A Lover of Hospitality

Be a lover of hospitality.        Titus 1:8.

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.          1 Peter 4:9.

For many people the mention of hospitality calls to mind Martha Stewart more than the Gospels. While it is worthy to mention the value of opening your home to others, there is a bit more being conveyed in these words.

The word being translated hospitality actually means loving kindness to strangers. And the word strangers refers to resident aliens, minorities, and sojourners in the land. In other words, these scriptures are dealing with the age old problem of ethnicity, prejudice and racism. Do you really think that will ever be properly dealt with outside of Christ?

To demonstrate this truth, let’s start with a narrative from Luke 17 where Jesus is met by ten lepers seeking their healing. He orders them to go show themselves to the priests. As they departed they discover that they have been cleansed and one of them returns to glorify God in giving thanks before the Lord’s feet, and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus comments “there are none found that returned to give glory to God, besides this stranger.”                                                 Luke 17:18.

The Samaritans were the despised people living among the most despised people in history, and are enshrined in the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ by the words  “Good Samaritan”.

These strangers stand out among the members of society by whose treatment the Lord will judge the nations.                  Matthew 25:31-46.

So what does the Law and the Prophets have to say about this thorny topic? Let’s consider this survey:

You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.                                           Exodus 22:21.

Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.                          Exodus 23:9.

The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.                                                Leviticus 19:34.

One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord. One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you.                                 Numbers 15:14, 15.

He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.                                                    Deuteronomy 10:18, 19.

Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord speak saying “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”. Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants. Even them I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.”              Isaiah 56:1-8.

Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.       Jeremiah 22:3.

The people of the land have used oppression, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.             Ezekiel 22:29.

And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.        Malachi 3:5.

So we see beyond the prophets condemning society’s injustice, a Law given to Moses that was acutely concerned for the rights of strangers. How then did this wall of separation come to exist that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians?

At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.                                                  Ephesians 2:12.

How could this be true when the Law of Moses had made every accommodation for the foreigner who desired to seek the Lord?  In verse fifteen he says that the enmity was created by the law of commandments in ordinances: nomos entole en dogma. This expression refers to what Jesus referred to as the traditions and rules of men undermining the Word of God.

Because of the mutual hatred and distrust that existed between the Jew and all of the neighboring societies, no Jew would even sit at a table and eat a meal with a gentile. This is something that even the apostle Peter was called out on by Paul, the apostle of the gentiles. In contrast, Jesus always ate with publicans and sinners.

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.  And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?”                             Galatians 2:11-14.

Even though he had fully embraced the gentile as a fellow believer when the Lord had given him a vision that corrected his views in Acts 10, his fear of men resulted in hypocrisy.

Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful (Pharisee) it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.                     Acts 10:28.

And finally he concludes: Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him.        Acts 10:34, 35.

As an elder of the first church in Jerusalem, Peter was very familiar with the complications of a Jewish/gentile fellowship. When he wrote in his letter to show hospitality without grumbling, the word used is more often translated murmuring. This grumbling or murmuring began early on in the church.

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.                             Acts 6:1.

Note the clear racial overtones to the situation at hand. The solution the apostles came up with to deal with the problem was to have the congregation choose for themselves seven men to appoint over the administrative duties.

The apostle Paul recalls for us in 1 Corinthians 10 how murmuring and complaining was the “original sin” of the congregation in the wilderness. The people had just passed through the Red Sea and witnessed a great deliverance when they soon were murmuring against God and Moses.

And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what should we drink?    Exodus 15:24.

And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:               Exodus 16:2.

Now in their defense I would point out that they had traveled three days in the wilderness and not found any fresh water. Most Christians have murmured and complained about far less. The point is that this is far more serious than most give consideration.

Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.      1  Corinthians 10:11.

When Paul says that this issue is where the ends of the ages meet, he was ushering in the end of the age of justification by works of the Law and bringing in the age of justification by grace.

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.                                                  John 1:17.

But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.                   1 Corinthians 10:5, 6.

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom He swore that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.                              Hebrews 3:14-19.

In other words, regardless of the covenant, grumbling and complaining are an offense to God and will be considered an act of unbelief. And now we can look to Abram to complete the picture and find the purpose.

Paul taught that Abram was the father of justification by faith, for when he was told his offspring would be as the stars of heaven, he believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

James pointed out that Abraham later proved his faith by offering his son Isaac in obedience to God. But in Hebrews we are reminded that the first great act of faith, without which nothing else would have followed, was his departure from his home land.

By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went… he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country…for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God… and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.                                      Hebrews 11:8-16  (highlights.)

