Saturday, June 23, 2018

Your Daily Slice


Tammuz 10
Slander


Who may live on Your holy mountain? … The one who … does not slander with his tongue.” (Ps 15:1-3 TLV)


Râgal (Strong’s H7270) is the Hebrew word that has been translated in our opening passage as ‘slander’, and it paints quite a vivid picture.  The image that we get is one who is walking about, spying on everything around him/her, then running rough-shod over – or trampling – another underfoot.  When we stop to think about this, it is certainly an accurate picture of one who engages in this type of activity.

Noah Webster defines ‘slander’ as “To defame; to injure by maliciously uttering a false report respecting one; to tarnish or impair the reputation of one by false tales, maliciously told or propagated.[1]  We see so much of this going on in today’s headlines, where political opponents – and even those of Hollywood notoriety – continuously defame, slander, and sling as much mud as possible at those they believe to be in the wrong.  Elohim is not pleased with such behavior, and I prayerfully hope that there are no Torah observant believers participating in such conduct.  We are certainly all entitled to our opinions; however, it is very possible to voice our opinions in such a way that we do not belittle and defame any who are in opposition to us.


Years ago, I read an essay by a Christian pastor who made the comment that ‘slander was, in essence, murder with the tongue’.  In reality, slander finds its root in pride, for just who do we think we are to injure and destroy one who is made in the image of our Creator?  Who set us on the throne of judge, jury and executioner?  Does slander truthfully fit in to the composition of “loving our neighbor as ourselves”? (Lev 19:18)

It is the person who refuses to use his/her words as instruments of mass destruction that will ultimately be a part of the Kingdom of Elohim; such a person is letting the light of Torah shine brightly through him/her.  May we all – myself include – take note of this vital requirement in our application for citizenship with our Messiah King.



He who watches over his mouth guards his being, But he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. (Pro 13:3 ISR)

If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the entire body And the tongue is a fire, the world of unrighteousness. Among our members the tongue is set, the one defiling the entire body, and setting on fire the wheel of life, and it is set on fire by Gehenna. (James 3:2, 6 ISR)


©2018


[1] American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828

Friday, June 22, 2018

Your Daily Slice


Tammuz 9
Truth


Who does dwell in Your set-apart mountain? He who … speaks the truth in his heart …” (Ps 15:1-2 ISR)


Emet (Strong’s H571) is the Hebrew word that is most generally translated as ‘truth’, as it is here in this verse.  And as it is with most of the translations available today, much of the broader meaning of the word emet has been lost.  Included in the definition of this word is also the sense of firmness, stability, faithfulness, and integrity.  Jeff Benner, in his Ancient Hebrew Dictionary, has this to say concerning the word emet:

The root of this word is aman, a word often translated as "believe," but more literally means "support," as we see in Isaiah 22:23 where it says "I will drive him like a peg in a place of support..." A belief in Elohiym is not a mental exercise of knowing that Elohiym exists but rather our responsibility to show him our support. The word "emet" has the similar meaning of firmness, something that is firmly set in place. Psalms 119:142 says, "the "Torah" (the teachings of Elohiym) is "emet" (set firmly in place).”[1]

Perhaps it is time to examine just what we are ‘speaking’ within our own hearts and minds.  We are all aware, when we are honestly looking at ourselves in the mirror, that we are proficient at projecting an image that may not truthfully represent who we are.  I believe that is part of human nature; we have no desire for others to think badly of us.  However, to pretend to be someone – or something - that in reality we are not is very, very dangerous, for we are first and foremost deceiving ourselves.  We are not ‘speaking the truth in our hearts’.

What is this truth – emet – that we are to speak in our heart, to hold fast to, to meditate on, and allow it to change us?  Again, the Scriptures validate themselves …



Your righteousness is righteousness forever, And YOUR TORAH IS TRUTH.  (Ps 119:142 ISR, emphasis mine)

יהושע said to him, “I am the Way, and THE TRUTH, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. (John 14:6 ISR, emphasis mine)

But you have not so learned Messiah, if indeed you have heard Him and were taught by Him, AS TRUTH IS IN יהושע: that you put off – with regard to your former way of life – the old man, being corrupted according to the desires of the deceit, and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the renewed man which was created according to Elohim, IN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND SET-APARTNESS OF THE TRUTH. (Eph 4:20-24 ISR, emphasis mine)

©2018



[1] Ancient Hebrew Dictionary, ©2007 Jeff Benner

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Your Daily Slice


Tammuz 8
What is Right



“Who may live on Your holy mountain? The one … who does what is right …” (Ps 15:1-2 TLV)



When we are doing something, it requires some action on our part, for example, if I am doing the dishes, I am washing them; if I am doing my morning chores, I am tending to our livestock, etc.  ‘Do’ is a verb, and means, simply put, “to perform (an act, duty, role, etc.)[1]

What does it mean, therefore, to do “what is right”?  I would suggest to you that it would involve doing those things that are defined as right and true, as we would find throughout the pages of the Torah.  In fact, we are instructed to Sh’ma (Strong’s H8085, Deu 6:4-9), a word that not only means to hear, but with the hearing is also the doing, of being obedient to do what we are hearing. 

