Tag Archives: Law

Is drinking Alcohol a sinful act?

Can Christians drink Alcohol? Depending on which denomination you belong to, they may give you varied responses to this question. But what does the Bible say? Is it considered as sin according to God’s Law and Scripture? Let us look at the evidence.

The Main 2 types of Alcohol mentioned in the Scriptures
The Scriptures consistently mention 2 variants of alcoholic beverages; namely “wine” & “strong drink”. Wine was usually fermented grape juice while Strong Drink could be any form of Alcohol which was much more potent.
• H3196 – יין – yah’-yin – From an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication: – banqueting, wine, wine [-bibber].
• H7941 – שׁכר – shay-kawr’ – From H7937; an intoxicant, that is, intensely alcoholic liquor: – strong drink, + drunkard, strong wine.

Non Alcoholic Wine is also mentioned throughout the Scriptures as:
• H8492 –  תּירושׁ – tee-roshe’ – From H3423 in the sense of expulsion; must or fresh grape juice (as just squeezed out); by implication (rarely) fermented wine: – (new, sweet) wine.
The 38 instances where new wine is mentioned – (Gen_27:28,37; Num_18:12; Deu_7:13; 11:14; 12:17; 14:23; 18:4; 28:51; 33:28; Jdg_9:13; 2Ki_18:32; 2Ch_31:5; 32:28; Neh_5:11; 10:37; 10:39; 13:5; 13:12; Psa_4:7; Pro_3:10; Isa_24:7; 36:17; 62:8; 65:8; Jer_31:12; Hos_2:8,9; 2:22; 4:11; 7:14; 9:2; Joe_1:10; 2:19; 2:24; Mic_6:15; Hag_1:11; Zec_9:17)

A) There was no restriction in consuming Alcohol other than specific cases such as Priests who go into the tabernacle and people who have taken a Nazarite vow, as seen below.

Lev 10:9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:
Eze 44:21 Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court.
Num 6:3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.
Num 6:20 And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine.
Jdg 13:7 But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.

B) Alcohol was used inside the tabernacle for some offerings

Num 28:7 And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering.

C) God specifically allowed people who came to Jerusalem, to tithe and then be joyful. Strong Drink was specifically allowed in this regard

Deu 14:26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

D) Alcoholic Wine was not prohibited in the 1st century church either. Paul advices for restraint when consuming alcohol but never prohibits it altogether.

1Ti 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
Tit 1:7,8 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
Tit 2:2,3 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
1Ti 3:2,3 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

E) Paul even advices Timothy to drink some wine as it would help him with digestion

1Ti 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. 

F) There are many instructions in Scripture to keep away from Wine & Strong Drink as they could hinder your ability to follow YHVH wholly. Falling into Drunkenness is clearly condemned by Scripture.

Pro 31:4-7 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
Isa 28:7,8 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.
Pro 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Pro 23:20,21
Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
Pro 23:29-32 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
Isa 5:11
Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!
Gal 5:21
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess;
but be filled with the Spirit;
Rom 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
1Pe 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

G) Even though Alcoholism and drunkenness is condemned in the Scriptures “Wine” is seen as a positive blessing given by God to man for his pleasure.

Psa 104:14,15 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.
Psa 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Ecc 9:7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.

H) There are many instances in the Scriptures where drinking alcohol has caused harm. These moments act as a reminder that Alcohol can become a large barrier in one’s life.

Gen 9:21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
2Sa 11:13 And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.

I) There are many examples to show that the drinking of wine was commonplace in the time of the Scriptures as well as the first century.

Gen 43:34 And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.
1Sa 1:14,15 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.
Luk 7:33,34 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
1Co 11:21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

Conclusion
Alcohol can be a touchy subject in Christian circles to say the least, being seen as a outward manifestation of piety. The Scriptures on the other hand goes against this trend and does not condemn the consumption of alcohol; only the excessive usage of alcohol and drunkenness. While there is a massive amount of evidence to suggest that using wine or other more potent alcoholic beverages is not an issue according to the Bible, whomever consumes alcohol should be fully able to control oneself, so that he/she does not fall into sin through the acts of drunkenness or alcoholism. While it is a better choice to distant yourself from alcohol, we must understand that there is no such precept in God’s Law or Scripture. It is a personal choice which should be taken with care!

