Doers Of The Law Will Be Justified

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Does Romans really teach the law has been abolished? The answer is, emphatically no.

The problem that Christians have with Paul in Romans 6 and 7 is that Paul is talking about two laws, the law of God and the law of sin (Romans 7:25). In Romans 8:2, these two laws are referred to as the law of the Spirit and the law of sin and death. Christians can’t see these two laws clearly because they lack a solid foundation of Torah from a Hebraic perspective and because they have accepted incorrect teaching that has been passed down to them for many generations.

Let’s begin this discussion with Romans 2:9:  “There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek.”  Is the opposite of this true?  It should be, but it sure hasn’t been my experience.  The law of YHVH defines what is good, righteous, and holy. It defines evil by telling us what to avoid.  If we don’t embrace the law of YHVH, we can expect tribulation and distress on a regular basis, especially as the end comes upon us. Of course, we can also expect this when we are surrounded by others who commit evil too.  It’s just how life can be.

Paul is really not presenting a new concept.  He’s presenting what Moses said in Deuteronomy 11:26-28. Basically, you will be blessed if you obey the commandments of YHVH your God, or you will be cursed if you disobey the commandments of YHVH your God.

When we think about our lives, we know that we have often given in to the sinful desires of the flesh.  Just as Messiah died and was raised from the dead, we are to put to death the deeds and desires of the flesh and walk in newness of life by the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).

We are not to be slaves of sin but slaves of righteousness.  According to John 8:34, “if you commit sin, you are a slave of sin.”  Since we all sin from time to time, I think he is speaking more in terms of habitual sin.  In Romans 6:6, Paul said that our old man was crucified with Messiah so that the body of sin might be done away with; in other words, we should no longer be slaves of sin.  Sin came into the world through Adam; this resulted in death being spread to all men.  In a similar fashion, Messiah reversed that result through one act of righteousness. Previously, Adam’s sin led to the condemnation of many, but Messiah’s righteousness led to justification of many.

So what is justification? Justification is the action of declaring someone righteous in God’s sight.  It is a separate act from what the law does, and it takes place as a result of a few separate things (Romans 3:21-31).

First, there is an act of righteousness that comes through faith.  For Abraham, it was a faith that God would keep His promise that Abraham’s descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heaven (Genesis 15:4-6).  That one act of belief was considered righteousness for Abraham. It was an act of faith that looked into the future, which he could not see with his own eyes.  For us, our act of faith is believing that God raised Yeshua from the dead (Romans 4:23-25). This is an act of faith that looks into the past, which we cannot see with our own eyes.

Second, there is an act of righteousness that comes by God’s grace as a gift.  This gift or act of righteousness is God’s free to us, but it was a costly gift from the Father.  It was the cost of redemption put forth by God; it was the blood of Yeshua given as a propitiation for our sin.

When we believe that God raised Yeshua from the dead, we are believing/trusting that we have been redeemed from the curse of the law of sin and death with the blood of Yeshua, which was given as a propitiation for our sin. Folks, this is not the end of the story as most Christians believe it to be.

These two acts of righteousness were performed by two different parties to draw us into an ancient covenant with one another.  I’m speaking of the covenant on Mount Sinai where YHVH gave the terms of the covenant to Moses to pass on to the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt.

We can see this displayed in the following chiasm:

Faith of Abraham: that YHVH would keep His promise of many descendants and give him land as an inheritance. Abraham killed and cut the offerings given for the covenant where God, as a smoking oven and burning torch walked between the cut parts (Genesis 15:4-21). 

God sending Moses to lead the people out of slavery and through the waters of the Red Sea to the other side.

A seh (animal from the sheep or the goats) was offered as Passover sacrifice for the Threshold Covenant.

**Covenant on Mount Sinai

Yeshua was offered as the Passover Lamb for the New Threshold Covenant. The terms of this covenant are the same as the original; these terms are to be written on our hearts.

God send Yeshua to lead people out of slavery to sin. They are to receive the baptism of repentance. They are to cross over/be raised from death to life.

Faith of believers: that God raised Yeshua from the dead so they could walk in newness of life. Believers must receive the free gift of God’s grace with which He redeemed us; this gift of grace was God offering His son, Yeshua as a propitiation for our sin by the hands of wicked men. Believers now stand in grace because they have been bought with a price.

In Romans 3:31, Paul himself said that the law is not abolished because of man’s faith in Yeshua. Indeed, Paul upheld the law of YHVH.  Not only that, Paul previously said, “all who have sinned under the law of YHVH will be judged by the law of YHVH (Romans 2:1).”

Now let me present two apparently conflicting statements Paul made:

  • “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified (Romans 2:13).”
  • “For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).”

Which is it? Is Paul trying to confuse us?  Can both verses be correct? Yes, they can!  The problem is that these verses are often quoted out of context.  Paul has made statements with ellipses.  We must use the context of the text to insert words into the ellipses for it to all make sense.

In Romans 2, Paul is comparing and contrasting lawless, wicked people with lawful, righteous people. It’s a basic repeat of the warning Moses gave to the people long ago.  If you obey YHVH’s commands, you will have blessing and life.

We can restate Romans 2:13 by filling in Paul’s ellipses as: “For it is not the hearers of the law of YHVH who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law of YHVH who will be justified.”

In Romans 3, Paul is talking about those who are all under sin. They are disobedient to the law of YHVH. According to Moses, if you disobey YHVH’s laws, you’ll have cursing and death. This is also known as the law of sin, or the law of sin and death (because sin leads to death).

We can restate Romans 3:20 by filling in Paul’s ellipses as: “For by works of the law of sin no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law of YHVH comes knowledge of sin.”

We are not supposed to allow sin, as define by the law of YHVH, to reign in our lives.  We are not under the law of sin, but the law of grace.

Paul reminded his readers, “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? (Romans 6:16)”

Based on what Moses told the second generation that came out of Egypt, Romans 6:23 now makes sense when we clarify the word “sin” this way: “For the wages of sin (lawlessness) is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So what is the purpose of the law of YHVH? There are two purposes.  First, it was a tutor to teach us what is righteous and what is not (Galatians 3:24-25). In other words, it defines righteousness.  It was also to bring us to Messiah so we could be the seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:25 seems to indicate we are no longer under this tutor.  Is that correct?  I think this verse specifically applies more to Paul’s original readers in Galatia than to us. The reason I say that is because the Jews and many converted Gentiles were raised on the Torah. They knew it well.  For us, the opposite is often true. We either do not know it at all, or we don’t know it as well as we should. We can look at this concept in a reverse-chiastic fashion.

Torah brings people to Messiah.

**People are redeemed by the blood of Messiah and justified by faith in Messiah.

Those justified by faith in Messiah are brought to Torah so they can learn how to live righteously (walk in holiness).

