Archives July 2015

Can We Shave and Keep Torah?

A common objection people raise to following the Torah centers on the commandment to not shave your beard. I don’t have a beard and I believe that God’s good instructions (Torah) is still good for us today – so am I a being a hypocrite?

 

The first part of the problem is simply one of ignorance. Most of us Christians were taught that the Law/Torah was done away with so we don’t really take a close look at it. The commandment actually says to not cut your hair or beard FOR the DEAD. It is not a general prohibition against shaving but shaving on behalf of a dead person.

 

Let’s look at the commandment in its context because, just like modern sound bites which rarely give the full scope, neither do isolated verses: context and cross references are paramount. When looking at a doctrine, try to make a verse sandwich – that is have a verse or two on top and a few on the bottom. In our sandwich below, we see that first off, the commandment is to not eat things with blood and that is connected with divination:  “You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice divination or soothsaying. (Lev 19:26)

 

Then comes the verse about not shaving: “You shall not shave around the sides of your head, nor shall you disfigure the edges of your beard.” (Lev 19:27) In the Hebrew text the word “and” precedes “you shall not” and is significant because it connects verse 27 with the previous verse about not eating blood or practicing divination. This verse is followed by another “and you shall not” (the “and” is left out of many translations):  “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor tattoo any marks on you: I am the LORD.” (Lev 19:28) Thus, we see that one is not to eat blood, practice divination, AND not to shave around the sides of the head or disfigure the beard, AND not to make any cuttings FOR the DEAD.

 

This is not just a prohibition of shaving but it is against shaving (beard and head) with a specific purpose – that is for the dead because that is what the pagans did. They would shave their hair and cut themselves for the dead according to the renown medieval Jewish commentator Rashi, (c.f. John Gill Lev 19:28):

 

It was the custom of the Amorites, when anyone died, to cut their flesh, as it was of the Scythians, as Herodotus (d) relates, even those of the royal family; for a king they cut off a part of the ear, shaved the hair round about, cut the arms about, wounded the forehead and nose, and transfixed the left hand with arrows; and so the Carthaginians, who might receive it from the Phoenicians, being a colony of theirs, used to tear their hair and mouths in mourning, and beat their breasts (e); and with the Romans the women used to tear their cheeks in such a manner that it was forbid by the law of the twelve tables, which some have thought was taken from hence: and all this was done to appease the infernal deities, and to give them satisfaction for the deceased, and to make them propitious to them, as Varro (f) affirms; and here it is said to be made “for the soul”, for the soul of the departed, to the honour of it, and for its good, though the word is often used for a dead body.

 

Cutting and disfiguring oneself is precisely what the four hundred priests of Baal did when they were trying to summon their reclusive god to make his appearance on Mount Carmel in their duel with Elijah. “So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them.” (1Kgs 18:28) This is the kind of activity that God does not want his people doing.

 

When we look at the parallel verses about not shaving we find the instruction to not shave on behalf of the dead:

 

“And the LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: “None shall defile himself for the DEAD among his people… They shall not make any bald place on their heads, nor shall they shave the edges of their beards nor make any cuttings in their flesh. (Lev 21:1, 5)

 

“You are the children of the LORD your God; you shall not cut yourselves nor shave the front of your head for the DEAD. (Deut 14:1)

 

Once we have looked at the full context and the parallel verses plus a little bit of digging into history the conclusion is simple – no shaving your beard or head on behalf of the dead. So, if you prefer a clean shave to a beard – go for it – either way you are keeping Torah!

 

 

Broken Hearted God

The Broken Hearted God? How Our Lawless Behaviour Breaks Our Father’s Heart

Many portray God as watching from heaven and is just waiting for the moment that he can rain down his wrath on this ungrateful and lawless world.

What we actually see in the Bible more than anything is a Creator who is brokenhearted and saddened by what his creation is doing. He is saddened just like I, as a father, am sad when my kids are mean to each other. God is grieved just like I am when my kids fight and hit each other. Unfortunately, by speaking of the righteousness and splendor of God, we have also painted him as a wooden, austere, and emotionless judge who is only concerned with meting out justice. We have this notion that He is impervious to sadness or feeling pain. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

God made us in His image and in His likeness and therefore the emotions that we have (with the exception of fear) are the same that God feels.  Before the flood, God felt intense sadness and grief at having made mankind – He was heartbroken because of their wicked and cruel actions. He agonized and was deeply distressed at what the beings that he created were doing.

Imagine if you were a brilliant scientist who could create intelligent, self-determining robots that had feelings. Would you not be sick to your stomach if they started abusing and murdering each other? Would you not be grieved in your soul and greatly burdened that the things you created to bring joy to you and to each other, had instead chosen to cheat, slander, maim, torture, and kill each other? Would you also not be racked with sorrow when you concluded that their choices had also polluted their very essence, their actual DNA and basically there was no undoing what they had done? That is the pain that God felt.

