Hebrew Word of the Week: Hallal

Hebrew Word of the Week: Hallal

Word of the Week

Hallal

Hebrew

Sing praise! Today’s Hebrew word is where we get the English word hallelujah, and it means “praise.”

הָלַל

“Sing praises to God, sing praises: sing praises unto our King, sing praises (Psalm 47:6).”

We think of the angels singing praises in the night sky when Yeshua was born. Hallal means praise—but it also means light!

הלל is a root word that has several meanings. It expresses what lamps and celestial bodies do: shine, radiate light. Although it is a rarely used verb in the Bible, it denotes intensive action. It’s the word used to define the light that “flashes forth” from the sneezes of Leviathan in Job. Isaiah speaks of the “shining one” as he describes Satan’s fall in Isaiah 14:12. There it is a noun derived from the verb and is pronounced helel.

When the meaning is praise, it has three forms.

The masculine noun הליל (hillul), meaning praise or a rejoicing. It occurs only in plural: הלולים (hillulim), literally meaning congratulations or rejoicings (Judges 9:27, Leviticus 19:24).

The masculine noun מהלל (mahalel), again meaning praise but literally a “container” for praise. It occurs only in Proverbs 27:21 where silver and gold are tested in a crucible and a furnace, and a man in his “container for” praise.

The feminine noun תהלה (tehilla), meaning praise, song of praise or thanksgiving or adoration, or it denotes praiseworthy deeds. This noun occurs all over the Bible. HAW condenses the meaning of this beautiful noun as, “the results of halal as well as the divine acts which merit that activity”.

Hallelujah is a combination of two words, hallel meaning praise, and the shortened two-letter version of the name of God. For this reason, some Jews won’t pronounce the word except when reciting a prayer or a biblical verse, but will say hallelukah instead, rather than utter one of God’s names in a profane (common) context.

“This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled. But there are moments when we can… reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah.'” — Leonard Cohen

“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, you his servants; praise the name of the Lord. Let the name of the Lord be praised, both now and forevermore. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised (Psalm 113:1-3).”

In 1741, the great musician George Frideric Handel composed the oratorio “Messiah,” that includes the compelling “Hallelujah Chorus.” It remains today one of the most famous religious musical works ever written. The text was written by Charles Jennens from the King James Bible and its focus was on the

Messiahship of Yeshua. It is, perhaps, the most moving use of the term hallelujah in modern history.

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: “Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready (Revelation 19:6-7).”

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What Hinders Prayer

What Hinders Prayer

What Hinders Prayer

God has made it possible for us to enter the Holy of Holies through the atoning blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. At the moment of His death, the veil that separated man from God’s most holy place was rent in two, from the top to the bottom. In other words, the Way was opened from the top, where God is, to the bottom, where man is. That’s significant.

When Esther wanted to see the king—her own husband—she could not just enter the throne room. To do so without the king’s summons could mean death. But if he held out his scepter, it meant she had found favor with him and could enter the throne room. It is significant that God is both husband and king (Isaiah 54:5). He invites us into His presence.

The Amplified Bible shows more fully the great privilege we enjoy in approaching the throne of grace.

Hebrews 4:16 reads: “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (NIV).”

[bctt tweet=”At the moment of Jesus’ death, the veil that separated man from God’s most holy place was rent in two, from the top to the bottom.” username=”suzi59344978″]

“Therefore let us [with privilege] approach the throne of grace [that is, the throne of God’s gracious favor] with confidence and without fear, so that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find [His amazing] grace to help in time of need [an appropriate blessing, coming just at the right moment] (Hebrews 4:16 AMP).”

There are, however, some things that can hinder our prayers to our gracious Father.

1. Ephesians 4:26-27 shows us that we can give the devil a foothold, The Greek word topos means foothold and indicates a room or a place. We can’t expect to waltz into the throne of grace dragging a demon!

2. We give the devil a foothold when we have unconfessed pride, rebellion, deception, sexual impurity, and any other ungodly thing in which we participate.

3. Sometimes, we think so highly of ourselves that we try to usurp Jesus’ place as Savior and the Holy Spirit’s place as Counselor. We don’t trust the Holy Spirit in others but expect them to trust Him in us, ourselves.

