Tag Archives: Divine law

Adar 6, Matan Torah remembering the giving of Torah

In the people of God their year 2448 (1313 BCE), on the 6th (or 7th) day of the third month of the ecclesiastical year on the Hebrew calendar, Sivan, after Moshe was called up at the mountain of Sinai, God told his chosen one what to tell to the people. With the Shemoth or  Exodus from Egypt only three months in the past, the Jews arrive at Mount Sinai to hear a terrible noise and to see flashing lights. They saw a mountain which was been touched and burned with fire and to blackness and to darkness and to tempest.

“Now all of the people were seeing the thunder-sounds, the flashing-torches, the shofar sound, and the mountain smoking; when the people saw, they faltered and stood far off.”
(Exodus 20:15 SB)

“The people stood far off, and Moshe approached the fog where God was.”
(Exodus 20:18 SB)

Moshe having entered into the thick ‘darkness’ of the clouds, came to hear the Voice of God, the Most High Divine Creator. God spoke to Moshe

“… Say thus to the Children of Israel: You yourselves have seen that it was from the heavens that I spoke with you.”
(Exodus 20:19 SB)

V11p133004 Torah

V11p133004 Torah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There God gave to the Children of Israel what is by most Christians known as the “Ten commandments” but would be better referred to as the (literal translation) ““The Ten Sayings” or Decalogue. These Sayings including more than ten actual mitzvahs. Later Jeshua would tell that he has come not to take that Law away, like so many christians think, but to explain it and to fulfil it.

“Do not suppose that I came to tear-down the law or the prophets; I did not come to tear-down, but to fulfil.”
(Matthew 5:17 MLV)

“But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one serif of the law to fall short.”
(Luke 16:17 MLV)

“Now I am saying this: the law, which happened four hundred and thirty years afterward, does not invalidate a covenant* validated beforehand by God in reference to Christ so as to do-away-with the promise.”
(Galatians 3:17 MLV)

Many thousand years ago God found it time that what He wanted people would know very well what He expected from them. He wanted to make it clear to them what His expectations were.
He made it clear what He wanted man to keep to.

For those who doubt it, or use graven images in their worship places God made it clear He does not like such things.

“You are not to make beside me gods of silver, gods of gold you are not to make for yourselves!”
(Exodus 20:20 SB)

No body, who wants to be a child of God, may have more than One God before him or may become unequally yoked with unbelievers and take part in pagan rites and pagan festivals (like Halloween, Christmas, Easter, just to call a few).

It was on Sivan 2 that the Almighty God tells Moshe that He not only wants to give the Jews the Torah, but also wants to make them His chosen, set apart or holy nation, who will follow His commandments. The Jews wholeheartedly agree, replying,

“All God wishes we will do.”

On the third day of the month Moses relays the Jews’ answer to God and then returns to the Jews to tell them that he will be the messenger for the Ten Sayings; that what God told him up high on the mountain.

This weekend, Adar 6, 5777, we remember the giving of Torah and this transitional moment in our history — a moment known as Matan Torah (the Giving of the Torah). No longer were we merely the descendants of a great man named Abraham, or simply a Middle-Eastern people known as the Israelites. We had now become God’s people, chosen to learn His Torah and keep its laws. It’s a moment we celebrate every year on the festival of Shavuot, and this year will take place from May 30–June 1.

The Torah and Talmudic sources describe the delivery of the Ten Commandments as a unique experience — complete with thunder, lightning and a smoking mountaintop — and an event of historic significance. Yet the Talmudic account itself actually makes it quite difficult to understand what was so earth-shattering about

“the giving of the Torah.”

It was not that people did not yet know God’s Will. A significant body of legislation and moral lore was already in existence long before the historic event described as “the giving of the Torah.” Indeed, even without the Talmudic tradition it would seem that all of the Ten Commandments given at Sinai are either philosophical axioms (e.g., monotheism), moral imperatives and ideals (e.g., do not murder, do not steal, honour your father and mother, do not covet), or previously received mandates (e.g., the Sabbath). In other words, not the sort of material that would seem to warrant a divine revelation — and certainly not one of such grandeur.

But we should know that it was no simple handing over a book of lore …  God gave man the basic rules to live by, the Ten Commandments.

Please do understand, though the name of the event — the Giving of the Torah — implies that the entire Torah was given that day, this is not the case. In fact, only the Ten Commandments were taught to us that day, and even they were only transmitted verbally. The physical luchot—the tablets — were not given for another 40 days.

Nevertheless, the name remains, as it marks the day the Elohim began the process of giving us the Torah. In that light we should remember this weekend which great gift we were given so that it would be much easier for us to know how to keep in line with God’s desires.

