Judaizing

Chapter 6, ‘Whole Bible Christianity’

The word ‘Judaizing’ has been wrongly used to describe a person who wants to follow all of God’s Word, including the Law. It implies that following the Law is a Jewish thing, and that Jewish things are bad (which isn’t necessarily true). Judaizing just means ‘to live like a Jew.’

14But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? (Galatians 2:14 NASB95, underline added)

To live like a Jew is to adopt Jewish customs. These are mostly added on to the Law, and are spelled out in the oral law (Talmud). Judaism doesn’t have much in common with the Bible. It elevates tradition and rabbi’s rulings over the Torah. Jesus (John 7:19) Stephen (Acts 7:53) and Paul (Galatians 6:13) say that Jews do not follow the Law. There are also places like 2 Kings 17 that describe ‘living like a Jew’ as a lot different than following Torah. Through Judaism prophets of God are killed, and the kingdom of heaven suffers violence (Matthew 11:12).

Israel (as a group) has only truly followed Torah a few brief times in their history. All sorts of tradition and interpretation were added at various times that took them far away from His Word. That’s why God got on their case so much. He managed to beat disobedience back on occasion with a prophet or a king like Josiah. For certain people Jesus managed to reduce the influence too. Torah is mixed in with Judaism, but Judaism is not solely a practice of Torah.

13Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, 14Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.” (Isaiah 29:13-14 NASB95)

A whole Bible Christian strives for a balance between blindly embracing all of Jewish tradition bound up in Judaism, and rejecting anything and everything Jewish. Living the Law is different and better than living like a Jew.

Works of Law

Chapter 6 – Whole Bible Objections, ‘Whole Bible Christianity’

Still another excuse some use to ignore the Law is the claim that “works of the Law” are bad. A section of this group even goes so far as to say actions done without “feeling like we are led by the Spirit” are “works of the Law.” They discourage any activity if it isn’t “felt” – the church version of “if it feels good, do it.” If they do something, such as work in a soup kitchen, without “feeling” it, then it must be a “work of the flesh” or by association one of those terrible “works of the Law.” So they avoid doing what God plainly commands because they don’t “feel led.” Feelings become king, and simple obedience to the whole of the Word is reduced to a sin.

On the surface it does look like parts of the Bible teach that works of the Law are not “from the Spirit,” that they don’t belong in a believer’s walk, and should be avoided. The NASB (and others) translates words from Paul in Romans 3, Galatians 2 and Galatians 3 as ‘works of the Law’ (capital L and with the added definite article ‘the’). Paul is made to look very negative about “works of the Law” at first glance.

Yet the translation is not correct according to the Greek. It also doesn’t stand up to a balanced scrutiny from the whole of the Word. The word ‘Law’ in those references should be lowercase and without the article, as in, ‘works of law.’ ‘Works of the Law’ is an attempt to limit works to the Mosaic Law. It castes obedience as wrong. The more accurate statement, ‘works of law,’ includes any legal relationship, any ‘work of the flesh,’ or any try at trading merit for grace. It includes the Law but isn’t limited to The Law. ‘Works of law’ isn’t the same as the anti-Law statement ‘works of the Law.’

‘Works of law’ describes a legal relationship. A legal relationship is where I do things that I get paid for, and I only do them if I get paid. This was the basis of the Satan’s accusation against Job. He said that Job only worshiped God because he got paid (Job 1:9-11). He thought that if God took away the pay or the “hedge” (God’s protection) that Job would falter.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego weren’t interested in pay for following God’s Word (Daniel 3). They were threatened with death by furnace, but even if God wouldn’t ‘pay off’ with a rescue they were still going to stick with Him.
17 “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. 18 “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”(Daniel 3:17-18 NASB95)

Thorough Investigation

From chapter 9 of ‘Whole Bible Christianity’

Our ninth guideline is where quite a few people falter in spectacular fashion. We jump to a conclusion based on what little we see. Or we react by our own set of laws instead of God’s. This is such a common occurrence now, especially in the church. It is easy to lose sight of the fact that it is a standard part of God’s Word to make a thorough investigation. After all, everyone should have a fair trial before the hanging!

14then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. If it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you, (Deuteronomy 13:14 NASB95)

18“The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, 19then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 19:18-19 NASB95)

I’m sure we’ve all experienced a rushed judgment directed at ourselves. We desperately wish that people would give us a chance to explain the circumstances. But they’ve already passed sentence and consigned you or me to the outer darkness for all they care. Sometimes there’s another agenda, such as someone just wanting to get rid of you or smear your reputation. This is another reason people don’t want to have an objective standard around. The standard makes it harder to railroad people.

If I am on the receiving end of this, there’s not much I can do except heave a large sigh of regret and move on. Actually, I’m quite practiced at this by now, because it seems very few people care to investigate thoroughly. But it really frustrates when people are judging you on their own personal criteria not connected with the Word.

