For the most part over the last two thousand years the church has done a fairly decent job of evangelism. Part of the reason for this, I believe, is that on this topic the church has had a unified message, Jesus died for our sins, was buried and three days later rose again. This message has been communicated fairly well.
However, that cannot be said of discipleship in the church for the last two thousand years. Discipleship seems to be the church’s area of weakness. We have all been in an interview where the perspective employer asks us to state our strength and weakness. Well for the church its strength is evangelism and its weakness is discipleship. In this area the church cannot find its unified message and when part of the church seems to find a message it cannot seem to stay on message for very long. Why is this?
How many times has someone received Christ and went to their pastor and asked the question, “OK, now what? Now that I am saved how do I live this life?” and the pastor literally stumbles over what to say. That same pastor spoke with great conviction and assurance when it came to the salvation message, but now seems to not know exactly what to say when it comes to instructing one who has believed on how to live out this life.
The most common answers from the church are to read your Bible, pray and maybe join a Bible study group. With all respect to pastors, that answer just doesn’t cut it. It doesn’t tell someone who truly wants to know, how to live out their Christian faith on a day to day basis. Does God tell us how to do this or did He leave us hanging to figure it out ourselves as we flounder through this thing called life?
To be completely honest if we only rely on the New Testament to help us figure this out, we will be left with a lot more questions than answers. Especially, if we have to wade through the theological hoops our pastors send us through. What do I mean by that? Simple, John in 1 John 2:3-6 tells us to live or walk as Jesus walked, but our pastors tell us that Jesus only lived that way because it was cultural to His time and place and we don’t really have to live like He did and by all means don’t go back and read the Old Testament and start asking the question, “Does this still apply to me today?”
Please understand I am not trying to be harsh or critical toward pastors, I am married to one. What I do want us to understand is that we in the church have put theological blinders on ourselves and allowed the enemy to convince us of certain things concerning Scripture and the nature of the Christian life. Yes, we as Christians have to be willing to take an honest look at our historical and current understanding of how we are to follow our Messiah. We can no longer just put our hands over our eyes and hears and refuse to see and hear the truth, we are running out of time and we all know it.
So again, why is the area of discipleship such a problem? First there is the Biblical reason. God did leave us with instructions on how to live life as His child and we have refused to see it as such. The short answer is that the Torah/Law of God is His instruction manual to this life as His child. The longer answer is that the word “torah” itself means instruction and that its root word is actually an archery term meaning “to hit the mark”. That becomes even more interesting when one realizes that the word for sin is also an archery term that means “to miss the mark”.
Let that sink in, ‘sin’ is to miss the mark and the root word of torah is to hit the mark, while the word ‘torah’ itself means instruction. Instruction for what? Torah is our God given instruction manual on how to hit the mark of righteousness and live a holy or set apart life before God. It really is that simple. The Torah is God’s discipleship program.
So, the reason why Discipleship in the church is such a weakness is that it has refused to recognize God’s Discipleship program and has constantly tried to come up with its own, with a manmade system of discipleship. God has never allowed those things to work and never will, especially in a lasting sense.
The historical reason for our discipleship problem is much more complicated and even evil. The church rather early on started purposely pulling away from anything that looked Jewish. These were decisions made by gentiles and based on antisemitism.
The church councils, for example, told the people it was illegal to Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but instead must work on that day. The exact opposite of the Father’s instructions for His people. They wanted a clear break and difference between them and the Jews. This difference came from their own imaginations and not from Scripture.
Sadly, we have been living with those decisions for nearly two thousand years and have been convinced that they are somehow Biblical when that is not the case at all. Even the Roman Catholic church admits that they changed the day of worship from Saturday (the seventh day) to Sunday (the first day) on their own authority and not that of Scripture.
I want to go back to Scripture and see just what did the New Testament writers say. Let’s go back to John in 1 John 3:4 where he states that sin is the breaking of the Law (God’s Law/Torah). John also states in 1 John 1:9, that if we sin, we can confess our sin and that God is faithful and just to forgive us of our sin.
Yet we are told that the Law of God/Torah is not for us or that it has been superseded. Do you see the problem? If the Law/Torah no longer applies then we do not sin and therefore we have no need of confession. Yet John also says that if we say we have no sin than we make God out to be a liar 1 John 1:10). He also goes on to say that if we are born of God then we will not live in a lifestyle of sin (1 John 3:6-9). In other words, we will want to live righteously before God and get rid of all sin in our lives through confession and turning away from sin.
So how does that Bible define righteousness and truth? We can find both of these and much more in Psalm 119. This is not only the longest chapter in the Bible, but it is also a loving description of the Torah/Law/Commands of God/The Word of God. His Torah is truth, it is the way, the life (according to Deuteronomy 30), the restorer of our life, righteous(ness), freedom, eternal and so much more.
Speaking of Deuteronomy 30 Moses also says in that chapter that God’s Torah is not too difficult for the people of God and strangely enough John reiterates this idea in 1 John 5:3.
So, what’s the deal? Is the Torah done away with for the life of the believer or not? I would definitely say, “No”!
Notice I am speaking in terms of the life of one who is already a Believer in Yeshua/Jesus. The Torah/Law of God was never a means to salvation, it was always the way in which His people who already believe live, love Him and each other.
