What does being “Messianic” mean?
Many people simply have never heard of us!
And they mistake us for other groups, which are occult groups. WE ARE NOT!
We are “OF MESSIAH”, Messiah meaning ‘Anointed One,’ and in our case, the Anointed One of G-d, Yeshua the Natzri, the Son of G-d.
First of all, names and classifications of people-groups are irrelevant to G-d in His Kingdom. On earth, they serve a purpose of identity, however, and can be useful. But, they can also be harmful by segregating people, creating confusion, and engendering pride. This is not an attempt to do that, but to explain why we ‘identify’ with a wider group of people worldwide who are called “Messianic”.
It has recently come to my attention that some folks do not understand what it means when a person says he is “Messianic”.
I guess one technical definition would be “of or pertaining to Messiah”.
For those of us who say we follow “Messianic Judaism”, however, it is even more narrow than that.
First, being Messianic means that we follow the Messiah of the Jews. In our case, we believe that Messiah to be Yeshua of Nazareth. Are we “christian”? That depends on one’s understanding of what ‘christian’ means. The word “christian” is similar to the word “messianic”; it means “little christ”, in the sense of one who follows ‘christ’, just as “Messianic” means one who follows “Messiah”. Messiah means “anointed one”, and the greek word ‘christ’ is very similar. But, we who are “Messianic” are not ‘christian’ in the WAY we follow the Jewish Messiah, distinct from the way some say they follow ‘christ’, who is a very ‘greek’ person devoid of all things Jewish, including his name.
Christianity today has evolved from what the original followers of Messiah believed and practiced. The twelve apostles were all Jewish, and they continued in the instructions of the Jews for the rest of their lives, teaching Gentiles to follow the customs of the Jews. [I Cor 11:2, 2 Thess 2:15, 3:6, Matt 5:19] And they called themselves followers of “The Way”, “HaDerekh”, a Hebrew synonym for “Torah”. [Acts 19:23, 21:5, 24:22] They did not consider themselves to be outside the auspices of Jewish life, then, and defended that fact in court and before kings. It was the greeks who first called them “christians”, [acts 11:26]. But the apostles did not call themselves that until much later, and then only once [I Peter 4:16], and there is no evidence they called themselves that very often at all, since they suffered at the hands of greeks as ‘christians’. It was a derogatory term, an insulting pejorative. The Jews called the believers in Messiah “Nazarenes”, since they followed “The Way” of Yeshua the Nazarene. [Acts 24:5] Historically, LATER ‘christians’ called Jews who followed Yeshua “Nazarenes” as well.
So, we who call ourselves “Messianic” follow the Messiah, the word that would be translated as ‘christ’. But, we do not follow a greek ‘messiah’, or ‘christ’, or one who is divorced from the Torah of Israel. We follow the Messiah, Yeshua, the one who was executed as “King of the JEWS”. We follow Him the way He said to: “If you love me you will keep my commandments”.
Briefly, we believe that Yeshua of Nazareth was born miraculously, and is the Son of G-d, and that the final proof of that fact is that G-d raised Him from the dead. He died to atone for our sins, or to forgive us of all our violations of the Torah, freeing us from our guilt and from fear of punishment for it. But, where we differ from much of modern ‘christianity’ is that we believe He did not free us to go on living in those violations, but that we should strive to be like Him. He kept the Torah perfectly.
This means that He believed יהוה was the only G-d, and only ONE. [Mark 12:29, Deut 6:4] So do we. This means He went to the synagogue on Shabbat, the SEVENTH day. [Mat 12:9, Mark 1:21, Luke 4:16] So do we. This means He ate kosher according to Leviticus 11 and other Torah texts. So do we. This means He wore a four-cornered garment with “tzit-tziyot” as reminders of the Sabbath and all other commands. [Numbers 15, Matt 9:20, 14:36] So do we. This means He kept all the feasts of G-d, along with the Sabbath. [Lev 23, Matt 26:18, Mark 14:1, John 7, 8] So do we. This means that He prayed often. [Luke 5:16, 22:32] So do we.
