Tuesday, June 27, 2017

That pesky verse about “not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk”….

Remember that verse about not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk (Exodus 23:19)? Because of this verse, Jewish halacha literally forbids the mixture of milk and meat, and consequently many refuse to eat cheeseburgers. I’ve seen many arguments about the “real meaning” of this verse, but last night while doing my yeshiva studies through Rabbi Brian Tice’s Messianic Jewish Rabbinate, I finally found a GREAT explanation of this verse. It is contained in Avigdor Bonchek’s book, Studying the Torah: A Guide to in-Depth Interpretation. Bonchek explains it like this:
The first of the first fruits of thy ground thou shalt bring to the house of the Lord thy God; Thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother’s milk” (Exodus 23:19).
This injuction forbidding seething a kid in its mother’s milk is the biblical basis for the laws of Kashruth requiring the separation of meat and milk. See how the following Plain Sense interpretation, based on the Contiguity Principle, completely divests this clause of that familiar meaning. At first glance, we have here two unrelated clauses within the same sentence.
Not so, according to the early commentator Joseph Bekhor Shor. He points out that the word Bashail, regularly translated here as “seethe,” really means “to become ripe or mature.” The phrase then means “Thou shalt not allow a kid to become mature with its mother’s milk,” that is, you should not allow the kid to mature, rather bring it as a sacrifice in the Temple. In this way, both clauses of the sentence are related: Bring your first fruits as an offering and likewise bring your first—young—animals as offerings to God.

Monday, June 19, 2017

People of the world are out of control!

People of the world are out of control – as is evidence by the most recent London mosque attack.)   This "you kill us, we'll kill you back" mentality comes straight from man's carnal, fallen nature!

Romans 10:1. My Brothers, The desire of my heart, and my intercession with Elohim for them is that they might have life. 2. For I bear them witness that there is in them a zeal for Elohim; but it is not according to knowledge. 3. For they do not know the righteousness of Elohim, but seek to establish their own righteousness: and, therefore, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of Elohim. (AENT)

2 Timothy 3: 1. But know this: That in the latter days hard times will come: 2. and men will be lovers of themselves and lovers of money, boasters, proud, revilers, unyielding towards their own people, deniers of grace, wicked, 3. unloving, addicted to irreconcilable malicious gossips, ferocious, haters of the good, 4. treacherous, rash, inflated, attached to pleasure more than to the love of Elohim, 5. having a form of respect for Elohim but wide from the power of Elohim. Them who are such, repel from you. 6. For of them are they who creep into this and that house and captivate the women who are plunged in sins and led away by divers lusts, 7. who are always learning, and can never come to the knowledge of the truth. (AENT)

James 4: 1. From where is it, that there are among you arguments and conflicts? Is it not from the lusts which war in your members? 2. You covet but do not possess; and you kill and envy, and effect nothing: and you fight and make attacks; and you do not have, because you do not ask. 3. You ask, and do not receive because you ask wickedly, that you may feed your lusts. 4. You adulterers, don’t you know that the love of the world is hatred towards Elohim? He therefore who chooses to be a lover of this world is the enemy of Elohim. (AENT)

Romans 12: 19. And be you not avengers of yourselves, my beloved: but give place to wrath. For it is written: If you do not execute judgment for yourself, I will execute judgment for you, says Elohim. 20. And if your adversary be hungry, feed him: and if he be thirsty, give him drink. For if you do these things, you will heap coals of fire on his head. 21. Do not be overcome by evil; but overcome evil with good. (AENT)

See also D’varim 32:35; Psalm 94:1; Prov. 20:22 There are no directives from B’resheet/Genesis to Revelation which counsels anyone to take vengeance upon their adversaries. YHWH says, “vengeance belongs to Me”; He will judge and resolve all matters according to His Righteous Judgment. The idea of taking vengeance upon others, as in jihad or holy war against the infidels, is rooted in fear and heathenism by those who put their faith in self rather than in Elohim.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Countering the counter-missionaries again!

Counter-missionaries get all up in arms about New Testament passages, such as the following which seems to refer to “Jesus.”

