Rightly Dividing

Rightly Dividing vs. Wrongly Subtracting

How dedicated are you in your walk? In a world of compromises, many are willing to compromise the Word and their future by selling out to this shallow, transitory world.

Yahweh is a Mighty One of detail and He expects nothing short of total compliance. To demonstrate, consider the specifics He instructed for the design of the High Priest’s robe, down to its smallest embellishment. Consider the intricate design in the structure and furnishing of the tabernacle and temple. Note how He commanded the Ark of the Covenant to be transported, and even killed a man who unwittingly touched it.

Both the priest, temple, and ark were central to His worship and reveal the strictness Yahweh expects in His devotion.
When Yahshua said in Matthew 5:18 that not one yod or tittle would pass from Yahweh’s commands, He was conveying to us that compliance to even the smallest part of Yahweh’s mandate is a must.

Is Halfway Okay?
Let’s face facts. Humans are naturally lazy. We cut corners and do just enough to get by. We like to water down clear commands to make them more palatable, change worship to our liking – which is to be more like the world – and to bring in simpler substitutes to get around demanding requirements. That has been the well-walked path of churchianity all through the centuries.

Human nature consistently proves that once you crack open the door, the floodgates of compromise are not far behind. If you allow the camel to work its nose under the tent flap you will soon have a thousand pounds of dromedary in your lap.

The question is, how much devotion does Yahweh expect of His worshipers? If going halfway is okay with Him, then we can go halfway. If not, then our duty is to learn exactly what He wants. He is the One in charge. He decides our eternal future.

Why would we NOT want to be zealous in the way we honor Him? Yahweh is clear that he hates halfhearted, indifferent effort.
“So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth,” Revelation 3:16. He’ll reject anyone having a permissive attitude who accepts half-truths and compromise in their worship.

Not one of Yahweh’s inspired writers presented any part of Yahweh’s worship as optional. Yahweh never allows multiple choices when it comes to our worship and obedience. There is only one way to follow Him – and everything must go that way. Paul wrote, “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Master, one faith, one baptism,” Ephesians 4:4-5.

In His wisdom, knowing clearly the nature of people, Yahshua pronounced that the way is narrow. That means it is exacting and restrictive. Because of it, few would find and maintain the Truth.

Attention to detail in faith and obedience reveals the heart and strength of personal resolve. In Matthew 5:19 Yahshua said, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

Does that mean practicing and teaching commandment breaking will still allow a place in the Kingdom, but only as a doorkeeper?

The Twenty Century New Testament in combination with Moffatt’s translation reads in verse 19 that such a person will be “least esteemed in the realm of heaven.” In other words, the commandment breaking, no-law advocate will have zero respect or honor among the heavenly hosts, which includes Yahweh and Yahshua.

Our salvation hinges on true understanding of the Bible and what is expected of us. Whether we walk in Truth depends on a correct grasp of that Truth as well as our resolve to follow it.

In 2Thessalonians 5:21 Paul wrote, “Prove all things, hold fast to that which is good.” Paul also told Timothy, “Study to show yourself approved unto Elohim, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth,” 2Timothy 2:15.
That doesn’t mean running to the minister with every Bible question. It means studying it out yourself to learn the Truth.

One Path, Not Many
We cannot afford to be flippant or careless with the Scriptures. The Word, Paul said, is given for proper doctrine, correction, and instruction in righteous living, 2Timothy 3:16. It speaks to the ultimate goal of salvation. Why should Yahweh give us specific instruction about life and worship if we’re just going to toss it all out and follow our own plan?

Many Bible students approach the Word in a piecemeal way, yanking verses or parts of verses from their context and completely changing the meaning. Others ignore passages that don’t agree with their beliefs.

Paul told Timothy: “Take heed unto yourself, and unto the doctrine [proper teachings]; continue in them: for in doing this you shall save both yourself, and them that hear you,” 1Timothy 4:16.

For a variety of reasons some passages create difficulty in understanding. Doctrinal problems result when care is not taken to rightly divide the Word. Along with impure motives, rebellion led churchianity to purge from their teachings the law and obedience, including observance of the Sabbath and Feast days.

Our culture suffers profoundly from ignorance of the Scriptures. Clerics steeped in man-made tradition only compound the problem. In Job 38:2 Yahweh asks rhetorically of Job as well as us in our day, “Who [is] this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”

Simply put, Yahweh asks who are these teachers who teach when they don’t know the truth themselves, and only make matters worse?

Not even a small percentage of churchgoers is aware of 2Timothy 2:15 and its command for individual study. The mandate is for each to “rightly divide the word of truth.” This phrase derives from the Greek orthotomeo. The Expository Dictionary says it does not mean dividing Scripture from Scripture, but teaching Scripture accurately.

The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge says the reference “is not to dividing up Scripture into dispensations, and applying to ourselves only what is allegedly valid for this dispensation…The emphasis is not upon ‘right division’ (which in the practice of some is ‘wrong subtraction,’ but on correct interpretation)” p. 1432.

Another verse addressing proper discernment of teachings is Philippians 1:10, where, after Paul encourages us to abound in knowledge and in all judgment, he says, “That you may approve the things that are excellent…” “Are excellent” should have been rendered, set apart that which is better from what is not (Restoration Study Bible note).

Every teaching must harmonize with the Word. When it doesn’t the result is the error the church has promoted for the past 2,000 years.

If the Roman Church had eradicated unorthodox beliefs and practices instead of blending error with truth, churchianity would be completely different today. There would not be this stark contrast between what the apostles and Yahshua taught and practiced with today’s tangled mishmash of doctrines.

How then can we read Yahweh’s Word and know that we are properly understanding it? How can we make right interpretations? How should we go about rightly dividing the Word and testing doctrines that differ?

Bible study is serious business. Study of the Word should be systematic. It takes discipline and dedication to do it properly.
To get off on the right foot, start with good study Bibles like the Companion and Restoration Study Bible. Your understanding will increase exponentially when you dig down to the foundational languages of the text, which these Bibles do.

When you compare other parallel or contrasting verses, as typically provided in a good study Bible like the RSB, you get a more complete understanding.

Some Bible Study Basics
Both the Old and New testaments were written in Hebrew. That’s clear for several reasons, not the least of which is that most every writer writes in his native language, which for the writers of both testaments was Hebrew.

These were not Greeks or Greek-speaking Jews living in Galilee in the first century. They were native, blue-collar Jews who spoke Hebrew, the language of the nation. Even Paul who was a native Benjaminite-Jew wrote to Hebrew-speaking Jews in various assemblies of the dispersion.

Yet only Greek manuscripts of the New Testament survive today, of which there are some 5,400, not to mention thousands of Latin versions and other languages like Syriac, Coptic and Armenian.

Most of the existing manuscripts derive from the Middle Ages, from the 7th century onward. Of all the thousands of Greek manuscripts, no two are exactly alike. Some scholars put the differences at 200,000, others at 300,000, meaning there are more differences in manuscripts than there are words in the entire New Testament.

Realize also that the manuscripts were all hand written (which is what “manu-script” means). Sometimes scribes left out words, lines or even entire pages, especially when two lines ended with the same words. It didn’t help that they didn’t use paragraph divisions, lower case letters, or punctuation.

Complicating the process was the lack of spacing between words. Words were all run together in the ancient Hebrew and Greek texts.

Sometimes translators with insufficient understanding would introduce mistakes when they thought they were fixing a factual or doctrinal error.

Some of their changes are not critical but others are. For instance, the oldest and best manuscripts of John don’t have the story of the woman taken in adultery, where Yahshua says, “He that is without sin cast the first stone.” Think about that – if only sinless people could inflict such punishment, then the Old Testament law of stoning would not exist.
This account does not appear in any manuscript until the 12th century.

The passage of 1John 5:7-8 is the only one in the entire Bible appearing to teach a trinity of father son and Holy Spirit. The passage, however, is missing in all except one of the 5,400 Greek manuscripts in existence, and then it doesn’t occur until after the invention of the printing press in the 15th century.

Ironically, sometimes the more difficult a passage reads the more faithful is to the original translation when scribes didn’t try so hard to manipulate the text.

Error from Ignorance
All of this is to say that trying to understand Yahweh’s Word through a cloudy filter thousands of years old, and through several languages besides, can at times be like trying to create a gourmet meal in the kitchen of a storm-tossed ship. Simplistic explanations are not always sufficient.

This is just one more case for the importance of the Old Testament as the anchor for New Testament teachings. Sometimes it is the only authority we have to ascertain the truth of a New Testament passage.

Yahshua taught the Old Testament, often referred to it, and urged His followers to read it and follow its teachings. In a question about the fate of wives in the resurrection, the Sadducees in Matthew 22 tried to trip Yahshua up. He told them, “You do err, not knowing the Scriptures.”

He went to the foundation of Truth, the Old Testament, known as the Scriptures.

Modern clerics would rather Yahshua have said, “But soon when I die and am resurrected I will have put to rest that obsolete Old Testament and given you freedom to live as you wish. Rest assured that no matter how you conduct your life you will still be saved. So hang on a few decades longer until a fellow named Paul writes a new Bible that will free you from the need to obey the statutes Yahweh gave for salvation.”

If the Old Testament is defunct, then why did Yahshua quote the Old Testament to prove who He was? Why did Yahshua refer to the Old Testament as proof of His Messiahship? Why did Yahshua instruct in his sermons to live by every word that comes from Yahweh? Why did Yahshua take so much time and effort expounding the teachings of the Old Testament?

The Old Testament Scriptures are the foundation of Yahweh’s Word. They testify to His existence, His purpose, and the plan for Yahshua’s coming to this earth. They cannot be subtracted from the Bible without destroying the message, meaning, and design of the entire Word.

613 Laws

What about the 613 Laws?

What about the 613 Laws?
Many embrace Jewish traditions more than Scripture. They observe purely Jewish holidays like Hanukkah and Purim and neglect the commanded seven annual Holy Days of Leviticus 23. Incidentally, the word Purim is Persian and means “lots,” as in casting lots. The ancient practice worked like a horoscope, where the heathen cast lots to divine the future each day.

Following Jewish practices often leads to renouncing the New Testament and along with it, Yahshua the Messiah.

At the other end of the spectrum are critics of obedience as practiced in the New Testament. “So do you keep all 613 laws?” they typically ask in a “gotcha” attempt intended to entrap. Let’s take an overview of what the Jews contend are the 613 laws of the Old Testament.

Granted, we observe the vast majority of Yahweh’s commands in the way He intended. But there are some commands that clearly could only apply to the time of ancient Israel.

For instance, a statute in Deuteronomy 22:8 says to make a low wall about 3 feet tall around your roof. That law makes sense for safety on flat roofs in Israel because families used their roofs as living spaces. But it makes no practical sense for most homes today in America.

Following are more of the 613 laws we today cannot comply with because of their nature: Leviticus 25:34 says Levites are to redeem their homes in their Levitical towns; their houses are redeemable but the land surrounding them is not. To keep this law we need first to find out where any remaining Levites are today, where their fields are and where their cities are. If we can’t determine that then we fail in this law.

Deuteronomy 12:2-3 directs Israel to destroy their idolatry and its appurtenances. Anyone care to go through retail stores in December and take a hammer to all the Santa figures and cut down all the Xmas trees?

Exodus 22:18 targets witchcraft with a mandate not to allow a witch to live. What would happen if we took this law into our own hands vigilante style?

Then there are all the laws pertaining to the high priest and the conducting of temple worship. Being we are not under the Levitical priesthood, these laws are unobservable today. Hebrews 5:6 tells us, “As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

Anyone with a physical defect shall not serve in the sanctuary, Leviticus 21:17. There is no sanctuary or priesthood even existing now.

