From Grace to Obedience

From Grace to Obedience

From Grace to Obedience

 

“Guilty” was the jury’s verdict. The judge’s sentence: death by lethal injection. For Adam Sinclair Smith, a convicted murderer, the nightmare of that January day seven years ago had played endlessly through his mind. In a jealous rage he had taken a man’s life. He realized that he deserved the death penalty for what he had done. No amount of agonizing or remorse could change that.

Regardless of how many times he pleaded for forgiveness from the victim’s family, no matter how much he wished he could relive events, one persistent fact remained: Adam deserved to die. The law was the law. He was guilty of a capital crime and would pay the utmost price for his sin. With nowhere else to turn, he sought mercy from the governor.

 

‘You Have Been Pardoned’

Just minutes before his scheduled execution, Adam heard the most wonderful words ever spoken to a condemned man: “By the grace of the governor of this state, you have been pardoned.”

“I can’t believe it,” he said to himself.

“He pardoned me! I can live!”

Humbly thankful for the gracious pardon, Adam vowed from that point on that he would be a model citizen. And he never was in trouble with the law again.

The foregoing illustrates the concept of scriptural grace and how it works in the believer’s life.

No person on earth is sin-free. Paraphrasing the words of Nathan the prophet to King David, “We are that man.” We all deserve to die for our sins, Romans 5:12; 1John 1:10. We earned our fate and nothing we can do can change that fact. Only the mercy of Yahweh and the sacrificial death of Yahshua can save us.

Being sinless, our Savior was the only one who could pay the death penalty in our stead. Yahweh’s grace in sending His Son to die for us is our only hope for salvation. Like the governor in Adam Smith’s case, only Yahweh and His Son can release us from the death sentence our sins earned.

In Romans 6 Paul explains the operation of Yahweh’s grace. The chapter is a profound study in the transformation that takes place in a True Worshiper under Yahweh’s grace. In the last verse of chapter 5 Paul writes, “That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Yahshua the Messiah our Master.”

Few other concepts are as misunderstood as Yahweh’s grace. What does Paul mean in Ephesians 2:8 that we are saved by grace? Is he saying that the statutes of Yahweh are no longer binding in this New Testament era? If so, what of the many passages warning us of disobedience and the necessity to watch carefully lest we fall again into the condemnation of the unrighteous?

Now suppose the condemned man went right out and repeated the crime for which he was pardoned. Wouldn’t his actions violate the spirit of the pardon? Certainly! The governor didn’t save him by his grace so that he would go out and commit serious crimes all over again. Would not the courts and the governor deal with the man much more harshly the next time? Absolutely!

Yahweh’s grace is no different. What’s the point of Yahweh’s grace  – His favor on sinful human beings – if once pardoned we deliberately return to sinful ways?

The words, “grace reigns through righteousness,” are key. The New Testament in Modern English translates the phrase, “Now grace is the ruling factor, with righteousness as its purpose and its end.” Grace is not static. It is active and it must work daily in the believer’s life.

Yahweh’s grace has an objective: that we will repent and turn from sin to live uprightly as we follow in Yahshua’s footsteps. Obedience is the mechanism allowing that to take place. That means to obey His laws, since sin is clearly defined as the transgression of the law, 1 John 3:4.

Paul explains further in chapter 6 how grace works in the life of the repentant sinner. “What shall we say, then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Yahweh forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (vv. 1-2)

To accept Yahweh’s grace—His pardon for our sins—and then turn back or continue sinful ways as if nothing happened is to pervert the whole purpose of grace. We make Yahweh’s grace  pointless if we accept His pardon only to repeat the sin.

Hebrews 10:26-27 warns of practicing intentional sin: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

Further in the chapter we find this solemn warning: “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden underfoot the Son of Elohim, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29). The word “despite” means, “to insult.” If we continue in sin after receiving Yahweh’s grace, we show contempt for Yahweh.

Slipping up and making a mistake is one thing, willfully returning to sin is another entirely. In Galatians 6 Paul explains the difference.

“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you be tempted.” “Overtaken” is the Greek prolambano and means, “to be taken off-guard in a trespass.” “Fault” is the word paraptoma and signifies a slip or lapse, rather than a deliberate act.

We have only this option: obey the law, which is righteousness, or don’t obey, which is sin. If we obey, we can’t be blamed.

The next part of the verse reads, “For you are not under the law but under grace.” How clear! Through Yahweh’s grace (His pardon) our former sins will not be held against us. The penalty for breaking the law has been paid by Yahshua’s sacrifice. By trusting in His grace, we will not need to pay the penalty ourselves, which the law demands.

The wages of sin is death, Paul wrote in Romans 6:23. In our case it is Yahshua’s death in exchange for our own. If we continue in sin that has been pardoned, we make a mockery of His sacrifice.

 

The Upright Not Condemned

Does this passage mean that we are free from the law now and can go out and sin again, as some seem to say? The Greek word for grace is charis and is defined as the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in one’s life.

Simply put, under Yahweh’s grace we now emulate His righteous nature. We begin to think and act as He does. That means refraining from sin, which is the same as adhering to His standard, His laws.

When we come in line with His law by righteous living, the law with its incrimination and penalties for the disobedient has no claim on us. In Romans 8:1-2 Paul explains this concept:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Messiah Yahshua, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yahshua has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

The critical word is “condemnation,” which results from lawbreaking. When we live according to Yahweh’s statutes, we are innocent of sin and therefore free from condemnation and punishment.

An unintentional slipup is certainly covered by grace for the repentant. But if you continue to repeat the sin, you are mocking the spirit of grace and are subject to Yahweh’s wrath.

Paul continues in verses 3-12 of Romans 6, asking, how can we who have followed Yahshua into the waters of baptism and have buried our old carnal life, continue in our old ways? Particularly since baptism means a putting to death of the “old man.” We must become dead to sin, he tells us in verse 11.

A person who has yielded his life to Yahweh, having put to death his sinful nature, must now live a new life of obedience, Paul explains in verse 13. As he puts it, we become “instruments of righteousness.”

Righteousness derives from a Greek word meaning right or just. The opposite is wrong or sin, which is lawbreaking.

Moving on in verse 14 Paul writes, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law but under grace.” Does he mean that after all he has just said about giving up sin that we are no longer under any obligation to obey Yahweh’s law? How is that possible when the law itself defines what sin is? (‘‘For where no law is, there is no transgression,” Rom. 4: 15.) Let’s examine the verse by segments.

First, for sin not to have dominion over us we have to be out from under it. The only way to accomplish that is by obedience to the law because sin by definition is lawbreaking.

As we have demonstrated, to be free of sin is to be obedient to His law. The same concept is found in Galatians 5: 16, where Paul writes, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”

If grace means we are not under obligation to keep Yahweh’s laws, then grace gives the okay to sin! To this the prophet Jeremiah speaks for Yahweh in 7:9-10:

“Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other deities whom you know not; And come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My Name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’?” Yahweh answers that because of these sins and that kind of attitude, “I will cast you out of my sight,” verse 15.

“But does that mean that I am free to do anything I please under grace?” you may be asking. Let Paul answer that question. The very next verse of this chapter, Romans 6:15, reads,

“What then? shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? Yahweh forbid. Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey: whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

Under Yahweh’s grace we are expected to live obedient lives, giving honor and worship to Him alone as His special people.

When we sin we are unrighteous. This is shown in verse 20: “For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness.”

 

What ‘Under the Law’ Means

The converse is just as true: to be righteous is to be free from sin. No one can be legally arrested for doing good. No sheriff will arrest me for saving a drowning man. There is no law against doing good.

When you do good, you are not under the condemnation of any law. The demands of the law are already met, therefore, and you have no debt to the law. This is what Paul means by not being under the law. It does not mean the law is no longer in effect.  A murderer would not be condemned to die if there were no law against murder. And he would not need a pardon or grace.

Yahweh offers His grace and sent Yahshua to die for our sins for the plain and simple fact that the law is still in effect. Because the law is in force, the penalty for breaking it is real, or else we would have no need to fear sin’s consequences.

Some will argue that Yahshua came to do away with the law and thus we are under grace. This belief falls flat if we can find grace in the Old Testament. Sure enough, in Genesis 6:8 we find, “Noah found grace in the eyes of Yahweh.” Because of grace, Yahweh saved him from the penalty of death by drowning. Exodus 34:5-7 reads like something out of the Book of Galatians. It speaks of Yahweh’s mercy, grace, longsuffering, and abundance in goodness and truth.

If grace existed in the days of ancient Israel, then why does Yahweh command Israel to keep the Ten Commandments? Why should it be any different with us?

We are under grace so long as we do not continue to break the law. Grace is not a permanent condition of the believer but a gift granted by Almighty Yahweh. That gift can be rejected through our rebellion and acts of disobedience.        “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of Elohim; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled,” Hebrews 12: 15.

 

Salvation Cannot Be Earned

Being law observant has nothing to do with “earning” salvation. I don’t get any special reward for paying my taxes on time, for keeping the peace, for not robbing my neighbor or mugging a stranger. I’m simply obeying laws. I’m not earning a thing by being law abiding.

Paul writes in the Book of Ephesians, “For by grace are you saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of Yahweh: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” 2:8- 9.

Nothing we humans can do earns us a place in the Kingdom because Yahweh has not defined obedience that way. Obedience simply engenders Yahweh’s favor and demonstrates our faith in and love for Him. Obedience is the criteria by which He judges us worthy for the kingdom. We are judged by our works, Romans 2:6; Revelation 22:12.

Now if I fail to pay my taxes, if I rob a bank, disturb the peace or mug someone, I will come under the penalty of the law. Yahweh says in Galatians 5:19-21 that those who practice sin are also lawbreakers. Unrepentant lawbreakers will not inherit the Kingdom.

Yahweh’s people love and serve Him and want above all else to please Him. In several Scriptures we find that the love of Yahweh is defined as the keeping of His commandments. (See John 14:15, 21; lJohn 2:5; 5:3; 2John 6.)

Only Yahweh can grant salvation and at His own pleasure. Therefore, we want to be sure we have His favor by being obedient to what He commands. “And being made perfect He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him,” we read in Hebrews 5:9.

Lawkeeping is not salvation by works. Rather, it is salvation by obedience. Obedience can’t guarantee me a position in the Kingdom, but disobedience will keep me out of it!

We complete our faith by following through with action. A faith that is sincere is proved by what we do about it. When we obey Yahweh’s commandments and other laws in our daily life, we prove our faith in Him while pleasing Him at the same time.

Yahweh’s grace is a wonderful gift. May we never forfeit that grace through willful disobedience.

Angelic Realm

Shedding Light on the Angelic Realm Part 2

In shedding light on the angelic realm part 1 we looked at some general characteristics of angels, including their existence, their appearance, their knowledge, their purpose, and more. In this segment we will delve into the different types of angels based on what we find in Judaism and the Bible.

Let’s begin by reviewing how Judaism defines this hierarchy of angels. Because different Jewish scholars had diverse opinions on the hierarchy of angels, you may see different results depending on the source and unique views.

Angelic Hierarchy

For our list we will refer to a man known as Maimonides, whose birth name was Moses ben Maimon and who lived in the 12th century. He was a medieval Sephardic Jewish philosopher who became one of the most influential scholars of the Middle Ages. Part of his work included defining the following hierarchy of angels:

  • Chayot Ha Kodesh
  • Ophanim
  • Erelim
  • Hashmallim
  • Seraphim
  • Malakim
  • Elohim
  • Bene Elohim
  • Cherubim
  • Ishim

Descriptions for each of these angelic classes follows. Understand that much of the information is rabbinic or traditional, and even mystic from the Kabbalah. In no way does Yahweh’s Restoration Ministry vouch for those lacking biblical attribution. The descriptions are provided for educational purposes only.

  • Chayot Ha Kodesh – “The living creatures, living beings, are a class of heavenly beings described in the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the heavenly chariot in the first and tenth chapters of the Book of Ezekiel. References to the creatures recur in texts of Second Temple Judaism, in rabbinical merkabah (‘chariot’) literature, and in the Book of Revelation in the New Testament.” (wikipedia.com)
  • Ophanim – “The ophanim or ofanim (Heb. ‘wheels’), also called galgalim (‘spheres,’ ‘wheels,’ ‘whirlwinds’), refer to the wheels seen in Ezekiel’s vision of the chariot.” (Ibid.)
  • Erelim – “An Arel, Ar’el, or Er’el (Heb. ‘hero,’ ‘valiant one’) refers to a rank of angels in Jewish Kabbalah and Christianity. The name is seen to mean ‘the valiant/courageous.’ They are generally seen as the third highest rank of divine beings/angels below God.” (Ibid.)
  • Hashmallim – “The Hashmallim are angelic entities in Judaism. The word hashmal appears in the Hebrew Bible in Ezekiel 1:4: ‘I saw, and behold, there was a stormy wind coming from the north, a great cloud with flashing fire and a brilliance surrounding it; and from its midst, like the color of the Hashmal from the midst of the fire, and in its midst there was the likeness of four Chayot (living creatures).’ ” (Ibid.)
  • Seraphim – “Tradition places seraphim in the highest rank in Christian angelology and in the fifth rank of ten in the Jewish angelic hierarchy. A seminal passage in the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 6:1-8) used the term to describe six-winged beings that fly around the Throne of God crying ‘holy, holy, holy.’” (Ibid.)
  • Malakim – Hebrew for Angel
  • Elohim – Hebrew for Mighty One/ Mighty Ones
  • Bene Elohim – Sons of the Mighty One
  • Cherubim – “A cherub (plural cherubim) is one of the unearthly beings who directly attend to God according to Abrahamic religions. The numerous depictions of cherubim assign to them many different roles; such as protecting the entrance of the Garden of Eden.” (Ibid.)
  • Ishim – “In Judaism. The Ishim (Heb. ‘men,’ ‘personages,’ ‘personalities,’ individuals’) or Eshim (‘fires,’ ‘flames,’ ‘sparks’) are a class of angels said to be the closest to the affairs of mortals. They are composed of fire and snow, and are described as the ‘beautiful souls of just men’ who reside in Makon, the 5th Heaven.” (Ibid.)

