Monday, July 30, 2012
By guest contributor, Ken Rank
There is a disturbing and very avoidable trend occurring within the Hebrew Roots movement, a denial of Paul as an Apostle and teacher. The thought is, that Paul is teaching within his letters that we do not need to obey God and that Torah (God’s instructions, Law) has been done away with. Because of this, some who have come to walk in Torah yet still have the testimony of Yehoshua (Jesus) are publicly debasing Paul, using terms like false teacher, false apostle, and false prophet. I find this to be personally disturbing as it was through Paul’s writings that I came to walk in Torah myself.
I believe the problem rests on one simple fact; the Hebrew Roots movement is still filled with people who think in a Western Greek influenced mindset. What I mean is, we are “born into” a society which is Greek influenced, and the Greek paradigm stands at odds with the Hebraic. The Greek language is extremely concrete (as is English) but its application is very abstract. Things tend to be more “spiritualized” according to Greek thinking, whereas the opposite is true when it comes to the Hebraic. There, the language is extremely abstract, but the application of it is very concrete. So most of the Western world is raised with a Greek influence, a Greek paradigm, we very much tend to spiritualize any interpretation regardless of whether or not the author of the work we spiritualize intended his thoughts to be interpreted in that manner. Case in point is Paul. The Apostle Paul was a Jew. He was of the Tribe of Benjamin, which was part of Judea; he was also a Pharisee (from Beit Hillel, the House or School of Hillel) and one who was very much in tune with the culture as well as the exegetical (interpretational) methods of that day.
When somebody from the Western world is raised in a Christian society, his paradigm is Greek centered. Meaning, he is raised to look at form rather than function, and apply what he sees in scripture abstractly or spiritually, rather than concretely. When that same person comes to Torah and begins to keep the Feasts, he is now taking part in things more Hebraic in nature and he has come to see that when God calls something everlasting it remains everlasting, but he is still thinking from a Greek paradigm. So while he understands that the Sabbath is a sign between God and His people for ALL generations, he can't align Paul to that statement because Paul might have said something like, “you are no longer under the law, you are under grace.” The notion that his understanding about the Sabbath and a statement like this by Paul is not in conflict, is missed. The reason it is missed is simply that the Greek thinking Torah keeper is not thinking from the same paradigm a writer like Paul was using. Understand, I am not saying Paul did not write using abstract terms, he did… but he intended for a concrete application of them, whereas the culture we are raised in gives his work an abstract application. Assuming Paul wrote Hebrews, an example would be Hebrews 4:9 which states, “There remains a Sabbath keeping for the people of God.” Because “rest” is the translation in most bible versions of sabbatismos here (it literally means “a Sabbath keeping”), and because we are raised to spiritualize our interpretations, this is taught to mean we are to somehow spiritually “rest in Jesus,” leaving no room for the concrete interpretation that “there remains a Sabbath keeping for the people of God.”
Regarding Paul, Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:16, “in all his letters, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which the unlearned and unstable pervert, as also they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.” How this happens is quite simple… We are unlearned! It is not a crime nor is it sin to be lacking understanding. If Paul is speaking regarding cultural nuances of that day or using certain abstract terminology to make a concrete point, and we are not taught to recognize these things, we simply miss them. Paul makes use of metaphors often. He calls Messiah a lamb, even when Messiah lacks 4 legs and a tail. Paul refers to himself as a sacrifice, even though God does not accept human sacrifice nor does the death of Paul do anything to reverse death and decay. Yet we don’t always recognize metaphors being used! Additionally, Paul uses Hebrew idioms, an example of which I just used, “under the law.” We see Paul say “you are not under the law” and think with our Greek minds, “We don’t have to bother with the OT anymore.” When the truth is, not being under the law is no longer being guilty. We are not “under the law” (guilty) we are “under grace” (free to worship and obey without fear from God or man). Furthermore, Paul is often employing an exegetical tool (a biblical interpretational tool) discovered by Hillel, the grandfather of Paul’s teacher Gamaliel, which directly effects context in ways most simply do not understand. The trouble is, we are raised in a religious culture that not only doesn’t teach us these tools that Paul is using, we don’t even know they exist! Yet, they affect context in ways that are almost unsettling when you first come to recognize and apply them.