We also see Him as a Jew, and not just a ‘guy’. This means He called Himself Yeshua, and Messiah. So do we. This means that He knew that the name of His Father, G-d, was יהוה , and He called Him that. [Mark 12:29, Matt 4:7, Matt 22:44] So do we. This means that He prayed with his head covered, and wore a head-covering everywhere. [Exodus (28:4, 37, 40)] So do we. This means that He did not eat the meat of the inner thigh. [Genesis 32.32] Neither do we. This means He honored Khanukah. [John 10] So do we.
So, while we agree that we are not to commit adultery, nor to steal, nor to kill, nor to lie, nor to covet, nor to worship idols, we as Messianics also believe the fourth command is still just as binding as the other nine. And, we see that all the feasts will be kept in the Millennial Reign [Zekh 14, Isaiah], so we also keep them now, as did Yeshua. Further, we see that the first commandment tells us explicitly that our G-d is יהוה , and not just any “concept” of god which man might contrive, and NOT a ‘god’ that goes by any other name, ie, Allah, Buddah, etc….
In short, we follow HIM, and not men. We are instructed to see HIM as our example, and not anyone else. “ANYONE who SAYS he abides in Him ought himself also to walk HIS halakha”. I John 2:6
[Halakha is a Jewish word meaning “how one walks the Torah”. Yeshua walked it in a “pure” way, not adding to it nor taking away from it. That is what He came to Israel to correct: adding to and taking away from the commands of G-d. See Mark 7:1-11]
This means that NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE says, or how lofty the argument, nor how passionately we are opposed, no one can show us in scripture that He worshipped on ‘sun-day’, or ate pork or catfish, or dressed like a Babylonian, or neglected prayer, or studied any other sacred writ than Torah and Nevi’im. He did not add to the commands, and neither did He take away. Christians teach that He took them ALL away! “I did NOT come to abolish the Torah”. “Whoever shall DO and TEACH the commandments, that one shall be called greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” [Matt 5:17,19]
It truly is that simple. And, this applies to Jew and Gentile, as “anyone” is all-encompassing.
So, being Messianic means following the “way” of the quintessential Jew: Yeshua of Nazareth. Is it “christian” to do so? Well, if one goes back to the origin of that word ‘christian’, then YES, as we are “little messiahs”, or little ones who are anointed with His anointing. If one asks whether we are ‘christian’ in the sense of other doctrines that paint a confusing picture about the Jewish Savior who died on a tree [not a ‘cross’, a word that is not even in the texts], then, no, we are not ‘modern-day christians’. We do not see three “people” stuffed into one “body” as Constantine insisted, we do not worship on the day of the Sun as Constantine commanded; we do not keep Easter as Constantine commanded, we do not keep ‘christmas’ as was imposed on christianity in early antiquity, and we do not recklessly eat anything we want; not because we are forbidden, but because we love our G-d, and choose to follow His instructions [Torah], which are good for us. [Psalm 119] We choose to follow the only example that is SURE! One cannot go wrong by imitating the Messiah Yeshua! [Phil 3:12, 1 Cor 11:1] That is what being Messianic is; it is being a Jew INWARDLY , [Rom 2:29] and that inward ‘circumcision’ being expressed in the whole life of the follower of Yeshua of Nazareth, and His Way.
Our Congregation could further define itself as a “Messianic Jewish Peshitta” community, as we also believe the Brit Khadashah was written in Aramaic first, and is best preserved in the Peshitta community’s Aramaic scriptures. Further, the above description is basically defined as “Peshitta”, meaning we follow the PLAIN MEANING of the texts. The Ancient Aramaic community of faith REJECTED the Constantinian takeover of the community of faith, and were dubbed “Peshitta” by Rome, meaning “simple”, because they rejected the new ‘trinity’ doctrine, standing firm on what the ‘plain meaning’ of the text says. In Judaism, there are four levels of studying scripture: Peshat, Remez, D’resh, and Sod. The Peshat level is the ‘plain meaning,’ and NO other means of interpreting scripture can violate the PLAIN MEANING. Example: “יהוה is our Elohim, יהוה is ONE.” This is very, very plain. So, when we then understand that HE MANIFESTS in His Son and in His Ru’akh, we cannot then say that He is THREE…..this is a violation of the plain meaning of the text.