Acts 15:19-21 supports this idea.  Originally, many Gentiles were turning to Messiah that had no knowledge of Torah.  The Jerusalem Council submitted a letter with a judgment to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.  These are the core teachings of Torah found in Leviticus. These things were the major things plaguing the Gentiles.  They could learn the rest of the Torah from what was being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.

Previously, we mentioned two acts of righteousness. The first was believing that God rose Yeshua from the dead. The second was God’s act of redeeming man with the blood of His son. A third act of righteousness would be man’s trusting in the act of God redeeming people from the curse of the law.  Acts of righteousness are not supposed to stop here.  There are many other acts of righteousness we are expected to do.  We can’t know what all of those are unless we study the Torah and begin doing them.

Why should we be concerned with Torah?  Didn’t Yeshua fulfill the law?  Actually, He did NOT fulfill ALL of it yet.  There is much prophecy to be fulfilled when He returns.  Does that shock you?  It shouldn’t.  Everything won’t be fulfilled until heaven and earth pass away.  Those who teach that the law has already been fulfilled or that it is not necessary to do it will be LEAST in the kingdom of God.  See Matthew 5:17-19 if you aren’t sure.

So why should we concerned with Torah? It’s because the final purpose of the law of YHVH is our holiness.  This is the fruit we are supposed to bear to God.  We are not to bear the fruit of wickedness.

Look at the following verses:

Romans 6:19:  “I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.”

Romans 6:21-23: “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? [My answer: Wickedness] For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Again, this is nothing new. Moses gave them same choice many years ago.

With this in mind, let’s look at Romans 7:4-6 with his ellipses filled in:  “Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law (of sin and death) through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another — to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law (of sin and death) were at work in our members to bear fruit to death. 6 But now we have been delivered from the law (of sin and death), having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter.”

Now, we look at Torah, we can agree with Paul and say, “Therefore the law (of YHVH) is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good (Romans 7:12).”

So, if you thought the written law was abolished, you probably don’t even know what it teaches.  You need to be tutored in the written law of YHVH so you know what righteousness really is.  As you learn it, go and do it.

If you’ve taught others that the law of YHVH was abolished, repent; start teaching otherwise.

Do not allow yourself to set your mind on the flesh; that leads to death.  Set your mind on the Spirit; this leads to life and peace. Remember, a mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed it cannot.  Submit to God’s law and live. This is what being led by the Spirit is all about (Romans 8:6-7, 13).

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Salvation from Genesis to Revelation Part 3

So far in this presentation on salvation, we have looked at the history of salvation in the Tanach (Old Testament) and watched it progress into the Brit Chadashah (New Testament).

We’ve seen that people were saved from their enemies and eventually from their own sin which was leading them on a path of destruction and death.

We saw that the work of salvation (referring to the original Passover and deliverance from Egypt) was a past event…. that allowed the mixed multitude to enter the covenant; if salvation hadn’t happened, they could not have entered into the covenant.

We also saw that the work of salvation is a future event when Yeshua will deal with His and Israel’s enemies.  Until that happens, we can’t enter the world to come (ha-olam habba)..

In this 3rd part of the presentation on salvation we are going to look at how to enter the covenant because…the original Passover Lamb was a type of the death of the Passover Lamb (Yeshua).

And just as the mixed multitude entered into the original covenant with YHVH, we must enter the new covenant.

In part 4, we will eventually look at several patterns that demonstrate the full plan of YHVH’s salvation.

Remember, God always operates in patterns.

Personally, I think patterns help us:

  • To see the consistency of the work of YHVH over time, even when opposition takes place;
  • To be confident that what has been passed down to us is reliable.
  • To see the purpose (significance) of certain obscure commandments, statutes, and judgments.

We need to bear in mind that when comparing and contrasting patterns:

  • They can show opposition (the opposite of what is expected happens) because of the personal choices of the participants.
  • They can have a corporate or individual midrash (application).

Let’s look at the pattern of the Passover:

Passover

Slavery in Egypt Slavery to Sin

Sin can refer to our 3 enemies: the world, our flesh, and Satan’s kingdom (Satan and his demons).

This can be referred to as spiritual Egypt.

Passover lamb or goat Yeshua, the Lamb of God
Delivered from Egypt with a mighty hand and outstretched arm. Delivered us from sin with a mighty hand and outstretched arm on the cross.
Mixed multitude came to Mount Sinai; cleansed and set-apart themselves; and entered the covenant. We must come to a point of decision; cleanse and set-apart ourselves; and enter the covenant.

 

Salvation exists in two stages:

  1. The first is defined as being saved (BEING TURNED AWAY) from your sins, being saved from your enemies, and/or being saved from destruction.
  2. The second is defined as being preserved for the kingdom of God; this is a by-product or result of trusting YHVH and obeying the law.

Salvation is therefore a blessing of abiding by the covenant; which is working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  Once the first stage takes place, we must enter YHVH’s covenant.  We must live a lifestyle of faith by obeying YHVH’s commandments.

As we think about salvation, we need to understand what Paul was saying in Romans 10.  Paul said:  “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved (sotarian).”  Paul is wanting and praying for the lost people of Israel to be preserved for God’s kingdom.”  According to verses 2-3, Israel had a zeal for God but they were attempting to establish their own righteousness instead of submitting to the righteousness of God.  I strongly believe this is referring to their oral traditions and/or living liked they pleased, and not living the written Torah.

For us today, everyone is doing what they consider to be acceptable in their own eyes; they are attempting to establish their own righteousness while ignoring how God defines his righteousness.

This is not an option for God’s people.

Paul continues his discourse in Romans 10 by quoting from Leviticus 18:5 and Deuteronomy 30:12-14.

Our English translations of a few Greek words in Romans 10:5-8 mislead us to believe Paul is talking about two different things but he’s not. He mentioned:

  • The Righteousness which is of the law (written by Moses);
  • The Righteousness which is of faith (which is described by Moses in Deuteronomy 30:12-14)

In Romans 10:4-8, I am making some substitutions for a couple of Greek words.

  • NKJ Romans 10:4-5 “For (gar) Christ is the end (fulfillment, goal) of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.  For (gar) Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, ‘The man who does those things shall live by them.’”
  • NKJ  Romans 10:6-7 But (de; Moreover,) the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).”
    • Verse 6 begins with the Greek word de. Most English versions translate de as “but;” however, it can and should be translated “moreover” since he’s about to quote Moses.
  • NKJ Romans 10:8 But (alla; Moreover,) what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach)”:
    • Verse 8 begins with the Greek word alla. In this instance, alla is an ascensive transition and also should be translated as “moreover.”  Since our English translations use the word “but” in both instances we incorrectly assume the righteousness of the law is different from the righteousness of faith.

In this quote, Paul does not feel the need to point out the rest of Deuteronomy 30:14 which says “…that you may do it.”

Now let’s continue with verse 9:  “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Yeshua and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (sothasa; future, passive, indicative).”

