The Sixth Letter, Waw or Vav?

Modern Hebrew uses a “vav” (v) for the sixth letter of its alphabet but anciently this wasn’t the case. Originally it had a “w” (double “u”) sound. This is a big deal when determining the proper pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton. The only “v” sound in classical or biblical Hebrew is made from the second letter, the “bet” (for you Hebrew students this is the Hebrew letter “bet” without the dot called the dagesh lene, which indicates the harder pronunciation “b”).

It is known from antiquity the Tetragrammaton letters yod, heh, and waw are vowels. Vowels are spoken with the open mouth. The “v” is a consonant, not a vowel, and is spoken with the upper teeth and lower lip together. The historian Josephus (37 CE) said of the high priest, “A mitre also of fine linen encompassed his head, which was tied by a blue ribbon, about which there was another golden crown, in which was engraven the sacred name [of the Almighty]: it consists of four vowels.” (War of the Jews, Book 5. 5. 7.)

Consisting of four vowels, the name Yahweh is pronounced with the open mouth, i.e.,  ee – ah- oo – eh. You cannot have or inject a consonant v as in Yahveh or Yehovah i.e.,  ee – ah – vv – eh. The two-syllable name Yahweh can be breathed when you deeply inhale and exhale.

The Masoretic vowel pointing backs up Josephus’ claims about the yod, heh and waw. In biblical Hebrew there are six unchangeable vowels (see chart above).

In his biblical Hebrew lecture series, Dr. Bill Barrick makes this interesting observation: “Sometimes actually in the transcription of ancient Hebrew such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, a ‘waw’ is sometimes given as a vowel letter for the qibbuts, which really represents a shureq and that also indicates the sounds of them were very, very close, even in ancient times.” (Biblical Hebrew Grammar I, Lesson 12). The qibbuts is a short vowel and has a “u” sound like in the word “ruler,” which equates to the “w” or double u. (See Basics of Biblical Hebrew Chapter 2.4)

J.D. Wijnkoop, literary candidate at the University of Leyden and rabbi of the Jewish Congregation in Amsterdam, states in his book, Manual of Hebrew Grammar, “Waw is a softly, scarcely audible pronounced w, which is produced by a quick opening of the lips,” (Forgotten Books, Classic Reprint Series, 2015, p. 3, original publication 1898).

Dr. Steven E. Fassberg, who received his Ph.D. from Harvard and teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as a professor in the Hebrew language department and who headed the University’s Orion Center for the Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and has contributed to numerous  works such as The Encyclopedia Judaica, stated: “There is no doubt that the original sound was w and not v. Sometime during the history of the Hebrew language there was a shift from w > v in pronunciation, probably already during the Mishnaic Period [70 CE-200 CE]” (email correspondence).

We posed the  V vs. W question to the Hebrew language Department at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. The Department Chair, Professor Adina Moshavi, responded in great detail: “I believe there are many ways to demonstrate that the waw was not originally pronounced as a bilabial “v” as it is in Tiberian Hebrew.  The fact that the waw is frequently used as a mater lectionis for a long u sound would be impossible to explain if it was pronounced v, like the bet rafeh, rather as the semivowel w.  Furthermore, there are many Hebrew words where a historical dipthong aw, as evidenced from Semitic cognates, has been reduced to a long vowel, e.g., in hiphil perfect of w-initial verbs hawrid > horid “he brought down”, or in the word yawm > yom “day”, and alternations between a dipthong and a long vowel, e.g.,absolute mawwet vs. construct mot “death.”  Such correspondences are only understandable if the phonetic value of the waw was a semivowel.”

The Aramaic language became the common language throughout the Middle East, eventually displacing Assyrian cuneiform as the predominant writing system. Aramaic is still spoken today in parts of Turkey, Iraq and Iran. “An Aramaic institute was established in 2007 by Damascus University that teaches courses to keep the language alive. The institute’s activities were suspended in 2010 amidst fears that the square Aramaic alphabet used in the program too closely resembled the square script of the Hebrew alphabet and all the signs with the square Aramaic script were taken down.” Wikipedia “The Persians adopted Aramaic. The Babylonians adopted it and so did the Jews. It then prevailed as the language of the Middle East until 700 AD.” (Easter Sunday: A Syrian bid to resurrect Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ)

Another interesting fact is found in the Aramaic alphabet. The Hebrew square script used today derived its letters from Aramaic around the time of the Babylonian exile. Being the language the Messiah spoke as well as the biblical patriarch Jacob, it uses a “w” for the sixth letter. We read in Deuteronomy 26:5, “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.”

Ugaritic and later Semitic languages like Arabic, Maltese, and Ge’ez, all use a double “u” comparatively for the letter. This fact dynamites any possibility that the sixth letter had the sound of a “v” anciently as these languages all derive from older Semitic languages through Aramaic and as far  back as Phoenician, i.e. ancient Hebrew.

Another substantiation is the linguistic study of the Yemenite Jews of Arabia. These Jews were never displaced from the region. Edward Horowitz writes: “The sound of waw a long time ago wasn’t ‘vav’ at all but ‘w’ and ‘w’ is weak. The Yemenite Jews of Arabia who retain an ancient, correct, and pure pronunciation of Hebrew still pronounce the waw as ‘w,’ as does Arabic, the close sister language of Hebrew,” How the Hebrew Language Grew, pp. 29-30.

From this and other incontrovertible evidence, we see that any name for Yahweh like Yehovah, Yahvah, Yahveh, etc., has no basis in historical and linguistic fact.

Sabbaticals and Jubilees Part 1

The Mysterious and Intriguing Sabbaticals and Jubilees, Land Rest and Personal Freedom Part 1

One teaching of the Scriptures has been ignored and neglected today more than any other. Can you guess what it is? You’re probably thinking: It’s Yahweh’s Feast days. It’s the seventh-day Sabbath. It’s got to be the sacred Name.

Believe it or not, there is still a biblical truth that is more overlooked than those. The biblical teaching that has been more abandoned by churchianity than all of these is the sabbaticals. The Sabbatical and Jubilee years are the most disregarded of all Yahweh’s special, appointed times even by Sabbath keepers.

And yet, both biblical history and prophecy hang profoundly on these principal times that Yahweh gave us.

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

Most who observe the Bible’s weekly Sabbath are aware that Yahweh gave His Sabbath observances as a special sign to His people. Annual Sabbaths and extra-annual Sabbaths are very important to our Heavenly Father. Key events occurred at those times as well, likely even the coming return of Yahshua.

The Hebrew root for Sabbath (shabath)—Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance No. 7673—means “cessation” or rest. Yahweh’s Sabbaths are a periodic rest, which allow us to draw closer to Him, Ezekiel 20:12. “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am Yahweh that sanctify them.”

Sabbaths Are the Sign
Observing His Sabbaths is the obligation of the True Worshiper, a commitment shared with other observers who are sealed in His sacred Name Yahweh by the Holy Spirit. Each weekly Sabbath reminds us that Yahweh set aside the seventh day that we might recall His great creative power as well as the redemption we have through His Son Yahshua.

Fifty-two times a year we take a day away from our weekly activities to join the Body of Messiah to revive and strengthen our faith. It is also when we grow the most spiritually as we commune with Yahweh.

Not only is the seventh day of the week holy and special to our Heavenly Father, but He also gave special Sabbaths every seven years, Leviticus 23. Important events of history and prophecy are tied up in these specially sanctioned years. Yet, the Israelites abandoned the keeping of the sabbatical years and in the process missed out on critical aspects of Yahweh’s prophetic plan.

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

Why does He bring in the issue of slavery in conjunction with the Sabbath? Because there is a connection to another Sabbath, the 50th year Jubilee, a year of release of slavery and servitude.

Captivity for Disobedience
After wandering in the wilderness 40 years, Israel finally crossed over the Jordan and somewhat conquered the land Yahweh had promised. They had not been thorough in driving out the enemy, however, leaving pockets of heathen culture that proved to be Israel’s downfall when Yahweh allowed them to be conquered by foreign powers, Deuteronomy 7.

The northern ten tribes, often referred to as Ephraim because they were the dominant tribe, were taken captive to the area of present-day northern Iraq by the Assyrians and subsequently moved north and west over the Caucasus Mountains (hence the name “Caucasian”). This occurred in the seventh century BCE.

The southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin were allowed to remain in the land and had the advantage of seeing from a distance the wrath of Yahweh on their 10-tribed Ephraim brethren who were taken captive. Judah was also guilty of ignoring Yahweh’s laws despite the warnings of Elohim’s messengers:

“And Yahweh Elohim of their fathers sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, and sending; because he had compassion on his people, and on his dwelling place: But they mocked the messengers of Elohim, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of Yahweh arose against his people, till there was no remedy” (2Chron. 36:15-16).

Shrugging off the plight of the northern ten tribes, Judah and Benjamin behaved even worse, according to Jeremiah 3:8. About a hundred years later the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin, along with many of the priests, were taken captive to Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar. Only a few farmers and poor folk were left in the land of Israel. This was all because of their refusal to obey Yahweh by rejecting His laws, particularly the land Sabbaths.

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

‘Holy Land’ Takes a Rest
So long as Israel was captive in Babylon, the Promised Land lay idle and desolate to fulfill the neglected 70 Sabbatical cycles, accumulating 490 years. Yahweh’s laws demanded that the land lie idle for a year every seven years. “For thus says Yahweh, that after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jer. 29:10).

In addition, every seventh Sabbatical year was followed by the Jubilee year. The word “Jubilee” is derived in the Bible from the Hebrew yob-ale, which means “ram, ram’s horn; jubilee year.” The ram’s horn announced the beginning of the Jubilee year. Whenever a trumpet was used to signal an event, in this case the shofar trumpet, it announced something very significant was about to happen.

Yahshua said He will return with the great sound of a trumpet, Matthew 24:31. Is the trumpet sound announcing the Sabbatical-Jubilee and the return of Yahshua just coincidence?

Notice Leviticus 25:9, “Then shall you cause the trumpet of the Jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall you make the trumpet sound throughout all your land.”

Keeping the Sabbatical years of land rest bestowed the designation “Holy Land” to Judea. Israel learned that the Sabbatical-Jubilee was holy both to the land and to Yahweh.

The question for us is, does Yahweh still expect His laws, statutes, and judgments to be observed in our day and age? Does He change His expectations according to the culture or the age, or does the Bible say that He is Yahweh who changes not? Malachi 3:6 confirms that we worship a changeless Mighty One. Obedience has not been reduced, let alone abandoned.

Sabbaticals Are Part of the Covenant
The earliest Bible reference concerning the Sabbatical-Jubilee cycle is found in Exodus 21:2-6, dealing with the release of the slave. Exodus 23:10-12 relates to the land’s rest. Thus, the Sabbatical-Jubilee was part of the Covenant established with Moses in Exodus 24:1-8.

Following the seventh Sabbatical year (or every 49 years) the sounding of the trumpet on the Day of Atonement of the fiftieth year heralded the beginning of the Jubilee.

Atonement itself falls on the tenth day of the month and is a very solemn time, the holiest day of the year. The harvest is in, and early rains soften the earth to allow plowing and seeding for the next crop. But in the Sabbatical year the land is at rest. Both the 49th and 50th years were times of rest for the land.

Most every Israelite would observe at least one Jubilee year in a normal lifespan of 70 years. If a person observed his first Jubilee in his teen years, then he might enjoy another before his normal lifespan ended. It was a special occasion anticipated by the entire, rejoicing nation.

As we will see, the Jubilee has prophetic implications in Yahweh’s dealings with mankind. We are given insight into the grand finale of Yahweh’s redemption of the earth as He establishes the Kingdom under the Messiah.

The Link to Yahshua’s Return
The Sabbatical cycle in certain instances influenced Israel’s daily living. The right of an heiress to marry was restricted so that the law of the Jubilee could be preserved, Numbers 36:4-7. Naboth refused to sell his vineyard so that it would remain an inheritance for his family, 1Kings 21:14.

The Jubilee will be kept in the Millennium as shown by Ezekiel 46:17, where the king is reminded that any property given to a servant reverts to the original owner (the king) at the time of the Jubilee.

