‘Distinction Theology’ or Distinguished By Love?

Upon attending a Messianic Jewish congregation for quite some time recently, I was introduced to a relatively newer labeled theology unfamiliar to me known as ‘Distinction Theology’, which sets apart Jewish people from Gentiles even if both are believers in Yeshua/Jesus. The congregation used resources from First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ), a Messianic Jewish ministry, which is how I discerned this fascinating, but what I believe to be false doctrine. Moreover, it reveals the importance of being familiar with the word of God, having the Holy Spirit, and discerning all that is being taught as well as the fruit manifesting from various doctrines. In FFOZ’s recently published Messiah Journal, they define Distinction Theology as such:

What is distinction theology? It’s the premise that there is a difference between Jewish people and Gentiles, even after they become Yeshua followers.” , D Thomas Lancaster, First Fruits of Zion, “Distinction Theology and Diversity in the Communities of Yeshua”, Messiah Journal Issue #134, Summer 2019

In the article, Mr. Lancaster goes on to explain this theology is based off of Exodus 19:4-6, which defines Israel as a holy nation and set apart priesthood. After breaking down the verse being exclusively for Israel being the chosen nation and chosen elite priests, Lancaster pens the following,

Likewise, as a holy nation, Israel is set apart. The Jewish people have special priestly duties that the rest of the nations do not. There are things they are required to do that the rest of the nations are not required to do. They also have privileges and prerogatives that the rest of the nations don’t have. That’s what distinction theology is about.

The distinction between Priest and High Priest by uniform and duties could be a prophetic clue to come.

However, when we study the entirety of Scripture along with Exodus 19:4-6, what we will find is the only ‘distinction’ God seems to stress upon believing in His Son, Jesus/Yeshua, and receiving His Holy Spirit, which is the same Holy Spirit dispersed to all of us, is that we be distinct from the worldly lifestyle as set apart people not distinct from one another. In fact, numerous Scripture reveals that once a person believes in Jesus/Yeshua as Messiah, they are considered to be united with Him and others in Him. I suspect in an effort to thwart Anti-Semitism and the false notion that Yeshua came to start a new religion, distinction theology, promoting ethnic Jews and Judaism, was birthed. But rather than emphasizing our genetic and cultural differences, and yet still esteeming Israel at the same time, Scripture seems to implore Jewish believers to no longer view Gentile believers as a lesser ‘unclean’ (Acts 10) class and for Gentiles who believe and follow Yeshua to no longer self-identity as ‘Gentiles’, for Gentiles were not of God, rather now, having been ‘brought near’ or ‘grafted-in’, Gentiles now are apart of Israel…they now are also apart of an eternal, holy nation, a greater or enlarged priesthood alongside believing Jews, and therefore, NOT distinct from Jewish believers in Yeshua. Believing Jews and Gentiles were worshiping together in the early assemblies/synagogues after Yeshua’s resurrection until the works of some UNholy spirits divided them.

Moreover, now that we are a new creation in Messiah (2 Corinthians 5:17), consisting of one unit, one body, one faith in Him, we are to be one as we are set apart or distinct from a worldly lifestyle, not each other. Compare the following Scriptures:

  • “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh– who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands- that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13 (NKJV)
  • “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29 (NKJV)
  • There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. ” Ephesians 4:4-6 (NKJV)
  • “You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ Well said. Because of unbelief (faith & obedience) they (natural Israelites) were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear (keep God’s laws). For if God did not spare the natural branches (Israelites/physically Jewish people), He may not spare you either (grafted-in Israelites/spiritual Jews/former Gentiles). Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but towards you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they (natural Israelites/physical Jews) also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” Romans 11:19-23 (NKJV)
  • “Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind, let nothing be done in selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” Philippians 2:2-3 (NKJV)
  • Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” Ephesians 2:19 (NKJV)
  • “not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God;” 1 Thessalonians 4:5
  • And do not pray like the Gentiles…do not be like them..” Matthew 6:7-15
  • “This is what the LORD says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations (gentiles)…” Jeremiah 10:2 (also see Deut. 12:4,29-32; 13:1-8)
  • Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and LAWLESSNESS, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14 {Note the antithesis to being right with God (righteousness) is lawlessness (not obeying God’s laws).}
  • “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, 23 and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. ” Ephesians 4:17-24

Furthermore, since Distinction Theology emphasizes the priesthood being exclusive to those of Jewish descent, let’s see what God has to say about the priesthood throughout Scripture for further insight. We see the Apostle Peter directly references Exodus 19:4-6 in 1 Peter 2:9 as well as earlier in verse 5 when He addresses believers in Yeshua are as priests.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. ” 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

