Archive for 2014

Rejoicing in the Torah – Simchat Torah

“Tell the people of Israel, ‘On the fifteenth day of this seventh month is the feast of Sukkot for seven days to the LORD on the eighth day you are to have a holy convocation and bring an offering made by fire to the LORD; it is a day of public assembly; do not do any kind of ordinary work’” (Leviticus 23:34-36).

Simchat Torah is a joyful celebration with music, dancing, and flags which surpasses even the ‘season of our joy.’ On this day, the yearly cycle of reading the Torah concludes. The scroll is rolled from the end of Deuteronomy back to the beginning of Genesis in order to begin a new annual cycle of studying Torah.

Rejoicing in the Torah

In synagogues around the world, the Torah scroll is removed from the ark and given to a group in the congregation to hold. It is marched or danced around which is called hakafot meaning ‘spinning in circles.’ Hakafot is done multiple times as the scroll is given to different groups or individuals until everyone has taken danced with the Torah. After the Torah scroll is blessed by touching and kissing from the participants, it is returned to the ark. Everyone continues dancing in joyful praise of the Torah of God; children wave flags and hand out candy.

The Eighth Day

The number eight in the Bible symbolizes ‘new beginnings’ like the Simchat Torah celebration. Dedication ceremonies for the Temple, the anointing oil, and the Altar of Sacrifice also lasted eight days. This is why Hanukkah or the re-dedication of the Altar lasts for eight days. Jewish baby boys were, and still are, circumcised and named on the eighth day in a ceremony called a b’rit-milah.

A b’rit-milah is Hebrew terminology for ‘covenant of cutting’ or what is known as ‘circumcision.’ Circumcision was the covenant ‘sign,’ given to Abraham, a symbol of a blood covenant, with God’s promise to make him the father of many nations.

Because of Abraham’s faith, a b’rit-milah was always to be in unity with the ‘circumcision of the heart.’ When God told the Israelites to “circumcise the foreskin of your hearts” in Deuteronomy 10:16, He was directing them back to Abraham, the father of faith, to whom circumcision was given. He was also referring back even further to the Garden of Eden and the promise of the coming Seed who would become the blood sacrifice for sin.

According to the details given in the first two chapters of Luke, it can be determined that Yeshua was born on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles. This means that on the eighth day, the Shemini Atzeret, while he was being circumcised in Bethlehem, the Jewish people were dancing and celebrating Simchat Torah in Jerusalem. As Israel and the priests rejoiced in the Torah that held all the prophecies of the coming redemption, a little baby boy, the living Torah, was being circumcised and given the name ‘salvation.’ What a b’rit-milah celebration Yeshua had with his entire family of Jewish brothers and sisters!

“On the eighth day, when it was time for his b’rit-milah, he was given the name Yeshua, which is what the angel had called him before his conception” (Luke 2:21).

In the modern Hebrew language, milah also means ‘word’ so b’rit-milah can also mean ‘the cutting of the Word‘ or ‘the covenant of the Word.‘ With a b’rit-milah every Jewish baby boy enters into a ‘covenant with the Word.’ Who is the Word? Whose blood became the ‘cutting of the covenant’? Yeshua!

Though circumcision of the flesh is commanded for Israel and is vitally important to the covenant made with Abraham, it is even more important to enter the ‘covenant of the Word’ by faith and receive a circumcised heart. Without faith it is impossible to please God; without a circumcised heart, it is impossible to obey God (Hebrews 11:6, Deuteronomy 30:6-8).-8).

Years ago I heard a Messianic rabbi explain that the circumcision of a baby boy was not for the infant as much as for the father who gives the child to be circumcised and witnesses the event. It is at the moment when his beloved son’s foreskin is ‘cut,’ that the father is ‘cut to the heart‘ and remembers the promises given to Abraham for descendants. It is this ‘sign’ of the covenant in the loins of a baby boy that is a generational reminder of the promised Seed that would redeem Israel.

“A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).

Simchat Torah is the joyful celebration of the Torah, the written covenant God gave to Israel so they would be a light to the nations. On the eighth day while everyone in Israel was celebrating the Torah of God, Yeshua had his b’rit-milah and entered into the ‘covenant of the Word.’ The Word had become flesh and was ‘cut.’ Yeshua became the Living Torah, that would bring the ‘circumcision of the heart’ to the people of Israel and the nations. As Yeshua’s Father watched his son’s b’rit-milah,’ He remembered His covenant with Abraham and witnessed the continued fulfillment of that promise.

