Hebrew Roots: SA in Crisis6 Sep 2011 Download article in PDF format
A fundamental Shift in Church History
I see a crisis brewing in South Africa:
God is moving sovereignly in the world, and particularly in South Africa. In our day, we are witnessing a fundamental shift in Christendom – a shift which students of Christianity would, years from now, label as one of the most fundamental changes in Christendom in its entire history.
We are witnessing the end of an epoch which lasted almost 1600 years:
The final decades of the Institutional Church. As recently as 5 years ago, I was vehemently rebuked and rejected by several ministry leaders when I dared speak out on this phenomenon. Today, a mere 5 years later, it is widely accepted as fact.
What started years ago as a trickle, leaking from tiny cracks, has now become a raging torrent of new wine gushing from old, burst wineskins:
Members are leaving the institutional church in droves. During the last 25 years the largest denomination in SA has lost 25% of its members at ever increasing rates.
This phenomenon is not limited to SA. Worldwide, institutional church leaders are panic-stricken due to dwindling ranks. Centuries of running a business whilst playing church has caught up with the institution. The age of information and communication has opened the eyes of its membership. And they aren’t satisfied with hamster-milling their church systems any more. They simply leave.
This is an important question.
It hits you in the face like a wet newspaper as soon as you arrive home after huffing out of the institution for the last time.
Where to now?
Personally, I’ve had to deal with this question hundreds, maybe thousands of times. At present, I have to answer it almost every day – because so many people ask!
To cut a VERY LONG story VERY SHORT:
I personally believe the answer lies in House Churches, Home Groups, Small Groups, whatever you’d like to call them. My wife and I have been part of such a group for the past 5 years – by far our best church experience ever. We aren’t the leaders; we aren’t even elders. We are nothing. Hallelujah!
And ever since the Lord started to reveal his Master Plan to us in prayer with many other intercessors, we have been encouraging and teaching folks wherever we went to start such groups. And, praise Him, many such groups have started during the past 5 years. And even more are still in the process of doing so. And many thousands are still to come!
Witnessing this gives me a thrill beyond description, since we are witnessing a re-enactment of the Book of Acts. The Father is up to something BIG!
But this article is not about House Churches, Home Groups or Small Groups.
I want to zoom in on a phenomenon which I believe is part of the Father’s future strategy, but currently threatens to hijack or derail everything the Father is doing:
The rise of a number of related movements; some older, and some younger; some right-winged, some left-winged; some radical, some conservative.
Large percentages of those who leave their churches get entrapped into these:
A. Sabbatarianism, Messianism, Torah Groups, Hebrew Roots and Talmudism.
Each group overlaps with at least one other group, and forms part of an even more comprehensive spectrum of movements:
B. Israel Vision, Anglo(British) Israelism, Sabbatarianism, Messianism, Torah Groups, Hebrew Roots, Talmudism, Numerology and Witchcraft, Freemasonry and Cabbala.
All have one thing in common: Study of the Torah.
I would restrict myself to the groups mentioned in A.
Wherever I travel in SA, I often meet up with adherents of these movements. They are usually very nice people from whom I learn much. I love their insights and true craving for more. I’ve talked to them, laughed with them, lived with them, dined with them and worshipped with them. Some of them count amongst my best friends and most loyal supporters.
Smelling a Rat
But I smell a rat amongst these movements. Not one rat, but several.
This is serious.
By the Spirit of the Father I believe the spiritual future of this country is at stake.
I believe that, whatever we would decide to do with these rats will prove to be decisive concerning the future increase of The Kingdom in South Africa.
If the people who have left the institution flock into the minefields and drift sands of these movements, the Kingdom in SA might soon find itself hopelessly stuck.
A brand new old Prison!
The Scriptures say it is stupid to pour new wine into old wineskins. You lose the wine, as well as the skins.
Scripture also deems it stupid to sew a new patch onto an old garment. The patch rips the garment apart, and you lose both.
It is also stupid to escape from one prison, just to walk straight into the next one across the road. It might look promisingly different and more homely, but it’s still a prison. You’re still an inmate with no freedom.
I believe many who have escaped from the prison of the institutional church have walked straight into a different kind of prison. Few have paid attention to the clanging of the steel doors as they locked behind them.
If you’ve spent your entire institutional church life in dark, murky dungeons of passivity and nothingness, some healthy exercise feels good for the first couple of days. Until you realize you’re actually serving a sentence of Hard Labour.
Previous mistakes concerning the Torah,
and its restoration.
Is the Torah really obsolete?
Reformed, Calvinist theology deems the Torah obsolete (the Torah being the first five books of the OT, or Pentateuch:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers – the books traditionally believed to have been written by Moses).
In our Bibles, “Torah” is often translated with “law” – although “instruction” would be more accurate.
A verse often quoted by adherents of this theology is:
Christ is the end of the law … Rom. 10:4
often without giving any thought to the origin of the word “end”. For them, this verse then epitomises the doctrine which says that Christ had terminated the law. According to this doctrine, we currently don’t live under the law any more, but rather under grace (John 1:17; Rom. 6:14).
Moreover, standard theology correctly concludes that we are saved by faith alone, through grace – and not by keeping the Torah.
These doctrines resulted in an almost complete abolition of the Torah in the Institutional Church. One would seldom hear any sermon on any aspect of the Torah. Sermons would mostly be based on the New Testament.
(Theologians somehow forgot that Torah actually means “instruction”. We all agree that the Torah cannot save us – but it can disciple us! In the OT, the Torah actually, over the course of 400 years, discipled a homeless, foodless, waterless, rebellious mob with a slave mentality on the shores of the Reed Sea into the greatest nation on the face of the earth in the time of Solomon!)
In the process, the NT became conceptually dislodged from the OT – which resulted in seriously warped proclamations from modern-day theologians.
The word “end” in Christ is the end of the law … is the Greek word telos, which could also mean “the end to which all things relate, the aim, purpose”. Which would mean that Christ never terminated the Torah, but that the entire Torah actually foreshadows Him!
Also Messiah Himself proclaimed that the Father never sent Him to abolish the law, but rather to fulfill it – Mat. 5:17. Which means that Messiah does not (like the institutional church usually does) put an equal sign between fulfillment and abolition.
These and many other scriptures have led some believers to reconsider the OT, and especially the Torah.
And as they started to study it, they found that they actually started to understand the NT better! Actually, they realized that the NT could not be properly understood without a thorough understanding of the Torah!
The New Testament flows forth from the Torah! The NT is made up of the ingredients of the Torah! The NT is the fulfillment of the Torah!
If the NT were to represent addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, then the Torah would represent the whole numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, … etc.
If the NT were to represent chemical compounds, then the Torah would represent the elements Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, … etc.
If the NT were to represent dancing, then the Torah would represent Newton’s three laws of motion in Classical Mechanics.
In Theology, this concept is embedded in the term: Foreshadowing.
So believers realized that the Torah is all but obsolete. That it is all but terminated. They discovered that the talit and tabernacle foreshadowed the Temple of Solomon, which in turn foreshadowed the bodies of believers as temples of the Holy Spirit. They discovered that the Biblical feasts foreshadowed the coming of the Messiah, and seemingly the End Time and heavenly orders.
Some started to learn Hebrew, and were amazed by the hieroglyphic and numerical attributes of this ancient language, and how they seem to tie in with Scripture. And many, many, many more things.
One could say that the very roots of our faith were rediscovered, after they’d been forgotten for many hundreds of years. Hence the term: Hebrew Roots.
Corrupting the Corruptible
But then, as is the way of all flesh, some began to corrupt these rediscoveries for their own personal interest or sin:
Those who needed to cover up their own racist hearts with good-sounding doctrine invented Israel Vision and British Israelism.
Those who lusted after money and power went into Freemasonry.
Those who fell prey to false prophecies embraced Sabbatarianism/Adventism.
And those who had theological idols in their hearts fell prey to Talmudism.
And, alas, in the middle of the spectrum, many kind-hearted, sincere believers got ensnared by the traps of Messianism, Torah groups and Hebrew Roots.
Let me make it abundantly clear:
As far as I know, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with these last three.
Similarly, there is nothing wrong with Christianity. But one encounters horribly deceived Christians. They aren’t deceived because they are bad. They are deceived because they take bad decisions.
Even so, one encounters horribly deceived Messianics, Torah groups and Hebrew Rooters. They take bad decisions.
Hebrew Roots and Torah study is a minefield (Almost without exception, the learned rabbi’s, Sadducees and Pharisees of the time of Messiah fell into its traps, remember?) And if new, freshly out-of-church disciples aren’t equipped to discern which Torah teachers are wolves in sheep’s clothing (which equipping very few churches, if any, do), they are usually mightily impressed with their new “knowledge” and accepts any teaching straight or skew. Hence these groups, over time, often grow terribly twisted.
This article will explore WHY they grow skew.
Can we talk?
Dear friends and fellow-believers, I am painfully aware of the fact that, during the course of this article series, I’m going to upset, and might even alienate some (if I haven’t done so already!).
But I cannot keep quiet. For the sake of the Kingdom we’ll have to start talking about the unspeakable. We cannot allow our petty preferences and pet doctrines to stand in the way of the Kingdom.
The current-day study of the Torah has rediscovered an amazing set of truths – truths which I believe will help the Body of Believers greatly in times to come.
But just as important is the fact that we need to start drawing boundaries and set parameters so that the whole “Torah business” does not spin out of control. Personally, I see urgent red lights flashing in this regard.
The Father is doing a stunning thing in our day. But as His free-willed representatives and as co-workers with Messiah, we have the ability to sabotage everything, just like Israel and Judah, by their own rebellion, sabotaged the Father’s dream for them – resulting in terrible exiles.
This won’t stop the Father, though. Only WE will suffer – in the long run His plans shall prevail.
According to Messiah’s own words, His gospel is the gospel of the Kingdom – not the gospel of the Torah.
We may never slaughter the Kingdom on the altar of the Torah. If so, we would slaughter Messiah all over again. And, alas, this is what is currently happening. The aim of the Torah is Messiah – and He was sent to earth to establish his Father’s Kingdom. If we forget the Kingdom, then we forget Messiah. And if we forget Messiah, ironically,
we forget the Torah.
Some will surely accuse me of any combination of the usual battery of evils deployed to discredit any critic of anything remotely Jewish:
Anti-Semitism, Nazism, Replacement Theology, Arab-hugging, ignorance, Greek mindset, Calvinism, etc.
Those who know me, would be happy to testify that I embrace none of these. In fact, I teach against these in much of what is freely available as downloads on our website www.trumpetcall.co.za.
So please, before you draw the long knives, be sure of what I really teach.
Rather, I would like to invite all to take the journey together, and allow the Ruach to speak truth to us in our inner man. Whatever might not represent truth, we might happily discard, but the Scriptures command us to LOVE whatever represents truth. It also warns us that if we would refuse to love the truth, and prefer to side with lies, we
would be handed over to its power, so we would believe it, be deceived, and not be saved.
When a person is deceived
he doesn’t realize he’s deceived
because he’s deceived.
Zorba, dear Zorba …
Reformed Theology vs Torah Study
In our day, we see two currents opposing one another:
1. Reformed Theology declares the Torah obsolete – because such a declaration suits this theology system.
Thus, Reformed Theology does not read its WHOLE Bible – and becomes deceived.
The classic example of this phenomenon is the erroneous view that the Messiah rose from the grave on the first day of the week. This results from dire Torah-knowledge.
2. Similarly, Torah groups often fabricate reasons to explain away some parts of the New Testament – because it suits their viewpoint to do so. Hence, you often find stiff resistance against especially the book of Galatians, or even the apostle Paul and all of his writings. Thus, some Torah groups don’t read their WHOLE Bibles either – and become deceived.
The classic example of this phenomenon is the literal (letter) obedience of the Torah – as if we never entered into a covenant of the Spirit. And if the Torah loses sight of the Spirit, it loses sight of its own reason for existence.
We thus see that Torah groups often commit the same evil, and become taken by the same spirit that they have originally set out to oppose. And every time, this results in deception.
Dishonesty concerning the Greek Issue.
Torah groups are also often guilty of grave inconsistencies (or you could simply call it dishonesty) in their views:
1. The Greek/Hebrew mindsets:
In Hebrew Roots teaching much is made of the fact that the Hebrew mindset is holistic and synthetical, whereas the Greek mindset is analytical.
These two mindsets represent two different ways of thinking. Hebrew Roots then rightly teaches that the Scriptures should be read with a Hebrew mindset, and not with a Greek mindset.
But more often than not in Hebrew Roots teaching, the Greek mindset gets hammered and slaughtered. Almost every evil of Western society is then deemed to be the fruit of a Greek/Hellenistic mindset. Finally, Greek thinking gets dumped into the “sin bin” - to serve a life sentence of solitary confinement.
Strangely, it never seems to occur to these teachers that the Father, in his Wisdom, had thought it a good idea to make his Son known to mankind in GREEK – for at least the first 2000 years of Christianity. Greek is the best we’ve had for source documents all these millennia.
And if challenged by this fact, Torah teachers are quick to respond that good reasons exist to believe that at least some of the gospels were originally written in Hebrew – not Greek.
This is true.
But WHERE are those gospels? Why hasn’t anybody ever come forward with them? Yes, some fragmentary parts lie in libraries somewhere. And yes, some claim to have found originals in Iraq in 2002. But where are those Iraqi originals? Nobody other than the claimants seem to have ever seen them – an excellent strategy to fabricate one’s own “Bible”.
The fact is, nobody can – or could. At least not in our present day.
Which still leaves us with the fact that the Father had decided that we should know his Son via GREEK – for at least the first 2000 years of Christianity.
Has the Father made a mistake? Has He imposed onto us an evil, pagan mindset through this language? Would we have known the Messiah better via Hebrew? – then the Father is certainly in error! Should we still wait for those manuscripts to finally arrive?
Clay pot, who are you to ask the potter “What are you doing?” You are only revealing your prideful heart!
When asked whether they regarded Greek as a God-given language, some Hebrew Roots teachers in SA arrogantly wrote “No”. Do we need any additional proof of grave deception?
If it weren’t for Greek, those teachers wouldn’t even have known their Redeemer! Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. And God had sovereignly decided that his Word about his Son, in our day, should come to us in Greek.
2. The Greek mindset and technology:
Also, Hebrew Rooters are dishonest about yet another phenomenon concerning Greek:
The analytical nature of the Greek mindset has brought many, many useful fruits to the modern Western world – of which science and technology are paramount.
Whilst Hebrew Rooters condemn the Greek mindset to eternal flames, they happily use technology every day, not realizing that they are actually engaging with the fruits of this “evil” mindset!
Cluelessly and audaciously, they even employ technology to spread their condemnation of the Greek mindset!
Hebrew Rooter, I’m afraid you’ve painted yourself into a corner:
To maintain your integrity and credibility, you either need to stop all use of technology, or drop your bias against the Greek language. You cannot have your cake AND eat it!
The choice is yours.
