Teshuvah & the 10 Days of Awe

an article by Joel Allen

We are in the season known as Teshuvah. This occurs every year in the Hebrew month Elul and usually falls in the summer month of August. Teshuvah is a period of time between Elul 1 and Yom Kippur that is a traditional observance calling God’s people into repentance and returning back to the Father’s heart. Typically this season is called a 40 day journey of repentance and reflection on your life for the past year as you head toward Yom Kippur, which is also known as Yom Hadin or the “day of judgment.” Most scholars agree that the Messiah Yeshua is coming again in the fall season of Holy Days according to the Biblical calendar. So the timing of God’s people returning to Him in prayer, worship, and repentance right before His return I believe is quite remarkable and timely. Why wouldn’t you want to be a part of this very meaningful but traditional observance of the Jewish people?

teshuvah-cycleSo I wanted to share with you in this article some treasures that I have come to know about Teshuvah as I have been observing it for a while now and have been blessed, along with my family as a result. Also what I have found is that this season is not always exactly 40 days depending on the calendar but is mostly 39 days but is always referred to as 40 days according to the Rabbis. Sometimes we see this in scripture where a rounding of numbers takes place. For instance when Yeshua sent out the 70 disciples to preach the kingdom it was actually 72 according to many scholars, and some translations still translate it as 72 instead. Okay moving on…

You will notice in the chart I made above that Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets) falls within the days of Teshuvah. In fact, it falls on the first day of Tishrei or the seventh Hebrew month. Traditionally, this day is called in Judaism, Rosh Hashanah, which means the head of the year and is one of four New Years celebrated in Judaism. However, according to Leviticus 23 this Feast day is known as Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets or the Feast of Blowing. From Yom Teruah to Yom Kippur is 10 days and marks the final 10 days of Teshuvah. These 10 days are traditionally referred to as the “10 Days of Awe.” These are the most intense days of fasting, praying, and repenting leading up to the climax of return, which is Yom Kippur. This was a time that traditionally though t that YHVH would draw His ear close for the prayers of the repentant.

[Isa 55:6 ESV] 6 “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;

It was on Yom Kippur that the High Priest (Cohen HaGadol) would enter into the Holiest of Holies and sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant, as an atonement for the nation of Israel. This could only happen one time a year on Yom Kippur. Traditionally it has been taught that on Yom Teruah the Books of Remembrance before YHVH were opened and you were inscribed in the book if your deeds were righteous but you would not be inscribed if you did not repent of your wickedness. These 10 days of Awe were the time of Judgment with the books opened but once Yom Kippur closed at sunset the books were closed for another year. It was during Yom Kippur that men would traditionally tear their outer coats in an outward sign of repentance and mourning and place ashes on their heads. Some would beat their chests violently in a show of repentance and pain. It is the Prophet Joel that saw hypocrisy in what the religious men were doing as they were only doing the outward things to be seen of men while their hearts were still full of wickedness.

[Joe 2:12-13 ESV] 12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; 13 and rend your hearts and not your garments.Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.”

How do we know this is talking about Teshuvah and Yom Kippur? We can see that YHVH is called His people back to Him with weeping and fasting. We can also look at the Hebrew word for “return” used twice in these verses. It is the Hebrew word “shuv” (שׁוּב shuwb) which is Strong’s number H7725 and is the three letter verbal root for Teshuvah.

With Teshuvah the theme is always drawing near to God so that He will draw near to you. It is the step we make first. He doesn’t draw near to us but we draw near to Him first and then He comes running just like the Prodigal Son’s Father when he saw his wayward son return, coming just over the hilltop. The Prodigal Son’s Father never went to the pig pen pleading with his son while he was in his rebellion and sin. However, the moment the son realized his sin he made Teshuvah and the Father ran to him. Listen to the words of James as he talks about this season:

[Jas 4:6-10 ESV] 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Here is where it gets really interesting… Do you know what constellation is in the sky during Teshuvah? No I am not advocating the horoscope or star readings but I do believe that the stars, including the constellations were named by YHVH and He placed them and named them to tell a story…

[Psa 147:4 ESV] 4 He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.

