Pearls from Deuteronomy 6 and 7

Deuteronomy 6

Deuteronomy 6:4, Hear [shema] O Israel. This statement (verses 4–9 coupled with Lev 19:18) is known as the “Shema” and is a statement of faith in the Jewish religion. In Mark 12:2931, Yeshua also cites the Shema as the summation of all that Torah commands humans in order to have a proper relationship with YHVH and their fellow man. The word shema means “to hear, listen, obey.” How often, when it comes to obeying YHVH do we draw near or honor him with our lips, but our hearts are far from him? (See Mark 7:6; Isa 29:13; Matt 15:8.) Though similar in spelling, the words shema and shamar have different etymologies, yet we still juxtapose them conceptually. The Hebrew word shamar is often translated into English as guard, beware or keep (see verse 12), while shema means “to hear and do.” When we guard or keep YHVH’s commandments, we will hear and do them and vice versa. The two concepts of guarding/keeping and hearing/doing go hand-in-hand and when spiritually active in our life they prevent us from falling into idolatry, which YHVH warns us against in verses 10 to 16.

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), an on a weekly basis, a Sunday school class with a Jonah and the Whale-type teaching 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 Truth of the written Torah, as well as the Truth of Yeshua the Living Torah, and in the fundamentals of who we are as members of the commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:12), and in preparing ourselves for the kingdom of Elohim. If we do not do this, then 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 a 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!

Deuteronomy 7

Deuteronomy 7:12, Because you listen. This verse shows the conditional nature of the Mosaic or Sinaitic Covenant. Blessings from heaven are conditional upon obedience to YHVH’s Torah instructions in righteousness. It was each person’s choice to obey YHVH or not. Either way, the law of cause and effect would come into play: blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. The same is true with the New Covenant. If we place our faith in Yeshua the Messiah,who is the Living Torah, and love him by keeping his commandments (John 14:15, 21), we will not only be blessed physically blessed here and now, but we will be blessed with eternal life (Matt 5:19). Those who refuse to place their faith in Yeshua and obey his commandments will receive the fruit of their disobedience now, and will also perish in the lake of fire (Rev 20:11–15). The law of cause and effect still applies to both the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant, and humans will reap the consequence of their actions based on the choices they make whether good or bad. It’s that simple.

Deuteronomy 7:17–18, Dispossess them…not be afraid.Do we walk by faith or by sight (i.e. relying strictly on our human logic or intellect instead having faith in the Word and Truth of Elohim)? Was it logical to think that Israel could dispossess a fortified land full of people mightier and greater in number than themselves? Fear and logic are often the enemies of faith in YHVH’s Word and promises. Without faith it is impossible to please YHVH (Heb 11:6), and the just shall walk by faith (Heb 10:38). What is faith? (See Heb 11:1.) 

By faith the physical creation came into existence (Heb 11:3), therefore, faith preceded the physical creation and is the “mother” of it. From the “womb” of faith, if you will, came forth all that we see and know. That “womb” is the very heart, character and mind of YHVH Elohim. It is spiritual. 

We live in a physical dimension. The new heaven, new earth, and the Jerusalem from above, for which we look, will be of a spiritual dimension. Those who plan on living forever in that dimension after their physical lives have come to an end must learn to walk in the spiritual dimension here and now by trusting in the Word and promises of YHVH for all of their needs. What lessons can we learn from the Israelites in this regard?

Deuteronomy 7:18; 8:2, 11, Remember… forget not. An essential element of a strong faith in the promises of YHVH (e.g. ­prosperity, verse 13; fruitfulness of the womb, verse 14; healing, verse 15; victory over enemies, verse 16; etc.) is to remember YHVH’s past accomplishments in your life: how he has healed you, prospered you, answered your prayers, transformed your life, delivered you from your enemies and troubles, given you meaning, hope and purpose to your life. In the last days, many people are becoming lukewarm in their faith, are turning away from Yeshua the Messiah (who is also YHVH of the Tanakh, see Acts 7:36–38; 1 Cor 10:4, 9; and compare John 14:15 with Deut 11:1 and Exod 20:6), and are turning to idolatry, doubt and unbelief, secularism, materialism, hedonism, and false religions because they have forgotten what YHVH-Yeshua did for them. Have you forgotten? To forget is a slippery slope that can lead to spiritual oblivion. Take a moment to recall the wonderful things he has done for you. Write them down. Remember them. Thank and praise him for them.