First we were taught the Ten Commandments. Then, Moses stayed on Mount Sinai to learn from God, for 40 days. We too can take such 40 days to meditate and wonder about our relationship with the Most High. You can call it a time of reflection. Also Jeshua took such a time to think about what God wanted from him and his followers. He too had gone in the desert for 40 days to contemplate. Jeshua also took time to cogitate and was not afraid to deny the requests from others to denounce God or to test God. Also God’s people had to wait such a long time before they saw Moshe back. Though they proved not to be as strong as Moshe and Jeshua, Jesus Christ, who thought it most important to do the Will of God and not his own will. Though it is clearly impossible for Moshe to have learned ‘all 385 commandments’, he did learn the rules they are based on, and so it is considered as if he actually learned them. On stone tablets the basic 10 sayings cover most rules. The rest of the Torah was communicated in stages throughout the Jews’ 40-year sojourn in the desert.

In short we could say

The Ten Commandments

  1. Believe in Only One God.
  2. Do not believe in other deities.
  3. Do not take God’s name in vain.
  4. Keep Shabbat.
  5. Honour your parents.
  6. Don’t murder.
  7. Don’t commit adultery.
  8. Don’t kidnap.
  9. Don’t give false testimony.
  10. Don’t covet another’s possessions.
The Ten Commandments, In SVG

The Ten Commandments, In SVG (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This our the basic rules for man to follow. The 4 first ones you could consider laws believers in God should follow, but the 5th until the 10th commandment form the basic rules for all people, who should take care to be able to live with each other in the best and most peaceful conditions. By obeying those given ethic laws for humanity man should be able to live in peace.

Although Matan Torah is known as the time when God gave us His Torah to study and keep, there were a few Israelites who had kept the entire Torah of their own volition before Matan Torah.

Now the moment had come that the Elohim Hashem Jehovah asked man to take the act of making a conscious choice or decision. It had become time man had to show for Whom he wanted to stand. From the beginning of times God had given man freedom to act or judge on one’s own. Now it is time for man to show that he has the ability or power to discern what is responsible or socially appropriate.

Man has to make the choice how he is going to behave in a community. He has to choose the position he is going to take opposite others and how he is going to treat them.

Before Matan Torah, those who observed Torah did so entirely of their own accord. It was their own choice and we can not tell in what way they wanted to do it. We can only guess how they saw it as a matter of having a good relationship with the Divine Creator.

Probably their connection to God, therefore, was only as deep as their understanding and feeling. Like today people who come into the faith cannot know yet all what they have to keep to and have to go on a path of learning to come to know what God really wants from them.

English: The Title page of Mishnah Torah by Mo...

The Title page of Mishnah Torah by Moshe ben Maimon haRambam, published in Venice in 1575 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For us tonight having Matan Torah in our mind, we look at the time the Elohim connected His Essence to the Torah and gave it to mankind and as such also to us. Each of us has the own responsibility now to decide to accept that given Torah or to deny it. Each of us should see how The Law of God is our safeguarding but also our inner set apart (holy) contact with the Most High. When we observe the Torah, therefore, we are connected to God’s essence, no matter who we are and how much we understand or feel. {Likutei Sichot, vol. 28, pp. 11-12.}

Fear may have seized those at the fields before the mountain of Sinai, but we should not be in fear, because “God has visited his people!” and given His instructions so that they could live according to the Wishes of God. We should know that in every place where God’s Name is recorded He will come to us and will bless us.

“Moshe said to the people: Do not be afraid! For it is to test you that God has come, to have awe of him be upon you, so that you do not sin.”
(Exodus 20:17 SB)

“A slaughter-site of soil, you are to make for me, you are to slaughter upon it your offerings-up, your sacrifices of shalom, your sheep and your oxen! At every place where I cause my name to be recalled I will come to you and bless you.”
(Exodus 20:21 SB)

“I will make a great nation of you and will give-you-blessing and will make your name great. Be a blessing!”
(Genesis 12:2 SB)

“So are they to put my name upon the Children of Israel, that I myself may bless them.”
(Numbers 6:27 SB)

Moshe wrote down the Words of God and that way even today we can read what God wants from His creatures.

“Now Moshe wrote down all the words of YHWH. He started-early in the morning, building a slaughter-site beneath the mountain and twelve standing-stones for the twelve tribes of Israel.”
(Exodus 24:4 SB)

English: Moses repeated the commandments to th...

Moses repeated the commandments to the people, detail by a Carolingian book illuminator circa 840 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Preceding articles

Our life depending on faith

God’s wisdom for the believer brings peace

Mishmash of a legal code but importance of mitzvah or commandments

Written by inspiration of God for our admonition, to whom it shall be imputed if they believe

Whoopi Goldberg commandments and abortion

29. Laws that Value People

Responsibilities of Parenthood for sharing the Word of God

Luther’s misunderstanding

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Additional reading

  1. Statutes given unto us
  2. A god who gave his people commandments and laws he knew they never could keep to it
  3. Necessary to be known all over the earth
  4. God-breathed prophetic words written torah and the mitzvot to teach us
  5. Observing the commandments and becoming doers of the Word
  6. Displeasures and Actions of the Almighty GodJudeo-Christian values and liberty
  7. Not trying to make the heathen live like Jews #1
  8. Hello America and atheists
  9. 1,500 to 1,700 years old Chiselled tablet with commandments sold at auction

