BEWARE OF THE ‘SIDESTEPPING’ HYPOCRITES - Mark 7:1-23

Shabbat Shalom everyone, praise be to יהוה our Elohim – may we all truly declare the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light – come on can you declare praise to  יהוה? How many of you have faced some rather tough encounters of late with people who seemingly are on your case because you have chosen to fully walk without compromise? Last week we looked at following יהוה completely as we looked at the great example of Kalěḇ.  And as we endeavour to do all that יהוה commands us to, out of a pure desire motivated by our love for Him, it seems at times that there are always critics around. I too this week have had my fair share of criticism thrown my way – and from people we have not even spoken to in almost 2 years. Let me remind you that as you ‘stay in’ Messiah, daily walking as He did, then you will come up against much persecution and more often than not it will come from the ‘religious’ traditionalists. A what? I call them religious traditionalists simply because they hold religiously fast to their traditions and have in the process let go of the pure commands of Elohim! I have a message tonight called, “Beware of the ‘sidestepping’ hypocrites” or - Beware of being a sidestepping hypocrite!

Turn with me to Marqos/Mark 7:1-23 – a very powerful passage that has much for us to learn from and recognise how the same sidestepping tactics are still happening today. (Read).

יהושע’s taught ones were eating and along come the Pharisees and some scribes only to criticise them for eating without having washed their hands. How true it is today that the religious traditionalists will always be looking for something to point out – that very “something” that just does not adhere to their prescribed way and teaching! It had become tradition of the elders to ceremonially wash one’s hands in a prescribed manner before eating food. And this as well as many other traditions developed through their own interpretations were considered as binding as the written law and was passed down to each generation and taught as law. Later, in the third century C.E., the oral tradition was collected and codified in the Mishnah which, in turn, provided the foundation for and structure of the Talmud (commonly known as the ‘oral law’ that eventually was written down and became ‘written’. This Talmud or oral laws were devised as a means to place a fence around the Torah with the vain thinking that by adding these oral laws they would protect the Torah and as a result the traditions became more important than the Truth. This oral tradition and practice of washing one’s hands became a formal practice before eating food as it was thought that if they had come from the marketplace they may have touched a ‘gentile’ or such things as money or utensils and their tradition taught that by doing so the uncleanness of others would be transferred to them and if they ate without cleansing themselves from the impurity of the world then they would become defiled and holding fast to this tradition was taught as a means of showing devotion unto Elohim and to break this tradition was reckoned by the religious traditionalists as sin! In their eyes they saw that their traditions were as binding as law, if not more so than the law of Elohim.

They came along and challenged יהושע  accusing His taught ones for breaking the traditions of the elders by eating with dirty hands! I must just say at this point that although this may sound so ridiculous – we must understand just how serious these religious traditionalists were and in fact still are today – they enforced man-made traditions as law and were more concerned about their traditions than they were about the Living Word of Elohim and His instructions, and so too it is today with the ‘Church’ at large – they are more concerned with their traditions and man-made by-laws that sidestep the Torah rather than walking in the fullness of the Truth of His Torah! We will look briefly at some of these so called sidesteps shortly.

How did יהושע  respond? He said that the Prophet Yeshayahu did well to write about them – the religious hypocrites – who put on a show – they were all talk but no action. By this I mean they showed no active regard for the Torah as they had mere lip service toward Elohim yet their hearts were not filled with the Torah but rather with their own vain and destructive traditions. Hypocrites He called them – the word Hypocrite from the Greek “hupocritēs (ὑποχριτης). The word is made up of hupo (ὑπο) “under,” and krinō (κρινω) “to judge,” and referred originally to “one who judged from under the cover of a mask,” thus, assuming an identity and a character which he was not. This person was the actor on the Greek stage, one who took the part of another. The Pharisees were religious actors, so to speak, in that they pretended to be on the outside, what they were not on the inside.

Man looks at the outside but יהוה looks at the heart! I will be bold enough to go on to say that today the religious hypocrites we see performing valiantly in the flesh are in fact most ‘Christians’ as they are the ones ‘who judge from under the cover of a mask’ assuming an identity and character that they are not, and the saddest thing about it is that for many they do not even know it. This may sound brutal – but hear me out here – Christianity in many ways has ‘sidestepped’ the Torah of Elohim and wears a mask claiming to be children of Elohim, yet they blatantly disregard His commands – who are the actors here? They have staged a very pompous show of religious rules and regulations disguised as freedom under grace, yet abuse the Torah of Freedom by taking the favour/grace of Elohim as a licence to sin and be lawless!

