Posts Tagged ‘Messiah’

“In sukkot you shall dwell for seven days: all citizens of Israel shall dwell in sukkot.”  (Leviticus 23:42) 

October 2nd— October 9th, 2020 the Biblical Holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles / Booths) begins. This wonderful holiday lasts for a full seven days and completes the cycle of the Fall Feasts. This is is my favorite of all the fall festivals because it points to God’s promise that Messiah will tabernacle with his people when he returns to set up God’s kingdom here on earth. (Micah 4:1-7; Isaiah 9:7; Zechariah 8:3; Luke 1:32,33)

After the somber time of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Sukkot is a joyous celebration of a renewed relationship with God and His atonement for sin. The Feast of Tabernacles is a special time for all believers to come together and be a blessing to the needy by presenting our financial gifts to God’s people—and God has promised a blessing for doing this! Even the Apostle Paul and the early Church who we know was in Jerusalem for these Feasts (Acts 20:16), must have presented the gifts he collected from the churches across Greece and countries in Asia to assist the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.

Just as the Israelites dwelt in temporary shelters called a sukkah, we are also to dwell in a sukkah for this entire week. “On the first day you are to gather the fruit of majestic trees, the branches of palm trees, and the boughs of leafy trees and of willows of the brook. And you are to rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.” (Leviticus 23:40,41) 

For seven days and nights, we eat in the sukkah and consider it our dwelling. Some live in the sukkah entirely for the duration of the festival—even sleeping in it through all kinds of weather. The sukkah is made with 3 sides with an opening in the front and the roof is made in such a way that the moon and the stars are visible as we remember the promise God made to Abraham that his descendants  would be more numerous than the stars. (Genesis 22:17)

During this festive season, we also recall how God’s faithfulness provided for our ancestors as they wandered the Sinai Desert wilderness for 40 years before entering the Promised Land of Israel. “You shall dwell in sukkot for seven days…that your future generations shall know that I had the children of Israel live in sukkot when I brought them out of Egypt.”  (Leviticus 23:42–43)  

Another observance carried out each day of Sukkot  is the Four Species: an etrog (citron), a lulav (palm frond), three hadassim (myrtle twigs) and two aravot (willow twigs).  They are bound together in such a way that they can be held together easily. Then the four species are taken up with the right hand and the etrog is taken with the left hand. A blessing is recited over the Four Species: “Blessed are You, Lord God, king of the universe, who has sanctified us with Your commandments and commanded us to take the lulav.” Facing the direction where the Temple in Jerusalem once stood, the Four Species are then shaken in all six directions: right, left, forward, up, down and backward. This may seem strange to most Christians today, but is it any more strange than churches’ order of worship service—stand up, sit down, kneel, or the time when worship services begin? I am of the opinion that if God told us to perform all these things while sitting cross legged in a lotus position, I would gladly comply. 

Rabbinic tradition explains that the Four Species represent the various personalities that make up the community of Israel.  They are held together while a blessing is recited over them to bless the unity of all people, which is emphasized on Sukkot. But another reason for this strange commandment may be that the four species represents all the people whom God had dispersed to the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:12; Mark 13:27) We move the Four Species three times in each of six directions immediately after reciting the blessing. We do this by extending the Four Species in each direction: eastward, southward, westward and northward, upwards and downwards. After each movement, the lulav and etrog are brought towards the heart. We do this to possibly remind ourselves that omnipresent God is everywhere—and in our hearts.

One of the names for Sukkot is ‘The Season of Our Joy’.  In fact, in Scripture the word “joy” appears several times in connection with Sukkot. “Be joyful at your Feast—you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites, the aliens, the fatherless and the widows who live in your towns.…For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.”  (Deuteronomy 16:13–15) Did you miss that? God said it was a joyful celebration for everyone—including the aliens, or non-Jews! (See Exodus 12:49 and Numbers 15:15) Since Sukkot is also a harvest festival, we can well imagine that there is great reason for joy.

Eating and drinking during Sukkot? 

“You shall tithe all the yield of your seed that comes from the field year by year. And before the LORD your God, in the place that he will choose, to make his name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always. And if the way is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, because the place is too far from you, which the LORD your God chooses, to set his name there, then you shall turn it into money and bind up the money in your hand and go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns, for he has no portion or inheritance with you.” (Deuteronomy 14:22-27) 

Did you see that? God tells us to “spend the money for whatever we desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves.” But let me repeat this because most Christians don’t understand this. God tells us to eat, drink and be merry before Him! We are commanded to have a good time at the feast! So much for the teaching that strong drink and wine are forbidden by Scripture. Many may misinterpret this Scripture to mean that God commands us to get drunk. This could not be further from the truth! Scripture is clear that getting drunk is forbidden. (Proverbs 20:1; Leviticus 10:9; Romans 13:13; Ephesians 5:18)  A person should only drink if it will lead to positive spiritual results. (e.g. under the loosening affect of alcohol, having a greater awareness of the love for God and His word and the people around you found deep in the heart.

The whole point of God’s feasts is to allow us to be joyful before the Lord and to worship Him for all the good things He has given us. So eat, drink and be merry for all of God’s many blessings!

What’s so bad about that? 

“Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths.” (Zechariah 14:16)

Yom Kippur / The Day of Atonement Begins at sundown on September 27th – 28th, 2020. It is the second of the Fall Feast Days commanded by God. Although, it is not so much a Feast day as it is a fast day and a repentance day—and why it is one of the most holy days of the Hebrew calendar.

“This is to be a permanent statute for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month, you shall humble yourselves and not do any work—whether the native or the foreigner who resides among you—because on this day atonement will be made for you to cleanse you, and you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD. It is a Sabbath of solemn rest for you, that you may humble yourselves; it is a permanent statute…This is to be a permanent statute for you, to make atonement once a year for the Israelites because of all their sins.” (Leviticus 16:29-34)

The Day of Atonement points to the day of the Second Coming of Messiah when he will return to set up God’s kingdom on earth. It will be the Day of Atonement for all nations when they will “look upon him whom they have pierced,” repent of their sins, and The Jews will receive Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah. (Zechariah 12:10; Romans 11:1-6; 25-36)

Yom Kippur is described as a Shabbat of solemn rest in the Torah, a day of fasting, prayer, and reflection. It is the culmination of a period of time during which we are required to take stock of their lives, to ask forgiveness from friends and family, and to take steps toward self-improvement for the year to come. As with other of God’s holy days, the Day of Atonement is not a “Jewish only” holy day. Notice that in Leviticus 16 God told Moses that the Day of Atonement is a “permanent” statute. And it is to be observed by both the “native or the foreigner” who resides among the Israelites.

Traditionally, Jews believe that after judging a person for their deeds over the past year, God decides who will be sealed in the Book of Life. But most simply use the day as a time to reflect on what they want to do differently and how to improve their lives in the year to come.

Yom Kippur is observed for a 25-hour period, beginning at sundown, by refraining from work that is prohibited on Shabbat, and refrain from eating or drinking. Some add five additional prohibitions: bathing; anointing the body with oil; wearing leather shoes; and having sexual relations, but I have yet to find any Scriptural proof of this. In fact, Jesus said, “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.” And in Isaiah 58 the prophet tells us that the fast that God chooses is to “loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free.”  

