The Gospel According to Torah: It Happened at Shavuot!

By Margaret Huey

The Gospel According to Torah: It Happened at Shavuot!

This article has been reproduced and adapted from the book Messianic Spring Holiday Helper, edited by Margaret Huey.

As we approach the End of the Age, many people are being restored back to the Hebraic roots of the faith. It is an exciting time to watch, as scales fall off of the eyes of many brothers and sisters in the Lord, as Jewish people come to faith in Messiah Yeshua, and non-Jewish Believers embrace a return to the First Century ways of the early Believers! People are returning to the ancient paths! People are starting to fully walk the way Yeshua walked!

We who are embracing a Messianic expression of faith are honoring the seventh-day Shabbat again. We have been encouraged to obey the words of God as communicated through Moses:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exodus 20:8-10).[1]

We are studying the Torah on a weekly basis. In the Book of Acts, James the brother of Yeshua states the following about those who were coming into the faith in the First Century, who were not raised in the Synagogue, much like us today:

“For Moses [meaning, the first 5 books of the Bible called the Torah] from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath” (Acts 15:21).[2]

We Messianics are observing the appointed times of the Lord:

“These are the appointed times of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at the time appointed for them” (Leviticus 23:4-5, 6-44).

Moses goes on to teach about Passover, Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks/Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

We are practicing a set-apart, sanctified lifestyle by following commandments that will instruct us how to be purified from the things of the world; things like the dietary laws which teach us how to separate the holy from the profane. These are the words of James the Just, to the new followers of Yeshua who came from the nations, about their eating habits:

“But that we write to them that they abstain from things polluted by idols and from fornication and from meats strangled and from blood” (Acts 15:20).[3]

All of these things that we do as Messianic Believers compose what we often call being “Torah observant”—indicating that we “follow the commandments.” In fact, in Revelation 12:17, it reads that the end-time saints are those “who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Yeshua.”

But What About Having the Testimony of Yeshua?

I have just mentioned some of the different ways in which we are now actively keeping the commandments of God as never before, as we are striving to live like the First Century believers—but what about having the testimony of Yeshua? Obeying God must be joined by knowing that we have been redeemed by the work of His Son. Let us look at what happened to Peter and the other Apostles on that first Shavuot fifty days after the resurrection of Yeshua—and only ten days after He had ascended into Heaven!

“And when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because they were each hearing them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:1-6).

On that first Shavuot, after the resurrection of Yeshua, Peter preaches to those who are gathered in Jerusalem. He says,

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Yeshua the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know” (Acts 2:22).

Peter then reviews the events of the life, death, and resurrection of Yeshua of Nazareth. Many had been in Jerusalem during these events, but others had come a long way, as they lived in the Diaspora, and had not been in Jerusalem to hear about the events surrounding Yeshua’s execution. Peter recites a prophecy of the resurrection from Psalm 16, where David speaks of the Messiah who was to come and who was to be raised from the dead. Peter proclaims that he, the Apostles, and others have been witnesses to all of these events, and that it was the promise of the Holy Spirit being poured forth—that these people who were assembled had all just seen and heard on this Shavuot. But this next Scripture is the most important of all, when they respond to Peter and the others:

“Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter, and the rest of the apostles. ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Messiah Yeshua for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself’” (Acts 2:37-39).

It is recorded in the Book of Acts that three thousand were saved that day:

“And day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47).

And as further recorded by Luke in Acts, Peter and the others continue to proclaim the gospel of salvation to all they interacted with, as they testified about the restoration of all things:

“Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be blotted out, in order that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Yeshua, the Messiah appointed for you, whom Heaven must receive until the time of restoration of all things, about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from antiquity” (Acts 3:19-21).

So, as part of this end-time move of the Lord today, while Believers are being restored back to the things of the First Century, and we learn to be a mixed assembly of Jewish and non-Jewish Believers in Yeshua—we have to be both keeping the commandments of God and sharing the testimony of Yeshua that we possess. It is the testimony of Yeshua and truly being born again ourselves, and then the sharing of this gospel from Scripture, as Peter did, that we need to really emphasize! This is because whenever a wonderful move of God is at hand, the enemy always works overtime to see who he can deceive and devour. How much more so should we be on guard now, during this amazing time of restoration, when the Father is drawing people into a Messianic walk of faith from very diverse backgrounds?