[bctt tweet=”Sometimes we try to usurp Jesus’ place as Savior and the Holy Spirit’s place as Counselor. ” via=”no”]

4. Mark is very clear in his Gospel that forgiveness is necessary to an ongoing, deep relationship with God (Mark 11:25). We cannot expect God to listen to our pleas for help when we ignore the needs others have for our forgiveness.

5. Unconfessed sin of any kind will disrupt our intimate relationship with our Father.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV).”

The “race set before us” requires faith, stamina, commitment, and discipline. What athlete thinks he can win a contest without those four things.

The race’s parameters are set by God. They are encompassed in the meaning of the word holiness.

The Hebrew word kadosh (קָדוֹשׁ) doesn’t mean individual righteousness. Instead it indicates something set apart for a particular purpose, one of God’s choosing. If we desire that our prayers remain unhindered, we must remain “set apart” from the world. “Holy” is the exact opposite of “common.”

The cloud of witnesses are those who have already finished the race and have left behind a pattern for us to follow. If we follow their lead, we are sure to finish well.

Habitual sin will hold you in bondage. So how do you know if you are in habitual sin? Here are some clues.

You feel hopeless. You “did it again” even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t.

You see yourself as worthless.

You believe the lies the enemy is feeding you.

You feel like giving up.

You spend less time with God.

You feel ashamed and keep it to yourself.

Your sin is always on your mind and you feel helpless to overcome it.

It is interesting to me that Hebrews 12:1-2 says “the sin” and not “sins.” So what sin is this referring to? It is always the same sin that so easily entangles us. And that is thinking that Jesus’ blood was not sufficient for our lives. Yet we know that 2 Peter 1:3 tells us that we have everything we need.

When all is said and done, only pride will hinder your prayers. Because pride keeps you from coming humbly to God when sin has run roughshod over you and left you weeping once again. God told Cain that sin crouched at his door (Genesis 4:7), but the only thing we need to overcome sin in our lives, habitual or not, is reliance on Jesus.

“”For His divine power has bestowed on us [absolutely] everything necessary for [a dynamic spiritual] life and godliness, through true and personal knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3 AMP).”

You can do this. You can close the door Satan and not let crouching sin enter. The solution to the problem (hindered prayers) is contained in the problem. More prayer, unencumbered by sin!

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Taming Dragons: The Crisis of Compromise Part 2

Taming Dragons: The Crisis of Compromise Part 2

Continued from last week.

So far, I’ve used objects that have no volition of their own. Obviously, neither a flame nor a sheet of paper has the ability to want companionship. Nor do bacteria have a conscious desire to do us harm. However, the enemies of our souls—led and empowered by Satan—do have volition. And it’s that volition that causes the decay in our spiritual life, and which can have repercussions for our physical existence. According to 1 Peter 5:8, our enemy is prowling around like a lion, looking for someone to devour.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).”

Our battle, then, is not against material, unconscious enemies against which we can affect a defeat and expect it to remain defeated. It is more akin to standing in a nest of vipers and thinking that killing one will render the others harmless. Not so; this enemy of ours wants to destroy our souls (Ephesians 6:12)!

Photo courtesy of Jean Wimmerlin on Unsplash

Let’s look now at how the Bible portrays Satan.

  •   He is a created being; thus we know that he is not equal to God.

“You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you” (Ezekiel 28:15).

  •   God will use even Satan, to His purpose.

“The Lord works out everything for His own ends—even the wicked for the day of disaster” (Proverbs 16:4).

  •   Satan defies God and is incapable of truth.

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

  •   God grants Satan limited power.  Although we may not understand why, we do know that Satan can attack even the elect.

“Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’

‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’

“The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’ Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD” (Job 1:8-12).

  •   If there’s one thing that the dragon does not want you to know, it is that he was defeated at the cross.

“That power is like the working of His mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be the head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:20-23).

  •   Satan is always seeking an opportune time to tempt us.

“When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13).

  •   The dragon has but one purpose.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full”  (John 10:10).

