Noahide Laws, Written Mosaic Law, or Whole Law?

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Do you just follow the Noahide laws; the written Mosaic Laws; or the Whole Law (written and oral laws) of Judaism?  If you don’t fall into one of these groups, you are probably somewhere among those who reject God.  Seriously, which one of these 3 groups should you belong to?

In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam only one commandment that is written in the Masoretic Text. Genesis 2:16-17 says, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”  No other commandments were recorded concerning man’s behavior at that time of creation.  That’s not to say that no other commandments were given to Adam and Eve later; we just don’t know exactly what they were based on this text.

Genesis 1:14 says, 14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years…”  The Hebrew word for seasons is moedim.  This is the same word used for YHVH’s appointed times in Leviticus 23.  The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan in English by Etheridge for Genesis 1:14 translates moedim as “festival times.”  Although these aren’t elaborated upon, it would seem that based on this verse, YHVH’s festivals originated during the time of creation.

The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan in English by Etheridge for Genesis 1:21 says that God created the clean and unclean:  “ And the Lord created the great tanins, the lev-ya-than and his yoke-fellow which are prepared for the day of consolation, and every living animal which creepeth, and which the clear waters had swarmed forth after their kind; the kinds which are clean, and the kinds which are not clean; and every fowl which flieth with wings after their kinds, the clean and the unclean. And the Lord beheld that it was good.”

If God created creatures that were clean and unclean, He must have taught Adam and Eve which were which.  Somebody knew because Noah eventually knew which animals were clean and which weren’t when it came time to load the ark. There must have been some unwritten laws regarding the clean and unclean.  In addition, if diet weren’t important, the first written commandment would not have been about what they could and couldn’t eat.

The Noahide laws are laws that the Jews believe should supposedly apply to all humanity.  The traditional list of the six laws that were said to be given to Adam in the Garden of Eden and the seventh found after the flood narrative (Genesis 9) are:

  1. Do not deny God (idolatry).
  2. Do not murder (also in Genesis 9:5-6).
  3. Do not steal.
  4. Do not engage in sexual immorality.
  5. Do not blaspheme.
  6. Do not eat of a live animal (do not eat animals with its blood still in it; Genesis 9:4).
  7. Establish courts and legal systems to ensure obedience of the law.[1]

The Book of Jubilees 7:20-28 (~2nd century BCE) mentions certain ordinances, commandments, and judgments that Noah taught his sons:

  1. Observe righteousness
  2. Cover the shame of your flesh
  3. Bless your Creator
  4. Honor your father and mother
  5. Love your neighbor
  6. Guard yourselves from fornication and uncleanness and all iniquity (these 3 were the cause of the flood)[2]

Even here, these commandments are pretty vague; not much is defined or elaborated upon.  The Genesis account and the Book of Jubilees indicate people were offering sacrifices, and at this point, there were no detailed procedures given.  Cain offered a minchah and Abel offered a firstborn animal.  They could have been sacrificing to YHVH in the same way pagans offered sacrifices to their gods but I don’t think so.

Let me point out that there is no mention of Sabbath observance in these two lists. YHVH rested on the first Sabbath which was the 7th day of the week (Genesis 2:2-3; Exodus 20:11).  The Hebrew words for Sabbath (shabbat), seventh (sheviyiy), and rest (shavat) are related because they all share the same root: shin-bet-tav.  Therefore, the Sabbath cannot be on any other day; it must be on the 7th day of the week as God originally commanded. Since the first Shabbat was at the end of the week of creation, this is when it was “created.”  Since that’s the case, it should be part of the Noahide laws…but for some reason it’s not.  I can only guess why.

The Sabbath is a sign between the children of Israel and YHVH, that they may know that YHVH is the one who sanctifies them (Exodus 31:13).  YHVH would not have changed the Sabbath to a different day; man changed it without God’s consent.  The 7th day Sabbath was not just for the past; it’s also for the future.  Ezekiel has prophesied that all the people of the land will worship YHVH on the Sabbaths and New Moons at some point in the future (Ezekiel 46:3).

