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Sunday, December 6, 2020

Red Letter Words - Are They New?

Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch (1877)

If we take a step back, look and listen carefully to the four accounts now called the gospels as well as Luke's report in the book of Acts, we might take note that the record we call the gospels only mentions about 50 days of Jesus' life, that's about it.

Often, the reports include snippets of information with the exception of a few days about the one whose real name is Yeshua. 

One of those exceptional days is the big crowd teaching described in Matthew 5-7 and much of it is echoed in Luke's report. 

Yet, the words written and spoken about Him over the past 1,900 years are impossible to count as are His deeds that are not recorded by the men that learned from Him: 

"Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written." John 21:25

The Sermon on the Mount is the first teaching. 

Many people believe the sermon lays out the basics for a new religion. I writing about that because many who have read it don't recognize the foundation of Yeshua's historic teaching despite all the words written about Him. 

The problem is the heart of the sermon is hidden when we think the Bible has a divide with a blank page.

For example, if we fast forward past the sermon to Matthew 11:28-30 we see this: 

"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Some say Jesus easy yoke teaches that keeping the law [aka Torah] is old and heavy and amounts to a “heavy burden” of legalism, and that the law of God recorded by Moses was done away with at the cross and replaced by grace.

Well, here's the thing: Yeshua was not teaching that, He was repeating a very old Moses message. 

Yeshua's teaching is "you can do it." 

He was explaining a basic mitzvah principle found in the Torah. In fact, His view matches the definition of "gelimut ḥasidim" from the Encyclopedia Judaica. "Gelimut ḥasidim" is literally translated as "the bestowal of lovingkindness." It is "the most comprehensive and fundamental of all Jewish social virtues, which encompasses the whole range of the duties of sympathetic consideration toward one's fellow man." 

Moses was the first to say "you can do it" in his last sermon. 

Flashback 3,500 years to the land of Moab just outside Israel. There on the plain before everyone but Moses crossed over the Jordan River following the Ark of The Covenant, you'll find Moses preaching his last sermon. It was a big revival repeating the terms of the covenant The LORD gave at Horeb (Mount Sinai). 

Check it out, Deuteronomy 30:11-14 as Moses declares this:

"For this commandment [mitzvah] that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 
It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?' 
But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it."

You can do it!

Now, let's dig deeper into the background of the first known sermon in the Galilee. 

The mountain gives us a big hint. The message in that location is important because it points us back up to the book of Genesis where we first learn that mountains are a big deal in the Bible. It starts with the Torah's account about Noah and his family's salvation from death and destruction because he followed The Lord's instruction. 

After the global flood, a disaster that's still evidenced by fossils at mountaintops across the planet and a rainbow when it rains, Noah climbed down out of the wooden ark and set foot on a mountainside after the waters subsided. Years later, his great grandson Abraham heard God's voice at a mountain that saved his son Isaac. Fast forward to Moses. He first saw God's glory presence in a burning bush at the mountain of Horeb. Later, along with everyone else that walked out of Egypt, both sojourner and native born heard Almighty God declare the Ten Commandments on that same mountain. 

To top it off, Moses' last mountain climb with Almighty God was at Mount Nebo. 

Years later, king David purchased a mountain top where it is thought that in uncomprising faith Abraham offered up his son Isaac at Mount Moriah but he was spared. Today, it's known as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. David told Araunah the Jubusite: “No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing. So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them."

Time passed and Elijah the prophet heard God's whisper at Mount Horeb and at Mount Carmel he Elijah called on Almighty God in a face off with the fake priests of Baal. 

The mountain pattern is clear and present throughout the Bible.

The Sermon on the Mount occurred just after Yeshua left His childhood home of Nazareth and moved up to to Capernaum in the heritage territory of Zebulun and Naphtali. It was the same spot where the Assyrians arrived taking the ten northern tribes into captivity nearly 800 years earlier in the double golden calf days of Jeroboam and Ephraim.

Before we dig into the red letter words given on that mountain in the Galilee of the nations and the  foundation of that sermon, let's make a detour to Jerusalem at the Temple Mount and take a step toward to a teaching there noted in Matthew 21:23. 

This time the Master's teaching did not begin with the big crowds that followed Yeshua. 

This teaching was private on the Temple Mount. It started with a series of parables shared with the chief priests and the elders of the Pharisees (aka Rabbi's). Like the Sermon on the Mount, it included a focus on The Kingdom of God. 

Yeshua's parables continued as the Sadducees showed up (see Matthew 22). They joined the discussion but not really, the Sadducees wanted to stir up some old arguments with the Pharisees and debate the promise of resurrection. Unlike the Pharisees, the sect of the Sadducees denied God's power and glory would be revealed in resurrection. 

They didn't think God could do it. Their view was that this life is it, take it or leave it, there's no world to come, no restitution of all things, no restoration or in Hebrew, no HaOlam HaBa. In Matthew 13:13 Yeshua said, "This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand."

Bottom line, the Sadducees were “out of bounds” and destroyed the Torah's gospel of the Kingdom promise (more on that later).

There were many religious opinions and arguments in Yeshua's day just as there are today. Not only that, the Pharisees weren't in agreement with each other. 

In Jesus' day these men represented two major forerunners of Rabbinic Judaism. The disagreements were divided among the school of Hillel and the school of Shammai. Each argued and debated about manmade religious regulations and because they did not agree, there were two major schools of thought. 

Yeshua dealt with some of them that day at the Temple Mount. 

He cleared the mountain air as His coaching continued. A crowd started to arrive with some of His disciples. The admonitions Yeshua taught that day with parables were like Moses' words against adding to or taking from the heart of the Torah (see Deuteronomy 12:32). Moses went on the explain that doing so is akin to idol worship.

Yeshua called religious adds and deletes that oppose God's goal for a Kingdom walk the opposite of "you can do it," he called them "heavy burdens... hard to bear." The essence of His teaching was that halakha must rely on Scripture. 

Yeshua was warning that burdens of Takkanot that had arisen from the elders can impede the ways of the Kingdom of God. The reason was that some Pharisees had laid heavy burdens on people with their own religious regulations and in doing so, they uprooted the you can do it Torah of God with religious authority established by men. 

Yeshua called religious rule that superseded God's voice... Torahlessness. Yeshua' lessons were focused on God's heart and character. Hosea 6:1 explains it: "For I desire covenantal mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."

The reason God said that to Hosea is another Bible basic, it takes a sin for a sin sacrifice and God hates sin.

Yet, Jesus never said "all" rabbinic decisions (Takkanot) were a problem. Instead, He was pointing out that religious rule by Takkanot that supersedes God's written Torah is a problem. The reason: if manmade religious obligations neglect the weightier matters of God's Torah of justice, mercy and faithfulness, then heavy burdens of Takkanot can cause us to stumble in our Torah walk of grace. 

The big midrash moment of clarity at the Temple Mount is found in Matthew 23 with a focus on the Torah's expression of God's gifts of forgiveness, mercy and faithfulness.

Now, let's go back to the setting of the teaching on that mountain in the Galilee because it's important. 

You may have not noticed it before, but to set the scene we have to know the location was in the same area that the ten northern tribes turned their backs on the Torah of God and created their own religious ways infested with pagan idolatry. They were led by Jeroboam as he substituted God's voice with his own in an adopted, twisted religion. 

How did Jeroboam get to be in charge? Solomon made a mistake. He had noticed that Jeroboam was industrious so he put him in charge over the "forced labor" of the house (descendants) of Joseph. 

Yup, you read that right - forced labor. Jeroboam was a taskmaster, not over a bunch of rag tag drifters looking for a job, but THE descendants of Joseph. It was the same in Egypt, but instead of Jeroboam, there was a Pharaoh that didn't know Joseph. Neither did Jeroboam.

What on earth was Solomon thinking?

Not only that, just like the Pharaoh, Jeroboam had his own brand of a replacement religion that was based on the theory that the Torah of God was old and done away with, at least he thought it so.

Jeroboam ended up building his own pagan-inspired shrines, he even placed two golden idol-calves in them in a flash back to the mega sin of the golden calf idolatry at the Mount Sinai during the exodus from Egypt. Jeroboam even established his own version of holidays in the Galilee and the ten northern tribes followed along. 

Who knows, perhaps they assumed they were just for Jewish people.

Does any of this ring a bell or two? 

Their holidays were Torah-less counterfeits and were rooted in pagan traditions. They turned their backs on The LORD's Sabbath and the Feasts of The LORD that had been honored for centuries. After Jeroboam became king over the Northern Kingdom and began to paganize worship, 1 Kings 12:25-33 tells us he turned against David's family of Judah, the Priesthood of The Lord as well as The Lord's Feasts and established his own.

It should if you know a thing about church history including the strange fire origins of Christmas and Easter as substitutes. No need to believe me, you should get out of the pew and do your own research on the origins of these two church ordained days. While you're at it, you might take a side trip to learn about Valentine's Day, Halloween and even the obelisk steeples on many church buildings that can be traced back to Constantine and thousands of years earlier to Egypt and the pagan worship of the sun god Ra. One of the originals from Egypt remains at the center of Saint Peter’s Square in the Vatican. It was brought to Rome by Caligula in 37 AD and relocated to the Vatican in the late 1500's. 

Bottomline, what goes around comes around.

You can read more about Jeroboam, the taskmaster of Joseph's descendants also known as Manasseh and Ephraim in the books of Kings and Chronicles.  There you'll find that Jeroboam mixed in some very old ways of idolatry from the pagan religions of Egypt and Babylon that were practiced by his new priests over Israel.

Now fast forward a thousand years, Yeshua was there at the crime scene to set matters straight.

The red letter foundational truths given on that mountain above the Galilee are in plain sight if we will just take off our Greco-Roman sunshades with an open heart to the messages of the Bible that Yeshua taught from the Torah. 

The heart of that sermon is justice, mercy and faithfulness.  

Being unfamiliar with this foundation of Yeshua's teaching from the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) can set us on the wrong path where we can inherit and fall for deception. 

We have to repent and remember Yeshua quoted God's voice and none of His teachings are new. 

The red letter reality is that the Master Rabbi's sermon is rooted in an unwavering commitment to the words of righteousness in the voice of our Heavenly Abba Father recorded by Moses and the Prophets. 

You can find some foundation facts about that in Isaiah 55 as well in the Psalms including Psalm 37. Not only there but the whole Bible, the same Bible, the Tanach that Yeshua read and taught in synagogues as was His custom each Sabbath (see Luke 4:16) as the outline of that sermon.  

If you are brave enough to step up and climb the mountain with Yeshua and listen to learn from His voice, the hidden treasures in the sermon are that Yeshua never said a thing about starting a new religion or knocking the Torah off the bema.

We can know that -- because He said so in that Sermon on the Mount... 

To get a handle on that,  we just have to reset, repent and set aside new religion tradition and open our eyes with our hearts. You'll realize not a jot or tittle of the Torah was ever done away with by Yeshua's teachings. Yeshua said that in His first sermon because the two witnesses of God's Torah, heaven and earth declared by God's voice in Genesis 1:1⁠–⁠2:3  remain. 

When Yeshua spoke about that, He was repeating what Moses had written. You can find it in Deuteronomy 4:24-26 and Deuteronomy 30:19-20. 

The thing Yeshua taught on that mountain is that a Torah walk includes not just what we do, but our inward motives.

The heart has always been the Torah's baseline, and many have missed the evidence in plain sight. The problem then and now is this: the heart of the Torah is ignored by a few so-called religious men so people are confused. So, Yeshua set the Torah record and taught how the written Torah of God should cut like a sword into our bad attitudes. When it does, we "get to" walk in the image of God like a Royal Priesthood should in keeping with Exodus 19:5-6.

To set the record straight on the theory of a New Testament religion, Jesus wasn't Roman Catholic, Anglican or Protestant and He wasn't a Baptist or Methodist either. He never taught replacement theology. 

The Jewish Master Rabbi held a yeshiva time on that mountain. His students and the people he met along the way all called Him Rabbi. He was fully Torah observant. He honored the Sabbaths and even wore a tallit as prescribed in Numbers 15 and Deuteronomy 22. If you doubt that, you need to understand the backstory behind the woman that was healed by faith as she touched the hem [tzitzit] of His garment [tallit]. 

