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The Yahushaic Covenant Volume 1

 

 

Excerpt from

The Yahushaic Covenant Volume 1
by Rav Sha'ul

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Law, Liberty, License, and Intent

by Rav Sha'ul

 

Last week we discussed how important judgment is and how training to become a Righteous Judge takes a lifetime both on this Earth and decades in walking the Torah with Yahuah.  We are all being trained to hopefully be appointed by Yahuah at some later date in life as a Righteous Judge.  Until that time, we are to withhold any judgment at all because until we are appointed by Yahuah we are nothing more than unrighteous or untrained judges and we know nothing of intent but judge solely on the letter of the law.

Today I want to address the challenges that a truly appointed Righteous Judge faces when dealing with judgment and the Law of Yahuah.  One of the roles of a Righteous Judge and anointed teacher is to “teach others” what they have learned and direct Yahuah’s children in the path of righteousness.  One of the reasons there are so few appointed Righteous Judges is because there are so few truly anointed teachers giving the assembly instruction in this area.  Today I will be giving just such instruction.  For the record, I am 50 years old, have walked in obedience to Yahuah and meditated on His Law for almost two decades now (since coming to the knowledge of His Holy Name).  I am the author of one of the most thorough websites on the internet in teaching The Law and author of 9 books.  So for what that is worth… here is what I have learned in my training to become an appointed Righteous Judge and teacher.

Obedience to the Law is progressive from letter to intent

You see, there are levels of obedience to the Law of Yahuah:

·       There is the surface level and initial training level of obedience to the letter of the Law. 

·       Then there is the goal of that obedience to the letter which is spiritual maturity and perfection.  Once we attain a mature spirit then Yahuah appoint a day of “graduation” from being a child to a mature son.  Once a mature son, we can be trusted in our obedience and understanding and at that time obedience to the Law is found in spiritual intent.  The reward for those who obey the letter seeking the righteous intent of the Law is what is called ‘liberty’.

So we are going to take a hard look at mature doctrine and define what obedience to the Law is, what liberty means, and what is license.  All are based on intent of the heart which is true righteousness.  As I have stated before the Law of Yahuah is not two dimensional i.e. black letters on a white piece of paper… the Law is 3 dimensional.  The 3rd dimension of the Law is called ‘intent’ and that is where maturity and the depth of the Law of Yahuah is found.  We as children are appointed mature sons when we have studied and “meditated” on the word of Yahuah for years and grown to understand ‘intent’.  Meditation on His Word is more than simply reading The Law and then casting untrained judgment on others.  We are to meditate on His Word day and night:

Psalm 1
1How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the judgment seat of scoffers! 2 But his delight is in the law of Yahuah, And in His law he meditates day and night.

This is how one becomes a Righteous Judge.  We meditate on His Law which means we do MUCH more than simply read it… meditate means "to think on, to contemplate, to devise, and to ponder" His Law for many years as we are trained to perfection through obedience to the letter.  This is how we transpose the law from the letter (our minds) to the innermost parts of our being… spiritually written on our hearts by the intent:

Psalms 40:7-9
7b You gave me to understand that you do not desire sacrifice and meal offering; You do not ask for burnt offering and sin offering. 8 Then I said, "See I will bring a scroll recounting what befell me. 9 To do what pleases you, my Elohim, is my desire; Your teaching is in my innermost parts.

To transpose the written Law into our “innermost parts” we focus our attention on His Law and seek Yahuah in understanding the complexity and depth of the letters on the page in order to come to the revelation of Yahuah’s intentions.  That is what is meant by “the law is spiritual” and that law is spiritually appraised:

1 Corinthians 2
 13 which things we also speak, not in words (of the Law) taught by human wisdom (the letter of the Law), but in those (words of the Law) taught by the Spirit (of Holiness which teaches us the intent behind these words), combining spiritual thoughts (our intent) with spiritual words (Yahuah’s intent behind the letter). 14 But a natural man (again speaking of the spiritually immature addicted to milk or the letter of the Law) does not accept the things of the Spirit of Yahuah (for they are still infants in maturity), for they (the spiritually discerned intent of the letter of the Law) are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them (being just a child in maturity), because they are spiritually appraised (through constant meditation). 15 But he who is spiritual (a mature appointed son who understands spiritual intent of the Law) appraises all things (through spiritual intent not the letter), yet he himself is appraised by no one (because the mature son has autonomy in his relationship with Yahuah).… in other words he reports directly to Yahuah not the letter of the law

Spiritual maturity is the state where one has contemplated or meditated on the Law of Yahuah and been trained through obedience to the letter of the Law to understand Yahuah’s intent behind the letter.  The reward for such dedication to both the letter and to understanding spiritual intent is what is called liberty.

Galatians 6 – Complete Jewish Bible
Don’t delude yourselves (that you are qualified to judge just because you are now keeping the letter of the Law): no one makes a fool of Yahuah (judges are appointed by Yahuah)! A person reaps what he sows (if you judge by the letter you will be judged by the letter). Those who keep sowing in the field of their old nature (a slave to the letter of the Law), in order to meet its (the Laws) demands, will eventually reap ruin (because the Law is spiritually discerned 1 Corinthians 2:14); but those who keep sowing in the field of the Spirit (seek the spiritual intent of the Law through obedience to the letter) will reap from the Spirit everlasting life (because the Law is designed to produce spiritually perfection). So let us not grow weary of doing what is good  (keeping the letter of the Law); for if we don’t give up (and seek the meaning or intent of The Law), we will in due time reap the harvest (the harvest he is speaking of here is spiritual maturity and liberty.  It takes many years of obedience to the letter of the Law to develop spiritual maturity and reap the harvest of that obedience).