Since all of this is the case, it seems all descendants of Noah, both Jew and Gentile alike should be observing the 7th day Sabbath too.  Should they be forbidden to do so?  I don’t think so.  Unfortunately, the Jews have been forbidding Gentiles from observing the Sabbath for centuries.  They expect Gentiles to observe the Noahide laws instead; in addition, they’d prefer that Gentiles don’t convert to Judaism either.

Denying Sabbath observance is odd because Exodus 20:9 says, “but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger (ger) who is within your gates.”

A ger is translated as a sojourner, foreigner; someone who has left home due to certain circumstances and is temporarily dwelling in the land.  The Greek text for this verse mentions both proselytes and strangers.  If God expected even animals to observe the Sabbath, He certainly expected Gentiles who dwelled with His people to do so as well.  Not only that, the Mosaic laws were given to a mixed multitude of people who went with the children of Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 12:37-38).  Everyone was expected to observe the Sabbath.

Another Hebrew word for foreigner is nekhar; this person is what we’d normally think of as being an alien.  It refers to someone from another nation, family, or tribe.

The phrase “one law” is used a few times in Scripture to refer to the observance of the Mosiac law by both the children of Israel and the ger or nekhar.  Some people think these verses only apply to certain situations and not to the whole Mosaic law. Situations include:

  1. The descendant of a nekhar, or a ger who wants to participate in pesach (Passover). (The Passover law is a testimony (edut = testimony or sign of what God has done.).
    1. To participate, he and his males must be circumcised just like the children of Israel (Exodus 12:43, 49; Numbers 9:14).
    2. It would seem that if a ger wants to participate in any other festival or holy day, he must do so according to the requirements set forth in Scripture, that is, according to the written law.
  1. A ger who wants to offer sin and trespass offerings to YHVH.
    1. The ger and native born can both bring offerings and they both must do it in the prescribed manner.
    2. The laws that define sin and trespasses are contained in the Mosaic law, not just the Noahide laws.
    3. The definitions for sins and trespasses apply to both the ger and the children of Israel. How else would a Noahide know they have sinned or trespassed since more offenses are listed in the Mosaic covenant that in the Noahide list?
    4. For a ger to bring offerings to YHVH requires he be ritually clean; therefore, commandments related to ritual purity must apply to him as well. Otherwise, the Temple would become defiled.

The written Mosiac law must apply to both the ger and native-born. One law (torah = teaching or instruction), ordinance (chuqqah = laws not easily understood), and custom (mishpat = laws easily understood) applies to both ger and the children of Israel (Leviticus 8:7; Numbers 15:14-16, 29).

Let’s face it, when people from different cultures live in the same territory, it is difficult to have multiple sets of laws.  Doing so causes disorder and can result in injustice.  There can only be one set of laws for native-born and foreigners/sojourners.

YHVH promised Abraham that He would become the father of many nations and that his wife Sarah would be the mother of nations (goyim = peoples; nations; Gentiles; heathen).  YHVH promised to establish His covenant with Abraham as well as his descendants, and to give him and his descendants all of the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession, and to be their God. (Genesis 17:4-8, 16).  In Abraham’s seed would all the nations be blessed (Genesis 22:18).  Since blessing comes from obedience to the Mosaic covenant, people must enter and observe that covenant, not just observe the Noahide laws.  The alternative is cursing and death.

YHVH’s covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are linked because of the land.  Uncircumcised males descended from Abraham were considered to have broken YHVH’s covenant; they were to be cut off from their people (Genesis 17:14).  Being uncircumcised in the flesh and in the heart are connected to iniquity and unfaithfulness.

YHVH told His people that in the future if they broke His covenant and were to admit their guilt and that of their ancestors, He would remember the covenant with their ancestors and the land (Leviticus 26:40-45), and heal them and forgive them.  According to Ezekiel 44:9, foreigners (descendants of a nekhar), including those of the children of Israel must be circumcised in the flesh and in the heart in order to enter YHVH’s sanctuary during the Messiah’s millennial reign.  This demonstrates that the same laws from the past will apply in the future.