We get ourselves into a real predicament if we attempt to keep the sacrificial laws today because sacrifices are owned by Yahshua’s power as our High Priest in the Melchisedec order. His sacrifice covered all sacrifices for sin. We best not offer animal sacrifices if we value our salvation as there is no complete removal of sin under the old system of animal sacrifices.

Those 613 laws (a number not found in Scripture but only in Talmudic tradition) were also the constitution of Israel. Those statutes were necessary for running a righteous, theocratic government under Yahweh. They include laws on how a ruler should conduct himself as well as statutes governing political interactions with other nations. They regulated court proceedings and judgments, punishing of criminals, citizen behavior, social interactions, and worship.

Many of these statutes are not in our power to comply with because we live under a Roman system, a government of man, which has assumed some of Yahweh’s prerogatives. The Bible was Israel’s constitution and it will be again in the millennial Kingdom.

Now, biblical laws dealing with Yahweh’s worship, social relations, and morality are for everyone. Many crossover categories. The following is a quick breakdown of major divisions of biblical law and some examples of each.

Governmental Law
The king must not have too many wives and horses, Deut. 17:16,17
The king must not have too much silver and gold, Deut. 17:17
Regulations of houses in walled cities, Lev. 25:29
How can such statutes apply to us?

Judicial Law
Appoint impartial judges, Deut. 1:17 and16:18
A judicial court must not execute anyone on the testimony of a single witness, Deut.17:6; Num. 35:30
Anyone who knows the evidence must testify in a court case, Lev. 5:1
Punish the false witness exactly as he sought to punish the accused, Deut. 19:19
How can these laws apply to us in a court system that’s not ours?

Moral Law (regulates relationships with fellow man, Ex. 20:12-17; Matt. 22:37-39)
Don’t bear a grudge, Lev. 19:18
Don’t wrong any one in speech, Lev. 25:17
Don’t curse father or mother. Ex. 21:17
Keep your word and your promises, Deut. 23:23
Don’t take revenge, Lev. 19:18
Don’t be superstitious, Lev. 19:26
Keep the Ten Commandments, Ex. 20
These laws are for everyone in any age.

Spiritual Law
Observe the Ten Commandments, Ex. 20; Deut. 5
Keep the Feasts and Sabbath, Lev. 23
Eat only clean foods, Lev. 11
Observe the sabbaticals and jubilees, Lev. 25
Yahweh no longer wants animal sacrifices (Hebrews 10:5)
Animal sacrifices did not remove sin. (Hebrews 10:11). They simply pointed to the Messiah who was to die as the Lamb of Elohim who would take away the sin of the world.
Crossover laws: Don’t allow anyone practicing witchcraft to live (Ex. 22:17)
Slay the inhabitants of a city that has become idolatrous and burn that city (Deut. 13:16-17)
Man’s statutes do not change perpetual spiritual laws such as sodomite marriages.

Civil Law
Order of inheritance, Num. 27:8
Help a brother with his fallen beast of burden, Deut. 22:4
Don’t overcharge or underpay for an item, Lev. 25:14
Don’t charge a believer interest, Deut. 23:19-20
Houses sold within a walled city may be redeemed within a year, Lev. 25:29

Yahshua Our Standard
Yahshua is our guide when it comes to obedience, as He provided the proper example of how to live the precepts of His Father Yahweh. Being sinless, Yahshua was faithful to the Old Testament commandments, including the weekly Sabbath and Feasts, Hebrews 4:15, 1Peter 2:22.
The Saints at the end of the Bible are defined as those who “keep the commandments of Yahweh, and the faith of Yahshua,” Revelation 14:12. They have both Yahshua and the law. Obedience to the commandments as well as fidelity to the same standard of living shown by Yahshua come as a unit. Those who do Yahweh’s commandments are called blessed, and they will have right to Yahshua’s coming Kingdom, Revelation 22:14

We pray that this Article on the 613 laws was a blessing to you, we encourage you to check out some of our other articles and visit our Youtube channel!

Bible is real facts

The Bible’s Amazing Continuity

The big problem in the traditional move to retire the law is the concept of grace.

Here is a challenge. If we can find grace operating in the Old Testament, side by side with the law, then would you agree that grace doesn’t replace the need to obey? You would realize that grace is an important part of obedience that is taught in the Old Testament (first covenant).

Everyone knows that the Old Testament is a collection of books that teach lots of law, obedience to that law, and punishment for breaking it. So if we find grace in the Old Testament operating alongside the law, then there are no contradictions between the two concepts. Grace could not supplant the law.

And if we should also be able to find both law and grace in the New Testament, then there should be no contradictions anywhere in the understanding that law and grace go together. True enough, we can find both law and grace in the New as well.  They operate side by side in both testaments.

Take a look at Exodus 34:6-7. The setting here is Moses on Sinai about to receive the law: “And Yahweh passed by before him, and proclaimed, Yahweh, Yahweh Elohim, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.”

The accompaniment of grace even while giving the law was a fulfilled promise of Yahweh in verse 19 of the previous chapter.

Obedient Noah and Abraham Found Grace

Back in Genesis 6:8 we see the same with Noah, as Yahweh treats him with grace: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Yahweh.” Noah was also a law-keeping individual, Genesis 6:9, and that is a key element in why Yahweh chose him to preserve the human race. You don’t walk with Yahweh by being disobedient. Adam and Eve learned the hard way that disobedience literally gets you nowhere.

What about Abraham, the father of the righteous? Genesis 26:5 tells us that Abraham “obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

This tells us not only that the law was in effect long before Moses and Mt. Sinai, but also that Abraham knew he had to obey Yahweh through Yahweh’s statutes and commands. That was a given as part of the covenant. No argument or discussion. Yahweh’s covenants are unilateral and non-negotiable. The Old Covenant centered on obedience. Read about it in Hebrews 8. As you read it, notice that very little actually changes between Old and New Covenants. In fact, a prominent characteristic is that the Covenant is dearer to our hearts. We live obedience closer out of an inner desire.

Was Abraham, then, living outside of grace by being obedient? Absolutely not. Titus 2:12 tells us that grace actually teaches obedience. Although Jude 4 says people like to turn grace into disobedience, Paul tells us in Romans 6:1-2 that disobedience stops at the acceptance of grace. So grace doesn’t negate obedience, it initiates obedience.

If all it takes is belief and faith to be worthy in Yahweh’s eyes, then why was Abraham, a man experienced in Yahweh’s grace as Noah was, still obedient to Yahweh’s commandments, statutes and laws? Because faith without obedience is a contradiction.

We show our faith by our obedience. We prove to Yahweh that we have faith and love for Him by doing what He commands us to do.  What kind of faith do we show if we walk all over everything He tells us to do, and treat with contempt what is sacred to Him? Obviously, no faith at all!

In perfect harmony with this truth James tells us that faith without works is dead, 2:17-22.

Paul in His Obedience Was Under Grace

Did Paul say he was under grace? He did, 1Corinthians 15:10. Was he still obedient to the law? Yes, he was, Acts 21:24; 24:14. Did Paul tell us the law was abolished in his day? No, he said just the opposite. He said all men are under the law as long as they live,Romans 7:1.

Later Paul said the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, as we obey, Romans 8:4-7. We fulfill the law by being observant to it. If I fulfill my obligation to pay you what I owe you, it means I give you your money. If I fulfill my duty it means I do all my duty. If Yahshua fulfilled the law as it says He did in Matthew 5:17, then he observed it completely.

He even says in the next verse that nothing will pass from the law until heaven and earth vanish. Fulfill cannot mean abolish. He couldn’t have expressed a stronger image of the laws immutability. So long as the universe is here and the earth keeps spinning, then the law is here and in force as well. A world without law is anarchy, just as a world whose laws are not obeyed.

Yet, in total contradiction to all of these plain facts it is constantly hammered into today’s nominal worshiper that Yahshua came to destroy the law! Even back in His own day He was accused of destroying the law. He plainly and clearly answered the accusation by saying don’t even think it, Matthew 5:17. And obviously that was because they didn’t understand what He performed under the New Covenant to change only the administrative aspects of the law, as in the fleshly priesthood and animal sacrifices.

Yahweh’s Law Always in Effect

Circumcision is now of the heart. But is that anything new? Read Deuteronomy 30:6-8. Even after circumcision of the heart Israel was expected to obey all His commandments. Nothing was changed there.

The same misunderstanding has been ongoing for 2,000 years. Even when Yahshua denied from His own lips the accusation of destroying the law, people still don’t believe Him. “The law was nailed to the cross” has almost become a mantra of the uninformed or misguided.

Faith, grace, and obedience all live together in perfect harmony in the Scriptures. They are never mutually exclusive anywhere.

Yahweh Always Had Mercy

What about mercy? Is it only a New Testament concept? Is the Old Testament nothing but a bloody book of war and vengeance? Is Yahweh a vengeful Elohim who has no mercy for anyone who steps out of line?

In Psalm 85:7 the psalmist asks Yahweh to show His mercy. Then in a beautiful statement in verse 10, he says, “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”

The Hebrew language is filled with word pictures and is highly poetic. It is not the technical language Greek is, but a language of artistry and vivid imagery. One reason so many have problems with the writings of Paul and others in the New Testament is because those letters and writings come to us filtered through Greek from the original Hebrew, and Greek doesn’t do well trying to render poetic language in its characteristically more technical way.

Mercy and truth go together. In Psalm 147:11we read, “Yahweh takes pleasure in them that fear Him, in those who hope in Hismercy.” In Micah 6:8 Yahweh tells us to do justly and to love mercy. Why, if He is a merciless Elohim, does he tell us to love mercy? In Hosea 4:1 Yahweh has a problem with the people because there is no truth or mercy among them. He says it again inHosea 12:6: telling us to keep mercy and judgment.

People ask why does Yahweh allow suffering? If He were a loving and merciful Father, He wouldn’t do that. But if we were all obedient, there would be no suffering. Suffering and death are a result of sin, Romans 5:12; 7:5; Galatians 5:19-21; Mark 7:21-23. And if Yahweh didn’t have mercy then just one sin, committed by one person one time…and it would all be over for all of us. He has taken his hands off this world and is allowing us to come within an inch of destroying both it and ourselves through sin.

But you see, sin is repugnant to Yahweh. It is our own fault that we find ourselves suffering when that was never supposed to happen in Yahweh’s plan. It may not be politically correct to bear the consequences of our own failings, but it is Scripturally correct (Isa. 59:1-2).

Do you want Him to answer your prayers? Stop sinning. Turn in obedience. He says turn to me and I will turn to you. When He calls, it is up to you to answer. The next step is entirely yours. He is not going to save you in spite of yourself.

The Truth About Acts 15

A first-century lesson to new converts who had a background in pagan religion clears up a common misunderstanding today about Acts 15 and obedience.

The activity and success of the Apostles was creating in­creasing interest among the Gentiles. The pressure by the Sadducees and especially the Pharisees had stifled the conversion of Jews to the Savior.

Now the pertinent question con­fronting the Antioch Assembly, which Paul and Barnabas were to help answer, was how necessary is circumcision for the Gentiles? The Jewish leadership said it was mandatory. “And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except you be circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1).

Missionaries of the Assembly at Antioch, however, had accepted uncircumcised Gentile believers into their ranks. Be­cause the issue was raised, Paul and Barnabas, along with some others, were sent by the Assembly to Jerusalem to see what should be required of the Gentiles coming into the Assembly.

Jerusalem‘s Influence

In Acts 8: 14, the Jerusalem apostles had sent Peter and John to help the brethren in Samaria with their question concerning baptism of Gentiles. A later Jerusalem meeting recorded in Acts 21:18 was to clear suspicions of Paul. Jerusalem was looked upon as the spiri­tual center for the scattered assemblies. Now they were to recommend a course of action in dealing with Gentile converts.