To understand God’s relationship with Israel and the pain that He felt, imagine that you fall in love with a young woman who later gets sold into slavery. You rescue her against all odds. You scale mighty mountains; you pass through dangerous dales, and even defeat dreadful dragons. You have rescued your love at great cost to yourself but it was all worth it to save your true love. You sweep her away from her chains and prison and you two wed.

At your wedding, you exchange vows covenanting to be faithful and to love only each other. You proudly declare that she is your chosen, your special treasure in all the earth and that there is none as precious as her. You also promise her riches, children, peace, and joy, all that she could ever want. As part of your vows, she promises not to have any other men in her life, but to be wholly set apart for you! She promises to not to have any pictures, videos, or keepsakes of any other guys in her possession, via email or on Facebook; she is going to think about you and you alone. As husband and wife, your names and reputations are now mingled as one: your name and reputation becomes hers and hers becomes yours. Whatever either of you do from now one, whether good or evil, will directly reflect on the other. Hence, you promise to honor and exalt her name and she promises to honor and exalt your name.

Then you promise to set aside one day in seven that will be a special day for the two of you. You promise that you will make it special for her in that she won’t have to work…she can just relax, sleep in, lounge around, kick back without a care in the world because you have taken care of everything. It is to be a day where you can grow in your relation to one another. You can talk to each other and share your hearts in a way that is distinct from the rest of the week.

In addition to these vows, you share with her your recipe for how to treat others which will lead to a successful and abundant life. Your formula is revolutionary because it is outwardly focused and not inwardly focused. It is concerned with how to treat others in a way that you would want to be treated. It always seeks the other’s good and their highest. You tell her that if you follow this formula it will lead to life and blessings but if she doesn’t that it will lead to pain, sorrow, curses, and ultimately death. She eagerly agrees to follow your formula knowing that you have her highest in mind as well. You then kiss your bride.

A great feast is held to celebrate the momentous occasion. After some time, she disappears and you can’t find her. After searching with an anxious heart, you sadly discover that she was in the room of an old lover. You are crushed, brokenhearted, and distraught. How could you true love do this? You promised. She promised. In fact, her unfaithfulness was on your very wedding day! How could she? Your sadness turns to anger at her unfaithfulness. You consider leaving her that very moment…but then you have pity on her. It was her upbringing after all; her parents were very poor role models and they cheated on each other from day one. She literally has never seen a good relationship. So, you decide to forgive and forget. However, already your enemies have heard what happened. You know that they will use it someday to slander you.

You then move into your new house and begin making it your home. You have children, you share wonderful moments. You are providing abundantly as promised. She on the other hand, has never quite overcome the tendency to see other guys. There have been many times during your marriage that you have had to simply look away and pretend not to notice. Of course, each time, it breaks your heart. But you are kind and patient. You really want it to work out between you so you just put up with it. However, a day comes when you notice that money begins disappearing from the bank account. You ask her about it but she denies any knowledge. Eventually, you discover that not only is she seeing other men but she is actually paying her lovers to be with her! At this point you are beside yourself. How in the world did this happen? Adultery is bad enough. Her receiving money from others as a prostitute would be worse. But no! Your wife is actually paying others to sleep with her! You confront her about it and tell her that this activity has to stop. You have become the laughing stock of the town. Everyone knows what your wife is up to. When you walk by you can hear their snickering. “Nice wife you got there!” One person shouts. “Thanks for the money,” another shouts. You look at another of the jesters and you are dumbfounded when you see the one of a kind necklace that you bought your wife on your anniversary on the neck of another man’s wife; your wife has paid her lovers with the precious keepsakes that you bought her. It isn’t just the money, but that it was something that you gave especially to her. Not only that, but she has actually murdered many of the children that she had from these illicit relationships. Finally, you can take no more. You have been married for decades and she has not changed one bit but has actually grown more destitute. With great sorrow you decide that it is over though in your heart, you vow to find a way to restore the woman you once knew and loved.

So you file the divorce papers and excise her from your will. Neither she, nor the children that she birthed from her many lovers will have any part of you or your estate. They are cut off completely. Oh how your heart aches! The wife of your youth is gone. Your home is not the same.

After some time, you find a way to bring her back to you if she is willing to turn away from all of the evil that she committed. You find a way to annul the wickedness if she will just admit her fault and promise not to do it again. When you exchanged vows there were some stipulations that you both agreed to. In your covenant, you both agreed that if she were found guilty of adultery, then you had the right to divorce her. If she became another man’s wife and the same thing happened that he found her guilty of adultery and sent her away, then she could not remarry you because it would pollute the land and bring a curse. You grin because you have thought up an amazing plan that will allow her to remarry you and will cancel the blood oath you both made in your marriage covenant. You pause for a moment, because, while your plan will resolve everything, it will come at tremendous cost to you.

