My Joy in the Sabbath! 10 Commandments Series – 4: “Remember the Sabbath Day”

Yes, I enjoy the Sabbath.  I look forward to it each week.  I rest from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown.  As the Sabbath is a huge topic, there will be a couple posts about it.

We are told that we are made in God’s image, but what does it mean, “in His image?”  To me, the Sabbath encapsulates two aspects of what it means.

One reason God gives for us to observe the Sabbath is that He created all in 6 days and rested on the seventh.  (See Exodus 20:11.)

I, in celebration of being ‘in His image,’ can also rest from my work on the seventh day.  What better way to honor and worship Him then to copy Him?  I take a break, for a whole day, from my usual daily routines of work, stress, and worries.

Another reason that God gives for us to observe the Sabbath is that He brought us out of the land of Egypt, out of the bonds of slavery.  (See Deuteronomy 5:15.)

I don’t have to be a slave to my daily routine or my continuous striving to earn a living.  I can choose to rest one day a week, proclaiming, “I am free!”  Once a week I can recall that Yeshua (Jesus) told us to be anxious for nothing as the Father supplies all.  Once a week I can do something no other creature on the earth can do: I can choose to obey my God and rest for a whole day!  I get to celebrate that I am not a slave, neither to my work nor to the business and activity of daily life.

“Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD (Yehovah), sanctify you.” Exodus 31:13 (ESV)

In observing the Sabbath every week, I am learning obedience, and learning how to choose what is right.

We are given two different commands regarding the Sabbath in the two places the 10 statements (10 commandments) are given.  We are to guard and we are to observe.  Guarding is a week long process; learning to order your week so that the Sabbath will be free.  Observing is then choosing to keep the day free; a day of rest.  I call this training in righteousness that has almost immediate rewards!

“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27 (ESV)

God made it for us to enjoy.  I’m still learning, but I won’t give up observing the Sabbath for anything!  I feel sorry for those followers of Yeshua who don’t observe the Sabbath – they are missing out on a real blessing; missing a chance to worship God through simple obedience; missing a chance to learn to choose what is right; missing a chance to be a light to the world by simply following Yeshua; …

And missing out on some simple joy and peace in this hectic world!

Shalom,

  • Yosef

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Capital Punishment: Deuteronomy 19 & Yeshua (Jesus) and the Adulteress

God is clear.  Capital punishment is to be used for certain offenses.  This is a simple fact from the Bible.  There are, however, a few things to remember to keep this in perspective.

Capital punishment was only used when there were at least two credible witnesses.

Capital punishment was only to be meted out by the leaders.  No one was to ‘take the law into their own hands.’

The witnesses were often required to be the ones to throw the first stones.

According to Jewish history, capital punishment was rarely actually used.  I realize that many think this is not so as we see talk of stoning often in the “new testament.”  That was actually quite rare, and having a crowd rise up and try to stone someone was actually against the law.   Keep that in mind when reading about Yeshua (Jesus) and the times a crowd wanted to kill him.

Speaking of Yeshua, the incident where the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery to him and asked, “…in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women.  So what do you say?” John 8:1-11;  (ESV).  Most of us know Yeshua’s reply of, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”  John 8:7 (ESV).  At first glance it seems that Yeshua is saying that capital punishment isn’t the right way to go.  But is he?

First, did you note that only the woman was brought before Yeshua?  If she was ‘caught in the act’ as the passage states, where was the man?  The law states that both should be stoned (see Deuteronomy 20:10).  An interesting trap was being set for Yeshua.  If he answered, “then stone her”, he wouldn’t be following the law, so the Pharisees would accuse him thus.  If he answered “don’t stone her,” they could also accuse him of not following the law.  He could of also called them out in regards to the guilty man and the lack of trial, but instead he went to the core of the issue.

He called them out on their misuse of God’s law!  He attacked their legalism, and what better attack then to point out that there is no way to be good enough in a legalistic framework.

A sure sign of legalism is the misuse of the Law of God for your own benefit, or for control and putting others down.

Yeshua was highlighting grace over legalism, not commenting on capital punishment nor on the Law itself.

As a last comment on capital punishment, I find it interesting to read about those condemned who have been waiting for some time.  Many ask for the sentence to be carried out!  Why?  Because the jail system, keeping them locked up for years, is a cruel method of punishment in my opinion.  It can destroy a person’s mind and their dignity as a human.

God’s way called for swift carrying out of the punishment, leaving no time for the society to treat the criminal as an animal or for society as a whole to start relegating even those accused of crimes as monsters.

Personally, I’d rather we do things God’s way and retain the value and dignity of human life.  Any human life.  What do you think?

Shalom,

  • Yosef

 

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

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If Pigs Could Be Clean – Deuteronomy 14

In Deuteronomy 14 we are given a list of animals that God says we can eat and some general rules with which we can determine ourselves if an animal can be eaten.  This list gives rise to the ‘kosher’ food industry, but really the section is about clean and unclean animals.  Kosher takes in much more then that and isn’t the topic of this post.

In the passage, pigs are singled out as one of the animals that meet half the requirements needed to be clean (and therefore eatable).  And throughout history, eating pork has been one of the activities used as a measurement to show that one is not Jewish.  (Another is not keeping the Sabbath, but that is for a different post.)  And, judging by most Christian breakfasts or pot-lucks, I wonder if that isn’t still true today.  I digress.  Here are a couple comments on the topic of whether or not Christians should pay attention to the ‘kosher’ laws.  This is not meant as a counter argument against all the reasons Christianity has for eating pork.  Just a couple things to think about.

  • The idea of clean and unclean animals predates the giving of the ‘Law’.  Noah took on two of each animal and 7 (pairs) of each clean animal.  See Genesis 7:1-3.
  • In defense of eating anything, people like to point out that God gave ‘all things’ for food.  And this is true.  However, near the end of the ‘clean animals’ (kosher) lists (Deut. 14 and Leviticus 11), God makes the comments that we are to be holy for He is holy, and that the list is for us to learn to distinguish between clean and unclean.
  • Peter also tells us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16).  One way of being holy is to only eat ‘clean’ animals.
  • Learning to distinguish between clean and unclean is training for leaning to distinguish between Godly and ungodly.

I realize that the whole issue of eating clean seems an anathema to Christians as Christians are ‘under grace, not under law.’  Well, that saying will be discussed later as it is a greatly misunderstood statement.  Mostly, though, I will just point out that neither Yeshua (Jesus) nor the apostles, nor anyone in the early Jerusalem church, ate pork or taught that it could be eaten.

However, before even discussing the ‘kosher’ laws with Christians, the question, “do you eat blood?” should be asked.  And when it is asked, a reply such as, “I’m not under the law!” is inevitably given.

There is a much ignored verse in the book of Acts.  In Acts 15 there is the account of the ‘Jerusalem council.’  The results of that council is a letter written and agreed upon by all apostles, elders (of the Jerusalem church) and Paul.  It is address to all Gentile churches.  Part of that letter states:

“…but [we] should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood.”  (ESV) Acts 15:20

So, before even wondering about clean / unclean, one needs to learn what is meant by not eating meat from a strangled animal and refraining from blood.

  • Yosef