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Note 2




 Second Note from Laura:

Recalling just a bit,  "Word" comes from the Greek "Logos," which was originally translated from the Hebrew "Torah."  Torah means righteous teachings/instruction.  We loosely refer to it as "the Law."  It refers back to the first five books, containing the traditional 613 commandments.  Torah also shows a picture with the word:  "what comes from the head/highest person nailed to the sign/seal/covenant (some say cross)."

The word "Torah" is from the Hebrew root word "yarah," which is an archery term meaning to shoot, take aim or hit the mark.  Yarah is also an agricultural term, meaning to cast forth or to rain.  It also means to point out, to teach, instruct, or guide.  Remember learning that to sin is to miss the mark?  The mark we miss is the Torah--the gift (yes, GIFT) YHWH gave to those He saved, that multitude at the mountain.  And when we miss Torah, we are missing Yahoshuah--Torah in the flesh.  We are missing YHWH.

Remember that John said that keeping Torah (the Commandments) is how we actively love YHWH and each other.

"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.  He who says, 'I know Him,' and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  but whoever keeps His word, truly the love of Elohim is perfected in him.  By this we know that we are in Him... Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning.  The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning."  (1 John 2:3-7)

"If you love Me, keep My commandments... He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.  and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father... anyone who loves Me, he will keep My word.... He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me."  (John 14:15-24)

"And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.  And this is His commandment; that we should believe on the name of His Son Yahoshuah the Messiah and love one another, as He gave us commandment.  Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him.  And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us."  (1 John 3:22-24)

"This is love, that we walk according to His commandments.  This is the commandment, that as you have heard from the beginning, you should walk in it."  (2 John 6)

"By this we know that we love the children of Elohim, when we love Elohim and keep His commandments.  For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep His commandments.  And His commandments are not burdensome."  (1 John 5:2-3)

Keeping (guarding) the commandments is not burdensome.  It is not a heavy yoke, nor are they impossible.  I think that what IS burdensome is the wall that people try to build around the Torah, keeping people out, and causing trouble for those who desire to walk in the blessings.  Yahoshuah said that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  His yoke is simply the Kingdom of YHWH--righteousness.  The real burden is darkness--walking outside of the Kingdom (outside of the blessings of Torah).  The Pharisees and scribes built huge walls around the Torah, keeping people out.  These walls were built using their own, man-made traditions, which countered YHWH's Word and hid the truth of the Word from the people.

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."  (Matthew 11:28-30)

"The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.  Therefore whatever <he tells> (Hebrew Matthew) you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.  For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers... But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in... Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you pay tithe of mint an anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matter of the Torah:  justice and mercy and faith.  These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone... Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness."  (Matthew 23:2-36)

"Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Yahoshuah, saying, 'Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?  For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.'  He answered and said to them, 'Why do you also transgress the commandment of Elohim because of your tradition?.. Hypocrites!  Well did Isaiah prophecy about you, saying, 'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.  And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'"  (Matthew 15:1-9)

When we are slaves to sin we walk in darkness, not seeing things clearly--not seeing the way the Father sees.  When we are slaves to righteousness we walk in the light and are able to see well, the way the Father intended.  Sin and darkness are death for us.  We cannot live this way and be with YHWH, because YHWH is Holy and darkness cannot be where He is.  Righteousness and light are life.  Living accordingly is compatible with our relationship to YHWH.  It has always been this way.  From the very beginning YHWH placed the choice before us:  life or death.  Blessing or curse.

In Eden were two trees:  the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  If we eat from the latter, we die and are separated from YHWH.  We chose unwisely.  Thank YHWH that He sent Yahoshuah to reconcile us to Him!

At Mount Sinai YHWH set before the people a choice:  follow His instructions and experience life and abundant blessings.  Or, go your own way and live outside of that covering.  Life or Death.  Here, too, poor choices were made.  The instructions were supposed to be on the people's hearts and obeyed out of faith.  But eventually they instead tried to use these instructions to merit salvation.

Now, once again, we have before us a choice:  Yahoshuah--the Son of YHWH our Elohim.  Elohim in the flesh.  The Word (Torah) in the flesh.  The tree of life in the flesh.  The light of men.  We must choose Life or Death.  Accept Yahoshuah or deny Him.

