Month 2:1, Rosh Chodesh, Year:Day 5937:031 AM|
ROSH CHODESH II (Shanee haChodesh)
Gregorian Calendar: Friday 10 May 2013
Rosh Chodesh II
Finding the Living Torah
Continued from Part 1
Chag sameach Rosh Chodesh kol beit Yisra'el! May Yahweh bless us as we assembly to hear any words that the nevi'im (prophets) may have to share with us today.
What Is, and Isn't, Allowed on Rosh Chodesh
Before I do that, I just wanted to share a quick word about what can and cannot be done on Rosh Chodesh. This is not a Sabbath rest day and so it is not a day on which to desist from regular work. This means we can also travel. Only two things are required of us on this day:
The Details are Up to You
- 1. That we assemble to hear the Davar Nevi'im (Word of the Prophets), which can be at any time of the day or night and is something that members of local congregations need to discuss and agree amongst themselves - in our family we have a morning assembly and take the entire day off but I can well understand how others might prefer to gather in the evening or maybe very early in the morning; and
- 2. That we do not engage in commercial activity, i.e. we may not buy or sell goods or services.
How you personally dedicate this day is a matter of personal conviction and conscience. I know a lot of people like ourselves who pretty much set the whole day aside to Yahweh, our Heavenly Father, and there is some evidence that the ancients did the same. However, these are the only two scriptural rules that I am aware of so beyond that it is up to you how you honour Yahweh.
Heads of Households Must Establish Rules
So if you want to make it a family day of leisure, do some gardening, go and visit relatives or friends, or do some street evangelism, you are perfectly entitled to do anything like that. So that is how we view Rosh Chodesh until Yah'shua (Jesus) returns and establishes any rules for uniform observance during the Millennium. It is up to the head of each household to establish rules for that house. Of course, if more scriptural or historical evidence comes to light, we will take that into very serious consideration. The bottom line is that this is the day we honour our Heavenly Father according to our understanding of divine tavnith (pattern) and how you wish to do that is between you and Him.
A Revelation on Romans 14
Yesterday I shared a davar (word) with you on Romans 14 which I pray will go further in building bridges between messianics and evangelicals. This is the chapter where Paul tells us how to help those who are weak in the emunah (faith) by supporting and edifying them as they overcome their superstitions and doubts, trust Yah'shua (Jesus) more, and ease themselves into a full Torah lifestyle.
Diet and Calendar Issues in Paul's Day
In Paul's day there were issues with those who were vegetarians who may have followed this dietary lifestyle for aesthetic reasons as so many do today, not understanding that kashrut permits the eating of certain kinds of meat in moderation. There's actually nothing at all forbidding a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle provided once a year lamb is eaten at Pesach (Passover). The problems occur when people think that it is a sin to eat meat or if they believe that vegetarians are 'more spiritual' than meat-eaters or that meat-heaters are 'animal-haters'. Likewise, there were people then, as today, who had calendar issues. The Hellenists, Pharisees, Sadducces and Essenes all followed different calendars with doubtless disagreements on details within each system.
Living With Believers With Different Views
With both kinds of people, Paul admonished patience and in particular not to trample on peoples' consciences. Forcing people to deny their conscience, even if it is wrong, is to break New Covenant Torah - it is a sin, because it is from our conscience that free-will springs, and free-will must come before all else! When some of the Yehudim (Judahites) of Yah'shua's (Jesus') day wanted Him to condemn a woman caught in adultery - in plain violation of the Torah - Yah'shua (Jesus) did not pounce on her and cry, 'You Torah-violator! Now you must be punished! Stone her to death!' even though He would have been perfectly justified in doing so. Yes, He acknowledged her guilt and that did not negate the fact that she deserved the penalty of Torah, but what did He do? He ministered both to the hard-heartedness and hypocrisy of the Yehudim (Judahites) who were demanding the woman's blood and to the need of the adulterous woman to be delivered from a very serious sin indeed. In His action Yah'shua (Jesus) demonstrated two things, namely, that:
Appealing to Heart Torah
- 1. The orginal intent of the Torah was not to destroy but to redeem (Lk.9:56); and
- 2. All are guilty of sin and come under the condemnation of the Torah!
