Introducing the Biblical Appointments – January 2018 OIM News


Update

January 2018

For a variety of reasons, the joyful anticipation for wonderful things to continue in the coming year is riding high! In fact, one way to view the year 2018, from an ancient perspective, is how the Hebrew word chai or life in gematria adds up to the number 18. And if the number two can represent a double blessing, then 2018 has the potential to be an awesome year for those pursuing the Holy One of Israel. Twenty Chai! Mazel Tov!

Later this year, the worldwide Jewish community and many Believers in Israel’s Messiah all over the world will celebrate and recognize the seventieth anniversary of the reconstitution and independence of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, which just happens to be the 5th of Iyar in the Hebrew year of 5708. Now this year on April 19, Yom HaAtzmaut (Independence Day) will be in the Hebrew year 5778. In addition, Independence Day immediately follows Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day in remembrance of Israelis lost to defend their country, commemorated on the 4th of Iyar or April 18th this year.

Biblically speaking, there has always been some special significance to the number seventy or ten times seven. In the Torah, it was the seventy elders who were allowed to approach the Holy One and witness His presence on pavement of sapphire, after the blood anointing of the covenant:

“Then Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins and the other half he poured out against the altar. He took the Scroll of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. Again they said, ‘All that ADONAI has spoken, we will do and obey.’ Then Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant, which ADONAI has cut with you, in agreement with all these words.’ Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up. They saw the God of Israel, and under His feet was something like a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the very heavens” (Exodus 24:6-10, TLV).

In addition, seventy elders received the same Spirit given to Moses, in order to minister through prophecy to the people of Israel:

“So Moses went out and told the people ADONAI’s words. He gathered 70 of the elders of the people and had them stand around the Tent. ADONAI descended in the cloud and spoke with him. He took some of the Ruach that was on him and placed it on each of the 70 elders. It so happened that when the Ruach first rested on them, they prophesied—but never again” (Numbers 11:24-25, TLV).

Frequently in Jewish and Rabbinical thought, it is concluded that the number of nations created by the Almighty correspond to the seventy people who migrated with Jacob down to Egypt. The sons of Jacob offered sacrifices atonement by the seventy shekels (Numbers 7):

“Your fathers went down to Egypt with 70 persons, and now ADONAI your God has made you like the stars of the heavens in number” (Deuteronomy 10:22, TLV).

Moving through time, one remembers Jeremiah’s prophecy about the seventy year punishment of the Southern Kingdom, for not observing the Sabbath rest after settling in the Promised Land. But Jeremiah also gives an excellent word that foreshadows the blessings which come with the restoration of Israel to the territory promised to Abraham and his descendants:

“For thus says ADONAI: ‘After 70 years for Babylon are complete, I will visit you, and fulfill My good word toward you—to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have in mind for you,’ declares ADONAI, ‘plans for shalom and not calamity—to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call on Me, and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me, when you will search for Me with all your heart’” (Jeremiah 29:10-13, TLV).

A parallel prophecy is found in Zechariah 1, which further describes the Holy One’s inherent love for Jerusalem and Zion, and that in His time, the restoration of Israel will be completed:

“Then the angel of ADONAI answered and said, ADONAI-Tzva’ot, how long will You withhold compassion on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah with whom You have been angry for 70 years?’ ADONAI answered the angel who was speaking to me with pleasant, comforting words. Then the angel speaking to me said, ‘Cry out saying, thus says ADONAI-Tzva’ot, ‘I am exceedingly zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion and I am infuriated with the haughty nations. I was a little angry with them, but they furthered their own calamity.’ ‘Therefore,’ thus says ADONAI, ‘I will return to Jerusalem with compassion. My House will be built there,’ declares ADONAI-Tzva’ot ‘and a measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem.’ Again cry out, saying, thus says ADONAI-Tzva’ot, ‘My cities will again overflow with prosperity and ADONAI will again comfort Zion and will again choose Jerusalem’” (Zechariah 1:12-17, TLV).

Finally in Apostolic era, the Messiah Yeshua Himself chooses seventy people to go two by two to proclaim the good news. With the warnings about potential challenges, the good report was that as the laborers went forth via the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the power of the gospel of the Kingdom ruled over those who demonically opposed the declarations:

“Now after these things, the Lord assigned seventy others and sent them out by twos before Him into every town and place where He Himself was about to go. And He was telling them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest. Go forth! Look, I am sending you as lambs in the midst of wolves’…Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Master, even the demons submit to us in Your name!’” (Luke 10:1-3, 17, TLV).

Therefore in this seventieth anniversary year of the rebirth of Israel, it is my prayer that many laborers will be inspired to go forth and faithfully proclaim the good news of eternal life provided by the atoning death of Yeshua. In so doing, as the harvest of souls abounds, may a revival of youth break forth around the world this year of life (chai), as it did fifty years ago following the liberation and recapture of Jerusalem on June 7, 1967 during Six Day War. In so doing, may we all witness the Lord’s power once again, as His love goes forth from Zion to the nations of the world:

ADONAI will extend your mighty rod from Zion: ‘Rule in the midst of your enemies.’ Your people will be a freewill offering in a day of your power. In holy splendors, from dawn’s womb, yours is the dew of your youth” (Psalm 110:2-3, TLV).

We want to especially thank those of you who have faithfully supported our efforts over the years! We continue to need your financial support in order to dedicate the time and energy required to continue in the work that the Lord has assigned us. We particularly need many of you to sign up for a regular monthly contribution via PayPal at www.outreachisrael.net.

Blessings in 2018,

Mark Huey


TOWARD 2020

We are two years away from 2020, and with it the third decade of the Twenty-First Century. I can vividly recall just a mere nine years ago, as 2010 was approaching, how I believed that the second decade of the Twenty-First Century was going to be a substantial period of change and development for our emerging Messianic movement. What issues and topics which had seldom been discussed, were now going to come into the open? What things would take place, which would be positively used by the Lord to help us become a Messianic force for righteousness and good in the Earth?

Have some good things taken place in the 2010s? Absolutely. For myself, I have a more focused life of ministry service than I once did. The ease of technology has enabled me to work at a much faster pace, and reach a diverse number of people with important messages more efficiently. I get to multi-task with multiple computers in my office: one for writing and one for editing audio and video. I have a nice routine throughout the week that gives my life structure, and family and friends whom I love, and who lift me up when I have personal distresses and concerns.

I think for some of us, 2017 has closed with a mixture of feelings. For a number of you 2017 was a very good year. While the American political scene is starkly divided, the president you want is in the White House, the economy is turning around, and certainly the religious freedoms of Believers are in tact. For some of you, 2017 was a year you would like to forget. Traumas and hardships are a part of human life. We learn from them, but we always like to be as far away from them as possible. For me, 2017 was a mixture of good things, not so good things, unexpected things, and even a few surprises.

There were some ministry projects that I set out to complete in 2017, which were completed. The massive volume Salvation on the Line, Volume I was released, covering passages in the Gospels and Acts, addressing the Divinity of Yeshua. Salvation on the Line, Volume II, covering the rest of the Divinity passages in the Apostolic Scriptures, was completed at the end of the year, now in post-production. Originally unforeseen was the release of The New Testament Validates Torah MAXIMUM EDITION, transplanting many things from our Practical Messianic commentary series. Planned, but doubtlessly accelerated, was the release of the Messianic Apologetics app for iPhone and Android.

The biggest thing which was completely unexpected for me, was the crash experienced on messianicapologetics.net at the end of July, and the subsequent upgrade and reconstruction of the Messianic Apologetics website. This involved not only reintegration of critical material, but me making significant efforts of seeing that a number of Bible studies from the 2000s were re-recorded, that most of our articles and FAQ entries now have associated audio podcasts, and that we indeed take advantage of new podcast channels on iTunes and Google Play. As 2017 closed, Messianic Apologetics launched a new podcast routine, which each day touching on a particular theme:

Monday: the Nature of Yeshua
Tuesday: The New Testament Validates Torah MAXIMUM EDITION
Wednesday: video podcast or blog or new FAQ entry
Thursday: Kosher
Friday: Sabbath or Biblical Holidays

2018 does bring with it a number of new writing projects, some of which have been on the table for a while. These include After the Afterlife which will deal with the future resurrection, the reflective commentary Bible Messages for the Practical Messianic, and progress needing to be made on the Messianic Circumcision Helper, among others. Since being given the primary responsibility for Outreach Israel News in 2017, I have been writing articles to later be used in a workbook called The Messianic Walk. Unlike our ministry’s original workbook Hebraic Roots: An Introductory Study, which was mainly produced for small non-Jewish groups investigating the Messianic movement—The Messianic Walk is going to be a direct result of me teaching the New Foundations-New Members class at my local congregation. It will be dealing with the Messianic mission of Jewish outreach, evangelism, Israel solidarity, and the unique dimensions present when Jewish and non-Jewish Believers come together in congregational settings.

Outreach Israel Ministries and Messianic Apologetics have an important job to do in this hour! While we are very economical and do many things ourselves, we still have many legitimate expenses and financial needs. This 2018, we need many of you to step up and to join with us as regular, monthly contributors. Your modest, monthly donation of $50 or $100, is used very wisely and reasonably. It certainly equips us to continue the daily and weekly tasks of providing sound teaching to the people of today’s Messianic community!

