Feast of Tabernacles . . .
. . . nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith.
1 Timothy 1:4
For many, the "litmus test" for whether a teacher or ministry is worth listening to is what they believe about the nature of God and The Messiah. I tend to avoid this discussion because it appears that most people are satisfied with what they believe about this subject and are only concerned that you believe what they believe. Therefore, discussion of the topic, for the most part, only serves to separate people instead of bringing them together. This is sad. In light of the fact that most of us in the "Hebraic Movement" have come to see that the followers of Yeshua apparently had no problem attending the synagogue with the non-believers (and vice-versa) during the first and early second century CE, we, nearly 2000 years later, do have a problem with it.
Where do we find in scripture that God says we've got to have figured out the complexity of God? I can't think of a place. Instead, He says:
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 "And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, "and to keep the commandments of the LORD and His statutes which I command you today for your good?
Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
Ecclesiastes 12:12-14 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.
So for me, a person's belief about The Messiah is not nearly as important as his walk in Messiah. That's why at the Season of Our Joy festival we're not concerned that much about a person's belief about the nature of God and His Messiah. In fact, many (if not most) of the speakers have differing views about The Messiah. Some believe that He has always existed, some believe He was the first created being, some believe He first came on the scene at His physical birth, and of course, some believe He is part of a "triune" being. What matters to me is that they believe Yeshua is our Messiah, that He died for us, and that He taught us to follow in His footsteps of Torah observance, even to the point of being willing to die for it, and that He is coming again for His redeemed people.
Therefore, we do have a litmus test for our speakers. 1) They must believe Yeshua is The Messiah, and 2) they must believe we are subject to the Law of God (Torah) just as he was. For them to believe otherwise would only cause confusion and defeat our purpose for holding the festival.
But many ask "What do you (Tim and Angie Kelley) believe about the Messiah? I know there's a lot of rumors going around out there because of our association with Season of Our Joy and the various speakers. Some have said that we don't believe Yeshua is "divine" (a word, by the way, that is no where found in the Bible) and some have even said that we "don't believe Yeshua is The Messiah". All these people would have to do is get tapes of some of my teachings and they would see otherwise.
Because so many are concerned whether we believe Yeshua (Jesus) is "devine", it would probably be good for us to establish what the word actually means. There again, since the word is not found in the Bible, we must turn to secular sources. This is what Wikipedia has to say:
Divinity and divine (sometimes "the Divinity" or "the Divine") are broadly applied but loosely defined terms, used variously within different faiths and belief systems — and even by different individuals within a given faith — to refer to some transcendent or transcendental power or deity, or its attributes or manifestations in the world. The root of the words is literally "godlike" (from the Latin deus, cf. Dyaus, closely related to Greek zeus, div in Persian and deva in Sanskrit), but the use varies significantly depending on which god is being discussed. This article outlines the major distinctions in the conventional use of the terms.
From the Miriam-Webster Online Dictionary (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divine) we get:
- a : of, relating to, or proceeding directly from God or a god <divine love> b : being a deity <the divine Savior> c : directed to a deity <divine worship>
So, as we can see from these two examples, the definition is somewhat vague, but if we use the Latin root, we can loosely define the word to be "god like". With that in mind, here's what we believe about Yeshua and His relationship to The Father:
We base this last statement on the view that God's betrothed bride is Israel, and that just as we do today, a woman takes on the name of her husband. The following verses help establish this point -
Jeremiah 23:6 - In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Jeremiah 33:16 - In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Isaiah 62:1 - 5 For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, Until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, And her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, And all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, Which the mouth of the LORD will name. You shall also be a crown of glory In the hand of the LORD, And a royal diadem In the hand of your God. You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; But you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; For the LORD delights in you, And your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, So shall your sons marry you; And as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, So shall your God rejoice over you.
Ephesians 3:14-15 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named . . .
When you consider that Yeshua says that He "came from God" (John 8:42), that He and God are one (John 10:30), and that we believe He arose and not abides with God (Hebrews 1:3), you could say that He's pretty "god like" and thus fit's the description of being "devine".
From my perception, much of the confusion about the nature of God comes from a misunderstanding of the 'Shema' (Deut. 6:4) and the lack of understanding that the term 'god' is only a title and is not a name. Many are surprised to learn that the 'god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob' (the term by which the Judao-Christian god of the Bible often refers to Himself) has a name! My studies have shown that the Shema is not a statement about the nature or 'oneness' of god, but rather a statement that YHVH (the LORD) is Israel's only god - "Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." - Hear oh Israel to Yahweh echad - Yahweh alone!
Is it important that we have a good understanding of the relationship between The Father and His Son? Yes - and I don't mean to trivialize it. Everyone should study it for themselves and decide what they believe - and then believe it. But if you have studied it and you are convicted, then have faith that God has led you to your belief, and do not be fearful of someone with a different belief. When Messiah returns I'm sure He'll be straitening us all out, but until then, let's not let it become a stumblingblock.
Keep in mind that this is our understanding of the Messiah, and not necessarily the view of any of the participants in the Ami Yisrael Torah Study or the Season of Our Joy festival. I would be glad to answer any of your questions, just give me a call!
Shalom Alechiem -