“There is a generation that curses its father, and does not bless its mother. There is a generation that is pure in its own eyes, yet is not washed from its filthiness. There is a generation – oh how lofty are their eyes! And their eyelids are lifted up.” (Proverbs 30:11-13)

Sadly, our generation mirrors many of the characteristics of a generation that does not honor and bless its parents. Many of us are indeed “pure in our own eyes,” yet remain rebellious to the very people YHWH specifically told us to honor. How this must grieve our Father’s heart to see our families falling apart.

In recent years, as I became serious about studying YHWH’s Word, my need for instruction in the area of honoring my parents became very evident. I wish to share with you a testimony of the Father’s faithfulness to my family.

The time in my life that I found it most difficult to honor my parents came when they decided to home school me and my three younger brothers. I was twelve years old, and this was also when we, as a family, were making the transition from being perfectly normal Baptist Christians to Torah-honoring, Messianic Israelites. Those were confusing times, and I must admit that I wasn’t entirely thrilled with all the changes we were making. I didn’t truly honor and trust my parents; in fact, I quite honestly believed they simply delighted in aggravating me by making our family as weird as they possibly could!

Fortunately, my parents did not give up on me. Although I’m sure it wasn’t easy, they remained patient and loving while explaining why they believed YHWH had called us to a different walk. It was during this time that I believe the Father instilled in me a great respect for my parents and a desire to seek Him as they did. Eventually, I began to grasp the error of the lifestyle I was clinging to, and began to see the beauty and blessing that is found when we lay our lives before our Creator and allow Him to guide us in the ways of His Kingdom.

As children, I’ve found that we’re placed under the authority and protection of our parents for many reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is that they hold a special calling from YHWH to teach us the commandments and provide an example for us to follow. As I write this, I am convicted of the many times I’ve chosen not to take advantage of following my parents’ example and instead went my own way. Yet I’ve found there is hope and renewal in repentance.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9).

Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Yeshua the Messiah (Phillipians 1:6).

What a wonderful promise that is! We can certainly apply it to the subject of honoring our parents. If we come before YHWH with a repentant heart and a desire to please Him in the future, He is faithful to change us by teaching us how to truly honor our parents. Let’s be a generation that honors and blesses our parents and brings glory to our Father in Heaven!

“Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things! And blessed be His glorious name forever! And let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and amen.” (Psalm 72:18-19)

Do you honor your parents too?

“Honor your father and mother, so that your days may be lengthened upon the land that Hashem, your God, gives you.” (Exodus 20:12)

Kibud Av Va’em is the Hebrew phrase that encompasses everything that “honor your father and mother” means. As with many Hebrew phrases quoted from the Torah, it means so much more than its face value. It is also a requirement that applies to all of us – no exceptions.

Because it permeates our entire lives, its meaning and specifications change as we mature. When we are young living in our parents’ home, the meaning is somewhat basic: be obedient. The best way to honor our parents is to listen to what they say, and follow their instructions for what we can and cannot do.

When we reach adolescence, the meaning of Kibud Av Va’em changes a bit. While we should still be obedient to what our parents tell us to do, we also have to learn how to interact with them. A new dynamic is introduced in our relationship – we are beginning to approach adulthood and take on the roles and responsibilities that accompany this transition. However, we must temper this changing time with the fact that our parents are still our parents – we do not become their equals just because we begin to mature.

Adulthood brings with it a whole new set of issues. The age difference between twenty and forty-five seems much less significant than the difference between ten and thirty-five. We tend to feel that when we reach adulthood, the relationship that we have with our mother and father should take on more consideration for us. After all, we have reached adulthood, and we desire to be treated as equals. We have begun to live on our own and provide for ourselves. We may have gotten married and begun to raise children. There is now more than ever, so much that we have in common. This tends to be the time when we lose sight of our responsibilities to our parents. Many of us know that we are to provide for our parents when they can no longer provide for themselves – in very much the same way they provided for us when we could not. Many of us fully intend to take on this responsibility when the time comes. However, at the age of forty or fifty, our parents do not seem to need this type of care from us yet. They are self-sufficient – they seem to be very much in the prime of their lives. What could they possibly need from us? What could we as new adults with our own families possibly have to offer them? Shouldn’t we be more concerned with carving out a place for ourselves and our own family?

We still want to have a relationship with them though, but we want to be treated as adults, as parents, as professionals – as equals! We are no longer the kids that took instruction from them, the adolescents that had to follow their rules. We are making our own rules now, and we want them to recognize, and in some cases, be obedient to them. We are ready to trade in the position of honor for one of mutual respect and friendship.

About seven years ago, I went through a series of situations that nearly destroyed my relationship with my father and mother. Catherine and I were busy raising a very active two year-old and newborn twins. I had a new job with increased responsibility, and I felt it was my time to demonstrate that I was now the father to be honored – in short, it was my turn to be in charge.

It was not that I didn’t love my parents – I did then, and still do today. What brought this change about were my feelings of equality with my mother and father. After all, we were all adults now – I was no longer a child, and did not want to be treated as one. I had left their house and their authority and started my own family. I even had scripture to back up the position I was taking: And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:23-24).

I had so many responsibilities to my own family that there was little time to think about honoring my “old one.” And even if I had thought about it, what could I have done differently? We still visited my parents, and they visited us. They got to see their grandchildren as often as was feasible, and I felt that we were doing fine relationship-wise. But I did not want to be told how to run my household, or how to raise my children.

Another detail came into the picture that had not existed before. Catherine and I were raised in the Episcopal Church, which practiced infant Baptism by sprinkling. We were not attending that church anymore, and wondered if we should have the twins Baptized. After much prayer on the matter, we decided that the reasons for it were not what we believed, and we decided not to do it. It was not an easy decision to make, as it was the first real break with the established religion that I had known since I was a child.

We decided to tell my parents about our decision, because we did not want them wondering why they had not been invited to the baptism (as they had no reason to suspect that we would not have them baptized).

The news went over a bit less successfully than I had anticipated. I never imagined that my mother and father would take the news so hard. My father even went so far as to insinuate that if anything happened to the twins, they would go to Hell. Both of them were sure I had joined a cult.

We could have gotten through this and maintained our relationship with my parents had the events that followed not taken place. I was sure that we had made the right decision concerning the baptism, but I did not want to be challenged on the matter. I assumed that any correspondence from my parents would seek to challenge my decision, so I chose not to deal with the correspondence. My father called and left messages; I did not call back. My mother wrote letters; I did not write her back. I did what many of us do when we are young and dumb – I chose not to deal with the situation at hand. Perhaps I thought that if I ignored it, that it would go away.

I justified the decision based partly on what I had learned from verses like Matthew 19:28-29: And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life.”

I had departed from what I saw as a dead, lifeless religion, set on finding “truth.” The Bible said that this was OK – I could ignore my family in the name of Yeshua. I was finding my way with my new family, trying to walk in the way that YHWH wanted me to walk. However, what I succeeded in doing was alienating myself from people that loved me, and presenting a terrible witness for devotion to Yeshua. I also succeeded in dishonoring my parents, although I did not realize it at the time. The people who had given so much, were repaid by my growing up and turning my back on them.

I am not saying that I should have had the twins baptized – that was a decision that Catherine and I made only after weeks of prayer and serious thought. What I should not have done was ignore my parents. They were confused, perhaps upset, and maybe even a bit angry. But they could not have forced me to do something that I didn’t think was right, and I should have realized this. I made a stand based on a scripture I did not understand. I thought I was free of any responsibility, just because they did not believe as I did. I ran away, when what I should have done was to stand firm in what I believed, and love and honor them as I always had. I had no reason to run away, because I had not done anything wrong. I had merely begun to grow in my understanding of my relationship with Yeshua.