J.K. McKee,
editor Messianic Apologetics


Introducing the Biblical Appointments

by J.K. McKee

Why are holidays important?[1] A holiday, as we call it in English, is defined by The American Heritage Dictionary as “A day on which custom or the law dictates a halt to ordinary business to commemorate or celebrate a particular event.” Another definition is very simply, “A holy day,” meaning a day set aside to remember something religious.[2] The holidays that we find in the Holy Scriptures give us a great opportunity as Believers to commemorate Biblical history and the work of our Messiah.

In the opening verses of Leviticus 23, we are told, “The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, “the LORD’s appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations—My appointed times are these”’” (vs. 1-2, NASU). The Hebrew word for “appointed time” or “appointed festival” (ATS) is moed, and its plural form is moedim. It has a variety of meanings, including: “appointed time, place, meeting,” and “sacred season,” “set feast,” or “appointed season” (BDB).[3] It is to be a special time between God’s people and Him. The ArtScroll Chumash tells us,

“…Moadim are the days which stand out from the other days of the year. They summon us from our everyday life to halt and to dedicate all our spiritual activities to them….The Moadim interrupt the ordinary activities of our life and give us the spirit, power, and consecration for the future by revivifying those ideals upon which our whole life is based, or they eradicate such evil consequences of past activity as are deadly to body and spirit and thus restore us to lost purity and the hope of blessing.”[4]

It is important that the “Tent of Meeting,” where Moses and Aaron and the elders of Israel met the Lord in the wilderness, is called the ohel moed. It could be understood as the “Tent of Appointment.” Numbers 20:6 says, “Then Moses and Aaron came in from the presence of the assembly to the doorway of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to them.” Using this as a frame of reference, if we truly want the glory of God to appear before us, then the importance of meeting Him when He wants cannot be overstated.

The term for “convocation” (Leviticus 23:1-2), also often used to describe the appointed times, is the Hebrew miqra. It specifically means “convocation, convoking, reading,” in reference to a “religious gathering on Sabbath and certain sacred days” (BDB).[5] It is derived from the verb qara, to “call, cry, utter a loud sound,” “make proclamation,” and “summon” (BDB).[6] The appointed times call us together to rejoice in the Lord, focusing on Him, and make mention to one another of the work that He has done for us.

Many Messianic Believers, especially those who place a high prophetic emphasis on the pattern of the Biblical appointments, define the festivals of the Lord as rehearsals. Certainly, when we celebrate the Biblical holidays we not only remember the historical events in the life of Ancient Israel such as the Passover and Exodus, or the giving of the Ten Commandments, but we also recognize the prophetic fulfillment, both past and future, of Messiah Yeshua in them (Colossians 2:17). We essentially “rehearse” what is to come, in preparation for the Messiah’s return, and we learn important lessons about God’s ongoing plan of salvation history.

Another Hebrew term that is often used in Scripture to describe the Biblical feasts is chag, which AMG defines as “a feast, a festival.”[7] It is derived from the verb chagag, “to hold a feast, a pilgrim feast, to celebrate a holy day…It is usually used in the context of rejoicing and describes festive attitudes and actions, often while on the way to worship or when celebrating a feast.”[8] One of the clear elements of the appointed times is celebration. The moedim are to be times of great rejoicing in the Lord.

The Biblical holidays as outlined in Leviticus 23 may be divided up into three general seasons: Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Thus, when someone refers to Passover, he or she may not just be referring to Passover, but also the Festival of Unleavened Bread that occurs immediately thereafter. The listing below provides a brief reference of each of the Biblical holidays in Leviticus 23, and various extra-Torah and extra-Biblical celebrations that are beneficial and edifying to the Body of Messiah.

The Sabbath

Shabbat: Shabbat is the first appointed time given, although there are those who do not reckon it among the moedim, instead considering it to be its own unique institution.

Shabbat (or Shabbos in the Ashkenazic pronunciation) is the seventh-day Sabbath. Remembering the Sabbath is considered to be a sign of holiness (Exodus 31:16), where no work is conducted. The institution of the Sabbath is inclusive to all strata of society, including animals (Exodus 20:8-11), and welcomes in strangers and foreigners from outside the community of Israel (Isaiah 56:6-7). Shabbat is regarded as a memorial of both the Creation (Genesis 2:3) as well as the Exodus (Deuteronomy 5:15). Shabbat is a time where there is to be no buying or selling (Nehemiah 13:15), kindling of a fire (Exodus 35:3)—but most especially be a time of delighting in the Lord (Isaiah 58:13-14).

Yeshua the Messiah said that “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27, NRSV), indicating how its rest is open for all people. However, as Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:7-8), rather than Shabbat being legalistically burdensome through undue regulations, Yeshua emphasized that performing acts of goodness were permitted on the Sabbath (Matthew 12:1-5, 9-11; Luke 13:15).

The weekly Sabbath is a holy convocation (Leviticus 23:3), and by Second Temple times was often focused around synagogue worship and study. Shabbat is to be a weekly outward sign that is to distinguish God’s people as they rest from all their work sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday evening. Messianic congregations usually hold their weekly worship and teaching services on either Friday evening or Saturday morning, often attended with either a fellowship meal (or oneg) and other activities. The Sabbath is often closed with a traditional service known as Havdalah, preparing those who kept it for the next working week. Shabbat will be observed by the entire world in the future Millennium (Isaiah 66:23).

The Spring Holidays

Pesach: Pesach or Passover commemorates God’s deliverance of the Ancient Israelites from slavery and His subsequent judgment on the Egyptians (Leviticus 23:5-8). The prime element of Passover is the lamb (Exodus 12:3, 6-7), and how the blood of the lamb protected the Israelites from the death of the firstborn (Exodus 12:12-13, 29-33). The account of the Passover and Ancient Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian servitude, is a theme which is carried on throughout the Holy Scriptures

Customary observance of the Passover in Jewish tradition extending back to Second Temple times focuses one’s attention on the seder meal, a time of retelling the Passover story in the home, by incorporating the elements of unleavened bread, green herbs, bitter herbs, and charoset. Those involved in the seder will follow an haggadah, a basic order of service, which incorporates four cups of wine. The seder plate will be the centerpiece of the Passover evening, where the different elements of the meal will be represented. Throughout the seder meal, green herbs will be dipped into saltwater, remembering the bitterness of Israel’s slavery, charoset represents the mortar used by the slaves to build for the Egyptians, and unleavened bread reminds one of the hasty departure the Israelites had to make from Egypt.

For Believers in Israel’s Messiah, Yeshua, He is the Passover Lamb who was sacrificed for our sins (1 Corinthians 5:7; John 1:29). Passover and the Exodus story are vital to the understanding of one’s salvation! Yeshua’s sacrifice at Golgotha (Calvary) as our Passover Lamb, delivers us from slavery to sin and into eternal life in Him. Yeshua’s Last Supper held with His Disciples (Matthew 26:17-35; Mark 14:1-31; Luke 22:1-23; John 13:1-20), was actually a Passover seder meal. The plagues issued by the God of Israel upon Egypt, not only serve as clear indicators of the judgments of the One True God over the false gods of Egypt—but also speak to the judgments of the Book of Revelation. The Pharaoh of Egypt, is certainly representative of the future antimessiah/antichrist.

Chag HaMatzah: Chag HaMatzah is the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:5-6). It occurs for one week following Passover, in remembrance of the Ancient Israelites leaving Egypt and having to eat matzah or unleavened bread, the bread of haste (Exodus 12:39). Items without leavening or yeast are to be eaten during this time. Since matzah is without leaven, for Believers in Yeshua it represents His sinless nature for us and how we must remove the sin from our lives (1 Corinthians 5:8; Galatians 5:9). Since Unleavened Bread occurs in conjunction with Passover, it is often not distinguished as a separate holiday (see Scripture references for Pesach).

Shavuot: Shavuot (or Shavuos in the Ashkenazic pronunciation) or the Feast of Weeks is more commonly called Pentecost, a Greek-derived name meaning “fiftieth” (Grk. pentēkostē). The Feast of Weeks was originally established as an agricultural festival where the first of the wheat harvest would be presented to God as an offering (Leviticus 23:15-21). Shavuot is also the time when it is traditionally believed that the Torah was given to Moses on Mount Sinai. Following the giving of the Torah, the Ancient Israelites worshipped the golden calf and Moses destroyed the two tablets of the Ten Commandments (cf. Exodus 19-33). Shavuot or Pentecost is the traditional time when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Believers at the Upper Room in Jerusalem following Yeshua’s ascension into Heaven (Acts 2:1-4). Messianic people can often associate Shavuot with the formal giving of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27), concurrent with the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai 1,300 (or 1,500) years earlier.

The Fall Holidays

Yom Teruah: Yom Teruah is the Day of Blowing, as specified in the Torah (Leviticus 23:23-25). It is remembered as Rosh HaShanah or the Civil New Year in Judaism today, although it is hardly remembered as a January 1 new year. Yom Teruah or Rosh HaShanah was established to be a holy convocation celebrated by the blowing of trumpets, and involves special blowings of the shofar or ram’s horn. This convocation is intended to prepare the people for the ten Days of Awe before Yom Kippur, where unresolved conflicts between others in the community are repented of. Rosh HaShanah has special significance to us as Believers in the Messiah as we will be caught up in the air to meet Him at the blast of the trumpet at His Second Coming (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Yom Kippur: Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:26-32). In the past, this was the only time when the high priest was permitted to enter into the Holy of Holies and spread the sacrificial blood upon the Ark of the Covenant (Leviticus 16:2; cf. Hebrews 9:3-5). The releasing of the scapegoat is also featured prominently on Yom Kippur (Leviticus 16:5-9, 10, 21-22). On the Day of Atonement we are commanded to afflict ourselves by fasting (cf. Acts 27:9), and reflect on our sin. Within the Messianic community, while the final atonement for sin has been offered by Yeshua the Messiah, Yom Kippur is still a time of prayer and intercession, resolving corporate conflicts and sins, and entreating for the salvation of the Jewish people and the world. Yom Kippur has special prophetic significance to us who know Yeshua, because it is likely that a future Yom Kippur will be when the Day of the Lord occurs, when His judgment is poured out upon humanity at the Battle of Armageddon.