"For YHWH will again rejoice over you for good as He rejoiced over your fathers, if you obey the voice of YHWH your Elohim, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in the Book of the Torah, and if you turn to YHWH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul.  For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off.  It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?'  But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it.  See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love YHWH your Elohim, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and YHWH your Elohim will bless you in the land which you go to possess.  But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess.  I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love YHWH your Elohim that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which YHWH swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." (Deuteronomy 30:8-20)

"Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse, the blessing if you obey the commandments of YHWH your Elohim which I command you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of YHWH your Elohim, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known."  (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)

"Then Yahoshuah spoke to them again, saying, 'I am the light of the world.  He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'"  (John 8:12)

"In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."  (John 1:4-5)

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."  (Psalm 119:105)

"But Simon Peter answered Him, 'Master, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.'"  (John 6:68)

"And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to Elohim as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to Elohim.  For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under Torah but under grace.  What then?  Shall we sin because we are not under Torah but under grace?  Certainly not!  Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin, leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?  But Elohim be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.  And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."  (Romans 6:13-19)

"I do not set aside the grace of Elohim; for if righteousness comes through the Torah then Messiah died in vain."  (Galatians 2:21)

"...that Elohim would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Messiah, for which I am also in chains."  (Colossians 4:3)

"The lamp of the body is the eye.  If therefore your eye is good your whole body will be full of light.  But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!"  (Matthew 6:22-23)

We are to be imitators of Messiah.  He is righteous.  We have all missed the mark at some point in our lives, so no one is righteous.  But Yahoshuah has willingly paid the penalty for our sins.  Anyone who would believe in Him receives the gift of eternal life.  And these people are free from the bondage of sin--free to live as the people of YHWH and free to receive the blessings that come from that.  We are not denied Torah.  We know that righteousness comes through faith.  And those who live a life of faith begin to walk in righteousness because the Torah is placed on their hearts, as YHWH promised so long ago.  If we say that we have faith in Messiah, yet willfully disobey YHWH's instruction, then we are lying and we don't have the Truth living inside us.  We aren't really loving YHWH, but going our own way, as we see fit.

The reason I have taken on Torah observance is because I want to actively love YHWH, to be an imitator of Messiah Yahoshuah, to grab hold of the blessings, and to walk in the light.  This is on my heart; it is His promise.  The more I understand the Word, the more I realize the grace of YHWH.  He is so very patient with me--with all of us.  My tiny brain can only go so fast and chew on so much at a time.  He has been teaching me in steps.  I'm one of those who used to be a gentile but has now been grafted back in to the natural tree.  There is so much to learn (and unlearn) that it would be overwhelming to have it all thrown at me at once.

It's just like what happened in Acts 15.  The apostles met to discuss what to do about gentiles leaving paganism and coming into the fold of Israel.  The "circumcision" group wanted to make them go through proselytism.  This means they would also learn the "Oral Law," set down by the Pharisees and Scribes.  Though there are some good traditions and teachings within the oral law, it was also a heavy burden--a wall--that could keep people from the simple truth (as mentioned previously).  These people believed on Yahoshuah and wanted to worship the Elohim of Abraham.  They wanted to be sons of YHWH.  So the apostles decided that, according to the Word, these gentiles should discontinue any traditions related to their former pagan worship:  sexual deviancy, drinking blood, participating in the sacrificial pagan rites....  They knew that the gentiles would learn the Word because they were attending synagogue each Sabbath.  And I personally believe that the apostles trusted that the Holy Spirit would etch what they were learning into their hearts and minds, transforming them into the people YHWH wanted them to be.  So it is with me.  I am being transformed by YHWH and slowly learning His ways and am willing to shed even the deepest-engrained traditions to follow after Him, even at the cost of rejection (and this is hard for those of us who have feared rejection).

"And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, 'Men and brethren, listen to me; Simon has declared how Elohim at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name.  And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:  'After this I will return and will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will set it up; so that the rest of mankind may seek YHWH, even all the gentiles who are call by My name, says YHWH who does all these things.'  Known to Elohim from eternity are all His works.  Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the gentiles who are turning to Elohim, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.  For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath"  (Acts 15:13-21)

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yahoshuah.  And if you are Messiah's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise... Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of Elohim through Messiah.  But then, indeed, when you did not know Elohim, you served those which by nature are not gods.  But now after you have known Elohim, or rather are known by Elohim, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?  You observe days and months and seasons and years.  I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain."  (Galatians 3:28-4:11 and on through the book)

The Galatians (or the "Gals" or "Celtics," if you will) were a group of believers who started to go back to some pagan practices and some were placing themselves under the Torah instead of upholding it in faith.  They were also encouraged to go through proselytism by the "circumcision" group.  Paul warned them about all these things.  In Galatians 5:7 Paul says, "You ran well.  Who hindered you from obeying the truth?"  These former gentiles were being confused and lead away from the simple truth of YHWH's Word.  I think that might be one of the reasons the apostles didn't want to overwhelm the incoming gentiles.

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in Adonai.  Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to Adonai.  And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them...."  (Ephesians 5:8-11)

Moving to a sub-topic (the relation here is looking at the Galatians who returned to pagan practices),  many believers all over the western world prepare to celebrate the birth of "Jesus" on December 25th.  This is a tradition that I have been looking at for several years now, going through different phases of this well-known but little-understood holiday.  Santa Claus, Frosty, elves, yule logs, reindeer, mistletoe, boughs of holly, Christmas trees, gifts galore, poinsettias, midnight services....  Would it surprise anyone to know that NONE of these have anything whatsoever to do with Messiah (except there really once was an early church bishop named Nicholas, who was canonized by the Roman church as a saint and given the feast day of December 6th.  He is the saint from where "Father Christmas" originated because he was a patron of children--but don't confuse Nicholas with the jolly man in the red suit.  That's an entirely different story.)?  

