Some of the disciples had some excellent questions about the article, “Why Nazarene Israel looks Jewish”, so I thought we needed to add at least a second part. It gets complicated enough that we will probably need a separate book study in the future, but for right now I want to answer these questions in a short, compact way.
There were some good questions about the specifics of what it means to worship as Yeshua worshiped. These questions get complicated quickly, because Yeshua was a first century Jew who practiced first century Judaism. Since He is our example, our worship should ideally look identical to His (or at least, very similar). Yet on the other hand, while Yeshua was raised as a rabbinical Pharisee, He commanded us to practice a different form or worship which is based on the Melchizedekian order.
Some of the differences between the rabbinical and the Melchizedekian orders are huge, and some don’t make much difference. Further, Yeshua was also a celibate Nazirite, but the celibate and Nazirite vows are optional, meaning not everyone needs to make them. Therefore, our worship should look similar, but may not be identical.
What Torah is. First, we should discuss what the Torah is. In Torah Government, we explain there have been six priesthoods in Israel so far (and there will be at least one more). These six priesthoods are:
- An internal priesthood of the patriarchs
- An external Melchizedekian priesthood (Gen. 14)
- An internal priesthood of the firstborn (Ex. 13)
- An internal Levitical priesthood (all Israel)
- An internal rabbinical priesthood (Judah)
- An internal Melchizedekian priesthood (Ephraim)
As we explain in Torah Government and in the first section, the rabbinical order is a corrupt variant of the Levitical order. Plus, even the Levitical order the rabbis seek to re-establish will be corrupt, because it rejects Yahweh’s Torah, choosing instead to obey the traditions and teachings of the rabbis (which is confusingly called “Torah Law”).
Most of the commands in Yahweh’s Torah tell the order of Levi how to operate in a cleansed Levitical temple in the land of Israel. However, they do not apply unless we have a cleansed Levitical altar. Since right now we do not have those things, the commandments for the Levitical order do not pertain to us right now. Rather, they are inactive. (It is similar to having a driver’s license, but not having a car, or anywhere to drive it.) Further, to focus on the Levitical commands right now is to miss the point that the whole purpose of Torah is to establish a global kingdom for Yeshua, and we are not in a Levitical phase. Right now Yeshua does not tell us to go back to the land of Israel and gather around an altar. Rather, right now Yeshua wants us to go into all nations and raise up disciples, to build Him a literal global kingdom. The way we do this is to follow His instructions (i.e., His Torah), which is to fulfill the Great Commission.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 28:19-20
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, immersing them in [My name],
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amein.
[Note: to understand why we immerse in Yeshua’s name alone, see, “Immersion in Yeshua’s Name Alone”, which is part of Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume Three.]
Notice that Yeshua does Not say, “Sit in someone’s living room and read about the Levitical order, and think about going back to the land of Israel, and pretend that you are keeping the whole Torah.” Instead, what He says is to go into all nations, and make disciples (who obey His commands), and teach them to do everything He has commanded us. And one of the things He has told us to do right now is to organize ourselves according to the Fivefold Ministry principles of Ephesians 4, until such time as we are brought back home to the land (after Armageddon).
Ephesim (Ephesians) 4:11-16
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah,
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah;
14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Messiah —
16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
Where people get confused is they don’t realize what the word “Torah” means. They don’t understand what Torah is. The word Torah means “Instructions”, but not every instruction applies all the time. Rather, the instructions can change over time. For example, if you are building a home, you do different things when you put up the walls than you did when you were laying the foundation. But if you continue to focus on the (inactive) instructions for laying the foundation when it is time to put up the walls, then you are not following the active instructions of the moment. That is, you are not obeying the active Torah, but you are over-focusing on an inactive Torah. While this Levitical Torah used to pertain to us some 2,730 years ago, the Levitical Torah will not pertain to us again until after we come home (after Armageddon). That is when the Melchizedekian order (i.e., Nazarene Israel) will be merged with what is left of the Levitical (i.e., rabbinical) order. Until then, the Levitical Torah is inactive, and should not be our focus.
