MY SCRIPTURE STUDIES

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Remove the Blinders - Study the Bible!

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 gospels and the record in the book of Acts, we might take note that these accounts only record an estimated 50 days of Jesus' life.

Most often the accounts are scarce snippets of information with the exception of a few days about the man whose real name is Yeshua.

Yet, the words written and spoken about Him over the past 1,900 years are impossible to count as are His deeds: 

"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

Many today do not see His teaching as He did despite all the words written and spoken about the Sermon on the Mount. Yet, the red letter truth is in plain sight if we will just open the Bible and take off our Greco-Roman sunshades with an open heart. 

Being unfamiliar with the foundation of Yeshua's words can make them seem new. The red letter reality of His voice is rooted in an unwavering commitment to the voice and words of righteousness of our Heavenly Abba Father written by Moses and the Prophets.   

If you are brave enough to stop and listen to His voice, the stark reality is that Yeshua did not say anything about a new religion, we know because He said so. If you'll open you heart you will see that, especially if a relationship with Yeshua of Nazareth is your goal. 

So, what did He actually say?

In my scriptures studies, I've learned that Rabbi Yeshua 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 authority were they amazed by, what were they thinking?

Yeshua's red letter authority are from the words He taught infused with truth from the Hebrew Scriptures (aka the Tanach) the written record of God's voice. 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

His red letter words repeat the truth of God's words, so it's time for you to do something about that.

Yeshua filled them with meaning in everything He did while focusing 100% on the life giving importance of upholding the truth and spirit of the Father's voice for life in the Kingdom of God. 

That's why Yeshua gave anyone that added to or took away from the written words that declare the Father's voice so many challenges about traditions that added to truth. 

Don't forget, in the wilderness, in fear people did not want to hear what the God of Israel had to say at Mount Sinai, do you? The earth was physically reacting to God's presence with lightning bolts, thunder, fire, smoke and shaking. Everyone but Moses was frightened to the core because they could see, hear and feel that they were encountering holiness at that mountain. 

Read on and your will find that Yeshua's not so new words will shock your traditional thinking. It's time to wake up, don't be afraid of the truth. That requires that you do something. The reason, faith without action is not faith.

Most anyone that holds religious tradition above God's Word had and has a problem with Yeshua whether they know it or not. Those that argue with Yeshua are blinded by doctrine and tradition. That's that still a problem if we believe that the truth is something new.

It's time to do something about truth and examine the tradition of a new religion doctrine that Yeshua never taught. 

Do you have the same problem with Yeshua that the Pharisees did and not even know it? 

That question is critical because 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, the Prophets or the Writings and that little understood fact is front and center in all of His red letter teaching. 

The hidden truth of the red letter words of the sermon teaching is that we must turn back to the Bible in repentance. That's the action plan of return God expects of us for a proper relationship.

After all, return is what repentance is about, it's about getting in the game, not a new ballgame. 

That sermon fulfills the voice of the Mighty One of Jacob. It is from the Shepherd Stone of Israel, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah that was promised in the blessing that Jacob gave to to his sons.

The life messages delivered that day in Galilee were like all the others that Yeshua gave to the crowds that followed Him, and believe it or not, Yeshua's words to multitudes always focused on the Kingdom of God, not the cross. 

That was for another day after the call for repentance to prepare for the Kingdom. That Passover day was a great day fulfilling God's purpose too. It is the life offering action required to undo the curse Adam and Eve brought on themselves, they're descendants and all of us. Fulfilling the Passover lamb of God offering promised by Abraham to Issac is a redemption covering for the entire world that chooses it.

I pray you keep reading on to see and hear the sermon's healing words, but they are not here to just read, you have to make a choice and do something about it. That's the reason Yeshua always healed people, he did something after faith action.

Everything Yeshua said and did upholds the written Word of God, that's our responsibility too as a disciple witness for Him. Hear, do and tell others.