This sounds simple enough.  We need to ask ourselves, “Is this all I need to do to enter the covenant?”  If we are interested in the truth, we need to take more into account than just a single verse.

We need to investigate this some more. Let’s compare this with what Rahab did to be sure.

 

 

Rahab

Jews & Gentiles

Blood of the Covenant Joshua 2:18

The scarlet cord in the window symbolized the blood of the Passover Lamb. (Remez = hint)

Matthew 26:28; John 19:34

The cup of wine symbolized the blood of Yeshua, the Passover Lamb; & the new covenant.

Hear, Believe, and Confess Joshua 2:11

H – Rahab heard…

B– YHVH has given you the land (believed the works of YHVH).

C– YHVH your God, He is God in heaven and on earth beneath.

Rom. 10:9, 17; Philip. 2:11; John 20:31

H– We must hear…

B– God raised Yeshua from the dead (believe the works of YHVH).

C– Adonai Yeshua; Yeshua is Adonai (Lord); He is Messiah, He is the Son of God.

 

The Blood of the Covenant is required for salvation to take place.

In Joshua 2:18 we see that Rahab placed a scarlet cord in her window.  Without her realizing it, this became the symbol of the blood of the Passover Lamb that had marked the homes of God’s people the night YHVH passed over them and killed the Egyptians.  Thematically, the scarlet cord and the blood of the Passover Lamb are used the same way.  This signal was used to identify the house that was to be passed over when the army came to destroy Jericho.

 

Hearing, believing, and confession are also required for salvation to take place.

WHAT WAS HEARD

Joshua 2:10-11 – Rahab told the spies:  For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you…”

BELIEF

Joshua 2:9 – She also said: “I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you.”

CONFESSION

Joshua 2:11b – “for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.”

 

For Jews and Gentiles alike, the cup of wine that the disciples drank at Yeshua’s last meal was the blood of the new covenant.  It symbolized the blood of Yeshua, the Passover Lamb.  We drink it in remembrance of what He did for us.

Just as Rahad heard bad news, we must HEAR good news; we now have opposition in the pattern.  This is why Paul says…

Romans 10:17 – “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

Romans 10:14-15 – How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

Just as Rahab confessed something, we must make a CONFESSION

Romans 10:9  — “that if you confess with your mouth Yeshua HaMashiach and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

[You should confess who He is: He’s Adonai Yeshua (the cornerstone; Lamb of God; Messiah; Son of God), and you should confess what He does:  He saves]

Romans 10:12-13 – For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever (whether Jew or Greek) calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Rahab obviously lived before Yeshua’s time on earth but the pattern for salvation is the same.

Now let’s see how people are justified and saved

Rahab

Jews & Gentiles

Justified (Declared Righteous) James 2:24-25

Rahab was justified by her works and faith.

James 2:21-24

You see then that a man [like Abraham] is justified by works, and not by faith only.

Was/Will Be Saved Joshua 6:17; Hebrews 11:31

Saved by faith, because she received the spies in peace and hid them (Faith demonstrated by ACTION).

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

 

Justified (Declared righteous)

James 2:25 — Rahab’s works were receiving the messengers and sending them out another way.

Rahab was not the only one justified by works and faith; Abraham was too when he offered Isaac on the altar (James 2:21).  James tells us Genesis 15:6 was fulfilled, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to his for righteousness.” This is a midrash.  Abraham believed God’s promise of a son that would come from his own body; this was Isaac.  What do we do? We believe in Yeshua, the son of God.  Like Abraham, we have to have action to go with our faith/belief.  We offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God; we obey God’s commandments, performs acts of chesed (loving kindness, covenant love, etc).

In Acts 15:11, Peter said:  “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Yeshua HaMashiach the Jews shall be saved in the same manner as the Gentiles.”

Everyone is saved and justified (declared righteous) by faith which is demonstrated by works.  The purpose of both is so we can experience the blessings and not the curses of the law.

Ephesians 2:8-9 seems to contradict being saved and justified by faith which is demonstrated by our works.  Don’t worry about this for now; we will see what this is really about shortly.

Let’s continue with Romans 10:10 –“For with the heart one believes unto (eis) righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto (eis) salvation (sotarian).”

  • The Greek word “eis” can mean unto, but it also means for the purpose of or to denote a specific goal.

The purpose or goal of believing/trusting is righteousness and the purpose or goal of confessing is salvation (to turn us away from sin and to preserve us for the kingdom of God).  When we confess something, we are supposed to follow through with our actions.

There’s something else I want everyone to see as we continue with Romans 10:11 – For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” [G = kataisxuno; H = yebosh (spelled: yod-bet-vav-shin)].

  • MT Isaiah 28:16 “will not act hastily” (H = yachiysh; spelled: yod-chet-yod-shin)
  • LXE Isaiah 28:16 “shall by no means be ashamed (G = kataisxuntha).

Now why in the world does Paul say this?  As I looked at this verse, I ran into a few problems.

This quote is from Isaiah 28:16.  The MT says “will not act hastily.”  There’s a similarity in Hebrew spelling. Both begin with yod and end with shin; vav looks similar to yod.  This makes me think there’s a possible textual criticism issue here.

  • The LXE Isaiah 28:16 “shall by no means be ashamed (kataisxuntha).”
    • Aorist Passive Subjunctive 3rd person singular
  • Romans 10:11 “will not be put to shame” (kataisxuno)
    • Future Passive Indicative 3rd person singular

I believe Paul is using this quote to clue us in to a deeper teaching here.  If we don’t explore it, we’ll miss something very important.  Actually, we’ll be making several connections between several different passages so stay with me.

Since there may be a problem with the MT, let’s look at the LX-English for the verse Paul is quoting in Romans 10:11.

  • LXE Isaiah 28:16 “Therefore thus saith the Lord, even the Lord (Adonai YHVH), <1> Behold, I lay for the foundations of Sion (Tzion) a costly stone, a choice, a corner-stone, a precious stone, for its foundations; and he that believes on him shall by no means be ashamed.”

In Romans 10:11, Paul is connecting Adonai Yeshua to the cornerstone by quoting Isaiah 28:16b.

  • The word ashamed in Romans 10:11 is also connected to Zechariah 10:5 which also mentions the cornerstone. Let’s look at that to see what we can glean.
  • NKJ Zechariah 10:3-5 For the Lord of hosts (YHVH Tsevaot) will visit His flock, The house of Judah, And will make them as His royal horse in the battle.  4 From him comes the cornerstone, From him the tent peg (nail; stake), From him the battle bow, From him every ruler (oppressor) together. 5 They shall be like mighty men, Who tread down their enemies In the mire of the streets in the battle. They shall fight because the Lord (יְהוָה) is with them, And the riders on horses shall be put to shame.”

The enemies of the house of Judah are not going to be trusting or believing in YHVH Tsevaot or Yeshua to save them.  They will be put to shame.

The house of Judah will be trusting in the cornerstone and YHVH Tsevaot to save them; they will not be put to shame.

