Hebrew Word of the Week: Torah

Hebrew Word of the Week: Torah

Word of the Week

Torah

 

Hebrew

If I’m following Messianic Judaism (or Hebrew Christianity), am I putting myself under the law?

תורָה

“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).”

What does it mean to “keep Torah”?

In the book of Galatians, the fifth chapter, Paul seems to be saying that “keeping Torah (the law)” puts you back under the law and that means you have fallen from grace. So does it follow that Messianic Jews and Christians who choose to keep the law have fallen from grace? Not at all.

The Bible records for us that all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), but many Christians today have forgotten some very important parts of Scripture—namely, the “instructions” of God, or in Hebrew, Torah. — Shema.com

But when people have the idea that “keeping Torah” means an obligation to follow the Mosiac law as a way of justification before God, they have indeed fallen from grace.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil (Matthew 5:17).”

Jesus Himself said that He did not come to abolish the law. The word “abolish” is the Greek word for “destroy or do away with”. The Greek word translated “fulfill” means to make complete (Matthew 5:17). So does that mean that “the law and the prophets” are done away with?

It’s interesting to me how today’s Christians are willing to toss God’s law out the window but follow prophecies to understand the times in which we live. Jesus coupled the law with the prophets. To say that He meant only the prophets that prophesied about Him is a weak argument at best, as those prophets combined messianic prophecies with other events as well. So did He only fulfill part of the prophets but all of the law?

What law did Jesus come to fulfill? Certainly not the Ten Commandments, which were the foundation of the Torah. Yet some will say they are good people because they keep the Ten Commandments. But do they? How many “remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy”?

In fact, Jesus came to bring a more stringent law when He came.

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matthew 5:27-28)
Of course, He absolutely did and for all time fulfill the demands of the law which required repayment for transgression. I owed a debt impossible for me to pay because to transgress the law in any point is to transgress the whole law. I am a sinner saved by grace. I owe my salvation to Yeshua’s completed work on the cross, where He unequivocally said, “It is finished.”
In light of that, how am I now to live?
I look back in the Old Testament at those first five books—the Torah—and I see instruction on how to live a long, healthy and happy life. No sacrifices are necessary to pay for transgressions, because Yeshua was the ultimate sacrifice. Yet His feasts and His Sabbaths were enjoined forever. They are God’s moedim (not the feasts of the Jews), His appointed times, which He established forever.

The law of justification by works was never supposed to achieve salvation. No one was ever able to keep the law perfectly—until the coming of the Messiah, Yeshua. Therefore, I must rely on and trust in His finished work alone for my salvation. And I do.

Romans 7:12 tells us that the law is holy. Why in the world would we do away with something holy? The law was designed to show us the holiness of God. Its purpose was to expose man’s sinfulness and the sinfulness of sin.

“because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).’

Sanctification comes by the grace of God. It means to be set apart and made holy. When I look into the mirror of the law, I see that my face is dirty. It shows me how unholy I am. Yet looking into the mirror does nothing to cleanse my face. Only God’s grace, provided through the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua, can do that.

Yet in my heart of hearts, the thing I want most to do is walk in a manner pleasing to God. This requires that I know what delights Him. Do I think that weaving patterns of the world into His holy things is pleasing to Him? Now that the Bible is completely written as our textbook for life, do I then act as I please, adopting the cares and concerns of the world but leaving out His will?

And what is His will? That we should live in the righteousness provided to us by His Son, our Savior.

The Torah was often compared to fire, water, wine, oil, milk, honey, drugs, manna, the tree of life, and many other things; it was considered the source of freedom, goodness, and life; it was identified both with wisdom and with love. – The Jewish Virtual Library

“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: Colossians 10:9-13).”

I love the Torah. It is God’s letter to His beloved children, written with the object of making them one with Him. I find fulfillment in keeping the Jewish feasts, the Sabbath, and in learning the language it was written in.

But not for one iota of a moment do I ever think that if I don’t keep the law I will suffer eternal damnation.

