Friday, October 30, 2015

Torah Trails #4 Vayera

Torah Trails
Rabbi Yehudah “Tochukwu” ben Shomeyr
Kristopher Shoemaker

#4 Vayera
Gen. 18:1-22:24
II Kings 4:1-37
Luke 17:26-37
Memory Verses: Gen. 21:5, 22:8, II Kings 4:2-6, Luke 24:51-53

Gen. 19
Abraham represents the simple life, but by no means the easy life. Simple in that he, with the help of his servants, worked the land and the livestock. Abraham was close to nature and thus close to creation and hence, close to God the Creator.

Lot represents the complicated, yet easy life. He hung up his shepherds crook, or left it to his servants and by the Hebrew language of Scripture, coupled with Jewish tradition we find Lot becomes politically involved in city life. He was close to man-made, fabricated things, enjoyed the convenience of “civilization” and was closer to man than God, closer to the image of God than God Himself! He lived so long in the city that we became out of touch with nature and thus God. The intricacies and complications and the hustle and bustle of city life muffled the voice and rhythms of God.  

Not saying city life is sinful, but one must work harder to maintain intimacy with God there, surrounded by man’s attempt to play God and create a world of their own. Suburbia has its own pitfalls and drawbacks but one seems to have the convenience of “city life” while enjoying a little nature, being situated between the two. Alone in the country where neighbors are miles apart you don’t have the noise, distractions and clutter of city, of suburbia that speaks louder than the “still small voice” of God.

We see governments attempt to abandon country life and to draw people into at least the suburbs, in order to keep tabs on everyone. However, there is coming a time in the not too distant future where we, like Lot will have to escape back into the wilderness. Lot ended up in a cave (19:30). For those of us dedicated to YHWH and His Torah and His Messiah, there may come a time where we will have to escape into the wilderness, away from the city in order to avoid godless carnal mobs (19:4-5) or divine judgment upon the wicked (19:23-23).

I’m not trying to be a dooms day prophet or conspirator, but we’ve all read the prophecies and know the necessity of fleeing into the wilderness is a real possibility (Matt. 24:17,18,20). Again, I am not preaching fear, but preparedness. My motives are not coming from a place of fear and doom, but of preparedness and foreknowledge.

Just as Messiah will return when things get as wicked as it was in Noah’s day (Matt. 24:37-38), we who are city dwellers or suburbanites should prepare like Noah. Even government recommends having supplies on hand in case of an emergency or natural disaster. At least have supplies in case of such an event, as well as “bug out” bags for the whole family ibn case one does have to “flee.”

II Kings 4:1-37
It’s always smart to be prepared, but even the best of human preparation falls short or will eventually run out and that is when our faith is tested and strengthened.

We see God providing for this poor widow and didn’t allow her bottle of oil to run dry until her and her sons were able to get out of debts and have some money left over to live on.

Also, recall the Prophet Elijah when the LORD told him to go off and live in the wilderness and the LORD caused ravens to fly in food for Elijah to eat.

When you’ve done your best, let God do the rest. Don’t be like the foolish virgins who didn’t prepare (Matt. 25).

Luke 17:26-37
Much of what is covered in these verses was covered in Matthew 24 and in my commentary of Gen. 19. So what I wish to point out quickly is the parts concerning being “taken” and being “left behind.”

In the vast majority of Evangelical Protestant Christianity we’ve been taught a Pre-Tribulation rapture of being “taken” away to God and being “left”, meaning one remains on earth after the Believers have been taken to suffer through the Tribulation. Sadly, and in all actuality, the opposite is true.

Who was “taken” in the Flood of Noah and who was “left behind”? Who was “taken” in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and who was “left behind”? The world, all humanity was “taken” by the Flood waters and Noah and his family were “left behind” in the safety of the Ark. The inhabitants of Sodom were “taken” in the fire and brimstone that rained down from heaven and Lot and his family (minus his wife), were “left” in the safety of the mountain cave.