Deuteronomy 7:20–24, YHVH will go before you. Do you really believe that YHVH is leading you into your spiritual Promised Land? What is your mission, calling, destiny and purpose in life vis-à-vis helping to advance the kingdom of Elohim? As he promised to be with the Israelites and to go before them (Deut 7:20–24), so his promise commandments and faithfulness are for a thousand generations (Deut 7:9), which means they are for you! If you do not have a mission, goal or purpose (the Israelites’ goal and mission was to enter and to possess the Promised Land) then you will wander aimlessly in the wilderness indefinitely.

Deuteronomy 7:25, Carved images of their gods. This shows the link between the two commands contained in the ten statements or commandments relating to idolatry. The prohibition against the worshipping of false gods and making graven or carved images is actually one command with two parts. Men tend to worship idolize what they can see or make.

 

Blog Scripture Readings for 7-25 Through 7-31-21

Aside

Parashat Eikev — Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25
Haftarah — Isaiah 49:14 – 51:3
Prophets — Ezekiel 37:1 – 43:27
Writings — 1 Chronicles 3:1 – 8:40
Testimony — Philippians 3:1 – 4:23; Colossians 1:1 – 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 1

Our annual Scripture Reading Schedule for 2020-2021 with daily readings that began on 10/11/20 is available to download and print. The link to the previous 2019-2020’s Scripture Reading Schedule will still be available on the right sidebar under “Helpful Links” into next year. 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 7/25 through 7/31/2021.

 

The Five-Fold Ministry Explained

Did the so-called fivefold ministry offices cease after the New Testament era, or do they continue function in the body of Yeshua to this day? In our day, most people agree that the ministries of the evangelist, teacher and pastor are still in operation today, but many say that the offices of apostles and prophet have ceased to operate. Yet in verse 13, we read that these offices would operate “till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah…,” which hasn’t happened yet. Therefore, it would stand to reason, that all these ministry offices are still needed today.

He. It must be kept in mind that Yeshua is the epitome of and over all (authoritatively) ministry offices that follow in this verse. When we ascended to heaven, he spread his own abilities out, as it were, among those he called to be leaders over his spiritual flock below (see Eph 4:8). Collectively, these ministry offices should be doing the work that Yeshua himself would be doing were he here on this earth presently.

Apostles. In addition to the twelve original apostles (including Matthias who replaced Judas Iscariot, Acts 1:26), here is a list of the other apostles, which might be called Yeshua’s ascension-gift apostles (Eph 4:8):

  • James, the half brother of Jesus and leader of the Jerusalem church (Gal 1:19)
  • Barnabas (Acts 14:14)
  • Paul (e.g. Acts 14:14)
  • Apollos (1 Cor 4:6–9)
  • Timothy and Silvanus (1 Thess 1:1 and 2:6)
  • Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25)
  • Titus, and other un-named apostles—at least two (2 Cor 8:23)
  • Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7)
  • Yeshua is the Apostle and High Priest of our confession (Heb 3:1)
  • Including Judas Iscariot, this makes a total of at least 26 apostles who are mentioned in the Testimony of Yeshua. 

With this list in mind, it now becomes logical to divide the apostles into at least three categories or level. Yeshua is the Chief Apostle. The original 12 that Yeshua appointed (minus Judas Iscariot) and possibly Paul would be the next tier. They are the foundational apostles. Yeshua mentions that the 12 apostles will rule over the 12 tribes of Israel and that the 12 foundations of the New Jerusalem are named after the 12 apostles (Rev 21:14). It seems that Yeshua commissioned these foundational apostles in direct, face-to-face encounters. After this come the lowest tier or ascension-gift apostles (Eph 4:8), which are all the other apostles.

