Church Of The Firstborn (Part III): Raised Up, Seated With Christ, And Ready To Rule

saints

And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood, and made us to be a kingdom, priests serving his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds…(Rev. 1:5-7, NRSV).

In this third and final installment of the Church of the Firstborn series (see Parts I and II), I will be diving into another messianic mystery tucked away in the OT. There is a fascinating text in Psalm 110 that contributes to our understanding of the NT revelation of Christ and the Church. This particular verse has a confusing textual issue, as we’ll soon discover. However, with some biblical sleuthing and the right interpretative framework, you might be surprised by the picture that surfaces once we piece together the available evidence.

As Christ’s body we are graced with titles and privileges ascribed to the Savior himself, and we can find a few of these associations in the passage of Revelation 1:5-7. John’s summary of prior biblical revelation sets the stage for this study in Psalm 110:

Jesus is uniquely the firstborn of the dead (Rev. 1:5; cf. Col. 1:18)
Jesus is uniquely the Priest-King forever (Rev. 1:6; cf. Heb. 4:145:5-6Zech. 6:13)
Jesus is uniquely the Son of Man who returns with the clouds (Rev. 1:7Matt. 26:64Dan. 7:13)

And while Jesus, the eternal Son of the Father, is the preeminent Firstborn, Priest-King, and Son of Man flanked by the clouds of heaven, the same descriptors can also be applied secondarily to the Church by virtue of being one in Christ (Gal. 3:28-29Eph. 4:15-16Col. 3:11):

The Church is also identified as the firstborn (Heb. 12:23Rev. 2:28Rev. 12:5Isa. 66:7-8)
The Church is a royal priesthood, a.k.a. priest-kings (Rev. 1:65:101 Pet. 2:9)
The Church is among the Son of Man’s cloud army (1 Thess. 4:17Heb. 12:1Rev. 1:73:44:419:7-814)

All three of these elements—(1) Firstborn (2) Priest-King (3) Cloud Army—can be found in Psalm 110. However, you won’t see all of them by simply reading one particular English version, nor can you see the full picture by an uncritical acceptance of the Masoretic Text either. It’s gonna take a little excavating, but there is some hidden treasure in this hill.

Raised Up and Seated with Christ

Psalm 110 has the most citations, quotations, and allusions in the New Testament of all the psalms. Along with Psalm 2, it is highly messianic and finds fulfillment in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God. The book of Hebrews reveals the immense implications of Jesus’ superior priesthood and ties Psalms 2 and 110 together twice: (1) They are the first and last OT quotations which bookend the opening argument (Heb. 1:513), and (2) They are linked again in Heb. 5:5-6, where the Father is the One to appoint Jesus to His exalted position.

To reiterate something I touched on in Part II, it is important to grasp when the Father officially declared Jesus “a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek” and said the words “today I have begotten you.” Historically, the Father’s declaration of these two OT prophetic statements (Psalm 2:7 and Psalm 110:4) was made official only after Jesus had been raised from the dead and taken up to heaven. Acts 13:33-34 crystallizes this point.

So why is this a big deal? Well, for the purpose of our study, the timing of the Father’s words is essential in order to define and clarify the oft-used and oft-misunderstood term “begotten.” The Greek term gennao in the context of Psalm 2:7 and its numerous NT citations is best understood in the sense of the new creation. In other words, the Father’s “begetting the Son” means that Jesus became the “firstborn” of a new creation at the time of His bodily resurrection and, ultimately, His triumphant return back into heaven to be at the Father’s right hand. And like Jesus, the head of the body (Eph. 5:23Col. 1:18), the Church will also experience a second “birth”, a supernatural “begetting” by the power of the Spirit and the will of the Father.

Perhaps this creative use of language is why some are stuck when it comes to Revelation 12:5 and cannot fathom how this text could refer to anyone else other than Jesus. Sadly, many are short-sighted in their interpretation and are only thinking about a historical birth in the sense of Mary and a baby in swaddling clothes. In context, the “begetting” and “birth” of this male-child in Rev. 12:5 is the corporate Christ (Jesus and His body), and it’s not a natural/physical birth being depicted—it’s a supernatural/spiritual birth (i.e. the resurrection/rapture of the Church).

At times I wonder if some Christians feel they aren’t worthy enough to be identified with Christ in such an exalted manner. It’s as if they understand that Jesus is both an eternal King and Savior, but they fail to grasp the significance of texts such as Revelation 2:26-28. Is it low self-worth, doubt, guilt, fear, or even pride? Some folks, I guess, are still waiting on their pastor to get to this text in Revelation in order to explain it…and they keep waiting…and waiting…

Well, my fellow heir and co-ruler with Christ, I often tell others not to read themselves into certain texts, but I’m going to go ahead and give the green light to any born-again believer in Christ to read yourself into this one:

He [the Father] also raised us up with him [Jesus] and seated us with him in the heavensin Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7, CSB).

We really struggle to grasp the weighty truth of this passage, because we are currently in a stage of tension, the already-but-not-yet. Nevertheless, the apostle Paul isn’t playing games with words and neither is God. We really will be raised up and seated with Christ in the future—as a complete and glorified body in heaven!

Do we find such a scene in Scripture where the entire body of Christ is raised up and seated with Christ in heaven? Yes, and here’s an on-point quote from Greg Lauer:

Paul comes right out and says that Christ will raise us up and make us sit with Him in the heavenly places. How do you allegorize this away? How do you make this mean something different? If this is not being fulfilled right here in Revelation 4, then by all means—please indulge me and show me where it is fulfilled” (“The Gang’s All Here,” article #5, 2015, emphasis his).

And so, even though there is an already-but-not-yet fulfillment (positional sanctification, as it’s called), Ephesians 2:6 finds ultimate fulfillment in Revelation chapter 4. There in God’s throne room in heaven, we see the complete and glorified Church: the firstborn, the priest-kings, and the white-robed “clouds” who sit with the Lamb right before He stands up, takes the scroll, and begins to judge the earth. Gary’s written on this too, so if you missed it, check out “Who are the 24 Elders?

Again, I will often tell brothers and sisters in Christ under the New Covenant not to read themselves back into the “Old Testament” era. But if you are my brother or sister in Christ, then go ahead and read yourself into this next one too.

But first, we gotta do some detective work in order to clear up some confusion and uncover the mystery hidden in a 3,000-year-old psalm…

A Prophecy of Christ and His Church in Psalm 110

Before I go any further, I owe a debt of gratitude to one of my seminary professors, Dr. Larry Waters (now with the Lord), who introduced me to a highly influential and stimulating book called The Messianic Hope by Michael Rydelnik. I have cited Rydelnik in previous articles, and I am compelled to share his thoughts once again in this piece.

Rydelnik provides an outline of Psalm 110 that will help us to establish the proper context. He includes a chart that illustrates how Psalm 110 thematically unifies Psalms 107 through 113 (pg. 171):

107
108       “Pleas for Deliverance”
109

110       “The Messianic Deliverer”

111
112       “Praise for Deliverance”
113

You can read through these other psalms in order to see the connection for yourself. The placement of Psalm 110 as an answer to pleas and prayers of deliverance goes to show that the collection and arrangement of each and every psalm was a careful, deliberate, and Holy Spirit-guided process. For a brief example, Psalm 109:31 flows quite seamlessly into the next psalm (see Psalm 110:1)!

