Thursday, January 29, 2015

Attractive Deception - Chapter 2

The Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees

There is an interesting story in the Talmud (in the tractate Bava Mezia 59b) that illustrates the attitude of many Orthodox Jews toward the Scriptures. This popular story centers on a group of rabbis who are holding a halakhic debate as to whether an oven that has become religiously unclean can be made clean again. (Halakha refers to principles and rules for living which inform Jews about how they are to conduct their lives.) In this story found in the Talmud, the majority of the rabbis conclude that an unclean oven cannot be made clean again. A certain rabbi by the name of Eliezer disagrees, asserting that it can be made clean again. This led to the following exchange:

On that day, Rabbi Eliezer put forward all the arguments in the world, but the Sages did not accept them. Finally, he said to them, “If the halakha is according to me, let that carob-tree prove it.” He pointed to a nearby carob-tree, which then moved from its place a hundred cubits, and some say, four hundred cubits. They said to him “One cannot bring a proof from the moving of a carob-tree.”

Said Rabbi Eliezer, “If the halakha is according to me, may that stream of water prove it.” The stream of water then turned and flowed in the opposite direction. They said to him, “One cannot bring a proof from the behavior of a stream of water.”

Said Rabbi Eliezer, “If the halakha is according to me, may the walls of the House of Study prove it.” The walls of the House of Study began to bend inward. Rabbi Joshua then rose up and rebuked the walls of the House of Study, “If the students of the Wise argue with one another in halakha,” he said, “what right have you to interfere?” In honor of Rabbi Joshua, the walls ceased to bend inward; but in honor of Rabbi Eliezer, they did not straighten up, and they remain bent to this day.

Then, said Rabbi Eliezer to the Sages, “If the halakha is according to me, may a proof come from Heaven.” Then a heavenly voice went forth and said, “What have you to do with Rabbi Eliezer? The halakha is according to him in every place.” Then Rabbi Joshua rose up on his feet, and said, “It is not in the heavens” (Deuteronomy 30:12).

What did he mean by quoting this? Said Rabbi Jeremiah, “He meant that since the Torah has been given already on Mount Sinai, we do not pay attention to a heavenly voice, for You have written in Your Torah, ‘Decide according to the majority’” (Exodus 23:2).

Rabbi Nathan met the prophet Elijah. He asked him, “What was the Holy One, Blessed be He, doing in that hour?” Said Elijah, “He was laughing and saying, ‘My children have defeated me, my children have defeated me.’”
[End Excerpt]

Hyam Maccoby, a British Jew who was both a scholar and author, shared the following comment on this passage from the Talmud. “This extraordinary story strikes the keynote of the Talmud. God is a good father who wants His children to grow up and achieve independence. He has given them His Torah, but now wants them to develop it...”

Dear saint, do you perceive the serious error in what is revealed regarding the attitude of the Orthodox Jew toward God and His holy Scriptures? Does Yahweh truly desire for His people “to grow up and achieve independence?” Does Yahweh want His people to direct their own way and rely upon their own wisdom to such a degree that they do not even heed the voice of God speaking from the heavens? Did Yahweh actually instruct the Hebrew people at Mount Sinai to “Decide according to the majority”? The Scripture cited to support this dangerous view is the following:

Exodus 23:2
You shall not follow a multitude in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice...

The rabbis of Israel have twisted this verse to derive from it something Yahweh never intended. The divine intent of this commandment is that a man must stand for truth, righteousness, and integrity, even when the multitude around him is clamoring to do evil. The rabbis read into this commandment the principle that the majority opinion should rule, but only when the majority is not clamoring for that which is false, unrighteous, or evil. This rabbinic interpretation is an example of casuistry - the use of clever but unsound reasoning, especially in relation to moral questions.

This idea of God assigning to man the principle of majority rule is a fabrication. Yahweh never gave any commandment that the Hebrew people should determine halakha, the laws of how life should be lived, through majority rule. A very great transition occurs when a person adopts this false view. No longer is God viewed as the judge and determiner of truth, life, and justice. Man steps into God’s place, being the final arbiter of how the Scriptures are to be applied to daily life, and going far beyond the Scriptures to create a body of legislation and advice on subjects the Bible does not address.

At the heart of this fictitious tale found in the Talmud are the words ascribed to Rabbi Joshua, “It is not in the heavens.” To what does “It” refer? The answer is “Judgment,” “Rule,” “the establishing of halakha (Jewish Law).” These things are not to be found in the heavens. The argument behind this claim is “that since the Torah has been given already on Mount Sinai, we do not pay attention to a heavenly voice.” In other words, God has already given the Hebrew people His law. Now they are on their own to apply it and develop it into a full and mature body of legislation and counsel to inform the Jewish people in every aspect of how life should be lived.

With subtlety worthy of Satan himself, the Jewish “sages” followed in the footsteps of Lucifer when he aspired to make himself like God, to rule his own life, and to no longer be ruled by God.

Isaiah 14:13-14
But you said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”

Is it not “independence” that Lucifer was seeking? He did not want to be ruled by God. He wanted to be equal to God, choosing his own way, ruling his own life. This same attitude is being taught in this passage from the Talmud. Rabbi Joshua argues that the answer to questions on the Law cannot be found in heaven, they must be resolved by man. “We don’t need to pay attention to a heavenly voice.” We see a great contrast in the life of Christ. He was always beholding the Father. He only did what He saw His Father in heaven doing, and He only spoke the words His Father commanded Him to speak.

John 5:19
Yahshua therefore answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.”

John 5:30
I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”

John 8:28
Yahshua therefore said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me.”

John 8:42
Yahshua said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.”

John 12:49
For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak.”

John 14:10
“Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.”

Though Yahshua was equal with God, He did not seek independence. He stated “As I hear, I judge.” What a great contrast this is to the teaching of the Talmud. The Talmud tells the Jewish people to ignore the heavenly voice. It instructs them that they are on their own. They are to “grow up” by no longer looking to God to inform them about sin, and righteousness, and judgment. This is the cunning of Satan. This is the spirit of antichrist. The Son of God did not come to lead men to independence from His Father. He came to draw men unto Him. Yahshua consistently declared the need of God’s people to be dependent upon, and in communion with, God through the agency of the Holy Spirit.

John 16:7-13
“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged. I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth.”

The Talmud teaches that men can determine their own truth. It is filled with the thoughts and opinions of the rabbis as they applied their carnal minds to the interpretation of God’s word. Christ has testified that we need the Spirit of God to know truth. His apostles declared the vital role of the Holy Spirit in ascertaining the thoughts of God, and the utter inability of the carnal mind to apprehend spiritual truth.

Romans 8:14
For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

I Corinthians 2:11-14
For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

As disciples of Christ we are to bear much fruit for the glory of God. We are informed that we can ONLY bear fruit if we ABIDE in Christ. We do NOT want to be independent. The branch that is independent from the vine withers away. It will be gathered up and cast into the fire.

John 15:4-8
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”

Talmudic Judaism is apostate because it has separated itself from God. The Son of God declared this to be true. He warned His disciples of the persecution they would suffer at the hands of those who claimed to be doing service to God. Christ’s disciples would suffer because their persecutors, the Orthodox Jews, do not know Yahweh or His Son.

John 16:2-3
“They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. And these things they will do, because they have not known the Father, or Me.”

Having pursued a course of “independence” from God, the Jews consider themselves to be emancipated. They do not acknowledge the need to wait upon Yahweh to know His mind and thoughts. The independent action of the Hebrew people included developing their own law (Torah). This is what Hyam Maccoby admitted when he summed up the message contained in this Talmudic story. “This extraordinary story strikes the keynote of the Talmud. God is a good father who wants His children to grow up and achieve independence. He has given them His Torah, but now wants them to develop it...

