Marcion, the so-called "Gentile" church soon viewed Jewish people as a “rejected people” who were to wander the world “despised” and other people like Justin Martyr began to cast false blame saying of the Jews that: “tribulations were justly imposed on you since you have murdered the Just One” despite the fact that Pontius Pilate sentenced Jesus to Roman beating and death, even though Pilate knew that the evidence in His trial was false and did not justify death. See Luke 23:4, Luke 23:13-15 and Luke 23:22-23 for the facts. That is why Pilate washed his hands.

In the same way, post first century pulpits have woven ignorant and unstable lies against Jewish people in one form or another resulting in antisemitic aggression in all forms including medieval forced conversions, inquisitions, blood libels, property confiscations, expulsions, pogroms, massacres, murders, persecution and even the holocaust.

Replacement theology under the influence of men like Marcion, Simon Magnus, Justin Martyr, Melito of Sardis and Tertullian ripped the first century church from its Jewish roots and Jerusalem.

Initially, this began as the demographics of believers changed. In the beginning all Believers were Jewish as Gentiles assumed positions of religious leadership in cities like Antioch, Alexandria and Rome as Biblical faith came under influence of a Roman worldview embedded in Greek thinking under Constantine in 312AD in a world in which the Bible was not known.

Horrifically, 1900 years after Marcion's heresies became public, we can see how they provided a dark seed for Calvin's treatise: "On The Jews and Their Lies" that paved the path to Hitler's concentration of hatred and mass murder of six million.

Marcion the heretic, deemed the letter to the Galatians as the pinnacle of Paul's letters because he claimed Paul walked away from the Torah. Marcion did not understand the Bible's message so he turned it upside down. Marcion explained what he called the corruption of his version of the gospel on his failure to understand the context of Galatians and the true gospel of The Kingdom that proclaims God's lovingkindness and forgiveness.

Marcion's misunderstanding was driven by Biblical ignorance and a Biblically unstable hatred of Jews.

Bottomline, Marcion forgot that Jesus is a Jew.

His focus was a misunderstanding of Paul's statement that false brethren were attempting to turn believers from the gospel of the Kingdom.

Another man by the name Irenaeus, wrote a treatise called "Against Heresies." In it, Irenaeus identified the Nicolaitans calling them an "offshoot of the knowledge which is falsely so-called." He wrote that they "lead lives of unrestrained indulgence." This is the same warning that Paul gives in 1Timothy 6:20-21:

"O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,” for by professing it some have swerved from the faith."

So, in the end Marcion was a babbling Nicolaitan and his Greek philosophy was that people can be saved by grace and then do whatever they want unrestrained by God's words of instruction for a holy lifestyle.

Now you know why Yeshua speaks so strongly against the Nicolaitans.

Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Revelation 2:6
So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Revelation 2:15

These are the hard cold facts, the Nicolaitans of yesteryear and today cast a dark shadow on the Messiah that mandates a call for endurance in Biblical lifestyle and faith, not a walk away from it.

If you have ever run a cross country race, think back to it. Endurance requires training, suffering and forbearance, also an inner voice of courage and strength:

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 14:12

Three hundred years later after John penned this solemn truth from Yeshua on endurance, another John, John Chrysostom wrote and preached against the commandments of God and Jews and Christians who honored God's ordained Sabbaths and Feasts. Without a doubt, Marcion and Chrysostom among others are the poster children for Peter's yellow caution flag that is still waving in the endurance race today.

Peter was a fisherman and a Jewish disciple of Yeshua (aka Jesus). He once 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).

Marcion obviously ignored this warning as he tossed aside...

Ignorant and unstable people distort Paul's letters
to their own destruction. 

Wow! These are hard words from Peter because destruction causes so much damage that repair and restoration is virtually impossible!

Today, there are still those who still say that "the Law" is contrary to "church" doctrine in direct opposition to Yeshua's words in Revelation and Matthew 5:46-47. They believe the Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus taught every Sabbath are old, set aside, done away with and "hung on the cross" while turning to Paul's letters like Marcion did to "prove" their position.

There are those that deny Yeshua largely because of this church doctrine, after all that would disqualify Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.

The grave warning comes from the same Simon Peter that despite hearing every word Yeshua of Nazareth spoke and seeing each miracle and everything Jesus did to help others denied knowing Him three times in the hour of trial, but Yeshua never gave up on him, He knew God's lovingkindness and grace could transform him in the end. He knew the same of Paul.

Few Christians realize Paul, quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures to deliver the heart of the Torah's gospel message of mercy and lovingkindness, in all of his letters. Here are just five examples of Paul's Hebrew Scripture quotations in chapter three of Galatians:
  • Galatians 3:8, Paul quotes from Genesis 12:3
  • Galatians 3:10, Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26
  • Galatians 3:11, Paul quotes from Habakkuk 2:4
  • Galatians 3:12, Paul quotes from Leviticus 18:5
  • Galatians 3:13, Paul quotes from Deuteronomy 21:23
If we turn the page and look at Galatians 4, we see some things that might shake many modern pulpits.

In the beginning of the chapter, Paul writes a parable:

"Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father. So also we, while we were children, were held in bondage under the elemental things of the world. But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 
Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God." Galatians 4:1-7 

Parables can be misunderstood if we use a Greek mindset. The reason, they are Hebraic. They teach a message that compares two things through a story that has two meanings. Today, we call this an allegory, which is a metaphor in which a character, place or event is used to deliver a message about the truth.

Paul's allegory is used against The Torah. Interestingly, "the law" that Pauls writes about is from Genesis, not Leviticus. Notice the parable is about children, redemption and adoption. Genesis 3 is the placeholder of the law Paul refers to:

God promised new life to the wife but only through pain and tribulation:

To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children...
Death is the first law, the first covenant that God spoke to Adam the husband because he rejected God's guardianship and accepted the elemental things of the world:

Because you... have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’
Cursed is the ground because of you.
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.
To the deceiver serpent, God promised the redeemer from the law of death when He said:

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.

After this, Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden and put in exile, but this is temporary.

The law we can be redeemed from seen in the beginning and Galatians 4 is not the whole of the Torah, it's the death curse of sin shown to us in Genesis 3.

Paul parable teaching then fast forwards from Genesis 3 to Genesis 21 to contrast Sarah and Hagar’s lives and then he connects the Genesis message to Isaiah 54. One reason he did this because these passages were read together each Sabbath in the synagogue.

It's important to read all of Isaiah 54 to complete the parable picture Paul paints. In summary notice the child, restoration, redemption and everlasting lovingkindness and compassion:

Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child;
Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed... 
And your descendants will possess nations
And will resettle the desolate cities. 
For your husband is your Maker,
Whose name is the LORD of hosts;
And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel,
Who is called the God of all the earth. 
I hid My face from you for a moment,
But with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,
Says the LORD your Redeemer.

We can see another Torah-Haftorah connection in Paul's letter to Corinth. Check it out for yourself and you'll see 2Corinthians 3:6-18 connects Moses breaking the tablets at the golden calf idol worship scene described in Exodus 34:27-35.

God then describes His good news of everlasting lovingkindness and compassion through forgiveness as He provides a new set of tablets for Moses to carry down the mountain a second time to the sinners.

Paul ties this two trip message to receive the covenant tablets that reflects Messiah in Jeremiah 31:32-39 where God gives the prophet His loving promise to make a new covenant for the forgiveness of sin and write His Torah on our hearts.

The new covenant of Jeremiah 31 is the same as the new covenant described in Luke 22:20, 2Corinthians 3:6 and summarized in Hebrews 9:15 that speaks of Messiah's Genesis 3 promise:

For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

A Torah-Haftorah connection is the hidden foundation for all of Paul's messages and part and parcel of Simon Peter's grave warning connecting ignorance with destruction of this foundation.

Peter was concerned about Biblical blinders to Scripture in a form of cognitive dissonance if you will, a teaching that the letters of Paul provide a grace escape from the foundation of a Biblical lifestyle. Peter was present at the sermon of beatitudes. He heard Yeshua of Nazareth boldly declare this truth: not one jot or tittle will ever be done away with in the Torah as long as heaven and earth remain.

Peter knew the Messiah and he believed His words that promised a new covenant to be written on our hearts, do you?

Heaven and earth remain, and Paul's letters still reflect the true gospel of the compassionate lovingkindness redemption message of the Torah. If you heed Peter's warning, believe Jesus and agree with Paul that all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness (2Timothy 3:16) then you can understand why Peter's warning flag still waves for us in our race for endurance.

Grace does not allow a great escape from Torah or allow freewill sin. Grace is from God's throne, given from the beginning to strengthen us to not sin. We know this because grace is seen in Jeremiah as God promises to write His laws on our hearts as a new covenant. Grace begins in Eden and is vivid at the mountaintop with the golden calf sin below in the dust.

Yeshua of Nazareth excludes no one from His voice and authority on God's eternal truths and He declared it in the Sermon on the Mount. By its very nickname, the "Sermon on the Mount" teaching of Yeshua should remind you of another mountain, "Mount Sinai" and the weight of the words spoken there from the fire, smoke and thunder.

Not one jot or tittle of the words written in stone or scroll in the wilderness of Sinai are changed or done away with, no not even one letter.

This gospel of the Kingdom is the testimony of Jesus and it can be yours too. His mountaintop sermon is the spirit and truth of lovingkindness and compassion shown in the Torah regarding its eternal purpose in the Kingdom of God and we can find two witnesses of His Sermon on the Mount testimony in Matthew 5 and John 5.

The humble Yeshua taught "The Way" and "Truth" (Derech v’Emet) of the Kingdom that seems hidden for some, yet is found front and center in Pauls' letters.

No wonder the crowds that followed Jesus said He taught with authority (Luke 4:32).

Did you know Yeshua's followers were called "the Way?" See Acts 9:2, Acts 19:23, Acts 24:14 and others references. Many Christians might be blown away to know that the Hebrew word for "The Way" or derech can also called "Halakhah" and that the way of Yeshua is the truth and spirit of the written Torah.

If you debate the truth of Yeshua's words and take away from them accepting the addition of tradition and opinion by listening to another voice, then you're perspectives may not only lie in the shadow Adam, but of Marcion or lean toward Paul's path before He was confronted by the light of the arisen and resurrected Messiah Yeshua.

During the time preceding that day on the road to Damascus, Paul had rejected the Biblical concept of a bruised Messiah revealed in Isaiah 53, by other prophets and from the beginning of time in Genesis 3:15:
"I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel [עָקֵב aqeb].” 
At one time, Paul had also forgotten the prophetic psalm of king David:
What man can live and never see death?
Who can deliver his soul from the power of Sheol? Selah

Lord, where is your steadfast love of old,
which by your faithfulness you swore to David? 
Remember, O Lord, how your servants are mocked,
and how I bear in my heart the insults of all the many nations,
with which your enemies mock, O LORD,
with which they mock the footsteps [aqeb עָקֵב]
of your anointed [מָשִׁיחַ Mashiach].
Psalm 89:48-51
Paul rejected the bruised heel of the Passover lamb of God because he only looked for the lion of the tribe of Judah as King Messiah instead of the ancient steadfast love of old. Many Jewish people struggle with this today just as Paul did before his eyes were opened and at the same time, and no wonder, they like Yeshua hate the Nicolaism of Marcion, Chrysostom and Luther that was adopted by Christianity as it turned from its Hebrew root.

Not all Christians think this way and not all Jews reject the bruised and humble Mashiach as Paul once did.

Believe it or not, a revered Jewish sage from Poland, Elijah ben Solomon Zalmam, known as the Vilna Gaon lived in the mid 1700's and taught that one of the roles of Messiah was that of Moshiach ben Yosef. Gaon understood the humble Messiah's mission was to reveal the 'Sod,' the hidden parts of the wisdom of the Tanach which is exactly what Yeshua did.

Examples are many and they include the details of the Sermon on the Mount given to the large crowds that followed Yeshua from Galilee and the Decapolis and Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan (see Matthew 5, Matthew 6 and Matthew 7) and summarized to a great throng of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon (see Luke (6:17–49). In the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua explained the 'sod' truth of adultery on the instruction given in Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18 and Proverbs 6:32. He expounded on the Sabbath in Matthew 12 and Luke 6 as he explained the gospel of the Kingdom of God. Yeshua expounded on the 'sod' hidden purpose of the Sabbath in Luke 13:10-17 as well. Here, on the Sabbath, He healed the 18-year sickness of a woman caused by a spirit. Her body was bent over and twisted and she could not straighten up at all.

The 'sod' or hidden storyline of the woman in the synagogue is that she represents the assembly of "all Israel" both native born and sojourner that are oppressed by two key enemies, sickness and the deception of haSatan that leads to sin. Her affliction was judged by Yeshua when he said: "Woman, you are freed from your sickness." Yet, much like the storyline found in Galatians, a synagogue official was indignant because by his tradition and custom he considered healing a violation of "work" on the Sabbath (we'll expound more on that tradition later).

For now, it is important to understand that Luke's mention of her 18-year affliction is no coincidence, yet a casual reading does not reveal how it is critical to the prophecy revealed in the amazing miracle. The number eighteen provides a symbolic meaning for bondage in the Bible. That meaning is revealed in the book of Judges and the people that saw her healed in the synagogue assembly on that Sabbath day knew the significance of the number, that is one reason "the entire crowd was rejoicing over all the glorious things being done by Him."

