Sermons Series 3:70, 23 December 2006
Birthdays, Circumcision and Tests of Faith
Important Historical Note: Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon abandoned the observance of Hanukkah at the end of 2006. For a full explanation as to why, please see the sermon, Our Last Hanukkah: The Gospel vs. The Sword (30.12.2006). This sermon has been retained, along with earlier ones, as an illustration of the process of investigation and discovery that finally led to that decision. We recommend that you read this later sermon first in order to get a proper perspective.
Shabbat shalom and welcome to our last Sabbath assembly this Hanukkah. It's been a week of lighting candles, reflecting on scripture that speaks of light - and in particular, remembering that Yah'shua is the Light of the World - and celebrating a late or 'second Sukkot' which was what the original Hanukkah in effect was. And at the beginning of the celebration we once again examined the various traditions that were added to Hanukkah by the rabbis as we have sought to strip away all but the basic elements and keep things simple - simple enough so that a child can understand and actively participate. We want to restore the Hebraic family life structure and remove the artificial 'generation gap' that polarised society into different age groups forty or so years ago. We want a community that is, above all, echad in love and truth.
The Sons of Job and a History of Birthdays
We seem to have quite a lot of birthday celebrations at this time of the year and indeed it is not uncommon for birthdays to fall during the festivals which we observe. So I thought this might be a useful opportunity to take a look at birthday observance particularly as last week we were looking at Romans 14 and the observance of special days not a part of Yahweh's moedim. I thought this might also be a good opportunity to clarify the new Section 301 of the Olive Branch which contains a statement about birthday celebrations, so perhaps I can start today by sharing that part with you:
"The day of the birth of a child is to be celebrated with rejoicing and thanksgiving by New Covenant Christians according to scripture (Ps.127:3; Jer.20:15; Lk.1:57-58) and children blessed by their fathers or guardians according to New Covenant Practice (OB 47;48). The annual celebration of birthdays is neither approved of nor condemned in Scripture. Nevertheless all the references to this practice are in a negative context, and refer to pagans and debaucherers like Pharaoh, Herod Antipas and an apostate King of Israel when princes made themselves sick on wine (Hos.7:5). The counsel of the Patriarchate has always been, and continues to be, that members should set a good example and not imitate pagan ways when it comes to annual birthday celebrations. Such celebrations, whilst coming under the liberty of Messiah, should be done to glorify Yahweh and not to gratify the lusts of the celebrants" (OB 301:4-8).
We have a good example of not what to do in the story of Job's sons. The Book of Job begins by informing us that this patriarch was "perfect and tzadik (holy), one that feared Elohim, and turned aside from evil" (Job 1:1, RSTNE). And then it goes on to say that this man of Yahweh had seven sons and three daughters, and proceeds to describe his wealth. We next read:
"And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one on his own day, and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and drink with them" (v.4, RSTNE).
It is the view of most commentators that their "own day" referrs to their birthdays since that is really the only day that one can really call completely one's 'own' - unless they decided privately amongst themselves that they would assign each other days and have regular eating and drinkling binges. At any rate, we can deduce from what follows that Job was very concerned about their behaviour:
"And it was so, when the days of their feasting were over, that Iyov (Job) sent for them and set them apart, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burned offerings according to their number; for Iyov (job) said, It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed Elohim in their levim (hearts). This did Iyov (Job) continually" (v.5, RSTNE).
There then follows the account of how Satan challenged the integrity of Job before Yahweh's face (vv.6-12). Notice how Satan launched his attack on one of those feast- or birthdays, this time of the eldest son (v.13). It is clear that his sons and daughters drank too much wine otherwise Job would not have gone to the trouble of offering sacrifices for their sins 'just in case'. It is also significant that Job was not present at these feasts since he did not know what they said during them and feared they might be blaspheming under the influence of strong drink.
It is my belief that Job's sons and daughters were not set-apart in the same way as Job was in his heart and that they had, in fact, an open door to enemy attack. These children of his were celebrating birthdays just like the pagans did! Why was Job not present at these celebrations? Wouldn't that be a normal thing for a father to do? Or did they deliberaterly exclude him, knowing he would not agree to what they were doing? They evidently all lived close by to one another. Did they exclude their father or did he stay away of his own choice, knowing the nature of their celebrations? We are not told whether these children were good or bad, only that they had birthday parties where alcohol flowed freely and Job was worried enough for their souls to insist that they come to him for a ceremonial cleansing after each feast.
I do not believe Yahweh would have given permission to Satan to afflict Job's family unless there were legal grounds for the enemy to do so because of the eternal laws which were established before the Creation. Yahweh cannot break his own laws without unthroning Himself. But He can afflict and test someone who voluntarily gives himself to Him, as Job did, by virtue of the principle of consentual and covenantal ownership. Job's suffering brought glory to Yahweh, shame to the demonic hosts, an important lesson to himself, spiritual growth, and a powerful testimony to us, demonstrating that even before his trial, he was perfect as a human being in Yahweh's eyes. It is remarkable, actually, that his 'friends' later accused him so vehemently of the opposite. Just listen to this diatribe from Eliphaz:
"Is it for your piety that [Yahweh] rebukes you and brings charges against you? Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless? You demanded security from your brothers for no reason; you stripped men of their clothing, leaving them naked. You gave no water to the weary and you withheld food from the hungry, though you were a powerful man, owning land - an honoured man, living on it. And you sent widows away empty-handed and broke the strength of the fatherless. That is why snares are all around you, why sudden peril terrifies you, why it is so dark you cannot see, and why a flood of water covers you." (Job 22:4-11, NIV).
And yet Yahweh had said that Job was "blameless and upright (or "perfect and holy" - RSTNE); he feared Elohim and shunned evil" (Job 1:1, NIV). How could someone who apparently knew him so well, who was one of his supposed close 'friends', so falsely accuse him? What we see here is a very interesting phenomenon because it happens today as much as it did back then: When a man is prosperous and wealthy, he is praised; but when a man becomes destitute, attitudes change because people judge by the outward appearance (1 Sam.16:7). They knew he was a righteous and blameless man before trouble struck him so they must have known they were lying. So why did they do this? Why attack him so savagely? And remember, these were religious people who said they believed in Yahweh - or at least nominally.
