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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Avinu shebashamayim: Is He your Father in heaven? Have you accepted this as fact? We begin a multi-part look at Our Father: join me will you?

…Lessons from the Wilderness… [1] [2] [3] [4]
Volume Six
Avinu shebashamayim …
Part ONE

Avinu shebashamayim,
yitkadash shemekha.
Tavo malkhutekha ye’aseh r’tsonekha
ba’arets ka’asher na’asah vashamayim.
Ten-lanu haiyom lechem chukeinu.
u’selach-lanu et-ashmateinu
ka’asher solechim anachnu la’asher ashmulanu.
Ve’al-tevieinu lidei massah,
ki im-hatsileinu min-hara.
Ke lakha, hamamlakha, vehageverah, veha tiferet l’olemei ‘olamim.
Amein.


Matthew 6:9–13 (NASB95)

 “aPray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
                10 ‘aYour kingdom come.
bYour will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
                11 ‘aGive us this day 1our daily bread.
                12 ‘And aforgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
                13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but adeliver us from 1bevil. 2[For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’[5]

Luke 11:1–4 (NASB95)

1 It happened that while 1Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.”
2 And He said to them, aWhen you pray, say:
1Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 ‘Give us aeach day our 1daily bread.
4 ‘And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who ais indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’ ”[6]


I am writing this today, for I am saddened and taken aback by what I see happening in the Messianic communities. Truly it is reaching such a level of discord that we need to refer to ourselves as “Messy-anics”, or just admit – we are not a community anymore. On social media, there is this internecine warfare that goes on in group after group – this one declares a sacred name, that one spells the name different, one house theology, two house theology, one-law, Noachide law, Torah for Jews, Torah for Gentiles, Torah for nobody… this list can run on forever. Admins block this person, people block the admins; this post is allowed, that one is not – all in an effort to “promote harmony” but in reality it just continues to highlight the divide within the body.

Let me put it this way. In Christianity, you have Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, Orthodox Greek, Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, Presbyterians and on and on. What distinguishes these groups are their approach to Scripture, their basic doctrines and theology. Since they cannot agree on the basic points, they separate, form their house of worship, and stay within those walls. Like-minded people gather together and yet, the conflict is not over – you show me a church anywhere that does not have internal conflict, whether it be between congregants, pastors, deacons, the board, or a combination of all, and I’m heading there. What a breath of fresh air that would be. Now, I suppose, that such a place does exist – I just have not seen it yet. This isn’t me putting down any denomination, congregation or movement – it is just a cold hard fact that sadly exists also within the Messianic community.

This problem also exists within Judaism. Basically, there is the orthodox, the reform, and the conservative movements of Judaism (for different looks at these movements, see footnote #7 below). [7]  Movements are sects or denominations of Judaism, the oldest movements being Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots.  Medieval movements included Karaites and Rabbinical Judaism; Rabbinical Judaism split into Chasidic, Orthodox, Reform and Conservative in the US today, and other countries have similar movements differently named. While there are many websites on the various branches of Christianity and Messianic movements, I include the following for any who want to know about the various movements in the Jewish community. These are:

·                                                         Orthodox Union www.ou.org
·                                                         Union for Reform Judaism www.urj.org
·                                                         United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism www.uscj.org
·                                                         Jewish Reconstructionist Federation www.jrf.org
·                                                         Society for Humanistic Judaism www.shj.org
·                                                         ALEPH - Alliance for Jewish Renewal www.aleph.org

Each movement has its own set of beliefs, with or without Mesorah or traditions, and each meet in their own respective enclaves.

Within the Hebraic Perspective community, most do the same thing – rally the troops that agree with “the cause” and build walls to defend the various congregations against those interlopers that don’t think as they do. Unity? Forget it. But I have just one question for everyone to ponder:

Who is Messiah coming for – what group will He chose from?
What bride is Yeshua going to find when He returns
 – a pure, spotless bride, free of spots, wrinkles and blemishes –
 or Frankenstein’s bride – cobbled together with bits and pieces of dead men’s bones?


Matthew 7:13-24 (NET)
7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 7:14 But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.


7:15 “Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are voracious wolves.20 7:16 You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes are not gathered21 from thorns or figs from thistles, are they?22 7:17 In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad23 tree bears bad fruit. 7:18 A good tree is not able to bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree to bear good fruit. 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 7:20 So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.

7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’24 will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.

7:22 On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do25 many powerful deeds?’

