It’s About HOW You Read
If you look at a world through a yellow colored lens, the world expresses itself to you not in its true colors, but in shades of yellow, the projection of your lens.
The same is true for many issues of contention surrounding the Bible.
Because parts of the Bible are not placed in their proper context with an understanding of the mindset of the author, strange interpretations have come into existence even to the point where they have given birth to religions carrying the label of Christianity but having very little to do with YHWH’s truth as reflected in the Bible.
All that is needed for a proper understanding is for us simply to put down the yellow colored lens and look at the text with an understanding of who the author is, what his objective is, and the context of what he wrote.
The problem is that if we expose ourselves to a certain environment time and again, that environment begins to affect the way we think and see things.
If we subject ourselves to a certain dogma and the interpretations given by authority figures representing that dogma, then inevitably the yellow colored lens is put before our eyes and we begin to look at the world through the eyes of that we have been exposed to.
There is a lot of truth to the saying of the Nazis that if you tell a lie and repeat it thousands of times over, it automatically begins to sound like truth because it acquires a certain familiarity to those who have been exposed to it.
And this brings us to the greatest stumbling block in discovering truth: our conditioning to our environment. The extent to which we can let go off that conditioning and learn to look at what we are exposed to the same way a child looks at it, to that same extent we are free to rediscover the truth of the issue.
If all we do is react to our conditioning and defend it, then by virtue of that reaction there is no place in our hearts for the truth if it deviates from what we have been taught.
One of the most misunderstood authors of the Bible is probably the apostle Paul.
Many theologies have blossomed in a soil of misunderstanding and wrong interpretations of what Paul said.
Often illogical bents in the interpretations are glossed over by the excuse of ‘being too difficult to grasp’.
Yet, misinterpretations and misunderstandings of Paul’s writing have acquired a life of their own to the extent that nowadays legions of Christian theologians and preachers are proclaiming their adoption of the misinterpretations as the ‘holy gospel’, and many church-going Christians are unable to escape the bombardment of dogmatism lorded over their heads by these ‘authority’ figures.
Yet, in order to arrive at today’s Christian theology one has to bend and twist the Bible in very strange and illogical ways in order to find support for the theological concepts.
And all the while there is a simply straightforward path which unfolds if the reader enlightens himself with an understanding of the author’s mindset, the circumstances which led him to write the book, and the way a particular Bible book fits into the structure of the Bible.
Very often Bible books will reward the diligent who take the time and trouble to do some research and spend time investigating matters by unfolding their message(s) to the reader, and the unfolding is the equivalent of a simple straightforward path lighting up where before we imagined curved paths in the landscape of the dark.
So, why take the difficult curved paths with rocks in the way when there also is a simple straightforward path?
The key to unlocking the Bible is not only diligence, it also is a matter of learning to stand back and question what you have been told.
When weighed, truth will always hold up, yet falsehood will show itself too light and unsubstantial.
Probably THE most controversial issue in Christianity is ‘THE LAW’.
In theological debates this one three letter word, LAW, gives birth to the two opposites of ‘legalism’ and ‘freedom of the Spirit’ whereby the LAW is pitched in the corner of legalism and placed on opposite side of the ‘freedom of the Spirit’.
From this division new religions are created, whereby the tenet of ‘freedom of the Spirit’ lends itself very well as a vehicle for a type of doctrine which in essence is nothing other than a variation on the ‘do-as-thou-wilt’ theme of satanism. People will create the religion which lends itself best as a justification for their lifestyle, and this becomes their ‘truth’.
Yet when it comes to the accusation of legalism, Christians can be just as entrenched in ‘legalism’ (or even more so) than the ones at whom their accusing fingers point.
So let’s forget all this theological luggage derived from issues such as ‘FAITH vs. WORKS’, ‘OLD vs. NEW COVENANT’, ‘OLD vs. NEW TESTAMENT’, and instead let us look at the matter from a different perspective.
‘FAITH vs. WORKS’
Among the Jews there are those who believe that by performing ‘Torah-works of righteousness’ they are able to create a passport into heaven. There is no need for a Savior since sin is forgiven in Torah by the ritual of the sacrifices.
Paul has addressed this issue in his letters by making clear that the RITUAL in the Torah is a shadow picture for the substance it portrays.
Without the substance the shadow picture is empty and meaningless, it’s the substance which is the most important element.
Likewise, the atoning sacrifices in Torah are meaningless without the substance they point to. None of these rituals have the ability to cleanse and redeem from sin, but the spilling of the blood is pointing to the substance of the redeeming sacrifice brought to us by the Messiah, Yahshua.