The responsibility of a Righteous Judge in resolving a matter is to use the letter of the Law to determine if a matter requires judgment in the first place.  The “letter” is not to be used to cast judgment… INTENT is the base of righteous judgment.  The judge must establish on the basis of two or more witnesses if an apparent transgression of the letter of the law has taken place.  If it can be established that the letter of the law has been transgressed then the Righteous Judge must move then toward establishing ‘intent’ before sin can be established. 

This is how our courts of law work even today.  If someone has died at the hands of another, motive or intent must be established to determine the guilt because the act alone is not a crime.  It could be accidental homicide, negligent homicide, manslaughter not murder depending on the intent behind the act.  If there was malicious intent then it is murder.  If it was accidental and there was no intent it is not murder and falls under a lesser category.

So intent is the key to Righteous Judgment.  The Righteous Judge is appointed by Yahuah because Yahuah alone knows when a man has matured to the point of understanding Yahuah’s own intent behind giving the letter of the law.  So intent has to be established both from the standpoint of “what Yahuah’s intention was in giving the specific instruction” and “what was the intention of the person who violated that instruction”.    

A Righteous Judge must know “intent” from both sides to properly judge the Law

The question is how does the Righteous Judge establish Yahuah’s intention behind the letter of the Law?  This is where years of meditation on the Law of Yahuah come in.  Intent is determined by context  Below are the 4 guidelines I use to establish spiritual intent of the letter of the Law:

  1. Textual context or rather what is the context of the scripture around the command

  2. Historical context or rather what was the circumstance at that time in history

  3. Scriptural context or rather is this topic covered anywhere else in The Torah and if so how is it handled in those instances?

  4. Is  there a physical to spiritual parallel given for us to study to understand Spiritual Intent?

I will talk more about establishing the spiritual intent of the Law as we go and use some real life examples to demonstrate the process.  First let me use Solomon as an example of how a Righteous Judge establishes “intent”…

1 Kings 3:16-28
16 One day two women came to King Solomon, 17 and one of them said: Your Majesty, this woman and I live in the same house. Not long ago my baby was born at home, 18 and three days later her baby was born. Nobody else was there with us. 19 One night while we were all asleep, she rolled over on her baby, and he died. 20 Then while I was still asleep, she got up and took my son out of my bed. She put him in her bed, then she put her dead baby next to me.  21 In the morning when I got up to feed my son, I saw that he was dead. But when I looked at him in the light, I knew he wasn’t my son. 22 “No!” the other woman shouted. “He was your son. My baby is alive!” “The dead baby is yours,” the first woman yelled. “Mine is alive!” They argued back and forth in front of Solomon, 23 until finally he said, “Both of you say this live baby is yours. 24 Someone bring me a sword.” A sword was brought, and Solomon ordered, 25 “Cut the baby in half! That way each of you can have part of him.” 26 “Please don’t kill my son,” the baby’s mother screamed. “Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don’t kill him.” The other woman shouted, “Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby.” 27 Solomon said, “Don’t kill the baby.” Then he pointed to the first woman, “She is his real mother. Give the baby to her.” 28 Everyone in Israel was amazed when they heard how Solomon had made his decision. They realized that Yahuah had given him wisdom to judge fairly (by establishing intent).

So we see Solomon knew that when faced with the baby’s death, the loving intention of the real mother would sacrifice her own will to have her child to secure the child’s safety.  The evil intention of the imposter would be established as selfish intent i.e. “if I can’t have it… nobody can” showing no regard for the child.  Solomon’s judgment was therefore based on “intent” (as it should have been) as Solomon was a very wise and Righteous Judge and took his role as a judge very seriously.  We see Solomon ask for an “understanding heart” (knowledge of intent) from which to judge because he already had the letter of the law.  Discernment of evil is based on intent not the letter:

1 Kings 3:9
8"Your servant is in the midst of Your people which You have chosen, a great people who are too many to be numbered or counted. 9"So give Your servant an understanding heart (knowledge of intent) to judge Your people to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?"

Spiritual intent is the goal of a Righteous Judge not the “letter of the Law” alone.

 

How are Righteous Judges Trained?

Righteous Judges are trained by the Spirit of Yahuah be keeping the letter of the Law as Yahuah literally transposes the ritualistic observance of the letter of the law called “a heart of stone” into a heart of flesh which is obedience to the intent of the law:

Ezekiel 36: 26, 27
I will give you a new heart (for my Law and write my Law on it) and put a new spirit (of loving obedience) in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone (legalistic observance of The Law without love) and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.

This training in spiritual intent or true righteousness is accomplished using the letter of the law as a guide or ‘tutor’:

2 Timothy 3:17
 All Scripture is inspired by Yahuah and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of Yahuah may be (spiritually) adequate, equipped for every good work. 

