Shabbat shalom,

Regrettably, we had a computer crash this week, so I've been without my laptop while old files were transferred to a new laptop and applications were installed.  I will not be including a Torah portion teaching this week, but I would like to acknowledge Tisha B'Av with an excerpt from the revised Creation Gospel Workbook Three: The Spirit-filled Family:




Paul writes some things difficult to be understood in I Corinthians 7.  There are many explanations for the letter, but history gives a glimpse into Paul's Jewish mindset.  Among some other similar statements, he writes:

Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy.  I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is.  Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife.  But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you.  

A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.  But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.

From the outset, it should be acknowledged that Paul and the First Century believing community lived in a precarious time.  The persecution of believers, of which Paul took part in his early years, was increasing.  The persecution of Jews in general was increasing.  Zealots were drawing the wrath of Rome and local puppet rulers as well as Jewish leaders.  

By the time of Paul's death around 66 AD, the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was only four years away, and believers had seen "the writing on the wall."  Into this milieu of military, economic, political, and religious chaos, Paul attempted to write wise instructions to the believing communities, but each community was different!  The only thing they had in common was their common belief in Yeshua as the Messiah and the chaos of the age.  

The utter despair of Jews and believing Gentiles at the destruction of the Temple would have been difficult to address no matter how strong the writer's faith in the eventual restoration of all things.  Since the grief over the loss of the Temple in one's own generation is so difficult to comprehend, perhaps a glimpse of the hopelessness recorded by the Jewish sages in the Talmud will give some insight into the ethos of Paul's final letters, for Paul unequivocally states that he is a Pharisee and the son of a Pharisee in Acts 23:6.  From the more compassionate Pharisaic School of Hillel, Paul predicts the despair of his Jewish contemporaries.  

In Bava Batra 60b, the Jewish sages who witnessed the destruction of the Temple wrote the following:

By right we should issue a decree that Jews should not marry and have children so that the seed of Avraham will come to an end of its own accord.

While there are other considerations in studying the context of the passage (see Appendix F), the point of including it is to capture the moment of Jewish grief over the destruction of the Temple and City that had stood in some degree of holy function since the return from Babylon.  The American governmental and religious foundations have stood less than a few hundred years, but imagine losing the focal point of worship that had stood for over six hundred years, excluding a space of the seventy years of exile in Babylon, and the legacy of the first edifice that had stood hundreds of years after being established by King David.  

The apostles and Yeshua had prepared believers for a day when they would become little Temples, taking the Torah to the four corners of the earth, but just as Yeshua prepared his inner circle for his death prior to the actual day, they nevertheless sank to the depths of fear and despair when that day finally arrived.  

In like manner, the believing communities were prepared for the destruction of the Temple, but the actual day they received news of that destruction would have been a sad one, for it was from that Holy City that the apostles and Jewish believing community had laid down their worldly goods for common use so that the Gospel could go forth.  The beneficiaries of that selfless devotion to the Word now received word of that community's deportation and destruction.  

Neither Paul nor the Jewish sages of the First Century encouraged transgression of the Torah by discouraging marriage; instead, they expressed the grief of displacement with which most Americans cannot identify.  A refugee from a war-torn country, however, would be able to describe that despair from experience.

The good news was that there was a precedent in Scripture that could give the believing communities, including the Corinthians, hope.  In spite of the impending invasion of the Babylonian army and the reality of the soon-to-be-destroyed City and First Temple, Jeremiah receives a prophetic Word in the mire of his prison.  His cousin Hanamel confirms that Word, and he says, "Buy my field!"  Jeremiah agrees to buy the field and signs the contract, burying the deed in an earthenware jar, a symbol of the human body.  Although buried in despair, it will be resurrected, for once again the Jewish people will return to the Land and rebuild the City and Temple.

It is utterly astonishing that under the terrible circumstances in which the Jews lived at that moment, one simple Jew had the nerve to walk up to the very prophet who persistently predicted that utter disaster was imminent and dared to offer to sell him a piece of land!  No doubt this piece of land was full of corpses and located in a war zone that prevented the new buyer from visiting his property.  Who would think of trying to sell, let alone buy, in such a market? (Cardozo, 2008, p. 40)

With this despair, Paul writes to the Corinthians concerning the advantages and disadvantages to remaining single or marrying.  Like Jeremiah, his words seem heavy with sorrow for the impending fall of the Temple, but like Jeremiah, he concedes that hope must remain for return, and only if people marry and bear children will there be anyone to return and rebuild, whenever the return may be:  

Thus says the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: houses, fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land. (Jeremiah 32:15).  

