My Scripture Studies
Removing the Blinders

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Why the Letter to the Galatians?

Paul, a Jew from Tarsus and the tribe of Benjamin taught Hebraic Biblical truth to those caught between Greek Hellenistic thinking and religious doctrine.

His letters are deeply rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures, so much so they are hidden in plain sight from anyone ignoring the authority of the front of the Bible, the written Word of God that Paul read, studied and taught.

It's important to understand that if we want to uncover the heart and spirit of the letter writer's messages.

It is said that Greek philosophy arose in the 6th century BC. It was woven into the culture of the Roman Empire as it attempted to make sense out of the world in a non-religious way. By its definition, we can see that Greek Hellenistic thinking survives today as people attempt to make sense of our Creator's world while seeking understanding of the reason for life in philosophy and science while rejecting the voice of the Bible.

To understand Paul, we must return to the foundation in his letters and the customs and culture of his day. This is the only way we will be able to really understand them. When you glimpse the background of culture, Paul's letters become powerful.

The primary culture conflict was very old, the worship of the mythic Greco-Roman gods of Mount Olympus vs. the ten word covenant given to everyone at Mount Sinai by the Almighty God of Israel.

We have to understand the context of Jewish life in the first century was the polar opposite of the  Roman Empire if we are to have any depth perception on the matters Paul sought to address.

Paul's view was one where Jews focused on the message of the Shema, that declares: “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" Yet the Shema does not end there. The message includes: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart."

Yet some Jewish leaders focused on the weight of an oral law for conversion and the Galatian letter deals with that. The oral law provides finite slices of legalistic perspectives, but the Bible is bigger than that. It's height, width and depth provides a timeless super structure like the infinite universe that exceeds our understanding of the rules of physics and extends into the infinite meaning of God's character interwoven with His loving principles, embracing life with caring relationships infused by the compassionate loving heart of God.

That is why Paul wrote “love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10) by quoting Leviticus 19:18.

The God of Israel as one (echad) collided with the surrounding cults of pagan polytheistic religions that worshipped morphed strains of mythic false-god idols in a historic community with a undercurrent of power, materialism and cruelty based on mythology in opposition to loving the "one" God and each other the way the living God loves us.

The Greek pantheon listed twelve (12) Olympian gods and dozens of lesser gods and goddesses. Not only that, ancient pagan beliefs from Egypt, Babylon and Persia in various forms of Mesopotamian deities gave birth to Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism and divergent cultic cosmologies that survive today. Without this backdrop, a surface reading of the letters penned by Paul can lead one to mistakenly think that Paul's goal was to start a "new" religion outside Jerusalem and provide an override to God's loving instruction manual and Kingdom constitution.

Paul's focus was on the heart and spirit of God's lovingkindness which is the weave of Torah within his letters. The only thing new about what Paul taught is the fact that the Gentiles twho heard him speak had never known the foundation of truth embedded in the Bible.

The book of Acts reveals Paul was a changed man, he "saw the light" on the road to Damascus and came to understand the message Moses zeroed in on about Almighty God's heart of mercy and lovingkindness and that our relationship with God and each other should be based on God's attributes.

This is the seemingly hidden truth that many miss in the wilderness mountaintop experience of Moses that is central to the heart of the God and Torah. Explaining God's desire for forgiveness in mercy and lovingkindness is the foundation of Paul's letters. Paul's faith was not a new religion at all.

This is hard for many people to grasp. Yeshua said it best to the woman at the well in Samaria: "true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” That truth is the Torah.

To begin to understand the Galatian letter, consider the letter to the Romans. In it, Paul provides his reference point over and again repeating: "as it is written."

As it it written, Paul knew that immediately after the dark sin of the golden calf idol, God's heart of almighty lovingkindness and grace was explained at the mountaintop and lived out from Sinai to Jerusalem, then Rome and beyond.

The problem of any "new" religion view is that it is an "old" remnant of a prejudiced, dispensational, golden calf-like replacement theology that history reveals in a Greek philosophy that infected church men like Marcion. If we could travel back in time to 144 AD, we would find this rich, materialistic ship merchant standing on a podium box in Rome in his prideful bid for power to become a bishop like his father before him.

Marcion's thesis was a serpent's poison declaring the division of the Bible as Old vs. New and a Christ that was not Jewish.

Yet, a divided Bible cannot be reconciled with spirit and truth or Jesus.

In a nutshell, Marcion taught that Moses preached the Sabbath and an old Law declared by a angry tyrant that he thought Jesus Christ freed believers from. Marcion preached that the very Hebrew Scriptures Jesus Christ lived out and explained every Sabbath in synagogue (Luke 4:16) were old and done away with.

Does Marcion's podium pounding sound familiar?

If it doesn't, you may hear some form of it, but know this, it's part of an ignorant 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 destroy your mind, heart and soul.

Marcion believed a lie and rejected the Scriptures that Yeshua explained reveal the good news of the Kingdom of God that begin with tesuhvah. Marcion was perhaps the original supersessionist madman. He not only rejected the Hebrew Bible, he tossed aside all of the manuscripts of the Jewish disciples like James, John and Peter except the letters of Paul and the words of Luke which he redacted to fit his Hellenistic Greco-Roman world views.

The rabbis all knew of the Jewish Messiah. The men like Marcion who distorted the true Jewish personality of Yeshua created “another messiah” who according to their theologies replaced Yeshua’s people with a church and created a new religion called Christianity. The Jewish Messiah of the Bible is a different Messiah compared to the Hellenistic anti-semitic Jesus Christ that the early church fathers proclaimed.

Yeshua is a Torah observant Jew properly observing the Shabbat and commandments of Moses and teaching that those who teach against the jots and tittles are lawless.

In the end, Marcion was branded a heretic and never made it to the bishop's office, but his legacy of lies sadly embedded in the hearts of some people like a hidden virus that would not die. A virus that infected hearts and minds and hid the compassion, forgiving heart of God shown at Sinai and in the Jewishness of Jesus.

It's important to understand this viral analogy and the odd fact that a virus tends to spread from east to west is a part of the picture because God's eye is on Jerusalem not Rome. Once a virus changes the genetic design it can replicate and it insert itself directly into the DNA of a healthy host cell and wait there, for a future opportunity to become active again. A virus meets the very definition of the undead moving from a completely dormant state to rewire the original code God has created and worse yet, a virus uses genetic reprogramming as fuel to sustain itself.

Understanding God's heart of lovingkindness shown in the Hebrew Scriptures and de-Hellenizing the life teaching of Jesus is the vaccination required. God's attributes and Yeshua's Hebrew Torah teaching are the key lines of defense to help us overcome any spiritual neuro-invasive disease infecting the truth.

By all accounts, re-programming God's Word appears to have begun with Marcion, yet the viral seed was planted in ancient Greece, Marcion was a willing host for a morphed form of Mithraism that spread from present-day Iran to Turkey and then throughout the Roman Empire.

With a hint of Marcion and Simon Magnus in their early sermons, the so-called early church fathers began to adopt bits of Marcion's viral code of spiritual destruction with hypocritical views of replacement theology as a new religion replacing Israel. Their cracking voices still echo as strains from some pulpits with powerpoint presentations embedded with occasional snippets from Paul's letters declaring the Scriptures Jesus taught as was His custom every Sabbath (Luke 4:16) are old and done away with replaced by grace.

The thing is grace does not depart from the Torah, it's a part of it.

The Galatian letter is still misused today just as Marcion did long ago and that leads us to the question:

Why the letter to the Galatians?

The answer is complex because we are seemingly far removed from the culture and mindset of those that it was written for - so it requires a long deep dive into history and the Bible.

The Bible is history. It tells about God's work engagement through the first 4,000 years of human history. So to understand it, we need to dig into the cultural background of the people of the Bible to better understand what we find in the Scriptures.

Marcion and other so-called "church" fathers were infected with Greco-Roman philosophies that viewed the Jewish people as “rejected” and "forgotten" by God. Led by a misunderstanding of Rome's onslaught of destruction in 70 AD, they held to the opinion that the Jews were cast out of Jerusalem to wander the world as a despised people.

Men 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.” In that way, the cross was used as a sword and a symbol of conquest, hatred and persecution against the Jewish people. Yet, the fact remains that Jesus was a Jew as was Paul, the disciples and the multitudes of the faith of Israel. The truth of the matter is that the Jewish people were not the murderers of Christ, but the people that brought the Messiah to the world.

Justin Martyr was a religious man that believed the lies despite the fact that the Roman prefect of Judaea Pontius Pilate sentenced Jesus to beating, scourging and a verdict of death by his Roman Centurions. Pilate knew that the evidence in Yeshua's trial was bogus and did not justify death or any other sentence under any rule of law. Read Luke 23:4, Luke 23:13-15 and Luke 23:22-23 for the evidence.

The rejection of his own perjury in false judgment is why Pilate washed his hands of his decision to accept the accusations of a tiny elite leadership of pride-filled religious leaders that threw accusation stones of blasphemy. Pilate's decision to wash his hands zeros in on the mystery of God’s sovereignty and His desire to provide salvation no matter the great cost, even death. In the end, the trial and Joseph Caiaphas' words tie directly to the teaching of Genesis 50:20 where Joseph tells his brothers that he forgives them:
"You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result– the survival of many people."
Like Pilate, some first-century pulpits began to plan evil and wash their hands with ignorant and unstable lies against the Jewish people. Their dark lies have numerous progeny that morphed into replacement theology like a spiritual virus surviving and spreading from one pulpit or another into the pews and hearts of congregations that leave their Bibles on the bookshelf like a rejected vaccine that can saves lives.

The spiritual hate cycle of antisemitism is a demonic infection that can only reproduce itself within a host. The virus goes dormant for awhile, then it spreads and morphs to survive. The actions of the antisemitic heart illness depends on its destructive tendencies toward the Jewish people and the Galatian letter has been re-engineered to spread its viral lies.

Despite some reform 500 years ago started by Luther, the virus of lies produced horrific antisemitic aggression including medieval forced conversions, inquisitions, blood libels, confiscations, expulsions, pogroms, massacres, murders and persecution that culminated in the Shoah, the Hitler Holocaust of World War II.

The great tragedy of discrimination and persecution through much of church history is that the light of love and grace has been extinguished by replacement theology as non-Jewish believers were taught that they replaced the Jewish people in God’s eternal plan but that is now changing. Christians around the world are now engaging in the celebration of Passover, visiting synagogues, making friends and supporting projects to bless people in Israel and in Jewish communities.

Today, the deadly virus of hate has re-emerged in another form as the rockets of Hamas are emboldened by the tirades of Iran's goal to wipe Israel off the map. Spiritual disease has morphed into another form in anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions otherwise known as the BDS Movement against Israeli products from God's land of promise given to Abraham and his descendants.

Replacement theology came from the influence of the malicious injection of men like Marcion, Simon Magnus, Justin Martyr and Melito of Sardis who attempted to reprogram the Jewish DNA of the faith of second century assemblies away from the heritage of their Jewish roots and Jerusalem into a new religion that blamed the death of Jesus on the Jewish people.

We should take note that the letter from John written at the island of Pathos gave advance warning to second century men like Melito of Smyrna:
I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelation 3:1-2
Anti-Jewish and anti-Torah replacement theology disguised the faith of Jesus Christ as a "new religion" in Sardis because it instituted opposition to the Biblical faith firmly rooted in the hearts of the Jewish people.

The virus has become so virulent in the Middle East today that some declare that Jesus was a Palestinian Arab. Yet, in Jesus' day there were no Muslims. After all, Islam is the world's new religion and it rewrites the truth of God's election.

It is important to know that anti-Semitism began as the demographics of believers in Yeshua changed dramatically as His life story expanded from Jerusalem throughout the pagan Greek mindset of the Roman Empire. The fact is that in the beginning of the first century, all believers were Jewish (see Romans 1:16). Yet, as word spread about Messiah Yeshua from the witness of believing Jews in cities like Antioch and Alexandria westward to Rome and beyond, the Biblical faith of the Jewish disciples fell under the Gentile influence of a Greco-Roman worldview centered in Rome.

The heart of the Hebrew Bible and Yeshua's life and teaching was never understood by Emperor Constantine. His lack of Biblical knowledge and Scriptural ignorance enabled Jewish persecution by the Roman Empire's newly adopted church. Constantine codified religion against the Jewish people in the same way that Pilate the Roman washed his hands and falsely sentenced Yeshua to Roman lashing, beating and the tree. Just 150 years after Constantine's first Council of Nicea, Rome had collapsed and divided between east and west.

Hosea 4:6 warns of destruction by lack of Biblical understanding:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Now, 1900 years after Marcion's heresies and Melito's homilies spread and became widely known, we must face the facts and look back and repent of the dark seed for Calvin's treatise: "On The Jews and Their Lies."

Calvin's eventual hatred of the Jewish people unwittingly paved the dark tracks for the mind altering evil of Hitler and Himmler's concentration camps of demonic hatred that led to the German state's sponsored mass murder of over six million precious souls that in a bizarre way mirrors the trial, tribulation and Roman execution of Yeshua the Jew from Nazareth.

Yet, just as Messiah Yeshua, the King of the Jews was resurrected to life by God's power and authority over death on the third day just outside the walls of Jerusalem, the Jewish people have been resurrected after two thousand years to new life in the Promised Land promised to Abraham because he obeyed God's voice.

That fact has opened the eyes and hearts of many to one aspect of the promise made to Abraham in Genesis 15.

That land of Israel and its people are a big part of the salvation plan of the planet.

