Media File The question often arises, "What parts of the Law are gentiles responsible for?" The question bespeaks an attitude that laws are somehow negative and to be avoided where possible. This misses the point of Torah, God's instructions for leading a successful life. The Torah was given as a blessing to the people God chose for His own.
2022-12-24 Chanukah - Government out of Control
Media File Chanukah is the celebration of the rebellion against an oppressive government with the help of God. The story mirrors that of the Exodus and has echoes of the American Revolution. In all three stories the catylist is excessive taxation. In Exodus, God does the fighting, but in the other two God's presence is indicated by giving victory to overmatched rebel forces.
2022-12-17 Unwarranted Pride
Media File Humility is considered a mark of spiritual maturity. The US emphasis on self esteem has resulted in a society whose spiritual growth has been short circuited. We are seeing the fruits in things like the various pride movements which wash over us from month to month, each with its own flag and logo. We are seeing the fruits in the push to change one's gender - by violent surgery if necessary. Stupidity is not a good national survival strategy - God will eventually intervene if we do not change direction ourselves.
2022-12-10 Spiritual Mechanics
Media File In the spiritual realm, just like in the physical world, when something is set into motion it keeps going until it is stopped. In Jacob's life he set deceit into motion when he stole the blessing from Esau. We see that it is a major theme in his life. Laban deceives him about his bride. His sons deceive Shechem about Dinah, and his sons deceive him when the sell Joseph into slavery. The reason this was set into motion and what it took to stop it has application for our lives today.
2022-12-03 Keys to the Kingdom
Media File The Bible has a number of stories about servants left to manage the estate while the master is away. In order to manage the estate, the steward must be entrusted with access to the master's goods. Sometimes the absence is short sometimes extensive, but the master always expects an accounting of the servant's stewardship. So too with our Master who has been away for some 2000 years so far. He has left us the Holy Spirit as the key to His goods on this earth. He will expect an accounting of how we used that key when He returns.
Media File God says that He preferred Jacob over Esau. While all of His reasons are not clear, one character trait of Esau's that stands out is his lack of gratitude. His behavior closely mirrors what Moses warns about in Dt 8. He seems to believe that it is his own skill and effort that have given him success and has not given thanks to God for his talents. In this we can see the prevalent attitude in the United States today.
Media File Making good decisions can lead to life and blessing; bad ones to calamity or death. What does the Bible have to say about how to make decisions and how to inquire of God in difficult circumstances?
2022-11-12 Righteousness Bends Justice
Media File In Genesis 18 Abraham negotiates with God over the destruction of Sodom. His argument is that it would be unjust for God to destroy the city if there were as many as ten righteous in the place. God agreed. It turns out that there is a deep connection between that negotiation and Sarah's unbelieving laugh when God announces she will have a son. Inspired by Rabbi Fohrman at AlephBeta.org
2022-11-05 Counted for Righteousness
Media File In Genesis 15 God makes promises to Abram. Abram believes those promises which is counted to him for righteousness. In Romans 1-4 Paul builds an argument for human responsibility on that passage. He also demonstrates that God's law is a gift of grace and was never intended to save. Only faith will do that.
Media File In the first four chapters of Genesis we are told of our purpose, our nature and God's nature. We learn that we can have a relationship with our creator. We also learn that He gives us free will and does not interfere with its exercise. We learn that choices have consequences. We learn that the related sins of covetousness and envy lead to death. Finally we learn that God allows us to choose between life and death and that He desires that we choose life.
2022-10-15 This is not Our Home
Media File God's appointed times throughout the year help to keep us mindful that He has a plan and that we have a part to play in that plan. Succot reminds us that this world is not our ultimate home and that we look for another while we sojourn here. Looking around, it appears that history is at an inflection point similar to that which spawned the Reformation. The established order has lost control of the social narrative and competing voices are gaining traction.
2022-10-08 The Song
Media File Moses' final instruction to his people is a song which tells of Israel's history past and future. It is intended to provide them with hope and a way back after the long series of calamity and exiles that they would suffer if they forgot God. What does that song tell us today? How is it relevant to our current situation?
2022-10-01 Days of Awe
Media File During the time between Yom Teruah and Yom Kippur it is good to focus on your purpose and on where you have fallen short during the past year. It is also a time for repairing damaged relationships if possible. There is a process for doing this.
