Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It's not nice to rejoice over someone else's misfortune

The influx of Muslims into Europe is in the news daily. Europe is being absolutely overwhelmed with myriad Muslims and Christians fleeing the tyranny of the Middle East. Every once in awhile, I see really mean Facebook threads and memes/posters and other respective Internet articles about these people, and honestly, it hurts my heart. It hurts because, regardless of their respective faiths, they are still humans just trying to stay alive. They have lost everything, risked their lives, walked hundreds of miles – many with babies and small children – and my heart goes out to them.

Yes, I’m positive many ISIS/Al-Qaeda thugs have seized the opportunity to sneak into Europe with them, creating a true dilemma that will surely plague Europe at some point in the very near future when those demons begin to unleash their agenda. (Most immigrants seem to want to go into Germany...and so my guess is, Germany will be the first country to be dominated by radical Islam…and for all I know, perhaps this is YHWH's retribution against Germany for killing 6 million of HIS people....Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19.)

Regardless, I am still heartbroken for all the innocents who were forced to flee and start all over again. Unless we personally have been bombed out of our homes, watched family members being shot/blown up, and been forced to flee on foot to another country, we have no right to promote ill will against anyone! I honestly don’t think God wants us to berate and make fun of these people. As a matter of fact, He even said so:

Proverbs 24:17 Do not exult when your enemy falls, And let not your heart rejoice when he stumbles; 18 Lest יהוה see and it be evil in His eyes, And He turn away His wrath from him.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Torah is our way to holiness!

We at The Refiner's Fire encounter many Christians spending a lot of time finding ways to deny any obligation to Torah.  The "Law", they say, " longer applies."  "I just don't see the sense in all those 'rules'."  "Jesus paid it all so we don't have to." "That was just for the Jews." "We are under grace."  "We have Torah written on our hearts."  The excuses go on and on and on.

But I have to wonder if those saying these things ever bothered to find out just what "Torah" is, and what it means?

If you aren't already turned off by these first two paragraphs, here's something that may stun you:  No one is permitted to come before God unless they are "clean" in mind, spirit, and body.  If you do not live by Torah, then you are not "clean", and I'm sorry, but when the time comes, be that in life, death, or rapture, you cannot be in the presence of God.


Yes...OUCH!  That statement hurts doesn't it? If you are not "holy" then you cannot be in His presence!  I'm sorry, but this is not my rule, this is God's rule!  Here it is in blue and white:

"For I am Adonai your God; therefore, consecrate yourselves and be holy, for I am holy..." (Leviticus 11:44, CJB)

" are to be holy, because I am holy" (Leviticus 11:45, CJB)

" people are to be holy for me; because I, Adonai, am holy; and I have set you apart from the other peoples, so that you can belong to me." (Leviticus 20:26, CJB)

You see, God commanded us to "be holy" so we could be in His presence and He could dwell with us.  "In this way you will separate the people of Isra'el from their uncleanness, so that they will not die in a state of uncleanness for defiling my tabernacle which is there with them." (Leviticus 15:31, CJB)

"The person who remains unclean and does not purify himself will be cut off from the community because he has defiled the sanctuary of Adonai." (Numbers 19:20 CJB)

And lest you think this is just "Old Testament" stuff, look at the situation in the end, when the old earth has passed away and God and Jesus are sitting on the throne and the whole world is the "city" where He dwells:  "Nothing impure may enter it, nor anyone who does shameful things or lies; the only ones who may enter are those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life."  (Revelation 21:27, CJB)

So how can one "be holy" so one can be in His presence?   By being Torah observant!  "But" you object, "that's Old Testament stuff; it doesn't apply to us today."  Really?  The command for us to "be holy" somehow would not apply to us today?

Jesus said "If you love me, you will keep my commands."  Most all of Christianity accepts/believes that Jesus is God, so if Jesus is God, and Torah comes from God, wouldn't Jesus' commands be Torah?  Even Peter, who valiantly tried to teach us who the Messiah was and what He did for us, said "...following the Holy One who called you, become holy yourselves in your entire way of life; since the Tanakh says, 'You are to be holy because I am holy.' " (1 Peter 1:15-16 CJB).  Was Peter talking about some other way to be "holy"?

NO!  Torah is our way to be holy.  Torah teaches us how to behave.  Torah teaches us how to have a relationship with God.

So instead of spending time trying to justify that Torah does not apply to you, how about spending some time finding out what it is?  It will surprise you (I guarantee it!) how wonderful Torah is. Stop looking at Torah as "rules", and try to see it as a "way" of life.  (Please check out our article on what Torah rules still apply to us today.) You can begin your journey by studying the many articles on The Refiner's Fire .  And if you are truly new, you can begin at the beginning with the inexpensive book "Should Christians be Torah Observant?" by Carmen Welker, on 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Yeshua constantly upheld Torah....

Sharing a couple of scripture readings for today, the first day of Sukkot.   They brought tears to our eyes.  The Bible is AWESOME!!!

John 1: 1. In the beginning[1] was the Miltha.[2]  And that Miltha was with Elohim.  And Elohim was that Miltha.  2. This was with Elohim in the beginning.  3. Everything existed through His hands,[3] and without Him, not even one thing existed of the things which have existed.  4. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  5. And that light shines in the darkness,[4] and the darkness did not overtake it.  6. There was a man who was sent from Elohim whose name was Yochanan.  7. This man came for a witness that he might testify concerning the light that all might believe through his hand.  8. He was not the light; rather that he might bear witness concerning the light.  9. For the light was of truth, that which shines on all who come into the world. 

10. He was in the world, and the world existed by His hand and the world did not know Him.  11. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.  12. But those who did receive Him He gave to them authority that they might be the sons of Elohim, those who have believed in His name.  13. Those who neither by blood nor by the will of the flesh nor by the will of a man, rather were begotten by Elohim.  14. And the Miltha[5] became flesh and dwelt among us and we saw His glory,[6] the glory as the Only-Begotten who is from the Father who is full of grace and truth. 


[1]  The phrase B’resheet aytohi hwa miltha breaks a most basic rule of Aramaic grammar by combining a feminine noun (miltha) with two masculine verbs for “to be” (aytohi, hwa).  This is unheard of in Aramaic literature other than right here in this passage and in 1 John.  This shows YHWH has male and female “images/spirits” even though YHWH remains a He.  It may also be a midrash on Isaiah 11:1-2, which describes the Spirit of YHWH descending on Mashiyach using both masculine and feminine suffixes. This is not something easily translated, let alone when it occurs within the first four words.

[2]  Miltha has no direct English equivalent. It can mean ‘Word’, ‘Manifestation’, ‘Instance’ or ‘Substance’ among other things. In this context, it may best be left untranslated.

[3]  Literal Aramaic reading; “through his hands” indicates the Word as a creative force, like a sculptor working under the orders of a king.  See Psalm 33:6; Isaiah 44:24; 66:1, 2.

[4]  Aramaic wordplay.  Nohra b’nshokha menhar (light in the darkness that shines) is a deliberate mirror-reversal of menhar-nohra (menorah), which marks the conception of the light of the world at Hanukkah.  This puts the birth of Mashiyach nine months from Hanukkah, during the fall feasts; many point to the first day of Feast of Tabernacles for the date of Y’shua’s birth.