Should our desire be to spend the olam haba – the eternity to come – with our Messiah King, ‘living on His holy mountain’, I believe it would be correct to say that ‘doing what is right’ is of critical importance.  Remember, folks, there are no gate-crashers or illegal immigrants in the kingdom of our Elohim.  Not now, not ever.



Therefore put away all filthiness and overflow of evil, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your lives.  And become DOERS OF THE WORD, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. Because if anyone is a hearer of the Word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror, for he looks at himself, and goes away, and immediately forgets what he was like. But he that looked into the perfect Torah, that of freedom, and continues in it, not becoming a hearer that forgets, BUT A DOER OF WORK, this one shall be blessed IN HIS DOING of the Torah.” (James 1:21-25 ISR, emphasis mine)


©2018

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Your Daily Slice


Tammuz 7
Without Blemish



“Who may live on your holy mountain?  The one who walks with integrity …” (Ps 15:1-2 TLV)


Tâmı̂ym (Strong’s H8549) is the Hebrew word that has been translated here as ‘integrity’ – other translations read uprightly or blamelessly.  The word tâmı̂ym is used, for the most part, in connection with the sacrificial system, in describing the requirements of each offering as perfect, without defect or blemish (see Ex 12:5; Lev 3:1; Num 6:14).  Other words attributed to the meaning of tâmı̂ym are complete, sound, mature and without blame.

How does this relate to us, those of us who cling to the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?  To ‘walk’ has to do with our everyday lifestyle, how we live our lives.  Someone who walks blamelessly is one who walks in integrity, and the one who is mature is the one who is complete.  Bear in mind, please, that it is most generally throughout the course of any given day that we interact with other people, and it is in how we interact with these people that “walking with tâmı̂ym” is critical. 

One of the definitions listed by Noah Webster for the word ‘integrity’ is “The entire, unimpaired state of anything, particularly of the mind; moral soundness or purity; incorruptness; uprightness; honesty. Integrity comprehends the whole moral character, but has a special reference to uprightness in mutual dealings, transfers of property, and agencies for others.”[1]  All of this has to do with living the Torah lifestyle, first and foremost, with the commitment to always bringing honor to the One who created us.

Further instructions for interpersonal activity are found in a verse that most of us know well:  “Do not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the children of your people. And you shall love your neighbour as yourself. I am יהוה.” (Lev 19:18)  When we choose to love our neighbor, we typically do not steal, cheat, defraud, or slander each other.  And let us also remember the admonition of “through love serve one another” (Gal 5:13).  This is the formula for “walking with tâmı̂ym”.


©2018


[1] American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster, 1828, emphasis mine


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Your Daily Slice


Tammuz 6
Residence


Who does dwell in Your set-apart mountain? (Ps 15:1 ISR)


Immigration is most likely the hottest and most controversial subject in our nation today, escalating in a parallel with the numbers of illegal immigrants being caught and returned to their country of origin.  I have no problem with legal immigration – I myself am a first generation American, born to Danish immigrants.  I still have a copy of my mother’s immigration application, stamped from Ellis Island, New York.  However, trying to enter our country illegally, trying to circumvent the process, is not only wrong, it is not Scriptural.

There are no illegal immigrants in the kingdom of our Elohim.  Bottom line, no exceptions.  The necessary immigration application is found within the verses of Torah, and approval is gained by living a life in adherence to the divine instructions in moral and righteous living.  It is the same in the United States; for those pursuing legal citizenship in our nation, there are mandatory classes that must be taken (covering our Constitution and Bill of Rights), followed by an oath that must be given, swearing to uphold the laws of our country.  There is nothing new under the sun, is there? (see Ecc 1:9)

We find that it was King David who was ultimately responsible for appointing the first gatekeepers, as well as other Levites designated for specific functions (see 1Chro 28:11-13; 23:2-6). Mentioned are 24,000 concerned with the Temple proper, 6000 judges and officers, 4000 gatekeepers, and 4000 singers and musicians.  For those who thought it was possible to ‘gate-crash’ the Temple grounds, entering illegally, they ultimately had to deal with Elohim’s “Border Patrol”, the assigned priests whose duty it was to process those attempting to enter in.  The position of ‘gatekeeper’ into the Temple area was an important one, and for those individuals who did manage to gain entrance illegally, death was the reward.[1]

And so we look at the question in our opening verse:  Who does dwell in Your set-apart mountain?  The qualifications required are found in the verses of Psalm 15, and as we study them closely, we find that the entire Psalm is all about our relationships with other people.  I hope you will join me as we take each attribute apart, and examine it closely.  I believe this study promises to be an interesting one.


©2018

Monday, June 18, 2018

Your Daily Slice


Tammuz 5
Putting Down Roots



Yahweh, who shall dwell in your sanctuary?  (Ps 15:1 WEBA)


When the nation of Israel entered the Promised Land, the land itself was divided up into different areas, according to the different tribes (see Num 34; Jos 13).  Ownership of land belonging to a particular tribe had to stay within that tribe; it could not be sold to any other (see Lev 25; 27:24; Num 26:55).  We even find ‘check valves’ within the instructions of Torah, wherein the land should always return to its original owner in the year of the yovel (jubilee, the 50th year. See Lev 25:10).  Land was passed down from father to son, a practice that continued for many centuries throughout virtually every continent of our world, and is still found in agricultural societies today.