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Further reading

  1. Our Competition With God
  2. A Summary of Exodus
  3. February 6, 2017-The Beginning of Law’
  4. Intro to the Ten Commandments or The Ten Words
  5. Ten Commandments – Exodus 20:1-17
  6. Exodus 24:12-18 Moses was on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights
  7. The first commandment – Putting God first
  8. God verses our gods
  9. God’s nature revealed as Law
  10. The 10 Commandments
  11. The Ten Commandments
  12. The Ten Commandments and Prophesy
  13. Daily Prompt: Ten
  14. Do You Keep the Ten Commandments
  15. 10 Rules Worth Following
  16. Ten Commandments
  17. Do the Ten Commandments apply to Christians?
  18. The beginning
  19. Can the Old Covenant be abolished if the Ten Commandments are not?
  20. “The Catechism in Six Parts: The Ten Commandments”
  21. How Not to Learn from The Bible
  22. God the Father – “I did not create you so that you could do whatever you want…”
  23. Want What You’ve Got! (Lent)
  24. Christian Parenting, Ten Commandments, and Les Miserables
  25. It Depends
  26. Idolatry & The Shack
  27. Honor Your Parents
  28. What I’m Reading: Are You Normal?
  29. Simple Standard
  30. Rules of the Road
  31. Sabbath, Creation, Guarding and Observing
  32. Top Ten Secrets From The Foundation Of Our World
  33. Simply following the Ten Commandments isn’t enough
  34. Seven Fundamental Practices: Sabbath Rest
  35. Sermon: Who Do You Love?
  36. Love and the Meaninglessness of Scripture
  37. Lying
  38. Lust of the eyes
  39. Morality and neurochemical impulses
  40. Shorty*: What Ultimately Comforted Job?
  41. Jesus Christ – “Remember, you are not here to please man with your actions but God – God’s Laws never change”
  42. I’ll Do It My Way -the terrible harvest of moral relativism

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Filed under History, Juridical matters, Lifestyle, Religious affairs

Sukkoth, Gog, Magog, Armageddon, a covenant and Jerusalem

Moadim L’Simcha (Appointed Times for Joy) and Shabbat Shalom dear readers!

The joyous holiday of Sukkoth (Sukkot or Feast or Tabernacles or Feast of Booths), one of the three Pilgrim Festivals of the Hebrew Bible, is observed on the Jewish calendar dates of 15-21 Tishrei and is immediately followed by the holiday of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. The final day of Sukkot is known as Hoshana Rabba (“Great Hosanna”) (In 2016 coming Monday and Tuesday) and with the eighth day should for Christians also be important, being it a day of Solemn Assembly, commemorating the completion of the annual cycle of readings from the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) and being called Simḥat Torah (“Rejoicing of the Law”). .

The seventh day of the festival of Sukkot, considered to be the final day of the New Year’s Divine “judgment” in which the year’s fate is determined; in addition to the Four Kinds taken on the preceding days of Sukkot, an additional willow is taken on this day; it is customary to stay up all night on the eve of Hoshanah Rabbah and study Torah.

During the week long festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles), the regular Parasha (Torah portion) for Shabbat is suspended, and a special Parasha pertaining to the holiday is read in synagogues around the world.

Readings for Shabbat Chol Hamoed Sukkot
Exodus 33:12–34:26; Ezekiel 38:18–39:16; Revelation 21:1–22:21

For lovers of God the Jewish reading for today is one which should concern all, being aware of the importance of the covenant made by the Most High.

“Behold, I make a covenant: before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord: for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.”  (Exodus 34:10)

In this special Sukkot reading, Moses asks that God’s presence would go with Israel, and God agrees. The marvellous thing about God the Divine Creator is that He loves His creation so much, that when people ask Him to be with them and to go with them, God will do that. He is there for all who want Him nearby.
Encouraged by this positive response, Moses also asks to see God’s glory.  Once again, God graciously complies with his request and invites Moses to ascend Mount Sinai with two newly hewn stone tablets so that He can re-carve the Ten Commandments. Those mitzvah or commandments were given to be a guide for mankind, so that they could build up a good relationship with their Most High Maker.
It was there on that mountain that God revealed His glory to Moses in such a fearsome spectacle of power that God had to protect Moses from being destroyed by it.
“There is a place near Me where you can stand on a rock.  When My glory passes by, I will put you in an opening in the rock.  I will cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove My hand.  You will see My back.  But My face must not be seen.”  (Exodus 33:21–23)
It’s clear that Moses, having experienced the power of the presence of God, understands that His presence is more than sufficient against any threat Israel might encounter inside or outside of the Promised Land.
This is a great prospect for God’s nation. We also know now that God promised Abraham that his seed and sons by faith, would come to live in the Holy Land. In the end all Jews, the children of Abraham, will find their Holy Nation there and find Jerusalem to be the capital of the nation of God’s people. They would be sent in exile and have to endure lots of problems throughout history, but there shall come a time when they shall be all united under God’s Kingdom. God will gather His People to their own land and the whole world shall come to know it.
The world shall have to come to hear that Israel shall be restored and that also others came to know the Law of God and shall be willing to live according the covenant also brought to them by the sent one from God, rabbi Jeshua, the son of man and son of God, who gave his life as a ransom payment for all sinners, so that all people could come back to God to be His children. He provided a new covenant, one of reconciliation.
But we should take heed, God has given a warning that terrible times shall come  over the world. The Restoration of Israel shall be challenged.
“This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, My hot anger will be aroused.”  (Ezekiel 38:18)
In the Haftarah (prophetic portion) for this Shabbat Chol Hamoed (intermediate day of the festival) of Sukkot, the Hebrew prophet Ezekiel describes an end-time scenario in which formidable armies from the north, under the leadership of Gog, will challenge the restoration of Israel.
Gog (left) and Magog, wooden effigies in the Guildhall, London

