Friday, December 9, 2011

Hearing Him Speak in the Night Watch

If I asked you the ways in which Adonai speaks to you, how would you answer? Would you mention the time you are asleep or in your dreams?

I know years ago, I would not have answered that question quite the same. I'm sure my answer would have included hearing His voice through reading His Word, prayer, object lessons in nature, etc., but I doubt I would have included my dreams in that list.

In the last 3 years there has been a noticeable change and increase in hearing His voice, mostly during the night. I have to kind of chuckle at that a little. He knows it's pretty "lively" around here during the day with 6 children home and I can't help but think that the middle of the night seems to be one of the few blocks of time that I am able to hear His voice. I'm thankful for that time for many reasons, but foremost is the opportunity to listen and hear from my Abba (Daddy).

The dramatic increase in hearing Him speak came (I think) because I was seeking Him more than ever during a time of my life that brought me to my knees and kept me there for some time. He didn't disappoint me in the least. He lovingly and faithfully spoke to me, just what I needed to hear, time and time again. Perhaps it is also because we live in what I believe to be the last days and He is pouring out His Ruach.  I believe it could be both!

One of the ways He ministered to me during this time was speaking to me through my dreams. I want to share this because I think overall, we as believers, can forget that Yahweh wants us to listen, even in the night. The number of times He spoke to believers (and unbelievers for that matter) in their dreams is worth noting in the Scriptures. Ya'akov (Jacob), Yosef (Joseph) and Dani'el come to mind. G-d does not change. As I began journaling more and keeping track of what I was hearing from Him on a daily basis, I also kept track of dreams that seemed significant. What I realized was that if I didn't write down the dream immediately upon awakening (often in the middle of the night), then many important details were lost that I wanted to remember and revisit so I could seek Adonai for wisdom and understanding.

Some dreams the L-rd would interpret for me immediately or they were easier to understand. Others took more time, where I would ask others for prayer and counsel if I thought they were significant. In these cases, having a journal was critical. There are several I am still pondering. I have had dreams that were about myself, my family, the body of Messiah and world catastrophic events. Several personal dreams have come to pass which indicate to me that others could be prophetic as well, putting me on watch and on my knees.

Now, I am not saying that all dreams are from the L-rd. Many reveal fears or struggles or weaknesses we have and some are just plain silly. There are many I wouldn't want to waste ink and paper on. But what I am saying, is that the time we are asleep is a very large part of the day, as 8 out of 24 hours is 1/3 of your day!  I don't want to waste it quite frankly, and I don't want to miss something the L-rd is trying to show me because I am not aware of it or am minimizing it's importance.

Being cognizant of this, I began praying specifically for the L-rd to speak to me while I slept and in my dreams. Let me just say, He is faithful! I won't share but a few of my dreams with you, since many are too personal, but I will share a few that have stood out as being significant and healing to me.

Often recurring dreams are significant in our lives. I had one such dream that I had at least 3 times, but which finally resolved beautifully. The dream was this: I was in a play and I was backstage scurrying around with everyone else in the cast, getting ready for the big night. Everyone was getting their costumes and make-up on and seeming to know what they were doing. Except me. There was a huge crowd assembling in the theatre as patrons started filling the seats. The anticipation was mounting and my anxiety level was skyrocketing! Of course, no one could tell me what role I played and I couldn't find a script to even read the story line! The last time I had the dream it ended with me not knowing "who I was" until I came out on the stage where my heavenly Father greeted me with a wonderful embrace and spoke to me as His daughter. I couldn't have wrote that part better if I tried myself!

This dream came at a time when my family and personal life was transitioning. No longer a wife, I was evidently struggling with my identity and "role" in life and this dream basically just simplified it for me. It was Adonai's loving way of reminding me that I am His daughter and that is the most important role in life I will ever "play". No matter how life changes or what events happen, He will always be my Abba. A priceless and unforgettable reminder.

Another dream came that brought healing was this:  I was in a large, empty, rectangular, in ground pool. It walls and bottom where covered in mud. I took a stick and began writing in the mud all the hurt, frustration, questions and pain from the last few years. It took awhile. When I was finally finished, a huge flood of clean water came and washed it all away. I love this dream! Adonai is always so good to tell us what we need to hear! Life is messy. I love that I am writing in mud and I love that the Living Water comes and washes it all away.

A prophetic word was spoken to me that I believe fits with this dream perfectly. I was told that "You are holding on to your pain like a treasure". That kind of shocked and surprised me. Funny how often we don't realize what we are doing! (I know I am only speaking of myself here....).  That day, I spoke to Adonai about it and He confirmed that that was exactly what I was doing. As I reflected, I realized hardly a day would go by that I didn't revisit the past in some way, often times ending in tears with the grand finale- a dramatic questioning of "why, why, oh why?"

I don't know if anyone reading this has ever been in that place before, but if you have, you know how it drains all your energy! I decided that moment that I was going to give all the pain of the past to Adonai and never look back again. I previously didn't want to release my pain to Him because it had cost me dearly and I was gonna keep what I paid so high a price for! Like the over-priced (you fill in the blank) you bought at the store that you refuse to throw away because you paid too much! I now realized this was a treasure not worth keeping. In fact, it wasn't ever meant to be carried. The past had become who I defined myself as (my identity) and I knew if I wanted to move forward with Adonai I would have to let it go. As I prayed aggressively for release, it came and all that was left was Him quieting me with His love. Words can't really express what this experience was like for me as it encompasses so many emotions. I felt like a new woman! In the natural, winter was coming, but in the spiritual, it was spring for me!

I don't know what your story is like and what events have occurred that have brought you pain. I hope you are encouraged to give your pain to Him and let it go so you can experience freedom from your past and move forward with Him today if you are still holding on tight to that treasure. Give it to Him and don't hesitate for one more moment! I remember my Rabbi one Shabbat morning teaching, "Let us put aside every impediment that hinders our forward movement!" I believe he was paraphrasing Hebrews 12:1-6 and it stuck with me. Our past can be one of the greatest hindrances in our forward movement. It can be a huge roadblock, but it doesn't have to be. Yeshua has set us free!!! If we would only believe and walk in that wonderfully healing truth!

I am convinced that the enemy wants us so broken and wounded from our past that we as the body of Messiah can do no earthly good. I've had dreams where I saw the body of Messiah pictured as a little helpless baby, lethargic and limp in a stroller, with its head almost dragging on the ground, waiting to be pushed around by those who were doing the programming in the "Church". It was a dream so disturbing that I will never forget it. Dreams can cause us to pray and give us insight or confirmation of something Adonai is showing us for the sake of the body of Messiah. I'll try not to get to far on my soap box with this dream, but I believe it is an accurate picture of the immaturity of believers, who are not growing up in Messiah, are passively dependent on the leaders of the church and are not healthy or strong enough to even hold up their own heads. Maybe they are so used to being pushed around, that they are not even using their heads (searching the Scriptures for themselves and supported by Truth) anymore, so to speak.

Not only can dreams bring healing or show areas of your life that need addressing, but they can be prophetic or be dreams that show you your destiny or calling. I've had one in particular that relates to my destiny and purpose that He lovingly gave me as He called me out of one fellowship and into another. Interestingly, the Torah portion that week was the Exodus story! It's my belief that we need to know how to interpret our dreams because they can be so significant.

Chuck Pierce in the forward to the book mentioned below, says this, "We are entering a season where the L-rd is 'reordering our day'. If you will remember, the day actually begins at sunset. The Holy Spirit is now restoring the power of the night watch in the Church. We will be arising and praying as well as sleeping and receiving!" I believe that when the Word says to "stay alert" and be watchful, that even includes the night watch.

James W. and Michael Ann Goll have written a fascinating book, Dream Language, on dreams and their importance in a believer's life that I very much enjoyed reading. I have two similar books on my shelf waiting to be read, soon I hope! I highly recommend every believer read this book in order to become more skilled in interpreting their own dreams.

One of my favorite passages is Joel 2:28-29:

"And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dreams dreams, Your young men shall see visions, and also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days."
 The time is short. He wants to speak to you through your dreams. Shema (hear) Israel! Are you listening?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sounding the Shofar - Faithfully Waiting for the Return of the King!

Faithfulness. I love that word. I love all it represents. Yahweh's faithfulness is precious to me! I know He keeps His Word and keeps His promises.....always. I never have to wonder or second guess or be afraid that maybe He will forget about me or not do what He says He will do. That's shalom and resting in Him. Priceless.

I too want to be faithful. I am betrothed to Him so I am watching how I can be faithful to Him. A man or woman who is engaged in our culture, hangs on every word the person they are engaged to be married to says, looks for little hints of the slightest kind as to how they can please their future husband or wife. Not out of some kind of obligation mind you. No, it is out of the incredible intensity of love for that person that we seek to do whatever pleases him or her. I feel the same way about my soon coming King, Yeshua.

Are you sensing in your spirit that we are in the last days and the time is approaching soon when Yeshua will come again? I am! The "Arab Spring", earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, droughts, all the nations turning against Israel, signs in the sun, moon and all is pointing to a soon return of Yeshua the Messiah and this is what all the fall feasts of Adonai are all about! If you are pretrib, midtrib, postrib or pre-wrath, either way you are looking forward to His soon return. (If you want my view on it read What Could Be the Greatest Deception of Our Time).

In thinking about what celebrating the Feasts of Adonai mean to me, especially the fall Feasts of Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot, I think of celebrating His faithfulness. That may seem strange to some considering these days represent so many things.  But when it comes down to it, I am, through my actions in keeping these moedim (appointments) being faithful because I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that HE IS FAITHFUL and HE will keep these appointments! In keeping these appointments with Adonai, I am telling Him, "I believe you. I believe your Word is true and you are coming again when you said you would come." What we believe shows in our actions and what we don't believe shows too.

Yom Teruah is of course the next feast to be fulfilled in the future, so it is this feast that excites me the most of all of them! In great anticipation, each year I look forward to celebrating and blowing the shofar, knowing my Bridegroom is coming for me to take me to the Wedding celebration!

