Adar is the month in which we observe the joyous festival of Purim and the symbol for the month of Adar is the fish. What do fish have to do with Adar and Purim? In Jewish mysticism the fish represents a concealed reality. This is because the fish swims under the water and is hidden from plain sight. The book of Esther is full of concealed realities.
Romans 14 is sometimes pushed as proof that disciples of Jesus need not worry about kosher laws or keep the Sabbath on the seventh day. Did Paul grant people license to eat truly anything? Can any day be kept as the Sabbath? In what sense is nothing unclean in itself?
According to the approach offered here, every Jew can connect with all of the 613 mitzvot on at least two of the three levels, that of thought and speech. When they study a mitzvah that is not incumbent upon them and discuss its implications, they are connecting to the commandment.
The Sabbath commandment was given directly to the children of Israel. This means that here in Exodus we have evidence of Gentiles joining themselves to Israel and voluntarily observing the Sabbath in solidarity with the Jewish people and in honor of the God of Israel.
One gentleman took a look at me and my colleagues and asked “Are any of you guys related? You sure look similar.” We all looked at one another and said, “No, it’s just the beards and the hats.” Am I just trying to be cool or is there a reason I have a beard?
Unsavory caricatures of the Pharisees leave people confused about what Yeshua might have meant when he instructed his followers to follow Pharisaic teaching. Was he being sarcastic? Rather than employing a convoluted hermeneutic to resolve this puzzle, it is more straightforward and consistent with history to accept that Yeshua upheld a theory of life and practice that aligned with Pharisaic norms.
While it is important to remain holy and refrain from desecrating God’s name by imitating the worship of false gods, it is also important to maintain a healthy and positive relationship with one’s family. Certainly it is disheartening to one’s parents when one abstains from important family gatherings.
Obviously this mitzvah is still in place for Jewish males today. Yeshua was circumcised on the eighth day and we even see the Apostle Paul circumcising the Jewish disciple Timothy. In turn, circumcision was not canceled by Messiah and all Jewish followers of Yeshua are obligated to this mitzvah. But what about Gentile believers? Do they have to be circumcised?
I have traveled all over the U.S. and throughout the world visiting Messianic congregations. I am sad to say that it is rare to find one that is actively seeking to reach lost people—those who have no connection with Yeshua—and to bring them to a place of faith, a place of connection with God through the Messiah.
For the earliest believers, both Jewish and Gentile, the rhythm of the biblical festivals complete with the celebration of Sukkot, was a natural part of their faith. In fact, when we get attuned to the symbolism of the holiday, we realize that so many passages in the New Testament simply assume that all followers of Messiah are observing Sukkot.
We are offered a chance to join with HaShem in causing the kingdom to break through by repenting, returning to HaShem, and meeting our Beloved in the field. We run toward him and can see him running toward us as we partake of his lavish gift of repentance.
In Middle Eastern culture it is customary to use the right hand for most activities. Striking a person on the right cheek with the right hand would require using a backhanded motion. A backhanded slap is considered twice as offensive as an openhanded slap and thus subject to double the fine.
Many non-Jewish disciples of Yeshua with whom I come into contact express a lack of interest and disconnect with these fast days and the traditions that surround them. They dismiss them as “traditions of men” that are “not biblical, just Jewish” as if somehow just because they are Jewish they are not for us or, worse yet, are not important.
Jew and Gentile both need to set aside a holy day for rest and sanctification. We need a time to reconnect, both with our family and with God himself. Sabbath is the day we prepare for ahead of time, so all that we have left to do is to enjoy and delight in this precious gift.
Minhag is defined as a particular and specific custom. Great rabbis had their own unique set of customs, and students of these sages would carry out these customs exactly the same way their beloved rabbis did. As imitators of the Master, we should learn about our Master's customs.
Praying alone with our Father and talking to him from our heart can do nothing but strengthen our walk with him. In the daily hustle and bustle of life we need time alone with HaShem. What better method of attaching ourselves to God is there than the one that Yeshua has shown us in his life of prayer?
This is true in a psychological sense and even truer in a spiritual sense. As believers, we often suffer from false identities. The reality God has created in us is different from our perception of it. We have new identities in the Messiah, but we often fail to see ourselves rightly.
Messianic Jews and Gentiles should be bridge builders. With those of us in synagogues at one end and those of us in the church at the other, we have anchors on both sides; if we can each recognize the other’s role and calling, we can support a connection in between.
Why was the precise number of fish noted in the narrative of John 21:11? Surely it would have sufficed to say “many fish,” or at perhaps “more than 150.” The mention of the exact number seems to imply that there is something significant about that number, especially in such a symbolic and mystical book as John.
I’d like to encourage you to think about boundaries in your life. Think about your boundaries and maybe where you’ve crossed them with God. If you have crossed the line, turn around before it hurts you any worse. Boundaries are his kind way of marking out “safe places” for us to stay within.
What do we really mean when we ask what a text means? This is an important question to ask, but most of us never consciously ask it. The answer might seem obvious to you. But you might be surprised at some of the answers others have given.
Misunderstanding the Bible is dangerous. By the time we are so led astray by our own misplaced zeal, it is too late—we cannot be convinced otherwise; after all, God is on our side, so to abandon our path would be heresy and betrayal.
