CHURCH LITERATURE - Doctrine
The Word of Yah
Yahweh/Yahshua/The Father: Who is Who?
Remember the Sabbath Day To Keep it Holy
Three Days and Three Nights
Our Spiritual Independence
God's Dietary Laws and Why We Keep Them
THE WORD OF YAH
A copyrighted Bible version based on the King James Version, using the names Yahweh and Yahshua throughout the Old and New Testaments. We now have a complete online version of The Word of Yah and also a downloadable e-book version available on this site. Click here to view The Word of Yah. To see an excerpt of our e-book version or to download, click here.
What is our Saviour's name? Should we call Him Jesus? Almost all Bible translations today use the name Jesus, with only a hint that it was derived from another name. If the name Jesus is the most commonly rendered version of the Christ's given name, isn't it okay to use it? Is it? If one's main concern is to follow tradition, then it truly does not matter what name is used. Tradition falls within the realm of human whim and preference, not within the realm of the truth. But if one's main concern is following the truth, then the name by which we address our Saviour is of the utmost importance.
In the Old Testament alone the name of God, which is Yahweh, appears over 7,000 times. In the New Testament, the name of our Saviour appears over 950 times. Throughout the Bible there are countless references to the importance of the name of God - to its holiness, to its saving power, to its fearfulness and praiseworthiness. Is it coincidence that in the Old Testament Yahweh's name is replaced by the title "Lord" and becomes almost completely obscured, while in the New Testament the true name of the Son of God is also replaced and obscured - by a name which could not have existed until the 1500's? Let's find the truth of the matter.
An important point missed by many is that our Saviour was a Jew, born into a Jewish, Hebrew-speaking family, and He would most surely have been given an Hebrew name. The name Jesus not only did not exist at the time of Yahshua's birth, it is also in no way a Jewish name. Rather, it is a kind of deformed, Hellenized, paganized version of the original name.
Perhaps one of the most important facts overlooked is that Yahshua (along with John the Baptist) was named by an angel. Look at Matthew 1:20-21: "...the angel of the Lord appeared unto him...saying, Joseph...thou shalt call His name Yahshua..." Apparently His name was of such importance that is could not be left to human judgment.
Again, in Matt. 1:21 it says, "...thou shalt call His name Jesus...". Most reference Bibles will note that "Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew (or Jewish) name Joshua" or something similar. Although this is as far as most will go in making that connection, the connection is made nonetheless. Now see Acts 7:45: "Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles..." Also, in Hebrews 4:8 we see "For if Jesus had given them a rest, then He would not afterward have spoken of another day." These are not references to the Messiah, but to the high priest Joshua in the Old Testament: clear proof that the name Jesus was substituted for the name Joshua in the New Testament by Bible translators.
There are two facts which render the name Joshua as unacceptable to us as the name Jesus:
1. The letter "J" is not found in either Hebrew or Greek, and
2. The letter "J" never existed at all until after the invention of the printing press in the 1400's. A simple study of the alphabet will prove this as well as the original pronunciation of the letter "J" - a "y" sound. The name Joshua is non-existent in Hebrew because of the use of the letter J. The letter "Y" should be substituted wherever a J is found in Hebrew words: Yerushalayim, Ya'acov, Yochanan and Y'hudah instead of Jerusalem, Jacob, John and Judah. In Hebrew, the name given to the Christ was a shortened form of "(Ya)hoshua" (see Num. 13:16), which means "I AM Saviour" or "I AM Salvation". The shortened form is "Yahshua", which translators later transformed into Joshua.
While the letter "Y" is not part of the Greek alphabet, the letter "I" is. It is pronounced identically to our long "e", so if the name were written "Iashua" or even "Iasua", the pronunciation would still be the much the same as the original. If the translators of the Bible had followed the procedure used everywhere else in literature when dealing with names, they would have transliterated the name Yahshua into one of the above forms in order to retain as much of the original pronunciation as possible. Instead they substituted vowels and consonants and added the Greek gender suffix, effectively altering the name. The ultimate result of this was that the true name of the Messiah was almost completely obscured in the New Testament, as was the name of the Creator in the Old Testament.
Many people will argue that the names Jesus, Iesous, and other alternative names are as acceptable as the name Yahshua because they are the equivalents of that name in other languages. This is a false argument: regardless of what names may be "equivalent" to the name Yahshua, they are not the name given to Him at birth. If a woman named Mary were to visit Israel, the people there would call her Mary, not Miriam, even though that name is the Hebrew equivalent of Mary. She would not be called Marie if she visited Spain. She would be called Mary the world 'round simply because that is her name. If our names do not change simply because we move from one country to another, why should the very important name of our Saviour change from one language to another?
The simple fact is that a person's given name does not change from language to language, nor is it translated. Anyone who has listened to any broadcast in a foreign language, listened to someone speak in a foreign language, or read a newspaper written in a foreign language knows that the given names of people, places and things are carried over intact, in order to preserve the identification of whatever is spoken of. This is also the case where the name of our God is concerned, though many will deny it.
If we accept that the name given to our Saviour at birth was Yahshua, which literally means "I Am Saviour/Salvation", then we rediscover an important truth in Scripture and find perfect agreement between the meaning of the name and Matthew 1:21 "...and thou shalt call His name "Yah-Saviour/Salvation": for He shall save His people from their sins." How much more meaningful the true name is, compared to the meaningless hash which is presented to us in the name "Jesus"!