Apostle Defined

Apostolos means “a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.” According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testamentapostolos originally was a military or naval term relating to an expeditionary force that was sent out or dispatched. It came to be applied to a band of soldiers, or colonists and their settlement as well as to the commander of the expedition or an admiral. A common feature of all the definitions of the word was its passive character. In none of the definitions is there any suggestion of initiative on the part of the apostle. The word denotes the quality of being sent. In the New Testament, apostolos always denotes a man who is sent with full authority and is synonymous with the Hebrew word shaliach as is evidenced in John 13:16. Here is a legal term relating to one who is lawfully charged to represent the person and cause of another. This meaning is confirmed by the juxtaposition in this verse of the Greek wordsdoulos/kurios and apostolos/pemptsas. Here the servant (doulos) stands under full jurisdiction of his master (kurios) and derives from him all that he is. Apostolos also denotes the “commissioned representative of a congregation” (Acts 13:2ff). Finally, the term signifies the “bearers or proclaimers of the NT message.” The latter meaning applied to not only the original twelve apostles that Yeshua commissioned and sent out, but to the first Christian missionaries or their most prominent representatives (Acts 14:414). According to Paul, the apostles (1 Cor 12:28f) aren’t officials of the congregation, nor the chief of such officials, but are officers of Yeshua by whom the church is built (ibid. vol 1, p. 407ff). 

Attributes of an Apostolic Ministry 

  • Elohim sets or appoints (puts in place, establishes) apostles (as he also does prophets, teachers, etc., 1 Cor 12:28).
  • An apostle is called by God, not men (Gal 1:1).
  • They minister in the power of God, not the wisdom of men (Mark 16:20 cp. 1 Cor 2:1–5).
  • Elohim appoints apostles by the revelation of the Holy Spirit and as confirmed by other established elders ( Acts 9:15Acts 13:2-4Acts 22:21).
  • An apostle is given a specific mission to a specific group of people (Gal 2:8–9Acts 13:2–4).
  • They are spiritual pillars (Gal 2:9).
  • They form part of the spiritual foundation of the church (along with prophets, Eph 2:20).
  • They lay spiritual foundations for others to build on (1 Cor 3:10).
  • They facilitate unity (along with the other five-fold ministries) within the body of Yeshua (Eph 4:11–13).
  • They help the body of Yeshua to mature, to grow up, and to be built up (Eph 4:11–13).
  • Apostles bring revelation to the church (Eph 3:5Gal 1:11–12).
  • Apostles establish, set, and correct doctrine (Acts 2:4215:19–30).
  • They raise up new ministries and ordain elders (Rom 15:20Acts 14:23).
  • They impart spiritual gifts (Rom 1:11).
  • They defend the gospel­—are defenders of the faith (Phil 1:17).
  • The apostles in the NT were persecuted and rejected or even killed for their service to the body of Yeshua (e.g. 1 Cor 4:11–13Luke 11:49Acts 5:1840). This is because they’re on the forefront of YHVH’s spiritual battle to advance his kingdom into the enemy’s territory.
  • One has to grow into becoming a fully function and a spiritually powerful apostle. Yeshua’s 12 apostles asked him to increase their faith (Luke 17:5Mark 16:15 cp. John 21:3 and Acts 2:14).
  • An apostle may initially not be baptized in the Spirit, but once having received this spiritual empowerment will be released into the full authority of the office, as was the case with the original 12 apostles.
  • Apostles take their marching orders directly from Yeshua (Acts 1:2).
  • Apostles have authority to pronounce judgment on sinners within the body of Yeshua (Acts 5:3–101 Cor 5:1–5).
  • Apostles work many signs and wonders (Acts 5:12).
  • Apostles lay down the doctrinal foundation within the body of Yeshua (Acts 2:422 Pet 3:2).
  • Apostles are often called to testify before secular and religious leaders (Acts 5:29).
  • Often apostles have to stay in the thick of the spiritual battle while the rest of the saints escape from harm’s way (Acts 8:1).
  • After the gospel is preached in an area, apostles are sent in to establish spiritual order and to plant congregations (Acts 8:14).
  • Apostles go into new areas to preach the gospel (Acts 13:1–14:7).
  • Apostles along with elders are called to help resolve conflicts within the body of Yeshua (Acts 15:26).

There are false apostles (2 Cor 11:13Rev 2:2).

