I think it was the year 2000 when I first heard someone quote Jeremiah 8:8 in order to say that something in Scripture had been corrupted by a lying scribe. I soon found out that anytime I’d go to a different Scripture, to try and show them their error, they’d just repeat the same about that text too: “Well that’s the lying pen of the scribes.”
What this abuse of Jeremiah amounts to is NOT trusting YHWH with all your heart, but instead leaning to YOUR OWN understanding. Any text this person liked, they’d quote authoritatively. Any text they didn’t like (that didn’t align with what they wanted) they’d again holler, “Lying pen of the scribes!” It was exhausting trying to reason with them, because they’d only accept texts that went along with their beliefs.
What this position on Jeremiah 8:8 leads to - consistently - is a denial of the authority of the entire Bible. I’ve seen people who went down this road eventually lose their faith entirely - you know why? Because that’s the consistent thing to do when you start peeling away texts with no manuscript authority to back you. There are certainly interpolations in Scripture, but we have to be able to show such through textual criticism. We can’t just make stuff up.
I’ve recently heard a couple fellows completely throw out the entire Torah available to us today, from Genesis to Deuteronomy. They claim that Moshe wrote a real Torah, but we don’t have that one anymore. They do this predominantly because they don’t like animal sacrifices, and the Torah we have speaks so much in favor of them, they end up throwing it all out.
They then quote texts in Jeremiah, 2 Esdras, and some from the gospel of Matthew; texts which they believe are in their favor. But guess what? They don’t even consider it a possibility that these texts are the lying pen of the scribes. Why? Because that’s the texts they want to use. If they want a text, good scribe. If they don’t want a text, bad scribe. It’s so awful.
If we slow down and exegete Jeremiah 8 properly, it’s not even saying that the scribes changed the Torah. It’s actually a condemnation of *people* who try to get around the Torah by *claiming* scribal lies.
If you back up just a bit, 8:5 speaks of back-slidden Jerusalem, 8:6 says no man repented of his wickedness, and 8:7 says the people don’t know the judgment of YHWH.
With this context, the key to 8:8 is right at the beginning of the verse. The prophet asks the people “How do *YE* say,” and then he goes on to quote what the backsliders are saying. It’s not YHWH saying the scribes are lying. It’s not the prophet saying the scribes are lying. It’s the unrepentant back-sliders that speak of the lying pen of the scribes.
The unrepentant are claiming, “The law of YHWH is with us! The pen of the scribes is in vain!” They are trying to circumvent what is written by the scribes by claiming they have the truth and they are the authority. They say they have the law of YHWH, because they don’t want to go by what’s been written.
So the present-day people that are trying to use this text in Jeremiah to get around the Torah (that we have today) are actually condemned by this very text. They are saying the same thing the back-sliders said way back then.
I’ve seen this so much in my walk over the years. Some people get just enough information to hurt themselves, but they don’t know how to handle the Scriptures properly. They have something in their own mind or heart that they want to believe, so they twist the Scriptures to go along with what they want. They don’t love YHWH enough to trust His instructions and let His Torah change their heart and mind. It’s very sad.
I’ve watched many of these same people veer off into believing pretty much nothing. They eventually stop serving YHWH, and just live their own life and do what they want to do. They have no stability and they wander from doctrine to doctrine like a spiritual vagabond.
If you ever hear someone try to quote Jeremiah 8:8 in an attempt to discredit a Scripture, you are listening to a person why doesn’t want to submit to YHWH. They may say they do, but they’re no different than the people who say “Lord, Lord,” but at the same time practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23). You do not love YHWH by trashing His word. That’s how you hate YHWH.
PENTECOST SERMON (preached in 2020) “We Need More Moses”
We are here today, not only because it is the weekly Sabbath, but because it is a Feast Day Sabbath. Today we celebrate Pentecost, or in Hebrew Shavuot (meaning weeks).
This sounds strange to most people in the world, because most people in the world that follow Holy Scripture have already celebrated this day about 50 days ago in the spring time. We are here celebrating it in the summer. We have our reasons, they have theirs, and I’m not here to speak down on anyone who sets their heart to follow the Most High, even if they see a festival calculation a little different than me. I thought about re-teaching my sermons on the count to Pentecost, but I decided not to this year. Maybe next year, but those sermons are online for anyone to listen to.
My focus today will be on one aspect of this Feast, and that is: it is a memorial of the giving of the law to prophet Moses.
How Great Moses Was, and Is
In Exodus 31, after Moses had spent about 40 days with Yahweh, fasting from both food and water, Yahweh handed to him two stones. Exodus 31:18 says:
When He finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, He gave him the two tablets of the testimony, stone tablets inscribed by the finger of Elohim.
Prophet Moses had been up on the Mountain since Exodus 24. No other human was with him. He spent time all alone with Yahweh, and Yahweh was speaking to Him, like a man speaks with his friend. Moses was not spending his time eating, or even thinking about anything carnal. He communed with Yahweh.
