Judge not … and what about unity?

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We are entering into the latter part of the Cycle of Righteousness – YHVH’s Fall Feasts: Yom T’Ruah, Yom Kippur and Succot. With every Cycle of Righteousness, we get the opportunity to learn more. Every Feast we celebrate is not just a repeat performance of what we did the previous year, but an opportunity to learn more about YHVH and His plan of redemption for mankind. With this opportunity comes a lot of study and sharing, but it also can create some contention among brothers and sisters. How should we view this? Is it good to have different opinions or should we all think and believe the same and do the same? Does it create disunity if we differ in opinion? It shouldn’t!

To have different opinions is good and necessary, and it stimulates us to study more. I believe that is the reason for some of the not so detailed instructions in Scripture. We have to search for truth and that is good to do (Prov 25:2), but we have to be sensitive to others also searching for truth. We are all on different journeys but we are hopefully heading in the same direction. We can disagree without contention, without being critical or abusive to one another. We are not to judge another for having a different opinion. Paul explains it very well in Colossians:

Colossians 2:16–17
16 Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to the Messiah.

I came across this verse in my study of Yom ‘T’Ruah and I asked myself the question again whether we should be observing a sighted moon- or conjunction- or a calculated calendar? Every feast cycle comes with new questions or sometimes even the unanswered questions of the previous cycle. Scripture is not clear about everything and there are so many differing opinions and interpretations. Everywhere you look there are forums and newsgroups discussing it. Some of these do it in a very civilized and mature way, but in some groups you see harsh remarks and hurting personal comments being passed to one another. Why?

I also want people to see things from my point of view and I like it when people agree with me. That is normal – we want to be right not wrong, but we can choose how we handle these differences and we should allow the Scriptures to speak; not our interpretation of it.

Differences in opinion can give rise to emotions of contention. We have the ability to control these negative emotions. We can disagree in a civilized unemotional manner. It is always these emotions – not the difference in opinion- that causes strife resulting in disunity.

Let me share my understanding of the passage by sharing some of the meanings of the Greek words .

If you look at what Paul means by the phrase:
“to act as your judge” 30.108 κρίνωc: : to make a judgment based upon the correctness or value of something—‘to evaluate, to judge.
Louw, J. P., & Nida

Paul said that no one is to act as our judge as to the correctness of our observance or to put it in other words to evaluate you in regard to various observances. What I found very interesting is that the things he mentioned are really the potentially contentious issues amongst believers:

The word: “food”:
5.7 βρῶμαb, τος n; βρῶσιςd, εως f: any type of solid food, particularly meat—‘solid food, meat, flesh.’
Louw, J. P., & Nida

Could this refer to the observance of kosher or clean and unclean meats? Leviticus is clear about what YHVH considers clean and unclean, but we do have varying views on how we are to keep these commandments.

The word: “drink”:
23.34 πίνωa (also πίννω in some manuscripts); πόσιςb, εως f: to consume liquids, particularly water and wine—‘to drink, drinking.’
In a number of languages a clear distinction is made between drinking water and drinking alcoholic beverages. Still other terms may be employed in speaking of drinking soups or broths.
Louw, J. P., & Nida

Some believe we should drink wine and others believe we shouldn’t. Very interesting….

The word: “Festivals”:
51.2 ἑορτή, ῆς f: the events associated with the celebration of a festival or feast—‘festival, feast, celebration.’ ἀγόρασον ὧν χρείαν ἔχομεν εἰς τὴν ἑορτήν ‘(go and) buy what we need for the feast’ Jn 13:29.
Louw, J. P., & Nida

The word :”New moons”:
51.5 νεομηνία, ας f: a festivity associated with the appearance of the new moon—‘new moon festival.’
Louw, J. P., & Nida

The word: “Sabbaths”:
67.184 σάββατονa, ου n: the seventh or last day of the week (religiously the most important since it was consecrated to the worship of God)—‘Sabbath, Saturday.
Louw, J. P., & Nida

These are all issues that can cause contention and disunity and has already done so in many a group or congregation.

We do agree that we should celebrate Shabbat and YHVH’s Feasts out of love and obedience for Him, but we sometimes -even often- differ in our observance of it.

Let’s look at the rest of the verse:

The word: “Shadow”:
58.65 σκιάc, ᾶς f: a faint archetype which foreshadows a later reality—‘foreshadow, faint prototype, shadow.’ ἅ ἐστιν σκιὰ τῶν μελλόντων ‘which are a shadow of things to come’ Col 2:17.
Louw, J. P., & Nida

The word: “Substance”:
58.66 σῶμαe, τος n: an entity which corresponds to an archetype or foreshadowing—‘reality, corresponding reality.’ τὸ δὲ σῶμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ ‘but the reality is Christ’ Col 2:17.
Louw, J. P., & Nida

If I understand correctly; what Paul is saying here is that what we are doing here and now is a faint prototype of what is to come. Y’shua is the corresponding reality. We are learning and practicing. When Y’shua our Messiah comes, we shall be taught the truth and the correct way of observing all of the above. Until then we are to study and search and discuss and learn. We should -out of fear for Yahovah- diligently search the Scripture for His truth as to how to observe His commandments. I am thus not implying that we have a license to do as we please. Scripture is the authority.

We can discuss our differences and we can endeavor to correct each other in love. We can even agree to disagree knowing that all has not been revealed to us. We are not to judge others in their observance of Torah, because all has not yet been revealed to us. We only know in part.

1 Corinthians 13:9–13
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

The Greek word for ‘to know” is:
to come to an understanding as the result of ability to experience and learn – to come to understand, to perceive, to comprehend
Louw, J. P., & Nida

So what I can understand from this passage is that we are all on a journey of learning or you may call it a journey of revelation because I believe that we are taught by YHVH Himself according to our readiness and hunger, but that is a topic for another discussion. What I am trying to say is that we are to be tolerant of one another and our differences. Nobody will know the full truth until Y’Shua our Messiah comes and until then we have to live together in love and unity.

Psalm 133:1–3
1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! 2 It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. 3 It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there Yahovah commanded the blessing—life forever.

3480 יַחַד (yǎ∙ḥǎḏ): adv. [see also 3480.5]; ≡ Str 3162; TWOT 858b—1. LN 63.1–63.4 together, wholly, in unity, with each other, i.e., pertaining to being whole and in a state of oneness (Ps 133:1), note: often a strengthened position;
Swanson, J. (1997). Dictionary of Biblical Languages with Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

John 13:35
35 “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Love is what binds us together not doctrine. We tend to forget that sometimes…..

Colossians 3:14
14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.


1 – con·ten·tion [kuhn-ten-shuhn]

1.a struggling together in opposition; strife.
2.a striving in rivalry; competition; contest.
3.strife in debate; dispute; controversy.
4.a point contended for or affirmed in controversy.

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