This is precisely what the Jews did. They “developed” their own Torah. Their Torah is the Oral Torah, now referred to as the Talmud. Along with the Talmud, the Jews venerate the Midrash.

Midrash Set

The Midrash is a second body of writings that is closely associated with the Talmud. Its contents were written by many of the same men who contributed to the Talmud. The Midrash is organized differently than the Talmud. The Talmud is arranged topically, for the many opinions of the rabbis did not fit well with a Scriptural layout. The Midrash, by contrast, follows the layout of the Bible. It is similar to a running commentary on various books of the Bible. The Scriptures are cited, alongside of which are copious comments by the rabbis. It is not unusual to find a fragment of a single verse attended by pages of rabbinical commentary. The rabbis also presume to fill in “gaps” in the Bible narrative as they supply information that is absent from the divinely inspired words of Scripture.

There is much pride revealed by those who would add to the word of God. An absence of holy fear towards the Creator is manifested when men begin to tinker with the message Yahweh delivered to mankind. Far from being the reflections of wise men who had a deep reverence for the holy words of Yahweh, the Midrash is filled with idle speculations and vain babbling of the most base and ignoble kind. To illustrate, I have chosen certain portions from the Midrash of Genesis (Bereshith). I will begin with the rabbis’ comments on Adam’s creation. (Note, the abbreviation “R.” stands for “Rabbi,” while “b.” signifies “ben” meaning “son of.”

R. Jeremiah and R. Leazar said: When the Holy One, blessed be He, created Adam, He created him a hermaphrodite [bi-sexual], for it is said, “male and female created He them and called their name Adam” (Genesis 5:2).

R. Samuel b. Nahman said: When the Lord created Adam, He created him double-faced, then He split him and made him of two backs, one back on this side and one back on the other side. To this it is objected: But it is written, “And He took one of his ribs, etc.” (Genesis 2:21). [Mi-zalothaw means] one of his “sides,” replied he, as you read, “And for the second side (zela) of the tabernacle, etc.” (Exodus 26:20). 

R.Tanhuma, in the name of R. Banayah, and R. Berekiah in the name of R. Leazar said: He created him a lifeless mass extending from one end of the world to the other... How do we know [that he stretched] from east to west? Because it is said, “Thou hast formed me behind (ahor) and before (kedem).” From north to south? Because it says, “Since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from one end of heaven unto the other” (Deuteronomy 4:32).

The Midrash is filled with this type of nonsense. It seems no better than the idle banter of profane men. In the same Midrash on Genesis there is a story inserted regarding Titus, the Roman General who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple of the Jews.

When the wicked Titus entered the Holy of Holies, he dragged down the veil, blasphemed and reviled God. On his return a mosquito entered his nose and began piercing his skull. And when he died they split open his brain and found that it (the mosquito) was like a bird weighing two pounds.

In the commentary from Genesis chapter 2 where the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden is mentioned, and the prohibition from eating from it, the rabbis enter into speculation regarding what type of tree it must have been.

R. Meier said, It was wheat, for when a person lacks knowledge people say, ‘That man has never eaten bread of wheat.’ R. Samuel b. Isaac asked R. Ze’ira: ‘Is it possible that it was wheat?’ ‘Yes,’ replied he. ‘But surely TREE is written?’ he argued. ‘It grew lofty like the cedars of the Lebanon,’ replied he.

Reflecting on the creation of woman in Genesis chapter 2, the rabbis share these bits of rare insight.

R. Joshua was asked, ‘Why does a man come forth [at birth] with his face downward, while a woman comes forth with her face upwards?’ ‘The man looks towards the place of his creation [the earth], while the woman looks towards the place of her creation [the rib],’ he replied. ‘And why must a woman use perfume while a man does not need perfume?’ ‘Man was created from earth,’ he answered, ‘and the earth never putrefies, but Eve was created from a bone. For example, if you leave meat three days unsalted it immediately goes putrid...’ ‘And why is a man easily appeased, but not a woman?’ ‘Man was created from the earth,’ he answered, ‘and when you pour a drop of water on it immediately absorbs it; but Eve was created from a bone, which even if you soak many days in water does not become saturated...’ ‘Why do they [the women] walk in front of the corpse [at the funeral]?’ ‘Because they brought death into the world, therefore they walk in front of the corpse.’

Aside from the myriad opinions the rabbis give on the various passages of Scripture, they introduce much spurious historical information. If a narrative in the Bible leaves out information, the rabbis are not shy about filling in the gaps. Thus, in the Midrash you may find the name of Noah’s wife [Naamah]. You may find the reason given that Noah waited 500 years before he began to have sons when other men were recorded as having sons at a much younger age. The Midrash further asserts that Noah, whose name means “rest,” only received his name after inventing implements for tilling, cultivation, and harvest of the fruit of the ground. It is suggested in the Midrash that prior to this time the labor of man was an excessive burden, for the ground produced only thorns and thistles. Thus, by inventing these implements of farming, Noah brought rest to mankind.

What is the result of all this speculation and historical inventiveness? The Scriptures are treated shamefully. The divine words of God are altered, amended, and added to, demonstrating a lack of regard for preserving and honoring the wisdom and revelation of Yahweh. It is little wonder that apostate Judaism is so marked by the pride of man, for its central documents are born out of presumption and a spirit of usurpation. Man, considering himself to be the equal of God, has set about to alter the divine communication at will.

When Yahshua walked this earth, He warned His disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Matthew 16:5-12
And the disciples came to the other side and had forgotten to take bread. And Yahshua said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began to discuss among themselves, saying, “It is because we took no bread.” But Yahshua, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? “Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets you took up? How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Leaven is something that is added to ground grain (flour or meal) in order to cause a reaction. The leaven initiates the process of fermentation, producing gas bubbles in the dough, resulting in it rising. The Son of God used leaven repeatedly to illustrate the work of Satan and of evil men. This symbolism is most appropriate when one speaks of Talmudic (Rabbinic) Judaism, for the Jewish teachers have introduced a foreign agent into the pure word of God which ultimately transforms the character and meaning of God’s word. In ensuing chapters we will see how this tendency of man to add to and alter divine truth has manifested itself throughout Orthodox Judaism and has been adopted by adherents of the Hebrew Roots Movement.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Attractive Deception - Chapter 1

Between Two Thieves

If you are like many Christians, you likely do not know the difference between the Talmud and the Torah. You may think that a Midrash is something you get from rubbing poison ivy on your stomach. Many of the words associated with Jewish religion are unfamiliar to Gentile Christians. It can seem daunting to get a firm grasp upon the terminology and concepts associated with Judaism, but there can be great profit in putting forth the effort. The focus of this and the following chapter of Attractive Deception is to make the identification of the Talmud and Midrash (and the Jewish people’s attitudes towards them) readily comprehensible. This present chapter will focus upon the Talmud, with the following examining the Midrash.

In popular culture, this chapter might be titled Talmud for Dummies, though I think the label would be unfairly demeaning to the reader. Doing a quick search on Amazon, I did discover the following book exists.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Talmud

Undoubtedly Rabbi Aaron Parry has a very different focus to his writing than I have in mind. In order to bring to light the error of the Hebrew Roots Movement, it is necessary to demonstrate the character of Hebrew religious life, both ancient and modern. Much of the traditions, doctrines, rites, and observances the Hebrew Roots Movement has embraced derive from their attempt to imitate and incorporate elements of Hebrew religion and culture into the faith and practice of Christianity. What many do not realize is that a great number of these traditions arise from apostate Judaism, rather than from authentic apostolic Christian faith. The Talmud and the Midrash, hold significant responsibility for leading astray the Jews, and subsequently the Christian believer who embraces Hebrew Roots.