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Is making Oaths prohibited? Misunderstandings regarding the Sermon on the Mount

It is a common teaching that as Christians, we should not make oaths or swear in the name of God, and that Messiah taught explicitly against swearing in His Sermon on the Mount. At face value it seems that Christ said making oaths/swearing which was a precept from the Law of God was evil. Have we misunderstood Christ’s words in Matthew 5:33-37 ? further study maybe needed to check the validity of this claim.

Oaths in the Law of God
While Oaths and vows seem to be the same, a vow is a “solemn promise” made between two entities, while an oath is a commitment one makes towards telling the truth or any other matter usually by calling towards something greater than him/herself.

The law is clear that words of an oath cannot be broken and that false Oaths should not be made in God’s name. The amalgamation of these two laws are what Yeshua mentioned in Matthew 5:33.

Lev 19:12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
Num 30:2 If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

In the Law of God, it was expressly stated that if one makes an Oath, it should be made in the name of no other entity or pagan god, but YHVH‘s name.

Deu 10:20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
Deu 6:13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

There was also other laws which governed breaking of oaths and being a witness of such acts.

Lev 5:1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
Lev 5:4 Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these.

There are many cases in the Old Testament where an oath is made. It was strictly adhered to (Jos 2:12-14; 6:25) even if it was later revealed to be disadvantageous (Josh chap 9).

Missing the point of Matthew 5:34
When Christ says “Do not swear at all”, it is juxtaposed against the precept from the Mosaic Law “Do not swear falsely in God’s name, but complete any oaths you make”(Lev 19:12, Num 30:2). The Law was against swearing falsely in God’s Name. So here Messiah is simply saying do not swear falsely in any other matter or in any other entity whether it be Heaven, Earth, Jerusalem or your own head. The highlight remains on “falsehood”, not swearing itself.

Mat 5:33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Verse 37 where the phrase “Let your yes be yes and no be no” is often the reason why many misunderstand this teaching. To state it simply, so far Christ has essentially only said that “you have heard it being said don’t swear falsely in God’s Name and that you should keep your oaths, but I say to you don’t swear by anything else falsely either”. He then adds the fact that swearing is not needed at all if you are a person who keeps his/her word. If you say yes and do it or no and don’t,(If you are a man/woman of his/her word) essentially there is no reason for swearing in God’s name or any entity.

Further proof that Messiah’s reasoning was only about swearing falsely in any matter
There is other evidence which can shed light on this passage, of which the Hebrew Matthew stands out. The Hebrew version of Matthew’s Gospel perfectly preserves the fact about falsehood as you can see below:

Mat 5:33 (Shem Tob – Hebrew Gospel of Matthew translated by George Howard) Again you have heard what was said to those of long ago: You shall not swear by my name falsely, but you shall return to the Lord your oath. But I say to you not to swear in vain in any matter, neither by heaven because it is the throne of God, nor by earth because it is the footstool of His feet, nor by (Jerusalem) because it is the city of God, nor by your head for you are not able to make one hair white or black. But let your words be yes yes or no no. Everything in addition to this is evil.

The Biblical Apocrypha book Sirach (200-175BCE) also carries the same theme of making oaths very conservatively, and keeping oneself altogether from making oaths which once you break, amount to sin and unrighteousness.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 23:9-11 Don’t let your mouth get used to making solemn pledges,and don’t get accustomed to saying the name of the holy one. Just as a household slave who is constantly examined won’t be lacking bruises, so also the person who always swears and speaks the Lord’s name will never be cleansed from sin. People who make many solemn pledges will be full of lawlessness, and a scourge won’t depart from their house. If they break their solemn pledges, their sin is on them, and if they disregard it, they sin doubly, and if they swear falsely, they won’t be justified, but their houses will be full of misery.

Philo of Alexandria (20BCE – 50CE) who’s works influenced many church fathers had the same to say about oaths.

Philo: The Decalogue 84 That being which is the most beautiful, and the most beneficial to human life, and suitable to rational nature, swears not itself, because truth on every point is so innate within him that his bare word is accounted an oath. Next to not swearing at all, the second best thing is to keep one’s oath; for by the mere fact of swearing at all, the swearer shows that there is some suspicion of his not being trustworthy.