These feasts are rehearsals of things to come and remembrances of what he has already done. If you're wondering what I mean by that, see my post "Why Celebrate Passover or Any Biblical Feast", as it explains all the feasts and what they each represent. These feasts are not "Jewish Feasts" as in Leviticus 23 it clearly states these are Adonai's Feasts for all His people (yes, even the grafted in Gentiles as Romans 11 says) and are to be kept forever, throughout your generations no matter where you live (not just those in the land of Israel). I'd encourage anyone new to these Feasts to read Leviticus 23 in it's entirety and notice how many times Adonai also says these are to be kept throughout your generations or forever. It is my firm belief that the restoration of these biblical Feasts of Adonai to ALL of  Yahweh's people, Jew AND Gentile, is a move of the Ruach haKodesh in getting His Bride ready in these last days. We are repenting of our pagan holidays and returning to those that Yahweh has ordained for us and in obedience we are finding incredible blessings!

The Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah this year (the dates change from year to year) is Sept 28-30, depending on the sighting of the new moon. These feasts are all connected together with Yom Kippur coming 10 days after Yom Teruah followed by Sukkot 5 days after Yom Kippur. If you want to celebrate but don't know how and don't have a shofar, come join us at Sar Shalom if you are local, where we will be celebrating at 7pm on Sept 28th followed by a midrash into the wee hours and also a service on the 29th at 11am. Click here for details.

If you don't know much about a betrothal or the ketubah or a Jewish wedding celebration, then when Messiah says in Yochanan (John) 14:2-3, "In my Father's house are many places to live. If there weren't, I would have told you; because I am going there to prepare a place for you.  Since I am going and preparing  a place for you, I will return to take you with me; so that where I am, you may be also", it won't make much sense.  Yeshua spoke these words to comfort His disciples after he celebrated Pesach (Passover) with them because He was preparing them for His death. What does Passover have to do with the Feast of Trumpets? What is not commonly understood is that in a Jewish wedding the prospective bride and groom are betrothed to each other which is much different in many ways to the Western way of engagement. During this betrothal ceremony (which is actually much more serious and more like a wedding ceremony as they are considered husband and wife at this point) a cup is shared and the moment the woman drinks the cup she accepts the man as her husband. The ketubah is the written and signed agreement between the husband and wife listing their commitments and responsibilities to one another. When the Israelites said to Yahweh before Mt Sinai that they would obey whatever He commanded, they were entering into that covenant agreement or ketubah with Adonai. Similarly, in the New or Renewed Covenant with Yeshua, we enter into covenant with Him and come under His headship. When the disciples drank the cup with Yeshua that is exactly what they were doing.

I am not an expert on Jewish weddings (and I am thinking this is in Messiah's day, not the typical Jewish weddings taking place today in the 21st century), but have found what I do know to be absolutely fascinating as it relates to Yom Teruah. Traditionally, after the betrothal, the groom takes off! Yes, you read that right. Not what most brides would like to see happen! Yeshua went away as well when He died, rose and then ascended to heaven, didn't He....hmmmm. Let's keep going as it gets better. During this time, the bride and groom are considered married, but not together and not to be physically intimate with each other. The bride prepares herself during this time, making herself ready, and keeps watch for the bridegroom to come and get her and take her to the wedding chamber.  She keeps her eyes and ears peeled, because, yep, you guessed it....she is waiting for THE SHOFAR to sound alerting her that the bridegroom is coming for her, which is known as "the day and the hour that only the Father knows". Okay, this should be blowing you away by now if you know your Scriptures!!!  This is known as the day and the hour that no man knows, only the Father, because it is the FATHER that tells the Son to go get His Bride!!! All the time they have been separated from each other, the bridegroom is preparing a place for his bride in his father's house. For believers, it's been about 2,000 years, but hey, who's counting? Well, that's 2 prophetic days, so that makes me feel better. I digress....What typically was done is adding on to the father's house (remember when Yeshua said, "in my Father's house are many rooms") and when that was ready, the Father would make sure all the preparations were done and tell the son, "Go get your bride!"Then and only then, the son would go get his bride and bring her to the place prepared for her in his Father's house.

Mattityahu (Matthew) 24:36 says concerning when Yeshua is coming back for His Bride, "But when that day and hour will come, no one knows - not the angels in heaven, not the Son, only the Father." 

A few verses later in Mattityahu 25:1-13 Yeshua says this:  "The Kingdom of Heaven at that time will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Five of them were foolish and five were sensible. The foolish ones took lamps with them but no oil, whereas the others took flasks of oil with their lamps. Now the bridegroom was late, so they all went to sleep. It was the middle of the night when the cry rang out, 'The bridegroom is here! Go out to meet him!' The girls all woke up and prepared their lamps. The foolish ones said to the sensible ones, 'Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are going out.' 'No', they replied, 'there may not be enough for both you and us. Go to the oil dealers and buy some for yourselves.' But as they were going off to buy, the bridegroom came. Those who were ready went with him to the wedding feast, and the door was shut. Later, the other bridesmaids came. 'Sir! Sir!' they cried, 'Let us in!' But he answered, 'Indeed! I tell you, I don't know you!' So stay alert, because you know neither the day or the hour."

Is it some kind of coincidence that Yeshua is using this as an illustration for His second coming to get His Bride? I don't think so at all. Now, before you say we can't know the day or the hour because the Word just said so, I will say, "Yes and No!". We do not know the EXACT day or hour, but we can know the season, and we can know which Feast represents His coming. Interesting that Yeshua uses 10 bridesmaids to illustrate this idea of watching and being ready, knowing the season. Oil can represent the Ruach haKodesh. So the wise virgins/bridesmaids are listening to His voice and know when the time of His coming is near enough to not be asleep when He comes!

Listen and consider seriously what Paul writes to the concerned Thessalonians about the Lord's coming and the rapture/resurrection here in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6:
"But you have no need to have anything written to you, brothers, about the times and dates when this will happen; because you yourselves well know that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When people are saying, 'Everything is so peaceful and secure,' then destruction will suddenly come upon them, the way labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there is no way they will escape. But you brothers, are not in the dark, so that the Day should take you by surprise like a thief; for you are all people who belong to the light, who belong to the day. We don't belong to the night or to darkness, so let's not be asleep, like the rest are; on the contrary, let us stay alert and sober."
To those who are in darkness, He will come like a thief in the night. These are like the foolish virgins without oil in their lamps. To those who belong to the light in Yeshua and have an intimate relationship with Him, He will NOT be coming as a thief in the night...because they will be busy watching, staying alert and making themselves ready!  That is what Shaul (Paul) is saying here, yet most take the verses out of context to say that we cannot know the timing of His return. We cannot say what exact year or exact day He will be coming, but we can know when the season is, and that season is now!

So many passages of scriptures make more sense when we understand the Hebraic culture and context in which they were written! This whole Pesach celebration was like a betrothal ceremony and what Yeshua said totally mirrored the Jewish wedding customs of the day. When He said He would come again, He is speaking of Yom Teruah as the exact day in which He would come. It is the FEAST OF YOM TERUAH that we anticipate Him coming to get His Bride...or what we would call His second coming/rapture/resurrection depending on your eschatology! It is the day and hour that only the Father knows! Yom Teruah is the ONLY feast that can be called "the day or the hour that no one knows" because it is the only one on a "new moon" where the sliver of the moon has to be cited and seen before it is even declared.  So, this feast is known by that same description.

This will be my 4th year celebrating Yom Teruah and I learn more each year. This year we are blowing the shofar in the morning and reading Psalm 27 each day during the month of Elul. Elul is the Hebrew month (30 days) leading up to Yom Teruah, then there are 10 days (the Ten Days of Awe)  between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is also called the Day of Atonement which is a fast day, a very solemn day when historically the High Priest would (once a year) make atonement for the sins of Israel. This is a season of time where "the King is in His field". Elul is a time of reflection, repentance and reconciliation where we examine our hearts and make ourselves ready. Of course, we should be doing this all the time. But isn't it true that there are seasons for certain things? Isn't it true that when we get closer to an appointed time, a "deadline" if you will, that we start to get more serious about preparing and getting ready for it? I know I definitely feel that way with all the the prophetic shaking going on in the world today. Time is short!

One of these Yom Teruah's in the future, when the shofar sounds and we are rehearsing, it will turn into the real deal! Do you hear the sound of the shofar? The shofar says the King is coming! The shofar says repent, and shema (hear and obey) the Word of Yahweh! The ram's horn is a symbol of our faith and the ram Yahweh provided in place of Isaac (who is said to be 37 by the way) when Abraham went in obedience to sacrifice his only son. The shofar says....WAKE UP Bride of Messiah!

Here is an incredibly gifted shofar player.....

Elul is an Hebrew acronym for "I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine" straight out of Song of Solomon! I have this very inscription on a purity ring I wear on my wedding finger. It proclaims that I am betrothed to Him, I belong to Him alone.  I may not have an earthly husband any longer, but I have a Bridegroom who is Faithful and True and He is El Shaddai, the One who is all sufficient. This is a time of intimacy with Adonai, not a sad time, but a time to be sober minded and hear Him speaking to us about where we are in our walk with Him. If there are areas of our lives that need addressing, it is the time to do it. If there are relationships that need to be restored, now is the time to make things right if you can.

I don't know about you, but I am rehearsing this very important day when Messiah comes for His bride, the remnant. Just like a wedding rehearsal here on earth, we need to be prepared for what it will be like and what will be happening. That is one of the purposes for this wonderful feast day!!!  The day of the Wedding is coming soon because we are prophetically at the end of the 6th day and soon the 7th day Shabbat, the Millennium reign of Messiah will commence. Are you ready to meet your King and Bridegroom? It isn't too late to enter into that covenant with Him and be betrothed to Yeshua! Soon the door will be closed and the foolish virgins who didn't keep oil in their lamps will not be invited to the wedding celebration. Those are some of the saddest words in all of Scripture. The time for repentance or teshuvah is NOW before it is too late!

May you be ready for the soon coming King! Blessings to all of you celebrating the Feasts of Adonai!

"Behold He comes, riding on the clouds, shining like the sun, at the trumpet call! Lift your voice, it's the year of Jubilee! Out of Zion's hill salvation comes!"   - Days of Elijah by Robin Mark

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Law and Grace - Are They Antithetical?