Young people are becoming conspicuously absent in the Messianic Jewish movement. The Bible instructs us to teach the Torah to the next generation and to recount the works of the LORD from generation to generation. How can we insure that the revelation of Messianic Jewish teaching will survive us? This will be the theme at our 2016 National Shavuot Conference. Join us this year!
I can't help but wonder… is this what it was like with the early believers? Is this how it was truly meant to be? Love in action. Prayers with feet. A living, breathing community. May we all be blessed to be part of such a living, blessed work of God.
For Christians, there is nothing more important than developing an accurate understanding of the Bible. For precisely this reason, I think Christians should not be reading it. How can I say that? Simple: because reading the Bible without understanding it can be worse than not reading it at all.
Every time I visit Israel, I see something I’ve never seen before. While there are sites such as the Kotel, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Master’s cave in the Galilee that I feel must be a pilgrimage each time I travel to Israel, there is just too much to see to not visit some places for the first time.
If we want to argue against observing non-biblical Christian and secular holidays, we have to be careful to leave the emotion and junk scholarship out of the discussion, otherwise our criticisms lack credibility. To directly link the Christmas tree with Jeremiah 10 is anachronistic and a violation of context.
Our dogs, better guardians of the Sabbath than they are of our house, anticipate the Sabbath as much as we do, if not more, and like clock-work usher it in, as they searched out every last morsel. We humorously drew parallels to the Syrophoenician woman and her undeterred effort and expectations of the Messiah despite her dismissal at his hands.
Peter’s vision of the animal-filled sheet has been used as a polemic against kashrut for centuries; very seldom is this story used by Orthodox Jewish thinkers as proof for strict kosher observance. Imagine our surprise when my friend and I dropped in on a Modern Orthodox rabbi’s Torah study that did just that.
Nineteenth-century Jewish believers had teachings to share about the Gentiles’ relationship to the Torah. One Jewish thinker has an explanation about the Jerusalem Council decree. The disciples were not slighting the new Gentile believers by requiring seemingly so little. Rather they were showing love and distinction within equality.
As a revolutionary movement, we must continue to work for the reconciliation of Israel and the Messiah. We must reconstruct these destroyed ramparts and take our place as leaders in all of Israel and amongst the nations, and it would appear that the catalyst that launches us to this foretold headship correlates to our relationship with the Sabbath.
The governments and religious groups that persecuted Christianity throughout the centuries did so under the satanic mission to make the name of Jesus void on the earth. Christians who suffered persecution under the hand of the evil one went to their deaths with the praise of God on their lips.
As we navigate and codify Messianic Jewish theology and practice we must look behind us to those who established our sect. Do we look just as they did? Do we want to? Part of me wants Messianic Judaism to closely resemble those by-gone days as well. Then I realize that it’s impossible.
The saying, “As the leaders go, so go the people” is usually true. Most of us have had experiences with both good and bad leaders. The picture that Micah presented reminded me of a contrast in leadership that I experienced as a baseball player in college
We joined together to bless, to encourage, and to rejoice with the couple. For a brief instant, our grievances melted away in the mutually satisfying revelry and camaraderie in our approval of the union. We forget ourselves in service to someone else. This is how it should be.
During the whole sermon I was looking around the room to see if anyone was noticeably offended or angered. What I saw was a whole congregation nodding their heads in agreement, saying words of affirmation and totally comfortable with what the rabbi was teaching.
Messianic Jews in Israel are too few to create their own subculture in society. As such, they will necessarily study and work with others, adopting a large degree of existing identity markers. Unfortunately, secular society tends to be the only option. Where do we fit into the big scheme of it all?
Just as the student’s love and trust of a Tzaddik is an expression of his love and devotion to God, likewise our relationship with Yeshua is a reflection of our relationship with God. Levertoff tells us elegantly that our love for God is rooted in our love for the Messiah.
When we were young and our parents asked us to mow the grass, we might have responded, “Do I have to?” But we never responded like that when they told us it was Tuesday. No one asks “Do I have to?” of a calendar. It just doesn’t make sense.
Let’s not fall behind in doing the kind of work the Master spent so much time exhorting us to do—the Sermon-on-the-Mount kind of work, the work of learning to be good, the work of consistently making ethically sound choices. In doing so, we will grow to become more like Jesus.
The principle of forgiveness at work in Yeshua's parable of the unmerciful servant operates on the biblical concept of “measure for measure.” With the same measure we use, it will be measured to us. Just as the indebted servant did not forgive the small debt of his fellow servant, the king refused to forgive his great debt.
Subcultures are normal and healthy; they are the modern equivalent of tribes. They give people a sense of belonging, solidarity, and acceptance. But those of us who are followers of Jesus need to consider carefully how our effectiveness might be limited by intentional and outward identification with a Christian subculture.
According to Rabbi Benah the Torah is either a source of life or death. For those who engage the Torah for its own sake it is an elixir of life. However, for the person who comes to the Torah with ulterior motives it becomes a deadly poison. Handle God’s Word with care.
All disciples of Messiah have a choice: the way of life or the way of death. A biblical worldview supports the fact that life is about choices. The path we choose each day will ultimately determine our destiny. Yet not only is life full of choices, it is also a progressive journey that never stops.