Matthew 5:37 is oddly similar to a passage in the central text of Rabbinical Judaism which also carries the same theme of keeping ones word and not making commitments which one does not intend on fulfilling.

Talmud, Bava Metzia 49a The Gemara raises an objection: Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Yehuda, says: What is the meaning when the verse states: “A just ephah, and a just hin, shall you have” (Leviticus 19:36)? But wasn’t a hin included in an ephah? Why is it necessary to state both? Rather, this is an allusion that serves to say to you that your yes [hen] should be just, and your no should be just. Apparently, it is a mitzva for one to fulfill his promises. Abaye says: That verse means that one should not say one matter with his mouth and think one other matter in his heart. It is prohibited for one to make a commitment that he has no intention of fulfilling.

Conclusion
Words are connected to actions, and the power of words can be seen in the Laws of Oaths among others. When we say yes or no, we should all adhere to keep our word and as Philo explained; aim to be a person who is trustworthy enough to not need an oath from. As our Messiah showed us, we should not falsely swear in any name or entity although we are still able to make an oath if we need to, as long as we stay committed to fulfilling it by all and any means. It is better for us to be Christians who keep their word and be considered trustworthy enough to never have to or need to make an oath. Let us all keep away from evil by being true to our words.

What does the Bible say about Suicide?

The topic of Suicide has become a hot topic in the past few weeks after several celebrities went down this path. But what does the Bible have to say about this subject? Even though it is not specifically mentioned as a Sin in Scripture, God’s Law may have the answers we seek.

God’s Law is complex just like any other body of law. Sometimes it may not cover or specify a particular action as Sin, although there maybe similar judgments which can be used to narrow down on a clear answer for this particular action. Now we must understand that, suicide sometimes is not the most black & white of paths that some choose to tread. There maybe a multitude of reasons for someone to consider ending his or her own life; from depression, mental disorders, substance abuse, persecution or torture. The purpose of this study is not to judge any person, but to look at the judgments that God has laid out in His word against such an act. With that being said, let’s proceed.

In the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament writings we see a few individuals mentioned as having taken their own lives.

Jdg 9:53,54 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died. (Although Abimelech was probably going to die, he hastened his death thereby committing suicide)
Jdg 16:28-30 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. (Samson avenged himself and also sacrificed himself to destroy the Philistines with his last breath. This may or may not be accounted as suicide)
1Sa 31:3,4 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. (Saul commits suicide for fear of torture)
1Sa 31:5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. (Saul’s unnamed Armour Bearer also commits suicide)
2Sa 17:23 And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father. (Ahithophel who had conspired against King David and councelled Absalom, committed suicide in despair for being cast aside)
1Ki 16:18 And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died, (Zimri commits suicide for fear of capture after he murdered Elah & his family)
Mat 27:3-5 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Judas was so filled with guilt that he committed suicide)

While nothing really negative is mentioned about any of the above, other than Judas Iscariot; there is no specific mention of Suicide as a sin. In the case of Saul, Samuel prophesies to him from the grave in 1Sam 28:19 saying “tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me”; meaning they will join Samuel in Death. This shows that at natural death or suicide people go to Sheol (The Grave) and what is to come, comes afterwards. (Please read this link for further study on this subject)

Taking a human life
God is very clear that taking a human life is a punishable offence. As per His judgement, the murderer deserves death, as long as it was not an accidental death.

Lev 24:17 “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.
Exo 21:12-14 “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.
Num 35:31 Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death.

Your life is not your own
Suicide is essentially the extinguishing of ones own life. And we see proof to the extent that we don’t own our own lives, for God has paid a price for us. Our lives, then are a gift from God.

Eze 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
1Co 3:17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1Co 6:19,20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Bought with a price
Being purchased by God is a mirror of the Exodus event where God saved the Firstborn of the Children of Israel, thereby making God the purchaser and owner of their lives.

Num 3:13 for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the LORD.
Lev 25:42 For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves.
Num 18:15,16 Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which they offer to the LORD, shall be yours. Nevertheless, the firstborn of man you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. And their redemption price (at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.
Isa 43:1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

In the same way, if we are now bought for a price, thereby not being sole owner of our own lives, this would mean we have no right to extinguish our own lives. It would simply equate to murder as we are taking a life, and especially one which is owned by God.