  •   To that end, Satan will twist anything, including God’s very word, to achieve his own ends.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’

The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”’

“‘You will not surely die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Genesis 3:1-5).

 

[bctt tweet=”When we actively listen to the lies of the enemy, we are in essence denying that we know God. — Susannah Wollman” username=”suziwollman”]

 

  •   Satan is the ruler of those who are separated from Christ.

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

  •   He also rules a hierarchy of demons.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12).

I’ve heard people calling Satan a “toothless lion.” I’ve sung songs that flippantly tell Satan to “sit on a tack.” I’ve not believed what the Word of God tells me about this dragon, for if I did, I would have been more sober about our very worthy adversary. Yet, God does not laugh at Satan’s activity, as though it were some freak show. He is not amused when we do not heed His warnings, and unless we wake up and begin to fight the good fight, our own dragon will swallow us whole while those who watch laugh and marvel.

We have but little chance—in fact, none at all—in defeating the devil, unless we heed the word spoken to us through James and John.

Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:7-10, emphasis mine).

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death” (Revelation 12:11, emphasis mine).

Next week we’ll look at The Song of Dragons.

Until then, press in to God. His peace belongs to His children!

Taming Dragons: The Crisis of Compromise Part 2

The Nature of Compromise—Taming Dragons Series Part 1

About the Series

I firmly believe that Jesus is returning soon. All I have to do is look around and see the actualization of what Paul warned us about in 1 Thessalonians 2:3 that says, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first.” Look up with hope, for He has promised us:  “when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

The Nature of Dragons

When I was a child, I would watch “Our Gang” with great delight. Those of you who are too young to have seen the TV show can still relate to the scene I describe. Two little boys are sitting in a wagon to which they have harnessed a pet goat. Ingenious as these little guys are, they have rigged a long pole to dangle a carrot in front of the goat. When they lower the carrot, the goat goes forward, always and forever to be deprived of his reward. To stop, all they need do is just raise the carrot above the goat’s eye level and—out of sight, out of mind—the animal immediately stops. We tend to think stupid goat, until we realize that we who have considered ourselves sheep sometimes look an awful lot like the goat. Why is that?

Dragons dangle carrots, too.

The chief Dragon has spent millennia studying the behavior of human beings. And it’s his long study that enables him to hitch us to a wagon. Then, without even realizing it, we are following after a goal we never intended to pursue, and our minds are so caught up in it that we don’t even recognize the motivation that drives us. And, beloved, you are no different than the rest of us!

Let’s look at the nature of the dragon. First, it is ever and always a liar (we’ll get to that in Chapter Four). Then, it is corrupt through and through. The nature of the dragon is such that camouflage is, as it were, the skin in which it lives. These things are important to know if we hope to avoid entrapment.

 

John the beloved disciple gives us perhaps the most vivid description. “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be  set free for a short time” (Revelation 20:2-3, emphasis mine). According to John’s vision, all doubt about the dragon’s identity is removed. And his purpose—to deceive the nations—is also plainly revealed. Deception may well be the most significant aspect of the dragon’s nature. His first encounter with man was to lie about God, and this is still his modus operandi today.
Few would argue with me when I say that our nation is in a downward moral swing. Click To Tweet We have churches today that cater to the itching ears of people all over the country. This is a prophesied event linked to the end times. 2 Timothy 4:3 says: “For the time will come when 
men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear” (emphasis mine).

There is a movement among the churches called ecumenism, which is to bring all religions together so that all may worship together. The problems with that are legion, and many books have been written on the subject. Suffice it to say that there can be no coming together because there is only one God, the God of Christ, who is Christ Himself. All other so-called gods are false, lies from the pit of hell, and what fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? Or how can dark remain with light (2 Corinthians 6:14)?

Marriage has been redefined to include same-sex couples, denying that the reason for marriage is not so that the world will recognize the union of two people, but that children might be holy (1 Corinthians 7:14). God established the order in Genesis, saying “For this reason shall a man leave his mother and a woman her home, and the two shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, emphasis mine).