We still need to take a closer look at the cornerstone mentioned in these verses.  To do that, we need to look at a chiasm in Psalm 118:16-29.

As I just said, Psalm 118:16-29 is a chiasm.  Actually, this chiasm is the 2nd half of a larger one that includes Psalm 117-118.

The outer verses begin and end with praise; these point to:

  • the Way to Enter the Covenant
  • The Agent of Salvation
  • the Means of Salvation

 

The inclusio shares the theme of YHVH being exalted.  It says: 

Psalm 118:15-29

Praise 15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation Is in the tents of the righteous;

The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.

16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted;

The right hand of the Lord does valiantly.

Works of YHVH
The Way of

Salvation

Works of YHVH
Praise 28 You are my God, and I will praise You;

You are my God, I will exalt You.

29 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

 

The First Works of YHVH give us a subtle clue (or REMEZ) that YHVH has a plan to deal with death.

Psalm 118:15-29

Praise
Works of YHVH 17 I shall not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord.

18 The Lord has chastened me severely, But He has not given me over to death.

The Way of

Salvation

Works of YHVH
Praise

 

Now, how is YHVH going to make it possible for the psalmist to live and not die?

Let’s look at the corresponding verses to see if it gives us any more clues.

Psalm 118:15-29
Praise
Works of YHVH
The Way of

Salvation

Works of YHVH 23 This was YHVH‘s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.

24 This is the day YHVH has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save now, I pray, O YHVH;

O YHVH, I pray, send now prosperity.

26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of YHVH!

We have blessed you from the house of YHVH.

27 God is YHVH, And He has given us light;

Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.

Praise

 

Here, in this section, we have another chiasm imbedded in the original.

Let’s begin with the central axis

Green:  26 “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.”

The first half of this verse is what the Jews cried out on the day of Yeshua’s final entry into Jerusalem.  Yeshua is the one this chiasm is about.  This is the central focus of this section of the chiasm.

 

Blue:  The psalmist’s plea:  

25b “O YHVH, I pray, send now prosperity.” [Give us Blessing and life instead of curses and death].

Recall that John 10:10 says:  The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I (Yeshua) have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

This verse helps us to understand that this chiasm is still pointing to Yeshua.

 

27 “God is YHVH, And He has given us light.” [He’s given us Light instead of darkness];

Recall that Matthew 4:16-17 says,   The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.” 17 From that time Yeshua began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

As you can see, this chiasm is still pointing to Yeshua.

 

Purple:  This section shows us the provision of salvation.

23 This was YHVH’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.

24 This is the day YHVH has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save now, I pray, O YHVH

How is YHVH going to “save now” on this particular day?  The answer is in the 2nd half of verse 27.  It says:

27b “Bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar.” [This sacrifice is being made on this special day to make propitiation; and to make removing the curse possible]

Yeshua was slain from the foundation of the world in the heavenly realm; yet this verse contains a hint (remez) of what would be done to Yeshua in the future in the earthly realm.

Recall that John 1:29-30 says, “The next day John saw Yeshua coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

AND 1 John 2:2 says, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

1 John 4:10-11  re-emphasizes the same thing:  “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

Gal 3:13-14 tells us more:  Messiah has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Messiah Yeshua, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

In other words, Yeshua’s sacrifice reversed the curse of death so we could have life.

If anyone doesn’t realize that the Tanach tells us about Yeshua’s death or that it was a work of YHVH, it is right here.  It’s also in Isaiah 53:3-7.

  • We could say Ephesians 2:8-10 this way: “For by grace you have been saved (sesosmenoi; perfect passive participle) through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of [your own] works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus (Messiah Yeshua) for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

YHVH’s works accomplished salvation, not man’s works.  The good works we were created to do was walk in His commandments and other acts of chesed.

Paul told us that the law was not made void because of faith.  He upheld the authority of the law in Romans 3:31.  Paul told us in Romans 2:13 that the doers of the law will be justified; in other words we are justified by our actions.

Now we aren’t done with this chiasm.  Here’s the central axis:

Psalm 118:15-29

Praise
Works of YHVH
The Way of

Salvation

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them,

And I will praise YHVH.

 20 This is the gate of YHVH, Through which the righteous shall enter.

 21 I will praise You,

For You have answered me,

And have become my [agent of] salvation.

 22 The stone which the builders rejected

Has become the chief cornerstone.

Works of YHVH
Praise

 

The central axis of the chiasm is comprised of 2 pairs of parallels (one for the gate, and one for the cornerstone).  Both hint of Yeshua.

1st PARALLEL

Yeshua said:

John 14:6  …I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

John 10:9  I am the door (gate).  If anyone enters by Me [ENTER THE COVENANT], he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” 

2ND PARALLEL

Acts 4:10-12  “let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Yeshua HaMashiach of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’  12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

1 Peter 2:4-10  “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Yeshua HaMashiach. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.7 Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense.” They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed. 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”

  • Isaiah 53:3-6 also describes the rejection and sacrifice of the Messiah/Cornerstone: 3 “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.”
  • This last verse typologically describes the person Yeshua as a grain offering, sin and guilt offering, and a peace offering.

Here’s the summary of the chiasm:

Psalm 118:15-29

Praise The right hand of YHVH is exalted and does valiantly.
Works of YHVH We do not have to be given over to death.
The Way of

Salvation

Yeshua is the GATE/DOOR of Righteousness through which the righteous will come to the Father.  Yeshua is the Agent of YHVH’s Salvation; He is the CORNERSTONE which the CHIEF PRIESTS AND ELDERS OF THE PEOPLE rejected.
Works of YHVH Instead we are given the means to have life through the SACRIFICE [OF YESHUA].
Praise You are my God.  I will praise and exalt You.  Give thanks to YHVH, for He is good!  His mercy endures forever.

 

Be sure to come back for part 4 of Salvation from Genesis to Revelation.

The Watchman

Do you want your life to be delivered from pain, suffering, or death? This is a good question that everyone needs to ask themselves. Most would say, “Of course!” Isn’t this what we do as we navigate our lives? I’d say we spend a lot of time doing just that. If we want to be delivered from a crisis, sometimes we need ample warning. In ancient times, this warning came from someone known as a watchman.

The first time we see mention of a watchman in Scripture is in 2 Samuel 13:34 after Absalom killed Amnon for raping Tamar; the watchman saw many people coming from the road behind him by the side of the mountain. Due to an inaccurate report, David feared that all of his sons had been killed by Absalom. It turned out that only Amnon was dead and David’s other sons had fled for their lives from Baal Hazor; they were seen by the watchman as they returned and David was informed of that.

