Chapter and verse…. adding to the Bible?

We are so accustomed to the handy chapter and verse divisions that I don’t think we usually remember that they are fairly new to the Bible.  The individual books had been grouped together in various ways throughout the years, but it wasn’t until the 13th century that the chapter system was developed and added by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton.  The even more specific referencing of verses came in the 16th century by Robert Estienne (also known as Robert Stephanus). It is great to be able to pinpoint exactly where in 66 books a specific passage is located, but could it be considered “adding” to the word of God?  I have wondered this a time or two, especially since people love to cherry-pick, but that’s for another post.

I got thinking about this yet again today when my youngest was doing Bible copy.  He started after the rest of us, and has just finished up chapter 1 in Genesis.  As I was writing the last two verses on the whiteboard for him, I realized that it stops short of the full creation account.  We all know a week is a complete unit of time, so why does did Stephen Langton stop with day 6 and leave the sanctifying of the seventh and God resting until the next chapter?  I mean even verse 4 of chapter 2 sounds like it is starting up a new thought….

Here’s Genesis 1:31- 2:5a (using KJV today) with what seems like a more natural division, but with chapter 2 in green

And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.  And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.  Thus the heaven and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.  And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it:  because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew….”

I realize this doesn’t change drastically what is being said, but it just makes me wonder again how it changes our perception of what is being said.  We are prone to reading to the end of a chapter instead of the end of a flowing passage, so we may miss out on things or incorrectly separate things that belong together.

Maybe I’m taking Deuteronomy 4:2, 12:32, and Revelation 22:18 too literally, but we should always remember that the convenient numbering system wasn’t inspired by God!

Why I wear a headcovering

Some people have these great and complex reasons why they wear a headcovering.  They dissect the passage in 1 Corinthians 11, digging into the meaning of the Greek words, they include the various passages in the Torah that mention headcoverings, though they have to admit there is no direct command for one to be worn.  Others go the modesty route, saying that it would arouse lust in a man if they were to show their hair off, make other women jealous, or that God really doesn’t want us to beautify ourselves in outward ways.  Others think that it is how a woman shows that she is submitted to her husband.  Some even hint at there being some greater spiritual reasons and happenings if you wear one.  I have my own issues and disagreements with all of these things.  Most people who see me probably think that I subscribe to one or more of these veins of thought, unless they were to actually ask me why I wear a headcovering.

I made a vow to God, plain and simple.

About a year and a half ago, I was feeling a little….um, how shall I put this… well…jealous.  Jealous that men are the ones who have the specific commands to have an outward sign of their devotion to God.  Yup, they get the beards (not that I want hair on my face!) and tassels, and women get nothing!  I wanted to show my devotion to God outwardly, not to gain attention or because I thought I was better than anyone else, more of a sign that I believed something and am willing to allow that belief to have charge over my life.  I had looked into the whole issue of wearing a headcovering in the year prior, but, as I mentioned previous, hadn’t seen it as a command for all women to wear, but was open to wearing one if God wanted me to.  One day during prayer, I told God that if He would provide me with a headcovering, I would wear it.  This wasn’t a begrudgingly done thing, for me it was another part of my continued commitment to walking in His ways.

I looked at scarves and bandanas when I went to the store, wondering if I should get one, but didn’t because I had asked God to provide one.  Three weeks later, my husband surprised me with three bandanas!  We had talked about headcoverings before, though he didn’t know of my vow that day.  I had even forgotten it.  As I sat on my bed looking at them and talking with my husband, it came back to me what I had prayed.  I actually laughed a little as I had  just recently been discussing with a friend about Jephthah’s rash vow and the importance of following through with the things that we vow to God.  I shared with my husband what I had prayed, and since he didn’t negate my vow on the day he heard of it (that’s Torah by the way!), I started to wear a headcovering.

It has been an interesting road since that time.  I have had someone tell me they knew I was only doing to be submitted to my husband, others look at me strangely, and even been mistaken as an orthodox Jew by some reform Jews.  I haven’t noticed any more respect from people or more spiritual depth or a closer feeling to God.  There have been times when I haven’t wanted to wear one, especially when I read other people’s takes on them and feel that they are off about it, but God gently reminds me that I’m not doing it for those reasons.

I do it because I made a vow, plain and simple.

Celebrating that connects us to the past… and to the future!