You can find that account in Matthew 9. 

Yeshua instructed His disciples to follow the teaching and instruction found in Leviticus 23:15-17. That Torah portion is embedded in the words of Acts 1-2. Yeshua also celebrated some wonderful Jewish traditions including the Sukkot water pouring ceremony in John 7. He even showed up for Hanukkah at the Temple Mount, that fact is found in John 10. 

All traditions aren't bad. 

You may not know it, but Yeshua followed the traditional Jewish Passover blessing over bread and wine. Check out the original bread and wine account of Abraham and Melchizedek the "king of righteousness." It started the tradition of bread and wine. Over time, that meeting with Abraham worked its way into the Passover seder that Yeshua led with His disciples reclining around the table. 

Why did the "church" relabel it as a last supper communion?

The thing is, that Passover seder wasn't the first, it wasn't new either and it certainly wasn't the last. 

At the end of that Passover seder, Yeshua told His disciples he'd come back and do it again, but that they should continue on each year and remember Him at Passover.

The first supper was at Mount Sinai. You can read about that in Exodus 24:1-18. 

Bottom-line, Yeshua never stopped being Jewish. He lived out His faith in the Word of God and taught others to do the same just as Matthew 19:17 declares!

In my view, the sermon has been misunderstood for nearly 2000 years with too many sermons and commentaries written about legalism associated with Jewish life contrasted with a new view of a Christian gospel of a one-time grace decision based on the law being hung on a cross.

In my scriptures studies, I've learned that the Son of Man that His followers called Rabbi taught with authority to the crowds in Galilee that gathered to hear Him. They were amazed:

"And He came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and He was teaching them on the Sabbath; and they were amazed at His teaching, for His message was with authority." Luke 4:31-32 NASB 

What were they thinking, and what authority were they so amazed about?

Yeshua's authority is tied to the foundation rock. The words He lived out and taught that are infused with the light and authority of the Hebrew Scriptures (aka the Tanach) the written record of God's voice not man's traditions that add to or take away from God's word. 

How do we know? He said so:

My teaching is not my own,” Jesus replied. “It comes from Him who sent Me. If anyone desires to do His will, he will know whether My teaching is from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is a man of truth; in Him there is no falsehood." John 7:16-19

When the Torah is misapplied in religion that's when Yeshua voiced criticism. When a tradition of the elders conflicted with the written Torah, He spoke up just as He did in the first sermon as Yeshua addressed some traditions that did not align with the written Torah. 

So, what did Jesus say at the Sermon on the Mount?

He said: "you have heard, but I say to you…" 

Those words are important and it's helpful that some Bible publisher's point out Yeshua's words with red letters. They season like salt and shine a bright light on Almighty God's written Word, so it's time to uncover some red letter truths in the sermon. 

Yeshua filled ancient Scripture teachings with meaning by everything He did including fulfilling God’s promise to Isaac described in Genesis 22:8  while focusing 100% on the life giving importance of upholding the truth and spirit of The Father's instruction manual of life in the Kingdom of God. 

Yeshua's sermon goal was teaching: "the weightier matters of the law [Torah]: justice and mercy and faithfulness." 

That wasn't just a message for one sermon. It's why Yeshua gave anyone, including the Pharisees and the Sadducees that added to or took away from justice, mercy and faithfulness of the written words of the Father. Yeshua presented many challenges about religious traditions that add to or take away from the "you can do it" truth found in Moses' final sermon at Moab. 

Don't forget, in the wilderness outside Egypt after the mikveh (baptism) through the sea, those in the mixed multitude that had been saved by mercy and faithfulness, because of their fear did not want to hear what the God of Israel had to say Mount Sinai. 

Do you want to hear Him? 

The mixed multitude of the exodus had an excuse, they were afraid they would die. After all, the earth was shaking, the mountain was on fire and shattering when The Lord spoke. The mountain and the air around it was physically reacting to its Creator's presence and voice. Lightning bolts were flashing, thunder was booming. Smoke was everywhere as the shofar trumpet was blowing. 

I could be wrong, but if you ask me, when Moses was told "Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it." it wasn't to keep people away from the mountain because God would zap them. It was a warning because The Almighty knew what would happen when He arrived and The Father did not want those He saved to be crushed. 

Everyone but Moses was overwhelmed by fear. 

They were all shaking in their sandals, frightened to the bone because they could see, hear and feel the sound of God's voice and it's impact. Both native born and sojourner encountered holiness and glory at that mountain. 

Some sages even say they could see the sound waves.

Fear and awe are important. That's how it should be when Almighty God speaks.

We should all listen in fear and awe and God respected that at Mount Sinai. 

If you'll read on, I think you'll find that Yeshua's not so new words will shake your traditional "new religion" thinking to the core. 

It's time to wake up - don't be afraid of the truth but respect it. That requires that you not only circumcise your heart, but that you get up and do something about it. According to the disciple James and the disciple John, we all need to understand that faith without action is not faith. Faith requires action.

Most everyone I grew up with in one way or another has held fast to a religious tradition that the red letter words were new. I agreed and went along with the crowd, but then I realized I had an argument with the real Yeshua and those that argue with Yeshua, debate with Moses and Almighty God. For some reason we hide behind religion, doctrine and theology. 

Then one day, I realized I could not look in the mirror and see the repentance required to open up the Kingdom of Heaven in my own life. 

That's been a problem for others too, so I am sharing what I've learned. If we believe Yeshua's mission was to die to start a new religion in resurrection, it's time to do something and re-examine our traditions of new doctrine that Yeshua never taught. 

As my road to Emmaus journey started, I had to ask myself a question. Did I have the same problem with Yeshua that some of the Sadducees and Pharisees had, but didn't know it? 

That question was critical because as you'll see at the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua declared to everyone that He did not come to do away with one jot or tittle of God's righteous voice recorded by Moses, it remains. The disciple Peter repeated that message: 

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for

All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord remains forever.
And this word is the good news that was preached to you. 1 Peter 1:22-25

When my journey started, I noticed the truth of that fact that very old faith is front and center in all of the red letter teachings. 

The seemingly hidden truth of the red letter words in the Sermon on the Mount is the voice we must hear in repentance and action. That's the faith action that God The Father asks of all of His children if we seek to return to a proper relationship walking in heaven's Kingdom faith.

Return is what repentance is about, it's about getting back in the game, not starting a new one. 

That sermon was NOT new. It's an echo from the voice of the Mighty One of Jacob, the Shepherd Stone of Israel, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah that was promised in the blessings that Jacob gave to to his sons. Judah's blessing was great because in the end he chose put his life before Benjamin's to save him. That account unfolds in Genesis 44:18-34. 

Yeshua, a descendant in the family line of Judah, would do the same not long after the Sermon on the Mount"

"Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" John 15:13. 

Judah, a son of Leah offered to trade his life for Rachel's second son. She bore Joseph then died in Benjamin's birth. That broke Jacob's heart. Judah would not allow his father to live through another crushing grief of separation from another child of his beloved Rachel, so Judah declared to Joseph that he would trade his life for Benjamin's. That was a royal act of faith.

The name Hebrew name Judah (Yehuda) means “praise” and years after Judah's offer of life, Judah received the first and greatest blessing of all of Jacob's sons. Jacob’s words were directed by the Holy Spirit of God as he declared the plain prophecy of Messiah, the Lion of the royal tribe of Judah:
"Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down before you. Judah is a lion's cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? 

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey's colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk." Genesis 49:8-12 
Yeshua delivered the ruler's staff of life message that day in Galilee. The scepter message was like the others that Yeshua gave to the crowds that followed Him, and believe it or not, Yeshua's words to the multitudes that heard Him that day focused on the ways of the Kingdom of God. 

His voice was a pure , a choice vine call for humble action that starts with repentance to prepare for the Kingdom of God. 

I pray you keep reading on to see and hear the sermon's foundation, they are not there to just read, you have to make a choice and do something. That's why Yeshua healed people, He always did something when He saw faith in action.

Everything Yeshua did upholds the intent of the written Word of God, so that's our responsibility too, to hear, do and tell others about the Kingdom gospel.

During Yeshua's first ministry across the Promised Land, Biblical lessons and examples of everyday parables constantly called everyone to do something. 

The first call He always gave everyone was to repent, aka turn back to God's ways. No matter what road you're on now, as long as you're alive, you too can turn back toward the Kingdom ways of the God of Israel. 

That message is woven in the first sermon and the 50 days that describe the accounts of His action in righteousness during His truth tour across Israel that started in the Galilee. 

One of the greatest challenges Yeshua teaches in the Sermon on the Mount is to be humble, help others, be generous, in other words live out the Torah that Almighty God created us to live so that we might fulfill righteousness.

Like Moses at the Red Sea, Yeshua entered His ministry of teaching and instruction others with a mikveh. When Yeshua was at the Jordan River, before the immersion of baptism, despite His Levite cousin John's objection, Yeshua told John (Yochanan) the Levite son of Zechariah something very important:

"Allow it now, for this is the fitting way for us to fulfill all righteousness."

Those words "for us" connect that mikveh immersion in the Jordan River to the requirement for two witnesses found in God's Word to fulfill righteousness.

Matthew 5 connects us all to Genesis. 

When we open the Bible, the righteous Word of God begins with the Genesis creation account and there we catch a brief glimpse of life in the Kingdom as our Creator intended, without sin. 

In the beginning, Adam and Eve lived in the image of God without sin. Yet, when we barely unroll the Torah scroll, we see the deceiver arrives on the scene like a snake with evil spewing from his mouth. It was poison, a lie... 

That lie was that God does not mean exactly what He says, that He holds back on the truth. 

That lie remains if we don't believe and follow what God says is righteous truth. If you think the front of the book was done away with and do not hear the words of truth how that it remains, how will you ever do them? You won't, you'll will believe a lie and do your own thing, because you believe words of deception and ignore the voice of your Creator Almighty God Elohim.

The startling truth is that among the first red letter words ever recorded before that sermon, Yeshua says just the opposite as He quotes Moses directly from Deuteronomy 8:3. Yeshua addressed the deceiver's wilderness lies that started in Eden with Moses' words quoted directly from the Torah:

"It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"

Next, Yeshua points toward another Tanach account that zeroes in on king Ahaz during Isaiah's day and the Immanuel prophecy given to Ahaz that's found in the Prophets, look at Isaiah 7:10-16: "Again, it is written, 'You shall not test the Lord, your God.'"

Here's the thing about king Ahaz, he tried to bribe the king of Assyria by giving away the Temple treasures. 

That's what sought haSatan to accomplish, you can see it in Matthew 4:5-6.

Ahaz even built an altar to honor himself as he replaced the Temple's altar with his own. He even relocated the bronze laver that Solomon had made. Ahaz also removed the Sabbath pavilion which was built in the House of the Lord. Ahaz did all that to suit himself.

Do you own thing - your way was Ahaz' mantra. Ignore God's voice, worship your way. Sound familiar?

Yeshua taught nothing new among the red letters. The reason, the words are all firmly rooted in the Hebrew Bible. 

Believe it or not, the deceiver responded with one temptation lie after another! Yeshua's response to three of the tests was the Genesis choice Adam failed to deliver in Eden: "Get behind me, haSatan! 

Then Yeshua went straight to Moses' constant sermon admonition of the first commandment written in Deuteronomy to both native born and sojourner: For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’

No matter the audience, Yeshua's teaching focuses on that big instruction in Moses' sermon: "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” The gospel accounts repeat Yeshua's Torah guidance in the first step toward that responsibility:

“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Repent is the Hebrew word "shuwb" שׁוּב and it means return, turn around and go back. Repentance is all about re-storing the relationship mankind once had with our Creator in the Garden. This is the call which has stirred in everyone since Eden, a mand to return to the relationship we once enjoyed.

Almighty God gave that same message to Ezekiel some 600 years before Yeshua pointed everyone He met back to Abba Father's plea through the prophet across the mountains, plains and valleys of Israel:

"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways," says the Lord GOD. 
"Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. 
For why should you die, O house of Israel? "For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says the Lord GOD. "Therefore turn and live!" Ezekiel 18:30-32 

Yeshua always taught that opening the door to the Kingdom of righteousness begins with teshuva repentance, aka repent and return to do the Lord's ways and be blessed in life. Repentance is key to unlock the the Kingdom of God. 

