LIVING BY THE LIVING WORD

alternate textThere is an increasing number of people lately who have chosen to follow Scriptures more accurately than what the Church has done over many centuries. Every now and then these people are confronted with a so called “truth” or “revelation”, or perhaps just a statement by someone in a position of authority, that comes across as extraordinary and fresh and new, but sometimes even shocking and disturbing. On the one hand, these people are hungry for the Word of Yahweh and quite eager to discover new truths, getting rid of any trace of man-made traditions and false teachings. But on the other hand, they find themselves in a place where, more than likely, they’ve never been before. This place is somewhat similar to the city of Athens in the time of the apostle Shaul, a city of which the following was said in Acts 17:21:

“For all the Athenians and the strangers living there spent their leisure time in doing naught but to speak or to hear what is fresh.”

To be in a place like this is not necessarily a bad thing. Nothing wrong with speaking and hearing what is fresh and new. To me, however, the problem lies with the words “they spent their leisure time in doing naught but to speak and to hear what is fresh”. Now this is where things may get out of hand. When people are getting obsessed with speaking and hearing what is fresh and new. When this is how they spend their leisure time – even reaching a stage where they are pretty much doing nothing else! In a scenario like this, it is almost inevitable that “fresh” will soon become “not so fresh” and “new” will no longer reflect the true words of Yahweh and his faithful messengers.

The challenge that we are facing, is to live by the living Word, and to change our lifestyle and our beliefs if we find out that these have been contrary to what the Word of Yahweh is clearly portraying. But this is not where the challenge ends. We are furthermore challenged not to fall into the trap of adopting any “fresh” teaching that has a nice ring to it, sounds logical, and even looks “fairly” Scriptural, but does not reflect the undisputed and straightforward principles and truths of Yahweh’s Word. Let us look at a number of examples where people’s eagerness to find (and announce publicly) “new” truths from Scriptures, has resulted in statements and claims that (at least) in some ways contradict Scriptures and may eventually bring about more confusion than clarity.

The claim that the Hebrew word “et” (consisting of the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and found in the first chapter of Bereshit / Genesis) is proof that Y’shua (who is often called the “Alpha” and the “Omega” or the “Aleph” and the “Tau”) is the true Creator of heaven and earth. This conclusion is often drawn from the following verse:

Gen 1:1 In the beginning Elohim created (Heb. “barah Elohim”) the heavens (Heb. “et ha-shamayim”) and the earth (Heb. “et ha-aretz”).

The truth is that the word “et” has a specific function within the Hebrew language and cannot (and should not) be translated or broken up into two Hebrew letters. If one looks carefully at the more than 600 places where this word “et” is used in the Tanach, it becomes abundantly clear that it is definitely not a hidden reference to the presence of Y’shua in any of those passages.

Suggestion: Instead of reading into the first chapter of Bereshit something that “lies behind the text”, why not rather take seriously what is stated simply and clearly: In the beginning Elohim (Yahweh) created the heavens and the earth (which means what we can see around us did not come into being by accident or by chance or in any other way)?

The claim that men need to wear kippah’s, or something similar, as head coverings because the priests wore “bonnets” and the believers are called a “royal priesthood” in Scriptures. This conclusion is drawn from the followings verse (among others):

1 Pet 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a people for a possession, that you should proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.

The truth is that there is no specific commandment for men to wear head coverings in Scriptures, that the priesthood in our day is of a different nature than in the days of the physical temple, that the outfit and garments of the priests consisted of much more than bonnets or head coverings only and that in Shaul’s time men were specifically advised not to cover their heads when prophesying or praying (1 Cor 11).

Suggestion: Instead of insisting that men have their heads covered, why not rather focus on the meaning and implications of Y’shua being our High Priest and our “covering” and on what it means to be part of the “set-apart priesthood” who, according to 1 Kepha (1 Peter) 2:5, is called to bring “spiritual offerings acceptable to Elohim through Y’shua Messiah”?

The claim that there is absolutely no difference between believers in Messiah, no matter if they are Jewish or non-Jewish, and that every single aspect of Torah, including measures like circumcision and tzit-tzit (tassels), are applicable to all Messianic believers. This conclusion is drawn, among others, from the following verse:

Rom 10:12 Because there is no distinction between Yehudite and Greek, for the same Master of all is rich to all those calling upon Him.

The truth is that these and other verses, stating the fact that there is no distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Messiah, are referring to unity in belief, purpose and inheritance and do not deny the essential differences in background, customs, etc. between these two groups of believers. In one of the many chapters where it is categorically stated that believers from a non-Jewish background should not be required to be circumcised (as is the case with those from a Jewish background), it is also emphasised that there is “no distinction” between these two groups (Acts 15:9).

Suggestion: Instead of falling into the same error as the Judaizers spoken of in Galatians, by insisting upon typical Jewish customs like circumcision, why not rather focus on the essential unity that needs to be present and real and visible – not only among Jewish and non-Jewish believers, but also among different groupings of non-Jewish believers?

The claim that there is nothing in Scriptures prohibiting polygamy / polygyny, the practice where one man may have or take more than one wife. This conclusion is drawn (among others) from the following verse:

Deu 21:15-16 When a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved … then … he is not allowed to treat the son of the beloved wife as first-born …

The truth is that it was Yahweh’s design from the beginning that a man should leave his father and mother, cleave to his wife, becoming one flesh with her. The fact that later on He allowed men to have more than one wife (which may have happened for the same reason that He made “allowance” for divorce – because of “the hardness of their hearts”) does not mean that it is now a universal principle that all men may have more than one wife. In the Messianic Scriptures the principle of one man, one wife is re-iterated (1 Tim 3:2; 1 Tim 3:12; Tit 1:6).

Suggestion: Instead of trying to elevate the dangerous practice of polygyny to the status of Scriptural principle, why not rather focus on the many undisputed Scriptural principles given especially for establishing sound and steadfast marriages?