The book of Judges takes the mystery out the number of her years of suffering. After taking possession of the promised land, the children of Israel were in bondage to several nations of people before David became king. Two key enemies, the Moabites and the Philistines oppressed them for 18 years (Judges 3:12-14, Judges 10:7-8). God freed the Israelites of their 18-year bondage through Ehud, Jephthah and Samson.

The coming millennium is the day Messiah Yeshua will free all Israel from the bondage of sin and the deception of haSatan during the Sabbath rest of Messianic Kingdom to come promised in 2 Samuel 7:11–16 that was preached by Yeshua in Matthew 5 in the Sermon on the Mount and revealed in Revelation 20:2-6.

The Vilna Gaon is not the only Jewish witness of serious thought and commentary on the critical role of Moshiach ben Yosef, the suffering Messiah. The earliest Talmudic references to two Messiahs dates at least to the 3rd century, identifying Him as the man of sorrows in Isaiah and one many will look upon and mourn, the one pierced as shown in Zechariah. The thing is there is only one Messiah and just like Moses He makes two trips from the mountain to deliver the covenant when Israel and the sojourners with them had to ratify God's covenant two times.

The first trip down the mountain Moses shattered the two tablets because Israel committed adultery with the golden calf and broke their promise:

Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Exodus 24:7-8

So, just as Messiah will return sprinkled by the blood of His sacrifice, Moses went back up and came down a second time after the first Lord's supper when the people at Mount Horeb were sprinkled by the blood of the sacrifice.

Moses shows us the reason for the first and second coming of Messiah in Deuteronomy 18:15:

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ The LORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well.  I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him."

The word Moses uses for prophet is נָבִיא nabiy' and it is an inspired messenger (angel) of God, one that spoke not his own words but those that he divinely received.

Yeshua points to this writing when He said:

“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me." John 5:46
The NASB Bible translation describes the messenger (angel) of he Lord in 77 verses.

John tells us in three passages how explicitly Yeshua speaks as the messenger of The Lord, the prophet Moses promised in  Deuteronomy 18:15. In John 7:16 Yeshua said, "My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me." In John 12:49 He said, "For I have not spoken on My own [authority]; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak." And finally, in John 14:24 Yeshua said, "the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me." Yeshua, shows us with these words that He was the prophet of God the Father from among Israel.

Among the other rabbinic writings that agree with the Vilna Gaon about the Messiah and his suffering include these:

"The Holy One gave Messiah the opportunity to save souls but to be severely chastised: and forthwith the Messiah accepted the chastisements of love, as is written, 'He was oppressed, and he was afflicted.' And when Israel is sinful, the Messiah seeks mercy upon them, as it is written, 'By his stripes we were healed,' and 'He carried the sins of many and made intercession for the trangressors.'" (Bereshith Rabbah, Rabbi Moshe Hadershan) 
"The word 'man' in the passage refers to the Messiah, the son of David as it is written, 'Behold the man whose name is Zemah'; there Jonathan interprets, Behold the man Messiah; as it is said 'a man of pains and known to sickness.' (Midrash Thanhumi, Rabbi Nahman) 
Rabbinical Elijah the prophet quote: "Bear the suffering and punishment of thy Lord, with which he chastises thee for the sins of Israel, as it is written, 'He is pressed for our rebellion - crushed for our iniquities' until the end come." (Midrash Cohen, BhM, 2:29) 
The Talmud explains: "The Messiah--what is his name? Those of the house of Rabbi Yuda the saint say, the sick one, as it is said, 'Surely he had borne our sicknesses'." (Sanhedrin 98b) 
"It is because of this future ordeal that David (prophetically) wept, saying My strength is dried up like a potsherd [Psalms 22:7]. At this hour, G-d will say to Him, Ephraim, My Righteous Messiah, didst Thou not agree before the creation to this? Now let Your sorrows be as My own sorrows....At that Messiah answers, Now is My Spirit calmed for 'It is enough for a servant to be like master.'" (Pesikta Rabbati Piska 36:142/Yalkut on Isaiah 60:1-2) 
"Then He [My Servant Messiah] will become despised, and will cut off the glory of all the Kingdoms; they will be prostrate and mourning, like a man of pains, and like One destined for sickness; and as though the Presence of the Shekinah had been withdrawn from us, they will be despised, and esteemed not." (Targum Jonathan Isaiah 53:3) 
"And when Israel is sinful, the Messiah seeks for mercy upon them, as it is written, 'By His stripes we were healed, and He carried the sins of many; and made intercession for the transgressors'." (B'reshith Rabbah) 

These are rabbinic comments on Isaiah 53. Here are two witnesses's on Zechariah:

Referring to Zech 12:10-12, "R. Dosa says: '(They will mourn) over the Messiah who will be slain.' " (B. Suk. 52a; also Y. Suk. 55b)
"Messiah son of Joseph was slain, as it is written, "They shall look unto me whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son" (Zech xii 10 (Suk. 52a)) 

Others rabbis agree on these prophecies of a suffering Messiah and take note, not one of them declares the suffering one is figurative of the Jewish people, the focus is on Messiah:

"I am pleased to interpret it in accordance of our rabbis, of the King Messiah, and will be careful, so far as I am able, to adhere to the literal sense: thus, possible, I shall be free from the fancied and far fetched interpretations of which others have been guilty...." (Rabbi Moshe Kohen Ibn Crispin of Cordova and Toledo in Spain, ca. 1350)

"I will now proceed to explain these verses of our own Messiah, who G-d willing, will come speedily in our days. I am surprised that Rashi and Rabbi David Kimchi have not, with the Targums, applied it to the Messiah likewise." (Rabbi Naphtali ben Asher Altshuler, ca. 1650 A.D.) 
"The Holy One gave Messiah the opportunity to save souls but to be severely chastised: and forthwith the Messiah accepted the chastisements of love, as is written, 'He was oppressed, and he was afflicted.' And when Israel is sinful, the Messiah seeks mercy upon them, as it is written, 'By his stripes we were healed,' and 'He carried the sins of many and made intercession for the trangressors.'" (Bereshith Rabbah, Rabbi Moshe Hadershan) 
"The word 'man' in the passage refers to the Messiah, the son of David as it is written, 'Behold the man whose name is Zemah'; there Jonathan interprets, Behold the man Messiah; as it is said 'a man of pains and known to sickness.' (Midrash Thanhumi, Rabbi Nahman) 
Rabbinical Elijah the prophet quote: "Bear the suffering and punishment of thy Lord, with which he chastises thee for the sins of Israel, as it is written, 'He is pressed for our rebellion - crushed for our iniquities' until the end come." (Midrash Cohen, BhM, 2:29) 
The Talmud explains: "The Messiah--what is his name? Those of the house of Rabbi Yuda the saint say, the sick one, as it is said, 'Surely he had borne our sicknesses'." (Sanhedrin 98b) 
"It is because of this future ordeal that David (prophetically) wept, saying My strength is dried up like a potsherd [Psalms 22:7]. At this hour, G-d will say to Him, Ephraim, My Righteous Messiah, didst Thou not agree before the creation to this? Now let Your sorrows be as My own sorrows....At that Messiah answers, Now is My Spirit calmed for 'It is enough for a servant to be like master.'" (Pesikta Rabbati Piska 36:142/Yalkut on Isaiah 60:1-2) 
"Then He [My Servant Messiah] will become despised, and will cut off the glory of all the Kingdoms; they will be prostrate and mourning, like a man of pains, and like One destined for sickness; and as though the Presence of the Shekinah had been withdrawn from us, they will be despised, and esteemed not." (Targum Jonathan Isaiah 53:3) 
"And when Israel is sinful, the Messiah seeks for mercy upon them, as it is written, 'By His stripes we were healed, and He carried the sins of many; and made intercession for the transgressors'." (B'reshith Rabbah)

It's impossible to deny a humble Messiah and King Messiah is declared by these respected Jewish sages and rabbis that confirm the Biblical words of Hosea, a Jewish prophet that wrote of a great diaspora and hinted of the two comings of Messiah:

"For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, 
​And like a young lion to the house of Judah. ​​I, even I will tear them and go away; ​​I will take them away, and no one shall rescue.  
I will return again to My place ​​till they acknowledge their offense. 
​​Then they will seek My face; ​​In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.” 
Come, and let us return to the LORD; ​​For He has torn, but He will heal us; ​​He has stricken, but He will bind us up. 
After two days He will revive us; ​​On the third day He will raise us up
​​That we may live in His sight. 
Let us know, ​​let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD. 
​​His going forth is established as the morning; ​​He will come to us like the rain, ​​Like the latter and former rain to the earth." Hosea 6 14-16; Hosea 6:1-3

Hosea's prophetic promise of two days and a third day point directly to Moses because God declares the end from the beginning:

"So it came about on the third day, when it was morning, that there were thunder and lightning flashes and a thick cloud upon the mountain and a very loud trumpet sound, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain." Exodus 19:16-17

Hosea's promise of the second rain hinting at the second mission of Messiah is not his own. It comes from Moses:

“It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Deuteronomy 11:13-15

The second work of Messiah Yeshua to the thousandth generation to gather His harvest is etched in Torah and the gospel accounts beginning with Matthew for all to see as He fills up the Torah with the Gospel truth of everlasting lovingkindness and compassion reflecting God's lovingkindness and forgiveness that The Lord declared as a part of his covenant in stone: "showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments" that tie to the words of Messiah to sin no more shown in John 8:11:

She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

Sin no more is the same message as "keep My commandments." Jesus would never say that if they were done away with, that's why the message is repeated in Revelation in the definition of the perseverance of the saints:

"Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Yeshua." Revelation 14:12

Perhaps you have read Matthew 5:17-19 where the Greek word "plēroō" has been translated in modern English Bibles as "fulfill" a word many mistake for finish or end...
"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 put an end to and finish off the Torah; you need to know perseverance because Jesus opposes your position, so its time to rewind because the Greek word "plēroō" means to cause to abound - to render perfect - to perform, fulfill does not "do away with" anything so keep and teach this.

So, let's ask again..
Why the letter to the Galatians?

Anyone that has traveled abroad knows that when you visit a foreign country for the first time, you are best served in your journey by enlisting a local guide for the sights, but more importantly a guide can help you understand the history and culture of the people.

A proper historic and Biblically balanced perspective on Paul as a Pharisee, a rabbi and a Jewish Believer in Yeshua the Messiah of Israel is the good a travel guide you need when it comes to the hidden parable aspects of his Galatian letter. Like all his letters, each of them are set amid an epicenter of chaos in Gentile paganism and idol worship in which polytheism was a civic duty in a Greco-Roman world mixed with a culture focused on false-gods and sacrifice to pagan idols.

This was present at Mount Sinai as well, and the golden calf is the evidence from Egypt.

Every line of Paul's letters comes from this historic context intertwined within the social and pagan influences of his day and as you will see, this is still a clear and present even today. In many ways, life in first-century was not very different from our modern world, yet most traditional interpretations of Paul's letters ignore this allowing only a dim view of their foundation in Biblical reality.

Gentiles did not understand the Jewish Biblical lifestyle in Paul's day, so confusion was commonplace. In many ways this too remains, nothing is new under the Sun.

There were differences though. For starters, in Paul's day there was no separation of religion, government or politics in the Roman Empire's dominance of the first century. Today, our so-called modern western society waves a banner of separation of church and state, but in yesteryear that idea would likely yield a prison sentence. After all, homage to the mythic Greco-Roman gods including the Emperor himself were required of most 'citizens' of the Roman Empire. Until Emperor Theodosius arrived on the scene and prohibited pagan temple sacrifice in 395AD, every Roman Emperor in charge before him assumed the title of "Pontifex Maximus" aka supreme guardian of the Roman cults.

Keep that in perspective as you re-consider Paul's letters.

The pagan Roman temple cults remained front and center in society well over 300 years after Paul penned his letters. Yet, miraculously in Pauls' day, Jews were exempted from many civic cult duties required of its citizens by Roman decree because the Pontifex Maximus refrained their "yoke of bondage" on people they considered as conquered and defeated. Perhaps in a form of discrimination they considered the Jews unworthy of their gods, yet despite their intention God used this for their survival.

In chapter 5:1-4 of the letter delivered to Galatia (now modern-day Turkey), Paul wrote some difficult words for those Gentiles who had formerly been "estranged from Messiah." He sent the letter because they were falling under a "yoke of bondage" of tradition not from the Roman cults but as a misguided duty of obligation for conversion to faith imposed by certain customs that began after the Jewish exile to Babylon.

Paul understood the "yoke of bondage" lesson from Egypt that bondage can arise out of precepts of authority, power and control, not the first rule of a love-filled heart of mercy and grace that is the focus of Y-H-V-H has transcended human understanding from the beginning.

Paul knew God's heart of lovingkindness and forgiveness was promised Adam and Eve and witnessed firsthand by Moses when he was called up again to the top of the mountain to deliver the renewed covenant after the first two tablets were shattered in the dust at the sight of idolatry from the sin of spiritual adultery and idol worship at the foot of Mount Sinai.

Take note, because the first covenant was broken...
Redemption requires two trips!

The willful choice of the graven image sin of adultery with the golden calf broke the promise of the people who said: "we will do all that God has spoken." They broke their word, their oath and promise to Almighty God, so redemption required two trips down the mountain of God then and it will again:

"So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord." Exodus 19:7-8 

The breaking of the first Horeb covenant was shown as the ten words Elohim God had written with His finger were shattered against the Earth when Moses threw the first two tablets down to the ground. Yet, instead of vengeance and destruction, God called Moses back up the mountain to wait and receive the covenant again with God's lovingkindness and forgiveness revealed.