We need to remember that when trouble befalls us that sometimes it can be because of our own sins, sometimes because of others in our family, and at other times it can simply be a part of Yahweh's refining fire, as we have discussed at length already. In the case of Job, we see that the problem is twofold - his children were not following Yahweh - they were feasting and celbrating themselves, on their birthdays, even though they had actually contributed nothing in bringing themselves into the world. They were simply getting drunk over an event that they had had absolutely no control of or responsibility for - they had not 'achieved' anything by being born and judging by their conduct, they certainly weren't praising Yahweh, else their father would not have been so concerned and stayed away.
Job's children perished because, as we say in deliverance ministry, there were 'legal grounds' - they had clearly been brought up in the admonition of Yahweh by their devoted father but had not responded and perhaps even turned - partially or wholly - to paganism. They had rejected their father's counsel and gone out of the way. And we remember how Job's wife had told her husband to curse Yahweh and die (Job 2:9), revealing the possible origin of the children's spiritual disposition and attitudes through their mother. Their birthday celebration was entirely selfish and hedonistic, and I feel sure their mother did not offer any objections.
Now the tradition of birthday parties started in Europe a long time ago. It may not surprise you to learn that many birthday traditions that are followed are of pagan origin and based in superstition. One of these superstitions was that evil spirits were particularly attracted to people on their birthdays and so, in order to protect birthday celebrants, it was important that friends and family could come together with the person celebrating his birth and bring good thoughts and wishes to counter the ill effects of the demons. By giving gifts they hoped to bring even more good cheer and thereby ward off the evil spirits. This was the origin of the 'birthday party' as we know it today. Of course, as we know from ancient history, it was only kings and other important people who initially celebrated birthdays. The Egyptians only observed them for their rulers because they believed them to be incarnating gods, so this was primarily a celebration of the birth of cosmic deities in human form. They held parades, circuses, gladatorial contests and sumptuous feasts. The Romans staged parades and chariot races to celebrate birthdays, and usually in honour of their demon gods. Mere mortals were not honoured or even remembered on the day of their birth. Is it possible, then, that Job's children were involved in more than self-honour - might they have been honouring pagan deities too? There father was a man of wealth, power and influence, perhaps the equivalent of a sheikh as Abrahm later came to be. We can't be sure of that. But whatever they were doing, it gave Satan legal grounds to kill them. That leads me to believe they were originhally covenants sons of Yahweh, brought up in truth, but chose to go off the way to one degree or another. I am concluding that by their choices they lost their father's covering.
It was only over time that children began to be included in birthday celebrations. The very first children's birthday parties originated in Germany and were called Kinderfeste. The 'birthday cake' is only 200 years old. It originated in Germany in the Kinderfeste and was made of sweetened bread dough and coated with sugar. It was believed that if you dropped the birthday cake it would bring bad luck the following year. Coins, buttons and rings were baked into the cake and the guest receiving the slice with the coin was supposedly guaranteed riches in the future - the one who got the ring was by contrast guaranteed a happy marriage.
What about the tradition of blowing out candles? Well, anciently, people used to pray over the flames of an open fire because they believed that the smoke carried their thoughts up to the gods. Out of this the superstition arose the belief that if you blew out all the candles in one breath your wishes would come true.
Well, we have been looking at various superstitions that the Talmudists introduced into Hanukkah and have done away with them. It's worth pondering over how we celebrate birthdays too and why we actually celebrate them. In our household we don't have 'parties' per se - it's just a family affair, and then mostly for the children. The 'celebration of self' doesn't exactly fulfil many, if any, spiritual criteria for happiness though we feel it is good to give thanks to Yahweh and to affirm our children's worth.
The Three Seleucid Bans
You will recall that the Seleucid Greeks under Aniochus Epiphanes specifically forbade three of Yahweh's commandments. The first was Sabbath observance; the second was Circumcision; and the third, New Moon observance. And, of course, they forbade the reading of Torah itself. I wonder why the dark forces prompted the Greeks to specifically single out these three?
Today, especially in the United States (where is is done routinely at birth for hygenic reasons on about 70% of the male population), in some nations of East Africa like Kenya and Tanzania (where it is a rite of passage into adulthood), in Britain until 1949 and in the Islamic world (in imitation of the Hebrews), circumcision is pretty common and not necessarily connected to religious observance. Some of you may have heard that there has been a huge campaign in South Africa to circumcise males as it supposedly reduces the risk of AIDS. Circumcision, however, predated both the Israelites under Moses and Abraham himself. It was widespread not only amongst Semitic peoples generally but also in ancient Egypt. However, the Egyptians eventually discontinued it, apart from the priestly class. As New Covenant Christians we believe that the physical act has been abolished in Yah'shua. Indeed, if this is a true saying of Yah'shua, then this quotation from the Gospel of Thomas certainly reflects our position:
"His disciples said to him, 'is circumcision useful or not?' He said to them, 'If it were useful, their father would produce children already circumcised from their mother. Rather, the true circumcision in ruach (spirit) has become profitable in every respect'" (Gospel of Thomas, Logion 53).