7:23 Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’26

7:24 “Everyone27 who hears these words of mine and does them is like28 a wise man29 who built his house on rock. [8]

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven
– only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Here is one of the most sobering statements given by Yeshua, nay, more than a statement, a warning. All believers, and I include myself especially, need to heed these words, let them sink in and take them to heart and start the process of soul searching – their own, not somebody else’s. I address this to not only my Christian brethren, but those in the Messianic movement as well as Jewish brethren, whether or not you believe in Yeshua as Messiah or not.

For no matter who we are, are we doing the will of Avinu shebashamayim?

To ascertain whether or not we are doing the will of the Father, we must first make the decision that We hold Elohim to be our Father. As in the days of old, there were those who professed G-d, yet their hearts were far from Him:

Isaiah 29:13 (HCSB)
13 The Lord said:

          Because these people approach Me with their mouths t
          to honor Me with lip-service u
          yet their hearts are far from Me,
          and their worship consists of man-made rules
          learned by rote [9]



 Jeremiah 2:5-6 (NET)
2:5 This is what the Lord says:

“What fault could your ancestors7 have possibly found in me that they strayed so far from me?8
They paid allegiance to9 worthless idols, and so became worthless to me.10
2:6 They did not ask:
‘Where is the Lord who delivered us out of Egypt,
who brought us through the wilderness,
through a land of desert sands and rift valleys,
through a land of drought and deep darkness,11
through a land in which no one travels,
and where no one lives?’12 ([10])

Yeshua repeated Isaiah in Mark 7, verse 6:

Yeshua answered them, “Yesha‘yahu was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites—as it is written,
‘These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far away from me.
Their worship of me is useless,
because they teach man-made rules as if they were doctrines.’d[11]

There is a point to all this: where is one’s heart in relation to the Father? What is a believer’s intent, their kavanah?

In case you haven’t had a chance to read it, let me give a quick description of kavanah from an earlier blog of mine:

“…the word “KaVaNah”. In Hebrew it looks like this:




Loosely translated in a variety of ways, it can mean “intent, focus, direction or understanding”. But KaVaNah is not merely a word that can be defined – it is, as I have stated before, exactly what Hebrew truly is – a concept. We stand before One who sees us – all the time.  Nothing is secret from Him, nothing is hidden.  Yet, consider this: how many of us, in the hopes of landing a job, will spend hours crafting our resume, practice our “spiel” if you will, to sell ourselves at the job interview with this potential employer? We’ll be willing to spend countless moments thinking of just the right words to say to someone we want to impress; there will even be rehearsed speeches, teachings, the list goes on and on… but, we’ll just drop in any time we feel like it before the King of Glory, with no preparation, no plan, no conscious thought of Who it is we stand before, and we’ll graciously give Him 2 minutes, 5, maybe 15 minutes of our time. Some may be able to stretch it out to 30 minutes or an hour, but truthfully? The most important Presence you or I could ever hope to stand before is neglected or worse, assigned to our minds as an after-thought. We go about our lives, doing our own thing then off the cuff or on the spur of the moment we’ll go “Oh, by the way, did You want me to do this God? I sure hope so, because it’s really what I wanted to do…” [12]

Kavanah, best thought of in the terms of prayer or maybe worship, should be looked upon as, well, our focus – where our heart and to a degree, where our head should be at. Maybe it is a good way to describe it as asking yourself “Why am I praying today?” or maybe as “What am I praying today?” In Judaism, kavanah is supposed to be at the heart of the liturgy, a conscious effort to be made in reciting the prayer and the reason for the prayer. Here in sometimes lies the issue:

“…There is a specific difficulty of Jewish prayer. There are laws: how to pray, when to pray, what to pray. There are fixed times, fixed ways, fixed texts. On the other hand, prayer is worship of the heart, the outpouring of the soul, a matter of kavanah (inner devotion). Thus, Jewish prayer is guided by two opposite principles: order and outburst, regularity and spontaneity, uniformity and individuality, law and freedom, a duty and a prerogative, empathy and self-expression, insight and sensitivity, creed and faith, the word and that which is beyond words. These principles are two poles about which Jewish prayer revolves…” [13]

Keva is the opposite bookend to Kavanah. Keva is for the most part, the structure or the framework and the details of Jewish worship. [14] This structure, in a formalized service, has an advantage of aiding a congregation to render their acts of prayer and worship within a backdrop of unity, but can also be a hindrance to kavanah – to capturing the intent of prayer and worship. Prayer can be reduced to the mere act of duty, or ritual, with no real emotion or connection with the spiritual. This is then the condition that I believe Isaiah and Yeshua were referring too, the act of worship, the mere ritual replacing the kavanah, the intent of the heart of the worshipper.

