It is almost the seventh Biblical month, and the fall feasts are just around the corner. YHVH gave us these feasts as celebrations, but also as teaching aids to learn more about Him and His Kingdom. As the feasts draw near, we need to look into what YHVH requires of us, because we want to please Him. This sometimes leads to discouragement, because we can’t keep all the commandments due to the absence of a Temple. Some people even teach that we, in the diaspora, are not to celebrate the feasts at all because we don’t live in the land. This mindset affects other areas as well, and we have been asked if we are to do the commandments at all seeing that we can’t do it all properly.
We shall first seek to find proof that we are to keep the commandments wherever we are and then see if we can find out to what an extend we are to do it.
Are we to keep the commandments in the diaspora?
When we read Leviticus 26, we learn that if we don’t keep YHVH’scommandments, we will eventually go into exile. The context of the passage is the keeping of YHVH’s commandments, especially the Sabbatical year.
33 â€˜You, however, I will scatter among the nations and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and your cities become waste.
This has taken place more than once, there has been an Assyrian and a Babylonian exile. The question is: Did those believers, who were in exile, keep YHVH’s commandments?
We read about Daniel and his friends who were in Babilon, yet kept the instructions YHVH gave regarding what to eat.
8 But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile himself with the kingâ€™s choice food or with the wine which he drank; so he sought permission from the commander of the officials that he might not defile himself.
Daniel could only be defiled if he ate food that was not according to YHVH’s standards. So YHVH gave them favor with the official and it was granted them. Daniel’s friends also refused to bow down to another god, and was thrown into a burning furnace for not doing so. From this we can conclude that they kept YHVH’s commandments to the extend that was possible to them.
You can say that was just one example, however, read the following passage in Nehemiah. This is a key passage to help us in our understanding.
8 â€œRemember the word which You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, â€˜If you are unfaithful I will scatter you among the peoples; 9 but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.â€™
Carefully read through these verses from the book of Nehemiah. Take note of the sequence of events here. The people were unfaithful and were scattered as a result of that. Then YHVH said, “but if you return to Me and keep My commandments and do them, though those of you who have been scattered were in the most remote part of the heavens, I will gather them from there and will bring them to the place where I have chosen to cause My name to dwell.“
We are first to return to YHVH, that is repentance, then start keeping His commandments and do them and then He will gather us and bring us back to the land. The place where YHVH has chosen to cause His name to dwell is the land of Israel. We have previously done a study on this topic “Pilgrimage feasts and Jerusalem, His resting place forever” There is, however, no specifics given of how long it would be from the time we repent and do the commandments to the return. For some, it is sooner than for others. We will have to wait for YHVH’s perfect time and not try to force this to happen by converting to Judaism for example. It says “I will gather them from there and will bring them”
If this passage does not convince you, nothing will. I don’t really understand why people are fighting this so much. YHVH gave us His instructions to bless us. YHVH’s commandments are life, He said in Deuteronomy that we are to choose life!
19 â€œI call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
We have written quite a few articles on how keeping YHVH’s commandments really are a blessing to us. It is, for example, scientifically proven eating pork is bad for our health, having marital relations during the woman’s period can be a cause of cervical cancer. Having a day of rest is essential to good health and we can go on and on. Did you know that less Jews died during the black plague because of keeping YHVH’s commandments? They were keeping the purity laws and I read an article that states that the Black Plaque peaked in the springtime, Passover time. In preparation for the Feast of Unleavened bread, the Jews removed all leaven from their homes, thus removing the food source of the rodents as well. This resulted in less Jews being affected by the plaque. It was so obvious that the Jews were accused of causing the plaque and were persecuted because of this. Meanwhile, it was their obedience to YHVH’s commandments that protected them. Very interestingâ€¦2
Nevertheless, we do not need reasons to do YHVH’s commandments, we are to want to do His commandments out of loving obedience for our Heavenly Father. We are just sharing this with you so you can see how it blesses us when we are obedient.
