In Acts 15 we have an issue come up, and it is referred to again in Acts 21.25. The issue was whether a non-Jew needs to be circumcised (to become a Jew) to be saved. It was decided in Acts 15.19-21 that they did not, however, there were minimal standards that they needed to do in order to have fellowship and be “one body” in the faith. These minimal standards are listed in Acts 15. 20 as abstaining from things contaminated by idols (idolatry); from fornication (sexual immorality); from things strangled (carrion) and from blood. In a “much overlooked” verse in Acts 15.21 we learn that, “For Moses (Torah) from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” In other words, they were to go to the synagogues and learn the Torah. That is strange counsel if we are to believe the Torah has been “done away with” as many teach! This counsel is in line with Matt 28.19-20 where Yeshua tells his talmidim (his students, apostles) to go out to the nations (Gentiles/non-Jews) of all nations and make talmidim out of them, teaching them to observe all that he has commanded them (the Torah).
So, these minimal standards in a nutshell are: to avoid idolatry, blood, things strangled and sexual immorality. There are many other laws in the Torah that go along with these four things. For instance, instead of just one “idolatry” there are many types and many laws concerning idolatry in the Torah. There are 613 laws in the Torah. Is there just one law concerning idolatry? There are many commandments that deal with it directly, like horoscopes, mediums, sacred pillars and trees, omens and so on. In fact, there is a whole tractate in the Mishnah called called “Avodah Zarah” that deals with idolatrous practices. If you read that, you will learn about all kinds of idolatry, even things you didn’t think was there, and you will find judgments on them.
Now, these laws applied to non-Jewish believers in Yeshua in the Torah. Rather than just one law in Acts 15.20, there are many laws. Let’s look at the next one. Fornication is another way of saying sexual immorality. Leviticus has two chapters on sexual immorality, Chapters 17 and 18. The next one says that they were to abstain from “things strangled.” In the Koran, what James says here is reproduced almost word for word, so it gives insight into how this was understood. When he says “things strangled” it was understood as “carrion” which is when something is killed by an action on the windpipe, like when a big cat kills its prey. Nahum 2.12 says, “The lion tore enough for his cubs, killed (“strangled” literally) enough for his lionesses, and filled his lairs with prey and his dens with torn flesh.” Ezek 44.31 says, “The priests shall not eat any bird or beast that has died a natural death or has been torn to pieces (carrion).” In the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies it says that Peter taught others to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, dead carcasses from an animal that has been strangled or caught by beasts” (from the book “James, the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls” by Robert Eisenman). The last one is to abstain from blood (Lev 17.16). That includes not having sexual relations with a wife who is in her monthly cycle, and when she has a discharge not at the period of her menstruation (Lev 15.19-30). She is called a “Niddah.” Abstaining from blood also includes not eating it and also the shedding of blood. Now looking at these four, how many laws are there in the Torah that deals with these things? That’s why the non-Jews were told to go to the local synagogues once they became a believer and to learn the Torah, what Moses taught.
So, we have these four “minimal standards” which in reality weren’t so minimal. You have idols, fornication, things strangled and blood. In Ezek 33.25-26 it says, “Therefore, say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, You eat with the blood, lift up your eyes to your idol as you shed blood, should you possess the land? You rely on your sword, you commit abominations and each of you defiles his neighbors wife, should you possess the land?'” In these verses you have all four mentioned, and it was probably one of the verses that came to the mind of James through the Ruach ha Kodesh as he was making the ruling on this matter in Acts 15.20,28 and Acts 21.25.
Now, we have already mentioned that the Soreg comes up in Acts 21.27-30. He has been falsely accused of bringing someone past the Soreg that shouldn’t have been there. In Acts 22, Paul mounts his defense and he begins to tell his story. He talks about Yeshua and his salvation. He mentions that he participated in the death of Stephen, an event everyone was familiar with. He also talks about how Yeshua sent him to the non-Jews. Up to this point in his story they listened. They didn’t have much to say when he told them about how the resurrected Yeshua appeared to him, and that Yeshua was the Messiah. But when he got to the point where he was sent to bring the good news (the BAsar, or “gospel”) to the non-Jews, they raised their voices and said “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live.” This is an important point that is never taught in the churches or Christianity. The biggest issue in the first century was not whether Yeshua was the Messiah or not, but the status of the non-Jews coming into the Kingdom of God without becoming Jews first as we see in Acts 15.1 and the Book of Galatians
The Book of Hebrews is one of the worst translated books in the so-called “New Testament” because it is translated based on Christian theology, which is way off the mark. You can find this problem in every book when you are translating Hebrew into Greek, then Greek into any other language, then mixing in replacement theology. However, when this book was translated into English, it had already become immersed in “replacement theology.” In Hebrews 9, Paul is talking about the Temple services. Heb 9.9 says in most English Bibles, “which was (talking about Yom Kippur) a symbol for the present time (the Olam Ha Zeh).” But in Greek it says, “which is is a symbol a symbol for the present time” (present tense). He is talking about the “present time” so it should be “is” not “was” because “was” is past tense. The translator is implying that all of this has “passed away” due to his belief in “replacement theology.” Heb 9.10 says, “Since they are concerned only to food and drink and various washing’s, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation.” The phrase “concerned only” or “which stood only” is in italics, which means it was added into the verse by translators, implying that these things don’t matter (food, drink, immersions, regulations for the body, etc). So, in other words, dismiss these things because it has no value or relevance to a believer in “Jesus.” But that isn’t what these things are saying. We have a whole chapter showing us it does have meaning.
Heb 10.4 says that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins (the word there means the “sin nature”) and the context is Yom Kippur. They could never take away sin and nobody said they could in the Torah. They never took away they sins of Abraham, Adam, David, Moses, the Prophets, Peter, Paul or anyone. They were never meant to because they taught something else, they were to instruct us. They were part of the ceremonies to instruct us about many, many things. We need to understand so many things like the Temple and the ceremonies, the Korbanot, the Messiah and we need to know about deception. We are not free of it just because we are a believer in Yeshua.
The key to understanding the Book of Hebrews is to understand the concepts of the Olam Ha Zeh (this present age) and the Olam Haba (the World to Come). In Christianity, you will have different ages like the “Age of Law” and the Age of Grace.” However, these concepts as they are presented by Christian teachers is not true. The Torah and grace are compatible and go hand in hand, they always did. Biblically, we have the Olam Ha Zeh, or this present age (Matt 24.3). Then we have the Atid Lavo, or the Future Age of 1000 years, which is also called the Messianic Kingdom, the Day of the Lord and also the Millennium. The Olam Haba is the World to Come, also referred to as the “Eighth Day” which comes after the Atid Lavo, or eternity future. There is no more time, earth and man have been restored, also called the “age to come” in Heb 6.5.
Hebrews was written with the phrases, idioms and concepts of the Jewish people., not with English/western concepts of Christianity. These phrases, idioms and concepts were given by God to Israel. They are the Lord’s in reality. As believers, the New Testament is a continuation of the Tanach, starting in Genesis. Heb 10.1 says that the Torah is a “shadow” (the pattern, blueprint or “tavnit” in Hebrew) of the good things to come. We need to understand the concept of kedusha. The Lord brings Israel out of Egypt and brings them to Mount Sinai and “holy ground.” He commands them to build a Mishkan (tabernacle) so that they can take the kedusha with them when they move away from Sinai. Why? Man lost the kedusha, so the Lord had to teach them, and us, again, in levels through ceremonies found in the Temple especially. The Temple is called in Hebrew the “Beit Ha Mikdash” which means “the House of Kedusha.” Hebrews tells us to look at these things.