 

Satan As a Cherub

Let’s see what the Bible says about different types of angels. We’ll begin with one you may not have expected, Satan the devil.

In Ezekiel 28 we find a description of Satan before his rebellion. “Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith my Sovereign Yahweh; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of Elohim; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of Elohim; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of Elohim: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee. Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee. All they that know thee among the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more,” Ezekiel 28:12-19.

This is a dual prophecy with part referring to the king of Tyrus and part to Satan the devil. What’s intriguing about this passage is that we find in it a description of Satan before his fall, a being full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. These are not characteristics we generally attribute to the Evil One, yet at one point he was wise and beautiful. When you think about the fact that he deceived a third part of all the angels, it is consistent that he would have these grand attributes. Even in the New Testament, Satan is described as an angel of light.

We also see that he was in the garden of Elohim and that every precious stone was his covering. As a side note, every stone mentioned here was also on the breastplate of the high priest.

Satan is also identified as an anointed cherub. As we’ll learn later when we probe the topic of cherubim more extensively, cherubim are a special class of angels among the celestial realm.

Evidence shows that Satan was created. The Bible says that only Yahweh has always had immortality, i.e., eternity.

But Satan fell from grace when iniquity was found in him. The reason for his iniquity is in verse 17: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.”

Ironically, it was Satan’s wisdom and beauty that was his ruin. He allowed his heart to become prideful and, as we see in Isaiah 14, desired to usurp Yahweh’s authority.

An Archangel Named Michael

Another angel, who was a major nemesis to Satan the devil, is Michael the archangel. In Daniel 10, starting in verse 4, we find an inciteful encounter between a messenger, a prince of Persia, and Michael.

“Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet heard I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground. And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and upon the palms of my hands. And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy Elohim, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia.”  Daniel 10:8-13.

Here is an angel delivering a message to Daniel the prophet. What’s intriguing is that this messenger was restrained from coming to Daniel for 21 days while the Persian prince confronted him.

The prince of Persia is likely a fallen angel, evidently one of great strength and power. The messenger was finally able to communicate with Daniel when Michael the archangel came and removed the Persian monarch. This provides us with a glimpse of the angelic realm. Just as we humans have conflict and war, it appears that similar conflict exists in the spirit realm.

We also see indications that there are other archangels similar to Michael; however, Scripture seems to give Michael a premier ranking in the angelic sphere.

Revelation 12:7-8 provides another scene involving Michael. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.”

There are many views on this passage. Some say it’s symbolic, some say it’s literal, some say it has already happened, and some say that it has yet to happen. We believe this is literally speaking about a cosmic battle between Satan and his fallen angels and Michael and his angels. Some believe it is a past event, others future. We lean toward the past, but it’s possible that this could be a future prophecy.

What’s more important, though, is not whether this is past or present, but what we find transpiring between Satan and Michael. As we read in Daniel, we once again see Michael withstanding and defeating Satan and his fallen angels. It also hints that Michael is over Yahweh’s angelic army. This further shows the special role that Michael has among the angelic realm.

A Messenger Named Gabriel

Unlike Michael, Gabriel does not appear to be an angelic warrior. Instead, he serves as a messenger angel; we find him providing prophetic messages to Daniel in chapters 8 and 9 and also to Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, and Miriam, the mother of Yahshua, in Luke 1. So while Michael and Gabriel are both archangels, they serve very different roles.

Cherubim

Our next focus is on the cherubim. Satan the devil was once an anointed cherub in the garden of Elohim and ironically the first mention of cherubim is in Genesis 3:24, in the Garden of Eden. “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”

After the sin of Adam and Eve, Yahweh cast them out from the Garden of Eden and to prevent them from returning, He placed Cherubim with a flaming sword on the east side. (As a side note, the “im” at the end of cherubim is plural. The singular is simply cherub.)

The cherubim are also found in the following passages:

  • Exodus 25 and 37 – cherubim were placed on the mercy seat upon the Ark of the Covenant.
  • 2Samuel 22:11 and Psalm 18:10 – David describes Yahweh as riding on a cherub.
  • 1Kings 6 and 2 Chronicles 3 – Solomon had images of cherubim in Yahweh’s temple.
  • Ezekiel 9:3 – Yahweh’s glory is seen rising from a cherub.
  • Ezekiel 10:2 – Ezekiel is told to gather coals of fire between the cherubim.
  • Ezekiel 28:14 – Satan was once an anointed cherub in the garden of Elohim.
  • Ezekiel 41:18 – images of cherubim will be used in the Millennial Temple.

From these verses we learn that the cherubim: 1) hold a special place in the angelic realm; 2) their images were used in Solomon’s temple and will be used in the millennial Temple; 3) they have wings and can fly and often have a connection with Yahweh’s glory; and 4) Satan was a cherub in the garden of Elohim before he rebelled against Yahweh.

Beyond this, there’s a lot of speculation in Judaism and Christianity as to who and what these creatures are. As we know, most of these beliefs have no biblical basis; they are purely rabbinic or man-made.

Seraphim

Another type of angelic being is the seraphim, found in Isaiah 6:2-4. “Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Yahweh of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”

Probably the most fantastic trait is that the seraphim have six wings – two to cover their face, two to fly, and two to cover their feet. Why they have these characteristics is unclear, although some scholars connect a symbolic meaning, that the wings covering the face indicate humility, while the wings covering the feet signify reverence.

Whatever the case might be, we see they are exceptional beings among the angelic realm. This is the only reference to seraphim that we find in Scripture, but based on this one example, it appears that seraphim may exist to honor and recognize the holiness of Yahweh. In this prophecy, we find them crying out, “Holy, holy, holy is Yahweh of hosts.” As is seen in the Old Testament, when a word or phrase is repeated three times it’s normally for emphasis. In this example it expresses the supremely holy nature of Almighty Yahweh.

Other instances of this usage of repetition are: Jeremiah 7:4: “Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of Yahweh, The temple of Yahweh, The temple of Yahweh, are these;” Jeremiah 22:29: “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of Yahweh;” and Ezekiel 21:27: “I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.”

Ezekiel’s Vision

One of the most striking and perplexing passages in the Bible is found in the prophecy of Ezekiel 1. According to Barnes’ Notes, special caution is encouraged when reading this passage. “The exposition of the fundamental principles of the existence and nature of a Supreme G-d, and of the created angels, was called by the rabbis ‘the Matter of the Chariot’ (compare 1Chron. 28:18) in reference to the form of Ezekiel’s vision of the Almighty; and the subject was deemed so mysterious as to call for special caution in its study.” Based on this warning, it’s important that we use caution when reviewing this passage.

“And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber, out of the midst of the fire. Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle. Thus were their faces: and their wings were stretched upward; two wings of every one were joined one to another, and two covered their bodies. And they went every one straight forward: whither the spirit was to go, they went; and they turned not when they went. As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning. And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning,” Ezekiel 1:4-14.

Mentioned here are four living creatures, which in Ezekiel 10:20 are identified as cherubim. “This is the living creature that I saw under the Elohim of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubims.”

One difference between the cherubim in Genesis 3 and the cherubim we see here is that in Genesis they had two wings and here they have four wings. It appears that cherubim can have a different number of wings.

Another characteristic of the living creatures, or cherubim, is that according to verse 5, they had the appearance of a man, possibly referring to their general stature or the way they stood.

They also had four faces – one of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. Many ask whether we should view this literally or figuratively. In other words, are we seeing an angelic being with four faces or are these faces symbolic of something else? I tend to view this literally and not just figuratively, as some do. If what we find here is indeed literal, it shows the diversity, complexity, and uniqueness of the angelic realm. If we could get even a glimpse, what we would find would totally amaze us.

We also discover that their color is like burnished brass. Revelation 1 gives a depiction of Yahshua’s divine presence and He too is described as brass that is burned in the furnace. It appears there’s something very special about burnished brass when it comes to the angelic realm.

The Ophanim

An even more mysterious being is revealed in verses 15-24 of Ezekiel 1. “Now as I beheld the living creatures, behold one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures, with his four faces. The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the colour of a beryl: and they four had one likeness: and their appearance and their work was as it were a wheel in the middle of a wheel. When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went. As for their rings, they were so high that they were dreadful; and their rings were full of eyes round about them four. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them: and when the living creatures were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up. Whithersoever the spirit was to go, they went, thither was their spirit to go; and the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. When those went, these went; and when those stood, these stood; and when those were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them: for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. And the likeness of the firmament upon the heads of the living creature was as the colour of the terrible crystal, stretched forth over their heads above. And under the firmament were their wings straight, the one toward the other: every one had two, which covered on this side, and every one had two, which covered on that side, their bodies. And when they went, I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of great waters, as the voice of the Almighty, the voice of speech, as the noise of an host: when they stood, they let down their wings.”

As you can imagine, there are many ideas as to what Ezekiel saw here, including UFOs. Whereas we don’t give any credence to UFO’s, all would agree that the imagery we find here is not of this world.

We again see the four living creatures or the cherubim but we also see something else, i.e., wheels within wheels. This is one of the most mysterious beings in Scripture. How can wheels within wheels travel multiple directions without turning? For verse 17 says, “When they went, they went upon their four sides: and they turned not when they went.”

Now we also see here a connection between the living creatures and the wheels, as the wheels would follow the living creatures. In fact, verse 21 states that the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels.

From verse 18 we see that the rings of the wheels had eyes all around them. It seems that the eyes here verify the wheels are some sort of angelic being. As we see from Maimonides’ list, the Jews call these beings Ophanim, from the Hebrew ophan. A more thorough description of the Ophanim is: “Members of the ophanim rank of angels never sleep, because they’re constantly busy guarding G-d’s throne in heaven. They are known for their wisdom. Their name comes from the Hebrew word ‘ophan,’ which means ‘wheel,’ due to the Torah’s description of them in Ezekiel chapter 1 as having their spirits encased inside wheels that moved along with them wherever they went. In Kabbalah, the famous archangel Raziel leads the ophanim.”

Much of this derives from Jewish rabbinic thought and even Jewish mysticism. We can only speculate what this being really looked like and what Ezekiel must have thought as he saw this vision. Verse 18 also tells us that the wheels were dreadful, which in Hebrew means to fear or to reverence. This must have been an overwhelming vision for Ezekiel.

 

The Glory of Yahweh

One more part of Ezekiel’s vision is found in verses 26-28: “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. As the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.”

Above the cherubim was a throne with an image of man, whose appearance was of the likeness of the glory of Yahweh. The word “likeness” here is from the Hebrew demuwth and according to Strong’s refers to a “resemblance; concretely, model, shape; adverbially, like.” Since the appearance was a resemblance of the glory of Yahweh, this would imply it was not Yahweh the Father. With that in mind, the only Being who could sit on a throne with the resemblance or likeness of Yahweh is the Son of Yahweh, i.e., Yahshua the Messiah.

The Son was with the Father before the universe began. In fact, Yahshua in John 17:5 said He had glory with His Father before the world was or existed.

Now whether this was the Son or the actual presence of the Father’s glory, the pinnacle of this vision is found in these last verses. The four living creatures and the wheels within the wheels are subservient to the being on the throne, who is described as the having the appearance of fire.

Interestingly, there seems to be a connection between the angelic realm and the appearance of fire. Evidence of this is when Yahweh appeared before Moses in the burning bush. The bush appeared to be on fire but never burned. In this case, it was likely only the appearance of fire, similar to Ezekiel’s vision.

There are things about the angelic realm that we will never understand in our present life. But we can see enough here to realize just how incredible and amazing it is!

 

The Throne Room

An equally amazing prophecy is found in Revelation 4. In the RSB we’ve titled this passage, “The Throne Room in Heaven.” Beginning with Revelation 4:2, we read, “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of Elohim. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Yahweh El Shaddai, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Yahweh, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created,” verses 2-11.

There are several similarities between Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 4. John of Patmos was in the spirit, which seems to  imply that he was seeing a vision, similar to Ezekiel. In this vision he sees a throne in heaven and one sitting upon the throne, most likely the same throne and the same being as we saw in Ezekiel 1. As already stated, this is likely the Son in a glorified state or the actual presence of Yahweh’s glory.

We also see a few other similarities, including precious stones, lightnings, and thunders. The thunders and lightnings are reminiscent of when Israel was around Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:16: “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.” So we see that thunders and lightnings are often connected to Yahweh’s presence.