God does not change, people do. Marcion and Melito changed opinion because they rejected the promises the Scriptures held, so they sought to eradicate the Torah and rewrite its Gospel. These Greek thinkers flatly ignored the words of the Jewish disciple John (Yochanan) that declares God love:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16 
Melito ignored the words of Jesus not understanding He laid His life down for His flock by His own initiative with the authority of the Father to take His life up again:
“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 
He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep.  
I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.  
For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” John 10:11-18
Marcion deemed the letter to the Galatians as the pinnacle of Paul's letters because he claimed Paul had walked away from the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings and started a "new" religion with new sheep. Paul never did that, instead he taught against religious legalism that set out manmade requirements for conversion through man's deeds rather than faith and the lovingkindness grace declared to Moses from the mountaintop at Mount Sinai.

Marcion did not understand lovingkindness was the Bible's pinnacle message in the Torah nor Paul's Jewish teaching about God's character, so he turned them both upside down re-wiring Paul into a Greek philosopher with a new world view.

Marcion forgot that while imprisoned in Rome, Paul wrote the following words that mandate the core understanding of Paul's Jewish teaching:
"All who sin apart from the Torah will also perish apart from the Torah, and all who sin under the Torah will be judged by the Torah. For it is not those who hear the Torah who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the Torah who will be declared righteous." Romans 2:12-13
It seems then and now, no one wants to hear the Romans letter for what it says. It points directly to God's reason given to Isaac about why He will continue to honor His forever promise to his righteous father Abraham:
"...because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My Torah.” Genesis 26:5
Marcion's attack on the Hebrew Bible (aka the Tanach) was an attack on God's commitment and Jesus' fulfillment of Isaac's willing Ha-Aqedah initiative. Marcion's hatred emanated from his failure to understand Paul's words or His message in Romans 9, Romans 10 and Romans 11.

Marcion failed the faithful test on the Biblical context of Galatians that proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom with its mountaintop focus on God's heart of everlasting lovingkindness and forgiveness.

Marcion's twisted views were driven by a Greek Hellenistic worldview spun by a lie that God changes. His Greek views held to Scriptural blinders of Yeshua's obedience and authority. He held to a deceptive hatred of Jewish people because they honored the oracles of God that Marcion turned his back on.

Bottomline, Marcion forgot that Jesus is a Jew.

His twisted views on the Galatian letter came from a misguided perception of Paul's statement that false brethren were attempting to turn believers from the gospel of the Kingdom that Yeshua and His disciples taught.

The gospel of the Kingdom is still misunderstood, yet post-Holocaust eyes are being opened.

Irenaeus, another Greek from Smyrna, now known as İzmir, Turkey opposed the heresy and hatred of the church fathers. A righteous man, he wrote a treatise called "Against Heresies." In it, Irenaeus wrote that he opposed Marcion.

The letter of Revelation to Smyrna states:
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. Revelation 2:10
Irenaeus upheld the Hebrew Bible as truth. The Gnostics of Smyrna demanded his execution and Irenaeus left for Lyon, France. It is said he died a martyr for truth around 200AD. Irenaeus had heard the truth from Polycarp who had been tutored by the Jewish disciple John.

In support of Scripture, Polycarp tried and failed to persuade Pope Anicetus to celebrate Passover on the 14th of Nisan, as it is written in the Bible.

In his white paper, Irenaeus identified a cult he called the Nicolaitans. He called them an "offshoot of the knowledge which is falsely so-called." The Nicolaitans are important if we are the understand the letter to the Galatians. They are noted twice in Revelation 2 for good reason. Irenaeus wrote that they "lead lives of unrestrained indulgence." Their swerve from truth mirrors the warning Paul gave his student Timothy. You can find it 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 and those like him that spew babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge” are like the irreverent Nicolaitans spewing out a new Greek philosophy that says people can be saved by grace and then do whatever they want unrestrained by God's words of instruction for a holy lifestyle, while they forget Yeshua's own initiative and the reason God gives for honoring His promise to His friend Abraham.

As a good and faithful scribe, the Jewish disciple John recorded a similar warning when he sent his Revelation letters to Ephesus and to on to Smyrna that became the home of Marcion: "you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false..."

Now you know the revelation mystery of the Nicolaitans from Ephesus and Smyrna.
Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Revelation 2:6 and Revelation 2:15
The hard cold facts are that the teaching of the Nicolaitans of yesteryear survive today and cast a dark shadow on the heart of God and the mission of Messiah.

According to John, this requires a third messenger's call from heaven for repentance and "endurance" in Biblical lifestyle and Hebraic faith, not a unrepentant walk away from it:
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
If you have ever run a cross country race, think back to it. Endurance requires a lot of training and an inner voice of courage and strength to persevere to finish the race.

Three hundred years after John penned his solemn warnings about the Nicolaitans, another Greek thinker by the name of John Chrysostom opposed this call for the endurance as he preached against the commandments of God and anyone who sought to honor God's heart and voice in His appointments including the Sabbath and the Feasts of The Lord.

Without a doubt, Chrysostom among others are the reason for Peter's yellow caution flag that is still waving in the faith endurance race today.

Peter (Kepha) was a fisherman and in the end, a faithful 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, Melito, Chrysostom and many others ignored Kepha's urgent warning and tossed it aside just as they called The Scriptures old and done away with as they too distorted Paul's letters...

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

Wow! These are hard words from Peter and these men ignored them!

Today, the revelation warnings against the Nicolaitans remain in full force as some much like Marcion and Chrysostom still say that "the Law" is contrary to their religious doctrine, theology and belief in direct opposition to the words defining "endurance" in Revelation 14:12 and Matthew 5:46-47.

Like Marcion, some people believe the Hebrew Scriptures that Yeshua taught in synagogues every Sabbath are old, set aside and done away with "hung on the cross" while twisting Paul's letters to "prove" their weary and exhausted unstable beliefs that lead to destruction.

Hold onto your pew.

The destruction from the original lie believed by some that God's Word is old and done away with is a big reason that the many Jewish people have denied Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah largely because of a church doctrine adopted by some that is rooted not in the Bible but in a replacement theology that seeks to build a new house without a foundation.

The reality is misguided church father views disqualifies Jesus as the Christ.

Replacement theology is a grievous lie that requires a broken heart and repentance to the faith of Yeshua.

Like Pilate we must all ask: "What is truth?"

Pilate asked Jesus the Jew this question at His hour of trial. The truth is we must show our Jewish brethren how to see: “I find no guilt in Him" (John 18:38).

Yeshua taught and upheld the Torah in everything He did in life, in death and in resurrection. He quoted Moses and the Prophets and the Writings constantly. The heart of the written Word was the pinnacle of everything He did and taught.

If you believe God, don't just ask what would Jesus do? Do what He did, be like Yeshua.

You can change.

Simon Peter did. His warning of destruction comes from the same man that despite hearing every word that Yeshua of Nazareth spoke and despite seeing His many miracles to heal and help others denied knowing Him three times in His grave hour of trial.

Yet, Yeshua never gave up on Peter (aka the rock) because Jesus knew God's lovingkindness and grace would transform Peter's stony heart in the end and bring the living water of life from a rock. By his repentance, Peter was given another chance because he did the righteous thing, he repented. His warning about distorting Paul's letters and the Scriptures still stands as a truth we must uncover as we consider: Why the Letter to the Galatians?

Like Peter, Messiah Yeshua gave Paul another chance too as He sought him out on the road to Damascus.

And just like Peter before him, Paul repented and he never turned his back again on the  lovingkindness of God shown in the Scriptures. Paul had been so vehemently zealous for religious opinion that he pridefully sought to destroy the Jewish believers in Messiah. Paul added prideful precepts to God's written word with commandments of a few men who had turned away from the truth as he had.

Few it seems realize that Paul constantly weaves messages from the Hebrew Scriptures to explain the heart of the Torah's gospel message of God's desire for grace, mercy and lovingkindness in his letters.

Here are just five examples of Paul's Hebrew Scripture teaching in chapter three of the Galatian letter:
  • 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 he started a new religion and turned his back on a so-called Old Testament, why did he use it?

Perhaps Melito never read the second letter to the Corinthians. In chapter 5, Paul connects the importance of staying away from unclean (tame') by summarizing a number of sayings from the Torah and the Prophets:
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Messiah and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 
“I will live with them
    and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.”[1] 
“Come out from them
    and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
    and I will receive you.”[2] 
“I will be a Father to you,
    and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
2 Corinthians 5:14-18
1) 2 Corinthians 6:16 - Exodus 6:7; Leviticus 26:12; Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 37:27
2) 2 Corinthians 6:17 - Leviticus 5:2-3; Leviticus 10:10; Isaiah 52:11; Ezekiel 20:34,41

Let's turn a page and look at Galatians 4. There we see some things that might shake many old pulpits. 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 when we use Greek thinking. The reason, they are Hebraic. They teach a message that compares two things through a story that has a deeper meaning. Today, we might call them an allegory, a metaphor in which a character, place or event is used to deliver a hidden truth.

Paul's allegories are still falsely used against the written Torah today. The "law" that Pauls often writes about is straight from Genesis. How do we know? Notice the parable is about children, redemption and adoption. Genesis 3 is the placeholder of the "law" that Paul refers to:

In the beginning, God promised to bring forth new life but we bring on tribulation pain because of sin:
To the woman He said,
“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth,
In pain you will bring forth children...
God's instruction was be fruitful and multiply. In other words bring forth life. His next was watch what you eat. In other words, Almighty God was saying don't take everything in that is available to you because it can eventually kill you, choose instead to carefully do what I say is God's message to Adam. Death is the warning from the second "law" that Paul wrote about.

God's voice gave the ultimate warning as a "law" to Adam and Eve if they rejected God's authority and chose to ignore Him and put their opinion above God's voice.

Adam and Eve brought death's destruction on themselves because they both fell for the deception of another voice that sought to control them under the bondage of sin. The serpent understood God's instruction better than they did. HaSatan knew death's rule.

God described the curses bought to the earth by Adam and Eve for deliberately breaking His instruction out of His lovingkindness, not as vengeful condemnation or retribution:
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 a 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 out, yet it was an act of unfathomable love because it saved them and humanity.

Had they stayed near God's glory, they would have quickly died living in their sinful state near God's glory and they would never have had the opportunity to fulfill the first commandment to bring forth children.

Sin and God's glory cannot coexist, so they had to leave. The goal was to protect them, so God stationed the cherubim and the flaming sword to guard "the way" דרך (derek) to tree of life because the Redeemer had not yet come to provide the way of redemption and ressurection. Had they eaten from the tree of life they would have lived in an eternal state of decay, literally living out death in a state of disintegration, disease and ruin.

Death is the "law" Paul wrote about that we can be redeemed from through Messiah Yeshua. The curse is seen in the beginning and it is described in Galatians 4.

The penalty of the law of sin that Adam and Eve chose to bring on themselves in rebellion as a curse is revealed in Genesis 3 and Deuteronomy 28:45. Paul's parable-like teaching fast forwards to Genesis 21 contrasting bad choices as he compares Sarah and Hagar’s lives and then Paul connects his message to Isaiah 54. Likely, he did this because these two passages were read together in the synagogue on the Sabbath. After all, Paul was a Jew and he knew the Scriptures were not old and done away with.

It's important to read all of Isaiah 54 to complete the parable picture that Paul paints with his words. In summary, take notice of the child and the groom, as well as everlasting lovingkindness, compassion and redemption:
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.
Did you notice the restoration includes... "resettle the desolate cities."

That is happening today in Israel. The prophecy first hit the headlines in 1948.

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

After this grave sin of graven image idolatry, God describes His heart for mankind, it is the good news of His everlasting character of lovingkindness and compassion through forgiveness as He demonstrated the second chance He provides all of humanity when He provided a second set of tablets to replace the ones that were shattered so that Moses could return with them a second time.

His second descent points us to Messiah's two comings, not two Messiahs.

Paul ties Moses' two-trip message that reflects Messiah's first and second coming and a teaching of the heart of the Torah shown in Jeremiah 31:32-39. God gave the prophet Jeremiah His loving promise to make a new covenant for the forgiveness of sin with His promise to write His Torah on our hearts.

The new covenant of Jeremiah 31 is the same new covenant described in Luke 22:20, 2 Corinthians 3:6 and summarized in Hebrews 9:15 below that speaks of the Genesis 3 promise of Messiah and points to the golden calf sin shown in the Exodus 32 narrative:
"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."
Torah-Haftorah connections like these are the hidden gem foundations in Paul's letters and the failure to see them there are part and parcel of Simon Peter's grave warning of ignorance of the Scriptures.

Peter was concerned about Biblical blinders in a form of cognitive dissonance, a teaching that was spreading that the letters of Paul provided a "grace escape" of ungodliness from the foundation of a Biblical lifestyle described in Deuteronomy 6:18 to: "Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you."

Take note that Galatians 2:1-3 mentions Titus.

He was Gentile and is seen in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians and to Timothy. Titus was an understudy and Paul knew of Peter's concern so he counseled Titus. Paul's letter to Titus clarifies grace as bringing salvation to all people and he admonishes Titus to righteousness with an emphasis on good works and pure Godly living in an upside down world that twists and rejects God's Word and authority.

These are the same Torah foundations Yeshua taught and expounded on.  Paul clearly instructs Titus to deny ungodliness and strongly encourage, yet reprimand others out of love accordingly:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we would live soberly, righteously, and Godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Yeshua the Messiah; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good works. Say these things and exhort and reprove with all authority... Titus 2:11-15 
Peter understood Biblical blinders too, he had once worn them for a time just as Paul had. Remember, it was Peter that denied even knowing Yeshua three times, yet he was present at the sermon of beatitudes when he heard Yeshua of Nazareth boldly declare an unchanging truth: not one jot or tittle will ever be done away in the Torah as long as heaven and earth remain.

Peter eventually repented and was forgiven. He understood grace and the words that promise a new covenant that the Torah, the laws of God are 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 embedded throughout the Torah. If you want to 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).

When you do, you'll understand why Peter's warning flag still waves in the race for endurance to the tree of life and the promise of the eternal inheritance.

