God’s Calendar and the Feast of Trumpets!

Did you know that God has a calendar?  Did you know that He is still following it?  It really saddens me, though, that most of Christianity has thrown out His calendar, and in doing so, they miss out on some of the beauty and richness and grace of God and His word.

What is this calendar?  Well, it isn’t a secret.  It is written about quite a bit in both the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ testaments.  The calendar is marked by special occasions throughout the year.   They are often called the “Jewish Feasts” but that isn’t what God calls them.  He calls them His “appointed times” (this is the clear meaning of the Hebrew word used in the “old testament” when the ‘feasts’ are referred to.)

I know that many in Christianity will say that the feasts no longer apply as Jesus fulfilled them, but even the “new testament” proves that statement false.  Yeshua (Jesus) himself said,

“For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass away until all is accomplished.”  Matthew 5:18 (ESV)

“Do this in in remembrance of me.” Luke 22:19 (ESV) – in context of celebrating the Passover.

There are many more verses showing Yeshua (Jesus) and the apostles (even Paul) celebrating the feasts.  However, this article isn’t about that.  It’s about the next feast in the yearly cycle, the ‘Feast of Trumpets’!

God’s year begins with Passover in early spring.  Then there are a couple more, then a couple months pause.  The feasts start up again near fall time, with the first in a short series being the ‘feast of trumpets’!  For this feast we are told, among a couple other things, to blow trumpets (or shout)!

Now, considering the fact that Yeshua (Jesus) did something appropriate on each of the earlier feasts (died on Passover; gave the holy spirit on Pentecost; – are two examples), it easily follows that this is the next feast where something should happen.  I wonder, if Paul wasn’t thinking of this when he wrote,

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God.”  1 Thessalonians 4:16 (ESV)

The feasts are the markers of God’s calendar, and give God’s timeline for things He has done and is yet to do!

And I must say that I am really looking forward to this coming Sunday night to Monday night (Sept. 9 to 10, 2018), which is the feast of Trumpets!  I get to take the day off work and celebrate!   In Judaism, the day is celebrated as the “Jewish New Year” and, being Jewish, I’ll celebrate that also, but that is just tradition.

I look forward to meeting God at his next ‘appointed time’, the ‘feast of trumpets,’ and hearing the shofar (ram’s horn).  And I look forward to hearing that heavenly shofar calling, announcing the end of all things!

Shalom!   – Yosef

Does God Take Anyone Back?

The reason I ask is because of Third Day. They are still among my favorite bands, yet as I listen and sing along with one of their songs I had to ask “is this true?”

The lyrics are line this:

how many times have I gone astray. The number is the same as the stars in the sky. Every time you’ve taken me back, I pray that you’ll do it tonight.

So, does God “take us back?”

As I think of redemption, and family, and the ways God relates himself to us, I don’t believe he does.

Think of the prodigal son. Was he taken back? Or did he simply recognize and return to whom he was. The father doesn’t say to his brother “we must take him back” but states “he has returned”.

That analogy, as with many other references and also the realization that when we are His we take his name, made me think of our redemption in terms of family. As family we are not “taken back,” for we cannot be removed. I think we recognize who we are and return. Maybe even from the dead. (Luke 15:32). Which kind of helps me understand baptism.

I will surely keep this question in my head as I read through the scripture and am open to have my mind changed on this subject, but as for now I think we go astray and return. He doesn’t take us back, but rejoices over our recognition of who we are.

Isaiah 55:6 (ESV) “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.

Thank you for your thoughts.

Shalom,

  • Bruce

 

How to Boil a Kid in its Mother’s Milk

Don’t get excited, ‘kid’ here means a baby goat.  And yes, people in ancient times would boil a kid in its mother’s milk.  Some scholars say that this was done by some ancients in the middle east in their worship of their gods.  Yehovah (the LORD) told the Israelites several times to not copy the nations’ practices in worship to Him.

“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” Deuteronomy 14:21 (ESV)

This command gave rise to Judaisms’ complex set of rules about dealing with meat and milk products.  They started with this command, and in their wish to not even accidentally break, or even appear to break, this command, fences upon fences were built around this command until it looks like what it does today, where dairy and meat products should (ideally) be stored in separate refrigerators and served on separate dishes, hours apart.  Silly you say?

Well, at the other end of the spectrum we have Christianity taking a simple command such as “don’t eat blood” and building theology upon theology upon it stating that any “Old Testament” laws are not to be followed as “we are not under law, but under grace.”

“Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do.  You shall not add to it or take from it.”  Deuteronomy 12:32 (ESV)

God is clear that He doesn’t want us to add to or take from His words.  Judaism loves to add to it (and I doubt any Christians out there will disagree with this, though Jews would), and Christianity loves to take away from His word (and I doubt any Jews would disagree with this, though Christians would vehemently disagree).

How do Christians take from His word?  Well, lets start with the command for not eating blood.  That is actually also found in the “New Testament” in a letter written to all Gentile churches (Acts 15:22-29).  The letter also mentions that you shouldn’t eat meat from a strangled animal.  (Ever hear either of these talked about during a sermon?)

[I’m not ‘bashing’ Christianity here, but there is a need to point out some facts.  I praise and thank God for my Christian brothers and sisters.]

Historically, Christianity started divesting itself of anything “Jewish”, including the “Law of God”.  This started as early as in the 2nd century AD.   Over the decades, this ‘divestment of all things Jewish’ went deeper and became thoroughly entrenched in Christian theology.  So much so that much of Christianity understands the apostle Paul’s comment about Christians “not being under law, but under grace” to mean that all “Old Testament” laws have been done away with (or fulfilled – the result is the same).

That is certainly ‘subtracting from’ God’s word in a big way.

