My Brother Warner’s Lahaina Fire Story of Selfless Love

And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:31)

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (Matt 25:31)

Please read again Matthew 25:31–46, which describes Yeshua’s judgment of the sheep and goats where he concludes,

Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (Matt 25:31)

Like a lot of you, I have been following updates on the Lahaina Maui, Hawaii fire story and its aftermath—especially the human element. There are many unanswered questions as to how this horrific fire started, why or why not certain things happened that could have saved lives and so on. But to me, these are not the most important questions to ask. Rather, how are the people doing and what would I do were I in a similar situation?

The bottom line is that the lives of everyday people like you and me were turned upside down in a few hours. Such could happen to anyone of us in an instant. Each of us is a breath or heartbeat away from are lives being completely changed forever, if not ended. How do people in such a situation respond? What do you do? Where do you go? How do you put your life back together again? How do you cope? These are questions that go through my mind, and probably yours too if you’re a thinking and feeling person. We are living in the crazy days of the end times, so who knows what may be around the corner coming at us like a freight train! Thus it behooves us to live each day as if it were our last. With this in mind, what would Yeshua have us to do? What would he do? What did he do?

A few years ago, Sandi and I were privileged to spend a week in Ka’anapali next to Lahaina in Maui. We walked the beaches, swam in the ocean, strolled along Front Street enjoying the culture, marveled at North America’s largest banyan tree, sampled the food, purchased some precious mementos from the shops that are now ashes. I even left an important piece of my self in Maui. While body surfing in the ocean, I lost my wedding ring—it slipped off my hand as my finger brushed against some coral. Not wanting to be ringless, we bought an inexpensive koa wood metal ring from a jewelry shop on Front Street.

All that aside, and back to the human element, last night I came across this video of Warner, a native and indigenous Hawaiian telling his story of rescuing people during the fire. I have no idea if he is a Bible believing Christian or not, but this is one of the most engaging and poignant stories of godly love and sacrifice that I have ever heard. I can only hope that I would be half the man that he was were I in a similar situation!

I started watching this video and could not stop. It has challenged me deeply.

For a long time, it has been my conviction that when times get tough for the people of YHVH Elohim and we are fighting for our survival against the spirit of antichrist, the saints will come together in powerful unity and boldness and will rise to the occasion as Warner did. This will be our moment to shine the bright light of Yeshua’s love, joy, peace and hope in the lives of those around us.

In the mean time, may YHVH grant us the help and desire to begin taking baby steps to act in this manner here and now! This is the spirit of aloha and ohana that is deeply embedded in the Hawaiian culture. (Please look up the definitions of these words.) We can learn much from this cultural concept.


The Mighty Ten

Exodus 20—An Overview of the Ten Statements (or Commandments

The Ten Statements or The Ten Commandments by which they are more commonly known are but the mighty cornerstone of the 613 commandments of the Torah. From these ten statements, all the biblical commands, both in the Old Testament or Tanakh and the New Testament or Testimony of Yeshua emanate.

The Jewish sages teach that all 613 are implied in the Ten; or that the Ten can be expanded into 613. The Tanakh (Old Testament) and Jewish writings contain a number of phrases that express the quintessential essence of the Torah. One of these best-known passages naming several of these phrases is in the Jewish Talmud: “[R.] Simlai said, ‘613 commandments were given to Moses—365 negative mitzvot (commandments), the same as the number of days in the year, and 248 positive mitzvot, the same as the number of parts in a man’s body. David came and reduced them to eleven (Ps 15), Isaiah to six (Isa 33:15), Micah to three (Mic 6:8), Isaiah again to two—“Observe and do righteousness” (Isa 56:1). Then Amos came and reduced them to one, “Seek me and you shall live” (Amos 5:4)—as did Habakkuk, “The righteous one will attain life by his trusting [or by faith] faithfulness (Hab 2:4)”’ (Makkot 23b–24a, abridged, from the Jewish New Testament Commentary, by David Stern, p. 565). 

We see some of these same Torah summation-type statements in the Testimony of Yeshua. For example, the phrase, “the just shall live by faith” is found in three passages of the Testimony of Yeshua (Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38); In Leviticus 19:18, we find the phrase, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself,” which is the summation of the last five of the famous Ten Commandments. This in itself is a summation of all of the 613 Torah commandments that relate to human relationships, which we see in Yeshua’s famous “Golden Rule” passage of Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets.” Paul echoes this concept in Romans 13:8, “Love does not do harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fullness of the Torah.” Love is the foundation and quintessential concept behind the Torah-law of Elohim. Yeshua states this in Mark 12:29–31, 

“And Yeshua answered him, ‘The first of all the [Torah] commandments is, Hear, O Israel; YHVH our Elohim is one Master: And you shall love YHVH your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these.’”