Next, Rydelnik adapts an outline of Psalm 110 from Derek Kidner’s commentary (pg. 171). The psalm has three units of thought that each depict some aspect of the ultimate Messiah, the Son of David (cf. 2 Sam. 7:11-131 Chron. 17:11-14):

(1) 110:1-3 – The Messiah is a Divine King

(2) 110:4 – The Messiah is an Eternal Priest

(3) 110:5-7 – The Messiah is a Righteous Judge/Victorious Warrior

When you read through this psalm and study the flow of thought, you’ll discover that the book of Revelation is a thorough expansion of this ancient prophecy. There is a sure and steady move of the Messiah from His exalted position in heaven, at the right hand of God (YHWH, the LORD), back down to earth in order to wage a righteous war against His enemies (cf. Rev. 19:11-16).

And, as you know, the Messiah isn’t alone—He has a “body” with Him. Remember, Christ returns at the end of the Tribulation “with the clouds” (Matt. 26:64Rev. 1:7; cf. Dan. 7:13). Well, just as you might expect, “the clouds” can be seen in Psalm 110:3 and linked closely with David’s “Lord” and King (cf. Matt. 22:41-46).

However, it’s at this juncture where the Hebrew and Greek versions differ drastically, especially in the second line of verse three (Psalm 110:3b). First, here is an English translation of verse three that more or less adheres to the Masoretic Text (Hebrew):

Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power; In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew” (NASB).

Second, here is an English translation of the same verse from the LXX (Greek):

With you is authority in the day of your might, with the splendor of the holy ones. From the womb, before the morning, I begat you” (The Lexham English Septuaguint).

As you can see there are major differences, and it’s no small task to try and piece this textual puzzle together. At first blush, I find it intriguing that verse three has the most difficult textual problem of all the places in this psalm. There is something monumental going on this verse, and if the original text is some kind of combination of both the Hebrew and Greek versions, then parallel passages containing “resurrection/raised-up-to-rule” imagery abound in Scripture and the implications for the Church are immense.

Here is what Rydelnik says about this significant verse:

David M. Hay correctly notes that the last phrase of 110:3 is ‘virtually unintelligible.’ The MT reads ‘from the womb of the dawn, your youth [yalduteyka] are to you as dew’…leading to a variety of strained and unlikely interpretations since these words make virtually no sense. Booj describes the phrase as ‘especially problematic and indeed…meaningless.’ He concludes that ‘some deformation must have crept in.’ Although a canon of textual criticism is that the harder reading is to be preferred, there is a difference between a harder reading and an incoherent, impossible one. For this reason, Sigmund Mowinckel and other scholars prefer the LXX, which reads, ‘from the womb of the dawn, I have begotten you,’ a translation based on the same Hebrew consonants but with different vowel pointings [yelidtika]. Additionally, Bentzen has suggested that the corruption of the MT resulted from deliberate scribal efforts to obfuscate the meaning and its plain allusion to Ps. 2:7. Since the LXX reading is preferable, it leads to a strongly messianic interpretation, describing in Hay’s words, ‘the birth of a divine child’ as King” (Messianic Hope, pg. 174-175, bolded emphasis mine).

Now, I don’t want anyone to become disheartened or overly suspicious every time there is a difference between English translations that highlight an underlying disagreement between the Masoretic Text and any other version, especially the Greek (LXX). The MT is a solid and reliable transmission of the entire Hebrew Bible, but you do need to be aware that the MT is dated around AD 1000 whereas the LXX manuscripts go as far back as 2-1 BC.

What does this mean? It means that the Masoretes, who were Hebrew scribes (i.e. non-Christians) and gatekeepers of a text transmitted down through the centuries post Pentecost AD 33, would certainly want to avoid any association with Jesus as the Messiah and “begotten Son” of YHWH (cf. John 1:143:16).

Therefore, it is entirely plausible to suggest that the surviving Hebrew text (MT) contains a deliberate attempt to disassociate and avoid the clear link between Psalm 110:3 and Psalm 2:7. Chalk it up as just another “conspiracy theory,” if you wish, but Rydelnik’s explanation accounts for the confusion and incoherence between the Greek and Hebrew versions. Additionally, there is evidence from other ancient Hebrew manuscripts and the Syriac version that support and uphold the Greek inclusion of the Father’s words “I have begotten you” in Psalm 110:3 (Messianic Hope, pg. 175, footnote 42).

In summary, neither the Hebrew or the Greek versions have the original text, and we need both of them in order to reconstruct what was lost in transmission. William Brown, a scholar at Union Theological Seminary, agrees and honors both Masoretic and non-Masoretic witnesses. Here is his suggested rendering of the original text of Psalm 110:3b:

In holy splendor, out of the womb, towards the dawn go forth! Like dew, I have begotten you” (“Critical Notes: A Royal Performance” from Journal of Biblical Literature, vol. 117.1, year: 1998, pg. 96).

Wisely and conservatively, Brown incorporates the reference to “dew” found in the MT but omitted by the LXX. He also includes in a footnote his suggestion that the “womb” refers to Zion, which is frequently associated with maternal imagery. For evidence he cites Isaiah 66:7-9 and Psalm 87:4-6!

So, putting the pieces all together now, Psalm 110:3 looks something like this (based loosely on the ESV + the scholarship cited above):

Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power dressed in holy splendor/garments; from the womb [and] before the dawn, like [the] dew I have begotten you.”

Next, take a look at the verses that come before and after verse three:

The LORD sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies!…[t]he LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:24, ESV).

And, voilà! Now we have all three of our messianic associations listed in Revelation 1:5-7: (1) Firstborn, (2) Priest-King, and (3) Cloud Army. Here are the thematic elements along with verse quotations from 110:2-4:

(1) Firstborn – “…from the womb before the dawn, like [the] dew I have begotten you” (110:3b)

(2) Priest-King – “…You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (110:4b), and “Rule in the midst of your enemies!” (110:2b)

(3) Cloud Army – “Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power dressed in holy splendor/garments” (110:3a)

The Begotten, Not Forgotten Ones

One day, and one day soon, the LORD will “remember” His covenant promise to the Church. The Head of the body has already gone before us as a forerunner, the prototype of what is to come. One day, and one day soon, the earth will not be able to contain the dead any longer and will bring forth (give “birth”) to the new creation (Rom. 8:22-23). One day when the fullness of Gentiles has come in (Rom. 11:25), the Father will say to us too, “Today, I have begotten you.”

Thus, as we have discovered in this study, a key prophetic text in Psalm 110:3 helps to complete the mystery of Messiah and His body. There are elements in this text that align beautifully with other passages that depict the “birth” (resurrection/glorification) of the Church.

For example:

Isaiah 26:1921 – The earth gives birth to the dead in Christ, “Your dead will live…” And here we find the presence of “dew” imagery again. Dew is symbolic of renewal and blessing—especially an early blessing such as the pre-dawn (Day of the LORD) resurrection and rapture before the earth is judged.

Isaiah 66:7-9 – The “birth” before Zion’s “labor” is the “begetting” of the Church, the male (Grk. arsen). Christ was begotten first, but His body is not far behind. The male (arsen) who is born from the earth is a collective, a nation of priest-kings resurrected and glorified in one day. Check out 2 Esdras 4:40-42 for a thought-provoking backdrop to these texts in Isaiah about the coming earth-birth of God’s children.

Revelation 12:5 – This one, solitary verse is pregnant (pun intended) and full of hope for the one who knows the backstory. It should come as no surprise, but we find Psalms 2 and 110 synced up again in this verse. The Firstborn (Church) is given authority to Rule (Ps. 2:7-9Ps. 110:2) and taken up to God’s throne…just…like…Jesus, the preeminent Priest-King (Ps. 110:1Eph. 2:6)!

