Translate

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Torah: Blueprint of the Soul


“..Torah is the blueprint and its study is the soul of creation…”[1]
Jer33:25
But I, the LORD, make the following promise: I have made a covenant governing the coming of day and night. I have established the fixed laws governing heaven and earth.

Jer33:26
Just as surely as I have done this, so surely will I never reject the descendants of Jacob. Nor will I ever refuse to choose one of my servant David’s descendants to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Indeed, I will restore them and show mercy to them.”[2]

We tend usually to think of Genesis (Hebrew: Bereishis) with the creation of the world, but let us go and ponder the matter just a bit deeper. While it does tell us of the creation of all things, what Bereishis is truly about is the creation of a people; a people called out and set apart and declared Holy by the Living God. As we study the word of God, what we see throughout these books we call Scripture is the true story of creation – not just the physical elements that make it up, but the more enduring and everlasting element of family – Yahvey’s family. Can you picture this in your mind and heart: the Uncreated One, Perfect, Full, Complete- in need of nothing. This Supreme One set content in His power and Self-existence yet – He had a desire. He wanted a family. He created the heavens and all the hosts there-in, angelic ranks that we can only imagine, ranks of Seraphim and Cherubim, strong angels and Arch-Angels; myriads of them, how many we have no idea- yet these did not satisfy this desire.          

We think of two planes of existence, or “realities” if you wish, that of the spiritual and the physical. Let’s put that in simpler terms, “heaven and earth”. The Torah the sages said is the blueprint of creation. Why? Because of what it embodies – the ordinances, statutes and precepts of the Creator. We can call some of these “laws”, for man has learned to recognize that there are indeed “rules” to the order of the universe, and these “rules” appear to be immutable, or unmovable and unchangeable. All things are under command; in some form or another, there is a structure, a command system in place that orders the movement of stars, planets, galaxies, the cosmos. To the scientist, he seeks an explanation rooted and grounded in the physical; for the man or woman of God we look to the “heavens”, to the spiritual for our answers. The Torah is the Father’s revelation of not only His order of things, but of His character and His government – of how He says things should be done. And what is Torah made up of? Words and letters, the building blocks of creation which are the spoken utterances of God. So Torah is also thought of as the bridge between heaven and earth, but could there be another?

Why did God make man, a creation lowly and frail, one He knew was destined to fail? It was because in this frail being He gave the greatest of gifts – the capacity to love willingly. Within this man He placed the spark of Mishpacha, family. And what is man made of? Broken down, the human body contains the minerals and elements common to the earth. Man is made from adamah, the dirt of the ground and is imbued with the Heavenly Spark, the breath of God. With His breath God instilled the neshamah, the soul, and man became a living creature. So here is the other connection between heaven and earth, a literal living connection. God began His Mishpacha here with the man Adam, and from him would come the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs that would become a nation, a nation that would receive the other bridge, His Torah and these would live it, keep it and guard it – and from it would find life.

Life in its abundance would not be fully realized until the Ha’Torah would arrive, the Living Torah, the Memra (Word) of God made flesh in the person of Yeshua Ha’Machiach. Now, we understand this – yet it is hard for those born of Jewish descent to see Him beyond the countless years of persecution they have endured at the hands of those who would call themselves “Christian”… Yet, in spite of the seemingly endless torment of anti-Semitism and outright hatred and disdain – many Jews have been touched by the Spirit of God and been encouraged to look beyond the prejudice and mis-interpretations of the Holy Scriptures and have seen their Messiah in the Messianic writings of the Jewish believers from the first century. Still, the pain and suffering and remembrance of the hatred runs deep; truly we, the Western “Church”, have to bear the responsibility of the sins of our fathers, men who professed the faith of a Savior and a religion they called “Christianity” – a system of belief that has not only wrought great beauty and even greater acts of mercy and love, repentance and deliverance, but also spawned a legacy of suffering and bloodshed, hatred and intolerance, horror and shame.

How is this so? The answer can only be laid at the source – the heart of man. For what is bound in this heart?

Jer 17:9-10
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?  (10)  I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Pro 12:20
Deceit is in the heart of them that imagine evil: but to the counsellors of peace is joy.

Jer 7:23-24
But this thing commanded I them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people: and walk ye in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you.  (24)  But they hearkened not, nor inclined their ear, but walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart, and went backward, and not forward.


