The first thing many people say when you tell them that you believe in keeping God’s commandments is, “You are a Pharisee”, or “You are a legalist”. The idea behind calling someone a “Pharisee” comes from the fact that the sect of the Pharisees as a general rule opposed Yeshua’s (Jesus) teaching. The concern that we not have the same wrong doctrines and attitudes as the Pharisees is a legitimate concern.
Being a Pharisee in itself is not necessarily a problem. The Apostle Paul said more than once that he was a Pharisee (e.g. Acts 23.6, Philippians 3.5). When you read his statements he was not saying that being a Pharisee was a bad thing, but that it was of no advantage either when it came to the knowledge of Messiah.
Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were both Pharisees, members of the Sanhedrin, and followers of Yeshua.
So what exactly was the problem with the Pharisees as a sect? What did they believe that caused them to oppose Yeshua, and caused him to reprove them? Was it because they believed and kept the Torah (law) of God?
The answer to that is ABSOLUTELY NOT. It was not their keeping of the Torah that was a problem, but it was exactly the opposite that was the problem; they did NOT keep the Torah. Yeshua said:
Mark 7:6-9 TLV And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors Me with their lips but their heart is far from Me. (7) And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ (8) Having left behind the commandment of God, you hold on to the tradition of men.” (9) He was also telling them, “You set aside the commands of God, in order that you may validate your own tradition.
The problem was that many/most of the Pharisees held doctrines that they believed superseded God’s Torah. They believed that they could evade or circumvent God’s commandment by keeping their doctrines. They believed that they could actually change the Torah of God.
One of the examples Yeshua gave of their disobedience to God’s Torah was where the Pharisees allowed that a person could dedicate their money to God, and because they had dedicated it to God they believed that they were no longer obligated to financially support their parents when they had need. Yeshua reproved them for doing this because they set aside God’s commandment to, “Honor thy father and thy mother”, for the commandments and traditions of men.
One statement that is frequently made to prove that Yeshua was against the keeping Torah is the discussion in Mark 7 concerning the washing of hands. “See! Yeshua reproved the Pharisees for keeping the law!” This of course doesn’t prove that we should not keep Torah, but it shows the person’s ignorance of God’s Torah, because there is NO commandment in Torah concerning a person’s obligation to wash his hands before he eats. This was just another “Pharisaic” tradition of men.
The truly sad thing about the accusation that someone is being a “Pharisee” or a “legalist” when they try to keep God’s commandments is that the person making the accusation is actually the “Pharisees” by setting aside the Torah of God for their own traditions.
Romans 3:31 TLV Do we then nullify the Torah through faithfulness? May it never be! On the contrary, we uphold the Torah.
They called him El Shaddai meaning God Almighty.
Exo 6:2-3 CJB
(2) God spoke to Moshe; he said to him, “I am Adonai .
(3) I appeared to Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya`akov as El Shaddai, although I did not make myself known to them by my name, Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh ( י ה ו ה ) [Adonai].”
El Shaddai is a title or description of one of Elohim’s (God’s) characteristics. Here Elohim announces that he is introducing to Israel His Name, called here Adonai.
Adonai is a substitution for the Hebrew tetragrammaton, יהוה (Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey; YHVH), which is used to avoid saying the name of Elohim for several reasons. One is that it has been so long since Elohim’s name has been used that no one is certain how it is actually pronounced, and another is to avoid using the name of Elohim lest a person accidentally take His Name in vain. Jews sometimes substitute HaShem, meaning “The Name”, or AdoShem, and combination of Adonai and HaShem. The Authorized Version (KJV) continues this practice, by replacing YHVH with “LORD” in all caps to indicate that the tetragrammaton is in the Hebrew text.
There are a few places in the KJV where the Name of Elohim is actually transliterated Jehovah. I believe a more correct rendering would be YeHoVaH. Of course part of the point of this blog is to make the point that it is not necessary to have the exact correct Name of Elohim as long as we, like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob know Him.