Act 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
1Co 6:20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1Co 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
1Pe 1:18,19 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

People who overcame
We can not complete this study if we do not look at the people who overcame the deepest pits of despair. Their lives can be an example to the one who contemplates suicide and the one who struggles with life without losing hope.

1Ki 19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (Elijah was comforted by God when he felt he could go no further)
Jon 4:3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah who was depressed was taught by God on why his perceptions needed to change)
Job 2:9
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (Job suffered on all fronts to the extent where he was receiving advice to give up)
Psa 116:3
The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. (Many of the psalms speak of the hardships that came on David)
Jer 20:14,18
Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame? (Jeremiah saw the oncoming destruction upon God’s people and was in deep sorrow)
Mat 26:38
Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Yeshua went through darkness knowing the trials He was about to go through)
Mar 14:72
And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. (Peter essentially did the same sin as Judas Iscariot – betraying his Master)
2Co 1:8
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. (Paul felt he could not go on with all the persecution that came their way)

The above examples show how we can and must go through trials and tribulations, putting our trust in God. Their are no shortcuts.

Conclusion
Suicide directly effects much more than the individual who walks down that path; rather having ramifications in the lives of friends and family. While I do not seek to judge a person who goes through with suicide, in the above way, a case could be made against suicide, although as I mentioned earlier, there is no direct command against taking ones own life. The above study is not a judgement against a life which is lost, but hopefully an explanation for all of us who could go through dark times in our lives.

The question boils down to whether the person who contemplates suicide believes his or her life belongs to God and whether he or she has willingly given it to His care? If so, you are not taking your own life, but a life which was paid for and bought by God, being under His ownership. In this way, it could be compared to Murder which God has specifically ruled against. So let us put our hopes in Him, and be encouraged that He will never let us go.

Moral Laws & Ceremonial Laws? What are the true divisions in Scripture?

When God redeemed His people from bondage in Egypt, He brought them to Sinai to make a Covenant with them. This agreement between YHVH and the people of Israel, commonly known as the Mosaic Covenant, contained a host of requirements and laws which God wanted His people to follow.

The majority of Mainstream Christianity has vilified and shunned this Law of God viewing it as a kind of bondage; as if God broke the Children of Israel from Egyptian Bondage only to put them back in bondage through His Law. Proponents of this idea submit that the “Old” Mosaic Covenant has been done away. Yet, we have seen in an earlier study that the Ten Commands are the basis for the Mosaic Covenant, and one cannot exist without the other. Some even go to the extent to say that the “Ten Commandments” have also been replaced with “2 New Commandments”, when it is quite clear that the Golden Rule is merely a summary of God’s Law.

In recent years, most Christians have viewed God’s Law to have 2 main divisions, namely

1) The Moral Law (consisting of moral precepts such as “The Ten Commands”) and
2) The Ceremonial Law (consisting of all other forms of precepts)

It is important to point out that the above classification is not found in the Bible and is a man-made division of His Law. It is just how some, if not most, theologians view the Law. Such a classification is inherently flawed as any person can give their own opinion on how the Law should be divided or adhered to. For example, one person could say “X” is part of the Moral Law and is in force, while another can say that the same “X” is part of the Ceremonial Law and is done away. Anyway, our objective will be to seek out the Scriptural divisions of the law instead of man-made divisions.

What does the Bible say? The Biblical Divisions of God’s Law
I believe that if there is any classification or division that Law is subjected to, it must be Biblical. Fortunately, we do see that the Scriptures and God Himself classifies His Law under a few categories. Although there maybe some classifications in the Law, this does not mean some parts take precedence over others. The whole body of the Law comes together under one Covenant, and as long as the Covenant stands, the minutest details will remain intact.