Sukkot: Sukkot (or Succos in the Ashkenazic pronunciation) is the Feast of Tabernacles, also called the Feast of Booths. The Israelites were to dwell in a temporary house known as a sukkah, or a hut covered by leafy branches for seven days (Leviticus 23:33-44; Numbers 29:12). The Feast of Tabernacles commemorates the Ancient Israelites’ journey in the wilderness and how God wanted earnestly to tabernacle or dwell with them. It involves the waving of branches (Leviticus 23:40), and is to be a family affair (Deuteronomy 16). Many think that the American holiday of Thanksgiving has its roots in the Feast of Tabernacles. Sukkot is also a likely time when Yeshua the Messiah was born (John 1:14), and it will be celebrated by all after His return. Tabernacles will be a critical holiday for all the nations to celebrate during the Millennium (Zechariah 14:1-21).

Shemini Atzeret: Shemini Atzeret (or Shemini Atzeres in the Ashkenazic pronunciation) or the Eighth Day of Assembly is often overlooked as its own separate holiday, coming after the seven days of Sukkot (Leviticus 23:36b-37a). Shemini Atzeret represents the desire of our Heavenly Father to stay with us for one more day, as we reflect back on the tabernacling during Sukkot. It symbolizes how we will live with Him forever in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:3-4).

Other Holidays In and Out of the Bible

Chanukah: Chanukah (or Channukah, Hanukah, Hanukkah, etc.) or the Feast of Dedication is an eight day holiday commemorating the work of the Maccabees and their defeat over the Syrian Greeks in 165 B.C.E. The Syrian Greeks or Seluecids had conquered the Land of Israel and desecrated the Temple (cf. Daniel 8:21-25), sacrificing a pig and erecting an altar to the god Zeus in it. It was illegal on the threat of death for the Jewish people to circumcise their sons, observe the Sabbath, observe the Torah-prescribed festivals, and eat kosher food. The Syrian Greeks promoted forced assimilation of the Jewish people to Hellenistic paganism. Chanukah celebrates how the Maccabean resistance fought off the Seleucids, restoring Jewish independence, and how the Temple was rededicated (1&2 Maccabees in the Apocrypha). There was only enough consecrated oil to light the candelabra or menorah in the Temple for one day, but instead it lasted for eight days (b.Shabbat 12a in the Talmud). Yeshua the Messiah is witnessed to remember Chanukah, most often appearing in English Bibles as “the Feast of the Dedication” (John 10:22, NASU).

Purim: Purim or the Feast of Lots commemorates the story of Esther, the events of which occur after the Persian Empire conquers the Babylonian Empire, which has a large population of Jews dispersed from the Land of Israel. Purim celebrates the defeat of the evil Haman, who had planned to kill all the Jews, and how God’s sovereignty and protecting hand prevailed through the Jewess Esther, wife of the Persian emperor, and her cousin Mordechai. The name Purim comes from the pur or lot that was to be cast to determine when the mass executions were to take place (Esther 3:13). Frequently in the Jewish community, Purim is a time when a customary retelling of the story of Esther is delivered in dramatic form, a tradition which is carried out to various degrees in the Messianic movement as well.

Tishah b’Av: Tishah b’Av or the Ninth of Av is an extra-Biblical fast day when the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem is remembered. Historically, the Ninth of Av has also been a day when terrible, tragic events have occurred to the Jewish people, such as their eviction from Spain in 1492. It has been a time to remember the past and terrible events like the Crusades or the Holocaust.

Simchat Torah: Simchat Torah (or Simchas Torah) or Joy of the Torah occurs on the same day as Shemini Atzeret. It was added by the Jewish Rabbis to celebrate the ending of the reading of the yearly Torah cycle, and to rejoice in the forthcoming reading of the next Torah cycle.

Modern-Day Israeli Holidays

Yom HaShoah: Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Memorial Day is when the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust are formally remembered. It specifically commemorates the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Yom HaZikaron: Yom HaZikaron or Israel’s Remembrance Day commemorates the war heroes of the State of Israel, those who have fought and died for the preservation of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

Yom HaAtzmaut: Yom HaAtzmaut is Israel Independence Day when the State of Israel was established as an independent country in 1948. The Zionist cause and early pioneers of the State of Israel are remembered, as are those who have fought and died to maintain Israel’s freedom and independence.

Yom Yerushalayim: Yom Yerushalayim or Jerusalem Day commemorates the recapturing of the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War.


NOTES

[1] This has been adapted from a previous edition, appearing in J.K. McKee, Introduction to Things Messianic (Kissimmee, FL: TNN Press, 2009).

[2] William Morris, ed., The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (New York: American Heritage Publishing, 1969), 628.

[3] Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), 417.

[4] Nosson Scherman, ed., et. al., The ArtScroll Chumash, Stone Edition, 5th ed. (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2000), 682.

[5] BDB, 896.

[6] Ibid., 895.

[7] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, eds., The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003), 312.

[8] Ibid., 313.

Remembering Biblical and Jewish Holidays as a Messianic Believer – December 2017 OIM News


Update

December 2017

As a student of world history, coupled with years of Bible study, significant fifty-year jubilee (Leviticus 25:10-13), seventy-year, and/or centennial anniversaries, regarding Israel and particular Jerusalem, can be a compelling reminder that the Holy One is ultimately orchestrating, or at the very least, allowing the affairs of humanity to proceed with His promises fulfilled. In a unique way, keen observers can detect the handiwork of the Almighty, as distinctive mileposts litter the dusty and bloodied trails of mankind’s steps and missteps down through the annals of time. Such is the case when one revisits the noteworthy actions that have taken place over the millennia regarding the place on Earth where God said He would place His name:

“But when you cross over the Jordan and settle in the land that ADONAI your God enables you to inherit, and He gives you rest from all your enemies around you, you will dwell in safety. Then the place ADONAI your God chooses to make His Name dwell, there you are to bring all that I command you—your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes, the offering of your hand, and all your finest vow offerings that you vow to ADONAI” (Deuteronomy 12:10-11, TLV).

“Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I did not choose a city out of all the tribes of Israel in which to build a House that My Name might be there. Nor did I choose any man to be a leader over My people Israel. But I have chosen Jerusalem that My Name would abide there and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel” (2 Chronicles 6:5-6, TLV).

For centuries, many faithful followers of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have viewed world affairs through a prism that reflects the uniqueness of Israel’s prophesied destiny, and Jerusalem’s exclusive claim to be where the Creator God has placed His Name on the globe He created. Hence, it did not escape our attention this past Summer when we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of Jerusalem on June 7, 1967 from the Jordanians, as the Six Day War was commemorated. In fact, because this day was so significant to the State of Israel, the Israelis have an annual state recognized holiday and celebration called Yom Yerushalayim on the 28th of Iyyar.

In addition, this past month, on November 2, the one-hundredth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration was also remembered. Shortly thereafter, a century ago, during the final year of World War I, British General Edmund Allenby began the assault against the Ottoman Turks to capture Jerusalem. The Battle for Jerusalem began on November 17, 1917 and ended with Allenby leading his troops into Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate on December 11, 1917. Thus this month it has been 100 years (or two jubilees) since these historic events took place. Might this be another one of the signposts regarding Israel and Jerusalem that God is making evident to Biblically astute observers?

Providentially, this month, the President of the United States has just recognized that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, with plans to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the next few years. This action in and of itself is going to have untold consequences, perhaps negative and positive. However, there has been a recognizable pattern down through the centuries, when a country or people group blesses the Jewish people. Since 1948 (seventy years ago this coming May 12, 2018) when the State of Israel was reconstituted as a sovereign nation on the land promised to Abraham and his heirs, the U.S. has been its strongest and most outspoken supporter. As a result, God’s discernable blessings have flowed and ebbed, contingent upon how America responds to Israel’s needs, as noted in the following passage from Genesis:

“Then ADONAI said to Abram, ‘Get going out from your land, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. My heart’s desire is to make you into a great nation, to bless you, to make your name great so that you may be a blessing. My desire is to bless those who bless you, but whoever curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3, TLV).

We are thankful that the current leaders of our country are making declarative statements to the other nations of the world that at the very least, they are cognizant of what the Holy Scriptures state and want to support the right of the Jewish people to maintain their existence in the Land promised to them millennia ago. As a result, I believe the promised blessings to our country will be obvious to all with the eyes to see and the ears to hear. May we all pray to that end!

This month continues our ongoing series of articles on The Messianic Walk. J.K. McKee has written an importance piece, entitled, “Remembering Biblical and Jewish Holidays as a Messianic Believer.” It goes through the weekly and annual cycle of the appointed times, how they are often approached by Jewish Believers who have come to faith in Israel’s Messiah, and by non-Jewish Believers called into the Messianic movement and embracing their Hebraic and Jewish Roots. You will be blessed, as we discuss both our family’s experience, from an evangelical Protestant background, in becoming Messianic—but also our experience in serving in congregational leadership, in common cause and unity with our Jewish brothers and sisters in Yeshua.

