This weekly devotional is taken from the insights I gained from reading The Daniel Dilemma, by Chris Hodges (with a forward by Lysa TerKeurst). If you would like to read along with me as I take this year to study how to “Stand firm and love well,” you can purchase the book from this link at Amazon. There is also a study guide, but I will not be using it as I study this book.
Truth without grace is mean.
Grace without truth is meaningless.
Truth and grace together are good medicine.
Author, The Daniel Dilemma
Our world is in chaos. How do we hold to the truth in love?
The Woman Caught in Adultery
Looking for a reason to condemn Yeshua, the Jewish leaders had dragged a hapless woman from the very bed in which she and her lover lay (notice that only she was accused of adultery). Was this a set-up? Most assuredly. But the Jews weren’t setting up the woman—they were setting up Yeshua.
The Pharisees themselves probably weren’t guilty of being the sex partner; they kept strictly to the law. But it was likely they who convinced someone to take this woman to be so that they could catch her in the act. His identity was protected. Hers was not.
As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.
John 8:3-6 NLT
Yeshua was not concerned about her sin as much as He was about the sins of the Pharisees. “Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools” (Romans 1:22 NLT). They were the leaders of the people; what they said and did would be accepted as right.
But Yeshua showed a better way.
They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”
Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
John 8:7-11 NLT
We see it every day on television or in social media. Words designed to assassinate character and ruin lives. If we enter into that conversation (and we must), then we should learn how to do it in love and with compassion not only for those who are maligned, but for those who malign as well. Only when we are willing to make the Word of God (Yeshua) our standard will we be able to help calm the chaos.
There is a balance to be sought here. We must balance the word of truth (God’s standard) with the reality of His love and His grace to cover our sins.
How can we expect those who are lost to ever come to Jesus if what we say is: “You are sinful and going to hell.” In essence we are telling sinners that God’s love doesn’t cover their sins unless they are like us.
We become paralyzed by extremes. Either we are battle weary and give in by accepting everything, or we polarize and refuse to participate. Yet there is another way. This devotional study will focus on a man who was thrust into a culture surprisingly very much like our own. He discovered how to stand firm and still be the calm in the cultural storm. His name was Daniel, meaning “God is my judge.” Because ultimately, He is.
Occasionally, I’ll have a Hebrew student who insists that he (or she) doesn’t see the need to learn both block script and cursive script when studying Hebrew. When I hear that, I have one response.
“You don’t have to learn both ways, but if you don’t you are cheating yourself.”
Yes, it’s true that most printed materials in Israel are written in block script (and usually without vowel points, called nikkudot). However, private correspondence is usually written in cursive. Many labels are also written in cursive, so shopping might be a bit difficult if you only read block script. And then there’s graffiti…
One of my students who didn’t want to learn cursive sent me a bit of graffiti she saw on a wall, and she had no idea what it said. So she asked me to translate for her. It literally means “the people of Israel are alive,” but is usually translated “Israel lives.”
The thing is, Hebrew doesn’t have upper-case and lower-case letters. It has only one alphabet and all the letters have the same “x-height.” It does have some ascenders and descenders, such as in the letters khaf sofit (ך) and lamed (ל), which go slightly above or below the baseline, but most of them fit neatly between a top line and a bottom line. (Actually, Hebrew “hangs” from the topline rather than sitting on a bottom line as English does.)
When we learned English in elementary school (or kindergarten), first we learned block print (I learned the stick-and-ball method) and we learned both upper-case and lower-upper-case letters. Call that 2 alphabets since there are two forms of each letter. Then, later on, we learned cursive, which also has two forms. So that’s a total of 4 alphabets we learned so we could read and write English.
Hebrew only has one set of forms for each of two scripts, block and cursive. Learning to read and write in Hebrew cursive should certainly be no more difficult than learning to read and write in both block and cursive scripts in English!
I recently read a post regarding the promises in the Bible. It said that some of the promises were made only to the nation of Israel and some only to Christians.
Let’s start out by defining what a promise is. It the Tanach (Old Testament), the word translated “promise” is דָבַר (da-bar), which means “speak or promise.” It first appears as promise in Genesis.
“For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD
by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD
will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
Genesis 18:19 (NIV, emphasis added)
This was a promise to an individual, specifically Abraham. God had promised a child through Sarah who would be called “the son of promise.” Now, if you look at the promise as one of the flesh, you don’t foolishly think that you will have a baby at 90 or 100.
