Christians and the Feasts – A Response to an Article

                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.

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Prophecies From Matthew Part 4

In Matthew 4 we see that Yeshua leaves Nazareth and goes to live in Capernaum. Matthew in verses 14-16 connects this move to the fulfillment of another prophecy by Isaiah in 9:1-2. Matthew records it like this, “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, along the road by the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles! The people who live in darkness have seen a great light, a light has dawned for those living in the land of the shadow of death.”

Isaiah lets us know that God had formerly humbled the land of Zebulun and Naphtali. The enemies of Israel would come through them first as they came from the north and moved southward through the country. These tribal territories were the first to see the terror, the first to experience the pain, humiliation and defeat.

However, with the coming of the Messiah they would experience a great Light and they would be honored instead of shamed. I find this interesting since Yeshua was, of course, born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judah as fitting for a Davidic King then grew up in Nazareth to be the Branch and now His ministry would be from Capernaum in Galilee to be the Light.

Yeshua cared for all Israel, from the south to the north. Every tribe and every part of the land was special to Him.

He would fulfill prophecy! He is the King, He is the Branch, He is the Light. God be Praised!

Esther Speaks

My heart is heavy lately.  I watch the news and see what is going on in our world and my heart aches.  It aches for our brothers and sisters who are suffering for His Name’s sake.  I aches seeing how backward our world has become.  It aches with the knowledge that our nation is currently on the wrong side.  It aches to see Israel suffer at the threat of annihilation.  As you may be able to tell by now this will be a different kind of article.

I believe God is giving us a message as to the time in which we live.  We are quickly approaching Purim, the festival that commemorates the Jews defeating those who sought to annihilate them in the Persian Empire.  Esther, or should I say Hadassah the Jewess, was put into the position of queen of that empire for a time such as that by God Himself.  She was put into that position to protect her people from those who sought to destroy them.

As I said, we are quickly approaching Purim and God has once again given Israel a leader who wishes to protect them, Benjamin Netanyahu.  He is in this position for such a time as this.  Once again on the eve of Purim Persia, Iran, seeks to destroy them again.  Let me say it clearly, I do not believe the timing of Netanyahu’s speech in Washington is by accident.  I believe it is divinely ordained.  This time our leaders are playing the part of King Xerxes and Benjamin Netanyahu is playing the part of Esther.

As Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to come and speak to our leaders in Washington we need to praying and fasting with him and for him, just as the Jews in Esther’s day did for her.  We also need to be praying and fasting that God would give true godly wisdom to our leader’s.  Just as Esther went before Xerxes and God made him favorable toward helping her and her people so we need to be praying that the same will happen this time with the leaders of the United States.

This is a very serious crossroad, one which has huge implications.  We may very assuredly seal our future if we side against Israel at this hour.  Then again we may seal a blessing if we side with and stand with Israel no matter what the rest of the world may think.  That is the choice we have before us, blessing or curse.

God said, “I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you.”  It is my prayer that we choose blessing.  This could be a moment of great victory, a victory from God, for both us and Israel, together.  We need to stand with Israel or else we will fall.  If we bless them, we will be blessed.  If we curse them, we will be cursed.

We must wake up to the hour in which we live.  This generation has a decision to make.  God is watching and He is our Judge.  What the rest of the world thinks is irrelevant.  We do not answer to the rest of the world, we answer to the One who created this world.

Benjamin Netanyahu is speaking to Congress on March 3rd the day before Purim begins.  May it be a time of rejoicing and not mourning.

U.S. Congressmen and Senators this time you are Xerxes.  Please lower your scepter and speak words of life.  Listen to God, He is speaking to you.  Benjamin Netanyahu is Esther and he is pleading for the life of his people and the land of Israel.  Do not turn a deaf ear or God’s scepter will fall in judgement.  Yes, He is watching!

Let’s pray!

Vicky

Entering Our Mikvah Waters

When we accept His pursuit and His Mohar, when He places His Name on us and seals us with His Holy Spirit we then find ourselves in the waters of the Mikvah.  In coming to the mikvah we are accepting His pursuit of us and telling Him that we are willing to follow, to take up our cross and follow Him daily as Luke 9 tells us to do.