A thorough investigation is when facts are gathered, witnesses come forward and we evaluate their testimony. We compare the facts to the Word in order to render an impartial and just verdict. At least, this is what’s supposed to happen. You and I both know how very rare this is in most congregations today.
Our God is a just god, and He expects His people to pursue justice too. But influence pedaling is a major past time. Pastors or rabbis are untouchable. Money is king with a lot of people. Real justice is scarce. Many want to commit the Law to the rubbish heap so they can pursue their agendas unburdened by accountability or humility.

And don’t try to sell me the lame concept that justice and love are separate. People try this all the time. You’ve heard it said (now where have I heard that statement before?) that we should exercise ‘justice in love.’ This is true, except that the two are not separate. Justice is love; love without justice isn’t love.

If we use the Word properly, we are doing both. The reason Jesus had to die is because justice and love both had to be satisfied. One could not be exercised by God without the other. It was a very difficult puzzle for God – how to justify sinners without merely ‘overlooking’ sin. The resolution of this puzzle was the death and resurrection of God in human form. There is such a thing as being too harsh. But that is condemnation, not justice. We condemn when we try to practice justice outside of God’s Word.

Rapture and Resurrection

Something from the other book we’re working on, ‘Whole Bible Prophecy,’ with some personal thoughts.

Trusting God. A while ago I converted from popular Christian fantasy of a rapture to the biblical reality that believers are going through the Tribulation. I’m a reformed dispensationalist. At first the realization is a terrifying prospect, like the second term of an Obama presidency. We know there’s a lot of bad stuff going to happen. We know the destruction will be worldwide. The prospect is enough to make a young person’s hair turn grey, and turn an old person’s bones to jelly. There’s a temptation to fling everything down and run for the hills. But we have God, we have His Son, and we have His Word.

We do not need to fear the conspiracies of men. The worst of them are but a vapor on the timeline of eternity. Men and their plans die. God’s eternal life is forever. I place myself in His care, trusting that He will guide and protect. His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. My job is to trust and continue to work His Word, every part, into my life.

The undeniable fact is that the rapture will take place after the resurrection. There is not much Scripture on the rapture, but there is a great deal on the resurrection. For the righteous dead in Christ the resurrection will take place at the end of the Tribulation. The wicked are resurrected at the end of the 1,000 year kingdom. There are hints in the Word that believers will be protected through the “time of trouble.”

Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the LORD. (Zephaniah 2:3, ESV)

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead. Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by. For behold, the LORD is coming out from his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, and the earth will disclose the blood shed on it, and will no more cover its slain. (Isaiah 26:19–21, ESV)

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:4–5, ESV)

The point is, whatever is going to happen, we have to trust God. We have to trust God in order to be able to hear Him when He tells us where to go and what to do. We refine our hearing now by doing all of His Word all of the time.

Verses for Today

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.

The Reign of the Lord’s Anointed.
Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 3 “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” 4 He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. 5 Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, 6 “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” 7 “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. 8 ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. 9 ‘You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’” 10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. 11Worship the Lord with reverence And rejoice with trembling. 12Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!

Morning Prayer of Trust in God. A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.
3 O Lord, how my adversaries have increased! Many are rising up against me. 2 Many are saying of my soul, “There is no deliverance for him in God.” Selah. 3 But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head. 4 I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah. 5 I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me. 6 I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people Who have set themselves against me round about. 7 Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God! For You have smitten all my enemies on the cheek; You have shattered the teeth of the wicked. 8 Salvation belongs to the Lord; Your blessing be upon Your people! Selah.

Evening Prayer of Trust in God.
For the choir director; on stringed instruments. A Psalm of David.
Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. 2 O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach? How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? Selah. 3 But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself; The Lord hears when I call to Him. 4 Tremble, and do not sin; Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. 5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And trust in the Lord. 6 Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?” Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord! 7 You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. 8 In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.

Psalms 1 – 4.

Always amazed at how I can pick up the Bible when I most need it, turn to whatever it is I intend to read – and it’s exactly what I need to hear this morning:).

Idolatry

Again from ‘Whole Bible Christianity’

Another name for sin is idolatry. In modern times, we think of it only as bowing down to a statue or other image. This is part of it, but there is much more to idolatry than statues. Read Jeremiah 3:1-10.

Idolatry is ‘cheating’ on God. We cheat Him when we give Him less than whole-hearted obedience. In public, we might claim to be loyal spouses and appear to do what God says. But when we ignore His Word it’s just like cheating on a spouse. Any thought or action that doesn’t match His Word is idolatry. Or adultery.

We might comfort ourselves that we are not idolaters because we don’t have a statue in the living room (let’s overlook the crucifix, Christmas tree, Easter eggs and bunnies for now). But idolatry is not limited to actual images. If we reject His ways and do our own, it is idolatry. Paul says that covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5). God says the Chaldeans worship their own might, and Jesus says that Mammon is a god.

11 Then they sweep by like the wind and go on, guilty men, whose own might is their god!” (Habakkuk 1:11 ESV)

13 No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13 ESV)

The statue in the center of disobedience is the self-image. A 3-D statue is really self-will personified. Idolatry comes from inside, from the heart. The statue just gives it a physical shape. Adam and Eve were booted out of paradise, not because they bowed to an image, but because they bowed to self-will and knowledge. Obedience is the same as worship. Their obedience to their own understanding was just the same as worshiping a statue of themselves.