During His walk across the promised land of the Bible, Yeshua used Biblical lessons and examples of everyday parables while calling everyone to do something. That is repentance and the way to turn toward the Kingdom of God. That fact is woven in the sermon and the 50 days that describe the day to day accounts of action in righteousness during His truth tour across Israel. 

Like Moses at the Red Sea, Yeshua entered His ministry of teaching and instruction with a mikveh. When Yeshua was at the Jordan River, before the immersion, despite His cousin John's objection, He told John the son of the Levite 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 immersion to the righteous requirement for two witnesses found in God's Word with the goal is to fulfill righteousness.

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. Yet, when we barely unroll the Torah scroll, we see the deceiver arriving on the scene with a lie that God does not mean what He says. 

That lie remains if you don't believe and follow what God says. If you do not hear the truth how will you do it? You will just do your own thing, eat, drink and be merry, because you too ignore Almighty God Elohim.

The startling thing is that among the first of His red letter words ever recorded before the sermon, Yeshua says just the opposite as He quotes Moses directly from Deuteronomy 8:3. Yeshua addressed that deceiver's lie with Moses words directly from the written 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 account that zeroes in on king Ahaz during Isaiah's day and the Immanuel prophecy given to Ahaz that's found in the Prophets. It's 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 Temple treasures. 

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

Sound familiar?

Have you noticed? Yeshua said nothing new in those red letters. His words are all firmly rooted in the Hebrew Bible. 

Believe it or not, haSatan responded with another lie! Yeshua's answer was the one Adam and Eve failed to deliver in Eden: "Get behind me, Hasatan! 

Then, Yeshua went straight back to summarize 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 always focused on the Moses' sermon: "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.” The gospel accounts summarize Yeshua's guidance in the first step of this calling:

 “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. Almighty God gave this same message to Ezekiel 600 years before Yeshua pointed everyone back to Abba Father's plea through the prophet Ezekiel 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 

Yeshau always taught that the door into the Kingdom of righteousness begins with teshuva repentance, aka a return to do the Holy Scriptures. Yeshua taught with parables too, but that was nothing new either. In fact, if you'll take the time to read and study the Lord God's voice recorded in Ezekiel 18, you'll find that chapter is Abba Father's personal refute to a misguided parable.

When we open the so-called new testament account of Yeshua's yeshiva time with His disciples that begins with Matthew, it is critically important to see that the first page is not new either. It begins 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 even see another survival trip to Egypt like Joseph's in Genesis 37. 

Matthew describes Yeshua's escape from Herod's death trap with an escape to Egypt as an infant. That mirrors young Moses who also escaped Pharaoh's death sentence when he ordered all Hebrew infant boys to be drowned. 

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

Background stories are critical to the framework foundation of truth. 

We can also see that Yeshua's Sermon on the Mount teaching incredibly lays out a prophetic fulfillment of the words written by Moses that are promised by the Father 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."

God's own voice tells us all that the words to be spoken by "the Prophet" will be The Father's words. 

That's critically important to understand when we return to the red letter sermon with repentance in mind with a humble heart.

Before we get to the sermon, do you remember the murder of children in Matthew's account? It ties to Rachel's weeping in Ramah described by Jeremiah years after her death. It also connects the death of the children in Moses' day to the baby boys murdered by Herod in Bethlehem. Rachel's tears are important. By the way, Rachel died and was buried in Bethlehem.

King Herod is known in history books as "Herod the Great." He wasn't so great. 

Matthew's account as well as those from historian Flavius Josephus and the Talmud all describe Herod as a ruthless barbaric king. 

True, years after Mark Anthony ordered him to capture Jerusalem, he greatly expanded Solomon’s Temple. He did that for his own benefit, and in doing so, sadly he created a ruling religious class in Jerusalem that was loyal to Herod the king. The reality is that Herod was just like king Ahaz as was his son Herod Antipas. King Herod built the Masada fortress palace for himself, it would later become not only his own grave, but the Roman death trap for many thousands of Jews and Masada marks the end of the beginning of their 1,800+ year exile from Israel with a horrific last stand that ended in suicide bt the Dead Sea. 