Also seen are 24 elders who were clothed in white with crowns upon their heads. As noted in the RSB, these elders are likely angelic beings of a celestial council. According to verse 10, their purpose is to worship the One on the throne day and night, casting their crowns before Him.

We also notice that before the throne there was a great sea of glass with four creatures around the throne, full of eyes  in front and behind. While many might believe that the imagery here is only symbolic, it may very well be literal.

Sometimes people are too quick to dismiss certain items and view them as only symbolic. Oftentimes this is done when they don’t understand something or it seems too difficult to believe. We need to remember Yahweh’s ways are much greater and higher than our ways. The imagery we find here is astonishing and beyond any words that we could ever convey.

But we need to recall that what we see here is a vision of Yahweh’s throne room. We should expect nothing short of astonishing when considering the majesty and glory of Yahweh. Whether we’re talking about the cherubim, seraphim, or ophanim, the spiritual realm is amazing. If we could actually see the angelic realm, we would all be totally astounded by its splendor and greatness. For those found worthy of Yahweh’s calling, they will someday have the opportunity to witness the amazing creatures that we’ve uncovered. Hopefully this small glimpse of the angelic realm will encourage and motivate us to become better disciples of Yahweh.

Twisted Ways of Today’s Clichés

We were once visited by a relative who knew that my wife and I were firm believers in keeping Scripture as our Savior taught. Expecting an assault on his liberal, no-law theology, he preempted an anticipated first strike by firing off a volley of tired old bromides on love and grace.

Whenever I hear these sweet nothings, my brain slips into neutral and then flames out. Why do so many replace serious study and investigation of Scripture with jargon they don’t understand themselves?

Many self-claimed teachers cling to featherweight phrases they’ve heard and now personally own – superficialities with no bearing on anything, just empty calories.

We’ll look at some of the shallow sweet nothings you often hear today and compare them with Scripture. This may prove useful if you are ever confronted with cliché abuse.

Frivilous Fluff

It’s the kind of message you hear in countless worship settings.

Preacher Peter steps to the pulpit. “The L-rd spoke to my heart today and He gave me this message. Brother Brad has been struggling in his marriage. Brad, just take it to Him in prayer. Just let go and let G-d.

“Brothers and sisters, what is YOUR burden today?  Whatever your struggle, it’s covered by the blood! Can I get an amen? Remember, He is working things out in your favor, He will never leave you where He found you. No weapon formed against us shall stand. Every assignment has been canceled. Devil, we’re returning everything you sent signed, sealed, and undelivered!”

So did you learn anything? Were you given any fresh insights that motivate you to walk closer to Yahweh in your life?

New clichés are launched all the time. Even Bible verses can become clichés when wrenched from their context and forced to apply where they don’t belong. The worst clichés are the ones that rhyme. “My worship is anointed and appointed.” And, “I’m too blessed to be stressed.”

TV evangelists are great at spinning cotton candy. Throw in some audience participation, some “Speak it brother,” and the crowd will rave, thinking it’s a great message. Platitudes abound where critical thought is absent.

Clichés live in the world of generalities, as do countless sermons today. The minute you get specific is when you must be ready to defend your beliefs and teachings.

Where in the Word do we find support for clichés? Paul said to Timothy, “Avoid profane and vain babblings which some professing have erred concerning the faith,” 1Timothy 6:20.

Let’s dig into some of the more common clichés and see what lurks there. Can we take away anything worthwhile?

  • “If G-d brings you to it, He will bring you through it.” So how do you know He brought you to it? As in the lesson of Job, Satan can also bring you to it. Or maybe Yahweh did bring you to it and wants you to stay there for a while and learn something.

Trials offer great learning lessons.

In 2Corinthians 4:16-17 Paul wrote, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

Peter cautioned: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Messiah’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy,” 1Peter 4:12-13.

Trials make the dedicated believer stronger. As the Companion Bible notes, the same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay.

  • “G-d wants me to be happy.” Where is that in the Bible? Happiness is driven by emotion; commitment comes by conformity to the Word, and THAT is what makes Yahweh happy. Yahshua told His disciples in John 13:17: “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye DO them.” True happiness is not about us. It’s about being united with Him through following His will, which leads to wisdom and righteousness.

Worship became emotion-driven about 50 years ago, where happiness became the new goal. Happiness is not an entitlement. Getting in line with Yahweh is what leads to satisfying, real happiness in the Believer.

Peter teaches a counter-intuitive lesson on happiness: “If ye be reproached for the name of Messiah, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of Elohim rests upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified,”1Peter 4:14.

James 5:11 adds, “Behold, we count them happy which endure. You have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of Yahweh.” Incidentally, if the law came to an end, so did Yahweh and Yahshua, because the same word telos, meaning goal, is used for Yahshua as being the end goal of the law as well (Rom.10:4).

You can recite clichés all day long, but unless you get out of your comfort zone and do something about the faith you profess, it is just smoke and mirrors in Yahweh’s eyes.

Yahweh is a Creator of action just like the Hebrew language that He uses to describe Himself. Yahshua said in John 5, “My Father works and I work.”

To say what Yahweh is, is tantamount to saying what He does; to describe Him is to talk action and behavior. He is a mighty One of doing and achieving; clichés, on the other hand, live in a world of inertia and indolence. When Yahweh called out Israel, they were expected to start doing His will.

  • “G-d loves you.” In a television series years ago the main character, playing an angel, repeated this phrase in every program as the antidote to every problem and trial. This bromide taught the viewer that all Yahweh wants is to love you the way you are – even in your sin. How does that fit with Yahshua’s teaching in Luke 13:3, and 5: “except you repent you shall all likewise perish”?

In Acts 17:30-31 Paul explained about Yahweh to the pagan Greeks on Mars Hill, “And the times of this ignorance Elohim winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.”

The word repent and its permutations occur 112 times in the Scriptures. That TV actor never told anyone, “Turn to Yahweh in repentance, as the Word admonishes.”                   Most people would run from such counsel to change their behavior. They are happy where they are in whatever faith they have found themselves, and expect Yahweh to honor that.

Rather than conform to His will they expect Yahweh to bend to theirs, and want to be assured that He is completely pleased with their anemic performance, which that TV show, as well as these clichés, promote.

Paul continues, “Because he hath ap-pointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained.”

The center of gravity in Yahshua’s salvation plan includes His teachings about overcoming and righteousness. The central theme of the entire Scriptures is to conform to Yahweh’s will. We please the One we worship by changing our life, not spouting meaningless jargon.

The apostle said in 1John 2:5: “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of Elohim perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”

  • “Where G-d guides, G-d provides.” This implies that Yahweh leads you to Truth so He can make you prosperous. Yahshua was never endowed with wealth. He said in Matthew 8:20, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” This was never Yahshua’s desire.

Today’s prosperity doctrine has aban-doned this fact. The false teaching completely misses the message and example Yahshua brought through overcoming sin and the world. Speaking of false ministers in 1Timothy 6:5, Paul warned about “perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is holiness: from such withdraw thyself.”

  • “We are saved by faith alone – but not by a faith that is alone.” This belief nowhere exists in Scripture. The first extant writing to contain the phrase “faith alone” is John Calvin’s Antidote to the Council of Trent (1547).

“Faith alone” is a spurious twisting of James 2:17: “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Also verse 24, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” James then tops it off in verse 26 with, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” The “faith alone” doctrine was promulgated by Martin Luther in his attack on Roman church works like indulgences.

Often used is Romans 3:28, which does not speak of being set apart but of justification: “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the Law.” We are not saved by faith alone but are justified by faith alone. Faith justifies the man but works justify faith. Justification is followed by sanctification or being set apart by our actions.

  • “Let go and let G-d.” This cliché makes a catchy bumper sticker but can eviscerate the purpose and goal of the believer’s walk. Taken wrongly, it slams the door on obedience and forecloses on any working out of our salvation with fear and trembling, as commanded in Philippians 2:12. Those who repeat it ignore the crucial next step, which is sanctification or being set apart through obedience.

Obedience is a core teaching in every book of the Bible. Those who are called can’t let go, because they are committed to a life of active overcoming. Where in the New Testament do we find any disciple letting go of his walk and “letting Yahweh”? Yahshua never taught it. He said in Matthew 7:21 that we must do the will of His Father. Paul in Philippians 2:12 admonishes to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. James writes in 1:22 to be doers of the Word and not hearers only.

First John 3:24 says, “And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” And He gives His Spirit to those who obey Him, Acts 5:32.

Often ignored are Revelation 12:17 and 14:12, which say we need the faith of Yahshua as well as keeping of the commandments for salvation. Revelation 22:14 teaches that if we obey then we have the right to the tree of life.

We must not confuse unconditional grace with unconditional salvation. The world thinks salvation is automatic, so they consider “Let go and let Yahweh” a great fit. At funerals you hear that the deceased is now looking down and smiling. Does anyone ever ask how he or she measured up in order to be awarded everlasting life? Let alone explain how they were judged worthy even before Yahshua could return to initiate the judgment.

Paul wrote in 2Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

“Letting go” is just another way of buying into the once-saved always-saved belief and avoiding the command to follow Yahweh’s Word. Many of these superficial clichés have an anti-law, anti-obedience basis.

Yahshua further explained in Matthew 7:21: “Not every one that saith unto me, Master, Master, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

Living by the Bible’s commands, which is sanctification, is anything but passive. The true believer’s life can be taxing. He combats opposition from family, friends, employers, and others who have not been enlightened to the Truth.

Yahshua never promised a free ride down Easy Street, but rather tribulation as we follow the Word. He said, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Why mention this at all if Yahweh does everything for us? Promoters of such classic clichés also discount the work of the Holy Spirit that indwells the saint and helps him to obey Yahweh’s statutes, Ezekiel 36:27.

When Paul reflects on the activities of the believer he says nothing about La-Z-Boy recliners and cozy days watching pigeons in the park. Paul’s metaphors for the walk of the True Worshiper are soldiering, tough athletic contests, and planting and farming in the hot sun. The Puritans called their walk “holy sweat.”

Paul defines the metrics clearly in 2Corinthians 5:9: “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.”

  • “He or she is in a better place.” One of the most quoted of the clichés, this one is offered in sympathy at funerals, but also in ignorance. How can the grave be a better place? Like the old dog Rover, when we die we die all over.

“For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten,” Ecclesiastes 9:5. Verse 10 says further, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” At death we no longer are conscious or sentient.

Of course, this cliché assumes the deceased are in heaven. Even if the Bible taught salvation at death, only Yahshua decides who is worthy of it, and then only at the judgment, Luke 20:35. “But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage.”

Scripture says that we lose total consciousness at death. When He returns, Yahshua our Judge will raise to life those He finds worthy of the first resurrection. The dead remain dead until this resurrection event at the Second Coming, Matthew 24:30-31.

Solomon did not say the dead go to a better place. Only that the person’s breath of life, not the person’s immortal soul, goes back to Yahweh: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit [ruach] shall return unto Elohim who gave it,” Ecclesiastes 12:7.

All thoughts perish at death, Psalm 146:4, and the dead can’t praise, Psalm 88:10.

Only Yahweh has immortality, 1Timothy 6:16. No one has it automatically.

Furthermore, the dead are RAISED incorruptible. They don’t come DOWN from heaven but rise to meet the returning Yahshua in the air when He comes to earth, John 6:40.

  • “There, but for the grace of G-d, go I.” This cliché is used to minimize or excuse the bad behavior of another. It says in effect, “That could have been me there.” It really says that Yahweh’s grace restrains you but didn’t quite work for them.
  • “Ask J-sus into your heart.” Why my heart? Why not my head as well? This is yet another emotional cliché void of nutrition. What does it mean in the practical world where we all live? Clichés like these make living by the Bible just an ethereal, emotive experience rather than, as Yahshua teaches, one that mirrors His own examples. John tells us in 1John 2:6 to walk as He walked. He says in verse 4 that to say you know Him but don’t keep the commandments makes you a liar without the truth.

The Word teaches action, doing, sacrificing of self, and working out your salvation with fear and trembling. Asking Him into your heart just doesn’t have the same ring.

  • “Do you have a personal relationship with the L-rd?” For the True Worshiper, an honest-to-goodness relationship with Yahshua means taking part in His death and resurrection by repenting and being baptized. It is followed by living a life befitting the example He set.

Paul admonishes in Romans 6:3: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Yahshua were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Messiah was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”

In John 15:14 Yahshua defined the personal relationship He wants: “You are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.” There is no other valid “personal relationship.”

  • “G-d said it. I believe it. That settles it.” This cliché serves no purpose in a discussion of doctrine or belief. It is used only to deflect any serious inquiry, and padlock the door on further discussion. It is a one-size-fits-all comeback for those who are unskilled in the Word.

Truth to tell, the Bible doesn’t actually say what they may think it says, which means they don’t in fact believe it, and so nothing whatsoever is settled.

With most of these popular clichés the thrust is antinomian, meaning faith over obedience, and passivity over action. Revelation 2:26 counters that with: “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” Overcome. Keep my works. These are action verbs, words of doing, dynamic words that define the True Worshiper’s  life

Forget the ways of false clichés. Start living and applying Bible Truth and discover all the joy and satisfaction that you have been missing in your life.

Based on Peter’s vision, isn’t pork now clean to eat?