Are Law and grace opposites? Are the Jews saved by obedience to the Law and those under the New Covenant saved by grace? Are there two ways of salvation? Was Torah (law) replaced by the "age of grace"?  If these questions stir in your heart the desire to understand the answers to these questions, like they do mine, then you may want to keep reading.

In the past few years I have felt compelled to understand the relationship between Law and grace.  It seems to me the modern day church has fully embraced a sort of easy believism which is devoid of obedience and offers a false gospel of freedom and assurance of salvation that does not line up with Scripture.  One of my passions over the years has been to counter this with biblical acumen whenever possible. A similar false antithesis seems to exist with works and faith. There seem to be believers who are focused on either one or the other to the extreme and to the neglect of the other. The Word of Elohim is hardly silent on this topic.

The Hebrews were redeemed first out of bondage and slavery BEFORE receiving the Law. Okay, we have a pattern here, woven throughout Scripture! Thank you Father! The pattern is never law first, then grace. Surely the Law's role in our age is to be a measuring stick to show us our need for Yeshua. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Elohim. There is a missing element in most of today's evangelism that forgets to use the Ten Commandments, the Law to show others what Elohim's standard is so that only then, can they see their need for a Saviour. Most of the people in the world are in a burning building and no one is telling them that it is on fire much less taking the energy needed to rescue them or show them the Way to the Rescuer! But we wouldn't give people the Law or commands of Yahweh and expect them to be able to live them out without FIRST coming to faith in Yeshua and receiving the Ruach haKodesh! To present it that way, surely leads to legalism and a false sense of salvation.  That would be absurd! 

There is no salvation apart from faith demonstrated by our obedience. We are called, chosen, drawn, redeemed, saved and then given our marching orders. Why are we redeemed? So we can continue to be slaves to sin? No! (Does this sound a little Pauline?) So we can be slaves to righteousness! We are free FROM sin and death and now are free TO obey by the Spirit as we have His Word, literally Messiah Himself, living inside us and teaching us daily. There is not a separate plan of salvation for one people (the Jews) and another for the rest. By faith Avraham (Abraham), by faith Noach (Noah), by faith, by faith, by faith! But was this faith just believing some kind of head knowledge that never impacted them to the extent it showed in their actions? No! Faith apart from works is dead. Read the book of James (Ya'akov). It doesn't exist. It isn't real. Even demons "believe" but they will be in torment for eternity! Read the gospels and how many times demons identified Yeshua correctly as the Son of Elohim!

Ya'akov (James) and Yeshua's half-brother, clears the issue up quite well when he sums up chapter 2 of his missive with this declaration, "Indeed, just as the body without a spirit is dead, so too faith without actions is dead." In Hebrews we read of those of great faith. Avraham, Noach, Yitz'chak (Isaac) ....they all demonstrated their faith through their actions and it was credited to them as righteousness. We could talk about love and obedience in similar terms as 1 Yochanan (John) says that we demonstrate our love for Elohim by obedience to His commands. He says something quite radical, "The way we can be sure we know him is if we are obeying his commands. Anyone who says, 'I know him,' but isn't obeying his commands is a liar - the truth is not in him." Similarly, Yeshua said there would be many declaring they are His followers, but Yeshua will respond, "I never knew you." Yeshua is from the beginning, the Aleph Tav as Revelation says, so it cannot mean knowing in the sense of existing. To "know" means to be a follower of Yeshua and to be under His authority, not your own.

One of my favorite pictures of how law and grace interact can be seen in the ark of the covenant. Inside this wooden box overlaid with gold were the Ten Commandments written on tablets of stone, Aaron's rod that blossomed and the jar of manna. Oh, there is so much here! The ark is also a picture of our hearts and the New or Renewed Covenant can be seen as the law written on our hearts just as Jeremiah 31:31 prophesied. But what is covering this box? It is covered inside and outside with pure gold. We are to be pure on the inside as well. On the cover of the ark where the two golden cherubim with wings outstretched toward each other in the center, what is called the "mercy seat". Two in agreement, two is a witness and they are facing each other but looking down, where? Their attention is on the Word/Law.  So we have the law inside, but mercy covering. If you have the Word living in you then you also are a literal walking, talking ark of the covenant! I guess those archaeologists can stop looking for the Ark now, huh?

It's laughable to think or suggest that the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt had earned their salvation by obedience to Yahweh's commands! I mean, if we read the Book, we see the disobedience continually, the punishment and consequences of their disobedience but also the mercy and grace continually as well. There were consequences for disobedience and it was all ROOTED in their LACK OF FAITH! Why didn't they go into the Promised land and had to wander 40 years, dying in the desert? Because their lack of faith was demonstrated by their lack of action in taking the land Elohim said to take! Herein demonstrates the relationship.

The Law is good, perfect, holy. Sha'ul is clear on that in Romans. The problem isn't with the Law, it is with sinful man! Yeshua came to remedy that problem. The blood of lambs sacrificed on altars only covered sin, it didn't get rid of the problem. If we have trusted in Yeshua as Messiah and Lord and are walking (that's an action) in faith in His death as a payment for our sin, we are set free from the law of sin, the sinful nature of the flesh and now can be governed by the law of the Ruach HaKodesh, where the law is written on our hearts increasingly as He teaches us and empowers us to obey. We can as believers in Yeshua quench the Ruach and act according to the sinful nature/flesh as the sanctification process is a working (there's that action word again!) out of our salvation. This is a journey and we have choices to obey and listen to the Ruach or not.  He will NEVER tell us to do anything contrary to His Word. Please notice I didn't say we are saved by our works, we are saved unto (so we can do) the works He has called and ordained us to do! Big difference.

I'm going to say something radical sounding to some. But if we think we believe Him and His Word and our actions show otherwise, we are lying to ourselves. If we think we can fool the Creator by reciting some creed and go on living however we want to live, apart from His teaching and instruction, going our own way, then we most likely do not have the Ruach. One of the tests of knowing who is a true believer is that they have the desire to read and study the Word of Elohim and obey it (that's action oriented). This is clear from Scripture! I'm not talking about perfect obedience, as that was only demonstrated by Yeshua. What I am talking about is a desire to obey, and a life characterised by that which shows outwardly what one believes inwardly. Two is a witness, and your faith and works must agree!

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word "law"? If you are like most, it would have some negative connotation for you. Perhaps in your mind's eye, you see a judge with a gavel or worse yet, you equate law with legalism and not simple obedience. So much of our understanding of the scriptures is how we define the words in them. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word "grace"? Most likely, you have a favorable reaction and feeling about that word. It is important to recognize these things because they DO have a great impact on how we interpret scripture that contains these words. Words also evolve and change over time. What connotation the words had when they were written may be different than what it has today. More important, is the task of making sure we define law and grace as Elohim does in His Word, not as we want to define it in our own minds.

What is also critical, I think, to remember is the Word of Elohim is consistent from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation. The "law of first mention" applies here. What this means is that how a word is initially used and defined in the Bible is critical to understanding it's use in other passages. I always note in my Bible when a word is used the first time and take notes. For example, if the word "law" was defined as evil or bad in the Tanakh, then it would continue to be so in the B'rit Hadashah (New Testament). If Yahweh's laws are seen to be holy, righteous and good in the Tanakh, then it would not be considered the opposite in the B'rit Hadashah. This law of first mention, by the way, makes it absolutely critical to study the Torah (in this case I am referring to the first 5 books of Moses) as so many words are defined in these foundational books.

Brad Scott, in his book, The Tanakh: The Dictionary of the New Testament, expounds further, "The modern church approaches the Scriptures by beginning in the New Testament, forming an understanding of those teachings, and then going back to the Tanakh to understand its meaning. This denies the plain cultural meaning of the text, and conforms the Scriptures to the ever-changing ideology of the church, rather than forming the ideology of the church based on the solid, consistent rock of Scripture. When you read the book of Acts, you see that, historically, the followers of Yeshua did not simply accept whatever new teaching they heard. They could not have tested established revelation (the Tanakh), which they knew to be true, by a new revelation which they did not know to be true."

Most of us have used the titles "Old and New Testament" for the front and back end of our Bibles. But have you ever stopped to consider what connotations the words "old" and "new" have in your mind and how these affect your interpretation of Scripture? When you hear the word "old", what comes to mind? Perhaps you think of outdated things like 8 track tapes or antique cars. Maybe you think of things that are passed, gone and lost forever. Ha, I am starting to think of myself when I hear that word! Oh my. What about the word "new"? Ah, commercials abound with the phrase "new and improved" and pretty much anything new is seen as better. Old is to be discarded in the trash and replaced with the new! Hmmmm. It seems to me that our ideas of what is old and new have impacted the way we view His Word. That is one reason I prefer not to use the titles Old and New Testament, but rather like Tanakh (which stands for Torah, Nevi'im or prophets, and K'tuvim or Writings) and B'rit Hadashah instead.

Psalm 119 is one of my most favorite chapters in the entire Word of Elohim. Why? It is a devotional on the Word using the Hebrew alphabet and over and over it expresses how I feel about His Word to me.  I LOVE the Word of Elohim!!!!! It's my life, my food, contains everything I need to know all in ONE amazing, living and active book. I admit I can't get enough of it/Him! "The sum of your Word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever." Yahweh's Word is eternal, unchangeable. Yeshua came as the Word or Torah made flesh. He was a walking, talking demonstration the Word of Elohim, because they are one in the same (John 1:1).

There are many misunderstandings among believers in Yeshua when it comes to the Law, what it means to be "under the law" or "under grace".  Sha'ul (Paul) spends a considerable amount of time expounding on this subject in Romans and other passages. The phrase "under the law" is found ten times in the New Testament. But before we even get to understanding that phrase, we have to understand the word "Law" in itself.

The English word law is translated from the Greek word "nomos". Dr. Ron Moseley in his book, Yeshua A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church, explains that the Greeks had only one word for law, nomos, which "tended toward the negative and lacked the ability to convey the depth of the concept of Torah. He also agrees that in the second and third centuries, as the ekklesia (church) began drifting from their Hebrew roots, misconceptions developed concerning aspects of Yahweh's Law, the Torah. Greek philosophy (which if you have ever studied it is in marked contrast to Hebrew philosophy) played a role in this, as well as pagan ideas that infiltrated the church.