Yahshua as our King will take control once again of this earth as its original owner. Yahshua’s return on a Jubilee would be consistent with the purposes of the Jubilee and Millennium.
Other references to the Jubilee are found in Nehemiah 5:1-19; Isaiah 5:7-10; 37:30, and 61:1-2.

The Sabbatical year, we learn from Leviticus 25:4, occurs every seventh year— a Sabbath of rest both of the land and to Yahweh. The fields are not to be sown nor the vines pruned. No crops are to be planted; the vineyards must not be harvested. The produce of the land and vineyard could be eaten, but not stored or preserved. All debts among Israelites were canceled.

After seven of these Sabbatical years (or 49 years), the next year, the fiftieth, is the Jubilee. The following points differentiate the Sabbath year from the Jubilee, which occur back-to-back every 49 and 50 years. The Jubilee year is an intensification of the Sabbatical year.

• Land and vineyards rest, no planting or harvesting
• All voluntary foods can be eaten, but not stored
• Servants receive freedom and debts are canceled

• Land and vineyards rest
• Land reverts to the original owner (as in Yahshua’s return to reclaim earth)
• All Israelite slaves freed. Debts forgiven

The fiftieth year is eagerly anticipated as a time of joy and merriment. Landowners had to give up the lands they had once cultivated, which reverted to the original owner(s). This kept the lands under original ownership.

Idyllic simplicity returned to soften the distinction of rank.

Debts were forgiven, and those having lost their property through accident or poor management were rejuvenated as opportunities brought by the restoration awaited them.
Slaves were redeemed and freed. The Sabbatical-Jubilee years might be called the great “leveler” of Israelite society. Through them everyone was equal before Yahweh as neither the rich nor the poor cultivated his field.

But What About Today?
Living under industrialization and a far more complicated financial system, the laws of Yahweh became lightly esteemed by modern society. Today’s fiscal demands of industry, manufacturing, commerce, and banking are not appeased by fallowed farmland.

Canceling of a borrower’s debts is unheard of. How can the entrepreneur grow and expand if he is required to return legally purchased property every fiftieth year?

These are but a few questions asked today. The farmer has more freedom to apply Yahweh’s laws to his life than most who work for a regular wage. However, the increasingly heavy burdens laid upon him by lenders, plus the pressures inherent in today’s economies, challenge the farmer’s very survival and are detrimental to his obedience to the laws of Yahweh.

The Jubilee is known as the year of liberty. Leviticus 25:12 explains that it is a holy year to Israel. It was because of the Jubilees that the Promised Land came to be known as the Holy Land. However, there is some question whether Israel faithfully kept both the Sabbatical and Jubilee years.

Atonement and the Sabbatical
On the tenth day of the seventh month Israel celebrated the Day of Atonement. The Jubilee was a year-long sabbatical that came after 49 years. The Jubilee began on the Day of Atonement, Leviticus 25:9-10. The count toward the next sabbatical also begins on the Jubilee. Just as the weekly seventh day ends at sunset and the first day begins immediately that same sunset, the first Sabbatical ends when the Jubilee’s fiftieth year starts on Atonement, in the seventh month, Deuteronomy 31:10.

The very land was holy to Yahweh and was referred to as the Holy Land. During that year the Book of Deuteronomy was read to the people. The Sabbatical year marked the canceling of all indebtedness. This emphasized the righteousness that was required by Yahweh. On this day the sins of the nation were confessed, which is the first requisite to establish righteousness.

Confession is an opening of the heart, which leads to forgiveness and restoration to Yahweh. Through fasting and keeping the Day of Atonement, Yahweh’s people are reminded of His righteousness and His forgiveness as they accept His grand plan for the forgiveness of sin.

Israel’s sins were brought before them every time they gave a sin offering. But the Day of Atonement was a special day that impressed upon the mind and heart of every Israelite that this day was devoted to a deep introspection of his life.

The Day of Atonement was the only day of the year when the High Priest was permitted to enter the Tabernacle’s Holy of Holies, which was the nearest approach to Yahweh possible through the blood offering. The Day of Atonement pictured the forgiveness of Israel’s sins and the nation’s getting right with Yahweh. Known as Yom Kippur, it was the “day of covering” of their sins, pointing to the true Lamb of Yahweh’s coming to take away the sins of the world, and not just cover them.

Slaves and Land Released
Following the seventh Sabbatical year came the year of the Jubilee, which occurred every fiftieth year (or after the succession of seven Sabbatical years). It has been called the outer circle of the great Sabbatical system, which comprises the Sabbatical year, the Sabbatical month and the Sabbath day.

Just as in the Sabbatical year, the Jubilee also was a time of keeping the land uncultivated. The distinctive mark of the Jubilee year was the liberation of all slaves of Hebrew blood. The blowing of the trumpet on the Day of Atonement also released every bondman.

The Jubilee year was different from the Sabbatical in that the land was restored to the original owners. All land that had been assigned to a family was again returned to that family. This required that the tribal and family registers be carefully kept so that the rights of the people should be protected. It is partly from such records that we know that Yahshua descended from the tribe of Judah.

Jewish writers contend that the Jubilee was observed up to the time of the fall of Judah in the year 586 BCE. References are found in Isaiah 5:7-10; 61:1-2; Ezekiel 7:12-13 and 46:16-18.

Yahshua and Year of Our Release
A number of Bible scholars point out that Israel was delivered from both the Babylonian and Egyptian captivity at the time of the Jubilee. The pattern for us as believers in the Messiah is that He is the one who sets us free.

The bondage of Israel was cruel, enforced servitude. Yahshua frees us from the bondage and shackles of sin. “If the Son, therefore, shall make you free, you shall be free indeed,” John 8:36. This key purpose of the Sabbaticals and Jubilees dovetails with Yahshua’s purpose of coming to earth, even up to the timing of His return.

How ancient Israel must have thrilled to the sound of the trumpet on the Day of Atonement announcing their actual release from slavery. Of how much greater joy will it be when the trumpet announces Yahshua’s return to this earth. All tears will be dried, and the brokenhearted comforted. The meek and the poor in spirit will be exalted and the thirsty and hungry filled.

The first trumpet is blown on the first day of the seventh month, which is the new moon day. Then follows the blowing of the second trumpet on the Day of Atonement, heralding Yahweh’s release, redemption, and deliverance.

Hebrews 4:1-11 summarizes the Sabbaths Yahweh has given us to remember His great plan of redemption of mankind. We are told that there remains a Sabbath of rest for the people of Yahweh (Heb. 4:9 — “rest” is the Greek sabbatismos, meaning a Sabbath keeping).

There is the weekly Sabbath which is set aside for the people of Yahweh. Also there is the Sabbatical rest for the land around Jerusalem. Finally, the rest and redemption for the elect people of Yahweh who will reign with Yahshua when He returns to set up the Messianic Kingdom:

“Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of Elohim and of Messiah, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6).

But not all will attain that rest because of unfaithfulness. The faithful will have rest from their enemies, no drought, sickness, sin or hindrances to happiness.

Counting the Jubilee
A long-standing debate is how to compute the Jubilee year — in segments of 49 or 50 years. The Jubilee year is the year following the seventh Sabbatical year. It is the 50th year, but not the year coming after 50 years. It is the year following 49 years.

From the beginning of one Jubilee year to the beginning of the next Jubilee is 49 years. The 7 times 7 years of Sabbatical cycles may not be broken any more than can the 7 times 7 weeks in computing Pentecost. Furthermore, the 50th year is also year one in the count toward the next Sabbatical year 7 years later.

To prove that the Jubilee immediately follows the Sabbatical year, note the prophecy of Isaiah:

“And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall eat this year such as grows of itself: and the second year that which springs of the same; and in the third year sow, reap, and plant vineyards and eat the fruit thereof” (Isa. 37:30).

“This year” refers to the Sabbatical year. The “second year” refers to the Jubilee year, and the “third year” one can sow grain and reap and plant vineyards. The day after Atonement, which ends the Sabbatical-Jubilee year, farmers can again plow the ground for planting wheat and barley that fall.

Our Savior’s Return
If the Sabbatical-Jubilee cycle was important to Israel, then it is all the more important to us looking for the return of the Messiah. A central key is in Yahshua’s quoting of Isaiah 61:1-2:

“The Spirit of Yahweh Elohim is upon me; because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of Yahweh” (Luke 4:18).

Yahshua stopped in the middle of verse 2, where Bible scholars contend He was now calling people out of the world to become His followers. The “acceptable year” is understood to refer to the beginning of the Sabbatical year. He came to preach the Good News to the meek and humble, those whose hearts were open and teachable.

With those of kindred mind He would build His Assembly. He would now choose those who would become the nucleus of His body of believers, the “ekklesia,” the assembly. He told Peter this group of “called-out ones,” would never die out, but would always exist on this earth, Matthew 16:18.

Just as the Savior was cut off in the middle of the week and died on a Wednesday, so He left unsaid the rest of Isaiah 61:2 which tells of the vengeance yet to come. Note the latter part of this verse: “And the day of vengeance of our Elohim; to comfort all that mourn.”

He comes with anger and vengeance for the wicked, but comfort and help to those who revere Yahweh’s Name and are submissive to Him. This ties in with Revelation’s prophecy:

“And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward unto your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your Name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth” (Rev. 11:18). See also Luke 20:16; 2Thes. 1:8; 2:8; Heb. 10:27.

The Sabbatical-Jubilee cycle pictures the grand finale of the believer’s earthly sojourn. It represents the fulfillment of the promise made to the redeemed which will be done when He returns in the day of vengeance.

Although we are not sure exactly when His return will be, it will likely be on a Feast day within a Sabbatical or Jubilee year. That is the most appropriate time, the appointed time. Daniel 11 says the end shall be at the appointed time, that is, a moed or Feast. None of the Feasts of the seventh scriptural month have been fulfilled as far as we know.

Can We Pinpoint the Jubilees?
Studies to determine the secular dates of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years rest heavily on the Savior’s beginning ministry, which appears to be 27-28 CE.

The Jews were so determined to keep all of Yahweh’s law after their return from the Babylonian captivity that allegedly they believed that there was no reason to keep the Jubilee years, as they would not have reason to sell themselves into slavery or be redeemed. Therefore, records of these years are sparse.

An interesting discovery is that the Gregorian calendar years on which the Sabbatical cycle falls are evenly divisible by 7. The year 2023 is evenly divisible by seven, meaning that this fall begins the Sabbatical which runs through 2023 of next year.

What About This Year?
No planting or harvesting of crops is to be done after Atonement, 2022, until the fall Atonement of 2023.

Certainly a study of this neglected cycle will bring many obscure Bible truths to our attention and make the Bible become clearer as we draw nearer to our Heavenly Father and His beloved Son who make it all possible.

Key to Puzzling Passages
The Sabbatical years solve a puzzling statement Yahshua made in John 4. While traveling with His disciples to Galilee, He struck up a conversation with a Samaritan woman. He said in v. 35: “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest. Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.”

Clearly this was a Sabbatical year when Yahshua began His ministry, 28 CE. It was also in May-June when grain harvests occur. But the Sabbatical didn’t end for four more months when harvesting could begin again.

This explains the four additional months of waiting for the harvest that Yahshua talked about.

Proof of Sabbaticals
Ben Zion Wacholder of Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati, a scholar on the Sabbaticals, wrote several books on the subject of the Sabbaticals and Jubilees: The Calendar of Sabbatical Cycles During the Second Temple and the Early Rabbinic Period (1973), The Timing of Messianic Movements and the Calendar of Sabbatical Cycles (1975), and The Calendar of Sabbath Years during the Second Temple Era: A Response (1983).

Wacholder’s proposed set of Sabbatical years are offset by one year later than Benedict Zuckerman’s set of years, which is the other popular timing. Wacholder had access to legal documents from the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt that were not available to Zuckermann.

Only within the last 50 years has it become possible through archaeological discoveries, etc., to determine with an almost certainly what the exact Sabbatical years’ sequence was and is.

Two brilliant historical studies by Prof. Wacholder have solved the riddle of when the Sabbatical years occurred in ancient times, and when they are observed today.

