Welcome to 2014 in Yeshua’s Name!
Every January we ask the Lord for His direction for the coming year. He made it clear to us that our emphasis for 2014 should be His Standard: The Word of God. A standard is a rallying point. It may be a flag or a banner that symbolizes a leader, people or a military unit. A standard is an accepted model or criterion set for usages or practices. When Neil was Rabbi at Temple Aron HaKodesh for five years, he began every sermon with the following proclamation: “All of our messages are based on the Bible, which is a true and accurate account of God and His interaction with mankind.” This standard is
still lifted up at every temple service.
A standard-bearer is a person assigned to carry the standard of a group, especially of a military organization. We, the Jewish Jewels family, are called to be standard-bearers in 2014. We are at war. Biblical standards are mocked in today’s post Judeo-Christian society. Standards found in Scripture are compromised, even by those who claim to be followers of the Messiah Yeshua. But God still has a faithful people—His warrior bride—who embrace the truth of Isaiah 59:19: “So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him.” The Hebrew word for standard in this verse is nos-sah נססה, a primary root associated with the Hebrew word “nes” (miracle), and one of the Lord’s names, Adonai Nissi, the LORD our victory banner.
The enemy is hasatan, the father of lies, the great deceiver, the one who fuels the fires of biblical standard erosion. Scripture tells us that God has not left us defenseless against the onslaught of the devil. God’s Ruach lifts up a standard against him. That standard is the Bible, God’s Word, our victory banner. The Ruach in you, in us, lifts up the standard, the Word of God as we battle against spiritual principalities. Just as Yeshua defeated the devil with the Word of God in His wilderness confrontation (see Matt. 4), we have the victory in our wilderness wanderings as we lift high the standard of our faith—God’s Word, both written and Living (Yeshua)! The crucial question each day of 2014 must be: “What does the Bible say about that?” This must be the standard for our conduct in every situation.
Bearing the Standard
We highly recommend Bearing the Standard a book by Messianic teacher Kevin Geoffrey of Perfect Word Ministries, offered this month. It is a book to read and pass on to other believers, so that the Body of Messiah will rise up in 2014 and bear the standard of Scripture. Kevin identifies three hostile influences that undermine the sufficiency and supremacy of God’s Word. The first is TRADITION. Even in Yeshua’s day, this was a problem. Traditions are man-made, and do not have the same authority as the Word of God. When certain Jewish religious leaders challenged the Messiah with, ” ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders?’…He answered, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?’ ” ([biblegateway passage=”Matt. 15:2-3″ display=”Matt. 15:2-3″]). Tradition must not assist revelation (Scripture), but revelation must be used as the test of tradition.
The second hostile influence that weakens our ability to bear the standard of Scripture is EXPEDIENCY: shortcutting Scripture for the sake of doing “good.” In other words, we pick the part of January 2014God’s Word that gratifies us, ignoring the part that troubles us. Like King Saul, who thought it would be good to spare the best animals and use them to make sacrifices to God, we justify our disobedience and say, “But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD…” ([biblegateway passage=”1 Sam. 15:20″ display=”1 Sam. 15:20″]). We do what we think pleases God at the expense of what the Scriptures tell us He wants.
The third hostile influence is the most obvious in today’s world: RATIONALISM—the supremacy of man’s reason. Man’s intellect becomes his god. Rationalism does not recognize Scripture as man’s ultimate authority. It labels Scripture as defective, archaic, narrow, and without divine inspiration. Rationalism denies the power of God. Man’s reasoning supersedes the wisdom of God. Even we, as believers in Yeshua, are not immune to its influence. The Scriptures are spiritual, but we are of the flesh ([biblegateway passage=”Rom. 7:14″ display=”Rom. 7:14″]). It is arrogant to think that God’s Word has to make sense to us in order for it to be true!
Kevin Geoffrey states the need of the hour for believers as follows: “If we truly hope to follow Yeshua, we must fully commit to bearing the standard of Scripture—and it begins with fixing our eyes on God’s Word as the only acceptable standard for establishing our values, determining our beliefs, and dictating the boundaries of our behavior.” We agree! We proclaim with him, “As for God, His way is perfect! The word of the LORD is proven” ([biblegateway passage=”Ps. 18:30″ display=”Ps. 18:30″]). God’s Word has standards for every aspect of daily living. We have chosen some of the most important aspects, with their biblical standard, asking the all important question: “What does God say about it?”
God’s Standard on Life
According to God’s Word, life is a gift from Him. “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” ([biblegateway passage=”Gen. 2:7″ display=”Gen. 2:7″]). Yes, we believe the Creation account. No, we do not believe in evolution. It is a “theory” based on “facts” which can not be scientifically proven. All life is sacred and valuable. It begins at conception. God knew each of us in our mother’s womb. We are fearfully and wonderfully made ([biblegateway passage=”Ps. 139:13-14″ display=”Ps. 139:13-14″]). Abortion is murder, since the “fetus” is a baby, a human being, not just a part of a mother’s body. God forgives women who have had abortions, and heals their broken hearts, but that does not make abortion right.