Most Christians today, even those with considerable knowledge of the Bible, are unfamiliar with many of the basic concepts relating to Judaism. This is NOT because Christians are Dummies, or Idiots. Rather, it is due to an absence of focus on Judaic practice among the majority of churches which comprise the body of Christ. My parents took me to church faithfully from the time I was a small child. When I was old enough I continued the practice on my own. Yet, in all the churches I attended, I do not recall a single sermon or Sunday School lesson teaching us about the Talmud or Midrash. I am not suggesting that churches should teach from the Talmud and Midrash. What would be profitable is to teach the body of Christ about them.

My problem was not that I was a shirker. I knew the Bible. I read the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. From childhood I could cite the names of all 66 books of the Bible, and quote a large number of Scripture verses. I was familiar with the content of the Bible, but I never encountered the words Talmud or Midrash in all of my Scripture reading. There is good reason for this. These words do not appear in the Bible, at least not in the English translations from which I was reading. The absence of these words, however, does not infer that the Talmud and Midrash are not spoken of in the Bible. Christ was speaking of the precursor to the Talmud (the Oral Torah) when He uttered the following words.

Mark 7:6-9
“Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’ Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”  He was also saying to them, “You nicely set aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition.”

The Son of God was citing the prophet Isaiah who wrote in the 8th century B.C.. The Jewish people spent a large portion of their history in an apostate condition. The years in which they walked in truth are few and far between. The Hebrews quickly developed traditions and interpretations of Yahweh’s word which led them into apostasy and kept them there. At the root of this apostate teaching is the claim that, in addition to the Law which Yahweh delivered to Moses which was inscribed on tablets of stone at Mount Sinai, Yahweh delivered a second body of teachings to Moses consisting of interpretations of the Law. The Jewish rabbis refer to the Law written on tablets as the Torah Schebichtav (Written Law), while they call the unwritten interpretations of the Law that Yahweh delivered to Moses as the Torah Shebeal Peh (Oral Law). The rabbis postulate that Yahweh could have inscribed the written Law on tablets of stone in a single day, but that it required the rest of the forty days Moses was on Mount Sinai to teach him the interpretations of the Law.

A Christian believer may quickly dismiss the claim of Yahweh delivering to Moses a second Law as nothing more than Jewish myth. Yet to the religiously observant Jew this story is taken very seriously, and the Oral Law is assigned a higher honor and authority than the Written Law. According to Jewish tradition, Moses taught the Oral Law to Joshua; Joshua taught it to the seventy elders of Israel; These seventy elders taught it to the Prophets, and the Prophets in turn passed it on to “the Great Synagogue,” that body of Jews who lived after the period of the Prophets in what is largely considered the Persian period of Israel’s history, or the time from the Babylonian exile forward. Bear in mind that a great many Jews remained in Babylonia after their seventy years of exile were finished. Only a remnant returned to Jerusalem.

This tradition of how the Oral Torah passed from Moses down to the Jewish religious leaders many centuries later is a Jewish fable, though the Orthodox Jews do not see it as such. Such fables have been prevalent for the entire history of the Christian church. The apostle Paul warned Titus about them.

Titus 1:13-14
For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth.

In these words of the apostle Paul is a reference to the Oral Torah whose man-made traditions would be set down in writing as the Talmud about two centuries later. The Oral Torah, like the Talmud and Midrash, consists of Jewish Myths and the commandments of men which turn people away from the truth. The Scriptures speak nothing of Yahweh delivering to Moses anything other than the Law written on tablets of stone. There is no Biblical support to the claim that Yahweh taught Moses a second Law, an oral one. It is ever the practice of disobedient men to add to the word of God, thereby altering and rendering null and void the commandments of Yahweh.

The earliest mention in the Scriptures of the Jews giving heed to vain traditions that stood in contradiction to the divinely inspired word of God is in the book of Isaiah. Isaiah began to prophesy around 740 B.C.. He wrote at that time of the Jewish people teaching “the precepts of men” as if they were the doctrines of God. This was undoubtedly a reference to the Oral Torah. Consequently, we can deduce that the Oral Torah was in existence as early as the 8th century B.C.. Moses received the true Law of God in the 15th century B.C.. Somewhere in the time between the original transmission of the Law at Mount Sinai and the time of Isaiah’s writing, the Oral Torah had its origin.

The Oral Torah most certainly was NOT delivered to Moses, adopted by Joshua, passed along by the seventy elders of Israel, or the prophets. Isaiah was a prophet of Yahweh. He rejected and cast scorn upon the precepts and doctrines that the religious leaders of Israel were teaching as if they were divine commandments. There has been no greater prophet than Jesus Christ/Yahshua the Messiah. He repeated the words of His Father that Isaiah had recorded, and set before us an example of the error contained in the Oral Torah.

Mark 7:10-13
“For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, anything of mine you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, devoted to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother;  thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.”

The Oral Law/Torah had much to say about corban, and the Talmud which is the written form of the Oral Law does as well. We can determine from this that both Christ, and Isaiah’s references were to the Oral Torah. These inventions of men were subverting and overturning the commandments of Yahweh, as they continue to do unto this very day. Yahshua added “and you do many things such as that.” The Oral Torah is rife with man-made additions and interpretations of the Law of God that lead the student of the Oral Torah away from divine truth.

Reverend I. B. Pranaitis, in his scholarly book The Talmud Unmasked (published 1892), shares a concise history of the Talmud. Following is an excerpt from his book.

The Talmud gets its name from the word Lamud - taught, and means The Teaching... it is taken to mean the book which contains the Teaching, which is called Talmud, that is, the doctrinal book which alone fully expounds and explains all the knowledge and teaching of the Jewish people...

In the second century after Christ, Rabbi Jehuda who, because of the sanctity of his life, was called The Saint, and The Prince, realizing that the learning of the Jews was diminishing, that their oral law was being lost, and that the Jewish people were being dispersed, was the first to consider ways and means of restoring and preserving their oral law. He collected all the lists and charts and from them he made a book which was called the Sepher Mischnaioth, or Mischnah - a Deuterosis, or secondary law. He divided it into six parts, each of which was divided into many chapters...

The Mischnah is the foundation and the principal part of the whole Talmud. This book was accepted by the Jews everywhere and was recognized as their authentic code of law. It was expounded in their Academies in Babylon - at Sura, Iumbaditha and Nehardea - and in their Academies in Palestine - at Tiberias, Iamnia and Lydda.

As their interpretations increased with the passing of time, the disputations and decisions of the doctors of the law concerning the Mischnah were written down, and these writings constituted another part of the Talmud called the Gemarah.

These two parts are so disposed throughout the whole Talmud that the Mischnah serves first as a kind of text of the law, and is followed by the Gemarah as an analysis of its various opinions leading to definite decisions...

In interpreting the Mischnah of Rabbi Jehuda, the schools of Palestine and Babylon followed each their own method, and by thus following their own way gave rise to a twofold Gemarah - the Jerusalem and the Babylonian versions. The author of the Jerusalem version was Rabbi Jochanan, who was head of the synagogue in Jerusalem for eighty years. He wrote thirty-nine chapters of commentaries on the Mischnah which he compiled in the year 230 A.D.

The Babylonian Gemarah, however, was not compiled by any one person, nor at any one time. Rabbi Aschi began it in 327 A.D and labored over it for sixty years. He was followed by Rabbi Maremar about the year 427 A.D., and it was completed by Rabbi Abina about the year 500 A.D. The Babylonian Gemarah has thirty-six chapters of interpretations.

This twofold Gemarah, added to the Mischnah, makes also a twofold Talmud: The Jerusalem version, which, on account of its brevity and obscurity, is not much used; and the Babylonian version, which has been held in the highest esteem by Jews of all times.

The Gemarah is followed by additions called Tosephoth(8). It was thus that Rabbi Chaia first styled his opinions on the Mischnaioth. He and Rabbi Uschaia were the first to explain this book publicly in the schools. Commentaries on the Mischnah which were made by the doctors outside the schools were called Baraietoth(9), or extraneous opinions.