©2014 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. For a hard copy of this article,  please purchase Journey with Jeremiah: Nourishment for the Wild Olive.

Blessing on Taking the Lulav

This is the  meditation for the lulav and etrog from the Sidur.  My husband and I were astounded and blessed at the same time.

Palm, Willow, Erog, Myrtle

“May it be Your will, LORD my God and God of my fathers, that through the fruit of the citron tree, the palm frond, the myrtle branches and willows of the brook, the letters of Your unique name draw close to one another and become united in my hand.  Make it known I am called by Your name, so that [evil] will fear to come close to me.  When I wave them, may a rich flow of blessings flow from the supreme Sour of wisdom to the place of the Tabernacle and the site of the House of our God.  May the command of these four species be considerd by You as iif I had fulfilled it in all its details and roots, as well as the 613 commandments dependent on it, for it is my intention to unify the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Divine Presence, in reverance and love, to unify the name Yod-Hey with Vav Heh, in perfect unity in the name of all Israel, Amen.  Blessed is the LORD forever, Amen and Amen. (Psalm 89).”

Blessed are You LORD our God, King of the Universe, who has made us holy through His commandments, and has commanded us about taking the lulav.

Blessed are You, LORD our God, King of the Universe, who has given us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this season.

©Koren Siddur

‘Eid ul Adha’ in the Binding of Isaac

‘Eid Al Adha’ is an Islamic holy day that is found in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Testing of Abraham

“Take your son, your only son, whom you love, Yitz’chak; and go to the land of Moriyah.  There you are to offer him as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will point out to you.

“Then Shlomo [Solomon] began to build the house of Adonai in Yerushalayim on Mount Moriyah, where Adonai had appeared to David his father. Provision had been made for this at the place David had chosen, the threshing-floor of Ornan the Y’vusi” (2 Chronicles 3:1). 

Mount Moriah is where the Temple mount is today.  It is the place of Abraham’s testing and the second burnt offering (the first being the one Noah did after he left the Ark).    Burnt offerings were not done for specific sins, but as a reminder of the complete sinfulness of man.  For specific sins, the burnt offering accompanied other offerings.

Burnt offerings were personal offerings as opposed to corporate and no one, not the priest nor the person offering took any portion of the offering.  The person bringing the offering had an integral part in the sacrifice.  He would put his hands on the head of the animal, cut the animal’s throat, dice it up and put it on the altar.  With the complete burning of the offering, there seemed to be a divine solution for man’s fallen state, his depravity and his need for redemption from the cycle of death.

Abraham is taken by God to the very place where his descendants, the Israelites, would worship God  according to His prescribed manner.   In the same courts of the Temple, Yeshua would stand and proclaim that He is the Messiah (John 10:10).

To answer Isaac’s question regarding the missing lamb, Abraham states that “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering.”   Isaac obviously understood burnt offerings and the need for a lamb.  Abraham understood that God HIMSELF would be the Provider of the lamb – El Yireh.

As Abraham is about to offer his son, God stops him and he finds a ram in the thicket and offers it in place of Isaac.  Just as ‘the lamb’ was used in the Garden of Eden to show Adam and Eve their coming redemption through the blood of a lamb; God uses a ram to show Abraham that the redemption would come through a substitute.  Because of Abraham’s faithfulness to obey God, he is commended.

For now I know that you are a man who fears God, because you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me” (Genesis 22:12).

Ibrahim and Islam

The Lamb of God
The Lamb of God

Abraham didn’t have only one son.  He had another son named Ishmael.  Muslims believe this exact account of Abraham’s testing except for the son.  They believe the son was Ishmael.  They commemorate this event with a holy day called Nabi Ibrahim, The Momentous Sacrifice of the Lamb.

For any of us, the specific son, though absolutely relevant to the redemptive promises given to Abraham and passed onto Isaac, could have been Ishmael.  It was not the ‘son,’ but the substitution of a lamb that is significant for all mankind.

As Ibrahim offered his son as a sacrifice, God intervened at the last moment and provided a ram. In the words of the Islamic account, “What a momentous event!” Instead of sacrificing his son, God, El Shaddai,  provided Abraham with the substitute sacrifice of a ram.

