Who We Are To Be Part 8 – The Feasts of The Lord

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!

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Who We Are To Be Part 7 – The Light of Dawn

Isaiah 8:13-16 says, “ADONAI/The LORD Shaddai is the only one you are to regard as holy, He alone are you to fear, He alone are you to dread, and He will be a sanctuary; but for both houses of Israel He will be a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall.  And for the people of Jerusalem He will be a trap and a snare.  Many of them will stumble; they will fall and be broken, they will be snared and captured.  Bind up the testimony and seal up the law/Torah among my disciples.”

In Romans 9:33 Paul says that the stone that makes men stumble is Yeshua and in 1 Timothy 2:6 he calls Yeshua the testimony that was given in its time.  So, Yeshua is the stumbling block and the testimony.

Historically, Christians have held tight to the testimony of Jesus and the Jews have held tight to the Torah. However, as we see in the Isaiah passage it is about both.

Revelation 12:17 lets us know it is the ones who hold to the testimony of Yeshua and keep the commandments of God that the dragon goes after. Both are important!

Finally, we see this in Isaiah 8:20, “To the Law/Torah and the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they will have no dawn.”

Is it any wonder that the enemy wants us to keep these two, the testimony (Yeshua) and the Torah, apart?  It is that all too familiar strategy of divide and conquer. Let’s not give him that satisfaction!  Let us hold to the testimony, Yeshua, and the Torah!

Now, as we begin to witness to our older brother, the Jews, we need to be honest with ourselves and them.  We have presented in the past a Messiah they could not recognize.  Not only have we presented a Gentile looking Messiah devoid of His Jewishness, but we have also said that because He fulfilled the Torah/Law that we don’t have to obey it.  That is and has been a big turn off to the Jewish people and rightly so.

We have essentially said to them, “believe in Jesus to come to God, but don’t serve and obey God.”  That is essentially what they hear.  And it is and has been a huge clue to them that the one we are presenting to them, at least the way we have presented Him, sounds and looks more like a false prophet than the real Messiah written about in the Tanakh (what we call the Old Testament).  Let me explain this statement.

Deuteronomy 13 says that even if someone prophesies and it comes true or does signs and wonders (miracles), but they lead you away from your God and from serving Him they are a false prophet.  Since to serve Him means to obey Him the false prophet is encouraging you to disobey the one you claim to serve. 

Even Yeshua when speaking of those who come to Him and say, “Lord, Lord didn’t we do things in Your Name,” he said to them, “Go away from me you workers of Lawlessness, I never knew you.”(Matthew 7:22-23)  This comment of Yeshua takes place in the context of a discussion about false prophets.  This should be very sobering to us.  We need to be very careful about how we present our Messiah.

Yeshua was a Jew and practiced the Torah.  If He did not He would have been a sinner and not an acceptable sacrifice.  He not only practiced the Torah, He also taught the Torah.  If He didn’t He would have been coming against the teachings of His Father.  He Himself said that His words were the words of His Father (John 8:28, 14:24).  Remember, He is the Living Torah, which also means He would have been coming against Himself.  He would have also, at the least, been calling Himself the least in the Kingdom according to His own words (Matthew 5:17-20).

Yeshua is the Living Torah, He practiced the Torah, He taught the Torah and promised the coming of the Holy Spirit who would also teach us the Torah (John 14:26 & 16:13-15, Romans 8).

My point is this:  Let’s be honest about our mistakes of the past and seek to rectify them with truth and grace.  Let’s not repeat the mistakes of the past.  

I also want to say I am not passing judgement on those who have taught this.  I believe those who have come before us have done the best that they knew to do from what was taught to them. It is not about them, but about us and how we present Yeshua now and in the future, now that the LORD has opened our eyes.

“To the Law/Torah and the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they will have no dawn.”

Who We Are To Be Part 6

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.

Who We Are To Be Part 5

In John 17 Yeshua prayed that His followers would be one as He and the Father are one. I used to think I knew what that meant, that there would no longer be any denominations among the church. However, God has shown me that His ways are higher than our ways. He has a much bigger plan in mind.

His plan is to make the Jew and Gentile one. This is what Paul refers to as the mystery of God/Elohim in the book of Ephesians. Then in Revelation 10:7 John tells us that before the seventh trumpet blows that the mystery of God will be completed. So before the last trump blows we will truly be one.