Feel free to search for more Psalm 110:3 alignments, ’cause I’m sure there are many other passages that affirm the reconfiguration shown in this study. Hopefully, this will suffice for now, and I pray that I accomplished my aim in the Church of the Firstborn series: The Church goes first! We will be raised up, seated with Christ in heaven, and then return with Him to rule and co-shepherd the sheep nations with an iron rod.

Keep watching and waiting, brothers and sisters. Our “Begotten Day” will be here soon. Come, Lord Jesus! (Click to Source)

 

CBD logo

Torah Scope – V’yeilekh – And he went – The Strong and Courageous Never Forsaken – September 15, 2018

V’yeilekh

And he went

maxresdefault

Deuteronomy 31:1-30
Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-27

“The Strong and Courageous Never Forsaken”


by Mark Huey

As Moses, the prophet to Israel (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18; Acts 3:22; 7:37), comes to the completion of his exemplary life—he gave the people some sobering, prophetic realities to consider, along with some encouraging words to contend with their ultimate destiny, in this week’s Torah portion. After all, Moses knew that his pleadings to accompany the Israelites into the Promised Land had been denied by the Holy One, because of his presumptuous actions taken at the waters of Meribah (Numbers 20:6-13):

“I also pleaded with the LORD at that time, saying, ‘O Lord GOD, You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your strong hand; for what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours? Let me, I pray, cross over and see the fair land that is beyond the Jordan, that good hill country and Lebanon.’ But the LORD was angry with me on your account, and would not listen to me; and the LORD said to me, ‘Enough! Speak to Me no more of this matter’” (Deuteronomy 3:23-26).

But as a prime example of a good shepherd understanding his sheep, and the future challenges Israel would face and endure, Moses wanted to encourage them to be strong and courageous as they conquered Canaan. Moses noted that because the Lord had sworn to give this territory to their ancestors, He would never categorically fail or forsake His chosen nation:

“So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. And he said to them, ‘I am a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come and go, and the LORD has said to me, “You shall not cross this Jordan.” It is the LORD your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the LORD has spoken. The LORD will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. The LORD will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.’ Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance. The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed’” (Deuteronomy 31:1-8).

In this opening statement, Moses concluded with the admonition to not be fearful or dismayed, as the Israelites would contend with what must have appeared, to them, to be overwhelming odds given the whole host of people groups that had to be conquered and displaced. Instead of fearing these mortal enemies and what they could possibly do to them, there is the constant reminder that the Lord desired a consistent fear or reverence of Him and His ability and desire to accomplish His will for the ages. But even with a genuine fear of the Holy One (Leviticus 25:17-18, et. al.), perhaps leading to “self-righteous” behavior, it was ultimately not Israel’s status which was to result in the expulsion of the wicked inhabitants of Canaan. Rather, as stated earlier in Deuteronomy 9, God simply confirmed the oath He swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—noting how these descendants of theirs are inherently a stubborn people:

“Hear, O Israel! You are crossing over the Jordan today to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, great cities fortified to heaven, a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know and of whom you have heard it said, ‘Who can stand before the sons of Anak?’ Know therefore today that it is the LORD your God who is crossing over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and He will subdue them before you, so that you may drive them out and destroy them quickly, just as the LORD has spoken to you. Do not say in your heart when the LORD your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people”(Deuteronomy 9:1-6).

Spiritual pride, that can originate from the thought that a man or woman is a part of God’s own, is something which is spoken against by Him in V’yeilekh—and with which all those who claim to follow Him since, is something that needs to be reckoned with.

In the narrative, Moses returns to some of the basic instructions given to Israel, in order to prevent “self-righteous” pride welling up in the hearts of Israel. Emphasis on the fact that Moses specifically wrote down this part of the Torah, entrusted its application to the Levites with the portage of the Ark of the Covenant, and the admonition that the Sabbath rest for the Promised Land and remission of debts be remembered during the Feast of Booths at the place He will choose—has great meaning today, as Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles is about to commence for us in a little over a week:

“So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. Then Moses commanded them, saying, ‘At the end of every seven years, at the time of the year of remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place which He will choose, you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law. Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess” (Deuteronomy 31:9-13).

Notable, in these final instructions, is the direction that not only are the Israelite men required to hear the Torah read—but also the women, children, and the sojourner in the community. The fear of the Lord and observance of the words of His Law are intended for all of His people. That the same standard of instruction would generally apply, to all of God’s people, was likely as controversial an assertion in ancient times—as it is in noticeable sectors of today’s Messianic movement. There is a definite impetus for all in the broad community of Ancient Israel to be instructed from the Torah, that they might understand the will and purposes of the Heavenly Father.

At this point, Moses reluctantly acknowledged the reality of his impending death, and prepared to commission Joshua as his successor. However, there is the lamentable prophecy that Israel would play the harlot with strange gods, forsaking the Lord and breaking their covenant with Him. This would ultimately result in a period of time when the Lord would hide His face from Israel and allow them to be consumed with many evils and difficulties (cf. Deuteronomy chs. 28-29):

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, the time for you to die is near; call Joshua, and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.’ So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the tent of meeting. The LORD appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood at the doorway of the tent. The LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers; and this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, “Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?” But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods” (Deuteronomy 31:14-18).

For those seeking the face of the Maker today, these words should have significant meaning, because He is consistently watching over His Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12). Modern-day followers of Yeshua the Messiah, who have been purchased by His blood sacrifice, must be reminded that He will never forsake His beloved ones. Yet, there are a number of additional possible entrapments that each one of us needs to be mindful of, as detailed by the author of Hebrews:

“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I WILL NEVER DESERT YOU, NOR WILL I EVER FORSAKE YOU’ [Deuteronomy 31:6], so that we confidently say, ‘THE LORD IS MY HELPER, I WILL NOT BE AFRAID. WHAT WILL MAN DO TO ME? [Psalm 118:6]’ Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. Yeshua the Messiah is the same yesterday and today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited” (Hebrews 13:5-9).

In this contextually parallel passage, all should prayerfully consider not only the temptation to serve the perceived security of accumulated wealth, since no one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24)—but the additional warning not to be carried away by varied and strange teachings. Today, with the proliferation of access to a plethora of teachings readily available on the Internet—and the fact that the Apostolic Writings are replete with cautions about false prophets, false teachers, and deceiving spirits (i.e., Matthew 7:15; Galatians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 11:13; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 2:16, 3:13; 2 Peter 2:1-3; Jude 1:4)—all Believers, both ancient and modern, have been admonished to test the spirits (1 John 4:11). We are to surely examine the spiritual fruit of teachers and their teachings (Matthew 12:30-33).

Moses left the people of Israel with a tried and true prescription for overcoming evils and temptations. Moses composed a song, which was to be taught, memorized, and recited by God’s people for all future generations. By recalling this—and by extension immersing one’s mind in the infallible Word of God—Messiah followers today are to have these precious words of life buried in their hearts, so that they may ring forth from their lips and be faithful and true witnesses to the efficacy of His Word. It is primarily due to the power of God’s Word, that when evils and troubles arrive—and they will for every generation—it is the recollection of His Word which restores confidence in God and His promises:

“‘Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel. For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant. Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.’ So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the sons of Israel” (Deuteronomy 31:19-22).