“Abba YHWH Elohim, help us to be good managers of our time and resources and prepare for our families. Let us not bury our heads in the sand of denial only to wake up and be without. In Yeshua’s Name, Amen!”

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Torah Trails #3 Lekh L'kha

Torah Trails
Rabbi Yehudah “Tochukwu” ben Shomeyr
Kristopher Shoemaker

#3 Lekh L’kha
Gen. 12:1-17:27
Isa. 40:20-41:6
Rom. 3:19-5:6
Memory Verses: Gen. 12:1-3, Isa. 41:16, Romans 4:24-25

Gen. 12:1-3

Abraham was backwards from most of us. He seemingly had no fear of leaping into the unknown and unimaginable, but feared what he could see and imagine. That was his problem; he let his imagination run away with him. He had no qualms walking away from country and kin into the middle of literally “only God knows where” and drive his stakes down when God said, “Drive’em in Abe!” Yet he trembled at the thought, the possibility that people might kill him to get to his wife (Gen. 12:10-20). This was his Achilles heel, his weak spot, his button that the evil one know how and when to push. He had am issue with fear and passed it on to his son Isaac via a familiar generational spirit, for Isaac did the exact same thing his father did; lie for fear he would be killed because of his wife (Gen. 26:1-11). God had to tell Abraham not to fear (15:1) as well as Isaac (26:24). Make no mistake, fear is not just an emotion, it is a spirit!

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. II Tim. 1:7

Fear is a spirit that whispers in your ear in the first person making fear seem to be your own rational thoughts. You don’t need exposure therapy to conquer your fear, you don’t even need to face your fear necessarily. It’s a spirit, subject to Messiah Yeshua and can be rebuked and cast out once repentance has been made for giving into such a spirit (II Cor. 10:4-5).

In the Haftarah Portion Isaiah proclaims the All Powerful might of our God and in Messiah Yeshua we have access to that power! Fear has no chance to stand against it!

Romans speaks of faith. Faith and fear are the 2 sides of the same coin. Both making declarations and both demanding fulfillment and both requiring belief to cause and allow them to come to pass. Bottom line is that the choice is ours, whether we choose Fear or Faith. Choose Faith.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Heb. 11:1

“Abba YHWH Elohim, Expose any and every part of our lives where fear maybe trying to infiltrate, influence and hi-jack our being, so that we may repent, recognize, renounce, rebuke and cast out into the dry place, the spirit of fear, so we can be free and therefore give glory and honor to you. In Yeshua’s Name, Amen!”

Monday, October 19, 2015

Love me or Hate me, Take me or Leave me

Love me or Hate me, Take me or Leave me

Kristopher S. Shoemaker
R. Yehudah “Tochukwu” ben Shomeyr

Guess I was born to be an outcast and that’s okay. I wouldn’t change that for anything. Even with all the negativity and criticism coming at me from multiple fronts, from secular, Christian, Jewish and Messianic circles. Persecution from secular sources is a given, Yeshua said we would be hated, so when I get the business from the world it doesn’t really bother me. Even as a Christian I was different from the majority and I grew a though skin real quick and learned to stand up for myself against the Protestant Evangelicals. As a Messianic I pretty much walked the line, became a Rabbi and tried to meet the demands of expression projected upon me from the community, but honestly, though I was happy in the Torah and happy in Messiah I was miserable in the community and wanted to erase the first decade I began my Messianic walk. I felt all eyes upon me and the demand to meet the various expectations unspoken, yet nonetheless put upon me by the community. Hiding the real me, editing and doctoring my online posts and photos, being a downright poser, just to make others happy and keep me from a repeat of the confrontations and grief I experienced in Christianity.
Then I just got tired of denying and supressing who God created and called me to be. I took a risk and posted one of my tattoos on social media and quickly discovered who my real friends and family were and who the Messianic Pharisees with stones were in hand, cocked and ready to throw. At least I got to clean up my “friends” list.