God wants us to choose life. “…therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” ([biblegateway passage=”Deut. 30:19″ display=”Deut. 30:19″]). Verse 20 continues with, “…He [God] is your life and the length of your days…” Yeshua reiterated the same truth, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” ([biblegateway passage=”Jn. 14:6″ display=”Jn. 14:6″]). Tradition may say, L’Chaim, enjoy life now since there’s nothing after this, but Scripture assures us of eternal life and a final judgement. Tradition may say that family is the most precious gift as we go through life, but
Scripture testifies that God is to be first in our hearts and lives ([biblegateway passage=”Deut. 30:6″ display=”Deut. 30:6″]).
God’s Standard on Marriage
Marriage is God’s idea. It began in the Garden of Eden where the LORD saw that it was not good for man to be alone. He needed a “helper, comparable to him” ([biblegateway passage=”Gen. 2:18″ display=”Gen. 2:18″]). God created woman from man, and planned that all future men would come from women. One man. One woman. One flesh. God’s way. Marriage is designed to be a permanent union. Yeshua the Messiah commented on this: “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” ([biblegateway passage=”Matt. 19:6″ display=”Matt. 19:6″]). God is involved in marriage, and the union is based on covenant (b’rit). ([biblegateway passage=”See Mal. 2:14″ display=”See Mal. 2:14″].) That’s why the phrases “holy matrimony” and “til death do us part” have been a part of marriage ceremonies throughout the years.
Marriage has become a social and legal institution more than a religious one. Even worse, evolving traditions have resulted in a complete redefinition of marriage. Men with men. Women with women. Neither God, nor His view of marriage, have changed. A godly marriage, in His eyes, is a picture of Yeshua and His bride ([biblegateway passage=”Eph 5:32″ display=”Eph 5:32″]). This is God’s perfect standard for marriage.
God’s Standard on Truth
When God revealed Himself to Moses, He proclaimed His nature, “…merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth” ([biblegateway passage=”Ex. 34:6″ display=”Ex. 34:6″]). Truth, then, is a part of God’s character. He abounds in truth (emet in Hebrew). There is truth, and there are lies. God’s enemy is the devil. Yeshua called him a liar, and the father of lies ([biblegateway passage=”Jn. 8:44″ display=”Jn. 8:44″]). Tradition has invented a new word for lying: “misspeak.” Politicians like to use it. It softens the truth that someone has lied. Truth is not relative, according to Scripture. Yeshua said that He came into the world to bear witness to the truth ([biblegateway passage=”Jn. 18:37″ display=”Jn. 18:37″]). When Pilate asked Him, “What is truth?”, Yeshua did not answer him. Pilate knew that TRUTH was standing before him, as he proclaimed to the Judeans, “I find no fault in Him…” (Jn 18:38). God’s Word is truth ([biblegateway passage=”Ps. 119:43, 160″ display=”Ps. 119:43, 160″]) ([biblegateway passage=”Jn. 17:17″ display=”Jn. 17:17″]). Yeshua, the Living Word is truth ([biblegateway passage=”Jn. 1:14″ display=”Jn. 1:14″]). We are called to serve God in truth ([biblegateway passage=”Jos 24:14, 1 Sam 12:24, Ps. 15:2″ display=”Jos 24:14, 1 Sam 12:24, Ps. 15:2″]). We are called to speak truth ([biblegateway passage=”Zech. 8:16; Eph. 4:15″ display=”Zech. 8:16; Eph. 4:15″]). We are called to worship in truth ([biblegateway passage=”Jn. 4:23-24″ display=”Jn. 4:23-24″]). A lying tongue is an abomination to God ([biblegateway passage=”Proverbs 6:17″ display=”Proverbs 6:17″]). God loves truth. Truth has the power to make us free ([biblegateway passage=”Jn. 8:32″ display=”Jn. 8:32″]).
God’s Standard on Money
God is not opposed to money, but He is opposed to greed and the love of money, which the Bible says is the root of all kinds of evil ([biblegateway passage=”1 Tim 6:10″ display=”1 Tim 6:10″]). We learn in Deut. 8:18 that God gives His people power to get wealth… “that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers…” Wealth for God’s purposes. Yes. When God gives a man or woman riches and wealth, it is a gift from Him, according to Ecc. 5:19. This gift must be used wisely. This means no usury or bribes ([biblegateway passage=”Ps. 15:5″ display=”Ps. 15:5″]), and honesty in all money matters. Yeshua’s problem with the money changers in the Temple had to do with their dishonesty in handling the money brought for Temple sacrifices ([biblegateway passage=”Matt. 21:12″ display=”Matt. 21:12″]).
All that we have comes from God—100% of our income. Every good gift comes from Him ([biblegateway passage=”James 1:17″ display=”James 1:17″]). If He asks for a tithe of it (Mal 3:10), He is not asking for much. We have tithed since 1973, and have seen the windows of heaven open because of our adherence to this biblical principle. (This is not coming “under the Law.” Tithing existed before the Law, and it is not bondage, but a privilege!)