Grace does not annul God's Torah nor allow ungodliness to reject it, rather the Torah of God directs us live righteously under God's grace.  It directs us to be passionate for the good works it promotes to love God and others. Grace is from God's throne it is given to redeem and strengthen us to walk in the path of God's way of life when we choose His ways over ours.

Grace began in Eden with the promise of the bruised Messiah and it is seen in Adam's 930 year life allowing him to fulfill the first commandment which is why you and I are here today. It is front and center at the mountaintop teaching after the golden calf sin below caused Moses to shatter the first tablets. Grace is seen everywhere in Scripture including Jeremiah as God promises the prophet He will write His laws on our hearts as a new covenant, not do away with them.

The thing that is new about the new covenant is nothing new in the Torah, what is new is that we won't jest read them, we will know them, live them and know The Lord God who gave them to us.

Yeshua of Nazareth excludes no one from His voice and authority on God's eternal truths and He expounded on them in the Sermon on the Mount. By its very nickname, the "Sermon on the Mount" teaching of Messiah Yeshua should remind you of the other 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 one letter. This gospel for life in the Kingdom is the life testimony of Jesus and it can be yours too.

His mountaintop sermon reveals the spirit and truth of lovingkindness and compassion shown in the Torah regarding "the way" of the Kingdom of God and we have two witnesses of the 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 deeply woven in Pauls' letters.

Did you know Yeshua's followers were called "the Way?"

This points back to Abraham, not a new way or a new religion:
“For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” Genesis 18:19
They were not a sect, they were doing righteousness and justice and only called a sect of Nazarenes by others. See Acts 9:2, Acts 19:23, Acts 24 and other references.

Many might be blown away to know that the Hebrew word for "The Way" or "derech" can also called "Halakha" and that "the way" of Yeshua is the truth and spirit of the Bible's doing righteousness and justice that He taught. It's no wonder the crowds that followed Jesus said He taught with authority (Luke 4:32).

During the time preceding his encounter on the road to Damascus, Paul had rejected the Biblical concept of a bruised and pierced Messiah expounded on in Isaiah 53 as well as other prophets and the voice of God revealing Him from the beginning 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].” 
The head, or authority of sin is the sting of death, the heel is the walk of life.

Messiah was only bruised, He over came the sting of death in resurrection.

At one time, Paul had forgotten the prophetic psalm of king David, but he repented.
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
The faithfulness of David was the steadfast love of old, it points to the promise of Messiah that Paul had rejected. He could not see the staked 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 everlasting steadfast love of a mocked yet anointed shepherd.

We have a problem that can lead to tribulation.

Whose fault is it that many Jewish people struggle with Messiah today just as Paul did before his eyes were opened?

Is it any wonder that the Jewish faithful are like Yeshua and hate the Nicolaism of Marcion, Chrysostom and Luther that turned away from Jesus the Jew.

Not all people think like certain Nicolaitan church fathers and not all Jews reject the bruised heel of the humble Mashiach as Paul once did.

History is important. The understanding that the Messiah is not new to the Jewish rabbis or rabbinic Judaism. A historic and highly revered Jewish sage, Elijah ben Solomon Zalmam, known as the Vilna Gaon (the genius of Vilna) lived in Poland and Lithuania in the mid 1700's and he taught that one of the roles of Messiah was that of Moshiach ben Yosef.  Rabbi Zalmam understood and taught others that the humble Messiah's mission was to reveal the "Sod" or the hidden wisdom of the Torah of the Kingdom of God which is exactly what Yeshua of Nazareth did.

The Gaon of Vilna once said that “all wisdom is needed for the holy Torah and included therein.”

He was a genius and he was correct. Like Yeshua taught, the eternal wisdom you need to guide your life is in God's teaching and instruction which is the yoke Messiah yielded His entire life to without fail. Keeping God's commandments as His own is the reason He alone is eligible to be Messiah.  

That is why Yeshua taught "For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:30)

Adding a heavy and burdensome manmade yoke of religious power, pride or prejudice makes the law a heavy and legalistic burden. Examples of Yeshua's Torah teachings are many and many are they are summarized in the Sermon on the Mount given to the large crowds that followed Jesus from Galilee and the Decapolis as well as Jerusalem and Judea and from beyond the Jordan (see Matthew 5, Matthew 6 and Matthew 7).

Yeshua taught with authority about the Kingdom of God because He kept it and He preached it to the crowds from Judea and Jerusalem and the coastal region of Tyre and Sidon (see Luke (6:17–49).

In His Torah teaching we call the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua explained the heart and "Sod" truth of adultery and the instruction given in Exodus 20:14, Deuteronomy 5:18 and Proverbs 6:32. He explained the importance of the Sabbath in Matthew 12 and Luke 6 as He expounded on the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Yeshua also taught a hidden "Sod" purpose of the Sabbath in Luke 13:10-17 by His good deed. On that Sabbath, He healed the sickness of a woman caused by a dark spirit. Her body was bent over and twisted and she could not straighten up for 18 years. The "sod" storyline of that woman in that synagogue and the 18 years is that she represents the assembly of "all Israel" both native born and sojourner companion that are oppressed by two enemies: spiritual sickness from the deception of haSatan that leads to sin.

Like a release from prison, her affliction was rightly judged by Yeshua when He said to her: "Woman, you are freed from your sickness."

Yet, much like the storyline found in Paul's letter to the Galatians, a religious synagogue official was indignant with Yeshua because of the official's adopted tradition of the elders, a heavy yoke that opposed the highest purpose of Torah to heal and restore. The heavy burden of that religious man was that he considered healing a violation of his own definition of "work" on the Sabbath (more on that later).

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

The book of Judges takes the mystery out the mention of the number of her 18 years of bondage in suffering.

How can we know that? After entering the Promised Land, the children of Israel were in afflicted by several nations of people before David became king. Two key enemies, the Moabites and the Philistines oppressed them for eighteen (18) years (Judges 3:12-14, Judges 10:7-8). Yet God freed the Israelites of their 18-year bondage through the work of Ehud, Jephthah and Samson.

The coming millennium is the day melek King Messiah Yeshua will again teach Torah face to face and free all Israel and sojourner from the bondage of sin and the deception of haSatan during the Sabbath day of the Messianic Kingdom to come that is promised in 2 Samuel 7:11–16. This seemingly hidden "Sod" message was preached by Yeshua in Matthew 5 at the Sermon on the Mount and it is revealed again in Revelation 20:2-6.

We should not ignore genius of the man from Vilna. Its important to know that the Vilna Gaon is not the only Jewish rabbi witness of serious thought and commentary on the critical role of Moshiach ben Yosef, the suffering Messiah. The earliest Talmudic writings give many references dating back to the 3rd century, identifying Moshiach as the man of sorrows in Isaiah that many people will look upon and mourn and He is the same one pierced that is described in Zechariah.

The "Sod" message is that there is only one Messiah, not two and like Moses, as an intercessor, Messiah will make two trips "down the mountain" to deliver the eternal covenant to Israel and the sojourner companions with them.

The first trip down the mountain, Moses shattered the first two tablets after his first trip down the mountain of God because Israel committed adultery with the golden calf and broke their promise to Almighty God:
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
Messiah Yeshua, the living Torah in the flesh was shattered in His first trip as Messiah ben Joseph, but Messiah will return with the same Torah in his mouth as Messiah ben David. The Biblical picture given by Moses is no coincidence because he wrote of Messiah. Moses went 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.

Yeshua said to believe Moses and that he wrote about Him (John 5:46). Simply put, Moses shows us the reason for the first coming of Messiah in Deuteronomy 18:15 and that reason was people were afraid to hear directly from Almighty God so God promised the prophet to speak His words:
“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 Hebrew word Moses uses here for prophet is נָבִיא nabiy' and this word points to the inspired messenger (angel) of God, the one that did not speak his own words, but words divinely received from Almighty God. As you have seen, Yeshua points to this 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 The Lord in at least 77 verses so the message is critical to understand.

The Jewish disciple we call John tells us three times how explicitly Yeshua speaks as the messenger of The Lord and the prophet that Moses had 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 Yeshua 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, the messenger of God shows us that He is the promised prophet of God the Father and the same prophet Moses wrote about that raised up by God from among Israel 2,000 years ago to speak what God commands.

You see the Vilna Gaon was a genius and there are other rabbinic writings that agree with the Vilna Gaon about the Messiah and his required ordeal of suffering revealed at Mount Sinai. They include these witnesses:
"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) 
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 also agree on the prophecies of a suffering Messiah and take note, not one of them declares the suffering is only figurative of 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 that both a humble Messiah and King Messiah is declared by these highly respected Jewish sages and rabbis that confirm Moses and the words recorded by Hosea, another Jewish prophet that wrote of a great diaspora and hinted at 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 leading to the third point directly to Messiah. After all, 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 a second rain is pointing at the second mission of Messiah. It comes directly 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 is to the thousandth generation and the work is to gather His harvest. This is etched in Torah and the gospel accounts beginning with Matthew for anyone to see.

Yeshua fills up the Torah with the gospel truth of everlasting lovingkindness and compassion reflecting God's heart of lovingkindness and forgiveness that The Lord declared: "showing mercy unto the thousandth generation that "love Me and keep My commandments." These words tie to the teaching of Messiah to sin no more as 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 the commandments of God that He kept were old and done away with, that's why His message "sin no more" is revealed in Revelation as the definition of the unwavering 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 the Sermon on the Mount and Matthew 5:17-19 where the Greek word "plēroō" has been translated in modern English Bibles as "fulfill" which is a word many mistake as a definition of finish or ending...
"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 "plēroō" means to put an end to and finish off the Torah; you need to know perseverance because Jesus opposes your religious precept, so its time to rewind and repent because the Greek word "plēroō" means to cause to abound - to render perfect - to perform. Fulfill here does not "do away with" anything, so wake up, keep and teach this.

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 like a good travel guide you need when it comes to the hidden cultural 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 in a culture focused on false-gods and sacrifice to pagan idols that opposes the Shema. This problem was present at Mount Sinai as well. The golden calf is the remnant evidence of the idol worship of Apis from Egypt, a fake deity worshipped at Memphis.

Every line of Paul's letters comes from a historic context intertwined within the social influences of his day and as you will see, this is still a clear and present danger even today, nothing has changed. In many ways, life in first-century was not much different from our modern world, yet most traditional misinterpretations of Paul's letters ignore this allowing only a dim view of their foundation in Biblical reality.

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

There were some 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 world. 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 of the Empire before him assumed the title of "Pontifex Maximus" aka supreme guardian of the Roman "cults."

Keep those cults in your time perspective as you re-consider Paul's letters.

The Roman pagan temple cults remained front and center in society well over 300 years after Paul penned his letters. Yet, miraculously in Paul's day, Jews were exempted from many Roman cult duties required of its citizens under Roman decree because the Pontifex Maximus refrained their "yoke of bondage" on people they considered as conquered and defeated.

Jews had lived all around the Mediterranean Sea and in Rome since the turn of the 2nd century BC. The Caesar's had long supported Jews protection to worship generally as they chose and even called synagogues "colleges" to dodge Roman Senate laws banning secret societies outside their own.

Perhaps in a form of reverse discrimination, the Emperor's considered the Jews unworthy of their gods. Yet no matter their intentions, God used them for the survival of the Jewish people and the sign and distinguishing mark of a set-apart people as promised by God in Exodus 31:12-17.

In a miraculous way, God used His Sabbaths literally and figuratively as a protection and sanctification for faithful Jewish people.

It's now time to look at the other side of the Galatian letter.

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 non-Scriptural duty of ritual obligation for conversion.

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

Paul knew God's heart of lovingkindness and forgiveness was given to 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
because God's heart does not change!

The willful choice of the graven image sin of adultery with the golden calf broke the promise of all 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 because God does not change:
"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 two stones pf 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 by God's lovingkindness and the forgiveness He revealed to Moses.

Incredibly, in the beginning of the exodus journey, redemption required two trips for Israel and the sojourners that had joined them to follow the God of Israel in covenant. 

This mountaintop gospel (good news) reflects the truth of God's character and heart of grace that is plainly described by Moses for the whole world to see and believe in Exodus 34:6-7 after the promise of the people was broken by the golden calf sin.

Before the terms of the first covenant was given in the wilderness of Sinai in front of the mountain, after Moses ascended and returned to give them the words of God:
"You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." Exodus 19:4-6 NASB
They said:
“All that the LORD has spoken we will do!”

Almighty Lord God still speaks from above for all the earth today revealing His everlasting lovingkindness and forgiveness for iniquity, transgression and the iniquity of 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 of God's lovingkindness and forgiveness is why Paul wrote against a stony belief of justification before God by people's unreliable words and doctrines as a prerequisite conversion by circumcision rather than God's character in lovingkindness and forgiveness. This is the truth revealed at the top of Sinai.

Paul is teaching we too are to reflect God's lovingkindness truth first and foremost in faith. Paul called any religious attempt at conversion by deeds and works as a doctrine of justification and a yoke of bondage (of men) not God. The burning issue here is one of authority and religious pride. Paul understood the simple warning on this issue declared in Isaiah 2:22:
Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils;
For why should he be esteemed?
In his style of Biblical teaching, Paul wrote of God's forgiveness of sin through repentance and His eternal love for all. Paul learned this after he came to understand that the written Torah was given as a guide for life after salvation and that men's traditions, customs or doctrines that add to what God declares as a manmade bondage to-do list to check off for salvation, or conversion by merit from what we do is not a part of the grace and love 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 incomprehensibly forgives for His reasons, after all, God's incredible mercy and His lovingkindness created and governs the universe.

Long ago, after the bondage of Egypt, Israel and the sojourners with them in the wilderness 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 to 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 judged then just as it does today and tomorrow.