How many Believers have fallen into this same trap when they begin to discover their Hebrew roots, and explore this Messianic lifestyle? It is so easy to take on a feeling of superiority, knowing that we have discovered the truth, and everyone else is walking in sin and darkness. Some of us may even desire to share it with our families, only to find that what we are saying is met with glazed eyes and unbelieving ears. Sometimes there really is a feeling on their part that we have gone terribly wrong. Most times however, they just want to understand what we are talking about.

What do we do then? Having convinced ourselves that this is the only path and all others lead straight to Hell, we isolate ourselves from those who were skeptical of our new-found “faith”. We search for like-minded individuals with which to fellowship, only to find that they are few indeed. Finally, we find ourselves stuck – we have burned the bridge back to our family, and we cannot seem to find any way off this uninhabited island we have created for ourselves.

About a year later I found out that I was to be transferred to Colorado. I did not want to move halfway across the country without making amends for my actions. I had cut them off, shut them out of our lives. I knew that I had hurt them, and I needed to ask for forgiveness. I visited my parents before we left. The visit was brief, and rather cold. They said they forgave me, but I could tell that they had not forgotten what I had done.

While we were in Colorado, I called my parents on their birthdays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I could tell each time that the miles were not the only distance between us. After a year in Colorado, I decided to leave the Army. We moved home to South Carolina, and I got a job in Columbia as a software developer. I had hoped that during my absence, my parents would have softened to what had happened two years earlier. However, I found this not to be the case. I could tell that they had not forgotten what I had done.

At first I thought that they still harbored resentment about the baptism. It was not until about three years ago, when I was at a Torah study in Columbia that I really began to understand the whole picture, and become aware of exactly what I had done. We were discussing the topic of honoring parents. I had always seen the fact that Abraham had left his home to follow YHWH as similar to my own situation. God had called Abraham out of his home and away from his family, just as I believed that He had done with me. We were talking about this when someone said, “But Abraham never severed ties with his parents.” The moment these words were spoken, I felt as if YHWH was speaking directly to me – Abraham never severed ties with his parents! This was true – they worshipped false gods, but he still considered them his parents. In fact, he sent his servant Eliezer to his father’s house to get a bride for Isaac. I realized that I had gone terribly wrong in my relationship with my parents. I also realized that I had no idea what it meant to honor my father and mother!

I immediately called my parents and invited them to my house – they refused my invitation. I invited them a second time and they said they would think about it, but then declined. I made trips to their house with the children, trying to demonstrate to them that I wanted them to be a part of our lives. And while this was going on, I was dealing with the fact that honoring our parents might be a command for life, and that I had somehow gotten very confused over its meaning.

What I discovered through this whole process is that the relationship we have with YHWH should mirror the relationship we have with our parents. I am not saying that we need to elevate our parents to the status of deity – what I am saying is that we learn how to interact with YHWH by interacting with our parents. And if, along the way, we build a lasting, personal relationship with YHWH, then at the very minimum, we owe our parents our lives, for showing us our Salvation.

When we are young, our relationship with our parents is one of dependence – we need them for everything. As we grow older, we transition to a relationship of obedience – we need them to teach us. Finally, when we are grown and no longer seem to need them, our relationship becomes one of gratitude – they have given so much, and in most cases, made tremendous sacrifices, to get us to where we are now. We owe them everything! How can we – how could I – turn away from them as if we don’t need them anymore?

I am not saying that my parents were or are perfect. They made plenty of mistakes in my life and during the past several years, but this was not license to terminate the relationship I had with them – especially if I wanted them to accept my apology for the mistakes I had made.

Honoring your kids is the best thing you can do for a healthy parent-child relationship.

Honoring our parents is our way of showing them that we appreciate the things they have done for us. Many things that our parents have done can never be repaid – even in monetary terms. We can not assign a price to the nights they sat up with us when we were sick or the kindness and understanding they showed us when no one would play with us at school. We did not have to beg for meals, and we always had a place to sleep and a roof over our heads. Our parents provided all of our physical needs, in the same way that YHWH provides all of our spiritual needs. It also serves to remind us that no matter how old we get, we will never be our parents’ equal. We will never be the same age, and we will probably never call them by their first names. Their position is set apart with regard to us – we are not on the same level with them.

When we begin a new family – when we leave and cleave – this is not license to stop honoring our parents. Just because we start a new family does not mean that we should forget all that they did for us to prepare us for this time. The command to honor our father and mother is also the only commandment that has a condition attached to it – …so that your days may be lengthened upon the land that Hashem, your God, gives you. Our children learn how to honor us by watching us honor our parents. If we do not honor our parents in the sight of our children, what are we teaching them? We are teaching them that parents are only useful when they are young; when they grow up, they will have no need for us. Failing to honor our parents does not necessarily mean that we will die at an early age (i.e., not live long in the land YHWH gives us) – it also means that we will be forgotten by our children when they do not honor us, just as we have forgotten our parents by not honoring them.

Honoring our parents does not mean that we have to accept their advice on all matters. It does mean that we should remember that there is probably experience behind the advice, and even if we decline it, we should do so with gratitude and respect.

We are commanded to honor our parents in the same manner that we are to recognize the existence of YHWH as our Creator. How we treat our parents will ultimately reflect what kind of relationship we have with YHWH – are we grateful to Him for our Salvation? Do we call on Him only when we need something, or do we have a daily interaction with Him? Will we eventually put away our relationship with YHWH because we don’t need Him anymore?

One of the hardest things for an adult to do, as I have witnessed, is to recognize that he owes his life to another person or people. But that is exactly the case with our parents. We owe them our lives; in the independence of adulthood, we must remain humble and remember this fact. We must honor them – we must show our gratitude for all that they have done, and remember that one day we will be in the same position with our own children. What will we teach them, and how will they treat us?

Those of us who claim that Yahshua is our Master yearn to live as He desires. We study to show ourselves approved, reach out to those who are lost, pray for the sick, and freely give to the needy. Our lives, according to the world’s standards, seem upright and holy. But what does He truly desire from us? What are His standards? How do we know when He is well pleased with our walk?

There were those during the first century who attempted to live lives of purity and holiness. Over time however, their hearts became more focussed on the outward appearance rather than on the inward attitude. Today, this same group of people are scorned from the pulpit and ridiculed from the pew. The Pharisees could indeed use a new public relations agency. Try as they may, the standard that our Messiah was seeking was different than they were attaining. They had built their own little towers of Babel attempting to please God and man with their actions rather than their attitude. They missed the boat. They came up short. Yet today, many of the same people who malign the Pharisees suffer from the same attitudinal shortcomings.

When Yahshua addressed these gentlemen in Matthew 23 we see He began by telling His disciples that the Pharisees “sit in Moses’ seat”. Thereby, He placed them in a great position of honor. He further instructed the people to do all that the Pharisee’s instructed them to do. So, here was our Messiah placing great authority and responsibility on the position that the Pharisees held. One problem though- that hypocrisy thing. Yahshua hates hypocrisy. Perhaps that is one reason why He led such a public ministry during His time on earth. Many people got to witness His actions at very close range. Day after day He walked among all the people from the rulers to the lepers. There indeed is no hypocrisy in Yahshua but the religious rulers of the day were filled with it.