Emotion alone though is as fickle as ritual. There are those today that can be caught up in the “emotion” of prayer, the elation of worship, which they then trade this emotional experience for what should be a spiritual connection with Elohim. Prayer or worship without intention is nothing at all, just as unfocused emotion leads to an equally empty encounter.

So how does this then relate to the matter at hand – a true encounter with Avinu shebashamayim? Does the heart come before Him with kavanah, with the intent to truly understand what it means that he is “Our Father in heaven”, the Creator, the one who gives us life and sustains that life? Or does the heart approach Him out of a sense of obligation, duty – a duty that says one has to be before Him this day, going through the motions with no real connection?

I tie this into the Ten Devarim – the 10 Words or Aseret haDibrot that Moshe brought down from the mountain. If we as believers cannot wrap ourselves around the very first commandment, then nothing about the Scriptures will ever make any sense at all to us – Keva (ritual) will replace Kavanah and our worship will always be stale and our hearts far from G-d.


“I am the LORD your God.”


It is here that we first begin – if we cannot accept and truthfully believe in this fundamental foundation that there is a G-d and He is our G-d, then we are unlikely to ever come to the place of obedience and the place where our heart and our mind comes to acknowledge 
Avinu shebashamayim.

We will pick this up again in the next post and begin to connect the dots.

Till then, may Elohi Richly bless you all, my beloved

Amein.



[1] Authors note: Use of information from Jewish-themed websites should not be construed as these sites endorsing or confirming any thesis introduced by the author of this epistle. I present the information from their respective sites for instructional purposes only and/or to aid in the readers understanding of the subjects discussed. The inverse is also true – by using these sites in no way confirms or denies that this author holds to all things found on these sites – but brethren, we all can learn from one another, Jew and Gentile; may it be so in shalom and love and respect.
[2]  Author’s note:  Throughout this study I’ll be using the Net® Bible and  the Net® Notes: within the notes you’ll see symbols like this: ( א B Ψ 892* 2427 sys). These are abbreviations used by the NetBible© for identifying the principal manuscript evidence that they (authors and translators of the NetBible©)  used in translating the New Testament. Please go to  https://bible.org/netbible/ and see their section labeled “NET Bible Principals of Translation” for a more complete explanation on these symbols and other items pertinent to the way the NET Bible uses them.
[3] Author’s Note: In these studies I have used the notes that come along with the passages I cite from the sources that I cite: these need a bit of a disclaimer though. As in all things, not everything that is footnoted is something that I necessarily agree with, especially if it contradicts what I believe pertains to any matters of the Torah or the commandments of G-d. I give you the notes as they are written by the authors of the material I cite from, so that you can see the information contained within them. It truly is not my place to edit or correct them; if they state anything that is in opposition to what I teach, then so be it. I will address these issues if requested, but for the sake of brevity (as if any of these posts of mine are brief ) I insert them and let them stand as they are. If I don’t agree with them, why do I include them you might ask? I don’t believe in censuring anyone’s opinions or scholarship; as I would not want mine censured, so I will not do to that to another. As Rabbi Hillel once stated, “What is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is the whole Torah. Go and learn it.” Torah leads me to respect others, even if I disagree; it leads me to present both sides of the coin, even if it could mean I’d lose part of the argument. That is not to say I should not challenge something I believe contradicts the truth of G-d’s word; that I will do in the main body of my epistles; that is where my gentle dissent belongs. Most (but not all) of the differences will come when I quote from the NET® Bible (but not exclusively); it has a decidedly Western/Greek mindset to it, but as a wise man once said “How do you eat chicken? Swallow the meat and spit out the bones…” I do though want to present the NET® notes because there is a wealth of information and research contained within them that I hope you find helpful.
[4] One may wonder why I omit the “o” when I write the title “G-d”. While there are many who say that to leave out the “o” is a sign of being under the influence of the Rabbis who forbid saying the name of Yahveh, I say, one must come to a conclusion on their own, and do as their heart convicts them (within the bounds of G-d’s word of course). I believe in the power of the name of the Most High – the name of Yahveh – and in uttering it in awe and reverence, yet find no contradiction in my soul for the hyphenated title “G-d”. I have written it both ways – stopped doing it, and now I have returned to the practice – as I said, one must follow the conviction of their heart. I do not disrespect anyone else’s opinion on this matter, and regardless if you think it wrong or right, I ask for the same respect. Let each be fully persuaded in their own mind and heart – and let G-d sort it out with each believer. For now, this is right for me, till the Father corrects - or confirms; I am after all, a work in progress. Shalom. 
a  Matt 6:9–13: Luke 11:2–4
a  Matt 3:2; 4:17
b  Matt 26:42; Luke 22:42; Acts 21:14
a  Prov 30:8; Is 33:16; Luke 11:3
1  Or our bread for tomorrow
a  Ex 34:7; Ps 32:1; 130:4; Matt 9:2; 26:28; Eph 1:7; 1 John 1:7–9
a  John 17:15; 1 Cor 10:13; 2 Thess 3:3; 2 Tim 4:18; 2 Pet 2:9; 1 John 5:18
1  Or the evil one
b  Matt 5:37
2  This clause not found in early mss
[5]  New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Mt 6:9–13). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
1  Lit He
a  Luke 11:2–4: Matt 6:9–13
1  Later mss add phrases from Matt 6:9–13 to make the two passages closely similar
a  Acts 17:11
1  Or bread for the coming day or needful bread
a  Luke 13:4 mg
[6]  New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Lk 11:1–4). LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.
 20 sn Sheeps clothing…voracious wolves. Jesus uses a metaphor here to point out that these false prophets appear to be one thing, but in reality they are something quite different and dangerous.
21 tn Grk “They do not gather.” This has been simplified to the passive voice in the translation since the subject “they” is not specified further in the context.
22 sn The statement illustrates the principle: That which cannot produce fruit does not produce fruit.
23 tn Grk “rotten.” The word σαπρός, modifying “tree” in both v. 17 and 18, can also mean “diseased” (L&N 65.28).
24 sn The double use of the vocative is normally used in situations of high emotion or emphasis. Even an emphatic confession without action means little.
25 tn Grk “and in your name do.” This phrase was not repeated here in the translation for stylistic reasons.
26 tn Grk “workers of lawlessness.”
27 tn Grk “Therefore everyone.” Here οὖν (oun) has not been translated.
28 tn Grk “will be like.” The same phrase occurs in v. 26.
29 tn Here and in v. 26 the Greek text reads ἀνήρ (anēr), while the parallel account in Luke 6:47–49 uses ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos) in vv. 48 and 49.
·         End “NET®” notes
[8]  Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
t  29:13 Ezk 33:31; Mt 15:8-9; Mk 7:6-7
u  29:13 Lit their mouth and honor Me with its lips
[9]  The Holy Bible : Holman Christian standard version. 2003. Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers.