It must be understood that the Son of God was never called Jesus in His lifetime: He never heard Himself called by that name in all of His time on this earth. What His family named Him and what everyone called Him was Yahshua: a Jewish name filled with significance. If our goal is to know the truth and to cleave to it, then we must seek the name our Saviour was called by for the 33 1/2 years of His existence on earth and for hundreds of years after in prayer, and then use it.
"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."
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YAHWEH/YAHSHUA/THE FATHER: WHO IS WHO?
In our Bible we find three persons identified with the family of God: Yahweh in the Old Testament, and Yahshua and the Father in the New Testament. Although there is perfect clarity of identity in the New Testament - Yahshua is the Son of God, the Father is Yahshua's Father and ours - there is considerable confusion as to the identity of Yahweh in the Old Testament. Many people believe that Yahweh was and is the Father, while Yahshua only came into being as His son in the New Testament. Others believe that Yahweh became Yahshua in the New Testament in order to reveal the Father, who was unknown in the Old Testament. Some believe that Yahshua pre-existed as God in the person of Yahweh, others believe He has only ever been a man. The truth of these matters is only to be found in Scripture, so let us search for that truth.
To begin with we can establish one fact which will clarify things considerably: Yahweh cannot be the Father revealed in the New Testament. Why? Because John 5:37 tells us, "... the Father Himself, which hath sent Me, hath borne witness of Me. Ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape." In addition, John 6:46 says, "Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He which is of God, He hath seen the Father." Because of these Scriptures, we know that Yahweh cannot be the Father because Yahweh appeared to human beings many times in the Old Testament - Adam and Eve must have seen Him daily; Enoch walked with God (Gen. 5:26); Yahweh appeared to Abraham in the plains of Mamre (Gen. 18:1); Moses spoke with Him "face to face, as a man speaks unto his friend" (Ex.. 33:11); Jacob wrestled with God (Gen. 32:30); more than seventy men of Israel saw God (Ex. 24:11); Samson's parents saw Him (Judges 13:22); Isaiah saw Him (Is. 6:1-5), etc. Since Yahweh was seen by men in the Old Testament, we know that He cannot be the Father whom no one has seen. If He were, then we would be faced with the prospect of Scripture contradicting itself, which is an impossibility.
Many people insist that Yahweh truly was the Father, in spite of the testimony of the above Scriptures. One problem with such dogged adherence to this belief it that it ignores one important fact: Yahshua came in the New Testament to reveal the Father - "No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him." (Mat. 11:27). He also came to declare the Father: "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." (John 1:18) If the Father was Yahweh, there would be no need to reveal and declare Him, for Yahweh was revealed and declared throughout the Old Testament. No, it is clear that the one presented to us as Yahweh in the Old Testament was not the Father.
Now, is it possible that Yahshua pre-existed as God? The answer to this is found in John 1:1-14: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him...and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us..." Further information is found in Col. 1:13-17 - "the Son (Yahshua) is...the firstborn of every creature, for by Him were all things created...all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist." Eph. 3:9 tells us about a fellowship "which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, Who created all things by Yahshua the Messiah." Finally, Heb. 1:2 tells us that our Father has "in these last days spoken unto us by His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom He also made the worlds."
It is plain from these passages that Yahshua, the son of God in the New Testament, was co-creator of the world together with the Father in the Old Testament. In the Creation Hymn, Gen. 1:1-31 thru 2:1-3, we see that "God" (In Hebrew, "elohim") created the heavens, the earth, and all that is therein. We now can see that the plural word "elohim" is used throughout this passage because (as Col. 1:13-17, Eph. 3:9, and Heb. 1:2 tell us above) the Father was creating the world through the pre-existent Yahshua. Only after the creation was completed do we see in Gen. 2:4 the first appearance of Yahweh alone, as He begins to operate as the spokesman of God - the Word who later became flesh.
Also, Eccl. 12:1 exhorts us, "Remember now thy Creators in the days of thy youth..." The Hebrew word translated "creator" in the King James is plural and should be rendered "Creators". (See notes in Bullinger's Companion Bible, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary, Young's Literal Translation, etc.) Isaiah 54:5 supports this fact: "For thy Makers are thine Husbands: Yahweh of hosts is His name; and thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall He be called." (Bullinger's, JFB Commentary) These and other passages show us the truth of the co-creation of the world by our Father and Yahshua, proving Yahshua's pre-existence.
Taking all the previous Scriptures together, we can now see that Yahweh was a co-Creator of the world: He was the one who dealt with and was seen by mankind throughout the Old Testament. He was the Word that was later made flesh as Yahshua. Philippians. 2:5-7 explains to us that "...the Messiah Yahshua: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and ...was made in the likeness of men." We see here that Yahshua was in the form of God and was equal with God, but gave up His existence as God in order to be born of woman, made flesh, to become the man who would die for the sins of the world.
This is one of the most significant points to be made about this subject: if we understand that Yahshua was the one we know as Yahweh in the Old Testament, then we realize that the Creator of the world gave up His spiritual existence to become Yahshua, a physical being, in order to provide salvation for mankind, the creation of His hands. Think of it: what love He had for mankind, that He would create us and deal with us so closely while He was in spirit, then give up that spiritual existence in order to deal with us face to face as a fellow human being, and then finally die for our sins while He Himself was blameless.
The identity of Yahweh as the pre-existent Yahshua is of utmost important. We must understand the depth of meaning not only in the sacrifice of our Saviour Yahshua, but also in His identity and function before He was made flesh. We must understand that the Father is revealed plainly only in the New Testament: over all, consenting to the sacrifice of His Son, and accepting us as His children. We need not seek for the name of our Father because He is revealed to us as just that: our Father, to be addressed as such (Matt. 6:9). The name we are given to call on is Yahshua. Let us accept it with full understanding of Who He is...and of Who He was.
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Remember the Sabbath Day To Keep It Holy
"And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made." (Gen. 2:2-3)
Contained in this Scriptural passage is one of the foundational precepts on which the House of Yahshua is based. Our assembly observes the seventh day Sabbath, which means that we rest from sunset on Friday evening to sunset on Saturday evening each week. Though this may seem simplistic to some and un-christian to others, we know that Scripture reveals the truth of the Sabbath to us and that we are bound by this knowledge to obey God's will concerning it. We present this truth now for the edification of those unfamiliar with it in hopes that they may search the Scriptures for themselves in order to be convinced of the truth and importance of this subject.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and all that is therein. For six days He was occupied with His creation and then on the seventh day, after that creation was completed, He rested from all His work. The above passage in Genesis clearly states that He then blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, setting it apart from the other days before it. In this one simple and clear passage we see not only the institution of God's day of rest, we also see the institution of the seven day cycle which we know now as a week.
An important point to note here is that the seventh day was the only day God saw fit to name: all the other days were simply numbered - day one, day two, day three, etc. Only the seventh day was given a name by God, and He called it the Sabbath, meaning rest. Research into the names of the weekdays on our present calendar will reveal that every day's name is based on some aspect of paganism, even the seventh day (Saturday = Saturn's day). Because we know the strong importance of names in the Bible and how some of the most important names have been obscured over time (as in the case of the name Yahweh being hidden behind the title "the LORD", and Yahshua's name being changed to "Jesus"), we encourage the use of true, God-given names - including the name of the Sabbath
Interestingly, the Sabbath and the seven day cycle are not mentioned again in the book of Genesis after the passage in chapter two. Does this mean that God, having instituted this special day, then considered it of no further consequence? No, this cannot be: for if we look to the book of Exodus and the commandments given by Yahweh after the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt, we find that the Sabbath was not only part of the Ten Commandments, but that even before the giving of the Law, Yahweh placed a special emphasis on the Sabbath and gave the Israelites a special sign with which to recognize the Sabbath:
"And it came to pass, that on the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers for one [man]: and all the rulers of the congregation came and told Moses. And he said unto them, 'This is [that] which Yahweh hath said, Tomorrow [is] the rest of the holy Sabbath unto Yahweh: bake [that] which ye will bake [today], and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning'. And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein. And Moses said, 'Eat that today; for today [is] a Sabbath unto Yahweh: today ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, [which is] the Sabbath, in it there shall be none....See, for that Yahweh hath given you the Sabbath, therefore He giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.' So the people rested on the seventh day." (Ex. 16:22-26 & 29-30)
Later on, in the 20th chapter of Exodus we see the obvious importance that Yahweh set on the Sabbath, when He made it one of the Ten Commandments: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day [is] the Sabbath of Yahweh thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates: For [in] six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore Yahweh blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it." (Ex. 20:8-11)
These passages show us very clearly that Yahweh not only instituted a seven day cycle from the completion of the creation of the world, but that He also set apart the seventh day of that cycle as a special day of rest and obedience to His sanctification of it. The observance of this day was so important to Him that He made it one of the ten Laws that He gave from Mount Sinai. It was so important, in fact, that disobedience of this law was punished by immediate death (Ex. 31:14), and this punishment was implemented very soon after the law was given (Num. 15:32-36).
Why was there such a strong emphasis on adherence to the seventh day Sabbath? Yahweh Himself gives the answer in Ex. 16:4-5: "Then said Yahweh unto Moses, 'Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law, or no. And it shall come to pass that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.'" The meaning in context is clear: Yahweh was giving them the law and the sign of His Sabbath in order to see whether they would obey that law: in essence, to see whether they would obey Him.
If we search the rest of the Old Testament, we find many references to the importance of obedience to the Sabbath law and rest on that day (Lev. 23:3; Deut. 5:12-15; Neh. 10:31, 13:15-22; Isa. 56:2,6-7 & 58:13; Jer. 17:21-27; Amos 8:4-12; etc.). One of the most compelling passages is Ex. 31:13-17:
"Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, 'Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it [is] a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that [ye] may know that I [am] Yahweh that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it [is] holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth [any] work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh [is] the Sabbath of rest, holy to Yahweh: whosoever doeth [any] work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, [for] a perpetual covenant. It [is] a sign between Me and the children of Israel for ever: for [in] six days Yahweh made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed."
Nothing can be clearer than this. Observance of the seventh day Sabbath is given as a sign between Yahweh and His people, that they might know Him and that He might know them. Ezekiel 20:10-13 not only supports this fact, but also gives a dire example of the peril of disregarding this observance, as do other passages: "Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. And I gave them My statutes, and shewed them My judgments, which [if] a man do, he shall even live in them. Moreover also I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am Yahweh that sanctify them. But the house of Israel rebelled against Me in the wilderness...and My Sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out My fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them." Only Yahweh's mercy and concern that His name not be polluted in the eyes of other nations (v. 14) saved Israel from destruction. There is no doubt that observance of the seventh day Sabbath is vitally important to our God and is required of His people; and there is no question in any rational mind that the seventh day of our present day weekly cycle is Saturday.
