There is a children’s story about a Little Red Hen who worked diligently to feed her chicks and keep her house in order. One day she found some grain, which she decided to plant. She asked the other barnyard animals to help, but each of them refused for one reason or another. The same thing happened each time she asked for help in tending the plants, harvesting the wheat, taking it to the mill to grind into flour, and bake the flour into bread.
At the end of this lengthy process, as the Little Red Hen pulled the fresh bread hot from the oven, all of the animals came running to help her eat it. But before any of them could come near, she said, “Not one of you helped me plant the grain, nor tend it, nor harvest it; none of you helped me take it to the mill, and you did not help me bake it into bread. Why should I share the bread with you now? It is for my chicks and I, and we will eat it ourselves.” Whereupon she shut the door, leaving her neighbors to watch longingly as her family enjoyed the fruit of her labors.
This story contains a moral for Hebrews who are debating whether the commandment to go up to Jerusalem for the Feasts of YHVH applies to them. Quite simply, if we are to enjoy the benefits of a restored Temple of the Living God, and of the nation that will be restored around it, then we had best be doing all we can to help in the process now.
Stop and ponder this for a moment. Step back from the paradigm which says that the structure on top of Mount Moriah in Jerusalem is a “Jewish Temple”. It is indeed very Jewish in the sense that only Jews have bothered to rebuild, care for, worship in, pray toward, and long for the restoration of the Temple since the days of the Babylonian Conquest. For 2,500 years, all that has existed of Israel has been the Jewish people, descendants of the Kingdom of Judah. It is understandable and logical that the world and the Jewish people themselves believe that the Temple and everything associated with it and with the nation of Israel is now, has always been, and ever will be Jewish.
Yet that is not what Scripture says. And that gets to the central question in this Jerusalem Debate: Can the Temple be rebuilt by Judah alone, or is it a project that requires some measure of restoration of Israel’s Lost Tribes – the House of Joseph/Ephraim?
By Bob Parham
I understand that my responses to the Eleven Objections against going to Jerusalem for the Pilgrimage Feasts still leave some HUGE questions for every one that is still in the Diaspora.
What SHOULD we do? Do we still celebrate the feasts as though we were in Jerusalem? Should we not meet at all? Are we sinning if we do or don’t do the feasts outside of Jerusalem?
Wow, these are some major questions! I’m not sure that I have perfect answers for them, either. First and foremost, you need to take this to your Father and ask Him to reveal truth to you. Second of all, maybe I can give you some ideas to consider.
If I were still in America instead of being in The Land, I don’t think I would want to participate in a glorious celebration like I would if I were in The Land. I think:
- I wouldn’t have a big ‘production’ or pay a lot of money for a celebration elsewhere.
- If I were to meet with a group of people it would be to teach about the feasts and call the people to mourn, because we weren’t in Jerusalem where we should be.
The Jerusalem Debate – Objection Number 11: Paul sailed from Philippi AFTER the days of Unleavened Bread. Therefore he shows that we don’t need to go to Jerusalem for the feasts. | The Lamb’s Servant
Response by Bob Parham
The first thing that comes to my mind when I heard this objection was this: SINCE WHEN does the behavior of another believer dictate how I am to behave with respect to Yah’s clear commands? I am to look to Yeshua and His Word, not to man, for my instruction.
IF Paul didn’t go to Jerusalem, we know him well enough to believe that he had good reason. Perhaps he was directed by the Ruach (Holy Spirit) to stay out on the mission field. Perhaps he was dealing with his illness again and was unable to travel. The fact is, I have no way of knowing what his reasons might have been, nor do I have the right to judge him without that knowledge. NOR DO I HAVE THE OPTION OF BASING MY OBEDIENCE ON SUCH FLIMSY EVIDENCE. My only responsibility is to know Yah’s commands and obey them to the best of MY ability.
As we will see, the facts are that Paul never TAUGHT us to abandon the Feasts (we have to INFER it from scattered verses taken out of context), but instead he DID teach us by his own example and by his writings that we should observe them.
The eleventh objection is taken from Acts 20. Let’s take a look at the verses in question.
Acts 20:1-6 – (1) After the uproar had ceased, Paul sent for the disciples, and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of them, he left to go to Macedonia. (2) When he had gone through those districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece. (3) And there he spent three months, and when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. (4) And he was accompanied by Sopater of Berea, the son of Pyrrhus, and by Aristarchus and Secundus of the Thessalonians, and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus of Asia. (5) But these had gone on ahead and were waiting for us at Troas. (6) We sailed from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and came to them at Troas within five days; and there we stayed seven days.
