Archive for the ‘FAQs’ Category

Christian Tattoos, Really?

“He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God…. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords” (Revelation 19:12-13,16).

Recently, I was shocked to learn that some Christians believe Jesus is going to return on a white horse with a tattoo on his thigh.  Not only that, but he also has us tattooed on the palms of his hands. Is  that what the Scriptures really say?  Will Yeshua have a tattoo of  “the name that only he knows” on his leg?  If so, couldn’t anyone tattoo their thigh with some random letters or words and claim they are the King of Kings and Lord of Lords deceiving the whole world?  I hope that the anti-christ doesn’t own a white horse, have a robe dipped in blood, and carry a sword!

Why is it that many Christians believe such non-Biblical ideologies?  The only answer could be their interpretation of Scripture has become so skewed their doctrine of grace has no boundaries.   They have created a sinful savior who is incapable of delivering anyone so they remain in their rebellious carnality while proclaiming Jesus as their Lord.

Tattoos in Scriptures

“And do not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor put tattoo marks on you.  I am the LORD”(Leviticus 19:28). 

The Hebrew word for ‘tattoo’ is qaqu and means “to cut or imprint” the skin.  In the verses surrounding tattoos, God makes it clear that His covenanted people were not to worship the gods of the the nations around them by drinking blood, divining spirits, selling their daughters into religious prostitution, or cutting their bodies for the dead.  Some say that the command is only for Israel, but don’t the words “I AM the LORD” have significance to Christians? Or, “Be holy as I am holy?” It would seem not as 25% of all tattoos per year are religious in nature. Just search online for ‘Christian tattoos,’ –– there are 108,000,00 tags.  

As with many of God’s commands, the ‘cutting or imprinting the skin’ has become a cultural phenomenon that denies its religious root of worshipping other gods. This rationalization of sin transforms tattoos into an acceptable behavior by believers, except for a few remnant souls who take God’s word seriously.

Tattoos are also called body art. The making of a mark, figure or writing by pricking and inserting pigment under the skin is no longer considered the same thing as cutting the flesh for the dead.  Receiving a tattoo ‘number’ was scorned by Jews in concentration camps during the Holocaust; however,  now Christians tattoo birth dates of babies, death dates of loved ones, and anniversary dates under their skin.  It seems the ‘other god’ is idolatry of self and flesh. Branding the human body with flowers, words, and even more reprehensible, Scripture verses, takes away from the handiwork of the Creator who made each of us in His image in order to reflect His glory.

I have learned from asking people who have tattoos that most, if not all, are done in memory of a loved one or someone who hurt them deeply.  These individuals justify their tattoo as a lasting memorial for ‘the dead,’ helping them to overcome the emotional pain.  Instead of turning to Yeshua to be set free from depression, sadness,  anger, bitterness, deep pain and suffering, they cut and mar their bodies.

I know one young man who tattooed yod-hey-vav-hey, the holy name of God, on his back.  He said it was to honor God.  How can something that God forbids to be done bring Him honor? From the death perspective I wondered, “Is Jesus still dead to that man that he needed to cut his flesh for him?” “Is a tattoo an honorable memorial to Yeshua?”  According to the Scriptures, Yeshua is alive and seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Luke 22:69, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1); therefore, a tattoo to honor him is blasphemy.  

The Engraved Hands of Messiah

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands …” (Isaiah 49:6). 

The word ‘engrave’ in Hebrew is patah and is only used in reference to engraving the names of the Tribes of Israel on stone.  This ‘engraving’ never refers to a tattoo or body art on the flesh. The markings on Yeshua’s hands are scars from the nails that pierced his hands on the cross –– not a tattoo!

“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands.  Reach out your hand and put it into my side.  Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27).

“When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them.  Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight” (Luke 24:30-31).

Thomas was a doubter to Yeshua’s resurrection.  The scars that he touched were not tattoos from some tattoo artist in Israel.  They were the crucifixion marks of a dead man come back to life!  They evidenced his resurrection! The two men from Emmaus also recognized Yeshua by the scars on His palms when He broke bread with them.   His scars were real scars from a real event and not some drawings he received in a tattoo parlor.  It is those same scars from the nails in his hands and feet that when He returns, “all the people of the earth will look on the one they pierced and mourn” (Zechariah 12:10, Revelation 1:7).

Faithful and True Witness of God’s Word

“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.  With justice he judges and makes war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns.  He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God” (Revelation 19:11-12). 

Yeshua is called Faithful and True.  To what is Yeshua “Faithful and True?”  The name written on his thigh: “The Word of God.”

Yeshua was faithful and true to every Word spoken by his Father. It was the essence and reality of his earthly life. He remained sinless by never breaking one of his Father’s commandments.  If he had broken even one commandment, like Leviticus 19:28 regarding tattoos, he would have sinned against his Father and become an ‘unfaithful and a false witness’.   Moreover, he would have been unable to offer himself as atonement for sin.

“Then they said to Jeremiah, ‘May the LORD be a ‘true and faithful’ witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the LORD your God sends you to tell us” (Jeremiah 42:5).

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘These are the words of the Amen, the ‘faithful and true’ witness, the ruler of God’s creation” (Revelation 3:14).

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Messiah, a lamb without blemish or defect [tattoo]” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

Yeshua’s Tzizit or Tassels

“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels (tzizit) on the corners of your garments with a blue cord on each tassel.  You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes” (Numbers 15:38-39, Deuteronomy 22:12).

The four corners of a Jewish prayer garment has tassels or tzizit to remind the wearer about the name of God, the power of God, the anointing of God, and most importantly, the commands of God.   Putting tzizit on the hem of the garment was a reminder to the commands of yod-hey-vav-hey and not to follow after the lusts of the eyes and heart.

The Name of God – יהוה

Yeshua was born into Tribe of Judah which makes him Jewish.  As a Jewish child, he was taught the Torah commands. As a Jewish man, he obeyed the command in Numbers and wore tzizit on the four corners of his garment.  Tzizit are made of multiple strings and knots that have a numerical value for the tetragrammaton Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey or the memorial name of God.  It would be more probable that the name of God ‘written’ on Messiah are his tzizit resting on his thigh as returns with his armies. 