Yeshua was born on 1 Sukkot, the 15th day of the 7th month. He had His Brit Milah [circumcision] on the eighth day of His life, the 22nd day of the 7th month:
“And when eight days were fulfilled to circumcise the child, His name was called Yeshua; for He was named by the Messenger before He was conceived in the womb.” [Luke 2:21]
Yosef and Miriam fulfilled the command to Avraham [Gen 17:12], and to all Yisra’el [Lev 12:3], by having Yeshua’s Brit Milah on this day.
This is also known as The Eighth Day: Lev 23:39, and, Simkhat Torah, the Day of Rejoicing in the Torah. It is the last “Moed” [appointed time] and the last “Mikra Kodesh” [called-out assembly] of the sacred year. It is the day that the last scripture in the Torah is read [Deu 33-34], and then the FIRST scripture [Gen 1-2:3] is read, showing the continuation of ‘life,’ the eternal nature of creation, and the ETERNAL NATURE OF HIS TORAH.
As seen in the Luke passage referenced above, a Jewish boy receives his name on the Eighth Day.
We will ALL receive this ceremony in the future! On the EIGHTH DAY of Mankind, at the end of the 7th millenium and the beginning of the 8th:
“He who has ears, let him hear what HaRuakh says to the congregations: To him who overcomes, I will give to eat of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a NEW name written, which no man knows except he who receives it.” Hitgalut 2:17 (Rev),
The Eighth Day is a picture of the eighth millennium, when the new heavens and the new earth appear. Life continues again with CREATION, the Creator Himself ‘renewing’ the heavens and the earth. Hitgalut 21:1-8
This is the ultimate goal of our faith, and, as I expounded yesterday, is reserved for those that overcome, through the blood of the Lamb and THE WORD….
Simkhat Torah is a GREAT day of REJOICING! After SEVEN days of dwelling in the Sukka, waving the lulav, remembering our wanderings and the temporary nature of our lives here, and looking forward to our eventual permanent home, we then rejoice in His Torah. The Torah is a ‘photograph’ of the soul of Messiah Yeshua and His purity and perfection.
Simkhat Torah hearkens to the time when Elohim Himself will do away with all sin, sorrow, pain, strife, disease, and suffering, and we will see the POWER of the creator when He alters the universe for us, and shows us things even the ‘brightest minds’ of man CANNOT imagine. We read the first chapter of B’reshit [Genesis], to remind us of His creative power by HIS WORD, and we look forward to the new creation when He renews ALL THINGS.
Circumcision itself is a picture of ‘renewal,’ and the ‘cycle’ of life. It is the hope that the child will have the more important circumcision, that of the HEART. This is the hope in TORAH. Shaul [Paul] did not invent the concept! Deu 10:16 “Circumcise, therefore, the foreskin of your HEART, and no longer be stiff-necked.” It is a picture of doing away with ‘rebellion’.
We all are undergoing that process now, but on The Eight Day, we will finally be there! We will be done with this painful process, and finally be in His Presence!
Yeshua IS the Torah. The first seven words in this greatest book show us a picture of this whole thing, and of Messiah’s first and second visitations:
You will notice that the bet, the very first letter of Torah, is ‘supsended,’ or ‘lowered.’ It is ‘coming down out of heaven.’ The ‘bet,’ the SECOND Hebrew letter, is a ‘HOUSE,’ a ‘Temple’, and it is seen in the very first verse as ‘coming down out of heaven.’ The VERY FIRST LETTER of scripture points to the book of Revelation’s LAST story!