Matthew 2:13. And when they went, the messenger of Master YHWH appeared to Yosip in a dream and said to him, “Arise, take the boy and his mother and flee to Misrayin and there remain until I tell you. For Herodus is going to seek the boy as to destroy him.” 14. Yosip arose and took the boy and his mother in the night and fled to Misrayin. 15. That might be fulfilled the thing that was spoken from Master YHWH by the prophet which said that, “From Misrayin I have called my son.” (AENT)

Counter-missionaries such as the ones in this video get all bent out of shape and rush around to provide Tanach references, such as the below, “proving” that “Jesus” has to be a myth because “Israel” is always the “son”:

Hosea 11: 1 "When Isra'el was a child, I loved him; and out of Egypt I called my son.

Isaiah 11: 1 But a branch will emerge from the trunk of Yishai, a shoot will grow from his roots. 2 The Spirit of ADONAI will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and fearing ADONAI 3 he will be inspired by hearing ADONAI. He will not judge by what his eyes see or decide by what his ears hear, 4 but he will judge the impoverished justly; he will decide fairly for the humble of the land. He will strike the land with a rod from his mouth and slay the wicked with a breath from his lips.

Exodus 4: 22 Then you are to tell Pharaoh: 'ADONAI says, "Isra'el is my firstborn son.

Well, yes, Israel IS ADONAI’s son! But so is Y’shua! The answer to their particular dilemma above, however, is easily solved:

While Matthew 2:13-14 IS about Y’shua, verse 15 is NOT! According to a footnote in the AENT to Matthew 2:13-15, this verse presents a midrashic fulfillment of Hosea 11:1; the “son” in Hosea refers to Israel, not Mashiyach. You see, Mashiyach must come from “among his brethren” Israel as the ultimate fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15-18! Israel must also come out of Egypt both physically and spiritually (i.e. turn away from polytheism and anti-Torah living). This verse provides a remez (hint) of the goal of Mashiyach, while not necessarily attempting to reveal the identity of Y’shua as Mashiyach.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Let’s discuss “cursing”, i.e., vulgar language

Let’s discuss “cursing”, i.e., vulgar, foul, or offensive language often called “profanity”, “expletives” or simply “cussing”. (Another form of “cursing”: malediction or imprecation, is not the subject of the following discussion.) (All scripture from the CJB unless noted.)

On Facebook recently, we at The Refiner’s Fire came upon a Messianic Believer, an “assistant rabbi to Yeshua”, who seemed to have no compunction about the use of profanity – cursing – in his writings or displayed in ‘memes’ posted on his Facebook page. When confronted, (James 5:19-20), he responded harshly – rebuking us and telling us to “crawl back under that rock you crawled out of”. Our attempt to bring him back from his wandering path incensed him so that he went on to post a long article “justifying” the use of curse words! (Reading his screed, I could not help but notice the rabbi cited not a single verse of scripture. Not one.)

While it is true that some words/phrases found in scripture can be interpreted as obscenity (at least in the oldest, “unsanitized” manuscripts), many readers, lacking knowledge of ancient languages and failing to comprehend the underlying meaning and context of the scriptures conclude, naively, that “Since obscenity is in the Bible, it must be okay!” Well, the Bible also describes certain Kings who kept concubines, and rape is mentioned in scripture several times so by that logic, these things too must be okay! Right? One could assume however, that our assistant rabbi, bearing his title, would not lack this key knowledge and NOT draw such false conclusions. Well, hold the phone...

While our errant rabbi does not use the common argument above, he declares instead: “There is a big difference between cursing someone and using a cuss word, not to mention a cuss word to one person may not mean the same thing to another based on their culture and traditions.” He goes on to list a variety of words considered vulgar today, many of which can and do carry multiple meanings. He even offered some of those variant meanings as examples, concluding: “Are any of these words that people consider to be vulgar listed in the Torah? If they are not, then the words we think of as vulgar are based on our personal opinions. It is our cultural view as to what we by tradition claim to be vulgar, they are subjective to our feelings and opinions.

Thus, according to this "learned rabbi," it’s perfectly okay to use modern vulgarity, obscenities, and profanity because what is intended is a matter of opinion!