Gog (left) and Magog, wooden effigies in the Guildhall, London – Courtesy of the British Tourist Authority

Gog is a chief prince living in the land of Magog (Ezekiel 38:2).  Many scholars believe Magog refers to Russia.  The invading land of Gomer is often believed to be Germany.

Several lands in the coalition army are easily identifiable: Iran (Persia), Northern Sudan (ancient Ethiopia or Cush), Libya (Put), and Turkey (Togarmah).
Last year at this time, Russia made significant moves into the Middle East, reportedly to fight against ISIS.  Last week, however, it negotiated its first “permanent” air base in the region at Khmeimim, Syria and its naval base in Tartus, Syria will soon become “permanent” as well.
Russia also recently installed its S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system in Syria and completed the transfer of the system to Iran last month.
In effect, Russia has become a major military broker in the region.  It is right now on the doorstep of Israel, and it plans to stay.
The nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38 will unite and come upon Israel “like a cloud that covers the land” for the purpose of looting the wealth that she has amassed in what was a desolate land only seventy years ago.
Yet, God will not abandon His People.  He will utterly destroy the coalition forces of Gog so that all nations will come to know the holiness of the Lord (Ezekiel 38:18–23).
The forces that come against Israel will be so large in their day of defeat that Gog’s weaponry will provide fuel for Israel for seven years (Ezekiel 39:9).
“They will not need to gather wood from the fields or cut it from the forests, because they will use the weapons for fuel.  And they will plunder those who plundered them and loot those who looted them, declares the Sovereign LORD.”  (Ezekiel 39:10)
Moreover, so many soldiers will die in this battle that it will take seven months for Israel to bury them all and cleanse their land (Ezekiel 39:12).

A man carries a Torah scroll that is protected by a silver Torah tik (case) during Sukkot at the Western Wall.

The Jews read about this end-time battle during Sukkot, because according to Rabbinic tradition, this war will be waged during the month of Tishri, the month in which the holiday of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) falls.

Interestingly enough, the war that is described in Ezekiel is similar to the war described in the 14th chapter of Zechariah, the Haftarah reading on the first day of Sukkot.  And in Zechariah we learn that the Gentiles who survive the war against Israel will be required to keep Sukkot annually by coming up to the Holy City of Jerusalem to worship the Lord.
“Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles [Sukkot].  If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain.”  (Zechariah 14:1617)
This should give us food to think about the matter of feasts and holidays we do have to partake.

Sukkot at the Western (Wailing) Wall.

 

 

Psalm 27 presents a clear connection between Sukkot and God’s protection of Israel and those who trust in Him:
“For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle [sukkah]; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.”  (Psalm 27:5)
The word translated here as tabernacle is the Hebrew word sukkah (סכה)When evil threatens God’s people, He will hide them in His sukkah, inaccessible from the enemy on the rock of His presence.
Now that is a promise we can trust in during these last days!

 

The Battle of Armageddon

“When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison, and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth — Gog and Magog — to gather them for battle.”  (Revelation 20:78)
Gog and Magog are also mentioned in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) in connection with Armageddon and the final battle between the forces of good and evil.
This war with Gog and Magog is not the same war described in Ezekiel 38 but a final end-time battle after the thousand-year reign of Jeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
The Son of David, Jeshua, will come again — this time as our conquering Messiah to defeat the invading forces forever.  All who have believed in their Saviour, Jeshua, will inherit eternity in God’s Kingdom of which the New Jerusalem shall be the capital of a revived Garden of Eden complete with trees of life and pure living water that will be good to eat and drink forever.

