The Plight of the Hunger Striker Khader Adnan

Question: How can you support a country like Israel when they are letting that poor Palestinian die in their custody?

Answer: Shalom,

I can only assume that the “poor Palestinian” you are referring to is Khader Adnan, who, as of this writing, is 55 days into a hunger strike as mentioned in this news article.  This is the case that I will address.

Your question is based upon a false premise; that false premise being that Israel is in some way responsible for the plight of Khader Adnan.  Khader Adnan is currently hospitalized, and has been so for quite some time.  Khader Adnan did not ask for medical assistance, did not request request to be hospitalized, and is not financially responsible for the care that he is being given.  Israel took care of those things.  Khader Adnan has refused to eat, and that continuing act of self-starvation is the sole reason for his poor health.  The unrequested aid currently being rendered to Khader Adnan by Israel is quite likely the only reason that he is still alive.  Khader Adnan is an adult, and responsible for his own actions.  Khader Adnan is committing suicide, and should he continue to refuse nourishment that is freely available, when he dies, suicide will be the cause of his demise.

A hunger strike seldom fails to tug at the heart strings of many.  Khader Adnan’s hunger strike appears to have succeeded in this, or you would not be asking this question (and the U.N. Would not be rushing to “express concern”).  There are other questions, however, that are more pertinent to what is going on.

Should a parent give in to the demands of a child when that child is threatening to hold his or her breath until the child gets his or her way?

A hunger strike is the same type of action, only with far more serious consequences for the one who is refusing to eat than those for a child refusing to breath.

Should Israel (or any other nation) abandon its national principles and change its laws because an individual does not approve of them?

Such a lack of integrity would be fatal to any nation.  You like to do drugs and want them to be legal?… Stop eating for a month and you get your way.  You want the government to pay for your food and housing?…  Stop eating for a month and you get your way.  The enforcement of the laws of any nation rarely result in the incarcerated individual being happy about the situation.

Let us not forget that Khader Adnan is a former spokesman for Islamic Jihad, not just some random, innocent man on the street who was picked up without cause.  Khader Adnan is not being detained for being “Palestinian”, he was not arrested for being Muslim.  Khader Adnan has actively worked with an organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel and responsible for numerous terrorist attacks.

Khader Adnan’s hunger strike is a test of wills, and potentially a battle to the death.  There are only a few possible outcomes.  Khader Adnan can succeed in starving himself to death, in which case many will blame Israel for Khader Adnan’s actions and he will join a long list of phoney “martyrs”; Khader Adnan can realize the stupidity of his actions, start eating, and live, in which case he will proceed through the trial process that he is protesting and face possible imprisonment and probable rejection by his fellow terrorists; or Israel will cave in to the foolishness of his demands and in so doing announce to the world that its laws, its integrity, its safety, its defense, its principles mean nothing.

Khader Adnan is, in effect, holding a gun to his head and demanding that Israel commit suicide or he will pull the trigger.

Israel is not “letting that poor Palestinian die”; Israel is doing everything it can to preserve the life of Khader Adnan while maintaining its own integrity.

Clean and Unclean Part 1: An Overview

What is the whole “Clean and Unclean” thing about?

Shalom,

The Law can be divided into three portions; that pertaining to the relationship between man or mankind and the Lord, that pertaining to the relationship between man and his fellow man, and that pertaining to the relationship between man or mankind and the rest of the Lord’s creation.  “Clean and Unclean” refers to the Law(s) pertaining to our relationship with the rest of the Lord’s creation.

The Law deals with reconciliation.  As per the divisions mentioned above, this reconciliation is not simply between man and the Lord, but between man and his fellow man, and between man and the rest of the Lord’s creation.  When the Lord first created the heavens and the earth and all that were in them, these three relationships were in a harmony as perfect as the creation itself.  Reconciliation is about the restoration of the creation of the Lord and the relationships between the Lord, mankind and the rest of the Lord’s creation.  Just as the Law of transgression and sacrifice pertains to the relationship between mankind and the Lord, the Law regarding clean and unclean pertains to the relationship between mankind and the rest of the Lord’s creation.