[5]  Miltha refers to the “Manifestation” of the Ruach haKodesh within Mashiyach.  The physical body of Mashiyach is not the Word of YHWH, but his words and actions demonstrate the Will and Word of YHWH, which upholds observance of Torah.  However, Christo-Pagans like Marcion and Constantine taught that Y’shua’s body and spirit manifest a different “word” that did away with Torah.  The Word of YHWH was substituted with dispensational and replacement “theologies,” which are very popular among Christians.
[6]   Isaiah 42:8; 48:11

John 7: 1. After these things Y’shua was walking in Galeela, for he did not desire to walk in Yehuda because the Yehudeans were seeking to kill him.  2. And the Feast of the Tabernacles of the Yehudeans was drawing near.  3. And his brothers said to Y’shua, “Depart from here and go to Yehuda that your disciples may see the works that you do.  4. For there is no man who does anything secretly yet desires he that it be in the open.  If you do these things, show yourself to the people.”  5. For not even his brothers had believed in him, in Y’shua.  6. Y’shua said to them, My time, mine, is not arrived up until now, but your time, yours, is here at all moments.  7. The world is not able to hate you, but it hates me because I witness, I, against it that its works are evil.  8. You go up to this feast.  I will not go up to this feast now because my time is not yet finished. 

9. He said these things, and he remained in Galeela.  10. But when his brothers went up to the feast, then even he went up, not openly[1] but as in secret.  11. But the Yehudeans were looking for him at the feast and where saying, “Where is he?”  12. And there was much arguing among the crowds because of him, for there were those who said, “He is good.” and others who were saying, “No. He only deceives the people.”  13. But no man was openly speaking concerning him because of the fear of the Yehudeans.  14. Now when the days of the feast were divided Y’shua went up to the temple and he was teaching.  15. And the Yehudeans were marveling and saying, “How does this man know the scrolls since he has not learned them?”  16. Y’shua answered and said, My teaching is not mine, rather it is of He who has sent me.  17. He who desires to do His will can comprehend my teaching, if it is from Elohim, or if from my own will I speak. 

18. He who speaks from his own mind seeks glory for himself, but he who seeks the glory of He who sent him is true and there is no iniquity in his heart.  19. Did not Moshe give you Torah, yet not a man among you kept Torah?[2]  20. Why do you want to kill me? The crowd answered and said, “You have a demon!  Who wants to kill you?”  21. Y’shua answered and said to them, One work I have done and all of you marvel!  22. Because of this, Moshe gave circumcision to you.  It was not because it was from him, Moshe, but from the patriarchs; yet you circumcise a man on the day of the Shabbat.  23. If a man is circumcised on the day of the Shabbat so that the Torah of Moshe not be loosed, why do you argue against me because the whole man I have made whole on the day[3] of the Shabbat?  24. Do not be judging by hypocrisy, rather judge with a just judgment.  25. And the men from Urishlim were saying “Is this not the man that they want to kill? 

26. And behold he speaks openly and they do not say anything to him, why? Do our elders know that this is truly the Mashiyach?  27. But we know where this man is from, but when the Mashiyach comes, no man will know where he is from.”  28. And Y’shua lifted up his voice while he taught in the temple and said, You know both me and where I am from!  And I did not come from my own will but He is true who sent me, He who you do not know Him!  29. But I know him because I am from His presence and He sent me!  30. Then they wanted to seize him, yet no man placed hands upon him, because his time had not yet come.  31. And many in the crowds believed in him and said, “When the Mashiyach comes, what more than these miracles that this man does will he do?”  32. And the Pharisees heard the crowds who said these things concerning him, and the chief priests sent guards that they might seize him. 

33. And Y’shua said, A little time again I am with you, and I will go to Him who sent me.  34. And you will seek me and you will not find me, and where I am you are not able to come.  35. And the Yehudeans said among themselves, “Where is this man about to go that we cannot find him?  Why indeed is he about to go to the countries of the Gentiles and teach the pagans?  36. What is this teaching which he said that “You will seek me and you will not find me, and where I am you are not able to come?”


[1]  Yochanan is using a wordplay between b’Galeela (in Galeela, v9) and b’Galeea (openly, v10). Maran Y’shua went up to the feast secretly, not openly.

[2]  The Pharisees face a very stern rebuke here from Y’shua for not keeping the Torah of Moshe; his language could not be stronger. Y’shua’s teaching comes from the “divine” side (qnoma) within him.  It is YHWH who is speaking through Mashiyach Y’shua.  By contrast, “not a man among you,” not one Pharisee, is keeping Torah.  The message is clear; Y’shua in effect is saying, “who are you to judge me when you don’t practice what you preach?”  Even as a child from Galeela, Y’shua had a flawless understanding of Torah.  Y’shua never lived one standard for himself while teaching another to the Pharisees, and another to his Jewish followers, and yet another for non-Jews.  See Matthew 5:20.

[3]  This event is in active participle form in Aramaic, indicating that it is unfolding into the immediate present.  As a result, this verse clearly invalidates the false theory of a lunar Shabbat.  This cannot be referring to a miracle on any other time but, rather, at that moment on that day – since that selfsame moment is called the Shabbat day! Y’shua states that a day between the first and last days of Sukkot is the Shabbat.  That being the case, the Shabbat is by definition, falling on a day other than the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd or 29th day of the month. 

This imperative clearly nullifies the lunar Shabbat falsehood; it is validated by Aramaicists and authoritative Aramaic grammars of both Christian and Jewish persuasion.  Neither is there any historical documentation among Netzarim followers of Y’shua regarding the observance of a lunar Shabbat.  Nor do Jewish historians such as Yoseph ben Mattathias (Josephus) support the theory that Y’shua’s talmidim observed a lunar Shabbat.  Had Y’shua or his talmidim adopted lunar Shabbat observance, the Rabbinical world would have raked them over the coals, but no such thing is evidenced in Jewish writings.  The lunar Shabbat theory is a fallacy, invented by a “lunatic”. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Does God only expect the Jews to be holy?

As we near the end of another year of Torah study, I feel the need to reiterate that YHWH meant for ALL to obey His Torah.  Anyone who has ever read and actually studied the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy) can see that YHWH meant His Torah (Divine Instructions in Righteousness) to be for everyone who accepts Him as their ELOHIM.  Yet there continue to be those who insist that Torah (which they erroneously refer to as "the Law”) was given only to “the Jews." Never mind, there were 12 tribes standing at Mount Sinai, as well as the myriad Gentiles who had followed Moshe (Moses) out of Egypt and were commanded to do exactly as YHWH’s people did (Numbers 15:13-16).

We must always remember that YHWH chose Avram, a PAGAN Chaldean, to become our first patriarch (Genesis 12). Avram wasn't a Jew, and neither were any of the other patriarchs, Isaac and Jacob -  and actually, neither were Adam and Eve who broke a “Torah” command when they decided to partake of the fruit of that forbidden tree!  (Yes, it was a broken Torah command that caused the rest of us to be born into a SINFUL, struggling world!) 

But yes, we need to realize that, right from the beginning, people were either Torah observant (lived by God’s rules), or not!  In Genesis 4 Cain killed Abel over what?  Jealousy over a sacrifice – knowledge of which came from YHWH’s Torah – things He had passed down from the moment He created Adam!  (Granted, Torah was not “written down” in those days, but somehow people KNEW what YHWH demanded of them....)

