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Great to be back and the class was full of new faces! We had 14 men in class. Baruch HaShem!! The class audio has been posted. There is a link to what was handed to the men in class on the Resource page. This document will be updated each week.

Homework for next week is listed in the document. The reading assignment should take less than 40 minutes to read. Remember, we’re reading through the Apostolic Scriptures chronologically.

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It’s exciting to be back in the saddle. I must confess that the time off has been a blessing and a curse. Not having to prepare lessons has been wonderful and it gave me more time with my bride. However, the lack of accountability and aimless spiritual growth was not worth the price.

Our first class in over a year will be from 7:30pm to 9:00pm tomorrow night, November 1. We’re starting a little later in the evening to make it easier for everyone to get home from work. We will end promptly before anyone stays up too late to be their best the next morning.

Our first series for the year is a new study of the Apostolic Scriptures. We will be learning what each book has to offer, key phrases, and what the Scriptures teach us regarding halachah for non-Jews. Lesson Zero, the introduction, will be tomorrow night.

We will be recording the classes on Tuesday night and posting the audio to the podcast by Wednesday at lunch time. Our camera seems to be overheating, so until it’s replaced we will not be providing live video.

Is there a lesson to be learned during this Christmas season?

There are some people who have difficulty letting go of Christmas and all the traditions that follow. Once I began keeping the Torah I also had difficulty releasing my hold on some of the festive traditions I held tight since childhood. However, each ascending year I have removed myself further until this year I feel completely disassociated with Christmas. One may ask what is so wrong with Christmas? After all the reason for the season is Yeshua right? If that is the “real” reason for the season then why would we associate Messiah with idolatry and activities with pagan roots? A great article dealing with the issue of mixing between holy and secular is titled Why I don’t celebrate Christmas by Tim Hegg.

This year our Tzadik Class participated in a Christmas Quiz to test our knowledge of Messiah’s birth based on the text in scripture. It is astonishing how much of our knowledge of Messiah’s birth has been influenced by worldly traditions and embellishments from the media. The more I thought about the drastic difference between the text in scripture and my knowledge of the story the more I became aware of the trap we all encounter. Accepting an interpretation of scripture as truth. Everything I learned about Christmas was an interpretation of scripture and I lethargically accepted it as truth. How often do we listen to an interpretation of scripture without checking all the references, context, and the required cohesiveness with the Torah? The lesson we can learn this year is to abandon passivity and study the Bible for ourselves. HaShem certainly blesses people with wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. We should continually seek to learn from those around us, but weigh everything against the Torah and the literal text.

***Wow – great stuff from Segulah’s post!  I need to reveal that my replies are not solely my own work – good brothers came beside me to lend assistance***

Hey Brother,

I find the same word meanings that you have in Hebrews 8:13.  I have some thoughts listed below that I would like you to consider in order for your understanding of how someone reading this verse, with the correct meanings, could remain convinced that our Fathers love language – the demonstration of our love for Him – remains with the keeping of His commandments. (Proverbs 3:1, 4:4, 7:2; John 14:15, 15:10 and Ecclesiastes 12:13)

Peter said in so many words (2 Peter 3:15-16) that Paul is hard to understand…and this is coming from a guy who was living at the same time, lived within the culture, used the language and was familiar with the issues that the assemblies were experiencing. How much harder would it be for me to comprehend? The following passages (below) help me understand Paul’s letters as I keep what I read, within the boundaries of foundational scripture.  When I read something that appears to be contradictory – then I have to look further and be careful to remember that G-d does not change according to: 1 Samuel 15:29 (He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.) NIV and Malachi 3:6 (For I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.) ESV:

1)  Paul (or anyone else) cannot add nor take away from G-d’s word.  Deuteronomy 4:1-2 (And now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the rules that I am teaching you, and do them, that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you.) ESV

2)  Paul (or anyone else) cannot turn the people away from G-d’s commandments.  Deuteronomy 13:1-5 (If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the LORD your God is testing you, to know whether you love the LORD your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the LORD your G-d and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the LORD your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the LORD your G-d commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.) ESV

4)  Paul kept the Torah.  Acts 24:14-15 (But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the G-d of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in G-d, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust.) ESV and Acts 25:8 (Paul argued in his defense, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I committed any offense.) ESV

Now, when I read Hebrews 8:13, there definitely appears to be a contradiction to the passages above and many others that describe Paul’s actions (assuming that Paul wrote Hebrews) during his ministry if he is indeed proposing the idea that the Sinai covenant is obsolete.  In my studies in the past, I have looked at the letter to the Hebrews and remember that this letter is regarding the “The world to come”.  He states this in Hebrews 2:5 (Now it was not to angels that G-d subjected the world to come, of which we are speaking.)   The new covenant is not at this time in its fullness.  We know this by reviewing closely what is described in Ezekiel 36:24-38 below regarding the new covenant and what is the current situation in the world and how they do not mirror each other:

(“I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your G-d. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord G-D; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.
Thus says the Lord G-D: On the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be rebuilt. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, instead of being the desolation that it was in the sight of all who passed by. And they will say, ‘This land that was desolate has become like the Garden of Eden, and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are now fortified and inhabited. Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the LORD; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it. Thus says the Lord G-D: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock.  Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people.  Then they will know that I am the LORD.”) ESV

Here are some thoughts regarding covenants that I would like you to consider:

1)       Is the Torah a covenant?  The Torah was not the first covenant (Sinai Covenant).  The first covenant was the agreement by the children of Israel to do what G-d said. (See Exodus 19:5-6)
2)       What was at fault with the first covenant?  The commandments or the people who broke the commandments?  (Since the Torah is G-d’s eternal word – it could not be changed).  G-d changes the people by writing the Torah on their hearts (Ezekiel :26-27 above and Jeremiah 31:33) The new covenant is not a cancellation of the Torah or even a cancellation of the Sinai covenant…the people are changed and made able to fulfill the covenant….keeping His commandments.
3)       There are three things we learn from the story of the Gibeonites 2 Samuel 21:1-9:  Covenants are binding; Covenants are intergenerational; breaking a covenant has dire consequences and a broken covenant requires atonement.  G-d’s covenants are eternal and He built on them and improves on them.
4)       The new covenant is not a covenant with Christians or even Gentiles. Jeremiah 31:31 (Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah) ESV
5)       We as Christians only relate by covenant with G-d through being grafted into Israel (not through conversion)  Ephesians 2:12-13 (remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to 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.) ESV.

When I speak of keeping the commandments, it is not for the purpose of salvation…it is all about sanctification.  It is not a burden but rather a lighter yoke as a disciple of the Messiah through the help of the Holy Spirit.  Some will make statements such as “You are putting yourself back under the law”.  Paul uses the Greek word nomos to describe many different laws.  Let me please state for clarity that I am no longer under The Law of Sin and Death because of salvation through Messiah.

Thanks and talk soon, Your brother

Intro:
Several months ago I had the opportunity to have lunch with a dear friend of mine who I have known for over 12 years. Although our relationship started out as a family friendship it eventually led to our family attending their church – he is a pastor.

We were called out of the church about 3 ½ years ago to start an incredibly exciting journey which will not end – and actually seems like it only just began. I had recently been trying to share with him the truths that G-d had revealed to us over this short time by extending an invitation to attend a study in our home but he declined.

He did, however, accept an invitation to lunch to celebrate his birthday – as is our custom. I had intended to discuss, at least to some degree, our recent experiences and encourage him to look further and find the truth that has been covered from “our” eyes for nearly two thousand years. “G-d is calling His people back to Torah”….this most excellent news was answered with grave concern spread across his face. My friend’s concern was primarily regarding my relationship with Jesus Christ and I assured him that this was not a salvation issue but a sanctification issue.

He agreed to continue a discussion over email exchange as best that our schedules would allow…and so begins what I would like to share with you: “Thoughts from lunch”. This will be a short series of exchanges (there is a total of 2 emails from him and 2 responses from me) between the two of us that I have found challenging. I will post his emails for your review and practice on how you may have responded. Every few days I will post the next exchange.

Below (the first email) is my friend responding to my explanation of how we are to live out our faith.

Email Subject: Thoughts from lunch (#1)

“Hey Brother, Thank you for the lunch. I am glad we had a chance to share our hearts with one another. We are family in Jesus Christ. I was concerned, however, about some of your statements about the new covenant and what it means to live under the new covenant. My concerns come from the Book of Hebrews, especially Hebrews 8:6-13, Hebrews 9:10, and Hebrews 10:9-10. Hebrews 8:13 uses the word obsolete in the NKJV. In Strong’s Concordance it is number 3822 in the dictionary in the back. The word means to make or become worn out, to declare obsolete. That is a strong statement about the old covenant. We can talk more after you study it out. Thanks again for the lunch.”

Several folks have asked where we are getting the Apostolic Readings which are paired to the parsha and haftara each week. Greg Upham recommended, and we have been using the schedule provided by Flame Foundation.

Their website is http://flamefoundation.org, and the reading schedule is available directly here. It is a PDF which you can save to your computer, or print out.

Shalom!

by Kefa

When it comes to the issue of reputations, the visible church seems to take on a passive ‘ignorance is bliss’ mentality; they stress the power of the conscience, teaching the mass faction of approval-seeking teens that “it’s not important what others may think of you, as long as you know deep inside that you’re doing the right thing.” Although this behavior may battle ‘self-inconfidence’, it doesn’t line up with Scripture.

Solomon comments on the value of a good reputation at least twice in the Tanakh:

“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.”

Proverbs 22:1

“A good name is better than a good ointment…”

Ecclesiastes 7:1

I like to think that Solomon may have learned this the hard way; he certainly had wealth in abundance, as well as a good stock of valuable ointments (speculation). Perhaps his indiscreet amassing of wives or the preceding meddling with the Torah’s words earned him a very undesirable reputation (or at least among the women). Whether he wrote out of experience or through his G-d-given wisdom, Solomon’s words should not be taken lightly.

In the Apostolic Scriptures, Paul confirms Solomon’s wisdom when he pays for four other Nazarite Vow completion ceremonies.  Let’s look at the passage in Acts 21:

“They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law…

…The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.”

Acts 21:20-24,26

Even though Paul knew inside that he wasn’t teaching against the Torah, he chose to go through an expensive clearing of his reputation, rather than disregarding the circulating rumors.

But what is a reputation? Merriam-Webster defines reputation as ‘overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general’, but I think of our reputations as a long distance representation of the fruit of our walk in Messiah. Preserved carefully, a good reputation is a powerful weapon in the believer’s arsenal, while a single stain can hurl a devout life of Torah into a presentation of hypocrisy.

In the coming weeks, consciously protect your reputation by following Paul’s advice and live a pattern of good works:

Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

Titus 2:7

In the case that you are misrepresented, ardently pursue the clearing of your name, regardless of the cost, knowing with certainty that the value of a good reputation far surpasses that of silver and gold.

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