February 2012 Yavoh

Truths We Deny - Lies We Believe

In the final chapter of Genesis, Jacob passes away and Joseph and his brothers take his body back to Canaan and bury him in Machpelah (Hebron). For all the turmoil and conflict in Jacob’s life, his last seventeen years were enjoyed with rest and comfort provided by Joseph in the land of Goshen (Egypt). You might recall the story of Joseph and how he was sold into slavery by his own brothers and forced to go to Egypt. While in Egypt he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and was raised up to save Egypt and the surrounding region from a seven-year famine. When the brothers came to Egypt to buy food during the famine, they did not recognize Joseph, so he used that opportunity to deal with them by bringing them to repentance for what they had done to him and his father Jacob. At that moment of repentance, Joseph revealed himself and his brothers, led by Judah, were shocked that this Egyptian ruler was their lost brother Joseph.

Referring to the ancient story, it has always struck me a little strange that Joseph’s brothers, who sold him to traders going to Egypt, truly thought they would never see him again, even if they went to Egypt themselves. The brothers had taken Joseph’s tunic and ripped it, smeared blood on it, and then let Jacob think that Joseph had been attacked and killed by a wild beast. But what is really strange to me is that the brothers seemed to believe the very lie they put on Jacob. They acted as though Joseph was no more as well. This becomes acutely clear when Joseph reveals himself to the brothers amidst their shock.

Where did they really think Joseph was? Answer: Somewhere in Egypt as a slave. When the time came for them to travel to Egypt to buy food did they not think there was any chance that they would see Joseph again? Answer: Apparently not. As a slave his life would have been short. The very possibility did not exist in their thinking.

Stepping back, Joseph’s brothers knew truthfully what happened to Joseph, yet they believed the very lie they told Jacob their father. Why did they believe that lie?

When Joseph revealed himself, he gave a powerful explanation for the entire affair. It was part of God’s plan.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come closer to me.” And they came closer. And he said, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.” GEN 45:4-8

Joseph understood the plan, but the brothers didn’t. Consider this: Both Joseph and his brothers knew that God had a plan for them before they did what they did with Joseph. It was revealed to them in Joseph’s dreams, which he had shared as a youth.

There had been two dreams. The first was about sheaves of grain that had been bound at a harvest.

And he [Joseph] said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf. Then his brothers said to him, ‘Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?’” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. GEN 37:6-8

The second dream had to do with bowing before Joseph again, this time including his mother and father.

Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, “Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” And he related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind. GEN 37:9-11

Why didn’t the brothers remember the dream? Why didn’t they consider running into Joseph traveling to Egypt? When we review the events of Joseph being sold into Egypt as a slave, then being raised up to be viceroy over the gathering of grain for the famine, we see striking items which match the dreams.

First, Joseph was bound just like the sheaves of grain. Ten of the brothers come to buy grain from Joseph in Egypt bowing before him, just like the dream. Because of the dream requiring eleven to bow before him, Joseph asks about his little brother Benjamin and insists that the brothers bring Benjamin the second time. When they return with Benjamin, the focus of the story shifts to Jacob their father (the second dream of Joseph). Then Judah pleads for the life of Jacob, not Benjamin, and offers himself in place of his brother in Genesis 44:18-34. This is the moment that Joseph reveals himself.

It is clear that the brothers had rejected Joseph’s dreams, even though God was foretelling them what would happen to them. Joseph believed the dreams and came to follow them precisely when confronting his brothers. But even more than rejecting God’s plan, the brothers believed their own lie that Joseph was dead.

Let’s attempt to offer a preliminary answer given the information we have in this story alone.

It seems from the beginning the brothers rejected God’s message and plan given in the dream even before the lie was told. Their resentment of Joseph as being younger than they and already their father’s favorite so clouded their ability to reason that they dismissed anything God could say or do. Perhaps they expected a confirmation from a second source that was more mature. That resentment also seemed to dismiss Joseph’s life entirely when it came to telling the lie about his demise. They preferred the lie to the truth that he was alive as a slave somewhere in Egypt. Even when they traveled to Egypt years later, they couldn’t imagine seeing Joseph again (even in Egypt). They believed their own lie.

There are striking parallels in the life of Joseph and Messiah Yeshua. It is clear now that the life of Joseph was a Messianic event foretelling the Messiah.

In John’s Gospel, he draws on these parallels between Joseph and Yeshua, pointing out that Yeshua’s rejection by His countrymen was just as the brothers rejected Joseph.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. JOH 1:10-11

Joseph was bound, cast into a pit, and sold. Yeshua was bound, valued at 30 pieces of silver, and put in a pit. Joseph came out of the pit and became the ruler of Jacob’s world when it came to buying grain for bread. Yeshua also came out of His pit at the resurrection. The next time we see Him, He will be the ruler of Heaven and Earth.

