In 1995, at the top of a very successful real estate career (at least from the world’s point of view), the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob began to reveal Himself to me. I had been raised in a Protestant church. My parents were active members and we attended services on Sunday mornings and evenings, as well as Wednesday nights. The church was the center of our lives.
Problem was, when we arrived at home, we put our bibles on a shelf where they remained until we left to go to church the next time. The only prayers that I recall in our home were at the dinner table–to thank God for our food. Mom and Dad were hard-working, respectable citizens who tried to teach us right from wrong. But, despite their attempts, the sad result was that their five teens were all rebellious and we lost a brother to suicide at age eighteen. Even as adults, the typical family gathering ended with my sister or me in tears. We were a mess!
By the time I was 41 years old in 1995, I laced my soft drinks with vodka to be able to endure the family coming to my home for Christmas gatherings or a birthday celebration. I knew that something was very wrong; but I had no idea how to fix it. We all went to church; but the fruit of the spirit was sorely lacking.
My Heavenly Father gently and tenderly led me out of my real estate career that year. It is a miracle story that I tell elsewhere. The bottom line is that I had been absolutely miserable for three years but lacked the guts to walk away from a very comfortable six figure income. Thankfully, Abba intervened and in August 1995, I was free! I have never stopped thanking Him for that mercy!
After I retired, I was deeply depressed for six months. Later I realized my problem: I had bowed down to an idol of my own making for years. It was the image I had created of the woman on the billboard. I didn’t know it; but I was suffering from an identity crisis. Fortunately, my Precious Heavenly Father knew exactly how to get me to see who I really am in Him. He had the adventure perfectly planned. Oddly enough, it all started with a self-help guru who posed the following question:
If you could have anything,
and you knew you could not fail,
what would it look like?
I scribbled the question on a yellow note pad and it lay on my coffee table for months. Every time I dusted, the question begged an answer. The following spring, it dawned on me that when I had first gone into real estate, I loved my job so much that I would have done it whether I was paid or not. I was so passionate about it that I ate, drank, and slept real estate. I enjoyed serving my customers and I enjoyed teaching others what I had learned. The only problem was that once I started making a lot of money, I was never satisfied. Greed took over. My passion turned to obsession, forcing me to run harder, do more, sell more. It was a vicious cycle that nearly consumed me.
I never wanted to go through that again. Yet, deep down inside of me was a desire to be so passionate about something of value that I would do it whether I was paid or not. God has an amazing sense of humor. He used the question written on the yellow pad to trick me into following Him.
A couple of years after I left the world of selling real estate, I was invited to go to Zimbabwe. Up until that time, apart from Sunday School lessons, I had never read the Scriptures. But, that was that about to drastically change! Not long after I arrived, a Zimbabwean brought a small, black book to me, explaining that the LORD had told him I must read it. He said the book was borrowed, that I must read it quickly and return it to him. Curious, I devoured it in one sitting, then read it again before returning it. My life has never been the same since.
The little book was about the call of Abraham. I do not recall who wrote it or its title. What I do recall is that I was riveted by the story and for the first time in my life I wanted to read the Bible. It was as if God had pushed a button in me. For the next two years, 9000 miles away from home, reading the Bible was my priority. I absolutely could not get enough of it! I became enamored of the patriarchs, inspired by Ruth, challenged by Esther, Nehemiah, and Daniel, puzzled by the kings, awed by the prophets, and convicted by the disciples. I saw Jesus in a whole new light…BUT… soon questions began to surface.
It began to dawn on me that when comparing the practices of of the modern church to the instructions in Scripture, huge differences emerged. For instance, the book of Isaiah grabbed me.
Thus says the LORD: “Keep justice, and do righteousness, for soon my salvation will come, and my righteousness be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil. Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say, “The LORD will surely separate me from his people”… And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.” Isaiah 56: 1-8
I continued reading and came to Isaiah 58:
“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Is. 58:13-14
Now mind you, I had no clue at that time of the extent of the “heritage of Jacob your father.” But, somehow I knew it had to be something very wonderful. And who, I asked myself, wouldn’t want want to “ride on the heights of the earth”! Reading through the Psalms, I noted that the authors proclaimed the Word of God to be “eternal” and “forever.” I observed that Moses wrote instructed that keeping Sabbath was not only part of the Ten Commandments, it is to be kept “throughout your generations.”
How, I asked myself, did the Church get so far removed from the instructions? Searching thoroughly, I could find nothing in God’s word which indicated that He made any changes to the commandment to keep the Sabbath. And it made no sense to me whatsoever that God’s promise to bless those who do so would end when Jesus died on the cross.
My response to my questions was to go to my pastor in Zimbabwe. He explained that Sunday is the “Christian Sabbath” in honor of the resurrection of our Savior. I was not exactly satisfied with his answer; but, because I considered him far more knowledgeable than myself, I chose to accept his explanation. However, my questions did not go away.