Yah'shua (Jesus) did not make an appeal to the written letter of the Torah, important though that is, but to the spiritual substance behind it when to the woman's detractors He said:
There was a long pause while He wrote something on the ground.
"He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first" (John 8:7, NKJV).
We are All Torah Violators
"Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Yah'shua (Jesus) was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst" (John 8:9, NKJV).
This is one of the most important Torah revelations in the New Covenant. It reveals, as I pointed out, that every single one of us is in violation of Torah. Of Yah'shua (Jesus) it is written:
Yah'shua Was Not Announcing an End to Torah
"For we do not have a Cohen Gadol (High Priest) who cannot sympathise with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb.4:15, NKJV).
When the adulterous woman was dismissed since there were no longer any accusers against her, all having been convicted of their own sinfulness, Yah'shua (Jesus) did not imply that He had dismissed the Law - Torah! This was not an early Evangelical Christian doctrine-in-the-making announcing that since no one could keep Torah without sinning that Torah was to be thrown out! On the contrary, Yah'shua (Jesus) said to the woman:
The Standard of Righteousness Has Not Been Annulled
"Go and sin no more" (John 8:11, NKJV).
If it had been impossible for her to overcome the spirit of adultery, do you think He would have commanded her to do it? And if notice was indeed being served to nullify the Torah, how could He have commanded her to "sin no more" since what would have been left to identity what sin was? How can a man declare he is a sinner in need of salvation if he has no set of laws telling him what sin is? Indeed, how can he even repent of individual sins? The Torah says what is sinful and what is righteous so it is absolutely required and remains the standard of Yahweh's holiness for mankind.
Getting to the Heart of the Matter
But this is not my main point today. My main point is that Yah'shua (Jesus) wants us to get to the heart of the matter with a view to bringing redemption into every situation where sinning takes place. He does this by first and foremost appealing to conscience, however defiled that conscience may be, because no human conscience is 100 per cent defiled because no man is pure demon.
Food Offered to Demons: A Case in Point
In Paul's day, pagan converts were afraid to eat meat that had been offered to idols, something Hindus and animists still do today. Of such former pagans who would not touch meat that has been offered to demonic deities, the apostle said:
Starter Dough Torah vs. Baking Soda Torah
"But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled" (1 Cor.8:7, NIV).
Yah'shua (Jesus) always appeals to our conscience whether defiled or not. Part of our growing spiritually involves absorbing more and more emet (truth) progressively into our minds and levim (hearts) so that we are better able to discern and live righteously. New Covenant Torah is first and foremost located here because this is where chayim (life) springs up. New Covenant Torah is not of the dusty and lifeless recesses of the mind, brain or intellect as it is in Judaism and certain kinds of Messianism. It is a living thing, like the starter dough we spoke of at Chag haMatzah this year. It's not lifeless baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). So when Yah'shua (Jesus) appealed to Torah, it was always at the place where it is living. He did so with both the accusers of the adulterous woman and with the adulterous woman herself. He was not excusing the sinfulness of either but reminding them to go to the source of chayim (life) to resolve right and wrong whilst at the same time affirming the validity if the written Torah.
Relocating the Torah in the New Covenant
If the Tanakh (Old Testament) lays emphasis on the written Torah because the people were hard-hearted, the New Testament lays emphasis on the Torah written on the lev (heart) where is is alive! As Yahweh spoke through the prophet Jeremiah...and please notice to whom He is speaking:
Activating the Trial Software of Salvation
"Behold, the days are coming, says Yahweh, when I will make a New Covenant (B'rit Chadashah) with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah -- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers (at Sinai) in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says Yahweh. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those (Old Covenant) days, says Yahweh: I will put My Torah (Law) in their minds, and write it on their levim (hearts); and I will be their Elohim (God), and they shall be My people" (Jer.31:31-33, NKJV).
