Seabbatical | Mishpatim

As always, the first few words in the first sentence of this week’s assigned Torah portion dictates the title of the Torah portion. ‘Mishpatim’ is a Hebrew word found within the first sentence of Exodus 21:1 meaning ‘judgments’. To understand a basic overview of the history of the Torah as well as Haftarah Bible portions, click here.

In this particular Torah portion in Exodus 21:1-24:18 , we find a set of laws, judgments, rulings, or instructions, however you want to phrase it, with a central theme of being responsible in how you handle many areas of your life such as:

*how you handle your servants/employees/subcontractors (if you will) (see Exodus 21:1-11)

* how you handle your emotions or actions (see Exodus 21:12-27)

* how you handle your animals (see Exodus 21:28-36)

*how you handle what’s in your possession (see Exodus 22:1-15)

*as well as miscellaneous instructions on your lifestyle including heeding God’s voice found in these commandments as well as honoring the Sabbath and certain holy holidays (see Exodus 22:16-23:19)

All of these judgments or rulings of the LORD coincide with what Jesus/Yeshua expanded upon in Matthew 5:38-42 as well as Luke 6:31. In fact, Jesus even quoted from Exodus 21:24 in Matthew 5:38.

Back to the Torah portion…After the LORD thoroughly explains such concepts to Moses so he can in turn teach the people these said instructions, Abba Father (the LORD) informs Moses He will send an angel to protect the Israelites as they slowly sojourn to the promised land. God strongly advises to Moses and subsequently, His chosen people, that it is mission critical they obey these instructions in order for them to conquer precarious pagans along their path and to safely reach their destination (Exodus 23:20-23). God carefully reminds them to not adopt the practices and lifestyles of worship of the pagan peoples, but rather, His people should utterly uproot and destroy any hint of worship God has not prescribed (Exodus 23:24-25). In doing so, they will be healed of various sickness among them, including no woman will miscarry her child nor be unable to have children (Exodus 23:25-26). Similar expressions of faith are declared by God when He defines the health and safety benefits as well as curses to heeding or rejecting His documented voice in Deuteronomy 28.

Interestingly enough, starting in Exodus 23:29, God explains He will drive out the pagans “little by little” rather than all at once so that the land, and therefore, the fruits of the land (their food), could still be properly worked, and the wild animals not take over the land and consume the crops. Smart God! He further reminds them to not make any covenant or commitment…no deals with the enemy, no mingling of faiths, no believers with unbelievers, lest they entice His people to sin against God’s instructions or commands (Exodus 23:32-33). Where can we find similar sentiments in Scripture? Read my article ‘Walk Like An Egyptian?’ to discover numerous similar passages.

In the last chapter of this week’s Torah parashah, we see the people of God once again renew their commitment to serving Him and His way when they reply like wedding vows, “All the words which the LORD has said we will do.” (Exodus 24:3). Then like in a marriage, they consummated the covenant a few verses later in Exodus 24:5-8, all of which is similar to what the Israelites vowed a few chapters back in last week’s Torah portion when they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:5-8).

In the final verses of this ‘Mishpatim’ Torah portion, I noticed when Moses, Aaron, his brother, and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, along with seventy of the elders, saw God in person, they documented under His feet was a foundation of sapphires like they had never seen before. I recalled similar statements can be found in Isaiah 54:11 as well as Revelation 21:19. According to the world, sapphire is the birthstone of September, which tends to align with the busy Hebrew month of Tishri, the seventh month. During Tishri, several of the LORD’s holy holidays manifest such as the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah), Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), and the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), some of which were mentioned earlier in this Torah portion (Exodus 23:16). Notice the correlation of the seventh day, the seventh month, and seventh year ordaining various days or years of rest. To learn how the number 7 is hugely crucial in understanding prophecy and the upcoming Messianic Era, please read this article I recently penned, ‘There’s Your Sign’ as it is all related and important to any believer’s faith journey.

Overall, the general theme of this week’s Torah portion seems to be defining and outlining how God wants His people to demonstrate self-control, love, and commitment as they lead set-apart, peculiar lifestyles of worship different than those around them.

I pray this teaching enriched, encouraged, and exhorted you as you sojourn a faith journey of your own.

The History of the Torah and Haftarah Bible Portions

If you have been exposed to Judaism, Messianic Judaism, Hebrew Roots, or some variant of those branches, then you will most likely be familiar with the weekly Bible readings known as the Torah portion, also referred to as the parashah, which simply means a passage or section of the first five books of the Bible, as well as the Haftarah portion. The Torah and Haftarah portions are typically read publicly and studied each Sabbath. Often times, in Messianic Judaism as well as Hebrew Roots congregations, aligning portions from the New Testament, also known as ‘Brit Chadashah’, are publicly read or studied as well to compliment the Torah and Haftarah portions. If you are relatively new to hearing such unfamiliar terminology, this brief article has been scribed to give you an overview.

Brief Torah Portion History

The tradition of reading a passage from the Torah, which is also known as the law or teachings or instructions of God and can be found in the first five books of the Bible being Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, is believed to have began in 6th century BC immediately after the Jews were released from Babylonian captivity. Upon being allowed to return to Jerusalem to re-group and re-claim their God-ordained promised land (Ezra 1-2), which they were evicted from by God for failing to obey God’s voice documented throughout the Torah, Ezra, the Levitical priest, “had prepared his heart to the seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10) so as to not repeat history and be cursed by God for failure to heed His written Voice. Once the temple was rebuilt and dedicated unto the LORD, in the seventh month (Tishri, on the Hebrew calendar), “all the people gathered together as one man” so Ezra could read to them the “Book of the Law”. Each day during the Feast of Tabernacles, known as ‘Sukkot’ in Hebrew, also during the seventh-month, portions of the Torah were read to the people (Ezra 8). And so it is believed the custom began in order to prevent the calamity of the curses brought on God’s people for their rebellion in not obeying God’s written voice. At some point, the Torah portions were divided up into 54 weekly parashahs or specific passages. Still today, the entire globe (of those branches) are studying the same Bible passages in unity as “one man”.