He gave some to be …prophets. The Greek word prophetes translated as prophetsome 140 times in the NT and means “one who, moved by the Spirit of God and hence his organ or spokesman, solemnly declares to men what he has received by inspiration, especially concerning future events, and in particular such as relate to the cause and kingdom of God and to human salvation; of men filled with the Spirit of God, who by God’s authority and command in words of weight pleads the cause of God and urges salvation of men; in the religious assemblies of the Christians, they were moved by the Holy Spirit to speak, having power to instruct, comfort, encourage, rebuke, convict, and stimulate, their hearers.

According to the TDNTprophetes as it relates to the primitive church was inspired speech of charismatic preachers through whom Elohim’s plan of salvation for the world and his will for the life of individual believers was made known. The prophet knows something of divine mysteries (1 Cor 13:2), about Elohim’s saving will for the Gentiles (Eph 3:5f), and one of his chief concerns is to declare imminent eschatological events (Rev 22:6f). He also knows other aspects of the future (Acts 11:2821:10f). The prophet speaks on contemporary issues as well relating to the ministry of the gospel (Acts 13:1ff1 Tim 1:184:14), and edifies, comforts and exhorts the members of the body of Yeshua (1 Cor 14:3Acts 15:32). Through his preaching, he brings to light the secret wickedness of men (1 Cor 14:25). Since he speaks with a sense of God-given authority, he gives authoritative instructions (ibid., vol. 6, p. 848).

He gave some to be …evangelists. An evangelist (Gr. yoo-ang-ghel-is-tace) by definition is a bringer of good tidings or news, or one who heralds of salvation through the Messiah and who were not apostles. It derives from the word euanggelidzo meaning “to preach the gospel, bring or declare good tidings or news. This word occurs only three times in the NT (Acts 21:8 of Philip; Eph 4:11 as listed among the other “fivefold” ministry offices; and in 2 Tim 4:5 of Timothy). The TDNT says that this term denotes a function more than an office. In the NT, it appears that all apostles were evangelists, but not all evangelists were apostles, and that former was subordinate to the latter. They are more than mere missionaries, since they preach in and lead congregations as well (2 Tim 4:25; ibid., vol. 2., p. 736f).

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Ecclesiastes 2—Is this all there is to life?

Ecclesiastes 2

Ecclesiastes 2:1–10, Come now. The Preacher, King Solomon, looked for a meaning and purpose to life in all of the usual ways that humans indulge themselves: mirth, pleasure or goodness (i.e. being a good person), laughter (merriment, comedy, fun entertainment), hedonism (fulfilling the sensual pleasures of the flesh), alcohol (or mind altering chemical substances), vast building projects including  constructing houses, and exquisite gardens, procuring servants, along with the acquisition of herds of livestock, precious metals, special treasures gathered from around the world, and other great possessions. He also surrounded himself with gifted people to provide musical entertainment. While indulging himself in all of these, he kept his wits about him, so that through it all and afterwards, he could critically analyze the merits and demerits of it all.

Ecclesiastes 2:11, Vanity…grasping for the wind. No matter what grandiose adventures in life the Preacher pursued, regardless of his vast array of accomplishments, and his endless pursuit of satiating the lust of the flesh and its endless craving for pleasure, he found that it all leads to the same place: emptiness and nothingness—a grasping at the elusive wind, or like trying to scratch an itch that will not go away, or to satisfy and unquenchable thirst. He had eaten of all of the finest delicacies that life had to offer until he was gorged, yet he was still hungry. How maddeningly confusing and frustrating to indulge oneself with all these things and still come up empty handed. This is what most people spend their lives doing, yet they never figure out that in the end it leads nowhere—that the answer to the inner longings are not to be found in this physical existence. Rather, the answer is outside of it. He must look up! This is the message cryptic message of Ecclesiastes—of the whole Bible.

Ecclesiastes 2:12, Who succeeds the king. After having achieved and experienced more than any king before him, he asked himself, “What now?” What more can my son after me do that I have not already done? Is there an end to this madness? Does it lead anywhere, or ultimately accomplish anything of lasting value?