How much value does the religious keeping of the Torah have if you throw the Father’s gift (Greek) back into His face, and live a dishonest, lying life concerning technology?
The Sons of Zion vs the Sons of Greece.
A long-time favourite of Greek condemnation amongst Torah teachers is this verse:
I will rouse your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and make you like a warrior’s sword. – Zech. 9:13.
Some Torah teachers go to great lengths to make this verse mean that war should be declared on the Greek language and mindset. Is that REALLY the intended message this verse?
Repentance and Apologies.
Dear Hebrew Rooter and Torah student:
If you have swallowed this bait of Satan concerning the Greek language, and are guilty of slapping the Father’s gift back into His face, you need to make some serious repentance. Teachers of this lie should make public repentance, apologize to and ask forgiveness from those they have deceived.
That’s the easy part. He is quick to forgive.
The difficult part will be to reset your thinking to “default factory settings” – in other words, the way they were BEFORE you started to believe this lie. Only by the power of the Spirit this will be possible – and will take some time.
But for the sake of the Kingdom, it is well worth the effort!
To all the idols I’ve loved before …
The Hebrew Language is neither original, nor holy.
In Torah classes, one often hears the claim:
“Hebrew was the original language given to man by God.”
Sometimes you might even pick up hints that Hebrew is some or other “holy” (sorry, sorry, … ) “set apart” language, since the OT or Tanakh was recorded thus.
This, notwithstanding the fact that there is absolutely NO indication, not even the slightest hint in the entire Scriptures that the Hebrew language should be regarded as better or in any way superior to any other language.
These claims of Torah and Hebrew Roots teachers are simply not true.
There are neither Biblical, nor historical grounds for this claim.
Here’s what we know today:
In the Middle East, until about 3500 – 3000 BCE, a language, which scholars call Proto-Semitic, was spoken. At about that time, the Acadian (Babylonian) branch of the Semitic languages split off the mainstream, and left West Semitic to remain. Prior to 2000 BCE, West Semitic divided into South Semitic (whose major descendants are Arabic and the Semitic languages of Ethiopia) and Northwest Semitic (including Aramaic and the Canaanite languages – of which Biblical Hebrew is one).
We thus see that Biblical Hebrew, Akkadian, Arabic and Canaanite languages all share the same root: Proto-Semitic.
So, shall we all, for the record, please take note of the fact that Biblical Hebrew as a language is neither original, nor “holy”.
The serious part about the above-mentioned is this:
Attribution of unique, godly traits to any esteemed, but undeserving concept is a rather reliable indicator of idolatry.
In the said movements, Hebrew as a language gets raised to a level which it does not deserve. A position which is based in lies and utter nonsense.
Over many years, I have attended many Messianic, Torah or Hebrew Roots groups who have fallen into this trap. Idolatry is sin, and needs to be repented of.
The Hebrew Alefbet and its human additions.
In the said movements, one often encounters teachings concerning the numerical and/or hieroglyphic/pictogrammatic nature of the Hebrew language. A long-time favourite example is the first Hebrew word in Gen. 1:1. reshiyth.
The teaching goes that every Hebrew letter has a picture associate – its so-called “pictogram”. Also, that every Hebrew letter possesses an associated numerical value.
The “man’s head”-pictogram, for instance, is then connected to the Hebrew letter reish, the “ox-head” pictogram to the Hebrew letter alef, etc.
Then, to each pictogram, a concept gets connected, e.g. the concepts “first, top or beginning” are associated with the man’s head, and “strength, power or leader” to the ox head, etc.
Also, numerical values are attributed to each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, by means of which premeditated calculations are then made (called gematria). Only those premeditated, selective calculations are chosen which would reinforce the teaching aim of the teacher. Other valid permutations or manipulations are simply omitted and never mentioned.
The pictograms and their associated concepts, the numerical values and their selective calculations are then hashed into a teaching – e.g. to demonstrate how the very first Hebrew word of the Torah, reshiyth, actually tells the entire story of the Bible.
On hearing this, the audience usually rejoices and says: “How wonderful!” (the most sensible response possible to most of these teachings).
The Origins of
Numerical Values (Gematria)
The question is:
Where do we get these pictograms, associated concepts and numerical values from?
Here are the facts:
Nowhere in the world any known, original example of pictogrammatic Hebrew writing exists. Nowhere. Anywhere.
The oldest discovered Hebrew texts in the world have been written in paleo-Hebrew. Not even scholars are exactly sure how these should be read: Left-to-right, right-to-left or diagonally. And paleo-Hebrew is syllabic by nature (i.e. the letters represent sounds, not concepts – like pictograms).
Paleo-Hebrew, in which our oldest existing examples of Hebrew text are written, represents most probably (nobody is 100% sure!) a later development of original pictogrammatic text (of which we don’t have any examples left today – if they ever existed!).
1. From paleo-Hebrew, scholars can “reverse engineer” the original pictograms by comparing paleo-Hebrew characters to other alphabets of the time, such as Egyptian hieroglyphs, paleo-Aramaic or even Middle Greek. But “reverse engineering” is a rather speculative process.
2. Also, the concepts associated with these pictograms have been “reverse engineered” by attributing the syllabic value of a specific letter to a concept (in Hebrew) starting with that particular sound. This, also, comprises a rather speculative process – not much more than a guessing game.
3. The associated numerical values of Hebrew letters stem from tradition. But nobody seems to be sure when this started, or exactly who did it first. Or why this person(s) chose the existing accepted values for each Hebrew character. What we are sure about, is that they are extra-Biblical. Nowhere in the Torah are we ever commanded or advised to attribute numerical values to the Hebrew alphabet (or rather alefbet).
So what is the sum total of all of this?
Well, the pictograms are, at best, speculative – i.e. guesswork.
The associated concepts are also speculative – i.e. guesswork building on top of previous guesswork.
And, as we all know, speculation usually boils down to 95% hogwash.
Which means that – to give these teachers the benefit of the doubt – at least 80% of the pictogrammatic and numeric teaching in Messianic, Torah groups or Hebrew Roots is based in guesswork. Or, to call a spade a spade – it’s 80% hogwash. It’s rather like “Hebrew astrology” or “Hebrew horoscopes”. And, ominously, it constitutes the first wobbly steps towards full-blown Cabbalism (or Jewish mysticism) – the deepest form of occult I am personally aware of.
With speculative pictograms and associated doubly speculative concepts, one can fabricate a whole saga for every Hebrew word. Pour the numbers and numerology into the mix, and one can almost create anything out of everything! The very same method, although with different elements, is what astrologers employ when drawing up horoscopes.
Do you really want to buy into that?
So next time you respond to these teachings, rather say: “How wonderful! – speculatively!”
Folks, we are bringing dishonour to the Godhead by “praising” Him for things that are based in speculation. It’s a bit like somebody who would heartily congratulate you with what he sincerely believes is your 500th birthday!
Wouldn’t you think he’s rather silly and wonder whether he’s pulling your leg or something? Wouldn’t that leave you somewhat embarrassed?
When one has only 54 parshahs to teach on annually, then pictograms, associated concepts and numbers come in handy to add some spice to what has become rather dull and stale after several decades of teaching. These pictograms, associated concepts and numbers could keep one busy for a looooong, looooong time – with every “How wonderful” taking you one small step of agreement closer to full-blown Cabbalism.
Speaking of parshahs:
The Tanakh (or OT) was divided into 54 readings, most probably during the time of Ezra or Nehemiah, when the children of Israel returned to their country from exile. The leaders of that time were painfully aware of the fact that the nation had been carried off into exile for 70 years because of their disobedience to the Torah. So they devised a system according to which no 3 days would pass without Torah reading – hence the 54 parshahs or “readings”. Each parshah would then correspond to a certain time of the year and would be read during that particular time.
But, as any good Christian would know, the parshah system is simply human – much like the human chapter-and-verse divisions in the Bible. One shouldn’t do numerological calculations with them or use them as a basis for prophecy.
But, unbelievably, on a recent tour through Israel, our well known, seriously Hebrew Roots tour leader advised our entire group of about 30 men to establish the specific parshah which would correspond to their date of birth (does this sound somewhat horoscopey?). He taught that one’s personal destiny is locked up in that particular part of Scripture, after which he ceremoniously prophesied on Mount Carmel(!) over each tour member individually – according to their “personal” parshahs.
And because nobody has ever warned them about the serious errors amongst Hebrew Roots teachers, only about 5 of the 30 men refused this “ministry” (of whom I was one). I felt particularly sorry for a certain guy whose parshah was the chapter in Leviticus 13 on MILDEW and MOULD. Sadly, and amusingly, his destiny seems to be locked up in MOULD!
This is just one example of the utter baloney that gets taught, and witchcraft that gets performed by Hebrew Roots teachers in the name of Torah.
A pure Language?
A popular argument in favour of the use of Hebrew is Zeph.3:9:
“For then I will return to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord.”
For reasons unbeknownst to outsiders, Torah and Hebrew Roots groups unanimously conclude that this “pure language” can be but one language: Hebrew.
The verse above was originally recorded in Hebrew, right?
Why then does it use the indefinite article “a” in stead of the definite article “the”?
Why doesn’t it say “the pure language”, but calls it “a pure language”?
Was Hebrew a known language at the time of the recording of this verse? Certainly – the verse was recorded in Hebrew! Why then call Hebrew “a” pure language – as if it didn’t yet exist? If Hebrew was known as “the pure language” – then why not call it such?
At this point, let’s make this abundantly clear:
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Hebrew studies or the Hebrew language as such.
But I hope that I’ve been successful in demonstrating how, among specific theological mindsets, the Hebrew language has become an idol to which undeserved, almost divine properties have been ascribed. And this leads to idolatry, occultism and witchcraft.
Unfortunately, folks, there’s much, much more to come …
Let the Feasts begin!
One of the most meritorious restorations the Hebrew Roots Movement has brought us is the restoration of the Biblical Feasts.
Personally, I believe today’s Christians are so caught up in worldly, pagan-rooted feasts (Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s day, Halloween, Mother’s and Father’s day, birthdays, etc) that Christians at large are “dancing” to the annual “beat” of these feasts, in stead of dancing to the annual “beat” of the feasts of our Creator (the feast of trumpets, the feast of tabernacles, etc). I believe our current “off-beat dancing” detrimentally affects our godly times and seasons, and sowing and reaping.
But even with solid, Biblical ground beneath their feet, Hebrew Roots and Torah teachers have succeeded in messing up, and perverting even this concept.
The Father’s feasts, as opposed to Jewish feasts:
Amongst traditional Calvinist Christians in South Africa one often encounters stiff resistance against the celebration of “Jewish” feasts. This opposition finds its roots in Reformed Theology, as well as SA history.
In their response, Hebrew Roots and Torah teachers make much of the fact that the Biblical feasts are not JEWISH feasts, but YAHWEH’s feasts.
In saying this, they are 100% correct, because this is exactly how Scripture puts it. The Father explicitly commanded the nation of Israel to keep these feasts.
But EVERY time in Hebrew Roots and Torah groups, without exception, the practical celebrations of these feasts are taught containing comprehensive, elaborate – but extra-Biblical – JEWISH cultural and traditional content! The practical expression of the Biblical feasts amongst Torah and Hebrew Roots groups are unequivocally JEWISH in terms of objects used, food eaten, cultural expression, language spoken, garments worn, symbolism expressed and tradition reinforced.
The dire Effects of extra-Biblical Ritualism
If the problem would only be their Jewishness, the effects of these celebrations would have been much less severe. But this is not the case.
These celebrations overstep the spiritual boundary towards Judaism, and hence open spiritual doors to the spirits behind Judaism. Evil spirits.
Since very few denominational church leaders possess or teach any understanding concerning the spiritual realm, most naïve, nominal, freshly out-of-church Christians simply don’t realize that any ritualistic religion performed outside of Biblical boundaries attract spirits. Therefore, they easily get caught up in these celebrations. Moreover,
very few Torah teachers seem to be aware of this basic principle, and happily and irresponsibly teach their unsuspecting victims to apply every imaginable Jewish and Judaic bell and whistle to what they dishonestly call “Yahweh’s feasts”.
Judaism imprinted onto Biblical Feasts
I’ve heard numerous teachings on the various Biblical feasts. The extra-Biblical Jewish symbolism used during these feasts gets expounded by Hebrew Roots and Torah teachers to the extent that you’d think it forms part of man’s salvation! The most extreme one I’d recently encountered was that the wooden spoon used to mix a certain batter (for feast purposes) foreshadows the wooden cross of Messiah! – which would mean that if the poor lady mixing the batter would use a metallic or plastic spoon to do
so, she would seriously mess up the symbolism! Some of these teachings are so far-fetched that one can hardly believe that reasonable people would embrace anything such.
So please, Hebrew Roots and Torah teachers, can we please get this straight:
You teach the feasts of the Father, but then celebrate them in unequivocal JEWISH fashion.
If so – I’m afraid – they ARE Jewish feasts - bordering on Judaism!
Could you please, for honesty’s sake, admit this in your teachings?
Example: Where in Scripture are we ever commanded to light candles at the start of Shabbat?
It’s simply not there, folks! It’s Jewish and Judaic tradition!
According to the Torah, Shabbat starts at dusk on Friday evening. And please forgive my ignorance, but I think the Jewish wives simply lit lamps when the sun set to drive away the darkness prior to the days of Eskom! It was simply a way of preventing Shabbat celebrations from proceeding in darkness! It has absolutely nothing to do with Shabbat as such.
But today the lighting of the Shabbat candles has become a solemn, seriously symbolical ritual, accompanied by the following religious (Hebrew!) prayer:
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam
asher kidishanu b’mitz’votav v’tzivanu
l’had’lik neir shel Shabbat. (Amein)
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe
who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us
to light the lights of Shabbat. (Amen)
This prayer attests of grave deception. But it sounds immensely impressive when your hearers have never considered whether it is Scriptural, and blankly don’t understand a word of it.
Keep Biblical Feasts Biblical!
In order to recognize its roots, a leaf doesn’t have to BECOME a root.
It needs not go underground, dig through rocks and dirt, drink root beer or speak Rootish. No, it may remain a leaf, rustle in the wind, drink leaf sap and speak Leafish.
In their blind rush to restore Hebrew and Jewish customs, it seems to have escaped the attention of these teachers that the Father explicitly recognizes the existence and diversity of nations, tribes and tongues (because He created them all!).
The Father understands Afrikaans and English quite well. He doesn’t answer prayers because they are in Hebrew. Rather, He answers prayers because they represent His will, are in the name of Messiah and come from a humble heart of faith.
Ritual prayer – outside of the Father’s will – is witchcraft. I’m afraid this is exactly what some sincerely mislead Shabbat celebrators do every week. This needs to be repented of.
Feasts celebrated the Jewish way are Jewish feasts.
The Father’s feasts are the Father’s feasts. What He wants us to do when celebrating those feasts, He has told us in the Torah. Whatever is NOT in the Torah, needn’t be celebrated the Jewish way. We may colour and clothe that in whichever way we, by the Spirit of the Father, deem practical, sensible, proper or applicable in our many different cultures around the world. And I honestly believe the Father just loves to see his children expressing Him in SO MANY different ways!
