Florida has another gift from God that's very beautiful and greatly enjoyed by visitors and residents alike. They're natural springs that well up from the ground. Usually the waters from these springs are crystal clear and cold. You can see examples of these at this link: Springs in Florida.
These springs, to my mind, are analogous to what we learn from the good book, especially from that "eternal spring" called Torah.
Sometimes believers argue as to whether Torah should be followed or not. For me there's no question. Torah literally means "instructions and guidelines". These are the almighty God's instructions and guidelines, folks! Most Bible translations incorrectly use the word "Law" when Torah should be used and some people claim the Law (Torah) is dead. The truth is, nowhere in the B'rit Hadashah (NT) does it tell us that Torah has been negated, overruled, or done away with. In fact, it says the opposite. But more on that later.
Most of the Florida springs have become state parks or privately owned tourist attractions. A small, nominal fee is all it takes to enjoy these wonders. Fences are in place, not to keep people out necessarily, but for the protection of the wildlife and the spring head. In the Tanahk (OT), the Prophets job was not to "predict the future", but to gather the flock and rally them back into the protective "fence" of Torah, though Torah does not fence people out, but rather defines the safe place to "reside". When the Israelites of old fell prey to their human weaknesses, like all of us do, and began to behave like the pagan nations around them, the Prophets were there to corral them back within the protection of Torah. Not all returned to Torah. The history of the Israelites is well documented in the Tanahk. God's chosen have been spread out amongst the pagan nations of the entire world and are only now beginning to be collected back within the promised land. (Ezekiel 37)
As with all of us, it takes a resolute decision to enter the narrow gate to purchase your ticket and partake of the spring. (Matt. 7:13,14; Luke 13:24) Don't worry if you can't afford the cost. It has already been paid. (Rev. 21:6, Rev. 22:17)
Even when some people enter the gate and approach the spring they're hesitant. These folks get to the edge and dip their toes in. It's unfamiliar to them and it may feel cold and distant. They don't seem to understand the cleansing attributes of the spring. Fear is their master and as we all know, we cannot serve two masters. (Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13) Their teachers tell them not to go any farther. Their teachers say ankle deep is good enough and will suffice.
Others go in to the waist and go no further, afraid about what might happen if they trust Yehovah' and go deeper. They forget that this spring was written by Yeshua Himself, given to Moshe (Moses) as a guide for us to live by. They forget that God does not lie to us and does not instruct us wrongly, so they make up reasons why they can't go any deeper. They even make up their own "spring" writings telling us how going deeper means death! They begin to build a fence around Torah to keep people out! The fence these men build is of barbed-wire and instead of keeping people safe it does harm!
As we continue towards the spring head we see people standing chest deep, their feet planted firmly on the ground. The numbers of these folks are few, unlike the first two groups. The waters surround them and they can feel it's wonderful flow. These folks don't have to make up their own writings but can enjoy the full mikveh (baptism, cleansing, renewal) of the spring at any time, with feet planted firmly on the ground of truth. No additional writings or rules are needed, they have Torah and they understand that His commandments are not burdensome! (1 John 5) They have been set free.
So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." They answered Him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You will become free'?" Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. "The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever.
John 8:36 "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.
And still, further out, in the deepest spring waters are people treading water, furiously trying to stay afloat. They are in over their heads and they are getting tired! Their teachers have made up rules for them and if they do not wish to drown they must follow the rules! For these folks, the spring of Torah has become a ritual of following orders pertaining to every minutiae of existence. They have made Torah to be of no effect! It no longer cleanses but makes one tired and unable to enjoy Torah. Their teachers tell them that more fencing is needed to surround Torah. They call this additional fencing Oral Law, Takanot, and Ma'asim. (See also: Mishnah) The first two groups don't realize it, but they have their own versions of Oral Law, Takanot, and Ma'asim, as well.
These collective groups, who fence in Torah, have added man-made rules concerning God's "Law". Torah, btw, proclaims that we shall not add to, or take away from Torah! (Deut. 12:32; Rev. 22:18) The leaders of these groups literally tell you which pant leg to put on first when getting dressed, which sock and shoe to put on your feet first, and how far you may walk on Shabbat while carrying necessities. Some of the groups say that God was wrong about the 7th Day! That the pagan day, Sunday, should be your day to worship Him. They tell you to celebrate His birthday on the most pagan day of the pagan calendar, Dec. 25th! They tell you to celebrate His resurrection on the first Sunday after the spring equinox and name the celebration after a pagan fertility goddess, called Easter! They tell you to ignore His commanded Feast days and His reckoning of the calendar year!
Do I state this things with pride? That, because I know better now, I have some sort of inside information? No, on the contrary - God forbid! (Romans 3:31) Because, I was just like these people I'm describing at one time - convinced that man knew better than God!
By now, you may begin to see these folks as real people in real belief systems. The only group described that can truly enjoy Torah without man's interference is the group that is chest deep with feet firmly planted on the ground of truth. Only they have the freedom to enjoy Torah without floundering or without hesitancy.