The commissioning of Joshua shortly took place before the assembling of all of the Israelites and the high priest Eleazar, so that they would all know beyond a shadow of doubt, that the Holy One through Moses was ordaining his successor (cf. Numbers 27:15-23):

“Then Moses spoke to the LORD, saying, ‘May the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the LORD will not be like sheep which have no shepherd.’ So the LORD said to Moses, ‘Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; and have him stand before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and commission him in their sight. You shall put some of your authority on him, in order that all the congregation of the sons of Israel may obey him. Moreover, he shall stand before Eleazar the priest, who shall inquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the LORD. At his command they shall go out and at his command they shall come in, both he and the sons of Israel with him, even all the congregation.’ Moses did just as the LORD commanded him; and he took Joshua and set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses” (Numbers 27:15-23).

Note that in this description of Moses extending his leadership authority to Joshua, the presence of an advisory judgment capacity via the priesthood. There is an arrangement of governmental/military/authority leadership, along with the related counsel of those dedicated to serving God in a full-time capacity. As recorded down through the history of Israel—and perhaps evident even today, when a country or people group disregards the Biblically balanced counsel delivered from various spiritual leaders to governmental authorities—problems ensue.

During the commissioning of Joshua, Moses exhorted Joshua to be strong and courageous in his new responsibilities to lead Israel. The Torah was to be placed beside the Ark of Covenant, as a written witness against the people, for their offenses committed. Due to Moses’ experience of leading the Israelites through forty years of sojourning in the desert, he detailed how they were a rebellious, stubborn, stiff-necked people expected to rebel even more after his death. Our Torah portion ends with a sure reminder that there is a song to come, which would be helpful in eventually overcoming the judgment of the last days, due to the evil actions that would provoke the anger of the Lord:

“Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you.’ It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete, that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, ‘Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you. For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the LORD; how much more, then, after my death? Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them. For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.’ Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete:” (Deuteronomy 31:23-30).

Because one has to wait until next week’s reading to hear the words of Moses’ song, we will simply have to anticipate God’s revelation until then. But, it is perhaps providential this week (2012), that V’yeilekh falls between Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur—as people are preparing to afflict their souls, in order to reassess where they stand individually and corporately before the Lord. There is an ancient Jewish tradition, that after taking the thirty days of the month of Elul to examine one’s relationship with the Almighty, that during the ten days from the first to the tenth of Tishri, people seriously take the time to ask forgiveness and seek any reconciliation and/or restitution that is required with those who might have been offended in the previous year by inappropriate actions or words. It is highly recommended that every one truly seeking to please the Lord consider this approach, especially because it very much mirrors an admonition of Yeshua’s, as He directed His followers to seek restoration with others at all times:

“You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ [Exodus 20:13; Deuteronomy 5:17] and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent” (Matthew 5:21-26).

As many have experienced when dealing with different offenses which can erupt in various ways during human interactions, one must be humble and contrite, coupled with strength and courage—to muster what it takes to obey Yeshua’s critical command to seek reconciliation with those offended. After all, the fleshly thoughts of people have a propensity to justify offensive behavior, by being convinced that whatever was done (right or wrong) can be rationalized by an indignation to protect one’s presumed self-interest. This attitude contradicts the thought of the Apostle Paul, who indicated how it is the Messiah who lived in him:

“I have been crucified with Messiah; and it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20).

Faithful followers of the Messiah should be dead to sin and instead slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:11-23)—and with this the willingness to seek restitution with others should prevail. Hence, we may find that the often-repeated expression, “two wrongs do not make a right,” is a clever reminder that people empowered by the Holy Spirit should, without hesitation, follow the commands of Yeshua to love one another. And we are also certainly told, “If possible, and to the extent that it depends on you, live in peace with all people” (Romans 12:18, CJB). After all, like the words of Moses given to Israel as important direction and instruction—so the words of Yeshua and His Apostles have also been preserved, so that every born again Believer seeking His good pleasure can receive His approval as good and faithful servants.

Just like the promises of the Almighty One to Moses to never forsake Israel—Yeshua will never leave or forsake the redeemed in Him. But, He will be disappointed and limit Himself from us, if we persist to ignore His basic instructions, because we convince ourselves that we know better. Guess what? Our struggling flesh does not know better, despite its justifications. The sooner we confess this reality and obey His basic instructions, the sooner those called by His Name will achieve all that He has destined them to accomplish!

In this week of reflection leading to restitution, humble yourself while being strengthened and encouraged by the Living Word. Strive to be more useful in advancing His Kingdom, until the restoration of all things…

 

CBD logo

Getting ‘Unhitched’ from the Old Testament? Andy Stanley Aims at Heresy

August 10, 2018

Reading the Torah

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.

For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;

Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.

But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.

10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,

11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.

12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

(2 Timothy 3:1-17)King James Version (KJV) Public Domain

 

Eventually, we learn to take an individual at his word. Andy Stanley is a master communicator, and he communicates very well and very often. His preaching and teaching often bring controversy, and he quite regularly makes arguments that subvert the authority of Scripture and cast doubt upon biblical Christianity. He returns regularly to certain themes and arguments — so regularly that we certainly get the point. He evidently wants us to understand that he means what he says.

Earlier this year, Stanley brought controversy when he argued in a sermon that the Christian faith must be “unhitched” from the Old Testament. He claimed that “Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well.”

Later, explaining his statement, Stanley told Relevant magazine, “Well, I never suggested we ‘unhitch’ from a passage of Scripture or a specific biblical imperative . . . . Again, I was preaching through Acts 15 where Peter, James, and Paul recommended the first-century church unhitch (my word, I’m open to an alternative) the law of Moses from the Gospel being preached to the Gentiles in Antioch.”

Indeed, in the sermon Stanley did not argue that any specific Old Testament command should be nullified. Instead, he went even further and told his listeners that the Old Testament should not be seen as “the go-to source regarding any behavior in the church.” In his view, the first century leadership of the church “unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish Scriptures.”

Again, controversy rightly erupted after those comments, spoken earlier this year. But in recent days Andy Stanley has returned to the same theme, this time in a conversation with Jonathan Merritt on his podcast, Seekers and Speakers.

In this conversation, Stanley speaks of outgrowing a childhood belief about the Bible and coming to understand what he presents as a far more complex reality. How complex? Well, Stanley argues that we must know that biblical references to the Scripture “did not mean the Bible.”

Note his words carefully:

This is something I’m trying desperately to help people understand and every time I try to explain it I get misunderstood so here I go again. There was no “The Bible” until the fourth century. When we think about the Bible we think about a book that contains the Jewish Scripture and the Christian writings and such a thing did not exist until after Christianity became legal and scholars could come out of the shadows and actually put such a thing together.”

There is more:

So the early church no one ever said in the early church, ‘the Bible says, the Bible teaches, the Bible says the Bible teaches,’ because there was no ‘The Bible.’ But the point of your question, there was Scripture but every time we see the phrase ‘the Scripture’ or ‘Scripture’ in the New Testament, as you know we have to stop and ask the question, what was this particular group of people referring to because there was no ‘The Bible’ and there was no book that contained all the Jewish Scripture because it was contained in synagogues and as you know virtually no one could read and write.”

Well, wait just a minute. It is true that Jesus and the Apostles did not have the Old Testament and the New Testament bound together in a book (codex) form. It is, of course, also plainly true that the New Testament did not exist until it was given, book by book, by the Holy Spirit to the church in the first century. But it is not true that references to “the Scriptures” or “the Scripture” by Jesus and the Apostles are any mystery to us. They are plainly referring to what we know as the Old Testament. There are references to “Moses and the Prophets” (Luke 16:29) and to the “Law and the Prophets”(Luke 16:16), but faithful Jews in the first century would emphatically have known exactly what the Scriptures are.