Many years ago, I had been invited along with other Baptist pastors to an “interfaith dialogue” session. We were in a seminar with a Jewish Rabbi who prided himself as being an expert on the New Testament. He spoke as I expected, giving all the reasons why he did not believe that Yeshua of Nazareth was the Messiah. But I was completely taken aback by the Rabbi’s admission that he DID believe that Yeshua was resurrected from the grave!

This Rabbi had enough intelligence to admit that there was more than sufficient evidence to conclude that Yeshua had somehow come to life and gotten Himself out of the grave. He said that the confirmation by the Roman guards, the way the stone was moved, and the testimony of others seeing Yeshua alive after the burial convinced him to draw that conclusion. I asked the Rabbi where he then thought Yeshua went. He admitted that he didn’t know but added that He must have eventually died somewhere else at another time. More surprising to me was his attitude. He really did care where Yeshua was.

Like Joseph being sold into slavery in Egypt (never to be seen again), this Rabbi admitted that Yeshua did come out of the grave (was resurrected) but that He would never be seen again. Just like Joseph’s brothers, the world believes Yeshua is gone and will never be seen again. And just like Joseph’s brothers, they know He did not stay in the grave dead, but they don’t seem to care.

Let me take you back to the story of Joseph and his brothers again. There is another aspect to this believing a lie that is presented when Jacob actually dies.

Near his death, Jacob made Joseph swear that he would bury him alongside Abraham and Isaac at Machpelah in Hebron, NOT in Egypt. Joseph and his brothers completed this request. But the burial of their father revealed something else about Joseph’s brothers.

When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph should bear a grudge against us and pay us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father charged before he died, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” GEN 50:15-18

Did Jacob ask Joseph to forgive his brothers as the brothers reported to Joseph? There is no evidence whatsoever that Jacob ever made such a request. This supposed statement by the brothers attributed to their father appears to be another lie. Their fear of Joseph seeking retribution after Jacob’s death is a lie the brothers told each other. The real evidence given in Scripture suggests that Joseph forgave his brothers long before. He did so because of God’s favor on his life, understanding God’s intent for all, and his desire to fulfill God’s purpose. But Joseph’s brothers didn’t believe that. They feared Joseph’s heart and intentions. They convinced themselves that once Jacob passed, Joseph would rise up and exact revenge upon them for what they had done. I think this is why Joseph wept when they spoke to him. They did not believe in God’s love for them through the life of Joseph. Listen to Joseph’s answer.

But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. GEN 50:19-21

Joseph’s brothers did not really believe that God loved them in a personal way. God loved them so much that, despite their intentional harm, Joseph was led into captivity to ensure their future safety and well-being. This was part of another prophecy given to their Great-Grand Father Abraham. Did not God say that his descendants would eventually go down into Egypt and being enslaved for several generations before being brought back to the land? Again, the brothers ignored prophecies given to Abraham (God’s plan) choosing to believe lies they contrived themselves.

The same pattern is with us today for the coming of the Messiah. God loves all of us in spite of our being sinners and He has offered up Yeshua, suffering much harm, for our benefit. But the story of the Messiah doesn’t end there. There are still more prophecies describing the end of the ages and the Messiah gathering us from the nations before His return. Do we seriously believe that plan of God or are we short-sighted like Joseph’s brethren bound up in our own fears of life.

Lying is one of the most powerful weapons used against us by our enemy satan. It originates from the first sin in the story of the garden. Look back at the story of the garden. When satan questioned Eve about God’s instructions concerning which trees they could eat from and which they could not, it was Eve who gave the answer.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?’” And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’” And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” GEN 3:1-5

Satan challenged her with what God has said, but it was Eve who upon quoting God added the additional words of not touching the fruit. Let me repeat exactly what God had told them earlier.

...but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die. GEN 2:17

God never said anything about not touching it and then they would die.

Satan exploited her lie knowing that touching would not bring about death. This led to the deception of them eating of the fruit. Eve lied about what God had said, believed her own lie, and satan used her lie to her harm.

You probably have enough life experience to know that we all do this to ourselves. Either we fear something or we are not satisfied by something and find a way to lie about it. We don’t escape those lies; they come around again and we ourselves are tripped up by them. Trusting God for all things in your life and being content with God’s grace is what keeps us from lying to ourselves and others.

Let me take you to another fascinating conversation about lying. It reveals other truths about lying and believing in your own lies. This time it is between Yeshua and a group of “believing” Jews. I say “believing” because this was the lie they were believing.

