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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Why Hebraic?

I meant to answer this question days ago but got busy and forgot!

Q:Do you have a post somewhere detailng your Shabbat traditions and beliefs a bit more? I would love to learn more!

A: Well, there are bits and pieces in different posts, but nothing very organized or in-depth, so I'll do that now. Some of it will be a very quick overview of things I have posted already, but this will bring it all together.

Growing up I was taught the whole 'the Jews have been replaced as the Chosen People' aka replacement philosophy. I hate to say I even agreed with the ideology that what happened to the Jews was horrific, but it was God's punishment on them for rejecting the Messiah. And I believed that anyone who had the name Christian on their door was closer to the truth than the Jews because they refused to believe in the one thing that saved any of us- Jesus.

Now that is not to say I would have ever tolerated any anti-semitic actions of others. I have always been a defender of the minority. Once in 3rd grade we had to read the account of a southern slave, and I cried so hard I had to go to the nurse. Oppression of any kind has never been acceptable to me. I would never condone mistreatment of anyone, and felt if the Jews were being allowed to suffer, it was still our duty to show love and kindness and to protect them. I’m not sure if that is easy to understand, but I knew in my heart that we were called to love and care for people and that God would handle the rest. I never hated Jews, but believed that they were being punished for refusing Jesus.

I went through a time of wondering in High School and attended many different churches and services and meetings. It confused me that there were so many opinions in what was based on the Bible. It turned out that a lot of that was not actually based on the Bible but in traditions of men. Anywhoo, I started to feel that there had to be some kind of ‘sense’ in the confusion and I wanted to know it. Unfortunately, I ended up looking in the wrong places. I was blessed that the Holy Spirit would not give me peace, because that is what caused me to look further. After I was married, we decided we could no longer just accept what we had learned. We had to dig it out and glean it ourselves. We found ourselves at a church that held to the Word as authoritative, which is what we needed. And through this church we made many connections that were the Hand of God showing us what he wanted us to know.

So, starting from the beginning, we took the Bible literally. And when you say that people will recoil in shock. I was asked if I go sit outside the city during my monthly cycle (which came up in a later discussion here if you are interested), but I was also asked if I cut off my hand after I sinned. I realized many people did not understand that the Bible has both literal instructions and allegorical instructions. That the Law was written to demonstrate to man his need for the Savior, but that even before the Law He had established things that were pleasing to Him. Jesus spoke in parables to confuse the wicked people but His sheep would understand what He was saying. We also found that there are specific parts of the OT that have been revised or completed because of the fulfillment of the Law by Christ. But that does not make the OT obsolete. In fact, without the OT we could not understand the New. For the first time I made use of cross-references and saw the error in some of the theology I had been given. Often the problem was either a verse taken out of context (to which I had just nodded my head and accepted as true) or that the ambiguity of the English language got in the way of understanding.

We saw that the feasts were established by God for all generations, which had to include us. But we didn’t really know what we were doing as far as observing them or what the time table for their occurrence was. We started out very simply with our kids doing what we called Old Testament dinners. We had the foods that were listed in the Bible and we read a story aloud, but it wasn’t anything close to the depth of understanding we longed for. We just kept at it, reading and studying and being shocked by what we found out. The list of things we knew we needed to throw out was very long. And what we wanted to replace them with seemed just out of our reach because it was never a part of our lives. But the Holy Spirit began to put things and people in our path that were perfectly timed to each question.

First was a lady from our new church who was a Messianic Jew. We were acquainted with the family already through friends and co-op, but had never known she was Messianic. That was a great lesson, that her faith and practices meshed with ours. It would answer the question later of whether you had to be Jewish to be like Jesus, or whether the Jews had to become Christians (and all this is also found in Acts and Galatians). She began to offer Hebrew lessons for the children and I started to learn from the CDs and books they brought home. We also attended her son’s Bar Mitsvah and it was just amazing.

