Tag Archives: Traditions Sabbath Torah

“Your dirt removes my blindness, your pain becomes my peace…”

Truly humble lyrics from an astoundingly poignant and truthful song in which the singer states “Convinced of my deception, I’ve always been a fool … If I was not so weak, If I was not so cold …. I would be frail.”

The astounding picture of transparency, contrition, and repentance painted by this song reflects the heart and soul of the lyricist.

It’s lyrics like these that make it kind of unbelievable when the same person turns around in a moment of, I guess, boredom on a long flight, and says “I just don’t see a negative effect to allowing gay marriage. … I don’t particularly care about Scripture’s stance on what is ‘wrong.’ I care more about how it says we should treat people.”

Equally amazing is the utter lack of surprise I feel when reading stories about christian figures spouting such ludicrous nonsense in regards to sexual immorality and perversion. Not simply because people are, always have been, and always will be corrupt and seeking to replace or destroy God at their very core, regardless of the religious title or stance they hold. But because the way that the Scriptures themselves have been mutilated and twisted, misinterpreted, manipulated, and in most cases, flat out rejected or neglected. Such behavior will naturally lead to false perceptions and ideas that contradict Scripture itself. Those people that condone such actions are in no better a position spiritually than the fornicators and perverts themselves!

We’re even specifically warned of such people by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 5

11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”

I’m sure most of us who might read that would go “yeah, cast ’em out, and leave them to their own destruction!” Yet, we fail to realize that we are not only part of the problem that causes such mindsets, we are likely taking part in an equally evil act by condemning them without examining our own actions.

I guess my question is this: What is really the cause of such distorted and blatantly arrogant/ignorant beliefs of the “spiritually” minded christians of today?

Even a look at Hebrews 5 gives us insight to the fact that this same dilemma occurred even as early as Paul’s day.

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him 10 and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. 11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand.

Now, it’s important to note that most mainstream translations of this passage break it up into two separate sections (cuz you know, the translators know what it’s really saying better than anyone else). In the NIV verse 11 is preceded by a heading that says “Warnings against falling away.” This is especially curious because there is no actual mention of falling away in the passage that follows that header. Instead, it’s an admonition, which basically says “We should go on about this, but you don’t seem to care so it’s hard to try to explain.” The next few verses shows the author basically ridiculing the readers by accusing them of being immature in their faith because they refuse to study the Scripture (of great importance is the fact that the Scriptures that would have been referenced was the Hebrew tenakh, as it was the only “scripture” available at the time.) and rely instead on someone else teach it to them.

12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature,who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Anyone who relies on their pastor or “leader” to explain the scriptures to them and keep reminding them to repent is like an infant who still relies on the milk of his mother because he is too immature. This spiritual immaturity comes as a result of laziness and refusing to study the “teaching about righteousness (a.k.a. the Torah, which described how to live a holy life, through the power of Messiah). In the next chapter, the author of Hebrews goes on to say “Let’s move past this repetitive cyclic teaching of the life of Messiah and what Messiah actually did, and apply what that means for us as His followers.  Let’s move on to spiritual maturity, and not keep rehashing the overplayed albeit crucial message of repentance. It’s as if the author is saying “Yes, repentance is vital for spiritual maturity, but if you’ve repented, you will move on from those acts that lead to death (Heb.6:1) and realize that if you continually have to have repentance taught to you, you’re pretty much lost and beyond hope (Heb.6:4-8). You should know it, it’s kinda the foundation of everything we’re talking about. If you don’t get that much, you’ll never grow. Let’s move on.”

Modern christianity has built such an “anti-old testament/Torah” foundation, that it really just utterly fails to surprise me when I read the article about the lead singer of Jars Of Clay supporting gay-marriage and basically throwing out the authority of the scriptures on matters such as homosexuality.

“I don’t particularly care about Scripture’s stance on what is ‘wrong.’ I care more about how it says we should treat people.”

Yeah. While it certainly cannot be applied as a blanket statement in regard to most self-proclaimed Christians, not many who claim to be christians in this nation actually do care about what the Bible considers to be wrong, they just fear the backlash that would come with saying it so bluntly. Ironically, while many likely share your sentiments, Mr. Songwriter, they don’t realize it.

I’m reminded of a story  I read almost a year ago about a teen who claims to be both a christian and a practicing homosexual. This teen thought it was a good idea to bring his Bible to Show-and-tell one day, and boldly rip out the first two-thirds of the pages (coincidentally — or maybe not — that’s the part that contains the dreaded and horrible law given as a form of slavery to the unsuspecting suckers called the Jews by the mean and angry “god of the old testament” that so many try to distance themselves from while still trying to grasp at all the good things He can give them, interestingly enough).

And why shouldn’t he? The bipolar attitude that the modern church carries toward the old testament of “this still stands, but that verse there, the next one, that is done away with, but the next one still stands, because Paul said so” is a dangerous and contagious one that has spread the world over.

