The following was received from a friend of ours. It is something I wanted to share here on “LaVada’s Blog.” She sent this out a few weeks ago… we can identify with her story! –LaVada
A Letter to My Friends and FamilyA re-post from February 18, 2014 at 7:10am
Almost three years ago, our family went through an amazing change that I want to share with you. June 2011, we were watching an online religious conference and I heard the voice of the LORD challenge me, “Please tell me where in scripture it says you can eat pork.” I was kind of shocked, it absolutely was out of nowhere.
I went to my Bible and started pulling out the verses I used to justify it, and studied them in context and I was very upset to find that they had nothing to do with eating pork at all, that I had been taking them out of context all my life. And, I was further shocked to find that one of the verses was not even in any manuscript anywhere, but was added by translators (the parenthetical statement in Mark 7:19). I found out that the word food was defined in the Bible in Leviticus 11, and that anything anywhere in scripture that was called food fell within those guidelines, nothing else qualified. Acts 10 wasn’t about eating unclean at all, we found out, but about two rabbinical laws (not found in the Torah) – the first being that any clean animal that touched an unclean animal was unfit for eating. “Peter rise and eat” meant it was okay to eat the clean animals even though they were in contact with unclean animals; and, the second being the first century belief that any gentile who had not undergone full conversion to rabbinic Judaism [meaning they submit to the traditions of the elders, like ritual hand washing, the washing of couches, and the very restrictive laws they made for the Sabbath – found today recorded in the Talmud] was unclean, if they were not keeping Torah, and common, if they were keeping Torah but had not yet submitted to the Rabbis. According to Rabbinical law, Peter could not come in contact with gentiles who had not converted to Judaism, and he certainly could not eat with them or go into their houses. If I had read to the end of the chapter, I would have seen that his vision was about people, not about eating things that the Bible says are not food, but I believed what I had always been taught.
We were very shocked, but we gave up all our pork and Mark and the boys gave up all seafood that did not have fins and scales. Three weeks later, I noticed that I had not had a single asthma attack, I also noticed that my fingers didn’t hurt anymore and they had started to untwist, and my blood pressure was normal – I found that out when I finally went in to renew my Lisinopril prescription that I had let lapse.
At this point, we had to figure out what was going on, and we were in for more shocks. We found that the early church, the church that worked miracles and raised people from the dead – kept Saturday Sabbath, and that the church did not change that until ordered to by Rome centuries later. None of the early disciples of Yeshua (Jesus’ real name, untranslated to English) would have ever worshiped on Sunday and none of them did – we know this from the writings of the church fathers and from other historical writings. We read what the Bible said about Sabbath and decided that in order to follow Yeshua, we needed to do what He did – because as He said, “My doctrine is not my own, but Him that sent Me.” John 7:16. In fact, in reading the only scriptures that the apostles ever had, the old Testament, we found out how incredibly important Sabbath is to God, that it is an affirmation that we believe He created the world in six days and then rested on the seventh, and that it is also an affirmation of our belief that Messiah will return after 6,000 years of human rule upon this earth and reign for 1,000 years, when He will give us rest from our labors.
The next change we made was to keep the Feasts in Leviticus 23, just like our Savior and His disciples always did, including Paul. In fact, He was in Jerusalem for the Feast (we see from Acts 20:6 that the Passover had just been kept and they were heading to Jerusalem for Shavuot, or Pentecost) when this came up in Acts 21…
18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. 19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are ALL ZEALOUS FOR THE LAW: 21 and they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. 22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. 23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; 24 them take, and purify thyself with them,and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law.
I don’t know how I didn’t see it for so many years of Bible reading, but I didn’t. Paul didn’t teach the Gentiles not to follow the law, he didn’t teach people not to have their sons circumcised (in fact he himself had Timothy circumcised in Acts 16:3). And Paul himself kept the law. Otherwise, James would have been telling Paul to lie about what he was doing.