There are two meals associated with Yom Kippur: the pre-fast meal and the break-fast meal (obviously, for the duration of the fasting holiday, no food or drink is allowed). The pre-fast meal is known as seudah ha-mafaseket (literally, “meal of separation” or “concluding meal”). Meals usually should be prepared with minimum salt, as this could cause dehydration during the fast. It is also important to drink plenty of water before the fast. *Because of health problems or because of their age, some may be excused from a complete fast. To avoid complications, those people should try to only drink fruit and vegetable juice. 

The break-fast meal usually consists of hi-carb dairy foods, and sometimes brunch-style recipes like bagels, quiches, soufflés, eggs, cheese, etc. While others indulge in heavier traditional meals with soups, salads or brisket. 

The Importance of Atonement 

‘Atonement’ to many is an unfamiliar and foreign word. According to the dictionary, it means the action of making amends for a wrong or injury, but in the context of the teachings of the prophets, Jesus and apostles, it also involves reparation or amendment for sin:

 “…If someone sins and acts unfaithfully against the LORD by deceiving his neighbor…He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value, and pay it to the owner on the day he acknowledges his guilt.” (Leviticus 6:1-6)

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven…For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:36-38) 

“But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, half of my possessions I give to the poor, and if I have cheated anyone, I will repay it fourfold.” (Luke 19:8)

It seems that Christians today believe that the way to amend for a wrong is to pray, ask God for forgiveness, and God will cleanse them of their sin. This is always a good thing to do, but they fail to deal with what is the far larger problem of wrongs committed: Instances of everyday nastiness, error, foolishness, lack of empathy and shortsightedness. Leaving the wrongs unaddressed is not only wrong, but sinful.

Here, as in so many areas, we can be inspired by the example of God’s word. God’s word has always given us a particular insight on how to focus on the hurt of others. God knows how easy it is for us to feel it, how hard it is to express it, but also how awkward but necessary it is for us to make amends for perpetrating it. We discover God’s response in the Day of Atonement. 

The Day of Atonement is a solemn day when God instructs us that we must set aside our usual family and commercial activities and mentally review our actions over the past year, identifying all those whom we have caused pain, or behaved unjustly towards. And also to seek out those whom we have frustrated, angered, discarded casually or otherwise betrayed and offer them a complete apology and recompense, if necessary.

This is God’s will as the requirement for forgiveness—so long as the apology is real. I have experienced people who have told me that they were sorry for doing something that hurt me, but their actions let me know that they weren’t sincere. I have even had some who claim that they wanted to apologize to me for bad feelings they had against me, but they really only wanted to let me know what I said or did that upset them.

Too many times we run away from our victims and act with strange rudeness towards them—not because we aren’t bothered by what we did, but because what we did makes us feel uncomfortable around them. Our victims therefore, have to suffer not only the original hurt, but also the subsequent coldness we display towards them on account of our own guilty conscience. 

But the Day of Atonement helps to correct this. A period in which human error is proclaimed as a general truth makes it easier to confess our sins to each other. It is more bearable to own up to the hurt we have caused others when we realize how cleansing it will be for us.

We, as God’s people, need to learn from the Day of Atonement. Functioning without a culture of atonement implies that we are okay, or that our imperfections and sinfulness are all covered by God’s grace. Of course we are deeply imperfect, but we can’t ever progress and live together in harmony if we can’t regularly offer and accept a sincere apology. We need to learn, from God’s word and the example of Jesus and the apostles how to confess our sins, not only to God, but to each other. And forgive ourselves and others. So what’s so wrong with that?

And after we complete our fast and realize how much we need to repent and change maybe, just maybe, we will begin to try to understand each other a little more. 

“We’ve turned from Your ways

Lord Your fruit we’ve ceased to bear

We lack the power we once knew in our prayers

That gentle voice from heaven

We cease to hear and know

The fact that He has risen no longer stirs our soul

Revive us oh Lord

Revive us oh Lord

And cleanse us from our impurities

And make us holy

Hear our cry

And revive us oh Lord!”

“With trumpets and the blast of the horn shout for joy before the LORD, the King.” —Psalm 98:6 

“When you enter into battle in your land against an adversary who attacks you, sound short blasts on the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the LORD your God and saved from your enemies. And on your joyous occasions, your appointed feasts, and the beginning of each month, you are to blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will serve as a reminder for you before your God. I am the LORD your God.” —Numbers 10:9-10 

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” —1 Corinthians 15:51-52

In next the few weeks I will be writing a series of articles about God’s Fall Feast Days. No, this is not another article about how we are commanded by God to observe His Feast Days. I have written enough on that subject. Besides, there enough books to fill libraries across the world on what the Bible says what we should and should not do. No, this is about the instructions on how we observe His Feasts and ask the question, “Why do Christians think it’s so bad to observe God’s Feast Days?” 

To many, the fall is their favorite time of year—the cool, crips air, the beauty  of the turning of the leaves, harvesting apples and savoring the flavors of fall. But my favorite part of fall are the Fall Feast Days ordained by God in the Bible. These Feasts Days also point to Messiah. But unlike the Spring Feasts Days that represent Jesus’ first coming, It is generally believed that the Fall Feasts refer to his return, or the Second Coming. Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) this year begins at sunset, September 18th and ends at nightfall, September 20th. 

On the first day of the seventh month (Tishri) the Hebrews were instructed to have a special solemn Sabbath followed by a ten-day period of repentance known as the High Holy Days. (Leviticus 23:23-25) The new year of the civil calendar began on this day. (Nisan was the beginning of the religious calendar) 

I know I’m in the minority of Christians who observe these holy days, but I delight in the opportunity to proclaim what God has done for me and those around me. Unlike ancient Israel, I am not bound by the law for God’s favor and forgiveness, but it is my joy and privilege to reflect upon Gods faithfulness throughout the course of history. 

During Rosh Hashanah we celebrate the harvest and God’s faithfulness in providing for us. When we blow the shofar, we remember how He has shown up over and over again to defend us in our battles and we celebrate His victories with praise. The trumpet (or shofar) sounded a battle call (Numbers 10) so when we blow the shofar, we are both declaring war on our enemy, the devil, and remembering the source of our strength—our God. 

Rosh Hashanah has become very special to my heart. A lot of time is spent around the table tasting and savoring God’s goodness. In my home, we invite friends to gather with us in celebration and praise to God for all the good things He has given us and for His promise of a good year to come. We even take turns  sounding the shofar to proclaim God’s goodness. We spend hours planning a special meal filled with the traditional, sweet foods of Rosh Hashanah. We dip a special round Challah bread and apples in honey as a way to remember God’s goodness. It is a festive celebration of God’s goodness. It’s not something we have to do, it’s something we get to do. 

Setting aside these Feast Days, helps me put a grounding and purpose to my life. Celebrating God’s Feasts also puts structure in my life. When our time is our own, we’re often prone to wander from God’s commandments. But when we surrender our life and our time around God’s works, our thoughts are taken captive to the obedience of  Messiah. (2 Corinthians 10:5) Above all, by observing God’s Feast days we show God how much we love Him in return. (1 John 5:3) 

So this Feast of Trumpets, I’ll stop and remember the goodness of God in my life. I will thank Him for His faithfulness in the past year and pray for the upcoming year to be sweet. 

Our table will be opened to friends and family, so together, we will partake in celebrating God’s Feast and His goodness. I think of it as practice for when every tribe and every nation will gather around the Lord’s table for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

So I ask, “What’s so bad about that?”