How are we to keep the commandments?
We find an answer in 1 Chronicles 28:7-8. Here YHVH speaks to Solomon before he became king of Israel. Take note of the wording…
1 Chronicles 28:6â€“8
6 â€œHe said to me, â€˜Your son Solomon is the one who shall build My house and My courts; for I have chosen him to be a son to Me, and I will be a father to him. 7 â€˜I will establish his kingdom forever if he resolutely performs My commandments and My ordinances, as is done now.â€™ 8 â€œSo now, in the sight of all Israel, the assembly of YHVH, and in the hearing of our Elohim, observe and seek after all the commandments of YHVH your Elohim so that you may possess the good land and bequeath it to your sons after you forever.
There is a very important message in this passage, not only for Solomon, but for us too. David is recounting what YHVH said to him and then admonishes Solomon to observe and seek after all the commandments of YHVH. He told Solomon that YHVH will establish his kingdom forever if he resolutely perform His commandments and ordinances and observe and seek after all the commandments of YHVH. We may not have a kingdom, but this shows us what YHVH wants.
Two words stand out to me”resolutely” and “seek.” Let’s look at these words.
When you look up resolutely, it is defined as “showing firm determination or purpose“3
Here is the definition as per the Dictionary of Biblical languages.
×—Ö¸×–Ö·×§ (á¸¥ÄÂ·zÇŽq): v.; â‰¡ Str 2388; TWOT 636â€”1. LN 78.1â€“78.27 (qal) be harsh, severe, i.e., be in a state of a high degree of intensity (Ge 41:56); 2. LN 27.48â€“27.54 (qal) be hard, i.e., not be willing to learn information, implying the information would change the response to a situation (Ex 7:13); (piel) harden (Ex 4:21); 3. LN 74 (qal) be strong, i.e., have the ability to accomplish what is intended, implying an element of resolve is needed as well (Jos 1:6); (piel) strengthen (2Ch 11:11); (hif) become powerful (2Ch 26:8); (hitp) strengthen oneself (Nu 13:20); 4
This word “hazaq” was translated as “hardened” in Ex 7:13 and Ex 4:21, in the context of the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. Pharoah was unchanging. Think about this in the context of YHVH’s commandments. That is the kind of resolve that is required.
Let’s also look at “seek”
fut. O pr. TO RUB, TO BEAT, TO TREAD, TO TRAMPLE with the feet, like the Syriac Ü•ÜªÜ°Ü« to tread or beat a path; Arab. Ø¯Ø±Ø³ to rub, to thresh; used figuratively, terere libros, to learn, to study. (Kindred to this are the roots mentioned under ×“Ö¸Ö¼×¨Ö·×šÖ°, all having the signification of treading. The letter R being softened into a vowel, there is formed from this root the biliteral ×“Ö¼×•Ö¼×©×, comp. ×”Ö¸×œÖ·×šÖ°, ×”×•Ö¼×šÖ°; and both of these are also found in the Germanic stock of languages, with the sense of threshing: drefchen, Dutch dÃ¤rfchen, Lower Germ. dÃ¤fchen.) In Hebrewâ€”
(1) to tread a place with the feet (betreten); hence, to go to a place, to frequent it; with an acc. 2 Ch. 1:5; Am. 5:5; followed by ×Ö¶×œ Deut. 12:5. Part. pass. ×“Ö°Ö¼×¨×•Ö¼×©Ö¸××” a city frequented, celebrated, Isa. 62:12. Hence with acc. of pers. to go to any one with prayers, to implore his aid; so ×“Ö¸Ö¼×¨Ö·×©× ×Ö¶×ªÖ¾×™Ö°×™Ö¸ Psa. 34:5; 69:33; 105:4; in other places, especially in the later Hebrew, followed by ×œÖ° 2 Ch. 15:13; 17:4; 31:21; ×Ö¶×œ Job 5:8. Compare NIPHAL No. 1. Farther, the signification of â€œgoing toâ€ is applied to that of seeking, inquiring, demanding; also, of caring for. 5
We are to have a certain resolve when it comes to YHVH’s commandments, a zeal to do it to the best of our ability. We are also to learn and study all of YHVH’s commandments with this same zeal. That is how we get to know our Heavenly Father, by knowing what He requires of us. We have written an article about this before “What does YHVH require of us?