But if you recognize that Scriptures in the Tanach are spiritual as well as temporal, you can see that the promised son, Isaac, was a type and a shadow of the Son of Promise who was yet to come, Jesus of Nazareth. That promise was made to the entire world.
He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also forthesinsofthewholeworld.
1 John 2:2 (NIV, emphasis added)
Isaac’s near-sacrifice was a type and shadow of the sacrifice Jesus would make for the whole world. Abraham believed God’s promise to make his offspring a blessing to all the families of the earth (Acts 3:25). He did not hesitate to do all God spoke (דבר) to him because he understood that God’s promises are yes and amen.
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.”
2nd Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)
Next, we have to look at whom the promises apply. The article I read divided them into those for Jews and those for Christians. The problem with seeing things that way is that it ignores the Book of Romans
“For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same LORD is Lord of all, bestowing His riches on all who call on Him.”
Romans 10:12 (ESV)
What are His riches but the promises made to His people?
The next chapter in Romans describes to us who His true church is.
“But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.”
Romans 11:17-18 (ESV)
Yes, I realize that salvation is the issue here and that Jews and Gentiles alike gain salvation in the same way. But what may not be so apparent is that Gentiles are grafted into the same tree that represents the nation of Israel. Jews who believe in Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) remain Jewish and all the promises relevant to them as Jews still remain. They do not leave Judaism behind and become Christians, as though it were a separate way. There is only one way, through Jesus. The law never was meant to save them—in fact, it could not—yet Jesus diligently kept God’s law.
“…since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. Do we, then, nullify the Law by this faith? Absolutely not! Instead, we uphold the Law.”
Romans 3:30-31 (Berean Bible)
There is a great misunderstanding about what Jesus came to do. Most Christians think that the law has been done away with, but according to Jesus Himself, that is not true.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”
Matthew 5:17-18 (NKJV)
A “jot” is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alef-bet, called variously yud or yod. A “tittle” is the crown-like marking above some of the letters (particularly the letter “zayin,” which represents a man with a crown upon his head).
Jesus was saying that He was making the law “full.” The Jews kept the letter of the law but ignored the weightier matters. That is why He said the following.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
Matthew 5:21-22 (NKJV)
Therefore, the law and the prophets were not done away with; in fact, Jesus kept all the laws to the letter. He did not, however, put restrictions upon the people that came from the traditions of man instead of from God.
If a Jew becomes a believer in Christ, he does not cease being a Jew. When a Gentile becomes a believer in the Jewish Messiah, he does not become a Jew. Instead, both of them become something entirely new—followers of the living God.
“The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him.”
To sum it all up, there is one Scripture in particular that states it all quite clearly.
“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, killing the hostility.”
Ephesians 2:11-16 (NKJV)
If we are separate from Jews who believe in Messiah yet retain the promises given to Israel, then the wall has not been torn down and the “one new man” does not exist.
There is no Christianity apart from Christ’s own faith and He is a Jew and heir to all the promises. When we are saved, we become heirs of all the promises because there is no difference between Jew and Gentile. If anyone can claim the promises of God, it is Yeshua Himself, and we in Him.
Recently during a Bible study with friends, the subject of “once saved, always saved” arose. I expressed that I believed that once you were saved you could not “lose” your salvation. One of the other members did not agree. She was fully convinced that you could, indeed, lose your salvation and pointed out several verses of scripture that were difficult passages to argue with.
My constant prayer is that the Holy Spirit will enlighten my understanding, give me the mind of Christ, and direct my thoughts, words, and actions. I told my friend that I would go do some soul-searching and Bible reading to see if I had simply believed what I had been taught, if my understanding of scripture was inaccurate, or if my belief was well-founded.
Define that, please
I did a lot of praying and reading. Why did I believe that I couldn’t lose my salvation? I decided I needed to understand the Biblical definitions of some key words.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
What does eternal mean? Taken from the Greek word aiōnios, it means in this context everlasting, without end, never to cease. The other two meanings don’t fit the context (click link G166 ).
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting G166 life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)
Both times, and in fact 17 times in the book of John alone, the word eternal means “without end.”
What does it mean to be conjoined? For this one, we need a regular dictionary, since the word is not in the Bible, though the concept is. The Dictionary.com defines conjoined as “joined together, united, or linked.” Not just acquaintances, but deeply associated like brothers.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” (John 8:31)
Believers—true followers of Jesus—continueg3306 in His word. Jesus said His disciples indeed continued. They did not depart (except Judas). The Greek word menō is defined as “a primary verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):—abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand.”