However, in our ‘modern’ society of the United States of America, We have become a transient nation.  If we don’t particularly like where we are living, we move.  If we can find a better employment prospect on the other side of the country, we move, and think nothing of it.  If we desire to retire to a warmer climate, we move, and it is not a big deal.  The ageless concept of ‘putting down roots’ has vanished into the barrow ditches of the highways and byways that take us where we think we need to go.  In the last ten years, I personally know of several large family ranches that were first homesteaded in the mid-to-late 1800’s, that have now been sold and divided up into smaller ‘ranchettes’, all because none of the remaining offspring wanted anything to do with their family ‘roots’.  Sad, so very sad.

As believers and disciples of the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, where are our roots?  Where do we choose to take up permanent residency?  Or are we just passing through, waiting on that better job opportunity that is sure to come along at any moment …


For a day in Your courts Is better than a thousand days. I have chosen rather to be a doorkeeper In the House of my Elohim, Than to dwell in the tents of the wrong.  (Ps 84:10 ISR)



©2018

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Your Daily Slice


Tammuz 3
The Heart of a Servant



For you, brothers, have been called to freedom, only do not use freedom as an occasion for the flesh, but THROUGH LOVE SERVE ONE ANOTHER. (Gal 5:13 ISR, emphasis mine)


Not too many days ago, I had a conversation with a young lady – one who professes to have a relationship with the living Elohim – during which she complained vehemently about everything others expected of her.  I am paraphrasing her words here: “the only time anyone calls is when they want something from me, be it something I am to do for them, or something, especially money, that they want me to give to them.”  While I can understand the emotions behind her statement, being a servant is exactly what we are called to do, if we make the claim of being a child of Elohim.

Our lives are not our own, we are no longer free to do whatever we want, with whomever we choose.  We have been bought and paid for with a price that is non-negotiable (1Pet 1:18-20; Acts 20:28; 1Cor 6:20), which has effectively transferred ownership to the One who paid for us.  Here me, folks, the first position we assume in the kingdom of our Creator is that of slave – one who has been bought.  Because of His love for us, our Father chooses to change that relationship to that of parent/child, but we cannot call ourselves a child of God unless we first recognize the status of slave.

The Greek word in our opening verse that has been translated as ‘serve’ is douleuō (Strong’s G1398), and means to be a slave, to do service, to yield oneself in obedience and service.  Notice, please, those whom we are to serve: one another.  I have yet to find in Scripture any verse that allows me to pick and choose those I am to serve, and be of service to.  Yes, we all have individual giftings and talents that are of benefit to the body of Messiah, and they are to be used as such (see 1Pet 4:10), for by doing so, we bring honor and esteem to the One who owns the title to our lives.  My contribution is that of exhortation, encouragement, edification and comfort – some have called me teacher, though I do not make that claim.  However, I do not pick and choose who is on the receiving end of what I write – that choosing is reserved for Elohim alone.

As in everything we do, there must be a balance.  We cannot continually give of ourselves – our time, talents, and even finances – without tending to ourselves (and family) first.  If we don’t continue to make deposits to our bank accounts, eventually we will be overdrawn, and in trouble with the bank.  It is the same principal here.  Shabbat was created for a day of rest, a time to have our batteries recharged, a time to sit at the feet of our Master.  It is only after we have tended to our nefesh – our innermost being – that we are able to be the servant our Creator requires us to be.

Allow me, please, to give a word of warning.  The definition of ‘hypocrite’ is “a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs”[1].  If we make the claim of loving our Creator with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength (Deu 6:5; Luke 10:27), yet we are not willing to “love our neighbors as ourselves” (Lev 19:18), and to serve one another in love (see our opening verse), then we are deceiving ourselves.  Messiah Yeshua said very plainly that “If a person [really] loves Me, HE WILL KEEP MY WORD [obey My teaching] Anyone who does not [really] love Me does not observe and obey My teaching.” (John 14:23-24 AMPC)  Obedience – through love – to the divine instructions in moral and righteous living will always be the fertilizer of the fruit that we bear.  A lack of obedience will abort and stunt whatever fruit we may have growing, and eventually cause it to cease bearing fruit all together.


And by this we know that we have known Him, if we keep His commandments. The one saying, I have known Him, and not keeping His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in that one. But whoever keeps His Word, truly in this one the love of YAHWEH has been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him. (1John 2:3-5 HRB)


Abba, Father, I come to You, heavy in heart.  I am asking, Abba, that You would refine and perfect a servant’s heart within me.  May I always be willing to serve, to do, to give, to those You direct me to.  And in serving others, may my service bring honor and esteem to You, my Creator and Master.  Amein.


©2018




Your Daily Slice

Tammuz 10 Slander “ Who may live on Your holy mountain? … The one who … does not slander with his tongue.” (Ps 15:1-3 TLV) ...