July 2007 Updates
07.31.07 Warfare.... I updated the weekly parashah for this coming week (Eikev) and created a new PDF file for you to download. I hope you will find it helpful in better understanding the Scriptures, chaverim.
This important parashah includes the second (of three) portions of the Shema (called the Vehayah). These words, reiterating the connection between Israel's devotion to the LORD and their blessing as God's chosen people, are recited twice a day by Orthodox Jews all over the world.
Tu B'Av - The 15th of Av
07.30.07 Happy Tu B'Av to everyone! Since Biblical times the 15th of Av has been celebrated as a holiday of love and affection, and in modern Israel it is celebrated as a sort of "Valentine's Day" (though it is a much older and sober holiday that St. Valentine's Day).
Since it falls on the 15th of the month, Tu B'Av is a night of the full moon. The 9th of Av (Tishah B'Av) recalled the history of Jewish tragedy, but the full moon of Av represents the transformation of tragedy into joy. Indeed, as the "last" festival of the Jewish year, Tu B'Av prophetically pictures our marriage to the Lamb of God (Seh Elohim), the LORD Yeshua our beloved Mashiach!
New Hebrew Meditation
07.30.07 I wrote a new Hebrew meditation (called the Comfort of Hope) based on Isaiah 40:31a, "they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength." This favorite verse includes great promises for koach (strength) to those who put their trust in the LORD God of Israel. I hope you will find it strengthening to your faith, chaverim...
Note: I am still without a computer at home and am waiting for the new box to come in from Dell. Your prayers are most appreciated! Thank you to many of you who wrote to wish me well....
07.27.07 Last night my home PC delivered the dreaded "blue screen of death" message - meaning that it was inoperable.
After trying a bunch of things (I won't bore you with the details), I was forced to reinstall the operating system. Tragically, the new installation DELETED a lot of my saved data, including all my pictures of our family over the last 2 years... In order to recover them now, I'd have to use a data recovery service that would cost me well over $1000!
I contacted Dell Outlet today and ordered a new computer box to replace the one that crashed. Hopefully it will come soon (to save money, I didn't expedite shipping from Dell). Meanwhile, I have NO computer at home, so my weekly Torah portion will be late.
Of most concern to me, apart from the time and energy to get the new computer up and running (i.e., reinstalling all my applications, getting my email, FTP, and internet to work, etc), is the loss of FILES from the other PC. I have backed up many things for this site to CD, but I have lost fonts, artwork I've done, sound files, etc. etc. It's going to be difficult looking for what's NOT there, if you know what I mean....
Please pray for this ministry and that I am able to recover what has been lost. Olga is quite upset about all the pictures we've lost... She said it feels like a fire burned our house down (chas v'shalom). Anyway, your prayers are appreciated.
Tetelestai! - It is Finished!
07.26.07 Just before Yeshua died, he said something of breathtaking importance. An eyewitness to his crucifixion wrote, "When he had received the drink, Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit" (John 19:30; Matt. 27:50). In Koine Greek, this final statement is a single word consisting of ten letters: tetelestai!
Tetelestai means "It is finished, it stands finished, and it always will be finished!" It comes from the word telos, meaning a goal or purpose (teleology is the study of the purpose of something). Telos is the word Paul used when he wrote: "For Messiah is the end of the law (telos nomou) for righteousness to everyone who believes" (Rom 10:4).
Tetelestai was the cry of victory to the Father. "I have finished the work you gave me to do." What was that work? To establish the new covenant (brit chadasha) between God and man by offering up His life as the atoning sacrifice for humanity's sins (Heb. 1:3, 10:12). Yeshua was the only Tzaddik who ever completely walked out the truth of Torah. He expressed its inner meaning perfectly and embodied its truth in full. The Akedah of Yeshua (i.e., His crucifixion at Moriah) was the altar where the justice and chesed (love) of the Father fully met. If God were not just, Yeshua did not need to die; and if God were not loving, He would not have given up His Son as a ransom for our sin. Justice and mercy kiss.