Before the foolishness of Adam and Eve, the Lord was in authority over and fellowship with mankind, mankind was in fellowship with the Lord, fellowship with his fellow man, and had dominion in a position of stewardship over the rest of creation while creation provided all of the physical need of mankind.  When mankind stepped out from under the authority of the Lord through his violation of the dominion over and stewardship of creation, the Lord cursed his creation to remove creation from its position of providing for mankind which would have then been inappropriate considering mankind’s failure in stewardship.  This is where we are today: mankind in general is not in fellowship with the Lord, or keeping up with his duty as steward over creation, and creation no longer provides for mankind with mankind instead only being able to eat bread “with the sweat of his face”.  This is the underlying reason for the providence of the Lord which pertains to his people; creation will no longer provide for mankind until this heaven and earth have passed away (to be replaced with a new heaven and earth, without the curse), so the Lord himself provides for those who have been reconciled to him and placed back in their proper position of fellowship with the Lord, fellowship with other people of the Lord, and stewardship over that portion of creation wherein they dwell.

Adherence to the Law allows us to live our lives as closely as possible within this world to the way that they were meant to be lived thereby affording us the opportunity to live life to its fullest; having an amicable and beneficial relationship with the Lord and our fellow man, and reaping the full benefits of stewardship over the rest of the Lord’s creation.

Now that the stage is set, we can return to clean and unclean.  Just as other portions of the Law guide us in living our lives as the Lord intended them to be lived in regards to our relationship with the Lord and our fellow man, the Law pertaining to clean and unclean guides us, as much as is possible in this cursed, or “fallen”, world, in living our lives and maintaining our relationship with his creation as was intended from the beginning.  It is about being “in” this world, but not “of” this world.  While all of creation, including our own bodies, is in a fallen state and subject to death, disease and decay, the Law regarding clean and unclean guides us in not partaking of that death, disease and decay more than is needful.  Before the “fall” (I use quotes because mankind did not fall, but rather leaped to his death; but that is a discussion for another time), there was no death, no sexual reproduction (not needed when nothing dies and needs replacing), no disease, no consuming of animal flesh and no decay or decomposition; in short, no entropy.  All things that are a direct result of this entropy are therefore not as the Lord intended them to be (unclean), and when partaken of, represent a corruption of the proper relationship between mankind and the rest of the Lord’s creation.

Simply being “unclean” is not a sin, as evidenced by the requirement(s) for rectifying this unsavory situation; generally, wash with water, and at sundown, the beginning of the next day, you are “clean” again, although there are some forms of unclean that take longer and/or have other requirements specific to their nature.  This is quite different from being guilty of a sin, which requires the shedding of blood.  Also, it must be remembered that there are numerous commandments that the fulfillment of requires one to become unclean, and it is impossible to fulfill a commandment by committing a sin.  Another aspect of unclean that eliminates it from the category of sin, is that sin occurs in the heart and mind of the sinner through his knowledge and intent, while unclean and clean are purely physical and a person can be made to be unclean through the actions of someone else.  Sin does enter into the picture because being clean is a requirement for performing certain acts or fulfilling certain duties; when one participates in those actions which require the participant to be clean, he profanes them and it is a sin, but it is not the being unclean that is sinful, rather it is in the failure to act in accordance with the commandment of the Lord through which the action becomes sin.  We live in an unclean world, and striving to maintain a state of clean keeps this, and therefore the clean nature of the state of things that was in existence when creation was freshly completed, and will be again once reconciliation is complete, constantly in front of us.

Due to the extensive nature of the subject, I have divided “Clean and Unclean” into several parts. I will insert links for the following parts of this series as they are completed and posted.  The portions of Scripture which concern clean and unclean are also extensive, so I will endeavor to include links to the references and add such links on an ongoing basis as time permits.

What is reconciliation?

Question: What is reconciliation?

Answer: One of the definitions found in the dictionary for reconciliation is “the reestablishment of cordial relations”, I tend to prefer the “fixing what is wrong within a relationship” as it more clearly conveys what is going on within the process of reconciliation, and is easier for children to understand.

