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The problem was that many/most of the Pharisees held doctrines that they believed superseded God’s Torah.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.
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.
The intricate detail of the work Elohim (God) weaves into our lives is a marvelous thing. He works the tapestry of our live by His Word through Ruach (Spirit) using the people and events he brings into our lives. There is no way, however, that any person can comprehend the work that he is doing from begining to end.
- (Ecc 3:11 CJB) He has made everything suited to its time; also, he has given human beings an awareness of eternity; but in such a way that they can’t fully comprehend, from beginning to end, the things God does.
I am aware that Elohim has used people and events He has brought into my life to influence and direct me in His Word and to a Messianic understanding. Some of these people and events have made a deep impression on me. They have influenced my understanding of salvation through Yeshua (Jesus) and His bringing me to the Torah for which I want to give Elohim the glory.
Of course I am sure that there are many people and events of which I am unaware or which I do not fully appreciate. I should probably be thankful to numerous people who deliberately contributed effort toward my spiritual growth that I haven’t even noticed. Expressing gratitude to others for their help in you life is a good thing, because it helps to keep you humble, and to know that the work was not yours but Elohim’s.
My purpose with this blog is to explain the ones that I understand so that you will understand how Elohim has moved me to be Messianic.
I wanted to do this blog, because I want to express to my friends, family, and any who just might be interested concerning my faith in Yeshua Messiah (know to most as Jesus Christ), and why I consider Him my main motivation in life. Some may actually, believe it or not, benefit from my experiences and “wisdom”.
In a spiritual sense I sometimes feel like the blind man in John 9. Because the Pharisees did not want to believe Yeshua, they were examining the miracle of Yeshua’s healing of the blind man to find fault with it. The Pharisees told the blind man that they knew that Yeshua was a sinner. (Joh 9:25 CJB) [The blind man answered], “Whether he’s a sinner or not I don’t know. One thing I do know: I was blind, now I see.”
Yehovah (KJV: the LORD) has opened my (spiritual) eyes, and for this I am eternally grateful.
Does this mean that I have any wisdom much greater than others? I can assure you that is not so. However, like any other believer I have my own gifts. Some will benefit more than other from my thoughts (assuming any read my thoughts). Even those much wiser than I could very well profit from my little wisdom, because a big object casts a big shadow, that is even very wise men have blind spots, and because of their wisdom they sometimes have trouble being convinced they have a blind spot.
I welcome comments from readers. There is nothing I like better than a good argument. However, any disagreement must be a friendly, and not become personal. Also, I won’t allow someone to hijack my blog to pump out false doctrine or nonsense with their comments. Be reasonable.
Of course no one can benefit from wisdom not said. That “being said” we all need to be cautious how we say even the truth.
- (Pro 15:2 CJB) The tongue of the wise presents knowledge well, but the mouth of a fool spews out folly.
Above all I want to help any with difficult questions or situations to respond to those question or situations within a scriptural framework. One person I heard speak said that there was no worse insult than to accuse a man of being “objective”. I agree with this statement. We should never be objective, but subject everything to the light of scripture.
- (Eph 2:20 CJB) You have been built on the foundation of the emissaries and the prophets, with the cornerstone being Yeshua the Messiah himself.
- (Eph 2:11-16 CJB) Therefore, remember your former state: you Gentiles by birth — called the Uncircumcised by those who, merely because of an operation on their flesh, are called the Circumcised — at that time had no Messiah. You were estranged from the national life of Isra’el. You were foreigners to the covenants embodying God’s promise. You were in this world without hope and without God. But now, you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of the Messiah’s blood. For he himself is our shalom — he has made us both one and has broken down the m’chitzah which divided us by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances. He did this in order to create in union with himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom, and in order to reconcile to God both in a single body by being executed on a stake as a criminal and thus in himself killing that enmity.