This training process takes years and only Yahuah knows when a child is trained and the child is appointed a mature son by Yahuah at “the appointed time”:

Galatians 4
 1 What I am saying is that as long as an heir is spiritually immature, he is no different from a slave (to the letter of The Law), although he owns the whole estate. 2 The heir is subject to guardians and tutors (the letter of The Law, teachers, and mature elders) until the time set by his father (that the child addicted to milk becomes a full mature son capable of solid food and understands spiritual intent of the Law).

Solid food or spiritual intent is only for the mature who have had their spiritual senses trained through obedience to the letter of the law:

Hebrews 5
 12 For even though by this time (of keeping the letter of the Law) you ought to be teaching others (the Spiritual Intent of The Law), you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles (behind the letter) of Yahuah’s Word. You have come to need milk (physical adherence to the letter of The Law), not solid food (Spiritual Meat which is the intent behind the letter). 13 For everyone who continues to feed on milk (requiring ritual observance to the letter) is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (spiritual intent), for he (who is stuck on the milk/letter of the Law) is a mere infant (not ready for spiritual meat not understanding intent) 14 But solid food (intent behind the letter) is for full-grown men (mature sons), for those whose senses and mental faculties (spiritual eyes/ears) are trained by practice (keeping the letter) to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.

Spiritual perfection found in understanding the intent behind the letter can only be found in those who seek to obey the letter and meditate on the Law to seek out the intent behind it:

James 1
25 But if a person looks closely into the perfect (Spiritual) Torah, which gives freedom (liberty to the spiritually mature), and continues (to seek intent through obedience to the letter), becoming not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work it requires (and therefore will be trained and equipped in spiritual perfection 2 Timothy 3:17), then he will be (spiritually) blessed in what he does (with liberty in context). 26 Anyone who thinks he is religiously observant (by keeping the letter of The Law) but does not control his tongue (exercises unrighteous or immature judgment) is deceiving himself (to think he is qualified to judge), and his observance counts for nothing (he becomes a hypocrite and guilty of breaking the Law).

The difference between a fully mature son of Yahuah and a child of Yahuah is found in the level of obedience to the law.  The mature son obeys at the level of spiritual intent; the child at the level of human wisdom found only in the letter of the law.

1 Corinthians 2
13 which things we also speak, not in words (of the Law) taught by human wisdom (the letter of the Law), but in those (words of the Law) taught by the Spirit (of Holiness which teaches us the intent behind these words), combining spiritual thoughts (our intent) with spiritual words (Yahuah’s intent behind the letter). 14 But a natural man (again speaking of the spiritually immature addicted to milk or the letter of the Law) does not accept the things of the Spirit of Yahuah (for they are still infants in maturity), for they (the spiritually discerned intent of the letter of the Law) are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them (being just a child in maturity), because they are spiritually appraised. 15But he who is spiritual (a mature appointed son who understands spiritual intent of the Law) appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.…

This level of training was required even of our Messiah Yahusha.  He was not appointed his positions of High Priest, and Judge (See Zachariah Chapter 3) until he was 30 years old and had spent 30 years walking with Yahuah in training before he had been perfected in spiritual growth:

Luke 2:52
And Yahusha grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with Yahuah and man
Hebrews 5
8Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. 9And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation

None of us today should assume we are any better than the Messiah and think we are trained and qualified to judge without a lifetime of training in spiritual maturity.  I see and hear people all the time make statements like “I have the Holy Spirit inside me” as if they magically know everything and are in no need of growth and teaching!  That “spirit” they are referring to is the “earnest guarantee” of the future inheritance.  The “Spirit of Yahuah” is given in limited quantities in the beginning and we GROW into more knowledge over time being under teachers, tutor, and the Law.

Yahuah’s “intent” behind the letter of the Law

Yahuah is not seeking perfection... but PROGRESS in spiritual intent. The 'letter' was never the point of righteousness... 'Intent' was always the goal.  We see many examples in the Word of Yahuah that the Law was designed to develop within us a righteous seeking mindset, a mind set on the Will of Yahuah.  We see in Isaiah that Yahuah finds no pleasure in the physical sacrifices because they are not the point:

Isaiah 1:11
"The multitude of your sacrifices-- what are they to me?" says Yahuah. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats (Israel was missing the point with the physical offerings not realizing they were designed to teach spiritual sacrifice).

What Yahuah is saying is that the letter of the Law is not what He is after!  These were simply rituals with a PURPOSE or intent and we missed it all together.  The “point” was always that true sacrifice is the spiritual attitude of your heart, which is what the physical sacrifices were designed to teach us:

Psalm 51
16 For you do not desire sacrifice; else would I give it: you do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The (true spiritual) sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

It was obedience that Yahuah was trying to teach us through the physical animal sacrificial system:

1 Samuel 15:22
But Samuel replied: "Does Yahuah delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying Yahuah (obedience is the spiritual attitude of our hearts)? To obey (spiritual sacrifice) is better than (physical) sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams (this type of dying to self and living an obedient submissive life is the example Yahusha set).