In this perspective the giving of the Torah/Law was an act of grace. It is not Law vs. Grace. The Law is part of the grace of God toward His people. He did not leave us to figure this walk out on our own. He was gracious to us and told us how to live through Moses and then showed us through His Son, Yeshua/Jesus and finally gives us the power to live it through His Holy Spirit/Ruach HaKodesh.
Jesus showed us how to live a perfect, holy, set apart life. It was not a cultural life, it was a Biblical life, a life pleasing to His Father. He loved His Father the way His Father asked to be loved. He loved others the way His Father told Him to love them. He was a perfectly obedient Son. Why would we not want to follow Him in His example? How can we follow Him if we insist on living and walking in a different way?
Is evangelism important? Of course, it is! We need to tell others about what God did for them through His Son. The world needs to know that God loved them so much that He sent His Son. Only through the blood of the Lamb Yeshua are we saved, but is that the be all end all of discipleship? No, it is not! The believer needs to know how to please the One in whom they believe. We need to know what our obligations are toward our Father now that we are part of His family.
That is what the Torah is, it is the rules of the family and one must be part of the family first for them to apply. One does not become adopted into a family by obeying the rules of the family, but is adopted first and then taught the rules of the family so that the family can function as one unit. Was that not the prayer of our Savior? Doesn’t He want us to be one with each other and with Him and the Father? Yes, He does! How can that happen if we are all going in different directions when it comes to discipleship?
Then there is the issue of the Great Commission where we are told by Yeshua in Matthew 28 to make disciples, not just converts. How does He tell us to make disciples? We are to baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit and to teach them to observe all things that He taught.
What did He teach? He taught the teachings of His Father, The Torah. How many times in the Gospel of John does Jesus say that His words are not His own, but His Fathers? Many.
Moses even stated in Deuteronomy 18, when describing the prophet to come (ie. The Messiah), that he would have the words of God in his mouth and Moses was not talking about different words from what the Father had given him.
So, does the Word of God change? No, according to Scripture itself in Isaiah 40:8 the Word of God stands forever, as does 1 Peter 1:25. It does not change, it stands! Why would God change His word if it stands forever? He would not! He is unchanging and His Word stands forever!
I would like to respond to an article on bibleinfo.com about whether Christians should observe the Israelite Festivals, https://www.bibleinfo.com/en/questions/should-christians-observe-israelite-festivals. The article begins with suggesting that one read Leviticus 23 which is about the feasts. This is very good advice and yet the article does not deal with how the chapter starts. That is unfortunate since the beginning sets the tone for the rest of the chapter. God tells Moses to tell the children of Israel about His feasts. That’s right they are called the Lord’s feasts, not the Israelite or Jewish Feasts. The word for feast in Hebrew is ‘moed’ and literally means ‘appointed times’. These are His appointed times to meet with His people, who at this time are in the wilderness and they consist of the twelve tribes of Israel that came out of Egypt and the mixed multitude who chose to go with them and be a part of them. So physically speaking in today’s vernacular they were already Jew and Gentile. This is very important to remember. By the time they enter the Land the Gentiles had so blended into the tribes that they were one nation, Israel.
These appointed times are actually what we would call ‘dress rehearsals’ for what God would do in their future. ‘Dress Rehearsal’ is the actual meaning of the Hebrew word ‘miqra’ that we translate as ‘convocation’. That is right, not only are they going to be memorials for them to remember what God did for them, how He redeemed them, taught them, and preserved them, and dwelt with them, but they were also going to be dress rehearsals for what would come in their future.
The very first Feast listed is the Sabbath, or Shabbat. The article respects this Feast because it says it is a memorial, yet all the Feasts are memorials. The article wants to separate this Feast from all the others and yet Scripture does not do that. In fact, the weekly Shabbat is the template for all the others and all the others have Shabbats within them (Exodus 31:12-17). God uses these Feasts, including the Sabbath, to deepen His relationship with His people.
Consider what Jesus, Yeshua, said in Matthew 22:37-40, He said that all the laws and prophets hang on either the greatest or second greatest commandment. The greatest is found in Deuteronomy 6 and talks about our love for God and the second is in Leviticus 19 and deals with our love for others.
So, on which do the Feasts of Leviticus 23 hang? The first or the second? If we take the ten commandments from Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 and hang each one of the Feasts on one of the two it becomes clear. The commandment about remembering the Sabbath would hang on the First and Greatest Commandment. Since the rest of the Feasts follow the template of the weekly Shabbat then they clearly also hang on the First and Greatest Commandment. In other words, even these are ways God’s people show their love for Him. Jesus, Yeshua, said, “if you love Me you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). His commands are not different than His Father’s. He did not add to or take away from what His Father had given (Deuteronomy 12:32, Matthew 5:17-20). If He had altered the Father’s commands in any way He would have sinned and not been the spotless Lamb of God, which means Yeshua could not have taught or encouraged His followers to abandon the keeping of the Feasts.
Therefore, we see that all the Feasts given in Leviticus 23 are part of how we love God and they remind us of what He has done and point us to what He will do. So, the problem lies not in whether they are still to be observed, but in how we understand our identity.
