Dis-Unity

And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” (John 17:11, ESV)

Where is the evidence that we are ONE body in Christ? In main stream Christianity we have over 40,000 denominations that have some sort of disagreement on doctrine. Then in the last many years we have had a large growth in what is termed Messianic groups, which when you go skimming through the material they are producing also seem to differ wildly on what they believe. Many groups like to focus on pointing out why they are right on some point while some other group is wrong and therefore they must not be following Yeshua. I don’t want to point to one group or another and say they are wrong, since I feel I can gain positive ideas from many of these groups. The problem is the dis-unity many groups continue to feed.

Let’s take the concept of the Trinity as an example. I have seen so many different articles bash the early church and even churches today because they were trying to understand and know God, and came up with the term the Trinity. The critics will say that the church believes in 3 separate persons, which if you look at the actual definition is simply not true. I heard one group say the trinity is wrong, you need to think of it like one tree with 3 branches. The problem with that idea is that branches are still individual but part of the tree. That is what the trinity says. It says that God represents himself as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, yet they are one God. If you look at Yeshua’s high priestly prayer you notice that he asks the Father that we be ONE as they are ONE. Yet, I am an individual, but I am part of the body of Christ as are my brothers and sisters which makes us one with the body.  Yeshua is praying to the father, he is a person that the apostles can talk to and touch, yet they could not touch the Father, so at that moment, Yeshua and the Father appear as if they are separated individuals, yet they are ONE. Earlier in the Gospel of John Yeshua says this:

These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:25–26, ESV)

The Father sends the Spirit in the Name of Yeshua, and it says that HE will teach you all things. So the Spirit is SENT by the Father in the NAME of the Son and has the ability to Teach? If I was wrestling with this, I might come to the conclusion that the Spirit (a manifestation of God) seems to act like an individual.In the end it seems that each group is describing the same coin in just a different way. Does that mean that they are both wrong or right, no, it just means that we in our flesh do not understand fully how to explain the many ways God has revealed him self to us. There are so many issues and positions like this, and most of the time we end up arguing over who is right.

So why do I bring all this up. Because or Lord and our God desire us to be in UNITY, one with one another just as He and the Father are one. But, what I see today is groups of unhappy people, who have been wounded, or feel that the people they are in fellowship with are not walking the way they should, so they find some problem they can latch hold of, take a righteous stand on it, then criticize the problems and then go form their own group that agrees with their position. To make themselves feel better they then attack all the things wrong with the other group. HOW IS THIS BEING ONE as the Father and Son are one.

Does that mean that I agree with what is being taught in many churches, NO. But, I do know that every church I have been too has believers that are seeking, but are not being grown in their faith, there is usually a CORE of believers that truly desire a deep relationship with Yeshua and the Father. Then there are those who are there to get their passport stamped and join a club and do the club things but never really desire to walk with the Lord. There are also people at many different points in their walk with the Lord and therefore do not fully understand things that someone who has been walking a longer time might. The unfortunate side of this is that many sermons are tailored to the least common denominator leaving many believers struggling to mature in their faith.

This is also why we still need to be good Bereans and search the scriptures to make sure what is being taught is true, but being a good Berean also means being a good student and understanding how to study and dig into the word. We also need to make greater efforts to disciple and teach younger believers how to walk a life of obedience.

None of the groups out there have all the right answers, even God has told us that every inclination of our hearts is evil. That includes me and you. So before we criticize, lets figure out how to lift each other up, encourage, equip, and edify the body. If someone does not agree with you, have productive discussions on the subject and pray for one another. Then maybe we can be ONE like the Father and Son Are One.

On Your Heart

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”(Jeremiah 31:33–34, ESV)

When Yeshua inaugurated the New Covenant, which we believe then allows the Holy Spirit to write God’s Torah upon our hearts, what that really means? I have known a lot of good Yeshua following believers in my life and none of them suddenly knew all of God’s commands or understood what it means to walk with God the day the decided to walk a life with Him. In fact, it seems that many believers continue to wade in the mud pit.