One could argue that the Apostle Peter, being a minister to the Jews (Galatians 2:7), was directing his letter to Jewish believers as hinted at by addressing those in the Diaspora/dispersion of Jews throughout the world in 1 Peter 1:-1-2. Fair enough! Keep in mind though, Peter writes some important truths in this letter such as “the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work..” in 1 Peter 1:17 and believers are to “Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God…” (2:17). We also see the Apostle Peter says in chapter 4:3, “For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles-when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, abominable idolatries..” So even though all of Peter’s writings can easily be applied to a believing Jew and believing Gentile, let’s just say for the sake of argument, Peter was definitely writing specifically to believing Jews and not Gentiles indicating the believing Jews are exclusively the priesthood. But then how would you explain away in Revelation 1:6 the Apostle John’s reference to the non-Jewish (Gentile) ekklesia/assemblies/churches (for they all were in Gentile areas such as Ephesus, according to Revelation 2-3) when John states Christ “made us kings and priests to His God and Father..” ? These are clearly Gentile churches he is writing to as “priests”. Or how would you explain Revelation 20:6 which defines those who made the first cut, the first resurrection, as, “priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years” as being exclusive to Jewish believers? By the argument distinction theology is trying to convey, this would mean only Jewish believers in Messiah will be resurrected, so obviously we can throw that logic out. Not to mention, as a side note, the logic of First Fruits of Zion establishing a ministry called ‘Torah Club’ teaching Torah to the Gentiles, when according to their own distinction theology, Torah is not for the Gentiles (they believe only the 7 Noahide Laws apply, but Gentiles can tag along in the other commands if they want). Also, how would one reconcile their Distinction Theology with Revelation 5:10 where it defines these believers also “reigning on earth” (with Christ/Messiah) just like Revelation 20:6 and Revelation 1:6 infer as the priests do? Additionally, the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthian ekklesia/church, who were non-Jewish, the same exact sentiments that the Corinthians (formerly known as Gentiles) will also rule and reign judging the earth (1 Corinthians 6) imploring them to learn how to discern and judge spiritual matters now for it is all practice for what is to come. Indeed! We need to better discern through the lense of the Holy Spirit rather than fleshly spirits the entirety of the Word of God and stop fashioning doctrines off one or two verses to appease tradition and other motives while producing bad fruit of division and pride.

Now that we have reviewed a plethora of Scripture revealing there absolutely is NO distinction between Jewish and Gentile believers in Yeshua/Jesus while understanding both believing Jew and Gentile are apart of Israel as well as the priesthood, let’s examine the bigger purpose as to what the role of the chosen enlarged priesthood actually is all about. First, we have already discovered in the above mentioned verses, our set apart calling is not about our flesh or ethnicities for our flesh is temporary, but it is all about the eternal Spirit within us and what it produces in us and through us. In other words, our role in Messiah is not about how we were naturally born nor our ethnic upbringings, but it IS about how we are supernaturally born and that we be brought up to love God and others by serving them like the priest demonstrated.

If we want to understand what our purpose is and how we are to be distinct from the nations/unbelievers, being we are one nation of Israel in Him as believers in Messiah, we would be wise to look at the Biblical priesthood described for such concepts seem to be prophetic clues to our future.

–> First and foremost, we know Yeshua/Jesus is The High Priest (Hebrews 7-10).

–>Second, we know there were numerous distinct roles within the priesthood. So if you are hoping to be “distinct” in God’s perspective, then you will want to pay close attention to this next point.

–>Thirdly and moreover, the purpose of the priests were to serve God and serve others…in other words, they had to specialize in loving God and loving others while teaching others to do the same. The priests had to be experts in knowing God’s instructions, in knowing His boundaries, in knowing His laws, knowing the difference between holy and unholy, clean and unclean, and how to teach the people in such matters. The priestly role also required many other legal transactions such as judging matters that inevitably manifested.

And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the unholy, and cause them to discern between the unclean and clean. In controversy they shall stand as judges, and judge it according to My judgments. They shall keep My laws and My statutes in all My appointed meetings, and they shall hallow my Sabbaths.” Ezekiel 44:23-24 (NKJV)