In 2 Samuel 18, a watchman who was on the roof of a gate reported to King David that he saw two men running; the second man brought news of Absalom’s death. In 2 Kings 9, a watchman was standing on the tower in Jezreel and saw a company of Jehu. In response to that, two horsemen were sent separately to ask Jehu if he was coming in peace. According to the report of the watchman, neither of them returned. Upon hearing this, Joram gave orders to get ready to fight. After giving this order, he left to determine the seriousness of the situation. We can see that the report of this watchman was a warning about what he saw coming to the city from afar; this caused a response by the leaders in the city.

Based on Isaiah 21, a watchman kept track of the time. Generally, a watchman warned of danger that approached the city from afar and gave warning so that the people had time to respond to possible physical threats. Ezekiel 33 explains that when the watchman saw the sword coming upon the land, he blew a trumpet and warned the people. This trumpet was a shofar, usually a ram’s horn. Whenever the people heard the shofar, they were supposed to heed the warning so they could escape with their life. If someone did not heed the warning and a sword came and took him away, he would be responsible for his own death (his blood would be on his own head).

Ezekiel 33 explains the responsibility of a slightly different kind of watchman—the spiritual kind. Ezekiel was to hear a word from YHVH and pass that warning onto the people; in other words, Ezekiel was YHVH’s shofar. The job of the watchman is the responsibility of the prophet.

If YHVH spoke to the wicked to tell them they were going to die, Ezekiel was to warn the people so they would turn from their evil way. If they refused to quit sinning, they died in their iniquity. Because Ezekiel warned them, his own soul was spared.

If the people heard Ezekiel’s warning, and asked how they could live, Ezekiel was to tell them to turn from their evil ways, and to do what is lawful and right. If someone was righteous and then committed iniquity, he too, would die in his sin because he turned away from righteousness; he committed apostasy instead of continuing to do what was lawful and right. Ezekiel was basically telling them not to think we have a bank account in which the good can outweigh the bad in order to have life. YHVH will judge all of us according to our own ways.

Recently, I heard someone teach that Ezekiel 33:12 refers to self-righteousness and not obedience to the law. It says, “Therefore you, O son of man, say to the children of your people: `The righteousness of the righteous man shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression; as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall because of it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; nor shall the righteous be able to live because of his righteousness in the day that he sins.’ If I understood correctly, this person was trying to say that self-righteousness doesn’t bring life just as much as wickedness doesn’t. He interpreted the words “his righteousness” as self-righteousness, and believed that the passage switched back and forth between God’s righteousness and self-righteousness; this is not correct. I think Ezekiel 18:18-20 helps us to see what “his righteousness” means by looking at the opposite scenario.

Ezekiel 18:18-20 says, “As for his father, Because he cruelly oppressed, Robbed his brother by violence, And did what is not good among his people, Behold, he shall die for his iniquity. 19 “Yet you say,`Why should the son not bear the guilt of the father?’ Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and observed them, he shall surely live. 20 “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.”

Note how Ezekiel 18:18 refers to the wicked man’s iniquity as “his iniquity.” This is the iniquity the man himself committed. In a similar fashion, when Ezekiel 33:12 refers to “his righteousness,” it is pointing back to the lawful and right things someone did by keeping and observing all of YHVH’s commandments, statutes and judgments.

Ezekiel 33:18 uses the same phrase, “his righteousness.” Again, YHVH is not referring to self-righteousness here (doing what’s right in a man’s own eyes OR following the traditions of men); it says if someone turns from doing righteousness (the written law) and commits iniquity, he will die because of it. The key to life is to shema YHVH; we are to listen and obey His commandments. This shows we know and love YHVH.

If there is still any question, we can look at a few more verses from the Brit Chadasha (New Testament):

  • 1 John 3:4: “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”
    This is the definition of sin; it’s Torah-lessness.
  • Matthew 13:41-42: “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 “and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
  •  Matthew 7:19-23: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me,`Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 “Many will say to Me in that day,`Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them,`I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

YHVH and Ezekiel are not telling the people anything new. In Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Moses told the people: “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments (mitzvah), His statutes (chuqqah), and His judgments (mishpat), that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; 20 that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.” Obedience was and still is the will of the Father!

Eventually, Ezekiel was in exile in Babylon. Some people still remained in Jerusalem until it was captured in the 12th year of their captivity. Prior to this, Ezekiel had been mute but when a man who had escaped Jerusalem came and told him of the fall of Jerusalem, Ezekiel’s mouth was opened and he was able to speak. The people remaining in the ruins of the land of Israel felt they still deserved the land that had been given to them as a possession. The problem was that they had not been obeying YHVH’s commandments. They had been eating meat with blood; committing idolatry and sexual immorality; shedding blood; and committing other abominations in the land. They did not deserve to remain in the land of Israel; in fact, YHVH intended to have them die by the sword; by being devoured by wild animals; or by pestilence. Because of their disobedience, they suffered the curses of the law Moses warned them about. Note that three of these behaviors that caused cursing are the same things that the Jerusalem council told the new Gentile believers to avoid in Acts 15:19-21. These gave the Gentile believers a place to start until they learned to obey the rest of the Torah they heard each Sabbath in the synagogues.

Ezekiel was not the only watchman for Israel; there were many others and there are even watchmen today who share the same responsibility Ezekiel did. Unfortunately, people respond to them the same way people responded to Ezekiel; they thought Ezekiel’s words sounded wonderful but they did not do what he told them. Please don’t make the same mistake.

Now I want to further explore the meaning of the message of the watchman; normally, this is referred to as a call for repentance. All of the prophets preached repentance including John the Baptist, Yeshua, His disciples, and Paul so we need to know exactly what that is.

Shuv is the Hebrew word for repentance. Two Greek equivalents are seen in the Apostolic Polyglot.

  • epistrepho – to turn back, to return, revert, be converted, be restored.
  • apostrepho – to turn away (from) or turn back.

These Greek words are present in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament) but are not translated as “repent.” Usually, they are translated as “turn,” or “be converted.”

When we see the word “repent” in the Brit Chadasha, it is usually translated from the Greek word “metanoeo” which means to think differently or reconsider. It is similar, but does not carry the exact meaning that the translation “repent” has in the Tanach (Old Testament). That’s why we see passages with “turn” or “be converted” which relate to what repentance is in the Tanach.

Here are several examples of verses with these words. Let’s begin with verses from the Tanach:

  • Isaiah 6:10 (quoted in Acts 28:27): “Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return (H: shuv; G: epistrepho) and be healed.”
  • Jeremiah 25:5: “They said,`Repent (H: shuv; G: apostrepho) now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings, and dwell in the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers forever and ever.”
  • Ezekiel 18:30-32: “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways,” says the Lord GOD. “Repent (H: shuv; G:epistrepho), and turn (H: shuv; G: apostrepho) from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. 31 “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn (H: shuv; G: epistrepho) and live!”

The theme is turning away from evil and returning to lawfulness; there was no other standard for repentance in the Tanach (Old Testament). This is the same theme Yeshua fully preached (plero-o) from the Law and the Prophets!

Now let’s look at verses from the Brit Chadasha. As you read them, apply the correct definitions.