Let some Feasts stop!
Today we’ll be dealing with yet more dishonesty among some Hebrew Roots teachers:
What is worst: Pagan feasts or extra-Biblical Jewish feasts?
Hebrew Roots teachers are adept at pointing out exactly why the accepted and annually celebrated feasts in society and the church have pagan roots, are extra-Biblical and aren’t mentioned in Torah. Amongst these would count feasts like Christmas, Easter, Lent, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day and birthdays.
And, of course, these teachers are perfectly right.
But then some of these teachers teach their flocks to celebrate Purim. Or Chanukah.
1. Purim is a Jewish feast celebrated in remembrance of the miraculous rescue ofthe children of Israel from the hand of Haman in the Persian empire, through the intercession of Queen Esther or Hadassah.
The Father never commanded this feast. And although any right-minded Christian would wholly grant the Jewish people their right to have such a historical, cultural feast, it does not form part of the Torah. Israel was never commanded to celebrate this historical event – much less were Gentiles ever commanded to do so!
2. Chanukah – also known as the Festival of Lights – is an eight-day Jewish Feast commemorating the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt in the 2nd century BCE.
And although this event is positioned right in the centre of the “silent” period of 400 years between the OT and NT (and is thus not even mentioned in the Bible), some Hebrew Roots and Torah teachers teach their flocks to celebrate Chanukah!
Once again, no one in his right mind would deny the Jewish people their right to commemorate such an important historical and cultural Jewish event. But Israel was never commanded to do so by the Father – in fact, the event does not even appear in Scripture! And much less were Gentiles ever commanded to do so!
3. Let’s now talk about fulfilled Torah:
Pesach is a feast of the Father mandated by Scripture in the Torah. This was instituted by the Father to remind the children of Israel of their exodus from Egypt, and the blood of the lamb that saved them from the Angel of Death. This, clearly and simply, foreshadows man’s journey from sin and the blood of Messiah which saves him from death.
Any good teacher of the Torah would be adept at pointing out how Messiah complied with literally EVERY condition of the Torah to qualify as the sacrificial lamb – during the very time of Pesach in Jerusalem.
And on the very night of Pesach, He gathered with his disciples in the upper room, and instituted the Covenantal Meal (Holy Communion) with the symbols of bread and wine. He did this – clearly signifying that He, the Lamb of the Father, would fulfill every detail of the Pesach feast. By proclaiming the bread and the wine to be the symbols of the New Covenant (referring to Jer. 31), He makes it unambiguously clear that He wants His disciples to stop celebrating Pesach (since it is fulfilled and thus stops to foreshadow), and to start celebrating the Covenantal Meal in future – as often as they would remember Him, looking back to this event.
But many Torah and Hebrew Roots groups happily carry on celebrating Pesach, and neglecting Communion – thereby “backshadowing” the death of Messiah! The problem is: “Backshadowing” does not make any sense! One only values a shadow when one cannot yet see the reality. But once one knows the reality, the shadow represents poverty.The excuse that these groups “remember” the death of Messiah by celebrating Pesach is also not valid – because Messiah explicitly commanded us to employ Communion for that purpose. So the only sensible “remembrance” could be the remembrance of the lamb of Pesach – the shadow, which represents poverty in the light of the arrived and existing reality. By celebrating Pesach in “remembrance” one actually displays one’s own poverty or ignorance!
But Torah teachers don’t give up without a fight: They find some or other “new” eschatological foreshadowing purpose for Pesach – and teach their flocks to celebrate that – accompanied by every imaginable Jewish bell and whistle. But it never seems to occur to these teachers that finding a “new” eschatological purpose for Pesach constitutes disobedience to Torah – because that would mean adding to Torah. The Torah simply never says anything about an eschatological purpose for Pesach, and to make Pesach foreshadow something other than what Torah prescribes, means adding to Torah.
So could we please, for the record, once and for all, bury Pesach? And cease to display its mummy – long dead, but somehow lovingly embalmed – to the world? It brings glory neither to the Father, nor the Son or the Ruach. It actually denies the fulfillment on Calvary, and – as a prophetic act – pulls a spiritual veil across people’s hearts concerning this fact.
Even to this day, when Moses is read – a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. – 2 Cor. 3:15 - 17.
For personal reflection:
What about other fulfilled Biblical feasts?
What about Good Friday?
What’s in a Name?
In their unbridled effort to “restore” the so-called “Sacred Names” of the Father, the Son and their Spirit, Torah teachers have, sadly, done more evil than good.
Several popular writings have circulated in SA during the past two decades, pointing out how the names of the Godhead have been changed in Scripture. Among these, two specific books are paramount: Come out of her, my people by CJ Koster, and Fossilized Customs by Lew White. Mixing truth with half-truths, and omitting relevant information, these two books have caused havoc in many a Christian’s life. And, because both propagate the use of the original, Hebrew names of the Godhead, these teachers (Torah, Hebrew Roots and especially Israel vision and British Israelism) have embraced these books and distributed them far and wide – another act of service to, and worship of the Hebrew language idol.
In their books, Koster and White, with varying degrees of credibility, set out to prove that virtually ALL the names and titles used among current-day Christians to indicate the Godhead and its three distinguishable Persons or Aspects, are of pagan origin. Among their victims are the terms: God, Lord, Jesus, Christ, holy, hallow, sacred, sanctified, glory, divine, divinity, etc.
Because of this, two discernable teachings have resulted amongst Torah and Hebrew Roots teachers concerning the name “Jesus”:
1. The name “Jesus” is of pagan origin, is intrinsically Greek, and should thus be avoided.
2. The name “Jesus” is of pagan origin, and actually indicates a pagan god. It should never be used in discussion or prayer. Other people who claim to be Christians but use the name “Jesus”, are actually deceived followers of some foreign god. Fellowship with them should be avoided, or even be forbidden.
Ironically and amusingly, the Aramaic version (“Yeshua”) of the original paleo-Hebrew name (Yahushua) seems to be acceptable to all these groups. According to scholars, this was in all probability the customary form during the time of the gospels. In other words:
Messiah’s mother most probably called Him by the un-Hebrew, yet Semitic name “Yeshua”.
Like most other writings on this topic, Koster and White quote resources from far and wide. They attempt to demonstrate how different parts of the name “Jesus” – or the entire original Greek form “Iesous” – hail from various pagan origins, and correspond to the names of pagan gods or goddesses like Ieso, Isis, Zeus, etc. But implicitly both authors admit to mere speculation – although they never directly point their readers towards this fact. White even concludes that “Je-sus” would actually mean “hail Zeus”!
Ironically, these learned men seem to be either unaware of, or bluntly ignoring the most obvious derivation of the name “Jesus”:
The most obvious Derivation of the Name “Jesus”.
Let us say this right at the start of this explanation:
It would not make ANY sense to a Greek person to call our Saviour “Yeshua”. (The gospels were recorded in Greek, remember?).
1. Firstly, there is no “Ye”-sound in Greek. Therefore, if a Greek-speaking person would attempt to pronounce “Yeshua”, he simply would not be able to do so.
It’s a bit like an Afrikaans person trying to pronounce the English surname “Smith” without prior practice. There’s no “th”-sound in Afrikaans, so an Afrikaans person would probably choose the closest sound to “th” that he knows, and pronounce it as “Smif”.
Similarly, an English speaking person, without prior practice, would pronounce the Afrikaans name “Gert” as “Ghert”, since the fricative “G”-sound doesn’t occur in English.
And since the “Ye”-sound does not exist in Greek, a Greek speaking person would typically pronounce “Yeshua” as “Ieshua” – which represents the closest corresponding sounds in the Greek vernacular.
2. But this is not the end of Greek problems with the Aramaic form “Yeshua.”
In Greek, any name ending in “-a” would represent a feminine. Compare the names of the well-known Greek goddesses Athen-a, Her-a, Proserpin-a, Europ-a, Helen-a, Atalant-a, etc.
Therefore, calling the Messiah “Ieshua” in Greek would indicate a woman!
Thus, to make any sense in Greek, “Ieshua” had to convert to “Ieshus” – to indicate the male gender, because Greek names ending in “-s” would indicate the masculine form. Compare the names of the well-known Greek (male) gods: Zeu-s, Apollo-s, Dionysu-s, Hephaestu-s, Heracle-s, Oedipu-s, Perseu-s, Herme-s, etc.
And in the Greek vernacular “Ieshus” would be pronounced as “Iesous”. This is the form whence we have the transliterated English and Afrikaans form “Jesus”. Transliteration is not translation. Transliteration imitates sounds.
The fact of the matter is that any Greek person who would sincerely and sensibly, without any hidden agendas or ulterior motives, pronounce “Yeshua” in his mother tongue, would do so as “Iesous”. “Iesous” is simply the sensible Greek rendering of “Yeshua” – similar to the different renderings of the Biblical book James (Eng) in other languages, like Jakobus (Afr) or Jacques (Fr).
Once one understands this, all the allegations about “Jesus” representing the names of the pagan gods Ieso, Isis or Zeus, wilts into ignorance and ridicule. It simply fades into Israel Vision, British Israelism and Hebrew Roots baloney.
Dire Consequences of the “Sacred Names”.
Why would one go into such technicalities as above to explain this to regular Christians?
Because these shameful lies from Torah teachers, in whichever movement they’re found, has caused havoc, and is still causing havoc in people’s relationship with Messiah. I’ve seen good Christians’ prayer lives ruined, utter despair and doubt about whether they are saved in the “right” name at all, health breakdowns, second baptisms in the “right” name, etc. In short: Serious confusion in the Body.
It seems as if the very anchor cables of one’s human spirit get cut by these nonsensical teachings – leaving one to helplessly drift and get knocked about by life’s waves. That is not from the Spirit of the Father, but from Satan himself.
Among the teachers of these lies, I invariably encounter conceit, self-righteousness, haughtiness and alienation from the rest of the Body.
The “Sacred Names” Merry-go-round.
Moreover, these teachers have confused the flock with a myriad of spellings and pronunciations of “sacred names” for the Father and the Son. Invariably, teachers of each individual name claim that “their” rendition represents the best researched, most original and most correct name! Also, they emphatically explain that they “cannot use another name” since they have come to “so love the Person by THAT name” – which represents little more than sentiment.
[I have a pet name for my wife Isabel. I lovingly call her Bella (Italian for “pretty”). I also “so love her by that name.” But I’m sure I’d be able to call her Isabel, or even Isabella – her true name, if I had to! It’s simply a matter of sentiment.]
Here are all the “true, best researched, most original, most correct names” for the Father and the Son:
The Father: Ieue, Ieueh, Iehue, Ieuweh, Iehuweh, Yahuweh, Yahuwah, Yehuweh, Yehuwah, Yaweh, Yahwheh, Yeweh, Jawe, Jaweh, Jahwe, Jawhe, Jawheh, J’we, J’hwe, J’hweh, etc.
The Son: Yahushua, Yahushuah Yehushua, Yahushua, Jahushua, Jehushua, Yeshua, Yehshua, Jeshua, Jehshua, Jashua, Jahshuah, J’shuah, etc.
In stead of “restoring” the Names, this has turned into a circus! With self-righteousness and shallow sentiment right at the bottom of it.
Are we really better off with this merry-go-round of names than simply with “Jesus”?
And please don’t accuse me of blasphemy. I’m not scoffing. It’s simply a ridiculous situation created by over-eager, competitive pedantry.
Two questions these teachers need to answer:
1. In which name were you saved at the time when you got saved? Was your salvation in the name of Jesus by any means an inferior salvation? And if “Jesus” can save, then Jesus must be the Messiah, right?
2. If you want me to use the sacred names, which one in the above mix should I use? Which ones are best or correct?
Even if one would revert to the Hebrew spelling (JHVH or Tetragrammaton), it still needs to be pronounced.
Or do we go the Jewish and Masonic route and never pronounce it?
The “Power” Claim.
But once again, these teachers don’t give up without a fight:
“No”, they say, “but the sacred names have MORE POWER than the ‘Greek’ ones.”
I’ve even heard the claim that “since I’ve started using the sacred names, the name ‘Jesus’ has no power anymore”!
I’ve put these claims to the test – in real-life situations. And after many years of putting the sacred names to the test in prayer, deliverance sessions and baptisms, I can confidently proclaim:
There is absolutely NO observable difference in the power behind the name “Jesus” and any variation of the sacred names. Not in prayer (answered prayer), baptisms (in terms of the baptisee starting to speak in tongues) or deliverance (demons leaving).
It seems that both the Father and the Son honour their “nicknames”. Who do you think you are to do different?
So, even the POWER claim of sacred names adherents gets exposed to be a lot of hot air.
Corporate Prayer in the “Sacred Names”.
Corporate prayer in the Hebrew sacred names is a most effective way of letting brothers and sisters “who are not in the know” feel inferior. And I’m sure that many who use the sacred names in corporate prayer are fully aware of this. This is a subtle, but infinitely effective way of establishing oneself just one or two notches above “the rest”.
Personally, I avoid doing this.
Would the Father or Messiah really approve of me having a little cozy prayer “insider” with Him to the exclusion of my prayer partners? Or would He rather have me call Him by His “nickname” to the inclusion of others, and unity in prayer with them?
Which of the two would be an honest reflection of His character?
Folks, could we please put an end to this indulgence? If you would prefer to use some variants of the sacred names, I’d be the last one to nag you not to do so. But please, stop shoving your brand of sacred names down other people’s throats! You’re not honouring the Father by doing so – you’re simply enforcing your will onto other Christians. Is “MY will be done” part of your daily prayer?
Blasphemy by the Sacred Names Movement
I wish I were wrong in saying this, but I’m afraid I’m not:
I have good reasons to believe that the majority of intentional, scornful, targeted blasphemy and denial of the name “Jesus” in the world today does not come from non-Christians, Hollywood or Satanism. It comes via the Torah movement.
This is sobering.
Is Jesus a pagan God?
If you teach that “Jesus” is a pagan god, you’re simply deceived. I fear for you. Whoever would dare blaspheme the Name “Jesus” would have to answer to that very same Name – One Day. Not only for blasphemy, but also for those whom you’ve led astray by your teaching, whose prayer lives have been ruined, and weak ones whose faith you’ve eroded. It would have been better for you in that day if you’d been thrown into the sea with a millstone around your neck.
And if you look down your nose at those who don’t use your brand of the sacred names – the Father hates haughty eyes. I fear for you also.
If this article, by the Spirit of the Father, has created in you an urge for repentance, then do so without delay. The Faithful One will forgive you.
If you were guilty, but would refuse to repent, I fear for you even more.
Dreadlocks, here we come!
For further reflection:
One of my earliest memories of evangelism as a young, naive Christian in the early 1980’s was when I encountered a Rastafarian (with dreadlocks and smoking pot) on the streets of Cape Town in the middle of the night. After politely asking him whether he knew Jesus, he defiantly retorted: “I serve Jah!” At the time, I had absolutely no idea of what he was talking about.