Simply put, the priest need to lead in love…they need to be firmly rooted and matured in love or perfected in love (Ephesians 3:17, Colossians 3:14, 1 John 4:12). Since we see all throughout Torah how the priests were indeed discerning or judging delicate matters as well as teaching people God’s instructions accordingly, those historical inspired writings would seem to be a good role model for how we are to live today as the “priesthood” as well as prophetic clues to our roles in the Messianic Era when Yeshua returns to rule and reign. Perhaps when Yeshua/Jesus said in Matthew 5:17-19 that whoever teaches others not to live by His commands, His instructions, His Torah, will be “considered least in His Kingdom” could be because of the priestly roles established in the hierarchy. Under the High Priest, you had many priests, even broken down into families, each with a separate but highly important role all working as one priesthood…in the Spirit of love and authentic worship. Some were performing the sacrifices (Leviticus 1-6), some were singers (1 Chronicles 9:33), some were gatekeepers/security (1 Chronicles 9:17-21), some were taking things down and were meant to protect the sacred items (Numbers 4:4-14), some were in charge of the oil and menorah lighting (Numbers 4:16) and making ointment of spices (1 Chronicles 9:29-30), some carried the curtains, chords, screens (Numbers 4:21-28), some manages the pillars, boards, sockets (Numbers 4:29-33), some were bakers (1 Chronicles 9:31-32), some were schlepping sacred objects around (Numbers 4:15), whom I affectionately call the “schleppers”, etc. Perhaps likened to the hierarchy of the Levitical Priesthood, there will be a similar manifestation when we all are gathered to Israel upon His return to rule and reign with Him, with Yeshua our High Priest. Depending on if we are good stewards in the flesh now or how we lead in love now may determine our priestly role in our transfigured spirit bodies one fine day. So be careful what doctrines you teach and that you not devour one another in the process or you could end up a “schlepper” in the priesthood to come. Ha ha!

In all seriousness though, after a careful study of Torah and the Scriptures penned afterwards, we know the spirit of all of God’s word is to love God and love others; hence, the instructions on HOW to do so. The Apostle Paul declares over and over again the laws of God are fulfilled when we love God and one another for the Torah and all of Scripture is all about love, including tough love, discipline, self-control and overall distinction from the ways of those who don’t believe in Abba Father and His Son…who don’t have His Holy Spirit guiding them and instructing them, not distinct from those of us who believe in Jesus/Yeshua for we are to be one priesthood.

Like the Apostle Paul described, we are one body with many roles and many giftings and yet, without love, we are just clashing cymbals (1 Corinthians 13:1-5). If you want to be distinct, be distinguished by your love for God and for one another.

Shalom and Amen.

Carrie R Turner 10.24.19

Holy Holidays: Why I Celebrate The Feasts of the LORD

While most Americans celebrate Christmas and Easter, even if they are not particularly religious, I have slowly transitioned away from celebrating the common holidays of our society to celebrating God’s holy holidays known as the ‘Feasts of the LORD’. The catalyst in doing so was albeit a slow one…

How I Came To Celebrate God’s Holy Holidays

I remember as a young girl hearing about someone who didn’t celebrate Christmas or other holidays because they were Jehovah’s Witness, but never gave it much thought other than, “Humm, that’s weird.”  Close to twenty years later though, when my boys were small in the early 2000’s, I was careful never to deceive them into believing in a fictional character that stalks children named Santa Claus. After all, Jesus was the reason for the season – or so I thought. Moreover, now that I had kids, I felt like I should be able to explain why we do what we do even though they weren’t asking just yet!

Being a nerd at heart, I went digging on the world wide web for answers. While I was surprised to learn many of the holidays’ had pagan origins, nothing particularly struck me as evil or caused me to think I really shouldn’t celebrate these, rather it just added to my overall unexplainable Scrooge like perspective on most holidays – except Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving has been my favorite holiday for no apparent reason other than the great food and company and of course, the general concept of being thankful! Much later in my life, I learned the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving Feast was replicating the Feasts of Tabernacles…No wonder I love Thanksgiving! 😉 Whereas, it was obvious to me that most other holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Christmas were just great marketing ploys to further the economy and cause people to go unnecessarily into debt!

One particular day though, while visiting my mom (and waiting on her before we went somewhere), I was thumbing through a Bible when I stumbled upon Jeremiah 10, which certainly grabbed my attention.

“Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O Israel. Thus says the LORD, ‘Do not learn the way of the Gentiles..For the customs of the people are futile; for one cuts a tree from the forest..they decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with nails and hammers so it will not topple..’ ” Jeremiah 10:1-4

I felt pricked in the heart and even showed the passage to my mom. “Mom, doesn’t this sound like a Christmas tree?” She agreed it did sound like that, but neither of us knew how to reconcile our common and well-accepted tradition to this peculiar truth. Naturally, like most Christians, we brushed it off and went about our day. Tradition trumped truth because we simply didn’t know better.

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If you want to download your own, click here: https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/gods-holy-day-plan-the-promise-of-hope-for-all-mankind

Later, sometime in 2010-2011 time frame, I interviewed for a Property Manager job in Philadelphia, about 2 hours from home at that time. The apartment community was owned and managed by Orthodox Jews so they informed me due to their religious holidays (the Feasts of the LORD) there are many days the company and leasing offices are closed typically in September as well as other days throughout the year. Due to deciding not to relocate to Philadelphia, I turned down the job. Nevertheless, the testimony of those faithful Jews inspired me all these years later to also honor Abba Father by not working and not having my subcontractors work on God’s Holy Holidays either (Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:14).