The Torah (i.e., law) is holy, just and good (Rom. 7:12), but those seeking righteousness based on it's demands will discover the tragic fact that it is powerless to impart righteousness and life (2 Cor. 3:7-18). It is sin within the human heart that condemns people - not the law. The crucifixion of Yeshua condemned sin in the flesh (again, not the law) and now the righteousness of God is imparted to those who embrace Yeshua by faith (Rom. 8:3-4). Enabled by the Holy Spirit, with the law now written upon our hearts (Jer. 31:31-3; Heb. 8:10-11), we are empowered to fulfill the requirements of the law based on a new covenant relationship with God (Gal. 2:16, 3:2). We no longer seek righteousness by means of maintaining ritualistic or other ordinances (Rom. 4:5, Gal. 2:16) but by receiving the free gift of Mashiach's righteousness imputed to us through our trust (Eph. 2:8-9). Because of Yeshua's victory, we do not strive for acceptance before the Father, we abide within it, chaverim...
Imagine for a moment what it might have been like to hear Yeshua cry out "in a loud voice," Tetelestai! His final breath, His kiddush Hashem, His spirit given up and now released before the Father - the resonance of this word filling all heaven and all earth - "It is finished! Father! It is finished! I have completed the work that you have given me to do!" Imagine the joy, the celebration, the glory, the honor given to the Son as He appeared before the Father after securing us so great a salvation. Blessed be His Name forever.... Take hold, chaverim!
ki takhlit ha-Torah hu ha-Mashiach litzdakah l'kol-hama'amin bo
For the Mashiach is the goal of the Torah for righteousness to all who believe.
07.23.07 I updated the weekly parashah for this coming week (Vaetchanan) and created a new PDF file for you to download.
This portion of Torah includes some of the most fundament texts of the Jewish Scriptures, including the Ten Commandments, the Shema (the duty to love God and study His Torah), and the commandments of tefillin and mezuzot. In addition, Moses' prediction of the galut (exile) of national Israel and the eventual redemption of the Jewish people in acharit hayamim (the end of days) is provided in this portion.
Note also that the Shabbat that follows the Fast of Av (Tishah B'Av) is called "Shabbat Nachamu," the "Sabbath of Comfort," since the Haftarah that is read is from Isaiah 40, bespeaking the comfort of Israel after their exile.
For little children and other misfits...
07.22.07 I received an email today that chided me for including some writing of Soren Kierkegaard on this site, referring to it as "Greco-Roman" teaching. My response was to remind this person that when the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) was first given to kallat Mashiach (the church), one of the first signs was the gift of "tongues," or the supernatural ability to fluently speak the message of Yeshua in the language of others. But why not the other way around? Certainly God could have caused those within earshot to have supernaturally received or translated the message without altering the original source message - but that's not what happened. God enabled those who delivered the message to be His voice to those of other cultures and nationalities.
After the parochet (veil) of the Temple was rent asunder, the LORD God of Israel "reached out" to a lost world composed of various nationalities and languages. The message of Yeshua never was (and never shall be) subject to the "gatekeepers" of parochial religion or tribal interests. No indeed, the Life of the Mashiach was given for the ransom of the entire world. No wonder, then, that God chose Koine Greek as the linguistic medium for the message of salvation rather than classical Hebrew. This was the lingua franca of the day, the best choice to get the message out to as many people as quickly as possible.
In short, the message of Yeshua was not intended to create a snob religion of Gnostics or religionists who attempt to use jargon and other devices to withhold the truth from others. Yeshua only had hard words for those who sought to keep "the little children" from embracing Him. God "takes" the wise in their own craftiness and considers the wisdom of this world to be utter foolishness. He reveals Himself to the lowly and reaches out to those who are aware of their need for Him.