Almost all Messianic Jews and Israelites would react in horror to such a position and indeed this is perhaps one of the things that separates us from them. I am sure many of you have heard their arguments as to why they believe cicumcision is still necessary. I don't have time to go into all of that today so I am going to cut a very long story short and look at a key scripture that really settles the matter for us, a scripture that most Messianics put through all kinds of acrobatics to get it to say what they want it to say. So I am going to quote from what I believe to be the most accurate translation of the New Testament available today, based on the Aramaic texts - moreover, the translator has been honest enough to leave it as it stands even though it contradicts his own position on circumcision - for that I respect him. I imagine you will have guessed which passage I am referring to as it is used by antinomians to argue that all the Torah has been done away with. Here it is from the Aramaic:
"If a man was called [to New Covenant Israel] while circumcised, he should not return to un-circumcision [what the Judahites did during the Greek period under Antiochus Epiphanes by going through an operation to 'uncircumcise' themselves]. And if he was called in un-circumcision, he should not be circumcised [i.e. don't be circumcised if you were converted uncircumcised]. For circumcision is not anything, neither un-circumcision, but the observances of the commandments of Elohim" (1 Cor.7:18-19, HRV - comments added).
As we look at the first of these two verses we see something interesting. Paul is telling circumcised converts - that is, Judahites - not to bother getting uncircumcised. And then he goes and tells uncircumcised converts not to bother about getting circumcised either. He uses two extreme behaviours to point out that circumcision in the New Covenant "is not anything" - it's now meaningless either way, and is no longer a commandment of Elohim.
Remember, that this passage of scripture was written in the first century AD, no more than 100-150 years after the period of Seleucid Greek rule in which Hellenised Judahites were going through a surgical operation to get themselves 'uncircumcised' in order to appear like the uncircumcised Greeks, presumably largely because of the very popular and frequent sporting events: the Greeks always performed nude in athletic events.
As recently as 1936 when the nazis hosted the Olympic Games in Berlin and made a film about it called Olympia, they daringly portrayed nude athletes in the opening historical section of the movie as they tried to recreate the 'spirit' of the original Olympics. Had they won the war that came three years later it would not have surprised me to find athletes performing nude as a matter of course too - as the nazis idolised the classical Greek ideal in architecture, sport and attitudes. And in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the Olympic choreographer, Dimitris Papaioannou, introduced a bare-breasted actress playing the part of a pagan priestess based on a Minoan statue holding snakes in both hands, with clear satanic overtones, in the opening ceremony. Not only that, but they had male nude actors, though the lower half of their bodies was censored in a special film version for countries which might object to this. Expect a lot more nudity to come.
King Herod, when he was in power in Judea, and in imitation of the ways of the Hellenists in the time of Antiochus IV, built all the customary cultural institutions of a Hellenist city including a hippodrome, amphitheatre and a theatre. If you have ever seen a model of Jerusalem from the time Yah'shua lived, you may have noticed that right next to the Antonia Fortress that overlooked the Temple was an amphitheatre, and in that amphitheatre, Herod patronised olympic-style sports which attracted the most renowned athletes from all over the Roma Empire. And whilst the Romans did not race naked, there is absolutely no doubt that a century and a half before the Hellenised Judahites did.
Anyway, the thing is, there must have been some Greek converts to Judaism who then became converts to Yah'shua who, learning that circumcision was not important, thought to themselves: "Well, why not get uncircumcised as they did a century-and-a-half ago! Let's go back to the way we were". These people are not mentioned anywhere else in the Scriptures but their extremist rivals were, whom we have come to call the 'Judaizers', who were insisting that all gentile converts get circumcised to become a true part of Messianic Israel.
Most contemporary Messianics explain this using Avi ben Mordechai's theory that the controversy was only about two kinds of circumcision - circumcision according to Talmudic and Rabbinical tradition, and circumcision according to Mosaic Torah alone (a Karaite position). However, this scripture shows that actually there were two extremes - a 'circumcise the Gentiles' party and an 'uncircumcise the Judahites' party, neither of which were correct! The debate as to what men should do with their male organ to be acceptable New Covenant Israelites was irrelevent because in Messiah it is irrelevent. "But", Paul adds, "keeping Elohim's commands is what counts" (v.19, NIV). You would be amazed how modern Messianics twist that phrase too to mean that circumcision as an Old Covenant commandment - as one of the commandments given at Sinai - must be obeyed even though that contradicts the first part of the sentence and the verse before it. What Paul is saying is that in the New Covenant being circumcised physically "isn't one of Elohim's commands" anymore than animal sacrifices are.
Baptism vs. Circumcision
The outer sign of the entering the New Covenant today is baptism by immersion which follows a change of heart - an inner circumcision of the heart (Dt.30:6; Rom.2:29) - mediated by the Ruach haRishon. It leaves no physical marks on the body because it is based on the testimony of eye-witnesses rather than the cutting away of any flesh.
During the Soviet era, the performing of baptisms was done by unregistered Baptists in secret - I suspect that baptism by immersion will be one of the ordinances forbidden by the end-time 'Antiochus Epiphanes' too just as it was in communist Russia. I believe the 7th day Sabbath will be made illegal as well making it impossible for Messianic employees to ask for Saturday off. The Catholic Church has been putting a lot of pressure on the European Union to make Sunday the official 'day of rest' but has so far only succeeded in getting the seventh day 'changed' into the 'sixth' day of the week. So now in Europe Sunday is, by human decree, the 'seventh' day and Monday the 'first' day of the week. Not so to Yahweh and Messianic Israelites - the Seventh Day remains Saturday, except between easterb Turkey and the manmade International date Line.
Circumcision was a 'huge' thing in the New Testament Messianic community and we see history repeating itself with the resurrection of this controversy today. We need to remind ourselves of what gives life and what doesn't. Yah'shua said:
"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:16, NIV).
Or as the Aramaic-based HRV puts it:
"Whoever believes and is immersed will live, and whoever does not believe will be condemned" (Ibid., HRV).
What Yah'shua nowhere says is that 'whoever believes and is circumcised will be saved or live'. That baptism is given the prominence that it is in the New Covenant scriptures, and in this case associated with life and condemnation, indictates to me - in conjunction with what Paul has saud - the passing of the highly visible sign of physical circumcision and its replacement by an ordinance, though present as the mikvah in the Old Covenant, which has to do with purification by fire - for you will remember the ritual immerison by the priests in the bronze laver in the Outer Court of the Tabernacle before they could enter the Holy place.
