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!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Adoption Lessons

For those of you who have not heard…one week ago we finally adopted our two little girls from Haiti. I’d like to share some spiritual insight that hit home during this busy and emotional finale that I hope will bless you, or at least make you think. Please suffer through this preamble about the Torah, before I go deep into the scriptural theme of adoption.

The Torah is about object lessons…we are called to DO the Torah (they are God’s principles contained in commandments, not “laws” as is normally horribly translated). As our designer, God knows how we are wired. We call ourselves human beings, but He knows we are human DOings. The concept of “faith” in the Hebrew language is tangible …Hebrews 11:1 ”Faith is the SUBSTANCE of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen”. Faith is not some abstract concept, belief, or thought. Hence…James 2:20 ”Faith without works is dead”. Thinking or believing something brings us no closer to knowing God, and advances His Kingdom not one inch. Hence…”the demons believe and tremble”, but are certainly not part of the Kingdom.
Likewise in Hebrew, the word wait (qavah) as in ”to wait upon the Lord”, does not mean to just sit around. It means to twist or bind together. The concept is to “twist” or “braid” our spirits with His, until our lives are unrecognizable as our own and we are hopefully mistaken for Him!

This twisting can occur with a false spirit too…the bible calls this wickedness (from the root “wicked” as in the twisted wick of a candle), and can also be translated as “Lawlessness” or “Torah-lessness”. A better translation may be “without God’s teachings”. We twist ourselves together with him, in faith, by our actions, large and small each day.

The biggest struggle with following the Torah correctly is to discern the true spirit of a commandment, although we are called to carry out them out in faith even without the understanding if need be. Just like with the parables that Yahshua told, the understanding will come-- and at deeper and deeper levels as we twist our spirits together with His. The biblical feasts, the sacrificial system, the dietary commandments, the teachings about clothing, resting on the Sabbath—all of these were given as object lessons (principles contained in commandments) to teach us about the nature and character of YHVH. The “Doing” of the Word is where these concepts of God turn into true understanding, where talk becomes trust, and the Kingdom of Heaven lands smack dab into the middle of your life. We now see object lessons of the Kingdom of God all around us all the time.

Nothing we’ve done so far has revealed God’s character to us as much as the adoption of our daughters this week. The concept of adoption is first found in Genesis, with YHVH’s adoption of Abraham as the chosen vessel of the seed that would bless all of the nations of the earth. The lineage of this “seed of promise” passed though to Isaac, and then to Jacob. During the 400 years in Egypt, this family grew, and grew, and grew, much like a baby in the womb, until it was time to be delivered. YHVH chooses Moses as deliverer for His people, a man who was adopted as a baby into the family of the Pharaoh. YHVH tells Moses in Ex 4:22 “And thou shall say unto Pharaoh, thus says the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn”. YHVH considers this seed (His captive people), now multiplied and at full gestation, to be his Firstborn Son. Is this a natural birth, or an adoption?

Paul answers that question in Rom 9:3-5, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God.” Here Paul makes clear that the Children of Israel are YHVH’s adopted firstborn sons. That is pretty heavy stuff. Yahshua is his Firstborn (only begotten) son, but the Children of Israel are His adopted firstborn sons. However, this status does not (and never has) get passed down through a bloodline, it has only ever come through faith, either in the Messiah to come (in the case of the “old testament” children of God, or in our case, the Messiah who came. Rom 9:6-9 ”For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel, and not all of Abraham's children are his true descendants; but ‘It is through Isaac that descendants shall be named for you.’ This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as descendants.”

Gal 4:4-9 ”But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage?”

We as children of God are JOINT heirs with Messiah. We too are adopted as sons. Note also that Paul draws the distinction between us knowing God, and God knowing us. Knowing God is not a prerequisite to our adoption, it’s Him knowing us that matters. How does He expect us to know Him? How can an unseen Father, with no physical body, expect us to get to know Him and His ways? This is not a rhetorical question. It is crucial. Matt 7:21-23 "Not everyone who says to Me 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' “ Ouch. Knowing His name, nor doing wonderful things in His name, is not the same as Him accepting you as his adopted child. Note the proof He gives of them being outside the family…you who practice lawlessness (Torah-lessness).

This idea of using His name but not having the proper relationship is common with little children. Once they realize that they can control their siblings simply by saying “Dad said”, they feel very powerful. The older, more experienced, children can recognize Dad’s character and more easily discern whether the command really came from Dad, or not. Just because saying “Dad said” gets results doesn’t mean it’s right, and it certainly doesn’t mean Dad is going to be pleased we were so eager to throw around His power without proper authorization. This, again, is one reason the Torah was given, so by our forefather’s example and by our own practice as His children, we learn who He is and what He has agreed to sign his name to.