Acts 15 discusses how the Gentiles could be converted, or enter the covenant of Israel.  This passage does not advocate they should become merely Noahide observers.  The party of the circumcision from Judea (a sect of the Pharisees) were teaching the Gentiles (goyim) that they could not be converted (be saved, repent) unless they were circumcised according to the custom of Moses (Acts 15:3-5). Paul and Barnabas disagreed and believed the Gentiles were being converted without “becoming Jewish” via circumcision first.  Circumcision is something that can come a little later in obedience to God’s commandments; it’s not the means of entering the covenant.

This dispute of how to enter the covenant was brought to the Jerusalem council who decided the Gentiles are saved in the same manner as the Jews.  It was decided that the Gentiles who were turning to God should abstain from things polluted by idols, sexual immorality, things strangled, and blood; for Moses has been preached in every city and read in the synagogues every Sabbath (Acts 15:19-21).  This last phrase/sentence indicates that these things were a starting point for entering the covenant; the rest or process of sanctification could be learned in the synagogue every Sabbath.

The list of things that Gentiles needed to do immediately were all connected to idolatry in one way or another.  Idolatry must cease before worship of YHVH can begin.  This is not debatable.  These four things are not a complete list of the seven Noahide laws; to say that they are, or to use this as a reason for Gentiles to not embrace the written Torah is misleading.

In the Talmud, in Sanhedrin 105a, it says, “Righteous people of all nations have a share in the world to come.”  The Jews regard Gentiles who only follow the Noahide laws as the righteous among the Gentiles.  The question is, does YHVH consider them righteous and worthy of the olam haba (world to come)?  How can they if they ignore many things including the sign of the covenant?

Oral law contains laws, statutes, and legal interpretations that are not found in the written Torah.  The Jews say these were passed down orally from Mount Sinai until they were written down a few centuries after the destruction of the Temple which occurred in 70 CE. These oral laws are found in the Talmud which is composed of the Mishnah and Gemara.

As we’ve seen, prior to the Mosaic law, there appears to have been some kind of oral law; it seems these laws may have been the same and not different from the Mosiac law.  YHVH gave Moses written laws at Mount Sinai.   Deuteronomy 12:32 says, “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.”  Saying that there was an additional oral law that existed since Mount Sinai is adding to the written Torah.  Since the written law was eventually lost for a period of time (2Kings 22,8; 2Chronicles 34,15), how can we believe that an existing oral tradition was never lost or passed down?

The fact that the giving of the oral law is not even mentioned in the written law is my first consideration for not incorporating it into my life.  Not all sects of Judaism recognize the divine origin of the oral law either; so I think it’s wise to view the oral law with caution.  If you’ve ever tried to read the Talmud, you may have found it very frustrating.  The rabbis who are quoted often do not agree with each other on many matters that are supposedly laws.  This makes the idea of an oral law ridiculous and unbelievable, and/or difficult to accept.

Even though I feel this way about the oral law, I believe there is still value in the Talmud because we can learn what the Jews believe and practice today and to some extent, we can learn about various things including the debates of sages Hillel and Shamai, and other rabbis who lived during the last century BCE and the first several centuries CE.

I feel that we have two extremes here.  The Noahide laws appear to be lacking the significant sign of the covenant (the 7th day Sabbath) among other things.  The oral law appears to be excessive; often times conflicting with itself; and a burden that is impossible to keep.

I feel comfortable with the written Mosaic law; yet, I know that some of it applies to everyone, and other parts apply to only certain groups of people.  Some of it can’t be observed because the temple no longer stands.  Yeshua said this law would not pass away until heaven and earth passes away.  In other words, it’s still valid.  Those who teach people to observe this law will be considered great in the kingdom of God; those who teach otherwise will be least in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:17-19).  Paul told us that this law was not abolished because of faith; he upheld the law (Romans 3:31).  James told us to speak and do as those who will be judged by this law of liberty (James 2:12).  If we love YHVH, we will obey His commandments (1 John 5:3).