Peter said there is no difference among peoples in Yahweh’s eyes: “And Elohim which knows the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as He did unto us, and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9).

Peter emphasizes that Yahweh gave the Holy Spirit to both Samaritans and Romans, that everyone potentially can be saved by the grace of Yahshua. The nagging question remained: Why then was circumcision required for any man to enter the Temple? (Ezek. 44:7).

One issue was already clear. Yahshua is now our High Priest and we are not required to of­fer animal sacrifices in the Temple. We can approach Yahweh directly anywhere, any time, once we acceptYahshua. He explained this to the woman at the well: “But the hour comes, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeks such to worship him. Yahweh is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth(John 4:23-24).

Animal Sacrifices and Physical Circumcision

Upon hearing of the matter of circumcision of Gentiles, both Paul and Barnabas recalled their experiences of miracles and the wonderful things that had taken place among the Gentiles who gladly accepted their message. James the brother of Yahshua then summarized the decision of the Apostles: “Simeon [Peter] has declared how Yahweh at the first did visit the Gen­tiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written” (Acts 15:14-15).

James goes to some length to show that Yahweh’s purpose is to reveal Himself to the Gentiles, to take from them a group of people for His Name. Not to save the world now, but to take out a nucleus of chosen faithful from both Israel and the Gentiles. These will become the kings and priests to rule in the Kingdom, Revela­tion 1:6. The salvation of the world comes later, Revelation 20:6.

“After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after Yahweh, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my Name is called, says Yahweh,who does all these things” (Acts 15:16-17).

James emphasizes that Yahweh is now calling out a special people. The called-out ones today are of the Melchizedek priesthood under Mes­siah. Animal sacrifices and circumci­sion are not required of us, for this “residue of men” will be baptized into His Name,and called by His Name. Circumcision has a deeper meaning already explained in the Old Testament as being humble and of a willing heart: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked” (Deut. 10: 16). We are to love Yahweh with all our heart and be obedient to Him in all things. He will soften the heart of our offspring and lead them to obedience:

“And Yahweh your Elohim will cir­cumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live” (Deut. 30:6).

Circumcise the Heart

The New Testament teaches that cir­cumcision is not a great concern for the people of Yahweh. Our goal should be obedience to Yahweh and to His Commandments, His way of life: Paul wrote, “Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of Yahweh” is what is important (l Cor. 7: 19). When a person is baptized into the body of Messiah,he or she stands before Yahweh as sinless. All sins are washed away, and we are jus­tified in Yahweh’s eyes, washed clean of our past.

Henceforth we can go directly to Yahweh in prayer and have our sins for­given. We are now a new creature, a son or daughter of the Most High Elohim. Baptism is a cleansing, and with repentance is referred to as the circumcision made without hands. “In whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Messiah” (Col. 2: 11).

James then goes on to caution the brethren not to make things difficult for the new Gentile converts by expecting them to keep the sacrificial laws and be circumcised. When one is converted to Yahwehs truth and follows it, then one is circumcised in heart. That is what Yahweh wants!

Remove Practices of Heathenism

His next suggestion was that a letter be written to all the Gentiles with the fol­lowing message: “But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time has in every city them that preach him, being read in the syna­gogues every sabbath day” (Acts 15:20-21).

This letter to the Gentiles has four special prohibitions mentioned: 1) have nothing to do with idols, 2) no fornica­tion, 3) eat no strangled animal, 4) drink no blood. Why these four? Simply because these customs of the Gentiles played prominently in their former worship. They had before worshiped idols and dealt with temple prostitutes. They of­ten ate strangled animals in order to eat the life-blood of that animal. They also drank blood from an ani­mal, assuming to transfer to themselves the strength that was in the blood of a bull or goat.

The Gentiles were to avoid these four habitual practices immediately. Then, James says, they will in time learn the rest of Yahweh’s truth be­cause when they attend the synagogues or assemblies every Sabbath, the other laws will be preached and ex­plained to them.

Jamessummary of the proposed action pleased the apostles and elders along with the entire assembly. They decided to send theirselected men to Antioch with the following letter: “The apostles and elders, your brother, To the Gentile believers in Antioch, Syriaand Cilicia:Greetings, We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your mindsby what they said. So we all agree to choose some men and send them to you with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul- men who have risked their livesfor the name of our Sovereign Yahshua the Messiah. Therefore, we are sending Judas and Silas to confirm by word of mouth what we are writing. It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are toabstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell(NIV, Acts 15:23-29).

A Starting Point

This letter does not specifically include the point that each Sabbath the laws of Yahweh would be taught by reading of the Torah each week in the synagogue. But from verse 21 we learn that such is the intent. A removal of offend­ing practices was the starting point, while more truth would be revealed once these abominations were elimi­nated. Silas, Paul, and Barnabas stayed in Antioch for some time teaching the people more of Yahwehs truths.

Paul and Silas later went on to Derbe and Lystra where Paul met young Timothy. They continued to de­liver the letter warning thegentiles to desist from idol worship, from drink­ing blood, eating strangled meat, and from sexual immorality. They were also expected to observe the Sabbath each week and join in worship with the assembly.

“And as they went through the cit­ies, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. And so were the assemblies established in the faith, and increased in number daily(Acts 16:4-5). In Acts 21 Paul was commended for his activities among the Gentiles. The elders glorified Yahweh over the thou­sands among the Jews that believed. However, there was gossip that Paul was teaching the Jews who were among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after their cus­toms.

To convince the people of his integ­rity, Paul was advised to purify himself with four other men who had a vow. Paul then could dispel any doubting, while the truth would be shown that Paul was orderly, keeping the law, verses 21-24.

Words Added to the Text

Verses 2526 are quoted below to show that translators have added the capitalized words that are not in the text of Acts 21. Carnal man strives hard to do away with the law and set aside obedi­ence, calling it bondage. But Paul kept the law and taught us to keep it as well.

As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written [and] con­cluded THAT THEY OBSERVE NO SUCH THING, SAVE ONLYthat they keep themselves from [things] of­fered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them en­tered into the temple, to signify the ac­complishment of the days of purifica­tion, until that an offering should be offered for everyone of them(Acts 21:25-26, boldface words not in the text, omitted by newerversions).

To recap, Acts 15 is the account of the Jerusalem meeting of the Elders in deciding how to deal with Gentiles who become a part of the assembly. There were four pagan customs they were to refrain from participating in as they began their walk with the Savior.

They were also expected to meet with brethren on the Sabbath where they would have Moses taught and the Torah expounded to them. Note that the Gentiles were to be taught from the Old Testament, the teachings of Moses. Perhaps some day we can join the great thronYahweh is preparing and teach and help others in the Kingdom. We read of this prophecy in Isaiah:“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of Yahwehs house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exaltedabove the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peopleshall go and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, to the house of the Elohim of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word ofYahweh from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more(Isa. 2:24).

Paul answers those who would return to physical circumcision, “For in Yahshua the Messiah neither circumci­sion avails any thing, nor uncircum­cision; but faith which works by love” (Gal. 5: 6). May his words be a guide to all who would miss the spirit of the law whilekeeping the letter.

by Donald R. Mansager

obedience to the torah and law grace

The Spiritual Side of Obedience

The sincere Truth seeker knows that there is a powerful, spiritual dimension to existence than what is immediately evident, and that his life must reflect special goals as a follower of the Father and His Son.

Most live out their allotted time on earth focused entirely on the natural. With no greater purpose or desire than to indulge in the here and now. The singular goal of the vast majority of humanity is increasingly more wealth and gusto. They love its riches, its prestige, its enjoyments — striving daily for what the culture offers and what it stands for and glorifies. But when their days are done, all that they worked and sweated for ultimately becomes the property of someone else.  Even the memory of them soon fades away, Ecclesiastes 9:5. Life is a terrible thing to waste.

Yahweh is giving His called-out ones the opportunity of the ages – to join Him and His Son in His coming, everlasting kingdom.

Our choice is either to put all our efforts and aspirations into only a few decades worth of this earthly life, or prepare one day to leave the superficiality and temporal nature of this existence and join our Heavenly Father and His Son in an awesome and endless kingdom rulership, enjoying rewards far exceeding our finite comprehension. “But as it is written, eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which Elohim has prepared for them that love him,” 1Corinthians 2:9.

Natural Man Is Self-satisfied

Temporal gains are all that most people want from their priceless gift of life. They live their threescore and ten years for themselves.The average person has an innate rebelliousness at the mere mention of obeying the One who made him.  The common belief built on centuries of misteaching is that heavenly rewards will be granted anyway, regardless how one lives. From Genesis through Revelation the Bible says the exact opposite.  People will be judged by and rewarded based on how they live. John wrote inRevelation 20:12: “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before the throne; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

They reveal that they are in essence a deity unto themselves.  As one celebrity quipped about her infant, “My baby is my religion.”This is what Romans 8:7 describes as the carnal mind: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against Elohim for it is not subject to the law ofElohim, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). Paul also wrote, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of Elohim; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of Elohim. But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of Elohim: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,”1Corinthians 2:12 and 14.

The unconverted individual can no more un­derstand Yahweh than a squirrel in the forest. Like the squirrel, his whole shallow ex­istence consists in what he can see, feel, taste, and, enjoy.

In Galatians 6:7-8 Yahweh gives us a choice. He says it is up to each one of us which existence will be ours. “Be not deceived; Yahweh is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” The beauty of Yahweh’s grace is that we can have whichever we wish: a short-lived physical life of disobedience, with its temporary everything filled with emptiness, or a far superior, infinitely greater and exciting and rewarding spiritual existence serving the Father Yahweh now and for eternity.

No Thanks to the Gnostics

Immortality comes only from Yahweh, He alone has it. Timothy 6:16 says of Him, “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man has seen, nor can see.” Immortality is not something we innately have. Theprevailing teach­ing is that every person has a resident immortal soul that waits to be re­leased at death to fly away to its heav­enly reward.

No wonder most people arent really concerned with how they live their lives. No wonder they dont care if they don’t have His Name right, don’t honor­ the Sabbath, and generally disobey Him. No wonder He is not resident deep within their hearts: They think they have no need for Him! They think they will live forever automatically!

The immortality notion is rooted in teachings of the pagan Gnostics, who also believed that humans have innate immortality.Gnosticism taught that the physical universe was a terrible mistake of Yahweh, and that man originally lived in the spirit realm. We now wait for death so that we can be released back to where we should have been all along – living as immortals in a spirit world.

Their twisted immortality beliefs form the basis of the modern view about the hereafter: everyone goes immediately to heaven upon death. This false idea is endlessly repeated in traditional sermons and funeral eulogies. It is the original satanic lie. It is the very heresy that Satan himself first foisted on humanity!

The Adversary said, “You shall not surely die, Eve. For Yahweh knows that when you eat this forbidden fruit, you will be a Mighty One yourself. So do it for YOU!” (Have you ever wondered why Eve didn’t stop to ask, “Why would Yahweh place within easy reach a temptation that if accepted would make Adam and me as powerful, omniscient, and immortal as He?”)

The immortal soul teaching has been the most potent and influential lie ever put into words. It has done untold damage against the truth, and millions have been deceived by it.

What makes this belief so sinister is that, still believing Satan, the vast majority of this world do not really think they need Yahweh — they are told they are already immortal and will have everlasting life no matter how they choose to live. This belief helps explain today’s law-less attitudes and behavior.

Spiritually Ignorant

Our culture has lost sight of who created and now energizes the universe. Of course, through the teaching of evolution many believe that the universe created and drives itself! Evolution is an ingenious plot of Ha Satan to eliminate the Creator from man’s consciousness.

