Oh, there are so many topics that I have covered up to this point. Some in conjunction with others, some standing alone. Most of the topics I’ve covered have been recorded to help keep me understanding the big picture of what our daily walk with Adonai above should be like, in accordance to His Word, the set-apart (Holy) Scriptures. As I have been progressively learning and growing in my faith-walk, I have picked up, and put down, many teachings and theologies from famous, and not so famous, pastors, preachers, teachers, and theologians. Over the many recent months, I have shed off many doctrines and creeds that I once accepted at face value, and have instead come to embrace the simple and pure truths of Scripture in their original context and meanings. Essentially, trying to not follow the crowds who had long ago embraced man’s ways and doctrines…the very ones that Yeshua, Himself, had rebuked! (Mark 7:6-8 And He (Yeshua) answering, said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you hypocrites, as it has been written, ‘This people respect Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain do they worship Me, teaching as teachings the commands of men. Forsaking the command of Elohim, you hold fast the traditions of men.”)
Yeshua Jesus also had words for the many who doubted or didn’t accept the clear truths they had heard and seen from Him themselves. In Matthew 11, Yeshua laments the state of many people and cities that both He, and John, had preached the good news to, and who had refused to turn away from their self-driven, wayward lives. He spoke the truth, and yet they rejected His Words because what He said didn’t fit into their perception of how Messiah should be. They wanted an immediate warrior to destroy the enemies of Israel, but instead they saw Yeshua as nothing more than a weak lamb. They wanted a King above all kings, and yet they saw Him a simple meek servant. Those who Messiah condemned lost out because they thought they knew better, that they were more learned. In reality, they were trapped within their own ideologies and doctrines because they clung tightly to the teachings of men instead of the Words of God. Likewise, we’ve been programmed to accept the teachings of the Christian churches as correct because…well, that’s just the way it always has been! But, what if you are following teachings that, say, took a wrong turn long ago? Well, then you could end up very lost…and nowhere near your initial goals to follow Adonai above. There will always be a learning curve when you first begin any journey, but if the instructions we start out with are flawed or difficult to understand, we could end up going the wrong direction without even knowing it. Many roadmaps (theologies) that have been presented to westernized society over the centuries had actually come from preconceived ideologies and thoughts of men who had specific agendas and biases. So, while the path I began on long ago might appear to be somewhat more of aimless wanderings (from a birds-eye view), there has always been one fixed constant that kept me moving (somewhat) in the right direction; the desire to know Adonai Elohim, the God of the Bible.
I have tried to keep the core of most of my writings and podcasts encompassed and adherent to the Scriptures alone, since they are the very source for all studying and reading the Words of Elohim, given to us through His Ruach (Spirit), conveyed through the voices and hands of men who were divinely appointed to be His messengers to the world! The Bible is the very source for all our lives, interpreted by the Holy Spirit to our heart and soul and mind. We are instructed to read and meditate on the Words of God daily (Jos 1:8 “Do not let this Book of the Torah depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you guard to do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and act wisely.”). These Words are the light we need to navigate through the complexities and difficulties that we will have in this life (Ps 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”). They are also the Words given as instruction (Torah) on how to worship and praise Abba Father above! They teach us how we are to live daily in an acceptable and set-apart manner before, not only Yahweh, but also the peoples of this world (Rom 12:1 “I call upon you, therefore, brothers, through the compassion of Elohim, to present your bodies a living offering – set-apart, well-pleasing to Elohim – your reasonable worship.”) There is nothing outside of the Scriptures that should have more sway and affect on a believer of the God of Israel.
There are a vast array of organizations (churches and ministries) that claim to be representatives of Yeshua Jesus who teach their followers a variety of ways to worship the God of the Bible and have a living relationship with His Son. But, are they all correct? Do they all adhere to the commands of Elohim? Do they truly point people to God through Yeshua Jesus? Well, you have read and heard many of my rants where I have come across harsh concerning the many men and religious groups who, over the centuries, have usurped and even thwarted the Bible as being the only complete source for knowing and serving Hashem (the Name above all names). I have gone on tirades against the many who have purposefully diminished the Words of God as absolute truth. I have wrestled with the countless doctrines and creeds of men that have attempted to put YHWH in a box and define Him specifically in one fashion or another. Most modern westernized churches, through the various bias translations of Scripture, have tried to redefine the complete source of our salvation. Essentially, they have created for themselves a new religion based on skewed ideologies and doctrines of men. As we are to emulate Yeshua Messiah, we need to follow Him completely; to follow His teachings, which expounded on His Scriptures, the Tanakh, (or what is referred to as the Old Testament.) What many seem to miss is that we are to interpret the New Testament writings through the lens of the Old Testament, instead of trying to interpret the Old Testament through the lens of the new writings; as most of Christendom has been doing for centuries. I say all this not to be contentious or think that I am right and that so many are wrong, but to simply point out these very things to show that the road most of us have travelled along up to this point has had its origins based on defective maps created by men. Essentially, people created a reinterpretation of the original map for us to follow based on their personal bias and agendas, instead of staying with the original map planned out by God Himself. But, thanks be to God that there are many U-turns and redirects that will blessedly show up; but only when we take time to actually look at His original map!
There is a reason that history is so important to study. It has been said that if we don’t learn from history, then we are doomed to repeat it. We can clearly see that this is true just by taking time to actually research church history; how we got from ‘there’ to ‘here’. It is one thing to study the Words contained within the covers of the Holy Bible, it is another to understand the original context of what is being said by who and why. Asking the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘how’, and ‘why’ of the text, in relationship to all other context, puts a very unique and very different perspective compared to what we’ve been led and taught to believe. (Most of which has been based on the teachings of post-apostolic early church forefathers). I have spoken about the historical “changes” implemented by a certain 4th century pagan Roman emperor and the later church “leaders” before, so I won’t go into too much detail, other than to say that deep alterations to the first century follower’s practices and adherences were extremely dramatic, and those changes literally created a “new religion” by the end 325AD. So, please, do your own research to see!
We gentiles are a people much like the Israelites in the Tanakh who were continually driven to do their own thing, despite what Elohim’s Word instructed us to do. In essence, humanity has mastered the skill of creating our own ways to worship by redefining who God is, by reinterpreting the texts to fit our ideologies, by giving fancy names and doctrines to our various groups, and by cancelling out the teachings of Scripture that don’t fit our personal views…all so we can sound prominent, righteous, and stoic because of our interpretations of His Word. We love to elevate teachers and leaders onto pedestals who will promote our created traditions. And we know best how to market our religion through music and books and media so as to draw in the masses with the latest ways of how they should all think and feel towards our Elohim. I guess I can be so bold as to say that the current stream of “christianity” that much of the world sees today is really nothing more than a professional program…filled with idolatry, materialism, and even apostasy, sprinkled with some happy love verses out of context, that is far removed from the original commands of how we are to truly worship and follow our Elohim.
Much of this has stemmed from man injecting subtle hints and personal bias into the translations of the Bible. This, we know for fact, has happened and yet the people just ignored and accepted it. These misinterpretations have greatly affected how we read and understand His Word. Let’s look at one (minor?) fairly obvious alteration to the New Testament; the book of James. The title should actually be Jacob, or the Jewish name Ya’aqob! (The original Greek name “Iakōbos” means Jacob) So…what was the point of changing the author’s name into a drastically different name? I mean, there are other “Jacobs” in the Bible, so why rename this particular guy? The current accepted name “James” first appeared in the 14th century when John Wycliffe translated the Latin name Iacomus as James in the first English translation of the Bible. All the future translations just stuck with the incorrect name! This great error was reinforced after King James sponsored an “new” English translation, which was originally called the Authorized Version in 1611 (and didn’t actually get called the King James Bible until 1797). Again…why? Why the alterations to the original texts? I’ll tell you one reason: they wanted to do away with the Jewishness of the Bible! There was enough hatred toward Israel by the English that making Scriptures read and sound more “westernized” would draw in more believers. (Also meaning more revenue for the church coffers!) This history is fully documented…they never tried to “hide” this fact.