The Judahites of first century Judea were very hung up on circumcision much as Seventh Day Adventists today are over the Sabbath (which forms part of their name), Baptists over baptism, and charismatics over tongues, and so forth. The 'cutting away of sin' has now been done by Yah'shua and replaces all the temple sacrifices and circumcision, both of which involved blood-letting. The pain of sin and blood-letting for the redemption of that sin has all been done by Yah'shua the Messiah - there is no further need for this kind of activity. When the various judgments of Yahweh come to us, the 'evidence' for judgment will be the state of our hearts and whether they are circumcised or not, not whether a foreskin on males is present or absent.
Rosh Chodesh - the New Moon
What, then, of New Moon observance? Why did the Greeks target that in particular? Because not only is the New Moon a moed or festival of Yahweh but it is the basis on which all the festivals and holy days (except the Sabbath) are calculated. The whole sacred calendar rests on correct new moon observance. To attack the New Moon is therefore to attack eight different sacred observances in one go.
Now I don't know what your experience in the work place is, but getting time off from secular work to observe the extra sabbaths during the festivals of Yahweh is not always easy, unless you work flexitime. I believe it will get harder and harder. As the world plummets into global dictatorship, so all peoples will likely be forced to observe a Sunday rest day and the various mandated holidays decreed by the state - such as May Day, Christmas, New Year, and so on. Refusing to comply with these, or to ask for 'extra' holidays, will probably result in arrest. If you think that fanciful, ask a German holocaust survivor if Jews in Nazi Germany were allowed to ask for Passover, Yom Kippur or Tabernacles vaccations from their non-Jewish employers.
The enemy knows how to target believers. In the run-up to the Tribulation period, the only way it will be possible to be a practicing Messianic Israelite will be to be self-employed or a part of some Messianic Israelite business, until that becdomes illegal because the employers won't accept the mark of the beast. And when the Tribulation starts, the only way to be able to observe all the commandments will be in the cities of refuge. What, then, will your response be when fulfilling Yahweh's commandments becomes illegal? Will you imitate the way of the Judahites and cave in until your conscience cannot bear your load of sin anymore? Well, I believe many who do not prepare for the cities of refuges, because they were slothful or because they believed in such lies as the 'rapture', will either become martyrs like our Judahite forefathers before the Maccabean revolt or compromise and receive the mark of the beast. I for one have no intention of allowing myself to enter into that predicament when wisdom, foresight and common sense tells me to prepare my family for the places of safety. I take the promises of Scripture very seriously, which I hope you do as well, as we read in Isaiah:
"'If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and Yahweh's holy day honourable, and if you honour it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in Yahweh, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.' The mouth of Yahweh has spoken" (Isa.58:13-14. NIV).
These are incredible promises for those who observe the Sabbath and observe it with a right heart: 'joy in Yahweh', 'riding on the heights' (meaning, having complete control of your home and land), and 'feasting on your inheritance' (meaning, having everything you need in abundance, just as Job did).
What is Your Attitude to Torah?
At this time of the year, we should be determining whether our adherence to Torah is casual or serious. And it is easy to be indifferent to such a question in times of peace. However, we all know - both from scripture and from the evidence of the emerging beast system all around us - that our days of peace will not last forever. They are already being disturbed. Our freedoms everywhere are being eroded and few are doing anything to protest. So unless you believe you are being called to be a lone voice to go and reform government or warn the people as Jeremiah was in his day, be wise, get right with your Creator, honour the Sabbath, and prepare for the times ahead - and if not for yourself, then at least for your children!
The End-Time Scenario
Although the Seleucid Greeks allowed physical freedom, they attacked the spiritual. They allowed the Judahites to teach and study the Torah as a cultural tradition but not to practice it as a way of life, and specifically to ensure that the covenant with Yahweh was broken. I am sure that Church buildings, Christian art, and the study of the Bible and theology will continue during the Antichrist period to come - these things go on today to. It is not the cultural heritage that the dark forces attack but the actual living out of the truth. When I was in the Soviet Union, I saw Christian cultural displays everywhere, but Christianity was being persecuted. Christianity as a museum relic is no threat to the spirit of antichrist - it is the spirit of Christ that is the threat, that which fills a believer with love, hope, inner peace and an insatiable love of freedrom that the truth brings and which threatens the world of darkness. You will be allowed to have Chrisianity as an intellectual hobby but woe betide you if you try to practice it. Thus the aim of Antiochus Epiphanes was to make the feasts, sabbaths, new moons and temple observation things of the past, the very observances that allow us to draw closer to Yahweh through faith in Messiah.
Now you might think that the victory of the Maccabees over the Seleucids leading to a restoration of Israelite life would have ensured the survival of the nation. Historically we know it did not last much more than a century. Maccabbean Judea was not exactly 'spiritual' either, even before the Roman conquest. Like a virus that inserts and hides its genetic material into the DNA in our own cells, so the spiritual ideas and powers of the 'gentile experience' had already worked their way into the Judahite soul. The outer observances may have been restored but the Israelite man was already spoiled and did not take long to degenerate again. We remember the forced converstion and circumcision of the Nabateans or Idumeans.
The next generation of Judahites was taught that Torah study was a study of ancient history and no longer relevent to contemporary needs - doesn't that sound familiar? They were told that they didn't need to observe all the mitzvot because they were an enlightened culture that had grown out of these things. You see, although the Maccabbees defeated the Greeks, they did not overcome themselves. The objectives of the Greeks were spiritual, just as those of the Illuminati are today. They weren't directly interested in the political or physical, though the Illuminati are after these things too ultimately. Today in the West we have incredible 'freedoms' physically speaking but we are chained in fetters to 'political correctness', a euphemism for the dictatorship of a new anti-Christian, occultic, neo-pagan spirituality identical in almost every respect to that of the Seleucids 2,100 years ago but masked in modern verbiage.