In Numbers 12:6-9, Yahweh says this about Moses:
Listen to what I say: If there is a prophet among you from Yahweh, I make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. (7) Not so with My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My household. I speak with him directly, openly, and not in riddles; he sees the form of Yahweh. So why were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses? (9) Yahweh’s anger burned against them, and he left.
Moses wasn’t an ordinary man. Yahweh had a special relationship with him. He was a chosen vessel. To disrespect Moses was to disrespect Yahweh, and to believe in Yahweh included believing in Moses.
In Exodus 14, Moses led the children of Israel through the Red Sea. You know the account. After the Israelites went through on dry ground, and the Egyptians were drowned in the sea when they tried to cross that same dry ground, Exodus 14:31 says this:
When Israel saw the great power that Yahweh used against the Egyptians, the people feared Yahweh and believed in Him and in His servant Moses.
One word - believed - is ascribed to an action the people had towards both Yahweh and Moses. You could not believe in Yahweh without believing in Moses, because He was Yahweh’s man; Yahweh chose Him to be their deliverer. Yahweh sent Him down to Egypt to rescue His people from slavery. And as I mentioned a moment ago, Yahweh chose Moses to directly hand his law to, and give that law to the rest of the people of Israel. And he did so at the time of Pentecost, which is why this Feast is held as a memorial of the giving of the law.
The Law of Moses
This is why, once we get to the book of Joshua, the law of Yahweh begins to be called the law of Moses. Joshua 8:32 says that Joshua wrote down a copy of the law of Moses on stone. In Joshua 23:6 Joshua tells the people to be courageous, and to keep all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, not turning to the right or the left.
King David called it the law of Moses in 1 Kings 2:3, Daniel called it the law of Moses when he prayed there in Daniel 9:13, and the prophet Malachi (4:4), in the last prophetic book of the Older Testament instructs us to:
Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
Yeshua the Messiah also refers to the law being from Moses. We see this by comparing Matthew and Mark’s account of the hand-washing dispute between he and the Pharisees.
In Matthew 15:3-4 Yeshua says, “And why do you break God’s commandment because of your tradition? For God said: Honor your father and your mother...”
Yet Mark records Yeshua as saying this (in Mark 7:9-10), “You completely invalidate God’s command in order to maintain your tradition. For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother...”
So who said the commandment? God or Moses? The gospel authors record Yeshua as using God and Moses interchangeably, because Moses had such a close relationship with the Almighty, and the Almighty gave his law through the agency of Moses.
In Matthew 23, Yeshua taught his disciples to obey what Moses said. He says there in verses 2-3, “The scribes and Pharisees are seated in the chair of Moses. Therefore do whatever they tell you and observe it. But don’t do what they do, because they don’t practice what they teach.” The chair of Moses comes from Exodus 18 where Moses would sit (think of sitting in a chair), and the people would come to him for judgment in regards to the law, and how to handle disputes among the community. In Exodus 18:16 Moses says, “I teach them the Almighty’s statutes and laws.” (As a side note, recognize that Exodus 18 is before the giving of the law in Exodus 20-40. Yahweh’s law existed before Mount Sinai.)
It’s possible that there was an actual seat that was in synagogues in the first century (when Yeshua lived) where elders would sit and explain the Torah to the congregation. Yeshua is telling us that when a scribe or Pharisee sits in Moses’ chair and explains Torah properly, the disciples of Yeshua are supposed to listen and do what they say to do. Why? Because they are explaining the law of Moses; the law Yahweh gave through His servant Moses.
The Law is Exalted
So this is a theme throughout Scripture. The law came through Moses, and the law is precious, priceless, more to be desired than gold, yea than much fine gold, sweeter than honey, and the honeycomb. Sometimes, the way I hear preachers talk, you’d think Psalms said, “Your law is like castor oil” instead of “Your law is sweeter than honey.” Or, “Your law is like plastic” instead of “Your law is like gold.”
In Scripture the law is exalted, and Moses is exalted. So today, we lift up both the law and prophet Moses. We are thankful for both the instructions Yahweh gave to us, and the prophet He used to give those instructions.
We say along with the Psalmist, in Psalm 106:23: “Yahweh would have destroyed them - if Moses His chosen one had not stood before Him in the breach to turn His wrath away from destroying them.”
Law of YAH vs. Law of Man
There are all kinds of laws in the world today. It seems like mayors and governors and presidents love making new laws, and enforcing new ordinances. But for the people of Yahweh, there is only one law; only one standard of righteousness. 10 basic commandments, with their respective statutes and judgments. We hold up that standard high today. We fly that flag of freedom today. Freedom from bondage and slavery. Freedom from tyranny. Freedom from sin. As Psalm 119:45 says, “I will walk at liberty for I seek Thy precepts.”
