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What Is ‘The Word’ ?

‘Scripture’ is a word spoken and heard time and time again in our churches, synagogues and meeting places. According to dictionaries, it is ‘any sacred book or writing, a passage from any sacred book or writing; The Bible;’ We also refer to The Bible – Scripture – as ‘The Word’.
Where does the term ‘The Word’ come from ? The phrase “the Word of the Lord came’ appears almost one hundred times in the The Old Testament, and most of those appearances are followed by this phrase, ‘and said’. So ‘The Word of the Lord came and said . . .’ John tells us this ‘Word’ was in the beginning and took on flesh and walked among them . . .’ It tells us Yeshua is the Word made flesh. He is the living, breathing version of the written Word. Yeshua is not only He that spoke from Mt. Sinai but also that which was spoken.
The title, ‘The Bible’ comes from first century common greek (ta biblia) and literally means ‘The Books’, which is an apt title, understanding the Bible to be not just a book but a collection of books written by numerous authors from different backgrounds and educational levels over a period of more than four millennia. And in all this it is not only a collection of books in which there is no contradiction but that all carry the same theme and thread and point to the same culmination – the last days and the Salvation of Israel.
One thing we seem to lose sight of is the fact that the Bible as we know it today and the ‘Bible’ in Yeshua’s day is not the same collection of books. Don’t hang up yet. What we mean by that is in Yeshua’s day the only Scripture that existed is that which we refer to as the Old Testament. The New Testament ( also called ‘Apostolic Writings’) did not exist in His day. Yeshua, the Apostles, and the others were ‘living’ the NT but it was not compiled as a ‘collection of letters’ and added to the canon of The Bible for another 200 years or more.
“Yes”, you say, “we know all that”. Well, with that understanding, ponder this concept. Paul spoke this admonition in 2 Timothy 3:15 “ . . . from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” “. . . in the volume of the book it is written of me.” (Hebrews 10, Psalm 40)
So the question ? What ‘Scripture’ and ‘Word’ was Paul referring to in his letter to Timothy if the NT did not exist at that time ? Well, the only Scripture that existed was that which we call the Old Testament. Paul is telling Timothy not only are the Law and the Prophets not done away with but they are the ‘Word’ we are to be ready to preach in and out of season. How can we be sure this is what Paul means ? Because it lines up with what Yeshua says in Matthew 5 . . . 16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. 17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill . 18 “For truly I say to you, heaven and earth shall pass away, but not the slightest stroke of the pen shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished (and when will all be accomplished?…at the end of the millineum). 19 “Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” The keeping of His ways is not a matter of salvation but of obedience.
So are we saying ‘the Old does away the New’ ? Not at all. We are saying ‘the Old is the foundation for the New’.
“This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths where the good way is, and when you find it walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But the people said, We will not . . .”” Jeremiah 6:16
May that not be said of us in these days . . . Shalom –

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Political or Religous ?

Ooops . . . this article should have preceded the article entitled ‘Either/Or’ . . .
Sorry, somehow it did not get posted.

This is one of those articles that is more about asking questions than providing answers. So, let’s jump right in.

It’s amazing how we as people in general will make a statement and then turn right around and contradict ourselves. For example, as good Christians we will fight to post the Ten Commandments from the courthouse to the outhouse and then turn right around and conclude that at least one of them no longer applies. “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy …” Oh yeah, God changed that one. But I didn’t think God changed?

Malachi 3:6: “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” So, if God doesn’t change, and He has established certain guidelines and expectations, how does that fact apply to the issues of today, how those issues are defined and how they should be resolved?

There is much debate in many circles concerning the important issues of our day and one question that always arises is whether these issues are political or religious. It’s ironic and many times confusing how a particular issue can be spun by one pundit as political and another “spinner” concludes the exact same issue is purely religious. Which one is correct? Can they both be accurate?

In last week’s edition Howard Coop spoke of a national heritage and he quoted, among others, Benjamin Franklin’s statement and we quote — “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proof I see of this truth — God governs in the affairs of men.” We have read this quote many times in the past, but this time it caught our attention. “God governs in the affairs of men.” We read that as if it means God is somehow involved or God has some input or God has a vote when the issue comes up.

Now, Mr. Franklin was a pretty sharp fella and he used the word “govern.”

By definition, to govern is “to rule over by right of authority; to exercise sovereign authority over.” This implies God not is only involved or has input in the affairs of men but actually has sovereign authority and the right to rule over those affairs. So, can an issue that we deem as political also be religious by the very nature of the fact God has ultimate rule over those issues? The title of this column is Mining the Truth, so what does the Bible have to to say about this question?

Here are some nuggets to ponder . . .

Proverbs 14:34: Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.

Proverbs 16:20: He that handleth a matter wisely shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.

Proverbs 16:33: The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

Jeremiah 18:9: And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; 10: If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them.

Psalm 33:12: Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

Isaiah 26:2: Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.

If we understand this Book correctly, in God’s eyes important issues should be weighed according to the Word of God. Based on His Word, is it actually possible to separate politcal’ from religious? Next week, we hope to compare these two terms and observe how they should interact with one another, much like “law” and “grace.” Shalom.

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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“Either / Or ” . . . Mining the Truth

Either / Or . . .