So, what makes the Jews themselves and just about anyone else with any Bible knowledge believe that Torah was given only to “the Jews?”  Did He mean for “only the Jews to be holy?”  Heck no!  It was simply because when YHWH dispersed the endlessly disobedient tribes into the nations, He chose the Tribe of Judah to take Torah into the world and safeguard and preserve it (Genesis 49:10, Micah 4:2)!

Y'shua was born into the Tribe of Yehudah/Judah, but He never once taught that Torah was "only for the Jews!"  Yes, the Jews (who have been safeguarding Torah for thousands of years) are expected to be the EXAMPLE of holiness, but, according to Numbers 15:13-16 where we see YHWH reiterating it four times in a row, ALL who accept Him are to do exactly as His people do! 

As an aside, nobody automatically “becomes a Jew” when they begin to be Torah observant.    Only someone descended directly from the Tribe of Yehudah (or one who converts) can legally call themselves a Jew.  However, they CAN refer to themselves as “Hebrew.”  Why?  Well, the answer lies in Genesis 12 when Avram accepted YHWH as his God, and began to obey His every command, he "crossed over" both spiritually and physically into the land YHWH commanded – and thus he became a HEBREW (which means “to cross over”).  Avram, who later became, Abraham became a HEBREW, and all of his descendants became known as Hebrew.  Therefore, all those who accept YHWH can legitimately refer to themselves as Hebrew.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

To "fast" on Yom Kippur - required or not?

On this blessed Yom Kippur, considered the highest of Holy Days in Judaism and for those of us who seek true obedience to God in the manner He gave to all who are His, a rather disturbing subject has emerged.  That subject is whether or not Yom Kippur calls for a day of fasting.

Seems that many out there, some well  respected, are spreading the argument that a "fast" is not part of Yom Kippur; rather, all it calls for is "rest" - no work for you and you should not have anyone working for you that day.  Somehow they see that interpretation in full compliance with scripture.  But is it in compliance with scripture?

Here are the verses most often referenced to make the case:

"And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you.   For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins.   It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever."  (Leviticus 16:29-31, ESV).

Most then go into a long explanation that the Hebrew word, תענו, ("tayanu") translated here as "afflict" in English, in no way carries the meaning or requirement to "fast" because the Hebrew word for "fast" is   וצומו, (ve'tzumu).  Thus they conclude that the scripture says that "afflict yourself" means to not work that day.  Therefore, by their deep, scriptural analysis, they have found a way to eliminate the requirement for fasting on Yom Kippur.

But somehow they miss that the phrase says "afflict yourself".  Well, actually it says
תענו את־נפשׁתיכם,  "te'anuh et-nafsh'tim", roughly "afflict your souls".  The Hebrew word for "nephesh", translated into English, actually means much more than "souls", and the phrase truly reads that each person is doing something special and not simply "taking the day off."

The days of no work

All of God's Holy Days are Shabbats!  For each one we are commanded to do no work.  The weekly Sabbath is commanded for no work:

"Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the LORD in all your dwelling places."
(Leviticus 23:3, ESV).

No, "afflict your soul" associated with the weekly Sabbath!

Then in Leviticus 23:6-8 we learn that the first and last days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are Sabbaths on which there is to be no work.  No, "afflict your soul" associated with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

Then we learn in Leviticus 23:21 that Shavuot is a Holy Day with no work, and the 1st of Tishri in Leviticus 23:24-25 is a Holy Day with no work,  as are the 1st and eighth days of Sukkot (Leviticus 23:34-36) ... and on all these Holy Days of no work we do not find "afflict your soul" associated with these Holy Days.

But there in Leviticus 23:27, there it is again: "Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD." (ESV).  So clearly, since Yom Kippur is a day of no work, it is also a day to "afflict your soul."

So can we find out what this means?  

Yes we can!  All arguments aside, as to the meaning of "afflict" and whether or not "fasting is implied or required", simply turn to scripture:

"And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD." (Deuteronomy 8:3).

Here we find God "humbled" His people by making them hungry!  The English word "humbled" here is from ויענך,  ("vey'ane'cha"), the same word as "afflict" in Leviticus 16 and 23!

So there you have it.  To "afflict your soul" truly does mean "become hungry"; that is, to "fast".  And we are even told why:  "...that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD "!

And if Deuteronomy 8:3 does not "cement" this for you, then read verse 2:

"And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not." (ESV)

So next Yom Kippur, when you try to find some reason not to fast, is that not actually testing your heart?  How about fasting that day so you can dwell on not living by food alone!

Looking at Romans 7 and Paul in context

Many people attempt to use passages such as the ones we see in Romans 7 to show that Paul was a “false Apostle” because he supposedly didn’t uphold Torah, and/or that “the law” was abolished and does not pertain to believers in Messiah Y’shua.

Well, let’s take a look at Romans 7 in context, using the excellent footnotes contained in the Aramaic English New Testament:

Romans 7: 1. Or do you not know, my Brothers (for I am speaking to them that know Torah) that Torah has dominion over a man as long as he is alive?  2. Just as a woman, by Torah, is bound to her husband as long as he is alive: but if her husband should die, she is freed from the Torah of her husband.  3. And if, while her husband is alive, she should adhere to another man, she would become an adulteress: but if her husband should die, she is freed from Torah; and would not be an adulteress though joined to another man.[1] 

4. And now, my brothers, you also have become dead to Torah[2] by the body of Mashiyach; that you might be joined to another, (even) to him who arose from the dead, and might yield fruits to Elohim.  5. For while we were in the flesh, the emotions of sin which are (listed) by Torah, were active in our members that we should bear fruits to death.  6. But now we are absolved from Torah and are dead to that which held us in its grasp: that we might from now on serve in the newness of the spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.[3]  7. What will we say then? Is Torah sin? May it never be! For I had not learned sin except by means of Torah: for I had not known lust, had not Torah said, You will not covet:  8. And by this Commandment sin found occasion and perfected in me all lust: for without Torah, sin was dead. 

9. And I, without Torah, was alive formerly; but when the Commandment came, sin became alive, and I died;  10. And the Commandment of life was found by me (to be) to death.  11. For sin, by the occasion which it found by means of the Commandment, seduced me and thereby killed me.  12. As a result, Torah is Set Apart; and the Commandment is Set Apart, and righteous, and good.  13. Did that which is good, therefore, become death to me? May it never be! But sin, that it might be seen to be sin, perfected death in me by means of that good (Torah); that sin might the more be condemned by means of the Commandment.  14. For we know, that Torah is spiritual;[4] but I am carnal, and sold to sin.  15. For what I am doing, I do not know: and what I would, I do not perform; but what I hate, that I do. 

16. And if I do what I would not, I testify of Torah, that it is right.  17. And then, it is no more I who do that thing, but sin which dwells in me.  18. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) good dwells not: because, to approve the good, is easy for me; but to do it, I am unable.  19. For I do not perform the good which I would perform, but the bad which I would not perform, that I do perform.  20. And if I do what I would not, it is not I that do it, but sin which dwells in me.  21. I find therefore a Torah coinciding with my conscience which agrees to my doing good, whereas evil is near to me. 

