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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Hebrew Word of the Week: Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge

Hebrew Word of the Week: Wisdom, Understanding, and Knowledge

Word of the Week

Chokhma, binah, and da'at

 

Hebrew

Today’s Hebrew study is ַa collection of nouns that complete each other. They are useful together, but separately only render a part of the picture. They are chakh’mah, biynahand da’atTranslated, they mean wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. They look like this:

חָכְמָה, בִּינָה, דַעַת

“For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 1:7).”

Wisdom, understanding, and knowledge are like a car.

Chokhma is like a car. It provides the vocabulary of concept. As children, we learn what a car is by seeing a car, then seeing many cars, and eventually internalizing the concept so that a green Volvo and a red Toyota are both cars.

Binah is a driver. He is the one that determines where the car will go.

Only when they are brought together with da’at will the car actually go somewhere.

“The biblical concept of knowledge means joined together.” — Rabbi Immanuel Schochet 

In Jewish thought, the three aspects cannot be separated, lest one loses the application of them.

“Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them. Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honor you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown (Proverbs 4:5-9).”

This pathway that we walk starts with getting wisdom. We need a vocabulary to build upon so that we can move from concept to knowledge. This happens in three steps.

First, I learn the vocabulary. God’s word became flesh. I hear the words, Messiah, Christ, Anointed One, and I begin to wonder what they mean. If that’s the end, I have gained wisdom alone—there is a Messiah.

Second, I read about Who this Messiah is. I read the Old Testament and learn what the prophets say and then discover that a Man named Jesus (Yeshua) in the New Testament fulfilled the prophecies in the Old Testament.

Third, I join this wisdom and knowledge with my soul, and I receive the Messiah into my heart.

If I stop at any point before this final step, I am not saved. I have the wisdom of the concept, I understand the concept and that this Man is the promised Messiah. But it takes an act of my will to make Him the Savior of my soul, where my knowledge becomes internalized and effective.

So why do so few Jews embrace their Messiah? Romans 11:25 answers that for us. It is so that Gentiles might also inherit the promises and salvation of God. We have become grafted into the root, and not the other way around.

“And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).”

Jesus knows (is joined to) me, this I love.

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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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Hebrew Word of the Week

Hebrew Word of the Week

Word of the Week

Nevuah

Hebrew

Today’s Hebrew word of the week comes from 2nd Chronicles 15:8. It looks like this:

נְבוּאָה

and it means prophecy.

“And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD.”

A prophet (נָבִיא) is a person who receives a message (nĕ•vu•ah) from God to give to another.

The King James Bible uses this word only 3 times in the Tanach (Old Testament). It is a word that means a written or spoken prediction. In the other two scriptures, 2 Chronicles 9:29 and Nehemiah 6:12. In the passage in Nehemiah, it is referring to a false prophecy.

“The principle that “G‑d communicates to mankind through prophecy” remains a foundation of the Jewish faith.” — Mendy Hecht

And in a letter to the Jews of Yemen, Maimonides recounts an age-old tradition that “shortly before the messianic era, prophecy will return to the Jewish people.”

When I began the research for this word, I was surprised that with all the prophets (נְבִיאִים) in the Old Testament, surely there must be more references to prophecy. One-hundred eleven times people are commanded to prophesy (נָבָא), and you can see the root letters in the verb prophesy also in the noun derived from it, prophecy (נְבוּאָה).

Jews believe that prophecy is for making course corrections in Jewish society or in society at large. They also see prophecy when it is predictive as God communicating to His people to encourage them or to warn them of judgment if they do not mend their ways. When a prophet gives a message that is not in the Torah, they consider it a “one time only” instruction from God. A prophecy can never annul a law or add one.

In Jewish thought, one can make oneself a prophet. The criteria are these:

• one must be wise

• of a clear and lucid mind

• of impeccable character

• utterly in control of one’s passions and desires

• of a calm and joyous constitution

• one must shun materiality and the frivolities of life

• devoting oneself entirely to knowing and serving God.

But lest we think that we can make ourselves receive prophecy, the Jewish mind does not regard making oneself worthy of prophecy equal to receiving prophecy.

 

Indeed, that is the purvue of God and God alone.

Some will fall by the edge of the sword, others will be carried into all the countries of the Goyim (nations), and Yerushalayim will be trampled down by the Goyim until the age of the Goyim has run its course (Luke 21:24 CJB).”

“I do not want you, believers, to be unaware of this mystery [God’s previously hidden plan]—so that you will not be wise in your own opinion—that a partial hardening has [temporarily] happened to Israel [to last] until the full number of the Gentiles has come in (Romans 11:25 AMP).”

One day, the remnant of the Jews that survive the coming day of God’s wrath will say Baruch haba!

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Hebrew Word of the Week: Lekh Lekha

Hebrew Word of the Week: Lekh Lekha

Word of the Week

Lekh lekha

Hebrew

This week in Hebrew WOW we are going to learn about an expression that means “go to you.”

לֵך לְךָ 

לֵך לָךְ 

The top word is the way it is spoken to a male, and the bottom to a female. They are pronounced, respectively, like this:

לֵך לְךָ lekh lekha

לֵך לָךְ lekh lakh

Don’t forget that the “kh” sounds like the end of the word “Bach.”