So let us learn from all the physical ritual and study the examples and rehearsals and come to the proper spiritual understanding and truth.  Many times we see this same warning in scripture; that Yahuah simply gave us these rituals and the Law to train us in spiritual perfection.  These things were supposed to develop within us, our inner most parts, an obedient, reverent, and submissive heart to the will of Yahuah:

Psalms 40:7-9
7b You gave me to understand that you do not desire sacrifice and meal offering; You do not ask for burnt offering and sin offering. 8 Then I said, "See I will bring a scroll recounting what befell me. 9 To do what pleases you, my God, is my desire; Your teaching is in my innermost parts.
Psalm 51:16
15O Yahuah, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. 16For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of Yahuah are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.…
Hosea 6:6
For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of Yahuah rather than burnt offerings.

We see that it is through obedience to the letter of the Law that we are declared righteous as our spiritual senses (intent of our heart) are trained to perfection

Romans 2:13
13 For it is not those who hear the Law who are righteous in Yahuah's sight, but it is those who obey the Law who will be declared righteous.
Hebrews 5:12 -  Spiritual Immaturity
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers (of the spiritual intent of The Torah), you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of Yahuah (the letter of the Law); and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness (the Spiritual Law), for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age (mature Saints with minds set on the Law of the Spirit of Life), that is, those who by reason of use (keeping the Feasts/Torah/Sabbaths) have their (Spiritual) senses exercised (trained through physical to Spiritual parallels) to discern both good and evil (which is defined by the Law of Yahuah, good is obedience to His Commands, evil is breaking them).

We see the Apostle Paul continually impressing upon the assemblies he established to move on to maturity applying obedience to the Law with a heart that seeks after His Will and spiritual intnet:

1 Corinthians 3
1 Brothers and sisters (speaking to the spiritually immature), I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit (intent of the Law) but as people who are still worldly (slaves to the letter of the Law)—mere infants in The Yahushaic Covenant. 2 I gave you milk (the letter of the Law), not solid food (spiritually mature intent of the letter), for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly (in need of keeping the letter of the Law).

We see Paul try and explain that the letter of the law was a “shadow” or tutor to reach us of true spiritual things found in the Yahushaic Covenant:

Colossians 2
16 Therefore do not let anyone (the pagans in Colossia all around you) judge you by what you eat or drink (as you keep the Dietary Laws for good health), or with regard to (your keeping) the festivals of Yahuah, a New Moon celebration (as you keep Yahuah’s lunar calendar not the pagan solar calendar) or a Sabbath day (as you rest on The Sabbath and not on Dias Solis the pagan day of worship). 17 (You do) These (things as they) are a shadow (cast by Spiritual Truth) of the (good) things that were to come; the reality (in spirit), however, is found in The Yahushaic Covenant (they teach us through physical to spiritual rehearsals of the work of salvation).

Definition of Terms

The Righteous Judge must have a firm understanding of some very spiritual concepts as they apply to judgment:

·       Grace – the blood of the lamb covering the death decrees in The Law and satisfying the Certificate of Debt we all owed Yahuah with our lives

·       Liberty - the righteous reward of being trained to spiritual perfection by obedience to the letter of the Law.  Liberty is living by the Spiritual Intent of the Law.

·       License – transgressing the letter of the Law intentionally believing that Grace will cover your intentional transgression.

The responsibility of a true Righteous Judge in determining guilt vs. innocence is the ability to discern spiritually the intent behind Yahuah’s law and the intent of the person being accused to determine if the violation falls under the category of “liberty” or “license”.  The Judge must then move to determine if that violation falls within the context of Grace based on intent not the letter.

So let me give an example.

 

Tattoo Example of Intent vs. the Letter

Let me give a very good modern day example of unqualified judges setting themselves up as judges over the law of Yahuah unrighteously by judging using out of context sound bites according to the letter of the Law. 

James 4:11
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers (by using your own personal standards or the letter of the Law without understanding intent).  The one who (gossip) speaks against a brother or (unrighteously) judges his brother, speaks evil against the Law (because the Law is spiritually appraised by intent not the letter) and judges the Law (unfairly).  But if you judge the Law (by the letter not intent), you are not a (righteous seeking) doer of the (intent of the) Law but a (untrained) judge.

The example I am going to use today is the issue of tattoos.  Nearly 1/3 of the US population has a tattoo.  I see unrighteous judges come out of the woodwork to condemn anyone with a tattoo, judging them by the letter of the Law.  Declaring anyone with a tattoo has transgressed the Law of Yahuah.  When actually they aren’t doing the letter justice as they are taking half a verse out of context!

Today I am going to demonstrate the thought process of a Righteous Judge in this matter of tattoos.  I will demonstrate how to establish the intent of Yahuah behind the restriction of tattooing.  We are going to carefully examine/mediate on the Word of Yahuah in the process.  Our goal is to determine the status of tattooing or marking the skin to see if there is such a thing as a righteous intent behind a tattoo.  I am going to use tattoos to demonstrate how we all are to approach the letter of the law to establish spiritual intent and grow in our understanding and obedience of the law.

To establish “intent behind the letter” we must carefully examine this law in context as follows:

1.     In context of the “text” around the instruction i.e. Textual Context

2.     In context of history and who Yahuah was speaking to and why i.e. Historical Context

3.     In context of the entire word of Yahuah i.e. Scriptural Context

4.     In context of physical to spiritual parallels i.e. Spiritual Context

Only once we establish ‘context’ can we come to the depth of the law known as spiritual intent.  We cannot simply sound-bite an instruction and then levy unrighteous judgment on all those with a tattoo.  We must first establish spiritual intent before we can righteously judge another for a tattoo or any other transgression of the law. This is what it means to be a Righteous Judge.