The constellation clearly seen in the sky during Teshuvah is called Virgo, the Virgin Maiden. Also known in Hebrew as Betullah. Why am I bringing this up you may ask? The Month Elul is named so because of a Hebrew acronym which spells out:

[Sng 6:3 ESV] 3 “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine…” Which in Hebrew is Ani, L’dodi, V’dodi, Li

E- alef- Ani

L- Lamed- L’dodi

U- Vav- V’dodi

L- Lamed- Li

Jeremiah 31:21 … Return, O virgin Israel, return to these your cities.”

We can clearly see that the stars point to a Virgin Maiden during a season that God is calling for His Bride to shuv or return to Him. What’s even more remarkable is that the constellation that precedes Virgo is Leo, or the Lion of the Tribe of Judah!!! It is as if He is pursuing His bride in the sky during this season. And if that wasn’t enough, the next constellation is Libra, or the Scales of Judgment. Remember that the Bride is making Teshuvah and it ends on Yom Kippur, the Day of Judgment! Wow. Isn’t our God amazing to leave us so many witnesses to His sovereign ways and plan? I hope this season you will join us and the Jewish people making Teshuvah. I pray it will never be a show but a time of true repentance as we prepare for the Return of the King!


Fighting Like Cats & Dogs

An Article by Joel Allen


Ever since I can remember I have always been a part of a church to some degree. As a small child I grew up falling asleep on the pews at late night prayer meetings. I remember the sights and sounds of worship and prayers. As I grew older my family was a part of several different Christian churches. I have seen church splits, family feuds, and church politics at it’s very worst. About 8-9 years ago we left the Christian church to pursue the “messianic” way of studying and walking out the scriptures. I thought the politics and fighting and drama would finally end. Unfortunately, I was wrong. I was deeply disappointed to find that this issue existed in the Messianic circles as well. Clearly this was a human problem and not a denominational one. Everywhere I turned it seemed everyone was fighting like cats and dogs not loving their neighbors as themselves.

Cats_&_Dogs_film            I began to think recently about that popular idiom in our culture, “fighting like cats and dogs.” So immersed in our culture, this idiom became a popular movie, posing the dogs as the loyal protectors of mankind and the cats as the evil nemesis trying to take over the world. This silent battle went on without humans knowing what was going on for the most part but the movie certainly painted a great picture of the key differences between dogs and cats. Now my purpose in this article is not to take sides with one animal group over another or offend cat lovers or dog lovers. My family has had lots of pets ranging from horses to dogs and cats to even alpacas. I personally am a dog person although I do enjoy the antics of cats. However through the years I have noticed extreme differences between the species that probably spurred on the creation of the idiom, “fighting like cats and dogs.”

I also recently noticed that believers carry the same characteristics as cats and dogs and this could be the reason why there is so much turmoil in the body of Messiah at large. So let’s have a little fun and look at some key differences between dogs and cats and see how this effects the Body of Messiah. More importantly ask yourself which characteristic you may possess and pray about how this may be helping or hurting your brothers and sisters in Messiah.

  1. Dogs generally are more loyal than cats:

Let’s face it dogs are considered “man’s best friend” for a reason. They are loyal to their owners while cats by in large do not show the characteristics of loyalty. There are plenty of movies about dogs and their incredible loyalty and so many inspirational stories of dogs sticking by their owners even in extreme situations. When the going gets tough dogs will stay by their owners but the same cannot be said about cats (remember these are generalizations. I know there are always amazing exceptional stories out there). Which characteristic do you mostly possess? Be brutally honest. How many times have you played the cat role and maybe left a congregation or fellowship when the circumstances got rough. Do you run at the first sign of disagreement? In the Hebrew roots circles we have people fighting like cats and dogs about the right calendar, how to pronounce the name of the Lord (oops I said Lord), how and when to celebrate the Biblical Feasts, and so much more. At the first sign of trouble we tuck tail and run instead of remaining loyal to our leadership and/or families we convocate with. Loyalty in fellowships is few and far between these days. We have too many cats and not enough dogs, if you know what I mean. Okay moving on…

  1. Dogs will protect and defend their masters even to the point of death:

Other than a few Youtube videos showing cats attacking predators on behalf of small children, cats generally are not known for defending their masters. In fact, they are built and wired to escape quickly and silently. Dogs bark loud and make a lot of noise warning any potential predators to beware. This can sometimes be mistaken for being insensitive or that the dog is mean spirited especially to guests that haven’t gotten to know the dog yet. Congregations and fellowships need more dogs that will prefer one another and protect one another instead of silently disappearing when there is a sign of danger or disagreement.