Before wondering what, if any, of God’s “Law” is still to be followed today, first start following what Yeshua (Jesus) and the apostles said, including the “don’t eat blood” injunction.  And understand that the “Law of God” is not bad – even Paul states this.  But remember that Yeshua (Jesus) stated that “his burden is light and his yoke is easy.”  That saying is a Hebraism in reference to the “Law”  and following God.

Also, obedience to God is not to be misconstrued with being “under the law.”  Paul even refers to the anti-Christ as “the lawless one”.  2 Thessalonians 2:8-9.

“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”  Matthew 7:23 (ESV)

Yeshua (Jesus) said those words to apparent Christians.

So, be aware of adding to or taking away from God’s word, and don’t try a recipe for boiling a kid in its mother’s milk!

Shalom,

– Yosef

10 Commandments Series – 3: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.”

The third statement (commandment) is this:

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.”  Exodus 20:7 (ESV)

Okay, this begs the question, “What is His name?”  If you answered, “Lord”, “LORD”, “God”, “Adonai”, “Jesus”, “I am”, or a variety of other possibilities, then you aren’t correct.  God gives us His name in Exodus 3:16.  Unfortunately, English translations hide His name with the word “LORD”, and Christian English translations further confuse His name with “I AM”.

The word “LORD” is used to hide the Hebrew word that has the four letters, yud, hey, vav, and hey.  This is known as the ‘Tetragrammaton’ and is used over 6800 times in the Tanakh (“Old Testament”).  It is His name and basically means, “I was, I am, I will be”; an ‘impossible’ combination of past, present and future.   (On a funny note, the fact that Christianity chose to obscure His name by using “LORD” is showing that even though Christianity is, at its core, anti-Jewish, it copies some things Jewish).

Why is His name so hidden?  One reason is a literal understanding of this verse.  Over the decades and centuries, the Jews were using His name less and less so as to avoid accidentally using His name ‘in vain’.  As time went, His name was used less and less.

However, in the past, His name was used in greetings (see the book of Ruth) and in taking vows  (Deuteronomy 6:13), such as when saying, “as the LORD lives… .”

But what does it mean to take His name in vain?

One understanding is “don’t make His name common.”  In other words, don’t make His name a common word in your speech.  If you consider the word “God” or the name “Jesus Christ” to also be addressed by this command, then our culture’s prolific use of the two terms would be a perfect example of making a name common.

Another understanding in Jewish thought is that the command has to do with vows made unto Him.  It is an injunction to don’t make foolish, spur-of-the-moment vows to God, and be sure to fulfill the vows you do make.

“If you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay in fulfilling it, for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin.  But if you refrain from vowing, you will not be guilty of sin.”  Deuteronomy 23:21-22 (see also 23).

When we take a vow “unto the LORD”, God takes it seriously.

Even Yeshua (Jesus) refers to this.

“Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. … Let what you say be simply ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ anything more than this comes from evil.”  Matthew 5:34-37 (ESV)

So, before you ‘swear’ to do something (or not do something), think about this.  God takes such oaths very seriously.  Yeshua (Jesus) pointed out that it applies even when we don’t explicitly use His name!

Let your speech be always edifying of others, and stick with ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

Shalom,

  • Yosef

<- Previous     [10 Commandment Series]      Next ->

Misunderstood Tithing – Let’s Have a Party! Deuteronomy 14

Tithing.  An oft talked about topic.  An extensive topic.  So much so that many preachers won’t talk about it, and even more people don’t want to hear any more about it.  It’s funny that most of the “Old Testament” law is ignored (as either having been done away with or ‘fulfilled’), but tithing receives a huge amount of attention.  So I ask, is tithing being done properly (Biblically)?

Well, yes and no.  God does want us to give.  But give to what and for what purpose?

“…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.”  (ESV) Deut. 14:23

“And if the way is too long for you [the way to Jerusalem where the tithe was to be given], so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, … , then you shall turn it into money 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…”  (ESV) Deut. 14:24-27

“…you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce … And the Levite, …, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.” (ESV) Deut. 14:28-29.

There is more within those verses then just what I quoted, but I want to point out a couple interesting facts about the tithe.

First, part of it was to be used on one’s own little party.  And apologies to the teetotalers out there, but wine and strong drink were allowed!  (Note: I personally don’t drink for personal reasons, but using scripture to claim that one shouldn’t drink isn’t treating scripture correctly.)  Yep, a party before the LORD!

Granted that the ‘party’ was to take place at the “place of God’s choosing,” which became the Temple, but I still find it interesting that one’s own family was to share in the tithe.

Next, note the two reasons for tithing given in these passages: “that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always,” and, “that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”  To fear Him always and to enable blessing.  Two great reasons.

I also find it interesting that the tithe is not only for the Levites (for Christianity, this would probably be understood as pastors, priests, and teachers of ‘religion’), but also for those truly in need of sustenance – the foreigners, widows, orphans, and such!.

There is much more about tithing in scripture.  This post, however, is just to show that there is more to tithing then one learns in Sunday school (presumably).  It also shows a couple very good reasons to tithe.  And lastly, it shows that following God’s commands can be fun – even a party!  A party rejoicing for all that YHVH (the LORD) has given us!  So remember that the next time you are tithing.

Perhaps one of the reasons God asks us to ‘party’ before Him is in memory of one, in my opinion, of the oddest occurrences in scripture.  Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of the elders went up to Mount Sinai (nearby), and “they beheld God, and ate and drank.” (ESV) Exodus 24:9-11.  They saw God, heard the thundering and saw the lightnings, and what did they then do?  Ate and drank!  To me, that seems an odd response to an astounding event.  So, perhaps, we are to remember that, and the giving of the Law, when partying at the Temple with some of the tithe money.

Shalom!

– Yosef