Notice his argument. Rather than claim that profanity is “okay because it is condoned in the Bible” (which is it not), he argues “profanity is okay because the words we use today are NOT found in the Bible”! Hmmm. Many words are not found in the Bible! Take “sexting” for example. Not found in scripture. So are we to conclude sexting is permitted by scripture? Arguing so is called “caviling”. Our “assistant rabbi” has decided to justify his verbal behavior by caviling.

Caviling is making a trivial or frivolous argument or objection. It’s truly caviling to justify obscene language and profanity when what the whole of the Bible clearly defines who we are supposed to be as children of YHWH and what Scripture conveys about how we are supposed to behave. We are to be “set apart”. (Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2, John 17:19). Justifying profanity is simply defending one’s worldly carnality – quite the opposite of holy living, which is being set apart from the filth of the world!

Our “assistant rabbi” is no doubt well aware of the meaning and intent of all the commonly known words which are vulgar, obscene, foul, derogatory, offensive, etc. The fact that “they [the words] have different meanings” is an empty argument as is the excuse that “one word to one person may be offensive to some and not to others” or that it depends on culture or tradition. Caviling! Expletives are actually much like pornography. When asked to describe his definition of pornography in Jacobellis v. Ohio in 1964, Chief Justice Potter Stewart stated:
“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [i.e., "hard-core pornography"], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it…
And so does our assistant rabbi “know profanity when he sees it!” Let’s agree that profanity is “abusive, vulgar, or irreverent language”, a dictionary definition, regardless of the cultural or traditional aspects and abandon the caviling. The question is how can we know, without a doubt, that profanity should not cross our lips in any intentional manner and that there is no room in the lives of truly God-fearing, repentant people for the inclusion of profanity in their language?

Let’s discuss this concept of “set apart” and see if that helps. Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7-8, 20:26; and Deuteronomy 14:2 all require YHWH’s people to “be holy”. So one of the first things you should be asking yourself when you first read scripture is “What does it mean for me to ‘be holy’?” This brief article may give you a hint: http://blog.therefinersfire.org/2015/05/what-does-it-mean-to-be-holy.html.

The command to “be holy” is just as applicable to us today as it was in Biblical times. (Why would THEY need to “be holy” and not us?) Who we are and how we behave, in large part, determines (and demonstrates) if we are “holy” people. Our language speaks volumes (no pun intended) as to the state of our heart and mind, and is a very expressive representation of “who we are”. Being holy “sets us apart” from common things. Now what does that mean?

Take a look at Exodus 19:5-6, Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2, and John 17:19 and see what you think. The common thread in these scriptures is that for us to be a people for YHWH, we do not live by the ways of the world (Deuteronomy 18:9). This is rephrased in John 15:19-20 and Romans 12:2. The ways of the world are “unclean”, and nothing “unclean” can be in YHWH’s presence (Leviticus 15:31, Numbers 19:20, Revelation 21:27). To be “set apart” means we conduct our lives as best we can in maintenance of a state of cleanliness in mind, body, and spirit.

What we read today in the part of the Bible we know as the “New Testament” has quite a number of amplifications or clarifications of this concept of being “set apart”. See for example 2 Corinthians 7:1, 1 John 3:2-4, Matthew 5:8, Colossians 3:5, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-7, Titus 1:15, James 4:8, the list goes on and on. What sort of picture of how children of YHWH are supposed to live do you see in these scriptures?

What does this have to do with vulgarities in speech? Well, there are no specific commands in scripture to “not speak in vulgarities, obscenities, profanities, expletives, etc.,” so I am showing you how to see it for yourself. We find quite a number of scriptures, part of those “amplifications or clarifications” which provide solid evidence that YHWH’s people don’t voluntarily speak using such language and expect to remain holy, set apart.