Evaluate the instruction

First let us take a look at the sound-bite itself and progress from there.  The restriction on tattooing is found in only 1 place in The Word of Yahuah and that is

Leviticus 19 – The Complete Jewish Bible
28 Don’t cut gashes in your flesh when someone dies or tattoo yourselves (in honor of the dead)

There was no concept 2,500 years ago or Hebrew word for what we call in modern times tattooing.  The English word ‘tattoo’ is a transliteration of the Hebrew word קַעֲקַע (qa`aqa`pronounced Kah ak ah ), Stong’s H7085.  The Strong’s definition is : “an incision or gash” made to leave a “mark”.

Textual Context

The first thing a Righteous Judge would do is understand the word in its original language then put this restriction on making a gash or incision for the purpose of creating a mark into context of the text around it.  The context of this instruction is set in the first part as referring to “when someone dies” or “in honor of the dead”.  That is the textual context of this restriction.  So the full context of Leviticus 19 is replacing the word ‘tattoo’ with the actual definition in Hebrew we get:

Leviticus 19
28 Don’t cut gashes in your flesh or make an incision or gash in your skin to make a mark in honor of the dead.

That is the first step in determining Spiritual Intent… put the sound bite back into textual context to get the real meaning.  When we do this we find that Leviticus 19:28 is a prohibition on marking or cutting yourself to honor the dead.  But why would Yahuah give this instruction?  What was going on at that time to prompt such a restriction?

Historical Context

Now that we understand textual context; the next step in determining Spiritual Intent behind the letter of the Law is to meditate on this restriction from the standpoint of historical context.  In other words, who was Yahuah speaking to at the time and what was the circumstance that existed that would motivate this type of restriction from cutting gashes or cutting marks into your skin in honor of the dead?

It doesn’t require much research into ancient history of Egypt to know that cutting gashes to produce “marks” i.e. scares on your skin was done as a pagan practice in honoring the dead.  In fact, tattooing in Egypt was done entirely in honor of other deities marking the person for their specific pagan gods.  Cutting or making gashes into your skin in Egypt was done to:

  • to connect with the Divine.

  • as a tribute or act of sacrifice to a deity.

  • as a talisman, a permanent amulet that cannot be lost, to provide magical or medical protection.

So in context of history… or Historical Context Yahuah was giving specific instructions to the Israelites coming out of 500 years of bondage in Egypt.  This restriction in Leviticus is a very specific instruction as relating specifically to the practice of honoring the dead by cutting your skin.  This is not in any way the purpose of “tattoos” in today’s society.  So the question concerning tattooing remains unanswered because the restriction in Leviticus is a specific restriction on cutting your skin in a pagan sacrificial service honoring the dead.  That was Yahuah’s “intent” behind the letter of that law in both context of the text itself and history.

We even see a clear example of this pagan “custom” of cutting gashes into the skin other places in scripture:

1 Kings 18:28
So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed.

In 1 Kings we see the enemy army doing just this as it was a pagan custom to honor the fallen on the battle field (the dead).  This pagan practice of cutting gashes into your skin was “let their blood flow” call Bloodletting.  This is not what we do in modern times called tattooing there is a major difference. 

We are getting closer to understanding spiritual intent beyond just the sound bite “letter of the Law”.  Remember just because the English word in your Bible says ‘tattoo’ does not in any way imply what we think of as tattoos today.  You must do a little more digging and meditating on the word if we are to be Righteous Judges. 

The word translated ‘tattoo’ in Leviticus means to cut an “incision or gash” into your skin as they were doing on the battlefield in 1 Kings.  Now that we have put the sound-bite back into textual context as it related to “cutting your skin in honor of the dead” and historical context as it related to Israel continuing pagan customs coming out of Egypt; we have established that the restriction is a very specific restriction.  Yahuah was restricting the Israelites from the practice of cutting gashes into their skin in a pagan sacrificial service in honor of the dead.  Therefore the need for the “law” in Leviticus 19:28.  This practice had to be stopped as it was not a requirement of Yahuah but in fact an act of idolatry.

Scriptural and Spiritual Context with a Physical to Spiritual Parallel of tattooing

The next step in properly judging the Law as a Righteous Judge is to evaluate the entire Word of Yahuah to see if making marks on your skin is mentioned anywhere else.  This is called Scriptural Context.  If so what is the context of those scriptures.  Do all scriptures referring to marking/tattooing your skin condemn such a practice?  Are there any examples in scripture that would support a “righteous intent” behind marking your skin?  Most of all is there an example of a spiritual truth that these physical marks on your skin would serve as a parallel (Spiritual Context)?  So we must seek out any potential physical to spiritual parallels of tattooing if they exist to help us understand Spiritual Intent.

What we discover is yes there are several more scriptures that speak to marking your skin.  In fact all of them are righteous examples that demonstrate there is a righteous intent acceptable for marking your skin.  We even discover that Yahuah Himself shows us a spiritual truth in cutting marks or inscriptions into His own skin (anthropomorphically speaking of course)!

The mark on Cain’s Body

In Genesis 4:15 we read: “And Yahuah put a mark/sign (’ôt) on Cain so that anyone who finds him will not kill him.” This permanent mark, a tattoo or brand mark, would have served to protect Cain from those looking to avenge Abel’s death.  So example one of righteous markings on your skin is to serve as divine protection.

Children of Israel tattooing “belonging to Yahuah” on their skin

In Isaiah 44:5, the prophet Isaiah is stressing Yahuah’s covenantal allegiance to Israel and, in turn, the people’s loyalty to Yahuah. The prophet explains that one way for the faithful sons of Yahuah to exhibit their allegiance to Yahuah is to inscribe or tattoo on their hand “belonging to Yahweh” as a permanent mark while they were in captivity.  This was to demonstrate they belonged to Yahuah not slaves to the Babylonians.  Slaves were commonly marked or tattooed to indicate who they belonged to. 

Isaiah 44:5 - Amplified Bible (AMP)
One will say, I am Yahuah’s; and another will call himself by the name of Jacob; and another will write [even brand or tattoo] upon his hand, I am Yahuah’s, and surname himself by the [honorable] name of Israel.

So this is what the children of Israel were doing while being held captive in exile.  Again we see marking the body with a tattoo that expresses “belonging to Yahuah” as a possession of Yahuah is a righteous act.  Even engraving or in scripting into your skin “I am Yahuah’s”.

 

Yahuah tattooing a picture of Zion on the palms of His hands

Later, in Isaiah 49:14–16, the prophet tells the Judean people that Yahuah has not abandoned them any more than a mother really forsakes her babe. As proof, he says, Yahuah has “engraved” on his palms a symbol of a rebuilt Jerusalem—by which he means both the people and the city—thus testifying to the eternal covenant between Israel and Yahauh. This engraving or tattooing would have served as an important sign of Yahuah’s commitment to His people and the hope of restoration to a population in exile.  Just like we are today in exile looking forward to our restoration.
Isaiah 49:14-16 Amplified Bible (AMP)
14 But Zion [Jerusalem, her people as seen in captivity] said, Yahuah has forsaken me, and my Master has forgotten me. 15 [And Yahuah answered] Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yes, they may forget, yet I will not forget you. 16 Behold, I have inscribed (tattooed a picture of) you on the palm of each of My hands; [O Zion] your walls are continually before Me.

Every time Yahuah stretches out His hands He sees the tattoos on the palm of each of His hands that remind Him of His commitment to restore His people.  The Hebrew word used in verse 16 translated “inscribed” or “imprinted” on Yahuah’s hands is Strong’s H2710 which means “to cut out, engrave: to cut in, to cut in or on, cut upon, engrave, inscribe” i.e. tattoo!  We see here a clear spiritual parallel of Yahuah Himself ‘cutting into or on’… engraving the inscription into His hands “a picture of Zion” His chosen people.

We see both the physical shadow of Yahuah’s people tattooing “belonging to Yahuah” on their skin and Yahuah in return engraving or tattooing a picture of them on His hands.

More scriptural examples of tattoos with righteous intent

In Ezekiel 9:4, the prophet Ezekiel is anticipating the destruction of Jerusalem. He pictures six divinely appointed executioners responsible for slaughtering the guilty Judeans in the city. One of the six is told to mark the forehead i.e. tattoo of each righteous person with a tav all those so marked are to be spared from execution. Here, body marking/tattooing distinguishes individuals from the greater group in order to grant them divine protection, ultimately serving the same purposes as did the mark of Cain and the blood sign on the door lintels of the Israelites in Egypt during the execution of the last plague. Since in ancient Israel the letter tav could confer ownership, affiliation with a deity, and/or by extension being a religious functionary, these persons marked may have been distinguished as being in a special relationship with Yahuah.

So when putting “tattooing” into context of the entire Word of Yahuah we find:

1.     It is seen as a righteous act to tattoo or inscribe on your skin “belonging to Yahuah” as a mark of ownership.

2.     Yahuah inscribe or tattoo on His hands a picture of His people as a permanent reminder to Him of His commitment.

3.     marks or tattoos on the skin used to signify divine protection by Yahuah and to signify a special relationship to Yahuah.

4.     that the “mark on the forehead” of Yahuah’s elect is the inscription of His Holy Name in the book of Revelation.

My point here is to demonstrate that anyone who take the restriction of ‘cutting a mark into your skin in honor of the dead in a pagan religious service’ found in Leviticus out of context, and uses a sound bite of that verse to condemn any and everyone with a tattoo… is what I call an untrained judge.  They then set themselves up as a judge over The Law and in the process condemn Yahuah Himself and His Righteous Ones because there is a righteous physical to spiritual clearly defined in scripture for inscribing on your body marks that set you apart and identify you as a prized possession for Yahuah.  Even a spiritual parallel of Yahuah Himself cutting into his own hand a picture of Zion as a permanent reminder.

I have shown how a Righteous Judge approaches the Law to establish the meaning and intent behind the letter by evaluating the letter of the Law in textual context, historical context, scriptural context, and spiritual context to seek out the true Spiritual Intent of the Law.

Let me read the passage in the book of James again.