“On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: King of Kings and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16).

The Name of God on His Thigh

No earthly king bears his thigh to the world, so why would the eternal and holy King of Kings and Lord of Lords bear his?  Kings wear robes and Yeshua is no different.  His robe, however, will have the testimony of God’s name on it.  Yeshua, the Faithful and True witness, will restore the name of his Father when He returns.  There will be no confusion as to who he is as his “thigh will bear the Name.”

Imprinting the Word of God

“Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.  Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart” (Proverbs 7:3-4).

The Israelites were given a powerful way to remember the commands of God and it wasn’t with a tattoo on their body.  Specifically,  they were to tie the commands as symbols on their hands and bind them on their foreheads.  They weren’t to write, engrave, or tattoo them literally on their hands or foreheads as that would have been disobeying God and sinning.

These are the commands, decrees and teachings the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe …. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:1, 8-9).

According to the provision in new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31; Ezekiel 36:24), the Word of God is written on our hearts by the Spirit of God. The Amplified Bible describes the new covenant relationship with God with commandments as ‘imprinted on our hearts’. If we could just tattoo Scriptures, like the fruits of the Spirit or 1 Corinthians 13 on our bodies and be at peace with God, then the new covenant promise of the Spirit would be unnecessary.  Each individual must make a choice to either love God and His Word as it is written or willfully rebel against Him to become a flesh billboard.  

“But the mercy and loving-kindness of the Lord are from everlasting to everlasting upon those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, and His righteousness is to children’s children — To such as keep His covenant [hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it] and to those who [earnestly] remember His commandments to do them [imprinting them on their hearts]” (Psalm 103:17-18 Amplified Bible).

King Yeshua will be returning to Jerusalem on a white horse. His witness to the Word of his Father will be Faithful and True.  His Kingdom will be ruled with justice, and an iron scepter for those who refuse to obey his Father’s commandments.   Following the Commander of God’s armies, dressed in white, are those who will rule and reign with him because the Spirit of God imprinted His commands on their hearts and not their precious, sanctified bodies.

Tattoos on Yeshua. Not ever. 

Christian tattoos, nope.

©2012 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing. 

What’s Wrong in Galatia?

“They stirred up the people, as well as the elders and the Torah-teachers; so they came and arrested him and led him before the Sanhedrin. There they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against this holy place and against the Torah…” (Acts 6:12-14).

Whenever we share our faith walk with gentile believers and say that we keep the Biblical Sabbath, celebrate the Feasts of the LORD, and eat according to God’s instructions in Leviticus, we are always referred to the book of Galatians and warned about legalism and Judaizing. What is it about Judaizing, legalism, and the so-called ‘Galatian error’ that incites people to react defensively toward a gentile believer who desires to obey God’s commands out of a heart of love, commitment, and devotion?

The Word is Compel

“Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised.  They only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Messiah. They want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh” (Galatians 6:12-14).

According to Paul, new gentile believers were being compelled to undergo outward flesh circumcision as a requirement to live out their faith in Yeshua. This happened because some Messianic Jews were fearful of being persecuted by non-believing Jews for accepting Yeshua as Messiah.

The ‘Galatian error’ had nothing to do with faith obedience to the commands of God, it had nothing to do with the Sabbath, the Feasts of the LORD or dietary regulations. The ‘Galatian error’ was about a ‘written code’ that inhibited the gentile’s freedom to obey Torah and enjoy the blessings, promises, and covenants they now had access to as part of the ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ through faith in Messiah.

‘Circumcision’ and ‘Uncircumcision’

“Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts” (1 Corinthians 7:19).   

When studying Paul’s teachings, and especially Galatians, it is important to understand the terminology he uses when referring to Jews and gentiles. Many times his ‘circumcision’ verses are taught with an ‘anti-circumcision’ viewpoint with the belief that if gentiles become circumcised, they are obligated to obey God’s commands. This is not how Paul used the terms ‘circumcision’ and ‘uncircumcision.’

Paul’s letter to the Corinthians has nothing to do with the act of circumcising the flesh. He uses ‘circumcision to compare two different groups of people: the Jews who he called ‘the circumcision’ and the gentiles who he called ‘the uncircumcision.’ Putting his words in their proper context and terminology, Paul is saying that it doesn’t matter if you are a ‘circumcised’ Jew or an ‘uncircumcised’ gentile, what matters is keeping God’s commandments. It can be reasoned from this understanding that Paul never taught a gospel that encouraged disobedience to Torah, but believed that both the ‘circumcised’ Jew and the ‘uncircumcised’ gentile have the same responsibility of keeping God’s commandments which include Sabbath, the Feasts of the LORD, and dietary regulations.

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.” 

Paul uses the same terminology in Galatians. He states that being a ‘circumcised’ Jew or ‘uncircumcised’ gentile means nothing; what matters is becoming a new creation.  He wants all of the Galatians (and those who read Galatians) to understand that neither our outward flesh condition nor our DNA has anything to do with our justification before God. All of us, ‘circumcised’ or ‘uncircumcised’ need to be born again to enter the Kingdom of God; everyone, Jew and gentile needs to become a new creation in Messiah (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Redemption to Sonship

“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4).

Yeshua, who was fully God, humbled Himself and came down to earth as a human being.  He  was born into the world of the ‘law of sin and death’ just like every other human born of a woman.   He lived under the laws of human nature being tempted to sin; however, he remained sinless because his Father was not the Adversary, but the Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh. He never broke any of His Father’s commands in Torah.  He lived them perfectly and taught them correctly to his disciples. Because he was completely righteous and without sin, his death was sufficient payment to redeem all mankind, ‘circumcised’ and ‘uncircumcised’ from the ‘law of sin and death’ and give them the hope of eternal life as sons and daughters of God.

“You are all sons of God through faith in Messiah Yeshua, for all of you who were immersed into Messiah have clothed yourself with Messiah.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.  If you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 5:26-29).