All this is not to say that we do not benefit from studying Hebrew, of course, or from learning the Hebraic mindset of the Scriptures. There is indeed great value in this enterprise, if it is done in humility and with an awareness that the greater goal is to bring the message of Yeshua to others....
Note: The Torah portion for this week will be a bit late this week.
The Road is How
07.19.07 All of us - without exception - hold fundamental presuppositions that mark our ultimate concerns. We believe in order to understand, and not the other way around. Reason itself is a matter of faith that is ultimately validated by an aesthetic sense of "fitness" or coherence. In other words, if you push the idea of reason to its limits, you will find that it is based on a sense of "fit" or proportion that the mind accepts as self-evidently true. This is part of what William James called the "sentiment of rationality" ("irrationality," on the other hand, is a state of cognitive dissonance or a sense that the relation does not fit or hold together.)
Today I added a short excerpt from the writings of Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) who explained that it is not the "what" of life that matters as much as its "how." How we choose to encounter reality will ultimately determine the what of that reality. Choosing to believe in the good will enable us to apprehend it and ultimately transform us into that which is good. Or as Yeshua Himself put it, "According to your faith, be it done unto you..."
You might wonder why I add this sort of thing to a site devoted to studying Hebrew and the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. First of all, please let me remind some of my Messianic friends that this site is called Hebrew for Christians, and therefore I do not entertain a priori prejudice against Christian doctrine or concepts as they have been expressed in the historical Church over the last 2,000 years or so (though I appeal to God's shepherds to understand the Church's relationship to she'arit yisrael more fully, etc). Moreover, Kierkegaard, a defector from the Lutheran Church tradition, is simply encouraging us to examine our lives to ensure that we are living the truth. Studying is not an end in itself, after all, but a means to the greater end of honestly choosing in light of the reality and presence of the LORD.
This is essentially a Jewish idea, by the way, since the sages have consistently taught that good deeds (mitzvot) must accompany learning Torah. For example, Simon the Just said:
"Upon three things the world does stand: upon the Torah and upon worship
and upon acts of lovingkindness."
Living the truth is essentially relational, and our spiritual condition is inevitably revealed by our decisions - not by what we might merely profess to believe. As SK says, Christ does not call "professors" of Christianity but rather followers - and He bids them come and die.
07.18.07 Despite the numerous computer problems I've been experiencing over here, I managed to get the weekly Torah summary completed (Devarim) and created a new PDF file for you to download. I hope you will find it helpful.
Note that this Shabbat precedes the Fast of Av (Tishah B'Av) and is called "Shabbat Chazon," the "Sabbath of vision," since the Haftarah that is read comes from the first chapter of Isaiah regarding the coming destruction of the Temple.
About Tishah B'Av...
The darkest day on the Jewish calendar is called Tishah B'Av (the Ninth of Av), which begins at sundown on Monday, July 23 this year (5767) and lasts through sundown, Tuesday, the 24th.
On Tishah B'Av, Jews around the world fast in remembrance of many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people, such as the destruction of both the first and second Temples. Many Jews also remember the atrocities of the Shoah (Holocaust) during this time. Torah study is prohibited since it associated with joy... With the coming tribulation for all the world, and especially for the Jewish people, let us more earnestly pray for their salvation and blessing. Chaverim, more than ever it is imperative that we "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Psalm 122:6).
Note: You might think that Yom Kippur is the saddest day of the Jewish year, since there is an extended period of teshuvah (repentance) during the preceding month of Elul that culminates in a prolonged fast with a lengthy confession of sins (viduy) at the synagogue. Actually, Yom Kippur is considered the holiest day of the year, but there is still the hope of obtaining forgiveness (selichah) through one's teshuvah. It is the day of atonement or forgiveness for the preceding year's sins, and it is also a time of judgment for the coming year... It is a sad time, of course, since it involves chesbon hanefesh (soul searching) about the sins you've committed, and this often involves feelings of regret and even shame. However Yom Kippur is not tragic like Tisha B'Av, since Tisha B'Av represents the judgment and punishment of God carried out.