We have to return to the spiritual experiences of that day of Shavuot and share salvation that comes from Yeshua. Righteousness does not come from trying to keep the commandments. Righteousness comes from the blood of Yeshua covering our sins, because we really can never completely keep the Torah. This is why Yeshua died in our place. This is why we have to repent of our sin nature and receive Him, be baptized or immersed in His name, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. And if we really are in the end-times (or at least getting closer), then we need to be very aware of the major end-time lie that Paul warns us about:

“[A]nd with all the deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

Here is the question of this age: How can a person, who is coming back to the Hebraic roots of the faith and being obedient to God’s commandments, ever be swept away by the end-time strong delusion that appears to be for only the unrighteous people who are perishing? Could such a person be practicing a form of righteous living, yet really be unrighteous? Remember that on that day of Shavuot or Pentecost, those who heard Peter preach were people who followed the commandments—yet they were “pierced to the heart”—and said to Peter and the other Apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter knew that they had been convicted about their sinful hearts, and that they had been pierced, so he was then able to tell them to repent!

Those gathered at Shavuot were “cut” (RSV, NIV) or “pierced to the heart” (NASB). Richmond Lattimore’s translation renders it as “they were stricken to the heart.” The verb used by Luke to describe this deep emotion is katanussomai (κατανυσσομαι), meaning to “be pierced, stabbed fig., of the feeling of sharp pain connected w. anxiety, remorse” (BDAG).[4] It is interesting to note that this verb is used in the Septuagint, in Genesis 34:7, to describe the intense pain of the Shechemites after they had circumcised themselves. Is not then this “pierced heart” the same as the circumcision of the heart that is required at the new birth?

How Can a Person be Unrighteous Who is Practicing Righteous Living?

The answer is very simple and yet so profound that it usually escapes even the most serious so-called “Believers.” The answer is simply that “they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10, KJV). Might be saved? Isn’t that easy? Don’t you just ask Yeshua or Jesus into your heart because you believe He is the Messiah? Those present with Peter at Shavuot found out that it was a heart issue.

To find the answer to the question, we must determine what the “love of the truth” is. It is simply, yet profoundly, receiving the Divine agapē love that the Father uses by His Holy Spirit to bring us to the point of desiring, above all else, to find out the truth concerning ourselves so that we can repent and be saved.We have to earnestly, with our whole hearts, come to the point of being broken before a holy and righteous God to such a degreethat we finally realize that nothing we can do in or by ourselves will ever make us righteous. Our heart has to be pierced! We have to recognize that we, although made in the image of God, have also inherited the nature of our fallen ancestor, Adam. We have to come to the point of realizing just how much of a sinner we are!

Unfortunately, this gospel of salvation is rarely preached from many Christian or Messianic platforms today. The key to understanding what the “love of the truth” is, is to come to grips with who we are ourselves. As Yeshua so directly told Nicodemus,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God…Are you the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?” (John 3:3, 10).

The Lord further warns His listeners, who may study the Bible faithfully, that they are yet falling short:

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).

What is the key ingredient that so many of us overlook? We have to truly understand why we need to be saved! We have to have truly come to terms with the hard fact that we are sinners and that we deserve to be forever separated from God. We have to come to the realization that we do not have the power to even see the Kingdom of God in our natural, unregenerated state. We have to come to terms with the fact that we could keep the commandments of the Torah perfectly, but still miss something.

We must realize that the vast majority of us have always been commandment breakers, and we are predisposed to always function in our flesh. We have to truly come to the end of ourselves, and to have our hearts broken concerning ourselves, so that we can honestly proclaim ourselves to be the sinners that we are! We have to come to the end of ourselves with godly sorrow and have repented of our sin, which means to turn from those ways of sin, that we do indeed know we have committed. Listen to the following words of Yeshua concerning repentance for the sinner:

“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

“I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7).

Take important notice of these words that Yeshua spoke to His followers, just following His resurrection:

“Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem’” (Luke 24:45-47).

The Apostle Paul teaches us the difference between the sorrow that is prompted by God and the sorrow that comes from the world:

“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

In order to be saved, we need to have grasped hold of the reality that Messiah Yeshua died in our place to cover us with His atoning sacrifice for our sin—but we have to have died to ourselves before we can lay claim to this sin covering. In Hebrews 9:22 we read,

“This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you…and according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:20, 22).

