Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
The Coming Polarization
The continuing attempt to redefine sin and morality is one cause of the coming polarization. A second cause is the (re)emergence and growth of the true Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God. The true Ecclesia puts a strong emphasis on returning to the old paths of the Patriarchs and Prophets. Those of us in the Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God urge people to rediscover, retrieve, and reclaim the commandments of the Torah, with a special emphasis on the Sabbath, Feasts, dietary laws, and other miscellaneous commandments that mainstream Christians ignore.
by HOIM Staff
At certain times in history YEHOVAH God draws the proverbial line in the sand and tells His people to quit sitting on the fence and decide which side they are on.
"Who is on YEHOVAH's side?" Moses said. "Let him come unto me" (Exodus 33:26).
"Choose this day whom ye will serve," Joshua said, "whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve YEHOVAH" (Joshua 24:15).
"How long halt ye between two opinions?" Elijah asked. "If YEHOVAH be God, follow Him: but if Baal, then follow him" (1 Kings 18:21).
"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth," Yeshua said. "I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34).
I believe the hour is coming, and now is, when the spirit will bring about a polarization among those who claim to be Bible-believing Christians. I say this because I see the Christian faith morphing into two forms that are antithetical to one another.
One form into which Christianity is morphing is that form which is known as the true Church (Ecclesia) of YEHOVAH God (or, as some would have it, the Hebrew roots movement, or the Torah restoration movement, or some similar descriptive moniker). The true Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God puts a strong emphasis on returning to the old paths of the Patriarchs and Prophets. Those of us in the Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God urge people to rediscover, retrieve, and reclaim the commandments of the Torah, with a special emphasis on the Sabbath, Feasts, dietary laws, and other miscellaneous commandments that mainstream Christians ignore (not because these are the most important of all YEHOVAH's commandments, but because they are among the most neglected of YEHOVAH's commandments).
The other form into which the Christian faith is morphing is the exact opposite. Instead of returning, retrieving, and reclaiming the commandments which were long ago discarded by the Church, some of today's "Christian" leaders want to discard even more of the commandments of YEHOVAH God -- not only commandments found in the Old Testament, but commandments of the New Testament as well.
"Christian" leaders who advocate the discarding of Biblical commandments are not using scissors or White-Out correction fluid to remove the commandments from their Bibles. They are not even denying the inspiration of the Scriptures -- not exactly, anyway. They agree that the Bible's authors were inspired by YEHOVAH God to write the things that they wrote. However, they view the writing of the Bible as a Wikipedia-like project.
For those not familiar with Wikipedia, it is an ever-changing online encyclopedia. Anyone with a computer and Internet access can go to the Wikipedia encyclopedia site and write new articles, rewrite articles, revise information, or remove information.
One Christian author describes the Wikipedia approach this way: "In our Bible, God did what God has always done: he spoke in Moses' days in Moses' ways, in Micah's days in Micah's ways, in Jesus' days in Jesus' ways. Which meant, when Paul came around, Paul got to speak in Paul's ways for Paul's days, and when John put quill to parchment, he was freed up to speak in John's ways for John's days."1
This same author discusses the popular "That was then, but this is now" approach toward the Bible's instructions.2 According to this trendy approach, it is not a matter of simply doing what the inspired Scriptures instruct us to do. Rather, we are told, we are supposed to discern which instructions are inspired for us, in our time and in our culture: "The church of every age is summoned by God to the Bible to listen so we can discern a pattern for living the gospel that is appropriate for our age."3
The great danger in this approach is that just about any Biblical commandment can be dismissed by simply saying that it is not appropriate for our age and in our culture. For example, in our 21st-century American culture, homosexual behavior is becoming more and more acceptable to the general population. It is even admired by many heterosexuals. Therefore the Biblical commandment that forbids this abominable sin can be dismissed by saying that those commandments simply don't work in 21st-century America, that expecting homosexuals to stop their sexual activity is unrealistic and hinders them from accepting the gospel.
I am not being an alarmist, nor is this a hypothetical exaggeration. A headline in last summer's Media Spotlight says "Lesbian Christian singer okayed by Ted Haggard."4 The article tells about the appearance of Jennifer Knapp, a very popular "Christian" singer, on Larry King Live last April. This young lady claims to be a born-again Christian and insists that there is nothing wrong with her lesbian behavior.
What do lesbians and sodomites who claim to believe the Bible say to justify behavior which the Bible plainly calls an abomination? Some years ago liberal minister William Sloane Coffin pointed out that the word "abomination" is the very same word the Bible uses to describe eating pork.
"That doesn't seem to stop modern-day Christians from eating bacon," states a Universalist Unitarian minister, "so clearly when we look at those old scriptural laws, we have to do some interpretation for contemporary times."5
If Christians insist on the right to continue eating their bacon, then the sodomites and lesbians have a valid point. In effect the homosexuals are saying that if heterosexual Christians can ignore certain Torah commandments that they do not want to obey, then the homosexuals should have that same right.