Yeshua is still standing at the door, get your key and open the door. Do you hear the knock? 

Yeshua taught with life examples called parables, but that was nothing new either. 

In fact, if you'll take the time to study the Lord God's voice recorded in Ezekiel 18, you'll find that chapter is all about Ezekiel writing of Abba Father God's personal refute to a misguided parable.

When we open the so-called New Testament account of Yeshua's yeshiva time with His disciples, it is critically important to see that the first page starts with nothing new. Matthew begins his account with a flash-back to the books of Chronicles and the family tree that starts with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

When we turn the first page in Matthew, we are given the 1 Samuel connection to Bethlehem, the shepherd king David's hometown in the land allotted to Judah, and we see another survival trip to Egypt like Joseph's in Genesis 37. 

Matthew describes Yeshua's escape from Herod's death trap with a trip to Egypt as an infant boy. That event mirrors young Moses who also escaped Pharaoh's death sentence when he ordered all Hebrew infant boys to be drowned in the Nile. No wonder Jeremiah reported that Rachel weeped for her children (Jeremiah 31:15).

Not only that, if we pay attention, we can't miss the connection to Exodus 24:18 with Moses' ascent at Mount Sinai and the Sermon on The Mount climb described in Matthew 5:1 above the crowds.

These background stories are critical to the framework foundation of truth of The Sermon on the Mount and if we look, we can also see that Yeshua's keystone sermon lays out the prophetic fulfillment of the words written by Moses that are promised in Deuteronomy 18:15-19:

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the LORD your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.’

And the LORD said to me: ‘What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. 

And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him."

Almighty God's own voice tells us whether native born or sojourner, the words to be spoken by "the prophet" will be The Father's words to Jew and Gentile, a mixed multitude. Everyone must hear and do them. 

That's what prophets do, but we must not just hear them, the Hebrew word God uses is יִשְׁמַע shema, it means hear and do.

This shema fact is critically important to understand when we return to the red letter sermon with repentance in mind and a humble heart to hear and do. The Torah is the reason Yeshua gave the red letter sermon on the mount in the first place and its why Jesus said this about Deuteronomy 18:15-19: 

"If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me." John 5:46

That is Phillip's testimony:

"Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Torah and also the prophets wrote, Yeshua of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” John 1:45

Phillip (actually Pinchas) was telling Nathanael: we have found the promised Moshiach, the promised anointed one Nathan spoke of to David. Phillip each of the disciples knew Yeshua never intended to start a new religion. Had they fallen for that deception, Yeshua would be a false prophet.

Do you make Him out to be a false prophet with a new replacement theology? 

Yeshua's was turned down in Nazareth, don't let that be your hometown, because He might move on and knock the dust off His feet.  When rejected there, Yeshua moved to the upper Galilee in fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy. 

Did you know the Galilee district was known as the “Galilee of the nations”?  Check it out, Isaiah 9:1 promises:

"...but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan.” 

Did you know 1 Chronicles mentions the same area, as does the book of Joshua? 

The Galilee of the Nations is where Yeshua started His Yeshiva time as the prophet, it just so happens to be where Joshua ended up. tells us: "Joshua aka Yehoshua in Hebrew, the formal name of Yeshua, was Moses ' successor who led the Israelites into the Promised Land. The Bible describes Joshua as a devoted student, a saintly man, and a brilliant military commander. Joshua led his people on all fronts, exhorting them to serve G‑d and uphold the Torah, while at the same time leading them in military conquest."

1 Kings describes the Galilee as the land gifted from Solomon to Tyre's King Hiram . Isaiah's prophecy fulfillment is noted in Matthew 4:13-16: “when Jesus ministered in Capernaum near the major highway from Egypt to Damascus, called ‘the Way of the Sea.”

Keeping repentance and the Kingdom of God in mind, we must also take note of this fact: the Galilee district was a big part of the former Northern Kingdom of the ten lost tribes of Israel that had been missing since the Assyrian conquest some seven centuries earlier. The lost tribes are a big deal in the gospel of God declared to the Prophets Ezekiel, Hosea, Jeremiah and others. To understand, we have to consider what Yeshua said in the ancient backyard of Ephraim: 

“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Matthew 15:24

Phillip's description to Nathanael noted in John 1:45 has a mystery connection to Matthew 15:24 and Joseph in Egypt. He was thought to be lost by Jacob, but he was redeemed with his brothers. Not only that, Joseph's sons were Ephraim and Manasseh and their mother was an Egyptian princess. Her father was a pagan priest so the grandchildren were adopted as his sons by Jacob at the end of his life and their descendants became collectively known as Ephraim. 

Before that Genesis account, we see Jacob's seventeen year-old son Joseph telling his family about his dreams. Later, a man found Joseph wandering in the fields near Shechem, and asked him, “What are you seeking?” Joseph's reply: “I am seeking my brothers...” and the man told him, “They have gone away."

That encounter was prophetic and part of the lost sheep story that's woven throughout the Bible with a promise of God that is still unfinished because it requires a second trip to fulfill the lost sheep restoration of brothers in the Kingdom promise of the Scriptures. 

Ephraim is not lost in God's eyes and the disciples knew it.

In their last question, the disciples asked Yeshua about Kingdom restoration in Acts 1:6-8:

"Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 
But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

For now, don't forget, long before Herod Antipas ever ruled a big part of the Northeast Galilee district, it was deeded to Manasseh. 

That's just a part of the Joseph gospel connection. 

The center point of commerce in that district was the Sea of Galilee and there were many trade fishermen in the area. Yeshua called on a few of them to join His Master Rabbi journey across Israel with the others that He had called to the way:

"Come after me, and I will make you fishers for men."

They left their boats and nets and followed their Master (teacher) born in Bethlehem. They became known as His talmidim (disciples). There were several other students called out at the Sermon on the Mount. They likely included Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus and even Simon the Canaanite. 

These talmidim followed the man they called Rabbi to a mountain in the Galilee where Yeshua ascended up so the large crowd could hear the words He laid out His red letter teaching of righteousness we now call the Sermon on the Mount.

What you may have not realized is that the foundation of that sermon in Galilee echos back to Mount Sinai. If you stay for awhile on the Galilee mountain, you'll see that what was taught was nothing new for Yeshua. 

For good reason, Matthew's account goes into detail about that particular day and with careful precision, the gospel writer replays the mountain sermon. Matthew, the tax collector may not have been there, because he was called to join the yeshiva after that, so the backstory could be that the other disciples may have filled Him in on what they heard that day. 

Perhaps, they wrote the words down and shared them with Matthew. There are no short snippets found in the three chapters about the big sermon (see Matthew 5-7). 

Are you ready to go to the mountain? Are you ready to shame, hear and do?

If so, it's time for a bit of a baptism in the living water of God's eternal, unchanging written Word taught on that mountain. To borrow Yeshua's words at His Jordan River mikveh: "for this is the fitting way for us to fulfill all righteousness."

Before His mountain top sermon, Matthew 4:23 tell us: "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people."

That sickness healing was not unexpected, it fulfilled the promise of Isaiah 35:5-6: 

"Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,

​​And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.

​Then the lame shall leap like a deer,

​​And the tongue of the dumb sing." 

On the mountain that day somewhere in the Galilee, Yeshua explained that the blessings of Heaven are promised in the Torah. As already noted, we can also see that the message delivered connects with Joseph's blessing given by his father Jacob that was tied up in the bounties of the everlasting hills noted in Genesis 59. 

Jacob's blessing declares: 

"May they be on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers."

There are nine (9) Sermon on the Mount blessings recorded by Matthew and that number is no accident, every detail is important. In Hebraic thinking, nine (9) symbolizes divine completeness.  You may have missed it before now, but years later, Paul the Jew from Tarsus wrote nothing new at all either when he summarized nine (9) blessings, noting that they represent the fruits of Almighty God's Holy Spirit. 

Paul outlined them as 1) Faithfulness, 2) Gentleness, 3) Goodness, 4) Joy, 5) Kindness, 6) Long suffering, 7) Love, 8) Peace and 9) Self-control. You can find that in the Galatian letter (check it out in Galatians 5:22-23).

Paul declared he never forsake the Torah when he arrived in Jerusalem after the Jerusalem Council meeting when he returned from Macedonia and Greece and met with Peter again. Read Paul's reaction to the false claim when Peter told him people were saying he taught Jews among the Gentiles to forsake Moses:
When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 
And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law [Torah],  and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 
...Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them. Acts 21:17-21, Acts 21:26
Back to the big sermon... it opens with words that points to Isaiah 61:2. Those words were read later by Yeshua in a Nazareth synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16-20). Many sermons for the past 1,800 years have said that the words declared on that mountain were new and revolutionary truths for those who heard them. They say the words declared the foundation for a new church message, but the reality is it's time to picture Jesus back in the synagogue. 

Most that identify Jesus with "the church" believe that a key doctrine of Christianity is a notion that most of the Biblical laws are now null and void - rebranded as old “Mosaic law” and that the Hebrew Bible is an Old Testament, done and dusted. 

Yet, Yeshua taught the opposite on that mountain and in synagogues, but unfortunately, people don't want to hear God’s voice; they want a new religion without God’s declarations. 

Far from any new religion theory born out of the weeds of replacement theology, antisemitism and New Testament new religion, Matthew records the flip side of all new religion theories in Matthew 5-7. You can see it if you'll open your eyes, ears and heart to the messages of the Hebrew Bible that Master Rabbi Yeshua taught on that mountain side:

"And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Yeshua's blessings connected the crowd's ears with loud echos from Psalm 1, Psalm 47 and Psalm 145. 

The sermon's nine (9) blessings were not new at all. 

They zero in on Isaiah 61:7 and Psalm 37:11: "But the humble shall inherit the land, And shall delight themselves in the abundance of shalom." They echoed the ancient words of Psalm 22:25-31 and king David's Psalm 24 as well.

The people of Galilee were Jewish, and likely everyone at the mountain side was familiar with the blessing and curses of the two-edged sword of Torah described in Psalm 149. They knew the scrolls of the Psalms started with these blessings:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law [Torah] of the LORD, and on his [Torah] law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3 ESV

They also knew David's writings point to the way of righteous instruction and delight in the blessings of the Torah instruction of the Lord. 

There on that mountain in Galilee, Yeshua was fulfilling the Luke 4:14-19 synagogue reading of Isaiah 61:1 and Yeshua reminded everyone of the menorah's purpose which is the goal of God's Word to give light to a lost and dark world. Without question, it reminded everyone at the hillside of the story of a winter miracle they were all familiar with. 

It's is known as Hanukkah (the Hebrew word for dedication). 

They all knew about the Modi’in Valley northwest of Jerusalem where the Maccabees lived when they struck out against the Greek Seleucids in the 2nd century. There, the family known as Maccabbee (hammer) struck out against the tyranny of Antiochus. After their victory, the Temple was purified and rededicated some 195 years before the sermon. 

The menorah played a big role in that story. That re-dedication gave birth to the celebration day when we find Yeshua in Jerusalem answering the BIG question today which is: Do the works that you do in the Father’s name bear a true witness about Yeshua? 

“The Festival of Dedication then took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Yeshua was walking in the temple in Solomon’s portico.” 
“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Yeshua answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me... John 10:22-25.

The menorah's purpose is to give light, light is its purpose. The Menorah burns oil beaten from olive fruit and it sheds its light by the instruction of The Father for His Tabernacle. The menorah is also seen in the imagery described in Revelation 1. Many miss it because the Greek translators call the branches of the menorah candle sticks. 

The Revelation truth is the light (truth) of God's Word that shines from a people whose heart is to glorify The Father through what they do in faith. That's is Yeshua's good works message to the Jewish people:

"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

Yeshua then set the record straight that many Christians struggle with. I know, I'm an expert, I once thought my "belief" with a short prayer gave all glory I needed to give to Almighty God, but Scripture teaches what we do out of love for God gives glory to The Father.