The sin of mankind is deeply rooted in the soul.   It doesn’t matter whether we are Arab, Israeli, Chinese, Brasilian, African American or  American Indian.   The consequence of sin brought death into the world.  The lamb in the Garden of Eden had to die so that Adam and Eve could live and procreate.   It’s blood covered their sin, its flesh paid their wage of death.  In order to atone for our sins, we can try to cover ourselves with fig leaves or our own good works, but how do we know when we’ve done enough good works or that our fig leaves are actually removing our sin rather than just covering the ugliness.

Thus, there is the Eid ul-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice that focuses on the ram.

But who or what does the ram symbolize? What is the purpose of killing a lamb?  What is significant about the son, the only son that Abraham loved?

The ram in the thicket points to another lamb, the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.  As Ibrahim stated, God Himself would be the provider and would send a lamb.  In the immediate moment, a ram appeared in the thickets, but that ram was a shadow of a greater needed sacrifice, the very Lamb of God, Yeshua (Jesus).

With his death on the cross, Yeshua (Jesus) became the momentous lamb sacrifice for sin for all mankind, for all time, everywhere.  Those who put their faith in his work on the cross are the true children of Abraham whether they come from Ishmael, Isaac, or the nations of the world.

Though it may be difficult to accept that God became flesh in the form of a man, His Son, it would be necessary for God Himself to provide His own Son as the offering – His only Son, the Son that he loved –  in the place of Abrahams’ son that he loved.

Because of Abraham’s faithfulness, God promised to make his descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands on the seashore.   Ishmael, like Isaac has become great nations of people as promised; but the seed that represented the ram in the thicket, the seed of promised redemption that was spoken to Adam and Eve, went through Abraham to Isaac, Jacob, Judah and David until Yeshua came into the world.

There are no works good enough for anyone to atone for their own sin because sin deserves death.  Yeshua’s death on the cross became the final work necessary for deliverance from personal sin.

Hebrews 11:17-19 relates an even greater hope that Abraham realized on Mount Moriah.  Abraham’s faith was so great that he believed that God could raise his son from the dead if he sacrificed him on the altar.

“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.”

This is exactly what happened to Yeshua.  Though he was the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sin of the whole world, death could not hold him.  He rose from the dead to show that He truly is the Son of God, divine in nature and holy unlike any man, priest, or prophet.  Abraham was counted righteous and faithful and put his trust in the God that would not only bring about the  resurrection of the dead, but the resurrection of his son as well as the Son, God Himself would provide.

©21014 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. 

Matthew 5:17 – Abolish and Fulfill

Because Yeshua did not speak Greek, I decided to study the GREEK translation of Matthew 5:17 to see if the ‘law’ was actually ‘abolished’ as many believe based on their English translations.

Matthew 5:17 “Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete” (Complete Jewish Bible).

Matthew 5:17 “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” (New International Version).

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (New King James Version).

Above are three different English translations of the same verse where Yeshua states that he did not come to ‘abolish’ the Torah and the Prophets, but to ‘fulfill.’   This verse is often cited when anti-nomians –– the Greek word for anti-law and anti-Torah –– argue with those who believe Torah is still God’s ‘law’ today (John 14:15).  The conundrum proliferated by anti-nomians is that ‘abolish’ and ‘fulfill’ have the same meaning.

Yeshua, the Rabbi

Yeshua was a Jewish Rabbi with disciples and taught them within a rabbinical understanding of ‘abolish’ and ‘fulfill.’ These words have very different meanings from what is translated into English. When a rabbi used ‘abolish’ in reference to Torah, it meant ‘to wrongly interpret’ a command, but to ‘fulfill’ the command meant ‘to rightly interpret’ it. 

Yeshua is stating that he came to ‘rightly interpret’ the Torah because centuries of man-made traditions and rules had ‘abolished’ it.  He never claimed that ‘fulfillment’ of Torah meant it would end or be abolished as understood in English.   ‘Abolish’ and ‘fulull’  cannot and do not mean the same thing in Hebrew, Greek or even English.

I used Joseph Thayer’s Greek-English lexicon to define the Greek words ‘abolish’ and ‘fulfill.’