As a matter of fact, Mark Hamilton has documented the fact that the Greek phrase, ta biblia, “the books” was “an expression Hellenistic Jews used to describe their sacred books several centuries before the time of Jesus.”

The fact that the Old Testament Scriptures were at the time in scroll form in synagogues rather than book form is plain, but the fact is that the Jewish authorities made their arguments on the basis of appeal to the Scriptures, and so did Jesus and the Apostles. Both Jesus and the Apostles did make their arguments “according to the Scriptures” (see, for example, Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

Consider Jesus preaching in the synagogue in Nazareth:

“And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captive and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’” (Luke 4:17-21)

Jesus was powerfully arguing “the Bible says” in a way that his hearers in the synagogue clearly understood, and that pattern is found throughout the New Testament. Geerhardus Vos underlines this fact when he states, with reference to the Kingdom of God: “The first thing to be noticed in Jesus’ utterances on our theme is that they clearly presuppose a consciousness on his part of standing with his work on the basis of the revelation of God in the Old Testament.” In John 5:46-47 Jesus rebuked those who did not believe in him with these words: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Similarly, the Apostles made their arguments for the gospel of Christ with reference to the Old Testament and its testimony to Christ and the saving purpose of God. At no point in the New Testament is the Old Testament dismissed. Rather, as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”(Matthew 5:17-19)

The pattern is promise and fulfillment, not rejection and repudiation. This is true even in the case of Acts 15, with the apostles citing the authority of Amos 9:11-12 and even citing the binding authority of Genesis 9:4 on the Gentile believers. Again, the pattern is promise and fulfillment. Andy Stanley argues that the Old Testament should not be cited as “the go-to source regarding any behavior in the church,” but the moral law of the Old Testament remains honored by the church and repeated (even intensified) in the New Testament.

Peter, James, and Paul did not “unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish Scriptures,” nor can we.

We are looking here at the ancient heresy of Marcion, who argued that the Old Testament must be repudiated by the church. Marcion, who lived about the years 85-160, taught that the Old Testament revealed a Creator deity who is not even the same God who sent Jesus. Unsurprisingly, he also held to a heretical Christology. The Old Testament deity was repugnant to Marcion, who argued that Christianity just make a clean break from Judaism. The Old Testament, he taught, reveals a vindictive law-giving creator deity who bears no resemblance to the merciful redeeming God revealed in Jesus Christ. As Irenaeus, one of the most significant church fathers argued, “Marcion himself divides God in two, saying that one is good, the other judicial, and in so doing takes God away from both.”

Marcion was embarrassed by the Old Testament, and so are many modern people. Andy Stanley, at the very least, seems to fear that embarrassment in others, even if he does not identify with it himself.

He spoke this way with Jonathan Merritt: “I’m convinced that we make a better case for Jesus if we leave the Old Testament or the old covenant out of the argument.” We can make a better case for Jesus than the case Jesus made for himself?

But the embarrassment comes through clearly in Andy Stanley’s comments in the interview. He spoke of people who have “lost their faith” because they read the Old Testament, and then said this:

It’s the same God. But he was doing two different things. All that differentiating between those things is so important. Again, in this sermon, I said, ‘Hey, it’s time that we face the facts and unhitch our faith and our practice from some of these Old Testament values that we can appreciate in their original context, but we really don’t have any business dragging them into a modern context.’”

To be clear, Andy Stanley does not endorse the full heresy of Marcionism, which was universally condemned by the early church. He actually appears to aim for the heresy of Marcionism, and his hearers are certainly aimed in that direction. He clearly says that God is the same God in both testaments, but says that he reveals himself in two completely different ways. Just like Marcion, he argues that the church must “unhitch” from the Old Testament. He actually says: “I am convinced for the sake of this generation and the next generation, we have to rethink our apologetic as Christians, and the less we depend on the Old Testament to prop up our New Testament faith the better because of where we are in [the] culture.”

The church cannot “unhitch” from the Old Testament without unhitching from the gospel Jesus preached. Speaking of the Old Testament Scriptures, Jesus said “it is they that bear witness about me.” (John 5:39)

Alarmingly, in the podcast Stanley questions whether Jesus actually meant his own references to Old Testament narratives to be taken as historical. He said: “Then a person has to decide, okay, well actually Jesus references the Garden of Eden, or he references in the beginning when God created the first two people, he references Jonah. Then you have to decide when the Son of God references these people and these incidences and these prophets, what did he mean? I am comfortable, not everybody is, but I am comfortable letting the conversation go from there.”

It is very instructive to remember that the most influential theological liberal of the twentieth century, Adolf von Harnack, chose Marcion as his theological hero. Why? Because, like Marcion, he wanted to reduce Christianity to what he claimed to be its essence, the benevolent fatherhood of God. All the doctrines of orthodox Christianity, including the doctrines concerning the divinity of Christ, were dismissed as either Jewish or Greco-Roman encrustations.

[By the way, I am sure that Andy Stanley means no anti-Semitism in referring to the Old Testament as the “Jewish Scriptures, but this use does have the implied effect of identifying these Scriptures only with the Jewish people, and not with Christianity. But the Christian identification of the Old Testament as the “Jewish Scriptures” has a dangerous pedigree. In any regard, Adolf von Harnack must also be remembered as seeking to champion Marcion within German Protestantism just as anti-Semitism was rising once again with deadly power in Germany. As Alister McGrath notes, “Sadly, Marcionism is a heresy that seems to be revived with every resurgence of anti-Semitism.”]

The issues actually reach deeper. In recent years, Andy Stanley has encouraged getting over “the Bible tells me so.” He actually claimed in 2016 that the church veered into “trouble” when it began to make its arguments on the basis of the Bible. He cited “deconversion” stories in which people told him that they lost their Christian faith when they lost confidence in the Bible. He said: “If the Bible is the foundation of your faith, here’s the problem: it’s all or nothing. Christianity becomes a fragile house of cards religion.”

In the podcast interview, he gives us another glimpse of what he means:

“Now, for you and me, it is much easier for us to embrace all of those things as historical primarily because of how we were raised, but I totally get when a 25-year-old or a 35-year-old comes to faith in Jesus and then starts reading the Old Testament. They’re kind of looking like, ‘Really?’ Well, you know, that’s difficult, but that doesn’t undermine my faith, and I would never press somebody to say, ‘Well if you can’t accept all of it as historically true, then you can’t really be a Christian.’ I think that’s a little bit absurd.”

But another key question is whether one can be a faithful Christian while denying the truthfulness of Scripture. Jesus himself makes the point that without the Old Testament as the Word of God, we really do not know who he is. Then what does it mean to be a Christian?

As we sing, Jesus Christ is the church’s one foundation, but we cannot know him apart from the Bible.

In this latest interview, Andy Stanley also suggests that “Christianity ultimately and eventually created the Bible.” That is consistent with Roman Catholic theology, but not with evangelical Christianity. In the interview Stanley affirmed again that affirmation of the virgin birth is not necessary. He had earlier stated, “If someone can predict their own death and resurrection, I’m not all that concerned about how they got into the world.”

But the New Testament is very concerned about how Jesus got into the world, and if he was not conceived by the Holy Spirit, then he was conceived in some other way. Here we need to remember that the etymology of heresy is rooted in choice. A heretic denies a belief central and essential to Christianity. But heresy also takes the form of choice. You can choose to believe in the virgin birth or not, Stanley argues; he is not all that concerned about it.