Yeshua therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham's offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, ‘You shall become free?’” JOH 8:31-33

Note that these are Jews who “had believed Him.” Yet, upon hearing these words they began to dispute Yeshua. They didn’t like Yeshua equating truth with freedom. Yeshua’s statement was shining some light on the darkness of their hearts and they did not like it.

They believed that they were not enslaved and had never been enslaved to anyone or anything. In their hearts, Yeshua’s statement seemed to imply that they were somehow enslaved, but Yeshua answered them clarifying the type of enslavement He had spoken of.

Yeshua answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.” JOH 8:34

Before we go any further, stop and consider what the Jews believed about themselves – that they were not, nor had they ever been, enslaved by anyone or anything. As Abraham’s offspring, is it true that they had never been enslaved to anyone? What happened to the story of Egypt with Joseph? What about Moses and the children of Israel enslaved by Pharaoh and the exodus out of Egypt? Didn’t God prophecy to Abraham that his offspring would be enslaved and be delivered by God? Didn’t God deliver them with the Passover Lamb? How did they forget that story?!? So, it follows that Yeshua adds to His answer to these “believing” Jews…

And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. I know that you are Abraham's offspring; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father." JOH 8:35-38

At the Passover, the deliverance of the first-born set the stage for the deliverance for all of the children of Israel. It is the great story of Redemption. This is the story of the Lamb of God and the Messiah to come. Now the Messiah is right before them, but can they see and hear Him? Obviously not. Why? Because they had lied to themselves as to who they are and where they came from. They know their history but they have lied to themselves and have chosen to believe that lie. They are detached from truth and history. The moment Yeshua mentions truth, they find themselves at odds due to their own lies. It follows then that Yeshua strikes the difference. They continue to argue ignoring their previous lies.

They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Yeshua said to them, "If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham.” JOH 8:39

The works (deeds) of Abraham are well known to all – hospitality. But there is no hospitality being shown to Yeshua by these men and He points this out specifically.

But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father [Satan]." JOH 8:40-41a

At this point, Yeshua has revealed a truth about lies and lying to yourself. When you lie, you don’t believe God and you are not part of God’s plan as the sons of Abraham. Instead, they are sons of the father of lies – satan. Why is satan the father of lies? Because he lied to himself first and then to God.

Watch what happens now. They protest and appeal to the highest level of God.

They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God." JOH 8:41b

I have always considered this to be one of the most ironic moments recorded in the Scriptures. The Son of God is having an argument with men who are claiming to be the sons of God.

If you truly know God and belong to Him, wouldn’t you be able to sense the things of God and those sent by Him for your benefit? It seems to me that you would. But if you find yourself at odds with God’s hand and in conflict with Him, wouldn’t that indicate that there is a serious problem between you and God? Yeshua speaks directly to this point.

Yeshua said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.” JOH 8:42-45

Yeshua has taught us some important things about lies and lying. Lies want to be different from the truth; they can’t accept the truth when it is just the truth. Have you ever met someone who won’t take “Yes” for an answer; they have to dispute even that a bit. Lying has its own nature and life to it. One lie begets another lie. If you tell enough of them you eventually begin to believe them. This madness is summed up in the idea that the bigger the lie, the easier it is to believe it.

As believers of God, we should be opposed to anything remotely associated with lies and lying. Parents should be concerned about their children lying to them. Once a child speaks a lie, the child comes out from the covering and protection of the parent and is subject to more harmful elements. Lying doesn’t work in the business world; it brings loss and ruin. Lying cannot be a part of any relationship. Friends stop being friends because of lies. Marriages end the same way. Lying is extremely dangerous to us all. The consequences are devastating. Obviously, lying cannot be any part of our relationship with God.

Now that we understand that lying can have no part of our faith in God, let us consider what is before us. For many years, I have challenged all of us to examine our own belief in Yeshua as the Messiah. Instead of repeating what others have said, or spouting the “party line,” among other believers, I have challenged you to examine the evidence of Yeshua’s claim to the be the Messiah. The Torah says that truth is established by the evidence of two or three. Our faith needs to be based on the truth, not on a lie we have told ourselves to believe.

This is why I teach the Torah each Sabbath as a believer of Yeshua the Messiah. The Torah has the evidence of Yeshua being the Messiah. As with the events of Joseph and his brothers, the Torah tells us what God really said. We get back to the source and root of our faith.

But we now live several millennia from those events. Our faith is in sharp contrast with many people who don’t believe that these ancient events or prophecies are of value today. In point of fact, someone speaking of these things and drawing application to the events of our days is considered by western non-religious society as a religious extremist and a danger to the rest of society. I know for a fact that governments are fearful and suspicious of people who believe in God. They don’t believe that God is good and just; they see Him as a reason for crazy people to do crazy things. So, they would prefer to see God taken out of the public discourse altogether. Too often, secular people have seen people with strong religious view do things that are bizarre and illegal, such as killing abortion doctors and blowing up clinics. But on a larger scale the world watches us deny our own truths and believe in lies we made up.