We want to especially thank those of you who have faithfully supported our efforts over the years! We continue to need your financial support in order to dedicate the time and energy required to continue in the work that the Lord has assigned us. We particularly need many of you to sign up for a regular monthly contribution via PayPal at www.outreachisrael.net. We thank you for your 2017 year-end giving!

Finally, as we approach Chanukah this month, we want you to take advantage of our ministry’s Messianic Winter Holiday Helper publication, giving copies of this book to family and friends and your home congregational libraries. Each of us needs a more complete understanding of Winter holiday commemorations—especially so we can alleviate unnecessary tensions with those who are doing some less-than-Biblical things. Chag Sameach Chanukah!

Blessings, Mark Huey


Remembering Biblical and Jewish Holidays as a Messianic Believer

by J.K. McKee

Each of us tends to be a person of habit, and there are ongoing daily, weekly, and annual cycles which tend to give focus and meaning to our lives. Certain days appear on the calendar which have importance to us. We may look forward on a certain day each week, to eat at a particular restaurant having a special. We may look forward to the weekend, to simply relax and not work. We may look forward to a birthday, an anniversary, or a day when something extremely important took place in our individual or family’s lives.

People in today’s Messianic movement have a different life cycle, than those many others who claim faith in Israel’s Messiah. While we have our birthdays and anniversaries like other people—the Jewish and non-Jewish Believers who compose today’s Messianic community, follow a different cycle throughout the week and throughout the year. For many Jewish Believers in Yeshua, being a part of the Messianic movement has been a significant lifeline, especially given the past history of many Jewish Believers who had become part of Christianity. Only until the past century or so, it was normative for Jewish Believers to assimilate into non-Jewish Christianity, its religious holidays, its customs, and for the children of Jewish Believers to quickly forget about their Jewish heritage. After all, it was thought that being Jewish and receiving Jesus meant that one became a Christian and stopped being a Jew. Today, with the Messianic Jewish movement, this is thankfully no longer the case. Not only it is a very Jewish thing to believe in Yeshua as Israel’s Messiah—but it is entirely acceptable to do Jewish things like remembering Shabbat, the festivals of the Torah, and the historical commemorations of the Jewish people.

A significant number of the non-Jewish Believers, whom God has specially called into the Messianic movement at this point in time, have often been led by Him to remember Yeshua in the Biblical feasts. A passage like Colossians 2:17, which speaks of how the appointed times have shadows of the substance of the Messiah, and how various Torah instructions portray elements of His redemptive work, really speak to the hearts and minds of non-Jewish Believers. These are people who want to live more like Yeshua and His Disciples, recognizing themselves as “fellow-citizens with God’s people and members of God’s family” (Ephesians 2:19, CJB/CJSB). As followers of Israel’s God and Israel’s Messiah, and as a part of the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-13), what God has specified for His people and what He has done in the history of Israel, bears supernatural importance.

What does it mean for today’s Messianic people to regularly remember the Biblical appointed times and holidays in Scripture, as well as various commemorations from Jewish history and tradition? Many Jewish Believers see a magnanimous fulfillment of these things, wondering how their ancestors and family members continue to miss the Messiah. Many non-Jewish Believers feel that they had been robbed from past spiritual experiences, which did not include the appointed times of Leviticus 23 and other remembrances, and they can run into significant conflicts with their family and friends over why they are not necessarily observing previous engagements any more.

The Weekly Shabbat

For many Jewish homes, especially more religiously observant ones, the work week culminates in the remembrance of the weekly Sabbath or Shabbat. The Erev Shabbat family dinner is a huge centerpiece in the Jewish community, so much so that many non-religious Jews still think it is important to light candles, break challah, recite blessings, sing songs, and gather around the table together. For those who are followers of Israel’s God, the Erev Shabbat meal is important for maintaining the relationship between not only family members, but also with the larger Jewish community and with its God. This of course is carried over into the actual Sabbath day, frequently with morning services held at one’s local synagogue or temple, including traditional liturgy, Hebrew canting from the Torah, and a message that is typically delivered from the weekly Torah portion.

The Messianic Jewish Shabbat experience, while varied, does rightly incorporate a great number of the edifying traditions witnessed in the Synagogue. It is important that families get together once a week, and share a meal. It is vital that we all come together corporately in worship. And as Messianic Jews remember traditional prayers and customs, sometimes from their own childhood—Yeshua the Messiah being the center of the Shabbat rest, and identifying a number of the Jewish Sabbath traditions originating during Second Temple times, brings great joy and elation to them.

Non-Jewish Believers in the Messianic movement, observing Shabbat, is frequently a sight to behold. Many eagerly embrace Shabbat and its theme of rest—because they know that all human beings need rest! Admittedly for some, attending Shabbat services is little more than going to “Saturday church.” Yet, for many others, their introduction to Shabbat may have begun when a Messianic Jewish friend invited them into their homes for an Erev Shabbat dinner, and then they got hooked. Others, per the theological traditions of their Protestant heritage, may have looked at Sunday as a proper Sabbath day, including a prohibition on conducting in commerce, but appreciate that they now have embraced Shabbat with the fullness and richness that is seen in Judaism.

The Fall High Holidays

Jewish people of generally all varieties, take some notice of the high holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. For the observant, the time period leading up to and around these days is most vital, to make sure that any sins or errors of the previous year, and faults committed against others, are resolved. Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are times, for religious Jews, where they believe that God is indeed looking at their hearts, and actively determining where they stand before Him. It is a very serious time for prayer, contemplation, and entreating the Lord for His mercy. Jewish people, who are nominally or non-religious, still tend to make an effort to attend some synagogue service for one or both holidays.

People in the Messianic community, because of affirming Yeshua of Nazareth as the prophesied Redeemer of Israel—while surely admiring customary Jewish approaches to Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur—have a much different orientation toward these two high holidays, precisely because we believe that He has been sacrificed for our sins. While it is useful and appropriate that we all try to make amends for the errors we have committed toward our neighbors, and come in corporate confession and repentance as congregations and assemblies—we do not sit in a service, with some angst hanging over us about our sins not being fully taken care of. Instead, we come together in praise of what the Lord has done for us, and we entreat Him for the salvation of Israel and the world. This is especially appropriate, given how many conclude that on a future Feast of Trumpets and Day of Atonement will be significant events to take place in association with the return of the Messiah to Planet Earth, and the defeat of His enemies.

Following the high holidays of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur is the eight-day Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot. Traditionally in the Diaspora Jewish community, a sukkah or tabernacle is constructed in one’s back yard or at one’s synagogue, where families will often spend time for meals, and invite their friends for socializing. This is also the frequent way Sukkot is observed in the Diaspora Messianic Jewish community, although congregations can make Sukkot a time where there are special teachings or special functions to attract a larger audience. In North America, at least, the Feast of Tabernacles does tend to take place within the Fall, corresponding to various harvest themed activities that one may encounter in the local community.

The Fall holidays of the Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles tend to be a major season when Messianic Jewish congregations make a considerable effort to reach out to the larger Jewish community with the good news. Messianic Jewish congregations often advertise to the Jewish people in their city—especially those who may only tend to visit a synagogue once or twice a year—that their congregation not only has Rosh HaShanah or Yom Kippur services, but that they are free! In many Jewish synagogues, members have to actually pay for their seats—yet Messianic congregations have been especially set up for Jewish non-Believers to come, visit, and be presented with the good news of Israel’s Messiah.

Non-Jewish Believers, whom God has directed into the Messianic movement, tend to have different approaches, or even reactions, to the Fall holidays. Many simply appreciate the reverence, traditional prayers and liturgy, and overall seriousness of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. Focusing on one’s individual and corporate standing before God and others is actually therapeutic. And certainly, praying that the Jewish people come to faith in Yeshua, and that the world can experience shalom, is also most vital. At the same time, just as Messianic congregations can have a “flood” of Jewish visitors for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, there can also be many Christian visitors. But, rather than focus on some of the holy themes and prayers of these high holidays, these people tend to rather be focused on being present for what they think might be the season for “the rapture.” Unfortunately, their interest is not so much on entreating the Lord for His mercy toward the unsaved, and His concern that His people be accomplishing His Kingdom purposes.

Most Messianic Jewish congregations holding Sukkot activities do something similar to what is witnessed in the mainstream Synagogue. They are likely to have a sukkah on the congregational property, and they may have some event or major gathering open to the public—which more than anything else gives the congregation significant exposure. A number of congregations and/or Messianic ministries will hold various week-long retreats at a rural campground. (More frequently than not, this is a feature of the independent Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement.) It can be witnessed that attendance at one’s Messianic congregation might be down, because people are off attending some Sukkot function. Regardless of how Sukkot is remembered by your local assembly, make sure that it is a welcoming time, where people notice the presence of the sukkah, they can fellowship, worship the Lord, and truly experience community.

The Winter Holidays

The Winter holiday season is frequently a very tense time of the year, for people within the broad Messianic movement. A definite feature of the Jewish experience, during the month of December, is remembering the holiday of Chanukah, the Feast of Dedication. The events involving Chanukah are mainly recorded in the Apocryphal Books of 1-2 Maccabees, as it involved the resistance of the Jewish people against the Seleucid Greeks—who wanted to see them give up their Torah way of life and assimilate into Greek polytheism—and the subsequent rededication of the Temple after their defeat. In much of the Jewish tradition, the festival of Chanukah is a time when families gather to light the menorah, they eat special foods (often fried), and it is a time to demonstrate good will and happiness toward one another, often with the giving of gifts.

