Saturday, December 31, 2011
Vision of Naḥum
Shalom family, we lift up and continue to give praise to our Mighty Elohim, יהוה of Hosts, aměn!
Tehillim/Psalm 34:8 “Oh, taste and see that יהוה is good; blessed is the man that takes refuge in Him!”
Have you been eating your lawful bread? Have you been looking intently into the mirror of His Word? Taste and see how good He is – we are blessed in taking refuge in Him! In a world which places emphasis on success being gained by being ruthless, conniving, and deceitful, with a win at all costs and the ends-justify-the means mentality, it is often hard to stay afloat as we who follow the Word will typically go against this corrupted standard of promotion and temporary success. Without יהוה as our Refuge we would never be able to survive the onslaught of the world’s ways pressing down on us to be conformed to its standards of corruption and sin. But praise be unto יהוה, our Elohim, who is our refuge and strength, our help in times of distress and our Deliverer, aměn! We simply have a choice – choose יהוה, or choose the world – and as we know our choices have consequences. In a message tonight where I would like us to be strengthened in our Refuge, יהוה of Hosts, I would also like us to be warned against the temptations of following after the world’s ways to which there will be devastating consequences and to do this we will look at the book of Naḥum as we overview the vision he saw and the message he gave to a backslidden city. In a message tonight called, “Ninewěh Revisited”, please turn with me to the book of Naḥum the prophet. (Read).
Such a power packed book that carries great significance and lessons for us today in terms of what lies ahead with the pressing urgency to ensure that we place our Trust in The Name that Saves, taking refuge in Him, or else we will face the consequences of His wrath.
The setting for this vision is as follows:
Ninewěh was the capital of the once Assyrian Empire and this message of Naḥum to Ninewěh came at least 100 years after Yonah had delivered his ‘turn or burn’ message of repentance where the entire city repented and turned to follow יהוה. So Naḥum was sent back as a prophet to Ninewěh after the initial repentance wore off in as little as 100 years or so – that is how quick a nation can fall back into lies and hypocrisy – it just takes one generation! Now think how vital and alive this message is today that we, as His remnant, must declare to a people who have been under lies for many centuries!
The location of ancient Ninewěh was situated in current day Northern Iraq, east of the Tigris, and remnants of this ancient city can be found in modern day Mosul. It was one of the most populated cities of ancient times with fertile lands that were good for both agriculture and pasturing of animals. The ruins of the palace of King Sennacherib were found in 1847, and according to various resources, it was regarded as the main city of the worship of Ishtar as far back as 1800 B.C.E! ‘Easter’ was been worshipped at least 1800 years before Messiah came to give His live as a ransom!
Ninewěh means “house of Ninus” who according to historical writings founded Ninewěh and his wife was Semiramis (Ishtar). Ninus is none other than Nimrod and so Ninewěh means ‘house of Nimrod’, who built the tower of Baḇel and after which we can clearly see the context of the corrupted system of worship of Baḇel that can be attributed to this wicked man who, as an agent of our adversary, has too tried to build a house for himself.
Naḥum means ‘comfort’ and comes from the root word ‘naḥam’ which means ‘to sigh or breath strongly, and by implication to be sorry, console, comfort or avenge’. This message was a comforting one to some while a vengeful breath of wrath to others.
The entire theme of this message given by Naḥum is basically this: “The fall of Ninewěh”, or better put for us today – the fall of the House of Nimrod and as we see the picture or foreshadow of things to come of what was decreed in this message and also accomplished in part as a direct foreshadow of the fall of Baḇel which we read of as being declared by the messenger in Ḥazon/Revelation 18:2: “Baḇel the great is fallen”. And the reason for my message called, “Ninewěh Revisited” is exactly what is coming. Here is a city that was as corrupt and violent as can be, and repented after a reluctant Yonah did what he was told, only to find that 100 years later they had gone back to being a wicked nation.
יהוה had certainly used the Assyrian Empire to discipline Yehuḏah, yet Assyria took it one step further and ravaged them and grew wicked against them to which יהוה came to pronounce great judgement and wrath upon them.
I find a great picture being given us here between the message of Yonah and this message given by Naḥum, picturing for us the 2 comings of Messiah! Why do I say that – well Yonah for me is a picture of Messiah’s 1st coming to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins – Yonah means ‘dove’ and when יהושע was immersed Yoḥanan said he saw the Spirit coming down from heaven like a dove and remain on יהושע. We know He came first as a suffering servant and now with His second coming He is coming as a conquering King who will execute wrath upon His enemies from which a double edged sword will come from His mouth, and the oracle or message of Nahum declares just that; while in the midst of it all there is a promise of protection to those who take refuge in יהוה.
The message of Naḥum is one of comfort and console to a set-apart called out people, while to a rebellious and stiff-necked people it is one of great destruction and despair for which no one is able to stand before the rage of יהוה!
In these 3 short chapters we see in essence a 3-fold message being given to a corrupt and unrepentant people who had caused the Torah to cease and grew more wicked and perverse than before.
In Chapter 1 we see DOOM DECLARED, in Chapter 2 we see the DOOM DESCRIBED and in Chapter 3 we see DOOM is DESERVED! Doom declared, described and deserved – a summed up message of the righteousness and justice that are the foundations of the Throne of יהוה. יהוה does not just do things unannounced as He reveals it through His prophets – He had declared, described and given reasons why!