The next part of the article goes on to speak about each Feast and so that is what I will also do and expand on what is said in the article. Beginning with Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits, these all happened together in the first month from the 14th to the 21st. They were to be memorials to help them remember God’s deliverance from Egypt. Yet they also spoke prophetically of the first coming of Messiah. Yeshua fulfilled each of these in His first coming to the day. He was our Passover Lamb, He was without sin and in the ground for part of Unleavened Bread. Then, of course, He rose on Firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20). However, even though He fulfilled these He still spoke of the Passover meal as being in our future, in the Kingdom, in the account by Luke (Luke 22:15-16). We know we celebrate His resurrection still today, we just call it something else within the Church. Resurrection has been divorced, by man not God, from the Passover. This is a whole other issue and could be a paper all its own. Suffice it to say for our purposes here, we still celebrate His resurrection.
Then there is the seven days of Unleavened Bread. This is a seven day Feast that goes from the 15th of the First month to the 21st of the same month. The first day of the Feast and the last day are both Shabbats with a holy convocation. This Feast is not only a memorial of their life in the wilderness, but also Yeshua’s sinless life that leads to our life without sin and its consequences. I believe, and I stress this is my understanding, that this Feast is connected to the concept in Scripture that a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day (1Peter 3:8). If each day of this Feast represents a thousand years and we count using the genealogies from Creation, then we are on the sixth day about to go into the seventh, our thousand years of Shabbat rest when Yeshua will sit on His throne in Jerusalem and set things right. In other words, it will take seven days or seven thousand years to rid creation of sin and its affects. Finally, when death is conquered, He will hand the Kingdom back to His Father and we will enter eternity (1 Corinthians 15:28). It will take the full seven days or seven thousand years to accomplish it.
Next there is Pentecost or the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot, which is a one day Feast that is a Shabbat with a holy convocation. This is also a remembrance or memorial commemorating the Israelites receiving the commandments on Mount Sinai, which happened on Pentecost. To this day, Pentecost is celebrated in the Jewish Community as a time when the people of God were blessed with the Torah, the Law or instruction of God. While Christians celebrate it in memory of the coming of the Holy Spirit. What Christians and Jews celebrate on this day is more alike than we realize. It has to do with the purpose of the Holy Spirit and what He does in the life of a believer. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says that the reason the Holy Spirit came into our hearts was so that we would walk in or keep the laws of God. So was it any surprise that the Holy Spirit came to indwell His people on this day. The day the Law was given is the same day it was placed on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34). God’s timing is perfect.
We still have the Holy Spirit in us today and He still has the same function in our lives. He is the One who teaches us and reminds us of all that Yeshua did and taught and transforms us into the image of The Son (2 Corinthians 3:18, Philippians 3:20-21) so that we will live as He did, 1 John 2:3-6. Aren’t we still being transformed into His image? Isn’t being made to be like Him still in our future? Absolutely!
On Shavuot or Pentecost, two loaves of bread, with leaven, are to be waved before the Lord. Leavened because we have sinned and two because we are Jew and Gentile. Yeshua prayed that we would be one (John 17:20-23) and that is still what He wants. Others see the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel, Judah and Joseph (Ezekiel 37:15-28) coming together. Either way as Joseph comes back he brings Gentiles with him and we are one nation with one King.
Moving to the fall Feasts, the first one is The Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah, also known as Rosh Hashanna. It is a one day Feast that can last up to 3 days depending on when the new moon is spotted. It is the only Feast in Leviticus 23 that is always on the New Moon. It is also a Shabbat with a holy convocation. Yom Teruah is the blowing of trumpets, shofar or shouting. It is a memorial for remembering the blowing of the shofar heard Mount Sinai as God was calling the people to Himself, for the people repenting as they waited for Moses to return from the presence of God after the golden calf and for the battle of Jericho. It is a call to repentance. The Jews blow the shofar 100 times on this day and the last one is called the Last Trump. I know that sounds familiar!(1Corinthians 15:51-52) Paul spoke of us being called to Yeshua at the ‘Last Trump’, Paul did not make up this term. No, it had already been in use for hundreds of years. This day represents God calling His people to repentance, for judgement is coming, for calling us to Himself and for the battle. We see the last two spoken of when God describes the purposes for the blowing of the silver trumpets in Numbers 10 and we see Paul using these same concepts for the resurrection and what we commonly call the rapture. So, God calls His people to Awaken as we see in Isaiah and to Repent (as seen in John the Baptist and Yeshua’s sermons) or to examine ourselves, so to speak, at this Feast for being called to His side, the battle and judgement are coming!
Then there is the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, which is a one day Feast that a actually calls for a fast. It too is a Shabbat with a holy convocation. Yom Kippur is the day of judgement, for blessing or curse, and comes ten days after Yom Teruah. It is a memorial to remember when Moses returned from the Lord with the second set of tablets and the decision to not destroy the people. The Day of Atonement is a day when the sin of the nation is dealt with. This is the future event of the dividing of the sheep from the goats, some to eternal life and some to eternal judgement (Matthew 25:31-46). This is a corporate event and the sheep and goats are nations. The sheep is His nation, His people, while the goats are all the nations that do not identify with His people. The test seems to be how the nations treat His people. This has to do with our future and while we see Yeshua picturing some of this at His first coming it will receive full meaning and fulfillment at His second coming when those nations who don’t come to the next feast, The Feast of Tabernacles, will receive no rain (Zechariah 14). The Feast of Yom Kippur could also possibly represent the Battle of Armageddon and its aftermath.