Based on Peter’s vision, isn’t pork now clean to eat?

 

Contrary to popular opinion, Peter’s vision in Acts 10 has nothing to do with clean foods. The lesson behind this parable involved the separation between Jew and gentile. Peter later explained that Yahweh showed him that he was not to call any man common or unclean. We further explain in the Restoration Study Bible: “Peter’s vision is a lesson about accepting repentant gentiles into the Body of Messiah as those grafted into the promise of Israel (Rom. 9:17-24). This was a major change as gentiles were considered unclean by the Jews. The meaning and purpose of this vision is explained by Peter himself in verse 28, ‘but Elohim hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.’ Peter admits to learning the object lesson in vv. 34-35, having had a personal problem with discrimination (Gal 2:11). The passage is not about eating unclean food, which would have been a violation of the Law of Yahweh,” note on Acts 10:9.

 

 

The sons of God

The Sons of Elohim

Who were the Sons of Elohim in Genesis 6:2? There are two main theories about the identity of these “sons of Elohim,” explained in the Complete Word Study of the Old Testament.

“The first theory is that the ‘sons of G-d’ are fallen angels and the ‘daughters of men’ are mortals. The wickedness for which they are condemned in the unlawful marriage between those who are supernatural and those who are mortal. This ancient viewpoint hinges in part on the assumption that Jude 1:6, 7 refers to angels. The proponents of this view insist, perhaps with some scriptural backing, that the term ‘sons of G-d’ refers only to angels (Job 1:6-12). However, there is no precedent at this point from which this conclusion can be made. And if this sin is, at least to a large extent, the fault of the angels, why is man punished by the flood? When the proponents of this theory are reminded of the fact that [Messiah], in Matthew 22:30, says that angels do not marry, they answer that He only said that they do not, not that they could not or did not. Besides the mythological quality which this viewpoint brings to the text, there is considerable theological difficulty with the existence of human beings who are, at least in part, not descended from Adam (Acts 17:26).

“The second theory as to their identity is the one most often held to within conservative scholarship. The ‘Sons of G-d’ are reckoned to be the [righteous] line of Seth while the ‘daughters of men’ are of the line of Cain. Thus the sin with which they are charged is one which is common to the whole of scripture, and especially to the Pentateuch: the intermarriage of the chosen people of [Yahweh] (the believers) with those who are unholy.”

Inspiration or Mythology

The idea that the Sons of Elohim were angels comes largely from the book of Enoch, which is rejected by Jewish and Christian scholars alike. This book was written shortly after 200 B.C.E. The pseudonymous author doubtlessly received this notion from Greek mythology.

The Greeks believed in what was known as demigod. The Greek mythological warrior Heracles was produced by his Father Zeus, the g-d of the sky, and his mother Alcmene, a mortal woman. This relationship between g-d and mortal produced what is known as demigod, meaning half human and half g-d.

The book of Enoch describes a similar story that seems to be taken right from Greek mythology. The author of this book writes about a time when two hundred divine or angelic beings visited the daughters of men, thus creating giants or demigods.

The theory that angels mated with mortal woman later crept into the Septuagint version. Of the three oldest manuscripts of the Septuagint, only the Codex Alexandrinus of the fifth century offers the word “angels” in Genesis 6:2 instead of “sons of Elohim.” Not one of the Hebrew manuscripts, however, has the word “angels” in Genesis 6:2. Instead, all Hebrew manuscripts read “sons of Elohim.”

Josephus, the Hebrew historian, makes a brief statement in his Antiquities of the Jews regarding the notion that angels procreated with the daughters of men. It is known that Josephus had early associations with the Essenes, which was a zealous Jewish religious sect that had some mystic teachings. This association may have led Josephus to adopt some of its doctrines and beliefs, obviously including the belief that angels created giants through mortal women.

It is easy to see how this corrupted, dogmatic doctrine became infused with the influence of Greek and Romans mythology. During the time of Enoch and such groups like the Essenes, one must remember the major influence at that time were the Greeks and later the Romans, which incorporated Greek beliefs into its belief system. The idea that angelic beings had relationships with mortal women not only is untrue, but a perversion of Yahweh’s creation.

The Inspired Truth

Besides Greek mythology and the book of Enoch, the only other source used by those who advocate this belief is found in Genesis chapter 6.

“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of Elohim saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And Yahweh said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of Elohim came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. And Elohim saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:1-5).

From verse one we find the topic of this passage, “and it came to pass, when men…” It does not say ‘when angels,” nor does it ever indicate angels in verse one. The beginning of this chapter sets the tone for the entire passage. Verse three again verifies to whom Yahweh is angry  by the statement, “…My spirit shall not always strive with man.” Verse five once more verifies that Yahweh is not angry with angels, but angry with mortal man with the statement, “And Elohim saw that the wickedness of man was great…”

Not one reference is attributed to angels in Genesis chapter six. Most proponents of this erroneous belief will often use the term “giants” found in Genesis 6:4 to substantiate the idea of demigods. Those who believe that angels had relationships with mortal women generally also believe that through these unlawful relationships giants were produced.

Nephilim – Giants

The word “giants” in Genesis 6:4 is from the Hebrew word “nephilim” meaning, “a bully or tyrant.” This word does not necessarily mean oversized as in the English word “giant,” but can simply mean one who is a dictator or despot.

In addition to the meaning of the word “giants” as found through the Hebrew word “nephilim” we can also find one other oversight in verse four of Genesis chapter six. “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of Elohim came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.”

Notice that verse four says that there were giants (nephilim) in those days, and that after the sons of Elohim procreated children with the daughters of men that there were other nephilim. The creation of nephilim, i.e. a bully or tyrant, came before the relationships between the sons of Elohim and the daughters of men.

The nephilim existed prior to these unlawful relationships, thus exposing one more blunder to the theory that the sons of Elohim originally created the nephilim. Furthermore, we can see that the nephilim produced by the sons of Elohim later become “men of renown.” It does not say that the nephilim became supernatural giants, but men of popular status. Obviously, a type of totalitarian rule achieved this status.

Purpose for Flood

When Yahweh saw the result of those illegal and sinful relationships between the sons of Elohim and the daughters of men he was regretful that he made mankind. By reason of this distress Yahweh promised that both man and beast would die, except for Noah and his family. “And Yahweh said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repents me that I have made them” (Genesis 6:7).

Advocates for the theory that angels produced demigods with the daughter of men teach that the flood was for the purpose of killing off the offspring of that most-wicked relationship. While Yahweh did destroy the earth due to the wickedness of man, there is no indication that he did so due to divine relationships with mortal women.

If Yahweh did destroy all mankind because of unlawful relationships between divine and human he allowed it later in Numbers 13:33, almost eight hundred years after the flood. “And there we saw the giants [Heb. nephilim], the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.”

This passage does support that the sons of Anak were certainly larger than the Hebrew men sent out to spy the land of Canaan, but how much larger these men were it does not indicate. Clearly, these sons of Anak were a test for the Israelites. Yahweh in all likelihood placed the sons of Anak where they were to test the Israelites faith and obedience.

The fact remains, if Yahweh’s purpose for the flood was to remove forever the nephilim He made a mistake, because it is clear that the nephilim were never completely removed. Those who support the idea that nephilim came from angels will argue that Yahweh did not make a mistake, but later restricted the nephilim to the land of Canaan.

Why would Yahweh restrict such a wicked people to a land that would later be called the promised land? No such evidence of this notion can be found anywhere in Yahweh’s inspired word. Nowhere did Yahweh say that he was going to restrict the sons of Anak to a certain land. Evidence for this belief simply cannot be found.

Angels Cannot Procreate

One more impossibility that people overlook who advocate that angels procreated with the daughters of men is the fact that Yahweh never designed angels to reproduce other life. Yahshua in Matthew 22:30 plainly said that angels neither marry or are given in marriage, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of Elohim in heaven.”

Yahshua very plainly and without debate stated that angels are not given in marriage, thus indicating that Yahweh never gave them the ability to procreate within their own realm, much less with humankind. When Yahweh placed the man, Adam, within the Garden of Eden and then made the woman from Adam’s own rib he stated that they were to multiply this on earth with other human life.

Yahweh left no question on whether or not mankind could procreate. Not only did Yahweh say that mankind had the ability to create other life, but He commanded that mankind do such. Again, we cannot find one shred of evidence within Yahweh’s inspired word to neither indicate that angels had nor have the ability to procreate other life.

Yahweh’s very name expresses creation and existence, and no other angelic being was ever called by this family name, Yah, except for His Son, Yahshua the Messiah, which created all things under Yahweh’s direction (Hebrews 11:3). To say that angels can procreate with humankind is to say that they have all the necessary components of procreation that man possess. This possibly cannot be true knowing that they are spirit and humans are flesh.

One argument by some is that the fallen angels possessed or took over the bodies of men, and, with earthly women, then produced giants or demigods. While it is clear that this notion contradicts Yahshua’s words in Matthew chapter twenty-two there is one other obvious contradiction with this concept.

One law of genetics requires human genes and chromosomes to produce another human. Genes and chromosomes for human beings are only native to human beings, in other words, it is an impossibility for angels to pass on any other types of genes or chromosomes other than human even in the event that an angelic being possessed a human body.

Sons of Elohim

Verse two is the key verse used by those who advocate the doctrine of angels mating with the daughters of men. Verse two says “Sons of Elohim, very different from “angels of Elohim.” Most often the term “Sons of Elohim” is contributed to those people whom Yahweh has called.

The term “Sons of Elohim” only occurs four times throughout the Old Testament. Besides the account found in Genesis 6:2 this phrase can also be found in Job 1:6, 2:1, and Job 38:7. In addition, the singular form of Son, Heb. Bar, is found in Daniel 3:23, where Nebuchadnezzar sees four men in a flaming furnace, and one being like ‘a’ Son of Elohim. The one that was described as being like a son of Elohim was certainly an angelic being protecting the three young Hebrew men.

Similar to Daniel 3:23, we have another account in Job 38:7 with the phrase “sons of Elohim” referring to angelic beings. “When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of Elohim shouted for joy.” This verse is referring to the creation of the heavens and the earth before mankind existed; thus the sons of Elohim here could only be those angelic beings that assisted in the creation process.

What about the other two passages found in Job. These last two passages are almost identical so we will examine only Job 1:6. “Now there was a day when the sons of Elohim came to present themselves before Yahweh, and Satan came also among them.”

Are the “sons of Elohim” mentioned in Job 1:6 angelic or human? The answer to this is contested and uncertain, however, it does seem plausible that the ones coming before Yahweh certainly could be referring to mankind.

Yahweh has established appointed times when we are to appear before His great throne. The three main passages that speak of these days are Exodus 23, Leviticus 23, and Deuteronomy 16. In every listed passage above can we find an order from Almighty Yahweh regarding the observance of His appointed days. Naturally then we could determine that the “sons of Elohim” mentioned inJob 1:6 could have been Yahweh’s chosen people coming before His throne on His appointed time.

The dilemma faced when interpreting that the “son of Elohim” were angels in Job 1:6 is that then we must assume that the angels are not always in the presence of Yahweh. If this interpretation is true then the Messiah was wrong with his statement inMatthew 18:10, “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” So if the angels all unceasingly before Almighty Yahweh, then to “present themselves” before Him would serve little purpose.

In addition to what we find in the Old Testament we can also find many examples of the “sons of Elohim” in the New Testament. For example, in Luke 3:38 the first man, Adam, is called the “son of Elohim.” “Which was the son of Enoch, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of Elohim.”

John the evangelist in John 1:12 also testified that those who received Yahshua as the Messiah would later become the “sons of Elohim.” “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of Elohim, even to them that believe on his name.”

Paul also used this curious term in Romans 8:14, 16, 19, 21, Romans 9:18, Galatians 3:26, and Philippians 2:15 in reference to those people whom Yahweh had called and will call.

Moreover, we can find at least seven other passages by our Savior and his Apostles using the phrase “son or sons of Elohim” when referring to mankind. In almost every instance can we find the phrase “sons of Elohim” referring to mankind. We can find this term no fewer than fifteen times throughout the Old and New Testament, and only in three of those passages could it possibly be speaking of angels.

Daughters of Men

The only piece of the puzzle not yet discussed is the daughters of men. Who were the daughters of men, and why were they forbidden to the sons of Elohim? The sons of Elohim as proven cannot be angels, thus they must be human men whom Yahweh has chosen as his own possession.

An example of this is Jacob, which was later named Israel meaning, “who strives with Elohim.” When Yahweh corrected Jacob or his sons Yahweh called them by the name Jacob. However, when Yahweh looked upon Jacob or his sons with favor Yahweh called them by the name Israel. The term Elohim or El when used by Yahweh in reference to mankind shows His favor.

Notice that Yahweh used the word “men” when referring to the daughters that had relationships with the sons of Elohim. This indicates that these women were not followers of Almighty Yahweh, but instead were followers of men. They were not faithful to Yahweh, but instead apparently faithful to the customs of men (Jeremiah 10:2).

Marry in Yahshua

Yahweh in numerous passages warned his people not to make relationships with those people from heathen nations. “When Yahweh thy Elohim shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when Yahweh thy Elohim shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other elohim: so will the anger of Yahweh be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art an holy people unto Yahweh thy Elohim: Yahweh thy Elohim hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:1-6).