The real losers in this analogy are the ones outside who dare not approach the spring of Torah. They and their teachers are actually described this way in the Bible:
Matt. 5:17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law (Torah) or the Prophets (the rest of the O.T.) ; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.
(the context of the word "fulfill" is used here to mean; "to bring to it's full potential", that is, to make what was taught in the Tanahk true and practiced throughout the world. This will happen in the 1,000 year reign, enforced with a rod of iron, by the way!) (Psalm 2; Rev. 2)
Matt. 5:18 "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law (Torah) until all is accomplished.
(Do we still slaughter animals for sacrificial purposes? No, and it never was a propitiation for sin, but this verse says that the instructions to do so is valid and was a shadow picture of good things to come! Our Sacrificial Lamb is Yeshua! Is the Jerusalem Temple still in place? No, it is not, but may be again in the future! The active, ongoing fulfillment of Torah does not invalidate Torah! If you believe it does then you are actually saying Yehovah'-Yeshua made a terrible mistake in instituting Torah or that all of Torah has been fulfilled - brought to it's full potential. Has Yeshua returned? Is He ruling the nations with an iron rod? No! Then obviously, Torah is still in force and all His Feast Days are yet to be fulfilled!)
Matt 5:19 "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
(Did you get that folks? Whoever keeps (does) the commandments and teaches others to DO them! Does this say the Torah has been done away with?)
What "commandments" are we talking about here? The commandments in the Torah just mentioned in verse 18! Do you really wish to be the one who annuls a commandment and teaches others to annul them?
[Study Hint: Please do this at home. Get your handy-dandy e-Sword or some other Bible study program and do a search in the NT on the word "commandment" and "commandments". You will be amazed! The NT is full of verses telling us we must follow Torah! And just what is the warning Yeshua gives over and over again? Do not follow men and what they say!]
Remember the folks standing chest deep in the eternal spring of Torah, with their feet firmly planted on the ground of truth? What have they been freed from? They have been freed from the shackles of man's religion! They have come to the spiritual realization that man's rules, denominations, religions, sects, oral law, etc. are ALL unnecessary when they have Torah. Do you go to church or synagogue for fellowship and worship or do you go for guidance from man? "Fellowship and worship" should be your answer, because man is incapable of providing instruction. The ONLY VALID INSTRUCTION IS FROM GOD - TORAH!
This is why Hebrews 8 states the following:
For every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices; so it is necessary that this high priest also have something to offer. Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, "SEE," He says, "THAT YOU MAKE all things ACCORDING TO THE PATTERN WHICH WAS SHOWN YOU ON THE MOUNTAIN."
(a reference to animal sacrifice and the "Levitical" Tabernacle - which is no longer in use)
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second. For finding fault with them, He says, "BEHOLD, DAYS ARE COMING, SAYS THE LORD, WHEN I WILL EFFECT A NEW COVENANT WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AND WITH THE HOUSE OF JUDAH; NOT LIKE THE COVENANT WHICH I MADE WITH THEIR FATHERS ON THE DAY WHEN I TOOK THEM BY THE HAND TO LEAD THEM OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT; FOR THEY DID NOT CONTINUE IN MY COVENANT, AND I DID NOT CARE FOR THEM, SAYS THE LORD.
"FOR THIS IS THE COVENANT THAT I WILL MAKE WITH THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AFTER THOSE DAYS, SAYS THE LORD: I WILL PUT MY LAWS (Torah) INTO THEIR MINDS, AND I WILL WRITE THEM ON THEIR HEARTS. AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
"AND THEY SHALL NOT TEACH EVERYONE HIS FELLOW CITIZEN, AND EVERYONE HIS BROTHER, SAYING, 'KNOW THE LORD,' FOR ALL WILL KNOW ME, FROM THE LEAST TO THE GREATEST OF THEM. "FOR I WILL BE MERCIFUL TO THEIR INIQUITIES, AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE."
Heb. 8:13 When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear.
(Jeremiah 31; Exodus 25:40; Psalm 110)
Who and what did the Almighty find fault with? Men! Man fenced in the pure waters of the Spring of Torah so now a "New" (renewed) Covenant will be fulfilled. Has this New Covenant been brought to it's full potential? Do we still have "teachers" teaching his fellow citizen? In fact, we do! When Yeshua returns and fulfills the last 3 Fall Feasts, Romans 8 will be completely brought into it's full potential.
Please do not misunderstand what I'm saying in this blog entry. Following Torah will NOT enhance your Salvation one iota! (Galatians 2:15; James 2:17) It is simply a guideline, a set of instructions to keep one on the narrow path. For if you love Him, you will obey His commandments. Otherwise you will not obey His Torah and you do not love Him. By acknowledging Torah and being obedient you are becoming intimate with Yeshua, which you should desire! All of this brings us to one important, potentially life-altering question:
DO YOU FOLLOW GOD, OR Man?
Hat Tip to my beloved Tigress who edited this entry!
Hat Tip to my beloved Tigress who edited this entry!