Black Mirror

"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; Then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known." I Corinthians 13:12

In this life, the most difficult thing to face is not G-d, but ourselves. We will look in any other direction, for any amount of time, rather than spend one minute looking within. It's nearly impossible to look upon ourselves, illuminated by G-d, who reveals the things about us that we would never be able, or choose, to see on our own. He is able to show us more about ourselves than we could ever want to know because, having created every single one of us, He knows us completely. Not in the way we know ourselves, which is in part. He fully knows us.



Father, blind me. Take my sight. Remove these scales I've called eyes. Cause me to see Your creation as You see it. Make me to stare, focus and wince at the things You do. Let the only light that enters my eyes be Your own. Let it fall on my face like rain. Let it illuminate going in and reflect going out. And let me see the world to be.

Father, deafen me. Fill my ears with the sound of the shofar, the voice of many waters, rocks crying out, and Your call, with which You wake the dead. Withhold from me frequencies that interfere with Your own and render me deaf to the gentle beckoning of those outside Your path. Let me hear Your cry for Your sons and daughters in a way that I will not forget.


Hurry, my Redeemer!

Hasten, O Friend divine, to Your House serene. We may have strayed from the right path, but we have paid the price in every type of pain. You L-rd are our defense and hope. Each day we wait for Your grace to redeem us and make us a watered garden.

Hasten, O Friend, to our sacred temple. Our sins have mounted high, but see us bound in chains. You are our Holy Redeemer. To You we bring our earnest plea to turn to us in favor and make us free.


Hurry, my Love!

Hasten, O Friend divine, to the city of Your presence. Though we have broken Your covenant, return in mercy to the temple of Your love. Fulfill the promise of deliverance. Renew Your city in joy. Make her an object of rejoicing once again.

Hasten, O Friend, to Your temple of peace. Though we have strayed from Your path, look upon us with favor and help a people afflicted and harassed. Make an end to anger. Shelter them beneath the wings of Your love.


Hurry, Friend!

Hasten, O Friend divine, the time of our love's renewal. Return to us in mercy. The wicked kings of the heathen lands have all but consumed us. Uproot and destroy them from our midst. Restore Your city and make us a people of song again. May the hour of our Redeemer draw near.

Hasten, O Friend, the time of redemption promised by the prophets. Lift from us the darkening shadows. Raise up and exalt a people that have long known insult and bestow on them wisdom, to teach and to cleanse the many nations. Reveal Your saving might. Proclaim the hour of redemption.


Ha Achor

In the previous post, Ha Ayin ("the eye"), we looked at a few of the amazing events in the lives of Avraham and Yakov. These were life-changing (and name changing) encounters with G-d. As we've seen, the text is clear that these instances are not like Enoch "walking" with G-d, Adam hearing the "voice of G-d walking", or G-d appearing as a pillar of cloud. Rather these are physical, tangible manifestations of Adonai where He ate, spoke plainly, and even wrestled - all without smoke, fire, lightning, sounds of rushing water, or wheels within wheels - as everyday as hanging out with the Creator of time-space can be. We, therefore, have every reason to believe that G-d is able to manifest Himself any way that he likes and, in times past, on multiple occasions, He chose to appear in bodily form. But don't take my word for it.

In today's post, Ha Achor ("the back"), we'll explore a few passages from the incredible life of Moshe. G-d seems to have genuinely enjoyed astounding Moshe with His amazing power. The miracles G-d wrought before Moshe's eyes are well-worn territory and fairly common knowledge, even among non-believers. But, with all that is commonly known and has been discussed for centuries concerning Moshe's life, it's surprising to still hear claims that G-d is completely incorporeal. As we'll see, this couldn't be further from the truth.


Ha Ayin

As I offered in yesterday's post, Ha Yamin ("the right hand"), G-d longs to be with us. He chose to fulfill that desire (and His plan for our redemption) by manifesting Himself physically, in our dimension and in our form. Today, I'd like to expand on that idea and show that His appearing in the form of a man in the Brit Chadasha, was not an isolated instance. There are a great many who are unable to accept the idea of G-d taking the form of a man, namely Yeshua of Nazareth, because of their understanding that G-d is simply unable to do so. Can you blame them? G-d has no body, right?  Even if He did, in Exodus 33:20, G-d tells Moshe that he couldn't see Him and live. What's going on here exactly? Let's look at some occurrences of G-d revealing Himself to men in the Tanakh and see what we find. I don't intend this to be exhaustive, but there are just a few passages I'd like to point out. We'll start with Avraham, as his seems a fitting beginning, only here, he is still Avram for a moment.