So now I have a better understanding of what Jesus meant when He told Nicodemus that those who believed in Him would have eternal life. Those who joined themselves to Jesus in unity and continued in His word were His disciples.
So what about those hard passages?
My friend was fully convinced because there are passages that seem to say if you start down the path with Jesus and then fall away, you can’t be redeemed again. And she’s right—kind of.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)
What does “to fall away” actually mean? Another word for it is apostasy. John MacArthur defines apostasy this way. “Apostasy can be defined as someone who, with full knowledge of the gospel, full knowledge of the message of Scripture, turns against it in a final act of rejection” (emphasis mine).
Two people in the New Testament who immediately come to mind are Judas and Demas. Judas spent three years in the company of followers of Christ, seeing all the evidence of His messiahship, with all His teaching and miracles. Yet Jesus called Judas a devil! Judas hadn’t yet betrayed Christ, but Jesus knew that he wasn’t a true believer, despite having been enlightened, having tasted of the heavenly gift, and having partaken of everything the other disciples had. He ministered with them, ate with them, fellowshipped with Jesus, yet was not of them.
Demas was ministering with Paul until he (Demas) quit. He didn’t continue, though he had followed Paul and heard his teaching and saw the miracles Paul performed. He heard, saw, tasted… but didn’t continue. He didn’t fall away, he simply walked away.
So the impossibility of being renewed again unto repentance is because all that can be said has been said and all that can be done has been done and yet it was all eventually rejected. There is nothing else left for that person. Jesus cannot be sacrificed again for them; His sacrifice was once for all.
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1 John 2:19)
This scripture shows that continuing with them was what would confirm their discipleship. How long to continue? Until the end.
“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17:12)
Perdition is the Greek word apōleia, meaning the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell. Judas’ very nature was perdition. He was never a true believer, as demonstrated when Mary poured the expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet.
“This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.” (John 12:6)
Now let’s look at another hard scripture.
“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
If you take this scripture alone, it appears to say that once you start walking with Jesus, if you reconsider, you have fallen away. But does it?
Let’s look at the scriptures immediately before it.
“And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.” (Luke 9:57-61)
Each one of these men called Jesus Lord. Each one of them said they would follow Him. Note that these men made “professions of faith” and yet did not follow Jesus, though they said it was their intention. Did they really fall away? From what? How can you “fall away from the faith” if you never truly even had it?
In the parable of the wheat and the tares, the servants couldn’t tell the difference between them. The Master told them not to tear them out lest they also tear out the wheat. They grew up together until the harvest, and then the tares were burned. Only the Master knew which were tares and which were wheat. We, as servants, are not called to make that distinction.
One last thought
“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, Inever knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23)
I believe there are many who call themselves Christians but do not “continue in His word.” They perform many good deeds and preach as though they are truly His followers. But they do not continue! At some point they deny the faith that they have earlier espoused, thinking that all the good deeds they’ve done will allow them to depart from His word. This final denial cuts a person off from salvation. That is the “falling away” of which the Bible speaks, in my opinion. Constantly being fearful of losing your salvation cannot be what Jesus had in mind. How many times did He say “fear not”?
Perhaps you still don’t believe in eternal security. But please, don’t live in eternal insecurity!
If you are saved, you will continue to the end, even if you have doubts. Your inheritance is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit who has put His seal on you. Once He bestows on you eternal life, it is for eternity.
“And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: AND, LO, I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD. Amen (Matthew 28:17-20
It happened again. I allowed a measuring spoon to fall into the garbage disposal and it got bent out of shape. When my husband said, “Sweetie, again?” I got bent out of shape. Not my intention, for sure, but as they say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
This time, though, I immediately went to God in prayer. In my spirit, I groaned, why am I so easily offended? I want to flow in Your love, and an easily offended spirit isn’t there.
“It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured.” (1 Corinthians 13:5 AMP)
We know that “the love chapter” in 1st Corinthians tells us that love is not easily offended. The Greek word for “offended” is παροξύνω (pronounced paroxynō), and means easily provoked to anger, irritated, or offended.
So how does the Tanach (Old Testament) treat this idea?
Proverbs 17:9 is translated “He who covers an offense promotes love; But he who repeats a matter separates best friends.” However, the word used here is not “offense,” but “transgression.”
Proverbs 19:11 says this: “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger. It is his glory to overlook an offense.” Again, the word translated “offense” is “transgression.”
Only twice in the Tanach does the word מִכְשׁוֹל appear, meaning “offense.” The most well-known passage is in Isaiah 8:14, where the Messiah is called a “rock of offense.”