In a nutshell – you receive, accept and continue to be steadfast in living in the first message of His coming that will protect you at His second, or else. He came so that we could be saved from destruction and He came to remove the veil from our eyes that the House of Nimrod, through its twisted teachings, has cleverly weaved over so many and those who refuse to repent and have the veil removed and see the Truth and walk clearly in it have the imminent and real threat of these words of wrath.
Yoḥanan/John 3:17-18 “For Elohim did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 18 “He who believes in Him is not judged, but he who does not believe is judged already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only brought-forth Son of Elohim.”
Yoḥanan/John 3:36 “He who believes in the Son possesses everlasting life, but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of Elohim remains on him.”
Here we see once again belief and obedience go hand in hand – the disobedient will not see life but rather the wrath of Elohim remains on Him! He who does not ‘obey’ shall not see life and wrath remains of him! Sadly so many miss that critical point of obedience!
Let us briefly run through some key points in these 3 chapters:
CHAPTER 1 – DOOM DECLARED
In verse 2 there is no beating around the bush – straight up we are reminded that יהוה is a jealous Ěl; He is a revenging Ěl and a possessor of wrath who will take vengeance on His enemies. Straight up we see Naḥum announcing the character of יהוה and His unrivalled power. All too often the twisted teaching of the House of Nimrod, portrays Elohim as this meek and mild father who will not really punish – and that is a lie that even form the 1st century a man named Marcion began to teach that the Elohim of the so-called ‘O.T.’ was not the real Elohim as He was too cruel and he rejected the Hebrew Scriptures and יהוה as Elohim and believed that the wrathful Hebrew Elohim was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving Elohim of the N.T. Sadly the root of this erroneous teaching has produced so much wicked fruit that we see almost 2000 years later being widely accepted at large by those who have rejected the necessity and validity of the Torah as being applicable today! And those who fall into this trap need to heed the words of a jealous and consuming Ěl.
Praise יהוה that He is patient – for if He was not where would any of us be today? He is great in power – but He does not leave unpunished!!! If He did then why would He come and die for us – there would be no need! Oh, but He does not leave unpunished – the difference is simply this – we who call upon Him and continue to stay in Him escape His punishment of death for He Himself took our punishment – punishment was not set aside completely – He took it upon Himself and all who do not believe and obey will certainly receive the right and just punishment! He turned aside our judgement by taking the punishment for us who call upon Him and take Refuge in Him. There is only One Elohim and He does not change or lie – so Marcion’s pitiful theories are lies, lies that still cause so many to stumble today as they grope around in the dark, ignorant of the Truth veiled through deceit and lies taught by a wicked house of Nimrod!
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 30:5-6 “Every Word of Eloah is tried; He is a shield to those taking refuge in Him. 6 Do not add to His Words, Lest He reprove you, and you be found a liar.”
Sha’ul tells us in his introduction to his 2nd letter to Timotiyos that Elohim does not lie and Shemuʼĕl said to king Sha’ul when he tore the garment of Shemuʼĕl that the reign of Yisra’ĕl had been torn form Him by יהוה, who does not lie. He does not change:
Mal’aḵi/Malachi 3:6 “For I am יהוה, I shall not change, and you, O sons of Yaʽaqoḇ, shall not come to an end.”
This is a wonderful verse – because יהוה does not change we have a secure hope and future. Think about it – if He did change we would be in a spot of bother for this verse tells us clearly that because He does not change, the sons of Ya’aqoḇ – that is the Tribes of Yisra’ĕl – that is you and we as we have been grafted in – shall not come to an end – we have a promised and sure hope of eternal life – because His Word is sure and does not change!!!
Ya’aqoḇ/James (1:17) quotes a portion of this verse declaring that every good and perfect gift come from above from the Father of lights who does not change!
יהוה does not fail to accomplish what He has declared! Some may understand it as slowness, yet it is His favour, desiring that all repent and turn form their wickedness:
Kěpha Bet/2 Peter 3:9 “יהוה is not slow in regard to the promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward us, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”
His fierceness and anger is described here in chapter 1 and even the best and most flourishing places will wither and languish – Bashan and Karmel are the most fruitful places in Yisra’ĕl and Leḇanon was known for its huge trees yet had now withered and when יהוה speaks in rage who can stand or rise on the heat of His displeasure? The answer is simply – no one! Amidst this declaration of doom, wrath and fire we are comforted by the Truth that יהוה is good and a refuge to all who call upon His Name and those who call upon His Name and find their refuge in Him and walk in His ways are safe for they turn away from unrighteousness; for which there is great punishment coming upon those who persist in unrighteousness, which is lawlessness!
Timotiyos Bet/2 Timothy 2:19 “However, the solid foundation of Elohim stands firm, having this seal, “יהוה knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the Name of Messiah turn away from unrighteous-ness.”
We all here name the Name of Messiah – have you turned away from unrighteousness – for if not you have taken His Name in vain!
He declared that Ninewěh would be destroyed and flooded and the counselor of Beliya’al will be cut off and the name of the wicked house of Nimrod will no longer be sown and Yehuḏah would once again keep the Sabbaths and Feasts of יהוה and able to perform their vows of obedience unhindered. This we have in Messiah who has cut off the name of Ba’al from us – and this we are to proclaim, aměn!
CHAPTER 2 – DOOM DESCRIBED
In verses 1-7 we see how the siege and capture is described and the furious preparation for battle that takes place and how resistance to the coming onslaught is futile! יהוה would turn back the splendour of Ya’aqoḇ, which is not a wonderful thought, because due to sin and lawlessness and ruin bringing about a great emptiness through worthlessness the splendour would be turned back from a people who were to be robed in His splendour. We do know that for those who take refuge in Him has the assurance that He will fill us once again – He will fill us who have been emptied of Truth by the emptiers! The emptiers have emptied and ruined the vine branches!