It's absolutely mind bending to consider, but the amazing thing is that another unimaginable massacre by Hitler and his madmen during the Holocaust would mark the return of the Jewish people to Israel. Only the providence of Almighty God Elohim could make that happen in 1948, so it's high time to hit your delete button, pray, fast and repent of any attitude you may have from an old sermon about a new replacment religion.

When we look back to king Herod, the record shows that he was an Edomite, an Idumean born around 74BC. An Idumean is the the Greek Hellenized name for an Edomite, the descendants of Esau. Don't forget, the Edomites were ancient enemies of the Jewish people. In fact, they were among the recruits that helped Nebuchadnezzar destroy Jerusalem. Believe it or not, in the 1st century, they were recruited again to serve Titus among the Roman Legions with the same result: destruction and desolation. 

History reveals that fact, the "Legions" of Titus were a remnant of the ancient enemies of Israel. 

What you many not know is that the Legions included recruits of local warrior tribesmen, descendants of Ishmael, Esau and the Philistines all drafted by the Romans from the native peoples of the Middle East 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.

Titus promised them Roman citizenship and he used them to attack Jerusalem and destroy Herod's temple and slaughter innocent Jewish men, women and children. Those native people groups returned again in 1948 to attack again and they lost. They fought again in 1967, and they lost again in the Six Day War. The reason, God keeps His promises.

Herod has a dark connection to Haman. This is critical to the bigger story because his son Herod Antipas was the 1st-century Roman tetrarch of the districts of Galilee and Perea. They were client states invaded by the Roman Empire and Antipas played a key role in his father's 30 year old massacre order in Bethlehem.  During Yeshua's day, the two brothers of Herod Antipas ruled other districts. Archelaus ruled Judea, Idumea (Edom) and Samaria, Philip ruled the largest area being today's so-called Golan Heights), southern Syria and a large area in today's Jordan. His sister Salome, named after her grandmother ruled three cities along the Mediterranean coastline. 

It was Herod Antipas that ruled the Galilee, he is the man that beheaded John the Baptist. He's the one that sent Yeshua back to Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea for sentencing. 

Pilate was the first Roman in charge to hear the accusations of blasphemy, but he handed Yeshua over to Antipas who happened to be in Jerusalem at the time. Herod in turn sent Him back to Pilate's court much like his father sent his foot soldiers to murder the innocents in Bethlehem. Pilate then carried out the Roman order of execution by crucifixion and in contempt, he had a sign nailed above Yeshua's head at the crucifixion stake that read King of the Jews. There's a story behind that sign written written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. (John 19:20).

The death sentence did not end at Passover for Herod Antipas. Some 15 years later c. 45 AD, Antipas "killed James the brother of John with the sword" (Acts 12:2) and he put Peter in prison. Shortly after that his life ended "immediately [when] the angel of the Lord smote him... (Acts 12:23) when he gave a speech that those around him blasphemed and shouted: "saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man." Acts 12:22.

Herod the Great influenced his son's crimes and ultimate death. He murdered potential rivals to his power, Herod even killed two of his own sons. Their names were Alexander and Aristobolus. They were the brothers of Herod Antipas. Herod killed them because he believed that they were plotting to take his king's throne. Herod the so-called Great also murdered his wife Miriam, and her mother Salome under the same accusation.

Now you can see why Herod the Great declared the child death sentence and murder of the innocents in Bethlehem as he sought to kill the infant Yeshua, again to protect his throne because he'd heard of Micah 5:2 from the "wise men" that told Herod they were looking for the "King of the Jews." They told Herod about Micah's prophecy which reads:

“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.”

The history you need to know is that Herod the Great had been appointed "King of the Jews" by the Roman Senate. Josephus writes in his book, "The Wars of the Jews" that 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 thought to be between somewhere 4 BC-1 BC, Matthew's background story describes Yeshua's return from Egypt to the promised land of Israel and Nazareth in fulfillment of Hosea 11:1. 

When Yeshua began His ministry around age 30, John's gospel give us something critical as it notes Philip tie to the promised "Prophet" like Moses declared by Almighty God from the plains of Moab. The “prophet” has no message of his own; he speaks only the message of God. 