Several years ago, I argued that Andy Stanley represents a new face of theological liberalism. In our day, he is playing the role that was played by Harry Emerson Fosdick in the early twentieth century. Stanley may not intend to play that role — he sees himself as an apologist.

So did Fosdick. He sought to rescue Christianity from itself, from its doctrines and truth claims. He cited his own “deconversion” stories as justification for remaking Christianity.

He also sought to “unhitch” Christianity from the Old Testament. In his famous 1923-1924 Beecher Lectures on Preaching at Yale, Fosdick called for a new, modern understanding of the Bible. This would require jettisoning what were for him and many others the embarrassing parts of the Old Testament. He described the effort to retain much of the Old Testament as “intellectually ruinous and morally debilitating.” To the young preachers of that day, Fosdick argued: “The Old Testament exhibits many attitudes indulged in by men and ascribed to God which represent early stages in a great development, and it is alike intellectually ruinous and morally debilitating to endeavor to harmonize those early ideals with the revelations of the great prophets and the Gospels.”

Here we go again.

_________________________________

Harry Emerson Fosdick, The Modern Use of the Bible (New York: Macmillan, 1924), p. 27.

Alister McGrath, Heresy: A History of Defending the Truth (New York: HarperCollins, 2009), p. 131.

Irenaeus quote from Judith M. Lieu, Marcion and the Making of a Heretic: God and Scripture in the Second Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015), pp. 36-37.

Mark Hamilton, “From Hebrew Bible to Christian Bible: Jews, Christians, and the Word of God,”  (PBS FrontLine, April 1998). http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/first/scriptures.html

R. Albert Mohler Jr. signature
CBD logo

The King’s Copy and the Rule of Law

If Yeshua is the king of the Jews, then the laws that pertain to Jewish kings apply to Him. Even the Messiah is not above the rule of law.

2a258ea41ec3cd79e1ddc0af719ff314

SHOFTIM

The commandment “to write a personal copy of the scroll of the Torah” applies to the king of Israel. This provision was meant to ensure that the king himself submits to the rule of law and does not become a despot without accountability or boundaries. The king writes a copy of the Torah so “that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen” (Deuteronomy 17:20). In other words, the king is subject to the laws of Torah just like everybody else in the kingdom.

He has no sovereign exemptions. He has no royal exception or special immunity. By writing a copy of the Torah for himself, the king reminded himself that he is not above God’s law. In the eyes of the Torah, the king is just another citizen of God’s kingdom.

The king of Israel must immerse himself in the Torah. He must write his own copy of the Torah onto a scroll. He is to keep it with him always, and he is to read and study from it every day of his life. He cannot turn away from the commandments in the Torah, neither to the right nor to the left. Even the king of Israel must obey the Torah of God. He must submit himself to it as a standard for conduct and administration.

“He shall write for himself a copy of this Torah on a scroll,” when he goes to war, he takes it out with him; when he comes back, he is to bring it back with him; when he is in session in court, it is to be with him, when he is reclining, it is to be before him, as it is written, “It shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life.” (m.Sanhedrin 2:4)

We refer to this basic ethic as the rule of law. We can compare it to the way the constitution of a governing body functions in the modern world. In theory, a nation’s constitutional principle presides over both the governed and the government. In the constitutional model, ultimate sovereignty is vested in the constitution that formed the government, not in the government.

This is the theory of modern politics in the free world. For example, in the United States of America, the constitution lays out the parameters for American government. Ostensibly, the government can legislate and govern only within those parameters. No government official may over-step the bounds of the national constitution. Government officials are subject to the rule of the constitution and the legislation spawned by it, just as private citizens are. Without the rule of law, a government would be able to rule capriciously and without mitigation, as is often the case in dictatorships and rogue states where law has collapsed and absolute power has prevailed.

In God’s economy, the Torah functions as the constitution over Israel’s government. No one is above God’s Torah because no one is above God. His word has the final authority, and even the king may not transgress it.

Without the rule of law, the ethics of the Torah are reduced to simply good advice: the commandments become 613 suggestions. We often hear Bible teachers state that the rule of law in Torah does not apply to believers. In so doing, they place believers on a plane of authority even above the kings of Israel and the Messiah Himself.

According to Deuteronomy 17, if Yeshua is a true king of Israel, He must “keep Torah all the days of his life” and “carefully observe all the words of the Torah” and “not turn aside from the commandment to the right or the left” (Deuteronomy 17:20). Yeshua was not above the rule of law. If He broke the Torah, He committed a sin. (Click to Source)

 

Go to Oil From Above for all of your Hemp CBD Oil needs.

 

Returning to God

by John Parsons
Hebrew for Christians
Hebrew4Christians.com
maxresdefault

The theme of the High Holy Days is teshuvah (הָ ובּשְּ ֹח ,(a Hebrew word often
translated as “repentance,” though more accurately understood as turning back
(shuv) to God. In spiritual terms, teshuvah may be regarded as a practical
turning away from evil and a turning toward the good, though it is simpler to
regard turning to God as the means by which we turn away from evil. Indeed,
the Greek word translated repentance (meta´noia) means going beyond our
habitual thinking, changing our mind, and learning to see from a radically
new perspective. As we look to God, we begin to see that “everything is
new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

Teshuvah (repentance) believes that the kindness of God can give life to our
dead hearts, and therefore it is first of all a matter of faith, trusting God to
perform the miracle for us. However, even though it is a great gift from Heaven,
repentance requires honesty and acknowledgment of the truth. We must confess
our inner poverty, our neediness, and mourn the loss and harm caused by our
sin (Matt. 5:1–12). Repentance turns away from attempts to defend or justify
ourselves and instead turns to God to heal our separation from Him (Rom. 8:3–4).

Teshuvah buries our old nature when we are made into a new creation.
Yeshua illustrated the heart behind teshuvah in the story of the “prodigal son”
(Luke 15:11–32). After squandering his inheritance from his father, the wayward
son returned home, full of shame and self-reproach. “But while he was still
a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he
ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” The father ordered
a celebratory meal in honor of his son’s homecoming. When the older brother
objected, the father said, “We had to celebrate and be glad, for your brother
was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.”

This parable reveals that teshuvah ultimately means returning to the compassionate
arms of your Heavenly Father. God sees you while you are still “a long way
off” (Rom. 5:8). He runs to you with affection when you begin to turn your heart
toward Him. Indeed, God’s compassion is so great that He willingly embraces
the shame of your sins and adorns you with “a fine robe, a ring, and sandals.”
Your Heavenly Father even slaughters the “fatted calf” (Yeshua) so that a meal celebrating your life may be served. Amen. Teshuvah is a gift from God and the very reason that we celebrate the High Holidays.

(Click to Source)

CBD logo

Monsoon rains kill 58 in India, as buildings collapse and streets flood

Updated 

10047338-3x2-700x467

PHOTO: India is hit by annual monsoon rains from June through to October. (AP: Bikas Das)

At least 58 people have died in monsoon rains which have caused houses to collapse and flooded wide areas of land in northern India.

Weather officials predicted more rains in the next 48 hours in India’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh.

The deaths have been occurring since Thursday night, government spokesman Awanish Awasthi said.

Most of the victims died on Friday in Agra, the northern city where the white marble Taj Mahal is located,.

The dead included four members of a family whose house collapsed, he said.

10047330-3x2-700x467

PHOTO: Indian men push a car through a flooded street in Ahmadabad. (AP: Ajit Solanki)

 

Rains also damaged an outer boundary wall of a 16th century fortress west of Agra.

