“Paul is hard to understand.” Like me, you probably hear this all of the time. I finally had to start rethinking Paul. Whatever position I arrived at, I knew that it had to agree with the Apostle Peter.
Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace.  And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him,  as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.  You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.  But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
2 Peter 3:14-18
Peter clearly admits Paul is ‘hard to understand’, but also admits that his writings fit with ‘the other Scriptures.’ I decided that I must be missing something or not seeing Paul correctly. I had to rethink or re frame him.
Recently we had a comment here on the blog and a portion of that comment expresses exactly what has me concerned. And they are not alone in this difficulty.
“Since we know that Paul’s teachings/letters have done huge damage in getting people off track, as they are truly stumbling blocks, then why do so many messianic pastors try to ok his teaching against Torah and try to ok it? Yeshua warned us that the false tare words would remain till the end! And they sure have. Our Abba didn’t allow mixture then and He doesn’t allow it now. We had better be careful when we use Paul’s mixed teachings. I want nothing to do with stumbling blocks!.”
Part of my concern is that many in the Torah walk have minimized or even outright rejected Paul’s letters! This is a very dangerous thing to do! Supposedly, Paul upheld and taught the Torah. Is it possible we misunderstand Paul because we are looking through the wrong lens?
One thing that I think we often forget when we read Paul is one of the most basic rules of Bible study. CONTEXT IS KING. We often consider the surrounding context of Scripture, but we fail to understand the circumstantial or cultural context of his audience. So let’s consider the context of Paul and his writings.
Food poisoning is not a pleasant experience. In fact, sometimes it can be quite serious leading to hospitalization or death. Nobody plans for it, rather it usually occurs because of some minute unnoticed contaminate in the food that negatively affects the body. Sources could be fecal, bacterial, parasitic, or even viral. We are familiar with names that strike fear, such as e. coli, salmonella, campylobacter, toxoplasmosis, rotavirus, etc.
But, what if the contaminate is visible? Would we remove it? Or, like a turd in the punch bowl, would we just dip around it assuming we can ignore or ‘dodge’ it?
Most who desire the coming of the Messiah, whether Jews, Christians or any shade in between (Messianic Judaism/Hebrew roots/Torah pursuant/etc) seem to prefer to dodge the obvious contaminant in the punch bowl. Let’s consider some challenging things.
It started after Shabbat when I asked a young man in our fellowship what he wanted to study for and do when he finished school. He just shrugged his shoulders and said, “What’s the use? I’m gonna die anyway?”
I probed him with a couple more questions to diagnose the problem and quickly figured out that he was deeply concerned about the state of the world and the coming Great Tribulation. In his mind, there is nothing much to live for.
My immediate response was a vigorous reminder that we have at least 1000 years to go! The Tribulation is not the end. It is a beginning!! A beginning to the millennial reign! Others gathered around, wondering what the hubbub was, and it turned into a wonderful impromptu lesson for all who had lingered.
I’m sitting here staring at my screen. Writing feels a bit like blood letting. Yet, my brain is totally full and I have no idea where to begin, which string to pull first so the dam will beak.
For weeks, months even, I have been pondering the many facets of the restoration of kol Israel. One might call it a minor obsession because it is where my thoughts go when nothing else pressing is at the forefront. Among those thoughts, I have been juggling the hot potatoes that few have the courage to touch, subjects that draw extreme ire and irrational unbiblical pushback. Post titles float across my mind, titles like Feminism and the Destruction of Western Culture, or Patriarchy, God’s Solution that Everybody Hates, or Where have all the Men Gone and Why don’t they Care?
Most whom I have conversations with concerning the restoration of Israel, the return of the whole House of Israel and what it will look like, have a lilting dreamy character to their voice until they understand that to be successful, we must divorce ourselves from Western Greek influences. It is one thing for most to erase Christmas or Easter and the many unbiblical elements absorbed from the nations, but it is another matter entirely to realize that future Israel will Continue reading “Restoring kol Israel: The ‘lost’ first post…”
Kelly and I are back in the Land, aka
Israel, for the next three glorious weeks. We are blessed to have
the opportunity to lead the Ani Yosef Sukkot trip and to attend a
couple small conferences concerning the restoration of Israel.