In Yoḥanan/John 15 יהושע tells us that He is the Vine and we are the branches and we who do not bear fruit are cut off and thrown into the fire. The branches here in verse 2 of this second chapter of Naḥum describes how the enemy has ruined the branches to a point of being empty and unable to bear fruit – leaving them as prey for destruction and fire.
The house of Nimrod and the counsellors of Beliya’al – that is the House of Nimrod’s false teachers and preachers are emptying and ruining many branches through their twisted prosperity and false grace messages as they are simply draining so many from the True sap of the Vine and cause ruin and destruction to set in. For those who take refuge in יהושע, The True Vine, will have His splendour restored but those who fall prey to worthless teachings will have the splendour of Ya’aqoḇ turned back! Beliya’al means ‘worthlessness’ and so those who have been emptied out of the Truth by the worthlessness of a Baḇel system of falsified worship will have the splendour removed, but we who call upon and take refuge in Him will be filled and splendour restored.
יהוה is against the wickedness and empty vain teachings and all those who follow after it and He will cut off the voice of worthlessness.
CHAPTER 3 – DOOM DESERVED
The very stern woe given in verse 1 is due to sin. The wrath of יהוה and His declared Doom upon His enemies is not without just cause.
Mattithyahu/Matthew 12:30 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.”
We are either with Him or against Him and to be with Him means we agree and walk in Him and His ways, any other way contrary to His Truth is simply against Him and is one who scatters and does not gather. Those who are against Him will be put to shame and exposed before all and all of the worthless teachings that were held so fast onto will be revealed for its fruitlessness and it shall be declared, “Ninewěh is laid waste”, with no one to mourn for her and more specifically no one to comfort and would be destroyed just as No-Amon in Mitsrayim was destroyed.
Amon means ‘to nourish or be faithful’ and ‘No’ means’ disrupting – No-Amon was the ancient capital of upper Mitsrayim, built as a center of worship to Thebes their pagan deity, which fell to the Assyrian onslaught and were unable to stand. Ninewěh were no better than No-Amon – a city who simply disrupts the ability to flourish and be fruitful through worthlessness and idolatry! And they shall be laid waste! It is declared here that all the wealth and strength would not be able to save Ninewěh from that which was declared! The House of Nimrod would be destroyed and the peoples rejoice at her destruction! The Assyrian Empire was destroyed by the Babylonian Empire and in fact Ninewěh was not only destroyed but flooded and laid waste, so much so that for centuries many walked and passed over land that had covered her without realizing it as ruins of Ninewěh were first discovered in 1847. The Assyrians had done wrong to so many people that when she was destroyed people ‘high fived’ each other and rejoiced.
In Ḥazon/Revelation 18 as I mentioned earlier we see again the similar language of destruction being decreed, yet we see that the fall of Baḇel will be mourned!
Baḇel would not directly conquer and displace peoples like the Assyrians did; she would allow other nations to surrender, then make up with those they had conquered by respecting their finest men and giving them high positions in the Baḇel government, treating them very well and making them wealthy, which is one reason most Yehuḏim did not return from there when they were permitted. Baḇel would wound then heal, like a counterfeit shepherd, making it indispensable to everyone, and this we are to be warned against as we call out for many to “Come out of her!”
Sadly the reality is that instead of rejoicing her downfall, many will mourn and I believe that there is a lesson here for us – we who have come out must not look back and mourn and so in some subtle ways try to hold on to past theologies and try to justify them as well meaning and partially correct – partially correct is still wrong – we must rebuke Baḇel as we see in Hoshěa/Hosea and not mourn the loss of her influence – but rejoice and be glad that we take refuge in יהוה and that He repays!
Tehillim/Psalm 137:8 “O daughter of Baḇel, who are to be destroyed, blessed is He who repays you your deed, what you did to us!”
What we can take from this powerful message of Naḥum is that we are to understand the sovereignty of יהוה, understand His goodness, favour and the hope we have in Him; and this we do as we walk in His Word for understanding comes in the doing and we “do” that which we hear and guard, aměn!
We must be careful to not be stiff-necked in any way and not be closed to correction as this stubbornness will only lead to destruction:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 29:1 “One often reproved, hardening his neck, Is suddenly broken, and there is no healing.”
How often have you been reproved yet continue to harden your neck and refuse to bow in humble obedience? Be warned by this book that destruction is coming swift upon those who forsake His Torah and are busy building in vain the House of Nimrod that will fall when the storm of יהוה’s wrath upon the wicked comes.
Sha’ul summarizes it all for us in this statement:
Romiyim/Romans 11:22 “See then the kindness and sharpness of Elohim: on those who fell sharpness, but toward you kindness, if you continue in His kindness, otherwise you also shall be cut off.”
This he said in speaking of us who are wild branches that were grafted in and how the natural branches were cut off due to unbelief and worthlessness – It is His Kindness that leads us to repentance and we must continue in His kindness to remain in the Vine and bear much fruit of righteousness, which is to guard to do His commands, and allow the words of Naḥum be a comfort to us who take refuge in יהוה, as opposed to the sound of righteous judgement of wrath upon the lawless!
