Monday, February 25, 2013

Red Flags to Watch for in the Messianic and Natsari Movement

Red Flags to Watch for in the Messianic and Natsari Movement
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Among several external sources trying to exterminate and extinguish the rebirth of the Hebraic expression of the First Century Faith are:
·       The buy-out and monopolization of the Church of God denomination within Messianic styled ministries. Many Messianic ministries are funded or underwritten and thus owned by the Church of God.
·       The infiltration of Orthodox moles within the Messianic and Natsari movements promoting certain doctrines and concepts. Many such groups and their websites can be traced back to a single web IP address.

However, there is none more dangerous than the cultish fringes trying to destroy us from within.
The following are some red flags to watch for within Messianic and Natsari circles that if you see, RUN like Forest Gump!

Extremism is the first thing to watch for and the following are examples of such within our movements.
1.     Extreme usages of Hebrew words and the refusal to use their English equivalents.
2.     Promotion of their own version of Scripture, usually by the leader of the fringe or splinter movement that has not been subject to a board of translators and linguistic specialists.
3.     When the leader IS the Beyt Din (Ruling Body) OR he does not follow the decisions put forth by the ruling majority of his own Bet Din (Ruling Body).
4.     Focus on pet doctrines such as: Sacred Name, Calendar, Polygamy, etc.
5.     Focusing more on Jewish Tradition, Custom, Halacha, Rabbinic literature such as the Talmud or Mystic Literature such as the Kabblah and Zohar more than the Torah itself.
6.     Claiming they have secret knowledge and or doctrine no other movement has.
7.     Claiming they are the only legitimate expression of the Messianic and or Natsari movement.
8.     Frequent recantation of prophecies and or doctrines and the adoption of new or amended ones.
9.     Focusing on Race, Ethnicity, Circumcision, Genealogy and Tribal Affiliation within Israel. This COULD manifest itself in the guise of racism against Gentiles through Black Hebrewism, British Israelitism, Two House Movement, etc.
10.  Making one feel guilty or less than when one fails to keep certain Jewish traditions despite one being Torah Obedient.
11.  Unbalanced presentation of the Written and Living Torah (Yeshua).
12.  Trying to become indistinguishable from their non-believing Orthodox counterparts.
13.  Denial of the Messiahship and or Deity of Yeshua.
14.  Pagaphobia; making everything not Hebraic and or Jewish pagan. Falsely and ignorantly twisting linguistics and the etymology of words to say Jesus or the word God are pagan names and titles.
15.  Discouraging and or denying one relationships with family or friends not affiliated with them or the Messianic / Natsari movement.
16.  Using guilt and other forms of manipulation, to obtain money from followers
17.  Personally attacking ministries and ministers and not false teachings or doctrines they claim such ministries and ministers are promoting.
18.  If they tear down more than edify.
19.  Pressuring followers to wear certain clothes that falls outside the realm of Torah, like a certain robe, coat or hat.
20.  Forcing followers to forfeit worldly goods and personal property.
21.  Communal compound living that is not a legal Kibbutz and that denies or cuts of communication to the outside world.
22.  Any form of hate expressed in word or deed against any religious, ethnic, government or lifestyle group. We are to love the person but hate the sin.
23.  Focus on Eschatology (End of Days), and Conspiracy Theories more than Torah and Messiah.
24.  Claiming that they or their ministry are a manifestation or incarnation of a Supernatural, Divine or Biblical personage. For example that they are the two witnesses or their ministry is the Melchezedikian Priestly order, etc.
25.  Disorderly worship which bears the marks of sensuality or animalistic shamanism of ancient and or pagan cults.
26.  Refusal to answer questions on doctrine and Scripture.
27.  Insistence on accepting and adherence of their interpretation of Scripture without question.

This by no means is an exhaustive or complete list; it nonetheless touches on the main issues plaguing the Messianic and Natsari Movement today.

If you could say yes to anything on the list above in regards to a ministry and or minister you adhere to or follow. Then congratulations, you are likely involved in some form with a cult.

One of Webster’s definitions of a cult is as follows:

“A System of intense religious veneration of a particular person, idea, or object, especially considered spurious or irrational by traditional religious bodies.”

The list above simply gives greater clarity and specificity to Webster’s definition.

Ultimately the litmus test lies in the Written and Living Torah. Does what a particular Messianic  and or Natsari group line up with what is in the Written Torah and does this group attempt to walk such principles out in the footsteps of Messiah Yeshua? If you answer, “No”, then what you likely have is a cult on your hands.

Remember, just because one is standing in a garage doesn’t make of a car or a mechanic, likewise just because one claims to be a Messianic or a Natsari believer doesn’t mean they are one. We determine the validity of ones claim by the fruit they bear and hopefully this list will help you become a better “fruit inspector”.

Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Friday, February 22, 2013

Purim and the Pagan Names of Persia

Purim and the Pagan Names of Persia
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Just as many who come to the Messianic/Natsari faith take on new names to reflect ones new found faith; similarly when a conquering nation would submit a nation, the people of that vassal state would take on new names to reflect that the people are under “new management.” Also, this was done to symbolize the defeat of the defeated nation’s god(s), because back in the day, most names reflected the religion of that nation. For example; Daniel, Dan-El, meaning “God is my judge.” Or Eliyahu (Elijah) meaning, “Yahweh is my God.” It was not uncommon for a conquering nation to give new names to the people they captured, for Daniel and the Three Hebrew Children all wer given pagan names and it is by those names we know the three Hebrew young men; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.  Their Hebrew names were Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. Daniel was given the name Belteshazzar (Dan. 1:7).

Did you know that Esther, the Heroine of Purim is not a Hebrew name? It is actually a derivative of the name of the pagan goddess Ishtar. Her real name was Hadassah.  Hadassah means myrtle tree. Myrtle branches are used in the lulav and etrog bouquet we wave unto the L-RD during Sukkot. The Lulav and etrog represents the human body, each element a part of the body. The hadass leaves are shaped like eyes and represent the eyes. The four species of the lulav also represent a type of person. The hadass is and aromatic species and is representory of one who has good deeds. Indeed, Hadassah (Esther) had the eyes of the king, but she also had eyes to see the trouble around her and wisely took action by fasting and her good deed was risking her life to approach the king without being summoned.  What greater deed is there than self-sacrifice (John 15:13)!?

Ishtar, from where the name Esther derives, was the goddess of fertility, love and war. Esther won the love of King Ahauerus and was the catalyst that brought war to the kingdom, saving the Persian Jews, and allowing the Jewish people to survive and continue the perpetuation of their various lines as well as defeating Haman and bring his line to an end.  Esther’s actions fulfilled what her pagan name meant!

Names, whether pagan or Hebraic have prophetic meaning in a person’s life and their name will shape their life. For example Nabal was foolishly crass enough to snub David when he was on the run from King Saul and it cost Nabal his life, and indeed his name meant folly (I Sam. 25:25).  Solomon, means “son of Peace” and He was the peace child that brought back equilibrium between G-d and David as well as there was peace and prosperity during Solomon’s reign.

Ahasuerus, the king of our story, means “lion king,” which shows how he was seen by everyone and showed that he was a mighty conquering king not to be trifled with. And we see what happened to Haman when the king though Haman was trying to seduce Queen Esther right under his nose; he was hung (Esther 7:9-10). A lion, when attacking his prey to kill him immediately goes for the neck! Ahasuerus sure did live up to his name.

Haman was a descendant of Esau and Amalek, enemies of Israel. Israel was commanded to wipe out Amalek and his descendants but failed to do so and the Jewish people reaped the consequences of their disobedient as we read in the book of Esther (Deut. 25:19), for Haman, an Amalekite attempted to wipe out Israel!

Haman means magnificent, and indeed Haman was very vain and conceited and thought of himself so magnificent that everyone should bow in recognition of that magnificence. His name also means, “noisy tumult” and indeed he was always flapping his lips causing trouble where ever he went. And traditionally, during the reading of Esther, we make a noisy tumult in order to drown out his name.

Mordechai’s was named after the god Marduk, the god of war and order. Haman, meaning noisy tumult is symbolic of chaos and Mordechai/Marduk is all about order and hence the clash between the two! Also a warrior does not bow to someone just because one thinks there magnificent, the warrior will only bow to a superior, and Haman was anything but. Mordechai only bowed to the G-d of Israel, for He is supreme and worthy of a warriors worship and allegiance.

In Esther Rabbah 7:8 it says, “Haman said to the courtiers: ‘Tell him his ancestors bowed to my ancestor, for it says: ‘Joseph and Rachel… bowed down [to Esau] .’’ Mordechai replied: ‘But Benjamin was not born.’”

Mordechai was a descendant of Benjamin, who was prophetically represented by a wolf, a warrior of the woods and seeing as when Joseph and Rachel bowed before Esau, Benjamin was not born yet and so Mordechai’s descendants never bowed to Esau and his line and he wasn’t about to start.

You see, even when one is conquered one is not defeated.  And in order to attempt to wipe out Hebrew life, religion and culture the Persians gave the Jews pagan names, yet that was their downfall because they failed to see the prophetic significance in a name. By giving Hadassah the name Esther and Mordeerchai the name Marduk, the Persian were actually christening them warlords of the Hebrew people! God truly does work everything out for the good (Rom. 8:28).  

Chag Semeach Purim!
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

Monday, February 18, 2013

Serving the Savior in Sync with the Seasons

Serving the Savior in Sync with the Seasons
Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr and Moriah bat Shofar

It is one thing to move to the meat of a different drum and quite another to break dance while everyone is waltzing, or sunbathe when everyone else is ice skating!

We read in the first several chapters of Genesis how Adonai set the Universe and wound it up like a great clock and how everything moves in sync and precision; how our trip around the sun takes us through the seasons (Gen. 1:14). We were meant to move in harmony and unison with these celestial and cosmic movements.