The Master Rabbi of the disciples and the multitudes that heard Him realized He came to fill the mitzvot of the Torah up with meaning, to live it out. Part of that includes the blessings for Joseph and the lost, but many have forgotten a part of that sermon thinking Yeshua started a new religion and hung the Torah of Almighty God The Father on a cross. 

Here's what Jesus had to say about that deception:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 

For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not a jot or tittle will pass from the Torah until all is accomplished."

Does Yeshua's voice should shake you awake to hear the unchanging truth? 

It should! After all, He reiterated the same message that many faithful rabbi's and scribes had insisted on for thousands of years, that not one stroke of the Torah could ever be altered. That's why the whole Bible remains the light to be declared and we can thank the faithfulness of the Jewish people for that. 

The apostle Paul agrees, read it for yourself:

"For as many as have sinned without Torah will also perish without Torah, and as many as have sinned in the Torah will be judged by the Torah (for not the hearers of the Torah are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the Torah will be justified..." Romans 2:12-13

Yeshua of Nazareth declares another admonition with His singular focus on God's Kingdom constitution Moses spoke about in Deuteronomy 5:1 which says: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb." 

Yeshua goes on and declares the same connection of the commandments to the Kingdom of God:

"Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 

Most New Testament readers don't read this verse (Matthew 5:19) for what it actually says... 

The greatest teacher in the Kingdom is King Messiah. The King of the Kingdom did them and teaches them greater than any other!! 

Many also pass over the next statement in the sermon, but we shouldn't speed read Scripture. 

The desire of our Heavenly Father is Yeshua's goal, that is to "keep" the covenant words by deeds out of love. As Moses said: "listen to the voice of the LORD your God" and do the mitzvot of good deeds written by Moses, not do our own thing to add to or take away from them but do them the best that you can in righteousness so that your lives will bring glory to The Father." 

Yeshua explains it like this:

For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

Master Rabbi Yeshua's sermon shows that He is the prophet like Moses as He takes the crowd straight to the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17. Yeshua fills the covenant of God with the conscious heart and soul of their meaning by explaining the circumcised heart declared in Deuteronomy 10:16, Deuteronomy 30:6 and Jeremiah 4:4:

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire."

He points to the Kingdom importance of making things right with each other. The Kingdom of God is a humble community, an assembly that seeks to walk in God's ways. Yeshua was teaching that the offering described in Deuteronomy 26 is not acceptable if you cannot say that you will walk in the Father's ways and keep His statutes, commandments and judgments, and that you must obey His voice if you have a problem to resolve with others as a holy people set apart to remember the LORD your God:

"So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny."

Yeshua quotes Moses verbatim from Deuteronomy 5:18 as He explains the heart and spirit of the big Torah message of Exodus 20:14:

"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 lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell."

Next, Yeshua zeros in on the what Almighty God considers as adultery noting Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18 while explaining the "indecency" of sexualy immorality Moses noted in Deuteronomy 24:1:

“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery."

He then simplifies the truth summarizing an old Jewish saying that later made it in one form or another into the Talmud. Yeshua is teaching nothing new about making false promises declared in the Ten Commandments from Numbers 30:3, Leviticus 5, Deuteronomy 5:20 and Psalms 48:3. The footstool of 1 Chronicles 28:2 is noted as well from from the words of David:

“Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil."

Yeshua teaches against the sin of retaliation from Exodus 21 while explaining Leviticus 24:19-20 and Deuteronomy 19:21. 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you."

He expounds noting the reason for His teaching against retaliation is lovingkindness. 

The crowd no doubt is familiar with the "chesed" lovingkindness Almighty God declared to Moses after the sin of the golden calf. The Father did not wipe everyone although they broke covenant in their sin of adultery and idolatry. Instead, God kept His promise and wrote the Ten Commandments again for Moses to carry down the mountain a second time. The Tanach (Old Testament) never teaches us to hate. Yeshua starts by summarizing a saying that must have been prevalent in His day, He upholds and does not abolish the Torah when he tells us:

“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 makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?"

This teaching is about reconciliation. It's the mountaintop teaching from Leviticus 19:17-18 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”

Next, Yeshua does away with the theory for those that say I am a saved Gentile sinner, but continue to sin thinking all sin is washed away in grace. Yeshua give the sermon few hear and do today as He admonishes us all to walk in righteousness from the opening of the Torah portion know as Kedoshim that owns with these words" "You shall be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy." in Leviticus 19:2:

"You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

He also speaks against self-righteous bragging from Proverbs 16:19 which says: "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven."

Yeshua focuses in on caring relationships. He teaches about freewill giving without credit from Proverbs 19:17 and Proverbs 21:26 showing that giving to help the needy is part of a relationship with The Father:

"Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

He expounds on the importance of a personal relationship with Almighty God from Isaiah 26:20:

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."

For those that say God's Kingdom will only be seen in Heaven think again! 

In Yeshua's demonstration on how to pray, He declares the opposite linking His prayer coaching to the manna of Exodus 16. He starts what we now know as "the Lord's Prayer" with the importance of God's Holy name. Yeshua is teaching straight from Exodus 20:7, Leviticus 19:12, Deuteronomy 5:11, Proverbs 18:10, Micah 4:5, Isaiah 26:13 and other so-called Old Testament Scriptures:

"Pray then like this:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name."

Next, Yeshua points to the Kingdom gospel promise in Zechariah 14:9-17 and Isaiah 65:17:

"Your kingdom come, your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven."

Yeshua unveils Deuteronomy 8:2-3 again with a connection to Numbers 14:19, 2 Chronicles 7:14, Daniel 9:19, Deuteronomy 30:15-20 and Proverbs 30:8. Those words all point us back to hallowing God's name. After all, asking our Father in Heaven to forgive us hallows and sanctifies His name. Yeshua points to deliverance from Psalm 32:6, Psalm 60:11 and Psalm 72:4:

"Give us this day our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."

Yeshua's explanation in Matthew 6:14-15 emphasizes forgiveness of others precisely as described in Joseph's story found in Genesis 50:15-21: "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."

He also teaches that fasting is part of the blessing of a personal relationship with The Father by what we do:

“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

Yeshua teaches everyone to lay up treasures in Heaven from the heart with His reference to Isaiah 51:8:

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

He presses in on the importance of Psalm 119:105-112 and the riches found in the precepts, testimonies and statutes of God's Word:

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."

Yeshua then teaches from Isaiah 35:4 and Psalm 80 which ties to the scene on the mountain side: "Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up your might and come to save us! Restore us, O God; let your face shine, that we may be saved!"

His red letter message is don't worry or worry's sake but trust and rely on God as declared in Psalm 47:7:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? 

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 

For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Next, Yeshua brings Leviticus 19:15, Psalm 50:4, 1 Chronicles 28:9 and Psalm 145:8-9 front and center into the sermon regarding judging others:

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye."

Nothing new here, Yeshua then points everyone back to Psalm 22:16, Psalm 68:23 and Isaiah 56:11 saying:

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you."

Before we wrap up the red letter details of this part of the sermon, let's pause to reflect back on the murder of the children in Matthew's account. It's found in Matthew 2.

Herod and Pilate's crimes tie them to Cain's story in Genesis 2.

When Eve found Abel, her sobbing must have sheds tears for her son and for every child, for every person in Abel’s lost generations.

Fast forward to Rachel. Her weeping in Ramah was described by Jeremiah hundreds of years after her death. It connects the death mandate by Pharaoh for the children in Moses' day to the baby boys murdered in the massacre of the innocents in Bethlehem by Herod. 

Rachel's tears are important! More so than the massive building projects Herod's ego mandates. Those included expanding and renovating the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, building the port at Caesarea and the fortress at Masada. 

His building projects all lie in ruins today except the massive stone building that remains intact above the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron where Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca as well as Jacob and Leah are buried. It's also thought that Adam and Eve were entombed there.

King Herod is known in most history books as "Herod the Great." Other than the building projects that left his mark on Israel, he wasn't so great at all. That's as they say... fake news. 

Matthew's account as well as the record from historian Flavius Josephus and the Talmud all describe Herod as a ruthless barbaric king. The reason: by the end of his life Herod had morphed into a despotic, unstable megalomanic and plunged the Roman rule of Judea, Gaza, Samaria, Galilee and the Golan into a cesspool of dictatorial repression and violence that influenced the direction of history as we know it today.

Years after Mark Anthony ordered Herod to go and capture Jerusalem, Herod expanded Solomon’s Temple, but he did that for his own narcissistic benefit just like Ahaz had done. In doing so, he facilitated his own version of a religious ruling class in Jerusalem that was loyal to Herod and his prototype Mafia-like dynasty. 

The reality is that Herod's life imitated evil king Ahaz. 

Who was Ahaz?

Let’s go back to the beginning, Adam and Eve lived in the image of God without sin. Yet, when we barely unroll the Torah scroll, we see the deceiver arrives on the scene like a snake from Tyre with evil deception spewing from his mouth. It was poison, a lie. 

That lie was that God does not mean what He says, that He holds back on the truth. 

That lie remains if we don't believe and follow what God says is righteous truth. If you think the front of the book was done away with and do not hear the words of truth that remains, how will you ever do them? You won't, you'll believe a lie and do your own thing, because you listened to deception and ignored the voice of your Creator Almighty God Elohim.

The startling truth is that among the first words ever recorded before the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua says just the opposite as He quotes Moses directly from Deuteronomy 8:3. That happened when Yeshua addressed the deceiver's wilderness lies that started in Eden with Moses' words quoted directly from the Torah:

"It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'"

Next, Yeshua points toward another Tanach account that zeroes in on king Ahaz during Isaiah's day and the Immanuel prophecy given to Ahaz that's found in the Prophets, look at Isaiah 7:10-16: "Again, it is written, 'You shall not test the Lord, your God.'"

Here's the thing about king Ahaz, he tried to bribe the king of Assyria by giving away the Temple treasures. 

That's what haSatan sought to accomplish, you can see it in Matthew 4:5-6.

Ahaz even built an altar to honor himself as he replaced the Temple's altar with his own. He relocated the bronze laver that Solomon had made. Ahaz also removed the Sabbath pavilion which was built in the House of the Lord. 

Ahaz did all that to suit himself. Herod did the same.

Do you own thing - your way was Ahaz' mantra. Ignore God's voice, worship your way, do your own thing. 

Yeshua taught the opposite. The reason, His words are all firmly rooted in the Hebrew Bible. 

In Matthew’s account, the deceiver responded in the wilderness with one temptation lie after another! Yeshua's response to three of the tests was the Genesis choice Adam failed to deliver in Eden: "Get behind me, haSatan! 

Not only that, Yeshua went straight to Moses' constant sermon admonition of the first commandment written in Deuteronomy to both native born and sojourner: For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’

No matter the audience, Yeshua's teaching focuses on that big instruction in Moses' sermon: "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” The gospel accounts repeat Yeshua's Torah guidance in the first step toward that responsibility:

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Now consider Herod. He was an archetype of haSatan. The self-exalted ruler built his Masada ego fortress as a palace for himself. It would later become not only his memorial as his gravesite, but the Roman death trap for many thousands of Jews stranded as hostages at Masada. Their grave end marked the desperation of Jewish exile from Israel with a 1,800+ year-long diaspora from their homeland. 

The mass death camp of Masada was a horrific last stand by the Dead Sea that ended in suicide some 30 years after the destruction of Jerusalem when Rome's Titus attacked the city with the Legions. 

It's absolutely mind bending to consider, but another unimaginable massacre followed in the steps of Titus during the Holocaust as Hitler tied in another vain attempt to destroy the Jewish people that had escaped Rome's assault on them. As Jerusalem was ransacked, many refugees arrived in Europe's backyard, but in Almighty God's inconceivable providence, the German death camps would incredibly lead back to the eternal promise given to Abraham. 

The return of Jewish people to Israel is the largest global prophetic signpost on the planet. It was planted in the soil in 1948, and the rightful return of Jerusalem in 1967 is the second signpost witness. 

Jerusalem's destruction is now in restoration mode as the family of Judah arose from the ashes of World War II and its horrors that I cannot fathom. 

Only the promise from the voice of Almighty God Elohim could bring about the resurrection of Israel that began just 20 days after Passover during the Omer count in 1948. 