  1. Dogs are trainable while cats remain resistant to learning new things:

Are you trainable? Can you receive correction? Dogs can receive training and correction while cats seem to refuse any sort of training whatsoever. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 12:1, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” Don’t be stupid (I didn’t say it the Bible did), be like a dog and receive training and correction and you will be knowledgeable and wise. Proverbs 15:32 “Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.” Especially in Messianic circles it seems there is a resistance to leadership especially pastors or shepherds. It’s a shame that pastors/shepherds are a gift to the congregation to bring correction and discipline yet they are replaced by conferences and teachers. We need teachers but we also need shepherds. Have you ever seen a cat shepherd a flock of sheep? But you have seen dogs that shepherd sheep and they do it quite well. Dogs love correction because they know the rewards that follow. Cats seek only the rewards.

  1. Dogs are pack oriented while cats are solitary animals:

Do you seek fellowship with others or are you a loner? Dogs are pack hunters and thrive in a pack or group environment while cats prefer to be alone. Now I have to admit that I am someone that prefers to be in solitude but the Spirit of God within me provokes me to seek fellowship and some of the most powerful experiences with God’s presence have been in group corporate worship. This is when the Body comes together and the Gifts and Callings of God start to work dynamically as the Spirit wills. Hebrews 10:25 ” Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Dogs will be at services as often as the doors are open because they are stronger together and they recognize it. Cats will resist fellowshipping probably making up crazy doctrine that supports being alone.

  1. Dogs are incredible for finding the lost and discerning danger:

Notice policeman and bomb squads use dogs and not cats to smell out missing persons or potential bomb threats. Airports even can use dogs to sniff out drugs but cats not so much. Dogs have been known to track missing people in mountains and forests for miles. It doesn’t matter if it is in a blizzard or monsoon, they are tenacious and unrelenting in their search for the lost. When was the last time you talked to a stranger about God? Do you turn your nose up like a cat and go in solitude or are you relentless like a dog in pursuit of a lost child? That dog doesn’t care if the lost person smells bad or pronounces the name of our Messiah differently, it will never stop until the master calls off the search. Can we say the same about us? Are we cats, too busy licking our own wounds or are we like dogs passionately in pursuit of the lost? A little fun fact for you; a police trained Doberman Pinscher was recorded tracking a thief over 100 miles across the Great Karroo in South Africa by scent alone. Wow talk about relentless!

  1. Dogs can be trained to help those in need

Have you ever heard of a “seeing eye cat?” Of course not! But you have heard of a “seeing eye dog” because dogs of various breeds are trained on a regular basis to help people with disabilities. Dogs act as a guide for the blind, an encourager for the depressed, ears for the deaf, an alert for various illnesses like seizure disorders. Dogs or I should say “working dogs” can be trained to retrieve items that someone with a disability may not be able to. Some working dogs can be trained to help those with walkers, wheelchairs, or crutches and can be used to bring balance for unsure walkers. Cats do not apply. I have never seen “working cats.” Are you like working dogs, helping those in need. Are you a guide for the blind or a help to bring balance to those that are struggling or do you have more catlike characteristics and would rather not get involved?

Here are some characteristics of cats that should bring the point home:

  1. Cats are finicky- It seems very difficult to please cats sometimes. Are you that way? Are you constantly picking out what is wrong instead of rolling up your sleeves and helping? If you are like a cat, no fellowship seems to fit you as you always seem to find fault in everyone and everything.
  2. Cats like attention & love only on their terms- Does this sound familiar? All of us want love and friendship but cats will only seek such things on their terms. Do you act the same way? Some of us only show love and friendship when we want something or when it is convenient. Proverbs 18:24 says “A man that hath friends must show himself friendly:” The Bible also says that “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Prov. 17:17) The Bible seems to uphold more of the dog-like characteristic of friendship and love.