יהושע’s words are as alive today as they were then – and so what His words addressed then and now are the same – and that is the “True source of authority” – is it tradition or Scripture? For many they will answer very quickly Scripture and they do well to do so for it is the only source of Authority, yet by their actions which display their wicked hearts they will say Scripture is the authority yet bows speedily under the traditions of man! He also addressed here that the true nature of defilement comes not through the non-compliance to their oral traditions but rather through the forsaking that which should be upon your heart:

Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 “Hear, O Yisra’ĕl: יהוה our Elohim, יהוה is one! 5 And you shall love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your might. 6 And these Words which I am commanding you today shall be in your heart, 7 and you shall impress them upon your children, and shall speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up, 8 and shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 “And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

What defiles a man is not eating food with dirty hands but rather what comes from his heart – food goes in through your intestinal system and out through the bowels into the toilet where it is purged away. But what comes from your heart counts and as we see here – His Words – His Torah shall be in our heart. The Pharisees were hypocrites as they professed to worship Elohim but gave no genuine worship from their hearts – that is the very hidden centre of their thoughts and decisive choices – they did not meditate on the Torah day and night but rather on their own stinking thinking and their worship was in vain! It was futile – the term “In vain” is matēn (ματην) meaning “fruitlessly, without profit.” The verb is mataioō (ματαιοω) meaning “to make empty, vain.” The word really speaks of the futility of an action, and the failure to attain a proposed end. All their worship was fruitless and without profit! How sad it is today to see all the hoops that many churches puts up for its congregants to jump through – and all in vain!!!

The Pharisees taught the rules of men as authoritive teachings and here יהושע charges them with abandoning the commands of Elohim and His Torah as they were instead adhering religiously to the traditions of men. יהושע  rejected the assumed authority of oral traditions and by-laws of man which have its origin in man – that is what he came to take out of the way!

Qolasim/Colossians 2: 14 “having blotted out that which was written by hand against us – by the dogmas which stood against us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the stake.

He blotted out that which was written by hand of man – all those catechisms and by-laws and dogmas of man He nailed to the stake to free us from enslavement to traditions that we may walk in the Torah of Freedom with great joy, aměn!

The religious traditionalists were very clever at what I would call ‘sidestepping’ the Torah of Elohim in order to observe their own traditions and יהושע  hits them straight with just another example of their twisted traditions that gave them the justification in their own hearts and minds reason not to be concerned with and sadly forsake the Torah of Elohim. He illustrated their sin by the observing of their traditions.

יהושע  quoted from the Torah – from the Ten Commandments the 5th command regarding parents and the responsibility of children toward their parents and whoever disobeyed these commands was to be put to death. This incidentally is the first command with a promise! After quoting the Truth – The Torah – יהושע  quotes a scribal tradition that sidestepped the command of Elohim regarding parents and differentiates the two by separating the Word of Elohim by their traditions saying, “But you say…” This was an emphatic statement showing direct contrast with Moshe’s words or rather the words of the Torah. To understand what was happening here it is important for us to realise that according to the tradition of the elders it was possible for a person to declare all his possessions to be ‘Qorban’ and therefore absolve himself from the 5th commandment.

QORBAN – this is the transliteration of the Hebrew term used to refer to that which was devoted to Elohim and it was a dedicating formula pronounced over money or property that was donated to the temple and it service by an inviolable vow. Such gifts were used for religious purposes and they twisted the Torah of keeping a vow by saying that if a son declared that the resources needed to support his parents were ‘Qorban’ then according to their tradition he would be exempt from the command of Elohim and his parents were then, according to their traditions, excluded from any claim on receiving any help or aid from their son in old age. The scribes emphasised that this vow of ‘qorban’ was unalterable as they took Bemidbar/Numbers 30:1-2 out of context here and said that their traditional law held priority over his family responsibilities and so they no longer let or forced him to do anything for his parents – just one of the sick ways they ‘sidestepped’ the Torah for self!

By their Traditions they nullified the Word of Elohim.

The word ‘nullify’ is the Greek word ‘akyrountes, from ‘akyroō’, used in the papyri for annulling contracts. To sanction religious donations at the expense of violating יהוה’s command regarding one’s duty to parents was to set human tradition above יהוה’s Word. The ‘qorban’ vow was only one example of many other traditions that did likewise, whereby the scribal traditions distorted and obscured the Word.

