Bless His Holy Name

Bless the Lord O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name. Psalm 103:1.

In Exodus, the Lord gives Moses a new name to identify Himself to the elders of Israel. He is told to inform them that YHVH, the God of your Fathers has sent you. Then He adds, this is my name forever and my remembrance unto all generations. Exodus 3:16.

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”. Jesus Christ also identified himself as the Son of God, and was accused of blasphemy and was ultimately crucified on this charge. The apostle Paul encourages us to be just as intimate with the Father, teaching us:

 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye 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 here 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 with 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 Halleladonai 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.

Is the Law Sin?

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.  Romans 7:7.

What is the dynamic here, that we know something is wrong and do it anyway?  The answer is direct, but not at all simple.

For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. Ro 7:14.

Here is where we must answer a very direct question: are we willing to die to our selves so that the life of Christ can manifest?

Unleavened Bread of Sincerity and Truth

Jesus told the disciples to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is their doctrines. The Lord regularly spoke against the traditions of men displacing God’s word as their memorials. This people draw near unto me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me, but in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the ordinances of man. Matthew 15:8; Is 29:13.

If talk of firstborn sons, unleavened bread and the Torah given to Moses as the Memorials we maintain before God strikes you as odd, your “bread” may have been leavened by the doctrines of men. Much of Paul’s teaching in regards to the Law has been greatly misconstrued. Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, “the law of commandments contained in ordinances”…this expression in the Greek nomos entole en dogma refers to the place given to commentary. Dogma in English comes directly from the Greek dogma and refers to the opinion of “experts”. Someone is dogmatic when they are devoted to the teachings of a preferred teacher, preacher or guru.

Therefore let us keep the feast not with old leaven neither with leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Co 5:8.

Paul gave this testimony of himself at Jerusalem in Acts 22:3,” I am verily a man who is a Jew born in Tarsus in Cilicia yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers,” This manner of the law of the fathers went way beyond the study of the law and the prophets, but was thorough in considering the commentaries of experts, known as sages who often interpreted passages in contrary ways.  

Paul is even more direct in writing; blotting out the “handwriting” of ordinances (dogma), which was against us (as a testimony to the doctrines of men), which was contrary to us and took it out of the way, nailing it to His stake. Colossians 2:15.  This is only evident when we are circumcised by the circumcision of Christ (without hands, in the Spirit not the flesh). That you be not spoiled by the philosophy and tradition of men, which is vain deceit (and conceit), and worldly principles (degrees) which are perishing. Colossians chapter 2 (essential!).

When Paul wrote in Romans 8:3; for what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; the issue is clearly the weakness of the flesh, not the inadequacy of the Law. This was preceded by these key verses in Romans chapter 7. Wherefore the Law is holy and the commandment holy and just and good. Verse 12. For we know that the Law is spiritual but I am carnal, sold under sin. Verse 14. For I delight in the Law of God after the inward man. Verse 22. But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Verse 23. I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I serve the Law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. Verse 25.    In neglecting a correct understanding of Romans 7, many believe that when Paul wrote in Romans 8:2 for the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death; that he is somehow referring to the law of Moses! Our carnal man must die for us to fulfill the good and perfect and acceptable Will of God, as expressed by His Torah. Do we then make void the Law through faith? God Forbid! Yea, we establish the Law! Romans 3:31.

For our rejoicing  is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God we have had our conversation in the world. 2 Co 1:12.

For we are not as many which corrupt the Word of God, but as of sincerity but as of God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. 2 Co 2:17.

Now therefore fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. Joshua 24:14.

 

Friend of the Bridegroom

After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judea and there He tarried with them with them and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim because there was much water there and they came and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison.    John 3:22-24.

There comes a point in everyone’s ministry when they must make the right decision and abide under the anointing they received for the work they were chosen to do. Two ministries are in the Judean wilderness, both baptizing. This is an awkward situation but nothing bad has come of it, yet. Ultimately questions will be asked and there will be an accountability required of us.

Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John and said unto him Rabbi, he that was with you beyond Jordan to whom you bore witness, behold, the same baptizes and all come to him. John answered and said a person can receive only what is given them from heaven.  John 3:25-27.

This discussion raises more questions than answers and demands a serious pause for consideration. John’s ministry is quickly becoming a lesson for future disciples to draw wisdom. Why does John even still have disciples? And he is now addressed as Rabbi? Notice the way they describe the Lord as “he that was with you”. Why did he not become a disciple of Jesus with the revelation he had received concerning Him?

Jesus did not call John to follow Him as he did His first disciples. John was clearly left to his own devices and now his very purpose is coming into question. He gave his own testimony previously that defined his anointing and purpose, “I am the voice crying out in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord”. What remained for him to accomplish? The Holy Spirit gives us one of the most important lessons we could ever hope for: “you can only receive what is given you from heaven.” Will this become an issue in our walk with the Lord?

You yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, which stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice, this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase but I must decrease. John 3-28-30.