It is ironic how mankind is the only creation of the Almighty that does not remain in its created station. We were created to be air breathing, land dwellers to till and cultivate the earth from which we sprang; but we are not fully content with that. We desire to expand our territory and exert our dominion over sea and air as well. We are the only ones of HaShem’s creations that attempts to conquer realms we were not created for. Mankind has created scuba gear to put or presence in the sea. We have no gills but we desire to conquer the oceans. We were not created with feathers and wings, but with hang gliders we too can soar with the birds above the treetops. We desire to walk on water like Yeshua (Jesus) and Kefa (Peter), so we invented ice-skates to mimic that feat. Why? Because we were created in the image of Almighty G-d and it is our way of taking dominion (Gen. 1:26-28). Taking dominion is one thing, but to live and operate contrary to nature is quite another. It’s one thing to domesticate, train and utilize wild horses, but we don’t produce offspring with them or eat hay and grass as they do!

So what am I saying!?

I am talking about how we live our lives according to the seasons. Many of us, despite our faith and freedom in Messiah, nonetheless live weak, weary and defeated lives. We are depressed and do not know why. For some reason we feel we are beating our head against a brick wall but can’t really say why. We feel stifled and out of step for some odd reason. We feel out of place, out of sync with something.


Because though we are created to have dominion over the earth and all that dwells in it, we sometimes think we are too far above nature to take cues from it. We fail to serve the LORD in sync with the seasons. Just look a King Solomon. Though a King, chosen by GOD from the Chosen People, Solomon allowed humble nature to be his teacher. The Proverbs are full of spiritual and practical lessons we can take from the insect, plant and animal kingdoms!

In the winter, plants cease to actively grow and produce flowers and fruit; the sap retreats deep within the tree and many animals crawl into their burrows and hibernate while other species relocate to warmer climates.  So why do we teach classes and have great evangelistic crusades? No! This is a season when the work is done. Do you ever see a farmer plan and plant his field in the dead of winter, in the midst of a blanket of snow? No! Why? Because the harvest season is over and planting season has yet to begin. It’s not the time to plant, its futile, the farmer will get no yield from such a foolish activity.

Just as nature turns inward, we too are to turn our thoughts and actions inward. It is a season of rest, contemplation and mediation. Just as some animals hibernate, it is a time to allow our Heavenly Father to download things in our spirit. It’s a time we take personal stock and inventory and confront things about ourselves we seen during the summer but were too busy to deal with. Just like the Maccabees of old it is time to cleanse our temples. Notice also there are no Major Biblical Festivals in in the winter only the minor holiday of Chanukah. It’s a season to sit at the Masters feet, like Mary (Luke 10) and soak it all in. It is a time for personal Bible study, to allow HaShem to be our teacher. Why?

So we can grow, so we can take the things He instilled in us during the winter and like sprouts and blossoms; grow and bring forth new life. Hibernating animals wake up and come alive with the nature around them. Many baby animals are born in the Spring and it is a season for El Shaddai to birth new life in us. Whether it be new teachings, ideas or ministries. It’s time to plant spiritual seed in others as many of us plant new seeds and bulbs in the ground. Nature seems to come alive and sing, it’s time for praise and worship gatherings. It’s the season of new life and freedom. After all, it was Spring when Israel left the bonds of Egyptian slavery behind and was birthed as a nation. It’s when Yeshua became our Passover sacrifice and rose from the dead and we resurrect with Him in the newness of life! It is a time to bring forth what our Father gave us during the dark, quite solemn days of winter. You’re not hibernating in Spring or trying to give birth in the winder are you?  

Summer is when things are in full swing, where we tend the seeds we planted in the spring. Where beavers build dams and predators hunt. It is a time spiritually when we are ministering, working for the Kingdom and working in His vineyard full force. This is when classes are taught, programs get underway, mission trips and crusades take place. This is when you weed, fertilize, water and prune the spiritual seeds you’ve sown in the spring. Summer is when wars are waged and battles are fought, physically and spiritually. It is not time to hibernate and meditate and do self-examinations. It is time for planning and the execution of those plans.

Soon, before you know it, there’s a nip in the air; animals shed their old mangy coats and grow thick new ones, trees put forth a new layer of forest litter; so too for us as we shed the old of the year from our lives and prepare for our winter of introspection.

In the fields, the harvest takes place and it’s time to reap what we worked all summer for; to reap the rewards of our labor and to enjoy its fruits. Even the fall Feast of Leviticus 23 reflect this also. It is time to congratulate one another on jobs well done. It is a time of maturation and discipleship. It is also a time of thanksgiving and praise and worship gatherings. It is time for homecomings and reunions and the celebration of family and friends. It is also a time to say our goodbyes as we prepare to spiritually hibernate for the winter.

Are you struggling spiritually? Is it because your spiritual service to the L-RD is out of sync with the seasons?