Each of us live under the ‘law of sin and death’ until we are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.    No one in Galatia or anywhere else at any other time was ever justified by laws –– man’s or God’s.   As redeemed sons and daughters of God, there is no spiritual difference between ‘circumcised’ or ‘uncircumcised,’ Jew or gentile, male or female, slave or free.   When we put our faith in Yeshua, we become Abraham’s seed and heirs to the promise.

Zealous for ‘the law’

“For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it.  I was advancing Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers” (Galatians 1:13-14).

Paul admits that before he met Yeshua, he persecuted new Jewish believers regarding Judaism and the traditions of the elders that he called ‘the law.’ If anyone lived contrary to the ‘traditions of Judaism,’ they were persecuted and even put to death by his authority. Until his experience on the road to Damascus, Paul was the greatest persecutor of Messianic Jewish followers of Yeshua because he believed they would no longer adhere to traditional Judaism and its religious system. Acts 7:54-60 records him front and center at the stoning of Stephen, receiving the coats of the witnesses at his feet.

Gentile Conversion through ‘Circumcision’

Before Yeshua’s death and resurrection, the only way for a gentile God-fearer like Cornelius to join the ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ was to convert to Judaism. This was done through a conversion process that included circumcision of the flesh. Though circumcision was initially given as a covenant ‘sign’ to Abraham, over the centuries circumcision had become an outward show of following Judaism and all of its man-made traditions, yokes, and burdens.

In the Temple, a ’wall of partition’ separated the people of Israel from the gentiles.  Though a God-fearing gentile could come to Solomon’s Colonnade to pray, they could never enter the Temple area unless they had legally converted to Judaism through the ritual of flesh circumcision.  It was this ‘wall of partition,’ this ‘law of hostility’ to become legally Jewish that Yeshua destroyed on the cross.

The problem in Galatia was not that Messianic gentiles were being forced to obey the commandments of God, but that non-Messianic Jews wanted Messianic gentiles to convert to Judaism.   Paul made it very clear that Messianic gentiles did not have to  convert to Judaism to live out their faith in Yeshua. 

In fact, Paul taught that all followers of Yeshua needed to remain in the spiritual condition they were in when they were saved.  If they were ‘uncircumcised,’ they were to remain as gentiles with a calling to make the Jew envious for Yeshua.  If they were ‘circumcised,’  they were to remain as Jews with the calling to be a light to the nations. It is the witness of Jew and gentile worshiping the God of Israel in unity that becomes the full testimony of Yeshua.

“Circumcision has value if you observe the law [of Judaism], but if you break the law [of Judaism], you have become as though you had not been circumcised” (Romans 2:25).

Paul states that ‘circumcision’ to become legally Jewish has no value because it is completely dependent on observing Judaism and its traditions.  A ritual circumcision does not necessarily have its foundation in faith, but in the importance of the traditions of the elders; the traditions of men.  These traditions and rules are easily broken, and then it is as if the gentile is no longer a convert to Judaism.

Paul understands this entire process more than anyone because he had been a Judaizer and believed gentiles needed to convert to Judaism. Moreover, he learned through personal experience that being legally Jewish, of which he has the most extensive credentials, is not as valuable as faith in Yeshua.  It is faith in Yeshua that gives all believers –– ‘circumcised’ or ‘uncircumcised’ –– not only freedom from the ‘law of sin and death,’ but also the burdensome laws of Judaism.

Titus and Timothy

Enter Titus. Titus was a Greek believer, a gentile. He did not feel compelled to be circumcised. He was quite content to remain in his gentile condition, but it created some problems within the Jewish congregation that needed to be addressed.

“This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Messiah Yeshua and to make us slaves” (Galatians 2:4). 

Notice Paul doesn’t say Jewish believers in Messiah are creating the problems, but rather ‘false brothers’ who had infiltrated the body of believers in Jerusalem.  In Jerusalem ‘false brothers’ would either be Jews who had rejected the Messiah and were Judaizing the new gentile believers, Jewish men who bore ‘false witness’ to the Messiah. The purpose of these ‘false brothers’ was to infiltrate the Body of Messiah and compel the Messianic gentiles to convert to Judaism through ritual circumcision.

Titus was the test case.   Though he personally did not feel the need to be circumcised, he was still being compelled to become legally Jewish.  If Paul allowed him to be circumcised and become legally Jewish, then the whole message of salvation by faith for gentiles would have been nullified. It would have changed justification by faith in Yeshua to works of the flesh –– heritage or conversion.  The gospel to the nations with which God entrusted Paul would have ended abruptly.

But what about Timothy?   He was circumcised.

Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother. His mother and grandmother raised him with the Hebrew Scriptures and he understood his Jewish heritage. For him to be circumcised was not an issue of conversion to be ‘legally Jewish’ because he was already ‘legally Jewish’ through his birth mother.   Furthermore,  Paul was going to take Timothy with him on missionary journeys to places where there were unbelieving Jews. Being an uncircumcised Jew would have been a huge a stumbling block for those Jews to hear and receive the message of salvation in  the Jewish Messiah.

Did Titus not keep God’s Torah while Timothy did? Of course not. Paul has already answered this question: “Circumcision [being Timothy] is nothing and uncircumcision [being Titus] is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts” (1 Corinthians 7:19).  For Titus to believe that he had a different set of commandments than Timothy or did not have to obey God’s commandments like Timothy would have amounted to not only ignorance, but also gentile arrogance.

Foolish and ‘Bewitched

“You foolish Galatians!  Who has betwitched you?” (Galatians 3:1).

I cannot count how many times this verse has been quoted to correct us and our walk of faith. It would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.  We have met and known people who sincerely  believe that obedience to God’s Torah is foolish, and we are somehow being led astray by a “bewitching spirit” and have ‘fallen from grace.’

Justification for sin comes through Yeshua’s atonement on the cross and by faith in Him alone. There is no argument there.  To compel someone to become legally Jewish through circumcision is most definitely a foolish error when it comes to the message of justification.  However, anyone who loves the God of Israel and desires to obey His commandments is neither ‘bewitched’ nor foolish. They are not compelling anyone to legally convert to Judaism.  In fact, it is quite the opposite. They are sharing a fuller message of salvation that includes sanctification. Yeshua Himself said, “If you love me, you will obey my commands” (John 14:15).