We now come to one of the more frequently quoted verses: He must increase but I must decrease. If only that were true, John would have quietly faded into the background. We would say “whatever happened to John the Baptist, he was so prominent at first and then he just seems to disappear from the narrative.”  Oh, that makes sense, once Jesus was baptized he had fulfilled his mission. The only lingering question would be, why did he not follow Jesus? Instead he ceases to be a voice in the wilderness and goes to Jerusalem. Notice the Bible doesn’t say “and the word of the Lord then came again unto John and said, go tell that rascal Herod he can’t have his brother’s wife.”  Maybe he was just bored, but now we find him in prison, his head soon to be placed on a platter.

Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ he sent two of his disciples, and said unto Him are you He that should come or do we look for another?             Matthew 11:2, 3.

This is astonishing! John was informed of God how to identify the Messiah. He witnessed the Holy Spirit descend from heaven in a bodily form and light on Jesus like a dove. He testified, this is the Son of God! And now he asks, “Do we look for another?” He is actually saying, if you are the Messiah, why am I in prison!? Aren’t you supposed to be restoring the kingdom of Israel, aren’t you supposed to restore the throne of David!?

Jesus answered and said unto them Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see.  Mt. 11:4.

Jesus tells John’s followers that the works of Christ speak for themselves. Then he adds another critical word for us to always consider:

And blessed is whosoever that shall not be offended in Me. Matthew 11:6.

This was the Lord’s pointed word to John, are you offended in me? We can never allow our own expectations to distort our understanding of what God has chosen us uniquely to have as a stewardship. John the Baptist teaches us that we can come out from under our anointing, we can walk and speak in the flesh what we believe to be the word of God, even quoting scripture verbatim, and there will be consequences. Condemning Herod was not kingdom business, not the Gospel message that Jesus came for: “to save the world, not condemn”.

Truly I say unto you among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist, notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Mt. 11:11.

My beloved brethren, abide in Christ, and remain among the least of these.                    Keep a good head on your shoulders!

 

 

The Spirit and Power of Elijah

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you will receive, this is Elijah which was to come. He that has ears to hear let him hear. Matthew 11:13-15.

His disciples asked, “Why do the scribes teach that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered, “Elijah truly shall come first and restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has come already and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they desired. Likewise shall the Son of man also suffer of them.” Then the disciples understood that he spoke unto them of John the Baptist. Matthew 17:10-13.

The relationship between John the Baptist and Elijah was a stumbling block for the Jews at the time that Jesus was ministering the gospel. Clearly, they were not one and the same person, as Elijah was taken directly to heaven hundreds of years before Christ. When the authorities in Jerusalem sent emissaries to inquire into the baptism of John, he was asked point blank, “Are you Elijah?” He answered “I am not. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: make straight the way of the Lord, as spoken by the prophet Isaiah. (John 1:19-23.) He did not suddenly appear on the scene the way Elijah did in 1 Kings 17, but we are given a narrative of his birth to Elizabeth and Zacharias in Luke chapter one. The Holy Spirit clarifies this by the prophecy given to Zacharias by the angel who announced his coming conception.

And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:17.

The angel here references the prophecy of Malachi that Jesus also alludes to in Matthew 17 when he said Elijah truly shall come first and restore all things. Of course, John the Baptist did not restore anything, but simply announced the coming of the Lord, as the prophecy in Isaiah 40 that he refers to when questioned by the religious authorities. So what is the significance of this prophecy in Malachi?

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Malachi 4:5, 6.

This is obviously a prophecy concerning the second coming and the judgment. The greater stumbling block for the Jew was that the Messiah would come twice, first as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. At the end of the age He will complete all prophecy with the day of God’s wrath. Jesus understood that anyone waiting for Messiah would expect Elijah first, and he was provided in the person of John who came in “the spirit and power of Elijah”. Consider how he works around this issue in Luke chapter four in the synagogue of Nazareth one Sabbath day when He was chosen to read from the prophet Isaiah chapter 61.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised.

To preach the acceptable of year of the Lord. Luke 4:18, 19.

After stopping the reading abruptly, he sits back down and every eye is on Him, wondering why He has stopped. He then declares, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your hearing.” So why suddenly stop reading? Because Isaiah 61:2 continued, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God”. We see the first and second coming mentioned in one verse, and Jesus declaring the fulfillment of only the acceptable year of the Lord.

So why do biblical scholars claim that the ministry of Jesus lasted three years? In John chapter 2 Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Passover when he drives the vendors from the temple, which is immediately followed by the days of Unleavened Bread. In John chapter 5 He returns to Jerusalem for the next feast, which would have been Firstfruits. In John chapter 7 He is at Jerusalem at the great feast, which is Tabernacles. In accordance with the Law of Moses, all Jewish men were required to appear “before the Lord” for these three feasts.

The next time we find Jesus in Jerusalem, Lazarus has been raised from the dead and all the people are already in the city for the upcoming Passover. He is greeted by the people as a coming king, in spite of the fact that He arrives on a donkey to fulfill the words of the prophet. He never sees the feast of unleavened bread and He keeps the Passover a day early because He knows his arrest and crucifixion are eminent. This completed the acceptable year of the Lord. Do you really think that Jesus came to Jerusalem three times as prescribed by the Law, worked miracles, declared Himself to be the Son of God and provoked the religious authorities by calling them a generation of vipers and then said No? Okay, I’ll try again next year for the less acceptable year of the Lord round two. Once Jesus reached the age of 30, He began His ministry and fulfilled His Father’s Will. When He comes again it will the Day of the Lord.