Why is any of this important? Well, in the last decade there have been tens of thousands who have denied Messiah and converted to Judaism. Many of them have since left Judaism because, quite frankly, the answers they seek can’t be found within that religion either. Thus, many once joyful Christians, who became bitter and hate filled “Messianic Christians,” when they could not reconcile Paul they eventually become atheists. If you are one who has not seen this happen, believe me, it happens far more often than you can imagine. How it happens is actually very simple…
Once a person can’t reconcile Paul to the new set of facts they have been exposed to, they eventually must reject the entire NT because of all the other author’s allegiance to Paul. For example, Peter in the verse prior to the one I quoted above says Paul is the “beloved brother Paul.” If Paul then is a false apostle, then Peter must also be rejected because he considers Paul a beloved brother. In Acts 15 James calls Paul beloved, Luke doesn’t balk at recounting that, and apparently no other of Messiah’s disciples stand against Paul at any time in a manner suggesting he wasn’t anything but an Apostle of our Lord. Thus, again, if Paul is false, they all must be false as well for not taking a stand against the supposed false apostle Paul. To remain intellectually consistent, the person who can't reconcile Paul and eventually rejects him, will at some future time reject the rest of the NT authors because they stand for Paul.
This is the pattern that has been repeated thousands of times by brethren who suffer only from a lack of facts and some tools, which if they had them, they would see that Paul lived and breathed Torah. He didn’t stand against it, he was directing us to it.
I do not exalt Paul; I do not exalt any man. I am defending him because he is defendable and worth defending. If the disciples of Messiah, the ones who walked with Messiah, considered Paul a beloved brother, than I would think any modern interpretation that makes Paul out to be anything less than a beloved brother, is not coming from God! And when we give way to the Adversary and take that one small step away from Paul, we begin to take that one giant leap toward a denial of Yehoshua and/or atheism.
Thank you Ken, very well said. I have often put it this way, and this is a principle that I follow in all my teaching and writing, that the Apostle Paul, as well as the rest of scripture, must be self-interpreting, that is self-consistent. All scripture must be understood from within its historic, cultural and linguistic context. None can be interpreted in isolation of another. Without this self consistent interpretation, we are subject to be blown about by every wind of doctrine that comes our way.
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart
Visit our web site at www.moedministries.com
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The Priestly blessing – Numbers 6:22-27
There is a well-known passage of scripture consisting of just a few short verses contained in the Torah Portion reading from this last week. It is one of my favorite passages in the Torah Portion called Nasso, which means “lift up”. It is known as the Aaronic Benediction or Priestly Blessing. This blessing is found in Numbers chapter 6 verses 22 through 27.
Numbers 6:22-27 NKJV 22 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 23 "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them: 24 "The LORD bless you and keep you; 25 The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; 26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."' 27 "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them."
What is the significance of this passage being in the Torah Portion Nasso, or “lift up”?
According to Jewish tradition as recorded in the Talmud, the priests, that is the sons of Aaron, were the only ones who were authorized to give this blessing. The blessing would be bestowed after the daily offering and lighting of the menorah. The priests would come out of the temple and line up at the top of the steps. They would lift both arms and from the shape of the letter shin with their hands. The letter shin looks somewhat like a “w” and is the first letter God’s name “Shaddai.” The name El Shaddai means God Almighty—the God who is all sufficient. The priest lifts up his arms and makes the shape of the shin in order to fulfill the commandment as stated in Numbers 6:27
Numbers 6:27 NKJV 27 "So they shall put My name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them."
Because of this habit of lifting the hands to bestow the blessing, the phrase, “lifted up his hands”, became synonymous with giving the Aaronic blessing.