Brief Haftarah Portion History

No one knows for certain how the Haftarah, also pronounced Haftorah in Ashkenazi communities, portions began, but many believe the tradition started circa 175 BC when Antiochus Epiphanes conquered the temple. At that tragic time, Antiochus Epiphanes outlawed the public reading of the Torah, replaced the holy artifacts with pagan gods within the temple, slaughtered pig, an unclean and abomination according to Leviticus 11, Deuteronomy 14, and Isaiah 65-66, as a means to mock God’s ordained sacrificial system, and even tormented and killed Jews for holding to their belief in the one true God and their determination to adhere to His laws. All of this was an “abomination of desolation”, which will happen again according to prophecies found in the Books of Daniel, Matthew, and Revelation. Consequently, the rabbis of those days researched and prescribed related passages of the Torah found in the Prophets to be read each week instead of the Torah during that tumultuous time. This became known as “Haftarah”, which means “conclude”.

After that horrific time, the practice of reading from the Prophets stuck so today, passages called portions from the Torah and the Haftarah, which are related are read. 

Did you know when Jesus / Yeshua read Isaiah 61 in the synagogue on Shabbat (Sabbath/Saturday), which we can read about in Luke 4:16-30, He was reading from that specific week’s “Haftarah” portion? Did you know Jesus said that whoever does and teaches God’s laws will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:18-19)?

To learn more about the weekly Torah portions, subscribe to my blog and YouTube channel. Each week, I strive to write a blog post or publish a video teaching regarding that week’s Torah portion.

Shalom and Blessings!

Carrie Turner

Seabbatical | Yitro

Shabbat Shalom, Flip Flop Fellowship Friends!

This week’s Torah portion introduces us to not only the wisdom of Jethro, or ‘Yitro’ in Hebrew, Moses’ Father-In-Law, but also much wisdom in the prophetic patterns of The One True Living God, whom I call ‘Abba’, which means ‘Father’ in Hebrew.

Beginning in Exodus 18, we are introduced to the Midian priest, Jethro, who also is Moses’ Father-In-Law. Jethro brings with him Zipporah, Moses’ wife, as well as two of her (and presumably Moses’) sons, Gershom and Eliezer, to meet Moses at the foot of Mount Sinai where the Israelites are camped at this point in the story. After learning of all the miracles of the LORD and how the Israelites were redeemed, Jethro glorifies YHWH and offers a sacrifice of praise (Exodus 18:7-12). The next day, when Jethro sees the numerous issues or cases Moses’ presides over providing a judgment for each of the people’s cases, Jethro wisely recognizes it is impossible for Moses and the people to continue conducting business in this manner for they will exhaust themselves and especially Moses. Consequently, Jethro exhorts Moses to create a hierarchy of government or judges to rule over the people and judge accordingly. Any matter too difficult can be moved up the chain of command for Moses to come to a decision – perhaps similar to how cases can be escalated to our Supreme Court here in America. I especially love and have highlighted Jethro’s wise words when he said,

“And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do.” Exodus 18:20 (NKJV)

Jethro’s wisdom foreshadows the hierarchy of the eventual Messianic Era where Jesus prophecized the twelve disciples will sit on twelve thrones to rule and reign over the future twelve tribes of Israel one fine day (Matthew 19:28-30). We also can see just as Moses and his appointed leaders will be instructing God’s laws to the current Israelites, so too will Jesus and His appointed priests be teaching the miraculously gathered Israel as well as all the remaining world God’s laws, God’s Torah (Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 51; Ezekiel 44:23-24; Micah 4:1-8). To learn more about the “Second Exodus”, be sure to come back to this article (click here).

As we further examine this Biblical account of Moses and the Israelites, we see other elements foreshadowing the soon coming Messianic Era. Moses, along with the twelve tribes of Israel, and the mixed multitudes of people who aligned themselves with Israel upon the exodus of Egypt (see Exodus 12:37-38), are at Mount Sinai at this point in their faith journey when the Torah, or God’s instructions, God’s laws are given to them as part of the holy covenant. God, their redeemer, uses Moses, the mediator, to invite them to come into relationship with Him as His “special treasure” above all others not in covenant with Him for those in holy covenant shall be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). In the Brit Chadashah, or New Testament writings, The Apostle Peter uses the same terminology when he writes to believers in Messiah, whom he identifies as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people..who once were not a people but are now the people of God..” (1 Peter 2:9-10). Likewise, the Apostle John scribes in Revelation 20:6, “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.” Do you see this correlation of those, being Israel, at Mount Sinai were given the Torah and Moses was essentially their king compared to how one day, in the Messianic Era, when Christ, our Messiah, returns to rule and reign, He will do so at Mount Zion according to numerous prophecies, He will be our King, and He will teach us His Torah and all that it means and is intended for (much like before during His first coming) to whom He deems is “Israel”, consisting of genetic Israel as well as those grafted-in or adopted or spiritual Israel being believers in Messiah (see Romans 11)? How amazing is that?!

But wait, there’s more! Not to sound like a TV commercial, but in God, there’s always more! You see so many are deceived in our modern religious thinking to believe that once you are “saved”, you are good to go, there is no need to go any further in one’s faith journey. But as we see from this wise Biblical account in Exodus, one’s redemption is just the beginning! Or as some have said, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.” Once redeemed (Exodus 19:4), God invited the people He redeemed into relationship defining to them who they were in His eyes should they accept the terms of His covenant (Exodus 19:5-6), and then once relationship was established or like a marriage was established, He continued to reveal more and more of His eternal truth (Psalm 119:160), being His Torah, His instructions and His intentions in it all (Exodus 20+). Relationship is the only way for one’s nature, one’s character, one’s truth to be revealed.