In a previous post I postulated that Yeshua (probably) used His Father’s name when speaking. Even though I believe Yeshua used His Father’s Name I don’t believe from this and other scriptures (See also Genesis 17.1; 28.3; 35.11; 48.3) that it can be established that all the patriarchs, specifically Avraham, Yitz’chak, and Ya’akov, knew Elohim’s name (or if they DID know it they did not use it). The important conclusion I would come to based on the fact that the patriarchs did not know (or use) His Name is that knowing His Name is not necessary for salvation, worship, or service of Elohim, YeHoVaH.
That does not preclude the use of His Name, YeHoVaH, either. When YeHoVaH appeared to Moshe in the wilderness they had this discussion:
Exo 3:13-15 CJB
(13) Moshe said to God, “Look, when I appear before the people of Isra’el and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you’; and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what am I to tell them?”
(14) God said to Moshe, “Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh [I am/will be what I am/will be],” and added, “Here is what to say to the people of Isra’el: ‘Ehyeh [I Am or Will be],” has sent me to you.’ ”
(15) God said further to Moshe, “Say this to the people of Isra’el: [YeHoVaH] ‘Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh (י ה ו ה ), the God of your fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitz’chak and the God of Ya`akov, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever; this is how I am to be remembered generation after generation.
Moshe was told to tell them that “YeHoVaH” had sent him unto them; not Adonai, HaShem, the LORD, etc, but “YeHoVaH”.
We see YeHoVaH calling down from Mount Sinai in the hearing of all the children of Israel saying:
Exo 34:6 CJB
(6) Adonai passed before him and proclaimed: “YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH!!! Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh ( י ה ו ה ) [Adonai] is God, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth;
You can pretty much be sure that YeHoVaH was not spelling out his name as this reference from the Complete Jewish Bible, but we see that He called it and His Ten Commandments out in such a thundering manner that it struck fear and dread into the hearts of the children of Yisrael.
We also ought to call upon His name, YeHoVaH, with reverence and the fear of Elohim as we have been commanded in His Word.
For those who for conscience say avoid saying HaShem I show deference to them. If El Shaddai was good enough for Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob it is good enough for me. We should have respect for those who love Elohim, and not be caught up in divisions over something none of us can be 100% certain about.
Joh 13:34-35 CJB
(34) “I am giving you a new command: that you keep on loving each other. In the same way that I have loved you, you are also to keep on loving each other. (35) Everyone will know that you are my talmidim by the fact that you have love for each other.”
There is no doubt that my father was the chief influence Yehovah used for the direction of my life.
One nursery rhyme my father used to love to quote goes like this:
“There was a little girl who had a curl in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good she was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.”
This is a pretty good description of my father. He had some extremely good character qualities, but he also had an incredible temper.
In many ways he was one of the best men I ever knew. One of his outstanding qualities was honesty. Not only did he want to be honest, but he did not want to appear to be dishonest to others. He would go out of his way to do extra things so that everyone knew he was being honest. He conveyed the importance of that truth very well to me.
This quality impressed me so much that he himself told me once that I was too honest. What he meant was that I tended to tell people things that were none of their business in order to be sure I never lied.
Another of his qualities he was his love of the Bible. He regularly read and studied it, and taught it in adult Sunday School class. The little Presbyterian church in which I grew up did not have a full-time pastor, but shared a pastor with a church in another neighborhood. As a result we had only Sunday School in the morning, and church at night. As a replacement for the morning church service my father would read the Bible and attempt to discuss it with our family around the table after the noon meal on Sunday.
It was not just his love for scripture that influenced me, but that he would discuss the scripture (or politics) with me. He would allow me to give my opinion, even though he might disagree, without repercussion. I could express almost any concept, and his response was generally to explain to my why he felt I was incorrect.