James wrote that true religion is to care for widows and orphans and to keep ourselves unspotted by the world.                         James 1:27

Why then does he not mention strangers along with widows and orphans as the Law of Moses and the prophets do so often? Because we are called to be the stranger, the pilgrim, the sojourner in this world. We cannot conform to this world and expect to be translated into a heavenly homeland.

A community church may compromise to be inoffensive and socially acceptable, but any individual who hopes to go from the called to the chosen, or elect; must be willing to step outside that comfort zone. To set hands on the plow and not look back until you have completed your course and remain faithful.

Here is how: Do all things without murmuring and disputing, That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life.                                                          Philippians 2:14-16.

 

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The Name of Remembrance

In Exodus chapter three, Moses asks the Lord how he should respond if the children of Israel ask him what is His name. God said thus shall you say, “I Am has sent me unto you. This is my name for ever and my memorial unto all generations”.                                                                                   Exodus 3:13-15.

Here memorial is used for zeker which for consistency and application should have been translated remembrance. Keep in mind that the Lord is preparing to bring the congregation out of bondage with a great deliverance. On this historic occasion, the people are given a name for them to call out in all generations for deliverance from their enemies.

This inconsistency translating zeker is repeated in Hosea chapter twelve. After declaring his controversy with Judah, the Lord again declares Himself as Deliverer of Israel in verse five: even the Lord God of hosts, the Lord is His memorial (zeker).                                                                             Hosea 12:5.

Again zeker is translated memorial, rather than remembrance, when the point is to call on the name of the Lord to be remembered.

This is the language of covenant. When Moses first asked for a name, the Lord declared Hayah hayah, I Am That I Am. Hayah is the Hebrew root from which is derived YHVH. In the same way that the name of remembrance is shortened to I Am, YHVH is shortened:

Sing unto God, sing praises to His name, extol Him that rides upon the heavens by His name Yah (Yahu), and rejoice before Him.                                                  Psalm 68:4.

Yahu is incorporated into many Hebrew names such as Elijah in English translations. In Hebrew though the name is Yahu, Eliyahu for Elijah, Yirmiyahu for Jeremiah, etc. Thus the name of remembrance for the people of God to cry out for deliverance is Yahu!

The Lord declared unto Moses; I am the Lord and I appeared unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the name of God Almighty (El Shaddai), but by my name YHVH was I not known to them.                                                                                               Exodus 6:2 & 3.

This becomes all powerful when we acknowledge that when God remembers from heaven, actions result on earth. In Genesis God remembered Noah (8:1), Abraham (19:29), and Rachel (30:22). Prayers were answered and promises were kept.

When we acknowledge our forgetfulness, especially in times of rest and plenty, we can understand what God has provided for us.

For He has made His wonderful works to be remembered, the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.                                                                                                  Psalms 111:4.                                                                       

Now that the difference between memorial and remembrance has been set before our understanding, we can consider one of the Lord’s most important and final commandments.

He took bread and gave thanks and broke it, and gave unto them saying this is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me.                              Luke 22:19.

The practice of breaking bread in fellowship became the foundation of Christian fellowship in the book of Acts. Paul writes: for I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you. He goes on to describe the last supper, including the command to do this in remembrance of me.               1 Co 11:23-25.

Paul was not a participant at the last supper and had not been welcomed into the fellowship of the church in Jerusalem due to his fearful reputation. Yet the new communities were established in the breaking of bread in fellowship. The breaking of bread is not given to practice as a memorial before God, but a remembrance in the Lord’s sight. Jesus said:                                                                   “for when two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”                                                                                   Matthew 18:20.

This gathering together is initiated by the proper breaking of bread. Continuing in 1 Co 11, Paul warns that not breaking bread properly is to bring damnation on to yourselves. To allow breaking bread to become empty ritual, or to completely neglect the act as obsolete is to deny the very presence of the Lord into your fellowship.

Paul concludes: for this cause many have become infirm and many have died.                                                                                                       1 Co 11:30.

From Luke 24 we know that the presence of the Lord in fellowship is essential to a right understanding of His word. After his resurrection, Jesus meets with two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and has a conversation which is given to us as a memorial. After the breaking of bread they knew him for their eyes were opened, and He then vanished from their sight.

And they said to one another, did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? Returning to Jerusalem they gave their testimony of how He was known of them in breaking of bread.                                                                           Luke 24:32-35.

This is the Lord’s remembrance. This is to know Him. Now is the time for believers to enter into the ministry of the burning heart. To break the bread of sincerity and truth. To call on the name of the Lord in remembrance of His mercy.