In the beginning, before the whole serpent-tree-disobedience-thing, there was a perfect relationship between the Lord, mankind, and the rest of creation.  The balance of this perfect relationship, with mankind in fellowship with the creator and stewardship over creation, and creation providing for mankind, was broken by man.  The entirety of Scripture is about reconciliation, fixing and restoring that perfect relationship between the Lord, mankind, and the rest of creation.

When reconciliation is brought up within a sermon, it is usually referring to solely the reconciliation between a man, or mankind in general, and the Lord.  The Law and the rest of Scripture deals not only with this narrow slice of reconciliation, but with reconciliation in all of its beauty and wonder; the reconciliation of all of creation back unto the Lord, as well as reconciliation between mankind and the rest of creation, and even reconciliation between man and his fellow man.

The Law illustrates the mechanics behind reconciliation, while the historical narrative illustrates how various components of reconciliation have played out in the lives of the characters portrayed as well as illustrating mankind’s progress as a whole along the pathway to complete reconciliation between the Lord, mankind and the rest of creation.

Two mothers?

Question:  How could Joseph’s mother bow down to him when she had already died before he had his dream about the sun, moon and stars?

Answer:  The mother referred to by Israel (Genesis 37:10) was Leah, not Rachel.

This question touches upon two issues; ancient Hebrew family structure, and just what all of those dead people are up to currently.  I will address the family structure issue here.  The issue of where dead people are and what they are up to is a lengthy one to cover fully and I am already working on an answer to a question about that (which will be published on this blog as a separate post).

In Scripture, many of the people effectively have two or three “mothers” (and multiple “fathers” on a couple occasions) because of the rules of inheritance and the structure of the families. Occasions when different people are listed as the mother for the same child are often listed by those seeking to prove the inaccurate nature of scripture, but the only thing that they succeed in establishing is their own foolishness and lack of education.

The head of the household is the “Father”, and his first wife is the “Mother”.

To illustrate this, we will take a look at an individual in scripture, Dan, who has four “mothers” and two “fathers”:

Bilhah gave birth to Dan (Genesis 30:5), making her Dan’s (birth-) mother. (Mother 1; birth mother)

However, Bilhah was given to Jacob (Father 1; birth father)

by Rachel, to bear children on her behalf (as a surrogate mother) for her husband (Genesis 30:3), so Rachel is accurate in claiming “mother” status when she names this child to whom Bilhah gave birth (Genesis 30: 6).  (Mother 2; adoptive mother)

Laban appropriately claims Jacob’s children for his own (Laban was the one who raised and provided for them in Jacob’s absence, making him the “father”), (Father 2; adoptive father)

which makes Laban’s wife, who is unnamed in Scripture, also Dan’s mother (Genesis 31:26-28). (Mother 3; adoptive mother)

And Leah was Jacob’s first wife, so when Jacob finally assumes responsibility for his family on the return to his homeland, Leah becomes the “mother” of all of the children.  (Mother 4; step-mother & adoptive mother)

Jacob separates his children by the mother of their births when meeting his brother Esau, and such was wholly inappropriate as they were all his children and none deserved to be given a higher position than any other.

While this can initially be difficult to wrap your mind around, we have much the same system today. Children today have birth-mothers, step-mothers, adoptive mothers and mothers-in-law.  All of whom can be correctly referred to as their “mother” without the additional information being tacked on.

We see a simpler version of this going on in the Life of the Messiah, for whom the Lord himself is the birth-father (Luke 1: 35), while Joseph, through marriage to his mother, is also his “father” (adoptive father, John 6:42).

So, whenever you see a dual listing for someone’s mother or father within Scripture, pause and see if there is enough information given for you to determine what the dual “mothers” or “fathers” would be called today.  When you do, you will probably see all of the parentage related “contradictions” that detractors are so fond of pointing out fade away into the category of “non-issue” where they belong.

If the Lord is so loving……

Question: If the lord love the little children, why are there so many starving, dying and abused children?