The Zeal of the Judaizer

“Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good.  What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them” (Galatians 5:17). 

The unbelieving Jews, the Judaizers, only wanted gentile believers to “mutilate their flesh” so they could boast about them.   They liked the idea of multitudes following them and their rules.  It boosted their egos making them feel important and in control of this new movement of God.   They wanted to be able to say, “Look how many gentiles are converting to Judaism!”  Simply put, this was the ‘Galatian error’ in Paul’s day –– forced gentile conversion to Judaism.

It is highly probable the Messianic Jews didn’t really know what to do with the number of gentiles coming to faith in Yeshua. Though the Council in Jerusalem outlined the responsibility of a gentile turning to God, there was no guarantee that the pagan ways of the nations wouldn’t infiltrate and destroy the Messianic faith that was just out of the womb.  Messianic Jews like Paul were well aware that Yeshua didn’t preach the kingdom of Judaism, but they also didn’t want to lose their Jewish identity and Biblical heritage.  In their defense, after 2000 years of gentile infiltration, councils denouncing everything Jewish about faith in the Jewish Messiah, and the melding of pagan gods with Biblical holy days, there was some merit to their concerns and struggles.

In the first century, there were more Jewish believers than gentile.  Gentiles who came to faith in Messiah grafted into the ‘Commonwealth of Israel‘ and became part of the ‘Olive Tree of Israel.’    They met in synagogues on the Sabbath and were taught Torah (Acts 15:21).   They took on a Biblically Jewish identity while retaining their unique calling as gentiles to make the Jew envious. They tried to live out their new faith celebrating the Feasts of the LORD and eating according to God’s instructions. Read in this cultural context Colossians 2:16 takes on a whole new perspective.

“Therefore do not let anyone (Jew)  judge you (gentiles) by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Messiah.”

When the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, the nation of Israel was scattered all over the world.  Jerusalem was no longer central to Judaism, the Jewish people, and the Messianic faith. The Jewish congregation of believers led by James was no longer the example of faith (1 Thessalonians 2:14).

As the centuries passed and the number of gentile believers increased,  there was a loss of identity with Jerusalem and Rome took its place.  The Torah no longer came out of Zion nor the Word of God from Jerusalem, but from Rome and the Popes. Anti-circumcision and anti-Jewish doctrines crept into the church and edicts from councils like Nicaea and Laodicea made it illegal for  believers in Yeshua to follow anything that appeared ‘Jewish’ including the Feasts of the LORD, Sabbath, circumcision, and Levitical dietary regulations. 

Unfortunately for the growing Body of Messiah,  everything in the Bible looked ‘Jewish’ because God had  entrusted His Torah to the Jewish people to guard and protect.  As Rome took the place of Jerusalem, the Pope spoke in the place of God, and the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Latin, gentile believers easily fell into Roman religious practices against warnings by Paul in his letter to the Romans (chapters 9-14). Jewish believers either converted to Roman Christianity or died.  Then, of course, came the Crusades, the Inquisitions, and the Holocaust Nazis that just murdered Jews because they believed them to be ‘Christ killers.’

The Modern ‘Galatian Error’

Judaizing is a non-issue today as Christians are no longer part of the Messianic Jewish community.   They do not attend synagogues for teaching and instruction as did the first-century gentiles.  They are not confronted by ‘false brothers’ who compel them to be circumcised and convert to Judaism. The Christian church no longer teaches Torah or the Prophets as the foundation of the spiritual Temple, let alone as an outline for living a life of obedience.  In fact, most Biblical truths that were taught by Yeshua and lived out by the apostles and first-century believers have been eliminated to the point that neither Paul, the apostles, nor Yeshua would recognize the Body of Messiah today.

The modern ‘Galatian error’ has become a gentile code that compels Jews to follow the pagan ways of the nations embedded in Christian theology. Jews who come to faith in Jesus Christ ‘legally convert’ through baptism and confirmation into one of hundreds of Christian denominations. Christiandom discourages anything remotely Jewish and their Jewish converts attend church on Sunday, celebrate pagan holidays that are prohibited by the God in the Scriptures, and eat the flesh of swine.  In these murky waters, many of the ‘circumcised’ have lost their Jewish identity, and their call to be a light to the nations has been snuffed out. 

Something definitely has “bewitched” the church and it is not a Messianic gentile obeying God’s Torah; it’s a distortion of Paul’s teachings (2 Peter 3:16). This distortion has paralyzed the ‘uncircumcised’ from walking in the commandments of God. The ‘circumcised’ Jew and ‘uncircumcised’ gentile still remain separated. No one Judaizes and compels gentiles to become ‘legally Jewish’ through circumcision. The ‘Galatian error’ has become the anti-semitic catch phrase for arrogance over first-century Messianic Jews who dared to allow the ‘uncircumcised’ to enter the ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ through faith in the Jewish Messiah.

©2012 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. 

Sign of Jonah: Three Days and Three Nights

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40).

Many people raise questions about the three days and three nights of Yeshua’s death, burial and resurrection. Let’s face it, Friday night to Sunday morning is not three days and three nights no matter how one interprets the rendering of days, hours, times, kingships or even religious tradition. Yet, Yeshua’s prophesied that he would be in the grave three days and three nights –– no less, no more.

Creating a Timeline

Using Scripture along with the Feasts of the LORD is the perfect way to determine when Yeshua died, was buried, and rose from the dead. To create the timeline, it is more effective to work backwards from Yeshua’s Resurrection to the Sabbath to Unleavened Bread and to Passover. All ‘days’ are rendered from ‘evening to morning’ as established by God at creation. The sunset time of 6:00 p.m. is an arbitrary time that I chose to make my timeline, and may not have been the actual time of sunset in the year that Yeshua died and rose from the dead.

The Resurrection – The Feast of Firstfruits

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the people of Israel, After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.  He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD, so that you will be accepted; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath’” (Leviticus 23:9-11).