I have seen changed lives, and people repent of sin, and walk away from habitual or destructive lifestyles. I have seen restored marriages, angry and hateful people become long-suffering and peace loving, and exhibit qualities of godliness, but even then many of them have very little understanding of God’s Torah.

I have also heard theologians come up with all kinds of excuses as to why, including one that I use to say, which is that we won’t fully have all the Torah written on our heart until he comes back and we get our glorified bodies. But, where does it say that? The prophecy in Jeremiah seems to say that when the new covenant is given, part of that new covenant will be God writing His Torah on our hearts now.

So, what do we do? We dig into the scripture and see if we can see a pattern to help us understand what Jeremiah may have meant.

First we must understand what the scripture means by the heart. The Hebrew word is “lev”. Here is a summary list of what the Theological Dictionary of the OT (1) says this about this word…

1. “heart” became the richest biblical term for the totality of man’s inner or immaterial nature.

2. the majority of the usages of lēb refer either to the inner or immaterial nature in general or to one of the three traditional personality functions of man; emotion, thought, or will.

3. The whole spectrum of emotion is attributed to the heart.

4. Thought functions may be attributed to the heart. In such cases it is likely to be translated as “mind” or “understanding.” To “set the heart to” may mean to “pay attention to” (Ex 7:23) or to “consider important” (II Sam 18:32). Creative thought is a heart function.

5. Wisdom and understanding are seated in the heart.

6. The heart is the seat of the will. A decision may be described as “setting” the heart

Point 6 could be said this way…The heart is the seat of your desires.

Another interesting aspect of the word “lev” is the idea that is presented when one looks at the potential meaning derived from the ancient pictograph letters of this word.  Rev. Kathryn S. Patterson M.Min., BCCC gives a nice breakdown of the meanings:

Another “lamed” word is “lev” which is Hebrew for “heart.”  The Hebrew spelling for “lev” is “lamed” with a letter sound of “L” with a word picture of a “staff, control or strong/strength,” followed by a “bet” with the letter sound of “V” (sometimes a “B” when it has a dagesh or dot in the center) with a word picture of a “house or inside.” Together these two Hebrew letters, “lamed” followed by a “bet” spell “lev,” which is “heart.”  The Hebrew word picture is that the heart controls what is inside.” (http://www.biblelandstudies.com/Lamed.html)

The most interesting use in the above definition was point 4 above which said to set the heart was to pay attention to, or consider important.

Now lets look at a couple of verses of scripture:

My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:1–3, ESV)

A lot of Hebrew writing uses what is called parallelism. Where a thought is repeated but in another form. Here is Proverbs 3 the writer (Solomon) tells the son not to forget his teaching and to let his heart (that which controls the inside, the seat of emotions, the inner man) keep his commandments. He then tells him to “Let not steadfast love (chesed) and faithfulness forsake you” . The Faithlife study Bible (2) has this about steadfast love:

The word chesed describes a faithful covenantal love. Steadfast love and faithfulness preserve the rule of a king (20:28).

The idea of faithfulness and covenantal love is to preserve the rule of the King, or to say in another way, keep his commandments as a way of showing faithfulness and chesed.

The writer then says to “bind them to your neck and write them on the tablet of your heart”

The Faithlife Study Bible also says this about the idea to bind them to your neck…”A way to keep them close and ensure they will not be forgotten (Deut 6:8–9).” (2)

Here again we are getting parallel ideas, so that even to write them on the tablet of your heart is parallel to”do not forget my teaching” which also carries the idea of point 4 in our definition of the heart above. (“pay attention to” (Ex 7:23) or to “consider important”)

Proverbs 7 is similar in its structure, lets take a look:

My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. (Proverbs 7:1–3, ESV)

Here we see the idea to “treasure up my commandments” and the parralel “bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart”  giving us the same basic idea.

So in Jeremiah 31, the the writer may actually be telling us that what controls our inside, our desires, the inner man, is going to pay attention to or consider important the Torah. The one who is going to enable this is the Holy Spirit. Now, that makes more sense to me. The Holy Spirit living inside of me now gives me a passion and desire for God’s word.