The following historical events reveal the Sabbatical year sequence, with the year 2022-2023 being one of them:

• The recital of Deuteronomy 7:15 by Agrippa I in a post-Sabbatical year, making the Sabbatical year 41/42.
• A note of indebtedness from Wadi Murabba’at in 2nd year of Nero, 55/56 CE, indicating 55/56 as a Sabbatical year.
• Rental contracts of Simon bar Kosiba indicating 132/133 as a Sabbatical year.
• Three fourth- and fifth-century tombstones near Sodom indicating 433/434 and 440/441 CE were Sabbatical years.
(When farmers are keeping Sabbaticals by letting their fields rest, they are free to do building projects. And so…)
• CE 41–CE 42: King Agrippa I started building the expansive third wall around the northern parts of Jerusalem.
• CE 62–CE 63: Agrippa II started to rebuild Caesarea Philippi.
And then there are key historical events that hinge on Sabbath years:
• CE 69–CE 70: Destruction of Jerusalem in the latter part (motsae, “going-out”) of the Sabbatical year 69/70.
• CE 132–CE 133: Bar Kokhba revolt of the Jews against the Romans.

In part 2 we will further show the proper timing of the Sabbaticals both anciently and today.

New Testament Basis and Basics

How often have you accepted something as fact and later found out it was false? The experience is too common.

Even conventional wisdom often turns out to be just smoke and mirrors built on hearsay and tradition.

Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus was among the first to say that the earth was not the center of the universe, and it got him into big trouble with the church. The belief for centuries was that the universe was finite, with the earth at its center, a belief accepted by nearly everyone. To say otherwise was heresy.

The majority view is frequently in error and often proven so by facts. Just because the majority accepts a belief does not mean you should hang your hat on it.

We challenge you to prove everything from the Scriptures, and determine for yourself the truth of what we teach. In fact, when it comes to any religious teaching, don’t take someone’s word for it, including a room full of pastors, until you first verify it yourself from the Scriptures. Don’t assume it is correct and true even if your parents and grandparents believed it all their lives.

Proving what you believe is commanded in the Scriptures. If you don’t have a conviction for your beliefs, how can Yahweh judge your heart? If you are stuck in neutral and are not engaged in your beliefs then you are just riding on another’s coattails. Yahweh judges the heart.

Yahweh’s Mandate: Preach and Prove

The job of a minister is to “preach the Word,” 1Timothy 4:2. The responsibility of the hearer is to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good,” 1Thessalonians 5:21. Notice Paul says prove “all” things. And when you find a teaching or tenet you may not have heard before, test it by the Word. If it is true and right, then embrace it and walk in it. If not, reject it.

There are typically several interpretations for a Bible teaching. Yet, only one can be right. In Matthew 15:9, our Savior Yahshua calls doctrine that is not inspired vain, the teaching of men. Vain means worthless and without profit.

The Apostle Paul tells us in Acts 17:11 about a people who were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

Their minds were open to truth and because of that they were called noble. They searched it out and proved everything for themselves. They didn’t accept a teaching simply because they had always believed it. They put it up for cross-examination.

Our Father in heaven did not give us His Bible for someone else to interpret it for us. Each of us is responsible for ourselves to study, learn, and follow the truth revealed by the Word. Peter wrote, “All scripture is given by inspiration of Yahweh, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16. If you go by the Scriptures themselves you can’t go wrong. They lead to salvation.


Name ‘Christian’ Unauthorized in NT

Have you ever wondered, if only one way is right, where are those living and teaching it? What denomination or group of believers will one day be given a place in the Kingdom of our Savior Yahshua? Do they have a name?

A related question is, what did the early New Testament believers call themselves? These would be those who were taught by the Savior and Apostles themselves. They got their beliefs and practices directly from the source of truth.

Believe it or not, the New Testament assembly of believers did not have a specific name. They are simply called people of the way or that way in the Book of Acts.

The term “Christian” was first applied by Greek gentiles to the Apostle Paul’s Hebraic-based faith after he began to minister at Antioch (Acts 11:25-26). “Christian” is Greek and means one espousing the beliefs of the Christos or Messiah. Surprisingly, it is a name used only three times in the entire New Testament.

The early New Testament believers were all Hebrew, not Greek. The faith of the New Testament is Hebraic and based on the Old Testament Scriptures, the only Scriptures in existence at the time of Yahshua and the Apostles. The faith they lived and taught was not Greek but would in a couple of decades pick up Greek influence through ecumenism with pagans. That includes the name “Jesus,” a Latinized Greek name.

Whenever Yahshua and the apostles quoted the Scriptures it was only the Old Testament they used and taught from. The New Testament had yet to be written.

In Acts 26:28 we read, “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, almost you persuade me to be a Christian.” Although Paul was the one on trial, he redirects the inquiry in an effort to convert the ruler Agrippa himself. He questions Agrippa about the ruler’s belief in the prophets. Agrippa recognizes his strategy.

The term Christian was applied to Paul by this half-Jew, Herod Agrippa II. Amazingly, we never find Paul or any of the Apostles using this name for themselves or their movement.

Paul seeks familiar ground with the ruler and the common basis he zeroes in on is that he also believed the law and prophets. In saying this, Paul links the New Testament movement with its foundation, the Old Testament.

Yahshua the Messiah never gave a name to the New Testament movement either. He refers to His followers simply as disciples and believers, followers, and friends, but does NOT designate a formal group label.

The earliest body of believers was called Nazarenes in the New Testament, or the followers of the One from Nazareth.


New Testament’s Hebraic Roots

In about the year 50 CE a crisis developed that Paul dealt with by consulting the other elders at Jerusalem. It began with those who thought converts had to change to Judaism and adopt Jewish customs before they could enter the New Covenant. Why? Obviously because of the clear Jewish heritage of the early New Covenant Assembly.
These followers of the Messiah in the New Testament believed and practiced the laws of the Old Testament. They kept the Feast days of Leviticus 23. They worshiped on the seventh-day Sabbath, just as they did in the Old Testament. They ate clean foods.

All of this is easily seen in the New Testament Scriptures. Just follow the ministry of the Apostle Paul and you will see that. Rather than believing Paul changed Old Testament mandates and made obedience unnecessary, just read what he believed, taught, and did himself.

He kept the seven annual feasts long after the resurrection of the Savior Yahshua. Why didn’t he say that those days were just for Old Testament Jews? Obviously he knew they were for him as well, and he is seen observing them.

The Messiah Yahshua told His disciples in Matthew 10:6 to go only to the lost sheep of the House of Israel, meaning the Hebrews, the Jews of His day: “These twelve Yahshua sent forth, and commanded them, saying, 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.”
Paul believed the priority Yahshua put with Israel. He wrote in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Evangel of Messiah: for it is the power of Elohim unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Paul’s mission, along with the Apostle Peter’s, expanded the outreach to other nations and peoples known as Gentiles. Gentile converts faced one very real problem. They were joining a Jewish sect, and to be Jewish traditionally involved circumcision.

The issue was over circumcision, not whether to obey the law. The laws of the Old Testament were never an issue in the New Testament. It was what man added to those laws that became a problem. Many still have the same difficulty understanding Paul that they did back in the days of the New Testament, thinking he taught against Old Testament law.

Not so. He proved he was a law keeper 24 years after Yahshua. Paul says he believed all things written in the law and prophets, Acts 24:14.


Paul Never Advocated No-Law

Paul had no authority to do away with biblical law. He had no authority to trump our Savior, who said in Matthew 5:17 that he did not come to do away with the law. Misunderstanding of Paul’s letters has led to the false notion that he was against Yahweh’s laws.

James in Acts 15:19 settles the matter over whether to circumcise: “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to Elohim: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.”

James explained that the law is preached in every synagogue all over the place. They will learn the necessity of the law eventually, but first, these newly converted gentiles needed to clean up the filth from their lives. They needed a cleansing. They must first leave their pagan ways behind. You can’t take the old baggage with you if you are taking on new truth. This age-old problem is still with us today.

There were no great sweeping transformations in going from Hebraic truths to the New Testament faith of Yahshua. In fact, according to Eusebius’ History, the first 15 Bishops of Jerusalem were “of the circumcision.” They were Jewish. The big difference comes in accepting of Yahshua as the Messiah, elimination of man-added laws and understanding the spiritual meaning of obeying from conviction, and not just knee-jerk compliance.

The polytheistic influence of the Canaanites on Israel was matched in early Christendom. In the second and third centuries there were Christians who believed in one mighty one. But there were others who insisted that there were two. Some said there were 30. Others claimed there were 365. This notion came from the influence of the religions around them, some of which had a god for every day of the year.

But one characteristic is found throughout the earliest Assemblies of the New Testament—there was explicit and total fidelity in teaching and practice to the Law and the Prophets, which pointed to Yahshua’s coming.

Yahshua was very clear that He understood Himself in that Hebraic 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.”


Early Assembly Followed a Way

Another significant truth is in what Paul said in Acts 24:14. “But this I admit to you, that according to the way [the term ‘way’ is what they called the New Testament believers–people of the way because of a specific way in which they lived and believed] 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.”

Even Paul was misunderstood by the religious majority of his day just as today. They thought he came to destroy the law and the need to obey the one they worshiped.

Following are some other references to this term “way” that was used of the New Testament church or assembly:

• Acts 9:1-2: “Now Shaul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Master, went to the high priest, and asked for letters from him to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, both men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”

• Acts 19:8-9: “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.”

• Verse 23: “And about that time there arose no small disturbance concerning the way.”

• Acts 24:22: “But Felix, having a more exact knowledge about the way, put them off, saying, ‘When Lysias the commander comes down, I will decide your case.’”

Epiphanius, one of the church fathers, gives us an actual by-name for the New Testament people: the Nazarenes. His Panarion (generally known as the Refutation of All Heresies) was written during the period 374-376 CE. Panarion 29 is an extensive treatment of his sources and data on the Nazarenes, and the salient facts about them.

This is probably the earliest group of believers of which we have record outside of the New Testament Scriptures.


Traits of the New Testament Believers

Of these Nazarenes, he says: “They use both the Old and New Testaments, without excluding any books known to Epiphanius (7, 2). 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.’”

Epiphanius continues, “They have a good knowledge of Hebrew and read the Old Testament and at least one Evangel in that language. These Nazarenes ‘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 Ester and all the others, are read by them in Hebrew as in the case with the Jews, of course.’

“They have the entire Evangel of Matthew in Hebrew. It is carefully preserved by them in Hebrew letters.”

Jerome, a church father who translated the Bible into Latin, is another important source of early New Testament belief and practice. He 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.”

According to Jerome, these early New Testament followers of Yahshua, believed the following:

• They hold to a very high belief in Yahshua (i.e. virgin birth, pre-existence.) He was of divine sonship.

• They have a high regard of Paul and the ministry to the gentiles.

• They accept the Tanakh/Old Testament and New Testament.

They were not considered heretical until Epiphanius confused them with the Ebionites.

If there is a group to whom we can draw a connection to the very original assembly of the New Testament, it would be those known as the New Testament Nazarenes.

The New Testament is a continuation of the teachings of the Old, but with deeper understanding of Yahweh’s plan for His people. It emphasizes the reason for obedience and the sacrifice of the Messiah for sin when we don’t obey.

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

Unless we get the foundation right, the structure will be weak and will collapse in time. The foundation for the New Testament is the Old Testament. It is what our Savior taught from, it is what His followers believed, and it is what keeps proper worship on course when we follow His lead.

These fundamental truths go untaught in our day with fateful results.

“Hosea 4:6 prophesies, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy Elohim, I will also forget thy children.”

May we not be among those cut off by deliberately ignoring truth in the Sriptures. May we have the kind of respect for Yahweh that takes His word seriously. May we enter into the joy of our Master, Matthew 25:23.

Life is short; make the most of yours by living for Him.

When the Trumpet Sounds…

Yahweh sounded a trumpet to gain the people’s attention whenever He wanted to speak to them. The first time the Bible speaks of Yahweh’s sounding a trumpet was in offering His covenant to Israel. “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” (Ex. 19:16).

The trumpet continues to play an important part both in Israel’s history and in our future. The trumpet warns of danger and is a call to arms.

