Blog Scripture Readings for 8-2 Through 8-8-20

Aside

Parashat Eikev — Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25
Haftarah — Isaiah 49:14 – 51:3
Prophets — Ezekiel 35:1 – 41:26
Writings — Nehemiah 11:1 – 13:31; 1 Chronicles 1:1 – 3:24
Testimony — Ephesians 4:1 – 6:24; Philippians 1:1 – 4:23

Our annual Scripture Reading Schedule for 2019-2020 with daily readings is available to download and print. If you are still working through 2018-2019’s Scripture Reading Schedule, the link will still be available on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links”. If you are using a mobile device or tablet, the link may be below, meaning you’ll need to scroll down instead.

Most of this week’s blog discussion points will be on these passages. If you have general comments or questions on the weekly Scripture readings not addressed in a blog post, here’s a place for you to post those. Just use the “leave a reply” link or the “share your thoughts” box below.

The full “Read Through The Scriptures In A Year” schedule, broken down by each day, can be found on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links.” There are 4 sections of scripture to read each day: one each from the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and from the Testimony of Yeshua. Each week, the Torah and haftarah readings will follow the traditional one-year reading cycle.

Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 8/2 through 8/8/2020.

 

It is your divine mandate and highest calling to teach YOUR children!

YHVH Elohim literally commands parents to instruct their children in his ways. This is not the job of the church or someone else. Now more than ever with the leftist bent of the public school systems, with the constant barrage of ungodly, even God-hating messaging that is constantly assaulting us from every direction and from numerous electronic platforms and devices, it is more important than ever to teach our children the ways and truth of Elohim as found in the Bible. If we fail to do so, what hope do our children have of surviving spiritually in the swirling seas of unrighteous darkness that surrounds us attempting to overtake the saints of the Most High?

Listen up parents! Teaching your children may mean changing your lifestyle. Yes, that’s right. Maybe you’ll have to settle for a little lower standard of living, so that mom can stay home to help homeschool your children. Dad, maybe you’ll have to spend more time at home too and less time pursuing the almighty dollar to help mom homeschool the children. Dad, maybe you’ll need to turn off the television or whatever else you waste your time doing in the evenings and on the weekends and spend more time instructing your children about the Bible. In fact, mom and dad, maybe you’ll have to get up a little earlier each day actually to spend time studying the Word of Elohim, so that you’ll know it well enough to be able to teach your children about it. Am I talking hypocritically out of the top of my hat, so to speak, on this issue? NO! This is exactly what my wife and I did with our four children. If we can do it, YOU can too.

May YHVH bless you in your God-given divine mandate to instruct your children in his way as well YOUR grandchildren or any other children YHVH brings into your life. Taking the time and effort to teach our children is the best investment we can make make bar none in the future; the rewards are far better than any material possessions and riches or anything else the world has to offer!


Deuteronomy 6:7, 10–16, 20–25, Instruct your children in the Torah, so they don’t fall into idolatry. YHVH is constantly warning his people against idolatry; idol worship is anything that gets in the way of our relationship with him. 

If you’re not sure whether you have idols in your life, then ask yourself this question: What is of higher priority in your life than serving YHVH? What in your life takes more of your time, energy and money than serving YHVH? What draws your heart away from the study of his written Word, from prayer and fellowship? What or who hinders you from moving forward in your spiritual walk? What in your life keeps YHVH from getting out of a spiritual box in your life? This is idolatry!

Our children follow our example more than our words. By our actions, if YHVH isn’t first in our life our children will follow our example and will be prone to perpetuate our idolatrous ways down the generational line.

Several times YHVH instructs the children of Israel to be certain to instruct their children in the ways of Torah-righteousness. In the Shema, YHVH commands, “And you shall teach them [i.e. his Word] diligently to your children, and talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up” (6:7). Then in verses 20–25 of the same chapter we read, 

“When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments which YHVH our Elohim has commanded you?’ Then you shall say to your son: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, and YHVH brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; and YHVH showed signs and wonders before our eyes, great and severe, against Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers. And YHVH commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear YHVH our Elohim, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before YHVH our Elohim, as He has commanded us.’”

