Christian Faith and Practice Through Passover

Hot off the production line, our new video Christian Faith and Practice Through Passover (and Unleavened Bread and First Fruits) explains the simple steps for believers to show our love of the Father and our Messiah Jesus the Christ by observing the Passover.

We talk about the biblical specifics, the difference between tradition and the Bible, the calendar, and circumcision. Following the Bible is easy. It’s the traditions of men that make it difficult.

Shalom
Bruce

Passover 2014

We are getting ready for our lamb barbecue tomorrow night, looking forward to spending time showing love for God by doing as He commands His people to do. We touch God and touch each other in an intimate fellowship that goes way past the physical markers and deep into a spiritual connection. His love flows to us, and our love flows back and between. We remember what God has done for His people, is doing, and will do. Remember means to speak or act on behalf of someone, which is why we can “remember” the future promises of God.

Some are speaking of the “blood moons” that will appear on this Passover and the Tabernacles celebration this year, as well as the same two holidays next year. I’m not big into that stuff, but it probably has some significance. Coupled with the increase in earthquakes, volcanic activity, and cultural degradation, we can definitely see that labor pains for the world are increasing. Maintaining our love for God through His commands is coming under attack at a greater intensity, but He said a “falling away” would happen before the end. Therefore be encouraged and keep your faith strong, standing on the Rock of His Word and our Savior Jesus the Christ.

I feel sorry for those who do not participate in God’s holidays, either because they just don’t follow God or because they classify His living oracles as “old” or “outdated” or for another group besides believers. Paradise awaits a change from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh, sensitive and trembling at His Word. All it takes is humble obedience to find out the nature of real love and spiritual renewal and refreshment. I feel sorry for those who choose their own way, like Cain, substituting their own understanding for God’s Word and offering slovenly disobedience through physical symbols such as ham and bunnies. The symbols show the disobedience in the balance of their lives, corrupt and unclean and spurning the love that is waiting. Compromise shows its fruit in sexual immorality and unfruitfulness through acceptance of behavior God said would cause death. No wonder they are known for hypocrisy. One cannot practice hate for God in trashing His commands and expect God to accept the resulting uncleanness using the cosmic eraser of Jesus. If we harbor iniquity in our hearts, our offerings mean nothing. “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

Rejoice, children of God. Look up for our redemption draweth nigh. Stand strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Pursue righteousness through humble submission to every word of His glorious instructions. Hold fast to the hope He has given, practicing as best we can every tiny utterance from our loving God and Savior Jesus our Messiah. Eat His body and drink His blood, taking in every breath from God through His Word and breathing it back to Him. Rejoice as our meager offerings of obedience gain His regard and we find acceptance in Him because of our love and practice of His Word.

Shalom
Bruce

Video the Second: Our Second Youtube video

I probably won’t keep posting these, but they’re so useful I want to make sure people get the word. Our youtube channel is wholebible if you want to bookmark it. This video is on Reintroducing Whole Bible Christianity. If you’ve been reading the book you’ll notice right away that it provides much of the text for these videos. Just another format to get the word out about the Word.

Shalom

Draw Near

If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. (Exodus 12:48, ESV)

If any one term is the closest to the reason I follow the whole Bible, this is it. The term I’m speaking of is “come near.” In my view this is what Torah is all about. The term can be used for simply getting together (if we are talking about a pair or group of people), but when one of the parties is God it takes on a whole different character. We can “come near” God for judgment as in Malachi 3:5, or we can come near in love and intimacy. A similar term is “draw near.”

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8, ESV)

We “draw near” to God as we do what He says. The more we do, the closer we get. In humility we use His living oracles to wash the parts of us that get dirty. Though He has cleansed us wholly, we still need to wash occasionally.

Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” (John 13:10, ESV)

We are clean, but we still need to wash some in order to continue “drawing near.” Notice that Jesus did the foot washing during the Passover meal. Jesus continues to wash our feet by the washing of the Word as we “draw near” to Him through His commands. There is a continual cleansing by His Law because we are in a dirty world and sometimes we step in something odoriferous that needs to be removed. If we judge (cleanse) ourselves and wash our hands (or feet) then Jesus doesn’t have to judge us. His eye is on us for good and not for evil.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. (Psalm 32:8–9, ESV)

Shalom

Reading Omens

Genesis 24 has the account of Abraham’s servant searching for a bride for Isaac. Abraham instructs the servant to go to the “land of my kindred” and makes him swear not to get Isaac’s wife from the Canaanites. The servant gets to the land of Abraham’s extended family and stops by a well outside the city to get some water for his camels. He prays that God would help him identify Isaac’s bride as the one who would not only give him water but also his camels.

Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. By this I shall know that you have shown steadfast love to my master.” (Genesis 24:14, ESV)

So Rebekah shows up and does what the servant was hoping. Turns out she was also from Abraham’s kindred. He gives her gifts, meets the family, and with everyone’s agreement goes back and presents Isaac with his bride. So this means we should all learn to read omens, right? No. God tells us not to read omens.

“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. (Leviticus 19:26, ESV)

But many people (who should know better) do just that. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say, “If (such and so) happens, then that means God wants me to do (such and so).” This is what we call “reading omens.” We express uncertainty when things happen to impede the direction we want to go, then we wonder if “God is telling me not to do that” (or to do it). First, if God doesn’t want something to happen, it won’t happen. If He does want something to happen, it will. Second, it is the enemy who is ineffective. The deceiver can’t stop you if God is moving you, and can’t get you going if God is saying wait. Satan would be the one to throw all kinds of dumb omens at you to try and get you to stop doing what God wants or start doing what the enemy wants. I think that is one of the reasons God says not to read omens. Just stick with His Word and you can’t go wrong.

Did Abraham’s servant read omens? No. He prayed a specific prayer with a specific qualification. If a girl would not only give him water but also offer to draw water for the camels it would indicate the condition of her heart. She would be a generous person, soft of heart and concerned for others. Drawing water was probably hard, because one would have to dip a container into a hole or spring then pour it out for the camels to drink. And 10 camels drink a lot of water. In addition to the “sign” that the servant was looking for, the family (and the girl) would have to agree. So the servant wasn’t just throwing out a random request just to see if God would miraculously jump through hoops for his gratification.

The servant also had a specific, God given task. He wasn’t just trying to figure out if he should go to the local high school dance. I remember a trip a long time ago where it just seemed everything was going wrong. One thing after another happened to delay us. A strap broke on the car-top carrier (a big container for luggage). We forgot something. A belt broke on the car engine before we left. Things like that. At one point my wife asked me if I thought God was telling us not to go. I thought about it for a minute then said, “No. If God didn’t want us to go, we would not be going. These nagging attacks are from the enemy most likely.” So we went. It was an enjoyable trip.

Believers are not to read omens. God has given us a large amount of guidance through His Word. We strengthen our ability to sense when He is talking to us by reading His Word and doing everything He says. We practice hearing with the small things in His Word which teaches us how to recognize His voice when He speaks directly to us. Abraham’s servant didn’t need omens, and neither do we.

“When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. And because of these abominations the LORD your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God, for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the LORD your God has not allowed you to do this. (Deuteronomy 18:9–14, ESV)

Shalom

The Hardest Thing

What do you think the hardest thing to do is for a whole Bible believer?

 

One answer might be to face death, especially a death where the option to escape is to deny the One who bought us. What would I do? A simple lie to save myself, my family? Or perhaps the hardest thing to do is to face the impending death or severe sickness of a loved one. It is very hard to watch someone suffer, and to know that healing might be beyond what you can do. Another answer might be to live under severe persecution such as the brothers and sisters have to do in China or Muslim countries. These things are hard, but they tend to be short-term situations. One thing I think ranks right up there with these other hard things.

 

Living all of His words every minute, every day.

 

It’s easy to get bored, or to think that some small command is not worth the effort. Then it’s easy to go from neglecting a few smaller commands to fudging on a medium command. Steps like these gradually can make obedience to the really big commands a little fuzzy. The decisions made in life or death events don’t just spring up all at once when the big event happens. They are made from all the smaller steps taken, or not taken, before we even get there.

 

To be faithful, in every instance, with all of the heart, can be very difficult. More difficult perhaps than the single event that demands a life or death decision. There are all sorts of daily things we do that become mundane and lose their importance as time goes by. We get fat dumb and happy, and next thing you know we are making all sorts of compromises.

 

The fall holy days we are celebrating now can lose their edge, or they can be times of repentance and renewal. God is calling us to stay faithful, and if we haven’t been as faithful as we should we can still change. Hold fast what you have until He comes (Revelation 2:25). Strengthen what remains and is about to die (Revelation 3:2).