Temple Not Destroyed

What about the Temple? From ‘Whole Bible Christianity’
For a while, the temple was where God lived, and was the ‘heart’ of the nation that He wanted to make into a light for all peoples. That didn’t work out like He wanted. The temple was torn down, the nation scattered. But wait. Was the temple really gone? Not according to the Word.

24For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; 25nor was it that He would offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood that is not his own. (Hebrews 9:24-25 NASB95)

It was a copy of the temple that was destroyed. See, the original temple is in heaven. When the tabernacle was built, it was exactly according to the original (Exodus 25:9, 40; Numbers 8:4; Acts 7:44; Hebrews 8:5). When the temples were built, they were also built according to the original specifications (at least Solomon’s; see 1 Chronicles 28:11-19). God’s temple in heaven is the pattern for the copies. It has never been in danger of being destroyed.

Many people think that because the temple copy was torn down (about 70 C. E.) the Law was eliminated. For instance, one writer has this to say.
“The old Mosaic economy of sacred priests, sacred buildings, sacred rituals, and sacred objects has been forever destroyed by the cross of Jesus Christ. In addition, it has been replaced by a nonhierarchical, nonritualistic, nonliturgical organism called the ekklesia (church).”

He speaks in ignorance, because the Temple is still in existence. It’s just in heaven, with Jesus as our High Priest. God’s holy instructions are still valid, as they have always been. He just moves them into our hearts, along with His Spirit. What is holy is still holy. What is not holy is still not holy.

The period we live in now is not the only time the earth has been without a temple. There was also a long period between the destruction of the first temple and the building of the second. From the Garden to the Tabernacle there was no temple either. In fact, time with a tabernacle or temple (about 1,500 years give or take a century or two) is a much shorter interval than time without it (about 4,500 years).

And guess what? Everyone born during all those different time slots, and indeed any time slot ever, temple or no temple, Jew or non-Jew, still had to live as God wanted them to live. Obedience to God is never based on the presence or absence of a temple.

Shadows and Small Things

Another selection from ‘Whole Bible Christianity’
Because a shadow is insubstantial, and Paul mentions that parts of the Law are a shadow, some conclude we don’t have to follow the Law.

16Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17 NASB95)

Trouble is, this conclusion is false. There are many uses of the word ‘shadow’ in the Word, but the shadows are real. For instance, in Matthew 4:16 people are said to be under the shadow of death, and death is very real. Isaiah speaks of another type of shadow.

16“I have put My words in your mouth and have covered you with the shadow of My hand, to establish the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’ ” (Isaiah 51:16 NASB95)

The “shadow of (God’s) hand” is obviously real too, and has a very real effect on us. Just because Paul used the concept of a shadow does not mean that the Law isn’t real and isn’t to be followed. A shadow can only be cast by the real thing. If you have the shadow, you have the reality too. We’ll cover more of Colossians 2 a little later in the book.

The life that we live here and now is a shadow of the next one, but that doesn’t mean it is any less substantial or real. What we do in this ‘shadow’ life will determine substance in the next life. What we do with the ‘shadows’ God gives us in His Law will be part. If we are faithful with very little ‘shadows’ it means we are faithful also in much bigger things, shadows or not.

10“He who is faithful in a very little thing is faithful also in much; and he who is unrighteous in a very little thing is unrighteous also in much. (Luke 16:10 NASB95)

If it is true that God gave a “mere shadow” of things in the Law, then why give them in the first place? Why not just say (at Mount Sinai) “Oh, just do what you want because My Anointed will make everything cool in a thousand years or so?” What kind of sense does that make? The answer is it doesn’t make any sense. Yes, some of the things God gave at Sinai could be termed ‘shadows’ of things to come. But that does not mean they are not worth doing.

No Profit in God’s Law?

From the book ‘Whole Bible Christianity’
On the flip side of the punish coin is reward. Or lack of it. Some just don’t see the profit in following God’s laws. In fact, it looks like many who follow seem to have more problems than those who don’t. There doesn’t appear to be any big payoff for obedience.

13 “Your words have been hard against me, says the LORD. But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ 14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts? 15 And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.’ ” (Malachi 3:13-15 ESV)

Malachi was written a long time ago, but the problem is still with us. Many think that “keeping his charge” (following His commands) is not profitable. But pay is not the issue. Of course we will have problems in this world. It isn’t our world. It’s filled with perverse people who hate God and do everything in their power to subvert and besmirch every aspect of His kingdom. They murdered the Son of God, so how much more will they revile, slander, attack, and murder us?

There are blessings that accrue to believers, some of which we get now, like peace, and some we will get later, like a new body. The pay is good, and there is lots of it, but it’s not measured in gold. It’s not even measured in time. It’s measured in love, which has no limit when you are joined together with the source of love.