In 2011 somehow a YouTube TV show popped up on my laptop called ‘Beyond Today’, a program produced by United Church of God. I watched the program in its entirety and it was then I was introduced to the “Feasts of the LORD”. I even downloaded a free packet published by the group and printed it on my color printer. To this day, I reference that packet usually around the prescribed feast days as there is still so much to absorb.

Meanwhile, I had previously attended a charismatic church where a Jewish man and his wife, who believed in Jesus as the Messiah, attended. Through him, I saw a shofar as he introduced it to the church as well a prayer shawl. He and his wife even orchestrated the church’s first seder dinner, all of which I found fascinating. I kept the Seder Haggadah that was handed out to each of us attending for I found it enriching and interesting. The Haggadah basically means “telling” the Passover story. 20190503_123427 It, like the ‘Feast of the LORD’ packet, went into a special “spiritual ” container bin where I kept various notes from sermons, encouraging cards given to me, and anything meaningful and religious in nature. Over the years, I would on occasion read through these materials casually pondering these mysterious feasts.

You may recall, in 2014, the Blood Red Moons were all the rage in the media and especially certain Evangelical circles because they corresponded with the “Jewish Feasts” and seemed prophetic in nature. It was around this time, I was introduced to Jim Staley’s teachings on YouTube. Again, somehow his videos just manifested. Consequently, I found myself listening to eye opening and puzzling teachings over and over again trying to decipher all the foreign, yet oddly familiar or comforting, concepts he would share. I enjoyed listening to his teachings as not only is he an excellent teacher, which I admired as one who had formerly taught computers, but what he so passionately shared with his audience brought a peculiar peace, a settling shalom to my vexed soul (another story for another time). While I hadn’t particularly changed my normal Christian lifestyle to be anything Hebrew or Jewish related at the time, the truths he shared most definitely got me seeking the word and God in pursuit of truth and understanding. In my humble opinion, anyone who causes me to seek the Father’s heart by digging more in His word for myself is a winner!

A couple of years later, in 2016, God spoke to me through a dream and directly to my husband (in his mind/heart), the same day informing us we were to sell our home of 10 years, give away or sell most of our belongings, and go where He says to go and do whatever He says to do. Much like the Israelites did when they left Egypt, we were leaving proverbial “Egypt”. We understood we would be mobile and dependent on Him following His proverbial cloud and fire. Although a seemingly unusual call at the time, Abba (Father God) confirmed it to us through another unknowing soul. At the church we “randomly” attended that day, a pastor was preaching, looked at us directly, and almost verbatim said what the Lord spoke to us earlier that morning! Shortly after getting the message from the Spirit we were to relocate, although we had no idea where to at the time,  I heard God whisper to me in my being that we need to list the house during the Feast of Tabernacles that year. Honestly, I was like, “What? The Feast of Tabernacles? When is that? And Why then?”20190503_123446 So I went to my super “spiritual” bin to dig out that packet I printed 5 years earlier to look up the Feast of Tabernacles. It even had a chart outlining the various dates of the feasts for years to come. So at that point in my life, I could see the Feast of Tabernacles would be rapidly approaching as it was only a couple of weeks away according to my saved packet. I verified the dates on the internet and then presented this weird word to my husband, who amazingly, was like, “OK, let’s do it!” After we indeed listed the house on the last day of Feast of Tabernacles, which I didn’t know then is the “8th day” of the feast and means “New Beginnings”, I got another word from the LORD telling me the house will sell in April, but write it down in my journal (I journal often) so I wouldn’t doubt hearing Him. Sure enough the house sold in April of 2017.

Little did I know then, what I know now about the Feast of Tabernacles and the other Feasts nor how much He would incorporate that particular feast into our journey (see our story ‘Walk His Way’). Although, if there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is this: There is always more to learn in Yahweh – after all, it’s not my way, but Yah’s way!