After a late start this morning due to
little sleep while traveling we headed out for a several hour hike
out of the moshav and through a part of the Hakedoshim Forest. The
‘Forest of the Holy Ones.’
We walked and talked. Stopped a couple
places to pray and simply drink in the beauty.
As we talked, she mentioned, “I look
forward to the day when everything is green again.”
I said, “It is green! Everywhere.”
“I’m not color-blind,” she
“I understand what you are saying,
dear, but I already see it as
green.” Then it hit me. I pondered and as we kept walking, I said,
“I think often we are prophecy-blind like being color-blind. We
don’t see things by
faith as if they already are!”
Why are you alive? Fifty years after you die, what will have been the value of your life? How will people remember you? Will they remember you?
While ultimately, life is not so self centered as to be about my or your existence, few of us think deeply enough about our reason for being or living.
Recently, my wife and I, along with our eldest, attended a retreat focused on Biblical headship and patriarchy, our third such with this group. It was a refreshing gathering of believers from a number of different Christian/Hebraic backgrounds with the common passion for understanding marriage and headship from a decidedly Biblical perspective. Besides the interesting fact that is was fun to rub shoulders with Christians who don’t see or understand Torah as necessary while decidedly rejecting feminism and matriarchy based on the ‘old Testament Law,’ it was cathartic to hear from others who have experienced rejection from friends and family because they choose truth over tradition in this area. But, I digress.
If we set our course out of consideration for what others may think or concern for how this group or that group will accept us, then we are guaranteed to fail. If, however, we base our course on the unassailable truths of Scripture, then our Guardian will overwatch and protect with a shield known only to those who enter complete submission to the will of the Almighty and His Word. May we be so bold, so daring, as to cast off the moors of western culture and tradition in favor of returning to the tribal lifestyle of a Biblically Hebraic people. No other course will return us to the Land.
On several recent trips to Israel, I have watched with interest the construction of a high speed rail from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The rail, significantly, connects Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem via a non-stop, 28 minute luxury trip for just 11 NIS. Very, very convenient and nice. I can’t wait to ride this ‘magic carpet made of steel‘ at Shavuot.
The Jerusalem Post Magazine has a fantastic article about the rail line as well as a mild chiding of the Israeli media for their incessant negative reporting surrounding the line, inspite of excellent service, wonderful experiences and glowing reports from users. I read the article and it only increased my excitement to ride. You’ll have to check it out yourself…
But, the article had a few lines that jangled my thoughts. The author very nicely recounted aspects of Theodore Herzl’s vision and the fulfillment that even this high speed train is a part of. One quote that really caught my attention follows,
Lately, I have found a new use for YouVersion. Call me slow, but it only took me about two months to figure out that they have added an audio icon allowing the Scriptures to be heard instead of (or simultaneously while) read. The benefit for me is that I spend hours on the road each week with my job and I can much more easily redeem the time.
About ten days ago I started listening to Jeremiah and just let it run. I turn it on as soon as I get on the road and pause it at each work stop. The result is that by Friday afternoon, I found myself in 1 John, having listened to nearly half of the Bible. I can’t wait to finish and start over at Genesis.
While my mind may be wandering through many thoughts as I drive, I know Truth is going in and, at the very least, it is being absorbed by my subconscious. And, this opens a whole ‘nother discussion about the very real physical changes, even at the DNA level (scientifically proven, cue Tzefania Pappas’ presentation at the 3rd Bney Yosef Congress), that occur in the brain based on what we are putting in. Kelly, my wife, would offer a supporting opinion based on Switch ON Your Brain, by Dr. Caroline Leaf. But, I digress.