Too often in the church-system the children have had to take the backseat when it comes to discipleship and ministry. They get a few table scraps thrown at them called “Vacation Bible School” (once a year) and a little psychological pep talk Jonah and the Whale-type teaching on Sunday morning accompanied by some, often inane, craft project. Seldom does the head pastor of the church bother with the children’s ministry. Usually, this function is relegated to the younger associate pastor. Typically, the position of “Youth Pastor” is viewed as nothing more than a stepping stone to the “top dog” position of “Head Pastor.” Furthermore, seldom do parents spend any meaningful time during the week instructing their children in the ways of YHVH. As redeemed Israelites, it is our opportunity to follow the Torah and to place the highest ministry priority on instructing our children in the truths of the written Torah, in the truth of Yeshua the Living Torah, and in the fundamentals of who they are as members of the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12) and in preparing them for the kingdom of Elohim. If we don’t, who will? As parents, what are you doing on a regular basis to diligently instruct your children all day, every day? As grandparents, aunts and uncles and members of gospel-orientated Torah community, what are you doing to help in teaching the children? What was the attitude of the disciples when they attempted to shoo the children away from Yeshua. What was Yeshua’s response? Read and compare Matthew 19:13–15 with 18:1–5 and go and do likewise, for they are our future and our legacy!


Torah Explorers Bible Study Program

Do you need a little help teaching your children the Bible? How about a free Torah and gospel-based Bible study program for young people—one lesson for each week of the year? Many years ago, while homeschooling our children and pastoring a local church congregation, I developed Torah Explorers for homeschooling and for churches. This is a good Bible study program for adults as well. Check it out here: https://www.hoshanarabbah.org/parshiot.html

 

Blog Scripture Readings for 7-26 Through 8-1-20

Aside

Parashat Va’etchanan — Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11
Haftarah — Isaiah 40:1-26
Prophets — Ezekiel 28:1 – 34:31
Writings — Nehemiah 4:1 – 10:39
Testimony — Galatians 3:1 – 6:18;
Ephesians 1:1 – 3:21

Our new annual Scripture Reading Schedule for 2019-2020 with daily readings is available to download and print. If you are still working through 2018-2019’s Scripture Reading Schedule, the link will still be available on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links”. If you are using a mobile device or tablet, the link may be below, meaning you’ll need to scroll down instead.

Most of this week’s blog discussion points will be on these passages. If you have general comments or questions on the weekly Scripture readings not addressed in a blog post, here’s a place for you to post those. Just use the “leave a reply” link or the “share your thoughts” box below.

The full “Read Through The Scriptures In A Year” schedule, broken down by each day, can be found on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links.” There are 4 sections of scripture to read each day: one each from the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and from the Testimony of Yeshua. Each week, the Torah and haftarah readings will follow the traditional one-year reading cycle.

Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 7/26 through 8/1/2020.

 

Welcome to Galatians—A Fun, Though Controversial Book!

I love the book of Galatians! Why? One reason is this: The more difficult and controversial a biblical book, chapter or passage is, once understood by the light of YHVH’s Spirit, the greater the opportunity for the light of YHVH’s truth to shine through and illuminate the darkness of men’s understanding for His glory! Besides that, I like challenges and understanding the Epistle to the Galatians provides a challenge.

It has taken me decades to understand Galatians and to see how the mainstream church has twisted its message to make Paul say things he is not saying at all! Once understood, it is plain to see that what the church’s view that the book of Galatians teaches in one way or another against the Torah-law DOES NOT line up with the truth of the rest of Scripture. Therefore, is Scripture wrong or the church? I choose the latter. Let Elohim be true and every man a liar…

Definition of Terms in Galatians

Definition of Terms in Galatians

The Epistle to the Galatians can be challenging to understand due, in part, to the legal language and concepts that Paul the academically trained Torah-law scholar employed therein. To help us to understand Galatians, it is imperative to know the definitions of some of the words found in this small epistle. To help in this daunting task, I have drawn upon, among others, the Jewish New Testament Commentary by Dr. David Stern who is also the translator of the Complete Jewish Bible.