Take for instance Leviticus 20:18:

18 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly period, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them are to be cut off from their people.”

Try telling any given christian couple that they’re not supposed to have sex while she’s on her period, and you’ll likely get laughed at, and probably a reference to some letter of Paul’s that says we’re no longer under law. Yet, if  you tell them that they’re not supposed to have sex with each other’s parents, or with their pets, you’ll likely receive a blank stare because “everybody knows that’s a sin.” Yet, the paradox remains, those particular things supposedly fall under the category of “sexual immorality” along with the other things that Paul lists in 1 Corinthians. Why doesn’t the instruction in Lev. 20:18 fall under that? Most people will probably tell you it’s because of the division of moral, civil, and ceremonial law that “exists” in the Torah, and how only the moral laws still stand.

Read this and tell me where you see that division:

9 “‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death. Because they have cursed their father or mother, their blood will be on their own head. 10 “‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death. 11 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father. Both the man and the woman are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. 12 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his daughter-in-law, both of them are to be put to death. What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads. 13 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. 14 “‘If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked. Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you. 15 “‘If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he is to be put to death, and you must kill the animal. 16 “‘If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. 17 “‘If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace. They are to be publicly removed from their people. He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible.” 18 “‘If a man has sexual relations with a woman during her monthly period, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them are to be cut off from their people. 19 “‘Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible. 20 “‘If a man has sexual relations with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will die childless. 21 “‘If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother. They will be childless.”

I guess I missed the division there. So, verse 9 is ceremonial or civil, verses 10-17 are moral and still stand, verse 18 is civil or ceremonial and no longer applicable, but then we switch back to moral in verses 19-21 and those still apply? What? Where does it say that? The only distinction I see is in verse 7-8:

7 “‘Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am YHVH your God. 8 Keep my decrees and follow them. I am YHVH, who makes you holy.”

Maybe, instead of trying to rationalize, justify, explain, preach, manipulate scripture, or quote Paul in order to get rid of these things we just don’t think we should be responsible to do, we should realize that if we truly believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,  the only reason we should ever need to do or not do something is contained in that simple phrase “because I said so”:

Because I am YHVH, the LORD your GOD.

Leviticus 20:23-24:
“You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. But I said to you, “You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am YHVH your God, who has set you apart from the nations.” (emphasis mine)

Traditions of Men: Why the church is more guilty of legalism than Hebrew Roots Christians

When is the Sabbath? Most in the Christian church would answer “Sunday.” But what is the truth? What does Scripture have to say about this?

Most in the Christian Church believe that the sabbath was changed to Sunday. Mostly because of the passage in Acts 20 where Paul is preaching on the “first day of the week.” The story goes on to tell about the young, man named Eutechus, who fell asleep because Paul was speaking for so long that he fell out of the window and died. Read it sometime, it’s interesting.

So, the foundation for the argument made by most is the idea that “Paul did it,” as well as a passage where Paul is writing to a church in 1 Corinthians 16, and he mentions taking up a collection:

1 Corinthians 16:1-2
1 Now concerning the collection for the saints:as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.

Certainly, the “first day of the week” is mentioned in this passage, as an appointed time at which to take up a collection to be put away (for safe keeping or some other purpose). But is there any prescription for this to be a new mandate, a replacement for the Biblical command to rest on the 7th day? Is there any mention of why they were to take up the collection on the first day of the week? Aside from what Paul says, “so that there will be no collecting when I come,” no, not really. One would think that if Paul was telling the believers that this was supposed to be the new “meeting time” or “the new Sabbath,” that it would be more clear. Paul is not telling the Corinthians that they should congregate on the first day of the week, simply that they should set aside some money for a collection on that day. This is not too different from the practice of setting aside funds for bills at the beginning of the month. It’s just good advice.
But why not on the sabbath itself? They were definitely still meeting in the temple on a regular basis, so we can’t overlook the fact that they assembled regularly on the Sabbath, so why not prescribe the “offering” then? Most likely because part of the Sabbath command is to “keep it holy,” or as set apart from the everyday norm, since that’s the actual meaning of holy, to be separated or set apart. Deuteronomy 5:12-14 states that we are to abstain from all work on the sabbath. What is work? It is the exchange of labor for wages. Therefore, wages are considered a common thing, not to be dealt with on the Sabbath. Jewish halakhah, traditional observance of the Torah, expounds on this by prohibiting buying and selling at all on the sabbath, because buying and selling is something that is supposed to be completed before the sabbath.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

It is likely that Paul had this in mind – since, after all, he was a devout Jew himself – when he suggested the collection be taken up on the first day.