Something that believers often miss here is that the writer uses the Feast Calendar to measure time – something he would do only if he and his readers were observing the feasts. If they had abandoned the feasts, HE would have abandoned using them as a measurement of time. He would have used a term more familiar to his non-feast-familiar readers. Since he measures time by the feasts, we can be sure that he and his readers (including Paul) WERE observing them to the best of their ability.
These verses can, however, leave us with a few questions.
- Did Paul go to Jerusalem for Unleavened Bread?
- If so, why wasn’t he sailing from Jerusalem instead of Philippi?
- Did he skip the feast of Unleavened Bread during this missionary trip? If so, Why?
Response by Bob Parham
So far, reasons 1 and 2 are facts: There is no temple and there is no peace with Israel’s enemies. Objection Number 3 is an indisputable fact, too. The Land is (and has been) defiled. But a couple of really good questions would be: “When did the land become defiled?” and “Has the Land’s defilement ever made a difference in Yah’s expectations that we would obey His commands?”
When did the land become defiled? Obviously it was defiled before the Israelites ever entered it. (Yet they DID enter it.)
Leviticus 18 – (25) And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. (26) Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (27) (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled.)
It is clear that the Land had been defiled as early as the book of Leviticus. I believe that Scripture would prove it out that the Land has continued to be defiled through the time of the Prophets, through the time of Yeshua, and even up to today!
Jeremiah 2 – (7) I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land.
Jeremiah 3 – (8) And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. (9) And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. (10) And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord.
And a second very important question would be: “Because the land has pretty much always been defiled, did that cause the commands concerning the pilgrimage feasts to end as quickly as they were given?”
When Yeshua was in Jerusalem, was the land defiled? YES!
When He went to the temple, was it defiled? YES!
Matthew 21 – (12) Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. (13) “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’ (14) The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.
Yeshua walked right over, through and past the defilement to complete His mission.
Aren’t we told to walk as He walked? (1 John 2:6)
Yeshua understood that the land being defiled (or even the Temple being defiled) has never had the POWER to change or end YAH‘s commands! Remember Yah’s promise to Solomon that Yah’s heart and eyes would be there forever?
1 Kings 9:3 – And YHWH said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house [the Temple], which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
2 Kings 21:7 – … in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: (See 1 Kings 11:36, etc)
2 Chron 33:4 – . . . YHWH had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever.
It strikes me as rather odd (not to mention illogical) that the very same people who believe we should NOT observe the feasts in Jerusalem ‘because the land is defiled’ or because Israel’s government is ‘satanic’ WILL observe the feasts in countries like the USA that regularly and even proudly defy YHWH and His Torah.
FOR EXAMPLE, here in Aqaba, Jordan, do you know what the Muslim people were doing just before the feast of Sukkot? They were making animal sacrifices all over Jordan – in their yards or driveways – while facing Mecca. According to Torah, the people in this land were participating in sacrifices to goat demons when they sacrificed anywhere they wanted! (Lev 17:7) Surely this would and did defile the land, right?
Or how about the U.S., where a baby is aborted every 26 seconds (over a million American babies every year), and as hazardous waste, the babies are literally passed through the fire, just as the children were passed through the fire to Molech in the Bible. Surely this defiles the land there, as well.
In Jerusalem, on the other hand, almost the entire city is shut down in observance of each Feast and Shabbat, and the people quite literally dance in the streets in joy because they are free to worship the Living God in His Own City!
May we be like our King Yeshua, who walked right over, through and past the defilement to complete His mission: the loving and obedient worship of the Father and the unity of the brethren.
When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. John 15:10 NLT
© Bob Parham, Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, 2016. Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Lamb’s Servant Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, as well as to the original author (in this case Bob Parham) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
One of the most significant developments in the Hebrew Roots movement this past year has is the production of a movie that explains this phenomenon. Those who have seen The Way: A Documentary know that it is a quality production that imparts an entertaining, moving, and reasonably balanced presentation of the Torah Awakening among Christians. This debut work by young filmmakers Luke and Kayte Abaffy has had an expanding impact since its release in August 2016, and likely will receive international attention thanks to a recent screening at the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress in Israel.
In this article, originally published in Torah Sisters Magazine, producer Kayte Abaffy shares her experience and idea on how to present this Torah walk to the people we care about the most – and who often are not very receptive to this message. Perhaps it is not the message that is the problem, but the manner and timing of the presentation. That is a central point Kayte makes in this honest and delightful piece.