This is a supernatural activity performed by Yahweh on those who yield their lives to Yah'shua (Jesus) and who, in the process, are born again or spiritually regenerated. It's actually already there in part or as a small deposit and has been since the very first man, Adam, had Yahweh breathe the breath of chayim (life) into him (Gen.2:7). Every single soul, from Adam to the last soul that will be born into this world, possesses a portion of "the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world" (John 1:9, NKJV). Like a piece of starter dough, we are all born with this Torah-impregnated light in our beings. However, it is not the fullness. Like a piece of trial software you can download and use for up to 30 days before you have to pay for a licence, this Light of Messiah is only to lead us to the Fullness, Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) Himself. It's not the final thing. It is not the fullness. It's our conscience, which we can either keep pure or defile by refusing to be led by it by disregarding its promptings to live morally, until we find and choose Yah'shua (Jesus) and give Him all of ourself! Yah'shua (Jesus) is waiting to activate that 'starter dough' once you have the 'activation key' which is repentance and full surrender to Yah'shua (Jesus) as Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour) from sin. And the thing is, the Torah was there all along as a living principle. But it too needs 'activation'.
Guilty as Charged by the Light of Truth
Those unsaved Yehudim (Judahites) who wanted to stone that woman, and indeed the adulterous woman herself, had their consciences touched by Yah'shua (Jesus) - that living portion of Torah already in them - to make a moral judgment based on living emet (truth) and Torah. Both knew they were guilty! And indeed both needed Yah'shua (Jesus) as their Deliverer and Saviour from sin. Whether any of them did receive Him we are not told. But many others did and the little spark of conscience was transformed into a brightly burning torch!
Living Torah is the Main Torah
The Torah written on the lev (heart) does not negate the written Torah but the Torah in the lev (heart) is THE MAIN THING because it's alive! It's supernatural leaven. Yah'shua (Jesus) is Himself the Living Torah. And when we are in Him, submitted to all Emet (Truth), then we are strong, our conscience is no longer defiled, and we are able to overcome our weakness in His resurrection power.
We Struggle to Overcome
Some changes take time because we are weak in the emunah (faith) and need time to overcome just as there are messianics today who struggle with the Jewish calendar and evangelicals who just can't seem to understand that the Torah is still binding in a New Covenant context. These differences are, moreover, no cause to guilt or condemn those who are honestly wrestling with these issues. Rather, we are to love them and help them along the way as and when they are willing and able, remembering that we too have had to wrestle with "hard questions" (1 Kings 10:1, NKJV). I can truthfully say that the people who I am most grateful for have been those who patiently laboured with me without condemning me, when I was still in darkness about certain things. They recognised that I had received a common salvation with them and were not claiming to be 'superior'. Those who outright condemned me for being in error, even if they were doctrinally right, turned me off and possibly delayed my efforts to get right with Yahweh. They did not let any light shine for me to see but tried to use dusty words as a cudgel to force me into submission to them. Once we realise it's not about us but about living emet (truth) then it is to living emet (truth) that we must always point. That leaves us firmly out of the equation, as it should be.
These are the thoughts I have to share with you today. I have no new word for you about world events and the economic collapse but I do urge you to finally quit all debts (in case you didn't know, in some places they are now throwing debtors into prison - it's now happening in Iowa) and to make sure you have your year's store laid up. Not only that, but get ready to witness because people are going to need Yah'shua (Jesus) like never before:
Remember, there is also a Late Pesach (Passover) for those who missed the main one in two week's time. There is still time to repent even at this late hour! May you all have a blessed Rosh Chodesh as we prepare for what may be out last month of liberty for some time. Amen.
"For whoever calls on the name of Yahweh (with real intent) shall be saved" (Rom.10:13, NKJV).