(8) From Tosepheth, or Tosiphta, meaning addition.

(9) From Baria, extraneous, or Baraietha, extraneous teaching.

These Commentaries were further supplemented by other decisions called Piske Tosephoth, short theses and simple principles.

For nearly five hundred years after the Babylonian Talmud was completed, the study of literature was greatly hampered partly due to public calamities and partly owing to dissensions among the scholars. But in the eleventh century others wrote further additions to the Talmud. Chief among these were the Tosephoth of Rabbi Ascher.

Besides these there appeared the Perusch of Rabbi Moische ben Maimon, called by the Jews Rambam for short, by the Christians Maimonides...

Thus, the Mischna, Gemarah, Tosephoth, the marginal notes of Rabbi Ascher, the Piske Tosephoth and the Perusch Hamischnaioth of Maimonides, all collected into one, constitute a vast work which is called the Talmud.
[End Excerpt]

To recap, the Jewish people began to develop man-made interpretations of the true Law which Yahweh had delivered to Moses at Mount Sinai. In the centuries after Moses these traditions and precepts of men were passed along from one generation of Jewish people to the next. This Oral Law became so expansive that lists and charts had to be drawn up in order that the rabbis should not forget some part of the Oral Torah, yet it was not codified as a written body of instruction until Rabbi Judah the Prince took up the task two centuries after Christ.

This original work by Rabbi Judah is known as the Mishna. The word Mishna is a Hebrew word meaning “study and review.” The Mishna (Mischna, Mishnah) is the first section of the Talmud. It is the first work of Rabbinic literature, being an early effort to take the Oral Torah, and put it in writing in order to preserve the Rabbinical explanations and applications of the Hebrew Scriptures.

After Rabbi Judah preserved the Oral Torah in writing, the rabbis of ensuing centuries studied the Mishna extensively. These rabbis produced a large amount of analysis and commentary on the Mishna. Their recorded thoughts became known as the Gemara. The word Gemara (Gemora, Gemarah) is derived from the Aramaic noun “gamar,” which translates as "study." The Gemara is the second section of the Talmud.

There are two versions of the Gemara, the first originating in Palestine, while the latter was developed in Babylonia. Depending on which version of the Gemara is coupled to the Mishna, the resulting body of teaching is referred to either as the Jerusalem Talmud, or the Babylonian Talmud. The Babylonian Talmud holds a place of ascendancy, and is what is primarily being referred to today when Jewish people refer to “the Talmud.”

The Babylonian Talmud

It strikes me as significant that the Talmud would come to have the word “Babylonian” attached to it. The word Babel, from which the name Babylon is derived, means “confusion.” Truly, no better description could be given to this body of manmade traditions than “confusion,” for it leads people away from the truth of God’s word.

It is important to understand the tremendous veneration the Jewish people have given to these man-made traditions over the centuries. For nearly a millennia prior to Christ, and up to 200 A.D., the Oral Torah was accorded great honor. When it was codified as the Mishna two centuries after Christ, and expanded through the addition of the Gemara in following centuries, it was regarded by Orthodox Jews as being more valuable then the Tanakh (Old Testament). Nesta Webster, in her book Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, writes:

The Talmud itself accords to the Bible only a secondary place. Thus the Talmudic treatise Soferim says: 'The Bible is like water, the Mischna is like wine, and the Gemarah is like spiced wine.'"

Reverend I. B. Pranaitis adds to this testimony.

An important point to note is that [the Talmud] has always been regarded by the Jews as holy. They have always held it, and still hold it, as more important than the Sacred Scriptures. The Talmud itself shows this very clearly:

In the tract Babha Metsia, fol. 33a, we read:
"Those who devote themselves to reading the Bible exercise a certain virtue, but not very much; those who study the Mischnah exercise virtue for which they will receive a reward; those, however, who take upon themselves to study the Gemarah exercise the highest virtue..."

The following is a well-known and highly praised opinion in the writings of the Rabbis:
"My son, give heed to the words of the scribes rather than to the words of the law."

The reason for this is found in the tract Sanhedrin X, 3, f.88b:
"He who transgresses the words of the scribes sins more gravely than the transgressors of the words of the law."

Also when there are differences of opinion between the Law and the doctors, both must be taken as the words of the Lord God.

In the tract Erubhin, f.13b, where it is related that there was a difference of opinion between the two schools of Hillel and Schamai, it is concluded that:
"The words of both are the words of the living God." 

In the book Mizbeach, cap. V, we find the following opinion:
"There is nothing superior to the Holy Talmud."
[The Talmud Unmasked (1892)]

Men and women who are partakers of the Holy Spirit should perceive the abject evil of the words above. To state that those who study the words of man (the Mishna and Gemara) are acting more virtuously than those who study the divine words of Yahweh, is blasphemy. To instruct children to give greater heed to obeying the Scribes than to obeying the Law of Yahweh is folly and rebellion. To place the Talmud above the holy Scriptures is idolatry. Is it any wonder that Yahshua renounced the actions of the Pharisees, and the experts of the Law with such vehemence? Pretending to understand God’s Laws, and instructing others on how it should be observed, they stole the truth from God’s people.

Luke 11:42
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God...”

Luke 11:52
“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.”

In more recent times, Christians have observed how Satan has been able to lead men and women away from truth, and mire them in deception and falsehood, through altering, or making additions to, the Word of God. The Jehovah’s Witnesses created their own Bible version, and they are required to study ONLY the teachings that flow from their headquarters in New York State.

New World Translation Bible of the Jehovah’s Witnesses

Similarly, the Mormons have produced their own book to read along with the Bible. The Book of Mormon has been advertised for decades as “Another Testament of Jesus Christ” and a “Companion to the Bible.” Yet its teachings suborn and corrupt the true gospel of Christ.

Another Testament of Jesus Christ

It is telling that the founders of both of these religious organizations were Freemasons. Charles Taze Russell, the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, is buried in a Masonic Cemetery where a Pyramid marks his burial plot. The Pyramid is inscribed with the symbol for the Knight’s Templar (the cross and crown), the highest order in York Rite Freemasonry.

Charles Taze Russell’s Grave Marker

The pyramid is a Luciferian symbol, embraced widely by Freemasonry, and appearing on the back of the U.S. one dollar bill. This association with Freemasonry and both Charles Taze Russell of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Joseph Smith of the Mormons, reveals one of the chief tactics Satan uses to corrupt the word of God in order to hinder humanity from arriving at the knowledge of the truth. He will alter, or add to the word of God, ultimately leading men to place a higher emphasis upon these corruptions than they do upon the Scriptures themselves. It should surprise no Christian to discover that this practice goes much further back, even pre-dating Christianity. Satan used the same scheme to lead the Jewish people away from truth by having them adopt a second Torah that ultimately redefined the original and stole away from men the key of knowledge.

Today there are Yeshivas, schools of Jewish religious instruction, where men (and some women) devote their lives to the study of the Jewish religion. Yet, it is not the Holy Scriptures that captivates their attention and demands their devotion. Rather, it is the study of the Talmud and the Midrashic writings of various Hebrew sages and rabbis throughout the centuries. These writings include numerous passages which defame the Son of God. He is always spoken of as illegitimate, a worker of forbidden magic, and one who suffered a disgraceful death. To deny Yahshua the Messiah to be the Son of God and the Savior of mankind is a manifestation of the spirit of anti-Christ. The Talmud, for this reason, and others, must be considered to be a work of Satan. It has no divine legitimacy.

Despite the lying claims about the Talmud’s origin, its enmity toward the truth of God’s word, its claim of being superior to the divinely inspired Scriptures, its denouncement of the Messiah, and its rejection by Isaiah, Yahshua, and the apostles, there are many among the Hebrew Roots Movement who are advocating that Christians study the Talmud in order to properly understand their Bibles. They are inviting believers to engage in a vain, and potentially harmful, activity. Can a man gather figs from thorns, or pick grapes from a briar bush?