This makes what James writes about in James chapter 1 about asking for wisdom, and testing our faith, and steadfastness, that we may be perfect and complete, contrasted by this verse:

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14–15, ESV)

Our desire, which is found in the heart, that which controls our inside is what can tempt us towards sin, so if God then puts into us a new heart, or writes his Torah upon our hearts, and the idea is to give us a passion and desire for His Word, then what controls our insides is guided by God’s Torah, which effectively is Yeshua the Living Word who we are told to Imitate!!!

This makes far greater sense to me, and also aligns more perfectly with what I see in true followers of Yeshua, and also in my own testimony. Before I committed my life to follow Yeshua I read the Bible but it was not that important or interesting. After I committed my life to walking with Yeshua, the Word of God came alive and I had so much passion and desire for His word.

What is even move interesting is that we still have free will, and can choose to disobey what God has placed in us. In doing so we quench or hinder God’s work in our lives. This also lines up with what the Lord said in Deuteronomy…

See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.” (Deuteronomy 30:15–18, ESV)

By the way, this verse follows on the heals of God telling His people that:

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:6, ESV)

Lord, thank you that you put your Spirit within us and give us a new heart that desires and is passionate about obedience to your word. May the words of the Apostle John ever ring truer in my life..

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.” (John 14:15–17, ESV)

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) Bowling, A. (1999). 1071 לָבַב. (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke, Eds.)Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press.

(2) Barry, J. D., Grigoni, M. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Pr 3:3). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

 

 

In the beginning

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” (Genesis 1:1–5, ESV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:1–5, ESV)

The book of Genesis and the book of John start our with the most amazing statement…”In the beginning” What is even more amazing is that Yeshua (Jesus) is right there as well.

Is it not interesting that verse 3 in Genesis God says “Let there be light” and yet we do not see the creation of the sun, moon, or stars until the fourth day. The book of John gives us even more insight into Genesis. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.compared to the verse in Genesis…“God separated the light from the darkness.

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.” (John 1:9–10, ESV)

So many arguments are stirred up regarding the science of creation that sometimes we forget that this is not about science, it is about Yeshua. The word for light in Genesis 1 is from the root owr which means to be or to make luminous. Is it possible that the phrase “Let there be light” is the first revealing of Jesus our Messiah? Lets look at a few other verses that are just amazing when you really ponder them.

The Lord is my light (owr) and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1, ESV)

The sun shall be no more your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun shall no more go down, nor your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.” (Isaiah 60:19–20, ESV)

And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. And the vision I saw was just like the vision that I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and just like the vision that I had seen by the Chebar canal. And I fell on my face.” (Ezekiel 43:2–3, ESV)

He (Yeshua) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 1:3, ESV)

…“for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”” (Luke 2:30–32, ESV)

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (John 8:12, ESV)

Not only is Yeshua revealed as the light of the world, but it also says he is the light of life!  In scripture darkness is also a symbol of death and separation. So when John says “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:4, ESV) He is showing us that Yeshua IS LIFE. He is the one who overcomes the darkness (death). Which is what happens on the cross!

Back in Genesis then, is not the separation of light and darkness a separation also of life and death? Is this possibly just a very subtle foreshadowing of the choices we would have before us in our walk of obedience before our God…“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days…….(Deuteronomy 30:19–20, ESV)

Then once we have choose life, what are we to do with it?  We are obey his voice, and that voice says this about the light….““You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14–16, ESV)

The light of Yeshua, the radiance of the glory of God is reflected in us as we walk in obedience to Him, and that is not to be hidden or concealed but is to be shined before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to our Father in Heaven….“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV)

So what are the good works that God prepared beforehand? His instructions on how we should live…The Word of God! His Torah!

Lord, help me to live a life that is aligned with your Words and instructions, and may I humbly walk with my Lord and reflect HIS light to the world around me. AMEN.

