Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Should Christians Study the Torah?

 
My study of Torah began in 1996, around the time I made my first trip to Israel. This study has been life changing.  I call the Torah "Bible 101" because I believe it is the basic understanding one needs in order to understand The Scriptures - especially the New Testament.  I found this article very helpful for those who seek to know and understand.  I hope you will ponder this and prayerfully consider these truths.

Should Christians Study the Torah?

     The study of the written Torah should be paramount in everyone’s lives, since it provides the foundation and context for truly understanding the mission and words of the Messiah Yeshua Himself.  Indeed, it can be argued that reading the New Testament without a solid understanding of the Torah is like reading out of context – invariably ideas alien to the true meaning of the text will be imported and erroneous conclusions will be formed. (The books of the New Testament were not compiled until 480 to 500 years after the resurrection of the Messiah.)

     Often Christians think that the written Torah is virtually irrelevant today, since the doctrines of the Church are made explicit in the New Testament writings.  However, this is a serious mistake, as the following facts will demonstrate:

1.      Yeshua and all His disciples were Torah observant Jews.  The Scriptures that they studied loved, and quoted were the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings.  As a child, Yeshua would have studied the Torah and memorized it with other Jewish children.  He would also have been familiar with the teachings of the earlier Jewish Sages of Israel. (Gamaliel, Hillel, and Uziel)

Indeed, Yeshua said that He did not come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets, but to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17-19).  He later told a prospective follower of His, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19:17).

2.      Yeshua said that the Jewish Scriptures plainly testify of Him (John 5:39).  As His followers, we should understand what this means and how they indeed bear witness of Him as the King of the Jews (Matt. 2:2, 27:11).  In addition, by studying Torah, we can more fully appreciate the glory and grace as revealed in the Person and Work of our beloved savior.  For example, we can more fully savor the role of the sacrificial system and how Yeshua fulfilled all of G-d’s holy requirements on our behalf as the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) of the New Covenant.

3.      When two disciples were on their way to the town of Emmaus discussing the implications of the crucifixion of Yeshua three days earlier, who but Yeshua Himself appeared alongside of them and taught them from the Jewish Scriptures?  “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself’ (Luke 24:13-36).

4.      The “Church” was born on the Jewish holiday of Shavot (Pentecost) among the Jewish people in Jerusalem.  Peter’s sermon during that festival (Acts 2:1-41) was entirely Jewish, quoting from the Prophets and David, which would have meant little to any Gentiles in earshot (if there were any).  It is likely, therefore, that the 3,000 people who were saved that day would have all been Jewish.  The earliest members of the new church met regularly in the Temple, where Gentiles were explicitly excluded (Acts 2:46).  Note the Apostles Peter and John are recorded to have gone to the Temple for prayer during the time of the minchah (afternoon) sacrifices (Acts 3:1), and their ministry continued exclusively among the Jewish people, “among whom were thousands who believed and were zealous for the Torah” (Acts 21:20).  Even after they were imprisoned but miraculously escaped, an angel told them to “go, stand and speak in the Temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20).

5.      Later, when the Jerusalem Council wrote their letter to the Gentiles regarding their relationship to the Torah, they advised them to at first abstain from those things that would make them abhorrent to the Jews, with the assumption that they would later go on to study the Torah of Moses and the other Jewish Scriptures (Acts 15:19-21).

6.      The Apostle Paul was raised a Torah observant Jew who studied under the famous Rabbi Gamaliel in Jerusalem (Acts 22:3).  Rabbi Sha’ul (as he would have been called) was well established in the Jewish leadership of his day, and even had a relationship with the Sanhedrin and High Priest (Kohen Ha’godal) of Israel (Acts 9:1-2).  But even after his conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-21), he still identified himself a Jew.  In Acts 23:6 he confessed, “I am (not was) a Pharisee.”  He even declared that concerning the observance of the Torah he was “blameless,” which indicates that he observed a Jewish lifestyle to his dying day (Phil. 3:6; Acts 25:7-8, 28:17).  Paul even took the Nazirite vow (Acts 18:18), lived “in observance of the Torah (Acts 21:23-24), and actually offered sacrifices in order to be released from his Nazirite vow, but also paid for the sacrifices for four other Jewish believers!  Notice also that this was performed at the explicit request of James, the head of the Jerusalem Church (and half-brother of Yeshua).                                                                                                                                              

      Paul regularly attended synagogue: “He came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews.  And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures” (Acts 17:1-2).  And when Paul later wrote to the Gentile churches, “All Scripture is breathed out by G-d and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16-17), he was of course referring to the Jewish Scriptures, since the New Testament had not yet been compiled for the Church.

7.      Many Christian denominations profess to believe in the authority of both the “Old Testament” and the New Testament Scriptures while functionally regulating the study of the Torah to the dust heap of history.  If the Jewish Scriptures are to be taken seriously at all, these denominational traditions attempt to explain away their clear reading (for example, the covenantal promises made to ethnic Israel) and arrogate the intent of the text as being applicable solely to the church.      (copied)

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, October 11, 2021

Reflections on Sukkot

 

Sukkot is called "our holiday of JOY!" and I always eagerly look forward to it.  First, I'll share how we observe/celebrate at home, and then at the synagogue.  God instructs us to keep this feast in Leviticus 23, Numbers 29 and Deuteronomy 16.  Yeshua celebrated it, too, and you can read about it in John 4.