The Greek word translated ‘abolish’ is  kataluō. This word is found in Matthew 5:17, 26:61, Mark 14:58, Acts 6:14 and Romans 14:20. Kataluo is a verb meaning to dissolve, disunite what has been joined together, to destroy, demolish.

Kataluo can metaphorically mean to overthrow, render vain, deprive of success, bring to naught. It alludes to subverting or overthrowing institutions, forms of government, laws in the sense of annulling, abrogating and discarding.

“There they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against this holy place and against the Torah; for we have heard him say that Yeshua from Natzeret will destroy [kataluo] this place and will change the customs Moshe handed down to us”  (Acts 6:14).

The witnesses in Acts chapter 6 are false witnesses who accuse Sha’ul of teaching against Torah.  From this one verse, anyone who teaches that Yeshua abolished God’s commands or that Sha’ul taught against obeying Torah would be considered a false witness.

The Greek word translated ‘fulfill’ is plēroō. This word is found in Matthew 5:17, 3:15, Philippians 2:2, Colossians 1:25, Colossians 4:17 and 2 Thessalonians 1:11. Pleroo is a verb meaning to make full, to fill up, like to fill to the fullest. It means to cause to abound, to furnish or supply liberally like I am liberally supplied or I abound.

Another nuance to pleroo is to consummate as in ‘complete’ or ‘perfect’ is a ‘shadow’ of Messiah and his Bride. At the final Passover in the Kingdom, the Wedding Feast of the Lamb, there will be a consummation or completion of a marriage.

A third nuance of pleroo means to ‘render full’ as in to fill to the top so that nothing shall be wanting, fill to the brim. It is making complete in every particular instance, to render perfect, to carry through to the end, accomplish, carry out some undertaking, bring to realization, to bring to pass and ratify.

The spiritual meaning of ‘fulfill’ is to cause God’s will, as made know in Torah, to be obeyed as it should be thus bringing to ‘fulfillment’ God’s promises given through the prophets.

“And tell Archippus, “See that you complete [pleroo] the task you were given in the Lord” (Colossians 4:17 ).

The Greek word translated ‘fulfilled’ is ginomai. This word is found in Matthew 5:18, 24:34 and Luke 21:32. Ginomai is another verb, different from pleroo, that means to become, come into existence, come to pass, to happen regarding events. It can also mean to arise, appear in history, come upon the stage as of men appearing in public. While a third meaning is to have happened, finished as of miracles performed. Within the meaning of ginomai, Yeshua appeared, came into existence in history publicly and finished the work he was given task to do.

“Yes! I tell you that this people will certainly not pass away before all these things happen [ginomai)” (Matthew 24:34).  

Putting together the Greek definitions from Thayer’s Greek-English lexicon, Matthew 5:17 would translate into English like this:

“I did not come to (kataluo) overthrow, render vain, subvert or annul the Torah and God’s laws and form of government, but to cause it to (pleroo) abound, consummate, be perfect, and to cause God’s will to be obeyed as it should be; and as I complete my task, (ginomai) this will all come to pass, happen, be performed and begin to be received.”

Even using the Greek definitions of the words ‘abolish’ and ‘fulfill,’ it becomes clear that Yeshua was not removing the ‘law’ or his Father’s Torah from the life of the believer, but interpreting correctly it so that it could be obeyed.  His task was to ‘bring into existence’ the the prophesied new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31).

The Hebrew word translated ‘law’ in Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:10 is the word Torah.  The ‘law’ that is put into the minds and hearts by God’s Spirit as part of the new covenant is the Torah. 

Yeshua was a Jewish Rabbi.  He taught like a rabbi and lived fully as a Jewish man. During his last Passover, he instituted the new covenant (Luke 22:20). The promises of the new covenant would finally begin to be ‘fulfilled’ (ginomai) through Yeshua. The Torah would  become written on the hearts of God’s people.  It would not be ‘annuled’ (kataluo), but rather brought to its completion – it would be obeyed as intended by God (pleroo) and the miracle of the circumcised heart would come to pass (ginomi). 

Yeshua meant what he said in Hebrew, Greek or English.  He did not come to get ride of the Torah and the prophets, but to bring ‘fullness’ to them. He demonstrated to his disciples how to live out Torah as it was intended, and not ‘abolish’ Torah through false witnesses and un-taught teachers. Until heaven and earth pass away, every jot and tittle of Torah remains.

©2014 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.