Thursday, July 3, 2014

Who is a Jew?

Who is a Jew?  Today many Rabbinic and Karaite Jews deny that Messianic Jews are Jewish,  whether they are of Jewish or Gentile background.  They say that the person of Jewish background has forfeited his Jewishness by believing in Yeshua.  And that the person of Gentile background has not become Jewish because he has not converted to a legitimate sect of Judaism.  Sadly many Messianic Jews of Jewish background will defend their own Jewishness based on the legitimacy of Rabbinic Judaism by claiming descent from a woman who practiced Rabbinic Judaism.  But is this what the Scriptures say makes a person Jewish?  What is just as sad is the fact that many Messianic Jews will vehemently deny the Jewishness of their fellow congregants who are of a Gentile background.  But they do not realize that by doing so they are admitting in a very real way that their form of Judaism is illegitimate.  I've actually heard Messianic Jews of a Jewish background say that in order for a Gentile to become Jewish they must convert to Rabbinic Judaism(which requires denial of Yeshua).  And some go so far as too say that it is impossible for a Gentile to become Jewish at all.  But is that what the Scriptures say?  Who is a Jew?  I will attempt to give an answer in this article.

First lets look at the Scriptures to see how the word Jew is used.  The Hebrew word for Jew is Yehudi which comes from the name of Yehudah(Judah) the fourth son of our father Yaakov(Jacob).  See Bereshit(Genesis)29:35.  So one of the obvious definitions of the word Jew is a descendant of the Patriarch Yehudah.  The word Jew can also refer to a citizen of the Kingdom of Yehudah.  Which included the the tribes of Yehudah, Benyamin(Benjamin), Levi and members of the ten tribes of Yisrael(Israel) who remained faithful to YHWH.  See 2Chronicles 11:12-17 and Esther 2:5.  I agree with the Rabbinics that the ten lost tribes are out there somewhere, but I don't want to get into that subject right now because it distracts people from the point I'm trying to make.  The word Jew can also mean any descendant of our father Yaakov.  See Romans 2:9-10.  When used in this way it would make the word Jew a synonym of Israelite.  This is also what most people think of when they hear the word Jew today.

This is where this article is going to get a little bit controversial.  Are the Jewish people today the physical descendants of our father Yaacov?  Lets look at the genetics.  Now most people have been told that most of the Jewish people all over the world are genetically the same, proving that the vast majority of them are the physical descendants of our father Yaacov.  Look at this quote.

"Recently published research in the field of molecular genetics –- the study of DNA sequences –- indicates that Jewish populations of the various Diaspora communities have retained their genetic identity throughout the exile. Despite large geographic distances between the communities and the passage of thousands of years, far removed Jewish communities share a similar genetic profile. This research confirms the common ancestry and common geographical origin of world Jewry."
This statement is somewhat misleading.  Here is another quote from that same article.  Only I'm going to emphasis some key words.

"Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level. The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora."                                                                  (M.F. Hammer, Proc. Nat'l Academy of Science, May 9, 2000)    

Notice that the Jewish people have multiple paternal gene pools that come from an ancestral population not a paternal gene pool that comes from a singular ancestor.  Paternal gene pools are often referred to as haplogroups in genetic studies.  When the above quote says that "most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level" it means that the same haplogroups were found among them at approximately the same percentages.  It is not saying that all those haplogroups trace back to our father Yaakov.  Here is a list of the different haplogroups found among the Ashkenazi Jews.

J2 19%-21%            
E1b1 16%-23%
J1 14%-25%
R1a 7%-20%
R1b 10%-11%
Q1 5%-7%
G 5%-10%
I 4%-5%

Obviously there is a lot of wiggle room when it comes to the percentages of the different haplogroups.  It depends on what study you use.  I've tried to give you the extremes based on different studies.  A good overall source of information on the genetics of the Jewish people is   The Sephardic Jews are basically the same except as far as I can tell they have a slightly higher percentage of R1b.  So why do I bring this all up?  You have eight different haplogroups listed above which were fathered by eight different men, and none of them are descended from any of the others.  Now it is true that some of the men are closely related.  Such as J1 and J2.  And the same goes for R1b and R1a.  So here is the question.  What haplogroup was fathered by our father Yaakov?  We can only pick one.  So which is it?  Most geneticists pick J1 because the famous Cohen Modal Haplotype is a subgroup of J1.  So the best case scenario is that only 25% of the modern Jewish population are the physical descendants of our father Yaakov.  And even that is wishful thinking, because J1 is also the father of a lot of Arabs which would mean that J1 is more likely to be our father Avraham than our father Yaakov.  Look at this quote.

In Arabic countries, J1 climaxes among the Marsh Arabs of South Iraq (81%), the Sudanese Arabs (73%), the Yemeni (72%), the Bedouins (63%), the Qatari (58%), the Saudi (40%), the Omani (38%) and the Palestinian Arabs (38%). High percentages are also observed in the United Arab Emirates (35%), coastal Algeria (35%), Jordan (31%), Syria (30%), Tunisia (30%), Egypt (21%) and Lebanon (20%)
So unless your willing to say that all those Arabs are Jewish you have no other choice but to say J1 is (best case scenario) our father Avraham.  So now we are down to less than 25% of the Jewish population being descendants of our father Yaakov.  Because some of those Jews that are J1 are going to be descendants of Ishmaelites, Edomites, Moabites and Ammonites who have converted to Judaism.  So the Messianic Jews of a Jewish background better hope that a Gentile can become Jewish, because if they can't over 75% of them are actually Gentiles.  I'll say one more thing regarding genetics.  It is a very young science and there is a lot that we don't understand.  So there might be a chance that this is all wrong but as far as we can tell there is not any other way to interpret the evidence.  At least not until further discoveries are made.  Now that we know that as far as genetics is concerned that most Jews today are no more Jewish physically than their Gentile neighbors down the street, what are we supposed to do?  Should we declare that over 75% of the Jews today are Gentiles and that there is no way they can be Jewish?  This is a question all those Messianic Jews of Jewish background that think that it is impossible for a Gentile to become Jewish needs to ask themselves.