What is Torah? Many when hearing this word think of the first 5 books of the Bible and that is one definition or understanding of the word.  But the word "Torah" is much more than that. To the Hebrew mind, "the primary purpose of Torah is to teach humanity how to hit the mark in life, as opposed to committing sin, to miss the mark" (Moseley).  Torah is instruction and teaching, much like what you would think of as a parent instructing a child in the way they should live and behave. The picture here is a bulls eye, a target to aim for. Yahweh's teaching, instructions and commands are for our welfare and good! His ways are always higher (better) than our ways. Obedience brings blessing, long life and the pleasure of knowing we are walking in His ways. These blessings have not ended. Torah is a boundary for His people, all His people, for there is only One Seed from whom all of faith come. Most do not like the word "boundary" as it feels constricting. But it isn't that at all! It is LIFE and life abundantly! Think of it as a fence and you are the sheep and the fence is what keeps you alive and well, dwelling safely in your Abba's pasture.

The concept of law became more and more negative over time in our Western culture. Scott explains,""The scriptural concepts of law and bondage were reversed. Law, rather than sin, was associated with bondage. Certain cliches and phrases were adapted to express this concept of bondage. What began in Yahweh's Word in the Tanakh as light, life, righteousness, the Way, walk, truth, goodness and holiness, soon became something to be disdained, loathed and despised. It's the law!  Law and order! That's against the law! He broke the law! I fought the law and the law won! Law is no longer seen as good and righteous, but rather connotes fear and punishment. This is because the scriptural concept of law has been so twisted and redefined that it is virtually unrecognizable."

What did HaSatan do in the garden? He twisted and redefined Elohim's Word! Tampering with the Word is what destroys us as Hosea declares, "my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge". Israel didn't want to hear the Words of Yah, much less obey them. Actually the word "hear" or sh'ma, means to hear and obey. There is another word that has been redefined and diluted, with many consequences.

In the Tanakh, the law was always seen in a very positive and reverent light. Historically, this changed, seemingly around the 3rd century AD, as a heretical teacher, Marcion, taught that the entire Tanakh should be removed as well as other portions of scripture which put either the law or the Jews in a positive light. Marcion was greatly influenced by the Gnostics and taught that the G-d of the Old Testament was cruel and totally different than the one revealed in the New Testament. Moseley explains, " He was so consumed with the belief that Paul's message of G-d's grace opposed G-d's Law that he kept only an edited portion of Paul's writings that agreed with his theology. Marcion's view was so contrary to G-d's Word that Polycarp, who was a student of John, called him "the firstborn of Satan." There is much more to the story, involving Marcion being excommunicated and founding his own church, but much damage was already done to the way the Tanakh and the law was viewed. Similar to what has happened with Darwin in our age.

Obedience to Elohim's Word is not legalism. Legalism is believing you are saved apart from faith/grace and only by your works. The Law was never meant to redeem man but to sustain and prosper man.  In interpreting Sha'ul's writings we have to be careful we understand what he means when he says "law". He contrasts being under the law (of sin) with being under grace. Romans 6:14-16, "For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness." Believers in Yeshua are dead to sin and alive to Messiah. The body of sin was crucified, not the Law! If you are not under grace, then all you have is being under the law of sin and death and are not saved and are under its (sin's) dominion. The letter of the law is the Torah without the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17 Sha'ul concludes by saying that "where the Spirit of Yahweh is, there is liberty". What are we free from? We are not free from obedience, we are free from our bondage and slavery to sin! Yet, how often is this verse quoted out of context as saying the believer is free to do whatever he or she wants? That is not real freedom.

"For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law (the law of SIN and DEATH), but under grace."(Romans 6:16). What is the context here? Sin, not the holy, perfect Law of Elohim! Let's read the Word with discernment, not preconceived ideas of what Shaul is saying based on our ideas that Elohim's Law is bad! Here is another Scripture that is often twisted to mean you don't have to obey His Word/Laws but can now just walk in freedom doing, eating, celebrating whatever and however you want. Is that really what Paul is teaching? NO! Shaul was not anti-Law. He was anti-legalism and against those Jewish believers who taught that Gentiles could not be saved until they FIRST obeyed certain laws. He wanted to correct that. Law doesn't come first, grace by faith and then works. Shaul was a Torah observant Jew until the end.  His ministry to the Gentiles had to address Judaizers who tried to make certain Jewish customs (some man made and not even commands of Elohim) a prerequisite for salvation. He wasn't against anyone keeping the laws of Elohim (not the traditions of men) as long as it didn't distort the gospel of salvation!

Law is not bad and grace good. To believe that is a lie and does not line up with Scripture! Law and grace work together much like faith and works or love and obedience do. So, when I say that law and grace are in fact NOT antithetical, I am saying law (as in obedience to Yahweh's instructions) and grace go hand in hand. Believers need to stop throwing out the baby (Law) with the bathwater (legalism). It's way past time to separate those two out. I praise Adonai for His wonderful Truth, His Law in my heart! I will never obey perfectly, but I enjoy walking in His ways. His grace is sufficient!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Journey from Sunday to Saturday

The words of Yeshua kept ringing in my ears, "You nullify the Word of G-d for the sake of your tradition." Adonai was pressing in hard and teaching me daily that some of the things I was doing as a believer were traditions of men, not commands of Scripture.  This was one of those "aha moments" (more like days and weeks of moments!) where things come into clear view and you see them as they really are. It was unsettling, but it was good. Adonai has a way of fine tuning your vision.

In the midst of my studying Hebrew versus Greek thinking, the Jewishness of Yeshua and delving deep into the scriptures, I came to the place where He was showing me His heart concerning the Sabbath. To be honest, it took months of reading, praying and searching this out to come to the place of peace that I am at now, which is fully embracing a 7th day (Saturday) Sabbath with complete conviction. Here is a description of this process of moving my Sabbath from Sunday to Saturday, the questions I asked, observations I made and their resulting conclusions in this area.

I was taught in the Roman Catholic Church that I grew up in as a child, as well as in Protestant churches as an adult, that the Sabbath was "changed" to Sunday because that is when the Messiah rose from the dead and that the early church met on Sunday. I just accepted this without really thinking them through or giving it much serious thought. So much for being a Berean! The Bereans searched the Tanakh to see if what Shaul (Paul) was saying was true. Hmmm. Right there, I should have wondered how G-d's Word from the beginning can be altered and why it isn't consistent from beginning to end. (It is in fact VERY consistent and it is this very fact that helped me to understand and identify commonly held misinterpretations of scripture).

 Did Elohim change His mind and declare that all the commands to keep the 7th day holy (set apart) in the Tanakh are now null and void?  Why do we seem as believers to keep the rest of the Ten Commandments but have altered the 4th? Are His laws eternal and unchangeable? These were a few of the important questions I was asking and I wasn't content unless I found out the answers from both history and scripture. I wanted to understand why and how after thousands of years and scriptural commands to keep a 7th day Sabbath, this changed.

It's kinda funny that you never hear preachers in the Christian pulpit say that tithing is a command nailed to the cross or it has been "done away with" because it is in the Mosaic (read archaic) Law and we as "New Testament" believers don't have to follow that. Interesting how that works! Reality is, many believers pick and choose the laws they want to obey no matter what part of the Bible they are written in.  Whether we want to own up to that personally or not, is another thing.

Did you ever have the experience of reading the scriptures with your children where you are reading aloud yet thinking quietly to yourself, "Wow, how do I explain what we do in practice when it doesn't coincide with scripture??!" Yeah. That is a really fun (sarcasm here) thought to have. Actually, it is quite disturbing. As a mother who is trying to teach her children the Word of G-d and practice it, it is more than disturbing. As we were reading through the whole Bible this year, we had ample time to discuss scriptures regarding the Sabbath as they are plentiful! It was in these moments of not wanting to explain away these Sabbath scriptures that the Ruach started to whisper to me, and all I could do was to follow Him.

Right in the beginning at creation Elohim set up a 6 day work week and the 7th day was set apart and made holy. It was from the very beginning to be a Sabbath unto Adonai. Later as Moshe (Moses) journeyed in the desert with the mixed multitude that went out of Egypt, they received miraculous provision of Manna which they were not to gather on the 7th day or it would rot. They were to gather a double portion on the 6th day. Yahweh, in giving Moshe His commands for all Israel (the native and the stranger) gave specific instructions that even the land was to have a Shabbat (Sabbath) rest once they entered the promised land. Every 7th year was a sabbatical year of rest for the land. Of course the Ten Commandments were given in which the 4th clearly commands us to rest from our labors on the 7th day. Yeshua kept a 7th day Sabbath as did His followers, as He never transgressed the Torah. The Sabbath is a command and spiritual truth present throughout all of Scripture. If Yeshua didn't want His followers or disciples to keep this command, wouldn't He have made that very clear that it was to be changed? There are NO DIRECT STATEMENTS in the entire Word of G-d that dismiss or change the 4th commandment.

 Many spiritualize the 4th commandment and say, well, Messiah is our spiritual rest as He paid the price for our sins on the tree. Now, we have spiritual rest in Him. Yes and Amen, we do! But we cannot spiritualize commands which He gives explicit practical ways we are to obey them! Yeshua's sacrifice as the perfect Lamb of G-d doesn't mean we now can go our own way, quite the opposite. The Sabbath is such a major theme throughout the Scriptures with so many scriptures related to the blessings of keeping it and illustrations of what happens when we don't, that we cannot take it lightly and flippantly (as I did for many years!).

Why would Yeshua, when He spoke of the last days, tell us, "pray that your flight not be on the Sabbath" (Matthew 24:20). Why would he say that if He knew that this command would be done away with?  In Matthew 5:17-20, Yeshua also said that He did not come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets, but to fulfill them (make them real...the Word made flesh!) and that as long as heaven and earth are here, nothing in the Torah will be done away with. Not only that, but in Isaiah 56:3 and 58:13, passages which are clearly referencing the time of the Millennium in the future (soon approaching), the Sabbath is clearly in force for not only Israel but also for all the foreigners who attach themselves to Israel. All these observations I was making were linking together to form a clearer picture of the fact that Yahweh's command to keep a 7th day Sabbath is still indeed very much a command, just as all the other 9 words of the 10 are commands. We cannot slice and dice up the Word of Elohim and pick and choose, yet, that is exactly what I was doing in this regard.