We see this, as John mentions in this verse (Revelation 10:7), foretold by the prophets.  So where do we see the idea of God’s people being made one in the prophets? We see it in Ezekiel 37 when Elohim tells the prophet to take two sticks. One is named for the tribe of Joseph or Ephraim and all the tribes associated with him and the other is named for Judah and all the tribes associated with him.

We know who Judah is, they are the Jews. But who is the tribe of Ephraim and how did that get associated with the Gentiles? When Elohim dispersed the northern tribes of Israel He dispersed them into the nations and they have not yet returned. They went out into the nations and began to live as the nations, as the Gentiles. So much so that they don’t even know they are descended from the northern tribes of Israel. These are the lost tribes of Israel that Yeshua speaks of coming for.

But again how does that correlate to the Gentiles? We find this in the book of Genesis chapter 48 when Jacob adopts Joseph’s sons Manassah and Ephraim. I know you remember that Jacob crossed his arms and put his right hand on the head of the younger, Ephraim. In doing so he put Ephraim ahead of Manassah.

Jacob then blessed Ephraim and said that he would be the fullness of the nations (gentiles). That should sound familiar from the writing of Paul. In Romans 11:25 Paul mentions the fullness of the Gentiles coming about and that until that happens there would be a hardening of Israel (the Jews). He even calls this a mystery.

When the fullness of the Gentiles (Ephraim) occurs the unhardening of the Jews will happen at the same time and so all of Israel, both Ephraim (Gentiles) and Judah (Jews) will be saved.

Interestingly enough, we are seeing more Jews coming to faith in Messiah Yeshua now than since the first century and at the same time the Gentiles are coming into their fullness, they are becoming complete and beginning to understand the importance of obedience to the Word of God (Torah). Again, these things are happening at the same time.

It is time for the bringing together of the two sticks! We are to be one as Yeshua prayed for and as Ezekiel puts it in 37:21-28, “then say to them this is what ADONAI Elohim says, ‘Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, where they have gone. I will gather them from every side and bring them to their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will be king to them all. They will no longer be two nations and never again be divided into two kingdoms. They will never again be defiled with their idols, their detestable things or with any of their transgressions. I will save them out of all their dwellings in which they sinned. I will purify them. Then they will be My people and I will be their Elohim. My servant David will be king over them. They will all have One Shepherd. They will walk in My ordinances and observe My rulings and do them. They will live in the land that I gave to My servant Jacob, where your ancestors lived. They will live there – they, their children and their children’s children, forever, and My servant David will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace (shalom) with them – it will be an everlasting covenant with them. I will give to them and multiply them. I will set up My Sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be over them. I will be their God and they will be My people. Then the nations will know that I am ADONAI who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever.”

Remember Yeshua when He was praying in John 17 said that the oneness of His people would be what let the world know that Elohim sent His Son. Let’s be more mindful of what His goal is for us and head in His direction, not our own anymore.

So how does this happen?  Zechariah 8:23 says, “Thus says the LORD of Hosts, In that day 10 men from all nations will take hold of the wing/tzitzit of one Jew saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard the LORD is with you.'”

This verse is saying that in the last days the Gentiles from all nations (Ephraim and those who come with him) will take hold of the wing on one Jew wanting to go with him because it is obvious that Elohim is with them. We are seeing this beginning to happen in our day.

Many are going to the believing Jews and asking them to teach them of the ways of Adonai. They are in essence taking a hold of the tzitzit or tassels of a Jew and asking to go with them. I say tzitzit because the word for wing here is the word that describes the corner of the garment (wing) that the tzitzit is to be attached to.

To see Gentile believers interested in what the Messianic Jew has to teach is Biblical. It was prophesied about in this passage. They are asking to be discipled by those who keep Torah as a means of showing their love to our Creator.

Again, this is about Discipleship, not Salvation. It is a desire to learn the ways of our King so that we may please Him, just as Moses prayed in Exodus 33:13. Moses asked this for the purpose of knowing Elohim better, not knowing Him in the first place.

Remember, the goal ahead of us is YHWH making us one and the mystery being fulfilled. So let us learn!

 

Who We Are To Be Part 4

Today I want to look at some passages from Isaiah and to look at some of the things God says to His people in preparing them for the last days and the great harvest.