In addressing this subject, there are two arguments against observing God's Sabbath on Saturday that must be dealt with. The first is the doctrine of "the 8th day", which states that New Testament christians are to observe Sunday as their Sabbath in honor of "Jesus'" resurrection on Sunday. For the facts regarding the true day of Yahshua's resurrection, see our article "Three Days and Three Nights" on this page, which establishes the chronology of Yahshua's death and resurrection. The truth is that Yahshua was resurrected late on Saturday - God's Sabbath - before sunset, not early on Sunday as most christian churches teach. In addition to this plain fact, simple logic tells us that the "8th day" doctrine is false: if we were to follow it through to its logical conclusion, we would somehow have to observe the Sunday of the resurrection as the first Sabbath, then eight days later observe Monday as the "8th day Sabbath", then eight days after that observe Tuesday, then Wednesday, then Thursday, and so on and so on. This is not only illogical, it also destroys the seven day cycle instituted by God at the Creation.
Also, nowhere in Scripture is there any indication that God sanctioned a change from the seven day cycle to an eight day cycle. The doctrine of Sunday Sabbath-keeping may be researched in libraries and on the internet, and this search will yield the fact that this doctrine originated not with Yahshua or the New Testament church, but with the Catholic church which came into existence centuries later. We recommend such research to all of our readers.
The second argument against a simple seven day cycle is the doctrine that God's Sabbaths are not part of a perpetual and regular seven day cycle rooted in Creation, but are part of a lunar cycle based on the new moons. It is impossible to present all of the arguments against this doctrine here, but we present a partial list below:
1. The seven day Sabbath cycle was instituted on the seventh day after the beginning of Creation (Gen. 2:2 & 3), independent of the moon and its cycles, for as we know, the moon was set in its function on the fourth day of Creation (Gen. 1:16-19). Two problems with the lunar Sabbath theory immediately become obvious here. The first is that if the lunar Sabbath doctrine were true, it would mean that the first Sabbath would have fallen ten or eleven days after the beginning of Creation, assuming that the moon was set in its cycle as a new moon. Then following from that, for the lunar Sabbath theory to be true, Yahweh either created the moon in the midst of a cycle in order for it to coincide with the already-instituted Sabbath, which is senseless; or else three to four days after the first Sabbath was blessed and santified (Gen. 2:3), Yahweh simply changed it to coincide with the lunar cycle, which our knowledge of God's constancy rules out as impossible.
2. As earlier established, the regular seven day cycle was given to Israel after the exodus, even before the law was given. Not only is no indication ever given that this cycle depended on the new moons, the simple fact is that Israel (whom we today know as Jews) has ever held to the same seven day cycle which the rest of the world observes today.
3. If there were any question of the true and accurate observance of the Sabbath during Yahshua's time, He would surely have corrected it, which He did not. The Sabbath which He kept was the same as the Sabbath observed by the Jews of His time (Matt. 12:1 & 2; Luke 4:16 & 31; Luke 6:6 & 7; Luke 13:10; John 5:9, 10, & 16; etc.). This is the same Sabbath which we as His people are commanded to keep.
4. Observance of a lunar Sabbath cycle would effectively destroy those who attempted to keep it. A lunar month varies from 29 to 30 days, which would mean that there would be one or two "non-days" every month between the last Sabbath of a seven day, four week month (equaling 28 days) and the next new moon. Since we cannot predict the sighting of the new moon, this would mean that there would be no possible way to predict which day of the week the Sabbath would fall on, thereby making it impossible to hold any job which requires a regular work schedule - even one which would normally allow a regular Sabbatarian to take Saturdays off. The ultimate effect of this would be to make the Sabbath a horrible and unbearable burden rather than the joy and rest that it was ordained to be.
5. According to this theory, the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th of each month would be a Sabbath (or 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th, according to some doctrines). Now we know that Yahshua was crucified on Passover, the 14th day of the first month (Lev. 23:5; Luke 22:7 & 15; etc.), yet according to the reckoning included in our article "Three Days and Three Nights", the weekly Sabbath occurred three days after Yahshua's crucifixion, not on the very day of His crucifixion. The cycle holding the 15th as a Sabbath clearly holds the same error - the weekly Sabbath did not occur the day after Yahshua's crucifixion. These facts alone effectively destroy the lunar Sabbath argument.
Obviously no Scriptural foundation exists for either the "8th day" doctrine or the lunar Sabbath doctrine. Both deny the original context and authority under which the seventh day Sabbath was given as well as denying the requirement to hold to that originally ordained cycle. Also, and more importantly, both trivialize and negate the awesome significance of our God's ordained Sabbath. The seventh day Sabbath cycle was ordained from the completion of Creation only by the fiat of God. It depends on no solar, lunar, or celestial event. There is no way to calculate God's Sabbath cycle based on any phenomenon in nature, and there is no human authority given for any alteration of that God-given cycle. Our only source of knowledge of that seven day Sabbath cycle lies in Scripture - the God-breathed word of our Creator (II Tim. 3:16) - and in those to whom the oracles of God were committed: the Jews (Rom. 3:1-2). The regular seven day Sabbath cycle is a truly "supernatural" sign in that it is in no way based on any physical thing or event in this world. It is perhaps the only completely spiritual communication that exists between Yahweh and mankind overall, given by Yahweh Himself as a sign of sanctification, recognition, and obedience between Him and those who would cleave to Him, Yahweh God of Hosts.