To one whose eyes and ears are not focused upward on God's personal narrative about His character and heart 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 held before he met Yeshua if we are ever to believe and understand his message in its proper context.

If you believe 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 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. The reason, we all break our promises to Almighty God, we all sin.

Paul is teaching this because the written Torah reveals God's mercy and The Lord's impeccable character of lovingkindness and forgiveness, so our feeble deeds or works are never good enough. 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 atonement 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 written Torah Moses recorded 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 after his relationship with Hagar and renamed Abraham (see Genesis 17:25-26 and Romans 4:11-16 for the proof text).

By looking back to the faith and friendship of 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 religious opinions that add to or take away from the unchanging order of the written Word of The Almighty God of Israel.

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 the Redeemer.

Paul knew whether Jew or not, every man, woman and child ultimately fails to keep God's instruction perfectly, so no merit can be earned by one's effort to 'keep' men's religious law but that the law of God is good. It is good because it declares God's act of lovingkindness, one in which we get to show The Father we love Him.

Paul understood the lessons of Genesis, of Abraham and the golden calf.

Those lessons are the foundation to his letter. Genesis 3:15 provides the promise that God would send a suffering Savior. Those who lived in the past before Yeshua looked forward in faith to the coming Messiah. Those who have lived since look back in faith on His life, death and resurrection.

We will all fall short in one way or another and continue to do so despite our best deeds, intention or religion. Paul knew the requirement for God's forgiveness cannot be earned by our own merit because every man is found a liar, but incredibly:

“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, they are borrowed from a prophet of old, see Joel 2:32 for the original. The letter to the Galatians points to only one way of salvation, by God's action. Throughout time, the Bible shows us people have tried to pervert God's grace by adding religious deeds to it, requiring things to be done to “earn” salvation. But the Bible’s message is that the way of unfathomable and inexplicable redemption has always been by God's grace.

Paul also knew that Almighty God declared circumcision as a covenant 'sign' for Abraham and his descendants to receive the land. Paul 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 some 1,500 years earlier.

Paul understood that the descendants of all that were saved out of Egypt's oppression and received forgiveness after the golden calf were like Abraham. Believe it or not, 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 just like Abraham they received God's covenant and they walked with God as He tabernacled with them among their uncircumcision.

The truth is they were all under God's Shekinah glory cloud and saved while uncircumcised until it was time to enter the land God promised Abraham. Men were only circumcised just 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 had walked with God in their midst just as Abraham had, uncircumcised until it was the proper time.

Paul never turned his back on this truth about 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 old religious prejudice that used the Torah as a religious weapon that carried a separation from grace but he did not oppose a Biblical Judaism.

Judaism derived its connection with the Jews after Northern ten tribes split from Judah. They were scattered like the wind by the Assyrians leaving only a remnant of Judah along with Benjamin and the Levites to remain faithful to the Word of God for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Paul was proud of his Biblical Judaism, but he came to realize that adding to or taking away God's instruction in the customs of men does not always line up eye to eye with the words of Moses.

He was once likely once a member of "the party of the circumcision" that did not understand that Abraham had a friendship relationship and walked under God's instruction uncircumcised for many years. He also realized that: "all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised" (Joshua 5) yet they had walked near the glory of The Lord for 40 years in the wilderness until they arrived at Gilgal where: "they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho."

Paul's eyes were opened to this truth and he understood that in God's lovingkindness, the Heavenly Father chose to lead Israel "uncircumcised" after Moses' returned to the mountaintop for a second time following the sin of golden calf idol worship that the Levites had rejected.

Paul also understood that Moses was called by God to return to Israel with the assignment to bring the Heavenly Father's renewed covenant with God's good news of lovingkindness and forgiveness to the multitudes of people saved by The Father's mercy and compassion, not circumcision. The fact that chose to do this demonstrated that deeds do not merit forgiveness or salvation.

Paul realized that 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 by God's grace and forgiven by nothing they could do to seek righteousness after they broke God's ten-word covenant with them.

It took awhile, but Paul realized the way to the Kingdom and the message from the mountain is that walking in God's mercy and truth was proclaimed in God's inconceivable majesty of lovingkindness that was put on full display with Lot and his family. You see, Lot lived in Sodom, yet God saved him (it's time to reread Genesis 19:15-21).

If we look closely at the Galatian letter, we can hear the heart of God's message recorded by Moses that is all about God's heartfelt mercy and lovingkindness despite our sin. That is the simple truth found in Pauls' letters.

It is seemingly hidden within Paul's Galatian letter, yet that is his testimony. This is seen with the account of Felix the Governor in Acts 24 as Paul 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 about the Galatian party of circumcision is teaching that without a mercy-filled circumcised heart, one can become a slave to religion and self-imposed legalism seeking justification with a misguided goal to 'earn' merit with God.

Paul also teaches a 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 pride in legalism separates people from the truth of God's life-giving lovingkindness, compassion and blinds us to the Messiah Redeemer. Paul's letters reverberate this message woven in the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings.

Paul's repeats 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  
The requirements of justice, kindness and humility is "the way" to walk with God. Religious dogam and pride has no place.

And as we've seen, when we dig in deep in the "Sod", we can see Paul never said he started a new religion. The gospel he taught started with Genesis.

Paul didn’t believe Messiah Yeshua of Nazareth ever stopped being Jewish. Paul never promoted anti-Semitism or anti-Judaism as many Jews have been misled to believe by misinformed, new religion sermons from a pulpit full of old, anti-semitic, dispensational replacement theology.

Thinking that Paul converted from being a Jew and formed a new religion is Scriptural blindness because Paul never turned against God’s assignment for Israel to teach others about the Scriptures.

That's why his letters all focus on God's mercy and lovingkindness. This Jewish apostle understood his role in Israel's assignment to be a light to the nations in the darkness of a Gentile idol-worshipping planet. Paul understood the goal of the Torah is to shed a loving light to guide all nations toward the redemption offered by Messiah. He also knew God’s assignment has never changed. It remains today for Israel to be a distinct people, a nation set apart to point all people to walk with God and believe His provision of the Redeemer and Savior declared by the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings.

Paul never taught that anyone that chose to follow Messiah was separate from the assembly of Israel either.

He taught the opposite. He taught God's loving principles of adoption and grafting. He taught that Yeshua was the Messiah of "all" Israel defined as those that seek to believe and follow the Father of Israel in "the ways" of the Holy 'One" on earth as it is in heaven.

If you doubt this read Romans.

Here's proof, Paul taught that all Israel will be saved, never replaced or done away with.
"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 the writings of another so-called early church father by the name of Barnabas who taught radical anti-Jewish hatred. Barnabas sustained an ongoing attack on Jews and the Torah they upheld as God's instruction manual for life in the Kingdom of God. Barnabas opposed animal sacrifice, the Temple and the altar because he did not understand them. In doing so, Barnabas opposed God's sovereignty over creation. Barnabas held that sacrifice, the Temple and the altar were God's mistakes. That is why he also taught against the dietary instruction for healthy living outlined by Almighty God for His children.

Yes, Barnabas was a father all-right, a father of Biblically blind people teaching a replacement theology that the church is the sole heir of God's new covenant religion. The thing is the new covenant described by Jeremiah is about writing God's Torah on the heart. This truth of Jeremiah was a teaching of Yeshua.

Paul knew firsthand that blindness like that proclaimed years later by Barnabas can be temporary if we just open our eyes to the bright light of God's forgiveness and see Messiah in His mercy. The good news is we don't all have to walk on a road to Damascus to see this. Messiah's promise is in the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings, the road to Emmaus.

Acts 9 reveals Paul was healed of his physical and spiritually leavened blindness to the mountaintop purpose of Torah that reveals God's character in mercy and lovingkindness. We can be healed of this same blindness if we just open our eyes.

After he "saw the light" Paul never intended that any of his letters would encourage people to turn their back on the Jewish people or God's Kingdom constitution. Paul used the instruction manual upheld in esteem by the Jewish people since Sinai to declare the gospel of the Kingdom. Paul brings all of this to 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 words written to the Romans, every letter aligns Paul's esteem and knowledge of the Torah with a focus on forgiveness through God's character and name recorded by Moses. Paul understood that what God had commanded Moses to write was impossible without the gift of mercy and grace. He also knew from his own past sin, that repentance was essential for forgiveness and a life changing faith focus on 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... 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."
Study this, take time to consider and reflect on the heart of this divine Torah instructon.

Call it law if you insist, but doing so can take away from the heart of God's word because the wrods Moses wrote as God's scribe are so much more. The Torah is God's teaching and instruction that reveals God's character bound in love.

That is the message embedded in each of Paul's letters that 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 religious opinion that strayed away from God's heart.

Sound familiar?

The teaching and instruction of Almighty God defines sin as the thoughts and actions that oppose our loving God's heart and character and Paul boldly states this in Galatians 5:18-21 even declaring that an immoral anti-Torah lifestyle will keep people out of God's inheritance:
“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 pdeeper look at the Galatian letter and reconsider the ancient culture of the polytheistic Roman Empire where idol worship, sorcery 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 in the mirror, we will also find "religious" conflicts remain with us whether Jew or non-Jew, and that fact will shed some new light on the letter to the Galatians.

Today, these conflicts still include religious rules, interpretations, customs, traditions, sects and church denominations that have splinted over time in Greek thinking and in some aspects define religious opinions of people and emotion as the center of focus, not Almighty God, El Shaddai.

The key difference is that with more people, there are more opinions that can morph into takkanot to fit a changing society. A takkanah (regulation) is an enactment which revises a rabbinic ordinance that is deemed to no longer satisfy the requirements of the times. Circumcision as a requirement for salvation was the takkanot that had crept its way into Galatia.

So, we must ask again... does the letter to the Galatians deal with the written words of the Hebrew Bible being questioned or does the letter reveal a deeper message: understanding of God's heart revealed at Sinai and a grave concern about a mindset of takkanot control that had grown out of extra-Biblical power plays based on religious doctrines and interpretation?

It's important to understand the definition of religion today focuses on Greek thinking and people's institutionalized systems of belief and practice, not God's Hebrew Bible.

Merriam Webster defines religion as: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices. Oxford calls religion a particular system of faith and worship. Collins says a religion is a particular system of belief in a god or gods and the activities that are connected with this system.

The Torah is neither a system or an institution of men, it is our Creator's instruction manual.

Over the past 2,000 years we have seen historic Christian institutions exiled from the Promised Land define their religion as new and the Torah as old. This Greek thinking began in Turkey with Melito of Sardis. Melito, immersed in a Greek world was the first to call the Hebrew Bible an Old Testament. A few years later, Tertullian coined the term New Testament around 200AD in today's Tunisia, Africa.

By the time Paul arrived on the scene in Jerusalem after 30AD, there were three primary religious sects: the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Essenes. The Essenes are not identified in the Gospels, Acts or Paul's letters, perhaps because they had abandoned Jerusalem for communal life near the caves of Qumran. You might say they were missing in action, but they were revealed by the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.

During the 70 years of exile in Babylon, away from Jerusalem and the Temple, traditions arose from 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 Targums, Mishna, and the Talmuds of rabbinic literature record the commentary from the Jewish sages on the Scriptures much like the Christian Bible commentators such as John Wesley, Matthew Henry, John MacArthur,  Charles H. Spurgeon, Warren W. Wiersbe, Chuck Smoth, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Charels C. Ryrie and a host of others that have published Christian commentaries today.

The  traditional observances of the forefathers, the elders of the Jewish sages began to develop during the exile to Babylon because the Temple lay in ruins in Jerusalem and this exile eventually led to the emergence of a rabbinic form of Judaism in the 1st century led by Yohanan ben Zakkai (Rabban). He is the first Jewish man given the title of rabbi in the Mishnah.

The second destruction of the Temple by Rome changed the focus of Judaism.

That does not mean in any way that every commentary or a sage's opinion is to be wholly tossed out the window, it simply means that the plumb line of observance must rooted in Scripture, not one jot ot tittle has passed.

Traditions can be good as guide rails along the way, but when the guide rail becomes the way, we can find ourselves drifting off to the side of the road.

This is not my view, this is what Yeshua taught. His focus was on what Moses said not someone else's opinion. Yeshua knew these truths:
“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you." Deuteronomy 4:2 
“Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it." Deuteronomy 12:32 
Explaining Moses was Yeshua's focus and the reason for His hand washing lesson.

Jesus was not against hand washing before a meal, He opposed a religious opinion and tradition that hand washing made a person righteous. This tradition gave the power of burden over people that to be pure required ceremonial ritual according to some of the elders. Jesus taught that they were: "invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down."

The reason is simple: there are no hand washing rituals required for spiritual purity in the Bible:
"He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition." Mark 7:9
Debate on religious tradition has been around a very long time. At the vortex of debate is a religious tendency that Moses warns the world about in his last three sermons before Israel and the sojourners with them as they left the wilderness of Moab and crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land.

Moses' summary presentation is called the book of Deuteronomy or in Hebrew, Devarim. It was given by Moses to summarize the lessons of the journey with an exhortation to follow God's teaching and instruction in God's commandments, testimonies and statutes. Moses gave a prophecy on the blessings for doing them and a warning of curses for rejecting them. He also gave hope for restoration in repentance with a focus on God's lovingkindness.

Since that time, setting aside or adding to the commandments of God with someone's opinion and tradition that takes the focus off the greatest commandment of the Shema to love God first and foremost declared in Deuteronomy 6:4 has been the vortex of religious debate.

Yeshua was not the only Jewish dissenter for those that added tradition to God's word to make it their own... Gamaliel's son Gamaliel II disagreed with rabbi Akiva on many customs of oral law according to the Jewish Talmud. One example of their disagreement was regarding the number of prayers that were traditionally required after a meal.