But what was the cornerstone of the problem? Was it hypocrisy or misplaced priorities? Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone (Mt 23:23). The “omission” is the problem. This word (aphiemi) can be defined further by substituting the words abandon, leave, disregard or keep no longer. So we see that they not only “omitted”, but disregarded or abandoned these “weightier matters”. To disregard or abandon implies that you are familiar with these “matters” and knowingly or unknowingly turn away from them. Yet at the same time they chose to continue in the paying of tithes down to the smallest detail. Perhaps that action brought them more public acclaim. Or maybe it was just easier. Our human flesh likes “easy”. The Pharisees were all too human.

Judgement, mercy and faith, the “weightier matters”, are much more private and therefore much more difficult to obey. These deal with your heart attitude. These are what Yahshua seeks in His followers. However, with these three you see one interesting point. They are not singular but rather linked to each other in a plurality of attitude. An echad [unity] of attitude if you will. Let us examine each one individually and then see how they are linked together and applied in the lives of His people today… right in their home.

According to Dr. James Trimm, who has completed an extensive reconstruction of the Book of Matthew from the DuTillet Hebrew version for his Semitic New Testament Project, these three “weightier matters” are the Hebrew words, mishpat, khesed, and emunah. Mishpat means judgement or justice. Khesed is defined as loving-kindness, mercy or grace. Emunah translates as the English concept of trusting faithfulness. Trimm further states, “The Hebrew word for weightiest is khomerim, the plural of khomer (heavy, strict). Khomer was a technical halachic term which Hillel used in the First Rule of Hillel. The first rule of Hillel is kol v’khomer (light and heavy). This concept in Judaism recognizes for example that some mitzvot (commandments) hold greater weight than others. This is important because at times two commandments conflict and we must determine which one has priority.”

Judgement is a word that is typically shied away from these days. Judge not, that ye be not judged (Mt.7:1). Who wants to “judge” when the tables will be turned one day? Furthermore, how can we properly “judge” when we no longer have any standards? When the foundation of Torah is removed how do we define sin? So you see when we talk about judging we are indeed in murky waters. Then why did our Messiah say that judgement was a “weightier matter” even to the point of putting judgement on a parallel with faith. We must consider the audience. Remember that the Pharisee’s sat in Moses’ seat. This was indeed a seat that involved judgement (remember the first set of tablets?). The Pharisees, like Moses, sat in a seat of authority. The audience in Matt. 7 are the disciples. They had no earthly authority. Furthermore, Yahshua was teaching His students in Matt. 7 about how to live as one of His followers with each other on this earth. They had no authority to judge, the Pharisees did.

What authority do you have? Where is your dominion? Perhaps it is at work or perhaps you are in a seat of authority somewhere else as an elder, pastor, teacher or some type of local official. In that role, judgement is to be exerted wisely. Decisions must be made and judgement must be used for each of those decisions. When you select one thing, you judge against all of the others. The wise judge is the one who selects the best from all of the good choices. Sometimes this even involves individuals. Those in positions of authority have to make judgements on people all the time. Again, the issue here is not do they judge, but rather how do they judge? For those of you who have been placed in such positions you will understand that judgement is indeed a “weightier matter”.

Judgement without mercy is legalism. It becomes condemnation and breeds an attitude of superiority. Merciful judgement is righteous judgement. Judgement without mercy is totalitarianism. The mercy of the Scriptures is one of clemency ultimately found in the merciful gift of eternal life that Yahshua’s death and resurrection provided for all who believe on Him. Mercy is not ignorance. Mercy is not allowance for wanton disobedience. Mercy is not a get out of jail free card for the very act that placed one in jail undoubtedly had some price for others. Mercy is the very essence of our Messiah. One who was merciful enough to sit and teach His disciples for long periods of time following the Torah teaching method, And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deut. 6:7). This type of teaching takes dedication, patience and love. These same qualities can be found in true Scriptural mercy. Mercy should never be taken for granted or abused. Mercy should be cherished. Mercy must be honored and just like judgement, mercy is not a solo act. To come to the place where mercy is needed one must first apply judgement otherwise there is no need for mercy. A prisoner has no use for clemency without first having received judgement. Judgement and mercy go hand in hand.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). The third part of this equation is faith. For what good is our mercy without faith? Why make a merciful act if we do not have the faith that it will produce good fruit? Furthermore, why judge someone without the hope that the act of judgement will lead to true repentance. Your faith acts as the link between judgement and mercy. You cannot separate the three entities because they are dependent upon each other for their true fulfillment. We are all familiar with the verse “faith without works is dead”, the works here are indeed judgement and mercy. These are works of the Mighty One of Israel. YHWH issues the judgement, we see the merciful sacrifice of Yahshua and the thing that makes them both real to us is our faith. Just as the empowering element of the echad is the Ruach haKodesh [Holy Spirit]. Indeed in the “weightier matters” of judgement, mercy, and faith we can see a picture of the Father, Son and Spirit. Take one away and you diminish the other two for they are inseparable.

It is critical as we continue in our walk with Messiah that we keep the proper balance of these three important matters. Too often we see individuals or whole assemblies that tip the scales too heavily towards one of these matters. For instance, when one just looks at others with judgement they create a critical eye. Every little detail of the examinee’s life is put under a microscope in the name of “iron sharpening iron”. While discernment is important if you do not couple that judgmental attitude with mercy and faith you will never find anyone “good” enough for you to fellowship with. Then the assembly or individual crumbles from within. This is a cancer that unfortunately is alive and well in the Messianic movement today.

On the other end of the spectrum we see people who want to excuse everything in the name of mercy. Anything goes because we are to be “loving” and we do not want to be “judgmental”. Well, that is not true love that is ignorance. If you truly love someone you will mercifully approach them and attempt to help them. Not with a battering ram, but with merciful judgement and faith.

We who claim to walk in faith in our spirit, often have difficulty demonstrating faith in our flesh. Our faithfulness to our brothers and sisters is often sorely lacking. Typically, one thing or another will upset us and rather than demonstrating faith towards our brethren we issue judgement. We look at where they are now rather than where they will be later, after Messiah has completed His good work in them. This breaks up families, fellowships and hearts, even to the point of causing some to give it all up and run back to the “loving” world. Faithfulness should first be demonstrated in the Body of Messiah. For if we cannot be faithful to each other, how are we ever going to be faithful to Him?

In our homes we can see these three matters at work daily. The father of the family is typically the bearer of judgement, while mother is the merciful one. In this we see the male and female side of Yahweh right in our homes. Without both present, the home is out of balance. If the judgement and mercy do not work in harmony, the family is in chaos. Merciful judgement must be applied in every home or the fruit of the womb will be in dire trouble throughout their lives. But isn’t it our faith that allows us to continue? When things seem to stack up against us it is our faith that carries us through. If our children stray from the mark it is our faith that allows us to look at the good within them and hope for YHWH’s best for their lives. Many times as we raise our children, if we did not exercise our faith our hope would be diminished and our children ultimately lost. Yes, judgement, mercy, and faith are an integral part of any Scriptural home. The “weightier matters of Torah” are critical if we are to train up our children in the way they should go.

Whether it be in our homes, our assemblies, or our hearts, judgement, mercy and faith are ever present if we are to succeed. Lose sight of one of the three and you lose. No one ever walked out these three mattersbetter than Yahshua. We can never truly understand who He is until we understand these three matters fully. If we desire to walk as He walked, then we must work out our salvation under the covering of these “weightier matters”. These are where Torah begins and ends. These are what make the rest effective. Without these key ingredients, our search for knowledge and truth gets out of balance and we become Pharisaical. Without the proper balance, we swing back and forth from a jerky judgement to greasy grace. Our faith is in danger and our hope is diminished.