Redemption required two trips for Israel as well as the aliens and sojourners with them. 

This gospel (good news) reflects the truth of God's character of grace that is plainly described for the world to see and believe in Exodus 34:6-7 after the promise of the people was broken.  The Almighty Lord God still speaks above today revealing His everlasting lovingkindness and forgiveness for iniquity, transgression and sin:

“The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin..."

This truth is why Paul wrote against a stony belief of justification before God by deeds and man's doctrines of conversion by circumcision rather than God's relationship in lovingkindness and forgiveness, a truth revealed at the top of Sinai.

Paul is teaching we too are to reflect God's lovingkindness and truth first and foremost. Paul called man's religious attempt at conversion by deeds and works as a doctrine of justification and a yoke of bondage (of men). Paul understood the simple warning declared in Isaiah 2:22:

Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils;
For why should he be esteemed?

In his rabbinic style of Biblical teaching, Paul taught of God's forgiveness of sin and eternal love. Paul learned this after he came to understand that the Torah was given as a guide for life after salvation and that men's traditions and customs that add to it as a to-do list to check off for salvation, or conversion by merit is simply not a part of the grace of the Sinai story or any other from the beginning of Scripture.

As the "One" that gives the breath of life to dust that is cursed, Almighty God forgives for His reasons, after all His mercy and His lovingkindness governs the universe.

Long ago, Israel and the sojourners with them could do nothing to merit that second trip by Moses down from the top of the mountain with the renewed covenant. The same is still true today. The thing the assembly did then was break their promise and grievously sin right in front of the mountain of glory by their golden calf iniquity of idolatry, but God's mercy ruled.

To one whose eyes and ears are not focused upward on God's personal narrative about His character with a keen perspective of the truth given to the Galatians, Paul's letter can sound like a warning against walking in the way of Torah and a once and for all condemnation of circumcision.

That is fake news.

As we have seen, to understand this, we have to dig into the religious opinion that Paul had before he met Yeshua if we are ever to believe his message in its proper context.

If you teach a requirement of faith mandates that you must first become circumcised to be in good standing with God as a proselyte, Paul is saying you take on a debt of bondage that cannot be paid because as God declared in Genesis, a redeemer is required.

Simply put, if you sin, then go through circumcision, then sin again, then what... get a bigger knife?

Paul's rabbinic message is that good standing by earning merit by anyone who claims to be justified in conversion by circumcision will eventually end up in spiritual bondage, without the Redeemer.

Paul is teaching this because the Torah reveals God's mercy and The Lord's impeccable character of lovingkindness and forgiveness, not our feeble deeds or works. After all, everyone has sinned in the past and we will do so again. We are all human, stumbling along the way until the final redemption from sin is fully revealed.

Not only that, Paul’s seemingly hidden message in the Galatian letter is that Paul understood circumcision was never a Torah requirement "before" friendship with God, it came after. Paul knew...

Circumcision was never a requirement to walk with God.

Paul knew it was an act of humble obedience, that The Torah plainly declares Abram was God's friend and that he sojourned under The Lord's direction for many years - long before he was circumcised at age 99 only after his relationship with Hagar (see Genesis 17:25-26 and Romans 4:11-16 for the proof text).

By looking back to Abram we can see that Paul's teaching is integrated with the Torah and laser focused on God's lovingkindness and friendship. Paul's central point is that legalism by religious conversion is a form of bondage, a religious power-play if you will that attempts to re-order God's teaching and instruction with men's opinions that add to or take away from the order of the Word of The Almighty.

In Paul's day, a doctrine of conversion requiring circumcision was esteemed by a religious group he labeled as "the party of the circumcision" (see Galatians 2:12). This was his code word for legalism i.e. salvation and justification by works instead of the work of a Redeemer.

Paul knew whether Jew or Gentile, every man, woman and child ultimately fails to keep God's instruction perfectly, so there is no merit to be earned by one's effort to 'keep' the law but that the Law is good. It is good because it too is an act of lovingkindness, one in which we get to show The Father we love Him.

Paul understood the lesson of Genesis, of Abraham and the golden calf and that's what his letter is about. Genesis 3:15 provides the promise that God would send a suffering Savior that would keep all of the law.

Those who lived in the past before Yeshua looked forward in faith to the coming Messiah. Those who have lived since have been able to look back in faith on the life, death and resurrection of Messiah.

As humans, we will all fall short in one way or another despite our best intentions. Paul knew the requirement for God's forgiveness cannot be earned by our own merit, but rather: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

By the way, these words that Paul uses in Romans 10:13 are not his own teaching, they are borrowed from a prophet of old, see Joel 2:32 for the truth on this. The letter to the Galatians addresses the fact that there is only one way of salvation. Throughout time, the Bible shows us people have tried to pervert the grace by adding religious deeds to it, requiring things to be done to “earn” salvation. But the Bible’s clear message is that the way of salvation has always been in faith.

Paul also knew that Almighty God declared circumcision a covenant 'sign' for Abraham and his descendants to receive the land, yet he also realized circumcision was not the reason for the 'promise' given to Abraham many years earlier. Paul understood this was the pattern and order declared in the Torah for the families of Israel as well as the strangers and sojourners with them that were 'saved out' of Egypt as they followed the glory shekinah pillar of fire through the wilderness and called on the name of the Lord 1,500 years earlier.

Paul understood that the descendants of those that were saved out of Egypt's oppression and received forgiveness after the golden calf were like Abraham. They were not circumcised until 40 years later at the end of their journey at Gibeath-haaraloth (check it out, read Joshua 5:2-3), yet like Abraham they received God's covenant and they walked with God as He tabernacled with their uncircumcision.

The truth is they all were under God's Shekinah glory cloud and were saved uncircumcised until it was time to enter the land God promised Abraham. They were circumcised only before they entered into the land and there's a reason: God said it was the covenant sign. The people of Israel and the sojourners with them could walk with God just as Abraham did, uncircumcised until it was time.

Paul never turned his back on this heritage, the covenant sign or the Jewish people, he always remained Sha'ûl of Tarsus a Jew and a Pharisee. He proudly declared this fact many years after his Damascus road encounter, read Acts 21:39 and Romans 3:1-2:

"Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar, as it is written,

Paul opposed his past religious prejudice and customs that used the Torah as a religious weapon that carried a separation from grace view. He may have once been a part of "the party of the circumcision" that did not understand that not only Israel but Abraham had relationship and walked with God uncircumcised.

Paul also understood God's lovingkindness to lead Israel in this way was revealed by Moses' return to the mountaintop for a second time after the national sin of golden calf idol worship.

Paul knew Moses was called to return to God and back to Israel with an assignment to bring The Father's renewed covenant and a message of lovingkindness and forgiveness down to the multitudes of people redeemed by God's love and compassion, not circumcision.

Paul came to realize the descendants of Israel and the aliens and sojourners with them that chose to come out of Egypt with Moses in the lead were saved and forgiven by nothing they could do to seek righteousness after they broke God's ten-word covenant. Paul realized the way to the Kingdom and the message from the mountain is by walking in God's majesty of mercyand truth found in His lovingkindness.

If we look closely, we too can hear the heart of God's message recorded by Moses is mercy, lovingkindness and that truth is found in Pauls' letters. It is this seemingly hidden message within Paul's Galatian letter that is his testimony to Felix the Governor in Acts 24 as he bears a second witness to the words of the Prophets and Moses:

"It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you go in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God drives them out from before you, and that He may fulfill the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Deuteronomy 9:5
"But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets..." Acts 24:14

Paul's admonition to the Galatians is that without a mercy-filled circumcised heart, one can become a slave to a religion of self-imposed legalism seeking justification with a misguided goal to 'earn' merit with God. Paul teaches the big time warning from Moses: "It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart..."

Purposefully choosing to set aside God's words and replace them with requirements of men's religious legalism can separate people from the truth of God's life-giving lovingkindness, compassion and Messiah Redeemer. Paul's letters reverberate that message woven in the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings.

Paul's letters repeat the message of what The Lord requires from the prophet Micah:

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8  

That is "the way" the path of a humble walk with God.

And as we've seen, when we dig in deep, we can see Paul never said he was converted to a new religion. He didn’t believe Messiah Yeshua of Nazareth ever stopped being Jewish and Paul never did as well. He never promoted anti-Semitism as some Jews have been misled to believe by misinformed sermons from a pulpit of dispensational replacement theology.

Paul never turned against God’s assignment for Israel to teach others about Him either.

That's is why his letters focused on lovingkindness. This Jewish apostle understood Israel's assignment to be a light in darkness, a nation of priests and prophets teaching Torah to a Gentile idol-worshipping planet. He understood one goal of the Torah is to shed a loving light to guide the nations. He also knew God’s intent has always been for Israel to be a distinct people, a nation set apart to point the nations to walk with God and toward His provision as their Redeemer and Savior.

Paul never taught that "the way" was separate from the assembly of Israel. He taught that Yeshua was the Messiah of 'all' Israel that seek to follow in "the way" of the Holy 'One" on earth as it is in heaven. If you doubt this read Romans.

He also taught the promise that all Israel will be saved, never replaced.

"And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: ‘The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’" Romans 11:26-27

Any other view, wears Scriptural blinders like those of Barnabas who years later taught a radically anti-Jewish attitude. Barnabas was another so-called church 'father' who sustained an ongoing attack on Jews and the Torah. He opposed animal sacrifice, the Temple and the altar. Barnabas held that these were God's mistakes including the dietary instruction for healthy living and long life declared by Almighty God in Leviticus.

Barnabas was only a father of Biblically blind people still teaching a replacement theology that Christians are the only intended heirs of God's covenants.

Paul knew firsthand that blindness like that which Barnabas taught can be temporary if we just open our eyes to the bright light of God's forgiveness and see Messiah. We don't have to be on a road to Damascus to do that, He's in The Torah, the Prophets and the Writings. Acts 9 reveals Paul was healed of his own physical and spiritual blindness to the mountaintop purpose of Torah to reveal God's character in the truth and spirit of mercy and lovingkindness.

We too can be healed of our blindness.

After he 'saw the light' Paul never intended any of his teachings to encourage people to turn their back on the Jewish people nor God's Kingdom constitution, the instruction manual upheld in esteem by Jewish people since Sinai.

Paul brings this to unquestionable focus in his letter to the Romans. Go ahead and reread Romans 3:20; Romans 3:31; Romans 6:15; Romans 7:7, Romans 7:12 and Romans 11:26-27 for yourself.

Like the wise words to the Romans, every other letter aligns Paul's esteem and knowledge of the Torah with a focus on forgiveness by God's kindness and mercy recorded by Moses. Paul understood that what God had commanded was impossible without the gift of mercy and that repentance was essential for forgiveness and the coming of the Redeemer Messiah.

Paul's word to the Galatians about God's weightiest instruction against sin provides further proof of this Jewish Pharisee's focus on the heart of Torah:

For the whole law [Torah] is fulfilled [performed] in one word [saying]:
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

As usual, Paul did not come up with this summary by the way... it's direct from God's mouth and recorded by Moses in Leviticus 19:17-18:

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD."

Take the time to consider the heart of this divine Torah truth. Call it law if you insist, but doing so can take away from God's word because the Torah is so much more than that. The Torah is God's teaching and instruction and it reveals God's character bound in love. This hidden message embedded in each of Paul's letters seems difficult to understand as he wove the highest teaching of the Torah truth of God into the hearts of people living in a mixture of decadent pagan society and unbelieving religion and opinion that strayed away from God's heart. Sound familiar?

The teaching and instruction of God defines sin as the thoughts and actions that oppose loving God and others and Paul reiterates this in Galatians 5:18-21 even declaring the inheritance of an anti-Torah lifestyle:

“Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” 

It is time to take a prolonged look at the Galatian letter and reconsider the ancient culture of the polytheistic Roman Empire where idol worship and sexual perversion prevailed front and center as the norm of the day.  Come to think of it, what goes around comes around.

If we just look we will also find "religious" conflicts that remain with us whether Christian or Jew, and that fact will shed some new light on the letter to the Galatians. Today, some of these conflicts include religious rules, interpretations, customs, traditions, sects and denominations that have evolved over time and in some aspects define a religion of men, not Almighty God.

So, we must ask again... does the letter to the Galatians deal with the words of the Torah being questioned or does the letter reveal a deep concern about a mindset of hypocrisy that can develop out of extra-Biblical justification by tradition based on religious opinions and interpretation?

As history shows, many Jewish oral laws began in antiquity during the diaspora of the southern tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi in Babylon when the exiles there established "Talmudic" academies while under the captivity of Nebuchadnezzar after his armies attacked Jerusalem in 586 BC and destroyed the Temple. By the time Paul arrived on the scene in Jerusalem around 30AD, Jewish life had three primary religious opinions portrayed in the sects of the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes. The Essenes are not directly seen in the Gospels, Acts or Paul's letters because they had abandoned Jerusalem for communal life in Qumran. You might say they were missing in action.