In Isaiah 51 He begins by telling His people to listen to Him and for those who seek Him and His righteousness to look from the rock from which they were cut namely Abraham and Sarah who obeyed Torah (Genesis 26:4-5). We are to listen and hear Him, we are to shema for His Law comes out from Him and is a light to the nations.

Now that we are listening He calls His people to Awake, Awake three time in chapters 51 and 52. Awake, Awake to clothe with strength and be awake as in days of old. Awake, Awake to why the God sends His wrath on His people and that He is the only One who can comfort and place His wrath on their tormentors. Awake, Awake to clothe with strength again and put on the garments of splendor as God raises you up, you who were redeemed. He gives the place of honor.

God/Elohim wants His people to be awake in these day and how many times have we heard comments about the body of Yeshua being asleep. He does not want us to be asleep, but awake. We will have to be awake if we are to truly seek Him and spread His message of peace, good tidings, and salvation.

So let us awaken and remember where we come from, remember our fathers and those who went before us. Remember what our Father has called us to, to Himself. He wants a people who can be His ambassadors and send forth the message of His Kingdom. However, that is a job for those who are awake, not for those who are asleep.

Awake, Awake people of God and see His righteousness, justice, and salvation go forth to the nations!  Awake, Awake to see revival among His people!

But what does true revival look like? If revival begins with the people of Elohim and the job of the Holy Spirit is to transform us into the image of the Son (Romans 8:29), as well as, to help us obey the commands of God (Ezekiel 36:27) then what kind of life is He leading us, the redeemed, to live?

In 1 John 2:4-6 Scripture says, “Whoever says ‘I know Him’ but does not obey His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever obeys His word, in him truly the love of God is made perfect. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way that He/Yeshua walked.

So if we are to walk as Yeshua walked and the Spirit’s job is to transform us to be like Yeshua and the means by which He does that is to help us obey the commands of God, then the question still stands, what does that look like?

To most of the body of Christ/Messiah you might say that looks quite Jewish. Why? Because Yeshua was a Jew and when He returns He will be a Jew, in fact He is the King of the Jews, King of Israel! Therefore, He lived as a Jew and was obedient to the Law/Torah of God, His Father. So if we are to be like Him won’t our life look like His and won’t we do what He did? Yes!

It is interesting to note, that while to Gentile believers it may appear Jewish, to a Jew it may, at first, seem quite Gentile.  Just in accepting Yeshua/Jesus as their Savior to begin with could appear Gentile to their fellow Jews, not to mention leaving behind some or many of the Rabbinical teachings (the tradition of the elders/oral law). 

So let’s keep in mind the truth of this life is not to be more Jewish or to be more Gentile, depending on your perspective, but to be more Biblical.

As Paul said at the end of chapter 3 of Romans we do not annul the Law/Torah of God by grace, rather we uphold that same Law/Torah.  We obey the commands of Elohim/God.  We obey the Bible!

Therefore, true revival is one being redeemed by the Lamb and then living obedient to the Law/Torah of God (living as Jesus/Yeshua lived) by the power of the Spirit (Romans 8). It is about a transformed life!

Who We Are To Be Part 3

Yeshua said in John 14:6, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” We need to keep in mind that loving God has always been tied to obeying Him. This was not a new concept that Yeshua gave.

If we love the God who redeemed us. Than the natural thing to do is obey the One who redeemed us. We are saved by grace, but His grace and obedience to His commands are not opposites. Remember, we are saved unto good works. We are saved with the understanding that obedience comes next.

We have an obligation to the One we love. Our obligation is to live as He says live and to love Him the way He says to love Him. He gets to decide what that love looks like, not us.

It does not matter what is natural to us, what is convenient for us, what is traditional for us. What matters is what He says pleases Him. After all, we do want to please our Father. We do want what we do to be pleasing in His eyes.

Take a chance and try loving Him His way and see what He will do. Be a man or woman after the heart of the One you love. Love Him the way He says He wants to be loved. Don’t get tangled up in the way man says to love Him, the way we have always done it, but search the Scriptures and see what He says.

He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His word is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Yeshua (the Living Word) is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So will His ways ever change? No! Let us love Him by His standards, not our own.

So “make the most of every opportunity”. Let’s look at that phrase and what surrounds it. It comes from Ephesians 5:16.

The word for ‘opportunity’ is ‘kairos’ in the Greek, which is the same word used for ‘moed’/feast days in the Septuagint. Let that sink in for a minute. Let’s replace ‘opportunity’ with ‘moed’/feast days in the phrase, “making the most of every moed/feast day.