Ancient ruins atop Har Meggido in Israel

Armageddon is mentioned only once in the Brit Chadashah (New Testament) in chapter 16 of the Book of Revelation.
“They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty….  Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.”  (Revelation 16:14, 16)
The word Armageddon is derived from Har Magedon (meaning mountain of Megiddo) and is mentioned many times in the Tanakh (Old Testament).
Megiddo is derived from the Hebrew word gadad, meaning to penetrate, muster troops together, perhaps even invade.
In this end-time invasion, we once again see Israel’s enemies mounting a war against Jerusalem.  This time, however, we see the spiritual forces behind the rebellion against God:
“They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon.”  (Revelation 9:11)
The words Abaddon and Apollyon mean Destroyer.
And this time, God pours out on the Destroyer and all rebels the full extent of His judgment, including everlasting torment for Satan, the beast and the false prophet.
“They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city He loves.  But fire came down from heaven and devoured them.  And Satan, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown.  They will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” (Revelation 20:910)
With an Outstretched Arm
As we read how God will hurl His fury against Gog with pestilence and with blood, floods, giant hailstones, fire and brimstone, it’s easy to see from this Haftarah portion that God is furious with those who come against the Land of Israel(Ezekiel 38:22).
In fact, there are several parallels between God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt long ago and His future deliverance of Israel from Gog in the end times.  In both, we see that God saves and rescues Israel with a strong hand and with an outstretched arm.
The phrase with a strong hand and an outstretched arm (בְּיָ֣ד חֲ֭זָקָה וּבִזְר֣וֹעַ נְטוּיָ֑ה) has special meaning in Jewish tradition.  It represents God using His power on behalf of His people.  The “arm of the Lord” also represents His salvation, which in Hebrew is Jeshua.
“You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror.”  (Jeremiah 32:21, see also Deuteronomy 4:34; 26:8; Exodus 6:6)
As Russia expands its influence in the region and neighboring nations plot to annihilate Israel, there is certainly evidence that Ezekiel 38 is on the horizon.  Yet, this Sukkot Parasha reveals that God’s Divine Sheltering Presence over Israel has not ended but will continue past the end of this age.
God is not finished with the Jewish People and Israel.  This is plainly evident when we consider how Bible Prophecy concerning Israel is being fulfilled during these end times before our very eyes.
The Brit Chadashah (New Covenant) also tells us that God’s plan to reach out to the nations through Israel did not end with the death and resurrection of Messiah, but continues to this day and will in the world to come:
“For if their casting Yeshua [Jesus] aside means reconciliation for the world, what will their accepting Him mean?  It will be life from the dead!”  (Romans 11:15)
The Book of Romans promises that when the Jewish People come to know Jeshua, it will be like life from the dead for the world.
Before this can happen, however, they must first hear the Good News of Jeshua!
“How can they call on Him unless they believe in Him?  How can they believe in Him unless they hear about Him?  How can they hear about Him unless someone preaches to them?”  (Romans 10:14)
It is up to the followers of Jeshua to follow up the task given by this master, rabbi Jeshua. Therefore Christians, being aware that the times are coming closer, should make work of it, spreading the Good News of the coming Kingdom of God.
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With thanks to the Messianic Bible
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Additional reading

  1. Ninth of Av
  2. Festival of Freedom and persecutions
  3. Jerusalem God’s City for ever
  4. Glory of only One God Who gives His Word
  5. Vayikra after its opening word וַיִּקְרָא, which means and He called
  6. Holy land Christian exodus
  7. How do we know the coming of Jesus is very near?
  8. Armageddon, har and megiddo, an action or a place
  9. Ember and light the ransomed of Jehovah
  10. Ransom for all
  11. Jerusalem and a son’s kingdom
  12. Bringing into safety from Irak and Iran
  13. 2015 the year of ISIS
  14. This Week’s Developments in Weekly World Watch 15-21 July
  15. The promise a guarantee of something and the heir that is going to have
  16. Chemical warsite and Pushing king of the South

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Further reading

  1. Understanding the Battle of Gog and Magog
  2. Trend Update: Burden of Damascus/Russian Embassy Takes Fire, October 2016
  3. Zork Nemesis – The Forbidden Lands
  4. War is upon us!
  5. Russia, Iran, and The War with Israel
  6. The Coming War
  7. Ezekiel blog: My version of the end of the world, part I
  8. Ezekiel blog: My version of the end of the world Part II
  9. Who are the real Gog and Magog in prophecy?
  10. Less of Me
  11. “My Relationship with Jesus Christ”
  12. Trend Update: Ezekiel 38-39/Magog (Russia)/Golan Heights, Passover 2016
  13. Alliance Formation

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Filed under Religious affairs, World affairs

Comments to James remarks, about Faith and works

 

“1  My brothers, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory with partiality. 2 For if a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, comes into your synagogue, and a poor man in filthy clothing also comes in; 3 and you pay special attention to him who wears the fine clothing, and say, “Sit here in a good place”; but you tell the poor man, “Stand there,” or “Sit by my footstool”; 4 haven’t you shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?” (James 2:1-4 NHEB)

“But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you, and personally drag you before the courts?” (James 2:6 NHEB)

“But if you show partiality, you commit sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors.” (James 2:9 NHEB)

“For judgment is without mercy to him who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:13 NHEB)

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him?” (James 2:14 NHEB)

“17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself. 18 Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith.
19 You believe that God is one. You do well. The demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But do you want to know, foolish man, that faith apart from works is useless?