Where are you at in your faith journey? Have you been redeemed yet by believing Jesus is the Messiah who paid the debt for your lawlessness, who overcame the consequence of sin in death through His resurrection? Are you in covenant or relationship with God through Jesus? Has His Spirit of Holiness revealed to you what is holy, what His Torah reveals, what His instructions for living are, what it means to love God and love others, as well as more and more spiritual truths? Are you being consistently transformed in this “horribly-amazing-purification-process”? Are you being consecrated as you wash your clothes in the word making your garments clean like the Israelites were instructed (Exodus 19:10-11; John 17:17; Ephesians 5:26-27; Revelation 19:8,14)? Will you be apart of the Second Exodus one day?

Lastly, just as God consummated the covenant to His selected people at Mount Sinai, on that fine day when Jesus, or Yeshua in His Hebrew name, returns to rule and reign from Mount Zion, He will gather whom He deems ‘Israel’ and consummate the ‘New Covenant’ at that time. Furthermore, He will fully dispense His Holy Spirit, whose sole job is to scribe the Torah in Israel’s hearts causing ‘Israel’ to want to obey revealing to us Torah as it was intended (Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:27; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7-13, 10:14-18) .

Indeed, this week’s Torah portion provides much wisdom into past, present, and future redemption, relationship, and revelation.

In God, There’s Always More,

Carrie R. Turner, February 15, 2020

There's Your Sign

Have you ever asked God for a sign to know if you should do something or as a means to communicate a distinct direction in your life? I sure have! If you are familiar with my story, then you know in 2016, my husband and I believe the Lord called us to sell our home in Pennsylvania to follow Him wherever He says to go, to do whatever it is He says to do, and evidently, to learn and be transformed in the process. If you are like me, often times if I suspect God is calling me to do something, I will ask for a sign or Scripture to confirm I am hearing Him or interpreting what I think He may be saying correctly. Sure enough we got our sign, if not multiple signs, leading us on this peculiar, set-apart path.

It’s been nearly 4 years now since we’ve said our goodbyes to our historic, charming home. Since then we have lived in South Carolina in a tiny studio on the beach and now a tiny sailboat in Texas (Galveston Bay/ Houston area). Similar to how God’s Spirit led the Israelites to various places along their wilderness, He seems to be doing the same for us. While reading their story recently, I reflected on the similarities between their experiences with ours for we too had to learn to depend completely on God to provide and we had to listen closely while trusting and obeying Him as He told us what to do for income, where to go, and what to do, much like He did for the Israelites. Thankfully, it all has worked out marvelously, but it certainly has tested our faith in Him numerous times.

While reading about the Israelites journey through the wilderness, I couldn’t help but notice early on in their faith journey, God provided them His Spirit to guide them. Upon doing so, the first tangible lesson He revealed to them was the importance of resting on the 7th day of the week, the Sabbath, as He called it, for that is the day HE rests and He would not be working that day (Exodus 16). How funny to think perhaps God needs some PTO too (Personal Time Off)! According to that fascinating account in Exodus 16, God informed the Israelites to collect double the manna the day before Sabbath so they would have enough to get by on Sabbath (our Saturday) because He was not providing that day as He had all the other days. Likewise, since we moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the Lord opened my eyes to His Sabbath. For some reason in 2017, I decided to look up in my Bible every time it mentioned Sabbath to see what it was really about, when it was, and if it was important. I can only assume this was the Holy Spirit prompting me to do so because I do not recall any other factors to spark my curiosity.

It was when I read Isaiah 65-66 though that it hit me, like a “There’s Your Sign…Can You Hear Me Now?” kind of moment for it occurred to me if the Sabbath matters to Jesus AFTER He returns as those passages clearly state (in the Messianic Era), then that must mean it matters to Him now, before He returns as well (see Isaiah 66:22-24). Consequently, I continued to discover verses even in the New Testament revealing Jesus honored the Sabbath (Mark 1:21, 6:2; Luke 4:16-39, 13:10), it is a gift from God to mankind (Mark 2:27), and the Apostles as well as early believers all honored the 7th day Sabbath (Acts 13:14-15, 42-44; 15:21; 17:2-3; 18:4; Hebrews 4:9). Many will say the Sabbath is just for the Jews, but I discovered in the Book of Acts, believing Gentiles or foreigners also kept the 7th day Sabbath upon aligning themselves with Messiah and the One True God, not to mention Isaiah 56 praises the foreigner who honors God by keeping Sabbath even more so than God’s natural kids being the Jews (see Isaiah 56:5). Still, I researched why the modern church thinks the Sabbath is on a Sunday and discovered the horrifying reasons why some changed it to Sunday. All of which convicted me to start honoring God’s Sabbath on the 7th day as He instructed versus what man deemed the Sabbath and their anti-semitic motives in doing so.

It’s also interesting there are 7 Seals, 7 Trumpets, 7 Bowls all seem to conclude with His Sabbath Rest (His Return).

Even prior to selling our Pennsylvanian home, the Lord led me to study the Book of Revelation and to compare it to the Book of Exodus. I studied these books and the similar patterns for months gleaning so much more than I anticipated. I could not help but notice how the Israelites were spared from all the plagues of Exodus and how the sealed saints in Revelation, presumably those who both believe in Jesus AND keep God’s commands (Rev.12:17, 14:12, 20:4), are spared from the plagues to come (Rev 7:3-4, 9:4). I realized during those months of intense studying that just as there is the “mark of the beast” (Rev.13; Daniel 8:23-26; 11:28,30-32), there is a mark of God, or a seal of God as it is said in Revelation 7:2-4. I also somehow came across an identical sentiment in Ezekiel 9 where God had the angel seal the forehead of those who kept His commands and were grieved over those who did not. Notice the saints who keep God’s commands are grieving for those who claim to believe and yet refuse to obey God and the judgment begins in the sanctuary of God, which corresponds with what the Apostle Peter warned (Ezekiel 9:4-10; 1 Peter 4:17). Similarly, the sign the LORD was looking for in the ultimate Exodus plague just prior to the Israelites’ redemption was the sign of the blood of the lamb being on the doorpost of the homes (Exodus 11:7, 12:12-13,23,28). Consequently, the angel (presumably, it was an angel acting out this judgment per God’s command like in Ezekiel and Revelation) knew not to inflict death on that home. Clearly, there are some interesting patterns and similarities transpiring amongst various passages in Scripture. Still, at that time, I had not been taught by the Lord the importance of Sabbath, but He certainly was setting the stage for His big reveal.