Romans 6:3-4 says, “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”(NIV)  For Jesus it was Him telling His Father, “I’m ready to pursue this course of marriage.  I’m ready to pursue my Bride and I’m ready to pay the Mohar.  I know where it goes, it goes to me paying the Mohar and I’m willing to follow”.  That’s why the Father could say, “This is my Son, whom I love, with Him I am well pleased.”  John let’s us know that the reason the Father loves Him is because He laid down His life.  He was willing to pay the Mohar.

For us though, remember, it’s all about our response to Him because we cannot come to Him unless He draws us.  So everything we do is in response to Him.  I Peter 3:20b-22 “In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also–not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand–with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”(NIV)  Our Mikvah is not about clean verses unclean, not the removal of dirt from the body.  Do you remember as we accept His Mohar, remember from Hebrews 9, His Mohar  redeems us and cleanses our conscience.  Only with that good conscience can we respond in any way to Him.

I want to talk to you about that phrase, “pledge of a good conscience” because it is essential, it is the whole crux of the matter.  The word “pledge”, if you have a different translation you might see the word “response” or “answer”.  That word in the Greek literally means “question”.  What question might that be?  Take a wild guess.  Will you marry Me?  Will you marry Me?  What we do is a response to His question.  It is our pledge, our vow, our answer and our response.  It is our “yes” to Him. 

It’s important that you let your yes be yes.  Numbers 30 let’s us know that vows and promises and pledges are irrevocable.  They’re forever binding.  So we give Him our “yes” in the waters of the Mikvah.  We give it to Him out of the good conscience He has given us, the conscience that He purchased for us.  Did you catch that?  We give Him our “yes” through the waters of the Mikvah, that physical act, out of that good conscience that He purchased for us.

There is a second part, though, to our Mikvah.  Do you know that when we come to Christ were entering a nation?   We are acknowledging our rebirth into the nation of Israel by the Name of Jesus.  I want to share with you what happens when anyone converts to Judaism to this day.  A convert to Judaism, whether male or female, is required to immerse themselves in the mikvah waters two or three times marking their rebirth as members of the people of Israel.  Isn’t that interesting?  Are you aware that in very early Christian history it was very popular that when one was baptized they would be immersed three times, in the Name of the Father, in the Name of the Son, and in the Name of the Holy Spirit and some denominations still practice that?  Upon doing so, they exit the waters as a Jew, a citizen of the nation.

Unfortunately, the Christian church has distanced itself from it’s heritage and roots in Judaism.  Even though the Old Testament is still read and preached, the church has in a lot of ways removed itself from that same Old Testament.  Yes, we are under the New Covenant, but that New Covenant writes the Old Covenant on our hearts.  To say it another way, it writes the Israelite Constitution on our hearts.  Therefore, we are exiting the waters of our mikvah as citizens of God’s Kingdom, members of God’s household.

This leads us to Acts 2:38-39 where Peter responds to the people on the day of Pentecost when the people ask the disciples, “What shall we do?”  “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”(NIV) 

In other words, go through the waters of the Mikvah, everyone of you.  You see, on this particular day and in very early church history there was no separation in the accepting of the pursuit, the accepting of the Mohar, the coming of the Holy Spirit and going through the waters of the Mikvah.   Today, we tend to think of  those as separate steps or stages.  But for them, it was all one fluid motion. 

Whereas, we tend to dissect it into different pieces, making salvation more about us getting the steps right than on the work of the Messiah and God’s ability to call us and justify us through His Holy Spirit.  Upon exiting the mikvah waters they had re-identified themselves with Yeshua and the New Covenant.  They became true citizens of the Kingdom of God, God’s Israel, God’s Royal family (His princes and princesses) under King Yeshua, God’s Ambassadors, God’s Holy Priesthood under His High Priest Jesus Christ.