In the meantime, those in covenant will be scattered in the earth to keep the commandments.  Paul must speak to these Spirit-filled married couples, sons, daughters, widows, widowers, divorcees, and singles consistently with the commandments of the Torah as well as the understanding of the perilous time in which they were living and were dying.




LaMalah Children's Centre

Thanks so much to our donors for helping the orphanage monthly.  Love, joy, and peace to the needy are fruit that no doctrine can refute and "against such there is no law."   If you would like to send clothes or children's books, the postage to Kenya is around $33 per 3-pound package, but if you are able to send a parcel, please email us for the mailing address.

 

 

 
 

 

Israel Study Trip March 19-30, 2017.
$2100 Land Cost

There are five seats left on the study trip in March.  If you would like more information, please reply to this email or CLICK HERE for details and tour itinerary.

 


 


 
 


If you enjoyed What is the Torah?, then three new BEKY Books are available today to extend your library.  BEKY Books are Books Encouraging the Kingdom of Yeshua, and they offer simple explanations to questions that newcomers have.  In other words, we strive to deliver the Word with cool heels!   I invite you to take a look at www.bekybooks.com for bios on our authors and the list of upcoming releases. 

The booklets can be read in one sitting, and they are designed to encourage and invite the newcomer to explore further for truth. Click on the images below to see the full book description on www.amazon.com.


 

Introduction to the Jewish Sources
is a brief history of how the Jewish sources such as the Mishnah and Talmud evolved into the documents we have today.  If you've ever read a commentary with a reference such as Pesachim 2b and wondered what it was, Rabbi Creeger's quick reference guide in the booklet will give you a brief summary of each seder and tractate's contents.  The simple explanations in this BEKY Book are a great way to walk in the sandals of the Jewish sages as they thought through the problems of guarding and remembering the Torah in each generation, and it will quickly lift your literacy level in Jewish history.  Here is one Jewish reader's response to Introduction to the Jewish Sources:

Shalom Sar.

I finished your book and then immediately turned back to the beginning. I'm very excited to read it.  The timing is particularly good because I just began to read Pirke Avot-- not for the first time.

Your message is fresh, necessary; it is simultaneously simple and profound.  You organically explain the development of the oral Torah in a way that anybody could understand.  I have never seen anything like it. Moreover, you exhibit a humble tone throughout your work managing to be scholarly without being pedantic.  For that I thank you personally. This book is the best witness for Yeshua that I could imagine. This is important to me. If I were speaking to an observant Jew who did not believe in Yeshua, I would be able to stand behind your book. Thank you!




Colossal Controversies
is the first BEKY Book by Dr. Robin Gould, and it's the simplest explanation yet to some of the most controversial verses in the letter to the Colossians.  Her careful examination of the Greek words and context deconstructs issues concerning the celebration of new moons and sabbaths, as well as answers the question of what was nailed to the cross.  At the same time, Dr. Gould demonstrates the danger of taking verses or phrases out of context, which can lead the reader to draw a conclusion exactly opposite of what the writer intended.  I want to buy several of these to keep in our own congregational library.
 



Messianic Shabbat Service is my second BEKY Book, and it is based on a visitor's booklet we compiled for visitors to our congregation.  It was compiled after years of answering questions or addressing problems that arose due to a newcomer's lack of experience with our unique walk which is not Jewish, nor is it Christian.  It also grew out of my retirement job of training Bureau of Prisons chaplains in how to meet the needs of Messianic Sabbatarian inmates.  The challenge was to describe something that is entirely too diverse to describe! 

The booklet includes a brief history of the Nazarene Jews and the "Messianic" movement along with some of the more usual components of a Messianic Jewish or non-Jewish Shabbat service or fellowship.  For those who would like to have a resource with which to greet visitors to make them more comfortable, this is the booklet.  In the question-and-answer section are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions, such as

What are those little strings people are wearing?
Why do you turn toward Jerusalem to pray?
Isn't the Star of David a pagan symbol?
Why so much Hebrew?

If you'd like a quick summer read that is at the same time a handy giveaway to coworkers, family, and friends, consider ordering one or a full set of BEKY Books today.  We could also use some positive reviews on amazon that will help potential buyers as they are considering whether it's worth that $4.49.  I think they're worth every penny!