Many scientists by study­ing astronomy, physics, chemistry, mathematics, electricity, and other dis­ciplines, believe they have answers to all that exists. In fact, all they really have are a few answers to questions about the physi­cal universe. They have not even begun to understand the far greater spiritual realm. All man’s wisdom is foolishness, Paul writes in Romans 1:22. We cannot even comprehend our own brains, let alone use those brains to figure out how we got here and where we are going from here.

Almighty Yahweh answers man’s folly in Isaiah 44:24-25: “Thus says Yahweh, your redeemer, and he that formed you from the womb, I am Yahweh that makes all things; that stretches forth the heavens alone; that spreads abroad the earth by myself; That frustrates the to­kens of the liars, and makes diviners mad; that turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolish.

Yahweh is the Mighty One of na­ture as well as the ruler over spiritual things. He is the last word. He is THE authority and the final recourse.

From His Creator man learns about moral­ity. There is nothing really moral or im­moral about the behavior of a dog or a monkey or a fish. They act only as their brains were prewired to act. They live in a purely physical universe and behave strictly according to how they were designed.

But Yahweh says that He created man in His own image. And when He created humankind He brought the spiritual world in touch with the physical. Along with the physical laws that govern this earth we have spiritual laws – moral, ethical laws and stan­dards of right and wrong. And then He also gives us a choice. We have the prerogative to choose to follow our Creator or to reject Him in our lives. The first leads to rewards that cannot be imagined, the second results in everlasting death.

Yahweh Defines Morality

Now we can answer the question about what makes right, right … and wrong, wrong. What is it about the nature of sin that makes it “sinful” and evil?

The often-quoted Greek philoso­phers in all their vaunted human wisdom certainly didn’t know, beyond realizing that right and wrong carry their own consequences.

The answer they could not arrive at is Yahweh. Yahweh and He alone is the standard that creates right and wrong in both physical and spiritual universes. Moral right and wrong on this earth are determined by Yahweh’s own character. Without Yahweh, right and wrong would have no meaning. Right and wrong emanate from the spiritual – where Yahweh dwells – not from the natural, physical world. Be­cause man is physical first (not spiritual first, as the Gnostics taught), he must be taught right and wrong, good and evil. These are spiritual principles that don’t come naturally to humans.

There is no moral “right” and wrongabout the way nature oper­ates. If a tree falls and kills a squirrel, there is nothing morally right and wrong about it. But if I strike my neighbor, I have broken a spiritual law and am deserving of punishment. Why? Because Yahweh and only Yahweh has defined such an act as wrong and He brings this understanding to man through His laws.

It is Yahweh who brings morality to our lives. If I steal from my neighbor I have broken Yahweh’s spiritual-moral law.

Yahweh’s Laws Express Himself

Claiming that Yahwehs laws as given in the Covenant are unnecessary is to denigrate Yahweh Himself. Yahweh’s character is the measure of righteous­ness. And His laws are the expression of Yahweh’s own moral attributes. Therefore, to reject His laws is to reject what makes Yahweh who He is. His laws are His standard for behavior. No wonder the Evil One would like to destroy Yahweh’s laws through erroneous doctrines like salvation through faith alone.

The pompous academic will say, “How do you know what is right and wrong? How do you know what is truth? Truth is relative. Your truth may not be the same for everyone.”

Reject Yahweh and you WON’T not know what truth is. Live with an unchanged car­nal nature and you will be ignorant of proper,spiritual things and, even worse, harbor enmity for Yahweh. This is why lawless individuals have a natural hatred for the Bible and the religious individuals who follow it. Go to any secular college and you will find an abundance of those who harbor a nautral dislike for Bible-based religion.

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against Elohim: for it is not subject to the law of Elohim, neither indeed can be(Rom. 8:7).

The prophet Isaiah confirms the ba­sic nature of unrepentant man: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isa. 64:6).

Isaiah just described us in our natu­ral element. If we want to stay natural, that is how Yahweh will see us. The result of that kind of life is destruction, be­cause it will limit us only to the natural existence of a finite, physical world.

The only way we can have a chance at that spiritual world where life never ends is to become like Yahweh in mind and heart and behavior. In other words, to be­come spiritual. That is precisely what His laws accomplish in us because at their root His laws are spiritual.Paul wrote: For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin” (Rom. 7:14).

Why He Did Not Lower the Bar

In 1Peter 1: 16 we read, “Because it is written, Be holy; for I am holy” (quoted from Lev. 11:44). Holy” means set apart: set apart from the physical, from the worldly, from sin and its corruption.

Why, since all men have sinned by violating Yahweh’s laws, did Yahweh not just change or do away with his laws to conform to the lives of men and save them all? Instead of trying to change man, why not just lower the standards? After all, no one is able to live up to them anyway, many believe.

Why can’t the great Lawgiver just abolish sin by doing away with His laws? After all, Yahweh is supreme, isn’t He? The answer goes to the heart of who Yahweh Himself is.

Yahwehs moral, spiritual laws are not the result of His own whim. He didn’t sit down one day and say, “Let’s see, Ill make murder wrong, and steal­ing a sin, and lying wrong and cheating bad…” He didn’t do that and couldn’t do that and still retain His own identity.

Yahweh’s laws are a reflection of Yahweh Himself–His very character and His nature. To change His laws would be to change Him. And that is impossible. Yahweh is unchangeable, as He Him­self said. “For I [am] Yahweh, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed,Malachi 3:6. Sin is con­trary not only to the work of Yahweh, but also to the very nature of Yahweh. His holiness requires that sin result in death. Yahweh is life. Sin is death.

That is the way things are, by virtue of the way Yahweh made us and our world. It wont change one thing to argue about it. Saying the law has been done away doesn’t make it so. Resistance is futile. Yahweh himself says man’s rebellious ways and thinking are destined to be destroyed. And He commands us to obey Him.  “Let no man deceive you with vain words [words spoken against the truth]: for because of these things comes the wrath of Elohim upon the children of disobedience [lawlessness]” (Eph. 5:6).

Yahweh cannot tolerate sin – which is the breaking of His laws. Sin goes against everything that makes Him what He is. Therefore,sin is enmity, ­hatred of Yahweh, and is His de­spised enemy.

This isnt an arbitrary development. The universe is built on this principle. When Yahweh put man on this earth, He also introduced His spiritual law as part of this creation. He told Adam and Eve what was right and what was wrong.

Yahweh must either condemn sin or violate His own being. The penalty of every sin that has been committed or will ever be committed must be paid. We ei­ther pay it with our own blood or we rely on Yahshuas. If we want to overcome sin, then, we must accept Yahshua’s blood for our past sins and then come in line with His law – His very nature – from that point for­ward. It‘s just thatclear and simple.

If Yahshua did away with the law, then He did away with sin itself and we no longer need a Savior. Notice: “Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law(lJohn 3:4).

Notice What Happens...

Coming into line with Yahwehs laws creates harmony and happiness in our lives! No wonder we read, “Wherefore the law is holy,and the commandment holy, and just, and good(Rom. 7:12).

When we observe Yahwehs laws we should feel great, knowing that Yahweh accepts us as one like Himself. When we rebe­l, we’remiserable and fearful. It’s axiomatic that when we move away from Yahweh we become subject to evil influences. Those who hate the Bible are in their hearts miserable.

What better proof that His laws are right and good and perfect and acceptable and nec­essary!

by Elder Alan Mansager

Love legalism and the torah or law

Love Is Basic to the Law

Ever since Yahweh showed me His wonderful truth and brought me in unity with my new spiritual family, I have rejoiced. I have come to a deeper understanding through the love that we have for one another.

Yahweh’s truth is more than a set of rules or regula­tions. Yahweh’s truth is a state of mind, an at­titude. For us to truly fol­low Yahweh’s law and Yahshua’s foot­steps we must always remember that the greatest commandments have to do with love. The Savior showed us this in Matthew 22: 34-40, to love Yahweh and love our neighbor.

Without love in our lives Yahweh’s Word would never have an opportunity to truly perfect us. We can see time af­ter time in the Scriptures where Yahweh tells us to love one another and admonish one another in love.

Love is such a small word, yet the meaning is great. Love means never thinking of yourself. Love is having a deep concern for our spiritual family members and show­ing respect for those around us. Love is putting ourselves to the side and helping others first. Love is never selfish, but al­ways giving. Yahweh told us that it is better to give than to receive. Love is the firstfruit of the spirit. “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22). Love is what the entire Law hangs on. “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22:40).

Love Over All

In the passage commonly known as the love chapter, the Apostle Paul empha­sizes how necessary love is for the True Worshiper:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have faith that can move moun­tains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surren­der my body to the flames, but have no love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self­seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, al­ways perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways be­hind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And now these three re­main: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (lCor. 13: 1-13). This chapter starts out by listing many gifts we can receive through the Holy Spirit. Paul tells us in each case, however, that if we have not loved, that the particular gift has gained us nothing.

Love is patient. We must always have patience with our brothers within the faith and those in the world around us. The second quality Paul lists is kindness. That perfection that Yahshua spoke about in Matthew 5:48 is the goal of the True Worshiper. We must al­ways show kindness toward others, just as Yahweh has shown kindness to us.

Let us remember that we have all fallen short of the glory of Yahweh. Paul tells us we are not to envy one another. Through envy comes jealousy. James reminds us that through jealousy come only confusion and every vile deed. “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, or of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disor­der and every evil practice” (James 3:14-16). Paul goes on to say that love is not being rude to the people around us. Remember, the world needs an ex­ample that comes from Yahweh’s Spirit. Love is never self-seeking. We must always think of others before self. Further in the chapter the Apostle says that love is not easily angered, because we are the light to this present-day world. We are the salt of the earth that cannot lose its flavor. Love keeps no score of wrong, Paul writes. We cannot go through life keep­ing a tally on everybody who has ever wronged us in some way. If we forgive then our Heavenly Father will be faith­ful to forgive us. Paul explains that we must always rejoice with the truth and allow Yahweh’s glory to shine in the world around us. Paul lists four more qualities that are essential to our salvation. He tells us we must always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere. The chapter ends with many examples of prophecies, tongues, and knowl­edge – saying that all shall pass away and only three qualities will remain. Those qualities are found in the 13th verse: “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Love Not the World

John tells us that we are not to love this present-day world. Those who love the world do not have the love of the fa­ther within them. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the father is not him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the father, but is of the world. And the world passes away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of Yahweh abides forever” (lJohn 2:15-17).

Do these verses give us the right to go around hating the world with an unhappy attitude? John tells us that ev­erything that is found within the world is full of man’s sin. Yet, he by no means is telling us that we are to be in a bad attitude concerning the world. One of the fruits of the spirit found within Galatians 5:22 is joy. John shows that we are not to have joy through the sin of this world but through Yahweh’s righteousness. Yahshua the Messiah tells us to lay up our treasure in heaven where it will not pass away. He explains that where our treasure is there will our heart be also. “Lay not up for yourselves trea­sures upon earth, where moth and rust corrupt and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for your­selves treasures in heaven, where nei­ther moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).

Let our hearts always be focused upon Yahweh’s righteousness and Kingdom. Paul tells Timothy that nothing is really ours, so be content with food and covering. “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can neither carry anything out. And having food and rai­ment, let us be therewith content” (lTim. 6:7-8).

Paul reminds Timothy that we can­not allow ourselves to be caught up in the riches of this world, rather, to be content with what we have. Our hearts and treasure must always be focused upon Yahweh, while being a bright and shining light to this world.

Love Your Enemies

The Messiah told us to love our en­emies and pray for them. “You have heard that it was said, you shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy: but I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you” (Matt. 5:43-44). We as Yahweh’s True Believers should always keep our faith in Yahshua the Messiah, and look past one another’s faults, including our en­emies’. We should strive for the perfec­tion that Yahweh wants. Keep in mind that when we were caught up in the sins of this world, we were Yahweh’s enemies. Through the love Yahweh showed us by giving us His only son, and allowing us an atonement for our sins, we try to show the same love to­ward our enemies.