According to the Jewish historian Josephus in his work "Antiquities of the Jews" we can see the core of the conflict of Pharisee vs. Sadducee 2,000 years ago:

"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

Tradition in its proper form with the Shema front and center is good, yet, if you are a "member" of a sect or denomination today because you side with a tradition not found in Scripture, the idea of choosing sides will sound familiar.

After all, taking sides is the very definition of denomination. According to Merriam Webster a denomination is: "a religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and practices."

During Paul's time, religious belief and practice was influenced by two leading schools of teaching from Hillel and the often opposing views of the House of Shammai. Both schools taught and expounded on opinions of the elders that had originated in the absence of the Temple services some 500 years earlier. This is carefully recorded in Jewish history.

Men debate, but what matters is the heart of God's Word and that is the focus of Deuteronomy as it stresses the need for living life God's way, not man's, to choose life over death. It's the same message from the beginning. Adam and Eve chose to listen to deception and ignore God's instruction, the result was the curse of death they brought on themselves. That's the reason Yeshua offered up His life as a ransom for sin.

The "house" of study that trained Paul in his advanced knowledge of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings was in Jerusalem. He was under the tutelage of Gamaliel the Elder (see Acts 5:34-39 and Acts 22:3 for the proof). 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 the Scriptures with an eye on Messiah and God's heart of lovingkindness revealed at Mount Sinai in Arabia, Paul came to realize that he had let his own prejudice lead him on to a dark road away from the Biblical teaching of his Jewish mentor Gamaliel on God's character of lovingkindness and mercy.

To understand why Paul called himself a Pharisee, we would be well served to reconsider the words of his teacher Gamaliel. One of them is recorded in Acts 5:34-39. Here, we can read that Gamaliel prophetically warns the high priest and his associates known as "the council" that judged Yeshua against harming His 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."
It took time, but 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 and he repented when His eyes were opened on the way to Damascus as he saw 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 people in leadership in Paul's day had allowed hypocrisy to lead to judgmental hatred in Paul. This hypocritic power play had infected Paul's heart much like the virus of Marcion just a few years later.

As we have shown, hypocrisy rebounded years later when some of the so-called "church" fathers turned against the Jewish people and all things considered Jewish as church "fathers" with the loudest voices presented Jesus as a Christ not seen in Scripture and eventually they labeled the Hebrew Bible He taught as old and done away with.

Their opinions were leavened like the Nicolaitans noted in Revelation 2:6 and Revelation 2:15.

In Paul's day as today, power puffed up a few religious shepherds up to the point that they thought they might control the flocks. Eventually, this leaven of hypocrisy led the counsel of certain men's hearts into grave darkness as they led the Romans to kill Yeshua of Nazareth because they rejected Him as Messiah and the prophet Moses spoke of. They saw Jesus as a peril to their self-imposed position of esteem and power over others.

He was a threat to their rule as they opposed the fact that He did not follow their authority. Yeshua confronted them with nothing more than the warnings of Moses in Deuteronomy 4:2 and Deuteronomy 12:32 because they had stony hearts stumbling against the written warning of Moses.

Like Moses, Yeshua taught against adding to God's Word or taking away from it and like Moses, Yeshua taught the amazing message of mercy and grace by His deeds that were focused on God's heart and the fountain of life in "the way" of Torah rooted in the words of The Almighty. By this, Yeshua acted as the son of God.

The admonitions of Moses and repentance is the cherished "way" Jesus taught His disciples. Paul gives witness to this according to Acts 24:14-15:
"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 [Torah] and that is written in the Prophets; having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves..."
Paul focused on the truth of loving kindness and the promise of resurrection declared under the authority and compassion of God, not men and tradition that takes away from Scripture like the Sadducees that rejected the promise of resurrection.

Yeshua taught the same loving kindness authority declared by God through the witness of Moses, Hosea, Micah, David and Solomon that was the faith of the vast majority of Jewish people in the first century. That is why the Jewish "multitudes" followed Him, they knew He spoke with authority and that earning one's salvation by deed was not the cornerstone of the faith of their forefathers. The Messiah redeemer promised from the beginning was the one Moses had written about and they knew they had to listen to Him:
“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him." Deuteronomy 18:15
They knew what The Lord had shown Moses at the exodus 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 
Perhaps like the schism of debates recounted within the pages of the Talmud, the elders of the Pharisees on the right and the Sadducees on the left stumbled at times arrogantly begrudging religious opinions against a backdrop of the written Torah teaching in keeping with Exodus 34:27:
"Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”" 
They did not hear and do (shema) the words 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.”
There's much more to the story, as noted, the first century Pharisees believed in the resurrection promises of Scripture. On the other hand, opposing them the Sadducees rejected this promises of God's power for resurrection promised in the Bible under the influence of Hellenistic philosophy yet they oddly held that the nothing should be taken away from the written word.

Not only that, a few of these men bore grudges and sought revenge as they threw stones of accusation against Yeshua regarding the Torah's instruction. It's well worth repeating that the Jewish historian Josephus defines the conflict described in Paul's letter to the 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 Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel. According to Acts 8:8, it was Paul that in his burden of legalism, approved Stephen's stoning and murder in Jerusalem.

One religious opinion Paul may have held before his Damascus Road encounter continues on today despite the many prophecies from Almighty God that oppose it, which is that Yeshua could not be Israel's Messiah because He did not restore the fallen tent of the Davidic kingdom.

Rome was still in charge and oppressing the Jewish people and the rest of planet by the Pharaoh-like rule of the Caesar's of Rome. Paul's worldview of Yeshua had once ignored the hundreds of Messianic prophecies including those found in Daniel 9:24-26; Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 11:12-13; Psalm 2:7; Psalm 22:16-19 and Isaiah 53.

His former opinion held to Balaam's last oracle. Paul had likely expected a Messiah King to be fulfilled in his day as shown in Numbers 24:15-25, but we have to remember what Balaam said to Balak. He spoke of the "latter days" in the prophecy:

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

The widely differing views of the Pharisees and Sadducee elders were like the many schools of religious thought today with differing opinions based on the sayings and opinions of religious men. A bit like the Pharisees, Sadducees and Zealots of yesterday, today's Christians have many denominations. Not only that, Reform Jews have separated themselves from Orthodox Judaism as the "church" has fractured into thousands of differing denominations with their own rules, views and qualifications for membership.

Some denominations even have different opinions about what canon of books should be included in "their" Scriptures.

What goes around comes around. Nothing is new under the sun, but after he saw the light, Paul's message was about the character of the lovingkindness of the God of Israel, not about earning religious membership by creed or deeds declared by men. We all need to see the light and turn back to the Bible.

Paul was very concerned about division by opinion as he told the Corinthians, who were split by quarreling in religious jealousy. He admonished the people in Corinth calling their debates "worldly."

The "worldly" warning was simple, people tend to seek the opinions of others as if religious heroes on a pedestal, not the truth of the word of the Almighty God of heaven and earth.

Even today, people still ask things like, what church do you attend and the replies are often like this: I am a member of Pastor so and so's church:
"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 church building caused by men known as the "church" fathers began to crumble into replacement theology when Christendom's leadership falsely taught their opinions that the church replaced the Jewish people as a new covenant people, a "spiritual Israel" if you will that rejected the Biblical lifestyle of Jewish people including the Sabbaths and keeping the Torah of God written by Moses.

This "church" father foundation crack was built on the sand of men's opinion, not on the foundation rock of God's voice. The "church" sought reform 500 years ago when priests stockpiled indulgences and kept God's word hidden from the masses, yet despite the printing press the reformation fell short insisting on a blank page to divide the Bible. Today, the "church" remains splintered and fragmented in many beliefs that have morphed into today's fractured walls of "church" separation called denomination.

There's always been some form of religious debate on legalism and in a way, you might see that the clashing views of the Pharisees and Sadducees of days gone by are still around. We all need to see the light and turn back to the Bible.

In certain churches including Roman Catholic and the High Anglican Church, members subscribe to a theory of manmade legalism called "transubstantiation" that the bread and wine of a eucharist communion are transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus, although their appearance remains as simply bread and wine.

Another doctrinal debate is "consubstantiation" which is variant of "transubstantiation." This doctrinal theory holds that the substance of the body and blood of Christ coexists in the bread and wine of "communion." This is a mind-body connection prototype metamorphosis, hence the word "communion." This religious opinion was promoted by Augustine of Hippo (354AD-430AD).

Other theological doctrines include foreordination, predetermination, preordination and predestination. Augustin promoted these as well. Some church doctrines are not far from the legalistic circumcision debate on righteousness as they require Catholic elements or sacraments believing that God seals believers and renews their identity with them while marking them for service. Other form of Catholic legalism require prayer beads and repetition or chants while recanting a rosary to the virgin Mary as if she is the intercessor to be heard by God.

As we have seen, long before the church fathers arrived on the religious scene, unwritten traditions called the oral law of the sages began during the Jewish tragedy and diaspora to Babylon. With the Temple and its altar in ruins, the traditions of the elders slowly began to give in to precedence over the written Torah. and much debate ensued.

Traditional observances were moved into written form after the second Temple destruction by Rome's Titus and his Legion of recruits in 70 AD. According the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia there were: "Three hundred and sixteen controversies between these two schools that are preserved in the pages of the Talmud; affecting 221 halakot, 29 halakic interpretations, and 66 guard-laws ("gezerot")..."

It was during the second diaspora that the so-called church fathers began to do away with the Torah, calling it old and replacing it with their own religious rites of passage. Paul has some advice on this, he wrote: "Study to show thyself approved to God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase to more ungodliness." 2Titus 2:15-16

Many of the traditions of the elders were front and center in the vortex of Yeshua's first century confrontations with the Pharisees and the Sadducees as He focused on the heart of Torah as the witness of truth just as Moses had written:
"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 the precepts of Torah written by Moses prevail:
And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the ]offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” Matthew 8:4
We all need salvation from the slavery of sin and Moses' teaches that adding to or taking way from the Word of God is indeed a big problem. That's the storyline of the Torah in the garden of Eden and in the barren wilderness desert.

Slavery comes from men and the Passover exodus from Egypt shows us we need salvation and redemption if we are to be free to walk with God. We all need the prophet like Moses. He is the Messiah promised in Deuteronomy 18:15-19.

We all need forgiveness through God's word on lovingkindness and mercy and keep God's instruction on murder, theft, court litigation and assault - not toss them out. Grace does not annul any of God's word, it fulfills and upholds it. Deuteronomy 17:8 and Deuteronomy 17: 10-11 state this:
"If any case is too difficult for you to decide, between 1) one kind of homicide or another, between 2) one kind of lawsuit or another, and between 3) one kind of assault or another, being cases of dispute in your courts, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the LORD your God chooses...
"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."
Did you know that while writing on this Torah instruction about difficult court cases related to homicide, litigation or assault, Rashi (Shlomo Yitzchaki) the famous 12th century French rabbi interpreted the Bible's instruction given for the Levites to apply to a rabbi's opinion in or out of a courtroom in his commentary on the Babylonian Talmud... "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 the rabbi says. That's not what Moses wrote, because once you learn the difference, you must always choose to make the right choice based on God's voice. We all need to see the light and turn back to the Bible and that's Paul's message.

Rashi was expanding on an elaborate system of rabbinic authority with an unwritten rule.

Yeshua called His disciples and all others to the truth that not one jot or tittle shall pass from the words of Moses as declared in Matthew 5:17-19 and the true spirit of authority declared in Matthew 5:21-48. The reason, He knew this is because God said so:
"The LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will come to you in a thick cloud, so that the people may hear when I speak with you and may also believe in you forever.”  Exodus 19:9
Jesus taught that the opinion that matters is God's voice. The point: listen to men that declare His words, not their own. There is no intent here to bash Rashi, we all make mistakes, in fact many Jewish rabbis disagreed with his interpretations, but they showed respect in their debate.

The important thing to know now is that Moses tells us there is "one" Torah for the native born and the sojourner and the Torah of God, not men's opinion applies to all (see Numbers 15:16; Numbers 15:29).

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's Galatian reference was focused on the religious customs that did not zero in on God's lovingkindness? Simple, he knew his left from his right and says so when he confronted the issue of custom 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 the Jewish people, he was always for them, after all he was Jewish and he never turned his back on his people ot his heritage. However, he was very concerned about certain customs requiring traditions of proselyte conversion not found in the Scriptures.

Simply put, religious rites of conversion not given in Scripture is not Scriptural.

Better than most, Paul knew discriminatory perspectives were not a part of God's covenant. In a bizarre adoption of prejudice and discrimination, certain old church opinions have endowed many people with a false inheritance of replacement theology and the false belief that the Torah was hung on the cross and done away with by grace.

These opinions of the so-called church "fathers" have caused many to ignorantly err in opinion and identity like the party of circumcision of Paul's day.

Horrifically, Jewish people been subjected to forced conversions in the middle ages, they have been expelled without a home or business and eventually millions of Jewish people have suffered and died in anti-Semitism. The lies of replacement theology still echo in many pulpits, but those days are ending at least for a remnant that see the truth of Torah and the Jewish roots of Biblical faith.

We must all see that replacement theology grew in a horrific way in dark hearts until it culminated in the Holocaust. It has created a grave stumbling block for the Jewish people to see the true identity of Messiah Yeshua for who He really is... Jesus is a Jew.

Jesus kept Torah, ate kosher, honored the Feast Days and kept the Sabbaths.

Today, Jews and non-Jews are growing closer in our friendship and relationship in these whether we both know Jesus as the promised Messiah or not. Incredibly,  a healing process has begun in lovingkindness and truth.

Abraham's servant said this:
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 sad truth is the "church" has forsaken His lovingkindness and done many misguided and terrible things resulting in grave persecution and ultimately led to the death of millions of Jewish families over the centuries across the planet, but the good news is that many now recognize the terrible sins of their fathers that were inherited in church history that now require repentance.