Deuteronomy chapter seven should make it obvious why Yahweh was displeased with the sons of Elohim for marrying the daughters of men. The sons of Elohim in Genesis chapter six can only represent the line of Seth, Yahweh’s chosen possession; while the daughters of men represent the line of Cain, the cursed line of Adam.

The Apostle Paul repeated that Yahweh’s people should only marry within the faith in 1 Corinthians 7:39. “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in Yahshua.”

The Apostle Paul once again verifies that Yahweh’s people are not to be unbalanced with unbelievers in 2 Corinthians 6:14. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness?”

The notion that angels created superhuman giants plainly cannot be proven within the pages of Yahweh’s inspired word. However, we can see a consistent warning by Yahweh, His prophets, and his Apostles not to marry and become “unequally yoked” with unbelievers. Generally, bad company perverts good company, thus creating disunity between Yahweh and his chosen people.

In Like Manner

As pointed out at the beginning of this article, proponents who support the notion that angels procreated with mortal women will often use Jude 1:6-7 to substantiate their argument.

“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

This passage does not necessarily prove that angels had relationships with mortal women. If a close examination is taken with this passage the first sin that is mentioned is not that angels had relationships with mortal women, but that they left their first estate. This is referring to Satan and those angels that rebelled against Yahweh’s authority before mankind existed.

“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born” (Revelation 12:3-4).

The fact is that there is no mention of angels procreating with mortal women in Yahweh’s inspired word. The only specific sin mentioned in the Bible is the rebellion of Satan and his angels against Yahweh’s authority (Isaiah 14:12-16).

Also notice the phrase in verse seven is “in like manner.” It never says that the angels committed precisely the same sin as Sodom and Gomorrah, but committed a sin in comparable or similar manner. What sin could be comparable with the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah?

The word “fornication” in verse seven is derived from the Greek word No. 1606, which is a root of No. 4203, porneuo, meaning “harlotry (including adultery and incest); fig. idolatry.” This word “fornication” in the broad sense can also mean idolatry, which is precisely the sin committed by Satan and his followers. In other words, when Satan decided that he should be above Yahweh in authority and stature he committed idolatry.

In this manner Satan’s sin was similar to that of Sodom and Gomorrah. As Sodom and Gomorrah forsook Yahweh for their pagan g-ds and their heathen practices, Satan in like manner forsook Yahweh to pursue his own will and his own desires.

Tartarus

Those that support the notion that angels had relationships with mortal women also believe that fallen angels are in Tartarus today awaiting final judgment. This belief is derived from 2 Peter 2:4. “For if Elohim spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment”

The problem with this passage is that it seemingly is speaking of past events, but with careful study of the Greek we can see that this particular passage has no tense. Therefore this passage could be easily read “For if Elohim spares not the angels that sin, but will cast them down to Tartarus, and deliver them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment.”

The words “spared,” “sinned,” “cast,” and “delivered” found in 2 Peter 2:4 are all in the Greek aorist, which is defined by the Online Bible Greek Lexicon, “The aorist tense is characterized by its emphasis on punctiliar action; that is, the concept of the verb is considered without regard for past, present, or future time. There is no direct or clear English equivalent for this tense, though it is generally rendered as a simple past tense in most translations.”

This Greek term essentially has no tense, therefore leaving it open to interpretation. Most translators interpret this passage in the past tense, but there is nothing in the Greek indicating that this a past tense event. If this event has already occurred why then do we read about dark angels in the New Testament? If these were fallen angels or demons that had unlawful relationships, why then can we find evidence of their freedom after the flood?

It seems that a proper and consistent interpretation would be that this event in 2 Peter 2:4 has not yet taken place, but will occur when Satan is locked at the bottom of the abyss for the thousand-year period after the Great Tribulation. Any other interpretation does not fit with Yahweh’s word. Besides the common interpretation of 2 Peter 2:4, there is no other evidence that angels have been already imprisoned, but there is much evidence to say that they will be in the future (Revelation 20).

Conclusion

There are various reasons why the “sons of Elohim” could not possibly be angels. Below are ten undeniable facts proving this truth.

  1. Angels are spirit beings that are without physical bodies.
  2. Yahshua stated that angels could not marry (Matthew 22:30), thus indicating that they do not have the ability to procreate other life.
  3. Other than Yahshua the Messiah, no angel is given the name “Yah,” the prime root of creation.
  4. Even if an angel took over a man’s mind, one law of genetics necessitates that only human chromosome and genes produce another human life.
  5. In Genesis 6:3 Yahweh said that his spirit “shall not always strive with man, ” not angels.
  6. In Verses 3, 5, 6 Yahweh said that man sinned, not angels.
  7. In Verse 7 Yahweh said that he was going to destroy man, not angels.
  8. Nowhere are the fallen angels called the sons of Elohim.
  9. Yahweh offers a consistent, stern warning to his people not to marry outside the faith.
  10. Jude 1:6-7 does not mean that the angels committed the literal sin that Sodom and Gomorrah committed, but simply that in like manner they rejected Yahweh’s authority.

It should be easy to understand why Yahweh was displeased with the “sons of Elohim” in Genesis chapter six. As the line of Seth grew they started to intermingle and intermarry with the line of Cain, which disregarded Yahweh’s truth. The line of Seth, instead of following pure worship, adopted the doctrines of man, which end in death

This type of behavior is prophesied to occur before the coming of Yahshua the Messiah. Yahweh’s word prophesies of a great falling away. Before Yahshua’s Second Coming there will be a time when even the elect, Yahweh’s chosen possession, will be drawn away from Yahweh’s word. This will be a time when deception and guile will run rampant throughout this earth.

Yahshua in His Olivet Prophecy said that the last days would be comparable to the days of Noah. He said that they would be eating, drinking, and marring just as in the days of Noah. However, just as the generation of Noah was cut short because of their wickedness, our generation awaits the same fate. We each as individuals and as a collective body should strive to live a life worthy of Yahweh’s calling and study so we will be able to discern truth from error.

As John the Evangelist said in John 1:12, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of Elohim, even to them that believe on his name.” Let’s all strive to overcome so that we may become the children of Yahweh.

Biblical Oxymorons

What many see as textual conflicts are in fact basic to the Biblical message.

The world of contradiction, or at least what seems to be out of the ordinary, is fascinating to us humans. If you have ever been to an amusement park fun house and seen water defy gravity by running uphill, or watched a science demonstration where “lightning” shoots out of a man’s hands and he is unhurt, you know the intrigue. It often takes some explanation to understand what at first seems impossible. News reports of burning rivers stretch the limits of credulity, until we learn that its the pollution floating on the water that is actually burning.

Incongruities are common in our social customs as well. Seeing men of the Scottish highlands wearing skirts called kilts looks odd every time. So does the bearded lady in carnival sideshows.

Not even our language is free of contradictory concepts. Consider the following couplets from everyday speech: how do you “act naturally”?; or how can you be “almost exact”?; what about “new classic”; “definite maybe”; “pretty ugly”; “exact estimate”; “one-man crew”; or  the phrase “include me out”? These word combinations may not at first seem to oppose each other until one stops to consider what is actually being said. A figure of speech where opposites are combined is called oxymoron. Literally oxymoron means “pointedly foolish”(from the Greek oxus meaning “sharp” and moras meaning “foolish”).

 Skimming the Surface

Like self-contradictory expressions, the danger with erroneous teachings and beliefs is that habitual exposure to them has a way of numbing us to the literal truth. Take the expression, “conspicuous by its absence.” This tired cliche is totally irrationa1. How can something be obvious yet absent? Conflicting ideas are seemingly everywhere.

Yahweh’s Word presents problems to many who have only a surface understanding of it. Because of false preconceptions solidified over centuries, right and proper Biblical understanding commonly taught in the first century is seen today as incongruous. Sadly, centuries-old error derails many before they even have a chance to get on the pathway of right teaching.

This writer once asked a clerk at a religious bookstore for a book entitled, The Jewish New Testament. Her incredulous expression betrayed her thoughts: how could the New Testament possibly be “Jewish”? Why, everyone knows Jews don’t belong in the New Testament!

She apparently forgot that the first converts in the New Testament were all Jews. Yahshua commanded His disciples inMatthew 10:5: “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter you not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

The house of Israel included the Jews.

The Savior Was No Greek or Even Roman

A tradition said that Yahshua told the disciples to wait 12 years before going to the Gentiles. He Himself came first to Israel. Paul explains in Romans 11:25-30 that because of spiritual blindness within Israel, Gentiles were allowed into the Covenant. Still, Israel has not been excluded, either.

Why did not Yahshua come as a Greek or a Roman? Or at least why didn’t He take His ministry to Greece or Rome? After all, nominal worship today is as much Greco-Roman as it is Hebraic.

If the New Testament era is only for Gentile salvation, then why did the Son of Yahweh come in the lineage of the Hebrews? The answer is that Yahshua came to the Israelites because the promises were given to them first. John 1:11 tells us He came unto his own, and his own  received  him  not. As a Jew He came to His people with His message of Truth and they rejected Him.

Let’s say you make an agreement with person A (a good friend) to buy your car, but over time he is clearly dragging his feet. Along comes person B who is very interested in buying your car. What do you do? You go back to person A and tell him to “get with it” because you have person B who is also interested.

Yahshua went to the lost sheep of the house of Israel first. They didn’t have the heart to obey. Because they did not follow through with their commitment to keep the Covenant, He said that to their shame that salvation would now be open to all people who could partake inIsrael’s promises. But unless the Savior came as one of them they would never have believed Him. Therefore, He came as a Jew because the promises were given to them as part of Israel. Others could join in after Israel dropped the ball.

Mistaken Oxymorons

For Yahweh’s people to keep Old Testament Feasts in the New Testament is for many a huge contradiction — an oxymoron. “Those days are Jewish and are not for us,” they say. What they stumble over is that the Savior, Himself a Jew (Heb. 7: 14), kept the seventh-day Sabbath and Feasts of Leviticus 23.

Are we not told to follow His example? Is not Yahshua the Messiah our pattern in all righteousness? Read what He said: “If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:10).

Misunderstood by many, the Sabbath and Feast days were given to all 12 tribes of Israel, not just to the tribe of Judah. Today’s True Worshipers are either physical or spiritual Israelites. They are not in a new religion completely separate from Old Testament Israel. They are grafted into the same promise made with Israel at Sinai. This fact is no oxymoron, but one of the central truths of the Scriptures.

Paul asks today’s worshiper, “Who are Israelites?” And then he answers his own question: “To whom pertains the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of Elohim, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Messiah came, who is over all, Elohim blessed for ever. Not as though the word of Elohim has taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall your seed be called. That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of Elohim: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom. 9:4-8).

Here in this passage we find the following key facts:

 • Israelites through the Covenants are given the promise of everlasting life.

 • Others can be a part of Israel and receive the same promises by adoption and by following the same precepts Israel was commanded to keep.

 • Those who are spiritually of Yahweh are counted as part of Israel.

Paul compares to branches those of Israel who were rejected, adding, “And if some of the branches be broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree. Boast not against the branches.But if you boast, you bear not the root, but the root you” (Rom. 11:17-18).

Clearly, what Israel was commanded and observing is for today’s Believer, too. Today’s True Worshiper is grafted into the same promise of Yahweh’s Kingdom given to Israel.

Yahweh promised never to abandon His chosen people. Not even in this New Testament era. Notice the prophecy In Ezekiel of bringing Israel back:

“Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be My People, and I will be their Elohim,” 37:20-23.

Is this a contradiction? Only for those who believe that the New Testament is exclusively for Christianity.

Graceful Obedience

The Bible’s teaching that obedience in an age of grace is necessary for all True Worshipers is yet another oxymoron for many who don’t understand Biblical grace.

In the following passage Paul defines how grace operates: “For the grace of Elohim that brings salvation has appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying unrighteousness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and devoutly, in this present world” (Titus 2:11-12). Also in Romans 5:21 Paul says that grace reigns through righteousness. Righteousness here is holiness, meaning to be set apart from sin or lawlessness, l John 3:4.

Grace, then, teaches us to conform to a righteous standard — that is — Yahweh’s laws. This fundamental truth is explained by the very one who many believe was the champion of “lawless-ness,” Paul himself!

Notice what else Paul writes about grace, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Yahweh forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (Rom. 6:1-2). Known as Antinomianism (“against law”) the teaching said that the more one sins the more grace one gets. Therefore let us continue in sin and we will get even more grace.  Paul addresses this twisted concept in his letter to the Romans.

In truth, by living in His grace we are dead to sin. This means we do not transgress the Bible’s laws when under grace. A teaching in Paul’s day perverted the concept even as today. If truth seekers would be willing to take a close look at what first seems to be contradictory,they would soon find that the real problem lies in false preconceptions.

 Layers of Crusty Fallacy

Misinformation and outright error is often difficult to overcome. Unlearning false teaching is much more difficult than learning what’s right to begin with.

When it comes to the Bible, erroneous beliefs become firmly embedded through reinforced teaching and practice. To get to the truth, one has to chip through layers of crusty fallacy built up over the centuries.