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 66:20-21
20 Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to Yahweh out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My set-apart mountain Jerusalem,” says Yahweh, “as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of Yahweh.
21 And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites,” says Yahweh.
When the Melchizedekian and Levitical orders are merged, this will create a renewed Levitical order, which will be the seventh priesthood in the series. At that point the Levitical Torah will go from inactive to active status. (To extend the earlier analogy, we will still have our driver’s license, but now we will be given a car and a place to drive.) Yet until we are to that point, the Levitical Torah lies dormant, while the Melchizedekian Torah is active. That is why the only way to “keep Torah” right now is to help Yeshua’s body (Nazarene Israel) build a global kingdom for Yeshua.
City elders. Before the exile to Babylon, Israel was organized by tribes, and the cities were led by the most respected elders in each city. These elders formed a beit din, or a “court.” It was this court which was responsible for matters of moral and legal judgment in each town.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 21:1-7
1 “If anyone is found slain, lying in the field in the land which Yahweh your Elohim is giving you to possess, and it is not known who killed him,
2 then your elders and your judges shall go out and measure the distance from the slain man to the surrounding cities.
3 And it shall be that the elders of the city nearest to the slain man will take a heifer which has not been worked and which has not pulled with a yoke.
4 The elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with flowing water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and they shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley.
5 Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for Yahweh your Elohim has chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of Yahweh; by their word every controversy and every assault shall be settled.
6 And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley.
7 Then they shall answer and say, ‘Our hands have not shed this blood, nor have our eyes seen it.’”
Before the exile to Babylon, the Sabbath assemblies were led either by the spiritual elders of the town, or by the Levites (if any were present). Yet, after the exile to Babylon, the synagogues were led by the rabbis. Yet because Yeshua said the rabbinical order is defiled, leadership of the assemblies reverts back to the original manner of leadership in the Torah, which is that each city is under the spiritual leadership of the spiritual elders of that town. That is why Shaul told Titus to appoint (or to recognize) the spiritual elders in each city.
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you —
While these elders can have any or all of the spiritual gifts (of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers), their job is to provide a good example, and good shepherding, and to further the Great Commission by evangelizing the surrounding area. They do this by collecting the tithe, and using it to provide for a building, which serves as a space set-apart unto worship. And no matter if they are Ephraimites or Jews, they also host a first century style Torah service, because this was part of both Yeshua’s and Shaul’s custom, was to go into the synagogues on the Sabbath.
Luqa (Luke) 4:16
16 So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
The Two Houses. To understand the role of the Torah Service and the Amidah, let us look at the two houses of Israel again, from a different angle.
As we saw in Nazarene Israel (and in part one of this series), there are two houses in Israel. The Northern Kingdom of Ephraim went into captivity in the Assyrian Dispersion, and their time of punishment ran out circa 1998 CE. This is why the Ephraimites are now beginning to return. For reasons we explain in Nazarene Israel, we expect the Ephraimite movement to continue to grow until two prophetic days (2,000 years) from Yeshua’s resurrection (circa +/- 2029 CE).
Hoshea (Hosea) 6:2
2 After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight.
So, while Ephraim is in the process of being called back, we need to realize that Ephraim and Judah are different. When Ephraim went into the Dispersion, he lost all knowledge of who he was, and of his Israelite heritage. He first came back into relationship with Elohim through the Roman Church system, but this is a problem as well as a blessing, because the nature of the Roman Church is not Israelite, but Roman. It has a different spirit behind it.
One of the problems Ephraimites have is that they fail to realize that part of the goal is not just to read about what Yeshua did, but to actually walk just as He walked. This means that not only do we need to learn about Yeshua, but we also need to behave like Him in every way that we can. Part of this is adopting a first century Hebraic mindset (although there can be some adaptations for the modern day). That is where so many Ephraimites go wrong is that they want to bring Greco-Roman Church culture with them, rather than changing and adopting Hebraic culture. This does not work, because when we graft into Yeshua, and His Spirit fills us, we should want to adopt the same culture (cult-ure) He had. This means a fundamentally Middle Eastern outlook, with all that entails.