In Conclusion:

It is obvious through this small overview of the difference between cats and dogs that we need a lot more dogs. We need believers that are loyal and protect their fellow brethren. We need believers that want to come together and fellowship, especially on the Sabbaths and Feasts. We need believers that are passionately relentless for reaching the lost and helping those in need. Why are we fighting like cats and dogs? The cats among us need to recognize their catlike traits and repent…except for the obvious trait of potty training faster than dogs. No seriously! I find it fascinating to know that domesticated cats more than likely came from Egypt about 4,000 years ago. In fact, ancient Egyptians worshiped cats not dogs. Isn’t it interesting that Israel was delivered from Egypt and the whole struggle through the wilderness was to get those catlike characteristics (Egypt) out of Israel. Even up to the Jordan, when Israel was faced with entering into the Land of Promise, the cat dominant traits came out. The relentless working dog would believe and heed the orders of the Master but the cats would rather nap in the wilderness for 40 years. Remember it was one person in particular that YHVH said had a different spirit in him. This one person possessed the right “dog-like” characteristics when all others (besides Joshua) would rather go back to cat worshiping Egypt! Have you guessed who it was yet? His name was Caleb. Do you know what the name means in Hebrew? Caleb is Strong’s Number H3612 and means, “Dog.”

[Num 14:24 KJV] 24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.


Conviction or Commandment Part 2

an article by Joel Allen

[Mar 7:5-9 KJV]5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for]doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

Sometimes traditions can be beautiful and hold great significance and purpose to the believer but they are and NEVER will be commandment. Some traditions can be hurtful and even bring confusion such as those that are obviously Pagan and hold symbolic meaning to other gods. Christianizing or trying to take Pagan holidays and make them holy commanded observances is wrong. At best I believe that taking holidays like Christmas and Easter and making them about Jesus is no different than changing the lyrics to an old rock song to sing to God. Can some people find purpose and meaning in doing that sort of thing? Yes. I believe so. Many come to Christmas Eve services and Easter Sunday services and genuinely give their hearts to the Lord. That, however, does not make it God’s best for His covenant people. Just like that converted rock song that you used to sing about sex and drugs even though the lyrics may have been changed, it carries with it old memories and connections to things that are best left in the past. Some people feel very strongly convicted about keeping Christmas and Easter but remember that these are not God’s commandments. You can find even greater significance and purpose in God’s commanded feasts like Passover and Tabernacles. Unfortunately, these feasts are forgotten by most and replaced with Christian traditional holidays that are not commanded by YHVH. Now this is not an article about feasts so let’s forge on…

The question you have to ask yourself is what are the commandments of God and what do they say? Remember that the commandments of God are not grievous or burdensome:

[1Jo 5:3 KJV]3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

The moment we begin to add to the commandments and mixing in our personal convictions these commandments can become burdensome and a problem for people. The Torah was always meant to be simple so that the wood cutter and the theologian could both understand and keep His commandments. God made His Laws simple but some religious men have added and turned it into something quite different, making it frustrating for someone to try to walk this path.

[Deu 30:11-14 NLT]11 “This command I am giving you today is not too difficult for you to understand, and it is not beyond your reach. 12 It is not kept in heaven, so distant that you must ask, ‘Who will go up to heaven and bring it down so we can hear it and obey?’ 13 It is not kept beyond the sea, so far away that you must ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to bring it to us so we can hear it and obey?’ 14 No, the message is very close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart so that you can obey it.

For many in our western culture we are not taught the commandments of YHVH. Many actually believe that church doctrine and things created by the Catholic church are commandments from God Himself and they are surprised when they realize that they are not. Just like Deuteronomy 30 God’s commandments are meant to be simple so you should not have to go to a priest, pastor or rabbi to know what they are (I am not saying that these teachers are bad either). You simply open your bible and read it for yourself. Do your own research. Question everything. Set all tradition and conviction aside for a moment and just read God’s Word for what it plainly says. I had to do this when my wife and I started to question what the Sabbath day was all about. My head was full of convictions and traditions as I had grown up in the Christian church and that Sunday morning perspective was all that I had. Every time I would read a passage of scripture about the Sabbath day and it was very plain and simple yet my head argued against it with traditions of men. Which would prevail?