This was a great gift. This discussions with him has greatly honed my understanding for Elohim’s Word for which I am thankful. Not only that, but it motivated me to venture into areas of understanding that I might not have normally ventured into except for the great spiritual hunger the discussions created. Also, the affection I developed for my Dad through these discussions helped me to overcome the bitterness that developed in my siblings, because of my father’s angry discipline.
His anger was what made my father “horrid”. He would get angry and spank us beyond reasonable limits. Numerous times his spanking gave me large bruises on my behind. I’m sure it was the same with my brother and sisters.
Even worse than the anger with which he disciplined us was the fact that many times his anger was for trivial things. A few times I recalled being spanked undeservedly.
Although his spanking was extreme at times, I don’t ever recall him slapping or hitting me. His discipline was always with a belt or stick given on my behind.
One thing that he applied for psychological effect, I believe, is that he would chase us as if he were going to kick us in the behind to motivate us to move faster, but as I look back I do not ever recall him actually connecting the kick.
Because of his over-correction I believe my brother and sisters still seem to have anger and to have difficulty forgiving him. Though I have some struggle with this I believe having a forgiving spirit has been easier to me, because of the conversations we would have concerning the scripture.
My mother once asked me if I knew what happened to the old, heavy belt with which my Dad used to spank us.
I told her that I had realized at one point that he was no longer using the belt, but did not know what had happened to it.
She said, “I threw it away”.
The only answer I could give to that was, “God bless you!”
My father died of prostate cancer from which he might have been spared if he had not put off going to the doctor until he could wait no longer. Unfortunately by the time he got to the doctor the cancer had metastasized, and all the doctors could do was to try to keep him as comfortable as possible.
One advantage if you can use that word concerning dying of cancer over something fast like a heart attack was that the slow nature of my Dad’s death gave me the opportunity to sit and talk with him, kiss him on the cheek, and tell him that I loved him. That has helped me NOT to have regrets concerning my father.
It is not a wonder that the USA is in such dire straights. Just yesterday (Sep 4, 2012) God and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel were denied three times by the Democratic National Convention.
Not about my Bible or political comments. I’ll always be right about those.
What I need help with is my spelling and my English. If you see an error let me know.
The reason I need help is that English was the only foreign language I took in school.
One of the blind spots I have found among folks in the Messianic movement is that some like to talk in a technobabble. By the term “technobabble” I mean they talking in terms not understood by their uninitiated listeners. Often they speak this way to impress others, or because it sounds spiritually superior to them. Unfortunately they are accomplishing exactly the opposite effect. You do not prove that you are smarter or better than other people by talking “over their heads”.
Herb’s Rule of Being Understood:
Smart people understand their audience, and are able to speak to their audience so their audience understands.
There may actually be occasions where the person(s) listening won’t be able to understand. Several are:
- The listener does not have the mental capacity to understand, or just doesn’t care. In this case it is waste of time to try to explain. This is similar the seed by the wayside (Mark 4.4).
- The listener is too biased to “hear” what you are saying. This is a case that is worse than the first. At least you might be able to educate the ignorant. “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.” (Pro 26:12 KJV). This is similar to the seed that fell on the stony ground (Mark 4.5).
- The listener just doesn’ t have the time to consider the discussion. This is similar to the seed that fell among thorns (Mark 4.7).
If the person listening does not fall into one of these categories, and is nominally intelligent and “listens” to you you should be able to make yourself understood.
It is for this reason that I will be posting definitions in separate posts under the category of “Terminology”. These will be to assist anyone reading to understand what I am talking about, but also to enable me to be concise and not have to repeat the definition in each post. So if you find a word that you are not quite sure you understand look under the category of “Terminology”.
If you don’t find the term there or my definition is not adequate post a comment, and I will attempt to clear up my own “technobabble”.
Thank you for reading my blog. Let me hear from you.