  • Matthew 3:1-2: “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 and saying, “Repent (metanoeo), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” They knew they didn’t just need a change of heart because they repeatedly asked John, “what shall we do?” in order to turn. John’s responses were based on Torah.  They understood that faith in God without works of righteousness is dead; they needed to prove their metanoeo and faith by doing what’s right.
  •  Luke 13:3: “I (Yeshua) tell you, no; but unless you repent (metanoeo) you will all likewise perish.” Yeshua was trying to get the people to understand that matanoeo was the beginning of what it takes to avoid perishing.
  • Luke 22:32: “But I have prayed for you (Peter), that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned (G: epistrepho) to Me, strengthen your brethren.” Yeshua knew that Peter would deny Him in a time of weakness and fear, but He also knew Peter would return to Him.
  • In Acts 3:19, Peter spoke to the crowd at Solomon’s Porch saying: Repent (metanoeo) therefore and be converted (epistrepho), that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
  • Acts 3:26: “To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away (apostrepho) every one of you from your iniquities.”
  • Acts 11:21: “And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned (epistrepho) to the Lord.”
  • Act 26:17-20: “I (Yeshua) will deliver you (Saul) from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn (epistrepho) them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent (metanoeo), turn (epistrepho) to God, and do works befitting repentance (do righteousness; obey commands, statutes, and judgments of YHVH).” Note that lawlessness is equated with darkness and the power of Satan while righteousness is equated with light and God.

Some describe repentance as making a U-turn; they say it means to stop sinning and start doing right. From a Greek New Testament perspective, repentance (metanoeo) is to have a change of heart; however, that needs to be combined with apostrepho and epistrepho to capture the full meaning of the Hebrew for repentance. In other words, not only do people need to change their hearts, they need to turn away from Torah-lessness (lawlessness) and turn to Torah-fulness (lawfulness); that’s true conversion or repentance. If they don’t, they are just turning away from obvious wickedness and turning to self-righteousness; this would be turning to the traditions of men; doing what’s right in the own eyes; or an unholy mixture (syncretism) of paganism and Torah. The correct meaning of repentance must be maintained throughout the Scriptures or cursing and death will result as people attempt to put that meaning into practice.

I still see Christians have a huge problem putting that full definition into the correct perspective. A few problems exist:

  • Most Christians refuse to accept the Scriptural definition of sin. As mentioned previously, based on 1 John 3:4, sin is lawlessness (Torah-lessness). Righteousness is lawfulness; it’s obeying YHVH’s commandments, statutes, and judgments.  The definition didn’t magically change from the Old to the New Testament.
  • They misunderstand Colossians 2:14; the law itself was not nailed to the cross. Our trespasses (the “bill of charges” or “handwriting of requirements” that were against us) were wiped away or removed from us, and nailed to the cross!
  • They reject Romans 7:12: “the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good.” We need to see it that way!
  • They ignore Romans 3:31; this teaches the law has not been abolished because of faith.
  • They overlook James 1:25 and James 2:12 and don’t realize that according to Psalm 119:45, liberty is a result of seeking (and obviously obeying) YHVH’s precepts. James 1:25 says, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.” James 2:12 says, “So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty.”
  • They’ve been brainwashed with an improper interpretation of Romans and Galatians which results from a lack of the proper foundation of Torah; the lack of the correct cultural and historical background of that time; and generations of repetitive errant teaching. Before this can be addressed, they need to accept the positive things Paul said about the law, and repent of rejecting the law, so their hearts will be open to discover what he really meant.

There’s no question what will happen to the wicked at the judgment, but what will happen to Christians if they don’t figure this out? Consider these verses:

  • Revelation 2:5: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works [what’s lawful], or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place– unless you repent.”
  • Revelation 3:1-3: “These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.”  If they were told to repent, their imperfect works equate to Torah-lessness.
  • Revelation 16:9,11 “And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory… 11 They blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and did not repent of their deeds.
  • Matthew 13:41-42: “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 “and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
  • Matthew 7:19-23: “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me,`Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 “Many will say to Me in that day,`Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them,`I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”  Good fruit and the will of Yeshua’s Father is righteousness, not lawlessness.

From the beginning of the Scriptures to the end, it is clear that lawfulness (righteousness) as defined by Torah brings life. Yeshua confirmed that when a rich man asked Him what he had to do to in order to have eternal life. The first thing Yeshua told him in Matthew 19:17 was to keep the commandments; if something else had been more important, that would have been his first reply. Yeshua told him being perfect required more.

Don’t think in terms of which commands to follow. Take time to study all of them; keep them all before you in their proper context; and learn the principles behind them so you can make proper application. They are not too hard for you; they are your life.  It’s the traditions of men that were “too hard” to bear.  Yeshua’s yoke is Torah; His yoke is easy and His burden is light.

Shed the old wine skin or mind-set that rejects Torah; create a new one to put the correct interpretation of Scripture (that embraces Torah) in. Seek truth; walk in the Spirit; and don’t give in to the desires of the flesh.

Remember what Yeshua said in Matthew 7:13-14: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

The narrow gate is repentance; the way which leads to life is righteousness.

Listen to the sound of the shofar!

Go; as you obey, walk out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Righteousness Instead of Wickedness

Today, we will look at Isaiah 59.  The Companion Bible shows us that Isaiah 59 corresponds to Isaiah 50:1-11 which is a part of a larger concentric structure in Scripture.  Ultimately, iniquity (avon; H5771) is the cause of separation between God and His people.  The Complete Word Study Dictionary indicates that avon means iniquity, evil, guilt, and punishment.  It conveys the idea of deliberate perversion.

Despite the condition of His people, YHVH is capable of saving them.  YHVH is omnipresent but His face is hidden from His people because of their sin.

What else does Scripture say about YHVH’s people?

  • Their hands are stained with blood and their fingers with crime ;
  • They speak lies and wicked things;
  • They sue without just cause and aren’t honest in court;
  • They trust in empty words;
  • They say worthless things;
  • They conceive trouble;
  • They give birth to evil;
  • They hatch viper eggs and those whoever eats these eggs dies;
  • They spin spider-webs which are useless as clothing;
  • Their deeds are wicked (H 205; aven) and useless for wearing;
  • Their hands produce violence;
  • Their feet run to evil and murder;
  • They think only of wickedness (H 205; aven).

What is the problem here?  YHVH’s people are living lawless lives; they don’t obey YHVH’s laws which results in shalom (peace).  In fact, they will never know shalom if they don’t repent.

??????Think of what is happening in the world today.  We know the vast majority of people in the world today are wicked.  There’s no work ethic; people want something for nothing.  Rape, murder, adultery, drug abuse, and theft abound.  Violence is so bad that gangs of young people roam the streets or lie in wait (like spiders in webs) for their victims so they can beat and/or kill them just for fun.  Evil seems to have existed from the beginning but seems worse now more than ever before.