8 tn Or “I did not wrong your ancestors in any way. Yet they went far astray from me.” Both translations are an attempt to render the rhetorical question which demands a negative answer.
9 tn Heb “They went/followed after.” This idiom is found most often in Deuteronomy or covenant contexts. It refers to loyalty to God and to his covenant or his commandments (e.g., 1 Kgs 14:8; 2 Chr 34:31) with the metaphor of a path or way underlying it (e.g., Deut 11:28; 28:14). To “follow other gods” was to abandon this way and this loyalty (i.e., to “abandon” or “forget” God, Judg 2:12; Hos 2:13) and to follow the customs or religious traditions of the pagan nations (e.g., 2 Kgs 17:15). The classic text on “following” God or another god is 1 Kgs 18:18, 21 where Elijah taunts the people with “halting between two opinions” whether the Lord was the true God or Baal was. The idiom is often found followed by “to serve and to worship” or “they served and worshiped” such and such a god or entity (see, e.g., Jer 8:2; 11:10; 13:10; 16:11; 25:6; 35:15).
10 tn The words “to me” are not in the Hebrew text but are implicit from the context: Heb “they followed after the worthless thing/things and became worthless.” There is an obvious wordplay on the verb “became worthless” and the noun “worthless thing,” which is probably to be understood collectively and to refer to idols as it does in Jer 8:19; 10:8; 14:22; Jonah 2:8.
11 tn This word is erroneously rendered “shadow of death” in most older English versions; that translation is based on a faulty etymology. Contextual studies and comparative Semitic linguistics have demonstrated that the word is merely another word for darkness. It is confined to poetic texts and often carries connotations of danger and distress. It is associated in poetic texts with the darkness of a prison (Ps 107:10, 14), a mine (Job 28:3), and a ravine (Ps 23:4). Here it is associated with the darkness of the wasteland and ravines of the Sinai desert.
12 sn The context suggests that the question is related to a lament where the people turn to God in their troubles, asking him for help and reminding him of his past benefactions. See for example Isa 63:11–19 and Ps 44. It is an implicit prayer for his intervention, cf. 2 Kgs 2:14.
·         End “NET®” notes
[10]  Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
d Isaiah 29:13
[11] Stern, D. H. (1998). Complete Jewish Bible: an English version of the Tanakh (Old Testament) and B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) (1st ed., Mk 7:6–7). Clarksville, MD: Jewish New Testament Publications.
[14] …Ibid…