“I am Alef and Tav, the beginning and the end,” Elohim tells us, when He tells us that the ‘House’ will come down out of heaven!
Then, the next red word in the picture is ET, the Alef and the Tav!
This word has no ‘definition,’ but only ‘function.’ It points to the recipient of the action of the verb that precedes it. This is a picture of Yeshua! Notice that it is the FOURTH word. Yeshua showed up on the FOURTH ‘day’ of creation: at the end of the 4th millennium; [also notice that on the fourth day in Genesis the sun, the moon, and the stars were created…. ] His earthly ministry ended and ours began on the 5th ‘day.’ This את precedes ‘Shamayim,’ or ‘the heavens,’ as did Yeshua!
The SIXTH word is ALSO the ‘alef and tav.’ It precedes ‘earth,’ as did Yeshua. The verb associated with both these pointing words is ‘CREATED.’ Yeshua created heaven and earth!
Yeshua will return at the end of the 6th millennium [which is very fast approaching!] The letter in front of this את is a ‘vav,’ a ‘hook/nail/fastener,’ Yeshua will bring the BET [House/Temple] to earth!
THIS is why I rejoice in the Torah, every day, but most especially on the GREAT DAY of rejoicing, Sh’mini Atzeret, Simkhat Torah!
I always get so ‘excited’ about doing this, and there is always something NEW to see in the Torah when the WHOLE THING is opened up to us at once!
The Song of Moshe and Yehoshua
Zeh Zikhri: [Ex 3] my remembrance by declaring:
Some people wonder why I write His Name as יהוה and not as “Lord” or as “Adonai” or as Hashem, or anything else.
I went for years not knowing that the Creator has a NAME. It is not wrong to call Him Adonai/Lord. I don’t think it makes any literary sense, however, to call Him “The Name”, which is what Hashem means. But, I do refer to ‘ha shem’, The Name, when I’m speaking Hebrew. My issue is with REPLACING His Name with any one of those titles when quoting scripture or declaring the truth of who He is, and who His Son is. He is indeed Adonai, but that is a role and a title, and not a name.
The Creator spoke very clearly to Avraham, Yitz’khak and Ya’akov, and to Moshe, and told them His Name is יהוה , and that THIS was how we were to call upon Him. The prophet Yo’el said that anyone who calls upon the Name of יהוה will be saved, and Kefa echoed that sentiment when He told us that Yeshua is in fact יהוה .
Yeshua said His Father’s Name, the name that was given to Him as the Name Above all Names [Phil 2:10-11, Acts 2:36]. The mandate by Jews NOT to say His name came much later. All the Shlikhim, Kefa, Sha’ul, Yokhanan, et al, declared His Name. The Aramaic scriptures make it abundantly clear, using the Aramaic form of the Name, which most scholars agree is indeed a direct equivalent to the Name, used for no other purpose in ancient, holy writ, that the Name is important to the B’sorah. It is placed surgically in key verses in the Brit Khadashah [NT] texts.
The below is a brief exposition on its use in both sides of the book, and is the ‘beginning’ of the support for not blotting out His Name, or calling Him ‘lord’ instead.
I’ve actually heard it that way, even when I still did not know His Hebrew Name. But, that is NOT what this is about, so chill!
There is a word, “eisegesis”, and THAT is the phenomenon I am pondering today. And that sounds very much like my title here. I see cheeses/eisegesis. Hear it? Exegesis is good; eisegesis, not so much.
Eisegesis, you may have by now inferred, means ‘reading something into a text.’ It happens ALL the time. It happens to me a lot, and I’m sure to most people, at some point or another. There are whole sitcoms loosely based on the concept of misunderstanding or ‘reading into’ something that simply is not there.
I heard a story once, where an author audited a college class incognito that was teaching his book. He disagreed with the teacher as to the conclusion on what the author was trying to communicate, and since he was the author, he was right. But the teacher surmised that the author did not know what the teacher knew. As a writer, I have had people misinterpret not only any symbolism I may use, but also very direct statements I have made. That is indeed human nature, so, not everyone who does it should be excoriated for it. But, we should be teaching readers not to read into a text nonetheless, or at least to be very cautious about it.