21 Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith worked with his works, and by works faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him as righteousness”; and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In like manner was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works, in that she received the messengers, and sent them out another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead.” (James 2:17-26 NHEB)

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The Works (Faith No More album)

The Works (Faith No More album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Christadelphian Agora comments:

“You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did” (James 2:22).
“An old Scotsman operated a little rowboat for transporting passengers. One day a passenger noticed that the good old man had carved on one oar the word ‘Faith’, and on the other oar the word ‘Works’. Curiosity led him to ask the meaning of this. The old man, being a well-balanced believer in Christ, and glad of the opportunity for testimony, said, ‘I will show you.’ So saying, he dropped one oar and plied the other called Works, and they just went around in circles. Then he dropped that oar and began to use the oar called Faith, and the little boat just went around in circles again — this time the other way around, but still in a circle. After this demonstration the old man picked up Faith and Works and wielding both oars together, sped swiftly over the water, explaining to his inquiring passenger, ‘You see, that is the way it is in the believer’s life. Works without faith are useless, and faith without works is dead also, getting you nowhere. But faith and works pulling together make for safety, progress, and blessing’ ” (Maritta Terrell).

Peter Cresswell comments:

v.9 As a community (speaking generally) we are condemned by our inability to work out this maxim in our practical lives. There are those who genuinely are prepared to preach to anyone and accept anyone, but I think if we are honest, most of us are not happy with this teaching. A moment’s reflection on it today then will do no harm. Would we, for example, like Jesus in John 8:3-11, accept the repentance of the prostitute (which is seems this woman was) so readily? Lev.19:15

Peter Forbes  comments:

2:1-4 It is said that we form an impression about someone within a few minutes of seeing them. We have not had enough time to assess their character and yet we make decisions which may colour our view for the rest of our lives. It is really clear why God does not judge by outward appearance – 1Sam 16:7 – we should emulate His approach.

2:4 So we see that partiality which starts by looking on the outward appearance – see 2:2– is in reality judging the way others think.

2:4  Partiality is a consequence of being ‘double minded’ as mentioned in James 1:8

2:5 In speaking of ‘the poor of this world’ James echoes Paul’s comment about men of faith – Heb 11:37 . One cannot but wonder how we would have reacted to some of the men and women of faith if we had seen them in the street.

2:6 Continuing thoughts on our contribution for June 8th James asks his readers to think on the realities of their experience. The very ones that they would revere were the ones who were their persecutors!

2:6     ‘despised’ <818> is translated ‘shamefully’ Luke 20:11 and ‘dishonour’  John 8:49 showing that James is reproving the brethren for denigrating the ‘poor’.

2:9 That we should show ‘no respect of persons’ draws on the Law of Moses and is seen extensively in Scripture. Here are some occasions. Leviticus 19:15 Deuteronomy 1:17 16:19 2 Samuel 14:14 2 Chronicles 19:7 Proverbs 24:23 28:21 Romans 2:11 Ephesians 6:9 Colossians 3:25 1 Peter 1:17 No matter how one dresses up the prejudice against the poor and favour toward the well dressed it is a violation of the Divine law. Actually it manifests pride. We like to identify with the rich in this world rather than the poor.

2:11   James here clearly shows that there are no degrees of sin. Sin is sin. Agreed the consequences of some sins is greater than others insofar as our actions impact upon other men. However any sin violates God’s principles.

2:13 These words of James draw upon the teaching of Jesus in Matt 7:2

2:14-17  I suppose one could summarise what James is teaching here by saying “talk is cheap”.  It is ever so easy to talk about how we love and serve God. It is far harder to simply get on with doing that.

2:21-23  We notice that Abraham was “justified” in Gen 15:6. However it was many years later when he was willing to offer Isaac – Gen 22:9 – which demonstrated his faith. So, even though God saw Abraham’s faith no man could have seen the evidence of Abraham’s faith. But God knew in advance that Abraham had faith.

2:23    There are two earlier occasions when Abraham is called God’s friend – (#2Ch 20:7; Isa 41:8)

2:23 How would you like to be called ‘the friend of God’? Such is the description of faithful Abraham – he believed that God would keep His word and so acted upon that knowledge. So we know the way to friendship with God.

2:23 There were quite a number of years between the statement in Gen 15:6 that Abraham believed God and his offering of Isaac. Faith is not a ‘flash in the pan’ activity.

2:25 The inclusion of Rahab as one who was justified by faith is a powerful testimony to the truth that observance of the law of Moses is not a pre requisite for pleasing God. A powerful lesson for Jews.

Michael Parry comments:

James exhorts against favouritism in our assembly.  Brothers and sisters should be treated equally in love and respect.  Do we naturally gravitate towards some and find it difficult to deal with others?  Of course we do.  But let us remember the example of Jesus.  Although He was drawn affectionately to John (John 19:26; 21:20), He still treated His betrayer Judas with love (Matt 5:44).

A point about verse 19:  there exist no such supernatural entities as devils (or demons).  What are being alluded to here are people possessed with demons (mental disorders).
There were demoniac people who recognized God and the Lord Jesus  (Mark 5:1-13, 16:9, Luke 4:40,41, 8:2).

Having scriptural knowledge, understanding, and faith means nothing unless it is translated into Godly action.

V.8 James is the only one to use the phrase royal law.  Loving one’s neighbour is the second part of the greatest law (Matt 22:37-39).  The first part concerns the love for God who is King over all – hence James’s royal reference.

