When you first come to this faith walk, this “Torah Keeping worldview,” you undoubtedly gain a new appreciation for the Tanakh (“Old Testament”). For most Christians, the OT is there to conveniently be used from time to time to prove Jesus is the Messiah, and beyond that, it gets shelved. But when a believer has their eyes opened to the continuing validity of Torah, the OT seems to get a whole new light shed on it.
One of the difficulties, however, for any student of Scripture, can be finding Yeshua Messiah specifically in the OT. Now don’t get me wrong, I agree He’s everywhere in the OT; but it’s subtle. References aren’t overt most of the time. And this can be difficult, especially when dealing with anti-missionaries. If you quote Isaiah 53 to them, they often say, “Nowhere in Isaiah 53 does it say that’s about the Messiah. It’s about Israel.” While I won’t be addressing that here, I will say that it’s a faulty interpretation for several reasons. (Not the least of which is that it fails to answer the question of how "Israel" can be punished for "our" [Israel's, from Isaiah's point of view] sin).
As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things—and it is true and not a lie—and just as it has taught you, abide in Him. – 1 John 2:27 (TLV)
I have seen many well-meaning believers today in our Messianic / Hebraic / Torah Pursuant faith, that quote this verse as a proof-text of sorts. To prove what, exactly? Namely, that believers that possess the Holy Spirit and are empowered thereby, do not need teachers. Instead, they need only read the Scriptures for themselves, and ask God for the meaning.
We’ve all heard the oft-quoted figure: 50%.
50% of marriages end in divorce, they say.
Some studies show it’s actually over 70% [a].
That number is a bit fuzzy, to be sure, but nevertheless, we all know how high it is. In some countries it’s even higher (looking at you, Belgium) [a].
But for believers, should we not find this number at virtually zero? If marriage is a religious institution, should not the number of broken marriages be less among religious people? I’ll digress from that point.
In this article, we’ll examine divorce from an historically Biblical point of view, as well as from a cultural point of view. I will unequivocally and unapologetically state, right now, that the best resource for this topic (if you want an exhaustive study) is the book “Divorce and Remarriage in the Church” by Dr. David Instone-Brewer (the link here to the book, should you want it). His work lays the foundation for much of what I’ll be showing in this article, and indeed, this may serve simply as a summary of much of his findings.
What is food? A simple question, yet it has sparked debates time and time again within religious (usually Messianic) groups. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines food as: “1
A: material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy; also: such food together with supplementary substances (as minerals, vitamins, and condiments)
B: inorganic substances absorbed by plants in gaseous form or in water solution
2: nutriment in solid form
3: something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies <food for thought>”
But the question that a Believer should be asking is: how does the Bible define food?
I see, rather regularly, people associating the Aleph-Tav (את) with Messiah Yeshua. If you are already familiar with what I am talking about, you may want to skip the next paragraph. If you're not familiar, here is a brief explanation.
In the Hebrew Aleph-Bet (alphabet), the first letter is Aleph (א) and the last is Tav (ת). This letter combination is pronounced et, as in "et cetera." People take the statement from Revelation where Yeshua says He is the "Alpha and the Omega" and they say, "Well Yeshua didn't speak Greek, so what He actually said was 'I am the Aleph and the Tav' since those are the Hebrew/Aramaic letters." They then take note of the number of places the et symbol (word) is used, and state that this symbol is actually a placeholder, or some sort of "hidden code" for Yeshua. Their favorite verse is Genesis 1:1, where we read (in English), "In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth." However, they say, in Hebrew, the untranslated et actually appears between the words ha'shamayim (heavens) and ha'arets (earth). Thus, since this symbol is a stand-in for Yeshua, we see how Yeshua "connects" heaven and earth. Fascinating, right? Yet there are some issues.
Those that are Torah-observant will know what I mean by the phrase “picking and choosing.” It’s a term that gets tossed at us a lot by those that either don’t understand, or by those that disagree. If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, I’ll offer a brief explanation. On many occasions, while explaining my beliefs to someone, they ask why I do what I do. I tell them that I keep the commands of The Father because I love Him (John 14:15) and that obedience is the way to express devotion. The whole duty of mankind is to Fear Elohim, and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
I realize that I have already presented the case for the wearing of tzitziyot. If you have not read the first part of More Tassel, Less Hassle, this writing will not make much sense. This writing will serve to point out just a couple of minor flaws in the current line of thinking within the Messianic / Hebrew Roots "movements" regarding some “rules” for wearing tzitziyot.
Should Believers today wear tzitziyot? If you are unfamiliar with the term, tzitzit (or tzitziyot, the plural form) are tassels or fringes. They are most commonly seen on Orthodox Jews. They are the long strings that hang off the corners of the tallit, or prayer shawl worn in synagogues. There is much debate amongst Jewish and Messianic scholars between how they should be worn, how they should be designed, where they should be worn and so forth. Many teach that since we live in the “new covenant era” that tzitzit, which are memory devices, are not necessary. They say that we have the commandments on our hearts, so we do not need physical reminders. I find this foolish, as Scripture NEVER says anything like that. Do Believers now not need to be reminded to keep the commandments? If Israel HEARD the voice of YHWH speaking some of the commandments, they SAW the pillar of fire and yet they still needed a reminder, then what makes us think we don’t need one too?
But tradition aside, let’s let Scripture give us our answer. First, the command itself. It comes from Numbers 15 and Deuteronomy 22.
Many today believe that circumcision is no longer necessary. Christians simply write it off as being part of the Old Testament that has passed away. However, there are also many amongst the Messianic/Hebrew Roots crowd that believe circumcision has not necessarily been done away with, but rather replaced. Are they correct, or are the Christians? Perhaps the Jews? What if they’re all slightly off? That is what we’ll look at in this study.
Here lately I have seen many attacks on the Hebrew Masoretic Text. Many people out there claim that it contains certain readings that were altered after Yeshua's time, in order to combat the teachings of the early Believers. It is said that these sections alter prophecies that are applied to Yeshua in the NT. These people also say that the Greek Septuagint (LXX) is more accurate, because it does not contain these later alterations. They state that the NT writers quoted not from a Hebrew text, but from the LXX, and that the early "church" used the LXX far more than any Hebrew text. Thus, they conclude, we should trust it more than we do the Masoretic. Is this true? Is this indeed the route we should be taking in our quest for the Truths of Scripture? Surely no one wants a corrupted text. If your base text is corrupt, then any and every translation of it will also be corrupted (unless corrected based on a different text).
If you have not yet read my series, How We Got Our Scriptures, I suggest you go and do that first. That series will lay a foundation for what is going to be discussed here. If you already have an understanding of who the Masoretes were, what they did, and so on, then you probably know enough to continue reading. I just don't want to thrust the reader into an issue he/she knows little about.