Yahweh tells us that if we keep His commandments we love Him, and those that do not keep his command­ments the love of the father in not in them. “He that says, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keeps his word, in him is the love of Yahweh perfected: hereby know we that we are in him,” l John 2:4-5. “If you love me, keep my command­ments” (John 14:15). The same message is found in John 14:21-24, John 15:9-10, l John 3:24, and l John 5:3. Many other verses show that through obedience to Yahweh’s Word, we are showing Yahweh that we love Him. When we want to show love and re­spect to our earthly parents, we obey them. We show similar respect and love by keeping our Heavenly Father’s com­mandments.

Love Your Neighbor

When Yahshua was asked by a scribe what commandment was foremost, He replied, “The first of all the command­ments is, hear, 0 Israel; Yahweh our Elohim is one master: And you shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

Yahshua shows that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. We can see that same commandment given by Moses in Leviticus 19:18, “But you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am Yahweh.” What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself? It means to love and treat the people we come into contact with as we would want to be treated ourselves. “If you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, you shall love your neighbor as your­self, you do well” (James 2:8 ).

The follower of Yahweh will love and respect those around him, includ­ing his enemies. “For if you love them that love you, what reward have you? Do not even the publicans so? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be therefore perfect, even as your father which is in heaven is per­fect” (Matt. 5: 46-48). By loving your neighbor you are ful­filling the law (Rom. 13:8-10). Yahshua also tells us that there is no greater love than to give the ultimate sacrifice: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13. Yahshua demon­strated this by giving his own life so that we would have an atonement for our sins and could appear before him without blemish: “As the Father knows me, even so know I the father: and lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15). “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise Elohim our savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever” (Jude 24-25).

Let us love one another from the heart, and allow Yahweh’s spirit to grow within each one of us. May we remember that with the right heart we are already keeping Yahweh’s com­mandments. May we keep the faith of our only Savior and appear before His throne unblemished. May Yahweh lead us toward his Kingdom.

by Randy Folliard

The Old Testament Bible

The Old Testament LIVES

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Many call themselves “New Testament Churches” and say they have no use for the Old Testament. But what Bible did the writers of their New Testament quote from, refer to, and base their teachings on? It is time to rethink some critically important fundamentals!       

Picking up a Bible, the first thing you notice is that it is divided into two parts, an Old Testament and a New Testament. Because of the very names given to these two sections it seems that the Bible has an obsolete first part, bestowed with the title “Old,” which has been totally supplanted with a second part called “New.”

Most students of the Scriptures have been taught that what is found in the Old Testament is not actually intended for them but is only for Jews, while the New Testament is off limits to Jews and is approved only for Christian use.

Still, no one can explain why Christian Bible publishers continue to bind the Old and New Testament Scriptures into a single volume, as they have done for centuries. If the Old has been obsolete for 2,000 years, then why not just drop it? Clearly something fundamentally important has kept these two testaments together for 2,000 years.

A Website describes the popular understanding this way: “The Bible is mainly divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament contains books relating to the old covenant between Yahweh and Israel . The New Testament contains books and letters relating to the new covenant between Yahweh and the New Israel, the Church.”

Tertullian, 2nd century “father of the Roman church,” was the first to use the terms vetus testamentum or old testament and novum testamentum or new testament. He also introduced the term Trinity to the church vocabulary – nearly 200 years into the New Testament. But it is the regrettable use of the terms “old” and “new” (testaments) that has resulted in the most serious consequences.

The most far-reaching of them all is that two separate religions and faiths have ostensibly grown out of the same book – both worshiping the same Heavenly Father! But the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4 expresses that the Father is of one mind and understanding, a characteristic the Son shares, John 17:11, 22.

Many would have us believe that Yahweh made a huge misstep in requiring Israel to obey Old Testament teachings, only to correct that error in the New Testament by requiring just faith alone.

Yahweh never intended that the Old Testament and New Testament present two completely different worship modes and requirements creating two different options for salvation. This was never how it was with the early Assembly as guided by the Apostles. Yahweh never wanted his Bible to be divided into two different belief systems for two distinct groups of worshipers.

We are going to see that despite some administrative changes, the Old Testament and New Testament agree on a single salvation plan for all people. Further, we will see how the writers of the New Testament looked to the writings of the Old Testament as the basis of Truth, and how the disciples, and even Yahshua Himself, based their teachings and practices on what is found in the Old Testament, the only Bible they had. When they used the term “Scriptures” they meant the Old Testament. There were no other Scriptures in existence.

The viability of the Old Testament is one of the most significant truths you will ever learn about proper, Biblical worship. Its implications are enormous. It means that if Old Testament truths are still in full force and effect, then what Israel was told to observe remains largely unchanged and therefore applies to today’s Believers as well. It means nothing less than that the foundation for our beliefs and practices must rest in the Old Testament – which even our own Savior called “the Scriptures.”

Paul Dynamites a Myth

Over the centuries the popular notion has developed that there exists two different paths to salvation for two different groups of people in two conflicting sections of the Bible. This myth has caused two different religions to spring from the same book. Paul categorically refutes this in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: For you are all one in Messiah Yahshua.”

Here is the champion of Christianity – none other than the Apostle Paul himself – refuting a fundamental Christian belief! Here is the supposed founder of modern church teaching telling us that there is no basic difference between the Jew and the gentile. All are united in Yahshua. So how does that work in everyday reality?

Most Bible believers see it this way:  the Old Testament is useful and edifying in relating Yahweh’s actions with Israel – so long as it stays focused exclusively on Israel . It has some good history and individual lessons and examples that can also be nice for us to know.  But for them it doesn’t have the same level of authority or relevance for the believer as does the New Testament.

This means that anyone in the Old Testament era was at a great disadvantage just because they lived at a different time. It means in essence that they were second-rate believers; their salvation, if indeed they had it, was inferior because they did not know New Testament truth.

We need not go beyond Hebrews 11 in the New Testament to see the error in this thinking. Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and David will have exalted positions in the Kingdom – probably much higher than you and I and anyone else holding the New Testament, except Yahshua. And all that any of those patriarchs had to go by was the Old Testament. There they will be – sitting in high positions of authority in Yahweh’s government nevertheless.

Can we say, then, that the Old Testament is of inferior quality or has less merit than the New Testament?  Remember, it was the only Bible possessed of the patriarchs who will rule in the Kingdom of Yahweh .

One Truth and Only One Way to the Kingdom

Paul has something else to say about mistaken notions concerning the Old Testament.

First, from Galatians 3:28 we learn that salvation is not exclusive to any one race or group. In Yahweh’s eyes believing Jews and believing Gentiles are on equal footing. This is true no matter your perspective. Verse 29 says you are the seed of Abraham if you are Yahshua’s and therefore have the salvation promise.

And neither is there a difference when it comes to the avenue leading to life everlasting. There is only one truth and one way to salvation. In Ephesians 4:5 Paul confirms that there is “one faith, one hope, one baptism,” not two truths, one for the ancient Jew and the other for the modern Christian.

In Jude 3, Yahshua’s brother tells us we must return to the original faith once given to the saints. And what is that? Ephesians  2:20says that faith is built on the Apostles and prophets, or in other words it encompasses both Old Testament and New Testament.

In Revelation 14:12 that true faith is defined by those who keep the commandments and have faith in Yahshua. In Revelation 3:8 it also means those who have not denied His Name.

These are also truths taught fundamentally in the Old Testament.

The fact is, the “church” does not replace Israel but joins with it through the taking hold of the covenant promise that Yahweh proclaimed for all His people. We learn in Romans 11:1-2 that Yahweh did not discard Israel and start over with the New Testament. Israel is still key to His salvation plan, Romans 11:26. All who seek everlasting life must be grafted into the Israelite promise,Romans 11:17 clearly teaches.

In Yahweh’s master plan the Old Testament was never the special Bible for just Jews or Israel but was and is intended for all who seek Him. The same goes for the New Testament. If the Scriptures recognize that there is no difference between Jews and the “church,” then the Feasts, Sabbaths, and laws cannot be exclusively for Jews, Israel or restricted to any other particular people.

John wrote, “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you have heard from the beginning,” 1John 2:7.

Our Savior’s Bible Was Also the Old Testament

This is consistent with what we find in New Testament practice. The Savior and His followers all kept what was heard from the beginning, meaning the Old Testament instructions and commands. They recognized the continuity between Old Testament command and New Testament performance by observing the seventh-day Sabbath, annual Feasts, and laws Israel kept.

Yahshua Himself kept them, and commanded us to follow what He did, Revelation 2:26. He knew the basis of New Testament faith rests in the Old Testament. He said in John 5:46-47: “For had you believed Moses, you would have believed Me: for he wrote of Me. But if you believe not his writings, how shall you believe My words?”

By Paul’s crystal clear statement on equality, ordinances given to Israel must also be observed by everyone, or else there is only favoritism and no equality. Jew and Gentile must follow the same Truth, because there is only one Truth. Notice that this fact is brought out later in His letter, where Paul tells the Galatians, “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all…Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise” (Gal. 4:26, 28).

Jerusalem as the capital of the Israelite nation is “mother” to all those seeking Yahweh, including the Galatian gentiles in the New Testament to whom Paul was writing. Furthermore, Paul says the covenant promise we are under was shared by the Old Testament patriarch Isaac. Both peoples are part of the covenant.

Already we are seeing proof that Old Testament promises apply in the New Testament.

Most people are unaware that the Old Testament contains teachings on a number of what are considered New Testament doctrines. For example,

In the New Testament, whenever Yahshua and the apostles referred to the “scriptures,” they were in nearly every case referring to the Law, the Prophets and the Writings that make up the Old Testament.

They taught from them and about them; they used the Old Testament to support their position and make their points; they relied on Old Testament prophecies and used its teachings.

Yahshua even confounded Satan by quoting the Old Testament (Matt. 4:7-10).  Why didn’t Satan say to Him, “Why are you quoting that outdated and dead book?” Even the Adversary knew the Old Testament was alive!

In short, the Old Testament was not only the textbook of the New Testament patriarchs, but also their guide to living the life acceptable to Yahweh.

This begs the quintessential question: Why would New Testament, Spirit-inspired teachers and writers, including Yahshua Himself as the greatest among them, refer hundreds of times in their teachings to a collection of writings known as the Old Testament that was either obsolete or very soon to be obsolete?

And why would Yahweh  – for 2,000 years – delude millions of New Testament people by inspiring the direct quoting of 300 Old Testament passages that were obsolete?

In fact, one in every 22.5 verses of the New Testament is a direct quotation from the Old Testament. The New Testament refers to “Moses” no fewer than 80 times, and it mentions the Sabbath 60 times, despite modern attempts to say keeping the Sabbath is unnecessary. These solid facts contradict the idea that the Old Testament had no influence after Yahshua walked this earth.

If you take only Scriptural references or allusions into consideration, the numbers are much higher. Roger Nicole in his book, Revelation and the Bible says one estimate is that there there are as many as 1,640 allusions to the Old Testament in the New Testament, while another estimate he says totals 4,105 passages referring to Old Testament Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1958).  As high as 1 out of every 10 verses in the New Testament is either a direct citation of or an allusion to the Old Testament

If the Old Testament has been dead for 2,000 years, why did Yahweh inspire it to be quoted, referenced thousands of times, and included in the same Bible with the New Testament?

It is only natural that Yahweh would inspire the use of the Old Testament because the Old Testament was just as alive and central to truth when Paul preached it as it is today. Paul even told Timothy: “But continue in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing of whom you have learned them; And that from a child you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith which is in Messiah Yahshua” (see Rev. 12:17). Further Paul wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of Elohim, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of Elohim may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2Tim. 3:14-17).