As mentioned earlier, after trusting and obeying Him, after being set free from a Pharaoh or culture of bondage or debt, being a mortgage and all the typical bills that come along with homeownership and needing to work around the clock to pay for such things, God’s Spirit revealed to us His provision and His rest, being Sabbath. Even so, after grasping this truth and wanting to cheerfully comply, actually practicing such things required me to take some seemingly scary risks like let go a few clients of mine (because at the time I cleaned beach condos in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina every Saturday in between vacationing guests). Talk about having faith..those Saturday clients were my biggest money-making days! True to who He is though, God provided other cleaning clients that made a way for where we are and what we clean today (mostly yacht clients and move-out turnover clients here in Texas). First, He exposed me to other realms of cleaning and then had us move all together to really embrace that set-apart, “clean” lifestyle of honoring Sabbath. The cleaning I do now for my cleaning business is intentionally on Monday through Friday to ensure I honor the Sabbath. The number 1 reason He had us move to Texas was to position us to still clean, still have plenty of free time to be in His Word and to serve others, but most importantly to ensure we could honor His Sabbath. After keeping Sabbath now for a few years, I still am learning more and more about such a critical day, but oh so blessed and glad I keep Sabbath for indeed it is a delightful gift from God!

During this most recent Sabbath, while randomly reading Isaiah 56, verses 7 to 8 jumped off the page to me with a deeper revelation that I never noticed before upon reading the same words. In a previous article, I penned about how contrary to what most of us Christians were taught, we aren’t actually “raptured” to heaven when Jesus returns, but rather Scripture reveals over and over again we are gathered more like a Second Exodus to Jerusalem also known as Mount Zion. You can read in great detail all the verses supporting that discovery here. So upon reading Isaiah 56:7-8, which says,

I realized the Sabbath is the sign or seal God looks for when He directs His angels to uproot the tares (the weeds) and simultaneously transplants the proverbial wheat to Jerusalem/Mount Zion to inherit the earth (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43; Psalm 37:7-31; Matthew 5:5; Revelation 5:10, 14:14-20). Notice, when Jesus goes on to decode the parable of the wheat and tares, He reveals both the tares and wheat are gathered, but what determines if they are a tare versus a wheat is if they fail to obey God’s law, His instructions, His Torah.

“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire..” (Matthew 13:41).

We also know, per 1 John 3:4, sin is defined as breaking God’s laws or being law-less or without God’s laws. Suddenly, all my studies came together. Oh, I get it, this is why Scripture reveals the Holy Spirit is a seal guaranteeing our redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14), and why it also says, the Spirit of Holiness aka Holy Spirit’s entire job is to cause us to obey God’s commands (Ezekiel 11:19-21, 36:27), and to do that which is holy (Romans 3:31, 7:12) such as the Sabbath (Genesis 2:3; Exodus 20:8, 31:14; Colossians 2:16; Hebrews 4:9; Revelation 1:10), why Revelation defines “saints” as those who both believe in Jesus AND keep God’s commands (Rev 12:17, 14:12, 20:4), why the Apostle Peter warns to not be deceived by people who twist the Apostle Paul’s words leading them to break Torah/God’s laws (2 Peter 3:14-18) and why the prophet Isaiah says the law will be sealed among God’s disciples (Isaiah 8:16), why Jesus said anyone who teaches God’s laws are considered great in His kingdom versus anyone who teaches God’s laws are done away with are least (Matthew 5:14-21), and why Jesus also says many will believe in Him, but few will keep His Father’s laws, His will for us, such as Sabbath (Matthew 7). Lastly, it is why various Scriptures says the Sabbath is the eternal sign of those who keep covenant which matches what Isaiah says in 56:7-8! There’s your sign!!

Moreover, it occured to me, if a day is a thousand years, according to 2 Peter 3:8, and there are 7 days of the week per God’s design (Genesis 1-2), and if the Jews understand we are presently in the 6th day on God’s prophetic timeline, then it is logical to believe the 7th day is the 1,000 Millennial Reign of Messiah, of Christ – it is His Day of Rest. In other words, if you fail to enter His rest now, by keeping Sabbath as a rehearsal to His ultimate Sabbath day rest, you can forget about entering in His Rest to come in the Millennium upon His return to rule and reign (Messianic Era)!

May His Spirit of Holiness guide you into such epic truth as He did for the prophets, myself, and so many others! God’s Spirit is opening eyes and circumcising hearts like never before causing a pandemic of infectious transforming truth to globally spread all over for His glory!

May we not be like the rebellious, who stiffen our necks and harden our hearts to the ways of God for our heart’s response to His documented voice reveals if we indeed are circumcised of the heart and led by His Spirit of Holiness causing us to want to obey and consequently, enter His rest.

For further reflection, please meditate on Ezekiel 20, Exodus 16, Psalm 95, and Hebrews 3-4. I also invite you to read this post connecting these passages. Have a great week and a delightful Sabbath as you rest in His truth!

Teaches and Does,

Carrie R. Turner, Feb 8-9, 2020

Seabbatical | Beshalach

In this week’s Torah lesson found in Exodus 13:17-17:16, we find Moses and the Israelites have been “sent away” or been set free from their bondage in order to purge from them the ways of Egypt while learning the ways of God.