 

 

 

 

Good for Food

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:8–9, ESV)

Our fallen nature seems to always be seeking a reason why God gave us a particular set of commands in the Torah. One such area is is regarding food. In Genesis 2:8-9 the Torah tells us that the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was good for food, but just a few verses later he says this to the man:

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15–17, ESV)

There is no explanation, no reason, no argument, just what the consequence will be if it is not obeyed. Is it possible that maybe God just wants to see if we will just walk in obedience by faith alone without reason?

When we get to Leviticus we see this instruction given:

“Every swarming thing that swarms on the ground is detestable; it shall not be eaten. Whatever goes on its belly, and whatever goes on all fours, or whatever has many feet, any swarming thing that swarms on the ground, you shall not eat, for they are detestable. You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, and you shall not defile yourselves with them, and become unclean through them. For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy. You shall not defile yourselves with any swarming thing that crawls on the ground. For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.” This is the law about beast and bird and every living creature that moves through the waters and every creature that swarms on the ground, to make a distinction between the unclean and the clean and between the living creature that may be eaten and the living creature that may not be eaten.” (Leviticus 11:41–47, ESV)

Here in Leviticus we are given a reason for why God tells us not to eat certain animals, He wants us to consecrate ourselves and be Holy because He is Holy.

Then man steps in and says why? We come up with all kinds of reasons and speculation as we ague with God. We may say he was protecting us from disease, or some other problem related to eating those animals.

Maybe God just wants to see if we will walk in obedience to him by faith. And if we do, did not our Lord say something about that as well to His people:

“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 28:1–2, ESV)

So, in obedience to the Lord (as His already saved people) he desires to bless us.So what happens if we are not obedient?

“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you…….“The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.”(Deuteronomy 28:15–21, ESV)

Seems that as God’s people, when we disobey the Lord (which He says is forsaking Him) we will then experience curses. Curses and not some magical incantation or God zapping us. They are simply resistance in what we try to do and accomplish. It is confusion and frustration in what we undertake to do, until the day we die, or until the day we REPENT!

So, we come to the apostolic writings and try something new. We translate certain passages with a bit of bias towards our theological position, or we take passages out of context or infer meaning onto a passage to make it fit the way we want it to. Let’s take a look at just a couple examples:

And he said to them, “Then are you also without understanding? Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him, since it enters not his heart but his stomach, and is expelled?” (Thus he declared all foods clean.)” (Mark 7:18–19, ESV)

The assumption here is that Jesus declared all foods clean. But, is that really what the passage says? It is also a passage that needs to be kept in the context of the entire dialog of Mark chapter 7.

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” (Mark 7:1–5, ESV)

The question that Jesus is answering is a question on not washing hands based on TRADITION. The problem that the Pharisees had was if your hands had touched something unclean and you did not wash them, then when you ate and touched the food with your unclean hand, then the food which you ate would make you unclean. This was not what was in the Torah, but was a FENCE that the Pharisees had put up.

Now, that is not the end though. Seems that some of our translations have tried to help us with our theology. Let’s take a look at the first passage from the KJV and Young s Literal translation:

and he saith to them, ‘So also ye are without understanding! Do ye not perceive that nothing from without entering into the man is able to defile him? because it doth not enter into his heart, but into the belly, and into the drain it doth go out, purifying all the meats.’” (Mark 7:18–19, YLT)

And he saith unto them, Are ye so without understanding also? Do ye not perceive, that whatsoever thing from without entereth into the man, it cannot defile him; Because it entereth not into his heart, but into the belly, and goeth out into the draught, purging all meats?” (Mark 7:18–19, KJV 1900)

This passage simply does not say “(Thus he declared all foods clean.)”  Jesus is just showing that food touched by our hands does not make us unclean.

Another verse that is used to say we can eat any food we want is in Peters dream in the book of Acts. I am not going to have a long discussion or argument about it, but if we truly believe that scripture interprets scripture then why do we infer our own interpretation into Peters dream when Peter himself tells us what the dream was about:

Now while Peter was inwardly perplexed as to what the vision that he had seen might mean, behold, the men who were sent by Cornelius, having made inquiry for Simon’s house, stood at the gate and called out to ask whether Simon who was called Peter was lodging there. And while Peter was pondering the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. Rise and go down and accompany them without hesitation, for I have sent them.” ………And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean. (Acts 10:17–28, ESV)

The text has many opportunities to tell us that not only has God declared Gentiles clean, but food as well.  For Peter seems to remain perplexed until the arrival of Cornelius and the understanding that the TRADITION that Jews not associate with or visit anyone from another nation was not of God’s will and that he should not consider them unclean or common.

