Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Goal for This "Blog": Every Halacha and Every Prayer (Interlinear and Transliterated)

There will be some updates to this blog in the not-so-distant future.  I'm compiling ALL the halachah translated in English and am partially done.  Should be able to keep it posted under a fair use exception to the copyright laws.  And after that I will compile all the (interlinear and transliterated) prayers found in the full siddur (weekdays and Shabbat).

Then I'll simply add 2 tabs on the main page, one that says "Halacha", one that says "Siddur."  

To be continued...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blowing the Shofar Atop the Blue Ridge Mountains

This past Sunday I finally spent some quality time with a Messianic man who really loves the shofar.  We met up early in the morning at a mall parking lot.  And then together we started the long drive to the mountains.

He likes to go up to the Blue Ridge once a year, to blow the shofar and pray.  He had invited me this year after a mutual friend had introduced us.  On the way there, he told me about why likes the Shofar.  It was apparently the sound of the shofar that jarred him out of his spiritual slumber and set him on a path to learning about the Messianic faith.  Long story short, up until a few months ago he was a pastor at a Christian church but now he wants to start a Messianic ministry, the symbol for which is going to be the shofar.

He's a very interesting man.  About 60 years old, African American, and extremely charismatic (in every sense of the word).  He meets all kinds of people because he's always visiting churches and asking for permission to the blow the shofar.  And then that naturally opens up all kinds of conversations.  In fact, we were on our way to meet up with some of those people.

As we approached the foothills of the Blue Ridge, we met up with a group of Latinos who spoke very little English.  They followed us the rest of way.  When we finally stopped at the first overlook, I noticed that they had their own shofars.

At one point, my Messianic friend spoke about the importance of sounding the shofar.  And he said one thing that I've been thinking about ever since.  He mentioned the shofar blowing in the story of Jericho and said something about how the walls of Jericho were a metaphor for dark spiritual forces.

So what exactly does the shofar do?  

Here's an interesting article I came across today that provides a wealth of information and Scripture references on the subject.  The answer to the above question might surprise you...


Monday, November 24, 2014

What About Animal Sacrifices? A Review of Chapter 3 of Tim Hegg's "Ten Persistent Questions" (Part 3)

In the previous, I was talking about how it was confusing for Hegg to say that even though the Old Covenant people used animal sacrifices, they were still saved in the same manner as the New Covenant people.

However, Hegg explains that the animal sacrifices removed sin on the basis of a promise to send the Messiah.  And so we can add to the growing list of functions of animal sacrifices:  promisory.

To recap, animal sacrifices were:

(1) Purificatory (in the temporal, not eternal sense);

(2) Revelatory in that they showed the need for an innocent version of Israel to take the punishment for all of Israel's sins;

(3) Promisory in that they remind both G-d and man of the New Covenant promises.

Beyond the Review:  Some Closing Thoughts About Atonement

Now Hegg's chapter on animal sacrifices was great for what it was--an attempt to address a common Christian attack on the relevance of G-d's law.  Hegg did not intend to write a systematic Messianic theory of atonement.  

But I've got three minutes before work so here's my nutshell view on the Messianic theory of atonement.  

Are you ready for this?  It's the same atonement theory as Christianity (for the most part).

Messianics and Christians agree that atonement is breaking down all the barriers that separate us from G-d so that we can have "at-one-ment" with G-d.  The barriers look like this:

  • belonging to a different master
  • possessing an evil inclination
  • bearing guilt as a transgressor of the Law
  • being a recipient of G-d's wrath

Full atonement then does something like this:

  • purchase
  • purify
  • pardon
  • please

So then the animal sacrifices don't really compete with Yeshua.  They offered (temporal) purification, revelation, and a promise.  They complement Yeshua's work!