We must understand that YHVH gave His people one set of laws for both Jew and Gentile.  Obedience to God’s commandments brings life and blessing; disobedience leads to cursing and death.  The saints are those who keep the commandments of God (those given at Mount Sinai and not just the Noahide laws) and the faith of Yeshua (Revelation 14:12).

 

[1] http://judaism.about.com/od/conversiontojudaism/fl/What-Are-the-Noahide-Laws.htm

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_Laws_of_Noah

 

 

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Lift Your Voice Like A Trumpet

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIsaiah 58 begins:  “Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins.”

Many years ago, YHVH told the prophets to cry out and tell the people their sins.  This message was not to the world, it was to YHVH’s people. Today, that same message is to be proclaimed to the churches by His prophets.

Isaiah 58:2 continues:  “Yet they seek Me daily, And delight to know My ways, As a nation that did righteousness, And did not forsake the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me the ordinances of justice; They take delight in approaching God. 3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and You have not seen? Why have we afflicted our souls, and You take no notice?’

Something was obviously wrong.  The people in Isaiah’s time thought they were doing right but YHVH found fault with them.  Today, God’s people read His word because they want to seek Him and know His ways.  They try to do what Yeshua taught but they still live like the world.  Some fast to afflict their souls when they choose and others don’t.  I’m convinced that God is not pleased with all of those who claim to be Yeshua’s disciples.  This is because they are not only tolerant of lawlessness, they practice it.  They are like swine which are counterfeits of what is truly clean.

What was the problem with those who were fasting in Isaiah’s day?

Isaiah 58:3b-5 explains:  “In fact, in the day of your fast you find pleasure, And exploit all your laborers. 4 Indeed you fast for strife and debate, And to strike with the fist of wickedness. You will not fast as you do this day, To make your voice heard on high.”

Even though they were fasting, they practiced lawlessness and fasted for all the wrong things.  They fasted for things that were in opposition to what YHVH desires.  We need to examine ourselves to see if we are doing the same kind of things.

Isaiah 58:5 continues:  “Is it a fast that I have chosen, A day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it to bow down his head like a bulrush, And to spread out sackcloth and ashes? Would you call this a fast, And an acceptable day to the Lord?”

YHVH did choose a day for man to afflict his soul. Leviticus 23:26-29 says:  “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 27 “Also the tenth day of this seventh month shall be the Day of Atonement. It shall be a holy convocation for you; you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the Lord. 28 And you shall do no work on that same day, for it is the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the Lord your God. 29 For any person who is not afflicted in soul on that same day shall be cut off from his people.”

This is a day of fasting for YHVH’s people yet many are ignorant of this day and live it like any other.  We must not ignore this day.  To do so is to risk being cut off from YHVH’s people.  Surely to fast and repent is acceptable to YHVH as long as it is accompanied by behavior that demonstrates genuine fasting and repentance.

Isaiah 58:6-7 demonstrates this idea:  “Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To loose the bonds of wickedness, To undo the heavy burdens, To let the oppressed go free, And that you break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; ––––When you see the naked, that you cover him, And not hide yourself from your own flesh?

What happen when we live lawfully and afflict our souls?  Isaiah 58:8-12 says, “Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. 9 Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; You shall cry, and He will say, ‘Here I am.’  “If you take away the yoke from your midst, The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, 10 If you extend your soul to the hungry And satisfy the afflicted soul, Then your light shall dawn in the darkness, And your darkness shall be as the noonday. 11 The Lord will guide you continually, And satisfy your soul in drought, And strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. 12 Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.

Are you sick?  Do you need healing?  Do you accuse others or speak wickedness?  Do you feed the poor?  Repent and live righteously!