This is a message that is very much alive today – one we must declare and in so doing we too must be sure that we have come out of the House of Nimrod and all her worthless teachings as teachings the commands of men, only to be found clinging to the Torah and being steadfast to remain in Him; for keeping the Torah is the refuge in which we will hide under the shadow of His wings, as we walk in His Torah out of a loving obedience with great joy and great delight, ready to confidently call many out of the soon to be destroyed house of the enemy into the House of the Living Elohim of which יהושע is our King, our Redeemer, our Wonderful Counsellor, our Strong Ěl, our Father of Continuity and our Prince of Peace!
Ninewěh revisited – יהושע is coming again in vengeance for His set-apart Bride – many who have heard the 1st message and repented have not stayed in the kindness of Elohim and so strayed and will be revisited. Perhaps you too have found yourself having slipped into worthlessness and deceit under the influence of the teachings and ways of the House of Nimrod – then may this Word tonight revisit you where you are at and set your feet back upon the straight and narrow path of obedience in Messiah – the Living Word that when He revisits Ninewěh you will be found in Him as a refuge and shelter from the storm. This is the comfort and assurance we have in Him and we have to bring this message of Ninewěh to an ignorant people who are being emptied by the emptiers and headed for destruction, while there is still the time of the kindness and patience of יהוה.
Ninewěh Revisited – where will you be found – be found in Him who is our Refuge, aměn!
Sunday, December 25, 2011
UNDERTSANDING GALATIANS – AN OVERVIEW OF PAUL’S MESSAGE
Galatiyim/Galatians – a very misunderstood letter!
Blessed be יהוה our Elohim, who has given us abundant life in יהושע the Messiah, aměn! Shabbat Shalom to you all and welcome. I am going to share with you tonight some great insight into understanding a book or letter that has, in many ways, often been misunderstood and has, in essence, left us at times confused. It is the letter to the Galatians by Sha’ul (Paul). In light of what we as a fellowship have been going through over the past few weeks and months – having spoken about Torah and Grace, living the Married life and reviewing the Marriage vows etc – it is very fitting to bring you great insight into Galatians, helping us understand what Sha’ul (Paul) is really saying. Galatians is a letter that is often very quickly turned to in order to seemingly defend the right ‘not to walk in the Torah or Law of Elohim’. My message tonight is called, “Understanding Galatians – an overview of Sha’ul’s/Paul’s message.” Let us pray…
Sha’ul/Paul, at times, wrote in a way that was often hard to understand; Kepha/Peter spoke of this in:
Kepha Bet/2 Peter 3:15-16 “and reckon the patience of our Master as deliverance, as also our beloved brother Sha’ul wrote to you, according to the wisdom given to him, 16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them concerning these matters, in which some are hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do also the other Scriptures.”
The heart of what I want to address tonight is the issue of ‘law’. What is Sha’ul/Paul teaching – did he keep it or didn’t he – did he teach it or didn’t he? Did his teachings go against what יהושע taught or was he teaching what יהושע taught?
יהושע said in Mattityahu/Matthew 5:18 that until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law or Torah until all has been accomplished! That is very straight forward – the new heaven and earth is not here yet, so nothing has disappeared! But on the outset, as many have so erroneously taught today, it appears that Paul is contradicting the very words of יהושע by saying it is all gone and is old – we do not need to follow it. But is that really what Sha’ul was saying, you must ask yourself, or was he simply a brilliant Torah teacher?
One thing we must realise is that we must never give up studying the Scriptures, seeking the correct interpretation of any given passage. In Sha’ul’s writings there are terms such as ‘under the law, observance of the law, or ‘the works of the law’ etc and I want to shed some much needed light on these. Sha’ul, in fact, warned that in the last days a spiritual delusion will come over the saints of יהוה and many will fall away from Scripture and turn to a ‘Lawless’ or rather ‘Torahless’ gospel message referred to as the ‘mystery of iniquity’. Let us read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12…
“As to the coming of our Master יהושע Messiah and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to become easily unsettled in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as if the day of יהוה has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way, because the falling away is to come first, and the man of lawlessness is to be revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called Elohim or that is worshipped, so that he sits as Elohim in the Dwelling Place of Elohim, showing himself that he is Elohim. 5 Do you not remember that I told you this while I was still with you? 6 And now you know what restrains, for him to be revealed in his time. 7 For the secret of lawlessness is already at work – only until he who now restrains comes out of the midst. 8 And then the lawless one shall be revealed, whom the Master shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth and bring to naught with the manifestation of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood, 10 and with all deceit of unrighteousness in those perishing, because they did not receive the love of the truth, in order for them to be saved. 11 And for this reason Elohim sends them a working of delusion, for them to believe the falsehood, 12 in order that all should be judged who did not believe the truth, but have delighted in the unrighteousness.”
Yoḥanan/John tells us that if you love יהוה you will obey His commands – if you truly love Him you will not refuse to love the TRUTH and OBEY His TRUTH – (יהושע is the very Word made flesh – The Torah (instructions of Elohim) became flesh)
Lawlessness or sin is the Greek word ‘anomia’ and simply put it means ‘without law’ or more specifically ‘without Torah’. Go and Google ‘Greek word ‘anomia’ and do some research! The word ‘iniquity’ or ‘sin’ is the Greek word ‘anomia’ and comes from the Greek word ‘anomos’ = ‘a’ comes from the negative participle in the Greek which means ‘without’ and ‘nomos’ means Law (Torah). Therefore the workers of iniquity are practicing ‘anomia’, which describes those who are without Law or Torah. Simply put, we cannot live without instruction or the Torah, else we are ‘lawless’!
Before we look at Galatians I would first like us to understand what Sha’ul’s view of the Torah was by looking at some of his writings:
Romiyim/Romans 7:12 “So that the Torah truly is set-apart, and the command set-apart, and righteous, and good.”