Sometimes convictions and personal judgments need to be made? There are times that the written word of God just doesn’t have a black and white answer to. In these cases I believe that through prayer and discernment you may find direction through the Holy Spirit who teaches us all things. Paul several times in his ministry had to make these judgments such as in 1 Corinthians:

[1Co 7:25 KJV]25 Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful.

Paul clearly stated that there wasn’t a black and white commandment from God so he gave his personal judgment on the matter, citing his relationship with the Lord as his foundation he rested on. Even in the days of Moses when the man was gathering sticks on the Sabbath day the people did not know what to do so they held the man and waited for God to speak a judgment in that moment:

[Num 15:32-34 ESV]32 While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day. 33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation. 34 They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him.

I believe that we should strive to keep God’s commandments as often and in as much reverence as we can. I also believe that YHVH gives us freedom within that obedience lifestyle to make judgments, and add personal convictions and traditions as long as it does not replace or negate His laws and ways. Some may say that tradition is adding to the commandments of God which is forbidden in the Torah. Is that really what it says?

[Deu 4:2 ESV]2 You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.

If we hold a strict interpretation to this then what is adding to God’s Word? Anything beyond the Torah or maybe anything beyond Deuteronomy 4? What about the rest of the Old Testament like Psalms and the Prophets? Is that adding to the Word? What about the New Testament? It’s interesting that the same warning shows up in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation:

[Rev 22:18-19 ESV]18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

So what does adding to the Word mean? I personally believe that it is when we teach convictions or traditions as commandments. The moment we say that we are breaking God’s commandments by breaking the tradition of the church or elders then we are adding to the commandment. It seems like a subtle difference but the implications are very severe. For instance, if we get bent out of shape because someone doesn’t light candles on the Sabbath day and say the traditional blessings and we begin to chastise that person as if they are breaking a commandment we are in fact adding to God’s commandments. Why can’t we just be excited that that person is trying to keep and honor the Sabbath day? This is when the commandments get heavy. This is when they get confusing and impossible to keep. Let’s keep tradition as tradition and commandment as commandment. Let’ s remember that we are to prefer one another not pressure one another. That is the job of the Holy Spirit.

Conviction or Commandment Part 1

An article by Joel Allen

One of the biggest subjects I deal with as a Pastor is over the confusion of conviction or commandment. What do I mean by that you may ask? Well there are times that certain people feel really strongly about certain things, even things concerning faith and their interpretation of the Bible. For example; Someone may feel strongly that television should not be allowed in the home, due to rank commercials and shows that could portray violence, bad language, or sexual material. However another person may feel strongly that television is ok as long as safeguards are put in place to limit the exposure to the afore mentioned things. Who is right? Which of these people mentioned are breaking commandments of God? Is there a scripture in the Bible that states, “thou shalt not watch TV?” How do we make judgments about what we allow in our homes? Is this a conviction or a commandment of God?

Situations like these fall into a category I like to call convictions. There is nothing wrong with convictions. I have strong convictions for myself and my household as well. We as a family do not listen to secular or worldly music and in fact we only listen to Christian or Messianic Worship songs. Some other families we know do not have televisions in their home. Some do not allow internet access. Other common convictions I have encountered are:

  • How to keep the Sabbath day holy- Some people light candles and say blessings to open the Shabbat but some do not.
  • How to keep Feast Days- Aside from what the Bible plainly says about them, every family has different traditions and special things they like to do.
  • How to pray- Again besides some guidelines seen in the Bible we have no commandment as to how to pray only that we should pray.
  • How to worship God- We have some examples of worship and guidelines in the Bible but people worship God in different ways. Some like to dance, some play instruments, and yet there are so many ways to show your worship to God.
  • The use of doctors & medicine- Some people are on medications while others feel using doctors and medications are not the best course of action.
  • Being involved in politics & government- Some believe strongly that politics & government involvement is evil and we should not get involved while others feel just as strongly that it is our duty as believers to be active and vote and strive to better our communities.
  • Being involved in the military- Again strong feelings on both sides of the fence.

Whose right and whose wrong? Which opinion will God stand by? Well the fact of the matter is that it is these things that we fight about the most. The problem comes when one family has a strong conviction about something but another family may not and so a fight ensues throwing scriptures back and forth trying to sway the other family to their point of view. Sometimes good friends separate as a result of not agreeing about convictions. Should this be? If we can’t find the commandment in black and white should we be fighting and breaking off relationships? For instance is it really that important how you keep the Sabbath day holy or that you are actually trying to guard and cherish it?