Surprisingly, in spite of my pastor’s answer, the Word of God gripped me and began to change me. Suddenly, I felt convicted for “doing my own pleasure” on Sunday, which my pastor had convinced me was “the LORD’s day.” Whereas, I was accustomed to going to church at 8:00 a.m., then going to a nearby café in Harare afterwards, where I feasted on cheeseburgers, fries, and a Diet Coke before driving across town to a brand new movie theater that broadcast American videos (thereby alleviating, at least to a degree, my homesickness), suddenly I could no longer do those things. My new routine was to prepare food in advance, go to church, come home and eat, and spend the rest of the day reading the Bible or reading books about the Bible. It was peaceful, restful, and enjoyable for me; but more importantly, the LORD’s pleasure was palpable. Soon, I did not miss my former routine at all.
After I returned to America, I lived with my mother and step-father for a couple of years and attended church with them. I could not go with them to go to restaurants after church or shopping. Obedience to this and other commandments caused some conflict with my stepfather and eventually I moved out. But, my mother was so affected by the changes in my life that she began to read the Bible for herself as well. She literally ran down the church aisle one day after a message about wheat and tares, confessing that she was a tare and that God had opened her eyes.
In 2003, I was invited to visit a home Bible study where I met a dozen or so Sabbath keepers, all raised in Protestant churches, who had been provoked to read their Bibles for themselves. I was quite shocked to learn that not only did they keep the Seventh Day Sabbath, they kept the Feasts of the LORD described in Lev. 23. Even more shocking was that they did not observe Christmas or Easter. To my great dismay, they informed me of the pagan origins of these and other traditional holidays.
Further, they also abstained from eating any animals which Scripture calls “unclean.” I don’t mind telling you this was quite the rude awakening for someone who had been reared on a hog farm and grew up eating some form of pork at virtually every meal!
For nearly a year my life was full of great turmoil. I knew I had to make a decision. Would I continue in the comfortable path of tradition or would I choose the “narrow way”? While it was relatively easy for me to make the switch to keeping the Seventh Day holy because of how God had led me in Zimbabwe, the issue of God’s other holy days took some thought. I knew my family would have a fit if I stopped eating ham and celebrating Christmas. So, for the rest of that year, I continued going to church; but, in addition, I began observing the Sabbath and studying the Torah according to the Jewish annual cycle, in addition to digging into the whole Bible more than ever.
About a year later, God forced my decision. The pastor of the church I was attending got wind of the fact that several members of his congregation, including myself, intended to celebrate Passover in 2004 rather than Easter. He became frightened and initiated a series of messages to try to counteract it. Finally, one Sunday, he went so far as to say that anyone who keeps the Sabbath cannot be saved. I knew then I could never go back.
That day my journey into the wilderness began in earnest. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am extremely grateful to have been raised in a Christian family. I shutter to think where I would be personally and, more importantly, where the world would be without the Church!! After all, it was believers, for the most part, who founded America. It was believers who originated most of the schools and colleges in our nation, not to mention hospitals and orphanages, as well as a plethora of ministries to help the poor and needy.
Yet, I had no doubt that something is lacking in modern day Christianity and God was leading me out, even as He had led Abraham out of the land of Babylon 3700 years before.
I spent three years reading everything I could get my hands in regard to those who had kept Sabbath throughout history. In addition, I studied the history of ancient and modern Israel. I even studied World History, World Literature, and Humanities at the local college. The end result was that I became convinced that while the Church had in general done a very good job of loving our neighbor as ourselves through its many hands reaching out to the poor, abandoned, hungry, homeless, helpless, sick, and lonely, it had not done such a good job of loving God by keeping His commandments, as Jesus/Yeshua enjoined His disciples. Instead, we had proclaimed to the world that God’s commandments had been done away with. Further, I saw that instead of laying down our lives for our brothers, the Jewish people, we had mistakenly supposed that we had replaced them and wrongly assumed that all of the Bible’s promises now belonged to the Church.
Soon, it dawned on me that the Torah (Law of God) was given in the Garden of Eden, renewed on Mount Sinai, and is applicable to all people today. How else could Abel have known how to offer a sacrifice that was pleasing to God? How else do you reconcile the conversation between God and Cain? When God admonished Cain in regard to sin, Cain did not respond with the question, “What is sin?”Therefore, it seems to me, that sin had by that time been clearly defined by the Creator. In other words, Cain knew what was right and correct according to God’s “law,” His Torah. The Apostle John saw it exactly the same way 4000 years as he wrote 1 John 3:4. “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.”
It was the following verse that pried my slumbering eyes open to begin to receive this truth:
“…Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge,
my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” Gen. 26:5
Wow! How, I asked, could Abraham keep the commandments if they were not given until his descendants came to Mount Sinai hundreds of years later?