Leviticus 23:30-32 continues the commandment for the Day of Atonement:  And any person who does any work on that same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict your souls; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening, you shall celebrate your sabbath.”

You see, this day of fasting or afflicting your soul is a Sabbath. Isaiah 58:13 gives us more information we should be aware of:  “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, From doing your pleasure on My holy day, And call the Sabbath a delight, The holy day of the Lord honorable, And shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, Nor finding your own pleasure, Nor speaking your own words, 14 Then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; And I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, And feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Just like YHVH spoke to His people long ago, He is speaking to us today.  The fall appointed times (moedim) are upon us.  Yom Teruah (day of blowing, Day of Trumpets) is this coming Thursday on Tishrei 1 (September 6, 2013).  Yom HaKippurim (Day of the Atonements) will be Tishrei 10 (September 14, 2013).  The feast (chag) of Sukkot (Tabernacles) plus the Shemeni Atzeret (the 8th day) will be Tishrei 15-22 (September 19-26).  These moedim begin sundown the previous day.  Each year their dates on the Gregorian calendar are different.  This requires us to pay attention to when the proper time to celebrate the times of the moedim are.

Will you observe the moedim of YHVH?  They are not just the appointed times of the Jews; these times are for all of YHVH’s children.  They reveal the redemptive plan of YHVH for mankind.  They are rehearsals for the fulfillment of prophecy.

Repent — put away lawlessness!!!  Practice lawfulness and trust in Yeshua our Savior and Kinsman Redeemer!!

Early Lessons in the Wilderness

Soon after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea (Sea of Suf), they had to begin learning to trust the Lord for their daily provisions.  Their first lesson was at Marah (bitter).  This place was so named because the water there was bitter.  After the people complained about the water quality, the Lord told Moses to put a tree in the water so it could be made sweet.  At that time, the Lord gave the people a statute and an ordinance and He tested them.  He told them if they were obedient, they would not experience the diseases of the Egyptians.  He then revealed Himself as the Lord who heals them.

Exodus doesn’t tell us what these commandments were but the Targum does:

“And there did the Word of the Lord appoint to him the ordinance of the Sabbath, and the statute of honouring father and mother, the judgments concerning wounds and bruises., and the punishments wherewith offenders are punished; and there he tried (them) with the tenth trial, and said, If you will truly hearken to the Word of the Lord your God, and do that which is right before Him, and will listen to His precepts and keep all His statutes, all those evil things that I laid upon the Mizraee I will not lay upon thee: but if thou wilt transgress against the word of the law, upon thee shall they be sent. If thou convert, I will remove them from thee; for I am the Lord thy Healer.”[1]

The healing of the water at Marah was a picture of Christ.  When Jesus died on a wooden cross, it fulfilled Isaiah 53:5 which says, “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.”  NKJV 

The wooden tree Moses put into the water removed the bitterness and purified the water.  As a result of Jesus death on the cross, we can be purified and healed both physically and spiritually.  He will take away our heart of stone filled with bitterness, hatred, and evil desires and replace it with a heart of flesh so we can obey and serve the Lord with joy.

Ezekiel 36:26-27 says it this way, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.”  NKJV 

The Israelites moved on and camped by the waters of Elim where there were 12 wells of water and 70 palm trees.  Then they traveled to the Wilderness of Sin between Elim and Sinai.  By that time, the people were so hungry they began complaining against Moses and Aaron.  They seemed to have forgotten the power with which the Lord had brought them out of Egypt.   At that point, the Lord promised Moses that He would provide meat (quail) in the evening and bread from heaven (manna) in the morning. 

The Lord gave commands regarding the collection of the manna.  By the way, the word manna comes from “man hu?” which means “what is it?”   The Israelites were instructed to collect an omer (approximately 2 quarts or liters) of manna per person per day but twice as much on the 6th day of the week.  They were not to allow any to remain until morning unless it was being held for the 7th day (Sabbath).  This meant the Israelites would have to rely on the Lord to provide for their needs each day. 