Mat 6:21-24
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.  (22)  The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.  (23)  But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!  (24)  No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Now, in this heart lies also a great destroyer, a killer of men’s souls and their walk with God. This is the real issue I want to talk about today. It has a name:

GUILT

Pro 20:9
Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?

Guilt, properly viewed, is a good thing. For it produces what God wants:

2Co 7:9-11
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 

(10) For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 
(11)  For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.


Godly sorrow is what guilt is supposed to produce, not the toxic mix of emotions that we usually come up with in our guilt. To be guilty of something simply means we either did it, or were a partner in the sin. But the love of God is this:

Rom 5:2-10
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (3)  And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;  (4)  And patience, experience; and experience, hope:  (5)  And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. 
(6)  For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 
(7)  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. 
(8)  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 

(9)  Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 

(10)  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

            If He died for us while we were yet sinners, then why our guilt? Our guiltiness is the vehicle God uses to humble us, to bring us to our knees, to cry out to Him for grace because we have transgressed His Holy Law… But, when He comes, and lifts us out of the clay, why do we still insist on holding on to guilt that He by His mercy released us of? The Jewish sages had a name for holding on to guilt – they call it meshuggah; craziness.

            Why craziness? Because they understand guilt in a way in which the Western culture doesn’t. To the Jew, you’ve either done something, or you didn’t. If you did, you t’shuvah (repent), first to God and then to whomever you might have hurt; from there you move forward, and don’t look back. Our Western culture seems to pride itself on how much collective guilt we can have and how many anti-depressants can be sold to counter act the guilt. It helps us to have an understanding of what guilt is.

            “…Dr. Abraham J. Twersky writes in "Let Us Make Man" that guilt is to the emotions what pain is to the physical body. Physical pain is very useful and beneficial. Without pain we would not know that we have touched a flame, or dropped something heavy on our foot, etc. Pain alerts us to stop whatever it is that we are doing which is inflicting damage on us. When a person is whole emotionally, doing things which we know are wrong causes us guilt. The pain we call guilt lets us know that there is something we ought to stop doing. There is guilt which is founded in morals and conscience. That is healthy guilt. Guilt which lacks a foundation is not healthy and needs to be dealt with…”[3]

Jews, by a common stereotype, are said to be masters of guilt. This comes from the image of a Jewish mother using a “guilt trip” upon her children in order to manipulate their behavior. While this is obviously a stereotype, even the Jews themselves use it as humor..

A man calls his mother in Florida.  "Mom, how are you?"
"Not too good," says the mother. "I've been very weak."
The son says, "Why are you so weak?"
She says, "Because I haven't eaten in 38 days."
The man says, "That's terrible. Why haven't you eaten in 38 days?"
The mother answers, "Because I didn't want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call.”[4]


Q: How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Never mind, I’ll just stand here in the dark and suffer.[5]

Rabbi Amy Scheinerman says this:

“…Guilt is a strange thing. When appropriate, it serves us well. When inappropriate, it strangles us.

Guilt is that feeling of responsibility, remorse, and regret that creeps into our minds and takes hold of our souls when we have done something wrong, or failed to do what was right. It is the voice of conscience calling us to task. We can think of it as an ethical early warning system: it alerts us to make a change. In that regard, it is good.

It also has a flip side. While guilt can arise from real events, it can also arise from imagined wrongdoing – and that is a big problem. How can you mitigate something that never happened? What is more, guilt can hang on, clinging to our souls, long past the event that provoked it has been resolved. It can generate a host of suffocating feelings, including failure, unworthiness, shame, anxiety, and self-loathing. This is not good…”
[6]
 Avi Shulman writes:
“…Is guilt good or bad? To help us understand guilt, let us see it as a correlation of pain.
A toothache or stomach cramp is a message saying, "We are in trouble. Correct the problem." Touch a hot stove, or allow a needle to pierce your finger, and the resulting pain is meant to indicate immediate danger.
If you could, would you want to eliminate this type of pain? Not unless you would want a small, easily remedied cavity to go unnoticed until the tooth abscessed, an infection to go untreated until it disabled an organ, or your body to be seriously hurt before you noticed.
Understood in this light, pain is a friend, a valuable warning system, a gift from the Almighty.
The intelligent response to pain is to identify its source and rectify the problem. Once this is done, given appropriate healing time, the pain should subside and disappear. It has fulfilled its mission. If after the cause of pain had been removed the person were to seek ways to continue the pain, we would consider this a pathological problem.
Guilt is pain of the soul. It occurs when you violate your own value system. A person who believes that stealing is wrong, yet gives in to temptation, has his actions out of balance with his beliefs. Just as a needle invades the nerve endings in the finger and signals that something is amiss, the violation of a person's value system takes the form of guilt. Once he identifies and corrects the cause, after he has completed the teshuvah (repentance) process, the feeling of guilt has served its intended purpose and should subside…” [7]
            So this pain we all experience from time to time, this pain called guilt, is a good thing, in its proper context. Yet what happens when we decide to dwell in it, to let it overtake us?