The same idea, “rock of offense” (σκάνδαλον), in the New Covenant is pronounced “skandalon” and is where we get the English word “scandal.” And what is this scandal? It is that Jews and Gentiles have equality in that they must both approach the Messiah in faith. Works won’t work, so to speak.
To the Jews, who for thousands of years thought that they would be accepted by God based on their own righteousness via their righteous deeds, being put on a par with “unrighteous Gentiles” insofar as their acceptability to God was indeed an offense!
So, to conclude, we should recognize that giving offense or receiving offense is a matter of great seriousness as it is seen as transgression. We can only by God’s grace walk in the kind of love that does not give or receive offense.
And together, we are all on the same footing. Let us not stumble over the truth.
“The LORD bless you and keep you: The LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you: The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 RSV)
To understand this very special blessing, for which God Himself chose the wording, we must look at the language it was written in. We must take on the mindset of the Ancient Hebrew people and see the meaning of the words from their viewpoint. And when we do, you will see that English doesn’t come even close to the magnificence of this amazing grace.
So from an Hebraic perspective, it would be better translated:
YHVH will kneel before you,* giving you gifts, and He will guard you, hedging you about with His protection. YHVH will illuminate you with the entirety of His being, bringing order where disorder was, and He will be your comfort and provide for all your needs.YHVH will lift up His wholeness of being upon you and He will set in place everything to make you whole and complete. * figuratively speaking
In our weekly Havdalah meeting, our Messianic congregation receives the Aaronic blessing as given by one of our pastors or our cantor/rabbi. This is allowed because Yeshua has made us a kingdom of priests and kings to His Father (Revelation 1:6). Therefore, not only can we receive the blessing, but as priests we can speak it over others as well.
“Moses said to the heads of the tribes of Israel: “This is what the Lord commands: When a man makes a vow to the Lord or takes an oath to obligate himself by a pledge, he must not break his word but must do everything he said.” Numbers 30:1-2
Today I asked my husband for a word to explore in Hebrew. His answer was, “integrity.” If I were to choose a word to sum up his character, integrity would fit the bill. So this one is for him.
According to Wikipedia, integrity is the basing of one’s actions on an internally consistent framework of principles.
Our Hebrew word is תוֹם. It is pronounced tome. In the Jewish mindset, integrity is linked to wholeness and perfection.
Rabbi Noah Weinberg posits the following: Imagine you’re successful, rich and famous. You’re on vacation with friends when suddenly terrorists burst into your room, hold a gun to your head and say: “Tell us where your friends are and we’ll release you safely. Otherwise we’ll kill you.”
What do you do?
In Jewish thought, there are three fundamental principles upon which the world stands. They are truth (emet in Hebrew), justice (tzedek) and peace (shalom).
The Talmud tells us: “The signature of the Holy one, blessed be He, is truth.” So together, the three great principles of Judaism come together to form integrity.
But what happens when we fail our integrity? We make a vow (or promise or commitment) to something or someone, but we don’t carry through. Real life interferes, and we fall short of what we had planned. God is very serious about vows, as the book of Numbers shows us.
Remember the story of the Isra’elites right after they’ve defeated Ai and destroyed the city? Some men from a neighboring tribe deceive Joshua and the elders by feigning having come from a foreign country and asking them to enter into a covenant so that the army of Isra’el won’t kill them. Of course, it turns out that although God had told Joshua not to make a covenant with the people who lived in the land, He nevertheless considers their vow made in His name to be valid. The “foreigners” end up as slaves to the Isra’elites (which for them is assuredly better than the death of their nation).
God expects total integrity in our walk. But He also knows our human frailty and forgives. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
Ancient thought about sheol (hell) was quite different from Western (Christian) thought, yet Yeshua was a Jew. What did He think?
sheol, underworld, grave, hell, pit
Sheol-the OT designation for the abode of the dead
place of no return
without praise of God
wicked sent there for punishment
righteous not abandoned to it
of the place of exile (fig)
of extreme degradation in sin
The word sheol, or שְׁאוֹל, in ancient thought meant the world where bad people, or all people, or maybe only some people went after they died. There were so many different thoughts on what happened when you died that you could write a whole book on that subject alone. It has been described as a deep, dark region, as a pit, and as “the Land of Forgetfulness.” Human beings after death, they thought, went to a netherworld called Sheol, cut off from God and man, but still “alive” in some shadowy existence. However, there is no judgment, whether reward or punishment there.
Pessimism was the rule of the day when it came to life after death. Most Jews were “here-and-now” focused and all people came to the same end.