Some concerned brothers and sisters saw my tats, 6 gauge holes in my lobes and my friendly mutton chops and after dispelling the supposed Torah prohibitions against such things ( others said that it’s not what Yeshua would do, so they wouldn’t do it and advise that I shouldn’t do it.

Yeah, likely so, but I’m not Yeshua. I mean, I get the whole, “What would Jesus do?” or “Do what Yeshua Did” thing, sure, that’s talking about Torah Obedience. I take no issue with that, I’m down with that. But on the human side of Messiah Yeshua, He had a personality with character, tastes, and preferences and so, would Yeshua wear a Rolex? Likely not, but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. Would Yeshua marry a pagan temple prostitute and have children by her like the Prophet Hosea did and was actually called by God to do? Or would He walk about naked for days as one of the other prophets had done? No, because He wasn’t called to do those things. Would He get inked or piercings? Probably not, not because it was “wrong” per se, but because that wasn’t His personality type or calling. We’re all of YHWH’s, we’re all disciples of Messiah Yeshua but we’re not all called to have the same personality, likes or dislikes. We’re not all called to reach and minister to the same group, culture or community. Not everyone can reach a redneck; I know I couldn’t, at least not very effectively. Not everyone can reach a gangbanger, you got me there too, but I can reach those sporting tattoos and piercings and into hard music. I can even reach sci-fi and comic book geeks because I am one. But not everyone, due to personality, likes and dislikes is equipped and can reach who I can reach and vice versa. That’s okay; it’s supposed to be that way. God doesn’t expect us to all be carbon copies of one another or be robots. The universal command of Torah and the Moral Absolutes have enough wiggle room for all of us to be our God ordained and uniquely called selves (I Cor. 9:19-23).

There was a time I doubted if I should have my ears pierced. Twice this happened to me, as Torah says by two or three witnesses let everything be established. I lost a screw on ball to one of my earrings and was unable to wear it. It’s such a tiny piece of metal and if you do not see where it falls it’s nearly impossible to find it. Both times this happened to me. Once while in Kentucky and leaving the next day for Ohio. I prayed, “LORD, if it be Your will let me find that ball to my earring.” I searched and searched but didn’t find it and forgot about it. Went to Ohio came back to Kentucky and found it in an inflatable mattress I deflated and took with me there and back! What are the odds!? Transported and lugged around two states and never lost or dropped it in all that moving around. It was safe in the folds of the deflated mattress! Second time I was at my sister’s house and lost it, the day I would pack up and go to my nephew’s house. I prayed then too. Well, I found it when I got to my nephews, somewhere in the bundle of my clothes. This taught me that God cares about the smallest details of your life and confirms your calling and personality.

So take me or leave me, love me or hate me, I’m going to unapologetically be who God has called and created me to be despite what others may say or think. I refuse to be a people pleaser and do what others expect me to do. Life’s way too short to deny who you are and be miserable.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Torah Trails #2: Noach

Torah Trails
Rabbi Yehudah “Tochukwu” ben Shomeyr
Kristopher Shoemaker

#2 Noach
Gen. 6:9-11:32
Isa. 52:13-55:5
Matt. 24:36-44

Gen. 6:9, 7:6,11, 9:1,8,9,11,28

Society is geared toward the youth. Marketing’s targets group is the young, the next generation. We’ve been programmed to believe that the newest and the latest is the best and a must have.

Society seems to forget all too easily that the vast majority of dumb mistakes and regrets made in one’s lifetime happen in our ignorant sophomoric youth. We have such short memories that the bugs, glitches and crashes of the “latest” and “newest” gadget is forgotten, all we know is that we have to be the first to get our hands on the latest technology regardless of the bugs and glitches.

The simple, old and antique gets labelled as quaint and obsolete. But that stuff will be in vogue, in high demand and the latest “must have” when the power goes out and the batteries die.

