Four Years Past the Cross (Happy Pesach)

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BY: TCLeach
https://www.facebook.com/CenterforTanakhBasedStudies/

My favorite time of the year is here!

Pesach (Passover)  2018 will mark four years since I walked away from Yeshua (Jesus) and all things Christian. As most of you know, I chronicled my first year right here at the “Center for Tanakh Based Studies” site. I was so astounded to find that Jesus wasn’t the only thing different once one has ripped the “new testament” out of the back of the Bible. Everything is different! I wanted to share everything I was learning and to encourage others who questioned the doctrines in the Christian writings.

And then I got real quiet. I realized I had no magic key to Heaven, I was only a girl relating the best I could to a God no one has all figured out. I stopped writing publicly about something as personal as my walk with my Creator.

Many of you have reached out since my “Walking Past the Cross” series ended, and I appreciate that so much! I think of y’all often, too, and so I thought I’d drop by and say hello, and wish every one of you a meaningful and peaceful Pesach!

And to fill you in on how life looks after all the dust that rises when one walks away from the cross settles.

Just because I do not post all the time about God, it doesn’t mean He isn’t at the center of my life. As a matter of fact, He is bigger and more real to me now than He was when I flashed Jesus as my “stay out of hell free” card. Oh, I remember how afraid I used to be of hell! LOL! Perhaps that’s part of the draw to Jesus for some people. They, like I used to, believe that someone else’s good merit can pay for their sin.

To think we wouldn’t be held accountable for our own actions by a loving and just God makes me giggle now.

To think He is small enough to only have one path to Him makes me giggle, too. The more I walk this path, the more I see truth in the old quote by Kahlil Gibran that says…

“God made the truth with many doors to welcome every believer who knocks on them.”

Of course, He did!

Who are any of us to think we know the only way to be a child of God?

I best relate to Him as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I am not Jewish, nor will I convert, but I do “get” their Scriptures, and can see so much in history that backs it up. I lean toward Kabbalistic teachings these days, which use the Torah (First five books Scripture) and Judaism as their base. I glean wisdom there, as well as from Rabbis and the Sages. I worry less about the rules and rituals and more about walking in a way that honors God and benefits other people. After all, the bottom line of any Godly religion is what we do, not so much what we believe at any given point in our lives.

And so I say less and post less these days, and do more. God is the force that drives me, and I will walk in His way, His Truth and His Light (Torah) all of the days of my life.

Happy Pesach, friends! May the Creator of all draw you ever nearer to Himself.

~Terrie C

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Biblical proof that the Sabbath starts at sunset, not sunrise.

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By William Jackson

Center for Tanakh Based Studies

When many of us gravitated closer to Torah, we found that those ahead of us on this journey started their Sabbath worship on Friday night instead of the morning of Shabbat. It did seem a little odd at first.  But, there were a lot of changes, for example, we were now dedicating a full 24-hour period to worshiping God verses just an hour church service. Still, we return back to that nagging question, “why the Sabbath starts at dusk instead of dawn?”.

The easy answer can be found in the first chapter of the Torah.  The answer is repeated six times.  As God was creating the earth He put the first full days into motion:

“… it was evening and it was morning, one day” – Genesis 1:5.  This is said five more times for each of the preceding days (Genesis 1:8, 13,19, 23, 31).  As each day is marked, each begins with an evening.   

Still the average “Joe” sees dawn as the beginning of a day. Yet, if you really thought about it, the secular world does not.  Case in point, when we move from one block on the calendar to another block that line we cross which brings us into a new day is directly after midnight. Some might say that this is considered morning. They are right, but it is still night. So why is midnight that magical phase line that brings us into the next day? It all started with the development of that first “hour”, as we know it.  In truth, this first hour led to the 24-hour day.  It was developed by the Egyptians about the time of Israel’s Exodus 1. Later, the concept of midnight would be developed by the Romans. It was these Romans who would create the concept that midnight marked the beginning of a new day. Interestingly, when Rome occupied Israel, Romans in Israel adhere to God’s concept of the new day starting at evening. Also we should note that Israel was not the only nation to follow the new day starting at dusk concept, Ancient Greece did as well 2 .

So, history backs up the idea that the day starting at midnight was a later concept adapted for Rome’s civil purposes such as guard duty. However, if we dig deeper into the Tanakh (Old Testament).  We find more evidence of the day starting at dusk.  For example, Leviticus 23:32:

“It is a *complete day of rest for you, …from evening to evening, you shall observe your rest day.