Ecclesiastes 2:13–16, Wisdom excels folly. The Preacher concludes that ignorance or folly (or foolishness) is not better then wisdom (or intelligence), even as darkness is not preferable to light. It is better to possess wisdom and intelligence than to go ignorantly and foolishly through life. Yet whether one is foolish or wise, all humans still end up in the same place at the end—dead. So again what is the point of it all? Whether wise or foolish, it all amounts to vanity or emptiness and nothingness—to a big zero—at the end. Therefore, the Preacher concludes, a wise man and a fool are equal in status. Even the wise man dies a fool, for he has not perceived that life is eventually meaningless and pointless (when this physical existence is all there is to hope for).

Ecclesiastes 2:17–23, Must leave it. What is the point of working hard, slaving away and heaping up wealth only to leave it all to someone else after one passes from the scene? It is unlikely that one’s heir will appreciate the tireless effort their parent spent building their estate, and will likely foolishly squander it all away. So what is the point of it all? There is none. So why kill oneself heaping up wealth and accomplishments? You cannot take it all with you. (None of this makes any sense, unless there is a higher purpose to it all beyond this physical existence—a supreme purpose which is revealed elsewhere in the pages of the Bible. The problem is that most people are too busy slaving away on the hamster wheel of life going nowhere, while satiating human ego and accumulating material stuff that they have little time to stop for even a moment to consider the deeper issues of life. This too is foolishness, vanity or emptiness and chasing the wind, since it all leads to the same place—death.)

Ecclesiastes 2:24–26, Nothing is better. If the only hope that a person has in their life is this life, then there is nothing better than to work hard, enjoy the fruits of one’s labors, cherish the simple things of life such as a job well done, and good food and drink, which are blessings from Elohim. The Creator has blessed each of us with the ability to find a certain measure of happiness and contentment in the work of one’s hands and enjoying the fruits of one’s hard work. In the process of it all, if one attempts to be a “good” person and to do right by others, then his earthly reward for good behavior, while a prisoner on this earth to the cosmic machine called time and space, will not be taken away. To be sure, this is a gift from heaven. But in the end, even though a person may find a certain amount of physical happiness, the end results are still the same: vanity or empty nothingness and grasping at the wind. One still dies without escaping the endless, cyclical treadmill of this physical existence of the time-space continuum in which man finds himself trapped. 

 

Spiritual Nuggets from Ephesians 1 and 2

Ephesians 1

Ephesians 1:3, With every spiritual blessing. Our best and ultimate blessings are reserved for us in heaven time, and are not necessarily ours to experience on this earth at this time.

Ephesians 1:4, Without blame. The saint is without blame before YHVH, not without sin.

Ephesians 1:10, All things in the Messiah. Heaven and earth unit in the Messiah who died suspended between the two to reconcile both while using his life as a bridge between heaven and earth. He is the ladder that Jacob dreamed about—the stairway to heaven to which he referred in John 1:51 that all most climb to be reconciled to his Father in heaven.

Ephesians 1:11, An inheritance. Our inheritance is to be adopted as sons into the family of Elohim as Paul states in verse 5.

Ephesians 1:13–14, Sealed…guarantee. YHVH’s depositing his Spirit in the saints at the time of their conversion is his investment in his set-apart people. Whether such a person proves to be a good investment or not is up to that person based on their obedience and faithfulness to YHVH until the end of their life. If they victoriously overcome the world, the flesh and the devil, then YHVH will make a return on his investment and will have gained an immortal addition to his family.

Ephesians 1:15, Faith in…love for. This is a restatement of the shema, which involves loving Yeshua and the saints.

Ephesians 1:18, Inheritance. The saints’ inheritance is eternal life and membership in the family of Elohim for eternity. This is his return on his investment he made in the saint’s life when he gave them his Spirit.

Ephesians 1:19, Inheritance. Explore dunamis versus kratos power, since both words are used in this verse. The same power is at work in us that raised Yeshua from the dead and gave him heavenly dominion (see Eph 2:5). The same process that happened to him is occurring in our lives if we follow in his footsteps.

Ephesians 2

Ephesians 2:2, Sons of disobedience. In reality, sons of Torahlessness.

Ephesians 2:3, Lusts of our flesh. Anti-Torah inclinations.

Children of wrath. This refers to all unrepented and unforgiven sinners who will experience YHVH’s wrathful judgment at the end of days (see Rom 1:18, 32).