There are only 2 references in the entire New Testament (Acts 20:7-12 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-3) in which the first day of the week (Sunday) is mentioned in regard to Yeshua's followers. In the second of these, there is no clear evidence that they even met together. In the Acts passage they had a picnic (broke bread) but I hardly can think that just because they ate together, justifies a changing of the Sabbath on that day. Another very important point to consider is the Hebrew reckoning of a "day" which is very different from our reckoning of a day. In our western world a day begins at midnight and ends at the following midnight, but more so is thought of in terms of the daylight hours or from morning to evening. The Hebrew reckoning and indeed Elohim's reckoning of a day based on "and then there was evening and morning, the first day" in the creation account in Genesis is sunset to sunset, or evening to the next evening. SO, when we read a passage with this understanding and it says "on the first day", what is that referring to? We have to remember the cultural context here and not Westernize the Scriptures or make hasty assumptions! The Sabbath begins at sunset on Friday night and ends on Saturday at sunset, SO the beginning of the "first day" or Sunday actually begins on Saturday evening! Tim Hegg in his book, It Is Often Said, explains that it was the custom of the early followers of Yeshua to gather together with the Gentiles after the Sabbath to celebrate their life in Messiah. The Gentiles would be finished with work. Remember (not unlike in our day), their masters were not worshipers of God and thus would not have honored the Sabbath by giving their slaves the day off. It was at this kind of a meeting that Eutychus, sitting in the window, fell to his death. In 1 Cor 16:1-3, Paul is giving an admonition to the congregations to gather money for the relief of the believers in Jerusalem. Gathering money would not have been appropriate on the Sabbath, so a different day was chosen." So it seems to me that Shaul was preaching on a Saturday late into the night when this poor fellow fell to his death. IF we read the Word with a Hebraic understanding we can understand it's true meaning better. Sadly, I didn't have that understanding for much of my believing life. Now that I have recognized and corrected that and taken off the antisemitic glasses I had on, I can see much clearer. I'm so thankful!

At this point, and after doing a lot more investigation into many scriptures related to the Shabbat (I won't get into here as it would make this post a BOOK), I was convinced that from beginning to end, G-d's Word was consistent and that the Sabbath command was to be on the 7th day, or our Friday eve to Saturday eve. Now, I wanted to know how in the world things got so messed up and it changed to Sunday. Honestly, it bothered me and I just wanted to know how it happened! If you want a very in depth look at this subject, see my page "My Favorite Books for the Journey", and read Samuele Bacchiocchi's books as well as Dr. Ron Moseley for starters.

Enter Constantine, the supposed "Christian" Roman Emperor who in 321AD formally changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, "in veneration of the Sun" as it was a very common pagan practice to worship Zeus, the sun. Actually this sun god worship goes all the way back to Nimrod and it is seen throughout history and in every culture. Is this the changing of the times and seasons that Daniel prophesied about when the Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday and biblical Feasts were banned/changed to match the pagan festivals? I do believe it could be. Have you read the Council of Nicea and the anti biblical, antisemitic tone it takes? Read Ezekiel 8:16-17 for a reference to worshipping the sun and what Elohim thinks of this if you like.

 Of course, over time, worshipping the sun wasn't enough, the rest of the planets were feeling neglected I guess, so the Romans named the 7 days of the week accordingly, and in honor of their pagan deities. Does this nauseate you as it does me? Therefore, the day of the sun became Sunday; the day of the moon became Monday; the day of Mars (the Roman god of war) became Tuesday (after Tiw, pronounced too, the German god of war); the day of Mercury became Wednesday (Woden's Day, the Germanic version of Mercury); the day of Jupiter became Thursday (Thor's Day, the Germanic version of Jupiter); the day of Venus became Friday (after the Germanic female god Frigg or Freyja - pronounced note...which is exactly what is gonna happen to her!); and last but not least, as we wouldn't want to offend Saturn, it became our Saturday. The day of the Sun, dies Solis, or Sunday was preeminent over all the other days of the week, long before it became a Christian institution and it was proclaimed "holy" or set apart from all other days. No where in Scripture does Yahweh indicate that Sunday or the 1st day of the week is to be set apart!

I am not going to comment here too much on when Yeshua resurrected. I will say I am not convinced it was on Sunday and very well could have been on Saturday evening. I have done some reading and thinking on this and several scriptures seem to conflict. However, if you take into account the Hebraic accounting of days and when the Sabbath begins and ends, it can truly make a difference. Study this out for yourself and show yourself approved!

After Constantine issued the decree, the Catholic Church reinforced the act in one church council after another. That's a whole history lesson in itself which I won't delve into. But being an ex-Catholic I was very interested in this part of the puzzle. What I found was disturbing in that not only are the Ten Commandments of the Catholic church massively messed with, with commands changed, deleted or majorly truncated, but that there are numerous bold statements claiming that they were the ones responsible for the change from Saturday to Sunday based on their own authority, not based on scripture. By the way, no one has the authority to change the Word or Laws of G-d!  The Catholic version of the 4th commandment conveniently reads as this, "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day." doesn't read that way in my bible. This is what mine (KJV) says, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD your God:  in it you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your  cattle, nor your stranger that is within your gates:  For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." It is actually one of the longest commands of the ten commands.

Here are some interesting quotes from the RCC in regards to their observance of a 1st day Sabbath: 

"For example, nowhere in the bible do we find that Christ or the Apostles ordered that the Sabbath be changed from Saturday to Sunday. We have the commandment of God given to Moses to keep holy the Sabbath day, that is the 7th day of the week, Saturday. Today most Christians keep Sunday because it has been revealed to us by the (Roman Catholic) church outside the Bible." -Catholic Virginian, October 3, 1947, p. 9, article, "To Tell You the Truth".

"Question: Which is the Sabbath day? Answer- Saturday is the Sabbath day. Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Answer- We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea (AD 364) transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday."  -Peter Geiermann, C.S.S.R., The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p. 50, 3rd edition, 1957. 

"But since Saturday, not Sunday, is specifies in the Bible, isn't it curious that non-Catholics who profess to take their religion directly from the Bible and not from the Church, observe Sunday instead of Saturday? Yes, of course, it is inconsistency but this change was made about fifteen centuries before Protestantism was born, and by that time the custom was universally observed. They have continued the custom even though it rests upon the authority of the Catholic Church and not upon an explicit text from the Bible. That observance remains as a reminder of the Mother Church from which the non-Catholic sects broke away like a boy running away from home but still carrying in his pocket a picture of his mother or a lock or her hair."  - The Faith of Millions, p 473.

I left the RCC because of the unbiblical practices they promoted when my eyes were opened by the Ruach HaKodesh as a born again believer. I ran to the Protestant church thinking it was different. In my opinion, while yes, there are very important differences, the reformation didn't go far enough. It wasn't able to break with all the man-made traditions and mixing of paganism by exchanging not only the true Sabbath for a man made one, but also in replacing Elohim's holy days with pagan counterfeits! So much deception and the church follows blindly along, most not even wanting to consider they could be wrong. Do you hear Rome's challenge to the Protestants? They basically are saying, if you really believe the Bible, Sola Scriptura, you would keep a 7th day Sabbath as G-d commands! Okay, here is a point that the RCC is making that I believe is true! The Sunday observance of the Sabbath is a man made tradition and not a command of Yahweh.

I realize there are other factors in why the Sabbath was changed, perhaps even by some before Constantine. Although as Dr. Ron Moseley states in his book on the first century believers that there is scanty evidence for that time period, making it difficult to research. However, we do know there was persecution from the Jews toward those recognizing Yeshua as Messiah, forcing them out of the synagogue. There was also persecution of Jews making followers of "the Way" distance themselves from all things Jewish in order to survive.  So much to consider here, but for the most part, it appears from Scripture and other sources that believers in Yeshua kept a 7th day Sabbath until the 3rd or 4th century.

Getting back to more questions I asked myself....

Are all the laws in the Old Testament only for the Jew? Who was at Mount Sinai?  A "mixed multitude" left Egypt (Exodus 12:38). Several scriptures declare one and the same law for the "native born and for the foreigner (stranger)" such as Exodus 12:49, Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 9:14; 15:29.  Yes, the covenant was made with Israel and is nationalistic, yet also extends to all who attach themselves to Israel through faith in her G-d (of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). Isn't that what Ephesians 2:12-13 is about? Abraham is the father for all who believe as Romans 4:16 states.  We are grafted into Israel (Romans 11) and that root is grounded in the Torah!

In Zechariah 14:17-19 we have an interesting passage where Elohim says He will punish the nations (not Israel) in the Millennium if they do not keep the Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot. Tim Hegg in It Is Often Said, "Yet, they did not enter into the two-sided covenant between Israel and Yahweh. Yet they are held to the standard of Torah. This being the case, one cannot argue that present day Gentiles are exempt from the Torah on the basis of covenant ratification, for if such were the case, the same would apply to Gentiles in any era. That it clearly does not is evident from the prophetic texts, which consistently portray righteous Gentiles as observing the Sabbaths given to Israel (Isaiah 56:1ff; 58:13, 14; 66:23)." To me, this is a very compelling argument.

The more I study the scriptures the more I see the consistency from beginning to end. The 7th day is the Sabbath. From beginning to end and forever, because that is what our Creator decided it to be and His laws and Word are eternal and unchanging! When we alter the commands of Yahweh, there will be negative consequences. He isn't pleased when we make up our own rules. And every time I see inconsistencies in my life from what the Word says, I pray He will help me to align myself with Him and His Word. No matter how much it goes against man's traditions, church traditions, my warm and fuzzy feelings, or the culture around me. Not easy, believe me, I know. But the wonderful thing about obedience is, there are so many blessings! I can't tell you the sweet words He has spoken to me when I took a stand in this area as it is too personal. But I will say this. He confirmed to me that what I was doing, He was pleased with and He gave me marching orders in a way only He could do. He encouraged me, strengthened me and told me to persevere and to not be afraid. Fear of man or what people think is a snare! And many fall into it.