90% of Christian church doctrines today are not even in the Bible. In fact, most Christians today get more of their theology from greeting cards, movies and TV specials than they do from reading Scripture! And most of their beliefs taught in their churches come from pagan practices and traditions of man!

Of course, most Christians will vehemently deny that their beliefs are based on pagan origins or that they are man-made. And they have become quite proficient at disguising them under layers of complicated theology and church tradition. Unconvinced that many of their beliefs and practices are unbiblical, they continue to deceive and be deceived—in spite of the fact that Scripture proves just the opposite. (2 Timothy 3:12-14) That’s not to say that they are evil, or unsaved, just that they have been deceived.

So where did these false doctrines and beliefs get started?

The Roman Catholic church contends that its origin began with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ in approximately AD 30. It also proclaims itself to be the true church that Jesus Christ died for, the church that was established and built by the apostles. But is that the true origin of the early Catholic church?

On the contrary—Even a cursory reading of the New Testament will reveal that the Catholic church does not have its origin in the teachings of Jesus or His apostles. 

Most Christians today associated with the mainline Protestant denominations are aware that in the New Testament there is no mention of the infallibility of the papacy, or the worship of Mary, praying to the saints in heaven, infant baptism, or being forgiven of sin by confessing to a priest. They also know that the Catholic sacrament of Transubstantiation (The idea that bread and wine are miraculously transformed into the literal body and blood of Jesus) is not taught in the Bible.

But there are other beliefs practiced in the Christian churches that are just as unbiblical. 

For the first 280 years of Christian history, Christianity was banned by the Roman Empire, and Christians were terribly persecuted unless they abandoned their Christian faith and worshipped the pagan gods of Rome. This changed after the  so called “conversion” of the Roman Emperor Constantine. Constantine provided religious tolerance with the Edict of Milan in AD 313, effectively lifting the ban on Christianity. Later, in AD 325, Constantine called for the Council of Nicea in an attempt to unify Christianity by blending the Christian Church with the pagan practices of Rome. The result was that many of Constantine’s pagan beliefs and practices eventually became a mixture of true Christianity and Roman paganism. As it remains to this day. 

Here are just a few of the false teachings that have been accepted by modern Christian churches as biblical truth: 

1. Natural immortality of the soul

The majority of professing Christians today believe that when we die, we have a separate “soul” that continues to live on. Those who are lost will immediately be ushered into “hell” where they will be tormented forever, and the saved will immediately be ushered into to the arms of Jesus in heaven. Did you know that Christians were not the first people to believe in the immortal soul? No, this belief came from the pagan world and perpetrated through the Catholic church. It was a way for the Catholic church to control the common people. “Do what we say or you will burn in the eternal fires of hell.” 

Believing that our loved ones who have passed are watching over us from heaven is a romantic notion, but think about this logically. (For God is a logical God) How could our loved ones who have died before us enjoy their eternity in heaven if they have to watch as their loved ones on earth are beaten, robbed, raped or murdered?  

All throughout the Bible you will not see one verse where God, Jesus or the apostles proclaimed that we have an immortal soul. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7) Can you see the clear truth of this? We are made out of the dirt of the ground. And it is only the breath of God that keeps us alive and makes us “living souls”. But without that breath of God in us, we become dust again! We were not given an immortal soul, we are living souls, but only while we are alive. “…the body without the spirit is dead…” (James 2:26)

All throughout the Old Testament we are taught that after death we know nothing (Ecclesiastes 9:5,10; Psalm 115:17). Psalm 146:4 tells us, “When his spirit (life or breath) departs, he returns to the ground; on that very day his plans perish.” 

And in Isaiah, we are given a remarkable prophecy concerning the second coming of Christ Jesus and what happens when we die:

“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” (Isaiah 26:19)

Where does Scripture tell us where we will dwell until the second coming of Jesus? In the grave! Awaiting our resurrection. Friends, this is the Bible truth. Jesus himself taught that when we die, we sleep (Matthew 9:24; John 11:11-14). And this falls in line with the Old Testament teaching that we “wait” in the grave until the resurrection. When we die, we return to dust and await the second coming of Jesus when He will resurrect us and only then will he give us immortality. (1 Corinthians 15:53) 

There are two primary Bible verses that Christians use to try to prove the doctrine of immortality of the soul. The most popular one is the often misquoted Bible verse of 2 Corinthians 5:8—“To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” I have even heard evangelists and preachers whom I admire and respect who constantly misquote this verse. But those who have actually read that verse know it actually says: “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”  I too would rather be away from my body and be present with the Lord. But Scripture teaches that that won’t happen until after I’m resurrected by Jesus. 

The other Bible verse used is the description of the thief crucified alongside Jesus: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43) But again this verse is misunderstood. The Greek language has no punctuation marks. So Jesus could actually be saying: “Truly I say to you today…you will be with me in paradise.” Or better translated: “I’m telling you the truth today. After the resurrection you will live with me in paradise.”

2. Hell is a real place reserved of the unsaved where they will be tormented with fire forever.

If the Bible doesn’t teach immortality of the soul, then the doctrine of an everlasting, burning hell is false as well. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) The most well known Bible verse in the whole world. And yet so few people actually know what it is saying! 

There are only two options for us: One is to follow Jesus and gain eternal life at the resurrection. The other is to reject Jesus and ‘perish’. Perish means to be completely and eternally destroyed with nothing left! And when you learn the truth that we don’t have an immortal soul, then a forever burning hell really doesn’t makes sense. 

Now don’t misunderstand. At the resurrection the lost will be punished for their rejection of God and Jesus with “hell fire”, which Revelation chapters 19 and 20 describes as the “lake of fire”. But that fire will “burn them up” (Malachi 4:1) and they will die the “second death. (Revelation 21:8) And this agrees with what the prophet Daniel foretold long ago: “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2)

3. We will always be sinners saved by grace

This doctrine of Satan has been the ruin of many in the Christian church. It teaches that we have no choice but to sin every day in thought, word, and deed—that it is impossible for us not to sin. They teach that Paul in the seventh chapter of Romans is describing the normal Christian experience. But those who understand what Jesus and the apostles taught about sin believe that Paul would be horrified at such misinterpreting of his words! 

In the sixth chapter the apostle points out the absolute necessity of holy living: “Let not therefore sin reign in your mortal body that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness, unto God.” (vs. 11-13) We are not sinners saved by grace. When we become saved we are no longer sinners at all, but saints. And the Holy Sprit gives us the power to overcome sin. There is nowhere in any of the apostle Paul’s writings that he refers to converted believers as sinners. Paul clarifies this in Romans 6:14-15 when he writes: “For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law, but under grace? Certainly not!” 

And what do we do with 1 John 3:9? “Anyone born of God refuses to practice sin, because God’s seed abides in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”  Or 1 John 5:18? “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning…” That’s not to say that we won’t make bad decisions or make mistakes. I have made more than my share of bad decisions and mistakes, but it was always when I was making plans based on my own feelings and understanding, and not on what Scripture and God’s spirit was telling me.

The Holy Spirit, at conversion begins a cleansing process to clean up selfish motives that have been inspired by Satan. Thus the spirit of God leads the convert to hate and turn from all sin. A sincere and careful study of all Scriptures related to the “new birth” reveals that the spirit of God, by divine persuasion, produces the change known as the “new birth” whereby a sinner becomes a saint—a child of the devil becomes a child of God and chooses to no longer sin. 