The same happens today – centuries of traditions constructed by man has come in and distorted and obscured the Word to the point of it being nullified in the lives of so called religious traditionalists as they are role playing as children of Elohim in vain!

How sad it is that all too quickly many will seek out first the traditions in order to nullify their required obedience to the Living Word!!! We are told to seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness – that is to seek out how we are to live according to His instructions – His Marriage Covenant with His Bride – yet the masses do not seek!

After having exposed the twisted wickedness of their traditions יהושע addresses the crowd once again coming back to the original accusation the scribes and Pharisees had in the non-observance of their tradition of washing hands.

What יהושע explains here is very simple – He was saying that ingesting some food with a little bit of dirt on it could not harm them, as the food does not enter the mind but rather passes through the bodily function through the intestines and the bowels into the toilet – sorry for the almost too graphical description – but it is then purged from the body. The food that you eat is digested and is purged out of the body!!! He did not suddenly change Torah on clean and unclean food – He was stating the obvious – you eat – you digest – you go to the toilet and that which you ate it gone out of your body – finished!

Many today sadly twist this very Scripture to their own destruction thinking that they are free to eat anything and so by their oral traditions sidestep the Torah on clean and unclean animals and sadly many translations, even more recent Greek ones have added the text saying that he declared all foods clean. This is absolutely absurd. First of all – the issue at hand was not about WHAT the disciples were eating – and I can assure you that they were not having ham sandwiches – it was about them not performing the commands of men by washing their hands in an oral tradition that was set up by the elders, which for them became law and to break it was sin to them. Well יהושע  knew no sin, and so He did not break the Torah – but rather exposed and smashed down the commands of men! Come on – think about it here for a moment – Was He really dismissing the Torah on foods? No way for the Word also says that if you break one you break them all:

Ya’aqoḇ/James 2:10 “For whoever shall guard all the Torah, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.

Now there are many today that will again twist even this verse saying that if you want to try to keep Torah you better do it all and so use it as a means to say we cannot measure up so therefore we do not have to do any of it and quickly sidestep the Torah of Elohim – very dangerous ground to be on I warn you!

Mattithyahu/Matthew 5:17-18 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to complete. 18 “For truly, I say to you, till the heaven and the earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall by no means pass from the Torah till all be done.

You have to just have a little more than a few brain cells to realise that He surely could not on the one hand be teaching the eternal viability of the Torah and then on the other hand be dismissing the laws of clean and unclean food laid out very clearly for us in the Torah!!! He is the Living Torah and again the issue being dealt with had nothing at all to do with what they ate but rather had to do with forsaking the Torah by holding fast to traditions of man, and those who do that are hypocrites, acting out as though they are obedient children of the Most High yet are wicked and twisted actors worshipping in vain.

I know that I sound pretty harsh about this and I ought to be – as I once too held to traditions while forsaking the commands and thought I was right – well I was wrong and I praise יהוה for opening my eyes that I might know Him and love Him having His commands upon my heart that I might do them and teach others to do likewise as His Ruach leads us.

My message tonight is simply a reminder to beware of those sidestepping hypocrites of whom some of us were once too like them – but now we can walk straight and not have to sidestep our way to destruction.

The Church, at large, today has sidestepped many of His commands by the enforcing of their traditions. What are some of those?

I am busy writing a book called, “Christianity – Truth or Dare” and will be looking at some of these so called sidestep moves that Christianity has performed and in so doing has forsaken the Torah of Elohim for their man-made traditions. These include and are not limited to:

The Name – tradition nullified the name and tradition has replaced His Name nullifying the 3rd command as having any effect on them as they clearly have brought his name to naught – it doesn’t matter they say what we call Him! Sick and twisted tradition! יהוה tells us that He will not hold anyone guiltless who bring His Name to naught!

The Sabbath and Appointed Times or rather His Feasts – without going in to detail – we all know that the church through Constantine forsook the commands of Wayyiqra/Leviticus 23 and nullified its effect upon them by holding fast to what was already then deep rooted sun-worship traditions, such as the yearly equinoxes and solstices which later was labeled under the cover of a mask as ‘Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Valentine’s Day etc.’

Food – what is clean and unclean makes no difference to a hypocrite as they twist Scripture, like what we have read tonight in order to nullify Wayyiqra/Leviticus 11 and Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 14.