Messianic Jewish congregations observing Chanukah, often transfer over much of the Synagogue communal experience, although as the menorah is lit, Yeshua the Messiah will be emphasized to be the Light of the Word. Messianic teachings during Chanukah do appreciably tend to focus more on the historical record of the Second Century B.C.E. Maccabean crisis, the Books of Maccabees, various prophecies of Daniel, and actually what can be learned from the Maccabees’ resistance not only to apostasy from the God of Israel—but how there are vital connections to be made to the end-times, the future rise of the beast, and how Believers in Yeshua need to resist apostasy. And, for our overall Biblical Studies, it does tend to be discussed how the First Century Jewish Believers were affected by the social fallout of the Maccabean crisis, as it did play a role in some of the tensions that erupted between the Jewish, Greek, and Roman Believers, as the good news spread out into the Mediterranean. Overall, Messianic Believers tend to learn new things about how relevant the story of Chanukah actually is for our contemporary lives as Messiah followers today.

Huge controversies can and do erupt during the month of December, regarding how Messianic people are to approach the Christian holiday of Christmas, on December 25. Many Messianic Jews simply do not see Christmas as something Jewish, they do not see it as something for them, but if Christians observe it, they are not going to oppose them. Many Messianic people, particularly intermarried couples often keep both Chanukah and Christmas. Many other Messianic people, oppose Christmas, although for different reasons and with different levels of opposition. Some of this may simply come from December 25 not being a specified holiday in the Bible, or established by the Apostles. Others see Christmas on December 25 as a clear result of syncretism practiced by Christians of the Second-Fourth Centuries, where pagan holidays were reinterpreted and “Christianized” with Biblical themes. Many see Christmas on December 25 as outright paganism, Christmas trees directly prohibited in Scripture (i.e., Jeremiah 10:2-5), and most Christians serving the Kingdom of Darkness. And, a few others, noting some early opposition to Christmas by a number of the Protestant Reformers, see Christmas on December 25 as a symbol of corrupt Roman popery. Those who hold to all of these positions are likely to be found at your local Messianic congregation during the month of December.

All of us should be mature enough as adults to recognize that during the month of December, due to all of the nativity scenes and different Christmas carols, that more people are going to be presented with hearing about Jesus and some form of the gospel, than at any other time during the year. In spite of many of the questionable practices and origins surrounding Christmas, God has brought people to Himself during this time of year. Yet Messianic people should also be wise enough to recognize that the Savior declared today during the month of December, is broadly not the Messiah of Israel, who is returning to reign over Planet Earth from Jerusalem—but is instead a universal Christ of tolerance (for human sin). While many sincere Christian people have honored God in ignorance on December 25, Christmas on December 25 is not a God-honoring activity. Still, Messianic Believers who may observe Chanukah, do not need to be odious to Christian people during this time, creating unnecessary scenes. Wishing “Happy Holidays” when being told “Merry Christmas,” is entirely legitimate.

The Spring Holidays

Usually as the Winter is closing, or as early Spring begins, in North America, the Jewish community remembers Purim or the Feast of Lots. The main focus of Purim is to recall the events of the Book of Esther, and how God used individuals like Esther and Mordecai, to bring about His deliverance of the Jewish people from certain annihilation. The Messianic Jewish movement remembers Purim via many of the same customs and traditions as the Synagogue, and tends to rightfully use it as a time to focus on not only the necessary deliverance of the Jews—for without the Jews there would be no Messiah Yeshua—but also how we can stand against anti-Semitism in our own day.

Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread, where the deliverance from Ancient Israel from Egypt, the ten plagues, and the centerpiece of the lamb are recalled—is one of the most important features of anyone’s reading of the Bible. The significance that the Exodus story has had, not just in controlling redemptive and salvation themes throughout Holy Scripture, the self-identity of the Jewish people throughout history, but also many political and reforming movements in history, is quite staggering. Without appreciating the Passover and the Exodus, one is very much likely to not understand salvation history.

Within the broad Jewish tradition, extending back to Second Temple times, the story of the Passover has been remembered via the Passover seder meal. This mainly involves a retelling of the Exodus, the ten plagues upon Egypt, and incorporates the elements of unleavened bread, wine, and bitter herbs. The Passover seder has definitely been adapted throughout many centuries of Jewish history, often for the unique needs of diverse Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora. The Passover account alone should be compelling for all followers of the God of Israel. Yet, today’s Messianic Jewish movement has extended considerable efforts from its beginning, to make clear connections between the ancient Passover seder and the Last Supper meal held between Yeshua and His Disciples, before His sacrifice as the Lamb of God. The Last Supper was a Passover seder, although a very unique one, as the Disciples were being prepared to see their Lord executed in atonement for the sins of Israel, and indeed, all of humanity.

The Passover season is a significant time for the broad Messianic community, not only because of the critical need for us to rejoice in the sacrifice and resurrection of the Messiah—but because more people get exposed to the Messianic movement during Passover, than at any other time. While Messianic families, or groups of families, tend to often hold home Passover seder meals—inviting many guests—Messianic congregations tend to especially be keen on having a large communal Passover meal, sometime during the week of Unleavened Bread. This is often used as a dual-outreach, first to the Jewish community, as there are many non-religious Jewish people who can especially be reached with the good news during this time—knowing that Passover is, at least, a part of their cultural heritage. Secondly, evangelical Protestant interest in the Passover, has also been quite high over the past few decades. Wanting to understand the Last Supper as an actual Passover seder, as something that Yeshua did and should still be remembered (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:7), has drawn many evangelical people into the Messianic movement, embracing their Hebraic and Jewish Roots.

Some tension can erupt in the Spring, over the approach that the Messianic movement has regarding the Christian Easter Sunday. Messianic people absolutely must affirm the centrality of the death, burial, and resurrection of Yeshua the Messiah to our faith! Yet, there is considerable discussion and debate, even among evangelical Protestants, regarding the origins of the term “Easter.” Some think it comes from the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, others from the Teutonic Eostre. This is why in some churches, the terminolgy Resurrection Sunday has been employed. And thankfully for many evangelical Believers, their Resurrection Sunday is precisely about the resurrection of Yeshua, and not about the Easter Bunny or Easter eggs. Some people in the Messianic community can cause a scene with various Christian people, over their observance of Easter. At the same time, other Messianic people properly integrate a remembrance of Yeshua’s death, burial, and resurrection into their home and congregational Passover activities.

During the season of Unleavened Bread, a seven-week or fifty-day period called the Counting of the Omer begins, which leads up to Shavuot or the Feast of Weeks, Pentecost. For Ancient Israel in the Torah, the Feast of Weeks was originally an early harvest festival, but became quickly associated with the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. It was a key pilgrimage festival, noted in the First Century as being the time when the Holy Spirit was poured out (Acts 2). There are varied customs and traditions regarding how Shavuot is remembered, which can involve all-night readings of the Book of Ruth, and special teachings from the Mishnah tractate Pirkei Avot or Sayings of the Fathers. In the Synagogue today, Shavuot is a relatively minor festival, but in Messianic settings, the equal giving of both God’s Torah and God’s Holy Spirit, tends to be the focus of one’s commemoration.

Indeed, when one factors in the storyline from Passover to Shavuot, today’s Messianic Believers are presented with all of the key components of a person’s salvation. (1) Men and women are saved from their bondage to slavery via the blood of Yeshua the Lamb, just as Ancient Israel was saved from its bondage to Egyptian servitude via the original Passover lambs. (2) Believers in Israel’s Messiah are immersed in water, reminiscent of the Israelites led through the parting of the Red Sea. (3) Believers in Israel’s Messiah are to receive His charge for living lives of holiness and obedience, just as Ancient Israel was brought to Mount Sinai to be formally given the Torah. And (4) followers of Israel’s Messiah are to enter into His purpose, accomplishing the tasks of the Kingdom of Heaven, similar to how the Israelites were being prepared to enter into the Promised Land.

Remembering Biblical and Jewish Holidays

To any Messianic Jewish family, it is essential and imperative that the Biblical and Jewish holidays be observed. History is replete with too many examples, that when Torah institutions such as Shabbat, Passover, or Yom Kippur are overlooked or not remembered, among others, that Jewish people have a tendency to quickly forget their identity. The Hebrew Christian movement of the early Twentieth Century did not do a good job at emphasizing both the cultural and Biblical responsibility that Jewish Believers have to remember the appointed times. Even today, when Messianic Believers, think that it is acceptable to keep both Chanukah and Christmas, two opposing messages are affirmed. The Festival of Dedication has a theme of resisting assimilation to the world and its ways, whereas the syncretistic holiday of Christmas communicates that it is acceptable to take the ways of the world and “reinvent” them with Biblical themes.

Non-Jewish Believers have been entering into the Messianic community, in substantial numbers, since the 1990s—with the Biblical and Jewish holidays a significant magnet for them doing so. They often conclude that a short Sunday Church service, Christmas on December 25, and Easter Sunday, are spiritually anemic and not able to fulfill all of their needs. A weekly Shabbat rest, the appointed times of Leviticus 23, and edifying extra-Biblical commemorations from Jewish history are found to be very inviting! While there might be some good memories which linger, at times, of past family experiences—the future is embraced as one which not only ministers to the human soul on many more levels, but where one can have the genuine assurance of knowing that you are doing something that Yeshua (Jesus) did!