Now that being said, commandment is commandment. Period. Keeping the Sabbath day holy and not profaning it, is not a conviction but a commandment. Commandment is something that we have to stand by no matter what. It is concrete and without compromise but convictions can change and that’s okay. I have had strong convictions about certain things and after a few years those convictions didn’t matter as much. Sin is the breaking of God’s commandments not breaking your personal convictions.

[1Jo 3:4 KJV] 4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

Our convictions may be good and beneficial to us but they are not the definition for sin so why do we treat people as though they are sinning when they don’t agree with your conviction? Our diet is another area of contention as there are convictions galore about what is kosher and what is not. Some people spend more time reading labels than reading God’s word; more time worrying about physical diet than spiritual welfare. Should we eat organic non-GMO foods only? What about the person who can’t afford organic non-GMO foods? Even though it may be a healthier choice doesn’t make it commandment! So all of the disgusted looks to make that less fortunate person who can’t afford that healthy choice leave that person feeling dirty and almost like they are displeasing God. Remember a dispute that Yeshua and His disciples had with the Pharisees about eating with unwashed hands. This was a strong conviction by them that they were passionate about but they crossed the line when they accused Yeshua and His disciples as sinning. This was crossing the line making their conviction into God’s commandments.

[Mar 7:5-9 KJV] 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

Let me make this very clear! I am not saying that tradition or even personal convictions are bad or evil. The problem comes when people, like the Scribes and Pharisees, begin treating their own traditions and convictions as “thus sayeth the Lord.” And worse yet you reject your fellow brother over this conviction while breaking the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. By this you are holding onto your conviction (even if it is a good habit or beneficial to you) while breaking God’s commandments. In Mark 7 the Greek word used for tradition is παράδοσις paradosis and this word is also used in Colossians 2:8

[Col 2:8 KJV] 8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Not only did Yeshua spend a large portion of His ministry disputing people over convictions but the Apostle Paul (Shaul) also spent a large part of his ministry as well. In Romans 14 we read about a dispute between groups of people fighting about whether it was God’s will for us to eat only vegetables or meat as well. It’s funny how this chapter is used quite often to say that Paul advocated the eating of any kinds of meats including that which the Bible commands as unclean. This is not an argument about eating clean or unclean meats but about vegetarian diets versus eating clean meats. This was a struggle over convictions and not commandments. Paul also addresses conviction issues over special holidays or days revered over another. Clearly, as we can see throughout the entirety of the scripture that Paul is not advocating that it doesn’t matter what day the Sabbath is. He is addressing convictions about other national holidays or cultural holidays. For instance in the United States we celebrate the 4th of July as Independence Day while others may not celebrate. Since it is only a national holiday it is not commandment to keep or not to keep. Israel has many days that fit this description and although we are grafted in to the commonwealth of Israel we are not obligated by God to celebrate special days like Yom Hashoah or Tu B’shevat, or the fast days mentioned in Zechariah 7:5-6.
• The fast of the fourth month- remembering the destruction of the wall in Jerusalem
• The fast of the fifth month- remembering the burning of the great temple in Jerusalem
• The fast of the seventh month- remembering the killing of Gedaliah that sent them into exile into the nations
• The fast of the tenth month- remembering the siege of Jerusalem

If you feel you want to celebrate these days, GREAT! But don’t make others feel like they are less holy or somehow breaking God’s commandments if they don’t share your enthusiasm. Listen to Paul’s arguments and frustration:

I am convinced that the reason YHVH made the Biblical Feasts shadows is that there is only an outline in a shadow and no detail. Think about it, have you ever seen details in a shadow? So we can’t judge one another as to the details but that we stay in that shadow outline. I believe this is what Paul the Apostle was getting at in Colossians:

[Col 2:16-17 KJV] 16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.