The Talmud is a thief. It steals away the key of knowledge from mankind. It is a rebel, asserting its own will and ways above those of the Creator. It is full of pride, claiming to be superior to the words of Yahweh. It is a destroyer, casting down all that is true and holy, blinding men to the truth, and suffering none to challenge its authority. Are these not the characteristics of that being whom Yahshua said “comes only to kill, steal, and destroy”?

As I was perusing various websites looking for information for this study, I came across the website An article was posted there by a woman named Shani Tzoref who holds a Masters degree in Jewish History from Yeshiva University and a Ph.D. in Ancient Jewish Literature from New York University. Among other biographical facts, it was mentioned that she was awarded a Rothschild Fellowship at Hebrew University in 2006. Ms. Tzoref posted an article on the transgression of Reuben when he lay with Bilhah, his father’s wife. After the article there was an exchange of comments between her and a young man. Following is an excerpt from that exchange.

Shani Tzoref: Do you think that "Torah" requires us to believe that Reuben had intercourse with Bilhah?

Alex Schindler: Insofar as it requires us to believe there was a person named Reuben and a person named Bilhah.

Avoiding the much more meta- question of whether Torah narratives are given to be understood as historical or literary or something in between, it is rather clear what the narrative intends us to think the *character* Reuben did. It is no more ambiguous than what Absalom did in the light of day on the roof of his father's palace with his father's concubines.

Shani Tzoref: The point of my question is that you say yes, Torah requires us to believe that Reuben slept with Bilhah. And yet, the dominant view in the Talmud seems to be that Reuben did not sleep with Bilhah. As Orthodox rabbinic Jews, are we not committed to following talmudic interpretations over literal readings of the Biblical text?

My real point being - I don't think we are obligated to have a particular belief about what really happened historically. I suppose if I had to choose a stance about what Orthodoxy would mandate, I guess it would be to say that the Biblical text meant to convey what the rabbis say it meant - and so I must conclude that Reuben did not sleep with Bilhah, but it was considered in some ways as though he did. But I don't actually think a belief about the story is mandated.

This frank exchange of views reveals the elevated regard the Orthodox Jews have for the Talmud. They place the opinions of the rabbis above the testimony of the Torah (the Scriptures). If there is an apparent contradiction between what the Torah declares and what the Talmud advises, the Jews are expected to follow the talmudic interpretation over the plain meaning of the Bible. It is important to understand this elevated position occupied by the Talmud in Jewish life. By understanding the veneration of the Talmud, we can discern how the Jewish people have become apostatized, having departed from the divine intent of the Scriptures.

Now, in the Hebrew Roots Movement, there are “Christian” ministers who are directing the people of God to give heed to the Talmud, this book of lies. Additionally, there are a multitude of doctrines, traditions, legal observances, customs, and symbols that derive from the Talmud that are being embraced by Christians who mistakenly believe they are returning to the Hebrew Roots of the faith of Christ and His apostles when in fact they are embracing Jewish apostasy. Many of these items will be addressed individually as this writing progresses.

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Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Friday, January 23, 2015

Attractive Deception - The False Hope of the Hebrew Roots Movement

Joseph Herrin (01-23-2015)


Authentic Christianity! That is the heart’s desire of many believers today who have become discouraged with the sensuality and materialism of the prosperity churches; the dubious spirituality of the prophetic and apostolic congregations; and the vapid trendiness of the rock and roll, seeker-friendly, coffee-swilling, and doctrinally-flimsy houses of worship that dot the landscape of our nations. Many sincere people of God have at some point despaired of ever finding a group of fellow believers who see through the vacuity of popular modern Christianity, and who have set their hearts to walk with Christ in truth and obedience. The no-cost (and no-transformation) gospel that appeals to church-members’ desire to be entertained and reassured of heaven when they die, has produced a spiritually empty parody of Christian discipleship that has led to a mass exodus from the churches.

In an hour of apostasy, there have been increasing numbers who have recognized that somewhere along the line the church has departed from the original faith of Christ and His apostles. They have wanted to return to first century Christianity that they might reconnect with lost truths, and thereby restore spiritual health and vitality to their own lives and the lives of believers with whom they fellowship. Many look to the book of Acts, to that first church which was birthed in Jerusalem. They observe that all of the apostles were Jewish men. Indeed, for a number of years the church consisted entirely of Jewish men and women. Yahshua had declared that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He informed His disciples that there was a divine order to the spread of the kingdom of God. The gospel of salvation through Yahshua must be preached first in Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria, and finally to the ends of the earth.

Recognizing the Jewish foundation from which the church sprang, many Christians have concluded that a more authentic Christianity must of necessity require a return to the Hebrew roots of the first church in Jerusalem. In one sense they are quite correct, for the Law and the Prophets were given both to the Jews and all mankind to guide them to Christ. The Old Testament foreshadows that which is brought into full view in the New Testament. All who would be disciples of Christ should be students of both covenants, for ALL SCRIPTURE is inspired by God and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness that the man of God might be thoroughly equipped and furnished (II Timothy 3:16).

From the time I was a child I have given as much attention to the 39 books of the Old Testament as I have the 27 books of the New Testament. Over the course of many years of ministry I have found the TaNaKh, the Torah, the Nebium, the Kethubim which are also referred to as the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings which make up the Old Testament, to be as rich and valuable a teaching source as the New Testament writings. I cite both divisions of the Bible with equal familiarity, authority, and value. Christians who have judged the Old Testament to be a Jewish book that has no benefit for their lives are acting foolishly. All 66 books of the Bible are “God-breathed.” All of them are pregnant with revelation, instruction, and encouragement for the people of God, whether they be Jews, Christians, or Jewish Christians.

Jesus Christ/Yahshua the Messiah did not arrive in this world 2,000 years ago without an introduction. 1,500 years before He died on a cross to serve as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind, He was foreshadowed in the Passover lambs that Moses instructed the people of Israel to slay on their last night in Egypt. 430 years before that first Passover, Yahweh promised His friend Abraham that a Seed would one day be given to him who would be a source of immeasurable blessing to all nations. That Seed is Christ, whose genealogy is reckoned back to Abraham. Yahshua’s genealogy is also traced back to David, the King of Israel who had a heart after God.

What do these men, Moses, Abraham, and David have in common? They are all Hebrews. They were all members of a nation chosen by Yahweh to be His peculiar possession in the earth. Abraham is the father of the Hebrew nation. This nation is frequently called by the name of his grandson Jacob whose name was changed to Israel. From Jacob/Israel came twelve sons. One of those sons was Judah, whose lineage was destined to bear the scepter of rule over the nation. Yahshua the Messiah, the King of Israel, was born of the tribe of Judah. He is in all ways the legitimate heir to the title “King of the Jews.”

It takes only an elementary understanding of the Bible to understand that Christianity arose out of Judaism even as the Jews themselves were called out from the nations. Yahweh has always had a “called-out” people, an elect. The Hebrew people had their beginning when Yahweh called Abram to leave his home in Aram, to depart from his father’s household, and to follow Him to a new land that would be given to Abram’s descendants as a possession. 2,000 years later Yahweh sent His only begotten Son to the earth to call out a further elect from among mankind. Yahshua chose twelve men, all Jewish, to lay the foundation for His church. This church, referred to as “the body of Christ,” was not to be made up only of Hebrew men and women. It would encompass a great multitude of Gentile believers. The word “Gentile” is a reference to “the nations.” In this sense, the phrase “the nations” indicates any who are not natural born Israelites, descendants of Abraham.