Really, I don't want to live a life in fear of man or my friends or family or whomever. I want to live knowing that it is only His opinion of me that matters. I want to live life in the light of eternity as KP Yochanan would say. Even if all my believing friends think I have gone off the theological bandwagon, that is okay. I want to live a life of obedience in response to what He is teaching me.

I hope this post has piqued your interest in this topic or at the very least helped you to understand why I and other believers celebrate a 7th day Sabbath. Isaiah 56:6-7 speaks of Gentiles who keep the Sabbath and refers to the coming Messianic Kingdom..."And the foreigners who join themselves to ADONAI, to serve him, to love the name of ADONAI, and to be his workers, all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it, and hold fast to my covenant, I will bring them to my holy mountain and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples."

Shalom and Todah (thanks) for reading!

Note: During this time of transition from Sunday worship to Saturday, Adonai kept speaking to me words related to the Exodus out of Egypt. I didn't understand it at first, as I was studying prophecy as well and thinking He was drawing my attention to a future Exodus. What I understand now, is that it was personal, for me, in that season. The Torah portion during that time frame in January was also centered on the Exodus passages! He indeed very clearly and specifically called me out of a fellowship I had been a part of for 6 years that I had dearly loved. There were many tearful nights of prayer and being ministered to by His Ruach. It was difficult, but there was complete peace because His Word was very clear to me and His will made known that He wanted me in another fellowship of believers (a Messianic fellowship) that kept the Sabbath holy. Sometimes following Adonai's voice can have aspects that are painful, yet there are no regrets when we stand for Truth and obey His voice and follow Him. There isn't any other place in this world I would rather be than in the center of His will for me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Reflections on Pesach (Passover)

Object lessons are the best kind. Not just for children, but for me. Some of my favorites objects from nature that have deep spiritual meaning to me are an iceberg, pearl, roots of a tree and the moon. I confess I have a really simple mind and I am a visual person in general. I learn best from seeing with my own eyes and better yet experiencing it in some tangible way. Don't give me auditory directions on how to get from A to B, draw me a map please! What is true in the natural is often true in the spiritual it seems. Paul even alludes to this truth in 1 Corinthians 15:44 when he compares the natural and spiritual, the natural coming first. I am convinced one of the purposes of creation is to make Yahweh visibly manifest. The heavens and the earth are full of His glory and I can see and understand spiritually from what I see naturally.

Reflecting on Pesach (Passover) and each of His Sabbaths or festivals, I am again grateful for powerful truths driven home in this way. It is the experience of touching, tasting, hearing, seeing and smelling that brings so much of these spiritual truths to life beyond just reading them in a book. Which brings to mind the experience of Pesach and one particular command. Have you ever tried to get the yeast or any leavening agent completely out of your home? Well, this is the second year that I have attempted this and I am amazed at how bad I am at it! Yeast, or leaven, is representative of sin. Yeshua was unleavened and without sin. During the Feast of Unleavened Bread we are to eat unleavened bread and clean our homes of all leaven. As we went through the house this year, I was more careful of checking labels and amazed at the hidden leaven in things....soup base, vitamins, dog food. Yikes. Unreal. It's not just a matter of just tossing the bread into the garage.

Is this legalism? Taking the Word of Elohim and obeying it? No, I say it is entering into the full experience of Pesach with the understanding that Yahweh, because His ways and commands are so much higher than mine are, knows there are deep spiritual truths to be mined when we obey His Word and seek to follow Him in these celebrations. Yahweh says this about this feast in Exodus 12:14, 19 "This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the L-RD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses." Many try to redefine the word "forever". I consider this a command, not just a suggestion. Until you have experienced something, you often cannot fully understand it. Could that be one of the reasons Adonai commanded us to DO certain things in celebration of these feasts?

Here are just a few brief observations from this year's celebration. Getting rid of the leaven reminds me to look seriously at my own life and the hidden sins that may be lurking within unbeknownst to me. It teaches me to take action, to do something and not just be passive. It beckons me to do some soul searching and praying asking the Ruach to reveal hidden sins, as I am powerless and blind sometimes to my own sin. This tradition also reminds me and makes me more grateful for Yeshua's sacrifice on the tree when He saved me from sin and death, particularly the bondage to sin. It reminds me of how pervasive sin is all around me. A friend said you can even find yeast in the dust in your house! So, really, it is impossible to humanly get this leaven completely out of your home! But the practice of trying makes you remember that it is not humanly possible for any human to be sinless and how desperately we need a Saviour. Only Yeshua's blood makes me righteous before a holy G-d. All my righteousness is like filthy rags! Do I really understand the sacrifice, the bride price that was paid, for me? His love is amazing. Yet, I still am to take sin seriously, and even more so because of what He has done, not as a means to salvation but in a working out of my salvation. The working out of my salvation to me means that I will show forth the fruit of that salvation in my heart attitudes, words and actions as I seek to obey Him in all things.

There is a wonderful tradition in getting out the leaven that involves the Father or Mother of the house lighting a candle (your Word is a light to my path) and searching through the home for leaven (previously hidden for this purpose). The children go around with the parents and search for the leaven. When they find it, the Father takes a white feather (Ruach HaKodesh) and gently sweeps the leaven onto a wooden spoon (tree that Yeshua and all our sin was put on) and wraps it in a white linen cloth (burial shroud) and takes it outside to be burned. So many of these traditions are meant for the children, to teach them spiritual truths and the story of our redemption past and present. They are beautiful, meaningful and powerful object lessons! It is one important way we can teach these things to our children, by keeping these Feasts and Sabbaths.

There was a humorous little "incident" that happened at our Seder this year. Leah at some point said to me, way to calmly, "I think there's a fire in your oven." Oh. Really. As I ran to see, not surprised because I was aware that my double recipe of gratin potatoes had drizzled cream on the bottom of the oven, I opened the oven and yep, sure! A few members of my household, who shall remain nameless to protect their privacy, began to freak out at which I was reminded where my baking soda was for putting out these little oven the garage with the rest of the leaven! The realization of which made me exclaim this truth a bit forcefully with great exuberance! I really don't typically like just watching a fire burn in my oven, I want to DO something to put it out. Lots of smoke, open windows and lots of laughter! It was funny  because I happened to have a bit of actual lamb in that oven, and it was traditionally to be roasted over the fire, so we joked about that one. Oh my. I love creating memories in my kitchen and there are plenty to be had! But I digress.....

Each time I celebrate one of His Shabbats (Sabbaths) or Feasts, I am grateful that He teaches me and causes me to remember these spiritual truths that are so essential to my faith, yet ones I can sadly take for granted. Yahweh has promises and blessings for those who keep His commands. Isaiah 56:6-7 is a scripture regarding gentiles grafted in (foreigners), "And the foreigners who join themselves to the L-RD, to minister to him, to love the name of the L-RD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant - these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer."

We had a joyful corporate Pesach celebration which was a wonderful taste of this. Blowing of shofars, dancing, flag waving, praising, singing, praying and enjoying fellowship around the Seder table. Thank you Adonai for your appointed times of celebration!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Why Celebrate Passover or Any Biblical Feast?

I feel like I live in exile in a foreign pagan land most days. I'm thinking Babylon fits the description. My feelings match reality unfortunately. The more I study Yahweh's Word, the more I want to live according to His ways, His holy days, His calendar and celebrate those days that He has specifically ordained. It is amazing how pagan most of our traditions are, yet we often continue to celebrate them because tradition is comfortable and familiar. Everyone loves a well worn shoe and I am no different.

While I was aware of the pagan origins of the names of our months of the year and days of the week, it took a lot more time (uh, 20 years give or take) for me to seriously examine the origins of my most favorite holidays (Christmas and Easter). Mostly because I felt I could not possibly fight against something so ingrained into the very fabric of not only my culture but also my family. But also because I was convinced in my own mind and heart that I celebrated these in a way that truly honored Yahweh and eliminated all the secular stuff like Easter bunnies and Santa Claus. We did our best to avoid all of that and concentrate on Yeshua's resurrection at Easter and Messiah's birth on Christmas. So, what could be wrong with that?

 But often when we find the real deal, the genuine article, we are then more willing to give up that which is artificial. Kind of like the difference between margarine and butter, or skim milk and whipping cream! When I started studying and celebrating Passover, Firstfruits, Unleavened Bread, Shavuot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles, I began to see the beauty, depth and richness of HIS holy days and everything else just paled in comparison. My thought is that Yahweh really knows how to celebrate! Everything He is and does is beautiful and meaningful and His Feasts are no different. Why mess with the Creator of the Universe and try to make our own holidays when He has already given us such meaningful celebrations that ALL point to Messiah?!

What really shocked me as well was when I read about all the pagan traditions of these days I thought were "christian". I will give a few links and things here to read about the pagan origins of Christmas and Easter as that would take up too much room here to explain. These will just get you started and if you want more, just google the topic and you will be shocked and amazed. There are no spiritually neutral traditions! They are all rooted and grounded in either the Bible or paganism, whether we want to recognize that or not.

Pagan origins of Christmas :

Pagan origins of Easter:

Here is an interesting short 6 minute youtube clip on some of the pagan origins of Easter:

A few years ago I decided our family would stop celebrating Easter and celebrate Passover instead. I could no longer ignore the occultic name of this goddess (astarte) and what she stood for as well as all the traditions of egg dying and try to make it something it just wasn't. I cannot think of one incident in the Scriptures where Yahweh commended or praised His people for turning a pagan holiday into a Hebrew  or biblical celebration. Over and over I see Elohim commanding His chosen ones to be set apart and that included being set apart from the pagan holidays of the nations around them. I heard Him asking me to do the same. He hasn't changed and will never change, He still wants His people following HIM alone and not even saying the name of other gods. Sh'Mot (Exodus) 23:13 says, "And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth." Being the very name Easter is a name for another god, I am not to use it or let it come out of my mouth.