It has been said that a cult gains increasing respectability the longer it survives. The same goes for error. Bad habits die hard, especially when firmly entrenched for centuries.

by Alan Mansager

Speaking in tongues

Tongues of Fire

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Since the beginning of the New Testament, the gift of tongues has been an intriguing topic for Bible scholars and students alike. Many questions surround this gift, including: What does it mean to speak in tongues? Do the modern examples of “tongues” correspond to what we find in Scripture? How is this gift used? Do we see signs of this gift today?

To answer these questions we will review (1) the modern history of tongues, (2) the Biblical definition of tongues, (3) the gift of tongues, (4) the benefits of tongues, and (5) how this gift was used in the New Testament.

 Modern Tongues Movement

According to most Pentecostal references, the modern Pentecostal Movement can be traced back to a Charles Fox Parham. Parham was born on June 4, 1873 in Iowa. Through personal tragedy Parham at the age of seven made a commitment to follow his Heavenly Father.

In 1898 Parham opened his divine healing home in Topeka, Kan., which he named “Bethel.” It was Parham’s goal to provide for those seeking healing and spiritual enlightenment. Later, he was encouraged to open a Bible School. Parham believed that missionaries to other lands should be able to preach in the native tongue or language. To receive additional insight on this subject, he gave a special assignment to his students to determine the Biblical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

According to Pentecostal reports, although the students found that different gifts were given at the outpouring of the Spirit, the gift of speaking in tongues occurred in each. In a prayer service that followed, the first alleged occurrence of “tongues” was reported.

One of Parham’s students, Agnes Ozman, asked that hands be laid upon her to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit. At first Parham refused, as he never experienced the gift of tongues himself. Nevertheless, she persisted and Parham agreed. As hands were laid upon Ozman, it is reported that she spoke and wrote in the Chinese language. This one episode is regarded by many as the beginning of the modern Pentecostal-Holiness movement.

It is most fascinating that the first alleged modern example of tongues was from a woman who spoke in Chinese, a known language! This is precisely what we find in Scripture. Most examples of tongues that we hear today are utterances of gibberish. This is not what Parham taught nor is it what we find in the first occurrence. Parham believed that it was important to be able to evangelize in the native language and for him, tongues meant speaking in a native language. With this background let us now consider what we find within the Word about speaking in tongues.

First Account in the New Testament

We find the first recorded instance of this gift in the second chapter of Acts: “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).

There are several points to explore within this account. First, the occasion was the day of Pentecost, also known as the Feast of Weeks. Significantly, the outpouring of Yahweh’s Spirit happened on a Feast day. According to Jewish tradition, it was also on this same Feast day that Yahweh’s Law was given to Israel in the Old Testament, as Scripture also indicates in Exodus 19:1. If true, Yahweh’s law and Holy Spirit were both given on a day that Yahweh marked as holy or sacred.

Second, we find that this gift was through the Holy Spirit and that it was manifested as a rushing wind and fire. So we find that when this gift was given that there were physical signs that were seen and heard by those present.

Third, we find that this gift allowed those in attendance to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. This third point is most important. What does it mean to speak in other tongues?

The word “tongues” comes from the Greek glossa, meaning “a language” (specially, one naturally unacquired) (Strong’s Concordance Greek Dictionary). Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this word as, “The language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations.”

A third witness states: “(1) the “tongues… like as of fire” which appeared at Pentecost; (2) “the tongue,” as an organ of speech, e. g.,Mark 7:33; Rom 3:13; 14:11; 1 Cor 14:9; Phil 2:11; James 1:26; 3:5, 6, 8; 1Peter 3:10; 1John 3:18; Rev 16:10; (3) (a) “a language,” coupled with phule, “a tribe,” laos, “a people,” ethnos, “a nation,” seven times in the Apocalypse, 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15; (b) “the supernatural gift of speaking in another language without its having been learnt” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words).

Based on these references, speaking in other tongues refers to speaking in known languages not naturally acquired and different from one’s own. It should also be noted that the word “other” in verse 4 comes from the Greek heteros, which literally means, “another of a different kind” (Companion Bible). So from this instance we find that when the people spoke in different languages, they were all known languages; a point that is paramount. This again is very different from what is considered speaking in tongues or glossa today.

As we read on, we continue to see evidence of glossa referring to known languages. “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of Elohim. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?” (Acts 2:5-12).

In this passage we find that all those gathered heard others speaking in their native tongue or language. There were visitors from 15 nations. After they heard one another speak in different languages, followed by Peter’s dynamic sermon (Acts 2:14-36), about 3,000 were pricked in their hearts and gave their lives over to the Messiah through repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38, 41).

If not for the outpouring of the Spirit and the gift of tongues, this great awaking may have never happened. This gift was for a purpose and that purpose was to increase the growth and strength of the assembly.

So from this passage we find what it means to speak in tongues or glossa—speaking in other languages acquired through Yahweh’s Spirit and different from your own. As seen, this gift is not gibberish but known languages used in the New Testament to convert nonbelievers.

A Variety of Gifts Given

We find within the Word that speaking in tongues is one gift of many. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. You know that you were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as you were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of Elohim calleth Yahshua accursed: and that no man can say that Yahshua is the Master, but by the Holy Spirit. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Master. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same Elohim which works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues” (1Cor. 12:1-10).

In this account, Paul lists the gifts of Yahweh’s Spirit. It is crucial to note that not everyone receives the same gift. Paul says that there are diversities or differences in gifts. We also find that all gifts are from the same Spirit. No matter what gifts we receive, they are all from the same source, Yahweh’s Holy Spirit. Paul also says that there are differences of ministries or administrations. In other words, different gifts serve different purposes or functions.

Paul in verse 7 says that all these gifts are to be used for the profit of all and not just for the profit of one, as is often seen. Notice how some of the gifts are allocated. For example, instead of receiving both the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, a person may receive only the gift of wisdom. Proverbs speaks of wisdom and knowledge separately. We find here the same concept with the gift of tongues. Paul says that there is a gift of tongues and a gift of interpreting tongues. In other words, we find that some may have the ability to speak in other languages, while others may have the ability to interpret what is said.

As we find in this passage, Yahweh’s gifts build and benefit one another. This is precisely how the assembly functions. It is not a single person who makes a ministry successful, but the gifts of the collective body working together in harmony.

The Underlying Purpose

From Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians we find that the gift of tongues was used as a tool to evangelize the good news of the Messiah to the unbelieving or unconverted.

“Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy. 2 For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto Elohim: for no man understands him; howbeit in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he that prophesies speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4 He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the assembly. 5 I would that you all spake with tongues, but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret, that the assembly may receive edifying” (1Cor. 14:1-5).

In verse 2, Paul explains that when we speak in unknown tongues that we do not speak to man, but in mysteries. What exactly does he mean? As we learned, the word “tongues” comes from the Greek word glossa meaning languages.

This passage confirms that when we speak in a tongue or language that is unknown the words cannot be understood and are therefore considered a mystery. An example would be if we traveled to Kenya and heard a man preaching in Swahili. For the average American his language would be a mystery or unknown. This is why Paul says he who speaks in tongues edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the assembly.

Now what does it mean to prophesy? The word “prophesies” comes from the Greek propheteuo, meaning “…to foretell events, speak under inspiration, or to exercise the prophetic office” (Strong’s Concordance). In this passage Paul was likely referring to teaching under the inspiration of Yahweh’s Holy Spirit. Prophecy or teaching is what is most valuable to the assembly. This is the reason Paul said that he would rather prophesy than to speak in tongues. A tongue or language serves no value if those who hear are unfamiliar with that glossa or language, unless one can interpret (v.5).

A Great Way to Teach

To understand the purpose of this gift, let us continue reading: “Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? 7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9 So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for you shall speak into the air. 10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. 11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaks a barbarian, and he that speaks shall be a barbarian unto me. 12 Even so you, forasmuch as you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the edifying of the church. 13 Wherefore let him that speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also” (1Cor. 14:6-15).

In verse 6 we find again that speaking in a tongue is of no profit unless we speak to convey a teaching or doctrine. The word doctrine is derived from the Greek word didache, meaning “instruction.” This is again one of those gifts that most benefits the assembly. When we teach Yahweh’s Word we come to a deeper knowledge of Him and through that instruction we become better disciples. Speaking in a language that is unknown, or worse yet, uttering sounds without meaning or purpose, does not edify.

Paul here uses the analogy of musical instruments and states that unless the instrument makes an identifiable sound it serves no value. In the Old Testament the trumpet was often the main method of communication for Israel, including the calling to war (Num. 10:9). If the sound of the trumpet were incorrect, confusion would have erupted. This same concept holds true when we speak in tongues or languages that are unknown to our audience.

Paul in verse 10 said that there were many kinds of languages and that none were without significance. The word “significance,” is from the Greek word aphonos, meaning to be “voiceless, i.e. mute or without meaning.” This Greek word confirms that Paul was not referring to meaningless babble, but to recognized languages. Even the angels themselves possess a tongue or known language (1Cor. 13:1), likely the Hebrew language (Acts 26:14).

Paul goes on here to say that if the tongue or language is unknown, “he that speaks shall be a barbarian….” In Greek the word “barbarian” literally means, “a foreigner.” Therefore, those who speak in different or unknown languages are as a foreigner or alien. Unless the language is understood it is of no benefit. It is for this reason that Paul states in verse 16, “Else when you shall bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupies the room of the unlearned say Amen at your giving of thanks, seeing he understands not what you say?” In this passage Paul reiterates that if we speak in a tongue or language given by the Holy Spirit that is unknown to the audience that it is unfruitful to our natural mind.

In verse 22 we find a truth that many overlook. “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serves not for them that believe not, but for them which believe” (1Cor. 14:22).

A Different Gift for Believers

Paul verifies that the gift of tongues is not a sign to believers, but to those who disbelieve. With this in mind it seems odd that many assemblies would base their main source of validation on a sign specifically meant for unbelievers.

However, this is precisely what we find with many charismatic assemblies today. Some believe that a person is never completely converted unless he or she speaks in tongues. This is not only unfounded scripturally, but contradicts the purpose of this gift.

If the gift of tongues is for the unbeliever, what then is for the believer? Prophecy or inspired teaching is for the believer. It provides the knowledge and instruction allowing us to become better disciples of our Father in heaven and Savior.

In verse 23 Paul asks, “If therefore the whole assembly be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that you are mad?”

The word “mad” comes from the Greek word mainomai, meaning “one who so speaks that he seems not to be in his right mind” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). This would be no different from visiting an assembly with members speaking Spanish, German, and Chinese simultaneously. They would be viewed as mad or senseless. This is why prophecy or inspired teaching is preferred or greater than tongues. As Paul states in verse 24, “But if all prophesy [teach by inspiration], and there come in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all….” He confirms here that if we prophesy or teach, all are profited, even the new visitor, that might be new.

Examples of Tongues

Let’s now consider some of the instances of tongues we find in the Word. One of the first passages where we find this gift being used is Acts 10:44-48, “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify Elohim. Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Master [Yahshua]. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.” When the gentiles heard the Word they received the Holy Spirit. Immediately they spoke in tongues or languages and magnified Yahweh. When it was evident that the gentiles had received the Spirit, they were then baptized into the Name of Yahshua the Messiah. Interestingly, in this example we find that the gentiles received the Spirit prior to baptism. Receiving the Spirit prior to baptism was not uncommon. In almost all other instances, the reverse occurred.

The gift of tongues here served a two-fold purpose. It was a sign of conversion to those who were filled with the Spirit and a confirmation to those circumcised Jews that witnessed this miraculous event. The gift of tongues was a sign to show that Yahweh was calling out the gentiles who prior to it were considered unbelievers or barbarians.

A second example of this gift is in Acts 19:1-8, “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Spirit. And he said unto them, Unto what then were you baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Messiah Yahshua. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Master Yahshua. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve. And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of Yahweh.”

This account speaks of two baptisms, a baptism of repentance and a baptism of the Holy Spirit. This is the only instance of this difference. While John’s baptism offered opportunity for repentance, it did not offer the remission from sins and receiving of the Holy Spirit, as with Yahshua’s baptism.

In addition, a connection is also found between the receiving of the Holy Spirit and the gift of tongues. Immediately upon baptism and the receiving of the Holy Spirit, we find that these twelve new converts spoke in tongues or languages as a sign or validation of their conversion. As with all of Yahweh’s gifts, glossa served an important purpose. It was partly owing to this gift that 3,000 were converted at Pentecost and many other examples found in Acts.

As we have seen, Scripture does not corroborate the common understanding of tongues. This gift was not meaningless babble, but an effective tool that served a multifaceted purpose. It is a demonstration of Yahweh’s great power and confirmation of one’s conversion.

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The new Testament for Christians or Jews

Is the New Testament Really Christian?

Most Bible professing people think that the teachings of New Testament Christianity replace virtually everything prescribed in the Old Testament. In this article’s second half we examine more evidence that what we typically see in teaching and practice today hardly resembles what we find in the New Testament Scriptures.

Someone asked, if Christianity is the true faith, what about all the millions who lived prior to its inception? Are they lost? The question speaks directly to an important issue: was the New Testament faith a brand-new religion started 2,000 years ago, or was it a continuation of what Yahweh began in Genesis, with some key modifications? Should not the authentic faith taught and practiced by Yahshua and the apostles in the New Testament be evident among today’s believers?