These set times are opportunities for Elohim’s people to awake from our sleep to do the will of Him who called us. What is that will? If we look earlier in Ephesians 4 we see in verses 23 and 24 that Paul says, that we are “to be made new in our attitude of (our) minds and we are to put on our new selves, which is created to be like Elohim in true righteousness and holiness.” Then at the beginning of chapter 5 he tells us to be “imitators of Elohim”.

We are created in the image of God so we are to imitate Him in all holiness and righteousness by loving as Messiah loved us and became an offering and sacrifice to God (5:2). So the will of God is for us to love in true purity of heart.

We find more of this idea in Romans 13:11-14 that begins by bidding us to understand the present time in which we live because it is time for us to wake up from our slumber because our salvation is near. Then in chapter 15 verses 4-7 we find this, “For everything that was written in the past was written to instruct us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures (the Old Testament whose foundation is the Torah) we might have hope. May the Elohim who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Yeshua the Messiah, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the Elohim and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Accept one another just as Messiah accepted you, in order to bring praise to Elohim.”

So we see that Elohim’s appointed times, His moed, His feast days, are opportunities for us to love one another and come together in unity of heart and word. To have occasion to speak psalms, hymns and spiritual songs together with one heart.

We are called to love Him with all we are and to love our neighbor as ourselves (to love one another in the body).  We are to know the times in which we live and truly the times are evil so let us make the most of the opportunities Elohim gives us in His appointed times to come together and love Him and one another for our salvation, His return and Kingdom, is near.

Who We Are To Be Part 2

James says in 1:22-25, “Be doers of the Word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his face in the mirror and after he looks, goes away and forgets what he looks like. However, the one who looks intently into the perfect Law/Torah that brings freedom, and continues in it, not being a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he shall be blessed in what he does.”

We are not free from the Law/Torah, the instruction of God in how to hit the mark, we are free from sin, which is the breaking of the Law/Torah. Psalms 119:44-45 says, “That I may always keep Your Law/Torah, for ever and ever, and walk about in freedom. For I have sought Your precepts.”

Did you catch that both James and the writer of this Psalm are calling the Law/Torah freedom? Let us live in that freedom!

Most of us know Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and not of yourselves it is the gift of God/Elohim not of works so that no one can boast.” Then immediately following that is verse 10 that states, For we are God’s/Elohim’s handiwork/masterpiece created in Messiah Yeshua/Christ Jesus to do good works, which God/Elohim has prepared in advance for us to do.”

In these three verses we have the good news of both justification and sanctification. God/Elohim did not just save us by His grace through faith so that we could not boast that we did it ourselves, it was His gift to us. We did not earn it or deserve it. We did not deserve for the Son of God to die for us. We did not deserve Him taking the punishment for every single sin we have all committed, we did not deserve it in the least. Elohim’s mercy is greater than we can even imagine. He is the consuming fire and in His mercy chose to spare us.

This is our justification, our initial point of salvation. This is when God justifies us in His presence because of the work of Yeshua/Jesus. This is when He redeems us from a life of sin and death. However, is that all He has for us? Of course not!

If that was all He ever did for us it would have been sufficient/Dayenu. But He did not stop there. He tells us of the things He has prepared for us. He gives us the instructions on how to live this redeemed life in the power of His Spirit. He did not just leave us alone to figure it out by ourselves. He gave us His Holy Spirit/The Ruach HaKodesh to teach us how to follow Him. Ezekiel 36:26-27 says this, “I (YHWH) will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will take away your heart of stone and put in you a heart of flesh. I will put my Spirit/Ruach in you and move you/cause you/teach you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” Therefore, part of the job of the Holy Spirit/The Ruach HaKodesh is to help us be obedient to His ways and His laws that He prepared in advance for us to do.

We are to do the good works of the Law so that we may walk in the blessings of obedience. Just like the children of Israel was redeemed out of Egypt by the blood of the lamb and then shown how they were to live, so we are redeemed by the blood of The Lamb and then shown how to live. Yet this way we are to live, the things we are to do and obey, were prepared in advance so that we might walk in them. The Spirit/Ruach teaches us how and it is our job to listen and obey, to shema to the Word of God who told us we are to observe all things that He has taught us.

Freedom has been Proclaimed!

Vicky