 

Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. (Revelation 3:3, ESV)

 

“Faithful” is also “steadfast love” or “patient endurance.” Don’t let the small things get away. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind when you feel yourself slipping. Read His Word daily, in large doses. Use the feast times to rededicate yourself and avoid slipping. Remember that “faithfulness” is used of God first (Genesis 24:27) and is used mostly in the Bible to describe Him. He is faithful to us who believe, and that deserves a faithful response. We can do all things through Him who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

 

Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. (Revelation 3:10–11, ESV)

 

Shalom
Bruce

Day of Wrath

Saturday is the Day of Atonement, also known as Yom Kippur. On this day, and this day only, when we had a temple the high priest would go into the holy of holies and apply the blood of the sacrifice to the mercy seat of the Aron Khodesh, also known as the Ark of the Covenant. He had to do it in a very specific way, with no deviation, or he would die. There was a time far back in history when the high priest had to go in with a rope tied around his ankle for fear he wouldn’t do things right and would die. If he did then others could drag him out without going in themselves and risking the same death.

 

The Day of Atonement was a day associated with wrath, smoke and burning. There are two facets to the smoke and burning. Either there was a sufficient sacrifice for sin, or there wasn’t. One type of smoke and burning was from the acceptable sacrifice, and God’s wrath was turned away. The other facet of smoke and burning was the wrath of God directed at people who did not have an acceptable sacrifice.

 

The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; the mighty man cries aloud there. A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness, a day of trumpet blast and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the lofty battlements. I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the LORD; their blood shall be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. (Zephaniah 1:14–17, ESV)

 

Before the death and resurrection of Jesus the Yom Kippur sacrifice looked forward to the offering of His own blood on our behalf. Now we remember that work in humility, but we still look forward to that final day of judgment and fast and pray for those who aren’t prepared. Those of us who believe have accepted His sacrifice and God’s wrath on this day is turned away. Those who haven’t accepted Jesus are risking the burning anger of God. This is why we “afflict ourselves” (fast) as it says in Leviticus 16:29 and other places. We bow our heads in humility remembering the sacrifice, and the cost of that sacrifice for our sins. We also fast and pray for repentance that everyone would likewise accept God’s Word and humble themselves.

 

Gather together, yes, gather, O shameless nation, before the decree takes effect —before the day passes away like chaff— before there comes upon you the burning anger of the LORD, before there comes upon you the day of the anger of the LORD. 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 2:1–3, ESV)

 

Some misguided people make a big deal out of exactly which day to have the holy days of the Lord. There is no procedure outlined for us in the Word, but there are people who want to help God out by splitting hairs about the new moon (which indicates the start of the month). They are missing the point about the whole thing. Majoring in the minors. Forsaking unity and brotherhood to push their “holier than thou” agenda. This kind of quibbling is proof that the Word does not dwell in their hearts, because love dwells with the Law and love is not in these arguments. I’ve seen many who not only quibble about this kind of minor detail but other non-biblical issues such as head coverings while at the same time ignoring more salient and weightier issues such as love and honoring others. It’s not just me, either. Watch them yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

 

Remember the Law in its entirety with love and the Spirit in a heart of flesh. Don’t get caught up in quibbling with the quibblers. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the seven churches. Repent. Love God. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.

 

“For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.” (Malachi 4:1–6, ESV)

Day of the Awakening Blast

Coming up next week on Thursday the 5th is a day of blowing otherwise known as the Feast of Trumpets or Yom Teruah (day of the awakening blast). Oh boy. Wednesday night as a family tradition we will be having gyros with tzatziki (zot zee kee) sauce. It’s worth eating the gyros (year-ohs, a mixture of lamb and beef with nifty spices) just to eat my wife’s tzatziki sauce (yogurt, garlic, cucumber mostly). I like to chop it up, others like to make sandwiches out of pita bread, onions and tomatoes.

 

We will be blowing shofars a lot. If you don’t already know, shofar is Hebrew for trumpet. Traditionally it is a curved animal horn (goat or ram’s horn for smaller ones, big ones are from the African Kudu), although some Bible trumpets were made out of silver. We’ll probably also have a fire in our fire ring and make s’mores or something. Or maybe we’ll skip the s’mores to avoid going into sugar shock. My wife likes to call this the “Feast of Sugar.”

 

We like the three fold principal involved in celebrating the feasts of God centered around the word “remember.” Remember in the biblical sense often means to speak or act on behalf of something or someone. That’s why we can not only remember the past (what God has done for His people) and remember the present (practice as a testimony), we can even remember the future (rehearse what God is going to do for His people).

 

Trumpets has themes associated with it including the coronation of the King, waking up from the sleep of sin, marriage (for us it’s associated with the marriage supper of the Lamb), concealment (on the day of wrath), and warning to repent before the day of Judgment/Wrath also known as Yom Kippur or day of atonement.

 

There are some articles on www.wholebible.com including Christian Faith and Practice through Cycles http://www.wholebible.com/Biblical_Feasts.htm and Christian Faith and Practice through Yom Teruah http://www.wholebible.com/trumpets.htm for more information. The Yom Teruah article has a flash video at the bottom where you can hear us sounding the shofar.

