Sunday, August 2, 2020

Lessons from the Wilderness - A special epistle

Lessons from the Wilderness: updated 2 August 2020
A Special Volume… [1] [2] [3] [4]

     I write this today as an answer to a recent post on Facebook. As this post concerned how we should look at Yeshua's Torah observance, I had to take the time to respond. I wish no ill will on anyone, so the name of the group where this was posted will be blacked out or altered, as so will the name of the original poster. But we, as a community, must take a stand - do we or are we willing to defend the Word of G-d or not? May my words in response be not taken as a harsh rebuke, but as one who seeks to correct in love. 

Here is the original post: 

“…When we make, as a focus of our ministry, Messiah's Torah keeping, we are elevating a background piece of information to precedence over the work that God was doing through Him on the earth. Yes, of course, He kept Torah - and so did His audience. It's good that we see this small piece of background information, but it only rises to the level of adding to our overall understanding of the life He (and everyone else) lived, not His overall mission. His Torah-keeping does serve to highlight and illuminate elements of His teachings, and why He was doing this or that, talking about this or that - but Yeshua didn't come to this world to keep Torah, that wasn't His overall Mission. Yeshua came to die at the hands of the greatest Empire the world had ever seen so that God could make a spectacle of overcoming the powers and principalities of this world, prove that death no longer had any sting, and thereby draw all people to Himself through His One Unique Son. 

Messiah came so that God could become King of the entire world, now, through Messiah. When we elevate His Torah-keeping, we tend to lose the actual message that the Gospel writers, and later the men who wrote the epistles, were trying to communicate. Yeshua didn't come for the purpose of keeping Torah perfectly, even though He did do that, or even primarily for the purpose of showing us how to keep it perfectly, even though He did that too - He came to become King of the world through the inauguration He performed on the Cross by defeating the existing rulers of the world.

When they threw their worst at Him, taking His life and His honor through crucifixion, and He came back for round two - they had no more fight left in them, they had no response. They were done, finished - to anyone who believed in Yeshua, there could be no more fear of death, which was the only thing Rome could truly mete out. They could take this life away, that was all they had, it was the worst they could threaten. Once the fear of death was gone, Caesar was no longer their king, but instead God, who they believed in for eternal citizenship in the world to come. That knowledge changed the world, and we see polytheism crumble within the next few hundred years in the western world. The testimony of Yeshua, over the last 2,000 years, even when co-opted by governments and twisted, still worked His will upon the earth, spreading the Kingdom of Heaven to the four corners, and that work is still being done.
Christianity changed the world, the message of Yeshua - hospitals were built for the first time, orphanages, abandoned babies adopted by families who had very little themselves, people sold their land and all they had in order to care for the poor they didn't even know, world aid organizations, missionary organizations, slavery abolished, workhouses closed, animal cruelty banned - it happened slowly but surely - the testimony of Yeshua changed the world from a brutally cruel place beyond our imagining to a better one. There have been terrible hiccups of brutality, but in the end, the attitude of most of the world is entirely changed from "might makes right" to "Christ makes right."

Messiah's legacy is changed people, whether we have all the details right or not. That's the fruit of Messiah, even when twisted and misunderstood, His fruit is better than anything else. We need to make sure that we don't lose that by elevating part of the backstory. He is the answer to everything in the Scriptures - else we are left with the tragic tale of the birth of a nation, it's fall, exile, and then more failure. With Messiah, we see the King of the Jews rising to become the most prominent figure in history, bar none - not because He kept Torah, though He did, or showed us how to live it, which He did, but because He alone defeated the Empires of earth and the power they had over men to destroy. He made a spectacle of that destruction and launched a Kingdom that had no reason to fear anything, save God…”

is my response:]

Where do I start? First, to Lxxxxx; thank you for posting this, a beautifully written piece. I can feel the love of Messiah in Txxxx’s message, so please, I pray that one doesn’t view my response as an attack or a criticism upon Tyler, upon you for posting this, or as a polemic against Christianity (defined as the system of religion based upon Jesus Christ) for it isn’t. But let us be honest with one another: this group is called “xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx ”. As a teacher of the Hebraic Perspective, and a follower of Messiah Yeshua AND the Torah, it would be amiss if I did not respond. Hopefully, I choose my words carefully, in love and respect, and all who read will be able to see this. If I fail, then it is upon me.