When we begin our relationship with Yahshua we typically have our scales out of balance. As we mature, our perspective changes and we begin to operate more effectively within the Body and as a witness to the world. Maturity brings balance. Or is it that balance brings maturity? Whatever the case, let us never loose sight of where we came from as we move forward. May we keep a proper perspective in our homes and in our congregations between judgement, mercy and faith. These are indeed the weightier matters. These are the matters that matter most. These are the keys to a believer’s effective walk. May you be blessed as you ponder your relationship with Him in light of these weightier matters.

Are you prepared for the times ahead? This is a question many are asking themselves today. The Lord told Noah to prepare an ark (Gen. 6), Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream to tell him to store food for a seven year famine (Gen. 41), and there are many more that were warned in the Bible. [Yahshua] Jesus is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). If we will only ask our Father and seek His will for our lives, He will show us how to prepare.

There is a preparation that the Lord is showing me that is even more vital than storing food, water, and the basics of every day living. It is the “Oil of Preparation” as spoken of in Matthew 25, the parable of the Ten Virgins. Let us read Matthew 25:1-13:

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

The people of God must have the oil in their lamps. This is vital to make it! Notice all the virgins took their lamps (they all had lamps), but the five foolish had no oil in their lamps. Why is the oil so important? First of all, without the oil the lamps would not burn. There would be no light. This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5).

The five foolish virgins’ light had gone out (Mat. 25:8). They had not been prepared. Let’s look at why the lamps had gone out. There was not enough oil in the five foolish virgins lamps. Why didn’t they have this oil? Let’s read Exodus 27:20. The Lord states, And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light to cause the lamp to burn always. The word beaten in Hebrew means to crush, beat down to pieces. Are we as the children of God to be crushed so that we can become pure and holy? As [Yahshua] Jesus said in Luke 9:23, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Revelation 19:7 states, Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. The foolish virgins had not prepared themselves.

The wise virgins kept the commandments of [Yahshua] Jesus. They had received the truth of God’s word, they had placed all on the altar and were rid of self. They were in the world but not of the world. They had walked the narrow road and were overcomers. They had been tried with the purification of fire as spoken of in Revelation 3:18, I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

The five foolish virgins came to the wise virgins and wanted some of their oil for their lamps, but as Matthew 25:9 states, But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. This tells us that the oil costs something. There was a price to pay. There are just too many believers not wanting to pay the price. They seek the pleasures of the world instead of seeking the Kingdom of God!

Proverbs 23:23 states, Buy the truth and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction and understanding. The wise virgins have God’s word in their hearts and there was no longer time for the foolish virgins to prepare; time had run out. It wasn’t that the wise virgins didn’t want to give them some of their oil, for it was not something they could give. It was something that had to be bought at a price. A man cannot borrow a relationship with the Lord; he must possess it. A man cannot borrow character; he must be clothed in it.

The bridegroom came and the five wise virgins went into the marriage and the five foolish virgins were left out. As in Noah’s day the door was shut. [Yahshua] Jesus told the foolish virgins, I know you not, just as in Matthew 7:21-23 when He said, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devile? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Let us all strive to be like the wise virgins with oil in our lamps. There is much blessed hope for the wise virgins because they will enter into the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. As Jeremiah 31:12-14 reads, Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the Lord.

Believers, we must be prepared, we must sound the alarm, we must have the oil in our lamps! He that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches (Rev. 3:22). The King is coming.

Read the bible on the phone!

When Scott asked me to write something on authority for Messianic Home, I thought about all the examples of authority I could pull from scripture, demonstrating where authority comes from, how authority is given to someone, and how some exercise, and even abuse, authority. After some study, I realized that I was overwhelmed with information, and, quite frankly, out of my league. I have written commentaries on every Parasha in the Torah, but I could not seem to figure out how to sort through all the information on this seemingly simple subject. After some time, I understood why this was not coming as easily as I had anticipated. It was because the groundwork regarding authority had not been laid. Before a person can attain a position of authority, they must be qualified. All the study and writing on what authority is does not matter if we do not know what the qualifications are. Unfortunately, there are more qualifications than time to write them all, so we will stick to the primary qualification upon which all the others must be measured: AGE.

Many times throughout scripture we read about the duties of God’s people, not assigned by their strengths or abilities, but by their age. For instance, when God outlines the tasks of the Levites in Numbers 8:23-26, He does so by age – a Levite is not permitted to serve in the Tabernacle until the age of twenty-five. When we first read this scripture, it appears to be in contradiction to Numbers 4:3, 23 and 30, which lists the age of the Levites who [come] to join the legion to perform work in the Tent of Meeting as thirty. Why does Numbers 8:23 mention the beginning age as 25? Levites may have been born as Levites, but they were not born knowing how to serve as Levites – they had to be taught. Thus, the Stone Edition Chumash states that the five years between age 25 and age 30 were used for apprenticeship so that the Levites could learn that which was required of them as workers in the Tent of Meeting.

Another point of view concerning this five year period is purported by Rambam. He explained that the five-year apprenticeship, still used today in training Rabbis, was instituted by Rabbinic tradition. He further explains that during this time, the young Levite was eligible to voluntarily assist other Levites in their assigned tasks. In many ways, this could also be considered a self-imposed apprenticeship. Even today, those who are successful in their chosen professions are those who take the initiative to participate in internships that allow them to watch and learn others who are already operating in the profession. The pay for these internships is usually little or nothing but the long-term reward is great.

Age does make a difference to God. He has established seasons of life in which we are to fulfill certain purposes. In The Pirkei Avos Treasury/Ethics of the Fathers, Mishna 5:25 contains a summary of the understanding of these age brackets:

“He [Yehuda ben Tema] use to say: A five-year-old begins Scripture; a ten-year-old beginsMishna; a thirteen-year-old becomes obliged to observe the commandments; a fifteen-year-old begins to study the Gemara; an eighteen-year-old goes to the marriage canopy; a twenty-year-old begins pursuit [of a livelihood]; a thirty- year-old attains full strength; a forty-year-old attains understanding; a fifty-year-old can offer counsel; a sixty-year old attains seniority…

In the traditional Hebrew society, there were certain ages at which certain things were to be accomplished. At the age of five, for example, a boy was to enter into the study of Torah, with the book of Leviticus. At age eighteen, a young man was to get married. And the reason we refer to the leaders of our congregations as elders is for the simple reason that they are, physically, our elders.

Why are these age brackets established? Why does age make a difference to God? It would seem that if a man is capable of something at a younger age, he should be given the opportunity at that time. The fact is, that each of these age brackets brings with it a certain level of authority.Contrary to popular belief, there is no authority “brass ring” – authority is realized throughout our lives as we grow and age and mature. Using our age brackets as an example, a man of eighteen years “goes to the marriage canopy” to assume authority over his household. He is able to do this because of the things he has accomplished up to this point.

Psalm 90:12 states: So teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom. Our lives are not meant to be a haphazard collection of years, but a meaningful progression through the things that God has ordained for us to accomplish, asHe gives us authority over different areas. This is not to say that He judges us solely on what we accomplish, because this is certainly not the case. God does however, desire thatwe number our days – that we make each day count, doing the things that He has ordained for us to do, in order, at that stage in our lives – so that at the end of our days, we can present to [Him] a heart of wisdom.