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Here are Three Reasons Why I Celebrate The Feasts of Yahweh:

1. Not Just Jewish

With all that said, first, I have learned that these feasts described in various passages of the Old and New Testament are NOT just “Jewish feasts”, but rather, like Leviticus 23:1 says they are “The feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are My feasts.” In other words, this isn’t something the Jewish people invented nor are these holy holidays just for the Jewish people, but they are for all who believe in the One True God. (To learn more about that subject, check out the article I penned called ‘One Law For All’). We even celebrate the Feasts, God’s appointed times, in the millenium reign of Christ (Ezekiel 45:18-25; 46:9,11; Zechariah 14:16-21). To learn more about the Feasts of the LORD, here are a few passages to read: Leviticus 23; Exodus 23:14-19; Deuteronomy 16; 2 Chronicles 29-30; Nehemiah 8-10; Matthew 24:30-31; Matthew 26:2,17-30; Mark 14; Luke 22; John 4:45; John 7; John 10:22-23 {refers to Hanukkah, not a prescribed Feast of YHVH, but one even Jesus celebrated, evidently}; John 12:1, 12-13, 20 {notice Greeks worshiped at the Feast of Passover too} Acts 2; 18:21; 1 Corinthians 5:7.

http___www.messianictrust.org.uk_kids-pesach_images_TheAfikomen
The unleavened bread is wrapped in the afikomen (linen) just as Jesus / Yeshua’s sinless body was wrapped in linen in His burial.

2. Prophetic In Nature

Secondly, each of the seven feasts are prophetic in nature and reveal profound truths about the Messiah and God’s ultimate true love story. The Spring Feasts being Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits were fulfilled when Jesus, or Yeshua in His actual Hebrew name, became the Passover Lamb slaughtered on actual Passover, His unleavened (sinless) body broken and buried in the tomb during Unleavened Bread like the seder dinner tradition of the afikomen, where the unleavened bread is wrapped in linen just as Jesus was, and He rose again on the feast of Firstfruits, which is why the Apostle Paul refers to Jesus as a type of firstfruits being the first to be resurrected (I Corinthians 15:20). Yahsome, right?!

The final Spring/Summer feast, is Shavuot also known as the ‘Feast of Weeks’ or Pentecost. It’s been said in Jewish interpretation or tradition that the the law of God was given on Mount Sinai, and we know later, on the same day, the Holy Spirit was given (see Acts 2). As a side note, reconcile the possibility that both the law or Torah of God AND the Spirit were given to His people the same day just centuries apart. Why? Because the Spirit writes the Torah on our hearts eventually causing us to walk it out, or live that lifestyle, just as the Living Torah, Jesus lived (see Hebrews 8:8-10; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:27). The Holy Spirit or put another way, the Spirit of Holiness was given as a gift of grace to pay the debt for not obeying Torah while helping us be able to do so..to overcome sin and death, the consequence of breaking Torah (I John 3; Romans 3:23; 6:23)…not to earn our salvation, but BECAUSE He first loved us, we will want to love Him and others the way He defines love and holiness in His Torah, the ultimate love letter. Isn’t God genius?!

Lastly, the final 3 feasts being Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement/Yom Kippur, and Feast of Tabernacles that occur each Fall are yet to be fulfilled. Many believe, including myself, that these Fall feasts will be fulfilled at our Messiah’s second coming when He returns as a ferocious mighty Lion verses the gentle, servantly Lamb He cames as the first time here on Earth.

3. Required & Set Apart

http___www.thejoshlink.com_7Feasts2Thirdly, I celebrate the Feasts because I understand as a believer of the One True God, YHVH, and His Son, Yeshua, the Messiah, I am apart of Israel…I am an Israelite, a child of God called to be a light and set apart from the world (Isaiah 49:6; Matthew 5:14; John 8:12; Psalm 119:105-106; Ephesians 5:7-14) and consequently, I recognize and want to submit to God’s authority. Because my Abba Father commands, not suggests, we celebrate His Holy Holidays, the Feasts, as His kid, I’m going to comply to His household rules or put another way as a citizen of the commonwealth of Israel, I’m going to comply to His nation’s or kingdom’s laws. Such concepts of believers actually being either native-Israelites and others grafted-in Israelites, formerly known as rebellious wayward Gentiles, may be a foreign way to be identified, but alas, it is ‘The Way” and important you understand your true identity in Him. To learn more about your identity and responsibilities as a believer, read ‘‘Walk Like An Egyptian?’ and ‘One Law For All’.

http___i.ytimg.com_vi_T1qTfrtATvA_maxresdefaultFurthermore, it’s no coincidence we have witnessed in our nation, and world in general, people are experiencing an identity crisis, identity theft, the confusion of genders, meanwhile, the issues of illegal immigrants as well as we hear of or read in the news about all the ‘lawlessness’ going on for it all speaks! Remember the Broward County Florida school shooting in 2018? The media kept saying ‘lawlessness’ while ‘the law’ was Sheriff Israel! Can the Ruach HaKodesh/Holy Spirit make it anymore obvious?