For the tie to the prophecies Philip knew read Genesis 3:15, Genesis 12:7, 2 Samuel 7:12-17, Jeremiah 26:2, Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 52:13, Zechariah 9:9, Daniel 7:13-14 and Daniel 9:25-26 and you'd see that's exactly why Yeshua told everyone what he spoke in the red letter sermon and why he later said this about Deuteronomy 18:15-19: "If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me." (John 5:46).

"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 saying, we have found the promised Moshiach, the promised anointed one. 

He knew Yeshua never intended to start a new religion, had he done so He would be a false prophet. Like all prophets, Yeshua was rejected, do you reject Him with a new replacement theology? 

Yeshua's first rejection was in Nazareth, don't let His next be in your hometown, He might move on.  When rejected in Nazareth, He moved to the upper Galilee in fulfillment of Isaiah. 

Did you know the Galilee district was known as the “Galilee of the nations”?  Isaiah 9:1 writes:

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

In addition, 1 Chronicles mentions the same area, as does Joshua. 1 Kings describes it as land gifted from Solomon to Tyre's King Hiram and 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 take note, 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 750 years earlier. 

When we remember the lost tribes, we have to consider what Yeshua said in that very area: “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Phillip's son of Joseph description to Nathanael noted in John 1:45 has a mystery connection to Joseph in Egypt. Joseph's sons were Ephraim and Manasseh and their mother was an Egyptian princess. Her father was a pagan priest so they were adopted by Jacob at the end of his life. 

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

The lost sheep story is a big one and it is woven throughout the Bible with a promise that is still unfinished because it requires a second trip to fulfill the lost sheep restoration of brothers promised in the Scriptures. 

The disciples asked Yeshua about the 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, did you know that long before Herod Antipas ever ruled, a big part of the Northeast Galilee district was deeded to Manasseh? 

That's a part of the Joseph connection. 

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

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

They left their boats and nets and followed the Master Rabbi (teacher) from Nazareth. They became known as His talmidim (disciples). There were several key students at the Sermon on the Mount, likely including 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; Simon the Cananite, and perhaps Judas Iscariot. 

The talmidim followed the man they called Rabbi to a mountain in the Galilee where Yeshua ascended up so the large crowd could hear as He laid out His red letter teaching of righteousness we now call the Sermon on the Mount. Take note, Moses chose 12 spies to explore Canaan, only two were faithful and Yeshua chose 12 disciples, in the end all but one repented of their lack of faith.

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 mountain you'll see that was nothing new for Yeshua. 

Matthew's account goes into much detail about this particular day and in great precision, the gospel writer replays that mountain side sermon. Matthew, the tax collector may have been there, but he was called after that, so the other disciples may have filled Him in on what they heard. Perhaps, they wrote the words down because there are no short snippets found in the three chapters (Matthew 5-7). 

It's time for a baptism in the living water of God's eternal, unchanging Word given on the mountain. To borrow Yeshua's words at the Jordan: "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 healing was not new or 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 Galilee, Yeshua explained that the blessings of Heaven above are promised in the Torah. As already noted, we might see the message delivered links to 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 blessings recorded by Matthew and that number is no accident, everything is important. Nine (9) symbolizes divine completeness.  You may have missed it before now, but years later, Paul the Jew from Tarsus wrote noting new when he summarized these nine blessings noting that they represent the fruits of 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 them in the Galatian letter (Galatians 5:22 - 23).

Back to the big sermon.., it opens with words that point us back straight to Isaiah 61:2. Those words were read by Yeshua in a Nazareth synagogue on the Sabbath (see 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 message. 

Far from any theory born out of the weeds of replacement theology, Matthew writes the opposite, and you can see it if you'll open your heart and the Bible Yeshua taught from:

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

The sermon was not new at all. 

It also zeroes 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." It pointed everyone to the ancient words of Psalm 22:25-31 and king David's Psalm 24 too.