 

Yeshua took care of that for me.

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Are You The Real Thing?

Are You The Real Thing?

The Authentic Life

We covered communication with God in the first six weeks of this Bible study. Now we’ve moved on to learning to live an authentic life with a small group of other believers. But what does it mean to be authentic? Merrian Webster defines it this way:

  1. worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on facts
  2. conforming to an original, so as to reproduce essential features
  3. made or done the same way as an original
  4. not false or imitation; real, actual
  5. true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character

I especially like definition three. We are made in the image of God, so we ought to conform to His image in all its essential features as our humanity allows. Obviously, we are not omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), or omnipresent (everywhere at once). But we can be truthful, faithful, loving, charitable, compassionate, and strong in His might.

Authenticity in small groups is what will draw us together—and sometimes drive us apart. Each person is a unique expression of God. Where our beliefs, opinions, and personalities clash, we must learn to be humble and respectful. This is best accomplished in a small group setting.

Our memory verse today says:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective (James 5:16 NIV).”

When we are authentic, we want to make things right with those with whom we have relationships. That includes both friends and family members. If you have (intentionally or unintentionally) offended someone, go to that person, get eye to eye, and repent for your offense. True humility will deepen your relationship, and that’s what small groups are all about.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, that he came not with eloquent speech in an attempt to impress them with his own wisdom, but with the simplicity of the message of the Gospel.

Within our small groups are diverse gifts like pieces of a puzzle, as the Holy Spirit sees fit to give them. No one gift is better than any other, just as no part of your body is not needed. As part of Christ’s body, we are called to authentically be that part. I’d rather have an  

I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power (1 Corinthians 2:3-4 NIV).”

authentic heart than pretend to have one. Pretense cannot come through the storms that small groups will inevitably face. Encouraging each other to weather such storms builds character into our group that will empower us to help each other and those others that God brings across our path.

Giving to each other without authenticity is like giving counterfeit money. It may look real, but it has no power to purchase anything. Authentic love, then, shared with your small group, is indeed powerful. It taps into God’s resources and meets needs with solutions that are real.

This week, anytime you think, say or do something that is not who you truly are, take note of it. Ask God to change that aspect of your character that clings to false images of yourself. Instead, ask Him to let you see yourself through His perfect, revealing light.

 

Then share who you really are with your small group members.

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Resurrection of Jesus: What Is It All About?

Resurrection of Jesus: What Is It All About?

Was Jesus truly resurrected from the dead, and does it really matter?

The case for

Christ’s

resurrection is not based merely on an empty tomb.

Does Jesus’ resurrection—real or hoax—really matter?

“If Jesus has not been raised, then our faith is worthless; and we are to be pitied above all men (1 Corinthians 15:14).”

Some people really don’t think it matters whether or not Jesus was actually raised from the dead. They think that whatever actually happened back then, Jesus showed us a moral way to walk our lives out and we ought to follow Him as a teacher, if not as the Messiah.

The problem with that thinking is that if Jesus said He would rise from the grave after three days and then He did not do it, you can’t really call Him a “good teacher.” That’s because people who lie are called liars, not “good.” He made no pretense about who He was and what He came to do. He also made it very clear what is expected of His followers.

Either you believe all of what He said or you believe none of what He said. You can’t pick and choose. This is the One who claimed to BE GOD.

Christianity requires faith—but not blind faith.

blind faith

Photo courtesy of Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

There are those who have tried (unsuccessfully) to argue that although there is more than enough historical evidence to verify Jesus’ claim to have been resurrected from the dead, that He never really died. They subscribe to the “Swoon Theory” that says He never actually died, but swooned due to blood loss and shock. Incredible as it seems, they theorize thus:

 

Jesus never really died; He only appeared to die. In fact—they claim—He merely fainted from loss of blood and shock. When He was then removed from the cross, He was placed in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, one of the leading Jews.

Now here’s where it gets really interesting (and totally unbelievable).