One thing is for sure though, we should be in the shadow of the Messiah. We should walk just as He walked by keeping the Sabbath day, the Feasts of the Lord, and keeping the Biblical diet. We also must remember that Yeshua is the substance and the details. In Him we breath and move and have our being. He is the Lord of the Sabbath . A large portion of His ministry on Earth was defending what He was doing on the Sabbath day and why He did not honor certain customs or convictions that the religious elite followed during that time. We have the same issues today and it consumes a large portion of the ministry time and effort. Ok I am going to have to close this article today so next week look out for the Part 2 of Conviction or Commandment. May YHVH’s wisdom guide you through these difficult subjects.

The Spirit of Adoption

 The Spirit of Adoption

Romans 8:14-17 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (15) For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. (16) The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: (17) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

In the letter to the believers in Rome, Shaul (Paul) explains the work of the Holy Spirit in confirming who you are in the Messiah. There were apparently Gentiles and those of the lost sheep of Israel among the Jewish believers that questioned whether they were a part of YHVH’s family or not. Shaul wanted to calm their fears and encourage them that there is a way that they could know without a shadow of a doubt that they were considered the Sons of God. It required walking in the Spirit and walking in the Truth / Law or Torah of God. How do we know this?

Starting with verse one in Romans chapter eight Shaul lays down the understanding that there are two natures or two opposing laws that are either drawing people toward the Messiah or away from him. Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Messiah Yeshua, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

  1. The Law of Sin and Death- This is described as the Flesh or to be carnally minded.
  2. The Law of the Spirit- This is the Law of YHVH or Torah written on our hearts. It is also referred to as the Law of God, walking in the Spirit or being in the Spirit.

Romans 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life (Torah written on our hearts) in Messiah Yeshua hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

Romans 8:3 “For the law (of sin and death) being powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and concerning sin, condemned sin (the law of sin and death) in the flesh:”

Romans 8:4 “That the righteousness of the law (Torah/Law of the Spirit) might be fulfilled (come to maturity or fullness) in us, who walk not after the flesh (the law of sin and death), but after the Spirit (Torah/Law of the Spirit).”

Romans 8:5 “For they that are after the flesh (the law of sin and death) do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit (Torah/Law of the Spirit).”

Romans 8:6 “For to be carnally minded (lawlessness) is death; but to be spiritually minded (living Torah) is life and peace.”

Romans 8:7 “Because the carnal mind (lawlessness) is enmity (war/rebelliousness) against God: for it is not subject to the law of God (Torah/Law of the Spirit), neither indeed can be.”

Now having laid this foundational truth, Shaul explains that they were adopted by YHVH into His family and therefore they need not worry about living in slavery and fear because of their lawless deeds of the past. The chain of sinful or lawless living (1 John 3:4) that produces death has been broken because of the Spirit of Adoption.

Romans 8:15 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage (sin and death) again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”

What is this Spirit of Adoption? When a child is adopted by a father the adoptive parents go through legal channels to get the child “legally adopted” or the act of becoming a true member of the adoptive parents’ family. When the child is received into the family they receive all of the love and benefits of the natural born children but they also are expected to keep the “rules of the house” as well. For example; if they had a bedtime curfew of 11:00pm with their other family and the new adoptive family had a bedtime curfew of 9:00pm then does that adopted child keep the old curfew or will they be expected to follow the new curfew along with the natural born children? Of course, the adopted child would have to keep all of the rules of their new household or they would be considered a rebellious child and punished. It is also notable that the natural parents of the child would have to release their rights to have custody or legal ownership over the child before the adoptive parents could even claim the child legally as their own. Yeshua the Messiah came in sinful flesh and put to death this enmity toward the Father that all flesh has by nature because of the sin of Adam. Through his sacrifice the legal ownership of the Law of sin and death (our former Father) has been broken so that our NEW Father can legally adopt us into His family (the Commonwealth of Israel).

Ephesians 2:11-12 “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; (12) That at that time ye were without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:

Gentiles were, by Shaul’s admission, strangers and aliens to the covenants and promises of YHVH. These are those that are under the Law of sin and death and without the Spirit of adoption who will not be a part of the “household of God” unless they repent and turn toward the Messiah and live under his rules of the house.