Romiyim/Romans 7:14 “For we know that the Torah is Spiritual,…”
Romiyim/Romans 7:22 “For I delight in the Torah of Elohim according to the inward man,”
Romiyim/Romans 3:31 “Do we then nullify the Torah through the belief? Let it not be! On the contrary, we establish the Torah.”
Timotiyos Aleph/1Timothy 1:8 “And we know that the Torah is good if one uses it legitimately”
In Ma’asei/Acts he states on two occasions that he did nothing against the law or Torah.
From these and many other passages we are able to see clearly that Sha’ul was for Torah and he taught Torah. So with that understanding how should one understand what seems to be contradictory teaching in Galatians? In order to understand any letter, one needs to clearly understand who the writer is writing to, what are the issues being addressed and what were the circumstances at that time! On the surface, this letter could seem to be an argument against יהוה’s Torah obedience. The question in this letter in actual fact is NOT Torah obedience, but whether Torah obedience was a condition for a restored spiritual standing in Messiah or whether it was rather a natural outflow of that standing! In other words, does obeying torah earn you salvation, or is Torah obedience a natural outflow and response to salvation?
The first point on trying to earn your salvation, Sha’ul argues, is just another example of human religion trying to earn points with יהוה, just as the pagans do to their ‘gods’. Sha’ul teaches clearly in his letters that the Torah is a source of blessing, growth and maturity. So Elohim’s Torah observance was not in dispute, but what was in dispute was the gaining of identity itself. In the Roman Empire at the time, only ‘Jews’ (those from the tribe of Yehuḏah/Judah) were exempted from the mandatory worship of civic deities (if you were not ‘Jewish’ you were forced to bow down to pagan worship of their deities – Emperor worship etc.)– So the non Jewish believers (Gentiles) may have wanted or were seeking greater recognition as members of the ‘fearers of יהוה’ – they wanted to be known as followers of the Way. Sha’ul had taught them that they had already received this status through faith in יהושע, while others in the broader ‘Jewish’ community who were actually responsible for shepherding these new converts were in effect ‘lording it’ over these new Gentile converts and in effect saying to them, “You guys have taken too high a seat at the banquet table too soon, step back down until you have required proper status!” And so they were told that through circumcision they could be sure that they would not be barred any longer form the privileges and exemptions that the Jews enjoyed. Just picture the scene – some Gentiles get saved, Sha’ul teaches them they are saved by grace through faith in יהושע – they have stepped out of the bondage of their pagan practices and into freedom in Messiah and the guys who should have been training them in righteousness were putting man’s yoke on their necks and Sha’ul saw this as undermining his message he had brought for he knew that if the restoration of Israel to the Covenant could be obtained by any other means than by faith then יהושע’s sacrifice was a waste. Sha’ul wrote this letter in around 50 AD and the major debate in these early years, as seen in Ma’asei/Acts 15, was whether all of the nations/gentiles needed to live out their obedience exactly as the ‘Jews’ (Tribe of Yehuḏah/Judah) did. Now too understand how the Jews (Yehuḏim) were living at the time, will help us understand what Sha’ul was writing about in terms of the law or law.
The central theme of Galatiyim/Galatians is justification by grace through faith! Sha’ul uses chapters 1&2 to defend the good news, 3&4 to define the good news and 5&6 he shows followers how to display the good news. False teachers had come in and brought a different message and Sha’ul wanted to expose their impure motives, trying to enforce circumcision as a means for salvation.
Sha’ul told them not to frustrate the grace of Elohim for righteousness comes through faith and not through observance of the law. The Torah is not followed for salvation through performance – follow Torah for sanctification yes, but salvation – no!
Ok but that still doesn’t settle the understanding of this letter does it – because when I read it I think that in am no longer ‘under law’ – and yes you are right you are not under law. Now, is the Christian idea of being ‘under law’ (which is a legalism or a works based system to earn favour with יהוה) a Jewish concept? Did the Jews of old view Torah obedience as a means to gain יהוה’s favour, and hence earn their salvation and place in the world to come? Does Jewish tradition teach this? Does the Tenakh (OT) teach this? With these questions in mind, ask yourself “were the ancient Israelites ‘under law’ or ‘under grace’?”
Well to put it plainly the ancient Israelites were NEVER ‘under’ Torah as we understand it today or as the ‘west’ describes it!!! You know that the word ‘grace’ meaning unmerited favour and is the Hebrew word ‘chasad’ actually appears 251 times in the Tenakh (OT) – 5 times more than in the Renewed Covenant (N.T.)!!!
Sadly Sha’ul’s writings have been twisted and misused. Sha’ul used ‘under law’ in a negative sense to teach against legalism which is the wrong use of Torah and trying to pervert it into a list of do’s and don’ts for the purpose of earning ones salvation.
Law or ‘the’ Law
As you study Scriptures and dig in to the original texts and the translations thereof, one can often find some translational additions that were merely added based on the translators understanding. One of these, in this letter to the Galatians, is a simple little word, ‘the’. In most cases where the term ‘the law’ is found in the N.T. the definite article ‘the’ is not in the original Greek! You then have to ask yourself, ‘does this make any difference?’ And boy yes it does!!! It is like saying ‘the car’ or simply ‘car’. With the definite article ‘the’ it refers to a specific car and not just any car, well the same applies here to law.