Originally published on Torah Sisters Magazine
Two years ago, I was driving on the Paciﬁc Coast Highway with my husband, sparkling blue ocean to our left and golden mountains to our right, coming home to Los Angeles from a transformative conference in San Diego. Torah keepers had gathered for a weekend of learning stuff and worshipping and hanging out by the pool till 2am sharing our stories. And that weekend wasn’t just an awesome conference – it was the start of us ﬁlming for The Way documentary, and our ﬁrst real deep dive into the experiences of people walking in The Way.
Even after we’d only interviewed our ﬁrst handful of people, something had already become clear: sharing your new walk with friends and family is … well … a thing. When we asked interview subjects how people reacted to their new walk (siblings, children, spouses, parents, pastors, lifelong friends), lots of interesting body language things would happen – eyes would well up with tears or dart to the ﬂoor, or there’d be a great big sigh, or laughter, or a look of searching for the right words to make a tough situation sound positive.
Of course, some people’s families or friends had taken instant interest, or tried hard to understand what their loved one was learning in the Word. And some even quickly came to the same understanding. But for lots of others, the reactions ranged from cold shoulders to confusion, awkwardness to outright hostility.
So how do you share your walk (and enthusiasm for the Torah) with people you love, when there seems to be so much baggage surrounding a conversation that hasn’t even begun yet?
One thought that’s really helped me is to make the fruit of your life available to people who’re actually hungry. Trees that throw their apples at people are scary, like in The Wizard of Oz. But in life, a person walks by and picks an apple from the tree when they’re hungry.
So often we try to jam a feast down the throat of a person who’s perfectly full. And then we’re frustrated when they don’t receive it and wonder why they resent us. But God works with hunger. And we should too. Remember what Yeshua said? “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be ﬁlled.” It’s hard to convince someone of how great the solution you’ve found is, when they don’t even think there’s a problem. But the great news is that there are plenty of hungry people out there, we just need to be there to minister to them!
Here are a few other ideas I’ve come up with to share Yeshua and your walk with others, as I’ve marinated on this question over the last two years:
Israel 2016: Family In Twelve Languages – The Conclusion of the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress
In some ways the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress was actually the Second First B’ney Yosef National Congress. This emerging people of the House of Joseph (Yosef) is still a long way from transacting business as one would expect from cohesive people groups such as the Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians, Lakota, Navajo, or Ibo. We still have much to discover about ourselves and much historical division to overcome before we can speak with a unified voice. Nevertheless, the seeds have been sown, both in the First Congress and in this Second Congress. The fruit is not yet ready, but it is becoming recognizable as fruit, and that in itself is a major step forward.
My earlier report on the first half of the Congress (see Picking Up Where We Left Off: A Report on the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress) covered most of the formal business on the schedule. When we arrived at Shabbat on the evening of Friday, October 28, we had already heard from visionaries and scholars such as Iris Bouwman, Ron Campbell, and Ephraim Frank. They focused us on:
- Our identity as the returning children of Yosef/Ephraim
- Our hope in restoration by YHVH and reunification with our brethren of Judah
- Our responsibilities in moving with the Almighty as He directs and empowers this process.
What happened over the next two days did not bring anything new or different, but instead imparted greater depth to what we had already heard and shared.
The formal meetings on Shabbat did not commence until late in the afternoon. As with any such gathering, the real business took place not in the formal presentations, but in the quiet conversations among two or three huddled in the common room, or sitting at table for a meal. It seemed that these informal meetings took on a heightened importance during and after Shabbat. After breakfast, many delegates gathered to read the Torah portion Beresheet (In the Beginning), another simple activity which enhanced the bonding already taking place among these diverse Ephraimites from so many different places and cultures. Others who did not participate in the Torah reading continued in quiet relationship-building conversation, or in private prayer and Bible study. All partook of considerable rest during the day, the feature of Shabbat which has become precious to us all.
Shabbat (Sabbath) in a Jewish community in Israel is different from Shabbat at home in America. What we have experienced in Israel may be similar to what one would encounter in an American Jewish community, but it is new to us. We non-Jewish Sabbath keepers, even those of us who have been keeping Shabbat for many years, are still finding our way. What we know is that Messiah Yeshua kept it, that He taught His disciples to continue obeying the commandments, and that we want to do as He did because we love Him so much.
Our Christian traditions have forbidden us from keeping Shabbat ever since the days of Emperor Constantine, and many of the Jewish traditions seem to make Shabbat incomprehensibly complicated. Even so, we know that Shabbat is a bubble in time which occurs once in seven days. When we enter that bubble, we come into a place where YHVH is waiting. America continues at its frenetic pace around us, with its Saturday football games, festivals, work opportunities, soccer matches, and all the myriad other things we deemed important for much of our lives. For us that world drifts into the shadows as we turn our attention inward toward home, family, gathering with friends, and meeting with the holy, loving, and kind God Who has invited us to be still and know that He is indeed God.