Never be ashamed of this law. Never be embarrassed by this law. Never be afraid to stand firm on what our Creator has said, and what Moses has written down. Men and women will come at you will all sorts of arguments. “That’s primitive. That’s archaic. That’s outdated. We know better now. We need advancement. We need improvement.” All those statements come from the minds of carnal men. Men who think they know more than the One who created them.
Psalm 19 says that the law of Yahweh is perfect. It needs no perfecting. It needs no additions or subtractions. It comes from the mind of the Eternal One, who knows us better than we know ourselves. It has stood the test of time. It is wise because it comes from the Wisest Being of all. It is just. It is fair. It is right. And when put into practice by individuals, families, societies, and nations, those entities run like a well-oiled machine.
Yahweh’s law brings peace to people. Psalm 119:165 even says, “Great peace have they who love Thy law.” It brings peace because it brings order. It brings peace because it brings justice. It brings peace because it punishes crime swiftly.
The Law Teaches Us
This law of Yahweh will make a man love his wife and make a woman love her husband. This law will make parents spend time with and raise their children, and talk about Yahweh’s ways to them when they sit in their house, or when they walk down the road. This law will make you set aside time for Yahweh, a whole day each week, and special times each month and year.
This law will make you give to the poor, and look out for the widows and the fatherless. This law will make you have compassion on the deaf or blind person. This law will make you respect the land Yahweh gives you, in giving the land rest. This law will make you respect even your animals, treating them with care and kindness.
The Problem is Us, not the Law
These are all things taught in this law, but many today say has been done away with and nailed to the cross of Messiah. They get that from Colossians 2:14, but it’s such a bad reading of that text. In context it is not the law that was nailed to the cross, but our sins against the law - our record of debt - that was nailed to the cross.
The law is not the problem. The law has never been the problem. You and I are the problem; our sinful ways have always been the problem. Yeshua’s death wiped our slate clean. He blotted out the record of debt that was against us.
We don’t need to change the law, we need to be changed. We are the ones who need new hearts and new minds. We are the ones who need to repent and walk in another direction. We are the ones who need cleaning. Yeshua said that from within, out of people’s hearts come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, greed, blasphemy, pride, and foolishness. That comes from your own natural heart. That’s why Yahweh has to give you a new heart.
When King David sinned against the Almighty, the law was there, and it showed and told David the way to live, but he disobeyed. He then recognized that the problem was with him. He didn’t pray, “Create a new law O Yahweh.” He prayed, “Create in me a clean heart.”
We Need More Moses
We don’t need to forget Moses today. We need to remember Moses. We don’t need less Moses. We need more Moses. Yeshua never said one negative word about Moses or the law of Moses.
Yeshua of Nazareth is the prophet like Moses that Yahweh raised up from among the brethren, according to Acts 3:22-26. A prophet like Moses is used there because Moses was a good prophet; a chosen vessel, through which the holy law came. Away with all this nonsense that says we don’t need Moses anymore. That came from later Christianity, not the early Messianic assembly.
Final Exhortation (Success)
Just as Yahweh sent Moses down from the mountain with His law for the children of Israel (to be a light to the world), back in Exodus 31 and 32, He is sending us His law today in written form. He is giving us His law and telling us: I set before you today life and death, blessing and cursing. CHOOSE LIFE, so that you and your descendants may live.
Yahweh spoke through Joshua in Joshua 1:7-8 “Above all, be strong and very courageous to carefully observe the whole instruction My servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night, so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.”
There’s the prosperity message. That doesn’t mean you won’t have to live life like the rest of humanity. Life has its bumps, bruises, and problems for all of us. But it does mean that your life will be much more peaceful, prosperous, and successful, if you follow Yahweh. If you observe the instructions given through His servant Moses.
Thank Him today for His law. We are here today because of His law. Never speak evil of it. Always keep it. Protect it as you would the pupil of your eye. Show Yahweh you love Him. Keep His commandments.
There’s been a lot said concerning race, racism, racial injustice, and many more associated topics in the last few weeks. I’ve been discouraged by some of the things that have been going around, but I’ve been encouraged by others. I’m glad it’s getting talked about. It makes people feel uncomfortable, but that’s a good thing. Uncomfortable conversations lead to change.
I didn’t see racism growing up, because I wasn’t raised by racist parents. I was taught against it as a child, even though I didn’t really know what all was being said. I just heard my parents telling me to love everyone, and treat everyone like you want to be treated. They told me not to look at the color of someone’s skin but at the content of their character, or something like that. I realize today people are saying not to be color-blind, but back then (in the 80’s and 90’s) my parents meant the same thing. They were just telling me to love everyone no matter what they looked like, and they practiced this. It was a great example.