The term ‘law’ itself without the definite article ‘the’ preceding it can simply refer to:
(a) any legal code of do’s and don’ts without reference to faith, heart conviction or love; (b) legalism; (c) a perversion of the Torah into a system of do’s and don’ts to earn, merit or keep Elohim’s love and favour and thereby to receive salvation.
So if law could refer to any legal code of do’s and don’t and not directly refer to the Torah alone then one can begin to understand Sha’ul’s writing a little better, and in order to do that one has to be familiar with what ‘other’ ‘laws’ were there that he may have been referring to? First we must understand what יהוה tells us in his Word:
Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 4:2 “Do not add to the Word which I command you, and do not take away from it, so as to guard the commands of יהוה your Elohim which I am commanding you.”
You know the first person to add to His Word was Eve or Ḥawwah in Hebrew: they were told not to eat of the tree… when the instructions of יהוה got twisted by the serpent (surely he didn’t mean…)… she said they may not eat or touch… she added to his instruction! Look what happened – Listen, when you stay in His Word without addition or subtraction you will be kept safe in Him – it is when we add or subtract that things get all fuzzy and messed up, we become confused and make wrong choices based on twisted truth!
Why did I tell you this? Well because adding is exactly what happened to the Torah of יהוה and it was this very addition that made an impossible yoke to bear that יהושע came to destroy – He came to destroy man’s addition to law that brings legalism and bondage into slavery and He came to set the captives free to walk in Him, taking His yoke, His Torah which is easy and light!!! So by the time Sha’ul was writing this there had been so much addition to the Torah that the Torah was not even a third of the ‘whole law’ that was being taught! The greek word for law is ‘nomos’ which gives reference to ‘anything established, anything received by usage, a custom, a law, a command or any law whatsoever’, and so this in no way gives reference only to the Torah but in many cases to other laws in addition to the Torah.
There were precedents and interpretations that were set as law, for example:
‘Halachat’ – Pharisaic interpretations of the Torah, made law through what is known as ‘midrash’.
‘Takanot’ – New laws added to the written Torah with no Scriptural justification
‘Minhagim’ – Traditional customs that became law
‘Ma’asim’ – Rabbinical precedents that led to Takanot
Now as you can well imagine, with all these additions to the Torah – the yoke that is easy, had become heavily burdened by man’s laws, and this is what Sha’ul was taking a stand against. Sha’ul was making a stand against any form of legalism, or rather man made system of works. So in the text the proper phrase should be rendered, ‘under law’ and not ‘under the law’. The addition to the English translation of ‘the’ to law where it was not in the original Greek certainly has steered the meaning of the word ‘law’ toward the Torah of יהוה . Another phrase which we find in Galatians is ‘observance of the law’ or in some translations ‘the works of the law’ should be rendered ‘the works of law’, as it is not referring to the Torah, but is a phrase referring to any man-made system of works which has performance based acceptance as a core belief. These works of law in Galatians are better referred to as the ‘ma’asim’ – those rabbinical precedents that led to laws being added to Torah without Scriptural authority. Sha’ul in his letter to the Galatians is, in other words, referring to a misuse or perversion of the Torah by adding to it a turning it into a works based, legalistic system which the Torah was never and is never intended to be.
This perversion of works based laws was mans way of trying to earn salvation as given through the example of Hagar and Ishmael – Ishmael was born in the natural way – through Aḇraham’ ‘works’ trying to enter into the promises, as opposed to יהוה’s way – Yitsḥaq (Isaac) – the son of the promise that is from above and not of man’s works. יהוה’s way, the way of Sarah and proper use of Torah teaches that salvation is by grace through faith that leads to a producing of ‘good works’ with the help of the Spirit of Elohim living in us – and not through our own human efforts)
The Tenakh (O.T.) teaches that no one’s works are sufficient to earn him being declared righteous by יהוה – it is only by his grace through faith in Messiah יהושע that He died for our sins and was raised to life on the third day by the Father.
The Greek word for ‘under’ as used in the phrase ‘under law’ is ‘upo’ which means controlled by or in subjection to. So under law would mean controlled by or in subjection to law/legalism. Understanding this, then how is one ‘under’ grace?
Controlled by or in subjection to ‘grace’! In the same sense then we have accepted יהזשע's yoke, which is easy and light to be ‘upo’ or under, in total contrast to the yoke of legalism which is not easy and is a burden. Stern in his commentary contends that יהוה’s people are living ‘en’ (within – the framework of the Torah), but not to be ‘upo’ (subjection to) legalism. We are in a faith relationship with Him and His people have always been ‘under’ grace and in effect ‘under’ the Torah which is a gracious subjection, but never under legalism, which is a harsh subjection. We are ‘under’ the Father’s Torah or instruction as we walk in His grace, but through Messiah יהושע, in His death for our sins and taking upon Himself the curse of Torah, we are no longer under the condemnation of the Law or the Torah – this is His grace for us, amen!
Messiah came not so we could get away with sin, but so we could get away FROM sin! His work and walk was an example for us, not an excuse for us not to walk as He did!
When we read Sha’ul’s letter understanding what he was referring to as law or the whole law, it clearly makes sense how against man’s works to earn salvation and position he was. So against it he expressed his anger in saying that if they want to keep all their man made laws and trying to impose circumcision on the new believers then those agitators should rather just go and emasculate themselves!!! Another thing for us to realise is that Sha’ul never spoke against the teachings of the Torah, or rather the teachings of יהושע, who is the living Word, the living Torah. Yeshayahu/Isaiah 40:8 tells us that the Word of Elohim stands forever! Sadly many today have done the exact opposite of adding to the Torah – they have taken away from the Torah in a desperate response to walking out from the works of laws or works of man made laws.