Here's another tactic that "Christian" homosexuals use to justify their actions. Evangelicals Concerned, an organization of evangelical sodomites founded in 1975, publishes a pamphlet called "What Jesus Said about Homosexuality." You open the pamphlet and it's blank inside.6 The implication is that the Messiah never condemned homosexuality, so Christians have no right to say that it's sinful.
Here is my two-fold response to the claim that the Messiah never said anything about homosexuality. First, How do you know the Messiah never said anything about homosexuality? The four Gospels do not record every single word the Messiah ever uttered, so how can you claim that he never said anything about homosexuality? Second, he did in fact condemn homosexuality every single time he affirmed the truth, the inspiration, and the authority of the Torah (Old Testament). He did not need to reiterate every single commandment in the Torah. He affirmed the Torah, and the Torah says homosexuality is an abomination. Therefore Yeshua the Messiah considered it an abomination.
If homosexuality is acceptable because there is no written record of the Messiah specifically condemning it by name, then incest, bestiality, and witchcraft are also acceptable, because there is no written record of the Messiah condemning these specific sins by name. A pervert who wanted to commit incest or bestiality could print a pamphlet titled "What Jesus Said about Incest" or "What Jesus Said about Bestiality," leave the inside blank, practice his perversity and tell "judgmental Christians" to go to hell for "judging" him.
I'm not picking on homosexuals. There are other abominations in the Church, but I mention homosexuality because it is one of the hot topics currently being debated by some evangelical leaders. There are influential evangelical leaders who are asking if homosexuality should still be considered sinful in 21st-century America. For those who truly believe the Bible, this is a no-brainer and should not even be open to debate.
If homosexuals truly repent and stop their homosexual activity, we can accept them as brothers. But if they insist on continuing their homosexual activity, we cannot condone their behavior, because YEHOVAH God condemns it. Balaam said that he could not curse that which YEHOVAH God has blessed. The reverse is equally true. We cannot bless that which YEHOVAH God has cursed.
I see two major causes of the coming polarization. One cause is Christian leaders questioning long-held Christian definitions of sin. The longest-held Christian definition of sin is the Bible's definition in 1 John 3:4: "Sin is the transgression of the law." To transgress means to step over the line, to go beyond the boundaries that YEHOVAH God has established by His commandments. Christian leaders say that we live in a changing world, and that we need to take a different approach and "engage our culture" to make Biblical faith relevant to people who live in these post-modern times.
There's nothing wrong with taking a different approach and experimenting with new methods of evangelism and outreach. However, if we accept and condone behavior that YEHOVAH God condemns, and tolerate it in YEHOVAH's house, then we are straying outside the boundaries of YEHOVAH's commandments and transgressing the law. And sin is the transgression of the law.
If we ignore the Biblical definition of sin, then we end up modifying and diluting YEHOVAH's Word and reinterpreting His commandments to accommodate the immorality of our steadily-decaying culture. If YEHOVAH's Word is modified and diluted to accommodate fornication and homosexuality today, it can be modified and diluted to accommodate incest, bestiality, and witchcraft tomorrow.
About thirty years ago I heard someone say something like this: You tell me what the world accepts and approves of today, and I'll tell you what the Church will accept and approve of fifteen or twenty years from now.
Bible-believing Christians normally have higher moral standards than unbelievers do. But as the unbelieving world gradually lowers its moral standards a notch at a time, the Church likewise lowers its moral standards a notch at a time. The Church still has a higher moral standard than that of the unbelieving world, but the Church is really doing nothing more than maintaining the distance. In about fifteen or twenty years, the Church will have lowered its moral standards to the current moral standards of today's unbelieving world.
The problems that liberal Christian leaders point out are real. Most 21st-century Americans don't want to go to church, at least not to traditional church services. Church is boring. Church is irrelevant. Church is a waste of time. Churches want your money, your time, and your commitment. Churches are just social clubs. Churches are full of hypocrites. And on and on the criticism goes. Sadly, much of the criticism is legitimate. Christian leaders recognize the existence of the problems, but the solutions that some leaders are suggesting are just plain wrong, because the solutions they are suggesting amount to simply lowering the bar, lowering the standards that are set forth in YEHOVAH God's eternal Word.
This attempt to redefine sin and morality is one cause of the coming polarization. A second cause is the (re)emergence and growth of the true Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God.
It was in the early 1970s when I first started keeping the Sabbath and Feasts, quit eating unclean flesh (Leviticus 11), and started keeping more of YEHOVAH's laws as they came to my understanding That was almost forty years ago. Back then, it was easy for Christians to dismiss the true Ecclesia's way of life as a mere oddity at best or as heresy at worst.
It's easy to dismiss and ignore one family in the true Ecclesia, or even one small congregation of true believers. But over the past forty years, the true Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God has grown in numbers and in influence. More and more Christians are becoming aware of YEHOVAH's Ecclesia. Those who have an ear to hear are waking up and hearing what the spirit saith unto the churches through YEHOVAH's Ecclesia.