We need to pray for the eyes of Jewish people to be open to the freedom and love of the Messiah Yeshua....the One who said, "destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (John 2:19-22). Jesus alone is the everlasting answer to our need for forgiveness, even in the light of the tragic.
More Computer Problems here...
07.16.07 I am in need of prayer... the recent attacks on the computer and web services have wearied me. Thank you.
07.15.07 I am having some serious computer problems over here, and my email application is unable to send outgoing mail. I have a work-around, but it is very time consuming and problematic... I might need to buy a new computer (at least the box) in order to rid myself of these headaches and have a clean system.
I am also working on the Torah portion for this coming Shabbat, though it most likely will be late this week on account of the computer issues I am dealing with presently...
Torah of Humility
07.11.07 I was reminded of something in this week's parashah (Mattot) that was quite sobering. Maybe you will find this helpful.
Today my wife and I had a disagreement and we both got upset... We both hardened our hearts and we both believed we were in the right. The matter soon escalated into angry feelings. I then recalled how Joseph's son Manesseh (disguised as Joseph's servant) lost part of his inheritance for causing his uncles to rend their garments (Gen. 44:1-13). I also remembered that those descendants of Manesseh that settled east of Jordan were among the first of Israel carried into captivity by the Assyrians (c. 740 BC).
What is my point? Our words and actions, if they bring anguish to the hearts of others, can cause us to lose a portion of the blessing intended for our lives. But couldn't Manasseh have argued that he was merely "obeying orders," or even that he was "right" to say what he did to his uncles? After all, hadn't they betrayed his father? Wouldn't this teach them a lesson? No. The end never justifies the means. God is not a pragmatist...
Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–1945) tells the story about how a teacher once humiliated one of her students by standing him up before the class to ask whether his father, known as the town drunk, had been out drinking the night before. The little boy knew the accusation was true but bravely announced "No." When the teacher mockingly asked him again, the boy was adamant. "NO!" Bonhoeffer's comment was that this little boy spoke more truth by his lie than if he had merely reported the "facts" to the class -- and thereby betrayed the dignity of his father... The truth is not some objective state of affairs that can be reported dispassionately. Without love as its context, such "truth" becomes a lie. Satan keeps his own books.
What might appear small in our eyes may have enormous repercussions in the realm of the spirit. Nothing is small or insignificant in this life. Our words matter. May God help us to put away our pride and all those thoughts and deeds that bring might bring pain to others... May He help us to walk in humility and love.
This week's Torah Portion
07.10.07 I stayed up most of the night to get the Torah portion completed for this coming Shabbat. As mentioned yesterday, this week we have a double portion of Torah (parashiyot Mattot and Masei). I have also created two new PDF files for you to download as well...
If you have been regularly reading and studying Torah with me, after reading these two portions we have completed sefer BeMidbar (the book of Numbers). Let me wish you Yasher Koach and Chazak! (said upon completing a book of the Torah). Next week we will begin studying Sefer Devarim (the book of Deuteronomy).
07.10.07 I added a couple new articles to the site that are excerpts from the prodigous Danish philosopher and theologian of the 19th century, Soren Kierkegaard. These very short excerpts are meant to be provocative -- and to test some of the fundamental assumptions we all make in our everyday lives.
More on Liberty and the Jewish Roots
07.10.07 Based on some comments I posted here recently regarding the liberty we have in Yeshua, a dear Messianic brother wrote me and asked whether I meant to say that a Gentile or Messianic Jew should actually be forbidden to don tzitzit or other accouterments of the Jewish people. Does our liberty in Yeshua, then, mean that we are supposed to be going the other direction with all this?