Can you imagine what Paul would write if he attended your assembly today?

Would he say that every Sunday sermon must be tossed aside or that all Jewish Halakha is to be ignored?

No, no he would not. After all, if we look at Matthew 3:1-17 we can see a good a tradition of the Pharisees with the reference to immersion in respect to repentance and righteousness. This is a wonderful tradition of the Pharisees. Halakha is not a set of rules to be tossed wholly aside nor is every Sunday sermon, but when these become the path, they can take us off the way.

A great teaching of Halakha is to love one's neighbor. This great 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 Yeshua gave from The Scriptures.

There is one tradition of Jewish Halakha that Yeshua not only upheld, but explained its meaning in prime time to His disciples. The last supper is the witness.

Read Exodus 12, Leviticus 23, Numbers 9 and Deuteronomy 16. These give instruction for Passover observance, yet there is no mention of breaking bread or of sharing wine, prayer and song, yet the traditional Jewish seder order for the Passover celebration takes front and center stage in Matthew 26 and Mark 14 whether you have see it there or not. It's a tradition from Genesis 14:18.

Like opinion, words are subject to interpretationSo you see, like many Sunday sermons or modern Bible commentaries of theologians that have some flaws because they are written by men, Halakha should not be wholly tossed aside with the Talmuds of Babylon and Jerusalem containing the commentary, interpretations and conclusions that the exiled Jewish sages derived from the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings. 

The critical thing to understand is that neither seminary commentary or Talmud ever stand above the spirit and truth of the unchanging Word of God and neither does anything you will ever read here. 

The crack in every religious man-made road is a potential pothole of misguided religious power from a preacher's opinion or rabbinic takkanot. That's the reason Paul wrote to the Galatians. No matter the manmade source, the oral traditions of elders that are instituted from opinions that uphold interpretations and conclusions as an authority above God's everlasting Word have flaws like the men that write them, including me.

To better understand the great value of the Talmud, lets take a quick look at two critical Talmudic sayings about Mashiach and what some of the Jewish sages understood about the promise of Messianic redemption. Zechariah 12 says that The Lord God will pour out the spirit of grace and supplication, and that someone was to be pierced, but who is the He? In the Babylonian Talmud Succa 52a, the rabbi Yalkut Shimoni says: "This is Mashiach ben Yoseph, who is to be slain."

Yalkut Shimoni is 100% correct, like the once doubting disciples of Jesus, Shimoni did not understand that Yeshua HaMashiach would be resurrected, instead he pointed to two Messiah's not two comings of one Messiah.

Today, Isaiah 53 is a key point of disagreement in synagogue and church, yet the Talmud's commentary on Isaiah 53 found in Sanhedrin 98b correctly asks the right question"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." 

Those sicknesses are our sins.

The Babylinian Talmud (Avodah Zarah Folio 9a) states: The Tanna debe Eliyyahu taught: The world is to exist six thousand years; the first two thousand years are to be void;  the next two thousand years are the period of the Torah, and the following two thousand years are the period of the Messiah. Through our many sins a number of these have already passed [and the Messiah is not yet].

The thing is, those words in the brackets were added by Rashi many years later after Tanna debe Eliyyahu.

The rabbinic sages that contributed long ago to the two Talmuds of Jerusalem and Babylon did not write Scripture,  they provided commentary. The same goes for modern commentators like Matthew Henry, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, C. H. Spurgeon, Dr. J. Vernon McGee as well as many others.

But the teaching that stands in authority above all opinion and commentary is the holy, divine teaching and instruction found in the written words of Almighty God.  One thing does not change, God's Word is about how to live in the eternal Kingdom of God.

Instruction number one from our Creator's Ten Commandments is easy to explain, it is to put Almighty God first, not the sages, Christian commentators or ourselves. Putting God first requires  relationship based on on spirit and truth, not opinion.

Biblical instruction teaches us how to live and love. These require relationship and a heart of lovingkindness.

Another purpose of God's Word is to paint the big picture which reveals our sin against God's will for our lives and the need for redemption, atonement and Messiah to fulfill God's Word as the image of God intended from the beginning. See Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 3:15, Deuteronomy 30:3-5, Numbers 24:17-18, Zechariah 9:10, Obadiah 1:21 and John 5:39-47 for the truth.

Yeshua is the master Torah reader, teacher and doer from Nazareth that was born in Bethelem. He walked and talked in Biblical authority teaching His Jewish disciples to do the same and reflect God's image to a broken world. During their yeshiva time, they saw Him observe God's mitzvot prescribed by the written law while anchoring Jewish Halakha by explaining God’s highest mountaintop ways and purpose in the new covenant goal of writing God's law on our hearts.

Jesus is the one that explained the new covenant heart when He taught the Halakha of the new heart covenant proclaimed in Jeremiah 31:31-34. And as if you look at it, you will see it DOES NOT ALIGN with a common pulpit teaching that the Torah (law) is old and done away by grace on the cross. It properly declares the opposite.

Jesus explained the heart of Torah when He said "but I say":
“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering." Matthew 5:21-24 NASB
"You have heard that it was said, 'YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:27-28 NASB 
 “It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." Matthew 5:31-32 NASB
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:44-48 NASB
A story from the scribe that wrote of Jesus that we call Mark shows us that Yeshua plainly agreed with the rabbis explaining the Torah's greatest teaching (the Shema) is the first, the highest instruction.

After all, the first set of commandments etched in stone by the hand of God teaches us to love God first yet at the same time, if we are to do that, the second set of commandments teaches we must love one's neighbor as oneself. That is why brotherly love is given greater weight than "all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” See Mark 12:33.

Jesus demonstrated what this means in the Luke 10:30-37 parable of the good Samaritan. You may have not noticed it before, but this amazing parable story was not new at all. It reveals Yeshua's teaching on Leviticus 19:17-18 and it is another example that the Messiah of all Israel came first to compel people to walk in the narrow path of the Torah written on the heart to rectify the wide road of sin that people choose in their arrogance and prideful prejudice.

Messiah Yeshua, the pierced one is the Mashiach ben Yoseph that Tanna debe Eliyyahu taught about. He is the one who is to be slain as taught by rabbi Yalkut Shimoni, He will return again in authority of the throne of God to prove his words in the Talmud are 100% correct.

Like Joshua (Yehoshua) King Messiah will fight the wars of God against those that reject God's covenant by choice.

Yeshua has fulfilled (aka filled up with meaning) the Springs Feasts and He will return as the Lion of Judah to fulfill the appointed Fall Feasts of Trumpets and the ten days of repentance leading up to the judgment of Yom Kippur as well as the ingathering celebration of the third Pilgrimage Festival in Jerusalem called the Feast of Tabernacles that was instituted by God in Leviticus 23:33.

Its important to know this, all customs and traditions do not oppose God's plans or His Word.

Remember, Yeshua is a Jew. He will fulfill the Jewish custom of Simchat Beit HaShoevah, the water-drawing celebration of Sukkot (Tabernacles) pointing to the Spirit and Truth of the Word of God and the seven processions known as Hoshanahs, because while the procession is made as Revelation declares, we will all hear the seven trumpets and recite a prayer like the refrain: "Hosha na!" (Please save us!).

He will fulfill Trumpets, Yom Kippur and the seventh day of Sukkot called Hoshana Rabbah, which is known as the last of the Days of Judgment that begin on Trumpets Day and in the end He will lead the reading of the Torah on the night of Hoshana Rabbah, the seventh day of Tabernacles.

In the end, Jesus will all fulfill the holy days many call the Jewish holidays immediately following Sukkot known as Shemini Atzeret as Messiah Yeshua restores Jerusalem and the Lord's House of Prayer for all nations.  He will gather all the dispersed of Israel both Judah as well as the sojourners that will go with them just as it was at Sinai.

As promised by the Scriptures and many sages, King Messiah will repair our corrupt world, governing it in righteousness with the Torah as its constitution, the conduct code of the King but observing it does not open the gate to heaven.

With God's authority, Messiah will heal all nations and instruct the service of the God of Israel and all people will know Yeshua HaMashiach as the Melek Mĕlakîm (King of Kings).

It seems, perhaps with some humor built in that Rabbi Pinchas, the “woodcutter” of Koretz that lived in the 1700's knew something about the coming Hoshana Rabbah when he taught that one should bake an apple with the Hoshana branch in it to ward off tooth aches in the coming year. All pain will be done away with when Messiah returns.

If we dig within Paul's letters, we can see he teaches the Halakha of the Torah of God to be written on the heart to be taught by Yeshua. For examples from Paul's other letters read: 1Corinthians 7:10-11; 1Corinthians 9:14 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 14:34 and 1 Thessalonians11:23-25.

Paul's letters are only difficult when we do not understand they address the same opinions Yeshua opposed that were taught by certain men. He fulfilled the prophecy 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 Biblical and historic context, it is clear Paul was deeply concerned that legalistic rules taught by men from religious opinions that add to Torah can take us off the path because they propose a stumbling block of men's pride in place of the written Torah of God and its good news of God's everlasting love for all mankind while tossing aside mercy and lovingkindness under an observance of man-made tradition.

Paul 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 to faithfully fulfill the Lord’s will to establish His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven according to the priority of Scripture. Paul profoundly understood his former stony heart was missing the good news:
"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 a stony heart issue.

In 1955, another famous Jew, rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel elegantly provides 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."

This year, another Orthodox Rabbi asks a similar question: Do we need to focus more on Written Torah vs Talmud?

In his letters, Paul is preaching the same sermon, calling on God's Word as the teaching for love and respect as the place of engagement for all people. Paul differs in that he points to the Jewish witness of Messiah Yeshua to Jews and non-Jews.

Paul had confronted his own encrusted religious customs that divided people in religion and persecuted others instead of fulfilling the two greatest commands of Torah.

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

If you require more context on the labyrinth of cultural and historic conflicts at hand, perhaps there's something you may have never considered if you have 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 Greco-Roman Gentiles embedded in a pagan lifestyle that sacrificed sheep and cattle to their many mythic false-gods before they sold them in street markets. This public market system created conflict with the Biblically kosher lifestyle of the Jewish people that sought to honor The Father.

You may not know it, but many other remnants of false-god worship remain in plain sight today as we insist on retaining the names of our planets and their moons from their worthless Greco-Roman idol origins:
  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Mars 
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Uranus
  • Neptune
  • Pluto
Even the Moon has a lunar problem today, its name is taken from another fake deity Luna, the Roman goddess of the Moon. Only the heavens and the earth remain unpolluted with direct links to the old idols. The earth derives its name from the first verse in Scripture, it is the Hebrew word, erets אֶרֶץ and Heaven's name comes from shamayim שָׁמַיִם.

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

In the Roman Empire's not so ancient pagan culture, the Caesars were considered to have god-like status, this is known as the 'imperial cult' and it continues hidden yet embedded in our calendar's today. For example, July is named for Julius Caesar and August for Augustus Caesar. Today, week days are named after Norse idol-gods and even Saturday retains the name of Rome's false-god Saturn, aka Saturn's day.

Then of course there's the big one, Sun-day, named in honor of Sol Evictus, the sun god of the Roman Empire that was declared an official cult of the Romans on December 25, 274 AD by the Roman emperor Aurelian.

First the Babylonians, then the Egyptians, next the Greeks and the Romans. Each had a counterfeit cult system of religion to worship the Sun opposing Moses admonition in Deuteronomy 4:19. It all began in Babylon with Bel or Ba'al in Canaan and even Semiramis and Nimrod after their supposed deaths were worshipped as Ashterath and Tammuz.

That's why you find these names of abomination in Scripture.

Alexander Hislop in his book The Two Babylons writes: “... the Tower of Babel was actually the worship of Satan in the form of fire, the sun and the serpent. However, Satan worship could not be done openly because of the many who still believed in the true God of Noah. So a mystery religion began at Babel where Satan could be worshipped in secret.”

This is why Revelation 17:4-4 describes the religions of Babylon as the "mother" of harlots and of abominations as deities and sun-worship can be found throughout recorded history. It was in Babylon that Satan laid the foundation for every false religious system.

In Paul's day, the Greek Sun-god was called Helios. Later, as we have seen, the Roman religious cults worshipped Sol Invictus as the name of the sun-go morphed. The sun-gods have had different names but they were the same harlot 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.

It is disturbing that a remnant of false-idols still describe time on our 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 outlining God's plan for man's redemption and restoration.

Greco-Roman timekeeping from Babylon has caused many to not only lose track of time, and it has also led to an identity crisis. Moses' words were given to the descendants of Israel and the foreigners and sojourners with them: "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. Did you know that 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 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.

Sound confusing?

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, their idols of wood and stone are long gone, but think again... Ancient polytheistic cult idols based on debauchery, licentious sex, moral chaos and philosophy have not vanished, they have simply morphed and shape-shifted into other plastic and foam depending on location, language and culture.

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

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 only modern reality is that it is not real. Money is now just a few electronic digits, a row of electron idols called a credit or debit on a bank account and an investment is simply an electronic accumulation of ticker symbols on the stock market of a computer that can be cut off.
"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 has morphed into 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 strange doesn't it?

Now, it's time to leave the charms 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 founded in His lovingkindness. If you look at the Ten Commandments, you will notice 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 foundation stones of all of God's Torah.

If we look closely at Paul's 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 by not loving opposes the greatest commands of the Torah to love God first and to love others. Religious 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 caused by his prejudice and pride. When his eyes were opened he 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 in Arabia and relearned the priority in everyday relationship is to love God and 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 Paul was forgiven. He knew this because he was given an assignment to spread God's promise to the Gentiles.

How did Paul learn to know the heart of Abba Father for the sojourner and stranger? 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 that had returned to Rome after Claudius' expulsion of Jews from the city refused to eat meat for fear that it was defiled by idol worship as many became vegetarian because it eliminated the possibility of association with idol sacrifice.  Yet, the situation at hand was far beyond food and historic 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, return to Rome and 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 that needed to hear about God's love and His teaching and instruction. Rome was run by the Imperial Cult but the people there needed redemption.