Note also that as sons of God, WE ARE NO LONGER GENTILES. Gal 3:26-29 “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

Who are we then? Eph 2:11-13 “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh — who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands — that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
We were once gentiles, back then before we accepted the Messiah, back then when we considered our blood-line in the flesh our true identity, back then when we were aliens from the Commonwealth of Israel. Now, we are no longer Gentiles, we are no longer aliens from the commonwealth of Israel. WE ARE PART OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL. Just like YHVH said to Moses in Exodus 4: “Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn.” Eph 2:12 clarifies that as we are adopted into Israel, we are also no longer strangers from the covenants of promise. All of the promises and covenants made to Israel are equally applicable to us, since we, by adoption, are the sons of God. Note the legacy of what we inherit as the adopted sons of YHVH. Again, as Paul says in Romans, “…Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises.” How cool is that? When we were adopted, we inherited His glory, all of the covenants, the Law (the Torah), the privilege of serving Him, and all of His promises apply to us. Not a bad deal, considering HE CHOSE US…BEFORE WE EVEN KNEW HIM, and certainly before we knew any “do’s and don’ts”.

What did the original children of Israel have to DO to deserve to get adopted? Nothing. The Father does the adopting, the children do nothing. The children do have a choice, eventually, to accept or reject YHVH as their father, but YHVH offers this choice as a gift. God has always been full of mercy and grace; this is not some new and improved aspect of Himself only revealed in the New Testament. He has never asked his children to earn their adoption, nor given us any rules we must follow in order to be invited into his family. However, once we accept the offer to be adopted, there is action required on our part to finalize the adoption. On the night our forefathers were released from Egypt, they were told to sacrifice a lamb and put it’s blood on the doorway of their homes. On day we accepted our adoption, we accepted His sacrifice of The Lamb, and applied it to the doorposts of our hearts. We had to accept our new Father by faith, and turn away from the unholy elements of our past lives. Like our own adopted children, we pray that they don’t stop there! Yahshua said he is “the door”, but also is “the way”. YHVH wants us to get in the door, but then to continue on the way! We can’t help the Father advance His Kingdom, if we are all crammed in the doorway!

How does adoption work if you’re not an orphan? What if you were raised in a Christian nation, by Christian parents, went to Sunday school, Christian college, usher at church, and have lived a moral life? Matt 10:34-39 "Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.' He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” If you consider HIM to be your Father, you must first choose to recognize your status as an orphan, and realize that anything and everything from your former life is subject to His loving sword.

A huge part of being “born again” is recognizing who your new Daddy is. In the original Hebrew Scriptures, the First Commandment actually is “I am YHVH your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the abode of slavery.” This commandment stands alone as the first commandment, to emphasize who our new Father truly is and what he has done for us. In many bible translations this commandment is purposely moved to a “preamble” to the commandments (and therefore isn’t made into stained glass windows, posters, or made into monuments on courthouse lawns). In the original Hebrew, the 10 commandments are actually numbered. Most English translations remove the numbers, allowing the second commandment to be split into two, thus leaving ten. This was done purely for anti-Semitic reasons by “early church fathers”, to make it easier to accept these early “fathers” without looking back too far at those pesky Hebrews who lead the real “early church.”

There is a tendency for us misplace our trust in YHVH into other human figureheads, leading us to have more of a stillborn experience, or a false rebirth. We weren’t adopted by the Pope (which means Papa in Latin), nor by John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, Mary Ellen White, Joseph Smith, John Wesley, Constantine, Tertullian, Polycarp, or Paul the Apostle. Any elder or leader that isn’t pointing you to the true Father to have your spiritual needs met is standing in the way of your adoption, not helping the bonding process. They may be doing this from ignorance, or from their own lack of faith, or even for their own issues of pride or greed. This warning from Yahshua was not meant just for Jews, this is for all people who presume to call themselves “leaders” in His Kingdom. Matt 23:5-15 “…But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.' But you, do not be called 'Rabbi'; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. 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 devour widows' houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.”

What are some of the defining characteristics of this family we have been adopted into? This is YHVH himself speaking at Mt. Sinai: Ex 19:3-6 “tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.”

Here is that same sentiment, reinforced 2500ish years later, after the resurrection: Titus 2:12-15 “…teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”
Likewise restated by Peter: 1 Peter 2:9-10 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

How do we know how to be a holy nation? What does a royal priesthood do? Peculiar? How so? When our forefathers (the original firstborn of Israel) were delivered from their bondage, how did they get to know the Father? At Mount Sinai, and for 40 years in the wilderness, Moses met with YHVH face-to-face, receiving instructions and writing them down. These 5 books written by Moses are what is called the Torah, or “The Law” (not to be confused with “The Law of Sin and Death” from which we have been set free, or “The Oral Law” aka “The Traditions of the Fathers” which Yahshua steadfastly rejected). By obeying, in faith, the written and true instructions to the best of our ability, we learn who our unchanging Father is, what pleases Him, and how we should treat one another. For centuries, our spiritual ancestors ignored, altered, and profaned these instructions. Entire new sets of instructions were invented (the Oral Law), which were set above God’s by most Jews, sending them off on a wrong path, and even confusing we fresh adoptees by making us fearful of the written Torah. Yet YHVH as a loving Father, still lived up to His promises by fulfilling this prophecy:

Jer 31:33 “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” The same Law that was given to Moses, written externally on stone, will instead be written upon our hearts as his adopted children. The covenant did not change, it was simply revealed in a more intimate way by Yahshua, the author of the Torah.