The Greco-Roman Church has a different spirit that is essentially Greek, Roman, or Babylonian. It has different practices, different rituals, and it promotes an entirely different culture (cult-ure) than Yeshua or our ancestors kept. Heads are uncovered, looks are on display, and pride is embraced. Yeshua and all of the patriarchs would utterly reject this culture, because they would hold that if it does not belong inside of the temple, it is not a good witness outside the temple.
One of the things we learn from Acts 6 is that while there were both Hebraic (Middle Eastern mindset) Nazarenes and Hellenistic (Greco-Roman-Babylonian mindset) Nazarenes, it was the Hebraic ones that were in charge. The Hebraic ones took care of the Hellenistic ones, but the Hellenistic ones were not allowed into positions of leadership.
Ma’asei (Acts) 6:1
1 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution.
It was wrong for the Hebrews to neglect the Hellenistic widows in the daily distribution, but the point is that it had to be the Hebraic ones who were in charge, because this is the only way to help those of a Hellenistic mindset to convert and come closer to the Hebraic faith over time. Many of the Ephraimites will initially have a Hellenistic (Greco-Roman-Babylonian) mindset, but they cannot be allowed in positions of leadership or example-setting until they repent of such Greco-Roman spirits, from the heart.
Brother Judah. Brother Judah has completely different challenges. The Levites were joined to the house of Judah, and they were given specific rituals to carry out. When our Jewish brethren went into Babylon and the Levitical order collapsed, the Levites would have tried to maintain the temple rituals as best they could outside of the temple, and it seems likely that this is where the rabbinic hand washing ritual comes from, is an attempt to preserve the service of the brazen laver.
Shemote (Exodus) 30:17-21
17 Then Yahweh spoke to Moshe, saying:
18 “You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it,
19 for Aharon and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it.
20 When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to Yahweh, they shall wash with water, lest they die.
21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them — to him and his descendants throughout their generations.”
The rabbinic hand washing ritual is called Netilat HaYadayim, and it has nothing to do with cleaning the hands. Rather, it has to do with saying a certain ritual prayer before eating, in order to bless the meal. If one does not do this, the rabbis consider the meal unclean.
Marqaus (Mark) 7:1-8
1 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem.
2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.
3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders.
4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches.
5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”
6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.
7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
8 For laying aside the commandment of Elohim, you hold the tradition of men — the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
This hand washing is practiced in all rabbinic Jewish communities today, but we should not do it, as it is not a commandment of Elohim (but a tradition of men). It was not practiced in Israel before the exile to Babylon.
As a general rule, any rabbinic ritual or tradition that was not practiced in Israel before Babylon can be safely set aside, unless Yeshua practiced it. There are only a few such traditions that we know Yeshua kept, and these are probably because they did not transgress His Father’s commandments, but rather they augmented His Father’s commandments. One of these is the Amidah (or the Standing Prayer), and another of these may be the phylacteries (or tefillin). We want to cover the Amidah and tefillin in a separate teaching, but we will touch on them briefly here.
The Amidah (or Standing Prayer). When Judah came back from the exile to Babylon in the days of Ezra and Nehemia, everything was in disarray. The temple lay in ruins and had to be rebuilt. More importantly, for reasons that are not clear, rather than abandon the rabbinical order and go back to the Levitical order (as they should have), it was decided to further establish the rabbinical order. This was a great travesty.
Jewish tradition tells us that the greatest men of the day held a great assembly called simply Anshei Knesset HaGedolah, or “Men of the Great Assembly.” It is also called the Great Synagogue, or the Great Synod. According to legend it was the top 120 scribes, sages, and prophets, including Zechariah, Haggai, Malachi (whom some say is Ezra), Daniel, Nehemiah ben Hachaliah, Mordechai, and Zerubabel ben Shaaltiel, the high priest. This Great Assembly is credited with fixing the canon of the Tanach, including the books of Ezekiel, Daniel, Esther, and the Twelve Minor Prophets. It is also credited with having established the Amidah (or the Standing Prayer), as well as the rest of the synagogal prayers and rituals. They also added the festival of Purim to the calendar (in clear violation of Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, and other verses).