During the 70 years of exile in Babylon, certain traditions arose from rabbinic debates and interpretations that were ultimately documented in the Talmud some 2,000 years later around the 5th century although parts and portions were assembled earlier. The Talmud and other rabbinic literature records those opinions on the rule of traditional observances that the forefathers of the Jewish sages began to develop in exile to Babylon. This eventually led to the emergence of a form if you will of Judaism in the 1st century by Yohanan ben Zakkai (Rabban), the first Jewish man given the title of rabbi in the Mishnah. Later, in the 2nd century, rabbinic customs and traditions were passed on in the teachings of his predecessors by men like Akiba ben Yosef (Rabbi Akiva).

The thing is no matter how much good will or intent, the idea of a set of oral laws or observances coming from the opinions of men can be by definition contested.

For example, Gamaliel's son Gamaliel II disagreed with Rabbi Akiva on customs of oral law according to the Talmud. One example of disagreement was on the number of prayers to be said after a meal.

According to the Jewish historian Josephus:

"What I would now explain is this, that the Pharisees have delivered to the people a great many observances by succession from their fathers, which are not written in the laws of Moses; and for that reason it is that the Sadducees reject them, and say that we are to esteem those observances to be obligatory which are in the written word, but are not to observe what are derived from the tradition of our forefathers." Antiquities of the Jews Book 13 Chapter 10.6

If you are a "member" of a denomination today, does the idea of religious debate sound familiar?

Many traditional observances were expanded and moved into written form after the second Temple destruction by Rome's Titus and his Legion of recruits in 70 AD. In the beginning, they were influenced by two leading schools of Jewish oral law teaching, the school of Hillel and the often opposing views of the House of Shammai during Paul's time. As we have seen, both schools taught and expounded on opinions that had originated in the absence of the Temple services some 500 years earlier and as recorded in Jewish history there was always opposition and debate. The reason for the debate - they were in was based on opinion, after all men debate.

According the Jewish Encyclopedia there were: "Three hundred and sixteen controversies between these two schools that are preserved in the pages of the Talmud..."

The "house" of study or yeshiva that molded Paul's way of thinking and trained him in his advanced knowledge of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings was in Jerusalem under the tutelage of Gamaliel the Elder  (see Acts 5:34-39 and Acts 22:3). Gamaliel was a Pharisee like Paul and a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest court of the great council of Jerusalem. Gamaliel was the grandson of Hillel the Elder and his's family line connects to Shlomo Yitzchaki (aka Rashi) several generations later.

After his "Damascus Road" encounter and with much study re-examining Scripture with an eye only on Messiah and God's character revealed at Mount Sinai in Arabia. Paul came to realize that he had let traditional religious opinion and debate lead him on to the dark road of prejudice and away from the Biblical teaching of his Jewish mentor Gamaliel on God's character of mercy and lovingkindness.

To understand why Paul was proud to call himself a Pharisee, we would be well served to consider the sayings of Gamaliel. One of them is recorded in Acts 5:34-39 where Gamaliel warns the high priest and his associates known as "the council" that judged Yeshua against harming the disciples:

"... a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law [Torah], respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 
So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God."

Paul realized he had developed a stony heart embedded in a pretense of virtuous pride aka hypocrisy forgetting what he had learned at the feet of Gamaliel. His eyes were opened on the way to Damascus as he realized his own leavened attitude of discrimination was the same problem that Yeshua challenged:

"Under these circumstances, after so many thousands of people had gathered together that they were stepping on one another, He began saying to His disciples first of all, "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy." Luke 12:1 NASB

A few prideful Pharisees in Paul's day had allowed hypocrisy to lead to judgmental hatred. This was not the majority opinion, yet this rebounded years later when the "church" fathers turned against the Jewish people and all things considered Jewish as the church "fathers" presented Jesus as a Christ not seen in the Bible.

These are all leavened by the Nicolaitans according to Yeshua.

In Paul's day, like today, hypocrisy and pride had puffed some men up to the point that they thought they might achieve righteousness in deed rather than righteousness in mercy and grace shown in God's character. Eventually, this leaven of hypocrisy led the counsel of certain men's hearts into grave darkness as they conspired to kill Yeshua of Nazareth because they rejected Him as Messiah and the prophet Moses spoke of, so they considered Him to be a threat to their rule and status. They opposed those that did not follow in their authority.

Yeshua confronted these people because they had stony hearts standing against the highest teaching of God's Torah, the Prophets and the Writings. Yeshua taught the same justice by mercy and grace that is God's heart and the fountain of life in "the way" of the authority of The Torah of The Father.

This is "the way" the Jew Yeshua taught according to Acts 24:14, that the truth of loving kindness is declared under the authority and compassion of God, not men and their tradition.

Yeshua taught the loving kindness declared by God through the witnesses of Moses, Hosea, Micah, David and Solomon that was the same faith of the majority of Jewish people in the first century. That is why the Jewish "multitudes" followed Him, they knew that earning one's salvation by deed was not the cornerstone of their faith, the promised Redeemer was. They knew what The Lord had shown Moses at the mountaintop and they knew what pleased The LORD according to the Prophets:

"The LORD descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, 
“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” 
And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped. And he said, “If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance.” Exodus 34:5-9 
"For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings." Hosea 6:6  
"Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?" He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? The voice of the LORD cries to the city -- and it is sound wisdom to fear your name: "Hear of the rod and of him who appointed it!" Micah 6:7-9 
"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 

Like the schism of views recounted within the Talmud, the leaders of the Pharisees and Sadducees stumbled arrogantly over the pure Torah teaching of Yeshua and the God-like instruction given in Leviticus 19:18:

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.”

The Pharisees believed in the resurrection promises of Scripture, the Sadducees reincarnation because they were influenced by Greek philosophy and world views. These are deeply opposing views of the afterlife, but in unity both bore grudges and sought revenge as they threw stones of accusation regarding the Torah's instruction on the Sabbath as well. Both held fast to the hedges of religious tradition that arose in exile in Babylon vs the Torah given in the wilderness near The Tabernacle of God.

The Jewish historian Josephus sheds some light on the seemingly veiled conflict seen in Galatians:

"For now I wish only to explain that the Pharisees transmit to the people some rules in line with the fathers, which were not written in the laws of Moses. And because of this, the line of the Sadducees reject these things. They say that it is necessary to hold those rules that have been written but it is not (necessary) to observe what is (only) from the fathers' tradition. And, as a consequence, controversies and great disagreements have occurred between them." Antiquities 12.297

"Now the Sadducees, the second party, deny destiny altogether and place God beyond doing or seeing anything bad. They say that good and bad are dependent on human choice; and one may allow each of these according to one's own decision." Josephus, Jewish War 2.164

Before he set off to Damascus, Paul had sought revenge and authorization to persecute any Jew that professed "the way" of Yeshua and His resurrection and ascension as the Messiah of Israel. According to Acts 8:8, it was Paul that bore a grudge and approved Stephen's stoning and murder in Jerusalem.

One religious opinion Paul likely once held continues on despite the prophecies that oppose it, it is that Yeshua could not be Israel's Messiah because He did not reestablish the Davidic kingdom.

This ongoing opinion ignores many prophecies including Daniel 9:24-26; Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 11:12-13; Psalm 2:7; Psalm 22:16-19 and Isaiah 53. This opinion expected Balaam's final oracle to be fulfilled in their day as shown in Numbers 24:15-25, but they too forgot what Balaam had said about the "latter days" to Balak before his prophecy was given:

"Come, I will let you know what this people will do to your people in the latter days.”

The traditions and views of the Pharisees and Sadducees were much like the many schools of thought today with differing opinions based on the sayings of religious men. A bit like the Pharisees, Sadducees and Zealots of yesterday, today's Reform Jews have separated from Orthodox Judaism while Christianity has fractured into thousands of denominations all with different views.

What goes around comes around. Nothing is new under the sun.

Paul was very concerned about division as he told the Corinthians, who were split by a similar division in opinion. He admonished them for this and he called it worldly. The reason is simple, people first seek the opinions of others as heroes on a pedestal in this world, not the truth of the word of Almighty God from Heaven:

"You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building." 1Corinthians 3:3-9

The denominational cracks in the building built by men known as the "church" began to crumble in replacement theology when medieval Christendom's leadership falsely taught the church replaced the Jewish people as a new covenant people, a spiritual Israel if you will that rejected the Jewish people, the synagogue, the Sabbaths and The Torah.

This foundation is weak and the church sought reform 500 years ago, yet it remains fragmented into many beliefs that have morphed into today's fractured walls of denomination.

As we have seen, long before that, the opinions of unwritten traditions called the oral law of the sages began in the diaspora to Babylon. With the Temple and Altar in ruins, tradition began to take precedence over the written Torah and these traditions were the center of the vortex of Yeshua's conflict with the Pharisees and the Sadducees as He fiercely focused on the heart of Torah because he knew it is the witness of truth, not a denomination or a tradition:

"Take this Book of the Torah, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of The LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you." Deuteronomy 31:26

Yeshua taught that only the precepts of Torah will prevail as a witness, yet the Pharisees, Sadducees and denominations take on matters of debate. They have all added to or taken away the Torah with opinion.

One example was in Yeshua's day. The Pharisees allowed people to eat radishes on the Sabbath, but by tradition you were warned against dipping them into salt because you might leave them in the salt too long and pickle them and this was considered 'work.' The Pharisees also argued it was OK to spit on a rock on the Sabbath, but you could not spit on the ground, because that could make mud and mud was mortar, and that was 'work' according to their sayings.

The one most are familiar with was that you could not help and heal a sick person on the Sabbath because once again that was 'work' according opinion, but perhaps the worse is the saying that The Torah has been done away with.

We all need salvation, we all need a Redeemer from these opinions, the only opinion we need is from God. Deuteronomy 17:10-11 states this:

"Then you shall do according to what they declare to you from that place that the LORD will choose. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they direct you. According to the instructions that they give you, and according to the decision which they pronounce to you, you shall do. You shall not turn aside from the verdict that they declare to you, either to the right hand or to the left."

Writing on this Torah instruction, Rashi the 11th century French rabbi redirected the Bible's instruction given to the Levites to apply to any rabbinic opinion... "Even if he tells you regarding the right that it is left, or regarding the left that it is right, and certainly so if he tells you regarding the right that it is right, and regarding the left that it is left."

In other words, if you are told that your right hand is your left and even if you know that is not correct, it doesn’t matter... do what a rabbi says.

Again, in the end, the opinion that matters is God's.

There is "one" Torah for the native born and the sojourner, not many. As the old saying goes, "there is a big difference between someone who is in authority and someone who is an authority. "

How can we know Paul was referencing men's religious customs without a focus on lovingkindness? Simple, he knew his left from his right and says so when he confronted the issue with Cephas on the matter...

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? Galatians 2:14

Paul was never against Jewish people, he was for them. He was only concerned about certain customs required of a proselyte as described in his Galatian letter. Men will make mistakes, some are light, others are heavy and draw on inflammatory and discriminatory perspectives like those found in church history that endowed many with a false heritage that the Torah was hung on the cross.

This opinion of certain so-called church fathers has caused millions of Jews to be murdered, it has caused forced conversions, Jewish people have been expelled without a home or business and it has caused many Christians to ignorantly continue to err in opinion and identity, but those days are ending for a remnant that sees the truth.

We all need redemption and restoration, both Jew and Gentile. Abba Father loves us all.

We have seen that the teachings of replacement theology that teach one to do away with Torah in a horrific way grew until it culminated in the Holocaust and created a greater stumbling block for the wonderful Jewish people today.

So we must come together now and become aware of God's desire for a relationship in our lives as we grow closer in our friendship and relationship with Him and each other. The Jew we call Jesus is the Master Rabbi that connects us whether we know Him as Messiah or not.

Abraham's servant said:

Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His lovingkindness and His truth toward my master; as for me, the LORD has guided me in the way to the house of my master’s brothers.” 

The truth is the church has done many terrible things resulting in grave persecution and the death of Jewish families over the centuries.

Can you imagine what Paul would say if he were alive today?

Halakhah is not a vast set of rules to be tossed wholly aside nor is every Sunday sermon. After all, a great teaching of Jewish Halakhah is to love one's neighbor. This Jewish perspective on life and society weighs great importance on the proper treatment of others described in the Torah and that is the same message of Yeshua and it is the message woven from the Scriptures.

A great teaching of the rabbinic sages of old is about Mashiach and the Messianic redemption shown throughout the Bible.

Zechariah 12 says that The Lord God will pour out the spirit of grace and supplication, and that He was to be pierced, but who is the He? In the Babylonian Talmud Succa 52a, Yalkut Shimoni says:
"This is Mashiach ben Yoseph, who is to be slain."

Isaiah 53 is a modern point of argument between Christian and Jew, yet the Talmud's commentary on Isaiah 53 found in Sanhedrin 98b says"The Messiah what is his name? Those of the house of Rabbi Yuda the saint say, the sick one, as it is said, 'Surely he had borne our sicknesses." 

The purpose of the instruction found in the Bible is about life in the Kingdom. One instruction is to worship Almighty God, others teach us how to live and love each other and yet another is to reveal Messiah. See Genesis 3:15, Deuteronomy 30:3-5, Numbers 24:17-18, Zechariah 9:10, Obadiah 1:21 and John 5:39-47 for a few examples.

Yeshua is a friend, a Torah teacher, and the Master Rabbi that walked in relationship with His Jewish disciples. During their yeshiva time, they saw Him observe the mitzvot prescribed by the written law while anchoring all of His teaching in God’s highest mountaintop ways.