I had a best friend in grade school named Devonte. He and I just clicked. That’s back when I was oblivious to most things in life. As a kid, you really don’t know what’s going on, you’re just having fun. Devonte and I got along great. I never saw him as “my black friend.” He was just my best friend who happened to be black. I didn’t know that was a strange thing to some people. It was the 80’s, not far removed from what happened in the 50’s and 60’s, but again, I had no clue. I was just a kid who had a best friend.
Fast forward to high school. Basketball was my life. I played for a small, Christian school in Georgia, mostly unknown, but I didn’t care. We had a good program, good coach, practices throughout the week, and Friday night games. We had one black guy on our team, Jemia, a super nice fellow and friend to me. He and I got along great, and he‘d come over to my house sometimes to hang out. We were friends who enjoyed each other’s company. I didn’t really see this friend as black either. It wasn’t because I was trying to overlook that, I was just raised to love everyone. My mind began to be awakened to the concept of racism during this time, but due to my upbringing, it was never an issue.
It wasn’t until I had grown up enough to understand more things in society and culture that I realized racism was a problem. Some people don’t think it’s a problem, and if we’re talking about racially motivated fights and riots in my home town, I haven’t seen much of that. From the late 90’s till now I have ventured out into my city and the surrounding area most days for work, and people interact with each other without there being a big issue among blacks and whites (and other ethnicities) in the community.
Here’s the problem though. Racism exists in private, at least around here, much more than it does in public. Someone cuts a white guy off in traffic, and he mumbles, “They’re probably black.” Someone gets a cashier at the gas station who is tired and stressed out from a long day of work, that cashier happens to be black, and the customer thinks that’s the reason they weren’t nice to them. Or, someone decides not to go into a certain line at Home Depot because a black person is running the counter.
Many white people will immediately go, “What about black racists?!” I’m not black, I’m white, so I’m trying to look at me and those that look like me. I’m trying to better myself, and get those who look like I do to start thinking.
I know for certain all of this happens, because each of these examples have been me at one time or another. As an adult, I began listening to more racist ideologies, and they began rubbing off on me. I wasn’t taught that way, and I had really never even heard of such things growing up, but they existed.
For me it began by looking into a concept known as the Christian Identity Movement. A group of Bible believers who claim that the Anglo-Saxon peoples of the earth are the true descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and that the modern day Jews in Israel are either (1) imposters from another ancestry, or (2) the seed of Satan from the garden of Eden. I never accepted the serpent seed doctrine, but I did (for a time) believe the other.
There were so many racist people that I met in this movement. Some to a high degree and others to a low degree. I still remember a high degree racist (just after he played a song on a radio program that talked about a “big-black-spook”) saying in a conversation that he would “still change a tire for a black woman that was broke down on the side of the road,” as though that okayed his belief system. Maybe it gave him some solace in his way of thinking, I don’t know, but that just stands out to me.
This guy and others like him invited me on a radio program to talk about another subject in the Bible. It felt weird but I went on anyhow. During the conversation there were some racist things said. I didn’t say anything on that subject myself, but my heart was hard at the time, and I told them in private that I agreed with what they were saying. Something deep down inside me told me I was wrong, but I ignored it. It makes me embarrassed and sad now.
I never got into the open, militant, racist stuff. It always made me uncomfortable. But I did get into the idea that white people are the superior race, and the other races were created as less, or may have even been classified as something other than human. It’s not easy for me to type this out now that I’ve been delivered from this way of thinking, but I have to in order for my testimony to be true and impactful. I actually believed this way at one time.
This part of my life started from about 2003 and lasted till around 2012. It didn’t start all at once, but it increased as time moved on. It didn’t stop all at once either. I’ll talk more about that later.
During this time I would tell my young children, “Be nice to black people, but don’t make close friends with them.” Or, “if one of them tries to get to close to you come and tell daddy.” I put those thoughts in my children’s heads, because of my studies in the White Identity Movement. I began to think that we were special, simply because of the color of our skin.
The entire time I believed this way there was a battle going on in my mind. The battle existed because I would still run into black believers that I liked to be around, and I would treat them one way to their face, but believe things in my mind and say things in private to others that were contrary to the way I was acting. I might make a joke in private, or even use the word nigger casually to describe something a black person did to me that day. Yet, when I’d meet up in town with a black person I liked, I’d treat them kindly and with respect. I think it stemmed from my upbringing. How I was raised impacted me greatly, and I never could let go of the love I had for people, for the simple reason that they were people.
So... I lived this way. Some days it was heavy, other days it was light. Some days I would blame all the world’s problems on black people. Other days I would lay down at night wondering why I felt the way I did, and ask myself if I should change. But I’d dig myself deeper into this racist ideology, so deep at one time that I didn’t think there was a way out.
I think what some white people have done is gone to the Bible with their prejudice already in place, and then searched for Bible verses to back up their preconceived notion. I’ve preached on this use of the Bible before, where people don’t really believe what the Bible teaches; they already have what they want to believe in place, but they want the Bible to justify it. And it’s not that hard to do if you take a few verses out of context, paste them together, and come up with something that makes your flesh feel better.