The final feast of Leviticus 23 is The Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot. It is a seven day feast beginning on the 15th day of the seventh month, this day is a Shabbat, with an eighth day Shabbat attached to it that is technically not part of Tabernacles but added at the end of it called Shmini Atzeret. Tabernacles or Sukkot is not only a memorial of the time God’s people spent in the wilderness living in booths and God tabernacling in the tent in their midst, but according to Zechariah 14:16-19 it also represents our future in The Millennial Reign of Messiah in which we will be expected to attend. He will once again be in our midst. He will be on His throne and as spoken of above if a nation does not attend this Feast they will receive no rain. Why rain? It is at Sukkot when rain for the next year’s crop is prayed for. Yes, Sukkot is a joyous celebration of thanksgiving for the Harvest, but it is also a time of prayer for the coming year. Biblically speaking rain represents the Word of God, so if a nation has not gone up to hear the Word of the Lord, the Spiritual rain (read at Sukkot – Deuteronomy 31:9-13) that will be perfectly taught by the Messiah (Isaiah 2 and Micah 4) then they will also not get the physical rain.
Sukkot also represents the marriage feast of the Lamb where the Bridegroom and Bride spend time together, this is the honeymoon, so to speak. But remember, He went to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house (John 14:1-3) and after the Wedding Feast the place He had prepared, the New Jerusalem, will come down and we will go into the Father’s house for eternity or the eighth day.
Other passages that discuss the Feasts are Exodus 12, Exodus 16, Exodus 23:14-17, Exodus 34:18-24, Leviticus 16, Numbers 28 and 29, Deuteronomy 16 and Leviticus 19:3 & 30 tell His people to keep the Sabbaths, all of them.
Then the article went to talk about how God decided the sacrifices and offerings would end by using Daniel 9:27, this is a huge problem with the article! This particular verse is about the Antichrist. The act of changing the appointed times and law is the work of the antichrist (Daniel 7:25). God does not break His covenants. God’s Word stands forever (Isaiah 40:6 and 1 Peter 1:25). Now the issue of the sacrifices is a whole other issue. According to Scripture (Deuteronomy 12) once the place of sacrifice has been chosen all sacrifices must take place there and only there (Jerusalem). Without the Temple and the altar in Jerusalem, sacrifices are suspended. One thing we see at the end of Ezekiel is the Millennial Temple being built by Messiah and there being sacrifices at the Temple. Now whether these are actual animal sacrifices for us to remember what He did for us or another way of speaking of living sacrifices is still to be seen, but the context seems to be speaking of animal sacrifices. I don’t claim to understand all this, but one must grapple with it, it is there. We also see the disciples continuing to go to the Temple for times of prayer in Acts (these times were also times of sacrifice) as long as the Temple was still there. Paul even paid for others’ sacrifices in Acts to end a Nazerite vow (Acts 21:17-26, Numbers 6).
The historical fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy was not Matthew 27, that was the veil tearing in two, the sacrifices did not stop after this, which is what the article was implying, but continued until the fall of the Temple in 70 A.D. Even the disciples would have participated in these corporate times that were commanded and did, we even see Paul wanting to get back to Jerusalem for Pentecost (Shavuot).
Back to the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy, keep in mind prophecies can have multiple fulfillments, it was initially fulfilled at the time of the original Hanukkah, meaning dedication, when an antichrist figure called Antiochus Epiphanes, stopped the sacrifices, the reading of Torah, circumcision and anything ‘Jewish’ and forced the people of God to eat pig flesh and sacrificed a pig on the altar. Hanukkah is the celebration of the rededication of the Temple after Antiochus was defeated by the Maccabees. Yeshua refers to this event in Matthew 24 and even attends Hanukkah at the Temple in John 10:22. Again, this does not even come close to proving the article’s argument about the end of the sacrifices and while I agree that the sacrificial system is no longer necessary because of Yeshua’s sacrifice and the destruction of the Temple, the passages the article uses does not support that (not to mention the end of Ezekiel when the sacrifices seem to reappear under Yeshua’s leadership). It is important to note here that the sacrifices never saved anyone in terms of justification or initial salvation. They were always meant to point to the true sacrifice, Yeshua. Abraham told Isaac when they were going up Mount Moriah in Genesis 22 that God would provide and so He did. That’s right, the provision was not ultimately the ram caught in the thicket but the Son of God Himself, Yeshua.
The article is correct in saying that the men of God were called to attend three festivals a year and on the seventh year everyone, men, women and children were to be there. They were to come together and celebrate these Feasts as one at the Temple. That is supposed to be a beautiful godly thing that Yeshua prayed for (John17), not something to set aside.