The Torah was given as a way of life and Sha’ul in Galatians calls us to follow it this manner:
Galatiyim/Galatians 5:13-14 “For you, brothers, have been called to freedom, only do not use freedom as an occasion for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the entire Torah is completed in one word, in this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
Sha’ul continually stressed that love is esteemed as the way to follow Torah and he stresses this point in:
Galatiyim/Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so complete the Torah of Messiah.”
The word complete here is the same word used when Messiah declares to us that He did not come to destroy the Torah but ‘fulfil’ or ‘complete it! In other words He came to fully meet its requirements and provide for us the Way to walk in His Torah as we remain in Him in order that we too may ‘complete/fulfil’ the Torah. Just think about it – if He fulfilled’ it in the erroneous way that is taught by many that declares it is now null and void – then how would Sha’ul tell us to fulfil something already fulfilled!!! Yes I know it sounds crazy – and guess what – it is! Because the Torah has not been made null and void – it is there for us to hear, guard and do and we have the ability in Messiah to walk in it!
So we bear each other’s burdens and fulfil the Torah! He was referring to Wayyiqra/Leviticus 19:18 when speaking here – he always referred back to Torah – יהוה’s ways – not man’s!
Wayyiqra/Leviticus 19:18 “‘Do not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people. And you shall love your neighbour as yourself. I am יהוה.”
The freedom that he speaks of in Galatians is in reference to the freedom that man has been given to walk out the Torah without the bondage of man’s traditions. Galatians 3:13 tells us that that יהושע has freed us from the curse spoken of in 3:10. The curse that He took upon Himself enables us to work out the commands of the entire Word of Elohim without the fear of being cursed or condemned. יהושע did not bring the Torah to and end, he was the end of it – in other words the completion of what Torah is, He fully filled it – that we may understand and live it, amen! As Galatians 6:2 (quoted above) says – by carrying each others burdens we ‘fulfil’ the Law (Torah) of Messiah! So we too can walk in the fullness of it as we have been given the way by יהושע Messiah. He fully filled it bringing it in its fullness that we too can walk in the fullness of it, as we walk in Him, having been saved by Grace through faith and now by His Spirit equipped to walk in Him ‘fully’!
These false teachers in Galatia were trying to enslave the new converts all over again – they had been set free from death and slavery to their previous way of life by grace through faith in יהושע, and Sha’ul in chapter 4:21 was basically saying, listen you who want to be under law, not ‘the law’, in other words, ‘under legalism’ – do you not realise what ‘the’ which is there in the Greek – ‘the Law’ referring to the Torah of Elohim. He was saying listen you who want to or are trying to be under man’s laws – are you not aware what Elohim’s Law or His Torah says – salvation is by grace through faith – not of works!
The key to understanding Galatians rests in the knowledge of the letters purpose – the purpose of the letter was to show that justification or right standing in יהוה’s eyes comes through faith alone and not through perverting the Torah into legalism by the addition of man made rules or works. The just shall live by faith! And in walking out our faith we walk in His instructions or Torah.
I encourage you all to start seeing the wonder and beauty of this great letter – Sha’ul was an excellent Torah teacher – he never undermined the very Word of Elohim – he upheld it passionately and so should we. We are in a time where we are truly realising just how the opposite has been done, by taking away from the very yoke that leads us in peace and joy. Living without law is sin, lawlessness is ‘anomia’ in Greek (a – nomos) – without instruction – without Torah – we cannot afford to live without the Torah – we cannot afford to live without the very Living Word giving us direction and guidance for every step we take.
Let us not make the same mistake, although in reverse, by not walking in His ways – He has given us His Word for our benefit, that we may know Him and declare His glory right here right now as we lovingly obey Him.
Praise יהוה that through יהושע he has broken the yoke of slavery – that man made system of works that only enslaves you. Yahshua modelled for us how we should live and we are to walk as He walked, living and obedient life, not enslaved by traditions and rules of men. Just as we can see how today many have taken away from His Torah which is lawlessness, using grace as a license to sin – sin is to miss the mark – whereas the torah is the mark. Through grace we can fix our eyes on the mark – יהושע – The very Word – and run unhindered the race set before us, amen!
In the same breath we have inherited traditions of man that has pagan roots and taken them on as acceptable modes of worship unto יהוה – how different then are we in today’s times compared to that of Sha’ul’s. In effect in today’s accepted mode of worship we can easily see how man has ‘taken away’ from the Torah and ‘added’ man’s own laws. One of these is the Sabbath. Man has taken away from the Torah and added his own Sabbath law, as we discussed a few weeks ago. Another interesting note on the Sabbath – According to the Torah there are basically only 7 commands or instructions regarding the Sabbath – and by the time יהושע had come in the flesh there were well over 1000 additional ‘Sabbath’ laws that man had added, placing huge burdens and unbearable yokes on man!!! The Catholic Church took away from the Torah by stripping the observance of Sabbath according to the Torah of Elohim and added a Sun-day law that has become man’s addition to their self-imposed worship unto יהוה. Let us strip away the rules of men, disguised as freedom, and let us embrace truly the heart of the Torah of Elohim, living it out expressed in loving obedience to our wonderful Maker.
Have you misunderstood Sha’ul’s message? Embrace the truth of the letter that is total harmony with the teachings of Yahshua.
I could go on and on, however I encourage you all to go and further dig into the TRUTH of the Word and discover for yourself the wonder and joy of walking in Him in love expressed through total obedient living.