I could hide my feelings pretty good. I could do a job for a black person and act cordial and smile, but the entire time I’d be waiting for them to do something wrong. The weird thing is that part of me didn’t want to be this way, but I kept smothering that part for some reason. It was my pride that made me do it. I was too proud to admit my wrong, and change.
The first step in healing from a sin is to admit that you have a problem. If you never admit it, get it out in the open, confess it, and openly repent, the healing process will never take place. I’ve heard people saying something like this, “Well, I’m not racist, but...” What comes after is low-key or sometimes high-key racism. It’s like when someone starts a statement by saying, “With all due respect,” you know that the next thing that comes out of their mouth is going to be disrespectful. These are statements that come from us when we aren’t fully willing to let go of our sin because of pride. Pride keeps us from saying, “I’m sorry. I have sinned. I’ve done something terribly wrong.” We want to save face, because we hate admitting we are flawed.
If I want Yahweh to forgive me, the Scripture is clear that I have to admit my sin, confess my sin, and repent of my sin. If I don’t do those things, Yahweh will not forgive me. His hand is there waiting to pick me up, but my unrepentant sin separates me from having a relationship with Him. If I confess my sins, He is there with open arms waiting to give me a hug and say, “You are forgiven my child, no strings attached.” He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but he that confesses and forsakes his sin shall find mercy.
So what changed me? How was I delivered from racism? First of all, I do believe this is a sin that people need deliverance from. It’s like alcohol or drug addiction. If you’re an alcoholic, you’ll be the last person to admit it. You will tell people you don’t have a problem. You’ll cover it up. You’ll be in denial, all because you want to continue to do what you want to do. It’s no different with racism. People don’t want to give it up. It’s a drug that even in private makes them feel superior about themselves.
What changed me was of course Yahweh, but he used certain people, and a New Testament epistle to do it.
So much changed in my life in 2012. I look back now and think about how I was 30 years old when 2012 began. That’s the age the Aaronic priests began their ministerial duties and that’s the age our Messiah began his ministry. I began ministering when I was in my early 20’s, and even some in my teenage years. If I had it to do over again, I’d patiently wait until I was at least 30. I now see that my brain was still developing, and I was still learning about life. I had my fifth child shortly before this time, and I was beginning to understand some things I had never seen before.
During this time, Yahweh was gracious to me by allowing me to deal with certain sins in my life I had been ignoring. He could have taken me out and been just, but He chose to instead show mercy. He did not deal with me as my sins deserved. I went on a seven day fast around this time, did a lot of repenting, and wrote a song about mercy. It was one of those great spiritual awakening times in my life, and one of things He dealt with me about was my racism. I began to change because He began to change me.
In 2013 I had the opportunity to go on live television and talk about a book I had wrote titled, “Learning to Love His Law - Training our Minds to Think like the Creator.” This was on a local station to Atlanta, and the program was called “Atlanta Live.” I had actually sang on that station before, and I had watched other interviews being done live with other authors and speakers.
My dear friend TJ Martin went with me for the interview. TJ was my next door neighbor for around 10 years, and is still my best friend and the person I enjoy discussing Scripture with the most. TJ and I have a long story to tell about our friendship to start with, but that’s another post, lol. I had asked him to go with me, and he was excited to go. We both loved talking about Biblical law, but I was nervous, so TJ was a great support.
When I walked into the station, I expected to see the man that normally did the interviews. I can’t remember his name now, but he was a short, red-headed, white fellow. He’s the one I had coordinated it all with. I didn’t see him at first, but then he walked out and started talking to all those who’d be singing or speaking that night. He walked up to me and started telling me who would be interviewing me. He pointed over to a black lady and said, “Her name is Cherise.” I don’t know if I’m spelling that right, but that’s how I remember her name. I smiled, and thought, “Okay Yahweh, I see what you are doing.”
When I sat down with Cherise on live camera I felt peace. She was so friendly to me, both on and off camera. She had a big smile that just lit up her face while I was explaining the Scriptures, and the content of my book. I was talking so fast at one time that she made a facial expression that came across like, “Where in the world is all this information coming from?” Hahaha... It was a great 15 minutes or so. The best part about it for me though was that Cherise ministered to me in a way that she knew not of. She may never know it, but Yahweh knows. She helped open up my heart.
After the interview, I had another lady (that was there that night to sing I think) pull me to the side and tell me she wanted me to come and teach at the church she ministered in. She told me she had never heard teaching like that before, and she was amazed and felt the Holy Spirit through it. She too was a black lady, and was so kind to me. The thing is, I don’t remember anything else she said, because all I could think about was two super friendly black women who listened intently to me as I explained the Scriptures, and treated me with nothing but respect. I didn’t say anything about this to TJ on the ride home, and I’ve never said anything about this to anyone until now. The live TV interview that I went to do to help others was actually orchestrated by the Almighty to help me.