4. Because we are now under grace we no longer need to obey the commandments in the Old Testament 

One of the most absurd of all false teachings that the Christian church adapted from the Catholic church is to teach that we are no longer required to keep God’s commandments. Jesus himself said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)

Many teach that Jesus “accomplished everything” at his resurrection and so did away with the Old Testament Law, but the only thing that Jesus accomplished at his death and resurrection was to do away with the sacrificial and ceremonial laws and make a way for God to forgive us of our sin and have eternal life with him. Everything will not be “accomplished” until Jesus returns and sets up God’s kingdom on earth. 

Jews only?

Many are taught that all of the Old Testament laws are for the Jews only. And that the Feast Days commanded by God are “Jewish only” holidays. But are they? Anyone who reads Leviticus 23 will see that all of the Feast Days are “God’s appointed feasts”—not Jewish only holidays. In fact when God instructed Moses about His Feast Days and Sabbaths, there were no Jews yet! There was also a mixed multitude (people other than the Hebrews) that left Egypt with them. So everyone who is descended from that original “mixed multitude” are still obligated to fulfill God’s commands. “The same law shall apply to both the native and the foreigner who resides among you.” (Exodus 12:49) And if that wasn’t clear enough for you: “The assembly is to have the same statute for both you and the foreign resident; it is a permanent statute for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the LORD.” (Numbers 15:15) 

Only God could arrange things so that all of the generations scattered throughout all the nations who love Him would obey His commandments!

So who changed things?

In the early days of the Catholic church some priests decided to do away with God’s Feast Days and Sabbaths and replace them with traditional holidays of man. And the Christian church blindly followed along. Those who refused the edict of the Catholic church were tortured, burned at the stake or skinned alive! 

Many today use Amos 5:21 and Galatians 4:10 as proof that God did away with observing Feast Days. But Galatians 4:10 is about people who were observing the Feast Days as a legalistic requirement for salvation. And Amos 5:21 is referring to pagan feasts that God’s people were involved with. Note that God does not call them “My” feasts, as in Leviticus 23, but calls them “your” feasts. 

These same people will quote Acts 15:19-21 to try to prove that we don’t need to observe God’s laws anymore: “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not cause trouble for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood. For Moses has been proclaimed in every city from ancient times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

But Christians misunderstand the apostles reasoning. The apostles suggested these limited rules because they knew that the non-Jewish converts would hear God’s laws and precepts discussed every Sabbath in the synagogues. Just as a new convert to Christianity is not expected to follow all of the rules and doctrines of churches immediately after conversion, the four prohibitions seem to have been a temporary arrangement. The Jew was not to require his non-Jewish brothers the yoke of all of God’s laws immediately, but to come to learn that which was acceptable to God in the synagog every Sabbath. 

The New Testament shows that the first-century Christian Church continued to observe God’s Feast Days and Sabbaths. Jesus Himself observed them, and we, as His followers, are told to walk as He walked—to live as He lived. (John 7:8-14; 1 John 2:6) The apostle Paul reminded the early Church believers to “Follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1-16; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6) The apostles in Acts 2:1-4 miraculously began their ministry on one of these annual festivals—the day of Pentecost or Shavuot, is God’s command to count 50 days from Passover. (Leviticus 23:15-16) And the apostles and disciples of the early Church continued to observe these festivals long after Jesus’ death and resurrection because they knew that Messiah was represented in every one of God’s Feast days. (See Acts 18:21; Acts 20:16; Acts 27:9; 1 Corinthians 5:8) 

Many Christians teach that Jesus gave us a new commandment: that we love one another. (John 13:34) But that didn’t mean it replaced God’s commandments. It wasn’t a new commandment as much as it expounded on  God’s original commandment from the beginning. (Leviticus 19:18; 2 John 1:6) 

Our Constitution is very much like God’s commandments in that they were both written in such a way so that they can never be changed. And like God’s commandments, although there can be additions to the Constitution, they will never change the original laws of the Constitution that afford us our freedom.

Listen, God has never changed. Neither has His commandments ever changed. (Malachi 3:6; Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 54:10; Psalm 89:34; Hebrews 1:12) So why is it that most churchgoers have never observed these things? Why don’t today’s Christian churches teach them? Because they all been deceived by the edicts of the Catholic church. For it was the early Catholic church who rejected God’s Feast Days and Sabbaths and replaced them with their own traditional holidays: Christmas, Easter, Lent, etc. And the Christian churches blindly went along with it.

Even though Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation had the intent of returning to the Christianity of the New Testament, (And succeeded in restoring some biblical concepts) it continued in much of Roman ideology and even introduced new problems. For all the talk of following Scripture alone, faith alone and grace alone, it certainly did not return to the faith and practice of the early Christians. 

Christian, the hour is getting late! It is time for us to repent, turn back to God and obey His commandments! Do not reject the holy words of God. Why would God give us commandments that He knew we couldn’t obey? He wouldn’t! “For this commandment I give you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach…” (Deuteronomy 30:1) 

“By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” ( 1 John 5:2-3) 

I used to believe the same way that other Christians do. And as long as stayed in their lane and believed in the church’s teachings and man’s traditional holidays I enjoyed the fellowship of other Christians. But as soon as I got out of their lane and spoke what God revealed to me through Scripture and by His spirit, I was considered a legalist, a heretic, and even a racist by professing Christians—Simply because I spoke God’s truth from Scripture. And now those same Christian “friends” no longer want anything to do with me. And they refuse to even examine the Scriptures to see if I’m wrong. Do not misunderstand me, as so many others have. This is not about working to gain salvation through the Law. This is about obeying God because we love Him. 

But many Christians today do not see this because they have been deceived and therefore don’t know the truth. (And don’t want to know the truth) They have become worldly. That’s not to say that they are not saved. But just as the apostle Paul wrote: “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual, but as worldly—as infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for solid food. In fact, you are still not ready, for you are still worldly,(Living with jealousies, dissensions, and hatefulness)  See: 1 Corinthians 3:1-15

When my children were young they obeyed my rules. Not because they thought that I would love them more if they obeyed, or that they thought that I would love them less if they disobeyed. But because they loved me, they obeyed my rules. It’s the same with God. We don’t obey His commandments because we think He will love us more if we obey Him, or afraid that He will love us less if we disobey, but because we love Him we obey His commandments.  (2 John 1:6) 

Throughout Scripture we see that God’s prophets, Jesus, the apostles and the believers of the early Church were all despised by the religious people of their day. Why? Because they obeyed God and His commandments, and taught others to do the same. So I guess I’m in good company. 

The question that I constantly ask, but never get an answer to is, “If Jesus’ death and resurrection did away with  keeping the Sabbath and observing God’s Feast Days, were the apostles and the early Church wrong?” 

I challenge everyone reading this to prayerfully search the Scriptures and see for yourselves.

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them…Have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5) 

Remember: “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who disobey the gospel of God? And, if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:17-18) 

Warning! This may be offensive to some.

John Hyde, Willam Booth, John Knox, Sam Shoemaker, Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, Keith Green. These were all men of God who were concerned with people’s souls and the sins within the Church. They all preached boldly on the subject of repentance and revival in the Church. 

They were drastic, radical and at times offensive. They shocked some and frightened and alienated others. Many considered them too extreme or legalistic and at times even heretical. But each one of them knew what God had called them to do. 