Watching facebook, I see this happen all the time. It just did today, and that is what prompted my train of thought. And I’m reminded, I used to have to moderate meetings at a company I worked for, because we were multinational, and too many times people did not understand each other. I have an ability at times to be able to interpret or re-state such that the hearer actually hears what the speaker says.
People read ‘into’ scripture, however, what is not there, ad nauseum. They sometimes do not realize this is what they are doing, because they have preconceptions about what they believe, and so when they read a scripture, they assume the interpretation before they read, and read into the text what is not there. This is exacerbated by bad translations that have also written words into the texts that are not in the originals, which, oddly enough, creates further eisegesis.
One of the most egregious violations of proper interpretation is in the book of Hebrews. People have understood chapter 8 to say that there is a new covenant, when in fact that passage, and the whole of the book of Hebrews, is to say that there is a new MINISTRY, a new PRIESTHOOD, in a different Temple. They seem to ignore verse six, “But now Yeshua HaMashiakh has received a MINISTRY which is higher than that [the Levitical priesthood].” The previous paragraph about the Levitical priesthood makes this abundantly clear. So, the covenant was ‘renewed’, under the second MINISTRY (verse 7), with Yeshua as the Kohen HaGadol of a second priesthood, which actually preceded the Levitical priesthood.
And then there’s this whole “godhead” thing. That word is not even in the original texts, greek nor Aramaic. What is in the text is “Elohim” [God]. “In Him, [Messiah Yeshua] all the fulness of God dwells.” That is all it says. [Col 2:9] Sha’ul expresses hope that each of us have this same thing, the ‘fulness of God’ dwelling inside of us. [Eph 3:19] I have been ridiculed simply for not passing the litmus test by saying “Jesus is God.” I won’t say it, because it is not written. He is divine [which is one of the words that gets translated into English as ‘godhead’, btw], and preceded the creation, and is the power of the creation, because He is the Word of G-d, and came out of G-d, and is the perfect image of His Father. And I say every bit of that, with fervor and conviction, repeatedly, but I am still not ‘heard,’ for doctrine. But, He, the man Yeshua, the Word, is NOT “G-d” BY HIMSELF. So-called scholars commit eisegesis on me, telling me what they think I said, when in fact I simply will not submit and say something their way.
The last one I’ll mention, though certainly the list is much longer, is the whole ‘day’ that is inserted in Ma’asei HaShlikhim [Acts] 20.
Most good translations read this way in 20:7, a verse most use to continue to justify the papal, sunday-sabbath: “And upon the first day of the week….” A really good translation has ‘day’ italicized, as it is in the version from which I extracted it [KJV]. Some don’t. The italics tell the reader that the word ‘day’ is NOT in the Greek. But most readers are not diligent enough to look that up at the front of the book.
A better translation reads:
“And at the beginning of the week, when we assembled to break bread, Pavlos declared to them, and because he was going to leave the next day, he prolonged his speech until midnight. Now there was a great glow of light from the lapidot in the upper chamber where we were gathered together.”
This actually changes the interpretation of this drastically, especially if we understand biblical Jewish culture. The beginning of the week is Saturday night, and follows “Motza’ei Shabbat”, the departure of the Sabbath, and a ceremony called Havdallah. All biblical days begin at night. This ceremony ends the Sabbath, and is the ‘signal’ that we can begin our own work. The ‘lapidot’ mentioned are the Havdallah candles, where today a single Havdallah candle could be called a “Lapidot” because it has multiple wicks. This was a Saturday night, in-home fellowship in order to eat dinner, at night, and NOT a called-out assembly of the brethren. And, it did NOT happen on Sunday, which did not start for another three hours [at midnight on Roman day-reckoning]. This is the beginning of the biblical first day, and of the week.