Those who serve the Lord full time should not be motivated by money, but by love. God chastised the leaders of the house of Israel concerning this, “Her heads judge for a bribe. Her priests teach for pay, and her prophets divine for money. Yet they lean on the LORD, and say, ‘Is not the LORD among us?…’ ” ([biblegateway passage=”Micah 3:11″ display=”Micah 3:11″]). Yeshua said, “You cannot serve God and money([biblegatewaypassage=”Luke 16:13 NIV” display=”Luke 16:13 NIV”]). God is impressed with the heart, as seen in the story of the poor widow who gave out of her poverty into the Temple treasury ([biblegateway passage=”Mark 12:41-42″ display=”Mark 12:41-42″]). The best things in life actually do not involve money ([biblegateway passage=”Is. 55:1-2″ display=”Is. 55:1-2″]). If our money increases, we have to be careful not to set our heart on it ([biblegateway passage=”Ps. 62:10″ display=”Ps. 62:10″]).
Finally, the Bible tells us that there will be an end-time obsession with money, that is already in evidence, “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” ([biblegateway passage=”2 Tim. 3:2-4″ display=”2 Tim. 3:2-4″]). “Not greedy for money” is a phrase found a number of times in the B’rit Hadasha. How can we avoid this in 2014? Let’s align our will with Hebrews 13:5, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ “
God’s Standard on Family
God is a God of families. He grouped the sons of Noah by families, according to their
generations, then nations ([biblegateway passage=”Gen. 10:32″ display=”Gen. 10:32″]). He promised Abraham that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed ([biblegateway passage=”Gen 12:3″ display=”Gen 12:3″]). The biblical concept of a “family” is a husband and a wife. Children expand the family, and are considered a reward to their father and mother ([biblegateway passage=”Ps. 127:3″ display=”Ps. 127:3″]).
When society redefines marriage, the next logical step is a redefinition of family, and a usurping of the biblical standard. We have arrived there. You can see it on television—a child with two mothers, two fathers, or any other assortment of adults. The biblical standard, God’s best for families, is a father who is the spiritual head of the household, and a mother who is the heart of the home. The man loves his wife so much, sacrificially serving her and their children, that she has no problem submitting to his leadership. Their children feel secure because their home is a peaceful, loving place—a shalom bayit, in Hebrew. God says to husbands, “…husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself” ([biblegateway passage=”Eph. 5:28″ display=”Eph. 5:28″]). God says to wives, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” He also says that wives must be “…reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things” ([biblegateway passage=”1 Tim. 3:11″ display=”1 Tim. 3:11″]). God says to children, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” ([biblegateway passage=”Eph. 6:1″ display=”Eph. 6:1″]).
It is sad that there are so many fatherless households today. Single moms are in a position that God never intended. He is more than willing to graciously step in and be Father to the children involved, but this was never what God intended.
God’s Standard on Sin
Sin entered the world in the Garden, and has been passed down through each succeeding generation. Sin is anything contrary to the will of God. It is self-focused and self-satisfying. There was only one rule in the beginning, and Adam and Eve could not keep it. Man is not basically good. He is born with a sin nature ([biblegateway passage=”Rom. 5:12″ display=”Rom. 5:12″]). Rabbinic Judaism disputes this, asserting that man is basically good, but has an evil inclination (yetser hara) which can be overcome through desire, determination and effort. This is tradition that contradicts Scripture. The Tanach makes it clear that everyone sins ([biblegateway passage=”1 Kin. 8:46; Ecc 7:20; Prov. 20:9; 2 Chr. 6:36″ display=”1 Kin. 8:46; Ecc 7:20; Prov. 20:9; 2 Chr. 6:36″]). Psalm 51 indicates that sin is with us from our conception. God promised a solution to the sin problem in the Hebrew Scriptures, including Isaiah 53:10, “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put [Him] to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin…” This refers to the Messiah Yeshua 700 years before He was born!
God forgives sin when we repent, and receive His gift of atonement through The Eternal High Priest Yeshua, who presented His own blood in the Holy of Holies in heaven on our behalf. Yeshua broke the power of sin. It can no longer rule over us—unless we allow it. “…the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.” ([biblegateway passage=”Rom. 6:23″ display=”Rom. 6:23″])
There are many today who insist that there is no sin, and they are not sinners. The Bible says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” ([biblegateway passage=”1 Jn. 1:8″ display=”1 Jn. 1:8″]).If there is no right and wrong, no moral standards, no Ten Commandments, no Law of God, then there is no sin. But all these exist! There are absolutes, spelled out in detail in the Holy Scriptures. Know this. If you believe that the Words given to Moses on Mt. Sinai should still be the law of the land, you are not politically correct. You may be unpopular, and one day even persecuted. But be of good cheer! You are greatly loved, walking in truth, and on the winning side. Hold high the standard of the Word of God in 2014. We have His promise: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” ([biblegateway passage=”Rom. 8:31″ display=”Rom. 8:31″]).
Lifting high the Standard in Love,
Neil and Jamie