Prepare for the fall feasts: Repent of sin! Here’s how…

Psalm 51:17, Sacrifices…broken spirit…contrite heart. Broken is the Hebrew word shobar meaning “to burst, break (down, off, in pieces, up), bring to birth, breach” and refers to a one’s personal spirit that YHVH has broken into or breached. This is necessary if there is to be a breakthrough in one’s spiritual life. 

The fallow ground of one’s heart must be broken up or tilled for righteousness to occur as one seeks YHVH (Hos 10:12). 

The hard and carnal heart of each person must be circumcised (Deut 10:16; 30:6; Jer 4:4; Col 2:11). This occurs through repentance from sin as this psalm explains. 

It is then that not only one receives salvation, but joy comes with that salvation (v. 12) along with gladness (v. 8). Why? Because YHVH has lovingly purged and cleansed us of our sins and blotted our past sins out (vv. 1, 2, 9) and the guilt therefrom (v. 14) and has us whiter than snow (v. 7). 

When does this happen? Only when we acknowledge our sins (v. 3), and not until then. This freedom from sin and spiritual heart, mind, and emotional cleansing only occurs when we humble ourselves, allow the light of YHVH’s truth (v. 6) to shine into deep and dark areas of our lives, and to expose the sin that lies therein (v. 3b). 

This process all starts when we allow YHVH to break open the fallow ground of our hard, stoney and sinful hearts (v. 17). When this happens, the good seed of his Word can fall onto the fertile soil of our lives like rain on parched ground resulting in a rich harvest (Matt 13:23) of spiritual fruit (Gal 5:22–25). So repent of sin!

 

The Ability to Repent—A Gift from Elohim?

2 Timothy 2:25–26, Grant them repentance.This verse indicates that sinful humans can’t even repent of sin properly on their own strength. Repentance is a gift that YHVH grants to those who have a heart for it—that they will come to their senses and turn from falling prey to the snares of the devil that have bound them in sin. Moreover, verse 25 indicates that YHVH may or may not grant people this gift. 

Elsewhere we read that YHVH is not willing that anyone should perish, but desires that all men everywhere come to repentance (Acts 17:30; 2 Pet 3:9). From these scriptures, we may conclude that whether YHVH grants the gift of repentance or not depends on whether a person is sick enough of his sin to cry out to YHVH for help in desperation for deliverance. 

This gift of repentance can occur at the beginning of one’s spiritual walk as they are coming to faith, or later down the road when one is repenting of reoccurring sin that, in their own strength, they feel powerless to overcome. 

This gift comes as a result of trusting YHVH completely and not relying on one’s own strength to overcome sin. Faith in Elohim and humility on the part of the sinner is the key that unlocks access to the gift of repentance.

 

Sin begets more sin and the saints’ response…

In this account of Korah and his rebellion against YHVH’s appointed authority figures, we see a progression of sin leading to more sin, followed by YHVH’s separation of sinners and saints, followed by divine judgment against the sinner concurrent with the intercession righteous on behalf of the wicked sinners. Perhaps this passage of Scripture will prove instructive on how Elohim deals with unrepentant sinners and what the response of the righteous should be in light of this.

Numbers 16:1–3, Took men…rose up…gathered together against. Notice a progression (or downward spiral) of actions on the part of Korah and his rebels. They separated themselves from fellowship, rose up against Moses, gathered together others of like mindand falsely accused leadership of wrong doings. This is the world’s formula for achieving political (humanistic) power and domination. It is the opposite method of advancing in YHVH’s kingdom where the way down is the way up; that is, when one lays one’s life down in service, spiritual reward, advancement and blessing will occur for that person (Matt 20:27; 23:10).

Rebels, like Korah, tend to separate themselves from fellowship, seek out other like-minded rebels, and then rise up in defiance and accusation against godly leadership. Again, this leads to political power. The way of spiritual power is laid out in Acts 2:42–47 where the followers of Yeshua continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, in fellowship, breaking bread together, in prayer and sharing their goods with one another. The result was real spiritual power authority and anointing from heaven, and not power based on usurpation, human pride, degradation of others and self-promotion. This can only happen as people forsake not the assembling of themselves together (Heb 10:25), function according to the place and spiritual calling within the spiritual body of Yeshua submitted one to another as they walk in the spiritual light YHVH’s instructions in righteousness—the Torah.

Additionally, Yeshua taught that true power in the kingdom of Elohim is a result of one laying one’s life down for his brother and serving him in love and humility. Such a person will be elevated to a position of influence and authority because he has learned to serve others in love and selflessness rather than seeking to be served, which stems from a heart of selfishness and pride (Matt 20:25–28; 23:11–12).