“But the fact is that Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have died” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Paul says that Yeshua is “the firstfruits of those who have died” using similar terminology as the Feast of Firstfruits found in Leviticus. The Feast of Firstfruits included waving of a sheaf of grain on the “day after the Sabbath” or “the first day of the week.” In fulfillment of God’s ‘appointed times,’ the evidence in the Gospels, and the explanation in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, Yeshua rose from the dead as the Firstfruits on ‘the day after the Sabbath.’

Because our modern-day calendar differs from the Biblical one, Passover will occur on a different day of the week each year. Using the time sequence from the Scriptures, the Feast of Firstfruits must come after Passover, and it has to fall on a ‘first day of the week’ after the weekly Sabbath. If Passover falls on any other day of the week except Sabbath, the following ‘first day of the week’ will be the Feast of Firstfruits because there is a weekly Sabbath between the two. If Passover falls on the Sabbath, then Firstfruits is the following week.

Day After the Sabbath

“After Sabbath, toward dawn the first day of the week, Miriyam of Magdala and the other Miryam went to see the grave” (Matthew 28:1).

The details surrounding the empty tomb are recorded in Matthew chapter 28 and Luke chapter 24. On the ‘first day of the week,’ after the seventh-day Sabbath and before dawn, some women found Yeshua’s tomb empty. It wasn’t until after the seventh-day Sabbath that the women found the tomb empty because they “rested according to the commandment” (Exodus 20:8-11)

“On the Sabbath, the women rested, in obedience to the commandment; but on the first day of the week, while it was still very early, they took the spices they had prepared, went to the tomb, and found the stone rolled away from the tomb!” (Luke 24:1).

Sometime before dawn on ‘the first day of the week,’ Yeshua rose from the dead because he was not in the tomb. In other words, during the hours between Saturday’s sunset ending the Sabbath and Sunday’s sunrise, Yeshua rose from the dead. There is no specific time given for his Resurrection so for sake of explanation, I will say the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday) ended at a 6:00 p.m. sunset. It is possible that at 6:01 p.m. at the start of ‘the first day of the week,’ Yeshua rose from the dead. However, it is also possible that he rose at 5:59 p.m. moments before the weekly Sabbath ended.

Sabbath: Big ‘S’ or little ’s’

In Leviticus 23, when God gave His ‘appointed times’ to the Israelites, the first Feast listed is the seventh-day weekly Sabbath. It is the only ‘appointed time’ that He called ‘Sabbath’ –– all of the other ‘appointed times’ were given specific names: Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Firstfruits, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, and Feast of Tabernacles. Though several of the commanded Feasts included ‘no regular work’ like the seventh-day Sabbath, God did not call them ‘sabbaths.’ When Judaism began referring to God’s ‘appointed times’ as ‘sabbaths,’ confusion with the timing of the holy days began.

For example, Leviticus 23:15 gives the timing for the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost), “From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks.”

If this verse is understood as the Sabbath being the seventh-day weekly Sabbath given only 12 verses earlier, then the counting of seven full weeks would begin on the ‘day after the Sabbath’ or ‘the first day of the week,’ Sunday. Counting from the ‘day after the Sabbath’ would allow for the Feast of Firstfruits to consistently fall on the ‘first day of the week’ which has tremendous prophetic significance for the Resurrection.

However, when the first day of another Feast like Unleavened Bread is referred to as a ‘sabbath,’ everything changes. Depending on which day of the week the Unleavened Bread ‘sabbath’ falls, counting from the ’day after that sabbath’ makes the day of Firstfruits change yearly leaving no connection between the Feast of Firstfruits and Yeshua’s Resurrection. Also according to Jewish tradition, some ‘sabbaths’ are considered ‘higher’ than others; some weekly Sabbaths more important when they occur during a festival week. Though these delineations may not be departing from God’s commands to keep His ‘appointed times,’ it does cause confusion between the celebrations of the Jews and the Body of Messiah regarding the Resurrection of Yeshua.

Yeshua followed many Jewish traditions because he was Jewish and lived as a Jewish man. However, when those traditions nullified the commands of God, he refuted them and taught the correct view. It would follow that if a Jewish or even Christian tradition nullified the ‘appointed time’ of a Feast, Yeshua would fulfill it correctly. When it comes to the timing of the Feast of Firstfruits, Scripture should be used over Jewish tradition.

Unleavened Bread – Day 3, Day 2, Day 1

“In the first month on the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of matzah (Unleavened Bread); for seven days you are to eat matzah (unleavened bread).  On the first day you are to have a holy convocation; don’t do any kind of ordinary work.  Bring an offering made by fire to Adonai for seven days. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; do not do any kind of ordinary work” (Leviticus 23:6-8).

Counting backwards from the time of the Resurrection, we need three nights and three days for grave time.

Once again, I will use 6:00 p.m. as the sunset time for beginning each day.

Day 1: 6:00 p.m. Saturday evening to 6:00 p.m. Friday evening. This would be the seventh-day Sabbath (Saturday), Day 3 of Unleavened Bread, and Day three in the tomb.

Day 2: 6:00 p.m. Friday evening to 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening. This would be Friday, Day 2 of Unleavened Bread, and Day two in the tomb.

Day 3: 6:00 p.m. Thursday evening to 6:00 p.m. Wednesday evening. This would be Thursday, Day 1 of Unleavened Bread, and Day one in the tomb.

Using this time sequence, Yeshua would have been put in the tomb sometime before 6:00 p.m. Wednesday evening which began the first of the prophesied three nights and days in the tomb (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). By being buried in the tomb before 6:00 p.m., three days and three nights would have him rise sometime before the end of the seventh-day Sabbath. It was only after the Sabbath, and the command to rest, that Mary and the others went to the tomb and found it empty.

In the year of Yeshua’s death, Unleavened Bread, called a ‘sabbath,’ would have begun, according to the three days outlined above, on Wednesday evening at 6:00 p.m. Before sunset, the daytime hours of Passover were also known as Preparation Day for Unleavened Bread. It was on this Preparation Day of Unleavened Bread that Yeshua’s body was removed from the cross. He needed to be buried before the start of the ‘sabbath’ which began at sunset on “the fifteenth day of the month.”