"If thou turn away thy foot from the Sabbath, [from] doing thy pleasure on My holy day; and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy of Yahweh, honourable; and shalt honour Him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking [thine own] words: Then shalt thou delight thyself in Yahweh; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed them with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of Yahweh hath spoken it." (Is. 58:13 & 14)
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Three Days and Three Nights
"...as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matt. 12:40)
The above is a prophecy given by Yahshua Himself concerning the length of His entombment after His death: three days and three nights. Why is it then that mainstream christian doctrine teaches that He was crucified on a Friday, entombed on Friday evening, lay in the tomb Saturday, and was resurrected early on Sunday morning? This doctrine allows Him only two nights instead of three in the tomb, and the most generous reckoning counts what was at most three hours of daytime on Friday as a day and also the daytime of Saturday as a day - two days instead of three. There is no question that this doctrine is in open contradiction to Yahshua's own words, so which teaching is true: what is the solution to this problem?
Most of those supporting the common christian doctrine argue that "three days and three nights" can be taken to mean parts of three days - i.e., part of Friday, all of Saturday, and part of Sunday equals three days. The truth is that if the phrase "three days" stands alone it actually can be understood to mean parts of three days. However, when linked with the rest of the phrase - "and three nights" - that leeway in interpretation is removed and the entire phrase "three days and three nights" means exactly what it says: the daylight portions of three days and the three nighttime portions as well. (See Bullinger's Companion Bible, note on Matt. 12:40; The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, same verse; search "three days nights" on Internet, etc.)
Common sense and integrity tell us that the doctrine of partial days is unacceptable. However, many will appeal to the Gospel accounts of events after Yahshua's death and entombment for proof of their position, especially to Mark 15:42 & 43 - "And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath...Joseph of Arimathaea...craved the body of Yahshua." To the casual reader this does seem to indicate that Yahshua was entombed on Friday, i.e., "day before the Sabbath". Unfortunately, the casual reader is probably involved in mainstream christianity, with its ignorance of God's weekly Sabbaths and annual Holy Days. This ignorance is the basis of the error of the "partial days" doctrine, and understanding these things is the key to understanding the literal truth and fulfillment of Yahshua's prophecy.
If we look to Lev. 23:24, we see that the Feast of Trumpets is called a Sabbath - a day of rest. In verse 32 we see the same usage in reference to the Day of Atonement, and again in verse 39 with reference to the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day. This usage is entirely proper because the meaning of the word "sabbath" is intermission, repose, and desisting from exertion (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, Hebrew #7676 & #7673), and each of the seven yearly Holy Days is a day of required rest (Lev. 23:7, 8, 21, 25, 28-32, 35, 36). All may properly be called Sabbaths.
Now, with this understanding, we may move back to the chronology of Yahshua's entombment. Yahshua was crucified on the 14th of the first month, on Passover day. Though this day is grouped with the annual Holy Days, it was not commanded to be a day of rest, and therefore cannot properly be considered a Sabbath. However, the 15th day of the first month is the first Day of Unleavening, which is a commanded Sabbath (Lev. 23:6-8). This brings us to Mark 15:42. The day of Yahshua's entombment is referred to here as "the preparation...the day before the Sabbath". The term "preparation day" in the Gospels refers to the 14th of Abib, which was the day of preparation for the first day of Unleavening - the first annual Sabbath. (For more information on preparation day, see "What was Preparation Day?" on our Calendar page.) We can now see that the reference to the Sabbath in Mark 15:42 is not to the weekly Sabbath, but to the annual Sabbath of the first Day of Unleavening.
Now we may move to the account in Luke 23:54-56. We are told, "...that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on." Understanding as we now do that this speaks of Yahshua's entombment late on Passover day (Mark 15:42 - "when the even was come") and that the following day was the first day of Unleavening and an annual Sabbath of rest, we now read on: "And the women also, which came with Him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how His body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments..." Since Yahshua was laid to rest late on the 14th, there would have been no time for these preparations. We know that work was forbidden on the first Day of Unleavening, so these women rested on that day and waited until it was over, then spent the next day preparing their spices and ointments. Finally, after these preparations were complete, they "rested on the Sabbath day according to the commandment" (this referring to the weekly Sabbath) before going to the tomb early the next day, which was the first day of the week.
This interpretation fits with the account in Mark 16:1-2 - "And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the [mother] of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint Him. And very early in the morning of the first [day] of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun." Remembering that Biblical days begin at sunset, we realize that these women could not have bought these spices after the weekly Sabbath was past, for that would have them shopping for the spices at night - a very unlikely prospect. The Sabbath referred to here is the annual Sabbath of the first Day of Unleavening: after this they bought their spices, then rested on the weekly Sabbath, coming to the tomb on the morning of the first day of the week.
With this understanding we find that Yahshua truly was in the tomb for three days and three nights as He had prophesied. We can also deduce on which days of the week the above events occurred. According to all accounts, Yahshua was already risen before dawn on the first day of the week. We know the women rested on the weekly Sabbath (a Saturday), bought spices the day before (a Friday), observed the Sabbath of the first Day of Unleavening before that (a Thursday), and saw Him placed in the tomb on preparation day, which was Passover day, the day before that (a Wednesday). If we count from sunset to sunset, we find three full nights (the beginnings of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday), and three full days (the daylight portions of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday). We learn that Yahshua was crucified on a Wednesday and resurrected late on a weekly Sabbath, before sunset, not early on Sunday morning as most christian churches teach.