Jesus explained the Torah's greatest teaching is the instruction to love God first and love one's neighbor in the parable of the good Samaritan. This amazing parable is just one example that Yeshua came first to compel people to walk in the pathway of the Torah and rectify the breach of sin that people choose. He will return to fight the wars of God against evil and death and fulfill the judgment of Yom Kippur. He will build the Temple in its place as a House of Prayer for all nations and He will gather all the dispersed of Israel and the sojourners that will go with them. He will fix a broken world, motivating all nations to serve the One God together and we may all with assurance know Yeshua as Mashiach.

As you've seen now within Paul's letters, he teaches the same precepts of Torah taught by Yeshua (for more examples read: 1Corinthians 7:10-11; 1Corinthians 9:14 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 14:34; 1 Thessalonians11:23-25). Paul's letters are only difficult because they address the same rules Yeshua opposed taught by certain men found in Isaiah 29:13:

“The Lord says: These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.”

In proper context, it is clear Paul was concerned that rules taught by men from religious opinions that are out of order would present a huge stumbling block of religious pride in front of the written Torah and its good news of God's love while tossing compassion behind observance.

Paul also knew firsthand how pride could lead to persecution if God's heart of mercy and grace is missing from the hearts of men. Paul's focus was for all Believers, whether Jew or non-Jew was to faithfully fulfill the Lord’s will to establish His kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven according to the order of Scripture. Paul profoundly understood his own former stony heart:

"For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone; nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus." Galatians 1:11-17 

Paul is not the only Jewish rabbi to write of this issue.

In 1955, another famous Jew, rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel provided the same warning in his book God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism:

"Indeed, the essence of observance has, at times, become encrusted with so many customs and conventions that the jewel was lost in the setting. Outward compliance with externalities of the law took the place of the engagement of the whole person to the living God."

In each of his letters, Paul is preaching the same sermon as Rabbi Heschel and calling for love and respect as the place for engagement for all people especially in the Jewish witness of Messiah Yeshua to the Gentiles (non-Jews). Paul had experienced his own encrusted religious customs that divided people in religion, that persecuted others and did not fulfill the goal of Torah.

After meeting with Messiah Yeshua on the road to Damascus, Paul came to realize both Jew and Gentile were created in the image of God and that Yeshua gave His life as a ransom for the salvation of all people and all nations with no precondition based on tradition not inscribed in God's heart of mercy and lovingkindness shown atop Mount Sinai.

If you require more context on the cultural and historic issues at hand, there's something you may have never considered as you've read the letters of Paul. Rome's food markets as well as those in Galatia, Corinth, Thessalonica, Colossia, Philippi and Ephesus were all run by Gentiles and most of them sacrificed sheep and cattle to the many mythic false-gods that they worshipped before they sold them in street markets.

You may not know it, but remnants of false-god worship remain in plain sight today as we retain the names of our planets and their moons from these false Greco-Roman idols:
  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Mars 
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • Neptune
  • Pluto
Even the Moon has a lunar problem today, it is taken the name of another fake deity Luna, the Roman goddess of the Moon. Perhaps only the Earth's name remains unpolluted, it derives its name from the first verse in Scripture, it is the Hebrew word, erets אֶרֶץ.

The heavens above with our solar system's amazing planets are not the only remnant of Paul's Greco-Roman world. Most of the 12 months of the year come remain from idol worship and so-called Greek gods. January is named for Janus, March is named after the god Mars, April for Aphrodite, June for Juno and the list goes on.

In Rome's ancient pagan culture, the Caesars were considered gods too, this is known as the 'imperial cult' and it too continues to pollute our traditional calendar every day. For example, July is named for Julius Caesar and August for Augustus Caesar. Week days are named after Norse idol-gods and even Saturday retains the name of the Rome false-god Saturn, aka Saturn's day and of course there's the big one, Sun-day.

First the Babylonians, then the Egyptians, Greeks and the Romans all cults worshiped the Sun opposing Moses in Deuteronomy 4:19 and it began in Babylon, the mother of harlots and of abominations. Since then solar deities and sun worship can be found throughout recorded history.

In Paul's day, the Greek Sun-god was called Helios and the Roman religious cults worshipped Sol Invictus. The Sun-gods had different names but they were the same as different people groups worshipped the Sun and used the planets as a foundation for polluting God's purpose while disguising His plan for redemption shown in the Feasts of The Lord.

Even the Jewish calendar contains names from Babylon and the evidence is found in the Jerusalem Talmud. The reason is due to the fact that while many Jews returned to Judaea and Jerusalem when the 70-year Babylonian exile came to an end, many chose not to return as opinions and perspectives like multiplied fenced-cities of rabbinic oral law began to take form and precedence and these traditions that made their way into Paul's letter to the Galatians.

It can be disturbing that a remnant of false-idols still describe time on this planet, but they do not govern it. What a crazy scenario if you just stop and think about it for a minute. God's perfect creation timepiece, the solar system has been branded with idols disguising the creation calendar that Almighty God designed to point us toward The Feasts of The Lord on His appointment schedule.

Greco-Roman timekeeping from Babylon has caused many to not only lose track of time, and it has also led to an identity crisis for Jews and non-Jews thinking God's Feasts are only for the Jewish people despite Moses promise: "in the latter days you will return to the LORD your God and listen to His voice. For the LORD your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them."

Most of the world celebrates the new year on January 1st. January is named for Janus, the Roman myth-god of beginnings, gates, transition, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings, but even this is a remnant tradition from Babylon. According to our Creator, the Biblical new year begins on the first day of the first month as God declared in Exodus 12:2. And that ‘first month’ is the month of Passover and Unleavened Bread in the Spring, and since that time, the new moon has marked the beginning of each month.


You may think that Greco-Roman false-gods and goddesses birthed out the pagan minds deceived by ignorance, astrology and the divination of Babylon do not mean much anymore and that their lucky charms, the idols of wood and stone are long gone, but think again... Ancient eclectic, polytheistic cult idols based on debauchery, licentious sex, moral chaos and philosophy have not vanished, they have morphed and shape-shifted into other forms depending on location and culture as they remain.

Yet, the unchanging calendar of the Bible still governs to our modern contemporary world wheter we know it or not. It has everything to do with your future and God's time keeping for redemption, the ge'ullah.

It's time to reset your clock and your heart.

Just when you thought idols were a thing of the past we have to realize, without knowing it; people worship other idols like money. I know, I once did and its pretty bizarre when you think about it, but God warns that idols are not real, and neither is money these days. Money is no longer denominated by gold, silver or copper, its modern reality is that it is not real. Money is just a few electronic digits, a row of electrons called a credit or debit on a bank account and an investment is simply an electronic accumulation of ticker symbols on a stock market sitting on a computer.

They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. Hosea 8:4

The modern idol list goes on in many other forms. Just like the ancient Greek culture sports teams, heroes and sports idols dominate our modern week-end psyche. You may have never thought about it, but what's up with all the sports mascots?

Not to bore you, but Merriam Webster defines a mascot as: "a person, animal, or object adopted by a group as a symbolic figure especially to bring them good luck." Synonyms include amulet, charm and related words are toadstone; emblem, symbol, token and totem. The Random House Dictionary says the origin of "mascot" is French: "mascotte meaning talisman, charm, derivative of masco sorceress."

Man oh man, that sounds so strange doesn't it?

Now, its time to leave the charm of modern Rome and our Greek sport's arenas and get back to the letter of Paul written to the Galatians and us.

The letter writer had a goal.

He wanted to help people prioritize the weight of God's character. If you look at the Ten Commandments, the first four point to our first priority which is to love God with all of our heart, mind and soul.  The second stone tablet is not disconnected, it is outlined in the commands which in summary say love your neighbor as yourself.

These two principles of covenant are the jewels, the foundation stones of all of Torah.

If we look closely at his letters in proper context, we can see that Paul is addressing this issue of relationship priority declared in the Ten Words, aka the Ten Commandments. Paul shows us that passing judgment on others by not loving a neighbor opposes the greatest commands of the Torah to love God first and to love others. Judgment has divided both Jew and Gentile for centuries, whether then or now and God will be the judge on this.

As a Pharisee, Paul understood this more than most, he knew his temporary blindness was in his prejudice and pride. He opened his eyes and learned judging others distances oneself from the very heart of the Father and the promise of Messiah. He returned to study God's word at Mount Sinai and learned the priority in everyday relationship is to love our neighbor and not bear a grudge. He knew forgiveness too because his own religious views had once led to grudges, vengeance, imprisonment and eventually death for people like the Jewish disciple Stephen, yet he was forgiven. He knew this because he was given an assignment.

How did Paul, the lifelong oral tradition student learn to know the heart of Abba Father for the sojourner? Just re-read the Torah words of Leviticus 19:15-18, Deuteronomy 9:6 and Deuteronomy 10:19 with its focus on loving your neighbor, they are the same words Paul wrote of:

'You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbor fairly. 'You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the LORD. 'You shall not hate your fellow countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.  'You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:15-18 NASB 
“Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people." 
"Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. "

Paul knew his own past stubborn sin against people and because of that he was also concerned for the weak in faith, those "new" to true faith that were still heavily influenced by Roman and Greek lifestyle and a pagan idol-infested mindset:
"Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions." Romans 14:1
In his letter to the Romans, Paul also notes certain Jewish believers in Rome refused to eat meat for fear that it was defiled by idol worship and many became vegetarian because it eliminated the possibility of association with idol sacrifice.  Yet, the issues at hand were beyond food and custom that disallowed meat to be consumed that was butchered and sold by Gentiles because they were considered idolaters.

Imagine yourself as an observant Jew, trying to keep the traditions of your fathers in ancient Rome and you might understand Paul's concern was that religious division could hinder relationships and sharing the message of the good news of the Kingdom of God with the Gentiles.

Imagine yourself too as a former pagan saved by grace, yet now arrogant and against the Torah.

Paul was concerned that the Yeshua-believers could stumble like I have done, but now I realize the Torah, especially the set apart Sabbath Days and Feasts are gifts, days I get to celebrate and participate in as best I can because I love God.

This is the culture context of the letters
that is misunderstood.

As we have seen, another perspective on Paul can be understood if we dig deeper into the conflict of the two leading religious sects in his day, the division between the Sadducees and the Pharisees.

Did you know that those called Sadducees rejected the oral Torah that had developed over generations which the Pharisees claimed was passed down by oral law from the days of Moses? The Sadducees placed emphasis on the Psalm:

It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man. Psalm 118:8

The Sadducees insisted on a strict, literal interpretation of the written Torah just as Karaite Judaism does today rejecting extra Biblical traditions in conflict with the lifestyle of Orthodox Judaism with a focus on oral tradition.

The Sadducees sought to follow the written Torah, yet incredibly they stubbornly rejected the hope of resurrection that is shown in the Torah, Prophets and Writings.

These include all the Biblical truth that points to resurrection as shown when the prophet Elijah prayed and God raised a young boy from death in 1Kings 17:17-24); or the story when Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite woman in 2Kings 4:32-37 and the story of a dead man's body that was thrown into Elisha's tomb that was resurrected when his body touched Elisha's bones as described in 2 Kings 13:21.

Resurrection was a great divide then, and there is more to the story.

Many traditions advocated by the Pharisees were in opposition to the Sadducees who opposed observances not found in the Torah and both conflicts are described among these sects throughout the Newer Testament. You can read about this in Matthew 16:6, Matthew 16:12, Matthew 22:23 and Act 23:7-8 for yourself. Not only did the Sadducees not see eye to eye with the Pharisees, others disagreed with each another over polarized interpretations and deeply divided opinions between the Jewish sages of the day, Hillel and Shammai. Josephus touches on this:

"Our rabbis taught: 

It happened that a certain foreigner came to Shammai and said to him: "How many Torahs are there for you?"

He told him: "Two! A written Torah and an oral Torah." 

He said to him: "I will trust you on the written but I will not trust you on the oral. I will be a proselyte providing you teach me (only) the written Torah." 

Shammai)rebuked him and drove him out in anger."
Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 31a

After the Temple was destroyed the first time, Pharisaic opinion continued down the path toward rabbinic Judaism rooted in oral tradition. After it was destroyed the second time, the opinion of the church fathers eroded the faith and turned against the Jewish people.

When tradition and opinion are added to the Bible's core teaching on God's character of mercy and lovingkindness, we have seen that Paul was concerned they can lead to impairing our love for a neighbor, so Paul wrote that those "opinions" should be examined. That is the context of Paul's letter to those in the synagogue of Rome, i.e., if you do not observe God's law based on Biblical truth focused on the "mercy" seat, then you keep a tradition of men that has no merit in salvation.

Paul brings the division from religious opinion to focus when he describes the divide of Sadducee and Pharisee over resurrection in Acts 23:6-8:
"But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men [and] brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question. And when he had so said, there arose a dissension between the Pharisees and the Sadducees: and the multitude was divided. For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both."
Have you ever considered that when writing of "days" in his letter to those in Rome, Paul was likely not speaking of the weekly Sabbath or the Feast Days of The Lord?

That will fly in the face of what you have been taught or thought, but we should know the Lord's "holy" set apart days are always described in Scripture with a connection to their names given by God.