But what does “go to you” actually mean?

As believers in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah), we recognize that God has a perfect plan for our lives. The Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) has gifted each of us in some way (or several ways)  to edify, encourage, and exhort the church, first to the Jew and also to the Gentile.

While there are many “find your spiritual gifts” webinars, books, and blog posts out there, ultimately the Holy Spirit Himself is the best revealer of what our giftings are. Although I have availed myself of some of those spiritual gifts assessment tools on occasion, I really believe that those giftings will become evident if God takes the preeminent position in our lives. (Nevertheless, if you are interested, I have listed at the end of this article a couple of places where you can research your own gifts.)

You have probably studied the attributes of God. Attributes like “faithfulness” does not mean that God shows faithfulness, but that He embodies it. It is who He is, not what He does. Well, since we are created in His image, there are attributes we have that personify who we are in Him.

In modern-day America, when meeting someone for the first time, we might ask, “And what do you do?” We are actually asking about how they define themselves. And we are accustomed to defining people according to their vocations. People are generally most happy when working in the field that makes use of their spiritual gifts and without (perhaps) knowing exactly why, they tend to identify themselves with what they do for a living. Others chafe under the collar with frustration or anger at the work they do that doesn’t allow them to reveal their giftings. It is written on our hearts, and our souls long to be whom God has created us to be.

To ask a Jew what they do, you are asking what kind of actions he takes in day-to-day life. That is because Judaism accentuates action above faith. (Christians are more concerned about faith than action. God is concerned with both, but belief in His Son is paramount.) In all 613 laws found in Judaism, the only one that might be seen as exhorting faith is in the Shema:

Hear, O Israel! The Lord thy God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).”

Yet even in that, the greatest prayer in Judaism, it is actually more of an  acknowledgement that God demands that they do something: love Him. As we have studied before, love is an action, not a feeling.

So let’s tie these two concepts together to understand what lekh lekha means. How exactly do you “go to you”? The answer is a simple one: you are to do the thing for which the Holy Spirit has gifted you. You are to be fully who you are called to be.

There’s a reason we’re called human beings and not human doings. And it’s all wrapped up in this one scripture: So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27).”

We each have a part of the incredible attributes of God, because He made us so. And then He gifted us with certain gifts to enable us to become the attributes of God, to live passionately before Him, and to have faith in His will for each of us.

So now, my friend—lekh lakh (lekh lekha for men): Go forth and be the very best you that God created you to be!

Here are just two of many, many places to assess your spiritual gifts. I have included these because they vastly differed in what they say my gifts are. It’s all in the phrasing of their questions!

https://gifts.churchgrowth.org/ – I found this one to be extremely accurate.

https://spiritualgiftstest.com/ – I felt that this one did not accurately describe my gifts as well.

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Hebrew Word of the Week: B’rachach

Hebrew Word of the Week: B’rachach

Word of the Week

B'rachah

Hebrew

What does it mean when the Bible says that God blessed someone? That word is בְּרַכָה, pronounced b’ra-chah.

“Zachar vun’kevah b’ra’am vayevarekh atem vayikra et shemam adam beyom hibaram — Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created (Genesis 5:2).”

B’rachah means blessing.

But what does blessing mean? In most places in the Hebrew Bible (the Tanach), blessed means to kneel in adoration before God, or to receive a benefit from God.

In the 1st chapter in Genesis, on the sixth day of Creation, God ascribed a blessing to Adam and Eve, charging them with being fruitful and stewarding His creation. They were recipients of a blessing from God that was to be poured out on the work of God’s hands.

In a religious context, “to bless” is commonly defined as bestowing divine assistance, favor, or power on someone. Thus, “blessing presupposes a benefactor [God, who grants the blessing] and a recipient, and not infrequently there is a mediator who pronounces or confers the prospect of blessing from God to a human recipient.” In ancient Israel, this “mediator” who verbalized “the prospect of blessing” was most often a prophet or priest. Dana M. Pike, “’I Will Bless the LORD at All Times’: Blessing God in the Old Testament.”

God has bestowed blessing on all of His creation in a general dispensation of His grace. Yet, in some instances, He gave special blessings to certain people.

An interesting aspect of this is that when God blessed certain people, He gave them the authority to bless others.

Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him.  And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.” So He called his name Israel.  Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land (Genesis 35:9-12 NKJV).”

God Almighty also declared to Abraham “Veheyei berachah–You will be a blessing.” Because of that, Abraham was allowed the Divine right to bless whomever he wished. Through him, the world now had a model of how people were to bless each other.

“And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east (Genesis 25:5-6).”

When Abraham gave Isaac “all that he possessed,” it wasn’t simply his material wealth that he transferred to his son. He also passed on his spiritual wealth, in fact, the very essence of who he was became Isaac’s possession. Abraham’s world view, his personality, even his own demeanor, he bequeathed entirely to Isaac. Of immensely more value than his cattle, sheep, and other material riches, Abraham gave Isaac the most valuable thing anyone can give to anyone else. And then he gave Isaac the right to bless others as he willed.

The blessing—b’racach of God—means that each believer is privileged to receive God’s favor and thus become himself an extension of God’s grace.

 

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