Trinity – through traditions taught as teachings the commands of men they have nullified the Truth of the Shema – יהוה is One – NOT three!!!

Rapture – traditions have taught that the church will be raptured before or midway through the tribulation, or better known as the day of distress of the day of Jacob’s trouble – the Rapture is a theory and teaching of man birthed in the mid 1800’s – Do you know that?

Let me read to you some insight into this origin of the rapture theory:

A Church of Scotland minister, named Edward Irving, was the first to preach the "rapture gospel."

a young Scottish girl, named Margaret MacDonald, fell into a "trance". After several hours of "vision" and "prophesying" she revealed that "Christ’s" return would occur in two phases, not just one. "Christ" would first come visibly to only the righteous, then He would come a second time to execute wrath on the unrighteous in the nations.

This "secret rapture" was promoted by Irving claiming he, too, had heard a "voice" from heaven commanding him to teach it. (Some modern researchers submit that Irving's speculations of the "rapture were influenced by the Spanish Jesuit priest, Lacunza whose book Irving had translated in 1827 under the title, The coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty)

John Darby, an Englishman and pioneer of the "Plymouth Brethren" movement became caught up in the rapture philosophies of Irving. When Darby heard about Irving's activities, he travelled to Scotland to talk with Irving and his followers about the "secret rapture". It was Darby who became the master developer of "scriptural" arguments to support the theory/doctrine that evolved.

Darby's development of the "rapture" theory has since become widely popularized in Britain and finally in the U.S., largely as a result of Cyrus Scofield's notes in his Scofield Reference Bible.

Belief in the "secret rapture" doctrine has become so widespread among today's "evangelicals" and "fundamentalists" that many sitting in the pews assume that the teaching dates back to the apostles themselves and the Messiah. Regardless of whom one regards as the originator of the teaching — whether Irving, Darby, Margaret MacDonald, or a Jesuit priest - one thing is obvious; the "secret rapture" theory is of relatively recent origin. Moreover, it has no basis in fact nor was it ever a teaching of the Messiah, Apostles, or the early movement begun by Messiah.

The essence of my message tonight is this - beware of the sidestepping hypocrites – we have the Truth – you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.

Perhaps traditions have also had you bound and it seems so hard to let go of them – and as a result even harder to walk in the Torah – all the hand written dogmas written against us have been blotted out – destroyed and so as we daily choose not to hold fast to the teaching and traditions of men but rather to the purity and truth of His Living Word may we walk in freedom – but I warn you tonight – Beware of those sidestepping hypocrites. If you have been sidestepping in some areas – get back on the straightway – the narrow path that few find – it leads to life – the Torah represents life – יהושע  is the Living Torah – He is the Life – let us walk steadfast in Him, aměn!

What is upon your heart? – Is it His Torah as you meditate day and night on or are their vain traditions and fleshly lusts gripping your heart that you cannot seem to be able to let go of and as a result out of your heart, instead of His Torah, flows evil reasonings, adulteries, whorings, murders, greedy desires, theft, wickedness, deceit, indecency, evil eye, blasphemy, pride and foolishness???

These, let me remind you, are the works of the flesh that proceed from the hearts of men in their ‘playing’ or ‘acting’ out their religious traditional worship with lip service. Let the Torah of יהוה be upon your heart as it says it shall be in Deḇarim/Deuteronomy 6: 6 in what is called the ‘Shema’ which means to hear – are you listening for even יהושע  in the chapter we read tonight said that if anyone has ears let them hear! Now we all have ears – what He was saying is that those who are actually listening will hear. Meditate day and night on His Torah – look at the following Tehillim/Psalm:

 

Tehillim/Psalm 1 “Blessed is the man who shall not walk in the counsel of the wrong, and shall not stand in the path of sinners, and shall not sit in the seat of scoffers, 2 But his delight is in the Torah of יהוה, and he meditates in His Torah day and night. 3 For he shall be as a tree Planted by the rivers of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and whose leaf does not wither, and whatever he does prospers. 4 The wrong are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind blows away. 5 Therefore the wrong shall not rise in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For יהוה knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wrong comes to naught.

Beware of those sidestepping hypocrites by having the Torah upon your heart and be led forth with great joy and strength as you worship יהוה in Spirit and Truth!

יהוה bless you and guard you, יהוה make His face shine upon you and give you favor, יהוה lift up His face toward you and give you peace.

Shalom as you ‘delight’ in His Torah…!

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