It is sad that the message of Hanukkah did not fully filter down into the Judahite soul after the liberation from Antiochus IV. The symbolism was clear. You see, if they had wanted to, the priests rededicating the temple could have lit the Menorah with impure oil, because lighting the eternal flame as part of the Temple service was practically-speaking more important than the quality of the oil. They only had one cruise of pure oil - the oil manufactured according to the Torah recipe - and as we know it was only sufficient for one day at the most. If the priests had lit the Menorah with impure oil, and waited a few days while the ingredients for the proper oil were found, the pure oil could have been substituted in later. But they didn't. They decided - quite rightly - to accept nothing less than pure oil and to trust Yahweh to make up the difference.
During the Greek rule, the Judahites had lived without the purity and holiness that formed the platform of a normal relationship with Yahweh. To be totally free required lighting the eternal flame of the Menorah with pure oil just as to become children of the first resurrection requires that we seek for purity of the Ruach, before the psyche, first and then let Yahweh look after any quantitative lack. Look at us today. In terms of physical things - in terms of quantity - we are, here in MLT, what you might call 'impoverished'. We could have redirected our time and efforts to other things and neglected the pursuit of purity, but where would it have got us? What would our spiritual inheritance have been?
Whether there was a physical miracle at the first Hanukkah or not, or whether it was invented by the Talmudists to encourage religious nationalism, isn't so important as the fact that the story does teach a very valuable lesson as to priority-setting. It is better to be pure and poor than dirty and rich. And that is because the only treasure that matters is the one we store up in heaven (Lk.12:33; Mt.19:21; Mk.10:21; Lk.18:22). Personally I do not wish to end this life in a state of impurity, find I have missed my chance for the first resurrection and have to spend a millennium as a disembodied spirit going through a spiritual fire of purging when I can do that here and now. Then I can look forward for a thousand years with my beloved in a world ruled by Yah'shua and the Council of Yah's elohim and enjoy the choicest blessings of heaven.
The one thing that physical life offers that a life as a disembodied spirit does not is the rapidity of burning. Now 70+ years may seem a long time to you to go through the refining process but I am convinced that it is a lot preferable to 1,000 years. Or to translate that into simpler mathematics for you, I'd rather train up to be a son of Elohim on a one year intense crash course than a 14 year-long one, especially when the 1 year course gives me a better qualification in the end. Think about it - a 1 year intensive course to become a son or daughter of the first resurrection versus a 14 year extensive course that only winds me up with the second resurrection. I know it sounds mercinary to put it that way, but which would you choose? When the going gets tough, you feel you're going crazy, and you feel the pressure is too great to bear, remembering this perspective is helpful. It's tempting to think that this life is 'all there is' and that one should therefore do everything possible to 'make the best of it' for yourself. Having a revelation that this life is but a short but tough race compared to eternity does, I think, help.
It's been a tough week for us here with challenges and crises piling up on top of each other - and I know there are others of you out there who are running similar obstacle courses. So let me end today and this Hanukkah season for 2006 with, I hope, a word of encouragement.
For some time now we have been planning a new Song Book and one that for the first time bears the MLT label. This will be our sixth volume. We have been on the search for more hymns and songs to augment our slim English edition which was made for the USA congregations a few years ago. Finding words that both adapt to the Sacred Names, rhyme, and convey a powerful spiritual message is not easy. Some of the best hymns are, of course, to be found in the Psalms - they are really Ruach-packed. I wish we had some New Testament psalms too. Well, actually, we do - you just have to look for poetic text in the scriptures and you can be pretty sure that at some point they were put to a musical score too. One such hymn is recorded by Paul in his second letter to Timothy. Let me read it to you:
"For if we died with Him,
We shall also live with Him.
We shall also reign with Him.
As you will see, the text of this early Christian hymn contains a number of "If ... then" statements, each an important conditional promise, just the kind of thing we need to remind ourselves of through praise.
"If we died with Yah'shua, we shall also live with Him" which may perhaps recall to your memory the words of Paul to the Colossians:
"And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses" (Col.2:13, NKJV).
Without Yah'shua, we are spiritually dead. But before we can come to life again, and so inherit the resurrection, we must first die again - this time to self. We have to transfer the locus of our half-life from 'self' to 'Him' - from 'me' to 'Yah'shua'. We are dead because of sin and live in a state of guilt. Satan wants you to believe that the guilt is artificially imposed, a manipulation by 'religious' people when, he claims, you are already 'good'. However, bad does not beget good, nor good beget bad. The world without Yahweh and apart from His Torah, and apart from the redemption of Yah'shua, is a mess. Self-life is always dead-life - we may be alive biologically but in our hearts we are only living a pretence of life without Him. We need the free gift of His salvation and the New Birth of the Ruach haRishon. We need that more than anything else in the world. And we have only to honestly and sincerely ask for it in single-mindedness and with real intent, as the apostle James admonishes us, to get it. But you do have to be real about it.
The next line of the hymn says: "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him". The King James Version calls that "suffer" but "endure" is the more accurate translation. What does it mean to "endure"? Sit in a hole while the tempests of life go by overhead? No. Yah'shua says:
"To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne" (Rev.3:21, NIV).
To endure is not to passively sit by and 'take what comes' but to actively get into the fray and build. As we build, so we are opposed; and as we are opposed, so we are strengthened, because we are doing right. To endure is, like Jacob the Overcomer, to have a destination set by Yahweh and to head for it, and not give up until you have got there! If we endure - if we overcome - then we are promised rulership too with Him, serving just as He served.
"If we deny Him, He also will deny us". Yah'shua said:
"Whoever disowns Me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven" (Matt.10:33, NIV).
If you hide your faith in shame and agree with the world, joining in with the world and imitating it, then you are disowning Yah'shua.
"If we are faithless, He remains faithful">. That makes you pause for breath, doesn't it? He sticks around even when we, in our weak moments, desert Him! And He is asking us to do the same: when your friends abandon you, will you still remain true to them, like our Master does to us? The apostle is also telling us that Yah'shua's promises are sure whether they be warnings of judgment or promises of blessing. Yahweh promised Joshua:
"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and of good courage" (Josh.1:5-6, NKJV).