In the synagogues today the cantor calls for the priests, the sons of Aaron, to come to the front of the assembled congregation and give the blessing. Today, just as in temple times, the son of Aaron giving the blessing will lift his hands and form the shape of the ancient Hebrew letter Shin with their fingers. If there is no one from the lineage of the priesthood present, anyone can be called upon to give the blessing.
In Yeshua’s day, a person who was not a priest could not both raise his hands and pronounce the blessing. If he did it would be transgressing the commandment as given to Moses, specifically taking on the role of the priesthood. Two kings of Israel were punished for trying to take on the role of a priest. The first one was King Saul. He lost his kingdom for making a sacrifice without a priest. 1st Samuel 13:8-9 and 13-14
1 Samuel 13:8-9 NKJV 8 Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. 9 So Saul said, "Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me." And he offered the burnt offering.
1 Samuel 13:13-14a 13 And Samuel said to Saul, "You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 "But now your kingdom shall not continue.
Later, King Uzziah, king of Judah after Israel was split into two kingdom, became a leper for attempting to offer incense before the LORD. 2nd Chronicles 26:18-20
2 Chronicles 26:18-20 NKJV 18 And they withstood King Uzziah, and said to him, "It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have trespassed! You shall have no honor from the LORD God." 19 Then Uzziah became furious; and he had a censer in his hand to burn incense. And while he was angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead, before the priests in the house of the LORD, beside the incense altar. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and there, on his forehead, he was leprous; so they thrust him out of that place. Indeed he also hurried to get out, because the LORD had struck him.
The Gospel of Luke records that Yeshua, on the day of his ascension, took the disciples out on the Mount of Olives as far as Bethany where he “lifted up his hands and blessed them”. Luke 24:50-53
Luke 24:50-53 NKJV 50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.
The phrasing of this passage indicates that Yeshua spoke the Aaronic benediction over His disciples as He ascended to heaven. Yeshua was not one of the sons of Aaron; He was from the tribe of Judah. So by performing this blessing; by lifting up his hands and making the priestly blessing over His disciples, was he transgressing the commandment for only the sons of Aaron were to do this? Was He performing a rite that only the sons of Aaron were allowed to perform? In order to answer this, let’s look at Hebrews 7:14-17
Hebrews 7:14-17 NKJV 14 For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest 16 who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. 17 For He testifies: "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."
This passage in Hebrews quotes Psalms 110:4
Psalms 110:4 NKJV 4 The LORD has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek."
By lifting His hands and blessing His disciples, Yeshua was asserting His right to a priesthood of a higher order than that of Aaron; He was declaring that His priesthood was of the order of Melchizedek.
Yeshua, as Messiah, not only had the authority to give the blessing, He was the very fulfillment of the blessing. Ephesians 1:3-4
Ephesians 1:3-4 NKJV 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,
It is through Messiah that we Gentiles, along with the Jews, have received all blessings bestowed upon Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as it says in Romans 15:29.
Romans 15:29 NKJV 29 But I know that when I come to you, I shall come in the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ.
What does it mean for the LORD to bless us, to make His face shine upon us and to lift up His countenance upon us? As we examine this blessing in detail, we will take a look at the original Hebrew language and see what it really means.
The first line of the blessing is Numbers 6:24
Numbers 6:24 NKJV 24 "The LORD bless you and keep you;
There are two Hebrew words in particular to pay attention to. The first one is the word translated “you.” Although this blessing is normally spoken over a large group of people, the Hebrew word implies a singular context, as if the blessing is for a single individual. It’s like God is speaking directly to you and no one else.
The other word is “bless.” What does it mean for God to bless us? Aren’t we supposed to be the ones blessing God? The word “bless” is translated from the Hebrew word Barak. It is #1288 in the Strong’s Dictionary. It is a primitive root; meaning to kneel; by implication to bless God (as an act of adoration). But in this blessing it is God who wants to bless us! He wants to kneel before us! He wants to come to us on bended knee with a blessing. The Hebrew word for blessing is “Barakah” number 1293 which aside from meaning a benediction, also, implies a present or a gift! Here in verse 24, when it says “The LORD bless you,” God is coming to you personally bearing a gift. That gift is salvation by His grace through Messiah Yeshua. John 3:16-17
John 3:16-17 NKJV 16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
And the LORD will also keep us and make us able to stand in the presence of His Glory. Jude 1:24-25
Jude 1:24-25 NKJV 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.