God's promise to keep His eyes on Jerusalem came to global focus in 1967. At the end of the Six Day War, Jerusalem was restored to Judah's heritage with a shofar blast from Rabbi Goren, but Jerusalem has much more glory in store. It's time to walk up if you are reading this because you are living in Biblical times, the Bible is not old or done away with.

The book of Revelation reveals the promise God gave to David through Nathan that will be fulfilled in Jerusalem by Israel's Messiah King.

Jerusalem points us to the fact that it's high time to hit the new religion delete button. 

It's time to pray, fast and repent of any attitude we may have from any church sermon about a replacement doctrine that seeks to abrogate the promises of Almighty God.

The prophetic big picture of the Bible is real and history proves it. 

Prophecy is a reality, so we must all dig deep into the red-letter words of the Sermon on the Mount and at the same time rewind history to the corrupt political and religious scene in Israel nearly 2,000 years ago. 

When we look back, we see king Herod. The historic record reveals that he was an Edomite, an Idumean born around 74BC. The term Idumean is simply the Greek Hellenized name for Edomite. The Edomites were descendants of Esau, not Jacob. They are described in the Bible, and they reveal the Herod problem. 

We can't forget history, the Edomites were ancient enemies of the Jewish people, and they still are, whoever they might be today. 

The facts on the ground are that the Edomites were also among the recruits that helped destroy Jerusalem and the second Temple. 

Back in the days of time of Nebuchadnezzar, the Edomites helped plunder Jerusalem and slaughter the Jews in 586 BC. Psalms 137 and Obadiah 1 give us the record.

Believe it or not, 600 years after Babylon's invasion, the Edomites were recruited again to serve Titus as recruits among the Roman Legions with the same result: destruction and desolation. These events will come with a dire price, the vision of Obadiah declares the final judgment in the Day of the Lord for the Edomites.

The Roman's documented their Edomite Legion history and the fact remains that the "Legions" of Titus were a remnant of the ancient enemies of Israel. You can find the details for yourself with an Internet search or two because the Romans kept written records. 

What you will learn is the Roman Legions weren't all Romans, they included local recruits of warrior tribesmen surrounding Israel. Those recruits were the descendants of Ishmael and Esau as well as some Philistines. With a promise of Roman citizenship, they were drafted by Titus' commanders from the areas that surrounded Judea and Samaria before 70 AD. 

They were descendants of many of the same people groups that Joshua was told to drive out of the Promised Land. 

Their descendants still oppose Israel and the Jewish people today. 

The so-called West Bank conflict is the focal point of the Edomite problem that remains. It’s also seen in the condemnations of the high places of the United Nations that you can read about most any day in the headlines. We have to ask... united against who?

Long ago, Titus promised his recruits citizenship and he used them to attack Jerusalem just like Nebuchadnezzar. They took it upon themselves to destroy Herod's temple and slaughter a million innocent Jewish men, women and children. After that holocaust, Titus became Emperor of Rome and took the title Titus Caesar Vespasianus. 

Adolph Hitler continued the holocaust and when Jewish survivors officially returned in 1948 to their homeland granted by Almighty God, Edom attacked again, this time they called themselves Arabs and they lost the battle. 

Edom rose up and fought once more in 1967, and they lost again in the Six Day War. Another attempt occurred in 1973 with the Yom Kippur War that should point us all to the fact that in one way or another, in the big picture mankind has been at war with God for 6,000 years, but the good news gospel is the rebellion battle of sin will end in Jerusalem. 

God’s Kingdom will be restored.

Messiah is coming to Jerusalem as the King. The reason, Almighty God keeps His promises, and His eyes are still on Jerusalem as the House of Prayer for all nations. 

Back to Herod the Edomite, did you know he also has a dark connection to Haman? His agenda matches that of today's Ayatollahs in Iran that declare they will wipe Israel off the map and rule the land.

Herod is critical to the big picture described in Matthew because his son Herod Antipas was the 1st-century Roman tetrarch of the districts of Galilee and Perea, where just to the north today Iran has arrived in the midst of Syria's self-destruction with an old strategic goal formed in the pit of hell. 

Back in the day, Galilee and Perea were client states invaded by the Roman Empire and Herod Antipas played a key role in his father's standing 30 year-old child massacre order in Bethlehem.  We see the facts unfold in Luke 13:31.

During Yeshua's day, Herod Antipas had two brothers and they ruled other districts. Archelaus ruled Judea, Idumea (Edom) and Samaria. Antipas' brother Philip ruled the largest area and today it is known as the Golan Heights. Phillip also ruled southern Syria and a big part of today's Jordan. 

Herod Antipas had a stepdaughter named after her grandmother. Salome ruled three cities along the Mediterranean coastline, perhaps where Gaza sits today flaring rockets at innocents in southern Israel and yielding knives and bullets on unsuspecting Jewish men women and children. 

Keep in mind, Salome is the woman behind the beheading of John the Baptist. Salome took the plate with John’s head and gave it to her mother as a reward for adultery. 

Today, the Palestinian Authority dishes mostly stipends each month in terrorism reward payments to Palestinian terrorists and their families under the PA's pay-for-slay policy that should be known as Salome’s blood money.

You need to know Herod Antipas the Idumaean-Edomite that ruled the Galilee. He is the man that had Yochanan the Levite (aka John the Baptist) beheaded at Salome's request to use a knife to keep his word to her. Not only that, Herod Antipas is the same man in the Roman trial that sent Yeshua back to Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea for Roman sedition sentencing. 

The Galilee was governed by Antipas, the Roman sovereign and Judaea and Jerusalem were governed by Pilate. 

Pilate was the first Roman in charge to hear the false accusations of blasphemy, but he handed Yeshua over to Antipas who happened to be in Jerusalem at the time. Connections are important, so connect the dots to this: Antipas sent Yeshua of Nazareth back to Pilate's Jerusalem court much like his father, Herod the so-called Great sent his foot soldiers in to murder the innocents some 30 years earlier in Bethlehem. 

Pilate used Caiaphas as a religious pawn put in place by Valerius Gratus, the 4th Roman Prefect of the Iudaea province. Gratus changed the Jewish leadership under Rome and shifted the God-ordained priesthood to the Sadducee-controlled Sanhedrin under the Roman thumb of oppression.

Fast forward to Pilate and you might see behind the scene: Pilate used Caiaphas to ultimately carry out Herod's long standing Roman order for the execution of the baby boys born in Bethlehem. Pilate carried out Herod's contempt connected to Micah's prophecy that the Magi had unwittingly revealed to Herod the not so great and it’s revealed in the sign he ordered above the crucifixion cross. 

This seemingly hidden plot is revealed as Pilate ordered a sign to be nailed above Yeshua's head at the Roman crucifixion stake. It is described in Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38 and John 19:19–20 and read: "King of the Jews." 

That was the title they gave to the Jewish Messiah; the eternal King of Israel from God's gospel promise to David that is outlined in 2 Samuel 7:18-29 and 1Chronicles 17:16–27. 

Josephus records that Caiaphas sympathized with the Sadducees when he was made high priest by Gratus. 

It's important to know Gratus preceded Pontius Pilate as Roman procurator in Jerusalem. Before Caiaphas arrived on the scene, his father-in-law Annas had been high-priest, but Rome's curator Gratus was corrupt and acted against the Temple and the Jews by removing Annas as high priest putting his own man in charge under Roman rule. Accepting the appointment from a Roman leader, Caiaphas destroyed the Torah.

There was no Scriptural guidance in Caiaphas' appointment as High Priest just politics. The long tenure of Caiaphas reported by Josephus points to the fact he worked hand in hand with the Romans and perhaps the untold story is that Caiaphas saw to it that Herod's death trap for Bethlehem was carried out to extinguish the life of "The King of The Jews" and in doing so Caiaphas was just like Korah.

Caiaphas thought Pilate put an end to Almighty God's plan for Messiah King of Israel, but like any Sadducee, he did not believe in the power of resurrection. That's a part of the hidden back story behind that Roman sign written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin.

Rome's death sentencing did not end on the Roman crucifixion cross for Herod Antipas. 

Some 15 years later circa 45 AD, Antipas "killed James the brother of John with the sword" (Acts 12:2) and he put Peter in prison but it could not hold him. The day after that crime, Antipas' life ended "immediately [when] the angel of the Lord that released Peter killed him... (Acts 12:23) as Antipas gave a speech that those around him blasphemed as they shouted: "It is the voice of a god, and not of a man" (Acts 12:18-24).

In my view, Pilate acted as a mafia underboss for Herod the Great who was perhaps the original Mafia boss. 

The reason, the Romans never performed execution over violations of legislative rulings of Jewish law. They did not recognize Jewish Halakha, they crucified people for insurrection against Rome which was a part of Herod's original fear factor. So, if you ask me, Caiaphas' charge of blasphemy never really mattered much to Pilate. He was concerned about Herod's 30 year-old Roman execution order and he cleverly disguised it, even washing his hands. 

That's why the first question he asked Yeshua the Nazarene as He stood before Pilate was this...

“Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” Matthew 27:11

Pilate's goal was to finish Herod's crime wave that started in Bethlehem three decades earlier with Micah’s prophecy. That's revealed with this first question. 

Herod's Mafia crimes eventually led to the ultimate death of every Mafioso underboss in his family. Herod murdered potential rivals to his power syndicate and to top it off, that included two of his own sons. Their names were Alexander and Aristobolus. They were the brothers of Antipas. Herod killed the two boys in his hate and obsessive power lust because he believed that they were plotting to take his Mafia-like throne as their own. 

It’s as if Caiaphas was in position with the underboss and he sympathized with the Sadducees.  Caiaphas was the Consigliere and he acted like an adviser to his underboss Pilate like any Consigliere was supposed to do to facilitate decisions for the good of the Mafia. 

When Pontius Pilate pretended to side with Yeshua, perhaps it was just a charade.

He had no conscience other than his wife's dream that he ignored that day. 

Pilate followed in the footsteps of the egotistical self-centered Herod the so-called great. Herod was a Mafia monster like Babylon's Nebuchadnezzar. Yet instead of destroying Jerusalem, he tried to destroy its King. 

It started with Herod.

Now you can see why Herod the megalomaniac like Pharaoh declared the death sentence for the innocents in Bethlehem as he sought to protect his throne with premeditated murder just like Cain. Herod heard about Micah 5:2 from the "wise men" that told Herod they were looking for the "King of the Jews." 

Did you notice? There’s that sign that ended up above the cross.

The Magi men of the east unwittingly revealed Micah's prophecy to a murderer. That prophecy says this:

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Herod sought to stop that prophecy from going forth from everlasting truth.

Pilate, like a Sadducee he did not believe in the power of God in resurrection or understand Yeshua did not seek an earthly throne on the first trip as humble Messiah ben Joseph. The Roman likely never knew that God told Nathan to tell David, I will be to him a Father, and he will be to me a son, yet in his distress he will be rejected and stricken by men.

The history backstory to Herod the Great is that he had been appointed so-called "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate, yet Herod knew he was not a descendant of Judah or from Bethlehem, so he took matters into his own hands to be "King of the Jews." That's why I think he undertook his own remodel of the Temple Mount and built his own monument at Hebron over the burial place of the Patriarchs! 

Josephus writes about Herod in his book, "The Wars of the Jews." Mark Antony "then resolved to get him made king of the Jews…told them that it was for their advantage in the Parthian war that Herod should be king; so they all gave their votes for it. And when the senate was separated, Antony and Caesar went out, with Herod between them; while the consul and the rest of the magistrates went before them, in order to offer sacrifices [to the Roman gods], and to lay the decree in the Capitol. Antony also made a feast for Herod on the first day of his reign."

After Herod the Great's death somewhere around 4 BC, the story revealed in the book of Matthew describes Yeshua's return from Egypt after Joseph and Mary fled Bethlehem. They returned to the promised land of Israel and settled in Nazareth fulfilling Hosea 11:1.

When Yeshua was rejected in Nazareth He move over to Capernaum and began His teaching ministry in the Galilee around age 30 in keeping with Numbers 4:3.