Your plan is to die and then come back to life. By dying, you will cancel all consequences and curses that she incurred by having committed adultery when you were married under your marriage covenant. If you die, you reason, she will no longer be considered an adulterer because the law of the marriage is until “death do us part.” Hence if you die, then she is free to remarry! The trouble is, you want her to be your wife again and not another’s. So, the second part of your plan is to actually come back to life. The cool thing is that you found a way to do that. So, you then prepare for the big day. You die as planned and the curses that she was under, because she violated your marriage covenant, are cancelled! She is no longer legally an adulterer. All the penalties and curses of the law of marriage are cancelled through your death. Part one is finished. When you come back to life, you and she can now remarry! All that is required on her part is to acknowledge her former adultery and promise not to do it again. If she will do those two things, then you promise to take her back and return her to her former position as your bride. The handwriting that was against her is literally destroyed through your death.

So, rather than picture God as angry and wrathful; picture him in your mind as brokenhearted and disappointed because of the choices that we as a country are making. Homosexuality, adultery, murder, stealing, slander, lust, and so many other behaviours are the same behaviours that Judah was committing when God said, “I was crushed by their unfaithful heart which turned from me and by their eyes which lusted after their idols… [and] of all their abominable practices.” (Ezek 6:9) You see, God was brokenhearted by Judah because she (and her northern sister Israel) were committing adultery through the harmful, destructive, and yes, offensive things they were doing. Just like back then, He isn’t looking to throw down the hammer because He has anger management issues; rather He is genuinely hurt and sad over what we are doing. He wants us to turn from our destructive path. So rather than focus on having to change to avoid judgment, let’s do those things pleasing to God because we don’t want to break the heart of our Father any longer.

 

Did Yeshua Nullify or Uphold the Law with the Woman Caught in Adultery in John 8? (By Guest Blogger Sarah Rush)

I hear people continually saying that Yeshua gave us a higher standard than that what is already in the Torah. They say Yeshua gave us love and grace whereas the Torah was all about dos and don’ts. The story of the woman caught in adultery, in John 8, is one of the common proof texts that people to use to show that Yeshua didn’t demand woman’s execution and hence he exercised grace rather than law. When I heard the following explanation of that account from a Torah perspective, by Sarah Rush, I felt it worthy of sharing with you. Enjoy. – Douglas Hamp

Commentary by Sarah Rush

The number of biblical commandments being broken in the story of the adulteress is actually quite astounding. First, any woman caught in adultery would have been taken WITH THE GUILTY MAN with whom she was caught, and brought to the established judges, who generally were found at the city gates. These judges were set in place to hear and try cases such as these. If the accused woman was only *suspected* of being unfaithful, it was the HUSBAND who had to bring her for judgment, and he actually had to bring her before the temple priests in this case. But in this John chapter 8 situation, it is alleged that the woman was caught in the act by witnesses, so the judges at the gates would have been the proper authorities to hear the allegations. However, as mentioned, both the man and the woman would have been required for the accusation.

Next, the actual witness had to make the accusation, and at least two witnesses were required in order for the matter to be established. In the John 8 account, not only did they bypass the proper authorities for hearing such accusations, but no witnesses came forth to go on record as having actually observed the event.

The scribes and pharisees were correct in one thing – that the Mosaic law would have demanded that the woman be stoned to death – but that death sentence required that the accusation be submitted before the proper authorities, in the correct legal fashion, and that all legal criteria be met (both the man and the woman presented, witnesses established, that both be found guilty in such a court).

Because they opted instead to skip all of these steps and go directly to Yeshua, they have already nullified their attempted allegations. Aware of their intent, Yeshua answered them in the proper LEGAL fashion. He responds by requesting that the guiltless party be the first to cast the stone. He does this because in Deuteronomy 13, the Mosaic law tells us clearly that in cases where a guilty verdict would require the death penalty, it was the responsibility of the ACCUSING WITNESS to be the first person to cast the stone. Why would God enact such a bizarre decree? It is actually quite a genius maneuver. Because it was up to that witness to initiate the stoning process, thus making him or her responsible for taking the life of this person who has been found guilty, it puts the burden on the witness to ensure absolutely that their testimony has been truthful. If they have misrepresented the facts and corrupted the judgment in any way, they have made themselves guilty of bearing false witness and murdering, which are two of the ten commandments. This person would then bear blood guilt which the temple sacrifices would not cover.

So, when Yeshua offered the honors of casting the first stone, he was challenging these men to put their life on the line with their testimony against the woman. Being scribes and pharisees, they would have known the law well enough to realize that they could not cast a stone at her without being guilty of intentional / high-handed transgression. Yeshua said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” He was CLEARLY referring to guilt in this accusation against this woman, not *in general*. How do I know this? It was the oldest men who dropped their rocks and retreated first – the men who knew the law BEST. They knew they’d been HAD.