Ha Yamin

Of G-d's many unfathomable attributes, there is one which we can surely comprehend. His desire to walk among us is unwavering. He longs to be with us every moment of our lives - to lovingly guide us in His paths - not to restrict us, as we've come to understand restriction, but to protect and provide for us. This desire consumes Him and it always has - so much so, that He gave up absolutely everything that He is, as incalculable as that may be, to take on our form, our frailty, and fellowship with us face to face. He chose to reduce and restrict Himself so that we might be increased and given liberty. Liberty from slavery (physically and spiritually), liberty from not knowing the One who created us, liberty from a future void of mercy, from a destiny without promises, and from a life without hope.


Dear Church

This is a call to the Church, those that would call themselves disciples of The Master, those who do not want to be ashamed at His appearing.


Pure Golda

In light of today's troubling events, I'd like to turn the blog over to Golda Meir - one of Israel's founders, its fourth Prime Minister, and an absolutely amazing woman.

"How can we return the held territories? There is nobody to return them to." - news reports, 3.8.69

"There were no such thing as Palestinians. When was there an independent Palestinian people with a Palestinian state? It was either southern Syria before the First World War, and then it was a Palestine including Jordan. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist." - Sunday Times 6.15.69 & The Washington Post 6.16.69 

"Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us." - to the Washington Press Club, Washington DC, 1959

"We don’t thrive on military acts. We do them because we have to, and thank G-d we are efficient." - Vogue Magazine, 1969 

"This country exists as the fulfillment of a promise made by G-d Himself. It would be ridiculous to ask it to account for its legitimacy." - Le Monde, 10.15.71


Today's Special

We are commanded to be salt and light. We are told that if we have become ineffectual, like salt that has lost it's savor, we're good for little more than to be trampled underfoot. We are commanded to reveal our light before men - not conceal it - and to be cities atop hills, illuminating the shadowy valleys below. I want to do that - and I want to learn from others that are doing it - it's why I'm here. Unfortunately, many don't share this sentiment (and a few of them have internet access) so I took my e-mail off my profile. As much as I'd prefer that folks post in the comment section (so that we all might learn something from it), some insist on "questioning" me privately. Few of these things are in the form of questions, though. Still others post comments only to delete them a few hours later. Why would you do that? Thing is, I would still relish it if they were actually seeking a discussion, but it's less enjoyable if they just envision themselves as part (or head) of some theological task force. For the sake of the light, I'd like to take just a minute to address a common misconception that stems from that centuries-long slow drift that needs to be cleared up. I'll make it brief.


Repeat after Ruth

"Do not urge me to leave you or to turn back from following you. For wherever you go, I will go. And wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people and your G-d will be my G-d. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the L-rd do this to me, and even more, if anything but death should ever separate you and me."

~ Ruth, the Moabitess to Naomi, her Jewish mother-in-law (Ruth 1:16-17)


The Feast (at least).

Then everyone who survives, of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem, will go up year after year to worship the King, the L-RD of hosts, and to celebrate Sukkot. Any of the families of earth that will not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the L-RD of hosts, will have no rain fall on their land. And if a family of Egypt does not go up to present themselves, on them no rain will fall and the L-RD will afflict them (and all the nations that do not go up to keep the festival) with a plague. This will be the punishment to Egypt, and all the nations which do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.  Zechariah 14:16-19

What explanation will be given, and what else, if anything, will it take for the nations to finally understand that they are to obey G-d's instructions? Here, they've just finished (and failed at) their attempt to annihilate Israel, and now find themselves journeying to the New Jerusalem to present themselves before their newly (at last, visibly) enthroned King - the most astonishing, most ironic event of all time.


Shabbat chat (pt.3)

We have clearly seen from the first 2 parts of Shabbat chat that the Catholic Church, by its own admission, is completely responsible for attempting (and succeeding in the minds of many Gentile believers) to alter the scriptural day of rest and reverence to G-d from the seventh day of the week to the first. There is absolutely no scriptural basis and no precedent in the lives or teachings of Messiah Yeshua, the disciples, or apostles, for this change - quite the opposite, actually. This grossly, potent error was completely contrived by an organization (more accurately, a man - Constantine) seeking to bring more people into the Catholic (meaning: universal) fold by enabling them to retain their idolatrous practices (in this case, the worship of their gods, such as Sol Invictus, on the day of the sun - Sunday). This type of imagined authority still manifests itself in the Catholic Church today, but surprisingly, even more so in many types of Protestant churches. When many of today's churches are confronted by doctrinal (or social) issues that seem to threaten church growth (or the general acceptance of outsiders viewed as potential adherents), long-held beliefs are subject to immediate revision, or "modernization", in an attempt to make them more palatable to the party of interest. Nearly always, this happens at the expense of biblical truth. Most denominational fractures owe their occurrence to nothing more than this phenomenon - where centuries of errant teaching have caused many to soften in their convictions and compromise the Word of G-d at the first sign of tension, imagined or otherwise.