Yahweh doesn’t inspire “all Scripture” only to rescind two-thirds of it later on. Hebrews 8 explains that it was not the fault of the Old Covenant but of disobedient Israel that caused Yahweh to open up the covenant promise to others. Yahshua echoed that same truth in his parable of those who would not come to the wedding supper, so he invites anyone traveling by to come in.

Paul Observed the Old Testament’s Teachings

Let’s look at some instances of direct reliance on the Old Testament by believers living in the early New Testament era.

When Paul commended the New Testament Bereans for diligently searching the scriptures to see whether what he was preaching to them was true (Acts 17:11), he referred to their study of what we call the Old Testament: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

But to them it was not the “Old Testament.” As far as the Bereans were concerned, they were merely searching Yahweh’s Word, which included the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets, to confirm that what they were hearing from the New Testament apostles was true.

Remember, the Old Testament was the only Bible they had. It was the foundation of their faith and belief, and Paul even applauded them for double-checking with the Old Testament first before believing anything they read in the New Testament writings!

All of which screams one especially important fact: the New Testament does not contradict the Old Testament.

Why did not Paul say, “Listen people, don’t bother with those old writings that are now out of date. Just read my letters and do what they say and forget that Old Testament. I am all the Bible you need now.” He knew that teaching such a thing, which churches everywhere do believe and teach today, would be an enormous falsehood. He himself based Truth on the Old Testament Scriptures.

Note how Paul supported and taught the law and the Old Testament:

  • In Acts 24:14 Paul adamantly confirmed that he believed “all things which are written in the law and in the prophets” (Old Testament).
  • To prove that he lived “in observance of the law,” Paul agreed to undertake a ritual purification at the temple, at which time he proved that he kept the law (Acts 21:24-26).  Born a Benjaminite, he was instructed by Gamaliel “according to the perfect manner of the law,” Acts 22:3.
  • In diametric opposition to what most clerics teach today, Paul said he was not against Old Testament teachings and did nothing to violate them, Acts 28:17.
  • As a matter of fact, Paul taught the people about Yahshua from morning to night “out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets,” (Old Testament) Acts 28:23.
  • In Acts 25:8 Paul maintained that he never broke any laws of the Jews or the temple.

All the books of the Old Testament except Esther, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon are quoted in the New Testament.

That Old Testament that is used only occasionally for a children’s Bible lesson or for reading of an infrequent Psalm or Proverb is a lot more important than most people think. Yahshua, the apostles, and the earliest converts relied on the Old Testament as the basis for their teachings. They constantly alluded to it and defined their faith in light of what it said.

Once you have all the facts, then you are prepared to make informed, correct choices. People urgently need this truth about the Old Testament so that their worship can be corrected and aligned with the same Truth the prophets, Apostles, and Yahshua the Messiah followed. Sadly, most don’t want the truth of the matter. They love darkness rather than light (John 3:19) for fear of what they might discover that could alter their beliefs and impact their lifestyle. They are comfortable and satisfied in their traditional beliefs no matter how erroneous.

Yahshua Taught Old Testament Precepts

Yahshua made many references to the Old Testament and its laws. He even directly commanded us to study the Old Testament, the only Bible in existence:  “Search the Scriptures; for in them think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me,”John 5:39.

It is very important that in Matthew 23:2-3 Yahshua said the Scribes and Pharisees had the authority of the Old Testament commands when it came to teaching what you must observe. “Moses seat” is a euphemism for the Old Testament and its laws. The authority to obey Old Testament commands and laws comes right from Yahshua’s own mouth!

Let’s just look at a few of the many Old Testament truths that Yahshua taught:

  • In Matthew 22:37-40 Yahshua referred to a fundamental precept in the Old Testament on which to base His teaching about the law: love Yahweh and love your neighbor, which He quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; 30:6 and Leviticus 19:18;
  • Yahshua deferred to the Old Testament in matters of divorce (Matt. 19:8);
  • Yahshua deferred to the Old Testament in matters of the law (Matt. 5), saying that not even the smallest part of the law would be done away until heaven and earth themselves pass away, verse 18.
  • Yahshua deferred to the Old Testament regarding salvation (Luke 16:29). In this reference Yahshua was telling the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. He ended it by saying, verse 31, that if they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, then it won’t matter to them even if one rose from the dead (meaning Himself). His lesson is clear – if they are not grounded in Yahweh’s laws and have no concern for the prophets’ warnings about sin, then Yahshua will have no influence them either. They won’t listen to Him, because His message is virtually the same as the Old Testament message brought by Moses and the prophets.

Some might argue, yes, but this was before Yahshua’s death changed everything and switched the focus from the Old Testament system to the New Testament.  However, many years after Yahshua was come and gone Stephen launched into a speech before the Sanhedrin that highlighted Yahweh’s covenant with Abraham and how Moses was born to fulfill that covenant, and how the plan was continually obstructed by the people who refused to obey and listen to the prophets, Acts 7. And now he says you are doing the same thing as you kill Yahshua and disobey the law (Acts 7:51-53).  Why would Stephen use the Old Testament as the context for their present rebellion unless it were still alive and in force?

Once Heretical Teachings Now Accepted

Was it the Roman Church that decided from the Scriptures themselves to throw out the Old Testament? Not on your life. There were many dark forces at work early on to derail True Worship, not the least of which were influential heretics like Marcion. Marcion was a second century teacher formally declared a heretic by the Roman church in 144 CE. Influenced by Gnosticism, Marcion taught that Yahweh of the Old Testament was an entirely different Mighty One from Yahweh of the New. Up until then, the traditional Church had considered the Old Testament to be sacred and assumed that Christianity was a fulfillment or continuation of Judaism. Hence they condemned doctrines that proclaimed such things.

Marcion’s rejection of that idea affected many different doctrines and beliefs. For more than 100 years Christians had been using the Old Testament as Christian Scripture, and even the most sacred documents of Christians referred to and relied heavily on, the Old Testament. The solution for Marcion was to completely reject the Old Testament and establish a canon that de-emphasized Christianity’s Old Testament and Jewish roots as much as possible.

For Marcion and others, the Old Testament Creator of the world was obsessed with law, while the New Testament Mighty One redeemed the world and was characterized by love and grace. Marcion not only threw out the entire Old Testament but also any New Testament books that seemed to him to emphasize law or good works at the expense of grace. Paul, with his perceived focus on grace, was by far Marcion’s favorite Apostle.

At the time, Marcion’s views disclaiming the Old Testament were not very influential. Amazing, isn’t it, that the essence of the teachings of a man who was pronounced a heretic by the early New Testament Assembly are today universally believed and tacitly applied to modern doctrine. Those teachings include emasculating the Old Testament and redefining grace as a replacement for obedience.

It is a sad commentary that so many have been deceived into thinking that the Old Testament is only for Jews, when in actuality it forms the very foundation for what is taught in the New Testament.

The New Testament categorically endorses Old Testament law. For instance, sin is clearly defined in the New Testament as transgression of Yahweh’s law (1John 3:4; Rom. 7:7). Throughout the New Testament the believer’s perpetual moral duty is that of love, and yet love is defined by the New Testament in terms of Yahweh’s law (Matt. 22:40; Rom. 13:10; 1John 5:2-3). Consequently the New Testament message and its morality are squarely founded on the operation of Yahweh’s law.

Both Old and New testaments teach Yahweh’s people to live by every word from His mouth, for Yahweh does not alter the words of His covenant. Every one of His ordinances, we are taught, is everlasting. Accordingly, Yahshua emphatically taught inMatthew 5:17-18 that His coming did not in the least abrogate one jot or tittle of Old Testament law. According to His own teaching, even the minor specifics of the law were to be observed — as a measure of our standing with Yahweh.

Paul maintained that every Old Testament Scripture has moral authority for the New Testament believer, and James in chapter 2 said that not one point of the law was to be violated.

We see both Old and New testaments coming together in a prophecy of Malachi 4:5-6: “Behold, I will send you Eliyah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahweh: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.”

What does he mean? In Genesis 18:19 it means to teach children the statutes of Yahweh. It means that before the return of Yahshua, there will be a remnant who will turn back to the original truths of the Bible and restore them in their worship and lives. They will be keeping His laws, commandments, and ordinances, just as they did in the early New Testament assembly. Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry seeks to do just that.

Yahshua the Messiah magnified the law, not abolished it. As we have seen, He taught it and showed us its greater significance in our spiritual development.

Oftentimes the people who are introduced in the New Testament as blessed or favored by Yahweh are character-ized as obedient to His law — for instance, Elisabeth, Zacharias, Joseph, and Miriam (Luke 1:6; 2:21-24, 27, 39). During his ministry on earth Yahshua often appealed to the law of Elohim to bolster His teaching (John 8:17), vindicate His behavior (Matt. 12:5), answer His questioners (Luke 10:26), indict His opponents (John 7:19), and give concrete identity to the will of Yahweh for men (Matt. 19:17).

In all of these ways without elaborate introductions or explanations for departing from a general principle or perspective – the New Testament simply assumes the standing authority of every command of Yahweh found in the Old Testament. If the Old Testament law were invalidated by Yahshua, the preceding examples would be incredibly contradictory.

The New Testament writers used Old Testament quotations in their sermons, in their histories, in their letters, and in their prayers. They used them when addressing Jews or Gentiles, assemblies or individuals, friends or rivals, new converts or seasoned believers. They used them for argumentation and augmentation, for illustration, for instruction, for documentation, for prophecy, and for reproof. They used them in times of stress and in deep contemplation, in liberty and in prison, at home and abroad. They were always ready to defer to the impregnable authority of the “law and the prophets.”

The “Old” Testament is indeed “older” than the New, but so is a foundation older than the structure that rests on it. The Old Testament Scriptures establish a basis for the New Testament, providing legitimacy and giving it meaning and structure. It does the same for the True Worshiper who realizes that his faith is no different from the faith of the Apostles and Messiah Yahshua.

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Old Testament law torah

Proving Old Testment Law from the New Testament

Most believers have been told that Scriptural Law of the Old Testament was annulled and is no longer necessary for today’s Truth Seeker. Yet, in light of the overwhelming significance that the law had for Old Testament believers, it is crucial that we be able to prove one way or another the importance of that Law for today.

Surprising as it may be to today’s churchgoer, the New Testament is full of examples showing the need for Old Testament Law. Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible reveals 1,050 places where law is referred to in the New Testament.

Examples from the Book of Revelation

Some of the best examples promoting law in the New Testament are found in the last book of the Bible. In this book Yahshua, the author of Revelation, inspires three powerful passages advocating Old Testament Law. While reading these passages it is essential to remember that the Old Testament constituted the only Scripture available to the early assembly. So when the commandments are mentioned, it is the commandments of the Old Testament that are meant. The New Testament was not yet compiled when Yahshua spoke these words to John.

• “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of Elohim, and have the testimony of Yahshua the Messiah” (Revelation 12:17).

• “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of Elohim, and the faith of Yahshua” (Revelation 14:12).

• “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city” (Revelation 22:14).

These three passages, more than any other, reveal that True Worshipers at the end of the age will be commandment keepers —even as they maintain their faith and trust in Yahshua the Messiah. Revelation 12:17 reveals that the assembly, which is typified there by the woman, will be keeping the Laws of Yahweh. Revelation 14:12 states that the saints are those who obey Yahweh’s commandments and have the testimony of Yahshua. Revelation 22:14, the last chapter of the Bible, testifies that only those who faithfully observe Yahweh’s commandments will enter into Yahweh’s Holy City.

These three passages should be quite adequate to establish that the Law is yet to be observed by today’s Truth Seekers. Still, there are many other examples throughout the New Testament showing the very same.