Things which are evil are called good, and things which are good are called evil (Isaiah 5:20). The Ten Commandments are removed from public view, Bible reading in public is not tolerated (not to mention speaking the name of Christ), and children are taught the fundamentals of Islam in so-called world religion classes while Christianity is minimized or eliminated altogether, despite its importance in the development of the West.

America did not slide into moral decay all at once, just as tooth decay happens slowly, over time. Did you know that sugar doesn’t cause decay in your teeth? Well, actually, that might be splitting hairs. [bctt tweet=”The human mouth is filled with microorganisms; so filled, in fact, that they outnumber the billions of people on the earth.” username=”suziwollman”]

Since bacteria are organisms just like we are, they consume “food” and excrete  “waste.” (Yes, I know that the analogy is disgusting; nevertheless, stick with me here.)

Tooth decay is more properly called demineralization. When acid (the waste the bacteria form) is allowed to remain on the teeth, a “hole” in the wall of the enamel begins to form. Immediately. Although we can’t actually sterilize our mouths, we can resist the decay process by not allowing the bacteria to form colonies. Limiting the amount of time that sugars remain in our mouths and cleaning promptly and thoroughly after consuming sugars and starches can keep the bacteria from doing their work.

Lesser Poland St. Catherine of Siena

Here’s how this analogy relates to our study of compromise. You can easily see that if you could eliminate all traces of sugars and starches you consume, bacteria—although they would still be present—would have minimal impact on your teeth. Demonic spirits, like bacteria, live with us and will have greater or lesser impact on our lives depending on how we choose to combat them. (Please notice that I did not say they live in you. I believe that if we could actually see the demons at work around us, we would have a bad time of it not to panic. You may have seen movies where the demons [or gargoyles, or whatever] are visible 
and the panic that ensues!) This is, of course, an oversimplification of the problem, but it will suffice for our purposes.
I’ve often used the nature of objects to explain holiness. If you hold a piece of paper over a burning flame, the flame will consume the paper. Why is that? Because it is the nature of paper and fire to behave this way. Even if the flame and the paper “wanted” to be together, it would not be possible without changing the nature of one or the other. God is said to be a 

Photo courtesy of Antony Xia on Unsplash

consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). He is holy; we are unholy (until we belong to Christ). Uncovered as we are without Christ, we could not enter the Holy of Holies, where God dwells, without being utterly consumed, because holiness consumes unholiness. Holiness is an absolute, and thus cannot change. However, our fallen nature can be changed if we allow the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin (that which makes us unholy), and ask God to make Jesus’ righteousness our own. At the moment of conversion, we die to our old nature and are reborn with a whole new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). Something very real takes place here, not something symbolic. For the holiness of God is a very real thing, and if the salvation experience were only symbolic, we would still be consumed in God’s presence. Symbolic salvation would have little value for eternity.

Continued next week…

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Binding and Loosing from a Messianic Perspective

Binding and Loosing from a Messianic Perspective

Photo courtesy of Diego on Unsplash

Authority of Binding and Loosing

The church for years (since 1960) has embraced the Charismatic movement which was begun officially by “Father” Dennis Bennett of St. Mark’s Episcopal parish in Van Nuys, California. Included in this revival movement were the gifts of the Holy Spirit as enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12:8-11. These nine gifts are: wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecies, discernment of spirits, speaking in tongues, and interpretation of tongues. None of them includes “binding and loosing.”

So what did Jesus mean when He told His disciples that they would have the power to bind and loose?

“Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matthew 18:18 NIV).”

For many in the church today and stemming back to 1960, it referred to power over spiritual activity here on earth and in heaven.

Jesus did say that the demons were subject to His disciples in His name, as evidenced in this scripture.

Luke 10:17 says: The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

Notice two things about this scripture. First, it applied to seventy two disciples sent out, not just to the twelve in His inner circle. What He gave to them, He also has given to us.

Second, the demons were subject in Jesus’ name, NOT in any power the disciples had. This is a privilege of true believers who carry the Spirit of God in their hearts. Remember what happened when an unbeliever tried to use Jesus’ name to cast out demons?

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. But the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?’ And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded (Acts 19:13-16 NIV).”