The people of Galilee were mostly Jewish at the time, and likely everyone on the mountain side was familiar with Psalm 1. They knew it points in the way of righteous instruction and delight in the Torah of the Lord. 

There on that mountain in Galilee, Yeshua was fulfilling His synagogue reading of Isaiah 61:1 noted by Luke and Yeshua reminded everyone of the menorah's purpose to give light. Without question, it reminded those present of the story of a winter miracle. It's was known as Hanukkah (Hebrew for dedication). 

They knew that in 164 BC, the Macabbees (hammers) defeated Antiochus and the Temple was purified and rededicated. The menorah played a big role in that. That event gave birth to the celebration day when we find Yeshua in Jerusalem and He is asked the BIG question:

“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 by what it does. It burns oil and gives light. The menorah is also seen in imagery of Revelation 1. After all, the light (truth) of God's Word is to come from a people whose heart is to glorify The Father through what they do. That's was Yeshua's good works message when He said:

"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 still struggle with. I know, I'm an expert, I once did, I thought my belief alone gave glory to Almighty God, but what we do out of love for Him gives glory to The Father.

The Master Rabbi of the disciples and the multitudes that heard Him came to fill the mitzvot of the Torah up with meaning, to live it out including the blessings for Joseph and the lost, but many have forgotten a part of His sermon thinking He changed His mind and hung the Torah of Almighty God The Father on a cross. Here's what Jesus has to say about that:

“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 this 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 by a pen. That's why the 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 connection of the Torah 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. 

Many pass over the next statement in the sermon, But we shouldn't speed read Scripture. The desire of our Heavenly Father is Yeshua's, to keep the covenant words. 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 and add or take away from them but to do them the best that we can in righteousness so that our lives will bring glory to The Father. 

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 will obey His voice if you have a problem to resolve with others as a holy people set apart 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 simplicity of truth summarizing an old 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 that 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 out Israel although they broke their covenant with Him in sin by the adultery of idolatry. Instead, God saved them, kept His promise and provided the Ten Commandments for Moses to carry down the mountain a second time. The Tanach (Old Testament) never teaches to hate our enemies, Yeshua starts by summarizing a saying that must have been prevalent in His day, He upholds and does abolishes 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?"

Yeshua then does away with the theory for those today that say I am a saved Gentile sinner, but continue to sin thinking all sins are all washed away in grace. Yeshua give the sermon no one hears today as He admonishes us all to walk in righteousness:

"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 th needy is part of a private 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 His name. He 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 prayer emphasizes forgiveness of others precisely as described 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 in a personal relationship with The Father:

“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 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? 31 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. 2 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."

To be continued...

Shalom ya'll.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

What's all the Fuss ?


If you want to stop skimming and dig deep into Acts 15, your at the right place. Here we'll explore some of the basics, including the pagan problem and its conflict with the Bible in the days of Paul of Tarsus. If you hang around, you might find something, a hidden treasure if you will, in the book of Acts that can help us all do something about it.

I don't want to be irreverent in any way, but to show a parable-like perspective to Acts 15. 

Many people enjoy golf, I do but it would be unfair to ask any rank beginner with no instruction other than a few of the rules, to start playing the game day one from the back tees.

It would be inconceivable to require that same beginner to step in front of tens of thousands in the gallery with millions watching on TV at the first tee of Augusta National during The Masters.

The raw, untrained beginner would become discouraged immediately in the first round and likely quit golf before ever finishing the 18th hole. Perhaps deprived of hope and spirit before hitting the first tee shot at The Masters!

Everyone knows that in golf, good advice always starts with a few basics first.

The important thing is to fall in love with the game first, learn the four basics of the grip, stance, posture and alignment then and only then move on to more advanced training over an extended period of time to learn how the game should be played. The process takes years for most.

Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Jack Bobby Jones all did this.

Not only that, throughout their competitive careers, they all had teachers and mentors they could trust to go beyond the basics, so they excelled quickly. 