Then the article turns to Colossians 2. This is a widely misunderstood passage because verses are pulled out and given as proof texts, not used in the context of the passage. These verses are used to try to prove that the Feasts are done away with, yet the context of the passage is the exact opposite. This chapter says that in Messiah all is revealed and only in Messiah does anything dealing with the food, drink, festival, new moon or Shabbat make sense. We are not to be led astray by man made philosophy and empty deceptions that are based on the basic principles of this world and not on Messiah. God’s Feasts, the Lord’s appointed times, are not manmade nor are they basic principles of this world. Instead they all point us to Messiah and in doing them we get to know Him more.
So, what was it that was nailed to the cross? It was the handwritten ‘dogma’, that is the Greek word used here, translated ‘ordinances’ in the KJV. These ordinances or ‘dogma’ are not referring to the Law of God being nailed. This word ‘dogma’ is never used for the Law of God in the Septuagint and Paul would have been very aware of that. It is used of manmade laws, decrees and decisions and found only in the book of Daniel in reference to laws made by pagan kings. It is also used in Acts 15 when referring to the decision of the Jerusalem Council, that decision did not nullify the Law of God, but I will discuss this shortly. In the case of Yeshua, He had a handwritten decree written by man nailed above Him, it was the accusation against Him. We all deserve our own handwritten placard nailed above our heads on our own cross because we have all broken the law, the Law of God. When one breaks His Law the curses that come with breaking that law are against (Colossians 2:14) us. However, Yeshua took our sign above us and nailed it to His cross. He took the curse we deserved by becoming a curse for us (Galatians 3:10-14–It is important to remember that Galatians is entirely about justification, it is not about sanctification). We are then free to enjoy the blessing found in obeying the Law of God. We are now free to obey the perfect Law of God (Psalm 119:44-48, Psalm 19:7 and James 1:25). We are now free from the curse that we deserved (Being deserving of the curse for breaking the Law of God is being under the law, the law of sin and death in Romans 6, which is the state of everyone before coming to faith in Yeshua, whether before the cross or after.) and free to receive the blessing only found in Messiah because He who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He is both our sin (Romans 8:3) and guilt (Isaiah 53:10) offering.
When a man made a sacrifice for sin or guilt he was not then free to disobey the Law of God because the sacrifice was made. No, he was now free from the guilt of that sin, he was supposed to have a clean conscience, to go out and have the freedom to obey the Law of God. Only with the blood of Messiah is our conscience truly made clean (Hebrews 9:14). So now that the sacrifice for our sin and guilt has been made we are now free to walk in obedience to Him, not do away with His commands.
We see this example even with the Exodus. The children of Israel were not free to obey God while they were slaves in Egypt, so God redeems them with an outstretched arm and by the blood of the Passover lamb (justification) and then takes them away from their slavery, not to live according to their own ways but His. He graciously takes them to the Mountain to teach them how to live life as a redeemed people (sanctification). He redeemed them (justification) to set them apart, to make them holy (sanctification) for Him so He could use them as a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6).
Is not the same true of us who have been redeemed with an outstretched arm and the blood of The Passover Lamb? Doesn’t He want to make us holy and set apart? Doesn’t He want to sanctify us with obedience to His Ways? Of course He does and as already said above the Word of God stands forever. It is important to know what a passage is speaking of or its context; is it about justification or sanctification. We must not confuse these, but they often are.
Again, the ordinances that were nailed to the cross were not the Ways of God given in His Word, but rather our transgressions and the curses that were against us. The Feast, His appointed times, were never against us. However, the term in the Hebrew for ‘ordinance’ in the Torah is ‘chqwqwoq’ or its feminine form ‘chuqqah’. This word means an enactment, appointment, appoint, custom, set time, or task. Do these concepts sound familiar? It is primarily used for the Feasts, especially Passover, and sacrifices. What is interesting is that the word is used even in Ezekiel 43:11 and 44:5 for the ordinances of Messiah’s Temple. Notice the word also means custom and the Jews did build up many customs within the Feasts for the purpose of the celebration, but these customs were always based on Scripture. Interestingly, Yeshua used many of the customs to point His disciples and the Jews to Himself. One example would be the cup of redemption at the Passover meal. God did not specifically tell them to have wine at the meal. Then there is the Greek word used for ‘choq’ or ‘chuqqah’ in the Septuagint it is ‘nomos’ or a variant thereof, not ‘dogma’. Therefore, to equate the ‘ordinance’ of Colossians 2:14 to the ‘ordinances’ or Feasts of the Torah is not accurate.
Again, the ordinances spoken of are not the appointed times of God. The Greek word used here was never used for them, anywhere. The ordinances of God use entirely different Greek words in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. We must be good Bereans and study, not just read on the surface what human translators chose to write down in our language. We are to study to show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15) not just read. It is our responsibility to do the digging and we should never leave that in the hands of someone else, not even pastors and teachers.
The article then goes to Acts 15, which has been used very poorly by many, not just this article. It was written to an audience who understood the rules of the Jewish Synagogue. In the first century they did not just allow anyone to come into a Synagogue. The things listed in Acts 15 were actually the rules for being allowed into a Synagogue. That is the reason for verse 21 about the Law of Moses being read in every Synagogue on Shabbat. The new Gentile believers were expected to be in the Synagogues hearing the Word of God. We must remember that was the only place to find it. They did not have access to the Word of God like we do today, everyone with their own copy. No, they needed to be in the Synagogue to hear the Word and learn how to live it. They were not expected to know everything before believing in Messiah. The council never said that the Gentiles were forever responsible for only those few things that were decided on. Now as a part of Messiah’s community they needed to learn what was expected of them as a disciple, as a part of His community. That was the debate.