At 32 years of age, I was afforded the opportunity to teach Torah to a special group of people in Columbia. I saw this as an excellent opportunity, and immediately leapt at the prospect. As the year went on however, I realized that I was not properly equipped for the job. It was not because I did not know the subject – I had been studying Torah for two years, and had a working grasp of most of the concepts contained in it, as well as sometrue revelation. It was simply because I lacked the wisdom and the authority needed to teach a group like this one. Most of the people were older and wiser than me. In fact, I should have been their student and not their teacher. What they really needed was a teacher that had already been where they were at that time. They needed, according to Yehuda ben Tema, a fifty-year-old, who had not only reached full strength, but had also gained understanding and could offer counsel. This is not to say that no one learned anything in our studies. I can say without question that I learned a great deal, and I think that others did as well. Nevertheless, the study would have been better if there had been someone older who was available to teach, and had the authority to do so.

We also need to understand that our age brackets do not match up exactly with those listed in the Mishna. If we do not get married until age 30, we are as an eighteen-year-old in many ways and we should be doing those things that an eighteen-year-old should do. This means that our first responsibility in ministry is to our family. Deuteronomy 24:5 states: When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army, nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken.

God makes provisions for a husband and wife to have uninterrupted time together after they are married. It is very important for a newly married couple to establish a life together, and have time to raise small children, because this is the area of authority that God provides at this stage of life. All of this cannot be accomplished in a year, as prescribed in the above scripture, but it does give a time period in which a husband and wife begin to establish their family.

How much more important was it for the Levite to have the time to establish his family before he entered into Tabernacle service, which lasted the rest of his life! Even if an Israelite had to go to battle a year after he was married, the battle would not last forever and he would soon be home, reunited with his family. The Levites of today, the pastors and teachers, need to be afforded the opportunity to establish their families before they try to take on the management and administration of another family; their congregation. The stress that comes with small children can be overwhelming at times and to add the stress of pasturing a flock could bring the family structure to its knees. We should never feel as if the ministry the Lord has given us is competing with the children that He has given us. This is a sign that we are out of balance in some area of our life.

What did it mean in the Numbers passage to join the legion to perform work in the Tent of Meeting? It meant that this person, as the Mishna says, has attained full strength. They were now able, both physically and spiritually, to serve in the Tabernacle performing the various duties, which included the transport of the Tabernacle when the camp journeyed. They were the workers, responsible for the goings-on in the Tabernacle on a daily basis. Does this mean that they knew nothing – that all they were good for at the age of thirty was manual labor? Certainly not. On this subject, Midrash Shmuel states that until the age of thirty, one should study to increase his own knowledge; at thirty, those who canshould begin teaching and guiding others on the path of Torah. The Levites were, by age thirty, learned men. They had been studying Torah since they were five, and we can only assume that they were well versed in the teaching and instruction. Similarly, a thirty-year-old today may have engaged in his or her study of the scriptures for many years, and may be equipped with the necessary knowledge to teach others. This still does not mean that they possess the wisdom to offer counsel to others or to serve as an elder. They simply have not lived long enough, and therefore they do not possess the authority – self assurance and expertise that come with experience – to take on these roles.

At the age of forty, the Levites were still serving in the Tabernacle, and they had, according to the timeline in the Mishna, attained understanding. According to Tiferes Yisrael, this means that they had “the ability to understand the ramifications of an idea and extrapolate one fact from another. By the age of forty, one’s intellectual abilities have matured to the point where he attains this degree of perception.” It is also interesting to note the similarity between this age and the number of years the Children of Israel wandered in the Wilderness. The Sages say that a person does not fully understand his teacher until the age of forty and that it took the Children of Israel forty years in the desert to understand their teacher, Moses.

We can see this in action in Deuteronomy 29:3, when Moses address the Children of Israel after their forty years: “You have seen everything that haShem did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land – the great trials that your eyes beheld, those great signs and wonders. But haShem did not give you a heart to know, or eyes to see, or ears to hear until this day. The more understanding we acquire, the better equipped we are to teach others that which we have learned. There is a parable contained within Midrash Bereishis Rabbah that illustrates this point, using Abraham’s recognition of God at the age of forty:

“A person was once walking through the forest when he noticed a brilliantly lit castle in the distance. As he approached, he thought, “Can it be that the castle has no owner?” Immediately, the lord of the manner turned to him and cried out, “I am the owner of the castle.” Abraham, too, looked around at the wondrous world in which he lived, and asked himself, “Can it be that the world has no owner?” Immediately God focused His attention on him and cried out, “I am the Owner of the world.”

Just because Abraham came into the knowledge and understanding of who God is at the age of forty does not mean that he was ready to be the father of a multitude of nations. He had more to learn before God would recognize him as fit for this position. Likewise, teachers and pastors do not know everything at the age of forty, and may still not be equipped for the demands of their position. They may be able to teach, shepherd, lead and do a host of other meaningful and worthwhile functions, but may still lack the ability to draw from their life’s experiences and advise others, simply because of their age alone. It is hard to advise a grandparent or parent of an adult child, when one has not experienced those situations yet in their life. This person can only imagine what it is like.

To be fully capable of offering spiritual guidance and counsel, one must be able to draw from life’s experiences, as well as understand that on which he bases his decisions. Proverbs 4:7 states that: The beginning of wisdom is: Acquire wisdom; And with all your acquiring, get understanding. Additionally, Proverbs 9:10 states: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Knowledge is achieved on the path to wisdom, but it is not wisdom itself. Wisdom comes from understanding, but it also comes from having lived.

At the age of fifty, the Levites “retired” from physical labor in the Tabernacle and began a “new” career – that of advising others on spiritual matters. The elders consisted of men over the age of fifty, because they had lived long enough to be able to offer sage advice; they could weigh conflicting options and opinions impartially before offering advice (Rashi). This is the point at which God considers a person equipped to be a true spiritual leader and counselor, because they have become an authority in such matters. They have not ceased living or learning, but they have seen enough to be effective in this role. Likewise, a pastor should ideally be at least this mature to effectively lead his congregation and offer counsel to them on spiritual matters. He has studied, acquired knowledge and understanding, and obtained wisdom based on his life’s experiences. He is truly equipped to be a leader and an authority. It is as if the apprenticeship to be a Levite or a pastor has been going on for the past 25 years, preparing him for this role that he assumes at the age of fifty.

Having said all this, we turn our attention to those of you that are not yet fifty, but are pastoring a congregation. God has put you in this position for a reason, so please don’t change your leadership or be offended based on this commentary. It is God’s perfect plan for His people to number their days in this manner, but how many of us know that we nor the world in which we live are perfect, and we have a bad habit of getting in God’s way and messing up his plan. Does this mean that we have done something wrong? Of course not. It simply means that we got started before we knew everything that was required of us. Moreover, our lives do not always “line up” perfectly with His plan. If we got married at age twenty-five instead of eighteen, it would seem that we are off schedule.This just means that we have to take a detour, but we do not have to start over completely.

God has ordained specific seasons for certain purposes. There is a season to learn His teaching and instruction, a season to get married, a season to raise children, a season to work, a season to offer counsel, etc. Our task is to recognize the season that we are in, based on our age, family situation and what God has us doing, and that God has given us authority in specific areas at specific times. We then have to learn how to do what it is that is required of us so that we might move to the next season, thereby expanding our scope of authority. We have to learn to number our days, and remember that we cannot do that for which God has not equipped us. We have to be content to remain in the place He has put us, until such a time as He moves us to a higher level of responsibility, understanding, or wisdom. Authority comes from having lived – from having gained experience. Let us live first, and gain the experience required, before we claim to be an authority.

Let me begin by saying it is a privilege to write again for Messianic Home. My family has experienced so much of YHWH’s grace over the last four years. At times it has been difficult for us to know the direction He was leading us and we still seek to know His will. I am very thankful for the grace and patience Scott, Jane, their family, and all of our friends at Lamb Fellowship have extended to us. You have blessed us more than you will ever know.