Ephesians 2:18-19 “For through him we both have access by one Spirit (the Spirit of adoption) unto the Father. (19) Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners (under the law of sin and death), but fellow citizens with the saints (commonwealth of Israel), and of the household of God;”

It is very shocking to hear New Covenant believers in the Messiah today that they are a part of his family BUT they do not regard his people (Israel) or the “rules of the household” (Torah/ Law of YHVH). There were examples for us even in the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) where those of other nations (Gentiles) were coming into the faith of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. YHVH made it very clear that these sojourners and strangers were to be treated and subject to the same laws that they were living by. He did not have a separate law for the stranger or a separate set of expectations. Read for yourself:

Exodus 12:49One law shall be to him that is homeborn (Israel), and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you (Gentiles/ Goyim/nations).”

Leviticus 24:22 “Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger (Gentiles/ Goyim/nations), as for one of your own country (Israel): for I am YHVH your Elohim (God/authority).”

Numbers 15:16One law and one manner shall be for you (Israel), and for the stranger that sojourneth with you (Gentiles/ Goyim/nations).”

It is very clear that YHVH wants a united house with one Father, one king, one house, one people, living under one law. You do not want to be a disobedient son/child who has rejected the loving instructions of a father presuming that your end will still be blessed and secured by the Father. This is a false presumption that will cause great anguish and loss in the Kingdom of our Messiah for those that rebel against the “rules of the household of God.”

Matt. 7:22-23 “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (lawlessness).” They professed to be His children but His instructions or laws were not kept and the judgment that He gives is that of a father who brings his wayward son to the gates of the elders and pronounces that his child is rebellious.

Deut. 21:18-21 “If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father (Torah), or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: (19) Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; (20) And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. (21) And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones (tablets of stone/Torah), that he die: so shalt thou put (burn or consume with fire) evil away (burn or consume with fire) from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” This is the same language used by the Messiah when speaking of the rebellious children that claim to have been a part of His household, eating and drinking with Him. The passage in Deuteronomy calls the rebellious son a glutton and a drunk, but the parallel passage of Matthew 7:22-23 speaks of it as eating and drinking…

Luke 13:26-27 “Then shall ye begin to say, we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. (27) But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity (lawlessness/rebellious children).”

Shaul speaks of adoption and being grafted in describing the same process and uses these analogies to describe the relationship between Unbelieving Israel, Believing Israel and Gentiles (those of other nations) coming into the faith.

Romans 11:16 “For if the first fruit (Messiah) be holy, the lump is also holy (Believing Israel): and if the root (Believing Israel) be holy, so are the branches (Believing Gentiles).”

Romans 11:17 “And if some of the branches be broken off (Unbelieving Israel), and thou, being a wild olive tree (Believing Gentiles), wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root (Believing Israel) and fatness (Messiah) of the olive tree;”

It is shocking to me when I hear that New Covenant believers and those that claim to be believers in the Messiah will agree that they are adopted but they refuse to submit to the rules of the household of God. The real interesting fact is that the only real evidence you have as to whether you are adopted or not is the Law. It is the Law that shows that you are “legally adopted” and nothing else. If you are adopted in the United States the only thing that shows that you belong to a different family is a legal document stating that you are now part of a new family. Isn’t that exciting?! Instead of fighting against the Torah/Law New Covenant believers should be celebrating the Torah because it is the legal document that says you are adopted into the family of God. We can see this taking place with Jacob when he adopts Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph and an Egyptian mother (not legal in the State of Israel today as being “Jewish”). You can clearly see that they are not only adopted into Jacob’s (Israel’s) family but they are treated or looked at as Ruben and Simeon! Ruben and Simeon were the first born! So what Jacob is declaring is that this adoption makes the adopted sons equal to the natural born sons. It is not replacement theology or replacing the natural born sons because we read about their blessings later on and that they are shamed but still part of the family.

[Gen 48:5 KJV]5 And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, [are] mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.

You could take a blood test but it wouldn’t show if you were a part of your new family. An adopted son will not have the same DNA however that is not the deciding factor in the court of law…only the legal document that says you are adopted matters! Gentiles and those lost tribes of Israel may not be able to take a blood test to prove their lineage. You must hold onto the Torah written on our hearts which is the Spirit of adoption. That is the only evidence we have as to the validity of our adoption into the family of God.

[Gal 4:4-7 KJV]4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

[2Ti 2:19 KJV]19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity(lawlessness).