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The problem was that many/most of the Pharisees held doctrines that they believed superseded God’s Torah.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.


What did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob Call Elohim (God)?

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.”

Terminology or Technobabble?

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. 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.