2022-09-24 Creation and Meaning
Media File Secular science is being dragged to the realization that everything was created by God. While that is not news to believers, it does have some very interesting ramifications which have bearing on the Holy Days coming up. A creator outside of the universe means that He has a purpose in view and we have meaning within that purpose. Further it means that standards of conduct are given by Him and not invented ad hoc. Finally, since we are made in His image, we have the ability to control our various appetites just as He set limits on the creation. These realizations have bearing on preparation for the Holy Days.
Media File Deuteronomy is Moses' final set of instructions to the people he has led for 40 years. In Ki Tavo he winds up the list of curses by saying that they will come about because of a lack of joy in their relationship with God. In John 14-17 Y'shua prepares his disciples for his crucifixion. There also the overwhelming message is one of joy. What is this joy and how does it differ from mere happiness?
2022-09-10 A Beautiful Captive
Media File In capturing a city, it might be that a warrior finds a beautiful woman among the captives and desires her. Dt 21:10 explains the process of turning such a captive into a wife. This may seem archaic and a bit barbaric today, but it has profound meaning in God's plan of redemption. It also is important to us as we prepare for the High Holy Days.
2022-09-03 Final Briefing
Media File At the Last Supper Y'shua gave a final briefing to His Disciples telling them what was to come. While they did not fully comprehend, He was preparing them for His Resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit. In this briefing He describes the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Media File In Parsha Re'eh Moses says to stone anyone who tries to entice you to worship other gods. He explicitly says that even those closest to are not to be excepted. In Luke 15 Y'shua says the world will hate His followers even to the point of murder. Where then is the 'virtue' of tolerance in all this? Are we not also commanded not to oppress the stranger? Today we are flooded with those who are strange. How should we navigate this?
2022-08-06 Tisha B Av Losing the Plot
Media File In Devarim Moses relates the sin of the spies which caused Israel to delay entering the land for 40 years. The spies were faced with the same problem we all deal with. God and His promises are of heaven but the world is in your face. When faced with immediate problems our hearts will try to keep our focus there instead of on the eternal things of God. That is what Jeremiah means when he says the heart is deceitful. Learning to discern between the immediate and the important is one of the great lessons of this life.
2022-08-13 Voice of the Creation
Media File In the Genesis 2 creation account, God breathed into the clay and it became a living being. Another translation is that man became a 'speaking spirit.' In this God gave His creation a voice. A voice both for relationship and for command. To make relationship with God and men, command to have dominion over the earth.
Media File Biblical Hebrew has no precise word meaning 'obey', Instead God uses variations on the verb 'shema' which is to listen. Moses emphasizes that Israel has not seen God, they have only heard His voice. This has profound implications for understanding the Torah and the rest of Scripture. Briefly, God wants us to listen to Him, internalize His words and then act as if He were speaking with us in every situation.
2022-07-23 Law and Blessing
Media File Some people develop the notion that by being really good and obeying the Torah they will somehow merit God's blessing. Just as the law cannot cancel out mortality and give eternal life, it cannot automatically generate blessings. The law presents God's vision of a good and just society. As such all sorts of benefits flow to a people who walk in it. Obeying the law is enlightened self interest. Blessing, on the other hand, comes from a relationship with God. It is He who is able to save, to grant mercy and to bless. All of these are prerogatives of the Sovereign.
2022-07-16 Sex and Gender
Media File Our culture has fallen into several grave errors with respect to sex, gender and class. In addition to the obvious absurdity that one's gender is a matter of choice, we have lost the fundamental definitions of masculine and feminine. This distinction is woven into the creation itself and is not subject to manipulation by mere people. Similarly we have tried to assign virtue and shame based on class and gender rather than on character. Both of these errors are not so much wrong as they are evil.
Media File In parsha Chukat we get the law of the Red Heifer to deal with the defilement of death. This is one of countless examples of the grace of God. He did not leave us to face our mortality with no hope. Instead He assures us that this part of our lives has importance and that there is much more to come when we are gathered to our people.
2022-07-02 You are Correct, Now Apologize
Media File Argument can be either positive or destructive. Argument for the sake of heaven seeks to find the truth about something important by debate. Argument for the sake of power tries to defeat the other in order to gain power or status. Korach, when he instigated rebellion against Moses was arguing for the sake of power. Moses and Aaron had leadership of the nation and the priesthood. Korach and his companions wanted that. So too in our relationships. Simply being correct about something is not sufficient reason to argue.
2022-06-25 Spies - Fear of Success
Media File When Moses sent the spies into the Land they came back with a bad report that panicked the nation. What might have been their motivation? Perhaps it was fear that the invasion would succeed and they would have to give up the intimate presence of God and exchange it to become just an ordinary nation.