Further, he asks the woman a bizarre question – he inquires about her accusers, and her condemnation. He is being 100% Torah-compliant here, asking who stands as an accuser against her, and whether she had been found guilty by the judges. She responds that no such person remains, to which Yeshua replies that he also does not condemn her. He says himself in several different places and ways (mostly in John) that he himself did not come to judge – and he proves that in this case of the alleged adulteress – and in a very specifically legal way!

Finally, it is curious to note that we never learn whether this woman was in fact guilty of adultery. No one asks her. I would propose to you that she very well might not have been, and that somehow she got swept up in the authorities’ attempt to trip Yeshua up with the law. If this is the case, she might have been guilty of violating Exodus 23:1-2, which says “You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice.” This might be why Yeshua concludes with her by saying, “Go, and sin no more” – not because she was an adulteress, but because she participated in a mob whose intent was to bring harm to others.

 

 

 

Return to the Days of Noah?

Could America’s Embrace of Homosexual Marriage Be a Sign of the Days of Noah and the Return of the Nephilim?

Homosexual marriage is now the law of the land, here in the United States of America. We are seeing the “Gay Pride” flag waving everywhere and even the White, the symbol of our leader, is boasting the colors proudly. Over 26 million people on Facebook have put a filter over their profile picture of the Gay Pride Rainbow showing that they support this new law. We literally see the

rainbow everywhere.

In the Bible there is a principle called the law of first mention. Essentially, there is always something significant about the first time something appears in the Bible. Whether it is the serpent (Satan) who first tempts man, or the first murder where Cain kills his brother, or the first mention of the rainbow after the flood that destroyed the entire earth. We read in Genesis that God destroyed the world because their thoughts were only evil continually – at least that is the general reason we hear from pulpits galore. However, there is an important factor that we must not forget: “there were Nephilim on the earth in those days and also afterwards when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men. Many want to gloss over this important point but the writers of the New Testament knew it was incredibly and therefore they commented on it.

Both Peter and Jude speak specifically that the fallen angels came down and had relations with women and even men! Homosexuality is only the beginning.

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but threw them into hell [tartarosas ταρταρώσας] and locked them up in chains in utter darkness, to be kept until the judgment, and if he did not spare the ancient world, but did protect Noah, a herald of righteousness, along with seven others, when God brought a flood on an ungodly world, and if he turned to ashes the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah when he condemned them to destruction, having appointed them to serve as an example to future generations of the ungodly, and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man in anguish over the debauched lifestyle of lawless men…especially those who indulge their fleshly desires… (2 Peter 2:4-9 NET).

Peter provides evidence of just what landed them in everlasting chains so prematurely by his statement in verse ten: “especially those who indulge their fleshly desires [sarkos en epitumia σαρκος εν επιθυμια μιασμου] and who despise authority.” The Greek term employed by Peter (epithumia επιθυμια) is defined by Thayer’s Greek Lexicon as a great longing for something, often of things forbidden. This word coupled with “flesh” (sarkos σαρκος) and “defilement”[i] (miasmou μιασμου) makes a powerful statement – the unrighteous, which includes (fallen) angels acted upon a forbidden longing to defile or stain their flesh.

Jude also says the men of Sodom, Gomorrah and the surrounding cities committed an act like the angels (like these).

You also know that the angels [angelous αγγελους] who did not keep within their proper domain [arkhen αρχην] but abandoned their own place of residence [oiketerion οικητηριον], he has kept in eternal chains in utter darkness, locked up for the judgment of the great Day. So also [hos ως] Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring towns, since they indulged in sexual immorality [ekporeusasai εκπορνευσασαι] and pursued unnatural desire [sarkos heteras σαρκος ετερας] in a way similar to these [toutois τουτοις] angels… (Jude 1:6-7 NET).

 

Hence, the Sodomites desire to “know” (have sex) with Lot’s visitors is the same thing that the fallen angels did in the days of Noah which was the principle reason that God sent the flood. God established the rainbow as a symbol that he would never again destroy the world in the same manner – thought not that the world would never be destroyed again. The next time he destroys it will be by fire – principally the fire associated with Yeshua’s return.

 

Therefore, the rise and current prominence of the Gay Pride flag may in fact be a warning of what is coming – we are returning to the days of Noah when the Nephilim were in the land (See Corrupting the Image) and with it comes judgment – only this time, it will be by fire.

Even so, Maranatha Yeshua!

[i] μί-ασμα [ ῐ], ατος , τό , (μιαίνω) stain, defilement , esp. by murder or other crime, taint of guilt […] II that which defiles, pollution , of persons.