One troubling contention that I have recently heard is that Yeshua (Jesus) never used His Father’s actual name, Yehovah (Jehovah; the Tetragrammaton). In my opinion it is an assertion that is impossible to establish, and most likely is not true for some good reasons.
The main reason why I find it troubling is that in order to say he never used His Father’s name you pretty much have to say that he followed the traditions of “the scribes and Pharisees” i.e. the rabbinical leaders of His time, however when you read the gospels you find Yeshua in continual contention with the Pharisees over their traditions. They were replacing the commandments of Elohim (God) with their traditions for which Yeshua always reproved them. Given His criticism of the leaders of the Jews, which ultimately led them to crucifying him, I believe it is ludicrous to say he followed this tradition. I will deal more thoroughly with the subject of Yeshua’s division with the Jewish leadership over their traditions in a future post.
The strongest argument I find that Yeshua actually used His Father’s name is that Matthew 23.37-39. Here in this verse he is mourning over the nation of Israel’s rejection of Him:
Mat 23:37-39 KJV
(37) O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
(38) Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
(39) For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord (Yehovah).
In verse 39 he is actually a quote from Psalm 118.26:
Psa 118:26 KJV
(26) Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD (Yehovah): we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD (Yehovah).
Here are several things that I have observed concerning this quote that indicate he actually used the name of Yehovah.
1. Hebrew was most likely Yeshua’s native language:
The Brit Chadashah (New Testament) is written in Greek, but Yeshua’s language was almost certainly NOT Greek, but Hebrew and Aramaic. He would have certainly known and understood the language of the Tanakh. In Luke 4.17-18 when he was in his home synagogue we see him reading from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah in his home synagogue.
One corroboration from scripture to establish Hebrew as the main language of the Jews is an event that happened to the Apostle Paul. When he was being attacked by the crowds in the temple, and wanted to get the attention of those attacking him he spoke in Hebrew, which caused them to be silent and listen (Acts 22.1-2).
So when Yeshua taught and spoke of the scripture he was using the language of the scripture, Hebrew and Aramaic.
2. We know the actual name was used in the text of Psalm 118.26:
When we look into the text of the Psalm there is no doubt what word is used for the Father’s name; it is Yehovah (Yod-Hey-Vav-Hey). As a matter of fact the testimony of the whole of the Tanakh is to use The Name. It is used more than 6,000 times even in the Massoretic Hebrew text. If there is a problem with pronouncing the name of Yehovah then why is it recorded in His Word over and over.
3. If Yeshua did not use Elohim’s name he would be guilty of misquoting scripture:
If He did NOT use His Father’s name he would be guilty of misquoting the scripture by substituting a word not used in the in the text.
4. If Yeshua did not use Elohim’s name he could not fulfil all the commandments:
In order to be a perfect substitute for our sins He had to obey the Torah (Law) in every respect. Since we are commanded to call upon, swear by, and bless in the name of Yehovah he would have been disobeying these commandment NOT to use His Name, which would disqualify Him as the perfect sacrifice.
5. By using another word for the name of Elohim you may very well change the intended meaning of the verse:
If Yeshua quoted the verse as saying “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of ‘Adonai’ or ‘the LORD'”, you could infer that he was saying they would not see him again until they were ready to welcome him back again.
If Yeshua quoted the verse as saying, “Blessed is he that cometh in the name of Yehovah”, it conveys a much different meaning in the context of Yeshua’s relationship with the religious leaders. By actually using Elohim’s name he could be saying, “You won’t see me again until you abandon your man-made tradition of not saying Elohim’s name, and beginning to sanctify His name by actually blessing by the name of Yehovah”.
6. To assert that Yeshua did not know His Father’s name is ridiculous:
One of the main reason for substituting a title such as Adonai or The Lord for the name of Elohim is that we do not we do not know how to pronounce the name of Elohim, however it is totally ridiculous to say that Yeshua, Elohim’s only begotten son, did not know how to pronounce His own Father’s name.