Jesus revived due to the coolness of the tomb. (Current medical advice for someone suffering from shock is to keep them warm, not cool.) Despite the fact that He had lost enormous amounts of blood from the scourging, the crown of thorns, and the nails themselves, and despite the fact that He had no medical help (today, fluids and oxygen are given to the patient), He nonetheless revived on His own. Then He unwrapped the cloths that tightly bound Him (and which weighed in the area of 100 pounds due to spices in the burial cloth), neatly folded the cloth that covered His face, got up in total darkness and walked on nail-pierced feet to the tomb entrance. (Medical science tells us to loosen restrictive clothing on someone in shock to enable them to recover. Jesus’ burial clothes were tightly wrapped around His body, pinning His arms to His sides.)

There, even though He had collapsed on the way to the cross and someone else had to carry His cross for Him, He had revived enough to roll away a stone—from the inside!—and walk unnoticed past the guards. After that, He continued on those maimed feet to where His disciples were, appeared in a locked room, and announced to them that He had risen!

To roll the stone away would have not been possible for one man inside the tomb, anyway (unless he was God, which makes everything else moot anyway). The round stone would have been 4′ to 6′ in diameter to cover the entrance. It would have weighed between 2,000 lbs and 4,000 lbs. It took two men to roll it into place. Not only did they have the stone itself to grip, but tombs were hewn out of the rock with a groove that would slant downward as the stone was rolled into place. To remove the stone would require rolling it uphill. This, they posit, was accomplished by a severely dehydrated, severely wounded man with nothing to grip onto inside the tomb. And He did it with hands that had been pierced with 5″ nails. Even if you go with the theory that the nails pierced His wrists, how would that make it more likely?

And that was only the beginning of His post-resurrection appearances.

One thing that flies in the face of that theory is that medical science can show that those who are crucified die from a combination of hypovolemic shock, exhaustion asphyxia, and even acute heart failure. The soldiers stuck a spear in His side, and what came out was blood and water. Medical professionals today say that in most probability, what John saw was blood and the clear fluid that surrounded Jesus’ heart. The spear would have pierced both the lungs and the heart. Without modern medicine, no one would have survived this final assault on His body. (For a look at a documented case of survival after crucifixion, see Josephus’ description. It is not clear to exactly what he was referring when he cited crucifixion.)

Here are just a few of the scriptures that prophesy Jesus’ death and resurrection.

One thing that is irrefutable: neither Jesus nor His disciples could orchestrate the fulfillment of the over 100 prophecies that He did, indeed, fulfill, including the one that hundreds of years before crucifixion was invented said His hands and feet would be pierced !

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PROPHECY:

Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

FULFILLMENT:

John 1:10-11 says, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” 

PROPHECY:

Psalm 41:9 says, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”

FULFILLMENT:

Mark 14:10 says, “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them.” 

PROPHECY:

Zechariah 11:12 says, “I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.”

 

FULFILLMENT:

Matthew 26:14-16 says, “Then one of the Twelve – the one called Judas Iscariot – went to the chief priests and asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?’ So they counted out for him thirty silver coins.” 

PROPHECY:

Isaiah 53:7 says, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

FULFILLMENT:

Mark 15:5 says, “But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.” 

PROPHECY:

Psalm 22:1-2 says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.”

FULFILLMENT:

 Matthew 27:46 says, “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ – which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'” 

PROPHECY:

Psalm 22:7-8 says, “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.'”

FULFILLMENT:

Matthew 27:41-44 says, “In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, I am the Son of God.’ In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.” 

PROPHECY:

Psalm 22:15 says, “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.”

FULFILLMENT:

Matthew 27:48 says, “Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink.” 

PROPHECY:

Psalm 22:17-18 says, “I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”

FULFILLMENT:

John 19:23 says, “When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.”

Want more evidences in prophecy?

Here’s a more extensive list of prophecies that Jesus has already fulfilled. With the historical verity of these, you can rely on the rest of the Word of God to continue being true.