Yeshua was placed in the tomb as the unleavened, sinless bread from heaven. He was wrapped in linen and buried in the tomb of a rich man from Jerusalem. He was in the tomb for the first three nights and days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

“There was a man named Joseph, a member of the Sanhedrin.  He was a good man, a righteous man, and he had not been in agreement with either the Sanhedrin’s motivation or their action.  … This man approached Pilate and asked for Yeshua’s body.  He took it down, wrapped it in a linen sheet, and placed it in a tomb cut into the rock, that had never been used.  It was Preparation Day, and a Sabbath was about to begin” (Luke 23:50-54).

Passover

“In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, between sundown and complete darkness, comes the Lord’s Passover” (Leviticus 23:5).

Using the same time sequence, “on the fourteenth day of the month,” Passover would begin at 6:00 p.m. Tuesday and end at sunset 6:00 p.m., Wednesday. After sunset on Tuesday evening, the Passover meal was celebrated.

“He [Yeshua] replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My ‘appointed time’ is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house’” (Matthew 8:29).

Yeshua eagerly desired to celebrate this Passover with his disciples (Luke 22:15). This specific Passover was God’s ‘appointed time’ for Yeshua fulfill his purpose as the Lamb of God.

The Passover celebrated by Yeshua was only a memorial to the Passover that occurred in Egypt. No one put on sandals or carried staffs. No one prepared for a great exodus from Egypt into the wilderness. No one went outside their door to sacrifice a lamb and put its blood on the doorposts. Israel was no longer a people enslaved, and they celebrated their freedom with a traditional meal called a seder. Matthew records, “When evening came Yeshua reclined with his disciples” (Matthew 26:20).

After the Passover seder, Yeshua and his disciples went to the Mount of Olives. Yeshua prayed. He asked that the final Passover cup be removed, but submitted to the will of His Father. While his disciples slept, he prayed for all who would believe in him through the testimony of his followers. Soldiers arrived in the night’s darkness with the high priest. They arrest him, take him to the Sanhedrin, and eventually to Pilate.

Before sunrise of Passover ‘day,’ Peter denies Yeshua three times before the shofar blast bringing the priests to prayer. The crowds cry out for Yeshua to be crucified. Yeshua is beaten, bruised, mocked, and condemned to death. He goes to Golgotha where he is nailed to the cross and dies quickly without having any of his bones broken.

The events of “the fourteenth day of the month,” Tuesday evening to Wednesday evening, were completed. Yeshua gave up his spirit at the exact same time the Levite priests were offering the last Passover sacrifice at the Temple before sunset on Wednesday. Yeshua’s final words, “It is finished.”

Some teach that Yeshua could not celebrate Passover and be the Passover Lamb on the same day; however, every day, there was an evening, morning, and afternoon sacrifice. At the evening sacrifice, Yeshua celebrated the Passover seder with his disciples. By the morning sacrifice, he had been arrested, judged, and condemned to death. By the final afternoon sacrifice, he had walked to Golgotha, been nailed to the cross, and died. He was buried quickly before the evening sacrifice that began the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Two Feasts with Matzah

“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’” (Matthew 26:17).

Though this verse suggests that Passover and Unleavened Bread begin on the same day, Yeshua would have celebrated the dates and times of His Father’s Feasts as given in Torah, apart from Jewish tradition. Even though matzah was eaten at Passover and Unleavened Bread, the two ‘appointed times’ have different dates, memorials, and purposes.

Historically, the Israelites did not kill the Passover lamb and then suddenly leave Egypt three hours later. They had to wait throughout the night for the ‘death of the firstborn.’ In the morning, they plundered the Egyptians and prepared for their exodus. On “the fifteenth day of the month,” they left Egypt so quickly that they had no time for their bread to leaven.

“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come.  From the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month until the evening of the twenty-first day, you are to eat matzah” (Exodus 12:17).

The Year of Yeshua’s Death and Resurrection

In the year that Yeshua died, was buried, and resurrected, he celebrated the Passover at sunset on “the fourteenth day of the month” with his disciples on a Tuesday evening. Tuesday, during the night, he prayed for his disciples and those who would believe in him through their testimony. He sweat drops of blood and submitted himself to death. He was arrested before sunrise, beaten, hung on a cross, and died late afternoon Wednesday at the exact time of the final Passover sacrifice. The Temple curtain was torn in two; many who saw the events of the darkened sun and earthquake, knew he was the Son of God. He was taken from the cross and buried in the tomb during the Preparation Day, for a ‘sabbath’ of Unleavened Bread.

Wednesday evening to Saturday evening, the first three nights and three days of Unleavened Bread, his followers mourned. A Roman centurion contemplated the earth shaking and the idea that Yeshua was truly the Son of God. Mockers who had read the sign, “The King of the Jews,” were wondering why many of the ancients who had died were walking around Jerusalem. Peter, John, and the rest of the disciples went into hiding for fear of their lives. The women who followed Yeshua went home grieving. They prepared spices knowing they had to wait three days until they could prepare Yeshua’s body. The soldiers anxiously guarded the tomb hoping no one would steal the body. All Israel rested on the seventh-day Sabbath day according to the command. For the followers of Yeshua, it was a long three days and nights.

After resting on the seventh-day Sabbath, before dawn on the first day of the week, as the time for waving the sheaf in the Temple approached, several women went to the tomb. They carried spices and walked through the garden wondering who would roll away the huge stone. They could hear the whoooosssshhhhhhh of the sheaves being waved back and forth by the priests at the Temple nearby. It was the Feast of Firstfruits. After a long, confusing, heart-wrenching week of Passover, Unleavened Bread, and a seemingly endless Sabbath, could they endure another ‘appointed time’ of God?

“Yeshua said to her, “Woman, why are you crying? Whom are you looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you’re the one who carried him away, just tell me where you put him; and I’ll go and get him myself” (John 20:15).