The more we learn about Christmas, the less it resembles our faith in Messiah Yahoshuah.  The origins of the holiday are well-documented.  To very briefly summarize, the Roman emperor, Constantine, was the founder of what we know as Christianity.  He established the state church in Rome, which was a political move to unify worshipers of Mithras and followers of Messiah.  In essence, Constantine took the pagan rituals of the sun worshippers and candy-coated them with the name of Iesus (or Jesus, as we know the name today).  In this way, the sun worshippers were happy to continue the way they always had, and believers were free to worship their Messiah, as long as they no longer celebrated YHWH's appointed times and replaced them with the pagan practices (though a large number refused this agenda and were thus deemed outlaws).  The sun deity, Mithras, had a birthday:   December 25th.  This is also the birthday for the "other' sun gods around the world (Ra, Baal, Horas...), but they all stem from Tammuz.

Tammuz was the son of Ashtoreth (otherwise known as Ishtar, Easter, Isis, Semiramis).  She was the wicked woman in the Bible who was married to Nimrod--the mighty hunter in the face of YHWH who brought on the Tower of Babel.  Nimrod dies, Ashtoreth gives birth to a son, Tammuz, and she tells everyone that he is Nimrod, reborn--the new sun god!  Tammuz has an accident, being killed by a wild boar.  This brings on the traditional Easter ham (killing the boar that killed Tammuz), the 40 days of fasting/lent (40 days of weeping for Tammuz),  and sunrise services (priests facing east to worship the sun--Tammuz--as it rises).  I could go on about Easter and the horrible infant sacrifices for crop fertility.  But these are all spring celebrations.  The winter solstice is at hand--the celebration of the re-birth of the sun god.  There is an excellent article about Christmas by the theological scholar, Tim Hegg, which I will refer you to now:  www.torahresource.com/EnglishArticles/Christmas.pdf .

Like Mr. Hegg, I have wonderful memories of Christmas past.  I have loved being with my family and worshipping our Master and Messiah.  No regrets there.  But...

the Holy Spirit has shown me over and over again some Scripture passages that I cannot ignore.

"And you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and burn their wooden images with fire; you shall cut down the carved images of their gods and destroy their names from that place.  You shall not worship YHWH your Elohim with such things."  (Deuteronomy 12:3-4)

When YHWH your Elohim cuts off from before you the nations which you go to dispossess, and you displace them and dwell in their land, take heed to yourself that you are not ensnared to follow them, after they are destroyed from before you, and that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, 'How did these nations serve their gods?  I also will do likewise.'  You shall not worship YHWH your Elohim in that way; for every abomination to YHWH which He hates they have done to their gods; for they burn even their sons and daughters in the fire to their gods.  Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it."  (Deuteronomy 12:29-32)

"thus says YHWH:  Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the peoples are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.  They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple.  They are upright, like a palm tree, and they cannot speak; they must be carried, because they cannot go by themselves.  Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, nor can they do any good.  Inasmuch as there is none like You, O YHWH (You are great, and Your name is great in might), who would not fear You, O King of the nations?  For this is Your rightful due.  For among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like You.  But they are altogether dull-hearted and foolish; a wooden idol is a worthless doctrine... But YHWH is the true Elohim; His is the living Elohim and the everlasting King.  At His wrath the earth will tremble, and the nations will not be able to endure His indignation."  (Jeremiah 10:2-10)

"O YHWH, my strength and my fortress, my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, 'Surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthlessness and unprofitable things.'  Will a man make gods for himself, which are not gods?  Therefore behold, I will this once cause them to know, I will cause them to know My hand and My might; and they shall know that My name is YHWH."  (Jeremiah 16:19-21)

Also, I am again shown Galatians 3, above, where former gentiles were going back to some pagan practices.  Paul says they were "ensnared."  And, looking back at Ephesians 5, we are told to find out what is acceptable to Elohim and to no longer walk in darkness.

Keep in mind that ALL Scripture is profitable for doctrine, and that the Word in its entirety is alive and active, is spiritual and is good.  We cannot ignore Jeremiah's warning about the trees cut down and erected for false gods.  We cannot ignore the Torah's warning about adopting pagan practices and using them to worship YHWH.  He Himself says that He detests this.  We cannot ignore the fact that the "New Testament" confirms all of this.  So, we can no longer tell ourselves that "it doesn't matter how we worship Him, as long as it's for Him." (i.e., "Well, that's not what Christmas means to ME.")  YHWH obviously has a preference.  And all that matters is that we worship Him on His terms--not our own.  Here is a question for each of us:  Are you willing to accept what YHWH shows you and to obey Him in faith, even if others reject you?  And if we truly want that right relationship with YHWH, our answer must be a whole-hearted "YES, Adonai!"

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