 

Shalom
Bruce

Judging with Righteous Judgment Pt. 3 – Baby Steps

Training in righteous judgment comes from balanced and consistent practice. This is illustrated for us in Scripture such as 2 Timothy 3:16 and Titus 2:1-10 among many others. We learn how to apply the Law by applying it ourselves to our own life on a daily basis. We start with small things, which some call shadows, learning love and faithfulness with baby steps. Later we can perhaps run a marathon.

 

The feasts and holy days of our Father are excellent places to begin training in righteous judgment. Think about how many questions have to be answered in order to practice His instructions in the feasts and festivals. Am I going to take the Sabbaths off from work? Will I let worldly things get in the way of our celebration? Is it all important, because every word He speaks is important? What does it mean to take time to blow a trumpet or learn how to blow one? What are the themes associated with a feast, and where else do we find them in the Word? Where is Jesus in the symbols? Since Jesus was the one to prescribe these, is there a new connection I can make with Him, making His presence more real and concrete in daily living?

 

We need to carve out time for His appointments with us, just as we would for a dentist, doctor or lawyer. Each instruction has to be contemplated, incorporated into our planning, and juggled with other commitments. How we treat the less weighty things is an indication of how we will treat the more weighty things. We have to rate the importance of His commands compared to all the other demands on our time. There are times the other things will have to give way. How much do we love the Father, and how willing are we to clear everything out of the path to Him?

 

Questions and considerations like these also play into weightier issues too. If we are faithful in small things, we will be faithful in greater things. If we are unfaithful in small things, how can we be trusted with bigger things? Are we the second son who says “I will go” then doesn’t?

 

“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. (Matthew 21:28–32, ESV)

 

On the other hand, do we get caught up in all the showy stuff about holy days such as Hebrew language or mystical interpretations and neglect to just do them with a heart of flesh in the Spirit? Do we worship the traditions or the One who gave them? These are just some of the issues that help train us not only to see the right things to do, but also to do them.

Distractions, Part Four, Boring stuff

Boy there are a lot of distractions from the Word. I may run out of numbers eventually.

 

This distraction is kind of a reverse distraction. It is a distraction because it is not distracting. What I mean is, God’s message is simple. Easy to understand. Repetitive. And boring. It does not have bells and whistles, dramatic lighting, big screen TV’s, shocking YouTube videos, celebrity endorsements, titillating gossip, vampires, salacious tweets, soap opera story lines, or Oscar winning computer graphics. It’s pretty mundane on the surface. Right up until you try to do it.

 

I’m speaking of abiding in His Word. Doing what He says. That’s it. It’s just not enough for a Hollywood party.

 

Obey is the original four-letter word.

 

It doesn’t appear sexy, or exciting. Unless you actually try it on for size. Take His Word out for a spin and you’ll find out just how stimulating it really is. That is, if you truly intend to follow God with a whole heart of flesh.

 

Sabbath, for instance, is not as easy as it looks. Sounds great – just take Saturday off. No work. No chores. No sweat. But just try to do it out of love for God. You would not believe the stimulation in just resting. It goes against the world. It goes against commerce, because Saturday is a big “buying and selling” day for the unbelievers. It goes against our own natures. It looks tame, but fireworks really go off when we try to actually do what the Father says. We can feel His life flowing through us when we allow Him to write His Word on our heart with the Spirit, and actually do what Jesus did.

 

Or try to avoid pork and shellfish. Think it’s just another diet gimmick? Try it and you’ll think again. You will be amazed at the tremendous amount of this trash in a worldly meal you didn’t know was there. When love for God drives you to eat His body and drink His blood (His Word and will) instead, it charges up your walk with energy from the Spirit you didn’t know you had at your disposal. It’s like removing sticks from a dam across the flow of a stream. Soon the dam gives way and all that pent up power can move through your soul.

 

His feasts (Leviticus 23) are beautifully timed to regenerate your enthusiasm and bring biblical teachings right into your living room. The reality of His grace, mercy and justice is driven home with concrete practices right from His heart to yours. We remember the past, remind ourselves of His presence and promises while teaching our children about them, and reinforce hope for our future deliverance. What a blast. We are invited to regular parties by the King of Kings, and He really knows how to throw a bash. Get high on the Spirit with no hangover. And you remember every detail.

 

On the surface, viewed with a heart of stone, His Word can appear boring. The benefits are hidden to those who are so easily distracted by the ear-tickling shiny baubles of emotional detours. Try following every part of His living oracles as much as you can, however, and that’s when the excitement truly begins. If His Word appears boring, perhaps it’s not the Word that is the problem at all.