V.12 James also talks of the law of liberty. No longer is anyone judged under the Law of Moses.  But, the moral commandments under the Law are carried forward and form part of the Commandments of Jesus.  It is expected that believers follow these commandments willingly.  Believers will be judged on their adherence to these laws.

John Wilson comments:

V.18 James introduces a third person into his explanation of faith and how it works by love. The third person is able to give a practical demonstration of his faith. James’ humility would not permit him to set himself forth as an ideal representative of a living faith. “I will show thee my faith by my works”  A practical demonstration of a motivating force that is greater than the individual himself, by which “he overcame the world”  (1John 5:4).

2:25 With the example of Rahab; along with that of Abraham (V.21,23), we would suggest is used by James to show the universality of the principle of faith that he was writing of. Abraham was the Father of all the Jews; Rahab was a Gentile who was converted. She was weak and sinful, but triumphed by faith. Not unlike what Paul wrote Gal 3:28.

2:26 Faith without works is like a corpse; there is a body, the substance of which is undeniable, but it is a dead body, and unless the breath of life enters into that body, it remains inactive and ineffective. Unless faith issues forth in a practical demonstration of a way of life which is pleasing God, it is a corpse without life, and incapable of imparting it.

Roger Turner comments:

v 5 First Principles>Kingdom of God>Gospel concerns God’s Kingdom
The Gospel preached by Jesus and the Apostles concerns the Kingdom of God.
2. Invitation for men to participate
Matt 25:34, Luke 12:32, 1Thess 2:12, James 2:5, 2Tim 4:1,8, 2Pet 1:10,11, Rev 2:26,27
For more about the Gospel concerning God’s Kingdom go to Matt 4:23 

Valerie Mello comments:

James 2:17

“Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

The apostle Paul defines faith as, “… the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1). Faith may be further defined as having a confident belief, value, or trustworthiness of a person, which does not necessarily rest on logical proof or material evidence.

This kind of faith requires development, and if we are not prepared to spend time in developing it, we shall not obtain the kind of faith that pleases God. The more we consider God’s actions in the past, and see His prophecies vindicated in the present, the more we come to learn to value Him, trust Him, and put our faith in Him concerning events not yet fulfilled, but promised by God.

This is a true story about a captain commanding a passenger ship who was sailing from Liverpool, England to New York. His family was on board with him. One night when everyone was sound asleep, a squall unexpectedly swept over the waters and tossed the ship violently, awakening the passengers. They were all scared, and the captain’s frightened eight-year old daughter asked, “What’s the matter?” Her mother explained that a sudden storm struck the ship. “Is father on deck?”  “Yes, father is on deck,” answered the mother. On hearing this, the little girl snuggled back into bed, and in a few moments was sound asleep. The winds still blew and the waves still rolled, but her fears were calmed because her father was at the helm! Our Heavenly Father is always at the helm! It is this kind of faith the Father is looking for in His children, and despite outward appearances, without this kind of faith it is impossible to please Him (Heb 11:6).

Wes Booker comments:

James 2:12,13.

What are some practical lessons and exhortations that we should try and practice in our lives in connection with what James is stating here – especially the last part of v. 13 – “Mercy triumphs over judgment”?

In thinking about a practical application of what James is exhorting us here, it’s important to keep in mind that within the pages of the Bible there are a number of very positive references to the idea of judgment. Though we might tend to immediately think of Christ’s words – “Judge not that you be not judged” (Mat. 7:1), there are a number of times where the flip side of the concept is there in such words as “judge righteous judgment” (Jn. 7:24) and Paul’s words concerning the ongoing fornication in the Corinthian ecclesia – “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. Expel the wicked man from among you” ((1 Cor. 5:12,13).

In the example that James uses following up his statement about mercy triumphing over judgment (v. 13) – in James 2:14-17 he gives the example of a brother or sister without clothes and daily food and what should be done by the ecclesia in that situation. What he doesn’t state is the reason for them to be in such a destitute situation. Was it due to things beyond their control? Or did they do certain things that brought this dire condition on themselves? Were they able-bodied and in a position to seek employment and get themselves out of this situation without having to come to the ecclesia for help? Whatever their situation was, James states categorically that the attitude that wishes them well without providing for their physical needs is an example of faith without works being dead. So the #1 priority of the ecclesia is to provide help when they have it within their power to do so. And, of course, the same should be true for individual believers in Christ.

The person or ecclesia who has it within its power to help and chooses to not do so really needs to have a really good Scriptural reason for not helping. And if there’s ever a question as to the rightness of a course of action, then the weight should fall on the side of mercy. And so with the seesaw effect, mercy comes up as judgment goes down. I remember reading years ago in one of bro. Islip Collyer’s books – I can’t remember which one it was – what he had to say on this subject. And it was so powerful that it really stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing here –

When a tough-to-decide situation comes up ecclesially where both sides – the severe and the lenient (merciful) – both have positive things that can be said for deciding in that particular way, I, for one, will always choose the side of mercy for this one simple reason. I know that on that great day of judgment, I will need all the mercy my Lord can muster on my behalf. So how can I go the other way? If I’m going to err, it is going to be on the side of mercy.