Let us now delve into the categories of Law mentioned in the Scriptures and the true meaning of all the terms God has used to describe His Law. The Law can be compartmentalized into the following sections:

  1. Dabar – (H1697) – Word, Matter, Saying
  2. Mishmereth – (H4931) – Ordinance, Charge, Watch, Duty, Observance.
  3. Khuqqah – (H2708) – Enactment, Appointment, Statute
  4. Mitzvah – (H4687) – Commandments, Precept
  5. Mishpat – (H4941) – Verdict, Judgement
  6. Torah – (H8451) – Law, Instruction

1. Dabar
The Hebrew word Dabar is generally used to refer to any “Matter” or “Word” which is said or done in the Hebrew Scriptures. This same word exclusively appears along side “Ten”, wherever the “Ten Commandments” are mentioned in our English Translations. In short, the 10 Commands would be better translated as “The Ten Words/Matters” as the Hebrew word used in these instances is not “Commandment”(Mitzvah) but “Matter/Word/Saying”(Dabar).

Exo 34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words(Dabar) that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.
Exo 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words(Dabar) of the covenant, the ten commandments(Dabar).
Deu 4:13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments(Dabar); and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
Deu 10:2 And I will write on the tables the words(Dabar) that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark.
Deu 10:4 And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments(Dabar), which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me.

These “10 Matters” take centre-stage over all other Ordinances, Commandments, Customs, Laws & Judgements, as they are a summary of God’s Law, and can be viewed as the “Constitution” under which the Children of Israel live.

The rest of the categories fall under the 10 matters which form the constitution of Israel and we see these categories mentioned in the words uttered by King David to his son Solomon, on his deathbed.

1Ki 2:3 And keep the charge(Mishmereth) of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes(Khuqqah), and his commandments(Mitzvah), and his judgments(Mishpat), and his testimonies, as it is written in the law(Torah) of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:

2. Mishmereth
The Hebrew word “Mishmereth” constitutes to the calling God has placed on His people. It is the office of “citizen”, “priest”, “judge” or “king” that each person duly fulfills. Accordingly, there are Mishmereth for Citizens, priests, judges and kings – each have their own Duties to fulfill as citizens of God’s Kingdom. Each is called to Observe these Mishmereth to the best of their abilities.

Lev 18:30 Therefore shall ye keep mine ordinance(Mishmereth), that ye commit not any one of these abominable customs, which were committed before you, and that ye defile not yourselves therein: I am the LORD your God. (Regarding sexual misconduct among the Children of Israel)
Num 1:53 But the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of testimony, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep the charge(Mishmereth) of the tabernacle of testimony. (Regarding Levitical office)
Eze 40:45 And he said unto me, This chamber, whose prospect is toward the south, is for the priests, the keepers of the charge(Mishmereth) of the house. (Regarding Priestly office)

3. Khuqqah
The Hebrew word Khuqqah refers to decrees made by God. These decrees span a host of categories from appointed days to manners of living and customs of worship.

Lev 17:7 And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute(Khuqqah) for ever unto them throughout their generations.
Lev 23:41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute(Khuqqah) for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
Lev 24:3 Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute(Khuqqah) for ever in your generations.
Num 27:11 And if his father have no brethren, then ye shall give his inheritance unto his kinsman that is next to him of his family, and he shall possess it: and it shall be unto the children of Israel a statute(Khuqqah) of judgment, as the LORD commanded Moses.

4. Mitzvah
The Hebrew word Mitzvah is rightly translated as “command”. These are direct principles set in order by God and together with the judgements(Mishpat) comprise the biggest portion of the Law.

Lev 4:2 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If a soul shall sin through ignorance against any of the commandments(Mitzvah) of the LORD concerning things which ought not to be done, and shall do against any of them:
Lev 27:34 These are the commandments(Mitzvah), which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.
Deu 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep thecommandments(Mitzvah) of the LORD your God which I command you.

5. Mishpat
The Hebrew word Mishpat stands for verdict, and is composed of Judgements, penalties and sentences regarding justice for all kinds of acts prohibited by the Law. Mishpat was carried out by judges and could not be dispensed by any individual without proper order.

Exo 21:1 Now these are the judgments(Mishpat) which thou shalt set before them.
Deu 16:18 Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment(Mishpat).
Deu 17:9 And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment(Mishpat):

6. Torah
The Hebrew word Torah which is translated throughout our English Translations as “Law” generally refers to all instructions given by God. The word can be used for a single law or even the complete body of law depending on the context. Each matter under the other 5 sections (Dabar/Mishmereth/Khuqqah/Mitzvah/Mishpat) can be considered a “law”, while the entire sum can also be known as Torah.