The trumpet was sounded as Israel broke camp and began their march. Blowing the trumpet felled the walls of Jericho, Joshua 6:4-13.

The trumpet sounded at the coronation of King Solomon (1Kings 1:39-40), pre-picturing Yahshua the Messiah.

The Messiah will return at the trumpet blast and bring in the greatest Jubilee, the ultimate and highest Jubilee of gladness, joy, plenty, healing, peace and righteousness.


The Victorious Blast

The seventh biblical month begins with the day of Trumpets, one of the annual holy days. Notice: “And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have an holy convocation; you shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing the trumpets unto you” (Num. 29:1).

The trumpet blast heralds an important event that is to take place, the greatest of which Yahweh foretells in biblical prophecy. We must pay special attention to the trumpet’s role in the prophecies of the latter days. Perhaps the functions of the trumpet will be brought forth again in the latter days.


That Conquering Sound

Joshua and his band of 300 sounded their trumpets to bring the downfall of Jericho: “And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams’ horns: and the seventh day you shall compass the city seven times, and the priests shall blow with the trumpets. And it shall come to pass, that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city shall fall down flat,” Joshua 6:4-5.

Whether there was an earthquake to flatten the walls of Jericho we are not certain. Jericho was devastated and Joshua conquered by the blowing of the trumpets as Yahweh had prescribed.

A similar circumstance will take place in the future. Notice what happens when our Savior returns: “For Yahshua himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of Yahweh: and the dead in Messiah shall rise first” (1Thess. 4:16).

The sounding of the trumpet and the shout of victory heralds the Savior’s return to this earth. Yahshua takes vengeance upon those who destroy the earth while gathering those who have died believing in Him, 1Thessalonians 4:14.

Evidence shows that our Savior may return on the day of Trumpets when the last trumpet is blown. This first day of the seventh biblical month is in the Jewish calendar the first day of the civil year, which they call “Rosh Hashana,” meaning the “head of the year.” According to the Bible, the religious year begins in the spring on the first of Abib (Nisan).


Trumpet Marks Solemnity

It is in the spring of the year, in the month of Abib (meaning “green ears of grain”) that Passover occurs. This is the start of our spiritual trek to the Kingdom when we accept the shed blood of the Lamb that takes away the sins of the world.

We then straighten out our beliefs, making sure they are in accord with the Bible as we feast upon the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Following that, we celebrate the Feast of Weeks, which commemorates the giving of the Law at Sinai and the coming of the Holy Spirit to enable us to keep the law.

Then comes the Feast of Trumpets on the first day of the seventh scriptural month when the trumpets are blown, followed by the day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. Trumpets begins the most solemn part of the scriptural year, for the next holy day is the day of Atonement, which is followed by the joyous Tabernacles.


Sabbatical Rest Cycle

Dedicated believers rightly keep the weekly scriptural Sabbath which Yahweh blessed and set apart for mankind’s worship in Genesis 2:2-3. We know the seventh-day Sabbath will again be kept when the Kingdom of Yahweh is set up on this earth, according to Isaiah 66:23, and which has not been changed or abrogated in spite of the teachings of churchianity.

A most ignored part of the covenant made with Israel at Mount Sinai was the observance of the seventh or Sabbatical year, Exodus 23:10-11. It is a year to let the land lie fallow and not to prune the olive tree or the grapevine, Leviticus 25:4. Note that this verse says that it is a Sabbath rest unto the land and a Sabbath for Yahweh! The Sabbatical-Jubilee cycle is an extension of the weekly Sabbath and also of the annual Sabbaths.

A New Testament command to keep the Sabbath even today is found in Hebrews: “There remains therefore a rest to the people of Yahweh” (Heb. 4:9). This “rest” is not limited to the seventh day. Verses 5 and 10 speak of entering into “His” rest, and “His” rest goes beyond even the Sabbatical every seven years and the Jubilee every fifty.

Many competent Bible scholars contend that Yahweh has allotted to mankind 6,000 years in which man attempts to rule himself by his own standards. Man is to work six days, and Yahweh says to Him a thousand years are as a day: “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4).

Six is man’s number. He was created on the sixth day. Six days man is to labor and do all his work, but the seventh day is Yahweh’s day when we honor Him.


666 as Opposed to Seven

The ultimate fulfillment of all that represents the worst in man is bound up in the number 666, found in Revelation 13. It is the number of the beast, or the “man of sin.” Without Yahweh’s laws and precepts man will ultimately record 6,000 years of utter failure in trying to establish a man-made Utopia on this earth.

While a modicum observe the seventh-day Sabbath, even fewer keep the annual Sabbaths in today’s world. The seventh-year land Sabbath is hardly kept anywhere today. It has been ignored and forgotten and uncertainty marks its keeping. The land we have control over is to be given a rest to Yahweh, Leviticus 25:4. It was also a time of release for Israel.

The Jubilee every 50 years, however, was to be proclaimed to all inhabitants of the land. Certainly there is much here which is overlooked by churchianity today. Why Israel first and the rest of mankind later? Why the special promise to those who attain the first resurrection? (Rev. 20:6) Is Israel still singled out as the channel of blessings to all the earth?


Sabbatical Similarities

The similarity between the Sabbatical-Jubilee cycle and the anticipated return of our Savior should thrill the student of Bible prophecy. Many prophecies of the Messiah’s return and the Jubilee year could easily be mistaken for the other.

Perhaps this is the way Yahweh reveals to His obedient children a secret kept from the foundation of the world. Surely Yahweh Elohim will do nothing, but He reveals his secret unto His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). If we are His children, His servants who obediently do what He has commanded, then the Scriptures will not be a mystery or an enigma to us.

By keeping His commandments, doing what pleases Him, we follow closely in the footsteps of His Son. We conform our minds and will to His, and continue to study to show ourselves approved, striving to have the mind of the Messiah.


Jubilee a High Point

Leviticus 25:9 reveals that the trumpet was to sound on the day of Atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month. This was to start the year of Jubilee, which came in the fall of the year just before the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast commemorated the harvest of the fruit, the oil, and the good things of the fall harvest. The Jubilee, we read in Leviticus 25:8, followed a Sabbath year. It was the seventh Sabbath year, following 49 years, and was held the fiftieth year, Leviticus 25:10-11.

The day of Atonement is a day of fasting and a very solemn occasion. No work is to be done. This was a hallowed time throughout the land. It was a time for proclaiming liberty to the captives. Every man was to return to his possession. Every man was to return to his family. No work was to be done in the fields for an entire year.

Because the Jubilee came every 50 years, the average Israelite would observe at least one Jubilee in his lifetime. If he celebrated his first one before he was 20, he would enjoy another when he lived his allotted three score and ten years (Ps. 90:10). A true blesing was to celebrate two Jubilee years. The year of Jubilee was a high point in the culture of Israel and was eagerly anticipated by Yahweh’s people.

We on this side of Golgotha should take a close look at the portent in the Jubilee year. The similarities to ancient Israel and to the Ekklesia are astounding.

Many analogies, types, and truths are found in the days that Yahweh has set apart for His worship. Keeping His Sabbaths as well as the annual holy days and becoming aware of the Sabbatical-Jubilee cycle keeps us in constant reminder of His great plan of redemption.

Keeping our hearts and minds on heavenly things helps correct our attitudes and behavior so that we forego worldly pleasures and allurements to seek the Kingdom and enter His rest.

Observing Yahweh’s Sabbaths helps us to keep His commandments as we walk in His truth. From the Saturday Sabbath we set apart a day each week to enter His rest. In fellowship with others of like faith, we joyfully study the Bible, reviewing and learning more of His way of life.


Yahshua’s Ministry a Sabbatical

Following His testing by Satan, Yahshua went into the synagogue and read a most poignant verse:

“The Spirit of Yahweh is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the evangel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of Yahweh. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him” (Luke 4:18-20).

The “acceptable year of Yahweh” is recognized by scholars as a Leviticus 25 reference to the Jubilee year. Every seventh year was a “year of release,” when a Hebrew who had become a bond servant could go free (Ex. 21:1-11). Possessions were returned to the original owner. At the Jubilee, freedom was restored to all.

In the Hebrew text of Isaiah 61, the “acceptable year” and the “day of vengeance” are combined. The first coming of Yahshua made available Yahweh’s favor and acceptance through His Son Yahshua. The second coming warns of coming judgment when the Messiah returns to judge the world and set up Yahweh’s Kingdom on earth.

That rest includes the preparation of this earth for the coming Kingdom as well as sanctifying a special people by releasing us from the cares of this mundane world. We become more attentive to things spiritual and walk on higher ground, seeking the refreshing of life to come.


Restoration of All Things

Before that happens there is to be a revival and turning back to Yahweh by a people who will seek to learn more of His ways and seek His truth in the Bible and apply it to their lives. This is our goal now, to seek His truth diligently and be guided thereby.

“Repent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of Yahweh; And he shall send Yahshua Messiah, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which Yahweh has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).

It is our understanding that the year 2015-2016 will be the next Sabbatical year, beginning on Atonement and ending on Atonement. This is based upon the year 69-70 C.E. as the Sabbatical, the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Evidence indicates that Yahshua began His ministry in the year 27-28 C.E. when He “preached the acceptable year” (Luke 4:19).

Strangely, it works out that even using our secular calendar, the Sabbatical years are divisible by seven. The years 28, 70 and 2016 are evenly divisible by seven.


What Can We Do Today?

During a Sabbatical year we do not plant or prune, but allow the ground to yield self-seeding plants such as lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, and of course the perennials such as strawberries, rhubarb, and fruit trees. These we can pick and consume but not freeze or store,  which applies to any food that grows of itself.

Not planting a garden may be a small thing in this busy, bustling country of plenty, but almost every day of the Sabbatical year we are reminded that this is a special year, the ground we rely on for our produce is to have rest, just as Yahweh’s people have weekly Sabbath rest.

During the Sabbatical we do not plow or till the soil.

Not planting a garden would take real dedication for ancient Israel when the entire nation was not growing any crops. Yet, Yahweh had made provision for this by commanding the sixth year to bring forth food for three years:

And if you shall say, What shall we eat the seventh year? behold, we shall not sow, nor gather in our increase: Then I will command my blessing upon you in the sixth year, and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And you shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in you shall eat of the old store (Lev. 25:20-22).


Jubilee Year Question

Exactly when the Jubilee year falls in today’s calendar is an enigma. After the return of Ezra and Nehemiah, the people were so determined to be obedient to Yahweh that He would bless them and they would not have to sell any of their land to redeem it on the Jubilee.

They believed that Yahweh would not allow them to become impoverished, and therefore there would be no need for a Jubilee, a year of release. The exact day of the Jubilee, therefore, had been lost.

It is our goal to restore these truths, which will be the norm in the coming Kingdom. May you turn your heart in full obedience to Yahweh so that you will better understand the deeper truth of the Sabbaths and not be caught unaware when that last great Trumpet sounds and Yahshua takes control of this earth.

For more info on the feast days including Feast of Trumpets please check out our free booklet: The Amazing Biblical Feasts

Hebrew Roots

Hebrew Roots of the Messianic Age

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As Patrick sat in the pew listening to his minister quote Old Testament passages in the New Testament, he began to wonder why so many ignore the Old Testament Scriptures. He said to himself, if my Savior and His apostles followed the Old Testament writings, shouldn’t we today? After the service he approached his minister and asked, “Why don’t we use the Old Testament more often?” The minister replied, with a look of concern, “We are now living under a new dispensation. The Old Testament was given to the Jews and the New Testament to the church.”

Even though this account is fictional, there are many like Patrick with this same key question. Why do so many today view the Old Testament and the Hebraic faith as obsolete? Why does churchianity accept the authority of the New Testament, but dismiss its foundation, which is the Old Testament?

We will explore this question now and explain why the church deviated from its Hebraic roots. We will also reveal why the promise in the New Testament is Hebraic and not Grecian, as so many assume today. We’ll see evidence from the Bible that the Messiah and His apostles, including Paul, held the Old Testament as authoritative and were law observant. Buckle up and brace yourself for a spiritual journey that will unravel years of man-made tradition.