            As Rabbi Sheinerman said, it strangles us. Avi Schulman is right also, in that guilt is pain of the soul. Yet, it is more – it is what we call “conviction”.

We think in terms of the Ruach Ha’Kodesh “convicting” us when we do something wrong. What does the Word say though?

Mat 12:35-37
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart brings out good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings out evil things.  (36)  But I say to you that every idle word, whatever men may speak, they shall give account of it in the day of judgment. 
(37)  For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.

The building blocks of our souls are the words we speak. And what words do we speak most? Those that alter our existence, those that hold back the blessing from God; words like :

“…I’m not good enough…”
“…I haven’t yet paid for this sin…”
“…I can’t forgive myself…”
“…They will never forgive me…”
“…God can’t forgive me…”

All day long we conjure up our reality, telling ourselves how many shortcomings we have. All day long we wrestle with the sin that so besets us, beguiles us into thinking we just have to do something about this sin that weighs upon us, this weight, this “conviction”, that somehow we aren’t doing enough to merit God’s forgiveness…  If we are honest, don’t we all have that spot of fear within us, that maybe we went too far, that we missed the boat?

We have all sinned…
Rom 3:23 
“…For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…”

Knowing this, then, is your fear greater than mine?
Or is your sin so great that you are a “much better sinner” than me?
How heavy is your guilt?
Too heavy for God?

Guilt held onto is deceit. This deceit is born in the pit of hell by an enemy who wants you to wallow in it, to wear it like a shroud, to be always crying out to God to forgive you for this sin, because you just can’t forgive yourself… You are ineffective then for God, for the weight of your own words condemn you and you have forgotten the face of the One who died to set you free.

Torah speaks about sin, about how the record of a transgression is established:

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins; by the mouth of two witnesses, or by the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
Deuteronomy 19:15 (Hebrew World)
“…Two Witnesses – The legal system of Torah is quite clear.  You can’t be convicted by a single witness!  The reasons are obvious.  We have a daily dose of the damage done to innocent people when the accusation of one is enough to determine guilt in the public eye.  The Bible provides protection against this kind of slander.  But there is more to this than justified evidence.  Torah is the expression of the nature and character of God Himself.  It isn’t simply His rules.  It is who He is.  Therefore, God also requires two witnesses against us before a verdict can be proclaimed.
Take a step back from the obvious legal aspects of this verse in the Torah.  Apply the same regulation to another context.  “So when we are guilty of sin, YAHWEH is one witness to that guilt, and the record that is generated of that sin is another.  However, with the reconcilement of Y’shua on the cross dying in our place, that second witness/ record against us is obliterated, and the Torah remains simply to guide us in the path of righteousness for the rest of our redeemed lives.” [8] Two witnesses are needed to convict, but Yeshua removed one of those witnesses, the cheirographon, the record of my debts.  Even though God Himself remains a witness to my disobedience, the second witness is no longer present.  I am absolved of my guilt, not because I am innocent but because the requirement needed to condemn me has no longer been met.  God lives by His own Torah because Torah is who He is.
By the way, if you really want to claim that the Torah no longer applies, then you are left standing before a holy God without any hope of legal defense.  If God’s witness is enough, you are condemned.  Yeshua’s death doesn’t help if only one witness is sufficient.  God does not overlook sin.  Yeshua might have paid the penalty, but if only one witness is needed, I am still guilty as charged.  We must realize that Torah is the basis of forgiveness.  Without the requirement of two witnesses, there is no way out.  Yeshua’s removal of one of the two witnesses is the only way that I can be acquitted…”[9]
This principle of removing the cheirographon, the record our debts, is what is discussed in the Messianic Writings:
Col 2:10-14

“…And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:  (11)  In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:  (12)  Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.  (13)  And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;  (14)  Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross…”

This passage is misunderstood to be about Messiah nailing His holy Word, His Law, His Torah to the Cross! No! it is about that which bears witness against us, the testimony of our sins, the record of our debt. What we do when we hold on to guilt is deny the work of Messiah upon the execution stake, in effect, saying that it wasn’t enough; we still have to pay penitence for our sin.
Brethren, this is not so.
We hold onto guilt because it is like our addictions; it is a place of familiarity. We lived in guilt and shame so long that we almost don’t know how to operate without it, but it is in forgiveness that now we must learn to live. A hard truth here though: in the world of man, you will always find someone who won’t forgive you, even if you ask for it. So should that stop you from laying down the guilt? Should the fact that there maybe someone out there who won’t forgive you for what you’ve done keep you from t’shuvah, from returning to God? Let God work on their heart!
Let the blood of Messiah cleanse you, for truly you are all you can change.