People being who they are, it has to be recognized that there can be a tendency to think of oneself as being a bit superior, as a Messianic Believer, involved with more Biblical things on a weekly and annual basis—whereas most of the worldwide Body of Messiah, at present, could not care that much about them. Proverbs 16:18 does need to remind some of us, “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (KJV). Many who should be considering the value of the Biblical and Jewish holidays—be it Jewish Believers who have come to faith in Israel’s Messiah, perhaps rediscovering lost or forgotten parts of their family heritage, and non-Jewish Believers just now considering their spiritual heritage in the Tanach (Old Testament)—can find themselves turned off or even repelled, if we do not have the right attitude.

All of us can, for certain, have an edifying orientation when it comes to either the Sabbath, appointed times, or various extra-Biblical Jewish holidays. When Jewish people who need Yeshua, or evangelical Believers who need to grasp a hold of their Hebraic and Jewish Roots, see us—are they attracted to us, because they want to be a part of a loving and Spirit-filled community of Messiah followers fulfilling God’s tasks in the Earth? Do they feel genuinely welcomed and accepted by us, as they are wooed by the Lord to join with us, experiencing great blessings, and being part of the great things that He has in store for the Messianic movement in the days ahead? Do we, in our remembrance of these various holidays, actually live forth their substance in our lives of faith in Israel’s Messiah?

A Torah Foundation (Part II) – November 2017 OIM News


Update

November 2017

My how time flies! It is difficult for us to believe that fifteen years ago, on November 1, 2002, that Outreach Israel Ministries was born. This was a process involving a lengthy “gestation period,” which was initially conceived during a tour of Israel that Margaret and I took with Zola Levitt’s ministry in December 1994. It was there that the Holy Spirit communicated to us that our family needed to begin celebrating the Feasts of the Lord. We had each already participated in various Passover seders years earlier, and were acquainted with the Jewish Roots of Christianity—but this prompting was much more than just a recommendation to have some token attendance at a formalized meal for the sake of spiritual enrichment. Instead, it was a solemn invitation to learn more about our direct connection to our Savior, the Messiah Yeshua, who we both worshipped. In addition, since we had just traversed the same paths as the forefathers of the faith and gazed upon the same terrain they had during their lives, our hearts were ripe for more understanding of who we were as adopted children of the Most High (Romans 8:15-16; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5). Providentially, this past month, while attending a conference of various charismatic Christians, we recalled the life-changing decisions we made in 1994-1995 that have altered the direction of our lives forever.

At that recent gathering, as we reflected back over twenty years to that time, we both concluded that it was a “crossroad” moment when we had two different paths to seek God before us. By His grace, we chose the path less traveled toward Messianic Judaism. In particular, I vividly remember in November 1994 a training jog, in preparation for another marathon run, when I was contemplating all the peer group pressure from the Charismatic Church we were attending to go to Toronto to experience the “Toronto Blessing” first hand. As I mulled this over and over in my mind, I heard in my spirit an almost audible “Jerusalem!” Immediately upon receiving this word, in my mind’s eye I envisioned the “pouring out of the Spirit” everyone was talking about in Toronto, instead being a direct pour on Jerusalem with a significant splash going to Toronto. By the time I jogged home I greeted Margaret with these words, “We don’t need to go to Toronto to receive a blessing, but instead, let’s go to Israel!” Her direct response was simply this: “If we are going to Israel, we need to go with Zola’s ministry. If we are going to tour Israel, we might as well be guided by a Messianic Jew.” Since I knew Zola from associations in Dallas, I called his ministry to find out when their next tour was scheduled, and five weeks later we were headed to Israel.

But even upon getting this inspiration to visit Israel and the gentle nudge to celebrate the feasts of the Lord (Leviticus 23), it still took nine months to be led to a Messianic Jewish congregation, where we celebrated our first Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkot. Even though we were not Jewish, we were certainly drawn back to the Shabbat services and within a few months of “triple dipping” (Friday Evening Erev Shabbat, Saturday morning Shabbat, and Sunday morning services at church), we concluded that the Holy Spirit was teaching us about the Holy One of Israel most effectively at the Messianic Jewish congregation:

“But the Helper, the Ruach ha-Kodesh whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you everything and remind you of everything that I said to you” (John 14:26, TLV).

In a few months, we were taking the new member’s class and introduction to Hebrew. Before long, our family was totally integrated into the assembly with our daughters learning Davidic dancing and John getting very interested in eschatology and other theological subjects. Needless to say, as we gaze back upon those early days and the intervening years, we are delighted that the Lord led us to what we have been doing for the Messianic community of faith ever since!

Initially upon the inception of Outreach Israel Ministries, we discerned a need to help and aid the issues being faced by evangelical Believers, like we ourselves had been, who were being led into similar understandings. We wanted to make sure that we were all focusing on Yeshua and His ways, in a loving, balanced, and academic manner. After John McKee’s undergraduate studies were complete in 2003, he then matriculated at Asbury Theological Seminary in 2005 to hone his skills in Hebrew, Greek, and Biblical exegesis, and received a Master’s in Biblical Studies in 2009. As a result, our teaching abilities were immeasurably enhanced. Today in 2017, via Messianic Apologetics, and as we survey the future of the Messianic community, we know that we have a significant calling to be a voice of stability to the diverse Jewish and non-Jewish people whom God has called into this special move of His Spirit. Our ongoing efforts are focused at making sure that the difficult questions and issues people are facing get addressed!

This month’s lead article continues where last month’s left off, with Part II of “A Torah Foundation.” It finishes by addressing many common passages that are used to claim that the Torah or Moses’ Teaching has no more relevance for God’s people today. You should find this a very concise and useful summary—and it should definitely also increase your interest in further studies of the Scriptures!

We want to especially thank those of you who have faithfully supported our efforts over the years. We continue to need your financial support in order to dedicate the time and energy required to continue in the work that the Lord has assigned us. We particularly need many of you to sign up for a regular monthly contribution via PayPal at www.outreachisrael.net. In the past month, the Messianic Apologetics website at www.messianicapologetics.net has completed its full server transfer, with all articles restored. We have also added a new Messianic Apologetics podcast, which we encourage you to subscribe to via iTunes and Google Play.

Finally, the U.S. continues to have a variety of issues that are spreading division and strife on many different levels. It is our prayer that God will use each of these circumstances to draw people unto Himself, and that hurting and confused people will turn to the Messiah for salvation, hope, and restoration. Father, we need your love, healing, and peace!

“ADONAI bless you and keep you! ADONAI make His face to shine on you and be gracious to you! ADONAI turn His face toward you and grant you shalom!” (Numbers 6:24-26, TLV).

Blessings, Mark Huey


A Torah Foundation

PART II

by J.K. McKee

Last month’s lead article, A Torah Foundation—Part I,” addressed the components of the weekly Torah portions, the Tanach as the Bible of Yeshua, and began to address common Scripture passages used to claim that the Torah is not important for born again Believers today.

“A Torah Foundation—Part II” finishes the list of Scripture passages, incorrectly employed to claim that God’s Torah is irrelevant for His people.

Romans 11:6: “Grace is no longer on the basis of works”
It is a common misunderstanding among many contemporary evangelical people that grace was not present in the period of the “Old Testament.” Paul actually references a number of Tanach passages (1 Kings 19:10, 14, 18) in emphasizing how God’s gracious choice has always allowed for a remnant of righteous. The statement, “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (NASU) should be taken as a logical argument, demonstrating how God’s grace has always been present in all time periods, not that there was once a time when grace could be actually earned from human works.

Romans 14: “God does not care about what days people celebrate or what food they eat”
The information in Romans ch. 14 is often applied to matters of adiaphora in contemporary religious settings today, such as the music people listen to or the movies people watch. In all probability, Paul’s instruction to the Romans about eating and sacred days (Romans 14:2-6) involved unnecessary criticism of those who would only eat vegetables at fellowship meal times, and not “common” (Romans 14:14, LITV) meat that others would eat, Biblically clean but not ceremonially acceptable to some. These people were not to be looked down upon. There is a long-standing alternative opinion that the religious “days” in view (Romans 14:5-6) were times of traditional Jewish fasting. If one should not be criticized for fasting on a particular day—likely remembering or memorializing a tragic event in Israel’s history—then one should surely not be criticized for not eating certain things at a communal fellowship meal.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20: “All things are now lawful”
A correct translation of Panta mou exestin 1 Corinthians 6:12 would be “Everything is permitted for me” (TLV). Numerous versions place this clause in quotation marks “ ”, reflecting the opinion of most scholars that this was a slogan used by a particular group in the Corinthian assembly. When Paul says, “‘Everything is permitted for me’—but not everything is helpful. ‘Everything is permitted for me’—but I will not be controlled by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12, TLV), he is actually cross-examining and refuting something said by a group of Corinthians; this is not reflective of his own personal beliefs.

1 Corinthians 8: “Paul permitted Gentile Christians to eat idol food, a clear violation of the Mosaic Law”
Paul did not permit any of the Corinthians to knowingly eat meat sacrificed to idols, and was critical toward those who thought that they had the freedom to do so (1 Corinthians 8:9). He focused his admonitions heavily toward those who thought that given the supremacy of the One God, that it did not matter if they ate meat sacrificed to idols, given how idols were dead objects (1 Corinthians 8:4). Their actions could have had grossly negative consequences, as there were new Believers who once ate their meals as an act of reverence or worship to idols (1 Corinthians 8:7), and eating meat sacrificed to idols could cause them to relapse back into paganism (1 Corinthians 8:10).