The second line of the blessing is Numbers 6:25
Numbers 6:25 NKJV 25 The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you;
The word translated as shine here is “owr” number 215 a primitive root meaning to be or to make luminous, to kindle, set on fire or shine.
The LORD makes His face shine on us filling our lives with light. In Psalms 80, the Psalmist cries out to God for His face to shine on Him knowing that through the light, He will receive salvation. Psalms 80:1-3
Psalms 80:1-3 NKJV 1 Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth! 2 Before Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh, Stir up Your strength, And come and save us! 3 Restore us, O God; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!
The Psalm ends with a prayer for revival, for Messiah to come, and with another call for God’s face to shine so they will be saved! Verses 17-19
Psalms 80:17-19 NKJV 17 Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, Upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. 18 Then we will not turn back from You; Revive us, and we will call upon Your name. 19 Restore us, O LORD God of hosts; Cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved!
The exact phrase we read in verse 3 is repeated here in verse 19 and in verse 7. We clearly see that God’s face shining upon us is connected to his favor and grace.
When God makes his face to shine upon us, His grace will naturally follow. The word “gracious” in the Aaronic Benediction is the Hebrew ‘chanan”, Number #2603, a primitive root meaning to bend or stoop with kindness, to bestow undeserved favor. Again we see the implication of a personal relationship, or a one-on-one encounter between God and the individual on whom God’s face is shining. God’s face shines light into our lives and bestows undeserved favor on us not based on our works, but because He chooses to do so. The result is that we shall be saved!
Messiah is the fulfillment of the grace of God. He is that undeserved gift which God wishes to bestow on us individually. Romans 3:24
Romans 3:24 NKJV 24 being justified freely (undeserved) by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
We are saved through the grace of the LORD as it says in Acts 15:11.
Acts 15:11 NKJV 11 "But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they."
The LORD freely bestows salvation on us according to the riches of His Grace, Ephesians 1:6-8.
Ephesians 1:6-8 NKJV 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence,
The third line of the blessing is Numbers 6:26
Numbers 6:26 NKJV 26 The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace."'
The word translated as “countenance” is the same word translated as “face” in the previous verse. It is number 6440, “paniym.” It is one of those Hebrew oddities in that it is in the plural form but always used in a singular context and has a complex variety of meanings but most often means face. It is from a primitive root word meaning to regard or to have respect.
When the LORD lifts up His countenance, or face, on us He is smiling and is pleased with us.
The last word of the blessing is probably the one Hebrew word we are most familiar with, shalom. It is number 7965 and literally means “peace”. However, peace is only one small part of the meaning of the word Shalom. Shalom is a complex word that implies a great deal more than the lack of conflict or war. A complete definition of the word Shalom includes completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord.
Shalom is word that implies action. In the Hebrew it is spelled with a Shin, a Lamed, a Vav, and a Mem. When you look at the meaning of the individual letters you see that Shalom means to “Destroy the authority of, or which is connected to chaos”. We can be “peacemakers” when we resolve to destroy the authority of chaos in our relationships with each other, with our families, our neighbors, and other authorities, and mostly with our relationship with God. We must remember that this authority to destroy the chaos comes from God and not through our own devices. In the Aaronic Benediction, God smiles on us and grants us His peace, His “shalom”, the “peace of God which surpasses all understanding”. Philippians 4:7
Philippians 4:7 NKJV 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
So in essence, when the blessing concludes with the word Shalom - you are not only promised peace, but all the above meanings of the word! You have been bestowed with the gift of wholeness, fullness, health, welfare and prosperity!
Through this blessing, spoken by Yeshua as His first action as our heavenly High priest, we receive a gift offered by God that is able to protect and keep us. We receive light and undeserved favor into our lives resulting in our salvation. God smiles on us in approval and makes us whole. We have His peace.