Yes, in some respects, there are those within this move of G-d as He restores the Torah to a place of honor, that it can seem that Torah is elevated over Messiah. I see this in a lot of different places, namely groups that associate themselves with the Messianic movement. Most (but not all) within this movement have come into it from a Church up-bringing, and have come into the Hebraic Perspective because they felt something was lacking in what they were being taught. For whatever the reason or reasons they had/have, the Messianic movement with its call to return to the Jewish roots of our faith, appealed to them and in the re-discovery of the Torah, they found a purpose and a direction that had been missing from their time in the traditional Christian Church. When they also re-discovered that Yeshua was indeed a Torah observant Jew, this fed their zeal to know more. For some, the zeal for Torah seems to outweigh or overshadow the message of Yeshua – at least this is the appearance.

Let us look at what the writer of this beautifully heartfelt statement had to say, and why, in my opinion, it not only is misguided, but once again it completely strips Yeshua from His roots and from His people. Allow me please, in love, to explain why.

……When we make, as a focus of our ministry, Messiah's Torah keeping, we are elevating a background piece of information to precedence over the work that God was doing through Him on the earth. Yes, of course, He kept Torah - and so did His audience. It's good that we see this small piece of background information, but it only rises to the level of adding to our overall understanding of the life He (and everyone else) lived, not His overall mission. His Torah-keeping does serve to highlight and illuminate elements of His teachings, and why He was doing this or that, talking about this or that - but Yeshua didn't come to this world to keep Torah, that wasn't His overall Mission…”

To say that the Messiah’s Torah keeping is just a “background piece of information” is to say that G-d’s words are simply “background information”. We can then ignore them, or call them outdated, or say they no longer have any relevance in our lives. Why would we need this “background information” at all? We have Yeshua – that is all we need. We need not study to show ourselves approved anymore – we have Yeshua. We need not know anything about the heart and nature of the Father – we have Yeshua. We can ignore all the yet to be fulfilled prophecies concerning the land of Israel and the Jewish people – we have Yeshua! As a construction worker, I don’t need the “background information” as to why someone wants to build a building, just hand me the blueprints and I’ll build: but if I truly want to give the client the best I can give them, it helps me to understand their motivation to build, and who will occupy the building. If I then take this information and insert myself into it, then I will construct the building as if my loved ones would be in it – and thus I’ll do all I can to insure that my work is above reproach, that all of my integrity and skill will go into the job I am doing. In short, that “background information” inspires me to do my best.

The same is in understanding what drove and inspired Yeshua. He did not live His life in a vacuum – and neither did His Apostles. They lived for one thing – the knowledge of the Living G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob/Israel. The Jewish people are G-d’s chosen. The entire Bible is Jewish centered, and the Gospel message is about the restoration of all things: the nation of Israel, the Throne of David, the Torah and the redemption of the Jewish people and all of humanity to the Kingship and Lordship of Yahveh Himself, through His Messiah Yeshua. This is not “background information”. This is the only plan that is out there – G-d’s plan “A”, for there has never been a Plan “B”. Yeshua ha’Mashiach is the cumulation of this plan – the restoration of all things. He is the Living Word, the Living Torah of G-d.

Now, what I am going to say is where I am today – what I believe. If I am wrong, may the Ruach ha’Kodesh correct me and teach me. In Psalms 2, the word says:

Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against Yahweh, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: Yahweh shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree:
Yahweh hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve Yahweh with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him. (Psa 2:1-12)

G-d early on promised a kinsman redeemer, a savior. Throughout the Tanakh (the Torah, Nevi’im [the Prophets]and the Kethuvim [the Writings]) G-d continually promises the Messiah shall be born – and He fulfilled it by begetting Yeshua, by bringing into existence His Word; thus we see in John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1)

And again, in John 1:14:
(John 1:14)
And the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us. And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and of truth.

                The Word was G-d, it was always with G-d, it was always G-d. By His promises of a redeemer, He made His word flesh – and Yeshua was begotten. Even later Yeshua Himself said this:

(John 14:6) 
Jesus sayeth unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

What does Scripture say about the way, truth and the life?

What is that way?
Psalms 119:1 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law(Torah) of the LORD.

And what is the truth?
Psalms 119:142 Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law(Torah) is the truth.

And what is life?
Proverbs 13:14  The law(Torah) of the wise is a fountain of  life, to depart from the snares of death.

This is not “background information”. This is truth, this is life, this is the way we are to walk. Yeshua walked this way – for even He said:

And He said to all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever will save his life shall lose it, but whoever will lose his life for My sake, he shall save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world and loses himself, or is cast away? For whoever shall be ashamed of Me and of My Words, the Son of Man shall be ashamed of him when He shall come in His own and in His Father's glory, and that of the holy angels. (Luke 9:23-26)

I can do nothing of My own self. As I hear, I judge, and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of the Father who has sent Me. If I bear witness of Myself, My witness is not true. There is another who bears witness of Me, and I know that the witness which He witnesses of Me is true. (John 5:30-32)

How can you believe, you who receive honor from one another and do not seek the honor that comes from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you, Moses, in whom you trust. For if you had believed Moses, you would have believed Me, for he wrote of Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how shall you believe My Words? (John 5:44-47)

They did not understand that He spoke to them of the Father. Then Jesus said to them, When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you shall know that I AM, and that I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father has taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things which please Him. As He spoke these words, many believed upon Him. Then Jesus said to the Jews who believed on Him, If you continue in My Word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered Him, We are Abraham's seed and were never in bondage to anyone. How do you say, You will be made free? Jesus answered them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever practices sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not abide in the house forever, but the Son abides forever. Therefore if the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham's seed, but you seek to kill Me because My Word has no place in you. I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you, then, do what you have seen with your father. (John 8:27-38)

Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us. Jesus said to him, Have I been with you such a long time and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father. And how do you say, Show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The Words that I speak to you I do not speak of Myself, but the Father who dwells in Me, He does the works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the very works themselves.
(John 14:8-11)

Jesus answered and said to him, If a man loves Me, he will keep My Word. And My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My Words, and the Word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me. (John 14:23-24)

There are many more scriptures which can be sited, but the point is clear: Yeshua spoke and did only what His Father told Him to say and do. He spoke consistently about the Torah – about how it is to be are way to walk. He obeyed Torah, for if He didn’t, He could not be King of the Jews. He is coming back to rule and reign from the heart of Jerusalem, as King of the Jews, as King of kings and Lord of lords. He will reinstitute the Temple services and the Law (Torah – teachings) shall go forth from Zion. To try to separate Yeshua from what He lived, what He taught and how He was raised is again replacement theology, supersessionism, anti-Judaism and an affront to G-d Himself.

Yes, there are things the Messianic community needs to dial down – one of them is the bashing of our brothers and sisters in the Christian community. What we don’t need is to whitewash the evil and cruelty that makes up most of Christian history. To call the blood of an untold number of souls “terrible hiccups of brutality” is callous and cold. These “terrible hiccups of brutality” are responsible for the pogroms, for slavery, for widows and orphans, for the Holocaust, for the subjugation of countries and indigenous people in the name of empires and colonialization. The early Church ‘fathers’ are responsible for the Inquisition, which lasted roughly 700 years – no mere “hiccup”. Martin Luther penned the blueprint for Hitler’s Final Solution. John Calvin can only be described in today’s terms as a murderer and a serial killer. The list can go on, especially as regarding the people of G-d, the Jews: one only has to research the writings of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Eusebius, Constantine, St. Jerome and John Chrysostom to find hatred and loathing for the brethren of Messiah  – not the love of Christ.

It is the message of Messiah that has changed the world, not the Christian church. Men and women have transcended religion and walked as their G-d commanded with true love and mercy. There is good in Christianity; there is good in Judaism. We would not have the moral system of law we have today if not for the moral system of the Torah and Judaism. The teachings of G-d have not failed – men fail G-d by substituting their own teachings and making G-d’s “background information”.

I mean no one any harm in this rebuttal, and I see the love of Messiah in Txxx’s message. Any forum that calls itself a study group for Torah though should think before  posting anything that waters down the heart of G-d – which the Torah is responsible for showing us. Without the Tanakh, there is no New Testament; there is no knowledge of G-d and His nature, and no knowledge of Messiah and His mission – which incidentally was only to the lost house of Israel (Matthew 10:6 and 15:24).  Yeshua’s mother and step-father: they loved and obeyed the Torah. Yeshua loved the Torah, for He spoke only what His Father told Him to do. The disciples loved the Torah for they observed it, lived it, taught it as Yeshua had taught them and by Yeshua’s teachings of the Torah, changed the world.

Background information? No – only truth, only the way to live and serve G-d and one another. May it always be so, for I follow the Living Torah, the Living Messiah; I need all the background I can get. 

If I offended anyone, I apologize, but this needed to be addressed.

Shalom to all, and may His love shine brightly in all our lives, amein and 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 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 conclude 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.  (Appended note: The main reason I use “G-D” is nao as a name – but a reminder that His name is holy.His name is not to be carelessly written or tossed about, defamed or misused; His holy name is never to be blotted out or destroyed as are the names of the false “gods” of this world (see Deut. 12:3-4 – reading varies by translations). Never is His name or  any title that describes Him to be used in a manner that brings shame upon His reputation – that is why it must be honored and used circumspectly.)

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