Exo 24:12 And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law(Torah), and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.
Deu 17:18 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law(Torah) in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:
Deu 28:58 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law(Torah) that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD;

Conclusion
Looking at the divisions in Scripture according to how God categorized His Law, we can see that you cannot remove parts of His law, while keeping others. They are not divided into “Ceremonial laws” and “Moral laws”, rather to “Duties”, “Appointments”, “Commandments” & “Judgements”.

While there is clearly no division called “Ceremonial” & “Moral” mentioned in His Word, some even go further, dividing the law to “Civil”, “Moral”, “Ceremonial”, “Dietary” & “Sacrificial”. While all of these categories are addressed by God in His Law, the Scriptures do not divide the body of the law this way. People whom suggest these divisions to His law, do so without any Biblical basis.

P.S.

Loving our Heavenly Father is connected to the law with its many divisions;

Deu 11:1 Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge(Mishmereth), and his statutes(Khuqqah), and his judgments(Mishpat), and his commandments(Mitzvah), alway.

And whomever despises and does not obey the law with its many divisions is said to be breaking His Covenant;

Lev 26:15 And if ye shall despise my statutes(Khuqqah), or if your soul abhor my judgments(Mishpat), so that ye will not do all my commandments(Mitzvah), but that ye break my covenant:

 

The Ten Words of God

After a long journey, the chosen people – the Children of Israel as well as a mixed multitude who had left Egypt(Exo 12:38) behind them, were finally at the foot of Sinai to listen to God speak. Through the Thunder, Lightning, thick cloud, Trumpet noises, smoke, fire and earthquakes God would descend onto Mount Sinai to make Himself heard to His people for the first time(Exo 19:16-20). Traditionally we have come to know what proceeded from the Mouth of God as “The Ten Commandments”. The foundation of the Mosaic Covenant as well as the New Covenant. But the Ten Commandments are known in the Original Hebrew Manuscripts by a different term. The Word for Commandment in Hebrew is Mitsvah (H4687 – מצוה – BDB Definition: commandment) while a different Hebrew word is used in conjunction with “Ten” when the Scriptures speak of the “Ten Commandments”.

Exo 34:28 And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments(H1697-Dabar).
Deu 4:13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments(H1697-Dabar); and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
Deu 10:4 And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments(H1697-Dabar), which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me.

H1697 – דּבר – dâbâr – BDB Definition:
1) speech, word, speaking, thing
1a) speech
1b) saying, utterance
1c) word, words
1d) business, occupation, acts, matter, case, something, manner

The above verses literally say “Ten Words/Matters/Sayings” and not “Ten Commandments. This fact can be clearly seen by comparing the above to the introduction of the Ten Words in Exo 20:

Exo 20:1 And God spake all these words(H1697-Dabar), saying,

The reason this is significant is because there was no impulsion for anyone to do what He uttered. God was not forcing the people to Obey Him. A “Commandment” had the connotation of force, but God simply declared these Ten Matters as what really was important in His eyes. His people were given a choice to walk in the upright path, and He was showing the way. Before He came down to Sinai, God had already told Moses that He would show what He requires from His people.

Exo 19:5-9 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words(H1697-Dabar) which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak(H1696-Dabar) with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD.

But does this mean the “Ten Words” are any less important? Not at all. These are the words God chose to declare first and foremost to His people. They encapsulated His Heart and what He expects from a Godly people. He would have continued and spoken the entirety of His instructions(Torah) known to us traditionally as the Law, stopping and delivering the rest to Moses only because the people were afraid.

Exo 20:19-22 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

Now the importance of the Ten Commandments – rather the “Ten Words” of God, has been discussed before in “Is Love, all that matters? – Was the Ten old Commandments overuled by Two new Commandments?” and about the connection of the Ten Words to the rest of the instructions in “Law of God & Law of Moses – 2 Laws or 1?

These Ten Words are the “Word of God” which proceeded straight out of the Mouth of God in the ears of all the people at the foot of Sinai. It is the Word that keeps us alive according to:

Mat 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

And we see Yeshua (Jesus’ true name) equating “the Word of God” to the “Ten Words” and the Instructions(Torah) given through Moses.