  • The law (the Torah)

The Torah of Elohim as contained in the first five books of Scripture (the Penteteuch [Greek] or Chumash [Hebrew]). Defined literally, Torah in Hebrew meansteachings, precepts, instructions [in righteousness].” In the Jewish religion the term Torah can have both broader and narrower meanings than just the five books of Moses: (a) the entire Tanakh (or Old Testament); (b) the Oral Law; (c) or strictly the legal code (non-narrative) parts of the first five books of Moses. 

  • The law versus [a] law

In most cases where the term the law is found in the English New Testaments, the definite article the is not part of the original Greek (this can be verified by consulting a Greek interlinear), even though the English translators have not italicized it indicating it as a word which has been added by the translators to clarify the meaning of the text (as they have in the KJV and NASB Bibles). The term law by itself (without the definite article the preceding) can, at times, simply refer to: (a) any legal code of do’s and don’ts without reference to faith, heart conviction or love; (b) legalism; (c) a perversion of the Torah into a system of do’s and don’ts to earn, merit or keep Elohim’s love and favor and thereby to receive salvation; or the law of sin and death, which is the lawless and rebellious flesh nature at work in one’s life. 

  • Under [the] law 

Galatians 3:23; 4:4, 5, 21; 5:18; also Romans 3:19; 6:14, 15; 1 Corinthians 9:20, 21. The phrase under [the] law can alternatively be rendered under subjection to legalism, according to David Stern. Finally, let’s look actually at the Greek word under as it is used in the phrase under law. 

The Complete Jewish Bible (by David Stern) translates the phrase under [the] law as under legalism (see Stern’s Jewish New Testament Commentary, p. 344 where he explains why). Stern explains here that the word under is the Greek word upo which means “controlled by (as in under the control of or in subjection to sin,” see Rom 3:9). He reasons that if one is not controlled by or in subjection to law or legalism, then how is one under, controlled by or in subjection to grace? In the same sense that we have accepted Yeshua’s yoke which is easy and light to be under (Matt 11:28–30), this is in contrast to the yoke of legalism which is not easy and light to be under.

Stern contends that YHVH’s people are living en (i.e. within the framework of Torah, but not to be upo (i.e. in subjection to) legalism. YHVH’s people are in a faith/trust relationship with him and always have been under grace and “under” Torah (a gracious subjection), but never under legalism (a harsh subjection) (Jewish New Testament Commentary or JNTC, p. 374).

  • Elements of the world 

Galatians 4:3. Refers to the elemental [demonic] demigod spirits that the dualistic hellenized heathens worshipped and who were supposed to live in the spheres above the earth and who controlled life on earth (see Stern’s JNTC, pp. 556–557).

  • Weak and beggarly elements

Galatians 4:9. Stern says that when Gentiles observe the Torah festivals of YHVH neither out of joy in sharing what YHVH has given to them nor out of spiritual identification with them, but out of fear induced by legalists who have convinced them that unless they do these things, YHVH will not accept them, then they are not obeying the Torah but subjugating themselves to legalism; and legalism is just another species of those weak and miserable elemental [demonic] spirits and no better than the idols they left behind (JNTC, p. 557).

  • Under a schoolmaster

The Complete Jewish Bible translates schoolmaster as custodian. In his JNTC (p. 553), Stern explains that the word translated as schoolmaster in the KJV and other English Bibles is the Greek word paidagogos which literally means “boy-leader”. In ancient Greece a paidagogos was a slave who conducted a boy to and from school and was not actually the school teacher. You can verify this definition in Webster’s dictionary. As languages evolve words change in meanings. Therefore, a secondary modern meaning of pedagogue is a “teacher or schoolmaster” and pedagogy is the science of teaching. Stern explains that the ancient Greek paidagogos had no teaching function and although the Torah had as one of its goals the leading of Jewish people to the Messiah, as Paul explicitly states at Romans 10:4, that is not the import of the present verse. The paidagogos actually would have been a harsh disciplinarian for the Jewish people, providing some protection but generally making the Jewish person aware of many transgressions so that Jews might turn from legalistic rule-following and be declared righteous legally on the basis of faith and being faithful to Yeshua, whose trusting faithfulness to God the Father purchased our salvation.