My brief answer to him was simply to point out that each of us is in our own process, and we need to give grace and love to one another. My comments about our liberty were not intended to suggest that we are restricted from enjoying Jewish customs, mo'edim, and so on, especially if they are a means to helping us sanctify the LORD in our hearts and thereby more fully express our love to Him. On the other hand, it is crucial to understand that these accouterments are merely visual aids, or a "making visible the invisible," of what is ultimately true and abiding in our hearts... They are not "shibboleths" or recipes to gain access to the LORD, since Yeshua alone is our High Priest and Intercessor and it is by means of His zechut (merit) that can draw near to the Father.
Legalism is a bit of a two-edged sword, is it not? We can be legalistically anti-legalistic! We must test our own spirit and examine our hearts.
Understanding the radical freedom that Yeshua gives comes from the profound awareness that we are - and ever shall be - utterly insufficient to please God in our own merits, and therefore we cast ourselves upon the mercy and grace of God given through the life of Messiah. Struggling with various modes and means of pleasing God through any form of service or ritual observance might be indicative that there is a deeper struggle concerning the acceptance of our own inner bankruptcy and need for deliverance.
Hackers, Viruses, and Torah...
07.09.07 Because of the hacker problems I have dealt with over the weekend, the Torah portion for this coming Shabbat will be late. In fact, this coming Shabbat will be a "double portion" of Torah (there are 2 double portions during leap years and 6 during non leap years -- for more information, click here). Thank you for your patience!
07.08.07 Baruch Hashem -- I was able to "disinfect" the computer here and clear it of viruses... however, I cannot send any email from my email program (sigh). It seems that Comcast has blocked my ability to do this on account of the virus/malware. However, I can still FTP, and with God's help I will be able to update next week's Torah portion on schedule. My sincere thanks to all of you who have prayed and offered me encouragement during this ordeal. Now if I could only get my email to work!!!
07.06.07 My home computer is infected with several viruses and "trojan horse" malware programs -- and now I have no access to the Internet. I am unsure how the system got infected, though this site has been attacked by hackers several times in the past... I am working on the issue, of course, but this might mean that I won't be able to update the site for awhile. Your prayers are appreciated, chaverim.
07.05.07 Quite regularly I answer emails from well-meaning souls who have become so enamored with the Jewish roots of the Christian faith that they run the risk of abandoning the liberty that Yeshua came to give us... This is tragic and greatly saddens me.
Just today I received an email from someone who is studying at a "Messianic Yeshiva" that apparently teaches a form of syncretism of Rabbinic Judaism with Christianity. Look, chaverim, let me say this emphatically: Rabbinical theology is different than Biblical theology, and Messianic Judaism is not some "fourth stream" of the Jewish faith with Jesus added on for good measure...
With the destruction of the Second Temple (in 70 AD) and the loss of the priesthood/ means of sacrifice, there were only a few options available to the Jewish community. One was to accept the death of Yeshua as the atonement for sin, and the other was to reconstruct Jewish theology so that the community could exist without a Temple (and to therefore find a way to forgive sin without blood sacrifice). Choices were made and polarizations occurred. The Council at Yavne represented the mainstream Jewish choice.
Yeshua surpasses Moses as the Creator surpasses His creation. The Scriptures command us to "consider Yeshua, [who] has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses -- as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself" (Heb. 3:1-6). Yeshua alone is our great Kohen Gadol (High Priest) of the better covenant than Moses' (Heb. 8:6), and Yeshua alone is the Supreme Mediator between God and man. Only Yeshua brings God and man together.
Consider, then, how the New Testament states that Yeshua was greater than:
- The first Jew, Abraham (John 8:53-58)
- Israel and his children (John 4:12-14)
- Moses and all the angels (Heb. 3:1-6; Matt. 17:1-8; John 1:17; etc.)
- Solomon, the greatest king of Israel (Luke 11:31)
- Jonah, one of the greatest Jewish prophets (Matt. 12:41)
- Elijah, one of the greatest Jewish prophets (Matt. 17:1-8)
- The Temple itself (Matt. 12:6).