Ephesians 2:4–5, He love us…when we were dead. This is the unconditional love Elohim has for lost sinners. (See Rom 5:8).

Ephesians 2:7, Ages to come. Referring to Elohim granting eternal life to his saints at the resurrection and adoption into his spiritual family (Eph 1:11).

Ephesians 2:8, 10, Saved … good works. Are we saved by faith through grace or by our good works? This verse clearly answers this question.One is saved by the free gift of YHVH’s grace through faith (in Yeshua). Salvation isn’t based on good works (Torah obedience), or else prideful man would boast about how good his is, and that YHVH must have saved him on the merits of his good works. However, once one is saved, and a result of his salvation one will produce the fruits good works, which is Torah-obedience. This is the definition of biblical righteousness (Ps 119:172) and shows us how to walk in the Spirit by loving YHVH with our all and our neighbor as ourself. When we live out this pattern, we become Elohim’s workmanship through Yeshua.

Grace… good works. Grace is a free gift, but it demands a response that we might become the workmanship of Elohim and perform good works through our relationship with Yeshua.

Good works…prepared. Elohim prepared good works or a ministry for us to do before we were born. That’s the outworking and divine enablement of his grace through us and the purpose of our salvation—our spiritual destiny!

Covenants of promise. There are three covenants to which Paul is referring here: they are the Abrahamic, Mosaic and Renewed Covenants. Paul mentions “covenants of promise” (plural) in Eph 2:12 of which the ex-Genitles are now a part when they come to Messiah and become the one new man (v. 15), the seed or offspring of Abraham (Gal 3:29), part of the olive tree of Israel (Rom 11:11–32) and the Israel of Elohim (Gal 6:16). The mainstream church focuses only on “the New Covenant,” while omitting and rejecting the first two covenants. Obviously, the exclusion of the first two covenants wasn’t in Paul’s thinking or else he would have said “covenant” not “covenants.” This is because the Word of Elohim never changes; his laws and standards are immutable. Therefore, each succeeding covenant is built upon the foundational truth of the previous covenant and is an expansion of the previous one (e.g. Isa 42:21).

Those who are walking in accordance with Elohim’s entire word including all three of his covenant are those that John describes as keeping the law and having the testimony or faith of Yeshua (i.e. they walk in accordance with the OT and NT covenants; Rev 12:17; 14:12).

It follows, therefore, that these saints are those who haven’t bent the knee to Baal (i.e. they’re not following the downward, gravitational pull of the carnal or evil inclination by following the world, the flesh and devil as does the world around them, and, for the those in churchianity, this includes all forms of Torahlessness, following Christo-pagan traditions, and whitewashed church doctrines of men by which the word of Elohim has been made of none effect). To wit, the number 7,000, as in the righteous saints who hadn’t bowed the knee to Baal in the time of Elijah to which Elohim makes reference in 1 Kgs 18:18, has the following metaphorical or drash-level biblical meaning: seven is the biblical number of perfection, and the three zeros are the three covenants YHVH Elohim made with Israel to bring them into a relationship with them potentially ultimately leading to them becoming his glorified sons and daughters in his everlasting heavenly kingdom.

Ephesians 2:12, Without God. The Greek word here is atheos meaning “without God.” It can also mean “denying, failing to worship Elohim or God, ungodly or godless. The Gentiles in their unsaved state were essentially atheists. For this and other reasons, I refuse to refer to myself as a Gentile.

 

Deep Wisdom from Deuteronomy 3 and 4

Deuteronomy 3

Deuteronomy 3:22, Must fear them. Know Elohim, No Fear; No Elohim, Know Fear.The Scriptures reveal an interesting, and counter-intuitive spiritual principle that humans have a hard time wrapping their heads and hearts around. It is this: When we fear Elohim, we will not fear our enemies, and we will be blessed by Elohim. When we do not fear Elohim, we will fear and be tormented by our enemies and we will not be blessed by Elohim (Ps 34:9; Acts 9:31). 

What is it to fear Elohim? It is to walk in the wisdom of his commandments or his loving instructions in righteousness (Deut 10:12). Rebellious humans have a hard time doing this, since their sin nature is opposed to submitting to YHVH legal instructions (Jer 17:9; Rom 8:7). 