Next our church had a guest speaker from the Chosen People Ministries in New York. He went over the feasts of the OT and how Jesus was the fulfillment of Passover and Yom Kippur and how the feasts were essential to understanding prophesy. From his table, I bought several books that were just wonderful! One was about understanding and celebrating the Shabbat. YEAH! This speaker has come back to the church every year since and it has just been such a blessing.

When I started blogging a year ago, it never crossed my mind that there would be others looking for the same understanding I was. Through linking to a link to a link, etc, I found Stephanie, then Audrey, and Julie, and another dear lady who has since taken her blog down, and the info links they provided just opened up so much more learning. This is also when we ‘came out of the closet’ so to speak. It was not shame but simply the need to know what we were doing and why before we let anyone else know about it.

Now to the specific question you asked in regard to Shabbat. God established a day of rest before there was even sin, so a day of rest is good and has nothing to do with a Law as a schoolmaster or way to righteousness. We celebrate it instead as a blessing and a shadow of the things to come. I bought a Complete Jewish Bible as an aide to the King James and understanding what even now is different in our language. In the back it has a list of readings for Shabbat for the year. These are just passages that are good for reflection on this day. We eat what Jesus would have eaten, though we do not abide by Rabbinical laws as they are of man and not of God. So we do not have to refrain from meat and dairy together. These were a second ‘layer’ of rules to try and prevent breaking the most important, but this rule-making is what Jesus condemned in Matthew 15. We also try to follow the clean and unclean guidelines God set forth, not because keeping these will save us or make us righteous, but because He knew what was best for us and we trust Him. If all we had was pork, we would not be condemned to eat it. But as Paul said, all things may be permissible but not all things are beneficial. We try to follow the plan God laid out because it was best for man, not because we are winning our righteousness. The same philosophy applies to the day on which we celebrate the Shabbat. Because of the confusion over the calendars and the way the world has changed days and times, it would be hard to know the exact Shabbat. But since we know the seventh day was set aside and on the calendar that is Saturday (though it starts at sundown on Friday) we celebrate our meal at sunset on Friday. It is not because doing it any other way would condemn us, but because we find special understanding and communion with God when we try to do it His way.

Obviously some of the laws in the Old Covenant were done away with, such as sacrifices, when Jesus became our sacrifice. But others are still meant forever. I have heard many a person say we are no longer meant to keep a Sabbath, yet they wouldn’t think of breaking one of the other Commandments. There is not a list of what has been abolished or fulfilled per se, so what we have done is approach it very slowly and apply two different criteria to it: Is it addressed in the New Testament, and does it fall under the ‘new command’ from Jesus to love God first and foremost and to love our neighbor as ourselves. I truly feel a Shabbat comes under loving God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength because it is a day set aside for him when there is so much I could be getting done. It is a show of faith that He will provide rather than a need to constantly work to take care of myself. Just like tithing with money, I believe we are meant to tithe with our time.

*As a side note, we have now come to use Yahweh and Yeshua because there is SO much ambiguity even in the names God and Jesus, and we want to make it clear just whom we serve.

5 comments:

Swylv said...

not to mention when the 3 visitors vist Abraham he serves them a calf, milk, butter, and bread ....so milk and meat together ... interesting....was it goat's milk? not sure

Kelly said...

I've just spent the past two weeks doing a very thorough study of Romans and Galatians with this in mind.

First, I was surprised at how many verses seem to make the case for replacement theology. I've never been a follower of it, but I can now see why it has such a strong following.

In Romans 9, Paul writes about Jacob receiving Esau's inheritance, although he is the younger. Later in the same chapter, he quotes from Hosea, verses which imply the adoption of the gentiles. In Romans 11:12, he writes that the failure of the Jews means riches for the Gentiles. That is echoed in Galatians 3:14, where he writes "that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." The blessing of Abraham, what that of inheritance, for the firstborn son.