‘I Come to Fulfill’

Ironically, one of the easiest methods of confirming the church’s connection to the Old Testament and to its Hebraic faith is through Christian scholarship. Even though many ministers will gloss over the origins of the church, scholars and historians freely acknowledge its connection to the Old Testament.

Author Paul D. Wegner in his book, The Journey from Text to Translation, states: “The word old when it refers to the Old Testament, is not derogatory, nor does it mean the Old Testament is obsolete. Jesus [Yahshua] himself said, ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them’…Initially early Christians and Jews both worshipped in synagogues (Acts 3:1; 4:1; 5:42; 6:9-10; 13:14-15, 42; 14:1; 17:1-2), using the same books of Scripture, namely, the Old Testament,” p. 32.

What an amazing admission! This author confirms that the term “Old Testament” is not to be viewed negatively or as obsolete. As evidence for this, he refers to Matthew 5:17, where the Messiah confirms that He came not to destroy but to fulfill the law.
The word “fulfill” in this passage comes from the Greek pleroo. Strong’s defines this word as, “to make replete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction).” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon provides this definition, “…used to fulfil, that is, to cause God’s will (as made known in the law) to be obeyed as it should be, and God’s promises (given through the prophets) to receive fulfilment.”

Yahshua came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill, i.e., to obey and follow it (establish it, Greek Diaglott). An example of this fact is found in Matthew 3:14-15: “But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Yahshua answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.”

The word “fulfill” here is from the same Greek word pleroo. Here it refers to Yahshua’s obedience to the act of baptism. This, along with many other passages, confirms that the Messiah’s intent was never to make the law obsolete. He came to set the example as an obedient Son to His Father and a Savior to mankind.

Only Through the Old Testament

This reference goes on to state that both the Jews and early New Testament believers worshiped in the synagogues together using the same book, i.e., the Old Testament. This concept that the Old Testament is no longer valid is simply not true. Not only is it binding, but the Messiah and His apostles viewed it as the foundation of Scripture. Therefore, those who argue that the Old Testament is no longer necessary are rejecting a significant part of Yahshua’s own ministry.

It is to this point that authors Alan Johnson and Robert Webber state, “In Jesus’ [Yahshua’s] attitude toward the Old Testament one can glean a considerable range of information on his understanding of the nature and authority of the Bible. He either quotes or alludes to the Old Testament more than 150 times in the Synoptic Gospels alone. He thus exhibits a deep respect for the Bible…. Using the threefold division of the Old Testament familiar to his audience he sweepingly affirmed that the whole Old Testament had a bearing on his mission. Nothing was excluded,” What Christians Believe – A Biblical and Historical Summary, pp. 23-24.

Yahshua’s Faith in the Old Testament

This reference affirms a very important fact. Yahshua viewed the Old Testament as authoritative and part of the inspired Word. He used the Old Testament writings to establish His position and purpose. Such evidence cannot be understated. As these authors succinctly stated, “Nothing was excluded.”

If churches today understood these crucial facts many of today’s erroneous beliefs would not exist. If they understood the faith of their Savior, they would freely recognize the significance of the Old Testament and teach it to their congregations.
Author Earle E. Cairns corroborates this conclusion in his book, Christianity Through the Centuries: “Christianity may have developed in the political milieu of Rome and may have had to face the intellectual environment created by the Greek mind, but its relationship to Judaism was much more intimate. Judaism may be thought of as the stalk on which the rose of Christianity was to bloom…. Judaism provided the heredity of Christianity and, for a time, even gave the infant religion shelter…. The Jewish people still further prepared the way for the coming of Christianity by providing the infant Church with a sacred book, the Old Testament. Even a casual study of the New Testament will reveal Christs’ and the apostles’ deep indebtedness to the Old Testament and their reverence for it as the Word of [Yahweh] to man…. The books of the Old Testament and the books of the New Testament, given under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were to be the living literature of the Church,” pp. 44-46.
Even though the early church had to deal with Rome and the Greek culture, its relationship is most closely tied to Judaism. This statement cannot be overemphasized. Without Judaism or the Old Testament there would be no assembly or New Testament.

Therefore, to state that we are now living under a new dispensation, i.e., the New Testament, and free from that archaic Old Testament could not be further from the truth. Christianity’s roots are deeply grounded in the faith given to Abraham. Those who ignore this fact ignore the origins of their faith.

Interestingly, the Roman Empire initially made little distinction between Judaism and the New Testament assembly. Believers in the Messiah were simply seen as another sect of Judaism. It was not until the Church began to pull away from Judaism that Rome became suspicious and began to persecute Christianity. Rome respected ancient traditions. This is why they exempted the Jews from certain requirements, including of worship of state deities and temple sacrifices. However, once the church began to form its own identity, they no longer enjoyed many of the conveniences provided to the Jews.

Old Testament’s Messianic Prophecies

Perhaps the most important connection between the Messiah and the Hebraic faith is the many Messianic prophecies found in the Old Testament. It was upon this ancient text that the Messiah and His apostles hung their ministry.
One of the earliest references to the Messiah is found in Deuteronomy 15, “Yahweh thy Elohim will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desiredst of Yahweh thy Elohim in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of Yahweh my Elohim, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And Yahweh said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him,” verses 15-18.

This prophecy pertains to the Messiah. Evidence for this fact is in Acts 7:37. Why is this passage important or possibly more significant than other Messianic prophecies? First, Moses draws a parallel between him and the coming Savior. Second, like Moses, this coming Messiah would speak Yahweh’s Word and command authority.

This second point is noteworthy, as it conveys that Yahshua has the ability to interpret and even provide commandments in the New Testament. We find many examples of Yahshua commanding by enhancing or clarifying Yahweh’s Word. One example is found in the beatitudes where He states that to even look and lust after a woman was the same as committing adultery. This authority would have also extended to rules regarding worship, as we find for instance in 1Corinthians 11, where Paul commands that men leave their heads uncovered and ladies cover their heads during times of formal worship. After all, Yahshua instructed all the apostles, including Paul, who received His message by direct revelation, Galatians 1:12, 17-18.
Therefore, this Old Testament prophecy not only provides evidence for the Messiah’s coming, but also the depth and scope of His message and authority. This last point is especially important considering the many commandments He personally gave in the New Testament.

Of the prophets in the Old Testament, possibly the one to provide the most insight into the Messiah is Isaiah. From this prophet we have prophecies regarding Yahshua’s first and second comings. This includes the Messiah who would come and die for the sins of mankind and the Messiah who will return to establish Yahweh’s Kingdom on earth.

One of the most pivotal prophecies regarding his First Coming is Isaiah 7:14. It reads, “Therefore Yahweh himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

This prophecy focuses on the Messiah’s birth. It states that He would be born of a virgin. From the first chapter in Matthew, the Bible confirms that Mary was a virgin when she conceived Yahshua. She was engaged or betrothed to Joseph, Yahshua’s legal father, but they had not yet fulfilled their nuptials. Instead of natural conception, the Bible records that the Messiah was conceived through the Holy Spirit. On this point it’s important to note that the Holy Spirit represents the Father’s power and is not a separate entity. If the Holy Spirit were a separate being, it (or he) would have been the father of Yahshua and not Yahweh.
Isaiah also mentioned that He would be called “Immanuel,” meaning, “El with us.” In point of fact, this is not a proper name, but a title expressing Yahshua’s future role within the millennial Kingdom. During this future time, He will reign and govern this earth with righteousness, Isaiah 11:1-5 and Revelation 20:6. Also, those from the first resurrection will assist him as a kingdom of priests,Revelation 5:10.

Perhaps the greatest Messianic prophecy is found in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah. There the prophet delivers a powerful prophetic message that is still heard over many pulpits today. He describes the suffering Messiah.

“He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of Elohim, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Yahweh hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities,” Isaiah 53:3-11.

This prophecy was written some 700 years before the Common Era and was pivotal for the Messiah and the apostles in the New Testament. Here are some highlights. Through this prophecy we find evidence that the Messiah looked like any other Jew. This certainly discounts the common portrayal of the Messiah that displays Yahshua as a tall European with long flowing hair. Most Jews during the first century were of olive or darker skin color with short curly hair.

It also confirms here that Yahshua died to pay the penalty of sin for many. This is the central message of Yahshua’s ministry. Through His sacrifice we find justifications from our previous iniquities. Simply put, without Yahshua and His sacrifice, we would all be left in our sins without any Savior or recourse. Amazingly, this crucial message is rooted in the Old Testament.
The first chapter of John confirms that the Jews rejected Yahshua as the Messiah. However, long before John, Isaiah prophesied of this outcome when he stated that He would be “opposed.” Throughout His Ministry, He was not only rejected, but He would eventually die for His message. Matter of fact, He was condemned for doing nothing more than telling the truth, which is also found in this prophecy.

In addition to these, there are many other insightful points that we could glean from this passage. Isaiah, along with many other Old Testament prophets, provides a treasure trove of information about the Messiah. In fact, according to biblical scholars there are 300-400 unique prophecies in the Old Testament pertaining to the Messiah and His Second Coming.

Messiah Loyal to the Old Testament

Once we understand the depth of this truth, it’s impossible to ignore the importance of the words given to Moses and the prophets. The fact is, without the Old Testament, the Messiah and the apostles would have been without any way to substantiate their position or authority. For this reason the Old Testament is indispensable to the faith of the New Testament.
The Messiah throughout His ministry also confirmed His deep loyalty to the Old Testament. For instance, in Luke 24:44 He used the Old Testament to confirm His position as the Messiah. He stated, “These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.” The Messiah Yahshua verifies His teachings from the pages of the Old Testament. He conveys to His apostles that all things had to be fulfilled according to the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the Psalms. Incidentally, these are the three divisions of the Old Testament.

If the Old Testament were not relevant to the Messiah and the apostles, why then does He refer to this ancient source as confirmation for His resurrection and position as the Messiah? Contrary to the assumptions of many, the only book accessible at this time was the Old Testament. The entire foundation of who Yahshua was and what He taught was founded in the text given to Moses and the prophets.

Another example of this profound connection is found in the transfiguration. “And after six days Yahshua taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Eliyah talking with him,”Matthew 17:1-3.

It’s important to begin here by acknowledging that this was a vision the apostles witnessed. The question is, why did Moses and Eliyah appear with Yahshua and what did they represent? The meaning is clear: Moses represented the law and Eliyah the prophets. Together, they verified Yahshua as the Messiah from the law and prophets. This is one more example confirming Yahshua’s position from the Old Testament. The fact is, Yahshua relied exclusively on these Hebrew writings throughout His Ministry.

With such indubitable evidence, it’s a wonder that so many are opposed to the Old Testament. Do we not desire to worship as Yahshua worshiped? Do we not desire to follow in our Savior’s examples? If we do we must then not divorce ourselves from the Old Testament, but view it as the foundation of our faith.

This departure is why so many churches and ministers have deviated and missed the mark of sound biblical doctrine. For example, Yahshua kept the Sabbath, Feast days and dietary food laws. After His death, the apostles did the same. However, today these foundational teachings have been forgotten and replaced with non-biblical, Greco-Roman, beliefs. If we care about following the truth that the Messiah delivered to His apostles, we then must reconsider much of what is taught in mainstream worship.

Paul’s ‘Autobiography’ Claims Perfect Law Adherence

The Apostle Paul is credited more than any other Bible writer as starting a new faith from what was delivered in the Old Testament. Most clerics assert that he was anti-law and introduced a new belief system that was more palatable to his gentile coverts. Is this true? Do we find evidence from the New Testament that Paul began a religion that diverged from the Old Testament?

In the third chapter of Philippians he provides somewhat of an autobiography in which he describes his faith. He writes, “Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the assembly; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Messiah,” verses 5-7.

This passage provides great insight as to who the Apostle Paul was before and after his conversion. As with any other good Jew, he was circumcised on the eighth day. He was from the tribe of Benjamin and considered himself a Hebrew of the Hebrews. This repetition shows his emphasis on his Hebraic upbringing. He was also a Pharisee and claims to have kept the law perfectly and was without blemish. He had so much passion and zeal for his Jewish faith that he even persecuted those in the Messiah, including consenting to the death of Deacon Stephen and imprisoning many believers.