However, there was no damage to the main monument, said another official, PK Singh.

Mr Singh said schools were being closed.

The monsoon season usually lasts until October.

In 2016, floods caused by the monsoon rains killed more than 300 and affected 6 million people. (Click to Source)

AP/ABC
Go to Oil From Above for all of your Hemp CBD Oil needs.

Torah Reading – One New Man Bible – Va’etchanan – July 28, 2018

Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11

3:23. “And I implored the LORD* at that time saying, 24. ‘LORD* God, You have begun to show Your greatness and Your mighty hand to Your servant, for what god is in heaven or on earth that can do according to Your words and according to Your might? 25. I pray You, let me go over and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan, that goodly mountain and Lebanon.’ 26. But the LORD* ignored, passed by, my plea for your sake and would not hear me. And the LORD* said to me, ‘Let it be enough for you! Speak no more to Me of this matter. 27. Get up to the top of Pisgah and lift up your eyes westward, northward, southward, and eastward and behold with your eyes, for you will not go over this Jordan. 28. But charge Joshua, encourage him and strengthen him, for he will go over before this people and he will cause them to inherit the land, which you will see.’

3:29. “So we Stayed in the valley over against Beit-Peor.”

Moses Summarizes the Commandments

4.1. “Now therefore listen, O Israel, to the statutes and to the judgments, which I am teaching you, to do them, so you will live and go in and possess the land which the LORD* God of your fathers gives you. 2.You will not add to the word which I command you, neither will you take anything from it, so you can keep the commandments of the LORD* your God which I command you. (Rev. 22:19)

image

3. Your eyes have seen what the LORD* did because of Baal-Peor, for all the men who followed Baal-Peor, the LORD* your God has destroyed them from among you. 4.But you who grasped the LORD* your God are alive, everyone of you this day. 5.Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD* my God commanded me, that you should do so in the land where you go to possess it.

6. Therefore keep and do them, for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the eyes of the peoples that will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. 7. For what nation is there so great that God is so near to them, as the LORD* our God is in all things that we call upon Him for?’ 8. And what nation is there so great that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this Torah, which I AM giving you this day? 9. Only take heed to yourself and keep your inner beings diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life, but make them known to your sons and your sons’ sons. 10. The day that you stood before the LORD* your God in Horeb, when the LORD* said to me, ‘Gather the people together for Me and I shall make them hear My words so they can learn to revere Me all the days that they will live upon the earth, and so they can teach their children.’ 11. And you came near and stood under the mountain and the mountain burned with fire to the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. 12.And the LORD* spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no other person, only a voice.

4:13. “And He declared to you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, ten statements, and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. 14. And the LORD* commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, so you could do them in the land where you go to possess it. 15. Therefore take good heed to yourselves, for you saw no manner of a person or figure on the day the LORD* spoke to you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire, 16. lest you corrupt yourselves, and make for yourselves a graven image, the likeness of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17. the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flies in the air, 18. the likeness of anything that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth, 19. and lest you lift up your eyes to heaven and when you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, and are led astray to worship them and serve them, which the LORD* your God has divided to all people under the whole heaven. 20.But the LORD* has taken you and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be to Him a people of inheritance, as you are this day. 21. Furthermore the LORD* was angry with me for your sake and swore that I should not go over the Jordan, and that I should not go in to that good land, which the LORD* your God gives you for an inheritance, 22. but I must die in this land. I must not go over the Jordan, but you will go over and possess that good land. 23. Be careful for yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD* your God, which He made with you and you make a graven image, the likeness of anything, which the LORD* your God has forbidden you. 24.For the LORD* your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Heb. 12:29)

4:25. “When you beget children and children’s children and you have remained long in the land and corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, the likeness of anything, and do evil in the sight of the LORD* your God, to provoke Him to anger, 26. I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that you will soon utterly perish from off the land where you are going over the Jordan to possess it. You will not prolong your days upon it, but will be utterly destroyed. 27. And the LORD* will scatter you among the peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where the LORD* will lead you. 28. And there you will serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell. 29. But if from there you will seek the LORD* your God, you will find Him, if you seek Him with all your heart and with your whole being. 30.When you are in tribulation and all these things have come upon you in the latter days, if you turn to the LORD* your God, and are obedient to His voice, 31. for the LORD* your God is a compassionate God, He will not forsake you or destroy you or forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.

4:32. “For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven to the other, whether there has been any such thing as this great thing is, or has been heard like it? 33. Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live?34. Or has God attempted to take for Himself a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, by wonders, by war, by a mighty hand, by an outstretched arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD* your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35. It was shown to you so you would know that the LORD*, He is God. There is no one else besides Him. 36. He made you to hear His voice out from heaven so He could instruct you, and upon earth He showed you His great fire and you heard His words out of the midst of the fire. 37. And because He loved your fathers, therefore He chose their seed after them and in His sight He brought you out from Egypt with His mighty power 38. to drive out nations from before you, greater and mightier than you are, to bring you in, to give you their land for an inheritance as it is this day. 39. Know therefore this day and consider it in your heart, that the LORD* He is God in heaven above and upon the earth beneath. There is no other. 40. Therefore you will keep His statutes and His commandments, which I command you this day, so it will go well with you and with your children after you, and that you will prolong your days upon the earth, which the LORD* your God gives you forever.

Three Cities of Refuge in the East

4:41. Then Moses set apart three cities on the east side of the Jordan toward the sunrising 42. so the slayer could flee there, who kills his neighbor unawares and did not hate him in times past, and that fleeing to one of these cities he might live:

43. Bezer in the wilderness in the plain country of the Reubenites, Ramoth in Gilead of the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan of the Manassites.”

4:44. And this is the teaching which Moses set before the children of Israel.

45. These are the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spoke to the children of Israel after they came out of Egypt 46. on this side of the Jordan, in the valley over against Beit-Peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites who lived at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel struck after they had come out of Egypt, 47. and they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, who were on this side of the Jordan toward the sunrising, 48. from Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon, even to Mount Sion, which is Hermon, 49.and all the plain on this side of the Jordan eastward, even to the sea of the plain under the slopes of Pisgah.

Resuming the Commandments

5.1. And Moses called all Israel and said to them, “Listen! Obey, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day so you can learn them and keep and do them! 2.The LORD* our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3.The LORD* did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. 4. The LORD* talked with you face to face on the mountain out of the midst of the fire. 5. I was standing between the LORD* and you at that time, to tell you the Word of the LORD*, for you were afraid by reason of the fire, and did not go up on the mountain. He was saying,

The Ten Statements

5:6. “I AM the LORD* your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.

5:7. “You will have no other gods before Me.

5:8. “You will not make for yourself any carved or molded image, or any likeness of anything that is in the sky above, or that is in the earth below, or that is in the waters beneath the earth.

5:9. “You will not bow down yourself to them, or serve them, for I AM the LORD* your God, a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, 10. and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments.

5:11. “You will not take the name of the LORD* your God in vain, for the LORD* will not hold guiltless who takes His name in vain.

5:12. “Keep the Sabbath to sanctify it, as the LORD* your God has commanded you. 13. Six days you will labor and do all your work, 14. but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD* your God, you will not do any work, you, your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your ox, your donkey, any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates, so your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as you. 15. And remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD* your God brought you out from there through a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD* your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

5:16. “Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD* your God has commanded you, so your days may be prolonged and so it may go well with you in the land which the LORD* your God gives you. (Eph. 6:3)

5:17. “You will not murder.

“Neither will you commit adultery.