Is the condition of YHVH’s people any better today?  Look at the list above.  Ask yourself if anything here describes you.

Is justice far from us?  Where is righteousness?  Do YHVH’s people simply not know what the definition of righteousness is?  Righteousness is fulfilling the law of YHVH—walking it out in our daily lives.  We’ve got to stop walking in darkness so we’re not stumbling about like those who are blind.  We need to throw off the useless clothing of wicked deeds and clothe ourselves in righteousness.

Stop rebelling and denying YHVH; repent.  Be honest even if it makes you a target for the wicked.  Intercede for those who need justice; pray for their salvation and for righteousness to sustain them.

The Day of the Lord will come soon; it is not far off.  When that time comes, the wicked will be taken by surprise but YHVH’s people will be earnestly looking for it and will not be surprised when it comes.

Isaiah 59:17-18 says, “For He put on righteousness as a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on His head; He put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, And was clad with zeal as a cloak. 18 According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, Fury to His adversaries, Recompense to His enemies; The coastlands He will fully repay.”

I think is descriptive of Yeshua, Faithful and True, returning on a white horse in Revelation 19:11-16.  He will come to rescue His people in Jacob who have turned from their transgressions and to strike down the nations.   At that time, the enemy will come in like a flood but the Spirit of YHVH will lift up a standard against him.  This means it will be time for war!

Isaiah 59:21 says, “As for Me,” says the Lord, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the Lord, “from this time and forevermore.”

YHVH’s covenant is forever.  While we wait for Faithful and True to come, we must be faithful to this covenant and trust in Yeshua.  As we wait, be zealous on behalf of YHVH and His covenant.

Keep Justice And Do Righteousness

Isaiah 56 begins by saying, “Thus says the Lord: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, For My salvation is about to come, And My righteousness to be revealed.”

gavelWhat does this mean?  First let’s look at “justice.”  The Hebrew word for justice is mishpat. According to the Complete Word Study Dictionary, this is a legal decision given by God to be followed by the people.[i] Righteousness is tsedeqah.  This is to do what is right according to the law.  Essentially, YHVH expected His people to obey the law and to see that no one was denied justice.  The people were to be judged fairly no matter what their economic standing was.  The reason for this was because His salvation was about to come and His righteousness was to be revealed.

How can we understand the significance of this?  Maybe a story would help.  Many years ago, when I was a teenager, I went on a retreat with some other youth.  We had a wonderful time studying the Scriptures and forming close bonds with one another.  Our guest speaker was from out of town.  We had never met him before and never expected to see him again.  Several months later, our youth group was called together for an unscheduled meeting.  While we were waiting to find out what the purpose of the meeting was, that same guest speaker walked into the room.  Suddenly, there was a silence that fell on the room.  During the time between the retreat and the day we saw the guest speaker again, our youth group had slacked off and to some degree we had drifted apart.  We had slipped back into some of our former habits and mindsets; life had gone back to usual.  The euphoria of the spiritual high we experienced a few months ago was gone.  When we saw the guest speaker, we were reminded of how far we had strayed from what we had learned, from YHVH, and from each other since that weekend we shared together.  We weren’t prepared for the arrival of this man.  We never expected to see this man ever again.  In a similar way, if we are not careful, we won’t be ready for Yeshua’s arrival.  Needless to say, this was a valuable lesson for us.

First Thessalonians 5:2 tells us that the Day of the Lord will come in a similar fashion; Yeshua, who fully embodies YHVH’s righteousness will come like a thief in the night.  People will believe all is safe, peaceful, and secure but destruction will suddenly come upon them and they won’t escape it.  Disciples of Yeshua should not be taken by surprise.  First Thessalonians 5:8 suggests we need to wear a breastplate of love and trust and a helmet of the hope of being delivered in addition to being sober.  This reference should remind us of the breastplate of righteousness and the helmet of salvation in Ephesians 6:14 and 17.  This breastplate should also remind us of the breastplate that was worn by the High Priest.  According to Exodus 28:15, this breastplate was made for judging (misphat).  The High Priest’s holy turban had an ornament on which was written, “Set apart for YHVH.”  Set apart (qodesh) can also be translated “dedicated, holiness, or consecrated” which is what we should be.  We are to be set apart not just to YHVH Himself but to righteousness (tsedeqah).  We need to trust in Yeshua; show love to YHVH and man; and hope for our deliverance because YHVH has not intended that we experience His fury.  This is what it means to be ready for Yeshua’s return.

Since we don’t see the signs of Yeshua’s return taking place around us, we often think that Yeshua is not going to return any time soon.  This causes us to live as if we can afford to live as we please.  If Yeshua were to return at an unexpected time, how would you react in His presence?  Would you rejoice because you had been observing His law?  Would you feel shame because you had not?

Isaiah 56:2 continues by saying, “Blessed is the man who does this [keeping justice and doing righteousness], And the son of man who lays hold on it; Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”  We tend to think this is a message just for the Jews but it is not.

Isaiah 56:3 gives us news that brings joy to the foreigner:  “Do not let the son of the foreigner Who has joined himself to the Lord Speak, saying, “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”; Nor let the eunuch say, “Here I am, a dry tree.”

Do you ever feel this way?  Do you ever feel like you’re the only one that is trying to observe Torah or live righteously?  Do people condemn you, a Gentile for living a Torah observant lifestyle?  It can be very painful at times especially if your spouse and friends do not walk that path with you.  You aren’t totally accepted by the Jews who are still YHVH’s people and it can be very hard to find a Torah observant community that you can fit into.  Even when you find such a place, life’s circumstances can still zap your strength and make you feel like a dry tree.  I am intimately acquainted with these scenarios.  My heart truly goes out to you if this is your situation.  May the Holy Spirit be the oil of gladness that can soothe your grief and pain.

This is why Isaiah 56:4-8 is absolutely precious to me.  It says, “For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, 5 Even to them I will give in My house And within My walls a place and a name Better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name That shall not be cut off. 6 “Also the sons of the foreigner Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants — Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, And holds fast My covenant —  7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” 8 The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him Others besides those who are gathered to him.”

These verses still bring tears of joy to my eyes and warm my heart because I love YHVH and I want to serve Him with my whole heart the best I can.  It is so precious to read that like the eunuchs that cling to YHVH’s covenant, YHVH will:

  • bring me to His holy mountain;
  • give me a place (John 14:2);
  • take away my grief and give me joy (Rev. 21:4);
  • give me  a name better than that of sons and daughters (Rev. 22:4).

We will not be cut off from His presence.  So much for common names like Johnson, Miller, Jones, Doe, or Brown!   YHVH’s name will be on our foreheads because we are His sons and daughters.  Despite what others may say about the offerings being obsolete, I intend to bring offerings that will be accepted on His altar.  I hope this is your desire as well.