The same is true of the Newer Testament. Names such as Feast or Passover, Unleavened Bread and all of His other appointed Sabbath days are used, they are never referenced simply as days. In reverence, Paul's letters give reference to The Lord's set-apart holy days. For example:

And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures Acts 17:2 
And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. Acts 20:6
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days] Colossians 2:16

Not only that, but if we just look at the context of hedonistic history and pagan culture in the Greco-Roman Empire, we must realize that there was a long standing debate between the Biblical calendar and Roman time keeping. Without question, days were debated, so much so the Roman calendar changed several times in the window of time between the foundation of Rome and the fall of the Roman Empire.

Compounding this issue, we must also remember each day of the Roman week was dedicated to their false-gods of the seven visible planets in our solar system. This and other aspects of the Roman calendar are hidden in plain sight to us today. That is the 'day' issue Paul wrote of as Rome's calendar and seven-day work-week conflicted with the keeping of the Sabbath and the Feast Days of The Lord.

If you are not familiar with Rome's debate over 'days' think again and consider history and the debates of time, and ask why did our planet convert to the Julian calendar?

In Rome, not only was there an ongoing debate on what day or year it was, in Rome's culture each 'day' had a 'character' of its own, which was noted in the Roman "fasti." The fasti or the "Six Books of the Calendar" was a Latin poem published by Ovid in 8 AD that explained the origins of Roman holidays and associated the customs for each day supposedly put forth by their false idol-gods. The most important of these superstitions were the days denoted as 'dies fasti' marking days when legal matters had to be heard in court and 'dies nefasti' when they could not. Not only that, there was 'dies comitiales' when public assemblies known as 'comitia' were permitted.

Can you imagine trying to honor God's word and assemble for a Biblical Feast Day like Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost) or Sukkot (Tabernacles) on a day in Rome that was not marked on the fasti calendar that would not allow a day of rest and a Biblically ordained assembly?

Consider too, Paul may have been referencing differing Jewish opinions on the timing of the day counting up to the festival of Pentecost aka Shavuot. That is a debate which existed between the Pharisees and the Sadducees over the meaning of the Sabbath noted in Leviticus 23:15-16. Believe it or not, that debate remains. The question is: do we count after the weekly Sabbath or only after the High Sabbath Day of the first day of Unleavened Bread to start the 50 day count?

There is a similar debate as to the Jubilee Year count. The Jubilee the 50th year, but is it also included as the first year in the counting for the next Jubilee or does it stand alone?

Back to the Galatian question about circumcision as a requirement for conversion... some people preached that unless Gentiles were circumcised they cannot become "a people for God's name" (see Acts 15:14:18). By the way, keep in mind the reference to the name is: The God of Israel."

James went on to paraphrase Amos and quoted Amos 9:11 which is a verse from the prophet about the restoration of Israel and he referenced Hosea, Jeremiah 3:17-23, Isaiah 25:3 and Psalm 106:47.

At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all Gentiles shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD... 
Therefore a strong people will glorify You; Cities of ruthless Gentiles will revere You. 
Save us, O LORD our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks to your holy name, and to triumph in your praise.

James reverberated the words of king David:

Sing to the LORD, all the earth; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the Gentiles, His wonders among all peoples. 1 Chronicles 16:1:23-24

The old circumcision argument was raised by the Pharisees in Acts 15. With the help of the proper context, we can better understand the reason the Pharisee Paul went to Jerusalem to meet with the disciples regarded the issue of whether circumcision was required for proselytes. Together, they discussed the Scriptures.

Notice, they had no need to mention not to 
blaspheme God's name, make idols or worship them, 
honor the Sabbath, steal, lie, honor parents, 
or wrongfully covet other's wife or property.

Something has been lost in translation because a careful reading of Acts 15 reveals they did not say that a person coming into the faith without circumcision should not be circumcised. If they did, we must know Paul was lying when he wrote Romans 3:1-12 "Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect." Did he break "the rules" in the very next chapter by circumcising Timothy and preaching the decrees of Torah are to keep as shown in Acts 16.

Not only that, but Timotheus (aka Timothy) was the son of a Jewess, but his father was Gentile, a Greek so Timothy was not circumcised until he met Paul. Perhaps he was around 20, a young man that just left his childhood home when:

"And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem." Acts 16:4

Acts 15 provides a solid foundation priority that the group agreed that Gentiles coming into faith from paganism should stop doing immediately. After all, they were coming out of Greco-Roman infused blood drinking X-Rated idol worship:

"...abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well." Acts 15:29

These four simple guideposts against pagan worship and lifestyle was never intended to be the sum of the ways of Torah to be learned because the apostles knew that God's ways would certainly be learned each Sabbath in the weekly synagogue teachings as the Hebrew Scriptures would be read and taught.

How do we know? They said so:

"For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” Acts 15:21

In Pauls' day, the way to learn Scripture was in the public readings on the weekly Sabbath. The disciples understood because that is how they learned the Scriptures since childhood, it was as simple as eating bread for them, you did it to sustain life firm in faith and live an upright life.

Common people did not own a family Bible, there were no printing presses for another 1,600 years. So, the Jewish men that met in Jerusalem set a solid priority on Torah basics for those Gentiles formerly participating in hedonistic pagan worship that required 1) sacrifice to idols, 2) eating raw meat or blood and 3) illicit sexual immorality in dedication to their false-gods and goddesses.

These Jewish men agreed to four basic priorities because just as Acts 15:21 they knew the balance of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings would be read and taught every Sabbath and they tealized the words of 2Chronicles 7:14 were real and included Gentiles:

"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...

After all, the disciples had learned in the end Believers must act as the King acts, walk as the King walks, and talk as the King talks. The disciples knew this would happen when the Scriptures are read, studied and experienced as God's instruction manual for life in the Kingdom. It was a part of the restoration of the fallen tabernacle of David. They also knew that even the least of the commandments would not be set aside in the synagogue, after all it was a great teaching of Yeshua:

"Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:19

A question you must ask then is: what on Earth happened, if this was the way of the disciples of Yeshua 2,000 years ago, why does the mainstream "church" today not read and teach the Torah and meet on every Sabbath acting as the King acts, walking as the King walks, and talking as the King talks?

Stop and think about that, study history... and you will find the answer.

Paul's ministry to the nations (aka the Gentiles) was about life in Messiah Yeshua walk and learning about a new lifestyle within the highest teaching of Torah takes time. If the four guidelines of Acts 15 were the only rules for righteous living for "the church" why do we still have the Ten Commandments, why don't we condone murder, lying, adultery and idolatry?

Paul was an expert in the Torah, not only that, he knew the teachings of the strictest sect of the Pharisees. 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 into the Jewish context and culture conflicting with the pagan setting of the days of Paul of Tarsus, we might see something, a hidden treasure in the book of Acts that can help us better understand Paul's message to the Galatians:

"... I have lived as a Pharisee."

The Pharisees upheld the Torah and the promise of resurrection and Paul wasn't turning the Galatians against the Biblical instruction of circumcision found in the teaching he upheld with Timothy, nor any of God's words recorded by Moses that Yeshua of Nazareth expounded upon with great authority. We can know Paul upheld the Torah in his Messianic faith in the Messiah of Israel because he professed it himself:

"Do we then overthrow the law (Torah) by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law (Torah)." Romans 3:31

Paul was preaching against his own prior prejudice and past of putting tradition above upholding the Torah of God as a Believer in the resurrected Jewish Messiah. Before He met Messiah, he led religious persecution against those that were called "The Way." His new found heart and message was simple, don't exchange the gracious mercy gift of a life-changing relationship with The Father for religious works of Jewish law in a vain attempt to try to earn merit with God and redemption by works of Halakhah of men.

About 70 years ago, a letter was found at Qumran in cave four, it is a part of the Dead Sea scroll collection and catalogued as 4QMMT from the an abbreviation of its Hebrew name, Miqsat Ma`ase ha-Torah aka the "works of the law" recorded by the Essenes.

Image: Library of Congress

According the notes at the Library of Congress the letter expresses some of the sect’s Halakhic views:

"Apparently it consisted of four sections: (1) the opening formula, now lost; (2) a calendar of 364 days; (3) a list of more than twenty rulings in religious law (Halakhot), most of which are peculiar to the sect; and (4) an epilogue that deals with the separation of the sect from the multitude of the people and attempts to persuade the addressee to adopt the sect's legal views."

Martin Abegg is the author of an article entitled "Paul, 'Works of the Law' and MMT." It appeared in the 1994 November-December edition of Biblical Archaeological Review noting:

"In short, ma-ase ha-torah is equivalent to what we know in English from Paul's letters as 'works of the law.' This Dead Sea scroll and Paul use the very same phrase. The connection is emphasized by the fact that this phrase appears nowhere in rabbinic literature of the first and second centuries A.D. -- only in Paul and in MMT."

"The works of the law that the Qumran text refers to are obviously typified by the 20 or so religious precepts (Halakhah) detailed in the body of the text. For the first time we can really understand what Paul is writing about. Here is a document detailing works of the law" (p. 53, BAR, 11-12/94 issue).

The discovery of the Dead Seas Scrolls are a miracle and the MMT fragments clear up one aspect of the a very clouded picture of Paul's letters.

Paul realized that good or religious efforts to achieve righteousness will never earn anyone redemption as he referenced traditions like those recorded by the Essenes.

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." Galatians 2:16 KJV

Salvation's door must be marked by the blood of the Lamb of God, the work of Yeshua, not men.

Many pulpits have mistakenly portrayed Paul as a "former Jew" that turned his back on the Old Testament and started a new religion after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Paul did not start a new religion. Hold on to your pew, but he never went to church on Sunday as many people believe, and he did not turn against Torah the faith of Messiah Yeshua or the Jewish people but he was concerned with certain, not all oral traditions or oral law if you will.

What Paul did was depart from his religious prejudice which he had once given greater weight than the faith, mercy and grace found at the very heart of God's Torah. He realized his prejudice was a dividing wall of hostility.

Like Peter, he learned God holds no hostility, no division or opinion of one person being holier than thou, for all have sinned. He learned salvation for all starts with faith just as Peter learned to not hold prejudice against Gentiles. The letter shows the prejudice of the day noting:

1. Gentile grain should not be brought into the Temple.
2. A fragmentary Halakhah about sacrifices by gentiles.

Both men learned salvation is given by God's grace to all men, whether Jew or Gentile and they learned God is faithful to bless "all nations" as He promised Abraham for their devotion and love returned to Him.

Paul learned this truth after the bright light on the road to Damascus opened his eyes. He learned it from Yeshua who had once said to the Pharisees that had: "...neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done." See Matthew 23:23 and consider Jesus was not speaking to all Pharisees, only those that had put their opinions above the Torah just as Paul had done in persecution.

Paul's concern was that the believers of Galatia were being leavened as he once was. Leavened if you will by a religious prejudice that Paul had been expert at. He like Peter once propped up religious opinions that forbid the men of "circumcision" to associate with one that was not.

Paul was trying to teach the spirit of Torah, the weightier provision of the royal law of faith that is about one growing in God's character of mercy and love, aka circumcision of the heart first.

This love lesson was the same one Peter learned on the rooftop in Joppa before he met with the Roman Centurion Cornelius.

Paul taught his own past bondage to religious persecution was not the written life-giving character of the mercy and grace of the Lawgiver. Something dramatic and heart changing happened on that road to Damascus. Paul met the risen, resurrected Yeshua on the way. He came to know the glory of God on Earth and the light of the world as Paul traveled to wreak havoc and drag off Jewish men and women, committing them to prison if they followed the Jewish Messiah (see Acts 8-9).

Paul's heart was changed, God's covenant was now written on it and he learned that religious works as a means to salvation could lead to religious persecution that is blind to God's goodness and unfailing love through The Father's character revealed atop Mount Sinai to Moses.

Simply put, we cannot merit God's righteousness by what we do, all have sinned. Through his blindness and heart's 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
Paul's heart was circumcised. He came to know El Shaddai's word in the flesh shown to 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

In the record of Acts, Paul provides his own expert witness of this 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 mercy by Caesar. We can understand this if we read and hear 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 once convinced that he should oppose 'salvation' the name of Yeshua by persecuting others. But Jesus of Nazareth showed Paul he was wrong in opposing the mercy of God's love and kicking against the pricks.

Paul realized the humble Yeshua, the "pierced one" came to tear down the "middle wall of separation" that existed between Jew and Gentile. He did not add new bricks, His glory is unity (echad) in the royal law to love God and each other, both Jew and Gentile. Yet the "middle wall of separation" is still seen today, it refers to the Torah inscribed by Moses and the living Torah Yeshua Messiah. Both are symbolized by the wall in the Temple court that separated the court of the Goyim (Gentiles) from the court of Yehudah (the Jews).

After Paul met Yeshua, he realized...

Messiah's purpose, formerly a mystery, is to bring Heaven to earth by reconciling the Gentiles (Goyim) to the Jewish (Yehuda) people as one (echad), one new man in one ancient faith focused on friendship and love with Messiah as King and the Torah path of righteous living, the constitution of His Kingdom for the household of Elohim.

Paul taught the Ephesians this exact storyline of The Kingdom mystery of Messiah that is inclusive for all nations be like Abraham and cross over to love The Father and each other on Earth as it is in Heaven. Everyone whether Jew or non-Jew should seek the anointed King and be spiritually restored, following the instruction and teaching of Scripture as a witness for Messiah. Paul gave this message to the Ephesians:
“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 never spoke against the righteous instructions of the Torah, he never spoke against the faithful Jewish people nor was he teaching against the 1,000 or so commandments found in the Newer Testament that expound on the Torah to reveal the heart of God's lovingkindness and expectation for His children to walk in righteousness.