Before long, Abba opened my eyes to see that instead of being grafted into an organization that is separate from the Jewish people, rather, all who believe God, Jew and gentile alike, are grafted into the congregation of Israel, the once-green olive tree (Jer. 11:16). Jesus/Yeshua came to pay the price for the lawlessness of the Green Olive Tree and to call gentiles to be grafted into redeemed Israel, the “light of the world” and His treasured possession. This is exactly what Paul teaches in Eph. 2:12.
By learning to use a free Bible search program, I soon learned that God identifies Himself as “the God of Israel” over 200 times; and that He says there is one set of instructions “for the native and the stranger.” Exodus 12:49, Numbers 15:16, 29
After much reading and study, I concluded that both Judaism and Christianity had veered far away from the “faith once delivered to the saints” Jude 1:3 and that I was the most blessed person on the planet to be able to hear God’s call to return Him.
After a thorough search, I became convinced that God is very specific as to what is acceptable to Him in regard to worship and that He is no more pleased with the pagan elements that Christianity has thrown into the mix than He was with the Israelites’ additions of the ways of the nations around them.
Finally, in the fall of 2006, I finally informed my siblings that I would no longer be attending Christmas or Easter celebrations, and, further, I admitted to them that I had been observing the Sabbath and God’s dietary instructions. They were shocked and dismayed, thinking I had left the Christian faith and was trying to be Jewish.
Nevertheless, I have been continually refreshed by drinking from the pure fountain of Living Water and eating the Unleavened Bread, that is, the pure Word of God, free of the doctrines and traditions of men that make the Word of God of no effect, according to Jesus Christ/Yeshua Himself.
During these intervening years, God has made Himself very real to me. And though my path has been very difficult at times, His faithfulness has sustained me.
Part of His grace has been to discover there are a growing multitude of many people from many nations throughout the U.S. and worldwide (see map at bottom of this page) who have also been prompted to read their Bibles for themselves and depart from errant tradition.
Recognizing the turmoil that often follows the realization that the divine mandate to “come out from among them and be ye separate” (2 Cor. 6:17) means to forsake non-biblical traditions and return to the ways of our God, it is my goal with this blog to educate my brothers and sisters about the “good news” of being full citizens of the Kingdom of God and heirs to the promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
This is not to say we have replaced the Jewish people, but, rather to emphasize, precisely as Paul taught, that by the grace of the shed blood of Yeshua, “whosoever will” is welcome to enter the Kingdom of God and be made co-heirs to its promises along with all who believe. Those who do are, therefore, part and parcel of the “chosen” (Gal. 3:29). As privileged full citizens of the Kingdom of God, we are obligated to learn and obey its rules, which is God’s Torah, just as immigrants to the United States, or any other nation, are expected to learn today.
How do we this? Little by little, line upon line, with fervent study and prayer. And the best place to begin is to join other Sabbath keepers in setting apart God’s holy day by hearing the instructions God gave to Moses for His people. This is no different from the advice given to first century converts. ” For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:21)
This blog is not intended as a be-all, end-all interpretation of the Scriptures. Rather, it is meant to convey my own personal search for truth and to introduce a Hebraic viewpoint. Please do your own research. Please do not merely accept what any teacher concludes. You are responsible to know the Scriptures.
Don’t fear taking time out to do your own study of these things. Even the great and learned Paul found it necessary to go into the desert of Arabia for three years to begin to separate the reality of the Word of God from the entanglement and encumbrance of the traditions of men after the scales fell from his eyes. Later Paul commended the Bereans as being more honorable because they were likewise “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11) For more on this, please read my article Examining the Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
No immigrant to the USA receives an automatic “download” of the proper understanding of his new culture when he receives his visa or residency permit. To the contrary, while he is free to operate and move about in his new status, he is most certainly expected to obey the laws of the land. While an extra measure of grace is often extended to the uninformed newbie, the time will definitely arrive when ignorance will not be excused.
If he desires to possess a valid driver’s license and avoid accidents and traffic citations, he will learn the laws regarding automobile travel. If he wishes to avoid being harassed by the IRS and if he desires to accumulate credit towards Social Security retirement income, he will learn the laws that concern him in regard to the workplace. If he wants to own his own business and avoid fines and legal fees for improper activity, he will study the laws that apply to him and conduct himself accordingly. If he wants to remodel a house without government interference, he will apply for a permit and hire contractors who know the state and local building codes. Therefore, the blessings and curses that he receives in his new homeland are, for the most part, in direct response to his actions.
In much the same way, the rules of the Kingdom of God are its constitution and by-laws. The peace, safety, prosperity, and welfare of the nation of Israel is dependent upon each citizen being diligent to learn his responsibility to God and to our fellowman. (Deuteronomy 28)
My beliefs and practices have evolved year after year as I have continued to passionately pursue the Word of God and our Redeemer, which cannot be separated, and which have both been obscured by layers of tradition. This is the pearl of great price of which Jesus/Yeshua spoke. I hope I have provoked you to do whatever you must do to “find” it.
Thanks for stopping by!