Mar 7:9-13 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free.  And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

In the above passage Christ compares the Word of God and the Traditions of the elders. He is very clearly saying that The Commandments of God are equated to the Word of God. And that Exo 20:12, Exo 21:17 & Lev 20:9 is emphatically the Word of God.

And again Yeshua equates the Law (Torah) to the Word of God.

Joh 10:34,35 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

He reiterates that the Word of God can neither be broken as well, calling the Law, “Scripture” in this instance.

So in Conclusion, we see that the Ten Commandments as it is traditionally known should ideally be called the “Ten Words/Sayings/Matters” of God and the same along with the rest of the Law/Instructions(Torah) was without a doubt known and proclaimed as the “Word of God” by Messiah Yeshua. Let us remember that these “Ten Words” were what God picked to share with His people first, showcasing the importance of abiding by them if we are in Covenant with our Creator.

Does Peter’s Vision prove we can eat anything? The difference between “common” & “unclean”

Peter’s Vision is often cited as proof to say we are free to eat anything we please. Many believe that God showed Peter that the previous Food Laws were no more as he was able to eat anything from thereon. There seems to be many issues with this theory, which we previously looked at in detail in this study.

The vision was clearly about “calling Gentiles Common or Unclean” as Peter himself proclaims:

Acts 10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”

So how is it that “Peter’s Vision” is used to teach God changed unclean food to clean? The problem is in the poor understanding of what is considered “common”(some translations say impure). The word “common”(Koinos-Common/Defiled) is vastly different from “unclean”(Akarthatos-Impure/Unclean).  The word Common is not from God’s Law but the Law of the Pharisees – also known as the Traditions of the Elders or the Oral Law. We see this clearly in the following verse:

Mark 7:2 And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled(Koinos), that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.

The Pharisees were finding fault with the disciples for eating with defiled/common hands. In God’s Law He had specified the state of purity/Cleanness and impurity/uncleanness. There was nothing in between. The state which is called common/defiled was a Pharisaic manufacturing which said a clean thing which is next to an unclean thing becomes defiled where it is not clean nor unclean but in between. This was what is known as “common”. This was why it was deemed unlawful(as per the religious authority in the 1st Century) for a Jew to keep company with a Gentile. The understanding and doctrine of the day was that a Jew who is in a state of cleanliness would fall to a common state even if he/she ate with a gentile who were deemed unclean.

Coming back to the vision, let’s read it again to see what exactly God told Peter:

Acts 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

In the great sheet of Peter’s Vision, all the clean and unclean animals were mixed and together in one place. The clean were now in a state of being “Common” as per Peter’s understanding. There were only two categories of animals in the sheet according to God – “Clean” and “Unclean”. The Clean could be eaten.

When God told Peter to “Kill and Eat”. His response was “Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean“. According to Peter the two categories were “Common” and “Unclean”. And both categories could not be eaten.

God says not to call things that He has cleansed “Common”. Which means He deems what man calls “common”, as “Clean”. God does not say anything to Peter about Unclean animals. God speaks to Peter about the clean animals who Peter thought were Common because of the Unclean animals in the same great sheet in his vision. Those who were deemed common (in Peter’s mind), God considered as Clean. Not that the unclean animals suddenly became clean animals.

The vision, if carefully dissected is very clear. God considers “Clean” what Peter calls “Common”. NOT that the “Unclean” were made “Clean”

So even if on argues that the Vision was about Food, God did not change His Word, but taught Peter what he had been taught was a fallacy. There was nothing called “Common”. Peter clearly understood the vision when he came to Cornelius’ house, as God had shown the man-made Pharisaic Law of “A Jew should not keep company with a Gentile” was removed from his mind.

Conclusion
In Peter’s Vision, God called what Peter considered “common” as “clean”. The voice never said that I have made the unclean, clean to you. God said “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” So if you believe God told Peter that the Food Laws He had instituted were no more, I implore you to study the text a bit more in-depth, before you make your decision. If God deems it Clean we can eat it. If He deems it unclean, we cannot. Simple as that.