Examples from Paul

The Apostle Paul is often seen as the champion of Christianity. His writings are used most often to establish Christianity’s beliefs, including the disannulling of Old Testament Law. Like much of the Bible, the Apostle has been misunderstood and misconstrued. There are perhaps more examples from the Apostle Paul’s writings establishing the need for Old Testament Law than from any other New Testament writer. Most who read Paul’s letters overlook the fact that Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin and was a Pharisee. It was a heritage he identified with even after his conversion (Acts 22).

“But this I confess unto you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets” (Acts 24:14). Paul had been accused of betraying the Hebrew faith, yet he insisted in this passage that he was not of a different faith from his kinsmen. This passage provides substantial evidence confirming Paul’s continuing adherence to the Law of the Old Testament, even after his conversion to Yahshua.

• “For not the hearers of the law are just before Elohim, but the doers of the law shall be justified” (Romans 2:13). Paul’s statement is vastly different from the way in which his writings are interpreted today.

• “Do we then make void the law through faith? Elohim forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31).

In his concern that his statements might have been misconstrued, Paul reaffirmed that faith does not nullify the requirements of the Old Testament Law. Even during Paul’s life there were those who taught that the keeping of Old Testament Law was unnecessary. For this reason he felt pressed to show that he was not opposed to Old Testament Law.

• “… for where no law is, there is no transgression” (Romans 4:15).

According to Paul, you cannot have sin without law. There are many passages showing that sin continues to exist today (Rom. 5:12;James 4:17; 1John 5:16-17), providing evidence that the obligation to observe the Law also continues to exist.

“Know ye not, brethren (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he lives? …Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:1, 12).

Paul states that the Law is in effect for every living person. Paul also says that the law is holy, just and good. Paul’s words in this passage certainly do not promote a disannulling of the Law.

“…but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8).

When we observe the Law we demonstrate our devotion to and love for Yahweh. In other words, if we love Yahweh we will honor him by obeying his laws and commandments. The same is true when we love our fellow man,

“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of Elohim” (1Corinthian 7:19).

Paul concludes by saying that physical circumcision and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of Yahweh’s command-ments. Again, the commandments that Paul is referring to are those found in the Old Testament.

Examples from Yahshua

By far the chief advocate for Yahweh’s Law in the New Testament was Yahshua the Messiah. From the start of His ministry Yahshua clarified that He did not come to destroy or annul the law, but to fulfill or complete the Law by His example.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:17-19).

The tittle was a decorative swirl added to Hebrew letters by the scribes. The jot refers to the yod, the smallest letter in the Hebrew alphabet. By confirming the constancy of the smallest letter composing the law and even the decoration on a letter, Yahshua affirmed that His coming did not nullify any part of the law.

He was asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Yahshua said unto him, Thou shalt love Yahweh thy Elohim with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).

This commandment is taken from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, commonly called the Shema. The second greatest commandment is to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Innocently, this commandment is not listed in the Ten Commandments, but in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 19:18). This point is significant because it confirms that the Law of Moses is required for the New Testament assembly. Yahshua in verse 40 verified that on these two commandments hang all the laws and prophets.

“If ye love me, keep my command-ments… He that hath my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:15, 21).

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10).

In both of the above passages Yahshua explains that to love Him is to obey His commands, which he received from the Father. The commandments spoken of in these passages refer to the commandments that Yahweh delivered to Moses in the Old Testament.

Examples from John

John, whom Yahshua loved, was also a champion of Old Testament Law. Those who believe that the Old Testament Law was annulled in the New Testament will often avoid the epistles of John. John is clear and concise regarding the active status of Yahweh’s commandments.

“For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1John 5:3).

According to John, observing Yahweh’s commandments with the right attitude is central to our salvation. Those who keep Yahweh’s statutes without reservation demonstrate their true understanding of the Father.

“And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3).

To know Yahweh is to obey Him. Those who ask the shallow question, “Do you know the L-rd,” do not understand that there is more to knowing the Father than to simply say that you have faith. To know the Father is to know His Name and do His will.

“And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it” (2 John 6).

John said that we are to walk in the commandments that we have known from the beginning. Obviously John is not referring to the New Testament but to the commandments that are found at the beginning, the commandments listed in the Old Testament.

In Conclusion

The commandments are part and parcel of our belief in Yahweh. If we say that we know Yahweh, but keep not His commandments we lie (1 John 2:4). Only those who obey Yahweh’s commandments will attain salvation (Heb. 5:9). It is essential that we who call ourselves Yahweh’s people be able to prove our beliefs, including our obligation to follow Yahweh’s commandments.

With most of the world largely accepting only the New Testament, the most effective method of proving our beliefs is by the New Testament. However, we are not to forget or place any less emphasis on the Old Testament, for that is the foundation of Yahweh’s Word.

Sabbatical Jubilee

Sabbaticals and Jubilees in Prophecy

In His Olivet Prophecy in Matthew 24, Yahshua shows us that besides worldwide famine, planet-engulfing disease epidemics and one devastating earthquake after another, which are only the “Beginning of sorrows,” much more will happen before He wrests control of this planet from rebellious mankind.

He reveals that True Worshipers must first be afflicted and killed for His Name’s sake. His two witnesses will perform miracles in Jerusalem for three and a half years, be killed, and come back to life three and a half days later,Revelation 11:11. The Antimessiah and his religious lieutenant will have virtual control of the planet for several years. False prophets will be performing miracles and deceiving millions. Jerusalem will ultimately be attacked by a vast army horde involving 200 million soldiers (Rev. 9:16).

Finally, after all of this, the sun will go dark and meteors will fall to earth. Only then will Yahshua’s return be imminent. Clearly, none of these things has yet happened.

Besides all the specifics that Yahshua gave us, a key connection exists between the little-taught Sabbatical/Jubilee cycle and Yahshua’s return.

Yahweh gave Israel the Sabbaticals for a special reason.  In the law, Yahweh’s people were to observe a Sabbatical year every seven years and a Jubilee year every 50 years (Lev. 25:1-13; Ex. 21:2-6; 23:10).

On the Sabbatical the land was to rest. No tilling, planting or harvesting could occur, all debts were canceled and slaves let go. During the Jubilee year the land was to rest as well, all slaves were freed and the land was to revert to the original owner.

Three particular stipulations for the Sabbaticals and Jubilees especially have prophetic implications:

•land rest

•land returned to the original owner, and

•slaves freed

When Yahweh sets up His millennial Kingdom on earth, the land will once again be allowed to rest every seven years as it goes from human ownership back to Himself as the original Owner, and people will be released from bondage of sin.

Right after He started His ministry, Yahshua stood up in the temple at Nazareth and quoted Isaiah 61:1-2, which speaks prophetically of Himself. In doing so He not only tied His ministry to the Sabbaticals and Jubilees, but He also provided us a time reference for His Second Coming.

Here is what He read, “The Spirit of Yahweh is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the Good News to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of Yahweh. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him,” Luke 4:18-19.

Notice that He stopped reading just before Isaiah foretold of Yahweh’s vengeance at the day of Yahshua’s Second Coming. The exact quote from Isaiah 61:2 reads: “To proclaim the acceptable year Yahweh AND the day of vengeance of our Elohim…” The prophet links Yahshua’s coming with the Sabbatical-Jubilee.

The focus of the first part of this prophecy was that Yahshua would come to preach the Good News and to offer salvation and understanding of Truth to the world. The latter part emphasized His role of freeing those who were downtrodden and preaching the “acceptable year.” Tied to these was a day of judgment, which Yahshua would fulfill at His Second Coming.

So now we have key elements of Yahshua’s first coming and His Second Coming bound into one prophecy—occurring on either a Sabbatical year or Jubilee year.

The Sabbaticals and Jubilees come every seven and 50 years respectively. Israel’s slaves were freed and the land reverted to the original owners, Ezekiel 46:16-17. That benefit insured that the land inheritance remained with each tribe of Israel that it was designated to. Apportionment of land given to them was a key element of the promise that Yahweh gave His people (Gen. 12:7,17:8-9; Ex. 23:30, Lev. 20:24, Num. 33:54, Ezek. 47).

Freeing the Hebrew bondservant foreshadowed Yahshua’s freeing of those enslaved by the death penalty of sin. He will do precisely that when He returns and resurrects the faithful (1Thess. 4:16): “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how say you, You shall be made free? Yahshua answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever commits sin is the servant of sin. If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed,” John 8:32-34, 36.

Turning the land back to its original ownership also has monumental importance in the grand salvation plan. At creation, Yahweh made the earth. He put man in Eden and gave him charge over it. For 6,000 years man has spoiled this planet through sin and evil under the influence of the Adversary. As in the Jubilee when land parcels reverted to their original owner, Yahweh will take back this earth from the rulership of man (and Satan), and Yahshua will assume control of it again with a rod of iron.

It was because of Yahweh’s promise to Israel that they would inherit the land that the Promised Land of Israel became known as the “Holy Land.” It was a land set apart—made holy—for Yahweh, and it is a land that was to be kept holy through the Sabbatical and Jubilee land rests.

Note that Isaiah’s prophecy, which Yahshua quoted, speaks of the “acceptable year.” The Companion Bible equates this term to both the Jubilee year of Leviticus 25 and the start of Yahshua’s ministry. Other translations call it the “welcome year,” the “favorable year” or the “year of [Yahweh’s] favor.”

Yahweh expected His people to keep the Sabbatical and Jubilee years, as is clear by His detailed instructions on how to observe them. Israel, however, was not faithful in their observance of the Sabbaticals and Jubilees (Lev. 26:35).

Because of their disobedience, they were taken into Babylonian captivity for 490 years so the land could finally rest.Leviticus 26:34-35 tells us, “Then shall the land enjoy her sabbaths, as long as it lies desolate, and you be in your enemies’ land; even then shall the land rest, and enjoy her sabbaths. As long as it lies desolate it shall rest; because it did not rest in your sabbaths, when ye dwelt upon it.”

For 70 Sabbatical years (70×7=490 years) Israel suffered in captivity because of her rebellion.

Yahweh has established His weekly, annual, and land Sabbaths to be observed by His people as object lessons. May we not make the same mistake and ignore what He commands in His Word.

Yahshua will likely return on a Sabbatical or Jubilee because of the following similarities between His prophesied return and the Sabbaticals/Jubilees:

Both are announced by the trumpet: Lev. 25:9/ Mat. 24:31;1Cor. 15:51; 1Thes. 4:16

Both mean rest from labor: Lev. 25:4, 19/Heb. 4:9-10

Both reunite family: Lev. 25:10/Matt. 24:31; 1Thes. 4:16-17

Both give land back to rightful owner: Lev. 25:13; 27:24/Matt. 5:5; Dan. 7:18, 22; Rev. 2:26-27

Slaves are freed by both: Lev. 25:10/Isa. 60:12-14; 49:23; Rev. 20:4

Debts are canceled: Lev. 25:35/Rev. 21:4; John 8:36

sabbatical jubilee end times

Sabbaticals and Jubilees and the End Times

The number 7 is the most important number in the Bible. Most scholars say it is Yahweh’s number because so many of His key activities and designs center on it. One of the most important occurrences of seven is in the Sabbath or seventh day, as well as other observances.

Did you know that the sabbatical, that popular leave of absence that college professors and teachers often take every seven years, is a concept taken straight from the Scriptures?

How many today realize that a “land” Sabbatical is a scripturally commanded rest every seven years, during which planting and tilling of the fields is to stop and the soil is to lie fallow for a year? Modern science even validates the Bible by confirming that the land should periodically rest and re-nourish itself naturally for a year.

If you have ever felt “jubilant” or witnessed a crowd filled with jubilation, then you might be surprised to learn that there is another Scriptural precedent at work here, too. These terms and their meanings come right from the Biblical word “Jubilee,” a year that came every 50 years.