Indeed, Yeshua is called the very Creator (Col. 1:18-19) who sits upon the throne of God Himself (Psalm 45:6-7; Heb. 1:8). Simply put, Moses stands in relation to Yeshua as the creature stands before the Creator and is accountable to Him.
The "Church" is a called-out group of people from among all the nations who are made partakers of the covenantal blessings and redemptive purposes of the LORD God Almighty. It is what Rav Sha'ul termed a "mystery," meaning that it was undisclosed before the advent of the Messiah Yeshua. The entire history of ethnic Israel was accomplished in order to "get Yeshua to Moriah" - the place of ultimate sacrifice - where He would offer up His life for the sins of the world.... and thereby break the "spell" of the kelalah (curse).
Yeshua at Moriah is the Central Point of all history. It is the Altar. All the outpouring of the wrath of God against sin was accomplished here, since it involved the torture and death of the only true Tzaddik who ever lived. Yet it was by means of Yeshua's righteous suffering that all the families of the earth may now be blessed and escape the kelalah of HaShem. It is finished -- by the hand of Yeshua -- not Moses. We are called to follow Him....
Happy Independence Day!
07.04.07 Happy Fourth of July, chaverim! Please take a moment to pray for this country and its leaders... for the gift of teshuvah.
Shadows and Fog...
07.03.07 Today someone asked whether he should wear tzitzit (fringes on a Tallit or other "four-cornered garment") in honor of the Torah's commandment (Num 15:38-9). Apparently he believed that tzitzit were only intended for the Jewish people, and therefore he was wondering if he was permitted to wear them.
The answer to this question, of course, depends on whom you trust as an authority on the subject. If this person asked an Orthodox Rabbi, he would doubtlessly be told that it was unlawful for him to wear tzitzit, since these are indeed reserved for the Jewish people. On the other hand, if he asked someone who believes we are under a new covenant relationship with the LORD, a different answer would be given.
This man's problem (once again) concerns the exact relationship between the follower of Yeshua and the demands of the Torah given at Sinai (and in particular, the covenant made with Israel at Sinai). Tell me, chaverim, did Yeshua come here to make us followers of Moses or followers of Him?
Lest we forget: The Brit Chadashah (New Testament), while acknowledging the divine origin of the Torah, appeals to Yeshua as its goal or end - the One to whom the Torah and the Prophets speak as the fulfillment of all that the LORD requires. Yeshua was far greater than a "latter day" Moses. He is the Word who was in the beginning (John 1:1) and through whom the world was created (Col. 1:16). Since Yeshua is Himself Adonai, the commandments of the Torah are indeed Yeshua's commandments as mediated by Moses, but the administration of the Sinaitic covenant, with the Levitical priesthood and its ordinances, is called a shadow (skia) of things to come (Hebrews 7:19, 8:5-7; 9:19-24, 10:1, 14).
Because of the Better Covenant (Hebrews 8:6) we are now declared tzaddik (righteous) on account of the zechut (merit) of Yeshua. By God's grace we are made part of she'arit Yisrael (the remnant of Israel). Did not the LORD make Pinchas (Phinehas), born of a Gentile, into a Kohen (priest)? Indeed, Yeshua makes all those who trust in Him "priests and kings of the LORD God Almighty" (Rev. 1:6, 5:10). We are made part of the very kehunah (priesthood) of Mashiach Yeshua and are therefore called am segulah (a treasured people). Followers of Yeshua are His chosen ones (1 Peter 2:9), and it is our role to "proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."
Chaverim, we are under LIBERTY in Messiah Yeshua, though we are warned not to get tangled up in a yoke of bondage again (Gal. 5:1-4). Ceremonial Torah that pertains to brit yashanah (the Older Covenant) must be recognized for what it is - a means to something better. Once we have encountered the better way to come before God, such paraphernalia will at best seem to be a token of the inner miracle of our lives. We don't fight for victory; we fight from it!