It would be folly to suggest that those members of the body of Christ who came from “the nations” have no need of, or would derive no benefit from, learning about Yahweh’s dealings with the Hebrew people, the descendants of Abraham. Yahweh spent two millennia dealing with this nation prior to calling the Gentiles to be part of the people of God. It would be equally foolish for the Jew to suggest that the Gentiles, those who are not the natural descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, have no part or portion with them. Through His Son, Yahweh has reconciled both Jew and Gentile into one people.

Matthew 8:11
“And I say to you, that many shall come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven...”

Acts 10:45
And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also.

Romans 2:28-29
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter...

Ephesians 2:11-21
Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called "Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision,"... remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Yahshua you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Yahshua Himself being the corner stone...

Hebrew and non-Hebrew are now one in Christ. Those who were once far off (the people of the nations) have now been brought near to God through the blood of the Jewish Messiah. The apostle Paul contends that both Jew and Gentile were sinners. Both needed a Savior. Both were reconciled back to the Father in the same way, the way of faith.

Romans 3:9, 28-30
What then? Are we (Jews) better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin... For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.

The body of Christ is comprised of men and women from all tongues, tribes, and nations of the earth. There is no distinction. All have been made one in Christ. Nevertheless, Yahweh dealt specifically with the Hebrew nation for 2,000  years prior to sending His Son to draw all men unto Himself. The Hebrew people have a rich history of Yahweh dealing with them. The apostle Paul was a Hebrew, born of the tribe of Benjamin. He testified the following.

Romans 3:1-2
Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.

What were these oracles? They are the 39 books of the Old Testament, the books which the Jewish people call the Tanakh. When someone speaks of the Hebrew roots of Christianity, it is these books, and all that is revealed in them, that I deem to fit the words “Hebrew roots” most aptly. Should not the Christian disciple, whether Jew or Gentile, give themselves enthusiastically to the study of these “oracles of God” that they might learn as much about their Creator and Redeemer as possible? Indeed, there is no excuse for those who neglect so great an opportunity when it is before them. From the first line of the book of Genesis, unto the last line of the prophet Malachi, there is much wisdom, revelation, and instruction to be gleaned by those who love truth.

Now, if the study of the Old Testament, and familiarity with all the words Yahweh has delivered to mankind through Hebrew men, were in fact what was in focus when people speak of the Hebrew roots of Christianity, I would be all for it. If adopting Hebrew roots meant no more than embracing all 66 books of the Bible as divinely inspired and profitable for Christians, then I would be judged as one of the most ardent proponents of Hebrew roots today. I have devoted major portions of my books and writings to discerning the types, shadows, and various parables contained throughout the Old Testament. I have sought wisdom in the historical accounts of patriarchs, kings, and prophets. I have delved deeply into the types and shadows of the Law delivered to Israel through Moses. I was even destined by God to bear the name Joseph, one of Israel’s twelve sons. Adding to the remarkable nature of this last fact is the knowledge that my parents were not even Christians at the time of my birth.

There is a growing movement at this hour called the Hebrew Roots Movement. Those who are the main actors in this movement, those who serve as teachers to tens of thousands of men and women across the world, intend much more when they speak of Christians returning to the Hebrew roots of their Christian faith than the mere study of the Old Testament. Many are stating that Gentile believers should conform themselves to the lives of their Jewish brethren. By this they mean that the Gentile believer should become Torah observant, taking upon themselves the Law as schoolmaster and guardian after the manner determined by Yahweh for the Hebrew people before the time of their promised  Messiah.

In speaking of returning to the Hebrew roots of Christianity, some are suggesting that the Gentile believer should begin to study the Talmud and Midrash, giving equal or even greater weight to these rabbinical interpretations of the Scriptures than they do to the Scriptures themselves. Some are suggesting that Gentile believers should keep the dietary laws, observe Sabbaths, new moons, and Feast days. They are even leading the Gentile believers to embrace Jewish traditions that are extra-Biblical, such as wearing the kippah and the tallit, reading the daily parashot and haftarot, observing non-Biblical holidays such as Hanukkah, and adopting Jewish practice such as never writing out the name of Yahweh, replacing it with “God,” and even when using this title to not spell it out, but rather to omit the vowel as in “G_d.” People who are joining Hebrew Roots fellowships are adopting many Hebrew words in place of English (or their native language), as if speaking, singing, or writing in Hebrew is a sign of spirituality, bringing them closer to Christ and a return to authentic Christianity.

In adopting many of the traditions and symbols of Judaism, these Gentile Christians and Messianic Jews are unwittingly embracing many profane things which derive from the Kabbalah. Kabbalah is Jewish mysticism that is traceable back to Babylon. It is infused with Satanic deception. There are signs, symbols, traditions, even the observance of specific holidays, that are Luciferian and are being embraced by Christians who are seeking a more authentic Christian faith and experience. Truly, Satan is the great deceiver who deceives the entire world. Sincere believers who are fleeing from the carnality and spiritual bankruptcy of modern Christianity, are running headlong into further deception in the Hebrew Roots Movement, mistaking it for the true faith.

In this book I will address many of these components of the Hebrew Roots Movement. I will present evidence from the Scriptures, from history, and from current sources that the reader can evaluate and test for themselves. My desire is not to offend my brothers and sisters in Christ who have embraced the Hebrew Roots Movement, but rather to help those whom I might to escape the snare of the devil. My heart’s desire is expressed by John, the beloved disciple, who wrote the following:

III John 4
I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.

I would that all of God’s people might serve and worship Yahweh in Spirit and in truth.

In closing out this introduction I would speak somewhat of the intended scope of this book. One of the most profound and grievous effects of the Hebrew Roots Movement is that it is leading a large number of Christians away from a life submitted to and guided by the Spirit of Christ, and back to life under the Law of Moses. This book will NOT focus on this aspect of the Hebrew Roots Movement, as it would take an entire book in itself to address this subject responsibly and thoroughly. Such a book already exists, as I was led previously of the Spirit of Christ to write the book titled Laying Down the Law. I would urge the reader to consider this present writing to be a companion book to Laying Down the Law. I would further encourage the reader to study carefully my earlier book on the Law BEFORE reading this one which will primarily focus on the traditions, symbols, and various Hebraisms that many Christians are adopting today. The book Laying Down the Law is available to be freely read, downloaded, or printed out, at the following link:

Many of my brothers and sisters, having been informed of the intent of this present writing, and of the book Laying Down the Law, will be inclined to dismiss them out of hand, having made up their minds that observing the Law and adopting Hebrew traditions, symbols, and practices, is the will of God for all Christians. To such ones I would make the following entreaty. Please hear my testimony before you reject it. Although you may believe you have heard every possible argument on these subjects, and are satisfied that none of them are worthy, I am confident that you have not yet “heard” what I have set forth on these subjects.

In the book Laying Down the Law I have presented evidence and arguments that I have encountered from no other man. I spent many years entreating the Father to show me the truth about the role and duration of the Law that I might teach accurately and effectually His mind on this subject. Over the course of more than a decade the Father unveiled to me much of His thought on this subject. In sincerity, and humility, I declare that I have been taught of God, and have not followed the teaching of man.

I urge you also to consider the wisdom declared by King Solomon.

Proverbs 18:13
He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.

Before you reject my message without giving it a hearing, I would entreat you to remember the words of Nicodemus as he addressed the chief priests and pharisees.

John 7:51
“Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”

If you believe you are to keep the Law, then does not the Law say you should hear before you judge? If you will hear what I have to say, and afterward you still believe that it is God’s will for you to be governed by the Law, or to conform yourself to various Jewish customs, then you have lost nothing. You will have spent only a little of your time in exercising the fruits of the Spirit which include patience, gentleness, and humility. You will have treated a brother in Christ with love, and that is a far weightier matter in Yahweh’s sight than a great many things. If, on the other hand, you find that the Spirit of Christ is speaking to you through what is written, you will have gained much.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,

Joseph Herrin

Heart4God Website:    

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Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

News From the Homefront

Joseph Herrin (01-20-2015)

Almost ten years ago a brother in Christ who had been encouraged and challenged by hearing of some of my experiences of walking with the Lord by faith, suggested that I write more about this subject. Consequently, I was led to write the autobiographical book Evidence of Things Unseen.