So we traded Christmas for Sukkot, the true birth of Messiah during the Feast of Tabernacles, which is a shadow picture for Him coming to reign for a thousand years. When we keep that feast, we are making a declaration that we believe He was, is and is to come. We keep Yom Kippur, which is a declaration that we believe that Yeshua is the salvation of the nation of Israel as a whole, that “all Israel shall be saved.” We keep Yom Teruah, the day of Trumpets, which occurs on “the day and hour that no man knows” at the sighting of the first sliver of the new moon during the biblical month of Tishri. We traded Pentecost for Shavuot, the prophetic shadow picture of the spirit being poured out on the assembly, as we see in the book of Acts, just as the law was given at Mt Sinai to the assembly, which according to Stephen was the true birth of the church (Acts 7:38). We also traded Easter for Passover, the shadow picture of Messiah coming to die to restore us to right standing with God, in order to obey Him when He said, “from now on, do this in remembrance of Me.” We traded Resurrection Sunday for First Fruits, the feast which served as a shadow of Messiah rising up out of the earth and ascending to be presented as a holy offering to God. In Leviticus 23, these are called the Feasts of the LORD, and were to be celebrated by His people Israel forever, not just the Jews, but all those who are in covenant with Him. Just like at Mt Sinai, the descendants of Jacob plus the mixed multitude who came out of Egypt.
We learned from I John 3:4 that sin is defined as transgression of the law. I John 1:10 says that if we claim we do not sin we are liars, so sin still exists, and that was written long after the death of the other apostles, including Paul. I read what Peter said about Paul in 2 Peter 3 – that his writings were hard to understand and easily twisted. And I began to see that Peter was right because the more I understood what everyone besides Paul was saying, the more I realized that the only way I could justify what I had been doing was with Paul’s writings. I couldn’t use Yeshua, Moses, John, Peter or any of the others to back up any of the doctrines I was taught –I had to ignore Yeshua almost entirely, or take Him out of context. I decided that Yeshua, and not Paul, died for me, so I had to give the weight to what Yeshua said first and foremost. He said this,
Matthew 5:17 17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to pleroo. 18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
I studied and found that pleroo did not mean fulfill as in ‘do away with.’ It can mean many things, but never that. It means to confirm, complete, perform – and when Paul uses that word in Roman 15:19 – it means ‘fully preach.’ Which is exactly what Yeshua did in the verses that follow. Not only did He fully preach the law, he brought fuller meaning to it, making it more honest and removing the loopholes the Pharisees had added with their rabbinical rulings (extra laws). He said right in the passage I quoted that whoever breaks even a small law and teaches others to do so will be least, but those who teach the law and keep it will be great. Why would He teach that about the Kingdom of Heaven if He was going to destroy the law? What He destroyed, was the debt of sin which we were condemned by. He took the penalty— but nowhere does it say that He kept the Father’s commandments so that we don’t have to. As we can see around us, heaven and earth have not passed, and not all of the Bible has come to pass! He said, “Follow Me.” Indeed, how can we follow Him, if we do not live as He lived?
I pray you are still reading, because I love you, and it is my greatest fear that no one will ever share this with you. I love you so much that I am willing to have you never speak to me again just in the hopes that this will help you come closer to our God.
Yeshua had much to say about lawbreaking, and how serious it is. Right after warning about false prophets and their fruits, Yeshua said this in Matthew 7…
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
It is not enough to confess Him as Lord, we have to do the will of His Father in Heaven in order to make Him Lord, and the will of His Father was given at Sinai – that we would be set apart from the rest of the world by obedience to His way of life, the laws given to Moses. These people in this passage were doing amazing works, but they were working iniquity, the Greek word ‘anomia,’ which means “lawlessness” – they were living apart from the laws of God. There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile here, and as we said before, Paul was not teaching the gentiles not to keep Torah. The Acts 15 council decided that in order to enter in to the body of believers, Gentiles had to first commit to 4 changes in their lives, and then they could learn the rest of the Torah, Acts 15:21…
21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
What we were taught were that our only requirements were simply the minimum requirements to be able to enter into the synagogue – because those 4 requirements were about what happens in pagan temples – sex with cult prostitutes, blood drinking, animals strangled for sacrifice, and no association with idols. From the beginning at Sinai, there has only been one law for Jew and Gentile – Exodus 12:49 (as well as many other references)…
“One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.”