We have to have died to our pride, our independence, our self-justification, our self-righteousness, or self-esteem—in essence, we have to have died to ourselves. In the fallen state of people, God Himself moves on them through the words in His Torah and brings to their mind and soul that they are sinners and not keeping the commandments out of cleansed hearts, if at all. He moves them to be real with themselves and admit that they have fallen far from His glory. It is the sorrow that He works in them that allows them to be real with themselves and want to repent with their whole hearts. The sorrow that is from the world is that which makes us sorry that we were caught doing something; it does not cause us to really want to change and turn—to repent. This worldly sorrow will only led to our spiritual death in the long run. We will never be saved if we only have worldly sorrow.

My friends, this message of salvation is rarely preached or taught anymore. It is not a popular message, but it is the message of the pierced heart. It is the message that was first delivered to the saints by Yeshua and was proclaimed by all of the Apostles. It is called the gospel of salvation! It is the salvation that saves us from the penalties of not keeping Torah fully. Let’s repeat again the words of Peter right after that first Shavuot when the Holy Spirit was poured out on those who believed and repented:

“Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be blotted out, in order that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Yeshua, the Messiah appointed for you, whom Heaven must receive until the time of restoration of all things, about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from antiquity” (Acts 3:19-21).

A Personal Testimony

I was raised in a fairly typical American Christian home in the 1950s and 1960s. I went to Church and Sunday School on Sunday. I sang in the Church Youth Choir from the ages of 10 through 17. I was active in the Youth Group in high school, even being its president for two years. I believed Jesus (Yeshua) was the Messiah. I believed everything that I had been taught about Him that was contained in the Apostles’ Creed that we repeated every Sunday. I had asked Him into my heart at a young age. I had even said “the sinner’s prayer.” Good Heavens, my grandfather was even a minister! Yet I was completely and hopelessly lost. I was perishing. I was not born again—and I didn’t even know it. I, myself, was under the strong delusion!

I was under the delusion that I did not have to deal with being a sinner, specifically. I was too young to do that when I had been led in the sinner’s prayer. I was under the delusion that I could believe in Jesus, but not have to repent. I was under the delusion that as a young child I could make a “decision” that dealt with sin, yet I was too young to understand what sin was. I stayed in this state of delusion until I was 30 years old.

You see, as a child I knew the difference between right and wrong, and good and bad, for I had inherited that trait from my ancestor Adam when he ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In fact, I was a very good child! I was very careful to do all that I was told, but I did not have a handle on what sin was. Because knowing that you are a sinner with a black sinful heart, especially when you are a “good person,” really does not happen until you leave your childhood years. It is then when we arrive at the time that we go from childhood to young adulthood that our black heart starts to get exposed to ourselves. Rebellion is the first area where sin usually manifests itself, because it so often just stays in the heart and grows in the darkness of it. We no longer really wish to please our parents or our teachers as we did when we were younger. We want to experience life for ourselves and try the things that we know are “bad.” We, who still appear outwardly “good,” are now hiding secret sins of rebellion, lust and covetousness, even though we may know better than to actually act upon these new desires. We know we shouldn’t be thinking these things, but we can’t help ourselves.

When I came to this new reality about my heart and its dark secrets around the age of 13-14, it never occurred to me that I needed to turn to God with sorrow that only He could cause me to understand, and then to repent of my sins and receive the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua to give me the blood covering that was required by the Torah. It never occurred to me, because I had been told that I was already covered! Do you realize that nowhere in the Bible does it tell us to ask “Jesus into our hearts” or to recite a sinner’s prayer by rote or to “make a decision for Christ?”

So there I was, lost in my sin, yet being deceived myself that I was “okay.” Yet I knew that I had lost my childhood innocence. Deep in my sinner’s heart, I knew I was not saved! My heart had not been pierced!

I can remember, as a teenager, reading 1 Corinthians 13 over and over again hoping that I would somehow get peace. You may recognize that chapter. It is the one that goes on and on about love, but I did not have the foggiest idea what point Paul was trying to make. You see, he was sharing about that agapē love that only can be understood by one who has been supernaturally changed from above, and has the Holy Spirit resident inside.

I would never read Psalm 100 in the same way. That is the wonderful Psalm of thanksgiving to the Lord. I even had it memorized, yet I did not really feel thankful to Him.

I would read the “red words” of Yeshua from my Bible, hoping that I would feel like I did as a child again. I knew instinctively that I wasn’t clean, yet the Christians around me told me I was a fine Christian girl.