22. For I rejoice in the Torah of Elohim, in the inner man.  23. But I see another instruction[5] in my members, which wars against the instruction of my conscience and makes me a captive to the instruction of sin which exists in my members.  24. O, a miserable man, am I! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  25. I thank Elohim by means of our Master Y’shua the Mashiyach (I will be rescued.)  Now, therefore, in my conscience, I am a servant of the Torah of Elohim; but in my flesh, I am a servant of the instruction of sin.[6]


[1]  In these three verses “Torah” is intended as “Instruction” as in the instruction pertaining to marriage alone, not the whole body of the Covenant.  When a marriage partner dies, the surviving spouse is no longer contractually bound to the marriage covenant, but this does not mean that the rules of marriage no longer apply to the survivor, or to the rest us.

[2]   “Dead to Torah” refers to being dead to the penalty for sin, which is death, followed by destruction.  The believer sins (misses the mark) as anyone else does; however, those who are “in Mashiyach” have atonement in him.  From the beginning (Gen. 3:15) YHWH established a defense for His people against haSatan (the adversary).  To be “in” Mashiyach means to live a life pleasing to YHWH and NOT break Torah (see also Romans 8:1-10).  Those who think that they can repeatedly break Torah without consequence, because of Mashiyach died for them, are very deceived.  To “live in the spirit” means that the Spirit of Mashiyach is training up his followers so they can put away the carnal desires of the weak flesh, and that they are overcomers of the flesh. 

[3]  This is because faith in Mashiyach and Torah observance brings eternal life, but the consequence of sin is death.  It does not mean Torah is “released” because, with or without Mashiyach, the penalty for willful sin still remains.  If the penalty for sin remains, then Torah also remains.  The “oldness of the letter” speaks of old religious ways which do not recognize Mashiyach as bringing the Living Word of YHWH to mankind.  Y’shua brought the correct understanding of Torah which is to be written upon the heart, so we don’t continue in sin.  See also 6:12.  Some might say they have Faith and claim to be “Believers,” but if they continue in sin their faith/belief is irrelevant.

[4]  Paul says “Torah is spiritual”; therefore, while those without Torah might be very religious, they are not “spiritual” according to Paul and Mashiyach!  Mashiyach is the goal and we are to be like him, which means that when our spirits are awakened to Mashiyach we will proceed to welcome Torah to be written upon our hearts.

[5]  Namusa could refer to the Tanakh, particular instruction within Tanakh, or an earthly instruction from the heart of man that may or may not be righteous, as it does here. The key context here is “in my members”; i.e., the flesh.

[6]  Two instructions; one from YHWH, the other from flesh, are in direct opposition to one another.

What we must remember when reading Paul’s epistles is that he was desperately attempting to get difficult Hebrew concepts across to the Greek mindset!  Paul was an amazing servant, but yes, he WAS hard to understand.
Even Peter warned us that people would misinterpret/misunderstand the writings of the Apostle Paul:

2 Peter 3: 15 And think of our Lord's patience as deliverance, just as our dear brother Sha'ul also wrote you, following the wisdom God gave him. 16 Indeed, he speaks about these things in all his letters. They contain some things that are hard to understand, things which the uninstructed and unstable distort, to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

And even the anti-Semite Martin Luther (1483-1546), said: "If I were younger I would want to learn this language [i.e. Hebrew], for without it no one can properly understand the Holy Scripture.... For that reason they have said correctly: 'The Jews drink out of the original spring, The Greeks drink out of the stream flowing out of the stream, The Latins, however, out of the puddle.'"

The scriptures of Rabbi Sha'ul (Apostle Paul) whose native tongue was Hebrew, have been mistranslated or misunderstood since the advent of the "church age." This is because people are viewing his teachings through a "Greek" as opposed to a "Hebrew" mindset. Paul never went against Yeshua's teachings, nor did he forsake the Torah. The following article shows that Paul's declarations have either been misunderstood, mistranslated, or wrongly interpreted - not to mention, used by some Gentile churches as an excuse to negate God's Torah and thus continue the age-old, anti-Semitic stance against the Jews.

Many people tend to forget that Paul was a Jew whose teachings NEVER contradicted Torah (God's original teachings/instructions). If he had, he would have rendered Scripture contradictory.

Acts 21:15-21 - which was written after Paul had written the Galatians - clearly reveals Paul was Torah observant. It is commonly misunderstood that Paul's teachings - especially the idea that Paul said in Galatians, "if one is led by the Spirit, he or she is not under law..." - that the authority of the law has been abolished for believers in Yeshua and that the Torah has been superseded. Many people are confusing legalism (man's requirements) with Torah observance.

When Paul speaks of being "under the law" or the "works of the law", he is speaking against legalism, and not against the Torah. There is no Hebrew word for the concept of "legalism" or "legalist" so Paul was hindered in his attempt to explain to the Gentiles that legalism was not what God intended. Paul was not teaching against Torah observance by believers of Yeshua; rather, he was being careful in his language to make it clear that Torah was not given by God to be used in a legalistic manner.

Some people insist that there is no explicit text in the New Testament that commands us to "walk in Torah" or in any way continue to adhere to any of the commands of the old covenant. However, Romans 3:31 clearly says:  Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law....

A discussion on "dead to the law"

Someone recently posted a wonderful comment in response to one of our blog posts – and I felt it was so good that it needed to be shared with the world.


I am wondering does 'dead to the law' mean that we become more and more like Yeshua, putting away sin as we gradually die to ourselves and the sinful wants of our human nature?

To me, that would make sense. If I 'die to the law' that means I no longer want to commit sin because I am dead to it, and dead doesn't wake up, isn't tempted by sin. And this most certainly is a process throughout our lifetime, walking with Yeshua, learning from Him, being guided by His Spirit, gradually dying to our old sinful nature.

This is something I feel like I am experiencing, sinful things that I used to struggle with, no longer tempt me, as if I was dead to it. The more I read the scriptures, the more I learn from Yeshua and keep to Him, the more this transformation and 'dying' occurs.

I still struggle with many things in my daily life, many things I'm not happy about and that needs to change, but I am a very different person now than when I began this journey.

Correct me if I'm wrong!


GREAT question, and every word you wrote is absolutely right on!  You wrote:  “I am wondering does 'dead to the law' mean that we become more and more like Yeshua, putting away sin as we gradually die to ourselves and the sinful wants of our human nature?”

The answer is a resounding YES!  That’s exactly what it means.  Unfortunately, many have decided that “the law” died – when nothing could be further from the Truth!  Why would Torah (our only divine blueprint for moral, holy living) become defunct, null and void, just because Y’shua’s human body died? 

We must remember that “Torah” means “instruction in righteousness”; it never meant “law.”  Somehow the Greek Bible translations lost the true meaning and, consequently, Christianity twisted YHWH’s Torah into being something that was “only for the Jews” (and even a “curse” -  because they misunderstood Galatians 3:10), and suggested that Christians are "under grace" had to do nothing but “believe in Jesus.” 

Somehow, no one seemed to realize that these erroneous thought processes totally removed the relationship between God and man!  After all, if you don’t OBEY your Creator by keeping His commanded weekly and yearly Sabbaths, etc., then WHOM are you worshiping?  Just “believing in Jesus” does not teach a child right from wrong or how to play nicely with others….