“What makes a person unclean is not what goes into his mouth; rather, what comes out of his mouth, that is what makes him unclean!” (Matthew 15:11)

“…what comes out of your mouth is actually coming from your heart, and that is what makes a person unclean.” (Matthew 15:18)

“Let no harmful language come from your mouth, only good words that are helpful in meeting the need, words that will benefit those who hear them.” (Ephesians 4:29) 

“Also out of place are obscenity and stupid talk or coarse language; instead, you should be giving thanks.” (Ephesians 5:4)

“Do all you can to present yourself to God as someone worthy of his approval, as a worker with no need to be ashamed, because he deals straightforwardly with the Word of the Truth. But keep away from godless babbling, for those who engage in it will only become more ungodly, and their teaching will eat away at people like gangrene” (2 Timothy 2:15-17)

“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer each one.” (Colossians 4:6, ASV)

“So too the tongue is a tiny part of the body, yet it boasts great things. See how a little fire sets a whole forest ablaze! Yes, the tongue is a fire, a world of wickedness. The tongue is so placed in our body that it defiles every part of it, setting ablaze the whole of our life; and it is set on fire by Gei-Hinnom itself. For people have tamed and continue to tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures; but the tongue no one can tame — it is an unstable and evil thing, full of death-dealing poison! With it we bless Adonai, the Father; and with it we curse people, who were made in the image of God. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing! Brothers, it isn't right for things to be this way. A spring doesn't send both fresh and bitter water from the same opening, does it? Can a fig tree yield olives, my brothers? Or a grapevine, figs? Neither does salt water produce fresh.” (James 3:5-12)

Control of one’s mouth is not just a “New Testament” thing. A number of Psalms show the tongue is for praise. Psalm 35:27-28 says “But may those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad! Let them say always, ‘How great is Adonai, who delights in the peace of his servant!’ Then my tongue will tell of your righteousness and praise you all day long.” Psalm 119:171-172 reads “Let my lips speak praise, because you teach me your laws. Let my tongue sing of your promise, because all your mitzvot are righteous.” Psalm 50:16-21 says: “But to the wicked God says: ‘What right do you have to proclaim my laws or take my covenant on your lips, when you so hate to receive instruction and fling my words behind you? When you see a thief, you join up with him, you throw in your lot with adulterers, you give your mouth free rein for evil and harness your tongue to deceit; you sit and speak against your kinsman, you slander your own mother's son. When you do such things, should I stay silent? You may have thought I was just like you; but I will rebuke and indict you to your face’.”

These Psalms do not say, “My tongue will sing praise – as soon as I’m done cursing!”

Considering the Psalms, let us return to the command to “be holy” (for example, Leviticus 19:2). The Hebrew word for “holy” is “kadosh”, and kadosh can also mean “saint.” Jewish sages have written that kadosh, actually means to be “distinct” or “separate.” So the commandment to “be holy” can be understood more deeply as “be separate”. The Hebrew words “ve’amar’ta ‘ele’him kedoshim ti’h’yoo” literally means “say to them ‘become holy people’”.

This requires action on the part of the people. They must do something to “become holy people”. This understanding of “be holy” goes a long way to explain why the Torah is filled with so many specific “do's and don’ts” which begin to define what it is to “be holy”.  So “be holy”, actually demands that you embrace a life beyond the mere list of “do's and don’ts”! YHWH is saying, “Live your life for Me distinct and separate from the common.”

While there is no specific prohibition if vulgar speech in Torah, it is folly to expect that Torah could possibly list all that is permitted and all that is prohibited to spell out what it means to “be holy”! Speech is taken for granted by most and is thought simply a superficial act. Our "assistant rabbi" and his lengthy justification for using vulgarity, amply demonstrates this. But is speech superficial? Go back and read James 3:5-12 again (above).

In truth your speech has just as strong an impact on your inner self as it does on others. The words from your mouth engrave a mark on your mind and heart. Foul words slowly eat away at your character. No matter how strong the foundation of your character, a few obscene words crack that foundation and weaken it. As a building slowly becomes unstable with a damaged foundation, so one’s character is slowly destroyed by their speech. That is why vulgarity is not to be used. And that is why is it not necessary for vulgarity to be expressly prohibited in scripture. Vulgarity is the antithesis of “holy”.