That means that just as Yahweh was with Joshua, he will be with you if you have the heart of a Moses or a heart of a Joshua and desire to serve Yahweh your Elohim with your whole, might, mind and strength! He will not forsake you! So be strong - resolute, determined - and of good courage! Don't flee the battlefield, press on to victory, in perfect faith!
Finally, the hymn says: "He cannot deny Himself". It began with, "This is a faithful saying" and ends with, "He cannot deny Himself". We have grounds for confidence in His words - always! Though we may deny ourselves, or Him, or others, He doesn't! And if He abides in you, then you will get the same kind of character yourselves as He does and not deny yourself - your true self and your true convictions. There is the evidence for Yah'shua being in you or nor. You will hold fast to your word. If we can be sure that Yahweh will live up to His side of the bargain because His very nature demands it, then we, who are acquiring the nature of Messiah through faith and obedience, must learn to live up to our covenants too. For that is the hallmark of all true men and women. May we have courage like the Maccabeans, stand up against all lies and evil, and see our life's work through, is my prayer in Yah'shua's Name, Amen.
|Glossary of MLT Hebraic, Greek and English Terms |
For other terms and full details please see the Micropedia
AGlossary Copyright ©2007 Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon (MLT) - All Rights Reserved
Adon(ai) = Master, a pagan fertility god, Adonis; used by many Messianics but not MLT
(a)eon(ian) = 7 dispensation- or age-long time periods, not forever (see le-olam-va-ed)
Alef-Tav = Alpha-Omega, A-Z, first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet = Yah'shua
Amen = truly, let it be so, written Amein by some Messianics
Apocrypha = Hebraic Scriptures not a part of the Protestant canon (e.g. Baruch)
Anti-Messiah = Hebraic term for the end-time Antichrist or anyone opposed to the Messiah
antinomian = lawless Christian who disregards all or part of Torah/commandments
Ashkenazi Jew = East European Jew descended from the Turkic-Japhethite Khazars
Assembly = church, congregation, ekklesia, community, fellowship, koinonia, gathering
Azazel = the Yom Kippur scapegoat
Baal, Ba'al = any other master than Yahweh, usually demonic in MLT terminology
Bachor(im) = firstborn son(s)
Bar/Bat Mitzvah = Son/Daughter of Commandment, covenant to obey Torah at age 12
being = soul, the whole person (spirit and body), e.g. "my whole being"
Beit, bet, beth = house, e.g. Beit Yisrael (House of Israel), Beth Lechem (House of Bread)
Beit haMikdash = Yahweh's Temple in Yerushalayim
B'rit Chadashah = the New Covenant; B'rit Chadashah Scriptures = New Testament
B'rit Milah = circumcision - abolished in the B'rit Chadashah, replaced by Mikvah
canon = authoritative Scripture (Heb. qaneh, Gk. kanŰn = measuring instrument)
Catechumen = a serious, covenanted investigator seeking Mikvah or Baptism in MLT
Chag haMatzah = Feast of Unleavened Bread, second of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Chavurat Bekorot = MLT's Priesthood Order, Holy Order and Assembly of the Firstborn
Cohen = priest; Cohen Gadol = High Priest (also spelled Kohen)
Council of Yah's elohim = the heavenly Assembly of the Firstborn or Chavurat Bekorot
demon = fallen malek or angel in rebellion against Yahweh (Heb. shad; see l-Shaddai)
derech = the Way, Path or Road - Yah'shua and the Gospel are the Way
Drash = moral or homiletic interpretation of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Echad = One, Union of two or more in one (as opposed to Yachid) - see Elohim
Echad Godhead Doctrine = Father Yahweh, Son Yah'shua and Sevenfold Ruach (Mother)
Êl, Eloah, Elah = God the Father, Yahweh
Êl-Elyon = Most High God, Yahweh
Êl-Shaddai = Master/Lord over all shads or demons
Elohim = God, the Godhead (Father, Son & Holy Spirit), lit. 'Mighty One(s)', 'Ruler(s)'
elohim = Israelite judges, rulers, angels or gods (false deities, idols, demons)
emunah = faith, actively trusting, clinging or adhering to (especially Yahweh or Yah'shua)
emet = truth, Yah'shua is the Emet
Ephraimite = descendant of the patriarch Ephraim and head of Messsianic Israel
Feasts of Yahweh = the 7 annual Moedim (Pesach, Chag haMatzah, Yom haBikkurim, Shavu'ot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot)
Gan-Eden = Garden of Eden, Paradise and state of the purified heart in Messiah
goy(im) = nation(s), Israelites or gentiles not born in or converted to the Covenant
hallelu-Yah = praise Yah(weh)!
Heylel = proper name of Satan or haSatan = the Adversary, the devil
Sabbath = Yom Shabbat (Friday to Saturday sunset, add 1 day in IDL Zone)
Hochmah = Wisdom, title of the 7-fold Ruach haQodesh
IDL = International Date Line, false man-made time division in Pacific Ocean
IDL Zone = Area between the true Divine Date Line (Lake Van/Eden) and the false one
Israeli = citizen of the modern Edomite-Khazar Republic of Israel (not Biblical Israel)
Israelite = citizen of biblical state of Israel or a modern follower of the Messiah
Jew = post-biblical term describing descendants of Edomite and Khazar converts to Judaism
Johannine = pertaining to the Apostle Yochanan (e.g. Gospel of John)
Josephite = descendant of the patriarch Joseph, the head of Messianic Israel
Judahite = a person in direct descent from the patriarch Judah, forefather of the Messiah
Judaism = a Talmudic-based religion rejecting Yah'shua the Messiah
Judean = a citizen of the Kingdom or Province of Judah until the 2nd Century diaspora
Kadosh la Yahweh = set-apart or dedicated to Yahweh, 'Holiness to the Lord', MLT motto
Karaites = Jews (from 700 AD) who reject the Talmud and accept only the Tanakh
kashrut = keeping kosher, food laws of Yahweh and correspinding lifestyle
Ketuvim = Writings or Hagiographa of the Tanakh
Khazar = a Turkic convert to Judaism ~700 AD forming the Ashkenazi Jewish community
kosher = clean foods authorised by Yahweh for human consumption
Lashon Hara = evil-speaking, gossip or slander
legalism = false route to salvation through works (self-salvation)
le-olam-va-ed = dispensation- or age-long, aeonian, not eternal, forever or for eternity
Lev = heart, as in Lev-Tsiyon = heart of Zion
Lev-Tsiyon = Heart of the Fortress [of Yahweh], Hebrew name of MLT's founder
Master = Lord, Sir, Adon(ai) - (one in authority, a ruler - a king, husband, prophet, judge)
Malak(im) = Angel(s), heavenly supernatural messenger(s)
manna = wafers of honey, bread from heaven (lit. 'what is this?')