David continues in 1 Chronicles, confirming this…
1 Chronicles 28:9
9 â€œAs for you, my son Solomon, know the Elohim of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for YHVH searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.
How does YHVH want us to serve him? With a whole heart and a willing mind. This a choice we have to make. YHVH knows; He searches our hearts and knows our thoughts. If we seek Him by learning what He wants us to do and doing it, we will find Him, we will know His character. However, if we forsake Him, He will reject us forever. How are we to understand this? The way we understand this is that we are to study YHVH’s commandments and do the very best we can to obey. When we say things like we are not living in the land, and can therefor not obey YHVH’s commandments, we are just justifying our disobedience. Does not the earth belong to YHVH, has He not made it all? We cannot justify disobedience! Surely, there are commandments we can’t keep, like the sacrifices, for example. There is currently no Temple, so this is logical, but when you carefully read through YHVH’s instructions, you will see that there are plenty we can do.
Y’shua, our example
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Messiah Y’shua, 6 who, although He existed in the form of Elohim, did not regard equality with Elohim a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Y’shua was obedient to the point of death. Was this easy for Him to do?
38 Then He said to them, â€œMy soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.â€ 39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, â€œMy Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.â€
In Luke, we read that Y’shua’s sweat became like drops of blood…
42 saying, â€œFather, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.â€ 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground.
Y’shua is the perfect example of obedience, He was obedient unto death. Paul added, even death on a cross which is a very humiliating way to die. Yet, Y’shua was willing. That is to be our attitude in obeying the Father. We are to be willing to do our very best. However, nobody can force another person to be obedient to YHVH, it is our own choice. If someone is forcing you to be obedient, then you are part of a cult and should run. Our relationship with YHVH is personal and He will gently lead us to do His will. Each of us will give account of our own life.
Then there are obedience and obedienceâ€¦
When we are obedient out of route routine, we are just practicing religion. We don’tÂ please YHVH when we are merely practicing religion. YHVH wants us to practice love and be obedient to Him because we love Him. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines religion as follows:
It is not wrong to have certain beliefs, participate in ceremonies or follow rules. It is how we do it that is important. Do we do it out of rote routine? It is easy to follow an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies and rules, but it is not the same as having a loving relationship with our Heavenly Father and live in total devotion to Him. YHVH knows our hearts, He knows if we do what we do out of rote routine or if our heart is indeed in it. In Isaiah, YHVH gives us the definition of practicing mere religion.
13 Then YHVH said, â€œBecause this people draw near with their words And honor Me with their lip service, But they remove their hearts far from Me, And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,
We will also be tested along the way to see if we are obedient from the heart.
YHVH tests us
YHVH has given us His commandments as a gift, as instructions for living a righteous and blessed live. However, He will test us also to see what is in our hearts; to see how much we want to please Him and if we are really sincere.
4 Then YHVH said to Moses, â€œBehold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a dayâ€™s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.
2 â€œYou shall remember all the way which YHVH your Elohim has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.
We have learned that we are, firstly, to return to YHVH, this means we are to turn from our lawless ways and repent of it. The next step is to start keeping YHVH commandments wherever we may be. When we make this choice to be obedient to YHVH, we are to keep His commandments with a willing heart and to the best of our ability. We are not to pick and choose which commandments to keep and find clever excuses not to keep others that does not appeal to us.
- All quoted passages are from the New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995. We have substituted YHVH for LORD, and Yâ€™shua for Jesus.
- Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- Gesenius, W., & Tregelles, S. P. (2003). Geseniusâ€™ Hebrew and Chaldee lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.