I am also very thankful for the patience shown to me by my father and mother. They have struggled from the beginning with this “Messianic” direction we have taken and looking back it is no wonder…

Mom, Dad, my brother, and I grew up attending Rocky Valley Baptist Church in Lebanon, TN. As those that live in this area can attest – the name was a description of the land and not an indication of the spiritual condition. Our lives centered around the church and the activities that took place there. I don’t recall my family having any close friends outside of our church. Many times after church on Sunday we gathered with those friends for a large meal and then while the adults discussed the issues of the day, church and otherwise, we participated in a big game of tackle football in the front yard, rain or shine, hot or cold. Dad always allowed us to keep playing, even though the game had a terrible effect on our yard.

I remember when I was nine years old going to church and listening to a woman testify of how she was saved. I don’t remember her name, but her testimony jolted me and I saw myself for the first time. I knew then that I needed what she had. The next Sunday, during the invitation, I went forward and confessed before my pastor and the congregation that I was a sinner and needed to be saved. YHWH, I believe through His Son Yeshua, whom I knew as Jesus, saved me on that first day of spring 1970. Yeshua made Himself real to me and just like Paul, I could not deny the experience I had with the Messiah that day.

Mom and Dad stood with me in my decision to follow Christ. They were still supportive several years afterwards when in high school I made friends with and began to fellowship with some charismatic brothers and sisters and to experience and see things I had never seen before.

After Sherri and I married, we began attending an Assembly of God Church in Bowling Green, KY. On occasion my parents would visit, although they never quite felt comfortable with all the excitement that was generated in those services, but they still supported us. I truly believe they were just glad to see us active in a church, although different from their own, still a church.

After many years away, we were able to move back to Lebanon and live on a small farm next to my parents. We now had 6 children and we wanted a church where we could all worship and study together. After searching awhile we finally began a home fellowship with another family. Again it was not what my parents would have chosen. They would have liked us to fellowship with them, but they got used to the idea and supported us.

Please understand that it has always been important to me to respect and honor my parents. When I thought that my father or mother would disapprove of something we were doing I would be in turmoil until I could prove to them that what we were doing was okay.

Looking back it probably began at Passover. As we studied in our home fellowship we began to realize that the religious holidays we observed were not biblical and we decided to observe Passover. So we found a Seder to attend and did it. Our first biblical feast was wonderful. But, still having no real conviction against Easter we also participated in the family egg hunt that year. All was still well with the family, however it was too late – a seed had been planted.

YHWH began to reveal many things to us in Scripture, and we began to have questions. I don’t believe it was coincidence that a family – with the last name Diffenderfer – moved to Lebanon from Florida and joined us in our home fellowship. I’ll never forget the first meeting they attended – we served pork hotdogs. I didn’t realize until later why they weren’t very hungry that evening.

A spiritual earthquake was about to take place in our lives and the aftershock would be felt for miles – well at least over the hill.

Needless to say my parents were concerned. Within a short period of time we embraced what was to them a very strange, foreign doctrine. Sacred titles and names were changed. Christmas and Easter were gone. Pesach, Shavuot, Yom Teruah, Yom Kippur, and Succoth were the new holidays. No more pepperoni pizza, pork barbeque, shrimp, catfish, or crab legs. In Tennessee the question is, can you eat breakfast without sausage, bacon, or country ham? To them the prohibited food list was endless. I can still see the look on my mother’s face when she tried to serve the children jello…

“Cult” – that was the word used many times to describe our small group. Our belief was so radically different. We acted and sometimes looked Jewish, but we believed in the Messiah. A very odd combination looking through the eyes of my parents steeped in a rich southern Baptist tradition.

Through all this my parents still loved me. They have shown me time and time again what love is. All through Scripture I see things we can argue about and disagree on but we cannot disagree on the subject of love. I confess that in my zeal to walk this walk I have been guilty of not loving others as I should and sometimes that included my parents. One of my greatest times was when I was able to sit down with my dad and share with Him what I believed. He was so relieved that in all the changes we had made that I had not abandoned the fundamentals of the faith. I still believed in the deity of Yeshua, and only through Him could I be saved.

The most important fundamental element of our faith is love. I am eternally thankful to my parents for leaving a legacy of that kind of love for me and my children.

I want to encourage you as you walk this walk and begin to understand YHWH’s word to remember what James tells us, that if we offend in one point we are guilty of all. The 5th commandment is not conditional or optional; Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land which YHWH thy Elohim giveth thee.

Though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains and have not charity (love), I am nothing.

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When our family first began to keep the Sabbath as a Holy day I was a little overwhelmed in trying to accomplish all my Sabbath preparations on time. As the weeks progressed, I was continually coming up short of time on Friday afternoon. I began to see the need to rearrange my entire weekly routine so we could prepare for a peaceful Shabbat rather than be exhausted when Friday evening arrived.

If we begin our week with anticipation of the Sabbath, then all our work for the week will lead up to a blessed rest day. The first day of our week is our farm work and home school planning day. This day sets in motion the Monday through Thursday school days.

We usually grocery shop on Wednesday afternoon. I check my pantry and determine what delicious menu items we will prepare for Friday evening and make sure that we have wine, grape juice, and all the baking supplies on hand to create the best dinner of the week.

Thursday is our baking day. We make two loaves of challah (braided bread) for the Sabbath table. We braid this bread with 12 pieces of dough representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Sometimes, instead of braiding we twist two pieces of dough together for the the Two Sticks of Ezekiel 37. We also bake a special dessert for Erev (Eve of) Shabbat and cinnamon rolls for breakfast. We do our baking on Thursday because it makes such a mess in our kitchen. When we used to bake on Friday morning, but it took up too much time from our house cleaning. So we had to adjust the baking to the day before our main preparation day for Shabbat. On Thursday afternoon I also prepare something to eat for our fellowship gathering on Sabbath.

I really like Fridays. In our home we do a life-skills home school day and do a team work job of cleaning the house. We have our home divided into cleaning zones. Each one of our school aged children have a zone to keep up with during the week and they really make them shine on Friday morning. Since we currently have seven children who are able to work we have the house divided into seven zones. Ben, our eldest, is in charge of the second floor bedroom and the loft. Matt is responsible to clean the living room and sun room. John takes care of the kitchen and dining room. Sarah cleans the bathrooms and the master bedroom, Daniel cleans the main hallway and the little boy’s bedroom. Luke tidies up the yard and organizes the basement closet and garage area. Bethany, our 5 year old, cleans her room with my supervision. We try to keep Aaron, our pre-schooler helping someone so he is not making a mess while we are cleaning up.

To make sure that the children do a thorough house cleaning I have typed up lists for each zone so they know what they are supposed accomplish. When they are finished I check the list to make sure they have completed all their work. Then we go out to lunch and take a trip to the library. We return to a tidy home for nap time and read library books.

Late in the afternoon I begin dinner and we set the table with all the finery we have. In the spring and summer we pick flowers for our table. We set out our Sabbath candles and light an oil lamp in between the candles. We light the oil lamp early in case we are unable to come to the table before the sun sets. With the flame of the oil lamp we light our Shabbat candles. I like to keep the oil lamp burning all of Shabbat as a reminder that we are to be prepared as the five wise virgins for the return of Yahshua.

When we are ready for dinner we all come to the beautifully set table with the wine and grape juice poured and the challah placed near my husband for the blessings to be spoken. I live for this moment each day of the week.

Any Questions?