But yet many will use passages such as Colossians 2:14-15 to “prove” that “the law” was abolished at the cross:

Colossians 2:14 - He wiped away the bill of charges against us. Because of the regulations, it stood as a testimony against us; but he removed it by nailing it to the execution-stake 15 stripping the rulers and authorities of their power he made a public spectacle of them triumphing over them by means of the stake. (Stern’s)

This passage NEVER suggested that, because Jesus died, Christians were so special that they were released from any responsibility to obey YHWH's "forever" commands because they were suddenly "under grace!"  (Grace has always been around, or else Adam and Eve would have been wiped off the face of the earth, and none of us would be here now.)

Read IN CONTEXT Colossians 2:14-15 reveals that YHWH wiped away the documented opinions of men (bill of charges) against us and took them from our midst....The Torah was NOT “wiped away”!  Why would it have been?  The Torah is holy, righteous and good. To suddenly have it "nailed to the cross" would mean that the things of God were originally evil, something to be done away with.

People tend to forget that sin is transgression of TORAH  (I John 3:4)!

Let’s do a little study from the Aramaic English New Testament and its awesome footnotes on a passage in Galatians 2 – another passage many attempt to use to prove “the law” was abolished at the cross.  Please read the footnotes very carefully, because they serve to clear up some terrible misconceptions about the writings of Paul:

Galatians 2: 14. But behold! When those who did not follow righteously the truth of the Good News,[1] said I to Peter, to the eyes of them all, “If you who are Yehudeans, live as Arameans;[2] why do you urge the Gentiles who have joined themselves to Yehuda to live as Yehudeans?”  15. For if we who have a Jewish nature[3] ourselves, and not those who are from Gentile sinners, 16. for we know that the sons of men are not made righteous by the works[4] of Torah, but by faith in Y’shua the Mashiyach. Even we who believed in him know that it is from the faith in Mashiyach that we will be made righteous and not from the works of Torah.  For from the works of Torah no flesh will be made righteous. 

17. But if while we seek (while in our eyes) to be made righteous by Mashiyach we still find ourselves to be sinners,[5] should (it be) therefore that Y’shua the Mashiyach is a servant of sin? Elohim forbid!  18. For if I build again the things I destroyed, I will prove to myself that I have passed by the Commandment.[6]  19. For by Torah I am dead, that I might live to Elohim.  20. And I am executed on a stake with Mashiyach, so it is not I that live but Mashiyach lives in me; and the life I live now in the flesh in faith[7] of the Son of Elohim who loves me and give his life/soul for me.  21. And I do not frustrate the grace of Elohim, for if righteousness came by Torah, then Mashiyach died for nothing.[8]


[1]  The original Peshitta reads awngaleyon, which is a loan word from the Greek evangelion. However, the New Testament Aramaic Peshitta Text with Hebrew Translation editor writes on page iv: “Concerning the word ‘gospel’, only the pure Aramaic word sevartha is used in this edition, rather than the Greek word where the Peshitta uses it in 27 places.” While the issue of loan words is complex and beyond the scope of a simple word-for-word translation, suffice to say that we should expect the Peshitta contain these, as it reflects the harsh reality of First Century Israel under Roman occupation.  If Aramaic were entirely “pure” this would tend to invalidate the Peshitta’s claim to originality.  There are clearly many more signs of Aramaic influence in the Greek “New Testament” than the other way around. It is for these reasons that every line must be scrupulously checked in multiple sources.

[2]  Rav Shaul consistently uses “Arameans” in Peshitta, where the Greek NT versions read “Greeks.”  Arameans are Semites who are closely related to Hebrews, but in this context “Arameans” refers to Semites living as non-Jews.

[3]  The only place in all Aramaic Renewed Covenant writings where the phrase “Jewish nature” appears.  The word kyanna refers to a classification without a physical occurrence, kind of like having an image of a bird in one’s mind, but not seeing the literal bird. As such, the only types of natures that are discussed are animal, human, or divine.  In this lone exception however, Rav Shaul bifurcates human nature further into Jewish and (by implication) non-Jewish.

[4]  The phrase “Ma’aseh haTorah” (works of the Torah) appears first in the Dead Sea Scrolls; it is indicative of the ultra-religious halacha of the Essenes, but also refers to the halacha (religious traditions) of the Pharisees.  This is NOT referencing observance of Torah in Y’shua.  If the reader does not distinguish between “Torah written upon the heart”, versus the “works of Torah” or being “under Torah” it would be impossible to understand the book of Galatians.

[5]  Paul’s teaching will forever judge those who say they follow Mashiyach but live and teach against Torah (see 1 John 3:4 for a definition of sin).  Religion uses words like “moral” (moralis 1340 CE) or “ethical” (ethikos) to establish their own standards of conduct; however, followers of Mashiyach are to live by every Word that proceeds from the Mouth of Elohim (Deuteronomy 8:4/Matthew 4:4).  The Word of YHWH is absolute Truth and as such YHWH will Judge man’s wilful neglect of Torah. 

Many Christians, for example, are taught that they “don’t have” to observe Shabbat on the Seventh Day because it’s not part of their “moral code” and they say their “conscience” never convicted them of breaking Shabbat.  This is no surprise, because, even as children, they were taught that Shabbat is not included with Scriptural principles of right and wrong conduct.  They were not taught that erecting a Christmas tree is an abomination unto Mashiyach as it depicts Tammuz who was the son of Nimrod and Semiramis, the originators of the pagan trinity.  They were not taught that Easter is morally wrong because it originated with paganism (and is not even on the commanded Passover); and the list goes on.  The point is that Paul defined sin very astutely, but precious few care to listen because their cultural and status quo values are projected over his teachings.

[6]   “Passes over sin” is an idiomatic expression meaning “transgress.”  Literally, “to go around the commandment” – just as the Hebrew word for repentance means “to turn back.”

[7]  The faith here is two fold in Aramaic.  First, it is the faith in the Son of man, Y’shua the Mashiyach, who brings eternal life. However, that eternal life is made possible because Y’shua the man was obedient to YHWH’s Torah.  His faith brought him life, and through him, our eternal life.  So Rav Shaul says that his faith is in the Son’s perfected nephesh (soul) while the perfected nephesh (soul) became that way through the faith of the Son.

[8]  Torah instructs us about righteousness, but it can’t make anyone righteous in itself.  It is YHWH Tsidkenu (our Righteousness) who is the Spirit of YHWH in Mashiyach that purifies the spirit and soul of man.  As we read and study Torah we must “hear” the Ruach haKodesh inside of us.  YHWH gives us His Grace to turn to Him, walk in His Righteousness and observe His Torah.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Explaining our calendar

Someone recently sent a comment to The Refiner's Fire that was too long to answer in our weekly newsletter.  We have therefore posted it here:

QUESTION:  I'm just curious as to why you are on the conjunction calendar? This will be my second Yom Kippur and my family and I observe sliver. Thanks for your time. Shalom to all!

OUR RESPONSE:  Great question, and actually, we are not on the "conjunction calendar". It looks like it, but it's not. Our calendar is by ALL the signs of the moon. Here's an explanation. Sorry for the length!

The moon "tells" us its age throughout the month. Though unseen at conjunction, that does not change the fact that conjunction is when the moon goes from old to new. (This is why the sighted crescent is wrong. By the time you see the sliver, the moon is already saying "I'm already past new.") Most people today have "forgotten" how to watch the moon for its signs. For example, when the moon is 1/4 way through the "month" it will rise at noon. When the moon is halfway through the "month", it will rise at sunset. When it is 3/4 way through the "month" it will rise a midnight. When the moon is before "new" it rises before sunrise as a waning "sliver" which tells us how long to conjunction. (There is a reason I put the word "month" in quotes - I am talking about the moon's month, not the calendar. The calendar must be "whole days" by the sun, so it can only closely follow the moon's "month" which is not measured in "whole days". (If you require more explanation, please let us know.)

