How to Understand the New Testament-Part 2

Let’s look at the Temple. It was God’s throne on earth, but there is a concept in Christianity that says that a believer no longer attended the Temple, let alone offered sacrifices, but in Part 1 we disproved that assertion. They went to the temple daily (Acts 2.40) and we see them there on Shavuot in Acts 2. Peter and John went there to pray in Acts 3.1. Paul went there in Acts 21 to offer animal sacrifices (Acts 24.17). It is erroneously taught that the korbanot (meaning “to draw near”) took away sin, and since Yeshua came and died, that is no longer necessary.

However, the korbanot never took away sin. The korbanot are ceremonies, not sacrifice’s, and that is an important distinction. Immersion (tevilah) is a ceremony, and Christianity teaches it, but do you gain righteousness from it, or does it take away sin? The answer is “No.” It is the same with the korbanot/sacrifices, they never took away sin, they were ceremonies. Righteousness comes by faith, which is connected to action (faith without works is dead).

We saw in Acts 21 that Paul offered animal sacrifices 28 years after Yeshua. Some have said he did this because he was “being a Jew to the Jews” and did it so they would listen to him. That is not true. Acts 24.17 says that Paul was on his way to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices because he was coming out of a vow (A Nazarite vow, he had cut his hair to end it in Acts 18.18). Why is Paul doing this if they were “done away with?” Eph 2.11-22 says that the “middle wall of partition” has been torn down. False teachers tell you that this wall is the Torah. But, how can Paul and the believers be Torah observant if this middle wall is the Torah, and it has been done away with? Did Yeshua forget to tell them about that point?

This teaching contradicts itself. How can Jew and Gentile believers eat together if there weren’t standards for it found in the Torah. Now, in the Temple, there was a small wall that went around the Temple courts and buildings called “the Soreg.” It had signs on it warning Gentiles that they could not proceed beyond this wall, or death would be the result. Some of these signs have been found. Rabbi Gamaliel was the Nasi (president) of the Sanhedrin, and Paul’s teacher. He was Hillel’s grandson. There were two major groups of Pharisees. One was called Beit Hillel (house of Hillel) and the other was Beit Shammai (house of Shammai). There were other Pharisee groups, but these were the main ones. In the gospels and epistles, just because there were Pharisees mentioned doesn’t mean all Pharisees believed the same. You can tell what school is being addressed by the discussion they were having with Yeshua or the talmidim. This is a very important point.

Beit Shammai came up with what is called the 18 Edicts, and these will be discussed later. The Edicts disagreed with the Torah and they cannot all be found today, but some of them are mentioned in the gospels and epistles. But, they were in place by the time of Yeshua. Some the edicts said that a non-Jew could not have a Jew into his house. Another said that a Jew could not eat with a Gentile. These were man-made traditions and a “yoke” that God never intended. This is the “middle wall” that is broken down, man-made separation. The Temple was a delight to the people, they loved the Temple. The korbanot were ceremonies where one is instructed in the ways of God, they never took away sin.

Did Yeshua ever offer a sin offering? Of course he did, because it was part of the ceremony for cleansing from defilement, like touching the dead. They were required at the festivals (Lev 23; Num 28-29). Does that mean he sinned? No, it doesn’t. A woman who has a child is to offer a sin offering (Lev 12.1-8). Does that mean she sinned? Remember, the ceremonies were from God and they are not “Jewish.” Remember Dan 7.25 about the false messiah changing the “seasons and laws?” 2 Thes 2.1-3 says that the false messiah will be a man of “lawlessness” which means without the Torah. The false messiah will lead those who are against the Torah. Matt 7.21-23 says that there will be many people when the Lord returns who call him “Lord” and “prophesied” and “cast out demons” in his name. But the Lord will say, “I never knew you” because they practiced “lawlessness” which means they were “Torah-less” and believed it was done away with.

In Genesis we learn about a man named Laban the Aramean. He is seen as a villain and worse than Pharaoh. Why? Because he was subtle, he wanted Jacob and his family to assimilate. Pharaoh was upfront about what he wanted and easy to spot, but Laban was crafty and dangerous, not easy to spot. Jacob is a picture of Israel. He is out of the land and he works for Laban 20 years, which relates to the 2000 years Israel has been in the Diaspora. What do you think the greatest danger to Israel has been during this time? The “Hitler’s” are easy to spot, but the “Laban’s” are not. People want to be like Laban to the Jews. They say, “Come be with us, come and serve us” but all the time the attitude is, “We better watch them, they will steal from you” or “they want to control the money” and things like that. This was the attitude of Laban and his sons (Gen 31.1-2). Laban wants the family of Jacob with him, to adopt his ways and gods. He wants him to look like an Aramean, but that is the ultimate danger to a believer. Laban wanted them to assimilate. How does that play out today?

People will say, “Don’t live in the land”; “don’t keep Sabbath”; “eat whatever you want” and “stop keeping the Torah.” This is what God’s enemies want. In Deut 6.4-9 we have what is called “The Shema” and it says that we should love the Lord and keep his commandments diligently. The commandments are linked to Israel. But people say, “We love the Jews and want them to be saved, but they need to drop those commandments.” But that is the attitude of Laban, who wanted Israel to be a “part of my house.” Love (ahav) is the motive to follow the Lord. Psalm 119 has 22 sections, each section has eight verses and is written from aleph to tav, the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Every verse of that psalm talks about the Torah, every verse. It talks about the love of the commandments, his statutes, testimonies and judgments.

The Torah is the very nature of God. But some say they don’t need the commandments. To the extent that you know the commandments you will know the Lord. Deut 28. 16-68 says that if Israel doesn’t keep the commandments they will be cursed. Therefore, by saying we “love the Jews” and we “support Israel” but on the other hand, request that they turn from their land or their commandments, we are actually making war on Israel. We are committing the sin of anti-Semitism. It is subtle, but dangerous just the same. But what about the non-Jews? In Acts 15 we learn that they do not have to be circumcised to become Jewish, and be saved. The Book of Galatians teaches this concept also. But, in Acts 15.21 we also learn that they were to go the synagogues and learn Moses (the Torah). That means they were to understand the Torah, support the Torah and obey the commands that applied to them. Not every Torah command is to be obeyed by everyone.

Some commands only apply if you were the king, or a priest. Some applied to just the women. Jew and Gentile believers obeyed only the commands that applied to each group (1 Cor 7.17-19). The important point here is that in the first century, there were man-made regulations that said that in order for a Gentile to be saved, he had to become Jewish. That is why ritual circumcision was so important.

In Acts 15.1 this was a major issue in the congregation of believers in Yeshua. They had a council of elders about it, and it was agreed that Gentiles do not need to be circumcised to be saved. This is due to the testimony of Peter and what happened with Cornelius, and the testimony of Paul and what the Lord was doing among the Gentiles without circumcision (Acts 15.7, 12). As a result, it was agreed that Gentiles did not need to be put under man-made Jewish traditions, however, they were to go to the synagogues and learn the Torah (Acts 15.21). In Part 3, we will start with the concept of what is called “first century Judaism’s” and move on to other concepts that will help you understand the gospels and epistles.

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

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