Shabbat chat (pt.2)

Here are some really interesting quotes from Roman Catholic scholars concerning the keeping of Shabbat that contradict, or otherwise further confuse, the views that we looked at yesterday.

1) "Protestants who accept the Bible as the only rule of faith and religion, should by all means go back to the observance of the Sabbath. The fact that they do not, but on the contrary observe Sunday, stultifies them in the eyes of every thinking man.  We Catholics do not accept the Bible as the only rule of faith.  Besides the Bible we have the authority of the Church, as a rule to guide us... We accept her change of the Sabbath to Sunday... It is always somewhat laughable, to see Protestant churches, in pulpit and legislation, demand the observance of Sunday, for which there is nothing in their Bible."
Peter Kraemer, Catholic Church Extension Society 1975

2) "You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify." 
James Cardinal Gibbons, "Faith of Our Fathers" 1917

3) "Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that worship should be changed from Saturday to Sunday. Now the Church instituted, by God’s authority, Sunday as the day of worship. This same Church, by the same divine authority, taught the doctrine of Purgatory long before the Bible (New Testament) was made.  We have, therefore, the same authority for Purgatory as we have for Sunday." 
Martin Scott, "Things Catholics are Asked About" 1927 


Shabbat chat (pt.1)

I've gone back and forth today on how to present these first few thoughts - even which ones to present. Unfortunately, there are so many. They're not my own and, before I type a word, I hope it's obvious that I take issue with all five. I wanted to explain a little background, maybe compare them with various scripture, but finally decided it would be best to present them the same way I first came across them, which was with no accompaniment at all - just a healthy dose of Roman arrogance.

1) "Every Sabbath, on account of the burial of Jesus, is to be regarded in denunciation of the Jews. In fact, it is not proper to observe, because of Jewish customs, the consumption of food and the ceremonies of the Jews."
Pope Sylvester - 314-335 CE

2) "Let us then have nothing in common with the Jews, who are our adversaries... avoiding all participation in the false conduct of the Jews."
Constantine, Council of Nicaea - 325 CE

3) "Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday, the Sabbath, but shall work on that day. But the Lord's day (Sunday) they shall especially honor, and as being Christians, shall if possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut out from Christ."
Canon 29, Council of Laodicea - 364 CE

4) "All things whatsoever it was the duty to do on the Sabbath, these we have transferred to the Lord's day (Sunday)... because it is more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath."
Eusebius of Caesarea - 4th Century

5) "The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday."
The Catholic Mirror - September 23, 1893

In closing, someone actually qualified to decide what day Shabbat is to be observed once said:

"If you hold back your foot on Shabbat from pursuing your own interests on my holy day; If you call Shabbat a delight, Adonai's holy day, worth honoring; then honor it by not doing your usual things or pursuing your interests or speaking about them. If you do, you will find delight in Adonai. I will make you ride on the heights of the land and feed you with the heritage of your ancestor, Yakov, for the mouth of Adonai has spoken." 
Isaiah 58:13-14


Beit Tefilah

"And the foreigners who join themselves to Adonai to serve Him, to love the name of Adonai, and to be his workers, all who keep Shabbat and do not profane it, and hold fast to My covenant, I will bring them to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My Beit Tefilah (house of prayer)... for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations."
Isaiah 56:6-7

In this season, as we anxiously await the giving of Torah (and the outpouring of the Ruach Ha Kodesh), G-d has put it on my heart to circle back and re-examine a few things I may have only lightly studied over the years. Recently, I've been digging around in centuries-old thought on both sides of the Body and one important topic continues to surface - Shabbat, the Sabbath. Its meaning, keeping, altering and ignoring have been continually present, no matter the larger topic being discussed. It seems that a great many things might stem from our understanding of one of the most misunderstood commandments. The scripture from Isaiah (above) is but one example of how Shabbat observance is viewed as an outstanding qualifier, so to speak, by G-d Himself. Why is it so important? Can it be observed any day of the week? Believing our understanding of Shabbat to be foundational to our walk and accurate view of Torah, I'd like to highlight a few different things for us to discuss over the next day or so. I hope you will join me.