John Hyde prayed more than 400 people into God’s kingdom. One of his biographers spoke of the holy power generated in Hyde’s prayer closet. He said that to be near Hyde when he prayed was to hear the sighing and the groaning, and to see tears coursing down his dear face, to see his frame weakened by food-less days and sleepless nights, shaken by sobs as he pleaded, “O God give me souls or I die.”

John Knox is known for his prayer “Give me Scotland, or I die.” Knox’s prayer was not an arrogant demand, but the passionate plea of a man willing to die for the sake of the pure preaching of the gospel and the salvation of his countrymen. 

The apostle Paul wrote: “I have deep sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my own flesh and blood, the people of Israel…” (Romans 9: 3-4) 

William Booth was a remarkable man, who was given the title “The Prophet of the Poor.” He had a passion to save men’s souls. He was a man born into poverty and who worked in the midst of poverty his whole life. His life could be summed up in his own statement, “Some men’s passion is for gold. Some men’s passion is for art. Some men’s passion is for fame. My passion is for souls.” 

What is to become of us now that their voices have been silenced in the grave and there is no one willing to take up their mantle? We owe it to these men to seek the truth from God’s Word—not the preacher’s truth, not the evangelist’s truth, nor the truth of the best selling Christian author, but God’s truth found in the Bible! 

Where are the bold men of God today? Why is there no real spiritual growth in the Church today? Why is there no true revival in the Church today? Because most Christians today don’t want it! There is no travailing over the lost. No crying out to God to send revival. 

What kind of salvation do you have when you go out dancing, drinking and sinning like the people of the world on Friday and Saturday night and then go to a church service on Sunday morning, holding up hands and singing praises to God?  As believers and followers of Christ we are to be set apart from the world and its activities. If we act and speak the same way the world does, how will they know that we are different?  

What do the Scriptures say? “As obedient children, do not conform to the passions of your former ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do…” (1 Peter 1:14-15) We are not to conform to the world, (Romans 12:2) but we are to encourage the world to conform to God’s will. But how can we teach them what we don’t know ourselves?

Christian, you have been deceived into believing the lies told to you from the pulpit, from Christian radio, and from your favorite televangelist—What the apostle Paul calls teachers who will tell you whatever your itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3)

The Bible makes clear what is true and what God requires of His followers. Here are just a few things that the Church has mistakenly (or purposely) taught as Bible truth and what the Bible actually teaches. Please note that these have nothing to do with salvation. Only what the Bible teaches is our obligation to God’s truths.

Natural immortality

The belief that the moment a person dies their souls are immediately ushered into heaven to live in eternity with Jesus and God, or immediately ushered into a burning hell to be tortured for all eternity.

Every mention of the word ‘hell’ in Scripture refers to “the ground’ or “the grave’. The only exception is when the Bible refers to the “Lake of Fire”. This is not to be confused with “Gehenna”, which is an actual valley in the city of Jerusalem. In Israel’s past, it was used as a place of child sacrifice to pagan gods. From the reign of Josiah onward, it was used only as a garbage dump where the fires burned the refuse continuously. Jesus used it only as an illustration of the final judgment of the wicked.  

There is no one in a burning hell. There is no Lake of fire burning…yet. And the only ones living in heaven right now is God, Jesus, the angels, and possibly Elijah and Enoch. In apostle Peter’s dissertation in Acts 2 he said, “Brothers, I can tell you with confidence that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” Now king David was a prophet who was a “man after God’s own heart.” So if he didn’t go to heaven when he died, where did he go? Nowhere! He’s still in his grave. Along with everyone else who has died since. 

I have heard many people—even evangelists that I respect, misquote 2 Corinthians 5:8 in order to prove their belief in natural immortality. They misquote it as: “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” What the apostle actually said was: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” Some version read, “prefer to be with the Lord.” I too would prefer to be with the Lord. Unfortunately that will not happen until the resurrection. 

I understand that it’s a romantic notion that our loved ones who have passed away are looking down from heaven and watching over us. But how could they be able to enjoy their eternity if they have to constantly witness their loved ones being beaten, murdered, robbed or raped? The Bible clearly teaches that we who have died will remain in our graves until God resurrects us on the Last Day. (Daniel 12:1-2)

We no longer have to obey Old Testament Law

I have heard so many Christians tell me that Jesus’ sacrifice did away with God’s Laws and we are no longer under the Law but under grace. Matthew 5:17 is the scripture that most Christians quote in order to show that Jesus did away with the Law. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” They say, “See? Jesus fulfilled the Law when he died on the cross.”

But does this make any sense? Why would Jesus destroy the Law and still command the apostles to keep them? We need to read verse 18 where Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” 

Was everything accomplished? Does heaven and earth still exist? Yes! Has everything in God’s plan been accomplished? No! That won’t happen until Jesus returns and sets up his kingdom on the new earth. So then is the Law of God still in effect? Yes! Jesus says it is. Jesus continues to explain God’s laws and commandments in verse 19: “Anyone who breaks one of  the  least of these commandments and  teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” 

What Jesus fulfilled by sacrificing himself on the execution stake was to make a way for humanity to be saved by grace. God took His judgment against us and placed it onto His son. That’s why Jesus is called the Sacrificial Lamb of God. The only Laws that Jesus did away with was the Ceremonial and Sacrificial Laws. And he did this before the destruction of the Temple.

Think about it; if Jesus did away with all of God’s Laws, was the apostles and the early Church wrong to continue to observe them? (Acts 18:21; Acts 20:16) Many Christians today use Colossians 2:16-17 to support their belief that we should not observe the “Jewish” Holy Days: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Paul was not saying not to observe these things. He was saying don’t let others pass judgement on you when you do them. 

Christians also mistakingly believe that in Galatians 4:10 Paul was referring to God’s Feast Days. No! He referring to pagan practices and astrological superstitions, which are also condemned in Deuteronomy 18:10-14.

Many Christians today believe and teach that the Sabbaths and Feast Days are for only the Jews. But several times in Leviticus 23 God told Moses that they are God’s Sabbaths and God’s Feast Days. In fact, God went so far as to say that the same law for the Hebrews applied to the foreigner who resided with them. God was referring to the mixed multitude that traveled with them from Egypt. 

God gave us His Laws because He loves us and wants us to be set apart for Him. And we can show Him how much we love Him by obeying His commandments. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves those born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome, because everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith.” (1 John 5: 1-4) “By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments. If anyone says, “I know Him,” but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him: Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2: 3-6) God gave us 613 commandments but sadly, most refuse to obey even 10, or 5 or 2!

The Rapture

This is another belief that is taught that could have detrimental consequences for uninformed Christians who don’t study God’s Word. The apostle Paul wrote: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15: 51-53)  

This will not occur until the last trumpet sounds. So then what happens during the first six trumpets? The answer is in Revelation 8 through 11. And during this time all believers are still on earth! We will not be changed or resurrected until the last trumpet is sounded. 

So when will the end come? “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition…” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 NKG) Some versions read; “…until the apostasy shall have come first…” or “the great rebellion”. 

We need to ask ourselves, “What would make so many believers turn from the faith?” Is it possible it’s because many Christians used the “Rapture” as one of the cornerstones of their faith? And when it didn’t happen they turned against God? In Matthew 24 Jesus warns us ahead of time that in the last days false prophets and false Messiahs will arise and deceive even the elect. And if those days were not shortened no one would be saved. But for our sake those days will be shortened.