At the Jubilee slaves were freed and debts forgiven. The Jubilee is also a year of land rest, but it went beyond that to include the release of land ownership as well. The Jubilee was a more intensified Sabbatical year.

Certain months of the year have special observances that have Sabbaths within them as well.

Most know that the weekly Sabbath is a time to cease from work. But what is the purpose of these other Sabbaths — the Sabbatical every 7 years, and the 50th-year Sabbath, known as the Jubilee?

The word “Jubilee” is derived in the Bible from the Hebrew jobel or more properly, yobel, which means “ram’s horn.” The ram’s horn announced the beginning of the Jubilee year. Whenever a trumpet was used to signal an event, in this case the shofar trumpet, it was an alert meaning something very significant was about to happen. Leviticus 25:9 says, “Then shall you cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall you make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.”

The law of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years is one of the more mysterious and intriguing in Scripture. It is like discovering a key that opens up a door to an exciting treasure room.

Sabbaticals a Key to Prophecy

Important events of history and prophecy are tied up in these specially sanctioned years. Yet, the Israelites abandoned the keeping of the sabbatical years and in the process missed out on a critical aspect of Yahweh’s prophetic plan.

Deuteronomy 5:15, in the restating of the Fourth Commandment, gives us some additional insights into the broader concept of “Sabbath.”  “And you shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh your Elohim brought you out thence by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm: therefore Yahweh your Elohim commanded you to keep the sabbath day.”

Why does He bring in the issue of slavery in conjunction with the Sabbath? Because there is a connection to the 50th year Jubilee, which is also a Sabbath year. Slaves were to be set free on this 50th year Sabbath.

Persons sold as slaves in order to repay debts had to recover their freedom. An Israelite could not suffer slavery because he was redeemed by Yahweh from Egyptian slavery. He could only lend his services without being treated as a slave, but more like a laborer or tenant, while retaining his dignity as a human. It is much the same way an employee works at the discretion of his employer.

True slaves were only the gentiles who were acquired and sold in the pagan world. These remained the perpetual property of the family, and were treated as slaves in the social sense of the word (Lev. 25:44-46).

Israel was taken into captivity specifically for not keeping the land Sabbath. Not keeping the Sabbaths —weekly and annual — leads to slavery of another kind. Slavery to the world.

The Day of Yahshua’s Return

The trumpet call announcing the Jubilee year directly parallels the trumpet that will announce the return of Yahshua to this earth, which prophecy and Yahshua Himself indicated will occur on a Sabbatical or Jubilee year. Had Israel not lost track of the Jubilee, we could perhaps know with greater certainty the year of Yahshua’s return.

The circumstances of Yahshua’s return are revealed in Luke 4:18, where Yahshua was found in the synagogue reading Isaiah 61:2:

“The Spirit of Yahweh is upon me, because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor: He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh.”

To “proclaim” means “after the manner of a herald, with formality, gravity and authority.” The terminology coincides with the trumpet sound pro-claiming the all-important Jubilee at Atonement. Here is what some scholars say about the phrase “accept-able year”:

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary: “Acceptable year an allusion to the Jubilee year (Lev. 25:10), a year of universal release for person and property.”

Wesley’s Notes: “The acceptable year — plainly alluding to the year of Jubilee, when all, both debtors and servants, were set free.”

Here we see Yahshua rightly dividing the word. In quoting Isaiah 61 He stopped in the middle of verse 2, which demonstrates that He Himself, as the fulfillment of this prophecy, was now calling people out of the world to become His followers. He did not read the rest of the verse, which refers to the future when He returns on the day of judgment.  The “acceptable year” is Yahweh’s amnesty year as one translation calls it.

Sabbatical, Jubilee Defined

The Jubilee is couched in a command detailing the Sabbatical year in Leviticus 25: “And Yahweh spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When you come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto Yahweh. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in the fruits thereof; but in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath unto Yahweh: you shall neither sow your field, nor prune your vineyard.

“That which grows of itself of your harvest you shall not reap, and the grapes of your undressed vine you shall not gather: it shall be a year of solemn rest for the land. And the sabbath of the land shall be for food for you; for you, and for your servant and for your maid, and for your hired servant and for your stranger, who sojourn with you. And for your cattle, and for the beasts that are in your land, shall all the increase thereof be for food.

“And you shall number seven sabbaths of years unto you, seven times seven years; and there shall be unto you the days of seven sabbaths of years, even forty and nine years. Then shall you send abroad the loud trumpet on the tenth day of the seventh month; in the day of atonement shall you send abroad the trumpet throughout all your land.

“And you shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a Jubilee unto you; and you shall return every man unto his possession, and you shall return every man unto his family. A Jubilee shall that fiftieth year be unto you: you shall not sow, neither reap that which grows of itself in it, nor gather the grapes in it of the undressed vines. For it is a Jubilee; it shall be holy unto you: you shall eat the increase thereof out of the field. In this year of Jubilee you shall return every man unto his possession…

“Wherefore you shall do my statutes, and keep mine ordinances and do them; and you shall dwell in the land in safety. And the land shall yield its fruit, and you shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety. And if you shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? Behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for the three years. And you shall sow the eighth year, and eat of the fruits, the old store; until the ninth year, until its fruits come in, you shall eat the old store. And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity; for the land is mine: for you are strangers and sojourners with me. And in all the land of your possession you shall grant a redemption for the land.”

From this law we see that the Sabbatical year prescribes that:

  • Land and vineyards are to rest
  • Voluntary crops can be eaten
  • Debts are to be canceled

The stipulations for the Jubilee years are these:

  • Land must rest
  • Land goes back to original owner
  • Israelite slaves are freed

In quoting Isaiah 61 Yahshua said, “This day is the Scripture fulfilled in your ears.” He meant that He Himself would be its fulfillment when He returned on a Jubilee year. It was undoubtedly a Jubilee year when He said this. His ministry proper began on this Jubilee year, probably 28-29 CE.

Typically a person will experience at least one Jubilee year in his lifetime. As prophetically important as the Jubilee year is, it would be surprising and uncharacteristic for Yahshua, our liberating Savior who alone fulfills the Jubilee prophecy, not to have experienced a Jubilee himself while on earth. And this one would have been it.

The Jubilee is all about freedom —for the land, for the slave, and for the debtor. Yahshua’s ultimate liberating act dying on the tree was in releasing us from the death penalty if we repent and follow Him. His triumph began with the start of His ministry and ended with His impalement.

Just as He was cut off in the middle of the week and died on a Wednesday, so Yahshua left unread the rest of Isaiah 61:2, which tells of the vengeance that would follow His return at the end of the age. Note the latter part of this verse: “…And the day of vengeance of our Elohim; to comfort all that mourn” (Isa. 61:1-2).

Jubilee Soon Neglected        

“And them that had escaped from the sword carried he away to Babylon; and they were servants to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia: to fulfill the word of Yahweh by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed its Sabbaths: for as long as it lay desolate it kept sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years,” 2Chronicles 36:20-21.

Daniel 9 begins with a reference to the 70 years of Judah’s Babylonian captivity. The Jews were sentenced to a captivity of 70 years because they had not kept 70 sabbatical years.

After the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Manasseh were exiled, tradition says, the Jubilee was no longer in effect, being specifically for “ . . . all the inhabitants thereof,” Leviticus 25:10 (see Encyclopaedia Judaica, article “Sabbatical Year and Jubilee,” pp. 579-580). Jews began to believe that the Law of Jubilee did not apply to them because they did not fully occupy the land of Israel. In addition, rabbis relaxed the Sabbatical year because of “eco-nomic hardship.”

The last time we see an attempt to apply the principles of the Jubilee is after the return from the Exile in the time of Nehemiah (Neh. 5:1-11).

When Does the Jubilee Occur?

Is the Jubilee the 49th or 50th year? Isaiah 37:30 holds the key:

“And this shall be the sign unto you: you shall eat this year that which grows of itself, and in the second year that which springs of the same; and in the third year sow, and reap, and plant vineyards, and eat the fruit thereof.”

Here are two Sabbath years in a row. Sabbatical years by definition are spaced seven years apart. This can only refer to a Sabbatical year followed immediately by a Jubilee year, just as 49 is followed by 50. Counting to the Jubilee year is just like the count to Pentecost. You count 49 days (7 weeks) followed by the 50th day.

The Power of Seven

The weekly Sabbath every seven days, the Sabbatical year every seven years, and Jubilees coming after every 7×7 years as well as the 1,000-year reign of Yahshua following 6,000 years of man’s rule are each a part of Yahweh’s great Sabbath system. Yahweh marks weeks, holy days, years and millennia in increments of seven. The word ‘week’ in Hebrew is the same as the number 7,shabua. It literally means “sevened.”

Weeks are determined in cycles of seven days, just as Yahweh’s Word established them, and the month (“moonth”) is based on the moon phase beginning with the new moon. Shabua has a dual meaning, also signifying oaths.

What is Yahweh telling us by this word with dual meanings? Simply this: there is a powerful relationship between the number seven, representing Sabbaths, and an oath. Is it any wonder then that the Sabbath is THE sign between Yahweh and His people? “Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my sabbaths you shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that you may know that I am Yahweh that does sanctify you,” Exodus 31:13.

Sabbath Lessons Taught

With many important meanings and lessons, His Sabbaths are also great equalizers. On the 7th day, for example, both the powerful and the powerless become irrelevant, as even the ox is liberated and given the same day of rest.

To counter any predatory greed, on the Sabbatical year debts are forgiven. And to counter over-farming, the land rests on the seventh year. After 7×7 years all debts are forgiven and lands are returned to the original owners. That insures that property rights remain in a family and the land specially given by Yahweh to the various tribes remained with them.

The Jubilee marks a return to origins, when everyone in Israel had his own property and hence his freedom and equality as well as dignity. It was a safety against tenureship and poverty. It allowed for economic equilibrium, whereby everyone enjoyed at least the minimal economic independence and liberty.

The Sabbatic plan teaches us that land belongs to Yahweh. No one could appropriate land as personal or hereditary property in perpetuity. For this reason, the buying and selling of land was only a temporary transfer and never to be permanent. Even the price of a tract of land was estimated on the basis of counting the years from the Jubilee. The land was more highly valued if it had had more years of production behind it.

The gift of the land was made on the basis of equal distribution to the needy families on the part of Joshua (Josh. 13-21). All were treated fairly. This is the answer to the promises made to the Patriarchs through an oath made by Yahweh (Gen 12-50).

Sabbaticals Prepare Us

In ancient times Yahweh sent prophets to warn the people of their backsliding, but their pleading fell on deaf ears.  There were brief revivals, such as with King Josiah, but after his death the people continued their obstinacy.  Ancient Israel was punished for neglecting the Sabbaths and Holy Days of Yahweh.

There is good evidence that Yahshua’s ministry began on a Sabbatical/Jubilee, in the year 28-29 CE. If we count forward from that time, we find that 2008-09 is the next Sabbatical year where we don’t plant or harvest. That means starting this Atonement, October 11, the land Sabbatical begins.

It just so happens that Sabbatical years in our Gregorian wall calendars are divisible by 7.

In 1973 Ben Zion Wacholder published a table of sabbatical years called, The Calendar of Sabbatical Cycles During the Second Temple and the Early Rabbinic Period,published at Hebrew Union College. His Sabbatical dates coincide with what we have found.

The second great principle, deriving from the first, is:  “You are strangers and sojourners with me.” You are only passing through as pilgrims, heading toward an infinitely greater life. This life is schooling for the life to come, so don’t get wrapped up in the material things around you and live for them. I want you to know that you are strangers and sojourners with me.”

By getting in line with the Sabbath design and learning to follow the Biblical calendar, we learn how Yahweh’s government will run when Yahshua’s rule goes forth out of Zion to all the earth.

Learn more about the amazing number seven in “The Amazing Sevens” below: