Righteous Rebel or Paleo-proud?
Ten times the Jews warned Nehemiah of impending attacks against the walls of Jerusalem during its rebuilding. Symbolically, each of the ten commandments function as a warning of an attack to which Israel must be wise. If those who return to rebuild the walls resolve to guard the covenant, then they will have to work with focus, which in turn provokes the enemy to test their resolve. Just as the akeidah, a synonym of "binding" tested Avraham's resolve, so the rebuilding of Jerusalem tests every Israelite's resolve to rebuild the ancient city:
So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together (
kashar) unto the half thereof:
for the people had a mind to work. Now it came about when Sanballat, Tobiah,
the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites
heard that the repair of the walls of Jerusalem went on, and that the breaches began to be closed, they were very angry. And conspired (kesher) all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and
to hinder it. But we prayed to our God, and because of them
we set up a guard against them day and night... (Ne 4:6-9)
The Shema commands Israel to hear Adonai by binding (kashar) the commandments on one's hand and to remember them by binding them on the head. The Holy One builds a community of faith by binding them to His commandments and one another, and the Evil One destroys a community by binding together angry people who "hear" something different. Another translation of kashar, "to bind," is "a conspiracy." When Jewish males bind the commandments onto their hands and arms with tefillin, they are binding themselves to the commandments, conspiring to do and to hear the commandments daily within their community, passing it to the next generation.
Each disciple has to join together the protective commandments of the Torah to make them one continuous line of defense for both the individual body as well as Jerusalem, the Body of Messiah. When the Arabs hear that Israel is repairing the breaches in the Body of Messiah, they are very angry. Arabs know that keeping physical Jerusalem divided is the first step toward Israel's complete annihilation. They conspire against Israel, but the conspiracy is not against a people, but Adonai and His everlasting covenant. If we claim that covenant in our own lives, we will be taunted, ridiculed, and attacked to see if the stones of our commandments are fitly joined together and solid.
Why attack the rebuilding of the wall? A wall represents a community of like-minded believers, not the scattered individuals. In Israel, ancient towns and cities were built on hills, and the farm and pasture land surrounded it. The workers went OUT to the field, which is also a metaphor of the world in Scripture. The field is a contranym, which means the same word holds opposite meanings. Wild beasts dominate the field, or the sower sows seed and reaps a hundredfold or shepherds pasture a flock. Two natures: wild individual or cultivator of the field for the sake of the community within the walls.
Nehemiah's example says there is safety in numbers, conspiring with others to set a physical guard, a shomer, an observance of the commandment. It is a defensive stance; every fighter learns to protect himself before he learns counterattack. Let's learn the commandment thoroughly and let it become cemented in our lives with like-minded believers.
Nehemiah's example in verse 14 is the third portion of the Torah placed inside tefillin, the commandment to remember.
When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials, and the rest of the people: '
Do not be afraid of them; remember Adonai who is great and awesome, and
fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses.'
It takes both a mind to work and a hand to fight in order to guard and remember the mitzvoth...and every individual...who rebuilds Jerusalem.
According to R' Twerski, the Hebrew word for friend, chaver, also comes from a word meaning to connect or bind together.
Two pieces of wood can be glued together only if their surfaces are smooth. If there are protrusions on the surface which prevent a close adhesion, even strong glue cannot bind them together...if we are self-centered and opinionated, and do not consider the needs of others and respect their opinions, we have 'protrusions' and obstacles which make a strong union impossible. Sensitivity to others' needs and tolerance of their opinions can allow a true bond of friendship to form. (Twerski, 1999, p. 33)
Thankfully, both physical and spiritual Arabs are victims of their own self-centered opinions and factions, and although they cause multiplied trouble to the Jews rebuilding Jerusalem, they also suffer from internal non-adhesion to their overall goal, which is to destroy the memory of the eternal covenant by destroying the resting place of the Divine Presence and His People Israel. To this end, Yeshua urged upon his disciples a loving friendship with one another so that the world would know they were his.
Recently I heard a rabbi speaking of the stones of Israel. Stones have to be dressed in order for them to balance in a building or a wall, but each stone is unique. The stone dresser cannot go beyond the stone's natural form, only prepare it, shape it, smooth it, and find similar, but opposite stones on which it can rest beneath, atop, or beside. Occasionally the builders find a beautiful stone, but it is not a good fit with any of the other stones.
Unlike a stone with self-centered protrusions that defy fitting together with the others, this odd, beautiful stone is a wonderful stone, but its form does not lend itself to the lower building. The builders set this stone aside, and much later, they find that it makes a most beautiful capstone to the building's corner. It was to be the head of the corner all along, but his place could not be revealed until the proper time.
The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. (Ps 118:22)
Five times in the Brit HaChadasha, either Yeshua or the disciples reference this statement in the Psalms, so it is important. Sometimes a person is perceived as a rebel when he or she does not fit the mold of the world:
One of the great tasks of Jewish education is to deliberately create an atmosphere of rebellion among students. Rebellion, after all, is the great emancipator. We owe nearly all of our knowledge and achievements not to those who agreed but to those who differed. That is what brought Judaism into existence. Avraham was the first rebel, destroying idols; and he was followed by his children, by Moshe, by the prophets, and finally, by the Jewish people.
When we teach our children to eat kosher, we should tell them that this is an act of disobedience against consumerism that encourages human beings to eat anything as long as it tastes good. When we go to synagogue, it is a protest against our arrogance in thinking that we can do it alone. When couples observe the laws of family purity, it is a rebellion against the obsession with sex. By celebrating Shabbat, we challenge our contemporary world that believes happiness depends on how much we produce. (Cardozo, 2017, in "Manifesto of the David Cardozo Academy")
The "Torah rebellion" resonates with many in the world today. They, too, want to rebel against the mark of the beast, consumerism, a life without boundaries and as much pleasure as a dollar can buy. They recognize that sex and appetite are only good by observing the boundaries of the Torah. What about assembling together, though? Is it to protest "thinking that we can do it alone?" At this stage of wall-building, that is not always the rebellious thought.
There is such a thing as "goodness of fit." Not every stone inherently fits next to another stone even with skilled dressing. The master builder finds the section of wall in which the stone's natural shape fits best. In such a case, finding a fellowship that is a good fit (with additional painful leveling and smoothing) is imperative in order to rebel against thinking that one can do it alone.
On the other hand, some stones visit fellowship after fellowship, and they never "fit in." Rather than examine their own sharp edges, they attribute their increasing isolation to their unique ability to interpret the Scriptures and expose the errors of all others. "All others" includes Jews, Christians, Torah-observant non-Jews, and any other faith or faithless group. These stones are so rebelliously right that they could only be the capstone of all the lesser stones.
Fences Make Good Neighbors, But Walls Take Time
This is a precarious time. Individuals scattered all over the world are returning to the Ancient of Days, the Rock of Israel in spite of growing hate of all things Jewish or Israeli. Those returning embrace the commandments, and it leads them to study Hebrew, but that's not enough. They want charts of paleo-Hebrew, study ancient documents in the Pseudepigrapha, wear linen, study herbal remedies, and use essential oils. All of these things can augment one's interest in returning to the Father's ancient paths of righteousness.
The question, however, is how can learning or doing these things attach us to more than ancient Biblical literature and culture? And that leads to more questions. How do they attach us to a community of like-minded (not identical) believers today? In all our independent researching and seeking for rightness, do we find ourselves unable to form and maintain relationships within the Torah community? Have we mistaken a desire for rightness with a desire for righteousness? Is it not just "the world" to which we are strangers, but other brothers and sisters coming out of their individual field homes and Babylon to return and rebuild the wall?
People acquire a little knowledge of a commandment, and before the cement is set, they respond to a thrown stone or a taunt by going on offense, and sometimes they don't even wait to be attacked, they throw first! Often these commandment-throwers believe they are sowing the seed of the Word in the fields, but they are hunting weaker prey. They believe that everyone must write the Sacred Name in paleo-Hebrew or pronounce it a certain way. Everyone must read Yasher or Enoch to understand the Scriptures. Everyone must wear linen, medicate with herbs and essential oils, everyone must (or must not) wear a head covering, or...or...or... You understand. The goodness or benefit in studying or doing these things is replaced with rightness, but not righteousness.
* Why not actually learn Hebrew so that you can talk to a living Israeli, not just read the outside of bone boxes?
* Why not emphasize the bigdei yesha, the Garments of Salvation and me-il tzedekah, the Robe of Righteousness, so that Yeshua's salvation and the commandments of doing charity to one's neighbor (tzedekah) are taught through those linens, not just personal well-being?
* Why not emphasize the oil of joy in the Psalm of Love (45), not just its physical healing properties?
There is danger in building one's own little angry, one-stone wall of rightness, and it is hard to distinguish that stone from the ones thrown by angry Arabs, for their targets are the same, the builders of Jerusalem who are still building. Building takes time and lots of grinding to smooth the jagged edges. Why are these grim-faced, one-stone walls of rightness so angry? Anger begins with fear. Nehemiah urged the Jews not to fear, but to fight the real enemy.
If we were to check the spiritual resume of these stones of rightness, we'd likely find a pattern in their ability to bond with other believers. Chronic problems in their church or synagogue relationships? Then likely they have chronic trouble with Torah/Yeshua relationships. You only need to leave your church or synagogue one time when you are faced with the unified truths of Messiah and Torah. What do these grim-faced stones fear that keeps them from fighting FOR the sons and daughters of the King of Righteousness instead of causing havoc upon the walls?
The fear of rejection by others is addressed by working with wise, Spirit-filled counselors who know Scripture and have practical shepherding experience. Such experienced shepherds can find out what triggers the fellowship-hopping that leads to increasing isolation. Isolation increases when fearful, angry stones substitute their rightness in a conflict instead of identifying their root fear of rejection and the self-deceiving anger that conceals it.
The pride of rightness is not the me-il robe of righteousness, which was worn by the high priest who served Israel. Wise counselors help this angry stone to distinguish between Torah knowledge that serves only the angry stone from the Torah knowledge that demonstrates the love, joy, brotherhood, and salvation of Messiah for the benefit of others. This is righteousness, and there is an oil of gladness in the faces of those who are genuinely glad to see their brothers and sisters return.
What lesson can we learn? Those who are trying to build Jerusalem by binding to the commandments may have zealous hearts, but not all have learned the lesson of the chief stone. Instead of allowing their protrusions to be dressed, they believe that their independent-minded doctrines are the capstone. Too soon, and out of time, they want to "cap" every argument or teaching with their own.
The "persecuted proud" troll social media and conferences. They are not there to learn anything about contributing to the building, but to top or trap every other teacher or disciple of the Word. They boast of being blocked on social media or being asked to leave a fellowship. Their whole goal in socializing with others is to lead them back to their own website, book, or social media platform. When they are predictably rejected, they pacify themselves with being a martyr for righteousness, but they've suffered only for their own proud rightness.
These stones believe they are too beautiful to be dressed along with the other stones in the wall. Before the Builder of the House has even finished shaping the stone in the basics of the Torah, frequently the stone lifts itself to a place of reproving, rebuking, mocking, and correcting the other stones. They desire to enthrone themselves on the living stones of Jerusalem.
Yeshua is the only unique capstone who can complete the wall or building. Keep praying to find a good fit in fellowship, for it takes time to find it, and even longer to build cohesive friendships within that fellowship. We are returning from Babylon and the hunting fields of the world to a holy community. Be as meek as a domestic lamb and as fierce as a wild ram for the cause of your brothers and sisters in Yeshua. Be kosher and kashar. We can either figure out a way to bind and build with one another, or we can join the angry Arabs and their confederates in a conspiracy against the building and the Builder of Jerusalem.
Rightness or righteousness?
And to Jerusalem, Your city, may You return with compassion, and may You rest in it, as You have said. May You rebuild it speedily in our days as an eternal building, and may you speedily set up the throne of your servant David within it. Blessed are You, Adonai, Builder of Jerusalem. - From the Minchah of the daily siddur.
Ekev: Hot Rocks
In the online Torah classes this week, I focused on the passage, "...not on bread alone does man live, but by every word (thing) that issues from God's mouth does a man live." (Dt 8:3) The context of this statement in the Torah portion Ekev is tied to Yeshua's three temptations in the wilderness (see CGWKBK 5 Vol 5).
The simple lesson is that man lives by EVERYTHING that proceeds from Adonai's mouth. This means that He supplies both physical bread and spiritual bread. Seeking only physical bread is to deny EVERYTHING that comes from His mouth. To seek only the spiritual bread is to deny EVERYTHING that comes from His mouth. Yeshua's temptations taught us to seek the spiritual, and it will lead to the physical; otherwise, we will reduce the spiritual Word to nothing more than the physical, and it becomes a series of boxes to check off.
Those hot rocks in the wilderness are a test to see if we are merely cold stones of individual appetites, or if we can seek the spiritual origin of the physical Creation and work toward the Kingdom of Heaven, not bend it to our personal use. Yeshua delayed his kingship, assuring Pilate that his Kingdom was not of the present, mundane world. He invested in the present physical world only with an eye toward preparing for the eventual revelation of the completed Kingdom.
Yeshua's words were spare. In fact, I often wish he'd used more of them so that I could understand them more easily! Yeshua's words are not just physical, but spiritual, which is harder to find, and certainly harder to swallow when there are cold, stony places in my heart! Nevertheless, his example teaches me to humbly choose a few words of the Father's royal bread than to proudly choose multiple, mundane words of Satan's worldly kingdom.