Yes, this is talking about Yom Kippur, but Yom Kippur is a *Shabbat and like all other Sabbaths it starts on an evening and ends on an evening.  Shabbat starting in the evening is further reaffirmed in Nehemiah 13:19:

“Now it came to pass when the gates of Jerusalem *cast shadows before the Sabbath, that I commanded, and the doors were closed, and I said that they should not open them until after the Sabbath, and I stationed some of my youths over the gates so that no load should enter on the Sabbath day.”

Here, around 432 BCE, Nehemiah was quite desperate.  He was trying to keep temptations from his people, the Israelites.  He did not want a repeat of the Babylonian captivity which was the result of Israel continuing to sin (Isaiah 5:13, 52:3, Jeremiah 7:15). So, he posted guards at the gates right before Sabbath, so the Israelites could not trade with the merchants.  As the verse says he shut the gates of Jerusalem when *shadows were cast before the Sabbath.  It is not too hard to figure out this would imply right before dusk.

Conclusion:

Many of us studied ourselves out of other religions, but the studying should never end.  Do not blindly go into a 24-hour Sabbath starting at dusk without knowing why.  We are so much different than the rest because we choose not to put men between us and God. Remember, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line and the clearest message comes straight from the source.  Be true yourself and the study of His Word.

References:

 

  1. Gerhard Dohrn-van Rossum, History of the Hour, University of Chicago Press, 1996.

 

  1. Michael Petrus Josephus van den Hout, Marcus Cornelius Fronto, A commentary on the Letters of M. Cornelius Fronto, Page 83, 1999.

 

The Apostle John says that Jesus was just a symbol.

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By William Jackson

Center for Tanakh Based Studies

As we know, John was more than an apostle to Jesus of Nazareth.  He was in Jesus’ inner circle of followers (Mark 5:37,9:2, 13:3, Matthew 26:37) and the author of no fewer than five New Testament books.  He was also bestowed the title “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23-25, 21:20). Yet, this apostle contexts the Christian messiah as just a symbol who is to lead people to God, but who is not to be worshiped.  This seems contrary to the Christian religion. Yet, we know this bold declaration is true because John makes it at the beginning of his book titled for his namesake – “John”.  Here he says,

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up” – John 3:14

To us today this statement seems confounding, but any Jew, back when this statement was made, would have known exactly what John was talking about.  He was making a Torah reference. For us, we will need to look at the place he was referencing – the book of Numbers. So, let us skip back over 1,400 years to understand “the snake” John was referring to.   

In Numbers 21:4-9 the Israelites are tromping through the desert engaged in their favorite pastime – “kvetching”,  which is yiddish for complaining. Here they were complaining about God, about Moses, they were even complaining about the food.  So is kvetching a bad thing? It is when you are making it about God. As Numbers 12, 16, Deuteronomy 9:7;and   Joshua 1:18 tells us, this is a sin because it equals challenging God. So, God sends poisonous snakes.  God always seems to get stuck sending destruction in one form or another to get His people back into the fold. He has done it in the form of famine (Ezekiel 14:21) , plague (Jeremiah 21:6, Ezekiel 33:27), war (Isaiah 13:4, Jeremiah 21:4-5, 32:5) captivity (Jeremiah 37:8-10, Lamentations 2:7) and here as snakes.  Yes, there are those that ponder why such a caring God would punish His people. However, being upset at punishment is comparative to getting mad a the traffic cop, instead of yourself for speeding.  Simply said, if Israel would not sin, than there would be no reason for ruin. Thus in Numbers 21, after the people were bit they went to Moses for a solution.  Moses then goes to God and God tells Moses to put a bronze snake on a stick.  When the people get bit they are to look upon the bronze snack and they would be healed.  So, did the actually bronze snake heal them – “no!”. It was God who had Moses create the snake and it was God that healed those whose sin brought them ruin.  So, did the people start doing the right thing and learn to rely directly on God? Not immediately. .

You see, around 700 BCE, King  Hezekiah finally destroyed Moses’ bronze snake on a stick (2 Kings 18:4). That is right, over 700 years later.  That means that Israel continued to revere this symbol for seven centuries. Was King Hezekiah a bad king for destroying this icon? No, Hezekiah was a good king, as quoted “He did what was right from Adonai’s perspective, following the example of everything David his ancestor had done” – 2 Kings 18:3.  In contrast, at the same time, King Hoshea controlled Northern Israel, and because of his and the northern tribes violation of the covenant, God allowed Assyria to take them captive.  Yet, all the while Hezekiah’s kingdom, in the south, was protective and prospered because of its devotion to the covenant. You see, Hezekiah’s removal of the snake and detractors seems to have invited a direct relationship with God.