Once, however, one gets their sin nature under control with the help of Yeshua, and one begins to love and fear Elohim by keeping his commandments, suddenly the physical things they once feared no longer have any hold on their hearts and minds. 

Having defeated the greatest enemy of all—one’s sin nature—with Elohim’s help effectively empowers and emboldens the saint. He no longer fears what other people think about him because, in the long run, all that matters is what Elohim thinks. He no longer is concerned about his future physical needs and well-being because Elohim promises to take care of us when we trust and obey him. He no longer fears those who attack and persecute him, because he knows that with Elohim’s help, he can overcome any enemy. 

Deuteronomy 3:23, Pleaded with YHVH. YHVH forbids Moses from fulfilling his life-long dream of entering the Promised Land. What was Moses’ repsonse? Did he cry, pout and pitch a fit, or did he accept YHVH’s will for his life? What can we learn from this? Do you have so much love for and faith in YHVH that you would be willing to let go of your greatest dream—even your life on the altar of faith and trust in YHVH and obey him no matter the outcome? Though YHVH were to slay you, will you like Job still love and trust him (Job 13:15)? If your entire life was devastated, you lost all your money, the land was desolate and your life become a desert, would you like Habukkuk still praise YHVH (Hab 3:17–19)? Selah.

Deuteronomy 4

Deuteronomy 4:2, You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor shall you subtract/diminish from it. YHVH warns his people against adding or subtracting from his written word elsewhere as well (Deut 12:32; Rev 22:18–19). Men seem inclined to ignore YHVH’s command in this regard. In fact, whole religions have been founded based on disregarding this prohibition. Some claim to be Bible-based (e.g. Mormonism with their Book of Mormon and rabbinic Judaism with its Talmud), and some have supplanted the entire Bible with their own book (Islam with its Quran). This doesn’t even include the numerous unbiblical traditions and man-made doctrines that many traditional churches and denominations have constructed out of whole cloth and patched into the teachings of the Bible. This cannot be pleasing to Elohim!

Who is the author of and real power behind adding to and subtracting from or twisting YHVH’s Word? It is Satan the serpent. (See Gen 3:1ff and Matt 4:3ff.) Make no mistake, adding or subtracting from the Word of Elohim is to fall for the lie that the devil told the first humans at the tree of knowledge that the Word of Elohim can be molded and formed to fit men’s ways of  thinking instead of Elohim’s.

What did Yeshua warn the religionists of his day against in this regard? He said, “Thus have you made the commandment of Elohim of none effect by your tradition” (Matt 15:6) and, “Howbeit in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mark 7:7). What are some examples of traditions and theologies in the modern-day Christian and Jewish religions where YHVH’s word has been superseded by man’s traditions? What are some traditions and doctrines of men you have turned away from in order to bring yourself into greater alignment with YHVH’s Word? How is your life better for it? What has been the reaction of those around you in response to your aligning your life more closely with the truth of YHVH?

Finally, the Bible ends with a warning to those who would add to the word of Elohim.

For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, Elohim will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, Elohim shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Rev 22:18–19)

When this passage says “this book,” which book is it talking about? The book of Revelation or the entire Bible? To err on the side of caution, it is prudent to assume that John is referring to the whole Bible, since Revelation is the last book of the Bible. Why do I assume this? Simply because I personally do not care to experiences any of Elohim’s curses; life is already difficult enough as it is!

Deuteronomy 4:2, Observe the commandments of YHVH. The word observe (RNA/shin-mem-resh)is a common Hebrew verb meaning “to keep, guard, give heed, watch, protect, have charge of.”In its noun-form, shamar means “a watchman.” According to The TWOT, the basic meaning of shamar is “to exercise great care over something.” One of the most frequent uses of this verb in Scripture is how it is used in this verse. YHVH commands his people to shamar his Torah-commandments some 30 times in the Torah alone. What does this mean to you? Are you learning to not only “hear,” but “to do” his commands (the Hebrew word shema)? How has your life changed and what are the resulting blessings? Though YHVH clearly commands his people “to keep” or “to guard,” what is commonly taught in most Christian churches in regard to “the law”?

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