Imagine yourself too as a former pagan saved by grace, yet now arrogant and against the Torah, the oracles of God recorded by the faithful Jewish people. Paul was concerned that Yeshua-believers could stumble just as I have done, but now realize the Torah, including its the set apart Sabbath Days and Feasts are gifts from Elohim God, days we get to celebrate and participate in as best we can because we love Almighty God.

This is the historic 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 that were 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 their emphasis on this 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 much like Karaite Judaism does today rejecting extra Biblical traditions in the lifestyle of Orthodox Judaism with a priority on the oral traditions of the rabbinic sages.

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

Biblical truth points to resurrection. This is shown when the prophet Elijah prayed and God raised a young boy from death in 1Kings 17:17-24), It is also seen in 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 the great divide of Sadducee and Pharisee, but there is much 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 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." 
Babylonian Talmud, Shabbath 31a

After the Temple was destroyed the first time, Pharisaic opinion started on the path to rabbinic Judaism.

After the Temple was destroyed the second time, the opinions of the early church fathers eroded the way of the faith of the disciples and turned against the Jewish people.

The Bible's core teaching is on God's character of mercy and lovingkindness, so we can see that Paul was deeply concerned that any man-made religion can potentially lead to impairing our love for each other, 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 described in Exodus 25, then you remain a slave to the traditions of men that have no merit in the gift of salvation.

Paul brings 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."
Chew on this for a moment... Have you ever considered that when writing of "days" in his letter to those in Rome, Paul was not speaking of the weekly Sabbath or the Feast Days of The Lord first revealed to the world in the Torah scroll of Exodus?

That will fly in the face of whatever replacement theology you may have been taught, but you should know this: The Lord's "holy" set apart days are always described in the Hebrew Scriptures with a connection to their names given by Almighty God. The same is true of the Newer Testament writings but they are not new really just commentary on the originals. Names such as Feast or Passover, Unleavened Bread and all of God's appointed Sabbath days when used are never referenced simply as "days."

The reason, God's appointed days are holy set-apart days. In reverence, Paul's letters and the book of Acts also reference The Lord's set-apart appointments by the names Elohim gave them. 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 the pagan culture of the Greco-Roman Empire, we must realize that there was a long standing debate between the Biblical calendar and Roman time keeping. So, without question, days were debated, so much so, the Roman idol driven calendar changed several times in the window of time between the foundation of Rome and the fall of the Roman Empire.

Compounding this issue on time keeping, we must 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 today. That is the "day" issue Paul wrote about as Rome's calendar and mandatory seven-day work-week conflicted with the Scriptural command to keep the Sabbath and all of the Feast Day Sabbaths of The Lord.

If you are not familiar with Rome's debate over 'days' think again and consider history and the debates about time, and ask why on earth 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 is shown in the writings of 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 the pagan 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 could to be heard in court and "dies nefasti" when they could not be heard. Not only that, there were "dies comitiales" when public assemblies known as "comitia" were only permitted.

Can you imagine trying to honor God's word as best your could 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 their "fasti" calendar to allow a Roman day of rest with a Biblically ordained appointment and assembly?

The early Roman calendar needs to be understood if we want to understand the context of Paul.

Consider this too, Paul may have been pointing toward differing opinions on the timing of the New Year. Ask the question and your answer will be it depends but God says Nisan not Tishrei. There is also Jewish debate on the day by day counting up to the festival of Pentecost aka Shavuot. That is a debate which existed between the Pharisees and the Sadducees in Paul's day over the meaning of the "Sabbath" noted in Leviticus 23:15-16.

Believe it or not, this ages Jewish debate remains today.

Another calendar debate is the counting of the Jubilee Year. The 50 days of counting up to the appointed day Shavuot has likely been a rabbinic debate since the exile to Babylon despite the fact that each Sabbath to The Lord is defined in Leviticus 23. Check it out for yourself.

First of all, a Sabbath is defined: "the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the LORD."

Then The Lord declares the way to count to 50 days: "you shall also count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete Sabbaths."

Looks simple enough.

It appears God's focus on the seven Sabbath count cycles right back to the weekly Sabbath. After all, He declares the end from the beginning. The counting begins after the seventh day of the week which is a Sabbath... the countdown starts the day after the Sabbath that follows First Fruits. The Bible says: "on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave the first fruits harvest" and it shows us this is after the 40 year exodus ends by crossing over the Jordan into the promised land (Leviticus 23:10).

That means the celebration of First Fruits and the counting did not begin at Mount Sinai, so the reality is this: neither did Shavuot. These appointments began only after the 40 year journey and they tied to the Sabbath and the harvest from the promised land, not the first day of Unleavened Bread, the 15th day of the first month of Abib (Nisan) which is declared to be a day of rest.

The point: an appointed day of rest is not always a weekly Sabbath. But on God's calendar every special day set apart and called a Sabbath is a day of rest, and one stands out: it is Yom Kippur and (see Leviticus 23:32). This Sabbath day of rest is different that the other appointed days. It is not a celebration, it a somber day, a day of affliction.

My question on this is the debate of counting up to Shavuot is difficult. Is it the debate with men or with the Bible? The questions are: for Pentecost (Shavuot) are we to count 49 days after the weekly 7th day Sabbath or does the instruction to count up to the 50th day of Shavuot begin after the first day rest of Unleavened Bread?

In other words, is the 15th of Nisan, the first day of Unleavened Bread which is  a day of rest also a Sabbath?

The Sadducees based their view on the "weekly" Sabbath and counted after that first weekly Sabbath following the beginning of the week of Unleavened Bread, the day after the eve of Passover.  On today's Greco Roman calendar the Sadducees counting began on a Sunday, the 1st day of each week.

However, the Pharisees based their view on a tradition that counted only after the first day of Unleavened Bread each year no matter what day of the week it was, because they declared it a Sabbath although Leviticus 23 does not.

Read Leviticus 23:9-14 for yourself,  how are we to count the days?

There is a similar ancient argument about the Jubilee Year counting from the Lord's appointed day of Yom Kippur. The Jubilee is the 50th year, but the debate is this: is the first of 50 years included as the first year in the counting up to the next Jubilee or does it stand alone as year 50 and when it is complete, do we then start the first year?

Read Leviticus 25:8-12, how are we to count the years?

There's another rabbinic tradition that declares the first day of Tishre as Rosh Hashanah, or literally, beginning of the year. According to Merriam Webster the term was never used until 1594.

The Bible says: "Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you." Exodus 12:1-2

That first month is Abib also known as Nisan and Esther 3:7 confirms it. It is the day first new day of the first month described in Genesis 8:13. Tishrei is actually the seventh month of the Biblical year.

Enough on calendar debates.

Let's get back to the Galatian question about circumcision as a requirement for conversion... some preached a tradition that unless Gentiles were circumcised, they cannot become "a people for God's name." See Acts 15:13-18 for more on the argument. Paul's reference points to Amos 9:11-2 which the prophet borrowed from the prophet Nathan whose words are recorded in 2 Samuel 7:8-17.

In the Jerusalem counsel meeting, James aka Yacob also paraphrased the message from Amos and he quoted Amos 9:11 which is a verse from the prophet about the restoration of Israel as Amos too pointed toward Nathan's words in 2 Samuel 7:8-17. These are supported by 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' message in Jerusalem reverberated the words of its annointed 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
With a Hebrew focus on the word salvation, those words proclaim the good news of His salvation and say: proclaim the gospel of Yeshua.

The religious conversion requirement by circumcision debate was raised by the Pharisees in Acts 15... "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

With the help of the proper context of the issues at hand, we can better understand the reason the Pharisee Paul that taught against that particular takkanah agreed to go to Jerusalem with Barnabas in the first place to meet with the disciples regarding the issue of whether circumcision was required for a Gentile non-Jew to become a proselyte child of God. Together, they discussed the Scriptures but...

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

The reason is a Bible basic, but something has been lost in translation in a sermon or two because a careful reading of Acts 15 reveals that they did not say that a person coming into the faith without circumcision "should" not be circumcised. The issue at hand that the council dealt with was about what pagan basics were to be turned away from including things contaminated by idols, formication, eating strangled animals and so on.

If you think Acts 15 changed the commandments, you might Paul was confused about the council conclusion when he penned Romans 3:1-12:
"Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect."
Did Paul then break "the rules" in the very next chapter by circumcising Timothy and preaching the decrees of Torah are to kept as plainly written in Acts 16?

No, he did not.

Don't forget, Timotheus (aka Timothy) was the son of a father that was Greek, a Gentile. His upbringing in his father's house was the reason Timothy had not been circumcised until he met Paul and learned that the ways of Torah are good and to be kept, not for salvation from death's sin penalty, but out of respect, worship and love for God and His teaching and instruction which is The Lord's Kingdom constitution.

Timothy left his childhood home:
"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
With a perspective on the context of culture, the Scriptures and the covenant of the Ten Commandments, Acts 15 and 16 provide a foundational priority that the counsel of apostles and elders agreed on as the basic training for Gentiles coming into faith from paganism should stop doing immediately because they reeked of the smell of a pagan idol lifestyle.

After all, the new believing Gentiles were coming out of Greco-Roman infused idol worship focused on four pagan traditions:
"...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 irreverent pagan life were never intended to be the sum of all the ways of God to be learned by Gentiles over time because the apostles that met in Jerusalem frankly assumed that God's ways would be learned each Sabbath in the weekly synagogue teachings as the Scriptures would be read and taught to those that had never heard them before.

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

Think about it this way... could a beginner start golf 
by teeing it up in The Masters, 
could a flag footballer play quarterback in the Super Bowl, 
would a first year med student perform a heart transplant? 
No way!!

I enjoy golf, but it would be a very cruel joke to ask any rank beginner to start playing from the back tees at TPC Sawgrass, much less learn to play in front of tens of thousands at Augusta National.

The raw, untrained beginner would immediately become discouraged in the first round and likely quit the game before finishing the 18th hole. Good advice always starts with a few basics. The important thing is to fall in love with the game first, learn the four basics of the grip, stance, posture and alignment then and only then move on to advanced training over time to learn how the game should be played by playing it. Bobby Jones, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus all did this. Not only that, throughout their competitive careers, they all had teachers they could trust and emulate to go beyond the basics.

In Paul's day as today, the way to learn Scripture and walk in God's instruction is the same, it takes time.

Since the days of Ezra and Nehemiah. the Scriptures were systematically taught in cycles of public reading every Sabbath for training in righteousness.

Paul and the counsel of disciples in Jerusalem understood this, so much so they took it for granted that others would follow the ages old process of learning and incorporating God's word into daily life and decision through a faith training we call discipleship. That's why Paul wrote these words to Timothy long before the New Testament was ever compiled:
"You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Messiah Yeshua. 
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:14-17
One week at a time, one Sabbath at a time is how the disciples and apostles had all learned the Scriptures and their Biblical training was the same way Yeshua taught as described in Luke 4:16.

For the disciples, weekly Scripture study in a congregation was like eating bread, you never swallow the loaf all at once, you chew one bite at a time and sustain life and grow in faith, equipped for every good work.

A big reason for gathering with others to hear the Word of Elohim God is that everyday people did not own a family Bible, after all, there were no printing presses for another 1,600 years. So, the Jewish men that met in Jerusalem outlined four basic priorities for those that had not grown up hearing God's Word each week.

Paul and the disciples were basically relying on the weekly study of Scripture for those Gentiles formerly participating in a hedonistic pagan lifestyle that required them to: 1) sacrifice to idols and 2) eat raw meat or blood, eat animals that were strangled rather than properly butchered while engaging in 3) illicit sexual immorality in heathen worship to their false-gods and goddesses born out of Egypt and Babylon.

These faithful Jewish men we call apostles all agreed to four basics for beginners because just as Acts 15:21 says, they all knew the balance of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings would be read and taught to the Gentiles every Sabbath and they understood the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14 included turning from wicked ways:
"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 over time, learned all Believers must act as the King acts, walk as the King walks, and talk as the King talks. The disciples knew the Biblical principles on how to do that would be taught in due course when the Scriptures were read, studied and experienced as God's instruction manual for the good life in God's Kingdom.

The disciples also knew that even the least of the commandments would not be set aside in the synagogue, this was a teaching of Yeshua. Don't even set the smallest instruction aside:
"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
Today, the weekly Sabbath reading of Scripture portions for a remnant has become a part of the restoration of the fallen tabernacle of David. The question we must ask then is: what on earth happened? If this was "the way" the disciples of Yeshua 2,000 years ago learned the ways of righteousness, why does the mainstream "church" today not meet on the Sabbath or even teach the Torah, The Prophets and the Writings like Jesus did?

Why aren't we acting in the King's customs, walking as the King walked, and teaching as the King taught?

Stop and think about that for awhile, study Scripture and church history... and you will uncover the answer.

Paul's ministry to the nations (aka Gentiles) was about life in Messiah Yeshua's promise of redemption by God's lovingkindness first, yet as a lifelong student of Scripture, he agreed that learning about the Kingdom lifestyle outlined by the teaching of Torah takes time and training.

If the four guidelines of Acts 15 were the only rules for righteous living for the "church" then why do we have laws against murder and theft? Why don't we just teach our children that disobedience of parents is fine or that lying, adultery and cult idol worship are OK, after all there's grace, or do we?

We all know murder and mayhem are wrong, yet we ignore The Lord's Sabbaths. Why?

Paul became expert in the new covenant, the "Torah of the heart" and his letters reflect this. Not only that, he also knew the teachings of the 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 historic culture conflicting with the pagan setting in the days of Paul of Tarsus, you 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 words say I have lived, not I used to. The Pharisees upheld the Torah and they upheld the Scriptural promise of resurrection and Messiah. 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 explained with authority including the amazing Sermon on the Mount.