This is not to say that our Shabbat observance is perfect. We live in a world where Shabbat is not even a word most people recognize, nor a concept they understand. We juggle our schedules as best we can to avoid any normal business, work, travel, or other things which keep us from this divine appointment. That in itself strains relationships with family and friends who do not esteem the day as we do. Then there are the constant temptations to bend the rules: to finish that one last bit of work just after the sun sets, or to check up on the scores when our favorite teams are playing, or to compromise by meeting our non-Shabbat-keeping family at a restaurant early on Saturday evening. We do our best not to be legalistic, but to manage these competing requirements of life in Babylon while obeying our King.
This is where we begin to identify with our Jewish brethren. They have been living this balancing act for millennia, and it is logical that we look to them for inspiration. Thus we have come to Gi’vat Ye’arim, not even knowing that we have come here for reasons the Almighty had determined before we even heard of the place.
Jesus was perhaps the greatest Torah teacher of his day.
Think about that for a moment. We do not often consider the fact that Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus Christ) taught from the Torah, and that he was recognized by Jewish leaders as a great teacher. It began in his youth, when at the age of 12 he astounded the doctors of the Law (Torah) in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52). When he entered into public ministry, the teacher of Israel himself came to inquire of Yeshua about spiritual matters (John 3:1-21). His greatest oration, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29), was in fact an extensive midrash on the Torah and its application in daily life. That is why Yeshua stated early in that sermon that he had not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it – meaning to teach it correctly and live out its full meaning (Matthew 5:17-20).
This should lead us to the conclusion the Torah was given not only to the Jews, but to all of God’s people. In fact, the Torah applies to every person on earth, or at least it will when Messiah reigns from Jerusalem. How else are we to understand such passages as this one from Isaiah?
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. (Isaiah 2:2-4 NKJV, emphasis added)
Notice the key to Isaiah’s oft-quoted prophecy: universal peace does not happen until after the nations of the earth submit to the judgment of YHVH’s Messiah and learn and obey the Law (Torah) which he shall teach.
In recent days my friend Pete Rambo and I have enjoyed a lively email exchange with a Jewish brother. By this time we have identified many of the key differences in our beliefs and the ways we perceive the world. I think it is safe to say we are confident enough in our relationship that we can ask some pointed questions without fear of alienating one another. The good thing is that we are all curious about what we believe, and we genuinely want to know how we each perceive the world. This has been eye-opening on all sides. I have learned that some of the things I thought I knew about Jews and Judaism were not quite right, just as our friend has learned that some of the things he thought he knew about Christians and Messianic believers were not quite right. This is the kind of dialogue that is essential if we are to come to an understanding of one another and begin to cooperate in bringing Messiah and building his kingdom.
What I share here is a response provided to our friend in answer to two questions. The first concerned our celebration of Passover (Pesach) – as in, why do non-Jews celebrate the Feast, and how do we do it? The second question involved our description of ourselves as something other than Christian. In other words, how is it that we believe in Yeshua, or Jesus, as Messiah, but do not consider ourselves Christians (or at least traditional Christians). In the interest of building mutual understanding, here are my answers to those questions.
This year we participated in a Passover seder with friends in Austin, TX, just as we have done for the last three years. All of our friends have come out of the traditional church, but all embrace Yeshua as Messiah and have a heart to learn and live the Torah as he taught it. This year we had ten people around the table, including our youngest daughter. Although she is 22 and about to graduate from the University of Texas, she was still the youngest person there, and it fell to her to ask the traditional questions.
We used a Messianic haggadah from Lion and Lamb Ministries. In years past we have produced a haggadah of our own, but it’s easier to take one from a source we appreciate and modify as we go along. That’s precisely what we did. Since none of us grew up Jewish, we do not know the traditional songs and sayings and prayers. However, we know enough to see where the traditions of Judaism mesh with what we have learned about Yeshua as our Messiah. That is why we are comfortable taking a traditional Jewish seder and inserting Messianic and Christian elements. For example, although we sang a chorus of “Dayeinu”, most of our songs were Christian hymns celebrating the death and resurrection of Yeshua as our Passover Lamb. We had the four cups of wine and we said the traditional prayers in Hebrew (since my wife and I have studied the most, we got to lead the prayers), but we did leave out a few things (such as horseradish – much to my chagrin since I like horseradish).