“Neither will you steal:

“Neither will you bear false witness against your neighbor.

5:18. “Neither will you desire your neighbor’s wife, nor will you covet your neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

5:19. “The LORD* spoke these words to all your assembly in the mountain out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness with a great voice, and He added no more. And He wrote them on two tablets of stone and delivered them to me.

5:20. “And it was, when you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain burned with fire, that you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes, and your elders 21. and you said, ‘Behold, the LORD* our God has shown us His glory and His greatness and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God does talk with man, and he lives. 22. Now therefore, why should we die? For this great fire will consume us if we hear the voice of the LORD* our God any more, then we will die. 23. For who is there of all flesh, who has heard the voice of the Living God speaking out of the midst of the fire as we have, and lived?24. Go near and hear all that the LORD* our God will say and speak to us everything that the LORD* our God will speak to you and we will hear it and do it.’

5:25. “And the LORD* heard the sound of your words when you spoke to me and the LORD* said to me, ‘I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken to you: they have well said all that they have spoken. 26. Othat there were such a heart in them that they would revere Me and keep all My commandments always, so it would be well with them and with their children forever. 27. Go! Say to them, “Get into your tents again!” 28. But as for you, stand here by Me and I shall speak to you all the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which you will teach them, so they may do them in the land which I AM giving them to possess. 29. You will observe to do therefore as the LORD* your God has commanded you: you will not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 30. You will walk in all the Ways which the LORD* your God has commanded you, so you can live and that it may be well with you and you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.’”

Commandments, Statutes, and Judgments

6.1. “Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD* Your God commanded to teach you, so you would do them in the land where you go to possess it, 2. so you would revere the LORD* your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command you: you, your son, and your son’s son, all the days of your life and so your days may be prolonged. 3. Therefore hear, O Israel and observe to do it, so it may be well with you, and so you may increase mightily as the LORD* God of your fathers has promised you in the land that flows with milk and honey.”

The Sh’ma

6:4. “Listen! Obey, O Israel! The LORD* is our God! The LORD* is One!

5. And you will love the LORD* your God with all your heart, with your very being, and with all your might. (Matt. 22:37, Mark 12:33, Luke 10:27) 6. And these words, which I am commanding you this day, will be in your heart 7. and you will teach them diligently to your children, and you will talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8. And you will bind them as a sign upon your hand (Pro. 7:3), and they will be as frontlets between your eyes. 9. And you will write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

6:10. “And it will be, when the LORD* your God has brought you into the land which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob to give you great and good cities which you did not build, 11. and houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, and wells dug, which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees, which you did not plant. When you have eaten and are full, 12.watch out for yourselves so you do not forget the LORD*, Who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 13. You will revere the LORD* your God, serve Him, and will swear by His name. (Matt. 4:10, Luke 4:8) 14. You will not go after other gods, of the gods of the people that are all around you, 15.for the LORD* your God is a jealous God among you, or the anger of the LORD* your God will be kindled against you and destroy you from off the face of the earth.

6:16. “You will not tempt the LORD* your God, (Matt. 4:7, Luke 4:12) as you tempted Him in Massah. (Exod. 17:7) 17. You will diligently keep the commandments of the LORD* your God, His testimonies, and His statutes, which He has commanded you. 18. And you will do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD*, so it will be well with you and so you can go in and possess the good land which the LORD* swore to your fathers, 19. to cast out all your enemies from before you, as the LORD* has spoken.

6:20. “And when your son asks you in time to come saying, “What are the testimonies, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD* our God has commanded you? 21. Then you will say to your son, we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and the LORD* brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand, 22. and the LORD* showed signs and wonders, great and bad upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household before our eyes. 23. And He brought us out from there, so He could bring us in to give us the land which He swore to our fathers. 24. And the LORD* commanded us to do all these statutes, to revere the LORD* our God for our good always, so He could preserve us alive, as it is at this day. 25. And it will be our acts of loving kindness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD* our God, as He has commanded us.”

Deal With Your Conquered Foes

7.1. “When the LORD* your God brings you into the land where you are going to possess it and has cast out many nations before you, the Hittite, the Gergashite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, seven nations greater and mightier than you, 2. and when the LORD* your God delivers them before you and you strike them, utterly destroying them, you will make no covenant with them or show them favor. 3. Neither will you make marriages with them! You will not give your daughter to his son, nor will you take his daughter for your son. 4. For they will turn away your son from following Me so they may serve other gods, so the anger of the LORD* will be kindled against you and destroy you suddenly. 5. But this is how you will deal with them: you will destroy their altars, break down their images, cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. 6. For you are a holy people to the LORD* your God. The LORD* your God has chosen you to be special people for Himself, above all the people that are on the face of the earth.

7. The LORD* did not set His love upon you, nor choose you because you were more in number than any people, for you were the fewest of all people, 8. but because the LORD* loved you and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn to your fathers, the LORD* has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9. Know therefore that the LORD* is your God! He is God, the Faithful God Who keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love Him and keep His commandments, to a thousand generations 10. and repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack to the one who hates Him, He will repay him to his face. 11. Therefore you will keep the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which I command you this day, to do them.”

CBD logo

Former CIA Officer: Clinton “Involved In Biggest Treason In History”

By Greg Hunter

clinton-witch-l

July 20, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –  Former CIA Officer and whistleblower Kevin Shipp says what Hillary Clinton did with her charity and Uranium One while she was Secretary of State was a crime for the history books.  Shipp explains, “Hillary Clinton used this to launder money in foreign banks so it wasn’t subject to U.S. laws, congressional subpoenas or FOIA demands for the evidence.  This was done to launder this money globally into the Clinton Foundation so the U.S. government could not examine it at all.” 

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller was the head of the FBI while the Uranium One deal was being done by Clinton and the Russians.  One fifth of U.S. uranium production was bought by the Russians in a deal Clinton pushed and approved.  The Clinton Foundation received more than $140 million from some of the same Russian players who were involved with Uranium One.  Why didn’t Mueller stop the deal?  Shipp says, “Mueller is either a complete moron, which he is not, or he overlooked the biggest counterterrorism cases in U.S. history.  It involved Hillary Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, Uranium One and, of course, the destruction of all the emails and evidence and her secret server, and on and on and on it goes, and he (Mueller) ignored it all.”

How did she get away with obvious crime?  Shipp says, “The most bizarre thing is the people who protected her from clear felonious activity and violations of the Espionage Act.  James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, was protecting her and leaking things to the media and lying.  You had John Brennan, Director of the CIA, protecting her by starting a false investigation (on Trump) and stirring things up with this (false/unverified) dossier.  You had James Comey, Director of the FBI, protecting her. . . . Then, you’ve got Peter Strzok protecting her, and now it appears the United Kingdom GCHQ was using NSA information to target Donald Trump and protect Hillary Clinton.  You have to ask yourself what kind of power or connections does this woman have to get all of these members of the Deep State, Shadow Government to risk their own criminal penalties to protect her and try to get her elected?  That is the Shadow Government.  That is the Deep State.  That is what is so chilling about this whole thing. . . . This is deep.  This is dark.  This is as dark as it gets, and this is the biggest espionage case involving government officials in the history of this country.”

Shipp also points out that, this time, it will not be business as usual for the “Deep State and Shadow Government.”  They are going to be brought to justice because Shipp says, “indictments are coming because of Donald Trump coming into the White House from the outside.  Trump cannot be bribed.”  (Click to Source)

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

Go to Oil From Above for all of your Hemp CBD Oil needs.

%d bloggers like this: