Israel — Of God, or Not of God?

Israel celebrates her 69th Day of Independence this Monday and Tuesday.  Most of Israel’s Arab population knows it as their Day of Catastrophe (nakba).  Neither one yet fears YHVH.  The one, true, living God of Heaven and Earth is fulfilling His Word and plan for His holy name’s sake, and against all opposition to Him — including unbelief.  He cannot, and will not, be stopped!  Praise be to His name!

The Israeli Jewish people celebrate their military strength and prowess; the Arab Palestinian people refuse to accept that the land was covenanted to Jacob for an everlasting possession, yet to be realized.  The Holy Spirit is working to turn away ungodliness from Jacob so that all Israel (the full remnant from all the tribes) will be saved.  The Arabs hope is to be found in Israel’s hope:  Yeshua/Yasua/Jesus, the Lord and Messiah, Son of David.

Israel’s leadership and people feel that the lesson of the Holocaust is that the Jewish people must protect themselves by themselves.  The Arab world feel that the lesson of the Holocaust is unjust and not fair.  Neither fear the LORD.

Most of the Jewish people are relying on “a god of fortresses” — self-determined that they must be masters of their own destiny —  rather than trust in the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, who alone can guarantee them life that is really life.  Most of the Arab peoples are relying on a god of vengeance, nurtured by a bitter root and an ancient hatred towards their brothers and cousins.  Neither line of Abraham’s family fears the God of their father in truth.

The Jewish people have only recently celebrated the Passover, glorying in their deliverance by YHVH from Egyptian slavery.  On the heels of that joyful celebration and hope, we solemnly and gravely remembered the worst calamity yet to come upon our people — the Holocaust.  The night preceding Independence Day we again remember all those Jewish people [in particular] who have sacrificed their lives in the many wars and conflicts connected with being a sovereign people in our own land.  There is the constant reminder to abide in the faith, for through much suffering and tribulation we enter the Kingdom of God. (Acts 14:22)  Yet our people still have not repented and believed the gospel, confessing their unfaithfulness to our God, that they would know their sins are forgiven through the sacrifice and shed blood of Yeshua, whom God raised from the dead. (Lev 26:40-45)  For the Father was well-pleased with His beloved Son!

For us who have received our peace with God through saving faith in His Son, our Savior, our battle is not waged against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies.  Our weapons are not carnal, but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Messiah.

Today’s Israel is a miracle/banner (nes) for the nations/Gentiles.  God has intervened in history again to repossess HIS land for His people.  The return of the Jewish people back to the land of promise is a proof that YHVH is the true God.  It is a huge sign of the end-times of the last days — not unlike the ark in Noah’s days.  Against all odds, the LORD is doing a greater thing than what He did to bring us out of Egypt, or out of Babylon.  (Is 11:12; Jer 16:14-15; 23:7-8).  Jacob’s Trouble is coming, but Israel will be saved out of it.  (Jer 30:7)  The Lord’s return cannot be far behind!  Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!  Then Jerusalem will have God’s peace.

The Holocaust and Knowing God

Is 5:11-16, 21-24  Israel does not regard the activity of YHVH or the works of His hands.  God’s people in captivity [physical and spiritual] because of  lack of knowledge.  YHVH of Hosts will be exalted in judgment, hallowed in righteousness.    God’s people have rejected Law of YHVH of Hosts and despised the Word of the Holy One of Israel.

Tomorrow night begins Holocaust Remembrance Day, the remembrance of the worst calamity so far upon the Jewish people/the children of Jacob in our history.  The subject of the Holocaust always brings with it many questions:  Where was God, whom Jews and Christians claim is everywhere, all-powerful, and all-knowing?    Why did our God not intervene to stop or even prevent such unspeakable horror and sufferings and acts of wickedness?    If Messiah has come, as Christians say, and He has not forsaken His covenanted people, how could so many – including children, nursing mothers, religious Jews – be killed?    How could this happen in a “Christian” nation — Germany?    What kind of God is this who could see and allow such a thing?    Answers are not so easily offered.

Jewish persons and the people of Israel are witnesses of YHVH God, who created and chose us. (Is 43:10)  We are witnesses of who He is, and we are witnesses of what man is. (1Cor 10:6-11)  The lesson of Scripture is that a nation collectively, and individuals personally, are responsible before God for their own sin and consequent judgment, and for their own righteousness and consequent justification.(Ezek 18; Joel 2:32)  The same God who made His Son Jesus a whole burnt offering for sin to die for our transgressions is the same God who brought a destruction upon His chosen people — whom He has called as a nation His first-born son — in judgment for our continuing unbelief and sin, in accord with the testimony of God’s covenants and written Word.  Our God is a Jealous God, who knows what is wise and good!

YHVH is a God of covenant, and He is faithful.  He does not change.  The God of the Tenach (O.T.) is the same as the God of the N.T.  The God of Israel is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.  We all believe—I think—that the words and teaching of Jesus recorded in Mt 24, Mk 13, Lk 21, Rev refer in large part to events still to take place – regarding Israel, the nations, and the Church – and that these things are not far off now.  What is spoken of in these places is something not yet experienced in human history, and the only deliverance can come from God Himself:  the God who has prophesied judgments is the God who promises deliverance and mercy to those who turn to Him for salvation.

When speaking about the Holocaust and its lessons, God is usually left out as being active in it.  It is always good and edifying to read stories like Corrie Ten Boom’s, because we see the works and ways of God in mercies towards innocent victims, and towards those who repent of their sins.  But even a Corrie Ten Boom needed to learn the ways of God in Messiah:  to forgive those who did such despicable things, not only to Jews, but also to her own Dutch family who tried to save Jews from being sent to Germany.  We Jews, who know that our own sins – both personal and as part of a nation – are forgiven, can offer comfort to Germans, especially to those who have saving faith in Jesus, to free them from a lingering sense of guilt and shame over their sins and those of their nation. 

When we leave God out of the discussion as to what happened and why, it is further proof that we do not regard His Law, or His Word, or His acts and righteous judgments, the very things by which He can and will be known and sanctified!  Those who would deny that God could allow such a thing become those who deny that He can send sinners, who refuse His terms of salvation, to hell forever.  The passage we read from Isaiah is consistent with the Words of YHVH through Moses in chapters like Lev 26; Dt 28; 32.

Read them to know better the great God whom we serve and in whom we have entrusted our souls for life.

It is evident that Holocaust museums, education on racism and antisemitism will not be enough to prevent what is cried aloud, “Never again!”  The same living Word of God written thousands of years ago still abides.  Judgments against sin and sinners come from the Holy and Righteous Judge of the whole Earth, firstly against those of His own people who refuse to walk in His ways and so receive all His benefits.

Even today, when the gospel is going out in Israel and believers in Yeshua/Jesus as Messiah and Lord are greater in number than ever before, our religious and political leaders still oppose the truth of God our Father in Heaven.  The government is making its own plans for peace and security, refusing God’s, which is the only one which will succeed.  The believers in Arad are suffering threats and curses from those who claim to know God, just as happened in the days of Jesus and the apostles. 

How can we know God’s grace and mercy?:  Through His judgments, just as Adam and Eve; just as we who know the reason why Jesus came to die on the cross; just as Israel and the nations will learn as God brings every knee to bow and tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (YHVH).  It is at the cross that we know God—both in His righteous judgment against all sin and sinners, and in His mercy and love for anyone who repents and believes in their heart that He is just in all His ways.

Jn 3:16-19  For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.  He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

If we love our people, if we love the Jewish people and the nation of Israel, we will bring the truth of God and His Word to them, that the Holy Spirit would convict them of their sin of unbelief, so that they might seek God for His mercy to forgive.  As we remember the Holocaust, let us remember, too, the honor of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ whom He sent.

The Holocaust and The Salvation of Israel: “Be Reconciled to God”

Lev. 26: 40-45   Israel and Jewish people confessing personal and historic collective guilt for breaking the LORD’s covenants

There is a biblical principle whereby God holds the heads of a people accountable for the blessing or punishment of the people.  We see this with Pharaoh and the Egyptians with respect to the children of Israel at the time of the Passover and Exodus from Egypt.  We see it again with King David and his census of Israel, bringing the LORD’s judgment upon the people and the near destruction of Jerusalem (2Sam. 24).

The rulers of the people — whether kings or priests — represent the people before God, and by their example of faith and obedience — or the contrary — the nation is led.  Today, does not a nation of people go to war or make peace based upon the determinations of their leader(s)?  Are not nations judged in the eyes of others by their thoughts regarding the heads of government or of the religious authorities?  Do not Jews today insist that Germans living today confess their nation’s and their parents’ guilt for the Holocaust — that Germans and Germany are primarily responsible and guilty because of their evil leader who governed and represented them?; or to put it another way, in Hitler, the Germans living today — whether or not they were personally and directly involved — are reckoned as guilty and defiled by the Jewish people, even more than are Austrians and Poles who also bear their own iniquity.

Other Biblical examples of this living principle of divine justice covering generations for nations, tribes, and  peoples are:
1.      in Adam, all have sinned and all human beings inherit condemnation and death;

2.      in Abraham (Abram), Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek, signifying the preeminence of  the Priest Melchizedek over Aaron and the Levitical priesthood;

3.      in the Passover, Jews remember that we were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD brought us out;

4.      in Messiah, many are justified and made alive, inheriting righteousness and life.

There are both  power in, and accountability for, our words which we speak or write, all the more so if we are in positions of authority (Mt. 12:36-37).

          John 11:45-53    – Caiaphas the High Priest unknowingly prophesied that the one man Yeshua would die for the whole nation, and even for all the scattered children of God.

          Mt. 27:25           – “all the people [of Israel] answered and said, ‘Let His [Yeshua’s] blood be on us and on our children’!

Primary responsibility, with its guilt and historic consequences, is upon the leaders and people of Israel (John 19:11; Lev. 4:1-3, 13, 14, 22, 23; Acts 2; 4; 1Cor 2:7-8; Lk 23:34) — both before God and by our own words and agreement with our “fathers” — for the betrayal and death of Messiah.  Praise God that upon the cross, Yeshua/Jesus prayed that God His Father forgive us!  They did not know what they were doing; and neither did we until we repented and believed the truth of who Yeshua/Jesus is.

YEHOVAH is the God of covenant, to which He is always faithful to fulfill His part, which includes His  promises to make the people of Israel a holy people for Himself.  Therefore He is working to remove from His people transgressions, sin, iniquity, and uncleanness — guilt and shame – – and to bring in everlasting righteousness.  The Holy Spirit is working to bring His people to an end of themselves, to stop trusting in themselves or in the arm of the flesh, so that they will call on the Name of Yeshua for salvation:  Blessed is He who comes in the Name YEHOVAH!  It is Yeshua whom God has given as a guilt offering (Is. 53:10), and His blood cleanses from all unrighteousness.

The Holocaust brings reproach to the Holy Name of the God of Israel and of the Lord Jesus Christ:
          –“These are the people chosen by God?!”

          –“Where was/is God?”

        –“There is no God!”

          –“How can a ‘good’ God allow such atrocities?”

          –“Maybe God is not strong enough to stop evil?!”

        –“God has forsaken and cast away the Jews!”

Remember Messianic brothers and sisters, Yeshua died a criminal’s death because of — and to take away — that evil unbelief and rebellion, the sin of the world!

Do we trust and love our God and Savior to honor His holy name in the face of such unbelief and mocking?  Many Christians risked, and even sacrificed their lives to save Jews from the death trains and camps.  In the unknowable ways of God, just as the crucifixion was necessary, so too was the Holocaust.  God’s judgments are past finding out!

As many as are Jewish believers, we need to accept the truth of our primary responsibility for our history.  Let Gentile believers each examine and judge himself for their own personal and historic sins of your nations and churches against the Sovereign LORD and against the Jews and Christians.  Offenses there must necessarily be, but woe to those through whom they come!

The Lord Jesus says that the truth sets free and sanctifies.  Confession of our own and of our fathers’ sins is an act of humility, and it brings cleansing, freedom, blessedness — because by it we receive and know the righteousness of God who forgives us and accepts us.

The Lord promises to save His people from their sins.  The true gospel includes the cross of the Messiah and God’s righteous judgments against Israel, not to the exclusion of the other nations.  As has been spoken before, there is no glory for the Jewish people (or for any nominal Christian) apart from the faith in the death and resurrection of Yeshua, the Hope of Israel.  Let us who believe be sure of our own peace with God and acceptance of His ways and judgments so that we can speak the truth with love to the Jewish people, and to others.

2Cor. 5:11a, 18-21  – in the fear of God, be reconciled to Him and be ministers of reconciliation   

Amen.

Passover to Resurrection

Mt 26:17-29  And on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, Where do You desire that we prepare for You to eat the Passover?  (18)  And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say to him, The Master said, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.  (19)  And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them. And they made the Passover ready.  (20)  And when evening had come, He sat down with the Twelve.  (21)  And as they ate, He said, Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.  (22)  And grieving sorrowfully, they began to say, each one of them, Lord, not I am the one?  (23)  And He answered and said, He who dips his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me.  (24)  The Son of Man goes, as it has been written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.  (25)  And answering, the one betraying Him, Judas, said, Master, Not am I the one? He said to him, You said it.  (26)  And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat, this is My body.  (27)  And He took the cup and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink all of it.  (28)  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.  (29)  But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.

Mt 28:1-9  But after the Sabbath, at the dawning into the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.  (2)  And behold, a great earthquake occurred! For coming down from Heaven, an angel of the Lord came and rolled back the stone from the door and was sitting on it.  (3)  His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.  (4)  And the keepers shook for fear of him and became like dead men.  (5)  And the angel answered and said to the women, Do not fear, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.  (6)  He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  (7)  And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead. And, behold, He goes before you into Galilee. There you shall see Him. Lo, I have told you.  (8)  And they quickly departed from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.  (9)  But as they were going to report to His disciples, behold, Jesus also met them, saying, Hail! And they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.

We have heard how that YHVH God, brought out the children of Israel from Egypt in order to make His name great, and to have Israel be His holy people, and He would be their God.  He promised them to inherit the Land of Canaan.  However, the people have been unfaithful to the LORD throughout most of their history.  BUT, God has been faithful to His covenants and to the conditions and promises of them.  Praise the Lord!  And we today who have returned to live in this very land are part of His plan of redemption, and proof that the God of Israel is the true God, and God of gods.

In the passage from Mt 26, we see that Yeshua and His closest disciples kept the Passover, with the Messiah establishing a New Covenant with them, and with Israel.  It is a covenant in which YHVH promises to forgive the Israeli people all of their sins. (Jer 31:31-37)  For this the Savior’s name is Yeshua. (Mt 1:21)  He still reaches out to them until today with this same offer of salvation that He began with them.  Even among the apostles was one who was unfaithful to the Lord.  Yeshua, at this last supper before His crucifixion as the Passover Lamb born to be the sacrifice to atone for our sins, institutes the Lord’s Supper of remembrance, which we are about to do ourselves.

In the passage from Mt 28, a new day has come – Sonday, the day after the Sabbath (Lev 23:9-12)!  It is the day of Firstfruits.  A day of rejoicing instead of mourning!  Victory over death, the devil, and sin!  A new day in which the angels and Yeshua told Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to go tell the others that Yeshua is risen from the dead!  He is the firstfruits from among the dead.  The harvest time is nearing in our generation.  And they went from Jerusalem to meet Him in Galilee, as He had told them beforehand to do, and they ate together.

Now, all who confess with their mouth that Yeshua is Lord, and believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead, will be saved!  And with this New Covenant that God offers not only to the Jewish people, but also to all Gentiles, YHVH also confirms that He will keep all of His covenant promises to Israel, including the inheritance of the land, and that they will be His people, and He will be their God. (Rom 15:8-13; 2Cor 1:20-22; Jer 31:33)  Yeshua was born King of the Jews; Yeshua was crucified as King of the Jews; Yeshua will come again to be the King of the Jews!  Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let us fellowship together now in remembering the death of the Lord, and His burial and resurrection, until He comes.

Yeshua and Traditions of the Elders/of Men

Mk 7:1-23

As Yeshua continued to prove Himself to be the Messiah and the Son of God, we also see how the opposition to Yeshua strengthened as He became more threatening to the established order.  Despite all of the signs and good works and healings that Jesus did, the flesh and the natural mind were warring against the Spirit and the wisdom of God. The will of men was resisting the will of God:  without repentance from unbelief to faith, the natural mind can not and will not understand the things of God. (1Cor 2:14)   

I saw a blog on the internet by someone who calls himself an atheist and a believer in natural law.  He wrote against the Sermon on the Mount!  Everything that Jesus strengthened concerning the Law of Moses was, to this man, against natural law; e.g., Jesus saying that hating someone is the same as murdering him;, or that a married man lusting after another woman is the same as adultery; we have to love our enemy.  The true God calls His people to holiness – within, and without. 

In the passage we have read in Mark, we see that those who have taken upon themselves to control others by their own interpretations, customs, and traditions – all in the name of keeping the Torah – find themselves fighting against the very One who does in truth keep the Law, and is the very one who came to save those who do not!  This is the essence of what is called “Replacement Theology”:  replacing God’s Word with someone else’s.  Some examples are Adam and Eve believing what the serpent said rather than what God Himself had told them; Judaism placing the “Oral Law” – their own interpretations and judgments, now written in the Talmud – as an equal or higher authority over the written Law and interpretations given through the prophets and even the Messiah Himself; Christianity saying that God has finished with Israel and the Jewish people, and that the Church and Christians have replaced them as God’s people, rather than becoming also God’s people along with the Jews and Israel; Islam claiming that God has finished with both Jews, Israel, and Christians, and that now Muslims are the true believers.  All of this “replacement theology” results from a lack of the fear of God and not believing in what the true God – YHVH – has actually said.  In essence, we place ourselves equal to or above the Father and the Son in determining truth and our choice to obey or not, or to approve or disapprove!

This accusation of Yeshua against His own brothers and people is true not of them only, but of all people.  Remember, Israel is given by God as an example to the church (1Cor 10:11) – made up of men and women from every nation and tribe.  In this “replacement theology”, Jews are not different than Gentiles, and Gentiles are no different than Jewish people.

In this passage, it is the third time that the religious authorities confronted Jesus and His disciples regarding their non-compliance to keep the traditions and regulations of the ‘Oral Law’.  In the first instance (Mk 2:18), they failed to fast as the Pharisees did; in the second (Mk 2:24), they did not keep the Sabbath as the elders taught.  To the religious Jews, the Oral Law was also received by Moses from God at Mt. Sinai, and passed on to Joshua and the elders of Israel.  By this assumption (which was not true), they gave equal – even more – weight to the traditions of the elders – which Jesus calls the traditions of men – than to the Law of Moses itself, claiming that the Oral Law is what helps a Jew keep the written Law.  In other words, the traditions of the elders/of men becomes the halacha, or the way to walk the pious life, and find approval from men.  The Pharisees called themselves disciples of Moses (Jn 9:28), and Jesus told them that Moses would judge them for not believing in Him and what He said. (Jn 5:44-46)

When the Pharisees challenged Yeshua as to why His disciples did not walk according to the traditions of the elders, Yeshua responded with the Word of God as written in the prophet Isaiah, and in Moses.  They were breaking God’s commandments because their hearts were far from the LORD.  Yeshua took the first commandment with a promise – intended for children of all ages, even as adults – that children are to honor their fathers and mothers (Ex 20:12; Dt 5:16) – and told them that they were inventing ways to not honor their parents, and giving it religious authority as if it were from God, and as if they honored and loved God more than anyone else, even their own fathers and mothers. But they were actually guilty of cursing their fathers and mothers. (Ex 21:17; Lev 20:9)  This can sound very pious, and even like what Jesus Himself teaches:  that we must love Him more than all, even more than our own parents. (Mt 10:34-39)  Only by really loving the Lord, and paying attention to all that He says – to listen and understand (v. 14) — can we begin to understand how to obey Him in the right Spirit and without contradiction or hypocrisy.  By our own traditions, we can become worthy of death under God’s law, all the while justifying ourselves as being righteous!  This is a very strong deception!!

With respect to eating food with unwashed hands, the issue that the Pharisees brought up was not really about having clean (i.e., not dirty) hands before eating.  They only did a religious ceremony of pouring water on their hands/fists, having little to do with making sure that their hands were clean before eating, but rather, by their custom, making their hands ritually clean and not defiled.  Jesus did not accept this at all, principally because their inner heart relationship with God, and with their own mothers and fathers (and towards other people), was not pure. 

Jesus said to the multitude of people that were listening that what goes into the mouth does not defile a person, but rather what comes out from the heart.  Even the disciples did not understand. (v 15-18)

Now, Jesus took the opportunity to make a huge change in the Law of Moses, with respect to what is acceptable as food.  Remember, the LORD told Jeremiah the prophet that the new covenant would not be like the former one given at Mt. Sinai.  Being new, there would be some changes and differences.  Remember, too, that God’s eternal plan is that Jew and Gentile would become socially equal before God.  The whole issue of food is huge socially:  ­­­­­can Jews and Gentiles – in particular co-believers in Jesus — eat the same food, and together at the same table?

The Law of Moses says that some animals are unclean to eat, and that it is an abomination for Jews to eat them, and that those who eat them become an abomination. (Lev 11:12, 20, 41, 43)  YHVH gave these laws and regulations so that Israel would learn to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, for He is holy. (Lev 11:45-47)   

But NOW, Yeshua is saying that putting any food in the mouth does not defile a person – does not make him unclean or abominable!  What goes into the mouth goes out of the body after nourishing it.  But what comes out of the heart of a person can defile him or her.  By this word of the Lord Yeshua the Messiah, He has made all foods clean (kosher), at least for the believer in what He said and meant. (v.19)  Clean animals were already clean; He did not need to make them clean.  Therefore it is the unclean foods which He has also declared as clean.  To the Jewish people first of all, to whom the Law was given!  Yeshua is our peace, and the middle wall of partition He has broken down between Jewish believers and Gentiles.  Yeshua is able to send us to serve Him and the gospel among other people groups, and our conscience can be clean regarding the food we may need to eat for the sake of love and of the gospel.

If God can make me clean (and Gentiles, too!), He — the LORD and Messiah — can make unclean food clean that only goes in and out of me, and His word was reinforced by the experience and doctrines of the Apostles. (Mk 7:14-16; Acts 10:9-16; 11:1-10Rom 14:2-3,14,20Gal 2:11-14; 1Tim 4:1-5; Heb 13:9)  What is OUR character?!  Is it like one of the unclean animals and creatures?  So we begin to learn in ourselves the difference between that which is acceptable to God and that which is not, sanctifying ourselves, purifying/cleansing our hearts, for our God and Lord and indwelling Spirit is holy and pure, and by faith we both establish the Law and fulfill its righteousness. (Rom 3:31; 8:4)  When we speak of what is Biblically kosher regarding foods (including, of course, the man-made traditional ban on eating meat and dairy together), we must remember that the New Testament is part of the Bible!  God is getting to the heart of the matter with us as His holy people and temple.

A Messianic Jew is not obligated to eat pork, for example — or, for that matter, a good kosher angus steak — but will he allow others to do so, or will he judge them for not being ‘good Jews’?  Our own cultural and moral biases and sensitivities can keep separate what God has made possible to join together.

So, what do we learn from our passage in Mark:  one lesson concerns external rituals. If people participate in congregational/synagogue/church services and follow all the rituals perfectly, they may have a heart after God’s, but may not. Unbelievers and nominal believers can have the appearance of being devout, but if there is not faith then their ritual will not help in worshiping God in spirit and truth.  It is more important for people to get their hearts right with God than to ‘go through the motions’.

A second lesson is that there is a real danger in replacing the the word of God (the letter and the spirit of it) with our traditions. Traditions can be helpful (like a picture is worth a thousand words), but they have a way of pushing aside or replacing the basic commandments.  We might also carry through what was appropriate for a ‘dispensation’ in life into a more mature stage where it becomes unsuitable for going on unto the fullness which is in the ‘seed’.  The attitude of the “keepers of the law” in the passage also appears in many churches, even in Israel still!  Many traditions have grown up over the centuries in different streams and denominations, and many of them have become “essential”. We can be more concerned that people might violate our man-made rules for leading and serving the congregation/church, the way we do baptism and communion, or the set of rules that our particular group follows in the name of holiness, than we are about mercy and humility. We can be more concerned about which way to take up the offerings than about meeting the needs of people in the community. If we are not careful, these traditions of ours can become ‘law’, and we might even forget what the Word of God actually says about some of those things we do, or do not do.

Then, when someone comes along – like Jesus and His disciples — who discerns the difference, we can become defensive, judging them while justifying ourselves. But then we remember the teaching of Yeshua that God is more concerned with what/who we actually are than what our outward religiosity looks like. There is a place for rituals and traditions, but they must retain their proper place in our faith-life.
https://bible.org/seriespage/22-jesus-and-traditions-elders-matthew-151-20

A third lesson from our reading is that the New Covenant is just that – new.  There are some things that continue from the old, but there also some changes and differences which promote and advance the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the truth of the one new man in Messiah Yeshua – affecting all believers, allowing for full social fellowship among and with all.  In love, we do not make our liberty a cause of stumbling for another brother or sister. (Rom 14:13-23; 1Cor 8) 

“Yeshua/Jesus Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition/separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity – the law of commandments in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Eph 2:14-16)  

To obey the Lord is better than sacrifice.  He wants a heart that is one with His.  This will ensure that we are with Him and not against Him as we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, as the apostle Paul writes. (Phlp 2:12)   We do not want to be judged as hypocrites, but as righteous, in the righteous judgment of God, who sees the heart.