The issue of circumcision was like shorthand for becoming a Jew, or for conversion. So, the issue was, do they, the Gentiles, need to become a Jew first before they come to Messiah or can they come to Messiah and then learn how to live as He did. We must understand that all the first believers were Jews that grew up learning, often with an intense education, the Torah and the Prophets. So, the question of where they, the Gentiles, should start, with learning the Torah and the Prophets or coming to Messiah, was very real and important to them.
The decision of the council was that they could come to Messiah first and then learn how to live according to His Word (to be justified and then sanctified). However, some things from their pagan lives had to be put away immediately, as soon as they believed (The things listed are all found in the Torah, (Exodus 25 – to eat meat sacrificed to idols was equivalent to participating or agreeing with the sacrifice; Leviticus 18; Leviticus 17, to strangle an animal was to keep its blood inside and not pour it out on the ground, therefore one would be eating blood). Otherwise, they would not be allowed in the Synagogues to learn how to live, just as the Israelites had to consecrate themselves before God came down on the Mountain. The decision of the council was called a ‘dogma’ and was led by the Holy Spirit. It was a manmade decision that the Holy Spirit instructed. His function is to teach us the Ways of God, the Law of God, and how to do them (Ezekiel 36:26-27). Therefore, that decision was in perfect keeping with the Law of God, also known as the Law of Moses (Acts 15:21) in Scripture, with His Torah. In fact, it followed the same pattern as the Exodus. They became His first through faith in the blood of The Lamb and then they are taught how to live for Him.
Next, the article turns to Ephesians 2:15 where again the word ‘dogma’ is used and the article totally ignores the passages surrounding this verse. I want to discuss the verse first. Messiah abolished their enmity, their hatred, in His flesh on the cross and that hatred had teeth from manmade laws that literally put a dividing wall of separation in the Temple. From this law, not a law of God, a wall was built to divide Jews and Gentiles in the Temple, that is how we got the court of the Gentiles. This wall was not found in the Tabernacle in the wilderness nor in Solomon’s Temple.
Yeshua’s death tore it down so that Jew and Gentile could be one new man. We have been trying to rebuild it for centuries. Only the enemy wants to rebuild it. That is not the work of God, to rebuild what Yeshua tore down. Yeshua did not tear it down for the purpose of them looking like us or us looking like them. No, it was so all of us could look like Him and even the Jewish Rabbis today, who don’t believe, say He was the most Torah observant Jew that ever lived. We are to be transformed into His image (Romans 8:29). So, He tore it down so we could all look like Him and be one, one new man.
As for what surrounds the verse in Ephesians, it is quite clear that without Messiah Gentiles were not part of the covenants, not part of Israel and were without hope and without God, but now in Messiah we have been brought close to these things and been made fellow citizens with God’s people (Israel) and members of God’s household. That is our identity! We have been grafted into their nation, their tree, thereby enlarging the nation, not replacing it. We have been made a part of Israel, God’s people. Yes, some Jews were cut off because of unbelief, but we live in the day where God is grafting them back in again. The first believers were Jews and we are now seeing them come to Faith in Messiah again. Paul said in Romans 11:15 that when this happens it means life from the dead. They are being used by God to wake up our faith and all of it is dependent on God’s timing and His alone. In this way all Israel, Jew and Gentile, will be saved.
Here I must also mention the promise of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31:31-34. This new covenant was made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah, together they make up the whole house of Israel. So, if we are not grafted into Israel then the new covenant is not for us. Yeshua, when speaking of the cup said, “this is the new covenant in my blood (Luke 22:20).” If the new covenant is not for us then neither is the blood of redemption, He said this over the cup of redemption during the Passover meal. We can not have one without the other.
The article also spoke of the term ‘forever’ in Hebrew. Where the article is correct in saying that it does not always mean forever as we understand it, it does in the case of the Feasts since the entire Torah has been placed under two witnesses, the heavens and the earth, as witnesses against us (Deuteronomy 30:19). It is important to know that Yeshua talks about these witnesses still being in place when He is referring to how long the Law of God is in effect in Matthew 5:17-20. Notice, He does not make this a salvation issue, but an issue of the greatest and the least in the Kingdom. The greatest keep the commands of God and teaches others to also keep them. To say that Yeshua did away with any part of the Law of God, including the Feasts, is to make Him the least in the Kingdom, not to mention that according to Deuteronomy 11:26-28 and 13:1-6 it would also make Him a false prophet. I don’t think any of us would say that. No, He is the greatest in the Kingdom and the True Prophet spoken of in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. He obeyed everything that applied to Him in the Law of God (obviously, the laws for women, priests and farmers did not apply to Him because He was none of these things) and taught them to His disciples. Therefore, we are to teach them in making disciples since Matthew 28:19-20 says we are to go and make disciples by baptizing (immersing) them into the name (reputation and character) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything that He commanded us.