“Yeshua said to her, “Miryam!” Turning, she cried out to him in Hebrew, “Rabbani!” (that is, “Teacher!”)   “Stop holding onto me,” Yeshua said to her, “because I haven’t yet gone back to the Father. But go to my brothers, and tell them that I am going back to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:15-17).

The sorrow of the women turned to joy at seeing Yeshua risen and alive; they wanted to touch their Rabbi, but he needed to return to his Father. The women ran to the disciples with amazing news –– “He is Risen!” While the priests in the Temple waved the firstfruits grain offering, Yeshua went to his Father and offered himself as the Firstfruits of those who are raised from the dead. The counting of the 50 days until the next ‘appointed time,’ the Feast of Weeks, began.


©2010 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.  

Tithe to Who?

“Then Melchizedek king of  Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High,  and he blessed Abram, saying,  ‘Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.’  Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Genesis 14:18-20).

Abram heard that five kings had taken his nephew captive along with all the possessions and food in Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram gathered 318 of his trained men and went in pursuit of the kings. They attacked and defeated them. Abram’s men recovered everything that was stolen and retrieved Lot. In the Valley of Shaveh, the King’s Valley, the King of Sodom met him and asked him to return the people and keep the goods for himself. Abram refused to give the King of Sodom anything.

The King of Salem, Melchizedek, also met him. Melchizedek, whose name in Hebrew means ‘King of Righteousness,’ brought out bread and wine. Together Abram and this priest of the ‘Most High God’ had Sabbath fellowship. Melchizedek blessed Abram by the ‘Creator of heaven and earth’ who delivered his enemies into his hand. In response, Abram gave Melchizedek a “tenth of everything” as dividing the spoils of war with rulers and religious leaders was commonplace.

The giving of one-tenth of a part of something to another person is called a tithe. The tithe is as ancient as this exchange between Abram and Melchizedek. It also became part of the Torah given to Israel by God.

“The Torah requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people – that is their fellow Israelites – even though they also are descended from Abraham.  This man (Melchizedek), however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abram and blessed him who had the promises” (Hebrews 7:4-6). 

Levitical Priesthood

From Abraham’s seed came Isaac and his son, Jacob. Levi was the third son of Jacob from his wife, Leah. From Levi’s descendants came the priesthood of God because of their faithfulness in the wilderness. The Levites were given duties in the Tabernacle along with responsibilities surrounding the offerings and sacrifices. The Levitical priestly duties continued throughout the generations whenever there was a Temple in Jerusalem.

The Levites, unlike the other tribes, were not given a tribal land inheritance, but were dispersed throughout the land of Israel. Because they didn’t own land, they had no way of growing their own food or raising their own livestock. God commanded the tithe be given to them as their inheritance for doing His work among the people of Israel. Tithes of grain and oil became their sustenance, along with the meat of a firstborn cow, sheep, or goat.

“I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the LORD. That is why I said concerning them: ‘They will have no inheritance among the Israelites’” (Numbers 18:21, 23-24).

From the tithes of Israel, the Levite priests gave a tithe to God. From everything they received from the Israelites, they were to present the best portion to God. God gave His portion to Aaron and his sons as sustenance. God’s portion was considered holy, and all of Aaron’s sons and daughters were allowed to eat it as their share of the inheritance.

“The LORD said to Moses,  “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the LORD’s offering. From these tithes you must give the LORD’s portion to Aaron the priest.  You must present as the LORD’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you” (Numbers 18:25-29).

Tithes went to the Levite priests because they ministered in God’s Tabernacle. Each Levite family division had different responsibilities. Some ministered at the Altar of Sacrifice with burnt offerings, fellowship offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings, and drink offerings while others led worship, supervised weights and scales, witnessed legal agreements, and made judicial decisions. Their greatest responsibility was reading the Torah to Israel in such a way that the people understood it and could obey it.

“The Levites – Yeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Yamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Yozabad, Hanan and Pelaiah – instructed the people in the Torah while the people were standing there.  They read from the Book of Torah of God, making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people understood what was being read” (Nehemiah 8:7-8).

“In keeping with the ordinance of his father, David, he [Solomon] appointed the divisions of the priests for their duties, and the Levites to lead the praise” (2 Chronicles 8:14).

“In Jerusalem also, Jehosaphat appointed some of the Levites, priests and heads of Israelite families to administer the Torah of the LORD and to settle disputes” (2 Chronicles 19:8).

“Hezekiah assigned the priests and Levites to divisions – each of them according to their duties as priests to give thanks and to sing praises at the gates of the LORD’s dwelling” (2 Chronicles 31:2).

Unfortunately, the Levite priests did not always do what they were called to do. They stopped distinguishing between the ‘holy’ and ‘profane,’ taught there was no difference between ‘unclean’ and ‘clean,’ and ignored keeping the Sabbath and ‘appointed times.’ They began to steal from the people and did violence to God’s Torah –– sinning against man and doing abominations against God –– profaning His Name among the people.

“They [the priests] do not distinguish between the holy and the common; they teach there is no difference between the unclean and clean; and they shut their eyes to the keeping of my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them” (Ezekiel 22:25-26).

Since 70 CE and the Roman invasion of Jerusalem, there has been no Temple. There is no Altar of Sacrifice or Holy Place that requires a Levitical priesthood. The Levite priests have been scattered throughout the world waiting for the day when there is another Temple, and God’s promise of an eternal priesthood to Aaron is restored (Numbers 18:8). Accordingly, the tithe is not in force when there is no Levitical priesthood.

Because of the belief that God is through with Israel and the church has replaced God’s holy nation, many Christian leaders teach that the covenant of the eternal Levitical priesthood has also been replaced with a newer one. They teach that God’s Torah is either too difficult to keep or can’t be kept at all. They teach that Jesus’ death on the cross removed everything found in Torah from Sabbath to the Feasts of the LORD to the dietary regulations to –– well, almost everything; they still want the tithe.

The tithe existed long before the Levitical priesthood so the idea of the tithe still has intrinsic value, but only in its ordained purpose for the Levitical priests who ministered God’s Truth to the people. According to God’s instructions, the tithe shouldn’t be given to anyone today as there is no Levitical priesthood.