Continue reading
 

Spiritual Nuggets From James 5

James 5:7, 8, 10, 11. The Lord. This passage is another proof of the deity of Yeshua, for here, amazingly, James who is believed to be the biological half brother of Yeshua, equates Yeshua with YHVH of the Tanakh (Jas 5:7, 8, 10, 11). This is evident in his usage of the word “Lord” where he equates the Lord Yeshua (verses 8 and 10) with the LORD (or YHVH) of the Tanakh (verses 10 and 11).

James 5:7–9. The Lord is at hand. This scripture passage along with others by Paul, James and John clearly indicates that the apostolic writers when writing these passages (i.e. prior to AD 70, the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple) viewed the second coming of Yeshua as imminent, and was not far off in the future. (See also 1 Cor 15:52; 1 Thess 4:14–15; Rom 13:11; 16:20; cp. 1 John 2:18.) The imminence of Yeshua’s second coming may have been based on a misunderstanding of Yeshua’s own words in his Olivet Discourse where he talks about the events announcing his second coming falling on “this generation” (Matt 24:34, 36). From this passage in Matthew, it’s not readily understood to which generation he is referring—that one, or another off in the future, or both. It appears that the apostles applied his words to their generation.

James 5:16, Confess your faults/trespasses. Faults is the Greek word paraptoma means “to fall beside or near something, a lapse or deviation from truth and uprightness, a sin, misdeed or a sin committed through ignorance or thoughtlessness.” This is in contrast to the Greek word hamartia, which is the generic word for sin and means “to miss the mark, to err, be mistaken, to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong, to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin, that which is done wrong, sin, an offence, a violation of the divine law in thought or in act, collectively, the complex or aggregate of sins committed either by a single person or by many.” In 1 John 3:4, the classic verse where sin is defined as lawlessness or Torahlessness, the apostle uses the word harmatia. Similarly, in Matt 18:15 where Yeshua instructs the saints on what to do “if your brother sins against you,” the word for sin is hamartano, the root word for harmatia. Paraptoma seems to indicate a less egregious sin than harmatia. If so, the verse in Song 2:15 comes to mind, “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.” It is often seemingly the “little sins and offenses” that more often damage relationships between the saints, rather than the major sins. These need to be dealt with on an on-going basis by keeping short accounts between brethren by regularly confessing your sins one to another as James suggests in this verse. Not only will doing this smooth over the waters of troubled relationships, but it will help to still the unsettled waters within a person’s own conscience, inner man or personal spirit. In so doing, this will help to purify one’s spirit, thus unclogging or opening up the spiritual pathways or river of life, between the individual and Elohim resulting in the receiving of more answered prayers and divine revelation as well as greater overall all victories and fruitfulness in one’s spiritual life and ministry. Sins, offences and faults committed against brethren can hinder us in our spiritual walk and impede our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. (Matt 5:23–24)

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1 Pet 3:7)

 

Why Deleaven for the Feast of Unleavened Bread?

1 Corinthians 5:6, Purge out. The greater context of this passage is about putting sin out of our life (which is the temple of YHVH’s Holy Spirit, 1 Cor 3:16–17), which collectively form the spiritual body, church or the greater temple of Yeshua’s spiritual body (John 2:21). Therefore, sin that defiles the temple of Elohim must be put out of the church. In this letter to the Corinthians, Paul is especially concerned about the sin of sexual immorality that the church in Coringh had allowed to come into its midsts (1 Cor 5:1ff). From the context of this passage in light of Paul’s discussion about Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, it would appear that he wrote this letter just prior to the spring festivals (1 Cor 5:6–8). He is urging the church to remove the leavening of sin from its midsts prior to keeping the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which he, by the way, urges the Corinthian believers to do. In fact, Paul’s admonition to “keep the Feast [of Unleavened Bread]” in verse eight, is the strongest imperative command in the Testimony of Yeshua (or NT) to keep the biblical festivals, and from this it’s evidence that in the mind of the apostle the biblical festivals were still relevant to Yeshua’s followers well past the middle of the first century, which means they’re relevant to the saints of today as well.

In his admonition to the Corinthian believers, it’s possible that Paul had in mind two examples in the Tanakh where spiritual revivals occurred after Hezekiah and Josiah cleansed the temple in Jerusalem of the filth of idolatry in preparation for Passover. Similarly, Ezra finished completion of the rebuilt temple in time to celebrate Passover (Ezra 6). These examples teach us that YHVH commands us to cleanse or deleaven our spiritual temples (individually and collectively) of sin annually in preparation for celebrating Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This spiritual spring house cleaning at the beginning of the biblical new year sets the tone spiritually for the rest of the year to go forward in a sin-free state. 