I write all of these things not to frighten you or upset you. But simply to warn you and encourage you—No, challenge you; to seek God now with all your heart, soul, mind and strength while you still can. Search diligently through the Scriptures, asking God to reveal His truths by His spirit so that you may “present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Most importantly pray. Pray that God will send true revival to His Church. We are living in dark times. And our only hope for our country and this world is if God sends us a great awakening—A true spirit sent revival. We must pray and fast, and weep and mourn for the Church to repent of its wickedness. Only then can God hear from heaven and heal our land.

Whenever we enter into communion with God, we should have a sense of the infinite distance between us and the holy God. How shall we, that are but dust and ashes, speak to the Lord of glory? Nothing is more likely, nothing more effectual to revive the drooping spirits of the saints, than to be assured of God’s love to them. From the very first day we begin to look to God, He is ready to meet us in the way of mercy. Thus God is ready and willing to hear our prayers. While Satan and his angels, and his evil counsellors, excite princes in high places to do mischief against the Church, we can rejoice and trust that God will answer our prayer from the moment we pray—but just like the prophet Daniel, all of God’s mighty angels battle against our enemies from the first day we pray. 

Lord God, teach us to pray and be faithful to your word. And send us revival now! 

Amen!

My wife and I had the privilege of sharing Passover with our granddaughter last night. 

Passover (Pesach in Hebrew) commemorates the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt after suffering over 400 years of slavery. Passover is regarded by many  Christians as a “Jewish only” celebration. Some even claim that Yeshua (Jesus) and his disciples didn’t observe the Passover—even though it states in Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:8, and John 13:1 that they did! 

So why should Christians observe the biblical feasts? My answer has always been this: We don’t HAVE to observe the feasts—we GET to observe them. But the most important reason for us to observe Passover and all the feasts is that God told us to. We show our love for God by doing what He says. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.” (1 John 5:2)  

In Exodus 12:38 we read that there was also a “mixed multitude” that left Egypt with the Hebrews. They were possibly Egyptians who followed them because of the miracles they witnessed, or were from other countries that the Egyptians conquered and forced some of the people into slavery.

We also need to remember that there were many members of  the 12 different tribes of Israel that left Egypt at the time of the Exodus. Not just Jews. (or the tribe of Judah) You see, every Jew is an Israelite, but not every Israelite is a Jew. And every one of us are descendants of those who belonged to one of the mixed multitude that God told Moses that, “The same law shall apply to the native ‘Hebrew’ as to the stranger.” (or non-Jew) And in Exodus 12:48-49 we read that “The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger (or non-Jew) who sojourns among you.” 

Yeshua said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, (The smallest letter in the Hebrew language) will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5: 17-20) Many Christians claim that everything was accomplished when Yeshua  was crucified and raised from the dead and that all the Old Testament laws were done away with. The only thing that Yeshua’s crucifixion and resurrection did away with was the sacrificial and ceremonial laws—since he was the ultimate sacrificial Lamb of God. But EVERYTHING will not be accomplished until AFTER Yeshua returns and sets up God’s kingdom and government on earth. 

Yeshua also said “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.” (John 5:46) Why would we want to miss out on something that Yeshua said points to him? Besides, throughout the Scriptures we are told that the Passover and other Feast Days and Sabbaths are not Jewish Feast Days and Sabbaths. They are GOD’S. And God said that they are a  permanent statute wherever we live for the generations to come. ( See Exodus 12:14-28; Leviticus 16:29) 

I am amazed that so many Christian pastors and Bible teachers can spend years and years studying in Bible colleges and seminaries and STILL refuse to see this in the Scriptures. And worse yet, refuse to teach God’s truth to their followers! Not only have they rejected God’s Feats Days, but they have replaced them with traditional holy days of man such as Good Friday, Lent, Ash Wednesday, Easter and Christmas—which none of Yeshua’s disciples, the apostles, or any of the early Church ever observed.  

Remember Yeshua, in verse 20 of Matthew 5 said, “…So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” All my life I have been considered to be least here on earth. I don’t know about you, but I want to be considered great in kingdom of heaven.

The special foods we eat on Passover not only reminds us of the Exodus, but also helps us to focus on God’s love for us. But what many don’t recognize is that every thing in the Passover Seder, and in fact, all of God’s feasts, points to Messiah.  

Remember the words of the apostle John: “By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments. If anyone says, I know Him, but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him: Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2:3-6) 

“By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome…” (1 John 5: 2-3)

Observing God’s Feast Days and Sabbaths and obeying God’s commandments has nothing to do with salvation. It has to do with obedience to God out of our love for Him. When my children were young they obeyed my rules. Not because they thought I would love them more if they obeyed me, or afraid that I would love them less if they disobeyed. But BECAUSE they loved me, they obeyed my rules. 

And in the same way, we don’t obey God’s commandments because we think He will love us more or that we can work our way into salvation. But BECAUSE we love Him we obey His commandments.

At the end of our Passover seder we pray this blessing: 

“Blessed are You Lord G-d king of the universe, for the produce of the field, and for the precious, good and spacious land, to eat of its fruit and be satisfied by its goodness. Have mercy, Lord our G-d, on your people, Send us your New Jerusalem, your holy city, in our days, and we will rejoice in it and bless you in holiness and purity. And remember us for good on this day of the Festival of Matzot. 

And we all end by saying: NEXT YEAR IN NEW JERUSALEM! AMEN!

There has been a dangerous shift in God’s Church recently that should disturb anyone who profess to be Christians. Those who have believed and followed the teachings of the Bible for years are now refusing to acknowledge sin. 

In fact, I have witnessed many who actually support those who are living a sinful lifestyle—and even question if their actions are sinful even at all! And these are not new converts who are ignorant of the Scriptures. They are people who have lived godly lives for years—and even taught others the Bible truths that they now claim are not relevant anymore! 

Words we hear a lot of Christians use these days is tolerance and love. They are both good words, but we have applied them too often, where they don’t belong. What has been the result? Murders and violence plaguing our schools and cities, physical, emotional and sexual abuse of millions of children, corruption in businesses and politics, human trafficking and genocide. 

Just like much of the evils in the world, it began oh so subtly. First we invited unsaved people to attend our church services. Not only do we invite them to church, but we go out of our way to make them feel welcome and try not to offend or upset them by calling out their sin. Maybe even go the extra step of making the unbeliever part of your church family by allowing them to work in the nursery or teach a Sunday school class. Then before you know it they’re preaching their lies from the pulpit. 

What’s most concerning is that churches today have altered how they conduct Sunday services and how they market to attract unsaved people to an event they weren’t biblically meant to attend in the first place. The unsaved are not ready to experience what churches are supposed to offer. They’re not ready to hear the truth from God’s Word, the Bible. So churches attempt to accommodate them with worldly influences. Many church services today resemble a rock concert atmosphere more than a place of worship and discipleship. God told Peter, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” But churches today have called clean what God has called unclean! 

In being so tolerant toward sin, churches today have become more like those they once preached against. Remember the words of the apostle Paul: “Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good character. Sober up as you ought, and stop sinning; for some of you are ignorant of God. I say this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34)

In some things Jesus was the most tolerant, loving man who ever lived, but by today’s standards, Jesus would be considered one of the most intolerant, narrow-minded and unloving people. Many bring up the fact that Jesus dined with drunkards, prostitutes and other sinful people. But they neglect to acknowledge that he was the most intolerant  and narrow-minded when it came to obeying God.