Later that night, he was laboriously trying to convince me from the book of Revelation that the Biblical Tree of Life was actually the marijuana plant!
Would you serve Jah (or Yah, or any rendition thereof), the god of Rastafari, if you’d pray in any of the names above?
The Nature of the New Covenant
The New Covenant Announced
In Jer. 31 the Father via his prophet announces the nature of his New Covenant – one of the most brilliant moves by anyone in world history!
It was not really a NEW covenant – it was more of an EXPANDED or EXTENDED covenant. But the clauses added were completely new to the covenant: “I shall write my Torah onto your innermost flesh, and onto your mind.” In the NT, this process of writing the Torah onto our innermost flesh and minds is called “circumcision of the heart”.
What’s the Difference?
Why was this such a brilliant move?
We lack space in this article for a lengthy explanation.
Suffice to say: Instead of instructions on tablets of stone (Stone Torah) – which, from the OUTside, commanded rebellious people to do, and not to do specific things – those instructions were now written on the fleshy tables of our hearts (Flesh Torah) in much more detail! – on the INside – urging us from withIN to do whatever is right.
Instead of doggedly striving to live a set apart life, wrestling against one’s own urges, the New Covenant makes us WANT to do the right thing – urging us on from INside!
And instead of a human rabbi interpreting the stone Torah and explaining such Torah to his followers, we now have an Inner Rabbi – the Spirit of the Living Father – interpreting our flesh Torah. He knows the Torah perfectly. He perfectly explains to us not only what the written letter says, but also the Spirit or intent of the inner Torah:
what it actually hopes to accomplish in our hearts. This deeper meaning is totally absent from the content of the original stone Torah!
The Spirit of the Father knows and searches the heart of the Father – that heart which can NEVER be adequately expressed in human language on tablets of stone (or pages of paper!). The Spirit of the Living Father relays to us the intent (or Spirit) of the flesh Torah, as opposed to the instruction (or letter) of the stone Torah.
The content of the Stone Torah
and the content of the Flesh Torah
are radically different!
The difference between the New and Old covenants is almost like speaking face to face to a real person, as opposed to merely reading his books or letters.
Similarly, observance of the Stone Torah is like reading the Father’s Book and following the instructions according to the letter, whereas observance of the Flesh Torah is like speaking to the Father face to face, asking Him what He would want me to do in a specific situation, and receiving His detailed answer.
The Stone Torah acts from without; the Flesh Torah acts from within.
The Stone Torah speaks from pages of a Book; the Flesh Torah speaks from the Spirit.
The Stone Torah says: “Do as I say!”; the Flesh Torah says: “Hear my Heart.”
The Stone Torah changes behaviour; the Flesh Torah changes attitude.
The Stone Torah is a system; the Flesh Torah is a relationship.
The Stone Torah gives no reasons; the Flesh Torah explains intent.
The Stone Torah requires a Book, a rabbi and obedience; the Flesh Torah requires the Spirit (no book!), listening and surrender.
The Stone Torah requires study; the Flesh Torah requires a life lived.
Study of the Stone Torah yields some measure of intellectual revelation; living from the Flesh Torah yields intimate relationship.
The Stone Torah kills; the Flesh Torah gives life!
Study of the Stone Torah reveals letters – and yields idioms, pictures, numbers, patterns and shadows – beautifully interweaved into the pages of a Book – but dead.
Living the Flesh Torah reveals a Person and His mindset – and yields understanding, intimacy, love and power in an abundant life!
Jesus explains the Difference
On the mountain (Mat. 5) Jesus explained this concept to his disciples six times in succession:
“You have heard that it was said …” and He would quote a law from the Stone Torah. And then he would proceed: “But I tell you …” and He would reveal to them the Father’s heart behind that particular law – an intent – which was never expressed, and entirely absent from the words of the Stone Torah.
This He does six times in succession. As a carpenter by trade, He was really knocking this nail in hard, and driving his point home!
So if anyone would still stubbornly insist that he and everybody else should keep the letter of the Stone Torah (and only that!), he would not only brutalize the Father’s heart behind the Stone Torah (represented by the Flesh Torah on the tablets of our hearts), but I sincerely wonder what would be needed to change such a person’s mind – since he obviously doesn’t grasp what Jesus tries to explain repeatedly! How hard should Jesus have to drive the nail home for such an individual?
He was explaining to his disciples that the contents of the Stone Torah could never ever encompass what the Father had in mind when he gave those instructions (to Moses). Jesus revealed the intent or Spirit of the Torah (Flesh Torah), as opposed to the letter or body of the Torah (Stone Torah).
2 Cor. 3:3: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
Eze 11:19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
Col. 2:11 In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ ...
This circumcision done by Christ is the writing of the Spirit of the Torah on the fleshy tables of our hearts.
The letter kills, whereas the Spirit gives life:
“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” – 2 Cor. 3:6.
If you would stubbornly insist to follow the mere letter, then please die alone. Don’t take others with you. Please don’t infect others with your gospel of death.
Literal obedience to the letter,
as opposed to literal obedience to the Spirit
Please don’t get me wrong on this:
Because we’re opposing obedience to the letter, don’t think that we’re opposing literal obedience. There’s a BIG difference!
And because we’re promoting obedience to the Spirit, don’t think that we’re promoting some ‘spiritual’ obedience. There’s a BIG difference!
We’re opposing literal obedience to the letter.
We’re preaching literal obedience to the Spirit.
We’re NOT preaching ‘spiritual’ obedience to anything. In other words, we’re not preaching some airy-fairy, non-specific obedience, just because we’re in a covenant of the Spirit.
Obedience is literal. If the Spirit tells you, you obey. Literally.
Righteousness that does not exceed that of the Pharisees.
In the verse preceding his six-fold explanation in Mat. 5, Jesus urges his disciples:
“… for I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of Torah, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mat. 5:20).
In our day, many observers of the Stone Torah don’t deem this verse to apply to them. They simply soothe their own consciences by telling themselves that they are very different from “the Pharisees and teachers of Torah” of Jesus’ time.
Because they have accepted Jesus! “The Pharisees and teachers of Torah” of Jesus’ time didn’t. “That makes me different”, they reckon. “I love Jesus. So this verse does not apply to me.”
Let’s take a hard look at that long-time favourite verse of modern-day Gentile Torah teachers:
If you love me, keep my commandments. – John 14:15In the past, this verse has been misused abundantly to preach observance of the Stone Torah. Is that really what it says?
1. Did or didn’t Jesus explain the difference between the Stone and Flesh Torahs six times in succession in Mat. 5? Did Jesus urge his disciples to obey what “was said of old” or to obey what He said, following “but I tell you …”? Stone Torah or Flesh Torah?
2. Did or didn’t Jesus proclaim himself “Lord of the Sabbath?” Was he reinforcing observance of Stone Torah or Flesh Torah?
3. Did or didn’t Jesus have several squabbles with the Pharisees concerning the Stone Torah interpretation of several Mosaic laws?
4. Did or didn’t Jesus command his disciples in the upper room to observe the signs of the New Covenant – of the Flesh Torah?
I’m afraid, my dear Stone Torah observing friend, if you are sticking to the letter of the Torah, you are NOT keeping the commandments of Jesus.
His covenant with you is a Flesh Torah covenant, and you are seriously violating its clauses! If you loved Him, you would have kept his Flesh Torah. If you’d accepted Him, you would have observed His Torah of Flesh!
So, dear Stone Torah observer, you are NOT different than “the Pharisees and teachers of Torah”. You testify that you accept Jesus, but you blatantly reject His flesh covenant. You testify that you accept Jesus, but you don’t accept the terms and conditions of His covenant. Your righteousness does NOT exceed those of the Pharisees and teachers of Torah.
Do you embrace a stone, or do you embrace Spirit?
Are you having intellectual relations with a system of rules, or are you searching out the Father’s heart via his Son?
Are you like the prodigal son’s older brother who perfectly obeys his Father’s rules (system), but has no relationship with Him, and cluelessly questions His heart?
Which voice do you primarily follow: The voice of the Stone Torah, or the inner voice of the Spirit?
Have you ever cared to ask the Ruach to explain to you the intent of the Father’s heart behind the laws you so doggedly observe?
Have you ever cared to take time to listen to what He might answer you?
DO YOU HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH A BOOK, OR A PERSON?
What would be left of your daily walk if your Bible were taken from you?
Would you know the voice of the Spirit well enough to live a set apart life? What would happen to the activities of your Torah group if you don’t have a Torah to study any more? If you have nothing more to say “How wonderful!” about?
ARE YOU OBEYING A SYSTEM OR A PERSON?
Why is it that I almost NEVER see anything about the meaning of the Flesh Torah in any Hebrew Roots or Torah teaching literature?
Why have I NEVER heard a Hebrew Roots or Torah teaching on this concept?
I personally think the answer is rather simple:
Torah teachers who only teach Stone Torah, simply don’t understand the New Covenant! In their minds, the Flesh Torah is an exact replica of the Stone Torah.
They reckon the Flesh Torah is just the Stone Torah written anew on flesh. BIG MISTAKE!
Whenever I explain this concept to Torah and Hebrew Roots teachers, and then inquire how they would define the Spirit of certain Torah instructions, they are invariably at a complete loss for words. It is obvious that they have never even contemplated the concept – i.e. what the writing on our flesh actually means. Most of these teachers erroneously regard this as a mere metaphor. And because none of us have human access to the writing on our own flesh, they simply revert to the stone version. They sincerely believe that the flesh Torah is simply a fleshy rendition and an exact copy of the stone Torah! BIG MISTAKE!
That, dear friends, is undeniable evidence of bondage. Bondage of the mind. Caused by observance of the letter of the stone Torah. Which equates a mental prison.
Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts [mind]. – 2 Cor. 3:15
An Explanation in the Style of a Torah Class.
Let me try to meet you where you’re at, and explain this to you Torah-class style:
Jesus proclaimed Himself to be “the Way, the Truth and the Life” – the three curtains of the temple. When, at His death on Golgotha, the “Life”-veil tore – it did not only yield us that famous, glorious bold access to the Mercy Seat. It also rendered us bold access via the Shekinah to the Torah on Stone within the Ark of the Covenant.
As our new, eternal High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek, when He sat down in the holiest of holies, Jesus took over Aaron’s blossoming rod as He rose from the tomb as a sign of being his Father’s favourite – His Chosen One. As Bread of Life He took the place of the manna of the Mosaic order. He took out the “heart of stone” (tablets) and replaced it with a “heart of flesh” within the New Covenantal Ark of believers!
If this is NOT the case for you, dear reader, then you are in bondage:
The steel doors of the Old Testament prison have clanged shut behind you! Did you notice the creaking of the keys as they locked you away?
The Terms and Conditions of the Covenantal Meal.
Do you realize that you are actually denying Messiah by embracing a stone covenant? Do you realize that it’s irrational to accept the Person of the covenant, whilst at the same time rejecting the terms of this Person’s covenant?
Do you celebrate Communion (the signs of the New Covenant) on YOUR terms? If you celebrate a covenant of stone, then you are on YOUR terms! Messiah is not in that! His covenant is a covenant on flesh!
The actual observance of the letter of the Old Covenant (as opposed to obedience to the Spirit of the same Covenant) constitutes DIS-obedience to the New Covenant! Mere obedience to the letter of the former constitutes rebellion to the Spirit of the latter!
Just as current-day observance of the sacrifices for sin (as required by the Torah) would deny the sin-conquering work of Messiah, similarly any mere observance of the letter of any other part of the Torah, without the Spirit behind it, would constitute denial of Messiah and of His (New) covenant.
Being Torah-observant, but clueless concerning the intent behind each carefully observed law, constitutes denial of Messiah. Yes, dear friend, your very salvation is at stake! Jesus said that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of Torah, “YOU WILL CERTAINLY NOT ENTER THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN”! (Mat. 5:20.) This is serious!
The Spirit of the Torah.
There is only ONE way of accessing the Torah on our flesh. That is via the One who wrote it – the Ruach. And we need no other rabbi:
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit––just as it has taught you, remain in him.” – 1 John 2:27
Literal, blind obedience to the letter of the Torah results in spiritual death. Jesus was saying that teachers of Torah were missing the point. They missed the point by a millimeter, but missed it 100%. If you miss the Spirit behind the letter, you miss everything 100%.
Moreover, if you miss the voice of our Spirit teacher (or Rabbi), expounding the Torah from inside, and you stubbornly cling to the letter, then you embrace death. If you teach the letter of the Torah whilst missing the Father’s intent behind it, your righteousness does not surpass that of the Pharisees and teachers of Torah of the time of Jesus. “You will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.” Neither will your followers. And you, as their teacher, will be held responsible for their deception. This is a fearsome thing.
“… for I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and teachers of Torah, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” – Mat. 5:20
The Torah without the Spirit is dead. And it leads to death. Its goal was to find a way to deal with sin until Jesus would come. It merely foreshadows the fullness which Jesus, and the era of the Spirit, have brought.
The Ruach knows and searches the heart of the Father. The Ruach is also the Spirit of Jesus. He knows the letter of the Torah, but even more so, He knows the heart, the intent, the meaning behind the Torah. And as our Rabbi, He interprets, teaches, reminds, reprimands and convicts us.
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, This is the way; walk in it." – Is. 30:21
“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” – Gal. 5:25
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.” – Gal. 5:16.
The Spirit of the Father will never contradict the Spirit of the Torah, although it might seemingly violate the letter of the Torah.
I have two teenage sons. As their father, I have made a rule in my house that my boys should be in at 10 o’clock on weekdays. That’s my rule – the LETTER of my rule.Why?
Because as an adult I know that bad things happen to the children of good people after 10 at night. And my boys lack experience to understand that. I love my boys – and want them to be safe. That’s the SPIRIT of my rule.
But, say one of my boys would phone me at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday night, telling me that, due to unforeseen circumstances, he would sleep over at a friend’s house.
If I know the parents and trust their judgment, I would have absolutely no objection to my son not sleeping in my own home that night – although he would be violating my instruction.
Because my intent, my heart, my meaning behind the letter of my rule has been fulfilled. My son is safe. That was the reason, the intent, my heart behind my rule.The letter of my rule got violated, but the intent behind it was fulfilled. And I, the rule-maker, am perfectly happy.
Moreover, my rule was never in the first place about ME. It was about THEM. THEIR safety. Obedience to my rule is not about MY ego. It’s primarily about THEIR safety. Likewise with the Father’s rules. It’s not primarily in HIS interest that we obey Him – it’s in OUR own interest.
If we disobey, HE loses nothing. WE lose. It’s simply stupid to disobey.
And even more so: Once my boys have grown up, and start to understand WHY I, their dad, had made such a rule, they would gladly look after their own safety at night. Then they no longer need my instructions in this regard.What made the difference?
They’ve developed the same heart as me, their dad.