Saturday, November 22, 2014

What About Animal Sacrifices? A Review of Chapter 3 of Tim Hegg's "Ten Persistent Questions" (Part 2)

The Heart of the Matter:  Animal Sacrifices Brought You Close...But Not Close Enough

In the last post, we had just begun to look at the apparent contradiction between the book of Hebrews and the Tanak, the former saying animal sacrifices do not take away sin, the latter indicating that they do take away sin.

How does Hegg resolve this?

He makes a distinction between temporal and eternal atonement.  For the idea of temporal atonement, he cites to Hebrews:
"For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?," (Heb 9:13-14).
Animal sacrifices never really changed the heart of a person and so they could never take away sins.  In order for sins to be taken away, something would have to be done about the heart.  Yet, even though animal sacrifices didn't change the heart, they did sanctify "for the cleansing of the flesh..." and provided the temporal atonement necessary for people to participate in the Temple service.  Additionally, the sacrifices served to foreshadow that G-d would need to send an innocent representative for Israel who could bear the full punishment for all of Israel's sins.  Hegg summarizes:
"We have seen that animal sacrifices in the Tabernacle and Temple did have a valid function, namely, effecting ritual purity and thus allowing the person or object that had become ritually impure to return to an acceptable status for participation in worship at the Tabernacle or Temple.  In this sense, the animal sacrifices made atonement for the ritual impurities that separated a person from participation in the Tabernacle or Temple services.  We have also noted that the sacrifices offered divine revelation about how God would forgive sins eternally (the innocent One paying the penalty for the guilty sinner), and how a person's heart or conscience could be cleansed from the guilt of sin.  We have seen the distinction between temporal and eternal atonement, the former dealing with the earthly Tabernacle or Temple, and the latter having to do with God's declaration of a sinner as eternally and completely forgiven on the basis of Yeshua's sacrifice for sins," (pgs. 32-33 of "Ten Persistent Questions").
So really the book of Hebrews parallels Jeremiah 31:31-34 in showing the insufficiency of the animal sacrifice system.  Jeremiah, by saying there will be a new covenant in which G-d remembers sins no more, implies that under the old covenant G-d does in fact remember sins.  Thus, animal sacrifices were always insufficient to take away sins.

But then how can Hegg say the following:
"...the manner of salvation...was the same for David as it was for the [audience of the book of Romans]"
Well, actually I was confused by that statement.  But then I noticed, buried within the previous paragraph, Hegg stated:
"...[David] understood that God had actually removed his sin on the basis of His promise to send the Messiah as the sin bearer..."
So perhaps Hegg is suggesting that the animal sacrifices served yet another purpose (in addition to the purificatory and revelatory)....

Stay tuned for Part 3...

Friday, November 21, 2014

What About Animal Sacrifices? A Review of Chapter 3 of Tim Hegg's "Ten Persistent Questions" (Part 1)

"Let's face it.  For nearly two thousand years, the Law has been given a bad reputation by the Christian Church.  Not entirely, of course, but most modern day Christians, when asked about 'the Law,' will tend to respond in negative or semi-negative terms.  It is no wonder, then, that when believers in Yeshua begin to observe and appreciate Torah commandments such as keeping the Sabbath or eating kosher foods, many of their Christian friends are shocked and concerned, 'Why would anyone want to put themselves under the restrictions and regulations of a Law from which Jesus freed us?!'  It isn't long until the shock and concern fuels confrontation.  Sometimes this confrontation is sincere and meaningful.  After all, if a brother or sister really thinks that someone who is keeping the Sabbath and eating kosher foods has been deceived by the 'doctrines of demons,' they have a great motivation to rescue that poor soul from the slippery slope of legalism.
     Sometimes such confrontation, when it is sincere, comes with proof texts to show the person how deceived they really are, with the genuine hope that they will 'see the light.'  Occasionally, however, the confrontation begins by pointing out just how ridiculous observing the 'old Law' really is:  'So, where do you plan to sacrifice your first lamb?  In your backyard?'  (often accompanied by a couple of nervous chuckles).  They are quite sure that this question is the coup de gras that will halt this 'Torah nonsense' and get the person back on track.
     What throws the whole conversation into a tizzy is when the Torah-loving believer calmly says:  'Well, we obviously can't offer sacrifices when there is no Temple and no established priesthood.  But if there were a TEmple and priesthood, I'd be ready and willing to bring my sacrifice as God commands.'
     After the initial shock wears off, the stunned Christian usually retorts with something like this:  'Jesus made the final sacrifice.  We no longer need sacrifices, and anyone who would think we do just doesn't appreciate the finished work of Christ!'  This response is based upon a number of faulty assumptions:  1) that animal sacrifices were actually received by God as full payment for one's transgressions; 2) that forgiveness of sins before Yeshua came was through offering sacrifices, but that after He came, forgiveness of sins was by faith in Yeshua and sins were forgiven on the basis of His death; and 3) that to even consider offering an animal sacrifice after Yeshua died on the cross would be an affront to His finished work of paying for sins through His own death," pg. 25 of Ten Persistent Questions by Tim Hegg

