A Silent Message for the Day of Shouting

IMG_4364The teaching today is an important, and yet silent message for a day that is most often associated with making noise. This class is on the biblical instructions concerning a day that is called Yom Teruah. This ancient festival is mentioned two times in Scripture (Leviticus 23:23-25 & Numbers 29:1-6). It is mentioned nowhere else in the Bible. Ross sets forth to uncover insights into the meaning of this Festival of YHVH. He seeks to answer several questions related to this first day of the seventh month. What is Yom Teruah? When is it celebrated, and finally how is it to be kept? In this teaching, Ross carefully works through the two passages from the Torah that mention this festival and then he shares a message that is rarely discussed on what many have come to call the Festival of Trumpets. What is the silent message the Ross proclaimed on the day of “shouting?” You will not want to miss this teaching.


Yom Teruah – A Day Holy to Yehovah!

This is my favorite time of the year. We are entering into the 7th biblical month, a month called sacred by the first century Jewish historian Josephus.

The Bible refers to this season as the “turn of the year” in Exodus 34:22. It is a time to reflect on our deeds and to turn to God.

There is something quite moving about being in sync with God’s appointed times (moedim). They are listed in Leviticus 23. In the very first verse we learn that these are the “festivals of Yehovah.”

The Jewish people have kept these festivals since antiquity and have developed their own rich traditions around each of these. Christians are beginning to see the great value in studying them and incorporating them into their walk often as a way to be more like Jesus (Yeshua). These moedim clearly have meaning for anyone that seeks to adopt the ways of the Creator.

Beginning at sundown this evening, according to the Jewish calendar, we enter the 7th biblical month. The first day of the 7th month is known in the Bible as Yom Teruah, (a day of blasting, shouting), more commonly known as the Feast of Trumpets, and traditionally as Rosh HaShanah (or New Year’s day).

Anciently, the new month was determined based upon the sighting of the new moon (a thin crescent), while the modern Jewish calendar is determined by calculation. The subject of the Hebrew Calendar is a very interesting and hotly debated subject – but one that is quite rewarding. So whether you follow the Jewish calendar or prefer to spot the thin crescent moon in the sky with your own eyes, the time is fast approaching!

An Ancient Sermon delivered on Yom Teruah

The 8th chapter of Nehemiah contains a sermon that was preached on this very day (Yom Teruah) nearly 2,500 years ago!  It is there referred to as “a day Holy to Yehovah.” The Torah has two main references to this Festival (Leviticus 23:23-25 and Numbers 29:1-6). The key word for this particular holy day is the Hebrew word Teruah. It is from the root “rua’” which means to “raise a shout” and is often associated with a battle cry or with making a loud noise. The ram’s horn trumpet or shofar is often connected to this day of noise.

See the following passages for other examples of the word – Psalm 47, Psalm 66:1; Psalm 81:2; Psalm 100:1, and Joshua 6:5.

This coming Sabbath is called Shabbat Shuvah – the Sabbath of Repentance. From the 1st day of the 7th month, we enter a 10-day countdown towards Yom Kippur – the Day of Atonement. I would encourage all of you to examine yourself and seek to make mends. The gates of repentance are always open.

I pray that each of you will meditate on these things as we enter this Holy 7th month. Look for the new moon and when you see it, make some noise!

Shalom as we anxiously await Yom Teruah – the Day of Shouting!

Photo of the crescent moon was taken by my friend Glenn Judah.


Hear and Do!

900px-Cirrocumulus_to_AltocumulusThis week, Ross covers material contained within Torah readings Nitzavim and VaYelech – the two shortest readings in the entire cycle. He begins with the words of Israel’s ancient prophet Amos concerning a famine in the land; not a famine of bread and water, but a famine of hearing the words of God. Ross works through various passages in Deuteronomy related to the covenant and its relevance for hearers today. He stresses the importance of “hearing” and of “doing” the words of the covenant and points out that living a Torah life is possible today, contrary to teachings that suggest otherwise. The Torah is NOT in heaven, nor is it beyond the sea. It is in your mouth and in your heart to do it!