As more older and complete copies of the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek texts have been discovered, they (the translators) will compare them with current transcripts and might adjust the text accordingly. But in most cases, the discoveries do not change verbiage enough to affect or alter the theology or history. Yet, that didn’t stop many of the translators over the centuries to take liberties when translating into modern languages (and is also dependent on if they were using a previous translations like the latin vulgate, or if they were translating from the original languages). Some groups or individuals, when translating into English (and various other languages), may also have had a particular worldview, and the Bible’s writings might conflict with that view, so small adjustments to the text would be made to alter the original meaning. Sadly, this is often the case with many of the loosely paraphrased editions of Scripture…meaning that they will rewrite some verses enough to lead the reader to interpret the text a particular way. We can easily see that simply by comparing many the “versions” of Scripture all at once. Thankfully, there is software now days available that has the technology to look at a variety of Bible translations all at once so as to compare them with each other. And, honestly, I highly suggest that ALL of your studies be done in this fashion! Clinging to one translation alone, (either because that is what you were raised on or perhaps you believe it is that only “authorized” text (though, I’m not sure who authorized it, since only Adonai Elohim can do that)) is akin to putting your entire understanding of God into the hands of one opinion. Some people might find that a particular translation is too complicated to read, so they’ll find a simpler version, which can often result in a twisted misunderstanding of the original context and really miss out on what Elohim intended for us to know.
The same approach to the study of Scripture (looking at a variety of translations) can also apply to which pastors, preachers, and teachers you are in lockstep with. Placing all your hopes and learning on one person or ministry is dangerous, and will often lead to the idol worship of man (not to mention also having a very narrow, or even possibly false, teaching that is not Biblical and will lead you down the wrong paths.) Knowing the complete truth of Scripture will lead us, by the Ruach HaKodesh, to the truth of Messiah Yeshua…which is our only salvation! Yet we can see most problems arise when we have too many worldviews being injected into the Words of God just to fit personal narratives. We are to listen only to the Words of Elohim, not the world. Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” But many in the “church” today are driven to be conformed to the ways of this world, to fit in, to be like those around them. They think that if they act like the world around them, accept the world’s way of thinking, water-down the Holy Words of God for the people, that they will be accepted and then can enjoy the fruits of both worlds. They take their “maps” that are altered just to get others onboard. Before you know it, the original map from Yahweh doesn’t look at all like the one people today are using to direct their lives. People want to have their own selected leaders over them, ones who pander or cater to their wants and desires, not the strictness they perceive that comes from Elohim above.
In 1 Samuel chapter 8, the people were growing restless with Yahweh, and since their leader, Samuel, was getting old and his two kids were not quite up to the task of carrying their father’s torch (since they also didn’t walk properly in the Way), the people themselves had their own agenda and plan, much like most do today. Starting in verse 4 it reads: Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Behold, you have grown old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us—like all the nations.” (In other words, they wanted to be like those other people all around them, the very ones whom God said “do not be like them!”) But the matter was displeasing in Samuel’s eyes when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to Adonai. Then Adonai said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you. For they have not rejected you, rather they have rejected Me from being king over them. Like all the deeds that they have done since the day I brought them out of Egypt to this day—forsaking Me and worshiping other gods—so they are doing to you also.” Adonai follows with a warning of what will happen if the people get what they want…in this case; a king…and He also knows that they will whine about that later as well! It’s important to remember that what we think we want or need will not be in our best interest! When we try to put our definition of wants and needs above God’s definition of what we need…we will often be filled with regret when He gives us over to the desires of our hearts! (Romans 1:24).
We are not robots; brainless programs that follow blindly to the commands given us. Our Elohim wants us to be free to worship Him in spirit and truth, from our hearts, and to wholly desire to know and love Him! Yet, He knows us (Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”), wants what is best for us (Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”), and gives us the instructions we need to bring us through this journey (Psalm 119:1-2 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the Torah (instructions) of Adonai. Blessed are those who keep His testimonies and seek Him with all their heart.) His Word is the light we need in this dark world. His Word is the map that brings us into fellowship with Him. The Creator of the universe came down to us when we were lost and gave us the Way…through Messiah Yeshua! His Words are for all who seek to stand before Him in glory and live eternally in the Light of salvation! We are to follow Him through Yeshua, not follow man. We are to study His Torah and follow His Torah, and know His Torah (instructions). Yeshua followed the Torah and instructed us in John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” And what is His commandments? The entire Torah. The law was not nailed to the cross. The punishment for breaking the law was!
Let us walk in the footsteps of our Rabbi and our Messiah/Savior Yeshua…to use His map, not the ones created by man, but His alone for our whole journey with Him to eternity.