Category Archives: Living Kingdom

Which Law?

Not everyone who says to meThis article is the final of three articles in a series entitled “Living Kingdom”.  We will examine the importance of choosing to abide by YHVH’s commands as we consider the choices of individuals in Scripture.  The Good News (Gospel) is about YHVH’s kingdom.  Salvation is necessary for Kingdom Living, but it is a part of the process, not the goal.  We face the same challenges as the Israelites:  recognizing and obeying our King. 

Yeshua said, “If you love Me, obey My commandments” (John 14:15).  Misinformation abounds among present-day followers of Yeshua concerning what Yeshua meant by “commandments”.  It is time to clear away the cobwebs of lies and confusion that impede us from all that YHVH intends for us.

Sha’ul (Paul) discusses more than one type of law even though many Bible translations speak of all types as just “law”.  Sha’ul is talking mainly to Gentiles who were involved in pagan worship and were heavily influenced by the law of hasatan (Satan).  Sha’ul pointed out that they had been released from the law of sin and death and were now free to pursue the law of YHVH which leads to freedom and life.  It is helpful for us to use a translation that clearly distinguishes the different types of law, so all Scripture quoted in this article will be taken from New Living Translation (NLT).

In Deuteronomy 30:19-20, YHVH clearly points out that we have two choices.  “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!   You can make this choice by loving [YHVH] your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life.…”  The Israelites had lived in a pagan culture (Egypt) for over 400 years.  The choices given here were between YHVH’s law or hasatan’s law.  We all live in a world that has been influenced by the values of hasatan’s law which are sometimes called “worldly ways” or “living in the flesh”.

In the first chapter of Romans (1:18-32), we find mention of the two types of law.  First there is the law and order of YHVH expressed through His creation: They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them.  For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God (v 18-20).  YHVH’s ways are evident throughout creation, but He has also given us His law in written form (Scripture) and has written it on our hearts.  The opposite of YHVH’s law, satanic law, is graphically described in verses 28-32:  Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip.…  They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.  If hasatan had his way, this is the only law any of us would know.  Therefore, he has worked throughout history to obscure and misconstrue YHVH’s law.

There has been confusion about the law since the time of the apostles.  First, some Jewish leaders were adding pre-requisites before receiving salvation.  We are rescued (salvation) from the dominion of hasatan through faith and even that faith is a gift from YHVH (Eph. 2:8).   Second, Constantine, in an effort to unite his empire, combined the sacred with the pagan and forbade keeping Torah under pain of death, thus distorting the Sabbaths and replacing the appointed times of YHVH.  Later, in the time of Martin Luther, grace was misconstrued as being the opposite of keeping law.

One dangerous heresy that has resulted today is the widespread belief that Yeshua’s followers are no longer under any type of law.  Grace reconciles us to YHVH and keeps us in relationship with YHVH when we transgress while unlearning hasatan’s ways and learning YHVH’s ways.  Grace is not a replacement for obedience to YHVH’s laws but rather the application of the atonement and covering of Yeshua when we repent of our sin.

Another myth today is that the laws of YHVH are too difficult to keep and therefore YHVH has done away with them.  There are 613 laws in the Torah and no one person is accountable for all of them.  Some are for priests only, others just for men, some for women only, and so on.  There are actually 1,050 commands in the New Testament!

Adam and Eve were influenced by hasatan and sinned against YHVH, subjecting themselves to hasatan.  Until hasatan distracted and confused them, they were capable of keeping YHVH’s law.  Now, we who are born under the dominion and influence of hasatan, struggle to keep YHVH’s law on our own.  Therefore, through Yeshua’s covering and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit we can maintain our relationship with YHVH while we are being perfected.  For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him (Phil 2:13).

Yeshua rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees for their false teachings and actions.  Under the guise of keeping Torah, the Pharisees were more often keeping their own man-made laws (Matt 23:15-30).  hhhahasMan-made law is the distortion of YHVH’s law thanks to humans who have disobeyed by adding to or subtracting from YHVH’s law (Deut 4:2).  Man-made law is actually satanic law in another guise.

Salvation is not a one-time event, but a process.  Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear (Phil 2:12).  YHVH has not changed, neither has His law nor His expectations of us.

Law-Abiding Citizens?

Not everyone who says to meThis article is the first of three articles in a series entitled “Living Kingdom”.  We will examine the importance of choosing to abide by YHVH’s commands as we consider the choices of individuals in Scripture.  The Good News (Gospel) is about YHVH’s kingdom.  Salvation is necessary for Kingdom Living, but it is a part of the process, not the goal.  We face the same challenges as the Israelites:  recognizing and obeying our King.     