            It is time to let go of the guilt before it crushes the life out of you. For sure, guilt is really just unforgiveness, usually directed at ourselves, and the heart that harbors unforgiveness is a heart that Messiah cannot live in…

Mat 6:6-15
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.  (7)  But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  (8)  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. 
(9-13)  After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 
Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
Amen. 

(14)  For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 
(15)  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Forgiveness isn’t just for others, it is to be toward ourselves as well. If we harbor guilt, then we harbor unforgiveness toward ourselves: the pain of our soul should last but a short time, bringing us to the Godly sorrow that leads to t’shuvah. He is faithful and just to forgive, and to remove our sin:

Psa 103:8-12
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.  (9)  He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever.  (10)  He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.  (11)  For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 
(12)  As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

We can then go before those we’ve hurt, and seek forgiveness. If it isn’t given, we’ve done our part. We have reconciled ourselves to God, forgiven ourselves and sought peace with man. Guilt has done its work.

At the beginning of this lesson I quoted  verses from Jeremiah:


Jer33:25-26
But I, the LORD, make the following promise: I have made a covenant governing the coming of day and night. I have established the fixed laws governing heaven and earth.
Just as surely as I have done this, so surely will I never reject the descendants of Jacob. Nor will I ever refuse to choose one of my servant David’s descendants to rule over the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Indeed, I will restore them and show mercy to them.”[10]

As sons and daughters of God, grafted into the Mishpaca of God, the promise of restoration applies to us also. No matter what you’ve done, it was covered under the Blood of the Lamb; it is held against you no longer. Please, let go. By the building blocks of creation, Yahvey’s Holy Word, He has freed you from the devil’s bondages, and his lies. Become the man or woman Father intends you to be by removing this yoke and trusting in His saving grace.

We all have work to do and we cannot do it shackled by the guilt of our past.
Today is all we have, for tomorrow belongs to God, we have no right to it.

1Co 3:9-15
For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.  (10)  According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 
(11)  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 
(12)  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 
(13)  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 
(14)  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
 (15)  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

What can one build with but their words? When we live in guilt and shame, our words are as wood, hay and stubble; but when we walk in the light of forgiveness, when we walk in the grace and mercy of God, in obedience to His Word, our words then become as gold, silver and precious stones. Saying “I am forgiven” builds a house that cannot be moved; saying “I am guilty” leaves the house on sand and the waves wash it away.

The blueprint of creation awaits, and by its words you are forgiven
The Living Torah, Yeshua our Messiah

May God richly bless you this day my beloved
Amein


[1] Quote from Jerusalem Talmud
[2]THE NET BIBLE®, NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION COPYRIGHT (c) 1996 BY BIBLICAL STUDIES PRESS, L.L.C.

[3] Parshas Shlach by Rabbi Chaim Dovid Green; http://www.torah.org/learning/dvartorah/5759/shlach.html

[4]  Article, “Jewish Humor-Jewish Mothers” http://www.mazorguide.com/Culture/Humor/mothers.htm
[5] © Rabbi Amy Scheinerman, Article dated Monday, April 11, 2011   http://taste-of-torah.blogspot.com/2011/04/guilt-trip-parshat-acharei-mot.html
[6] Ibid…
[7]  Article, “Good Guilt” by Avi Shulman, Reprinted with permission from InnerNet.org. Article can be found at http://www.torah.org/features/secondlook/GoodGuilt2.html
[8] Andrew Gabriel Roth, cited in Carmen Welker, Should Christians be Torah Observant?, p. 75
[9] Article, “Who Accuses You?”, by Skip Moen http://skipmoen.com/tag/two-witnesses/
[10]THE NET BIBLE®, NEW ENGLISH TRANSLATION COPYRIGHT (c) 1996 BY BIBLICAL STUDIES PRESS, L.L.C.