Anyway, the point is that there are MANY signs the moon gives to provide the calendar. Genesis 1:14 says about the sun, moon, and stars: "...let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years." The verse is the only clue to how the calendar is formed, and there are only a couple other verses which give us any other information. Nowhere does scripture tell us how to build the calendar - not the "sighted crescent" nor conjunction. But Genesis does say we are to use the "signs" (plural) and not the "sign" (singular) - and the sighted crescent is but only ONE sign - and the sign it gives us is NOT that the moon is new; rather, its sign is that the month has already begun. (It is a long-held myth, now deeply ingrained in society, that "sighting the crescent was always the way it was done." But that is clearly wrong!)

The reason the sighted crescent is wrong is that the month, by the sliver starts "late". There are two very clear signs, which validated this: First, if it is the 29th or 30th of the Hebrew month, and just as the sun sets, you spot the crescent, your calendar date is just now becoming the 1st of the new month; but just moments earlier, when it was still the last day of the old month, the crescent was there in the sky, but it was just that the sky was too bright for us to see it. But there should not be a "new crescent" on the last day of the old month! That fact alone tells you "uh oh, it's not possible for a crescent to be there on the last day of the old month, so something is wrong. Second, remember when I said earlier that when the moon is at the "middle" of its "month" it rises at sunset? That is the period of the full moon, and since the period of the full moon is at the middle of the moon's month, then then the calendar should also be at the "middle" of the calendar month! (This conclusion is inescapable, yet most people simply do not realize this is a fact.) So the evening the moon rises at sunset the calendar must be changing from the 14th to the 15th or the 15th to the 16th. (Since the Hebrew calendar month is either 29 or 30 days, the "middle" is 14.5 or 15 days. "14.5", by counting, is "in" the 15th day.)

Now, if you start your calendar month by the sighted crescent, then when you see the moon rise at sunset, your calendar will only be on the 13th, becoming the 14th, and, in some cases, since the crescent is NEVER visible reliably each month, the sighted moon calendar is only on the 12th becoming the 13th! If the moon is passing through its middle of the month, and your calendar only says its the 13th or just becoming the 14th, it's another "uh-oh!"

So, with this background, what does our calendar at The Refiner's Fire use? Our calendar says: The first day of the new calendar month begins at the 1st sunset after conjunction. Thus, it is possible, though not usual to see the sliver at sunset the 29th or 30th of the month, even though we know that sunset is the 1st of the new month, and the new crescent will usually be seen at sunset the 1st, which means that the usefulness of sighting the crescent is only to sanctify the new month, not to determine the new month. This may sound odd, but it completely fits with scripture and ancient writings that spotting the new crescent is only a celebration, sanctification of the the new month which the Priests in-charge already knew had begun. Witnesses would come forth to say they saw the crescent, and there was a big celebration of the new month, but sadly, that "morphed" into the myth that the month did not begin till the crescent was spotted.

Many will counter these facts with the argument that "You can't see conjunction, so you don't know when it happened." This is not a true statement. Remember the "signs" - plural? By watching the moon, all the way till you can't see it rise any more before sunrise, it TELLS us how long till conjunction. In fact, by simply becoming familiar with the signs of the old, waning crescent, you can ALWAYS know on what day the conjunction is, and if you actually make some relatively simple measurements of the old crescent in the last few days it is visibly rising before sunrise, you can actually compute the time of conjunction accurate to about 3 hours. This means that in ancient times, by observation alone, the Priests in-charge of the calendar knew which sunset would mark the end of the old month and the beginning of the new month!

Another "counter argument" is usually, "But conjunction is not 'visible' and a 'sign' must be visible." In general, that is a true statement. Most "signs" would need to be visible to be a "sign". But for the moon, since it is ALWAYS visible at some point in EVERY day of the month EXCEPT when it is in conjunction, the absence of the moon IS the sign!

So the way our calendar works is by producing the exact same result as the ancient observers of the moon would have done, except today, in our time, we can calculate to great accuracy the date and time of conjunction so we know which sunset after conjunction is the 1st of the new month. Therefore, we don't have to watch the moon every day like they would have done in days of old, rather, our calendar produces the exact same result as all the signs of the moon would produce by observation.

We know our calendar is correct when the major Holy Days come around - Pesach, Feast of Unleavened Bread, and Sukkot - because they are at the middle of the month. By our calendar, when the 14th becomes the 15th at sunset, the moon will rise at or near full at sunset (depends on where you are in the world). It is a beautiful thing. Especially this Sukkot. For observers in the United States, sunset Sep 27th (14 Tishri) will see a moon rise, then go into a total lunar eclipse - the most VISIBLE SIGN that the moon is in the middle of its month! - and our calendar is at the middle! That night it becomes the 15th - the beginning of Sukkot. By the sighted crescent, which was not spotted till sunset September 15th, when their calendar says it is sunset the 14th becoming the 15th (beginning of Sukkot), the moon, now well past full, will rise over an hour after sunset, and the eclipse will have been 3 evenings earlier - no signs that their calendar is right ... well, because it is wrong.

Believe it or not, this was as brief as we could be. Please be aware that while we think our calendar is "right", we don't argue one calendar over the other because we think it is far more important to observe the Feasts than it is to argue over calendars! If you wish to use the sighted moon calendar, or the traditional modern Jewish calendar, that's terrific. It is far better to know the meaning of the Feasts and to celebrate them! None of us are Levite Priests in charge of the Hebrew calendar, and YHWH never said we all had to figure it out ourselves. So there is nothing wrong with accepting the calendar one wishes to use. Sadly, there are many variations out there. We simply believe in using Genesis 1:14 by recognizing all the signs YHWH gave us.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Stop trying to tell the world that President Obama is a "Christian"!!!

I bet I’m not the only one who is getting really sick of hearing that President Obama is a “Christian” by those who wish to defend him. Since the Presidential candidates don’t have the chutzpah to say it, I will: Obama is NOT a Christian! A true CHRISTIAN stands for God and espouses what the Bible says without “cherry picking” it to death and discarding those things they feel are outdated or no longer relevant. Obama is FOR abortion and FOR homosexuality, including “gay marriage” – both of which are SINS!

1 Corinthians 6: - 9 Don't you know that unrighteous people will have no share in the Kingdom of God? Don't delude yourselves - people who engage in sex before marriage, who worship idols, who engage in sex after marriage with someone other than their spouse, who engage in active or passive homosexuality, 10 who steal, who are greedy, who get drunk, who assail people with contemptuous language, who rob - none of them will share in the Kingdom of God.

Revelation 22: 14 How blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they have the right to eat from the Tree of Life and go through the gates into the city! 15 Outside are the homosexuals, those who misuse drugs in connection with the occult, the sexually immoral, murderers, idol-worshippers, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

Romans 1: 22 Claiming to be wise, they have become fools! 23 In fact, they have exchanged the glory of the immortal God for mere images, like a mortal human being, or like birds, animals or reptiles! 24 This is why God has given them up to the vileness of their hearts' lusts, to the shameful misuse of each other's bodies. 25 They have exchanged the truth of God for falsehood, by worshiping and serving created things, rather than the Creator - praised be he for ever. Amen. 26 This is why God has given them up to degrading passions; so that their women exchange natural sexual relations for unnatural; 27 and likewise the men, giving up natural relations with the opposite sex, burn with passion for one another, men committing shameful acts with other men and receiving in their own persons the penalty appropriate to their perversion.

