Welcome to Home Shalom!
Welcome to Home Shalom and Shalom Farm. We pray your visit here be blessed. We are learning to walk in the Ways (Torah) of our Father YHWH and follow Y'shua, His Messiah until He returns to "set things straight". We call it a "Messi-Life". Our walk is neither tidy nor perfect, but it is filled with passion, devotion and desire to serve our King. We are learning to be humble servants, and to be good stewards of the things that He has entrusted to us: His Word, our marriage, our children, our family, our community, our health, and our farm. Hitch your horse and stay a while--our door is always open!
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Taking the Messiah's side
Not long before The Father enlightened us to the beauty and wisdom of Torah, a new believer I was mentoring began reading his Bible from the beginning. He came to me confused and desperate, with numerous questions about the commandments given to Moses. I told him that he had started in the wrong place, and that Matthew was a much better place to begin, as Jesus had “fulfilled all that” and that the Laws of Moses had been “done away with”. Most in mainstream Christianity see Torah-keeping believers as misled, and echo my earlier sentiment about “Jesus nailing the Law to the Cross”. I now see an irony that is very revealing about the modern Church. The established JEWISH religious leaders in the New Testament were making the very same false accusations about Messiah and His ministry as most established Christian denominations are making about Him today. Without even realizing it, the Church has allied themselves with the very group that they claim to oppose.
In Revelation 12:10, Satan is called “The Accuser of The Brethren”. In John 8:44, Yeshua (Jesus) says of Satan, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Satan has a pattern of making false accusations, and it’s our job as “believers” to recognize these lies, and purge them from our lives and hearts. Steven, Paul, and even Yeshua were all falsely accused in the New Testament. As Christians, our job is to join YHVH and Yeshua in Satan’s defeat, but instead the Church often inadvertently remains part of that same satanic chorus-- echoing similar false accusations towards Torah-keeping brothers and even our toward our Savior.
In Acts 6:12-14, the stage is set for the stoning of Steven, the first martyr in the recorded ‘New Testament’. The Scriptures say about his accusers: “they stirred up the people and the elders and the scribes, and they came upon him and seized him and brought him before the council, and they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never ceases to speak words against this holy place and the law, for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and will change the customs that Moses delivered to us.”
What was Steven accused of? Speaking against the law, and teaching that Jesus would change the customs of Moses. Note the scriptures specifically and clearly say he was FALSELY accused. Steven did not actually say or teach these things, but like any other early follower of Messiah, he kept the Law of Moses. He was stoned by folks who themselves had been taught incorrectly--those who misunderstood the teachings of Messiah as being a completely new faith, rather than a reinforcement of the Holy principles given to Moses. Ironically, today many Christians would take the side of Steven’s accusers, simply because that’s the way they were brought up, or because of errant church tradition.
The Apostle Paul himself was also guilty of that mistake, and was one of the council members that took part in the stoning of Steven. He admits to this in Acts 26, “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.” When Paul says he was “trying to make them blaspheme”, he means he was trying to get the Jews who preached the Gospel of Messiah to openly admit that the Law was to be "done away with"—a blasphemous notion to Jews then and now. After meeting the Messiah face-to-face, however, Paul was corrected and repented of his error.
Shortly after becoming a believer, the Jewish leadership falsely accuse Paul of exactly the same blasphemy. Paul’s self-defense is similar to Steven’s. Acts 24:14, “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets." Later, he continued his defense, Acts 25:8 “When he had arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many and serious charges against him that they could not prove. Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.” Again, 2000 years later, most Christians have passively joined Paul’s opposition, continuing to preach and teach that Paul taught doctrine contrary to the Mosiac Law, rather than reinforcing and restoring it.
The Apostle Peter admits, even in those early years, that many people have misunderstood Paul’s intentions. “…our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.” Without remaining keenly wary of Satan’s methods, it’s easy for Christians to let others shape their worldview with false traditions and misunderstandings. The hard part is admitting that just as in the case of Paul, we may also be on the side of the false accuser.
The Messiah Himself expected these false accusations before they even came, and therefore made Himself perfectly clear during His Sermon on the Mount. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:17-20
As all of these false accusers show, it’s easy to have a certain idea of who Yeshua was in our minds. It’s normal to have pre-conceived notions of who He was and what He taught. Even when reading the words directly from the Bible, we often hear the voices of our pastors, our parents, our peers, or even TV and movies. It’s our human nature to filter Scripture through our existing expectations and beliefs, but the correct way to follow Messiah is to filter out our false expectations through the Scripture. This is how we dilute or negate the power of Satan’s deceptions in our walk.
Judas was perhaps the best example of the common mistake of believing in a Messiah HE wanted to follow, instead of accepting the true Messiah that was right before his eyes. He allowed his own view of what the Messiah had to be (a warrior King, to throw off the shackles of Rome), to blind him to the true nature of what He really came to do. Even after following Him for years and years, listening to every sermon, and eating with Him at every meal (including the Last Supper), He STILL had this preconception distracting Him from an honest and fruitful walk. Eventually, “The Accuser of The Brethren” took advantage of this blind spot, and actually entered into him in order to betray Yeshua (Luke 22:3). Even at his final meeting with The Master, Judas still openly displayed affection with Yeshua, kissing Him as he was arrested. Shortly after this meeting, Judas is convicted of his error, repents, but it’s too late. Messiah dies a horrible and violent death, and out of sorrow and despair Judas commits suicide.
The New Testament gives us these three clear examples as a stern and stark warning to Christians. Don’t make the mistake of Paul, and think that Jesus taught others to disobey the Torah. Don’t make the mistake of Judas, and allow the traditions of your parents or your church to blind you to the Torah-centered teachings of Messiah. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled by “the Accuser” into accusing Yeshua Himself of blaspheming the Torah that He himself preached, lived, and embodied. Instead, follow the example of Yeshua, when He met Satan face-to-face. With each subtle temptation, Messiah answered Satan not just with Scripture, but specifically with the words of Moses (Deut 8:3, Deut 6:16, Deut 6:13). Rooting ourselves in the truth as YHVH gave it to Moses in the Torah, and as it was taught and lived by Yeshua will ensure that we remain as enemies to Satan, and not his accidental allies.