These verses provide the basis for why we should praise, worship and revere our Heavenly Father. We are not worthy of the many blessings that the Lord allows us. He is our Lord and is in a covenant relationship with all of Israel. We are able to feel confident as we strive to know Him and are known by Him. He should expect us to honor Him and we honor Him through our praise and worship. Think about it. If we do not praise Him, who will?

We should worship Him by singing, playing music, dancing, and shouting His praises to glorify His name.

When we first came into the Messianic walk, it was not unusual to see people dancing during worship. The only problem was that most of them were females below the age of 18. We had great worship, full of many powerful songs. At that time I loved to worship the Lord with song. Those who know me know that I have never been a great singer, but that did not stop me. Of course, some around me probably didn’t appreciate my singing, but I was not singing for them! At that point in time I would have never thought about dancing with our congregation.

As time passed by, I noticed that some of the young men had started dancing with the rest of the congregation. My wife and I had numerous conversations about the next generation of men who would not be hindered by their ability to praise the Father. They wouldn’t be worried about what others would think. After some time my wife started dancing during our congregational praise and worship. Soon after I got up and danced with them, but felt very uncomfortable. Must be a man thing. At some point I came to the conclusion that this uncomfortable feeling that I had was of the flesh. I believe that the Lord expects and deserves to be worshipped with everything that we have. We should not allow our flesh to cheat us out of the opportunity to show him the power of our love.

We should be concerned about what it says in John 4:23, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

I believe that we should all set a good example for the generations to come. They will be the congregation leaders, the worship leaders, dancers and singers.

I feel that we are in practice for a time when we will be able to dance on the streets of Jerusalem and before the Son of Man. Will you choose to do as David did in 2 Samuel 6:14 “And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod.” Or will you sit on the sidelines like I did for so long? My prayer is that you will participate in worship that is worthy of the mighty one of Israel.

Dear Mom,

Even though it happened over a year ago, I remember your words as if you just spoke them. I had just told you that we were leaving Virginia and moving to Lebanon, Tennessee to join LAMB Fellowship. “I’m just afraid that you might be joining a cult”, were your words. I was surprised, but not shocked, for you were not the first nor the last to use the “cult” word. “Sabbatarian”, “Judaizer”, and “Legalistic”, were some of the other labels that were hurled at us by Christian “friends”. I am sure that you did not realize that LAMB Fellowship was made up of a handful of local families who live across town from each other, along with the other regional families who travel a couple of hours to join us for our meetings. I explained to you that we were not moving into a commune where everyone shared their deodorant, toothbrush, wife, etc. Even though I was trying to reassure you that YHWH was leading us to be part of His body here, you needed a different kind of reassurance. You then asked the standard question that is the accepted litmus test of whether someone is involved in a cult or not: “Who do you say Jesus is?” “Wow”, I thought… “my mother actually thinks that we have joined a cult.” I answered with my understanding on what I was taught and/or led to believe in church about who the Christian Jesus was. I then explained to you how I came to realize that there were a lot of things that did not line up between the Christian Jesus and my Israelite Messiah, Yahshua. I wondered if they could possibly be the same being. I told you that I believe in YHWH Almighty as the creator and my Heavenly Father. I believe that He sent His son Yahshua to show us how to live, how to obey our Father YHWH, and then to die an atoning, sacrificial death for those who accept, believe, obey, and endure to the end. I believe that YHWH sends His Spirit to dwell in those true disciples who obey Him to empower us to live an obedient life, sometimes even seeing miraculous, supernatural gifts exhibited. I do not know if this satisfies your desire of belief that I must acknowledge “the trinity” in order to be saved, but this is what I believe the Scripture teaches.

Mom, this is the most difficult letter I have ever written and it hurts to write it. I remember some of the letters you wrote to me when I was a wild worldly young man (although I was a member in good standing at church… when I felt like going). You wrote letters because I would not listen to your words. They made me very uncomfortable so I only let you get so close while carrying on a somewhat pleasant, but shallow relationship. Please forgive me for not honoring you in the past. Although it may not seem like it, I am trying to honor you now. I am walking a path that is difficult; and I have not had the older men around to help lead me through. It is a path that I pray my children will not have to struggle with. It is very difficult, and almost ironic, to teach them to obey me and trust me and follow in my footsteps, when I am not following in the footsteps of my parents. I want to be honest while still compassionate, and that is sometimes difficult for me. But Mom, we now believe things quite a bit differently; and I am afraid for you. You are afraid that I am involved in a cult, while I am convinced that you are practicing a Christianity that teaches false doctrines. Can we believe things that are opposed to each other and both still be right?

Can you please tell me what do you mean by the word “cult”? Does it mean that I am simply believing some things in error? Or is it so serious that my damnable doctrines ensure that I will not inherit eternal life in the Kingdom of YHWH? If I am only in error about some things, I wish someone would point it out. If my beliefs are damnable, I really wish someone would point it out. You asked if I had talked to a Presbyterian Minister about my beliefs. Mom, I spent a good part of my life as a Presbyterian. But I did ask you to set up a meeting with my brothers or any minister or anybody. I welcome it, because I do want to be Scripturally correct. I am still waiting for that meeting… but you better hurry. As your other three sons are looking all over the continent for some place to try and live to survive Y2K, it may become more difficult to get together.

Have you ever looked up the definition of cult? Webster’s says: “a group or system of religious worship”. Great… thanks alot… we are all a cult! So I went to Walter Martin’s book, Kingdom of the Cults, to see how he defined it. He uses Dr. Charles Braden’s definition: “A cult, as I define it, is any religious group which differs significantly in some one or more respects as to belief or practice from those religious which are regarded as the normative expressions of religion in our total culture”. Mr. Martin then adds to this that “…a cult might also be defined as a group of people gathered about a specific person or person’s mis-interpretation of the Bible”. Do you see what power these Christian leaders have? Whatever differs from what they consider normal religion can be labeled as a cult. It seems if you do things a little different from the masses (no Catholic cult pun intended), you can be labeled as a cult. Once a person or group is labeled as a cult, they are discredited and there is no reason to even listen to or consider what they believe or why they believe it. According to the Mr. Martin’s first definition, I guess I am in a cult. But I believe I am in good company because my Messiah was accused of not practicing the normal religion of His day. When a false teacher considers me cultic, should I take that as a compliment?

According to the second part of his definition, Christianity is a cult because they follow in the Catholic churches misinterpretations. No, I am not saying that everything Walter Martin or Christianity has taught is false. But not everything the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses teach is false either. Where do we draw the line? Who decides how much we have to believe correctly to inherit eternal life? I believe YHWH does. Whose doctrine are we to follow? Mom, please consider John 7:16-19: Yahshua answered them and said, ‘My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me. If any man wills do to His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of Elohim, or whether I speak of myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him. Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?’ The Messiah said that His doctrine was from His Father YHWH; which is written for us in what is called the Old Testament. Yahshua showed us how to obey His Father’s commandments; not how to get away with disobeying them. True doctrine equals obedience. Mom, I am thankful that you introduced me to the Scriptures, for it is in them that I have come to believe what I believe. Sure I read other material and listen to other men teach. But how do I know if they are true, or deceitful? Isaiah had a word of warning and exhortation for us: To the law (Torah) and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Isaiah 8:20). Is anything I am saying making any sense? I desire so much for us to be able to walk this walk together. I want you to search the Scriptures and see if what we were taught is correct. How do I humbly say that I have walked the Christian walk that the Church teaches and I saw the error, so now I am walking in the truth? I have such a long way to go, but I would never get there in a Christian Church. I must work out my salvation with fear and trembling; worshipping in spirit and truth.

