The Gospel, life and thorns … part 2
Continuing on, we were looking at Deuteronomy 4:1 and the connection Paul makes to our walk of faith.
“Now therefore hearken*, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them**, that ye may live***, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you.”
(*H8085 שָׁמַע shama` (shaw-mah’) v. to hear intelligently, often with implication of obedience. **H6213 עָשָׂה `asah (aw-saw’) v. to do or make, in the broadest sense to apply to daily life. *** H2421 חָיָה chayah (chaw-yaw’) v. 1. (literally or figuratively) to live. 2. (causatively) to revive. 3. (specially) to bring back to life (from the dead).
Who or what is Israel? First is the land of Israel, this is the land promised by YHVH to Abraham and his descendents. Many would argue that they are the blood relatives of Abraham only. We can witness this in the days of Yeshua.
John 8:30-37 King James Version (KJV)
As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house forever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
This is also discussed by Paul in Romans, and yes, Israel is a people group. Israel is anyone that worships, follows and loves YHVH.
Romans 9:6-8 King James Version (KJV)
“Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel; Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.”
God has warned the genetic line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob several times about their running away to follow other gods. This has been a problem all through the history of Israel.
Genesis 34 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land.
To “see” or to “visit” some of the local girls; the Hebrew word here for “see” is ra-ah, meaning “to participate, or explore, or to learn something intellectually”. Josephus says she went to join in with one of the many pagan feasts celebrated by the Hivites. “Hivite” is related to the Aramaic word “Khiv’va” (HVVA), meaning “snake”, and related to the word ‘awwiah in Galilee, meaning serpent. Baal’s worshipers appeased him by offering sacrifices, usually animals such as sheep or bulls (1 Kings 18:23). Some scholars believe that the Canaanites also sacrificed pigs and that God prohibited his people from eating pork in part to prevent this horrible cult from being established among them. At times of crisis, Baal’s followers sacrificed their children, apparently the firstborn of the community, to gain personal prosperity. Asherah was worshiped in various ways, including through ritual sex. Although she was believed to be Baal’s mother, she was also his mistress. Pagans practiced “sympathetic magic”, that is, they believed they could influence the gods’ actions by performing the behavior they wished the gods to demonstrate. Believing the sexual union of Baal and Asherah produced fertility, their worshipers engaged in immoral sex to cause the gods to join together, ensuring good harvests. This practice became the basis for religious prostitution (1 Kings 14:23-24). The priest or a male member of the community represented Baal. The priestess or a female members of the community represented Asherah. In this way, God’s incredible gift of sexuality was perverted to the most obscene public prostitution. The New Testament era brings the Greco-Roman leaders of the gods, Zeus (Jupiter to the Romans), took on the role of Baal, the god of weather or storms. Artemis, the goddess of childbirth and fertility, and Aphrodite, the goddess of love, continued the Asherah cults under a new name (Acts 19:35), but with worship practices that were as immoral as ever.
Look now at the warning from Ezekiel.
Ezekiel 20:10-25 “Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them. But I wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out. Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands; Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols. Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness. But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: I am the Lord your God; walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; And hallow my sabbaths; and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord your God. Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness. Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my name’s sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth. I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries; Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers’ idols. Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live”
What is the church today teaching? Adherence to the Torah in Obedience or Aversion to the “Law”? What does Paul teach in Romans?
Romans 9:30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness (following Torah), have attained to righteousness (starting to follow Torah), even the righteousness which is of faith.
31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness (living by Torah alone), hath not attained (came to faith) to the law of righteousness.
- They walked away from YHWH by denying Yeshua and following the works of the law in their own flesh and power) – Ezekiel 20:16 “Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols.”
32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; (They could not accept Yeshua: John 1:10-11 “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”