After that I began noticing all the nice, kind black people I had never noticed before. I meet a lot of different people in my line of work, so this is something that had been going on for years, but my heart was hard to it. I would only see the mean, black people, but I never realized that they were just mean people, lol... it wasn’t because they were black. Some of the best customers I have are black, and they keep using me for service because they like me and the quality of work I give. I’ve built up some good relationships with my black customers over the last 7 years, and I just love this!
Okay, let’s fast forward now to late 2015, when I began studying the book of Galatians. I didn’t start preaching on Galatians until 2017, but I began looking at it towards the end of 2015, and got deep into it through 2016. My reason was that I had so many believers in the Torah Community ask me questions about Galatians. I knew that one day I would teach through it, but I knew it would be a task. Some task it was. I ended up teaching around 60 sermons and writing hundreds of pages of notes. I breathed, ate, and slept Galatians for a while. It was all I thought about at times.
Through my studies I would read, re-read, and cross-reference this epistle. I also had several commentaries I’d comb through as well, from all kinds of angles. I always tell people that it never does you any good to just listen to people who agree with you. You learn by listening to people who don’t agree with you, and seeing where they are coming from. Through the process you’ll either change for the better, broaden your scope, or fine-tune your position.
I was listening to a teaching on Galatians while mowing my grass one day. It takes me 4-5 hours to mow and weed-eat my property, so this is prime-time podcast or sermon time. I still remember where I was at in my yard when I heard a Pastor say something that made me pause. I stopped the recording, cut off the blade, turned down the motor, and just sat there idling. After a few seconds I shook my head in disbelief. I couldn’t believe that Galatians dealt heavily with the area Yahweh had been working on in my life. I was focused on law and grace (which Galatians does deal with), but I didn’t realize that this epistle had so much to teach me about prejudice and ethnicity.
I’m not going to repeat all my notes here in this post; you are welcome to go listen to my sermons. Let me just say that Galatians 3:27-29 is the hub of the book. That’s the one section that explains the book better than any other verses therein. The main issue in Galatia was that there were Jewish believers that did not believe Gentiles could have salvation, or the same status as they, because of their ethnicity and upbringing. The only way they believed a heathen could be saved was through proselytizing to become a Jew; changing their ethnicity so to speak. Many people don’t ever see this, because they just read a few verses here and there, and don’t spend time studying the cultural context of the epistle, or its entirety.
This changed my whole life. I began to see things I had never seen before, and I began reading the Bible with fresh eyes. Instead of reading to try to prove something I wanted to be true, I started to read to understand what was true. I’d done this before on other subjects, but this was a big one for me because I was being delivered from a sin that I at one time didn’t want to admit I had: hatred and prejudice towards a people group because of their skin color. It was an exciting time in my life, and continued to be the entire time I taught through Galatians. My first lesson was in May of 2017. My last lesson was in February of 2020. I took breaks here and there, but that’s how long I continued to study this epistle.
In July of 2018 I began getting into the section of Galatians I mentioned above. I spent four sermons on Galatians 3:26-29, and on August 4, 2018 I taught a message that I titled: “Galatians Cured My Racism.” I was nervous, I was scared, I’d been fasting so I was weak, but I was ready to speak about my problem and deliverance in public. In several sermons up to that point I had dropped a few nuggets, but I hadn’t come out specifically about my change until I got to this section. There were a lot of people in our fellowship that day, and even some visitors. I didn’t know if people were going to hate me or love me. I cared about that, but I cared more about openly confessing my sin and repenting in front of my wife and children. I had put thoughts in my children’s minds that I shouldn’t have, and I wanted them to see that their daddy was sorry, and that Yahweh changed his heart. (Thankfully my wife was supportive of me as she has always been, through the good times and the bad times. Yahweh blessed me with the best woman on the planet.)
When you have small children, you don’t think much of them one day becoming adults. You live in the moment you are in at each time. That’s just how it happens. Even now as I have grandchildren I look at them the way they are. I don’t think about them being my age one day, but it will happen. The older your children get the more they will develop thinking skills. They’ll begin to see things they couldn’t see before, and they will begin to realize that their parents aren’t perfect. When they are little, they think you hung the moon. Once they get older, they see all the faults, frailties, and sins that exist in their parent.
One thing I’ve tried to do is spend a lot of time with my kids, and ask them to forgive me when I do something wrong or sin against them. Parenting is super-duper-hard, and we are called by Yahweh to train and discipline our children. But that doesn’t excuse our anger or harsh speech as adults. Sometimes we abuse our authority as a parent, and lash out at a child, causing more harm than good. There have been times when I’ve disciplined in anger, later realized it, and then apologized to my child, asking them to please forgive daddy. Well, in this particular sermon of 2018, I had grown children. I had two that had already gotten married, and then two more teenagers at home. I still had a 9 year old, but for the most part, my kids could see things now that they couldn’t see before, so I had to openly repent to show them I was serious.