Robert Prins comments:

Illogical Really

When James spoke about people showing faith through the things that they did, he gave two examples. One of them was Abraham as he was about to sacrifice Isaac, and the other was Rahab, as she hid the spies and sent them off in a different direction.

Neither of these actions were really common-sense logical. After all, if you had been promised that your son was to be your heir, and the door to a multitude of descendants, it would seem stupid to kill him! And in the case of Rahab, when approached by people who were planning to flatten her city, it doesn’t seem right to hide and protect them.

But, both Abraham and Rahab had their eyes on something bigger and better when they acted in faith. Abraham was so sure God’s promises would be fulfilled, that he obeyed anyway. And Rahab was so sure of God’s strength, and that God was good to those who were good to Israel, that she put her own life in peril from the authorities in Jericho to put her trust in God.

What faith opportunities do we have in our lives? What about the opportunities to let God take vengeance rather than ourselves? What about forgiving others and trusting God for the rest? Or giving money or possessions away when asked? Or speaking out about our faith in God at an appropriate time?

Faith is seen in what we do. Let’s make sure God sees it in our lives.

Rob de Jongh comments

The bird resting on the patio

From v14 to v26 James explains how faith without works is dead. It’s a difficult concept to grasp, so perhaps an analogy may help.

Last summer we were on holiday in a cottage that had large glazed patio doors leading to a patio outside where the children watched birds hopping around. One day we came back from a trip out and our little boy said,

“Mummy. Why isn’t that bird moving?”.

We suspected the bird had flown into the glass and either stunned or killed itself, but we didn’t tell the child.

“Maybe it’s resting”,

we said, while earnestly hoping that the bird was going to get up at any moment and fly away.

Here was a small child who knew nothing about death, yet he recognised from the inaction of the bird that something was wrong. Later in the day when the children were elsewhere we took the bird and buried it beneath some overgrown bushes in the garden. As grown ups we knew that if it didn’t move for a half hour, it was probably dead. It was still a bird — recognisable even by a child, but what good was that? So it is with us. Any or all of us may be called a believer, confessing that God is one (v19), but if there is no action based on faith, it’s likely that faith isn’t alive in us:

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26

But what can we do if we suspect this is so with us? The first step is to pray to God, confessing our lack of faith and asking for help. If we want to be alive, seek for it, and ask, we will have our faith revived, as promised in Luke 11:9-13.

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Preceding articles:

First man’s task still counting today

He who knows himself, is kind to others

Luther’s misunderstanding

January 27, 417, Pope Innocent I condemning Pelagius about Faith and Works

Our life depending on faith

Romans 4 and the Sacraments

Is Justification a process?

Letter to the Romans, chapter 3

Letter to the Romans, chapter 4

Additional comments to the 3rd Letter to the Romans

Additional comments to the Letter to the Romans 4

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Additional reading

  1. Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden 4
  2. The sin of partiality
  3. The Greatest of These is Love
  4. Faith Alone Does Not Save . . . No Matter How Many Times Protestants Say It Does
  5. A Living Faith #3 Faith put into action
  6. A Living Faith #6 Sacrifice

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Further related articles

  1. (01/07/2016) Salvation Only Through Christ?
  2. Partiality In The Church
  3. Christian Prejudice: Finding Answers to a Shameful Problem
  4. Human Rights Are Not “Common Sense” – They Are Christianity
  5. Is Jesus Partial? Colossians 3 verse 11
  6. “What is Christianity about?” by Michael and Susanne
  7. Today’s life is full of fakeness..
  8. The James Series: Surprisingly Equal
  9. 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, cycle B
  10. Micah 2: Soap in studying the Bible
  11. Favoritism Forbidden
  12. Are We Partial?
  13. Friendship and partiality
  14. My Journey to Racial Reconciliation
  15. Can Faith Save You? Sermon by Keith, 6.14.15, Pentecost 3
  16. How To Beat The Competition?
  17. Facing Our Prejudices
  18. James: Favoritism
  19. The Book of James Chapter 2:1-9,12-13 (NKJV)
  20. 2:9 – But if you show partiality, you commit sin
  21. 2:13. For judgement is without mercy to the one who has shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement.
  22. “Sunday Best”
  23. Partiality and The Law
  24. No Partiality
  25. What does the Bible say about partiality By…
  26. Mercy the missing piece
  27. Living Life Partially Impartial
  28. unjust justice
  29. How can you say God is not partial?
  30. Herrenhuter readings for Sunday, the 8th February 2015
  31. February 2 – Walking the Line
  32. Show No Favouritism. Show Mercy.
  33. Reflective Paragraphs Week 11 – James
  34. Losing Integrity Over Identity
  35. The imported and the favoured workers
  36. Playing Favourites in the Church. A Reflection on James 2:1-17
  37. Healing wilful deafness
  38. Daily Digest: Playing Favourites
  39. Disease favouritism
  40. Diminished
  41. Not Of This World
  42. How Important is Belief?
  43. Substance and Evidence
  44. Religious Literacy
  45. Bible-In-A-Year Day 33: Leviticus 16-18
  46. Death-Defying Faith.

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