Christians are listening to the things being proclaimed by teachers from the true Ecclesia, and they are asking questions. I believe students are asking their professors and that church members are asking their pastors questions: "Why don't we keep the Sabbath? Are Christmas and Easter really adapted from pagan holidays? Why do we Christians pick and choose which Old Testament commandments we're still supposed to obey? Why are we told we must obey some of the Old Testament commandments, but should ignore others?"
I believe that pastors and professors are being confronted with honest questions like these. As more and more Christians ask about these things, Christian leaders will have to respond. As the true Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God continues to grow, leaders will need to decide whether this Ecclesia is of YEHOVAH God or of the devil.
When discussing the question of Christians keeping Old Testament commandments, it is not a Yes or No question; it is a question of which ones. Some "Christian" leaders are suggesting that we discard commandments (even New Testament commandments) that are not compatible with 21st-century American culture. Some even go so far as to say that obeying certain New Testament commandments will actually hinder the gospel. For example, there is this ludicrous claim made by one "Christian" author that "insisting on head coverings does as much (if not more) damage to the gospel today as not wearing head coverings did in the first century! How so? If we demand women do something so totally contrary to culture that non-Christians are offended or turned off, we should reconsider what we are doing. Paul didn't want the dress of Christian women to bring a bad name to the gospel, so he asked them to wear head coverings [Correction: He didn't ask them; he commanded them by inspiration of the holy spirit. -- DB ]; by contrast, demanding women to wear head coverings in our world may do the very same damage to the gospel. (In fact, I'm quite sure it would.)"7
Using this line of reasoning, we could justify the discarding of any Biblical commandment that is contrary to our culture and that offends and turns off some non-Christians. I can think of a few New Testament commandments that are contrary to 21st-century American culture and that offend and turn off some non-Christians: the commandment to "proselytize" (i.e., preach the gospel and make disciples) (Mark 16:15); the commandment to abstain from drunkenness (Romans 13:13); the commandment to abstain from extra-marital sex (1 Corinthians 6:18); the commandment for wives to obey their husbands (Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:5, 1 Peter 3:1-6); the commandment to preserve the marriage bond (1 Corinthians 7:10f); the commandment to sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19); the commandment to not be a friend of the world and to love not the world (James 4:4, 1 John 2:15).
All of the above commandments are contrary to 21st-century American culture. Insisting on obedience to these commandments can offend and turn off some non-Christians. Yet most Bible-believing Christians would agree (verbally, at least) that most -- if not all -- of these commandments are important. But for some reason, the claim is made that the woman's head covering can actually "damage the gospel." (I have heard testimonies from women telling how their head coverings opened doors to share the gospel and to pray for strangers who approached them and asked about the head covering. When seekers see a woman wearing a modest dress and a head covering, they often suspect she may be a holy woman of YEHOVAH God.)
In effect, Christians who want to discard more commandments are saying that YEHOVAH's commandments are not a sure thing, that they do not stand forever. But what does the Bible say? "All His commandments are sure. They stand fast forever and ever" (Psalm 111:7f).
Christians need to decide whether they believe this statement in Psalm 111 or their leaders who say that YEHOVAH's commandments are not a sure thing, that they do not stand forever and ever.
This challenge and call to choose whom you will serve, to no longer halt between two opinions, is indeed a polarizing call. Because of the polarizing nature of the message of the true Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God, some Christians might accuse true believers of being trouble-makers. But the real trouble-makers are revealed in the story of Elijah's meeting with King Ahab.
When Ahab finally encountered Elijah after three and a half years of drought, he said to Elijah, "Art thou he that troubleth Israel?"
"I have not troubled Israel," Elijah replied, "but thou and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of YEHOVAH" (1 Kings 18:17f).
Before YEHOVAH God and His Messiah return, "Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things;" Yeshua said (Matthew 17:11). Those of us in the true Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God want to be in harmony with the spirit of Elijah. The spirit of Elijah knows that the trouble-makers are those who have forsaken the commandments of YEHOVAH God. Therefore we are calling YEHOVAH's people to return to the commandments of YEHOVAH God, not to forsake even more of His commandments.
If you are a Christian who is undecided about the Ecclesia of YEHOVAH God and all this Torah (Old Testament) stuff, you are going to have to make up your mind and decide which side you are on in this coming polarization. If you are convinced that our message is a hell-spawned heresy, say so. Otherwise, come on board and join us in this exciting work of restoration!
1. Scot McKnight, The Blue Parakeet (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 63.
2. Ibid., 27f & 117-120.
3. Ibid., 129
4. AI Dager, "Lesbian Christian singer okayed by Ted Haggard," Media Spotlight Vol. 33, No. 2, p. 5.
5. Michael Miller, "Religious right, left clash on gays," Peoria Journal Star, 11/10/1996, B7 col. 3,
6. A.J. Jacobs, The Year of Living Biblically (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 266.
7. Scot McKnight, 198.
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