John's gospel give us something critical to think about as it notes Philip's tie to the promised "prophet" like Moses promised by Almighty God. The “prophet” like Moses has no message of his own; he speaks only from the instruction of God. Many people forget that today, thinking Jesus started a new replacement religion and turned His back on the Torah despite these words:

"For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:46-47

What does this all mean? 

Consider a prayer: Please, God, guide me as to what I should do.

It's time for you to repent and return to God's voice, return to hear and do His word and walk in the faith of His Kingdom path so that you can ready your lamp for your coming assignment. 

To be continued...

Shalom ya'll.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

What's the Fuss about in Acts 15 ?

If you want to stop skimming and dig deeper into the background story of Acts 15, you may be at the right place to unwind some rampant disinformation. 

Here we'll explore some Bible basics, including the pagan problem and its ongoing conflict with the Bible in the days of Paul of Tarsus. 

If you'll hang around and study the big picture Scriptures for yourself, you will find a hidden treasure or two in the book of Acts that can help you act on it.

I don't want to be irreverent in any way with a golf analogy, but for me golf can give a parable-like perspective to Acts 15. 

Many people enjoy the game of a lifetime. I do, but it would be unfair to ask any rank beginner with no instruction  to start playing the game day one from the championship tees.

Bigger than that challenge, it would be disheartening to require that same beginner to step in front of tens of thousands in the gallery with millions watching on TV to tee it up at the first tee of Augusta National during The Masters.

Whether back tee or first tee at Augusta, any raw, untrained beginner would become discouraged immediately in the first round and likely quit before finishing the 18th hole. One problem would be the standards of play, the Rules of golf. The beginner would likely be penalized several times or likely get disqualified, tossed out of the game.

The Rules of golf aren't designed to punish a golfer. Their purpose is to guide and help the golfer play the game correctly as it is meant to be played by everyone. No one is above the rules, they apply to everyone in the same way. They are simple but can become complex to decipher the right decision on how to apply them in certain situations. For that reason, both the R&A's Rules Committee and the USGA rules committee write their rulings to clarify any ambiguity that might arise from the Rules and allows you to correctly interpret the complete Rules of Golf.

Every professional knows the Rules, many carry the Rule book in their golf bag. They also know that in golf, a good game not only starts with rulebook basics but sound advice about a few swing basics. Coaching the golf swing starts with four basics: grip, stance, posture and alignment.

In the beginning, the important thing is to fall in love with the joy of the game, otherwise it can become frustrating and after one or two tries, many people feel defeated and they quit trying. 

For those that persevere after the basics are learned and they become good habits, the next step is to move on to more advanced, systematic training to learn just how the game should be played so that your performance is at its best. 

That process takes many years for most people and if you toss in tournament golf into the equation, the heart of determination and confidence comes into play.

Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Jack Bobby Jones all took the same steps, one step at a time.

Not only that, throughout their competitive careers, they all had teachers and mentors they could trust and rely on for guidance beyond the basics, and they all excelled because of that, yet their tournament success was due to the intangible, their heart. 

Ben Hogan did not take the usual path with a swing coach. 

Hogan's swing was basically self-taught and because of that fact, it took him many, many years before he became a major champion. Turning pro in 1929 at age 17, it wasn't until 1940, at age 28 that he started to win on tour when he finally broke through. His first individual title came with the North & South Open. It took six more years for his first victory in the big four "Majors" championships. His first victory came with the PGA Championship in 1946, then the US Open in 1948, The Masters in 1951 and finally at the British Open in 1953, Hogan topped off golf's grand slam pinnacle of all four major championships after 24 years as a professional.

Like I said, this story is not supposed to be irreverent, but it gives some parable perspective on reality and all the fuss in Acts 15.

In my Scripture studies, I found that the way to do what God says to do through His teaching and instruction is much the same. Walking God's way takes time, devotion, daily practice and a good mentor. Except by miracle, healing is always a process, whether body mind or soul.

Almighty God starts with the basics to build and mold our character into His image. We are all born and gifted by our Creator with certain temperaments and personalities, however our character develops over time by the choices we make if we seek to be a Godly person.

When we turn the pages in the book of Acts to chapter 15 we see a conflict of the process of character building with tradition and a takkanah teaching on conversion in the very first verse that Paul contended with...
"Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 

No need to read further, right here and there we see the issue at hand. Some men were saying salvation is based on circumcision, what you do, not what God does for you. The context at hand is that this among other takkanot enacted in the time of the Second Temple were instituted by some rabbis not based directly on the written commandments but their religious interpretation.

Reading on to just the fifth verse we find the religious argument... 

"But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”
First things first. Don't take text out of context!

Some of the Pharisees, likely not all had developed a doctrine that was not what Moses actually wrote, and the takkanah was not focused on God's character. This Acts 15 debate points to the Galatian question Paul raised about a takkanah rule from enactment from a halakha he was very familiar with. 

After all he was a Pharisee.

What's all the fuss in Acts 15? The Pharisees were directing people to observe the law of Moses only after circumcision. 

Paul instructed his understudy Timothy to observe the law of Moses. You can read about that in Paul's letter to Timothy and take note there was no New Testament when he wrote this:
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2Timothy 3:16-17   
Today, some have weakened the Pharisee's admonition to direct non-Jews to observe the Law of Moses. It's a takkanah rule with a status of new tradition called Ben Noah that non-Jews observe the “Noahide Laws.” Today, the Halakhic religious opinion basically says if non-Jews that want to honor Torah they only need to observe the seven Noahide laws and can ignore other God's other Torah instructions that are for Jews only, despite the fact Moses wrote this:
There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you. Exodus 12:49 
Moses did not write: there shall be one law for the native and another Noahide law for the stranger who sojourns among you.

The Noahide ruling for non-Jews is not from Scripture, it comes from the Talmud including Sanhedrin 56a; cf. Tosefta Avodah Zarah 8:4 and Genesis Rabbah 34:8.

Noahide forgets the rest of God's instruction, its a problem much like the issue at hand in Acts 15 that deals with a Pharisee mandate inserted as a requirement for God's salvation. 

To understand what was really happening in Jerusalem, we can't start with a verse snippet or two, and we can can't unravel the Bible with this chapter standing alone. We can't take text out of context. Come to think of it, there were no numbered chapters when Acts was written, so we need to have to step back and pay look to the bigger picture.

Five years ago, a very good friend pointed out the storyline begins in Antioch. You can find the city in the prologue to the story before it unfolds in Acts 14. My good friend wisely noted the context of Antioch's culture was steeped in mythology and idol worship:

"In order to understand this, you have to understand who and what the people of Antioch were and what activities they engaged in.  This area in Northern Syria, was under the control of the Seleucids.  

Seleucus was one of the four generals under Alexander the Great, who obtained this property after Alexander died.  He worshipped the sun god Zeus and dedicated the capital city of Antioch to Zeus.  These folks sacrificed to idols and engaged in all forms of sexual immorality and the elders of the early church knew this all too well.  They were simply saying, hey guys, these practices that you engaged in under the name of Zeus are not good for you, it would be best for you to stop it." 

So what is this yoke and burden that Peter and James are talking about?  Isn't that the law?  I don't think so.  Jesus clearly states in Matthew 11:30 that his yoke is easy and his burden is light and previously in Matthew 5:17-20, that he did not come to do away with the law, so this "law" that Jesus did not come to do away with could not be the burden and yoke that Peter or James don't want to lay on the shoulders of those at Antioch - or they would be in direct contradiction of their Lord Yeshua!"

His point is a Bible basic. Don't take text out of context.

We can't speed read past the background of Antioch, or the culture of life in Roman or Greek paganism if we want to get a grasp on the issues discussed in the midrash in Jerusalem. Midrash is an old Jewish way of seeking the answers to questions by discussing the meaning behind the words of the Torah. Simply put, it's about discussing what is God saying and what should we do about it.

My friend's point: if we are to understand the decision in Jerusalem, we have to start in Antioch. We can't ignore the facts on the ground as the men were dealing with an immoral, idol-myth infested culture which was the "Antioch issue" in Acts 15. If we start in Antioch, we should not get side-tracked to understand the common sense of the real world situation. 

Let's take a look at the four fundamentals of the Midrash decision in Jerusalem that never tossed aside God's instruction manual, the book of life.

On one hand, we need to know that sect of the Pharisees preached their own takkanot oral law tradition. Not all, but some of them included doctrines not based on the heart of the written Word of God, but on opinions that added religion to the Word of God. 

At the same time, we have to know people in Antioch were coming out of pagan Greco-Roman ways that included idol worship and lust-laden sexual immorality in the name of Zeus.

The group of Pharisees that had showed up in Antioch were preaching their tradition that unless you were circumcised, you cannot study Torah or become "a people for God's name." They thought they were doing the right thing but missed the mark. Read Acts 15:13-18 for more on that and as you do, don;t forget Abraham, the recognized patriarch of Biblical faith. 

Abraham is the first man in the Bible to be called God's friend, yet he was God's friend long before he met Hagar and was told to out a sharp blade. 

It's also time to open your Bible and go back to the end of the Exodus journey from Egypt too. 

Did you know the mixed multitude assembly that left Egypt and followed Almighty God for 40 years as He tabernacled among them, encamped around Almighty God long before they ever held the knife of circumcision?

Also consider James, the leader in Jerusalem whose real name was Jacob (Yacob). He pointed everyone back to the prophetic words found in Amos 9:11-12. James didn't own a New Testament, but He relied on Amos that had shared words from another prophet... Nathan. 

We need to know about Nathan, because he's the man king David sought counsel from some 250 years before Amos ever picked up his scroll or pen. By the way, you'll not find a book in the Bible named after Nathan, but you'll find his fame embedded in 2 Samuel 7:2, 2 Samuel 12:25, 1 Kings 1:8-45, 1 Chronicles 17:1, 1 Chronicles 29:29, 2 Chronicles 9:29, 2 Chronicles 29:25 and Psalm 51:1. 

He may not have a book named after him, but Nathan is a very big deal. He's the prophet that revealed Almighty God's redemption plan to David. That promise is that the Messiah of God's Kingdom to come is a prophetic fact. Nathan told king David about God's promise. Nathan's did not come up with it, prophets never share their own ideas or interpretations, like Moses they write down Almighty God's unchanging declarations. 

Elohim God gave Nathan a vision of the future. That vision showed Nathan that a descendant of David would build a household, the family of God. The citizens and family members in that house would belong to an everlasting kingdom under Messiah's throne, but that promise would begin to unfold only after David was long gone and in the grave. 

That is the gospel of the Kingdom promise found in 1Chronicles 17:9-15 and its tied to the sermons Jesus proclaimed over and again when He said, repent for the Kingdom is near. The chronicle reads:
"And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more. And violent men shall waste them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will subdue all your enemies. 
Moreover, I declare to you that the LORD will build you a house. When your days are fulfilled to walk with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. 

He shall build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son
I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.'" 
In accordance with all these words, and in accordance with all this vision, Nathan spoke to David."
The disciple James understood Nathan's vision. After all, he had heard Yeshua's sermons, he walked with Him and saw that what He said was what He did, so James believed God's commitment to do everything that was filled up with meaning by Yeshua's words and actions. 

That's why James paraphrased the prophetic message from Amos. He knew the Scriptures were true and unchanging. James had read and studied the Scriptures for years and he knew Yeshua would keep the promise to restore the fallen tabernacle of David declared in Amos 9:11.

With that restoration promise, James ties Amos' vision directly to Nathan's prophetic words in 2 Samuel 7:8-17. The laser focus is:
When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 2Samuel 7:12-13 
Nathan's prophecies are also supported by the witness of other promises found in Jeremiah 3:17-23, Isaiah 25:3 and Psalm 106:47. These tie to ruthless, heathen, pagan Gentiles that once rejected the God of Israel. The promise is they too will one day repent and revere Almighty God and by doing so, they will glorify Him:
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.
No doubt, Noah Webster was familiar with Nathan. In Mr. Webster's 1828 Dictionary he sheds some old light on the Gentiles saying: 

"GEN'TILE, noun [Latin gentilis; from Latin gens, nation, race; applied to pagans.] In the scriptures, a pagan; a worshipper of false gods; any person not a Jew or a christian; a heathen."