  • But

Galatians 2:11. The word but (KJV) is better translated as and, furthermore, moreover, and not but as in opposition to.

  • The Jews’ religion or Judaism

Galatians 1:13, 14. The word Judaism (NKJV) is referring to non-Messianic Judaism, not to the those Jews who were disciples of Yeshua the Messiah and Torah-obedient.

  • Hagar versus Sarah

Galatians 4:22–31. Here we see a Jewish midrash which is an in-depth biblical lesson in story form. Often it involves interpreting the Tanakh through allegorical and not literal interpretation. In this passage we see that Abraham tried to obtain YHVH’s promises through works by working out YHVH’s plans and purposes for his life through his own effort. As a result, he took matters into his own hands (works) and conceived Ishmael through Hagar instead of waiting in faith on YHVH to bring him a son through Sarah. 

Conversely, Isaac represents obtaining YHVH’s grace and favor (salvation) through faith and not works. Paul here draws a parallel between Hagar (who represents a works or legalistic approach to earning YHVH’s favor) and the Torah-commandments given on Mt. Sinai. If one hopes to achieve YHVH’s favor by the legalistic works of perfectly keeping all of the Torah-commandments then one is sure to fall short and miss the mark even as Abraham did in attempting to obtain a son of promise through Hagar. 

This midrash underscores the fact that the Mosaic or Sinaitic Covenant was not a covenant of salvation. This was the purpose of the Abrahamic Covenant as Ariel Berkowitz so clearly points out in his book Take Hold (pp. 23–25). He says that the Abrahamic Covenant was a covenant strictly of grace which Abraham did not earn, merit or deserve, yet he received the promises and blessings of offspring, land and nations. Berkowitz goes on to write that if the Abrahamic Covenant was the covenant of promise then the Mosaic Covenant was the covenant of dwelling in that promise. Participation in the covenant of Sinai did not secure the promises given as a grace gift by YHVH to Abraham and his descendants. Rather, the Torah-covenant was given to keep the people of Israel in YHVH’s path of righteousness so that the promises YHVH made to Abraham and his descendents might come to fruition upon Israel. The Torah-covenant provided a means for Israel to fulfil it’s YHVH-ordained destiny, and it provide d a legal standard so necessary to an orderly society (ibid.).

A Quick Overview of the Book of Galatians

Below is a quick overview of the book of Galatians. My explanatory comments are in brackets. 

Continue reading
 

Blog Scripture Readings for 7-19 Through 7-25-20

Aside

Parashat D’varim — Deuteronomy 1:1 – 3:22
Haftarah — Isaiah 1:1-27
Prophets — Ezekiel 21:1 – 27:36
Writings — Ezra 8:1 – 10:44; Nehemiah 1:1 – 3:32
Testimony — 2 Corinthians 9:1 – 13:14; Galatians 1:1 – 2:21

Our new annual Scripture Reading Schedule for 2019-2020 with daily readings is available to download and print. If you are still working through 2018-2019’s Scripture Reading Schedule, the link will still be available on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links”. If you are using a mobile device or tablet, the link may be below, meaning you’ll need to scroll down instead.

Most of this week’s blog discussion points will be on these passages. If you have general comments or questions on the weekly Scripture readings not addressed in a blog post, here’s a place for you to post those. Just use the “leave a reply” link or the “share your thoughts” box below.

The full “Read Through The Scriptures In A Year” schedule, broken down by each day, can be found on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links.” There are 4 sections of scripture to read each day: one each from the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and from the Testimony of Yeshua. Each week, the Torah and haftarah readings will follow the traditional one-year reading cycle.

Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 7/19 through 7/25/2020.

 

What does the Bible say about women wearing earrings?

Ezekiel 16:12, Earrings in your ears. Some woman in an effort to be scriptural in how they live and dress wonder if it is biblically permissible to wear earrings that required the ears to be pierced. Those in favor of wearing pierced earrings will often quote the reference of Ezek 16:12 which according to the KJV seems to indicate that the allegorical bride of YHVH had “earrings in” her ears. This is one place where the KJV got it wrong, for this is a mistranslation on the part of the KJV translators, since “in” should be “on” in accordance with the true meaning of the Hebrew preposition al or KG. I have checked the best Hebrew lexicons available and they all verify that “on” as the proper translation.

Does this mean that Scripture forbids the wearing of pierced ear earrings? In my opinion, no. Some will quote Lev 19:28 which prohibits the making of “cuttings in the flesh for the dead.” This was a pagan, satanic practice that some devil-worshippers practice to this day to conjure up demons and to increase their spiritual (demonic) power. Would it be a correct biblical interpretation (exegesis) to say that this command would also include ear-piercing for earrings? In my opinion, no, since the Torah commands in Exod 21:6 that if an indentured-type servant after his period of service is completed with this master chooses to continue to serve his master forever, as a sign of his servitude he is to have his ears pierced by an awl against a door post. Now we both know that if a ring were not placed in the hole, the hole would grow over and the proof of his servitude would be gone. So it may be assumed that probably an earring was placed in the ear to keep the hole open.

We know that in the Bible, earrings were used as symbols for pagan deities (Gen 35:4; and likely Exod 32:2-3). From ancient historical sources, we know that this was a prevalent practice in the ancient world, since earrings were worn in honor of various pagan deities and as amulets. A quick examination of this evidence is to be found a http://www.ccg.org/English/s/p197.html. Obviously, the wearing of earrings for pagan spiritual purposes is contrary to scriptural example. However, the fact remains that the allegorical bride of YHVH in Ezek 16 had an earring on her ear, and that a bond servant’s ears were pierce and the hole was possibly kept open via an earring. 

On the basis of this evidence it seems to me that Scripture does not clearly forbid the use of earrings (including pierced earrings) for decorative reasons. We know that Scripture defines sin as the “violation of the Torah” (1 John 3:4), and so if Torah doesn’t forbid something, then it is not sin. However, due to a weak or tender conscience due to past worldly practices, some may find it impossible to wear earrings. If this is the case, these people should not violate their conscience. Those who do not share their belief should not try to force them to change their minds and vice versa. 

 

Blog Scripture Readings for 7-12 Through 7-18-20

Aside

Parashat Matot-Masei — Numbers 30:2 (1)* – 36:13
Haftarah — Jeremiah 2:4-28; 3:4
Prophets — Ezekiel 16:1 – 20:49
Writings — Ezra 1:1 – 7:28
Testimony — 2 Corinthians 2:1 – 8:24

Our new annual Scripture Reading Schedule for 2019-2020 with daily readings is available to download and print. If you are still working through 2018-2019’s Scripture Reading Schedule, the link will still be available on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links”. If you are using a mobile device or tablet, the link may be below, meaning you’ll need to scroll down instead.

Most of this week’s blog discussion points will be on these passages. If you have general comments or questions on the weekly Scripture readings not addressed in a blog post, here’s a place for you to post those. Just use the “leave a reply” link or the “share your thoughts” box below.

The full “Read Through The Scriptures In A Year” schedule, broken down by each day, can be found on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links.” There are 4 sections of scripture to read each day: one each from the Torah, the Prophets, the Writings, and from the Testimony of Yeshua. Each week, the Torah and haftarah readings will follow the traditional one-year reading cycle.

* Verse numbers in parenthesis refer to the verse number in Christian English Bibles when they differ from Hebrew Bibles or the Tanakh.

Weekly Blog Scripture Readings for 7/12 through 7/18/2020.