This week I mentioned to the online classes a Jewish tradition that when you've used up all your words, then you die! Coincidentally, Ulpan Or sent the following in their weekly email to Hebrew students:
This Shabbat we will be reading the third portion "Ekev" of the fifth book of Torah - Devarim - דברים (words). Rabbi of Mishkoletz explains a verse in this week's Torah portion:
כִּי לֹא עַל-הַלֶּחֶם לְבַדּוֹ יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם--כִּי עַל-כָּל-מוֹצָא פִי-יְהוָה, יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם
"...Not on bread alone does man live but by every word that issues from G-d's mouth does a man live." (Deuteronomy 8:3)
Physical food alone does not ensure a person's survival. Rather, the length of a person's life is connected to every mundane word that issues from our mouths.
Ha'Ari says that the specific number of words that a person can say in their lifetime is actually determined in heaven. Therefore, when a person uses up this quota, their mission in the world has also ended and their soul leaves this world.
But all of this refers only to one's 'mundane words'. Thus, for a person who speaks words of Torah, years are added to their life. Therefore, according to Rabbi of Mishkoletz:
The holy divinely oriented words ("issues from G-d's mouth") a person speaks, add for the person additional life from heaven.
Okay, Monday and Tuesday Torah students, how does this augment what we talked about in the class lesson on Ekev? Be careful of the types of words you release in conversation or posting on social media. The more we discuss the Words of Life that issue DIRECTLY from the Father's mouth, the more life we have. The more words we waste on the cares of the world, well...!
Creation Gospel Workbook Five continues to pull the threads from the Rivers of Eden through the Torah portions. It has illustrative stories, wordplay, and thematic explorations of the text and symbols.
The Torah text is traced to its apocalyptic outcomes in some portions, and the literal text is compared and contrast
ed with the figurative language often used in Scripture.
The hermeneutic device of consecutive numbers is explained, and the challenge of ritual and tradition is addressed. The Song of Moses is keyed thematically to the Book of Revelation, and the final Mosaic blessing on the sons of Israel is keyed to the Valorous Woman of Proverbs 31, revealing a secret in blessings, a blessing on the daughters.
Each portion has review questions, bonus discovery questions, and assignments suitable for both individuals and study groups.
The most important objective of the workbook, to encourage individual spiritual transformation from the Word, is included in each Torah portion.
Reviews Needed! (Yes, I'm begging)
If you purchased Workbook Six, Workbook Five Vol 5, or any BEKY Books, we are in need of good reviews on amazon.com and goodreads.com. Reviews don't have to be long, only a sentence or two, but each good review increases the chances that curious seekers will find a testimony of the Torah and Yeshua in the books.
The BEKY authors have published their titles barely above cost so that anyone can afford them, so if you appreciate that kind of dedication to sharing the Word, reward us with a good review!
Creation Gospel Beginner Online Seminar
Interest in the intensive online seminar is evenly split between those who want two consecutive Sunday afternoon classes and those who want four, two-hour weekday evening classes. I will take a look at my schedule, and it is
possible I will offer both
, one in September, and one in October. A special email will go out once the schedule is decided.
If you are interested, the textbook is
Creation Gospel Workbook One: The Creation Foundation
, which is available through
Hebraic Roots Network
There is no charge for the seminar, although donations can be made on our website. If you have a serious interest, respond to email@example.com and indicate whether you'd prefer two four-hour classes on consecutive Sundays or four two-hour evening classes.
Women of Valor in November
Women of Valor now has a new website!
Registration is now open for November's conference!
LaMalah Children's Centre
Elections in Kenya are complete, and protests of the outcome are expected. Brother Ndungu has purchased some extra supplies so that they will not have to travel out of Limuru during this time, and they have put a teaching trip to Uganda on hold until order returns. Please put the LaMalah Children's Centre and our brothers and sisters in Kenya on your prayer list for safety during this transition time.
Special thanks to our regular donors and our new donors. Click on this Dropbox link for a special Powerpoint presentation giving the history of LaMalah Children's Centre.
If you have children's clothes or children's books (in English) to send, you can mail them to:
Peter W Ndungu
If you can help toward this goal, as always, we welcome your assistance. For those of you who send monthly support to the orphanage, we can't thank you enough for fulfilling Messiah's commission.
Another way to help...
Want to help The Creation Gospel every time you purchase something on Amazon? Our ministry is part of our local congregation, The Olive Branch, in East Bernstadt, Kentucky. If you reset your amazon home page to
and select The Olive Branch Messianic Congregation Inc. as your charity, Amazon donates a small percentage of each sale. Every penny helps, and our congregation is a great help in meeting special needs at the orphanage and other outreaches.