Yeshua told His disciples in the Gospel of John 14:27
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (MKJV)
Shalom and may the LORD bless you!
Friday, July 20, 2012
Brenda and I have just released the newly revised edition of our Hebrew Roots Bible study series, Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah, Volume Three. This revised edition contains some new material in all the lessons including discussion questions for your small groups or self study. These questions help you dig deeper into the study and encourage you to research further. As with our previously released revised editions of volumes one and two, this volume contains a CD with the student notes sections and other general handout materials in PDF format for easy printing and distribution to your study group.
Each of the revised editions are printed in a bound paperback form and are available through Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com as well as through El Shaddai ministries and from our own website, www.moedministries.com. Each volume is $18.00 US. For orders outside the US and Canada please order through Amazon.com.
Watch for volume four of this series to be released later this fall!
Shalom and be blessed
Dan & Brenda Cathcart
Sunday, July 15, 2012
On Monday July 9th, Brenda and I presented a teaching at El Shaddai Ministries on "Grace and Truth in the Torah". This teaching will be a lesson in our up coming book "Shadows of the Messiah in the Torah Vol.4" due out this fall. These study books are designed for use by small and/or home based Bible study groups as a way of introducing and digging deeper in to scripture from a Hebrew perspective. They also make for a great self study as well. You can watch this teaching at this link. You can also download the notes and follow along with us.
You can find all of our books on our website book store at www.moedministries.com
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda
You can find all of our books on our website book store at www.moedministries.com
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda
Saturday, July 7, 2012
In a discussion with a friend, the passage in Ephesians 2:14-16 came up to support the idea that the commandments of the Law (Torah) were done away with in Christ. In a superficial reading, this sounds true.
Eph 2:14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross by which he put to death their hostility. (NIV)
First, we need to look at the context of this passage. What is the overall theme that Paul is presenting here? This portion of Paul’s letter begins with verse 11 which argues for the inclusion of the Gentiles with the Jews in the covenants (plural) of promise. The two parties that Paul talks about in verse 14 are Jew and Gentile. Jesus has made Jew and Gentile one abolishing the barrier between them. Young’s Literal Translation of verses 14 and 15 shed additional light on this passage.
Ephesians 2:14-15 YLT 14 for he is our peace, who did make both one, and the middle wall of the enclosure did break down, 15 the enmity in his flesh, the law of the commands in ordinances having done away, that the two he might create in himself into one new man, making peace,
The Literal translation of the NIV phrase “barrier, the dividing wall of hostility” is “the middle wall of the enclosure.” Notice the word hostility isn’t even in the literal text. The term “middle wall of the enclosure” is an idiom that refers specifically to the wall in the temple that separates the court of the Gentiles from the rest of the temple. More generally, it refers to the wall separating the Gentile area of a synagogue from the Jewish area. The Zondervan NIV Study Bible 2008 edition comments on this phrase that “It is used here to describe the total religious isolation Jews and Gentiles experienced from each other.” So, we are not talking about a separation between God and man here which is the context of the Law or Torah, we are talking about the separation between two groups of people. Verse 15 sounds like the law is being abolished but in the literal version it is the enmity or hostility that has been abolished!
So, Jesus abolished the enmity between Jew and Gentile. But what is the “law of the commands in ordinances” that has been done away? Again, quoting from the Zondervan NIV Study Bible 2008 edition:
Since Matthew 5:17 and Romans 3:31 teach that God’s moral standard expressed in the OT law is not changed by the coming of Christ, what is abolished here is probably the effect of the specific commandments and regulations in separating Jews from Gentiles, whose nonobservance of the Jewish law renders them ritually unclean.”