If modern-day churches want to collect the tithe, they should give it to the ‘priests’ who teach the difference between the ‘clean’ and ‘unclean,’ the difference between the ‘holy’ and the ‘pagan,’ and honor the Sabbath and the ‘appointed times’ –– ‘priests’ who teach Torah.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (2 Peter 2:9).

As faithful followers of Yeshua, we are called the ‘royal priesthood.’ We get our royal status from Yeshua, whose Kingly lineage comes through Judah and King David. We get our priestly status from Yeshua, who is our High Priest in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 5:6,10; 6:20). The ‘royal priesthood,’ under the authority of Yeshua, our High Priest, is commanded to equip the people of God through teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness with the God-breathed Scriptures: the Torah, Prophets and Writings (2 Timothy 2:16).

However, it is very difficult to find ‘priests’ today that teach Torah as expected of the ‘royal priesthood,’ a much higher calling than the Levitical priesthood. Most church pastors do not use the full counsel of God’s Word from Genesis through Revelation. They do not teach holy living through obedience to God’s commandments. They don’t teach the difference between ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ or the dietary instructions. They do not accept their place in ‘Commonwealth of Israel’ nor God’s ‘appointed times’ and they close their eyes to the weekly Sabbath.

Most church leaders pick and choose those things in the Bible that promote their personal and financial agenda. They keep their disciples walking in the darkness of the world because the light of the Word conflicts with the ways of the world. Worse yet, they do severe violence to God’s Torah by abolishing Torah and teaching lawlessness (1 Peter 4:17). Consequently, God’s name is not only profaned within the hearts of men where the Spirit should dwell, but also throughout the nations of the world.

Should such leaders, pastors, and teachers receive a tithe? Was the command for the tithe to be given to them?

Gifts and Offerings

Our family struggled with the tithe for years, especially when it came to giving to church institutions and pastors who judged our walk of faith. How can we give teachers who tell us the ‘law is done away with’ the tithes commanded in the Torah? How can we financially support leaders who refuse to distinguish between the ‘holy’ and the ‘profane,’ teach there is no difference between the ‘unclean’ and ‘clean,’ remain blind to keeping the Sabbath and God’s holy days, and give them the tithe belonging to the Levites?

It was through prayer and the guidance of the Spirit that we searched the Scriptures and found Biblical alternatives for the tithe.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress … “ (James 1:27).

Followers of Yeshua are to look after widows and the fatherless. In an agricultural society, the corners of fields were left for the widow, the fatherless, and the foreigner (Deuteronomy 24:19). Though we may not have a field with corners that we can designate for the poor, we do have the means to help them in the time of their distress. We can watch their children, help with the housework, buy food, pay a bill, take them to the doctor, or just be a comfort in the days of their sorrow and struggle. We have a huge responsibility to look after these women and children because we do not live in a culture that encourages supporting the widow and orphan; we leave it to the government. We should never be found on the wrong side of God who “defends the cause of he fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you giving them food and clothing” (Deuteronomy 10:18).

What about ministries that take care of orphans? We have a personal standard that the ministry must not only teach the children about Yeshua and salvation, it must also teach them God’s commandments. We do not support any humanistic, philanthropic outreach. Though they are noble, they are not bringing glory to God or Yeshua. Christian ministry outreaches like World Vision and Compassion International teach children the message of salvation; however, they don’t meet the standard our family has maintained for support –– they don’t teach the commandments of God while they do teach un-Biblical western theologies. Whatever you choose to do with giving, be convinced in your own mind (Romans 14:5).

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality” (Romans 12:12-14).

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing, people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

These verses above give two other ways to give to God’s people as part of the ‘royal priesthood.’ Sharing our material goods with those who are in need and practicing hospitality to strangers, shows Yeshua in our lives as we help and encourage people who are homeless, jobless, and penniless (3 John 1:8).

We have found that by keeping the Biblical Sabbath, from Friday evening to Saturday evening, we always have time available to invite people into our home for a meal. Sharing material goods and practicing hospitality can be challenging because there is no guarantee that it will be appreciated. We have experienced criticism numerous times when we have opened our home and treated others generously; however, because we know that God works everything for His glory, we continue to step out and bless, encourage, and offer hospitality.

Paul suggests another way of giving citing examples of what gentile congregations in Asia Minor and Galatia did. They gave their tithe to the Messianic believers in Jerusalem. A tithe per year was required to go to Jerusalem so Paul recommended that gentiles who have come to faith in Yeshua set aside money on the first day of the week (never collected on Sabbath) and give what has been collected to Messianic Jews in Jerusalem. He reasons “the gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings” (Romans 15:27).

“Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.  On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.  Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem” (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).

“For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem.  They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them.  For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.  So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution” (Romans 15:26-28).

“And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch.  Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea” (Acts 11:27-29).

Giving to ministries in Jerusalem is one that the modern-day ‘royal priesthood’ can actually do with establishment of the State of Israel. There are many ministries not just in Jerusalem, but in the land of Israel that need support, especially those who are Messianic Jews trying to bring the message of Yeshua to their own people. Poverty abounds in Israel especially with immigrants coming ‘home.’ Some of the ministries in Israel that we have supported are: Dugit Messianic Outreach Center in Tel Aviv that does street witnessing for Yeshua; Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, that supports child victims of war and terrorism; the IDF soldiers; the Magen David Adom, the Israeli Red Cross; Vision for Israel that helps new immigrants; Heart of G-d, a family of musicians who encourage Jewish people around the world to make aliyah or ‘come home;’ and Jerusalem Vistas, a media ministry that sent us a prayer map with a specific street in the Old City of Jerusalem to pray for. We had the wonderful opportunity to walk that street when we visited Jerusalem.

Abram, our forefather tithed the King of Salem, Melchizedek, the priest of God who was eternal (Hebrews 7:3). Like Abraham, we should tithe to those who are ‘priests of righteousness’ who teach Torah, the standard for holy living. Or, as Paul suggests, we should give to our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem because they have preserved and guarded the Torah of God allowing us to know and receive the riches of life contained in His Word.

©2010 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.