matzah = unleavened bread, see Chag haMatzah
Menorah = 7-armed candlearbra = the 7 annual Moedim and 7-fold Ruach haQodesh
Messiah = Christ; Anti-Messiah = Antichrist
Messianic Community = Body of Christ, sum total of all true believers; all true fellowships
Messianic Israel = all who worship Yahweh, trust in Yah'shua, obey Torah and overcome
Messianic Jew = Messianic convert from Judaism still clinging to Talmudic traditions
Midrash = aggadic interpretation of scripture vi‚ Drash, a scriptural discussion
Mikvah = baptism by immersion of convert into Yah'shua or of wife into husband
Mishpachah = family: nuclear, congregational, tribal or the whole of Messianic Israel
MLT = Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon = family of the heart of the fortress [of Yahweh]
Mishpat = right-ruling or judgement
mitzvah/mitzvot = commandment(s)
moed(im) = appointment(s) of Yahweh, 7 Annual Feasts, Sabbath and Rosh Chodesh
Nefilim, Nephilim = giant offspring of materialised demons and human women
Nevi'im = prophetic writings of the Old Testament or Tanakh
New Birth = spiritual conversion in the Ruach haRishon, being 'born again' with new heart
Nidah = a woman's menstruation period during which no intercourse is permitted
Olive Branch = collection of revelations, prophecies and visions published by MLT
Paraclete = Comforter, Advocate (NEB), Counsellor, Ruach haQodesh (Gk. paraklÍtos)
PaRDeS = method of textual interpretation (homiletics) - see P'shat, Remez, Drash, Sod
Patriarch = a father who is head of his family, clan or tribe (lit. 'father-ruler')
Pentateuch = first five books of the Tanakh (Genesis-Deuteronomy), also called Torah
peribolaion = headcovering worn by daughters/wives in submission to fathers/husbands
Pesach = Passover, first of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Peshitta = an Aramaic version of the Bible
Prototrinitarianism = early, simplified MLT formulation of the Echad Godhead Doctrine
Prush(im) = Pharisee(s)
Pseudepigrapha = Non-canonical Hebrew writings additional to the Apocrypha
P'shat = literal, contextual, philological, exoteric, outer meaning of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Qadosh Qadoshim = Holy of Holies, most sacred set-apart room of the Beit haMikdash
Qodesh, Kodesh = set-apart, holy (see Ruach haQodesh)
Rabbi = Teacher, term used by Messianic Jews and some Messianic Israelites = Pastor
Refuge, the 12 Cities of = divinely protected MLT fortresses during the 7-year Tribulation
Remez = hint or allegorical level of Hebraic understanding of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Rosh Chodesh = monthly New Moon appointment of Yahweh
ruach = spirit of a person (lit.'breath')
Ruach Elohim = Spirit of God (the Spirit of the collective Godhead or Elohim)
Ruach haChamashee = 5th Ruach presides over Yom Teruah and Yom Chamashee
Ruach haQodesh = the Sevenfold Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost (lit. 'Set-Apart Breath')
Ruach haRevee = 4th Ruach presides over Shavu'ot, Yom Revee and Bar Mitzvah
Ruach haRishon = 1st Ruach presides over Pesach, Yom Rishon and the New Birth
Ruach haShanee = 2nd Ruach presides over Chag haMatzah and Yom Shanee
Ruach haSheshi = 6th Ruach presides over Yom Kippur and Yom Sheshi
Ruach haShleshi = 3rd Ruach presides over Yom haBikkurim, Yom Shleshi and Mikvah
Sabbath = Yom Shabbat (Friday to Saturday sunset, add 1 day in IDL Zone)
Satan = rebel archangel Heylel, father of lies, devil, chief demon (lit.'Adversary')
Sephardic Jew = West European Jew of mixed blood containing many Judahites
Septuagint = Greek translation of the Tanakh, LXX
Shegal haShabbat = 7th Ruach (Sabbath Queen) presides over Sukkot and Yom Shabbat
Shekinah = Divine Presence and Glory of Yahweh-Elohim
Set-apart = holy, sanctified, consecrated, dedicated, separated (to and by Yahweh)
Shabbat-Shabbaton = High Sabbath (e.g. Yom Kippur)
Shalom = heavenly peace, standard Hebraic greeting invoking Yahweh's peace
Shamash(im) = servant(s), deacon(s), attendant(s)
Shavu'ot = Pentecost or Weeks, fourth of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Sheol = grave or pit, euphamism for Hades or hell - also see Tartarus
shofar = ram's horn, blown during Yahweh's Moedim
simcha = joy, keynote of Sukkot
Sod = mystical, anagogic, inner or esoteric understanding of Scripture - see PaRDeS
Sukkot = Tabernacles or Booths, seventh of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Synagogue = Greek word used by Jews and Messianics (but not MLT) for a meeting house
talmid(a) = male/female disciple or student
Talmud = scriptures, teachings and commentaries belonging to non-Messianic Judaism
Tanakh = acronym for Old Testament Scriptures - Torah, Nevi'im & Ketuvim
Tartarus = place of imprisonment under the earth for rebellious angels and Nephilim
teshuvah = repentance, remorse and contrition leading back to Torah obedience
Torah = Yahweh's teachings or Law; New Covenant Torah includes Yah'shua's teachings