These instructions were not only to teach dependence on the Lord for daily sustenance but they were also a test to see if the people would obey the Lord’s law for the Sabbath or not.  It didn’t take long for them to fail the test.  Apparently, some people went looking for manna on the 7th day even though the portion for that day had already been given on the previous day.  Moses had to emphasize that the 7th day of the week (Saturday) had been given to them as a day of rest.  Moses told them not to collect manna or leave their place on the Sabbath.  This wasn’t a punishment.  The Sabbath was a gift of rest they were expected to enjoy.  This is something they would have to learn how to do because they were so accustomed to working all the time.

Do we fail tests God gives us too?  Do we always see His commands as hindrances in our lives?  Do we know how to rest on the Sabbath which is the 7th day of the week?  Maybe we’d be more cooperative if we understood the significance of it.

First Corinthians 10:1-5 says, “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, 2 all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”  NKJV

If we are Christians, we are under the Father’s grace.  We’ve passed through a sea of clean and unclean people in order to approach the Lord and have been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We eat the bread and wine of the marriage covenant which represents the body and blood of Christ each time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

Jesus is the Living Water and the Bread of Life that came down from heaven so we can be raised up to have eternal life with Him (John 4:10, 6:32-40, 7:38; Rev. 7:17).  If we do not partake of (accept) Jesus, the Bread of Life and Living Water, we cannot experience the future Sabbath God has planned for us (John 6:5; Heb. 4:1-3).  Please understand that those who ate manna, drank from the rock, and rested on the Sabbath in the wilderness practiced God’s plan or pattern for the future without realizing it. 

When we don’t properly observe the Sabbath, we’re attempting to change God’s pattern.  This is what the Antichrist will do when he attempts to change times and law (Dan. 7:25).  When we don’t properly observe the Sabbath, we’re unknowingly following the plan of the Antichrist.

Instead of following the Antichrist, we should seek shelter from the Rock or Horn of our Salvation and remember He’s our Deliverer, our Fortress, and Our Strength (Psalm 18:2-3).  Our Rock will take care of us and make sure we enjoy our coming Sabbath rest.  Put your trust in Him!


[1] Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, Section XVI. Beshalach.   http://targum.info/pj/pjex13-17.htm

 

Creation

When I attended a secular university many years ago, I took a class on the book of Genesis.  The professor quickly pointed out that there were two very different accounts of creation.  That really shook my faith.  It would not be until twenty years later that I would learn that Genesis 1 and 2 are really part of a chiastic structure.

For those who aren’t familiar with this kind of literary structure, let me say there are tons of them throughout the Bible.  These structures are written so that themes, statements or events lead up to a central point, then they are rewritten in reverse order.  The central point is the most important part of the whole structure.  Sometimes the second portion of the chiasm is the same event written in reverse order or it is comprised of the effects or results of the original event described in the first portion.  Sometimes they are written for emphasis.  Other times they simply show cause and effect.  These structures can be very small such as only one or two verses or as large as several chapters long.  They can even be embedded within larger ones.

The first two chapters of Genesis contain a thematic chiasm that teaches us how God created the heavens and the earth.  Initially, the earth was essentially barren.  For the first three days God separated His creation.  Starting on day four, God began filling His creation with what He saw fit.  Eventually He gave man a place to live and a purpose for his life.  In addition, God gave His creation a source of sustaining life.  After that God rested on the Sabbath which was the peak of the creation account.  Many fail to see that these themes were then presented in reverse order in Genesis chapter 2.  Please understand, Genesis chapter 2 was not intended to be a parallel account of creation.

This process seen in the beginning of Genesis continues throughout our physical lives.

  • People are given the ability to procreate.
  • Initially two people (a man and a woman) are barren.
  • They are separate creations yet they can usually produce life when they come together.
  • Eventually they may begin to “fill their home with children.”
  • Each person develops their gifts and talents and finds purpose in life.
  • They survive on food and drink.
  • Once they’ve lived a good life, they rest until the appointed time of resurrection.