28 In other words, since they have not considered God worth knowing, God has given them up to worthless ways of thinking; so that they do improper things. 29 They are filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and vice; stuffed with jealousy, murder, quarreling, dishonesty and ill-will; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God; they are insolent, arrogant and boastful; they plan evil schemes; they disobey their parents; 31 they are brainless, faithless, heartless and ruthless. 32 They know well enough God's righteous decree that people who do such things deserve to die; yet not only do they keep doing them, but they applaud others who do the same.  (Stern's)

YHWH forgives those who repent and TURN from their sins; He does NOT forgive those who ignore His commands to keep ourselves pure in body, mind and soul and purposely go out to commit those sins! He does not forgive those who are out there, actively preaching that certain sins are okay because the Bible is just an ancient Book that is no longer relevant today. HUGE mistake, Mr. Obama! Just because you "go to church" does NOT make you a Christian! You're a hypocrite.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Is "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" tattooed across Y'shua's thigh?

For those who are new to Torah, here's something that will blow your mind: You know that passage in Revelation 19:11-16 that talks about how Y’shua will return as "King of Kings, and Master of Masters " (or “Lord of Lords”, “Sovereign of Sovereigns” – depending on your favorite Bible version) which is written upon His thigh?

Well, your former "Greek" mindset probably imagined a tatoo or something right? But the Hebrew mindset (which you now have!) sees something more realistic: He will be wearing His tallit (prayer shawl) … and the tzit-tzits (braid/knots/tassels) tied to the "four corners" of His garment will be falling WHERE as He sits on his horse? Across his thighs!!

What am I saying? Well, each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical value. Consequently, the knots of the tassels on the four corners of a tallit spell out the name of YHWH.

There are actually different trains of thought about this, depending on how the knots are tied. The Sephardics tie the knots in windings of 10, 5, 6, 5 which spells out the numeric values of יהוה (Yud-Hey-Vav-Hey) but the Ashkenazies use windings of 7, 8, 11, 13 which, adds up to 39, which is the numerical equivalent of Deuteronomy 6:4 which cites the Shema.

Regardless, the numeric values refer to the only ONE true Name of our ELOHIM – יהוה – the Name He gave to Moshe (Exodus 3:13-15)!

Revelation 19:11 And I saw the heaven opened, and there was a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Trustworthy and True, and in righteousness He judges and fights. 12 And His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns, having a Name that had been written, which no one had perceived except Himself 13 and having been dressed in a robe dipped in blood – and His Name is called: The Word of  יהוה.

14 And the armies in the heaven, dressed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 And out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations. And He shall shepherd them with a rod of iron. And He treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of El Shaddai. 16 And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written: SOVEREIGN OF SOVEREIGNS AND MASTER OF MASTERS.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Shana tovah umetukah! (Traditional Rosh Hashanah greeting meaning "[a] good and sweet year")

Shalom mishpocah! Well, are you all ready for sunset tonight when we begin to celebrate Yom Teruah (Trumpets)/Rosh Hashana (New Year)? For those who are new to Torah, this holy day celebrates the anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve and their first actions toward the realization of man's role in the world; of the first sin that was committed and resulting repentance; a day when YHWH our ELOHIM takes stock of all of His Creation. It is also believed that this is when Y’shua will return to earth as the “Lion of Judah!”

1 Thessalonians 4: 16. Because our Master (Y'shua) will himself descend from heaven with the mandate and with the voice of the chief Messenger and with the Qarna (trumpet/shofar) of Elohim; and the dead who are in the Mashiyach will first arise; 17. and then we who survive and are alive will be caught up together with them to the clouds to meet our Master (Y'shua) in the air; and so will we be ever with our Master. (AENT)

Why is Yom Teruah a holy day? Leviticus 23:23-25 tells us that YHWH Himself commanded it!

Leviticus 23 And יהוה spoke to Mosheh, saying, 24 “Speak to the children of Yisra’ĕl, saying, ‘In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you have a rest, a remembrance of blowing of trumpets, a set-apart gathering. 25 ‘You do no servile work, and you shall bring an offering made by fire to יהוה.’ ” (ISR)

What is our “offering of fire/burnt offering/fragrant aroma” today?

2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to Elohim who always leads us on, to overcome in Messiah, and manifests through us the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 Because we are to Elohim the fragrance of Messiah among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are the smell of death to death, and to the other the fragrance of life to life. And who is competent for these? 17 For we are not, as so many, adulterating the Word of Elohim for gain – but as of sincerity, but as from Elohim, in the sight of Elohim, we speak in Messiah. (ISR)

(Readings for Yom Teruah: Genesis 21:1-34, Leviticus 23, Numbers 29:1-6, 1 Samuel 1:1-2:10, Matthew 1:1-21 and Luke 4:14-44. For more on the new year, please read our article, Why two new years?)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

2016 Calendar Craziness!

Some have noticed, as they've looked ahead for the Passover and the Holy Feasts in 2016, that the 2016 calendar on The Refiner's Fire has Passover on March 23-24 while the traditional Hebrew calendar found everywhere else has Passover on April 22-23! What gives?

The simple answer is that the traditional Hebrew calendar of today (which is the modern adaptation of the calendar established by Hillel II), rigidly incorporates the 19-year "Metonic Cycle" into the determination of which calendar years must include a "leap month" - and in 2016, the "leap month" we see in February is simply not needed.  If "calendar stuff" is not your bag and you don't want to continue reading to find out why the traditional calendar is wrong in 2016, suffice it good enough to know that the current Hebrew year, 2015-2016, is not the correct year for the intercalated month.  Passover falls in the proper time without the added month.  If you'd like to know more, please read on…

The problem, graphically

In this graphic, you can see that the traditional calendar has inserted Adar I, making "Adar" become "Adar II".  (Adar must be the last month of the year, so the intercalated month is inserted between Shevat and Adar making Adar become "Adar II" to distinguish it as the proper "Adar".)  The correct calendar is seen in the second line.  The extra month is not needed.  But not visible in the graphic is why the inserted month is not needed.   To figure that out, there is much to discuss.

Today's traditional Hebrew calendar is often referred to as the "Hillel Calendar", but that is not quite fair to Hillel II for his recommendation in the 4th Century CE to adopt the Metonic Cycle is only part of the many problems with today's traditional Hebrew calendar which came to be over many centuries following Hillel II.  So, let's begin understanding the problem.  We must begin with how the "1st month" is determined, then address the need for the "leap year" and finally discuss the impact of the added month to the Feast dates for 2016.

How the "1st Month" is determined

The Hebrew calendar is  a "lunar-solar" calendar which basically means the moon determines the months while the sun determines the year.  In Genesis, we are told that the sun, moon, and stars are for "signs, seasons, days and years" (Genesis 1:14).  Beyond that one verse there are no instructions in scripture for keeping the calendar.  We are only told later (Exodus 12) that the month of spring, Abib (today called Nisan), the month of the Exodus, would be the "first month of the year" and that Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are to be "at the time appointed in the month Abib [Nisan]" (Exodus 23:15).  So the month of Abib sets the calendar for the whole year.  How is it determined?