Because I'm a Messianic who visits church fairly regularly (it's a testament to my self-control and maturity that they haven't kicked me out yet!), I can attest that Hegg's opening "confrontation" portrays the typical Christian attitude toward Messianic beliefs.

But we love Christians because, as Messianics, most of us used to be Christian.  So the question for us Messianics is:  how do we address the Christians concerns and explain our interpretation of the purpose/meaning of the "Old Testament" sacrificial system?

Did Animal Sacrifice Save People Before Yeshua's Atonement?

Tim Hegg points out an apparent contradiction between the book of Hebrews and various passages in the Tanak that deal with animal sacrifice.  On the one hand, the Hebrews author states:

"1 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins," (Hebrew 10:1-4)

Yet the Tanak seems to same that such sacrifice did in fact take away sins.  It is written:

"Thus the priest shall make atonement for him in regard to his sin and he will be forgiven" (Etc)

Now, this seems like an insurmountable contradiction.  But the reality is that everything in the earthly realm is merely a poor reflection of things occurring in the spiritual realm.  The Tabernacle and Temple were not the centers of reality but rather gateways to a much deeper reality.  Likewise, the sacrifices were merely an earthly representation of the spiritual mechanism by which sins were truly forgiven.

So what was the spiritual mechanism of forgiveness?  It was always G-d's grace that offers forgiveness for sins and was never truly the blood of sacrificial animals.  Blood represents the kinship, the closeness, required for there to be true forgiveness.  However, the true blood by which we are united in kinship with our Heavenly Father is the blood offered by Yeshua.  (Yet even "blood" is but another illustration of a much deeper spiritual reality).


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Free Audio Teachings on Tim Hegg's "Ten Persistent Questions"

Disclaimer:  I haven't listened to these yet.  Just noticed them online.


"Ten Persistent Questions" Book Just Arrived...

So it just came in the mail--Ten Persistent Questions by Tim Hegg.  There's a lot in this book.  I'll try to do a complete review of each section...  Stay tuned...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Islamists Slaughter 5 Praying Jews, Obama Says "Too Many Palestinians Have Died"

Three of the victims killed on Tuesday were American citizens.  And yet our President will do nothing but talk about how many Palestinians have died and says that Palestinians and Israelis should work together to "lower tensions."


Well, I'm going to stop for now because I can't even see through my tears.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Dear Sam Nadler: Please Stop Calling Yourself Messianic

Dear Sam Nadler,

I was in a bookstore recently and noticed your book entitled "Messiah in the Feasts of Israel."  The book identifies you as Messianic.  And so I purchased the book thinking I was purchasing Messianic teaching on the Feasts of Israel.  Let me emphasize this point:  I wasn't looking for Christian teaching on the Feasts of Israel; I was specifically looking for Messianic teaching.

But now I realize I wasted $6.50 because you are not Messianic at all but rather Christian in both belief and affiliation.