In the Apostolic scriptures, God through His writers still asks us to be Holy, and still asks us to be obedient. The question we must ask is are we willing to walk in obedience by faith and faith alone? Or do we need God to explain to us why?

Lord, Help me to put away pride and self deception and give me a heart that desires to follow you in faithful obedience to all you teach and show me. Amen.

Wisdom

“See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” (Deuteronomy 4:5–6, ESV)

At my church we just finished a series that looked at sections of the book of Ecclesiastes. During the sermon we read from chapter 7 and this particular verse stuck out to me.

“For the protection of wisdom is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it.” (Ecclesiastes 7:12, ESV)  

So I thought, what does Wisdom really mean? Then I could better understand how it can preserve life.

First I looked up the definition in Holman’s Bible Dictionary and found this basic definition:

First, wisdom is considered by many to be simply the art of learning how to succeed in life. Apparently ancient persons learned very early that there was orderliness to the world in which they lived. They also learned that success and happiness came from living in accordance with that orderliness (Prov. 22:17–24:22). Second, wisdom is considered by some to be a philosophical study of the essence of life. Certainly much of the books of Job and Ecclesiastes seem to deal with just such existential issues of life (Job 30:29–31). Third, though the other definitions might include this, it seems that the real essence of wisdom is spiritual, for life is more than just living by a set of rules and being rewarded in some physical manner. Undoubtedly in this sense wisdom comes from God (Prov. 2:6). Thus, though it will involve observation and instruction, it really begins with God and one’s faith in Him as Lord and Savior Hunt. (2003). (Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.)

The first two definitions seem to be the more predominate views that I have heard on wisdom in the past, and the third view is one I have heard more frequently in church settings, but does it really capture what it means?

I went back to Deuteronomy 4:5-6 and found that the definition for wisdom was laid out plainly by our Lord…I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them.

I looked up the OT word for wisdom (ḥokmâ) in the Theological Wordbook of the OT and believe that it actually captured the essence of Deut 4:5-6:

The wisdom of the OT however, is quite distinct from other ancient world views although the format of wisdom literature is similar to that of other cultures. Reflected in OT wisdom is the teaching of a personal God who is holy and just and who expects those who know him to exhibit his character in the many practical affairs of life. This perfect blend of the revealed will of a holy God with the practical human experiences of life is also distinct from the speculative wisdom of the Greeks. The ethical dynamic of Greek philosophy lay in the intellect; if a person had perfect knowledge he could live the good life (Plato). Knowledge was virtue. The emphasis of OT wisdom was that the human will, in the realm of practical matters, was to be subject to divine causes. Therefore, Hebrew wisdom was not theoretical and speculative. It was practical, based on revealed principles of right and wrong, to be lived out in daily life. (Goldberg, L. (1999). 647 חָכַם. (R. L. Harris, G. L. Archer Jr., & B. K. Waltke, Eds.)Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press.)

There are 2 verses that come to mind that also encapsulate this basic idea in the NT.

 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV)

It equips us, is this not what we are to gather together each week to do?

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” (Ephesians 4:11–13, ESV)  

Then, as we are equipped (See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me) we are then suppose to use them in our daily walk with the Lord:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22–25, ESV)  

Again, this is what we find in Deut: “Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples.”

Today, we do everything in our power to find the loop holes in the Words of God. Just like we do in our american legal system. We argue passionately over what God expects of us based on our own desires, and many even use the erasable Bible to justify living the way they want instead of seeking the way God desires us to live.

Yeshua has paid the penalty for our sinfulness, but that does not give us the license to live our lives the way we want to live them. The Lord’s standards for living in His covenant community have not changed, nor has He. Yeshua set the standard for us to follow by living it out in it’s fullness through the power of the Holy Spirit. We have that same Spirit dwelling in us and therefor the full power of God giving us the ability to live the same way.