We also find in Isaiah 44:3-5 the following words:  “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground;  I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.  They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.  One will say, `I belong to the LORD’; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, `The LORD’s,’ and will take the name Israel.”(NIV)

All who go through this process of Kiddushin, go through the waters of the Mikvah and receive the Holy Spirit, it’s all one fluid motion, remember that.  Don’t try to divide it in your head like we often do today.  It is all one fluid motion.  Those who do that, who receive the Spirit, look what it says, one will say I belong to the Lord, another will call himself by the name of Jacob, still another will write on his hand ‘the Lord’s’ and will do what, will take the name Israel.  Those of us who are not Jewish by birth, we have to take on that name because it is completely foreign to us.  We take on the name of Israel.  Therefore our Mikvah gives Jesus our pledge or our answer to His marriage proposal and confers our citizenship as part of Israel.

I know that the book of Romans can be a very deep, deep theological book, but I am going to attempt to sum it up in just a few sentences to show how it fits our theme here.  First of all we are dead in our sins in need of a redeemer.  We call on the name of the Lord and we are baptized, we go through the water of the Mikvah in the name of Christ and receive and live according to His Spirit, the Seal.  We are brought into the nation of Israel and made God’s children and heirs of His promise.  And Israel lives how?  According to the Spirit by giving sacrifices acceptable to God, living sacrifices.  That’s the book of Romans.  If you ever wondered why that talk of Israel is right in the middle of the book, that’s why.  Because when we call on the Name of Jesus and go through the waters of the Mikvah we are entering the nation.  The blessed nation of Israel.

I want to make it very clear that I am in no way advocating Replacement Theology in any way, shape, or fashion.  I do not believe the “church” replaces Israel and God still has some very specific promises for the land of Israel and the Jewish people.  However, we are now included in those promises in the way God sees fit because we have been grafted into that nation and those Jews who place their faith in Yeshua will also be grafted back into that nation.  We are all one nation.  There is not one way of salvation for the Jew and one for the Gentile, but one way for all, Jesus Christ.  My Jewish brothers and sisters in the faith have their part to play and I have mine as a non-Jewish believer and God decides what those will be.  The “church” does not become the new Israel, but upon belief Jews enter into God’s true Israel – the Assembly of the Saints.  To say the the “church” becomes the new Israel separates the Old Covenant from the New and thereby separates God’s story into two stories.  God’s story is one story.  It is one truth and Jesus/Yeshua is the center of all of it.  You see, all of the Bride awaits the same beloved Bridegroom!

In the Name of Our King,

Vicky

Messianic Congregations

Today’s post is one of encouragement.  I want to encourage each of you to reach out to a Messianic Congregation in your region.  Not all of us have one close by so we have to think from a more regional perspective.  You can find the one closest to you by going to the Messianic Alliance of North America at http://www.man-na.com.  Go visit the congregation of your choice and ask how you can participate in their ministry.

My family and I are going to visit a Messianic Congregation in Nashville this Saturday, Kol Dodi. We plan on attending worship and then a Mikvah (baptism) service at the park.  I am really looking forward to this, it will be the first time I have been to a Messianic worship and Mikvah service.  Join me and my family in learning from these amazing people of God.

As I was doing some research this week on Messianic Congregations I also found congregations in Israel.  I have to tell you this was very exciting for me.  The first one I would like to introduce you to is Adonai Roi (The Lord is My Shepherd)/Dugit Messianic Outreach Centre found at:

http://www.dugit.org/dvd.html

I am giving you their dvd page because I would like you to watch these videos and praise God for what He is doing in the land of Israel.  I have had some trouble seeing all of the top video, but the other three work fine.  These videos will amaze you and you will be left with no other response, but praise.  My response was, “And God smiles”.  God is breaking down their wall of hostility and making them one, making them family.

Our prayers need to be with these brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.  I hope you enjoy these videos and also take the time to browse the sites. 

God bless you as you walk in the Light of His grace.