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How to Choose the Right Bible for You

How to Choose the Right Bible for You

How to choose the right Bible for you.

It seems to me that with the advent of global shopping online, the brick and mortar Christian bookstores where I worked and learned the difference between Bibles have gone the way of the dinosaur. Sure, there are loads of choices on the internet, many more, in fact, than any local bookstore or chain could carry. And it also seems like the sheer number of Bibles in new and exciting categories is growing by the day. So what do you do when you want a new Bible but aren’t sure where to turn? Well, for my friends, I have developed a method for you to weigh all the options available to you. Just click on the image to the right!

What’s the difference between not just translations, but types of Bibles? Is a Reference Bible better than a Study Bible? What qualifies as a Journaling Bible? And aren’t there specialty Bibles for just about every interest and need? Yes, there are, and what I’ve tried to do for you is put it all in a chart to help you make the choice that’s right for you.

But first, some definitions.

Concerning translations, there are actually 3 types you might come across. Verbal Equivalence Bibles (aka Formal Equivalence Bibles) means that the translators have opted to translate word for word. If it is strictly adhered to, it can make reading a bit awkward because there are no strict equivalent words for some Hebrew and Greek words.

The second type is Dynamic Equivalence (aka Functional Equivalence) Bibles. In this translation method, the translator has attempted to convey thought for thought instead of strict word for word. Neither one of these methods is fool-proof, but they are still remarkably accurate when compared to the original manuscripts.

The third type is a Paraphrase, which is not strictly a translation at all. This type takes the meaning of the Scriptures and tries to put it in simple, everyday language. Many people use a Paraphrase Bible for reading, but switch to an actual translation for studying.

More definitions

In addition to the different translations, there are different types of Bibles as well. The three most commonly read are the Study Bible, which includes study helps and commentaries to try to make the passages clearer; the Reference Bible, which has a column either in the center or along the edge that list other references to the same topic; and there is a growing demand for Journaling Bibles as more people embrace journaling in their Bibles instead of in a separate notebook. And then there are Specialty Bibles that include things like Men’s Bibles, Women’s or Kids’ Bibles, Bibles focusing on architecture, or the work of the Holy Spirit, or even just Topical Bibles.

I’ve tried to give you a good sampling of some of the most popular Bibles; obviously, this post would stretch on to eternity if I tried to cover them all.

I hope the resource is helpful for you the next time you decide to purchase a new one for yourself or as a gift for someone else. The most important thing to remember is that time spent in God’s word is edifying to your spirit and God actually says it is “food for the soul.” Remember, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4, KJV).

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Jesus' "Best Man"

Jesus' "Best Man"

jesusbestmantitleIN ANCIENT Jewish tradition, there was a specific order things were done. First, a covenant was made between the groom and the prospective bride’s father. Then the groom left the betrothed for an unspecified period of time, while he prepared a place for him and his bride to live. When it was ready was determined not by the groom but by his father. When all was ready, the father would tell the son, “Go and get your bride!”
Before Jesus was taken up to heaven, he told his disciples, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:3)
Now, an interesting thing happened when the place was ready. The bridegroom returned for his bride, often in the middle of the night when she was not expecting him. His best man came with him and announced the groom’s arrival with a blast of the trumpet and calling out to the bride. He would call her name and make her aware that the time was NOW!
What will happen when JESUS returns for His Bride, the Church? He will be accompanied by His best man, the archangel, Michael. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says “The Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trump of God.”
So who is this archangel? The only archangel spoken of in the Bible is Michael, and he has several duties. One such duty is to stand up for the people of Israel, as Daniel was told by An Angel when he met him on the riverbank in Babylon. He is the General of the Armies of God, and a mighty warrior. He is referred to by name three times in the Bible, and the last time is during the end times.
Here’s the thing. Since there is only one archangel, then it must be Michael who returns with Jesus to gather His bride unto Himself so that we may be where He is. What will Michael shout? Perhaps he will call us each by name, announcing that our Groom, our Lord, has returned for us. Will you be ready?