Upon the Egyptians being swallowed up by the crashing waves of the Red Sea after the Israelites crossed over, Scripture reveals the LORD wanted the remaining Egyptians to know Who is the One True Living God (Exodus 14:18) while those who already know of Him, being the Israelites, would know to fear Him, to obey Him (Exodus 14:31). There is a difference in knowing who is LORD and personally knowing Him. There is a difference in believing IN God and believing Him. How is belief demonstrated? The Book of James, chapter 2, verses 19-20 tell us even the demons believe in God or know Who He is, but demons refuse to obey Him (James 2:19-20). Likewise, the Apostle James writes, full of the Spirit of Holiness, “faith without works is dead”, which is the same as saying a body without spirit or breath in it is dead (James 2:26). Many are “believers”, but few are “disciples”.

One’s trust in Messiah or God is demonstrated by obedience. In other words, authentic faith always produces good works, fruit. Jesus, or Yeshua, in His original Hebrew name, said, “You will know them (who are His disciples verses who are false disciples/prophets) by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:20). He goes on to say, many will acknowledge or believe He is Lord, but what truly reveals if their hearts are circumcised is if they do the will of His Father (Matthew 7:21). Jesus clarifies just two verses later, those who believe, but disobey His Father’s law, which is His Voice, are disregarded (Matthew 7:23). This also aligns with what the Apostle Paul teaches regarding the Father’s will is found in His law (Romans 2:18; 12:2).

Upon releasing the Israelites from their captivity or bondage to the Egyptians, or put another way, their bondage to sin, God gives them His Holy Spirit to guide them through the wilderness (Exodus 14:19-20; Isaiah 63:11-14). Consequently, upon believing in God and following His Spirit, the Israelites cannot help but to worship as we see demonstrated by Moses and Miriam rejoicing in song and praise. But the LORD reveals to them, He is not simply interested in hearing their songs or seeing them dance before Him, He is interested in hearts full of a daily lifestyle of worship so He continues to lead them and teach them His Heart, His ways.

In Exodus 15, starting in verse 22, after coming across bitter or sickly waters, the people complain or lift up their voices to Moses, a savior-like person representing God, who in turn mediates to God looking for guidance on how to meet the people’s need. The LORD instructs Moses on what to do and the waters are healed. God explains in Exodus 15:26, if His people diligently (not just on occasion when it is convenient for them) listen and obey His Voice by obeying His commandments and keeping them, He will heal them. God just demonstrated He not only can save them, He not only can pour out His mercy and grace by delivering them, as well as provide them His Spirit to guide them, but He can heal them as well; however, they need to trust and obey Him in order to reap such blessings.

Today, we see God still has not changed (Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 55:11; Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17). He first reveals to us Who He Is, the One True Living God, then delivers us from the captivity or bondage of our sin using His Son, Jesus/Yeshua, provides to us His Spirit to guide us, and then gives us His law, His commandments in order to benefit us and fulfill His will in us.

As we continue to read the Torah portion in Exodus 16, we see the people now are complaining of hunger. So once again, they cry out to their savior, Moses, and Moses mediates unto the LORD God. God in turn provides specific instructions to gather the food He provides in the amount they need for just that day, but on the sixth day to gather double the amount of what they need, because on the seventh day it is His Sabbath rest and there will be no provision that day (Exodus 16:22-30). Essentially, God is demonstrating to them they need to rest that day because He rests that day, which corresponds with exactly what God did upon creating the world (Genesis 2:2-3). This incident in the wilderness of God providing for their needs is both instructing and demonstrating Himself the significant commandment of keeping Sabbath, which later is recorded in the Top 10 (Exodus 20:8-11). The people keep the Sabbath and do their “grocery shopping” of collecting manna the day before on the 6th day, or put in modern terms, on Friday so they can rest on Shabbat, Sabbath, Saturday.

Exodus 16 is really the first full-teaching of entering God’s Sabbath rest. Interestingly enough, right after this critical truth is revealed to His people, they once again thirst and complain. Consequently, the place where their flesh manifests is called “Massah”, which means “testing”, an “Meribah”, which means “quarreling”. Essentially, the people’s flesh are testing God by quarreling with Him. The Apostle Paul explains our flesh rejects the ways of God, the law of God (Romans 8:7-10). How do you respond to God’s Spirit telling you to obey God’s law? For in how we react to His Voice or His commands reveals the condition of our hearts – is your heart quarrelsome and diseased? Do you want to be healed?

The author of Hebrews 3:7-4:13 both explains and quotes Psalm 95:8-11 describing this incident in Massah and Meribah where the people’s flesh tested and quarreled with God’s law prevented them from entering His rest. You see we may believe in God and even personally experience His grace, His provision, etc, but if we refuse to obey Him, it reveals our lack of trust. As the Apostle James explained, to believe is to obey.

Speaking is not believing and seeing is not believing, but rather surrendered obedience is believing.

In my own faith journey, I can relate to all these stages of development. First I was introduced to Him, then baptized as a young girl I crossed over, set free from my sin, eventually I received His Holy Spirit, and was re-baptized as an adult because even though I could remember the moment I believed in Him, I could not remember being baptized (only via pictures). Just prior to being baptized in His Spirit and water, He delivered me from my sin and consequent captivity or consequences of my sin when He literally saved me from my very own Pharoah, as I found myself in a toxic and dangerously lethal marriage. Afterwards, I was like Moses and Miriam, prophetic worship leaders, utterly grateful for delivering me from Egypt! Later in 2016, He invited me to let it all go and follow Him through a type of wilderness. While sojourning from place to place, from Pennsylvania to South Carolina to now Texas, He revealed to me the healing beauty and wonder of His written Voice, His law, His Sabbath and other critical truths, which I now cheerfully and willingly obey – not in order to be saved, but BECAUSE He saved me, I want to trust and obey. Consequently, I have grown in my intimacy with Him, love God more than ever, and want to serve Him, to worship Him by being set-apart as His Spirit of Holiness leads.