James 4:11
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers (by using your own personal standards or the letter of the Law without understanding intent).  The one who speaks against a brother or (unrighteously) judges his brother, speaks evil against the Law (because the Law is spiritually appraised by intent not the letter) and judges the Law (unfairly).  But if you judge the Law (by the letter not intent), you are not a (righteous seeking) doer of the (intent of the) Law but a (untrained) judge.

Let me insert into this passage the example of judging another unrighteously for a tattoo based solely on a sound bite letter of the Law not the righteous intent of it.  So here is James 4:11 with comments inserted for context using the specific example of tattoos:

James 4:11
Do not speak evil against one another (for having a tattoo), brothers (by taking a sound bite out of Leviticus and judging him by the letter of the law).  The one who speaks against (or gossips about) a brother (for having a tattoo) or (unrighteously) judges his brother (not by intent but by letter), speaks evil against the Law (because the Law is spiritually appraised) and judges the Law (unfairly saying all tattoos are sin when scripture clearly shows a righteous physical to spiritual parallel for tattooing with the intent of belonging to Yahuah).  But if you (unrighteously) judge the Law (by the letter not establishing spiritual intent), you are not a (righteous seeking) doer of the (intent of the) Law but a (untrained) judge over it.

All those who stand in judgment of tattoos in general without establishing the intent of the person, you are condemning Yahuah for His righteous act of tattooing on the palm of His hands and you are condemning the set apart ones who also tattooed “belonging to Yahuah” on themselves.  You then will be judged by the letter of the Law in return by Yahuah not the spirit intent of the Law.  Seeking obedience to the letter while meditating on the intent behind it brings liberty from the letter alone.

 

 

Example: Meat Sacrificed to Idols and Liberty

The Apostle Paul taught the transposition of The Law from written in stone (defined by physical act) to written on our hearts (defined by Spiritual Intent) just like Yahusha did. Yahusha taught Spiritual Intent giving the examples of adultery, murder, etc. Paul in this case is teaching Spiritual Intent as it applies to meat sacrificed to idols using a very extreme example to prove a very important point.

Spiritual Intent while strengthening The Law also provides "liberty" liberating us from sin defined by physical act because the physical act alone is not sin. It is the "intent" behind the act. Paul uses one of the most extreme examples to teach this concept of "liberty" in light of "intent". Paul is saying that eating meat, the act alone, is not sin. What makes eating that meat a sin is the "spiritual intent of your heart"... if you believe that those idols are gods and eat that meat in an act of worship to them THEN the act of eating meat is a sin of idolatry.  If in your heart you know those gods are not real, it is just meat and the act of eating meat is not a sin.

Paul was tasked to take the Gospel to The Lost Sheep of the House of Israel who were living as pagans. He would have to exercise his "liberty" in order to enter their home, dine with them, and reach them with the Gospel. In that endeavor he no doubt encountered situations where the meal was "sacrificed to an idol" as the home was a pagan home (Temple). Paul, however, knowing The Law was transposed by Yahusha to "intent" could eat that meat because it was JUST MEAT giving him liberty to reach those lost sheep. Paul had to become all things to all men.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23
19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews (The House of Judah) I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under The Law (The House of Judah, or Jews) I became like one under The Law (though I myself am not under the curse of the law, I am under The Yahushaic Covenant and the decrees against me have been covered), so as to win those (Jews) under the law. 21 To those (lost sheep of The House of Israel) not having The Law (as Yahuah had divorced them for breaking The Law) I became like one not having The Law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under The Yahushaic Covenant), so as to win those (of the lost sheep of The House of Israel living as pagan gentiles) not having The Law (exercising his Liberty). 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some (a remnant from both houses). 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

The spiritual intent of Paul or the attitude of Paul's heart was righteous as he in his heart knew that idol was not god but a piece of stone. So the act of eating that meat was therefore not a sin because his attitude was righteous in trying to reach that family thereby cleansing the meat.

1 Corinthians 8
Take Care with Your Liberty
4 Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know (in our heart) that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one (Paul declared The Shema). 5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven (demons parading around as gods) or on earth (men parading around as god incarnate), as indeed there are many gods and many human rulers, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father (again Paul declares The Shema), from whom are all things (created) and we exist for Yahuah; and one King, Yahusha the Messiah, for whom are all things ( are given by inheritance), and we exist through him (in The Yahushaic Covenant as co-heirs).
(Paul just established his attitude of heart when approaching a meal, we are not held to account for another's sin so if someone else sacrificed a piece of meat to an idol the only thing Paul would be held to account for was his own spiritual Intent not that of the person who sacrificed it)
7 However not all men have this knowledge (and in their heart believe the idol is a god); but some, being accustomed to (worshipping) the idol until now, eat food as if it were (their intent) sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience (spiritual intent) being weak is defiled. (it isn't the food that defiles them, it is the intent of their heart, the belief in the idol) 8 But food will not commend us to Yahuah (it isn't the food that is in question it is the spiritual intent behind it); we are neither the worse if we do not eat, nor the better if we do eat. (it is just food) 9 But take care that this liberty (of spiritual intent that Yahusha taught as The Law was transposed to Spirit) of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak (who need milk not solid food as they have not learned physical to spiritual transposition of The Law and still identify sin through physical act not attitude of heart). 10 For if someone (who is weak in faith) sees you (your act), who have knowledge (of spiritual intent and the liberty), dining in an idol’s temple (eating at the home of a pagan as you try and reach them with the Gospel), will not his (the person who sees you) conscience, if he is weak, (does not understand the concept of attitude of heart defines sin not the act) be strengthened to eat things sacrificed to idols? 11 For through your knowledge (of attitude of heart giving you liberty to eat because in your heart you know the god is not real and it is just meat) he who is weak (in the Spiritual Truth of the Law) is ruined, the brother for whose sake Yahusha died. 12 And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, (doesn't have the knowledge of intent over act) you sin against The Yahushaic Covenant. 13 Therefore, if food causes my brother to stumble (because he is not strong in The Yahushaic Covenant and does not understands spiritual intent over physical act), I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