As their dad, I would actually have liked to replicate myself WITHIN them, so I could speak to them 24 hours per day. This is exactly what the Father has done by his Spirit.
Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law. – Gal. 3:25.
The Pharisees, Sadducees and teachers of the Torah in the time of Jesus simply never grasped this. They just couldn’t ever wrap their minds around this principle. After all: It’s simply much easier to doggedly follow a set of written rules than to search out the heart of the Father. They were missing the point by a millimeter, but missing it wholly.
That’s why they came into so much conflict with Jesus – the One who really understood what the Torah was all about, and knew the Father’s heart behind it!
If I learn to obey the voice of the Spirit within me, I would walk in perfect obedience to the Torah, even though I might violate its letter. And as I would gradually grow up in this process, I would have almost no need of the letter any more – since I would have developed the heart of the Father.
… when we were children, we were in bondage under the elements of the world [a system of law like the Stone Torah]. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law [Stone Torah], to redeem those who were under the law [Stone Torah], that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, "Abba, Father." – Gal. 4:3 – 6.
This, to most Torah teachers, constitutes utter heresy.
But this, dear fellow believers, is exactly what the Scriptures say:
But if ye are led by the Spirit, ye are not under the law [or Stone Torah]. – Gal. 5:18
Scripture even says that we will not be teaching each other LETTER any more (since the Spirit – our inner Rabbi – shall lead us in the SPIRIT of the Torah):
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. – Heb. 8:10 – 11 (quoting from Jer. 31)
Ultimately, Jesus summed up the Spirit of the entire Torah (and the prophets) in a nutshell (Mat 23:37 – 38)):
1. Love the Father thy God with all thy heart, soul and mind.
2. Love thy neighbour as thyself.
We are no longer in bondage – but this does not mean that we can now do whatever we want:
For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion of the flesh, but by love serve one another. – Gal. 5:13.
But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. – 1 Cor. 8:9.
Biblical Example: The Sabbath Day.
What is the letter of the Sabbath commandment?
Which day of the week it should be celebrated.
When it should start.
When it should end.
What one should do.
What one shouldn’t do.
Which rituals should be performed.
How these rituals should be performed.
What is the Spirit of the Sabbath commandment?
Jesus himself was very clear about that:
“The Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath.” – Mark 2:27.
The Sabbath is in service of man – not man in service of the Sabbath.
If we would comply only with the letter of the Sabbath day, then we’d scorn what Jesus said. Sabbath would become a Spirit-less exercise, a burdensome load which would actually accomplish the exact opposite of what it was intended for – it would put man in service of the Sabbath.
Right from the start, Scripture was unambiguously clear: The Spirit of the Sabbath day was simply that man should REST one in every seven days – so man would be BLESSED.
If one chose to ignore this grace, one would pay the dire consequences – in health, in finance and relationships.
God doesn’t lose anything. We lose.
God never intended to force Shabbat onto man – then man would be made for the Sabbath, and Jesus would be a liar.
[There are absolutely no historical grounds for the claim that this expression of Jesus is a so-called “Hebrewism” – an idiomatic expression in Hebrew which shouldn’t be taken literally.
Since this verse overthrows the legalistic Shabbat apple cart of many Torah teachers, they have dashed for this dishonest escape route.
For this expression to be a true “Hebrewism”, somebody needs to come forward with an original Hebrew text from the pre-Christian era where this phrase is clearly used as an idiomatic expression.
Such examples, I’m afraid, don’t exist.]
How about having your Sabbath on a Thursday if the Spirit might lead you such? Having family time or just chilling? Without any rituals?
Focusing on the voice of the Spirit inside? Enjoying true rest? True SHALOM!
Now, I know a Thursday would be inconvenient for most people. Society is not geared that way. But for me personally, a Tuesday is just perfect, since I often have to minister over weekends. It suits my schedule and allows me to take my wife for coffee so we can communicate on levels not possible on workdays. And a Tuesday has become my delight. I look forward to it. I use it to ponder the things above. It allows me to really REST. Yes, I keep the Sabbath Day – the New Covenant (flesh Torah) way – on a Tuesday.
And contrary to almost all Torah teaching, my family and I aren’t cursed. The proof of the pudding, dear friend, is in the eating. Despite our vulnerability and many weaknesses, we are exceedingly blessed. This exposes regular Hebrew Roots and Torah group teachings on the Sabbath as a lie.
By his Spirit, Jesus has taught my family and I over many years to live in the Spirit by faith – not according to the first principles of the world by letter. Praise His Name for setting us free from the death-blows of the letter!
[If you don’t agree with this, please don’t send me all your Sabbath scriptures and arguments to sell me a tablet of stone. I know all those verses almost by heart. Over the course of many years, I’ve heard those arguments over and over, and have sincerely and honestly considered them all. I doubt whether you could offer me a new one. Have you sincerely and honestly considered the above? I reserve the right to simply reply with “Peace” if your email would reveal the opposite.].
The Religious Spirit behind most Torah Teachings
The Nature of a Religious Spirit
The Religious spirit is an ugly demon. It represents just one of the many faces of pride and puffed-upness.
It loves system and structure.
It loves rule and ritual.
It loves solemnity and holier-than-thou.
It loves pompous, grandiloquent language.
It esteems outward display.
It loves tradition and resists change.
It loves exclusivity.
It uses all of the above to put itself one notch above the rest.
It is proud and haughty.
It considers itself superior and untouchable.
It feels comfortable inside a familiar cage, and feels threatened by freedom.
It deems itself to be right, and all others wrong.
It is unteachable and pedantic.
It is intolerant and short-fused.
It lacks creativity.
It serves as a smokescreen for deep insecurity.
It is Spirit-less.
The Religious spirit could be recognized by the same principles wherever in the world one might encounter it – amongst Christians or unbelievers. Whether it be Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Freemasonry, Roman Catholicism, Judaism or whatever – the Religious Spirit lacks the creativity to disguise itself.
Here’s what it looks like:
1. Headwear & hairstyle:
Curiously, the use of peculiar headgear and hairstyles seems to be one of the primary symptoms of a residing Religious Spirit.
It somehow loves to wear some or other form of (traditional) headgear or hairstyle of recognition on his/her head. Whether it be a miter, turban, headcloth/hijaab/niqaab, medora, fez, kippa/yarmulke, flower wreath, sun or moon disc, tonsure, dreadlocks, baldness, crew cuts, beards, mohawks, mullets or whatever – the Religious Spirit loves the outward display and associated elevation and exclusivity.
For the same reasons as above, the Religious Spirit loves to make an outward display of attire: Togas, mantles, burkas/jellabas/abayas, prayer shawls/talits, tsit-tsit, habits, frocks, cowls, pallia, suits, etc.
The Religious Spirit loves the elevation and exclusivity that the use of ancient or foreign, ‘original’ languages allow:
Latin (Roman Catholicism & Freemasonry), Arabic (Islam), Hebrew (Hebrew Roots & Torah Groups), Hindi (Hinduism), Mandarin (Buddhism), etc.
4. Special symbols of authority or power:
Titles like Professor, Doctor, Reverend, Padre, Pope/Papa, Father, Master, Rabbi, Lama, Prophet, Priest, Sheik, etc.
Physical instruments like crosiers, scepters, crosses, staffs, flails, shofars, etc.
5. System, Structure, Ritual & Solemnity:
Lack of Spirit life causes a vacuum – which is then filled with system, structure, ritual & solemnity. Actually, system and structure represent the crutches or wheelchair of a paralytic or lifeless body. The Religious Spirit thrives on these:
Set, prescribed rituals for actions and speech.
Emphasis on rule & correctness.
Relationship with books, rather than a Person.
I think you get the idea.
Even amongst regular Christians I know quite a few who have an excellent relationship with their Bibles, but almost no relationship with Jesus. Amongst many Torah followers this phenomenon is just magnified many times.
Above, I attempt to demonstrate to you the context of the distinctive features of Messianism, Torah groups and Hebrew Roots in our time.
The context is religiosity – absolutely no different than the religiosity of almost every heathen religion on the face of this planet.
It was like that under the “Old” Covenant, and is the same under the “New” Covenant.
But, under the “Old” Covenant, though religious, it was valid, since much of what is mentioned above was sanctioned by Moses – who received it from the Father personally.
And this is exactly why, in retrospect, the apostle Paul calls these things “the elements of the world” (Gal. 4:3) and “weak and beggarly elements” (Gal. 4:9). Although these weak and beggarly elements of the world were ordained by the Father, and came in glory (remember Moses’ face?), they still represented LETTER.
Paul was a minister of a much BETTER covenant – a covenant of the SPIRIT which by far surpasses the glory of the covenant of LETTER.
… He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. – Heb. 8:6.
… our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–– not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts! – 2 Cor. 3:5 – 11.
Now that [covenant] which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. – Heb. 8:13.
I never cease to be amazed at the amount of gloryless religiosity present amongst most Torah and Hebrew Roots groups.
Wherever I travel across our beautiful country, I usually find more than 50% of the above symptoms amongst most groups.
Whenever members would speak to me, their faith language would be a concoction of Afrikaans and Hebrew, or English and Hebrew, with a strong shot of sacred names in between. When asked why they mix their language thus, the response is usually that the Hebrew terms are more correct, or that they so love these words – seemingly because they are so “original”. It never seems to occur to them that nobody besides their own insular group understands their Hebrew jargon – however correct it might be.
"If a leader can’t get a message across clearly
and motivate others to act on it,
then having a message doesn’t even matter.”
– Gilbert Amelio
Why call Biblical Mortals by their Hebrew Names?
These members even call mere mortals in the Bible by their (sacred?) Hebrew names, like Jacob (Jakov), Moses (Moshe) or Paul (Shaul), etc.
The use of sacred names of the Godhead at least have Biblical merit, but why call Biblical characters by their Hebrew names? Once I know that “Peter” means “rock” in the
original, can anybody please explain to me why I should call him by his Hebrew name?
If these believers were to be honest and consistent in this, then they need to call South Africans with the surname Roux by their original French surname, i.e. Rouge (meaning “red”). Also, Viljoen should be “Villion”, Terblanche should be Terra Blanche, Fourie should be Faure, etc.
But these Torah people don’t call South Africans such. Why then do the “original” Hebrew thing with Biblical characters?
Why pray with Talits (prayer shawls)?
Torah people often pray with Jewish prayer shawls (talits) over their heads. Personally, I still don’t understand why.
The talit was supposed to foreshadow the tabernacle (of David).
The tabernacle, in turn, was supposed to foreshadow the temple (of Solomon).
The temple (of Solomon), in turn, was supposed to foreshadow the bodies of believers (as a temple of the Ruach) – with rent veil and bold access to the throne room.
Why on earth would one desire to force the fulfillment (our bodies) under the shadow (talit) all over again?
That’s not forward progression – it’s backward regression!
The Star of David/Remphan?
To add insult to injury – most of these talits (straight from Jerusalem!) sport the deeply occult “Star of David” – often even ritually kissed by devotees. This symbol can be found in virtually every branch of the occult. If you don’t believe me, go and have a look yourself! No other symbol in the world so permeates the occult world than the “Star of David”.
In the past, I’ve heard laborious Hebrew Roots teachings on how this symbol stems from the rose of Sharon – which teaching is firstly extra-biblical, and secondly utter nonsense. Not even this forced teaching explains the inner lines of this symbol. Actually, the inner lines defy this dubious teaching!
The odds lean heavily towards the fact that this symbol rather hails from the Biblical “star of Remphan” – on which topic the Bible is not too positive.Do you really desire to put yourself physically under the authority of the star of Remphan?
Even more so:
Why do we see such an utter obsession with this star amongst Torah people? Where do they get it from?
Or is this just another manifestation of the worship and esteem of everything Jewish or Judaic? Just another form of idolatry?
Absence of true Godliness.
Perhaps the most evident symptom of a residing religious spirit is the abundance of activity, study and ritual amongst many Torah folks, but frequent absence of godliness:
What good is it if one can recite prayers and passages in Hebrew, but have no idea (and could honestly care less about) how to bring the gospel to your Xhosa or Zulu housekeeper in her native tongue?
What good is it if one knows the Hebrew names of the Godhead and Biblical characters, but has no idea (and could honestly care less) what the names of the unbelievers at one’s workplace are?
What good is it if one can conduct lengthy arguments from Scripture why the apostle Paul (sorry, Shaul) seemed to keep the Biblical feasts, but have never brought the gospel to (and could honestly care less about) any other soul like Shaul did?
What good is it if one knows exactly how to count days to celebrate Biblical feasts, but has never counted (and could honestly care less about) how many unreached countries there are in the world?
What good is it if one has been to Israel several times but could care less about the unsaved in Timbuktu?
What good is it if one can explain the symbolism of the Tabernacle, but has no idea how to explain the gospel to an unbeliever?
What good is it if one knows exactly when, how and for how long to fast, but one has never fed one hungry person?
What good is it to have one’s regular Shabbat meal, but one could care less about those with no meal?
What good is it if one prides oneself in being the priest of one’s home, but could care less about fathers who don’t have homes to raise their families in?
What good is it if one knows the Torah by heart from many readings, but cares less about those who cannot read?
What good is it if one can follow intricate prophetic lines throughout the Bible, but have no idea what the rhema voice of the Ruach sounds like?
What good is it if I can recite prophetic passages in Hebrew, but have no idea how to teach new believers how to hear the voice of the Ruach?
What good is it if I can see Jesus in every Torah verse or symbol, but I reject the flesh covenant of Jesus?
I could go on and on and on along this line.
No one Christian can do EVERYTHING I suggest above. But you should be into at least SOME of them!
Are you? Or are you only into Torah?
Not surpassing the Righteousness of the Pharisees.
The point of the matter is this:
Jesus came to earth as a man to teach, suffer and die to save mankind. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, comforted the broken-hearted and wept for his friends. He did nothing that He did not see his Father doing.
If your study of the Torah does not press you to do likewise – then you have simply lost contact with the reality of the Spirit of Jesus. The Ruach is not behind what you are doing. Then you are simply hamster-milling the Torah. Parshah after parshah. Week after week. Month after month. Year after year.
Disappearing behind the “Torah veil”.
Sadly, over many years, I’ve seen several dear friends entering, and disappearing behind a proverbial “veil” labeled “Torah”. Once inside, they are somehow kept rather busy, since one sees very few re-appearing.
Having once been devoted, passionate folks with a good measure of godliness, they become entangled in a web of Torah must-do’s and programs.
Gone are their prayers and intercession (they now pray in Hebrew and primarily for Israel, and not any more for the lost), their compassion (they now travel to Israel in stead of running soup kitchens), their zeal for the lost (they now rally believing folks together to study Torah, rather than rallying people for prayer and intercession).
They are seldom available for simple friendship, because they are forever attending Torah or Hebrew classes, away on tour through Israel, resting on Shabbat, planning a
feast or manufacturing menorahs.
The steady, unbridled Perversion
And in order to keep people motivated, the level of “revelation” of these groups has to deepen every year.