Is it not really our stubbornness and pride that truly stand in the way?

Lord, help me to put away pride and stubbornness. Help me to hear your words and Keep them and do them for living each new day that you bless us with.

I can now fill in a more complete version of Ecclesiastes 7:12:

“For the protection of hearing and doing the words of God is like the protection of money, and the advantage of knowledge is that hearing and doing the words of God preserves the life of him who has it.” (hmm, sounds like obedience!)

Is that not what Solomon concludes at the end of Ecclesiastes?

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13, ESV)

Remember

 “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? ” (Zechariah 1:5–6, ESV)

The Lord through the prophet Zechariah is asking this generation to look back at the example of the previous generations and learn from them. God used them as an example. Why? Because this generation still had the same root problem that the previous generation had, a problem that has existed since the days of Noah…

“…the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.” (Genesis 8:21, ESV)

Then the Lord makes this point..”But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers?”

To understand the full meaning of what he is saying only requires one to turn to Deut. 28 and read the whole chapter. The theme of this chapter is a list of blessings that will overtake the people if they are obedient, and curses that will overtake the people if they are disobedient. In other words, what the Lord spoke regarding our choices, will happen. It may seem that God is not acting on it now, but it will come to pass and the Lord’s judgment will come.

When Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians, the southern Kingdom of Judah had them as an example.

 “The Lord said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 3:6–10, ESV)

What about today, Paul had this to say in 1 Cor 10

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:1–13, ESV)  

Not only is it an example, but it is written down for our instruction! What have we done with it? We change the terms to be more palatable, we redefine what God has called sin, we ignore the sections that don’t agree with our desires, and like Judah we justify our own folly by wrapping it in nice terms like freedom and grace. Don’t get me wrong, God is a God of grace, the entire Bible is full of His amazing grace, but it has become a tool we use to justify our own sinful desires.

God may desire for us to remember the failures of our previous generations, but He also desires us to look to Him and remember the amazing things He has done for us and not to forget the instruction he has provided for us to walk in…

“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”” (Luke 22:19, ESV)

“Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery,” (Deuteronomy 8:11–14, ESV)  

“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of Israel his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!” (1 Chronicles 16:11–13, ESV)  

 “See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today? “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children— how on the day that you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, the Lord said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.’” (Deuteronomy 4:5–10, ESV)

“‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” (Revelation 3:1–3, ESV)  

This last verse is a wake up call, it suggests a body of believers who have a reputation of being alive, the people in the community surrounding them saw works that suggested that this was a vibrant active body of believers. This may also suggest that they to believed that they were alive. We are doing all the right things, we are growing, we are doing great things in the community around us…but, they were dead. This is a position of pride, and dare I say it is pride inside the body. We must be so careful today to remember this example that has been written down for our instruction. What did the Lord desire to see...

“Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent.”

Lord, help us to have a heart of humility, help us to seek after your instructions and not our traditions, help us to remember what we have received and heard, keep it, and repent.

A final thought from Charles Spurgeon:

“Repentance grows as faith grows. Do not make any mistake about it; repentance is not a thing of days and weeks, a temporary penance to be got over as fast as possible! No; it is the grace of a lifetime, like faith itself. God’s little children repent, and so do the young men and the fathers. Repentance is the inseparable companion of faith.” 
― Charles H. SpurgeonAll of Grace 

Testing

 “I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.” (Judges 2:21–22, ESV)

I heard this verse mentioned on the radio and even though I have explored it loosely in the past, I though it might be interesting to look a little deeper into the scripture and see how I can know the my Lord better through these verses that talk about His testing. So starting in Genesis I want to explore a handful of these verses and what the theme is surrounding them.

1 . The testing of Faith

“After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (Genesis 22:1–2, ESV)  

The Lord had finally given Abraham the child of promise, the one whom the promised blessings would come from, so what does he ask him to do? Offer him as a burnt offering. I would love to peal back the curtain of Abraham’s mind and see what he was thinking, maybe the statement to his son gives a small clue…

“Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.” (Genesis 22:8, ESV)  

Either way you look at this passage, the one thing is very clear, God was testing Abraham to see if he was faithful. The result is something that would be a theme for a walk of faithfulness…Blessing!!