Yet icey-cheeses [eisegesis] has the world thinking they gathered on Sunday, and from this one, thin reference, the whole world demolishes the Sabbath of the Creator, completely ignoring His obvious affection for the day [Is 56], and Yeshua’s own observance of it. They have written into their texts what is NOT there, and for some reason, cannot let go of their intellect long enough simply to see “IT IS WRITTEN.” “It is written” is how we fight off HaSatan. He changed the Sabbath. Not Kefa [Peter], not Sha’ul [Paul] and certainly not Yeshua.
Glossary of terms: https://battzion.org/resources/glossary/
The season of Teshuva begins tonight at sundown, if the khodesh is seen. It is the season of repentance, in preparing for the Judgments of Yom Teru’ah [Rosh Hashanah] and Yom Kippur.
This season also prepares one for the sanctity of those annual days.
As we are indeed in the “Akharit HaYamim,” the Last Days, we need to be reminded of this:
“Now the Ru’akh distinctly says that in the last days some will remove from the faith, and will go after deceiving spirits, and after doctrines of demons.”
We must be careful of new and shiny things in the world of ‘religion.’
Thus says יהוה : stand in the ways and see, and ask for the OLD paths, ‘where is the GOOD way?’ And walk therein, and you shall find rest for your souls. But some said: ‘We will not walk therein.’
One of those is critical, very, to this upcoming season.
There is a trend in some of the ‘two-house’ leaning circles in Messianic “Judaism” that says we should not ‘fast’ on Yom Kippur, because that is what Jews do, and the word in Leviticus 23 does not say ‘fast’, but ‘afflict’, which only means to humble oneself. On the surface, this doctrine sounds lofty, sounds ‘holy’, and sounds like an honest attempt to get to truth. Unfortunately, this is rooted in lack of scholarship, and in anti-Semitism, and the hatred/mistrust of all doctrines of Jews, just because they are “Jewish.” They forget that Yeshua showed up and worked within the framework of 1st Century “Jew”daism during His ministry, and would not violate its ‘customs’ unless those customs violated the Torah. And He shows us clearly the way to decide of a custom violates Torah. This one certainly does not. We ARE to fast on Yom Kippur.
Yeshua kept the Jewish customs, the ones that did not contravene Torah. The custom of fasting is less a custom and more a command, though to us who are so far removed from the word ‘afflict’, we do not see that “anah”, conjugated as “anitem et nafshoteikhem”, actually does mean to fast, and scripture proves it. We assume sometimes that “Strong’s Concordance”, a lexicon published in AD 1890 by a Methodist protestant, is the ‘authoritative source’ on Hebrew. That is a DANGEROUS assumption, and discredits mountains of other Hebrew scholarship, and does NOT take into account what ancient JEWS used words for and how THEY understood them, including Yeshua.
Further, Stephen, Shaul, and the rest of the Shlikhim, were FALSELY accused of wanting to do away not only with Moshe [Torah], but with the CUSTOMS established in Yisrael. Pay attention: these were FALSE ACCUSATIONS!