I’m going to close with a story: A teacher went about the community while speaking crudely and using foul and offensive language. Soon, he noticed fewer and fewer people would gather around for him to teach. One day, he found no one would talk to him. That night, he realized the wrong he had done, how he had offended everyone in town and began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi to find out what he could do, saying he would do anything he could to make amends to the town. The rabbi told the man, "Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds." The man puzzled a moment about how that would help, but it was not a difficult assignment, and he went home and did as the rabbi said. When he returned the next day to tell the rabbi that he had completed the task, the rabbi said, "Now, go and gather all the feathers.” The man’s heart sank. “I can’t”, he said. The rabbi continued, “And you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recover all the feathers."

Thankfully, when in the anger of the moment, we let a foul or obscene word slip out, our great and merciful Creator will forgive us. We know this because we are His and when we acknowledge our sin, we are forgiven (1 John 1:9). But if you are a believer who sees nothing wrong with making obscene and vulgar language a part of your day-to-day speech you might want to consider spending some time on your knees.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Two of God’s end times prophecies were fulfilled after WWII…because of what Hitler did!

DID YOU KNOW - God used what Hitler did during WWII, to bring about TWO of His end times prophecies? It's true!

In Isaiah 66:7-8, the prophet (1) foreshadowed the re-birth of Israel, and, just like the Bible says - (2) it happened "in one day." The woman giving birth before going into labor represents Israel. This accurately describes what happened on May 14, 1948 - when "the world" briefly felt sorry for the Jews and returned Israel to them and they were able to declare independence for Israel as a united and sovereign nation for the first time in 2,900 years.

During that same day, the United States issued a statement recognizing Israel's sovereignty. And, only hours beforehand, a United Nations mandate expired, ending British control of the land. During a 24-hour span of time, foreign control of the land of Israel had formally ceased, and Israel had declared its independence, and its independence was acknowledged by other nations. Modern Israel was literally was born in a single day.

Isaiah said the birth would take place before there would be labor pains. And that too is precisely what happened. A movement called Zionism began in the 1800s to encourage Jews worldwide to move to Israel, which at that time was called Palestine. Within hours of the declaration of independence in 1948, Israel was attacked by the surrounding countries of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

When reading Isaiah 66:7-8, keep in mind that Israel's status as a sovereign nation was established and reaffirmed during the course of a single day, and that it was born of a movement called Zionism, and that its declaration of independence was not the result of a war but rather the cause of one.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Counter-missionaries suggest the New Testament contains lies

Counter-missionaries are complaining that the New Testament is lying with passages such as the below, insisting that the original passage in Isaiah refers to ADONAI, not Y’shua. Let’s take a look at these passages:

Isaiah 45:22 “Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am Ěl, and there is none else. 23 “I have sworn by Myself, a word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, so that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue swear. 24 “One shall say, ‘Only in יהוה do I have righteousness and strength’ – he comes to Him. And all those displeased with Him shall be put to shame. (ISR)

Romans 14: 10. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or, why do you despise your brother? For we must all stand before the judgment seat of Mashiyach! 11. As it is written: As I live, says Master YHWH, to me every knee will bow; and to me every tongue will give praise. 12. So then, every one of us must give account of himself to Elohim. (AENT)

RESPONSE: By rising from the dead and ascending into heaven, Y’shua becomes what he always was: the Word that is with Elohim and is Elohim (John 1:1-5). According to a footnote in the AENT, Y’shua is the exact reflection of YHWH’s nature (Hebrews 1:1-5) and will bear the name, “Word of Elohim” when he comes out of heaven again at the second coming (Revelation 19:13).

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Is it any wonder our world is under judgment?

 We humans just don't get it: Everything YHWH ever considered "bad" is now considered "good" by the world. Instead of telling folks to "stop being so promiscuous," so that this hideous STD could die out on its own, we came up with a pill that prevents one of the worst diseases in the world: HIV/AIDS. Monogamy and His male/female sex design are a thing of the past.

Yes, there's an HIV prevention pill on the near horizon, which means you don't even have to bother wearing condoms while you're being promiscuous! Just take your little daily "blue pill," and you're good to go! No need to change your lifestyle; if it feels good, DO it! Don't let some little thing like HIV/AIDS get in your way!

Leviticus 18: 22 - You are not to go to bed with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination.

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.