 “And the angel of the Lord called to Abraham a second time from heaven and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” So Abraham returned to his young men, and they arose and went together to Beersheba. And Abraham lived at Beersheba.” (Genesis 22:15–19, ESV)

What is really important to see in this passage is that faith is tied intimately with obeying God’s voice. Faith and Obedience go together.

2. Testing of our walk

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my Torah or not.” (Exodus 16:4, ESV)

This is not just a once and done test, this is to see if they will walk in His Torah. Are the people willing to walk (lifestyle day by day) by the instructions God has given to them. When you think about it, what an amazing God we have, he has told us His desire for our lives. We don’t have to guess what will please Him. That is true freedom. The other god’s represented by idols, where silent, and the people who worshiped them did all kinds of crazy things without ever really knowing if they were pleasing their god.

3. Testing the fear of the Lord

God spoke directly to the people from the mountain his 10 words which would form an outline for the rest of his instruction. Moses then said this to the people…“Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.” (Exodus 20:20–21, ESV)

What is the purpose of His testing in this passage?  “that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.”  This suggest something we should understand about the fear of God. How can the fear of Him bring us to a point of not sinning?

This is fleshed out later on in the instructions…

“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Deuteronomy 6:1–3, ESV)  

How does one fear God…by keeping all his statures and his commandments!!

4. Testing to refine or perfect us

God may test us directly, or he may test us by way of the adversary. The best example of this is the entire book of Job. But it is very important to see that all of the testing of Job came by way of God’s control.

“And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.” (Job 1:8–12, ESV)  

Job walked a life of obedience. God continually promises that if we walk in obedience then His desire is to bless us. But, that does not mean that He will not test us. Here the testing is designed to refine Job, because in the end Job sees God even better. Look at what he says in Job 42…

“Then Job answered the Lord and said: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you make it known to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes. (Job 42:1–6, ESV)  

In the end he sees the Lord more clearly, and what is the result…repentance!! Is that not so very true in our lives? The more clearly we see our Lord, the more dirty we feel and thus we should be driven to have the same attitude as Job…”repent in dust and ashes”

Job is the example that maybe Peter has in mind as he encourages us also in times of testing…

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:6–9, ESV)  

Our faith is tested, sometimes by fire, but the outcome is wonderful, praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah, and the outcome of our faith…the salvation of your soul.

Lord, help me to see you more clearly, may my attitude be one of humility and repentance. In all things good and bad may I look to you, and you alone who purifies and perfects us into you image…“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:2, ESV)

To Know Him

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” (John 17:3–4, ESV)

Each year I like to pick a Bible verse that will be my verse for the year, though this one may become my second life verse. My heart so yearns for this verse to be a reality in my life. To know the only true God, and Yeshua the Messiah whom you have sent!! So I ask the question daily, how? The answer is so simple, yet in practice it seems so challenging at times. God has revealed Himself in the Scriptures, so if I really want to know Him then I must study them. But not in a way that I just want to gain knowledge, when I study I am always asking the question of how can I know Him better in these verses, or even sometimes in just a single word. The word “know” in the above passage is a very interesting word to look at. In the general Greek sense of the word ginosko it can be just intelligent comprehension, but the word that corresponds to this word in the Septuagint is the Hebrew word yada which according to the TWOT can be used for the most intimate acquaintance. I like what the Little Kittle has to say about the OT usage of the word

A movement of will is involved which means that ignorance is guilty. Knowledge is acknowledgment of God’s acts (Dt. 11:20), recognition that Yahweh is God (Dt. 4:39), and the honoring of his name and doing of his will (1 Sam. 2:12; Is. 1:3, etc.). Hence knowledge of God is much the same as fear of God” (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. (1985). Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. )

So in this blog I hope to share in my journey as I walk with my Lord and Savior Yeshua our Messiah.