There are 12 lunar months in 1 solar year.  But the year (not the calendar month) is determined by the sun and stars. (If there were no moon at all, we would still know the "year").  And it is the sun which causes and determines the "seasons" (winter, summer, planting and harvest) not the "moedim").  It is the moon which determines the "month" and the "season" (i.e., the "appointed times", the moedim) of that month.  (Since the agricultural seasons are absolutely tied to the sun, and the "moedim" are tied to both the month, and the season of the year, the word "moed" has become largely confused and sometimes people think the "month" is tied to the agricultural "signs", i.e.,  the barley crop.  But go back and look at Genesis 1:11-18 and see that even though YHWH made the grasses and seed bearing plants first, before the sun, moon, and stars were "placed" (verse 17), it's only when the sun, moon, and stars were "placed" that "day and night" and the agricultural seasons began.  Had YHWH not placed the sun, moon, and stars as He did, the plants he created would have required some other annual schedule mechanism to grow and seed, for without the seasons created by the sun, plants would not have the life-cycles we have always known.  And note that verse 14 does not say: "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and the ripening of the crops for the years".   Ripening crops is an earth sign, and no verse says any earth sign trumps a heaven sign.
Man has known for thousands of years the "signs" in the sun and stars that identify one complete year.  There are four very clear "divisions" of the year, roughly 90 days or 3 months  apart.  These divisions are the northernmost point of the sun which marks summer, the southernmost point of the sun which marks winter, the point when the sun is exactly due east as it is moving from south to north which marks spring, and  the point when the sun is exactly due east as it is moving from north to south which marks the fall or autumn.   We know from Exodus that "Abib" was the "month of newly-ripened grain", (or the "month of spring") and that crops begin to ripen in the season of spring, and we know that the exodus began in spring, and that the night of the exodus (14-15 Abib), it was already spring.  That is, the sun had been at the point when "spring" begins when the exodus began. (It's very important to understand that the crops ripen because of the month it is, not that crops determine what month it is.)  So the commandment to keep the feast "at the time appointed in the month Abib [Nisan]" (Exodus 23:15), means that the calendar must keep Abib as close as possible to spring (today we call it the "Vernal Equinox"), and then the moed of Passover can happen.  Thus, the month of Abib is the month when Passover falls on or after the Vernal Equinox.  (This is why the inserted month is not needed in 2016.  Without adding the leap month, Passover falls after the Vernal Equinox in March, 2016.  Therefore the "real" moon in early 2016 indicates no leap month is required.)

Many will argue that there is nothing in scripture requiring Passover to fall on or after the Vernal Equinox.  While that is a true statement, there are also no scriptures requiring waiting for the barely crop to ripen to identify the month of Abib, nor are there any scriptures calling for the month to begin with the sighting of the crescent moon.  But the sages do interpret Deuteronomy 16:1 "Observe the month of Abib and offer a passover sacrifice to the LORD your God, for it was in the month of Abib, at night, that the LORD your God freed you from Egypt." (JPS) to mean spring must come first, then Passover.  That means that the "month of spring" is the month in which Passover falls after spring has begun.  Again, the start of spring is determined by the sun, so the "month of spring" must be the new moon that places Passover in the month of spring which keeps the calendar in compliance with Exodus 12 and 23:15.
The need for the "leap year"

A calendar year of 12 lunar months will often keep Passover after the Vernal Equinox without doing anything, but at the end of the 2nd or 3rd year, due to the fact that the lunar year (12 lunar months) is actually short of the solar year by about 11 days, sometimes Passover would fall before the Vernal Equinox.  In that case, since the new moon of Abib would happen too early, and Passover would fall before the Vernal Equinox, and not be "in" spring, an additional lunar month must be added.  Therefore in any year, if the new moon of Abib [Nisan] would cause Passover to fall before the Vernal Equinox, an extra month is added to the year coming to an end, therefore the year which is ending will have 13 months and is a "leap year" - the rabbis call it the "embolismic year".  The added month "moves" the month of Abib forward by one month, which then establishes Passover again at the right time, after the Vernal Equinox, and the calendar is "good" for two or three years until an embolismic year is needed again.

Astronomers of ancient Babylon discovered that in the span of 19 solar years, there were exactly 235 complete lunar months.  ("Exact" here means to within about 2 hours - pretty remarkable.)  If one counted 19 solar years and the "lunar years" of 12 months by counting new moons, they'd see that in "lunar years" 19 solar years is the same as 19 years (of 12 lunar months) plus 7 months by the moon.  The astronomer Meton, about 432 BCE wrote that if an intercalary month were added to the lunar calendar 7 times in 19 years, then at the end of the 19 solar years, the number of lunar years would exactly match - i.e., 19 solar years = 19 lunar years.  Meton laid out a "schedule" of when the additional month might be added.  He said the leap years would be years 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19.  (You can see the sequence of years the extra month is added: 3, 3, 2, 2, 3, 3, 2.)

This is all well and good - mathematically.  But in reality, if you actually used the moon to indicate which year should be the leap year, the "schedule" of intercalary months may instead need to be (for example) years 3, 5, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19.  The real moon simply does not follow a repeating 3, 3, 2, 2, 3, 3, 2 cycle.   And this is the problem with 2016.  According to the real moon, 2015-2016 (the current year) does not need to be a leap year, while the next Hebrew year (2016-2017) does need to be a leap year.   But the traditional Hebrew calendar, with its rigid, preplanned schedule of leap years, ignores the real moon and inserts the leap month of Adar I, by schedule, into the 2015-2016 calendar year when it is not needed. 

Impact to the 2016 calendar

Since the traditional Hebrew calendar inserts a month in early 2016, the whole calendar year from February 9, 2016 to February 27, 2017 makes every holiday observance a month late.  As a result, the traditional Hebrew calendar will not match the calendar of The Refiner's Fire the whole period.  So here are the dates of the Feasts in both calendars:


The rigid application of the Metonic cycle without regard to the "real" moon is the major problem with the 2016 traditional Hebrew calendar which applies an unnecessary leap month manifested in February, 2016.  That unnecessary month causes all the Holy Days for 2016 in the traditional calendar to be one month late.  The many other problems with the modern traditional calendar include the use of the "molad" of the moon, which is an "average" lunar month which sometimes causes the 1st of the month to be a day early or a day late, and the rules for "postponement" where the 1st of Tishri is held 1, 2, or 3 days so Yom Kippur will not fall on a Friday or a Sunday.  We believe the use of the "average moon" to calculate the 1st day of the month is wrong.  We also believe the "postponement" rules are wrong, as they are simply not scriptural.

We realize this issue will cause no end of concern, confusion, and argument and some will simply say "follow the accepted calendar for the sake of commonality".  We can't do that.  In the end though, we don't argue "which calendar" is better or "which calendar" should be used.  We believe it is far better to observe the Holy Days rather than not observe them, so we at The Refiner's Fire recommend you learn the meaning of the Holy Days, and observe them by whichever calendar you chose.  If you have a congregation celebrating by the traditional calculated calendar, then by all means, celebrate with them.  That beats the "rest of the world" which does not observe any of the commanded Holy Days in favor of "man-made" holidays which masquerade to be about God.