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus

The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is one that is often evoked in sermons, and like most other parables, does not have an explanation alongside it. Some presume that it could even be a real story which Christ shares. As we all know, the text often unravels new meaning each time we read it, and thus I would like to give you my understanding of this Parable.

First of all, I believe this is a Parable as Yeshua(Jesus’ Hebrew Name) never relates real stories other than Parables, unless it is from the Scriptures. The other reason to presume that this is a Parable, in fact comes from the text itself, as Christ relates several Parables to the Pharisees and Scribes in Chapter 15 and 16 before relating the parable in question to the same audience. It is most likely a Parable also because of the clues riddled in the story.

Let me know your thoughts and whether you agree, disagree or you have had a better interpretation or revelation.

Luk 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
The Rich Man is adorned in attire that symbolises kingship/authority and he was blessed in everything living a rich life, just like the religious leaders of “the Kingdom/House of Judah” who was always blessed by God, living under His care.
Luk 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
The poor beggar named Lazarus (Greek transliteration of Eliezer) was full of sores and was laid at the gate signifying “the Kingdom/House of Israel” who was exiled only to live outside the promised land in uncleanness without the blessing of God. Also note that the dispersed/scattered Israelites were regarded unclean by the Pharisaic authority of the day (Joh 7:35).
Luk 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
The scattered people of the Kingdom/House of Israel desired to be part of God’s people but was barred and separated by the religious authority. We see many a time that Gentiles came to worship in Jerusalem (Joh 12:20, Act 8:27). If the House of Israel stood for the beggar, the Gentile nations who longed to be part of God’s People were signified by the Dogs. Christ had previously equated Gentile nations to dogs(Mar 7:26,27). So far the Parable speaks of the Blessed House of Judah with the House of Israel at its feet taking any blessings that they can possibly get. The gentile nations who longed to be blessed by God were trying to be as close to the House of Israel as they possibly could, and get anything that came their way.
Luk 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Judgement comes to both the House of Israel and the House of Judah
Luk 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
The House of Israel ends up in Abraham’s Bosom* which means to be collected to their forefather Abraham(Mat 8:11), while the House of Judah is not collected back to their forefather.
Luk 16:24,25 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
The House of Judah will long to be with their forefather but it will be too late when they are in the grave, to change their fate.
Luk 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
The House of Judah longs to save their brethren who are alive and who will receive the same fate.
Luk 16:29,30 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
Christ references himself as a person who goes into the world of the living from the dead, as the House of Judah thinks his brethren will change from evil by the word of such a person.
Luk 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
The change from evil/sin can be attained by the Word of God – His Law and the words of the Prophets, but people who don’t listen to the “Old Testament Scriptures” (as we know them) would not change even if a person comes alive from the dead.

Conclusion
The Parable which is directed at the Pharisees and Scribes were the ones who had Authority of the House of Judah. They were the Rich man of the day. The House of Israel scattered among the nations after the Assyrian Exile, were at the feet of the religious authority and were only getting crumbs because of their disgust of them. The gentile nations were far worse off. This religious authority may think that anything will change with these religious figures, if a person comes back from the dead and preaches repentance and coming back to God’s Word. But a person who does not adhere to Moses (The Five books of Moses known as Torah or the Law of Moses) and the Books of the Prophets would not change their minds because of anything. The Pharisees and Scribes were not keeping God’s Law at the time because of additions that they had made to Gods’ Word (also known as the Traditions of the Fathers/Elders or the Oral Law).

This was a clear rebuke against the religious authority of Yeshua’s day, to go back to God’s Word. How could they believe Yeshua, even when He comes back from the dead; as they don’t even adhere to God’s Law and the words of His Prophets?

*What is Abraham’s Bosom?
It is clear that Abraham’s Lap or Bosom was a generic term used in the 1st century and beyond to explain the dead being collected back to their forefathers, specifically Abraham. In Jewish writings it speaks of a Rabbi named Ada bar Ahava as following: “he was dwelling in the lap of our Patriach Avraham” (Talmud Kiddushin 72b). It was a place that righteous people go to.

Further Reading
The Parable of the prodigal son and the 2 Houses of Israel
Defining the Term “Hell”
The Betrothal, Divorce and Re-Betrothal of God’s people through Messiah
Has the church replaced israel