Mr. Webster points to old issue of idol worship as being their character distinction. This is linked to the heathens, the image-worshippers according to the 1880 McClintock and Strong Biblical Cyclopedia:

"As to the religion of heathenism, it is "a wild growth on the soil of fallen human nature, a darkening of the original consciousness of God's deification of the rational and irrational creature, and a corresponding corruption of the moral sense, giving the sanction of religion to natural and unnatural vices. Even the religion of Greece, which, as an artistic product of the imagination. has been justly styled the religion of beauty, is deformed by this moral distortion."

James' voice in Jerusalem reverberated with the gospel good news of a song of king David for those that would turn to the Kingdom constitution and away from idol worship much like the Egyptian and other sojourners that had left town with Jacob's descendants during the exodus:
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. 1Chronicles 16:1:23-24
Holy Bible, believe it or not, just when you thought it was new, the Kingdom gospel assignment that Jesus gave to His disciples to proclaim the good news to "all nations" comes right out of the book of Chronicles!! 
"And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations." Mark 13:10  
The foundation assignment to declare this kingdom good news to all nations was not old and done away with and the faith of the disciples was not new. It was and is firmly rooted the so-called Old Testament, and if you'll study it, you'll see for yourself, it's not old at all. It's God's life giving voice on how to follow Him so that He may tabernacle with you.

Are you ready to go back to the Jerusalem debate?

The doctrine of religious conversion was a manmade mandate, a bad decision raised by a tradition of a sect of the Pharisees, not the Jewish disciples nor Paul the Pharisee. It was a tradition not found in the Hebrew Bible that never states... "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

Do you see that requirement in 1Chronicles 17:9-15?

Was getting circumcised a requirement for Abraham to become a friend of God or for Israel and the sojourners with them to walk with God for 40 years in the wilderness journey?

Nope it's not there. The problem was the party circumcision forgot something that's BIG in the Torah. Paul explains that in Romans 4:1-12 like this:

Our works or deeds never provide righteousness to earn redemption or salvation. No doctrine from man's conversion tradition ever saved anyone, God's heart of mercy does. God's redemptive response to repentance is forgiveness. Bottomline, salvation starts with a heart of repentance, not a knife. 

Jesus never said,  get circumcised for the Kingdom is near. 

He said "repent." 

Faith in Almighty God's deed is righteousness. The Father responds to repentance with forgiveness, that's the blessing is what counts in the end.

Paul proved he never forsake the Torah when he arrived in Jerusalem some time after the Jerusalem Council meeting. Paul did not confuse works and obedience to The Lord's teaching and instruction with salvation, yet Acts 21 shows Paul kept the Torah of circumcision. 

That fact had nothing to do with salvation. You might think of it this way: not eating unclean foods like bacon wrapped shrimp, crab and clams never redeemed anyone, but following God's instruction to not eat meat that God says is unclean (harmful) will keep you blessed and protected from nasty zoonotic diseases caused by viruses, bacterium and toxins that infest creatures that all serve a God given purpose to clean up the environment.

When Paul returned from Macedonia and Greece he met with James. You can read Paul's reaction when he heard that rumors were spreading fake news saying he taught Torah keeping Jews living among Gentiles to forget about Moses:
When we had come to Jerusalem, the brothers received us gladly. On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. After greeting them, he related one by one the things that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 
And when they heard it, they glorified God. And they said to him, "You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed. They are all zealous for the law [Torah],  and they have been told about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or walk according to our customs. 
What then is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. Do therefore what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow... 
Then Paul took the men, and the next day he purified himself along with them and went into the temple, giving notice when the days of purification would be fulfilled and the offering presented for each one of them. Acts 21:17-23, Acts 21:26
Luke does not give the details of the vow, it seems likely someone had died so the men under the Nazirite vow outlined in Numbers 6 needed to fulfill God's instruction.

Nazirite or not, Kingdom redemption is God's response in mercy and grace that starts with what we choose to do in repentance. That's the sermon Jesus preached everywhere.

He never said forsake the Torah teaching of God, He said it remains and Yeshua compared it to salt and light. 

Paul knew what this meant: 
"You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."  
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Matthew 5:13-18 
Do you see it? 

Yeshua boldly refutes the replacement theology deception that the Torah can be ever be done away with as long as the earth spins on its axis and orbits the sun.

The accomplishment He is referencing is the goal of  Torah... the final redemption!

What He is describing is ancient Jewish teaching that redemption the process of restoring man from the bondage of sin described in the Torah. The Final Redemption, Geulah in Hebrew, comes in stages and involves Almighty God and man's response (both Jew and non-Jew "Ger") as the children of God.

With some help from the historic context of the infestation of paganism in Antioch, we can begin to understand the reason that Paul, argued against the Pharisee's ordinance that was not drawn from the written word of God's Torah. 

Paul understood: earning salvation and eternal life in the Geulah is not found in God's plan or His voice of instruction, the Torah! The focal point here, particularly for the Ger, is in Ezekiel 37:28: "And the Goyim shall know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever."

The issue at hand was a false claim that "earning" salvation by what we do aka circumcision was possible. God's mercy and grace are what the Pharisees forgot about, yet its the heart of the Bible.

The background to this Midrash story is that Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem with Barnabas because he  came to know the Kingdom gospel. Paul and Barnabas were two witnesses to Torah treasures found in Jeremiah 3:17-23, Isaiah 25:3 and Psalm 106:47 that declare God's great lovingkindness for everyone

So, the two men went to meet with the disciples of Yeshua in Jerusalem regarding the issue of whether circumcision was required for a non-Jews of the nations to become a member of God's household, a citizen of the Kingdom.

Together, they discussed the Pharisee's tradition with an eye on the written Scriptures, so take some notes about what their Midrash never mentioned...

Do not blaspheme God's name, 
do not murder or make
idols to worship them, or don't
honor the Sabbath, don't steal or lie, 
honor parents, or covet 
covet another's wife and property.

None of the other Ten Commandments was discussed that day in Jerusalem. 

Why not? 

The reason is a common sense Bible basic, but something has been lost in translation in a million sermons that call the Torah done away with. 

Take note too, a careful reading of Acts 15 reveals that they did not agree that a person coming into the faith without circumcision "should not" be circumcised

The reason they did not is another study.

The key issue at hand that the council dealt with were the big four "pagan problems" God The Father is concerned about and how the Torah of God deals with them because pagan life in Antioch was steeped in idol worship, fornication and blood lust much like a modern Halloween horror movie with a script right out of Babylon and Egypt.

Again, the disciples were dealing with the four Bible basics, milk as Paul would call it in 1 Corinthians 3:2. 

Remember grip, stance, posture and alignment? Basics are important for every beginner like milk for a baby.

The men in Jerusalem concluded that the former Gentiles needed to turn away from their horror movie habits learned from years of practice in a Zeus temple if they ever expected to properly worship God along side anyone in a synagogue each week as a child of God. 

Zeus idol worship was bizarre, heathen and detestable to God. It's paganism was contaminated by sexual formication, eating strangled animals and raw meat, drinking blood and so on. The Jerusalem council knew that the pagan problem from Babylon was in opposition to God's Torah instruction manual that was given to unwind slavery and the idol plagued sins of Egypt. 

They knew the basics of paganism were the reason God started His covenant at Sinai with you shall have no other gods before me. They also knew God said this too:
You shall therefore keep my statutes and my rules; if a person does them, he shall live by them: I am the LORD. Leviticus 18:5
And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them. Leviticus 20:23 
The faithful men in that midrash knew the covenant message is critical: Turn away (and repent) from "idolatry" and its unholy abominations and detestable customs. 

They knew it because they all believed what is written in Leviticus 17-10-16 and Leviticus 18.

Yes, you read that right, Acts 15 is a real world, real life midrash decision on God's voice in Leviticus and Moses wrote every word. They believed Moses because they believed God and were witnesses to the fact that Yeshua lived, breathed and taught everything Moses wrote and never added or took away from the written word of God. 

For those that have assumed from an old pulpit sermon or two that Acts 15 does away with Leviticus, think again

Peter proves it remains!!

Take a moment to read 1 Peter 2. A big part of that short, to the point letter provides deep insight on the Acts 15 decision and it points to the entry door of Yeshua’s sermon's of God's gospel of His  heavenly Kingdom on earth. Peter knew the path to choose life includes a walk in clean and set apart ways according to God's written Word.

If you find this mind bending, don't give up, the truth of what can do about it is worth the journey! As my friend told me, it time to unwind the tangled wire of church tradition from the axle of God's voice.

If you don't, your journey can get cut short insisting on an old lie that God changes His mind. 

If you think Acts 15 changed God's instruction, you'll think Paul was really confused about everything including the council's conclusion, or that he simply forgot it when he penned Romans 3:1-12 and wrote this:
"Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect."
Think about that and stew on it for a while.

Did Paul break the so-called "new rules" of the council in the very next Acts chapter by circumcising Timothy and preaching that the decrees of Torah are to kept as plainly described in Acts 16?

Nope, he did not. Skip the old sermons, re-read Acts 16 for yourself in one sitting.

As you study, don't forget the storyline behind the story. Timotheus (aka Timothy) was the son of a father that was a Greek Gentile of the nations. 

Timothy's upbringing was the reason he had not been circumcised, that is 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 love, respect and giving honor back to Almighty God. 

Timothy also knew The Lord's teaching and instruction (Torah) is the Kingdom constitution that Messiah Yeshua lived out and taught constantly. He must have known Yeshua said this at the Sermon on the Mount: "do not think one jot or tittle is done away with."

Not a jot or tittle, so keep in mind:
"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 blatant idolatry embedded in the Greco-Roman lifestyle of Zeus worship, the council knew the Ten Commandments and the details that follow them in the scroll of Leviticus that provide the mountaintop teaching at Mount Sinai. They also knew first and foremost of God's lovingkindness, and that fact was understood in the council of the disciples. 

There's a hidden message if you will in Acts 15 and Acts 16. They all understood "holy" and they knew this too:
The LORD descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the LORD. Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "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; yet He will by no means leave [the guilty] unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations." Exodus 34:5-7 NASB
If you doubt the background story of that council meeting in Jerusalem, do something and grab a Bible and believe it, set aside 15 minutes and read four short chapters in Leviticus 17-20. 

You may not know it but these four chapters are known as two Torah portions from Leviticus called "Acharei Mot" which means "after the death" and "Kedoshim" which means "holiness" or set apart-ness. 

Think about that order too, after the death - holiness seta apart. 

Now think about the required death of the ways of idolatry are to learn to walk properly with the holy Almighty God. Think about this too, it took 40 years to learn to walk with God before Israel ever entered the Holy Land and the whole time those that entered were not yet circumcised before they crossed over (more on that later).

The Jerusalem council of apostles and elders understood this, after all they had read and studied those two Torah portions for years, so naturally they agreed with them. Did you know these two big time Torah portions provide the basic training the disciples declared for Gentiles coming into a faith walk from the horrors and abominations of paganism?

The council understood the Bible basics of Acharei Mot and Kedoshim. We must too!

The council knew that new Gentile believers must stop doing the ways of idol worship immediately because they reeked of the same Egyptian smell of the pagan idol lifestyle picture shown to the world in Leviticus 17-20. 

The Hebrew name for the book of Leviticus is "Vayikra" it means "and He called."

What goes around comes around. God called out Israel from Egyptian slavery and the pagan ways they had adopted. We know they did this because of the golden calf. It's the evidence.

A big part of that slavery was mixing in pagan-idol worship and the Egyptian society was embedded with a host of abominable false-gods. You can find them still depicted on their hieroglyphs and there's a God reason they remain. They serve as a witness to the world. 

The disciples knew that God's word in "Vayikra" plainly declared the Bible basics against pagan abominable practices:
For everyone who does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be cut off from among their people. So keep my charge never to practice any of these abominable customs that were practiced before you, and never to make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.” Leviticus 18:29-30  
Back to the book of Acts, the new believing Gentiles were coming like Isreal and Egypt. They were coming out of a Greco-Roman pagan lifestyle infused with idol worship focused on traditions from the Canaanites that had morphed into religious life.  So, the disciples warned first against four unholy abominations:
"...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 guideposts against the abominable customs of irreverent pagan life noted in the bold print of Acts 15 were never intended to be the sum of all the ways of God to be learned by Gentiles any more than Leviticus 17-20 can be considered the sum of God's Kingdom instruction found in the balance of the Bible.