We can know Paul upheld the Torah in his faith in the Messiah of Israel simply because he professed it:
"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 wrote against his own prior prideful prejudice that was not upholding the Torah of God as a Believer in the resurrected Jewish Messiah. Before He saw the light of Messiah and heard Him on the Damascus road, he led religious persecution against those Jews that were called "The Way."

His new found heart message was simple, don't exchange the gracious mercy gift of a life-changing relationship with The Father for religious works required by men in a vain attempt to try to earn merit with God. Redemption by the works of the religious laws that add or take away from God's word are not God's way for the gift of salvation.

Like Daniel was promised, in the latter days "knowledge will increase."

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 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 used 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 are obviously typified by the 20 or so religious precepts (Halakha) 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 is a latter day miracle and the MMT fragments clear up one aspect of the often clouded picture of Paul's letters that reveal he realized religious efforts to achieve righteousness will never earn anyone redemption as he referenced the works of the law like those recorded by the Essenes. Paul understood Exodus and that salvation form slavery occurred before the Torah was ever given to Moses.
"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 first 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 or ever read the New Testament. Hold on to your pew, but he never went to church on Sunday as many believe, and he did not turn against Torah, the faith of Messiah Yeshua or the Jewish people, but he was concerned with some but NOT ALL traditions or oral laws. Some are very good and revealed in the ministry of Messiah.

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

Like Peter, he learned God holds no hostility, no division nor opinion of one person being holier than thou... for all have sinned. He learned salvation for everyone starts with faith just as Peter learned to not to continue to hold his prejudice against the Gentiles. Both men learned salvation is given by God's lovingkindness and grace for all people, 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, like Peter learned that a Gentile did not have to become a Jew to be a part of God's covenant.

As we have seen, Paul learned this truth after the bright light on the road to Damascus opened his eyes to God's plan for mankind. 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."

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 men of "un-circumcision."

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.

This heart lesson was the same one Peter learned from his vision on that rooftop in Joppa before he met with the Centurion from Caesarea. His name was Cornelius and he loved the Jewish people. Peter went to meet him with six other Jews and all seven including Peter were awestruck and amazed as the Holy Spirit poured out on the uncircumcised Roman Cornelius, his family and friends.

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

But Paul's heart was changed, God's new covenant was now written on it and like Peter, he learned that religious works as a means to salvation by conversion would lead to persecution that is blind to God's goodness and unfailing love for all people through The Father's covenant with Abraham and His character revealed atop Mount Sinai to Moses.

Simply put, both men learned one's heritage does not merit righteousness or God's salvation by who we are or 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 after 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 from 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 by 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, God's glory is unity (echad) in the royal law to love God and each other, both Jew and Gentile. Yet, this "middle wall of separation" is still dividing hearts and minds today.

In a way, we can see the separation refers to the Torah inscribed by Moses and the living Torah Yeshua Messiah. Many have rejected the Jewish people and rejected the Torah saying it is old and done away in a church that believes it has replaced the Jewish people. Yet, Yeshua is the living Torah because He lived the Torah. If we reject it don't we reject His Jewishness?

Division is symbolized by the wall in the Temple courtyard that separated the court of the Goyim (Gentiles) from the court of Yehudah (the Jews).

After Paul heard Yeshua's voice, he realized...

Messiah's purpose, formerly a mystery, is to bring Heaven to earth by reconciling people. 

That includes the Gentiles (Goyim) restoration with the Jewish (Yehuda) people as one (echad), one new man in one ancient faith focused on friendship and love of Messiah as King. His Torah path of righteous living, the constitution of His Kingdom is for the household of all Elohim's children no matter who they are.

Paul taught the Ephesians this storyline of The Kingdom mystery of Messiah that is inclusive for all nations to be like Abraham and "cross over" in obedience and love for The Father and each other on Earth as it is in Heaven. That is the blessing of Torah.

Paul realized that Jacob did this when his relationship with his brother Esau was reconciled (see Genesis 33).

Everyone, whether Jew or not should seek restoration though the mediation of the anointed Messiah King and be spiritually revived, then follow the instruction and teaching of Scripture as a witness for Messiah and love for our Creator God of Hosts. Paul revealed 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 taught lawlessness against the God's teaching in the instruction of Torah, he never spoke against faithful Jewish people who sought wisdom in the oracles of God, nor did he ever teach against the 1,000 or so commandments anyone can find in the Newer Testament writings that expound on the message of Torah to reveal the heart of God's lovingkindness and expectation for His children to walk together in a servant's heart of righteous love.

The disciple John like Paul, taught from Isaiah in total agreement on this:
"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 Galatian letter combats his former longstanding, un-biblical notion of ignoring God's mercy and grace that had infiltrated the community, a teaching not found in Torah that to be considered a child of God, you had to become a proselyte by first being circumcised to be considered righteous and accepted. He opposed this religious "work" as a prerequisite 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 the heart of Torah, that no person, Jew, Greek or in between is ever worthy of salvation's righteousness by one's own deeds. He realized and taught that righteousness before God, is a gift given through repentant faith and belief in the life blood, freewill 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 Messiah Yeshua's worthiness not ours, but Paul also knew there is richness in a worthy walk in God's instruction for life in His Kingdom.

Paul realized some 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 opinions that led many to ignore the authority of Scripture.

In fact, in response to these issues, 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 that only the original manuscripts of the Bible are the inspired words of God standing as the final judge of truth in all areas of life, not men's religious opinion.

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

Paul taught that religious tradition could expel 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 his 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 if it opposes God's Word, can miss the heart and goal of Torah to show the world God's mercy and lovingkindness. That was the issue. Lovingkindness was missing because in those days tradition did not allow a Jew to even walk, talk or befriend a Gentile just as Peter once believed.

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 heart of the Galatian letter, consider the mixture of differing 'church' traditions embedded in the thousands of denominational doctrines prevalent within a wide spectrum of opinion infused 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 still exists today in plain sight as the root of faith in God is buried in a myriad of opposing denominational differences never found in Scripture.

Not to pick a bone with anyone in particular but only as an example, consider a doctrine of a denomination teaching that a person must be first baptized in water in order to be saved. This is yet another promotion of Augustine that resulted in his promotion of child baptism by water sprinkling has resulted in heated debates much like the issue of circumcision as a requirement for salvation that Paul wrote about. Not only that, like the issue of circumcision, this salvation requirement of baptism poses a manmade dilemma for one that believes on Yeshua as the Messiah but receives no baptism.

The thing is Jesus was Jesus before He was ever baptized at the Jordan River. Think about that for a minute or two.

Baptism or "mikvah" properly follows salvation as a witness of a changed life, but like circumcision baptism is not a pre-condition deed required to be eligible for God's salvation.

Baptism is commanded by Yeshua as an outward sign of a servant under God's authority in heaven over sin on earth. When Messiah was mikvah-ed, aka baptized by John in the living water of the river, He said: "for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness."

Water immersion represents fulfilling righteousness in the Word of God, the process of new life from death fittingly symbolizes the glory power of God to cleanse and cover (atone) the death penalty of sin and it points to the promise of resurrection to restored life in righteousness (see Matthew 3:16, Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 1:8, Luke 3:16, John 1:33 and Acts 2:38).

If you have heard or follow other denominational doctrines that are declared for church "membership" you might see that are not that far from the Pharisee's views on circumcision. Think long and hard about this too: if all the denominations of today and their requirements for "membership" 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 against denominational teachings that add to and take away from God's words.

Just as it was in Paul's day, it's time to re-examine religious tradition and line up our denominational dogmas and doctrines against the straight plumb-line of Scripture. Its time to let go of anything in your life, whether sin or custom that opposes "the way" of life Torah teaching of the anointed one, Yeshua of Nazareth.

If we will just step back for a moment, we might see that denominational doctrines also separate us like the Pharisee and Sadducee of Paul's day. 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 the best example to understand about diverse theology that differs from God's Word is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher located just a few hundred feet from the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem. The church building there is believed by many to be the site of Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection despite the fact that other locations for the crucifixion include Golgotha as well as locations for the burial and resurrection. These include the Garden Tomb and Talpiot tomb sites carved from the limestone bedrock in the area.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher location was established by Constantine's mother Helena in the 4th century. Believe it or not, access to this old church building in Jerusalem is governed today by a Muslim family that literally holds the keys to the church door while six denominations with widely varying doctrines maintain distinctly separate traditional services there.

These denominations include Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, as well as Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox and Ethiopian Tewahedo. These six can teach us about Paul's Galatian letter. Which of these divided denominational groups would Paul choose to "join" if he were living in Jerusalem today? I know that's a difficult question but the answer should be obvious - none of them!

If we look at differences in denominational dogmas that separate rather than bring people together as "one" in Messiah, the living Torah in the flesh, we might begin to understand the dilemma of "hostility" and the "stumbling stones" of opinion that existed in Paul's day. These stones of hostility have not disappeared over time, they have multiplied. 

You do not have to travel back in time or go to Jerusalem to ask the question, why the letter to the Galatians?

All you need do is drive around any city or town and look around at the host of different denominations near you. If you want to ultimate proof and you have the time, money and means, simply go to home base. Book a flight to Jerusalem and visit the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Have you ever visited "different" church denominations or even Jewish synagogues comprised of a variety of movements? If not, why not, do you shy away because they do not "believe" as you do?

If you will take on the challenge to visit other denominations, sooner or later you will likely be asked to undergo doctrinal training or conversion so that you will be eligible to become a tithe paying "member."

Now, step back for a moment and ask: why is membership needed, and why do creeds, confessions and statements of faith vary so widely?

What happened to the book of life?

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" Paul described:
"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
Perhaps now you can understand the faith dilemma of the Galatians!

Paul said, "if you are Messiah's then you are then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to the promise." Perhaps you are beginning to see the bricks in the walls of separation that are held by the mortar of doctrines that create division and oppose what Paul describes as "one new man" establishing peace and reconciliation to God (Ephesians 2:15) and "heirs according to the promise" given Abraham.

Paul did not come up with a new religion. He knew the word of The Lord given 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 written "in" our hearts has its foundation on God's character of mercy and lovingkindness. The new covenant written inside the heart was foreshadowed by Moses when he set the tablets inside the heart of the Tabernacle after his return trip:
"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 today's religious difference and tradition, they offer a time portal of understanding for you to see the truth because 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. He learned to teach what the Torah teaches, but it took a vision from God to show him the truth although he walked with Yeshua for years. After Peter's eyes were opened, he then wrote of one faith, "a" royal priesthood, "a" holy nation, "a" people, not many. Like Paul, 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 through God's 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, is about a royal priesthood from God's mercy and it is for you to proclaim the excellencies of Him and be blessed by the same faith promise given Abraham declared in the same Tanakh (Hebrew Scriptures) that Jesus the Jew taught. After all, the Torah was given to Israel AND the aliens and sojourners with them.

They were "all" called out by God.

Paul and Peter are two 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 that prayer is the same no matter who you are:
"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 how the Father wants as you worship Him and love others in mercy and grace. The Torah does not need a religious fence around it and this is Paul's message.

God does not need our religious dogma to help Him govern the universe.

The Bible shows us from the beginning to the end that God is seeking people with a repentant heart that choose to walk after Him.

This is the 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 was 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. 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 way in he taught can be difficult to understand so 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 this too, 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 can be a big problem for the people in the pew if it teaches against God's instruction in righteousness.

Paul's teaching about the Torah and God's heart has been interpreted. That was what Peter said 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 if we are to ever understand them, and to do so we must dig into God's Word. 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 is to focus first on a repentant relationship with God first with faith in Messiah – not in the religious doctrines of men that can mislead us if we seek them in exchange for God's mercy.

Remember, Moses instructs all people not to add to God's instruction or subtract from it and that's the bedrock of Paul's letters. Replacement theology in any form has no place in The Kingdom of God.

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 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 religious control. The fact is, the Galatians that Paul met came from neo-pagan worship, they were "non-Jews" assimilated in ancient Greek and Roman lifestyle before Paul arrived with other brothers in faith.

Before they met Paul, many 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, the Greeks, like the Romans, worshipped false-gods and followed the dark 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 Christmas and Easter although they are not found in the Bible, 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 proper 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 like Abraham.

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 Israel.

So, I will say it again, Paul is not trying to do away with Torah, circumcision or start a new religion. He never did, nor did Yeshua who upholds God's Torah and He will fulfill it, all of it, even the fall feast of judgment day aka Yom Kippur.

Some say Paul started a new religion replacing the old with the new and that his letters prove it, yet the fact is Paul uses all of his learning from the front of the Bible to prove God's mercy and grace. In all of he letters, Paul always uses the highest commands of Torah and prophet-based proof for his positions. Each passage is built on the context of the Tanach.

Not understanding that is the ignorance that the disciple Peter warned of and it only causes destruction and really bad preaching.

That's why Peter warns that ignorant and unstable people distort Paul's letters, as they do the other Scriptures. Peter's message is 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 teaching of Messiah that causes the Torah to abound.

It's not easy but Paul can show you how.  Believe the Torah, it is from the voice of God. It teaches the big picture that a person can only be justified before God not by works but by faith, atonement and God's own redeeming mercy and 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, again 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:
“For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” Romans 2:28-29
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 and 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 as a bond servant.

Messiah Yeshua didn’t come to replace Israel. He came to find them and fulfill the Torah, make it abound so that the Jewish disciples could become a royal priesthood to teach the world about the Kingdom of God. Yeshua 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 a faithful assembly.

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 man from Nazareth, Jesus always instructed his followers how they could live in a Heavenly way as He explained the meaning of Torah and the sayings that supported it.

 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 again as He did before. 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 Godfilled 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?

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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