Where are you at in this “horribly-amazing-purification-process”? As you ponder your relationship with God, are you simply a “believer” or are you a cheerful “disciple” willing to follow Him wherever He leads and by doing whatever He said to do? As you examine your heart and just how circumcised it is this day, I invite you to read Isaiah 8:16.

Shabbat Shalom,

Carrie R Turner, February 7, 2020

#teachesanddoes

‘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

Fashioning Idols of Faith

We are meant to worship. 1 Peter 2:9 says we, those who believe Jesus is Messiah and have received Him as such, the redeemed, are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, called out so “that we may proclaim the praises of Him” who called us out darkness into His light. We are created by our Creator to be in relationship with Him…to be in covenant with Him…to worship Him and Him alone. Why? Is He some egotistical God that needs to be puffed up all day long? No. Rather, He understands we become what we behold and He wants us to be holy like He is holy presented by the Apostle Peter earlier in 1 Peter 1:16. Unfortunately, there are many unholy spirits infecting our hearts causing us to fashion and worship idols of faith.

I have been to countless places of worship full of numerous doctrines, but mostly still full of themselves. In each place, Abba Father (God) uses it all to reveal to me not just unholy spirits haunting the halls of churches or congregations, but the unholiness still pulsating in my heart as well. This is why the Lord provides us HIS Holy Spirit, also known as the Spirit of Holiness, because He specializes in removing the unholy and replacing it with holy! Perhaps that is the most accurate type of Replacement Theology – ha ha! 😉

Through my travels since being sent out or called by God to go wherever His Spirit says to go and say whatever He says to say – mostly to His people in a variety of settings, what I have discovered is we are still fashioning idols like the ancient Israelites did when they fashioned a golden calf to worship (Exodus 32). It is fascinating how we can turn anything, even godly things, into a god in of itself, an idol. People of faith often unknowingly fashion an idol out of some spiritual truth they have gleaned, or out of a spiritual gift, or we take our ministries, mission, our causes, etc. and those very good, God-given gifts or blessings become idols we worship rather than God Himself. We are guilty of worshiping these gifts instead of the Gifter. Instead of fashioning a calf out of gold, we have fashioned idols out of theologies, our spiritual gifts, our callings, our ministries and so forth. What makes it especially difficult to discern is they can actually be good things, but elevating our beliefs, practices, or ourselves above our God is obviously not a good thing. I have seen people put the gift of prophecy or their role as prophet or apostolic calling above God as if they ARE God. I have seen the concept of grace elevated so high permitting people to commit any sin abusing God’s grace putting grace above The Gracious God. I have seen believers strive to obey the laws of God and become Torah Terrorists to those who don’t as if THEY are the Lawgiver themselves. I have seen people put their identity or their own Jewish blood above Yeshua’s atoning blood. I have seen people elevate their own ministries above other ministries and even above the Ministry of Messiah. I could go on and on for we ALL do it. I am guilty of it as well – particularly if we come under various teachings or authority in whatever body of believers we align ourselves with we are subjecting ourselves to whatever that “head” thinks and instructs. For what the head thinks, the body will follow. What the eyes perceive, the vision will manifest. What you behold, you become.

For what the head thinks, the body will follow. What the eyes perceive, the vision will manifest. What you behold, you become.

I myself have been zealous for grace, zealous for the Holy Spirit and His gifts, zealous for the roles of the body of believers, zealous for accepting the whole word of God including Torah, zealous for authentic worship, zealous for embracing Jewish/Hebraic roots for more accurate revelation, etc. How easy it is for our hearts to be deceived by putting whatever spiritual truth we have gleaned as well as even false doctrines we have aligned with, whether knowingly or unknowingly, above the Discerner of Hearts.

Today, I invite you to allow the Spirit of Holiness to examine your heart and it’s motives as it looks for and uproots any unholy spirit trying to elevate themself above the Holy Spirit dwelling within you.

Shalom and Amen.

Carrie R. Turner, 10.21.19

A Dangerous Doctrine Haunting Messianic Judaism

***BE SURE TO READ UPDATE TO THIS ARTICLE BELOW***

After attending a Messianic Jewish congregation for nearly a year now, I have been exposed to a few peculiar doctrines that I wanted further clarification on for I was not sure if I was hearing various sentiments correctly. Three different Messianic Jewish ministries the congregation supports have subtly or boldly expressed the concept of all Jewish people are still in covenant with Hashem (God) regardless if they accept Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah or not. This was an instant red flag, nevertheless, I wanted to first verify this is indeed what was being occasionally proclaimed and if so, I wanted an explanation as to how one could come to such conclusions considering Scripture and the Jewish Messiah Himself rejects such connotations.

Upon reaching out to these three different ministries without getting a response, I approached my ‘Torah Club’ teacher, who also is an elder at the Messianic Jewish Congregation I’ve been regularly attending. ‘Torah Club’ is a ministry of First Fruits of Zion, and I found it immensely enriching as I came to learn more about the first five books of the Bible. Truly, while studying the Scriptures in Torah Club, the Holy Spirit blessed me by opening my eyes to so much revelation. I also found my teacher regularly provided additional value by bringing other books and Jewish insight to our class. I respect him as I have found him to be a brilliant teacher with an approachable and likeable demeanor. To his credit, he genuinely attempted numerous times to explain to me the best he could this strange and new-to- me-concept although with little to no Scripture to do so. Being I am a visual learner as well as live over an hour away (one way!) from congregation making it difficult to meet during the week, I inquired if he had articles or knew of video teachings he could guide me to. In hopes of helping me understand, the elder/teacher lent me First Fruits of Zion’s (FFOZ) Summer 2019 publication of Messiah Journal, Issue 134, a recent exclusive membership only publication.