Ben Hogan did not. He was basically self-taught and it took him many years before he became a major champion. Despite turning pro in 1929, some 20 years passed before he started winning on tour. It took even longer for the big four "Majors." He finally won the PGA in 1946, the US Open in 1948, The Masters in 1951 and finally the British Open in 1953 to top off golf's grand slam of professional major championships.

Like I said, this story is not supposed to be irreverent in any way, but to show some perspective on reality and what we are to do.

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, it takes time, a lot of devotion, a good mentor and daily practice.

We have to do something. That's called righteousness.

When we open the book of Acts to chapter 15 we see a conflict about teaching and instruction in the very first verse...
"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.” 

In the fifth verse we find a slight variation and get some clarity... 

"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.”
The Pharisees had developed a doctrine in their tradition that was not what Moses actually wrote about. This Acts 15 "fuss" points to the same Galatian question Paul raised about a doctrine he was very familiar with. What's all the fuss? Does it matter? 

Is tradition a Biblical mandate required for redemption?

To understand Acts 15, we can't start with a few verse snippits and we can can't begin reading with this chapter. Five years ago, a very good friend pointed out the storyline begins in Antioch. You can find  that city in the prologue of the account in Acts 14.

Come to think of it, there were no chapters or verse when Acts was written, so we need to pay attention to the bigger picture. My good friend wisely noted the context:

"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: we can't speed read past the culture or its history if we are to know what to do. 

We cannot ignore the immoral, idol-culture of the day to understand the "Antioch issue" in Acts 15. Otherwise, we will get side-tracked and not make good sense out of the common sense of the situation. 

Let's take a look at the four fundamentals of the council's decision. 

On one hand, we have to know the sect of the Pharisees preached their own oral law traditions. Some of them included doctrines not based on the foundation of the written Word of God but on opinion. 

On the other hand, we have to know the people in Antioch were coming out of Greco-Roman worship that included both idol sacrifice and lust-laden sexual immorality in the name of Zeus.

The Pharisees that showed up in Antioch were preaching a tradition that unless you were circumcised, you cannot become "a people for God's name." They thought they were doing the right thing. Read Acts 15:13-18 for more on that and think carefully about Abraham and when he became God's friend, it was long before he took the knife. 

Now open your Bible and go back to the end of the Exodus journey from Egypt. They followed Almighty God for 40 years before they took the knife. 

Now consider James, the leader in Jerusalem that points everyone back to the prophetic words found in Amos 9:11-12. There we find that Amos shares a few words from another prophet... Nathan. You need to know about Nathan, he's the man king David sought counsel from some 250 years before Amos ever picked up his pen. 

By the way, you'll not find a book in the Bible named after Nathan, but you'll find his name 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. Nathan is a big deal. He's the prophet that revealed Almighty God's critical promise to David. That promise that the Messiah and God's Kingdom to come is real. 

Nathan told David oabout God's plan. Nathan's did not come up with it, prophets never share their own ideas. 

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

That gospel of that Kingdom promise is found in 1Chronicles 17:9-15 and its the same sermon Jesus proclaimed:
"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, he heard Yeshua's sermons, he saw what He did to so he believed God's commitment to do it. 

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

With that restoration promise, Amos ties directly to Nathan's prophetic words in 2 Samuel 7:8-17. 

Nathan's prophecies are also supported by the promises found in Jeremiah 3:17-23, Isaiah 25:3 and Psalm 106:47. Those reveal strong, ruthless, heathen Gentiles that once rejected God will one day revere Almighty God and by doing so 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 light 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 the issue of idol practices 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 the gospel good news of a song of king David for those that would turn from idol worship much like the Egyptian sojourners that left town in 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 of salvation to "all nations" and all peoples 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 new to all nations is firmly rooted the so-called Old Testament, and as you can see for yourself, it's really not old at all.

Are you ready to go back to the Jerusalem debate in Acts 15?

The doctrine of a religious conversion requirement was raised by one tradition of the Pharisees, not the disciples nor Paul. It was a new tradition that stated... "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved."