Some scholars question if the Great Assembly truly existed, or if it is just another of Judah’s many legends. However, no matter how it came about, after the Exile to Babylon the rabbis established a great many traditions, only some of which Yeshua kept. (And again, because Yeshua is our example, we want to keep the few that He kept, and reject all of the others.)
We hope to cover the Amidah in more detail in another place, but at the time of the Great Assembly, the Amidah was fixed as the central prayer of all Judaism. Perhaps because righteous Daniel prayed to Yahweh three times a day kneeling, the rabbis decided that all devout Jews should pray the Amidah three times a day, standing.
10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his Elohim, as was his custom since early days.
Why did Daniel kneel, and the rabbis decided that the Amidah should be said standing? We don’t know.
The Amidah is also called the Sh’moneh Esreh (or “Eighteen [Benedictions]”), because originally there were eighteen benedictions. However, now there are 19, as the rabbis inserted a curse over believers in Yeshua as the new Number #12. This new twelfth “benediction” (or curse) is called the Birkhat HaMinim).
We should also mention that on Shabbat, the eighteen benedictions are reduced to seven. The first three and the last three remain the same, and the middle thirteen are compressed to just one, so that there are a total of seven on the Shabbat.
As we also saw in Part One, Yeshua did not object to the Standing Prayer, because He tells us to forgive from the heart whenever we “stand praying” (i.e., whenever we stand to pray the Amidah), so that we also can have our sins forgiven.
Marqaus (Mark) 11:25
25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”
On weekdays one also binds tefillin (phylacteries) for the morning service. Some people believe tefillin may have been new in the first century, but it may also be that Yeshua had no issue with tefillin, because He said that whenever we bind tefillin, we should not wear broad (i.e., fancy) straps, or lengthen our tzitziyot (plural of tzitzit) to drag the ground (as one can sometimes still see in Israel today). Rather we should only wear normal straps on our tefillin, and normal length tzitziyot.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 23:1-5
1 Then Yeshua spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,
2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moshe’s seat.
3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.
4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders [tzitziyot] of their garments.”
So, if the Amidah was created by rabbis, why did Yeshua not object to the Amidah? It may be that He saw it as a good thing for the devout to come together three times a day, focus exclusively on Elohim, and pray together, in community. This is not to suggest that that standing to pray three times a day is any kind of a substitute for praying to Elohim without ceasing (because it is not). It is only to say that it can be a good practice in addition to praying without ceasing.
Thessaloniquim Aleph (1 Thess.) 5:17
17 pray without ceasing…
It may also be that Yeshua did not object to tefillin because they do not transgress His Father’s command to bind the commandments as a sign on our hand, and as frontlets between our eyes, which is considered to be part of the Great Shema.
Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4-9
4 “Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our Elohim, Yahweh is one!
5 You shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
6 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.
7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
It is easy to spiritualize away the command in verse 8 to bind His words as a sign on our hand, and to place them as frontlets between our eyes. We can easily say that Yahweh only intends these commands in a metaphorical or spiritual sense, and while it is true that the spiritual fulfillment of these commands is vastly more important than any physical fulfillment, there is also a danger of hypocrisy if we don’t perform them. For example, many believers will place a mezuzah on the doorposts of their home, or they will literally write the commandments on their doors, and yet they will explain tzitzit or tefillin away as being spiritual. In other words, they will take verses 7 and 9 literally, but will spiritualize verse 8 away. That is not consistent.
In Orthodox Judaism, only men wear tefillin and tzitziyot, and women are prohibited. It is only my opinion, but I do not see the harm in allowing women to wear them as well, and there may indeed be a great deal of benefit. For example, why would women not also need to look upon the tzitziyot, and remember not to play the harlot against Elohim, if they are the ones raising the next generation of Israel?