Peter said; I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.                                   2 Peter 3:1.

For the bread of God is he which comes down from heaven, and gives life unto the world.                                                                                                                       John 6:33.

The name of remembrance is used to call on the Lord, especially for deliverance from enemies. Furthermore, to show that this name is a new revelation, the Lord tells Moses:                                                            And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name YHVH was I not known to them. Exodus 6:3.

Yet this Holy Name of God manages to be inserted by scribes into narratives found in the book of Genesis 141 times. Since that time, there has existed much controversy over the use of this name. Rabbis teach that use of the Name should be avoided completely for fear of using the name in vain.     Out of consideration for this concern, most English translations render YHVH simply as The Lord.

This point of contention was dealt with by the Lord Jesus Christ in a most innovative way. When Jesus spoke of God, He routinely referred to Him as “The Father”. He taught His disciples to pray: “Our Father”.

The apostle Paul encourages us to be just as intimate with the Father, teaching us:  

For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.                 Romans 8:15.

While Paul teaches us to be set free from a spirit of slavery and address God as Daddy, it is fear itself that has lead many to avoid the name of remembrance given to Moses. As mentioned, the name is avoided in most English translations by using The Lord.

The English translation used by many Messianic Jews is called the Tree of Life Version of the Old and New Testaments. This translation has gone full circle and replaced The Lord with Adonai. Adonai is derived from the word Adon, which is lord in a common form. For example, Sarai addressed Abram as “my Lord”, Rebekah addresses Abraham’s head servant the same way when he comes seeking a wife for Isaac.                                                 Adonai is in fact sanctified, being used only in reference to The Lord, but it is not the Holy Name of remembrance given to Moses in Exodus 3. You will need a concordance to know when Adonai is actually used in the original text and when it is substituting for YHVH. In the Tree of Life Version (TLV), Psalm 103:1 becomes:

Bless Adonai, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name.

For anyone who has been taught the English language, this statement implies that the holy Name of God is Adonai. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as the substitution has been made for YHVH. Through a series of mental gymnastics, the holy Name of God has been replaced by a Hebrew word that is derived from the common word Adon, for my Lord. This is drinking the wine of astonishment! Psalm 60:3.

Adonai spoke to Aaron saying:  “Do not drink wine or fermented drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, so that you do not die. This is to be a statute forever throughout your generations.  You are to make a distinction between the holy and the common and between the unclean and the clean.                                         Lev. 10:9&10.

They will teach My people the difference between the holy and the common and explain to them the difference between the unclean and the clean. Ezekiel 44:23.

Now this is where translation becomes a bit ludicrous. Here is Psalm 135:1 in the TLV:                                                                                 Halleluyah! Praise the Name of Adonai. Give praise, O servants of Adonai

First of all, Adonai does not appear in this verse. More importantly the Hebrew halal Yah is found and translated Halleluyah. This expression is used frequently in the Psalms and is often simply translated Praise the Lord.        Yah is a contracted form of YHVH and used 41 times in the Old Testament. Typically it is also translated “the Lord” beginning in Exodus 15:

The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation:             Tree of Life substitutes:                   Adonai is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.

So Adonai replaces Yah in most verses, with the exception of when it is preceded by halal. I suppose Halleli Adonai would be pretty awkward, and Halleluyah is one of the most familiar expressions in all of Christianity. Of course, so is Praise the Lord!

The question being asked then, is it appropriate for the original text to be mistranslated to satisfy a tradition of men. What would Yeshua say?

Then Yeshua said, “Woe to you Torah lawyers as well, for you weigh the people down with burdens hard to carry… Luke 11:46.

The apostle Paul teaches that Messiah came to take down the wall of separation between Jew and gentile. Woe to anyone that tries to maintain that wall for the sake of a tradition.

We have a better name, a name above all names. His name is Yeshua and He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the Son of God.

The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the Temple of My God, and he will never leave it. And on him I will write the name of My God and the name of the city of My God—the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God—and My own new Name.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Ruach is saying to Messiah’s communities.”      Revelations 3:12, 13.

 

Remembrance of an Everlasting Covenant

Surely you shall not be moved forever; the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.                                                                                   Psalm 112:6.

We remain in everlasting remembrance based on the relationship established by the everlasting covenants that exist between God and His creation. After the flood, righteous Noah and his family stood as witnesses to the first blood covenant recorded in Genesis 9. We begin to understand the need for Christ to shed His blood for our sanctification and redemption beginning with the terms of this covenant.