The Pursuit

The Messiah of Israel, Yeshua, sought after the righteousness of Torah more than anyone before Him and more than anyone since. The Savior and Redeemer of mankind pursued righteousness and captured it. He embodied it, so it was never actually out of His reach, but He had to be "tested in all ways as we are". His humanity needed to be fitted with, and embrace the yoke of obedience to G-d - and scripture tells us that He did all this to absolute perfection. We are His disciples - a term lost to most in today’s self-serving culture. We are to emulate His halakha to exacting precision. We are to think as He thought, speak as He spoke, walk as He walked, where, when and how - without exception and in power. He laid down His perfectly righteous life (righteous by what standard? by the Torah, of course) so that we could be empowered to walk righteously before G-d. He laid it down so that He could brutally and completely destroy any and every thing that could keep us from doing just that - sin, death, destruction, lethargy, discouragement, apathy, unbelief. He has pursued us with all the tenacity He pursued righteousness. He will live, think, breath, walk, obey, perform, heal, teach, crucify the flesh and love through us! He will raise us to newness of life and (one day) physically resurrect us to Himself through Himself!


The Greatest Obstacle

"The greatest obstacle to understanding the Bible is thinking that you already do."
~ Ian Young


Great Expectations 2

"Prepare the way! The King Messiah comes... may the mountains abase themselves, may the valleys be filled, may the cedars incline to render him homage. Prostrate yourselves all of you before the Messiah King, and bend your knees before him who is seated at the right hand of the Holy One."  Zohar I. 4b

"Our Rabbis taught: during the last forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the lot for the L-rd (on Yom Kippur) did not come up in the right hand; nor did the crimson-colored strap become white (on the neck of the scapegoat); nor did the western-most light shine; and the doors of the Hekal (Temple) would open by themselves."  Babylonian Talmud, Yoma, 39b


“And let not your imagination give you hope that the grave will be a place of refuge for you; for by force you were formed, and by force you were born, and by force you live, and by force you die, and by force you will in the Hereafter have to give account and reckoning before the supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He.”  Talmud, Pirke Aboth 4:29


Great Expectations

Let's examine just some of the many Messianic prophecies (hidden in plain sight) within various rabbinic texts. How closely do these ancient expectations align with what we see in those of the Tanakh and Brit Chadasha concerning the Messiah of Israel?

"The heavens and the earth will listen to His Messiah, and none therein will stray from the commandments of the holy ones. Seekers of the L-rd, strengthen yourselves in His service! All you hopeful in your heart, will you not find the L-rd in this? For the L-rd will consider the pious and call the righteous by name. Over the poor His spirit will hover and will renew the faithful with His power. And He will glorify the pious on the throne of the eternal Kingdom. He who liberates the captives, restores sight to the blind, and straightens the bent." 4Q521, Dead Sea Scrolls 

"In the generation when Messiah comes, young men will insult the old, and old men will stand before the young, giving them honor; daughters will rise up against their mothers, and daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law. The people shall be dog-faced, and a son will not be abashed in his father's presence. In the generation of Messiah's coming impudence will increase, esteem will be perverted, the vine yield its fruit, yet shall wine be dear, and the Kingdom will be converted to heresy with none to rebuke them. The son of David will not come until the whole world is converted to the belief of the heretics." from the Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 97a


Manners and Men

The manner in which we are to walk out our faith with G-d is not for us to decide. When it comes right down to it, we'll always take the path of least resistance, blur the lines, become politically correct, fatally inclusive or, somehow, just mess it all up. Sadly, there are far too many examples of well-meaning denominations that have done this very thing to even mention. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we could easily reflect on how Church history is rife with examples of man's inability to do what he ought - to love our neighbor as ourselves. Because of the tendencies of our very weak flesh, G-d has provided numerous, solid examples of those we are to pattern our lives after (namely Messiah Yeshua, the disciples & the apostles). They lived out their lives in ways we are to emulate - ways that are completely contrary to how the majority of (modern) believers currently live. I want to mention just a few examples in order to make my point. I'll confine my references to the book of Acts - a foundation of modern teaching & practice - and to the life of Shaul (Paul). Though, to be sure, there are many more, sometimes less obvious examples found throughout scripture from which we could learn.


I do.

Observance of Torah for the believer in Yeshua has never been about obtaining salvation for ourselves. Yeshua has completely accomplished that. It is finished. As a sign and symbol of our acceptance of Him as our Messiah, we obey His teachings. He taught from the entire Word of G-d, so to walk in His ways, is to walk in obedience to the entirety of scripture. He is the Word - the living, breathing, healing, sustaining, teaching, loving, resurrecting Word of G-d. This relationship, this agreement is not co-authored by us. G-d did not ask, nor consider, what we thought would be best to include in it or remove from it. He knows better. He created His own offer and wrote it in His own innocent blood. In a way, it really has little to do with us, other than the obvious fact that we are free to either accept or decline it. We are not free to rewrite, revise or renegotiate it any way, however.