The body of Messiah, the church, is experiencing all of the above, the confusion and lawlessness, but could produce fruit that won’t burn up like hay and straw (1 Corinthians 3:12-17) when we not only start to understand who we are, but when we start being worshipers of Spirit (John 3:3-6) and truth (Psalm 119:142,151) like Jesus / Yeshua sought and taught (John 4:23-24) and the Apostles and Messianic Israelites demonstrated in the early days! Watch my brief video teaching ‘Serving The Ekklesia | Don’t Be Afraid’, where I discuss how some Christians are all about the law, but afraid of the Spirit, while others are all about the Spirit, but rebellious towards the law.  When we allow the Spirit to guide us like a GPS while still abiding by the laws of the road, we can finally reach our destination in one accord (Not the Honda! Ha ha!).

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In closing, the feasts are for the most part, joyous celebrations, that we will want to obey upon the Spirit being written on our hearts (Hebrews 8:8-10; Jeremiah 31:31-33; Ezekiel 36:26-27). Ultimately, by celebrating the feasts, we are reflecting on our Messiah and striving to honor our Abba Father; moreover, we are being like Jesus, like Yeshua, the word, the Torah in the flesh for all the world to read. Hopefully, in doing so, the world will also want to come out of the dark and into His marvelous light too!

“They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they were appointed. But you are a chosen generation , a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous light!” 1 Peter 2:8-9 (NKJV)

Dear God, Can You Hear Me Now?

Many strive to hear the voice of God for themselves, but haven’t considered the fact that God may not be hearing their voice either.  In order to effectively communicate and produce positive results both parties need to be able to hear one another. In this article, we’ll investigate the possibility that God may not be hearing you and why.

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Believers are familiar with the famous verse found in James 5:16, which reads:

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Notice the Apostle James connects being aware of one’s trespasses and confessing them to others for the prayers of one who is considered ‘righteous’ evidently gets their prayers answered. This verse also speaks to the importance of being sensitive to the Holy Spirit or Spirit of Holiness as He strives to make us holy by revealing to us our offense (trespass/sin). After being made aware of our offense to God, by confessing our trespass/sin/guilt to others, it also helps keep us accountable.

But before we can really dig into what spiritual truth the Apostle James is revealing to us, we must remember, in order to appropriately interpret any Scripture, we need to understand the background of the author and the culture of the author’s intended audience while letting Scripture define Scripture.

http___scrolls4all.org_scrolls_wp-content_uploads_sites_6_2014_09_lithuania.clearJPGSo where did James or any of the Apostles learn these important truths they conveyed to others? What many refer to as the “Old Testament”, was referred to by Jesus, or Yeshua in His actual Hebrew name, and His Apostles as the “Law ” or the “Law and Prophets”(Matthew 5:17-19; Matthew 7:12), which were the only Scriptures they had access to at that time (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:14-18; 1 John 2:7). After all, the “New Testament” was still in the process of unfolding and being penned through letters much less translated and packaged together for all the world to read like we have it today. So we can see from those verses (Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:14-18; 1 John 2:7), the law and prophets, the Scriptures they had from the beginning, are useful for instruction, reproof, and revealing what is right – also spoken of in the word as “righteousness”.

Now that we know Jesus / Yeshua and His Apostles’ teachings are founded on the law and prophets, or what is labeled today as the “Old Testament”, let’s look at similar verses found throughout the law and prophets, which correspond with James’ statement in James 5:16.

  • “Then they will cry out to the LORD, but He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds.” Micah 3:4 (NKJV)

Wow, so we see in Micah 3:4, the prophet Micah explains God won’t hear people who cry out to Him in their time of need because of their evil deeds. That sounds like what James was getting out when he encouraged the reader to confess their evil deeds, their guilt, their trespasses to others. Meanwhile, the “righteous” will get their prayers answered.

Check out how the Apostle Paul defines the “righteous”, or those right with God, or put another way, those who do what is right according to God:

  • “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and LAWLESSNESS, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NKJV)

Note the antithesis to being right with God (righteousness) is lawlessness (not obeying God’s laws) or being in the light verses continuing to live in darkness blinded by sin. For 1 John Chapter 3 reveals to us to sin is the same as lawlessness or being without God’s laws, or even more straightforward, those who don’t “practice righteousness” or God’s laws is one and the same as being without God, but rather being of the devil!

  • “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.” I John 3:4 (NKJV)
  • “Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. He who sins is of the devil..” I John 3:7-8 (NKJV)
  • “In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother.” I John 3:10 (NKJV)

Now that we know to sin or being unrighteous is being without God’s laws or not obeying God’s commands or being in the dark or of the devil, verses a person who practices God’s laws is considered righteous, being in the light, and of God, because they are demonstrating their belief in God and His Son, let’s take a look at some other verses in both the Old and New Testaments that correspond with James message in James 5:16.