The biggest example of this is Christianity’s view of the keeping the Torah. They spend as much time denying the Bible as they do claiming that it is inerrant. The world watches believers explain away the commandments and justify themselves. In a word, the world considers Christianity as a whole to be a bunch of “hypocrites.” It is more than preaching morality and then being immoral, it is about believers lying and then believing in their own lies. Sadly, the world is right about this.

Maybe you are reading this and saying I am wrong. Let me show you a couple of obvious items that stand out like beacons. How about this lie?

Christ was born on December 25. No HE wasn’t. Any Bible student can do this study. Elizabeth was pregnant with John the Baptist six months before Mary was with Yeshua. Elizabeth gave birth in the spring; therefore, Yeshua was born in the fall.

Christ is the reason for the season. No HE isn’t. Mithra and the winter equinox are the reasons for the season and any reasonable person knows this.

Only Christians, predominantly American Christians, want their special season and time, and they paint their custom with religious undertones. They have lied to themselves and believe their own lies.

Since we are exposing some dark things to the light of day, how about this one? The Bible explicitly says that setting up a tree in your house, decorating it with gold and silver, is idolatry.

Uh oh. I have impugned their god now. I can prove that they treat it as an idol. One, they bow before it to get the blessings (presents) from underneath it and they are sorely offended when you want nothing to do with their idol. Secular people really don’t care if it is an idol or not. It is Christians, those who believe in Jesus, who get really offended about their Christmas tree.

One of the most powerful examples of denying the truth and then setting up a lie to believe in is how Christians regard the Old Testament vs. the New Testament. They actually teach that the commandments and practices of the old are relegated to history and not done today. They spin this lie with only the moral law is still with us today or those things specifically mentioned in the New Testament.

Let me pose a simple test for this “truth.” Do we believe that we are now permitted to take God’s name in vain today? They answer, “Of course not.” But the problem is the commandment is only found in the Torah and nowhere in the New Testament.

Or consider this example: Yeshua kept the Passover with His disciples when He inaugurated the New Covenant with the cup and bread (what Christians commonly call “communion”). But Christians don’t keep Passover when they keep communion. They say that is “Jewish.” Despite that Yeshua and the disciples, and later the Apostles who wrote the New Testament did keep the Passover, Christians don’t. This is all under the banner of following Christ’s example and holding to the teachers and teaching of the New Testament.

I could go on for many more pages, but I won’t. My point is clear and verifiable. We make the same mistakes that others before us have made. We testify that we are believers but we deny the truth, create lies as substitutes and then believe them.

But those of us who are Messianic and hold to the Torah have stopped denying the truth and have begun the process of assessing the lies we have previously believed in. We have stopped listening to the lie about Sunday vs. Sabbath and that we keep commandments to be saved. We have gone back to God’s definition of what is clean and unclean, what is kosher and what is not. We are in a process of having to learn our faith anew. We are finding out that the Torah was given to the native born Israelite and to the alien and sojourner who believes in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We are learning that the true descendants of Abraham are those who are the “children of promise” whose faith is like Abraham’s. We are learning that some religious Jews in Jerusalem taught precepts different than what Moses taught and the Church Fathers taught some precepts that are different from Yeshua the Messiah. They did so because they thought more highly of themselves than they should.

Many new Messianics are stunned to find out what the Bible really does say; they have never actually heard the teaching of the Torah before. Even within Messianic assemblies today, some Messianics still have not heard the teaching of the Torah and the prophets. One of the most disturbing examples of this is the two-house teaching. Some Messianic Jews still hold to the ancient stereotype that there are only Jews and Gentiles in the world. So if anyone begins to explain the history of Israel pointing out that Abraham was a “Hebrew” not a Jew or that Moses was Hebrew from the tribe of Levi and not a Jew, they are puzzled. But they become downright incensed when you repeat the history of Israel and describe the Northern Kingdom called the House of Israel from the Southern Kingdom called the House of Judah and then suggest that God intends to bring back the House of Israel to be joined with the House of Judah at the end of the ages. That is just too much for them. That would mean that “non Jews” are part of what is defined as Israel. That would mean, just as the Apostle Paul said, the Gospel was preached to Abram when God promised that in His Seed, “all the families of the earth would be blessed” and be part of His kingdom.

I really believe that if we can stop denying the truth and stop lying to ourselves that we would not be so easily deceived by satan – that the truth would set us free.