Last time we discussed the concept of ‘political versus religious’ and whether is it really an ‘either/or’ situation. We compared this to the polarized relationship between ‘Law’ and ‘Grace’ that most of us have been taught in our church upbringing. It’s either one or the other, ‘L’ versus ‘G’. But is that what the Bible actually says ? Let’s do some digging.
But first, let’s back up for just a moment and define those two terms – political and religious. ‘Political’, by definition, is that which is ‘of, relating to, or dealing with the structure or affairs of government’. ‘Religious’, on the other hand (or perhaps the same hand) is ‘belief in, reverence to and obedience to a supernatural power seen as creator and governor of the universe and having to do with a system grounded in that belief ‘. Gee, sounds as if Mr. Franklin might have been onto something here. Could these two seemingly opposites be just the opposite of what they seem? . . . or something like that . . .
So what about ‘Law’ and ‘Grace’ ? Well, here again, let’s define some terms. If we were to ask you to define ‘Law’ in a general sense, what would be your answer ? Most folks we have asked this question of answered in these ways – order, structure, recognized standard of behavior. And the opposite of ‘law’ ? Disorder, lack of structure, violation of the standard, chaos, lawlessness. So what about ‘grace’ ? Most in the church understand ‘grace’ to be ‘unmerited favor’. It is the concept of having something really bad coming due to my behavior and instead receiving something really good without being able to do anything to earn it. That’s grace. And the opposite of ‘grace’ ? I deserve judgment and punishment without mercy and I get exactly what I deserve.
So if the opposite of ‘Law’ is ‘lawlessness’ and the opposite of ‘Grace’ is blind judgment and punishment, then how did we come to the conclusion that ‘Grace’ is the opposite of ‘Law’, that they are an ‘either/or’ ? Could it actually be that Law and Grace are ‘hand in glove’ and work in tandem, that they actually complete one another?
When we read the verses of Paul and the other Biblical writers, both Old and New, we need to remember they all answer to a Higher Authority. It’s kinda like in a secular work setting. There’s the Boss, the Boss’s Son, and those that work for the Boss and His Son. It’s really difficult to keep your job if you contradict the Boss or His Son. And the Son has no credibility if He says one thing and the Boss says another. They all have to be singing from the same page. So what does Yeshua, the Boss’s Son if you will, have to say on this matter ?
Then Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. John 8:28

For I have not spoken of my own accord; but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and what to speak, 50 and I know that his commands mean eternal life. And therefore what the Father has told me is what I speak. John 12:49-50

“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” John 14:10

“For truly I (Yeshua) say to you, heaven and earth will pass away, but not the smallest letter or stroke of the pen shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” Matthew 5:18

Has all been accomplished as of yet ? . . . don’t think so . . . Shalom – J & R

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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The Cup

THE CUP

Following in line with the teaching concerning the Crown of Thorns, another element deserving of our attention at this season is ‘The Cup’. For the purposes and point of this teaching, our focus will be on the ‘cup’ referred to by Yeshua during His prayer in the garden. ( Matthew 26:36-42) For many this will be ‘old news’ but, hopefully, for some this will be new understanding. Also here, allow us to briefly explain the name ‘Yeshua’ and our use of it. The English translations of the first chapters of Matthew and Luke basically make the same statement – “ . . . you shall call His Name Jesus . . .”
That Name evokes so much for so many. Let’s look just a little deeper. Mary was of Hebrew descent and Hebrew would have been her mother tongue. More than likely, the Angel would have spoken audibly to her in her native tongue. It is NO coincidence that the Hebrew word the Angel would have spoken to her, the word from which the English word ‘Jesus’ is derived, is the word Yeshua – a Hebrew noun which translates as ‘Salvation’. Could it be anymore fitting to what the Angel declared ? “ . . . and He shall save His people . . .” Salvation – Yeshua . . . Now, back to ‘The Cup’. In His prayer in the gospel accounts Yeshua is not speaking metaphorically or poetically in these passages, although true, there was no actual physical cup in His hand. Yet the cup referred to was very much physical and real. Let’s dig a little deeper and find that cup. To do that we must return to the foundational teachings of the Old Testament in general and the Torah in specific. Let’s take a look in the book of Numbers beginning with chapter 5 and verse 12 and following.
Here we have instructions on dealing with an ‘unfaithful wife’ by her ‘jealous husband’. In these passages we see the use of an actual cup in the determination of guilt or innocence, judgment or pardon. As you read these verses you will see the use of a cup, water( The Word) , dust ( element of creation) and the presence of the Priest. All this to determine if the husband is justly jealous and the wife justly due punishment. If the wife drinks the contents of the cup and there is no effect, then she is innocent. If guilty, there will be obvious and grave consequences and she will ultimately die. So what does this have to do with Jesus and ‘the cup’ and the prayer in the garden ?
The Apostolic Writings ( New Testament) make multiple references to the ‘congregation of believers’ both past, present and future as ‘the bride’. Isaiah 54:5 declares ‘God is the Husband . . .’ Deuteronomy 4:24 tells us ‘God is a consuming fire and a Jealous God . . .’, a jealous husband if you will. In Ephesians 5:25 the Apostle Paul admonishes husbands to ‘love your wives’ (bride) as Messiah loved the congregation of believers and willingly gave himself in her place’. Is the picture starting to come together ?
The unfaithful bride is us, this body we call the ‘church’ and God calls Israel ( Eph. 2:11-14). The Godhead is the husband. Yeshua is also the priest. (Heb. 4:14) And He keeps and observes His Father’s principles and rules without exception.
So when Yeshua kneels to pray before His Father in the garden, ‘The Cup’ is all too real. It is the cup of judgment that, if drunk by His bride, she will die, for she is guilty. Therefore the eternal loving Husband takes from her hand the cup of judgment she is justly due and drinks her judgment unto Himself, saving her from the curse of the law which is death (Gal. 3:13).
So as we celebrate this season of Passover, let us ‘remember His death until He comes again’, for His death should have been mine.
May this be a blessing to you and yours, especially during this Season.
Shalom – J & R

 

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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