After the destruction of the First Temple, however, the prophets began to speak with more hope about the future.
When the Second Temple was destroyed in 70AD, a theological crisis occurred. It was one thing to claim as the rabbis did—when the Lord’s sanctuary was destroyed and His people were scattered—mi–p’neihataeinu, “because of our sins” but it was very difficult to give reasons that good, pious, individual Jews should suffer also.
Rabbi Ya’akov said: This world is compared to an ante-chamber that leads to OlamHa–Ba, (the World-to-Come).” In fact, some rabbis taught that the righteous suffered in this world so that their reward in the next world would be that much greater.
So what did Yeshua teach about sheol?
In the Sermon on the Mount where Yeshua’s message was about love, He emphasized that those who were not more righteous than the Pharisees would never enter heaven (Matthew 5:20). He warned that unrepentant sinners would face the fires of sheol. At the end of His Sermon, the kingdom of God and the horrors of sheol are contrasted. Sheol is described as a place of destruction, where the broad road leads. Even professing to know the Messiah, if one continues in sin, won’t save you from sheol. Everyone who does not find the “narrow way” will end up in sheol. He compares the lives of the wicked to those who build their houses upon sand.
So, in essence, we know three things about sheol from the teaching of the first century Jews and from the Messiah Himself:
1. Sheol is the place for deserved punishment, comprises real suffering, and is eternal.
2. Sheol is the place of destruction, likened to death, second death, ruin, and loss.
3. Sheol is the place of banishment, where unbelievers actually realize what they are missing—their purpose in life and in life eternal: to love and glorify God.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” — Exodus 20:8-11
When God created all that exists, He did it in six days. Yet He didn’t finish until the end of the seventh day. Why was that? Because God wanted man to remember all that He had done and to rest on the seventh day. Imagine. God made man on the sixth day and the first thing He had him do was rest!
There are numerous reasons for the keeping the Sabbath holy (set apart and sanctified to God) and we benefit from every one of them. But to me, the most important one is because it is holy; God made it so.
The time we spend resting on the Sabbath rejuvenates us for the rest of the week. It’s similar to the tithe. God can do more with 90% of your income when you give the first 10% to Him first than you can do with 100% of your money. The Sabbath is time taken out of our 168 hours—24 hours set aside to receive a gift of time. The tithe given in joy to God reaps rewards, and the Sabbath kept with joy reaps rewards, too.
The Sabbath is meant to be a gift. It is not something that should make us chafe, impatiently waiting so that we can get back to what we’re about.
And speaking of that, there is a difference between work that is not allowed on the weekly Sabbath and work that is not allowed on the other Sabbaths and feasts days of the Lord. On the weekly Sabbath, we are to do no labor. That word in Hebrew is melakha (מְלָאכָה), which refers to all forms of human activity that is work.
The work not allowed on the feast days and other Sabbaths is called avodah (עֲבֹדָה), which means any work that is part of your normal labor. My pastor, who is Jewish, likes to mow his lawn on the Sabbath. It is relaxing to him, and he doesn’t do it during the other six days of the week.
Did you realize that most people who say they keep the Ten Commandments rarely remember the Sabbath? For some reason, modern man has simply cut the fourth commandment out. But really, a precious few also keep the first three commandments, either. If you’re not keeping the Sabbath, have you made an idol out of your work? Are you looking to “make a name for yourself” (a graven image)? Are you by not keeping the Sabbath yet calling yourself by His name taking the Lord’s name “in vain”? Leave me a comment and tell me what you think and why.
Our Hebrew word for today is קֹרְבָּן (korban), which occurs in the Bible with the following translations: offering (68x), oblation (12x), offered (1x), sacrifice (1x).
The korban was presented as a remedy for the guilt of sin. But sin itself has many different translations. It occurs 448 times in 389 verses in the KJV. Translated as trespass, it occurs 82 times in 73 verses. Transgression occurs 51 times in 50 verses, iniquity occurs 278 times in 262 verses.
Then there are offerings, קָרְבָּן. Although translated as a sacrificial present, there was an elaborate system of offerings to deal with sin in the Hebrew scriptures, but just one in the New Testament. That one, of course, was the ultimate sacrificial offering made by God Himself, in the person of Yeshua ben haElohim (Jesus the Son of God).
Let’s look first at the differences among the translations for sin.