Now after coming to the knowledge of the Messiah, he counted everything else as worthless or a loss. He realized that salvation could not be earned, but came only through faith in Yahshua the Messiah. This change in focus was seen throughout his epistles.

The question is, did this change alter his faith and religious devotion? This is what the vast majority in the church believe, but does this square with the Bible? It’s true that Paul viewed salvation differently after coming to the knowledge of the Messiah, but not once did he forsake the commandments or his Hebraic roots.

One of the best ways to establish Paul’s commitment to the Old Testament is to examine his life after his conversion. The difference between what is heard today in most churches and what is actually stated in the Bible may shock you.

Paul’s Vow and the Law After His Conversion

One of the first challenges Paul faced after coming to the knowledge of the Messiah was from the other apostles. In the twenty-first chapter of Acts he is asked specifically whether he was against the Law of Moses. This question was the result of rumors circulating about Paul.

“And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things Elohim had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. And when they heard it, they glorified Yahweh, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest 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 thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; Them take, and purify thyself 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 thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law,” verses 18-24.

Soon after his conversion Paul was suspected of teaching against the Old Testament commandments. To show that he was not opposed to the Law, James suggested that he participate in a vow, most likely a Nazarite vow.

If Paul’s intent were to begin a new faith, here was the perfect opportunity to straighten out his fellow apostles by explaining that the commandments were no longer necessary and that salvation was by faith alone now. But he agreed to participate in this vow, showing his observance of the commandments.

Amazingly, the belief that Paul opposed Old Testament law is still held by most ministers today. Even though Paul agrees to verify his adherence to the commandments, most continue to overlook that fact and perpetuate this false notion about Paul.
In Acts 24:14 he again reaffirms his commitment to the faith delivered in the Old Testament: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.”

The word heresy here is equivalent to the word cult. Even though many viewed Paul as deviating from his former foundation and now was in a cult, he fully acknowledged the faith of his forefathers. He firmly professed that he believed all things written in the law and in the prophets.

How is it possible that he believed all things in the Old Testament and yet taught a brand new religion based on Greco-Roman ideas? Obviously such a notion does not hold up to the scrutiny of Scripture. To state otherwise is to contradict Paul’s own statement! As people misunderstood and misinterpreted Paul during his own day, the same occurs today.

Paul was not an advocate of a new religion; instead he surrendered himself to his childhood faith. He embraced his Hebraic roots, including the law and the prophets. The only difference before and after his conversion involved his view of the Messiah and the impact this had on salvation.

As seen in his autobiography, prior to coming to the knowledge of Yahshua, Paul considered himself a Pharisee. He was proud of his devotion to the law and believed his efforts made him worthy of salvation. After coming to the Messiah, he realized that works were not enough.

Harmonizing Faith and Law

The question is, did this newfound revelation radically change Paul’s view on the Law?

He answers this question in the third chapter of Romans: “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. Is he the Elohim of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one Elohim, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not: yea, we establish the law,”Romans 3:27-31.

Even though Paul understood that a believer was justified by faith apart from works, he also understood that this did not revoke the need for obedience to the law. In verse 31 he states that believers are to establish the law. The word “establish” comes from the Greek histemi. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this word as, “…to establish a thing, to cause it to stand, to uphold or sustain the authority or force of anything.”

Notice that this definition conveys the thought-sustaining authority of a thing. In this instance it’s referring to the authority of the Old Testament commandments. So while a person may not be justified through the Law, this does not negate or remove our obligation to obey. The law is a measuring stick that defines right living. When we remove that measuring stick we have no way to measure what is right and wrong.

Sadly, this is exactly what has occurred in our culture today. Years ago people looked to the Bible as the absolute source of truth and morality. Today this is no longer the case. People now believe that truth is a personal preference. For example, many see nothing wrong with living together out of wedlock or two people of the same gender marrying. Because society no longer acknowledges sin and the Bible as the standard of morality, such examples of sin are now tolerated and even paraded.
From this passage and many others like it, Paul explains that faith and law are not diametrically opposed but complement each other. Faith brings us to Messiah through repentance and justification, and the Law provides a method of sanctification, i.e., the process by which a believer is found righteous. The Law is more than a random set of rules, but is a blueprint for virtue and morality.

First to the Jew

Another way of viewing the importance of the Old Testament is to understand Yahweh’s plan of salvation. The truth was first delivered to Israel. This is a historical fact! Only afterwards was it brought to the gentiles or those outside of Israel. Paul confirms this in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the good news of Messiah: for it is the power of Elohim unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Paul is speaking here about salvation and confirms that it was first delivered to the Jews, representing Israel, in the form of the Old Testament and later it was given to the gentiles. Contrary to what some believe, salvation along with the many other concepts did not originate in the New Testament. These truths were firmly established first in the Old Testament.
For example, the word “salvation” is found 119 times in the Old Testament of the King James Bible. The word “faith” is found twice, i.e., Deuteronomy 32:20 and Habakkuk 2:4. Remarkably, Paul in Romans 1:17 quotes Habakkuk when describing the “righteousness of faith.”

Similarly, we find the word “grace” mentioned 39 times from Genesis through Zechariah. It first appears in Genesis 6:8 in reference to Noah. If not for this man finding grace, all the human race would have been destroyed through the flood. Yahweh’s divine favor on Noah led to the preservation of mankind.

These examples illustrate that the message of salvation and redemption was first delivered to Israel in the Old Testament. It also verifies that these core concepts are not Grecian, but Hebraic in origin. As seen earlier, the assembly blossomed from the Hebrew faith. This was, and remains, its foundation.

Many have the impression that after the death of the Messiah these promises were transferred from the Jews to the church. They were not transferred, but extended. In other words, the church or more properly, the assembly or congregation, did not replace Israel, but was absorbed into Israel.

Israelites Defined

Paul confirms this truth in two key passages in Romans. There he describes the attributes of a true believer and the process by which the gentiles are grafted into the Hebraic promise. For nearly 2,000 years this truth has been hidden by the church.
Many believe that the church replaced Israel in the New Testament. Theologians call it “replacement theology.” This doctrine wipes the New Testament clean of its Hebraic roots, something that the apostles never intended or taught.

In one of the most insightful verses, Paul in Romans 9:4 describes a believer as an Israelite and provides several key attributes. It reads, “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of Elohim, and the promises.”

Notice that Paul does not use the word “Christian,” but “Israelite” to describe a New Testament believer or disciple of the Messiah. In addition, he provides six characteristics that all believers have in common.

The first attribute mentioned is the “adoption.” This word derives from the Greek huiothesia and refers to sonship. In Exodus 4:22, Israel is called Yahweh’s son and firstborn. It’s important to note that this adoption began with Israel in the Old Testament and was then extended through Messiah to the gentiles in the New Testament (that is not to state that non-Israelites could not be grafted also in the Old Testament). As Paul confirms in Ephesians 2:15, through Yahshua’s death and resurrection He made Jew and gentile into “one new man.”

The second characteristic mentioned is “glory.” This is from the Greek doxa, which offers a very broad definition. One of the definitions provided by Thayer’s Greek Lexicon states, “the glorious condition of blessedness into which is appointed and promised that true [believers] shall enter after their Savior’s return from heaven.” This refers to the reward or splendor that those in the Messiah will receive when Yahshua returns to establish His Kingdom.

The third attribute is “covenants.” This word comes from the Greek diatheke and means, “a disposition, i.e. (specially) a contract,” (Strong’s). Notice that this word is used in the plural, which confirms that the faith of the Messiah and the apostles was based not only on the wirings of the New Testament, but also on those covenants that preceded it, namely the Old Testament.

Even though the Old and New testaments are the two main covenants, there are several minor covenants also mentioned, including: the Adamic (Gen. 1:26-30, 2:16-17), the Noahic (Gen. 9:11), the Abrahamic (Gen. 12:1-3), and the Davidic (2Sam. 7:8-16). While each of these covenants contains different assurances, each of them required obedience and faith in Yahweh.
The fourth characteristic is the “giving of the law.” This phrase derives from the Greek nomothesia and refers to “legislation (specifically, the institution of the Mosaic code)” (Strong’s). Paul says that part of being a believer includes keeping the law given to Moses. Considering today’s aversion to the Torah, it’s surprising that Paul provides this attribute. Even more remarkable is the fact that so many ministers miss it.

The fifth attribute is the “service of Elohim.” This refers to the ministration or method of worship, including the rights and ordinances in the Old Testament. Even though many of these rites have changed through Yahshua’s sacrifice, as believers we continue to offer spiritual sacrifices. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to Elohim by Yahshua Messiah,” 1Peter 2:5.

The final characteristic is the “promises.” This word comes from the Greek epaggelia and denotes “an announcement (for information, assent or pledge; especially a divine assurance of good)” (Strong’s). The good news in the New Testament is twofold: 1) Salvation through Yahshua and 2) the promise of the coming Kingdom.

Some will contend that these six attributes are not speaking about believers today, but are a summary of Old Testament Israel. Paul lays this theory to rest in verse six where he states, “…For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.”

This statement by Paul might seem confusing, however, his point is quite simple. He’s confirming that not all native-born Israelites are true Israelites. In other words, he’s making a distinction between nationality and religious practice. As Revelation 12:17 and14:12 verify, an Israelite (representing a New Testament believer) is one who keeps the commandments of Yahweh and holds to the faith of Yahshua. If we neglect either one we disqualify ourselves as believers. This includes natural born Israelite and gentiles.

Parable of the Olive Tree

Paul also speaks to this Israelite connection in Romans 11. He describes there the process by which believers are grafted into the promise. This is one of the most important New Testament principles. While many churches teach that the church has replaced Israel, Paul teaches that the assembly is grafted into the promise given to Israel.

To ensure that we understand Paul’s message in its entirety, we will review verses 13-22: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if Elohim spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of Elohim: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”

Even though Paul was an apostle to the gentiles, he still had a concern for his people. It was his hope that some of his fellow Israelite brethren would come to know and accept Yahshua as the one true Messiah. The fact that many Jews refused to accept Yahshua allowed gentiles to enter the fold through the process of being grafted in.

This same message is also found in Yahshua’s parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22:1-14. Because His first guests (Israel) refused to come (symbolizing their rejection of Yahshua), the king (Yahweh) sent His servants (the apostles) into the highways to find those who would come (the gentiles).

As seen in both Paul’s metaphor of the olive tree and Yahshua’s parable of the wedding banquet, Yahweh is now calling gentiles into the promise. This is because of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah. In Paul’s analogy of the olive tree he states that the root and branches are holy. The root symbolizes the Hebraic promise given to Abraham and the branches represent natural Israel. He also mentions wild olive branches. These symbolize the gentile believers who are grafted into this Hebraic promise.

Through this analogy, Paul attests to the following: The root of the New Testament is grounded in the Old Testament; not all natural-born Israelites were cast aside or rejected by the Messiah; and instead of replacing Israel, the gentiles are spliced into the promise given to Abraham.

Heirs of Abraham

Interestingly, the patriarch Abraham is a pivotal figure in both Old and New testaments. Paul in the third chapter of Galatians explains his connection to the New Testament: “For as many of you as have been baptized into Messiah have put on Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Messiah Yahshua. And if ye be Messiah’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise,” verses 27-29.

Paul begins by saying that baptism represents the death of our old man and the birth of a new creature. Through this symbolic process of death and rebirth, we also share in the likeness of His resurrection at His Second Coming. Within the context of salvation, Paul also says that there’s no discrimination within the body of Messiah. This includes nationality, social status, and gender.

He closes here by focusing on Abraham. He confirms those immersed into Yahshua’s Name are also heirs of Abraham. The word “heirs” comes from the Greek kleronomos. According to the Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, this word “denotes one who obtains a lot or portion (kleros, ‘a lot,’ nemomai, ‘to possess’), especially of an inheritance.”