This year, the holiday began without any sign of the golden rain blossoms falling.  I went to bed thinking how much I'd miss them.  The next morning, I woke up to this:

God is so good!  The blossoms had fallen during the night and I was full of JOY!  They're still falling and I think of them as golden rain from heaven - blessings abundant - like the mercies my Father blesses us with every morning!  Here are some photos of how heavy the rain is this year.  The blossoms covered the pathway to Golden Pond, which is totally covered:


 


On the Shabbat before Sukkot began, we had a celebration along with our regular worship service - music, dancing, and food, of course!  Rabbi Jem taught about the holiday and gave instructions about building the sukkah.


The next day, some members of the congregation came over to Golden Cottage and helped us build the sukkah.




We decided to leave the palm branches off the top because we had a golden rain tree branch that was the perfect roof.

We had a wonderful time rejoicing, reflecting, worshiping, eating meals and having quiet time together.  


 

I especially love Sundays in the sukkah - that's Pampered Princess Day - and Jem always makes breakfast.  Above is his Golden Hash Browns topped with an over-light egg.  So good!

And below are his yummy Golden Blueberry Pancakes.  We were blessed with two Sundays in the sukkah and I enjoyed them immensely! 

Our dog loves sitting in the sukkah with us.



In the Sukkot celebration at the synagogue, we always have a Torah procession.  This is so moving for me.  I love seeing the expressions on people's faces as they kiss the scroll.  It brings tears to their eyes as well as my own.  Everyone has the opportunity to carry the scroll.  

After everyone had the blessing of carrying the Torah, we danced and rejoiced that Adonai has preserved His Holy Word for thousands of years. 


Then, we each waved the lulav - a reminder that God provides, and that His presence surrounds and supports us.  

Then, we did the water pouring ceremony (outside). This part reminds us that God provides our life-sustaining water, and of the day that Yeshua was celebrating Sukkot in Jerusalem (John 4).  You can read about this part of the observance in this post on my blog:  Sadly, I did not get any photos of this part of our synagogue's celebration.

Afterward, we had a feast!  Of course we did!!!!


Durking Sukkot, I painted a watercolor of a sukkah. I call it "Holy Hug" because these seven days are a time to be still and draw near to Him.  He draws near and His presence is felt in an awesome way.


 Blessings and love to you all dear Gail-Friends.  I'll have more news of happenings around Golden Cottage in the week ahead -- I hope.  Life has been very busy lately. 







Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Birth of Yeshua the Messiah

 

 
 
I love this time of year and these appointed times of Adonai.. . especially this week long celebration of Feast of Tabernacles. God instructs us to keep this feast in Leviticus 23, Numbers 29 and Deuteronomy 16. 
 
“You shall keep the Feast of Booths for seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your wine press. You shall rejoice in your feast...For seven days you shall keep the feast to the Lord your God at the place that the Lord will choose,because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands,so that you will be altogether joyful."
 
 I've been thinking about this piece of writing below and wanted to share it with you Gail-Friends.  I don't know the original author of this article, but it's something I hope you will pray and think about:

"The Messiah of Israel was not born at "Christmas" neither was His conception at "Christmas." People often say that nobody knows when He was born for sure, so we just pick a day. There is no truth to this. Scripture tells us that He came to "Tabernacle" among us on Sukkot/The Feast of Tabernacles. (Jn 1:14)
 
When we dig a little deeper, we see that Yochanan the Immerser/John the Baptist was born on the Feast of Pesach/Passover. He came in the Spirit of Eli'yahu/Elijah. (Luke 1:17) The Jews have a long standing custom on Passover to open the door and cal
l out for Eli'yahu! They even leave an empty chair and a place-setting at the table for him. Why? "Why do the scribes say that Eli'yahu must come first?" And our Messsiah responded "Indeed, Eli'yahu is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that ELI'YAHU HAS ALREADY COME, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW HIM... Then the disciples understood that He spoke of Yochanan the Immerser." (Matt 17:10-13) 
 
So, how do we know that John was born on Passover? Scripture states that Zechar'yah served as Priest in the Temple under the division of Abi'yah. (Luke 1:5) A further study of 1Chron 24 tells us when this is. Elisheba/Elizabeth was 6 months pregnant when Miryim arrived to assist her, (Luke 1:26) so our Messiah was born 6 months after John... on Sukkot/The Feast of Tabernacles. He was not born in a barn, it was a sukkah. He was not placed in a feeding trough, He was wrapped up and placed in a food crib, (a storage bin to keep the food off the ground) ... as the Bread of Life.
 
He was indeed conceived nine months before on Chanukah/The Feast of Rededication, rededicating mankind to the Father. Chanukah is not "Christmas" as they are often more as twenty days apart. Chanukah is also known as "The Festival of Lights." The word "LIGHT" is used seven times in six verses. (Jn 1:4-9):
 
"In Him was life, and the life was the LIGHT of mankind."
"And the LIGHT shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it"
John came to "bear witness of the LIGHT..."
"He was not the LIGHT but came to bear witness of that LIGHT."
"That was the true LIGHT which gives LIGHT to every man coming into the world."
 
When we remove the Babylonian glasses, we see the tremendous beauty of the Feasts. The Word is so very awesome, but we must scrape away man-made religion to see It as IT IS WRITTEN."