Your teaching matches Christian teaching exactly in that you teach Yeshua abolished the Law.  I noticed an example of this in the very first chapter of your book in which you claim that Yeshua “fulfilled” the commandment of Shabbat which you go on to explain is why this commandment is not reiterated in the New Covenant (in your opinion). You even praise the “flexibility” of Bishop Ambrose who famously rejected the commandment of Shabbat “when in Rome.” 


So then I discovered from online research that, as a member of AMC, you believe the following:

"The Believer and the Law of Moses...We believe the Law of Moses as a rule of life has been fulfilled in the Messiah and therefore believers are no longer under its' obligation or condemnation. While the Law of Moses is no longer obligatory for believers, the Law has much to teach us regarding a joyfully Jewish way of life. Both Jewish and non-Jewish believers have the freedom in Messiah to maintain any aspects of the Law of Moses which do not violate the entirety of the rest of scripture.(Acts 21:24-26; Romans 6:14;8:2;10:4;14:1-23; 1 Corinthians 9:20; 2 Corinthians 3:1- 11; Galatians 3:3,3:10-13;6:2; Ephesians 2:14 )," from

Now, I’m sure you’re a nice guy and not trying to be intentionally deceptive.  But ask yourself this:  “Is my teaching any different than Christian teaching?”  If you want to be truthful, acknowledge the fact that “Christian” is the correct and precise term to describe your teaching.  You don’t need any other term. 

So please stop calling yourself Messianic.


For the record, a Messianic is a Yeshua-follower who believes the Mosaic Law is still in force.



Discussion Question: Is It Okay for a Messianic to Identify as a Christian? (And Vice Versa)

Hypothetical #1:

You're a Messianic (i.e. a Yeshua-follower who believes that Mosaic Law is still in force) visiting a church.  Someone asks "Are you a Christian?"  How should you respond? (Give your reasoning).

Hypothetical #2:

You're a Messianic visiting with your neighbors and they ask "Are you a Christian?"  How should you respond? (Give your reasoning).

Hypothetical #3:

You're a Christian (Jewish or otherwise) and you have a teaching ministry.  Is it okay to call yourself Messianic?

Blessing Israel in Word and Action (Re-Blogged from Kineti L'Tziyon)

This is a great way to bless Israel in a tangible way!


Sunday, November 16, 2014

"Loosed From This Bond on the Sabbath Day": Understanding the Slavery Metaphor in Luke 13 as it Relates to Shabbat

"10 Now He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a spirit of affliction for eighteen years. She was hunched over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, “Woman, you are freed from your sickness.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God. 14 But the ruler of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the people, “There are six days in which work ought to be done. Come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15 Then the Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger and lead it away to water it? 16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” 17 As he said these things, all his adversaries were put to shame, and all the people rejoiced at all the glorious things that were done by him," (Luke 13:10-17)

Why were Yeshua's adversaries put to shame?

To understand that, one needs to consider the context of Shabbat--specifically the metaphor of "slavery" in the Exodus story.

On one level, the Israelites were merely slaves to the Egyptians; but, on a deeper level, they were slaves to Satan in the form of all the idols of the Egyptians:

"Then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the midst of the land of Egypt.  But I wrought for my name's sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.  Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness.  And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them.  Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them," (Ezekiel 20:7-12)
Shabbat represents mankind's conversion--turning from being servants of Satanic idols to being servants of Adonai.

This symbolism is the same for both Jew and Gentile:

“And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be His servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant," (Isaiah 56:6)
And also:

"19 'Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God, 20 but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood. 21 For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues,'" (Acts 15:19-21)
As Gentiles, it's often confusing how we should interpret certain mitzvot given to ethnic descendants of Israel:
"You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day"
Here's my take:  both Jew and Gentile were set free from idolatrous bondage and should observe Shabbat accordingly.  Now, I realize there are many in Messianic circles that say Gentiles are merely "invited" to Shabbat.  But the Truth is this:  you can either take hold of Shabbat and serve G-d or stay behind in Egypt and serve Satan.