1 Corinthians 9:19-23: “It is only necessary to keep the Old Testament law to convert Jews to Christ”
If Paul only taught that some adherence to the Torah or Law of Moses was necessary for Jewish evangelism, then Paul could rightly be accused of violating his own words about not bringing the good news in a manner of craftiness (2 Corinthians 4:1-2). When Paul communicates “To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews” (1 Corinthians 9:20a, NASU), among the other groups he lists (1 Corinthians 9:20b-23), this is best taken as a statement of rhetoric. Paul self-identifies with the position of the diverse groups in the First Century Mediterranean, in order to best communicate the good news of salvation to them. Paul never stopped being a Jew after coming to Messiah faith. But, there were certainly aspects of the First Century Jewish experience and recent history—among other groups’ experiences—that he had to be quite conscious of, in going to synagogues and declaring that Yeshua was the Messiah of Israel.

1 Corinthians 10:14-33: “Paul says to eat whatever is set before you”
The specific context of Paul saying to eat what is set before you, involves the acceptance of an invitation to eat at a non-Believer’s home (1 Corinthians 10:27). What is set before a Believer on his or her plate, is to be graciously received as a matter of the host’s hospitality. Should it become public knowledge that any meat had been offered to idols, then it is to not be eaten (1 Corinthians 10:28), as it would be a bad witness of one’s faith in the One God of Israel.

1 Corinthians 16:2: “The early Christians met on the first day of the week, a clear abolishment of the Jewish Sabbath.”
The reference to the Corinthians meeting “on the first of the week” has been traditionally approached as Sunday worship services replacing the seventh-day Sabbath. There have, at times, been some dissenting opinions from this, given how this meeting on the first of the week was specifically for collecting monies. This would not be a permissible activity for the Sabbath. Also, in view of the Biblical day beginning in the evening, it has been usefully proposed that what is in view is Motza’ei-Shabbat (CJB/CJSB), or a special time closing off the Sabbath on Saturday evening.

2 Corinthians 3: “The veil of the old covenant has been removed.”
The Old Covenant is specifically labeled by Paul to be “the ministry of death” (2 Corinthians 3:7) or “condemnation” (2 Corinthians 3:9). It involves the Torah, at most, being delivered on lifeless stones, only able to condemn people as sinners. The supernatural work of “the ministry of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 3:9) involves activity of Divine principles being written onto human hearts and manifest to others (2 Corinthians 3:3). This is language taken from the New Covenant promises of Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Ezekiel 37:15-28, which speak of the commandments of God written by His Spirit onto new hearts of flesh. The reading of the Old Covenant ministry of condemnation (2 Corinthians 3:14), the Torah operative for a non-Believer, should convict people of their sins. Unfortunately, a veil lies over the heart of many, especially Jewish non-Believers, when the Torah can only operate as Old Covenant (2 Corinthians 3:15-16). The veil that separated Moses’ face from Ancient Israel (Exodus 34:34) was not unlike the curtain separating out the Holy of Holies in the Temple complex—which was split in two at the Messiah’s death (Mark 15:38; Matthew 27:51; Luke 23:45). The veil over a non-Believer’s heart, prohibiting God’s salvation and sanctification to take place, is what is removed. The Torah no longer functions in a condemnatory fashion, but in principles imbued on a redeemed psyche by the Spirit.

Galatians 2:11-21: “By the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.”
Whether “works of the law” is approached from its traditional vantage point of being “observing the law” (Galatians 2:16, NIV)—or “works of the law” is approached in association with various sectarian deeds involving formal proselyte conversion to Judaism (cf. 4QMMT)—justification comes only through belief in Yeshua the Messiah and what He has accomplished. Who we are as redeemed human beings is to be focused around the work of Yeshua, and not any human action. We are to obey the Lord’s Instructions as a result of the Divine work of Yeshua in our lives.

Galatians 3:12-14: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law.”
Those who disobey God’s Instruction are cursed, and the Messiah’s death on the tree (Deuteronomy 21:23) is what merits those who believe in Him a redemption from the effects of sin. Obedience to God’s Instruction, however, is to bring with it a high quality of life lived on Earth (Leviticus 18:5).

Galatians 3:23-25: “The Law is our tutor to lead us to Christ.”
It is said, “Therefore the Torah became our guardian to lead us to Messiah, so that we might be made right based on trusting” (Galatians 3:24, TLV). Salvation does not come by any human actions involving the Torah. But, the Torah’s Instruction is to convict people of their sins, so that they might come to a point of realizing that only the work of Yeshua can provide salvation. The Torah’s pre-salvation role is one of instruction and harsh discipline, revealing the human limitations and faults of people

Galatians 4:8-11: “The Sabbath and Old Testament feast days are weak and worthless principles.”
Paul specifically told the Galatians, “but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits?” (Galatians 4:9, RSV). The non-Jewish Galatians, in being errantly influenced to be circumcised as proselytes to Judaism to be truly reckoned as God’s own, were returning to practices they left behind in Greco-Roman paganism. Has Paul associated Biblical commandments in God’s Torah, such as those involved with the appointed times, and paganism, as being quantitatively indifferent? Or, in becoming formal converts to Judaism, did the Galatians feel that they could still participate in the Roman Emperor cult as good citizens? Alternatively, were the Judaizers/Influencers who had been persuading the Galatians, practitioners of any proto-Gnostic or mystical errors, with superstitions infused into their observance of their appointed times? A variety of interpretations are available at a reader’s disposal, all of which have been proposed in Galatians scholarship over the past few decades.

Galatians 5:1-4: “Those who try to keep the Law of Moses have fallen from grace.”
It is actually stated by Paul, “You have been severed from Messiah, you who would be justified by the Torah; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4, PME). This specifically involved non-Jewish Believers seeking some kind of right-status before God, originating in the Torah and not the Messiah. It also involved whatever commitments they made in undergoing formal proselyte circumcision, where one would make himself “a debtor to do the whole law” (Galatians 5:3, YLT), a negative condition to be sure. Born again Believers, reliant upon the work of Yeshua of Nazareth, are not to be debtors of any kind to perform the Torah, but are rather to fulfill its righteous requirements via the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit inside of them (Romans 8:4), something resultant of the justification they have experienced.

Ephesians 2:8-10: “We are saved by grace, not as a result of works.”
No one true to the Scriptures can deny the clear imperative, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV). Eternal salvation does not result from any human activity—be that activity general works, or actions in association with the Torah of Moses. Yet, it is also absolutely true, that “we are His workmanship—created in Messiah Yeshua for good deeds, which God prepared beforehand so we might walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10, TLV). Those who have received the salvation of Yeshua, are to walk in good works of obedience, serving as definite external proof of the internal change which has occurred within them.

Ephesians 2:14-15: “The Law was abolished in the flesh of Christ.”
The breaking down of the barrier wall (Ephesians 2:14) has frequently been interpreted by Christians, as meaning that the Torah of Moses had to be abolished in order to bring unity to Jewish and non-Jewish Believers. While there was a dividing wall present in the Second Temple, designed to keep pagans and non-proselytes out on threat of death (Josephus Antiquities of the Jews 15.417; Wars of the Jews 5.194), such a wall is nowhere specified in the Torah itself. Some Protestant traditions, favorable to the moral instructions of the Law, conclude that Ephesians 2:15 is only speaking of ceremonial instructions of the Law, and not the Torah as a whole. The Greek clause ton nomon tōn entolōn en dogmasin specifies a kind of direction that has been abolished: dogma. This term appears nowhere in the Septuagint translation of the Tanach in regard to any Biblical commandments, but instead in regard to regal decrees of the Babylonians and Persians (Daniel 2:13; 6:8; Esther 3:9) or Jewish ancestral traditions (3 Maccabees 1:3; 4 Maccabees 10:2). What was abolished by Yeshua were various extra-Biblical dogmas or decrees responsible for erecting the barrier of the dividing wall in the Temple complex—passing themselves off as “Torah”—and resulted in an inappropriate spiritual culture where people from the nations were being kept out of God’s Kingdom, rather than being welcomed into it.

Philippians 3:2-11: “Righteousness is not derived by the Law.”
In spite of Paul’s significant Jewish pedigree (Philippians 3:5), he recognized that his human achievements were meaningless in view of Yeshua (Philippians 3:7-8). He emphasizes how as a Believer, that he be “found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own from the Torah, but that which is through the faithfulness of Messiah, the righteousness which is from God on the basis of faith” (Philippians 3:9, PME). Paul’s identity is centered and focused around placing his faith or trust in what Yeshua the Messiah has accomplished in being sacrificed for human sin. Messianic Believers today, who place a high emphasis on following the Torah, do so because they want to emulate the Messiah who followed the Torah—while steadfastly recognizing that their righteousness is to be found in His atoning work.

Colossians 2:14: “The Law of Moses was nailed to the cross of Christ.”
That something was nailed to the execution-stake or wooden scaffold of the Messiah, is clear enough from Colossians 2:14: “He wiped away the bill of charges against us. Because of the regulations, it stood as a testimony against us; but he removed it by nailing it to the execution-stake” (CJB/CJSB). Many have interpreted what was nailed to the execution-stake of Yeshua as the Torah of Moses in its entirety. Throughout Protestant history, though, many others have been more tempered in their conclusions. Instead of the Torah as a whole being “nailed to the cross,” the most frequent alternative has been to conclude that the capital penalties and condemnation of the Torah were absorbed onto Yeshua.

