Rabbi’s Reflections – Thursday, November 14, 2019 

Shalom *|FNAME|*,

Ah!  I promised to write about “plotz.”  It’s a Yiddish word that means to fall apart.  One definition I saw said, “Split your guts.”  Well, when I saw the front page of the Knox News Sentinel this morning, I could just platz.  There, I even used it in a sentence.

Now I’ve got two things on which to write today.  Before I saw the Knox News Sentinel (November 13, 2019) edition, I had something.  (I’ll write about that tomorrow.). Then I saw it, the front page.  A queer (his word, not mine) first year seminary student (why bother with the other years, he already must know it all) speaks to the Church Street UMC in Knoxville.  (And John Wesley must be turning over in his grave.)

J. J. Warren made mention of “theologies of hate.”  The quote in the article was not specific, but the connotation is that any message of love purposed to call anyone out of a life of sin is, according to Warren’s definition, is a message of hate.  

Isaiah told us this would happen… Isaiah 5:20 Oy to those who call evil good and good evil, who present darkness as light and light as darkness, who present bitter as sweet, and sweet as bitter! 21 Oy to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight!

This raises the question, “How do we know right from wrong?”  In other words, “What is sin?”  Many believe that sin is whatever makes you feel bad.  They say things like, if you have the Holy Spirit in you, He will convict you when you sin and you will feel bad about it.  Oh really?

1 Timothy 4:1 “Now the Ruach clearly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, following deceitful spirits and teachings of demons 2 through the hypocrisy of false speakers—whose own conscience has been seared.”  A “seared conscience” has been walled off from the truth.  God’s word is truth. (John 17:17b) 

Many claim that God’s word does not prohibit alphabet soup.

Rabbi Trail:  Alphabet soup is my code word for the LBGTQ community.  It’s only a matter of time (if that time is not already here) until they add more letters.  I’m waiting for “P” for those who want to be married to their pets.  Or maybe an “S” for those who want to marry themselves.  Sounds smart, to marry yourself; (you will win every argument, but you will also lose every argument) that is, until you want a divorce and you can’t get it.  PS – “They” have already added “I” and “A.”  End RT.

But there is much in the word of God about our close relations and what is permitted and acceptable and what is not.  To speak God’s righteous standard is a message of love, not a message of hate.  (Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13)  Some say that’s Old Testament Law replaced by the New Testament message of love.  

Really?  Romans 1:27 clearly calls homosexuality “shameful acts,” promising a “due penalty for their error.”  And there is more.

This is a product of the “hyper-grace” movement.  Check out the definition of antinomianism (I’ve written previously in the RR about this).  This is the reason Paul wrote, Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may abound? 2 May it never be! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (And the rest of Romans 6)

We who know the truth have a responsibility, Ephesians 4:14 As a result, we are no longer to be like children, tossed around by the waves and blown all over by every wind of teaching, by the trickery of men with cunning in deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all ways into Messiah, who is the Head. 16 From Him the whole body is fitted and held together by every supporting ligament. The proper working of each individual part produces the body’s growth, for building itself up in love.

Anyone can deliver the truth.  It takes a person submitted to the leading of the Holy Spirit to deliver the truth in love.  Keep the faith.  We give Paul the last word today.   Galatians 6:8 For the one who sows in the flesh will reap corruption from the flesh. But the one who sows in the Ruach will reap from the Ruach eternal life. 9 So let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we don’t give up. 10 Therefore, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good toward all—especially those who belong to the household of faith.

Week 46
Memory Verse: 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, so that the surpassing greatness of the power may be from God and not from ourselves. 8 We are hard pressed in every way, yet not crushed; perplexed, yet not in despair; 9 persecuted, yet not forsaken; struck down, yet not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Yeshua, so that the life of Yeshua may also be revealed in our mortal body.

226   11/11    Monday:        Acts 20-21

227   11/12    Tuesday:       Acts 22-23

228   11/13    Wednesday: Acts 24-25

* 229 11/14    Thursday:     Acts 26-27

230   11/15    Friday:          Acts 28

Question of the day:  “What happened to you?”

Answer:  Occasionally, I get this question as I travel around Israel.  When a non-believing Israeli learns that I am Jewish AND a believer in Yeshua, this is what they want to know, “What happened to you?”

Paul had to answer this question.  In fact, we should all be ready to answer this question.  1 Peter 3:15 “Instead sanctify Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you,”

Paul’s answer is found here in the reading for today… Acts 26:12 “While journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the ruling kohanim, 13 at midday, O King, I saw on the road a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those traveling with me. 14 When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against goads!’ 15 “Then I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ “And the Lord said, ‘I am Yeshua—whom you are persecuting.”

Every one of us who follow Yeshua have a story.  It might not be a “Damascus Road” experience like Paul, but none of us arrived in the kingdom of God without revelation (not in our heads, but in our hearts).

What was Paul’s message (it should be our message too)?  Acts 26:20b “That they (both Jews and Gentiles) should repent and turn to God, performing deeds consistent with that repentance.”

The Hebrew word for “repentance” is “T’shuvah.”  It contains within it “Shuv” which itself means “turn.”  It is possible that in Hebrew “repent and turn” is a couplet made of the same word twice.  This is how we express superlatives in Hebrew.  It means “repent more,” or “really repent.”

2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, loved ones, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of body and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God…. 

For verse 10, I prefer the King James Version… 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

In other words, when God works in our hearts, we repent with a deeper repentance than what is available without the work of God.  And when God works in our hearts, it leads us to salvation (Yeshua) and we don’t have to repent for that.

If we only feel sorry (first level repentance), maybe we’re just sorry we got caught, that leaves us with a death sentence.  We need You, Lord.  Isaiah 55:6 Seek Adonai while He may be found, call on Him while He is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous one his thoughts, let him return to Adonai, so He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

And that’s a wrap.  Shalom beloved.