2022-06-18 The Humility of Moses
Media File In Numbers 12 Moses is described as the most humble man on earth. Since Moses had no problem killing an Egyptian slave master, confronting Pharaoh and arguing with God, humility must involve something other that shy self effacement. In what sense does humility apply to this greatest of all the prophets?
2022-06-11 God Delights in Humans
Media File In a world full of death, despair and ugliness it is easy to lose heart and forget the God delights in people. The beauty that God creates and inspires overwhelms the ugly that Satan makes and inspires. He further assures us in His word that He loves us and enjoys all of the good things that we do. In this He teaches us what Joy is and how to achieve it.
2022-06-04 Unhappy with Reality
Media File In John 9 Y'shua, the Light of the World, opens the eyes of a blind man. What follows is one of the more humorous incidents in Scripture. The Pharisees refuse to believe such a thing is possible. First they inquire diligently whether the man was actually born blind then they berate him for sticking to his testimony. Finally, rather than face reality they 'cancel' him, throwing him out of the synagogue. In a reprise of Isaiah 6, Y'shua finally explains what is going on.
2022-05-29 Truth and Freedom
Media File In John 8, Y'shua says that His disciples will know the truth and they will be free. Instead of asking for the truth the Jews protest that they are not slaves. What is this truth that He promises and how does it make us free? The answer is important in a world awash in lies.
2022-05-21 God's Social Justice
Media File So called 'social justice' in today's world is nothing but warmed over collectivism - which always leads to misery and death. In Lev 25 God provides a system of insuring that the clever and ruthless among us do not wind up at the top of the pyramid in perpetuity. The Torah of the sabbatical year and the jubilee serve to do a soft reset and allow for social and economic mobility.
Media File The Biblical standard, 'an eye for an eye' has been ridiculed by those who should know better. In Judaism and early Christianity it was understood that the metaphor was not to be used literally. Rather that retribution was to be proportional to the damage done. For justice to be satisfactory to the injured party the perpetrator should incur an equivalent punishment or cost. If this does not happen people quickly lose faith in the justice system and begin taking care of things on their own.
2022-05-07 Love Your Neighbor
Media File Contrary to popular belief the Leviticus 19 commandment to 'love your neighbor as yourself' does not place unrealistic demands upon us. Rather the passage in context gives a procedure for minimizing the number of enemies one acquires and for keeping the community peaceful. In Matthew 18 Y'shua expands on the Leviticus procedure and gives instructions for those cases where it does not work.
2022-04-30 One Law for Everyone
Media File Torah portion Acharei Mot (Lev 16-18) emphasizes that there is only one standard for the native born and for gentiles who join themselves to Israel. So when the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 tells gentiles to avoid idols, abstain from sexual immorality, things strangled and blood, they are simply quoting the Torah's requirements that apply to both Jew and gentile. When they say that gentiles need not be circumcised, they are quoting the law of the Passover from Exodus. In their ruling, the council was simply applying Torah correctly to the gentiles. They were not changing the standards.
2022-04-23 Mirror of the Soul
Media File Most regard the Torah as (a possibly obsolete) set of "dos" and "dont's". While that can be true, it is more profitable to regard it as a mirror. Looking at yourself reflected in the Torah provides a roadmap for spiritual growth. To use a simple example, the Torah says not to steal. If you are prone to theft, it becomes a restriction that chafes and you are uncomfortable with what you see in yourself. If you are not so tempted, you see the reflection of someone is not a thief.
2022-04-16 Passover Symbols
Media File We are commanded to tell our children the story of the first Passover. The elements of the Passover are each symbolic as well as historical. For the Hebrews in Egypt they pointed to events in Genesis. For gentiles today they are symbolic rather than historical. Considering the firstborn, the lamb, the blood and the bread leads to a fifth implied symbol.
2022-04-09 Intermediate Objective
Media File What did He mean when Y'shua said in John 19:30, "It is finished," as He died? If we look at God's ultimate purpose for the world, "to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth," it becomes clear that the Crucifixion was an intermediate step in a longer campaign; vital to the campaign but not the last objective to be taken. In that sense, "finished" is perhaps a misleading translation.
Media File John 6 is a discourse on bread. It begins with feeding the 5000 with five barley loaves and two fish. This is the key to the whole chapter, the high point of which is Y'shua's statement that He is the bread of life. Bread was introduced in Genesis 3 when our diet was switched from the fruit of the trees of the Garden to bread. The metaphor is used consistently up to and through John 6. The goal has always been to move humanity from earthly bread to heavenly bread; from slavery and death to liberty and life.