In addition to the offerings of animals, prayers will be offered.  When I used to live in eastern Europe, the churches there were often called houses of prayer.  Although visitors often came from surrounding countries, those houses of prayer were primarily for the nationals and not for all of the nations.  One day, YHVH’s house will be called a house of prayer for all of the nations.  Righteous people will come from all over the world.  They will not be coming as tourists; they will be coming to worship!  I believe YHVH always intended for this to take place so that people from all of the nations could be blessed. In the meantime, let us judge justly and live a life of Torah observance.


[i] Complete Word Study Dictionary, AMG Publishers.

Woe to Ariel

Isaiah 29 begins with a woe against Ariel.  Ezra mentions an Israelite by the name of Ariel once but this chapter in Isaiah is the only place in the whole Bible where Jerusalem is referred to as Ariel.

Ariel means lion of God.  Here, it refers to the city of Jerusalem where David dwelled but it is also where the Lion, from the tribe of Judah—Yeshua HaMashiyach (Jesus, the Messiah) will dwell in the future.

Years will go by and the feasts will be celebrated in their cyclical fashion but the Lord promised to eventually encamp against Ariel.  This is in contrast to how the tribes of Israel once camped around the Tabernacle in the wilderness; this was a time when the Lord dwelled among His people.  The Lord warned them He would make war against them.  The result would be their deaths.  At that point, the only way they could speak to Him would be from the ground.  Based on the following verses, it seems that multitudes will come against Ariel but the multitudes will suddenly turn to dust as well. 

Isaiah 29 continues by warning the people of Ariel that the Lord of hosts (armies) will punish them with storm, thunder, earthquake, and fire while Revelation 19:11-16 describes Him coming with His armies to strike down the nations.  The multitude of all the nations that come against Ariel will be as a hungry man’s night vision.  In other words, their desires will not be satisfied.

Even now, there is a strong desire among Israel’s enemies to wipe the Jews off the earth and seize the land for themselves.  Surely, Isaiah 29 concerns the future around the time when the seven trumpets (shofars) will sound (Revelation 8 & 11).

Israel’s prophets and seers couldn’t really discern or understand anything because the Lord has stunned them with a spirit of lethargy.  To them, the vision described in Isaiah was and is a sealed book.  It is much like the vision Daniel sealed and the visions John saw in Revelation.  Even now the vision is taking shape but there isn’t complete agreement on the meaning of the visions.

What is the problem?  The problem is the same as it’s been for many generations.  The New American Standard Updated Version translates it well. Isaiah 29:13-14 says, “Then the Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote, 14 Therefore behold, I will once again deal marvelously with this people, wondrously marvelous; And the wisdom of their wise men will perish, And the discernment of their discerning men will be concealed.” According to these verses, the problem was:

  • Insincerity or lip service,
  • Heart defect,
  • Tradition.

The Lord wants sincerity, hearts of love and devotion, and obedience to His written Word!  This is what Jesus stood for.  He was irritated by the fact the leaders voided the written law of God by their traditions (Matthew 15:3).  When Jesus taught His disciples, He used parables so the disciples could know the secrets of the kingdom of God but also so that those around them could look and hear but would not be able to see, hear, and understand (Luke 8:9-10).

Even the apostle Paul warned the readers of Colossians 2:8-9, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”   We are to heed Paul’s warning and not to become blinded by such things.  Philosophy and traditions can eventually cause us to give lip service to the Lord and affect our heart condition.  Our wisdom will disintegrate and we’ll lose the ability to properly discern anything.  We must pray for wisdom, discernment, and understanding while actively pursuing righteousness which is obedience to God’s commandments.  We must separate ourselves from paganized Christianity (spiritual Babylon the Great) and honor the terms of our marriage covenant with the Lord.

We must also pray that the Lord will open the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.  Especially, pray that Israel will be able to see, know, and understand beyond a shadow of a doubt that Yeshua is HaMashiyach (Jesus is the Messiah) before the Beast, Scoffer, or Tyrant rises to power.  If not soon, then after all that has been said has been done.  Pray for the protection of Israel; for justice and mercy to prevail; and for the wicked to be cut off quickly if their hearts are so hard they will never repent.  Pray for Israel to stand in awe of the Holy One of Israel. 

May He be consecrated, praised, and magnified forever!

70 Weeks of Daniel

Daniel 9:24-27:

“Seventy weeks are determined For your people and for your holy city, To finish the transgression, To make an end of sins, To make reconciliation for iniquity, To bring in everlasting righteousness, To seal up vision and prophecy, And to anoint the Most Holy.

25 “Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.

26 “And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; And the people of the prince who is to come Shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, And till the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, Even until the consummation, which is determined, Is poured out on the desolate.” (NKJV)

A total of seventy weeks have been decreed for God’s people.   The Hebrew word for weeks is shavuiym (plural) or shavuah (singular).  This is not some kind of prophetic or Biblical time.  A shabuah is specifically a period of seven years.  Not all of the 70 weeks have been fulfilled yet.  Those who study prophecy all try to figure out the details of 70th week of Daniel.  Everyone agrees it is the last 7 years prior to Christ’s return and it is known as the tribulation.

According to Daniel 9:25, the time from the edict given to Nehemiah by Artaxerxes in 445 B.C.E. to restore and build Jerusalem until Jesus the Messiah made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem was 7 and 62 seven year periods, 49 + 434 years, or 483 years.  Jesus was crucified or cut off according to God’s plan for those who would trust in Him as Lord and Savior.

It seems as if time has been suspended until some point in the future when the last shavuah will begin. A prince yet to come will make a covenant with many for a 7 year period but he will do evil and reveal his true nature until the very end.  This prince will be much like Antiochus Epiphanes IV and Adolf Hitler.  No one could have been prepared for what these men did to the Jews.

Do you think we’ll be any better prepared?  With technology the way it is today, how can we really defend ourselves?  I think all we can do is place ourselves in the hands of the Lord.

Daniel 9:25 commanded Daniel to “know and understand” while Daniel 12:9-10 says, “And he said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.”

It seems the wise will eventually understand.  As current events transpire around us, our knowledge increases so we can understand the timing of Daniel’s visions better each day.  I am not too bothered when those who study prophecy understand incorrectly because I know eventually the puzzle pieces with fall together perfectly.  Many people can contribute a correct piece of the puzzle.  Our job is to examine the pieces and discern which pieces are correct and which are incorrect.  Understanding the Hebrew calendar (Metonic Cycle), the Feasts of the Lord, and Biblical accounts with similar themes are major keys to accomplishing this goal.  As we study, let’s pray for wisdom, discernment, and understanding.  (Be sure to see my post on the Metonic Cycle for more details concerning the 70th week.)

When the 70 weeks are complete, all of the following will be accomplished:

  • The transgression will be finished.
  • There will be an end of sins.
  • Reconciliation will be made for iniquity.
  • Everlasting righteousness will be brought in.
  • Vision and prophecy will be sealed up.
  • The Most Holy will be anointed.