Are we free to wear tzitzit then? Indeed, "all things are permissible to me, though not all things are profitable" (1 Cor. 6:12, 10:23). We need to make sure we understand, then, the liberating truth of the gospel and not put our hope in the vain efforts of religiosity or other forms of self-righteousness:
Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Messiah reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Messiah God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Messiah, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of messiah, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:17-21)
The LORD Yeshua is alive and is our great High Priest, the mediator of the New Covenant with the LORD. Have you encountered Him?
I can imagine someone asking, "If he thinks this way, then why does he spend so much time/energy on the Jewish roots of the faith or teaching Torah?" Briefly, here are some answers I might give: 1) The Torah is of historical importance; 2) the Torah provides a shadow of the good things to come since it reveals the Messiah (John 5:39, Luke 24: 13-36); 3) The New Covenant Scriptures cannot be properly understood apart from the Torah; 4) The saving work of Yeshua (i.e., His sacrifice) cannot be fully savored and appreciated without a good education in the Torah; 5) The apostles were all intimately aware of the Torah and its significance; 6) The Torah contains prophetic truth that helps us better understand eschatology; 7) The "Church" was born on the Torah holiday of Shauv'ot (Pentecost) in Jerusalem; 8) The Jerusalem Council (first "Church" council) assumed that Gentiles would study the Torah of Moses and the other Jewish Scriptures (Acts 15:19-21); 9) The apostle Paul was raised a Torah observant Jew who studied under the famous Rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3), and to understand his teaching, we must be familiar with the Torah; 10) the Torah helps us better understand the needs of the Jewish people (who are still chosen and beloved of the LORD, despite their rejection of the Messiah (Rom. 11:28); and 11) Yeshua Himself said, "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). Sacred history, including future events, is bound up with the Jewish people. Yeshua is returning to Jerusalem. He will forever be called the "King of the Jews" (Luke 23:38). I could go on, but this should suffice for now...
I will repeat what I wrote the other day. Many people do not feel comfortable with nuanced answers but seek instead "yes" or "no" answers to complex questions. In the case of the Torah of the LORD, we need to take time to discern its inner meaning and relevance, and this involves making a number of qualifications, especially in light of the new covenant cut in the body and blood of Yeshua our LORD.
07.02.07 I updated the weekly parashah for this coming week (Pinchas) and created a PDF file for you to download.
When Aaron received the promise of the priesthood from the LORD, it meant that his children and their descendants would be part of the Kohanim (priestly class of Israel). However, since his grandson Pinchas (Phinehas) had already been born, he did not automatically receive this honor, especially since his father Eleazar (the son of Aaron) was married to a Gentile bride (Ex. 6:25).
When Pinchas risked his life by killing Zimri the nassi (prince) of the tribe of Simeon, however, the LORD rewarded him by declaring him a kohen (priest) and promising him a "covenant of peace." The LORD further promised him - and his descendants after him - brit kehunat olam, a "covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement (kafar) for the people of Israel." This is a clear picture of Yeshua the Mashiach and His greater priesthood (i.e., His descendants of whom He is Firstfruit).
B"H -- God looks at the heart, chaverim, and is able to make those who have zeal for Him true priests of the LORD! You don't have to be born Jewish to impress the LORD God of Israel, since He's no respecter of persons. Not only can He create spiritual children of Avraham from the stones of the ground, but He can call someone considered a non-Jew (by the Rabbis, anyway) a high priest of Israel! Indeed, many descendants of Pinchas later became the most faithful of the High Priests of Israel during the First Temple period.
07.02.07 Tomorrow (Tuesday July 3) is Tammuz 17 on the Jewish calendar, a date that commemorates the breaking of the tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were written when Moses came down from Sinai and found the Jews worshipping the golden calf.
For a brief Hebrew mediation on this subject, see this.
07.01.07 I am writing the torah summary for this coming Shabbat. I hope to get it online some time tonight.