Tribulation, the Great = the final 7 years of the present aeon when Anti-Messiah rules
Trinity = Catholic Godhead formula - see Echad Godhead Doctrine and Prototrinitarianism
Tsiyon = Zion, a fortress, a name of Jerusalem and a prominent hill
Tzitzit/Tizitziyot = tassel(s) worn by men in remembrance of Torah
Universalism = salvation of all at the cosmic Yovel, with different rewards and punishments
Yachid = one, single person or item, as opposed to Echad (many in one, unity)
Yah'shua the Messiah = Jesus Christ (the Son)
Yahudah = Judah - see Judahite
Yahweh, Yah, YHWH = the true Name of our Heavenly Father, also carried by Yah'shua
Yahweh-Elohim = LORD God (the Father, Yahweh as Head of the Godhead or Elohim)
Yahweh haQatan = the sent Yahweh = Yah(weh)'shua, Malak of Yahweh's Presence
Yam Suf = Sea of Reeds, the true Israelite Exodus water crossing, not the Red Sea
Yarden = Jordan River (lit. 'meanderer')
Yerushalayim = Jerusalem
Yisrael = Israel (lit. 'ruling with l') = true believers under the New Covenant
Yom Chamashee = 5th day of the week (Thursday, Friday in IDL Zone)
Yom Din, Yom haDin = (the) Day of Judgement
Yom haBikkurim = Feast of Firstfruits, third of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Yom Revee = 4th day of the week (Wednesday, Thursday in IDL Zone)
Yom Rishon = 1st day of the week (Sunday, Monday in IDL Zone)
Yom Kippur = Day of Atonement, sixth of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Yom Shabbat = 7th day of the week and Sabbath Rest (Saturday, Sunday in IDL Zone)
Yom Shanee = 2nd day of the week (Monday, Tuesday in IDL Zone)
Yom Sheshi = 6th day of the week (Friday, Saturday in IDL Zone)
Yom Shleshi = 3rd day of the week (Tuesday, Wednesday in IDL Zone)
Yom Teruah = Day of Trumpets, fifth of the annual feasts of Yahweh
Yosef = Joseph - see Josephite
Yovel = Jubilee or Year of Jubilee
Zaqen(im) = elder(s) of an assembly or congregation, or senior members of a community
ZoŽ Life = Greek term for spiritual life in the Messiah
Commonly Used MLT Abbreviations
For additional abbreviations and explanations,
please see the Micropedia
Amp.V(er). = Amplified Version of the Bible
Aram. = Aramaic
AV = Authorised Version of the Bible - see KJV
BCAY = B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh - see NCCG
BoA = Books of Abraham (e.g. 1Abr., 2Abr., etc.)
cp, cf = compare with
CB(Q) = Chavurat Bekorot
CEV = Contemporary English Version of the Bible
ch. = chapter
CJB = Complete Jewish Bible
CLNT = Concordant Literal New Testament
CYe = Council of Yah's elohim
Eng. = English
ff. = and onwards/forwards
fn = footnote
Gk. = Greek
GNB = Good News Bible - see TEV
Heb. = Hebrew, Hebraic
HEM = Holy Echad Marriage, eternal marriage
HO = Holy Order - see Chavurat Bekorot
HOC = Holy Order Collection of revelations - see OB
HRV = Hebraic-Roots Version of the Bible
ibid. = ibidem (lit. 'in the same place'), referring to a book previously cited
ICJC = Independent Church of Jesus Christ, earlier name of NCCF
ISRV = Institute for Scripture Research Version of the Bible
JB = Jerusalem Bible
JBP/Phillips = J.B.Phillips translation of the New Testament
JNT = Jewish New Testament
KJV = King James Version of the Bible - see AV
LB = Living Bible
lit. = literally or literature
LXX = Septuagint, Greek translation of the OT
MLT = Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon
Moff. = Moffatt translation of the Bible
MRC = Messianic Renewed Covenant Version of the NT
MS(S) = Manuscript(s)
NASB, NASV = New American Standard Bible/Version
NC&C = New Covenants & Commandments - see OB
NCCF = New Covenant Christian Fellowship, earlier name of NCCG
NCCG = New Covenant Church of God, earlier name of MLT - see BCAY
NCP = New Covenant Press, publishing arm of MLT
NCW = New Covenant Witness, MLT magazine
NEB = New English Bible
NIV = New International Version of the Bible
NKJV = New King James Version of the Bible
Nor. = Norwegian
NT = New Testament, B'rit Chadashah
NWT = New World Translation of the Bible, unreliable Jehovah's Witness version
OB = Olive Branch - see NC&C
op.cit. = opere citato (lit. in the work cited)
OT = Old Testament, Tanakh
p(p). = page(s)
pl. = plural - see s.
PWNC = Prophetic Words of the New Covenant, revelation cataloging system - see OB
QED = quod erat demonstrandum (lit. which was shown to be proved)
RCF = Restoration Christian Fellowship, earlier name of ICJC
RhQ = Ruach haQodesh, Holy Spirit
RSTNE = Restoration Scriptures True Name Edition of the Bible
RSV = Revised Standard Version of the Bible
RV = Revised Version of the Bible
s. = singular - see pl.
S&G = Smith & Goodspeed Version of the Bible
TEV = Today's English Version of the Bible - see GNB
Vulg. = Biblia Vulgata, Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible
WEB = World English Bible
This page was first created on 19 March 2007
Last updated on 19 March 2007
Copyright ©2006 Mishpachah Lev-Tsiyon (MLT) - All Rights Reserved