So, somewhere along the line, the Talmud slips in unobtrusively.
A while later Judaism becomes progressively sensible and attractive.
Meanwhile, slowly and unnoticed, progression is made through the Scriptural interpretation levels of p’shat, drash and remez.
When sod level arrives, Cabbala suddenly seems acceptable, logical, clever and appealing …
Never in any Torah group or Hebrew Roots study have I ever encountered any warnings against these, seen any parameters laid down or noticed boundaries drawn.
The ever-changing Flavour
And, as in the institutional church, the flavour changes every year:
Every year the State of Israel is in a new crisis to rally Torah people behind.
Every year new archaeological discoveries are made.
Every year American Torah and Hebrew teachers produce new books, DVDs and teachings.
Every year new pictogrammic interpretations for Hebrew words become available.
Every year a new eschatological “event” happens in Jerusalem.
Every year a new international teacher visits South Africa.
Every year a new pattern is discovered in the Torah, yielding instant fame and prophetic status to its discoverer.
Every year new tours to the Holy Land get organized.
There’s enough “stuff” there to keep one busy for three or four lifetimes. Keeping one occupied and away from everything that was important to Jesus.
Very few ever re-appear from behind that “Torah-veil”. The few who do, are usually somewhat bewildered for quite a period, struggling to fill the “busy” gaps with sensible Christianity. Others eventually become rather strange and estranged people. Eventually, most of them gradually fade or completely disappear from the Kingdom radar screen.
Why would anybody opt to live this kind of life?
Simply because it is much easier to follow a set of rules than to search out the Father’s heart by his Spirit.
In the former, I’m in control. In the latter, He’s in control.
The former requires no faith. The latter runs on faith!
Hamster-milling the Torah is dead religion. Lifeless works. Lethal letter. Puffing-up knowledge. Not surpassing the righteousness of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
No life-giving Spirit.
In a thousand pounds of law, there’s not an ounce of love.
At first glance legalism seems hard,
but actually freedom in Christ is the harder way.
It is relatively easy not to murder, but hard to reach out in love;
easy to avoid a neighbour’s bed, hard to keep a marriage alive;
easy to pay taxes, hard to serve the poor.
– Philip Yancey in What’s so amazing about Grace?
The Torah cannot satisfy
On a recent ministry trip I met up with a kind, devoted lady who was really excited about what she was learning in her Torah group. She’d been a member for a number of years. She was learning so much, she said, that her learning makes her ever hungrier for more.
She excitedly told me that she had even asked her group “When is this hunger going to stop? I just forever crave for more and more …!”
I had to restrain myself not to reply with the following two verses:
Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” – John 6:35
… whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. – John 4:14Have you ever contemplated this:
Those whom Jesus addressed above, already had access to the Torah for more than a thousand years. But the Torah could never satisfy.
Only when Jesus arrived in their midst, true satisfaction was possible.
And today, if your Torah studies cause you to forever hunger and thirst, you need to know that Jesus is not in it. If you were into the Bread of Life or Living Water, you wouldn’t hunger or thirst any more. If you grow ever hungrier, it is indicative that you’re into something else than Jesus.
Remaining forever hungry is actually what happens to an inmate in a prison. You are hamster-milling the Torah, and simply enjoying the exercise.
Which Items were on Jesus’ Priority List?
Despite being a rabbi Himself, of the four times that Jesus sent out His disciples to do practical training, He never sent them to teach people to observe the Torah. What was His practical Training Curriculum about?
1. Preaching this message: The Kingdom of Heaven is near – Mat. 10:7
2. Healing the sick – Mat. 10:8
3. Raising the dead – Mat. 10:8
4. Cleansing those who have leprosy – Mat. 10:8
5. Driving out demons – Mat. 10:8
6. Ministering without money – Mat. 10:9
7. Ministering from a position of little convenience – Mat. 10:10
8. Blessing homes that receive you – Mat. 10:12
9. Acting prophetically against towns who don’t – Mat. 10:14
10. Being shrewd and innocent – Mat. 10:16
11. Being flogged in synagogues – Mat. 10:17
12. Witnessing before rulers about Jesus – Mat. 10:18
13. Being hated because of Jesus – Mat. 10:22
14. Persecution because of Jesus – Mat. 10:22
15. Being called worse than demonic names because of Jesus – Mat. 10:25
Torah groups and Hebrew Rooters have little interest in Jesus’ curriculum.
Here’s what usually happens:
1. Preaching this message: Heed the Torah. – Ex. 19:5 – 6.
2. Talking about kosher to stay healthy.
3. Raising the stone tablets.
4. Cleansing by the Torah.
5. Driving out all pagan names, languages and feasts.
6. Ministering without the New Covenant.
7. Ministering from a position of superior knowledge.
8. Blessing wife and kids on Sabbath.
9. Acting prophetically against those who don’t receive the Stone Torah.
10. Being clever and learned.
11. Suffering because we’re different from the rest of the Body.
12. Witnessing about the Torah and the Feasts.
13. Being hated because of Moses.
14. Persecution because of Moses.
15. Being called bad names because of Moses.
Whether these last 15 items be good or bad is debatable – I have exaggerated them on purpose.
But they serve as a reality check: If you never get into the first 15, you have simply lost contact with the reality of Jesus.
If you have despised your Christian birthright to be a co-worker with Jesus in the Kingdom of Heaven and sold it for a slab of stone, you might later find that, like Esau, even your tears before the Father won’t bring it back.
The first 15 priorities are on His heart for us – and we need to align our hearts with His.
The Torah was the Father’s Plan B
Circumcision of the Heart
And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart,
and the heart of thy seed,
to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul,
that thou mayest live.
– Deut. 30:6
And I will put my Spirit within you
and cause you to walk in my statutes
and be careful to obey my rules.
– Ezek. 36:27
What, then, was the purpose of the Torah?
It was added because of transgressions
until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come.
– Gal. 3:19
Plan A and Plan B.
The Father’s original plan, right from the start (in Deuteronomy already), was to circumcise the hearts of his people. This means that His plan was to write His Torah on the fleshy tables of our heart by the power of the resurrection of Jesus. This inward spiritual Torah, interpreted by our inner Rabbi, the Spirit, would then guide our every thought and decision towards an abundant life.
But until the promised Seed, the Messiah, would come in the fullness of time, the Father’s people had to settle for His Plan B – the Torah written on tablets of stone, the Torah of the letter – not of the Spirit. The written Torah was the Father’s temporary ruling in order to find a way to deal with sin until Messiah (Plan A) would come.
It is vitally, vitally important to understand this. If we don’t get this, we miss the central message of the Bible.
Why do we stress this point?
Simply because many erroneously believe that the written Torah was the Father’s original Plan A. The Torah is good and perfect. But it was never plan A.
At Sinai, the Father gave his Torah to a people who cringed at hearing his direct voice:
He desired to lead the Israelites by his own voice, but they failed the test. They feared a relationship with the Father – and opted for a mediator: Moses. Moses had to stand between the Israelites and direct relationship with the Father. And in stead of being guided day by day by His own voice, the children of Israel, for fear of their lives and unbelief in the Father’s good intent, did not allow Him to speak to them directly. Therefore they had to settle for a set of good instructions via Moses – relationship at a distance. Remote love.
And until Jesus arrived millennia later, that was all they had – the voices of prophets. Long distance calls from their Lover. Besides the prophets, the only Israelite who’d ever experience the Father’s closeness, was the high priest on the great day of Atonement when he would venture into the presence of the Shekinah.
But only for atonement. For just one day. Nothing more. Just Plan B.
Everything changed when Jesus arrived. Suddenly there was relationship, intimacy and fun with the Father via his Son. But because of their previous remote relationship via the Torah, the children of Israel did not recognize Him. Through the Torah, they knew the Father so poorly that they did not recognize His full embodiment when Jesus stood before them! Actually, understanding of the Torah was what the leaders of the time employed to kill Him in the end!
And when He ascended to heaven, He sent his Spirit to dwell inside His followers – so He could have day to day, minute by minute intimacy with them. The Torah was safely tucked inside their hearts – the intent of which He would lovingly explain to them by his Spirit on a never-ending journey of sanctification. Plan A was fully deployed and implemented! The Grand Original was in place!
Causing plan B to wither away for lack of necessity and – eventually – lack of interest.
Today we see a revival of Plan B. Some Torah folks deem Plan A to be inferior. They think they understand the Big Plot better than the Father. They love Plan B – distant love – and call it Plan A. They also call it the “Original.”
They say the rest of the Body have everything back-to-front – blissfully ignorant of their own lack of understanding. And they submit good-sounding arguments:
1. The Old Testament came BEFORE the New – right?
2. The New Testament flows forth from the Old – right?
3. The Old Testament foreshadows the New – right?
4. One cannot understand the New if you don’t understand the Old first – right?
5. The patterns of the Old describes the fulfillment of the New – right?
Such people suffer from linear thinking:
“A always comes before B!”
“Therefore, if the Torah came before Jesus, then the Torah must be A, and Jesus must be B!”
[Ironically and amusingly, this is a beautiful example of Greek thinking!]
This thinking constitutes the basic cornerstone of the arguments of almost every international Torah teacher I’ve ever heard. (I can name them if you want, but to save them the embarrassment I won’t).
The entire Torah movement stands on this erroneous assumption:
The Torah was plan A. Jesus was plan B. Jesus flows forth from the Torah.
I’m afraid it’s the Torah teachers who have put the cart before the oxen.
They simply fail to understand the concept of a “delayed plan A”. Somehow they’ve never watched a game where the impact players are only sent on the field in the last quarter of the game. That last quarter was what the entire rest of the game was about. Three quarters of the game is a mere preparation for the final knock-out.
I don’t blame them. They’re just as human as the Israelites of old at Mount Sinai. But one would think that humanity should have learnt something during the past millennia. To repeat the same old mistake of Sinai (opting for Moses and his stone tablets over intimacy) all over again is not exactly smart. To call observance of the stone Torah
LOVE for the Father is … well … love from a distance at best:
Then Moses with his divine revelation remains the mediator. The stones remain in the Ark of the Covenant. We still live off manna. We still dwell the desert. We still hunger. We still thirst. We never arrive. We never enter rest.
This, folks, is possibly the worst insult one can ever slap in the Face of the Spirit of the Father – to shove away His consultation from inside and to substitute Him with a carved slab of rock. To reject His counsel and settle for a human rabbi to expound the Stone Torah on His behalf in a Torah class.
Jesus didn’t flow forth from Torah. Torah flowed forth from the Father – which means that it flowed forth from the Son, because He is in his Father.
The stone Torah was NEVER meant to be the original. It has ALWAYS been, and shall ALWAYS be a temporary ruling. It was ALWAYS Plan B.
Jesus was ALWAYS Plan A! The Extended (New) Covenant – of which He is the High Priest – was the original Plan A. The Covenant of the Spirit – not of the letter – was the original Plan A. But it could not be implemented until the fullness of time – when Jesus finally conquered sin as He rose from the grave by the mighty Hand of his Father.
Enter the Gentiles.
During the course of the past 2000 years, millions and millions of Gentiles (non-Jews) have believed what the Scriptures reveal concerning the reconciliation of Abraham’s spiritual children unto the Father:
Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. – Gal. 3:7.
No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. – Rom. 2:29.
By faith, these Gentiles (non-Jews) are included in the covenant of the Father with Abraham. And by faith in Jesus millions of Gentiles have found salvation. By the mysterious working of the Spirit (not by the Torah) these Gentiles have recognized Jesus and believed that He is the Son of the Father, the Messiah, the promised Seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head.
He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. – 2 Cor. 3:6 During these same 2000 years, millions of Torah-obedient (but Spirit-disobedient) Jews have died unsaved in unbelief unto an eternal pool of fire because they’ve stubbornly refused to recognize Jesus as the promised Messiah.
Because He didn’t suit their understanding of the Torah.
Jews were in the best Position imaginable.
Seen from the position of Torah, these Jews were in the best position imaginable to recognize Jesus – since the entire written Torah (which they devoutly obeyed to the letter) foreshadows Him! The entire culture of Jewish people flows forth from Torah. Of all people in the world, they speak and understand the hues and shades of Biblical Hebrew best. By far. They are familiar with, and understand the idiom and symbolism of the Torah best. They bear the very DNA of Abraham in their flesh.
But despite everything working in their favour, their Torah glasses were unable to let them recognize Jesus as the Messiah when He came. Or thereafter.
Putting on Torah Glasses.
So in our day we see a phenomenon which utterly amazes me:
Torah teachers gather unto themselves believing Gentiles (i.e. these Gentiles who have already recognized Jesus as the Messiah by faith – not by Torah).
Then these teachers encourage their believing Gentile disciples to make giant leaps in terms of language and culture. They teach them Hebrew and its idiom, as well as the cultural interpretations of Torah symbolism – i.e. they issue their students with a pair of Torah glasses.
Then these teachers point out to their students how the Torah foreshadows Jesus:
“Do you see Jesus here … and here … and there … and there …?”
Then all rejoice and say: “How wonderful!”
Hallo? These students have already recognized Jesus through the Spirit by faith (the only way which pleases the Father) unto salvation and sanctification. Long before they even got to Torah classes!
Why issue them with Torah (letter) glasses? Glasses which couldn’t even enable Jews to recognize Jesus? Glasses which require giant cultural and language leaps?
And let’s be honest:
What are most of the exclamations of “How wonderful!” about?
They’re not about Jesus. They’re not about his Person. They’re not because somebody had a deeper revelation of Him. They’re not about a more intimate relationship with
They’re about the intricacies of the shadow. They’re about the beauties and elegance of symbolism, code and ritual. They’re about the mind-boggling way by which the Father had planned and assembled the shadow. They’re about the eloquence of the Hebrew language, its gematria and pictograms. They’re about patterns and its supposed prophecy.
In short, 95% of the “How wonderful”s are about the beauty of the work of the Father’s hands – the shadow.
And although it is right and good to praise the Father for the works of His hands, this is very little different from studying any other works of His hands – and then exclaiming: “How wonderful!”
Like studying Astronomy – the wonders of the earth, the sun, the moon, planets, the stars and galaxies.
Like studying Physiology – the wonderful workings of the human body.
Like studying Ecology – the wonderful way in which nature fits together.
Anybody for a couple of Physical Science classes? As an ex-schoolteacher I have a good number of “How wonderful”s in store for the Torah folks about the works of the Father!” Or would you prefer Maths? :-)
Have we lost our Minds?
In a nutshell:
The Torah teachers mentioned above find Gentiles who recognize and accept Jesus by faith through grace – the only way pleasing the Father. Then they gather these gentiles unto themselves and, after assisting them to make huge linguistic and cultural leaps, teach them to look at Jesus through Torah-glasses – the Father’s plan B, the shadow – which the apostle Paul calls “those weak and miserable principles” (Gal. 4:9).