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

Nope it's not there. The Pharisees forgot something else that's BIG in the Torah too. Doctrine and tradition never saved anyone. Works or deeds never provided redemption or salvation if you prefer to call it that. God's redemption is forgiveness. It is the action of God's mercy and grace. 

With some help from the historic context of the cultural and religious issues in Antioch almost 2,000 years ago, we can better understand the reason that Paul, a Pharisee argued against the Pharisee's ordinance (takkanah) that was not drawn on Biblical authority and the written word of God. 

Earning salvation in not found in God's voice!

That new issue was about circumcision and the Pharisees forgot something big in the Bible.

The background to the story is that Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem with Barnabas because he came to know the Kingdom gospel and they were both witnesses to the promises in Jeremiah 3:17-23, Isaiah 25:3 and Psalm 106:47 that proved God's great lovingkindness for everyone

So, the two witnesses went to meet with the disciples regarding the issue of whether circumcision was required for a non-Jew, a heathen of the nations to make the faith choice to become a member of God's household.

Together, they all discussed the Pharisee's tradition with an eye on the written Scriptures, so take some notes...



They did not mention...
do not blaspheme God's name, 
do not murder or 
make idols or worship them, or 
honor the Sabbath, do not to steal or lie, 
honor parents, or wrongfully 
covet another's wife or property.


Why not? The reason is a common sense Bible basic, but something has been lost in translation in a million sermons because 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 agree to that is another story.

The key issue at hand that the council dealt with was the big "pagan problem" and how the Torah solves that. Pagan life in Antioch was steeped in idol worship, fornication and blood lust like a modern Halloween horror movie with a script right out of Babylon and Egypt.

The disciples were dealing with the four Bible basics of grip, stance, posture and alignment.

They concluded the former Gentile believers needed to be turned away from their horror movie habits learned from years of practice in Zeus worship. 

That false idol worship was bizarre. It was contaminated by heathen formication, eating strangled animals and so on. The council knew that these pagan problems from Babylon and Egypt tied directly to God's instruction manual given in the wilderness which starts with I am Elohim God turn away (and repent) from "idolatry." 

They knew it because they understood what is written in Leviticus 17-20. 

Yes, you read that right, Acts 15 is a real world, real life teaching on God's voice in Leviticus and Moses wrote out every word. 

For those assuming from a old pulpit sermon that Acts 15 does away with Leviticus, think again

Peter proves it!!

Read 1 Peter 2, a big part of that small letter provides deep insight on the Acts 15 decision and points to the door of Yeshua’s heavenly Kingdom on earth which is to choose life, to 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 you are to do about it is worth the journey! As a 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 message:
"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 written in Acts 16?

Nope, he did not. Skip the sermon, re-read Acts 16 for yourself.

As you read, don't forget the background story 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 taught constantly. He knew Yeshua said at the Sermon on the Mount, do not think one jot or tittle is done away with.

Also, 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, they knew the Ten Commandments and the details that follow them in the scroll of Leviticus provide the mountaintop teaching at Mount Sinai is first and foremost about 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 as well as 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 any of this about 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 apostles that met in Jerusalem knew what they were instructed to do from the Torah and they understood that the balance of God's ways would be learned in the weekly synagogue Torah portion teachings as the Scriptures would be taught beyond Leviticus 17-20.

How can we know? They said so:
"For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues.” Acts 15:21


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



God's heart is mercy and lovingkindness and that would not be fair. Since the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Scriptures were systematically taught in cycles of public reading every Sabbath for training in righteousness to be repeated in lessons over and again each year. The reason, it can take time to learn to walk in step with God.

Paul and the disciples in Jerusalem understood this because they lived it, 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 now call discipleship.

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
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for training one week at a time, one Sabbath at a time. That is precisely how Yeshua taught and how the disciples had all learned the Scriptures and their Biblical training was the way of Yeshua of Nazareth. 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 Satan legal right 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.

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. 

More on that will come in the next post.

None of them 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 all knew Abraham was God's friend long before he ever heard of circumcision and that Israel followed God and walked under His protection for 40 years in the same way.

Shalom ya'll.