I want to say here that we can not pick and choose what we will or will not obey based on our preferences. The Law of God is very specific as to what does and what does not apply to who and even in what conditions they apply, such as the sacrifices needing to be made in the place He chooses and at a lawful altar. To pick the Feasts apart from the weekly Shabbat and the rest of the Torah is a grave mistake and God has not given us permission to do that, on the contrary, He told us not to add or take away from His Law (Deuteronomy 12:32). This article took verses to prove its point completely out of context, which is always dangerous. Also, it is important to remember Scriptures definition for sin, it is the breaking of the Law (1 John 3:4), that would include the adding to or taking away from.
I must say something about a quote in the article that says, “To continue these rites would be an insult to Jehovah.” First, let me just take a step back so the lightning doesn’t strike me. Second, this is a question that God keeps putting on my heart, ‘When is it ever wrong to obey God?’ NEVER! Our obedience with a humble heart never insults Him, but always pleases Him. Even if, I am going to say something crazy here to make a point, even if God had said you don’t have to obey this (which He never did) it would still be pleasing to Him for us to obey. We must choose to obey or not obey, we have that choice. Paul points out that now in Messiah we are free to obey by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us (Romans 3:31 and
6-8). We misunderstand Paul when we say otherwise.
Even Peter said Paul was hard to understand and that unlearned and unstable men distort his writings (2 Peter 3:15-16). Why are they unlearned and unstable, because they are lawless (2 Peter 3:17). We must be careful in handling the Word of God and study to rightly divide it, not just make a point or win an argument or debate. The Torah, the Law of God, the Law of Moses is the foundation of Scripture and all of it points to Yeshua (John 5:46). The Prophets continually called the people back to it, Yeshua lived, preached and taught it, the apostles lived and explained it to unlearned Gentiles and new believing Jews, as well as, lived it, and Yeshua will once again teach it in the Kingdom. It was never put aside or discarded, on the contrary, it makes more sense than ever before in light of Yeshua.
The article ends with 1 Corinthians 5:7, which says that Yeshua is our Passover Lamb. But the article left out the next verse that goes on to say, “so let us keep the feast”. We are to keep it not with the old leaven of malice and wickedness, sin; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Keep in mind that this call to keep the Feast was written to a primarily Gentile audience who needed to learn how to be a disciple, not just theoretically but in action. It is important also to remember that He, Yeshua, is truth and the Word of God is truth (Psalm 119:142), and the Word became flesh. Yeshua is the living embodiment of the Word of God and like the Word says and I have mentioned before we are to be transformed into His image, the image of the Word. To be honest there is no better learning tool than doing. So, if we really want to learn about Yeshua and these things point to Yeshua then shouldn’t we want to do them so we can learn even more how to be like Him. God knew this and so He gave us parts to play in the dress rehearsals so that we would know our parts when the day comes for His appearing.
One last thing we all know that sin is to miss the mark, to not get it right. It is an archery term. Well, the word Torah simply means instructions and its root word is also an archery term that means to hit the mark. I used to have this written in the front of my Bible when I was young, it was taught to me by my beloved pastor’s wife. ‘This Book will keep you from sin and sin will keep you from this Book’. How true that is! My husband likes to say, “I don’t need a book on how to miss the mark, I can already do that. I need a book on how to hit the mark”. That is exactly what the Torah is, it is our instruction manual for how to live this life as a disciple of Yeshua, as a Christian. He gave us salvation by His grace and He gave us His Ways, His Torah, His instructions by His grace. Grace has always been there. It was there at the beginning. So, my final thought is a question, ‘Why do we keep trying to get rid of the instructions He so graciously gave us?’.
I want to add one thing. Please do not take my word for any of this. Please study this out for yourself.
Mark 12:28-34 discusses the first and second greatest commandment. Mark who is writing to a primarily Gentile audience is the only one of the Gospel writers who at the front end of His quote of the greatest commandment includes verse 4 of Deuteronomy 6 in his answer. It states, “Hear/shema, O Israel, the Lord/Adonai our God/Elohenu, the Lord/Adonai is one/echad.”
This part of the greatest commandment is quoted regularly by Jews who take their faith seriously. The Gospel of Matthew which was primarily written to a Jewish audience does not include this portion. So why would Mark include it?
Mark is wanting his Gentile audience to become familiar with this piece of liturgy, which the Jews would have already been very familiar with. It was and is quoted regularly in any synagogue.
The Jews did not need to grow accustomed to hearing this spoken, but the new Gentile believers who were now attending synagogue to hear Moses and the prophets read and learn about their new faith needed to know and become comfortable with it. They needed to know that what they were hearing on a weekly basis was not of human origin but comes straight from the Scriptures.
We need to know why we do things even still today. We need to make sure that we are not doing what we do just for the sake of doing or holding to a man made tradition, but because it is part of our Faith and from Scripture.
Three basic questions we should ask are: 1) Do we do what we do because we have always done it that way or because we see it being done in the pages of Scripture? 2) If we are doing things that are not in Scripture, why are we and when and how did we start? 3) If we are not doing things in Scripture why aren’t we and when and how did we stop?