After six hundred years man had corrupted his ways upon the earth to bring God’s first judgment by water. On the first day of the six hundred and first year Noah exited the ark along with all the animals that were delivered from destruction. Gen 8:13. God then blessed Noah and his sons giving them commandment to go replenish the earth. Gen 9:1. It was at this time that man was granted permission to eat the flesh of animals with one critical restriction.

But you shall not eat the flesh with the blood.                                         Genesis 9:4.

The apostles at Jerusalem confirmed the gentile churches and aligned with Paul in not requiring circumcision and the keeping of the Levitical laws. They did demand four ordinances be kept by all believers; that they abstain from pollution of idols and fornication and things strangled and from blood.      Acts 15:20.

The everlasting covenants are blood covenants and the basis for understanding this is Genesis 9.

And surely your blood of your lives will I require at the hand of every beast will I require and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoever sheds man’s blood shall his blood be shed for man was made in the image of God.                                          Genesis 9:5 & 6.

God then gave the rainbow to be the token of an everlasting covenant with not only man, but all of the earth.

I do set my bow in the cloud and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.                                                                          Genesis 9:13.

And the bow shall be in the cloud and I will look upon it that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.                                                           Genesis 9:16.

It is time for the church to fully grasp the nature of this perpetual agreement in order to have a right understanding of the covenants that form the basis for their relationship with God. Consider the serious nature of God’s covenant with the earth from Isaiah’s horrifying vision of judgment.

The land shall be utterly emptied and utterly spoiled for the Lord has spoken this word. The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away, and the arrogant people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinances and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth and they that dwell therein are desolate; therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned and few men are left.                                                                                                         Isaiah 24:3-6.

And how has the earth been defiled? By pollution? By waste? By radiation? Think again. By the spiritual principles of the Bible the earth is defiled by fornication, sacrifices to idols and false gods and the shedding of innocent blood. Man can clean up a toxic waste site, but only by blood can a land be cleansed of blood.

This is the terms of the everlasting covenant; that God would require blood for blood. Only by the shed blood of the Messiah can man be redeemed from the curses of a covenant violation.

The judgment is foreshadowed in the way God dealt with Judah in the time of Jeremiah. This same standard of judgment awaits a church that turns from the everlasting covenants, for judgment must begin with the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17.)

Trust not in lying words saying the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord…                                                                                                   Jeremiah 7:4.

Simply being a church member is no more insurance than having the temple of the one true God in your capital city.

Will you steal murder commit adultery and swear falsely, and follow other gods and come stand before me in this house which is called by my name… which has become a den of robbers…therefore pray not for this people. Jeremiah 7:8-16.

There comes a time when true intercessors can no longer pray for the church in general because the curse of another gospel is being taught within her buildings.

And nations are angry and your wrath has come and the time of the dead; that they should be judged and that you should give reward unto your servants the prophets and to the saints and them that fear your name small and great; and that you should destroy them which corrupt and destroy the earth.                                                                                                  Revelation 11:18.

The second everlasting covenant became the most controversial and divisive issue for the New Testament congregations. In Genesis 17 God changed Abram’s name to Abraham to establish His everlasting covenant with him. God commanded that circumcision of every male be the token of that covenant.

He that is born into your house and he that is purchased must be circumcised and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.                                                                                                    Genesis 17:13.

The apostle Paul was tasked by the Holy Spirit to set this issue in order for the church and is addressed extensively in his letters. The key to a right understanding is in the verse I just included: my covenant shall be in your flesh.

The Law of Moses included commandments pertaining to circumcision, while also acknowledging there was a spiritual component to a full understanding of the covenant law.

Jesus used this as a point to illustrate the greater spiritual truth in understanding the Word of God.

Moses gave unto you circumcision, not because it is of Moses but of the fathers, and you on the Sabbath day circumcise a male. If circumcision is performed on the Sabbath day that the Law of Moses should not be broken, why be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath? Judge not according to appearance but judge righteous judgment.                               John 7:22-24.

The need to ultimately be circumcised in the heart is addressed in the book of Deuteronomy.

Circumcise the foreskins of your heart and be no more stiff necked. Deuteronomy 10:16.

And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your children to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul that you may live.                                                                                     Deuteronomy 30:6.

With this in mind we will skip Paul’s in depth arguments and go directly to his conclusions.

Circumcision or uncircumcision is not what matters, but obedience to God.   1 Corinthians 7:19.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working by love.                                                                    Galatians 5:6

For we are the circumcision which worship God in the spirit and rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.                                  Philippians 3:3.