Colossians 2:16-23: “Christians are not to be judged for not keeping the Sabbath and Old Testament feast days.”
Unnecessary or unfair judgment of people, for what they do or do not do, is certainly not warranted from mature Believers. However, the statement “Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day” (Colossians 2:16, NASU), is directly connected to a false philosophy that denigrated the Divinity of Yeshua (Colossians 2:8-9), and involved self-abasement and asceticism (Colossians 2:18, 20-22). Torah instructions involving Shabbat or the appointed times are supposed to reveal a significant Messianic substance to them (Colossians 2:17), something which adherents of the Colossian false teaching were not able to comprehend. Frequently, Colossians 2:16 is read out of context with what the judging actually involved per the situation being faced: What did various Torah practices mean, when caught up in association with the false teaching or false philosophy?

1 Timothy 1:8-9: “The Law is not made for a righteous man.”
The verb keimai correctly means “to lie upon,” and appears in Yeshua’s teaching about the ax that is laid at the root of the trees (Matthew 3:10; Luke 3:9). 1 Timothy 1:9 is correctly translated with “the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners” (RSV). This is speaking of the penalties and condemnation of the Torah being used against those who violate it. Those who are redeemed in the Messiah do not have such harsh condemnation used against them.

1 Timothy 4:1-5: “Those who observe the dietary laws have committed apostasy against Jesus.”
The false teaching encountered in 1&2 Timothy, not only involved some kind of abstinence from eating meat, but also sexual relations (1 Timothy 4:3), as well as the errant belief that the general resurrection of the dead had already taken place (2 Timothy 2:18). True spirituality for initiates was believed to involve a return to a pre-Fall condition, where humans only ate a vegetarian diet and presumably did not engage in intercourse. The issue in 1 Timothy 4:3 involves a total abstention from eating all forms of meat, not the kosher dietary laws separating out clean and unclean meats.

2 Timothy 1:9: “Salvation is not according to works.”
“He has saved us and called us with a holy calling—not because of our deeds but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Messiah Yeshua before time began” (2 Timothy 1:9, TLV). People in today’s Messianic community who give an importance to the Torah for God’s people in the post-resurrection era, do so because of the need to live a life in accordance with His holiness resultant of their salvation—because human actions, deeds, or works cannot merit one eternal salvation.

2 Timothy 2:15: “The Word of God is to be rightly divided between the Old and New Testaments, Israel and the Church.”
While one needs to understand Holy Scripture in its ancient context(s) for sure, and recognize that Biblical books were not written directly to Twentieth and Twenty-First Century people, the KJV rendering of 2 Timothy 2:15 has led to some bad conclusions: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” The idea that Holy Scripture needs to be rigidly split up, as it were, between the Tanach and Messianic Writings, is not sustainable. More modern versions correctly render the verb orthotomeō as “rightly handling” (RSV), “accurately handling” (NASU), “correctly handles” (NIV), or even “keep strictly” (REB).

Titus 1:14: “The Old Testament law is to be regarded as nothing more than Jewish myth”
The troublemakers on Crete are said to have been pushing “Jewish myths or…merely human commands” (Titus 1:14, TNIV). Is this actually to be regarded as the Tanach Scriptures, or instead something outside the mainstream? Given the later reference to “genealogies” (Titus 3:9; cf. 1 Timothy 1:4), various exaggerations and embellishments on various minor characters in the Tanach, for which fringe branches of Ancient Judaism offered much speculation and lore, is more likely in view.

Titus 3:5-8: “He did not save us according to our deeds, but according to His mercy”
God indeed does save people according to His mercy, and not according to their deeds or works. This takes place “by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5, NASU). Yet, it is also true that the promise of the New Covenant is that God will cleanse His people from their sins, and by His Spirit supernaturally empower them to keep His commandments (Ezekiel 36:25-27).

Titus 3:9: “We are not to be concerned about obedience to Jewish laws”
Titus 3:9 actually says, “avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about Torah, for they are unprofitable and useless” (TLV). For the circumstances addressed in Crete, this involved an irresponsible usage of the Torah, as a responsible usage is to reveal and condemn sin (1 Timothy 1:8-11).

Hebrews 4:1-10: “Jesus is our Sabbath rest now”
There is little doubting that for those who have received salvation in the Messiah, that they do experience a rest from the guilt incurred by sin. Surely, however, given the future realities to be anticipated in salvation history, the institution and significance of the seventh-day Sabbath should not be haphazardly dismissed. The complete Sabbath rest that is to be experienced by born again Believers involves nothing less than the complete establishment of the Kingdom of God in eternity. Some Protestant theological traditions, while errantly thinking that the Sabbath was transferred to Sunday, have rightly emphasized that the Messianic rest of the future cannot be properly understood unless a Believer partakes of a day of rest once a week. The weekly Sabbath or Shabbat is to teach God’s people important principles about the rest of the Messiah—which we already partake of now via our salvation from sins, but which we are to anticipate more of at the culmination of the age.

Hebrews 7:11-12, 18-19: “A change of law has taken place, because it was weak and worthless”
Due to the sacrifice and resurrection of the Messiah, “a change of the Torah” has taken place, but this is specified to involve “the priesthood being changed” (Hebrews 7:12, PME). The overall context of Hebrews 7:11-12 and 18-19 makes it clear that it is not the ethical code of the Torah, or even institutions such as the appointed times or moedim, which are in view of being affected some sort of change or alteration. Changes which have been affected to the Torah involve the Levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices. The animal sacrifices could not provide permanent atonement and forgiveness for human sin, whereas Yeshua’s sacrifice could. Yeshua’s priestly service before the Father in Heaven is not Levitical, but instead is after the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 7:11).

Hebrews 8: “The New Covenant makes the Old Covenant obsolete”
No one denies that the work of Yeshua the Messiah has inaugurated the New Covenant. However, Hebrews 8:8-12, includes the longest quotation in the Messianic Scriptures from the Tanach, that of the New Covenant or b’rit chadashah from Jeremiah 31:31-34. It is a mistake to think that the New Covenant has nothing to do with the Torah, when the promise includes the explicit word, “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts” (Hebrews 8:10, ESV). The transcription of the Torah’s commandments onto the hearts and minds of God’s people, for sure, can only come about because they have received Yeshua into their lives. It is also a supernatural work that can only take place via the sanctifying activity of the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 10:1: “The Law was only a shadow of good things to come”
A Bible version like the New American Standard Update, which employs italics for words added, indicates how “only” has been added: “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.” The source text of Hebrews 10:1 says Skian gar echōn ho nomos tōn mellontōn agathōn, “For the law having a shadow of the coming good things” (YLT). While it is true that the Torah and its ordinance do include types and shadows of the substantive reality of the Messiah, the addition of “only” is intended to downplay the importance of those types and shadows. The Torah is incomplete without the revelation of Yeshua of Nazareth, but none of us can have confirmation of who He is, without knowledge of the Torah’s Instruction and expectations.

Hebrews 10:9: “God takes away the first covenant to establish the second”
The overall context of Hebrews 10:2-8 makes it clear that the issue in view is the limitation of the animal sacrifices of the Levitical priesthood, compared and contrasted to the final sacrifice of Yeshua the Messiah. As the author of Hebrews inquires, “The Torah has a shadow of the good things to come—not the form itself of the realities. For this reason it can never, by means of the same sacrifices they offer constantly year after year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers—cleansed once and for all—would no longer have consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices is a reminder of sins year after year—for it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:1-4, TLV). The issue in Hebrews 10:9, “He does away with the first in order to establish the second” (ESV), is restricted to the role of animal sacrifices in the atonement of sin.

Revelation 1:10: “The Sabbath has now been replaced with the Lord’s Day”
Various theologians have made the case, that per the subject matter of the Book of Revelation, that John did not receive his visions on “the Lord’s Day” or Sunday, as would be seen in the emerging Christianity of the Second Century. Instead, John received his visions on “the Day of the Lord” (CJB/CJSB, TLV).

Serving the Lord as a Messianic Believer

Today’s Messianic Believers, who are convinced of the validity of the Torah from the Apostolic Scriptures or New Testament, need to be consciously aware of how many of today’s Christians will look at their lives rather critically. Whether you  are a Messianic Jew or non-Jew does not matter here: such people will try to find what they perceive to be weaknesses in your life or faith practice, specifically as to whether or not Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is the central focus of your faith. Is the Messiah the focus of your faith? We have just examined many of the common verses that contemporary Christians will direct toward Messianic Believers, as self-justification for them not having to keep most, if any, of the Mosaic Law.

While we have offered some fair-minded answers for you to provide such critics, keep in mind that Messianic examination and teaching on the Apostolic Scriptures need to go far beyond just having answers to passages that are commonly read as being anti-Torah. Many Messianics do not spend a great deal of time considering the important message and theology that the New Testament conveys to us. We have the definite responsibility as a Messianic faith community to truly regard the Apostolic Writings as being a part of “all Scripture” (2 Timothy 3:16) too, and not exclusively spend our time focusing on the Torah and Tanach, as can be commonplace in some sectors. If we do not have a high regard for the value and integrity of the Messianic Scriptures, then today’s Messianic community will be neutered not only from understanding the continuing plan of salvation history—but most of all from accomplishing the Heavenly Father’s objectives in restoring a sense of sanctified obedience to the Body of Messiah.