Today most people around the world are celebrating Christmas, a day to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, the Messiah of the world.  Okay, there are many who admit that He wasn’t born today or even within a month’s time frame of this day, but  this is the day that has “randomly” been chosen to celebrate it.  It doesn’t take much historical digging to find out that today was considered by many godless cultures the birth of the messiah – a false one, that is- and celebrated as such for generations before the birth of Yeshua.  But nevertheless, churches and Christians still choose to observe this day (and entire month season) as the birth of their Messiah.  So when families gather around the Christmas tree, go to the many parties of the season, eat of the many traditional foods, or give gifts to each other, they are connecting with generations in the past who also had decorated trees in their homes, partied, ate these same special foods, and gave gifts to each other… but is this what we are supposed to be connecting to?

This morning my son was reading in Nehemiah, as a part of our weekly reading schedule, and had a question concerning this passage…

Then Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to Yahveh your God;  do not mourn or weep.”  For all the people were weeping when they heard the words of the law.  Then he said to them, “Go, eat of the fat, drink of the sweet, and send portions to him who has nothing prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord.  Do not be grieved, for the joy of Yahveh is your strength.”  So the Levites calmed all the people, saying, “Be still, for the day is holy; do not be grieved.”  All the people went away to eat, to drink, to send portions and celebrate a great festival, because they understood the words which had been made known to them.  8:9-12 NASB

He questioned why they were told to stop weeping and instead rejoice, and why the day was holy to Yahveh…was it because they had rebuilt the wall and read the Torah?  Thankfully I had read that portion the day before and knew that he had overlooked something just prior to that.  I had him back up to verse 2…

Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.

Did you catch it?  The 1st day of the 7th month.  This wasn’t just some random day, this was a day that Yahveh had revealed to His people at Mt. Sinai as being one of His holy days!  (Check out Leviticus 23:23-25 if you are unfamiliar with the passage.)  No reason is given for the need to joyfully blow trumpets and rejoice on that day, just that they were to do it.  So the people of God obeyed Him, and in the future generations, those who have shown their love for their God through obedience to Him, have observed this day of joy.

Did Yahveh give His people a “freebie” holy day, one to “kick-off” the high holy days season?  I think not.  Being holy – set apart, sanctified speaks volumes about what kind of day this is.  The new moons were days that were to be observed by special sacrifices anyway, but were not holy.  This day was different than an ordinary new moon.  God knows the end from the beginning, so when He separated out a people for Himself, He gave them feast days that had significance.  Even Paul points this out in Colossians 2:16-17 when he says festivals, new moons and Sabbaths are shadows of what is to come and their substance is of Messiah.  These are important days to God and should be important days to us!  The Israelites observed these days only knowing what had happened already to them (being freed from Egypt and given the Torah) and for the reasons that Yahveh laid forth (thanking Him for harvests, repenting of sins as a nation).  They didn’t know about the sacrificial death of the Messiah or of being endued with power from on high by the Holy Spirit, that was to come in later years, but Yahveh did.  The past and present generations are connected in observing these holy feast days, and we can observe the other holy days with expectation for what Yahveh has for us in the future.

But what about Christmas and celebrating the birth of our Messiah?  This day of great joy heralded by a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, that caused the shepherds to find the newborn babe and go about glorifying and praising God, do we not think that perhaps God has already seen ahead and planned for that in His holy days?  Hmm… a day of joyfully shouting… a day with no reason attached to it…could it be that when the people of God throughout the generations (including in Nehemiah’s time) have celebrated Yom Truah (Feast of Trumpets), they have celebrated the birth of the Messiah?

What are you celebrating?

Putting to death

So then brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh – for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.  For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba!  Father!”  The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.  Romans 8:12-17 NASB (emphasis mine)

….“by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body”…. how often do we forget this?  I know I do, more than I would like to admit.  Even today, after I made a snarky remark, my  husband gently asked me how my prayer time was this morning and reminded me that I wasn’t acting in a way befitting of my Messiah.  Thankfully I had spent time in prayer this morning, for there have been times when I haven’t and would have replied with yet another snarky remark.  Instead I received the gentle correction as not coming only from my husband but from the Lord, and spent a few minutes repenting and seeking His help in walking in a way that would honor and please Him.  Perhaps that is why this passage caught my eye tonight.  It is only by His Spirit that we can overcome those impulses that come from our fallen human nature.  We can’t live this life in our own strength and please Him.  But how often do we not even realize that we are walking in the flesh?  How often are we just so used to saying the little comments, or thinking them, or acting in little unbecoming ways, that we don’t identify them as being from the flesh and, therefore, something we should crucify…. remember we are to have died with Messiah… Yeshua may have been crucified once on the tree, but He lived His entire life on earth crucifying His flesh to walk in obedience to the Father, and by the Spirit we are to follow His example.