Being hungry for truth and desperate to solve the mystery that has been periodically haunting me for several months, I devoured the journal, reading some of the articles more than once. Surprisingly though, upon reading the articles, I became angry and distressed even to the point of weeping for I could sense an UNholy spirit attempting to deceive undiscerning readers on not just this particular doctrinal point, but another as well (we will save that topic for a later post). One article titled, “Dismantling Replacement Theology” by D Thomas Lancaster defined and thoroughly covered concepts of Replacement Theology and why in the author and FFOZ’s perspective is evil.

“What is replacement theology?”, the author scribes. “It’s the idea that Christians have replaced Jews as God’s people.” Despite already having another red flag in my spirit, I kept reading with an open mind genuinely wanting to hear out his case. After explaining how Replacement Theology indeed teaches a replacement of all things old with all things new (i.e. the New Testament replaces the Old Testament, the Lord’s Day, being Sunday, replaces Sabbath, The Lord’s Supper replaces Passover,etc.), I was thus far mostly in agreement with him until Lancaster penned the following statements a few paragraphs into the article:

“Replacement theology is all about ‘out with the old and in with the new.’ It posits that all these old things were replaced when Jesus came and died and rose from the dead. The good news, the ‘gospel message’, according to replacement theology, is that God has replaced all the old systems with the new system. When stated as succinctly as that, it’s easy to sympathize with Jewish people who reject the gospel. Jews must surely think it puzzling that we would present the New Testament, which ostensibly replaces Judaism and all Jewish religious institutions and functions, as good news for Israel. Where’s the good news in the replacement-theology version of the good news? Israel has been replaced, the Torah has been cancelled, and God’s covenant with the Jewish people is over. Adding insult to the injury, replacement theology posits that Jewish people’s relationship with God has been replaced by a new order and mechanism for salvation, thereby damning most Jews to eternity in hell. Is it really a mystery why most Jewish people are none too excited about this so-called good news?”

While I certainly agree, Jesus/Yeshua did not come to start a new religion considering He too was Jewish and very clearly practiced the commandments found in His Father’s Torah, which isn’t always one and the same as Judaism, He did very succinctly make it clear just because one is physically a descendant of Abraham does not make you by default a child of God, or in Christian lingo ‘saved’, but Jesus/Yeshua does hint at the important spiritual birth of becoming a spiritual descendant of Abraham by doing the works of Abraham, which was faith (Hebrews 11:8-12) as was also expressed by the Apostle Paul.

I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you…If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham…If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God..You are of your father the devil..” Yeshua/Jesus, John 8:37-44 (NKJV)

Earlier in John 8 verses 23-24 (NKJV), Jesus says to the Pharisees, “You are from beneath; I am from the above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.

Later, in John 14:6 (NLT), Yeshua/Jesus says, ” Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.’

So did ‘Replacement Theology’ state Jewish people as well as all other ethnicities cannot enter into covenant with Abba Father except through Jesus, or did Yeshua/Jesus Himself state such truths? Did Jesus say the Pharisees are not of Abraham’s lineage just because they are Jewish or did some theologian come up with that random concept?

Likewise, did the Apostle Paul not express similar concepts when he scribed in Romans 9:6-8 to the Gentile Romans, ‘For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they ALL (my emphasis) children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ That is, those who are the children of the flesh (Jewish/Abraham’s physical descent), these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed (spiritually those whose faith is in Yeshua/Jesus.. spiritually born into Israel)”? Again, is this ‘Replacement Theology’ or a teaching of the most successful Apostle of human history inspired by the Holy Spirit?

I found it telling Lancaster provided not one Scriptural proof text that Israel/Jewish people were still in covenant upon Yeshua’s arrival or even after His death and resurrection and yet you find here are loads of Scripture to say otherwise (keep reading). Take note that the Mosaic Covenant was a conditional covenant loaded with “if/then” terms. For example, “If you obey My voice… then I will…” Conversely, God also clearly states the consequences if THEY break covenant versus other covenants like the Noahide Covenant was NOT conditional based off Noah’s response. There was nothing wrong with the Mosaic Covenant, but Hebrews 8:8 clearly states God “found fault in them“, meaning Israel’s inability to keep covenant by obeying Torah, which is why God provides His Holy Spirit to help those in the new covenant do that which is holy (Romans 7:12, Ezekiel 11:19-21, 36:27; Jeremiah 31:31-33). Please do take the time to dig into the below Scriptures for yourself for the truth will indeed set you free. Likewise, today, in modern times, we too can break up with God by denying Jesus as Messiah or continuing to intentionally sin; hence, why Yeshua says to all the ekklesia/assemblies of the last days, “To he who overcomes, I will give ..” and why Paul warns us in Romans 7, grafted in Gentiles can also be broken off, but he provides hope that it is possible for Jews to be re-grafted in upon believing in Yeshua as Messiah (Genesis 17:14; Exodus 19:5, 32:32-33; Leviticus 26:15,40-42; Deuteronomy 24:1-4/Romans 7:1-6; Deuteronomy 28:1,15, 29:1,9-15, 31:16, 27-29; Psalm 55:20, 69:28; Isaiah 33:8, 50:1; Jeremiah 3, 9:12-16, 11:1-11,15:6,16:10-13, 17:1, 24:4-7, 31:31-33, 33:20; Ezekiel 16:59, 17:15, 44:7, Zechariah 11:10; Luke 8:18; John 8:24, 37-59; Romans 8:28, 11:15-21; Hebrews 8:7-13, 10:26-39; James 5:19-20; 2 Peter 2:20-22; Revelation 2:7,11,17,26, 3:5,12,21, 12:11, 20:15, 21:5-8; 22:14 ).

As if all that wasn’t enough, Lancaster also writes, “A Christian Zionist might say, ‘I don’t teach replacement theology. The Jewish people are still the chosen people, but without Christ, they are still under the law.’ By ‘under the law’ he means lost and going to hell.

According to the Jewish Messiah, Mr. Lancaster, Jewish people who refuse to accept Jesus as Messiah, WILL die in their sins – that’s not ‘Replacement Theology’, that is the gospel.