The snake referred to in scripture was only a image that people looked upon to connect to God.  If we were to take another example from scripture we could use the tzitzit. The Torah states in Numbers 15:38: “Speak to the Children of Israel, and say to them, that they shall make themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and they shall put on the corner tassel a blue-violet (Tekhelet/tzitzit) thread.”. As for the “why” for tzitzits, the next verses explains it.  They are to be worn to remember God’s commandments and not to sin. But, what if somebody just wore the tzitzits thinking that act alone met God’s requirement? Meaning they didn’t follow the commandments, they kept sinning, they just felt wearing tassels exonerated them from guilt.  This would silly, kind of like valuing the messenger and not the message, which is a violation of the second commandment “You are to have no other gods before me” – Exodus 20:3.  This is the same as making the apostle’s boss a deity and minimizing the one true God.  We need to remember that Jesus’ deity was voted on 300 years after the apostles at the Council of Nicea 1 2 . In early Christianity he was only seen as a mortal prophet.  But, at Nicea the Roman Government needed their new religion prophet to be a deity to give it weight. For Rome it wasn’t hard to make a man a deity, even their Emperor was one. So, it is easy to understand how three centuries earlier John would have made Jesus out to be the pointer not the point.  It was because the early Christians saw Jesus as a great messenger, great but not immortal.

The bigger pictures is that the Tanakh (Old Testament) serves as a blueprint for our future.  As the prophets forecasted, there will be no other religions in the ending days. The whole world will simply worship the One God of Israel (Isaiah 2:11, Zechariah 3:9, 14:9) and His knowledge will fill the world (Isaiah 11:9, 52:10, Habakkuk 2:14).  In this paradise there will be a direct relationship to God and no reason for the bronze snake talked about in John 3.    

References:

  1. Whipps, Heather. “How the Council of Nicea Changed the World.” LiveScience. March 30, 2008. Accessed March 10, 2018. https://www.livescience.com/2410-council-nicea-changed-world.html.
  2. Did Constantine Invent the Divinity of Jesus?, Beliefnet, Inc, Accessed March 10, 2018.http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/christianity/2004/04/did-constantine-invent-the-divinity-of-jesus.aspx?p=2

 

True sacrifice for intentional sin.

Center for Tanakh Based Studies

By: William Jackson

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Contrary to popular belief, the Tabernacle and later the Temple sacrifice systems were not designed to forgive intentional sin.  Actually, the majority of the sacrifices would have been for those same things that we prayer for i.e. praising God, to become closer to Him, to express thanks to God, love or gratitude and celebrating the holidays and festivals 1.

Nonetheless, in this sacrifice system there were two areas that did deal will sin, the one was unintentional sin the other was the guilt sacrifice. Now unintentional sin didn’t mean a regrettable sin.  The Hebrew word used was “shegagah” and can mean error or mistake. So, the sin was literally a mistake.  If we looked at this in a modern-day analogy it would be the equivalency of you eating an unknown dish at a potluck just to find out later it had pork.  Another example would be if you cut the grass one morning only for your wife to remind you it is the Sabbath – “Oy Vey!”.  Conversely, unintentional sin is not when you cuss out a parent and blame it on losing your temper or any sin you just simply regret.

As for the other sin sacrifice, which is a “Guilt Offering”, this would be for crimes dealing with monetary theft.  The culprit would pay back the financial worth plus 20% and then make a guilt sacrifice (Leviticus 7:2).  This could be considered a sin offering, but only for some sins.  We need to remember that restitution for sins involving tangible theft are correctable, whereas most sins cannot be corrected, i.e. the debt can be paid back with the offender being penalized (20%). Conversely, if someone kills, betrays God or commits adultery there is no materialistic way to erase the crime.  In truth, by replacing something stolen and paying a penalty one has performed the final step of Teshuvah (repentance), which is restitution 2.  Sadly, most other intentional sins cannot be as easily resolved.