Paul is simply teaching the transposition of The Law and the liberty that provides those whose attitude is righteous when it comes to this physical world and physical acts. Very much like Yahusha and his disciples gathering food on The Sabbath...

Modern day example... Christmas

Christmas is a great example of how to apply what Paul was teaching. As even in his day December 25th was celebrated as the rebirth of the sun and a day of worship to Baal.  The meal they ate on Christmas in worshipping the god-men Christos saviors (all of whom were born on December 25th) would be considered "sacrificed to an idol".

December 25th is a day when my extended family gathers to worship Jesus Christ (the latest incarnation of the sun god-men).  Can I gather with them without being "guilty" of worshipping Baal or the false messiah Jesus? I know in my heart that Baal and Jesus are not god and that December 25th is just another day to me. So I have "liberty" to spend time with my family as that is my "intent" it is not to worship Jesus or Baal. Further more being among family members I rarely see puts me in front of my family members that I may become all things to all men and possibly win them over (which is always my intent).  Below I replace "meat sacrificed to an idol" with the specific example of meat sacrificed to an idol on Christmas Day.

1 Corinthians 8
4 Therefore concerning the gathering together on Christmas Day, we know (in our heart) that there is no such thing as "Jesus was born on Christmas", and that there is no God but one Yahuah not Jesus. 5 For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven (the sun is a god i.e. Baal) or on earth (Jesus parading around in our hearts as god incarnate), as indeed there are many gods and many human demi-gods called Christos, 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father Yahuah, from whom are all things (created) and we exist for Yahuah; and one King, Yahusha the Messiah, for whom are all things (were given as an inheritance), and we exist through The Yahushaic Covenant as co-heirs. (my attitude is that Yahuah alone is God ... Jesus doesn't exist either does Baal, it is just another day to me)
7 However not all men have this knowledge (and view December 25th as a day of worship, a holy day to them); but some, being accustomed celebrating the birth of Jesus until now, celebrate Christmas as if it were (their intent) a day of worshipping Jesus; and their conscience being weak is defiled (on Christmas Day because to them it is a holy day). 8 But gathering with family on a specific day of the year will not commend us to Yahuah; we are neither the worse if we choose not to gather with family on that day, nor the better if we gather with our family on that day. 9 But take care that this liberty of yours (to gather with family on December 25th with the intent to spend time with family not celebrate the birth of Jesus) does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone (weak in faith) sees you, who have knowledge (that it is just another day), having dinner with family on Christmas Day, will not his (the person who sees you) conscience, if he is weak, (thinks you are celebrating Christmas) be strengthened to actually keep Christmas Day as a holy day? 11 For through your knowledge (that it is just another day and your Liberty to gather with family on that day) he who is weak (in the Spiritual Truth of the Law) is ruined (because by your example he thinks it is OK to celebrate the meaning of Christmas), the brother for whose sake Yahusha died. 12 And so, by sinning against the brethren and wounding their conscience when it is weak, (doesn't have the knowledge of Intent over act) you sin against The Yahushaic Covenant. 13 Therefore, if getting together on a Christmas Day causes my brother to stumble (because he is not Strong in The Yahushaic Covenant and understands Spiritual Intent over act), I will never gather on that day again, so that I will not cause my brother to stumble.

 

 

Example: Trimming the corner of your beards

Another example of mis-understanding the "intent of the Law" by taking out of context of history is

Leviticus 19

26You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor practice divination or soothsaying. 27'You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard. 28'You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves: I am the LORD.…

Everything listed above is in context of Idolatry.  Practices the Israelites adopted in captivity in Egypt.  Yet, again, the false doctrine that "men must grow a beard and never trim it" is preached.  Men run around with a long flowing beard as an outward display of Righteousness.  There is no command anywhere in the Torah that a man must grow a beard.  The only command is that if you do grow one, do not "trim the edges".  This is take completely out of context.  So let us "plug that back into historical context". 

Coming our of Egypt, the Israelites picked up practices that were idolatry.  They would shave the sides of their faces "round of the side-growth" and then block off their beards at their chin in fashion of the Egyptian Kings such as King Tut below:

The Egyptian Kings were worshipped as 'gods' and the peopole would express that worship by mimicking the way they looked.  By trimming their beards to look like a King Tut style beard.  That is what this restriction in Leviticus 19 is restricting.  It is "trimming your beard" in an act of worship to an Egyptian King... Idolatry.  It has nothing to do with facial hair growth.  You are neither more righteous for having a beard or less righteous if you do not.  Beards have nothing to do with righteousness.

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