Since then I have found that people continue to demonstrate an interest in my life experiences, oftentimes writing to request that I provide an update on what is occurring which may be of interest. Many people have been interested to read of the numerous ways Yahweh has directed me to prepare for the coming days of trouble, the alterations to my way of life, and the lessons I am learning through various experiences. This post will share some recent news. There is an expression here in Georgia that states “life is where the rubber meets the toads.” (There are lots of frogs on the highways here. Some Georgia residents may object that they have never heard this saying. They have just not been around me long enough to have done so.)

There has been a great deal occurring in my life in recent months. I have written previously of a young man coming to live with me whom I became familiar with while he was in prison. Nicholas continues to live with me, though his days are so filled with activity which takes him away from home that I mainly see him in the mornings when I get up to prepare his breakfast.

Nicholas and Rock-C

Nicholas was blessed to quickly obtain a maintenance job at a local dairy, one of the largest in Georgia. He works ten hour days, five days a week, typically leaving home around 6:30 A.M.. Many nights I do not see him, as he will go directly to some church youth activity after work, or go visit with friends. It is a great blessing for Nicholas to have been brought to a place where there are a significant number of other young men and women who have a sincere love for the Lord. This is an experience he has never known before in his life. Nicholas also challenges them spiritually, as he has a strong sensitivity to the voice of God, and desires to order his life according to the Spirit’s guidance. Many of the young people here, although devoted to Christ, have not experienced surrendering their lives to the Spirit’s leading to the same degree.

Nicholas has found great favor in the eyes of his parole officer who oversees this district. Nicholas is required to observe curfew and is set-up with a company that will call him at random times of the night to make sure he is home. He is required to be in every night at 9:30 P.M.. This presented a problem initially. Since this is a farming community, many of the young people’s activities, including their Bible studies, would not start until late in the evenings. Nicholas would have to leave these meetings early in order to get home before his curfew.

The man who oversees the young adults at the church Nicholas (and my daughter Kristin) attend spoke to Nicholas’ parole officer about this matter. He was going to ask for an extension of Nicholas’ curfew until 10:30 P.M.. He was surprised when the parole officer emphatically told him that Nicholas needed to be at these Bible studies and to have the influence of godly people. The parole officer of his own initiative told this youth leader that as long as Nicholas was with the young adults from this church participating in some group event, he could stay out as long as the meetings lasted. All he required was for the youth leader to send him a text letting him know that Nicholas was with them. This was more than Nicholas had dared to hope for, and it has been a great blessing for him to be able to relax and participate in their meetings without having to watch the time.

Almost immediately upon arriving here, Nicholas had mentioned wanting a dog. A few weeks after his stay began he was driving down a remote rural road not far from my location when he saw this little black dog in the road. It had no collar, and appeared to have been abandoned. Nicholas stopped his car and opened the door and the dog hopped right in. It appeared to be a very young female, little more than a puppy. I told Nicholas he could bring her home. He named her Rock-C (pronounced Roxie). Nicholas chose the name because Christ is the Rock.

Rock-C is one of the most personable, loving dogs I have ever seen. She is a true lap dog. She would lay beside me for hours as I typed away on the computer.

Rock-C Lying Beside Me in the Bus

Unfortunately, Rock-C was not housebroken, and was a slow learner. Consequently, I had to watch her continually, and could not put her down on the floor, or leave her alone on the beds or furniture. I made her a runner outside so I could leave her on the leash, but many of the days were too cold, or wet, for her to be out. Champ, my large Pit Bull/Hound mix liked Rock-C just fine. He has never shown any animosity toward other dogs. It is only people that he takes some warming up to.

I purchased a small, soft dog crate to keep Rock-C in when I had to leave the bus, but most of the time she sat right next to me. I took her on walks with Champ. The two dogs looked like the odd couple as they walked together. It took only a little time for Rock-C to not be afraid of Champ. She was intimidated at first, but was soon trying to boss him around.

Being a puppy, Rock-C’s bladder control was not very good. She would need to be walked once or twice a night. Nicholas is a very hard sleeper, so I would take her out and walk her about every four hours. After several weeks Nicholas was able to evaluate the situation and see that he really did not have time for a dog. Most days he was unable to spend more then 5 minutes with her. So we started looking for another home for this young dog he had rescued. (I had previously checked with the neighbors on the street where she was found, and no one claimed ownership or had any idea where she had come from.)

I found that having a lap dog that needed lots of attention was not conducive with my activities. Although I very much enjoyed her affection, I have found that caring for a small indoor dog placed a mental burden on me that would not let me relax, or focus fully on other matters. Writing, for me, is an activity that requires uninterrupted blocks of time where I have no distractions. Champ is a dog well suited to my life, for he prefers being outdoors, and requires little attention. He is always ready for me to take him on a walk, or a bike run, but does not demand constant watching.

My daughter Kristin found a young woman who participates in her church’s community outreach program who had one small dog, a Shih Tzu. This young woman wanted another dog. The family has much more time to spend with them, and they shower their dogs with affection. So off Rock-C went to her new home. She has already become friends with the other dog, and is not nearly so mismatched in size.

Rock-C in Her Sweater, and Her New Pal

At the least, Nicholas and I were blessed to be able to rescue another one of Yahweh’s creatures, and to find it a good home. She went fully equipped with food dishes, dog food, pet crate, sweater, leash, and harness. We even had an elderly sister from Wyoming who sent her a crocheted blanket to lay on.

Proverbs 12:10
A righteous man regards the life of his animal,
But the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

Some have asked me whether I have completed my solar auxiliary power system for my bus. Those who follow my blog regularly may remember that a final task I had was to build a tracking mount to go atop my bus, and to integrate it with an electronic control package that would have the solar panels automatically track the sun throughout the day. A dual axis solar tracking system can increase power output by about 40% over stationary solar panels.

A brother in Christ who resides in Idaho very graciously volunteered to both design and fabricate the solar tracking mount for me. I am thoroughly impressed with the design. I have four solar panels that produce an estimated 560 watts of electricity per hour. They are going to be mounted on the roof of my bus at the rear where there is a platform built.

The raised area at the rear of the bus covered by the tarp is where my panels will be mounted. I was using this area for storage, but since I purchased a trailer to pull behind the bus, the storage area is no longer needed. I measured the panels, and they will fit perfectly within the rails that line this roof deck, leaving a couple inches clearance on all sides. It seemed like the area was custom made for this purpose.

Jeff (the brother assisting me) came up with a nifty design that utilizes a pneumatic bottle jack to raise and lower the panel array. When I am traveling I can lower the panels and cover them with the tarp for protection. When I am parked, I can remove the tarp, raise the panels with the jack so they clear the rails, and they will swivel on a trailer wheel/axle that is integrated into the design. Jeff has done all the work himself, having to find time when he could. His work schedule has been exceptionally busy since he began, so progress has been slow. He has the job almost complete, however. Following are some pictures of his progress.

Beginning Work Cutting the Steel

Building a Steel Base for the Jack

Lining the Inner Box with UHMW (Ultra High Molecular Weight Plastic)

The UHMW is extremely slick. It is almost like a self-lubricating surface. It will allow the inner base and outer base to slide over one another without binding.