If we accept this explanation of the chronology of Yahshua's entombment and resurrection, we gain not only a greater understanding of God's Sabbaths and annual Holy Days, we also find ourselves in the blessed position of assurance that Yahshua's prophecy was true, literally and completely, as are all of God's prophecies. Let us not be part of an evil and adulterous generation which requires a sign and then disbelieves the word of prophecy concerning that sign. Rather, let us believe that God's Word is truth and accept that truth wholeheartedly.
"There shall no sign shall be given but the sign of the prophet Jonas."
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Just what is the ministry? What are the requirements for being a minister? Who can be a minister?
For centuries there has been a general attitude and assumption that a minister is a man, usually over 30 years of age, who has been involved in some sort of ministerial training or school. A minister usually holds a position of power or authority within the church and is generally given more respect and honor than the other members of the church. Anyone who claims to be a minister but doesn't fit the common preconceptions is usually rejected as an imposter.
What does the Bible say?
To begin with, let's look at the word "minister". In most cases in the Bible, the word minister is translated from the Greek word "diakonos". The meaning of this word is "servant". Not teacher, not ruler, not man: simply servant. The word "ministry" is derived from the same Greek word and means "service". From this alone we can see that this is not a power position: it is simply a job description.
What are the requirements? Simply put: in order to serve, we're required to offer faithful service, dedicated work, loyalty to our employer and a willingness and ability to do our job well. We must all have enough education to do our jobs well, but how much education is require to love someone? If we're to teach, we must acquire knowledge to teach fully and well, but not all are teachers: some have a ministry of love, some of administration, some of helps, etc. (See I Cor. 12:4-11).
Is there a required minimum age? Apparently not. See how Paul urges Timothy to "let no man despise [his] youth in I Tim. 4:12. Maturity is necessary, and a sense of responsibility is usually part of maturity, but there is no age limit for maturity. Must one be male in order to be a minister? No. See Romans 16:1 - Phebe was a "servant" (translated from diakonos, exactly the same word translated elsewhere as minister) in the church of Cenchrea. Women may serve as well as men.
So, who may be a minister? Anyone belonging to the body of the Christ, who has been baptized and has received the Holy Spirit. Male or female, younger or older, well educated or not, it makes no difference. What is required is a heart and mind dedicated to God and His way, a desire to learn as much of that way as possible and live by it, a desire to share the truth of God with others, and a desire to serve others in whatever way we are called to.
All of us in Yahshua's church are ministers. We are all equal. The only difference possible between one minister and another, besides the type of calling they receive, is that one may be formally recognized by the church and one may not. This is a legalistic recognition only, having to do with the civil side of administering a church and nothing to do with one's effective service within that church.
Every member of the assembly should be treated with the same honor and respect, for we are all Yahshua's servants and co-workers with each other. We all have our own special area or areas of service. We are all given the commission of Matthew 28:19-20. We are all to heed I Peter 4:10-11. We are all to be subject to each other in order to preserve peace, but ultimately we are subject only to our Head, Yahshua our Saviour, so let us always serve Him with this in mind.
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What is personal authority and what does it mean to us as members of the body of the Christ, as members of His church?
Personal authority is the power we are given to act as individual representatives of the family of God. We are begotten sons, with the rights and privileges of sonship (Rom. 8:14-17). We are all given the authority to act as such (Matt. 18:18-20).
What does this authority entail? We are all ministers of the Christ (see "Ministry"), and all of us are given the commission of Matthew 28:19-20. We have the responsibility of learning as fully as possible the truth revealed in the Bible, which is God's word, and living by that truth. According to Romans 14, we must live according to our faith, our own personal faith, which stems from knowledge of the truth. To give up our beliefs and convictions in order to blindly follow a group or organization is to invite condemnation from God: He wants us to exercise our authority. If our convictions agree with a particular group's, so much the better. If not, it is our responsibility to hold to our own convictions and do what we know to be true regardless of the consequences.
We not only have that responsibility, we have that right, which means that if we believe the new moons to be important when others don't, we must follow that belief. If we believe the Sabbath is to be observed on Saturday rather than Sunday, we must live by that. If we believe we are all sons of God and ministers of His church, we must work as ministers. If we believe that we have the right to choose a location to observe the Feast of Tabernacles rather than follow the arbitrary choice of another church, we can claim that right.
This is what personal authority is all about: The right to live according to our convictions. We must be at peace with others, which means that if our beliefs clash with the beliefs of others, we might be required to follow our convictions alone for a time, but we must follow those convictions.
We are learning in this life to be rulers and teachers after the resurrection (I Cor. 6:2-3; Rev. 20:4). We cannot use our judgement and authority wisely then unless we exercise them now. We have the responsibility of our commission, we must answer for our actions, and we have the right to claim our authority now. Let us claim that authority with full confidence that it was given to us for our use now by Yahshua and our Father.
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OUR SPIRITUAL INDEPENDENCE
Within many churches today, whether mainstream or outside that vast group, there is a concept concerning women's subjection to men that claims that men in the church are spiritually responsible for either their own wives or all women in the church, and that they have spiritual authority over these women.
Is this true? Can one human being have spiritual authority over another? Is this supported in Scripture? What are the ramifications of such a belief?
Our basic proof text for this discussion in Phil. 2:11-13: "...that every tongue should confess that Yahshua the Messiah is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure."
This text alone is sufficient to silence anyone who presumes to hold spiritual authority over another in the assembly, whether male or female. We must work out our own salvation - no person can do this for us. However, in terms of male domination over female in the church, we can look to Gal. 3:26-28: "For ye are all sons of God by faith in the Messiah Yahshua. For as many of you as have been baptized into the Messiah have put on the Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in the Messiah Yahshua."
