Hebrews 6:1-3 “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.”
Paul is making a serious statement of accusation against the “chosen” here. The people Paul is addressing are those that have grown up their entire lives knowing what it is that God wants from his people. They have been instructed in the Word and have centered their entire existence around the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. With some minor exceptions.
When we read the history of the people we see a constant ebb and flow of attitudes. Some of the generations were focused on God and some weren’t. Same with the leadership of the people.
- Jeremiah 3:22 “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.”
- Nehemiah 1:7-9 “We have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the judgments, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses. Remember, I beseech thee, the word that thou commandedst thy servant Moses, saying, If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations: But if ye turn unto me, and keep my commandments, and do them; though there were of you cast out unto the uttermost part of the heaven, yet will I gather them from thence, and will bring them unto the place that I have chosen to set my name there.“
- 1 John 2:3-4 “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
- 1 John 5:2-3 “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.”
What is the take away for the modern day believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? The ones calling themselves “Christians”? What does the Psalmist say? What does the wisest man ever say?
- Psalm 119:9-11 “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy Torah. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy Torah have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
- Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
The question now becomes, “does the modern church even possess the ‘milk’ of the word?” And, if they do, how watered down, or maybe, how polluted is the milk? Why were men like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Nehemiah, and so on, continually warning Israel? and what were they warning them against? Is the thing that plagues the modern church the same thing that plagued ancient Israel?
2 Chronicles 33:1-13 “Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem: But did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, like unto the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel. For he built again the high places which Hezekiah his father had broken down, and he reared up altars for Baalim, and made groves, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served them. This is a direct violation of the first commandment.
“ Also he built altars in the house of the Lord, whereof the Lord had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be forever. And he built altars for all the host of heaven in the two courts of the house of the Lord.
He brought the practices of Ba’al worshiop into the church. There were 3 figures represented in Ba’al worship; the Father or Sun God, Molech. The Mother, or Moon goddess representing Ashtaroth the goddess of fertility and sensuality. Her worship was done primarily at night in the cedar forests. There were two festivals of great importance, one of conception signifying fertility for all and the sacrificial, where eggs (again fertility oriented) were rolled in the blood of the innocent infant, the one conceived at the prior festival the prior year.
“And he caused his children to pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hinnom: also he observed times, and used enchantments, and used witchcraft, and dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: he wrought much evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger. And he set a carved image, the idol which he had made, in the house of God, of which God had said to David and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen before all the tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: Neither will I any more remove the foot of Israel from out of the land which I have appointed for your fathers; so that they will take heed to do all that I have commanded them, according to the whole law and the statutes and the ordinances by the hand of Moses.
The ‘Valley of Hinnon’ is where the eternal fire brunt. This is the trash dump where the unclean swine lived. This is what is called Gehenna. God is going to shake the nations to get their attention…. to bring them back to the truth.
“So Manasseh made Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to err, and to do worse than the heathen, whom the Lord had destroyed before the children of Israel. And the Lord spake to Manasseh, and to his people: but they would not hearken. Wherefore the Lord brought upon them the captains of the host of the king of Assyria, which took Manasseh among the thorns, and bound him with fetters, and carried him to Babylon. And when he was in affliction, he besought the Lord his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, And prayed unto him: and he was intreated of him, and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem into his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord he was God.”
When we REALLY examine the practices of the modern day Christian church we can see the exact same has overtaken them that overtook the early Israelites. Syncretism, or the mixing of the holy and the profane. A thing that God hates according to Ezekiel 22:26. Once humanity realizes the celebration of holidays that are accepted as ‘normal’ are watered down versions of the past. That these sugar-coated demonic ceremonies hold the most meaning to those that love God the least.
- Ezekiel 33:11-16 “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.”
So What did Manasseh pray? This man, this leader of Israel who had physically sacrificed his children to Molech/Satan. What could he pray? The Apocrypha records the Prayer of Manasseh….
O Lord, Almighty God of our fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and of their righteous seed; who hast made heaven and earth, with all the ornament thereof; who hast bound the sea by the word of thy commandment; who hast shut up the deep, and sealed it by thy terrible and glorious name; whom all men fear, and tremble before thy power; for the majesty of thy glory cannot be borne, and thine angry threatening toward sinners is importable: but thy merciful promise is unmeasurable and unsearchable; for thou art the most high Lord, of great compassion, longsuffering, very merciful, and repentest of the evils of men. Thou, O Lord, according to thy great goodness hast promised repentance and forgiveness to them that have sinned against thee: and of thine infinite mercies hast appointed repentance unto sinners, that they may be saved.
Thou therefore, O Lord, that art the God of the just, hast not appointed repentance to the just, as to Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, which have not sinned against thee; but thou hast appointed repentance unto me that am a sinner: for I have sinned above the number of the sands of the sea. My transgressions, O Lord, are multiplied: my transgressions are multiplied, and I am not worthy to behold and see the height of heaven for the multitude of mine iniquities. I am bowed down with many iron bands, that I cannot lift up mine head, neither have any release: for I have provoked thy wrath, and done evil before thee: I did not thy will, neither kept I thy commandments: I have set up abominations, and have multiplied offences.
Now therefore I bow the knee of mine heart, beseeching thee of grace. I have sinned, O Lord, I have sinned, and I acknowledge mine iniquities: wherefore, I humbly beseech thee, forgive me, O Lord, forgive me, and destroy me not with mine iniquites. Be not angry with me for ever, by reserving evil for me; neither condemn me to the lower parts of the earth. For thou art the God, even the God of them that repent; and in me thou wilt shew all thy goodness: for thou wilt save me, that am unworthy, according to thy great mercy. Therefore I will praise thee for ever all the days of my life: for all the powers of the heavens do praise thee, and thine is the glory for ever and ever. Amen.