Even though the adoption occurs through baptism into Yahshua’s Name, the inheritance refers to the promise given to Abraham. Scripture states that all the families of the earth would be blessed through this man, Genesis 28:14. This occurs in two ways: to Abraham was given the covenant; and through his seed was born Yahshua the Messiah, the Savior of mankind.
This tie to Abraham shows unequivocally a connection and continuity between the Old and New testaments. The belief that the Old Testament was only for Israel and the New Testament only for the church could not be further from the truth. The Messiah and the apostles viewed the Old Testament as inspired and authoritative.

Benefits of Being of Judah

In addition to the blessings provided by Abraham, the New Testament provides a similar benefit for the Jews. In the third chapter of Romans, Paul gives one major reason why today’s believers should respect the Jews, “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of Elohim,” verses 1-2.

Even though Paul mentions only the Jews, it’s important to acknowledge that Yahweh’s law was given to all twelve tribes and not just to Judah, the Jewish people. However, what is special about the Jews is that they preserved Yahweh’s Word throughout the ages.

Unlike the northern kingdom, which broke away during the reign of Rehoboam, Judah (representing the tribes of Judah and Benjamin) continued to uphold the Scriptures. In fact, this is why the New Testament focuses on the Jews instead of Israel collectively. Because they were the only ones observing Yahweh’s Word, by proxy they represented all twelve tribes.

The word “oracles” here comes from the Greek logion and means, “an utterance of Yahweh.” This refers to the Old Testament commandments given by Yahweh to Moses. If the law is no longer necessary in the New Testament, why is Paul even mentioning these commandments in the Book of Romans? Obviously, he understood that the commandments were still relevant in the New Testament.

The Messiah too confirms a special connection to the Jews. He states, “…for salvation is of the Jews,” John 4:22.
Prior to this statement Yahshua had gone to Sychar, a city in the land of Samaria. While there, he met a Samaritan woman near a well. This woman explained to Yahshua that while the Jews worshiped in Jerusalem that her people worshiped in this mountain. She was referring to Mount Gerizim, near this Samaritan city.

Yahshua replied by explaining that there was coming a day when believers would not exclusively worship in Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem, but would worship Yahweh in spirit and truth. He prophesied that this saying would be fulfilled in that day. This statement by Yahshua is prophetic and confirms that worship is no longer isolated to one location.

So what did Yahshua mean when He said, “…salvation is of the Jews?” Often Scripture provides for more than one application. This passage is an example of this usage. Yahshua confirmed the authority of the Old Testament and the entrustment of the law to the Jews (again, representing Israel collectively). In addition, He also spoke of His own position as the Savior of mankind. Both of these truths are central to the faith of the New Testament.

Like the Apostle Paul, it was never Yahshua’s intent to begin a new faith from what He learned as a child. He came to strengthen the Word, not demolish it. Yahshua embraced His Hebraic roots, as should all believers today. As disciples of the Messiah it’s important to understand that when we deviate from the promise that Yahweh gave to Israel we also deviate from the faith of our Savior and the apostles.

Becoming a Jew Inwardly

In Romans 2:25-29, Paul explains that there are two types of Jews. “For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of Elohim,” verses 25-29. This circumcision is not a surgical procedure, but a way of life.

Paul is making an important distinction between Jews by birth and Jews by faith. When he speaks about the circumcision, he’s referring to natural Jews or Israelites. Conversely, when he speaks about the uncircumcision, he’s referring to non-Jews or gentiles.

He says that when the uncircumcision (gentiles) obey the commandments that their uncircumcision becomes circumcision and that they are now inward Jews. What an amazing revelation! Specifically, what’s the difference between an outward Jew and an inward Jew? An outward Jew is a native-born Israelite. An inward Jew is a believer (whether Jew or gentile) who accepts both the commandments and the faith of Yahshua the Messiah.

Dominion of the Law

As mentioned earlier, Paul was not against the commandments. He understood the need for the influence of the law within society. He explains in Romans 7:1, “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?”

The word “dominion” comes from the Greek kurieuo and according to Strong’s means “to rule.” Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words expands upon this definition. It reads, “to be lord over, rule over, have dominion over (akin to A, No. 2), is used of (a) divine authority over men, Rom 14:9, ‘might be Lord’; (b) human authority over men, Luke 22:25, ‘lordship,’ 1 Tim 6:15, ‘lords’ (RV, marg., ‘them that rule as lords’); (c) the permanent immunity of Christ from the ‘dominion’ of death, Rom 6:9; (d) the deliverance of the believer from the ‘dominion’ of sin, Rom 6:14; (e) the ‘dominion’ of law over men, Rom 7:1; (f) the ‘dominion’ of a person over the faith of other believers, 2 Cor 1:24 (RV, ‘lordship’).”

Based on the above definitions, how is it possible for the law both to have dominion and to be obsolete? These contradictory notions cannot both be right. From the evidence the truth regarding the commandments should be obvious. Not only are they relevant, but they also have authority over us.

Paul illustrates this point in verse seven, “…I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou Shalt Not Covet.” The same question could be asked of any number of laws in the Old Testament, including commandments pertaining to theft, adultery, and murder.

The point that he understood and so many miss today is that Yahweh’s commandments are for the well-being of mankind and are not to our detriment.

In verse 12, he continues, “…the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Surely, Paul not only expresses the significance of the commandments here, but also its benefits. He understood that the law was a reflection of our Heavenly Father’s own ethics and values. When we embrace and obey them, we will prosper and be blessed.

Yahshua the Messiah Observed the Sabbath

Along with those commandments dealing with morality, Scripture teaches that Yahshua and His apostles, including Paul, also observed laws pertaining to proper worship, including the Sabbath and Feasts.

Even though most in the church today see these days as obsolete and accept replacing them with pagan holidays such as Easter and Christmas, they are incredibly important to our Creator Yahweh and to His Son, Yahshua the Messiah.

Based on the New Testament, the Messiah and His apostles observed the Sabbath and Feasts. Consider the following examples showing Sabbath observance:
“And he said unto them, the sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Master also of the sabbath,” Mark 2:27-28. Prior to His stating this, the Pharisees reprimanded Yahshua for allowing His apostles to pick ears of grain as they walked through a grain field on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were guilty of adding many man-made laws to Yahweh’s Word through their Talmud, which was a record of their traditions.

In fact, this rabbinic reference adds 39 additional laws to the Sabbath alone, including specific laws regarding sowing, plowing, reaping, binding, weaving, tying, untying, tearing, etc. It’s important to realize that all these rabbinic traditions are nowhere to be found in Scripture. Similar to some Christian denominations, many Jews believe they have the authority to add to the Bible.
Even though intentions may have been honorable, through their man-made laws they made the Sabbath a burden and missed the entire point. Yahshua said that the Sabbath was made for man. In other words, the Sabbath was created as a blessing to man by allowing one day of rest. This statement is certainly not expressing the abolishment of the Sabbath. A similar account is also found in the twelfth chapter of Matthew.

In Mark 6:2 Yahshua again shows His commitment to the Sabbath, “And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands?”

The argument has been made that the Messiah worshiped in the synagogue on the Sabbath because He was Jewish and He was trying to reach His Jewish kinsmen. While both of these points are true, it’s untrue that this was His main motivation. His reason for worshiping on the Sabbath was quite simple, it was a command by His Heavenly Father and He kept all of Yahweh’s commands,John 14:31.

If more people would only acknowledge Yahweh’s Word and ignore the millennia of tradition that the church has wrongly established, we would see a transformation to proper worship surpassing even the Great Awakening. It’s time that we as believers wake up and realize the Hebraic roots of our faith. It is time to understand that the tenets delivered in the Old Testament are the same as found in the New Testament. Everything about the Old and New testaments is Israelite based, because the covenant was given to Israel, and to have a part in it means to be grafted into Israel.

Paul Also Observed the Sabbath

What’s more striking and convincing than the Messiah observing the Sabbath is the fact that Paul also observed this day long after Yahshua’s death and ascension to heaven. We find three key examples in the book of Acts, also known as Acts of the Apostles. It’s called this because within this mountain of a book we find how the apostles understood and observed their New Testament faith.

The first example is in Acts 13, “Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down,” verses 13-14.

Now why would Paul and his company observe the Sabbath? The answer should be obvious, they believed in the Sabbath. If the Sabbath was not important, then what would be the reason for Paul’s continued commitment to this day?
A second instance is found in Acts 17:2: “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.”

It states here that it was Paul’s “manner” to worship on the seventh-day Sabbath. This word derives from the Greek word ethos and refers to a habit or custom that is either of a personal conviction or by command. Strong’s defines ethos as, “a usage (prescribed by habit or law).” In this case, while it was Paul’s custom, his conformance to the Sabbath was based on biblical law. Paul obeyed the Sabbath because it was a command from his Creator!

Another important fact is the timeframe from Yahshua’s resurrection. This account took place some 20 years after Yahshua’s death and resurrection. Did Paul miss the memo that the Sabbath was no longer necessary? Of course not, he understood the Sabbath was still obligatory for him and other believers. This shows beyond all uncertainty that the Sabbath never changed for the apostles.

It also confirms that he reasoned in the synagogue for “three Sabbath days.” This phrase refers to three consecutive Sabbaths. From this example there should be no question as to Paul’s continued commitment to the seventh-day Sabbath.

A final witness is found in Acts 18:4. “And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”

The Apostle Paul observed every Sabbath. Perhaps if Paul only kept the Sabbath occasionally a person could argue that it wasn’t that crucial to him. However, we see here something entirely different. He kept every Sabbath holy.

It’s also significant to understand what he was doing on the Sabbath. Besides worshiping his Father in Heaven, he persuaded both Jews and Greeks. His persuading the Jews should be obvious, but what about Greeks? If the Sabbath were strictly for the Jews and the Hebrews why are Greeks in attendance?

So that there’s no confusion regarding the word “Greeks,” this word comes from the Greek hellen. Strong’s defines the Greek as “an inhabitant of Hellas; by extension a Greek-speaking person, especially a non-Jew.”

The reason they were worshiping on the Sabbath is simple: the Sabbath day never changed.

Based on the above passages, there is no doubt as to which day Paul worshiped. Perhaps even more remarkable, not once does Acts or any other New Testament book show him or the other apostles worshiping on Sunday.

Many will argue that Paul was doing this only because he was a Jew or Israelite. However, the biblical record shows otherwise. This is certainly more than a habit he learned as a child. It was a full-fledged conviction based on his understanding of Scripture.

The fact is, the word Sabbath is mentioned 60 times in the King James Version of the New Testament. Conversely, the “first day” is mentioned only 12 times and not once does it mean a Sunday observance.

Scholarly Confessions

Scholars in many different denominations freely acknowledge that the Sabbath was not changed in the Bible, but only through the dictates of the Roman Church. For example, consider the following sources directly from the Roman Church:
“It is well to remind the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and all other Christians, that the Bible does not support them anywhere in their observance of Sunday. Sunday is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, and those who observe the day observe a commandment of the Catholic Church” (Priest Brady, in an address, reported in the Elizabeth, NJ News on March 18, 1903).

“Deny the authority of the Church and you have no adequate or reasonable explanation or justification for the substitution of Sunday for Saturday in the Third (Protestant Fourth) Commandment of G-d… The Church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact’’ (Catholic Record, September 1, 1923).
“Of course these two old quotations are exactly correct. The Catholic Church designated Sunday as the day for corporate worship and gets full credit – or blame – for the change” (“This Rock,” The Magazine of Catholic Apologetics and Evangelization, p. 8, June 1997).

Here are additional statements from Lutheran sources:

• “They [the Catholics] allege the Sabbath changed into Sunday, the Lord’s day, contrary to the Decalogue (10 commandments), as it appears, neither is there any example more boasted of than the changing of the Sabbath day. Great, say they, is the power and authority of the church, since it dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments” (Augsburg Confession of Faith, Art. 28, par. 9).

• “The Christians in the ancient church very soon distinguished the first day of the week, Sunday; however, not as a Sabbath, but as an assembly day of the church, to study the Word of G-d together, and to celebrate the ordinances one with another: without a shadow of doubt, this took place as early as the first part of the second century” (Bishop Grimelund, History of the Sabbath, p. 60).