1 Corinthians 5:8, Leaven. What specifically is leavening? Leavening is primarily yeast that makes bread rise and, biblically, it  is the symbol for the sin of pride. Leavening is also a symbol of decay. The rising of bread dough is only possible by the natural process of decay. In ancient times, a pinch of fermented or sour dough was Continue reading


 

How to Stop the Spread of Communicable Physical and Spiritual Diseases

Leviticus 13:4, 5, 11, etc., Isolate him. The laws of quarantine are not merely for ritualistic and ceremonial purposes, which are now obsolete having passed away with the Levitical and sacrificial systems. Were people to follow these laws to this day and quarantine themselves when sick, colds, flus viruses and other infectious diseases would not be as rampant as they are. Thousands of years before modern medical science discovered the importance of cleanliness and the communicable nature of many diseases, the YHVH’s Torah prescribed measures to prevent the spread of such diseases.

Leviticus 13:43, 6, 10, 11, 15, 17, 19, 21, 22 etc. The priest shall examine. As it was the duty of the priests of old to keep the camp of Israel free of disease, so it is now the duty of the ministry to keep the infectious disease of sin outside church and to determine who is clean and unclean; who should be quarantined or put out of the camp and when to let them back in. (See Rom 16:17–18; Tit 3:10; 2 Thess 3:6; 2 Tim 3:5; 1 Cor 5:5, 9–11.)

Leviticus 13:45, Cry, “Unclean, unclean.” A skin disease was like a red flag, which if a person had it was regarded as a judgment from Elohim for the sin of slander, gossip, murder with the mouth, false oaths and pride as well as sexual immorality, robbery and selfishness. That person was considered to be physically and spiritually contagious and so was put outside the camp of Israel until the disease was gone. According to Samson Hirsch, quarantine was a means of shocking the sinner into recognizing his moral shortcomings and his need to repent (The ArtScroll Chumash, p. 613).

What if each time we sinned with our mouth we were quickly struck with a visible sin disease for all to see resulting in our being quarantined and shunned? Perhaps the incidences of lashon hara (the evil tongue) would greatly diminish. If you received heaven’s judgment each time you misspoke, how would you change Continue reading


 

Leviticus 12–15 Explained and Made Relevant to YOU

Leviticus chapters 12 through 15  are some of the most distasteful and difficult to explain in the whole Bible, much less to relate to and to apply to our lives. After all, who wants to talk about diseases, disgusting molds and mildews, and bodily discharges? And who can relate to leprosy? Yuk!

Yet the Torah contains these subjects for a reason. Yes, sanitation, cleanliness and our physical good health is important to our Creator for obvious reasons, but lurking behind this distasteful and, at times, even revulsive subject is a much deeper issue: the disease of sin. When we view sin in terms of a contagious spiritual disease, suddenly we gain a new and deeper understanding of its destructive nature.

Even though the old adage, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is not in the Bible, it is a biblical truism. Our cleanliness at all levels, body, soul (mind, will and emotions) and spirit are vital to a right relationship with Elohim. He is holy or set-apart (i.e. from the pollution, filth and defilement of this world), and without holiness, no one can see Elohim (Heb 12:14). In essence, holiness is nothing more than spiritual cleanliness. This is the deeper meaning behind Leviticus chapters 12 through 15.

Please take the time to read these chapters in Leviticus, then return to this blog and read my commentary on them. The goal of this discussion is to attain a higher level of spiritual holiness and cleanliness resulting in a closer walk with YHVH Elohim, our Creator, resulting in restored relationships with our fellow man as well. How great is that?

Overview of Parshiot Tazria-Metzora (Lev 12–13 and 14–15)

Often these two parshiot (the plural of parashah meaning “Torah portion” in Hebrew) are combined in the yearly Torah reading cycle depending on how the biblical calendar falls for the year. Their combining is likely due to the fact that each is relatively short and deals with related subjects: namely, the ritual purity laws. 

As we shall see, the causes of ritual impurity involve sin issues. As a remedy to this problem, the Torah prescribes procedures that the afflicted person had to follow in order to be deemed cleansed and thus be readmitted into the camp of Israel after having been temporarily expelled because of ritual impurity. All the ritual cleansing laws prophetically pointed to Yeshua’s atoning death on the cross.

These two parshiot dealing with diseased and unclean persons immediately come after the laws concerning clean and unclean meats (Lev 11). What the Israelites ate as well as Continue reading