Music, prayer, celebration. Sometimes even song and dance. These are common examples of what people view as worship. There are often many different ideas as to what worship is. Most people would agree, however, that worship is intended to exalt our Creator. In my experience, I have heard different people define worship differently, which is to be expected. But is man allowed to define worship? It’s not man’s definition that we Believers should be concerned about. Rather, we should be focused on how YHWH our Heavenly Father defines worship. After all, it is directed towards Him is it not?
What is food? A simple question, yet it has sparked debates time and time again within religious (usually Messianic) groups. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines food as: “1
A: material consisting essentially of protein, carbohydrate, and fat used in the body of an organism to sustain growth, repair, and vital processes and to furnish energy; also: such food together with supplementary substances (as minerals, vitamins, and condiments)
B: inorganic substances absorbed by plants in gaseous form or in water solution
2: nutriment in solid form
3: something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies <food for thought>”
But the question that a Believer should be asking is: how does the Bible define food?
I see, rather regularly, people associating the Aleph-Tav (את) with Messiah Yeshua. If you are already familiar with what I am talking about, you may want to skip the next paragraph. If you're not familiar, here is a brief explanation.
In the Hebrew Aleph-Bet (alphabet), the first letter is Aleph (א) and the last is Tav (ת). This letter combination is pronounced et, as in "et cetera." People take the statement from Revelation where Yeshua says He is the "Alpha and the Omega" and they say, "Well Yeshua didn't speak Greek, so what He actually said was 'I am the Aleph and the Tav' since those are the Hebrew/Aramaic letters." They then take note of the number of places the et symbol (word) is used, and state that this symbol is actually a placeholder, or some sort of "hidden code" for Yeshua. Their favorite verse is Genesis 1:1, where we read (in English), "In the beginning, Elohim created the heavens and the earth." However, they say, in Hebrew, the untranslated et actually appears between the words ha'shamayim (heavens) and ha'arets (earth). Thus, since this symbol is a stand-in for Yeshua, we see how Yeshua "connects" heaven and earth. Fascinating, right? Yet there are some issues.
The Sabbath is one of those areas that seems to be a little bit grey in Christendom. Some denominations keep the 7th Day Sabbath, while others say it was transferred to the 1st Day (in the writings of the early “church fathers” it is usually called the 8th Day instead of the 1st). Another denomination will say that the Sabbath is no longer kept at all, but rather “The Lord’s Day” (1st Day, Sunday) is to be kept instead. I am sure there are other beliefs as well, but we’ll primarily focus on these since they are the most common ones.
Those that are Torah-observant will know what I mean by the phrase “picking and choosing.” It’s a term that gets tossed at us a lot by those that either don’t understand, or by those that disagree. If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, I’ll offer a brief explanation. On many occasions, while explaining my beliefs to someone, they ask why I do what I do. I tell them that I keep the commands of The Father because I love Him (John 14:15) and that obedience is the way to express devotion. The whole duty of mankind is to Fear Elohim, and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
I realize that I have already presented the case for the wearing of tzitziyot. If you have not read the first part of More Tassel, Less Hassle, this writing will not make much sense. This writing will serve to point out just a couple of minor flaws in the current line of thinking within the Messianic / Hebrew Roots "movements" regarding some “rules” for wearing tzitziyot.
Should Believers today wear tzitziyot? If you are unfamiliar with the term, tzitzit (or tzitziyot, the plural form) are tassels or fringes. They are most commonly seen on Orthodox Jews. They are the long strings that hang off the corners of the tallit, or prayer shawl worn in synagogues. There is much debate amongst Jewish and Messianic scholars between how they should be worn, how they should be designed, where they should be worn and so forth. Many teach that since we live in the “new covenant era” that tzitzit, which are memory devices, are not necessary. They say that we have the commandments on our hearts, so we do not need physical reminders. I find this foolish, as Scripture NEVER says anything like that. Do Believers now not need to be reminded to keep the commandments? If Israel HEARD the voice of YHWH speaking some of the commandments, they SAW the pillar of fire and yet they still needed a reminder, then what makes us think we don’t need one too?
But tradition aside, let’s let Scripture give us our answer. First, the command itself. It comes from Numbers 15 and Deuteronomy 22.
The account in Luke 16 of Lazarus and the rich man has been quoted often within Christianity. Those that believe in an eternally-burning hell, where the unsaved person descends directly after death, state that this account is definitive proof of the existence of an ever-burning hellfire (see article Is ‘Hell’ Really Eternal? for my position on this). They believe this story to be a prophecy told by Yeshua to warn people of what would happen to the unsaved upon their death. Others, however, believe that it is, in fact, not a prophecy, but rather simply a parable. Still others believe that, although it is a parable, it is also intended to describe the eternal torment of hell. I suggest reading the account in Luke 16 prior to reading this article.
All too often we see doctrines created with little to no support or study poured into them. The age old declaration from the Protestant Reformation era of Sola Scriptura, or “by Scripture only” was the foundation of Protestantism. It denied any decree or doctrine not found directly within, or by logical deduction of Scripture. But what does Scripture itself say?
Acts chapter 15 is debated in many circles today. Protestant Christianity points to it as proof of the authority of the 12 Apostles to “change the rules.” Messianic Judaism (note: ‘Messianic Judaism’ is separate from the ‘Messianic’ belief for the purpose of this writing) uses Acts 15 as its “gentile flagship.” That is, that the four laws given to “gentiles” (lit. ‘nations’) in verse 20 (and repeated in verse 29) are the only ones required of the converts. These four laws are: to refrain from the “pollution” of idols (this is commonly viewed as being food sacrificed to idols), to refrain from eating anything strangled, to refrain from eating blood, and to refrain from whoring (sexual immorality).
Let’s explore these four laws a little further. Then we’ll consider the logic behind the decision of these four laws. Lastly, we’ll examine, in FULL context, the entire encounter of Acts 15.