Paul shows us the connection between the sacrifices of the Covenant and the sacrifice of the Messiah by making clear to us that without the sacrifice of the Messiah the promised contained within the sacrifices of the Covenant would NEVER be able to fulfill the promise. Shadows don't have substance, but the object/person from whence/whom the shadow is projected is the substance.
In doing so Paul argues that the works of Torah-righteousness are not able to create for us a passport into heaven since the Torah reveals to us our failings to live up to the Torah standard, and the blood of animals cannot save us in itself.
YET, it is the FAITH in what the blood of the animals stands for which can save us, the FAITH in the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah that the blood of the animals is pointing forward to, and when you put the two together, living according to the instructions of Torah, and when we fail we can count on forgiveness by FAITH in the atoning sacrifice of the Messiah, then we have the complete picture: the substance to which the shadow points.
No deep mystery of a controversial FAITH vs. WORKS theological debate, just common sense at work, the ‘simple straightforward path’.
Which bring us to ‘OLD vs. NEW COVENANT’.
As we could read in the previous section, the promises contained within the covenant YHWH gave to Moses and the people of Israel are rendered void if there would not be a part 2 of the covenant, where the promises contained within the Covenant could be fulfilled.
And here we have the ‘OLD’ and ‘NEW’ Covenant: the first points to its fulfillment in the second, and they both are two stages of one Covenant. There is nothing mysterious about it; it’s very simple and straightforward.
And so we arrive at the ‘OLD vs. NEW TESTAMENT’ issue.
Just as the ‘Old’ and the ‘New’ Covenant describe two phases of one and the same Covenant, the ‘Old’ and the ‘New’ Testament really illustrate these two phases, and the categorization into ‘old’ and ‘new’ is a bit misleading since they both are ONE continuous Bible and ONE continuous Covenant.
In reality there is NO division between the Old and New Testament since both represent the same Covenant, albeit in two different stages.
Yet Christian theologians and preachers assert that the NEW has done away with the OLD, which is totally and utterly absurd and insane.
How can Yahshua’s sacrifice be seen apart from the sacrifices contained within the Torah instructions YHWH gave to Moses?
How can Yahshua have done away with the Torah instructions when Yahshua Himself said that before heaven and earth pass away not so much as one dot will perish from the ‘LAW’?
Why would YHWH bother to write an ‘outdated LAW’ into the hearts of His children in the ‘latter days’? Surely a ‘LAW’ which has been done away with should belong in the trashcan, and not in the hearts of people?
Yet these theologians and preachers bring forth their champion Paul to support their rebellion against the Covenant.
However, when you look at Paul’s writings in their proper context suddenly a different picture of Paul emerges, not as the ‘law-breaker’, but as someone who puts the law in its proper context and looks at it with the discerning eye of the Spirit.
When Paul writes against those who worry the new believers by telling them that they have violated a Feast day because they did not celebrate it exactly as they did, then Paul is putting the emphasis again on the issue which is most important: KEEPING the Feast day.
Traditional Jews have adopted certain views on what they should do on a Feast day and what they should refrain from doing, and these views are a small measure of Torah with a large measure of rabbinical tradition.
Paul emphasizes that it is not the implementation of this mixture of instructions for a Feast day which saves, but it’s the faith in the Messiah which should lead an individual to a desire to keep the Feast days. If that individual deviates from what traditional Jews usually are inclined to do (or not do) then it does not automatically mean that those who do not exactly follow their esample have sinned and violated Torah instructions.
On the one hand Paul wanted to make a clear distinction between rabbinical traditions and Torah instructions, and on the other hand Paul put the issues in their proper perspective: faith in Yahshua is the most important aspect, and from that perspective obedience to Torah instructions.
Nowhere at any time did Paul encourage believers to set aside Torah instructions. All he did is put everything in its proper perspective, often warning those who were raised in a Jewish environment and thus being familiar with Torah to stop behaving in a pushy way while attempting to blackmail the new believers in accepting their traditions through manipulation of guilt.
The same is true for circumcision: Paul merely pointed out that the ritual is a shadow picture of the substance of the circumcision of the heart, which is performed by YHWH through Yahshua and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit).
In addition to that some conversion rituals to Judaism required a re-circumcision, to which Paul objected.
Paul was not against circumcision, but once again he pointed out that circumcision does not save anyone, but instead, FAITH in Yahshua saves an individual from the curse of death (another issue of contention, the ‘curse of death’ is something very different from the ‘curse of the law’, and Yahshua came to deliver us NOT from the latter, but from the first).
Paul made it clear that when an individual believes in Yahshua and that faith has worked obedience to YHWH’s instructions, this individual is circumcised in the heart and has the very substance of what the ritual of physical circumcision stands for, just as when a physically circumcised individual acting in rebellion against YHWH’s instructions does NOT have the substance of that which the ritual of circumcision stands for and has become by virtue of his rebellion 'uncircumcised'.