  • One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” Proverbs 28:9 (NKJV)
  • “But your iniquities (trespasses against God’s laws) have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2 (NKJV)
  • “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7 (NKJV)
  • Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:11-12 (NKJV)
  • Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will (His law/His Torah), He hears him.” John 9:31 (NKJV)

http___www.gospelherald.com_data_images_full_5965_the-power-of-prayerMany verses throughout both the “Old Testament” and what was said and scribed by Jesus and His Apostles later collected as the “New Testament” reveal God doesn’t hear the prayers of those who intentionally sin or intentionally break God’s laws. (To learn more about the difference between intentional and unintentional sins, read “Will We Again Perform Sacrifices? If So, Why?”)

Notice, this concept of God not hearing our prayers due to our sins is even after Jesus bled to death on a cross for our lawlessness…even after the cross and after His gift of grace. (For further reading, check out “What Exactly Did You Repent From?”)

Conversely, Scripture reveals God rewards those who hear God’s laws and obeys them. Here are a few examples:

  • “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” I John 3:22 (NKJV)
  • “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My  name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep my commandments.” John 14:12-15 (NKJV)
  • “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” John 15:7 (NKJV)
  • “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” 1 John 5:14 (NKJV) {read Romans 2:18; 12:1-2, to discover God’s will …His Torah)
  • Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…But his delight is in the law of the LORD and in His law he meditates day and night…and whatever he does shall prosper…For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Psalm 1:1-6 (NKJV)

In other words, dear believers in Jesus, the spiritual truth we can glean from James 5:16 as well as these other Scriptures listed above is this:

If you say you believe in Jesus / Yeshua and His Father, but refuse to hear and submit to the way and the will (see Romans 2:17-18) of Abba (Father God) found in His commandments, His law, His Torah, which is His Voice (Deuteronomy 30 ; John 10), then you should expect He will not hear your voice either. Rather, be obedient in whatever the Spirit of Holiness is teaching you through His word today and in doing so, may your prayers be heard.

Shalom and Amen,

Carrie R. Turner

4.30.19

One Law For All

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Did you know just as each nation has it’s own set of laws, as does the United States of America has a constitution, so does God’s nation or kingdom? God’s kingdom’s constitution is the Torah, His laws found throughout the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy) and repeated throughout the prophets, demonstrated by Jesus / Yeshua, and taught by the Apostles.

Unfortunately, due to Anti-Semitic leaders, starting with the Emperor Constantine, and early church history, poisonous false doctrines of men were handed down throughout the centuries leading Christians away from God’s holy constitution even persecuting Messianic Jews, also called Christians, for honoring the Heavenly Father’s commands.

As time went by, it’s been said that the laws of God were only for the Jews and not Gentiles, meaning anyone not of Jewish descent. However, we see in His word, which is God’s written or recorded voice and will (Deut 30; John 10), also known as ‘The Way’ (Acts 9:2; 19:9; 22:4), that God’s instructions were given to not just the Israelites (those of the 12 tribes of Israel), but they also were for anyone who aligned themselves with that faith. Numerous people, who were not natural descendants of Israel, left Egypt along with the Israelites in the Passover/ Red Sea crossing over event (see Exodus 12:37-38) and yet adopted God’s instructions as they were revealed. Another example would be the story of Ruth (read Book of Ruth), a Moabite, who aligned herself with the Jewish people, married Boaz, and was a direct ancestor of not only King David, but Yeshua / Jesus too (Matthew 2:5-6)! When Ruth declared, “Your people will be my people and your God will be my God..” (Ruth 1:16), she became one or was in one accord with the Jewish people. Physically she was not of Jewish descent, but spiritually in her heart and by her physical actions she aligned with the One true God and His nation making her one of His people too! For what comes out of the heart reveals the transformation within (Mark 7; Deut.6:29, 30:6-8).

Throughout history and Scripture, eventually the term “Jew” became interchangeable with those of the tribes of Israel meaning a physical descendant of ancient Israel. “Jews” is actually a slang term derived from the tribe of Judah. Judah, was one of the 12 children of Jacob (Genesis 35:23-26; Genesis 49), who’s name later was changed to Israel (Genesis 32:28). Abraham, was Jacob/Israel’s grandfather, whom God made a covenant with stating Abraham would have as many descendants as the stars and grains of sand (Genesis 22:15-18). Indeed, despite ongoing Anti-Semitism, the Jewish people are as many as the stars and grains of sand. Not by coincidence, this promise was given when Abraham was about to obey God by sacrificing his son, Isaac, but instead God provided a sacrifice, all of which foreshadowed God sacrificing His Son and Lamb, Jesus/ Yeshua, so that Abba Father / God could also have many descendants or children of God through faith in Jesus – as many as the stars and grains of sand! Moreover, we learn when anyone believes in Jesus/Yeshua as the redeemer of their lawlessness/sins and repents of such evil doings in their lives, they become part of the commonwealth of Israel or grafted-in Israelites or as the Apostle Paul seems to infer likened to ‘spiritual Jews’ having been circumcised of the heart (Romans 2:28-29). All of which validates the message of the first testament stating God’s laws weren’t just for the “native” Israelite but also for the stranger within or those grafted-in or brought into the flock so to speak. These concepts we see reiterated in the Messianic Era, when Yeshua rules and reigns on Earth (see Ezekiel 47:21-23; Isaiah 2; Micah 4-5). Check out these Scriptures for many other examples:

  • “Then the children of Israel journeyed from Ramses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed multitude went up with them also..” Exodus 12:37-38 (NKJV)
  • One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.” Exodus 12:49 (NKJV)
  • “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations,: either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you.” Leviticus 18:26 (NKJV)
  • “All who are native-born shall do these things…and if a stranger dwells with you, or whoever is among you throughout your generations..One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the LORD.” Numbers 15:13-15 (NKJV)
  • “You shall have one law for him who sins unintentionally, for him who is native-born among the children off Israel and for the stranger who dwells among them.”Numbers 15:29 (NKJV)
  • “But the person who does anything presumptuously (intentional sin), whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the LORD, and he shall be cut off from among his people.” Numbers 15:30 (NKJV)
  • “Carefully follow the terms of this covenant, so that you may prosper in everything you do. All of you are standing today in the presence of the Lord your God—your leaders and chief men, your elders and officials, and all the other men of Israel, together with your children and your wives, and the foreigners living in your camps who chop your wood and carry your water. You are standing here in order to enter into a covenant with the Lord your God, a covenant the Lord is making with you this day and sealing with an oath, to confirm you this day as his people, that he may be your God as he promised you and as he swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I am making this covenant, with its oath, not only with you who are standing here with us today in the presence of the Lord our God but also with those who are not here today.” Deuteronomy 29:9-15
  • “Do not let the son of a foreigner (not a natural Israelite) who has joined himself to the LORD speak saying, ‘The LORD has utterly separated me from His people’; nor let the eunuch say, ‘Here I am, a dry tree.’ For thus says the LORD: ‘To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths, and choose what pleases Me, and hold fast My covenant, even to them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.” Isaiah 56:3-4 (NKJV)
  • “Also, the sons of the foreigner, who join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants – Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant– even them I will bring to My holy mountain (Zion // Jerusalem), and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:6-7 (NKJV)
  • “Thus says the LORD God: ‘Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be in one in My hand…and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be over them…they shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned and will cleanse them. Then they shall be My people, and I will be their God.” Ezekiel 37:15-23 (NKJV)
  • “You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.’ Well said. Because of unbelief (faith & obedience) they (natural Israelites) were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear (keep God’s laws). For if God did not spare the natural branches (Israelites/physically Jewish people), He may not spare you either (grafted-in Israelites/spiritual Jews). Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but towards you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they (natural Israelites/physical Jews) also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” Romans 11:19-23 (NKJV)
  • “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29 (NKJV)
  • “Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh– who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands- that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:11-13 (NKJV)

And lastly, we see the Book of Revelation describes believers or saints as not just those who believe in Jesus / Yeshua, but who also keep God’s laws, His kingdom constitution. Because in Jewish/Hebraic culture, verses western interpretations, to believe is to do. Abba isn’t interested in lip service, He wants your heart…to love Him with your entire being and if you intend on dwelling in His holy nation one fine day upon our Messiah’s return, His Torah will be the law of the land (Isaiah 2, Micah 4, Zechariah 14).

  • “And the dragon (Satan/Anti-Christ) was enraged with the woman (Christ), and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring (Bride of Christ / children of God/ saints / believers), who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” Revelation 12:17 (NKJV)
  • “Here is the patience of the saints: here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12 (NKJV)

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So you see, dear brothers and sisters, Abba Father’s household rules or kingdom constitution is His Torah, His commandments, His laws, which are eternal (Psalm 119:160). His instructions teach us HOW to love Him, HOW to love others, and HOW He wants to be worshiped. If we say we are of Him, believe in Him, and accepted His amazing grace, we will be given His Spirit of Holiness and will want to submit to His authority, His ways, His will, which are found in His kingdom constitution, the Torah. May we not be like illegal immigrants who want to access our great nation of the United States of America and reap it’s benefits, but refuse to unite with us by obeying our laws. For if they were interested in being true citizens, uniting with us and our ways, they would have entered legally and continue to abide in our laws just as Yeshua said we will legally enter through Him and ought to abide in Him and His Father’s laws.

Shalom and Amen.