We invite you to look beneath the veneer of today’s worship and compare it, teaching-by-teaching and act-for-act with the New Testament. We believe you will be shocked by what you discover, even in the most basic of doctrines.

First, we look at the name itself. Is “Christian” a legitimate label for believers in the New Testament? Fifteen years following the impalement of Yahshua, New Testament believers were identified by three terms, only one of which was employed by the early believers for themselves. These designations were:

• “Nazarenes,” a name used by Jews for the converted believers, Acts 24:5.

• “Christian,” a label concocted by Greek Gentiles for the early Assembly: “And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch,”Acts 11:26. Believers in Yahshua did not routinely call themselves Christians until the third century and by then it was a totally different group from the group in Acts.

• Followers of “the Way,” a term the believers sometimes used for themselves. “And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of Elohim. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the multitude, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus” (Acts 19.8-9).

“And about that time there arose no small disturbance concerning the Way (Acts 19:23). But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the Way, put them off…” (Acts 24:22).

Those who followed “the Way” are the earliest group of True Believers of which we have record in the Scriptures.

“Church” derives from the Greek goddess Circe, which then morphed into the Dutch Kirk and German Kirche. We avoid using it in reference to the true Body of Messiah because of its heathen origin.

From its earliest usage the word “church” has been understood in pagan environments, then later in Roman Catholicism and now in this present day as a building, but never has the word “church” in Scripture represented the Greek word ekklesia. Church was a pagan concept and not a Christian one.

Kuriakon, kirche, and church all meant simply a religious building, originally used that way by pagans and later by Christians following pagan customs. Christians originally didn’t use buildings, which distinguished them from the pagans whose focus was on buildings, statues, rank ritual and physical objects (Fausset’s Bible Dictionary).

Significantly, Yahshua did not create or authorize any specific designation for His followers. He refers to them as disciples and believers, followers and friends. But He never employed any official name for the body of Messiah.


Sources Verify ‘Nazarenes’

Prophecy said that Yahshua of Nazareth would be called a Nazarene. “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene,”Matthew 2:23. From that association Yahshua’s followers would unofficially take on the identity of “Nazarenes.”

If there is a historical group with whom believers today can identify as being closest to the original teachings, it would be these Nazarenes who followed the Way. From the evidence, the Nazarenes were true to the teachings of Yahshua and the apostolic Assembly, making them likely the true Assembly of His day. (There is no connection between those ancient Nazarenes and today’s Church of the Nazarene.)

According to the early “church father” Epiphanius (7,2), Nazarenes used both the Old and New testaments. He writes, “For they use not only the New Testament but also the Old, like the Jews. For the Legislation and the Prophets and the Scriptures, which are called the Bible by the Jews, are not rejected by them as they are by those mentioned above” (Manicheans, Marcionites, Gnostics).

He also writes that they know Hebrew and read the Old Testament and at least one Evangel in that language (7,4; 9,4): “They have a good mastery of the Hebrew language. For the entire Law and the Prophets and what is called the Scriptures, I mention the poetical books, Kings, Chronicles and Esther and all the others, are read by them in Hebrew as in the case with the Jews, of course. They have the entire Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew. It is carefully preserved by them in Hebrew letters.”

Latin Vulgate translator Jerome is another authenticator, especially because he quotes from Nazarene-written works. The third century scholar wrote, “The most important conclusion of this chapter is that the Nazarenes were not mentioned by earlier fathers not because they did not exist but rather because they were still generally considered to be acceptably orthodox.”

Here in a nutshell are the significant beliefs of the Nazarenes or earliest followers of Yahshua:

• They believed the Old Testament as well as the New.

• They believed in and accepted the Messiah, His resurrection, angels, spirits, haSatan, and the supernatural.

• They attended the synagogue, and kept the Feasts of Leviticus 23.

• They obeyed the laws of Moses (Acts 6:14, 21:21).

Circumcision and the Believers

In about the year 50 CE a crisis developed that Paul had to deal with by consulting the other elders at Jerusalem. It was instigated by those who thought new converts had to convert to Judaism and adopt Jewish customs before they could enter the New Covenant body.

The significant question we must ask is, why was this even an issue and why did Paul and the other leaders of the New Testament assembly have such a difficult time dealing with it? Clearly it arose because of the Jewish roots of the New Testament assembly. Early New Testament believers were Jews converted to messiahship and Yahshua’s message. Paul’s ministry changed the dynamics when he began to convert those of non-Jewish ancestry – known collectively as Gentiles.

These Gentile converts had a dilemma. They were joining a “Jewish” sect, and to be Jewish involved circumcision – an unappealing rite of initiation for any adult male. Their impasse posed a crucial doctrinal complication: if the New Testament faith is for everyone, how does one become part of it? Was physical circumcision still required? The Apostles Paul and Barnabas and others did not have complete understanding of how to proceed on this issue, having never encountered it before.

We read about the deadlock in Acts 15:1-2; 6-9: “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren [and said], Except you be circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.”

(Keep in mind, the issue was over the specific rite of physical circumcision and not whether to obey the law generally. Abolishing the law was never an option with Yahshua or Paul or any other apostle.)

“And the apostles and elders came together for to consider this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men [and] brethren, you know how that a good while ago Elohim made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the evangel, and believe. And Elohim, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”

Going from classic Judaism to the New Testament faith of Yahshua did not involve the complete transformation that many think. According to Eusebius’ History the first 15 bishops of Jerusalem were “of the circumcision.” The big issues in the New Testament were accepting Yahshua as the Messiah as well as His sacrifice, eliminating man-made laws and traditions, and understanding the higher, spiritual intent and purpose of Yahweh’s laws.

These changes were significant, but were not anything close to a complete overhaul or replacement of the Old Testament faith—a bogus notion taught by many today. Yahshua did not come to start a whole new religion, but to make some necessary changes to what was already there in order to deal effectively with man’s sin.

Off on the Wrong Foot

The toxic upheaval that derailed most of the early movement arose from the doctrinal chaos that became Christianity. Christianity has always been a highly eclectic belief system. A potpourri of teachings and practices not found anywhere in Yahweh’s Word. How could such a thing have happened?

One historian observed, “The church of our [Savior] was established in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of [Messiah].

In it practices that are common in the religious world today were not found. Before the death of the apostles they gave such admonitions and exhortations as were necessary to keep the church pure…The failure of those who professed to be the people of [Yahweh], to accept the scriptures as the only safe guide, allowed pagan ceremonies and Jewish practices to be brought into the worship of the church” (History of the Church Through the Ages, Robert H. Brumback, p. 19).

For example, in the second and third centuries there were Christians who worshiped a single mighty one. But others insisted that there were two. Some said there were thirty. Others claimed there were 365. Note what one writer observed, “As long as the gospel remained on the Jewish ground, there were mainly Jewish assemblies and, therefore, no discussions about the [Majesty] were known. At this stage, Roman and Greek thoughts and pagan thinking over gods and goddesses were brought into the discussions” (Traditional Christianity, Truth or Deception?, Ewald Frank, p. 27).

Also in the second century began a movement away from “Jewish Christians.”

“The Christians were declared to be [Yahweh’s] Israel and the Jews to be renegades who had fallen away. The Apostle Paul looked upon this matter in a totally different way, ‘For in Messiah Yahshua neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them and mercy, and upon Israel of Elohim.’ The Apostle Peter also made an important statement in this regard ‘…of a truth I perceive that Elohim is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with Him’ Acts 10:34-35.” Ibid, p. 30.

Amalgamation with pagan beliefs, which became another hallmark of Christianity, led to doctrinal heresies and profane practices. “In regard to doctrine, Christendom was slowly taken step by step from the Jewish foundation and placed upon heathen thinking,” (Brumback) . He notes, “In the beginning the church was pure. The divine plan of the church as revealed in the New Testament, was followed. Now the apostasy of which the apostles warned, began to develop,” History, p. 31.

Early on, disagreement reigned over such basics as which day to worship on. Most adhered to the seventh day of the week or Saturday, as was established by Yahweh’s Fourth Commandment and observed for thousands of years. Those who sought to distance themselves from the Hebraic roots of the early movement argued for Sunday, the first day of the week. The wrangling went on for centuries until Roman Emperor Constantine forced Sunday rest upon the realm by imperial edict: “In the year 321 A.D., Constantine decreed, ‘On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed’” (Codex Justinianus lib. 3, tit. 12, 3; trans. in Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, p. 380, note 1).

Heathen converts did not just bequeath their Sun-day worship, either. “Many of our religious ideas, festivals and ceremonies, as witness Easter and Christmas, may be traced back to an origin in the practice and belief of our heathen ancestors,” Medieval and Modern History, Philip Van Ness Myers, p. 42. (Request or read online our booklets, December 25 – Birthday of the Sun and alsoEaster – the Fertility of It All.)

Constantine, arguably a convert to the new movement, took advantage of the doctrinal chaos to mold Christianity to his own liking. “He availed himself of the apostate Christendom and at the same time he did not break totally with heathenism. He supported the building of heathen temples and also the erection of Christian churches,” Frank, p. 27.

Paul: A Law-keeping Apostle

One characteristic common in the earliest Assemblies of the New Testament was explicit fidelity to the Law and the Prophets, which had pointed prophetically to Yahshua’s coming. Yahshua understood Himself in an Old Testament context. In Luke 24:44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” His followers were to be true to the fundamentals found in the Old Testament, the ONLY Scriptures in existence in His day.

Churchianity today says that it follows Paul’s lead, contending that Paul taught against the law. Is this true? Surprisingly to many, we find Paul affirming in Acts that he was also a believer and follower of the Old Testament and its laws. “But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the Elohim of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law, and that is written in the Prophets,” Acts 24:14.

In Acts 21 Paul comes to Jerusalem and sits down with the other elders, including James, and gives a report of his ministry. He is then told that some people believed he taught against the law. Here is their accusation:

“And they are informed of you, that you teach all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise [their] children, neither to walk after the customs. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to you: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify yourself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave [their] heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning you, are nothing; but [that] you yourself also walk orderly, and keep the law” Acts 21:21-24.

And so Paul proceeded to demonstrate that he was a law-keeper, not a law-abolisher.

Roots of the true Assembly are planted firmly in the beliefs and practices of the early New Testament believers who held true to fundamental teachings of Yahshua and the apostles. By harmonizing the entire Scriptures the believer can be assured of keeping faith of Yahshua and His disciples just as those who adhered to the Way did from the start.

We note the changes that Yahshua’s coming mandated in the New Testament and we adjust our beliefs and practices accordingly. Man’s traditions must never set the standard for our worship today.

The pre-tribulation rapture

A Big Problem with the Rapture

When Yahshua returns the final trumpet will sound and He will gather His elect. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other,”Matthew 24:30-33. Was Yahshua speaking of a rapture of the elect from the earth? Note that first the “tribes” of the earth will mourn at the sight of His coming. Why?

He said earth’s final events will be just like those in Noah’s day. “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be,” Matthew 24:37-39. Were righteous Noah and his family raptured from the planet to be saved from the devastating floodwaters? No. Yahweh had guided Noah to prepare a place of earthly protection — a giant ark of safety floating on destructive flood waters.

Note what happened to the wicked. We read that Yahweh “took them all away.” They were taken and destroyed in the waters and only Noah and his family remained.

Yahshua said it will be the same way at the end of the age: “Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” In the same manner at Yahshua’s coming the wicked will be removed first and the righteous will remain.

Another account is Matthew 13:24-30 where Yahshua said, “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, did not you sow good seed in your field? from whence then has it tares? He said unto them, An enemy has done this. The servants said unto him, Will you then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while you gather up the tares, you root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn” (Matt. 13:24-30). The wicked will be taken first and burned.

A parallel account of the Second Coming is in Luke 17:35-37, where Yahshua said, “Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered, Where, Master? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.”

What did He mean by “body” and “eagles”? This verse is a mistranslation in the KJV which, when cleared up, makes understanding crystal clear. Let’s go back to Matthew 24 for clarification of the same account in Luke 17:35-37. In verses 27-28 of Matthew 24 we find: “For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”

were the translators used the more correct “carcase” in translating the word ptoma, which in Greek means “ruin, lifeless body, corpse.” The word for “eagles” refers more accurately to vultures. Eagles are not carrion eaters as are vultures.

Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament says about the word eagles in this passage, “Eagles. Rev. puts vultures in margin. The griffon vulture is meant, which surpasses the eagle in size and power.” Millions will die when the angel comes to separate and destroy the wicked first.

The New English Bible translates Matthew 24:28: “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” Goodspeed reads, “Wherever there is a dead body, the vultures will flock.” The New International Version reads, “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather.”

Does this sound like a glorious place of safety to which the saints will be taken in a rapture? On the contrary, Yahshua told His disciples that those taken first, meaning the wicked, will be taken and destroyed just as they were in the flood. The righteous Noah and family remained.

With the wicked gone and the chosen remaining, the earth can be remade into the paradise it was meant to be in Yahshua’s millennial kingdom.

Just as Noah was protected on earth during the catastrophic flood, and Israel was protected in Egypt during the passing over of the death angel, Yahweh promises the same kind of earthly protection for His people during the tribulation preceding Yahshua’s coming:

“And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent. And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood. And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth” (Rev. 12:-16).