The latest synthetic flavor fad can never replace what age and maturity can bring to one’s pallet; consider wine and cheese, the older the better.

The elderly are looked over, ignored, neglected, shoved in a corner and are seen as an inconvenience and so many of them are put away in a home from the public eye, out of sight, out of mind. After all, the world belongs to the youth! Our society seems to forget that with age comes experience and wisdom.

Have you ever noticed that the vast majority of Scripture shows us that it was the aged and the elderly who did the most poignant, world changing things? Sure, David the shepherd boy slayed the giant, but the older, battle worn, adult King David established the Kingdom of Israel as a major power in the region and began the Messianic dynasty that would culminate in the coming of Yeshua the Messiah!

Abraham didn’t have Isaac until he was 100 year old (Gen.17:17)!
Moses was 80 years old when he led the Children of Israel out of Egypt in the Exodus (Exd. 7:7)!

Much of God’s people did the greatest work for Him after the age of retirement! If your still young and you’ve done some pretty amazing stuff already, you have seen nothing yet! The best is yet to come! If you are old and have done it all, just wait, the best is yet to come, you haven’t seen nothing yet! God’s not finishes with you until your six feet underground!

In this weeks Torah Portion, we learn that Noah was 600 years old when he and his sons built the Ark and saved man and animal kind form obliteration!

Don’t believe the devil’s lies that you’re too old, what does God need or what use does he have with an old bag like you? The best is behind you, your washed up, out of date and out of touch! You’re a has-been!
My friend, the best is yet to come! You have yet to compose your Magnum Opus, you have yet to do your greatest work for God!

If you are considered “old”, the Kingdom needs your wisdom, experience, expertise and your vast practical knowledge. God needs such Generals in His Army. Few remember the individual, the foots soldiers and grunts, the ground pounders who won the battle unless they did something out of the ordinary. It’s the Commander and Generals who are usually remembered for battles won, men such a Grant, Patton, MacArthur, Swartzkoff, etc.

Isa. 54:8-10

Have you screwed up royally? Sinned big time? Fallen in public view? Failed and let down everyone around you? Lost your street cred and reputation? Think it’s all over and you’re unredeemable?


Don’t believe satan’s lie! As long as you truly and genuinely repented, it’s not over, you have been forgiven and can be restored!

Abraham and Isaac lied to a King out of fear, Moses killed an Egyptian taskmaster, David was a murderer and an adulterer, Jonah was a bigot and ran from God, Nebuchadnezzar went insane, Job lost it all, Samson couldn’t keep his vows, Paul had believers killed, Peter betrayed Messiah, but it wasn’t over for any of them! Abraham and Isaac fathered the Tribes of Israel, Moses led Israel of of Egypt, David finished his reign restored and his son Solomon succeeded and secured the Kingdom, Jonah ended up being a catalyst to bring a whole nation to repentance, Nebuchadnezzar got his Kingdom back, Job got all he lost back double, Samson defeated the Philistines, Paul became the greatest Apostle the Gentiles had ever seen and Peter repented and was restored! Again, it’s not over till your six feet under and pushing up daisies!

Many of our Heroes of the Faith did their greatest work for God AFTER their greatest fall! God’s not finished with you yet!

Matt. 24:36-44

How do I know God’s not finished with you yet?
Well, your reading this, so you’re not dead and Messiah hasn’t returned yet.

So “Noah”, Messiah’s returning, how does He want you to prepare for His return? What’s your “Ark”? I can’t answer that for you, that’s between you and God. All I know is the time is short and there is a lot of work left to be done.

“Abba YHWH Elohim, Thank You that You’re a merciful and forgiving God; waiting to restore the fallen. You are not finished with us yet. You are the God of 2nd chances. You have a work for us to do, what is it LORD? Show each and every one of us Abba! In Yeshua’s Name, Amen!”

Memory Verses: Gen. 6:9-10, Isa. 55:5, Matt. 24:46-47

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Martyrs or Morons?