He further elaborates on the Abraham metaphor in Gal 4:25-31, relating Israel to the son of Hagar, the slave woman, while Christians are like Isaac, the children of promise.

Verse 28 in Romans 9 really jumped out at me, because it even says "they are enemies of God." One could easily say that these are anti-Semitic verses, and that the roots of anti-Semitism were sown in the Bible, not by a heresy that came along later.

Paul, in both Romans and Galatians, equates keeping the Law with weakness and an immature faith.

Gal 3:24-25 says "So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian..." Later in chapter 4, he speaks of being children being under the law, but now we are heirs.

Paul seems to write that the Law was not in God's original plan. His promise was given to Abraham because of faith, and the Law came along hundreds of years later. Abraham did not keep kosher. He did not have prescribed feasts, other than the Sabbath. Paul relates Christians to those who inherit from Abraham, who was never under the Law.

Also, I'm curious why you follow some of the food prohibitions. I understand that you think there are health reasons, but I found it strange that food prohibitions were one of the things that Paul seemed to preach so strongly against. Gal 2:12 says that Peter did not keep the dietary laws when he ate with gentiles. Romans 14:20 says that "everything is clean."

Now, Acts was next on my list to study on this issue, but just from the top of my head, I think Peter's vision in Acts 10 also seems pretty conclusive on the unclean food issue.

I think that you are going about things realizing that salvation comes from faith, and not from keeping the Law. But my fear is that this quickly becomes "we are required to keep the Law." So many of the articles I have perused on this issue state that if you aren't keeping the Law, then you aren't saved. If you aren't keeping the Law, then you are following satan/embracing Babylon, etc.

How quickly does "this is a good way to respect the Lord's will, embrace our Hebraic heritage, and enrich our understanding of the Scriptures" turn into "if you were really saved by faith, it would manifest itself by your desire to keep the Law."

I really see Paul's quote to the Galatians, where he marvels that they are so quick to put themselves under the Law. I think that legalism is a real danger for some people, and this theology really leads them down that path.

Anyways, I'm interested in hearing your thoughts on this, and hopefully I haven't rambled on too long. :)

motherofmany said...

There really isn't room to go through both books here- myabe we can do a discussion of them in a post. I don't think the idea is to point to replacement, but rather to make sure the Gentiles know that they are now included in the promise. They are even told that they are being grafted in to make the Jews jealous in order to bring them back to Yahweh once again. And the prophesies about the Jews in the last days make it very clear they are still the chosen people and that the rest who are saved have become part of the Lion of Judah's line, not the other way around.

The comparison would be that Gentiles are like Ishmael, and that Isaac refused his birthright. So they then change places. Ishmael is given an opportunity to be part of the inheritance, but the covenant is still with Isaac forever. Man may break his covenants promises, but Yahweh never can or He is not holy. There was a reason the story of Jacob and Esau was prominent- it was a forshadowing of the Hebrew people forfeiting the birthright and the 'second' son receiving it. Same thing with Israel blessing the sons of Joseph and reversing the order of the blessing. But what happened to Esau in the end? And weren't both of Joseph's sons were given tribal lands?

Dependance on keeping the law as a means of salvation is what cursed the people to be under the law entirely (Galatians 3:10), because they failed to put their whole trust in the Messiah's sacrifice. But God does not change. What he made as law had a purpose behind it. Much of it is reiterated in the New Testament as well. Parts of it are fulfilled by Christ and are no longer binding (sacrifices and ritual cleansing and all that go with them) but that does not make those parts of the law bad- they are simply complete.

So why have a law about unclean meats? Was it simply to test the obedience of the Jews? No. We have found through our modern 'science' that pork is more likely to make one sick. So the purpose of the law was to protect people. Yahweh can certainly make clean whatever He wishes, and as I stated, if we were lost out in the dessert and had nothing else to eat, we would not be condemned. But seeing the wisdom in the clean/unclean meats distinction is admitting to Yahweh's superior plans.