The result of continuous, unrepentant sin is a reprobate mind. Here is how reprobate is defined:
a depraved, unprincipled, or wicked person: a drunken reprobate.
a person rejected by God and beyond hope of salvation.
morally depraved; unprincipled; bad.
rejected by God and beyond hope of salvation.
verb (used with object), rep·ro·bat·ed, rep·ro·bat·ing.
to disapprove, condemn, or censure.
(of God) to reject (a person), as for sin; exclude from the number of the elect or from salvation.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
Now let’s look at the different kinds of offerings.
Colossians 1:19– 20
In Him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of His cross.
Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All (Hebrews 10:1-10)
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason, it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God.’”a]
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
“And if the slave shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.”
What does it mean to be a slave? According to the Vocabulary.com dictionary, slavery is defined thus: Slavery is the brutal practice of forcing someone to work hard without paying them a fair wage, sometimes without paying them at all. That is a perfectly adequate definition for modern America, but it is far from the reality of slavery in ancient Israel. In fact, the rules and commandments about slaves goes all the way back to Moses, before the people ever crossed into the Promised Land.
As you can see from the definition of avad (above), it actually means doing work that another desires you to do. Moses had just delivered the people from slavery in Egypt; wouldn’t you think they wouldn’t want to subject others to what they just came from? Well, that’s why Moses told them about how they should treat slaves.
The system of slavery in ancient Israel is nothing like the definition from Vocabulary.com. In fact, the word avad was used for both servants and slaves. The difference between the two involved why they were working for their masters. People generally became household slaves because they owed money they could not pay. A thief might become a slave if he could not make restitution. A family who was very poor might sell their young daughter as a slave, but that was the purview of the father alone. The mother had no say in the matter.
In order for a Hebrew to become a slave for debt, a court would have to make an order. The only other way for this to happen was for the slave to voluntarily become a slave. And even then, the period of his slavery could not exceed 6 years.
Slaves were members of the master’s household. They were fed, clothed, often given education, and had all their needs met. The Sabbath applied to them, too, so one day a week they were not required to work. The males were circumcised and they all took part in God’s appointed festivals. If there was no heir (and sometimes if there were), a slave could inherit his master’s estate.
While they were living in the master’s household, the master only had limited rights over them. If the master mistreated them, they could be set free by the courts. And all slaves, no matter the reason for their slavery, were set free in the year of Jubilee. Anything that originally had belonged to the slave was returned to him at that point, including landholdings of his family.
If the master ignored the law and mistreated his slave and the slave ran away, others were to give him refuge, not return him to the wicked master.
After a slave was set free, he was not sent away empty-handed but was given gifts like a son leaving home.
“And when thou lettest him go free from thee, thou shalt not let him go empty; thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy threshing floor, and out of thy winepress; of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee.”
When a female was sold into slavery, the son of the master had to marry her. If he refused, she was set free. However, female slaves were only sold into slavery up to the age of 12, and only in the case of abject poverty. As soon as her father could afford to, she must be redeemed.
What about slaves who were not Hebrew? Alien slaves were rarely personal property. They became slaves through war and as such belonged to the king and not an individual. They were in servitude in perpetuity. “Ye may make them an inheritance for your children after you, to hold for a possession, of them ye may take your bondmen forever” (Lev. 25:46).
Today, slaves are sold, whether male or female, and with indifference to age, all over the world—except in Israel. They are forced to work for others and are often sold to other owners. The things considered “work” that they must do are often horrific. They are starved, beaten, raped, and made to work for long hours without pay and certainly never allowed a “Sabbath.” But one thing is true: human trafficking and slavery today is nothing like slavery in ancient Israel.
Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day were looking for a Messiah that would reward their supposed righteousness. They saw Jesus as a man who would eat with sinners, and that couldn’t be the Messiah they were expecting. They knew in their “holier than thou” thinking that God wouldn’t relate to someone who hadn’t cleaned up her life. But that’s not what Jesus said!
He showed a completely different paradigm of God’s love! He went to where the sinners were, eating and drinking with them before they changed their ways.
Unfortunately, the church today has acquired a superiority complex. Like the Pharisees, they believe they are holier than others. But are they holier than Christ?
When Christians develop loving relationships with unbelievers, they show themselves to be true disciples of Jesus. How about you? Are you critical of others, like the Pharisees, or do you wee the brokenness of the unbeliever prime real estate for God’s love?
What characterizes the Divine Love? Compassion! Not only compassion for lack of material things (although that also is good), but compassion for the lost sheep.
Have you ever “gone after the lost one,” even if it meant you had to for a time give up your fellowship with friends? Imagine how wonderful it is to hold out an invitation to dine with the Savior!