“There they set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against this holy place and against the Torah; for we have heard him say that Yeshua from Natzeret will destroy this place and will change the customs Moshe handed down to us.” Acts 6:13-14
“On hearing it, they praised Elohim; but they also said to him, ‘You see, brother, how many tens of thousands of believers there are among the JEWS, and they are all zealots for the Torah. Now what they have been told about you is that you are teaching all the Jews living among the Goyim to apostatize from Moshe, telling them not to have a b’rit-milah [commandment] for their sons and not to follow the CUSTOMS. What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. So do what we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow. Take them with you, be purified with them, and pay the expenses connected with having their heads shaved. Then everyone will know that there is nothing to these rumors which they have heard about you; but that, on the contrary, you yourself stay in line wtih and keep the Torah.” Acts 21:21-24
We see here, then, that keeping the customs/traditions was part of keeping Torah, in the minds of TENS OF THOUSANDS of JEWS who believed in Yeshua! And Shaul did NOT repudiate them, but agreed with them. He also declared that he kept both the Torah and the CUSTOMS, years later when he was defending himself:
“In reply, Sha’ul said, “I have committed no offense – not against the Torah to which the Jews hold, not against the Temple, and not against the Emperor.”” Acts 25:4
“Sha’ul called a meeting of the local Jewish leaders. When they had gathered, he said to them: “Brothers, although I have done nothing against either our people or the traditions of our fathers, I was made a prisoner in Yerushalayim and handed over to the Romans. They examined me and were ready to release me, because I had done nothing to justify a death sentence. But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to the Emperor – not that I had any charge to make against my own people.” Acts 28:17-19
There is a lot to see in these two passages. First, that he did nothing against the “Temple”; the temples embodied many ‘customs’ that were not explicit in Torah, but that went hand in hand with Torah commands. You will see, one of these was fasting on Yom Kippur. Next, we see that, again, Shaul declares that he himself did nothing against the ‘traditions’/customs of ‘our fathers’, the JEWS. He is defending his obedience to JEWISH CUSTOM, even AFTER he became a believer in Messiah Yeshua. Check the book of Acts from about chapter 13 through the end, and you will see Shaul keeping customs. One of them was Synagogue attendance on Shabbat. There is no direct command to go to a Synagogue. Why, then, do we see Yeshua, Kefa and the 11, Shaul, and many tens of thousands of Messianic Jews doing so? We can also see that in the Jewish mind, the death penalty was justified for breaking CUSTOMS. Not just commands; why? Because in their minds, the customs were ‘how’ to keep the commands. They were not separate. Again, the ones Yeshua opposed were the ones that replaced or prevented actually keeping the commands. The ones that supported the commands, He upheld, as did Shaul and all the Talmidim of Yeshua.
Now, to fasting on Yom Kippur itself, the command reads this way:
“Howbeit on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement [Yom HaKippurim]; there shall be a holy convocation unto you, and you shall afflict your souls [anitem et nafshoteikhem]; and you shall bring an offering made by fire unto Yahu’ah.”
Those teaching that this does not mean fast assert that since a Methodist preacher decided it only means “afflict”, they can discard the rest of scripture concerning the Hebrew use of this word and ignore the “custom” of fasting on Yom Kippur. That is a DANGEROUS day to tinker with!
Ezra shows us how this word means to fast.
“Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river of Ahava, that we might afflict ourselves before Eloheinu, to seek of Him a right way for us, and for our little ones, and for all our substance.” Ezra 8:21
The word for ‘fast’ here is “tzom”, which is the root word for ‘abstaining from food’, lest there be any doubt about what Ezra is recording. It is followed by the phrase, “L’hitanot lifnei Eloheinu”, or “afflict ourselves before Eloheinu”. So, the fasting was done for the purpose of ‘afflicting’. Indeed, Biblical ‘affliction’ is ‘hunger’, and this is seen in many hundreds of uses of the word in the Tanak.
Let’s make sure this holds up with more than one witness, however:
“But as for me, when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth: I humbled my soul with fasting; and my prayer returned into my own bosom.” Psalm 35:13
“And if you draw out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall your light rise in obscurity, and your darkness be as the noonday..” YeshaYahu 58:10
“In those days I Daniel was mourning three whole weeks. I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled…. Then said he unto me: ‘Fear not, Daniel; for from the first day that you did set your heart to understand and to afflict yourself before Eloheikha, your words were heard…’” Daniel 10:2-3, 12
“Blow the shofar in Tzion, sanctify the fast, call a solemn assembly…” Yoel 2:15
So, we now have four scriptural witnesses that clearly show us that in many cases the word ‘anah’ is used to indicate that FASTING is the “how” we do the ‘afflicting/humbling’. In Yoel, this is the second shofar of the fall season, and the ‘fast’ is accompanied with the assembly of weeping and supplication, and this has long been seen by Jews as Yom Kippur, the Great Shofar. This was NOT a later “Jewish” concept, but a deeply rooted Torah concept. Moshe taught the Jews this, that ‘afflict’ in the context of Yom Kippur meant ‘fast’, and the prophets echoed it. It is not a “Jewish”, Talmudic custom, as many in so-called “Messianic” circles are now teaching.