Martyrs or Morons?
Kristopher S. Shoemaker
R. Yehudah “Tochukwu” ben Shomeyr

Let me first start out by saying I am a big supporter of Voice of the Martyr ministries that help persecuted Believers worldwide. I wholeheartedly believe we should pray on a regular basis for our persecuted brothers and sisters worldwide for someday soon we may be coveting their prayers as they now do ours. I have also read Foxes Book of Martyrs, the Anabaptist Mirror of the Martyrs, Jesus Freaks and many other works regarding the testimonies of martyrdom; so I am in no wise attempting to be smug or disrespectful regarding this subject and the people whom these works are about. However, I feel there is a great imbalance regarding this subject of martyrdom. The impression is that Believers in Messiah Yeshua should submit to martyrdom and have no right to fight back because Jesus said to turn the other cheek and when Yeshua Himself was martyred He prayed to the Father on the cross to forgive those who were murdering Him because they were truly ignorant of what they were actually doing, thus setting a president for us to lay down and roll over when enemies of Messiah come for us to take our lives. I beg to differ. Such verses and the views based on them are grossly taken out of context.

They so conveniently forget passages in the gospels where Yeshua purposely avoided a place because He knew His life was in danger and His time had not yet come; passages where He was bold but slipped through the crowed and got away.

Hey, I’m all for loving my enemy and leading them to faith in Messiah Yeshua but I will not willingly allow them to abuse or kill me, my family or my believing community if I can do anything to help it. Deuteronomy 8:1 is used in Judaism as a verse saying that it is our duty to preserve our lives if it is within our power to do so, so that we may continue to live out the Commandments of Torah for the Glory of God. We are not to foolishly throw our life away or purposely put ourselves in mortal danger. Ecclesiastes 3:3, 7 and 8 even tells us there is a time to kill and fight back as well as a time to be peaceful.

I can already tell I am likely ruffling some feathers, but allow me to elaborate.

I heard a story about an Indonesian believer in late 2001 who was shot on the steps of his church in the middle of the night. This is how it went down. A Jihadist Islamic group had been harassing the Christian community there and only three families of that church remained. This particular believer, a deacon in his church, was told by his children’s school head master to convert to Islam, and the Jihadist group actually came to the church and ordered him to take Christian pictures from the wall. He refused and said, “I will not do it even if you behead me!” I love the guys bold fearlessness, but I felt it was foolish to stay and put himself and his family further at risk. Well, one night shortly after he and his wife awoke to their house on fire, set by the Jihadist group. The man ran to attempt to save the church which was also in flames and the terrorist group stopped him and told him he was dead. The man asked if he could pray first, and as he quoted Jesus’ words form the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” they shot him in the chest protecting a building. A BUILDING! Well, it was the church, you may say. NO! A building is NOT The Church! It’s a building, a meeting place. The Believers, the Body of Messiah is the Church! A building can be rebuilt, once you’re dead, your dead until the final resurrection! In my mind, this was not a true martyrdom, it was a man (though well intended) throwing his life away for a building, lifeless wood and stone. In my mind his first priority and responsibility would be to move himself and his family to an area of safety and seeing as he was the only leader left in his congregation, it was up to him to plan to keep the community together so the true church would not die, be lost or scattered. Just because this man forgave his murderers right before they killed him does not mean Christ got the Glory or the victory, all that was accomplished was a congregational leader was killed, his wife was left a widow and his children fatherless and the congregation shattered. I see no redeeming quality or triumph in this testimony. Score one for radical Islam.

There are even stories of the ancient persecuted believers who turned themselves in and asked to be martyred! Who does that!? Now that’s being a moron! God gets no glory that way.

Consider another story where a believer that is taken unaware of anything amiss or any danger present, nor any forewarning, such as a raid or kidnapping or an arrest and is captured and martyred or is taken and brought before authorities and is sentenced to death for not backing down. Let’s say he’s given a final word and forgives them and witnesses to them before they execute him. To me that’s a totally different story. Score one for Messiah Yeshua!