“…indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him”  The suffering that we are all partake in is crucifying our old nature, for it loves to rear it’s ugly head.  We love the thought of being children of God, of being joint heirs with Christ, but do we love the thought of no longer walking after the flesh?  Do we seek Him daily for help to no longer desire the things that entice our flesh? Do we actually look to the Comforter, the Helper, the One who Yeshua said He would send us, to help us walk out this new life that we have been born from above into, to correct us, to encourage us, to strengthen us?  We must understand that the flesh has no part in God for it cannot please Him and refuses to subject itself to Him (Romans 8:6-8), and if we continue to cultivate a life in the flesh instead of crucifying it, we will not be glorified with Yeshua and we will not inherit the kingdom of God! (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Galatians 5:19-21, Ephesians 5:5-6).  But, if we suffer in the flesh and crucify its desires and actions in obedience to God, and walk according to the Spirit and allow His life to grow in us, we will be made into the likeness of our Savior, oh, could any of us desire anything more?  When it is not about us, but all about Him and His nature being manifested in our lives, then indeed we are children of God!

It is easy to get caught up in “outward”, to see things that have been changed or twisted from what was originally meant and want to return to them, but that must not take precedence over the inward – the circumcision of our hearts.  God wants us to be aware of the things in ourselves that are not pleasing to Him, and to humble ourselves before Him and ask for His Spirit to strengthen us to put to death those things that we might have Messiah’s life to reign in us… to live for the will of the Father (Hebrews 10:9)!

Here’s one for the Joel fans….

I realize that not everyone who checks out my blog may be interested in the same things as me, so I thought I would post something that you may like.  Not many people in my area know who Joel Osteen is, but for those of you who do, enjoy the following teaching from him.  He gets that God actually has our best in mind when He said that pork and shellfish aren’t food.

So, remember your best life now doesn’t include unclean food!

Worthy is the Lamb!

I’ve been reading up on baptism in the 1st century lately.  This topic has intrigued me since my teen years, I always wondered where the idea of baptism came from, what gave it a validity to the people, especially since I was told it came on the scene with John the Baptist.  I have known for a time that it has its roots in the washings prescribed in the Torah, but have wondered as of late how the people at that time viewed it.  There is still more searching to do, but I definitely have learned a lot, especially concerning the dialogue between Nicodemus and Yeshua in John 3.  I have been drawn to that passage several times, and felt like there is more to be understood than what I currently did.  There is definitely more depth there than I had seen before.

In the midst of all my reading, I was once again awed by Yeshua.  How perfect He is, how awesome His sacrifice, how much greater His blood than that of bulls and goats, and how it could do that which made the Law weak… the Law could bring to light our fallen sinful nature, but it could never remove that from us, only the wonderful blood of the perfect spotless Lamb could cleanse our sinful nature and allow us to be reborn in Him.  We have freedom that is nothing that we could have attained to in and of ourselves, anyone who is honest about themselves would admit that.  It is only through God’s gracious gift, and even our faith to trust in Yeshua’s sacrifice is from God!  I love some of the older hymns because the authors seemed to have an understanding of this, and the words they wrote have to come from a place of abundant awe and worship of the One who had given His life for us.  What an awesome thing it is to have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Light!  Praise Yeshua!

 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.’  And every created thing which is in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.’  And the four living creatures kept saying, ‘Amen.’  And the elders fell down and worshiped.  Revelation 5:11-14

Torah – Prophecy or Constitution?

Ever heard “Jesus fulfilled the law, so it doesn’t apply to us anymore?”  I used to believe this…. because I was happy to go along with what I was taught instead of actually studying the Word for myself.  Yeah, not so much anymore!  Yes, Yeshua did come to fulfill – to bring the full meaning to the commandments, not to make it no longer valid.  Not to mention the issue with Him fulfilling the whole law as He was neither a woman, leper, land owner, or married… there are some very specific laws pertaining to only those groups of people, so do they still pertain to those people today? Hmm… Continue reading