(please pardon the grammar, I have copied the question here exactly as it was sent to me)

Answer:  I was somewhat reticent about answering this one.  This is one of the top three questions asked by those seeking to make a mockery of someone else’s faith.  Unlike the other two, there is at least a possibility that this question was asked by someone honestly seeking an answer instead of someone seeking only to frustrate the one to whom the question was posed. So, while this is not exactly an original question, and often only posed to serve as a “gotcha” question, it does merit an answer.

The short version of the answer is : “Because those who are responsible for the care and safety of the children so afflicted are neglecting their duties.”

The complete answer takes a bit more ink…

First, it must be established that this question has, at its root, several false premises.  These can be uncovered by asking additional questions.  Do people die who are loved by the Lord?  Do people go hungry who are loved by the Lord? Do people suffer abuse who are loved by the lord?  As you can see through the simple expedient of picking up and reading a newspaper, all of these things happen to people who are loved by the Lord; if these things happen to anyone at all, they happen to someone who is loved by the Lord, and they are happening all over the world, to millions of people, not just children.

The first false premise is that a “loving” Lord would not allow the ones he loves to be hurt.  This is not the case any more than it is that children of loving parents are never injured.  The Lord loves everyone, and all people, adults and children, get hurt.  An assumption that the Lord would not allow someone to be hurt also assumes that the Lord is in control of and responsible for all that occurs in our lives.  He is not; we are. The Lord, creator of the heavens and the earth, is neither a tyrant nor a dictator.  Man has free will.  The Lord is NOT responsible for the actions of mankind; each and every one of us is responsible for our own actions.  Mankind was given stewardship over creation, that includes his fellow man.  WE are supposed to insure that these things do not happen, it is part of our job.  When these things happen, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

The second false premise is that the Lord is responsible for everything that occurs.  This question usually arises from someone who does not accept the reality of free will, or does not understand all that free will entails.  I myself have posed a similar question to my students during a class as a means of illustrating the foolishness of the doctrine of predestination and all of the subsequent “adjustments” that must be made to accommodate it.

The Lord gave us free will.  This was done out of necessity.  Obedience is not obedience in the absence of the possibility of disobedience.  Likewise, fellowship is not fellowship If the other person in the room with you is there because they are chained to the wall.  We are created for fellowship with each other, fellowship with the Lord, and stewardship over the rest of creation (stewardship is the “obedience” part).  None of this is possible without free will.  All of this is impossible with predestination.  The Lord guides us through his Spirit and his Word; he does not march us along as marionettes.  It is up to us to choose to do the right thing.

A portion of free will is that the Lord, having given us free will, does not violate it.

With free will, when abuse happens, we should weep all the more, for those who should have prevented that abuse did not.  Were predestination the case, when abuse happens, it is because a cruel, callous and hateful deity made it so.

The Lord loves all of his creation.  He loves all of creation so much that he has sought continually since the first portion of his creation turned away from him to reconcile all of creation back unto himself.  So great is his love for all of us that in his grace he allowed an other to die in our stead.  So great is his love that he gave us the Law to guide us, and Scripture to explain the pathway to reconciliation.  So great is his love that he gave us all the ability to choose.  So great is his love that he set in motion a mechanism to insure that none need ever suffer.  It is to our shame that many of us choose to stand by and do nothing while others choose to abuse those under their care.

It is not for failing of the love of the Lord that such injustice can occur, but for failure of us all to live within that love.

Under the Law?… or under Grace?

Question:  If you are really a Messianic Rabbi, why do you claim that we are still under the Law?

Answer: A better question would be: Why do you believe that we are NOT still under the Law when the Messiah himself said “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:18)?

The last time I looked around, the earth was still here.

Scripture is built line upon line and precept upon precept.  The only way that we can know with 100% certainty whether or not something is of the Lord is by holding it up and measuring it by his Word; if it is in agreement, it is of the Lord, if not, then it is simply the word of man.  This includes actions and statements recorded in Scripture.