Another favorite of sunday Sabbath advocates is that the reason the Sabbath was changed to Sunday is because Yeshua rose on the first day of the week. That is hard to both prove and disprove, but instead of using any kind of verifiable scripture to back up this tradition, they point to the passage about Paul teaching “on the first day of the week,” and say that because Paul did it, that makes it right. There is absolutely no explicit mention of anything being changed regarding the sabbath. Where in all of the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah is any mention made of the Messiah changing anything in the Torah? Yeshua Himself even declared that He did not come to do His own will, but that of the Father. What is the Father’s will?

John 7:16-17
So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.

So did Yeshua come to do anything that was not already established? No! He came to do the will of God, which was so that His people might know Him. Yeshua is God. God is Yeshua. If one does something to contradict the other, they are not one and we should forfeit the whole thing. If Paul instructed his readers to do anything that contradicted the Torah of God, then he is a false teacher, and should be rejected. Paul even exclaims that he upholds the Torah!

Romans 3:31
Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the Torah.

So what are we to do then? Should we uphold the many mistranslations of Paul’s letter as saying that he somehow has some unexplained authority over and above that of Messiah himself? Or should we take Paul’s own words and realize that simply because we are not held to the Torah as a means of salvation does not mean that we throw it out?

What is more, the Sabbath is mentioned 66 times in the Old Testament (in the ESV at least), and every time it is referred to as being on the 7th day, and most of these are attached to a following condemnation or punishment for not observing it as such. Of the 57 times it is mentioned in the Apostolic Scriptures, the majority of times is is in reference to Yeshua or his disciples, or both. Often, Yeshua is being accused of doing something that ought not to be done on the Sabbath, but every time, Yeshua offers a rebuttal to the Pharisee’s accusations based on the Torah itself to uphold the fact that what He was doing was in line with the Sabbath commandment even though it did not line up with the manmade traditions of the Pharisees. I think it is significant that most of the time we see Yeshua healing or doing other miracles, it is on the sabbath. Why would He make a point of doing so? So that we would see that it’s no longer important if we work on the sabbath? If we take that stance and believe that Yeshua was a Sabbath breaker, we agree with the Pharisees, and we condemn Him of transgressing the Torah, and thereby obliterate His sinlessness, and Messiahship. If we agree that He was sinless and did nothing to transgress the Torah, then we have to recognize that everything He did was in an effort to uphold the Scriptures, not change them. Each time He was accused of breaking the Sabbath by healing, He relates the event to an instruction given in the Torah to help even our enemies if they need it on the Sabbath. What good is sabbath observance if you are going to be a jerk while doing it? No. Healing those who needed it, if anything, was required as a part of keeping the Sabbath.

But what if Paul did observe a first-day Sabbath? What are we to do with that? Certainly Paul was an influential author in the Apostolic Scriptures. Why would we ignore a practice that he observed? What would be the harm? Certainly if Paul did it, then it must be okay, right? Or is that kind of thinking the very type that undermines the authority of the Scriptures? Should we follow the advice of a single man simply because he was of proven character? What if what he does contradicts the authority of Scripture itself, as well as that of our Messiah? What are we to do with that? The same thing we would do with a teacher or preacher who either changes or contradicts anything contained in scripture: disregard their teachings and strip them of all authority. Did Messiah observe the Sabbath? Think about it carefully before answering. If yes, then either we are misunderstanding what Paul is teaching and doing regarding Sabbath observance, or he is blatantly disregarding a sacred commandment that even our Messiah observed, and should therefore be removed from Scripture. If Messiah did not observe the Sabbath – specifically on the 7th day – then He cannot be anything other than a false prophet, because we are told in 1 John 3:5 that He is sinless, and what is sin besides disobeying God’s commands, of which the observance of Sabbath is a huge one. If we acknowledge that Yeshua kept the Sabbath holy and observed it on the 7th day, yet we still insist that Paul observed a 1st day sabbath – despite all the warnings given for doing such a thing – then we are observing the traditions of men, something that our Messiah was heartily opposed to (see my previous post)

Let me clarify: I do not believe at all that Paul observed a sunday sabbath. I believe, because he states so very clearly multiple times in his writing, that Paul was a devout Jew, trained up in the Torah, a Jew among Jews. Does that make him a better person? No. Does it give him anymore authority on scriptural matters? I think yes. We in western churches test a person’s Biblical authority based on their training and foundation. Paul was raised studying scripture. He memorized whole books of the Bible as part of his training as a young man. He was likely in the process of earning his smicha when he experienced first-hand our Messiah on the road to Damascus. So should we accept his authority? Absolutely. However, if anything he says or instructs his readers to do contradicts even a single word of Scripture or even a single word from our Messiah, his authority should be thrown out along with all of his writings. If Paul contradicts the teachings of Messiah in any way, they should be discarded. However, I do not for even a single moment believe that this was the case. I believe that Paul was very much in agreement with the whole of Scripture and everything that Messiah did and said. So something must have gotten twisted in our understanding of his writings. If not, then we ought to disregard his writing entirely. Since we cannot do that, we should carefully consider what Paul is actually teaching and doing