Two points must be made concerning the above text:
1. All who are baptized into Yahshua are considered sons now. The concept of sonship is a significant and deep one, but it is enough to say here that this passage says only that we are all considered sons, not sons and daughters. This clearly puts everyone on an even footing spiritually, with no one being in a better position than any other in the body of the Messiah.
2. It clearly says that when we are baptized, we put on the Messiah, becoming part of His body. If this is true, then no one within the assembly may claim spiritual authority over another, simply because they would be claiming spiritual authority over another part of the body of Yahshua Himself. This cannot be done: All of us are members of one body (I Cor. 12:12-13), and we know that the only head of this body is Yahshua (Col. 1:18). Only Yahshua has authority in this body, "...the church is subject unto the Messiah..." (Eph. 5 :24), so all other parts are equally subject only to Him, not to each other.
Many people claim that wives are spiritually subject to their husbands within the church. They appeal to passages within the New Testament that speak of wives keeping silence in the churches, and only learning at home from their husbands. They call up the places which speak of a wife's subjection to her husband and his headship over her. They claim that this headship/subordinate relationship carries over into their spiritual existence.
This is nonsense. No religious person will disagree that within the physical marital relationship the husband is the head of the household, and the wife is subject to him. This is commanded and reinforced throughout the Bible. However, this only applies to the physical relationship of marriage: the physical marital relationship cannot be carried over into the spiritual. The physical bond of marriage is only a shadow of the spiritual: it points to Yahshua's relationship with His assembly. The passages concerning husbands and wives usually are connected with a teaching concerning Yahshua and the church. To take the physical type and apply it to the spiritual anti-type only shows the lack of discernment on the part of the one doing this.
See Paul's words in I Cor. 2:12-15: "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth (or, discerns) all things, yet he himself is judged (discerned) of no man.
The idea that any person is spiritually responsible for another person also promotes the belief that the one spiritually responsible is a mediator between another person and our Father. This belief not only smacks of Catholicism, it contradicts Scripture itself: I Tim. 2:5 - "For [there is] one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Yahshua the Messiah." No matter what the doctrine, if it brings contradiction to Scripture, it is wrong and unacceptable.
"Work out your own salvation" means just that: Be responsible for your own spiritual existence, because no one can or should bear the burden for another's sins, righteousness, or relationship with God. Prov. 5:22 says, "His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins." No one is without sin - Ecc. 7:20; II Chron. 6:36; I Kings 8:46 - and every person is to die for his or her own sins - Eze. 18:20; Eze. 33:12-15.
When we consider the ramifications of the many aspects of the idea of spiritual subjection, many irresolvable paradoxes arise. For example, if a believing husband and wife disagree on some point of doctrine, must she deny her own conscience and accede to his position simply because he is her husband? Wouldn't this then cause her to sin - Rom. 14:23, "...for whatever is not of faith is sin" - because she would be going against something she believed in? In a case like this, marriage would become a curse to the married woman, for though she is called by God into His service, she would never have control of her own spiritual existence. If she married after her conversion, she would immediately lose authority over her service to God, and the same holds true if her husband converted after she did - there would be an instant loss of freedom that a single woman might claim.
Also, what if there is a believing man married to an unbelieving woman (or vice-versa)? Wouldn't he be condemned to perdition for her sins, since he is spiritually responsible for her unbelieving, sinful actions? If they are one flesh, and one spirit for which he is responsible, then the husband may be condemned for his wife's actions - if this idea is carried to its logical conclusion.
The fact is that husband and wife are made "one flesh", but they are not made "one spirit" with each other. The one Spirit we become part of is Yahshua's alone, not any other human being's, and the spiritual body we become part of is His also. "There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling" (Eph. 4 :4), and "For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church, for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones...This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning the Messiah and the church." (Eph. 5:29-32). This passage is clear in telling us that the physical relationship between man and wife symbolizes the relationship between Yahshua and His assembly - it is a physical device used to teach us of spiritual things.
This subject also begs the question of what an unmarried woman is allowed to do within the church, if she has no husband to spiritually rule over her? Is she then subject to any one or all of the men in the assembly? Or does she have a freedom not granted to married women, simply because they are married?
No: it is only if one believes that any person is spiritually subject to another that the possibility of what amounts to spiritual slavery arises, or that marriage becomes a spiritual curse to the married woman. One horrible paradoxical option that some people will offer to women within the assembly is that they may serve God in whatever way they see fit...outside the assembly. They have an unlimited freedom outside the body of the Messiah, but only subjection and silence within it. This is a monstrous notion, and the spiritual offspring of the whole doctrine of spiritual subjection within the church.
Another point that must be made is that Scripture speaks to us in this way: "Know ye not that we shall judge angels? How much more things that pertain to this life?" (I Cor. 6:3). This life is a training ground for God's people. Where is the training for those who are given a talent that is denied use and exercise within the assembly? Must they stifle that talent while in the assembly, thereby losing valuable help and advice from the other members of the body? Will those who accept this denial be held accountable for not using their talent, simply because its use was forbidden by men? Shouldn't they rather follow Peter's example in Acts 5:29 - "We ought to obey God rather than men"?