Vicky

 

True Peace

In Ephesians 2:11-22 Paul discusses peace, but do we today really understand what this peace Paul is speaking about is.  Typically when we hear the word peace we think of quietness, stillness and rest.  To be sure that is part of what Paul is talking about, but there is also something much more profound in the word “peace”.  It is rest that can only be found when we draw near to God.  When we find our rest in Him.  Even more it means oneness with each other and God.  Being made whole.   This idea is carried out repeatedly in this passage.  Read this passage with that in mind.  You might even want to substitute the word “oneness” for “peace” and see how that opens up the passage for you.

 EPH 2:11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)– 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.  14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.     19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

This whole passage is about God making the two – those who were far and those who were near – one.  One with each other, putting to death their hostility and hatred for each other by the death of Jesus on the cross.  In Isaiah 57 the Lord says, “Peace, peace to those far and near.” This passage in Ephesians is stating that this has been fulfilled in Yeshua, who came to proclaim the glad tidings of oneness (peace) to those who were far and those who were near.

Let’s back up.  As God’s light of grace shone on those who were aliens to His people, Israel, they were brought near to His people and to Him through the cross and blood of the Messiah.  Also, those who were already “near” through the covenants and promises were brought truly near by the cross and blood of Christ.  For even they, though they had been given the covenants and promises, could not come near enough to God by following the commands and regulations of Scripture – no one can.  As Scripture says, “No one is righteous, not even one”(Psalm 14:3, 53:3 and Romans 3:23).  Humanity, whether Jew or Gentile, is not capable of coming near, truly near, to God on his own.  Sin always separates us, that is why Jesus died.  Only the God-Man could live a sinless life and therefore fulfill the commands and regulations of Scripture becoming the perfect sacrifice of the New Covenant.

It is with the New Covenant, promised back in the book of Jeremiah that God says, “I will be their God and they will be my people”.  He promised a  heart and mind that had the law of God written on them ready and willing to follow Him.  It is the blood of the Messiah that is the blood of the New Covenant – the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats could never be enough, only the blood of The Lamb of God was sufficient.

With the New Covenant Gentiles of the flesh were made citizens of Israel, citizens together with the Jews – all having faith in the Messiah.  It is the Messiah that is our peace, our rest, our stillness, our oneness.  I heard a really wonderful illustration of this recently.  It is actually one that is in Scripture though we have lost the mental picture of it.  In Israel when a wild olive shoot comes up next to a cultivated olive tree that shoot literally raps itself around the tree and after a time you can no longer distinguish the wild shoot from the original tree.  That is an awesome picture to me.  In this way Christ made the two, the Gentile and the Jew, one tree.  Both indistinguishable from the other.

Taking this new tree (made from the two), this new man, Jesus then reconciled both to God through the cross.  Again, Paul states that through the cross their hostility was put to death.  The Jew and the Gentile were hostile to each other then in Paul’s day and they still are today.  Yet in the cross of Christ, the Messiah, this hostility has been put to death and this is also seen today.  Next week I want to highlight some of the ways God is doing this in our generation.

Paul ends by saying the through the Messiah both Jew and Gentile (now both part of the spiritual nation of Israel, God’s people) have access to the Father by the one Holy Spirit.  It is the first time in this passage that Paul uses the plural pronoun “we” purposely bring the two together.  This new man is being built into a holy dwelling built on the foundations of both the prophets and the apostles.

The Old Covenant points directly to the New, even prophesies it – the prophets.  It was the apostles who first proclaimed its fulfillment in Christ.  Therefore, together the prophets and the apostles make up the foundation of God’s household.  This foundation, however, would be worthless without the chief cornerstone, Yeshua the Messiah.  It is on Jesus that the whole house is joined together as one and rises as one holy temple.

The final verse (22) reads in the English as if Paul goes back to just talking about the Gentiles.  However, I do not believe that is the case.  Instead, the “you” is plural, meaning both the Jew and the Gentile in the household of God, the church or assembly of Israel (in this case in Ephesus).  The household of God, both Jew and Gentile, are being built together into one to become the dwelling of God where He lives by His Spirit.  Paul is summarizing what he had already said in detail.

We are one, both with each other and with God through the cross of Christ and by His Spirit and our hostility has been replaced by love for each other and our God.

Peace,

Vicky