Jesus was tolerant toward the sinner, but intolerant toward the evil that enslaves the sinner. To the woman caught in the act of adultery He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:11) He forgave her because he loved her, but he condemned her sin because he loathed it with a holy hatred. As Christians, there are certain things that we should be intolerant about too. Jesus was so intolerant toward sin that he turned over the merchant’s and money changer’s tables in the temple and called out the hypocrisy of the priests. And in the end he sacrificed his own life in order to free us from the power of sin. 

The Hebrew and Greek words translated “sin” throughout the Bible revolve largely around two major concepts. The first is that of transgression. To transgress means “to step across” or “to go beyond a set boundary or limit.” Most of the other words translated “sin” in the Bible involve a second concept, “to miss the mark.” 

Both of these concepts translate the idea of failing to measure up to a standard. Academic and athletic courses and tests are graded or judged according to a minimum standard. If we don’t meet that standard, we fail that test or course. 

This is where the biblical definitions of sin become important, because Scriptures define the boundaries and standards God set for us and on how we are to live our lives. The definitions of sin in the Bible are not simply arbitrary dos and don’ts. Instead, they show us the way God lives and the spiritual principles by which He lives—The same standard of conduct He expects His human creations to live by. 

What, then, are the boundaries and standards God has set for us that define sin? The most basic definition of sin is in 1 John 3:4: “Whoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” Here God defines a boundary for mankind. He says that sin is transgressing His holy, spiritual law (Romans 7:12-14). God’s laws are good. The problem is with us. Breaking that law—crossing that divine boundary, that God has set for us—is sin. 

Just as a good parent shows their love to their children by establishing rules for them, God gave humanity His laws to show us His way of love toward us. Those laws also define how we demonstrate our love to God and our fellowman. (Deuteronomy 30:15-16; Matthew 22:35-40; 1 John 5:3) Sin is in violation of that law of love. God showed us a way to live in peace and harmony with Him and with mankind and defined this way of life by His law. When we violate or transgress that boundary and break God’s law, God defines it as sin. It boils down to whose will is most important in our lives. Is it our will, doing what we want to do? Or is it God’s will, doing what He thinks is most important? 

Revelation chapters 2 & 3 gives us an insight of what Jesus thinks of sin and what happens when God’s people refuse to repent. The question every Christian should ask themselves is, “What church do I belong to?”

The solution for the Church today is simple, but not an easy one. John Bunyan’s classic, “Pilgrim’s Progress” explains the hardships,  trials and temptations the Christian life can be. I have learned that whenever you speak God’s truth to people you will risk being looked at as the enemy. Even from other Christians. But in the end, it will be well worth it.

Shavuot 2019 (pronounced SHävo͞oˈōt) will begin in the evening of Saturday, June 8 and ends in the evening of Monday, June 10. In ancient Israel various herbs and legumes were harvested in spring, but the most important spring crops were cereals—barley and wheat. A spring ritual took particular note of the cereals: Newly harvested grain could not be eaten until the first fruits of grain had been offered on the day after the sabbath of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. (Leviticus 23:9-14) Shavuot, near the end of the grain harvest, included grain and loaf offerings. (verses 16-17) Shavuot was also called “the Feast of Harvest” (Exodus 23:16).

Although Shavuot began as an ancient grain harvest festival, the holiday has been identified since biblical times with the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. It is customary for modern Jews to decorate their homes with greens and fresh flowers on Shavuot as a reminder of the spring harvest and the ancient ritual of bringing the first fruits to the Temple. Many Jews prepare and eat dairy foods (often cheesecake or blintzes) on Shavuot as a reminder of the sweetness of Torah.

Many people stay up all night studying Torah on the evening of Shavuot. This custom evolved from the story that says that when Moses went up Sinai to receive God’s laws many of the Israelites fell asleep and had to be awakened by Moses. As a result, many modern Jews stay up all night to study and celebrate receiving the Torah. Interestingly, when Jesus went away to pray in Gethsemane, his disciples also fell asleep and had to be awakened. So to honor our Messiah we too, may want to stay up at night reading Scripture. 

Traditionally, the Book of Ruth is read during services in synagogues on Shavuot. Ruth was a young Moabite woman who married an Israelite man. The Bible refers to both the Moabites and Ammonites as Lot’s sons, born of incest with his daughters. (Genesis 19:30-38) When Ruth’s husband died, she followed her mother-in-law, Naomi and adopted her Hebrew faith and her people as her own. (Ruth 1:16–17) To feed herself and Naomi, she gleaned in the field of Boaz, a rich man. Boaz is taken with her, and eventually they marry. Among their descendants is the famed King David. Ruth (a non-Jew) should be considered an example for all Christians to accept and obey the Torah as God’s holy instructions, just as the Israelites did at Mt. Sinai. 

In Exodus 19:1 we read that the Israelites came to the foot of Mount Sinai in the third month. The third month after the Exodus is Sivan; since this was also the month of Shavuot, the rabbis deduced that God gave the Torah on Shavuot. Today, it is widely accepted that the Torah was given by God to the Hebrew  people on Shavuot. In this sense, every year on the holiday of Shavuot the Jewish people see themselves as renewing this experience. We too can use Shavuot to renew our acceptance of the Torah and observe all that He commanded. 

We need to understand that although God had given the Torah to the Hebrew people, (Israelites) this also included the mixed multitude that left Egypt with them. (Exodus 12:37-38) It is possible that many of these Egyptians were the offspring of Egyptian task masters who had relations with Hebrew slaves. Just as many of the slaveowners (such as Thomas Jefferson) did in America’s history. The Hebrews of the Exodus did not become Jews until after the kingdom was divided into two, with 10 tribes in the northern kingdom of Israel and two in the southern kingdom of Judah. (1 Kings 12; 2 Chronicles 10) This means that all Jews are Israelites but not all Israelites are Jews.

How does this relate to us as Christians?

The Bible also says: “count fifty days”, which is why, in the New Testament, the name for the holiday is usually translated as “Pentecost”. Shavuot and Pentecost are actually two different names for the same Festival. Therefore, the events of the first two chapters of the book of Acts must be seen against this biblical background. For instance, when in Acts 1:4 Jesus commanded his disciples not to depart from Jerusalem, we would better understand this command if we remember that Shavuot is one of the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals, when all Israelites were expected to be in Jerusalem: “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place that He will choose: at the festival of unleavened bread, at the festival of weeks, and at the festival of booths.” (Deut. 16:16) Many Jews and non-Jews alike describe these as Jewish only celebrations. But Leviticus 23 makes it plain that these are God’s feast days: “Then the LORD said to Moses, Speak to the Israelites and say to them, ‘These are My appointed feasts, the feasts of the LORD that you will proclaim as sacred assemblies.” (vs. 1 & 2) 

Remember  that mixed multitude that traveled with the Hebrews on their Exodus? Concerning His feast days God proclaimed to them, “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.” (Exodus 12:14)  And in case it wasn’t clear enough God also said, “The same law shall apply to both the native and the foreigner who resides among you.” (v. 49)

Preparing for the Holiday

The Bible teaches that the Israelites had three days to prepare to receive the Torah at Mount Sinai. To ready themselves for the momentous occasion, they were instructed to wash their clothes and to stay ritually pure. (Exodus 19:10-11) By recalling those three days, today we can use the three days before Shavuot to prepare ourselves personally and spiritually, as a family, and as a community to re-experience this life-changing event.