Love must be the motive behind all our righteous deeds or else our actions count for nothing (1 Cor 13:1–13). The concept of love and the keeping of YHVH’s Torah-law are codependent actions. One cannot exist without the other. John, in his epistle, discusses this idea at length in 1 John 2:7–11; 3:11–24; 4:7–21 where he states that “Elohim is love” (1 John 4:8, 16), and that one’s love of Elohim and man is linked to obedience to the Torah commandments (1 John 2:3–11; 3:11–18). As YHVH first loved us, we should love our fellow man (1 John 4:7–11), in word, deed and in (Torah) truth (1 John 3:18). This relates to Yeshua’s admonition to his disciples in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my Torah-commandments.”

Lest one recoil at the thought of having to keep 613 commandments of the Torah please be advised of the fact that there are approximately 1050 commandments in the Testimony of Yeshua!


Yeshua: What’s more important than Torah-law obedience?

John 13:35, By this all will know. Love was to be the identifying mark of a disciple of Yeshua. The Bible defines love in several ways. We love Yeshua by keeping his (Torah) commands (John 14:15; 1 John 5:1–3). Yeshua defines the Torah as loving Elohim with all of our heart, soul mind and strength and loving our neighbor as ourself (Mark 12:28–31). Paul says that all the laws of Elohim can be summed up in love (Rom 13:8–10). Yeshua said that the greatest expression of love is to lay one’s life down for another as Yeshua did for us (1 John 3:16; 4:11). Without love, all the good—even religious works—we may do YHVH counts as nothing (1 Cor 13).

It’s important to note that most disciples of Yeshua (including Christians) believe this principle, but, sadly, when it comes down to reality, many fail to live out the identifying principles of love. How easy it is to view our religious works as the main identifying marks Continue reading


The radical message of John is still radical

Luke 3:7–17, Then he said to the multitudes. What’s really going on in this exchange between John the Baptist and the religious folks of his day? Let’s step back and look at the bigger picture.

The multitudes of Jews had to make the long, hot and arduous journey through the Judean mountains down to the Jordan River, which was the lowest spot on earth, to hear John the Baptist, who was the latest fad preacher to come on the scene. However, when they arrived at his lonely wilderness pulpit, instead of stroking their egos by complimenting them for their religious zeal, he excoriates them and calls them a brood of vipers. John confronts them by saying that if they don’t repent, the fires of YHVH’s judgment will consume them (John 3:7–9). John’s preaching pierces their hearts, and lays them low spiritually. In a proper response, they ask him what he expects them to do (John 3:10). John then preaches a message of social justice involving giving to the poor, being fair and honest in one’s business dealings, and if one is a government worker, then treat the citizens one serves with respect (John 3:11–14).

Interestingly, he doesn’t instruct these religious Jews in what many consider to be the Continue reading


Vengeance, Retribution, Vindictiveness and Retaliation Is Torahlessness ≠ Love

Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. (Lev 19:17–18, KJV)

Leviticus 19:17, Not hate your brother. On vengeance, retribution, vindictiveness and bearing grudges against others. The KJV and NKJV translations of this verse is difficult to understand. The NIV reads, “Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.” The NAS has, “You shall not hate your fellow-countryman in your heart; you may surely reprove your neighbor, but shall not incur sin because of him.” Finally, the ASET reads, “You shall not your brother in your heart; you shall reprove your fellow and do not bear a sin because of him.”

In other words, when your brother treats you improperly, honestly confront him, or as Yeshua said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone” (Matt 18:15). However, if he ignores you and is still prone to vengeance or bearing a grudge against you, don’t become like him and retaliate against him (Lev 19:18). Instead, love him as yourself, or treat him with love as you wish to be treated (ibid.), or else you will incur his sin by becoming like him (v. 17). Yeshua summed up this godly principle of not giving in to vengeance and retaliation when wronged this way, “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt 5:39). This is loving one’s neighbor as oneself and is the summation of the second half of the Torah (Mark 12:29–31) as summed up by the last five of the ten commandments (Exod 20:12–17).

Exhibiting vengeance, retribution, vindictiveness or bearing a grudge against one’s neighbor is a lack of self control, is a result of anger and is a form of hatred, which are all works of the flesh resulting in contentions between people (Gal 5:20). These are sinful behaviors and are the opposite of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–24), and people who habitually practice these sins along with the other works of the flesh are in danger of not being in the kingdom of Elohim (Gal 5:21).


What does badger skin have to do with love and Torah?

