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Month 4:18, Week 3:3 (Shleshi/Bikkurim), Year 5935:103 AM
Omer Count Day 40/50
Gregorian Calendar: Tuesday 19 July 2011
Know Him First
The Seven Useless Religious Hallmarks

    I am sure you have all heard the evangelical challenge that knowing about Yah'shua (Jesus) is not the same as knowing Yah'shua (Jesus). And they're right. Knowing the scriptures and perhaps some history about the Messiah is not the same as having met Him personally, been regenerated and connected to Him so that one is in daily communion.

    I sometimes wonder if one of the reasons many ultra-Messianics hate the apostle Paul (Sha'ul), and reject his writing, and why there is as much heresy in the Messianic movement as there is in Protestantism, is because they don't actually know Him. Paul made it perfectly clear: not knowing Yah'shua (Jesus) makes all the rest practically irrelevent, including the much vaunted love of Torah that Messianics and Jews profess to follow.

    Paul made a list of the seven things that were important to the non-messianic Jews of his day in Philippians 3:5-6 (JNT):

    • 1. B'rit-milah (circumcision) on the eighth day (pride in penile mutilation);
    • 2. An Israelite by birth (pride in being a blood descendant from Abraham);
    • 3. From the tribe of Benjamin (tribal pride);
    • 4. A Hebrew-speaker, with Hebrew-speaking parents (linguistic snobbery);
    • 5. In regard to Torah, a Parush (Pharisee - the religious Úlite and brood of vipers);
    • 6. In regard to zeal, a persecutor of the Messianic Community (religious bigotry and the spirit of murder); and
    • 7. In regard to the righteousness demanded by legalism, blameless (counterfeit salvation by works, including to man-made rules and traditions).

    I find all of these first century issues rampant in the Messianic Movement of our day and I frankly don't blame evangelicals for being turned off them, for I am too. The true Messianic is none of these things. Speaking of these "human qualifications" (Phil.3:4, JNT) which were a huge advantage in the Jewish first century culture of his day, Paul said:

      "But the things that used to be advantageous for me, I have, because of the Messiah, come to consider a disadvantage. Not only that, but I consider everything a disadvantage in comparison with the supreme value of knowing the Messiah Yah'shua (Yeshua/Jesus) as my Master (Lord). It was because of Him that I gave up everything and regard it all as GARBAGE, in order to gain the Messiah and be found in union with Him, not having any rightousness of my own based on legalism (trying to save oneself), but having that righteousness which comes through the Messiah's faithfulness, the righteousness from Elohim (God) based on emunah (trust). Yes, I gave it all up in order to know Him, that is, to know the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings as I am being conformed to His death, so that somehow I might arrive at being resurrected from the dead" (Phil.3:7-11, JNT).

    These and other sayings of Paul lead the ultra-Messianics and non-Messianics to believe that Yah'shua (Jesus) was somehow anti-Torah, which of course he never was. They fail to understand that it was this same Yah'shua (Jesus) who gave the Torah at Mt.Sinai! So how could He be against what He gave as Israel's sacred teachings? What Paul is saying is that knowing the law-Giver personally is infinitely more important than knowing the Law - not that the Law is unimportant, but rather that living the Law withour the Law-Giver is dead works and has no bearing on salvation, for it is only by adhering to the Law-Giver and His Atonement that we are saved. Which would you prefer to have? Your lover or your lover's love-letters? In the lover's absence, the love-letters take on added importance, but in his presence, who wants to pour over the love-letters when they have the real thing?

    All Paul was saying was that he had the real thing, and the real thing - by comparison - made all the rest seem unimportant and the false things like garbage. Today it doesn't matter what race you're from or what language you speak or whether a man's procreative organ has had its end peeled off or whether you can trace your Israelite ancestry, whether you have very religious parents, and so on. These are nothing compared to being in union with Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus), the one thing that Satan wants to prevent at all costs, for then he loses control of them. And the one in union with Messiah lives the Torah lifestyle spontaneously as an obedient wife obeys her husband, not to earn his ahavah (love) but because of it - the authentic ahavah (love) that embraces b'rit (covenant), toqef (authority), tavnith (pattern), the deep emotional stirrings of the lev (heart), and all that defines Divine Echad (Oneness) Ahavah (Love)!

    May you seek and not rest until you have first found union with Messiah!

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