So, can a Gentile become a Jew?  Lets see what the Scriptures have to say about it.

Esther8:17 And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell upon them.            

This passage makes it clear that Gentiles can indeed become Jewish.  In fact this passage is so clear that I'm surprised that there are even people who deny that it is possible.  But how does a Gentile become a Jew? The Rabbinics would say convert to Rabbinic Judaism and sadly many Messianic Jews of a Jewish background would agree with them.  But is this what the Scriptures say?

Ephesians2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Mashiakh, being aliens from the commonwealth of Yisrael, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without Elohim in the world: 13 But now in Yeshua HaMashiakh ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Mashiakh.

This Passage should make it clear to any Messianic that Gentiles become Jewish through belief in Yeshua. Notice that they were Gentiles in the past.  So if they are no longer Gentiles then they must be Jews.

Galatians3:29 And if you are Mashiakh’s, then you are Avraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.    

Need I say more?  You have Jews who were born Jewish and you have Jews who became Jewish.  So, Who is a Jew?  I am!  

"I consider as Jewish anyone who is meshuge(crazy) enough to call themselves 'Jewish.'"

David Ben Gurion

Monday, March 17, 2014

Easter vs Passover

We are coming in to that time of year when we start seeing Easter bunnies and colorful eggs in baskets, and I ask my self what does any of it have to do with the death, burial and resurrection of Yeshua?  The answer is nothing!  So how does YHWH want us to remember His sacrifice?  I will attempt to answer this question in this article.

First, why do we call it Easter?  In the King James Version the word is used one time.

Acts 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.

Sadly this is a miss translation.  The Greek word being translated Easter is Pascha, Strongs number G3956 which comes from the Hebrew Pesakh which is properly translated as Passover.  So the text should read when properly translated

Acts 12:4 And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep; intending after Passover to bring him forth to the people.

So the only place in all of Scripture that mentions Easter is a miss translation.  So if the term is not Biblical then where did it come from?  The Church scholar Bede (A.D. 673-735) had this to say

"Eosturmanath has a name which is now translated " Paschal month," and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month.Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance."
                       Bede: The Reckoning of Time, trans. Faith Wallis, vol. 29, Translated Texts for Historians(Liverpool: Liverpool Univ. Press, 1999) p. 54.

Here Bede is saying that some Christians started calling Pesakh/Pascha/Passover by the name Eostre a pagan goddess.  This is confirmed by Jacob Grimm

"The two goddesses, whom Bede (De temporum ratione cap. 13) cites very briefly, without any description, merely to explain the months named after them, are Hrede and Eastre, March taking its Saxon name from the first, and April from the second. It would be uncritical to saddle this father of the church, who everywhere keeps heathenism at a distance, and tells us less of it than he knows, with the invention of these goddesses.

We Germans to this day call April ostermonat, and ostarmanoth is found as early as Eginhart [c. 800] ([contemporary of Charlemagne]). The great christian festival, which usually falls in April or the end of March, bears in the plural, because two days (ostartaga, aostortaga, Diut. 1, 266) were kept at Easter. This Ostra, like the [Anglo Saxon] eastre, must in the heathen religion have denoted a higher being, whose worship was so firmly rooted, that the christian teachers tolerated the nam, and applied it to one of their own grandest anniversaries. all the nations bordering on us have retained the Biblical "pascha;" even Ulphilas writes paska, not austro, though he must have known the world; the Norsetongue also has imported its paskir, Swed[ish] pask, Dan[ish] paaske. The [Old High German] adv.ostar expresses movement toward the rising sun (Gramm. 3, 205), likewise the [Old Norse]austr, and probably an [Anglo Saxon] eastor and Goth[ic] austr.
                                                        Jacob Grimm, Teutonic Mythology, vol. 1, 4th ed., trans. James Steven Stallybrass (George Bell and Sons, 1882), pp. 289-291.

So it was the German Christians that first started calling Pesakh/Pascha/Passover by the name of Eostre/Ostra/Eastre but all the nations around Germany continued with the Biblical tradition of calling it Pesakh/Pascha/Passover.

"originally a Saxon word (Eostre), denoting a goddess of the Saxons, in honour of whom sacrifices were offered about the time of the Passover. Hence the name came to be given to the festival ot the Resurrection of Christ, which occured at the time of the Passover. In the early English versions this word was frequently used as the translation of the Greek pascha (the Passover). When the Authorized Version (1611) was formed, the word "passover" was used in all passages in which this word pascha occurred, except  in Acts 12:4, In the Revised Version the proper word, "passover," is always used."
                                  Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary under Easter 

There you have it, Easter is the name of a pagan goddess that German and then English speaking Christians used to replace the Biblical term of Pesakh/Pascha/Passover.  This is horrible for two reasons.  One, it is mixing pagan practices with the worship of YHWH. Just like Yisrael did with the golden calf.  And two, it has caused people to think that the Scriptural feast of Passover has been done away with and replaced by Easter.  When in reality before the Christianization of the Germanic tribes, all Christians celebrated and called it Pesakh/Pascha/Passover.  That is why I call it Pesakh(Hebrew), Pascha(Greek) or Passover.  This can be confusing to some people because when they read the Early Church Fathers writings (most of which wrote in Greek and Latin) Pascha gets translated as Easter in English versions instead of the more correct Passover Just like in Acts 12:4.  So remember whenever you see "Easter" in the Early Church writings it is in reality Pascha/Passover.

Now there were arguments as to when to celebrate Pesakh but everyone believed that it should be kept. Even today the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches disagree on when to keep Pascha.  Also, many people today will be surprised to find out that in the first century Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Samaritans could not agree on when to keep Pesakh.  Even today the Rabbinic and Karaite Jews do not agree on when to keep Pesakh!  I do not want to get into all of the different arguments on when to celebrate Pesakh, which would take quite some time.  Maybe in another article.  However, I do recommend that everyone read all the arguments and study for themselves when to celebrate Pesakh.  I do want to compare the overall Jewish approach for determining the Pesakh to the overall Christian approach for determining the Pesakh. But first lets see what the Scriptures say about when to celebrate Pesakh.

Vayikrah(Leviticus)23:5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Pesakh of YHWH.

It is clear that this passage says that the Pesakh is on the 14th day of the 1st Hebrew month of the year. What is not so clear is which month is the 1st month and which day is the 14th day of that month.  This is why there were and still are disagreements among the Jewish sects.  You see a lot of the Jewish sects had their own distinct calendars.  Most were luni-solar in nature with the exception of the Essenes which used a completely solar calendar, but all disagreed in some way or another.  However, they all believed that they were keeping Pesakh on the 14th day of the 1st month of the Biblical calendar.  Sadly the Christian approach has been to ignore this verse completely.  Why do they ignore it?  Let's find out with this quote from Emperor Constantine:

When the question relative to the sacred festival of Easter arose, it was universally thought that it would be convenient that all should keep the feast on one day; for that could be more beautiful and more desirable, and more desirable, than to see this festival, through which we receive the hope of immortality, celebrated by all with one accord, and in the same manner? It was declared to be particularly unworthy for this, the holiest of all festivals, to follow the custom [the calculation] of the Jews, who had soiled their hands with the most fearful of crimes, and whose minds were blinded....We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews, for the Saviour has shown us another way....As, on the one hand, it is our duty not to have anything in common with the murderers of our Lord.
                                               "On the Keeping of Easter," in Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, 2nd series, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), pp. 54.

Remember, whenever you see the word "Easter" in the above quote it is in reality the word "Pascha", it has just been miss translated as "Easter".  There it is, the reason why Christians today do not keep Pesakh on the 14th day of the 1st month of the Biblical calendar is because of antisemitism.  They were not going to do it that way because that was the way the Jews did it.  Apparently they believed that Yeshua being raised from the dead on a Sunday not only changed the Shabbat from Saturday to Sunday but that it also changed Pascha from 14th day of the 1st month of the Biblical calendar to the first Sunday after the full moon on or after the vernal equinox.  Of course there is nowhere in the Scriptures that says the day of Pesakh was changed. In fact Yekhezkel(Ezekiel) tells us when we will be keeping Pesakh during the thousand year reign of Yeshua.

Yekhezkel(Ezekiel)45:21 In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the Pesakh, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.

So the obvious question is, why would we keep Pascha on the 14th day of the 1st month during the thousand year reign of Yeshua, if it was changed to some other day by His death?  I believe the answer is that Pesakh was not changed by His death at all.  This would mean that all the people that celebrate Pascha according to the Roman Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox Churches calendars are keeping Pascha on the wrong days.  Believe it or not but there was a group of early believers in Yeshua who agree with me.  They were called Quartodecimans.  It means fourteener.  Meaning that they followed the Biblical practice of keeping the Pascha on the 14th day of the 1st month of the Biblical calendar.  And these were not nobodies either.  As this quote from Bishop Polycrates shows.

“We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the Passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘We ought to obey God rather than man.’”. He then writes of all the bishops who were present with him and thought as he did. His words are as follows: “I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Master Yeshua.” Eusebius of Caesarea Historia Ecclesiastica, 3. 24 

There you have it!  I'm going to do my best to do what these men of Faith did and keep Pascha on the 14th day of the 1st month of the Biblical calendar.  Instead of keeping Pascha on a different day just so I can be different from the Jews.  What a Pathetic reason for discarding the Biblical date of Pascha!  I encourage everyone reading this to study the Quartodeciman controversy and try to determine for themselves when they should celebrate Pascha instead of just doing what everyone else does.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Who is the Reason for the Season?

We are coming into that time of year where we start seeing manger scenes with the Baby Jesus surrounded by shepherds, angels and three wise men.  But was Yeshua really born on December 25th?  And does it even matter if He was or not?  Why do people celebrate His birth on that date anyway?  And should we be celebrating His Birthday at all?  I will give my opinion on these issues in this article.

First,  when was Yeshua Born?  Short answer... Nobody knows for sure.  According to Clement of Alexandria

“There are those who have determined not only the year of our Lord’s birth, but also the day; and they say that it took place in the 28th year of Augustus, and in the 25th day of [the Egyptian month] Pachon [May 20] … And treating of His Passion, with very great accuracy, some say that it took place in the 16th year of Tiberius, on the 25th of Phamenoth [March 21]; and others on the 25th of Pharmuthi [April 21] and others say that on the 19th of Pharmuthi [April 15] the Savior suffered. Further, others say that He was born on the 24th or 25th of Pharmuthi [April 20 or 21].”
                                                                                                                       Stromateis 1.21.145

December 25th is not even in the running according to Clement.  According to Clement Yeshua was born on May 20th, April 20th or 21st.  But December 25th does have a defender in Augustine of Hippo who says

“For He [Yeshua] is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also He suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which He was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which He was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before Him nor since. But He was born, according to tradition, upon December the 25th.”

                                                                                                                      On The Trinity, Sermon 202

Here we see Augustine arguing that Yeshua was conceived the same day He died which if true would place his birth some time around December 25th.  But neither Clement or Augustine have Scriptural support for there positions.  Just tradition.  So what does Scripture have to say about when Yeshua was born? 

Luke1:5 There was in the days of Herod, the king of Yehudah, a certain priest named Zekharyah, of the course of Aviyah: and his wife was of the daughters of Aharon, and her name was Elisheva.

Here we see that Zekharyah is of the Priestly course of Aviyah.  This is important to note.

Luke1:8 And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest's office before Elohim in the order of his course,

It is vital to determine when Zekharyah's course served in the Temple in order to see what time of the year Yeshua was born!  

1Chronicles24:3 And David distributed them, both Tsadok of the sons of El'azar, and Achimelekh of the sons of Itamar, according to their offices in their service. 

1Chronicles24:10 The seventh to Hakkots, the eighth to Aviyah,

Here we see that David set up the Priestly courses and that the course of Aviyah was the eighth course.  Josephus describes how this worked:

He divided them also into courses: and when he had separated the priests from them, he found of these priests twenty-four courses, sixteen of the house of El'azar, and eight of that of Itamar; and he ordained that one course should minister to Elohim eight days, from Shabbat to Shabbat. And thus were the courses distributed by lot, in the presence of David, and Tsadok and Aviatar the high priests, and of all the rulers; and that course which came up first was written down as the first, and accordingly the second, and so on to the twenty-fourth; and this partition hath remained to this day.

                                                                                                  Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 7.14.7

Here we see that each course served from Shabbat to Shabbat.  This implies that every Shabbat two courses would serve, one ending its service and one beginning its service.  Also this is a witness that this is the system in use during Zekharyah's day.  Also this would mean that each course would have to serve twice a year.  Making it 48 weeks of service in a year for 24 courses.  Also according to the Talmud Sukkah 55b all the courses would serve for the three weeks during the pilgrimage Feasts of Pesakh(Passover), Shavuot(Pentacost) and Sukkot(Tabernacles).  Which brings us to the 51 weeks of the Hebrew year.  So when did the course of Aviyah serve?  It served five weeks a year, one week for Pesakh, one week for Shavuot, one week for Sukkot, one week in the first half of the year and one week in the last half of the year.  So which of these weeks did Zekharyah receive the word about his son?  Based on Luke 1:8 I think we can safely eliminate the three Feast weeks being how it says that he was specifically acting according to the order of his course.  This means that he spoke to Gavriel(Gabriel) during either his first regular course or second regular course of the year.  Because we know that the course of Aviyah was the eighth course of Priests, we know that its first week of service would have been the 10th week of the Hebrew year around the 12th to 18th of the third month of the Hebrew calendar(May-June). Its second week of service would have been the 35th week of the year around the 10th to 16th of the ninth month of the Hebrew calendar(November-December).

Luke1:23 And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.24 And after those days his wife Elisheva conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,

This implies that Yokhanan was conceived shortly after his fathers week of service.  "After those days" can only be referring to Zekharyah's ministration as Priest.  And that it was a short amount of time between his service and Yokhanan's conception.  So if we use Zekharyah's first week of service sometime in May-June then it would be safe to say that Yokhanan was conceived sometime in June-July.  Making his birth nine months later, in March-April.  Or if we use the second week of service in November-December then it would be safe to say that Yokhanan was conceived sometime in December-January.  Making his birth sometime in September-October.  That's great some of you are saying,  but just because you can prove that Yokhanan was born either in the spring or fall does not prove what time of year Yeshua was born.  Oh, but it does.  

Luke1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisheva, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

So Yokhanan was six months older than Yeshua!  That means that if one is born in the spring the other was born in the fall and vice versus!  But how can we determine which service week of Aviyah was Yokhanan conceived after?  The 10th week or the 35th week?  There is a Scripture that I believe answers that question.

Haggai2:18 Consider now from this day and upward, from the four and twentieth day of the ninth month, even from the day that the foundation of the temple of YHWH was laid, consider it.

I believe this verse to be a Messianic prophecy.  Yes it probably is speaking of the literal foundation of the Temple but I also think that it Speaks of Yeshua the Foundation of the Temple, the Chief Cornerstone as well.  If I am correct in this thinking then what this passage is saying is that Yeshua was conceived the day before Hanukkah sometime in December.  This would put His birth nine months later sometime in September!  This is in agreement with the first service week of Aviyah.  Of course it is impossible to come to an exact Roman calendar day of His birth.  But I think that there are two front runners for an exact date in the Hebrew calendar.  They are the Feast of Yom Teruah(Day of Trumpets) on the first day of the seventh month.  And Sukkot on the 15th day of the seventh month.  Why those days?  First because they are the right time of year being fall feasts.  And also because of something Shaul(Paul) said.

Col 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in food, or in drink, or in respect of a Feast, or of the New Moon, or of the Shabbat days:17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Mashiakh.

A lot of people use this verse to justify not keeping the Feasts of YHWH.  I completely disagree with
that interpretation.  But I'm not wanting to focus on that part of the verse, maybe in another article.  What I want to point out is that Shaul says that the Feasts, New Moons and Shabbats are Shadows of  things to come.  What things to come?  Pesakh was a shadow of His death.  So it makes sense that His birth would be shadowed by a Feast as well.  And being how it looks like He was born in the fall then it makes sense that He was born on a fall Feast.  There are many arguments for both Yom Teruah and Sukkot.  I am not convinced either way.  But I really do believe that Yeshua was born on one or the other.  That is my understanding of Scripture and what I believe it says about the birth of Yeshua.  So, was Yeshua born on December 25th?  No, I don't believe so.  He was born sometime in the fall according to my understanding of Scripture.  Does it matter?  No, because I don't think we should be celebrating His birthday anyway.  More on that later.   

So why do people celebrate His birth on December 25th?  According to Christianity Today

"The eventual choice of December 25, made perhaps as early as 273, reflects a convergence of Origen's concern about pagan gods and the church's identification of God's son with the celestial sun. December 25 already hosted two other related festivals: natalis solis invicti (the Roman "birth of the unconquered sun"), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian "Sun of Righteousness" whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers. The winter solstice, another celebration of the sun, fell just a few days earlier. Seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the true deity, church leaders decided to commandeer the date and introduce a new festival."

According to the above quote December 25th was a pagan holiday honoring the births of the Roman and Persian sun gods.  Which was commandeered by the Church in 273 A.D.                                                                                                                               
"The precise origin of assigning December 25 as the birth date of Jesus is unclear. The New Testament provides no clues in this regard. December 25 was first identified as the date of Jesus’ birth by Sextus Julius Africanus in 221 and later became the universally accepted date. One widespread explanation of the origin of this date is that December 25 was the Christianizing of the dies solis invicti nati (“day of the birth of the unconquered sun”), a popular holiday in the Roman Empire that celebrated the winter solstice as a symbol of the resurgence of the sun, the casting away of winter and the heralding of the rebirth of spring and summer. Indeed, after December 25 had become widely accepted as the date of Jesus’ birth, Christian writers frequently made the connection between the rebirth of the sun and the birth of the Son."  

                                                                                       Encyclopedia Britannica, Article on Christmas 

Here we see that the first time December 25th is identified as Yeshua's birthday is by Sextus Julius Africanus in 221.  And again the widespread explanation for choosing that date is the "Christianizing" of a pagan holiday celebrating the birthday of the sun god!  Now some people argue that the Church of the third and fourth centuries would never willingly adopt a pagan festival as the birth of Yeshua.  They say that the Church always tried to distance itself from paganism.  But the very fact that they are celebrating His birth at all is proof that they were already adopting pagan practices.

"The actual observance of the day of Jesus’ birth was long in coming. In particular, during the first two centuries of Christianity there was strong opposition to recognizing birthdays of martyrs or, for that matter, of Jesus. Numerous Church Fathers offered sarcastic comments about the pagan custom of celebrating birthdays when, in fact, saints and martyrs should be honoured on the days of their martyrdom—their true “birthdays,” from the church’s perspective."

                                                                                       Encyclopedia Britannica, Article on Christmas 

The Christians of the first and second centuries did not celebrate birthdays at all because it was a pagan custom!  And then the Christians of the third and fourth centuries start to adopt this pagan custom of celebrating birthdays and that is why it became important to them to celebrate Yeshua's birthday.  And people really try to argue that they would not have chosen a pagan gods birthday to celebrate Yeshua's birthday!  When celebrating His birthday at all was itself a pagan custom that the earlier Christians would not and did not participate in!  Elements of paganism were indeed being adopted by the Church of the third and fourth centuries.  Some argue that December 25th was chosen because (as Augustine of Hippo believed) Yeshua was conceived on March 25th which would put his birth on December 25th.  The problem is that even if one could prove Yeshua was conceived on that date (which one can't) one can't prove that Yeshua was born exactly nine months later to the day.  Also according to Clement the older tradition was that Yeshua was not conceived in the spring but born in the spring (which according to my understanding of the Gospel of Luke is very possible) which would imply that the newer tradition of Augustine was a tweaking of the older tradition of Clement to bring it into agreement with the December 25th birth date.  So why do people celebrate His birth on December 25th?  It is my understanding of early Church history that that date was chosen in an attempt to Christianize a pagan holiday.  This was probably to make it easier for pagans to convert.  Much like some Christians today are starting to teach that Homosexuality is no longer a sin in order to make it easier for homosexuals to convert.  Sadly Church history is full of compromises  like this in order to make it easier for the unbeliever to convert.

Should we be celebrating Yeshua's birthday?  As you can tell by what I've written earlier in this article that I think that we should not.  Why did the early Christians not celebrate birthdays even Yeshua's?  First, birthdays were not celebrated by Jewish people in the first century.

Nay, indeed, the law does not permit us to make festivals at the birth of our children, and thereby afford occasion of drinking to excess 
                                                                                                                  Josephus, Against Apion, 2.25

For as long as men and women have been being born, they've had birthdays. Birthday parties are not that ancient, but they do go back at least 3,500 years (the book of Genesis mentions a banquet in honor of a Pharaoh's birthday back in 1534 bce). The interesting thing about birthday celebrations is that, for much of our history, they were not a very "Jewish" custom.
This is not to say that there are no sources in Torah for the concept of a birthday. The Talmud speaks of the specialness of a person's date of birth as a time of empowerment and opportunity for him or her. One of the most important days of the Jewish year is Rosh Hashanah, Adam's--and mankind's--birthday. But as a rule, Jews did not celebrate their birthdays. Indeed, while the dates of passing (yahrtzeit) of the great figures of Jewish history are recorded and commemorated, their dates of birth are mostly unknown.

(Your Jewish Birthday. Chabad-Lubavitch Media Center.

So according to the above quotes it was not a Jewish practice to celebrate their birthdays.  Josephus goes so far as to say it was against the Torah to celebrate the birth of even ones own children.  But is that true?  To answer that question we need to determine the origins of birthdays.

“Birthdays are intimately linked with the stars, since without the calendar, no one could tell when to celebrate his birthday. They are also indebted to the stars in another way, for in early days the chief importance of birthday records was to enable the astrologers to chart horoscopes”

                     Linton, Ralph and Adelin Linton. 1952. The Lore of Birthdays. New York: Schuman P. 53

So the important reason for birthdays in the early days was for astrological purposes.  We are commanded

Devarim(Deuteronomy)18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto YHWH: and because of these abominations YHWH thy Elohim doth drive them out from before thee.

This is a very clear verse basically telling us not to get involved in any kind of witchcraft.  So if birthdays were originally observed by pagans chiefly for astrological purposes but Israelites did not observe them at all then why do we?  Is it just a coincidence that nearly every pagan culture in the world from the Egyptians to the Persians to the Greeks and Romans celebrated the birthdays of their gods and kings yet the Jews did not!  We are commanded

Devarim(Deuteronomy)12:30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their elohim, saying, How did these nations serve their elohim? even so will I do likewise.31 Thou shalt not do so unto YHWH thy Elohim: for every abomination to YHWH, which he hateth, have they done unto their elohim; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their elohim.32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

This verse is very clear that we should not worship our Elohim the way the pagans worship theirs.  So if pagans worship their elohim by celebrating the birthdays of their elohim then why do Christians celebrate Yeshua's birthday at all?  They previously did not.

...of all the holy people in the Scriptures, no one is recorded to have kept a feast or held a great banquet on his birthday. It is only sinners who make great rejoicings over the day on which they were born into this world below 
                                                                                                                      Origen, in Levit., Hom. VIII

Here we have an early Gentile Christian condemning birthday celebrations as something only sinners (Pharaoh and Herod) would do!    YHWH is very good at giving us dates for feasts and celebrations.  See Leviticus 23.  The Scriptures are full of dates and times.  So why did he not do the same for Yeshua's or anyone's birthday?  As far as I know there are no recorded birthday dates in all of Scripture.  We are not told the birthday dates of any man of faith in Scripture from Adam to Yeshua!  Why?  He could have easily given us the info we needed but He chose not to.  Could it be that He does not want us celebrating their birthdays?  I think so.  Now some will argue that YHWH never specifically said not to celebrate birthdays so it has to be ok.  But remember nowhere did He specifically say not to practice polygamy, concubines, slavery, drugs, pedophilia, rape of an unmarried woman, or consensual sex before marriage.  These things are all implied to be wrong, or not the best by certain Scriptures and overall themes but never specifically condemned.  So be careful when you say its ok because YHWH never specifically said don't do that.  I agree with the older Jewish and Christian understanding of Scripture, that birthday celebrations were pagan practices steeped in witchcraft and worship of false elohim that we should not observe.  Especially if we are celebrating the birth of our Elohim!  So should we celebrate Yeshua's birth at all?  I think not.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

YHWH the Messiah

There is an alarming trend in Christianity today.  Especially in our Messianic Jewish Congregations.  I'm speaking of the trend of denying the Divinity of Yeshua.  I thought I'd address some of the Scriptures that I believe show that Yeshua is YHWH, for those of you who are interested.  First, what did Yeshua himself say?

Yochanan(John)8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I AM, ye shall die in your sins.

And again in

Yochanan(John)8:56 Your father Avraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Avraham?
58 Yeshua said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Avraham was, I AM.
59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Yeshua hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

In these passages we have Yeshua claiming to be the I AM.  That is He claimed to be YHWH who spoke to Moshe(Moses) in the burning bush.  The people even tried to stone Him for it.  Some people try to say that Yeshua was not claiming to be YHWH, but that He was just saying that He came in the name of YHWH, like Moshe.  The obvious problem with this theory is that Yeshua did not say "if you believe not that I come in the name of I AM,  ye shall die in your sins."  He said "for if ye believe not that I Am, ye shall die in your sins."  It is very clear that Yeshua is claiming to be I AM not just sent by Him.  There are many passages in the Brit Chadasha(New Testament) that make this truth obvious.  Sadly many people that deny that Yeshua is YHWH claim that these passages were added to the Scriptures later by the Catholic Church.  So let us focus on some Tanakh passages that also proclaim that YHWH himself would be the Messiah.

Tehillim(Psalm)93:2 Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.

Here we have the Psalmist describing YHWH as "from everlasting."

Micah5:2 But thou, Beth-lechem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Yehudah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. 

And here we have Micah describing Yeshua as "from everlasting."  Coincidence?  I think not!

Zacharyahu(Zechariah)12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Yerushalaim, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.  

Here we have YHWH Himself saying that He would be pierced!  Yet this is a prominent messianic verse that is excepted as describing Yeshua.  Maybe, just maybe YHWH is Yeshua!?  Take a look at this next verse.

Yerimiyahu(Jerimiah)23:5 Behold, the days come, saith YHWH, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, YHWH Our Righteousness.

Here we have The Branch of David A.K.A. the Messiah being named,  and His name is YHWH tsedekenu!  Yeshua is our righteousness, and He is YHWH!  These are just some of the proof texts.  There are many more especially in the Brit Chadasha.  To the people that deny Yeshua is YHWH I say how convenient for you that all the Scriptures in the NT that say Yeshua is YHWH were added by the Catholics.  What are you going to do?  Throw these verses out also?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kosher Chicken?

Most people today just assume that chicken is a clean bird.  But it was not always this way.  The issue used to be hotly debated between Rabbinics and Karaites.  We will look at some of the positions on this issue and try to see if any of them are true.  But let us look at what Torah says about it first.

Vayikra(Leviticus)11:13 And these are they which ye shall have in abomination among the fowls; they shall not be eaten, they are an abomination: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
14 And the vulture, and the kite after his kind;
15 Every raven after his kind;
16 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
17 And the little owl, and the cormorant, and the great owl,
18 And the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle,
19 And the stork, the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.

And again in Devarim

Devarim(Deuteronomy11 Of all clean birds ye shall eat.
12 But these are they of which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the ospray,
13 And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind,
14 And every raven after his kind,
15 And the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind,
16 The little owl, and the great owl, and the swan,
17 And the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant,
18 And the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat.
19 And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten.
20 But of all clean fowls ye may eat.

What some people say is "It seems pretty clear to me.  Chicken is not on the list of unclean birds so it must be clean."  The problem with this position is that because Hebrew was a dead language for so long nobody really knows what birds are listed in the Hebrew text.  These English translations are just guessing as to what birds are listed.  

"Many of the animals on the lists of Lev. 11 are familiar, but it must be stressed that, as with plant and place-names in the Bible, a number of the precise identifications have been lost to us, and educated guesses are in order."  The Schocken Bilbe Volume 1 The Five Books Of Moses page 558

The Stone Edition Tanakh did not even try to translate the names of the birds in these passages, instead choosing to transliterate them and provide some suggestions for the identities of the birds in the footnotes.  Some will also say "because all the birds listed are birds of prey and scavengers this must be what makes a bird unclean."  Again this position has the same problem as the last one.  How can we know that all the birds listed are birds of prey or scavengers when we do not even know what birds they are?  We simply can't know that.  And even if this position was true, it would not help the "chicken is kosher" crowd.  After all chickens are scavengers.  A chicken will gladly eat another dead chicken or any other carcass for that matter.  Also, we should not assume that chicken was not mentioned in the lists of unclean birds. According to a Rabbi Avraham Feld, Anan Ben David one of the founders of Karaism, and his followers believed that chicken was indeed listed as one of the unclean birds in Leviticus.

"Anan and company wrongly translated a term in Leviticus 11:19 as 'chicken' and thereby listed it with impure, non –kosher birds." Karaites-Adversaries of the Redemption, Origin of the Karaites and their Teachings by Avraham Feld

Feld is obviously against the Karaites in almost every way.  And he considers this early Karaite belief to be one of their more offbeat positions.  But is it offbeat?  Sadly he never says why it is wrong, I guess he just wants the reader to trust him and blindly except his authority as a Rabbi.  It is interesting though, that according to Strongs one of the birds listed in Lev 11:19 could be translated as "gallus montanus" in  English a mountain cock.  Our modern chicken is scientificaly called "gallus gallus domesticus" or domestic cock.  So maybe Anan Ben David and the early Karaites were not as far off as Feld would have us believe.  

As for the Rabbinic position, Daniel Frank on page 124 of the book "Jewish Biblical Interpretation and Cultural Exchange: Comparitive Exegesis in Context" says;

"Rabbanite Jews... have always declared the chicken to be a "kosher" bird, even though there are no Scriptural grounds for doing so."

Frank is correct that the Rabbis have pretty much always said that chicken is clean, but he admits that there is no Biblical proof that it is kosher.  Also, according to the Jewish under clean and unclean animals

"It was hard for the rabbinical authorities to distinguish clean from unclean birds, as the Scripture (Lev. xi. 13-19) enumerates only the birds which shall not be eaten, without giving any of the marks which distinguish them from the clean birds. This is all the more important as the names of some of the birds mentioned in the Scriptures are followed by the word "lemino" or "leminehu"—i.e., "after its kind"—and it is therefore necessary to recognize certain fixed distinguishing characteristics. The following rules are fixed by the Talmud, by which a clean bird may be distinguished. It must not be a bird of prey; it must have a front toe, if that be the meaning of ; but according to most explanations the hind toe is meant. Although most birds of prey have the hind toe, the toes of the clean bird are so divided that the three front toes are on one side and the hind toes on the other, while the unclean bird spreads his toes so that two toes are on each side; or if it has five toes, three will be on one side and two on the other (compare Rashi to Ḥul. 59a, and Nissim b. Reuben on the Mishnah to this passage).
The clean birds, furthermore, have craws, and their stomachs have a double skin which can easily be separated. They catch food thrown into the air, but will lay it upon the ground and tear it with their bills before eating it. If a morsel be thrown to an unclean bird it will catch it in the air and swallow it, or it will hold it on the ground with one foot, while tearing off pieces with its bill (Ḥul. 59a, 61a, 63a). As this distinction is not found in Scripture, opinions differed greatly during and since Talmudic times. According to the Talmud (Ḥul. 62a, 63b), only the twenty-four kinds of birds mentioned in Scripture are actually forbidden. If certain birds are positively known as not belonging to these, no further investigation as to characteristic signs is necessary, and they may be eaten. The marks of distinction are laid down only for cases in which there is doubt whether the species is clean or unclean. Authorities, especially in Germany, would only permit the eating of such kinds as have always been eaten (). Accordingly some birds are permitted to be eaten in certain countries, but not in others. There are many controversies in the casuistic literature concerning this matter. Menahem Mendel Krochmal ("Ẓemaḥ Ẓedeḳ," No. 29), for instance, declares the wild goose forbidden, while Eybeschütz ("Kereti u-Peleti," § 82) permits it. When the turkey was brought to Europe Isaiah Horwitz forbade it to be eaten; and although his opinion did not prevail, his descendants refrain from eating it even to-day."

Here we see that the Rabbinic Jews don't know much about what birds are clean and unclean. And the signs that they would look for to determine what birds were clean and unclean are not Scriptural but Talmudic.  This is an important point, Scripture does not give us any physical sign to help identify what birds are clean and what birds are unclean.  We just have a list of forbidden birds.  All clean land animals can be easily identified even if I've never seen said animal before.  It is just a matter of observing the animal's hooves and whether it chews it's cud.  Not so with birds,  we have to know if a bird is on the list of unclean birds in the Torah or not.  We also see that the Rabbis can not even agree with themselves as to what birds are listed.

All of this to say when in doubt don't.  If we can not know if a bird like chicken is unclean or not, do we eat it hoping we are not sinning?  I think not.  We should avoid it until we know that it is clean.  But, let every man be convinced in his own mind.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Paul said what?!

To keep or not to keep the Torah?  That is the question.  Most of Christianity today says that the Torah was nailed to the cross.  And some go so far as to say if someone was to keep the Torah (for any reason) that they would be trampling on the blood of Yeshua.  Most of this comes from misunderstanding the letters of Shaul(Paul).  How do I know that the teaching that Shaul said that Believers should not keep the Torah is false?  Easy.  Kepha(Peter) told me.

2Kepha(Peter)3:15 And count the patience of our Master as salvation, just as our beloved brother Shaul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Master and Savior Yeshua HaMashiach. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

The first thing we see in this passage is that our salvation only comes from the patience of Yeshua.  Obviously Kepha is talking about His death on the cross.  Second,  we notice that this is what Shaul was teaching in his letters.  The third thing we see is that there are some things in Shaul's letters that are hard to understand,  which ignorant and unstable people twist to their own destruction,  as they do the other Scriptures.  And finally we see that Kepha warns us how these ignorant people,  are twisting Shaul's writings.  He simply calls them lawless.  Here we have Kepha himself telling us not to listen to people that teach that Shaul taught not to keep the Torah!  Those of you that have discussed this issue with others know that if one can't use Shaul's letters it becomes extremely difficult to defend not keeping the Torah.  Kepha makes it clear that whatever you get out of Shaul's letters you can't get that you do not have to keep the Torah without being ignorant and/or unstable.  Sadly most of Christianity just ignores Kepha's warning,  marching on blindly with Shaul remade into their own image of lawlessness.  There is a saying.  Talk is cheap.  Apparently the Believers in Jerusalem had a similar saying because when they heard rumors spread about Shaul teaching not to keep the Torah they confronted him about it.  And made him put his true belief and teachings into action.

Acts21:18 And the day following Shaul went in with us unto Yaakov; and all the elders were present.
19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things Elohim had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry.
20 And when they heard it, they glorified YHWH, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the Torah:
21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moshe, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.
22 What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come.
23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them;
24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the Torah.
25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.
26 Then Shaul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.

Here we see that there were thousands of Jewish believers in Yeshua, and that they ALL were zealous for the Torah.  We also see that there were rumors about Shaul.  Specifically that he was teaching the Jews in the diaspora not to circumcise their sons,  nor to keep the Torah.  Sounds like what most of Christianity teaches today.  Lastly we see that these rumors are false and that Shaul himself keeps the Torah!  He proves his devotion to the Torah by going to the temple and fulfilling a strictly ceremonial aspect of the Torah!  Showing that not just the moral but ceremonial aspects of Torah still apply after the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Yeshua! And the pouring out of the Ruach HaQodesh!  Now some people admit that this passage proves that the Torah still applies to Believers with Israelite ancestry,  but (because of verse twenty five) they insist that Gentile Believers are different and only those four commands of Torah would apply to them.  By the way three of the four commands are dietary in nature clearly putting them in the ceremonial part of Torah.  If it is true that only these four apply to Gentile Believers,  what about the greatest and second greatest commandments?  Do they not apply to Gentile Believers?  What about murder,  or lying,  or stealing?  If this passage is to be interpreted to mean that only those four commands apply to Gentile Believers what of the ten commandments?  Do they not apply to Gentile Believers?  I know that some do in fact argue that the Shabbat does not apply to Gentile Believers.  Have they never read these passages of Scripture?

Shemot(Exodus)20:10 But the seventh day is the Shabbat of YHWH thy Elohim: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

It's safe to say if a Gentile that is in Yisrael's gates has to keep Shabbat, then a Gentile that has been grafted into the commonwealth of Yisrael itself would have to keep it too.

Yeshayahu(Isaiah)66:23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Shabbat to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith YHWH.

Notice ALL FLESH shall keep the Shabbat in the thousand year reign of Yeshua.  This is a prophecy of the thousand year reign by the way.  Read the context.

Yeshayahu(Isaiah)56:2 Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Shabbat from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.
Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to YHWH, speak, saying, YHWH hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.

Yeshayahu56:6 Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to YHWH, to serve him, and to love the name of YHWH, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the Shabbat from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant;
Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

In verse two the phrase "son of man" in Hebrew is "ben adam" which means son of Adam.  So in this verse it says that if a son of Adam keeps the Shabbat he will be blessed.  And look at verse three!  People that say they don't have to keep Shabbat because they as Gentile Believers are "separate" from Yisrael are saying exactly what YHWH told them not to say!  Finally we see in verses six and seven that Gentiles that join themselves to YHWH,  and serve Him,  and love His name,  and take hold of His Covenant,  keep the Shabbat.  And we see what blessings they receive.  Pretty good if you ask me.  So if Shaul really taught that Gentiles don't have to keep Shabbat he disagreed with Moshe, Yeshayahu and even YHWH Himself.  I don't think there is anyway that Shaul would disagree with YHWH or any of His prophets.  So I have only two choices.

1)  Shaul was just painfully ignorant of the Hebrew Scriptures.
2)  He did not teach what most of Christianity says he did, regarding Shabbat.

I'm firmly in the second camp.  But getting back to Acts.  It is obvious that there are more commands of Torah that apply to Gentile Believers than just the four mentioned in Acts 21:25.  But which ones?  Again moral vs ceremonial does not work because as I said before three of the four commands from verse twenty five are ceremonial in nature.  Acts 21:25 is talking about a decision made earlier in Acts 15.  Lets look at this passage to see what we can find out.

Acts15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moshe, ye cannot be saved.
When therefore Shaul and Barnaba had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Shaul and Barnaba, and certain other of them, should go up to Yerushalaim unto the apostles and elders about this question.
And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren.
And when they were come to Yerusalaim, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that Elohim had done with them.
But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Torah of Moshe.
And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
And when there had been much disputing, Kepha rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago Elohim made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
And Elohim, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Ruach HaQodesh, even as he did unto us;
And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10 Now therefore why tempt ye Elohim, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Master Yeshua HaMashiach we shall be saved, even as they.
12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnaba and Shaul, declaring what miracles and wonders Elohim had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
13 And after they had held their peace, Yaakov answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14 Shimon hath declared how Elohim at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17 That the residue of men might seek after YHWH, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith YHWH, who doeth all these things.
18 Known unto Elohim are all his works from the beginning of the world.
19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to Elohim:
20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
21 For Moshe of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Shaul and Barnaba; namely, Yehuda surnamed Barsaba and Sila, chief men among the brethren:
23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.
24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the Torah: to whom we gave no such commandment:
25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnaba and Shaul,
26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Master Yeshua HaMashiach.
27 We have sent therefore Yehuda and Sila, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
28 For it seemed good to the Ruach HaQodesh, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.

The first thing we notice is that there were people teaching that the Gentiles had to be circumcised and keep the Torah of Moshe to be saved.  Shaul and Barnaba strongly disagreed with this teaching.  As do I.  So it was decided that They would go to the Apostles and Elders in Yerushalaim for a ruling on the issue.  There Kepha makes the argument that the only way both Jewish and Gentile hearts can be purified is through faith.  And that the only way to be saved is through the grace of the Master Yeshua HaMashiach!  Then Yaakov confirmed that Shimon Kepha was correct.  He then decided that the Gentiles coming to faith should keep these four commands.  But the verse that people tend to skip is verse twenty one.  "For Moshe of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every Shabbat day."  Why would Yaakov say that?  He was making the point that the Gentiles coming to faith and that are keeping these four commands will not stop there but will continue to grow and even go to synagogue on Shabbat and learn the rest of the Torah.  This was before Believers in Yeshua were kicked out of the synagogues during the Bar Kokhba revolt.  The issue was never about if Gentile Believers should keep Torah or not.  The issue was do they need to keep the Torah to be saved.  The answer to that question is,  absolutely not!  Some will then ask about circumcision because it was talked about in this passage.  Should a Gentile Believer get circumcised not for salvation but simply out of obedience to YHWH, like Baptism?  I believe yes.  Here are some Scriptures why.

Bereshit(Genesis)17:10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.

The covenant is everlasting,  and if a Gentile bought with money should be circumcised how much more so an adopted son of Avraham bought with the very blood of Yeshua?

Galatians3:29 And if ye be Mashiach's, then you are Avraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Yehezkiel(Ezekiel)44:9 Thus saith the Adonai YHWH; No stranger, uncircumcised in heart, nor uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.

This is a prophecy about Yeshua's thousand year reign on Earth.  And it appears that He will be enforcing the Torah of circumcision on any Gentile that wishes to enter His Sanctuary.  So why would I not believe in circumcision for Gentiles?  In summary,  it is a fine line between teaching not to keep Torah period.  And teaching not to keep Torah for Salvation.  It is my belief that Shaul taught the latter,  not the former.