It really wasn't until I started studying Leviticus 23, the Feasts of Yahweh and how they related to biblical prophecy that it even occurred to me that Elohim did indeed have His own calendar.  Lev 23:2 says, "Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, concerning the feasts of the L-RD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts." One thing that now really catches my attention is when I see books or comments regarding the "Jewish Feasts". Over and over in Leviticus 23 and elsewhere we see Elohim declaring that these are HIS feasts! Why is this an important distinction? Well, to me it seems that these are appointments on His calendar that are important to Him and for Him and for His people. To say that these are "Jewish Feasts" also implies that gentile, grafted in wildbranches (see Romans 11) are excluded from these celebrations and appointments. But if the truth of the matter is that these are called Adonai's Feasts, then ALL His people (Jew and Gentile alike) are to celebrate them! More importantly, as I embrace these feasts, there is more unity between Jewish and Gentile believers in Yeshua as Messiah and I am then living out the spiritual reality of our "oneness" and unity in the faith. I can only think of Yeshua's heartfelt prayer in Yochanan (John) 17 to Yahweh when He asked that we would be one as He and the Father are one. How can we be that example in the world when there seems a world of difference in our celebrations? Is this really what Yahweh wants?

Several times in Leviticus (Vayikra) 23, Yahweh states that these feasts of His are to be kept FOREVER and that they are permanent regulations "throughout your generations, no matter where you live" (vs 14, 21, 31, 41). Now, I am a simple person. I like to read the Word of Elohim pretty straightforward. I am not sure how we can define ourselves out of "forever" in all your generations. At this point in my journey with Adonai, I am going to take His Word at face value and keep the Feasts because it clearly states this is a command for all His people, in all generations, no matter where they are scattered throughout the nations. I do not see Yeshua rescinding that command in any way, shape or form. Yeshua kept the Feasts of the Lord and we are to be like Him! What I have found in doing so, is an intimacy with the Messiah I never knew I could experience before. It's like becoming apart of His Hebrew family and traditions on a deeper level. It is in these celebrations and the study of them that has drawn me to discover spiritual truths previously unearthed. I am so grateful and each year, it just gets better!

The word for feasts in verse 2 is mow'ed and is one of my favorite Hebrew words. It means an appointment; a fixed time; to meet at a stated time. The word convocations in Hebrew is miqra and means something called out; a REHEARSAL.  So, inserting these definitions of these Hebrew words back into Lev 23:2 it would read something like this:  Speak unto the children of Israel and say unto them, concerning the mow'ed (fixed appointment) of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy miqra's (rehearsals), even these are my mow'ed's (fixed appointments). WOW! Two things stand out to me and that is that these are appointments between Elohim and His people Israel. Now I include myself in that because I am grafted into Israel. I feel so very, very blessed to have the Creator of the universe and the Holy One of Israel even make an appointment with me. The last thing I want to do is to miss it, ignore it or forget it exists! Above all things in life, I want to meet with Him and spend time with Him but I don't want it to be just when I feel like it or when I say I am going to do it, but also when Elohim wants me to, when He calls me and desires to have this time with me. He is the boss. He sets the appointments. While I know I can pray, worship and meet with Him at any time, these are fixed appointments on His calendar and He is faithful to keep them. I want to be faithful too.

Secondly, these are rehearsals. Rehearsals for what? Yeshua fulfilled the spring feasts perfectly and on the very day of these fixed appointments. He was inspected and questioned by the leaders as the Lamb going to the slaughter on the 10th of Nisan as the passover lambs were being inspected to see if they met the requirements for being unblemished. Of course Yeshua passed that test. He was crucified on Nisan 14th or Passover as the lambs were being sacrificed in the temple. On Firstfruits He rose from the dead as Israel was offering the firstfruits (barley) of the land. Then on Shavuot (also known as Pentecost), as the firstfruits of the wheat harvest were being offered and also the time in history when Moses received the Torah as Yahweh came with fire on Mt Sinai, the fire of the Ruach HaKodesh came on the disciples with a rushing mighty wind. The Word of Yahweh is so beautifully consistent from beginning to end and when you see how these feasts are fulfilled in multiple ways and significant events happen on these days over and over again, you can only say, "Truly He is awesome and He indeed keeps a calendar!". Great is His faithfulness!

Well, if the spring feasts have been fulfilled by Yeshua and were rehearsals of things to come, then what about the fall feasts? Are they not rehearsals as well for things to come? YES AND AMEN! The Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah is the time of the New Moon when it is completely dark. It is a time of repentance and will be when the time of Jacob's Trouble begins, the Great Tribulation. On this day the shofar or ram's horn is blown 100 times and the final blast is known as "the last trump"! It consists of 2 days based on the sighting of the new moon and so it is known as the feast wherein they didn't know the day or the hour. Any scriptures ringing a bell here?!

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement and is a very solemn day, a day of fasting and introspection. It was this day that the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies to make atonement for Israel, once a year only. This could be the day that Yeshua returns and all Israel recognizes and mourns as they realize He is was the long awaited Messiah after all. It is also on this day that the Jubilee shofar is blown! The last Jubliee year was celebrated in 1967, the next one will then be (counting 49 years after) Yom Kippur and fall of 2016. If Elohim keeps His appointments and these days are always fulfilled, what event do you think the next Jubilee will fulfill? Could it be the time when Yeshua establishes His Kingdom on earth in the 1,000 year reign specifically mentioned in scripture? If you have read about what the Jubliee year is in scripture, you already know this is a time of great restoration, cancelling of debt, and much rejoicing! Isn't that representative of what Yeshua will do when he comes to rule and reign on the earth? That day is coming. Could it be in the next Jubilee year? I believe it absolutely could be. Why? Because Israel is the "supersign" of the end times. The prophecy concerning Israel being born in a single day (Isaiah 66:7-8) is in 1948 and Yeshua in the fig tree prophecy ( tells us that in THAT GENERATION is when Messiah will come again! Well, okay....what is a "generation". What is the average life span? Several scriptures give this to be around 70 years. What is 1948 +70? Hmmm....interestingly it is 2018.( If you want to read more about the significance of Israel becoming a nation and the prophecies that were fulfilled, go to ) Okay, before anyone gets the wrong idea, I am not setting dates here, just looking at the calendar, Yahweh's in particular, and noticing that there are some key Feasts and dates to watch. We certainly are in the season to be watching as the fig tree has budded.  No one knows the day or the hour (reference to Yom Teruah or the Feast of Trumpets again) except the Father. So, I don't know, but I am watching and wondering in great anticipation!

The Feast of Tabernacles which comes 10 days after Yom Kippur and 15 days after Yom Teruah is a 8 day celebration of His birth when He came to tabernacle among us and represents the wedding feast to come! A time to remember that Israel tabernacled in the wilderness in tents for 40 years and Elohim provided for ALL their needs. A time to remember that Yeshua came and tabernacled among us and commemorate the time of His actual birth. Yes, Messiah was born in the fall (not on December 25th) and that can be determined based on the courses of the priests and when Zechariah was chosen. During the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths, we set up a Sukkah, a temporary outdoor dwelling in our yard, we eat, sing, have campfires and sleep under the stars in a rehearsal and anticipation of the great wedding feast soon to come. This is a wonderful rehearsal and is one of my children's favorites as they built the Sukkah themselves and love to decorate it (especially the girls). Shouldn't we be rehearsing these times as He is coming soon? Besides Passover, this is my favorite Feast celebration.

How many times are we told by Yeshua to be watchful, ready? Well, how can we be watchful when we don't even have these feasts on our calendar and on our "radar screen"? He said he would only come as a thief to those who were not watching. The wise virgins were obviously watching and ready with their oil, unlike the foolish virgins who were not. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 says this, "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober." Wow, how many times do I hear people say, "we can't know when He is coming again, as He said he is coming like a thief". Yes, we don't know the exact day or hour, but we can know the season!!!  But did you hear the Word in bold print? Who does Yeshua come as a thief to? Those who are in the darkness, asleep, not watching, oblivious to the times and the seasons right in front of them! We are not as believers children of the darkness, we are children of the day, of the light!

Passover is coming soon on April 18th of this year. I love remembering the Exodus story as it reminds me of another exodus to come and is also a picture of redemption out of a time of tribulation. Something I need reminders of! We will celebrate with friends in our home and I cannot wait to make up the Seder plate, taste the bitter herbs and rejoice in my redemption from the bonds of sin and death, my Egypt. I never get tired of remembering that story whether it is the Hebrews or my own.

So, I keep Yahweh's wonderful appointments (Feasts) in great anticipation of their end time and soon fulfillment. Each one is a remembrance of the past, a celebration of Yeshua and the present in what He is doing,  but also a rehearsal of what is to come! With each passing Feast, we get closer and closer to seeing Him face to face! One day we will be gathered to Him in Israel where He will rule as King of Kings and L-rd of L-rds! And no celebration will be able to compare with that one!

Happy Pesach (Passover) my friends! Next year in Yerushalayim!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Jesus or Yeshua - What's In a Name?

Do names matter? More importantly, are names important to Elohim (G-d)? I am going to take you on a journey of discovery of sorts, and talk about names in general, but more specifically the name of the Messiah, the Word made flesh that came to dwell among us. This is pretty exciting stuff, so hold on to your proverbial hat!

Let me preface this with saying that I believe names DO matter and that they also very much matter to Elohim. I will attempt to point out a few examples of why I believe this, but I also want to point out first and foremost that I grew up learning, believing, calling and submitting to a Messiah whose name is Jesus.  Now, I realize people "get saved" by that name every day and to some extent it doesn't matter, yet for the purpose of continuity between the Old and New Testaments or Covenants, it does matter and more so I think it matters in witnessing to Jews.  You see, the name that most Christians know as "Jesus" appears in the Tanakh (Old Testament) over 200 times! Surprised? Yeah, I was too.

Without even digging too deeply into the scriptures, I can think of examples in which Elohim told parents to name their child a specific name or changed their names.  A few examples of name changes commanded and ordained by Yahweh are Avram (Abram) to Avraham (Abraham), Yaa'kov (Jacob) to  Yisra'el (Israel) and Sarai (Sara) to Sarah. Now I am going to make a very simple (and maybe too simple to some) observation here. If Elohim didn't think names were important, He would not have changed them or given people new names! Names are somehow tied to your destiny. I am not going to pretend I understand this fully, but I do recognize this as truth any way.  Names are important and precious to Elohim. The Word, the very alphabet and more specifically the Hebrew alphabet is powerful. There is something about the spoken Word, living and active. Words have power to tear down or build up! Elohim spoke the very universe and all that you see into existence by speaking words, His Word. So, it isn't hard to think that names are important to Him. In Genesis 17 we read that Avram (exalted father) had his name changed to Avraham (father of many) and that Sarai (mockery) was changed to Sarah (princess). He was changing their names to match their destiny!  Do you ever wonder about your name? Some believers have been given a new name from Adonai. Wouldn't that be a neat prayer request? "Give me a new name that matches my destiny and speaks to who I really am."