I am sorry to report that I stayed in such a dreadful state of delusion until I turned 30 years of age. My problem was that, even though I knew I was a sinner, I could not admit it to God. I did not want the relationship with Him that would make me so transparent that I would have to come to the end of Margaret. I did not want Him first in my life, because I was first.

Then I read these verses that cut me to my very unsaved soul from 2 Corinthians 13:5:

“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Yeshua the Messiah is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?”

These verses caused me to feel so sick inside, because I knew that somehow I failed the test that I was in the faith. But God in His infinite mercy, goodness, and grace, intervened with a problem that would shake up my life—and give me the help I needed to repent of my sins and come to Him the way He requires. He had a wonderful plan for my life that would allow me to see that, no matter what I did, I was now going to have to come to terms with being a failure and a sinner. My late husband, Kim McKee, and I went through the loss of the family business that resulted in us losing everything except our house. I was finally faced with the reality that nothing I could do could fix the problem. I had to finally face the fact that I had put myself first in my life, but I was a failure. I had to face the fact that I had spent my whole life daily breaking the First Commandment:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. Your shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:2-3).

I was devastated with the reality of this sinner called Margaret who had never truly understood who her God was! All I wanted was to disparately get right with Him! I fell on my face before God and cried out for mercy. I finally realized why I was separated from Him. I didn’t know Him and I didn’t love Him, even though I thought I knew and believed everything about Him. I got real about Margaret with the God of Israel. I confessed and repented of every secret sin I could think of. My heart was finally pierced. I begged Him to cover me with the blood of Yeshua. And finally and miraculously, I knew I had gotten through to my Heavenly Father after all of those years of knowing that we were estranged. His overwhelming presence was felt all over me in such a supernatural way that I would no longer question if I were forgiven or not. I knew I was forgiven, cleansed, and restored back to God. I was filled with such love for Him and my brethren that I didn’t know existed. I was never to be the same again. I finally understood what grace was. I was finally born again! The love chapter in 1 Corinthians now made sense!

The most amazing part of finally having this assurance of my salvation is that I truly was a changed person. I no longer would walk in self-justification, but I would walk in Divine agapē love. I loved others because He first loved me—and I expected nothing in return for loving others. I knew, that in and of myself, I was nothing. It was only He in me that was anything. These words of Paul literally sang to me:

“The mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Messiah in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:26-27).

How do we not fall under the “strong delusion”?

So how do we make sure that we do not fall under the “strong delusion” that God Himself will send to those who did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved? That even though they think they serve Him, their pride and egos give them away.

We go to Him and make sure that we truly have put Him first in our lives—and we get honest about ourselves and our sins! If we are truly born again and walking in the power of His Holy Spirit, than the deception at the End of the Age will not overpower us. We will not believe the lies that will come from the antimessiah and his system. We will thank the Father daily for choosing us to be part of His end-time restoration of all things. We will cling to Yeshua the Messiah and His atonement for our sins—the good news of the Gospel.

So let us now repeat the verses that warn us about the strong delusion, and then listen to how the Apostle Paul ends this warning with encouragement:

“[A]nd with all the deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie…But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12, 13-14).

I want to end my testimony with this Scripture that has truly given me that assurance of my own salvation:

“Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more, as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:22-25).

The day that is being spoken of is the end-times that are steadily approaching us. But right after the author of Hebrews encourages us that we can have the assurance of our salvation, he goes right into warning us that we can still be deceived by the strong delusion in the end, if we do not hold on tight to the truth of salvation:

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

So, are we to fall under the strong delusion that God Himself sends in the end-times, because we really have not received salvation and its truth? Are we so often consumed with sharing the Messianic lifestyle, that we have forgotten to share the saving faith that can come only through the Messiah Himself? Or are we to walk in the assurance of our salvation, because we love the truth and have repented Biblically of our sins? And in so doing, are we now sharing faithfully the gospel of salvation through the commandments that we now keep as Messianic Believers? Let us be those people who “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Yeshua” (Revelation 12:17; 14:12).

And let us share both of these critical truths with others. These are the signs of the true end-time Messianic Believer. This is the gospel according to Torah! It is truly good news that can change your life!


References

[1] For more information, consult the Messianic Sabbath Helper by TNN Press.

[2] For more information, consult the chapter “What Happened at the Jerusalem Council?” in Torah In the Balance, Volume I by J.K. McKee.

[3] For more information, consult the article “To Eat or Not to Eat?” by J.K. McKee.

[4] BDAG, 523.

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