One reason for such an imbalanced view is not only taking Yeshua’s words out of context but also is the exclusion by the Protestants of the historical book of the Maccabees in which the first century read and held in high esteem and were regarded as Historical books of the writings of the Tanak (Old Testament) along with the books of Kings and Chronicles. The book of the Maccabees gives examples of Believers fighting back as well as being captured and martyred.

I come from the tribe of Gad, which is a warrior tribe and it is not in me to submit when I have an option to fight. That’s the way God made Gadites, it’s in our DNA! The Levites, they were not these peaceful meek priests Christianity makes them out to be, but they too were warriors! So much so that Jacob when giving a final blessing to his sons prophesied that Levi and Simeon would be scattered among Israel because together they were unstoppable and formidable warriors (Ge. 49:5-7). You see, their sister Dinah was raped and those two slaughtered a whole city because of it (Gen. 34)!

The book of the Maccabees I believe gives us a balanced view of when to fight and when to be martyred.

2nd Maccabees chapter 7 tells of a woman and her seven sons who were arrested for refusing to compromise the tenants of their faith and as a result each son was killed before the woman’s eyes. Each one encouraged their mother not to give in until finally she was killed. They couldn’t and had no means in which to fight back or defend themselves, they had no choice but to stand up for the Faith and be martyred. As a result their testimony of great perseverance and faith has been recorded and preserved for our benefit, and encouragement.

In 1st Maccabees Chapter 2 the Greco-Syrian authorities who were just as cruel as any Communist or Islamic regime attempted to force the High Priest Mattathias to sacrifice an unclean pig on the altar in the Temple. This was the height of disrespect and blasphemy! Mattathias and his sons would have nothing of it. They refused and revolted and became a guerrilla band of rebel fighters against the Greco-Syrian army and as a result defeated the Greco-Syrian regime and took back the Temple which they attempted to destroy.  The very same Temple we find Yeshua walking around in in the Gospels. If it were not for the Maccabees who fought instead of laid down and became martyrs how would have Messianic prophecy played out!?

Also in the 2nd Chapter of 1st Maccabees is the ordeal of suspending the command to rest on the Sabbath in order to survive. The Greco-Syrians attacked a community of Jews on the Sabbath. We all know it is forbidden to work on the Sabbath so why would fighting be any different. The people refused to break the Sabbath and were slaughtered. Judah Maccabee who led the band of renegade priestly warriors came upon the slaughter and said, “If we all do as our brothers have done, and refuse to fight the pagans for our lives and institutions, they will only destroy us sooner from the earth (1st Mac. 2:40).” Judah was saying that if we don’t fight back they will end up killing us all!

There is an unwritten rule in Judaism which I believe even Christianity can appreciate and agree with and that is, “Life over Law.” In other words, if one’s life is in danger one may suspend or break a Torah command in order to survive, such as fighting on the Sabbath or even eating an unkosher thing if it is a literal matter of life and death.

Defending oneself or ones family against those who wish to kill us is not hate, it’s our duty! I guarantee if the Islamic Jihadi Terrorist or Communist make it to our shores for a takeover I’m not going down quietly, I will do my best to get all Red Dawn on their tuchas’. I have no hatred or take no pleasure if I had to kill someone in defence of my family or community. If in the fighting I am captured and am executed because of my faith that’s another story. I will do my best to give glory and honor to God with my last breath as we read so many of our spiritual forbearers did.

“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” Rev. 20:4

One day we may be in this very position. We have already seen that our Egyptian brothers in Messiah have by ISIS. But if there is an opportunity to fight back, I will be like the Maccabees or the Bielski brothers of WWII who did not go to the Nazi death camps but created a community in the forests and fought back until the end of the war and survived.

I will, if I have to, be a martyr, but I will not be a moron die needlessly