These Torah teachers are well aware of the fact that the same “weak and miserable principles” were, and still prove to be unable to reveal Jesus to the Jewish nation – those who happen to be in the best position imaginable to interpret the Torah correctly. But still these teachers insist that Gentile believers see Jesus through the glasses of these “weak and miserable principles” – as if the faith by which they already see Him isn’t sufficient! And as if their Inner Rabbi, the Ruach, doesn’t know the Spirit of the Torah or could speak to them!
And to add insult to injury, more often than not these teachers teach their followers to painstakingly follow the LETTER of many of the Torah laws (which kills) – of which the Shabbat is usually first!
Alarmingly, many of these teachers, when asked for clarification on this, in their answers show that they’ve never even contemplated what the SPIRIT of, for example, the Shabbat law would comprise.
For the trees (letter) they literally fail to see the forest (Spirit).
Torah Studies could lead to serious Deception
When, as part of my initial 17 questions, a well-known South African Torah teacher was asked:
“Do you put more emphasis on relationship with Yeshua than Torah knowledge?”
he confidently wrote:
“I cannot see how Y’shua can be divorced from the Torah. He is the Torah.”
It should be pointed out that the question was about “Torah knowledge”, i.e. LETTER.
Taken at face value, this gentleman’s answer seems to imply that he is under the sincere impression that the Torah saved him, since he puts an equal sign between Jesus and the Torah – which not only indicates dire deception, but constitutes outright heresy.
Also, this would mean that if I held a Torah book or scroll in my hand, I would be holding Jesus in my hand – as opposed to Jesus holding ME in HIS hand – which is utter heresy as well.
And, it would mean that Jesus’ coming to earth was a mistake and unnecessary, since Israel already HAD the Torah at the time – which is utter blasphemy.
This teacher is so impressed and taken by the shadow that, for him, the shadow has become the fulfillment. Talk about back-to-front!
He thus puts an equal sign between what the apostle Paul on the one hand calls “weak and miserable principles” and Who the writer of Hebrews on the other hand calls “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Heb. 1:3).
I greatly fear for the spiritual destiny of this man’s disciples.
We are not in the Religion of the Torah.
Followers of Jesus are not in the Religion of the Bible. Much less are they in the Religion of the Torah.
My faith unto salvation is not in Scripture. Scripture helps me greatly to know my Saviour. But my faith is in Jesus.
We’re not in the Religion of a Book. Almost every major religion on earth has a book. We’re in a personal relationship with a Person.
The Scriptures is not a goal in itself. It is merely a means towards a goal. The Goal is Jesus.
As soon as the means would become the goal, I’ve simply lost sight of the Goal!
Grieving the Spirit
My dear fellow believer, I hope I’ve been successful in this session to allocate and bring forward the most basic mistake made in Torah groups who eventually lose their way: Interchanging of Plans A and B.
Simple errors like these have huge spiritual consequences. One of them is that the Spirit of the Living Father always gets grieved and quenched. Eternal Gentleman, He then simply withdraws.
I sincerely don’t want to see you going through what I’ve seen others go through because of letter observance. I sincerely don’t want to see your whole group get entangled and lost in a myriad of tangents that will take you away from everything that was important to Jesus. I don’t want to see good, sincere people getting so hurt that they later don’t want anything to do with Jesus or the Bible ever again.
Dear Jesus, would You please in this moment touch the heart of my brother or sister reading this article, and have them experience the warmth of Your presence by your Spirit. Would You please show them who You are – and reveal Yourself to them by faith.
My Identity in Jesus
Our Road up to Today
Since 2001, Trumpet Call has published several research documentaries on CD, video and DVD.
In the process, we’ve exposed the lies of Freemasonry and the Catholic Church. We’ve documented the manifestations of the Queen of Heaven and her prevalence in today’s denominational churches. We’ve documented the philosophy and manifestations of the Kundalini spirit and its prevalence in pentecostal and charismatic churches.
In the process of exposing lies, we’ve angered many people and made enemies by the hundreds. (Also, by the grace of Jesus, we’ve made friends galore – simple people who love the truth. I thank the Father for them!)
Throughout these years, people pleasing ministry leaders have rejected our “political incorrectness” and distanced themselves from us. Many ministry doors were closed in our faces. For years on end we’ve suffered financial lack and hence much humiliation and embarrassment. We’ve been ridiculed in the media. We’ve been slandered and lied about behind our backs. We’ve been accused, tried and convicted in our absence – more than once by those who claimed to be our friends. Our telephones have been tapped. The members of my family and I have been attacked by spirits at night. Witches have targeted us. I’ve survived several attempts on my life – in the physical as well as the spiritual.
The Response of Torah Folks
But never in my life have I received such an avalanche of hate mail as I did since the publication of this article. Never have I been so sworn at, insulted and cursed. Never have I been threatened so often. Seldom before have I and my family been so spiritually attacked by manipulative witchcraft prayers as during the past months. We could FEEL the darts and daggers in our spirit man.
All in the name of Torah.
Seldom have I had so many technical problems with computers and email. It got to a point where it became so ridiculous that you know it’s demonic.
The non-verbalized message beamed at me via numerous emails from Torah folks was this:
“Eben, you clearly don’t understand how this works:
We aren’t the guys who are supposed to be rebuked. WE are the chosen ones to rebuke others and show them the Way. You have it all wrong, Eben.”
Sadly, if the average email I’ve received from Torah devotees were to be representative of the Spirit of the Father, then I would seriously have to reconsider Christianity and the Bible. But by grace, I have a relationship with Jesus, and know from experience that this does not represent Him.
Friendly emails were few and far between.
Folks, there’s a dark, lurking spirit behind vast parts of the Torah movement. Not all of it, but vast parts. It is not the Spirit of the Father. It is a demonic spirit. And this article was stepping on its toes. Up to the point where it got so uncomfortable that it manifested abundantly via its hosts – in the ways described above. By the discernment of spirits the Lord has shown us exactly what kind of spirit it is:
It is a Religious spirit.
It is the very same spirit that opposed Jesus when He was on earth. It is the very same spirit which conspired against, set the trap for and hunted Him down.
I don’t know at which point this spirit enters an individual. I don’t know at which point it takes hold of a group. What I do know, is that it just LOVES observance of the letter, with all the associated religious bells and whistles.
To those who have ears – let them hear.
My Identity in the Torah – a Disaster!
A baby’s identity is in its mother. It has no identity of its own.
When it gets older, its identity gets based in both parents.
When it goes through puberty and adolescence, it starts out to discover its own identity.
It asks itself: “Who am I? Who do I want to be? Who do I want to be known as? What kind of person do I need to be in order to be comfortable and secure with myself?
Sadly, teenagers often build their identity on stupid things, things that spring forth from doubtful value systems – like physical appearance, cell phone brand, status amongst peers, etc.
When they enter the world of grown-ups, many continue this sad trend.
They build their identity on possessions, money, sexuality, influence, power, social status, etc.
Some with stronger value systems build their identity on self-devised ethics, standards and norms, belief systems – and religion.
Every single one of the above identity foundations represents a disaster waiting to happen:
One can lose one’s physical appearance, cell phone and status. Likewise, possessions, money, sexuality, influence, power and social status all possess a notorious non-permanence.
And similarly, even ethics, standards, belief systems and religion could be non-permanent – the only thing needed to topple them is some powerful disillusion with whatever one has valued before.
The same is true for the Torah. Although good and perfect, it was never meant to provide a basis for one’s identity. Nevertheless, many have used it in the past for exactly that purpose.
When I lose my Identity
What happens when a person loses his identity?
The person does not know who he is anymore. He becomes unsure how to respond to stimuli. He loses his ability to navigate himself through the treacherous waters of everyday life. He loses his ability to assess whatever life might throw at him. He loses his moral compass.
In short – he is in the middle of a serious personal crisis!
Jealously protecting my Identity
And in the same way that a child would, as he grows up, learn to stay away from things that might physically harm him, he learns to stay away from anything that might trigger an identity crisis.
But sometimes in life it becomes impossible to avoid physical harm. Sometimes it comes your way, hunts you down and hurts you!
So how do we then usually respond?
Well, we defend ourselves: In life-threatening situations our primal survival instinct prompts us to fight for our lives! Then rules don’t apply any more. You do whatever is necessary to survive. Even the justice system recognizes that.
So what do we do when our identity gets hunted down?
Well, we defend ourselves in the very same way. Rules don’t apply anymore. You do whatever might be needed to avoid an identity crisis. You fight for your “life”!
This is exactly how Torah people responded when I started this article. They somehow seemed to view me as their enemy, hunting down their identity. And they started fighting for their lives - rules forgotten.
You swear and curse.
You bite and scratch.
You growl and spit.
The Identity Crisis of some Torah Folks
There are no better symptoms than those mentioned above to demonstrate that we’re dealing with an identity crisis. Which means that many folks have built their identity on the Torah and the way they interpret it.
Since the letter of the Torah happens to be such a comprehensive “recipe for life” and would encompass almost every aspect of an individual’s personal life and behaviour, it could serve as a most powerful force to determine identity. And because the letter of the Torah has as its aim set-apartness, it causes adherents to become extremely and radically different from the rest of society. And most often we find that Torah folks find their very identity in their “differentness”. And although there is certainly nothing wrong with living a set-apart life, building one’s identity on letter obedience spells havoc.
These people know that if such identity were to change (by substituting letter obedience with Spirit obedience) they simply wouldn’t know who they were anymore. They wouldn’t know how to behave anymore. They wouldn’t know how to assess anything that life might throw at them anymore.
Growing into the Image of Jesus
… and become mature,
attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves,
and blown here and there by every wind of teaching
and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.
Instead, speaking the truth in love,
we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head,
that is, Christ.
- Gal. 4:13 – 15.
The ultimate aim of a follower of Jesus is not be Torah observant.
My ultimate aim is to grow up, to mature into the image of Jesus by his Spirit – so we can serve as co-workers in the Father’s Kingdom.
He is my Rock. He is my Fortress.
He is THE ONLY ONE with Whom my identity will be safe forever.
He will never be obsolete.
He is unshakable.
He is indestructible.
He can never be surprised.
He cannot be eroded.
He cannot be undermined.
He cannot be corrupted.
He cannot be conquered.
He will never forsake me
He will never disappoint me.
He knows everything there is to know.
He permeates the very life of everything that is.
He is everywhere.
He has all authority.
He has all power.
He is the Beginning.
He is the End.
He is the WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE!
Defending the Stone Torah forever in order to preserve one’s Identity is HARD!
My dear Torah friend:
If you have built your identity on anyone or anything but Jesus, you are a disaster waiting to happen!
Do you really want to forever carry on defending adherence to the Stone Torah with your life – in order to preserve your Torah identity? If so, you’re opting for a hard and difficult life. You might get tired, because many other followers of Jesus also understand the New Covenant. Obedience of the letter is simply not worth your life-long efforts.
There is a much better and more excellent route: Jesus.
Learn to hear and recognize the inner voice of his Spirit. Obey Him. Speak to Him. Worship and love Him.
Jesus is the kindest Person I know.
For me, personally:
I am a South African, yes, but over and above that I’m a follower of Jesus.
I am subject to the SA Constitution, yes, but over and above that I’m a follower of Jesus.
I have political preferences, yes, but over and above that I’m a follower of Jesus.
I prefer to speak Afrikaans, yes, but over and above that I’m a follower of Jesus.
I am white-skinned, yes, but over and above that I’m a follower of Jesus.
I love my culture, yes, but over and above that I’m a follower of Jesus.
I am a husband and a dad, yes, but over and above that I’m a follower of Jesus.
I support the Stormers and Western Province, yes, but over and above that I’m a follower of Jesus.
I drive a Volkswagen and Honda, yes, but over and above that I’m a follower of Jesus.
I greatly value the Bible and Torah, yes, but over and above that I’m a follower of Jesus.
I greatly value prayer and intercession, yes, but over and above that I’m a follower of Jesus.
My identity is in Him, and hopefully in nothing else!
Some things the Torah is NOT
The Torah was never meant to save anybody.
The Torah was never Plan A.
The Torah can never replace the Ruach.
The Torah was never meant to be the object of any relationship.
The letter of the Torah was never intended to continue past Pentecost.
The Torah was never intended to serve as the basis of any Christian’s identity.
Some things the Torah USED TO BE
The Torah was meant as instruction to avoid curses and live a blessed life.
The Torah was added to find a way to deal with sin until Jesus would come.
The Torah foreshadowed Jesus.
The Torah was a supervisor for an immature people.
The letter of the Torah was the recipe for life in the Old Testament.
The Torah was a schoolmaster to bring Jews to Christ – to be saved by faith.
Some things the Torah IS
The Torah reveals to us the origin of all things.
The Stone Torah remotely reveals the Father.
The Stone Torah mandates Jesus as the Messiah.
The Stone Torah has a prophetic function.
The Flesh Torah intimately reveals Jesus, and through Him, the Father.
The Flesh Torah is our guarantee towards an abundant NT life!
The Flesh Torah mandates our road of sanctification.
What is the true, but limited value of Hebrew Roots and Torah groups?
1. Hebrew Roots teaches us to read our Bibles from a Hebrew perspective – which radically improves the perception that Western folks have of the Bible.
2. Hebrew Roots serves as an excellent tool to lead Jewish people to Jesus.
But I struggle to find any further valuable applications of Hebrew Roots. Anything beyond the values above seriously sets off alarm bells and red lights.
At which points do Hebrew Roots and Torah groups veer off course?
1. At any point where the “Hebrew perspective” mentioned above narrows down to “an Old Covenant Hebrew perspective”. Or a Judaic perspective.
2. At any point where the Hebrew perspective serves to mandate, obscure or soothe the presence of idols in our hearts – such as racism, religiosity, intellectualism, the Hebrew language, power, influence, legalism, etc.
3. At any point where the Hebrew perspective serves as a coping mechanism for emotional or spiritual woundedness – such as insecurity, pride, rejection, rebellion, etc.
4. At any point where literal Torah observance mandates personal identity.
5. At any point where the letter of the Torah starts to replace the voice of the Spirit.
6. At any point where the Book replaces the Person.
7. At any point where study replaces relationship.
8. At any point where busyness replaces godliness.
9. At any point where knowledge exceeds maturity.
Dear Jesus, I pray that in this moment by your Spirit you would ease and take away the fear of loss of personal identity in the reader of this article. Please comfort this person by the warmth your Spirit, and grant forgiveness where repentance is made.
Here are my reasons as a Gentile believer for leaving the Hebrew Roots Movement:
1. The people in the group become concerned mostly with all things "Jewish" – eventually all striving to become "Jewish".
2. They are convinced that somewhere in their bloodlines, they must have had Jewish ancestors.
3. Mysticism and secrecy starts creeping in – parts of Judaism and deception starts taking a hold.
4. Rituals begin to take place such as observing Shabbat, traditional Jewish prayers, secular Jewish holidays, visiting synagogues, etc.