It is at this point one must come to the realization that; 1.the covenant is predicated on a system of instructions.[Torah] 2. The refusal to comply with these instructions renders the contract in default. 3. When in default the human has options to repent and adhere, or avoid, these instructions. And that the only thing “new” about the covenant is that Christ is now the administrator or Great High Priest, as well as, the propitiate sacrifice. All of the structure and behavioral requests remained unchanged. This point, in the words of the Messiah…
- Matthew 5:17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
Repentance in the understanding of a first century Hebrew is the word teshuvah. Teshuvah is best translated as “return” and signifies a return to the original state. This is the Garden of Eden prior to the fall. Classically, Teshuvah is comprised of three ingredients: regret of misdeed, decision to change, and verbal expression of one’s sins. [Romans 10:9-10]
The word teshuvah originates form a combination of words, one of which is, H2015 הָפַךְ haphak (haw-fak’) v. to change, overturn, to return, to be converted. Once we have come to the realization that the path we are on is headed in the wrong direction we are turn around and make our way back to God. We have heard this expression “finding our way” used by people to the point it is underwhelming to most. But, what about concrete change? Do we go to the uncompromising extreme for God? Do we choose to look peculiar to the rest of the world?
- 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
God is waiting for everyone to “come around” to the truth. The truth is I was taught many things that were reportedly of the faith of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. What they really were… they were ancient syncretistic holidays and traditions that have been watered down and sugar coated generation after generation. What does the wise man Solomon say?
- Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”
We need to stop participating in the Dead Works [holidays and traditions] and repent, returning to the commands of God, the Feasts and the Sabbath. And according to Paul ….this is just a “given” to the expression of faith. It would be understood.
Likewise, the faith in God would be safely assumed. You, as a first century citizen, are not going to asking about joining a church or religious group without a certain level of “faith” in that being actually existing. Again, you wouldn’t waste your time with a religion that did not provide an effective deity as your leader. You would have some sort of evidence as to its power.
So what does it mean to have faith in, and power from, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” What is it that we are not seeing? Obviously, this generation does not see the risen Messiah, the promised Heavenly Kingdom, or the righteous rule of King of Kings. But those are the “better promises to come” that Paul refers to in Hebrews Chapter 8. This is a huge issue for many today, and in the first century!
If you have not already read the prior post on 1 Corinthians 1:18-27 I encourage you to visit it… the encounter with Thomas.
We have to have the sort of faith that was exemplified by the early believers. Finishing off chapter eleven of Hebrews will show you the faithful of the past, as will Stephen’s witness in Act 7. We have to believe what the Greek sees as foolish and which the “Jew” doesn’t comprehend. The Greek thinks death cannot mean victory, nor can they see the afterlife as glorious. They have been taught of the bribery of the gods with gold and gifts. We can think about King Tuts tomb and the see the correlation between the Egyptian and Greek religious practices. Hades, the river Styx, paying off the ferry man… all borrowed practices and beliefs.
The “Jew” was waiting on a savior for their political and civil oppression, a king to come in on a white horse and save the town. A Lone Ranger if you will. God is concerned for our physical and societal well being, but not nearly to the degree that he is concerned about our spiritual and relational well being. People being people the “Jews” missed that idea just little bit. John records it as “he came unto his own and his own knew him not.”
- 1 Corinthians 3:9-11 “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
- Romans 10:14 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Faith…. real Faith…. deep deep down kinda Faith… the Faith that moves mountains…. says that Yeshua is God/Melchizedek the Eternal God of Creation, the Giver of Life, the Author of our Salvation… the Instructor of Righteousness.. the Living Torah that has never changed, has no beginning and no end… THAT is the Faith that has Power!
How do we engage that Power? Remember Teshuvah? Remember it is comprised of three ingredients: regret of misdeed, decision to change, and verbal expression of one’s sins.
- 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves,(regret misdeeds) and pray, (verbal expression Romans 10:9-10) and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways;(display a change of heart) then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Where does your Faith stand? Do you see the completed works of Jesus Christ/Yeshua Ha Mashiach? The fulfillment of the Marriage Contract? The Return of Melchizedek to his rightful place as Great High Priest and King of Jerusalem?
Or do you see him as some far off magical genie herding up dead relatives, cancer patients and accident victims? Is this what the world has reduced God to?
The disciples and apostles walked with Yeshua every day in the flesh…. look at whet they had to say…
Luke 17:5 “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.”
Some look at that statement as their admission to weakness…. what if…. WHAT IF…. they were really saying…”we know how insane this power and authority works and we want MORE!” What if…. living “your best life now” isnt really about the ‘name it and claim it’ or the ‘prosperity’ of the people. What if …it really is about the submission to God and Him showering us with the blessings He originally promised His people. A land flowing with abundance and protection.
This same blessing, abundance, and protection is available to us; if, we have the Faith of, and the Faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is why James tells us “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” James 2:19 Believing or having faith in a God is one thing, believing and acting upon it is another, and James follows his statement up with the well noted “faith without works is dead.”
If I believe that God is who he says he is, and I chose to allow Him to rule over me, I willing accept the position of the bride, THEN… I would only naturally want to comply with His instructions, His will for my life, humble myself to His Torah. To repent and separate myself from the worldly traditions and the pagan influences to the church. To become a peculiar treasure.
This is just two of the “given” or elementary principles that Paul just naturally expected of the Hebrew community. See part two for more….
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