The disciple John like Paul, taught from Isaiah in total 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 his confession we are all to perform good deeds, i.e. mitzvot of Torah in keeping with our repentance from wrong doing:
“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
Paul's letter combats his former longstanding, un-biblical traditional notion of ignoring God's mercy and grace that had infiltrated the Galatia community, a teaching not found in Torah that to be considered a child of God and proselyte of Israel, you must first become circumcised to be saved. He opposed that religious 'work' as a requirement for any Gentile (un-circumcision) to be eligible to become a bona fide member of the "family" of the God of Israel.

Paul came to know that no person, Jew or Gentile is ever worthy of salvation's righteousness by one's own deeds. Salvation and righteousness before God, is a gift given through repentant faith and belief in the life, death and resurrection of Messiah Yeshua sent by God for the redemption and restoration of mankind to God. Salvation and atonement of sin is based on His worthiness and  blood, not ours, but Paul also knew there is reward in a worthy walk in God's instruction for life.

Paul realized the traditional rules of religion had over time, forgotten that Abraham was God's friend years before he was ever circumcised. He understood the place of Scripture as the guide for life had been usurped by religious traditions and popular opinion that led many to deny the authority of Scripture. In response to these problems the apostle Paul told Timothy, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16). In line with this Paul understood the written manuscripts of the Bible are the inspired Word of God. They stand as the final judge of truth in all areas of life, not men's opinions.

According to Paul, his former religious fury against faithful Jews that followed Yeshua as their Rabbi and Messiah emanated from religious discrimination that he too had once upheld in his own heart as a raging fury that led to imprisonment and even death like Stephen's (see Acts 8:1).

Paul taught that religious tradition added to the Torah as it expelled love and relationship contrary to the teaching of Moses against God's own heart described by The Creator in Exodus 34:5-6.

Look at Paul's own public confession of sin 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."
Now you know: Why the Letter to the Galatians?

In summary, Paul's issue was that religious tradition not found in God's Word can miss the goal of Torah. A tradition that said Gentiles had to first be circumcised in a conversion process to be considered worthy or clean, otherwise they were defiled before God and not worthy. That was the issue. Love was missing because in those days tradition did not allow a Jew to even walk, talk or befriend Gentiles, and just ask Peter, a Jew would certainly never eat with them, after all the food could be unclean or defiled in idol worship dedication.

Paul's focus in the letter zeroes in on a repentant walk of faith that must come first just as Abraham's faith was based on relationship not tradition. As we have seen, Paul professed this 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, [then] performing deeds in keeping with their repentance."

To get an even better grip on the Galatian letter, consider the mixture of differing 'church' traditions embedded in the thousands of denominational doctrines prevalent within the wide spectrum of Christian opinion all with shades of varying attitudes that separate rather than provide unity in the 'body' of Messiah.

As we have seen, a modern version of the conflict in Galatia exists today in plain sight as the root of faith in God is buried in a myriad of opposing traditions and denominational differences never found in Scripture.

Not to pick a bone with anyone in particular but only as an example, consider a doctrine of the one denomination that teaches a person must be baptized in water in order to be saved. This has resulted in heated debate much like the issue of circumcision Paul wrote about to the Galatians. Not only that, like circumcism it poses quite dilemma for one that believes on Yeshua with no opportunity for baptism.

Baptism or mikvah properly follows salvation, but is is not a condition. It is commanded by Yeshua as an outward sign of His authority in heaven and on earth. It represents inward atonement as it symbolizes the death of the old man dead to sin and the new man in resurrection life just as Yeshua baptizes the Believer with the Holy Spirit (see Matthew 3:16, Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33 and Acts 2:38).

If you are a Christian, you've probably heard or may follow one or more doctrines required by men for church "membership," so think long and hard about this: if only a few denominations existed in Paul's day, we would find the New Testament too heavy to carry all the letters of admonition from the Jew of Tarsus for the thousands of denominations that exist today. The weight of those letters would overwhelm the foundation of the Library of Congress.

So, like Paul's day its time to re-examine tradition and line up our denominational dogmas and doctrines up against the straight plumb line of Scripture.

Its time to let go of anything in your life, whether sin, belief or worship that does not align in "the way" of the life and Torah teaching of the anointed one, Yeshua of Nazareth.

If you will just step back for a moment, you will see that denominations separate us much like the Pharisee and Sadducee of Paul's day.

Perhaps the best example is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in the heart of Jerusalem.

The church building there is believed by many to be the site of Jesus' crucifixion and burial. The location was established by Constantine's mother Helena at the end of the 4th century. Yet access to the church in Jerusalem is governed by a Muslim family that literally holds the keys while six denominations with widely varying traditions maintain separate and distinct services there. These include Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, as well as Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox and Ethiopian Tewahedo.

Think about something, which denominational group would Paul choose to 'join' if he were living in Jerusalem today? I know that is a difficult question because the answer should now be obvious.

If we look at differences in denominational dogmas that separate rather than bring people together as "one" in Messiah, the living Torah, we might begin to understand the dilemma of hostility and "the stumbling stones" of opinion that existed in Paul's day. They have not disappeared, and you do not have to travel back in time to understand why the letter to the Galatians. All you really need to do is drive down the street and look around at all the denominations near you or if you have the time and means, simply go to the home base. Visit Jerusalem and go to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Have you ever visited 'different' church denominations or even a synagogue? If not, why not, you shy away because they do not "believe" as you do.

If you will take on the challenge to visit or even seek to join, sooner or later you will likely be asked to undergo denominational doctrine training so that you will be eligible to 'join' as a "member."  Now, step back for a moment and ask: why membership, and why do creeds, confessions and statements of faith vary so widely?

Isn't the Bible the one word of God, isn't the 'church' supposed to be 'one' assembly, the 'whole' body of believers united as one in Messiah in "the way" just as Paul described:
"For as many of you as were baptized into Messiah have put on Messiah.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female; for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.  And if you are Messiah's then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:27-29
Now you know the dilemma of the Galatians!

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 in the walls of separation that are held by the mortar of tradition and doctrine that create division and oppose what Paul describes as "one new man."

Consider the word of The Lord to the prophet Jeremiah:
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord,
    “when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah." 
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel
    after that time,” declares the Lord.
“I will put my law [Torah] in their minds
    and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people."
The key to covenant is the Torah of God and Messiah the living Torah, and the message of forgiveness that is to be first to be woven "in" our hearts has its foundation on God's character of mercy and lovingkindness. The new covenant set inside was foreshadowed by Moses when he set it inside the heart of the Tabernacle after his second trip down the mountain:

"Then I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark which I had made; and there they are, as the LORD commanded me.” Deuteronomy 10:5

Every letter of Paul describes a proper heart relationship with God and each other through Messiah Yeshua.

If you think Paul if difficult to understand, consider religious differences and tradition, they offer a time portal of understanding for you to see the past today. I'll say it again, division, partition and separation from the loving heart of Torah is what Paul was dealing with in Galatia.

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

As noted, we can learn from Peter about this too. He taught what the Torah teaches, but it took a vision from God to show him the truth although he walked with Yeshua. After Peter's eyes were opened, he then wrote of one faith, "a" royal priesthood, "a" holy nation, "a" people, not many. Believe it or not, Peter never taught that you should look around for the "right" church to join because you agree with a denominational doctrine. No, Peter taught of unity in faith and the excellencies of mercy from the Torah established by THE FATHER, recorded by Moses and instructed by Yeshua as receiving mercy:
“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 learn from the words from Peter the Jew named Kepha, the focus of faith, of a royal priesthood is on God's mercy received and it is for you to proclaim the excellencies of Him and be blessed by the same faith promises declared in the Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) that Jesus taught. After all, the promises were given to all Israel AND the aliens and sojourners with them.

They were 'all' called out by God.

Paul and Peter are tow witnesses that came to understand why 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 and prayer is that you do the same whether Jew or Gentile:
"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, you too can search the Scriptures to see what the Father truly wants as you worship Him and love others in mercy and grace. The Torah does not need a religious fence nor a denominational dogma around it and this is Paul's message. God does not need our religious creeds to help Him govern His universe.

The Bible shows us form the beginning to the end that God is first pleased with a repentant heart that desires to walk after Him. This is the same plain faith message of Moses:

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

As we have seen, Abraham is the first witness to Paul's message on circumcision. 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 Almighty 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 many years before God's instruction of circumcision as a sign before Issac was conceived by Sarah.

Paul never taught against God's Word, but the rabbinic way in which he taught is difficult to understand and I pray this has helped you in some way.

Don't forget, he taught Timothy encouraging him to study the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings to be equipped for every good work (mitzvah). Think about it, there was no New Testament in existence 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 for the people in the pew if it teaches against God's instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Paul's teaching about the Torah has been interpreted in many weak ways. That was what Peter siad when he wrote: ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.  It is the crucial factor around which the church has misunderstood its own relationship to the Torah, but that is changing, praise God and that is why you are here.

So, we must search out the Torah hidden within Paul's letters, and to do so we must dig in deep. We must ask our Heavenly Father to give us understanding through His Spirit to help us see that doctrines can distort the truth of mercy like tares sown among the wheat. Paul's message was to focus on a repentant relationship first with faith in Messiah – not the religious doctrines of men that can mislead us if we seek them in exchange for God's mercy.

Moses instructs all people not to add to God's Word or subtract from it and that's the rock of Paul's letters.

Did you know, the first instruction given Moses for the sanctuary was about the pure gold (kapporeth) covering of the ark that has now come to be called the mercy seat that rested atop the Ark of the Covenant?

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

The reason, the “Great Commission” isn’t only about preaching about a cross, but about discipling and teaching others how to live a Kingdom lifestyle in repentant love for The Father and others as we learn to follow God in righteous kingdom living as a child of God and one new man (Matthew 28:18-20).

This is "the way" Paul taught and that Yeshua walked. Both have been misunderstood for 2,000 years, but repentance is coming forth today as the divide is closing as promised by the prophet Jeremiah. Believers are learning to believe, learning to love God and His instruction that does not minimize or diminish mercy or grace. It puts the character of God first and foremost in our heart where it belongs before the seat of God's mercy in Yeshua's sprinkled blood. God's loving instruction is about walking near Him, it moves a person from the penalty of man's religious tradition that can reject mercy and lovingkindness.

In fact, it is God’s grace that provides forgiveness for the times that we "miss the mark" when we slip and fall on the narrow path. It is only in love for The Father that we get to walk in His path of forgiveness, love and in repentant obedience just as we forgive those that trespass against us.

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 noted in Proverbs 30:4 who walked a sinless Torah path as a man and willingly offered His own life to pay the penalty that we all deserve for going astray in sin rejecting God and His instruction.

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 of God's grace, we can receive the deliverance in restoration only our Creator can bring and we get to show our gratitude in love in faith as James taught by our heart for Torah deeds.  Our works honor our Heavenly Father, others and ourselves by keeping God's Kingdom ways because we choose to, and we can do so in amazement and joy trusting what Yeshua has done to atone and heal mankind's iniquities!

From a proper Biblical perspective, Paul’s comments are easier to comprehend when placed into their proper Biblical and historic context, I pray this commentary has shown you... that God's restoration plan includes both Jew and Gentile, one in Messiah.

If I can summarize, Paul refuted "religious" tradition that circumcision is required as the entry into a covenant relationship with Almighty God, but he did not reject circumcision, Timothy is the witness to that. Paul declares the ancient truth, that relationship based on "faith" is the doorway to covenant with our Creator. Faith is as it has always been shown by the faith of Abraham who listened to God and "crossed over" from the Ur of the Chaldeans in Babylon to the Promised Land (see Galatians 3:6-9).

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

Paul's message is not 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 Torah message comes out in its proper context. God wants people that to serve Him and others out of love much like that of a woman for her husband. Paul's point is that God is concerned with intimate relationship. The Father wants our worship to be borne of love and devotion, not ruled through traditional religious control. The fact is, the Galatians that Paul met came from neo-pagan worship, they were 'non-Jews' fully assimilated in ancient Greek and Roman culture and lifestyle before Paul arrived with other brothers in faith.

Before they met Paul, the Galatians didn't know Torah or hear it and likely did not know anything about God's teaching and instruction before Paul's arrived on the Greek scene. Instead, they worshipped false-gods and followed the dark traditions, celebrations and seasons of Olympus.

These non-Jews had grown up in pagan culture, a yoke of slavery, and Paul know they would never view the Torah as they should without caring instruction that would take time.

As we have seen in the letter to the Romans, the "days and months and seasons" that were disparaged by Paul in Galatians 4:9-10 were not the Biblically appointed Sabbaths or the Festivals of The Lord, but rather the ways of hellenistic polytheism that carried on from its roots in ancient Babylonian idol worship polluted by the festivities of Greco-Roman nations that still remain hidden in remnant forms today.

Many of those Greek days, months and seasons survive having morphed in Rome in one form or another from Babylon and Egypt. Incredibly, some have even been adopted into modern Christianity as Christmas and Easter, but that is another study. Bottomline, in the Greek culture of Paul's day in Galatia, people celebrated and worshipped all sorts of idols and Greek false-gods.

As we have seen, even our modern weekdays are infused in Hellenistic astrology as each day is named after false-idol-god 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 worship.