2022-03-26 Presumptuous Sin
Media File Aaron's sons, Nadav and Abihu died when they tried to enter God's presence uninvited. Similarly, Uzzah died when David tried to transport the Ark in the wrong way. In both cases men acted with pure hearts, seeking to approach and honor God. They had the big picture right, but got the details wrong and died. Today's church has the big picture correct. God loves us, He sent His Son to die for our sins. They are, however, wrong on many of the details and so are devoid of the power that God wants us to have on this earth.
2022-03-19 Who is the Son
Media File In John chapter 5 Y'shua makes quite a long statement which is logically in two parts. The first describes who He is and what powers and authority He has. The second explains why the leaders of Israel should accept His credentials. This passage leaves Israel without any excuse for their later behavior.
Media File There is a great deal of misunderstanding about sacrifice. It is clearly a major subject in the Bible, but has not been practiced since the Temple was destroyed in 70AD. As such we have no real understanding of what it means either emotionally or spiritually.
2022-03-05 Y'shua and the Law
Media File During the time before His crucifixion, Y'shua spent considerable effort contending with the Pharisees about their interpretation of God's law as given by Moses. In these encounters, there are several key phrases: "You have heard it said..." and "It is written..." What to these phrases signify and what does that mean to us today?
2022-02-12 Whom Shall You Fear
Media File The Bible over and over tells believers to 'fear not.' That is true in context but not in general. The choice in life is between fear of the world or fear of God. The choice is binary, there is no other option. If one chooses the fear of God, the fear of the world becomes a non issue.
2022-02-19 Idolatry - Hard Men, Soft Hearts
Media File The impulse to worship idols is still with us today. The form has changed from from biblical times. We no longer fashion calves of gold as in Exodus or offer sacrifices to Baal as in 1 Kings but we still turn away from God to other means of meeting our desires. In both the Exodus and Kings examples the people's hearts were hardened toward God. It took Moses and Elijah, two hard men whose hearts were soft toward God to set matters right again. Today too many soft men with hard hearts are leading religious institutions and many have gone astray.
2022-02-26 You are not the Problem
Media File In constructing the Tabernacle, God asked for the finest materials and the best craftsmen to produce a work of beauty. The world around us is being turned into ugly. Our cities have become homeless camps, our architecture has devolved into concrete boxes, our young are mutilating themselves. All of this ugliness is designed to dispirit the people of God and make them easier to manipulate. The message is that your selfishness is all that stands in the way of utopia. This is nothing more than enemy propaganda. Beauty is important and spiritually uplifting. God wants your talent and initiative to follow His example in improving the world.
2022-02-05 Was the Sabbath Changed
Media File I read a comment by a pastor I respect saying that the Sabbath had been 'nailed to the cross' and that he celebrates the 'resurrected Sabbath.' Is this sound doctrine? Is there any scriptural support for such a belief? Does it matter?
2022-01-29 The Light of Men
Media File The writings of John use the metaphor of light extensively. Most of the uses are clear and obvious but one is not. What does it mean that 'the life is the light of men?'
2022-01-22 Ten Commandments, Human Government
Media File In Parsha Yitro Moses establishes a system of subordinate judges and God gives the Ten Commandments. This forms a basis for human governance within the Kingdom of God. The problem with human governance is that it is composed of humans and so eventually goes astray. God periodically sends his prophets to get things back on track. The last of those prophets was His own son. When a prophet is unable to correct the nation, the next step is exile and foreign dominion.
2022-01-15 Wedding at Cana
Media File John's description of Y'shua's first miracle raises lots of questions. Why did his mother take charge of the wine problem? What did she expect Him to do? What is the significance of the stone jars? Why was this the first of His miracles?
2022-01-08 No Joy in Plagueville
Media File If you have noticed that people are angry, depressed and isolated, it is because they are. The protocols imposed to combat the pandemic, in addition to being ineffective, are destroying our communities and driving people to anger and despair. In short, they are designed to steal your joy. Don't let that happen.
Media File In Torah portion Va'eira, we see the first of the plagues, the Nile River turned into blood. Here water symbolizes death because the Egyptians had used the river to hide the evidence of their murder of the Hebrew children. Water can also symbolize chaos, life, the Spirit, etc. The symbolic use of water requires an understanding of context and of the consistent patterns in Scripture.
Sermons given at Restoration Messianic Fellowship during 2022