So, what about the other intentional sins?  For this there was no benefit of an animal sacrifice, the sinner would be cut off from the community.  As an example, here are a list of sins from the Torah that would have someone cut off:

  1. Not being circumcised (Genesis 17:14).
  2. Eating leavened bread during the week of unleavened bread (Exodus 12:15, 19).
  3. Replicating Holy Anointing Oil (Exodus 30:33, 38).
  4. Working on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:14).
  5. An unclean person eating a peace offering (Leviticus 7:20-21).
  6. Eating animal fat from an offering (Leviticus 7:25).
  7. Slaughtering without making it an offering (Leviticus 17:4).
  8. Giving an offering without going to the Tabernacle (Lev. 17:8).
  9. Eating blood (Leviticus 17:10, 14).
  10. Unwholesome sexual relationships (Leviticus 18:6-29, 20:5-6,17-18).
  11. Child sacrifices (Leviticus 18:21,29, 20:3).
  12. Eating a peace offering after the third day (Leviticus 19:5-8).
  13. Anyone who is unclean and handles anything Holy (Leviticus 22:1-3)
  14. Not denying yourself on Yom Kippur (Leviticus 23:28-30).
  15. Failing to observe Passover (Numbers 9:13).
  16. Touching a corps (Numbers 19:13).
  17. One who remains unclean (Numbers 19:20).

Although the Torah goes into painstaking detail about what one can be cut off for, it appears that any intentional violation of God’s ordinances would mean someone was cut off (Numbers 15). Also Numbers 15:22-31 is pretty clear between the differences of unintentional and intentional sin.  It indicates, unintentional sin requires an offering and intentional sin means being cut off.  This begs the next question, if someone is cut off, can they return?

Our first example is in Numbers 12, where we see Miriam gossiping about Moses’ wife, “the Cushite woman”. Not only is this in violation of Leviticus 19:16, but it infuriates God. Consequently, God gives Miriam leprosy thus making her unclean which causes her to be separated or cut off from her peeps. As we read, she did appear sincerely remorseful of her sin.  After serving the seven days in quarantine she was allowed to return to her people.  Then we have Korah, who about a year after Miriam’s momentary exile, led a rebellion against Moses for the Priesthood (Numbers 16).  For these actions Korah and his 250 were cut off, but not as nicely as the one week “time-out” that Miriam got. The ground literally open up and swallowed Korah and his posse.  So why such a difference in consequences?  It could be that Miriam’s sin was against humanity (against another human) whereas Korah and his followers sin was directly against God (It was God who established Aaron as the high priest –  Exodus 28:1).  Although some might say that all sins are equal, they are not.  The proof of this is illustrated in the Torah several times.  For example, saving lives (preservation of the 6th Commandment – Exodus 20:13) trump’s lying (violation of the 9th commandment – Exodus 20:16). Abraham lied to save his own life twice (Genesis 12:11-13, 20:11) and Isaac once (Genesis 27:7), even at one point Hebrew midwives were rewarded by God for lying to Pharaoh because they were saving the lives of Hebrew babies (Exodus 1:15-21).

Additionally, Miriam and Aaron appear regrettable about her sin possibly performing Teshuvah/Repentance.  Whereas Korah and his minion seem very indignant towards Moses who actually gives them opportunities to recant. So, it also appears to be the earnestness in repenting that allows someone to return.  This method of returning after being cut off is is further amplified by the Prophets:

Isaiah 1:27 Tziyon will be redeemed by justice; and those in her who repent, by righteousness.

Jeremiah 31:18 Yes, I turned away; but later I repented. When I had been made to understand, I struck my thigh in shame and remorse, bearing the weight of the disgrace acquired when I was young.’

Ezekiel 18:21 “However, if the wicked person repents of all the sins he committed, keeps my laws and does what is lawful and right; then he will certainly live, he will not die.

Conclusion:

Many are wrapped around the axle believing sin was absolved through animal sacrifice.  In fact, the entire Christian religion is based on this.  Their messiah took on the words sins in place of animal sacrifices by offering himself (John 1:29, Romans 3:25, 8:3, Hebrews 9:14-22, 1 Peter 1:18-21).  Sadly, if this were true, their messiah would have died for “unintentional” sins. This would equate to a crucifixion just because I mistakenly ate a sticky bun during the week of unleavened bread. Again, to crystallize our point, just look towards Nineveh.  In Jonah 3 Nineveh is saved not through sacrifices but repentance.  This was about 760 BCE at a time Temple sacrifices were being performed and seven centuries before Christianity.

References:

  1. Judaism 101: Qorbanot: Sacrifices and Offerings. Accessed February 15, 2018. http://www.jewfaq.org/qorbanot.htm.

 

  1. Rabbi Yehudah Prero, Teshuva – Four Steps to Greatness, Torah.org, Accessed February 16, 2018, https://torah.org/learning/yomtov-yomkippur-yksurvival2/