Amazingly, Jesus was planted in a “barren” woman named Mary.  After He was born, He quickly learned to separate Himself from unrighteousness.  When it was time, Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit.  He began to carry out the Father’s purpose for His time on earth.  He explained to those who would listen that He was the source of life.  At the appointed time, He rested (died) and was resurrected so that He could present Himself to the Father as first fruits from the dead.

There is also a spiritual side of this in our lives.  Initially all people are spiritually barren.  They seek to fill the void they sense in their hearts with food, drink, drugs, material possessions, relationships, false religions, and other various experiences.  They need to understand that only Jesus can fill the emptiness in their lives.  Some eventually come to know Jesus as Lord and Savior —as their marriage partner.  When that finally takes place, God’s people are then filled with the Holy Spirit.  They receive various manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the common good.  As the Holy Spirit works in their lives, they begin to produce fruit and lead others to know Jesus.  Each person develops the gifts and talents they possess and perform good works as God purposed for them to do.  They mature as they eat and drink the spiritual food found in the Scriptures.  If they have the proper foundation, each week they rest on the Sabbath in celebration and in anticipation of the final rest that awaits them.  When the time comes, they die so they can be in the presence of the Lord.  When the day of resurrection comes, they will finally experience God’s rest that was foreshadowed long ago.

Have you considered your spiritual state?  What are you attempting to fill the void in your heart with?

Do you have the spiritual foundation that God gave to His people on Mt. Sinai?

Are you living in obedience to God’s commands?  In case you didn’t know, these are the first kind of “good works” you should be doing.

Are you anticipating the rest of the Sabbath?

Remember Hebrews 4:9-11 says:   So there remains a Shabbat-keeping for God’s people. For the one who has entered God’s rest has also rested from his own works, as God did from his. Therefore, let us do our best to enter that rest; so that no one will fall short because of the same kind of disobedience.  CJB

This is the central emphasis of the creation chiasm.

Making Right Choices

People often turn to Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians in order to determine how to make right choices.  One of the first things they do is refuse to look at Torah because they think it has been abolished or inappropriate in our day and age.

In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul scolds the church in Corinth for ignoring the sexual relationship between a man and his father’s wife.  Paul knew this particular relationship was sinful was because it was defined as such in Torah.

If you are faced with making a decision, the first thing you need to determine is whether or not your choices are forbidden (negative commandment) or commanded (positive command) in Torah.

If your choices are commanded, you should fulfill those commands if possible.  If your choices are forbidden, you should avoid those choices.  Bear in mind whether or not the laws associated with your choices were to be followed only in the land of Israel, only in the Temple, only by the priests and/or judges, only by women or men, or by everyone.

If your choices are not commanded or forbidden in Torah you have even more flexibility in making your decision.  At this point you should also consider what is written in the New Testament.

Are you considering a law suit among believers or non-believers?  Do not bring a case with a believer before non-believers. (1 Cor. 6) Instead, consider putting up with injustice or attempt to work things out privately.

Are you considering marriage or divorce?  Marriage should only be between believers.  Divorce is acceptable in the event of sexual immorality.  Remarriage is an option in the event of the death of your spouse.

Will your decision show love for God and/or your fellow man?  Will your decision harm anyone?

If you are forced to decide between two evils, choose the lesser evil or the choice that protects or helps others.  If you are faced with breaking the Sabbath and meeting human need, always choose to meet human need.

Are you dealing with an issue of ritual purity?  Remember God’s desire for His people is holiness.  Will your decision cause you to become more or less ritually pure or unclean? Maintain ritual purity if possible except when human need requires you to become unclean.

Does God want you to prophesy?  Be strong and courageous. Allow Him to speak through you.  Afterwards, be still and know He is God.

Finally make decisions that will ultimately bring glory to God.

What decisions are you faced with today?

Don’t be afraid to use these guidelines to make the right decisions.