Okay, real quick, here is a short list of some of the names of G-d that I frequently use and their English equivalents or meanings. I prefer to use the Hebrew names for G-d and so here are a few of them:
  • Adonai = Lord which means "Master" (when you see this capitalized in your Bible, it is the tetragrammaton, the Hebrew name of G-d consisting of the four letters, Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh).
  • Elohim = G-d
  • Yahweh or YHWH = a most likely imperfect representation of the Name Elohim gave to Moshe (Moses) which is the Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh) but I use it anyway. Imperfect in that there is an ongoing mystery as to how to pronounce the tetragrammaton.
  • Mashiach = Messiah or annointed one. I prefer this over "Christ" for various reasons.
The third command prohibits taking G-d's name in vain. It seems clear to me that this command shows us the importance and sacredness of His name. David Stern in the Complete Jewish Bible explains, "Already by Yeshua's time, no one ever spoke G-d's name exept the cohen hagadol (high priest) when he entered the Most Holy Place in the temple to make atonement for the sins of Israel on Yom Kippur. So strictly was this rule enforced that when the Masoretes wrote down the vowel points for the Torah, they did not write the actual vowels to be used in pronouncing the tetragrammaton." Contrast this attitude of reverence for G-d's name today, which is used flippantly and frequently as a cuss word.

The first mention of the word Yeshua is in Genesis 49:18. In the Hebrew it says, "Liyshu'atekah quytiy YHWH" which is translated, "I wait for thy salvation O YHWH." The meaning behind Yeshua is SALVATION! So, right here where Jacob is blessing his sons, we have this scripture. The very definition of Yeshua's name is salvation. He IS salvation. Period. Let's just insert this Hebrew name Yeshua in place of the word salvation in Luke 2:29-30, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; For mine eyes have seen thy Yeshua!" Simeon's declaration of identifying the Messiah when he was just a little babe as "Yeshua" or salvation takes on new meaning when connected to the Tanakh, as again, this word is used over 200 times in these kind of salvation/Messianic passages! Let's go a little deeper into the word picture in the word Yeshua.

Behind each letter of the Hebrew alephbet is a word picture, that when put together, form the complete meaning of the word. Brad Scott explains in his book, The Tanakh: The Dictionary of the New Testament, "The word yeshua is formed from three consonants. These consonants are the yod, the shin and the ayin. Each of these letters has a primitive form and a primitive meaning behind each one. The primitive forms are not in use today. However, they formed the basis for the early round script which eventually became the modern, more square look. The early form of the yod looked like a hand, and its meaning was a deed or action. The early form of the shin was teeth, and its meaning was to consume or to destroy. The early form of the ayin was an eye, and its meaning was to cast our eyes or to look upon. To the Torah observant early Hebrews, this order of the letters helped to form their understanding of the meaning of the whole word. To be saved was to begin with a deed or action - a rescue- followed by the destruction of the thing you were rescued from, and ultimately concluded by a devotion, or casting your eyes upon, that which delivered you." That is the word picture behind the Hebrew letters for the Messiah - Yeshua! This kind of stuff amazes me! Yeshua came to destroy and rescue me from sin and death and now I am casting my eyes upon Him, in total devotion and love for saving me. In this definition, we not only see what Yeshua did, we also see our response which is the complete picture of salvation.

We casually throw words around and forget their meaning. Salvation is one of those words. We ask, "Are you saved?" or say, "I was saved in 1985." I don't want to get too sidetracked on this thought, but because it is the meaning of Yeshua's name and is a crucial concept to understand, I think it is important. How do we understand what this word means? We look to the source of course and not just the New Testament, but the other 39 books of the Word that defined it quite clearly. Why? Because when Mattityahu (Matthew) said that Yeshua would save us from our sins, the hearers of that message at the time were not told what save or sin meant, because they already had the Book and definitions. They already knew the meaning. Let's look at the first example of save in the Tanakh.

The first occurrence is in Sh'mot (Exodus) 2:16-17, "Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came and drew water, and filled the troughs to water their father's flock. And the shepherds came and drove them away; but Moses stood up and helped them, and watered their flock." I love Brad Scott's explanation, "Here is the first example of someone being saved. The daughters of the priest of Midian had come to water their flock, but the shepherds came not only to take their water, but to drive them away. Moshe takes action. He rises up against the shepherds and drives them away.  This is implied from the use of the word vayyaqam, which means to rise up, as in to rise up against. Moshe then gives the women what the thieves came to take. The result is that one of them is given to Moshe in marriage. Imagine, a Hebrew man goes into the territory of the nations, drives off thieves (see Yochanan or John 10:10), gives his future bride water from the well, and takes her as his own! He then has the chutzpah to go back to his own people with her, to a life contrary to her nature. Then he takes her out on a date to a Passover Seder. Hmmmm." Okay, are you seeing the pattern and description of salvation and how it matches what Messiah said and did?!! Yochanan 10:10 says, "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." The thief is HaSatan, the enemy of our souls, that is who we have been rescued from and now we are "not our own", we have been bought with a price. We enter into this betrothal with Messiah Yeshua in a covenant/Ketubah and there will be a wedding banquet, a celebration, yet to come! Oh, and He is coming again on a white horse...soon! "And the Spirit and the bride say, "Come!".  Are you longing for His return as much as I am? Long engagements or betrothal's are difficult, aren't they?!

From this and many other examples of salvation in the Tanakh, we see that salvation is made up of parts. And I am seeing three. Hmmm. Yet one. Hmmm. 1)rescue 2)destruction of enemies 3) dedication to the rescuer by the one being saved. It seems that modern Christian thinking is only concerned with this first part, being rescued. But is the enemy destroyed when we don't allow the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) to sanctify us through obedience to His Word? We get the victory over sin and the consequences of it when we obey His Word! Believe, by the way is not just a "knowing"of something it is an ACTION word, much like love is an action word, not just a warm and fuzzy feeling. (But that is another post!) Is our dedication to Yeshua, our rescuer, a mere occasional "thanks a lot" but yet we go on living the same lives? It seems to me that the concept of salvation has been greatly watered down in our day. This word "save" in the Tanakh says Brad Scott, "involves a literal rescue from the circumstances, a deliverance from enemies, a return to Elohiym's word, a desire to be clean and not to depart from His word, gratitude and praise, and finally a casting of ones eyes upon YHWH for strength. Is it any coincidence that He is rescuing His people from all the lands in which He scattered them, that He will destroy their enemies, that they will look upon Him who they have pierced, and then all Israel will be saved?"

David Stern in his preface to the Complete Jewish Bible says this, "In Matthew 1:21 an angel of ADONAI tells Yosef (Joseph) that Miryam (Mary), his betrothed, will give birth to a son, 'and you are to name him Yeshua, because he will save his people from their sins.' In English the reason explains nothing - why not name him 'George, because he will save his people from their sins'? Likewise in Greek - the name Iesous has nothing to do with soter, the Greek word for 'save'. Only in Hebrew or Aramaic does the explanation explain. The Hebrew name Yeshua, which is the masculine form of the word yeshu'ah (salvation), is based on the same root (yod-shin-'ayin) as yoshia, which means 'he will save'."

Now, I am not a linguist or translator, but I do think it is interesting that the name Jesus is a transliteration of the Greek name Iesous, which is kinda funny because there is no "J" sound there at all and for the most part it seems to me a man-produced name. It is my understanding that translators added the j sound because they needed a consonant. The question I have is why translate a name so far from the original as to make it sound totally different?  Honestly, I don't get this! When McDonald's builds a restaurant in China, or Russia or Zimbabwe, they do not transliterate the name McDonalds into something else, it remains "McDonalds" because that is what the original owner named it. Why did His wonderful name get translated and obscured in the Word of G-d? Why not use the name Elohim gave the Messiah in the Hebrew and leave it at that? I can only guess at answering this question. My guess is because names are important and HaSatan knows that. I also think it takes the Jewishness OUT of the Jewish names! Crazy to even say it, but it does. When you read the scriptures using the names of all the people and places with their Hebrew names, it reminds you that it is a Jewish or Hebraic book! There seems to me a bit of (okay a lot of) antisemitism in this translation business, whether intentional or not. As I am fully embracing my Hebrew roots and heritage, I am  embracing these precious names.

After all the years of using the (poorly) transliterated name of my Messiah, I am very much enjoying using his given name, Yeshua. Do I still use the name Jesus? Well, after decades of using this name, yes, it slips out. Is it a big deal? No, it really isn't. Either way, I know who I am talking to or about. Yet, can you imagine if everyone around you kept calling you a name that wasn't your given name? I don't know about you, but it would bother me to be called Matilda (or whatever) instead of my given name, Gail.  No offence to the Matilda's of the world, but please don't call me Matilda!

Now I realize there are different spellings for Yeshua and I am not one of those people that insists it has to be spelled a certain way. I am just happy that it is much closer (than "Jesus" is) to the name He was born with and destined to be called. Ideally, yes, I would love to learn and read the actual Hebrew language (something I am very slowly doing), but for now, I am trying to get back to at least the original names and places (proper nouns) given in the Word because names are very important. Every time I use the name Yeshua, it reminds me of who He is and what He came to do. Save. He completely and perfectly fulfilled His destiny and His name testifies to just that. I LOVE IT!

So, there you go. A very imperfect explanation of why I love and now use the name Yeshua instead of Jesus!

NOTE: After reading more about translating versus transliterating, I have come to understand that proper nouns, such as names for G-d, places, etc, should not be translated but transliterated. Apparently the difference is translating will bring the word closest to the original meaning and transliterating will bring the word in the new language closest to it's original sound by using the available sounds in the other alphabet. Proper nouns should be transliterated not translated as it then keeps the word closest to the original sound of the name. Brad Scott on his Wildbranch website has a 4 part series on this if you want to read more, go to  With this in mind, I have changed a few things in this post! I am always learning...