In the second book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel, in chapter 33 of that book, there is an account of king Manasseh who made children to “pass through the fire”, set up an idol, built altars to false deities and generally behaved like a total idiot.  We know that all of these things were a bad idea and not of the Lord (even though they are recorded in Scripture) because all of them go directly against what the Lord has said.  The actions or words of a man being recorded in Scripture does not convey appropriateness or accuracy to those words or actions.

In many cases this is not a problem as the foolish actions or statements recorded are usually not things that have a great appeal to anyone who desires to serve the Lord. Problems arise, however, when the recorded folly of men is such that it appeals to believers.  Such is the case with the false concept that the sacrifice of the Messiah (or his resurrection, or his ascent… etc.), a sin offering, did away with or somehow fulfilled the Law in its entirety, thus releasing the people of the Lord from their responsibility in upholding the Law.  While we need no longer offer up a blood sacrifice for the remission of sin, as that sacrifice has already been made, the sin offering is only a portion of the Law.  Those who were reconciled to the Lord through the offering of a lamb or bullock still had to keep the rest of the law; the same applies to those who have been reconciled to the Lord through the offering of the Messiah.

When it comes to the question of Grace vs. the Law, the question itself is based upon a false premise.  It is by the grace of the Lord that we are afforded the opportunity to be reconciled to him through the Law instead of being eternally separated from him as a consequence of our rejection of his will. The consequence of sin is death (The soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ezekiel 18:20).  It is only the grace of the Lord that allows for this death to be that of other than the sinner.  We have been “under grace” since the fall of Adam and Eve; grace itself is a component of the Law.

The Lord instructed us to keep the Law. The Messiah told us that the Law would still be here until the passing of heaven and earth.  Why would I even consider following or spreading the teachings of any man who said otherwise?

The Problem with Abrogation

Shalom,

There is a need for people today to become familiar with the term “abrogation” insofar as how it relates to Scripture.  The principle of abrogation states that earlier revelations are superseded or nullified by later revelations that contradict them. For example; if there were an early portion of Scripture which clearly stated that eating chocolate was forbidden, and a later portion of Scripture which clearly stated that eating chocolate was needed for salvation, under the principle of abrogation the appropriate doctrinal stance is that the eating chocolate is a requirement, and the earlier portion of Scripture can be ignored as it is no longer valid.

There are several major problems with such a concept.  Should later “revelations” be held to replace earlier Scripture, there is no way to hold the speaker of such “new revelation” accountable; there is no way to prove the speaker’s words because they are against Scripture, and therefore no way to know if the speaker is truly speaking for the Lord.  Under the principle of abrogation, literally anyone can come along, claim to have a “new revelation” from the Lord, and promote it as the truth, no matter how great the difference between what the Lord has said, and this “new revelation”.

For us of the Judeo-Christian faith, abrogation serves as a big “red flag” letting us know that something is wrong.  Abrogation holds a host of unsavory implications.   Returning to the earlier example, there are only a few possible conclusions that can be arrived at (were abrogation a valid Scriptural principle), all of which are unacceptable:  the Lord got it wrong the first time; the Lord was lying when he made the first statement; or, should there be an accompanying statement about the earlier Scripture having been corrupted over the years, then the Lord is incompetent to maintain the integrity of his word.  Taking this into account, it is easy to see why Scripture is built line upon line, verse upon verse, with later portions of Scripture being constrained by the earlier portions of Scripture.  Were this scenario to have actually occurred, the correct Scriptural stance is that eating chocolate is forbidden, and whoever it was that said otherwise, later, was speaking against the Lord and this speaker’s words are recorded so that we will know this.

Scripture tells us that the Lord is unchanging; the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  His opinions do not change, his requirements for his people do not change, his purpose does not change.   It does not matter who says a thing, a Rabbi, a Pastor, a “Prophet”, a Preacher, an Apostle, a Theologian, a Pope, or just a man on the street; if their words do not line up with what Scripture has to say, it is not a message from the Lord.

Truly, “there is nothing new under the sun”.  The Messiah himself said that “Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one title shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled”…

…the earth was still here the last time I looked out my window.