Casting demons out of people is something that every believer should be able to do in Jesus’ name. It is only His name that the demons respect, not the words we speak from our own thoughts or even our hearts. Remember that even Michael the archangel did not accuse Satan directly.

Jude 1:9 tells us:“But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”

So is that what Jesus meant?

Were we to bind and loose spirits on earth and in heaven?

If you take a Scripture in context, you have to look at who’s speaking, who’s being spoken to, how they would have understood the words spoken, and in what setting all this speaking happened.

Remembering that this was a Jewish Messiah speaking to Jewish disciples, it makes the most sense to look at it from a Jewish perspective, does it not?

In the context of teaching His disciples, this scripture is not talking about authority to bind and loose evil spirits. Why on earth would they ever loose an evil spirit? Or for what reason would an angel be bound?

Jesus was discussing the sin in the church right before this verse.

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector (Matthew 18:15-17 NIV).”

Photo courtesy of Blake Campbell on Unsplash

At the time, rabbis decided issues of Jewish law. The power vested in them through the Torah allowed them to “bind” or “loose” a specific action. The Hebrew word לֶאֱסוֹר (translated bind) means to forbid, and מוּתָר (translated loose) means to permit. These terms in the original Greek are translated the same way, with δήσητε (you shall bind) meaning to obligate, compel or bind and λύσητε (you shall loose) meaning to free, unchain, release, or loose. These were legal terms that the Hebrew disciples would have fully understood. These kinds of “bindings” and “loosings” show up thousands of times in the Jewish scriptures and rabbinic writings. The 

passage below illustrates exactly what Jesus was describing.

“If one sage declared something as bound, he should not ask another sage who might declare it loosed. If two sages are both present and one rules something unclean and the other rules it clean, if one binds and the other looses, then if one of them is superior to the other in learning and number of disciples, follow his ruling, otherwise, follow the stricter view. (b.Avodah Zarah 7a).”

That was then. But Jesus uses the future tense when He says whatever they bind on earth will be bound on heaven, and whatever they loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

So what was He talking about, exactly?

Jesus was referring to the era when He will reign on earth as Elohim, HaMelech (God the King) and He will at that time give the keys of the Kingdom to His twelve disciples along with the authority to bind and loose. In other words, they will rule with Him.

“Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28 NIV).”

But His words also had an immediate context as well, as did most of what Jesus taught. In the time of the Apostles, they had the authority to make decisions as judges concerning judicial matters of the newborn church. Following Jesus’ teaching, they used their authority whenever and wherever it was needed.

“But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.” Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard (Acts 4:17-20 NIV).”

The Apostles also exercised that authority when some Jews were telling the Gentiles that they had to follow the Mosaic Law and  be circumcised. They “loosed” them from the yoke of the whole Torah even though it continued to apply to unsaved Jews. Nevertheless, they “bound” them in certain restrictions.

“The apostles and elders, your brothers, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syria and Cilicia: Greetings. We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said. So we all agreed to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul— men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing.  It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements:  You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell (Acts 15:23-29 NIV).”

So were they abolishing the law?

Absolutely not. This binding and loosing did not extend to nullifying the commands God had spoken, nor did it authorize them to make new commandments. Jews were still bound to the laws as God had given them, until they became believers in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah). Even after coming to faith, Jewish believers in Messiah continued following the Torah commandments.

Do some Messianic Jews today observe the old law?

Once again, you need a Jewish perspective on the law. The Torah was not given as a burden. It is a cherished gift from God that shows Jews how to live a life pleasing to God.  Of course, the law also provides punishment for disobedience. So when a Jewish believer in Christ celebrates the Feasts or rests on the Sabbath, he does not think he is garnering favor with God. He knows he is already beloved of God. Instead, he is worshipping God with his entire life.

“So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous and good (Romans 7:12 NIV).”

Since Paul recognized that the law was good, we should understand that we are not bound by the law of the Torah so that it is a burden, but in thankfulness for the immense gift bestowed upon us by a gracious God, we are loosed to delight in the law and celebrate the Torah and God’s appointed times, whether you are Jew or Gentile!

Photo courtesy of Amos Bar-Zeev on Unsplash

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