As Paul said, there is no wall of division, the same standards always applied to everyone equally. Ephesians 2…
11 Wherefore remember, that ye being IN TIME PAST Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision (not official converts to Judaism) by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands (those submitted to rabbinical Judaism); 12 that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants (plural, meaning all former covenants still apply) of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 but now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances (rabbinical ordinances that kept Jews and Gentiles apart, and by definition, kept Gentiles from being able to come to the gospel); for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 for through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints (of the nation of Israel, same exact standing), and of the household of God; 20 and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The word holy is not really understood by most people, but it means “set apart” – it means different, and the opposite of set apart is common. If we live like the world does in any way, it would be remarked what we have in common with them; but, we are supposed to be set apart, and how we are set apart is by striving to live as Messiah lived, and He was a Torah keeping Jewish Rabbi. In fact, if Yeshua had broken even one of the laws given by God to Moses on Mt Sinai, according to I John 3:4, He would have been a sinner and we would be dead in our sins. If He added to, or took away, from the law in any way, He would have broken Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32, and we would be dead in our sins. What did our Savior say about Moses’ writings?
For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me:for he wrote of me. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?
Yeshua says that if we do not believe Moses, we will not believe what He says… and we were taught not to believe Moses. We are taught that when God told Moses “forever” over and over and over again, that He really just means, for another 1200 years or so. Moses prophesied the coming one of Israel; Moses was so beloved of God that He spoke to him face to face as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11), so I believe with my whole heart that whatever Moses says is absolutely true. Moses said this in Deuteronomy 30 after speaking the law once more to the children of Israel before his death…
11 For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? 14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and IN THY HEART, That THOU MAYST DO IT.”
15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; 16 in that I command thee this day to LOVE the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
Verse 16 tells us how to love God, by walking in His ways, keeping his commandments, statutes and judgments. He says it is not out of our reach, or impossible, that it is in our hearts. There is no reference to any ceremonial laws, in fact, you will never find that phrase anywhere in the Bible. Yeshua said this exact same thing in John 14:15…
“If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.”
People say He was only referring to two of them, love God with all your heart, mind and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5) and love your neighbor (Leviticus 19:18), but He said elsewhere that all of the other commandments are part and parcel with these, inseparable–
Matthew 22:40 “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
We love God and make Him our God by living according to what He says is good and bad. Malachi 3:6… He never changes, not ever. Bad never becomes good and good never becomes bad, or it makes him a liar, like a man. His word is eternal or conditional, true or false, life or death.
One closing thing, does Yeshua ever once say that the law has been done away with? Ever? Wouldn’t He have said it? Doesn’t it take a “thus saith the LORD” to undo a “Thus saith the Lord?” What did He say? What are His last words as recorded by Matthew? Matthew 28…
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
He just said that all power is given to Him in heaven and in earth, and He did not say “You are free from the law.” He said, in a nutshell, what He had been saying all along, “Keep my commandments and teach others to do the same.” If He taught anything before His death that diminished the commandments, then He was a sinner and we are dead in our sins. If He had ever taught against the law, or broke it, they would not have needed false witnesses at His trial. Was he a sinner? May it never be!
I pray my words are received with the love in which they are given, I know this is hard, but the last two and a half years have been so happy for us, we have the whole of scriptures, the eternal word of God, as a gift for all of us to teach us what is and is not acceptable to God. We keep it because we love Him. It is how He desires to be loved and worshiped, not only in spirit, but also in truth.
We have not fallen from grace, we have found it at last! Psalm 119:142…
“Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth.”
Tyler, Mark, Matthew and Andrew