Scripture tells up that God is no respecter of persons, and that He "...without respect of persons judgeth according to each one's work..." (I Peter 1:17). We are individuals before God, whether married or unmarried. We are judged as individuals, not as one half of married couple, regardless of whether our spouses are fellow believers or not. We stand alone, coming "boldly before the throne of grace" as individuals, responsible for our own actions and not those of others. We cannot be spiritually chained to another individual and subject to condemnation for another's actions simply because of the physical bonds of marriage.
Yahshua tells us, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:28-30) The labor of being spiritually responsible for another human being is something Yahshua never intended for any of us to take on. The burden of allowing ourselves to be quashed in our service to Him was also never meant to be undertaken.
As it stands in many churches today, women - whether married or unmarried - are bound by certain rules that limit their service to God within those churches. Some women relish this bondage because they believe that they can enter into salvation through their husbands' actions, with no effort on their own part. Some women resent the bondage, but do not have the knowledge to free themselves. Some fear the isolation that would result from them operating as individuals outside their familiar assembly, even though it is this assembly that imposes spiritual subjection upon them.
Our hope is that these women - and any men who read this - will spend time, study, and prayer on this subject. Consider the words of this message. Understand the authority given to each individual, the equality that our Father has graciously given us in His service, and the absolute necessity for each of us to stand alone in our relationship with God. Understand the nature of your own spiritual independence, with its rights and responsibilities. Let go of the fear or resentment or traditional bias or desire for power that holds you where you are - give up your personal wishes in this matter and search Scripture for the truth. Then act on it.
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GOD'S DIETARY LAWS AND WHY WE KEEP THEM
In Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, the Israelites are given certain rules concerning what they were to eat. They were told to eat no "abominable thing" (Deut. 14:3), and then lists were given concerning what they were to eat - the clean foods - and what they were not to eat - the unclean foods. Many people believe that because these dietary laws were given in Old Testament times to physical Israel that it is not necessary to observe them today. Let's look at the evidence that proves that this belief is not true.
Briefly, the dietary laws are as follows: the animals that have split hooves and chew a cud (Lev. 11:3) are considered clean and can be eaten, and the fish which have fins and scales (v. 9) can be eaten. The list of birds is given (vv. 13-20) are those which can't be eaten - generally meat eaters or carrion eaters. Certain insects can be eaten - "every flying creeping thing that goes upon all four, which have legs above their feet, to leap...upon the earth" - and a list is given (v. 22) . Animals that walk on paws are unclean (v. 27), and then a miscellaneous list of other unclean "creeping things" is given (vv. 29 & 30). The meaning of the word "clean" is "pure - physically, chemically, ceremonially, or morally", while "unclean" means "foul in a religious sense" (Strong's Concordance).
These laws are certainly not difficult to keep, but is it necessary for God's people to keep them today? The beginning of the answer can be found by looking at who these laws were given to: in a word - Israel. The physical nation of Israel, as God's chosen people, received laws, statutes, and judgments from Him in order to help them to know His mind. These laws - including the dietary laws - told them what He wanted from them and how they could draw closer to Him by obeying His will. If we, as spiritual Israel, wish to draw closer to God and to be obedient to His will, then it is necessary for us to keep these laws as well. Since the dietary laws are certainly easy to follow and obey, and nothing in Scripture indicates that these laws have been done away with, they are still in force for us today.
Also, we read in Deut. 14:1 - "Ye are the sons of Yahweh your God...thou art an holy people unto Yahweh your God, and Yahweh hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." This explains even more clearly to whom these laws applied: not just to Israelites, but to sons of God - a chosen group, a peculiar people. We can see a parallel between this Old Testament passage and I Peter 2:9 in the New Testament: "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people..." The similarity between these passages underlines the fact that our Father sees both physical Israel in the Old Testament and the spiritual elect in the New Testament in the exact same light. If we aspire to be sons of God today and to belong to the spiritual group described by Peter, then these laws do apply to us, just as they applied to those to whom they were originally given.
But why would Yahweh give us these laws in the first place? For health reasons, as many people believe? No, while there may be health benefits in following the dietary laws, nowhere in Scripture does it indicate that this is why the laws were given. Rather, look at Lev. 11:43-45 - "Ye shall not make your selves (or souls) abominable with any creeping thing...neither shall ye make yourselves unclean with them, that ye should be defiled...For I am Yahweh your God: ye shall sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy..." Seen in this light, the several scriptures we see here and elsewhere concerning "making a difference between the unclean and the clean" (Lev. 10:10; Lev. 11:47; Eze. 22:26; Eze. 44:23) begin to take on a new light. It seems that the difference being made is not between clean and unclean foods, but between pure or defiled people: i.e. between people who refrain from eating certain foods in obedience to God's will and people who are defiled by eating anything that comes before them. It is not the food that defiles them, but the disobedience to the few simple rules concerning food that God has given them.
Some people may argue against keeping the dietary laws by quoting Rom. 14:17: "...the kingdom of God is not meat and drink" This statement by Paul is true, of course. "Meat" here means "eating, or by extension, food" (Strong's Concordance). We cannot hope to enter the kingdom based on what we eat or refrain from eating, for these are just physical acts which in themselves gain us nothing. What brings us closer to our Father and gains us His approval is our obedience to His will. Yahshua said in John 4:34, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work." How appropriate that here the word "meat" means "food, especially articles allowed or forbidden by the Jewish law." The importance of the dietary laws lies not in the act of eating or not eating - it lies in the inherent concept of obedience to our Father's will concerning us. Only when we continually strive to obey Him in all that we can, including the dietary laws, can we truly partake of that most important "meat" of all - pleasing our Father by doing His will.
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