The Law did not need to be obeyed before we were adopted, in fact it didn’t even apply to us until we were adopted. Ironically, but predictably, as children of God we have mostly chosen the same path of disobedience as our forefathers. We have chosen our own day to rest (if we rest at all), replaced all of YHVH’s feasts with our own holidays, and blatantly ignore commandments that don’t suit us or are inconvenient—all with a loving smile and the excuse of “not wanting to be legalistic”.

The Law does not make us worthy of adoption; it is how we become perfected after we are adopted. 1 Thess 4:1-8 “Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God; for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus. For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.”

There is a widespread but false teaching that assumes the “Church” was born in Acts chapter 2, at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came and baptized the believers with fire. The word “Pentecost” means “50 days”, and in scriptural reality is actually the final day of “The Feast of Weeks”: 7 weeks plus a day (50 days total for you playing at home). The day that begins the counting is the Feast of First Fruits, which just so happened to be the day the Messiah was resurrected! The faithful disciples were simply counting the 50 days, waiting to see if the promise of the Messiah would be revealed. What did these 50 days commemorate? It was 50 days from the deliverance of Israel (the real birth of the “Church”) to the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai. “Pentecost” is the anniversary of the 10 commandments --the first 10 rules in the Law of Moses--being read aloud by YHVH to His newly adopted children, and our forefathers accepting the terms of the adoption. These 10 commandments are not the top 10, just the first 10—for example, the golden rule “love your neighbor as yourself”, the commandment the rest all hang upon, came later in the Law: Lev 19:18. On the original day, YHVH spoke the commandments from the fire on the mountain...on the Acts 2 anniversary he wrote them with fire upon their hearts.

He gave us the Law so that we, as his adopted children, can begin the process of our sanctification (making ourselves holy as He is holy). Using the Torah as a roadmap, we can begin to walk the walk, to get to know our new Father, insure that we are pleasing Him, and avoid accidentally (through ignorance) rejecting Him. Remember, the teachings in the Torah were given to Moses by Yahshua Himself. Yahshua is the natural born son of our mutual father, and said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises the dead and gives life to them, even so the Son gives life to whom He will. For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” John 5:19-23

As the adopted children of God, we are called to walk in the very same way that Yahshua walked. Regarding the teachings given to Moses, he said "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matt 5:17-19

If indeed we are embracing our spiritual Father, if we are claiming our inheritance and His promises, if we are following Yahshua and identifying with Him as a role-model, we should want the Law written on our hearts and minds!

With our “natural born” little lambs (my wife hates calling them “kids”), we have had a chance to imprint “who we are” in them, through instruction and/or example. Their lives are byproducts of our personal journey, their own individual personalities and gifts, and YHVH’s sovereign plan for each of their lives. Regardless of what truths we lead them toward, they will each eventually have to chose Him as their real and far more perfect Father, and cleave to Him. The latest additions have come to us with all sorts of prior imprinting, some of which we may never fully know or understand. We see our job as parents as helping them grow up knowing that they too will someday have the choice to be re-adopted, just as we were, into the family of YHVH. We must lead them to understand that their fleshly bloodline and past is not as important or defining as the spiritual inheritance that awaits them if they choose wisely. We must prepare them for this choice not only by teaching them about God, but by modeling his principles by our lives—by acting out the Torah, in faith, through His Spirit, and teaching them to do the same.
Before we left Haiti, we had an opportunity for an emotional visit with the birth-parents of our girls. The father wanted us to understand that he loved them with all his heart (and I believe him), but that he simply could not provide for their daily needs. He told through a translator that it was just like Moses’ parents, in faith, putting him in an ark into the river, praying that somehow he would have a better life. Perhaps he knew how profound of a statement that was, but either way, I will never forget it.

As believers, we are all like Moses; it’s just that some of us are comfortable in our baskets and are happy being treated as babies. 1 Peter 2:2-3 “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 1 Cor 3:1-3 “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal.”

At some point, hopefully, we make that choice to leave the basket, in fact, to leave Egypt (our unscriptural traditions, our sinful culture, our unholy beliefs) altogether! Heb 5:12-14 “…by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

We must each choose to cross through the Red Sea (baptism), meet YHVH at His holy mountain (learn The Word), enter into the wilderness (surviving only on HIM, shedding everything that doesn’t line up with The Word). Like Moses, we must recognize that we are not alone on this journey. 1 Cor 10:1-11 “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.“

And, like Moses, we hope to die old and well used by the King, advancing the Kingdom one miracle at a time. Most look back at Moses’ life and remember the end with fear and sadness. How could YHVH call someone to live such a life, leading millions of people on such a journey of faith, and then let him die within view of the Promised Land? Let’s not forget the real end of the story… Mark 9:2-6 “Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah". Turns out Moses entered the Promised Land, along with Yahshua, after all.

I love happy endings. Ben

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