Lastly, consider the following Baptist references:

• “There was and is a command to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will however be readily said, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week, with all its duties, privileges and sanctions. Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask, where can the record of such a transaction be found: Not in the New Testament – absolutely not. There is no scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the seventh to the first day of the week” (Dr. E. T. Hiscox, author of the Baptist Manual).

• “Of course I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day as we learn from the Christian Fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of Paganism, and christened with the name of the sun-god, then adopted and sanctified by the Papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism” (Dr. E. T. Hiscox, report of his sermon at the Baptist Minister’s Convention, in New York Examiner, November 16, 1893).
All of these confessions are only the tip of the iceberg. There are also countless other quotations confirming that the Sabbath was altered not by the Bible but by man. The seven-day Sabbath remains the only true day established by our Creator. All other days are counterfeits.

The Bible Shows Complete Continuity

As the Bible reveals, the Messiah and His apostles never forsook the Sabbath or the faith of their forefathers. They continued upholding the same precepts that were delivered to Abraham. If more people understood this core truth, we would see a far different message coming from today’s pulpits. Instead of trying to divorce themselves from the Old Testament, they would embrace it! They would see the value in the commandments as Yahweh’s moral code.

Understanding that the New Testament is rooted in the same Hebraic faith given to Abraham is pivotal and life changing. When we ignore this fact we lose perspective of who our Savior was and what He really taught. Sadly, the majority of Bible teachers today continue with this fantasy that the Messiah ushered in a new religion based on faith alone with no resemblance to the Hebraic covenant given to the patriarchs of old.

As seen from both scholarship and the Bible, this simply is not the case. As Malachi 3:6 states, Yahweh doesn’t change. He’s the same in both the Old and New testaments. He will also be the same in the coming Kingdom, when His Son reigns over this earth.

At this time, Scripture declares that worship, including the commandments, will go out from Jerusalem. “But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of Yahweh shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of Yahweh, and to the house of the Elohim of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of Yahweh from Jerusalem,” Micah 4:1-2.

In this coming Kingdom, all of mankind will be governed by Yahweh’s commandments, including the Sabbaths and Feasts,Isaiah 66:23; Ezekiel 45-46; Zechariah 14:16-19.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. This applies to the Hebraic roots of our faith. A Hebraic continuity can be found from Old Testament to New and from New on into our Father’s Kingdom. The same Hebrew roots that Abraham embraced were also embraced by Yahshua the Messiah and His apostles.

Isn’t it time that we, too, consider our Hebrew roots and return to the proper foundation of Yahweh’s Word and its promises?

Watch our Discover the Truth TV program: “Hebrew Roots” below

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Churchianity’s Great Divide

Compare the following two worship events.

It’s the seventh day of the week. Dressed in simple attire an unassuming young man sits by the seashore speaking to a small gathering. A gust of wind wafts the pungent aroma of fish and seaweed over the crowd. The teacher paints one vivid picture after another in stories that teach about sin, repentance, and the coming Kingdom. He talks of obedience and warns of wickedness and evil that could destroy His listeners’ faith. He quotes liberally from the Old Testament and explains that he has not come to bring peace and harmony to this world but by special calling to make a separation of His people by the sword of the Word.

He is provocative, His words are penetrating and his straight-to-the-heart style enraptures His audience. His amazing insights bring to the surface the deepest thoughts, motives, and guilt of His listeners.  They are cut to the quick. They hang on His every word and many share a burning and repentant desire hence-forth to live by the truth He teaches.

We switch now to a different teacher at another place and time.

– It’s morning on the first day of the week.  A black-robed man with chevrons on his sleeves and sporting a pricey necklace dangling a shiny silver cross steps up to a richly carved oak podium. The walls of his sanctuary are decorated with ornate fish symbols, crosses, and Greek letters on wide, velvet banners. Behind him on a polished altar burn two tiers of tall white candles. Rainbows of light shoot through colorfully painted windows.

– A red-robed choir stands ready, waiting for their cue to present a chorus of J.S. Bach accompanied by a huge, melodious pipe organ. The audience rises from their cushioned pews to echo the minister’s chants, after which he stretches out his arms and motions them to sit in unison.

– His stained-glass voice speaks of grace and acceptance of all faiths as just different routes to heaven. He tells his listeners to think positive thoughts and to love themselves or else they cannot love others.  After quoting part of a verse in Galatians about the need to reject Scriptural law, he tops off his 15-minute message with a story of a 7-year-old child who loses a pet turtle.

– The choir sings a final selection and the audience quickly files out, satisfied that they fulfilled their spiritual duty for another week and eager to enjoy the rest of the day at the mall or head to the local links to play 18 holes.

A Forgotten Message

Here are two modes of worship, both purporting to teach truth but both at polar opposites.

The first by our Savior is firmly planted in the Word and is riveting, life-changing, and relevant for all ages. The other is a blend of pop psychology and trendy clichés focusing exclusively on increasing the listener’s own prosperity and self-fulfillment. Yahshua is missing from this message; the real focus is on self. People are urged to look within; to try to understand themselves; to come to grips with their problems, their hurts, their disap-pointments; to have their needs met, their desires granted, their wants fulfilled.

If they could  be transported back 2,000 years to stand on the seashore and listen to the Messiah Yahshua teach, most churchgoers today would be too uncomfortable to linger long. His style and messsage are out of vogue, so how could they possibly have any truth?

But the real reason for rejection is more serious: Yahshua’s teachings of repentance, obedience, sacrificing self, and permanent change in personal behavior is offensive to a culture obsessed with self-fulfillment, self-achievement, and self-worship free of all restraints.  And so He and His Word have gone AWOL from today’s pulpits.

The powers that be in churchianity are so completely focused on whatever works to bring in more members and money that they fear any Bible-based message that might work counter to this goal. Like making a stand for truth and risk losing friends and family.

Fearing what they themselves might discover, most worshipers today are unwilling to take their Bible out of their dresser drawer and see what it actually says. If they did they would quickly realize that what millions take for granted as right religious instruction is totally foreign to the teachings of the Scriptures.

Missing Foundation, Twisted Truth

How many have stopped to consider that the Savior was not a Christian but a Hebrew, a Jew? He based His teachings on truths from the Old Testament – the only Scriptures in existence at the time He walked this earth.

Christianity sprang from Israelite worship. That means its roots are deeply established in the Old Testament. This simple fact is a thinly veiled secret in today’s

denominations that have sought for centuries to separate themselves from anything “Jewish” or “Old Testament.”

But facts are facts and the proof is convicting. Consider this: because modern worship actually sprang from Old Testament worship, churches still have “altars” as did ancient Israel. It is the reason churches continue to take up “offerings,” just as Israel took their offerings each day to the tabernacle or temple. Because it grew out of Judaism, Christianity still gives lip service, at least, to keeping one day of the week “holy,” just as Judah and Israel kept holy the seventh-day Sabbath as the Word commands.

The weekly communion service is a carryover from Israel’s Passover, with its body and blood symbols. The word “Easter” in the KJV of Acts 12:4 mistranslates the Greek Pascha and the Old Testament Hebrew Pesach or Passover.

Worship areas of churches are known as “sanctuaries,” a throwback to the holy place in the Tabernacle and Temple. Music in the modern church service sprang from the Old Testament practice of singing Psalms, most of which King David wrote and set to music.

Church terms like “father,” “elder,” “priest,” and “shepherd” trace directly to the Old Testament. Similarly, “amen,” “halleluyah,” “Sabbath,” and other designations used in the modern worship service come untranslated right from the Hebrew. Many other terms used from time to time in churches today are pure Hebrew, too, like: abba, Satan, mammon, maranatha, raca, cummin, shekel, jubilee, corban, and hosanna.

Wrongly Dividing the Word

Despite these and other similarities with Old Testament practice and teaching, to advocate seriously using the Old Testament as the basis of Biblical truth would get you quickly ushered out the door of most churches today.

Through centuries of conditioning, the average Bible believer has been led to the false notion that the Old Testament and its system of worship, laws, and principles for living are dead. Its books are considered irrelevant. This is the same conditioning that would make today’s churchgoer uncomfortable gathering at a seashore for a worship service. It is just not what most are accustomed to.

It has been drilled into most churchgoers that the Old Testament’s 39 books have no significance today. Never mind that the Apostles and the Savior Himself quoted from, taught from, referred to, and based their teachings on Old Testament Scriptures.  Never mind that the Old Testament continues to be published alongside the New in every Bible version coming off the modern press. Could it be that Yahweh has preserved His entire Word for a very important reason?

Suppose you were given a two-part novel to read. How much of it would you understand if you were told to skip Part One and go directly to Part Two?

Without solid grounding in the knowledge that the New Testament has Hebraic roots, that Christianity grew out of Judaism (nearly every one of the early converts was a Jew), and that the promises were given only to Israel (others are grafted in, Rom. 9 and 11), you would be open to manifold errors and even blinded to the basic Biblical message. This is the state nominal worship finds itself in. It has lost its moorings as well as its direction because it has left the fundamental teachings of the Word.

Without a firm footing in Yahweh’s law and commandments the modern church is powerless to confront today’s sin. Televangelists can talk forever about realizing your self-potential and seeking “what G-d wants for you” and – because they ignore the Word – get swept right into the cesspool along with the culture.

For today’s church to condemn society’s murder, stealing, lying, adultery, and every other rampant sin while simultaneously teaching against Biblical law is hypocrisy. If it insists on continuing to compete with worldly entertainment in its worship and continue watering down whatever might be left of a Bible-based message, the modern church will be powerless to stem the tide of runaway sin. In an effort to please listeners with pablum, it ties its own hands, Isaiah 30:10.

Paul, churchianity’s champion, is often said to teach a “law-less” New Testament as well. Paul explains the truth of the matter, however, in Acts 24:14, “But this I confess unto you, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the Elohim of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.” “Law and prophets” means the Old Testament with its laws and teachers. Paul supports the Commandments in 1Corinthians 7:19, and even maintains that the law has dominion over a man so long as he lives, Romans 7:1.

Notice what he says in writing to the Romans about the roots of True Worship: “For  I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away unrighteousness from Jacob,” Romans 11:25-26.

He calls it a “mystery,” Greek musterion, which refers to a sacred secret that Yahweh intends to carry out for the purpose of His Kingdom. That secret rests on the duration of Israel’s blindness. To bring the gentiles into the promise, Yahweh sent a Deliverer from Zion –  not from Athens or Rome!

Notice that Paul does not say that Yahweh has a different plan for the church , which now replaces Israel. Rather, Yahweh has opened a way up for Gentiles to come into the covenant promise established with Israel. The New Covenant today is a takeoff of that first covenant with Israel. It is not a completely new plan applying exclusively to the “church.” It is an open covenant  where others can join in salvation with His chosen. They must, however, still meet  the conditions and standards of obedience just as in the first covenant.

Hebrews 8:7-13 clearly explains the main difference between the New as opposed to the Old Covenant, which in essence is putting His laws in our hearts and minds. Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 show that a change in priesthood and ritual means that the New Covenant is based on Yahshua as High Priest. His shed blood pays the penalty for sin, Hebrews 10:10. Animal blood under the Old Covenant served only to remind Israel of their sins, not remove those sins, Hebrews 10:3-4.

Being totally ignorant of this fundamental truth of sin in the covenants, people have the notion that all churchgoers are headed for a reward in heaven regardless of what they believe or how they behave. In contradiction, Paul said all are damned who don’t believe the Truth, but enjoy unrigh-teousness (sin), 2Thessalonians 2:12.

The fact is, the Kingdom is promised only to those who are of Israel or become a part thereof through partaking in the one promise offered to all in the New Covenant through faith and obedience. That is the substance of Paul’s message. The wild olive is grafted in, not replanted and grown in a separate plot, Romans 11:17, 24.

Do not be deceived into going down the broad way that leads to death. The way of Truth means adhering to the “faith once delivered,” Jude 3. Return to the roots!

Bible is real facts

The Bible’s Amazing Continuity

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

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

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

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

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

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

Obedient Noah and Abraham Found Grace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paul in His Obedience Was Under Grace

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

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

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

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

Yahweh’s Law Always in Effect

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

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

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

Yahweh Always Had Mercy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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