What was done in the past is a pattern for the future.

Grace in the Bible

You Can Fall from Grace

“Guilty” was the jury’s verdict. The judge’s sentence: death by lethal injection. For Sam Smith, a convicted murderer, the nightmare of that January day seven years ago had played endlessly through his mind. In a jealous rage he had taken a man’s life. He realized that he deserved the death penalty for what he had done. No amount of agonizing or remorse could change that.

Regardless of how many times he pleaded for forgiveness from the victim’s family, no matter how much he wished he could relive events, one persistent fact remained: Sam deserved to die. The law was the law. He was guilty of a capital crime and he would pay the utmost price for his sin. With nowhere else to turn, he begged mercy from the governor.

 ‘You Have Been Pardoned’

Just minutes before his scheduled execution, Sam heard the most wonderful words ever spoken to a condemned man: “By the grace of the governor of this state, you have been pardoned.”

“I can’t believe it,” he said to himself.

“He pardoned me! I can live!”

Humbly thankful for the gracious pardon, Sam vowed from that point on that he would be a model citizen. And he never was in trouble with the law again.

The foregoing illustrates the concept of scriptural grace and how it works in the believer’s life.

Paraphrasing the words of Nathan the prophet to King David, “We are that man.” We all deserve to die because we are all sinners,Romans 5:12; 1John 1:10. We earned our fate and nothing we can do can change that fact. Only the mercy of Yahweh and the sacrificial death of Yahshua can save us.

Being sinless, our Savior was the only one who could pay the death penalty in our stead. Yahweh’s grace in sending His Son to die for us is our only hope for salvation. Like the governor in Sam Smith’s case, only Yahweh can release us from the spiritual death sentence our sins earned through the sacrifice of His Son.

From Sin to Obedience

In Romans 6 Paul explains the operation of Yahweh’s grace in the lives of human beings. The chapter is a profound study in the transformation that takes place in a True Worshiper under Yahweh’s grace.

In the last verse of chapter 5 Paul writes, “That as sin has reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Yahshua the Messiah our Master.”

Perhaps no other concept is so misunderstood as the subject of Yahweh’s grace. What does Paul mean in Ephesians 2:8 that we are saved by grace? Is he saying that the statutes of Yahweh are no longer binding in this New Testament era? If so, what of the many passages warning us of disobedience and the necessity to watch carefully lest we fall again into the condemnation of the unrighteous?

Now suppose the condemned man went right out and repeated the crime for which he was pardoned. Wouldn’t his actions violate the spirit of the pardon? Certainly! The governor didn’t save him so that he would go out and commit serious crime all over again. Would not the courts and the governor deal with the man much more harshly the next time? Absolutely!

Yahweh’s grace is no different. The crux of the matter is, what’s the point of Yahweh’s grace—His favor on sinful human beings—if once pardoned we deliberately return to sinful ways?

The words, “grace reign through righteousness,” are key. The New Testament in Modern English translates the phrase, “Now grace is the ruling factor, with righteousness as its purpose and its end.” Grace is not static. It is active and it must work daily in the believer’s life.

Yahweh’s grace has an objective: that we will turn from sin to live uprightly as we follow in Yahshua’s footsteps. Obedience is the avenue allowing that to take place. That means to obey His laws, since sin is clearly defined as the transgression of the law, lJohn 3:4.

Paul explains further in chapter 6 how grace works in the life of the repentant sinner. “What shall we say, then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? Yahweh forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”(vv. 1-2)

To accept Yahweh’s grace—His pardon for our sins—and then to turn back or continue our sinful ways as if nothing had happened is to pervert the whole purpose of grace. We make Yahweh’s grace a big mistake if we accept His pardon only to repeat the sin.

Hebrews 10:26-27 warns of practicing intentional sin: “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

Further in the chapter we find this solemn warning: “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of Elohim, and has counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Heb. 10:29). The word “despite” means, “to insult.” If we continue in sin after receiving Yahweh’s grace we show contempt for Yahweh and His grace.

Slipping up and making a mistake is one thing, willfully returning to sin is another entirely. In Galatians 6 Paul explains the difference. “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself lest you be tempted.” “Overtaken” is the Greek prolambano and means, “to be taken off-guard in a trespass.” “Fault” is the word paraptoma and signifies a slip or lapse, rather than a deliberate act.

We have only this option: obey the law, which is righteousness, or don’t obey, which is sin. If we obey, we can’t be blamed.

The next part of the verse reads, “For you are not under the law but under grace.” How clear! Through Yahweh’s grace (His pardon) our former sins will not be held against us. The penalty for breaking the law has been paid. By trusting in His grace we will not need to pay the penalty ourselves, which the law exacts for our thoughtless sins.

Under grace the penalty we earned is wiped away because the debt was paid through the shed blood of Yahshua. The wages of sin is death, Paul wrote in Romans 6:23. In our case it is Yahshua’s death in exchange for our own. Can this passage mean that we are free from the law now and can go out and sin again, as some seem to think? The Greek word for grace is charis and is defined as the divine influence on the heart and its reflection in one’s life.

 The Upright Not Condemnable

Simply put, under Yahweh’s grace we now emulate His righteous nature. We begin to think and act as He does. That means refraining from sin, which is the same as adhering to His standard, His laws.

When we come in line with His law by righteous living, the law with its incrimination and penalties for the disobedient has no claim on us. In Romans 8:1-2 Paul explains this concept:

“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Messiah Yahshua, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Messiah Yahshua has made me free from the law of sin and death.”

The critical word is “condemnation,” which results from lawbreaking. When we live according to Yahweh’s statutes we are innocent of sin and therefore free from condemnation and punishment.

An unintentional slip is certainly covered by grace for the repentant. But if you continue to repeat the sin you are mocking the spirit of grace and are subject to Yahweh’s wrath.

Paul continues in verses 3-12 of Romans 6, asking, how can we who have followed Yahshua into the waters of baptism and have buried our old carnal life, continue in our old ways? Particularly since baptism means a putting to death of the “old man.” We must become dead to sin, he tells us in verse 11.

A person who has yielded his life to Yahweh, having put to death his sinful nature, must now live a new life of obedience, Paul explains in verse 13. As he puts it, we become “instruments of righteousness.”

Righteousness derives from a Greek word meaning right or just. The opposite is wrong or sin, which is lawbreaking.

 Law’s Penalty of No Effect

Moving on in verse 14 Paul writes, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for you are not under the law but under grace.” Does he mean that after all that he has just said about giving up sin that we are no longer under any obligation to obey Yahweh’s law? How is that possible when the law itself defines what sin is? (‘‘For where no law is, there is no transgression,” Rom. 4: 15.) Let’s examine the verse by segments.

First, for sin not to have dominion over us we have to be out from under it. The only way to accomplish that is by obedience to the law because sin by definition is lawbreaking.

As we have demonstrated, to be free of sin is to be obedient to His law. The same concept is found in Galatians 5: 16, where Paul writes, “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”

If grace means we are not under obligation to keep Yahweh’s laws, then grace grants permission to sin! To this the prophet Jeremiah speaks for Yahweh in 7:9-10: “Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other deities whom you know not; And come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My Name, and say, ‘We are delivered to do all these abominations’?” Yahweh answers that because of these sins and that kind of attitude, “I will cast you out of my sight,” verse 15.

“But does that mean that I am not free to do anything I please under grace?” you may be asking. Let’s let Paul answer that question. The very next verse of this chapter, Romans 6: 15, reads, “What then? shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? Yahweh forbid. Know you not, that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are to whom you obey: whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”

Under Yahweh’s grace we are expected to live obedient lives, giving honor and worship to Him alone, doing what He commands of us as His special people. Verse 18 reads, “Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness.” To be servants of righteousness is the opposite of being servants of sinfulness (lawlessness). This is shown in verse 20: “For when you were the servants of sin, you were free from righteousness.”

 What ‘Under the Law’ Means

The converse is just as true: to be righteous is to be free from sin. No one can be legally arrested for doing good. No sheriff will arrest me for saving a drowning man. There is no law against it!

When you do good you are not under the condemnation of any law. The demands of the law are already met, therefore, and you have no debt to the law. This is what Paul means by not being under the law. It does not mean the law is no longer in effect, as we will now show.

We’ve seen that grace is a pardon for sin. Sin results when a law of Yahweh is broken. Therefore, the need to pardon us for sin exists because the law is in operation.

A murderer would not be condemned to die if there were no law against murder. And he would not need a pardon or grace.

Yahweh offers His grace and sent Yahshua to die for our sins for the plain and simple fact that the law is still in effect. Because the law is in force the penalty for breaking it is also real, or else we would have no need to fear sin’s consequences.

Some will argue that Yahshua came to do away with the law and thus we are put under grace. This idea falls flat if we can find grace in the Old Testament. Sure enough, in Genesis 6:8 we find, “Noah found grace in the eyes of Yahweh.” Because of grace Yahweh saved him from the penalty of death by drowning. Exodus 34:5-7 reads like something out of the book of Galatians. It speaks of Yahweh’s mercy, grace, longsuffering, and abundance in goodness and truth.

If grace existed in the days of ancient Israel, then why does Yahweh command Israel to keep the Ten Commandments? Why should it be any different with us?

We are under grace so long as we do not continue to break the law. Grace is not a permanent condition of the believer but a gift granted by Almighty Yahweh. That gift can be rejected through our own attitude of rebellion and acts of disobedience and Yahweh can remove it as well.

“Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of Elohim; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled,” Hebrews 12: 15.

Salvation Is Not Earned

Being law observant has nothing to do with “earning” salvation. I don’t get any special reward for paying my taxes on time, for keeping the peace, for not robbing my neighbor or mugging a stranger. I’m simply obeying laws. I’m not earning a thing by being law abiding, except the right not to be troubled by the authorities.

Paul writes in the book of Ephesians, “For by grace are you saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of Yahweh: Not of works, lest any man should boast,” 2:8- 9.

Nothing we humans can do earns us a place in the Kingdom because Yahweh has not defined obedience that way. Obedience simply engenders Yahweh’s favor and demonstrates our faith in and love for Him.

Obedience to His way of life also shows our gratitude for His pardoning of our past sins. Disobedience, contrarily, reveals an indifference toward what He has done for us and, more seriously, a contempt for Him and His Savior.

Now if I fail to pay my taxes, if I rob a bank, disturb the peace or mug someone, I will come under the law. Yahweh says inGalatians 5:19-21 that those who practice sin are also lawbreakers.

Yahweh Rewards Obedience

Unrepentant lawbreakers will not inherit the Kingdom.

Yahweh’s people love Him and want above all else to please Him. In several Scriptures we find that the love of Yahweh is defined as the keeping of His commandments. (See John 14: 15, 21; lJohn 2:5; 5:3; 2John 6.)

Rest assured, only Yahweh can grant salvation and at His own pleasure. Therefore, we want to be sure we have His favor by being obedient to what He commands. “And being made perfect He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him,” we read in Hebrews 5:9.

Lawkeeping is not salvation by works. Rather, it is salvation by obedience. Obedience can’t guarantee me a position in the Kingdom, but disobedience surely will keep me out of it!

Now note verse 10 of Ephesians 2, a continuation of Paul’s thought: “For we are His workmanship, created in Messiah Yahshua UNTO GOOD WORKS, which Elohim has before ordained that WE SHOULD WALK IN THEM.”

James tells us that faith without works is dead, being alone (2:17). Our works perfect our faith, James writes in verses 21-22. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Do you see how faith wrought with his works, and by his works was faith made perfect?”

We complete our faith by following through with action. A faith that is sincere is proved by what we do about it. When we obey Yahweh’s commandments and other laws in our daily life we prove our faith in Him while pleasing Him at the same time.

Paul’s letter to Titus sums up the issue. “For the grace of Elohim that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Teaching us that denying unrighteousness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and devoutly in this present world.”

Law Stands Firm

An aging king was out riding his horse one day and recognized his nephew about to be hanged on the gallows at a local village. “Cut him down!” the monarch ordered.

When he inquired of the man’s crime he was told that his relative had defected to a rival kingdom and had been sentenced to die as a traitor.

“I just can’t let him die,” the king said to himself. “He is my sister’s son!” As he was about to order the man released, his chief aide interrupted, “The only way this man can be set free is if you offer the ransom of your own son. It’s the law.”

“But how could I do that?” the king responded. “I have only one son!”

“Aren’t you the supreme monarch?” asked a guard standing nearby. “Just rescind the law and the man can go free!”

But the aide again cautioned, “If you do that, your dominion will fall and end in ruin. Everyone will know that your kingdom’s laws are just relative. What kingdom could stand under those conditions?”

Our King, Almighty Yahweh, paid the penalty for our sins with His Son’s life. The very fact that He did so proves that He loved us. He could have just eliminated the law and saved Yahshua horrible suffering and death. But by not doing that He also demonstrated a key truth: Law is not to be altered or eliminated. The only way we can be pardoned from sin’s death penalty is through a substitute sacrifice of One far greater than ourselves. Through Yahshua’s payment of our sins with His own life, Yahweh’s grace saves us from the law’s penalty, which stands firm and unalterable against all violators.

Yahweh’s grace is a wonderful gift. May we never forfeit that grace through willful disobedience