Let’s examine the enmity between Jew and Gentile a little more. At the time of Jesus, the Jewish leadership, the Pharisees, etc. enacted extra regulations separating themselves from their Gentile neighbors. We already mentioned the wall that separated Gentile God-fearers who participated in synagogue worship. They also forbade any Jewish person from eating with a Gentile (Acts 11:2) or even going into the home of a Gentile (John 18:28). These additional “laws” were called a barrier around the Torah. The Greek word used in the Talmud to describe this barrier is the same Greek word used for “wall of the enclosure” in the Ephesians passage. Paul, as a Pharisee, was familiar both with this practice and this phrase. Jesus also refers to these additional man-made laws in Mat. 15:2. The phrase “laws of the commandments in ordinances” could just as easily refer to these man-made laws.
Indeed, this very enmity between Jew and Gentile is easily seen as we continue with this passage in Ephesians. Paul concludes this section on Gentile inclusion in the covenants of promise by calling the inclusion the mystery of the gospel.
Ephesians 3:3 NKJV 3 how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery … 6 that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel.
When Paul went to Jerusalem and proclaimed that Jesus rose from the dead and was the Messiah they were looking for, the Jewish people were willing to listen. But, as soon as he said that Jesus told him to take the message to the Gentiles, the Jewish leaders rose up in anger and rejected his message.
Acts 22:21-22 NKJV 21 "Then He (Jesus) said to me, 'Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.'" 22 And they listened to him until this word, and then they raised their voices and said, "Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live!"
Paul refers to this incident in Acts in the conclusion of his letter to the Ephesians. He says he is in chains because he proclaimed the mystery of the gospel that the Gentiles are included.
Ephesians 6:19-20 NKJV 19 and (pray) for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Finally, before concluding, let’s look a little more at the Gentile inclusion. Paul tells us that this inclusion is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets with Jesus as the cornerstone(Eph. 2:19-20). Where does Jesus and the prophets talk about the inclusion of the Gentiles? Jesus mentions the inclusion of sheep of another flock in John 10:16. The prophet Isaiah writes in three different places that the Messiah will be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6, 60:3). Isaiah 56 explains how the Gentiles will be included in the covenant and have access to God’s temple which will be a house of prayer for all nations.
Isaiah 56:1-8 NKJV 1 Thus says the LORD: "Keep justice, and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come, And My righteousness to be revealed. 2 Blessed is the man who does this, And the son of man who lays hold on it; Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil." 3 Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the LORD Speak, saying, "The LORD has utterly separated me from His people"; Nor let the eunuch say, "Here I am, a dry tree." 4 For thus says the LORD: "To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, 5 Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off. 6 "Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, And to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants-Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant- 7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." 8 The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, "Yet I will gather to him Others besides those who are gathered to him."
The word for salvation in verse 1 is the Hebrew word Yeshua which just happens to be Jesus’ Hebrew name. Isaiah says to keep justice and do righteousness because Yeshua is about to come and God’s righteousness will be revealed. He goes on to say that the foreigners (Gentiles) who join themselves to the LORD in love, keep His Sabbaths, and cling to His covenant will be accepted. The barrier between Jew and Gentile is broken down in Yeshua, God’s salvation.
Now, going back to the Zondervan NIV Study Bible note on Ephesians 2:14-16, what does it mean that “God’s moral standard expressed in the OT law is not changed by the coming of Christ?” The apostle John taught in his first epistle that sin is lawlessness.
1 John 3:4-6 NKJV 4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
Since sin is lawlessness, verse 5 could read that whoever lives in Him does not break the law. Paul tells us that the Law teaches us what sin is.
Romans 3:20 NKJV 20 Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Paul says that not only does faith not do away with the Law, it establishes the Law.
Romans 3:31 NKJV 31 Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law.
We are not justified by the law but are convicted of our sin by knowledge of the Law. From that conviction, we repent and, through faith, receive salvation from our sins. But what comes next; now that we have salvation, shall we continue to sin, that is break the Law? Paul answers that as well.
Romans 6:15 NKJV 15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
So, we are saved through faith and after salvation, we are called to live our lives pleasing to God as defined by His Holy Scriptures. We conclude with the words of Jesus about His followers keeping God’s commandments.
Matthew 5:17-19 NKJV 17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Shalom and be blessed
Dan and Brenda Cathcart
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