Numbers 4:6, Badger skin [Heb. tachash]. When being transported, the ark of the covenant was covered with a tachash skin, which, according to rabbinic tradition was an unusually beautiful color of turquoise blue made from the hide of a now extinct animal. According to The ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash, this striking color of blue invited one to keep YHVH’s Torah-commandments by clothing them in physical beauty thus showing that obedience to them would be enjoyable (p. 745). Is obeying YHVH, keeping his commands, inviting and enjoyable, or is it a burden? In 1 John 5:1–3 we read:

Whosoever believes that Yeshua is the Messiah is born of Elohim, and every one that loves him that begot loves him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous [burdensome, severe, cruel, heavy].

John the apostle clearly states that obedience to Torah is centered on love—a love relationship between man and his Creator. John, in his Gospel, records Yeshua, the Living Torah-Word of Elohim, saying,

If you love me, keep my Torah-commandments (John 14:15).

Other scriptures that say the same thing in a different way include,

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.…Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Rom 13:8, 10)

And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. (1 John 3:23)

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. (1 John 5:2–3)

And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. (2 John 5–6)


The Seven Steps to Spiritual Maturity—to Be Complete in Love

2 Peter 1:5–7, Add to your faith. This list of seven character qualities shows us the progressive steps one must go through to become mature spiritually. 

Faith: First there is initial faith in YHVH Elohim, which is the starting point in our spiritual walk. This is the same faith Abraham had when YHVH told him to leave Babylonia, and it was accounted to him for righteousness sake (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:3).

Virtue: Second, initial faith in Elohim is “filled out with” (as J. P. Green translates it) virtue, which is defined as “moral excellence.” This can be no less than one’s learning to conform one’s lives to the high standards of the Torah, which tells us how to walk in relationship with Elohim (as summarized by the first four of the ten commandments) and our fellow man (as summarized by the last six of the ten commandments). Virtue is the opposite of sin, and the Torah shows us what sin and moral excellence are by showing us what to do (the path of blessing and life) and what not to do (the path of curses and death).

Knowledge: Third, as one begins to walk out Torah-obedience, one gains a deeper and more perfect understanding of the heart, will and mind of Elohim as expressed in the Creator’s instruction manual for living—the Torah, which is Truth and is the path that leads to life. At the same time, one gains an understanding of the opposite side, which is that of sin and leads to death.

Self-control: Fourth, as one gains a fuller understanding of the difference between good and evil, right and wrong as defined by YHVH’s instructions in righteousness, the Torah, and as one fortifies oneself morally by choosing consistently to do the right thing, one gains self-control. One learns to control or master one’s fleshly passions and desires including selfishness, pride, greed, anger and lust and all the other works of the flesh (Gal 5:19–21).

Perseverance or patience: Fifth, as one becomes proficient and consistent in self-control, one begins to learn patience or perseverance, which is steadfastness, constancy and endurance. At this stage in one’s spiritual development, one becomes less likely to be buffeted around or thrown off balance by one’s own carnal impulses or by those of other people that are directed at us (persecution).

Godliness: Sixth, as our life more consistently begins to reflect the heart, mind and will of YHVH Elohim as exemplified in his Torah and the rest of his Word (the Scriptures) and as walked out by Yeshua, the Living Torah-Word of Elohim, then our words, thoughts and actions will begin to reflect the very character and nature of our Father in heaven, which is godliness, to those around us, even as the moon reflects the light of the sun into the darkness of the night world. At this point, who we are is more defined by the character of Elohim than by the carnal, sin nature of the typical man.

Brotherly kindness: Seventh, obedience to the Torah naturally results in our being kinder and gentler to those around us, since the Torah demands that we treat others how we want to be treated and tells us how to love our neighbor as ourself (Matt 7:12; Mark 12:28–30; Rom 13:8–10). After one has completed these seven steps, one becomes perfect or complete in biblical love, which is the eighth step.

Love: The eighth step to spiritual maturity is love (for Elohim and our fellow man), which is the summation of all the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–24) and is the highest level of spiritual attainment (1 Cor 13:1–13) and is the summation of the entire Torah (Mark 12:28–30; Rom 13:8–10). The previous eight steps are the components of a complete or perfect biblical love. Biblical love isn’t some nebulous or ethereal concept based on some heady concept, lofty emotions or vague feelings. Rather love is a concrete idea that is rooted in one’s actions toward one’s brother as delineated in the previous seven steps. This type of love is unconditional, and is an unselfish love for others even when there is no personal benefit to be gained as Paul succinctly and concretely teaches in 1 Corinthians 13—the love chapter. This is the love of Elohim—the love that he has for men, and the love that he wants us to develop, so that we will be like him, so that he can live with us forever in his eternal kingdom. After we have matured through these eight steps, we become spiritually and morally complete or perfect and are prepared to spend eternity with YHVH Elohim in the New Jerusalem of heaven on earth. Love is the eighth step, and eight is the number signifying new beginnings and infinity; therefore, love is the character trait that launches us into a new beginning of a immortal life in Elohim’s eternal kingdom of the heaven on earth of the New Jerusalem.