This is further born out in the Mishnah, a document that was compiled in the late 2nd/early 3rd century. The Mishnah is the writing down of the orally taught ‘customs’ that were used in the Temple during the Second Temple period. Messiah Yeshua went to that Temple to observe the customs, and to show how those customs pointed to Himself. The customs of our Jewish people are very, very important. The Mishnah is NOT the Talmud. These were the students of people like Gamliel in the Brit Khadasha, who wrote down their teachings about Temple service one generation after they passed. It is the closest we can get to understanding ‘how’ they did things.
In the Mishnah, in Tractate Yoma, which explains how Yom Kippur was conducted in the Temple by the priesthood, we see very clearly that the 1st century JEWS observed a FAST in order to AFFLICT their souls before Elohim as commanded. [Yisrael was made up primarily of the tribes of Jewdah, Benjamin, and Levi, but small remnants of all the other tribes as well, and they were all called JEWS/YISRAELIS interchangeably. Two-housers can’t wrap their head around that, and it thwarts their doctrine]
In “Perek 4” of the Yoma Tractate, we read:
“But this day he scooped them out with a gold one [and was not required to empty one to the other] and with it he would bring it in [and offer it, thus conserving energy for the High Priest on this fast day]. On all other days he would….”
Here, we learn that on Yom Kippur, the High Priest is fasting, and his duty with the ashes is modified to accommodate his fast. This is the first mention in this tractate of the fast. In other words, there must have been a common understanding in Yisra’el that they fasted, that the Mishnah did not need to explain what “anitem nafshoteikhem”/afflict your souls meant! It was simply stated as a matter of fact that the High Priest was fasting that day!
We see this same defacto understanding in Perek 6, where we read:
“At each booth they would say to him, here is food and water, not that it ever happened that one needed to break his fast, rather, it was a comfort for the person to know that it was there, if needed.”
This is describing the journey of the escort for Azazel, the ‘goat for Azazel’ [known incorrectly as the “scapegoat”]. This escort was offered food, but no escort EVER took it! This is on Yom Kippur, when he is escorting Azazel to the cliff. This also shows us that there was a ‘defacto’ understanding that everyone fasted on Yom Kippur, not just the High Priest.
Then, in Perek 8 we read:
“since the Torah states regarding Yom Kippur, “You must afflict yourselves”, one consuming less than the bulk of a large date including its pit does not alleviate the affliction of fasting…”
Here, we are reading how fasting applies to ALL YISRAEL, and how it is EQUATED with ‘anah’, or “affliction”/”humbling” oneself. Again, the fact that one fasted is never mentioned, but it is treated as if everyone in Yisrael understood it this way, and it is showing some mercy on the part of Elohim and Moshe, saying that food the size of a date’s bulk is permitted in emergencies!
Again, Yeshua adhered to these customs, all the Shlikhim did, suffering and dying in never ‘admitting’ to the lies that they violated Torah AND Customs, and the biblical proof that ‘anitem et nafshoteikhem’ actually means ‘fast’ is more than sufficient. There are many, many other scriptures where ‘anah’/afflict’ is used in the context of HUNGER. Those teaching that Yom Kippur is NOT a fast are in serious error. It is NO SURPRISE to us that this doctrine is coming from TWO HOUSERS.
Our congregational Halakha on Yom Kippur is that WE FAST IN HUMILITY on that day. “How can two [or more] walk [share halakha, halakha meaning ‘your walk’ ] TOGETHER, unless they are in agreement?” If you’re ‘walking’ with those who teach this and other doctrines, please prayerfully consider the wisdom of the Prophets instead.