During the course of a year in Paul's day, celebrations of the Greek and Roman gods were in conflict with Jewish teaching, so if we do not have at least some understanding of the context of the culture of his day, we can not easily see the truth of the Galatian letter.

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

Even the architecture of the Greek temples like the Parthenon and the Acropolis are still revered today as well. If you doubt that, just take a trip to Washington DC to view the Greek temple architecture that is infused even in the U.S. 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." It dates back to depictions of Themis and Justicia that are infused in the religions of Greece and Rome that still survive, alive and well.

In Roman mythology, Justicia (Justice) was one of the "four virtues." Themis was the Greek Goddess of Justice and Law.

That reverence for the Greek gods is why Paul appeals to the Galatian people to rely on the account of Abraham (Galatians 3:6, 3:14, 3:16, 3:18; 4:22), after all they could relate to Abram. He left the pagan ways and life of Babylon, he "crossed over" and Paul knew the Gentiles could relate to his story. Abram was God's friend and he 'demonstrated' his love in truth and spirit as “two” witnesses to the mercy that was shown to him.

"You are the LORD God, Who chose Abram And brought him out from Ur of the Chaldees, And gave him the name Abraham. Nehemiah 9:7

As Peter points out for those that distort Paul, the problem is not with Paul, people have an issue with the front of the Bible, they distort the Scriptures" to their destruction as I once did despite the fact that the Scripture are the Messiah's Bible.

So what do we do now with the bondage of law that Paul wrote about?

As we have seen, for many years, religious men have been adding to the Torah or taking away from it, rather than finding rest in YHWH's love and grace established in the Torah that was made to abound through Messiah Yeshua.

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

But there is one, a deceiver that opposes this great truth about the mercy and grace of God's love emanating from His mercy seat. HaSatan does not want us to be 'whole' Bible believers, so he promotes Greek philosophy. The enemy wants many to be deceived and think they do not need God's whole instruction manual. The enemy wants people to be ineffective and not know that when Jesus healed people, He ALWAYS 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 that defines the life of Messiah. The enemy wants us to remain sidelined in sin so we cannot be effective in showing others how to demonstrate their love for God and others through the blessing of righteous living by the power of the Holy Spirit.

The enemy wants to veil our understanding of Paul's letters to separate Believers from our Jewish brothers and sisters too. The deceiver abhors a family of faith.

Paul taught that all can be adopted as a part of God’s children in the promise of Abraham. A family with the name Israel given as as gift by faith and trust in the gospel of the Kingdom. That's what the aliens and sojourners with Israel in the book of Exodus are all about.

Paul taught the Gentile believers about a repentant life of faith. He expounded in the Roman letter that followers of Messiah are fellow heirs with Abraham, and partakers of the promises of the covenant God made with Israel. He taught that all believers are grafted in as heirs of God's great promise and blessing through Messiah Yeshua (see Galatians 4:7).

Paul also warned the Galatians to not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage of Hellenism, a devotion to ancient Greek thought, customs and lifestyles (see Galatians 5:1).

I must say it again, the message to the Galatians is not in opposition to a Torah lifestyle that God outlined for mankind as His Kingdom constitution and the letter is not difficult to understand, provided you first seek truth and spirit to understand the message in the truth of Biblical light.

Paul taught the power of the gospel and faith in Messiah Yeshua is the entry to the door of God’s covenant household. Paul taught 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
Paul hit the nail on the head by asserting that righteousness does not come via circumcision as “works of law.” He taught one’s forgiveness does not come by human deed or action seeking brownie points with God, but forgiveness comes through repentance and the redemptive work that Yeshua Jesus offers for all people, all nations, Jew and Gentile. Yeshua walked the walk, talked the talk and took on sin's penalty at his Passover cross three days before He arose in eternal resurrection glory as God's Priest King.

If you believe this, then your life, your study and your 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 that continues today, but also its great importance in the circumcision of your own heart as you work out your faith in loving God and others.

There's something else to remember about the two trips Moses made with the covenant of the Ten Commandments and the final redemption. God's Passover instruction in Egypt saved people at a personal level. The blood of the lamb was smeared on each doorway by each family so that those inside could be saved from the final plague of death. Yom Kippur speaks of corporate or national redemption, so that all Israel many be saved and Paul wrote of this too although it is still hidden in plain sight to many:

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “THE DELIVERER WILL COME FROM ZION, HE WILL REMOVE UNGODLINESS FROM JACOB.” Romans 11:25-26

Needless to say, we need to understand the foundation of the Hebrew Scriptures given in the letter to the Romans and the Galatians because the body of believers have entered the season when Jew and Gentile are called together in fullness by our identity in Yeshua, the Messiah of all Israel.

So, I will say it again, Paul is not trying to do away with Torah, circumcision or start any new religion. He never did, nor did Yeshua Who upholds God's Torah and He will fulfill it, all of it, even Yom Kippur.

Paul uses the front of the Bible to prove God's mercy and grace. He always uses a Torah and prophet-based proof for his positions, not understanding that is the ignorance Peter warned of and it only causes destruction and bad preaching.

That's why Peter said ignorant and unstable people distort (Paul's letters), as they do the other Scriptures. His message, don't remain ignorant of God's Word. Study the Tanach for yourself just as Messiah did. Rather than invalidating the Torah, look to the eternal work of the Messiah that causes the Torah to abound. Let Paul show you how.  Believe the Torah, it teaches that a person can only be justified in the eyes of God not by works but by faith, mercy and redeeming grace.

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

We can see Paul taught Abraham lived by faith in the eyes of God, because of that Abraham was God's friend. Read Galatians 3:9 again for yourself. 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 never taught against that, in fact he called it profitable!
"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 was a Jew, but many have changed His Jewish 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).

Due to the error of dispensational, replacement theology, and lack of proper historic context, many Believers suffer from an identity crisis and misread the message of Paul and the words of James, the brother of Jesus. It is time to put an end to this.

Don't remain 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 as the Heavenly eternal instruction manual 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. He came to find them and fulfill the Torah, make it abound. He came to close the gap, tear down the walls of separation to reconcile all men to God, first the Jew, and then the Gentile as an authentic faithful remnant grafted within all 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 His Kingdom.

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 atonement for sin and 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 same 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 a 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 words fromof tree of life here for good reason too. It's another Hebrew 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 the columns of 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. We cannot live abundantly without God's Torah either. 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 haSatan's method to cause chaos and 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 a greater truth (see Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11 as examples that the verse reveal insights for our understanding of holiness). The deceiver 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. It is not, God does not change.

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 ultimate goal of Torah is to point you to Messiah, to show you that you are a sinner and that all of us need a redeemer. It sets Godly standards to show your need for the Messiah while at the same time it teaches us how we can live our lives in a kingdom way which is pleasing to God just as Yeshua did. 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 curse of willful sin (violation of Torah) by taking it upon Himself, offering life as an exchange at the Roman execution stake. His offering was an exchange for life in resurrection. He is the kinsmen redeemer breaking the curse of eternal death and separation from God which comes from our  own deliberate choice in disobedience to God's word. The Torah of God is about blessing. Yeshua did not do away with the Torah, Heaven forbid, He fills it with meaning.

He never took away the blessing that results when we walk just as He did.

Yeshua alone can redeem us from eternal death. Think of it as separation from Eden. There, the first curse was not brought not by God, He warned of it; but by Adam and Eve's choice they disregarded God's instruction as if it had been done away with and brought destruction on themselves.

The first command given to them was a blessing to be fruitful and multiply, to bring forth life to the earth and rule over it. Our Creator never dis away with this or any blessing but the choice is yours.

Paul taught 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
So what is its message for today?

To answer that, the simple question that we should all be asking is, "How is God telling us to live and bring forth life in God's instruction?" Of course, our minds will immediately think of our natural surroundings first, but this is the wrong place to look. To answer the question, we must look inward and at the great commission.

How is He asking us to live? The instruction manual is within the guidelines and principles of the Torah: love God and others. This is the summary of God's will. The big picture question posed to the Galatians boils down to this: how are we to live in true faith?

Does Scripture urge you to live following man's traditions that take away or add to God's teaching and instruction or have you been "called out" to live a life separate and apart as a divine appointment with your Abba Father?

Are you truly serious about your faith?

If so, live within the guidelines of God's word which Paul has told us to begins with repentance. Do you believe every unchanging jot or tittle of what God has spoken even if you do not understand them just yet? Or, do you believe the lie from Eden that He does not mean what He says as we preach man-made traditions not looking to God's Word with the covenant to bless all nations?

Do we mix the knowledge of good and evil turning our backs on His Word, and facing man's religious doctrine?

Many people are now re-considering what they have been taught and are stepping out on a walk of faith just as Abraham taught his son Isaac. As we have seen, when famine came, Isaac wanted to take control of the situation. But the message to Isaac was clear. He was told to follow God's instruction.

Isaac accepted this, he made the right choice and entered a new walk because of it. It was one he had not walked in fully before that time. In order for him to live in the provision of his Creator, Isaac learned to let go and trust in the voice and teaching of Almighty God. He had to learn faith, then walk in repentance.

Since the first century, only a few, a remnant have walked boldly in faith and obedience to God not turning to men like Marcion for advice. We can be like them and return to "the way" God tells us to live in a Kingdom lifestyle.

The unfiltered message to the Galatians is for us too, we must understand that it is the walk of faith in Messiah, the living Torah that has to come first, it's the will of God.

If we will learn and choose this, then we can live as Messiah tells us to live just as He did. This is a part of the process of bringing the lost sheep home in reconciliation with God as He intended and make atonement a reality. The God of Israel does not want to remain distant, He wants to be close, to be with us, to live with us and in us, to write His Word, His law on our hearts.

Messiah Yeshua's Hebrew name means salvation. He was dedicated to God from the beginning on the 8th day of His life on earth He was circumcised and given His amazing name. Take note, His family was devoted to God's instruction in circumcision. He was set apart for God's work on Earth and the Father's purpose in His name. He was circumcised just as Isaac was 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
Messiah 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.” 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 Isaac's binding (called Akedah) on the wood at Mount Moriah, Isaac is not seen again in the Torah until his bride Rebekah approached him. The same will be for Messiah Yeshua. Be the bride, approach Him today, move toward Him, seek Him.

Throughout His ministry, Yeshua taught and lived out the Torah. He never added to or took away from it. He did this by always making a resolute daily decision, a choice to put God's instruction first and foremost, not Himself, but God’s will. He said this: "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 as His son 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 doing the Word of God. He never violated God’s teachings, He did not sin, He did what His Father said, like the shadow picture Isaac provides. 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 and gave sight to the blind while He taught that people were sanctified by truth and Spirit (John 4:23-24) that God’s Word 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 will, His instruction.

Messiah Yeshua shows us how to walk out the Torah in word, thought and deed in the will of God and the Spirit of God can help us maintain our dedication in faith to The Father just as His friend Abraham did even if we do not understand how right now.

We all must make a decision to devote ourselves daily to Messiah's walk to the best of our ability if we want to live according to God's will. If we do, we "get to" set ourselves apart as a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him (1 Peter 2:9) to others. In this way, His way, a believer teaches salvation in Yeshua through the faith blessing of the gift of God's lovingkindness.

Abraham's friend of God faith is what we all need because The Lord is not only our Creator, and instructor, He is our Redeemer, Savior and friend.

Messiah can save us from destruction; the curse of eternal separation from God by the exchange of His perfect life for our sinful ways. If we choose to see Him in this way as Messiah and live in this faith, He will send His Spirit to comfort and teach us just as The Spirit of God once filled the Temple.

Have you made your choice?

It's more than a decision, it a commitment to dedicate yourself to the God of Israel through a life gift of faith and walk in "The Way" like Messiah Yeshua. Do you realize that you need to make that decision to engage God’s will for your life? It's the biggest choice you will ever make. Yeshua is the only choice.

Your choice is the heart of Torah and it is what Paul taught, if you do not think so reconsider Peter's simple warning: ignorant and unstable people distort Paul's letters.

If you have not made the choice to follow the faith of Yeshua as your savior and Messiah, the next step is to repent of sin and ask Almighty God to forgive and He will.

Then follow the way, to walk like Yeshua walked in love and obedience of The Father and show your love for others each day.

Walking like Messiah means keeping yourself apart from anything that is unholy and against God’s will for your life because your love Him. To understand this fully, pray and ask for help as you study God's words to know His teaching and instruction in each situation you might encounter and each choice you make.

In God's Torah, we can learn that our Creator has a set-apart lifestyle outlined for those that follow Him and He wants us live in it just as Messiah did, helping others, teaching, discipling others. A part of that way is keeping the covenant of the Ten Commandments and His instruction for living. That includes honoring God's Sabbath rest, keeping His appointments, even watching what we eat so that we may live a long healthy life and fish for others to do the same.

God calls His people to be different, to walk in righteousness and sanctification set apart in Messiah's lifestyle.

You can begin your journey by praising and thanking Him for all the good things He has done, is doing and will do as you realize that you have been given a path to follow that leads to life. God has given mercy and a mission because time is short to bring in the fish from the sea of humanity God has put before us.

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 so spread the message, sow the seeds of the Kingdom and tell others of God's love.

The truth of the living Word of God, the Jewish man of Nazareth Messiah Yeshua is that He desires to redeem and save all of mankind from the curse of the death penalty of sin, that is the start of the journey and the choice is yours.

Choose life and show others what you have done so they can do the same and follow Messiah Yeshua!


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