How to Understand the New Testament-Part 6

When you read any New Testament book, you need to keep the things we have gone over in Parts 1-5 in mind, so let’s review a few things. Remember, Paul was an orthodox Jew, a Pharisee from the School of Hillel by his own accounting (Acts 22.3; 23.6; Phil 3.4-5). There was a great battle between the School of Hillel and the School of Shammai going on, and this didn’t stop when people from the two schools became believers (Acts 15.1). Gentiles are entering the Malkut Shamayim without becoming Jews first through circumcision (Acts 10). We also need to understand who the Godfearers were (the Yiray Shamayim=”fearers of heaven”). These Gentiles are mentioned through-out the gospels and epistles, so it is important to know who they are.

When Adam sinned, he lost several things. He lost the Kedusha upon him. He lost the Shekinah, the presence of God in him. He lost the Kivod, the glory and radiance of God, and he lost the Ruach ha Kodesh, the power and Spirit of God upon him. In the New Testament, the Greek translated Shekinah and Ruach with the same word “pneuma.” What you need to understand is that these are two, different manifestations. So, when you read in Galatians 3.2, “did you receive the Spirit by works or law” it means the indwelling presence of God within a believer, the Shekinah, not the Holy Spirit upon you in power.

There is a concept in parts of Christianity called “blind faith” but that is not biblical. Faith is “emunah” (confidence, action) in Hebrew and it is related to the word “amen” which means “so be it.” Faith is made up of three components (draw a triangle and put these on a side). First, you must have the love of God called “ahav.” Next you must have the mitz’vot (commandments, “works”) of God. Last you must have “da’at” or knowledge (Hos 4.6 says in Hebrew “My people are destroyed by a lack of THE knowledge” and because “you have rejected THE knowledge” God will reject them. This knowledge is defined as the Torah in the latter part of the verse). See our article called “Emunah” on this site for more information. But, as you can see, blind faith is not a part of faith. You must have the right attitude (ahav), you must do what the Lord commands you (“if you love me, keep my mitz’vot”= “works”) by faith (action with confidence) and you must have knowledge of what you are doing.

For example, why did Moses go up to Mount Sinai and the people didn’t in Exo 20.1-18? Moses had been there before (Exo 3), but the people hadn’t, so they were afraid. Moses knew the Lord and knew that he was to bring them to Sinai. That is an example of “da’at” (knowledge) and how it is a part of faith. Many people think they are using “faith” but they don’t know the Lord, they are not acting on what he told them and they have the wrong motive.

Now, we have said that the “Basarah” (gospel) was taught before Yeshua came. It began in Gan Eden (The Garden of Eden) and it was taught to Abraham and that the nations would be blessed through him (Gen 12.1-3; Gal 3.8). What did Abraham believe? He knew the Lord would redeem the people (Gen 15.6) and that there would be two redemptions, the Egyptian (Gen 15.12-14) and the Messianic.

The important point here is that it did not start with Yeshua. Also, in Gal 3.28 another verse is misinterpreted. They say there are no Jews anymore, but this is talking about “status” and that no matter who you are, we all have equal status before God, but different roles. What was happening in Galatia is that they were going backward a bit. They were listening to teachers from the School of Shammai who said you had to become Jews (through circumcision) to be saved, also seen in Acts 15.1). But, they were already saved and had equal status through emunah (faith). The whole point of Galatians is that ritual circumcision is not needed for salvation, and the Galatians were being deceived in this area (Gal 3.1).

God had a system set up that taught righteousness and a way to walk (halakah) called the Torah. Galatians has been perverted by most teachers today to say that if you followed the Torah, you have fallen from grace, but that is not true. They quote Gal 4.9-10 to say that they were being admonished for keeping the festivals, but those verses are talking about man-made things, not the Torah. They are the worthless and elemental things of this world (v 3), not the Torah because it was not of this world, it was given by God himself, the “manna” from heaven.

The Jewish people did not come up with the Torah, God did. Isa 1.10-14 is misinterpreted also. God was against the people giving sacrifices back then and in the first century because their attitude was wrong (the “ahav” part of faith). They thought they were gaining righteousness with God by doing them. The Galatians had the same issue. They thought that by getting circumcised they could gain righteousness with God. That was what the School of Shammai was essentially saying to them. It all comes down to how you perceive what you are doing.

So, there are two concepts to understand here. On one hand, you have “emunah” (faith) with the mitz’vot (commandments, works) and on the other hand Torah observance for righteousness. If you are using the Torah to gain righteousness with God this doesn’t work and never did (Isa 1.10-14; Rom 9.30-33). But, if you have Emunah, should you still keep the Torah? Yes! James (Ya’akov, Jacob) says that “emunah without works (mitz’vot) is dead” (Jam 2.14-26). By the way, the word “mitz’vot” is related to the word “tzavtah” which means “connection”). Keeping the Torah is not a bad thing if you approach them the right way. Read Psa 119, which has 176 verses, and every one talk about the Torah and how positive it is in David’s life.

Next, another key to understanding the gospels and epistles is the Moedim, or “appointed times” of the Lord, also know as the festivals. They are a “mikrah” which means a rehearsal in Lev 23.1-2 and they are very prophetic. We have more information on these festivals on this site by going to “The feasts of the Lord” category, so we won’t spend too much time here discussing them. These festivals were divided into spring and fall feasts. Shabbat (Sabbath) is the first one mentioned in Lev 23.3-4, and the first issue to understand is that these need to be proclaimed at their “appointed time” (v 4). We are not at liberty to set them whenever we want. For example, the seventh day is the Sabbath, but was “changed” to the first day of the week. That is not allowable in the Scriptures. A study of the two calendars used in the Bible goes hand in hand with the festivals.

These “appointments” or Moedim not only applied to the people, but Yeshua the Messiah himself kept these appointments because they were a part of the Torah, and Yeshua never sinned against the Torah, and they were prophetic. He did something with the people (an appointment) on these days. He was crucified on Passover, buried on Unleavened Bread, raised from the dead on First Fruits and sent the Ruach ha Kodesh on Pentecost (Shavuot). The last three will be fulfilled on their respective days during the Day of the Lord. These Moedim should be looked at in three categories; the historical, the agricultural and the prophetic.

Good sources are critical when studying these things, like good water versus bad water. We recommend the Bible itself, especially do a word study of Leviticus 23. We also recommend the book “Rosh ha Shannah and the Messianic Kingdom to Come” by Joseph Good of Hatikva Ministries. Also, Mesorah Publications has books on the festivals. The Talmud, Mishnah, Tosefta’s are a good source. The works of Josephus will give volumes on what was done. Also, “The Temple” by Alfred Edersheim is good. These sources will help give you the understanding the people had in the first century about the temple and the festivals, and this in turn will help you understand the gospels and epistles. Why are we telling you this? Because so much has been changed over the years by Christianity to where it has been whitewashed by replacement theology. It even gets to the point where the translations we read can’t be relied on, so we have to do word studies and try put them back into its Hebrew context. One example of this is where “Passover” was changed to “Easter” in the book of Acts (Acts 12.4-KJV).

Another good source is the Temple Institute. They have illustrations on the Temple and its services and will give you a feel for what it looked like. You can access some this on the Internet. When you have done all this backround, then you a “key” that can help unlock the gospels and epistles and get the proper idea of what was really going on. When you understand the historical and the agricultural aspects of the festivals, it is only then that you can move on to the prophetic implications found in the gospels and epistles.

In Part 7, we will pick up here and start with the two calendars used in the Bible. This concept is related to the festivals obviously, but it is also related to prophecy and is essential to understanding the gospels and epistles.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Understanding the New Testament

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