Bemidbar (Numbers) 15:38-40
38 “Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners.
39 And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of Yahweh and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined,
40 and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be set-apart for your Elohim.
The word “children” in verse 38 is “bnei”, which can refer to both men and women. If Yahweh wanted to specify only males, He could have used a different word, z’karim (males). So, to me at least it would seem that this commandment applies both to men and to women.
A frequent question is whether to follow the Ashkenazi (German or Khazarian Jewish) tradition for men to wear tzitziyot at all times, or to follow the Sephardic tradition of wearing them only during prayer times. There are good arguments for each tradition. The Ashkenazi say we need these reminders at all times, but then many Ashkenazim work office jobs, whereas many Sephardi Jews work blue collar jobs, where prayer shawls and tzitziyot can get easily destroyed, and also cause a safety hazard for the wearer. But to discuss the tassels completely we need to talk about the traditional linen garments to which the tassels are attached, as these garments were different in the first century (and so we will have to do this in another place).
The Siddur. The siddur is a ritual prayer book. The word siddur comes from the term seder, which means “order.” In context, it refers to an order of ritual prayers that are spoken, chanted, or sung during weekday, Sabbath, and festival services. Many of the prayers are taken directly from Scripture. I personally love the songs, and find them to be immersive, refreshing, and relaxing. The only problem is that the siddur in its present form did not exist in the first century (but was only established circa 850 CE).
In Yeshua’s time they did not have a written Siddur, and there were fewer songs in the services. They sang or chanted the Shema, and the Amidah, and then the Torah portion was chanted or sung. They also sang or chanted another beautiful and meaningful song called Aleinu, and then there were prayers from the heart.
It seems that in Yeshua’s time the authorities of the day did not believe it was necessary to fix the exact words of the Amidah, and there was generally an aversion to setting fixed formulaic prayers. It was felt that fixed formulas would only detract from praying from the heart. Yeshua seems to agree with this, when He talks about not uttering vain repetitions, thinking one will be heard because one says a lot of words.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 6:7
7 “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.”
According to the Babylonian Talmud in Berachot 28b, after the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, Rabbi Gamaliel II did codify the exact wording of the Amidah, and made it obligatory for all Jews to recite three times daily. Thus, it may be that before then (in Yeshua’s time), the Amidah was not obligatory, but was rather a popular prayer that devout Jews prayed whenever they felt like it, in addition to the Sabbath and festival services. It was not like it is in rabbinic Judaism today, where the rabbis literally race through many prayers by rote as fast as they can (as if they will be heard for their many words).
It is also thought that Yeshua’s prayer is a summation of the Amidah prayer, either to be said after the Amidah, or to be said when one does not have enough time to pray longer prayers.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 6:9-13
9 “In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amein.”
As we will show in another place, this seems to be a short, concise summation of the Amidah.
There are many other things we could say, but what we in Ephraim need to realize is that we are being called out of the Greco-Roman-Babylonian Church system. To come out of Babylon requires that we leave not just the church behind, but we need to leave the spirit of the Church system behind as well. If we are truly filled with His Spirit, then we will love the same things He loved, and we will want to do the same things He did. This means we need to love His Jewish culture, which He Himself obviously loved. This means we need to want to live in such a way that our behavior would be fitting inside of the temple at all times, so as to be a light to the world.
For their parts, our believing Jewish brothers need to realize that Yeshua came to replace the rabbinical order with a different order, and that Acts 15 is a refutation of rabbinic authority. And just because something is Jewish does not mean that Yeshua would have approved of it. Rather, what Yeshua wanted was to restore the original Hebraic culture that existed before the exile to Babylon, complete with all of the ancient Middle Eastern customs and traditions, with its focus on tight families, righteous living, and modesty in behavior and dress. This is very different than what the rabbinical order teaches today.
Come quickly, Adon Yeshua.