1 John 2:3-6 states, “Now we know that we have come to know Him by this–if we keep (obey) His commandments. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep (obey) His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps (obeys) His word, in him the love of God is truly made perfect. We know that we are in Him by this–whoever claims to abide in Him must walk (live) just as He walked (lived).” Yeshua, the perfect Son of God in whom the love of God was perfect, is our role model on how to live this life. He always obeyed the Father and never broke one of His Father’s commandments. He never broke the Law of the Kingdom. Therefore, He practiced the Shabbat, the Feasts (Moed), the New Moons and all the commands of His Father that applied to Him as a man of Israel. He was not a priest, farmer or women so none of those laws applied to Him.
If He is our perfect example on how to live the life of a citizen of the Kingdom then shouldn’t we live as He lived, in perfect obedience to the Father?
Mark wanted His readers to understand that their salvation/Faith is from the Jews. Even Yeshua said to the women at the well that “salvation is of the Jews”. After all, in the first century we were first known as The Way, a sect of Judaism. Mark wanted them to understand their new Faith and not reinvent it to look more like the pagan world they were familiar with. Unfortunately, much of that was done and now we find ourselves having to ask the three basic questions given above.
Today I want to discuss the Feast Days/Moedim in Leviticus 23. When we practice these Moedim, including Shabbat, we are remembering what God has done and what He will do.
These are our God’s Moedim or appointed times. They are appointed times for us to hold holy convocations or assemblies. These assemblies are really meant to be holy called out dress rehearsals for what is to come (the meaning of the Hebrew word ‘mikra’). They are dress rehearsals in the same way a wedding rehearsal is a practice for the wedding party of the event to come, the wedding.
Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:16-17 that, “All Scripture is God breathed and profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (doing what is right according to Torah/The Law), so that the man of Elohim may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
In other words, the Moedim are part of the way God trains or prepares us for the main events still to come, so that we will be ready when they arrive, when God fulfills His Word.
They also give us hope as we remember what He already has done. If He will do those things than He will surely see all of His Word fulfilled. Halleluyah!
1 Corinthians 1:10 says, “I appeal to you brothers in the name of our Adonai Yeshua the Messiah, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no schisms among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same opinion.
Notice what this passage is saying, that we are to be one, with no schisms. That our words are to be the same and that being the same (one/echad) in mind and opinion makes us complete. Therefore, we are not complete as long as as we are not one/echad, as long as there are schisms between us.
I have heard others over the years speak of unity not meaning uniformity, and in terms of our gifts and talents they would be correct, however this verse seems to be saying that in terms of our faith they are not. Then there is this verse, Ephesians 4:13, that speaks of the Messiah giving different gifts so that His body may be built up “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God and become complete (echad), attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Messiah.” The oneness of the body seems to be the final step to the bride of Messiah making herself ready (Revelation 10:7).
Also, the body of Messiah keeping Torah, in other words, obeying the commandments is also definitely coupled with belief in Yeshua before His return (Revelation 12:17 – “Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her seed—those who keep Elohim’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Yeshua.”).
So the question is are we there? No we are not. So what does that mean? It means we still have a ways to go. The prayer and hope is that we are on the road and not resisting the work of the Spirit in our lives and the life of the body. Remember the work of the Spirit according to Ezekiel 36:27 is to help us obey the decrees and laws of Elohim and do them. Also, according to Jeremiah 31:33 the New Covenant is the placing of the Law/Torah of God on our minds and hearts.
Therefore, the Reformation is not yet complete until these things are true of us. God is still working among His people and He is preparing us for His Kingdom. So we pray, “Your Kingdom come Your Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
So why is it important that even the Gentile believer obeys the Law of God/Torah. It is not only our obligation of living in the power of the Spirit (Romans 8), not only how we express our love for our Messiah (John14), but it is also how we make Judah jealous (Romans 11).
We are called to make the Jews jealous and even angry that we have something that they understand is theirs (Romans 10:19 and Deuteronomy 32:21). When we practice the Torah/Law of Moses/Law of God, when they see us practicing Torah it arouses in them a jealousy and in some cases even anger because they think we are hijacking what is theirs. However, Scripture itself tells us that the same law is for the foreigner and the native born (Exodus 12:49; Numbers 15:15-16, 29;Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 9:14 and Deuteronomy 1:16). It is for all those who choose to follow Elohim and be a part of His Kingdom.
At this point it is not just about our Discipleship in the Kingdom but it also becomes about Evangelism of the Jews. Paul in Romans 11:13b-14 puts it like this, “I make much of my ministry (to the Gentiles) in the hope that I can somehow arouse my own people (the Jews) to jealousy and save some of them. This jealousy is in the hope of their salvation.
So when we live out the Kingdom life it is as if we are Joseph saying to his brother Judah, “I am Joseph (Ephraim) a son of Israel and I bring you my brother good news of life, the Messiah, the true bread of Heaven, has come and He is Yeshua of Nazareth, Yeshua the Netser, Yeshua the Branch.”
Couple these two things, belief in Yeshua our Messiah and obedience to the commands of His Father and we have God’s recipe for His people becoming one/echad. Whether Jew or Gentile, we are called to be one/echad in Messiah and all those who follow Yeshua the Messiah and love Him will obey Him. We willingly become the bondservant of our Master to serve Him faithfully all our days.
What would the body look like if we did this instead of causing division and strife in the House He is building? Things would all come into place and the tabernacle of David would be echad! It would be ready for the glory of Elohim.