The Commanded Way

10wordsThis week’s teaching is from Torah Reading Ki Tetzay. It contains more commandments than any other Torah portion. The more than 70 commandments in this Torah reading cover a wide range of subjects, but Ross focuses his teaching on the underlying theme of keeping the commandments. He begins the class by speaking of an age old enemy known as Amalek and then relates that this enemy is fighting against the very Kingdom of God, a kingdom based upon justice and righteousness. Today, the enemies of the kingdom oppose “the way” of that holy kingdom, a way summed up in the commandments. They express this opposition by declaring that living by the commandments is legalistic, archaic, according to the flesh, etc. But this is in direct contradiction to the plain teaching of Scripture. Living the commanded way brings life, blessing and good. Ross shows that Torah living is a challenge, that it is not easy, but neither is it too difficult. You will not want to miss this teaching.


A Drunkard and a Glutton

400px-Maerten_de_Vos_-_Bruiloft_van_CanaAccording to the writers of Matthew and Luke, Jesus reports the following, “For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Luke 7:333-34; cf. Matthew 11:18-19)

What, if anything, does this tell us about the historical Jesus of Nazareth, reportedly from his own words? On the surface it would seem that at the least, John and Jesus had different eating and drinking habits. John was apparently the more ascetic and Jesus was perhaps a bit less disciplined of diet. Is this what the text seeks to convey? Are we to assume that Jesus ate and drank too much, earning him a reputation as a glutton and a drunkard? Certainly this is not the way his modern day followers think of him! Some would admit that he probably tasted of the fruit of the vine, but would never go so far as to suggest that he ever over indulged. In the well-known gospel account of the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12), it is recorded that Jesus performed a miracle in which he changed water into wine, but many have debated on whether or not the wine was fermented. Did Jesus either miraculously produce or consume fermented drink? And why, we might ask, would his enemies call him a glutton and a drunkard?

Perhaps the charge had nothing at all to do with his diet. The source of the name-calling can be shown to be the Torah of Moses and has more to do with a charge of rebellion against authority than with having too much to eat and drink.

Deuteronomy chapter twenty-one contains a passage that sheds light on our understanding of the charge against Jesus contained in the gospel accounts.

RSV Deuteronomy 21:18 “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they chastise him, will not give heed to them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, `This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard (zolel v’soveh).’ 21 Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

While we do not possess evidence from the gospels that his mother or father ever brought him before the elders of ‘his city’ with this claim. We do however meet from time to time with family confrontations in the gospels, most of which are explained as examples of hyper dedication on the part of Jesus to perform his father’s business[1].

The passage in question, according to the Hebrew text of Shem Tob’s Matthew[2], as well as the Du Tillet’s Hebrew Matthew[3] both read zolel v’soveh in accordance with Deuteronomy 21:20. It is preserved in such a way that it hardly remains noticeable as a direct link to the charge indicated in the Torah. Rather, we are inclined to take the charge of the unidentified ‘some’ as a scornful reference to Jesus’ eating habits. While the eating habits of Jesus were unlike those of his ascetic cousin John, the text in Matthew 11:19 is more likely referring to the prevalent view of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day that he was a rebel.

Perhaps there are other sayings preserved within the New Testament corpus that are yet to be uncovered that will shed new light on the views of the religious authorities concerning Jesus. While blasphemy is normally understood to be the motivator of several attempted ‘stonings’ of Jesus (Mark 16:64; Matthew 26:65-66; John 19:7; John 8:59; 10:31-33) perhaps there were other factors such as rebellion against religious authority that led the Jews to a negative appraisal of his self-proclaimed task.


[1] Luke records how Jesus remained in Jerusalem while his parents were returning home. This apparently caused some dispute with the young lad, who retorted, “Don’t you know that I am about my Father’s business?” One could also include various accounts scattered throughout the texts that show some disparity between Jesus and his close kin. Examples would include Mark 3:30-35 and similar texts such as John 2:4 etc.

[2] Howard, G. (1995). Hebrew gospel of Matthew (2nd ed.). Macon, GA: Mercer University Press.

[3] Trimm, J.S. (1990). B’sorot Matti, the good news according to Matthew from an old Hebrew manuscript. Hurst, TX: Hebrew / Aramaic New Testament Research Institute.