5. Learning Hebrew so that it can be spoken amongst the group.
6. Reading of the Torah each Saturday morning.
7. Singing mostly Hebrew P&W songs even including some Israeli traditional songs.
8. Reading mostly Old Testament Bible – little from the New Testament.
9. Such things as never using the name "Jesus" or writing out God's name in full, or it's sinful to eat pork or bacon, etc.
10. They become performance orientated, having to observe the strict Jewish ways.
11. Shunning brothers and sisters who don't adhere to certain "Laws" or observances.
12. They believe they are an elite group chosen by the Lord – the only ones who know "the truth".
13. They break away from "The Christian Church" and form small Torah groups.
14. They are both "born-again" believers in Jesus the Christ who has saved them from eternal damnation and also followers steeping themselves in rituals of the Jewish nation who still await the appearance of their "Messiah".
15. They say they can't fit into society and therefore desire to go and live in the Holy land Israel, even if God has not called them to – eventually the group loses all perspective of who they actually are in Jesus Christ. As born-again Gentile believers we are to provoke the Jewish people to jealousy; that is to be God's instrument of stirring them up to the realisation of their need for the gospel news of salvation, like any other nation on Earth. The Jew should be able to see the light, truth, love and freedom of Jesus in true believers.
Yes, Israel and it's beloved people are not forgotten by the Lord nor will Father God ever forsake them. Yes, they are the nation that God has chosen to use in the final days and where Jesus will return to. Yes, we are called to pray for the peace of Jerusalem but we are not called to convert to Judaism or to practice any things Jewish.
Abba Father, in Jesus’ name I pray for my brothers and sisters who belong to you but who are being held captive in this movement by spirits of lies and deception, pride and arrogance, fear and confusion. Please soften their hardened hearts with Your melting, loving kindness – please begin to woo them away from these groups with Your absolute truth through the power of Your Holy Spirit. We love them Lord and we long to have them back amongst us. Thank you Lord that we can put our trust in You alone.
Blessings to you.
Next, a testimony from a minister:
The first thing that struck me was the strong Hebrew theme to this Christian Community (where the kundalini is active) in this small town.
The theme extended from clothing, to food, to festivals …
The strongest advocate was a woman, who lives as if she is 100% Hebrew, right down to “Jewish” humour. She is convinced and openly proclaims that she is Jewish – although she has no proof/reason to say so. She is also exceedingly influential in the congregation and her marriage – and disruptive in group work. She is also regarded (her admission) as “peculiar” by the larger community.
Ministering to and teaching them was distracting, there were ram horns being blown, Jewish flags being waved and so on. This was met by my team in prayer, after which all these “festivities” immediately ceased, persons then took their seats -and ministry continued normally.
Hier’s ‘n Afrikaanse een:
Hi Oom Eben
Ek wil net dankie sê vir jul gehoorsaamheid aan die Gees om hierdie e-posse te skryf en beskikbaar te maak aan die publiek ten spyte van teenstand.
Ons hele vriendeking wat almal tot radikale bekering gekom het, het die laaste twee jaar al dieper in die Hebrew Roots in beweeg. Ons het al die feasts gehou, begin om Hebreeus te leer en dit gesien as ‘n heiliger taal, begin kosher eet, tallits, shofars, you name it. Ons het parshahs begin lees en later boeke en boeke van kommentaar op die parshas. Dit het gelei dat ons amper nooit tyd gehad het om by die Nuwe Testament uit te kom nie. Ek het selfs mense jammer gekry wat nog die naam Jesus gebruik!
Ons almal het so ‘n dood oor ons geeste begin voel en condemnation omdat ons nie by al hierdie standaarde kon hou wat ons vir onsself gestel het nie. En ek het so onsensitief geraak vir die Gees, ek kon nie meer intercede soos ek voorheen kon nie. Vader se stem het al hoe sagter begin word en ek het al hoe meer gewens dat ek terug kon gaan na daardie eerste dae ná my bekering. Daar was ‘n skuldlas op my skouers soos nog nooit tevore nie. Ek het ook begin dink dat ek nie net een commandment kan hou en nie die ander nie, so ek sou ALMAL moes hou! Die gedagte daaraan het my begin insluk en ek het nie kans gesien om dit te doen nie.
Ek wou al vandat ek ‘n jong dogtertjie is Frans leer, maar ek het begin voel hoe durf ek eerder Frans wil leer as Hebreeus, dis seker net my ‘flesh’ wat dit wil doen. Ons almal het begin besef dat iets nie reg is nie, maar ons kon nie presies besluit wat dit was of hoekom nie.
Oom se e-posse het op die perfekte tyd gekom en die spyker op die kop geslaan! Halleluyah! Dit het regtig daardie dinge kom ontbloot wat tussen my en Jesus gestaan het. Ek het alles bely en wil net van voor af Sy stem hoor en loop in Sy wil – uitgaan en iets doen!
As jou skrywe net was om my uit die Torah Roots te kry, dan sê ek DANKIE! Ek is al 15 jaar in die ding, maar ek prys die Here dat Hy my bewaar het dat ek nooit "Joods" wou raak nie! Tog was ek solidly in die Torah teachings ens, ens. Maar die Heilige Gees het aan my begin "krap". Vandat ek jou eerste mail oor die "Roots" gekry het, het ek besef dat die Heilige Gees jou gebruik om ons te waarsku!!!
Die Vader het my net genade gegee om te sien 1) in hoeveel PRIDE ons loop en 2) hoe n verskriklike rol DIE MIND/KENNIS in dit alles speel!
Eben, dis DOOD, want die Gees is nie daar nie!!! En ek wil amper sover gaan om te se God/Jesus (met al die redenasies oor wat ons Hom mag noem!!!) is ook nie daar nie, want dit gaan nie oor Hom nie - ons het Torah (d.i. geskrewe een) -aanbidders geword!!!
Wel Eben, danksy jou en die Here se werking in en deur jou, het ek "bedank", uitgeklim, whatever!!! Ek het met my groepleier probeer praat, maar weet jy, hulle HOOR mens nie!!!! Ek het op n baie mooi en liefdevolle manier net vir hulle gesê ek is KLAAR met die Roots!!!! WAT 'N VRYHEID!!!!
So, met die lang gesels wil ek net se DANKIE!!! En ek huil soos ek hier sit want ek besef net die Here is ontsettend genadig!!!!
Hier is my getuienis:
I have personally been following Trumpet Call for over 10 years and regard Eben Swart as one of the leading Spiritual researchers in South Africa.
His latest work regarding “Hebrew Roots South Africa in crisis” is a prompt and timely tool in the hand of the discerning believer. I was fortunate to be present at the first reading of the rough draft of the article to find Eben moved to tears with compassion for the church as well as the 1000s being misled by this doctrine of demonic origin.
It was then that I realized the weight of this serious issue facing the body of Christ. It is the same spirit that worked through the Pharisees and religious leaders opposing Jesus directly and makes the spirit behind this movement anti-Christ. I have also witnessed the devastating effects of this doctrine firsthand and believe it to be very poisonous.
Thank you Eben, we now have the knowledge you have again given us to fight the good fight of faith in defending the truth of the only Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Ps. Jack Martin
Another one from an ex-Hebrew Rooter:
We managed to be set free by the Spirit of the God of Abraham, Yitsaq and Ya’acof only when we came to understand that:
The Name of our Almighty Father is indeed “Yod Hey Vav Hey” but as yet the correct pronunciation has not been revealed to any person. Where the Spirit of the Almighty Father is not present, the Spirit of Confusion reigns. Note: There is no grammatical rules in personal pronouns.
Proving one statement incorrect, does not automatically by default make the other alternative correct.
The use of the names of other gods in the days of the week and months is not a sin. The correct translation of “do not let the names of other gods pass your lips” is in actual fact “ do not give priority or acknowledgement to the working of other gods”.
The constant “in-fighting” and slandering amongst people confirm that the Spirit of the God of Abraham, Yitsaq and Ya’acof is not present.
Where there is no Prayer and no true Worship – beware, for the Holy Spirit is not there.
A cult is described as exclusive with exclusive knowledge and if you don’t belong to them you cannot tap into this knowledge or have eternal life. Sounds familiar?
Another one in Afrikaans:
So ‘n wyle terug het ek by ‘n Torah-groepie aangesluit, omdat ek meer van die Hebreeuse wortels van my geloof te wete wou kom.
Ons is aangeraai om die voorgeskrewe gedeeltes in die Ou Testament, of Torah (soos wat ortodokse Jode wêreldwyd doen) daagliks te bestudeer, sowel as die kommentare van verskeie rabbi’s wat daarmee saam gegaan het. En aanvanklik het dit goed gegaan, dit was fassinerend om die Torah te ontdek soos wat Jode dit interpreteer.
My probleem het begin toe geen teenargumente werklik geduld was nie – my eposse met ander sieninge is net geignoreer. Dit was asof die feit dat iemand ‘n “Messiaanse Jood” is, hom outomaties kwalifiseer om die enigste waarheid oor ‘n saak te kan insien.
Die hele Jood vs Gentile saak is so gestel: Aanvanklik was daar ‘n skeiding tussen Jode en Gentiles, en die Jode het God, die tien gebooie, die Torah ens. gehad. Die gentile: niks. Toe het Christus die skeiding tussen die twee weggevat, en dit beteken nou dat die gentile, wat mos niks gehad het nie, nou ook vir God, die tien gebooie, en die Torah het. Eenwording as Jode moet dus eers plaasvind voordat die gentile vir God aanneemlik sal wees. Terwyl ek nie sien dat 2 Kor 5:17 ‘n onderskeid maak tussen groepe mense nie, dit lyk vir my asof daar in daardie vers gesê word ALMAL word nuut, dus sekerlik Jode ook?
Dit was toe mense begin gesels oor hoe moeilik dit dan nou is om net linne te koop en dra, (wol en linne mag nie volgens Torah wette gemeng word nie); en hoe die kinders dit moeilik verstaan as hulle ma’s Saterdae niks mag doen nie, wat beteken dat Pa maar die kinders moet rondry en inkopies doen en skottelgoed was ens; en een dame begin wonder hoe sy haar man en seuns gaan oortuig om besny te word; dat die gevaarligte vir my helder begin brand het.
Want die feit dat Jesus die volle omvang van al wat ‘n wet is kom vervul het, beteken vir my dat Hy alleen in staat is en was om AL die wette namens my perfek te onderhou! En omdat Hy dit namens my kom doen het, hoef ek niks te doen nie, ek moet Hom alleen liefhê en gehoorsaam!
Ek is nie teen bv Shabat hou op Vrydagaande nie – dit is ‘n wonderlike manier om die familie bymekaar te bring. En ook hou ek daarvan om bewus te wees van die Bybelse feeste, en hou ons so nou en dan bv die Loofhuttefees. Dit is ‘n wonderlike manier om kinders Bybelwaarhede te leer. Maar as dit belangrik word dat Joodse gebruike en feeste deel van my identiteit in Christus moet wees, het ek daarmee ‘n probleem.
This one is from a subscriber to a different newsletter:
I have listened to HR/Messianic teachings off and on (not really getting "into it") but I heard enough to get me to stop eating "unkosher" meats and become afraid of breaking Sabbath, etc. When you sent out these two newsletters, I did not actually know what to think, so I just left it alone. But later, I realized that your letters were seeds of truth that God would use to bring me out of these deceptions. I want to share with you how He pulled me out of it because this movement is far more dangerous than people realize.
Over the past 3 years, I was lured into the HR/Messianc movement. At first, it is like a "gateway" drug, just listening to "soft" Hebrew roots teachings like Mark Biltz and Bill Cloud. But later, it's like you need stronger drugs, so then you start dabbling into Monte Judah and Rico Cortez. By this time, spiritual bondage begins to set in because so many seeds have been planted into the heart and mind, that now it's time for an even stronger drug. That's when people begin to move into the more extremes like Michael Rood and Avi Ben Mordechai, etc.
By the time a believer has made his way into the more extreme groups, the bondage is full-blown and very difficult to get out of. Fortunately, I never made it to the more extreme teachers, but it was enough to blind me severely.
The Lord has recently opened my eyes and brought me correction concerning the doctrines and teachings of the HR/Messianic movement. By His grace, I was able to break from the very powerful demonic bondage of those false doctrines they teach. After He opened my eyes, it felt like I came out of a very long dream – I was stunned, and it almost did not seem real. That is how powerful those demonic spirits are.
I would also like to add that in the process of the Lord bringing me out of this demonic stronghold, He showed me something that I think every Christian must become aware of: this HR/Messianic movement is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS and EXTREMELY DECEPTIVE. I do not make these statements lightly nor in exaggeration. I will share with you part of the process of how He brought me out of this so you can understand my concern.
First, the Lord permitted the adversary (through demonic spirits of various sorts) to torment me, both body and mind. As I sought Him in extended fasting, He showed me various visions to lead me to the truth; two of these visions occurred back-to-back, that is, two nights in a row. These two visions were messages telling me that there was a "breach" in my hedge of protection. The following night, He gave a vision and a verse of Scripture. Rather than detailing the vision itself, I'll just share the main message of the vision, which was this:"You have lost your ability to receive forgiveness."
As you can tell, this is no light matter!! To put it in Paul's terms: "You have fallen from grace."
The verse that accompanied this last vision was 2 Corinthians 4:2:
"But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God."
He then led me to look up the word "craftiness" in the original Greek, which is "Panourgia," Strong's 3834. The meaning that the Holy Spirit slapped me in the face with was "specious wisdom." I had not heard this word before, so I looked it up, and this is what it means: apparently correct or true, but actually wrong or false.
* Names changed on author’s request.
If you consider yourself part of the Hebrew Roots or Torah movements, I would humbly submit to you that what I’ve tried to communicate in the course of twelve sessions comprises deep concern about these movements. I sincerely hope that I could communicate the content of my message to you in a digestible format – on both intellectual and emotional levels.
My quest is not to be “right”, or even “more right” than others. My motive is not to point out where others have erred or stumbled and then to scoff at them.
I have gained absolutely nothing by writing this article – in fact, it costs me dearly. But I have to obey the urgent Voice of the Spirit within me. For me, disobedience to that Voice would be far more disastrous than whatever any Torah movement could throw at me. So I simply obey.
Once again, I would like to iterate that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with Messianism, Torah studies or Hebrew Roots. People merely pervert it and “take it too far”.
My concern lies with the Kingdom of Heaven. My compassion is with the Body of Christ. If anything hurts the body, it hurts me as a part of it.
I hope that I could be instrumental in deterring you from evil. I hope that I could clarify at least some deceptions to you. I hope that, in the minefield of doctrines, I could point out at least a couple which you should seriously avoid.
And if you would dare to be honest towards yourself – is your group free from these deceptions? Or is your teacher constantly wrestling the boundaries of sound New Covenant teaching further and further afield?
Have you escaped from the prison of Christian Institutionalism just to walk open-eyed into the prison of Torah-ism across the street? Have its steel gates already shut and locked behind you?
If so, get out! Rather sooner than later. Repent of your folly.
And, by faith, throw yourself headlong onto the grace of the Father in Jesus the Messiah by the power of their mighty Spirit.