Lancaster also writes in the next paragraph, “Any Bible-believing Evangelical might say, ‘Christians don’t replace Jews, but Jews need to come to Christ to be saved.’ How is this not replacement theology? The premise is that unless Jews become Christians, they will be damned.”

Frankly, at this blatant and obvious rejection of the truth of Jesus and the gospel message, I’m starting to question if Mr. Lancaster is even saved for not only does he contradict our Jewish Messiah’s own words and the message of the good news, but he not once defines what HIS definition of the good news is or how it is he comes to believe Jewish people are still in covenant when Scripture says otherwise!

It would seem to me Lancaster and those aligning with this particular heresy are forming their very own Replacement Theology where man’s opinion, man’s doctrine, or traditions, supersedes the plethora of Holy Scriptures that state otherwise: the good news of the gospel. Furthermore, if there was nothing wrong with the Mosaic Covenant made between God and ancient Israel (not to mention those that aligned themselves with Israel) commonly known as the Old Covenant, what is the point of sending a Savior? In other words, if there is nothing needing to be saved from, why a Savior, God? Mr. Lancaster doesn’t seem to believe the Jewish people need a Savior – just the Gentiles need one perhaps? If the Mosaic Covenant between God and Israel is just fine and dandy, why does the law (Deuteronomy 30) and prophets (Jeremiah 31), Yeshua (Matthew 26:28), and the author of Hebrews (7-10) write about a ‘New Covenant’? What is the point of a New/Renewed Covenant if they are still in the original covenant and everything is honky dory? What is the point of offering a personal subscription to the Holy Spirit in the New Covenant if they are walking in an authentic spirit of holiness already? If Jewish people are automatically, by default saved as this article infers in multiple places, why the need for ‘Messianic’ Judaism? Why proselytize the Jewish people for they are God’s elite chosen people perpetually just fine still in covenant with Hashem? Why did Jesus say He came for the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24) if according to THIS theology they aren’t actually lost?

In what may seems like an innocent and convincing attempt to quell Anti-Semitism, while hoping to proselytize Jewish people (since Jewish tradition also teaches Jews are still in covenant), this dangerous doctrine propagates an even more damning unholy Anti-Messiah spirit that will be loving Jews straight to hell by elevating Jewish blood over Yeshua’s spilled atoning blood. Sadly, upon bringing this critical salvation matter to the attention of the elders through proper channels outlined in Matthew 18, and after being exposed multiple times to the pharisaical religious spirit, I was invited to worship elsewhere should I continue to adhere to the truth of at least the gospel itself known to them as ‘Replacement Theology’. Consequently, I will not damn my own soul while leading others to hell with me by denying Yeshua is the ONLY way to the Father.

Please Note: Hopefully, this erroneous doctrine does not plague all of Messianic Judaism, but if you are seeking or attending a Messianic Jewish congregation, I implore you to ‘Call to Abba’ to seek out things which you do not know for we must test everything and be ready to give an account of what we believe and what we align ourselves with (Romans 14:12). ❤

UPDATE January 2020: Upon studying Scripture these delightful Shabbats in January, the Holy Spirit led me to some fascinating and illuminating passages that I suspect may be what some Messianic Jewish ministries may have been referencing regarding God honoring the Abrahamic Covenant by ultimately saving Jews/Israel and bringing back the scattered tribes to the land as promised. While I am still processing various Scriptures found in the prophets and in the New Testament with one another, it appears some genetic descendants of the twelve tribes/Israel (possibly the 144K discussed in Revelation 7 and 14) are indeed gathered like a Second Exodus or what mainstream Christianity would label as “raptured” to the land of Israel in one day (Ezekiel 36:33; Zephaniah 2:7, 3:8-20) and in the process experience being baptized in water and Spirit by the LORD (Ezekiel 36:24-28) like God Himself literally is physically saving them and spiritually saving them in a reversed type of born-again experience. Similarly, Ezekiel 37 reveals Abba Father resurrects all of Israel (Ezekiel 37:11) and does a similar type of reverse born-again experience (Ezekiel 37:13-14) enacting a new and improved covenant with them. Likewise, Jeremiah 30-31 and Zechariah 12-13 seem to express similar if not the same sentiments of genetic Israel being “saved” eventually. Based off the fact that the following chapters of Ezekiel match various chapters and verses in Revelation (i.e compare the birds and beasts eating the deceased/fall of Babylon in Revelation 19:17-18 with Ezekiel 39:17-18), it would appear this Second Exodus and Resurrection usher us into the Messianic Era/Millennial Rule and Reign of Messiah.

In addition to the natural birth children of Israel being miraculously transported to the land of Israel, the adopted, grafted-in children of spiritual Israel (Romans 11; Galatians 3:26-29; Ephesians 2:11-22) experience the same inheritance described in the New Testament. So it would seem both genetic Jews/Israel and the adopted/spiritual Jews/Israel (formerly known as Gentiles) are circumcised of the heart through the Spirit of Yeshua, the Holy Spirit, but as to how and when is what differs. Nevertheless, they all are blended into one olive tree, one new man, one Family, one kingdom, one nation of priests eventually (Ezekiel 37-48). NOW, I think I understand what my teacher at the Messianic Congregation as well as Mr. Lancaster, of First Fruits of Zion, was trying to explain, but it would have been helpful to go into such details with Scripture. Regardless of our plethora of interpretations and ideologies founded on Scripture, ultimately, Abba decides whom He deems is “Israel” and will have mercy on.

Romans 11:28-36 (NKJV)

28 Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, 31 even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
35 “Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”

36 For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.

Worshipful Wednesday | Yom Kippur

“Create In Me A Clean Heart” seemed to be an appropriate song for Yom Kippur, this Day of Atonement. Thank You, Yeshua/Jesus, our Messiah, for shedding your blood and providing us Your Holy Spirit to justify us, to seal us, and disinfect the unholiness from our hearts. ❤