Since the time of Martin Luther, much emphasis has been put on salvation through Yeshua as a gift of YHVH’s grace and not something we merit.  This is true, but it is only a part of the truth.  Yeshua taught about salvation and stressed that reunification with YHVH was possible only through Yeshua Himself.  However, the majority of Yeshua’s teaching focused on how to live in the Kingdom of YHVH (Matt 5-7; 16:19, 18:3, 29-30, 19:23).  Salvation supplies us citizenship in YHVH’s kingdom, but as citizens we must abide by the rules and regulations of our King.  Citizens and visitors in all countries on earth are required to obey the rules of the country where they reside or visit.  What are the consequences of ignoring YHVH’s teaching and commandments?  What are the rewards?  Two books of Scripture (Judges and Ruth) present vivid pictures of the two choices and their consequences.  As we review the stories in these two books, let us look for insights into kingdom living and see how the Body of Messiah measures up.

The Book of Judges provides examples of those who made it to the Promised Land but who failed to follow YHVH’s explicit commands (Judges 2:10).  Let us begin with the story of Micah (chapter 17).  Micah stole 1100 silver pieces from his mother (violating Ex 20: 12, 15).  He overheard his mother putting a curse on the thief.  Micah confessed his sin and returned the money.  His mother used part of the money to “honor” YHVH by creating some idols.  Mixing pagan with sacred and is strictly forbidden by YHVH (Ex 20:3-5).   Micah hired a Levite to serve as a priest in his home.  Levites were to serve YHVH in the Tabernacle, not in individual homes (Num 18:1-2).  How do these choices compare to the development of the Body of Messiah? The church early on mixed pagan with sacred (Christmas and Easter replacing the seven feasts of YHVH), misappropriated funds (selling indulgences and relics), provided idols (statues), and created roles for “priests” that YHVH never authorized.  These practices continue today.  Corruption spreads quickly but is not easily eradicated.  Over time, the Israelites’ disobedience led to their expulsion from the land.  What will be the consequence of our continued disobedience in the kingdom of YHVH?

Next,  the tribe of Dan discovered Micah’s evil setup (Judges 18).  They not only failed to root out the evil, but they stole the idols and the Levite “priest” from Micah thus spreading evil throughout an entire tribe.   Even though YHVH raised up various judges to lead the people, their influence was short-lived.  Strong godly leaders have arisen throughout the history of Christianity.  Revivals have come and gone. Leaders can inspire, exhort and teach, but we make our own choices.  Each person is responsible for establishing and maintaining a relationship with YHVH by loving Him and obeying Him.  We are also responsible for exhorting each other in the Body of Messiah (Col 3:12-17) and rooting out evil from our midst.  Each of us will appear before the Judge (Matt 7:21-23).

Finally, there is the tragic tale of the Levite and his concubine (Judges 19).  The Levite not only failed to protect his concubine, but he used her as a human shield to protect himself.  At that time travel in the Promised Land was no safer than in foreign lands (Judges 19:12).  Israel finally addressed the situation by almost eliminating an entire tribe, not to mention the loss of life in the other tribes.  The first two days Israel fought with the tribe of Benjamin (where the rape and murder had taken place), the other tribes suffered heavy losses.  Was this perhaps punishment for not purging evil from their midst earlier?  On the third day, the tribe of Benjamin was defeated and almost totally destroyed.   A lot of people were killed, but was the evil eradicated?  Being a member of a particular congregation or denomination in the Body of Messiah does not guarantee that we will be righteous before the Judge.  The many incidences of corruption, immorality, etc. within the Body of Messiah today bear witness to our failure to purge evil from our midst.  How many people have sought to know Yeshua and His Father within the Body of Messiah only to be discouraged or even destroyed?  What are we doing to purge evil from our midst?

The book of Ruth provides strong examples of Kingdom of heaven living. Ruth, Naomi and Boaz lived during the same time period as the book of Judges, but their choices brought blessings to themselves and others.  They represent the remnant, those in each generation who truly follow YHVH’s ways, the few chosen from among the many who are called (Matt 22:14).  The climax of the story takes place in the springtime during the barley harvest, the time of Pesach.  Boaz not only followed Torah (Lev 23:22) by allowing Ruth, a poor foreigner, to glean from his fields, but he provided protection and advice for her, unlike the Levite did for his concubine.  We are to welcome the “foreigners” to our faith who seek to know, love and serve YHVH.  We are called to make disciples of them, providing advice, mentoring and protection, not bias and judgment.  Ruth wholeheartedly sought to serve YHVH and her new family.  She was willing to follow the advice of both Naomi and Boaz.  We have much to learn from each other.  Are we proud and obstinate or humble and yielding?  Boaz followed the commandments of YHVH in offering to the kinsman redeemer first in line the opportunity to do his duty.  When the first kinsman redeemer refused, Boaz assumed his assigned duty.  Ruth and Boaz were harvesting barley; we are to harvest souls.  (John 4:35-36).  While bloodlines are important and respected by YHVH, they are no guarantee for eternity.  Neither is the fact that we claim to accept Yeshua as our Savior.  The litmus test for all of us is faithfulness to YHVH and His Torah.

The prevailing excuse given in Judges is that Israel had no king.  Actually, they did have a King who is Spirit, but they failed to recognize Him.  He later came to earth as a human and many still failed to recognize Him.  Our King, who is both YHVH and human resides in heaven, but also in our hearts.  Do we recognize Him as King?  Do we follow His commands?