I had already made my peace with Yahweh. I can’t remember an exact day, but it was sometime in 2015 when I got serious with it. It started around 2013 with Cherise, but I got intentional in 2015-2016. What a relief it was after I taught that sermon in 2018. It wasn’t long, only 20 minutes or so, but it felt like a lifetime when I was talking.
After the sermon I dismissed everyone in prayer. I had two people approach me that night telling me thank you; they had the same problem I had, and the sermon struck a chord with them. Others over the last two years have contacted me about the sermon too, expressing gratitude and telling me that they needed to hear it. Praise Yahweh for this confirmation.
In 2017 when I was preaching through Galatians, my sister-in-law found out she had cancer. Her name was Denise, and she was a great person. She loved Yahweh and had a heart for all people. Her and I would talk sometimes (after church or band rehearsal), and she would tell me about people she had met and witnessed to. Sometimes the people would be black people, and she’d tell me they were hungry for what she was testifying about. I hadn’t come full circle yet in being ready to share my testimony publicly, but I was soaking in what she was telling me. I even told her to keep up the good work. She inspired me in being so kind to everyone and not judging people by their outward appearance. She passed away in November of 2017.
On the way to her funeral I was praying and crying. I felt the Holy Spirit tug on my heart and I made a phone call to a black fellow I knew. I had mistreated this person in my life years ago. I had ignored texts and phone calls, all because I didn’t want to be around him, but he hadn’t done anything wrong to me. I had never told him I was sorry since Yahweh began to change my heart, so that day, on the way to the funeral, it was time. I called, he picked up.
Through tears I asked him to forgive me for how I had treated him in the past. He immediately forgave me and told me he looked up to me and I had always been nice to him. Ha... I had tried hard to put on a facade in the past, but I know how I had felt and what I had done. I explained some things to him, and it felt good to get it off my chest. My sister-in-law Denise was the cause of this. I had seen how she treated others that weren’t like her, and on the way to memorialize her life I was motivated to do the same. She wasn’t there in 2018 when I gave my repentance message, but I wished she could have heard it. There are things I had told her in the past that I wanted her to realize I was wrong about. I will see her again one day. Maybe I’ll get to tell her then.
Here we are today in 2020. So much is going on that breaks my heart. Racism still exists, and will continue to exist in the minds and hearts of people. I just heard some racism from someone a few weeks ago. I’m able to have compassion and approach those in this sin with gentleness, because I see myself there not too long ago. I try to plant good, little seeds in hateful hearts when I can, and I try to be intentional in how I interact with people of color now.
There are people who do not understand some of my actions, maybe because they haven’t been where I was, or maybe because they don’t want to understand. The other day, I went to a peaceful protest that supported black lives. I don’t belong to the Black Lives Matters Organization, and I don’t support all the things they stand for, but I can be for the cause without being for the organization. That shouldn’t be hard to grasp. I marched with everyone there that day, mostly black people, and I prayed for racial reconciliation while I marched. I cried. I repented again. I smiled at everyone. For me it was more open repentance. I feel bad for things I said and did in my past, so I’m trying to bring forth fruit now that is consistent with repentance. Repentance is not just asking for forgiveness and stopping the sin, it is also doing positive works the opposite of said sin. I want the black community to know I love them, and support them as my neighbor. I am trying to love everyone where they are at, because Yahweh loves me where I am at, and I am not yet as I should be. (Heck, I don’t believe in everything Target stands for either, but I don’t walk in there with a chip on my shoulder.)
I am seeing things now that I’ve never been able to see before. Yahweh has opened my heart in such a way that I am able to look at things through the eyes of other people. I want to somehow feel what they feel, even if a little. It’s been a blessing. I’m reading things I would have never read before, and I’m listening to Christian black men and women gently explain how they feel, and how we can help bring about change for them and the betterment of us all.
Last week I did a job for a lady in my home town. My son-in-law exited the work truck and went to talk to the customer while I made a couple phone calls. When I got out and walked up the driveway, I heard the lady (a black lady about my age) say something about her Mama going through a tough time right now because she lost her husband. This lady started crying right there in the drive-way, telling me she missed her daddy. I told this lady I was so sorry, and it hurt me that she was hurting. She kind of looked at me funny, and I think it was because I was just a random septic tank man that came to work on a problem they were having.
We worked on the septic tank, fixed a problem, showed the lady what was going on, and got to the end of the job. While I was writing the receipt I felt something tug on my mind and heart... “You need to talk with the lady who lost her husband and tell her that I love her. Go comfort her.” I don’t experience things like this much, so I wanted to shrug it off. Thankfully I didn’t ignore the Almighty. That’s who was talking to me.