Inner Base Lined with UHMW

Fabricating the Outer Base

Solar Mount with Wheel and Axle Mounted

Tracking Mount with Arms Installed to Attach Linear Actuators

As you can see, the physical apparatus that will support the four solar panels and allow them to track with the sun is nearing completion. Seeing that the end is very near in fabricating this part of the project, I spent considerable time researching the available options for an electronic package to control the motion of the panels along two axes. The panels will rotate horizontally to track from East to West, and return to the East position after sunset to catch the morning sun. There will also be motion on the North/South axis as the panels are inclined to keep them always facing directly at the sun.

The solar mount on the right in the picture above shows the two axes of motion that my panels will follow. There are very few off-the-shelf electronics kits that a person can purchase to control a dual axis solar tracker. I found four manufacturers that closely approximated turnkey solutions. (Hook it up and turn it on.) Of the four, only one met all of my criteria, which included having a high-wind parking feature, and being easily programmable. The high-wind parking feature is essential as the solar panels act as a big sail on top of the bus. The wind can exert many tons of force on the surface of the panels, and would likely destroy the panels and the solar mount if they were left in an upright position in a high wind. A high-wind parking feature will monitor the wind speed. When a threshold wind speed is reached, the panels will automatically lower themselves to a flat position where they present a minimum profile to the wind.

The package I settled on is called the Solar Stalker STA1000. It is designed and manufactured in North Carolina, not far from my home state of Georgia. I was blessed to be able to order one yesterday. I was just notified that it has shipped.

Solar Stalker STA1000 by Laser Precision Crafts

The STA1000 comes with a light sensor to track the position of the sun, a programmable electronics control unit, wires to make the connections, and an anemometer (a wind speed sensor).

The Dual Axis Light Sensor uses diodes to accurately report the direction of the sun. Once Jeff completes the solar mount, I can purchase the two linear actuators which will produce the motion along both axes. They must be sized for the specific design of the mount, so I need to wait until Jeff has completed the fabrication to order them. Then it is simply a matter of installing everything on the roof of my bus. I already have all of my wiring ready, having run it to the roof deck a couple of months ago.

This is the wiring hub located on the deck atop my bus’ roof. The four pairs of wires going out the sides will be connected to the four solar panels. The other end of these wires run to the combiner box inside my bus, and from there they go to the solar charge controller which in turn keeps my battery bank charged and prevents overcharging. The object to the right inside the box with the red and black wire running to it, is a 12 volt outlet. The STA1000 will draw its power from there, and will in turn power the linear actuators that move the solar array to keep it aligned with the sun.

On to other news, I continue to utilize my recumbent trike and trailer to make my trips to town for shopping and post office runs. This time of year I have to plan my trips around the weather, and bundle up. It is a 30 mile round trip to town. Yesterday I made the trip, not realizing it was a federal holiday and the post office was closed. It wasn’t a wasted trip, however, as I could still collect my mail. I just could not ship off the packets of writings and material that I had with me. My daughter graciously agreed to take care of shipping them today.

Here I was attired yesterday for my ride. I stopped by my daughter’s place of employment. Kristin told me I looked like I belonged on the show Duck Dynasty. I don’t know why she thought so.

The sports goggles are a matter of necessity when riding my recumbent trike. The cold wind and glare of the sun would make it very difficult to see if I did not have them. They are prescription goggles, and I have been very happy with them. The skull cap did a great job of keeping the top of my head warm yesterday. It was also serving as camouflage to hide my recent battle scars.

I was bringing Champ inside the bus two days ago after having taken him on a five mile bike run. He gets nervous when he hears people shooting guns, which is a pretty common occurrence out in this rural area. I took pity on his whining, and was bringing him inside when he got hung up on the bus’ screen door. Champ snatched the door one direction, and then it sprang back the other way. I got hit on the top of the head both ways. It didn’t hurt, and barely bled. It looks worse than it is. Such are the perils of those who are bald headed.

When Jonathan came to visit me a couple of weeks ago, we spent some time together talking about diet and nutrition. He had lost 65 lbs. in the past year, which I considered an impressive feat. Jonathan brought hummus with him. I have tried hummus before, but really liked the brand he had purchased. However, I noted that it was made with soybean oil, rather than the much preferred olive oil. I determined then that I would begin making my own hummus. I already have about 100 lbs. of dried chick peas (garbanzo beans) on hand, which is the primary ingredient of hummus. I purchased some tahini (ground sesame seeds), the second main ingredient, and acquired an inexpensive immersion blender to make my own hummus.

Mixing up the Hummus

If you ever travel to the region of Israel, you will find that hummus is a very common food item. It is also extraordinarily healthy when prepared with good ingredients (use extra virgin olive oil instead of soybean oil or other vegetable oils). It can be eaten with pita bread with other sandwich fillings, used similarly to mayonnaise. It is great for dipping breads, chips, vegetables, or other foods.

One of My First Batches of Hummus

I had some ranch chip dip in my fridge when Jonathan came for a visit. It was made with low fat sour cream. Homemade hummus is a much healthier dip, however. I am continuing to make alterations to my diet, opting for basic, high quality natural foods that are minimally processed, over the fast food, poor nutritional value items available in stores. With each change I am giving my body better fuel to work with, and better nutrients to promote good health.

In closing, I will mention my latest educational foray. I have long had an interest in astronomy. In the book Foundations which I posted last year I included four chapters on the subject of Biblical astronomy/astrology.

Prophecy in the Heavens

The Scroll of the Heavens

The Ancient Zodiac and its Motions

The Zodiac Explained

I regret that I never had the opportunity to take an astronomy course in high school, or in college. However, it is better to be late than to never learn at all. Having spent literally years considering various telescopes and binoculars, I concluded that viewing the heavens with both eyes is far preferable to viewing them with one eye. I have always disliked having to squint, or to try to keep one eye closed while viewing with the other. It is far more natural to look at objects with both eyes opened.

I began my venture into astronomical viewing by purchasing an inexpensive, but decent quality set of 15x70 power binoculars sold by Celestron, a manufacturer of astronomical equipment. I purchased a used pair through Amazon for only $36.00. I was amazed at both the terrestrial and celestial views I could obtain through these binoculars. For reference, the first number in the description of a pair of binoculars refers to the magnification. The second number refers to the opening at the wide end of the glasses, called the aperture. This controls how much light is gathered by the binoculars. A higher aperture number indicates that more light enters the binoculars, and for night viewing a large aperture is vital. These inexpensive, but impressive Celestron Skymaster 15x70 binoculars provided a spectacular viewing image of the moon at night. It was one of those experiences that make you ooh and ahhh!

These are fairly large binoculars. They are 11" long, and weigh about 3-1/2 lbs. This makes it difficult to steady them for long in your hands, and makes you wish for a tripod to mount them on. Being quite impressed with the use of binoculars for night viewing, I opted to advance to a pair that featured higher magnification and an even larger aperture. I found a used pair of Orion 25x100 Giant View binoculars on Ebay, and acquired them along with an Orion binocular mount and tripod. The viewing through these is nothing short of stunning. I am anticipating the next comet to come along so I can study it at length.

These Orion 25x100 binoculars weigh more than ten pounds and are more than 17 inches long. You can gauge their comparative size in the photo below. The largest binoculars are like the Orion binoculars I acquired, and the unit one size down are similar to the Celestron binoculars.

I am not going to get any Hubble-like views of deep space objects, but there is something that touches my spirit deeply about standing out in an open field looking up toward the heavens with my own two eyes, and observing the immensity and grandeur of what Yahweh has created. It is a humbling, and yet also an uplifting, experience.

Psalms 8:3-4
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man, that You do take thought of him? And the son of man, that You do care for him?

We live in an hour when many portentous events are soon to occur. They will be accompanied with signs in heavens (Luke 21:25). It seems significant that much of my recent experiences, both with my solar panel tracker, and in astronomy, have focused upon looking to the heavens.

Luke 21:28
"But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

Keep your eyes on the heavens.

May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days.

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Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063