I am not sure at what point we crossed over the line in your eyes. You would sometimes attend services with us at the Messianic Jewish Synagogue when we first started walking this walk. You even joined us for a couple of Passover Seder meals. What was the turning point that caused us not to be able to discuss the Scriptures? Was it the Sabbath and Feasts… rejecting christmas and easter and the other pagan holidays… Annie being convicted to wear a covering and more modest attire… keeping a Scriptural diet… or was it that the newness and excitement had worn off and you saw that these were convictions, not just beliefs? Could it have been my zeal or did I antagonistically cause you to retreat in silence? If this is the case, then please forgive me. I had no right to do that.

Mom, you know me about as well as anyone and you know that I want to be right. But in the past, I wanted to be right so I could say I was right. Now, the stakes are much higher. I want my life to line up with Scripture so that I can teach my children to walk in His ways. Please tell me what we are doing wrong? What is it that keeps you from walking with us? We love His Sabbath and Feasts because they are a gift. Just as King David said: Oh, how I love Your law (Torah), we love His law. If David was a man after YHWH’s own heart why would I not want to learn from his example of loving YHWH’s law? If the Messiah obeyed the law perfectly and He is to be our example, how can we say we love Him and not obey Him? If Paul said: Be imitators of me as I am an imitator of the Messiah, how can people twist Paul’s words and teach that Paul showed us that we need not obey? It just doesn’t make sense. Who can improve on YHWH’s commandments? Has anyone come up with a better plan? How can Sunday church, lunch at a restaurant, shopping, and then watching T.V… how can it compare to a Sabbath dinner at home where we break bread and partake of the fruit of the vine while the children are all saying what they are thankful for… never forgetting to say “And you don’t have to go to work tomorrow”? How can it compare to a restful day at home, reading, singing, praying, taking naps, then getting together in the home of one of the families where we sing, read, share, teach, pray for each other, eat together, and enjoy real fellowship? We pleaded with you to stay with us, to experience it with us. It hurt when you went back home on Friday. But Mom, I am hurting more for you. Many years ago you wrote to me: “Tom, I know things are not right – I can see it in your eyes, I can hear it in your voice. It is very difficult to talk to you at times like this but we must talk”. You also gave me a card that said “It’s been bothering me lately when… I didn’t talk about things with you as I should have… and as you so surely deserved. It’s not that I didn’t want to… it’s just that I sometimes get confused about what’s going on; and the more confused I get, the more silent I get and the more I retreat within to feel safe and secure”. Mom, I know things are not right. I can see it in your eyes and hear it in your voice. At times like this it is very difficult to talk to you, but this is no time to be confused, or silent, or to retreat to a false sense of safety and security in your church. Mom, we must talk. If my child was to join something to which I was not part of, you better believe that I would be right there next to him finding out what was going on.

You know that I am not very sentimental, but this is very difficult. I’m sure I could say more but maybe I have used too many of my own words and not prayed for His Spirit to lead you to His own words. Please pray about these Scriptures; I believe YHWH is leading me to share these with you. YHWH is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Thy word is truth (John 17:17). Thy law (Torah) is the truth, and, All thy commandments are truth (Psalm 119:142, 151). Through thy precepts I get understanding; therefore, I hate every false way (Psalm 119:104). He that turns away his ear from hearing the law (Torah), even his prayer shall be an abomination (Proverbs 28:9). For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you believe not his writings, how shall you believe my words? (John 5:46, 47). We use to sing the song Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of YHWH (Deut. 8:3 and Matthew 4:4). The remnant or saints as described in Revelation are those that keep the commandments of YHWH and have the testimony, or faith of Yahshua (Revelation 12:17, 14:12). But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says YHWH: I will put my law (Torah) in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their Elohim, and they shall be my people (Jer 31:33). Not everyone who calls me, Master, Master, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Master, Master, did we not prophesy by your Name, and by your name cast out demons, and by your Name do many mighty works? And then I will profess to them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23). The law of YHWH is perfect (Psalm 19:7). Perfection can not be improved upon. The improvement comes when we follow Yahshua’s example of obedience.

Mom, please realize that I do not stand in judgement of your heart. Only YHWH can do that. I see the warnings of Scripture and it concerns me greatly. If you are walking in the truth, then there is nothing I could say or do to cause you to stumble. But if you are walking in the truth, I am not… I wish someone would love me enough to show me the error of my ways. I appreciate everything you did for me growing up; and even after. I know it was not easy raising us four boys by yourself after Dad died. I do not wish that on anyone. I always knew you loved me and for that I am grateful. Could it be though, that somehow you have pointed me towards this narrow path… but you are unwilling to join me? Please Mom, say it ain’t so. My tears are going to make this difficult to read so I better close. I love you, I wouldn’t have taken the time if I didn’t.


Hanukkah is here, that special time of year. The time of bitter sweet rejoicing. A time for family. A time for rededication. A time to focus on the promise of the resurrection. A time to let your menorah shine before men.

Did you know that we are commanded to teach our children about Hanukkah? Look up the Scripture in Proverbs 22:6.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

The Hebrew word for “train up” in this verse is chanuk. Chanuk (pronounced with a gutter “ch” – “h” sound) is the root word in Hanukkah and it means dedication. The Exegeses Bible puts it this way: Hanukkah up a lad. So we are encouraged by the Scriptures to teach our children about Hanukkah (Dedication) to the Lord Yahweh.

Here are some suggestions to make Hanukkah memories that will last a lifetime:

Read the story of Hannah and her seven sons from 2 Maccabees 7:1-42 and 4 Maccabees 8:1-18:21. The Maccabees books are found in the Apocrypha of some Bibles. It is a powerful teaching about one family’s dedication and determination to serve the God of Israel and Him only no matter what the cost. Hannah’s steadfast testimony for the Word of God is one of courage and endurance to the end.

Read the story of another family’s dedication to YHWH – the family of Mattithias also found in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th Book of Maccabees.

During the time of the Maccabees the God-fearing Jews met together secretly to read and study Torah. To hide their activity from the king’s spies they would play a gambling game with a dreidel (spinning top with 4 Hebrew letters on it) so if an enemy would come to the door they would appear to be playing a game instead of reading the Scriptures. Try reenacting this by reading the Word of God together and keep your dreidel nearby. Have someone pretend to be an enemy soldier and try to conceal your Bible and pretend you are playing a game. See the Dreidel Game Code below. If you don’t have a dreidel, play Yahtzee instead.

Light a Hanukkah menorah each evening or try lighting an oil lamp for each of the 8 nights. Light one lamp the first night and increase the light until you have 8 lamps burning. The old fashioned metal oil lamps work especially well for this. Try setting them outside the front door of you home. If you have a mezuzah on the right side of your door, place the 1st lamp on the left side of your door. Continue adding lamps to the left of the first on each consecutive night of Hanukkah. This is what they did when Yahshua was a boy and is why the Hanukkah menorah is lit from right to left.

It is fun to exchange gifts for Hanukkah but if you are concerned about over commercializing the holiday, try gathering together and do special activities in the evening that you usually do not make time to do regularly. Try a family Lego building night or play board games, dominos, checkers, or cards. Playing together as a family by the light of the menorah burning is especially cozy on a cold winter night.

Part of the joy of Hanukkah is the story of the rededication of the temple and the relighting of the menorah oil. Therefore, special food fried in oil can make the holiday extra memorable. Make fried potato pancakes and serve them with sour cream. Or try making doughnuts, fried cheese sticks, or egg rolls.

Decorate with twinkle lights, candles, and menorahs. Create glitter posters with Biblical themes of light, such as,

“Yahshua is the Light of the World” and “The Light that Shines in the Darkness.”