I was around at the back door and I had the young lady sign the receipt. After I gave it to her I said, “Ma’am, can you please get your Mama. I’d like to speak to her.” She did, and a few seconds later this little, old black woman walked up to the door. You could tell she had been crying. Come to find out she had lost her husband two months ago and was still hurting and mourning. Her eyes looked tired from crying. She looked frail. She had been married for around 60 years.
I reached out and grabbed her hand and said, “Ma’am, I know you don’t know me, but the Lord has told me to give you a word from Him. He wants you to know that He loves you, cares about you, sees your tears, and has compassion on your pain.” This little old lady fell into my arms and cried on my chest uncontrollably. I continued through my own tears, “It’s okay to cry and mourn. The Lord understands. Don’t let anyone tell you to get over this. You spend as much time as you need to mourn your husband. I know he loved you and you loved him.” After she gained the strength to stand back up, she told me, “I talked to God this morning, and he told me someone was coming. He sent you.” I grabbed her hand again and looked her right in the eyes and said, “You are a beautiful person. You are special. I love you so much.” At that point her daughter behind her was crying too and told me she needed a hug, lol. We all hugged. Yahweh had sent me there for that reason, and the neat thing is that they didn’t realize it was part of the healing process for me.
I have been delivered from racism. I am not proud of my past, but I am excited about my future. I praise Yahweh for His work in my life. I take none of the credit. He put people in strategic places in my life. He opened up an epistle in His book to me. He sent me to a woman’s house. He‘s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be. I love all of you who have read this. You are all special. Please love your Creator, and love all of your neighbors.
My Atlanta Live Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4AEC43PoMk&t=857s
Galatians Cured My Racism: http://mnc.buzzsprout.com/17852/773218-609-galatians-cured-my-racism-gal-pt-39
Exodus 12:3, 5-6 (Darby Translation)
Speak unto all the assembly of Israel, saying, On the tenth of this month let them take themselves each a lamb, for a father's house, a lamb for a house... (5) Your lamb shall be without blemish, a yearling male; ye shall take it from the sheep, or from the goats. (6) And ye shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; and the whole congregation of the assembly of Israel shall kill it between the evenings.
THE WORKS OF PHILO
The Decalogue XXX.159
...and the day called by the Hebrews in their own tongue the Pasch on which the whole people sacrifice, every member of them, without waiting for the priests, because the law has granted to the whole nation one special day in every year the right of the priesthood and of performing the sacrifices themselves.
Special Laws 2.XXVII.145-146
After the New Moon comes the fourth feast, called the Crossing-feast, which the Hebrews in their native tongue call Pascha. In this festival many myriads of victims from noon till eventide are offered by the whole people, old and young alike, raised for that particular day to the dignity of the priesthood. For at other times the priests according to the ordinances of the law carry out both the public sacrifices and those offered by private individuals. But on this occasion the whole nation performs the sacred rites and acts as priest with pure hands and complete immunity. The reason for this is as follows: the festival is a reminder and thank-offering for that great migration from Egypt which was made by more than two millions of men and women in obedience to the oracles vouchsafed to them. Now at that time they had left a land brimful of inhumanity which made a practice of expelling strangers, and what was worst of all, assigned divine honours to irrational creatures, not merely domesticated animals, but even wild beasts. So exceedingly joyful were they that in their vast enthusiasm and impatient eagerness, they naturally enough sacrificed without waiting for the priest. This practice which on that occasion was the result of a spontaneous and instinctive emotion, was sanctioned by the law once in every year to remind them of their duty of thanksgiving. These are the facts as discovered by the study of ancient history.
Life of Moses II.224-225
In this month, about the fourteenth day, when the disc of the moon is becoming full, is held the commemoration of the crossing, a public festival called in Hebrew Pasch, on which the victims are not brought to the altar by the laity and sacrificed by the priests, but, as commanded by the law, the whole nation acts as priest, each individual bringing what he offers on his own behalf and dealing with it with his own hands. Now while all the rest of the people were joyful and cheerful, each feeling that he had the honour of priesthood, there were others passing this time in tears and sorrow.
QA on Exodus, Book 1.10
Now at other times the daily priests (chosen) from the people, being appointed for the slaughtering and taking care of them, performed the sacrifices. But at the Passover, here spoken of, the whole people together is honoured with the priesthood, for all of them act for themselves in the performance of the sacrifice. For what reason? Because, in the first place, it was the beginning of this kind of sacrifice, the Levites not yet having been elected to the priesthood nor a temple set up. And in the second place, because the Saviour and Liberator, Who alone leads out all men to freedom, deemed them (all) equally worthy of sharing in the priesthood and in freedom as well, since all who were of the same nation had given evidence of equal piety.
Blog by Matthew Janzen. Lover of Yahweh, Yeshua, my wife and 5 children. All else is commentary.