Shavuot in the New Testament

In Acts 2 we read, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.”  (Acts 2:1-3) 

We  have to remember  that the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot) forms the background of this event and that by the first century the festival was already associated with the covenant made with Moses. We would then understand that it was certainly no coincidence that the descending of God’s Spirit is described on the day of Pentecost, and we would be able to see these beautiful and profound parallels between God giving His Torah and giving His Spirit. On both occasions, Shavuot becomes the day when Heaven is opened and God Himself claims His people. 

The “noise like a violent storm” in Acts 2 definitely echoes the thundering and the fire of Exodus 20:18. It seems that Luke consciously builds these parallels and describes the events of Acts 2 in terms of a “second Sinai”, thus, Jesus’ command to the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem might also be understood as a hint that, as God’s Torah was given on Shavuot, God’s Spirit was also given on Shavuot. 

The Christian version of Pentecost

Today, many Christians are taught that Pentecost was the day that the Church was born. But if Pentecost was the birth of the Church, why did Peter not include Gentiles in his message? Why did Peter not mention the cross, salvation through the blood of Christ, or forgiveness of sins based upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ? Why did he not offer salvation by faith alone, apart from works? Why did he not say a word about the body of Christ? To press further, why did Peter or any of the Twelve ever mention the body of Christ? 

Because Peter didn’t know anything yet about God’s salvation based upon the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ—salvation by faith alone, or even the significance of the blood of Christ! Peter didn’t even know what Church was let alone the teachings associated with it. Peter only knew God’s prophetic, kingdom program. He only knew the prophecies of the prophets which Jesus had proclaimed throughout his earthly ministry. God had kept this revelation a secret until He revealed it to Paul. (Ephesians 3.1-7) The term ‘Gentiles’ would be better translated ‘Goyim’—meaning non-Jew. Or someone outside the tribe of Judah. (Remember, all Jews are Israelites, but not all Israelites are Jews) The prophets reveal that the Goyim will be blessed through the Jews. (Zechariah 8:23)

The confusion continues

Great confusion has resulted from failure to understand that the events of Shavuot in Acts happened to believing Jews and Israelites—not to the Church. Because the Church did not exist yet! Another area of confusion has been the speaking in tongues. Some denominations and churches teach that believers are supposed to speak in tongues as proof that they “have the Holy Spirit” because that was the evidence experienced by Peter and the other followers in the upper room. Some even claim that a person cannot even be saved until they speak in tongues! 

Lastly, we should note that when one is saved by believing Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 15.1-4) he is immediately baptized by God’s Holy Spirit into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12.12-13). This baptism has no sign—such as speaking in tongues. The gift of tongues all but ceased long ago, and one day will be done away with completely. (1 Corinthians 13.8) But even when they operated in the Church, they were not a sign for believers but for unbelievers. (1 Corinthians 14.22)

The Scriptures indicate clearly that the Church—the body of Christ, did not begin at Pentecost. Pentecost is one of God’s feast days and is still in effect today. God had never revealed or even hinted that His feast days were only for Jews, that they would ever end, or that the Church would replace the Israelites as the new body of Christ. What He had revealed was that Goyim would be blessed through the Jews. The Church was merely the method God used to bring us all—Jew and non-Jew alike, to the knowledge of His saving grace through His son, Yeshua Ha’Mashiach. 

And I long for the day that we will all worship him around the throne of God!

Passover is regarded as a “Jewish only” celebration by many Christians. But is it? 

Jesus said “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for He wrote of me.” (John 5:46)  Throughout the Scriptures we are told that the Passover and other Feast Days are “the LORD’S feasts”. Not just the Jewish feasts or feasts of the Jews. Jesus also said: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, (The smallest letter in the Hebrew language) will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5: 17-20) 

Many Christians believe that everything was accomplished when Jesus was crucified because before he died he said, “It is finished.” He said that because everything that God had asked him to do he finished. But EVERYTHING will not be accomplished until the new heaven and new earth are created and God will dwell physically with mankind. (Revelation 21: 1-4)

God told Moses, “These are the LORD’s appointed feasts, (Not the Jewish feasts) the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times. The Passover to the LORD begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. On the fifteenth day of the same month begins the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD. For seven days you must eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall hold a sacred assembly; you are not to do any ordinary work. For seven days you are to present an offering made by fire to the LORD. On the seventh day there shall be a sacred assembly; you must not do any ordinary work.” (Leviticus 23: 4-8) *See also Exodus 12:14-28; Numbers 28:16-25; Deuteronomy 16:1-8 

God also told Moses concerning the “mixed multitude” that joined the Israelites in the Exodus, “If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. There shall be lone law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (Exodus 12:43-49)

Christians should realize that everything in the feasts all point to the Messiah (Jesus).

I have no problem with Christians who want to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus. I don’t even mind if they call this commemoration Easter. But what I don’t understand is how those who profess to be Bible believing, God loving, Jesus following, Christians can reject God’s command to observe HIS feast days while replacing them with man’s traditional, non-biblical celebrations that include the Easter Bunny, Easter egg hunts and dressing up in fine clothes to be noticed by others. 

Here’s something to think about: Knowing that Jesus was a practicing Jew, I wonder how many would invite him to join you at your Easter dinner that includes the traditional Easter ham? 

Here’s wishing you a blessed Passover and Resurrection celebration.  

What does the word ‘Christian’ mean to you?

Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wujVMIYzYXg

Jesus said that a house divided can not stand. But Christians are sometimes divided over issues that are not central to the Bible’s teachings. The Body of Christ should not be divided against itself, yet many times we are attacking each other over any belief that differs from our own. Jesus told us that the world would know we are his disciples by the love we have for one another—not how well we argue our point toward one another other. (John 13:35) 

When Christians insult other Christians

Whenever Christians use any political figure, party, or ideology as an excuse to objectify, insult, humiliate or dehumanize another brother or sister in Christ, we fail to live up to our discipleship. Remember, the world is watching (And reading our posts). How then can they know that as Christians we are different from their worldly mindset if we act the same way as the world does? That is exactly what Satan delights in. What do you think Jesus thinks of us when he sees us fighting over issues that are not essential to our own salvation—and then tell others about how we were changed by the love of Christ?

The Apostle John spelled it out clearly, leaving no room for doubt about who are Christ’s: “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” (I John 4:20 NLT) If we are constantly insulting other believers, then the love of God is not indwelling in us. And if anyone uses hateful language against their brother or sister because of their beliefs, then the love God is not in them. In I John 1:6, John is saying that we are being a hypocrite if we say that we are in fellowship with God and yet treat our fellow Christians like enemies: “If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.”  

Jesus commanded us to pray for our enemies. How much more then should we be praying for other believers and loving one another instead of arguing and insulting one another?

“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” (Colossians 3:5-8) 

Don’t just tell people you’re a Christian—Live like one

“…But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” (James 1:22-27) 

If we went before a congregation and repeated a “sinner’s prayer” and listened to a sermon every day of the week by an angel from heaven, yet relied on hearing the word only, it would never bring us to heaven. Hearers of the word only are self-deceivers; and in the end, self-deceit will be the worst deceit of all. It is not what we hear, but how we live before men, that will bring us into heaven. And then Jesus will become even more precious to our soul and make us more fitted for the inheritance that awaits us in paradise.

Remember: Judgment is to begin with the household of God. And, if the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners? (1 Peter 4:17-18)

I write this in the hope that God’s people will repent of their wickedness, turn back to God and obey His word. I pray that I will see it in my lifetime.