Let me leave you with some of the verses in Galatians where the word ‘the’ should be or shouldn’t be there. This you can easily check by going to an interlinear Bible where the English and Greek are together and enjoy discovering the Truth, amen!
Galatiyim/Galatians 2: 15-16 term ‘observance of the law’ or ‘works of the law’ should be properly rendered ‘observance of law’ or ‘works of law’. The definite article ‘the’ is not present in the original Greek before ‘law’!
“We, Yehuḏim by nature, and not of the gentiles, sinners, 16 knowing that a man is not declared right by works of Torah, but through belief in יהושע Messiah, even we have believed in Messiah יהושע, in order to be declared right by belief in Messiah and not by works of Torah, because by works of Torah no flesh shall be declared right.”
Galatiyim/Galatiyim/Galatians 2:19 – ‘the’ is not present in the original Greek text:
“For through Torah I died to Torah, in order to live to Elohim.”
Galatiyim/Galatians 3:2 – ‘the’ as the definite article for law is not present:
“This only I wish to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by works of Torah, or by the hearing of belief?”
Observing law or rather works of law gives reference to ‘ma’asim’ –remember – those rabbinical precedents that led to ‘Takkanot’. Sha’ul is asking whether they received the Ruach HaQodesh (Set-Apart Spirit) through works of law – those oral ‘laws’ instituted by man!!!
Galatiyim/Galatians 3:10-11 – definite article ‘the’ is found only once in reference to law in these two verses
“For as many as are of works of Torah are under the curse, for it has been written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all that has been written in the book of the Torah, to do them.”11 And that no one is declared right by Torah before Elohim is clear, for “The righteous shall live by belief.””
Praise be to יהושע our Messiah who redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us so that the blessing given to Aḇraham may come to us trough faith in Messiah and that by faith we may receive the promise of the Spirit – which is salvation.
Galatiyim/Galatians 3:19 – ‘the’ is present:
“Why, then, the Torah? It was added because of transgressions, until the Seed should come to whom the promise was made. And it was ordained through messengers in the hand of a mediator.”
Galatiyim/Galatians 3:21 – ‘the’ is present in the first law and not in the next 2:
“Is the Torah then against the promises of Elohim? Let it not be! For if a law had been given that was able to make alive, truly righteousness would have been by Torah.
Galatiyim/Galatians 3:23 - ‘the’ is not present with law:
“But before belief came, we were being guarded under Torah, having been shut up for the belief being about to be revealed.”
‘Prisoners’ by law’ can also be rendered ‘under law’. Before faith they were held captive by laws – heavy burdens – laws of man that was imposing a works based system for salvation, and as we know salvation is by grace through faith.
Galatians – ‘the is present’
“Therefore the Torah became our trainer unto Messiah, in order to be declared right by belief.”
The law was a tutor or schoolmaster that led us to Messiah that we may be justified by faith. The terminology used here gives reference to those who were put in charge of young boys and the boys were in effect not allowed to even put a step out of the house without permission. By faith we are no longer under the supervision of a schoolmaster, we are now as verse 26 tells us, sons of Elohim through faith in Messiah יהושע, for we who have been baptised into Messiah have clothed ourselves with Him, and we are therefore heirs according to the promise.
Chapter 4:4 tells us that when the time had fully come – יהושע was born ‘under law’ to redeem those ‘under law’, that we might receive the full rights as sons!!! Because we are sons, Elohim sent the Spirit of יהושע into our hearts and we are no longer slaves but sons. What does Scriptures say – He has written His renewed covenant on our hearts – His Torah is now written on our hearts and is in our mouths that we may obey Him.
Galatians – ‘the’ is not used in the first law, but is used in the second!
“Say to me, you who wish to be under Torah, do you not hear the Torah?”
In other words – you who want to be under legalism, under all these yokes of man – do you not know what the Law or rather the Torah says? – You are not saved by observing law – saved by Grace through faith
Galatians 5:4 – there is no ‘the’ in the original text:
“You who are declared right by Torah have severed yourselves from Messiah, you have fallen from favour.”
5:6 tells us that the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love! What is love for Elohim? That you obey His commands – that you obey His Torah! We obey His Torah out of love because we are saved, not to get saved!
Sha’ul carries on and tells us that the entire law (The Torah – not with mans laws included!) is summed up in a single command – love your neighbour as yourself – where he was in act referencing the Torah from Wayyiqra/Leviticus 19:18!!! He was addressing the heart of what was going on – those agitators were trying to impose stuff on the new converts that was never to be imposed on them – they should have loved them Elohim’s way!
We are led by the Spirit. says that if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law (notice no ‘the’)
Galatians 6:2 (quoted above) – we fulfil the law as we carry each others burdens – LOVE
These are just some of the verses that when translated correctly brings greater clarity as to what Sha’ul is saying. Sha’ul was a great teacher of the Torah of Elohim, and he stood against that yoke that man had added to the Torah of Elohim. He himself was one of those who persecuted early believers when he embraced the ‘whole law’ including man’s additions until יהושע met him and stripped away the lies and traditions of men that was putting a burden on peoples shoulders that was too hard to carry. יהושע says – those who are heavy laden should come to him and take His yoke – His Torah, His instructions for His yoke is easy. May we be a people who do not simply throw off יהזשע's yoke in error by turning grace into lawlessness, but rather take up His yoke and so be led by His Spirit as true sons of Elohim.
Galatians is really a great letter and a great empowering letter that helps us see how Sha’ul loved the Torah and stood against anything that was added or taken away. May we too do the same as we live for יהוה in obedience to His Word which stands forever!