Bottom line, the former pagans were not ready to start at the first tee at Augusta, there was more to learn every Sabbath. The reason it takes time to build God-like character,

The apostles that met in Jerusalem knew what they were instructed to do from the Torah and they understood that the balance of God's holy ways would be learned in the weekly synagogue Torah portion teachings as al the Scriptures would be taught beyond Leviticus 17-20.

How can we know? Because 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 start in the Super Bowl, 
could a first year med student perform a heart transplant? 

God's holy character heart is found in His mercy and lovingkindness. Since the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Hebrew Scriptures were systematically taught in cycles of public reading every Sabbath as the Torah scroll and the Prophets were unrolled each year for for training in righteousness to be repeated in lessons over and again every year. The reason, it can take time to learn to walk in step with God's character.

Paul and the Jewish disciples that met in Jerusalem understood this because they lived it and believed the Torah would mold a person's character, 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 decisions through the faith training we call discipleship. Being a disciple is not only about believing.

That's why Paul wrote these words to young Timothy long before the New Testament was ever compiled or known to exist:
"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
The only Scriptures Paul knew was the same Bible Jesus taught, the Hebrew Bible. Paul never thought of his letters as Scripture, but he know all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for training one week at a time, one Sabbath at a time. 

Reread the gospels, that is precisely how Yeshua taught every Sabbath and its the way the disciples had all learned the Scriptures. Their advanced Biblical training cam from the way Yeshua of Nazareth was brought up. This is proven in Luke 4:16:
And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.
For the disciples, weekly Scripture study in a congregation was like eating bread on Shabbat, you never swallow the loaf all at once, you chew one bite at a time, one week at a time to grow in faith, equipped for every good work. We must all do the same.

Hebrews 5:12-14 provides more on this critical maturing process:
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
One big reason for gathering with others to hear the meat of the Word of Elohim God is that everyday, average people 2,000 years ago or even 500 years ago did not own a Bible, after all, there were no printing presses for another 1,600 years.

So, the Jewish men that met in Jerusalem outlined four Bible basics God had set forth as principles for those that had not grown up hearing God's Word. The reason: If a believer misses the mark by walking outside the realm of God’s Kingdom, that carnal, pagan behavior will open the door giving a serpent legal rights to come at them.

Paul and the disciples were relying on the process of weekly study of God's written word for those Gentiles formerly participating in a hedonistic lifestyle that required them to: 1) sacrifice to idols and 2) eat raw meat or blood, eat animals that were strangled 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 agreed to four Bible basics for beginners just as Acts 15:21 says, because 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 knew believers must learn to 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-Jesus. Don't set aside even the smallest instruction:
"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 of people has become a BIG part of the restoration of the fallen tabernacle of David.

The question we must ask then is: what on earth happened? 

If God's word was "the way" of Sabbath study for the disciples of Yeshua 2,000 years ago in the ways of righteousness, why does the mainstream "church" today not study in the same manner or even meet on the Sabbath or teach the Torah, The Prophets and the Writings like Jesus and the disciples did?

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

Stop and think about that for awhile. It's time to challenge tradition, time study written Scripture as well as the context of culture and history... if you do you will uncover the "Constantine problem" of replacement theology tied to all the fuss about Acts 15. 

That new problem is that Christians have stumbled over the written Torah and Yeshua without knowing it. We forgot the Torah He taught was given by God as the pathway of righteousness and holiness leading to a deeper walk into Elohim's heavenly kingdom.

Here's the thing, we forgot the true Hebrew Bible roots of our Messiah that say:
“My teaching is not My own,” Jesus replied. “It comes from Him who sent Me. If anyone desires to do His will, he will know whether My teaching is from God or whether I speak on My own. He who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory, but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is a man of truth; in Him there is no falsehood." John 7: 16-19
We forgot the meaning Matthew 7:13-14 too: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 

We forgot Luke 13:24 "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

We forgot so we are in famine and don't know it: “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord GOD/Adonai Elohim, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD.” Amos 8:11 

Continuing with Acts 15, we see that Paul is the focus to a large degree. The reason, he reached out to the Gentiles, yet he too was Pharisee, a Jew taught by Gamaliel and his ministry assignment from Yeshua was to the nations (aka Gentiles). Think about that long and hard.

Despite being a lifelong student of Scripture, he had stumbled in a few traditions, but his eyes were opened and he agreed with the disciples that learning about the Kingdom lifestyle outlined by the teaching of Torah takes time and training in God's written word. Yet he remained a Pharisee.

It's time to ask yourself if the four guidelines of Acts 15 were the only rules for righteous living for the "church" as the spotless bride of Christ, then why do we all still agree to God's voice against murder, or do we? What about abortion for convenience, after all there's grace, right?

Why don't we just teach our children that theft or disobedience to a parent's instruction is fine and that lying, cheating, adultery and cult idol worship are A-OK too. 

We all know murder and mayhem are wrong, yet many ignore The Lord's Sabbath, His Feasts and the Torah -- calling it old and done away with at the cross.

Why do we?

On the road to Damascus, Paul experienced the new covenant "Torah of the heart" and his letters reflect this, but it took time, even for Paul. After that eye-opener, like Ben Hogan, it took him years before he was prepared and ready to lead the way. We know because he said so:
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. 
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. Galatians 1:16-18 
Grip, stance, posture and alignment have to be relearned if we have bad habits. 

It took Paul three years. 

He knew all the traditions of the sect of the Pharisees and he had to unlearn some of them but not all. 

That's not my opinion, he said so himself long after the bright light on the road to Damascus:
"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 
The Pharisees rightfully trusted in the hope of resurrection. Paul did as well.

The council at Jerusalem wasn't turning against the Biblical instruction of circumcision Paul upheld just a page later in the next Acts chapter with Timothy. The council did not do away with any of God's words, even the least of them recorded by Moses that Yeshua of Nazareth explained with authority including the amazing Sermon on the Mount as He held up the importance of every jot and tittle.

Paul upheld the Torah as well, we know because he put it in writing:
"Do we then overthrow the law (Torah) by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law (Torah)." Romans 3:31 
That's exactly what the Acts 15 council did as well, they upheld the Torah of lovingkindness, not only that they started with Leviticus trusting the rest would be taught each and every Sabbath.

Today, many Christians claim Galatians and Acts 15 as the New Testament rule of law for the church. 

The men that met in Jerusalem as described in Acts 15 included Paul, Barnabas, Peter, James, Simeon and "the rest of the apostles and elders." They outlined some Bible basics straight from God's voice out of Leviticus. They didn't think of it as old and done away with. Instead they assumed God's teaching and instruction, the Torah message to the world would be properly taught each and every Sabbath. 

It's worth repeating we know because 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
What they didn't know is that within 300 years, a church religion claimed by Emperor Constantine would officially declare a Gentile opinion against Moses, the Sabbath and the synagogue as the rule of law. 

It's time to reject Greco-Roman views that wear Scriptural blinders to Yeshua's Biblical obedience and life offering with a view that non-Jews grafted as a wild branch into the assembly need to show that grace abounds and there's no holiness other than abstaining from four things idols, sexual immorality, strangled meat and blood is a false teaching.

Pulpit new religion theories crash headlong into Almighty God's thunderous voice. He declares:
For the assembly, there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before YHWH. One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you.” Exodus 15:15-16
The Jewish elders, the disciples and Paul all knew there's more instruction from God that was delivered to Moses than a condemnation of pagan 1) idol worship, 2) sexual immorality, 3) eating animals choked to death and 4) drinking blood. 

The purpose of their message is that the Gentiles must take the first steps to turn from paganism and return to the whole of Torah. It's a process, a lifestyle to be learned based in the written word not man-made rules like the Galatians had fallen for that circumcision was required for salvation.

You should take Torah in steps each week too. Its well worth repeating a third time...
"For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is [to be] read every Sabbath." Acts 15:21
If you are wondering about the disciples admonition against blood and idols you can find the Bible basics for their Jerusalem Council declaration in the Torah portions binding those who choose to join with Israel ingrafting the same standards as the assembly of the children of God under the tutelage of Moses. 

For one example, study the Bible to the Torah portions that the men of the Jerusalem Counsel were talking about.

Let's start with portion Re'eh, it's the fourth portion of weekly Sabbath reading found in the Torah summary sermon of Moses we now know as Deuteronomy. Turn to Deuteronomy 11:26–16:17. In this reading of the weekly parashah the Jerusalem Council focused on, Moses' sermon declares God's choice between blessings and curses and he repeats this three times because it's very important, yet it is easy, a light yoke:
Deuteronomy 12:16 " shall not eat the blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water." 
Deuteronomy 12:23:24 " sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out on the ground like water." 
Deuteronomy 15:23 "you shall not eat its blood; you are to pour it out on the ground like water." 
In the weekly portion Acharei Mot Leviticus 17:10 tells us why the disciples chose their words. Acharei Mot also addresses eating animals choked to death. Take note of the big difference: 
 Leviticus 17:15–16 “If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.” 
"And every person who eats what dies of itself or what is torn by beasts, whether he is a native or a sojourner, shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening; then he shall be clean. But if he does not wash them or bathe his flesh, he shall bear his iniquity."
The prohibitions of the Jerusalem Council are embedded in the Torah portions of Acharei Mot and Re'eh.

The anti-idol basic found in the Ten Commandments is repeated in Leviticus 17:7-9.

Leviticus 18 and Leviticus 20 outline sexual immoralities named in the Torah portions of Acharei Mot and Kedoshim.

The moral of the Acts 15 story is a proper Torah walk like Yeshua's is learned -- it's a grafting-in process, not just blind faith.

Don't fall for a pulpit theory from the dreamer of dreams called Constantine. If you have, then know The LORD is testing you to find out if you love El Shaddai Almighty God with all your heart and with all your soul. Instead, hold to the oracles of God's voice that a few new church fathers and an Emperor turned their backs on and their descendants adopted.

Bottomline, Constantine forgot that Jesus is a Jew.

Jesus warned about what He would say to those that reject the Father's voice calling it old and done away with when He stressed that obedience is essential to true discipleship (see John 8:31) instead of people following Him in a confession prayer of name belief even if followed by miracles (see Matthew 7:21-23).

Gentiles have to re-evaluate the will of The Father which is The Torah.

Is the will of The Father your lifestyle and how does it affect your witness of faith in the Jewish Messiah? 

Matthew 7:21 should be the scariest verse in the Bible for any Christian calling the Old Testament done away with, hung on a cross or rearranged by the Acts 15 Jerusalem Council... 
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
Repent and be like Paul, open your eyes and you will see that short-sided views on Acts 15 are a misguided perception of Paul's statement that false brethren were attempting to turn believers from the truth of the gospel of the Kingdom that Moses wrote about in Deuteronomy and Yeshua taught long before His disciples ever knew about the Passover trial, the cross or the promise of salvation in resurrection.

Yeshua's gospel of the Kingdom message is still misunderstood, yet post-Holocaust eyes on Zion and the Jewish people are being opened today to restoration relationships for both Jews and Christians as a community of faith comprised of native born and sojourner. 

It's time for any sojourner to understand that the Jewish Messiah is 100% Jewish. 

Do you know what that means if you want to follow Him?

Many pulpits have mistakenly portrayed the Acts 15 decision as that of "former Jews" that turned their back on the Old Testament and started a new religion. They did not. Had they done that, the would have rejected the Sermon on the Mount from the greatest in the Kingdom. 

None of the disciples, apostles or Paul started a new religion. 

On the contrary, they upheld the law (Torah) focused on the faith, mercy and grace teaching of lovingkindness found at the very heart of Torah revealed on the mountaintop of Sinai according to the writing of Moses.

They never imagined the church would abandon Moses, the Sabbath or the Torah will of The Father.

What does this all mean? 

Consider a prayer: Please, God, guide me as to what I should do.

It's time for you to repent and return to God's voice, return to hear and do His word and walk in the faith of His Kingdom path so that you can ready your lamp for your coming assignment. 

Shalom ya'll.