If theologians were right in asserting that Paul wrote against circumcision then Paul automatically becomes a hypocrite since he circumcised Timothy who had a Greek father.
But if you keep in mind that Paul did not write against circumcision but rather pointed out that it is NOT the circumcision which saves but rather FAITH in the One who circumcises the heart, then suddenly Paul is understood correctly and his words are read in their proper perspective.
Paul simply wanted to point out that it is accepting the FAITH in Yahshua which is most important, and this FAITH will produce compliance with Torah instructions, and the growth of this tree of faith is a matter of one’s individual relationship with Yahshua and will produce its fruit in its own time.
In other words, Paul told the ‘circumcision’-party to lighten up, stop pushing the issue and leave it up to Yahshua.
The whole distinction between ‘old’ and ‘new’ has served the need for a wedge to facilitate the creation of an entirely new religion bereft of the roots from whence it originally sprang into existence.
Remember how I wrote in my posts about Revelation how, by taking a clear look at the structure of the Bible book Revelation and follow the narrative according to the outline of the structure, the book Revelation unfolds before your eyes?
In the case of Revelation we only needed to read the sequence of chapters describing the timeline, and read the other chapters as illustrations of a certain point the author wanted to make.
So, if you read Revelation 6 – 8 – 9 – 11.15-19 – 16 – 19.11-21 – 20.1-15, the sequential timeline for the ‘end of the age’ is explained, and in the remaining intermittent chapters we find certain aspects of this timeline explained from a different perspective, providing us with more details.
If we apply the same kind of reasoning to the Bible from the perspective of the continuity of the Covenant, and we read from the first 5 books via all the books of the prophets right up to the 4 gospels, we find that the Covenant is announced in the beginning, with Moses bringing a clear unadorned and unadulterated Torah to the people of Israel.
This same Moses announced the coming of a prophet greater than he (Deuteronomy 18:18).
We read in the books of the prophets about their zeal for the instructions of YHWH, admonishing the people against their self-made traditions, be it in service of other idols or inventions of their own mind carried out in purported service to YHWH.
And besides their zeal for a pure Torah the prophets also pointed forward to the coming of One in Whom the promises contained within the rituals of the Torah would find fulfillment.
And after the prophets we arrive at the gospels relating to us the story of the ‘Prophet sent by YHWH’, the One who became a living Torah, acting even with more zeal than the prophets before Him against man-made traditions and hypocrisy (Mark 7.7:”teaching for doctrines the commandments of men”), pointing to a pure unadulterated Torah of which He said that ‘not a dot will pass until heaven and earth pass away’.
In His sacrifice and pure Torah-lifestyle, the living Torah became the fulfillment of the written Torah and added the missing dimension to that written Torah: the life-giving dimension.
This is why Yahshua is the fulfillment of the Torah: He fulfilled the promise in the written Torah for redemption, forgiveness and restoration.
He is the substance of the written Torah.
This line from the beginning to the end is so crystal clear that I am amazed to see people to this very day rejecting the Torah in the name of their brand of Christianity.
Following this line we clearly read in the early part of the Bible, Deuteronomy 30.15 “See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil, in that I command thee this day to love YHWH thy Elohim, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply”, and what do we find the announced Prophet, the Messiah Yahshua say in Matthew 19.17?
“But if thou wilt enter into Life, keep the commandments", and once again in John 14.15: “If ye love Me, keep My commandments”, and again in John 14.21: “But if thou wilt enter into Life, keep the commandments”.
If what I wrote does not make the line of continuity between the beginning of the Bible and the end clear to you, then what will?
It is so self-evident, so obvious.
There is NO parting line between Old and New Testament, there is no division between Old and New Covenant.
There is one Covenant consisting of phase 1 and phase 2.
This is not just another dogma I put forth, if you read the Bible without dogmatic lenses in front of you, and if you read it as I have written (the first 5 books, the prophets, the gospels), then suddenly the beautiful continuity stands out very clearly.
I sometimes stand back in amazement at how it ever could be possible that it took so long for me to discover this simple truth.
Truly, if YHWH decides to hide something, no man on earth shall be able to find it though it stands right in front of him. But to the man who loves Him and diligently seeks Him and His truth He will give him to find the hidden treasures in Heaven and on Earth.
If you set aside the insanely complicated theological arguments, and simply investigate things for yourself, the truth of the issue begins to unfold in a very clear and simple straightforward way.
It’s all about HOW you read the Bible: do you read through a colored lens, or are you willing to set aside that lens and learn to look at the words you read in the Light of YHWH’s Son?