The verses everyone uses to argue that all things are made clean are followed up by the statement that 'all things may be permissable, but not all things are beneficial'. We are not required to abstain from Twinkies, but if you ate nothing but Twinkies you would find yourself very ill. Still, there would be those who would eat nothing but Twinkies because of their 'freedom in Christ'. They are throwing the wisdom of Yah right in his face and saying they know better what is good. This is where we find the other end of the stick, the easy-believism that allows people to continue to live in sin and still believe themselves to be saved. So it is not a matter of following the law because that is what leads to salvation, but rather seeing the truth and wisdom He put into the law and why it was not merely meant as a benchmark for holiness, but to thoroughly equip us.

"Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid!..." Galatians 3:21

We take the whole Bible literally not because we muist live according to the law for righteousness, but because we want to know Yahweh as closely as possbile, and to understand Him, we must first accept that everythign He said was good. He has given us a way out from under the curse of the law, but He still desires holiness from us, which comes not from our actions but is the driving force behind our actions- a desire to please Him.

Kelly said...

I don't think the idea is to point to replacement, but rather to make sure the Gentiles know that they are now included in the promise. They are even told that they are being grafted in to make the Jews jealous in order to bring them back to Yahweh once again.

Again, I'm not a follower of replacement theology, but saying that I found several verses would one could take to support that position.

While the gentiles are grafted in, it was specifically decided that they did not have to follow the Law. I really don't see any way around that.

The verses everyone uses to argue that all things are made clean are followed up by the statement that 'all things may be permissable, but not all things are beneficial'. We are not required to abstain from Twinkies, but if you ate nothing but Twinkies you would find yourself very ill. Still, there would be those who would eat nothing but Twinkies because of their 'freedom in Christ'. They are throwing the wisdom of Yah right in his face and saying they know better what is good.

I completely understand your point here, and I think it is a very good one. However, I think that you could use a better analogy.

When I was a child, my mom had a rule about holding on to the railing when you were going up or down stairs. If I do not follow that rule as an adult, am I throwing that wisdom in her face? Absolutely not. As an adult, my judgment is better now. I understand the intent behind the rule, and I can discern for myself which times require holding to the railing, and which times are safe to climb without holding to the railing.

We have found through our modern 'science' that pork is more likely to make one sick. So the purpose of the law was to protect people.

Along the same lines, we can realize that the situation of meat of a desert dwelling pre-industrial people might differ from our current situation. Depending on how much one knows about US slaughterhouse practices, you might find it more prudent to become a vegetarian altogether! Or if you have a source for clean pork, but only industrially processed beef, then pork might be the best choice.

We take the whole Bible literally not because we muist live according to the law for righteousness, but because we want to know Yahweh as closely as possbile, and to understand Him, we must first accept that everythign He said was good. He has given us a way out from under the curse of the law, but He still desires holiness from us, which comes not from our actions but is the driving force behind our actions- a desire to please Him.

I think that learning more about the Old Testament, Judaism and Jewish practices, observing the Biblical feasts, and even keeping the Law can be good things. It deepen your understanding of scripture and foster your faith.

My main concern, as I said in the first comment, is the attitude that I have found in various articles I found through links in your and Steph's blog. It is the attitude that if you aren't keeping the Law, then you are spitting in God's face and rejecting Him. It is outright saying that if you aren't keeping the Law, you aren't saved.

While I think you are doing a good just discerning, it seems that for many people involved in this movement, it is a return to legalism.

Jeannie said...

Hey Friend,

Just playing Catch up with you. Love this post, Have you checked out

http://restorationoftorah.org/

or http://www.sabbathtruth.com/logon.asp

those are a few of my favorites, I too have just been in awe of the wonderment of our fellow Hebrew brothers and sisters... Currently I am in study with the http://www.restorationministries.org.

I wish you a great weekend.

JEANNIE